The Costumes are Finished

Kroje titleI love to sew. It is therapeutic and rewarding to create something from nothing. My problem is that I always underestimate all the things that can go wrong. I ran out of lace trim and white thread, had to order fabric online and wait for its arrival, and then I got sick. These may seem like little things, but when combined with a deadline, it really puts a damper on progress.

I am happy to say that I am finally finished with the three kroje I was commissioned to make. I finished with a week to spare. Once the fabric I needed came in, I had two weeks to finish before I left on vacation and then just one day to finish the design on the vests. It was hectic!

I wanted to be completely done before I went on vacation, so I didn’t have to lug my machine to Kansas. However, their just wasn’t enough time and I had to finish the designs when I got back. Before the fabric arrived I was already done with the blouses. The vests were constructed, but needed the design and lacings. The skirts were half done and need waistbands and lace at the bottom. And I hadn’t started the aprons yet.

I was most excited and terrified to work on the vest designs. The photo was not clear, but I had a general outline of what it needed to look like. It was also exciting because I got to use some new functions on my sewing machine. It was terrifying because I had to be very precise in where everything was placed or it wouldn’t all fit. I also got to add sequencing, ribbons, and decorative stitching, some of which had to be done by hand.

The first thing I did when I got the fabric was to cut out the eyelet lace for the skirts, serge, and attach them, so the skirts would only need the lace added to the bottom. I also cut out all the pieces for the apron, making sure the pattern all faced the same direction. Once the aprons were constructed, I had to make sure they were the correct length in relation to the skirt. Then it was time to make sure everything was ironed and looked nice and crisp.

That whole process took more time than I anticipated because I had to serge and attach twice as many pieces on the skirt. Time was also affected by the fact that I had to order fabric and wait for it to arrive. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I didn’t find the right design for the apron fabric or an eyelet for the skirt. And on top of that, I was ½ a yard short on the lace trim. Luckily, I had a little leftover from the shirts, but I literally used the entire roll the store had.

vest1 vest2

I used a wax chalk to mark the placement of the designs on the vest. I then used my machine to make the zig-zag, curved lines, and embroidered hearts on each of the three vests. The next step was to hand sew on the sequence and beads. And finally, I had to add the grommets and lace up the vests. I put one of the completed projects on a mannequin to photograph and check fit and I was done.

It is freeing to be finished. These costumes had taken up over a month of every spare minute I had. There were many nights when I came home from work and started sewing and didn’t finish until after midnight, just to go to bed and do it again the next day. I really do enjoy sewing, but sometimes I need a break. I think I will read a book and get some stuff done around the house.final Back

If you missed the first part 1 about this Kroje, you can find it here. If you want to see how I made the apron, look here. And as always you can drop me a line below or on Facebook with any questions or comments.

What it’s Like to be a Czechoholic

Proud to be American-Czech!1I have a treat for you today! Our fourth installment is a guest post from my friend Carrie Brown! She has been a great help to me both while I studied and traveled abroad in the Czech Republic and home in Nebraska. She has a huge wealth of knowledge in all things Czech and is a blast to hang out and talk with! I hope you enjoy a glimpse into her incredible life and experiences!

When I sat down to write this I realized it’s been OVER AN ENTIRE DECADE since I first got involved in the Czech-Slovak pageants! That’s unbelievable! And let me tell you, a lot has happened since then. Some people say they’re chocoholics because of their love of chocolate, but I guess I could be considered a Czechoholic. Read on and you’ll clearly see why.

Similarly to the other guest writers, I grew up with knedlíky, polka, koledy, koláče, vánočky, and family pride in our Czech heritage. At the recommendation of my grandparents Jack and Rose Marie Vankat, I represented the Omaha Czech Cultural Club as Queen in 2005, 2007, and 2008, and the third time really is a charm because I was finally crowned Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska that 08-09 year. The following year I competed in the Miss Czech-Slovak US pageant and won 2nd Runner Up! What an honor it was to represent my family and further develop my own personal connection to the Czech heritage through those organizations, pageants, and events! But for this post, I’d like to focus less on my time as Queen, and more on my time spent in the Czech Republic.

“It is good and beautiful to celebrate the Czech heritage and culture our ancestors brought with them so long ago, but culture evolves. It is not frozen in time. Appreciation of the past is magnified when you see and experience the present in real life.”

My first trip to the Czech Republic was in 2008, the summer before I was due to compete in my third state pageant. My mother, aunt, and I joined the Czech heritage tour group from Doane College led by Janet Jeffries Beauvais (highly recommended!) and simply adored exploring the villages, meeting ancestors, dancing in the wine cellars and breweries, finding kroj pieces in antique shops, playing the dudy (Bohemian bagpipes) with a local legend, seeing old friends, getting lost in the winding streets of Old Town prague, and more. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was to finally be in the place I’d heard so much about. I just couldn’t get enough!Performing with 20+ bagpipers at Chodské slavnosti (I'm the farthest girl to the right)

Fast forward two years to the summer of 2010 when I (with the help of a friend) arranged to live with a family in one of the villages I’d visited on that first tour. I knew I had ancestors in the Chodsko region and that they were active musicians in the areas, so we all saw it as a perfect opportunity to share our cultures, languages, and musical interests. We had never met before, and my limited Czech and their limited English made communication interesting to say the least, but they’ve become “my Czech family” and I their “Američanka”. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world! That summer I also received a full scholarship through the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to study in an intensive, month-long Czech for Compatriots language course in Dobruška, Czech Republic (again, highly recommended!) with people from all over the world. We had class for several hours a day, seven days a week, along with excursions and presentations. And that was ALL in Czech! That summer I felt the difference between visiting a place and actually living there. I needed lots of coaxing to get in the train that would take me to the airport to fly back to Nebraska after that summer because again, I just couldn’t get enough.Practicing with my _Czech brother and sister_ for our performance at Chodské slavnosti

The whole journey back to Nebraska and for several months after that, I knew I wanted to get back to the Czech Republic as soon as possible. Long story short, after waking up at all hours of the night and looking presentable for different interviews over Skype, I ended up getting a teaching job in Prague!! I moved there in August of 2011 after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. So many people told me they wished they would have taken the chance to live abroad while they were young. I didn’t want to always wonder what it would be like, I wanted to live it. I had to seize the amazing opportunity and go for it! I told myself and others that I wanted to try it for at least one year, but ended up making Prague my home for four unforgettable years.Photo credit_ Lauren Barta. Graffiting the Lennon Wall

Like I said before, the difference between visiting and living there is vast. It’s impossible to make a list of everything I experienced in my four years there like one could for a trip. The longer I lived there, worked there, struggled and thrived there, the more I learned about myself and about modern Czech culture in general. I never quite know how to respond when people say, “So how was it?” How can I accurately convey how it felt to regularly lead a multinational congregation in song in 700+ year old St. Thomas church that was established by a king? Or to successfully set up automatic bill pay for gas and electricity entirely in Czech? (My grandma would be so proud!) Or to go to a post office daily for a week to pick up a birthday package, only to be told it got sent back? Or to be the only American playing the dudy at a festival in the square in which my ancestors surely walked hundreds of years ago? Or to be shuffled between three different foreign police offices before finding out that the papers I acquired didn’t count because they were signed in the wrong color of ink? Or sitting in the grass at my favorite park with a view of the castle with a beer in hand while my friend played the guitar? Or participating in holiday traditions with “my Czech family” such as weaving pomlázky for Easter or cleaning kapr to eat at Christmas? I could clearly go on and on! I’ve been back in Nebraska for about ten months now, but it’s still difficult to talk about all these experiences in the Czech Republic without getting emotional. I miss it every. single. day. At the same time, I know I have to be grateful for each of these memories that will last a lifetime, for the irreplaceable friendships I made, and for each of the stepping stones that made me who I am today.

The only advice I can give is this: GO. Whether it’s a trip or a move, please go. It is good and beautiful to celebrate the Czech heritage and culture our ancestors brought with them so long ago, but culture evolves. It is not frozen in time. Appreciation of the past is magnified when you see and experience the present in real life. Participating in Czech clubs, events, and the pageants in Nebraska further sparked my interest in all things Czech that my family had established long ago. My first trip to Czech Republic, living there for a summer, and ultimately moving there were a culmination of the passion I’ve had for over a decade. If you are able, I urge you to go experience it for yourself. Don’t let years pass by full of wonder and miss your chance to visit the fairytale Czech Republic. It’s as lovely as the national anthem so poetically describes. For me, one thing is certain. I’ll never sing Kde domov můj? (Where is my home?) the same way again.

 

If you missed the last three guest posts you can find them here:

Let me know what you think of Carrie’s post below or on Facebook! And have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

From Iowa to the Czech Republic and Beyond

Waters Headshot1This is week three in my guest posts series and I am so excited to share a post from my friend Janna. She is eccentric, a great listener, and works like the energizer bunny! For her talent at nationals, Janna gave a puppet show completely in Czech! It was definitely one of the coolest talents I have ever seen! I hope you enjoy hearing about all the cool things she is doing!

I was so honored and excited when Danielle asked me to write a guest post for “My Czech List”. As we here in Iowa get ready for Houby Days, and the 15th Annual Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Pageant this weekend, it seems like the perfect time to reach out to all of you. I care to wager that most of you, the readers, are probably unfamiliar with who I am – so without further ado, please allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Janna Waters. I was the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Queen of 2014-2015. I am originally from Marshalltown, Iowa, and graduated with my Bachelor’s in International Studies: Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies from the University of Iowa in 2013. During my time at Iowa, I participated in 4 study abroad programs that spanned 5 countries: Russia (twice), Italy, Estonia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. I was a student of Czech language, literature and culture for 3 years, and also founded The Czech Connection – a university student organization.

Ever since I was a little girl, my dream has been to earn my PhD and teach History at the university level (ballerina and professional basketball player also topped the list, but this seemed to be the most plausible). After my graduation in 2013, it took me a couple of years to find the right program for me. In the meantime, I became a non-degree seeking graduate student at the University of Iowa and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures Department. I also worked full-time as an assistant store manager at a retail store; all while keeping up with my queenly duties and events (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I have 2 speeds: “0” and “100,” and not much in between!).

To say that my year as Iowa’s Queen was nothing but magical would be a complete understatement. It changed my life, pure and simple. The people I met, the Midwestern communities that welcomed me in as one of their own, and the sisterhood that I formed with past, present and future queens will remain with me for the rest of my life. Our Czech and Slovak culture is truly special and completely unique; it is our privilege and duty to preserve it for future generations.

During my last few months as Iowa Queen, I was admitted into Russian and East European Studies Master’s programs at three universities: The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, and The University of Texas at Austin. After many hours of research and campus visits, I decided to make Ann Arbor my new home. Michigan’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREES) is one of the best, most respected programs of its kind in the US, and I knew it was where I was meant to be. On my very first visit to Ann Arbor, the program director asked, “Aren’t you Janna, the Czech Queen of Iowa?!” and that has been my identifier ever since…even when I meet important scholars! My focus in the program is on Imperial Russian History, and History of the Czech lands under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I am the only Czech and Slovak specialist in my cohort; something that I take a lot of pride in. The University of Michigan has been very good to me, and I have loved my time in Ann Arbor so far. In Fall 2015, I was hired as a Graduate Student Instructor in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department for the upper-level undergraduate course “The Czech New Wave and Its Legacy.” Fate always has a funny way of working out, and as luck would have it, my course supervisor was also the supervisor of my mentor from Iowa during her time at UMich in the early 1980s. During the Winter term (which is the equivalent of a “Spring” term at almost any other college/university) I was hired to work with the course “Central European Cinema,” and we watched a number of films from the previous semester. As a terminal Master’s student, our funding is not guaranteed, and GSIships are not promised to us. I have been exorbitantly fortunate for the opportunities that have been presented to me, and the amazing faculty that I get to work with every day. In Fall 2016, I will start another GSIship with the Screen Arts & Cultures Department teaching a mid-level “What is Film?” course. My teaching resume is becoming ridiculous!

Our program highly encourages us to work on our language skills and/or research for our thesis over the summer break. At U-M, we begin classes the day after Labor Day, we only get a 2 week winter break, our Winter exams are over by the end of April, which frees up 4 months of summer for us! As I have noted above, I rarely take the “easy” way out in any situation, and my summer plans are no different this year. After spending many hours on funding applications and research proposals, the academic gods smiled on me. I am the recipient of a Foreign Language/Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship through the federal government; I will be spending 7 weeks in Prague (beginning in June) studying Czech language at Charles University once again. When my time is up in the City of A Thousand Spires, I am off to Bratislava to begin my internship with the Bratislava City Gallery. I will spend 2 weeks there, and in mid-August I will travel to Náměšť nad Oslavou (near Brno) for a Moravian Folk Music Master Class. During the Winter term I took a course called “Czech Poetry Through Song”. As the only non-vocal performing student, I worked on researching lesser known composers and poets, as well as folklore, language and history; my time at the Master Class will be spent similarly. We’ll be living and working in a 17th century castle, so life could be a lot worse. When that week is up, I will travel back to Bratislava and resume working at the Gallery for another 2 weeks before flying back to Detroit on September 1st – Fall term begins on Sept. 6th.

In addition to my FLAS fellowship, I also received 4 other forms of research funding from various institutes and centers at the University of Michigan, such as the International Institute, the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, Rackham Graduate School, CREES and the Slavic Dept. I am completely humbled, yet proud, to announce that I am FULLY FUNDED for my 3 months of work in Europe!! I received the most summer funding out of anyone in my cohort (but, I am also doing more work in comparison). My research project is entitled, “Folklore through Sculpture, Print and Song in Moravia and Slovakia,” and I will be working on small parts of it in Prague, with the majority being conducted at the Gallery and Master Class. I plan to dedicate a section of my thesis to this project; as of right now, my Master’s thesis will look at folklore representations during the Czech and Slovak national revivals.

So, I guess the big question is, did my reign as Queen influence my future scholarship and career? I would say “yes” and “no”. Before my coronation, I had planned on studying Russian and Czech history in graduate school, and making that my life’s work. I will say that my time as Queen heavily influenced my thesis topic, and preliminary research trips for it.

I wish I had been given some glimpse into just how drastically my life would change as the Iowa Queen before I was crowned. This opportunity was an important stepping stone on my life path; while I cannot compete again due to my age, I still stay very active in the Cedar Rapids Czech community and with the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Pageant. My intuition tells me that I have not yet ridden out all of the ripples that the Miss Czech-Slovak Organization created in my life, and it makes me excited about the future of our culture.

 

As always, if you have questions, comments, thoughts of any kind, please leave them below or on the facebook page! If you want to read either of the previous guest posts, you can meet Michaela here and Meagan here!

Choosing your Kroje and Success at Nationals

Meagan0I have another amazing post in store for you today as we continue week two of guest posts from the Czech community. Miss Meagan Kurmel is the current Miss Czech-Slovak US! She is from Omaha, Nebraska where she and her fiance are engineers and travel most weekends as ambassadors to the Czech and Slovak communities. In the following post, Meagan talks about how kroje impacted her journey to and success at Nationals. She also gives some fun tips to anyone looking to compete in the pageants. Here we go!

While I was preparing for the Nebraska and then national pageant, I was constantly centering myself on encouraging involvement in the culture and preserving the heritage. However, I wanted to ensure that I was being genuine to myself and was portraying myself as I am. Since the pageant topics are very encompassing, I found it was easiest for me to digest them in smaller pieces.

After accepting the honor of representing the Omaha chapter, I sat down with my family to discuss the pageant. We had a pretty good idea of where our ancestry was from. There were also some kroj that we had that were authentic in my family. After long talks, my family and I decided together that going authentic was the best route for me. However, when I ran for Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska there was a rule stating that you could not wear more than one authentic piece. So we recreated one of the kroj and wore the vest as the authentic piece, in addition to authentic jewelry.

I have found that choosing Authentic or Americanized kroj is a deeply personal choice. Whichever is chosen, I would suggest to link it to you, your family, and your heritage. Making this choice sooner in the preparation for the pageant gives you and your family more time to research, design, make, and prepare your kroj. And trust me, more time is better! Another item I have found with kroj is that you need to make it your own. You should wear your kroj proudly and it should represent you, your family and where your family is from. Don’t forget the little details that bring your personality into it. For me this is totally about the shoes! See below for my description that I used:

Meagan is wearing an authentic kroj replicating her grandmother Helen Janicek-Kurmel’s kroj. This dates back to the early 20th century from the Piestany region of Slovakia. Meagan’s great-grandfather Frank Janicek emigrated from this region in the early 1900’s. The Piestany region is known for highly skilled silversmiths. Their craftsmanship is reflected in the silver embellishments seen throughout the kroj.

 Meagan’s blouse and cap are replicas of her grandmother’s. They are of fine cotton and decorated with yellow and orange cutwork embroidery, incorporating metallic threads in a floral design. The vest is of floral brocade and trimmed with ribbons and features three silver clasps, silver wire, and ten silver buttons. These clasps are traditionally on a black, blue or green bodice where the metal craftsmanship can be seen.

 Meagan is wearing her grandma Helen’s skirt. The full skirt is a two piece skirt-set made with black cotton fabric and smocked around the waist. Each is trimmed with embroidery in ivory, yellow and peach. You can see the many small stitches creating the raised designs. The skirt is trimmed with an ivory bobbin lace.

 This is completed with black boots and a floral Czech ribbon tied into a bow. This is the same sash her grandmother wore with her kroj. Meagan has accessorized her kroj with garnet jewelry. Her favorite piece is the garnet bracelet from her parents. The collection of garnet pendants from various family members reminds Meagan of what she values most in life…..family, love, and kindness.

The way I see it, the personal interview and the on stage interview really go hand in hand. I felt it was important to be very familiar with the history of our culture, be current on present day events, and know some about the culture. I also felt that, since I was wearing an authentic kroj, that I was knowledgeable in what I was wearing. I made sure to research what type of kroj was worn, from what villages, and when. I also found it fun to learn the small differences that set one village’s kroj apart from another. This is such a fun and interesting way to learn about our shared heritage.

One little tip I learned from being nervous for interviews, both on and off stage, is to take a deep breath and just be you. There is nothing better you can do than be you! And maybe, crack a really good joke!

For talent, I have found that each judge is looking at your presentation from a different angle. I would suggest to do something that you feel showcases your talent. Keep it clean and streamlined. If you are going to sing, keep your whole talent presentation about your singing. Also the stage size could play into how you present your talent. This is definitely not a determining factor, just one to consider. Finally, remember to smile! This is the talent and showmanship part of the competition.

After all of the preparation and the competition, I felt that being able to represent my state and now my country as a cultural ambassador was a wonderful culmination of myself, my family and my friends’ hard work and efforts. Passing on that heritage is important to myself and my family. Preparing for the state level and national level competitions, I also discovered a connection between my heritage and my chosen career field. I’ve discovered that Czechs and Slovaks have been prominent in science and engineering. Czechs and Slovaks have pioneered medical research, created drugs and treatments for diseases like AIDS and HIV. And even invented things like soft contact lenses and sugar cubes.

One time that I will always remember is the evening right after I was crowned. In Wilber, I walked with my family into Sokol Hall. The whole hall started cheering, it felt almost as loud at Memorial Stadium. It was a very enjoyable, family-centric time and to me that is what shared heritage is all about: family.

For those individuals who are preparing for their pageant, who are excited about sharing their heritage, and who may now want to be a queen, remember that a crown and sash does not make a queen; it’s the heart inside you and the example you leave that make a queen.

I strongly encourage others to promote their heritage. If there is anyone who is interested, please feel free to reach out to me.

Meagan Kurmel
Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska 2014-2015
Miss Czech-Slovak US 2015-2016
missczechslovakus15@gmail.com
www.gofundme.com/missczskusa2015

**Photos by Mary Chavez of Mary Chavez Photography

I hope you enjoyed Miss Meagan’s perspective! If you missed last week, read about Michaela Steager’s experiences as Nebraska queen here! And as always, leave a comment below or on the facebook page! I would love to hear from you!

Future Blog Goals

logo copyLast week I gave you a preview of a few of the exciting things happening with MyCzechList! This week, as we are transitioning, I want to update you on what’s currently going on with the blog, all the crazy changes, and where I see it going in the future.

Back in February, I did a major overhaul of the blog. I renamed it, gave it a new look and logo, and refocused the content. In a nutshell, I wanted to make it more about you, the reader! I’ve been writing more about the Czech community and my experiences as a Czech queen. I’ve asked for your input and tried to let you get to know me through my Friday Follies posts. I’ve also been promoting the blog more on Facebook.

Since then I have moved to self hosting on Blue Host and started to get MyCzechList out there by educating myself on SEO, emails, and plugins. Basically, that means that I am learning about the technical aspects of blogging and how to get my knowledge out to as many people as possible. I am diligently working toward becoming known in the Czech community by promoting people in the community and publishing in the Czech Slavnosti newspaper. And finally, be on the lookout this next month for a new menu and easier navigation.

Two big goals for the future include a monthly newsletter and opt in freebie. I want to reward you for believing in me and this blog! I also want to make sure there are better photos and content. I want to start using Pinterest and other social media to get my content to have a larger reach and more involvement.

If you have something you are curious about, please let me know! I want to write posts that will inform you and you can learn from. My main goal is to help you gain the knowledge you need to delve deeper into your cultural identity and participate in the Czech community

Exciting News

slav1I have some exciting news for you! Coming in May there will be a series of guest posts from people in the Czech community. I am so happy to have them share their experiences with you and it will be fun to see another’s perspective! I will give you two hints: one is the current Nebraska Queen and the other is the current National Queen! You will just have to wait to see who else will be showing up!

Another exciting thing is that you will soon get to see more work outside of the blog. A couple weeks ago, right after I published the post about the struggles I faced as a Czech Queen I received a message from Steve Ouřecký. He wanted to know if he could print some of my posts in the Czech Slavnosti, and of course, I said yes! I even offered to start a new column for him.

If you don’t know, the Czech Slavnosti is a print newspaper for the Czech-American Communities. It started in Wilber, Nebraska as a supplement to the Wilber Republican in 2008and is now under the ownership of Mr. Ouřecký. He does an incredible job of making sure that everyone is up to date on upcoming events and important things happening both here in the states, but also in the Czech Republic.

My article for the Slavnosti will be published in the May/June edition, so be on the lookout for it! I might have to give you a little sneak peek here soon! In the meantime, Czech out some of these recent posts on the Czech community:

What are some topics that you would like to see me write about in the Slavnosti? Or even here on the blog? Let me know below or on the Facebook page!

Gratification or How Do We Choose?

“What fascinates me – and what serves as a central theme of this book – is why we make the choices we do? What separates us from the world we have and the kind of ethical universe envisioned by someone like Havel? What prompts one person to act so boldly in a moment of crisis and a second to seek shelter in the crowd? Why do some people become stronger in the face of adversity while other quickly lose heart? What separates the bully from the protector? Is it education, spiritual belief, our parents, our friends, the circumstances of our birth, traumatic events, or more likely some combination that spells the difference? More succinctly, do our hopes for the future hinge on a desirable unfolding of external events or some mysterious process within?”

from Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright

I often think about the questions Albright poses. What makes us who we are? How much do our decisions change our path? Would we still come to the same place if we had made different decisions? Have my past choices altered my life indefinitely? Do I really have complete control over the path my life takes? Or do I just control what directly affects me now on a small scale, such as the place I live or the job I have?

For most of my life I have tried desperately to control my circumstances. With much effort I achieved good grades, participated in everything, and pursued a career that I thought would be the best option economically and for my future family. I struggled to be the best, but never made the mark. We are taught that if we wait today, our gratification later will be so much more. I made every choice by this rule. I sacrificed friendships, fun, and sleep for a better life later. Now that I have finished college, I wonder when or if that gratification will come.

I do not regret how hard I worked in high school, yet none of my friendships lasted. I wonder if I should’ve tried harder to stay in touch or if they were ever more than schoolmates and acquaintances. I wonder at how different my life would’ve been if I didn’t transfer home my sophomore year and stayed in Chicago. I probably would’ve joined ROTC and studied psychology or elementary education. I didn’t feel that I had a lot of encouragement in music at Olivet.

If I had started college in Nebraska at UNL or NWU, it would’ve been easier to keep my friendships because most of my friends stayed in Lincoln, but would I have been any happier? In all honesty, I think if I knew then what I know now I would’ve taken as many classes at the community college as I could. I might not have even gone to college knowing how much debt I would be in. Then again, I may have never gotten involved in the Czech community or studied abroad.

It is amazing how one choice can change everything. I followed the yellow brick road and reached the end to find out the Emerald City was not actually as grand or as green as I was told. I could not wear the glasses and continue living in ignorance. Now, I face tough choices that could transform my life, that I am unprepared for, and do not know what or how to decide. Do you think society prepared you?

My Purpose

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/940/68002004/files/2014/12/img_0076-0.jpg Society recognizes who we are by what we have done, not by our inherent qualities, personality, or gifts. Once we graduate high school our lives are consumed by what we will study. It becomes who we are and what we are defined by. Adulthood comes with a list of skills we are not prepared for and a pile of expectations we did not foresee as students. From the moment you graduate college everyone wants to know where you are working, who you are dating, and when you will get married, quickly followed by when you’re having children. God forbid if you are not working in your degree field or if you are not following the expected path.

I am a prime example of someone who tried very hard to follow the path..I worked incredibly hard in high school to get perfect grades and be involved in everything. I got into good schools, lived away for a while, returned home, and worked diligently on my degree, all while being engaged to my high school sweetheart. I was following the path. I was doing what I thought I had to do, but I wasn’t happy and I didn’t feel successful. At 25, with years of struggling with what I have not done and expectations I have not met, I am beginning to understand that real life for most people does not follow “the path.” I am beginning to accept that I can only live up to my own expectations and not those set by society.

My purpose for writing this blog is to expose some of the flaws in “the plan” and to share my experiences. I feel that I have some fairly unique knowledge and I want to share it with you! Because of my experience studying abroad in the Czech Republic, I have friends from all over the world and a specific connection to Czech language and culture. Because I was a Czech Queen for three years and was successful, I have many contacts with Czech-Americans and local Midwest traditions. I also have an extensive knowledge of costuming and kroje, oratory skills, and talent preparation. These skills are also backed-up by my experience as a seamstress, my years of competitive speech, theatre participation, and my degree in music education. I believe that all these things plus my type A personality and close family ties allow me to write to you. I hope in some small way what I write will be a help to you.