Love Yourself

“Abs are made in the kitchen.”

“Don’t eat carbs after 4 PM.”

“Eliminate the toxins.”

“Eat your biggest meal in the morning.”

“Don’t eat any big meals — eat six smaller meals throughout the day.”

The Internet is inundated with quotes, images, articles, and even blogs telling you how to live your best, healthiest life. I am thankful for all of these resources, and yet I simultaneously find myself feeling overwhelmed by them. How do we even know what is best for our bodies? What is really healthy? And as a complete side note, what are we trying to achieve? I think the biggest question relates to your goals. What ARE you trying to achieve?

For a long time, I was obsessed with what I put in my mouth. I counted every single calorie that I consumed and I completely messed up my metabolism and menstrual cycle (sorry, guys) in the process. The “standard” 1,200 calorie diet does not and did not work for me and my body (though, depending on your height and weight, it might for you, and that is perfectly fine).

So what was I trying to achieve? Well, at first, it was to be skinny. Not healthy, not toned, just skinny. And I’m not going to lie to you when I say I loved being skinny. I loved having a thigh gap. I loved that my jeggings were too big. But I also KNEW deep down in my skinny soul that that lifestyle was not sustainable and healthy. I was hurting my body by treating it this way.

Since that time, I’ve become a more serious runner, I’ve added another group fitness certification to my resume, I’ve dabbled in Beachbody coaching…you could say I’ve tried it all. I just want that one magic “a-ha!” moment to come when I realize that THIS one way of eating and working out is the one perfect way. I don’t know if that moment will ever truly come, but in trying different nutrition plans and workouts, I find myself becoming both excited and exhausted. I love trying new things, yet I’m tired of trying to keep up with all the new and different things. I just want to live without constantly thinking about my workouts and my food. There are so many more things that are more worthy of my time!

With this in mind, here are three things I’m giving up in 2016.

Eliminating certain food groups from my diet.
I really don’t like the word diet, because as Chalene Johnson says, “You shouldn’t go ON a diet, you should HAVE a diet.” I much prefer her way of thinking. Either way, I don’t want anything to be off limits. This is not an excuse to eat anything that I want…I know what is unhealthy for me. I never crave fast food or highly processed foods because I don’t eat them. I want real food. But, as far as eliminating food groups that are good for me, like carbs, or good in moderation, like sugar…I’m not doing that. It creates an idea that food is “good” and “bad” and I’ve been there, done that. That way of thinking takes me back to my old ways and I’m not going there.

Feeling guilty for eating certain foods.
There just literally is no reason to do this. I am not overweight, I am not unhealthy, and even if I was, I don’t need to mentally beat myself up every time I eat something that isn’t “healthy”. So I had tortilla chips and salsa while I was watching “The Bachelor”. Worse things have happened. This guilt, in a way, stems from the phrase “clean eating”. To me, it sounds like I can never ever eat anything that isn’t considered healthy or on my list of “good” foods, and if I do, then I need to work it off or make it up in some way. I’m sure not everyone feels this way, but I really want to remove that negativity from my mindset, and having certain foods that are “good” or “bad” doesn’t work well for me.

Looking in the mirror and hating my reflection.
No diet or specific workout routine is going to make me love my body. I have to CHOOSE to love my body. I can’t promise you I won’t make a face at myself when I look in the mirror, but I want to practice positive thinking. I talked a little bit about this when I wrote my goals for the year. This is important to me.

There is a time and a place for a strict diet and workout routine. If you are working towards a healthier lifestyle, I am so proud of you. If you are training for a race or a competition, keep at it. I’ve trained for races where diet and exercise need to be fairly perfect so that I can perform well. But, in living my day to day life, I don’t want a whole bunch of rules and restrictions, whether they are part of a plan or just made up in my head, to control my choices and my thoughts about myself. I want to look back on my life and remember the experiences I had with my friends and family, the good food I enjoyed, the activities I loved doing…not all of the time I spent thinking about how to have the perfect diet, perfect workout routine, or perfect body.

I just want to be happy.

Who’s with me?

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Awkward and Awesome [1/29/16]

Happy Friday! I’m back with another round of “Awesome and Awkward” moments from the week. 🙂 Giving all the credit for this idea to Morgan at The True Life of MKH. It’s fun to read about these random moments in her life, and it’s just as fun to compile my own list. Of course, some of these random moments have also turned into some of my favorite things, because it’s all about the little things in life, right?

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-Getting really mad at the nurse at the gyno for weighing me and recording a ridiculous number…then coming home and realizing that number matches the one on the scale here, too. #eyeroll I like how I look, so I don’t care about the number. But I do. But I don’t. #itsamindgame
-Going out for mimosas and brunch with friends and being the first one to leave…this was mid-blizzard and we were at the only open restaurant one block from my apartment. I just really wanted to watch Netflix and lay in my bed. Hahaha
-Telling Amanda I would adventure with her and her friend to see Iwo Jima in the snow and backing out after three blocks. Hahaha! I really sound like the life of the party, don’t I? I didn’t want to get stuck far away in the snow with no way to get home! 😉
-Cohabitating with my roommate’s boyfriend…he was at our apartment all weekend during the blizzard and then come Sunday evening, he couldn’t get home. So while my roommate went to work all week and I had 234937 snow days, he and I bonded. Or something.
-When I raise my eyebrows, I get really attractive forehead rolls…

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Don’t mind Jake, he was busy trying to find a video from the local news on Facebook.

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-My friends and I were shopping on Tuesday and we met up with some friends of a friend while we were out. We all went to Duquesne together, so we had that in common, too. I recognized both girls, but I don’t think I had ever actually talked to them before. Upon meeting, they said, “Hey, didn’t you used to teach a Spin class in college? We used to come all the time!” Hey! Yes! That’s me! I’m the Spin teacher! 🙂

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-I left some gloves and other winter gear at my mom’s house in Pittsburgh, so she sent me a little care package with those things plus some of my mail. And of course chocolate covered Sarris pretzels! A $20 bill also dropped out of the box, but my favorite part was the quickly written note from my little brother. 🙂 #thelittlethings

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-The same cute baby brother who wrote me a note let me drive his new car when I got home on Wednesday night! My friends and I used to drive around aimlessly for hours in high school so it was fun to do the same thing with Jake 🙂 Most of my family members drive SUV’s so it feels weird to zoom around in a little car!

-While driving back to Pittsburgh, Kristen and I talked about (and Google-d) how spaceships land, how spaceships are driven, the U.S. mint, inflation, and how the world’s marketplaces figure out how much things should cost. We also recently discussed how the Metro definitely goes up hill while we are riding it, but it always feels like it’s moving in a straight line. I tell you these random thoughts to point out that we aren’t the kind of friends who are always staring at our phones…we are pondering real important things about life. 😉 Haha!

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-You have my full permission to judge me for this one. I LOVE THIS REMIX. Actually, I love all song remixes. Regardless, I don’t even like the regular version of this Fetty Wap song (because really? Your name is Fetty Wap?) but when the beat drops at 1:03, it makes my Spin teaching self so happy. Listen here; I know you want to. 😉

Around the Internet:

“Reserving” Your Street Parking Spot in the Days After Jonas #sassy
Short video about your BFF’s ex-significant other 😉 #stilllaughing
On Taking Charge of Your Career #justdoit
Why We Should Stop Saying #GirlBoss –> never thought about it this way until I read this but I totally agree.
Etsy Planners –> These remind me SO much of Erin Condren (design, layout, and customizing features) but are priced much lower!

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Bloggers, looking for a link-up? Click over to any one of these amazing blogs to join us for Friday Favorites!

 

Let’s Talk [January]

Andrea and Erika always plan such fun link-ups for us bloggers, and today we are starting the first of many “Let’s Talk” posts. On this Monday, it’s all about resolutions, goals, and what I’m looking forward to in 2016. 🙂 Link up with us here!

For the year of 2015, I chose one word to focus on and I wrote a list of eight resolutions, which I prefer to call goals because it makes them seem more do-able. I wanted to be more present in 2015 (my one word) and my resolutions (or goals) were related to all aspects of my life. Looking back, I only truly accomplished one of my resolutions from 2015. I wanted it to be a “yes” year and I needed it to be a “yes” year because I was brand new to my school, my city, my church, and so on. I can say with almost complete certainty that every time an opportunity to hang out with friends or try something new was presented to me, I accepted the offer. I even ventured out on my own a few times because I wanted to try new things and I didn’t care if I had to do them alone! I found community, made so many new friends, got more involved with my church, and accepted my first full-time teaching position in 2015, all because I decided I was going to say yes. So it was a good year. 🙂

I can hardly believe the first month of 2016 has already passed us by, but here we are. And I still don’t have a concrete list of things to accomplish this year. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I’m a list maker and a task do-er. I enjoy a challenge and I need to feel like I am constantly working towards something. But the list in my head feels more abstract this year, probably because there are many little things that I want to change as part of my daily routine that I think will improve my life overall. #woah #thatwasdeep

Here’s what I’ll be up to in 2016:

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  1. Read. Every day. There is zero reason not to do this, and absolutely every reason TO do it. It’s calming and I’m learning at the same time. I’ve become a huge fan of audio books, specifically of the personal development or motivational kind. Listening to those on the way to and from work really sets a great tone for the day! And reading before bed is just a good idea. I can actually tell when I get tired, as opposed to staring at my laptop and having the light of the screen make me think I’m not tired at all. 😉
  2. Pray. Every morning when I wake up. It’s idealistic of me to say that I will wake up every morning and have time to read my devotional and Bible before work. I could make it happen, but more often than not, I simply do not make the time. It’s terrible yet true. However, I DO have time to wake up and pray every day. How often do you wake up and immediately start thinking of the 2343329 things you have to do that day? I have started waking up, turning off my alarm, and immediately starting to pray. It works for me and I like to turn my thoughts to God as I start the day.
  3. Disconnect. Not from people, but from social media. If you’ve ever texted me, you may realize that I am terrible at responding. I often read the message, respond in my head, and then totally forget to type a real response. This drives my Dad absolutely crazy as most of our communication takes place over text (we have totally opposite schedules). BUT, I have also noticed that I turn to social media every time I feel like I have down time. Realistically, I typically only check social media on my lunch break and at night when I’m not as busy, but still, I am clicking on every app every time I pick up my phone, and that’s too much. I love the connections that can be made via social media but it is so easy to get sucked into a comparison trap. I, for one, like my mindset much better when I’m only checking into social media once a day. Though I do find myself thinking, “Wow! Look what I missed!”, I also feel calmer about everything that’s happening in my real life when I tune out social media.
  4. Think. This could mean a lot of things, but I really want to continue thinking positively in the areas of fitness and nutrition. I love teaching fitness classes and I love running, but it is so easy to pressure yourself to workout as hard as someone else. The same goes for what you are eating. Again, social media can be as helpful as it is detrimental. It is not helpful (for me) to compare what I eat and how I work out to someone else. Comparing makes me feel bad about my choices, and I don’t make enough bad choices to spend all of my time feeling bad about myself. I am unintentionally moving towards the mindset of not really being affected by what workout I do or what I ate that day, and as scary as it is to me to “not care” in a way, I also love it. And I want more. So I want to focus on thinking more positively about the choices I make so that I gain more confidence in this area.
  5. Run. Running is my workout of choice. My body, on the other hand, doesn’t always agree with me. Ha! I have spent the first month of this year solely focusing on strength training with a few random runs thrown in there and I really hope to see some positive changes in my running due to this extra strength I am building! I want to sign up and run at least one new-to-me race this year. No time goals over here, just smart, injury-free training and racing.
  6. Involve. I want to build the relationships in my life, with both family and friends. When someone wants to make plans, I want to be available instead of being “too busy”. I want to throw myself into my job and be more involved at my school. I want to step up at church and be more involved in the nursery. I want to be in the moment more. As I mentioned, I am a planner and a do-er, and it is all too easy for me to just “sort of” involve myself in my current life and spend far too much time day dreaming of what’s to come. 😉

As far as what I’m looking forward to? Well, I honestly don’t have that many concrete plans in 2016 yet. The highlight will certainly be graduating with my Master’s degree in Reading Education, but other than that, I want to seek as many new adventures as possible.

Bring it on, 2016!

2015: A Year In Review

If you had told me last New Years Eve that THIS New Years Eve I would be on Christmas Break from my first year of teaching, I don’t know that I would have believed you. My life last year was so very different than it is now, but there have only been good changes!

I moved to College Park, MD in August of 2014 to start my Master’s in Reading. I took on three part time jobs at UMD: a research assistant in the Education Department, a writing consultant at The Writing Center, and a fitness instructor at the gym. That’s how last year began…a new semester of grad school plus my three jobs.

This is for my own memory. You will likely be tempted to skim or scroll past some stuff. Ha!

JANUARY

Right after Winter Break, I drove back to Maryland for a work trip to Boston. My research team worked with another team out of Boston College that we communicated with via Skype and phone calls. We went up to see them for 2 days in January to get LOTS of work done in person! It was also -4 the entire time we were in Boston, so thank goodness we were only there for 36 hours. 😉 This was a typical work trip in that I truly have no idea what the city of Boston looks like because I was at the airport, in a taxi to Boston College, at Boston College, at our hotel, and then all of that in reverse. This month, I also started teaching PiYo and I took myself on an adventure to Annapolis because I had never been and that’s what you do when you have few friends in a new place! I ran to the MLK Jr. monument on MLK Jr. Day and I met up with Kristen for the first time to run the National Mall!

FEBRUARY

I taught PiYo once before teaching it on a stage. At the beginning of the semester, the gym has a sort of “opening night” for its classes so everyone can see what’s available. That was a little bit out of my comfort zone! I started training for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler (you’re welcome for the selfie) and spent a lot of time on the indoor track because it snowed a LOT this month and I was a big baby! I went to running group with my church almost every Wednesday and found lots of new-to-me routes in DC. My mom and Jake came to visit for Valentine’s Day and my best friend Stef visited a few weekends later. I also worked at and attended a Fitness Expo at UMD’s gym that brought fitness instructors from up and down the east coast!

MARCH

I remember watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy this month. Ha! I was obsessed and school kept getting delayed, cancelled, or closed early because of cold weather and snow. I made it outside when I could to keep training for the 10-miler, I took lots of selfies at The Writing Center (omg long hair), and I kept teaching PiYo every Monday morning and Tuesday night! My running group did a special run for those we knew going on a mission trip to the West Bank and I spotted the National Cathedral for the first time since moving here. And of course, my baby brother turned 16 and got his permit!

APRIL

And then it was warm. This was also the month I started tossing around the idea of applying for teaching jobs. My final decision was made while I was sitting in a Jason’s Deli. My memory, I tell ya… I was home this month for Easter and drove with Jake for the first time! I also went running on my favorite loop downtown (where I ran almost every morning in college) and I have a very vivid memory of tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and falling into a big X-shape. My leggings ripped, my hands were bleeding, I was half crying and half yelling, and then when I finally stood up…I kept running. Hahaha! I went to an event at UMD called “Grad Prom”, attended my first bonfire of the year in shorts and sandals, ran to Gravelly Point where you can see planes take off from Reagan National Airport, and ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. It was so fun to have my friends in town for that race! I’m a Beachbody coach so I went to a Super Saturday event in Baltimore and I also went to my first Nationals baseball game!

MAY

I started and successfully completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix Extreme program this month. I made a last minute decision to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon when an extra bib became available and I also ran to Gravelly Point for the first time. You can see the planes from Reagan National Airport taking off and landing here! My friend Sarah and I went to the Marine Barracks Evening Parade and my mom and my aunt came to visit for the weekend. We went to Atlantic City at the end of the month for Memorial Day Weekend and I rushed back to Maryland ASAP because I had my first teaching interview! My mom wanted to know what I was wearing and my dad wanted to see a picture of the Zipcar I had rented, so that’s how I ended up with that super awkward picture on the bottom right. Ha!

JUNE

First November Project workout.
First Duquesne Alumni Event at the Nationals vs. Pirates game in DC.
First adventure to Old Town, Alexandria, VA.
First time eating an apple fritter (that was the size of my head).
First time making and eating Strawberry Salsa for a Strawberry Festival Party!
Second Kenny Chesney concert.
Second Taylor Swift concert.
Second and third teaching interviews (third time was the charm!).

I also chopped all my hair off and spent a lot of time on the computer. It sounds terrible to say that in the middle of summer, but I was taking two online summer classes and apartment hunting!

JULY

My mom, Jake, and his friend came to DC for the Fourth of July. Kristen and I started training for the Marine Corps Marathon with a team of other runners from my church. I spent even more time on my computer, took my mom to see the elementary school where I was hired, started moving to my new apartment, and spent 10 much needed days on the beach!

AUGUST

I officially moved to my new apartment in Virginia. One of my friends from college also moved to the area so we spent a lot of time exploring DC together! I ate brunch with other DC area bloggers, made my first grown up purchase of porch furniture, and ran the Lincoln Memorial steps for the first time. I went home for a week to surprise my family (a conference I was supposed to attend was cancelled last minute), we celebrated Amigo’s 2nd birthday, and then I started new teacher orientation. My classroom was looking bare and empty! Kristen and I went to a Steelers bar to watch a preseason game, I went to Baltimore to celebrate my friend Shannon’s birthday, and I finally got tagged at November Project!

SEPTEMBER

A secret November Project workout that ended at a Biergarten in DC for yoga and drinks. My first day as a real teacher. 😉 The Pope came to town, I ran a 10k with my friends, I met Amanda for dinner, and I went to a 90s bar crawl in DC. I also made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for my mentors and coworkers as a thank you for helping me during my first month of teaching!

OCTOBER

My mom and my aunt visited the first weekend of October! My classroom finally started feeling like a real room. I visited the pumpkin patch and then I got sick for the first time in my adult life…not even ashamed of that selfie. I had a fever and a sinus infection and junk in my lungs and it was horrible and I had to take care of myself. Hahaha! I participated in a Blogger Scarf Exchange, spent time with my family from Indianapolis in DC, and went to New York City to see the marathon!

NOVEMBER

70 degree days meant evening runs as often as possible. I went hiking on the Billy Goat Trail, attended a Beer and Wine Festival at Nationals Park, and generally counted down the days until Thanksgiving Break. 😉 I flew home (which is unusual) for the holiday, spent time with my cousins, and helped my mom decorate for Christmas.

DECEMBER

Where did this month go?! There was a lot of Christmas cheer this month. I ran to see the Capitol Christmas Tree and the National Christmas TreeMy friends and I went to see Zoo Lights at the National Zoo. I took myself on an adventure to the National Harbor to see all of their Christmas decorations and check out the area. I went to a Christmas party and hosted a Christmas party, which I also labeled my birthday party. 😉 #decemberbirthdayproblems My mom, my aunt, and I made Christmas cookies, I met up with my college roommate for dinner, and of course, we celebrated Christmas. Then, we made a getaway to Hershey, PA and NYC for a few days!

Looking back, I was ready for this life (teaching and such) at the beginning of 2015. I loved being in school, but I wasn’t fulfilled doing a whole bunch of jobs instead of focusing on one job. The summer brought some stress as I started applying for jobs, interviewing, and apartment hunting. I also thought it would be a fabulous idea to take two online classes, so that just added to my stress. August was a wonderful month free of responsibilities, at least until I started orientation for my job. I was SO nervous to take the night class that I have with my job but after doing it for a semester, I realize it’s not ideal but it works.

In September, I remember being SO tired. I was overwhelmed, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing AT ALL, and I was just generally whiny to anyone who asked me about my life. In October and November, I feel like I started to hit my stride. I figured out that I will probably continue the rest of this year feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing…but having confidence to figure it out as I go is what is making me successful. I’m doing what I said I was always going to do…teach…and I’m doing kinda okay at it. I’m a perfectionist, so you will never hear me say I’m good. And let’s face it, as a first year teacher, I probably have some room to grow. 😉 I had a check up with my doctor last week and she was asking me about my life and just was amazed at how much has changed with me this year. She said she can’t wait to see what my life is like next year…and neither can I! Because I can’t even begin to imagine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! 🙂

The Road I Traveled

Happy Monday, friends!

Today I’m sharing all about my life over on Amanda’s blog. She started a new series in the hopes of having different people share their stories. We all make unique decisions and choices that make us who we are, so “The Road I Traveled” is a way for different people from different places to share their lives as young professionals! To read more about this series, click here.

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To read my post, click here. I am so excited that Amanda included me among the many talented and interesting people thus far! Thank you for having me!

Online Me Vs. Real Me [Day 16]

Wednesday, September 16: The real you vs. the online you. Are they the same or different?

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I want to be a person that others want to be around. But we all have good days and bad days…and on those bad days, we just hope people can still see the good in us. We give out to others what we feel, so it’s really important to work on ourselves first. That’s what I have gathered in the past few years, anyways. If you only know me via the Internet, your perception of me is likely what I am like in real life. What I say on this blog and what I comment on your blog are all things that I would say out loud in real life. 🙂 Of course, looking at some pictures, I did notice some things about “online” me and “real” me.

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Online, I show my friends and family the cute outfits I wear. In real life, I wear workout clothes as much as I can.

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Online, I post selfies when my hair is perfect, my makeup looks good, and I have a nice smile. In real life (and on Snapchat), I take selfies of myself 24/7 and I really don’t care what I look like. 🙂

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Online, I share all the healthy choices I make during my day. Because I really do make many healthy choices! But in real life, I indulge a little bit every day, too. I love kettle corn and sweet potato fries and candy corn. So sue me.

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Online, I share how much I love to run. Because I do love to run. But sometimes I get in my car, my face is as red as my friend’s shirt on the left, it feels like I live in the Sahara, and I wonder why the hell I just did what I did. Hahahasohogirl-1-5_2 IMG_9428

Online, I share my favorite trends. In real life, I put on boyfriend jeans and I look ridiculous.
Sidenote: Do you HAVE boyfriend jeans? Where in the world do you buy them? The ones at Gap are either super tight or super big on me! Help a sister out! 🙂

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Online, I share a perfectly filtered image of [insert activity here]. Here, it was me eating dinner on the beach. In real life, I take multiple pictures before I decide one is good enough.

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Online, I share how much I love my church and the time I spend reading my Bible. In real life, I have been to church lately, but I haven’t read anything in the past few weeks. Life is busy. And that’s not an excuse. But you know. These things happen.

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Keeps other’s feelings in mind
Yearns to feel fulfilled and fill the cups of others
Loves to laugh
Invites new experiences
Expects the best from myself and others

What kind of person are you?

Dear Me, Love Me [Day 9]

Wednesday, September 9: Write a letter to sixteen-year-old you. Any funny advice or stories?

I actually wrote this letter to my sixteen year old self when I was 21, but I edited it today to cover what has happened in the last two years. 🙂

When I was 16, I definitely had a lot of thoughts, dreams, and hopes about what would happen in the future. Some of those dreams became a reality, and other things I never would have expected!

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Dear 16-year-old Kylie,

The doctor did tell you that you would be tall, but he forgot to mention that your two little brothers would be giants! You will have to remind people that you are, in fact, the oldest.

Big feet will teach you that looking for the size “10” or “11” on a shoebox is more important than seeing if that shoe is actually cute. Size first, cute factor later.

The boy who gives you your first kiss will never be your boyfriend. And the next boy you have a crush on won’t feel the same way either. Hold on to your heart. There is someone amazing waiting for you.

The new church that you and your family started going to? You are going to become so involved with Youth Group and their summer camp as a counselor. You will meet amazing people.

It’s been a year since your Pap Pap passed away. Your Grandma will be sad for a very long time, but she will be part of your family for a few more years. She will see you graduate and go to college and she will be SO proud.

Dance classes will remain one of your hobbies for many years to come. But guess what? You’re finally going to be able to call yourself an athlete because you are going to find a sport you are actually good at…running. You’re actually going to love running long distances. Weird, I know.

Because you love running long distances, you will finally join the cross-country team after thinking about it since middle school. You will love it and wish you had been part of the team sooner!

You’re going to become very close with your younger brothers. I know you fight right now, but you’re going to become their biggest protector in just a few years. It will be awesome.

You will always be the kind of person who has a few really good friends rather than a huge group of “sometimes” friends. There will be many friends who are in your life for just a short time and that is okay. Remember that your friends are not always right and focus on what is really important to you.

You will get your drivers license exactly 6 months after you turn 16 and not one day later! Unfortunately, you will be putting the final touches on a project before you present at school and you will have a seizure. It will involve lots of neurological tests, tears, and will impact the rest of your life. I’m sorry you have to go through this.

Your best friend and family pet, Buddy, is going to be as energetic as ever until he is ten years old. The house will feel so empty when he passes away, but your family’s sadness will fade in time. Colby will make his entrance as a McGraw and you will wonder if there is something wrong with him because he sleeps all the time. Newsflash: puppies are like babies. They sleep a lot. 😉

Even though you think you are going to go to IUP or Slippery Rock because they are teaching schools, you’re actually going to fall in love with the campus at Duquesne. You will love being so close to home.

Pay attention to the people that you meet during Orientation your freshman year of college. Those are the people that will become your best friends and closest confidantes.

You will stop obsessing about your hair and makeup. In fact, you will probably simply brush your hair and wear no makeup some days. Can you believe it? Your aunt still won’t!

You are going to meet a boy who loves you just as much as you love him. He is someone that you will notice the first time you meet him, but you will be friends for a while before you start dating. You will be in a very serious relationship with him for 15 months – learning what it means to love someone that you see every day and love someone who lives far away from you – but he will break your heart. Luckily, you will have the best memories. You will find peace with your break up…but it will take a while. And that’s okay too.

You are going to try so many new foods and start to understand what it means to eat healthy. But first, you are going to chase the dream of being skinny. Being skinny will not make you happy. Don’t count calories and don’t workout because you ate “bad” food today. Eat because your body needs it and workout because you love it. This will be a mental struggle even after you have overcome this problem.

You will achieve a 3.94 GPA in college. No, that number will not round up to a 4.0. When you take your first science class in a lecture hall, I suggest you pay attention. But still, you will graduate summa cum laude. You go, girl!

You are not going to stay in Pittsburgh forever. I know that is shocking. You are going to discover that you want to attend graduate school and you want to attend graduate school in another city. Your heart will be set on the University of Maryland and that is where you will go. You will not know a single soul in Washington, DC but you will get a job, join a running group, find an amazing church, and love every second of it.

You will be pretty indecisive at times. Work on that. 😉

You will realize that “being an adult” means that literally no one knows what they are doing EVER and everyone just makes it up as they go along. TRUE STORY!

You will call your mom six times per day (at least) to ask for her advice. Take it every time.

You’re going to become a Spinning instructor and a PiYo instructor. Do you even know what Spinning or PiYo classes are? You’ll learn. And you’ll love it.

If you think you’re blessed right now, just wait until you’re 23. Your life is going to be amazing.

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Random Thoughts From My Random Brain

I was so excited to tell Molly my “blog schedule” the other day and then I opened my laptop to type a post last night and…crickets. Sometimes it’s just like that, right? You love to write and you want to write, but you look at the screen and it’s taunting you because it KNOWS you have nothing to say. But here’s the thing…I do have things to say. It’s just that none of them are long enough or cohesive enough for an entire blog post. So instead, I’m linking up with Amanda over at Running With Spoons for her Thinking Out Loud link up and you’re going to take a peek into my crazy random thoughts today. 🙂Thinking-Out-Loud2

// I’m a creature of habit.

I like schedules. And I typically go to sleep early and wake up early because #thatshowiroll and also, I get migraines when I don’t sleep enough. There are worse things in life than HAVING to go to sleep. 😉 But yesterday, I woke up earlier than I needed to and instead of starting my day, I fell in love with the feeling of my bed and went back to sleep until I actually HAD to get ready for work. That meant at 11:15 PM last night I was just getting around to my quiet time with my Bible. Do you know what yesterday’s passage in Jesus Calling said?

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“Be willing to fight for this precious time with Me. Opposition comes in many forms; your own desire to linger in bed…”

I felt like I was being called out by God. Who says He doesn’t have a sense of humor?! 😉

// I loathe car maintenance.

I claim to be a strong independent little lady UNTIL any sort of light comes on in my car. Then I need my Daddy and my Mommy. Ha! My engine light lit up when I was sitting in traffic the other day and I still have no idea why, even after a trip to the Jeep dealership today. I started listening for weird noises or anything out of the ordinary, and I didn’t notice anything…until I heard this BOOMING, thunderous noise and I almost pulled over and called my Dad right then and there! Except I was sitting in traffic near Reagan National Airport, so yeah, that thunderous noise was a plane taking off…

Another wonderful car moment this week was when my car got towed as I parked outside of a potential apartment for 15 minutes. But that’s a story for another day. #funtimes

// I’m working hard to be a prayer warrior.

I have this idea in my head that if I am not super well spoken when I pray, it doesn’t count or God isn’t listening. Which is not true. I just need to remember that if I stutter or trip over my words, that doesn’t make my prayer any less important. I have a lot of people in my mind to pray for and I need to get those words and thoughts out there, no matter how they sound!

// My taste in books is evolving.

I used to mock my aunt for reading nonfiction books and highlighting as she read. Last year when I became a Beachbody Coach, I started reading a lot of inspirational and motivational books that fall under the genre of “personal development”. I now LOVE these kinds of books and I even love the nonfiction books about religion or cooking or exercise. I find myself struggling to make it through the fiction books I used to love, and for some reason, I don’t want to accept that I prefer another genre of book now! I need to keep my list of 52 books in mind, because I am only going to complete (and enjoy!) that task if I’m reading books I am really interested in!

// House hunting is akin to dating. 

I live very close to UMD’s campus right now and that was the perfect place for me this year because of the jobs that I held and the classes that I took. Now that I accepted a teaching job, I need to move to Virginia. Need. The traffic around here is no joke! But looking for apartments/townhouses online is so much different than seeing them in person. The layout and location looks totally different in real life. Then there are your potential roommates: what do you wear? What should you say? First impressions count and you want to put the best version of you out there! (Sidenote: most of my friends recently moved and signed new leases before I got a job. Timing was not on my side here!) And then there is the whole making-a-decision-thing. Trying to decide what is best for you and makes YOU happiest is kind of a stressful process! I was originally excited about this process and I went from zero –> stressed in two seconds. But, the pieces are starting to fall into place so now I am getting super excited again!

// Your blog doesn’t have to be perfect.

You don’t have to post every day, have ten beautiful pictures in every post, or write the most meaningful thing out there on the Internet. Your blog is your little corner of the Internet and it can look and be whatever you want it to be. You don’t want your blog to look or sound like everyone else’s…you want to be unique and YOU. Take the pressure off. This is fun! (Am I talking to myself or you?!)

Thanks to Amanda for such a perfect writing topic for today! 🙂

– Has your car ever gotten towed?

– What books are you reading right now?

Uptown Funk

School is not my jam right now. I am in graduate school at the University of Maryland and I am working on a Master’s in Reading Education…so people look at me kind of funny when I say I’m sick of school. Because due to my major, I will likely be in school forever. 😉 However, there is a big difference between being IN school and teaching school…I went straight from undergrad to grad school. I think I’m ready to teach!

Right now at church, we are talking through a series of sermons called “Trip Around the Sun”. My pastor just wrote a book with the same name. 🙂 In talking about our trips around the sun, Pastor Mark has been talking about our experiences. Because our experiences are what make up all the years of our lives. Apparently, someone did a survey on a group of fifty people who were about 85 years old or older and they asked them what they would do differently if they could do their lives over. They said:

1. Risk more.
2. Reflect more.
3. Do more to leave behind (in regards to their legacy).

Today I am reflecting because I am oh-so-cranky about my blessings instead of appreciating them.

What I have been thinking all weekend:
“I can’t believe I still have a project and a final. I have never been in school this long in my life. Duquesne always ended in April. This is dumb. I don’t care.”

P.S. I felt completely stupid typing that out. It’s like when you say something out loud and you think, woah, that is ridiculous. Yeah. That just happened. But that is what I have been thinking…

What I should be thinking:
I am financially and academically blessed to be able to attend the school that I do. I have a job(s), I have amazing professors, I like my classmates, I have friends, I live in an amazing city…

Pastor Mark was talking about a sunset that he saw last weekend at the lake…the sun was setting on one side, the moon was rising on another…and it was one of the most awesome moments he’s ever seen. So he got us thinking. Not that we have to watch every sunset, moon rise, day break, etc…just thinking: how often are we looking down instead of literally (or figuratively) looking up and experiencing what’s around us?

I am taking “looking down” as “not appreciating”. 😉

Recently I have been getting very caught up in the big picture, which in my case is finishing school and getting a “real” job. I currently have three part time jobs. But I am so concerned with having a real job and “finally having money.” That’s what I keep saying. I’m not really even sure what I mean by that. But, that is not the point of a job, especially my future job. I am meant to teach children, not meant to worry about how much money I am putting in the bank each week.

“Don’t accumulate possessions. Accumulate experiences.”

I’m in the middle of an experience right now. It’s called graduate school. And it’s not my forever, but it IS my right now. And God put me here for a reason. So I’m going to pray on it…and reflect on it…and LOVE it. Because our trips around the sun are made up of the little moments and I’m in the middle of the little moments right now. Professional Development Project, I’m looking at you. 😉

So I am going to find the good in every last assignment, every final test, every last interaction with a professor or classmate…because nobody likes a downer. I’m choosing the positive.

Life-experiences-quotes

– How have you been feeling lately? Happy, silly, frustrated, sleepy, excited?
– How do you break yourself out of a funk?

If you’re interested, you can watch yesterday’s sermon HERE or listen to the podcast HERE.

Full Circle

A year ago, my mom and I came to the University of Maryland to meet my advisor and check out the campus. I had been accepted to graduate school, but I had no idea what this place was like. I knew that I could make my decision just by seeing everything…when I visited Duquesne, I just knew I was supposed to be there. And the same thing happened when I came here.

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We came down for the weekend right before Easter. We were on Spring Break and it was perfect timing! I had a meeting scheduled with my advisor and I had to figure out where I was going to live. Of course, we also made time for some fun adventures, like going to D.C…
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…after all, it is only 8 miles away. I have such good memories from this little weekend trip. In typical tourist fashion, we drove to D.C. and just expected to find parking. We ate dinner at Good Stuff Eatery and luckily, we found a place to put our car. We were not so lucky at the National Mall…I mean, it is The National Mall. 😉

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This picture was taken in motion…check out the tour bus to the left. The area that we parked in was reserved specifically for tour busses. My mom does drive a huge SUV but I don’t think that would fool a police man. Ha! So we quickly (illegally) parked and ran to take pictures. #touristproblems

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We went to Palm Sunday service at UMD’s Memorial Chapel…

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We explored the Inner Harbor in Baltimore…

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And of course we went shopping :).

I lived in the city when I went to school at Duquesne…I moved out of my house and did the whole college thing. But I didn’t really “go away”. I definitely gained a new love for Pittsburgh while I was in school because I met friends from so many different places around town and loved living near all the entertainment that a city brings. But I figured if I was going to be in school for a few more years, why not change it up? Why not go somewhere new? I had no idea how I was going to feel leaving everyone behind, but after the first visit to Maryland, I felt excited. I figured out all of the little details on our trip and now it was time to just be excited…so much so that we spent the 4th of July here because I just HAD to show the rest of my family where I was going.

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All of a sudden, it was August, and it was time to move in.

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I would be living with a random roommate, but lucky for me, she was also starting grad school. And she turned out to be super nice. 🙂

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It was a really big deal for me to leave home for the “first” time. And it was an even bigger deal to not know a single soul in my new city…but surprisingly, that didn’t scare me.

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First day of school 🙂

There are also a lot of things about moving somewhere by yourself that you don’t think about before you go…and no one tells you about before you go…that you just kind of figure out along the way. Example: I have a lot of friends, but they aren’t here. I can text them and call them, but I didn’t have someone to immediately invite over for dinner on Friday night. I didn’t have a partner in crime to go shopping with. My family wasn’t around to go to church with me. I am super happy that I ended up living with someone for my first year away because I don’t think I realized how much time I would spend alone. I actually am the kind of person who enjoys alone time, but it is definitely a challenge to make yourself do things by yourself that you wouldn’t usually do. It stopped feeling like a challenge and started feeling refreshing. I wasn’t about to sit in my apartment all day every day…I wanted to go do things, so I went and did them. When there were events happening that I wanted to go to, I went and made friends once I got there. Deciding to move and physically moving all of your things is one thing…deciding to make your move the best thing of your life, well that takes something special.

I did a lot of running…

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…and I did a lot of organizing. The weekend that I got here, I intentionally didn’t unpack all of my things so that I would have something to do once my family left. 😉

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I went to football games with my roommate and welcome week activities with other grad students.

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I baked…

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…and I FaceTimed with my dogs. Ha!

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And slowly but surely, I started to make friends. I met friends at church, I met friends in my running group, I met friends in class and at work.

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Friends to be had everywhere…but I had to make the choice to go find them. There were MANY weekends in my first semester of school where I drove home to Pittsburgh. It was something that I wanted to do, but I also needed to do at that time. I still wanted to feel connected. There were also times when I decided to stay put for the weekend…and then I would see pictures of my friends out and about and feel so left out. That made no sense to me because I love where I live, where I go to school, and what my life is like now. No one tells you what the transition feels like…I didn’t want to live a double live driving back and forth all the time, so I had to learn that my friends will still be my friends even if we aren’t together all the time.

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No one tells you that you might find it completely normal to go to the movies, go out to dinner, or go explore a new part of town…all by yourself. And just when you start to think you’re a weirdo, your family or friends come to visit and you get to brag about your new home.

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I found “my people” slowly but surely…now if I want to go to brunch or try a new fitness class or just hang out…I know who to call. But I’m also totally comfortable doing things I want to do all by myself. No one told me I would learn to get to know myself even more. 😉

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I have learned SO. MUCH. about myself in the last year. I feel more confident, more independent, and dare to say it…happier. I DEFINITELY was not unhappy at this time last year. I was student teaching, loving life, getting ready to graduate and go on vacation with friends. But I feel older. And wiser. And more thoughtful. I am more talkative…I didn’t really have a choice in that one ;). I am more connected in my faith and I think the move made me be more connected to the people in my life, both here and in Pittsburgh. When I think about what I was doing at this time last year, I realize I could have NEVER even pictured what my life would look like right now. And I am so happy to say that I love who I am becoming. That thought that we can plan and plan and plan…and still not know what to expect…is so exciting because WHERE does that mean I will be next April at this time? And where does that mean you will be? How much have we all changed in just one year? What will we be doing? How will we feel? What will our lives be like?

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I have no idea. But I can’t wait to see.