Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Steve & Beth, Thanks for letting me join your family for my first-ever-away-from-home Thanksgiving. So thankful for you two! Dear Blue Skies and Sunshine, Loving this weather. Way to be awesome, Denver. Dear Ladies Ski Trip, Can't wait for next weekend!!! Even though I may have to limit my skiing to one day, it's going to be an amazing ladies weekend in the mountains. Dear Swim Suit, How awesome is it to be perfectly comfortable slipping into a bikini in the middle of the winter? Bring on the hot tub next weekend! Dear CrossFit, Two things: if you're in Appleton and considering CF, now is the time to do it. Josh is offering On Ramp for HALF PRICE. Seriously, CF Vanguard is top notch. Second: Only three more weeks in the squat cycle and then it's time crush some PRs. CANNOT WAIT. Dear Frontier, I hope I'm able to change my flight around so I can be in Oshkosh for the Placement Exchange... 300+ higher ed/res life/student affairs positions in 33 states? Yup. I need to be there. Dear December, I'm not one to wish days away, but if December 24 could just get here, I would be ok with that. I'm ready to be on a plane to see my family. Dear Self, It's ok to be stressed, just keep a positive attitude. Not all seasons of life are going to be easy or comfortable, but you have to keep going forward and working towards your goals. The hard work will pay off in the end.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Taking Stock

Saw this on a few other blogs and thought it would be a creative way to organize my thankful-thoughts. Plus, I love lists.

Making: my dreams come true.
Cooking: sweet potatoes and bacon. err'day.
Drinking: almond milk egg nog. oh yes. i went there.
Reading: all the deets for my action research project. time to earn this masters degree.
Wanting: christmas with my fam.
Looking: at the mountains. every day.
Playing: scategories to pass time at the salon.
Wasting: the last few sips of coffee in my mug.
Sewing: *crickets* ...someday.
Wishing: on the stars.
Enjoying: every day life.
Waiting: for my ladies ski trip weekend.
Liking: my life.
Wondering: what my future holds.
Loving: my tripod gang & watching baby schuler kick. 
Hoping: for continued happiness.
Marveling: denver weather - blue skies, sunshine, 60 degrees. mountains in the background. breathtaking.
Needing: to slow down.
Smelling: bacon.
Wearing: spandex & fleece.
Following: my dreams.
Noticing: little details.
Knowing: i'm loved.
Thinking: about food. lots of food.
Feeling: just a little bit giddy.
Bookmarking: recipes.
Opening: papers & group presentations.
Giggling: with the tripod gang over nonsensical messages.
feeling: abundantly thankful.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Letters

This might be a little true. -High Fidelity
Dear Snowy Weather, I am really excited to see the snow, but I'm already missing the blue skies and sunshine. Dear Thanksgiving, Next week! Already! Whoa. I'm especially thankful that I have somewhere to eat turkey and be around good people (Thanks, Steve & Beth). Dear Bank Account, I'm basically a  poor college student again. I bet you didn't miss these days. Sorry. I'm working on remedying this situation, I promise. Dear Job Search, It's not too early to start looking, right? I'll have a masters degree in just about two months! Dear Denver Ladies, Between Friday happy hours and midweek breakfasts, I'm feeling pretty darn lucky to have such great friends here! Dear Roommate, I sent you text that said "She fell off the couch, but she's fine!" without attaching the video of Gemma chasing a light on the wall and losing her footing on the back of the couch. Sorry for the mini heart attack. Dear CrossFit Colfax Friendsgiving, The box Halloween party apparently got a little crazy, I'm excited to see if turkey and stuffing has the same effect. Dear Self, Always remember that happiness is a journey, not a destination. If you're happy today, nothing else  matters. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

{Music Video} Aaron Espe - Hanging by a Thread

This song plays on my Ben Howard Pandora station. I dig it.

A Season of Growth

I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately on my two months in Denver- on my reasons for coming out here, my reasons for staying, and how both of those thoughts make me feel. 

I am the first to admit that my first few years out of college were full of life lessons for me, many of which I learned the hard way. Luckily, I had some of the very best friends by my side as I learned, and made mistakes, and re-learned lessons. And even more lucky is that those ladies are still by my side. 

But time changes people. And after learning and re-learning life lessons, you really have no choice but to change...unless you actually enjoy learning the same lessons over and over. I didn't. I was ready to change, and ready to be the girl I really wanted to be. But I knew I had a few lessons to learn still, and they were lessons I couldn't learn if I stayed in my comfort zone in Appleton. So I packed up my car and moved to Denver.

I talked a bit about why I left in this post. Now that I have been here for two months, I can say with confidence that I did the right thing. I left my comfort zone and feel like this is provided the perfect opportunity for me to learn even more about myself than I have in the last three years. And the best part is that these life lessons were not learned the hard way - they were learned my way.

If I had to pick the top five things I have learned since moving, I would say:
  • I have it in me to move to a new city, alone, and make it. This has been amazing for my sense of independence. 
  • I can make friends if I put the effort in to get out of my house. Yes, I really did worry about this before I left. I know I can be a bit of a homebody, but I also knew that I needed girlfriends here or I would never survive. I am so happy to have found some really great girlfriends who have helped make Denver feel like home.
  • My faith is a lot stronger than I realized. Especially in the first few weeks, my mom told me to "let go and let God" multiple times. And, guess what? I did it. Some things are out of my control, and I'm finally learning to be ok with that. 
  • I am comfortable in my skin, I know who I am as a person, and while I appreciate what others doesn't change who I am. 
  • I feel like a damn rock star when I accomplish a goal I set for myself. 
Now, a few people have asked if I'm planning to stay out here, or if I have plans to move back to Wisconsin... Well, those are difficult questions for me to answer right now. My easiest answer is to say that I'm waiting to see what February brings. I'll be done with Masters and can start my job search. Yes, I will likely look at jobs in Wisconsin. Yes, I will be looking at jobs in Denver. And yes, my job search may even reach other cities and states.

This adventure has brought every bit of confidence and excitement that I wanted it to. And it was just enough change for me to re-energize my soul and refocus my goals. That doesn't necessarily mean that I'm ready for it to be over. But there are also other goals I have for myself and for my life. So, for now, I am going to enjoy the adventure I am in. Come February, I plan to be in a season of discernment as I search for my next adventure.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Blast From the Past

Our mind does funny things with memories. Mostly in the way memories come back with just the slightest provocation. Some are more obvious- a liked photo on Facebook which spurs a conversation. Some less so- a quote on an assignment sheet. I'm a very emotional person; I don't think anyone who knows me will deny that. As such, every little memory I have draws emotion from me.

The Facebook photo, and subsequent conversation, flooded my mind with the feelings surrounding the thought of what could have been...and maybe what still could be. Only time will tell. 

The quote reminded me how I got to where I am, where my confidence to make a life-changing decision came from. It reminded me of the person who saw through my game, saw the fear inside, and told me I could be better. 

Not all memories are good, and they don't all bring forth good feelings. But today, today I am focusing on these two memories which have sparked conversations with people from different, yet not so distant, times in my life. My present life is fantastic. And these additions from the past are more than welcome. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday's Letters

 A few favorites from a recent hike near Gray's filter on any of them!

Dear Colorado, You.Are.So.Beautiful. Seriously, it should be illegal. Also, high 60s/low November? With abundant sunshine? I knew I moved here for a reason. There are still a few stubborn trees with bright leaves, but neighborhoods are also starting to decorate for Christmas. I'm loving it. Dear Grad School, Holy moly. Second to last class. I am almost done. I excited? Or terrified? BOTH. Dear Wisco Friends, You really can start visiting whenever you want... :) Dear Family, While I am already anticipating how much I will miss seeing you on Thanksgiving, I am really looking forward to a fantastic Christmas with you in Arizona! Dear Tripod Gang & JB, Missing you three like crazy. That's all. Dear Self, "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." -Franz Kafka

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Eleven Things

There is a little game is going around Facebook right now. But I hate being one of those people with an annoyingly long status. So, I'm going to do my eleven random facts here instead, post it on my wall, and see if I can get out of continuing the cycle (not likely...)

1. I just started my second to last graduate course, which means I am officially done in 10 weeks.
2. Tomorrow marks my eighth week in Denver.
3. Last week Tuesday marked my sixth month of CrossFit. I have never been so comfortable in my own skin. I love everything I get out of CrossFit, much of which cannot even be seen.
4. I could talk about CrossFit all day, tend to bring it up in every conversation I have, and don't care if it annoys you.
5. I have mostly eliminated all dairy and gluten from my diet. Not just because it's the "paleo" thing to do, but because I was sick of feeling sick every time I ate. You can tease me about it as much as you want, I don't care. Because a happy gut = a happy Crystal.
6. I am in the process of finishing the last two chocolate chip pancakes (yes, they are gluten, dairy, soy free) from the batch of 8 I made this morning. Hormones do crazy things to me, and I don't always have the self control to stop it.
7. I eat bacon at least 5 days a week. Sometimes I feel bad having a vegetarian roommate, but she doesn't seem to mind.
8. I am terrified of graduating and not being able to find a job in my field.
9. I am seriously considering going on for my PhD right away, but would rather wait until I have some amount of experience in my field.
10. I still stop dead in my tracks at least once a day in awe of the fact that I get to live in this city, that I made this dream come true, that I have made it this far.
11. My faith, in God and humanity, grows every Sunday when I spend time with the littles at my church.

What I get from CrossFit...and then some.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Letters

I'm not usually the traditional type, but there's something undeniably romantic about a dozen roses being delivered to you at work. 

Dear Mom, I'm so glad you're here! Here's hoping this visit holds us over until Christmas. Dear Snow, You were gorgeous this morning. I'll be perfectly fine if we continue to get snow just like that all year. Dear BC, You're sassy, and the roses were embarrassing. It's a good thing you're nice. Dear Grad School, The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be shrinking. Just keep swimming... Dear Self, The fact that you stop at least once a day and think "I can't believe I get to live here!" speaks volumes about how right this decision was. There's beauty and lightness in this season of your life- embrace it. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday's Letters: Denver Edition

 BIG thank you to the Blackstock/Carlisle family for helping 
me explore the amazing scenery Colorado has to offer.

Dear Denver, There may have been a bit of a flood issue when I first arrived, but I can't help how at home I feel. Dear Friends & Family, I miss you all so, so, so much. I'm all settled into my apartment now. Feel free to start visiting! Also, a major thank you for all of the support. The last three weeks haven't always been easy, but having such fantastic people to support me has been a real blessing. Dear Heather & Gemma (The Cat), Thanks for being such welcoming roommates! Apartment 27 is an amazing little home, and I'm so glad to share it with you. Dear Avalanche, That was a rocking season opener & an amazing first NHL experience! Dear both jobs, You all rock. Thank you for helping me get acquainted with my job, with the organizations, with the people. I feel so good about both positions I have and am grateful for all that I'm learning.  Dear Thursday Night Dinner, It felt so ridiculously good to really belly laugh and smile...for 8 straight hours. Thanks to PaleOMG for the get in my belly/he had two full plates honey ginger apple shredded pork recipe. I like finding recipes that make me look like a good cook! Dear Self, I am so proud. Three weeks in and never once have I thought about picking up and going back home. I'm living my dream, and I am finding my stride. I can do this.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trains vs. Roller Coasters

I haven't been sleeping very well the last few nights. I'm in a new city, a new home, a new bed. There are sounds I don't recognize, and so much to think about and digest. At one point last night, I woke up, and was just thinking about how my first days in Colorado have been. Full of ups and downs, excitement, nerves, fear. It got me thinking - you can travel your life one of two ways: like you're on a roller coaster, or like you're on a train.

Trains are very direct, calculated, safe. When you travel your life like a train, you focus on your destination, and the best way to connect point A and point B. Bumps, twists, and detours are rare and can be cause for crisis.

Roller coasters are built to withstand all of the twists, turns, loop-de-loops. Those are the parts that make the ride fun, interesting, and worthwhile. When you travel your life like a roller coaster, you expect all of that excitement. It's also probably what you scares you the most...and yet you still do it.

So, here I am. I've chosen to travel my life via roller coaster, and I'm currently mid-air on a loop-de-loop. I'm terrified. My stomach is in my throat. My eyes are welling with tears. My knuckles are white.

But once I hit the downturn of this face will have the biggest grin plastered on it, and my belly will be full of butterflies. That's the feeling that makes roller coasters worth all of the fear. And it's the anticipation of that feeling that is making this season of struggle worth it to me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Words

I wanted to write a blog post about my trip out west. About how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking. But I didn't feel like I had any words to describe it. And then my friend asked me how I'm feeling. He said he was trying to imagine what he would feel- excited , nervous, happy, sad, proud, scared.  

Yup. I feel it all. I think the top two are excited and scared shitless. Which makes me nervous. Which then reminds me that this isn't mine to worry about, I'm doing what I've been called to do. So then I feel a strange sort of calm...

Honestly, this whole adventure started because of a gut feeling while I was on a plane, flying in to Denver for a layover on the way to San Diego. I could just feel it. That now was the time to go. And when you're going off of that, off of something so out of your's scary. And yet calming. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Here's to Us

Sometimes you hear a song and it just makes you think. That doesn't happen often with the hard rock I tend to listen to, but this Halestorm song definitely got me.

This is for my girls. The girls who have showed me true friendship. The girls who I have fought with, made up with, and had the best times of my life with. The girls who have seen me through my darkest hours, and celebrated my greatest moments. I am a stronger, happier, and better person because of them. 

I can say with 100% honesty, I don't know how I would have made it through the last three years without them. We have been through heartbreak, job loss, moving (and moving again. and then again. and again), birthdays, weddings, babies, new relationships, road trips, countless girls nights, bonfires, and a few too many drinks. 

When I look back at this time of my life, these faces will shine the brightest. I have no doubt that these are the friendships people write about, and truly believe that we'll be friends until we are old & grey. These have been the hardest years of my life, but have also been the best because of my girlfriends. 

There are so many people who have influenced me and made memories with me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My life wouldn't be the same without the ladies in the Girls Night Out meetup. You're all amazing. 

But when I heard this song, I thought of three girls in particular. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. A million times over. Love you ladies!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Permission to Fail

Last night, my mom asked me how I have managed to weather the storms life has thrown my way in the last 6 months. I told her that it's a combination of a few factors...

1) Counseling. Having a non-judgmental, unbiased, caring person there to listen has made a huge difference to me. My therapist allows me, and even encourages me, to feel every feeling. And then she helps me reason those feelings (because I'm too logical for my own good, sometimes) and learn how to use them to grow.

2) Diet. In the past, stress meant that I would lose my appetite. That's still the case. However, I have learned how to use food as fuel, and have learned how certain foods impact my mood. When I feel stressed, I know that I need to keep eating, but also know that I don't want to fall into a pit of poor eating habits. Instead, I have certain healthy foods that are reserved for those ultra-stressful times. This makes those foods feel like treats, because I really only eat them when I am in a difficult place. And having them planned in advance helps me make better choices with my diet during those times.

3) Here's the one I actually gave the most credit to - CrossFit. Whether you agree with the physical regimen or not doesn't matter. CrossFit has taught me how to fail, and how to gain confidence in every fail. I walk in to my box a couple times a week, and more often than not, I look at the WOD and wonder how I'm going to make it through. And then I do make it through. Every. Single. Time. It isn't always pretty, but I have finished every single WOD I have started since May. But there are still skills that I have not mastered. I have yet to do a strict pull up, or muscle up. I am still doing double/triple singles in place of double unders. I will probably be doing modified rope climbs for another year. But that's all ok. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever thought, and I have more confidence in myself, and my body, than I ever have before.

So when my mom asked how I have weathered the storms, I told her that I have learned that it is ok to fail, because it means I tried. That in itself is a success, and I take this lesson with me in every area of my life.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday's Letters

A favorite from my Door County trip, plus some great advice
Dear Life, Isn't it funny how we can know in our hearts that something is right, yet we still ache with pain? Maybe not funny, actually. Dear Friends, I'll be planning a going away party/happy hour sometime in the near-ish future. I'd love to see as many of you there as possible! Dear Colorado, I'm coming for you!! Looking like my hit the road day will be September 9! Dear Future, Please, please, please be easy on me. At least a little bit. I'm not asking for everything to go my way, but if I could just get a job really quickly when I get to Denver, that would save me a lot of stress and anxiety... Dear Self, Keep praying. Keep focusing on your dream. Keeping being better than yesterday. 

Linking up with the beautiful Ashley Slater! Head on over and check out her beautiful photography & see her adorable baby bump! :)


Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Favorite Place

Last week, I went camping in Door County for three days. With my recently broken up with ex-boyfriend. Weird, I know. But we had reserved the site 4 months ago, the weather was going to be beyond ideal for camping in July, and we wanted to end on a good note. So, we (as in, he) packed up the camper, our bikes, our kayaks, and two coolers full of food and off we went!

Door County is my absolute favorite place in Wisconsin. I love everything about it - from the hustle and bustle of the tourist towns, to the gorgeous views, and everything in between. Below are some highlights from the trip. Despite being the end of a really great chapter, we had a great time and I honestly think everyone should end relationships with a peaceful camping trip.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taming the Ugly

Have you ever noticed how ugly people get in bad situations? Whether it is a fight, lost luggage at the airport, a holiday gone wrong, or a breakup...people show their ugliest colors. Why is that? 

Wouldn't kindness help the situation more? Wouldn't your true, beautiful self be more encouraging in difficult times? 

Why is it easier to get ugly, when things get ugly? Because it makes you less vulnerable, and prevents your true, beautiful self from being rejected and hurt. 

It's so sad to watch this happen with other people. People who you know are good, sincere, levelheaded. And it's embarrassing to see it in yourself. To look back at a situation and think, "gosh. I really didn't put my best self forward. That's not actually how I want to be remembered."

After a particularly ugly situation recently, I've decided to be more conscious of these situation, and be deliberate with my responses. I only want my pretty colors to show through, even when everything is going wrong. 

After all, if you stay calm and pleasant during a nasty situation, your positive presence just might be what other people need to feel to get out of their own rut. (Or maybe not. Some people are just ugly.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toughen Up & Be Soft

Contradictory title, right? But I feel like that is the message women get from society these days.

Let's look at this in terms of a break up. Because, why not?

At this point in my life, I have been through a few break ups. I have cried over ended relationships. I have talked my friends' and family's and my therapist's ears off over ended relationships. I have tortured myself with the "what if" and "woulda, coulda, shoulda" games. All of this emotionally jarring, and physically exhausting work...just to end up right where I started, back to being single.

So what's the point of letting all of those emotions out? They hurt. They hurt you physically and emotionally and mentally. Why even bother making yourself vulnerable in a break up and exposing the raw emotions that the situation has given you?

Because it heals. It heals your heart, your mind, and your soul. You need to learn to feel those emotions, and then express them, and then grow from them. So go ahead and cry. And vent. And annoy everyone around you until they just stop listening.

And then toughen up. 

You can only feel sad, defeated, broken, and lonely for so long. The emotions are good, they're healthy, you need to feel them. But they stop being productive if you wallow for too long. You need to toughen up, find strength in yourself to move on, and grow stronger as a soft, emotional, tough woman.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why I'm Leaving

I get this question a lot. More often from some than others. But I think it's a fair question, and I feel I have a very reasonable explanation. Even though I don't actually think I need to say more than "because I want to!"

I have fantastic people, relationships and friendships in my life. I have a home here, multiple really. I have a job. I have good connections. 

But...I'm leaving. Why?

I didn't go to Europe. I didn't go in college and I didn't go this summer. It's time to stop dwelling on that and take action. I regret not studying abroad and not traveling when I wanted to. I'm not going to let myself regret not living outside of Wisconsin. 

I crave an adventure. Sure, I can find/make adventure here. But it's still safe adventure. As long as I am this close to home, and to the amazing support system that I have in friends/family, failing is easy. While I have learned a decent amount of independence in the last 5 years, I feel like I hit a plateau, and the only way to get over it is to push beyond my comfort zone and leave my safety net behind.

I feel stuck. Am I happy with life, right here in this moment? Sure. I really don't have many complaints. But like my independence plateau, I feel like I have hit a solid life/career plateau as well. I'm in the middle (exactly!!!) of my masters program, right in between switching careers. I really don't feel like I can reach my potential here. I feel like I will always be held down by some invisible ceiling. Likely built by me. So I need to go somewhere that doesn't have expectations or preconceived notions of who/what I am. And that includes my own thoughts of myself.

It's time for a change, and this just feels right. Do you ever get that feeling? That little voice, flutter of your heart, and peace of mind that tells you 'yes, that is the right path for you'. Yup. I'm following that. It's led me to really difficult places before, but also to really fantastic places. In both cases, it's always turned out for the best, and I don't doubt it will now!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Professional Learner

I just got an email with my application for graduation. A few things come to mind with this little development.

1) HOLY COW. I am half way done with my masters!
2) Even though I'm in an online program, I am invited to be a part of the actual commencement ceremony in Portland, Oregon...sweet!
3) Time to start looking for a doctoral leadership program. Wait, what? Fine. I'll get a job first. Maybe. Can't I just be a professional learner?
4) Um...I still have to do an action research project. And decide what/how/where/when I am going to do my research. But I still get to apply for graduation!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


As has happened many other times in my life, I picked up a book, seemingly at random, and am being completely moved by it. 

I have a huge decision to make in the next few months. Depending on how I look at it, it is either a lose/lose situation, or a win/win situation. Either way, a sacrifice must be made. I have had a rough time with this. Until today, when I read this, from Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven."

"'Sacrifice,' the captain said. "You made one. I made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost.

"You didn't get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school. A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father.'"

And so it is. This choice, the decision between which sacrifice to make, it is important, it is vital for me to learn and grow and live. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear handsome dude, You're a great roommate. Thanks for always sharing dishes duty and letting me cook for you sometimes. Dear job hunt, This is getting interesting. Here's hoping something sticks! Dear Wisconsin, thanks for having a gorgeous summer! I love the diversity of our seasons. Dear grad school, still kicking a 4.0. I'm lovin' it! But can we work on the reading requirements? A bit outdated if you ask me. Dear self, listen to the advice you give others, pay attention to your happiness, rekindle some fires. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Twenty Five

Well, I've been 25 for almost three weeks. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I want to go back to 24. I have also been a terrible blogger. I apologize. I'm going to try to make it up to you today by giving you 25 updates on my life. Sounds exciting, right?! Right...

1. I'm mostly doing this just to get some words out of my brain so I can concentrate on my homework.
2. I might be addicted to coconut milk ice cream. But it doesn't give me any negative side effects (running to the bathroom and/or clearing a room) so I think it's acceptable.
3. I'm slinging coffee to the masses on a fairly regular basis nowadays. I must say, that Copper Rock really is a pretty fun place. I remember thinking that being a barista would be a relaxing second job. I laugh at myself now! But at least I'm having fun.
4. I am still rocking a 4.0 in grad school. I just finished my fourth class, which was brutal and I skimmed by with an A. On to class five. After this one, I'll be half way done!
5. I can't imagine having better parents. Really, I can't. They have both been so fantastic the last few weeks (ok, the last 25 years too) and I don't think I'll ever be able to fully express my love & gratitude to them.
6. I really want to move to Colorado in September.
7. But I may have, kinda sorta, 100% fallen in love...with this handsome dude.
8. I pray multiple times a day for guidance. And truly believe that God will lead me where I am supposed to be.
9. Saying goodbye to the ABC boys was one of the hardest things I've had to in recent memory. Those boys are going to do big things and I can't wait to watch it all unfold. I'm so grateful that I got to be part of their journey.
10. I run my first 5k of the summer in less than two weeks. The last time I ran more than 400m was in April.
11. I missed an entire week of CrossFit. I could be really hard on myself about it, but really, my shoulder needed the break. I'm ready to jump back in tomorrow though!
12. I really love CrossFit. I don't care what the haters say about it being a cult. I love how I feel after a WOD and I have never felt this confident in my own skin.
13. You remember that handsome dude I told you I fell in love with? I'm officially living with him, in Oshkosh. I love this adventure!
14. I am enjoying (and also hating) learning what foods my body does and does not like. Gluten makes me bloated and tired. Dairy makes me gassy and poopy...sometimes at the same time. Peanut butter makes me gain weight. Oatmeal fills me up very well. Rice is iffy. Potatoes make me crash and burn. I love most fruits and veggies, and luckily so does my body!
15. My girlfriends are up there with my parents as being the best...ever. I don't know where I would be without the fabulous ladies in my life.
16. I'm taking my handsome dude camping in Door County in July. He's never been. I can't wait to show him all of my favorite places!
17. My car gets amazing gas mileage when it is used predominately on the highway. I'm very grateful for this considering I am officially and Oshkosh to Appleton commuter.
18. Even though my future is full of confusion and contradictions and unknowns, I am incredibly happy with where life is right now, in this moment. 
19. I found out a few weeks ago that I can wear kids shoes. This is a major bonus because they're usually half the price of adult shoes. That's awesome for a girl on a budget!
20. I bought a new bike in May. I love it, and can't wait to learn my way around town a bit better so I can ride it all over.
21. I loathe Wisconsin politics lately. I am a politics junkie, but hearing some of the things going on in our state makes me sick to my stomach. I used to love listening to WPR every morning to catch the news, especially for the Capitol Report on Monday mornings. I can't do it anymore.
22. I still have this little dream of going into politics some day.
23. I miss dressing up for work. I live in workout clothes and coffee shop outfits and am constantly itching for reasons to get dressed up.
24. I've been missing college a lot recently. I think because I was just as broke then as I am now, but didn't have as many responsibilities.
25. Even though I have no idea what it is going to look like, I know in my heart that everything is going to turn out right.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Good Food

You know what I like? Desserts that don't make me bloated. Thank goodness for Happy Bellies Bakery! 

Everything is gluten free. Most is dairy free. Quite a bit is low-glycemic. And some of it is vegan. 

How can you go wrong with that?! (Let's ignore the use of soy as a dairy substitute, can we?)

Now, I want to get a few things straight about this new "Paleo diet" of mine. 

First, I actually hate calling it Paleo. The reasoning behind the name is that "research" says this is what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. After watching this TEDTalk, I don't buy it. We can call it Paleo because it's easy, but it isn't historically accurate. 

Second, it isn't a diet. It's a lifestyle. I don't ever feel like I'm restricted in what I eat, therefore I don't consider myself on a diet. 

Third, the way I feel, and the way my body reacts, when I eat following the "Paleo" lifestyle is incredible. I have dramatically cut back my gluten and dairy intake. Did you know that it's possible to make it through a meal, an entire DAY, without feeling bloated?! I had no idea. I had no idea I could go a day without making jokes about my trips to the bathroom or my gas after consuming dairy. (TMI?!) Now I know. 

So that's where I am. I'm still going to eat cupcakes from Happy Bellies, even though they aren't "Paleo" and I'm still going to snack on cheese every now and then. What this lifestyle change has done for me is made me more aware of my body's needs and the things my body may not like. Because of what I have learned, I'm going to continue to cut out gluten and other grains and I am going to keep my dairy to a minimum. I'm going to keep experimenting to learn how my body reacts to certain foods (has my acne lessened because of my sudden cut off of peanut butter?!) and I'm going to keep eating to make my body feel good. 

There is no miracle diet or food lifestyle. The important thing is to follow your body's cues. The food you eat should make your body feel good. Adverse reactions to food (headaches, gas, bloating, tiredness) are NOT normal, and they can be avoided if you determine the food instigator. 

(And I'm stepping off my high horse now...)

Go try a cupcake from Happy Bellies! This is the green tea shortie. Delicious!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sweat and Tears

Until about 7:05pm today, I had never cried during a work out.

I have tried the gamut of workout routines: from yoga to running to group exercise to boot camp. Nothing has made me work as hard as CrossFit does. Nothing has had me in tears trying to take my last round of push ups deeper, or finish my workout in under 6 minutes.

But nothing has ever made me feel as proud of myself, of the strength of my body, of my ability to keep pushing after I felt I should have been done.

I officially drank the kool-aid. And I like it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Life Changing

Do you remember the specific moments when your life changed dramatically? Do you remember how you felt?

I feel... excited, hopeful, grateful, happy, nervous, loved, supported. 

A few facts:
I turn 25 in 4 weeks.
I have spent all 25 years, with the exception of four 8 month periods, living in Appleton, WI.
I visited Denver, CO in 2004 as part of a senior high work trip through MPC.
I fell in love with Denver and have wanted to go back since the day we left.
I am craving an adventure.

I made a life changing decision a few weeks ago, and the plan is officially in motion with details falling into place in ways I never expected.

It is time for me to take a leap of faith. To listen to my gut and my heart.

I am moving to Colorado. 

I am packing up Stella (my little red Corolla) and embarking on the 17 hour drive. I am going to find a job and a cute apartment, finish grad school in the mountains, and hopefully land a dream job at one of the many universities in that beautiful state! As of now, the plan is to leave in September, after a summer full of races and a beautiful cousin's wedding. If a job calls me out there earlier, I'll make things work. I am open to every possibility this great adventure gives me.

Another really important fact: I have the best, and most supportive, friends, family, boyfriend and board! This was a long, and sometimes painful, decision process, but in the end, I feel so good about the direction my life is heading!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Three Years and Love with Limits

They say that when you break up with someone, it takes half as long as you were together to fully get over them. Three years ago today, I broke up with my high school sweetheart, my best friend of seven years, my would-be husband. Technically, if you believe what "they" say, I should need another half a year to fully get over that relationship.

I believed then, and still do fully, that breaking up was the best thing to do. I also still regard it as the hardest decision I've ever had to make. But I'm still feeling the ripple effects of that decision today. Three years later, I can still remember exactly how I felt on the phone that night. I can also remember how I felt the three months leading up to that night. And I can remember how I felt six months prior - before any of the doubt, fear and anxiety set in.

One of the three mini-sermons at church yesterday was on limited love. Love with limits. Our love for another person will always have limits. We can never provide every bit of love that another needs. It just isn't possible. The only place to find true love with no limits is through God. God loves his children unconditionally, flawlessly, without fail and without end. Our human love is the opposite- conditional, flawed, failing and ending.

I saw the relationship that I thought would last my whole life disintegrate. The relationship I thought would have no end, ended by my own words. I read a quote once that said something about how you never really forget your first love, a part of you will always be with that person. After three years, I can say that's absolutely true. Don't get me wrong - it's not like I am comparing new relationships to that one, but it's still always with me. That relationship, and even more so - the ending of that relationship, taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined.

Together, we survived the ups and downs of friendships, the death of family members, divorce and marriage of parents, legal issues and changing majors. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for that relationship. But it has been three years since we broke up. Two years since we exchanged words. He's been with other women, I've been with other men. I am not the same person I was three years ago, or two years ago. I am no longer held to that relationship the way I was for so long. People have stopped asking how he is, if I've heard from him. We are separate people now.

A part of me will always be with him, and I believe the same of him with me. I learned three years ago that love has limits, and I have not been the same since. 

This year, I learned what God's limitless love feels like, and I have not been the same since. Wherever I go, whatever I do, whoever I am, however I feel, God will love me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Way With Words

This song. This song got my attention this morning while doing homework/studying at good 'ol Copper Rock.

Maybe it was just the melody. But maybe it was a little bit the words too.

My whole body and soul is aching for an adventure. For a fast car adventure, to an unknown city, with nothing but big dreams and a good love.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Body in Conflict

I always hear that the times when you are most conflicted are the times you'll have the most growth. I sure hope that's true. I have seen it be the case in the past, and hope it is now too. I have a few other conflicts going on, but the one I'm sharing body.

Remember this post, and this one? Well, since then, I have been pretty committed to working out 3-5 times per week, sometimes up to 7 or 8. I'm not doing anything extravagant like CrossFit or P90x or anything. But I'm sweating and I'm getting my heart rate up and my muscles are sore. 

Here's the problem: I have virtually no energy to speak of during the day. I have gained somewhere between 6 - 9 pounds. I went up a pants size. 


The weight gain is the only part of this that I can accept. Muscle weighs more than fat, I'm gaining muscle, blah, blah. But I shouldn't be getting bigger, I should be getting leaner. And I definitely should have MORE energy, not less. 

I have all of these great ideas, some my own, some from friends. Eat Paleo, use Shakeology, keep track of calories, give up grains and dairy for 15 days. 

I suppose this is more of a complaining post than anything else. And maybe a kick in my pants post. Committing to any or all of the above ideas is not impossible. But they will be difficult given my living situation as I will likely need to figure out my own dinners and eat something different from the boys most nights. I am not about to convince our cook, or the boys, that Paleo is the way to go (even though, I secretly think it is). 

So my mission for the next 3 months is to slowly work my way to Paleo so by the time summer gets here, I will be ready to go full Paleo. Well, maybe a modified Paleo still, but better than I'll be able to do  right now. I am also going to try to incorporate some more science into my workouts and meals; figure out what my body composition is, how much I'm burning during workouts, what I need to fuel my body pre-workout and what I need to repair post-workout. I feel like I have found a decent rhythm with my workouts, and when I have a full week, I love the reaction of my muscles. Now if only I could get the rest of the benefits in order...

Also, my first truly intentional Paleo meal. So delicious. And I have never felt this satisfied from a meal before. I seriously wasn't craving anything after I was done. I did still have a little bit of lactose-free ice cream...Taylor's fault. 

Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken Pasta via PaleOMG

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Letters

Have you ever done a raspberry and had someone snap a picture during it? TRY IT. 
You'll end up with photos like the two above (I promise he is doing it in both pictures) and laugh for a long time.

Dear Readers, Sorry I have been absent lately. Life got a little busy! But have no fear, I am back. Dear Grad School, Tomorrow marks the end of class #1!! Only 9 more to go. Dear Boyfriend, You went from Valentine to Boyfriend...I like it. You make me smile. Thank you for being awesome. Dear Wisconsin Winter, I try really hard to appreciate every season - they are, after all, what I love most about the midwest, but this year has kind of made me want to jump ship and move out West. Dear Body, Can we please clear these communication lines? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Dear Friends & Family, I love, love, love you all. A member of my church (and PEO sister) suffered a stroke last weekend and is slowly making recovery steps this week. Her husband's posts have reminded us just how short life is, and how important it is to express your love. So, again I say...I love, love, love you! Dear Self, "Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me." Psalm 5:8 {Ps - these scriptures come from the bottom of my weekly instruction notes for cool is that?}


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday's Letters

Top: 1989 vintage port wine that was accompanied by an amazing Carmella's cupcake.
Bottom: my valentine surprises

Dear MacBook, Seriously ready to throw you against the wall. This has got to stop. Dear Valentine, You're alright. Dear Group Project Member Who Decided Not to Do Any Work on Our Project, Get out of an online grad school program if you don't have the time to commit to it. I did your work this week and think that's ridiculous. Even more ridiculous? You STILL haven't responded to any of the posts on the discussion board. Sweet. Dear Life, Knock on Wood. That's all. Dear Self,  "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil; to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A recap and cuteness

I finished the Night Train. I went on the date. I didn't send the text.

The Night Train was delicious. I guess this girl can like stouts. I almost wanted to hate it. But I'm not going to think fuck a beer. I finished it, I liked it, it's out of my fridge.

The date was definitely a success. We stayed up way too late talking and I was exhausted at Copper Rock yesterday. We have another date tonight. I'm feeling pretty good but have my natural skepticism. That skepticism is stronger than usual, but think that is for the best. If there's one thing I learned from Stevens Point it is to take things slow. If it's meant to happen, it will; it doesn't need to happen over night.

I didn't send the text. (Pat myself on the back) I think I just needed to write it out. I'm happy that when I looked at it again the next day I had a different feeling. Again, I'm not going to be the girl to force myself into his mind just because I can't get him off of mine. If it's meant to be, it will be.

So, there's that. And now? Cuteness overload. I present to you...the siblings.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bootstraps and Panties

Well, I drank the Night Train. Rather,I am currently drinking the Night Train. That means it is time to put thischapter to rest and let the next one unfold.

You see, back in November I startedtalking to this guy online. It was right around Thanksgiving. I had done onlinedating last winter and then put my focus on myself for thesummer and fall. Oh, and the ABC boys. And work. And work. And work. Butsomething about the holidays always has a way of reminding me just how single Iam. So in a moment of weakness, I reactivated my account. Not two days later, Iwent back on and cancelled it. But the thing is, I had already paid for amonth, so they were going to give it to me anyhow. Whatever. I didn’t have timeto date, plus none of my initial matches struck my fancy. It was just the dayafter I had decided to ignore my impulse purchase that I got an email from agreat looking guy out in Stevens Point.

I was busy with holiday stuff, plus mycomputer was acting up and my iPad isn’t really compatible with the datingsite. So we exchanged a few emails here and there, but after two weeks Idecided to just give him my number. He was going to be in the area for abachelor party and wanted beer recommendations. Well, that was easy. By the endof that first weekend we had found common ground: work was stressing us out.The next week was full of all night conversations (seriously, I don’t think Iwent to bed before 2a that whole week). We were on the same page witheverything. Originally we had planned on him coming to Appleton on the 22nd.My boys would be gone and we could have a full day to hang out. But by Thursdayof that conversation heavy week, we knew our first meeting had to happensooner.

I told him to name a Sunday and giveme his address and I’d be there. At first he said he’d get back to me in themorning (it was about 2:30a). We said goodnight. Ten minutes later I got thetext with his address that said “this Sunday”. Holy cow. 

Friday and Saturday were full ofbutterflies and nerves and excited texts. We decided to do a beer swap. Each ofus would pick out our 6 favorite micro-brews and switch with each other.

Our date was as perfect as a firstdate can be. I broke every rule in the single girls handbook – I drove to acity where no one knew me, on a day with a horrible forecast for snow and windand travel, and met a guy from the internet at his house. But it was perfect.Conversation was comfortable and easy and natural. He held my hand and openeddoors and never took his eyes off of me. I started feeling an excitement thathad been hibernating for nearly two years.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind.Our nightly conversations were still lasting three or four hours, but theystarted to get more personal, more deep, more future-focused. Things weremoving so fast. But I was so happy to follow his lead. It felt as natural as Icould ever ask for. I spent four days at his house after the holidays. I hadjust lost my job, and he offered a retreat from it all. We spent those daysgetting to know each other even better, looking at rehab ideas on pinterest,sipping coffee at 6:30a and eating hummus at 6:30p. I met his best friend fromwork. And then all of his colleagues. I bonded with his pets. I was so happy,so comfortable. I felt at home.

We connected in a way I forgot was possible. I fell hard for this boy. And it felt so mutual. I felt pursued, which made me feel attractive, and happy, and Lord was I giddy. He saw me through a pretty rough time, but he did it because he was empathetic. Not just sympathetic. He knew my feelings and felt them right there with me. And every time that happened, we grew closer. He made me feel real, and I brought lightness and smiles to him. We were flying high for those few weeks.

And then the world caught up with us.I let down my guard and lost my footing. Nothing awful, he just saw anotherside of me. I was his date for a friend’s wedding, and we were confronted withreality. Something happened to our relationship that weekend and we weren’table to recover from it.

I was devastated. I immediately made an appointment with my therapistbecause I had been here before and I wanted to know if I could change theoutcome. I couldn’t. But this time it wasn’t because I pushed too far, triedtoo hard, said too much. This was on him. But let me tell you, that didn’t makeit any easier.  

For two weeks, I poured over everylast detail. I cried. I turned to my best friends to try and help me sort thisout. I wrote. I prayed. I spent hours on pinterest and blogs finding quotes tosoothe my aching heart. I cried some more. And then I stopped. Because I didn’thave time to hurt like that. I had school and work and 5 high school boys tocare for. So I picked myself up by my bootstraps and I put on my big girlpanties (I bet you were wondering about the title) and I grew. I grew strongeras a woman in those weeks of hurt. Stronger as a single, 20-something,independent woman.

When we first started talking, beforewe even had our first date, he invited me to a concert with him. The concertwas last night. Obviously I didn’t go. He didn’t actually ask if I still wantedto, I guess that was a given. And today, I have a text ready to send to him.And I’m drinking the last of the six beers he gave me on our first date. TheNight Train. How appropriate since my text opens by saying I dreamt about himthe other night (totally true, and weird because I NEVER remember my dreams). And it was a Night Train of a dream.

I don’t know if I’ll send the text.I’ll finish the beer. I’ll go on my little afternoon date that I have. I’llcome home and reread the text, decide if I still feel it. Either way, myboostraps are up. My big girl panties are on. This chapter is closing because Iknow I’m better than this hurting girl. I am stronger and happier than thatgirl. And there are people out there who see that, and people out there whodeserve to see it. I’m not going to let them down. And I’m not going to letmyself down.