Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Job and Thanksgiving

I started my new job about 3 weeks ago. I got a job at a non-profit Mental Health Clinic in Dallas. I'm working as a case manager in the clinic. Our clinic sees low income individuals with diagnoses of bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia. It is definitely an intense population to work with but also very interesting. I think it will be a good fit for now and give me a lot of experience working with a wide variety of people. The clinic is very fast paced so time will probably fly by most of the time.

I stayed in Dallas for Thanksgiving this year and truly experienced a Bradley Thanksgiving. Dan and about 20 of his relatives all got together at his uncle's "ranch". We played football, rode 4-wheelers, some people rode the horse, played games, watched football, and all hung out and ate lots of food. It was definitely a different experience from my typical more formal Thanksgiving experience, but it was a lot of fun!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I've made it to Dallas. I just moved a few weeks ago and am adjusting well. It's still so warm which is very nice in comparison to Seattle's fall weather. I've been working on finding a job and am working for a temp agency until I can find something more permanent. I'm very happy here so far and it's really nice being around my boyfriend, Dan, all the time. Here's a picture of Dan and I at the House of Blues last weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I spent about 3 and a half weeks traveling around Europe with two friends from college. We went to London, Paris, Rome, Lausanne, Gimmelwald (a little town up in the Swiss Alpes), Munich, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam. We had a great time and saw so much! Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Sacré-Coeur, Paris

Inside Notre Dame

I love the Eiffel Tower!

In front of the Colosseum

One of the Cinque Terra towns in Italy

Vineyards in Montreux, Switzerland

Hiking in the Swiss Alps

Oktoberfest in Munich!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Please PRAY for the People on the Gulf Coast!

As I'm sure most of you know, hurricane Gustav is stirring in the Gulf of Mexico. It's has already taken over 80 lives and today has strengthened to a category 4 hurricane. Near the middle of the projected path is New Orleans and Mississippi also falls in its projected path. I am devastated just at the thought of ANOTHER major hurricane hitting these people who are still struggling to recover from hurricane Katrina. The third anniversary of Katrina just passed...what a way to remember it by evacuating for another one.

After this year of working on the Gulf Coast, it is all so much more personal. I know these people, I've heard their personal stories and struggles, I've seen progress and hope, but I also left a place that still has a long ways to go before it is recovered from hurricane Katrina. Please pray for these people and that by some miracle Gustav loses steam and misses them.

It also is hard for me to imagine moving on with my life and getting a job in Dallas if this storm really does hit the area I just left. How can I just sit by and not go back? We'll see...

Hurricane Gustav

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Farewell Mississippi, Hello World!

I left Mississippi about a week ago. It's hard to believe the year is already over. I am ready to move on but it's always a little difficult leaving a place that I have become so attached to. I'm going to miss so many homeowners, being on the Gulf, the work I was involved in, and the cajun food. But I am ready to have a little bit more of a "normal" life that with friends, family, activities that interest me, and working 8am-5pm instead of being on call 24/7.

The next few months are going to be a whirlwind adventure! I spent last week in Dallas visiting my boyfriend, Dan, and started the apartment search there. I'm currently writing from Albuquerque, New Mexico visiting my brother and his family. My little nephew, Mason, is one and a half and is pretty adorable. I haven't seen him in nearly a year so he is like an entire different kid. Next, I'm going to a retreat in northern New Mexico for a few days with the people from the program I was with in Mississippi. After the retreat, I'm heading back to Seattle for about 3 weeks. I haven't been home to Seattle since Christmas so I'm excited to be back to visit friends and family and to have a little relief from the hot weather of the south.

But that's not all. After about 3 weeks in Seattle, I'm off to Europe with my friends Sally and Katie for 3 weeks. We are going to take a whirlwind tour of Europe from London, to Paris, to Rome, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and flying out of Amsterdam. After all of that, I'll come back to Seattle for a few days and then fly to Dallas for good. In case you didn't catch that, I'm moving to Dallas!

Rachel and I on a canoeing adventure on the Pearl River

A large gator and a pretty white bird on our canoeing adventure.

The beautiful sunrise at Pensacola Beach, FL for our year end retreat

The prayer flags we made for each other flying from a kite at sunrise

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where have all the volunteers gone?

We are beginning to experience the slow summer months in Mississsippi with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Most of our volunteers don't want to endure working in the hot Mississippi summer weather so our volunteer camps are starting to look pretty deserted. But there is still so much work to be done and I'm leaving in 2 months. Yikes, that's feeling very soon! Yes, I know that life on the coast will go on without me, but I'd like to finish as much as I can in these remaining months.

I am going to try my hardest to work on getting grant funding for as many families as I can before I leave. There won't be as many distractions and other things to do around here with no volunteers so hopefully I'll be able to write more grants. The problem is the American Red Cross grant that was available for survivors of hurricane Katrina has run out of money. There are still a couple other sources of grant funding for homeowners, but the recovery efforts are sure to take a hit because this major funder is no longer able to provide homeowners with money to rebuild their homes.

I'm crossing my fingers that the last grant I submitted will be approved before the money runs out. If all goes as planned there shouldn't be a program, but you never really know around here. Life in the hurricane recovery business tends to be rather messy.

I really can't believe that I've been here for close to a year. It will definitely be hard to leave, but at the same time I think I will be ready to move on. I'll be back in Seattle around the end of August. Then, in the middle of September one of my old college roommates and I are going to travel in Europe for 3 weeks. Yay! After that, I'm planning on moving to Dallas and finding a job there. My boyfriend, Dan, lives there and I don't think I'm done adventuring and living in different parts of the country. But who knows, I still may end up back in Seattle at some point. I've been thinking more and more about going back to school in a year or two for school counseling. So I'm hoping to find a job in some related field to gain some quality experience and decide if that really is the route I want to take.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I've had several people comment to me lately that I must have some pretty amazing stories from working down here in Mississippi. I'm realizing that is very true and that I have an obligation to tell the stories of the people I interact with on a daily basis. Those people who are still living in FEMA trailers or MEMA cottages, who are doing everything in their power to rebuild their home so they have a real home again.

Today was a great day! It was a glimmer of hope in the countless difficult stories I hear every day. I have been working with a family in Pearlington, Mississippi to get them grant funding for the rest of the building materials they need in order to finish their house. For confidentiality reasons, I will call them the Smiths. Mrs. Smith had a heart attack last October and has been spending about 3 days a week in the hospital. They are so close to being back in their home, but they are struggling to pay all their doctor bills let alone afford building materials. Today they got approved for a Red Cross grant and it's going to the final approval stages of funding tomorrow! Mr. Smith was so happy that he said he might just have to dance at my wedding someday. It made me smile.

I'm really enjoying my job as a case manager now. It's tough. I hear a lot of hard stories and have to make a lot of tough decisions, but overall it is very rewarding to be helping these people.

The summer weather in Mississippi is just about upon us. It has really warmed up lately and the highs are about 80 degrees most days. I am not looking forward to the hot, humid Mississippi weather. But I've done it before and I'm sure I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Case Management and Mardi Gras fun!

I certainly have a lot to update you on over the last few months. Over Christmas I got to go home to Seattle. It was great spending time with friends and family, and a refreshing break from life on the Gulf Coast. When I returned in January things were very challenging for me for a while. I had a very hard time working with my new co-village manager. We simply have very different approaches to how to do things and were not able to find a common ground to work through those differences. I tried my best to make the best of the situation and find a way to fix things, but it just wasn't possible.

Fortunately my boss was willing to work with me to find a place for me so I could continue working on the Gulf Coast. Now I am working with our case manager and am being trained and am starting to work as a case manager myself. I am really enjoying what I'm doing now and I think it's a better fit for me than being a village manager. I have the opportunity to talk with a lot of home owners and I am getting a better general feel for how much work there still is left here on the Gulf Coast. As I case manager I visit peoples' homes to find out what they need to get back into their house and help them develop a plan to do that. Also I help them find funding.

Recently I've been calling all the home owners we have in our files in our camp in Pearlington to see where they are in the process of getting back into their homes. It can be a long and sometimes boring process but at the same time it's very interesting hearing such a wide variety of stories from people. There are people who are back in their homes and doing just fine to those who seem to be still starting out and have a long ways to go. I hear a lot of stories of frustrated people who feel like they've fallen through the cracks and have basically received no assistance, but I am also encouraged by the stories I hear of people who have received volunteer help and are now giving back to the community because they are back on their feet again.

In other news, Mardi Gras just ended last week. Some of the people I work with and other friends spent a long weekend in New Orleans going to parades. We had a blast and definitely got a taste oflife in New Orleans around Mardi Gras. I have way too many beads, a ton of stuffed animals, feather masks, and other little useless things I caught in the parades.

Dan and I after the Endymion parade with all our stuff!

A Mardi Gras parade float

Our Mardi Gras crew waiting for the parades