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!