Sunday, November 28, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Phew!  The last couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind - I have:  made a quick weekend trip home to deposit Nellie at my mom's house, travelled to New Orleans for an anthropology conference, driven home again to spend Thanksgiving week writing a paper, getting a cold, running a 5K Turkey Trot, baking 3 pies, spending time with Aaron, friends, and the fam, including TWO back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners. My goodness.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  And frankly, seeing as how I'm about to be launched into the three busiest weeks of the semester, I don't see things calming down any time soon.

So...  Before things get too hectic, I'm taking this evening to relax a little (Wizard of Oz, anyone?), regroup, and make a quick list of the things I've been most thankful for over the last year.  So, in the spirit of Thanksgivings past, I decided to share that list with you...

1.  I am thankful for the slightly new path my life has taken, which allows me to continue to go after my goals and dreams every day.  It wasn't easy last year, it's not easy this year, and it won't be easy for a long time to come.  But going after one's dreams isn't supposed to be easy.  If it were, it wouldn't mean as much.  Moving to a new town, all by myself, has presented all sorts of new challenges to me, but I am thankful for them because they make me stronger.

2.  I am thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me every step of the way.  No questions asked.  Ever.  They (YOU) believe in me and remind me to believe in myself, even when the going gets really tough.  And they celebrate with me when I have success.

3.  I am so very thankful for the new little addition to our family.  While we all know it was a bumpy road at times, his presence in our lives has brought the three of us (my mom, sister, and I) closer together than we've ever been.  A good friend told me once before he was born, "You may not be able to imagine a life with him in it right now, but once he's born, you won't be able to imagine your life without him."  Truer words never spoken.

I could honestly go on for quite some time, but it's getting close to my bedtime.  Thanks to each and every one of you for the ways in which you have touched my life.  I am a better person for it.

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Hello Blog World!  It's been far too long, I know, I know.  I'm sorry!  It's just that I've had all this homework lately and I feel so guilty if I spend too much time writing something - anything - that isn't homework.  It just seems so... indulgent... you know?  In fact, I don't even really have time to write today.  I have this take-home midterm that needs to be done.  But I thought I'd take just a few seconds to check in and say hi.  Also, I needed a way to procrastinate because I haven't decided which question to answer next.  And I've already pet Nellie, eaten a chocolate chip cookie, filled up my water glass and looked out all my windows.  Isn't it amazing how dirty the blinds get?  And isn't it even more amazing how much I want to clean them right now?
Anyway, I'd better get back to work.  I hope everyone out there is having a nice, relaxing Sunday evening.  Obviously, Nellie is.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Adventures in MidMO

I was hoping for and expecting a relatively easy week this week, school-wise, since the last few weeks have been so stinking busy.  Instead, I find myself with too much to do and too little time to do it in, just like last week, and the week before that, and so on and so on.  I don't have a lot of time to share all of my deepest thoughts with you today, but even in spite of the busyness, I want to take a few minutes to tell you about the last week or so and share a few pictures with you, as well.

Last week, my mom came to visit for a few days.  We did plenty of shopping (and I spent plenty of money - but, to be fair, most of it was on much needed decorative attire for my apartment) and plenty of eating, and it just so happened that the Husker volleyball team was in town to play (and beat to a pulp, I might add) Mizzou.

We also did a little exploring outside of Columbia.  Imagine, if you will, the hilliest, winding-est road you've ever seen.  Now, picture me driving on it, screaming at the crest of every hill, SURE I'm driving us right off a cliff.  It was fun.  And I really could have used a drink, but I settled for a cheeseburger, fries, and a peanut butter cookie.  The drive was well worth my several near heart attacks, though, because the town of Rocheport, MO is quaint, cozy, and charming (which is why I took so many pictures), filled with B&B's, and with a scenic cross-state bike path passing through the edge of town.

We had planned to have dinner at Abigail's, but found out they're closed on Tuesdays, so we "settled" for the aforementioned comfort food at the trail side cafe in town.  It was pretty darn good.

Lucky for me, Aaron came into town the following weekend.  First order of business:  Abigail's!  The food was pretty darn good (especially the pumpkin cake with caramel drizzled over the top); the company was better.  Although, that company is hard to beat.

All in all, I've been having a fair amount of fun - probably more fun than a graduate student should be having...  And now, it's time to get down to business.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Surprises and Birthday Cake

Last Monday night, my birthday eve, I was sitting at home buckling down on some homework when my phone rang.  I had a brief conversation with Aaron, the boyfriend, which he ended sort of abruptly.  It seemed strange, but he said he was coming back from the grocery store, so I didn't think too much of it.  Thirty seconds later, my doorbell rang.  Guess who it was????
This guy!!!
That's right!  He drove 5 hours after work on Monday to come down and spend my birthday with me!  I'm a lucky gal, I tell you.  

I was really bracing myself for a crappy day on Tuesday.  It's not that I'm such a non-adult that I can't handle spending my birthday alone (maybe).  It was more a combination of homesickness and that feeling of just not fitting here yet (which you all read about last Sunday).  I had all sorts of homework this week, including a take-home midterm that was due Tuesday afternoon, so we spent a good portion of my birthday working across the table from one another.  But, I didn't care one bit.  It was one of the best birthdays I've ever had.  I think the ONLY thing that could have made it better would have been one of my mom's famous cat cakes.  (When I was younger, my mom made me a birthday cake in the shape of a cat every year.  I picked marigolds from the front yard to put around it.  It was awesome.)

Fortunately, my lovely family ordered a mini-cake for me to pick up from Hy-Vee.  Aaron and I broke into that baby at 4:00.  We very nearly ruined our dinners...  

I'll say it again.  I am seriously lucky.  Along with my surprise visit and the awesome cake from the fam, I received happy birthday wishes from, like, 80 friends!

Sometimes all it takes is one good day to propel you forward.  I'm already feeling better than I did last week.  I had a successful week school-wise, I have taken some time to start organizing things in my home office and hope to have that all set up soon, and in general, I've felt happier.  I got a lot of great advice from you all last week when I asked you how you deal with tough times.  You told me to not deny my feelings, but also not dwell on the negative.  You also told me to tackle the small things one at a time because they'll add up.  And my very wise mother told me it's time to set some goals.  Thanks to all of you that took the time to offer your two cents.  Things are looking up!

... and it doesn't hurt that I had such a fan-freakin-tastic birthday ...

Have a great Sunday!  We're cold down here...  : )

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tough Times: How to deal?

What better way to start a beautiful Sunday morning than with a piping hot cup of coffee, toast with homemade apricot preserves, a cool breeze coming in through the windows, and Meet the Press?  ...  Wait ... What?  Yes, I chose to turn on Sunday morning political TV today.  Yes, that was a mistake.  I'm not going to go all partisan on you here or anything (and that's really not the main point of this post anyway), but I would venture to guess that no matter what party line you toe, you feel pretty damn frustrated/hopeless/angry/disgusted right about now?  Join the club.  No, starting off one's Sunday morning listening to Politician X talk about what their party is going to do to make our country better (when neither of those parties seems to actually ever vote with any of us in mind), is not ideal and was definitely not a good decision this morning.  But, I digress.

The point of this morning's blog is to include all of you (maybe talking politics right off the bat wasn't the best way to do that?).  I want to hear YOUR opinions, thoughts, etc. on this conundrum I've been dealing with, or not dealing with...  whatever.

So, last week, I was on a particularly grueling run, up and down the hills of Columbia, pretty much hating every step.  As I ran on, I started thinking about my mental state.  Was the way in which I was thinking about my run ("This is really freaking hard!", etc.) affecting how I felt?  And would it make my run easier to instead tell myself it was easy and I was having fun?  Then, as those thoughts usually do for me, my quandaries about running quickly turned to quandaries about life...

It would be fair to say that this transition hasn't been an easy one for me, at least not all of the time.  I went from a program where I was familiar with the people, had several close friends, was well-respected by the professors (although, if Dr. Osborne ever read one of my blog posts, I think he'd be utterly disgusted by my excessive use of parentheses...), I had written a thesis on a topic that people found interesting, etc., etc.  In short, I felt pretty darn good about myself when I walked through the halls of my old department.  And now...  I'm the newbie again.  I'm back at square one.  I don't know many people, I'm having to build new friendships (which is always a good, but slightly scary, thing), I'm having to prove myself to new professors and a new advisor (or at least that's how I feel), and I don't have a freaking clue what I want to research.

Also, I've been back and forth between Lincoln and Columbia twice in the last few weeks, trying to squeeze as much of my homework into the weeknights as I can, leaving little time for things like unpacking my boxes of books or doing something to arrange my "office," which right now looks like a junk room with piles of crap everywhere.  And, don't get me wrong, I have loved being able to go home to see everyone - especially the new baby! - but now that I know I won't be going back for a month or so, I've been getting twinges of homesickness every now and then.  (Come on, people, I'm almost 29 years old, for goodness sake.  Homesick???  I blame the baby.)  And I've been feeling sort of down about the fact that I'll be spending my birthday alone this year, for the first time ever (although, Aaron's coming down to celebrate with me next weekend). 

So, yes, I can easily say that this last month and a half or so haven't exactly been easy.  I tried soothing myself with some hot tea and a chocolate chip cookie one night this week.  It worked for a while anyway.

Which brings me back to my question.  How should one look at a situation like this?  Should I tell myself it's not so bad?  (Because, really, in the whole scheme of things, it's not awful - it just isn't great... yet.)  That it's a piece of cake to build new relationships with new people?  That I've been through difficult transitions before and I can do it again?  OR...  Do I just ACCEPT the fact that it's not easy right now?  Do I allow myself to really feel it and all of the emotions that come along with it?  Because if I trick my mind into thinking this is simple, am I robbing myself of living in the reality of the situation and, therefore, robbing future Katie of having an experience to draw from when she needs it?  Also, I don't necessarily think it is a positive thing to constantly try to trick yourself into feeling better or ignoring the not so happy feelings.  But, if I keep thinking about how un-easy this all is, will I get swamped by negative feelings and emotions, unable to see the good?  

So, back to the run...  A few blocks away from my house, as I'm seriously suffering, I come out of my cloud of thought, look up, and suddenly realize that I'm actually running downhill.  I couldn't see it before.  So, I turned on the gas, stretched out my legs, and sailed home.  And when I walked in the front door, I felt really proud of myself for making it through such a tough run, and having the guts and the energy to sprint through the finish.

What do you think?  What do YOU do when you're faced with difficult times in your life?  Do you tell yourself it's not so bad?  Or do you accept that it isn't easy and just keep pushing through until you get to the other side?  Is there a happy medium in there somewhere?

p.s.  On a VERY  positive note, it looks like Mother Nature has finally brought fall to Columbia!  Maybe it's my birthday present from her?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Break out the cigars!

It seems like my posting has been dwindling at an exponential rate lately.  I'm disappointed, but hope that once things steady out with school and the new living arrangements, I'll return to regular posting.  I've been super busy with homework, but also...  I'M AN AUNT!!!

Isn't he ADORABLE???????  I know most of you have heard all about it and seen all the pictures, but I just had to put this little cutie out there into the blog-o-sphere!  Baby Dwayne will be one week old tomorrow, and I was lucky enough to get to go home last weekend and meet him.  It's safe to say...  I'm in love.  : )  I mean, yes, he's precious, but he's also a cuddler!  He snuggles right up on your chest and sleeps away.  I could hold him all day...  But, alas, I had to put him down and come back to Missouri.

With all of the traveling over the last couple of weeks, I really have yet to settle into a routine with school, workouts, homework, etc.  Now that I'll be home (in Missouri) for a few uninterrupted weeks and weekends, things should calm down and I hope to feel more settled.

I'll check back in with you soon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Be Clear...

About a month ago, Aaron and I were waiting at Bread & Cup for our awesome pizza to be delivered to the table and we were having a light conversation about appreciating the here and now, rather than wishing we had something different.  We were talking specifically about a topic that is no doubt on nearly everyone's mind right now...  The weather.  Yes, really.  (Feel free to scoff.  Just don't stop reading yet.)

The topic came up because, in the heat of late July/early August, I had been reading all sorts of comments, on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., about how everyone was ready for summer to be over and for fall to start.  Although deep down, I agreed, we talked about the fact that in a few short months, we would all be longing for the warmth of summer and cursing the freezing temps and feet of snow on the ground, and the idea that maybe it is better to fully accept and appreciate summer now, while we have it, than to prematurely look ahead and wish for fall.  Sounds nice, right?  And I'd say I successfully managed living in the heat (oops! I mean "here") and now for at least three weeks.  Well...  I am here to TAKE IT ALL BACK.  I rescind my comments.  I want fall RIGHT NOW.  Yesterday, in fact, would be lovely.

Maybe it's been the extreme humidity or oppressive heat of this summer.  Maybe it's because I spent most of my time in exile in my basement writing my thesis and now the outdoors are shocking my body and mind into submission.  Maybe I've just reached my limit and I can't possibly sweat any more.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I really hate walking a few blocks to class and having to stop in the bathroom to dry off.  I also hate having to plan my whole day around the fact that I know I'm going to sweat out two liters of water on a half hour bike ride to school.  It really makes me want to drive.  PLUS, I'm totally sick of all of my summer clothes.

And on top of all of those things, I LOVE fall!!!  It is unquestionably my favorite season.  I love the fact that daytime is jeans and tshirt weather, but the evenings warrant a sweatshirt.  I love the colorful trees, the falling leaves, and the crispness in the air.  I love pumpkins, apple cider, oatmeal, hot coffee, chocolate chip cookies (come on, who really wants to turn on the oven when the heat index is 103?), and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.  I love volleyball season and college football season.  In fact, my very favorite memories from the fall are from lazy Saturday afternoons, college football on TV, windows open with the breeze blowing in, all while I nap on the couch.  Is it clear?  I.  LOVE.  FALL.

So, just to be very clear, I'm through with summer.  I want it to go away and stay away - at least until next May when I'll likely be over this.  Period.  The end.  Who's with me???

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comfort Zones

Greetings from Missouri!  I know it's been a while since I last posted, but things have been just a little busy...

A week ago, my mom and Aaron helped me pack up and move nearly all of my belongings to a new town, in a new state to start a new PhD program at a new school (the move went smoothly, by the way, except for the fact that my cat screamed the ENTIRE way and nearly lost a tooth in a moment of cat carrier panic).  I have spent the last 7 days cleaning, organizing and decorating my new apartment, attending new classes on a new campus, and organizing a new office in which I started a new job (well, it's sort of a job, I guess).

Guess what?  Change is kind of scary.  But you know what's scarier?  Stepping outside of my comfort zone, over and over and over again.  I have lived in new places and started new jobs more times than I can remember (ok, I remember how many places I've lived in - 6), so you'd think I'd be a pro by now, right?  I mean, I even moved to a FOREIGN COUNTRY, for goodness sake.  Even so, the comfort zone thing still freaks me out.

For the last two years, I was living at home in the town I grew up in, going to school on a campus that I have walked around on since I was little.  I rode my bike to school on paths and streets I was familiar with, I shopped at grocery stores and Targets that I knew well.  If my tank was running low, I knew where the nearest gas station was almost anywhere in town.  This move has forced (allowed???) me to step out of those major comfort zones, and while I am really enjoying school, my new place, and the town, I'm still pretty much constantly aware that my zone of comfort is nowhere to be found.

Today, I finally had time to walk over to the Student Rec Center on campus (which, by the way, is the NICEST rec center I've ever been a member of so far, by far), sign up for a monthly locker membership, and squeeze in a workout.  For some reason, this was a much more intimidating task than it should have been.  To be honest, I was totally dreading it.  I didn't really know where the entrance was to the rec, how the check-in process goes, who I should talk to about the locker thing, where the weight room was, etc., etc.  (Are any of you thinking I'm a big wimp right now?)  And although I'm nearly 29 years old, it is still very uncool to walk around the rec center looking like a lost freshman who doesn't know where the free weights are.  But...  I sucked it up and did it anyway.  I asked questions, I asked directions, I walked around until I found the free weights and I left knowing that when I go back next week, it will be a lot easier.

In all of my travels, moves, new jobs, new towns I have learned over and over again that the only way to feel comfortable in a new place is to actually take that first step outside of your zone.  Then take a second and a third (baby steps are acceptable here), until you know your way around.  You don't stay a freshman forever and the more you push the limits and force yourself to do things like asking the cute senior guy how to get to the locker room (that's just an example, of course), the faster a new place starts to feel more like home.  And, it has also been my experience that forcing yourself to take a major step in a new direction every once in a while can lead to serious personal growth and new-found self-respect.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a new student get-together to attend for the Anthropology Department.  I'm going to go meet all sorts of new people!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well...  It is officially official.  I am going to graduate.  I passed my thesis defense, I turned in a final copy of my thesis (all 148 pages of it!!!), and I got all of the necessary signatures and stamps.  That feels pretty freaking awesome, I must say.

Last night, before the start of a totally killer yoga class, Thomas (the instructor) talked about embracing our own awesomeness and accepting the fact that we are all great at something.  Then, throughout the class, he asked us what we would look like or feel like if, in that moment, we believed we were truly awesome.  Immediately, I started to think about what I would look like if I were my most awesome self...  fitter, more fashionable, better hair, 10 pounds lighter, etc., etc.  Then I stopped.  And I realized that the only way to really accept my own awesomeness was to think of myself as awesome in that very moment - with the clothes I had on, with my hair a mess, and with my body exactly as it was and is.  Instead, I thought about how I would feel on the inside if I believed in my own awesomeness and how that would radiate on the outside.  I focused on the way I would behave and how I would approach each moment and each new challenge.  Because real awesomeness, the kind of awesomeness that I can fully embrace, shouldn't have anything to do with what I want to change about myself or what I want to do, look like, be in the future, but should be about the awesome person that I am NOW.  I should look in the mirror every morning and think about how the awesome Katie looking back at me is going to choose to feel, to behave, and to treat herself that day.

Such a message couldn't have come at a better time for me (sometimes I think there is some higher power leading me into yoga class on the days I really need to be there).  I am in the midst of whole bunch of big life changes.  Our family is changing, with a new little member due in September (see the new baby bump picture below).  I am moving to a new town, a new state, and starting over from scratch in a new graduate program.  I'm moving away from my family, very dear friends, and a boyfriend that I love.  I'll admit, I'm a little freaked out about it all, and definitely sad to move out of a part of my life that has been so good for me and that I have enjoyed so much.  So, it's time to ask myself, "How would AWESOME Katie deal with this?"  (I already know how un-awesome Katie would handle it.  Think:  messy pile of weepy tears.)

I'm pretty sure that AWESOME Katie (I don't normally talk about myself in third person) will feel sad, but will not let the sadness overcome her last two weeks with friends and family or taint her first few weeks in a new town, causing her to pass up opportunities to meet new people and make new friends.  AWESOME Katie will think about the exciting possibilities that come with these changes:  a nephew to squeeze and spoil (probably mostly only with love since I will still be a broke graduate student), a new apartment all to myself to decorate however I want and to be completely myself in, a new town with a great vibe, a new school that is taking me one step closer to a career that I am passionate about, chances to make new friends (a girl can never have too many, right?), and, I believe, an opportunity to open all of my current relationships up to brand new possibilities.  AWESOME Katie will march into class on my first day feeling excited and thrilled to be there.  AWESOME Katie will not worry about how she looks or what people will think of her, but will assume that everyone will immediately want to be her friend.  Why, you ask?  Because she's AWESOME.

So, today, I choose to be AWESOME Katie.  I choose to own my awesomeness and feel great about today and who I am in it.  And I'm going to clean my room.

When you think about embracing your own awesomeness, what do you think of?  How would you feel?  How would you act?  Would it change the way you approached a certain situation or the way you walked into a room?

Oh!  Here's Maggie's latest picture!  She's 7 1/2 months along.

And one more thing...  There's this blog, "Operation Beautiful" , that focuses on celebrating inner beauty and believing you're beautiful just as you are.  It's awesome.  The blog's author, Caitlin, is also releasing her first book, which I'll be picking up just as soon as my first paycheck comes through.  She is also encouraging other bloggers to write about changing the way you see yourself, so I thought my theme fit in pretty well with that.   Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I'm still here.  Neck deep in thesis.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of this:

Tomorrow morning, I will email my first full draft of my thesis to my committee, then get in the car with Aaron and go here for the weekend for a little R&R and to celebrate his b-day:

One week from today is D-DAY (that's "defense day" in case you were wondering).  I will defend my thesis.  And then I'll be doing some of this:

And next weekend, I'll be celebrating in Chicago with one of my favorite people:

Alright.  Nose to the grindstone time continues.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Good morning!  I am in major thesis mode today, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.  Frankly, I shouldn't even be blogging at all, but it's such an idyllic morning, I couldn't resist.  

So...  Here's what is making my morning so awesome:

Yoga (I have been AWOL from yoga class for what feels like a long time.  I MADE myself go this morning and am SO glad I did.  Although, when I go back on Thursday morning, I'll be wearing shorts.  I had a literal pool of sweat around me this morning.)

Breakfast and coffee in the back yard.  Cats playing, sun shining, breeze blowing.  I'm going to miss this back yard.

Knowing that today is going to be another very productive thesis day (once I finish writing this blog post).

Thinking about finishing my work early today (which means I'm going to have go power through) so I can make this Blueberry Raspberry Pound Cake from the blog Orangette.  If you like to cook or bake or EAT, you should really read this blog.  Then read her book.  Fantastic.

The anticipation of the final Jazz in June tonight.  We haven't made it once yet this summer, so we're going to make sure to go out with a bang tonight.  The weather should be perfect.  And I really feel like the night won't be complete without some pound cake.  Or at least maybe some ice cream.

I hope you're all enjoying your morning, too.  I'll leave you with a picture from Saturday night's anniversary dinner.  : )

And a new(er) picture of the baby bump.  Isn't she adorable?


I'd love to know...  What is making your day wonderful today?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One Year

One year and a little over one month ago, I was single and loving life.  I had just run my first half marathon and had come away from it with the best group of friends a person could ever ask for.  A group of friends that cared for me so much that they were really interested in finding me a nice guy to settle down with...  And that's how it all began...

I was having lunch with my good friend (and fellow runner) Meghan one afternoon when she brought someone to my attention.  He had been in our running class last spring and although had run with a different group, he was always smiling and so friendly.  Then...  He made this video And I was sold. (Seriously, watch the video. You'll see what I mean.) Cute? Check. Funny? Check. Cat? Check.

So, one Saturday afternoon at the beginning of last summer, I decided that I wanted to go to Bread & Cup (a local restaurant with awesome food) for wine and cheese that night. I asked on Facebook if anyone wanted to join me and the only person that responded was Aaron. We met, as friends (who didn't even really know each other), and ended up talking for hours. I knew there was something there. Two days later, he called to ask me out on a real date. And the rest is history. We have had a lot of ups and a few downs, but it's fair to say that today, we are as happy, or happier, than ever!

So, it's been a little more than a year, but tonight we are going back to Bread & Cup to celebrate our anniversary. I'm SO excited!!

Happy (Late) Anniversary, Aaron! And thanks to all of our family and friends who have celebrated with us and supported us over the last year! Now I just have to decide what to wear...

(Note: Yes, I realize that this is a dating anniversary and that some cynical people think it's silly to celebrate. I don't care! I think it's so important to celebrate as many good things in my life as possible. And this is a very good thing.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Plugging Along

Hi!  It's been a while since I've posted - things have been a little hectic around here lately...  And, once again, I don't have anything super brilliant to say (do I ever?).  So, I'll just give you a brief update on all that's been going on and what's to come in the Exciting Life of Katie.

A few weeks ago, my mom and I drove down to Columbia, Missouri to look for an apartment (for me, for August).  It was an awesome trip and I'm really excited to live there!  Here are some pictures from the trip:

University of Missouri campus

The Anthropology building - my office will be the first window on the left, above the door (the one with no window ac)!

One of the best breakfasts I've had.  Seriously.

Columbia Farmer's Market

Amazingly, even with all of the sightseeing and EATING we did, I did manage to find a place!  It's a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment with a nice kitchen, in a very nice neighborhood, not too far from campus (maybe a 15 minute drive/30 minute bike ride), with a big front yard and a little forested area with a creek in the back.  Here it is:

I'll be signing the lease this week and moving sometime in August.  I'm not sure about when, exactly, I'll move my things down, but I will physically be living in Lincoln until just after August 14th (graduation!).

Since the Columbia trip, I've been filling all of my time with thesis work and volleyball camps.  Camp coaching is kind of brutal because it starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m. with a break for lunch and for dinner.  The nice thing about them is that I actually enjoy coaching, so I can get my fix, and they're also pretty good $$.  I'll work one more in late July, but I'm pretty happy to be done for now.  For the next month and a half, I will be doing nothing but THESIS, THESIS, THESIS, with a tentative defense date set for "mid-July."  Descriptive, right?  Anyway, it's crunch time.  So, really, that's about it.  I have lots to do and a little time to do it in, with weekends almost totally full from mid-July through mid-August when I move.  I'll be taking this one day at a time, I believe.

Ok, one more announcement before I go...  

I'm going to be an aunt AND a godmother!  : )

My sister is due in mid-September and as long as the kid doesn't steal my birthday (which I have a sneaking suspicion Maggie is going to try to MAKE happen - haha), it's pretty exciting!  Looks like I'm going to have to start planning that baby shower pretty soon...  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hodge Podge

It's been quite a while since I've posted.  Maybe it's because I haven't been doing much of anything that's interesting enough to write about.  Maybe every time I open a certain Word document titled "Graduate Thesis," it sucks every last remaining ounce of creativity out of my soul.  Maybe I haven't felt inspired to write???  While the first two certainly have potential, I have to call myself out on the last one.  I have felt inspired to write, I just haven't taken the time to sit down and do it.  So, today, I'm going to write to you about a mish-mash, hodge podge of topics.

Topic #1:  1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Remember when I said I was going to do a full race recap?  I haven't done it (obviously).  And I'll tell you why.  I thought about it and thought about it and I just couldn't think of a good way to write it.  You know when something really cool/exciting/scary/funny/sad happens to you and the more you tell the story, the less special and emotional it seems?  I don't want to do that to my experience.  Also, sometimes, it's possible to just botch the story all together, then the specialness is really lost.  I really don't want to do that. As most of you know, I have been active most of my life.  I have done a lot of things that a lot of people (including myself at times) never thought I could do - and told me so on many occasions.  Athletics don't necessarily come easy to me, even though I enjoy them so much.  But what really hasn't come easy to me is running.  I have always held myself back (I think), not believing I could become something better, faster, or more free.  I was unsure, right up until the night before the 1/2, whether or not I could really reach this goal I had set for myself.  And when I ran the first half of the race and felt a little like I was flying on adrenaline, then turned into Memorial Stadium, looked at my watch and KNEW I was going to beat my goal by almost 3 minutes, I felt so stinking good about myself, it's hard to express in words.  I just don't think I could do my experience or my emotions justice with a blog post.  I tried to share it with friends and family, but eventually decided that it was something I was going to keep all for myself.  Secret memories for me to pull out and smile about whenever I feel like it.  So, sorry (or luckily, however you want to look at it), no race recap.

Topic #2:  Basic Update

My last official semester at the University of Nebraska ended a few weeks ago.  Right now, I'm taking one hour of Statistics over the next couple of weeks and working like mad on my thesis.  Over the summer, I'll be working three Husker volleyball camps, taking a couple of trips, finishing and defending my thesis, volunteering for the Special Olympics, and trying to get a tan.  I'll graduate on August 14th and classes start at Missouri on August 23rd, so I'll be moving somewhere in between.  I'm going to head down to Columbia with my mom at the beginning of June to look for a place to live.  I need to find a place that's cheap, allows cats, and has some type of yard so Nellie can go outside.

Topic #3:  Happiness Project

Right now I'm reading the book The Happiness Project.  I love it.  The author, Gretchen Rubin, writes very well.  But, let's face it, there are plenty of well-written books out there.  What really draws me to this one, what keeps me going back for more every night before bed, is the practicality of it all.  I'm sure many of you have heard of, or even read, this book.  But for those of you that haven't, here's what it's all about:  The author considered herself to be a fairly happy person, with a job she loved, a great husband and two daughters.  But she realized that she just wasn't appreciating life the way she wanted to.  She was missing the little moments and missing out on the little happinesses that would make her life happier and more peaceful.  So, she started the Happiness Project.  She picked one broad area (like Money or Energy) to focus on each month for a year, then set small, concrete goals that would help her in those areas.
This, in my opinion, is an absolutely fantastic idea.  I'm thinking of starting my own Happiness Project, but will, of course, have to make it unique to the areas of my life in which I feel I could find more happiness or appreciate things a little more.  I, too, am a generally happy person.  I am lucky enough to have a wonderful family, amazing friends, a caring boyfriend, my health, an opportunity to work towards the career that I want, an adorable cat :) and so many other great things going for me.  But, I can tend to get bogged down by the little things that overwhelm me, rather than appreciating the positive.  I am going to contemplate this a little more and will report back when I've made a decision...

I hope you're all doing well.  Somehow Nebraska managed only a couple weeks of spring before heading right into summer over the weekend.
How's the weather where you are?  Do any of you have opinions on The Happiness Project or have you thought about starting your own?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Blues

Good morning!

I had planned to give a recap of my race in my next blog post, but I'm not really feeling it today and have decided to wait for that until I'm all pumped and peppy about it again.

Today (and for the last couple of days)... I have the BLUES. We'll call them the "post race blues." It's pretty normal to feel a little down after something big has ended, you know? Like, if you've been looking forward to your best friend's wedding for months and months, and the wedding is tons of fun, but once it's over, you just feel kind of a let down. Or when you work your butt off for years toward graduation and you're THRILLED to be graduating, but once you do you think, "Now what?" Well, after 4 months of running in the snow, on the ice, early in the morning, in the evening humidity preparing for ONE THING - a 2:18 half marathon - it's over. And I'm feeling a little down about it.

I'm totally ecstatic about the time I was able to achieve (remember? 2:15:29!!!) and I don't think that will go away for a very long time. But, let's face it. The race is over, my last semester (minus the crazy amount of thesis work I have to do this summer) at Nebraska is winding down, and in just a few short months, I'm going to have to pack up the life I've built for myself here in Lincoln and move it to a new state. And I really like my life here. A lot. Lincoln is my home and I love it. There are bike trails, beautiful seasons (we'll leave last winter out of this), a few great restaurants, friends, boyfriend, and family. There is something so comforting about knowing a place the way we all know the place we've lived in the longest. I love being able to drive down a street and recall memories from several years ago. I love that I still live in the same zip code as the park I played in and home I lived in when I was a child (some might argue that I still am a child...). I'm going to miss all of those things. And it's a little sad to realize that once I move away this time, it may be quite a while before I'm back again.

Plus, I'm not so good with change. While my little sister was rearranging her bedroom every other week when we were younger, I might put a new poster up, but everything else stayed just as it was - just as it was supposed to be. And I'm realizing that as I get older and grow into more of an adult, I'm dealing with the small changes better and better, but the big ones (like moving to a new town, starting at a new school) are becoming harder. I'm becoming more settled and content to be so.

But the really sad thing, I think, and that I have realized with the finale of this race, is that these last few months were my last time to train for a race with my running group - The Peeps. They are the most wonderful group of people I have ever known and it has been nothing but a true pleasure to endure even the hardest of runs with them. We laugh together, cry together, hurt together, help each other through rough spots (personal and physical), support each other when no one else does, and have probably shared more with one another during our hundreds of miles than we've shared with a lot of other people in our lives. They are the reason I've rolled my grumpy, tired butt out of bed before 6 a.m. on many occasions - and they always make it worth my while. A very special bond is formed when you spend mile after mile with someone. I am so lucky to have found this in them and I'm going to miss it when I'm gone.

Enough wallowing, though. I have a plan and I have a good cup of coffee. Nothing can stop August from coming, but there are a few things I can do to enjoy May, June, and July more and some things I can do to get EXCITED about August, rather than depressed. For starters, once I finish up with the rest of this semester's school stuff this week, I'm going to take a couple of days completely OFF. I'm going to get a hair cut. I'm going to bake some cookies. I'm going to go for a run with my Peeps, and then to the Farmer's Market. I'm going to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom. Then I'm going to get down to work finishing this thesis. I'm also going to make a summer running plan for myself. One of my long-term goals is to continue to get faster, so this summer, I'm going to commit to making that happen. I also might give swimming a try? I don't know - I really hate the chlorine-y feeling after getting out of the pool. Plus, I'd rather be outside. We'll see. And I plan to make a couple of trips down to Columbia to find a place to live and get a little better-accustomed to the place so it doesn't feel like such a shock when I move.

For now, I have a crap ton of grading to do and a few loose ends to tie up for my statistics class. Oh, and a hair cut to schedule.

(By the way, I wish I had a picture with all of the Peeps in it, but I don't. This is just the most recent Peep picture.)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Yesterday was the Lincoln Half Marathon. As you'll recall, my goal was to finish in 2 hours and 18 minutes, which was pretty lofty, considering that I finished October's Des Moines 1/2 Marathon in about 2:25 and last year's Lincoln 1/2 in just over 2:35.

And... (drumroll, please) ...


That's 20 minutes faster than I ran last year's race in! : ) Today, I'm hobbling around the house like I'm 90 years old, but I don't even care. It was more than worth it.

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement. Thanks to my mom for hightailing it around the course on her bike yesterday so that she could cheer for me and take pictures; she totally believed I could do it and was probably just about as excited as I was to see me do it (how lucky am I?). Thanks to Ann, Aaron, and my Peeps for believing in me. And CONGRATULATIONS to Aaron and each of my running Peeps yesterday - every ONE of us set a new PR and met our goals!!!!!! Thanks to the 2010 YMCA Lincoln Marathon Class for the inspiration and encouragement. Special thanks to all of those of you cheering out on the course yesterday (you know who you are - it wasn't easy, but you put your hearts and souls into it anyway).

There will be more details on the race to come. But for now, I need to study for my Statistics final.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Hey there. I just wrote this incredibly long, dull, melancholy post about how I'm feeling sad that the arrival and passing of race day means that I'm going to have to face the fact that I'll be moving away from Lincoln, things are changing, blah, blah, blah. Then I decided to erase and start over. This is no time for negativity, people, SUNDAY IS RACE DAY!!!!!!

This Sunday, May 2nd, I'll be running the Lincoln Half Marathon (as most of you already know). I'm excited, nervous, ready, not ready, and so on. Last year, I was nervous because I really had no idea what to expect. But really, I just wanted to finish the race in a respectable time (respectable in my mind, anyway). THIS YEAR, on the other hand, I have set a goal for myself. I have TOLD people about my goal, and I have spent the last few weeks going back and forth in my mind, wondering if it's possible to reach this goal.

Let me tell you something that I believe: I believe that we have to set goals. Then we have to tell people about them (because they will hold you accountable). Then we have to tell EVERYONE about them. Then we have to believe within ourselves that the goal is possible. And then we have to not look back. We have to not even let the possibility of not reaching the goal enter our minds. That is the hard part.

I have set goals in my time (as I already talked about a few posts back) and I have achieved the really big ones. I got cut from the volleyball teams in 8th, 9th and 10th grades. But I worked my ass off (pardon the cuss word, but trust me, I worked really hard) and made the team in 11th and 12th grades. Then I played volleyball for a junior college, then for a Division II Top 10 team. I believed every step of the way that I could do it. There was no doubt in my mind that I was good enough and strong enough to do it. And I did it.

I have yet to feel that way about running. I'm not all that fast (yet). It's not something that comes very naturally to me (unlike my boyfriend who can train relatively little and go out and just run 13 miles!). But I suppose volleyball didn't come all that naturally, either. I just loved it so much that I MADE myself good at it. I worked on improving myself for years until I was finally good enough to stand on my own. And I loved it so much that I chose to believe in myself through all of the ups and downs.

So, here it is. I've set my goal and told some people about it (steps 1 & 2). Now, I'm telling EVERYONE: My goal is 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Now, I'm believing in myself. I believe in my abilities as a runner. I have worked hard week after week for the last four months. I am ready to run on Sunday. I am going to have a GREAT race. And I am going to reach this goal, come hell or high water. BECAUSE I KNOW I CAN DO IT. I am STRONG ENOUGH to do it - no matter what adversity I may face that morning.

And now... I'm not looking back.


And I will look like crap on the big screen of Memorial Stadium as I run across the finish at the 50 yard line. hahaha

To everyone running on Sunday, GOOD LUCK! To anyone out there attempting any sort of goal of their own - GO FOR IT!!!! To anyone who might like to come down and cheer on the Lincoln runners on Sunday - we'd love to have you. It's an awesome thing to watch 8,000 people try to achieve something like that... And it's equally as awesome to have people cheer for you as you attempt to do it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Strength from Letting Go

That's a pretty deep title... I don't really know yet whether or not the content will match it, so, come on along on the ride with me...

This morning, as yoga class was starting, our instructor (Thomas) mentioned that we would be working our center (aka core, aka *yikes* - although since I had rushed through my core stuff at the gym yesterday, I knew I needed it). Then he talked about finding strength through letting go; finding support through opening. In physical terms, the point of really engaging your center is so that the rest of you can move more freely. But, these phrases had such powerful meaning to me on a level that went way beyond the physical. So, I made them my intention for the day and yoga'd on.

As I was working my way through the (sometimes grueling) poses, I continued to come back to this idea of strength through letting go. This is absolutely NOT the first time I have considered such a notion. Most recently, it came to me as I was walking along the beach on our last full day in Sanibel... Sometimes I am just so damn uptight. I do what I'm supposed to do, when I'm supposed to do it (for the most part), I don't usually let my true deep-down feelings out into the open, sometimes I even laugh when it's appropriate, at the socially appropriate decibel. Type A all the way, baby. Good lord.

Being open and letting go are two of the things I struggle with more than almost anything else in my life. And I'm not entirely sure why (although I'm pretty sure I come by it honestly). I suppose it has something to do with the notion that if I never really put myself out there for the world to see, I can't really be rejected by anyone. In essence, if they do reject me (which I'm absolutely sure is more likely to happen when not being truly open), it's not really me they're rejecting - it's the uptight, non-open, non-letting go me. I don't mean to say that I'm not myself. I believe that as I've gotten older, I have become more and more authentic and more and more real to everyone around me, mostly all of the time. So, it's not that you all have known a fake me, it's just that I'm not revealing everything about who I am. The scary, painful, really challenging stuff is kept to myself and the funny, upbeat, sometimes stressed (but always "together"), type A self is shown to the world.

The intent here, though, isn't to psychoanalyze myself, but to talk about being open and letting go. What do you think of when you think of those things? When I think of being open, I picture myself with my arms open wide, embracing people, embracing life. When I think of letting go, I literally picture myself dancing in some big field of flowers, spinning around and around, without a care in the world, letting go of every reservation and fear (and probably sneezing like crazy from all the pollen). Aren't these lovely thoughts?

As I walked along the beach that last afternoon in Sanibel, and the sun was starting to fall beneath the ocean in the distance, I thought to myself, "What would it hurt?" What would it hurt to fully express my love and affection for someone, to be open with myself, give hugs, allow others (not everyone, of course - strangers on the street don't need to know if I'm having the worst day in the world) to see all of me? What would it hurt to laugh as loud and as hard as I want, whether it's situationally appropriate or not? Or, conversely, what would it hurt NOT to laugh if I don't think something's funny? What would it hurt (this is timely) to just WRITE (I'm talking about my thesis, which I edit, edit again, then erase and write over) without regard for how anyone is going to critique or criticize?

But being truly open and completely letting go are hard, aren't they? Because we know that in doing so, we open ourselves up for the possibility of real pain if the real you is rejected. However, I would like you all to take just a moment to consider what else we open ourselves up to (as will I)... Real love, real acceptance, real happiness, real connectedness, fullness, and maybe even peace. In my mind, I believe that those things outweigh the pain. The real challenge is convincing the rest of me and putting it into action. And that is my goal for the next ... however long. To be open. To let go. Sure, I'll ALWAYS be a total Type A - I'll make lists, I'll set goals and work diligently towards them, I'll feel all aflutter when I see a REALLY GOOD pre-made checklist, I'll get upset when things don't go as planned or when I'm asked to do something that wasn't already on my schedule (geez.). But maybe I'll be better at showing people I care. Maybe I'll be able to take things in stride a little better, let go, and enjoy the possibilities that an unplanned event might offer. Heck, maybe as I'm holding my center tight, holding onto who I am, I'll be able to spin and spin and let go of everything else...

Ok, this was just about as deep as the title suggested. Too much for a Tuesday morning before 9:00? Go grab another cup of coffee.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Make It or Break It Moment

With the Lincoln Half Marathon quickly approaching, I have found myself thinking a lot about my goals for this race and how I'm going to accomplish them. I won't talk about how unfortunate it is that the timing of the race coincides catastrophically with the beginning of Finals Week or how taper time (the time when you cut back your weekly miles to rest your legs before the big day) SHOULD equal more time to think about school work, but in fact it equals more time spent thinking about the upcoming race, reading books and magazines about running, etc. etc. ...

As I have been considering these goals, I have been thinking back to previous races that I've run, the goals I had for them, and some of my moments of glory and failure. I have set goals that I had no idea whether or not I could reach and no idea how to go about reaching them, which usually led to me falling short. I have set goals and worked hard to achieve them, and a few times have set no goals at all. Now, let me tell you, looking back, that seems odd. I am a VERY goal oriented person (can we say Type A personality?). I operate best when I have clear goals and clear ideas about how I am going to achieve them. This has always been the case for me - in sports, in school, in life. This year, I have a clear goal, and I'm going to work out a very straightforward plan that I hope will help me reach it.

One thing is sure, though: whether I've met my running goals over the last couple of years or not, I have learned at least one important lesson during every race. Maybe it's about what to eat next time, that 40 degrees is just a little too warm for a jacket, or that I like to talk during the first part of a race, but prefer not to towards the end. Some of the lessons are a lot bigger and more important. Like last year during the Novartis 10K (6.2 miles), I wasn't having a great race, but decided I wanted to finish strong. As I was climbing the last big hill, I realized that it may hurt for a few minutes, but I could do it. Or during the State Farm 10 mile race just a few weeks ago when I learned that if I'm tired, I just need to focus on putting one foot in front of the other for a while, and eventually I'll make it.

When do those lessons come? Once in a while they come during the few miles where I'm feeling great, smiling, and in love with life, but most of the really important lessons have come at what I like to call my "Make It or Break It Moment." The "Make It or Break It Moment" is that one moment when you are faced with two choices: stopping and quitting or breaking down the brick wall that is fear and pain. During that moment I think to myself, "Ok. You can stop right here, right now and walk. Or, you can find a little more strength and push through this." It's the hardest point in the race - the part that challenges literally every fiber of your being. It's also the defining moment of your race.

We have defining moments like this in life all the time (or at least I seem to). Moments when things are really hard and the last thing you want to do is take one more step forward into a sometimes painful or scary situation. But I continue to be reminded, with each run and each race that taking that step (or hundreds of them) is the only way to get to the other side - the heavenly side with food and Gatorade on it. ... except in life, no one is there to put a medal around your neck...

I don't know yet when the defining moment of my half marathon will come. Last year it came during the last tenth of a mile. In the State Farm race this year it came as I was running around that stupid building, searching desperately for the finish line (any of you that have run that race know exactly what I mean). In last weekend's 12 mile training run, my "Moment" came at mile 10. My legs hurt, my knees hurt, my shoulders and neck were tight, my lungs were burning. I didn't want to take one more step forward. But I did. And I learned that even when I don't want to, even when I think I can't, even when I feel like everything is falling apart, I can still put one foot in front of the other and continue on.