Reflections on Back-to-School

With another semester beginning again, I find much to reflect on. There are so many new beginnings to think about and discuss: for us college students, it means new roommates, new classes, new opportunities, and just a new year (a year older, a year wiser)—a clean slate for a handful of life experiences.

Roommates can be your best friends, but they can also be your worst enemies. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten along with all of my roommates thus far—whether best friends or just considerate living-mates, I am thankful to say that I have not encountered the “naked roommate” or the “crazy overzealous achiever” (who drives you crazy bragging about grades, relationships, involvement on campus, you get the picture…) or any other crazy roommates you can think of for that matter. What’s so wonderful about roommates (at least, from my experience) is that you can all be so different (different religions, have different political views, different family lives, etc.), yet you can all be so alike. You find the things that you have in common and those are what mesh you together—I guess like in any friendship. You get along (or don’t get along) based off of things that you both enjoy (or don’t enjoy/agree upon)… just like with roommates.

The thought of new classes can be daunting, especially since you’ve most likely been on a break all summer. I think it’s exciting, however. Now that I am taking classes that pertain to my major (speech pathology), they’re not so tedious—actually lessons that I want to learn about! (I should restate… I am excited for classes, but definitely not for the amount of work that comes with them.) Summer, you will be missed, but I am excited to see what’s in store for me!

Take advantage of all the new opportunities that you possibly can. I am hoping to volunteer at the American Cancer Society this semester and I am ecstatic! I’m really looking forward to the experience, especially since I can relate it to my major (my goal is to specialize in speech patients that have had a head/neck cancer). New opportunities come in the form of a new job, a new volunteer position, a new internship, joining a new club, the list goes on and on… but, absolutely take advantage of all of your resources and of everything that is thrown your way. Don’t let anything slip past you because I promise all of these opportunities will be valuable today, tomorrow, the next day, and the next…

Good luck, everyone, with going back to school! I wish you all the best!

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Vegetable Chili

This Vegetable Chili is perfect for all you vegetarians and you meat-lovers, too! I promise you won’t miss the meat–all of the veggies are so delicious and fresh that you won’t mind one bit.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained

2/3 cup picante sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 (15- to 16-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 medium-sized yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin, and salt; mix well. (I also added canned corn and some black beans–you can add in whatever else you’d like as well!) Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer 10 more minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (I let it sit for about half hour on a low heat instead, but cook it until it’s the way you like it!)
**I give full credit to Mr. Food for this recipe.**
P.S. This is a great recipe to make up at school and share with a large group!

All Dogs Go to Heaven

“The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.” –Unknown

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” –Unknown

“The reason dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails instead of their tongues.” –Unknown

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” –Andy Rooney

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” –Will Rogers

“We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made.” –M. Acklam

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.” –Unknown

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” –Robert Wagner

Dogs are man’s best friend. I honestly and truly believe in this statement. They always show you unconditional love, even if you don’t necessarily deserve it. They always greet you warmly–wagging their tails when you come through the door, even if you were only gone for 2 seconds. I know that my dog is my best friend. I can always go to her when I just need a hug or someone to cuddle with. Or, if I need someone to talk to who can keep a secret, because I know for sure that she won’t tell a soul. Or, if I need to vent about something. Or to play a game. Or just to be the loving companion that I know she is. She provides me with so much comfort and contentedness… she is a total angel.

I Hope You Dance

Ever heard Lee Ann Womack’s song titled I Hope You Dance? Listen to it here:

It sends out a great message to everyone and it is both beautifully song and written. Hope you enjoy!

Every Girl’s Motto Should Be…

…because come on, what girl doesn’t feel better after getting a new pair of fabulous shoes?

Summer Excursions

The end of summer is near, fortunately and unfortunately. I am excited to get back into my routine, be on my own schedule, see my friends up in Orlando, and meet my new roommates. but I am sad leave my friends and family from back home. Looking back on my summer memories, there are a few in particular that stand out. I call them my “excursions” and I would like to elaborate:

Excursions

  1. Atlanta- Beth and I have a close, close friend who lives in Atlanta. We went to visit her and her mom for a long weekend and we had the most amazing time. It was so wonderful to spend time with people who seem like family. I have only been privileged to have friends like Shira and her mom, Debra for about 5 years, but it feel s as if I have known them a lifetime. To view more about my experience, click here
  2. Miami- Jill is one of those kind of friends who you know now will be in your bridal party—a true friend. We met in college, but she has since transferred to a different school, much to my dismay. She now lives and studies far away, but we are so lucky we had this time during the summer to spend together. We have discussed a day trip to Miami for at least a year and we finally had our day this summer! It was so much fun, enjoying a delicious meal at a café called Aroma, which made us all reminisce about trips that we’ve all taken to Israel (both together and separately). After a scrumptious meal, we walked around Lincoln Road and went into some of the shops. We all indulged in some freshly squeezed juices that were out of this world and visited a “Chabad on Wheels.” This experience was so meaningful to us because we originally met in our campus Chabad.
  3. Orlando/Gainesville- With Ashley, our confidante since Parkland Kids Camp when we were about 8 or 9, we went to visit our schools and apartments for about 5 days—mine and Beth’s being in Orlando, and Ashley’s being in Gainesville. In Orlando, we visited with some of our friends from school and spent time both shopping in the wonderful outlet malls and being big kids in Disney—Epcot, to be specific. We then drove up to Gainesville where we saw what Ashley’s school life is like. We met some of her dearest friends and devoured a home-cooked Shabbat meal at her school’s Hillel.
  4. Naples- This was my last “excursion” of the summer with my grandparents, parents, sister, cousin, aunt, and uncle. Every summer, we all drive over to the west coast of Florida for a few days. This year, our trip entailed yummy meals, shopping, tanning on a beautiful beach, swimming in a brand new pool, and being with loved ones.

These are all experiences that I will never forget with people I will never forget. Reflecting on this summer, seemed a tad disappointing (I think in comparison to last summer when I went to both New York and Israel, it looks kind of dinky) and not all that I had planned for it to be. BUT, I have accomplished so much this summer—growth as a person and growth in my knowledge and my abilities. So, how could I be disappointed in that? It turns out that I really enjoyed myself and my quality time with family and friends this summer and I have absolutely no regrets—wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Maybe it wasn’t as exciting as last summer, but fond experiences and memories will always be present.

Where in the World?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would it be Italy? Greece? Ireland? Israel? Australia? England? France? Madagascar? Or maybe even Alaska? I want to go to all of these places some day! It is one of my life goals to travel the world (or at least most of the world). But what a lot of us don’t realize is how diverse our country is–America has oceans and mountains, hot weather and cold weather, you name it, we have it. And I am certainly not an avid traveler or anything (I’ve been to a few Caribbean islands on a cruise, the Bahamas, Israel, and only about 6 of our 50 states). The beauty of traveling is at our fingertips–sure, it would be amazing to travel to other countries, but I bet there is so much you haven’t seen in America.

Have you seen the beaches of Florida or California or Rhode Island, namely? Or the mountains of Colorado, Utah, upstate New York? Have you gone skiing in Vermont? I challenge you to all of these adventures in our diverse country. And the list is endless from there–I only scraped the surface. I absolutely would love to travel all around the world, but my point is there is so much that we’re (or at least just me) missing out on right in our backyards! Go explore our beautiful country and let me know of your experiences.

P.S. I bet you’re wondering why I am writing this post. I guess there is no reason in particular (sorry if you were looking for one). Walking into the den in my house, I saw globe tucked away on the floor and realized I don’t remember the last time I looked at one. Nowadays, with GPSs and the Internet, globes are passe. Well, I started looking at the it and spinning it around and just thought it was so cool. It made me think of how much I have yet to see and explore in this world. I can’t wait to see what (traveling) is in store for me in the future!

Yummy In My Tummy

Red velvet anything is my favorite! Red velvet cake. Red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet pancakes. Love! Love! Love! So my sister, Beth, and I decided to make some for some company we were having over for dinner. These were the perfect dessert! I will admit that the cake came from a box mix, but I made the cream cheese frosting all by myself. Completely homemade! Enjoying these babies with our fabulous guests was the “icing on the cake.”

“Say”
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ’em in quotations

Say what you need to say [x8]

Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say [x8]

Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you need to say [x24]

 

These words are so true; I can’t stress it enough. If you feel like something is important enough to say, then say it.  If you don’t, you will live with regret and that’s never okay. Of course, timing is everything–I’m a big believer in that. And also, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Being articulate is super important and it will get you much further in life. The more courteous you are to people, the more courteous they will be to you. Also, some things are better left unsaid. You have to use your judgment.

Now, you may be thinking that there are so many rules. How can I say what I want to say while thinking about all of these other considerations as well?

If it’s important enough to you, then it should be important enough to the person listening. Don’t ever think that what you want to say is stupid or invalid, that’s something we’ve all learned since kindergarten. No question or comment is stupid. The only stupidity is not saying what you want to say. It’s essential to express yourself.

 

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman

Here is some inspiration that I thought you may all enjoy.

You don’t just want to look back on your life and wonder where it went. You want to have memories, adventures, experiences with people that you love (and maybe even the ones you don’t). You want to learn and take away from each situation the most that you possibly can. This is your life–don’t just let it pass you by. Make it special and have no regrets. Live your life to your fullest potential because it will all be worth it in the end. It’s better to have a life of “oh wells” than to have a life of “what ifs.” Take chances and make mistakes because that is how you grow and learn. Believe in yourself. You can do anything that you set your mind to. I know it!