New Adventures

 

I love betsyLast summer, at the end of my first week in Norway, one of my friends turned to me and said “Betsy you should consider teaching English. I know some programs you might be interested in.” I immediately laughed it off. I was NOT going to leave the country for a year after I graduated. I knew what I wanted to do: go to DC, find a job, work hard, maybe go to graduate school. It was a great plan…a plan that was not going to be changed by some teaching English abroad fantasy.

Throughout the summer though, I kept getting little nudges . Friends nagging me about it, meeting with a Fulbright program director, an email from a Luther professor recommending programs. So I gave in, I started looking into programs and into countries.

And in October of last year, I submitted my application for an English Teaching Assistantship with the Fulbright program in Ukraine. Halfway through January, I received word that I was a semi-finalist.

I am excited, and terrified, nervous, and ecstatic to report that this past Tuesday, I received word that I have been named a Fulbright Grantee in Ukraine next year. It has been a long process (8 months!) but I am beginning to realize that the process is just starting.

To my family, professors, and especially my friends thank you for pushing me to do this. I would not have started this process…let alone finish it without the encouragement, positivity, and love from each of you.

The day of my interview in February, a friend asked me what I would do if I went to Ukraine and hated it. It took me aback a little bit but then I immediately responded by saying  “I’m not pretending it going to be easy. It’s going to be very difficult but I can learn and grow a lot and that is why I am doing this” Nothing has changed since I said that, I am excited but I am also terrified. It isn’t going to be easy but I am so excited for the challenge.

So bring it on.

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Prioritize Play

Time spent playing is never wasted” 

~Dawn Lantero

In the busy-ness of my life, I often forget to do the things that truly make me happy. Nights spent watching Netflix and coloring, gallivanting in the woods, writing my blog. These things get pushed to the side in favor of finishing my senior paper, planning Senate events or taking care of my residents. And I am not unique in this facing problem. Let’s all admit it. We suck at prioritizing ourselves and the things that make us truly happy.

Last week, a February heat wave hit the Midwest. It was 60 degrees in February! And while this may indicate impending doom and gloom, the end of the world or at the various least climate catastrophe, my moments spent basking in the sun were rejuvenating for me. Spring weather always makes me more productive.

On Tuesday, it was clear that by the end of the week this taste of spring was going to come to a screeching halt with a blizzard dumping inches of snow on the cornfields of the Midwest, but that was the least of my worries. I had 10 pages of my senior paper to write, a Senate ‘emergency’, and I had just finished the most important and stressful interview of my life. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and sleep (aka escape all my responsibilities).

So, when I got a text message from Alexa asking if I wanted to go for a walk, I started thinking of all the excuses I could share with her to get me out of going. I don’t feel well, I need a nap, I have too much homework, etc. etc. etc. But I also knew that as my best friend, she would see right through each of those excuses. So, reluctantly I agreed, “fine I will go for a walk” I said, “but it has to be short, I have too much to do.” The plan was to walk to Casey’s, get a snack and then get back and start homework. I was in of obligation mode. Let’s do this walk thing and get it over with.

Walking back from Casey’s, Alexa spotted the small playground near the pool in Decorah and in her jokingly serious way said, let’s go play on the playground. And at first (still in obligation mode), I rolled my eyes, we are too OLD to play on the playground. But, a combination of loving my time with Alexa, the sunshine, and the allure of the swings, I broke down and agreed.

For the next 45 minutes, Alexa and I played. We swung on the swing set, climbed the monkey bars, and even sat on the bouncy “spring riders” (see picture below). We laughed, we philosophized, we cried (just a little), we played. For 45 minutes, I didn’t think about my obligations, I focused on being on that playground with my best friend, in that specific sun shiny moment. And it was beautiful, rejuvenating.

I came to the terrifying realization last week that I only have three more months to play here at Luther. Hopefully, life after Luther will allow me to continue to play but let’s be honest, it is going to be different. So for myself, I am going to try to make playing a priority. I am going to try to remember not to try to make excuses when people ask me to take time to just have fun. I am going to do things that make me happy, even if that means sometimes sacrificing some of my responsibilities. As Einstein says, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

It is time to reprioritize play in our lives. Go play for a bit.