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I want an estate…..

So, This past week has been pretty eventlicious- and as an extrovert, that’s kind of how I like it. It’s been crazy stormy around central VA recently, so outdoor workouts haven’t been happening as often as I’d like them to now that classes are over (for ever!). It was seriously like as soon as I finished my last final, we’ve been in constant downpour status. And, i’m not always the bravest ‘storm trooper,’ if you will.

But, when life gives you water….uhhh….go inside? Yeah, so I did a mini indoor tri to just see how it would feel to do all three things back to back. Of course, I took a detour in the hot tub for 15 minutes between the swim and bike leg, because the hot tub is my best motivation to get swim workouts in. I did ~45 minutes of the swim (so about 1250 meters) and bike legs (ehhh ~ 15 miles), and a short couple laps around the track for the hell of it.

Swimming in my new suit! It's amazing having straps that stay up.

Bike leg - I'm holding up an 'L' because I think this is the lamest pic I've ever taken.

Running leg - which I kept PRETTY short : ) I'm in chronic need of new shoes.

While the indoor tri was kind of lame, it was also exhausting and fun! You gotta stay motivated somehow when mother nature is feeling hormonal.

This weekend was a blast though, Friday I had some coworkers over to play games and have some drinks. We had fun with fishbowl, catch phrase, and apples to apples. Oh, and somehow I was convinced to do a shot at some point. I guess that’s what Fridays are for?!

cheers?

Saturday I biked a bit and went to a church picnic – which included some ultimate frisbee! I love ultimate, but didn’t love really competitive boys who didn’t seem to want to even out girls and boys on the teams. Our team lost by quite a large margin, but at least we looked good doing it : ) . P.S. What is it about ultimate that makes me groin muscles hurt for days after?! I can hardly move today. I guess my muscles are REALLY not used to running in anything other than a straight line.

And Sunday I went to a wine festival at Ash Lawn (former president James Madison’s estate) with a few of my favorite ladies. I decided that I kind of want an estate – how awesome would it be to have a huge chunk of land to lounge around on, read classy books, drink wine, and laugh with my gal pals. Wine festivals are also all kinds of amazing. You get to get a little day buzz in a beautiful place, wearing a sun dress, and being with good friends. GOOD times indeed : )

After tasting everything we got a bottle of our favorite rose' of the evening to sip outside.

the gang!

I capped off the weekend at a movie night to watch a classic Clint Eastwood western: the good the bad and the ugly.

I’m so glad I watched this classic movie. The music in it is iconic, and now I’m in on the background I guess. Though, the movie probably needed a couple other songs: I was tired of the theme by the middle, but it came around again in excitement at the climax! I often need peer pressure to watch ‘good’ movies…otherwise I’m going to watch Star Wars or a chick flick as a kind of mental detox thing. While I’d VERY rarely sit down and watch a classic film, I’m always glad I did. In light of this, me and my roommate have talked about being that peer pressure for each other. Any first recommendations for us? I’ve always had the intent of going through imdb’s user rated top 250, but have made poor progress so far.

MMMM, this was quite the mix bag of a post. In other vague news, I’m feeling very frustrated with a lot of things in my life right now. I’m the kind of person who likes to go after what I want. And I feel that I’m in a situation that is requiring a lot of patience and unknowns. I’m having trouble trusting that it’s going to work out….or knowing what I should do…if anything. That’s been the kind of downside to an otherwise exciting weekend. Hopefully I figure something out soon with this – I think I just reached the max frustration point where I need to change my current course of action.

Peace,

Karen

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The Missing Piece?

I hint a lot (maybe too much?) about how I changed my life in 2010. But, maybe I’ve never really layed out everything I did to make that happen – especially since with my crazy schedule I’m not always the most regular blogger. How is December 2009 Karen really different from May 2011 Karen? Switching to a vegetarian diet and getting in to working out (biking especially, as well as running and swimming) are the two big things I’ve focused on in my writings in this space. These things have given me energy and confidence. Another interesting stat is that in 2009 I got sick a lot. I probably had 5 or so serious colds and was hospitalized on Christmas for a particularly bad case of strep. Oh, and let’s not forget my concussion. Since 2010 I’ve only had 1 minor cold that only lasted like 1 day. I think this is a particularly amazing statistic and probably non-coincidental. I used to be a girl who caught every cold in a 15 foot radius. My immune system is kicking butt these days : ).

Another one has been getting out of my comfort zone to meet new people and try out new activities. Not all of these have been winners, but after a year or so of doing this I’m finally starting to stick with a couple things that make me happy: Biking and swing dance.

But a big one I’ve never mentioned is figuring out my beliefs. I started going to church again in 2010 after a pretty long hiatus after high school. I always felt I had a pretty strict upbringing, and after following all the rules for 18 years I just had that time I think a lot of people go through in college where they just want to experience what it’s like to have no rules. During this time I did things that I can’t believe were me. I like to think of that Karen as some kind of weird doppelganger – she looks like me but is unrecognizable in so many ways. There are stories from the past that literally make no sense in my head. As a result, I really rode the highs and lows in my life. One week I was on top of the world and the next I was crashing and burning. I dated jerks who didn’t respect me, and honestly, I probably didn’t respect a good majority of them either. My self esteem came from others and worldly things. I worried about things more. I let anxiety get the better of me a lot.

There were a couple times in college I tried to get that back. I think that’s the good thing about being raised in a Christian home – when I crashed and burned I did think about going back to church and figuring out my beliefs. But it never stuck. I never found a place I was comfortable with for the long haul. I found most Christians seemed like ‘scary happy people.’ And that sketched me out at the time.

But in the middle of 2010 I got in a pretty scary car accident. It was then that I remembered how really fragile life here is, and that if I wanted to figure out what I believed….if I wanted to change my life, then I better do it now. Because, it’s never going to get any easier to do these things than it is right now. I was in the trap that I think a lot of people are, where you just think you’ll have time to do X later….but ‘monday’ never comes. Coincidentally at around the same time I ended up having a conversation about God during a thunder storm with a new friend, and before I knew it I was invited to church and a small group.

From July 2010 to now, I’ve really gone on quite an exciting faith journey. In the beginning, I had a pretty shaky faith based on science, actually. I believed in God because the world was just too beautiful and complicated to happen without some guidance in evolution. But all the ‘Jesus stuff’ – I just didn’t feel excited about it like all other Christians do.

But somehow over the last year – by really working on my faith, praying, learning, reading, and talking to others – I dunno – I feel it, and my faith has made me a happy person. I don’t see Christianity as a list of ‘rules’ anymore. I see it as wisdom for living the happiest life you can on Earth – a toolkit I guess. I find when I follow Jesus’s rules I’m happier. I find that I’ve gained waaaaay more than I’ve sacrificed. I find that I am kind of becoming one of those scary happy people, but that it’s a pretty great way to be. When I hint at 2009 Karen to new friends, most can’t imagine a Karen that isn’t bubbly with excitement. I kind of love that. Through the last year I’ve really tried to exercise those faith muscles, and as a result can hear and feel God more than I ever could. All of this is so strange and new, but awesome at the same time. So here I am…writing it all down because I just felt like a big piece of the puzzle was missing here.

I’m also partially writing this because in conversations with other over the last few weeks I’ve realized so many people my age are in the same boat I was before. And because of this, I feel like my story is important, and maybe someday it will help someone think about putting the work into figuring out their beliefs again. It’s easy to get stuck and complacent. And I’m glad my world got shaken up a bit so I could find this happy place. Anyway : ) ! Peace!

Thoughts post Turk Mountain Hike

Dear Blog world,

Hello! Despite my best intentions I have abandoned you this year. It’s semi-ironic really – I started this blog because I wanted to change my life in 2010. And, I did. I really did. I feel like a totally different person than I was a little over a year ago. In fact, I think it’s so amazing I would talk anyone’s ear off about it if they would let me. And if I could summarize the things that have made me change the most, it would be throwing myself into situations that I never thought I’d be able to get to the other side of before (Ex: Newbie bike rider vs. 1000 feet ascent). I think it’s forcing yourself to try things that seem impossible and then coming out on the other side that changes you from the inside out. It’s made me a much more confident and happy person and better able to go after what I want.

So it’s for this reason I like ‘extreme’ workouts. And this past weekend I went on a kind of extreme hike. This hike was easily 2.5 times the length of the longest hike I’d ever been on before. It was a 10.5 mile 2400 ft. ascent hike in shenandoah national park. Much like that fateful august 1 bike ride, there was a point halfway up that mountain that I really just didn’t think I could take anymore of it, and the end seemed no where in sight. My quads burned, I was hot, dripping with set, and my heart was pounding. But, you know what, I did it and this view was my reward:

Don’t you wish you could eat lunch there every day?!

Some good things about going on that long of a hike (~5 hours), is that you really get a good ‘real world’ detox by the end of it. It’s a great mental cleanse. And this hike was pretty solitude-licious, which is good for even the extrovert like me every so often.

The most fun part of this hike were the stream crossings. The friend I went with had to work together to get to the other side (it’s a good thing we’re both dancers). It was nice little problem solving and trust building exercise.

But anyway, I think I have a new addiction forming. My legs killed me the next couple days, but I think that just makes me want to go on another long hike soon even more. When you work out hard, the muscles you’re using break themselves and rebuild over the next couple days – stronger than before. I think that happens with your mind too – every time you push your limit an inch or two more. You keep building yourself back up stronger than before. I really think that’s been the key to my success post 2010, and I look forward to continuing to redefine just what I’m capable of : ).

Anyway, I look forward to trying to blog more regularly now that classes are more or less over. I’ve actually been quite busy this past semester – getting involved in a few new things. I look forward to dishing soon! ❤

A Birthday Story

I hate planning things. And I guess as I side note, I’m totally insecure about things. Whatever ‘things’ are. I think that’s just a typical girl thing, but at the same time I hide and fight my insecurities constantly. I like to think I surprise people when I am vulnerable enough to share them with others. Of course, I may totally be kidding myself on that one.

My birthday was this past week. The big 24! I’m like totally in my mid 20’s now. Aging is a pretty slow process, so I didn’t feel all of a sudden different to wake up on Monday and be 24…but it is odd. I feel like my life is nothing like I thought it would be at 24. I thought that when you were 24 you would be a real person. I still feel like a work in progress, and I like that most days. I’m starting to think maybe you never feel like a real person….you just get better at faking it around the younger masses.

But to relate paragraph 1 of this post to paragraph 2 in some way – I rarely do things for my birthday. My birthday usually falls before a midterm or during spring break when everyone’s gone. Also, I just hate planning. Planning makes me insecure. I care way too much about what everyone is thinking/feeling/reacting to something I planned to begin to enjoy myself. But, since I was studying for a midterm on my actual birthday this year I decided I should try to do something fun and planned a little get together of sorts at my place for this weekend.

After sending out the e-mail – I realized hardly anyone could come…or they just didn’t respond. And that kind of just made me feel like crap – more like crap than I’d like to admit. So I ended up canceling….thinking of going with a smaller plan….thinking about canceling all together? The devil just got all tangled and twisty in my brain. I’d thought things were going so much better here in my new hood. I’d thought that I had this awesome network of friends and here I was just feeling hurt, rejected, and just…well…more alone than I thought I was. The insecurity oozed out of me unencombered.

Things got tough and I retreated in my shell, feeling a little banged up and worse for the wear.

So I go to work Saturday, just kind of trying to forget about it all. And by the time I was about to leave I got a call from a friend here and the whole thing had just been replanned without me and was all taken care of…and people were going to be there. It was kind of like a surprise but not really because I planned it first surprise party or something. And another friend brought awesome wine and made cheese dip and a delicious cake. All of a sudden I felt so loved. The evening was great. People had fun. I had fun. And the wounds of doubt and angst were plugged up.

My birthday this year did make me realize that good/true friends are a rarity…but that I have them. And I am very blessed. Thank you to everyone who made me feel loved by sending greetings, making treats, and/or just being a light in my life.

And here they are… Ready or not 2011, Here I come!

Yes, finally time to put finger to key on these new years resolutions. I’m excited about them, but don’t feel the same intense drive as last year. Last year was about change, this year is really about upping the ante.

1. Run a race! And hopefully this race will be the C-ville 10-miler at the end of March. My training has been pretty off and on…so I’m training on the assumption I will run this 10 miler, but am doubting myself a bit (I know, not cool). So, should I fail I still have to run a 10K or half marathon sometime this year. But either way, at some point this year I will pin a number to my shirt and cross a finish line.

2. Practice piano more – I’m hoping for at least 2X a week. It’s good mental detox, and I’m sad I’ve gone so long without playing. I also want to work more on theory/chords so I can do more embellishing and improving.

3. It’s not all about the cardio – I hope to start incorporating more yoga and swimming in my work-out schedule again. Once a week for both would be ideal.

4. Donate blood 4 times – I did it twice last year and found out I am A positive (holla to all the rest of us out there). You do feel a bit wonky for a day or two after, but I also feel good to give part of myself to others. Apparently it’s good for you too?

5. Get involved with some kind of community service – I don’t know what yet….but I really hope to find some organization that inspires and motivates me.

6. Make some kind of financial plan/budget and automate it…incorporate it. Do it?! – I feel like I would just have more peace of mind if I had an actual system. Right now, everything just works out….but I don’t feel zen about it. I want a plan.

7. Blog Revamp – I want to blog more and recapture the fun of blogging for me. And I think in order to do that this blog is going to focus quite a bit less on pure health and fitness things. I want to incorporate more LIFE, fun, and just what’s going on in my head. Basically, I want to stop trying to mold my blog into something I’m not and just….do what I want.

8. Cook something new 2 times a month – I have the tendancy to eat lots of really simple processed kinds of things (lots of Amy’s and Kashi’s meals). Hopefully by encouraging myself to cook a bit more, I will I dunno, like…be more awesome and want to cook more all the time? Here’s hoping at least.

9. Read 30 books this year – Over break I rediscovered my love of reading. I want to keep it coming. Plus, it will help when I inevitable write the YA romance novel that’s outlined in my head….Speaking of….

10. Participate in National Novel Writing Month (November – NaNoWriMo). Yep….it’s happening! I’m excited about the book and the couple people i’ve mentioned my outline to seem interested to. We shall see!!!

2010 Reflections

I have kind of put off my new years reflections and goal setting this year. But, I definitely don’t want to let too much time go by without recording some of these thoughts, because 2010 was a life changing year for  me. I’d say the theme of 2010 was redefining myself and I hope the theme of 2011 is to push harder, and amplify these changes.

The end of 2009 was a pretty dark one for me. I’d moved to C-ville and had a lot of trouble finding close friendships like the ones I had in my sorority at Penn. I mean, I know finding a community takes time, but it took even longer than I had imagined. I felt all I really had going on was an awesome roommate that I secretly pined for. And, even that was slowly getting toxic as the weeks went on. I had a lot of freak accidents (concussion) and serious illnesses (chronic bronchitis and went to the ER again for a bad case of strep). Things were dark and I kind of just holed away in my room.

The beginning of 2010 was the catalyst I needed. I saw 2010 as this perfect new beginning. I remember smiling as I put my blank calendar up on the wall. I was going to work harder at getting out, trying new things and exploring, even if I was alone doing it. I started a running program, went to matinée movie screenings on the weekends, went to yoga class, studied in coffee shops, etc. Just being around people made a huge difference, even if they weren’t my friends really. And gradually over the beginning of the year things fell into place. I met a great community of grad students, joined a church group, and tried out a bunch of other new activities, some of which have sticked (running, biking, swimming) and some…well not so much (ultimate, kickball). The fitness and health changes just made me a more confident person that could fix (or handle) all the rest.

I say these things not to make you feel bad, but to get a hint of just how much this year really has meant to me, and how much my friends in c-ville mean to me. I was in a dark place and I am thankful every day to be where I am today.

Even so, I learned a lot in 2010. I learned the perils of love triangles, toxic and codependent relationships, getting attached to things that aren’t real, and again how impossible it is to stay friends with someone you once had feelings for. I learned that usually it works out for the best in the long run even when you don’t get what you want. I learned I could make smart last minute life or death decisions and handle adult stuff during my car accident. I’ve learned that I have amazing friends and everything I need for when I get into scrapes. I have friends who will rush to the scene after a car accident, spend half the day helping me fix a dead battery in my car, listen to me talk for hours about the same drama, pray for me, walk to my house to talk at ungodly hours when things go bad, drive me to the store when I don’t have my car for a month, and make me a Hannah Montana skirt for Halloween. And I hope I can be that friend in return.

At the beginning of 2010 I was doubting all my decisions that led me to C-ville and UVa and by the end I knew I was in the right place. That has been a great comfort to me.

So, last post I described my achievements this past year and today I documented what this past year meant to me. Next up (hopefully tomorrow) my goals for 2011 and some slight changes in focus for this blog.

Peace,

Karen

2010 Resolution Check-in!

Happy Christmas , everyone! I hope you all had a good day whether you were celebrating with friends and family or if it was just another day. I had the best Christmas I’ve had in a few years even though I was sniffly for it. My family doesn’t do much, since it’s just the 3 of us these days, but we had fun watching the Disney parade and playing with my Dad’s new Keurig. I’m going to miss that thing when I go back to Cville.

But, let’s get to the business of rapping up the year a bit and see how I did on those pesky resolutions I set last year.

1. Begin a Running Program

Success! I’m still running, though not as often as I would like, or as far as I thought I would be by now. But hey, this time last year I could only run like a minute or 2 at a time. And now, I can run a 5K and not be sore the next day. It’s all about progress, Baby.

2. Go organic and significantly reduce meat consumption.

Probably my most significant success. I very rarely eat meat these days, and basically consider myself a vegetarian. I also participated in a crop share. While I’m not 100% organic, I am tipping the scale more and more and have cut most artificial crap out of my diet.

3. Do yoga at least once a week to reduce stress and improve strength and flexibility.

Fail. I got into biking and swimming….but it would be nice to get into yoga again. Just gotta figure out how to make the time. I’m not to upset about this fail considering all the other successes I had.

4. Cook one new and exciting dish a week – and blog about it!

I rocked this one early last year, but lately it’s all been fast stuff. So Semi-success. I didn’t really blog about it though. Oh wellz.

5. Complete the 6 basic personal finance foundations from ramit’s book/blog – I Will Teach You to be Rich.

Major fail….which is a bummer. I definitely need to make this a higher priority next year.

6. Join a club to meet people in Charlottesville.

Multiple checks. I did kickball, ultimate frisbee, and bible study/church. Even though most of them weren’t the best fit for me, I did much better getting out and putting myself out there.

7. Get out of the house more – ex: study in new places

Big check! I’m way more sociable than last year. It helps though, that I have more friends :).

8.  Take more photos and make more time for scrapbooking.

Fail…… yeah.

9. Communicate!!!! – Tell people how I feel and quit bottling everything up.

This was a big success for me this year actually. Although, things often didn’t end up how I wanted them to, I’m glad I had the courage to speak up early and stop wasting time in certain situations.

 

As you can see, I had a pretty successful year. I’ll write more about this soon, but I can’t believe how much better life is at the end of 2010 than it was at the beginning. I really reinvented myself. And, I think this blog played a significant part in that. Working out and eating better made me stronger and have more energy, and I used that energy and confidence to improve a lot of other areas in my life. I changed crappy situations I was in even though I didn’t fully want to. And life is much better for it. I’m very proud, thankful, and blessed to be where I am today. I hope I can continue this momentum in 2011!