I spent the weekend in Athens, Georgia – my old grad school stomping grounds. Athens will always be a groovy little town. Somehow, five years passed since my last visit, so it was good to be back. And that’s the inspiration for this week’s Tuesday post.
When I think of Athens, I’m thankful for…
1. UGA. You should’ve seen the way I flipped out when I got the acceptance letter from my graduate school program. I had wanted to study at Georgia since high school. And today, I am a proud Bulldog!
2. Wonderful friends I made during grad school. It’s like I always say: when I move to a new town, if there are good people there, I somehow find them and wind up becoming friends with them.
3. Springtime in Georgia. One songwriter said spring nights in Georgia are softer than a whisper. I can’t explain how, but that characterization is exactly right.
4. Georgia Bulldogs football. The Dawgs are my favorite sports team, and they were kind of enough to win the conference championship for me while I was living in Athens. Most every year, though, they have a tendency to do things like this:
5. Watkinsville. A little town of about 3,000 people located next door to Athens. It’s the kind of place I have in mind when I say I was born to live out where the green grass grows. There’s just something about being surrounded by land and sky instead of concrete and buildings. (But without having to drive more than a short distance to access the city scene.)
6. Cuban salsa. One of the greatest thrills life has to offer is learning to dance salsa – specifically, Cuban salsa. I was introduced to the Cuban style by a group of people in Athens. Of all the salsa styles being danced around the world, I’ve never seen anything that makes me geek out like Cuban salsa!
7. Lessons learned: Before moving to a new place, always make a list of churches to check out so you can “hit the ground running” as soon as your first Sunday in town rolls around. Also, stay connected to the special folks you left behind, but push forward to forge new relationships in your new town. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck dwelling on what you’ve lost.
8. Grogus. You’ve never seen anything like this Athens band. I can’t use words to fully describe the music, but Grogus plays jazz and salsa accentuated with reggae, hip-hop, and Afro-Cuban styles. And let me tell you – people always get up and dance at a Grogus show. When these guys are booked at a venue that has no dance floor, the venue clears out part of the seating to create a dance floor.
9. My first taste of exploring. Before Athens, I had always lived within an hour of my family and had no concept of how mind opening it is to explore new territory. These days, I love the affect of braving new places and new experiences.
10. Kids. I was pursuing a degree in counseling and worked as an intern in mental health with children and adolescents. My role was to co-facilitate therapeutic group work with kids who had some sort of diagnosis, usually an attention problem. Those kiddos caused a lot of laughter and also stress for me. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.