Moving On In

Columbia River Gorge, OR

The Columbia River Gorge from I-84 going West. My first taste of what I always imagined Washington to be like.

Sometimes it feels good to be able to sit down and to take time out of your “busy” day just to write and reflect. Why I have not written sooner after completing my trip up to Washington, I am not sure. My life has definitely not been the usual hectic schedule this past week. Actually, it is the first real break I have had in a long time. Yet (of course) I have found ways to keep myself more busy than I would normally prefer. But it has been a very good kind of busy for the most part.

I have had the opportunity to meet up with one of the girls I will be starting work with tomorrow. The other 3 girls are also in the area now, but they all live in Portland. I could of went to hang out with some of them today, but decided last week that today (Monday) would be my relax day since I start work tomorrow. I guess sometimes I just like to have my alone time.

I always find it helpful to give myself some time and space to reflect before writing a blog post. It gives my readers something more insightful. I felt like my last post about the first day of my trip was well..sorta bland! I was really just talking about what we saw – which is cool, but doesn’t really give anyone much to think about.

Over the course of our road trip, we went through 7 states, saw 3 national parks, and ate at a lot of really wonderful restaurants. It was definitely very hard for me to get back into even wanting to cook again. But my bank account argued otherwise. Through all the territory we saw on our trip and the interesting people we met along the way, there was this link that made it all feel as if it connected. When you are a 6 foot tall girl, there aren’t many times where I feel “small” – at least in comparison to other people. But standing on the edge of the canyons at Mesa Verde, looking outside my window at the wind turbines, and realizing just how big my country was, it made me feel small.

I don’t mean to say that I felt unimportant or less of a person. I actually felt all that more of a person. I have a place in this world. While we were on the road, it was wherever my trustee car Mimi was taking us. Now that I am in Washington, it is the home and town and have come to settle into. Tomorrow, I will find a place at my new job and within that dynamic.

I worry so often that I won’t fit in. I worry that others won’t find me “cool” or fun enough to want to hang out with. I am afraid that my desire to go swing dancing, crochet, watch Parenthood, and go to Bible study over going out to the bars will deter people from finding me interesting. But, ya know, it is the truth. And I don’t want people to think I am a different person than who I really am. So, that is me and I am gonna try to stick to it.

So, do I look forward to work tomorrow? Yes. Do I look forward to meeting the other girls and getting to know everyone at the food bank better? Of course! Will I constantly be worried about whether people like me? Probably, but I am just gonna do me! Someone very wise once told me that and I am going to trust she was giving me good advice.

It is okay to feel small sometimes. It keeps you from thinking you are much bigger than everything around you. It creates a sense of awe of the amazing things the world has to offer. But, we also shouldn’t always feel small. We need to feel like we belong to a place and are not drifting around in a big, big world. Maybe it just takes some time to figure out where we are landing though.

~Lauren

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Mesa Verde – one of those places where it was so easy to feel small.

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Moving On Out

The day has finally come that I have waited all summer for: moving to Washington!! Today my friend Izzy and I hit the road for north west Texas and will be spending the next four days driving our way through the Western states to get to Vancouver, WA. I have been amazed all day that I have lived and visited Texas all my life but never been to a part of Texas that look completely different than what I am used to. I guess that is what I should expect though from a state that could easily swallow Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and Ohio.

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Fuzzball is a seasoned traveler but was a bit excited for his first road trip!

Today I saw my first wind turbines and oil fields. Sorta ironic really to have those as my two firsts today in West Texas. The drive was surprisingly easy and relaxed. We had our Spotify playlist playing, plenty of snacks for the road, and sugary drinks to keep us nice and chipper. While the roadside landscape was always nice to look at, we found most of our amusement in the signs we saw in the towns we passed. The town we are staying in for the evening, Tucumcari, NM, has really cool murals on the building walls going down Route 66. There are everything from Wild West to 1950s and 1960s retro murals. Izzy and I walked and drove around after dinner to take some photos and to stretch our legs for a bit.

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The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

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  Me and my new boyfriend     (Just kidding, Zane)

One of my favorite parts about traveling it getting to share the experience with others. For one, I have never actually road tripped before this trip. I feel like traveling with the mindset that you are on a road trip makes you think more about the journey rather than the destination. What is the point of being in a car all day long if you aren’t enjoying the ride? The same can definitely apply to our lives. What is the point of working so hard if we aren’t enjoying what we do? We may as well either change our perspective or our situation to make the journey a bit more fun. As well, I have been talking to friends about my trip online through Facebook. I have had several people tell me how they would love to just go out on a road trip one day. I understand that it isn’t in everyone’s schedule to be able to go on a spontaneous, or even planned, road trip, but I really encourage people to do so! Even if all you have are a couple days, pack a bag, get some snacks, and hit the road! Even if you only get four or five hours down the road, enjoy the journey and being with people who can enjoy it with you.

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Made a stop at Betty’s house.

Anyways, I know we will be sleeping good tonight after our drive and walk through town. There is much more to see tomorrow as we drive through New Mexico!

Commitment: In sickness and in health

Today is August 1st.

Today marks a few things for me. First, is that my sister and I had our 5K today. While this was her first 5k, it was my fourth. We have been training for the past two months in order to prepare for this day. I told my sister to run at her pace and to run her race; essentially I was telling her to not let me slow her down. So, when the race began she got a lead on me and I was surrounded by a crowd of McKinney Texans, who were there to either have fun or to prove something to themselves, or maybe a mix of both (like myself). The first few minutes while running I took the time to notice the people running around me. I saw children as young as 6 or 7 and adults as old as 80. I saw dads pushing strollers with children and groups of young girls who I assumed to be best friends. Each person around me was inspiring. I told myself that it would be these people that I would think about as I hit mile 2 and lost my energy and motivation. And man, did I hit that point in my race! My legs were tired, my shoulder ached, and my lungs just didn’t really wanna cooperate. But I kept going; whether I was walking or running, I kept moving. This was by far the most difficult 5k I have ever ran, but I think that points to my lack of true commitment in training.

Which is what I wanted to really direct my post about today: commitment. I have talked about this before but it really slapped me in the face today. It seems that over the years, especially these last few “adult” years, that I have had a difficult time with the concept of commitment. My largest priority of commitment has been school. It seems that no matter what is going on in my life, nothing can stop me from getting my homework done, studying for my exams, and writing papers or reports. I might put them off a bit, but they always get done. And, I happy to say, that another form of commitment has been in my life the past few years: my relationship with Zane. We have been together for over 3 years now. That is a pretty big deal for me. For a girl who can’t go on a “sugar diet” (where I cut out unnecessary sugar for a few days) for more than a few hours and who can barely keep a regular routine when she is training for a 5k. It is difficult for me to stay committed to many things; at least all at once. If I weren’t in school this summer, I know I would have ran more; I have done it on other occasions. But it seems that when something as time consuming and mentally exhausting as school comes around, I have no motivation or desire to commit to really anything else.

This scares me. While I know I can make other commitments, it scares me that I can’t do them while also being in school. It scares me that I can’t find enough motivation to stop watching Grey’s Anatomy and to get up and run (or study for my GRE…).

This is something I have been struggling with for some time now, and it seems that I will continue to struggle with. Any advice on this topic is warmly welcomed.

To move on, August 1st also marks for me that the summer is about over. I only have 6 more meetings for my summer classes. Then, I will be off to Washington! And even sooner than that, Zane will be leaving on a plane for Denmark! It seems like this summer just began and I was sitting in the parking lot of Collin College in my new car, working up the nerve for my first day of an 8 am class. But now I am almost done with my third class of the summer and I will be moving on.

I have a few instagram accounts that I follow that are of photography from the Pacific North West. I am always seeing beautiful pictures of a waterfall or sunset in some far off mountains or an aerial view of Seattle. It is gorgeous. I would be lying if I said that my heart has no desire to be there. I want nothing more than to be there. I know my life won’t be some big camping trip when I get to Washington, but I have to make the time to live while I am there. I will have a full-time job and be taking a class or two each semester, but I have to remember the overwhelming feeling I have right now to simply walk, sit, and be in nature. To lie underneath a sky full of stars and to watch a sunrise and sunset. To be all the places between the starting point of a hike and the very peak. I want to learn how to be outside and not be afraid of the animals whose homes I am walking by and how to to live without the comforts of a home for just a few days. I don’t need anything extreme, but I do need some time to be without everything that I always feel so tied down to.

So, since this summer is closing, it is a good time to reflect on my summer goals again. I have ran my 5k, which practically made me accomplish my goal of “run more”. While I could have ran more during my training, I am satisfied with what I did accomplish. Plus, I was able to motivate another person to also run and to become more healthy this summer. That is more than enough! I also survived Microbiology!!!! I made an A in the class and am on my way to making an A in Chemistry II! The final goal I had (and most important) was to find balance. While I am still trying to find balance (and probably always will) between my school life and the rest of my life, I feel as though I have done better at this goal. I have been able to cook, spend time with Ashley, spend time with myself, and to work hard! I feel best when I am getting stuff done, and when I can check 5 things off of my list before noon, well I know I am doing pretty darn well! I am happy to have my morning free right now; this is definitely helping me find balance. For now, my focus is on spending enough time on my Chemistry and GRE studying while also relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, and getting up and moving (for now I think I will just walk instead of run for a bit, though).

I know everyone struggles with commitment. If they didn’t, then it would be easier for everyone to eat better, exercise more, stress less, and sleep more. But we are human. We tend to push ourselves past our limits but it is not usually the good limits. How can we turn that around? How can we set goals for ourselves (like to run a half-marathon!) and then do it. To push our physical and mental capacities further than we ever imagined. There are so many inspirational individuals out there who actually do it. Maybe it is they who I need to take my hard pressing questions to…

~Lauren

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Summertime developments

So summer has started.

Like really started this time. During the time I wrote my last blog post I was just spending my days chilling around my Nana’s house, reading, watching TV, eating food…not really doing a whole lot with my day.

But now.. Now summer school has started. Now I am spending my whole day in class or lab, studying, eating/cooking, and more studying. I try to relax here and there but it often seems like I am putting things off.

Some things just don’t change. I wondered before starting school this summer at Collin College if it would be different than at Berea. If my schedule would be less “busy” since I wouldn’t be so involved with on and off campus activities. If I would be less distracted by friends and the boyfriend. However, for me, school is school. And especially Microbiology and Chemistry. I still get distracted, but by my new friends; my friends from Grey’s Anatomy that is. Grey’s is my relaxation and my time to connect with people – even if they are on a TV screen. I need people to care about and right now they are what I have. A little sad, but when all your friends are off exploring or interning, it is what you’ve got.

And so, after reading my last blog post, I come back to my three summer goals:

1) Find balance

…between studying, spending time with family, and enjoying the wonderful things that summer offers. So far, I have been trying to be very attentive of this goal. While I spend much more of my time studying or watching Grey’s Anatomy, I have found myself recognizing when it is I need to just relax and enjoy some sunshine, go catch a movie with my sis, or spend some time in the kitchen with my Papa. I have been trying to put my study time into perspective, realizing that while this information is very important and foundational, it also cannot be my whole entire life. I do not know when the next time I will get to spend a long amount of time with my sister or Papa is, so I am trying to share memories with them and enjoy their company. I am also trying to enjoy the company of myself. I am trying to find space in my mind to think through what it is I am wanting for my summer, future in Washington, future with Zane, other relationships, and simply observing the desires of my heart.

zucchini bread and alumFinding some of that balance; baking zucchini bread in the kitchen and making Alum (food pickling agent) in the Chemistry lab.

2) Survive Microbiology

So far, so good. Well, I am still alive at least. I have definitely been studying more for Micro than Chemistry, but that is because of the nature of the course load. All in all, Chemistry has been more complicated content wise. However, Micro is much like A&P in that it is information dense. And I have it four days a week. So that is four lectures in one week plus four labs. It is a lot to assimilate and that has been the toughest part. By the time I go to sleep and my brain tries to organize everything I learned that day, I wake up at 6:30 the next morning to learn a whole new set of information. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. I just have to keep doing my best and being Lauren Freaking Cameron as Zane likes to call me. 😉

3) Run more

…so that Ashley (my sister) and I can run a 5k by August 1st. Well, Ashley and I signed up for The Melon Run in McKinney. We have both been trying to keep to running schedules we found via the internet. I am doing an interval training schedule, which is different for me because I usually do endurance style runs (aka. run until my legs want to give out and I don’t think I can really breath anymore). While running has been part of that balancing act (goal 1), it has been good for me to make the time in my schedule for this. This has been a topic for Ashley and I to connect with and for us to keep each other accountable. I am quite sure that if we weren’t doing this together, neither of us would still be running at this point. While I know this is a goal to be able to run a 5k by the end of the summer, my hope is that it transpires into a long term habit of running. Something I look forward to doing regularly. This is usually my running goal. At the moment though, I know I need something more concrete and short-term, hence the paying $25 to run 3.1 miles. I don’t mind though; the money goes to the local cat rescue!

It has been wet, humid, hot, tiring thus far. But it has also been such a blessing to spend time with my family, self, and immersed in learning. While my heart is getting its sights set on the beautiful Pacific North West, I am still trying to enjoy the Hot Down South.

Don’t allow your life to just be fine. Or okay. Or even good. Make it brilliant, spectacular, wild, extraordinary. Fill it with excitement and adventure, be passionate and fearless, search for freedom and opportunity. You only get one life, so make it count. Make it mean something. Make it yours.

Summer Studying..

It has been over a month since I last posted! Wow! Well, how about we catch up.

May 3, 2015 marked a very momentous day for me; I graduated from Berea College! I graduated Summa Cum Laude (GPA of 3.9 or higher) with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies, with my concentration in Nutrition and Food Studies. I also earned a minor in Health Studies. I feel so blessed to have been able to walk across that stage, with my family and friends from all over the world watching and cheering for me. There is absolutely no way I could have graduated from Berea without the support of my friends, family, wonderful professors, and great labor supervisors. I attribute my success to them more than my own strengths and work.

Photo credit: 2015 O'Neil Arnold
Photo credit: 2015 O’Neil Arnold

The very next day I was to be moved out of the dorm and thus I had a whirlwind of packing and saying goodbye to friends that evening. Since leaving Berea I have had a bit more space to breath and to kick my feet up and relax some. I spent a week with Zane (my boyfriend) and his family before he starting working for the summer to save up for his semester-long trip to Ollerup, Denmark. Then I spent a couple weeks at my mom’s house, enjoying some much needed time in silence during the day (reading, exercising, walking, watching mindless TV) and spending time with my siblings in the evenings (more mindless TV, walking, video games).

After that, I began the 12 hour drive to Texas! I will be here for the summer, taking Chemistry and Microbiology classes in order to get ready for graduate school in the Fall of 2016. I have many chemistry courses between me and my dream to start studying dietetics. The road to dietetics seems so long sometimes… Maybe I have just chosen the longer path. Either way, it is one I do not regret but do find myself have to persevere through sometimes to make myself study and desire to sit reading a book instead of up moving around.

As I shared before, after this summer I have the pleasure of moving up to Washington state in Vancouver to be a part of the Clark County Food Bank team as a Nutrition Educator! Currently, I am looking into many logistical questions; primarily 1) How the heck will my car/a newer car get me all the way there without any issues? and 2) Where in the world am I going to live? I know that with faith in God and lotsss of patience, these questions will get answered, but it will take some time…

In the meantime I have set some goals for the summer: 1) find balance; I want to find some balance between studying, spending time with family, and enjoying the wonderful things that summer offers, 2) survive Microbiology, and 3) run more so that Ashley (my sister) and I can run a 5k by August 1st. We plan to run the Melon Dash in McKinney, TX. I know I can do it, but it will take me getting back into shape a bit this summer! Just the motivation I need though, to get moving more and keep eating healthy!

2013MelonDashlogo_0Well, that just about catches us up over the month. Mostly I have tried to exercise more, read more, and have even been studying some medical terminology this week as I can’t let myself have more than a full month break from school it seems.

You can graduate the girl from school, but you can’t take desire to learn out of her!

I will definitely be posting more this summer about my courses and will be researching more into graduate schools and start to apply. I also need to take the GRE…hmm, I guess that will be scheduled in there somewhere!

Stay cool.

~Lauren

The Guide for Aspiring Registered Dietitians

Friends, I have been quite busy the past 24 hours finishing up this guide! There was something missing info I had to fill in, all my citations to write out, and the (of course) editing and revising.

However I am SO excited to share the final product with you all! This guide is meant for current, future, or even past students of dietetics. All of my information in the guide is cited from reputable sources, and I welcome you to use this resource in ANY way you would like.

As I have said in the resource, I am by NO means an expert. If you see any information that is incorrect, needs updating, etc., please let me know and I will gladly provide an updated version, which will always be available on this blog post and any others that mention this guide.

I hope this guide makes understanding the process to becoming an RD a bit more simple and provides a rich bedrock for laying your own foundation into the field of dietetics.

You can contact me at cameronlbc15@gmail.com

~Lauren

Guide for Aspiring Registered Dietitians – Download Here!

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Next stop: Vancouver, Washington

Hey all! So didn’t I say in my last post that I would let you know the moment that I found out I had a job? Well, sorry for the delay (only by a few days), but I am happy to announce that I will be working at the Clark County Food Bank in Vancouver, WA as a Nutrition Educator! This is a position through the AmeriCorps program and I could not feel more blessed to have been offered it!

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I have been interviewing for several weeks now (as I talked about in my last post), and although I was offered the job in Asheville, NC with Children First (also an AmeriCorps position), I was waiting to hear back from Washington. I was actually listening to a presentation in my senior capstone class when I happened to check my email and find out. It took everything in me to not audibly express my happiness and excitement!

I have had some really awesome conversations with the Executive Director, Alan Hamilton; the supervisor of the Nutrition Educators, Kristen Herron; and the two current AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators, Chantel and Madaline. Each of them have given me the truth about the position – both the good and the bad. In addition, I have been stealing glances at pictures of the gorgeous scenery of Washington state, which is too much to pass up. Finally, I have been filled with the excitement of adventure; of going to a place I have never been before and seeing what I can explore. It is with all of this, and a lot of prayer and desire for God to direct my path, that I happily accepted the offer to work at the Clark County Food Bank.

So, today makes 6 days until I graduate from Berea, College. This is definitely a bittersweet moment. My summer plans and job in Washington mean that I will most likely not see many of my friends, and even some family, for the next year. Although I am beyond excited for this position, I do hope that I don’t feel like I have made a mistake when much of my family and friend’s lives are still happening and so far away. I know I may get homesick, but honestly, I am not that big of a “homebody”. I barely go home as it is (only 1 & 1/2 hours away) and my friends have extremely busy schedules as it is, with many of them still at school. I have faith that I will be brought to them again and that we will stay in touch no matter where we are. I have made too good of friends these past four years for them to not stay that way.

Between this Sunday and the next I have a whole sheet of paper of things to do; some of it class assignments, yet most of it work, friends, or miscellaneously related. I look forward to seeing my family next Sunday and being with my friends throughout this week. Although I have been “counting down” for some time now, I am ready to enjoy the time I have left at Berea College and to make sure I see my friends as much as possible.

One of my class assignments is the RD guide that I have been working on for several weeks now. The next time I write on here, I will be sure to have the complete guide finished and ready to share! I look forward to providing this resource to future dietitians, like myself.

~Lauren

portlandA picture of Portland, Oregon with Mount Hood in the background. Portland is very close to Vancouver, WA.

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Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River gorge.