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.

Monday Musings

So, my weekend looked something like this:

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Photo Credit: Angela Fu

UMD hosted the Southeast Collegiate Fitness Expo from Friday to Sunday and to say I had no idea what I was in for is definitely an understatement! I was required to go because I work at the gym, but once I saw the schedule of events, I knew that I would want to be there! What could be better than a gym full of other fitness instructors who love working out and nutrition as much as me?! I have decided that being around like-minded people is the best. 🙂

Saturday morning started off with an equipment-less bootcamp style workout led by Abbie Appel, a master trainer from Florida! Unfortunately, she didn’t bring the warm weather with her, but that room was full. of. sweat. We did a 40 minute workout: 8 minutes of work…a different exercise every minute…and then took a quick rest period. The class flew by and it was a perfect kick off for the events to follow on Saturday!

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She’s so cool she even took a selfie with us. 😉

After boot camp, I was famished because I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and I had ten minutes to hydrate, feed myself, and get to my next destination: Piloxing. Pilates + Boxing = Piloxing. And sweat. And fun. This trainer works in the D.C. area which is amazing because that means I can go to the class again sometime soon! I tried a bunch of different workouts on Saturday and ended the day in a seminar about social media…one, because it sounded cool, and two, because I just wanted to sit down!

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My mom sent me a care package last week and sent me all kinds of protein bars that sound like peanut butter and jelly. This bar was amazing and the perfect snack for my busy day. Why did she only send one?! Saturday night, we all had to find our second wind because there was a social at the UMD Golf Course. I really wanted nothing more than Netflix and pajamas, but it was so fun to see my co-workers all dressed up in “normal” clothes! We made sundaes at an ice cream bar with different flavors from The Dairy and danced the night away with what little energy we had left! Sunday started off bright and early with hip hop yoga…hip hop music playing in the background while we stretched and relaxed and restored our bodies from all the festivities of the weekend! I attended three seminars: one about personal branding, one about running, and one about body image. I took so many notes (#nerdalert) and left so excited about being a fitness instructor! There is just so much goodness about this job. What was left of Sunday looked like this…anything that required laying down, even homework, sounded great to me!

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During the weekend, there were certain seminars that we were assigned to monitor. Luckily, I monitored a session I wanted to go to! It talked about “fitspo” and how what we see on social media really affects how we think about our bodies, our exercise, our nutrition, and in turn, our happiness with ourselves. On Instagram, we are bombarded with images, but I feel like many of those are positive. My newsfeed is typically posts of people pre- or post-workout with an inspirational quote thrown in. However, there are so many “inspirational” pictures floating around the Internet that aren’t actually inspirational at all…they’re just degrading. That was not really something I had thought about before. I decided to look at my Pinterest workout board and see what kind of images I have been pinning:

I found six that made me shake my head. Three of them were shirtless images of Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, and Channing Tatum. I have no idea what that was supposed to represent for my workout life. Clearly, I am not a man;) But that kind of shows how men who aren’t celebrities might feel pressure to look a certain way.  Anyway, I have shared the other three here, but if you click on my Pinterest board, they’ve all been deleted.

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I feel like the body types represented here suggest that we should all be this thin. If you are a naturally thin person, there is nothing wrong with that. What I am saying is that you should not strive to push your body to an extreme that it cannot handle. I don’t have experience testing the jumping jack theory suggested on the left, but it seems kind of unrealistic to me. I do like the advice on the right…we can wish for whatever we want, but we are in control of our health, and that requires doing something to change your situation. Just like anything else in life. However, no one looks at that picture and gets all deep and thoughtful about the quote. When we remember that quote, we associate it with that picture. And really, I do not wear my sports bra to work out, so that picture just makes me feel bad about myself. I am proud of that girl for being so fit, though. 🙂

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If you clicked on this image on Pinterest, it took you to a page that told you how to get a nice butt. But honestly. I would rather see a photo with the actual exercises than these girl’s behinds. The bad thing about these images floating around is that even if we scroll right past them, we still think about them. Images are powerful and they can affect your thoughts. That is crazy to me. We need to change the norm so that we are surrounded by good thoughts and images!

Here…this motivates me to work! This is a great example of an image that is effective. We can’t play the comparison game because there are no butts to look at;) And it gives you steps to take the action you need to be a healthier, happier you.

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Another good example. Good message and an almost fully clothed girl;)

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Things that we say or read are powerful too. Luckily, most of the quotes I have pinned are about being a happier person. I was glad to see that after thinking about this topic. Here’s a quote that is everywhere in the media –> “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I would like to disprove this theory by asking you to think about all your favorite treats. Queso, peanut butter straight from the jar, and cookies are pretty tasty, too;)

You should use images and quotes and social media and whatever else you have to motivate yourself to be healthier. I am 100% supportive of that. I am just thinking that we need to do this healthy thing for us. It’s not even just about looks…you may compare yourself in other ways. Someone lifts heavier than you. Someone runs faster than you. Someone can do a crazy inversion at yoga. We just have to know that we are doing the best we can and that truly, we will only ever look like, run like, lift like, eat like, be like…ourselves. And occasionally, we don’t favor our own self. We want to be beasts;) So we need to practice using those thoughts constructively.

I have worked really hard to change my mindset. I want to focus on what my body can do rather than play the comparison game. I can run long distances, I can lift dumbbells that are heavier than they were at this time last year, and I can correctly do down dog in Yoga and PiYo classes. Do I wish that I looked a little different? Sometimes, but we all have goals. Your health is your life, not a short term goal. So at this point, my jeans still fit. I bought a bikini on Friday. And I really like dessert. I just have to be happy with the body I have and make those changes in a healthy way. When I have those days of feeling bad about myself, I hope that I still share positive thoughts and images with others. There was a time when I didn’t like how I looked and I thought that restricting what I ate and working out excessively would help me change my body. Both of those things did help me change my body, but I was also tired, craving sugar, and unhappy. There’s a part of being healthy that requires being happy. And being healthy doesn’t mean being skinny. I learned this. It’s a trifecta of working out, eating healthy foods, and being freaking happy.

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I challenge you to look at the images and social media accounts that you find inspiring. What is so inspiring about them? They should make you want to be a better person in all aspects of your life.

Happy Monday. 🙂

Special thanks to Alicia for leading such a thoughtful session!