I Sing More Than I Talk

and I talk a lot.

I received a message from a friend earlier today encouraging me to record a video of me singing and upload it on YouTube. I love singing, but I’ve never found an outlet that allowed me to perform what I’d like in public. I’ve sung a few times at various churches, and now I’ve joined the worship team at my church, but this limits me to worship music. I want to sing all kinds of songs including jazz, r&b, folk, and whatever else I get stuck in my head.

So why not start posting videos on YouTube? Who cares if they are not professional quality? In my experience, even artists that create for themselves are not fulfilled unless they’re sharing their work and receiving feedback. Art is a soul cry that desires to be heard and recognized by others. YouTube is a great way to be heard. Now every time I wish I could perform, I’ll channel that energy into a new video and post it here.

Hopefully, I won’t get blocked due to copyright infringement…

Beck

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Duke TIP 2015

Lido Beach

Lido Beach

After the horror of last summer working with Duke Summer Session, (Duke Sucky Session more like), I was more than a little apprehensive about my position as Program Assistant for Duke TIP Field Studies in Florida. After a few flights, and having to navigate through the Atlanta International Airport, I finally landed in Sarasota. I tried not to have high expectations in terms of how enjoyable this experience would be. I told myself I could have an overbearing supervisor, gossiping coworkers, and terribly behaved students. “You’re here to work, not make friends. Do your job.” I told myself for the first few days. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor and coworkers turned out to be genuinely nice people, each with their own strengths and interests that served the program well. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be a part of a functioning, albeit sometimes chaotically functioning, team who didn’t place blame on others, but worked together to solve problems. After the first week, I stopped bracing myself against the potential negative job politics and really started to make friends and figure out what on earth my position was.

Our dance theme was something about sand and beaches obviously.

My position was new and very flexible; we were basically making it up as we went along. I was used to being an administrator, making decisions, and doing everything myself. It was difficult at first to transition to being an assistant. A lot of what I did as the assistant assigned to residence life was programming and supplies runs. Even though I didn’t have a set list of tasks every day, there was always something I could do or help with. I got to go on a few really great field trips to aquariums and museums. We spotted wild dolphins and manatees and counted turtle nests. We even went for a boat ride on the Sarastota Bay and caught (then released) some puffer fish. It was amazing and I actually learned a lot. Also, DISNEY WORLD EPCOT!

I had fun captioning Renaissance art at the Ringling Museum.

at EPCOT with some staff! Man, that was a long day; my feet are still aching.

I really enjoyed attending and running programs as well. We had field day complete with an epic water balloon fight, a dance, and a kickball tournament. One of the first programs I helped with was painting, which was really fun because so many of our students are very talented artists. One student painted the Waffle House sign because “it inspired him”. I called him “waffle house” for the duration of the program. I still don’t know what his real name was. I also did some henna tattoos for students and staff, which was really fun and a great opportunity to get some practice.

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own "TIPsters"

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own “TIPsters”

fun henna tattoos!

fun henna tattoos!

I had a couple days off and had the chance to go to Siesta Key beach, which is the number one beach in the USA. It was super crowded, but the water was perfect and we had frozen daiquiris! #treatyoself2015 Such a great day.

at Siesta Key!

at Siesta Key!

On the last night after the students left, most of the staff went down to Lido Beach and had a few beers. It was so much fun hanging out and talking without any program responsibilities left. Well, I think I had one too many beers because I had the brilliant idea of skinny dipping in the ocean after it got dark. I didn’t think to bring my swimsuit, so I ran into the waves with my shorts and bra on. It was so ridiculously fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I got back on shore, and finally found my shirt, I reached into the back pocket of my soaked denim jeans and found my brand new iPhone 6 chillin’ in its “life proof” case. Yeah, it has never recovered, even after two days in rice. So now I’m using my four year old iPhone 4 that has a stylish cracked screen and a whopping 8GB of zero space until I get paid later this month. #mylifeisbeck Did I mention my debt card AND my license was also lost at sea? I was seriously off the grid for a few days. I didn’t know how I was going to get on my flights back home the next day without my ID. It felt like the start of a really good urban adventure novel. If it wasn’t for my new friends asking questions and letting me borrow their phones, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get home safely.

Duke TIP family!

Duke TIP family!

I’m still waiting for my duplicate license, so I’ve been stuck at home all week and just returned to my day job at Starbucks today. Lucky for me, I have this handsome feline to keep me company all day.

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with Gigi?

How can you not fall in love with Gigi?

I’m definitely applying for Duke TIP next year.

Beck

New Years Goals Update

  1. Find a better job.

I haven’t found a permanent job in my career field yet, but to be honest, I haven’t been searching all that hard recently. Not because there aren’t jobs available that I want to apply for, but because I had trouble finding time to apply to them. With my sister’s wedding coming fast at the end of this month, I’m purposefully putting this goal aside for now to concentrate more on helping her out. I’m hoping to restart the job search process in August.

jobs

I did get a temporary job in July as a Program Assistant for Duke TIP in FLORIDA. (Yay traveling!) I know what you’re thinking, “Becky, your last summer job at Duke was a struggle. What are you doing!?” I don’t know what this position holds for me. I want to come in positive and hopeful, but it’s difficult to keep negative experiences I had with Summer Session in the past. This is an entirely different department and set of programs; there are new people involved and I think that will make the difference. I’m also holding a position that does not have as many overwhelming responsibilities. I know this position will have its own challenges, but it’s nice to be working for an established program instead of a startup. We’ll see what happens.

So, goal 1 is not entirely accomplished, but I did find a better store to work at. I don’t know if I mentioned before how awful my first Starbucks store was. I do not work well in environments with hovering, micro-managing supervisors and my previous manager was a textbook case. Three months into the job, I was still learning and getting accustomed to everything being a barista entailed. I wasn’t making progress fast enough for my manager. She decided that I wasn’t working out and cut my hours accordingly. It was at her suggestion that I first thought about transferring stores and, boy, am I glad I did. My new store is the complete opposite of my previous store. There’s no atmosphere of “We’re watching you because you may or may not be doing something wrong.” There’s no harmful gossip or whistleblowing. In fact, I genuinely like the people I’m working with every day, including my managers, and some of them are becoming real friends to me. So I may still be a barista, but I do have a better job in a sense now that I’m at the best Starbucks in Raleigh.

Last week, we had a cookout for everyone at work and many partners showed up and brought food. We sang a lot of group karaoke together and got a little too tipsy. Then we played Cards Against Humanity and called it a night. It was a great time and I can’t wait to do it again.

THE WHOLE 30

Friends, I completed my first Whole30 (W30) mid-March. If you don’t know what W30 is, visit their website. Basically, the only things you’re allowed to eat are high quality protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats…that’s it. No sugar, bread, beans, dairy or processed foods for 30 days. It’s meant to act as an introduction to healthy eating and the paleo diet as well as promote a healthy digestive tract, immune system and psychological relationship with food.

maria

I certainly learned a lot about my body and my relationship with food during my 30 days. The first week was awful; my digestive tract was “recovering”, I had a consistent sugar headache, and I was really emotional. It was actually really similar to PMS (TMI? Don’t care). My first “test” to stick to W30 came when I was at NC State’s Recruitment Weekend and had to go back to my room and get some W30 food I had brought with me. They were serving sandwiches, chips, and cookies for lunch, none of which was W30. It was really difficult to watch everyone else eating “regular” food and have to eat something else, especially since it singled me out. Food is social too, y’all. I really hated that I couldn’t eat my normal foods because nothing was satisfying. I was over the “newness” of the program by the end of that weekend.

dis

Throughout my weeks, I noticed very clear patterns in my eating habits. When I was stressed, especially if I was lacking sleep, I had more intense cravings more frequently. I really missed Cookout, which was my go-to food for a stressful mood. At one point, I was smelling it even though there was no food around me. #phantomcookout By day 9, I was waking up hungry, which is a sign that hormone levels are normal, and was beginning to forget the late-night hunger/impulses to eat. Yay! I had a couple emotional days when I was very tired, dehydrated, and HUNGRY all the time. I think my body hadn’t figured out yet that I was giving it real food. It definitely still missed the sugar and bread.

On day 13, my sister arrived from Seattle with a list of restaurants she wanted to visit while in town. I was really afraid of going off-plan because eating out on W30 is challenging. You have to ask your server a number of questions like “What oil do you use to cook your veggies?” and “Is there added sugar in the marinated chicken breast?” It doesn’t sound like trouble, but we were sending servers to the kitchen three and four times before we ordered. It took the fun out of eating out and people got really tired of hearing about our diet at every meal. Not to mention, it was a real test of discipline not to order old favorites like pasta and bread.

In the third week of W30 is really when I started seeing some great results, clearer skin, less cravings, better sleep (hallelujah), and a smoother digestive system. I noticed that some things like fruit juice and dried fruit were too sweet for me, and I could drink coffee black without cringing. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, which I think affected my results. But aside from the tiredness, I was feeling great. On day 23, I fell in love with mustard because it’s one of the only condiments you can have on W30. My taste buds were like, “Woah, did it used to taste like this? Cause damn.” I put that junk on everything. Delicious. I hit food boredom around day 25, but it quickly went away and I noticed my energy levels were high, like crazy high. I was SUPER excited to be grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and laundry and everything was awesome…

And then it was Day 31, and I added sugar to my coffee. One of the things I kept saying during my W30 was, “It’s a slippery slope”, and boy did I slip all the way down that hill. I did pretty well at first, following the “reintroduction” protocol. After my sister’s friends visited one weekend and we had sushi and cheesecake and wine, so much wine, it was over. “It” being reintroduction and all the healthy eating habits I learned on W30.  Since then I haven’t been able to be W30 for more than a day. I tried starting another W30, but I didn’t plan well, so I ended up ordering a pizza after a very very stressful day. Sarah and I have decided to create a more sustainable W30 –style eating plan rather than complete another W30, you know, cause ice cream. I saw great weight loss results with W30, and I’d like to keep that going so I think I’ll stick pretty close to the guidelines.

wine

You should try Whole 30 and tell me how it goes! Really, it is amazing and changes how you interact with food. But, don’t expect to fix a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits in just 30 days; it’s going to be an ongoing process.

Beck

I am single, and that’s OK.

I am single, and that’s OK.

This is a new sentence that I’m writing to myself, something I try to remember when I feel lonely. It’s new to me because no one has ever told me this before. Since I was born, everyone and everything around me told me that I would really start living when I found “my special someone”, “my soulmate”. Only when I was in love and married would I truly be fulfilled in life. “There’s no good that can come out of singleness. A woman can’t find self-worth unless it comes from the admiration of a man.” These are the messages that I have heard all my life, and they have damaged me.

For a while, I believed them. I waited for guys to start taking notice of me. I waited for my first date, my first kiss, and my first boyfriend in high school. When that didn’t happen, they told me it would definitely for sure happen in college. Well, here I am four years later, still never been kissed, still single, and yeah I’ll say it, somewhat bitter.

single-women-in-the-winter-months

But I’m tired of waiting to be happy and fulfilled through a romantic relationship. I’m tired of feeling like I’m missing out on something. I could either use my single years to grow personally and enjoy my independence, or be miserable and bitter. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get lonely sometimes, it just means I don’t waste time regretting something I don’t have. I wish I could really be as strong as my words make me seem. I wish I didn’t feel pain when I see my sister and her finance kiss for the thousandth time from the corner of my eye. I wish I didn’t wonder if I just met my future husband every time I meet an eligible or attractive guy my age. I wish I could focus on my relationship with Christ, one that really would fulfill me, rather than my absence of a romantic relationship. But this is a learning process, and my feelings are still catching up with my new ideas about singleness.

My mother frequently tells me that she can’t die in peace until she sees me “married and happy”. That’s usually followed by a variation of, “If you lose weight, men will pursue you.” Is it any wonder that I have struggled with low self-esteem and poor body image all my life? It took a long time for me to re-educate myself so I wouldn’t believe in her harmful message; that my body was to blame for my singleness. I don’t resent my mother for saying these things; she truly does believe it and only wants to see me happy. I do wish that she had taught me to love myself and value my body at a younger age. Nowadays, I correct these statements as best I can by telling her that I am happy even though I’m not married, and that I don’t want a husband who desires only my body, but all of me, and I’m willing to wait for that.

Why did I spend the first two decades of my life obsessed with love?

Our culture is obsessed with love, both physical and emotional. We’ve been fed romance and love songs since we were in diapers (Disney, anyone?). We saw sex at an early age, most likely introduced in a negative way, and continued seeing it everywhere; movies, music, ads, clothes, books, news. We saw it so much that we’ve become desensitized to it. It no longer surprises us to see a woman exploiting her body to advertise a product or company; in fact, it makes perfect sense to us. Hardee’s commercials are a great and disgusting example of this. What does fast-food have to do with a beautiful/sexy woman? Absolutely nothing; but by creating a connection between a desirable woman and the desirableness of food, Hardee’s sells more burgers. It’s simple, sex sells.

Hardee’s ads are so good at what they do that they work on a deeper level. That’s what scares me, it’s subliminal. Our waking minds may not notice overt sexuality plastered over the walls of our media, we’ve learned to “ignore” it. But our inner minds and bodies absorb those messages and internalize them.

America’s Real Favorite Pastime

Traditionally, baseball is considered America’s favorite pastime, but I think most people would consider football an even greater American sport. The National Football League certainly makes more than Major League Baseball every year, bringing in about $9 billion dollars annually (Source). Would it surprise you to learn that the pornography industry is a more than $13 billion dollar industry (Source)? If where we spend our money is any indication of how we spend our time, well, you see what I’m getting at here. The pursuit of sexual experiences consumes us; it’s our favorite pastime.

What does this mean? It means that our society and the messages it is sending us about physical and emotional love are finding a home in our minds and bodies (and our browser histories). We’re taught at a young age to lust after things, celebrities, food, and wealth. We’re told we need these things to be happy and fulfilled. We’re told that our self-worth is tied to attaining these things; that we’re lesser-than if we cannot achieve these things. We’re hyper- sexualizing ourselves and then wonder why there’s a growing rape culture and a strong sexual trafficking infrastructure in our neighborhoods.

I’m not saying the sexual act or expressing one’s sexuality is bad, in fact, I believe quite the opposite. What I’m saying is that we need to evaluate how these messages are affecting us on a deeper level. Maybe sex/porn addiction is not just an individual’s lack of willpower or lack of a better hobby; maybe it’s a manifestation of those lustful messages we’re constantly bombarded with from birth. Maybe it’s a symptom of a larger societal problem. I am not suggesting that those with an unhealthy relationship with sex blame society for their problems. Rather, I am suggesting a deeper look at the root of those problems to better understand them with the goal of overcoming them. We all have natural tendencies, but our society is nurturing us to act in a certain way, and just because you may not watch pornography doesn’t mean you’re immune.

You may wonder why I am addressing my acceptance of singleness as a healthy state and larger societal messages about sex and love in one blog post. I believe these two topics are interconnected in complex ways. My previous ideas about singleness as “bad” or abnormal have their origin in the idea that women and their bodies are for men (a patriarchal idea), so by not being in a relationship, I was not living life to its fullest potential. I wasn’t “fulfilled” because I wasn’t doing what society was telling me to do in the majority of its advertisements and media, fall in love have sex with men. I also wasn’t “happy” because a man had never shown me attention or told me that I was beautiful, talented, sexy, or intelligent (all of which I am, by the way). The same societal ideas of love and sex that contributed to my frustration about being single are the same ideas that encourage self-destructive tendencies in women and men (i.e. eating disorders, sexual addiction, rape, even suicide). Since I have declared my selfhood by saying it is OK to be single, I have come to not only appreciate my freedom, but love myself and my body more. I’m not counting down the days until I meet my husband and live happily ever after. My story doesn’t begin with me meeting “a guy” and end in marriage, my story began years ago and my happily ever after is now.

Beck

NC State HEA Recruitment Weekend 2015

This past weekend, I was chillin at NC State for their Higher Ed Administration Recruitment Weekend. Thursday afternoon found me wandering around the new senior apartments, student union, and ginormous campus. We took photos with the mascots, which was cute, although I’m extra shiny in mine since we’d just gotten back from the campus tour. During dinner we chatted with current students and professors and introduced ourselves. It was really awesome how quickly everyone became friends. There weren’t any clicks, people just talked and got to know each other all weekend. I can honestly say I didn’t meet anyone I didn’t like, or didn’t think I could be friends with. Towards the end of the program, we got sad that not all of us would be there in the fall. I did hear a lot of people say that NC State was in their top choices though, so maybe we will. :)

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Friday was interview day, so we were all looking sharp and snazzy trying to get graduate assistantships. I only had three interviews (chosen with a mutual matching process). This stressed me out a lot because I thought we would have at least five or more, some people did anyway. My first interview was for a Housing Director position on NC State’s campus, which I think everyone interviewed for. I think it went really well because I was able to draw on my experience as Dean of Residence Life at Duke last summer. That craziness was worth it if it lands me this assistantship (it’s basically a free ride)! My second interview was for Duke Housing, but instead of a housing director I would basically be doing recruitment and hiring as well as managing their summer transition programs. I wouldn’t mind this assistantship, but the compensation is lousy. My third interview was also at Duke in their Center for Activities and Events. I believe I would be working with mostly students trying to start new programs/develop groups, etc. I mean, it’s a job, but again the compensation isn’t the best.

Friday was also when I had a chance to have an “academic discussion” with a faculty member; it was essentially an admissions interview. She asked me what my proudest moment of my undergrad career was and I talked about how I “crashed” my senior year and recovered from that failure to achieve the Dean’s list the semester I graduated. #likeaboss She also asked me why I wanted to attend NC State. That was easy. Two words: social justice. NC State is all about bringing in the social justice aspect of higher education, which is really important to me since I want to go into college access. They also teach with a focus on theory into practice, which is what the Elon School of Ed emphasized as well. Overall, I think my discussion went well; she nodded a lot and told me I had good answers. Yay!

photo (1)

That night I found out I didn’t have any second round interviews (for NC State or Duke) via formal rejection letters. Ouch. Not getting a second interview can mean one of two things; 1) I have already been chosen as a candidate for the assistantship, or 2) I have been placed on the waitlist or been rejected as a candidate for the assistantship in question. I was especially disappointed not to get a second interview for the NC State housing job. I have qualifications and skills coming out the wazoo here. What’s going on?! My brain, in an effort to protect itself from the pain of rejection, has been switching frequently between options 1 and 2. Of course, there is option 3, which is to find a completely different assistantship before school starts, but that leaves an even bigger question mark in the air and my brain doesn’t like that either.

Recruitment weekend ended after closing remarks Saturday morning. Rather anticlimactically, I went to work almost right afterwards. It was nice being around like-minded people my age for a while this weekend. I almost felt like my college-self again, the independent, work-oriented, intelligent Becky. Instead of my college-graduate-self, the dependent, focused on everyday maintenance, manual-labor-working Becky.

Let’s hope I hear a positive response from NC State in March!

Beck

A Weekend to Remember

This past weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. It was my sister Sarah’s 25th birthday so everything we did was to celebrate! I decorated her door, bought her flowers, wine, and gift of course. We started that Friday with a plateful of French toast with blueberry compote and mimosas. After working out and getting dolled up, we went to the mall for manicures. It was so nice to relax! Since Nordstorm Rack is one of our favorite stores, we decided to go there next. We both found a pair of amazing shoes; mine are brown and black pointed flats. Fabulous. We also stopped by Ulta so Sarah could get her free birthday gift. Hello eye compact!

Dinner was at The Melting Pot in Raleigh. We came in with mixed feelings since none of us had ever been to a fondue restaurant before. We were absolutely horrified at the prices. The “food” (fancy cheese dip with veggies and bread) was good, especially the chocolate dessert fondue, but we felt a little weird afterwards, like we just had appetizers then left. I think I might go back for dessert one day, but definitely not for a meal.

Saturday evening was also really fun. We went to a Laotian restaurant called Bida Manda. It was absolutely fantastic! Everything, including the décor and service, was tasty and satisfying. I had the pork belly soup and it’s the only soup I want for the rest of my life. SO DELICIOUS. We also tried some fun cocktails. Seriously, if you live in Raleigh you NEED to go to this restaurant asap.

Like the party animals we are, we found a cool Asian-themed club called Zinda. They played a lot of dubstep remixes, but they were actually really good for dancing. After getting drinks and dancing for a while, a guy invited us into the VIP section. You heard me, VIP bitches!!!

Turns out it was a guy named John’s (Jean?) birthday too. He was really friendly and introduced us to all his friends. He wanted us to watch him dance a lot and told us he was a good dancer, which he was. Did I mention his green light up shoes? He was also celebrating his recent engagement. He had us read he and his fiancé’s story on his phone, and well, I don’t want to be mean but it seemed like they were moving a bit too fast. They said “I love you” to each other after knowing each other for only twelve hours. I don’t know how long they were dating afterwards, but I don’t imagine it to be for long. Again, I don’t know them, so maybe passing judgment on them is wrong, but come on, twelve hours!? They were really nice though, so we congratulated them.

The drama of the night happened right before we left. Apparently, the DJ’s booth was being bumped pretty roughly by some guy. After the third or fourth time, the DJ turned off the music and ran after the guy. The crowd was blocking our view so we couldn’t see if there were any punches being thrown or blood drawn, but it was pretty exciting anyway. I was kind of worried we were going to get sucked into a mob because everyone was really mad that the music had been turned off. Angry drunk people = mob.

Sunday was the complete opposite of Saturday, calm and relaxing. I knew we were starting our Whole30 that Monday, so I wanted to buy some organic vegetables and meat. We headed to the State Farmer’s Market with a grocery list filled with every vegetable under the sun. (First, we stopped for breakfast at the restaurant they have on site, also delicious!) I didn’t know where or how to start crossing thing off my list. I’ve never had to compare prices between vendors like that. Since I don’t exactly know how to pick the best/ripe/fresh fruit and vegetables yet, I was sort of experimenting and going with the flow. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I ended up enjoying it a lot! It’s such a different experience shopping in the open air then going to a standardized Walmart. I can go in and out of a Walmart without saying a word to anybody or making contact for that matter. But at the farmer’s market, you stop and ask the farmer about their produce and where they’re from. You can sometimes negotiate prices if you can tell something is going to go bad soon (although I’m not brave enough to do that yet). You can actually learn about where your food is coming from, which is a kind of relief after reading the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food. (Seriously, there’s a chapter in there like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). Most of all, you can develop a relationship with the farmer, butcher, etc. I don’t think anyone can say they have a “relationship” with Walmart. And knowing a story and source behind your food makes it much more satisfying in my opinion (though sometimes more expensive too). When I go back this weekend, I want to get Bison meat!

I’ll write more about my week soon. I’m at the end of day three of my Whole30 right now, so I am definitely feeling a change in my body. Stay tuned!

Beck