Taken from today’s USA Today College article:

How not to be the ugly American student when you study abroad
By Katie Mussman

So you’re going on a field study or study abroad? Congratulations!

You’re in for a treat, but don’t be saying bon voyage too quickly. While educational trips abroad can be very culturally enriching, there are several steps that a student must take to ensure smooth and safe travel while representing their universities.

A lot of students think about seeing the Mona Lisa or drinking a beer legally. What most students do not think about as they move in and out of the United States is that they are representing their university and their country as a whole. It is important to make a good impression on everybody and crucial to make smart decisions, from obtaining traveling documents early to respecting cultural norms and laws.

The most important part of preparing to leave on your study abroad is…[read more]


Enter to win an Apple iPad2!

There’s still time to enter the Study Mississippi Study Abroad Student Photo Contest! The deadline has been extended to November 6, 2012!

Mississippi institutions value education abroad. The newly established StudyMississippi Consortium is introducing the “Study Abroad Photo Contest” to recognize and appreciate students in the state of Mississippi for their international experiences whilst on a Mississippi Institution study abroad program or whilst independently traveling outside of the United States and international students studying in Mississippi institutions.
This award will recognize students for their exceptional experiences abroad, which they will showcase through photography. Upload your photo to the StudyMississippi Student Photo Contest Flickr group by October 30, 2011.The ‘Study Abroad Photo Contest’ winner will be announced at the culmination of International Education Week 2011 on November. 17; they will also be recognized at a public ceremony, and will receive an Apple iPad2.
What are the eligibility criteria?
  • Students entering the contest must be enrolled in a Mississippi school, college or university.
  • Students should submit photos taken abroad while attending a Mississippi school, college or university’s study abroad program or while independently traveling or living outside of the United States.
  • International students can submit a photo that best portrays student life or cultural experiences during their studies in a Mississippi school, college or university.
  • Entries must be an original work taken by the individual submitting the photo
  • Entries must include the student’s name, the university where they are enrolled, title of the photo, country/location of where the photo was taken and specify if it was during a Mississippi institution study abroad program.
  • Entries containing illegal substance abuse may not be accepted and all entries must be appropriate for viewers of all ages.
  • Images cannot be digitally enhanced or altered in any way.
What is the process of entering the ‘StudyMississippi Student Photo Contest’?
  • Each student can submit a maximum 3 photos. Select photos you think best represents your experience studying abroad. Or one that you feel portrays the ultimate cultural experience abroad – feel free to be creative!
  • Upload your photo to the ‘StudyMississippi Student Photo Contest’ Flickr group by October 30, 2011.
  • You must join Flickr to add your entry to the group, and be sure to include the following information within the title/description:
  • Title of photo
  • Where/when was it taken?
  • Your name and home institution
  • Feel free to explain briefly why you selected the photo
  • Please email a copy of your submission to jessica.lamb@usm.edu with “StudyMississippi Photo Contest” as the subject.
How is the winner selected?
The contest winner will be selected through an online public vote. Voting will be open between November 1-14, 2011
Contact Information: For questions or troubleshooting contact Jessica Lamb at jessica.lamb@usm.edu.
StudyMississippi Consortium
Where Learning And Hospitality Meet!


The above information was copied from the StudyMS facebook page.

Cake disasters a plenty…

Ok, at no time have I ever claimed to be a professional cake decorator.  I’m a Buddy wanna be, and I can make some awesome cakes, but when I screw up, man do I screw up.  
Example, I’m making a wedding cake for Saturday.  It’s consists of 4″ tall, 16″ squared, 12″ squared, and a 6″ tall 8″ squared cake.  It’s enough to feed 300-400 people, but only 65 people will be attending the wedding (at best).
The bride’s aunt waited until last Tuesday to find a cake decorator and my sister volunteered me and I’m a sucker to help people in a pinch so I agreed (against my better judgement).  
So the first three 8″ layers were no problem.  Then last night, I baked up the first of two, 12″ cakes, and when I went to flip the cake over on the make shift cooling racks, which my sister and I had famously decided to tie together with bread ties, we forgot to put all four hands on the cake and when I flipped, half the cake hit the table and floor.  
At that point, I reached over and grabbed my glass of ever so red wine, said cheers and chugged.  Then I proceeded to clean up the mess and give the cake to my Daddy.  Samson, my chichi, took care of what was on the floor (and dug himself into insanity all night).
My sister and I just looked at each other and I calmly walked over and started mixing up another batch for the oven.
Now, on any other night (or day), if that would’ve happened, I would’ve cussed like a sailor and made sure everyone heard me, but I realized, nope it’s just a cake, I can make another one, lesson learned.  I didn’t use the make shift cooling racks, I used my cake board, which is what I should’ve done in the first place, but naw, so I had no one to blame but myself.
With that confessed, I’m more determined than ever to make this cake the prettiest wedding cake ever seen by man, we’ll that’s the motivation, the reality is, it’s a cake and something else is bound to go wrong, cross your fingers, toes, say a prayer, meditate for me, what ever your poison is, I just need the 2 16″ layers to come out of the oven without a hitch and for them to icing up perfectly, and for the cake to not fall apart before the cake is cut.
I should be very nervous and worried, it’s someone’s wedding cake after all, but nope, I’m viewing it as just another cake, and hopefully that will keep me from panicing and doing the ‘holy crap, i’m doing a wedding cake, what if I….”, which I do with other people’s cakes.
I’ll post a picture when it is set-up tomorrow afternoon, and would be happy to have lots of praise from all of my followers, just to make me feel good about it, ’cause Lord knows I’ve worked my butt off already and am making absolutely no money off of this deal, just doing a good deed.
And with that said, my sister reminded me last night, as I was discussing the above, a closed hand can not receive anything, but an open hand receives abundantly, so I guess you could say my hand and heart were definitely opened when I heard the story and took on this cake.
May God bless the bride and groom, and may they have a wonderful life together.
In Christ,

What happens on the mat, stays on the mat…

And I was going to leave last night’s yoga session on the mat, but after thinking about it, I’ve decided to share.

The class was small, 3 of us, plus Tammy.  Before she made it in the door 2 of us unloaded our issues on her.  Let me stop here and say, God gave Tammy broad shoulders to help carry others loads.  Then as we settled on the mat, Tammy read us a piece on ‘tears’.  Nothing mind boggling, just tears, then the next thing I hear is a sniffle.  Then, I hear it again, and I realize it’s me this time sniffling.  She finished her reading, then we began our practice on the mat.

The practice for me last night was very challenging, for some reason after that reading, I lost my concentration and reason for being in the class.  I fell twice on the same pose, something I’ve never done, but I got back up and continued on – unhurt.

I continued to struggle through the poses, and had a clenched jaw the entire time, unless Tammy was reminding me to relax.

Tammy slipped one in on us, a three legged chaturanga.  I have no upper body strength, and Tammy had my back, right leg, making me keep it strong, then she said “now lower down to three legged chaturanga”.  I laughed out loud I think, and tried to slowly lower my body to the mat, but in the end I just flopped down, shaking.  Tammy definitely enjoyed herself too much, smile.

Then came savasana, my body LOVES savasana time, but my mind HATES it!  I can’t “just be” in the moment and not think of anything.  Remember, my mind is a wondering-june bug.  As I lay there, I started to cry, again.  Dam* I was one big emotional body just laying there not able to control anything.  Not in control of anything!!!!!!!!  At that moment I realized, I wasn’t made to control everything, just what is within me.  It’s God’s job to control everything, and I’m to take care of me, and be there for those around me, but I can’t control anything anyone does, other than me.  I’M NOT IN CONTROL of other people and their decisions (nor the results of their decisions)….

So as I left The Yoga Room, I cried all the way home.  Now I realize this wasn’t safe, especially for someone with night blindness, but God was merciful and saw the cleansing going on and allowed me to make it home safely.

The Yoga Room, for me, has become a place where I can go and not be judged for my past, my present, and my future mistakes.  No one is out to get me there, as they are there for their own healing.

I’m slowly regaining Melissa back, as I slowly learn the lessons the mat has for me.  Let me stop here and add, the mat is the only place I stop and actually listen to my body, to God, as I spend the rest of my time taking care of everyone else and not taking care of me, so it seems natural to me that God would meet me in a place where I’m trying to learn to ‘silence’ the mind.

I’m starting to feel like there is another chapter waiting to be written in my life.  One with less heartache, less pain, and with more blessings from God.

This, as I stand on the mat and wait for God….


Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”

II Chronicles 20:17 “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.”

Yoga resumes…

My yoga practice has resumed, thank you God!  My first evening back at The Yoga Room was exhilarating.  I sweat like I was in a hot yoga class, my body shook when holding poses longer than a few breathes and I was consistently reminded to ‘breath’.  I was also reminded that breathing keeps me present, in the room, on the mat, and doesn’t allow my mind to wonder, as my mind is a wondering june bug when I do anything that involves ‘silence’ on my part.
I know the definition of a guru, and I know the fundamentals of having one – I’ve read all the books and while I view Tammy as ‘my guru’ I only practice the physical fundamentals of yoga. And while others may have problems with my way of practicing yoga, Tammy seems to be fine with it and that makes me a follower of hers.
Tammy is a very calm, very reassuring person.  With her background in medicine,  she is very aware of injuries and how they effect different people; therefore, if she knows your history, she will taylor the class to help with your aliments.
Yesterday evening, I was lucky.  I happened into a class of only 4 other students, which meant Tammy could taylor and spend extra time with us as we needed.  When class started, she was pleasantly surprised, I think, to find that I had not forgotten what she had taught me months and months ago.  She helped correct a few poses and when we started on the neck, she was there like a guru should be with her pupil.  She fixed my back shoulder blades, helped me get the arch up in my back (which I am currently unable to do due to a pinched neve back there), and reminded me to lift my chin and push down btwn my ears.  Ahhhh, sweet release!  
As I was leaving, Tammy smiled and said “Epsom salt”.  Hmmm, I knew what that meant, without a doubt – I’d be sore in the morning.  I thanked her and started home.  All the way there, I could feel my body starting its ‘engine’.  What had been lying dormant was waking up!  By the time I arrived home, I was ready to run a marathon (my dream anyway!).  I fed me, fed the dogs, and jumped in the bath with eucalyptus and sea salt, and enjoyed the feeling.
Bed time, bed time for me isn’t easy. I take a handful of prescription meds and still find it hard to sleep and once I get there, if I’m awaken, I’m awake for a few hours, at least.
My poor, poor Maebelle (my 4 year old chihuahua, who takes bladder meds 2x day), she tried for what seemed like forever to get me up with whining, nudging.  I could hear and feel her but it all seemed like a dream and I was going with it, then, BAM, right in the mouth, something wet and fast!  Maebelle, she was licking me!  She had to go out and I wasn’t waking up, so she resorted to the lick factor.  IT WORKED!  I sat up in bed and looked over at her and if dogs could cross their legs, hers would’ve been crossed.  I grabbed her and rushed out the door, afraid she’d stop and tee tee if her feet ever hit the floor.  She was sooo happy, her eyes stopped watering…lol.  I put her back in the bed and thought, well I’m up until 2 or 3.  I tucked her back in, pulled the cover over me, adjusted my pillow and sighed, that was the last thing I remembered until I was awaken by the family.  I’d slept through my alarm!  AHHHHHHHH, not good.
As I started to get up, I fully expected to be so sore that I’d have to call in late.  But wait, I stretched, and yes, soreness was there, but not painful.  I stood up, walked around the bed, and nothing but soreness.  Woohoo!  I fed the chickens, fed the dogs, got my gym bag ready, filled up my water bottle, and out the door I went.  Fully expecting at any minute for there to be a catch in the neck, back, somewhere, but nothing.
I went to see my chiropractor, Dr. H., this was the real test, but everything was right were he’d left it Monday.  I wanted to do a glory jig!
My body still feels like it’s on a high, but a natural high.  Today is walk day, tomorrow is yoga day, I don’t know how long my body will let me stay in this routine, but I’ll stay until I can’t stay any longer.
God has a way of putting people in our paths to help us get well.  If only we could see that!  Thank you God for Tammy and Dr. H!