Dear 2013: I Won’t Miss You

Dear 2013: I Won’t Miss You

Most blog writers like to do an end of the year recap about how wonderful the past year has been and all of the blessings it brought to their lives.  But I’m not going to do that.

Quite honestly – I’m not going to miss 2013.

This past year was cast in a shadow of waiting. Always waiting. I spent the entirety of 2013 in some stage of the Peace Corps application process — waiting for clearances, waiting for my invitation, waiting for paperwork, waiting for clarity, waiting for my time to come. I felt like I was in a constant state of limbo, unable to control my fate. I could only control my mindset — and my patience.

But as much as last year was marked by the word “wait,” I like to think of 2013 as my rebuilding year. Football coaches often say they’re having a “rebuilding” year when it’s time to start over. Start from scratch. Cut out the excess.

That’s what I did. In May I graduated college, said goodbye to all of my friends, and moved back in with my family in Texas. I made tough choices and cut things out of my life that weren’t benefiting me anymore. I added things to my life that would make me stronger and happier (see here). I was in the unique position to start over and take control of my life. It was agonizing, and it was liberating. I worked every day to become the person I wanted to be.

So while I’m thankful to 2013 for helping me find my center, I was more than happy to see its tail end. And in the spirit of living out of the shadow of wait in 2014, I didn’t sit around on New Year’s Eve and wait for the year to change. I went to the movies with my family and skipped the countdown entirely. I’m done waiting.

I feel confident and strong and beautiful and healthy. I’m more ready than ever to move to Morocco and find adventure. Cheers to you 2013 — and good riddance.

Here are some of the things that helped me find my center in 2013:

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Special thanks to those friends who stood by me through the thick and thin of 2013, and for always supporting me (you know who you are). Special thanks also to all those who hosted me in my travels this past year — Charlotte, Boston, NYC, DC, Vegas — y’all were truly my guardian angels.

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[Cancelled] Half-Marathon Hopes

[Cancelled] Half-Marathon Hopes

This morning I was supposed to run my first half marathon.

I got into running, for the first time in my life, this summer to cope with stress and to get back into shape. When I first started out I had no intention of running a race. You see, running has never really been my thing.

I played softball for ten years. I was a mean third baseman with a quick arm and I loved stepping between the lines of the softball diamond more than anything else. I was a fierce competitor, regardless of whether I was playing a knockout tournament with my travel team or a casual pick up game at school. I ran like hell to first base every time and usually found myself stealing second.

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But here’s the thing: the distance to first base is only 60 feet.

Sure, I could outrun almost any throw to first base… but if I ever had to round the bag it was a different story. (Just kidding.) I’ve always been quick speed. Run like hell, get dirty, make it home. I’ve never had endurance. I’ve never been a runner.

No one was more surprised than me when I registered for the 2013 MetroPCS Dallas Half-Marathon back in August. I needed something to motivate me through the next five months before I started in the Peace Corps, and this seemed like a good solution. At the time I had never run longer than three miles.

Over the next four months I ran…and ran…and ran. This morning I was supposed to run my first half marathon.

But it was cancelled.

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On Thursday, north Texas was hit by a winter storm that blanketed the region in snow and several inches of ice. My town was turned into an ice skating rink overnight (that’s not a joke either — people have actually been ice skating on the streets). And since I live in north Texas, that means we don’t have any sand or salt to lay down, or snow plows to clear the roads. The Dallas Marathon was cancelled for fear of safety concerns for runners and those travelling in for the event, and it won’t be rescheduled. My heart sank when I received the news. Don’t get me wrong, there was no way I was excited about the potential race conditions. As if running 13.1 miles wasn’t hard enough, let’s just throw in 30 degree weather and having to dodge pockets of ice. No thanks.

It’d be easy to think that all of my hard work was for nothing — but I know that isn’t true .Even though I don’t get to run my first half marathon today, I know that I’ve learned so much about myself during the training leading up to this point. When I first started training I was sore after a three mile run. When I first started training, five miles was a “long” run. Somewhere along the way those mileages increased and I found myself looking forward to my runs. And then craving them. My body, and my mind, needed them. I learned that I can be a runner

During my training I learned that running isn’t just about your physical strength. In fact, it is my mental state that can make or break my run. When I believed in myself I could run several miles longer than I planned, and when I was having a tough time sometimes another 60 feet seemed impossible.

But I never quit. After running dozens upon dozens of miles, I learned that I can push myself through anything. And something simple like a cancelled race isn’t going to change that.

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So, I didn’t get to run my first half marathon this morning. So what? Next year I’m going to run one in Morocco instead.

In the meantime, I decided I need a new goal. I’m going to run [at least] one mile a day until I leave for the Peace Corps on January 13. That’s 36 days. Let’s go!

My HOBY Story

As many of you know, I have been involved with the Texas North chapter of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program since I was a sophomore in high school. This week I was asked to share my story online with this year’s newest HOBY ambassadors. You can read my original post on this year’s blog, or read on below!

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This year’s HOBY Texas North theme – “Riding Roughly West” – is a powerful reminder of my own HOBY journey. I moved to Texas from New England when I was in 8th grade, and man did I hate it. The people were too nice, I was too far from my friends, and I really didn’t like country music. Needless to say, the culture shock was immense. Thankfully I made friends who forced me to join clubs with them in high school, one of which was Student Council.

During my sophomore year of high school I was called to the guidance counselor’s office, out of the blue. I didn’t know what was going on – was someone in my family sick? My counselor told me I had been nominated by my Student Council advisor to attend HOBY for my outstanding leadership potential. I couldn’t believe it. Me? I was shocked that someone believed in me and honored to be the sole nominee from my school.

HOBY truly turned my life around – by giving me the courage to unlock the leadership potential I had been hiding inside for so long. To be the person I always knew I could be. The confidence I found at HOBY has propelled me forward to accomplishing goals I have always dreamed of, and then continuing to dream bigger and push harder. I have made lifelong bonds with many of the people I have met at seminar over the years. HOBY is my family – both literally and figuratively (you’ll meet my mom, brother, and sister too!). Thank you to all of my Jaguars, Blue Bandits, Noisy Neighbors, Impulsive Immortals, Dynamic Ducttapers, and all HOBY staff for the memories that will last a lifetime.

Two weeks ago I graduated from the American University in Washington, DC, with a degree in International Development specializing in sub-Saharan Africa. While in college I studied abroad at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, tutored in underserved areas of the city, and worked for an organization that builds schools in Sierra Leone. Later this year I will begin my next adventure as a member of the Peace Corps. The inner strength and leadership I have learned at HOBY over the years has made each of these dreams possible.

Moving to Texas and participating in HOBY have taught me that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. To me, “Riding Roughly West” means embracing the unknown and tackling new challenges head on. So when you see me at HOBY Texas North this year – this is my 7th year!!! – you best believe I will be wearing my cowboy boots, singing country songs, and saying “y’all” with the best of these Southern natives.

What will you do today to conquer your unknown?

The Impulsive Immortals – HOBY Texas North 2010

My Summer Manifesto

Hi there! It’s been a while. One of my goals this summer is to start blogging again… so here we go!

While we’re talking about goals, here is my Summer Manifesto:

The Summer Manifesto was inspired by a great blog that I follow regularly, who in turn got the idea from this blog.

I have already started working towards these goals, but it was great to finally write them down and make them “official.” Hanging it up on the fridge as a daily reminder will go a long way to achieving all of them!

Progress on my goals so far…

  • I’ve lost 6 pounds while on The 17 Day Diet (today is day 5 of cycle 1)
  • Offered a phone interview for an internship in DC
  • Ran 12 miles this week (+ biked another 4)!
  • And here is my first blog post since living in Cape Town!

Summer 2012: I’m ready! Let’s do this.