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Things I’m loving right now

I was offline for the past week while I was with Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem (a camp for children whose parents or primary caregivers have been affected by cancer) is one of the nonprofits I grew particularly attached to over the past couple of years, and I volunteer for them one week per year as a counselor for the 14-16 year old campers. This year was just as spectacularly amazing and life-changing as it was last year. I already had a year of experience with Camp Kesem so I thought I was mentally prepared, but again I was blown away by the campers. When they have every right in the world to be selfish and focus on their own difficulties, they are some of the most caring, generous and fun people I have ever met. There’s nothing quite like that warm fuzzy feeling after camp when the magic hits you.

Now that I’m all settled in at home again, I’ve returned my focus to the job hunt and post-grad life. While writing cover letters isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world, I get pretty fired up thinking about the future and all the different opportunities I have ahead of me. I’m really enjoying this stage of life that I’m in. It’s totally flexible and could be anything at this point. I know that kind of uncertainty might make some people anxious, but I’m enjoying it. It gives me a lot of chances to follow my dad’s favorite piece of advice, “the sky is the limit.” Sidenote: I realize that there is a lot beyond the sky. In fact, the vast majority of everything is outside the reach of our planet. However, I still appreciate the spirit of the phrase that has motivated me since I was a little girl. And the jobs I am applying for happen to be within the limit of the sky.

I wanted to share a few of the things that I’m loving right now. I love being able to find joy and beauty in the little things. When that happens, I love telling my friends, or the whole internet in this case.

1. There’s a lot of awesome music in the world right now. Here are some of the tracks I’m listening to.

2. Maple View Farms chocolate milk. Ohhhh it’s so yummy. Chocolate milk is usually one of my favorite treats and theirs is especially creamy and delicious. (Like everything else they produce)

3. I’ve had a lot more time to cook from scratch. Thanks, Pinterest for these great recipes! I recommend them to anyone who likes food, even a little bit. I was really inspired by all the French, Italian and Greek cuisine when I returned from the trip with my sister, so I loved finding this recipe for the vinaigrette found on every salad in France, as well as homemade mayonnaise. You know there is truly no substitute if you’ve ever had it. I also brought back a box of macaron mix that I’m saving for later (I know! *hisses* Pre-made mixes, sacrilege. But this one was carried home from France so it’s okay, right?). All my travels helped me realize just how common processed food is in America, and how much more delicious it is to keep recipes to the essentials. It’s hard to beat something as simple as a homemade loaf of bread with olive oil with freshly-ground pepper. Simple, but certainly not plain. Also, let me just say that the Greek have a way with iced coffee. Other recipes I’m loving:
· Chickpea, Feta and Parsley Salad I found this one at Weaver Street Market and immediately searched for a copycat when I got home
· Kale Salad with Pine Nuts and Cranberries It might be a little faddish with the kale, but yummy regardless
· Eggs Benedict Brunch lovers, unite! Bonus points for homemade English muffins
· Green Goddess Sandwiches Lunch has just been changed forever
· Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas Anything with black beans, yes please

4. Breaking in my new running shoes. They might hurt my knees right now…I definitely should get some inserts, but still, there’s something fun about new shoes. There’s whole new world of adventure out there! And my feet are ready.

5. It’s not a million degrees outside anymore. Granted, there is always the notorious North Carolina September heat wave, but I’m enjoying the weather right now.

6. Working from my front porch

7. Rediscovering some of my mom’s old blankets with some awesome retro designs

8. I have time to do a lot of writing, like this!

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Running into old friends

Literally, running into old friends!

One of the things I love about living in Cary over the summer is that I don’t have to worry about seeing people I know when I look crummy, but tonight didn’t work out that way. Jenn and I crossed paths on our evening runs (she was already 1.5 hours into hers, I just started) and what I had planned on being a quick jog turned into an hour of catching up.

Let me start by saying she’s in way better shape than me, so when you imagine our conversations, you can imagine me being really out of breath.

It’s so crazy how similar our undergrad paths are, and also so different. Jenn is five years ahead of me as a member of the class of 2009. She and I are both 4-year dancers for UNC Dance Marathon, counselors for Camp Kesem, and members of Panhellenic organizations. We both also went through the experience of jumping around majors and pursuing many paths. That’s where we differ; she tended toward law and organizational development when I tend toward advertising and creative work. The weirdest part is that I had no idea of any of this. We fell out of touch, understandably, as she went to Carolina and got really busy, and then I started Carolina right after she graduated. But somehow we got involved in very similar avenues. Tell me that isn’t cool!

We spent a lot of time together during my middle school and her high school years. Jenn was a tutor/babysitter (realizing now that we were way too old for a babysitter, but that’s my parents) for my sister and I. We played tennis, did homework, prepared for her prom, talked about friends, asked for advice, went shopping, you name it. My parents loved having her around because she was undoubtedly a great influence on 13-year-old twins with too much energy, and we loved spending time with Jenn because we thought she was the coolest person in the history of ever.

Still do, by the way. And especially after our chat tonight! She is a grad student at Duke, employee at a consulting firm for the UN in New York and world traveler. It’s awesome to see her now a few years later and see how both of us have grown since our time in Cary together. I’m definitely at a turning point in my life since I’m about to graduate UNC in a year, and she’s at a major crossroads as well as she decides her future path. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for both of us.

I’m not sure how to conclude this, so I’d rather not. Who says you have to tie up relationships neatly with a bow, and store them away for later? I say keep the book open and let the story continue. I probably won’t see her again for a while, but that just means we’ll have all the more to talk about next time.

Until next time!

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