Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sophomore Move In

Hello everyone! This is just a quick little post that I wanted to share with you. Yesterday I moved into my first ever apartment.

I moved in early for my sorority and got unpacked/settled pretty fast. My apartment (the top half of the picture above) is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath, with a kitchen and living room. It's pretty neat because each apartment in the complex is working with a specific Springfield nonprofit over the course of the school year. My apartment-mates and I will be working with Jordan Valley Community Health Center, a healthcare facility that provides a full range of medical services to low income people in Springfield.
Here's an overview of what my year will consist of: 
    * I'll be continuing my classes for my Strategic Communication major and           Business Administration minor
    * I'm serving as the managing editor for Drury's newspaper
    * I'm volunteering as an assistant coach for Girls on the Run
    * I'm training for my first 10K in October 

This morning I set some goals for myself for the year, too:
    * Focus on what makes me happy
    * Continue working out
    * Find balance in daily routine (aka don't get overwhelmed)

I'm feeling really good about this year and I'm excited to start classes. Be sure to check back on my blog for updates as the year progresses!

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Running From...

Running clears my mind instantly. As soon as I lace up my shoes and head outside my overwhelming thoughts escape me as the music from my Spotify playlist beats from my headphones.
While running is a great temporary fix, eventually you have to stop running... running from your problems, your future, or even yourself. Everything catches up with you.

Last night I was overthinking and I reached out to one of my best friends. She offered me a lot of advice and openly listened to me ramble about my problems (even though she has enough going on in her own life, so thank you, friend). She gave me a lot of advice that stuck with me, but what struck me the most was when she told me that my worth is not dependent on anyone.

See that's my problem.

So many times I feel like I seek validation from other people when really I only need to seek validation from myself. 
Life is too short to continuously think you aren't good enough. 

Other people should not define your self worth. Trying to gauge what people think about you 24/7 becomes exhausting (I've also learned that no one actually hates me, it's just my mind raising the doubt and constantly needing reassurance.... it's fine...)

Running isn't bad, in fact it can be pretty great. If anything, I'm learning to enjoy the runner's high and to not let those positive feelings fade away.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

PS: To my friend mentioned above, thank you, I don't have enough words to describe how much you mean to me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


It's USA Triathlon's "#triweek" and they challenged the triathlon community to share their stories. Earlier last semester I posted about my fitness journey which you can read about here if you haven't already, I talk about triathlons in that post as well. 

When I first think back on my triathlon experience I automatically go to the first triathlon I did in 2013 (Trizou in Columbia, Missouri). I was only 14 years old, a baby compared to all the 30-40 year old veterans. I knew I could do it, but all of these fears ran through my mind while I was setting up my transition. The moment I jumped into the Mizzou Aquatic Center pool, though, all of my fears went away. I engaged completely in the sport and was ready to race.
Crossing the finish line at my first race
After I crossed the finish line, everything was a blur. I'm going to assume I was exhausted, but also so incredibly proud of myself. 

See, I'm a very hesitant person. When my triathlon coach, Dan, originally talked to me about joining the Tri Club I did everything in my power to avoid him, therefore avoiding giving him an answer. Dan is extremely persistent and before I knew it I was at the O'Fallon YMCA for my first practice. I worked so hard from those early practices in February to get to the point where I could do my first sprint triathlon in May. 

Since my first triathlon I have personally exceeded where I thought I'd be 4 years ago. I've raced Trizou three times and plan to again this next year. I placed 3rd at the Lake St. Louis Triathlon my junior year of high school, 1st at the Alligator Creek Triathlon, and raced at numerous other courses around Missouri. Pictured below, I also did BikeMS with my Grandma Sue and dad my sophomore year of high school which I would have never done without triathlon training.

I talk about triathlons and the triathlon community a lot because it means so much to me. I really can't describe how much it has impacted me over the past 4+ years. When I show up to races I am no longer the youngest girl. Many people are surprised when I tell them I've been doing triathlons since I was 14 and they ask me about my experiences. That's the greatest part about our community, it is so incredibly supportive. You could be in the packet pickup line or setting up your transition and people will always stop, say hi, and listen to your story. 

This #triweek has given me the opportunity to hear even more people's stories. If you want to learn more about the triathlon community I would definitely recommend following USA Triathlon on Facebook, Twitter, or their website.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tips for Incoming Freshmen

A lot of freshman tips center around move in and what to pack. What many people tend to neglect is giving advice once you're in school. Here are some tips I have for more academic related topics.

My process for the past three semesters in regards to getting textbooks has remained the same. I go to my college's bookstore website and plug in the classes I'm taking. They create a list of what textbooks are required for each class and give you the rates they charge for the books. I pull up a Google Doc, then copy and paste the textbook info (make sure to get the ISBN #), and record how much the school would charge. Next, I go to Chegg and plug in those ISBN numbers to see if Chegg is offering rentals cheaper than what my University offers. It honestly just depends on the textbooks if it's cheaper or not. For example, last spring I got 1 book from Amazon and the rest from Chegg because they were significantly cheaper than on my school's website. This fall, though, all of my rentals are around $9-$12 on my University's website and significantly more on Chegg (or sites like it). You really just have to do your homework and shop around. You're going to spend a significant chunk of change no matter what you do. 

My textbook plan for this fall
People also always ask "are you really going to use the textbook?" And again it just depends on your class and the teacher. I had some classes that used the textbook for the first 2 weeks and then never touched it again. In hindsight I could have forgone getting the book entirely and just borrowed from a friend. However, I also would rather be safe than sorry and at least have the textbook to lean back on. Then there are other classes like my math class where I had to have the book, we used it every day. 

Getting Involved:
From the moment you step on campus, they will tell you it's important to get involved which is very true. I would recommend not signing up for everything at the student activities fair, even if the person talking to you is super nice. You can definitely sign up for more information, but know that it's okay to say no to certain organizations. Especially at a small school like mine, it's easy to get involved in seemingly everything. Commit your time to what you really like and you'll be happier, too.

School work/Attendance:
This also depends on how big your school is. I've heard plenty of people talk about sitting in the front of the lecture hall (which Drury doesn't have, but most schools do), going to the professor's office hours, etc. These are valid points, take up the professor's opportunities to help you. It's important to establish yourself with your professors, especially if they're in the department of your major. This could be difficult depending on your school size. At Drury the professors actually know who you are, even the ones who aren't in your department. Be active in participation at class and this will help you establish those working relationships.

It's funny because if someone doesn't come to class the professor will say, "oh where is (x)" and students will respond "well we saw them at the Commons earlier," (the commons is our cafeteria), or "they were in my class earlier today." If you aren't in class it's very obvious.

Even if you're at a larger school, I would still recommend going to class. I don't understand how you can pay thousands of dollars for classes that you don't bother to go to. I get missing a class or two, but if you are absent more than you're present, I feel like you should reevaluate. 

Those are just a few of my tips for having a successful school year. The first two weeks after move in are really when you establish your routine and figure out what works best. After that you'll be good to go and ready to take on the rest of your freshman year.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me on Facebook and I'll do my best to help :)

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Monday, July 3, 2017

Live Unapologetically

As you have seen from the many Facebook posts, Instagram uploads, and tweets, I spent my last 5 days at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona for the Kappa Delta National Convention.

It was a five day experience of growing in our sisterhood, learning more about our Kappa Delta, and listening to a multitude of powerful motivational-speakers. 

I could talk forever about the greatness of the Kappa Delta National Council. I cried throughout many of the council's speeches. They are such empowering, inspiring, loving women and I can only hope that I accomplish as much as they do one day.
They are actually my everything
One of the speakers that the Kappa Delta Foundation brought to Convention was Lisa Nichols. Shocking- I cried. The most important message I took from Liza was to live unapologetically. She talked about how she hopes she goes through life falling, that she gets the scrapes and bruises. To her, the biggest testament of your strength is getting back up after you've fallen. Showing your strength by overcoming your failure is better than never taking a risk, never getting any of those bumps or bruises along the way.
I needed to hear this. Many times I overthink situations based on what "could happen" instead of just experiencing them. By limiting yourself to trying to only be successful, you in turn limit your opportunities. Life is short, too short to not do what you love. 

She also discussed how this is her year of re-choosing herself. Since she first began public speaking, she had created this persona that did represent herself 15+ years ago. However, as she reflected on who she was going into 2017 she realized that she had changed. She took a 6 week vacation in Spain to re-choose everything in her life: her clothes, her speaking engagements, how to love herself. She broke everything down into three categories. 1) I choose it [aka things she wants in her life how they are] 2) I choose it but with alterations [things that were good in the past but should be altered for who she is now] 3) Leave it, it's done [things that worked in the past but are no longer the best for her present self].

As I head into my sophomore year of college I hope I can re-choose what is most important to me so that I can become a better version of me. By clearing out the clutter in life, you allow more space for your authentic self.

I have so many more stories to share from Convention but this was definitely the one that stuck with me most. 

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rolla Mission Trip Recap

Six years ago I went on my first mission trip. SIX YEARS AGO. That's insane to think about. This year I felt like I finally didn't overpack, mastered the art of prepping my shower caddy for the drive to the showers, and was ready to serve. 

Now if there's one thing I have learned over the course of 6 different mission trips: Joplin twice, Memphis, Tulsa, Kansas City, and this year in Rolla, it's that no matter what we prepare for, things will always unfold differently. God's plan is greater.

Worship/Devotions our first night outside of First United Methodist Church of Rolla
We all also know that mission trip is emotionally draining. Honestly, I was emotionally drained before I even arrived which made that first day very difficult.

This year's mission trip was different from the past years. We paired down the size of our mission trip- from 120 people to 80 people. We also broke down into smaller groups to serve, and the youth rotated between those locations over the course of 3 days.

As a college student I was now considered an adult so I stayed at the same location to serve all week (Community Partnership). Some of the other places people on the trip served included: The Mission, G.R.A.C.E  (Greater Rolla Area Charitable Enterprises), Community Partnership Thrift Store, the Waynesville YMCA day camp, doing construction (both at the Mission and the church we stayed at), and working at the church's preschool. I'm not going to go into details on every other organization because I only worked with the Community Partnership but if you click the links above you can learn more about what they do.
We stayed at Pastor Bill LaMora's church. Ten years ago he was the SunRise Youth Pastor.
The Community Partnership has three difference branches of their organization. They have Early Care and Education, Chafee Independent Living Program+ other youth development programs, Capable Kids and Families. Early Care and Education brings supplies to daycare centers around the area. This supports the teachers in their programming as well as giving them the tools they need to teach their students. The Independent Living Program takes teens around the age of 17 who are about to be aged out of the foster care system. They provide support for these teenagers so they can transition to living on their own, help them with graduating high school, applying for college and applying for scholarships. We most directly worked with Capable Kids and Families. This takes children with developmental delays and disabilities and fills the gaps that the state can't cover in support or therapy.
For the three days we were there we made play dough and sensory bottles for the employees to take to in their in-home therapy sessions. It was different from mission work I've done before because it wasn't directly talking to people, instead it was behind the scenes. Once we finished making the bottles and play dough on the final day, we sanitized the entire therapy room. Their therapy room is incredible- they have a huge swing, tons of toys, and even a ball pit. It only took us an hour or so to clean the entire thing. While it may have seemed like we weren't doing much besides making the play dough or sensory bottles, seeing how those tools would go help kids really impacted me.

We would serve every day from 9-3, go back to the church, grab our stuff, and head off to the Rolla Junior High School to go shower. Then we would eat dinner and break off into our devotional groups. I was in the 11th-college girl group, with two great leaders (Carla and Kim). Throughout the four nights we had powerful conversations about positivity, serving with purpose, and relationships. 

After this we'd have free time until around 10:30 or 11 when it was lights out. Free time included a lot of intense games of spoons, lots of cards, basketball, and much more.

When looking at the mission trip as a whole, I am glad I went. Mission trip builds connections you don't normally get to make. Sure we all go to the Wright City or O'Fallon campus, but we all have busy lives. Mission trip gives us a solid five day stretch of time to forget about everything else and focus on God, our service, and becoming closer. To my SunRise family- thank you. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to serve with you this week.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Friday, June 9, 2017

What's Best for You

A little website made me look at myself a bit differently a few months ago. 16 Personalities is a test that takes your responses and categorizes them into a four letter combination that becomes your personality type. I'm an ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) and I've never encountered something that describes me so well.
All of this being said, I like to make people happy (honestly who doesn't??). It can be a bit of a challenge, though, because one of my weaknesses is overloading myself. I feel like I can't say no. I warp things in my mind to make it seem like I can handle it all, when in reality I'm drowning.

I had an incredible freshman year, I got involved in organizations that I'm passionate about and met people I care deeply about. Those organizations do take up a lot of my time, but I love what I do. 

Around late March to early April I was writing a newspaper article over how 1/2 of our basketball team would be transferring in the fall (it's one of my best articles if I do say so myself-- let me know if you want to read it). I also ended up potentially signing to be Drury's first triathlete.

The sport of triathlon has been huge throughout the past 5 years of my life. So when the opportunity presented itself I thought it was meant to be. I got super excited and told a lot of people.

I'm not going to go into all the details but sometimes it just doesn't work out. It was an incredible opportunity but for a number of reasons I realized that it wasn't what was best for me. 

So many times I have stretched myself too thin. I want to continue to be my happiest self and that comes with putting yourself first sometimes.

I'm still staying connected to the triathlon community and I can't wait to see where it takes me. I'm thankful for my family and friends who support me no matter what.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

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