Friday, July 2, 2010

One year older, ten years wiser

Yet another birthday is upon me and as I look back, I can’t believe the whirlwind that has been my 21st year. You want to talk up and downs? I have all day, folks. No need to relive the downs though, just the ups, so that’s what we’ll do. I’ll throw in a couple of lessons learned, too, because through it all, I have learned a lot in the last 365 days. (Pardon my use of clichés, but its necessary.) Here’s a favorite pic from last year’s birthday:

Lesson No. 1 – Don’t give up.
No matter how much it sucks, keep going, don’t stop and continue working toward the future. Now, by ‘it,’ I mean everything – your daily workout, getting through a day where nothing goes right, applying for that new job, repairing a relationship, etc. I had one of the busiest years I can remember and thinking back, I accomplished a whole lot. I consider one of my biggest achievements – not in just this last year, but in my whole life – to be the Sugarloaf Marathon. I’m not talking just the actual race either – training, nutrition, injury, all of it. So many times during my 18-week training I wanted to quit. 20-mile runs in the chilly air sucked. Oh wait, even three-mile runs in the chilly air sucked. As I had previously mentioned in post No.1, even the morning of, I was looking for every reason not to run. I don’t know if it was the fact that my family drove all the way up to see me, my sister would be waiting for me at mile 25, or that Danielle was sitting right next to me and could easily do some damage. But, I did it and when I was done, I felt like I could take on the world. I still kind of do, I guess. One of my several post-marathon pics with the sister:
Last fall, I also completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon – the Mighty Hamptons Tri. Like the name says, it was mighty, but so much fun. My friends and I had a fun road trip down, didn’t sleep at all the night before, woke up at 3 a.m., I got sick TWICE and then had a fantastic race. Insane? Ya, it was. My friend Lee had to drag me to the transition area, then back to the start line and I’m pretty sure I actually said, ‘I can’t race,’ at least once. BUT, I did and I’m so glad. We won’t even talk about the fact that I got a bad chip which only recorded until my run portion.

Anticipation for anything is always the worst, but I believe nothing is truly accomplished without a little fight. I keep going back for more, so it can’t be that bad, right?

On a side note: my friend Lisa is also trying to get me into these fitness bodybuilding-like competitions, so who knows what my 22nd year will bring. The things they do are so crazy, I don’t even know why I am considering this, but I’m sure it will be just as rewarding as all the other things I thought about giving up on.

Lesson No. 2 – Hard work pays off.
This goes along with Lesson No. 1 quite well, but I struggled to merge them together, so it became Lesson No. 2 all on its own.

Hard work is not easy, otherwise it wouldn’t be called ‘hard work.’ (Makes sense, right?) I have worked my tail off this past year and I’m just starting to reap the benefits, which I hope are just beginning. Between training, school, work and the attempt to have a small social life, I was a running around like a psycho and looked a lot like this woman below:
I felt like I spent all of my spare time immersed in school work. I wrote papers in my head while I lifted weights, planned workouts while I wrote my papers, and made mental to-do lists at work. I had no life and I was not happy about it. Yes, I like to have a set schedule (I stay on track that way), but this was ridiculous. But, in the end, while lots of time and effort were put into achieving these goals, I did it all. A month after the completion of my junior year, I can breathe a bit easier. 3.95 GPA – check. First marathon – check. Internship (and a sweet one at that) – check.

Lesson No. 3 – Above all else, do what makes YOU happy.
I saved the best two lessons for last. As one of my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions, I made a commitment to myself that 2010 would be about me. I know it sounds conceded, but all my life, I tried to make everyone around me happy. Well, this year, I wanted to be happy first. Slowly, I mean sloooowly, it happened. Not that I wasn’t happy before, because I was, it just took some time to realize who and what truly added to that happiness. Putting myself first also took some practice, but I have to say, I am pretty darn good at it now. I used to drop everything for every one of my friends, family members, co-workers, you name it. I’ll gladly lend a hand when needed, but it feels really good to be able to actually do something for myself and I highly recommend it for anyone in need of some ‘me-time,’ – at least that’s what Danielle and I call it. We just might even share with my friend, Jessica (on the left).

This past year I have gained friends, lost friends, grown closer with some and lost touch with others, but that’s life. I know who I can count on and who I want to put effort into. Sometimes there are just people you have to kick to the curb like a Gatorade cup at the last water stop. Trust me, it feels good. Yes, I may workout a lot, enjoy trips to Whole Foods more than the average person and don’t behave like your average, crazy newly-22 year-old, but I don’t care because I’m happy.

I’ve also started this new love affair with Food Network – kind of contradicts the one I have with Jillian Michaels and The Biggest Loser – but, next to ESPN, it is my television channel of choice. It’s slowly helping me learn to cook and actually want to cook (my mother loves this). Couple of favorite chefs, who I have become mildly obsessed with are Guy Fieri and Duff Goldman. Guy hosts Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Guy’s Big Bite. His exciting personality, wise-guy remarks and culinary talent have him at the top of my in-case-they-happen-to-get-divorced-watch list. Doesn’t really look like my type, but I love him anyway!

Duff, who is founder of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, MD, is featured on Ace of Cakes. With the help of his best friends, they create some of the coolest-looking cakes in the country. You better believe he will be making a cake for me in the future (or at least I hope so!) Here is one of my favorite cakes – it looks like my old crayon box, but its cake!! So awesome.

Lesson No. 4 – Sometimes, you’ve just got to get a grip.
I have taken life way too seriously for way too long. I guess you could say that I have been sewn as tight as an early 1920’s corset. While I admit I still need a lot more work in this area, I have greatly improved. Working out, cooking and an earlier bed time have helped me ‘chill out’ (another one of my resolutions) a lot. Life is supposed to be fun and damn it, I am going to have fun.
My best friend and I even started the year off with a trip to Los Angeles. A reward for hard work, and most importantly to spend some quality time with my BFF. Oh, and there was this other guy we were visiting, too. His name is Chris and he did his best to keep us entertained. We had lots of fun and want to go back with all of our girlfriends someday, when we need to get a grip, yet again. Here we all are looking quite glamorous at the Chinese Theater:

Just for fun, I lalsoooked up my horoscope ( and forecast for the next year and found out some interesting things:

- “A busy year is ahead for you. You are likely to form or cement positive bonds with others, particularly with people who help you to assert yourself in a positive manner. You are learning to go after what you want with more confidence. Teaching, learning, and the exchange of ideas are likely to be strong themes in your life this year.” (Does this mean I did not have a busy last year, astrologically speaking?)
- “Self-confidence and action are highlighted in the year ahead. You tend to instinctively know the right course of action to take in most situations. Your desire nature is strong, and increased physical activity, is likely. Independent work is favored and competitive activities may also thrive this year.” (Sounds like a plus to me! Can I get a PR?!? Or two?)

Even provided me with these ending thoughts:
- “It's also a good year for expressing your creativity. Advice - reach out, but avoid scattering your energies.”
- “This is an excellent year in which to build and develop for the future. Advice - be patient, be receptive, enjoy the peace, collect.”

Special shout-outs to Liv Tyler, the late Princess Diana, Carl Lewis, Estee Lauder and Pam Anderson, all of whom I share my July 1st birthday with.

And with all of that being said, bring on 22!


  1. few things: that pic is AWFUL of me. blah. 22 was my very favorite year of my life, until 29 ;) "me time" is so funny and made me laugh when i read that, and yes. jpell needs in.

    xoxo hope you had a great bday. youre growing up so fast hahahaah

  2. i laughed from start to finish of that entire comment. thanks for that :)