Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anything is Possible

"Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe."
-Gail Devers

Sometimes life likes to throw you a curveball. You can catch it and let it take you into a new direction, or you can allow it to knock you on your ass. Personally, I like the first option.

All in all, life has been pretty darn good to me. I have a supportive family, as dysfunctional as it may be. I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for - who tolerate my crazy, understand my incoherent texts and outbursts, can practically read my mind, and support the wild streak in me - all while somehow keeping me grounded. I have a wonderful boyfriend who has seen me at my best and at my worst and still thinks the sun shines out my ass. I have a solid job and I've been fortunate enough to work with some extraordinary people. I've had the opportunity to go to academically strong schools and pursue higher education. I've been blessed with all the things I need to stand on my own and make my way in the world.

I've realized recently, though, that I've been running myself absolutely ragged in the last couple of years. I'm tired. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It's time for a major life overhaul. Now, I absolutely love my life, don't get me wrong. But at the same time, I realize that while life may be short, it's the longest thing I've got, so why not make the best of it? There's no sense in rushing through school and working like a dog when, at the end of the day, I don't feel satisfied. And to be completely honest, I feel most satisfied when I'm baking and I get to see my friends' and family's reactions to my creations, not when I ace an exam or nail an interview. This is precisely why I have decided to take a step back, slow my roll, and finally take care of me for a change.

I still believe strongly in the power of education. While I feel that right now it would be beneficial to my health and overall well-being to either take time off from school for a short while or lighten my course load a bit, I still have every intention of finishing my degree. However, I also believe strongly in chasing your dreams. I dream of doing a lot of things: graduating from college, working in sports entertainment, working in the PR field, getting married, raising a family. But most of all, I dream of someday owning and operating my own super cool bakery-cafe type thing.

I absolutely love to bake, and when I'm baking, I'm happiest. It keeps me sane and I love creating new sweets and treats that my friends and family enjoy. There's nothing better, I think, than making someone smile. I've realized recently that not only am I having a slight love affair with my mixing bowls, I'm also pretty good at baking. I don't want to sound pretentious or anything, but I love the fact that people ask for my recipes and that people who don't even know me think I'm great based on the things that come out of my oven. It's a pretty good feeling when I meet someone for the first time and they hug the shit out of me because they were given one of my cookies. In all honesty, if I could bake every single day for the rest of my life, I would die happy. I hope that someday, preferably before I'm old and senile, I have the ability to open my own bakery-cafe.

This is my vision:
- Brightly colored walls and decor
- Comfortable seating arranged in a way that facilitates community and conversation
- A large glass counter full of my specialties. Each baked good will be of my own recipe and made from scratch daily.
- The people working behind the counter and baking in the back with me will all be friends. It will be a family&friend business, owned and operated.
- Free WiFi for all patrons!
- A friendly and comfortable environment with uplifting music playing overhead, somewhere people will designate as their "spot" to hang out.
- Fruity drinks and coffee beverages on the menu
- Daily specials written on chalkboards
- Suggestion board for patrons to request baked goods
- Unassuming exterior: red brick or white store front with a sign reading "Becca's Sweets and Treats" hanging above the door

In the meantime, though, I'm going to continue to bake eighty cookies at a time in the middle of the night for no reason whatsoever, and consequently become the Cookie Fairy - dropping them off at various locations to the people whose days might need an extra sprinkle of sugar. Sounds like a sweet deal, no?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pay it Forward

Every time I begin to lose faith in humanity, someone does something to change my mind. Sometimes it's something as simple as holding the door open for me or lending me the penny I'm short at check-out. Sometimes, though, someone goes completely out of their way to do something nice, and I cannot help but smile.

This past Saturday I was at work, much like every other Saturday. This Saturday, though, I was a cashier rather than a CSS, so I naturally had more interaction with customers than normal. A woman came through my line to pay for her groceries and noted her Girl Scout cookies were already paid for. I smiled, and started a conversation with the woman. We discussed our favorite cookies, and I mentioned that mine hadn't come in yet, so I'd be sure to stop by on my way out to buy some from the girls selling them at the door. I finished ringing out and bagging her order. She paid, thanked me, and left. A few minutes later, I was bagging at the register next to me when I saw the woman again. She was coming toward me, with her carriage still full of groceries. I asked if she needed anything. She said, "No, no, but I was just on my way out and the girls were packing up their stuff..." to which I replied, "Aww, alright... next time, I guess," with a half-hearted smile. She cut off the end of my sentence by tossing something to me and saying, "but I got you your favorites. Enjoy!" I looked down at what I had caught - a box of thin mints! My favorite! I thanked her and tried to give her the money for them. She just smiled, told me not to worry about it, and left without another word.

It's so wonderful to know that there are still kind and unselfish people left in this world. It's a breath of fresh air when someone does something out of the kindness of their heart to completely change your day. Nothing could wipe the smile from my face that day. And since then, whenever someone does something that really gets on my nerves, I remember her: I remember her kindness and the way that she took the opportunity to change my day. I haven't seen her since Saturday, and I don't know if I ever will (though it's likely - it's a small town), but I hope that if I can't tell her how she alone changed my outlook on humanity that someone else will. It's this kind of person that the world needs.

Remember to pay it forward. When someone does a random act of kindness for you, I hope that you pass it on and do the same for someone else. It could make their day. Or, it could completely change their perception of humanity. Don't be afraid to be extra kind, thoughtful, or sensitive to someone. Don't be afraid to hold the door or lend a penny. It's the little things that matter most.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Life is a highway, and I'm gonna ride it...

I've neglected this for a month and a half now. When, exactly, did it become okay to have your days so jam-packed that you couldn't find even ten minutes to write a blog post. It's certainly not that I haven't had anything to talk about; it's actually quite the opposite. I just don't have time to blog much anymore. Tonight, though... tonight, I'm taking a short break from the mound of schoolwork and internship applications to talk about something that's been driving me to near insanity these last couple of weeks: restlessness.

Life's funny. I've been absolutely swamped with work since the semester started. I've been getting sleep at the most random hours, going to bed well after 3am on a regular basis, and typing out paper after paper with such fervor that my fingers get tired. Even with such a ridiculous amount of work piled up around me, I feel restless. I'm bored with my life. I need an adventure. Don't get me wrong, I love my life: the people in it are incredible, my job is pretty good to me, and I'm showing academia who's boss. But the problem I'm having is that for the last 19 years, 7 months, and 3 days, I've hardly known anywhere outside of Rhode Island. Sure, I've taken road trips all over New England and visited most of the states on/near the east coast, but I'm ready to leave for an extended period of time.

I've been applying for internships all over creation for the sole reason that I can no longer tolerate living, working, and going to school in Rhode Island. I'm just sick of it. I know that there are so many opportunities for me outside of Rhody. I love Rhody, don't get me wrong, but I'm ready to spread my wings a bit. I'm beyond ready to find my place in the world and make a name for myself. I am so ready, in fact, that I have taken to the idea of relocating to the other side of the country. Really, though, I'll go wherever I can find a good internship, not just for the position, but for the adventure of living in a new place knowing no one.

Looking into the future a bit, here's how my life is going to go:
This summer: internship. Boston, Conneticut, New Jersey, Washington DC, California... Rhode Island as a last resort.
This fall: study abroad in Florence, Italy. Byebye, America. I'll spend time in England and probably a few other European countries in the four months I'll be abroad.
Spring 2011: Hello stress. Last full semester of college. 18 credits. Commencement in May.
Summer 2011: last college class ever... most likely online, too. Byebye, academia. New job, hopefully... for that matter, hopefully outside of Rhode Island.
Fall 2011: first fall since 1994 that didn't involve a classroom, textbooks, and homework. First fall as a part of the rat race. First fall entirely on my own, likely in a place where I know next to no one.

The best part of all this? I cannot wait. I'm not afraid of being lonely. I'm not afraid I won't like it wherever I end up. I'm ready for an adventure. I'm ready to meet new people, discover new places, and put everything I've learned over the last 20 years or so to the test. There's a restlessness inside me that I cannot ignore. I'm going to follow my heart and follow my dreams. I'll let them guide me. I won't take a map. After all, life is a journey, isn't it?