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Top 10 for 2013

I really hate reflecting back on the past year come New Year’s Day. This year was frustratingly up and down, more than what I would like to admit.  I did manage to find a few good things within the piles of poopage, and here they are!

10. Officially going to pro photographer status. I have been doing photography since 2007, but I never started getting super serious about it until the past couple of years (a better camera will do that!). So armed with my trusty Canon Powershot SX150 IS, I was asked to do the senior recital pictures of one of our music students, who is a tuba major. I wasn’t expecting to be paid, but when he told me that he would, it was too good of an offer to pass up (and I about cried when he gave me the check)… plus he said he would use the shots for his portfolio! I spent about four hours editing said photos, and they turned out quite nicely. I don’t have a lot of experience photographing people; I’m a nature kind of girl. I also don’t have a ton of experience editing; I prefer raw photography, hence the nature preference.

For those curious about my photography, I’ve uploaded some of my best ones onto my National Geographic portfolio:

9. Planning and executing a research project. I love research. I find statistics/SPSS and reading articles absolutely fascinating. As a capstone project for my M.Ed career, those taking “Action Research in Education” at my university have to plan out an entire project involving human subjects, which has to be approved by the IRB and the whole nine yards. (Any academics out there will know what I’m talking about!) You also have to get CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) certified to do it all. I succesfully completed my 23-page project, “Gender Talk-Time in the Middle and Secondary Classroom”, with an A in the class (and an almost-perfect score on the project itself).

8. Participating in Intercollegiate Band: It is an honor to be selected for the state’s ICB festival. It’s like the music festivals some may have participated with in high school, but on a larger scale. I was selected in my undergrad (2009), and I was thrilled to be selected again. (Funny though, when I tell people I went on saxophone, I get the the look like I just sprouted two heads. No one really sees me playing sax anymore; I am mainly on timpani/percussion.) But anywho, I got to spend a weekend in March with the best musicians in the state, performing some of the best wind ensemble works that have been published. I also met a lot of amazing people, which made the experience so worthwhile.

7. Adventures to Pittsburgh and Places: I went on so many road trips and travel adventures this last year. Pittsburgh, Erie, Mansfield, Troy, etc… Lots of good places with good eats, I may add. I also traveled out to Disney, by myself, whilst navigating airports and the Disney transportation system (more on that later!).

6. Adventures with my Whovians: I have typically been the person who feels left out of any social-related thing…or just anything. As Amy Farrah Fowler stated, “I’m always the girl who never gets looked at twice.” My acquaintance to friend ratio is 59372:1, it seems like. This year, I feel as though I finally found a group of solid, legitimate, TRUE friends: Team Awesome. We’re nerds. We’re Whovians. We like our wine and beverages. We like bowling and dancing around like crazies and singing karaoke off-key while having fun and supporting each other in our artistic endeavors (many of us are musicians/actors/actresses/some combination thereof). I know if I need any advice, or even just a friend (which flips my stomach to say, solely because I really never got to say it much until now), I can turn to any of these people and they’re there for me. It feels nice to be at home.

So if you’ve made it this far, congrats! Go take a whiz, grab some coffee and snackie cakes, and let’s continue to the top 5….

5. Chartering Kappa Kappa Psi. After attending ICB in March, those of us that went had observed the host school’s chapter of KKPsi in action, serving the directors and their school with anything they needed to keep the festival running smoothly (also including getting Red Bulls for the guest conductor). On the ride home, we decided to look up the information and see what it would take to establish a chapter. Needless to say, the interest meeting was well-attended, and we got down to work. Granted, like with anything in life, there were bumps and potholes and gaping ditches in the road at times we had to tackle. Also, being a grad student, I didn’t have to do this at all. However, being able to say that I am a charter member of an organization such as this really means a lot. If I ever want to help establish a colony/chapter at another school, I know exactly what to do. Greek Affairs is a dream job of mine (I have so many letters! DZ/APhiO/KKPsi), and having experience like this can go a long way. I’m very excited to see what we can do in the coming semesters.

4. Singing 100 Anthems. Since 2010, I have been the national anthem vocalist for our athletic department. I consider this my job and treat it as such. I reached my 100th anthem on November 11th (also Veteran’s Day…how fitting!). This was also the first game for our new head men’s basketball coach. We won the game, which was a great way to start the season. Since then, I’ve sang a few more, and I’ll begin again on Jan 8th with #112. (It’s great to have that little statistic off the top of your head to amaze those who ask.) Also, from being around the athletic department the last few seasons, I have started to take an interest in Sports Information. Granted, I can only observe and pick the brains of those that are in the field (and run stat sheets to people if asked), but maybe my new degree can spawn a career of some sorts in the area….

3. Rallying for the Music Department/Finding My Media Niche: A firestorm erupted within the University and my music department as the higher-ups declared that our program was going to be cut in response to a budget deficit of several million dollars (and this number changed every day without so much as rhyme or reason behind the changes). All of this began with a leaked email posted on Facebook from one of our faculty members, and once the news got ahold of this, all hell brooke loose. After the initial shock, we went into fighter mode. I and another student assisted with a rally that generated multiple rallies from other departments that were supporting us, and fighting for their own programs at the same time. In reality, all we wanted were clear answers that the administration wasn’t giving us. Students took their time with meetings with the president and deans to voice their concerns and questions about what was going on, and to take a stand for they thought was right. It felt amazing being a part of something so much bigger, to be the department spokesperson for the local news four times (which launched me into local celebrity-status), to be fed secret information about everything that was going on, etc…In the end, the administration told us the programs were staying…but that joy was short-lived as retrenchment letters were distributed to four of our full-time faculty members. Most are being considered to be taken back, but honestly, the damage has been done. I’m certain the relationships between the administration and the music department won’t ever be the same.

Whew! Top two! (I think these are both tied for being my number one awesome thing this year…)

2. Changing My Masters Program. This one is huge. I had been in a serious roller coaster since Spring 2012 about grad school. Up, down, around, and back again, I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to stay or go. I love being an academic (sometimes), but I couldn’t put my finger on what was making me so miserable. I was stressed, constantly getting sick (with a couple hospital visits thrown in there and dealing with Renal Colic attacks), and struggling with anything academic due to sheer apathy. I got seriously depressed over this last summer and wanted to drop out. I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t leave my bed, and didn’t want to be happy because I couldn’t find anything to BE happy about. It was that bad. I even went to a therapist for the first time. I was a total mess. This entire semester indicated that I needed a change, and I needed it fast. With the music department, my relationship, and academics blowing up in my face, something had to happen before I lost my sanity.

Refer back to #3…Once I started doing TV interviews, and receiving positive response from viewers/professors/students about how natural I was in front of the camera, I considered changing to an MA in Communication Studies (or MACS, as we call it around here). After some serious thought (legit thought, too…I have a LOT of education credits on my shoulders, and I didn’t want to see them go to waste…but I can always find a way to cross-curriculum my papers, right?), I went to the program head and said, “I want to change my major. How can I do that?” So we sat for an hour, discussed my situation, and filled out the program of study. Everything became official before school departed for winter break. I am SOOOOOO happy (and I mean, ‘jump around in the snow like a corgi’ happy) to have made this change. I had always been stuck with the notion that I had to stay with music education, or just education in general, because that’s what I was pushed to do all my life (and apparently I’m ‘so good’ at it). But sometimes, you will get seriously burned out, and you need a change before you go batcrap crazy. I am VERY thrilled to see what I can do with this.

(For those of you keeping count, if you were to look at the official transcript, I legitimately have the M.Ed in Mid/Sec Education completed. However, without completing the teacher’s certification portion, that degree will never be officially granted to me. I tried getting out of that requirement, because I wanted to be in administration, not teaching. The education peeps denied it, and that denial added on what will be my fourth year of grad school. NOT happy about that.)

And now, for #1…which is akin to this blog… 🙂

1. Earning My Tiara at the 2013 Princess Half: Ever set those goals that you may think are impossible to achieve, and then you go and accomplish them, and everything is amazing? That’s how I felt after I crossed that finish line. I never thought about distance running before, but the runDisney races always seemed to intrigue me. I fought sickness, wisdom surgery, snow, and school to make it down to Florida. (I also got to play on an iPad for the first time at a breakfast bar at LaGuardia airport during the layover heading down…I even got to order food on it!!) I navigated the security and the endless signs with arrows pointing every which way in the terminals and the Disney Transportation drop-off thingie. I packed sensibly so to only have carry-on baggage and nothing else. I enjoyed a fun-filled weekend with my cousin (whom I never really got along with until this weekend; I think we were in diva competition with each other when we were younger), and since she was a former CM, she told me some of the behind-the-scenes things that happen at WDW. Also had some super good eats and drinks, too!

During the race, I accomplished what I never thought I could do. Being surrounded by 25,000 best friends felt magical, as we were all chasing toward the same goal. Dreams really do come true with a little pixie dust and magic 🙂 Get ready, WDW..I’m coming for my Glass Slippers in 50 days!!

Thanks for taking time to read! Have a happy new year and reach for the stars! (It’s that second star to the right. 🙂


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57 Days!

Counting down the next two months until Glass Slipper weekend by watching Disney World specials and drinking coffee. Woo!

I hope all of you have a lovely holiday season and a fantastic new year!


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Nine Miles…Done!

Tonight I accomplished my long run of nine miles. I’m a treadmill runner, and I like to do an improvised Galloway run with distance, not time. (Ex. .10 at 2.5 mph, then .20 at 5.5 mph, rinse and repeat for a mile all at a 1.0-1.5 elevation.)  I alternated between the elliptical and the treadmill, trading off every other mile, AND adding circuit training in between miles. It was quite the evening and I feel SO great about accomplishing this. Going from the elliptical to the treadmill consistently actually helped me get faster throughout the night, and I didn’t feel dead at the end of each mile.

I got back and immediately pounded about 45 Vitalitybits. Despite the fish food smell, these little guys have gotten me through my weeks recently. I ordered the Vitalitybits, and also received a sample of the legit ENERGYbits, which I used to fuel my brain for an 8 AM final exam (on a Monday morning, nonetheless). I ended up with an A in the class (and probably on the exam, too!), and despite the early morning start, I was still going strong for the rest of the day. The bits have helped curb my appetite, so I’m not making Sheetz runs every five seconds for food. I’m also ingesting extra water when I’m taking them (yay hydration!).

Let’s see how I feel in the morning! 58 days to go! 😀

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ERC Turkey Trot 10k Recap

Thanksgiving morning was a cold one. 22 degrees with a blizzard. Not exactly prime running conditions, but I was willing to make the most of it. Erie RUnners CLub was sponsoring a Turkey Trot 10k (in addition to a 5k run/walk to be held before the 10k), so I figured that, when I signed up, I could use my time to improve my starting spot for PHM.


My outfit consisted of:

-RBX athletic tights (Style #CR655)

-Nike Pro Dri-Fit Hyperwarm tech sweatshirt (which kept me plenty toasty during this run!)

-Thorlo pad socks and Saucony pro/Grid Ride 5 running shoes

-Adidas athletic jacket


The run took place on Presque Isle State Park, which is located in Erie, PA. It’s a peninsula that stretches into Lake Erie. It’s a prime spot for lake-effect snow and wild weather. Standing around waiting to begin, the skies started to clear up a bit, so I was hoping for good weather.

First thing I noticed when I lined up: the terrain. It was a sheet of ice. We would be running on asphalt…but nothing was done about the half-inch of ice that covered the area. Now **this** was going to be interesting. I noticed that some of the other runners had different material wrapped around their shoes for traction.

The 5k was run before the 10k began, which was supposed to have started at 9:45 at the latest. We were lined up and then looped back around to face the other direction. By 10:00, we were finally off. Everyone was slipping and sliding all over the place. I told myself that finishing was the only goal. I didn’t care how slow I was going to go; I wasn’t about to kill myself for a PR. (Although, seeing as this was my first 10k, it would have been a PR, anyway!) By the end of mile one, I was near the back of the pack with a 13:38 time, according to the guy at the one-mile mark. That was fine with me.

As the race went on, a gentleman caled out to me, “Looks like you’re running the same pace as me!” I turned around to him and we both agreed to be running buddies for the rest of the race. His name was John, and also an Edinboro University alum. We traded off stories, cheered on other runners, and made decisions on whose tights and turkey outfits were the coolest. Along the route, we started asking each other, “Where are we? What mile are we on?”


There were no mile markers. Ever.


We paced ourselves with a run/walk and made sure we didn’t fall down. As long as we didn’t finish last, that was okay with us. (Turns out he didn’t have his timing chip, but he going to run it, anyway. How sweet.) Rounding a corner, we determined we had reached halfway; there was the cone that people took too fast around and totally bit it. The gentleman manning it suggested, “Make sure you walk around this!” and John yelled back, “Oh, trust me, we have no problems walking!” We asked if he had a time, and he said no. -__-

Heading back to the line, the weather picked up. Blizzard + headwind = miserable conditions. By this time, I was starting to feel my thighs going numb and parts of my body hurting. Since the terrain was so gross, I had to alter my footing so that I wasn’t running a full stride, but it was more like the energy was focused on the outer part of my feet. Kind of hard to describe. (Even now as I type this, the inner arch of my right foot feels swollen only when I have my running shoes on and the insert is rubbing against it. It’s very annoying.)

Unlike Disney, there are very few to no spectators cheering you on this course. John and I rounded the corner and saw the timing line. His friend, Jeremy, who had finished significantly faster than us, came rushing over and ran the rest of the way with us. I finished in 1:26:37. According to the official results, that evened out to a 13:48/mi pace. I have NO idea how I managed that, but I’ll take it. I submitted it to runDisney, so hopefully my corral gets bumped up for the Princess Half! 🙂


Notes and observations:

-Shuttle buses = 🙂 There was a steady stream of buses to take runners from the parking areas to the race area and back again. Since I was one of the last to finish (fourth to last to be exact), there was still a bus waiting for me and the people who waited around for me to pick us up.

-Weather…obviously I can’t control the weather, although I wish I could. If the snow would had held off and had been about 20 degrees warmer, it would have been decent. My choice of outfit kept me plenty warm, though.

-Icy conditions: I’m not sure if PISP has maintenance crews that focus on this kind of thing, but the icy paths were ridiculous. At times I was fearing for the safety of myself and others that were running.

-Lack of mile markers = 😦 This was the most frustrating part of the whole race. It would have been really nice to know where exactly I was along the course. I didn’t have my phone or any kind of electronic device on me to track mileage. Good call on my part; I don’t need to be replacing broken electronics at this stage in the game.

-Minimal comraderie: This was kind of upsetting. In Disney, people line up the streets for miles amd miles and support each other throughout the race. In Erie, there was not a soul at that finish line waiting for us slowpokes. I’m not sure if it’s an attitude thing or what have you, but it would have been nice to come down that last little bit of (icy) stretch to at least someone or something to congratulate us. **sigh**

-Scenery = 🙂 PISP is very beautiful. If you ever get the chance to visit, I would suggest it. Plus, for the runner fanatics, it is one of the flattest, fastest courses in the country and is a Boston qualifier.


I might run this again, but it depends on the weather. I’m not a big fan of cold in general. At least I can say I ran in the snow/ice AND improved my 10k split from PHM by ten minutes.


Next up…couple months of training and Glass Slipper Weekend!