Why Have I Been Gone For So Long?

Wow all, just wow. It has been almost ten months since my last post, which is absolutely crazy! So, what have I actually been up to this whole time? Well, let me tell you!

In the summer of 2019, I actually landed my dream summer job. It was an amazing experience with amazing people. I learned a lot about how to work in a professional environment, I learned a lot about the different situations that people live in, and I learned a lot about my faith. Overall, I would rate the summer job as a 10/10. Beyond the job, I don’t remember much (it feels like summer was so long ago!) But I did finally get to make my first trip out to Waterton! My road-trip pal and I didn’t stay long, so I would love to go back this summer, that is if the park will be open again…

In May (which for a university student is part of summer) I also had the opportunity to see Carrie Underwood live in concert. But, I won’t talk more about this except to say that it was the most dream-fulfilling experience I’ve had. If you are new to the blog you can read about my experience here; and welcome to my blog! Then in August I had the opportunity to eat at an Olive Garden (after not eating there for at least three years). Now, this might not seem like much, but I love Love LOVE Italian food, and Olive Garden happens to be my favorite restaurant. Unfortunately for me, there is no Olive Garden where I live. The closest one is just over two hours away.

Now, as I write about my summer I realize that not much happened that I can remember except for work. And I’m not really sure if that’s normal. But then again, I’m not normal at all… All I know is that overall it was a good summer for me.

Then September of 2019 rolled around, and with it came the beginning of my very last semester of my University degree. This semester was better than all others. I had finally gotten into a class that I had been hoping to do since my second semester, and I made new friends while taking courses from a totally different major than my own (I took psychology so normally I would take neuroscience or sociology or health courses to fill my requirements, this semester I took a couple of New Media courses). One of my new friends introduced me to the secret staircase. Now, this might not seem that amazing because it’s just stairs. But, anyone who has ever been to the University of Lethbridge knows about the Fine Arts stairs. The Secret staircase runs parallel to the Fine Arts stairs, but there are rarely other people taking them. This means that you can struggle to breath while you climb the stairs and you can take breaks from climbing without feeling like somebody is judging your lack of physical fitness! The secret stairs also have a platform where students that live on campus leave little surprises (like candy at Halloween, and random chair placement, and pictures of famous people). I’m pretty sure there was something new on the platform every time I took the secret stairs!

In September in addition to University, I started a counsellor training course. Six weeks worth, with classes every other weekend (from Friday evening to all day Saturday). Of course, this semester was supposed to be my easy semester; I was only taking five courses instead of six. But the thought of adding such an amazing experience was exciting, so I dived in head first to emotionally draining myself every other weekend! I will write a post about this course in the future, because it’s too life-changing to only mention in one post.

In October I was finally able to apply for graduation. This was a super proud moment for me. And it is also a key bit of information to remember as my stories about what kept me from blogging unfold. October also brought the start of a new part-time job for me. Nothing major, but at least it was a job!

November only held crazy amounts of homework and assignment deadlines. This is typical of November in the fall semester of University. For some reason, every single professor decides that they will make their students’ lives easier by making final projects and presentations due in November so that the students can be less busy around final exam time in December. This is a great theory, and it would be very beneficial to students… except that every professor is thinking the same thing. The reality becomes that in trying to ease the burden of finals, professors create a burden in November, and then students still have to go through the stress of finals. I did finish my counsellor training course in November though, so that was one thing that was off my plate. Then another was added when my favorite room-mate told me that she was applying to transfer to a different college in a different city (she left mid-December). And that was really sad, because over the years my room-mate became one of my closest friends. Without her, there would be no more snack-and-talk in the kitchen, no more church carpool, and no more random ice-cream runs. So the challenge became to balance school and make the most of the remaining room-mate time! And if you’re reading this former room-mate, you made my life so much better and I appreciate you, and I miss living with you. I’m just glad that we still have opportunities to see each other!

My busy-ness level increased as December arrived. Studying and finals began in early December. I am not the kind of student who tests well, so exam season leaves me extremely stressed out. Thankfully, this semester I only had two final exams!

December was the time when I climbed the Fine Arts stairs for the last time and left campus for what I thought would be the last time. I went home and watched movies with my room-mate. I handed in my last exam, and I finally ripped my semester to-do list off the wall! I can’t adequately explain what it felt like to finish all my assignments and complete my degree requirements. It was as if a huge burden, one that I didn’t fully realize was on me, was lifted off of me and all my stress was gone. I was overwhelmingly excited. It was finally time to celebrate, with family and friends, my achievement. And so, my mom hosted a casual graduation get-together at her house. Nothing big, just a perfect celebration night. At this point, it seemed like my life was open before me, and nothing could stop me from finally living it. But I was wrong…

December 16, 2019. The final grades were finally released. And I found out I failed my first ever course; a failure by a mere 1.25%. I had never felt devastation like that. Amid pure panic I had to contact a professor and beg for some grace, for anything that I could do to raise that mark up to a passing grade. Now, this was in a course that I had pushed a little more to the side than any other course. Every student knows this, there is always one course in a semester that you choose to focus less on so that you can focus on other assignments and deadlines. This course was that course for me. I knew I was not doing amazing in it, but I thought I was doing good enough to pass. Silly me, I forgot to double-check my syllabus, if I did I would’ve known that a passing grade in this course was 5% more than in any other course. My professor told me that I could re-write my paper and submit it on December 18 so that it could be graded before the final marks were submitted. Two days is not enough time to raise a paper grade by 10%. The only other option available was to take an “incomplete” in the course. This would give me more time to revise the paper. After a day of depression and cloudiness, I chose to take the incomplete. This was really hard for me, because all my stress had just been lifted, but then it all came crashing down on me again. I was left with extreme anxiety and worry that even after revising my paper I would not pass the class. Then I would have to take another course in the Spring semester, which would ruin everything I’d imagined my life would become in 2020 (which in light of the world now, 2020 is nothing like I’d imagined anyways). To add to the craziness on December 18, 2019, my landlady told me that she had sold the house. There was no prior warning that she was considering selling the house, and I needed to be out in February. That sent me into a spiral of trying to balance rewriting my paper and trying to find a place to live. Finding a new place to live is no easy task when you have exhausted your financial resources with school and are only working three shifts a month. December had turned into one big mess. Christmas was overshadowed by stress, but I tried my best to put aside my life and enjoy the holiday season. And there were good parts in the holidays too!

January arrived, and with it, the dawn of a new decade. Enter all the crazy New Year’s jokes about seeing 2020. I celebrated the new year and then I celebrated my birthday with my family. Then it was time to buckle-down and finish rewriting the paper that my future hung on. The paper was finished, it was submitted on Friday afternoon, and then I waited all weekend… Monday came and I went to visit my grandparents (they had gone to an appointment and I met them there to surprise them). As I got in my car to head home I received the email I had been waiting for all weekend. I have never been so scared of an email before. I took a breath and read the words, “your paper needs no more editing as it has far exceeded the minimum grade needed to pass the course”. And in that moment I happy cried, because that crushing stress was again lifted. Now, all I needed to worry about was where I was going to live come February.

The last week of January finally arrived. I still was unsure of where I was going to live. But believe me, wherever it was, I was going to be a new person when I got there. Cue an activity that signals to the outside world that changes are happening for a woman. I went and changed my hair! I shortened it, but not by much because that would be crazy. And then I lightened it, by a lot (you can check it out in the picture attached to this post). And I still love it! Changes were happening anyways, so I might as well change with them.

Enter February 2020. I packed up my whole life and I moved – straight into my parents house. I will also be writing a post about what this is like at a later date. February 2020 also brought with it a new part-time job as a waitress in an amazing restaurant, with good co-workers, and a great boss. Living with my parents might not have been ideal, but at least I had a part-time job so I could bandage up my finances and move forward on finding a new home. Being able to finally work and not have to worry about school and deadlines was an awesome feeling. And the job fulfilled my desires to interact with people which was a total bonus.

Then March happened. Wow did March happen. I’m still not really sure how March happened, but it did. The month really did start out good. I had a lot of work shifts at both my jobs and I was able to attend the PBR, which I love, even though I am a mere town girl. There is something about the energy of bull-riding and the community surrounding it that draws me in and excites me. So I was very grateful to have the opportunity to watch the PBR again! But then, March took a really weird turn. At the start of 2020 there had been news reports of a novel virus that was spreading rapidly. And that’s all well and good. It was just news, and seemed like stories until it hit closer to home in March. Businesses started shutting down, people started isolating, the world as we all knew it started shifting, and in the span of less than a week I lost both of my jobs (temporarily at least, but still a loss).

I am hoping to also write a post about the Covid-19 situation and how it affects the world, and how it affects my world. But that will remain in the drafts until I find the right words. What I will say now, is that the situation is sucky. But, with my job loss and the slow-down of the world, I finally feel as though I have time to take control of my blog again. And that for me creates new excitement and anticipation. I hope that there are some out there who will read my posts and maybe, just maybe, my words will help keep the boredom at bay for a little while.

Happy corona-cation everyone! Stay safe, stay smart, stay home (if you can; huge thank-you to the front-line workers!), and stay healthy.

And again, welcome back to my Blog!

 

MMM & Me.

Hi again all,

I’ve realized I’m not so good at keeping up with regular blog posts as I used to be. I have so many other things on the go lately. So I decided to write about one of those aforementioned things!

For those of you who know me personally, or even follow my personal social media pages, you may have noticed some changes I’ve made to my wardrobe.

About 1.5 years ago I took a chance on a company based out of Utah. They have an amazing online store. The product that they sent me, was high quality, and unique to the area I live in.

I became a regular browser, and customer of the store, and I absolutely love their products! I have not received a single article from them that I didn’t immediately love!

In fact, I love the store so much that I want to share it with my family, friends, and my readers. I have partnered with the store as an affiliate. As an affiliate I have been assigned a referral URL and a discount code that I am more than willing to share! I also receive 10% commission for every order made using my URL or discount code.

Now you all must be dying to know what the store is called. Some of you already know. The store is Mindy Mae’s Market.

Of course I need to state that I am not receiving any extra payment or products for writing about this store. All I get is the 10% commission if you shop using my URL or code. I do not usually do things like this, and I debated for a long while if I should write about it on my blog. I finally decided it was time to share my store with my readers.

So, if you are interested and want to shop this amazing online store, I ask that you please access the website using my URL Mindy Mae’s Market. And if you want to make a purchase, let me gift you a 15% discount. During checkout just put AFFMACKENZIEV15 into the coupon code section!

I have to tell you all that the ladies that run the store are amazing. You can follow their Facebook and Instagram to earn gift cards by interacting and to see all the newest releases and restocks. You’ll soon find out that Mondays are the most exciting because there are always new releases going live.

So all, check them out! And don’t forget to use my URL and discount code to show me a little love too!

Thanks all!

  • Kenze V.

 

What is it Like to See Your Hero Live?

This past week I had the great privilege of seeing my absolute favorite artist ever. Yes, that’s right, I went and saw Carrie Underwood!!!! I always told myself I would give anything to go see her live. Thankfully, I didn’t have to give anything. Obviously it was an overwhelming experience for me, and because it’s been five days since I went and I’m still bursting with excitement, I thought I would share the experience with you.

I don’t remember when in my life I started liking Carrie Underwood. What I do remember is that I spent hours on YouTube listening to her music and watching her videos. I remember that my favorite video to watch was ‘Just a Dream’. I loved the song,  what it sounded like, what it meant. It spoke to my younger self’s melancholy. And I’ve been hooked ever since.

Now let’s pause for a second to fan-girl (or boy) over Carrie Underwood. In 2005 she won American Idol, she was only 21 years old. That’s the same age as I am now! Compare me to her, at 21 her life changed and she became one of the biggest female country music artists of this time, at 21 I’m writing a blog in my worn out leggings and mis-matched socks in my basement. In her audition Carrie Underwood was told that her vocals were amazing, but she was challenged to work on her stage presence. Let me tell you; she nailed that challenge! Since 2005 she has made history in the entertainment world. The year after she won American Idol she already won the Billboard Music Awards’ country new artist of the year, female country artist of the year, and album of the year. Then in 2007 she won the Grammy for best new artist. That’s not even the best part! In 2008, just 3 years after she won American Idol, Carrie Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, which is an organization of the most elite in country music. I once heard that she was the youngest inductee into the Opry. She also holds the Guinness World record for most country #1’s for a female artist in the United States (2010). Then there are the countless other awards and nominations she’s received in the 14 years she’s been singing.

Back to concert day. I woke up bright and early-ish to work out, eat, pack, and get ready. My mom and sister picked me up around noon and we were off to Rogers Place. Road trips with the family are always a joy! We finally made it to our destination, where we changed quick in a Subway bathroom and joined up with my Aunt and two cousins to head to the Center together.

I’m from a smaller city and our event center is big, at least I thought it was until I stepped foot in Rogers Place. That center is massive, 20,000 seats massive! The first act started, but we headed to the swag table to pick up hoodies, because who goes to a concert and doesn’t leave with swag? The first act was Runaway June, and they sounded good, they then passed the stage to Maddie and Tae. They were also good, but nothing could prepare me for the entrance of Carrie Underwood. There were screens, and visuals, and sounds, and hype. And then there she was, rising out of the floor like the star she is.

And then it was two straight hours of back-to-back songs and quick costume changes. The song line-up was amazing, she didn’t just sing songs from her recent album, but songs from her entire career. I have never been to a concert with such high, fast-paced energy. The song line-up was amazing, each song seemed to transition smoothly and play off of the one before it.

I’m not going to lie, I was floored by Carrie Underwood’s vocal talent. I’ve heard it said that lots of stars use auto-tune on their albums, so they sound different in concert. I’m pleased to announce that Carrie Underwood sounded amazing in concert. She didn’t falter once, save for when she forgot her lyrics and made a joke about it. It’s always a little nice when a star makes a mistake, because you remember that they’re just people too. And her talent doesn’t stop at vocals. She was on stage playing the piano, guitar, and even bongos. Her and the band put fun spins on so much songs.  I spent almost the entire concert in goosebumps. But, there was one moment that rose above all the others. About halfway through the concert Carrie did a medley with some of her older songs. She started with ‘Temporary Home’, which led to ‘See you Again’, then into ‘I Know You Won’t’, then ‘Just a Dream’, and she finished with a cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’. Now if anyone has ever heard ‘Dream On’ there’s a part of it where Aerosmith gets all screamy and high pitched (if you haven’t heard it go have a listen). Well, Carrie Underwood did that high pitched part. No screaming and no screeching, just pure talent. My whole body was covered in chills. I honestly have never heard anything that amazing in my life. And all that sound came from a woman who just had a baby just four months ago.

Not only was the sound amazing, but Carrie Underwood’s wardrobe was awesome. I know that’s such a girly thing to say, but I have never seen so much sparkle on one woman. You always knew where she was on the stage because the light caught her at every angle.

Overall, it was the best concert I’ve ever been too, and most likely the best one I’ll ever go to. There is no wonder in my mind why Carrie Underwood won the ACM entertainer of the year award twice in a row!

So what is it like to see your hero live? It’s amazing! It was definitely worth every penny and she met all my expectations and more. Also please excuse my sad picture, my camera was a little dirty on my phone.

 

 

An African-American, a Hispanic, and a White Girl: What I Learned About Myself.

When I worked my job over the summer I was unsure at the start if I would like it or not. The work was unlike anything I’d ever done. I was unsure if I could survive from six in the morning until three in the afternoon. I was so close to quitting in the first week. I was working on machines that I was completely uncomfortable with because they were so new, and I was working with people form all over the world, who all seemed so much smarter and more prepared than I was.

If it wasn’t for the kindness of the foremen and my coworkers and all the help they gave me over the summer, but especially in the first few weeks, I doubt I would’ve stayed at the job. What surprised me was how much every other worker was willing to help me learn how to work with the machines. And so I worked with the machines, for weeks. It seemed like forever. And I slowly made connections and workplace friendships with the other workers. For me working part time in a place of shift work was exciting. My hours didn’t change, I always showed up at six and left at three (except for the occasional extra overtime day), but there were three other crews who rotated every week. For me, it was always exciting at the start of every new week to get to work with a different crew. And so I continued on the machines until mid-June.

We occasionally worked on special orders. Sometimes I would still be working the machine, but other times I got to work manual labour in a different section of the shop. And once the schools let out, I moved to more permanently manual labour. At this point I only covered the machines on breaks or when we were short-staffed. I was switched from something I didn’t much enjoy and didn’t feel successful in, to working with an amazing crew of part-timers doing something exciting and fun. Although the manual labour part could be stressful, it was still amazing to do. Near the end of the summer I was so comfortable in the work environment, I was happy with the people I worked with, and I was skilled at running the machines without becoming stressed out.

Honestly, the work was hard, it wasn’t always what I wanted to be doing, and because of the hot summer we had it was really difficult to continue working at a good pace. But I triumphed through and was rewarded with smiles and laughs from my coworkers. I learned that even in a hard-working position there was still room to have fun, and to have small competitions. I learned that the bosses cared about their employees, and they showed it in Gatorade and weekly barbecues.

And most importantly I learned that although hard manual labour is not what I hope to be doing in my future there’s nothing wrong with it. I learned that I can wake up at 4:30 in the morning every day and push myself until the afternoon and yet still sometimes have the energy to do other things. I learned how strong I was in overcoming obstacles such as frustrating machinery and killer heat. I learned that just working with people who come from other places in the world can teach you so much about different cultures. I learned how to better communicate, and how to have fun at work. I learned how to better time manage to meet deadlines, which has helped me especially in this semester at school to keep on top of my assignments. I learned words in different languages. I learned how to work in a team, and even sometimes how to better take leadership in a team. I learned how to not make harsh judgments of people based on my first impressions rather than getting to know them. I learned about workers compensation and the struggles of certain people who had been injured in the workplace, and what to do in emergency situations. I learned how to listen better.

I wish I could name names, but due to privacy reasons I won’t be. But to everyone who I worked with over the summer, I wanted to say thank-you for working with me, laughing with me, and joking with me. And thank you for all he help you gave me, and the new challenges and experiences that you experienced with me. Thank you for the amazing summer, and the awesome work environment. You truly made a hard job so much better and I appreciate it a lot.

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