Believe

Once upon a time, I was an intern during my first semester of my last year of college.

I was 25 and staring down 3 more semesters of school before I graduated. One summer day, I sat down at the kitchen table and laid out my entire plan – the courses I planned to take and when I would take them in order to reach that magical 120 hours mark that allows you to graduate. I was going to do an internship during the spring semester, right before I completed some summer school classes that would allow me to graduate. Then I got the bright idea to switch things up – do my internship during the Fall semester and take 18 hours during the Spring semester in order to graduate in May.

I had recently learned that even though I was going to graduate a mere 1 month later – in late June – I wouldn’t be allowed to walk the stage May 2011. I would be forced to wait until May 2012, and no way was that happening. So I decided to cram everything in. Which also meant I needed to find an internship ASAP.

I literally Googled something along the lines of “Chicago internship fall 2010” and the first option was an internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois (MAWFI) – they had various internships available. I immediately set forth with my applications, and distinctly remember writing one of my cover letters in the kitchen of the restaurant I was a waitress at in between the lunch and dinner rushes. I wasn’t in a mood to write a cover letter and honestly didn’t care how crappy it was. It was probably my 132nd cover letter and I. WAS. OVER. IT. I threw some witty line in there about being passionate about grammar and priding myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their. I wrote my last paragraph, signed it, emailed it with my resume and called it a day.

Some odd days later I was contacted about coming into the MAWFI offices downtown for an interview. WHAAAAAT! I was interviewing for the position I had written the crappy cover letter for – and yes, they actually read my cover letter. I was mortified/excited that I had an interview based on that!

It was one of those infamous Chicago summer days – 95 and humid. Despite my pants being a rather heavy material, I put on my super cute new interview outfit, Googled my route, and was on my way! A couple hours later, I was in a panic. I was wandering around some neighborhood because the address I had put into Google was unrecognizable for some reason and just sent me somewhere random apparently. (Thanks for that, 2010 Google Maps). It was quickly approaching my interview time and I was lost. So I called the HR guy. I explained what had happened, and that despite giving myself ample time to get to the office, I was going to be late because I was OH SO LOST. He was really nice, asking where I was and then told me what bus I could get on to get there. I showed up 30 minutes late, a sweating frizzy-haired hot mess, and after meeting with the HR guy, I then met with the internship supervisor. After profusely apologizing for my tardiness, she laughed it off, telling me not to worry – she was over 30 minutes late to her own interview there 3 years ago. But before I could tell her I loved her for that comment, she told me she adored my writing. Then, to top it off, she told me her favorite part of my cover letter: “I pride myself on knowing the difference between they’re, there, and their.” Hire me please, just so I can continue to be adored.

And hire me, she did.

I was one of the stewardship interns during the Fall of 2010, which meant I got to write up stories about the Wish Kids after their Wish was complete. People who donate $5000+ have the ability to Adopt-a-Wish. That means their money goes towards a specific wish, which they get to pick out. The story and a picture of the Wish Kid during their Wish is put together in a frame and shipped to the donor as a thank you gift.

Being an intern during the Fall semester meant I also got to witness Wishes during the holiday season. Christmas is such an important holiday for kids, especially ones who are sick. It’s a time for magic and joy and believing in good things. Enter: The Believe campaign by Macy’s. They partner with Make-A-Wish every year during the holiday season and encourage kids (and adults who are still a kid at heart) to Believe by writing letters to Santa. For every letter to Santa that gets dropped off in a special mailbox at Macy’s stores, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, up to $1M. 

I was able to experience all of the goodness that goes on in the MAWFI office even after I finished my internship by becoming a Wish Granter. Due to a hectic schedule I had to go on hiatus, but hope to continue it one day. This letter writing campaign is an easy way to experience that goodness, and be a part of something bigger. I don’t care if you stopped believing in Santa 40 years ago – writing a letter and dropping it off at Macy’s is an easy way to do some good in the world – and help bring a smile to a child’s face. Get your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews in on it, too!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa. Whatever you celebrate, celebrate it even bigger and better this year by giving back.

believe

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois

Macy’s Believe campaign 

 

 

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Turning 30: November Edition

Things I’m Glad I Did Before I Turned 30

Most people look back upon their 20s with a little pink in their cheeks and exclamations of “I can’t believe I did that!” You won’t catch me doing that very often. My 20s were a decade of memories and times I wouldn’t change – even the bad ones. I’m a strong believer in “Everything happens for a reason” – even though that reason isn’t always revealed right away. I like silver linings. I like a happy ending.

So, let’s look back at my 20s and discuss what I’m glad I did before I turned 30.

 

Vegas.
I mean, come on. Vegas requires energy for long nights that turn into early mornings multiple times in a row. It makes me tired just remembering that trip. But, it gave me a closer relationship with my cuñada and her now hubby, as well as Señor. This was our first big trip together.

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50oz. drinks with my cuñada

 

 

Serial Dating.
While I only had 2 serious boyfriends before Señor, I did date a few other guys along the way. Each one taught me a little bit more about myself and what I truly wanted in a man whom I would eventually want to settle down with.

Love & Laughter.

Love & Laughter.

 

Moving Across the Country, Just Because.
Summer 2007: Most of my friends were graduating college, but I had taken a year off so I still had at least one year until graduation. I decided to find a job anywhere but the Midwest for the summer, and ended up in Tallahassee, Florida. I enjoyed myself so much down there, that I decided to apply for entrance to Florida State University, was accepted, and attended for a semester. It was too damn hot in the winter and I missed my family, so I said “Peace Out”, packed up my Cavalier, grabbed my cat, and drove back to Sweet Home Chicago. I fondly call my time at FSU my “semester abroad”. It’s deep south – an hour from Alabama and 20 minutes from Southern Georgia. It don’t get more southern than that. (Yes, I did that on purpose.)

F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E!
Florida State! Florida State! Florida State!

 

College Nicole.
There’s this mythical creature whom Señor and I fondly refer to as “College Nicole”. She was really cool & hip. She liked to participate in Thirsty Thursdays despite a Friday morning physics class. She partied ‘til 6am on the weekends. As President of her dorm, she helped her friends sneak a pony keg up the back entrance for an end of school year party. She would drink ‘til she was warm so she didn’t have to wear a coat to frat parties. Her proudest achievement during college was the weekend of two birthday parties and Tour de Franzia. There are so many more stories about this mythical creature; we would be here all day. Needless to say, College Nicole evolved into Responsible Nicole, and Responsible Nicole realizes she just doesn’t rebound as easily as she did during her run as College Nicole.

Tour de Franzia 2007.  Yes, that is a bag of wine.

Tour de Franzia 2007.
Yes, that is a bag of wine.

 

Made New Friends.
You won’t stay in touch with a lot of your high school friends. Facebook doesn’t count. If you can’t call them up on the phone without it being awkward, they’re not really your friend. The friends I made in college were people who didn’t know my entire history, people who took me as I was. They dressed up with me for theme parties and took me to see bands who would later invite us to their after parties in their hotel, then grab a cab with me at 6am. They are the ones who would later ask me to be in their wedding and share with me the good news of a baby on the way.

Danielle's wedding. November 2013.

Danielle’s wedding. November 2013.

 

Something Reckless.
I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and IT. WAS. AWESOME. Later, I would learn that this adversely affected my life insurance policy. Luckily, I was still young enough to get a decent rate.

Skydiving. Summer 2009.

Skydiving. Summer 2009.

 

Finished College.
College requires a lot of time and effort. I’m too tired for all that right now, especially with my full-time job. Just the thought of pursuing my Master’s makes me tired.

Graduation Day! May 2011

Graduation Day! May 2011

 

Got Comfortable.
I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I own my quirks and force find people to see them as endearing. I also just don’t give a damn what most people think. I was so glad to find that comfort in my 20s – it’s so important for growth.

Awkward.

Awkward.

 

Life Changing Trip with the People Closest to You.
My BFFO, her hubby, Señor, and I went to California for a week. We met up in San Francisco and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA to attend the 10 year vow renewal of a good friend. It forced us to be in close quarters for multiple days, to be budget conscious, and for the BFFO and I – to be spontaneous. It was the best trip of my life, and I’ll never regret who I spent it with.

Chinatown - San Francisco

Chinatown – San Francisco

 

Cleaning House.
Sometimes, you have to change your life in drastic ways. And sometimes, that means ending relationships you have come to realize are no longer fruitful, but hurtful. One day, I hope to reconcile with one of these people when we are both older, wiser, and able to accept fault.

Chuckin' Up the Deuces.

Chuckin’ Up the Deuces.

 

 

I had so much fun going through pictures to share here. It was so hard to pick only one picture for each mini-story. Lots of good times with great people. But I’m looking forward to more good times with great people, especially the ones here ❤  Bring it, 30s!

Orleatha & Chris' 10 Year Vow Renewal - California Road Trip. May 2013.

Orleatha & Chris’ 10 Year Vow Renewal
California Road Trip. May 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP College Nicole.

 

 

All the Dreams I Only Dared to Dream AKA: How John Grisham Crushed My Dream of Becoming a Lawyer

As a child, you dream about growing up and becoming something that sounds heroic (cop, firefighter, superhero) or beautiful (princess, actress, model). Rarely does a child dream of growing into someone who will change the world like Ghandi or Mother Teresa.
Don’t worry – I’m not here to tell you how I was a child prodigy who dreamed of following in Mother Teresa’s footsteps (although, I did want to become a nun at one point after watching Sister Act).

My earliest “I want to be _____ when I grow up” memories are of being a celebrity (I was convinced I would be discovered in a mall food court or someplace similar) or – my parents will back me up on this – a crossing guard. Yes. I wanted to be someone who volunteers for a living. Clearly I thought I was independently wealthy or I had no qualms with living on welfare all of my adult life.

While growing up, my dreams changed. Next, I remember wanting to be a lawyer. This came about some time during grade school and lasted through most of high school. My parents wholeheartedly supported this dream despite the hefty price tag that was going to come with it. I eventually settled on being a corporate lawyer simply because I would make a lot of money. A girl’s gotta pay off her law school debt!

The Pelican Brief

My dad supported this because I had logic and book smarts – and I was winning arguments against him using said logic by the time I was 12. Around that age, he also gave me my first John Grisham novel because he was tired of taking me to the library every other day – I would go through my young adult novels in a day or less. “Here. Get through this one in a day,” he claimed triumphantly as he handed me The Pelican Brief.

A few years later when I finally finished The Pelican Brief (I kept setting it down because I didn’t understand what the hell I was reading) I found myself wanting more John Grisham. I found myself sucked into the small town of Clayton, Mississippi and rooting for the jilted, loveless lawyers who found themselves in this small town. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and felt guilty when I was reading Mr. Grisham instead of the assigned reading like The Grapes of Wrath (Never finished it) or Les Misérables (I wanted to finish this one. But I didn’t.)

After turning over a thousand well-written pages, I found myself losing the dream to be lawyer. They go to school FOR-EV-ER, have tons of debt, don’t make a lot of money at first, have to start with terrible grunt work, and aren’t doing a ton of courtroom arguing all the time. Being a lawyer was not at all what I thought it was! John Grisham crushed my dream.

What was I going to go to college for now?! I felt so lost! And then – we took a test to see what we should become when we grew up. Now, I can’t tell you any of the questions or what my actual result was, all I remember is that one of the suggested professions for me was a CIA Agent.

That sounds SO COOL!

I was set! I was going to become a CIA Agent and travel the world and tell everyone how cool I am!

Enter AP Spanish.
2002 – Senior year of high school. I went from joining the CIA (I realized I was terrible at languages) to being a child psychologist (AP Psychology was awful, learning about all those stupid theorists) to being a teacher. My mom freaked out because she was convinced I was going to be poor being a teacher (she probably feared I would end up living in her basement) but my dad and I finally got her on board with the idea and she finally realized I would be okay and not end up living in her basement.

I finally graduated college in 2011 with my B.A. in English.

I’m now in HR, and part of my job is visiting top schools in the nation, where I allow myself to picture attending there for one my lost dreams. For the past few years it has been going back to school for child psychology. While I sometimes regret changing my major and pursuing a degree in education, I’m glad I did. I wasn’t serious enough as a student and could have possibly failed out of the program. The same goes for being a lawyer – not only do I think I wouldn’t have done as well as needed, but I would’ve hated my job.

So thank you, Mr. Grisham, for crushing my dreams. You led me to greener pastures.