10 February 2012

3 weeks!

3 weeks of Walking on Sunshine have come and gone. All things considered, the first three weeks have gone smoothly! A few glitches here and there, but I can't complain! I knew from the get-go that the success of this program would come down to the mentors.  The mentors who have come forward to volunteer for this program have been amazing, and I am so thankful for their dedication to this program, and their dedication to their mentees.  They represent a source of trust, dependability, and inspiration for their mentees.  Unfortunately, when mentors cancel their relationship with their mentee may take a few steps back.  Because homelessness itself can erode social relationships, many participants in the program are rebuilding their self-efficacy in forming and maintaining social relationships.  So, when someone cancels on them, it may impact them harder than it would impact someone with intact and thriving social relationships.  This is hard. I realize that things come up for mentors (people get sick, have school or other obligations, etc.), BUT, I really want the best for the participants of the program. I need to put my personal investment in the success of this program aside and realize that life happens. These experiences are learning experiences for myself, the participants, and the mentors.  We will all survive, obviously...and I can only hope that they make every party stronger, particularly the participants. I pray that they do not take it personally and that they know that their mentor is there for them, but that things do come up.  Their resiliency probably allows them to recognize this bettter than I do. Funny how things like that work..

There was my rant about this program. In case you can't tell, I have poured my heart and soul into this program. It warms my heart to hear that the participants are really enjoying their walks and time with their mentors. And of course, they are enjoying their new walking shoes!!

Whatever the outcome of this program may be, I know that this time in my life is one that I will never forget and one that I will allow me grow as a person and community member.

17 January 2012

Let the program begin...

Whew...tomorrow night is the kick-off event for Walking on Sunshine!! For those who don't know, Walking on Sunshine is a mentor walking program for women in transitional housing developed and planned by yours truly.  I'm thinking that last spring I blogged about the extensive needs assessment that my program partner, Kelly, and I conducted. The result was a mentor walking program to address self-esteem, depression and anxiety among transitionally housed women here in Missoula. After several months of planning, preparing, recruiting volunteer mentors, applying for funding, and coordinating, the program is actually a reality!

Tomorrow mentors and mentees will meet for the first time. A good time will be had by all...we will share dinner, mentors and mentees will decide on a day and time to meet each week during the 8 week program, and we will play a little "get-to-know-you" game! Then, next Monday, the program officially begins.  Mentors and mentees will meet at their arranged time and walk and talk. This program isn't meant to cure various mental health issues but rather help women take the initial steps in engaging in physical activity (this was something they  mentioned wanting in the needs assessment) and help them improve their self-efficacy toward forming and maintaining positive social relationships because the social relationships of homeless individuals are often eroded by homelessness itself or the factors leading to homelessness.

Unfortunately, Missoula is set to receive 10-12 inches of snow this week!! This is bad news for a new mentor walking program. Hopefully the excitement among the mentors and participants will continue despite the freezing cold weather conditions.  Time will tell...and whatever happens, I will be writing about it in a few short weeks!

Stay tuned for program progress and the nitty gritty details.

29 December 2011

Part 4

Here it is...the gap between Part 3 and Part 4 of this graduate school adventure. A lull. Feels so strange. I have forgotten what it is like to have little to do. I feel so lazy! There are little things I could be doing to prepare for Part 4, but right now I am enjoying laziness. I am reading books for fun, watching movies, cooking, baking, snuggling with June...ahh. It does get boring, but sometimes it is nice to just be "bored."

Part 4 will come and go like the crack of a whip. At least that is how Part 3 seemed to go.  Fall semester was a whirlwind...but I guess I said that about the first two semesters as well.

I look forward to this semester: an internship, one course on campus (Ethics with my favorite, Dr. Burns), one course online (Epidemiology...should be interesting to say the least), and my professional paper project (the infamous mentor walking program for homeless women). Mix in a few TA and RA responsibilities and its bound to be a wild 15 weeks. Can you believe that...15 WEEKS?! Is that really it?! Holy smokes. Then its off to the "real world" (as if I haven't been in the "real world") where I get a job, Casey and I wake up, go to work, come home eat dinner and sleep then do it all again. Sometimes that sounds very appealing, other times it doesn't.  But, it is our life, our adventure, and it, too, will be a "wild ride."

For now, I am enjoying the lull. And I will continue to do so until I head back east (to Montana) in a few weeks.

13 December 2011

Don't take it personally

"Don't take it personally" seems to be a lesson I need to work on. Why are people so mean and grouchy? I know it isn't because of me or anything I did wrong. It's just the end of the semester, and people are stressed, tired, and ready for a break. Nevertheless, rude attitudes seem to get to me. Blah. Life goes on!

29 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...kind of. Even though we had a short summer, fall has been extremely long and lovely.  Last year at this time we had already had several snowfalls and several days where temperatures reached well below zero degrees here in Missoula.  This year we have only had a few minor snowfalls and NO DAYS below zero.  Can you say "hot diggity?!"  It has been nice.  However, that means it doesn't really look like Christmas! And, that means that I am in a little bit of shock. I cannot believe that it is almost the end of the school semester and that Christmas is less than one month away. No joke, I have not even started my Christmas shopping. Granted, I am not doing a lot this year. My family is trying to get back to the real meaning of Christmas...the way it was celebrated before snuggies, department stores in giant malls, and ipods came along.  But, nevertheless, I cannot believe that December 1st is less than two days away. Some of it has to do with the weather, and some of it has to do with how busy I have felt lately. Literally, my days are speeding by, and if I don't stop to take it all in, they are gone and I am here in my apartment at night once again.  I don't even know where today went.

Anyway, school, family, friends, and Casey are all doing great. I won't go on and on about how busy I am and how much I miss Casey.  We are doing just fine, as usual. We cannot wait to spend the holiday break together, and we cannot wait until I am in my fourth and final semester here at UM.  In just a few short months we can relax in each other's company, we can argue about things that couples who live together argue about, we can do our own thing while still going to bed together every night, we can have friends over for dinner, we can communicate in person, and we can eat breakfast together. Ahh, sometimes it really is about the little things. We were just discussing in our car ride back from Joseph after Thanksgiving some of the positive things that have come from this living-apart experience (it really has been an experience, to say the least).  First and foremost, we believe that it will remind us not to take each other for granted.  We know what it is like to not have each other in times of need, and we have vowed to remind each other of this when we are getting frustrated, irritated, or annoyed with each other down the road in the years that make up our marriage.  I think that this is the biggest positive thing that has come out of our time apart. Sure, it will be an adjustment living together, but as we learn to live together and make our own routines in addition to our routine together, we will be happy. And happiness, after all, is what we are all striving for. I am happy now, very happy, but I am so excited to experience that happiness.

That is all-I won't go into graduate school details.  However, do stay tuned for a new blog... as Casey and I continue to experience new things (and the same things over and over again), I feel the need to blog about it.  So, I have recently created a "joint" blog where we will share our happenings and whereabouts for friends and families.  Both of us may partake in the blogging, however, Casey doesn't know this yet so we will see how it goes!

16 October 2011

Weekend is over.

I am finding myself currently having trouble motivating myself to complete schoolwork after another great weekend with Casey. After weekends like that I want to just: 1) hide in his truck so he will take me home with him, or 2) curl up in a ball and do nothing (or blog!).  So, I am blogging, and procrastinating with my school work, and counting down the days until the next time I see him (12 days). We had a great weekend together resting, dancing, eating, drinking, loving, wedding registering, cooking, deciding, and relaxing. I didn't want it to end, in fact, it ended much too soon. Now I have another two weeks before I get to look into those loving eyes again. I will obviously survive, but it is getting harder and harder, rather than easier and easier! Nevertheless, we are a quarter of the way through the school year already. So, Christmas will be here before I know it and then next semester will be completely crazy.  Then-it will be May! Deep breaths and one day at a time...just keep swimming!

06 October 2011

Not just another post...

This is not just another post about grad school (blah blah blah) or wedding planning (blah blah blah) or about how I miss Casey (blah blah blah). Although all of those things are still happening...the first two progressing quite well, and the last one still the same. However, I must say that it is getting better...the missing Casey part. We knew it would, but we just needed to get through that adjustment period.  I am quite content (don't get me wrong, I would love it if he was here or I was there, but that's not where we are at in our lives).

Anyway, what this post is really for is for myself (and you) to think about our words and our actions.  Do our words match our actions? Are we saying one thing and then doing another, or are we staying true to our word? Are we badmouthing someone for doing one thing then turning around and doing something very similar to what we were bashing? It is something to consider. I am fairly certain that I am guilty of above items, and I think that everyone is...to some extent. Sure, some people may be "more" guilty than others.  I have noticed this characteristic in others around me from time to time...and quite frankly, it is annoying and disrespectful.  I like to think that we are honestly not aware of it when we are acting in this way.  For that reason, this post is to remind ourselves to be more aware of our words and our actions.  There is no reason to be disrespectful of others' actions. Period. And another take home message for today is to just remember that everyone strives for happiness.  That means everyone! Deep down, that is what we all desire. It is a fundamental characteristic of humans.  Happiness might be slightly different for one person than for another, but it comes from the same place.

Happy thinking! And remember, there is no reason to be disrespectful. We all just want to be happy. (If being disrespectful makes you happy, you need to rethink the definition of happiness).