beka stays : january recap

Usually, I stand at the brink of a new month and think, “Where did the last one GO? How is it a new month already?!” But today, looking into February and evaluating January, I don’t feel like that at all. January didn’t fly by, nor did it crawl, it just was. It felt happily full, steady. It felt like a month living by the mantra of “staying.”

Maybe this is working!

Here’s a recap of the 2012 Staying Goals and how they fared this month:


DEFINITION: to be in constant relationship with Christ; to live a life which bears evidence of that relationship

2012 GOAL: complete Project 345, keep a one verse/one gratitude daily journal, memorize Galatians 5

PROGRESS: Oh my goodness. If anything has been a positive change for me, it’s this time that I spend with the Lord every morning. I look forward to it every day! I love the flexibility that Project 345 allows, love Tony Dungy’s daily challenge devotional, love focusing on one verse and one gratitude a day, love praying confidently and specifically. This is the one change that makes all of the other changes possible.



DEFINITION: to love the friends and family who make my life so rich; to make people a priority

2012 GOAL: make one meaningful connection per week with a friend or family member

PROGRESS: Um…I need to refurbish this goal. Who knew I was not as much of a hermit as I thought?



DEFINITION: to eat thoughtfully prepared (or purchased) food enthusiastically; to expand my culinary skills beyond brownies

2012 GOAL: make one new dinner recipe (from the millions of magazines or billions of blogs I subscribe to) per week

PROGRESS: I love this goal. I love making a conscious effort to have a real meal for dinner. I love this one best: Salsa Chicken.



DEFINITION: to make the most of the healthy body I’ve been given; to run a lot of miles, do a lot of yoga, lift something heavy every now and again, and make every effort to be active as opposed to inactive

2012 GOAL: run 1000 miles

PROGRESS: I’m behind on this goal due to a minor setback. I ran 50 miles this month. I need to run 83 per month to be on pace. But I already made up for 10 of the miles I missed, so I’m hoping to keep chipping away at the deficit and start getting ahead over the next few months.



DEFINITION: to use the gifts I’ve been given to see the world in a unique way; to appreciate beauty everywhere

2012 GOAL: take one new (legit) picture per week

PROGRESS: This one makes me happy. I’m having fun taking pictures that I love. Favorite so far: Crepes and Bacon.



DEFINITION: to love people, especially those who need love most

2012 GOAL: volunteer one day per month

PROGRESS: This one is almost ready to be a reality! I’m in the final stages of application/orientation for the Better Day Buddies program at Strong and can’t wait to get started!!! In the meantime I’ve been enjoying spreading as many random acts of kindness around the greater Rochester area as possible.



DEFINITION: to use my brain

2012 GOAL: read one book per month

PROGRESS: I love being held accountable for reading actual literature (i.e. not blogs and/or magazines and/or cookbooks) regularly. The library is my BFF. And so is this book, which couldn’t have given 2012 a more apt start.


[in rochester]

DEFINITION: to make the most of the city I live in by exploring new places and frequenting well-loved ones

2012 GOAL: visit one new place in Rochester per month

PROGRESS: Done! The Gate House was the newbie of the month…and Aladdin’s, Finger Lakes Coffee, Simply Crepes, and Wegmans saw plenty of me, too.


[out of rochester]

DEFINITION: to scratch the travel itch, expand my perspective, and regularly recharge by getting away

2012 GOAL: travel outside of the greater Rochester area and, if at all possible, the state of New York, once per season

PROGRESS: I was all I <3 NY this month. No worries…a trip is in sight for February!



DEFINITION: to enjoy life, warts and all

2012 GOAL: not to get so caught up in goals and plans that I forget to enjoy laughable life moments, football and snow, coffee and chocolate, Gilmore Girls and magazines, candles and Pinterest, stumbles, falls, and a boatload of other things that make life so much fun

PROGRESS: This is the easy one. See: here. And here. And here.


favorite post: being an exclamation point

favorite good thing: milk & honey chocolate banana granola

favorite pin:

dream big

pinned here via here

favorite verse: Here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” John 5:39-40 (MSG).

So, that’s January! A wonderful month by all accounts. What a nice start to 2012.

How about you guys? How would you rate January 2012 in your book?


beka stays : ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(For all of you fancy RSS and email subscribers, this post will only make sense if you visit the actual blog site. I encourage you to relocate there promptly. Ready…go!)

Public Service Announcement #1: I gave the blog a new coat of paint this morning! It may seem contradictory to the cause of staying consistent…but read on! There’s a revelation tucked into this post!

So, backstory which is not actually exciting or informative but which I will tell you all about anyways: I never really loved my old theme. I didn’t love the lack of sidebars which caused all of the menus and links to get shoved to the bottom. I didn’t love that EVERYTHING WAS IN CAPS because I’m more of a lowercase personality. And I really, oh so really, didn’t love the font. It pained me. (It’s nothing personal, old theme. Just irreconcilable differences.)

I decided to stick with the theme though because hey, that’s what I’m trying to do in life right now. So why not stick with a blog design? Why not be consistent in one thing in an effort to be consistent in all things? Am I right?! Am I right?!?!?!


Because sticking with something you don’t like just to stick with it even though there are better options that you actually do like is just stupid.

[Aside: That may be the biggest lesson I’ve learned from this whole staying endeavor thus far. It has major implications for other areas of life that are much weightier than blog design. (Thank you, Lauren, for helping this epiphany come to fruition over granola bars and brussels sprouts!) But deciding that it’s ok to not stay after you’ve made the commitment to stay is challenging. It’s like being on a diet and switching to maintenance: it’s hard to convince yourself that it’s ok to have a brownie after you’ve been eating asparagus for 3 weeks. Does that make sense? I wasn’t intending on this tangent…but it’s TRUE! Oh, so true.]

SO…with that in mind, I decided to make the change!

And I’m so glad I did.


(I’m glad I’m really driving home the evidence that clearly, I’m a lowercase personality.)

Mini tour:

  • I had to keep the smore’s header. It’s like my thesis statement for life.
  • I also wanted to keep the light blue background. It just looked so wintery and clean and I just loved it…but now with added texture and layers I love it even more! Be on the lookout for the colors to change seasonally. (Also love having that option.)
  • No more top line clutter! It’s simply an about page, a staying page which contains all of the top ten goals pages, and a resources page.
  • If you’ll look to your right, you’ll see SO MANY WONDERFUL THINGS! (Again with the CAPS. Maybe I was wrong about THIS.)
  1. A mini welcome center. I want you to make yourself at home!
  2. A list of all of the staying goals with links to their definitions
  3. A search bar so you can quickly find old posts
  4. Links to other places you can find me on the interwebs
  5. A cloud of frequently discussed topics (frequency indicated by size…I love it that pinterest, food, and football are the biggest ones…)
  6. Twitter feed! Love having this on the sidebar now!
  7. Follow button for Pinterest…also love having this on the sidebar!
  8. Archives organized by month
  • Then, on the bottom, is everything you need to follow along! There’s an RSS feed link and a button for email subscriptions.
  • As for the actual posts…I could not be more enamored with the new layout. Love the font, love the little quote box that shows comment counts, love the “posted in” and “tagged” list in the footer…LOVE IT ALL!

So, moral of the story: don’t stay just for the sake of staying. Lesson learned, and learned in such a pretty way! Hope you all like the new design as much as I do!

Public Service Announcement #2: For some reason the Packers loss stings much more this morning than it did last night. Perhaps it’s because I’m listening to Mike and Mike and the only thing anyone can talk about is how HORRIBLE the Packers are. Um, that wasn’t your tune a few weeks ago, folks. I understand they stunk up the field last night, but all around, this is still an exceptional team. BACK OFF THE PACK.

(I think we can conclude that in the stages of grief I’ve moved right along from denial to anger.)

Public Service Announcement #3: APPARENTLY I’M A CAPS PERSON. Who knew. Things you learn by blogging: Lesson No. 948.

beka stays in rochester : the list

My bible has become a paperwork filing system. I blame it on the free space in the bulletins for note taking (come on, I’m just following instructions!). Usually my notes pertain to the actual subject matter of the sermon, but occasionally I veer from the straight and narrow and start jotting down groceries and to-do’s and then find the lists 8 months later when my bible is so stuffed full of paper that it threatens to outweigh the Encyclopedia Britannica. Which makes cleaning it out kind of fun because I enjoy the trip down memory lane, especially when I found a goldmine like I did this weekend.

Laying silently in hiding in between Wegmans receipts and packing lists was a piece of paper torn from a notebook. I don’t think I wrote the note in church, but somehow it ended up in my bible and I’d forgotten all about it. It was from May 2010 when I first started thinking about where I wanted to go after Admissions. The title? (Because I’m that much of a freak…I title notes to myself…)

“Things I Would Love in a Future City”

And they were, in no apparent order:

  1. Ability to walk/bike/public transportation
  2. Temperate seasons
  3. Good food with lots of variety
  4. An artistic side
  5. Lots of natural beauty
  6. A good church
  7. A meaningful job
  8. Year-round produce
  9. Open air markets
  10. A great supermarket
  11. Friendly people
  12. Doable distance from home

(Let’s just sidestep the fact that a quarter of these revolve around food, and that I wanted a “good” church, but a “great” supermarket. I should be ashamed.)

I remembered the locations I had in mind when I made that list: North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, maybe even Wisconsin or Colorado or California. Never (NEVER) did I think of Rochester when making that list. It wasn’t even a consideration.

And yet, here I reside in Rochester for the indefinite future. What could possibly be seen as a boring alternative to the other places I was dreaming of is in reality the fulfillment of everything I was hoping for in a future city:

I recently biked to a friend’s house in the city and then biked to CVS on the way home. I routinely walk around the neighborhood and to all of my favorite restaurants. (1)

Far be it from me to label Rochester’s seasons as “temperate,” but I’m truly a Northern girl at heart. I love the cooler seasons most: fall will always be my favorite with winter’s white canvas as a very close second. I wouldn’t mind if spring would hurry up and get here closer to March than May, but at least I live in a place with defined seasons. I love that. (2)

There’s a Word document on my computer with over 30 restaurants I want to try…and that’s just in the city, not even counting other places I’d like to visit in surrounding cities. Within a few blocks I have access to Mediterranean and Mexican, pizza and pasta, subs and sushi, fresh-baked bread and fresh-brewed coffee. I literally want for nothing as it pertains to the availability of favorable cuisine. (3)

I practically live right next to the Genesee Center for the Arts, where I hope to take lots of classes someday. I’m also within a mile of the George Eastman House, one of the most reputable photography museums in the world. There’s also a culture of creativity in the city, with musicians and photographers and artists of all kinds collaborating on local events, both scheduled and impromptu. (4)

A few weeks ago I ran up to the Cobb’s Hill Reservoir. I was so struck by how beautiful the loop was, especially the view of the city from so high up, and by how close such a wonderful sight was from my apartment – less than one mile. I’m also daily delighted by the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, the Canal path that lies right outside of the gym I go to, the pretty shift from summer to fall that is taking place right outside of my window. And that’s just in the immediate area, it’s not even taking into account all of the other nearby wonders, most of which I haven’t even begun to explore. (5)

I’ve said multiple times that if there were ever a church that would decide my geographic location, it would be Northgate. I’ve never loved a church so much! I’ve been going since I started working in Admissions, but I’ve never gotten involved because my feet were always on the edge of leaving, always waiting for the opportunity to bolt. Now that I’m here to stay I can’t wait to get involved and actually be part of the church community, something I’ve never really done in earnest before. (6)

When I wrote down that I wanted a meaningful job, I never would have imagined I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. I was thinking more along the lines of Guidance Counselor or Magazine Contributor or Photographer. Jobs with capital letters. I’d still love to do those things, and more, but I couldn’t be happier with my current mix of jobs. I love working at the juice bar at a yoga studio; it combines my love for health and nutrition and adds in the bonus of amazing coworkers. And I love, love, love nannying. I adore spending time with the kids (we’ll talk about this more soon in a future post) and devoting “working” hours to shaping little lives is an investment that matters to me. And of course, working as a photographer’s assistant on the weekends is a fantastic learning experience. As far as meaningful employment goes, I’ve been blessed with much more than I originally hoped for. (7)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love food, but I especially love fresh, local food. I do wish that we had more of a winter selection of local produce, but I also enjoy knowing that food around here has concrete seasons. It makes savoring every last nectarine that much more special. It makes me anticipate local apple cider and berries and squash. Sure, I could get all of those things on a regular basis from any supermarket, but waiting until they are in season is truly a gift. Everything tastes better and is appreciated more. (8)

The Rochester Public Market was voted America’s Favorite Farmer’s Market in 2010. It’s an impressive array of local EVERYTHING – produce, flowers, pasta, meat, eggs, honey, crafts, and more. And if that weren’t enough, there are so many smaller markets throughout the week, including two within a mile of my apartment and two more that I happily travel a few extra miles to attend. (9)

I live 3 miles away from the Pittsford Wegmans. Enough said. (10)

Friendly people are occasionally lacking in the North. We can blame it on the long, harsh winters, perhaps. Maybe all of the Vitamin D makes people in the South more cheery. But within my own circle? I have more wonderful friends than I can count. I’d be heartsick to leave any of them behind. It’s a rare blessing to have so many people you love be so near. (11)

I-90 and I are BFF’s. We’ve traversed more miles together than I’d like to count; the number is literally in the high thousands when considering about a dozen 400 mile round-trip excursions every year for the past 7 years. And while the sections of construction never fail and the radio stations never improve, the distance from home is just about perfect. I’m able to go home easily whenever I need/want to, and vice versa. As much as I’ve talked about moving out of state, I really don’t think I’d like being much further away than I am right now. For starters, my mom says too many funny things and I wouldn’t want to miss out on that. And my dad and I have too much fun on the water and on the road to be too far away for those things to happen. And there are still people growing up that I want to be nearby to see. With the move to the city, I’m even closer to home, so now it only takes a solid 3.5 hours on a long day to get from one place to the other. I love being able to go back and forth. (12)

So, to review, I got everything that I wanted in a future city, and so much more! On my original list I forgot to include a fantastic library system, ample opportunities for serving the community, trails/pathways for running and biking, and entertainment options, but Rochester has surprised me with all of those as well, along with an ever-increasing number of additional items.

We’ve talked about this before, the ability of God to do immeasurably more than anything we could ask for or imagine, but it’s resoundingly true in this case. I’m not just happy in Rochester. I’m content, abundantly blessed, and finally at peace with staying somewhere, which is basically a miracle. It makes me all misty-eyed, to be honest. To think that I’ve been given so much, and I almost dismissed it all just because I’m a compulsive bolter? It makes me so thankful for a sovereign God who knows me better than I know myself; for a faithful father who will put me exactly where I need to be no matter how much I kick and scream.

I love Rochester.

(Unlikely, unforeseen and undeserved.)

introduction: on staying

You might be wondering, as you ponder the title of this blog, where exactly I’m staying. Good question.

Geographically, I’m staying in Rochester. Not “just for now.” Not for 6 months until I start getting antsy and look for jobs all over the country (and when I realize there are still 3 more months of winter left). But for the foreseeable future, until God clearly moves me elsewhere. Clearly as in picks me up and puts me down in another zip code, clearly.

The In Rochester tab will hold posts about Rochester-related events and adventures. Fair warning: restaurant reviews will probably account for 90% of the subject matter. Potentially 93%. Or more.

Making the decision to stay geographically, I hope, will have a trickle down effect into other areas of commitment. After many, many, oh so many iterations, I finally landed on the six you see listed above. Having a penchant for using adjectives abundantly AND being chronically indecisive really didn’t do me any favors on this one. Here’s what made the final cut and why:

Faithful – As a person of faith, it’s important to me that I am actually faithful. This means that I don’t go to church on Sundays and call it a week or read my Bible in the morning and move on with the rest of my day. Staying faithful, for me, means being in constant relationship with Christ and living a life that bears evidence of that relationship.

Relational – The biggest lesson I learned on the roadtrip was that nouns are more important than verbs – that verbs make life full, but nouns make life rich. Staying relational means that I recognize how valuable my family and friends are and that I value them by making them a priority.

Healthy – One time I ran a half-marathon. Another time I was a vegan for a few months. Neither ended well. I love being in shape and I eating real, whole, good food, but more often than not my consistency and balance leave something to be desired. Staying healthy means that I commit to being physically active every day, to eating well, and to getting enough sleep so that all of those efforts aren’t in vain.

Committed – I debated adding this as an area of focus because really, this whole blog is about being committed. About the power of staying and following through. So why belabor the point? Well, because I need to. It’s important to me that I don’t get so wrapped up in the “fun” parts of documenting staying – things like new recipes or coffee dates or Rochester finds – that I forget about the reason for this blog in the first place. Staying committed means that I am fully present in the present – not jumping from one place or plan to the next. It also means that I give 100% of my effort and emotion 100% of the time. As discussed in a previous blog post, I’m pretty good at 99%. Staying committed means that I consistently give that extra 1%.

Creative – If any part of my life has surprised me thus far, it’s that I seem to be a creative person. I had no idea. Up until recently I thought I was pretty one-dimensional. But I love colors and design. I love making a full dinner with an empty pantry and decorating an apartment with a box of clothespins and old magazines. Staying creative means investing in the two creative areas I identify with most, writing and photography, and also means staying inspired through a variety of mediums.

Authentic – For most of this past summer I worked from 7am until 10pm. While working this insane schedule I quickly lost touch with the elements of my life that make it uniquely and happily mine – things like watching SportsCenter and reading food blogs and going for long walks around the neighborhood. Staying authentic means that I make time for the things that make me who I am.

So, whenever I write a post it will be filed under one of the aforementioned tabbed categories in addition to being posted on the main homepage. Also, at the end of every day, I’ll be posting about three daily items: the Daily Word, a Bible verse from my morning devotions; the Daily Sweat, the workout for the day; and the Daily Dish, a rundown of what was on my plate throughout the day. And last but not least, from now until November I’ll also be posting a Daily Mile roadtrip flashback link as I read through all of the roadtrip posts one year later.

Got it? I hope so! Official posting begins tomorrow!

prologue: on bolting

I used to think I was a classic Type A. I also used to think that I’d graduate from college and have a conventional life: career, marriage, offspring, suburbs. But the unexpected reality is quite the opposite. I’m 25, decidedly single, living in the city, and working as a photographer’s assistant/juice bar associate/nanny. And surprisingly, I’m happily enthralled with every unconventional inch of my crazy creative life.

But if there were one thing I would change, it would be my attention span (and, let’s face it, the fact that I start to look like a Chia Pet in the humidity). My regrettable attention span is particularly regrettable when it pertains to geographic locations, contentedness, and being committed (not as defined by mental institutions). For someone who hates change I tend to seek it out fairly frequently. I’m always on the hunt for a new job/place/plan. Even in the physical sense I’m always on the move, only staying at parties for 5 minutes longer than the socially acceptable amount of time before leaving, never making time to sit down and have a conversation on the phone with someone without simultaneously doing 8 other things.

Exactly one year ago, I left the comforts of home and all things known to drive around the country for 3 months on a cross-country roadtrip. When I left, everyone commented on how difficult it must have been to travel all that way, to be in so many different places and meet so many new people, all by myself. But the reality is that it wasn’t really that hard. There were times, of course, that were challenging. Like when I was crashing into other vehicles and pulling foreign objects out of the ground. But continually leaving? That wasn’t hard at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good at relationships and good at loving people and places and things, but I’m also good at bolting. By the end of the trip I realized this personality glitch and wrote about it, but I haven’t done much since then to work on it. It being the inclination to bolt.

Said inclination runs deep within me. It’s been my game plan for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why staying represents such a threat that I avoid it like the plague. It’s an avoidance that has caused me to travel through over 30 states in the past year. Even since I’ve come home from the roadtrip I’ve lived in four different places and had seven different jobs. Consistency, though it’s something I actively seek, doesn’t come easy for me.

So when the opportunity to have consistency arose, you’d think that I’d jump on it like a linebacker on an unprotected quarterback. Nope! I fought it with every fiber of my being. My temporary employment in Rochester was ending and I was on the lookout for a new job and a new place. In my mind I was already in North Carolina or Southeastern Pennsylvania, anywhere outside of New York, but especially outside of Rochester. Anywhere that didn’t involve staying put. (And anywhere that had a Chick-fil-A and temperate seasons, but who’s counting?)

But, like the good father he is, God chose for me what I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. He gave me everything I wanted, everything I was asking for (except for a Chick-fil-A…and temperate seasons), but precisely where I didn’t want it. I got a great job where I would have the opportunity to grow as a photographer. I got another great job where I would have the opportunity to be immersed in the world of nutrition and fitness. I got a beautiful apartment in the best part of the city. I got to be surrounded by more good friends than I deserve. But I had to stay in Rochester. That was the catch.

At first I consoled myself by thinking that it was “just for now” again. That I’d stay until I found something different.  That I’d take all of the blessings but ignore the context. But that would be like eating a handful of blueberries, a tablespoon of butter, and a spoonful of sugar and calling it a pie. The ingredients are there, but the concept is all out of whack. It’s not fulfilling it’s true potential, not nearly as good as it was intended to be.

I realized that to take advantage of all of the great things happening for me in Rochester, I had to commit to staying. In Rochester. To staying in Rochester.

(Ulcer ulcer ulcer.)

So I went to the Post Office.

I may have had a minor panic attack when the clerk asked me if my change of address was permanent. (PERMANENT?!) And I may have let out an exasperated sigh when I replied affirmatively. (PERMANENT?!) But I’m hoping that in choosing to stay in one place geographically I’ll soon choose to “stay” in other areas of my life, specifically the ones you see listed above.

In conclusion: Romans 12 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. While reading it the other day this verse stuck out to me:

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

That’s something I truly desire. And through his ways, not my own, he’s already changing the way I think about staying and leaving. So here’s to many more changes in the days to come. Here’s to staying!