Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Day in My Life as a College Senior

As you may know, I'm a senior in college at a small liberal arts school in Florida, where I'm studying literature and theology. In addition to taking 16 credits, I work 12 hours a week, as a student worker at the library and also as a writing tutor. As for extracurriculars, I'm part of a household (basically a prayer-based sisterhood... kind of like a small group or the Catholic school version of a sorority?), I sing in the acapella group, and I volunteer as a catechism teacher in a nearby town once a week.

Between homework and all these commitments, not to mention things like eating, sleeping, socializing, and keeping in touch with people back home, you could definitely say college keeps me busy! But it's a good kind of busy (most of the time ;), and I live an enriching, fulfilling, and fun life here at school ~ and I love it.

So let's get a little close-up of that life right now!

Here's a typical Monday or Wednesday for me:

7:00am: Wake up and pray morning prayer with my household

7:15-8:15am: Shower and get ready for the day

8:30am: Eat breakfast at the cafeteria

9:00-11:50am: Do homework, emails, blog stuff, etc. at the library

12:00-1:05pm: Class (20th Century Literature)

1:15pm: Eat lunch

1:45-3:35pm: Do homework, emails, blog stuff, etc. at the library

3:45-4:50pm: Class (Metaphysics)

5:00pm: Go to Mass

5:40pm: Eat dinner

7:00-10:00pm: Work at the library (where, most of time, I can do homework)
  • On Mondays: 7:00-8:00pm: Acapella rehearsal, followed by work
10:00pm: Wind down in my room: watch an episode or two of a show, do spiritual reading, get ready for bed

11:00pm: Go to sleep

So there you have it: a typical Monday or Wednesday in my life as a college senior this semester. Now I'm off to enjoy my much-needed and long-awaited fall break for the next few days!

What does a typical day look like for you?


Friday, October 14, 2016

September Recap and October Goals

Hey there, friends! I know I've been a little MIA lately, barely managing to publish one post a week for the last month or so. Learning to balance blogging with all my responsibilities here at school (homework, work, commitments, etc), on top of getting enough sleep, making time for friends and family, and having down time, has certainly been a challenge.

The last 2 weeks especially have been an absolute rollercoaster ride with lots of ups and downs. The ups were awesome: my 21st birthday, my family coming to visit for a weekend, and two super fun nights out with friends. But the downs were just like an endless stream of sucker punches: a super busy schedule, having four papers due within a week, immediately followed by a midterm, and also some personal / emotional struggles.

Basically everything in the world was happening all at once, and it was at some times very stressful and exhausting (as evidenced by the cold sore I woke up with the other day), but at other times super exciting and joyful.

Thankfully, I'm now at a point where I have some room to breathe, because my mid-semester craziness is over, and fall break is less than a week away (*jumps for joy*). So guess what that means ~ I can actually do some blogging! I'm super excited about it!

So now that it's halfway through October (I don't even know how that happened), let's see how I did on my September goals, and lay down some goals for (the rest of) October. Once again, I'm joining forces with a group of awesome bloggers to bring you this monthly goals post ~ be sure to check out their goals for October too!

S E P T E M B E R  R E C A P

Academic Goal: Stay on top of readings.
I was actually really good about this for most of September. But as soon as my 1-2 weeks of paper-writing from hell came around, regular class readings definitely fell by the wayside. Papers had to get priority, though I probably should have managed my time better so I could have been a bit better about doing other homework.

Personal Goal: Establish consistent morning and nighttime routines.
I actually got pretty good about this during September, especially with my morning routines. Up until these last 1-2 weeks, I was consistently getting up at 7:00am and praying morning prayer, getting ready for the day, getting breakfast at the cafeteria, and getting to the library by 8:30 or 9am to do homework until my first class. This has continued to be my routine for the most part, with some exceptions over the last 1-2 weeks when I really needed extra sleep.

Spiritual Goal: Do a little bit of spiritual reading each day.
I was also pretty good about this for most of September. I would spend a few minutes reading my Bible before bed, and I've also been reading more of Story of a Soul lately. However over the last couple weeks, I've definitely been neglecting spiritual reading. I really want to get back into it though, because it's just been so enriching.

O C T O B E R  G O A L S

Academic Goal: Get a handle on my time management.
For the first part of the semester, I was probably the best I've ever been about staying on top of homework and not procrastinating. But when my aforementioned 1-2 weeks of paper-writing from hell came around, I was under so much stress academically and emotionally that my time management went out the window (and several of my papers were turned in late). So this month I'm gonna whip my butt back into shape and get back into good homework / time management habits.

Personal goal: Get to bed no later than 11pm on weekdays.
If I want to continue getting up at 7am, I have have have to be in bed no later than 11pm. I cannot function when I have less than 7-7.5 hours of sleep ~ and there's nothing I hate more than feeling like a zombie all day because I didn't get enough sleep. Sometimes time gets away from me at night and I wind up staying up till 11:30 or 12, but no more! I'm determined to get to bed by or before 11pm on weeknights from here on out.

Spiritual goal: Novenas!
I want to pray the St. Jude novena leading up to his feast day on October 28, and I also want to pray a 54-day rosary novena starting on October 16 and ending on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The rosary novena is the one I'll need extra motivation for ~ saying a rosary every day can be a challenge. But I'm super pumped!

What are your goals for October?


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

21 Things You Didn't Know about Me

Hey friends! Yesterday, October 3, was my 21st birthday! To celebrate the occasion here in the blogosphere, I decided to put together a fun get-to-know-me post. So here are 21 fun facts about me that you may or may not know. Enjoy!

1. I skipped second grade.
I didn't start kindergarten till I was almost 6, because I missed the 5-year-old cutoff at my old private school by 3 days the year before... But after first grade, my family started homeschooling and bumped me right up to third grade!

2. I was supposed to be 5'6".
You know how they try to predict your height when you're a toddler? Yeah, they predicted I would reach 5'6". Instead I'm 5'3" and the shortest in my family by several inches.

3. I'm an ISFJ.
Every time I take the Myers-Briggs test, I get ISFJ ~ and the description fits me to a T!

4. I've met Will Smith.
One of my teachers from high school knows him and works with him, so when I was 16, I got to go to Philadelphia to tour one of his movie sets and meet him! He gave me a fist bump and a high-five, and he was super nice!

5. I can talk in a chipmunk voice.
It's my hidden talent, and it brings much joy and laughter to those privileged few who get to hear it.

6. I can crack way too many joints.
I can (and do) crack my fingers/knuckles 4 different ways, my thumbs 3 ways, my toes 3 ways, my ankles 2 ways, my knees 2 ways, my shoulders 2 different ways, my back several different ways, my neck, my wrists, my elbows, and my hips. *bows*

7. I don't like salad dressing.
I can't stand the taste of any type of salad dressing. So yes, when I eat salad, I literally eat plain lettuce. But I like it that way.

8. I wanted to be a meteorologist when I was little.
Until I found out how much math and science would be involved in that. No thanks!

9. I've worn glasses since I was 8.
Yep, I have really bad eyesight. I'm always, always wearing either glasses or contacts ~ I can't see a thing without them!

10. I would have been named Gannon if I'd been a boy.
Let's just say I'm super glad I'm a girl.

11. I can do a cartwheel.
Thanks to taking two years of gymnastics when I was younger. I can also (sometimes) do a round-off.

12. I cannot roll my R's.
Nope. It makes trying to speak Spanish a little difficult and pathetic, ha.

13. I've lived in my house in Michigan since I was 9.
We moved in just a few days after my 9th birthday. So I've called that house home for 12 years now!

14. I have no known allergies.
And it's quite nice!

15. I learned how to read upside down in kindergarten.
And thanks to that, I can still read upside down perfectly to this day. Thank you, kindergarten teacher!

16. I'm extremely squeamish and I've fainted quite a few times.
I once fainted at a doctor's appointment when they tried to give me a cholesterol test. I also once fainted when my cousins were describing their blood-donating experiences to me. Basically, I can't handle blood and it makes me faint.

17. My bedroom at home is sky blue.
It was one of my favorite colors when I was 9, and it's still one of my favorite colors now.

18. I once dressed up in a hot dog costume and danced/flailed at the corner of a four-way intersection.
One day at my summer job at a garden center, we were having a cookout, and so my job for an hour or so of my day was to do the above. #yolo

19. I've had one broken bone.
I was about 3, and my mom was pushing me on a big-girl swing, and I distinctly remember needing to itch my nose, so I let go ~ and promptly fell off the swing and broke my elbow.

20. I once starred in a short film.
One of my friends wrote and directed a parody of "Twilight" and "Bad Luck Brian," and I played the clumsy, awkward, wannabe-vampire lead character. It was a really fun experience!

21. I play the guitar and I used to play the flute.
I played the flute from 6th grade until about 10th grade, and I would probably remember how to play if I picked it up again. I started playing the guitar when I was 8 and took lessons for 5 years ~ and I still enjoy playing it at home in my spare time.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

On Waiting


That feeling of longing. That aching in your chest. That pining in your heart.

When there's something you want more than anything, or something you've been waiting for your whole life, and you don't understand why you don't have it yet.

When it's so hard to trust that God's timing is perfect. That good things come to those who wait. That God has a plan that's far more wonderful than yours.

When it's so hard to be patient as you wait for that plan to unfold. When you just wish that God would magically make something happen with the flick of a wand in the blink of an eye. So that you can have that something right now.

But you have to wait.

And waiting is hard.

I'm in a season of waiting right now, friends. And it's not the first time I've been in a season of waiting. In fact, I've been in a continual season of waiting for about a year and a half now, and it's been quite a ride.

When I look back how I was when this season of waiting first began, I can see how much I've changed and grown. I used to be so much more impatient, so much more frantic. Trusting in God was such a burden and a struggle, and I had to try with all my strength to do it.

I used to focus only on what I wanted, begging God to give it to me. I listened only to the desperate longings in my heart for what I thought I wanted, and I acted and prayed out of impatience.

But I have learned and grown since then. When my longings burned strong, I started to consciously choose God over what I wanted. I prayed my way to trusting him more and to truly surrendering my life to him. To desiring his plan instead of mine.

I have learned and grown even more since then. I went on my pilgrimage to Europe this summer and came home a changed person. I can still sense the fruits of that pilgrimage now, two months later. I can sense how deeply God changed me and molded me, and how the change is here to stay.

One thing I learned on the pilgrimage more deeply than I have ever learned it before is the importance of living in the moment. Of being content with my present circumstances. Of being at peace with how my life as it is right now. Of trusting in God for each next step, instead of worrying and over-planning and fretting.

So the way I'm handling my season of waiting right now is much different now. It's much more mature. It's much more peaceful.

Yet I still find myself struggling. Sometimes I feel myself growing frustrated or frantic or impatient. Especially when it feels like God is dangling a toy that I really want right in front of my face, and I try to grab it but it's just out of my reach.

That's the kind of season of waiting I'm in right now, friends, and it's really hard. I'm sure you can relate, with whatever season of waiting you might be in.

But I want you (and me) to always remember that God has it all under control. That he has a plan for our lives that's far better than anything we can imagine. That he has a purpose for everything, even if that purpose is unknown to us or doesn't seem to make sense.

I want you (and me) to always remember that God loves us infinitely and unconditionally. That all the time he is good and faithful. That he has a reason for our season of waiting right now, and that he will eventually, when we are ready and when the time is right, satisfy the desires of our hearts ~ and it will be beautiful.

So in the meantime, let's seek him first. Let's love him above everyone and everything else. Let's cling to him and continually surrender our lives and desires to him. Let's persevere in prayer. And he will not disappoint us.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Highlights of Europe: Lisieux

While in northern France, we made a day trip to Lisieux, where St. Therese of Lisieux, or the Little Flower, is from. I've loved St. Therese for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a little girl, and I took her as my confirmation saint when I was 12 years old (hence my name around the internet, Stephanie Therese). So naturally I was super excited to be able to visit Lisieux! And to make the visit even more special, we were there on the first-ever feast day of St. Therese's newly canonized parents, Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin!

We went to the Basilica of St. Therese (which was an amazing sight to behold), where we were able to attend the Mass for the feast day of Sts. Louis and Zelie. It was so special, and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

We also went to Les Buissonnets, the home where St. Therese and her father (St. Louis) and her sisters lived in Lisieux after St. Zelie passed away. It was also really special to go there, and as soon as we walked through the doors, I could really sense St. Therese's presence. And the garden in the back of house was so beautiful ~ and FULL of roses! Quite appropriate for St. Therese, of course!

Alongside visiting these amazing places, we also had free time to explore the city of Lisieux, which I found to be quite fun. It was especially exciting because the whole city, it seemed, was celebrating the feast day of Sts. Louis and Zelie! The Martins are definitely a big deal in Lisieux!

Overall we had a wonderful day in Lisieux ~ at least I know I did! I was super happy the entire day, and it was definitely one of my favorite stops of the whole trip.

Now some photos for you!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Tips for Staying Focused and Engaged in Class

Going to class can be a drag and a bore, and it's easy to zone out and miss the whole lecture. But even still, going to class is a crucially important part of succeeding in college classes - it's where you can get clarification on class readings, dive deeper into the material, participate in discussions, and get your professor's insights. I've come up with a few pointers that will help you to be more alert, attentive, and engaged in class so that you can make the most of every class!

Bring your book(s).
Make sure you don't forget whatever book(s) you're working on in a particular class! Whether it's a novel (literature majors represent) or a textbook, be sure to bring it with you to class. Follow along whenever your professor references a certain page, and underline or bookmark any passages read aloud or discussed in class. Doing this will not only keep you engaged in class, it'll help you with studying for exams down the road.

Take notes.
While some people claim they don't need to take notes, I believe note-taking is really beneficial because it forces you to pay attention to the lecture or discussion. Write down everything the professor writes on the board, any definitions he gives, and any other important facts and details that he says. Develop a system of note-taking that works for you (whether that's handwriting or typing, bullet points or paragraphs, etc) and use it every class.

Eat beforehand.
Come to class fed so that you're not starving all through class, and so that you have more energy. This is especially important if your class is just before or during a meal time. So make sure you eat breakfast before that 8:00am so you're not dragging and falling asleep, and get lunch before a midday class. Then your stomach will be full and happy, you'll be more energized, and your mind will be better able to receive and process information during class.

Drink water.
Make sure you've had enough water in your day leading up to class, and also bring a water bottle with you to class. Being hydrated will keep your energy levels up and prevent you from feeling sluggish, so you'll be more alert in class.

Put your phone away.
Most professors have a rule against phones in class anyways, but I'm still throwing this one in here because secretly playing with your phone under the table is a real thing. Nothing will take your mind off of what's going on in class more than your phone. Put it on silent, and either put it out in front of you on the table (where your professor can see it and where it'd be totally obvious if you were to grab it), or put it in your bag.

Ask and answer questions in class, or offer comments. Or if you're like me and you're not comfortable talking in class, that's totally okay, as long as you participate silently. Whether you're a verbal class participator or not, just be sure to be engaged. Actively take notes and follow along in the book. Always be looking either at the professor / the board, or the book / your notes. Participating in these ways is sure to keep you engaged in class.

What helps you stay focused and engaged in class?


Friday, September 9, 2016

August Recap and September Goals

It's already time for another monthly goals post! Like I said in my last post, I can't believe August is over and it's already September! August was a crazy month for me, which unfortunately meant that several my goals didn't get done. (Though in my defense, I was in Europe for the first chunk of August and didn't get around to setting my August goals till halfway through the month.) But now that it's September and my school year has just begun, I'm super motivated to tackle school and life with a new vigor. (Nothing like the beginning of a new school year to get you pumped up, right?)

As always, with a new month comes a new set of monthly goals. As I mentioned in this post and in this post, 2016 is all about focus for me, and about delighting in being a student. To help myself grow in these ways, I'm setting concrete, baby-steps goals for myself in some key areas of my life. This includes monthly goals, which I share here on the blog, partially to hold myself accountable and also in hopes that it will encourage you in your goals too!

Once again I'm joining forces with some fabulous bloggers to bring you September's monthly goals post. Be sure to check out these gals' goals for September as well!

A U G U S T  R E C A P
  • Finish journaling about my trip
While I did work on this, I did not finish journaling about my entire trip. I just have so much to write about! But I do plan to finish up while all the memories are still fresh in my mind.
  • Finish reading the books I started on my trip
Again, I worked on this, but being the slow reader that I am, I haven't finish these books yet. But I brought them with me to school to keep reading during my down time / prayer time.
  • Say a prayer in the morning as soon as I get up, and one at night right before I go to bed
I crossed off the second half because I did well on saying a prayer right before bed...but I was pretty bad about doing it in the morning. Praying at night is more of a solid habit for me, but in the morning I'm in the (bad) habit of getting up and starting to go about my day without giving God much of a thought. I hope to keep improving on this one in September!
  • Blog 3 times a week
Check! The only exception was last week when I only published one post. But last week only included the last like 2 days of August, so I'll still consider this goal completed!
  • Get rid of some more clothes
Nope. I never got around to taking my last few bags of clothes out to sell or donate. Maybe over Christmas break.
  • Visit with my cousins + home friends at least one more time
Yes! I got in lots of visits with my cousins and my friends from home before I went back to school, and it was lovely.
  • Do my back-to-school shopping
Check! A trip to Target, two trips to Walmart, and a little bit of Amazon got the job done,
  • Get my planner, notebooks, etc. ready for the new semester
Yep! As always I was super excited about getting a stack of new notebooks and a brand new, beautiful planner (seriously guys, I found the planner of my dreams at Target) and getting them all ready for the new school year!

S E P T E M B E R  G O A L S

(Last school year, I divided my monthly goals up into categories (personal goals, academic goals, and spiritual goals), and then over the summer I switched to making bullet point lists of my monthly goals. Now that it's the school year again, I'm going to go back to breaking my goals down into three categories.)

Academic Goal: Stay on top of readings.
Seeing as I'm already slightly behind on some reading, I already have to play catch-up a bit on this one. But I'm still determined to actually complete all of my readings in a timely fashion and not let myself slack off and get way behind!

Personal Goal: Establish consistent morning and nighttime routines.
I want to get into regular, structured morning and nighttime routines with quiet / prayer / no-tech time during each. Ideally I'd like to keep my phone on airplane mode while I'm getting ready both for the day and for bed, and also take a few minutes for prayer and reading in the morning and before I go to sleep. In the mornings I'll also do things like make a to-do list for the day, eat a good breakfast, etc. Basically, I'd like my mornings to be prepare me for a productive day, and my evenings to be a time for recollection and reflection.

Spiritual Goal: Do a little bit of spiritual reading every day.
I just mentioned how I'd like to read a little bit in the morning and at bedtime, and I'm going to make it spiritual reading. I'll probably start by finishing some of the aforementioned books from my trip that I have yet to finish, and I'll also include some Scripture reading. I've been realizing more and more the importance and value of spiritual reading, and I'd really like to incorporate it into my day every day.

What are your goals for September?

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