How I Found My Path and Why You Will Too

When I was in high school, I was extremely driven.  I got straight A’s, studied like crazy, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life… or so I thought.

After graduating, I got very lost.  I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school.  I didn’t know what I wanted to major in.  I didn’t even know what I was interested in or wanted to spend my free time doing anymore.  Ages 18 to 20 were very rough years for me.  I lost a lot of friends, and my grades suffered, which eventually lead to me losing a lot of self confidence and overall happiness.

I had always wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or CEO.  I wanted to do something impressive and powerful.  I wanted to do something that I felt used my intelligence, something that not everyone could do.  I wanted to be a successful woman.

I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself.  Nothing I do is ever good enough in my own mind unless it is absolutely perfect (which is something that I’m working on).  I just want to make my family proud.

I also was (and am) a feminist.  I didn’t want a career that my gender confined me to.  However, always, deep down, I knew that I want a family and that I love children.  When I was very little I wanted to be a teacher (if not a princess or something), but even though I still frequently thought about how much I would enjoy teaching, by high school I looked down on the girls that wanted to be teachers.  I thought that they were settling for what society expected of them rather than reaching their full potential.

After spending about a year and a half pretty depressed, I realized that I frequently relied on my little niece, nephew and cousins to cheer me up.  I had always wanted to make a difference in society.  I could do it by breaking the mold and becoming a part of the “boys club” as a doctor, lawyer or CEO, or I could do it by teaching little kiddos that all humans on earth are equal no matter their race, religion, social class or sexual identity and that they all should be treated equally.  I realized that I want to educate students not only about math, reading and history but also about how to treat others, the world and themselves.

However, I still often felt like I was settling.  I thought that by changing my major from Biology with a Pre-Medicine emphasis to Elementary Education I was saying that I wasn’t smart enough to become a doctor, but that is not true at all.  I could become a doctor, but I don’t think I would be the best doctor because I wouldn’t like it.  It is not what I am meant to do.  I know for a fact that I would hate the hours.  I want more than anything to have a family of my own someday, and being a doctor would not allow me to be the kind of mother I want to be.  However, I think that I will make a very good teacher someday (at least I hope) because I am passionate about it and I honestly think that I will enjoy it.

Eventually, I felt confident in my choice and became more and more excited about my future.  I realized that I felt lost because I was never pursuing the career that was really right for me, and now that I have chosen my path, I’ve never been happier or more motivated.  However, I’m grateful for the time I spend lost.  Because of how much I resisted teaching, I feel more confident in my choice.  I chose my career path despite my many reasons not to, and it feels right.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you feel lost, you know that you will find your way.  If you feel like you know what you want to do but are resisting it, give in.  Do what you love no matter the pay or status that comes with it.  If you don’t have a single clue, that is okay.  You’ll be okay.  Explore.  If you don’t find what is right for you right away, at least you’ll find out what you don’t want to do.

– ♥ Alana

Advertisements

It’s My Favorite Day of the Year & 21 Facts About Me.

IT’S MY 21st BIRTHDAY!  As you can imagine, I have a lot of fun things planned, and will do a recap of the weekend here on the blog, soon.  For now, here is a list of 21 things about me you might not know.

  1. I have 5 siblings.  My older sisters; Tara, Tanya, Dana and Andrèa; and younger brother, Ian, are among my best friends.
  2. I’ve attended three colleges and have had 6 majors.  I started at UW – Baraboo two weeks after graduating from high school with a pre-medicine/biology major.  Now, after four semesters at Boo U, a brief one semester in Lacrosse and short periods of time as economics, marketing, communications and pre-law majors, I feel secure with the path I have finally chosen studying Elementary Education and Middle School Math at WSU!
  3. My middle name is Arlene.  It was my maternal grandma’s name.  When I was younger, I hated it.  I thought it made me sound old.  However, now I like it.  It is old fashioned, but I don’t mind.  It makes me feel connected to my grandma even though I never got the chance to meet her.
  4. My taste in music is all over the place.  If you press shuffle on my phone, you might get to listen to r&b, country, alt. rock, rap, throwback radio pop tunes, gospel and classic rock all in 15 mins.
  5. My favorite flowers are pink peonies.  This may have come from my mom or from Blair Waldorf.  I can’t be sure.
  6. I am the world’s pickiest eater.  Many people have said that I eat like a 5 year old.
  7. I wholeheartedly believe in Jesus.  I also wholeheartedly believe in allowing other people to have their own opinions, that love is love, and that religion and politics should be separate.
  8. My favorite movie ever is Clueless.  I could quote it all day, and several people have compared me to Cher.  I like to believe that is because of my fashion sense and go-getter, hopeless romantic personality, rather than my subpar driving skills and frequent blonde moments.
  9. I put all of my energy getting ready into doing my makeup and picking out my outfit, and then I leave the house with wet hair.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, most of my energy goes into pulling myself out of bed at 6 AM on the average day.
  10. I know every word to every episode of Friends.  I’ve been watching it since I was probably way too young to watch it (the perks of having so many older siblings).  I don’t recommend you ever watch it with me, though.  It gets annoying.
  11. My dream job is to be a mom.  It always has been.  I’ve had more baby dolls than real-life friends.
  12. The key to my heart is 3-wick candles from Bath & Bodyworks.  I get alerts every time they’re on sale (which is most of the time).
  13. I crave to travel and see the world every single day.  Life is for living, and there is so much out there to see.  (Check out the travel category to see posts about where I have been and where I still dream of going!)
  14. As a future teacher, my number one goal is to make sure kids find something that they can be confident in.  I think that it is so, sooo important that students who are not naturally good in traditional academic subjects like math or reading still realize that they are smart in other areas and that they have so much potential.
  15. I have 3 tattoos and counting.  Its true when people say that they are addicting.  I’ll probably run out of viable skin soon.  Sorry mom.
  16. My birthday is my #1 favorite day (lets be real–month) of the year.  So, as you could probably guess, I am HYPED today.
  17. I deeply cherish the time I spend driving alone and listening to music.  Right now, my daily commute is about 45 minutes, and I really think I’m going to miss it when I move closer to school in September.
  18. Soup is my favorite food.  If I’m ever unsure of what to order at a restaurant, 9 times out of 10, I’ll order soup.  Soup is safe.
  19. I doodle obsessively.  I can’t focus on anything unless my hands are busy.  I’ve also recently taught myself to knit for the same reason.
  20. I sometimes eat ketchup on my mac&cheese.  I know.  I’m sorry.
  21. I’m not a big breakfast person.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me a waffle or a donut, and I’m always down for some bacon (but who said bacon is limited to breakfast?!).  However, I really hate eggs, and in general I would way rather eat stereotypically  lunch or dinner foods for breakfast.  Cold leftover pizza, anyone?

Thank you guys for checking in!  I always appreciate it!  Let me know if you find yourself relating to anything I’ve listed above.

See you soon!

– ♥ Alana

Life & Love Advice from My Grandma

Growing up, I only ever had one grandparent that I remember, my dad’s mom, Pat.  She is a interesting lady with a great story.  She’s also always given me the best and funniest advice.  For instance, almost every time I’ve seen her since turning 14, she has told me “when he goes for the zipper, get out of the car,” and who doesn’t need to learn that lesson?!  My grandparents had a very strong 51 year long marriage, so I figured she probably has a lot of great relationship and life advice.  Over my spring break I went to visit my grandma, who is turning 85 in a few months, and got to know her life story a little bit better.  Here are some of her stories and some of her best advice.


HER STORY

My grandma was born in Mauston, WI on May 13, 1933 into a lower class family who already had a son, and daughter.  A few years later, her mother gave birth to another son, and soon after that her parents split up.  She spent her summers working at the fair selling food from her grandparents’ food stand.  That is where she learned to speak what she calls “carnie talk”, which is the carnival workers’ version of pig latin.

Her mother gave piano lessons and played the piano at parties around the state.  Since she couldn’t afford a babysitter, she brought her kids with her to gigs.  My grandma credits her mother’s gigs to starting her love for music.  Although one of my favorite memories of my grandma is her singing along to Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl (even though grandma’s singing has always been more of a hum), her favorite musician is by far Elvis.  Her house features several portraits of the king of rock and roll, and she even owns one of his scarves from a concert she went to back in the day, sweat and all.  She always said she was going to clone him someday.

When she was 15, she met my grandpa, Richard, who was 18 at the time.  The next year the two were married.  She was kicked out of high school once the school administrators found out that she had been married.  The excuse was that married people had sex and they didn’t want her telling anyone about sex.  She says that the thing she regrets most is not finishing school.  She loves to read.  Her closet is like a library, if libraries were filled with 90% Danielle Steel books.  Her dream was to become a flight attendant.  However, since she couldn’t finish school that was impossible.

Instead, she was a house wife for quite some time.  She watched over the household while my grandpa stayed in an apartment in Madison during the week to do work at the capital.  Eventually she helped my grandpa and dad run their car restoration shop.  Her job in the office was essential to the business:

“I had to know where and when every single part was made, and I had to make sure everything was paid for.  I had a lot of fun there!  Your grandpa and dad were there everyday and some women from town that also worked in the office.  I used to take smoke breaks with the other ladies that worked there, but I never told your grandpa.  He definitely smelled it, but we never talked about it.”  

She did, however, find some way to fulfill her airborne dreams.  Both she and my grandpa got their pilots licenses.  She says, “I could land just perfect,” and she could go on for an hour about the Mooney airplane that she and my grandpa would take out flying on Sundays.

Before ever having kids, Mr. and Mrs. Braund were married for about 10 years.  She said that this allowed them to spend a lot of time as just husband and wife before adding kids into the mix.  She attributes much of their strong marriage to this.  “Don’t rush,” she says.  My grandparents had two children.  My aunt, Susan, and my father, also Richard, weren’t their only babies, though.  They also had several interesting pets.  They had a poodle named Suzie (who they actually decided to name my aunt after), three St. Bernards named Bourbon, Brandy and Sasha, two peacocks Pete and Perky, a macaw named Chandler (named after the shoe store they bought him in) and a cat named Venus (who my sister used to call Penis because she couldn’t pronounce her ‘v’s).  Now, she has a cat named Honey Girl, but St. Bernards are her true love.  They are right up there on her favorite-things list with Elvis and the Green Bay Packers.  (Note: She is the biggest Packer fan in the state of Wisconsin.  She has a book of every score of every game she has ever watched.  I dated a Bears fan in high school, and she still brings it up.)

Christianity has also played a huge role in my grandmas life.  Growing up she attended a Baptist church every Sunday as well as a Baptist school.  After marrying my grandfather, they went to the local Methodist church which is the same church were my parents were married, I was baptized and confirmed in.  She still goes as much as she can, which can be difficult at her age, but I remember she never missed a Sunday when I was growing up.  She always sat in the same pew and wore her Green Bay Packer broach.  Whenever my family went, we sat by her, and she would give me tootsie pops to eat while I scribbled on my church bulletin.  She attributes Jesus for getting her through her long life.  She says, “church has made me happy when times were bad, and you know, because of God, they were never that bad.”  She would always tell me when I was very young that every star in the sky is someone in heaven, so whenever I missed my grandpa to look up and there he was.  It was a beautiful way to think of our loved ones passing on and remembering that they are still looking over us.

My grandpa died in 2000 of an aneurysm and left my grandma a widow after 51 years of marriage.  However, before that they had an incredibly strong relationship.  She had several ideas when I asked her why she thought that their marriage was so successful.  Most simply, she said “we really loved each other.”  She also pointed out that they never fought over things that “didn’t matter” because “it was just a fight then, and it was never even important”.  My grandpa was a very serious and accomplished man.  He was a Brigadier General in the National Guard, ran a business and wrote a book.  However, she said that, unlike his colleagues and their wives, he was never embarrassed of her.  He always took her to work parties and car shows.  She says, “I loved going out to fancy parties with your grandpa because I got to dress up and wear my shoes.  It made me feel really special.  And he always danced with me even if he didn’t want to because he knew how much I loved to dance.”

Since the death of my grandpa almost two decades ago, she has had a few suitors, but she hasn’t really been all that interested.  “They come and knock on my door, but I pretend not to be home,” she says, (which may be the most I’ve ever related to my grandma).  She has had love in her life, and she says now that she has enough love from her kids and grandkids and that she doesn’t need anyone to “put their shoes under [her] bed”.

She does have a loooot of friends though.  Going out and about in my hometown with my grandma is like going out with a Kardashian.  Everyone stops you and wants to say hi, so I asked what she does to be such a good friend.  She says that she always cheers her friends up when they’ve had a bad day, she doesn’t gossip and she doesn’t care what others think.  “A lot of people didn’t really like [one of my friends], but I didn’t care.  I liked her, so who gives a shit?!” she says.  More people need to think like Pat.

HER ADVICE

“Dress up, it’ll make you feel special”

“Stay close to your family and call whenever you can” (this might’ve been a hint which I most definitely will be taking)

“Don’t rush.”

“Always pay for at least some of the meal when men take you out.  It’s only fair.  You can take care of your self, and you don’t need anyone else to feed you.”

“Don’t holler!  Most things aren’t worth fighting over.”

“Finish school and become whatever you want to be before settling down and getting married.”

“Don’t be jealous of people, be happy for them.”

“If you ever miss someone who has passed away, look up.”

And last but not least, something that is very important to my grandma… “it’s called ‘supper’, not ‘dinner'”


I hope that this post inspires you to get to know your grandparents a little better.  While writing this, I learned a lot about my grandma and got to spend a few quality hours with her.  I think that it also really made her day that I was so curious about her life and wanted her advice, so call up your grandma or grandpa and take them out to lunch.  You might learn something, and you’ll definitely have a great time.

– ♥ Alana

Here are some photos I took at my grandma’s that I think really capture what she is all about:

 

Facetune_10-03-2018-17-05-30.JPG
Grandma and her Mooney airplane

Processed with VSCO with av4 presetProcessed with VSCO with av8 preset

Processed with VSCO with av4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a2 preset

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset
Grandma is a little bit different than your typical “have you eaten” grandma.  Instead she offers me Oreos, but I’m not complainin’.
IMG_1222
An old newspaper article showcasing my grandpa’s business building Duesenberg IIs.

Push for Progress

Hello, everybody!

It is March 8th, International Women’s Day!

If you don’t know what Women’s Day is, you can find a complete history of the day here.  Today is a celebration of women around the world and, more importantly, a day to shed light on topics that affect over half of the world’s population: girls.

This year’s theme is Push for Progress.  Women around the world are pushing for gender equality when it comes to wages and education and simply pushing to feel safe in our work places, homes and on our streets.  You can become a part of the Push for Progress movement in about 15 seconds here.

I’ve always been a big believer in girl power.  I grew up surrounded by strong female role models.  (I was raised by a single mother who is a master sergeant in the Wisconsin National guard and has put in over 20 years of service.  I also have four older sisters and 9 aunts who I’ve always strived to be like.)  The thought that I was limited based on my gender never occurred to me.  I remember being shocked and frankly confused the first time I heard that women were not being compensated at the same level as men or that in some countries education was seen as a privilege that girls often do not enjoy.

However, as I’ve gotten older I have seen some of the downfalls of being a women in today’s society first hand.  For example, when I went to the doctor about my Endometriosis, I had to go to 5 doctors before I could find one that would even listen to me.  One doctor even sent me to counseling and told me that my pain was purely emotional without even touching me or doing a single test.  I pushed against the doctors that wouldn’t listen to me because I am a young girl until I found someone who would listen and treat me.  Of course this is nothing but a drop in the bucket compared to what other girls go through every single day.

I am proud to be female.  Women do great things every day.  Mothers (and fathers) and teachers across the globe raise the future citizens of our world to dream and achieve their goals no matter their gender, race, religion, social class or sexual identity.  Young women like Parkland High School student, Emma Gonzalez, are leading the way to end gun violence in our schools.  Women in Hollywood are getting bigger roles in popular movies, shifting the way we perceive women in the media.  Women all over the world are doing their parts to instill body positive thoughts in our youth.  Slowly but surely women are getting the chances to serve powerful roles in government, science, philanthropy and industry.

I hope you are inspired today to push against whatever is holding you back and strive to achieve your goals no matter your setbacks.  Also, I hope that today you are proud to be a woman.

– ♥ Alana

Lastly, here are some of my favorite quotes on the topic of International Women’s Day:

“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” —G.D. Anderson

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”―Bette Davis

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ―Gloria Steinem

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story–I will.” —Amy Schumer

And here are some wise words from everyone’s favorite feminist, Leslie Knope:

leslieknope.jpg