july.

A little over 6 weeks it’s been, and it feels as if my summer has been transformed into something…something of the likes of a Slinky Dog– strangely elongated, but regrettably compressed at any moment, simultaneously.

I had waited and wanted for so long to get to Ireland-– and to write all about it [if you’re curious, I’ve hyperlinked my adventures]–and now I’m home again and it’s crazy, it feels like it was yesterday and yet 1 year ago.

I watched an interview with Billie Eilish on some YouTube binge recently– she tells her younger self to “never put your feelings on the internet. Ever. EVER.” Of course, I saw this *after* I had temporarily taken down this site, this space, littered with a variety of crap from the ages LOL.

But I’m thankful to have taken the time away. What a lovely time to learn big lessons– observe ourselves from the inside out trough the lens of a different culture… It’s very easy to be caged in and consumed with what’s here, what’s around, what’s immediate.

It was time for a break.

And being in a different country was a *huge* help, huge change of pace, lovely opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. And what a wonderful thing it was to step back, re-evaluate, and reconcile. And even scold myself a bit for unnecessary dramatics. #y i k e s

I also got a taste of “school stress” [it wasn’t just a tourism trip, after all], but I feel like I gained back a lot of the productivity that I lost, a lot of the passion I had lost, for learning, among other things. Finishing the “semester” with good grades again in a while felt good.

read/reading // 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson.
I bought this book [along with another one I’ll start shortly] at one of the big bookstores in Galway, Ireland. This is a *delightful* mix of “abstract ethical principles, psychology, mythology, religion, and personal anecdotes”. Right up my alley, in my genre of shame [nah, my genre of UN-shame]: The Self Help Book. This guy has absolutely NO chill and straight up disses Elmo. Among other things. I find his bluntness and personal anecdote style personally hilarious. I’m trying to work through a chapter or so before bed cuz a) good habits I guess but also b) a steadfast way to get through the book. And I don’t mean “get through”– it’s a great book. A page turner not in the way a fiction read would be, but more in a sense of “oh I’m excited to see what he has to say about this next” kind of thing.

writing // here! But also a bare-bones outline of a sermon. I was asked to say words about my “mission trip” at my home church and I have all these ideas and concepts and phrases and moments swirling around my head to touch on [maybe?] but they just need to settle, and work their way into coherent, somewhat English sentences.

learning // the art of seeking positive intent, the value of listening deeper to others [and generally talking less]. Also learning to slow down, to take time, as well as learning to pay closer attention to my body and emotions/thoughts that pass their way every day through my skull.

doing / working on //

  • getting my sleep schedule back on track! I know I’m past the getting over jet lag phase but like I need to stop sleeping at 1 am and still waking up early!
  • doing design for a multitude of clients, all which are slightly different mediums, so it’s a lovely and challenging variety I’ve got to look at 😀
  • Going outside more and trying to be healthy
  • Seeing John Mayer in concert again!! What an unreal experience. No opener, just pure Mayer. Perhaps one of my favourite moments was him shredding on the guitar for “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”. He’s honestly just so stupid talented. And then I find out for his NY show he just played through the entirety of the album Continuum…just because he could. What a Mayer thing to do.
  • shaping up my portfolio
  • looking into some re-arranging/rebranding!
  • trying to finish off my travel blogging series of my last weeks in Galway. It’s funny– Henry David Thoreau writes in his culminating thoughts in Walden:
  • “It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves.”

  • And I *felt that!* Well, before I left the US obviously… But even in Galway [!!! we were there for 4 weeks out of the whole 6]– I felt myself falling in, getting settled, growing used to a novelty that had previously shaken me upon arrival, and it reminded me– reminded me to keep writing, keep processing, even as I kept “adjusting” and getting “too comfortable” because it would be over soon.
  • trying to keep up with a daily gratitude Trello board as a budding mindfulness practice [because who am I kidding I suck at writing things down on paper sometimes!]

eating // yogurt! spaghetti! oatmeal! apples! and LOTS of PRINGLES LOL [so idk why, but being in Ireland, and being able to secure Pringles in Ireland just SET OFF a craving for them… the sour cream and onion ones, that is…WEIRD.]

drinking // more water. And coffee. I swear, I was dehydrated for 6 weeks, and I’m *just* now getting to correct it. Can’t mess it up now!

listening // to a whole host of things. A lot of GOOD music just dropped recently, and I think this playlist highlights at least a good chunk of it, mixed in with some of my older, guiltier pleasures that I treasured both here and abroad:

[https://youtu.be/23R7BcjWU_Y]

being inspired // by the memories I have from Ireland…now stored as photos, detailed stories, and academic work. I am also constantly inspired by the work people are doing around me–whether that’s philanthropic work, musical work, artistic work…Idk. Everyone, it seems, is falling into their creative grooves and I am HERE. FOR. IT. 😀

laughing // aloud at the newest horoscope meme instagram pages I have discovered. There are times where I’m reluctant to accept my Aries-ness but this page just seems to reinforce the nuances every. single. time I scroll through. It doesn’t help that my friends enable me too, sending stuff that’s too relatable. XD

thinking // about how some days are better than others. Some days it’s easier to just launch yourself out of bed and say “OKAY! Let’s DO THINGS! X, Y, Z, GO!”, and then some days are absolute balls of mud [whatever that means].

trying // to stick to my to – do list! Er, “accomplishments” list. Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. I’ve started keeping a list of all the things that need to get done in one place, titled with the date and “accomplishments”. Somehow, “accomplishments” feels a bit lighter and more distinguished the slogging-through-the-day connotation of “to-DO list”. Ugh. Just sounds weighty. Accomplishments sounds so much more…accomplished? Idk. Just a new thing I’m trying.

hoping // to have the time and patience to catch up on all those uh…aforementioned “accomplishments”. There are a lot of puzzle pieces that need to fall into place before I can say I can start a successful fall semester… between the bills and my car being a pain in the patootie and the scheduling I am trying to make work in the next weeks– patience and discipline will be the key for these.

loving // the bursts of energy and semblance of a routine I’ve been able to utilize recently. It’s getting me pumped up and feeling ready to tackle senior year [!!!??!!howdidwegetherewowhelp]

praying // for my friends. For my family. For those who are in transition right now. For those who are going through a tough time. For those who are having trouble seeing past the darkness. For those who feel unworthy, under-appreciated, and unloved. For those who are working towards their goals. For safety as I embark on these next few weeks, for moving back to school, for patience, for those watching, for motivation and a renewed sense of purpose, for tact, and for resilience. And I pray for peace– that the peace I’ve found over the last months remains something light and easily carried.

xx

steph

Right Back At it Again.

^Wow, I never make Day To Remember references… until now, haha.

It feels like I’m just now settling into summer… even though it’s basically gone…

If you recall my last post, I was going off to a German hibernation of sorts, hidden from the outside world.  My earlier hypothesis? It would be “either fantastic or really rough”.

I’m happy to say it was the latter. Times 100.

Being thrown completely into a non-English environment was cooler than cool, even if it was a bit scary at first. I’ll admit, the first week was hard. And I was easily intimidated by all of the fluent or nearly-native speakers.  But it faded after the first week– I was learning so much. The whole experience made me wish my classroom environment were that awesome….awesome in that we had an enthusiastic group of students who found it cool to speak the language and actually wanted to put effort into creating as close to a full immersion environment as possible…

But it was amazing.  I grew close with so many people (what else do you do when you’re around them for 3 weeks? lol) including one of our RA’s– Maria. She’s super into theatre (it’s part of her major), really cute, (short, like me!), has a great sense of humor, AND she does trapeze for fun/exercise. PLUS her German is flawless (she studied abroad in Heidelberg and I am so jealous). I learned so much from her, and what amount of wanderlust I didn’t already have, came from her.  I can’t tell you how much I want to go to Germany (or just Europe in general) now. Annnnnnnd those opportunities may come– my aunt has said words about visiting her brother, and a friend proposed her visiting there and her need for a translator….. :O So we shall see.

I really can’t fit all of my experiences into a single post, so I’ll just say that we lived, laughed, ate, learned, had drama, all in German. I even started to dream in German, which was totally weird but also very fascinating. The day my parents came to rescue pick me up, I could not English. It was a struggle. And hearing the English of my instructors and RA’s for the first time was…. earth-shatteringly weird. Oh, and did I mention I learned Chinese? Only a bit, mind you. Since English

So just because I can, here are some pictures in an attempt to somehow show you guys how epic gov school was.

People + me in a Luray Caverns– the tour was in German! (left to right: Sandra, peep Dylan, Alexa, Marley, Katie & Me in front)

 

Me in cave + RAs Mariah and Meredith (left to right.

 

ME AND LU LAOSHI our Chinese teacher– he was so sweet, so patient…so amazing.
(Lu Laoshi ist Lieben, Lu Laoshi ist Leben)

 

A pic with a huge group of people before the last dance of the German Academy.

 

Our X-treme volleyball team. We were the “Faultier Frauen” (“sloth women”, because Allison’s fave animal was a sloth) later to be mixed with a group of guys… we compromised on the team name “Faultier Fenster” because they had named their team after the window two guys had broke playing soccer in the dorm halls…. XD

 

We’re fierce.

 

Wandern! (German for hiking, but it’s got an added spiritual element to it– it’s not just your average trekking through the woods experience.

 

Washington and Lee has some gorgeous forest and water around it 😀

 

…The mountains are gorgeous too…

 

All of the people in the academy after wandern 😀

 

Dunno why this is black and white, guess my camera was on that mode when the pic was taken, but this is the 4th of July at a street market on the campus of VMI (Virginia Military Institute).  You may not be able to tell but the building looks like a castle prison, and I’m standing with Matt, a good friend I made at the academy. We sang together and he is an insane guitar player.

 

Just me with an inflatable dinosaur.

 

Our attempt to make a star with our bodies on grass. (same day, July 4th)

 

Found a four-leafed clover that day too

 

An unconventional 4th of July dinner with the boys in the academy… Bratwurst inside hotdog buns and Kartoffelsalat.. but we managed to have iced tea! In this picture the boys are imitating Lu Laoshi… he taught us our favorite Chinese words “canting” and “chifan”, which mean “place to eat” and “eating”. We’re strange children.

 

Not far from the university, they had hot air balloons in the sky (this was also the 4th of July) and I pride myself of this artsy shot with the lamp post right in the middle LOL

 

The Wiener Cafe!! You could invite your German teacher to this traditional-style eating get-together in the W&L dining hall– traditional dress was encouraged, and I though all these guys looked amazing, so I snapped a pic 😀

 

….Steve’s shorts in honor of ‘MURICA day… (he was one of the guys who broke the window, btw)

 

I love this picture because Haley (the ginger cracking up on the left) is so amazing… Our last week of gov school we had a “Geheimnesfreund”, a secret person who we’d smuggle gifts or nice favors to anonymously, and at the end it was like a Secret Santa revealing, and you’d give your last present to the person so they’d know who you were, and Haley gave Calvin (the guy in the chair) a picture of a green penguin she drew herself. Just because she’s cool like that.

 

The guy in the yellow shirt and white pants was the bane of my existence.  RA named Lenny. He’s only 19 but he’s.. insane. He fooled all of us with a wig on the first day…

 

Internationales Abendessen! (International Dinner) with the other academies– French and Spanish 😀 The girl behind me spoke excellent French, as did the guy in the red shirt.  The guy in the black is named John, he was another German partner in crime. It was so cool– English was forbidden (like always)– we could speak only our languages…I know only a handful of words in French, the French people knew only a few German words… so we met in the middle and I talked in Spanish with a French girl who knew some Spanish (enough to get by). It was such an interesting experience trying to understand each other.

 

Left to right, our energetic RA’s… Makenna, Leah, Matt, Mariah, Meredith, Lenny.

 

Marley and Me with a mustache (LOL she hates it when people make that movie reference with her name, but I love her so it’s okay).

 

UNSERE DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL MANSCHAFT! (Our German soccer team!) The last week, we had a soccer tourney against the other academies… whoever won the most games was champion. The Spanish academy scored like, 7 goals… we scored 1 and the French scored none.  But the Spanish were cocky as hell so the French rooted for us when we played against the Spanish LOL