Thursday, December 13, 2012

Let's Eat Some Pasta! Or, Look Who's Back from the Dead!



Ahoy! Yes, it is I! You didn't know I was taking a bloggery hiatus did you? Well, neither did I, but there it is.

I've mentioned in previous posts my random bouts of creativity-suck that seem to happen periodically and as a result the bloggery world is not graced with my wisdom for sometimes several weeks... months even. I generally try to pin this down on spectacular busy busy busyness or, head exploding stress. See school for example. School will suck everything happy and creative and discretionary right out of you. You could say - its a soul sucker. Probably why I'm thinking I'll head back down that dark path soon - apparently all academics are also masochists. Makes sense - otherwise no one would get a PhD.

Aside...

This creativity-suck could mostly be attributed to those dark places we must go sometimes. It's like swimming with cement shoes - all you can think about is not getting pulled under.

But lately, I've felt the sunshine seep back into my soul! School had nothing to do with it because oh happy joy joy! I graduated from that soul suck over a year ago... after which I entered the "lazy period" and then one of those dreamy gray times where life's kind of floating about eerily. That generally happens right before... dun dun dun.. the dark zones. I also find you don't realize things are a soul suck or you've just waded through a personal dark zone until you close that chapter of your life and then look back - weeks, months, maybe so much as a year later and think, "yep... I was drowning and that's why I didn't blog, have motivation to do anything ever, and felt like the entire world was frozen and empty." Some things do that to you. And those things, though good for us in the long run, eventually need to be stamped out. Endured. And then squashed like a BUG! Enduring is a tricky word, isn't it? I think sometimes we don't really understand what it means until we've had a nice healthy round of endurance. Perhaps you long-distance runners can relate to this idea since you rely so heavily on endurance to finish the race. To push through because you know there's a finish line. You  know after "x" amount of miles - you no longer have to endure. You've finished. You're done. Now for a big plate of pasta! It helps to know the end from the beginning.

 I think what takes endurance to the next level is not knowing - but just having to believe that the finish line is there and that when you finally make it - there's a big plate of pasta waiting just for you. Not knowing how far you'll have to go, if that steep uphill climb is the last of them, hoping that around this corner, or this corner, or this corner, the finish line will appear in the not to far off distance and being disappointed again and again - that's when endurance takes on a whole new meaning - it's called faith. There's some choice in this I suppose. You can hop off the track - try and find a short cut or get lost in the winding streets or simply just plop your sad self down on the road. After so long, it just seems like there is no finish line, so what's to be done? I think this idea of endurance is something you can only wrap your head around once you've had to do it. Once you've decided to dig your feet in and decide no matter what lies ahead, you're not only going to keep at it, you're going to do it with whatever you've got. Even if that means walking sometimes to catch your breath. Slow progress is still progress after all.

Another excellent point! Enduring isn't just muddling through though is it? - it's trudging through! with character! Self-discipline, unfailing humility, a deep well of patience, turning the other cheek, long-suffering, not being reactionary, and reminding yourself that one day, you WILL look back and see the beginning from the end. That's when you'll know that what's more important than stretching across that finish line, is knowing you didn't push anyone down, stomp on anyone's toes, or cut any corners to get there. Even if your toes were stomped on, you were pushed down, and your claims for justice would've been completely acceptable - you restrained, you kept your wits about you, and you never let reaction dictate your actions. No. It's better to maintain your own self-respect in the long run than secure fleeting feelings of triumph because of one reactionary word, one justifiable quip, or one hearty slap to the face. SMACK! Even when you think that hearty slap would feel ohhhhh soooo goood.

I read something awhile ago that has completely changed my interactions with everyone I meet and gave me a new perspective on what it means to endure. It was particularly poignant when facing those who find happiness in the failures of others - those who during my own dark zones - were heavy burdens for me to bear. It is one word.. and that word is Genshai (GEN-shy), and it means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small. This struck me in a very powerful way - it took the idea of "treat others how you want to be treated" and elevated it. Genshai is brotherly love and charity combined. It's purity of interaction and it allows us to walk a mile in each others shoes - it bounds us together in common experiences - and elevates us all to a higher plane. The timing of my discovery of this word helped me not only endure - but to endure without regret. I wasn't perfect - but I was aware and that awareness kept my self-respect in tact. And though there are many more races ahead, I think I will be able to endure them even a little bit longer and feel little bit lighter if I apply Genshai - that I will never treat anyone - and I emphasize ANYONE - in a way that would make them feel small.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Man Jobs

As many of you know, dating is usually a feast or famine sort of exercise. At least for moi, sometimes I'll suddenly have a lot ("a lot" in comparison to... say... the translucent hairy fat 30 something living in his parents basement who only ventures out to restock his Manga comic and Ding Dong supply... every three months) of dates (many of them first and once in awhile second dates) and then just as quickly, I will go months without so much as a nibble. At these times I redouble my efforts at the gym thinking it must be the love handles and nothing to do with my early disclosure as a self-proclaimed Trekkie. Ahem. Also, knowing that it's "famine time" and hoping the next round of "feast" will bring something a little more long-term say, 4 dates and a make out sort of long term (a girl has needs), I try and find ways to appreciate that good guy when he comes around.

THUS! Approaching probably the end of another "feast" sort of timeline and seeing the famine ahead, I've mentally made a list of things it would be nice to have a male companion around for. That only sounds like I want a man around to put him to work because I'd like a man around to put him to work. OR! Because when think of companionship - I think of  sharing the load. "Shaaaare the loooooad" (two e-high fives and a thumbs up for whomever can name THAT obscure movie allusion). It also helps me remember to very much appreciate a man for his manly qualities by doing the man-jobs I'd like a man around to man-do. Man.

Observe

The Man List of Man-jobs I appreciate in a Man


1. Taking out the garbage - I'm such a girl when it comes to taking out the garbage. I hold it away from me as far as I can, nose wrinkled, opposite wrist popped, scamper out to the trash, lift the lid by not touching as much of it as possible, toss in the bag of nasty, and then scamper off sniffling at the injustice of it all. 

2. Rolling the garbage to the curb - see afore mentioned scamper and prance and sniffling. I don't like touching the garbage. It's grossy. It's garbage. Like, ew.

3. Hauling in groceries - I'm a wee sort of person and also somewhat lazy when it comes to taking more trips than I have to. Even when I SHOULD take more trips I try not to. So stringing groceries all the way up my arm, staggering to the door, fumbling with keys, and staggering in grunting under the load of 8 bags of groceries makes me inevidtibly long for the musuclar biceps and stamina of a man. A man who can haul in the groceries is the man of my heart. 

4. Reaching things - I can't reach things. Or, I can't reach things without my stool. Yes, I have a stool. Back off. I look forward to the day when I can say with a sweet smile and bat of my eyelashes, "Dearest, will you reach that very high bowl on the second shelf for me? You're so tall... er than 5'1." Giggle.

5. Unscrewing things - given

6. Outside jobs - particularly ones that involve bushes or dead foliage that could house spiders. 

7. Killing spiders - Be a man! Kill a Spider! And win my affections for all eternity. And possibly a home made t-shirt with that very mantra.

8. Lifting heavy things and moving them over there and then back again just to see how it looks. Do you know how LONG it takes me to move things - heavy things? It's because it takes me double the trips (and you know how I feel about multiple trips), not to mention a wall nick, stubbed toe, or bruised shin, it would take a manly sort of man to accomplish. This extends to moving "tall" things that may not be heavy, but because they are large in general, sure put up a fight! In fact, I had to call a man friend to help me haul a mattress up some stairs that I tell you Internet I tried and tried and tried to navigate myself and simply could not DO IT. The two of us though - mainly him - we moved that mattress like it's never been moved before! That's what she said. OH! Snap!

9. Checking on that weird noise in the backyard/basement/bathroom/sunroom/bedroom... Currently, I just turn on the TV to drown out any indicator of potential home invaders, rapists, zombies, etc. If I can't hear it - it doesn't exist sort of psychology. But with a man and perhaps a sturdy bat, my mind would be put much more at ease in a more practical sort of way. Gasp! I heard something... will you go check? I'll dial 9 then 1 then wait to press 1 if you scream! 

10. Anything to do with my car. I don't like messing with my car. Sure, I could learn to jump my car or change a tire. In fact, as an independent woman living on my own, by heaven it's my Super Woman DUTY (and just plain common sense) to learn how to do those things. But I feel that would take away a very manly job from a man who wants to show his man-ness! And who am I to take that opportunity away from a man?   Add change my oil to that list and I'm yours!

11. Man-hugs. Girls like to feel smaller than their male counter-parts as well as protected. I'm sure it goes back to some innate basic instinct cultivated in the cave people days and a good man-hug helps fulfill that basic need in some fashion now that there's no need to go club a wooley mammoth for our winter vittles.  At least, for me it does. I will shamelessly admit that a good strong man hug - siiiigh - that's just the ticket to ease the anxiety of a very bad day. Makes me feel all snug and safe for some reason. In fact, you could call me a man-hug hoe if you wanted! Go on! DO IT! I don't mind. I'll accept a good hearty man-hug anytime, anywhere. Er... but maybe not from anyONE. Man-hug is a good man-job. One of my favorites!

There you have it! A man list of man-jobs I'd like to have a man around to do. Now, of course I CAN do these things myself and have for quite a loooong time (except man-hug  myself - it's just not the same). I just will very much appreciate when I have someone around to help with those things once in awhile. Make this complicated and sometimes difficult existence a little simpler and a little easier. And for my part, I promise to shower most of the time, bake banana bread sometimes, and rub your man shoulders once in awhile. Eh? Eh?!? Pretty good!

Anything I've missed you appreciate about having the mens in your life around? This is a wee list, but it's really the small things, isn't it? I think so. 

To men! And their jobs!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's no chick flick, it's real life. And I dig real life.

Over the last two months, I've had the opportunity to attend some wedding festivities of close friends. Being a 29 year old female here in Utah, you'd imagine I would've attended a lot of wedding festivities in my lifetime, but this actually isn't the case. Other than a handful of receptions here or there, I don't generally find myself participating in wedding things. There's no real rhyme or reason why I haven't been a major "participant" - it's just how it's worked out.

In September, my long time friend and roomie for 8 years-ish got married in to an amazing guy. I had the blessed privilege to see them sealed together in the Salt Lake City, LDS temple and then join them for a ring ceremony and reception later that day. The entire experience was perfect.

This weekend, I attended the reception of my roommate marrying her boyfriend of two years. It was a simple yet elegant reception with creative treats, a dance floor, and video display of the couple depicting pictures from infancy, through childhood, and finally their journey together. This isn't anything I  haven't seen before, but I still found it touching and may have even shed a tear. I'm such a girl... sometimes.

I bring up these two instances because both taught me an incredible yet obvious lesson. Something that probably a lot of you happily married people understand and that all of us single people hope for.  But until these last two months, I never really "got it" like I get it now. The lesson is that each of these friends married their best friend. How truly important that actually is! This truly means something to me now. Not only do they love each other - but the like each other too! What a novel idea!.

If any of you know me, and I expect some of you do, you know I'm not much of a "romantic." Okay, I'm not much of a gooey, cheesey, chick flicky, Austonian type who gushes or flaps at her face when boy meets girl. It takes a lot for me to get the twitter-pates and I generally roll my eyes at most expressions of lovey dovey declarations. For me, most of those cinematic depictions of "love" seem so, hollow, contrived, and... well... just plain silliness. I've tried to self-diagnose this very un-girly ailment of mine, and the closest I've come is comparing my twitter-pation of the X-Files and the respective Mulder and Scully relationship and why that gets me going more than most any chick flick you could possibly name. Mulder and Scully have a relationship built on respect, trust, and deep-seeded friendship. Something I truly admire about any relationship. While most chick flicks, well, it's some sort of immediate twitterpation i.e. lust generally based on a false pretense because someone's best friend bet them they couldn't go out with that hot waitress and subsequently turn the ugly duckling into the Prom Queen while accidentally falling in love with the mother. Or perhaps it's the attempt to convey some blinding irrational passion that takes a person's utter most self control to contain the burning desires within that makes me risk rolling my eyes so fair back into my head they'll pop out my butt. "It's like I've taken love heroine?" Oh shut up, Edward. You're such a wuss! Pull it together!

It. Just. Doesn't. Seem. Real.

So the point... I have one...

Marrying your best friend. The two weddings I mentioned above is what it looks like when people have not only a deep love for each other, but a binding friendship and happiness that allows them to be who they are with someone who wants them for who they are. Two complete people melding their lives together, intertwining their individualness into a greater whole. I heard it said once that love isn't taking two of the same and making them fit - it's like taking two different puzzle pieces and fitting them together as part of a greater picture. It's complementing rather than imitating. I could see this "fitting together" in these couple's faces, their photos, their smiles, their jokes. There was nothing contrived or pretended or kitchy... there was nothing of worry or stress about the days activities... it was all grounded in something that will go beyond that one day and stretch into the eternities. It was not a moment floating on a cloud, but a beautiful solid and progressing reality they can grip tightly. To spend your entire life with your best friend, that someone who laughs at your jokes, makes you feel confident at your worst times, isn't afraid to show you they love you, supports your dreams, and gives you wings to fly, is probably one of the greatest blessings we can ever receive on this earth. I feel in this complicated and sometimes oppressing world, with it's 50% divorce rates, abuse, betrayal, and sorrow, starting something off the right way is key to cultivating something that will beat the statistics and add joy to your life more than it adds any sort of sadness. Starting that off the right way, in seeking a best friend first, is an excellent way to go about it. For the first time in my life, I actually finally get what it means to marry your best friend - someone who is true to themselves, true to you, and allows you to be true to yourself. I'd say if there's a recipe for forever, that's a good one.

Congratulations and best of happiness to my friends who married their best friends! And thanks for helping me understand that I'm not a cold-hearted bag, I just find more love in sharing jokes than sharing spit.


To end with a quote (thanks, E for sharing!):

 "What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you the freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy.”
 - President Gordon B Hinckley

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Something about a Birthday or the Radio Silence is Broken or Dead things, Mikey, Dead things!


A hoy! It is I! You thought I’d given up on us, didn't you? Well, I haven’t… just on blogging for awhile. I elected to take a bloggery vacation and didn't tell anyone... not even me. Sometimes, the tank is just empty, ya know? That generally happens when this thing we call "real world" consumes my thoughts and that other thing we call "creativity" is moved to the back burner for awhile. It's tragic, really. Unfortunate that life becomes so practical we forget to be a little fantastical once in awhile - attempting to keep the magic of life alive between grocery lists and bridal showers and nights at the gym because if you stop working out and fatten up you'll never get marrieds.  These things take time! They take effort! They are a creativity suck.

Moving right along…

This post is actually NOT about dating if you can believe it… not all of it anyway. Nor do i care to hear your thoughts or advice. It was just a nice opener for a much more interesting bit of bloggery.

 BIRTHDAYS!!!! Or more to the point, MY Birthday! And there was much rejoicing throughout the land... a gitless land.

I like my Birthday and I LOVE that it is housed in the greatest month of the year, October! And no amount of poor dating luck could EVER take that joy away from me EVER. Particularly when there is a…

One-Foot-In-The-Grave Party to be had!

That’s right! And YOU’RE invited! Yes you! Mom, no really, you can come.

The idea is that everyone has to show up as something dead or dying. Morbid? You bet! But it combines my top October loves: my Birthday and Halloween. It also honors the return of The Walking Dead on AMC on October 14th, AND allows people to get a little creative early in the month! My b-day being on October 12th. The pictures will be EPIC. 

Also on the Birthday note, I was inspired by my pal Jaime to create a “Birthday List.” This may seem a bit “wow… she’s telling people what to buy her for her Birthday? Psh, presumptuous bag.,” but that’s ONLY because I’m telling people what to buy me for my Birthday. And I actually really like giving presents as much as I like getting them so for those of you out there like me, who LOVE getting presents for people and LOVE me and LOVE getting people what they WANT and LOVE that I’m throwing a One-Foot-In-The-Grave party so you can finally be that dead historical figure you adore without appearing to be a HUGE super geek (pst, I dig super geeks... Call me), then my friends, you have come to the right place!

BEHOLD!

Andrea’s Birthday (could also be used for Christmas) LIST!
(i.e. Don’t care how, I want it now!)

Cozy things: lounge pants, soft hoodies, blankys, full pajama set with frolicking kittens, slouchy sweaters, and thick socks. I don't have enough of them, I never buy them, but I REALLY want them. I want them ALL! I also like sweaters with cats... but not ugly ones... hip ones. Hip cats.

Gap

Target

Gap

Expensive but an example of slouchy hip sweater

UofU bookstore or like, Sports stores?


Gift cards from the below will be VERY happily and even tearfully accepted. I love shopping. That's why I always look so good ;) So help me help you be able to look at me looking good. 


Urban Outfitters
Target
Anthropologie
Barnes and Noble
(I got sick of finding all the links... you're smart people. You can find them)


Soap and Glory's Righteous Body Butter. OR, vats of body butter from The Body Shop. I don't care for foody smells.. more like the musky, floral, fresh smells. Nom, yes. 




Movie tickets. I love going to the movies and there are some EXCELLENT films coming out soon (Skyfall, The Hobbit, Les Miserables... The Hobbit) 



Scarves. Or this scarf



And finally, if you really feel like you need to make a good impression and in fact, have hopes of me falling in love with you.. or at the VERY least... would like me to exclaim in front of everyone "You are the best present-giver EVER!" I present to you the below:



Les Belles De Ricci Perfume

I got this perfume when I was in Paris circa 2005. We were only there for 3 days, but during those 3 days I bought the following 3 things: street bookcart French version of Cyrano de Bergerac, a green floral "echarpe" (scarf) I still wear, and Les Belles Des Ricci Perfume. I ran out ages ago... and I want it back so much.

I'll also take this ;) Oh yes I did. 
Like... $90 


And really, just your friendship is awesome. But if you threw in a nicely wrapped pair of socks, I wouldn't say no ;)


Monday, August 27, 2012

I just don't have anything to say...

Don't worry - I just wrote a really nice long rather poetic post about a variety of interesting things conveyed in ironic and hilarious prose and LOST IT ALL to the devil inside the computer.

Excuse me as I cry myself to sleep.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Swim with the dolphins. Bike with the Cheetahs. Run with the Eagles"


Sundays are rough sometimes. I sleep in, eat a good breakfast, go a-worshiping, and then lounge about reading or watching movies or picking up my room. I guess that doesn't sound too rough does it? Well technically it's not rough at all... though technically because I'm used to a much more rigorous schedule, my body tends to want to stay awake on Sunday nights because of the sleeping in and eating and lounging and yes, the napping, thus here I am passing the time until I can fitfully toss through the night and awaken to a groggy Monday morning. All sunshine and rainbows today, aren't I?

THEREFORE! With my annoyingly ample late night energy and enthusiasm, I felt it was HIGH TIME to do a little bloggery catch up. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

Ahem, There's a little goal I accomplished a couple of weekends ago I'd like to tell you about.

I completed my very first sprint Triathlon! Woah! Good for ME!

I say first because that means I very much would like to do a second. Which seems like your basic sort of crazy talk because I tell you Internet, it was definitely one of the hardest most exciting most euphoric things I've ever done. Ever. Right up there with moving out to college, 6 week study abroad in jolly old England, and surviving the intestinal virus of death in Cambodia. I've been mulling over the experience trying to put into perspective how I felt, what it meant, and why in the world I subjected myself to such a thing. And all I've come up with is... because it felt really good. I know, the imagery is mind-blowing. Real. Good. Real. Mind. Blowing.

Running Cheetah
I've always been the active sort. I started running my first year at Snow College because I had what you might call "baby fat" left over from my high schools days... and I also realized that year that marriage should be a priority in my life. I remember the day when THAT gem actually clicked... I was sitting in my first Singles Ward, a wee girl of 19 and mostly through my first year of college, when I suddenly realized the only reason for Single existence the next x number of years in my life... was to get married. It was a very strange transcendent moment for me actually. Up until that point, dating or the idea of having a boyfriend let alone a husband never interested me. What kind of weirdy teenage female was I anyway??! Not a teenager who would've liked Twilight then or EVER! Mwhahahaaaa! Throughout high school I had shunned the idea and carried myself haughtily amongst the halls of Emery High School exclaiming "The first woman President of the United States does not need a man! She does not care about marriage! A pox on posterity!" Thank goodness THAT was only a phase... the a pox part... not so much the President of the United States part. ;) Vote Cox!

I digress...

Running. I started running to not be fat and also, because my priorities changed and I realized if I were to make this whole dating thing a priority, I should probably try and cute-up a little. Years and years hence, I'm still running, but not so much for the dating part anymore as for the health, happiness, and enjoyment of it. Sure I still think it's important to maintain some sort of appealing (realistic) physique, but running and being active is part of who I am now and if it took some silly 19-year-old reason to help me realize that, it's ooookay. Over the last year though, I felt that it was time to take my running to the next level. Mix it up a little.

And mix it up I did.

I signed up for the San Rafael Sprint Triathlon. I will tell you this, I ALMOST signed up for the Olympic Triathlon and in a rare moment of impeccably apt judgement, decided I had best "ease into" this new venture and signed up for the Sprint instead. I considered the Olympic because a biker and a runner I definitely was and I felt the Olympic offered me a greater challenge in that arena than the Sprint. HOW. EV. ER. Even though I had taken swimming lessons growing up (turns out they were merely not drowning lessons) I was a bit weary of the half mile swim, though at the time I slightly scoffed at the distance. "Psh," I thought to myself, "I can swim two laps around a track..." Little did I know...

For those of you not familiar with triathlon distances... below is a breakdown.

Sprint
1/2 mile swim
15 mile bike
5k run

Olympic
1 mile swim
30 mile bike
10k run

I began my training in early March... and by training I mean swimming. And I quickly found out that swimming is... hard. It's... harder... then I thought it would be. And though I found myself practicing at the pool 3 days a week, by the time race week rolled around... I could barely eek out a mere 400 yards without gasping for precious air. Do you WANT to know how long a half mile swim is? Ohhh close to 860 (ish... give or take) meters. Needless to say, I was completely freaked out.

But if there's one thing I'm not... nor never have been... even when sometimes it would be a very good idea... it's a quitter. I've never transferred a school... never transferred out of a class... never quit a job unless life circumstance dictated it should be so... and have a hard time quitting any sort of relationship, even if it's clearly a very NOT good thing. I've gotten better at the latter... as one does with experience... but I am still that person that once I commit to something, that's it. I'm doing it. And I'm seeing it through 100%. Sometimes it takes me a little time to come to a decision, but once it's decided, I don't look back. I am also very thankful that my first Sprint Tri was in my hometown. That way, should I drowned, I would drowned at home. That's the spirit!

But drowned I did not. Panic? Freak out? Breast stroke? Doggy paddle? Backstroke? Yes... did that. But drowned? NOPE!

 The day of the race I was a bundle of nerves. I watched as the Olympic men jumped in the lake for their first of TWO laps (I tell you if I had to face two laps that day, I would have certainly drowned). Then... the Olympic women. My time drew near.

I found a couple of white faced, vomitus looking "It's-my-first-time-too" friends to walk to the pier with... assessing that they were as completely freaked out as I was.... which somehow made me feel better... and we watched the Sprint men begin.

2 minutes and it would be our turn.

We looked at each other. Smiled our nervous smiles. Some of us starred at the foreboding water... some crossed themselves in pleading prayer... some mumbled their solemn goodbyes (okay, just kidding) and all tried unsuccessfully to wrap our heads around the great expanse that grew between the three large round markers we were supposed to swim around...

and

DING!!

We were off!

And I totally freaked out. I mean, of COURSE I knew swimming in an open water lake with 50 other kickers and strokers was going to be a little different than swimming in my own blue green lane at 24 hours fitness. Well, turns out, it's A LOT different. I felt like I had forgotten everything I'd ever learned. Everything I had practiced. I couldn't get my mind to accept and remember everything I'd done. I went into survival mode and did everything I could, never stopping, to get around those markers. I may have even cried once or twice. I tell you... that swim was the hardest thing I've ever done. When I stumbled out of that water... barely ahead of anyone (including one guy! HA! Girl POWER!), I was confused and weary and deliriously happy to be out of that water. In my mind, I had won the race simply by being alive at the end of the swim! Needless to say, the only Dolphin I was swimming with was some pathetic shrivel finned, half blind, old codger who had wandered away from the Flipper Nursing Home.

 But of course, there was a bike and run left. On to the bike! SO! Leaving the ancient old dolphin to swim in confusing circles, shaking his cane at the sky... I jumped on my bike.

The bike was really excellent albeit difficult as it was a major uphill ascension for 7.5 miles. But where there is grueling ascension, you can count on their being a fantastic dissension and I flew like a bat out of hell down that course! Out of the way desert lizards! I bike with the Cheetahs!!

Next, the run. I will tell you this, I am a runner. And I run fairly quickly for a short-legged hobbit. THIS run however, the only goal I had was to not stop. To never stop. "Do Not WALK!" I kept telling myself with my slow footed rhythm. "You will not WALK! You will run this WHOLE THING." I think instead of running with the eagles, they ran with me... boyed me up the whole time and never let me quit. That's the way of the eagles I suppose. We ran together... always pushing forward. And I tell you this, Internet, never in all my life did I want to walk more than I wanted to walk when I passed the 2 mile marker. However, never in all my life did I want to run MORE than when I saw that finish line... and my mom... and my brother... and the community who knew me and cheered for me and willed me to the end... then I did that day. Me and the eagles, somewhere somehow, found the energy to sprint that last hundred meters and cross that finish line, the first finish line of many in my life, and collapse in pure euphoria and yes, many tears. I'd done it!! And I never stopped.

I know a lot of life parallels can be drawn from such experiences. For me, this finish line represented all the other finish lines I have crossed in my life and those I have yet to cross. Moving out of my home. Going to college when everything about me suggested I should never make it... and then going back and proving myself better than I thought again. There have been finish lines of faith and finish lines of trial. There's the big race of life we're all running made up of thousands of other races, some longer than others, some harder than others, and all of us going at our own pace. I've been running the dating race for a long time and it seems like the finish line will never come... but I know it will. Someday. And then I'll begin another race... the race of raising children... the race of grandchildren...  the race of old age... and many many others inbetween. I guess the point is, in the end, to endure. To finish. To strengthen your hope and resolve to face another race, and this time to do it a little bit better than before. To utilize the knowledge you've gained and keep moving forward, trying it again, and believing that the only limits are the ones you place on yourself. That the finish line exists... and just believing it's there is the ultimate battle.

After the race, I felt really good about what I'd done, except for the swim. I knew that the swim had mentally beaten me. Yes, I had finished. But I hadn't done it in the way I should have... in the way I'd trained to. I had let fear and doubt limit my abilities. For me, sometimes I don't just want to finish, but I want to finish with all of my faculties and might and effort. I think endurance is more than plodding through, it's making the most of it. It's remembering everything you've practiced for and believing, when that fear and trepidation would hold you back, you can say no... I've prepared for this... I'm ready for this... I will not let myself beat me. I will do more than just finish.

So that next week, I went to the pool and for a moment, sat on the edge and starred down it's bluish chlorinated ripples. "I can swim a half mile... I can do it and not stop."

And you know what happened, Internet? I swam a half mile that day... and I didn't stop. Me, who had never effectively swam more than 400 yards on a good day, swam 880 meters that day... because I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable. That if I took my head out of it, I could do it. And I did. And I've done it 4 more times since. And I won't ever swim less than that every time henceforth. That half mile won't ever beat ME again.

So there you have it. Goal accomplished! I successfully completed my FIRST Sprint Triathlon; and you better believe, me and that open water will go the rounds again. And THIS time, without self-imposed limits.


Swim with the dolphins! Bike with the Cheetahs! Run with the Eagles!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Balancing Act

Recently I've had an epiphany. Wait! Where are you going? Fine...

Well for those of you left (Hi Mom!), I've had an epiphany. Truly, it's still somewhat forming... even epiphanizing... as I'm typing this so I apologize if the epiphany turns to rambling and your Google Reader becomes understandingly one blog down. Now that we have an understanding, I'll get on with it.

I've suddenly become consumed. Generally. You all recall the two years when I was going through a Master's program and the only thing I blogged about was how I was in a Master's program and how the old "this is your brain on drugs" ads featuring an egg crackling in a frying pan took on new meaning for me in a, "this is your brain on finals week" sort of way. Getting my Master's was one of the hardest most satisfying things I've ever done. Would I do it again? Sure. Well... Wait! Clarification: if the memory of the horror of academia beyond undergraduate degrees was clear at the beginning of the Master's degree rather than in retrospect would I do it again? Hell no! But I did it and it's done and somehow... I'm still talking about it. And the memory must not be too traumatic if I can see a Ph.d in my future. In my future future future. Fuuuuuuuutuuuuuure-uh! The point is, during those two years, I learned the intricacies of the words "fatigued, exhausted, freak-out, inexplicable weeping" and ultimately "pride." I also learned there were limits, boundaries, and that if I could just push through, work hard, and consume mass amounts of Diet Coke, all would be well.

My friends, life is a balancing act. Am I right? I thought I'd learned that fairly well during my Master's program. Hell, people learn that lesson their whole lives! If it's not balancing school and work and life then it's balancing kids and work and life or work and goals and life or just laundry and friends and work and life. The point is, there must needs be a balance. Once one of these things or two of these things takes over the others, once it ravenously consumes the others, the balance is off and therefore, life is off. One begins to experience great discord. One begins to couple mass amounts of Diet Coke with Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets and large fry. Mmmm... Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets and large fry.

Granted, there are times when things must be more focused upon to keep the others in balance; to maintain the status quo. Work is a very good example of this. Sometimes, you must work harder and longer and perhaps not sleep as well or not eat as well because there are things to do! Stuff that must be done! But even these things will round out and life can once again become balanced; or at least, not so grossly unbalanced you start to wonder if it's all worth it. I mean really really worth it. I think that's the ultimate trick, recognizing when there's been unbalance for too long and rounding something out to bring harmony to your life again. All strings humming at their perfect pitch to create the symphony of our lives. It's a lifetime task... one we must always be working towards yet, accepting that it is in fact a life long process and letting things go once in awhile.  Everyone's threshold is different. I think because I was raised in a small town, my threshold is a little lower than others. I like to take my time. I don't have a stroke if I have a free couple of hours once, twice, or three times a week. In fact, I've found that "city folk" seem to always be here and there and up and down and back and forth and late late late because their schedules are so full full full... brimming and important and I must do these things to be happy and I must double fill every second of my life for my life to be worth living AND! GASP! It used to make me feel inherently lazy... but then I remembered I'm inherently a country girl and country folk take everything a little slower despite being some of the hardest working people I know. I'm reminded of this every time I go home and start having withdrawals from "tasks"... home stamps the city out of me. It's a good thing. It's the tourtise stamping some of the intensity out of the hare.

I digress.

Lately, I've felt my life in all its aspects has become chaotically unbalanced. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, there is disorder. It took me almost a week of inexplicable nausea, headaches, body aches, and yes even anxiety and depression to recognize that the circle I had drawn around myself had been disrupted. My internal Feng Shui had experienced a hurricane. This... was NOT.. .good. And I had let this go to such an extent that I had made myself physically ill. Flashback to my opening thoughts on getting a Master's degree. During that time, though it was busy and difficult and perhaps the work and school part was incredibly outweighing the "fun" and "social" part, I still found ways to create balance in my life. I designated two days a week where I wouldn't touch homework (finals week naturally excluded - you gots to do what you gots to do); I increased my spiritual capacity by praying more, reading more, and making time to serve in the very small ways I could. I took vacations between semesters. I went to a movie once in awhile. I found ways to insert balance outlets into my life... and though I still had a headache sometimes and had unwittingly perfected my Zombie stumble out of sheer fatigue (which I now refer to as the silver lining of this story), I was doing alright. I had safe zones. Places where the school stress couldn't go. Places where I left those parts of my life that were difficult for awhile, and surrounded myself with things that were peaceful. Unbalance in one aspect makes all those other aspects of our lives incredibly more valuable. This was a lesson I relearned over the passed couple of months that culminated over the last week in a toilet bowl (too much?).

SO! THAT, said, what I have done this weekend to restore my Zen? To center my chi. To water my blooming flower (er... what? skip).

I made lists of goals! You: "Of course she did..." Me: "Of course I did!" These lists and goals are lengthy and probably about as interesting to someone else as hours of home video vacation footage driving across the country in a mini-van... so I will just let you in on how I've attempted to balance ma'self this week.

FIRST, I got a massage. RIGHT!??! And I think I will GET a massage at least once a month to counteract the bodily manifestations of living a necessary life by the sweat of my brow! Nothing like a good rubbing to cure what ails ya.

I then bought some flowers; because flowers are beautiful. And beautiful things bring my soul into alignment. Who knew yellow flowers could have such influence. Here I am sniffing flowers... and let me tell you that was NOT an easy picture to take! Holding flowers and getting camera angles and trying to look so serene. Geez! This is why I don't even attempt to take pictures most of the time... the other half of the time is pure laziness. See: country bumpkin.


I also went to Barnes and Noble (because theres IS no NobleS!) and got me a Fresh Food Fast Healthy eating something or other cookbook. I'm of the mind that you are what you eat. No really, I feel that if you eat a balanced diet and exercise, all those other things in your life will probably be a little happier too. Like flowers. I'm pretty sure because I biked this morning that those flowers were much more yellow than they would've been had I not. Go ahead and try it. I'll be waiting here to say I told you so... with those same crazy eyes you see in the picture below.


NEXT!

I read novels. I've found no better way to relieve my angsty mind then by leaving my own adventure and following someone else's for awhile. It's my true escape. It was also the hardest picture to take of the entire lot but I wanted to capture the transcendent reader entering the lives of John Steinkbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. You see it there in my eyes, don't you? The grappling. I also wanted to say "Hi. I'm Andrea and I'm reading the Grapes of Wrath voluntarily because that's how very smart and bookish I am." A picture is worth a thousand humble pies.

Also, here is a picture of my feet. Because apparently all serious bloggers take hundreds and hundreds of pictures of their feet. I don't even pretend to understand this.

Finally...

Jesus. :) OR, making sure my spiritual alignment is my first priority. It is my belief that if Christ is the center of our life, everything else falls into place... everything else balances out.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month and in my religion (that would be da Mo'mons), we have what's called Fast Sunday on this particular Sunday. This means that we fast for 24 hours (usually Sat-Sunday) to more spiritually align ourselves with Christ, to prayerfully approach the Almighty for the needy and sick, to become more in tune with the revelatory power that is the Holy Ghost to help give direction to our lives, and any other supplications the coupling of fasting and prayer can bring one closer to God. I've never been good at fasting... and generally forget about this important monthly ritual. But this Sunday, I have not forgotten and henceforth, I will do my best to always remember. That's the face you see in this picture... my "you better remember!" face.


I plan on taking a Yoga class and maybe I really will make that massage once a month and I'll always love to read, and exercise and buy flowers, but truly, TRULY, I know deep down that if I want to find peace and balance in my life, it all starts and ends with my Spirit. It all starts and ends with Jesus Christ. And that is the most consistent, age-old epiphany we can ever have - that I've ever had - over and over again. What's truly beautiful, is He's willing to remind us over and over and over again... because he loves us. If that doesn't help you find peace, nothing will.

John 14:27:  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We're all a bunch of masochists anyway

I feel Pinterest is it's own sort of subversive passive aggressive evil. On the surface it's this amazingly addictive application with such "fantastically creative ideas/recipes/motivational posters featuring svelte models and toned bodies/ beautiful clothing/hair/makeup/glorious homes and vacations" when really, it's a repository for us to remember all the things we can't do, can't afford, and don't look like. And by we I mean me... because I don't see why it's fair I drag you into my disdain. But do ya feel me? Eh?

OR

It just reminds me that because I work and because I must work out and because I then eat/sleep/repeat that I'm too tired to glue millions of tiny sparkles to Mason Jars or bake and intricately decorate 200 butterfly themed cupcakes or exercise for another three hours or truly write that award winning novel so I can afford to buy that beautiful brass bedframe and comforter from Anthropology that will naturally look fabulous in my rustic two story, woodland cottage in Southern France where I take pictures of children with red balloons tied around their wrists and blonde curls peaking out of their caps.

It just seems its own special sort of torture, doesn't it? I've also been feeling rather sick for three days so perhaps that has something to do with it too. 

Carry on.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Remember that time I went to New York?

Yay me too. And you'd think that I'd be more timely in posting about it; but I'm clearly NOT! I apologize to the wider world for my lack in post-your-vacation-timeliness. I know you've all be wondering what else I did in NYC. Wondering like we wonder if the Dark Knight Rises will deliver as much as the Dark Knight did... wondering like a man wonders if it's really worth spending $50 on a blind date because his Bishop described her as a "sweet spirit"... wondering like you wonder if you rip the tag off a mattress if you'll truly go to Federal prison...

Just trying to give you some context. Anyway...

Well here's some pictures so you can wonder about one LESS thing. Oh... also in case you STARTED wondering if E and I don't look a little matchy match in these pictures, it's because we do look very matchy matchy in these pictures. We dressed the same... and we knew it before stepping into public and didn't change. Take that common sense! What followed was ceremonious accosting of street vendors and tourist traps as well as eye rolls and "psh's" from locals. All in a days work "HEY! We are TOURISTS from the WEST! So bright! So matchy! So great!"

These here pictures is that thar Brooklyn Bridge. Apparently we walked over it "back-ways" since we started in Manhattan and walked to Brooklyn. Never the less, I didn't mind walking backwards sometimes to mentally capture the view. If you think about it, it's almost metaphorical somehow. Almost...


Below you will find several pictures of my travel buddy E, and me with an Eastern Slovak fellow whose name means Hope, caravanning around Central Park in a "tuk-tuk" lady (if you'll pardon the Thai expression). It may seem like he made up his name-meaning because how the hell would we know any different, except for the fact he was hesitant to tell us what his name meant in English since "eets A gurls vame he-ar." Yes, Hope, yes it is.  But it's okay, we won't judge... you pretty pretty Princess, you.  





This here was only a small part of our Central Park tour. Because Slovak Hope took approximately 623 pictures of us in Central Park, we started to get a little creative with our posing towards the end. Here you see the matching travelers looking up at an ornate ceiling in awe. 

And here you see some of NYC's finest wild life... a turtle. In fact, I would go so far as to say this fella will one day a be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as he is already boasting a healthy green glow. You go, turtle.... you go.

Here you see us being very unoriginal but still hip. "Imagine all the peep-all... living..life in peeeheee...eeeeese.."


The below two pictures I call "All I need in life" section... books to be my religion... I mean books and religion. 







Speaking of weird religions.. here's a REALLY great story that nicely rounded out Day 2 in NYC. Oh yes, we did all this in Day 2... mostly. 


Ahem.


After leaving Central Park we had a few hours to kill before meeting up with some friends and going to eat somewhere fabulous I clearly do not know the name of now because that would've been useful for anyone else out there who wants to go to NYC and eat good food. Listen, just eating anywhere in NYC is eating good food. You don't need ME to tell you where to go... just go and you'll wonder how you've lived so long eating the crap we have back in Utah. I also picked up on snobbery whilst in NYC, dahling. OH! I WILL tell you however, you SHOULD find the Waffle Cart lingering around Central Park and get yourself a couple of freakishly good Belgian Waffles. I got two and was not ashamed. Easily the most deliciously delectable dynamics of damn fine dining I've ever experienced. Diggity do.

Where was I...

Oh yes... weird religions. Leaving Slovak Hope at Central Park (more potential metaphors... or band names), we made the decision to trek up and take a gander at the NYC LDS Temple. En route, we decided to quench our thirst a la Powerade at a sidewalk stand. It had been a long day and I was somewhat staring into oblivion on this  random street corner, a very vacant expression on my face which I'm sure was extremely becoming, beverage in hand, when I started to check out a fine looking gentleman walking in my direction. Being a woman who likes men, I like to take time to check out fine looking gentleman if they're about. I noted his navy blazer, his killer jeans and square toed leather shoes. As he got closer, I also noticed his confident swagger, longish rogue hair, aviator sunglasses, slightly deviated septum, my increasing desire of how much I'd like to see him run fast like in the movies, wondering why I hadn't seen Mission Impossible 4 again, and SWEET BABY SURI! I'm checking out TOM CRUISE!

And BOY was I. Mm HM!

I think I made some sort of gurgle gasp noise as he passed not 2 feet by me... a nice companion to vacant stares... so close I could SMELL him... and oh it was a good smell... before I could gather myself enough to paw at E's arm and say "Dude! Dude! Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise!" as he swaggered his way towards the Time Warner building. All gloriously mega-Star Ethan Hawk, Jet Fighter pilot, Australian Immigrant, "you-had-me-at-hello", of him. Twas one of the greater celebrity spottings of my life. And let me tell you, I've had some pretty decent celebrity spottings (cough, Matt Damon, cough, Brad Pitt, cough, Gary Oldman). In fact, there are a total of TWO things in my life I have pretty decent luck with. Very useful things too:

1. Uncanningly good vacation weather luck
2. Celebrity spotting luck - or at least above average. I mean have YOU seen Tom Cruise cough Brad Pitt, cough, Matt Damon, cough Gary Oldman cough and many many others? I thought not. Well I have! Vacant stare... gurgle gasp. Maybe one day I'll make a list.

At any rate, that was DAY 2 in NYC and I felt a good celebrity spotting rounded everything out nicely. NYC in general was a lot of tourist things and that's just how I wanted it. I mean, I couldn't very well go running around like a tourist and NOT do tourist things. If there's one thing I like more than being true to myself, it's fulfilling abject stereotypes.

Stay tuned! Day 3 is gonna knock yer socks off! Much like Tom Cruise  knocked the socks off Oprah!



BAM! No socks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What would make you stay? Well, an act of God mainly

So after announcing my Peace Corps intentions, there were many an encouraging accolade deposited into my various Inbox's, Facebook posts, and other various forms of communicado devices. Those variations of "You go girl!" and "Rock it like a rockstar" really strengthened my resolve to serve and increased my appreciation for all the good people I'm surrounded with. Thank you for supporting my dreams! Even if they are a little...impractical.

That said, I have had one or two (or lots) of people subsequently ask... "So, is there anything that would make you not go?"

The translation of this question is "What if you find someone to marry?"

And of course the answer would be "Well then I'd marry them... der."

But truly folks, save your "well anything could happens" for someone else because I AM going and I don't see it as very likely that after 28 years.... 12 of which I've been dating eligible... and a ridiculous amount of uncanny bad dating luck later... that THIS year will be the year I find some Atticus Finch/Agent Mulder/Indiana Jones/Elder Oaks combination that keeps me from volunteering in the Pacific Islands for 27 months. Yes, that's the combination it would take. So... if you know anyone... ;) But truly, if that happened it would be because God wanted it to... and also prove that he has a sense of humor because really? You wait until THIS year when I'm doing THIS amazing thing to throw a man-wrench in the system? Psh.

OR

Chris Hemsworth divorcing (sad), converting to Mormonism, and finding me as his one true love and proposing before June 2013; I can positively say if THAT happened, then sure, I'd probably consider sticking around. 

"Anything" could happen... but it would have to start happening, like, yesterday. 



(P.S. I will be posting the rest of NYC and DC soon as well as some very deep thoughts I've had about Chick Flicks and the X-Files... good stuff a-comin)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Called to serve...

Several years ago I was riding in a car with a boy who, though I didn't know it at the time, would break my heart into so many pieces I wondered if it could ever be truly whole again. Of course now in retrospect, I am more than whole than I ever have been and thank my stars it ended up just how it did. Yet another indicator of many in my life that God knows a lot more about me and what I really need than I do. I like having Him in my corner.

But I'm not here to talk about all that...

I'm here to tell you that as I was riding in the car with this boy, it was Halloween or near Halloween, and it was somewhat a pseudo-date-hang-stupid-thing going to this party and that party together.Clearly very promising foundation to build upon. Oh the red flags we spot in retrospect. As we were playing the “get to know you” game, I don’t recall what question he asked me nor the vein of the conversation. I do remember however, that I mentioned how I had been looking into the Peace Corps and was considering applying to serve as a volunteer. His response to that, to this wee barely 22 year old starry eyed girl who wanted so much to impress this, silly boy, was laughter, mockery, and patronization: “HA! Peace Corps is for bitter old  ugly chicks who can’t get married. It’s for tree-huggin hippies and pot heads.”  He proceeded to make fun of anyone who would choose such a path because it was clearly based on bitterness, loneliness, and boredom.  The thought that people would choose to join such a worldwide service organization for experience, perspective, and the vast opportunity to do something outside of yourself was inconceivable to him – particularly why a woman would want to do such a thing (ya know, instead of have babies... cause you can't do both). And any woman who wanted to participate, well, that wasn’t a woman for him. To think I could've figured out that he was not someone I wanted to be with in those first 2 hours of interaction instead of wasting 24 months trying to prove to this person I was worth it. I guess we all have one of those.

But I'm not here to talk about that either...


Entering the Peace Corps didn’t stick that year. I had college, I had other plans, I had growing up to do and I can’t say it wasn’t because of this naive boy’s ill-informed opinion and narrow perspective (who, by the way, is now around 33, still single, living in perpetual man-childishness and to my knowledge, has yet to kiss a girl… soooo… I win). I can’t say it was. All I can say is, 6 years removed from that car ride that I can still as clearly in my mind as the night it happened, the timing is more right now then it was then for a lot of reasons. It’s more right now than it was 3 years ago when I almost submitted my application again after getting laid off from my first teaching job. But... didn't. Why? I don't know. Because. Because it wasn't the right reasons... the right time... and I wasn't the right person yet.

However, all that shifted because as you know, I submitted my application to be a Peace Corps volunteer  and the reasons are my reasons and, I believe, God's reasons and all the reasons I know a lot more now why it's time to press forward in more profound ways then it was 3 or 6 years ago. What’s more, none of those reasons for joining or previously not joining have anything to do with being single and angry and bored; and that's a good feeling. Contrary to popular local culture, my life does not revolve around my marital status. Rather, I want my world to revolve around nothing to do with me at all. I want my gravitational pull to be towards other people  – and that’s why…



 I will be serving the good people of the
Pacific Islands for 27 months starting June 2013. 

I guess the best thing I've gotten out of this experience so far is the stark realization I'm not that barely turned 22 year old riding in a red Jetta with a boy who doesn't know what he is missing. I win again.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The White Wizard... approaches

Naw, it's not the white wizard. It's actually two events I signed up for like a FOOL that approaches. When signing up for such things months and months in advance, the feeling of ease that comes from seeing all those ample unfilled squares of my calendar in between this day that is "today" and "that day I have to do the Triathlon" or "that day I have to run 13.1 miles" is, it turns out, short lived.

Because time marches forth. The pressure mounts. And suddenly, out of NOWHERE, June is here and Lord, love a duck! June is the month right before JULY which is the month right before AUGUST! What have I been DOING!?!? Well, I can tell you what I've NOT been doing.. and that's training as much as I probably should be.

Particularly for the swimming portion of the Triathlon. I'm going to drowned. Drowned real good... real fast. Though at least my life will end where it surreptitiously began... in ye old Huntington Utah. There's some comfort in that.

Then of course, there's that pesky half marathon in August. Not dreading that as deeply since I was suckered into running almost 9 miles a couple of weekends ago so what's another 4.1? Child's play.

Thus - with said events looming, I've constructed the following schedule. Admire the color codes! The efficiency! The hope! The ambition!

I'm very good at making plans and organizing... but could probably work on follow through. I guess now's a good a time as any to start working on that too!

Onward!