Grown up at last

Being a millennial, I’m surrounded online by peers who reminisce about the 1990s and how great it was to be a child back then. While I share their dismay at the fact that kids who were born in 2000 are now sophomores in high school (etc.), I can’t say I share the attachment to childhood. I am an independent personality, and I’m quite pleased to be living my life independently now, rather than depending on someone to take care of me as I did as a child. When I moved back in with my parents after finishing college, I felt badly that I was depending on them again and that I should have been off on my own. After all, I had a college degree and a job. Simple, right? Well, no. Perhaps I was misguided in this feeling, as I’ve been criticized for being overly independent in the past, from a very young age. But I’m finally in the place where I’ve been looking forward to being, a place of my own. The truth that I am an adult has rung true these last few weeks, as one of my closest friends from my graduating class got married, and I played host to my dad while he was out here for a few days. He actually just left this afternoon.

Oddly enough, I’m writing this while watching the MLB All-Star Game, one of my favorite events to watch as a kid. I can’t say I’m very entertained, as I hardly know who any of the players are and am just not into baseball anymore. But it’s a tradition. I used to have to miss it because I had summer league swim meets, so I’d have my parents tape it, back when taping things was still on trend. I’ve accomplished things while watching, though – I did laundry and cooked a spaghetti squash. So things are going well.

My first time hosting a parent at my place since moving out was a really good experience. I wish I could have been a better host, but I don’t have much practice at it. He was very impressed with my apartment and thankful that I have air conditioning – we’ve hit the humid part of the year in Minnesota. The reason he came out here in the first place was to attend two Drum Corps International Shows in La Crosse and Minneapolis, as he used to march for several years back when he was in college and still follows the sport. I went to the Minneapolis show with him, as you may have noticed from my Instagram posts from the weekend. I also visited another bead store, and we got to go to our favorite restaurant up there, Tavern on France. The show itself was something else. I hadn’t been to a drum corps show since 2007 and had forgotten how much it is to take in, both visually and aurally. You’re hearing intense musical variety, which is under constant innovation (one corps used a theremin!), while trying to keep up with marching patterns, colors, and mallets in perpetual motion. It’s definitely a niche market, but worth supporting. In my other life, I would have played mellophone and marched. But I’m thankful to be an orch dork in this one.

On Sunday, we went to my church, then dropped down to Decorah for a bit – my dad grew to love the town while I was at Luther, and I felt it was only fair that I take him down there again. We walked around campus and caught up with what was up at Lutheran Summer Music (the camp that led me to attend Luther), had T-Bock’s and Whippy Dip, and walked around town. Then I spent some time sight reading string quintets with a local group, which my former advisor, Dr. Kate Narveson, invited me to do. I think I’m going to keep that up! It was so wonderful having my dad here to do these things. Not to mention, he helped me get my TV set up and found a few more things I needed in my apartment. And, to keep things fair, I’ll be seeing my mom in just a week and a half, at Lake Tahoe for a family reunion. I’m glad to not go so long without seeing them this time, since I didn’t for nearly five months after moving out.

Before this past weekend, I’ve been having a few other adventures. As I mentioned, my close friend from Luther, Sara, got married in June to her longtime boyfriend. They are both from near Decorah and had their reception at the Hotel Winneshiek. I and several other friends stayed at a summer house in town for the weekend, as we celebrated with a bachelorette party, rehearsal, and a beautiful ceremony. We had so much fun catching up and learning what we were all doing with our lives, while honoring the milestone in Sara’s life. I was honored to read the Scripture and prayers in the ceremony. I have to say, my favorite moments were bar hopping at the bachelorette party and breaking out in song and dance at the reception to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, which was true of me throughout college. Noted for next time. 🙂 Sara looked absolutely stunning and did a great job planning it all out, and she made all of us feel special as part of her day. My friends and I are growing up, but at our cores, we retain the fun parts of ourselves that we were for four years. It renewed my joy at living in the Midwest again.

The weekend after that, I was quite occupied with a musical engagement, playing in the pit orchestra for a production of Bye Bye Birdie. It’s a lot of work to put on a musical, I can see very clearly now! And I have so much respect for everyone involved. Plus, it was a hit, and I got to know some more Rochester area musicians. I think I even have a gig lined up for the fall with a ballet, putting on The Polar Express. This was my first time playing in the pit for a musical; I’d done it for opera with the Luther Chamber Orchestra, which is different but not entirely much. I look forward to doing it again!

Over the 4th of July, I spent a fairly calm evening at my boss’s house in Kasson, grilling salmon burgers and sitting outside in the nice weather. No major fireworks, but I did catch a few around. Her dog, Arthur, provided most of the excitement, picking up all the sticks in the yard. I was just fine with that.

For now, I’m just working as usual, with another magazine issue about to drop this weekend, and a small trip on Friday to Decorah for the LSM Choir Concert. I haven’t attended an LSM event since I last attended the camp in 2010, so it will be strange, in the best possible way. I’ll play for a different church service on Sunday, downstairs instead of upstairs, while a couple of staff are on vacation. Then I’ll head to Reno on the 24th-26th, and get back to it for the dog days of August. I’m praying for mild humidity… but I have to say that now, I prefer that to icy winters. I’m strange, I know. (Or maybe not.) I’m also praying that the rumored Armageddon earthquake doesn’t hit the Pacific Northwest too soon. If you haven’t read the article in the New Yorker that’s been going viral, give it a read. It’s terrifying.

It’s past my early bird bedtime. I thought adults stayed up so late when I was a kid. Now I don’t understand how they did it.




Green Space

A couple weeks ago, I passed the one-year anniversary of my graduation from Luther College. And today marks the five-year anniversary of my graduation from Mercer Island High School. That’s long enough to have a reunion, although I don’t think that’s happening, unless I’m entirely out of the loop. Which seems to happen quite often. I check my Facebook news feed only twice a week now, and I’m not in touch with the people who’d be most likely to plan such a reunion. And, not like I live close enough to attend. So we won’t worry with that thought.

May was quite the month, as seems to be a growing trend for me. I moved to my new apartment basically on my own, although I’m eternally grateful to my boss and her husband for the pick-up truck that moved my bed in and to my manager at the music store for selling me a crap ton of furniture for cheap. They were life savers. Otherwise, I moved everything myself. Naturally it was exhausting, but I love the new place. It’s big, quiet, and close enough to everywhere I need to be. I can even walk to the music store with my cello. I still have no TV, but that’s it. My kitchen is becoming well-loved, just as I’d hoped for. All is well on this front.

I also took my first trip back to Seattle since I moved out, which I’d been anticipating since January. It was lovely, but… weird. I’d feared when I left that I wouldn’t want to return, as I felt during college sometimes. But I was ready to come back to Rochester when it was time. I spent some good time with my parents, visited my grandma in the Norse Home, drank way too much Starbucks, and heard my cousin Jason preach at North Seattle Alliance Church. Plus I got to visit Fusion Beads, a store that advertises in Bead Me! I chatted with the marketing manager about possible collaborations we can do coming up here. It’s a great company, and just happens to be in Seattle! Love it.

Overall, Seattle felt less like home to me than I’d thought it would. I read through some of my older posts earlier today, where I talk about how happy I was to be there during the summertime, and wishing I was there during my time at Luther. It confuses me sometimes that I wanted to come back here so badly, then. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t live there anymore and am okay with that. In fact, I’ve felt more Minnesotan since returning from my trip than I did previously. I have connected with this land on a deep level. Perhaps I developed that connection during school and just never realized it the way I do now. What I love most about this area (true in Decorah as well) is the wide open-ness of it. There’s something about agricultural land space, especially when it’s green, that calms me. It is a home for my spirit. Combined with the truth that the Driftless Region was where I first lived on my own and became an adult, that’s why I claim the Midwest as home.

I had an experience over the weekend that helped clarify this. I was invited to a concert in Decorah last Friday night – the Bread and Butter String Band performed at Arthaus. My longtime friend Lucas is one of the original members of the band and invited me. He’d talked to me about the group before, so I thought I should go see what it was all about. I had no idea they were such rock stars! The audience was so impressed, myself included. I was sitting next to his parents, and at one point, I was telling his mom about how I’d moved to Rochester and was going to drive back that night. She quickly told me I didn’t have to do that and could sleep on a couch at their house. I agreed to it, grateful for her spontaneous hospitality.

After staying out for awhile with Lucas, we headed back there. They live on a farm a bit west of Decorah – I had to drive on gravel roads to get there, which was the first time I’d ever done that. We stayed up for a little bit eating cake and ice cream (his idea) and I fell asleep fast. When I woke up in the morning, that’s when everything hit me: it was bright and beautiful and sunny and GREEN. I hadn’t seen what the farm actually looked like in the dark, but in the morning I could, and I loved it. I spent the morning sitting out on the porch with the family, eating fruit and drinking coffee and being at peace. It felt like home. It reminded me of what I experienced arriving in West Sussex 3 months ago – complete calm of the mind, when you know you’re in a good place where you can be your whole self. And that’s what the Blekebergs’ farm was. For a city girl like me, it’s a stunning realization to see that the country is perhaps where my heart loves most to dwell. Rochester is by no means rural, but it’s not far removed from it. The Driftless Area is sunny and green (during the summer, at least) – I can’t ask for much more than that.

I’m still working hard to stay positive every day. It helps that I’ve joined a health and fitness challenge where positivity is the focus! Not only have I lost weight, I affirm myself more. I know it’s worth it to take care of myself, both mentally and physically. That’s true for every person on Earth. At the very least, sleep as much as you can and drink plenty of water. Don’t fight your body – give it what it needs! Several of my family members have taken part in the challenge as well. It’s been inspiring!

Well, it’s almost time to head off to work. It was 90 degrees a couple days ago, but today it will be stormy and hovering above 60. Gotta love those Midwest storms. 🙂



Calling and Choice: A Reflection

I’m going a bit more philosophical today, inspired by the sermon I just heard at church. I do have some life updates to share at the end, though, so bear with me.

The idea of “calling” is often considered in a religious context, and I do think of it that way, as I am a Christian. But I think there’s more to it. Christians may say that God is calling them to do something, thinking of what to do for their careers, or where to live, or whether to get married or have children or not, and things of that nature. People also use the term “vocation” for this. The point is, because one’s calling comes from God, it has less to do with personal choice and more from a force outside of you. That’s not to say that you can’t figure out your calling from looking within you, because God speaks within us as He shows us who we are in the world, and as we discover that, we discover our callings too. But there doesn’t seem to be much free will in here. One key political idea in the United States is that everyone should be able to choose what they do, without the government standing in the way. But what is choice? And how is it related to calling?

That’s where I’m going outside of the Christian box a little bit. We make choices based on, more often than not, what we WANT to do. We want food, we go to the store. We want to take a nap, we lay down and sleep for awhile. Those are simple choices. I’m thinking more of big choices, though, the ones you might conflate with calling. Like, where you end up with your life, and the career you spend it doing. Of course, this is personal to me, as I’ve just made a big choice to move across the country. You could say I’ve made that choice twice now, since I did it when I decided to attend Luther College. But the reason I made these choices wasn’t clear-cut, like the more simple choices in life are. I made these choices because they felt right, like they were my true callings. When I was 18, I was very much in the process of figuring out who I was (not that I’m not still). I’d spent time at Luther for LSM and loved it. It wasn’t my first choice school when I started senior year, but by March, it was so clear to me that I was meant to be there. Not only did it fit my college priority checklist, but it was the right place intangibly. Yes, I had another reason at that time that encouraged me to go there… but soon after I began school, I realized that the choice had been mine all along, which became especially important when that reason disappeared. (Which related to another calling-choice. But I won’t get into that right now.)

My second move was an even bigger calling-choice. I interviewed for the job at Ashdown not knowing a lot, other than that I needed a job for after Farmers. Plus, I knew, deep within myself, that I wanted to move back to the Midwest, even after just a few months in Seattle. I fostered a love for this region during my teens and was already looking out for opportunities here. Then Ashdown came to me. I flew out for the interview back in November and, like at Luther, I felt this intangible need to be here. I still do. I believe I’m living out my true self, my calling, the calling that led me to make these choices. Too frequently do people dismiss these intangible feelings of a sense of vocation, or the sense is just plain unclear. But it becomes clearer over time, or in hindsight. Our callings are who we are, whether you think God is part of that or not. I believe ignoring that is self-destructive. Fortunately in our formative years, we have opportunities to figure out what our callings are, or are not, like short-term internships and classes. Just know that it’s not 100% clear, but it takes thought and intuition. And then you can make the big choices and feel right about them.

The sermon I referenced was the one my pastor gave this morning, and she talked about a couple moments in her life when she felt God was speaking to her about what kind of person she should be. I can think of moments like that for myself, too, even if I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. My concluding thought is, your intuition doesn’t always match up with what makes “logical” sense… but then again, is it logical to brush off your intuition? Think about why you want to do something, what’s at the core of that emotion. Nurture the core of yourself. Then all of the logic will fall into place. Plus, it will help you stay positive. 🙂

I’ve had a pretty solid few weeks here. I’m about to put out another issue of Bead Me and have finished ahead of schedule! Yay! Things just keep moving forward at work. I’m about to head out to go to the gym for a bit, then go to orchestra rehearsal. We have our concert a week from today, titled “Beyond Imagination.” If you’re in the Rochester area, I highly recommend coming to hear it! And of course I’m going on with church music.

I went to a bridal shower yesterday for my good friend from Luther, Sara. She lives in northern Iowa now and is getting married in June near Decorah. So it means getting to spend more time with my friends at our alma mater. 🙂 The shower was really nice too! The drive took a couple hours, and I got hit in a rain squall on the way back – one of those classic Midwest storms. The weather has been amazing overall recently, though. I’m hoping it’ll be good on Tuesday night, when I head down to Decorah again to hear the Luther Collegiate Chorale sing their tour homecoming concert! I can’t wait!

Lastly, my most important bit: I’m moving again in less than two weeks. But it’s only a five-minute jaunt over to my new one-bedroom apartment. My ZIP code isn’t even changing. It does mean much more freedom in what I can do with my space, which I’m of course happy about. My address will change officially on May 1. Please let me know if you would like to have it. 🙂 And, I’m going back to Seattle for the first time at the end of May, for Memorial Day weekend. I’ve already got some fun stuff planned, including (but not limited to) eating an inordinate amount of sushi.

Well, I’ve still got a busy evening ahead, so I’ll sign off here. Please let me know if you have any comments on my musings about vocation – I’d love to keep discussing it. There’s so much to chew on. But it’s still the weekend, so don’t fry your brain just yet if you don’t want to.



No fooling here, just some good stories

I’m home. In Minnesota, that is. I could say this about several places, either my parents’ home in Seattle, or Luther College, or my British home in West Sussex. But for now, it’s in the city where I live and work most of the time. I’ve been back for six days, still a bit weary from the trip and missing Europe very much, but on the grind with Bead Me and Holy Week music at church.

A couple weeks ago, Lauren and I were getting ready to go work at the Big Bead Show in Surrey, UK. It went quite well, I would say, and I was happy to meet some awesome British beaders and promote Bead Me. We worked at the Bead Magazine stand (Bead Me’s sister publication in the UK) and helped answer questions for attendees (mostly giving out the Wi-Fi password). I had some difficulty understanding them sometimes, although that may be due to the climate control machine being so loud. The only incident that occurred was on the day before, when we were setting up – my boss’s wife (who runs the show) had ordered a company to bring tables for us to use during the show. When we arrived, we soon learned that the tables had been put downstairs, in the wrong hall. So, the four of us who’d come to set up, plus some of the event center staff, had to walk the tables all upstairs. Made me thankful for my personal trainer! Fortunately, we came home to a delicious dinner and cherry port for dessert (you should try it, it’s delectable). The ordeal wore us all out, but everything else went fine. It was a true team effort. It still amazes me how seamlessly we at Ashdown work together, even from across the pond. Granted, we do have to chase down information sometimes, which is a struggle, but now that I’ve gotten to know the team over there, my patience and understanding has grown. I miss being able to communicate with them as we could over there – it made such a difference. Fortunately, we should be going back before too long.

The day after the bead show, we took a rest and walked the dogs in South Downs National Park, which is just a couple minutes from David and Elizabeth’s home, then spent the afternoon in Chichester, one of the larger towns in West Sussex. We saw the Chichester Cathedral and ate at their favorite French restaurant (so much food, but delicious). I posted some photos from there on my Instagram page. Then in the morning, we took off for our big city adventures – Lauren to London, and I to Berlin.

I flew from London Gatwick Airport to Berlin Schönefeld Airport, then took the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to my hotel. From there, I was alone. And I mean really alone. I thought I was alone in Rochester, but in this big city where I only kinda-sorta spoke the language… that’s what alone truly is. I’d known this would be true when I planned the trip, but I knew I needed to do it. Now that I have, I’m all the more grateful I did, because I believe I can accomplish anything. I walked around the city and took public transport on my own with no messes, blending into Berlin just fine. Since people spoke to me in German when I entered places, I’m guessing I didn’t have the “American” label across my forehead, which is good. The only time I really used German was in a bar, asking for a glass of red wine. (Ha!) On the first night I went to the Brandenburg Gate, walking there from my hotel through the Tiergarten, and found the political center of Germany there. The next day I went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, the TV Tower, the Berlin Cathedral, and the city library. The cathedral is a Lutheran church, the largest one of those I’ve ever been in. In the evening, I went to a contemporary string quartet concert in the Neukölln district, which was was thought-provoking in the sense that it made me think about what music is for us today, and why it’s composed the way it is. I can’t say I came up with any great insights, though.

The third day, I went to a coffee shop that I’d read about in a New York Times article on how to spend 36 hours in Berlin, part of a series the paper runs about international travel. It was a random quick adventure before I checked out and flew back to Gatwick, spending the night in London before meeting up with Lauren again and flying back from Heathrow. We both felt the energy burden of travel after that. We returned to the office the next day loopy from jet lag. I’m still exhausted, although I might also be feeling the decrease in caffeine I’ve enforced upon myself since returning. I drank so much coffee throughout the trip that I feel like I should detox from it so I don’t develop an addiction. But I also haven’t had too many moments to rest since I got home, and I won’t for awhile.

The night after we got home, Lauren and I both attended a performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah oratorio at Luther. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with it! I loved it so much that I wrote a letter to the editor of Chips. Being loopy with jet lag made it interesting to see everyone, which is exciting in itself. I talked to pretty much everyone I wanted to afterwards, and I stayed overnight with my friend Brett. From there, it’s been a lot of work, picking up where we left off before we traveled, and playing cello at church for Holy Week services and Easter. I’ve fallen in love with this song ( that I’m playing with the worship band on Saturday for the Great Vigil of Easter. The great thing about Gloria Dei is that it holds a party after the Easter Vigil service to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection, making it worth all the doom and gloom. Then we come to worship on Sunday morning with brass fanfare! Should be an excellent time. Then I get Monday off from work (the UK rests on Easter Monday), but I’ll keep busy that day, looking at new apartments! Feeling inspired by my solo travels, I’ve decided to move, knowing that I’m solidly part of this community now. I’m ready to get a place that’s truly my own.

I’m still every bit as happy as I said I was in my last blog post, and I hope to keep sharing that joy and positivity with others. Every day I grow more confident and independent. And when I fully immerse myself again in the social media world on Easter, I won’t let that bring me down as I have in the past. Deactivating my Facebook was a good idea – combined with travelling overseas, it was a true separation from the things that may have been dragging on me. But I’m free of them now and am ready to return. So, here’s to spring, new life, and continued positivity, and may you all find many places you can call home.



Hello from Storrington

Hello world!

I am about to fall asleep here, and I’m going to need it for tomorrow. Lauren and I are going up to Surrey with our English boss’s wife Elizabeth to set up for Saturday’s Big Bead Show, the largest beading event in the United Kingdom, that our company puts on twice a year. We’ll be at the show too, of course. Then it’s a day of rest, then I’ll be on to Berlin for two nights, then home to Minnesota. As much as I hate to admit I have to leave the UK at some point.

I suppose it’s been awhile since I’ve written on here, not since I wrote about giving up Facebook for Lent. Things have certainly progressed since that point. I got a promotion, of sorts, and I’m now the editor of Bead Me Magazine ( instead of sub-editor, which I was before. It’s been nice to have a title and know exactly what I’m focusing on, rather than depending on others to hand me work. If you know me well, you know that I’m an independent personality, and I also don’t want to let anyone down. I take pride in my work, and this promotion makes me feel truly valued. I’ve put out one issue already and plan to stick with it for as long as I can. In the 10 months since I graduated from Luther, I never imagined I would have “Editor” as my job title so soon, nor that I’d be back living in the Midwest and travelling to the UK. What did I tell you about staying positive? 🙂

We have spent this week staying at our boss’s home in Storrington, in southern England, and working with the team here. It’s so good to connect with them face-to-face and resolve some small technical issues, plus they’re such sweet people. I’m so grateful for their hospitality and their beautiful home. And being here has helped me understand just how Ashdown really works, or rather that I didn’t fully get it before. I’m just way too happy. If all goes well, this won’t be the only time I come here.

I don’t have much to say beyond that. I need to get some sleep since tomorrow is a busy day. Still trying to adjust to how everyone drives on the “wrong” side of the road, not to mention the streets are much narrower than those in the States. But I love riding around looking out at the homes and the landscape and feeling like I’m lost in a book. I’ll never forget this trip.



Thoughts before I go

It is that time of year again, the time not so far removed from the start of the year that we haven’t forgotten our New Year’s resolutions, but also a time to make new ones. Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a season in the church year that lasts for about a month and a half, from Ash Wednesday until Easter. You probably know people who commemorate Lent by giving something up, or you give something up yourself. I’ve been doing this since high school to various extents. Some years I’ve been excessive with it, giving up all forms of social media and a lot of foods. I don’t think that’s necessary, though. It’s better to give up one thing that’s especially giving you trouble, or that you’re addicted to. Last year, in my case, that was Snapchat. This year, however, it is a little different. I’m giving up Facebook, which I’ve done before, but not because I’m addicted, but because I’ve come to realize since I graduated college that the network causes me quite a bit of anxiety. I feel that I have to keep up a certain appearance on Facebook to stay afloat, and often I have mistakenly presumed it to be the judge of my relationships. I take “likes” on my posts to be signs of love and worry that if no one likes my posts, that I am unlovable and annoying. Consciously, I know this isn’t true, but living on my own, I receive less in-person affection from others. And, as an introvert, I feel less motivated to put in the work to seek it out. So, I’m taking a break from Facebook, as in, I’m deactivating it entirely rather than just not going on. My prayer is that by removing it from my life, I’ll find ways to connect with others that build me and them up, rather than causing anxiety.

This all connects to my philosophy that if you are going to cut something out of your life, you have to stay positive and replace it with something else that’s healthier. This partly comes from Pete Carroll’s #WinForever mantra (which I elaborate on in my last post… let’s not talk about the Seahawks though), and partly from a talk the wife of my church’s senior pastor gave a few weeks ago regarding anxiety, which I also briefly mentioned in my last post. It turns out that this is a great Lenten mode of thinking, because the point of giving things up is to refill your life with something better, that brings you closer to God. Be intentional about what you choose to take out, and know the point of it. I know now that this anxiety is detracting from my relationship with God, so I’m letting it go. As our pastor said in his children’s message on Sunday, you can’t drink a mug of hot chocolate if the mug has something less delicious sitting in it. You have to pour it out and make the hot chocolate. In the zero degree temperatures of Minnesota, that sounds pretty nice. 🙂

In other news, I’m about to go abroad once again! A month from today, I will board a flight to Heathrow Airport and work in England for a week, including at a large bead show our company puts on. The flights have been finalized. And I will be taking a side trip to Berlin afterwards, just for a couple nights, before I return. I will be posting photos on my Instagram account ( whenever I get a chance. I’ll try and write on here too, in lieu of Facebook. I’m very excited and nervous. I’ll be bringing my German dictionary and reviewing all I learned in 3 semesters, so I can at least get by. We’ll see how that goes.

Here in Rochester, not much is new from my last post. I had an EXCELLENT birthday weekend, visiting Melissa, which involved playing with three cats, eating angel food cake and Pulla French toast, buying wine, and proofreading websites. And hearing Nordic Choir and LCSO on my actual birthday… still blown away. I’m active in my church’s music ministries and will be joining the Rochester Pops Orchestra next weekend. Work is still busy with all of our magazines. And somehow, I stay connected with my friends and family, wherever they are.

Here’s to a Lent of growth and reflection. See you on avenues other than Facebook. 🙂


Super Bowl Eve

Scrolling through my previous entries, it looks like I wrote a blog post on January 31, 2014. So why not do the same thing exactly a year later? I’m excited about the same thing as I was then: the Seahawks’ trip to the Super Bowl tomorrow! I actually got to follow their season from Seattle this year, surrounded by crazy 12s all the time, but once again, I’ll be watching the game from the Midwest. I’m pretty easy to spot here in Rochester because my car still has Washington plates and a 12th Man bumper sticker on the back. No one has to question whom I’m rooting for.

In all honesty, the Hawks have had a big impact on the Pacific Northwest as a whole. They bring us together and get us riled up about life. And I’m a huge fan of the team’s philosophy of staying positive and taking it one goal at a time. We all need to plan for the future, but forever is made up of little moments. If something isn’t going right, you can stop and fix it. You have time. Instead of saying “no,” find something to say “yes” to that will replace the thing you don’t want to be doing, and keep going. This was the topic of discussion at a forum at my church I went to last week, too, regarding anxiety. If we tell our minds not to do something, that doesn’t quell the desire to do it. But if we give it a positive command to do something else instead of the bad thing, we respond to that better. It sounds to me like a helpful method for dealing with addiction, but I’m no expert in that field. All I know is that it’s making a difference for me right now, as I work on becoming healthier and finding my way on my own in a new city.

I’ve been here a full month now, and every day has been an adventure. Work is going well – last week was rough with all of our deadlines and new things coming out, but we made it and are working towards the future. We’re working, too, on staying affirmative. I’m happy to be there every day and believe I made the right choice to work in the creative industry. Plus, I get to go on my first business trip to England in a month and a half! Ashdown holds a bead show in March or April each year, and I get to attend this one and learn more about the bead industry. And, I’ll visit another place in Europe for a couple days afterward. Right now I’m thinking that will be Berlin. 🙂

As I said, I’ve found a church out here as well. Thank goodness for that. I’m attending Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, just a few blocks from my house, singing with the choir and playing cello with a worship band. I’m not officially a member yet, but I’ll get there soon enough. The choir director is a Luther alum, so we tend to nerd out together. There are several other Luther alumni around as well. We’ll be out in full force a week from tomorrow, when the Nordic Choir comes to sing at our morning worship services! This was a lucky date choice – February 8 happens to be my birthday, and also the birthday of one of our pastors! Not to mention that night is the LC Symphony Orchestra’s Vienna Homecoming Concert on campus. Naturally I’ll be there. It’s hard to believe my luck sometimes.

Music-wise, besides church, I’ve found an orchestra out here, the Rochester Pops Orchestra. It’s a brand-new group that plays show tunes and things like that. It’s a new style to me but I’m excited. There are several Luther alumni in that group as well. I may also do some playing with the Austin Symphony, but I haven’t decided on that. I have a couple friends from Luther who are in the group. I had coffee with one of them today, actually. I drove down to Austin and chatted with her for a couple hours, reminiscing about LCSO, Vienna, and all that good stuff. I have a lot more in common with her than I realized, and I’m glad to have her as a resource. I had coffee with another friend last week, too, who drove down from the Twin Cities. I knew him from my English major activities, and he’s also a great friend and resource up that direction. I’ve enjoyed all of this. 🙂

The month has not been perfect, but I’ve already learned so much. I’m not doubting myself and am ready to keep experiencing Rochester. My heart is finally accepting that I’m not in college anymore and that it’s a good thing. The memories are good enough to be in the past now. I feel better than I have in a long time, being independent and trusting myself and knowing I’m loved. And that makes it easier to stay positive. Not to mention it prevents anxiety.

This week will be another good one at work, then on Saturday the 7th I’ll head up to the Twin Cities and visit my old roommate and good friend Melissa. I don’t know yet what we’re going to do but we shall see. I’m not terribly concerned – I will enjoy myself no matter what. 🙂

Until next time, which will be sooner rather than later… GO HAWKS!