Thursday, October 31, 2013

We love fall :)

and pumpkins and pumpkin patches.



and the Avengers and Harry Potter.




*Happy Halloween, friends!*


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For the Kids, part two

Guys.

GUYS.

Remember a little while ago when I posted about the fundraiser I'm participating in? No?

Well. It's a twelve-hour, dancing-or-standing-or-zumbaing-or-shuffling-but-not-sitting-marathon that raises money for Children's Miracle Network.

I got involved this year as an adviser and have been blown away by the amazing students working to give children and families the emotional and financial support they need. I started raising money so that the kids who receive help from the Children's Miracle Network get a chance to grow up and be college kids and turn into inspiring, passionate adults like the ones who have impressed me so much working for KU Dance Marathon.

Know what else blew me away??

Your amazing support. When I registered, I set a goal of $175, thinking it would be difficult. Because life is tough and the economy isn't great and it's hard to send money to a charity when you're wondering how you're going to get gas for your car (I know that's not just me).

But you guys. You guys got me to my goal a full two and a half weeks early.

It has been so humbling. It has been so incredible. Seeing the people I love give to this cause reminded me why I love them and why they're so awesome and reminded me why I'm so lucky to have you in my lives. (Cheesy? Yes. True? Absolutely.)

Earlier this week, I raised my goal to $225. Again, I realize this might not happen. But I didn't want to stop there. If we can find another $5 for the kids and their families, that will be a success. If you're able, please consider donating here.


Thank you to all who donated. I'm so, so fortunate to know you all.

For the Kids,




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slow. It. Down.

Graduation is fast approaching... except not really.

Do you guys ever get trapped in the planning-for-the-future-and-forgetting-the-now wormhole?

For a while, I've thought I kindof sortof knew what life would look like come May and the end of my student career at KU. Not the exact job, or the exact home, but a state, a region, a fuzzy poloroid of what my life would look like. Due to a series of events, though, my potential future has suddenly shifted ever-so-slightly and now I want to spend Every. Waking. Second. planning for a future that isn't set in stone yet.

(Besides, when is anything ever set in stone?)
But there's so much good in store before then. I need to sloooow dooooown. I need to be here, now. I need to stop bugging Pat about what's going to happen, stop looking at jobs I can't apply for yet and stop looking at puppies I can't adopt yet.

There are still days-weeks-months-half a year before graduation. And there will be so many great things in those times. Promise.

Like crunchy leaves blowing across the sidewalk.

Like my favorite student coming by my cube just to say hey.

Like the first basketball game of the season tonight.

Like hot chocolate and warm blankets.

Like Thanksgiving home with my family and a fire in the fireplace.

Gotta keep my head in the game or all these beautiful, joyful, wonderful moments are going to blow by me and I won't even have noticed.

Do you guys ever get stuck thinking about the future? Any sure-fire tricks to slow your brain down?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book review: A Stolen Life

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.


You have to know what you're getting into before you pick up this book. Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped when she was 11 years old and then was kept in captivity for eighteen years, where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped, where she gave birth, where she had to give up everything from the life she'd known. And she doesn't hold back details. So know that, going in.

That being said, this book was so interesting. I was amazed at how often it was the boredom and loneliness that troubled her -- I mean, obviously the sexual assaults bothered her. But she speaks of the boredom and loneliness probably even more.

Her account also demonstrates the intense psychological effect her kidnapper had on her. When she was older, she and her children often went on "outings" -- to the beach, to stores, thrift shopping. And as a reader you're screaming in your head, "Just tell the cashier who you are!" But still, because she has explained her experience so well, you understand how and why she didn't. It's a look into the experience I didn't expect.

Like many tragic stories, Jaycee's thankfully ends on a hopeful note. And that's the best thing of all, really.

Have any of you read A Stolen Life? I'm not really sure why I did, to be honest. But it was interesting.




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Anna's first Late Night

Hello friends!

A couple weekends ago my little sister came up to visit me and Pat!

We (after much turmoil) got in to see Late Night in the Phog, a big Kansas Basketball tradition.

Then, in the morning, we went to a breakfast tailgate and then to the football game!
KU played amazingly through the first quarter...

...and then played like KU the rest of the game. :)

Then that night, we played cards with Pat's dad and friends, who were also in town for Late Night.

I think it's fair to say Anna is as much of a Jayhawk as one can be before actually attending KU.

Rock Chalk!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy birthday Mom!

My mom has repeatedly told me I don't HAVE to post anything for her birthday. It's too much pressure, she says. So I'll keep this short and sweet.

When I was home last winter break, I went with my mom to drop my little sister off at dance class. We ended up going shopping. I bought boots, a scarf, and some earrings my mom talked me into because I deserved them. Then we hung out at a bar near the dance studio and got some veggies so deep fried that there was nothing healthy left in them.

This night always sticks out in my memory. It was a really nice night, and my mom felt more like a friend than a mom, but in a really good way.

I've been really homesick lately, but mostly, I've been wishing I could spend an evening at home with my parents and little sister. I love how it has turned out that my mom is someone I really like hanging out with.

She drove three hours to see me run around in circles. She woke up early, and stood around in the heat while I ran in circles -- actually, she's done that twice. She's my best cheerer. She is the first person I call with good news and the first person I call with bad news; she's a great campfire companion, a social media maven, an activist and a hippie, and the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

Happy birthday Mom! Hope it's a great one.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anniversary camping in Pomona State Park

Hello friends!

This weekend, Pat and I belatedly celebrated our three-year anniversary by going camping!

Camping for our anniversary is a new tradition we started last year, and I hope it's a tradition that keeps going! This year, we wanted to go somewhere new (rather than the local camp grounds we've been to several times) and Pat found Pomona State Park in his Kansas magazine. They have a great website where you can look up the campsites, so we picked this pretty waterside spot even before we got there!

Pat (who really planned the whole thing while I was on the struggle bus for other reasons all week) also found some awesome recipes online and we cooked our dinner on the campfire!



We also played around by the water, made s'mores, and had a great time.

Do you ever go camping? I never thought I'd be someone who loves camping, but I do! Hoping to work up to where we can camp for a few days at a time. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dr. Bob Run, take two

Hey friends!

So it's already been a month since I ran this race, but I really wanted to post about it, so here I am.

First of all, a recap: I ran the Dr. Bob Run in 2012 as my second race/second 5k ever and it kicked my ass. I ran it with the bf, Pat, and was so so disappointed in myself -- because he'd done no training at all and could have been faster than me and because it was so difficult for me -- I was breathing really hard and had to stop and walk a few times, which I hadn't done in my first 5k.

To be fair, the course is super tough. The Dr. Bob Run is held at Rim Rock Farm, which is where KU's cross country team trains and competes. Loose dirt and grass trails, big hills -- but GORGEOUS scenery.

Anyway. This year.

This year the race was just a week after my second half marathon. The weather was PERFECT and I felt pretty good going into it -- wasn't really sore anymore and was excited to run a shorter race. Pat ran again with me this year, but now I've run enough races with others that I wasn't really nervous about running with him.

I brought my phone on the course but didn't listen to music -- I just used it to keep track of the distance. Me and Pat kept a great pace for the first few miles and then split up with just about a mile left.

I finished up solo and was SO HAPPY with my race overall. I had a 10:23 pace throughout, which is good for me anyway, but crazy good when you add in all the hills.

I finished in 32:15, a full FOUR MINUTES better than my time on the course last year. Huzzah! Pat beat his time from last year by a few minutes as well, but I didn't write down his times, just mine. :)

Finishing the race that much faster than the year before and having a great race after such a difficult one the week before was seriously the best feeling! I am no longer enemies with the Dr. Bob Run. :)

What's one of your shining moments of work-out or running victory? I'd love to hear!



Monday, October 14, 2013

For the Kids

Hi friends!

Last week, I posted about my job and why I love it.

Today, I wanted to share with you an awesome opportunity I've had this semester.

Dance Marathon is an organization/event that takes place at universities across the country. KU Dance Marathon strives to provide emotional and financial support to the children, and their families, of KU Pediatrics, our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. KUDM hosts fundraising events throughout the year. These efforts culminate each November, when more than 500 KU students unite to stand on their feet for 12 hours at Dance Marathon.We stand because we can, for kids who can’t.

I joined KUDM as an adviser this year and have been so impressed, so inspired and so amazed by the dedication of the students in this organization!

Talking with one of the Dancers about the miracle children they've met is like talking to a mother about her children. Many of them have been involved in KUDM since they started at KU, and it has changed them. Knowing these children has given them each an incredible heart for serving others and extraordinary passion and dedication. You can see it in the way they talk with each other, in their every action, and in the spark in their eye when they're working on KUDM.

As I talked about last week, I am studying to work in colleges and universities, helping students grow, change and become the best versions of themselves they can.

I am fundraising and will be standing for the kids so that each of them can have the opportunity to reach this incredible period in their lives -- so they have the chance to grow up, to make awesome choices and terrible choices and explore the world and figure out how they fit in it. I'm fundraising for the kids and standing for the kids so they can have all the opportunities I've had and all the opportunities I haven't.

I know there are a million good causes out there, and I know everyone's finances are tight right now, but I hope you will consider supporting my participation in the KU Dance Marathon 2013 event. All contributions will benefit my local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Any contribution will help, and all donations are tax deductible.

If each of my Google followers donated just $1, I'd meet my fundraising goal. If you can spare even just a dollar, I hope you will.
You can find my personal fundraising page here or by clicking the new badge on the side of my page. If you're local, consider becoming a dancer yourself! The event / celebration is November 9 here on the KU campus, and we will be standing and dancing for the kids from 10-10! It's guaranteed to be a great time.

Thank you all for reading!

For the Kids,


Friday, October 11, 2013

Book review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.


Ender's Game was a super quick read for me. There were some slow parts, but most of it is filled with sci-fi action and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Ender is a nice kid, and you care about him and what happens to him. And a lot happens to him. Ender is tortured by his brother and then is pretty permanently taken from his family. He faces several plots to physically harm him and one plot to kill him. He advances through school at lightning speed, which isn't making him any friends -- all knowing he is being groomed to lead a war.

Oh, and did I mention that all this starts when he is six and ends when he is barely a teenager?

At the same time, Ender has been bred -- created, designed -- to lead a war. To end a war. So he is cunning and analytical and sometimes violent and you wonder if you should really be cheering for him and then he questions himself and you care about him again.

It's a lot of feelings.

I liked most of the book. I did not like the end. Or the beginning of the end, before it goes into epilogue-y stuff. If you've read it, I'd love to discuss with you (I'm lookin at you, Kate) -- just beware of spoilers in the comments.

This is a great book, I would think, for reluctant male readers. And now, it's a movie!! Coming out soon.

Have any of you read Ender's Game? What did you think?







PS: In case you missed it, I posted yesterday about my trouble with the author, Orson Scott Card.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The opinion of the artist

I have an interesting question for you guys.

Tomorrow, I plan to post a review of the book Ender’s Game. The author of Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, is well known for being anti-lgbt. Enough so that some people plan to protest the upcoming movie adaption of Ender’s Game. And I am very pro-lgbt.Card has also been quoted comparing President Obama to Hitler, saying he is "by character and preference, a dictator."

I bring this up NOT to start a debate on Obama's merits as the president or gay rights or equal rights or marriage rights or any of that. So please, do not focus on that part of this post.

But I bring it up because it led me to a broader question:

Do the personal opinions of an artist – a writer, a director, an actor, etc. – affect the way you view their work even when that work is on another subject altogether? Or I guess, does it change the way I should view someone’s work?

There are enough examples of authors with controversial or offensive opinions Buzzfeed made a list of them. Roald Dahl was a self-identified anti-semite. Dr. Seuss has been accused of being racist. And to broaden it from only authors, Walt Disney has also been accused of being racist. Disney!

I went ahead and read the book, mostly because I didn't personally spend any money on it.

But also because I'm not sure whether I feel like the author's personal opinions should relate to my reading of their book. You know?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Does it bother you if you find out that an artist you love holds opinions you disagree with? How much does it affect your appreciation of their work?







PS: Please, please keep the comments kind. I do not mean to attack anyone with this post. Merely to bring up a broad discussion. I reserve the right to delete comments I find offensive. Not that I expect it. Just in cases.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lead with your strengths

Have you guys ever heard of StrengthsQuest?

Basically, it's a personality test based on positive psychology that tells you your talent themes -- things that you're good at, that could be developed into a strength if you work on them.

I'm studying Higher Education Administration, and in my field, Strengths are HUGE. Everyone knows their strengths, and people talk about them regularly.

I buy into StrengthsQuest about as much as I buy into any personality test: it's fun to take, fun to hear things about yourself, but a lot of them tell me the same things.

Except. I took Strengths for the first time shortly after starting in Higher Education, and my results gave me the language to describe why I love what I do.

See, I'm a Developer. According to Strengths, I see the potential in others -- and sometimes that's all I see. My goal is to help others succeed. I look for ways to challenge them and am fueled by signs of growth. I love working with students who are unsure or nervous and helping them leave confident and excited. I love helping students see their own potential and believe in that potential.

I get to do so many fun things in my job. I've helped students prepare for the career fair by coaching them on interviewing skills, writing stellar resumes, and helping them calm the frick down going into the fair...


I've planned retreats that include some silly things,
video

but also help students grow into leadership roles, learn to communicate better, and become confident in their abilities...

and I've helped students who came out of their first semesters with low GPAs see how they got there and how they can get out.

Day in and day out, I'm meeting with students and helping them see how awesome they already are. And then I get to help them find small ways to become even more awesome.

And it's pretty cool.

Why do you love what you do?

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