JShu on the Journey

A Kansan takes on Missouri

Archive for June 2012

Sometimes, you just feel so blessed.

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Today I am thankful for:
• Friends
• Quality time
• Serene views

I had the chance to spend some time up in the Chicago ‘burbs with my friend Brittany. We hiked/walked around Graue Mill park in Oak Brook, and I got to see what Google tells me is one of two operating water-powered gristmills in the state of Illinois. I don’t know what a gristmill is. That’s ok.

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There were paths that looped around past the mill, around a creek, and it was pretty. A lot of the creek was green and mucky, but it was so calm and still. We saw chipmunks and birds, and we even saw this guy, who terrified Brittany.

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He looks far away, but he was actually pretty close. Astoundingly, he moved toward us, not away. At that point, we decided to move back. Since, as I said, Brittany is not a fan of being near deer.

It wasn’t too bad of an afternoon walk.

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Written by Jessica

June 24, 2012 at 12:52 am

Chicago trip

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Sunday, I went to Chicago. Here is the photographic proof.

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It was pretty fun. I forget sometimes how much I adore city life—even the mundane things like using public transportation. I’d never even seen a subway system until I was 18. Someday, maybe my dream of living in a city will be realized. Until then, I’ll have to make the most of small-ish town life.

Written by Jessica

June 19, 2012 at 12:35 am

Posted in Exploration

What I have learned so far

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All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

-“What I have learned so far” by Mary Oliver

First — I love this poem. You can read it in its entirety here. When I went to Google it, Google told me I have searched it many times. Creepy, Google.

Second — this isn’t a comprehensive list, but a few things I can say that I learned during life in Florida and life at my first job.

1. You might not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. Happiness can be optional. So is misery, but who wants to downward spiral into that? What you emphasize, what frame you choose to look through shape your experiences. This year, I made up a “No complaining”/ “No pity parties” rule for myself, as well as “Remember your blessings.” When things seem crappy, if you have your health, a car, some means of keeping yourself fed, friends and family, you are beyond blessed.

2. Risking it all can be worthwhile. Moving 1,000 miles away from everyone I knew was a big risk. People have said it’s brave. Looking back, I think I didn’t fully consider all of what it meant, so I don’t know if it was brave as much as bold. But I’m still glad I did it — it’s kind of the ultimate sink/swim test, and I valued the chance to really be independent.

3. Finding and making connections is so important for your emotional health. My lowest times have always been when I was unable to connect with other people. One thing about living near a retirement community was that it was hard to find other young people with things in common. Moving to Florida was as much as moving into adulthood and moving out of college as anything. I learned that friendships are intentional. You don’t just automatically have friends or people with similar interests or backgrounds as easily in a close distance in adulthood as you do in college. Connections matter.

Thankfully, little by little I did meet a handful of great people, then plugged into a great church family. Keeping strong ties with people back home (my parents, close friends) also made a big difference. When life was driving me crazy (literally at times), they were huge in keeping me sane. I needed them a lot, and I’m thankful I had them to share life with, in spite of the miles.

4. Finding balance (or some semblance of it) is also important. I moved to improve my professional life (I was funemployed about 3 months after graduation). I was able to pay the bills, do a job I liked and in my area of study, but when things didn’t go well or as well as I had hoped, it all went to pot. This ties in with connections…but I guess it’s important to realize that one area of life should necessarily determine your choices. You are a whole person outside of what you do from 9-5! I remember hearing this in college, but I didn’t really believe it. It’s true!

5. God is in control. Me sitting here in my apartment in little ol’ Morris is enough proof for me that I am not able to do anything on my own ability or will. I am not in control. Also, the people who steal your joy and hurt you — they are not in control, either. They don’t get the final say on who you are or your value. We are intrinsically and astoundingly valuable because we are hand-crafted by the God who created the universe. That’s some pretty good news.

Those are just a few initial things…your thoughts? Nobody ever comments here, so I’m challenging you to comment if you haven’t yet and are reading this.

Thanks for reading, too, by the way.

Written by Jessica

June 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Posted in Wisdom

A clarification

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After writing my last few posts, I thought I should clarify — my unhappiness with life in Florida tended to be specific to a few areas, ones that I don’t really feel comfortable going into online. I didn’t hate all of it with a passion the entire time — in fact, a lot of things had improved in general in the months leading to my move that had greatly improved my quality of life. I did want to address some quick things.

1) I don’t hate all of Florida — it’s a beautiful state with a lot of pluses, including beautiful beaches and sunny skies (mostly). I really enjoyed Orlando. If only I actually lived there and not Lady Lake! Life would have been totally different.

2) I met a lot of really lovely people in Florida – ones I miss now that I’m in Illinois. They include coworkers I grew close to, people in my knitting group (including one who became my roommate– hi Kimberly!), people I met randomly (hey Linda and Marty!), and my church at Faith Family in Winter Garden. I didn’t attend as faithfully as I should have and regret not digging in deeper and finding a place to serve, but I really do miss the people I met there.

Ultimately I realized I wanted to be closer to places where I had a stronger network. I kind of up and moved to Florida wanting something new and not realizing how I’d have to completely start from square one. When the novelty wore off, I have to say — I was pretty homesick. I realized how much I valued my family and friends up north and how I’d prefer to be closer to them if given the chance.

That’s one thing that Illinois blows Florida out of the water with — an hour away is where I went to college and still have a lot of ties. Two of my best friends live about two hours away, and pretty much my entire extended family lives about 2.5 hours away. How’s that for a network?

 

Written by Jessica

June 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The unending job hunt…comes to an end

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I’ve been thinking about talking about this topic for awhile. If you’ve been following my angst-ridden writings here or on Facebook, chances are you’ve known what the deal was — for about two years, I’ve struggled to find a job to move me back to a place that I wanted to live — pretty much the Midwest (Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana) or D.C. Anywhere but Florida.

Just out of curiosity, I recently fired up my computer, clicked on my “Resumes” folder on my laptop’s desktop, where I’ve stored nearly every clip/application package/resume/cover letter since I graduated in 2009, and started calculating just how many places I’ve applied to over two years.

My rundown (give or take a few more that were just throwaway resumes that I didn’t bother saving) for my overall job hunt wasn’t so bad — from the stuff I was able to track, I sent out about 22 resumes (sounds so small now, but I was working and applying pretty selectively), I did at least 9 phone interviews, and I did three in-person interviews.

What was so frustrating with so many of those interviews was that each seemed to be *the one.* Then, inevitably, someone else got it, the position was inexplicably frozen or was eliminated altogether. The proverbial carrot was dangling ever-so-slightly out of reach.

Then, something changed. But not after an interview process that I nearly almost gave up on after the first phone interview.

Job hunting fact: it is so helpful to know someone at the place where you are applying. In a time where getting an interview is difficult, throughout it all I’ve actually not done too bad when it comes to snagging them…it’s just edging out lots of qualified candidates/an awful economic time that sucks.

I knew two girls at my newspaper, both from college. When I saw the job on JournalismJobs the first week of January,  I nearly almost fell out of my chair. My resume was in my editor’s inbox by the next morning, I had a phone interview set up by the next week on a Thursday lunch break. Then, it came…and I veered between giving good, thoughtful answers and (in my opinion) crashing and burning. There were questions that threw me for a loop, and that day was a stressful and a day where I couldn’t communicate well to save my life. I have those occasionally and try to cope by winging it. Winging it, for me, doesn’t always work well in interviews. At the end of the 20-minute chat, the editors mentioned how they were interviewing several candidates over a two-week period of time. That’s a lot of candidates!

Given my harsh self-assessment, I gave up on hope for that one. I wrote thank you emails that night, grudgingly. I put it out of my mind. I didn’t follow up at the point where the editors said I should hear back, when there was just silence.

A full month later, I get a text from one of my friends saying that my editors were wondering why they hadn’t heard back from their email to me for a second interview. Needless to say, I totally flipped out. I check my email religiously. Inbox, spam email. I did not miss that email — it never came. My friend suggested I call ASAP, which I did. Right in the middle of my lunch with a coworker. I deduced it was a name spelling error (!) and soon learned that the email was sent a week before. Whew. They still wanted to talk. In following weeks in February, I sent up interview #2 and interview #3, more phone interviews. Thankfully they were on days I could talk well. Then came more waiting. Thank God for fiction that pulls you in and takes your mind off of life, because I needed it at the time — that was when I obsessively sped through The Hunger Games.

But even when it came to early March and I saw I had missed an 815 area-code phone call, my palms started to sweat and my pulse quickened. I stepped out onto the balcony of the newspaper office, where I had taken several rejection phone calls before and dialed. And when I connected with the editor, he said words I’ve been wanting to hear for so long.

“We take so long because we want to find the best candidate,” he started. “We think you’re the best candidate.”

Needless to say, I was a little floored, but very excited. I accepted the next day, was peeing in a cup in two days. After a painfully slow nine more days, my offer was finalized when my background check cleared. I quit the following Monday morning and was out in two weeks. Packed in three days (not recommended) and set out for Morris.

There’s more too it, including a very emotional night in which my parents told me I should go back to college to study something more lucrative than journalism or stay in Florida (they had a difficult time when they came out to apartment scout for me), but there were also small miracles, like a future coworker who let me stay with her until I found a place to move in.

I know that I have a lot of friends who are unhappy where they are, too. I just have to say — even if it’s hard to be where you are, know that you won’t be there forever. It’s amazing how uncomfortable you can be in one place and think that it’s never going to end. But you know what? It will … eventually. It’s a season.

I have thankfully learned a lot of life lessons through the experience…which may be explored in another post. Maybe.

Have you ever gone through an uncomfortable time? What got you through?

Written by Jessica

June 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Wisdom