Thursday, February 5, 2015

What I've Learned

One Year Later

One year ago I got on a white bus (the kind I’ve had a rough relationship with in the past) and drove away from my family, my friends, my life in the sunshine state. Although that time was spent in more than one place in Florida, and some of that time was spent in other countries or states, nothing compares to the change that took place or the adventure that began when I boarded that bus.

8 weeks later I was able to see my family again, and for… not the first time, but the most astounding time I realized how much I had taken for granted what my family was willing to do for me. So much had happened while I had been cut off from the world, being (not negatively) indoctrinated into the military lifestyle (you’re right folks, its not just a job!). The weekend of my graduation, my parents were there smiling and supporting and my sister took her tax return and limited time off of work to surprise me just to see me for a few hours. Throughout the 8 weeks my family, both near and far, wrote letters and supported both me and my parents. And my friends, well I cant even begin to explain how, amidst their own very busy lives, they made time to let me know I was thought of.

Then onto new training in Texas. Then another move to another training in California, and in the meantime new friends, new missions, new priorities, new responsibilities, very poor communication from me across the time zones…  and yet somehow when I went home for just 10 days after 11 months of being gone, everyone welcomed me like I had only left yesterday.

10 weddings (half of which were separate from the engagements). 9 engagements. 1 death. 2 births. 4 pregnancies. 2 cross country/ocean moves. 2 car accidents. Countless birthdays and holidays. All within 1 year from that day.  Perspective right?

Outside of the lifestyle change here’s what I have learned, or am still learning:
  1. Don’t take family for granted. No matter the distance or closeness (physically or emotionally), when it comes to major life changes your family will be there (physically or emotionally).
  2. MAKE the time for friends. You just don’t know how much they’ve done for you until you don’t get to control when you can see them.
  3. Know the difference between sincere friendships and friendships of convenience (or relationships). (I’m still working on this one.)
  4. Be confident. Even if you don’t know something, you can be confident that you don’t know it. Stand your ground. ***Disclaimer: WAY easier said than done.
  5. Be honest. Often times, we avoid situations because they may cause issues or make things more awkward. But nothing will change at all unless something is said. Same goes for positive things. TELL people how much you appreciate them! Its not expressed enough how much such a small gesture can change or effect someones day, week, month, etc! ***On that note, don't underestimate the power of your words. 
  6. Go with the flow. An oldie but a goodie. Eat, sleep, get knocked down, get back up, cry it out, run it out, talk it out, eat, sleep, fail, succeed and try, try again. Take things as they come, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other at a time, and know that as long as you are trying (and you KNOW when youre trying vs not) then you ARE enough.
  7. When I first created this blog, I just though the name was clever and intellectual. Well, turns out, I was onto something about this crazy thing called life. I have directions (orders), a compass (morals), and a few coordinates (goals) to get to, but I truly have no idea whats around the corner, or even exactly what its going to take to get there (aka, without a map).

BUT that’s just it, life is about the journey (the map), and I am making one heck of a map right now, full of mountains and rapids, sunny valleys and foggy shores.

I’m still not exactly sure where I am going, but I’ll be darned if anything gets in the way of me enjoying the ride! Cheers to the next year!

“All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage.” –Benjamin Mee

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I finally did it. I trained for, and ran a half marathon. It was my first, but it will not be my last. It was a true season of running. One that humbled me and proved that as long as I want it enough, I can do anything. 
I started a bit late, as the summer is a particularly demotivating time for me to train when it is so hot and sticky in FL, but starting with 4 miles already under my belt I trained in about 9 weeks, adding 2-1 miles on each week. I realized, after the first weekend, that if it was just going to be up to me to get myself up for a long run on my Saturday off, that I would never get it done. So, I signed up for races. Luckily timing was on my side for once and with the running season beginning there were more than enough races to choose from, the only dilemma choosing which one.
Throughout the 2 months, I became increasingly inspired by the people and organizations I met at each race, reveling in the diversity and compassion of the running community. I learned a lot about myself, as I love my sleep, but it came down to the below - I was determined to get in every last foot of every mile. 

Fernandina Beach Turtle Trot 5k and 2 mil

Labor Day 3.5mi - Same weekend as the race above, but much easier than the beach run. 

Wounded Warrior Project 8k and 2 mile run - Yay bridges! 

Financial Fitness 5k and 5 mile run - I ran in support of people I work with!

Miracle Miles 15k and 2 mile run - My dad came to cheer me on! 

Marine Corps Half Marathon - I had some amazing friends support me, and my mom surprised me and came in to town for the race, even following me around the course! 

I will tell you what, I doubted myself, and then I let a bunch of excuses get in the way. Finally I just had to do it. And I'm glad I did. I look forward to the next one.

Jaxtoberfest 5k Recovery Run - Glad to have a 'Fun' Run to recover with. 

Gator Bulldog 5k - Getting back into the swing of things. 

Along with running 3-4 times a week, I was attending Power Yoga (Baptiste style) classes 2-3 times a week. The breathing and flexibility made a huge difference in my running skill. I also got some tips from KatrinaElle regarding breathing on certain steps and I used a training plan similar to the Galloway method - rather than run/walking on a timer, I ran each mile and then took a break. 

However, I learned that I made a huge mistake by not keeping up with the strength training I had done in the spring. I was prepared for the consequences that taking the summer off of any sort of training would have on me, however what hurt me the most was not including strength training. I ended the race, luckily right along with what I had been training on because I started the race out so strongly. But by the 8th mile, my knee was hurting, and by the 9th and 10th miles, I was walking more than running. 

 I was afraid that I may have shot my knee, but as quoted before. It's not going to happen. Now I know better, and it's not a bad thing as I love squats and lifting heavy things. Bring on the rise back up! 

I hope that everyone takes on the challenge of running a distance race or taking on a competition like a bi- or triathlon, Strongman, or biking. It opened my eyes to so many opportunities and communities, and gave me a confidence I didn't know I had. So get on out there runners (and others), and take it on! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

September: 5 Things on My Mind

Oh how true this statement is. However, it's really hard to come to terms with the fact that sometimes the people in your life who you thought were strong, are in fact not. At all. And admitting that what you once thought is now wrong not only calls into question your relationship with that person (or people) but also stirs up questions about yourself, why you have neglected the obvious, what has (or hasn't) changed, and what needs to. Strength comes in many different shapes and sizes... people most associate it with holding onto things/picking them up/holding them up, but (at the risk of sounding cliche) sometimes strength is most boldly shown when things are let go of. Which brings me to my next point:


I have had some sort of self-realization over the past few weeks that some of my inner battles I have been dealing with can be directly related to my lack of confidence or faith, in myself and in with life. How do I really, truly know that what I choose to do will make me happy? I mean, you can't really know until you do it. And I've been trying and pursuing different things, some have been successful and some haven't... but so far all have taken very minor risk on my part. The higher the risk associated with making life-changing decisions (not dramatic, just the necessary) the more often I ask myself that question. Is this really the right thing? Is this really what I want, what will make me happy? I constantly weigh all the consequences and associated changes with whatever I choose to do... always worrying that they (aka, the branch) will determine my happiness level. Thus, I am seriously lacking in the confidence or belief in myself to accomplish these things... and the faith or belief that I am truly never alone and that all will work out as it should. 

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me..."

It also begs the question: am I discontent with my current position because I lack the confidence in the overall mission or in myself to enact change? I ask that same question as it pertains to how happy I might be in whatever comes next. 

It is so easy to get hyped up into an idea... how many times have you gotten excited about an idea, talked about, made plans, and then it died and you think back weeks months or even years later and wonder what happened? Did I truly lose interest? Did I just get busy with other things? I find this statement perfectly pertinent to my current training for the half marathon. I have been talking about running a half for almost 2 years. And one thing after another has come up keeping me from it. There have been many mornings where the night before I felt motivate to get up and run in the morning, where when it came to actually getting out of bed it made me more cranky than motivated. But this can also be applied to relationships, events, and even starting a new job or setting a new goal for yourself. I think an important skill to learn in your twenties is commitment. Learn to commit, and continue to give it all of you've got.

That being said...
As a recent college grad and young professional trying to figure out what do with my life... I've had a hard time knowing when to take things on, but also when to let things go - and when to just let it be. I'm not known for my patience, and the past couple of years post-college have tested that more than anything 

So my message to all twenty-somethings is slightly contradictory. Attack life, the time is now, give it all you've got, and it will give back. But also remember, that although you are busting your butt, bending over backwards, giving your blood sweat and tears to what it is you're doing - to have patience. Nothing happens over night. And it is possible to be content, and fortunate for the patience-testing time inbetween - there is opportunity to learn from that period, it is part of what will make the next adventure so much more sweeter and genuine for you. 

And speaking of blood, sweat and tears. 

All of what I have mentioned above pretty much comes down to self-discipline. You need strength and confidence to commit and be patient, which gives you self-discipline. It is a form of freedom. And though I am still trying to decide for myself whether it is possible to master my emotions, I do know it is possible to master my thoughts. 

And it takes time - heck it will take a lifetime. But in the mean time, I am learning to make it a habit to remember patience, and confidence to be strong throughout a commitment and to take time amidst the struggle to appreciate where I am - regardless of where I've been or where I'm going. There is something simply beautiful in being present in the moment, focusing on the day in front of you without the weight of past or the pressure of the future. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I miss...

So I started this blog to document my experience of traveling abroad for a semester of my university studies in Bamberg, Germany. Well, it only lasted for a couple months of the trip, but I can tell you the experience has stuck. I miss it. I miss my friends. I miss the food. The people. The cool weather. Walking everywhere. The mentality. The festivals. The views. The ability to travel so easily.

...Of course all of that came with very little responsibility attached and a very fair budget to work with.

Reality, aka, "adult life" just sucks by comparison. I hated hearing my parents say "just wait until you're in the REAL world." And you know what? I could have waited. I SHOULD have waited.

Because now, I'm not just missing Germany, but I'm missing learning. I'm missing the freedoms I had in college to just pick up and go wherever and whenever I could make it happen. I could make more choices then. Now, I have all of these decisions that I HAVE to make, but I don't want to make.

[Wow, does it sound like I'm whining yet?]

Forgive my moment of hypocrisy, but no I don't regret the choice I made to graduate early. I DO regret the choice I made to jump straight into full time work. I should have taken some more time to absorb the fact that I am an adult, to realize all of the responsibility that was about to come crashing down on me, that the university wouldn't be there to protect me from anymore. To do some more exploring - self exploring; post-grad and pre-real world.

I still probably wouldn't have figured out exactly what I want to do with my life, and working full time for almost two years now has given me an opportunity to experience a lot and to reconnect with some of the things I had forgotten I loved. But now that all of this is my life, it makes it that much harder to make a change. [I am by NO means comparing my situation to others, I am speaking only on behalf of myself.]

What is the line to determine if the choices I am making are settling/staying in my comfort zone or running away/challenging me?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Contemplative vs. Content

I've been contemplating a lot lately... for those that know me, that's pretty much just how I am. I think a lot. As the saying goes it's a curse and a blessing - it means that I am usually responsible and reliable yet at the same time it often takes the spontaneity and mystery out of life. I often complain about thinking too much and feeling the pressure of society to do more and be more, do this or do that. Yet, at the same time, I believe that I am not truly content either.

So what's the balance? To be content with the life I have now, continuously working under the pressures of this ever growing and infiltrating society? Or to do more and be more but in my own terms?

Sounds like a simple answer, right?

But like I said, I'm rather responsible... and it takes a lot for me to take a leap of faith. I guess the problem right now is that I am lacking in faith that everything will be okay if I strike out on the path less traveled. Problem is, I can't see where it will lead. And of course, you can never see exactly how things will turn out, but some paths are more shaded in the distance than others.

Right now I feel like I am walking in circles, or pacing in front of the scarecrow of the Wizard of Oz, with the Cheshire cat of Alice in Wonderland whispering in my ear twisted words of advice. The battle between being happy with what you have becoming "settling" and taking a risk that may end up losing everything you know.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


For real. That's one of my nicknames. 
I promise I'll get the hang of "First Fridays" when life doesn't always get in the way. HAHA. For the record, the First Friday of May 2013 was my sister's graduation from graduate school (the FIRST of our cousins to achieve a Master's Degree) so it was kinda a big deal. I couldn't be more proud of my sister... Who's next? Me perhaps...?
I expected this graduating class (only graduate students) to be much smaller. 

I have learned a lot this past month... not just new experiences, but was reminded about things I had forgotten about myself. I realized that I have a comfort zone in the gym. Give me a barbell and a squat rack and I get down. Am I off to become the next Sarah Robles? No, but I had forgotten how much I enjoyed weightlifting. I have been so concentrated on being healthy and making that lifestyle change to living fit that I had forgotten to just enjoy it. So that's what I started doing.

What do I have to lose right? By getting myself to the gym (way more motivating when I have a workout to look forward to) I am making gains.

I had been debating participating in a seminar with Lift Big Eat Big. I really admire this group of athletes. Despite the fact that I share a common interest with them in weightlifting, I agree with their philosophy and I really appreciate that the community they provide isn't just sharing and congratulating each other on their latest PRs, but to also support and inform a wider community on best practices in the field.
But I was way intimated to train with these guys. I'm a beginner; I lift, but I don't have a world record, I don't train consistently at a crossfit gym, etc, etc... I'd make a fool of myself. Talk about Debbie-Doubter.

So the last weekend in April, I dragged my worrisome butt out to the beach and I listened. And for the first time in a really, really long time when Sunday night came around, I realized I hadn't thought about work or personal stress or chores or any of the daily nonsense the entire weekend. And I loved every minute of it.

I hit a 125lb (each hand) max on farmer's walk. Thanks to some super helpful tips (aka NO SHOES) I managed a 225 PR on deadlift.

The Yoke was super awkward for me, I had a really hard time getting the form down and let me tell you its a killer on the spine. The LOG was my worst enemy, I couldn't get it up - I think because I was afraid of not being able to see and it falling on me. 

Stones - this shizz iz crazy. I got up to 110, I couldnt get 100, but it all depends on the width of the stone and getting it yourself set in the right position to lift it up. 

Thanks to these guys I now know I am capable of way more.

It was a great experience. I lifted more weight in two days than I ever thought I was capable of. I learned a TON about form and about mental game. Its okay if you have to think about it before you lift, but not everyone is the same - some people just attack, some people clear their minds, you just have to do whatever you have to do to get that weight up. Fear is your worst enemy when it comes to weights - they will fall at some point, its inevitable, but all that means is that you are trying. Try, try again - right? 

The rest of the past month has been a variety of madness...
My hair is getting so LONG. I don't know if it will survive the hot n humid summer.

I got to go to a live filming of WWE NXT where John Cena was making a guest appearance. I find wrestling immensely entertaining and seeing it live just doubled my fondness for it. And no, most of the guys don't look as good as Cena so that's not the reason but he certainly does make it look good.

I got to take care of this sweetheart for a few days... he really is the sweetest dog - he just has a bit of separation anxiety and as a growing puppy gets into anything and everything he can reach. 

I had some interesting interactions with birds... first these two cute ducks were takin it easy by my car at the gym one morning... then at lunch these two crows were doing the strangest thing: staring at the sky, getting all puffed up and their eyes changing color, then unpuffing, then puffing again - like a bird exorcism. Anybody know what thats about?

Every once in awhile, it's really good to be a Florida girl. 

So I will continue to make progress, both in and out of the gym. Whether I see immediate results, or it takes a little bit longer to achieve my goals, I'll be working on overcoming my fears and being more of a badass  - like this girl:

All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage 
-Benjamin Mee

1. Have you overcome any personal obstacles lately?
2. Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure like a trashy tv show or kids game?
3. Every witnessed a strange animal interaction? Anyone know what in the heck those crows were doing?