Friday, November 28, 2008

Direction

I watched the movie, P.S. I Love You tonight. I like the movie a lot, it’s a good chick flick, not a great film by any means, but an enjoyable piece that is needed every once in awhile. As I sat there and watched the story play out in front of me I began to think about my own life – which is nothing like the lives of the characters in this movie – and I became frustrated with myself.

Like so many other twenty-somethings, there are a million different things that I want to do with my life but I have no idea where to begin. I feel as if my opportunities are dwindling and that I’ll regret not taking advantage of everything in front of me. I don’t want to end up stuck somewhere doing something out of obligation when it’s not what I’m meant to do. The problem is that there are so many things I would like to try and I can’t close one door if I haven’t seen what’s behind all the other doors. The reality is that no one can do that. It’s too overwhelming and just plain impossible to know every possibility out there. I know that, but it still feels like I’m failing life.

My head knows I am not failing. Logically I know that I could be way worse off in life than where I am now, but my heart doesn’t believe my head. My heart aches because it wants more. It wants more than the comfortable life I have come to know. It wants adventure, it wants excitement, it wants accomplishments, and it thinks a man with an Irish accent wouldn’t hurt. ;)

It seems like there are so many great things out there just beyond my grasp. I’ve always been told that I can achieve anything I set my heart and mind to accomplish; I just have to work hard for it. But that begs the question; since I do not have the things that I want, does that mean I don’t want them badly enough or I have I not worked hard enough for them? Maybe. I don’t know.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that this feeling is unique to me. It’s a common “twenty-something” experience. I get that, but it doesn’t make it any less real for me. I want independence. I want individuality. I want to make my mark. I want to be recognized for the things I am good at. But most of all, I want to be able to express everything that is inside of me in a coherent way. There is something inside me that is worth letting out. If only I could make sense of it all. I can’t put words or pictures to it. It’s inexpressible, but it’s real, and I want so badly to share it.

I just don’t know how.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day

Many of my friends were worried about me today. Never have I received more looks of concern and pity than when I informed them that I would be spending Thanksgiving at my apartment – alone. For some of them it was as if they thought they hadn’t heard me correctly and just stared. For other friends I could see the wheels turning and it was fun to predict at what point they would extend an invitation for me to join their family.

The truth is that I have enjoyed my day alone. Yes, it might have been fun to have someone around to share my cooking adventures with, but I haven’t really been up for large crowds lately and a bit of solitary time was greatly needed.

I slept in this morning – not terribly late, only about 8:30 or so, and spent the first part of the morning in bed watching the Today show and Good Morning America. I watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade until about 11 and then got up to begin working on my various food dishes. My parents even called this morning from their cruise to say hello and it was fun to talk to them.

I attempted four new low-calorie recipes this weekend. Last night I made a pumpkin cheesecake (it had to chill overnight). I made the topping this morning and it’s still chilling in the fridge – I’m planning dig into it later this evening. I made a spinach-artichoke dip that turned out quite well. It’s a little “spinachy” for my taste, so I think next time I’ll use less spinach and more artichoke, but overall it was great. I also tried two versions of Mashed Potatoes. The first used cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes. You still use one large potato, but it’s mostly cauliflower. It didn’t turn out too bad, you can definitely tell it’s not all potato, and I think I added a little too much milk so it was a little runny, but overall good. The second potato recipe was better (and has 30 more calories than the first) and consisted of all potatoes – no cauliflower substitutions.

In case you didn’t notice, there was no actual turkey on my menu for today. I had intended to make a small turkey breast for myself, but then decided at the last minute that it wasn’t worth the effort. I don’t care enough about turkey, the chicken I made earlier this week is sufficient. :)

All that to say, my Thanksgiving has turned out well enough so far – despite being alone most of the day – and I hope yours has too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Plan D

As some of you have heard already, my grand adventure has been postponed. I found out last Friday that foreigners are only allowed to be in the collective EU countries (except for the UK and Ireland) for up to 90 days in a 180 day period. I had been under the impression that the policy was in effect for each country not all of them as a whole. So, that means that I cannot go on my 10 month adventure – at least without the risk of being discovered and deported or paying individual visa application fees to acquire a visitor visa for each country I plan to visit after my 90 days are up. Neither of which are options.

It’s looking like my Plan D (since I’ve changed my plans so many times already) is that I will stay at SPU through the end of August and travel all of September, October, November, and most of December. I’ve picked a few countries that are most important to me and will be hitting those places. I’ll just have to go back at some other point in my life to see the rest of the places I had to cut out of the trip.

It’s extremely disappointing that my trip will not be beginning for such an extended period of time and that it has been shortened significantly. I don’t doubt that I will still have an amazing experience, but it’s just hard to let go of something I’ve wanted and been planning on for such a long time now. In reality, it’s probably a much better scenario anyway. I will be able to save more money since I will be putting off quitting my job. Plus, I’ll be able to stay I was at SPU for three full years, which makes me a bit more marketable, especially in this volatile economy. There’s still no guarantee that I’ll be able to find a job once I return in December and start looking, but it’s more likely that if I did find a job before I left that they would hold it for me for 4 months rather than 10. (It’s probably still an unlikely circumstance either way, but I can hope can’t I? J) Plus, when I return after traveling I will not have completely drained my savings account. There will be a significant chunk missing from it, but there will still be something there to help me get started on my next phase of life.

I’m reconciling this idea and am beginning to take hold of it. If some other opportunity came knocking I’d accept it in a heartbeat. For now that does not seem to be in the picture and I think I can accept that, let’s just hope I can survive another summer conference season.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quick Fixes

Our society isn’t patient at all. We want things now and we convince ourselves that we need things now. What’s happened to us?

I was a the pool last night and I had to wait in line for 10 minutes for the cashier to finish whatever it was that she was doing before she could help the growing line of customers waiting to get into the locker rooms. I found myself anxious and annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to start my swim promptly at 7:30. I even considered leaving since I obviously wouldn’t be able to get in my full 1 hour workout. I had to stop myself and think about how ridiculous I was being.

A friend of mine is trying to lose weight so she is doing a cleansing diet. She knows someone else who has done this and lost 15 pounds (or something like that) in a week and has continued to lose weight since then. Of course she is losing weight, she isn’t eating anything. What’s going to happen once she starts eating again? It’ll all balloon back on. The only tried and true method of getting the body you want (unless you’re born with an amazing metabolism and perfect genes) is to work hard getting in shape and eating right. You can do all the other fad things but in the long run it’s only a healthy lifestyle change that is going to make a difference. The weight may not be off tomorrow or even next week, but 10 years down the line take a look in the mirror.

There are a series of people in my life (or people I am acquainted with) who have recently been married or gotten engaged after only dating their significant others less than a full year before popping the question – one couple was as short as two weeks. Granted each situation is different and each couple is different. Some have known each other much longer than a year, but still, marriage is a huge thing, not something to rush into. Being friends or knowing someone is totally different than dating him/her. People change so much and I think you have to go through a few changes with that person in order to know if you’ll be able to adjust to the changes you’ll encounter together for the rest of your lives.

My computer has been acting slow and it’s frustrating. But I have to remind myself that 10 years ago it would have taken our top of the line household computer a whole day to complete the tasks that I am now able to complete in an hour. The computer wasn’t slow then so why should I complain if I have to wait an additional 2 seconds for a website to load?

I know it’s not exactly comparing apples to apples, but it’s also not apples to oranges. There’s a huge shift in our society and people are impatient. We’re hurrying and running around and not taking the time to enjoy life and just be. Our economy is plummeting and everyone wants a fix now. Well I have news for you all. The economy didn’t die overnight and it isn’t going to come back overnight. It’s going to take time. I’ve come to realize that time is the most precious commodity. What I want right now is time. Time to learn, time to explore, time to sleep, and time to just be.

Yes, I’m anxious to live my life and know what is in store for me, but I also know that it’s going to be here and gone before I even realize it. I don’t want to look back and ask where all the time went. I want to look back and be able to say that I enjoyed my time and experienced every moment of it. It’s a lot to ask for, but you can’t expect something to happen if you don’t hope for it. I’ll leave you with this quote.

“Many people don't lose because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit." -Les Brown

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Fritz

Last night I went to Fred Meyer to purchase some groceries for the next few weeks. As I entered the store I set off the sensor alarms at the door. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise to some of you as I have been setting off store alarms for a few months now. At one point I thought it was my purse – so I switched purses. Then I thought it might be the electronic clicker for my car – so I took it off my keychain and stopped using it. That did help, but I still set them off about 50% of the time. My last resort was to start turning off my phone when I walked through the detector. This has helped but I’d say I set alarms off about 25% of the time now. Pretty much always at Fred Meyer and Office Max.

Basically, it’s an embarasement to be me.

Friends will not walk into a store with me. They demand that I let them enter before or after me in order to avoid the awkward stares that I receive. It’s gotten to a point that I don’t even stop anymore. If someone wants to question me go ahead, I have nothing to hide, but I’m tired of feeling bad everytime I set off an alarm. I just say a little prayer and walk through the sensors – hoping that they wont go off. I’m still a little convinced that it’s my phone setting them off. It’s old and needs to be replaced but I’m waiting to get a new one until I’m back from Europe.

I decided today that it’s probably a good thing for me to get used to people staring at me awkwardly. That’s probably going to be my life for the next year as I travel in places where I will stick out from the crowd. Life is funny that way – Lemons to Lemonade I guess.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Silliness

I went to a living room concert last night. This musician travels around to people’s living rooms and performs for whoever they invite. He does it because he likes the intimate gathering of people and finds that people appreciate what he has to offer more in that type of setting than in a coffee shop or bar or wherever. He sells his CD’s and chats with everyone and it’s a great setting to get to know an artist on a personal level not just as a “musician.” I really enjoyed this guy’s music and his lyrics were well written: articulate and clever. I wanted to buy a CD or two, but I had to put it in perspective. 1 CD = food for a day while traveling, 2 CDs = museum entrance fee, 3 CDs = 1 night’s lodging.

The person who hosted this living room concert is a former SPU student and now attends a local church that is heavily attended by SPU students and graduates. I mention this because there were about 30 people in attendance last night and five people (including the artist) were males – although technically the artist and his friend (who came with him to help set-up) shouldn’t count. Adding to the SPUness of it, the artist’s friend and one of the other guys in attendance were married and one of the guys appeared to be dating one of the girls there. This leaves only two single men; the artist and a former SPU male – who by the way is a notorious single guy that is “just friends” with everyone, oh wait, isn’t that an attribute for all SPU guys?

So there I sat, in a room full of girls listening to an attractive, single, talented, Christian singer/songwriter play his guitar. Heaven help us all.

As soon as he started playing I could feel the mood in the room change. It went from, “hmm, this is kind of awkward,” to “ahhhh.” Every girl was instantly falling head over heels for this guy. Even the girls who were “taken” displayed a girlish grin as they swayed to his music, and how could they not when his opening song was about a relationship with a girl? As the night progressed everything became more interactive and he had us all in the palm of his hand when he sang his “break-up” song (which really is a great song). I could even feel myself succumbing to his powers.

I started to convince myself that every time we made eye contact it was a sign of his interest. And when he didn’t seem to be making eye contact, it meant that he couldn’t because he would be too distracted by the sight of me and would mess up his set. (Because we all know that I have that kind of power over men - LOL) Then every girl in the room became my enemy. Anytime they laughed at his jokes or expressed enjoyment of his music it was a threat to the connection that he and I shared; our unspoken love that should have been obvious to them all.

I found myself annoyed by one girl in particular who seemed to keep interjecting herself in the group conversation. Offering unnecessary comments and sharing ridiculous stories, she was so obvious about her crush on him, not quietly playing it cool like me. Of course, I had already decided that he was not the kind of guy who went for the obvious girl, but preferred the girls who, in a setting like this, sat back and observed and enjoyed the music, instead of ruining it with her comments.

Don’t get me wrong, I participated in the sing-a-long and laughed when it was appropriate, but is it really necessary to hum and try to harmonize with a song that you don’t know just so you can look like you’re “into” the music and show off your vocal skills – which in reality aren’t actually that great? I hate it when girls do that. At the end of the night I spoke to him for all of 30 seconds none of which really related to me. But, that’s ok right? We shared an awkward silence which meant so much more – obviously he felt exactly the same way about me but just couldn’t find the words to express himself or a good way to start a conversation.

After we left I was talking to a friend who had also been at the party. A few minutes into our conversation I realized that we felt exactly the same way – convinced that he was going to e-mail us the next day expressing his passion and love for us. He had each of our e-mail addresses since we had signed up for his e-newsletter. How could this be that we each left with the same impression? How could it be that he wasn’t in love with me after I had sat there for an hour politely listening to him and not being overly flirty with him (like the one girl)? I instantly shifted to a bitter level. Fine, if he doesn’t want to be with me, it’s his loss. He can go flitter around the country with the crazy girl. What do I care? I’m amazing and if he doesn’t see that then he’s not worth my time.

Then it hit me.

I am the crazy one.

It’s no wonder that boys think girls are confusing, and it’s no wonder we think they’re confusing. We’re all too busy reading into the things that are happening around us instead of actually taking the time to see situations for what they are. Yes, it’s possible that this musician liked me, picked me out of the crowd, and I was his muse for the night, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely, and that’s ok. I don’t really think it’s a girl thing either. I think it’s human nature. We see what we want to see and interpret it how we want. It’s really us confusing ourselves. If we took the time to see that an apple had fallen out of the tree we wouldn’t be running around convinced that the sky had fallen.

Maybe it’s time for me to start appreciating the reality of the world around me instead of the possible interpretations that each situation could potentially be. It’s exhausting to have to consider all the different scenarios and frankly it is unnecessary. I do have to admit though, it is highly entertaining to watch.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Day with Rick

I spent most of today in Edmonds at the Rick Steves Travel Festival.

I arrived at the Edmonds Theater just before 9am (when my first "class" started) and went to four sessions. I learned about Ireland in my first session, Eastern or Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary) in my second session, Spain and Portugal in my third session, and Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in my last session. There was a 2 hour break in between the 2nd and 3rd class where I ran to Costco to make some returns and do some shopping and then checked out the Rick Steves Travel Center where I purchased some plug converters that will be necessary for my trip. And of course I ate lunch somewhere in there too.

After today I am even more excited for my trip to start. I will admit that I'm a little stressed out about all the things I need to figure out before I go, but I am excited and hopeful and ready for the adventure! There are so many cool things out there that I want to see and experience and I'm sure there will be many more things I'll discover along the way!

I did find out some unfortunate news today as well. A friend is going through a very rough time and my heart goes out to her. At the same time I am angry with the person who is the cause of the situation. I am a very loyal person and when someone hurts my friends my first instinct is to hurt them back - even if I wouldn't be capable of doing it or following through, it's my immediate thought. I wonder if this means I'm a fight and not a flight person? I'm not really sure since I don't know if I'd follow through with my instincts, but it's something to ponder. All that to say, I hope my friend feels better. I know it's a crappy situation that only time can heal. And if she wants me to, I will dress up in a bear costume and maul the person responsible - she just has to say the word. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Making It Real

As much as I have told myself that my European adventure IS going to happen, a part of me knows that it is not final until I quit my job, purchase my plane ticket, and pack up my material things. This is a huge deal and as it quickly approaches I am beginning to realize how much I need to finalize my plans - the biggest thing being that I need to tell my boss that I’m quitting. That’s a hard thing to do. I hate closing doors even if it’s to open a new one, but as a friend blogged yesterday, in order to take a step forward we must let go of what’s behind us.

I need to let go and I think I am ready to do it; it’s just terrifying to wonder what is ahead of me. I have no control over the future anyway – whether I go to Europe or not – but if I don’t go, I know that I will still have my savings account, a job, and somewhere to live. There is security in that even if it’s not doing what I want. I could easily let the fear of the unknown stop me but I refuse to. Maybe I’m just being stubborn at this point, but I’ve come so far to mentally prepare for this journey that I can’t turn back now.

I think the hardest thing is knowing that I’m going to miss big moments in my friends’ lives. I already have three weddings that I will miss and I’m sure there will be others that I just don’t know about yet. Babies are going to be born, my former residents will graduate from college, and it’s possible that my grandma will not make it to 2010. It’s hard to accept that I may not be around for these moments, but I have to remind myself that even if I decide to wait another year or two to take my trip, there will always be things I’ll miss out on. I can never be present at all the moments.

It’s a selfish thing to say, but I need to put myself first and I need to take action. If I don’t do it now, I never will and I will regret it. I don’t want to regret anything in my life and to this day there are only a few things that I wish I had done differently – one of which is studying abroad. By taking this trip I have the opportunity to make up for that regret, and who knows, perhaps I’ll end up making up for some others in the process.

My trip is a reality. It’s almost upon me. I’ve decided my last day of work will be January 23 and I’ll be leaving for Europe the first week of February. Yep, it's definitely final.

There’s no going back now…

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Routine

I need to get back into my routine. Desperately.

I haven’t swam in about two weeks and I keep having special occasions where I tell myself I can splurge just that once. Except that it’s happening more and more frequently! Ugh …

I can feel my pants getting tighter and I can feel myself becoming more lazy and lethargic. I need my routine back and I am taking it back starting tonight.

I will either swim or do a cardio work out for a full hour tonight. This is my goal and I am sticking to it.


and no more chocolate for today…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Friends

I truly have the best friends in the entire world. I’m sure everyone thinks that of their friends but I just want to set the record straight here. I win. I am the most blessed because my friends rock. J Let me give you a few examples …

I had coffee with a friend a few weeks ago – and by coffee I mean hot chocolate (or sometimes chai) because as you should know, I hate coffee. We were talking about our future travel plans and she was completely engaged in what I was telling her. As I was talking I asked about her plans and she looked at me and responded, “are you sure you’re done?” Now, this may sound sarcastic via this online posting, but it definitely did not come across that way in person and was not intended that way. I was taken aback by the selflessness of her actions and the selfishness of mine. She sat there and listened to me go on and on and on when she had big news of her own to share. I was just so wrapped up in my story that I didn’t bother to check in with her first. Friendship point for her, zero for me.

This last weekend my brother and sister and I threw a surprise party for our parents to celebrate of their 50th birthdays and their 25th (almost 26th) anniversary. A friend of mine texted me on Friday to check in and see how things were going. I hadn’t talked to her about the party in probably over two weeks! It made me remember how she had told me she was going to go skydiving and I didn’t remember to ask her about the adventure until a picture had been posted on facebook. Now, I don’t remember is she told me when the adventure was going to be taking place, but I still should have remembered. No friendship points gained for me here, one for her though.

A friend called me a few weeks ago to say hi. That was it. She just wanted to tell me that she had enjoyed hanging out with me a few days earlier and that she hoped I would have a great rest of my day. How could I not have a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day? Point for her.

There are so many more stories I could share about different friends asking me for advice and sharing stories with me. I love knowing that my friends respect my opinion and care about what I have to say. I am thankful when a friend can confide something in me or share something personal. I feel as though our friendship is validated and real and not forced.

I have always felt like I have surrounded myself with awesome people and recently I have just been noticing more and more how true that is. In the last few months the little things that my friends do to show me they care have become abundantly clear. I’ve even begun to hold a mirror to myself and wonder if I am being as good of a friend back to them.

So to all of my friends out there – thank you for being amazing and wonderful. You mean the world to me and I would surely be lost without you. I hope that I can be as good a friend to you as you have been to me because you deserve to have an equally good friend, we all do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Looking for Recommendations

I've made a list of the countries I want to visit on my trip and now I am researching what to do in each country and which cities I need to make sure to visit. Below is a list of the countries and the approximate amount of time I am hoping to spend in each place. It added up to 52 weeks exactly - which is a little strange, but kind of cool.

Basically, I am looking for recommendations in each country. I know the basic stuff that I want to see and do, but since I also want to explore everyday life and not just the tourist stuff. I'm hoping that people who have been to the various locations might be able to offer suggestions. Also, the time periods aren't set in stone by any means. If you think I'm spending too much time somewhere or not enough - let me know!

Thanks!!!

England - 3 weeks
Ireland - 2 weeks
Spain - 2 weeks
France - 4 weeks
Portugal - 2 weeks
Belgium - 1 week
Amsterdam - 1 week
Germany - 4 weeks
Denmark - 2 weeks
Norway - 2 weeks
Sweden - 2 weeks
Poland - 2 weeks
Czech Republic - 2 weeks
Austria - 3 weeks
Switzerland - 2 weeks
Italy - 4 weeks
Slovakia - 2 weeks
Greece - 4 weeks
Turkey - 2 weeks
Russia/Ukraine - 2 weeks
Morocco - 2 weeks
Egypt - 2 weeks

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Exhausted

For those of you who do not know, I am back at home in Lakebay this weekend. It is my parent's 50th birthdays this month and my brother and sister and I are throwing them a surprise party that is also going to celebrate their 25th (almost 26th - in January) wedding anniversary. They have pretty much caught on to the idea that we're doing something but I am pretty sure they do not have a clue as to what extent it is going to be. We're trying to make the party fancy and it's turning out to definitely be different than any other party we've ever thrown at our house - and we've thrown some good parties.

As excited as I am for the party, I'm also really stressed out about it. Everyone is showing up at 6pm tonight (the parents at 6:30) and I need another day to get everything ready! We're probably about halfway done getting the room ready and we still have to cook and prepare everything. We also decided we're making pasta. I thought it'd be an easy thing to cook for a large quantity of people, but I'm now beginning to process and ask myself how I'm going to keep the chicken and mean sauce and pasta warm between the preparing stage and the eating stage. I really am hoping this doesn't all just blow apart in my face.

I'm already WAY over budget, which is frustrating because I'm going to end up paying for a huge chunk of the party (my brother and sister can't afford to contribute a whole lot) and I'm trying to save every penny for Europe! Agh ... so much stress ...

I probably shouldn't be taking the time to write this even - but I had to kill a half hour while waiting outside in case my high maintenance clients called - my work cell phone only gets reception in a few key areas at my parent's house. So far no calls - but my toes are for sure frozen.

Well ... I think that's it for the moment except that the view from our deck is fantastic right now. The blue sky reflecting in the water with the fall colored trees on the other side of the lake. It really is beautiful. I'm going to miss this when we sell the house.

Happy November Everyone!
 
free counter