Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back in Action

Sorry to you all that check on my blog that I've been MIA for so long! For those of you that know me, know I have TERRIBLE luck with electronics, and I have been without a laptop for about a month. I will explain later. So, as to be expected, a lot has happened in the last month and a half so I won't go into a lot of detail. I'll just do a list of my life for the past month (I love lists as you can see) and will hope to be more consistent.

1) First and foremost- I have been at my job for over a month and LOVE it. Love the staff, the environment, the work I do- everything. I feel I am where I am supposed to be. And everyone smiles here, which is always a good thing. I think I have found a great fit in an environment where I can better myself professionally, learn, challenge myself, grow, and most importantly, help others.

2) I FOUND HOMES FOR ALL THE KITTENS- THANK GOODNESS!!! This was a huge weight off my shoulders, and the families that took them email me and I know they are in good homes. Layla (the mom), however, is the horniest cat EVER and tries continuously to take advantage of the stone tiger in the house and Coach purses. She is having her womanhood removed this Sat. thanks to the Meck County Animal control center- for free! What an amazing program.

3) I am doing 2 marathons within 2 weeks of one another- one up in the mountains in NC and the Indy Monumental. Should be quite the challenge. I'm sure my quads will hate me for a long time. What can I say, I am impulsive.

4) I did my first triathlon about a month ago and it went great! You can look @ the results here: It was a great learning experience- not to mention, my brother had flown in for the weekend, and it was the anniversary of Elliott's death and my aunt (one of the strongest women I know) did it with some girl friends, sporting the logo of Elliott's band on her shirt, and did AWESOME! AND, had her hip replaced less than a year ago. What an inspiration. I definitely caught the TRI bug and want to do more (and win them). My runs had some room for improvement, so I am going to try and actually train this time!

5) Brent came and visited, and we had an amazing time. We went to a concert (Old Crow Medicine show), hiked in the mountains, and he got to cheer me on in my race. I forgot how much it helps to have loved ones cheer you on in a race- sadly none of my family is close by so I never have their support! I have a feeling Brent will end up here one day.

6) Life continues to confuse me, stress me out and challenge me, but I am learning to enjoy the ride. I sometimes make questionable decisions but fortunately I have my friends and family to help keep me on the straight and narrow- but sometimes it is just so fun to go off that path :) I am such a free spirit sometime and am a little bit too fearless, but am trying to work on not being so impulsive.

7) I finished the book "In Beauty" by Zadie Smith on Saturday, recommended to me by a close friend. Awesome book about race and cultural expectations- highly recommend it.

8) I will be making 2 trips to Indy and one to Chi town for the Rock and Roll half marathon, so if you are in those areas and want to meet up, let me know!
9) After finally saving for a laptop, I bought my Macbook, which I loved! Well, I have horrible luck, and needless to say, it broke. Well, it got stepped on. Apple said it would be $800 to repair. My roomate was told of a website called that repairs Apple products for MUCH less. They mail you the box, you ship it to them, they fix it and they mail it back (in one day). The best part ? It was only $200!!! So, I finally have my computer back, and will treat this one like gold.

I think that's it for now. I'm sure I've missed things but I feel this post is boring enough as it is. I will be back soon!
Copperhead encounter # 2! Beautiful but very creepy....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peaceful, easy feeling.

Wow, how the tables have turned. I am on such a high this week, I can't even begin to explain it! I HAVE A JOB I HAVE A JOB I HAVE A JOB!!!!! It has been over a month since I had my interview, but after endless nights of praying (and pretty much every free second I had) I got the call I had been hoping for yesterday. From the 28 people they interviewed, I was offered the job!!!!! The timing couldn't be more perfect. My spa is closing on Friday, so I was facing the possibility of not having a full-time job with less than a week to go. I have learned so much about myself in this past month. When I first found out we were closing, it was fear I felt first, then a high amount of stress, then I became more rational and wrote down all of my finances to see what the bare minimum I could make to get by would be, and eventually came the feeling of peace. I had been asked by several friends, "Aren't you stressed?". And my answer was always no, surprisingly not! It was this calm feeling I had even though my life was completely up in the air, and I couldn't even tell you where I would be 2 weeks from the present. Maybe I felt so calm because of the freeing feeling of having no clue what was going on in my life? I didn't feel worried. I weighed my options, after realizing I had options, and that was the biggest lesson I have learned from all of this. Options. Options are good. When you feel like you have no control over your life, give yourself as many options as possible, even if they aren't ideal. I applied for 100's of jobs, many of which I didn't really want, but they would give me options. I researched going back to school, and confessed to family members my fears about that, and they gave me options to combat those fears. I researched the possibility of moving home, which was an option. I added up how many PRN hours I would have to pick up at my part- time job at the Keys of Carolina to pay my monthly bills, and found that to be an option. And finally, after having a few days of sleepless nights and no appetite, I felt ok. I knew I would be just fine. And whatever happened was meant to be, and I could make it work. And it was not until I reached that feeling of peace that things started coming together. I made some amazing new friends, there were some very lovely things happening in my personal life, I won an essay competition in which I wrote about the struggles I was having while quickly approaching unemployment and won a free bid into the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon, and I was offered the job I have been wanting since I graduated college! I won't become rich off of it, but I am working for the county, which allows great government benefits. I am finally IN! It is so hard to break into a job with the county, but once you are in, it opens up so many doors. I am going to gain the experience I haven't been able to for the past 3 years (I have had lots of experience, but not neccesarily in case management), and I am going to learn and grow my professional life. And I can't wait to see what the future holds! I finally feel like my life is back on track after months of struggling with the unknown. I know this feeling won't last forever, and things can go offtrack again in a heartbeat, but, this was the most I had ever struggled (even including my years in athletics!) and I know now I can handle anything life throws my way. If you keep fighting, if you keep burying your head down and getting through it, life has a funny (and oftentimes, ironic) way of working itself out. For all of you who prayed for me, sent me encouraging messages, or just provided me with a listening ear, you don't know how much I needed that support, and I hope one day, if you ever need it, I can provide the same to you.

Sunset on Lake Norman, where I get that beloved "peaceful, easy feeling".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

hope costs nothing.

"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise"
Oscar Wilde

Well, all I can say is, I sure as heck hope that's the case in this situation! Obviously it is easier to say that in retrospect, and I'm really looking forward to hopefully applying that to my current situation. Life is insanely crazy right now, but surprisingly, I feel hopeful. I honestly have no clue why. Maybe it's denial, unacceptance, or maybe I just don't care anymore? But I have a feeling it's more than that. For some reason, there is a small thread of hope that I'm clinging on to, and I feel really happy! I didn't expect to feel that way, but I'm obviously not going to deny the feeling! Sorry I've been absent for the better part of a month. It's not really because I've been busy- it's more just waiting for things to pan out and the dust to settle. Not sure that will happen though. So, instead of elaborating, here is a list.

1) Amazing old friends. Michelle came to visit and there is something about the reaffirmation that no matter what, some friendships will NEVER change. Lots of laughs ensued, which was just what I needed.
2) Brent is coming to visit in less than a month, and I miss him so much!
3) Great new people in my life that have popped in in the last month or so.
4) I have the best customers in the world @ Planet Beach and they have been amazing this past month- so helpful and so caring! I know I will stay in touch with a lot of them and that makes me happy.
5)New blonde hair.
6) Watching the kittens grow.
7) Great core group of friends that support me through thick and thin.
8)The ability to laugh through it all.
10)I buy my health insurance myself so nothing other than my paycheck will change in a week.
11) Tax refund- more than expected. Hallelujah!
12)I overpaid my credit card payment for some reason and got a check back. Perfect timing!
13) The weather is perfect.
14) My music collection on my Macbook has now surpassed what was on my stolen laptop. Thank God!

1) I didn't get chosen in the lottery for the NYC marathon. Oh well, on to the next.
2) I will be without a fulltime job in one week. Hmmmm.
3) My half marathon sucked Saturday- 1:38 (7:30 pace). I had been training at 6:30 pace but lost motivation after I got sick and my life took a quick downward spiral. I did get 2nd in my age group and got a fun prize- and I am all about the hardware, so that adds some positiveness (is that a word?) to a sucky race.
4) I know I put this in the positives, but I have 6...SIX....cats. It makes life a bit complicated and sleep limited.
5) No call back yet.
6) My pants are too tight.
7) I'm a tad bit homesick.
8) No matter how in control I try to be in my life, I am not in control. I guess that's a good thing too.
9) I got in a teeny accident and my MSU plate has a crack in it.
10) Cancer. Sucks.

It could be A LOT worse. So that's my list. Here are some recent pics....

Friends for well over 10 years!

I will always love you, Davidson.

Mountains, best friends, and a good dog= perfect day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Balls. What a fun word! It can mean so many different things. Cheese balls, chocolate balls, beach balls and most recently in my life, furballs. I myself have been one GIANT stressball these days. And if you know me and my close friend Ellen, one of our favorite exclamations when things go bad is..."Oh, Balls!". Which, by the way, is actually an old-time phrase; the book I just recently finished, East of Eden, written in the 50's, had characters in it that would use that phrase. It's a great way to proclaim frustration, excitement, anger, or surprise, and lets face it, it's just a really funny word to say. You should try it; it feels really good to say :).

All silliness aside, I want you all to know how much your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes sent my way mean. I really believe I have some of the greatest friends and family in the entire world. The messages, texts and emails helped me get through a very stressful time and helped me do one of my favorite things- laugh. Your suggestions and support mean more than you ever know, and I now realize that when someone is having a rough time, even if they aren't reaching out for help, words of encouragement can make all the difference. You guys are truly amazing and I'm not quite sure how I have gotten so lucky in my life to know so many wonderful people, but please know I feel blessed to know each and every one of you. I get so busy and have trouble staying in touch over the phone, but that doesn't mean I don't miss you, think about you or appreciate you in my life! Things are VERY up in the air right now in my life and that is a scary, scary feeling. I am a creature of habit and although I do thrive in chaos, I do enjoy stability as well. It seems like everyone I know have lives on the the straight and narrow path; it's like they are doing the perfect math equation to get the perfect answer. My life is a MILLION different equations and I have no clue what the answer will end up being. I feel so incredibly busy and I feel as though I keep spinning my wheels, but am moving no where. I have realized though the past few weeks this wheel spinning has allowed me to meet all the people that have supported and encouraged me. Everything happens for a reason, I firmly believe that, but it has been a bit difficult to find these reasons. I am hoping that one day (hopefully soon!), I will be able to look back in retrospect on the difficult times and say "Ah hah, so THAT's what that happened!". I love when I am able to do that! After being irrational and spending Friday crying and eating cupcakes, I have been able to look at things a little more rationally and am determined to make things work. They may be unplanned circumstances, but some of you have shed some clarity on the situation and it just may be a positive thing. I sure hope so.

On another note, something that I thought would be a huge inconvenience and hindrance on my life has turned out to be very exciting .I recently rescued a kitty from the outdoors about two months ago. Her name is Layla and I have to say, she is a pretty cool cat. Except she LOVES to eat. I mean, like a bag of catfood a week. She gets it honestly, since me and Laramie love to eat too! My roommates and I noticed that she had been growing quite large from the mere 6 pounds that she was when I got her. We went back and forth, could she be pregnant? Does she have worms? Is she just eating wayyyy too much? I had been holding off on the vet because I have her on the Mecklenburg County waiting list to get everything done for free since she was a rescue. Well, we got our answer Sunday. Out of nowhere, while I was at work, out came 5 babies! UNDER MY BED nonetheless. I got a text from Ellen saying, "uh Courtney, congratulations, you're a Grandma!". I guess Layla was just hanging out downstairs looking like she had gone on Jenny Craig or something, so they realized she must have given birth. They went to my room and heard some squeaking, and sure enough, she had made her nest under my bed. I am amazed by the whole process. Not a drop of blood or mess anywhere. She cleaned it all up. What a champ. Getting able to witness animal instinct first hand is incredible. The fact that she knew she was going to have them, went upstairs, picked a safe place, popped them out, cleaned them, and now knows exactly how to care for them, is mind-boggling! She doesn't question her instincts, she just does it. I need to follow that pattern for my own life. And as stressed out as I first was when I heard the news, I have to say, kittens have been a pleasant surprise so far. At first I thought, "Just my luck; here I try to do a good deed and rescue an animal, and now I have SIX CATS living under my bed. My life is a joke." But, I have to say, knowing I was coming home to kittens after work Sunday night put a huge smile on my face. I felt like a doting grandmother, telling everyone at work the great news. They are very self-sufficient, and so dang cute! There is a possibility I will be able to find homes for all of them, which is a huge plus. If any of you want one, feel free to take one!!! The only one that for sure has a home is the calico. To sound cliche, it has been very cool to witness the miracle of life, even if it has just been with kittens. I can't imagine what it feels like to have an actual child! Wow.

Thank you again for all your positive thoughts in my direction; I need them all and I can't thank you enough! My longtime best friend Michelle gets into town this evening from NYC so that makes life all the more better. So excited! Enjoy the pictures of "my grandchildren" =) Oh, and mom, if you are reading this, surprise! You know how you told me not to rescue that cat? Well, I did. And now I have six cats....whoops. Love you!
Proud Mama!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid....Jesus

A very sweet friend sent that to me today. It's funny how people are there for you just when you least expect it, just when you need it most. I have hit a bit of a rough patch. Nothing serious, and I know I'll make it out ok, but things in my life are very uncertain right now and I'm in a pretty dark place. I don't know how many of you read this, but for those of you who do, if you pray, please add me to your list. I need a few right now. I have wonderful people in my life and couldn't ask for better friends and family, so thank you for being there for me. Life could be much worse, but I could use some stability in my life. It feels like I'm constantly changing things, but the change is lateral. There are some people who seem so full-filled and satisfied, and I want that so badly for myself. I want to be at peace with where my life is going. Any prayers or good thoughts my way would be much appreciated. Thanks :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thou Mayest

I'm happy to say I'm still working hard toward most parts of my New Year's Resolutions (aside from the piles in my room- that is a lost cause). I finished another book and it was a very thought-provoking, entertaining read.

John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" took me a few weeks to get into, but once I was in, I was hooked. It was written in 1952, but aside from a few language differences, you would never know. The book oozes sexuality and controversy, and shockingly, the words they used back then were very similar to the words we use today. In short, the book explores the difference between good and evil, and what makes one person inherently "bad" over another. I was fascinated by this because as a psychology major, I have always been intrigued as to why some people seem to be good eggs, and some people seem to be pure evil. I have always taken a humanistic approach, which is a viewpoint that in general, all humans are born good, and it is circumstances in life (abuse, neglect, chemical imbalance, etc) that makes a person "bad". The book explores concepts and phrases from the Bible that address evil. Two of the main characters, Aron and Cal, are what the author uses explore his theory. Their lives parallel Cain and Abel's from the Bible in many ways. Cal and Aron's mother seemed to be inherently evil (she killed her parents as a young child and then became a prostitute) while their father was one of the most kind, naive, good people to walk the earth. He married their mother having no clue about her past; she was very manipulative, used him for everything he had (he was wealthy) and left him with the boys shortly after they were born to go run a whorehouse. Ironically, their father is not even their biological father- their mother slept with their father's brother one evening and was impregnated by him (this is not revealed until later in the book) Evil seemed to follow her throughout the whole book. She is cold, heartless, and will do anything to anyone to better her own life. She murders on numerous occassions to get what she wants. The father becomes very depressed about being a single father, but is surrounded by good people that literally end up slapping him straight, and convincing him his job as a father is more important than his heartbreak and he is able to realize this and become the father he needs to be to raise his boys. The boys grow up thinking their mother is dead, and when on accident, Cal discovers who his mother really is, he struggles with the realization that the evil that was in his mother could very well be in him as well. While Aron was always doing what was right, Cal seemed to get a thrill from finding people's weaknesses and feeding upon them. It was something he didn't feel he could help. He didn't know why he did it, other than that it made him feel powerful. He worried he inherited this trait from his mother, who used people her whole life, and never really loved anyone. He battles this throughout the entire book and wonders if it is a lost cause to try and be a good person. There is a particular phrase that is examined by the best friend and farm hand (Lee) of the twin's father that is in the Hebrew version of the Bible- "timshel". In translation, it means thou mayest. Lee was a very educated man and studied several religions to better grasp the concept of God. He couldn't seem to get "timshel" out of his head, and goes on a quest to find out what the Bible means by it.

"[The Hebrew] word "Timshel"- thou mayest-that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if Thou mayest- it is also true that thou mayest not...[thou mayest] makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and in his filth...he still has the great choice. He can choose his course and fight through it and WIN."

Lee tries is best to show Cal that just because he has a tendency toward being evil, he has a choice, and can choose to be good. Basically, the entire book explores the concepts of good and evil and where free will lies amongst the spectrum. One doesn't have to be good; one doesn't have to be bad. One is whatever one chooses to be. I loved reading about this theory. I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with it, because I do believe that some people are faced with circumstances in life that really do not give them a fighting chance to be good, but I do feel like human beings are powerful and can overcome terrible, terrible things in life, and use them for good. I left out a lot ( I think the book is close to 800 pages) but that is the general concept of it, and I highly recommend this book. It provides a lot of food for thought, and anyone fascinated by human behaviors will enjoy it. It provides hope for mankind. We are neither destined to be good or destined to be bad; we are whatever we choose to be. I will leave you with a quote from the book that I absolutely loved:

"Riches seem to come to those poor in spirit; the poor in interest and joy. To put it straight- the very rich are a poor bunch of bastards."

Even without money, you can be rich- it's all how you view your life :)

Anyways, here's a little update on my life- I ran a 5k with Ellen this past weekend and it was absolutely miserable. Not only was it 25 degrees in the morning (ridiculous for Charlotte in March!), but I just felt like complete junk the whole race. Thank goodness the company was at least good. My training has been faster than I ran the race. I believe my final time was 21:10. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't terrible, but I should have been faster. The fact that I didn't run but once during the week leading up to it probably didn't help. I just haven't been able to find a lot of time to work out lately. I did get a trophy at least and some cool race freebies; those of you who know me know I love freebies and I love winning some hardware even more. No clue why. Anyways, thanks Ellen for enduring a painful morning with me and hopefully our next race will be much more enjoyable :)

Not-so-flattering picture from the Hardcore trail run a few weeks back.

Hope everyone had a very happy Monday! Spring is here!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Always behave like a duck...

...stay calm and collected on the surface, but paddle like the devil beneath the water!
I love that quote, and that was my motto throughout this week. Do you ever feel like the entire universe is against you? I am usually a very happy-go-lucky, laid back person, but a few days out of the month, I feel like no matter what I do things are not going to go my way or how I planned for them to go, so I might as well just suck it up, deal with it and wait for the storm to pass, knowing the sun WILL come out again eventually. There wasn't anything tragic or overtly malicious that happened to me this week. It was just a bunch of little things that kept happening, and happening, aaaaaand happening, until finally I reach the point where I just have to laugh and say "seriously???". Some of this could be due to hormones, which can make a person a bit irrational. I know it is also because of mental and physical exhaustion. I get emotional and irrational when I'm tired, and working two jobs while doing a pretty strict training regime for my upcoming races has started to catch up with me. I really do feel like I have weeks, however, where everything goes my way and I'm walking on cloud nine, but I never let myself get too comfortable because I know it won't last forever. Just like the bad times don't last forever. It's hard to explain to someone else why I'm having such a terrible day, because all the little things that happen really are not a big deal at all, but when they keep happening, I eventually reach my breaking point and have a good cry. The funny thing is, it's usually something REALLY small that eventually make me cry, like a pencil breaking, or stubbing my toe. It's the accumulation of events, not one particular event, that causes the cry. After that, I'm usually ok and things start to turn up again. Amongst a million other teeny things that happened on Thursday, the icing on the cake was that I made myself go to the gym for my 6 mile tempo run, as much as I just wanted to go home and pull the covers over my head. The goal was to hold 6:45-7:00 pace for each mile, which I did. But I struggle on treadmills- something about constantly being able to check how much longer I have left makes it a lot more difficult than running outside for me. So I need a good soundtrack to keep me going. For some reason, my Ipod was against me that night too, and as I began to struggle mentally with the run, and the temptation to hit the "slow down" button was creeping up on me, I needed some solid rock music to pull me through. Well, my Ipod somehow chose every slow song known to mankind- love songs, symphony music, you name it, it played it. I frantically kept hitting "next", but to no avail. I finally just accepted this run was going to make me more mentally tough; I buried my head down, did my best to encourage myself and not look at how much time I had left. I was able to finish the run with a 6:45 average pace, which was my goal, but man was it tough. And then, my Ipod decided it would break after that! I just laughed. I've gone through so many days like this in my life now that I know you just have to get through it and it will get better, but man do they suck! I won't go into detail about everything else that happened because frankly, it's boring. I had a lovely dinner with a wonderful friend last night, and that helps. Friends, a bit of mental toughness, and faith are what pull you through rough times. I can already feel things getting better, so once again, I know I will be fine. I think you need days like that to not take the good days for granted. My coping skills sure have sharpened since I've become an adult and there are a lot more things that can go wrong!
One thing in particular that kept me going through this week was the wonderful news that I found out one of my very best friends, Michelle, is coming to visit me for 5 days in March! I can't even begin to explain how excited I am. We have a good time no matter what, but I can't wait to show her what my life is like in North Carolina. I had the opportunity to visit her in New York City and it was one of my most favorite vacations. Now, when I talk to her on the phone, I have a visual of what her life is like. We have gone in such different paths since high school and college and it's amazing to see what the lives of people you are close with are like. I miss her and cannot wait to see her!
Other random thoughts- I am actually excited for Jessica Simpson's new show on VH1- I am fascinated by perceptions of beauty and think it will be very educational. Who would of thought? And, I really like Daughtry's new song. Especially the quote, "All that I'm after is a life full of laughter". Exactly! Can anyone guess what channel I'm watching right now?

Thanks for listening to me rant, everyone. Have a wonderful weekend!!
Goofing off with my NEW Mac!

Monday, February 22, 2010

~Go Hard or Go Home~

It's been a busy past couple weeks- I feel like I've been going, going and going, and haven't really had a moment to sit down and catch my breath. Weird thing is though, I really enjoy my life better that way. I may complain from time to time, but I do better when I'm extremely busy. I hate having idle time (ok, I wouldn't mind it for an hour a day so I could have some time to get my life organized, but that won't happen). The weekend before last, Ellen and I had yet another wonderful roadtrip- as mentioned earlier, we were headed to Daytona for some fun, relaxation, and of course, some Nascar. After quite the adventurous drive on the way down, including some unusual Southern snow up until we got to Georgia, we finally made it, and went straight to YaYa's ( the local bar we go to there - filled with all sorts of unusual people and karaoke every night). It was a great time as always. We went to bed fairly late, but I was proud for dragging myself out of bed for an oceanside jog the following morning. I could do that every single morning for the rest of my life. The sand was firm, the ocean was calm and beautiful, and hardly anyone was on the beach. My Ipod seemed to know where I was and put on the perfect soundtrack of Black Crowes and Susan Tedeschi. I was disappointed when my run was over but it was time to get our credentials and head to the track for some racing. We picked up our hot passes and then headed over to the track with Shawn. We wandered around for a little while- spotted Bruce Jennar, got to see Danica, ate some great food that Nascar prepares for it's employees, and then after about 50 laps were ready to head back. We went back to the beach house, took a nice nap, and prepared for another night out on the town. This one was a bit more wild than the previous night, and we finally shut it down around 4 or 5 AM. Amazingly, I pulled myself out of bed at 8 AM and was able to get in another nice 8 mile run along the ocean. The view provides some good motivation to get up! We then headed to the track again for the Sprint Cup race. It couldn't have gone more smoothly. Shawn was nice enough to give us his employee parking pass, so we didn't have to walk far and avoided the $60 parking. We didn't sit in any traffic and got right into the track. We had a great time, but unfortunately, due to some pop up potholes on the track, there was about a 2 hour delay during the race. It worked out well though because that allowed us to get some great driver sightings; we were back in the pits and that was where all the drivers hung out during the red flag, so I got to see all my favorite drivers! Aside from running along the ocean, that was probably the highlight of the trip. Around 5 pm they started the race back up, but after being there for 5 hours, the lack of sleep from the night before started to catch up with us and we decided to head back to the beach house. It worked out perfectly- 2 very nice, handsome guys in a golf cart offered to give us a ride to our cars, and with how exhausted we were and how badly our feet hurt, it was the perfect ending to a pretty perfect day! Not gonna lie, we felt pretty important zooming by on the golf cart past everyone walking. :) The guys ended up being from Fishers, Indiana and were down there for work- small world. We attempted to go out that evening but were pretty boring- we are definitely no longer in our college years, and after a long walk on the beach the next day, headed back to NC. All and all it was a great weekend- and I even left out some parts, such as the forest fire we had to drive through, the fight we were almost in at the bar, and a few other stories :) Thanks again for everything, SR!

My favorite driver- Kyle Busch!

Getting to the track!

Moving on, this past weekend I had my first race of the many I have signed up for this spring and summer. This was the HardCORE trail series, for the "serious trail runner". Love the motto on the shirt we got: "Go hard or go home". That's my life mantra! It was held at the US Whitewater Center and was an 8k. Christa and SR did it with me and it was so much fun. Five miles goes by a lot faster when you are climbing 1/2 mile hills, running in shrubs to try and get around people, slipping around in mud and hurdling giant roots. It was over before you knew it. The race was very well put on, aside from the start. We were kind of hanging around the back, not knowing the race was going to start, and without any warning, they started it. Now, I'm not this super amazing runner or anything, but my pace was quicker than the 100 or so people that were in front of us, so that made things interesting. SR probably could have won the race if we had started farther up. It is VERY difficult to pass people when the trails are only a few feet wide. My legs are pretty cut up from running off the trail to try and get past people for the first mile or so, but I loved every second of it. The cross country runner in me started to come out , and before I knew it, I was doing the instinctual harmless "elbowing" to try and get around people. Probably bad sportsmanship, but it was nothing aggressive, just little taps to try and get around people :). It really made me miss the days of XC. I ended up 21st out of 200, 4th female, and 1st in age group, and I believe my time was around 40:25. Not very fast, but I wasn't expecting much since it was more about not falling and spraining an ankle, and less about fast times. Might have been able to place higher if the start was a little more organized, but oh well! More than anything, it was just a fun Saturday workout around others who enjoy the same type of thing. SR had a great race and ended up 2nd. Christa, SR and I had a yummy post-race breakfast at Mimi's afterwords. It was a beautiful 60 degree day and all and all was just a lovely weekend. I didn't have to work either which made it even better. I had to work Sunday, but not until 3, so I took my road bike out for 28 miles to enjoy the weather. It was my first time on my bike since October! I know they say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I spent the whole ride getting the "feel" for my bike again, and made some dumb mistakes. The first time I needed to unclip I almost forgot how to do it! After a while, I felt my body start to mold to my bike again and it started to come back to me. I can't think of a better way to enjoy a sunny afternoon than to overlook the country in Davidson, listen to some awesome music, and push my body. It was great! Didn't do much socially this past weekend, but I needed some recovery "me" time after Daytona anyways. I live for weekends like this past one and that is exactly why I moved to North Carolina!

And lastly, I am happy to announce I am the proud owner of a Mac! After a lot of research and a lot of saving, I finally made my decision and went to the Apple store with my friend Jenny to make the purchase. I just have to say, the people in the Apple store are amazing! I had my heart set on spending about $500 more than I actually did; they actually discouraged me from all the upgrades I wanted as they were unnecessary for what I would be using the computer for. That NEVER happens! And, we were going to use Jenny's student discount to save me about $200. To do this, we were going to have to lie and say she was buying it for me, but those of you who know me best know I absolutely CANNOT lie or break the rules, and immediately started acting weird when we got in there. The girl who put together my order was very cool and said "You are just trying to use her discount, right? I don't care, that's fine!", and after catching me in my lie, put it in for me anyways. It was the most stress-free, easiest purchase I have ever made, and although I am still figuring my way around the world of Mac, I am in love with it and do not miss my PC at all. I HIGHLY recommend them. And go to the store- don't buy it online. They are very helpful and will answer all your questions. So now that I am once again in tune with the world of technology, hopefully I can update my blog more often to avoid novels like this one. Oh, and I finally have my Itunes back, so I feel whole again. Life was just not the same without my music!Thanks for stopping by and happy Monday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gentlemen (and lady!), Start Your Engines!

It's been a long few weeks of work, work and more work, and working out. A vacation is much needed. I've really hit the ground running with my training, and am really enjoying it. Once I dedicate myself to something, it's all or nothing, so I've really been giving 110%. I had a very enjoyable 12 mile run this morning in the lovely 30 degree weather. I absolutely HATE waking up, but once I get my running shoes on, get my IPOD going, and head out the door, it is one of the most peaceful, serene times that I have. Just me and my thoughts. I actually get sad when the run is over, which is a little weird I guess. I'd say I did about 7:30-7:45 pace this morning, which isn't too fast, but given the fact that I am extremely sore from all my strength training and swimming, I was pleased. I also had a good 3 mile tempo run Tuesday where I held 6 minute pace, so I'm satisfied with how everything has gone this week. Enough about my training though, I know that's dry and boring.
Road trip to Indiana!

I am super excited for tomorrow. My good friend Ellen and I will be taking yet another road trip together- this time to Daytona. I have no doubt it will be a fabulous trip. No matter what we do, it is always a good time! Due to the generosity and hospitality of my good friend Shawn, we will yet again have our "hot passes" for the Daytona 500. Yes, I am going to ANOTHER Nascar race. Ever since moving down to the south, I have embraced my inner redneck and have to say, I really, truly enjoy the races. I will say, I am spoiled having the hot pass. I don't think I could watch the race from the stands. I just find it fascinating to be back there with the cars and in the middle of all the action (and extremely loud noises). It makes the 4 hours or so go by very fast. Ellen, my family and I had hot passes for the Brickyard 400 and had the time of our lives. My dad and brother still talk about how "awesome" it was. So, thank you SR for putting up with my redneckness and allowing me to experience Nascar once again:). I will be sure to take lots of pictures of all the action. Danica Patrick will be making her Nascar debut, and even though I find her a bit annoying, I am excited to witness a piece of history. I have a feeling she is going to make quite the statement on Saturday. She is a tough, strong woman who has something to prove, and I think she is going to show Nascar fans she is here to stay. And, let's not forget about the ocean!!! Something about the ocean, even if it will be cold there, brings me back to my center. The smell, the sound, the sand in your toes- there is no other place I feel quite at home like I do at the ocean. I am determined to live by the beach one day. I am closer in North Carolina than I was in Indiana (about 2 1/2 hours away), but somehow, it doesn't feel close enough. Can't wait to get down there!
At the Brickyard, where I met my "boyfriend" :)

Hopefully we will see this crew again!

Ellen and I being Nascar fans with a firstclass view!
Lastly, I have researched and researched computers, and have determined I will be getting a MacBook Pro very soon. I can't believe the response I had when asking whether to go Mac or PC...every single person said Mac. Wow! That's a true testament to the computer ,and although expensive, it sounds like it is well worth the investment. I have been without a computer ever since I was robbed in September, and cannot wait to be able to have one of my own again.

Well, this time tomorrow I will be hitting the road. Have a happy and safe weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Believe in Blue!

The Superbowl is quickly approaching, but it can't come fast enough. I absolutely cannot wait. And my mom called to tell me I can expect a package in the mail full of Colts gear to flaunt around Charlotte, which should arrive today. I just love that my mother still takes the time to send care packages to me. I know I'm 26 years old, but there's just something about getting a package in the mail from your parents that makes you feel like a kid again.

I can't believe it's been 3 years since we last won the Superbowl. It feels like just yesterday. I was talking about it on the phone with my mom the other day and the fond memories we have leading up to that game and after our victory. I feel so thankful to have witnessed a piece of Indianapolis history. I had moved home to Indiana right after college, and although I wasn't too happy about it at the time, in retrospect, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. You know the saying "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers"? I believe that 110%. I was so disappointed I didn't have a full-time job lined up right after college and had to move home with my parents. I was also embarrassed that I spent four years at college only to be living with my parents again. It was a blessing in disguise. In the 6 months that I lived at home, my world as I knew it would be turned upside down. I went through a very difficult breakup with someone I thought I would eventually move across the country to be with. So, there went my life plan. Literally one day after the breakup, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had absolutely no symptoms, but on a whim requested a colonoscopy and they discovered cancer. He immediately began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. So much happened at once that I literally just fell to the ground one day crying and couldn't pull myself up. A future that I had been planning with someone had disappeared, and I was all of a sudden faced with my father's mortality. You always view your parents as invincible, and to see them as a human being, sick, struggling, weak, at at times, in tears, is absolutely devastating. I feel like I am a pretty strong person emotionally, but I was broken. I don't think I ever even cried about it until one day after my dad was at the kitchen table eating breakfast, he looked up at me, worry in his eyes, and simply said, "I'm scared. I never thought I would be facing cancer". I ran upstairs and broke down. My dad is tough and is an incredible athlete, and to see him so weak and was extremely difficult. Looking back, I know I was depressed. I had trouble eating, sleeping, and I guess all and all was just in a very dark place. One I hope I never go back to. Honestly, watching the Colts was such a simple break from all of my emotions, it was one of the few things that I found myself looking forward to. The unrelenting faith the entire city had in the Colts was inspiring. I would sit with my parents and cheer them on, and it really brought us together.

The day of the Superbowl I decided I would spend it with my parents at our local country club. My dad was in the middle of his treatment so he was not feeling the greatest, and I just knew I really wanted to be with them. We got all decked out in blue, and as you can see in the photos, I even sported some hideous blue nail polish. Blue Shots!
The game seemed like a dream. Every touchdown we took these delicious blue shots (even though my dad wasn't supposed to be drinking). The country club was the perfect atmosphere- there was a great crowd, gourmet food, and shots served at every touchdown. As the clock ticked down to the end, the joy in the crowd was indescribable. The cheering could be heard out from the streets. There were fireworks and cars honking their horns the whole drive home. The pride felt in Indianapolis was something I had never experienced before, and it made me so grateful to actually be living in the city to witness it. They couldn't even keep Colts hats on the shelves. The city was BLUE. And it was awesome!

I guess what I'm trying to say is the Colts helped me climb out of a deep dark hole I was in, and see the light again. I think you have to go through times like that in your life because it is then you learn the most about yourself. When it is just you, your fears and your sadness, you really learn what makes you tick, what you want out of life, and just how much inner strength you really have. And if God had answered my prayers, I would have been across the country at a time that looking back, is a time I needed to be home. In those 6 months, I was able to get to know my parents as an adult, not as a child breaking all the rules, I was able to be with my father through his struggle with cancer, and I was able to be in Indianapolis at a time that is probably one of the most exciting times in the cities' history. I am so much closer with my parents because of that time spent at home. If I would have moved away, our relationship would probably be very different than it is today. To me, that Superbowl was not just a game; it was much, much more than that. And I am happy to say as this game approaches, I am in a much better place in my life, and no longer have that dark veil over my eyes. And, my father is now nearly 3 years free of cancer, and is now ranked number one in the state for 50 and over tennis. It's amazing how much your life can do a 180 in 3 short years.

Mom and I after the game. Notice the great Tony Dungy
in the background :)

Here's to the Colts bringing home ANOTHER Superbowl to Indianapolis. Let's go Horse!

Thanks for stopping by in reading. And, as always, feel free to follow me ;)

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Good Book has No Ending.

So, I just finished "The Shack". I know in my 2010 goals I said I didn't want to read fad books, but this was given to me by someone so I thought I'd check it out. I was a bit skeptical, because I've either heard rave reviews or strong criticism regarding it's content. I opened it up knowing I would be reading it as a book of fiction, and I think that helped. I believe many people are reading it as the truth, or nonfiction, and that is where people are going to get offended. It's simply one person's view of God, Heaven, and pretty much everything holy. Obviously no one knows the right answer, but I found it refreshing to get a picture of what it could be like. I think when it comes to books regarding religion, they need to be read with an open mind. Take what you find useful and apply it to your life, and disregard everything else. That is exactly what I did. I was able to take a few key points from the book that I hope to apply to my life, the main theme being that of forgiveness. I also have an incredible picture in my head of what the afterlife may be like. It also helped clarify some questions I had regarding Jesus, because I oftentimes struggle with understanding certain parts of the Bible. So, all and all, I found the book to be entertaining, an easy read, and uplifting (and who doesn't want to feel uplifted??). I would recommend it to anyone, religious or not, and just would advise you to remember the book is fiction. The following is an excerpt from the book I particularly enjoyed :

"If anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again."

Basically, you CAN make a difference, and you do make a difference. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here goes nothing!

So, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon and start a blog. I figure why not? I love to write, my life sometimes seems like a giant joke, so I feel like others may get some entertainment from it, and I feel it will help hold myself accountable to all of my goals if it's out there for the world to see. We shall see. I think it may also help "unjumble" my mind, if that's a word. My mind has so many ideas and thoughts, it's exhausting at times. It is a little bit of a vulnerable feeling, knowing I will be letting others into my mind, but I think it will also be freeing as well.

Since we are at the start of a new year, I have, as always, set some new life goals. I'm going to try and not make mine so general this time, and I'm really going to try and make them goals that are not only attainable, but will help enhance my life. I've had a bit of a midlife crisis at age 26- 4 years away from 30 has made me a bit nervous. Being an extremist as well as a perfectionist has me realizing the years are going by way too fast, and there is never enough time in the day to get to all I want to do. Also, losing a family member in 2008 has given me an even more intense "live life to the fullest" attitude, and has made me want to never, ever, EVER take a single part of life, whether it be a person, thing or emotion, for granted. I feel I have accomplished many things that I am willing to admit I am proud of, but not nearly enough. And my life is certainly not headed in the direction I had imagined it would be at 26 years old. That isn't neccesarily a bad thing, but it has required me to re-adjust some of my goals. So for 2010, my aspirations are as follows:

1) Travel- a lot. I am assuming there will come to a point where my life will be tying me down quite a bit more than it currently is (maybe it won't), and I want to take advantage of my freedom while I have it. My brother Brent recently backpacked around Belize on a whim, and that is one of the most admirable things he has ever done, in my opinion. He just packed up with a friend and left, and had one of the most incredible experiences of his life. I regret not joining him. I am happy with my first 3 years in North Carolina- I have tried to explore as many beaches and mountains as time has allowed, but there is still more that I want to see. Instead of having wasted weekends on the couch, I want to see it all. I only wish I could afford more plane tickets. I am proud of in the last 3 years, I have made a genuine effort to visit friends throughout the country, and I will hold those memories dear. I was able to see New York City, California, Lake Tahoe, Daytona, Raleigh, Boston, Asheville, Las Vegas, Michigan, and a few other places. On my bucket list of places to visit where friends live are California (again), Montana, Kansas City, NYC (again- which might happen if I get in to the marathon), Fort Benning and Nashville. I am hoping to make the majority of these happen in 2010. Vacations are wonderful, especially when you are able to catch up with long lost friends.

This is a picture of Brent in Belize. Isn't it incredible?

2) To make my body the most fit it has ever been in my whole life. This will be difficult considering I used to train 6-7 hours a day. Again, as I'm getting older, I'm starting to get stressed out. There will be a point in time where my body won't be able to lift as much weight, where it won't be able to handle my long workouts, and where my joints will begin to fail me. And that is one of my biggest fears. My body has been so durable my whole life. I can put it through hell and 99.9% of the time, it responds positively, and never lets me down. So, I would like to step it up this year, and see just how far I can push myself. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to racing, such as entering a marathon a month before I plan on running it, while recovering from pneumonia. I completed it, yes. Could I have ran it faster? More than likely, yes. I am proud of my athletic accomplishments, but don't feel I have tapped into my full potential. I have had several athletic shortcomings that will stick with me for the rest of my life. For example, losing the state meet in the 100 breastroke by 3 one-hundredths of a second. Or missing the Olympic Trial cut in the 100 breastroke by 8 one-hundredths of a second. I'm done having moments like that. I know I can push my body far, and I plan on doing that this year. I finally sucked it up and signed up for my first triathlon, so we will see how that goes. I don't feel like it will be a problem, considering I run and swim frequently, and am decent on the bike. The Ironman is on my bucket list, as well as an ultra-marathon, so I figure there is no better time to get started on that list until now. So, to reach this goal, it will require me to be more consistent. For those of you who know me, or train with me, know I will jump on the bandwagon for a while, but then I just stop. Not in 2010! :) It will also require me maintain better sleeping and eating habits. I feel like if I have a concrete goal to work towards, it will help maintain these habits. I will be running a half marathon on April 10th with a goal of going 1:25, and if I get in to the NYC marathon, it will be to go a 3:15. Both should be fairly easy to attain if I maintain consistency in my training, eating and sleeping.

Finishing the Boston Marathon.

3) Read more. I used to be a giant book nerd, and I still read quite a bit, but not enough. And I don't want to read "fad" books. I want to read the classics, books that will inspire me, that will leave me thinking after I finish the last page. One of my best friends works for the Oxford Press, and has inspired me to be better about this. She always has a great book to talk about. Plus, I can't tell you how many people my age can't spell, and it drives me crazy. And it also has shown me that people in my generation do not read enough, and I will not be one of those people. I think reading keeps you on your toes, and that is a good place to be!

4) Say "I love you" more. No explanation needed.

5) Make more time for my friends. I feel I have the greatest friends in the whole world, and it's easy to get caught up in your life and not make time for that phone call or an hour for coffee. And that is unacceptable. I just need to do it, and make the time for it.

6) Attempt to be more easy-going. I usually am, but I tend to really freak out when there are are too many things going on out of my control. So my goal is to accept that there will be times where things happen that are truly out of my hands, and I just need to put the trust in God that if I am holding up everything the best I can, things will work out in the end, even if it doesn't feel like it.

7) Get back in school. I love school, I love learning, I love challenging my mind, and I miss it. Right now I am thinking a certificate in substance abuse counseling- I just need to make time for it.

8) Walk Laramie more. When I get tired, I tend to forget about her, and she is one of the most important things in my life. I need to remember, no matter how exhausted I feel at the end of the day, to spend time with her, because it is limited.

My girl.

9)Learn to play guitar (a pink one).

10)Make an effort to clean my room once a week. I get so busy I will leave it for a few weeks, and at that point, it becomes overwhelming, so I leave it for a few more weeks. I'm notorious for making piles. If I make a point to clean once a week, it will be easily maintained and I'm hoping it will help my life feel a little bit less chaotic.

11) Start cooking more. I have been told I'm a master microwaver. I need to work on that.

8) Lastly, go to bed each and EVERY night with the comfort of knowing I have lived to the fullest, given 100% in everything and have made a difference, no matter how big or small it is.

I'm sure there are more, but as you can see I am very verbose and my hands are getting tired. Thanks for reading!