floods and firetrucks

The summer started off with a bang, well actually some sirens and alarms, but same thing, right?

Summer usually means going home to coach, volunteer, and spend time with my family. However, this summer I took the opportunity to stay in North Manchester to intern as an Orientation Assistant for Manchester’s First-Year Experience Department. This means that while most of my friends were moving home for the summer, I was actually packing up and moving to a different hall that lacked AC, oops.

The first week was interesting to say the least. I started working in the office assisting in planning and organizing Orientation Days. I would wake up every morning with my cup of ambition singing 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. The first day of work I was walking back to my room when I noticed, Schwalm (the hall I am living in this summer) was surrounded by firetrucks. It was all well though, this sort of thing happens a lot – it’s kind of just a part of the experience. The next day I walked back, I noticed an odd smell when I walked into my hallway – it kind of smelled like a pond and not a pretty one. When I opened the bathroom door, well, it was flooded. I said uh oh and went to find my best pal and RA Erin. RA’s can basically fix everything.

The next week, Erin was gone. That week also brought a tornado and a bed bug threat. All us summer residents went to the basement for about an hour and half before we finally got the all clear. The next few days consisted of bagging up clothes, moving furniture, and washing everything to make sure no bed bugs were going to bite me in my sleep. I could have been super annoyed about the fire alarms, odd circumstances, and sitting in a cramped basement for what felt like hours, but it was actually pretty comical. What are the odds that all these things would happen in the first weeks of summer? At this point I knew it was time to embrace the bad and try my best to see good in every situation.

After the week was over, Erin came back with gifts!! She gave us friendship ankle bracelets from the beach and mine was supposed to bring me luck. Well we went out for ice cream that night and when I went up to order I slipped up and said that I wanted a cup of Putter Becan instead of Butter Pecan. A few moments later it began pouring rain out of the middle of no where. The whole luck thing was not quite working out yet to say the least.

I’ve learned to not leave things up to luck. Faith, prayer, and effort sure do work a lot better. I keep my ankle bracelet on not as a reminder of luck, but rather as a reminder that life is what you make it.

Overall though, I’ve really enjoyed working, especially on the days when everything falls into place. We have had four Orientation Days for incoming first-years and each one brings so much excitement that all we have planned for is actually happening. I love zipping around campus in my golf cart, checking in with the Student Orientation Leaders to make sure that they and the students are happy, and just making sure that everything is in place.

So far so good, now for an extended vacation at home.

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friendship

When I was in 8th grade I wrote a fabulous speech about friendship. When I read it aloud in class I even had one of my friends doing interpretive dance right behind me. I recall talking about fake friends, regular friends, and forever friends.

Coming to college I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make those forever friends that know you and love you for who you truly are. Thankfully, by the end of my first semester I had found the greatest gal pals I could have asked for. We ate nearly every meal together at the same table at the same time every day, we had so many inside jokes, dance parties, movie nights, and an abundance of laughter. Most nights would end with us all gathering into one of our rooms where we would recap the day, talk about our crushes, and dream about the future.

Entering sophomore year we weren’t sure if we would be able to be as close as we were freshman year, and we weren’t – but that was okay! We all made a lot of new friends and explored new areas of our lives. When we did cross paths, we always greeted each other with hugs and “I miss yous” and “I love yous”.

Nearing the end of Spring Semester heartbreak hit. That same night, though, was one of my favorite nights of the whole semester. My girl gang got back together even if it was for one night and one night only. The really special thing about forever friends is that when you need them, they always magically appear. We sang, laughed, and danced the night away just like old times and I can’t tell you how full my heart was when we parted.

The year that could have ended as just okay, actually ended on a bit of a high note. My girls were back together, I took a small risk and played mud volleyball on May Day, and I tackled my finals…in a good way.

So long sophomore year!

*enjoy this low quality picture of some high quality gals

 

Arseneau, Casey Lynn

Two days after my trip of a lifetime, my able-bodied self got knee surgery – ACL surgery to be exact – which is ever so ironically my initials.

It was an early wake up call of 5:30 on that cold January morning. My mom and I had to get to the hospital by 6:00 for a 7:30 surgery.  I threw on my intramural championship T-shirt and favorite pair of sweatpants and off we went. In a way I was pretty excited – I was really looking forward to being able to do the things I love again post surgery and post many months of therapy.

Everything was going smoothly that morning. I was laughing with my nurses, my mom didn’t seem too nervous, and honestly I was still dreaming about Greece and Rome. Those dreams and the laughter quickly stopped once they wheeled me into the operating room though. Tears were leaking down my face and I was so so scared. I couldn’t tell you what I was afraid of, but the fear had a firm grasp on my heart. The nurses wiped away my tears and reminded me that everyone in the room was there to help me.

A few moments later I was waking up doing division problems with a clock. They didn’t ask me any math problems, I just felt like doing them. Once I was fully awake they wheeled me back to my mom and she looked relieved to see me. I looked down expecting to see my knee bent at a 90 degree angle (because that’s what it felt like) but it was straight as can be. Not long after, I was in the car headed back home.

The next few days consisted of me binge watching The Office, random visits by my family, and lots of icing. When day three came around and it was time for the bandages to come off, well that was a big endeavor by everyone involved. My mom slowly unwrapped the bandages and the layers of blood-soaked gauze, until we were finally down to my skin. I couldn’t tell you who was paler after that was done. I even feel lightheaded thinking about it.

My mom slowly helped me to the bathroom for a real shower and let me tell you that there is not much more humbling than your mom giving you a shower at age 20, or your brother actually being nice to you and helping you put your socks on, or just being able to stand by the window with your dad after days of laying in bed. It was truly a learning and bonding experience for all of us.

My parents reluctantly drove me back to school so that I could start Spring Semester on time. They really did not want me to go back given that it was still hard to do just about anything by myself, but I knew I had friends that would help me out at Manchester too. Thank GOODNESS for snow days. The first week of classes basically got cancelled so I got two extra days of rest before trekking across the snowy, icy campus…on my crutches… with a super heavy leg brace that liked to slip all the way down.

I wouldn’t have made it through that first month without my friends though. They were always on call to help me get somewhere, or get me food, or even decorate my crutches. They were always there to lift my mood and support me when I needed it most.

Physical therapy started in February and lasted all the way into June. My therapists always kept things fun and challenging. My last session ended with me balancing on a trampoline on my bad leg while catching balls thrown at me. Finally I felt like I was doing athletic things again! I still have a ways to go until I can really play sports or ski, but just knowing how far I have come is huge for me.

This whole injury was such a curve ball to my life. It could have affected my attitude, my grades, and my relationships in a way that would have wrecked me. However, I knew that I could not let that happen. From the moment that I sobbed in my car after learning I tore my ACL to now, there has been one constant giving me the strength I didn’t know I needed. There was only one thing to do after the sobs seized, as I was rolled into the operating room, and as I was doing my therapy – I prayed. Thanks God 🙂

 

 

 

mamma mia, this is what dreams are made of

To prepare for 2019 I did two things – I made a huge list of goals & guidelines and I watched Mamma Mia and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Why? Because I was about to take flight to the two places that I have wanted to go to since early elementary school.

January 6 was the day I became a world traveler. Thank goodness for Manchester and Jan Term!!

We flew into Athens near sunset and I was already awestruck – even writing this now I can hardly find the words to explain what I was feeling and seeing. The first night I passed out hard, it was definitely the best sleep of the whole trip.

When I woke up the next morning I jumped out of bed, looked out the window, and yep, there it was, Athens. The morning started off with a food tour and man was that food gooooood. That afternoon we went to the Parthenon museum and then we were supposed to go to the Parthenon, but us silly Americans brought snow to Athens, so it was shut down for the day. Things were wrapping up for the day and not knowing anyone super well before the trip I knew I had to figure out who I was going to hang out with quick. Luckily, I made a really good decision. That first night I made nine new friends that would quickly become family and literally carry me throughout the trip.

Athens brought us our first taste of gelato, a professional basketball game, Olympic Stadiums,  The Parthenon, the Panathenaic Stadium, and a Greek dinner and dance night to name a few. We would wonder the streets of Athens at night only to find that Google Maps was never taking us in the right direction. We quickly learned to just use the Parthenon as a reference point since it is the highest point of the city. Laughter and awe were in abundance and we still had 7 days to go.

On day 7 we traveled into the Greek countryside where we stopped in ancient cities to explore what remained. The ancient theater of Epidaurus was so fully intact and perfectly designed that I could only stare and wonder how people could have came up with and executed the idea so perfectly when technology was so minimal.

That night we settled into the seaside village of Nafplio. There we hiked 999 steps to the top of a beautiful fortress. Our tour guide, George, only had extremely depressing things to say about the place. In fact, I was overlooking the remarkable blue water gently smiling, when he interrupted with a war story that ended in hundreds of people jumping off the cliff and into the water. I turned and grimaced and in my head said, “Thanks for that George.” Later that day we hiked through a cactus field, explored the town, and ate some amazing food.

One thing about food though. I don’t really know why, but my appetite was not large as usual while abroad. This became a problem…Greek and Roman people make huge meals, and if you don’t eat it all…well that’s just an insult. It became a bit of a joke, but honestly, sometimes I felt soooo bad that I couldn’t finish my meals and join the Clean Plate Club. The closest I came was that night in Nafplio. I decided to only get dessert, just one plate of apple pie. Wow, when that warm pie surrounded by three mountains of ice cream and four spots of whip cream came out to me…I dang near cried it was so beautiful. I just about ate the whole thing – it was a solid effort.

The next few days we traveled to Sparta, went on a quick cave tour, explored Olympia, played euchre, and explored three islands. I was not ready to leave Greece, but Rome was calling.

With three days of the trip to go, we boarded the plane and flew to Rome. As soon as we landed my terrific Italian accent came out as well. Every word I saw, I repeated it out loud in my Italian accent and I felt like the coolest person ever. We visited the Colosseum and the Vatican on the first day. I was amazed at how many people were touring Rome in the middle of January. The Sistine Chapel was packed with everyone staring straight up. There was so much to take in, but so little time.

That night and the next day we wandered around Rome. There was so much history to see around every corner. We came across the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, hundreds of fountains, a McDonald’s that served cheesecake, and so much more. I tossed a lucky penny into the Trevi Fountain the same day that I got to listen to the Pope. You could say my life was feeling pretty complete at this point, because it was.

Needless to say, but Jan Term 2019 will always have a special place in my heart.

follow the star

to leave behind everything you know

to trust in the unknown

to feel a tug in your heart

to walk with blind trust

to accept God’s never-ending, unconditional love

 

Easier said than done? Yes.

Impossible? No.

 

I tried to imagine what the three wise men must have thought while they were on their journey to find Jesus. They probably weren’t worrying about whether or not they had brought the right presents for all their friends and family members or if their homes were clean and picture ready.

They were probably freaking out wondering if they were going to get lost or if they were being sent on some wild goose chase.  I mean would you go if you were told to follow a star and search everywhere until you find a baby that will one day rule the world? Leave behind your family, your job, everything you know?

I bet they were happy to have each other. I hope that they were able to joke and laugh and learn something on the way. And I bet that they could only imagine how great this little human they were looking for would be. They probably weren’t sure if they would know, really know whether they had found the right baby as they continued to look and look.

They followed the star. When it got cloudy, the star still peeked through shining as brightly as it could to continue guiding the wise men along the way. Maybe at times they did lose sight of it, but they blindly followed with unwavering trust. And that star, it led them right to the the small baby that would bring the world peace, joy, and love.

Sometimes in life, we have to trust God with everything we have. We don’t know the way he is taking us, because, well, it probably isn’t the way we had imagined.

I sure hadn’t imagined at the beginning of this semester that I would be declaring a Physical Education major, tear my ACL, and proceed to walk without it. But God put it in my heart to go to Greece and Rome in January, and missing one ACL isn’t going to stop me from doing that. I can feel my strength, patience, and faith continuing to grow each day as I follow the star.

 

 

highs and lows

I’m not quite certain what God is doing with my life right now, but here I am trusting that it is heading in the right direction.

Last Monday while playing intramural volleyball I hurt my knee and ended up in the ER. I was fairly certain that I couldn’t have hurt it that bad though simply because I haven’t really had a sports injury since 8th grade basketball when I sprained my ankle. I guess I should have taken it a little more seriously considering I couldn’t walk.

So I went to the doctor last week, got an MRI this week, and when I went back today I was sure that he was going to tell me that I just sprained a few things and that in a month I would be all good and back to normal. Well he walked in and he seemed really hesitant. He compared my knees and asked me how I was feeling. It was all going pretty good and I was hoping he would just tell me what the MRI said because well I was starting to get a little nervous.

He took a deep breath and said, “Casey, you tore your ACL, but everything else is fine.”

My mouth dropped so hard and I whispered, “What, no,” as my eyes started tearing up.

A torn ACL means surgery. A torn ACL means no skiing, basketball, volleyball, jumping, and twisting of the knee. I was also pretty afraid that a torn ACL would mean that I wouldn’t be able to go to my study abroad trip in Greece and Rome in January which I have been looking forward to since last year.

Lucky for me, the doctor told me that I absolutely could still go to Greece and Rome and that we could just do the surgery when I got back. I mean is it a little scary that I will be walking around with no ACL in my left knee for the next three months? Yes, yes it most definitely is. However, with physical therapy and a whole lot of personal determination and motivation, I’m going to do it.

This next year is going to be interesting to say the least. I know I’m going to get really frustrated at times, but I also know that I’m going to have to have a lot of faith in God and a lot of faith in myself too. I’m going to gain something good from this whole thing, because well I need some good symbolism and personal development in my life.

Fun fact- While I was getting x-rays in the ER I got the news that my volleyball team won the championship and my heart rate went way up as I started balling my eyes out due to being so happy…we finally get the intramural champions T-shirts-YESS!

 

*Also thought it would be important to mention that I am changing my major to Physical Education with a minor in Health Promotion and maybe Coaching too. Following in the footsteps of Aunt Beth?? Sure seems like it.

 

awe

The seventeen hour drive from Detroit to Erin’s house to North Carolina gave me a lot of time to think.

It made me realize that I was missing that special feeling of awe. Nothing was making me say wow that’s so amazing. Nothing was making me feel speechless. And nothing was making me feel the joy of being a child.

I for one like to be awestruck and amazed by things big and small and when I realized how numb I was becoming to it all I was disappointed. How could I have let myself lose the childlike joy of everything and anything?

I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to make this trip help me get my awe back, but luckily I didn’t have to.

Besides letting me think, the car ride also let me read my first book for fun for the first time since last summer. I never felt like I had the time to read a book that I wanted to read during the school year, so being able to was really good for me.

Then, before we were to reach our destination we had to cross not one, but two longggggg bridges. I wouldn’t say that I am a person that hates bridges, but these bridges were hard to love. One was down to one lane for a mile and the other had a stoplight. Both sides had angry waves as a storm was about to blow in. Although a little painful, it was also exciting. Only a few minutes later we found our house and ran in to meet Erin’s grandparents and get the heck out of that freaking car.

That’s when I saw it – the ocean- and boy was it breathtaking. The beach was soft and warm from a day of sunshine and the waves were constantly crashing in one after another. Every once in a while they would be synchronized and there would be a small moment of silence when all was calm.

I couldn’t help but run and touch the ocean. It was cold, but totally worth it. I kept playing around and my friends soon caught up and we took a walk down the beach. To our left were clear skies with some puffy, pink clouds scattered about. To our right were the dark skies of a rumbling storm.

When it was time to go in for dinner, I found it hard to leave the scene, I wanted to keep the joy and awe I had felt in my pocket just in case I didn’t feel it again.

Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that after a while. The ocean is always going to be there- even though nothing about it seems to be constant, its presence is. When I woke up bright and early the next morning to watch the sun rise, just wow, it was a humbling experience.

I took a seat outside with my notebook in hand, then I waited. The skies were completely clear and the golden sun peaked above the ocean ever so slowly shedding the first warm rays of the day. There is something about watching the sun rise over the ocean that is so much more magical than anywhere else. As the sun continues to rise, it creates a straight, golden path connecting you to the sun. It is practically begging you to look at your life in a new light and feel the joy that can only come from God. The moment gave me the peace and awe I had been in search of.

But it didn’t stop there. God knew what I needed and he sent it.

There were dolphins waving from the ocean.

A shooting star streaking across the night sky.

A rainbow as bright and magnificent as ever before.

Wholesome memories shared with friends.

Warm donuts covered in lemon frosting and oreo crumbs.

Three packs of lifeguards running down the beach.

The same vanilla root beer we love to have in Manchester.

New wishes and dreams being created.