A much needed life update….

A much needed life update….

I just finished reading my last blog post which was a very long 3 months ago.  I feel like a lot has happened in the past 3 months – good things, not so good things, and everything in between.  Here is my attempt to reflect on everything that has happened and to share with the rest of the world what’s been going on.

GENERAL LIFE UPDATES:

  • I resigned from my old part-time job to take on a new full-time job.  The first 2-3 weeks of this job I was extremely stressed out and time-management became essential for my sanity (although I’m pretty sure I lost my sanity a few times in the process of settling in to this job)
  • I got my hair cut trimmed – this is a rare occurrence for me that happens 2-3 times per year.
  • I wrote a lot of letters to Angela because she was completing her internship in California.  I love writing letters and since she was on the other side of the country I took full advantage of writing and sending letters to someone!
  • I started mountain biking and road cycling a lot more.  In the past I was never confident mountain biking on technical and hilly trails.  Although I’m still not superwoman out on the trails and I still have to get off my bike sometimes and push it, I have gained more confidence in the past few months.  This is progress.  I also started doing more road cycling with a group which I’ve really come to enjoy.  I actually also participated in my first ever time trial (TT) a few weeks ago and although I felt horrible during it, I’m really looking forward to seeing if I can improve my time next TT!
  • I’ve attended 3 birthday parties – Josh’s neighbor’s son’s, Josh’s nephew, and my mommom’s.  We just had my mommom’s party last night and we got to do a paint night with an art instructor.  My painting can be best described as “special” and “unique” because I have very minimal artistic ability.
  • I had to get my Macbook repaired because the screen randomly stopped working.  Thanks to Apple Care, my screen has been replaced cost-free!  [this is also another reason I haven’t been able to blog!]
  • Unfortunately, with all these good things happening, I’ve still had an excessive amount of stress and anxiety these past few months.  It has gotten to the point where I have mini meltdowns over the littlest, pettiest things.  I’ve had a lot of decision making to do, a hectic schedule with nearly every day and night packed with something to do, and just general life stress.  Luckily I have very supportive family and friends, and a boyfriend who can put small things into perspective for me.  This, I have become very grateful for and I can realize in retrospect that the small, petty things that upset me really didn’t matter in the big picture.
  • I have resigned from the full-time job I took on in the beginning of the summer to take on a new job at the same place I completed my internship at back in April.  They called me a few weeks ago and offered me a job, and after much deliberation, tears, and praying, I decided to leave my full-time job for this new job.  So yes, in just 3 months, I’ve resigned from an old job, accepted a new job, resigned from the new job, and accepted a new-new-newer job.  I will have a lot more potential at this new job than at my current job and it’s directly related to my exercise science degree.  This is the right move for me in the current moment and I am excited to officially start this new job later this week!

RUNNING UPDATES:

  • I’ve gone exploring with Josh!  We started expanding our trail running boundaries beyond New Jersey and Delaware.  In the past few months we’ve done a couple runs at Fair Hills State Park, a run at French Creek State Park, a weekend mini vacation at Worlds End State Park, a day trip at Hickory Run State Park, and a day trip up Mount Tammany and on the Appalachian Trail.  These were all such great experiences and new trails always make us happy.  We haven’t neglected our usual running locations but we’ve definitely enjoyed expanding our trail interests.  I’m so happy to have such a great person to go exploring with!
  • My mileage is very low.  I haven’t been putting in nearly as many miles as I usually am this time of year.  My motivation has been low, my full-time job has made my life crazy, I have been riding my bike more frequently, and I was still trying to recover from the ultra.  This heat has also put a damper on my running spirits but I’m hoping that in a few weeks that September will bring cooler weather.
  • The mileage that I have been doing has been very slow.  I haven’t been running fast AT ALL and when I do I feel like I’m exerting all my energy.  This has been frustrating to me at times because there are times that I want to pick up the pace a little.  I rarely use my watch and when I do, I don’t look at my mile splits.  I would rather run by feel than stressing myself over numbers.
  • I ran the 4th of July race that I do every year.  I didn’t run a PR but I wasn’t expecting a PR either.  I knew I wasn’t in race shape for such a short race.  I had been ultra-training for 3-4 months leading up to that day.  I just needed to run the race to keep tradition.
  • I’ve done more 6 AM runs in the past 2 months than ever before.  Due to my work schedule, I’ve just found it easier to set my alarm for 5:40, wake up and get in some miles on the trail.  At first, my body hated it.  I felt extremely sluggish and my legs were achey.  But in the past few weeks, I’ve actually felt normal on these 6 AM runs.  This is progress for me.
  • I got a new pair of Altra LonePeaks and Altra Torins because I needed to replace my old ones.  I could feel the wear on them and I knew that if I didn’t invest in a new pair that I would become injured very soon.  These are still my favorite shoes and my favorite brand!

I think this pretty much sums up everything. In the past week and a half I’ve become obsessed with watching the US dominate at the Olympics.  Marathon training will begin next Monday and my new job will begin this Saturday.  Angela is coming home.  Fall is approaching.  There’s a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks and months ahead.

Things I need to remind myself moving forward:

  • everything works out someway, somehow
  • stay focused on your goals
  • don’t be afraid to take risks
  • be yourself
  • everyday is a gift – be happy!
15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 3 of 3)

If you missed part 1 and 2 check them out here and here!

#11:  Be yourself.  This seems pretty straight forward but I’ve seen people change they way they talk or act when they’re with others.  It’s extremely frustrating when dealing with someone with a double-sided personality.  The best thing to do for personal growth and life enjoyment is to just be yourself.  If someone doesn’t like who you are then so be it.  And if you don’t like how someone else is behaving or treating you, you have no reason to feel ashamed to cut them out of your life.  Cut out the negative people in your life and I guarantee your state of happiness will increase tenfold.  When you cut out negative attitudes in your life you’ll find yourself drifting more towards people who are like-minded.  These people are similar to yourself in work ethic, motivation levels, and approach to life.  When you embrace your own individual personality you’ll be happier and more truthful to those around you.  Don’t hide who you are because most likely you’re limiting your friendships and relationships with others.  Be yourself – you have nothing to lose!

#12:  Trail running is my favorite:  I think I’ve known this for awhile but this year I’ve become even more appreciative of the trails.  There’s something about being outside, breathing in fresh clean air, and getting lost in the woods that is mentally refreshing.  I’ve found it easy to lose myself while trail running.  I’m not sure what I’m thinking about during a trail run but when I’m done running I feel instantly less stressed and less anxious.  Perhaps I’ve become more appreciative of the trails this year because at college 90% of my runs were on the roads. There’s something special about the dirt shifting beneath your running shoes and leaping over roots and fallen trees.  I may not be a strong climber (and several of my trail running companions will probably agree with that) but I just love being outside surrounded by trees.  Here’s to hoping both me and whomever if reading this blog right now will find new trails in 2016 and that we’ll follow the trail where ever it might lead us.

#13:  I don’t like gambling.  This year I turned 21.  For my 21st birthday, I opted to visit Atlantic City’s casinos.  The appeal of possibly winning money seemed great!  Two of my guy friends and, unstereotypically, my parents came to AC with me to celebrate.  After dinner and some wine, we went to Tropicana to play the slots.  (I know nothing about table etiquette in casinos so we avoided the tables).  I didn’t win any money that night – I walked out with less money than I walked in with.  Granted, I don’t like spending money anyways so I really didn’t even lose that much money, but I was still unhappy that the casino “stole” my money.  That’s when I knew I would never have a gambling problem.  My brother and I also visited family in California this summer and one night we decided to go to a casino.  My brother is only 18 but we went to a casino on an indian reservation where the legal gambling age is indeed 18.  I don’t even think I spent any money that night because I knew that I would probably walk out with less money than I went in with.  On the other hand, I think my brother gambled $5 and walked out with like $30.  Just my luck.  He gambles for the first time in his life, at age 18, and instantly earns money.  This was the second occasion where I realized I would never have a gambling problem.  Casinos and betting of any sort does not appeal to me.  I can at least say I went to a casino to celebrate being 21 but I probably won’t be returning to the slots any time soon.

#14:  Make new friends and keep good friends:  This year, with so many new adventures, I got to meet a lot of new (and awesome) people.  A lot of new friends came from the running community.  As I’ve mentioned before, people from the running community instantly earn my stamp of approval because 99% of runners have the same work ethic and approach to life.  Runners are also extremely easy to get along with.  (That’s why I swear if I ever get married, I’ll probably be marrying a runner.)  There’s some special bond that runners instantly share whether you’ve ran with them once or twice or countless amounts of time.  I probably sound like a broken record, but I am extremely grateful for all my friends who I’ve met through running – you all have a special place in my life and I look forward to the miles that lie ahead of us.  Likewise, I’ve come to learn this year to keep my good friends.  These are the people that look out for each other, give you advice when you need it, and check up on you at random.  These are the people that made this year survivable because without them I would probably be mentally lost.  These are the people that I was excited to share good news with.  There comes a time in your life when friends you thought would be by your side for eternity are no longer there for you.  Or maybe these people were poor influences on your behaviors and actions.  It’s ok to say goodbye to these people.  You deserve the best life possible – after all, you only get one lifetime.  I’ll say it over and over again, I’m the kind of person that would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.  Choose your friends wisely.

#15:  Be a goal-setter and a goal-achiever:  Thanks to my Believe journal (which I encourage all (female) runners to buy), I set and achieved all the goals I established for 2015.  I had a life-changing year of running that will be hard to beat in 2016.  After running the Broad Street 10 Miler, completing 73 miles on the Appalachian Trail in three days, and completing my first marathon in under 4 hours, I realize the importance of goal-setting.  It’s easy to say “oh I want to run a 10 mile race” or “I want to go on a hike this summer” or “I want to run a marathon one day”.  By writing it down, making a plan, and then actually doing it you’ll feel an irreplaceable sense of accomplishment the day you reach your goal.  There’s a lot of preparation that goes into achieving a goal but it’s the feeling of accomplishment that occurs in the days following a completed goal that make you realize how powerful goal-setting is.  A lot of people will start 2016 with New Year’s resolutions (me included), but by writing it down and putting it somewhere where you see it every day you’ll having a greater chance of sticking to that resolution.  Find someone to hold you accountable for your actions (or lack there of).  Find a new workout buddy or drag your family members into your goal to keep you in check.  And it’s equally important to remember that you can be flexible with your goals.  If an injury comes along, you can alter your goals and then come back to your ultimate goal when you recover.  Set goals.  Work towards your goal.  And achieve your goal.  Let’s make 2016 another great year of goal setting and achieving!

I hope you learned a lot about yourself and your life this year.  Don’t lose sight of your dreams and aspirations.  Love your friends and family and, most importantly, yourself.

Wishing you a very happy new year with many blessings and good health in 2016.

 

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

Simply put, 2015 was a year of limit testing, adventure finding, friendship making, friendship keeping, mileage logging, destination seeking, stress managing, misty-eye limiting, knowledge learning, wisdom gaining, belief persevering, goal setting, goal reaching, and love enduring.

In the last few weeks of 2015, I will be writing three separate blog posts that total fifteen (of the many) things I learned in the past 365 days (I don’t want to bore you with an extremely long list of 15 things; therefore, I’ll break it into groups of five!).  Here’s part 1 of 3 – let’s jump right in!

#1:  Don’t be afraid to fight for something you think you deserve:  I learned this in the beginning of this past fall semester.  I had already secured an internship in Delaware over the summer and was merely one step away from having it approved by my university.  To my surprise (and to the entire exercise science department’s surprise), I was not permitted to do an internship in the state of Delaware.  Instantly, an overwhelming amount of stress weighed down on my shoulders.  Upon being informed of this by the registrar’s office, I met with my advisor and our department chairperson.  They were equally baffled by this new “rule” that nobody had been informed of.  I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with the dean of the college of science and technology.  He informed me of this new “rule” which had not been formally announced to the rest of the university yet.  I was basically being punished for being a prepared and responsible student which I didn’t find to be very fair.  I exhausted every option I could possibly get my hands into.  My professors allowed me to exhaust every option even though they probably knew it was a lost cause.  I wasn’t about to give up on something I had earned.  I needed this internship in order to graduate.  In the end, even though I had to find a new internship because my university refused to implement a grandfather clause for me and a few of my fellow classmates, I learned that sometimes things in life are going to be unfair. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight for something you worked hard for.

#2:  Trust God.  He has a plan for you:  When things don’t work out the way you want them to or detours re-route your life plan, trust God.  Things may seem unfair in the present moment.  You probably ask yourself over and over again, “why me?  Why is this happening to me?”.  In the past year there have been many detours that have left me feeling uneasy, stressed, and overwhelmed.  The doubts and fears in my mind played on repeat for weeks on end.  But then, things got better.  The things I was worried about worked out on their own.  Yes, I had to find a new internship but maybe this is where I was supposed to intern all along.  Yes, my housing plans for the fall semester got screwed over but perhaps it made me a better person for learning how to deal with difficult situations.  Yes, one of my best friends moved away but maybe God did this to prove that there is no distance apart that limits the bond between two friends.  Yes, my dad quit his job to pursue opening a small business but maybe this was God’s way of bringing a new purpose and new friendships into our lives.  In life, there will always be obstacles that will set you back.  Don’t let them keep you from moving forward.  No matter how stressful it may seem in the present moment, things will get better.  God has a plan and I’ve learned to trust His plan because there’s a bigger picture in life than what we’re seeing right in front of us.  If it’s not meant to be, it’s simply not meant to be.  Likewise, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Trust God.  He knows what He’s doing.

#3:  Don’t be afraid to try new things:  I’ve always been the kind of person that is 100% content with staying within my comfort zone.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I will use the same things over and over again if they work they way I need them to work.  But this year I made decisions that broke some of my norms.  One of the changes I made (which took a lot of persuasion from others and personal courage) is that I decided to switch to wearing Altras when running.  For my entire 7 years of running, I’ve always worn Asics.  Every pair of running shoes that I ever trained in were Asics.  I believed in Asics because I never dealt with injuries wearing these shoes and because I knew the exact tread and shoe model I needed for training purposes.  After talking to a few running friends who also made the transition to Altras, I talked myself into trying a pair for myself.  My dad, as a running/biking store owner, switched me into Altra Torins and I’m happy to say that I’ll probably never wear another brand of running shoes ever again.  My toes have space to move around, my feet lay more naturally in the shoe, and my running form has probably become more efficient (I say “probably” because I’ve never actually analyzed myself running so I don’t know what “efficient” and “unefficient” running actually looks like).  There’s no way I’ll ever switch back to Asics!  This was a huge step for me because I always avoid stepping outside my comfort zone.  Now, Altras are my new comfort zone.  #EmbracetheSpace

#4: Hard work will pay off in the long run:  I’m not just saying this because I’m a runner and I appreciate the pun, but to everyone who has ever worked hard to achieve their goals and aspirations.  For the past 17 years of my life, I’ve been attending school (this includes two years of pre-school because I guess one year wasn’t enough for me to learn how to count to 10).  Just a few weeks ago I officially finished all my college classes required to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  The only requirement I have left to complete is my internship which I will be completing in the spring.  I received my semester grades just last night and I couldn’t be happier with them!  I earned four A’s, one A-, and one B+.  For a semester of stress, chaos, six classes (5 of which were core classes for my major), and 18 credits I was ecstatic about the result of hours upon hours at the library and re-reading over and over again lecture notes.  Honestly, I expected maybe one or two A’s and the rest of my grades to be B’s. I never expected such a good outcome for a semester of hard work.  (And I apologize to anyone who thinks I’m bragging but I worked hard for 17 years of my life so I think I deserve to brag a little). But this just proves that when you put every ounce of energy into something you want so badly to achieve that you’ll reach your desired outcome.  I put 17 years of education into earning the ever-so-desired college degree and I am now only one internship away from having that degree.  If you want something so badly that you’re willing to put continuous effort into it, I promise that’ll it will pay off in the long run.  No pun intended.

#5:  Make your own path in life:  There are no written rules that require you to start at a four-year college or university.  There are no written rules that require you to stay at one college for your entire secondary education.  There aren’t even written rules that say you HAVE to go to college.  I will happily say that I started my college education at a community college.  All my high school friends went off to their respective 4-year colleges and I stayed home.  I don’t regret this decision one bit because I was able to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life, I found a part-time job and made some money, and I met a few of my closest friends who will be there for me through all the ups and downs of life (and who still today are my best friends).  Actually, these are the friends that inspired me to make my own path in life.  They might not even realize how much they’ve influenced my life but they have.  These people have taught me that it’s okay to take the path less traveled.  These people have taught me that you have to pursue that dream job you’ve always aspired to have or to cross that item off of a life bucket list.  After realizing that I can indeed follow my own path, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be attending graduate school after I earn my Bachelor’s degree.  People might view this negatively because young people these days are expected to get their Master’s degree to make themselves “more appealing” to employers.  Yes, I realize that this is a potential benefit of attending grad school but I feel at this moment in my life that I have other things to achieve and pursue than a Master’s degree.  I feel that the classroom limits how much you can learn and I’m excited to learn things in an applied setting.  This may be breaking the norm that society has created but there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored and fixed and I don’t feel that I can explore nor fix this world sitting in a classroom.  It’s all too common for people to fall into the “supposed-to” trap.  They might say “well now I’m supposed to find a job” or “now I’m supposed to get married” or “now I’m supposed to have kids”.  There is no “supposed to” for any of these things. I know plenty of people who haven’t followed such norms and these people are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met!  You don’t have to follow the norm of society.  Don’t let this crazy world determine what comes next in life just because “everyone else is doing it this way” – make your own path!

To be continued…

A month of thanks…

A month of thanks…

Although Thanksgiving is over a week away, in just this last weekend alone I’ve become thankful for more things than I can count on both hands.  The list will probably extend even further in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, but I wanted to become consciously aware of the things that I am grateful for so that when I become frustrated or impatient with something I can realize that there are a lot of good things in life that definitely outweigh the not-so-good things.

(Part 1)

  1. Good health.  Every night before I fall asleep I pray that my family and friends, from coast to coast, stay healthy and safe.  I pray for the people that are younger and the people who are older, and every age in-between, because poor health does not have an age minimum.  I am grateful for the health of myself, my family, and friends.  And I pray for those who are trying to overcome a health struggle so that they may find the strength to “power through” any difficulties they may face.
  2. A loving family.  Even though I’m three hours away from the home I grew up in, I am blessed with a family who only wants the best for me. My parents support me when I need a pep-talk.  My grandparents tell me how much they miss me every time we talk on the phone.  I can call up family members on the west coast and have conversations that make my heart feel rejuvenated.  I recently heard a guest speaker in one of my classes tell the class how dysfunctional her family was.  I remember not being able to fathom having a family who doesn’t know how to love.  I’m most grateful for my family because they will be there every step of the way, no matter what life throws at us.
  3. Friends.  I may not have a lot of friends, but I have a few friends that mean the world to me.  I’m grateful for these friendships because we all share common interests and values, and can laugh over the most ridiculous of things.  These are the people that have let me crash on their couch for a weekend, who brighten my day when I’m feeling down, who can turn a frown into a smile, who understand that you can’t just eat one cookie (6 cookies is acceptable, right?) or just 2 slices of pizza (3 is a good start obviously), and who can turn tears into laughter.  These friends include people who live a 5 or 10 minute walk away, those who live a 3 hour car-drive away, or those who are a 3 hour plane ride away.  No matter how close or far, these are the people I never want to lose.  These are the people who I care about, who I can turn to for a much needed girls-night-out, and who I would never want to replace.
  4. Running friends.  Yes, running friends will get special recognition.  And yes, some of my friends are also my running friends (there’s definitely an overlap!).  These are the people who understand the struggles of running, the sacrifices we sometimes have to make, the disgusting feet, and the lack of caring about sweaty hugs.  No matter the speed or distance of a run, runner friends are proud of you regardless.  I know these people will be there for me when I need a pep-talk or a gossiping long run.  I am grateful for the running community because without them I would feel like a lonely (and insane) runner.
  5. Knowledge.  I’ve been attending school for the past 16 years of my life. The amount of information that has been shoved into my brain is overwhelming but it’s culminating into a college degree.  Every bit of information that has been taught to me (even pre-school was important, okay?!) has helped me become the person I am today.  I’ve developed a wealth of information that soon will need to be shared with the rest of the world in whatever job I find in my future endeavors.
  6. Freedom and protection.  I live in a country where I can feel relatively safe.  I don’t live in a perfect country but I do live in a free country.  Every time I see a police officer or military personnel, I make it a point to thank them for all they do.  Without them our country would be much different. I am grateful to be an American citizen.
  7. Fate.  Everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes we don’t understand why certain things happen.  But if we trust in God and in the path that are lives are following, we will understand why we were put in the world, why things happened, and how life probably worked out just fine because of everything that happened.  Fate challenges us but it also rewards us.  I believe in fate and I will continue to believe in fate because we each have a purpose in this world.  We must trust that everything will work out and that we’ll become a better person for it; therefore, I am grateful for fate.

(To be continued…)

Look how far we’ve come…

Look how far we’ve come…

Last year at this time I was merely going through the motions of everyday life at school.  I missed my family and even though I thought that being on the cross country team would make the transition better, it actually ended up making it a lot worse.  We had cross country practice at 7 AM everyday and the coach didn’t care about the people that weren’t in his top 7.  Everyone ran by themselves. That’s not a team. We trained and trained for just 3-4 meets. That wasn’t worth it to me. I would wake up every morning, half-heartedly go to practice, and then go to the library to catch up on studying.  I missed my old teammates.  I missed my friends and family.  I wanted to be with people of similar values.  I needed to find some real friends who would be there for me when I needed it most.

But now one year later I am a MUCH happier person.

I’m mentally and emotionally healthier.  I wake up excited to start a new day.  My group of friends here are the people that I know will be there for me when I need a good pick-me-up or a good laugh.  I not only have a support system in my hometown, but I have a support system here now that wasn’t here at this time last year.  It’s hard to be sad or upset here now because I know that I’ll always have people to turn to for advice and guidance.  And yes, life can get stressful sometimes, but by surrounding yourself with good people you can find a way to manage the stress in a healthy way.

I’m also physically healthier than last year.  Since I am training for something I actually want to train for, I have found myself looking forward to going out for a run everyday.  I’m embracing the challenge of the hills around here instead of letting them defeat me.  I enjoy every mile whether it’s uphill or downhill because I am grateful for every day I get to go for a run.  My mileage may not be as high as some other runners and I may not be able to average sub-8 minute miles around here but I am happy with my own progress.  There’s no purpose in comparing myself to others who are training for the same race that I am.  Everybody has a different approach to training.  And my approach is what works best for me.  That’s the beauty of the running world.  We may all take different approaches to training for the same race but on race day we all have to cover the same distance and follow the same course to reach the finish line.  

So here I am, one year later, content with every part of my life.  I’ve gained true friendships that I know I can depend on.  I have surrounded myself with people who truly care about one another’s well-being.  I have found my place on this campus and I have found my happiness.  Of course I still miss being home and spending time with my family and my dogs, but my friends here have eased the difficulty of being so far from home which has made living here enjoyable and memorable.  I don’t think I have to state who these people are because you probably already know who you are.  But I just wanted to let you know how important your friendship is to me and that without such an awesome group of people who I can depend on for guidance, support, and prayer, I probably would be going through the motions instead of living out the memories.

What a difference a year can make.

Within the chaos there’s peace

Within the chaos there’s peace

This last week has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, highs and lows.  But within all the stress and chaos, I’ve come to realize that there will always be things and people to be grateful for.  In the big painted picture of life, the small little stressors are just miniature droplets of paint mixed within the blur of other colors of happiness, peace, and positivity.  And I’ll admit it, two days ago I was seeing the big picture as one big mess of scribbled lines and colors.  I was stressed.  I was impatient.  I was every sort of anxious in the book.  But now, it’s ok.  As many times as I’ve tried mentally reassuring myself that it would be ok, there’s always that little whispering voice in my head that tells me otherwise.  So here I am blogging about the louder voice in my head telling me that life is bigger than that whispering voice and those scribbled lines.  Life is a masterpiece we are destined to paint ourselves.

**I helped my dad and brother at their new business and have spoken to a lot of people who are excited for the business to open.  This reassures me that overcoming all of the stress, work, and setbacks will be worth it in the end; therefore, the reward will be far greater than the stress leading up to it.

**My best friend (who was leaving for DCP at the end of the week) and I were able to successfully watch all three Hunger Games movies in one afternoon.  This was added to our summer bucket list after we finished all three books earlier this summer (because we are obsessed with all the characters in the books).  We also enjoyed some pizza that I made and brownies with icecream.  For the past 2 years of our friendship, pizza has been our go-to food because we both love it so it was appropriate for us to share a pizza before he left for 4 months.  As much as I’m going to miss him, I know that he’s going to cross something off of his life bucket list which makes me happy for him and we can still call each other like usual to complain to each other and catch up on life!

**I was able to re-connect with a few of my high school friends in a fun “game” called Trapped Philly.  Four of my friends, five of my family members and I were basically “locked” into a room and had to get out by solving clues and codes within an hour.  Unfortunately, our hour elapsed before we were able to successfully “unlock” ourselves but it was so much fun solving the puzzles and clues to get out.  It was basically a life-size, in-person, brain teaser.  I’m so glad I got to see my high school friends whom I only see about 2-3 times per year and also spend time with my family!

**I made myself a new CD to listen to in the car because the radio plays the same 10 songs over and over again and I really really reallllly like the variety that I put on it (not to brag or anything XD)

**I got to hang out with my cousins at my mommom’s birthday party which is always fun!  I’ve only seen them 3 times this summer so I always value spending time with them when we do get together.  It’s never a dull moment when we’re altogether!  Family is a huge part of my life and I’ve come to realize in the last few weeks that no matter what your family will be there for you.  I cherish the times we spend together no matter what we’re doing and I will miss them when I go back to school.

**Today I got a 7.5 mile trail run in with four other trailrunners.  Trail running has always been one of the things that makes me feel less stressed.  I think it’s because my mind focuses on the roots, the rocks, the trees and not getting lost in the woods rather than everything else going on in the world.  Trails provide an opportunity to lose yourself in the run. Although the pace might be slower than a run on the road, I would much rather spend 90 minutes on a trail than dodging cars.  I am also always amazed how trailrunners all have the same mentality.  No matter the pace or the experience level of the runner we all just love to run!  That’s why we always come back for more!

So with all these happy “moments” from the last week, my life masterpiece has been layered with positivity and things/people to be grateful for.  When life gets you down, pick yourself back up and look at the bigger picture.  We are the creators of our own masterpiece; therefore, you can choose to stay down and out on the ground or you can pick yourself up and charge forward with all the good things going on in the present moment.  The choice is yours!