Posts Tagged ‘summer’

A Look Back at Summer

August 26, 2013

As we begin our IMC Week 2, I thought I’d do a quick recap about how I spent my summer break. I remember from school that this was a popular topic second only to the dreaded what did you get for Christmas? interrogation.

Not since high school do I remember feeling the urgency of summer as much I did this past month. It’s a feeling of let’s hurry up and relax – or not relax and get out and do stuff. I was like Bill Duke’s character in Predator after he finally loses his mind. “I’m gonna have me some fun. I’m gonna have me some fun.” Summer usually feels like any other segment of the year, but this year I found myself trying to entertain a 3-year-old to make up for all my busyness during the school year.

Houston is not a place where you can just stumble into fun. The city with its surrounding suburbia pockets is too big for that. Fun has to be researched and found, or you will miss out. I don’t know how many years the circus has been coming to town, but this was the first year that I noticed the billboards before the troupe had already left town. Motherhood must have sharpened my senses.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was probably the highlight of the summer. Not just because of the hilarity of watching my husband be more impressed than my son – the kid was more interested in his lollipop than a performer riding a motorcycle on a wire. “Mommy that’s dangerous.” I didn’t know it at the time, but the circus would also be a pre-consolation for my elephant figurines that the two would later take turns breaking. It’s easy to see from the balance of photos that this is my favorite animal.

Elephants during the preshow.

Circus elephants during the preshow.

Elephants playing during the preshow.

A little flirting before the show.

Circus preshow entertainment

Circus preshow entertainment.

Motorcycle on a wire.

“Mommy that’s dangerous.”

Lion and tigers 1

Lion and tigers. (Oh my!)

Lion and tigers 2

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Elephants on a stool

The things they make us do.

Elephants sitting

Does this trainer make me look fat?

Elephants laying down

Whew, I’m exhausted!

During the summer month, we also attempted to give our son his first experience at the movies. Little did I know that an episode of Curious George had already done that. He knew exactly where to look for the projector and immediately called me out for trying to cheat him out of the popcorn and soda part of the experience. I’ll be right back.

We also managed to squeeze in a couple of family visits, take advantage of our community pool, and celebrate my husband’s birthday. On our last dash for fun, my husband and I went on a date “day” and saw The Butler with Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. This movie made me cry, left me (almost) speechless, and turned out to be the perfect ending to a short-lived but satisfying break.

While we didn’t take in the entire town, here are a few additional highlights to take in if you ever find yourself in Houston, TX.

Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston area

The Toyota Center

Home of the Houston Rockets and now Dwight Howard

Reliant Stadium Exterior

Reliant Stadium – home of the Houston Texans

Reliant Stadium bulls

Entrance to Reliant Stadium

Houston Galleria area

Houston Galleria area

Williams Waterwall

Williams Waterwall

Williams Tower

Williams Tower

Waterwall Park

Waterwall Park

Who all hit the ground running during Week 1, and who all found themselves still groggy from summer?

Do You Need a Break From School?

July 22, 2013

I recently received an email from a prospective IMC student asking me whether I recommended taking classes year-round or taking a semester off. This was also a popular topic of discussion at the 2013 Integrate Conference, as every prospective or new student wants to know “how long will it really take me to get my IMC degree?” Of course there is no easy answer. How long you take to complete the program is a personal decision and what has worked for one student might not work for others.

Keep Calm It's Almost Summer Break

Sometimes taking a semester off can help you return to school with more energy and excitement.

As for me, when I first decided to enroll in the IMC program I was determined to take 1 class every semester, without a break, so I could finish up in just 2.5 years. This seemed to be very doable and the idea of finishing up as quickly as possibly appealed to me. Then I completed my first two semesters and reality set-in. Already juggling the roles of wife and mother along with a demanding marketing job, I realized that not taking a break was going to lead to burn-out very quickly. So, I took the summer semester off my first year. I struggled with the decision, knowing it would prolong my time in school. But being able to spend more time with my family for those three months, without worrying about homework assignments or discussion board posts was wonderful! I re-discovered what it was like to read a book for pleasure, and cuddle with my husband on the couch in the evenings without a laptop. Not only was it nice to have the break, but when the fall semester started that August I felt ready, even excited to begin school again.

After that first year I decided finishing the program with balance in my life was more important that finishing it as quickly as possible. So I made the decision to take off at least one semester every year and give myself, and my family, that break. Yes, this means it’s taking me 3.5 years, instead of 2.5 to finish, but as I like to say to people when they ask how long I’ve been in school “it’s a marathon, not a sprint!”

If you are a prospective IMC student, or even a current student struggling with the idea of taking a semester off, I encourage you to look at your life and ask yourself what you think you can realistically handle. Don’t compare yourself to other students, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to stick with your original plans. In the end, it’s about crossing that finish line; and no awards are given for being the fastest in this marathon.

A Welcome Little Break

August 6, 2012
Favorite Illustration

Story of my life.

Do you ever feel like sometimes you’re doing a little too much?  So much has happened in the past few months that I have welcomed this little four week break from classes with open arms.  In the year of 2012, there has been a whirlwind of changes for me…and the year isn’t even over yet.  I started my IMC coursework in January and started a new job in March.  In the midst of my summer courses, I’ve taken two vacations.  One was to celebrate my wedding anniversary in Vegas and the other was my family vacation to the Bahamas.  And then, during my last week of classes when my final paper is due…we move into a new house.  As I said before, this break couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’ve been able to work on getting the house together and learning my way around a suburb of Atlanta that is foreign to me.

During my time off from class, it’s been an adjustment coming home from work and not needing to read a few chapters or log on to read discussions.  I just keep reminding myself, ‘Don’t get used to it.  School starts again soon.’  Luckily, I have a constant reminder since this past weekend I went school shopping for the kids.  They go back to school one week before I do.

Since we’ve moved, my commute to work is now about 15-20 minutes longer.  Which means, I’ll be getting home 15-20 minutes later from work.  I’m so anxious for the Fall session to start so I can figure out another adjustment to my already settled daily routine of balancing home and work.

In one of those random moments, my son said to me the other day, “Mom, you do a lot.”  Without even asking him to clarify what he meant by that, I already knew what he was talking about.  At the end of the day, I just hope he is able to look back at this chapter of our lives with me trying to balance it all, and see that pursuit of higher education is valuable no matter how old you are.

Do you feel like you’re doing a lot?  How do you balance work, home and school?

Challenging Yourself

July 18, 2012

Sure, sometimes it’s tempting to choose an easy class for a semester, cut back on after-work commitments, or even, take it easy on the weekends. We’ve all been in a situation where we know we could have challenged ourselves more, whether it be at work, school or home. This summer, I learned that challenging myself is a great way to increase confidence while improving skills during my time on the tennis court.

This past winter, playing in two tennis leagues for the summer of 2012 seemed like a great idea! Fast forward to the middle of June when I was driving to out of town matches  straight from work and arriving home at 11:30 p.m. sweaty and exhausted twice a week. I kept myself motivated thinking how much fun the sport is and how much better I would be by participating in two leagues, especially after tough losses. After all, one of the leagues was for more advanced players and I was playing the highest ranked position, #1 singles.

In the advanced league, I only won two matches, but truly, I couldn’t be prouder. Winning the last match, against an opponent I lost to earlier in the season confirmed my belief that by playing people better than me, my skills would improve.

I’ve learned that graduate school, especially the IMC Program, holds these same principles. Before starting my first class in May 2010, I didn’t have the skills or knowledge I have now.  I hadn’t written an APA paper in quite sometime and online school was new to me. What pushed me were professors, my desire to do well on papers and the resources we’re given on a weekly basis. I also believe that in any commitment, having the motivation of peers can make the situation better!

Now, don’t get me wrong, my summer hasn’t been all about tennis. In fact, I’ve been spending some time doing awesome things in addition to working full-time. This past weekend, my favorite author, Meg Cabot visited Ohio courtesy of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Me and Meg Cabot

I also joined a new committee through my local young professionals organization, ystark!.

The marketing committee after a meeting last month

Tell me what challenges you to become better at work, school or other endeavors?

Summertime Makes Me Feel Fine

July 15, 2012

Every year around this time I look forward to having a family vacation that involves fun in the sun, sand between my toes, and listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves live and in person. Last year, my husband and I decided to take the kids on a cruise to the Bahamas and visit the amazing Atlantis resort. Mind you, this was before I decided to enroll in the IMC program.

As the summer crept upon us, I honestly started to feel a little anxious about taking a summer vacation while being in full fledged “school mode”. Knowing that the purpose of the vacation was to relax and unwind, in the back of my mind I was feeling quite hesitant about how I was going to be able to keep up with my assignments while being on a weeks vacation in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. However, I’m happy to say…it all worked out.

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With two kids, one portable DVD player and snacks in tow, my husband and I drove seven hours from Atlanta to Port Canaveral, where we embarked our ship and set sail for the Bahamas. Prior to leaving, I looked up the cost associated with accessing Wi-Fi and made sure my iPad was fully charged. I found a quiet space on the ship and wrote out my assignment before typing it on the online Blackboard to avoid wasting valuable internet time…that we were paying for. Every second counted.

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After I completed my assignment, it was back to what we came for – quality family time. If you’ve never been to Atlantis, add it to your list of places to see. From the aquarium to the waterparks, the entire experience is AMAZING.

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So if you want to plan a vacation or getaway while you’re in the program, do it. Just be prepared by making arrangements to either complete your assignments while on vacation, or chat with your professor about how to submit assignments during personal or work travel. You can still have a life while in grad school. You just have to prioritize and plan for it.

~Rukiya

Celebrate…no matter where you are!

May 21, 2012

I’m one week into my summer break from classes and I’m having a blast!

I remember saying last year that once summer began, I didn’t realize how much time I spent on schoolwork! That same thought has been in my head each night for the past week! Schoolwork and the IMC Program has simply become part of my life, so when I spent two weeknights playing tennis instead of writing discussion board posts, it felt quite odd! One downfall of summer break? I can’t use the excuse “I have schoolwork to do” when I don’t want to do something! Ha!

Someone recently reminded me about the importance of celebrating your accomplishments no matter how small, and for all of us, we’re achieving great things by being a part of the IMC Program. Taking a short break is just one way to celebrate where we’re all headed and what we’ve achieved so far!

Stopping in the moment to appreciate what you have or where you’re about to go is something I don’t do enough.

No matter if you’re a prospective student, someone in the middle of their studies (like me!), or an IMC graduate – we’ve all taken a major step to better ourselves, and that is certainly worth celebrating!

It’s Great to Have Options!

March 22, 2012

I can see this tree from my window while I'm working on schoolwork. The newly added buds make me smile!

Spring has sprung here in North Canton, Ohio, and when the weather gets nice, I seem to have a lot more energy!

A few weeks back, while wrapping up my Week 9 final project for Direct Marketing, I completed a lot of tasks at work, helped coordinate a networking event for my local young professionals group, ystark!, attended a jewelry party, and played some tennis. During the winter, all these activities (even the fun ones!) might have been struggle.

During this past week, I debated on what courses to take for Fall 2012. It was a hard decision, but I decided on Social Media and Marketing and Political Marketing. With just three courses left before Campaigns, I’m feeling the urge to make wise choices with my schedule.

Just like last year, I am taking the summer off from the virtual classroom and spending time volunteering, working, and playing.

Taking the summer off means enjoying the outdoors. I can't wait to see these flowers bloom!

Isn’t it great to have options both inside the classroom and out? With the IMC Program, I can choose which electives best fit my interests and choose a schedule that works for me. What could be better? What are some of the electives that you look forward to taking?