30 days of thankful

Each day of November I took a moment to be thankful.

Some are obvious, some are personal, some are intimate, some are unusual, and some are just fun.

Each day I tweeted my thankfulness, then documented that post and blogged about it.

Here is my 30 days of thankful list.

november 1– thankful for kind handwritten notes from my students to remind me why I love my job.

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I am a total sucker for handwritten notes. Even though I am guilty of not taking advantage of the simple beauty they provide, nothing can cheer me up or change my mood like a warm, handwritten note. This is a hectic time of the semester, where we are bombarded with lots of events and I work (well over) my 20+ hours a week. I walked into my office the other day and I had this note sitting on my desk, filled with such kind words. I love notes, but more importantly, I love my students.

november 2– thankful for an empty ($0.00) bank account because I’m proud to be able to put myself through grad school (even if it’s rough).

I don’t like talking about finances usually. It’s on my banned list of things you don’t need to know about me as a person unless we have a close and intimate relationship (list: finances, politics, life regrets, opinions on other people’s decisions, etc). However, I don’t want to be shamed for something I am proud of. I am putting myself through grad school, and it’s hard, but I’m proud. I barely have any scholarships compared to undergrad (but I am extremely thankful of the few I have received!) and my living expenses are a lot higher. Not only am I putting myself through grad school, but I am learning even more about myself and life as I work hard to play harder. I know my tight finances won’t last forever, and my education is worth more than any amount of money I could have in my bank account. I realize I am far too fortunate to have an opportunity to not only receive my dual bachelor degrees but also a MASTERS degree, and I am thankful for that no matter the cost (literally).

november 3– thankful that I have a car to drive to visit my boyfriend and the ability to fix my broken A/C. 

If you know me, you’ve met my car Hank. He’s quite a character (a 2003 bright blue Ford Taurus) with way too many miles. I’ve been driving Hank since before I got my driver’s license. While his nickname is Hank the Tank because of how massive he is, there are two great things about him: he is fully paid off and the A/C is GREAT (when it’s not broken). My boyfriend lives in Alabama, about 6 hours away from me. A few weekends ago I had to drive home from Pensacola (about 5 hours) after a wedding with no A/C. It was rough, but then I remembered how fortunate I was to have A/C in the first place. So as I drove to Alabama with my windows down and broken A/C off, instead of being mad that I was sweating, I was thankful that I not only get to drive and see my boyfriend but also that my A/C will get fixed on Monday. I’m fortunate to ever have A/C, and my boyfriend is totally worth the drive anyway.

november 4– I’m thankful for the little boy that made me an aunt on his 5th birthday. Being Auntie to my 3 babies is the best. 
portable-network-graphics-image-29e44a349754-1My freshman year of college, my sister had a baby. It was the first grand baby of the family, so of course we all fell in love with him even before he was born. This kid has so much personality and such attitude and I love seeing him grow up, explore life, and form opinions. My sweet niece came along two years ago, and my Godson (this guy’s little brother) just 7 months later. A scary incident last month brought me to tears but made me even more thankful for his little life. He will forever have a special place in my heart, and I am so thankful that I get to love a little human that isn’t my own child (even though some people think he’s mine) as much as I do.

november 5– I’m thankful to have such a wonderful, loving, and supportive boyfriend who is also my favorite and best adventuring buddy.

I don’t want to get too mushy, but I would be mistaken if I didn’t give this incredible man his own day of thanks. I could never explain how thankful I am for him: he’s my cheerleader, my encourager, my best friend, my support system, my challenger, and my #1 fan. He makes me feel more loved, special, encouraged, safe, and motivated than anyone has ever made me feel. Plus, he’s super adventurous and we take the most fun trips together, and he doesn’t get mad when I ask him to take lots of photos. So thankful for him and how much I get to see him, even though we are long distance {for now}.

 

november 6– thankful for @SAGradMOD and all my #SAGrad friends/community {on Twitter}. They’re encouraging, supportive, & I learn so much from them! 

{Almost} every Sunday I participate in the Twitter #SAGrad chat at 8pm EST: the community of friends I have discovered and the network I have built from these chats is incredible. I brag about them quite often, but never quite know the words to say to express how cool I think they are. It feels amazing to have a community that: 1) allows me to ask questions and answers honestly and calmly and doesn’t get mad when I disagree or don’t understand, 2) loves me and cheers me on, even though I have only met 1 of them so far in person at a conference, and 3) gives me high hopes of the future of Student Affairs. I have learned just as much from my discussions with them than I have in my grad school program, and I am so thankful they give me an open and safe space (even though it’s public on social media) to ask questions, challenge their ideas, challenge my own ideas, network, learn, and grow. So to each and every one of you, you’re great. You know who you are.

november 7– I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet with students who are interested in student affairs and share my experience with them! 

Last week, a student came and asked when I was in office and when I would be available. She was talking with another colleague about wanting to go into student affairs, and that colleague recommended she come speak with me. We set a meeting and our hour went by way too fast. I was thankful for this opportunity for two reasons: 1) I love being able to talk about my journey in student affairs and why I am here, and 2) I love seeing future #SAGrad students be excited and eager, ask questions, and grow their passion for our career field. This student is a kick-butt student and works so hard, and she will be the best and most ideal #SAGrad that any program or assistantship could ask for. I cannot wait to see her continue her journey, take a year off to explore options, and begin her search again soon. Student affairs, you have some great rising professionals coming your way!

november 8– I am thankful for the personal connections, deep conversations, and fun moments with my students. I love being an #SAGrad! *Quoted Tweet*

Tonight as I worked an election watch party after an exec meeting, I sat with one of my students and chatted about life. Sometimes the informal and casual chats are the best (especially when you slowly venture into those deep life chats, ya know?!). We had a great conversation and she opened up to me about some life things, and we also sat and giggled about other random things. I am thankful that I am in a profession where I can get to know my students on a more personal level. I am thankful to have students that are so eager about life and excited about programming and our organization. But most of all, I am thankful to have my wonderful students and watch them grow and learn about life, but most importantly, share that adventure with me.

november 9 (extremely selfish)– I am thankful that this election has challenged me to grow in new ways I never thought possible.

If you know me, I don’t talk about politics (banned list of things you don’t need to know about me as a person unless we have a close and intimate relationship, remember?). I really don’t talk about it to most people, but especially not on social media / at work / with my students. I talk about the effects it has on my field and my students, but I won’t talk about my personal stances or views. Why? For lots of reasons that I don’t need to explain, but mainly because I want my students to always feel comfortable coming and talking to me when they feel like they can’t talk to the world. Without going into details: this election has challenged me hard. I’ve spent so much time questioning my own values and morals. I’ve spent so much time questioning my friends and trying hard not to judge their reactions. I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what my role is to my friends, my family, my colleagues, and my students– especially when a lot of these groups conflict with each other. It’s hard. I’m not perfect. This world isn’t perfect. But I try every day to be the person that I don’t like seeing on social media, regardless of political views.

november 10– thankful for long weekends that give me the ability to rest (mentally) beginning Thursday evenings from the chaotic weeks.

I am usually able to put my “20 hours” of graduate time into Monday-Thursday. Sure, this makes for longer days (between work, class, and programs, my norm is to be gone for 12 hours a day) but I am thankful to usually have Fridays off. And by off, I mean flex days. Sometimes I go into work or use Fridays to get stuff done, but a lot of days I am able to take off. This is really convenient for times I just need a mental rest and really embrace the “long” weekend. Class ends at 4pm and I can come home, make some dinner (or give in and grab Chipotle on the way home), then lay in my bed and watch Netflix and focus on me time instead of the constant hustle and bustle of being a grad student. Being in a long distance relationship is hard, but I am extremely fortunate to visit my boyfriend or have him visit me a lot. Even so, I treasure my Thursday evenings (waiting for him to get into town….)  when I have some time alone to just…. do nothing. And by nothing, I mean rest.

november 11– extremely thankful for all the men and women who served or lost their life so we have the ability to have our voices heard.

I am a military brat through and through. My brother, my father, my paternal grandfather, my maternal grandfather, my cousin, my uncle, my aunt, and all my great grandparents…… you get the picture. I was raised believing in and supporting the military and would not change a single moment of it. I could go on a tangent of why being a military brat is the best thing that has ever happened to me… but that’s a different story for a different time. Point being: Veteran’s Day resonates with me in a deeper way than it does for most. You appreciate the sacrifices our men and women make for us a little differently once you hear stories of war or have your own father miss important milestones for you and your family while he is deployed…

No matter what is happening with this country, I will never be able to thank you all for your complete selflessness. But thank you.

november 12– I’m thankful for DisneyWorld: a place that keeps childhood dreams alive and where everyone just wants to be part of the magic.

Minnie stole my boyfriend. Yes, she made him “propose” to her. But then, Donald took me.

It seems silly, but I will always appreciate the innocence, fun, and magic of Disney. My boyfriend and I are both huge children at heart, so I love being able to escape to Disney and just enjoy being immersed in magic and tear up (or cry…) because I just love the little moments of happiness. The atmosphere is just different at Disney, and I will forever be appreciative of the hard work of thousands and thousands of Cast Members that make every experience a magical and memorable one. Plus, I love Mickey pretzels and cheese.

november 13– Thankful for the UF SPHE cohort of #SAGrad friends that celebrated #SPHEgiving tonight at my home! #SPHElove

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I live with my two best friends in the program. Every year our Student Personnel Association (SPA) hosts a Friendsgiving, and this year we were fortunate to host it. It was absolutely wonderful to have everyone come, eat some amazing food, and go around in a circle and share what we are most thankful for. I absolutely love how our program is cohort style, and it’s always nice getting to host the first year students. The fall semester is already almost over–  and we all deserve a great break!

november 14– I’m thankful for the perfect timing of my scholarship from The SA Blog as I register for @TPE2017 and @NASPAtweets. Thank you @The_SA_Blog!

Over the summer, I saw a random scholarship opportunity since I’m a huge follower and fan of The Student Affairs Collective. I know I am having to pay my own way through TPE, NASPA, and NACA Nationals, so I’m taking advantage of every scholarship opportunity I can. I applied, later found out I was selected for the next round, and was fortunate to receive one of the scholarships! Today I got my check and it was perfect timing since I also just registered for TPE and NASPA Annual Conference. I am not letting money stop me– I am excited to attend these conferences and hopeful to interview with some amazing colleagues and possibly even find my final fit! Being an #SAGrad is hard, but I’m thankful for kind people that offer scholarships to make this a little bit easier on me financially.

november 15– I’m thankful for long days, because they make me feel accomplished, and make me appreciate the shorter days more.

My supervisor has been out yesterday and today. I start working at 9am, and end around 7:30pm. Of course, I always have side conversations with my students at the end of the day, so I get home after 8pm to do some homework, rest, and prepare for full days of work and classes with events Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night.

Woof.

I have a lot on my plate this semester. Now more than ever, I’m learning what it means to balance different activities– school, meetings, student time, homework, readings, papers, associations, clubs, traveling, food, rest, etc. I love seeing how well I handle it all and accept the chaos and manage my different responsibilities. However, it exhausts me! Some days feel extra long, but I’m thankful for 1) being able to successfully conquer them, even in moments I feel like I won’t, and 2) loving my “short” (aka normal) days and having evenings to myself. Man, this #SAGrad life is hard, but I’m also doing a pretty rad job of doing it all.

november 16– I’m thankful for my students and their contagious passion for what they do.

I showed up to one of my students’ events late because I had class. The two directors in charge are super strong, independent, and reliable, so I totally trusted them starting the event before I arrived. I walked in and the event was going swimmingly– even half of our executive board was in attendance to either work or support the event (and for the end of the semester this was a great turnout since they all met their attendance criteria already).

My students are the best.

The student directors came up and ecstatically shared how well the event was going and how much the students loved the activities. My other students came up so excited about the event. I was able to sit back and watch: not only were my students rockstars, but they were absolutely thrilled about the event. I love what I do, don’t get me wrong, but I adore seeing the looks on their faces when they are so happy, satisfied, and proud of themselves.  I honestly could not ask for a better group of students to work with daily.

november 17– I’m thankful for cozy nights in, with just the light of a candle and Christmas lights, snuggled in bed watching Netflix.

As much as I appreciate this, I finished Gossip Girl. And I’m in shock, still.

But tonight was so needed.

november 18– I’m thankful for a night where two of my passions came together! My first year seminar class at @GatorNights! Great work team!

So the first year seminar course I teach has a common reading book they have to read over the summer, then part of the course is attending a common reading program (aka a program themed around the book they read). Each year, GatorNights (our late-night Friday programming, and a sub committee of the programming board I advise) puts on a GatorNights themed around the book. Of course, I made this event the Common Reading Program event that was mandatory for my students (they had to attend one event as instructed by the course guidelines, not my guidelines). It was so neat to see my students working hard to put on a great event that my classroom students attended. But more so– I was able to enjoy the night as a guest. It was so neat to see my two passions come together– programming and teaching– into a successful night. Plus, it was fun when I would walk by and my students would yell hello or hug me– I felt super hip. (Am I old because I just said “hip”?)

november 19– I’m thankful for alone time reminders to treat myself when I’ve had stressful days. So happy that break is right around the corner. portable-network-graphics-image-2e0b58a9706d-1

Some days you are just really annoyed and frustrated.

And the littlest things annoy you.

And you really miss your boyfriend and your family.

And the end of the semester just isn’t quite close enough.

So you buy yourself some of your favorite food, grab a diet coke, and sit and attempt to watch Netflix even though your wifi goes out every 5 minutes.

And despite the frustration, you remember how blessed you are. You take time to yourself, refocus, and realize that if the climax of the semester is here, then that means the downfall is the next to happen.

Breathe, Amanda.

november 20– I’m thankful for NyQuil and the 14.5 hour sleeps it gives me when a cold is hitting me, hard.

So perhaps part of that previous grumpiness was a cold that was beginning to hit. But thankfully it is the weekend, I don’t have Sunday responsibilities, and I was able to sleep hard last night with a little help from NyQuil. This cold cannot stop by final days before Thanksgiving Break!

november 21– I’m thankful for Chipotle BOGOs and the chance to get to be a “cool kid” and go get lunch with the “big kids” in my office.

This semester I almost always work through my lunches. Sometimes it’s intentional– I’ll schedule meetings or leave for class. Sometimes it’s accidental– I don’t get to my lunch until 12:30pm, by which point the #SApros in my office are done with their lunches and are merely chatting, so I sit at my student’s office table and chat with them instead.

But today, we took a walk over to Chipotle. The recent BOGO came out again, so I used it with my supervisor. We ordered online and walked over with our Program Assistant and enjoyed a nice lunch away from the office. Not only was it nice to split the price of the BOGO (so we both got bowls, guac, and drinks for relatively cheap) but it was nice to finally be part of the “professional” crowd for a lunch. It’s the little things that matter.

november 22– I am thankful that I just REGISTERED FOR MY LAST SEMESTER AS AN #SAGRAD !!!!!

I’m registered. It’s so close. It’s so real.

That’s all.

november 23– I’m thankful for the ability to travel and turn any trip into an adventure, no matter how big or small.

Some people joke with me and my boyfriend about how much we travel. Yes, for him having a full time job and me being in grad school and us living 6 hours away from each other, we do have quite the adventures. However, I am thankful that I am able to make anything an adventure. It is easy to be bogged down by the details of planning a trip, but really, it’s quite simple and extremely rewarding. Whether it’s a full trip, or a quick drive and crashing at a bed and breakfast (tried it for the first time and 10/10 recommend), I am thankful that I have the flexibility and desire to travel and see new places. Whether it is 30 minutes or 5 hours from home, I treat every new place like an adventure, and it is so rewarding.

november 24– The big day. I’m thankful for sweet memories of traditions with my family, and the ability to start new ones with my best friend.

I love Thanksgiving. I love waking up and watching the parade, being particularly invested in the Broadway performances, eagerly waiting for Santa to cross my screen, only to go stuff my face before crashing and napping on the couch to watch football all afternoon.

I didn’t have that this year. By my choice.

But while I remember the warmth of the holiday growing up, I appreciate the ability to start new memories and traditions with my best friend. I love the affection in the air on Thanksgiving– everyone takes a moment to pause and appreciate the little things in life. I strive to have this appreciation every day. But because of that, I realized I don’t need a holiday to make me feel warm and fuzzy. Instead I have a loving family and a supportive boyfriend that makes me feel warm and fuzzy every day. I’m thankful that I can feel just as happy and appreciative even with a large Diet Coke and refillable popcorn while watching a double movie feature as I did at home with the parade and Ham. It’s not about the routine or actions– it’s about counting my blessings.

november 25– I’m always so thankful for this day because I can officially listen to Christmas music and no one can judge me!!!

I can’t lie, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for weeks now.

But now no one can judge me.

FINALLY.

portable-network-graphics-image-7144d7e2c1f3-1noveportable-network-graphics-image-bad486a6baab-1mber 26– thankful for enjoying a home USF game & watching a beautiful win against UCF with my big! #usfalumni #gobulls

My big is one of my biggest fans and best friends from college. She helped me through the dirtiest and darkest times of my undergraduate path, and also celebrated the biggest and best moments with me. She is a perfect Buzzfeed meme definition of my best friend– I text her about boys, communicate via random GIFs, and send her the nastiness faces on Snapchat. It’s hard being grown up and not getting to eat Taco Bell with her 3 times a day (#NewYearsDay2013) but I’m forever thankful for a life long friendship.

november 27– Thankful for candles.

They smell amaze, they’re warm, and they’re so comforting to look at.

What’s not to love?

november 28– To be honest, I’m thankful that the semester ends next week.

So much to do. Not enough time. Feeling that pressure. Talk to me after next week.

november 29– I’m thankful for long random chats with my mama.

She called to say hello. Hours later, we finally ended the convo because we both had to go to sleep. Sometimes there is nothing that can help except chats with my mama, and I’m so thankful that she is always willing and wanting and ready to listen to me.

november 30– I’m thankful for this stressful week because it means the end of semester is near and I’m thankful to be an #SAGrad! #149days

This week has been extra chaotic (I’m sensing a theme…) but is it really the end of the semester if it isn’t? This morning I went into the first-year cohort’s class for about an hour to do a presentation on summer internships: associations, dates and deadlines, tips, what the process looks like, etc. I had a flashback to a year ago when I was just learning about summer internships and it seemed daunting, but here I am overly excited to begin the job search. It’s amazing how much I really get to accomplish in graduate school, even when the semester gets frustrating. 149 days really doesn’t seem so far away. 149 days and that includes: holiday break, new years in time square, beginning my final semester, trips home, comps, three conferences, hopefully numerous job interviews, and plenty of programming every week. It will be April 28 before I know it… and that’s just the end of a chapter.

december 1– I’m thankful for all the times I couldn’t think of what to be thankful for because I’m just so blessed by family and friends.

I love being able to take a moment to force myself to be thankful. To be bluntly honest: sometimes it was hard. Some aspects of my life feel so routine, so it was nice to pause and truly take in the moment and see what I appreciate. Sometimes I just need to take a moment to smell a candle, feel the coziness of my bed, appreciate the fresh taste of an iced coffee in the morning of a busy day, or listen to the rain fall outside when I get to stay inside. I could thank a different friend or family member every day and that wouldn’t be enough. I’m thankful that I am so fortunate and blessed in my life to have overwhelming amounts of things to be thankful for. I really am a lucky gal with a great life, and I am certainly thankful of that.

XOXOXO, amandarae

quote of the day: “The best gift you are ever going to give someone- the permission to feel safe in their own skin. TO feel worth. To feel like they are enough.” – Hannah Brencher

 

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