Hello Thirty!

12 02 2011

Of all the things that happened in the last year, one of the highlights was that I turned 30.  I feel much wiser and more seasoned than I did 10 years ago, but although I still feel 20 at heart, my body and mind constantly remind me of how I need to act my age.  For instance, I thought it would be fun to slide on a patch of ice that formed between my house and the house next door (20-year-old brain thinking here).  As I skidded across the ice, it was a matter of seconds before my world was literally upside down, or at least sideways.  Before I knew it, my legs left from beneath me and I was on the ground..BOOM…like a fat kid learning how to ice skate for the first time.  I winced, then laughed, then shook it off and got up.  I’m pretty sure I undid yesterday’s chiropractic adjustment and knocked myself right back out of alignment.  Shameful.

What’s even more shameful is the disdain I sometimes have for those younger than me, like I’d never been that age before. Today I watched the Justin Bieber movie “Never Say Never” (I sure did) and I rolled my eyes and laughed at these giddy young girls, screaming and crying and professing their undying love for the young Biebs.  Did I act like that when I was that age?  I mean, New Kids on the Block are different, right?  What are these girls thinking?

Is this what getting old feels like?  If an age barrier between young and old exists, I think I’ve officially transversed it.

the journey begins

19 04 2010

I’m super competitive by nature, sometimes to the point of ridiculous. Honestly, I don’t care how I stack up against anyone else – I’ll always have my unique way of thinking and seeing the world that others won’t always understand or care for.  Such is life.  The odd thing is that my competitive nature has nothing to do with being better than anyone else.  It’s all about me (that should be my theme for 2010).  What can I do to always be my best? That is the question that’s always on my mind and it compels me to move forth on my newest journey – competing in my first triathlon.

Swim. Bike. Run. Hmm…I’ve done all three before, but never at one time.  Wonder how that’s going to work out. I couldn’t find a reason NOT to compete, so here I am, training for my first race (Breezy Point Triathlon) in June.  I’m not looking to win, or to even place for that matter.  This first race will be all about finishing (and the medal and t-shirt I get for playing.  I also like my figure in my tri suit, but that’s for another post.)  Future races will focus on speed and performance and how I can outdo myself for the next time.

So how did I get here?  There are many factors, but the simple explanation is I needed a giant kick in the pants to lose some unnecessary weight I’ve been carrying since my 1st year of college.  I think to myself, “If I can run 3 miles in this amount of time with all this booty and leg fat, then imagine how fast I’d be 15 pounds lighter!” As silly as it sounds, that is extremely encouraging for me.  My goals for this year are sprint triathlon, century ride, 1/2 marathon, bodybuilding competition, and maxing my fitness test.  Achievable, right?  YES!

There are many experiences that lead me to this journey and this path.  My main motivation is the desire to live until I’m 101 years old.  Seriously!  I plan to lead an active lifestyle until the day I die. I definitely don’t intend to be wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden in my old age – you might as well just put me out of my misery. Honestly, I’ve seen too many unhealthy lifestyles for my own good.  There’s a point when you take a look around and say enough is enough and I reached that point. I’m disgusted at our society’s views of health, nutrition, and fitness.  I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the ailments we see today are the result of poor diets, lifestyles, and lack of caring for our bodies in very basic ways. You can draw your own conclusions but mine are based on my own life experiences.

Your future is within your hands – it’s your world.  Forget what everyone else is saying!  I truly believe we each have so much power and potential for great and awesome things, but we often fail to capitalize on our own abilities.  We participate in negative self-talk and divisive behaviors, harboring negative attitudes that keep us in our current situations.  The first step on any journey is a positive mindset for the future.  Along those same lines, many take a healthy body for granted.  We complain about this ailment, make excuses for why we can’t exercise, and so on. Stop making excuses, stop complaining, and pick yourself up and go.  There’s a difference between pain and injury, and a little pain never killed anyone (that I can think of).  I often look at people with limited mobility and think about how much we take simple things like running or walking for granted.  How much do they wish they had a first or second chance to run or dance?

For me, it’s all about leading by healthy example – an example I want to set for my family and those around me.  I cannot make any claims of being super athletic, because I’m definitely not.  Instead, I am confident in my ability to pursue what I want in life, whether it’s fitness, career success, happiness, etc.  If I want to compete in a triathlon, I’m competing and nothing (and nobody) will stop me.  That is the attitude I carry with me and it’s extremely empowering.

So whether your journey is physical, mental, spiritual, or professional, you are the creator and you must find the strength to begin that journey.  Reduce and eliminate barriers to your own success and rid yourself of the negative influences in your life. Your happiness and your life depend on it!

moving day

22 03 2010

I HATE moving – HATE, HATE, HATE.  I love seeing new places and I embrace the adventure that comes with each move I’ve made and the friendships I’ve formed.  Honestly, I’m just exhausted and I’m way too young to be feeling this way.  The mental strain of creating checklists, disconnecting and packing this, forwarding and sorting that…do you get the picture?

This current move marks number eight since 2002, with six of those being long-distance moves.  Those don’t include the moves I made in my youth when my parents were in the military.  (Geez, I’m not even 30 yet!)  Can I settle down for once? Maybe actually have a real job or a house where I don’t have boxes still packed from two moves ago?  Friends that actually know where I live this time around?

I left Utah in 2005 but some of my closest friends still thought I lived there two years later.  By that time, I had already lived in two more places.  I was only in the favorite place I ever lived (Washington State) for less than 12 months (boo!).  Craziness and chaos have been constants in my life but I’ve welcomed each move as a new and exciting opportunity.  Somehow, I’ve adapted to the changes and grown each time in a different way.  I embody chaos and the unknown, but what it comes down to is that the process of moving stinks and I’m so over it!

holy *insert holiday name here*!

15 02 2010

There are an abundance of holidays and celebrations we celebrate in the world each year, fused by centuries of traditions and beliefs.  I love the concept of holidays and festivities, times where we can join in revelry and celebrate life.  Holidays however have taken the wrong direction thanks to consumerist interests.  As a wannabe minimalist (I’m not always successful), it annoys me that we shroud our celebrations in tacky gifts and soppy cards you find in many retail stores.  Wake up and smell the corporate greed!

To elaborate a little further, let’s take a look at a little holiday we just celebrated, Valentine’s Day.  Back in the day, we used to make or buy cards and take them to school, dropping them  into each other’s fancifully decorated bags and shoeboxes, covered in cutout pink and red hearts and glitter.  We would become sugared-up on heart-shaped cookies and candies with cute sayings.  As we grew older, us girls would swoon over crushes and the possibilities of receiving a Valentine’s rose and card from them.  It was just a cute holiday that made us feel young and playful.  As young women, we dreamed of that romantic Valentine’s moment where someone we cared about would court us with romantic dinners and luxurious gifts and flowers.  I know that wasn’t too long ago for me (ladies, I know you’re with me on this!).

As my youth escapes me, I reflect back on all this and laugh.  Is it that I’m that much wiser?  Or just jaded?  I jest, but something has happened in between that time that transformed the way I think.  I guess you can call it growing up.  I enjoyed a really nice Valentine’s dinner with friends last night that reminded me about the fundamental meaning of celebrations.  There were no expectations or judgment, just good times.  This further reaffirms how I’ve come to despise some of the “traditions” we’ve created.  It’s not that I’m jaded or anything, but corporate interests hijacked what I see as celebrations of life and happiness and transformed them into another excuse to buy things and spend money in ways we don’t need.  What ever happened to just celebrating life without all the bells and whistles?  And why do we succumb to corporately-defined “meanings” of life?

Personally, my favorite holidays are the ones where you get out in the street and live and celebrate existence in the world, no gifts involved.  I’ve conversed with friends about Mardi Gras.  Some like myself absolutely love it and love New Orleans, while others can’t stand the smell of Bourbon Street at any time of the year. There’s something quaint, eclectic, and mystical about that city and any celebration tied to it. I had the fortune to visit New Orleans several times and some of the best moments of my life occurred there.  And no, it wasn’t because it involved gift-giving or hideous souvenirs.  It was because I got to experience LIFE!

As children, it’s fun to get gifts.  Certain holidays are specifically marketed with kids in mind and I’m okay with that for the most part (in moderation anyways).  This introduces our kids to the celebrations that define us.  And who doesn’t love to watch the eyes of any child light up?  But as adults, we need look at life a little more critically.  Ask yourself this – what means the most to you, things or relationships? (If your answer is things, you can stop reading here!)

Personally, I plan to start celebrating the changing of the seasons along with other excuses to enjoy life and the company of others.  It’s an excuse to live free and be happy.  The point I make is that holidays aren’t about the gifts or the money we spend, they’re about the people we love and meet and our worlds.  Will you join me and resist convention?

Winter Driving While Preserving Your Sanity

31 01 2010

Check out my article on winter driving at http://www.copiamagazine.com/feature/cmfeaturewinterdriving.html.

Hope for Haiti?

22 01 2010

I read the estimate and my jaw dropped.  “How can that be?”, I ask myself as I continually try to understand why things like this happen.  I am a firm believer in the natural balance of the universe and that everything happens for a reason, yet I cannot reconcile in my mind why devastating events such as the Haiti earthquake occur, hitting what is considered one of the most devastated, poverty-stricken nations in the world.  Last I heard, the estimated death toll was almost a quarter million people – that’s equal to everyone in my hometown being killed simultaneously and it’s just absolutely mind-blowing.

Human nature shows us that people want to help in a way that is more direct and relevant than just donating money.  Let’s be honest – even when you donate to an organization, you cannot see where that money goes or what the direct impact is for such a contribution (with that being said, I am NOT discouraging anyone from donating money – please donate if you are so compelled). We are a generation of doers.  We have talents and abilities to directly effect change, yet we are reduced to “helpless” bystanders in a time where it is just unfeasible for everyone to have a direct helping hand.

For a small island nation with limited capabilities and resources, Haiti just cannot support the outpouring of generosity in the form of tangible donations such as clothing and  food from individuals.  While the need for medical staff and supplies and basic humanitarian aid is high, having too many untrained/unskilled people present can become more of a liability if not properly managed.  In times like this, the best way to help is through donations to reputable charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross, Wyclef’s Yéle Haiti, Hope for Haiti Now, and so on.

I have no doubt that a time will come when we as general world citizens can step in and directly contribute in ways that are more tangible and hands on.  All you have to do is reflect back on history to see the pattern.  Remember World War II and the subsequent founding of the nation of Israel?  The Cuban Revolution and the migration of Cuban refuges to Miami and South Florida?  The Vietnam War and the influx of Southeast Asian refuges to surrounding nations and the Western US?  Sudan and the Lost Boys being placed in homes and communities across the US?  Hurricane Katrina and the black American diaspora it created?  What I illustrate here is the fact that major events in world history create demographic shifts in our populations that reshape the composition of US and world societies.  What I foresee with the Haitian crisis is the evacuation and displacement of tens of thousands of Haitian refuges to communities throughout the world, particularly the US, based on its proximity.

In the US, there will be a time when our communities will be charged with opening doors to their homes, churches, schools, and community centers.  We will ask our society to support the expatriation of Haitian refugees.  In times such as these, Americans generally come together and show what a remarkable nation we are.  It will take many years, millions of dollars, and continued presence to rebuild Haiti.  In the meantime, there will be an opportunity for those of us with a desire to actually do something more to make a difference in the lives of those affected by this tragedy.  For now, be patient and steadfast.  If you are moved to donate monetarily, then do so.  But keep in mind that in the coming weeks and months, attention to this crisis will wane but the need for continued support will still exist.  This, my friends, will be the time to step up and fill in that gap.

Let us continue to pray for the lives of those lost in or displaced by this tragedy and for the speedy recovery of this nation.


8 01 2010

2010 is a time for new beginnings, for hope and prosperity to reign.  Despite the challenges that lie ahead, this will be a great year.  I say that because I know it in my heart to be true.  I honestly don’t know what lies ahead for me in 2010.  I stop working full-time, although I’m unsure of how long that will last.  This will give me much-needed downtime to take care of setting up a new household and refocus on family and the things I am most passionate about (reading, writing, traveling, living).  Unfortunately I will be bringing home very limited income, and I don’t know how I feel about that just yet.  As with all things in my life the past several years, this will all work itself out.

Three years ago I was essentially laid off from a job I thought was secure until retirement.  I experienced a series of mixed emotions – excitement at the thought of personal freedom, anger that my hard work was repaid with a slap in the face, anxiety for what was ahead, and sadness for the life I was leaving, just to name a few.  I left not having a clear path or knowing what would happen next.

I must say that intuition (along with a little hard work) goes a long way.  Things have fallen into place like pieces of a puzzle, though the journey hasn’t been easy. Waiting tables put me in my place.  I realized how terrible I was at it and I also gained an appreciation for that line of work.  Life presents challenges and it’s often like a game of chess – what’s your next move?  That decision triggers a course of action that affects everything else in your life.

I got a lesson in risk-taking and how tough decisions get made, even when other people think you’re crazy.  I can’t say quitting a job without another job is exactly the logical solution, but it was the right choice for me at the time (based on a gut feeling).  Luckily that decision worked out in my favor, but not without a hard-learned life lesson that things don’t always work out according to plan, or at least what I think the plan should be.

The advice I offer is that regardless of your situation, you are still in control.  Things may seem desperate at times.  I never imagined I’d be where I am today after my experience.  What you can control is how you respond to the situation.  You can give up and delve into a world of negativity, blame, and self-loathing, or you can step back, evaluate the situation, and figure out what your next move will be.  Take the downtime to figure out what you want for your life.  Take classes, explore your interests, travel, work aggressively to pay off your debt, whatever!  And please make sure you give back to those who helped during that time, no matter how big or small your contribution is.  It may not happen right away, but remember this down the road when you’re better off than you were.

When I hear of tough situations from others, what I offer is solutions or advice to last through the long-term.  Nothing happens immediately.  You may have to invest time or money upfront to get where you need to be.  But the payoff will happen and that will be your reward.  Just give it some time.  I truly believe that good things come to those who stay positive, hard-charging, and true to themselves while maintaining their authenticity and dignity.  So to all those who may find that this message applies to them, good luck and keep your eyes on the prize.