Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

“What It Means To: Have a Brother For a Best Friend!”

Welcome back, Sit, Stay, & Blog supporters!  For those of you who are new, welcome to my blog page.  I hope you gain as much enjoyment reading this post as I have had writing it!

Story Time:

Many years ago, my parents decided to sit my sister and I down to tell us every “baby” of the family’s nightmare….you’re getting a sibling!  My sister was ecstatic.  I was devastated.  What the heck did I want with another sibling?  It wasn’t until my mom let me in on a little secret that I finally began to gain some excitement toward our changing family dynamics.  She told me I was getting a brother, but it was our pinky swear promise not to tell anyone.  My nine-year-old self was elated!  My thoughts:  “Mom told me a pinky swear secret?  She’s awesome!”  Now, fast forward a few months.  I knew my mom had gone to the hospital in the morning before school, and when I got off the school bus in the afternoon, the first words I shouted to my sister and cousin were, “Did she blow?”  I guess my younger self had no other logical way to ask whether or not my brother had arrived, but to answer the question as my nine-year-old self, yes, she did blow!

So we met at the hospital, and the years following were pretty typical.  I got to watch him learn to sit up, play, say his first word, formulate his first sentence (“I see the moon, and the moon sees me”), take his first steps, smash his hands into his first birthday cake, and the list goes on.  As he got older, the competitive cheerleader in me took over, and we played cheerleader.  I taught him how to do gymnastics, and my sister and I threw him up in stunts (Our parents never approved of this, but what the heck did we care?  It was fun!).  We had great times together, but let me make this clear…growing up, we hated each other.  Now, I hate the word “hate,” but boy did we really, really dislike one another!  We fought with each other constantly (seriously constantly), while he and my sister were the best of friends.


When my sister went to college, I think he realized for the first time in his whole five years of his life that he was stuck with me, and I was stuck with him.   That’s where our story of love and friendship truly begins.  We watched movies, played games, had heart-to-heart talks, learned about each other, and watched each other grow.  I helped him with his homework and taught him how to stand up to bullies.  We took car rides together when I started driving, and we laughed and sang.  One night we sang so much, and he stopped and said, “Wow, you’re really good.  You should go on American Idol!”  He boosted my self-confidence and is the reason I have no fear singing in front of people today (My sincere apologies to those whose ears may now suffer if he lied, and I am truly terrible!).

Soon enough, it was my turn to go away to college.  After the bond that we had formed, I was devastated, but he visited me often and made more friends in my college residence halls than I did!  When I introduced Alex (whom I had met at college) to my family, it was my brother who had the final say.  Even at 11 years old, he saw it as his brotherly duty to protect his adult sisters!   Flash forward to the present, and both my sister and brother are my best friends.  We are geographically distanced from one another now, but we always find a way to reconnect.  My brother continues to visit, although I’m convinced now he does so to hang out with Alex and Pinella! 😉

Truth be told, he is one remarkable kid.  He’s kind to others, stands up to bullies (I’m still proud of him for that), is aware of his values, respects his elders, always makes time for his sisters, and is the most amazing, versatile (yet accident prone) athlete I’ve ever encountered.  He makes me proud each and every day.


He’s the friend my nine-year-old self never knew I needed or wanted.  Because of him, I’ve learned the definition of true friendship.  I’ve learned that, through thick and thin, my brother, sister, and I will always be “the three best friends that anyone could have.”  Finally, I must admit, our parents were right when they would say, “Your siblings are your best friends.”   I may have hated the thought of a brother 15 years ago, but I am certainly thankful for him today!   Love you, BK!

Our mom always cries looking at this picture.  Go ahead now, mom, just cry! 🙂

Don’t forget to “Like” and “Follow” Sit, Stay, and Blog on Facebook and Twitter!  As always, thank you for taking precious time out of your day to support SS&B!  For all of you dog lovers out there, stay tuned for a tail-wagging good read in my next post —  “What It Means To:  Have a Spoiled  Loved Dog!”


Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

“What It Means To: Be a Graduate Student”

Hello, all!  Welcome back to another Sit, Stay, & Blog post!

If you are a new reader or just haven’t yet figured out my posting schedule, I ideally like to make a blog post weekly.  However, it could not be any more ironic that this post is “late” for the very same reason I’m writing it — GRAD STUDENT LIFE!

I want to start off by saying that, while being a graduate student can entail a whirlwind of emotions and experiences, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have led me to where I am today! 🙂

“But you’re just a graduate student!  How hard can it be?”

Have you ever heard a statement similar to this?  Perhaps you are a secretary or a sales associate, and someone has said to you, “How hard can it really be to work as a secretary?” or “You’re just a sales associate, dealing with customers can’t be that hard!”  Maybe you are even a high school student and continuously hear, “You’re only in high school, how hard can your life be?”  Here’s the thing:  It IS hard work.  We all have unique experiences and accompanying challenges, and it is the right of the individual to determine just how difficult their job is, be it as a volunteer, student, part-time worker, full-time employee, or perhaps as a stay-at-home parent!

So what does it mean to be “just” a graduate student?  For starters, it means never leaving work.  The weekend arrives, but that does not erase your 10-page paper deadline for Saturday at 11:59 p.m.  It means experiencing total exhaustion after a night of class but somehow still finding the motivation to read your textbook materials at midnight for the next day’s classes.  It can mean factoring into one’s schedule the hours of time spent on the road commuting to and from classes — precious time which cannot be used to finish assignments, read textbooks, work a part-time job, or “catch up” on sleep.

Here’s another interesting point:  Many graduate students I know, including myself, are forced to work multiple jobs (often in addition to an internship).  That means bouncing from one task to the next with little time to engage in self-care.  Words cannot describe how dangerous this can be for the mental health of students, but we do it for one reason….because we have to.  The cost of graduate school is astronomical, and unlike when one is an undergraduate student, the federal government does not offer grants to graduate students.  Society’s future doctors, nurse practitioners, licensed professional counselors and social workers, etc. are often forced to pay for graduate school solely with loans whose interest rates I’ve seen as high as 15 percent!  In a sense, the cost of schooling and accompanying loan interest rates are sadly designed to financially set people back before they even have a chance to get ahead!  Thus, the need to work multiple jobs emanates from a need to survive, pay for gas to get to and from school, for course textbooks, to eat, keep a roof over their heads (and the list goes on).

I have had many people challenge me about my decision to attend graduate school by making statements such as, “You don’t need an advanced college degree, just get out and get a job instead of digging your debt hole deeper.”  These kinds of statements deeply sadden me, and here’s why:  I would not trade my experiences in graduate school for anything….not even less debt.   I recognize that it is an intense time commitment and whirlwind of emotions, but it has undoubtedly molded me into who I am today (and who I will become).  It has provided me with unimaginable experiences including an invitation to present research at a national conference, opportunities to meet and network with resourceful colleagues in my cohort, and being blessed with professors who are supportive and committed to providing their students with a quality education.  To me, it is less about the money and more about the experience, and I am forever grateful for everything I have experienced thus far as a graduate student….and, yes, even those dreaded 3:00 a.m. study sessions! 🙂

I owe a world of thank yous to my family who supports me in every aspect possible, to Alex and Pinella for their patience with my often hectic schedule, and to my professors who continuously support and inspire me!

I thank you for the precious time that YOU took to read about my experiences as a full-time student!  I am so appreciative of my readers and thoroughly enjoy reading your comments and feedback to my posts!
Don’t forget to “Like” Sit, Stay, & Blog on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!   Click the “Follow” button in the lower right-hand corner of the Sit, Stay, & Blog page and enter your email address to receive updates every time I post! 🙂

As Thanksgiving grows nearer, I want to take the opportunity to blog about things that I am thankful for, beginning with family.  Next week’s post will feature my little brother!  Stay tuned for, “What It Means To:  Have a Brother for a Best Friend!”


Posted in Running, Wagging Through Life Blogs

“What It Means To: Run a 5K!”

Welcome back!  If you’re a new reader, I would like to welcome you and thank you for checking out Sit, Stay, & Blog!

At the beginning of this year, my good friend, Cara, and I established a goal of running a marathon together (someday).  Lacking the initiative to begin training, we set out to run 5Ks  and ran our first one together in June of 2017.  Having been my first official 5K, I was a little unsure of what to expect and whether or not my body could actually physically handle it!  To say it was a successful load of fun would truly be an understatement.  In fact, it was such a success and so rewarding that I decided to embark on another 5K last weekend!

Here’s what I have noticed about running 5Ks:
The environment is unlike any other.  You arrive with both so much excitement and apprehension.  If you’re like me, you ignore the suggestion to arrive two hours early and get there with little time to spare before your run wave.  You’re frantically looking for the check-in tent and observing others doing the same.  This is when it gets interesting.  As the race time nears, you begin to notice that you are among hundreds of other individuals who share the same goal:  finish this race!  For some, it’s their first race.  For others, they’ve lost count.  As you begin running, you realize that for the duration of this run, you are experiencing something that has become so lost in today’s society.  You become surrounded by hundreds of strangers who are so supportive of YOU.  A runner yells behind you “Good job, girl!” or “We can do this, let’s go!”  When was the last time you felt truly supported by the stranger walking next to you in the grocery store?  The driver beside you on the road?  A co-worker at work?  That’s what is so amazing about running a 5K.  You get to experience what should be occurring in everyday society:  Support.

As if communal support isn’t enough to get you up and running, would a truly judgment-free zone get you motivated?  Many of us have experienced what it’s like to step into a gym and feel like all eyes are on you.  Gyms claim they’re judgment free, yet you can’t help but feel as if the person across from you lifting a 75-pound bar is judging you for your eight-pound dumbbells.  Here’s where my love for 5Ks is introduced.  When I’m running and need a five-second break, I don’t feel as if the runners behind me are judging me for my inability to push through.  I don’t feel like all eyes are beaming on me or that every step I take is being judged or ridiculed by a passerby who has clearly trained more effectively than I have.  Instead, I hear, “You’re doing great!”

The bottom line here is that 5K participants all have their individual goals:  to run nonstop for 20 minutes, finish the race in 35 minutes, beat an old finishing time.  The concern when you’re running is not what other people are doing, it’s about what you’re doing and how you can support others who embarked on this 3.1 mile journey with you!  When you cross the finish line, you’re overwhelmed with a flood of adrenaline and gratitude for your ability to physically participate in such an amazing experience, and you silently acknowledge those who can’t.  You look around at all the participants with their well-deserved medals and beam with pride.  It doesn’t matter whether you walked or ran across that finish line, all that matters is that YOU did it!

I truly hope you enjoyed reading this snapshot of my experiences running 5Ks.  If you’ve ever contemplated running a 5K or if it’s on your bucket list, I say go for it!  Nobody defines whether you run or walk, your finishing time, etc.  The joy is, YOU decide.  Go accomplish that goal, and do it for YOU!

Thank you so much for reading and  for your continued support!  Stay tuned for the second blog post in Sit, Stay, & Blog’s service dog training series, “What It Means To:  Train a Service Dog (Going Into Public)!” Please feel free to leave me comments or suggestions for future posts, and don’t forget to like/follow Sit, Stay, & Blog on Facebook and Twitter!  🙂


Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

“What It Means To: Come Back From Vacation!”

Hello, all!  Welcome back to Sit, Stay, & Blog!  With fall upon us and most of our summer trips behind us, what could be more fitting than a post about what it truly means to come back from a vacation?

Three weeks ago today, Alex and I were sitting, butts in the beach chair, toes in the sand, and eyes fixated on the ocean that spanned for miles.  As we embarked on our trip, we committed to no computers, very limited email communication, and text messages back and forth just to get hour-by-hour updates and pictures of little Pinella (thanks mom and dad!).  So what?

After a few days away from the hustle and bustle of every day life as students and full-time workers, we realized a few things:

1.  We slept better.  We fell asleep easier and woke up earlier without a fuss (that says A LOT for me).
2.  No headaches.  You know that subtle, yet annoying head pain that can last for what seems like forever when you have a full schedule?   We thought about nothing, we had no deadlines… we had no headaches!  Nothing!
3.  Time went slower.  When we got back, we noticed everyone asking, “Did the week fly by?”.  Actually, no, it went slower!  We focused on the minute-by-minute and were not guided by stressful deadlines that needed to be met.
4.  We relaxed.  We really relaxed!  We cleared our minds, eliminated distractions, and enjoyed nature for what it’s worth — smelling the salty air and feeling the warmth of the ocean at our feet.
5.  We smiled.  We laughed so hard we cried, we smiled until our cheeks hurt!

By now you’re either wishing to be at the beach or asking yourself, “What does all of this have to do with coming back from vacation?” After a week of self-care and genuine relaxation, we were unprepared for the sudden, unremarkable flood of responsibilities…the renters insurance notification hanging on the door, books to order for class that started in two days, stress from student loans, the worriment of new deadlines to meet with the upcoming semester, and not to mention the literal headaches that occurred the first week back.

There’s a lesson here:  As a society, we value work before anything else (before family, our pets, traveling, meeting and talking to friends both new and old).  While we all enjoy accomplishing a work-related goal, it is of equal importance to take care of oneself before, during, and after vacation.  That is, get a full night’s sleep, clear your head, relax, smile daily, hug a dog more and your phone less, and do not forget to love, care, and support one another! 🙂

Thank you for revisiting my blog, and do not forget to follow Sit, Stay, & Blog on Twitter and Facebook!  If you are a new reader, I would like to welcome you and thank you for your time.  Your support is forever appreciated!

Watch out for my next blog post:  “What It Means To:  Train a Service Dog (Part I).”



Posted in Wagging Through Life Blogs

“What It Means To: Start a Blog”

Hello, all!  Welcome to my blog page, “Sit, Stay, and Blog!”  I am thrilled that you took precious time out of your day to explore my site and (hopefully) read my first official blog post!  If the word “blog” is new to you, then let me explain:  With technological advancements all around us, blogging was created as a way for individuals to have a virtual space to express themselves, educate others on topics they’re passionate about, and the list goes on.  Essentially, a blog is a website in which authors publish content daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. and can encompass a variety of topics depending on the author’s personal style and intention of their site.

I hope by this point you’ve begun to think, “Why was ‘Sit, Stay,  and Blog’ created?”.  Well, story time:  I’ve always had a passion for writing, and I aspire to one day publish a children’s book (or two, we’ll see).  I learned about the concept of blogging about two years ago and have had the goal of creating my own blog site ever since.  By starting a blog, I knew it would undoubtedly produce an online space for me to document my thoughts, experiences, life’s adventures, and passions with interested readers.   You see, amidst vacations, summer sporting events, and whatever other summery things we do these days, I was creating, editing, and perfecting this blog site over and over and over again…and, after a two-year goal, I’ve finally published my first blog post!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my first blog post as much as I have enjoyed creating it for you!  As I continue on this journey, I strive to create content that is meaningful to both myself and my readers, so please feel free to submit comments, questions, and/or suggestions by visiting the “Content” page.  Also feel free to visit, like, and follow “Sit, Stay, and Blog” on Facebook and Twitter!  While you’re at it, don’t forget to hit the “follow” button in the lower right-hand corner and provide your email address to receive notifications whenever a new blog post is published! 🙂

Thank you for reading and for your future support!  Get ready to sit, stay, and read my next blog post, “What It Means To:  Come Back From Vacation!”