Category Archives: Introspection

Goals of 17-year-old me

In the distant past that was my senior year of high school, I tried to compose a list of the 100 things I wanted to accomplish in life. After a few days of adding to the list, I had only come up with 46 goals. But, what it lacked in quantity, I think it makes up for in quality — Especially four years later, when I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished, what I continue to dream of and what I now think is obsolete.

  • Graduate from the University of Kansas. Just a few more months until  (knock on wood) this goal is accomplished.
  • Work for a non-governmental organization in a developing country. Not something I’m really interested in at this point.
  • Get my law degree. Decided not to pursue this a few years ago.
  • Marry a man who makes me laugh, smile and feel good. He must also be a hard-worker who values the things I do. Must be attractive — to me! I’m even luckier in this aspect than I ever thought possible. 

  • Have four or five children. Ask me how I feel about this in a few years…
  • Have a career as a political correspondent. My interest in politics has faded, while my passion for health has grown. 
  • Be able to see my parents and sister whenever I need to. I am so excited to have my sister in town next year, but I hope to be even closer to my parents some day. Nonetheless, I can still see them whenever I really need to. Three hours isn’t a bad drive!
  • Travel to all seven continents. Since writing this list, I’ve checked one (Europe) off this list. Still more to go. And, yes, I want to step foot on Antarctica!
  • Run a marathon. Working my way toward this goal, thanks to three half-marathons. It’s still a big jump up to a full marathon and I’m not quite ready for that commitment yet. 
  • Write a book. This is a major goal for me to accomplish… Some day.
  • Meet a president of the United States. Preferably John Kennedy. I’ll wait for them to invent time travel.
  • Go sky diving. This isn’t too high on my list. 
  • Keep in touch with old friends. Done this pretty well so far. I think a testament to that is the fact that four of my bridesmaids were friends from high school. 

  • Speak to a crowd larger than 10,000 people. If I interpret this loosely, it could be a goal of getting 10,000 hits on my blog.
  • Visit all 50 states. I mostly need to hit up the northeast and Hawaii. 
  • Go backpacking. Dan and I plan on hiking a 14-er in Colorado next summer, so that will check this off the list!
  • Make very little money. Uhm, life right now.
  • Make a lot of money. The real goal is just to be financially stable and comfortable.
  • Truly impact someone’s life. This difficulty with this goal is that I would never necessarily know if it’s accomplished. 
  • Continue to have and grow in faith with God. With four more years of life, I’ve had four more years of ups and downs. Through it all, I think my faith has grown, but there is still room.
  • Not eat chocolate for a whole year. Did this during 2009, but I don’t know if it’s something to be proud of. 
  • Really develop an art skill. With no real skills, I don’t know what will happen with this.
  • Teach aerobics. I don’t know if I still want to teach aerobics, but I would like to teach some kind of fitness class or lead a group.
  • Be able to speak another language and have the chance to use it. Definitely tested this during my summer of studying abroad. I lived with a host family, so I spoke a lot of German!

  • Don’t drink any alcohol on my 21st birthday. Ask me about this next week, but it’s still a goal… Although Tuesday is a free-for-all!
  • Find a cause that I can be truly passionate about. Check! I am really passionate about health and body confidence. 
  • Be comfortable in my own skin. I wouldn’t check this off the list quite yet, but I’ve definitely improved since I wrote this list.
  • Learn how to dance a variety of dances. Don’t really know what I was thinking when I wrote this.
  • Be on national television or write for a national publication. Still hope for this.
  • Be able to make the perfect batch of cookies at any time. I have a few different versions that would satisfy this goal.
  • Figure out how to spend a lot of time with my family and balance a career. I would say this is more important to me now than it was when I wrote it. I now have a better appreciation for family.
  • Sew a quilt. I request a sewing machine first.
  • Go scuba diving. I went snorkeling on the honeymoon, which is kind of a cop-out. Who has time to take scuba lessons while living in Kansas?
  • Write handwritten letters every once in a while. I need a reminder to do this. 
  • Read the whole bible. I’ve made more progress and lost track of what I’ve actually read. But, I am closer!
  • Play with a monkey. Why isn’t this No. 1?
  • Go to Austria and Ireland. My dad’s family is purely Irish while my mom’s is primarily Austrian. For those reasons, I always wanted to see where my ancestors came from. I crossed Austria off the list when I was studying abroad.

  • Tell someone what I truly think of them. I make this goal happen every time I tell Dan, “I love you.” Cheesy, but true!
  • Go surfing. Maybe when I visit Hawaii!
  • Storm chase and actually see a tornado. Living in Nebraska, storm chasing was out weekend entertainment during high school. I’m thankful that a tornado never caused destruction close to where I live, but I’d still like to see a “live one” out in a field. 
  • Come up with an original recipe. Check, check, check x 100.
  • Backpack across a foreign country. I feel better doing this in the future, knowing that Dan would go along with me. Although, I don’t know how I feel about hostels or other cheap sleeping options.
  • Have the “right thing” to say. I can be an awkward person… But I’ve (probably) gotten better. What does that tell you? 
  • Be able to tell a really good joke. Don’t know if I am the best judge of this — I think all my jokes are pretty funny.
  • Go dancing in the rain. We’ll see about this.
  • “Talk” with someone who speaks another language without the ability to translate. Just understand them on a human level. Obviously I was getting kind of desperate by this point. But, I still think it’s a cool concept.
Questions: What were your goals four or five years ago? How have they changed? What have you accomplished?

What’s your line?

So, I basically checked out this weekend.

Normally, I try to get a post or two in on the weekend, but it just didn’t happen this time around. And that’s fine.

Throughout a year and a half a blogging, I’ve realized that the most interesting posts come from interesting events in life or thoughts I’m really able to articulate. That doesn’t mean I’ll really leave you guys hanging. Besides, I think the posts that follow my temporary absences are more substantial.

But, in order for any of that to come to be, I have to get out there and engage in the world — if the blog is always begging for attention, that can’t really happen. As with everything, it’s more important to find a balance.

As a blogger, I also think it’s important to think about where my personal line is. For example, my computer was definitely staying behind during our honeymoon. I am not willing to miss out on once-in-a-lifetime moments so I can rush back to the Internet. There are also days when I don’t have anything worth talking about, and I’ve come to realize it’s better to just take a day off rather than force a post. In terms of topics I’ll address, I am comfortable talking about most things relating to my life, but I won’t talk about controversial topics that could upset, offend or harm any of my family or friends.

There are also certain posts that I ask Dan to look over before I publish. Because we share so much of life, I (try to) avoid saying things that will embarrass him. (Although there are a few good-natured exceptions!)

I digress…

One of the highlights of my weekend was getting to see Kristin, who is one of my best friends and a bridesmaid, compete in her conference cross-country meet.

She goes to school up in Nebraska, but her school is in the same conference as a small college in Lawrence. By chance, this year’s conference meet was here in town. That meant a rare chance to see her — and, oh man, was it a great race to watch!

In order to qualify for the national meet in Washington, she had to finish in the top five. In typical fashion, Kristin over-achieved and got second place and a new 5K PR (19:46 — blows my mind).

I was so proud of her!

Even better, her team ended up winning the women’s conference, so they all qualify for the national meet.

Other than watching the meet, my weekend was pretty low-key.

There was time for family, time for friends and time for pancakes. That’s about all a girl needs.

Now, it’s back to the grind for another full week of classes. I must admit that I’m extra excited for this particular week to end… This time next week, you’ll be reading a 21-year-old’s blog!

Questions: If you’re a blogger, what are your personal lines? If you’re not a blogger, what do you think is/is not appropriate for bloggers to write about?

The value of marriage

I’ve been sitting on a certain post for a while and it seems as timely as ever after yesterday’s devastating and shocking news that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are ending their 72-day publicity stunt marriage.

(In all honestly, I was kind of repulsed by the news. That sounds dramatic, especially for someone who doesn’t know the details. But the first impression I get is not a good one — All I see is that they earned $14 million dollars from televising their wedding and then called it quits after the money was safe in the bank. But, this is besides the point…)

The Value of Marriage

I’m newlywed and admittedly still in the honeymoon phase. Yet, Dan and I took a lot of time for reflection before our wedding and I think that has helped the transition go so smoothly. Although we don’t have years of experience under our belts, I believe our intentions were right to begin with and that has put us on the right track.

So, this is my modest take on the importance of marriage…

It is hard to know where to start on the long list of benefits that are connected to marriage. To state a few, married people earn more, a physically healthier and experience significantly less domestic violence and infidelity than unwed individuals in relationships, according to a study by the Witherspoon Institute.

But, who really goes into marriage thinking, “Wow, this is great! I’m going to have more money and live longer!”

Instead, many of us hopeless romantics hope for a deep, loving marriage. I thought it was well put in a recent column from the Harvard Crimson

“Marriage is not merely a union of hearts and minds, nor is it only a romantic or sexual partnership. It is a comprehensive union that unites a husband and wife across all dimensions of the person.”

The question is: How does one get to that place?

To start, the two people in a marriage have to be right for each other… Not right for each others’ ideals, images or friends. Right for each other. There should be passion, humor, depth and joy. If it isn’t there in the beginning, chances are it won’t be there 10 years down the road. There should also be a good foundation of trust, support and all-around teamwork. This revelation came to be one day when I realized that my happiness is linked to Dan’s —I’m only happy if he is.

The relationship should also grow. Although the beginning of relationships are always fun, it’s only when those relationships have depth that they become meaningful. This is something that Dan and I try to build on every day, whether get caught up in a conversation about a new subject or tackle a new adventure together.

As for us, those adventures are just starting and we will undoubtedly have a lot to learn. But, with Dan by my side, I’m excited to take give it my all — or, in the words of Katherine Hepburn…

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get. Only with what you are expecting to give, which is everything.”

That’s what marriage should be founded on, not a multimillion dollar TV contract.

Questions: What do you think? What do you think marriage should be built on?

Real test of strength

It used to be that if you asked me for an unusual fact about myself, I would proudly state that I once gave up chocolate for a whole year. In my eyes, this wasn’t simply about chocolate. Rather, it was a demonstration of my personal strength.

I figured that if I was able to pass a test that great (if you know my love for chocolate you’d understand), then I could do anything I set my mind to.

But, no test of this strength was ever enough…

There was also the summer I worked out every single day. Or the period when I cut my calories down to lower and lower levels. Or the time I refused to eat anything with white flour or table sugar in it.

What I didn’t realize at then was that these were not measurements of strength. These were tests of just how ignorant I could be — and I don’t care to test that any more. Instead, my life has become so much better since I stopped testing my strength and started testing my faith.

To me, faith is confidence in God. However, I think that faith can take on different meanings for different people. The key is just believing that, even though things can be beyond our control, everything will work out in the end.

One of the biggest, truest tests of this was having the faith to overcome my eating disorder. At the time, I knew that it was unhealthy to continue down the path I was on. But, I didn’t know what exactly was down the alternate path — and that scared me. It was only when I accepted that, yes, it was scary, but, yes, it would all be ok that I was able to recover.

In other words, having faith took more strength than anything else.

I still let this concept lead me in life — and it doesn’t let me down. However, that’s not to say having faith is easy when the unknown rests ahead.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because I am more than a little anxious about graduation. On the surface, this situation is much different from battling anorexia. However, it is similar in that I am fearful. For the first time in my life, I have no clearly determined path in front of me and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do.

But, as challenging as it is, the best thing for me to do is to have faith. And, although I still don’t know how things will play out, I do know that they will work out.

Deepen your compliments

Depending on how you want to look at it, I was either feeling extremely motivated for crafts or extremely unmotivated for school today. I blame the Maple Leaf Festival

Whatever is the case, one trip to Hobby Lobby later, I was ready for some serious crafting.

First up was a cute, easy idea for a natural-themed vase that I saw on Kristin’s blog.

The only required materials were:

  • Hard, natural grass (bought from Hobby Lobby)
  • One straight, glass vase
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors

First, I measured one piece of the grass against the vase and cut the grass so that it was just a little taller than the vase. Then, I used that grass segment to measure and cut a bunch of other pieces.

By this time, Tracker was starting to get upset that I wasn’t paying attention to her.

Like the mature dog that she is, she expressed this by sitting on my materials.

I pet her for a few minutes. Satisfied, she moved to the couch and let me continue.

After cutting the grass, use the heated glue gun to apply a ~1/2 in. line of glue on the top, middle and bottom of the vase. Working strand-by-strand (or a few at a time), press the grass onto the bottom, middle and top — make sure it’s all aligned and there aren’t major gaps.

Cut more grass as necessary and repeat process for the rest of the vase.

I ended up wrapping a cute ribbon around it. Now, I just need to get some flowers to fill it with. (<<hint, hint, Dan!)

My next craft was much more ill-conceived and therefore not worth as much explanation. Basically, I took these materials…

And made this necklace…

I think it’s cute, but it definitely wouldn’t stand a storm.

Then, rather than get started on my actual homework, I started investigating another topic…

The depth of compliments

Generally speaking, it is so easy to dismiss compliments in adult life. This may be because we are used to hearing positive comments all throughout our lives. Or it may be because we just don’t believe the compliments are true. Either way, the effects they have on us is relatively fleeting.

That’s not the case with children. To them, every single comment is true and all compliments are meaningful. That’s why I believe it is particularly important to emphasize the right things when complimenting children — and not just because of the effects is has on them as children, but also because of the way it molds us throughout life.

I know this subject may seem out of the blue, but I got thinking about it recently because of a Twitter comment that Caitlin made about a couple on Teen Mom: “Gary, Amber and their families need to come up with compliments for Leah other than ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful.'”

It’s something I had never really thought about before, but I couldn’t help but be struck by how good of a point Caitlin was making. Although the general judgment of many people on Teen Mom is questionable, it’s a very valid point. All too often, we compliment other children on superficial things…

The problem is that by focusing on beauty, children will grow to think their value is directly attached to physical measures.

On an advice website for parents, Nanny Deb, who is on the TV show Nanny 911, suggested: “Each day, make sure your kids hear the following phrases from you: I love you. Please. Thank you. Thank you for being my child. I’m proud of you. I believe in you. I trust you.”

Notice that no where in there is a compliment about how beautiful the child is. Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with children believing they are beautiful. In fact, I hope all children believe that. What I do find fault with is when children believe that their worth is only related to that beauty. Instead, I hope that children are fostered to be confident in their intelligence, kindness and personalities.

Of course, all this sounds fairly silly for a 20-year-old to be ranting about. But I think it’s important to think about now — no use in waiting until I am a mother to start giving more meaningful compliments. Don’t be surprised if you overhear me telling my dog that she is “so smart.”

Questions: What is the best compliment you ever received? Any good crafts or DIY projects?

Bloggers: When to keep it to yourself

Tomorrow I am going to post a fun recap of they ways that Dan and I got inventive with our campfire meals. Before that, though, I wanted to take a short break from the camping posts to talk about something that occasionally bothers me about the blogs I read.

Here’s the deal… I am not the paradigm for healthfulness all the time. No blogger is. No person is.

That’s just reality. I simply strive to eat well, be active and indulge occasionally.

Naturally, part of my journey in finding balance in life spills over to this blog, which means I probably contradict myself sometimes. Case and point: I still have recipes with Splenda-infused ingredients, yet I steer away from artificial sweeteners now.

But, I will promise this: I won’t blog about weight specifics and I won’t talk about “feeling chubby” and then show pictures of what could ever be considered a “before” picture.

Why? Because I think that reading those kinds of posts elicits the same emotional response that I felt back in middle school when one of my friends refused to eat her lunch.

“I just need to lose weight,” she said.

Then, I looked at myself, saw how much bigger I was and came to the natural conclusion: If this girl thinks she needs to lose weight, then what does that say about me?

Since then, I’ve (mostly) learned and (usually) remember that every body is different. Some days I think that’s a great thing, some days I think that’s a sucky thing — it just depends on which side of the bed I wake up on or how recently I’ve done laundry. Side note: I hate putting on jeans for the first time after they’ve been washed.

By knowing that it’s ok to be imperfect in my own self-esteem, it’s actually gotten better. Counterintuitive, I know. But, it honestly helps to know I’m not doing anything wrong to have a few negative thoughts. The only wrong thing would be allowing those thoughts to stick around.

I just make a point a remembering what this body allows me to do…

What bothers me is when I see writers of otherwise great blogs talk about specific body gripes with no resolution — all while being perfectly aware that many readers suffer from body-confidence issues. It’s simple posting responsibility.

As for you, the dear readers of my blog, I hope that you are able to feel a little better about yourself, choose more nutritious foods and have fun with exercise. But, at the same time, I want you to know it’s ok to not be 100% happy all the time. I’m not saying its good to bottle all those emotions up. Just don’t get up on a large stage, write some self-derogatory comment and then move on leaving other people to question their own self-worth.


What do you think? Do you think it’s all part of life for healthy living bloggers to complain about their already strong, toned bodies? Or should they be more aware of the negative effects those complaints may have on their readers?

25 things to do before I’m 25

My 21st birthday is coming up relatively soon (39 days, but who’s counting?) and it has gotten me thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in the longer-yet-still-relatively-soon future.

For the sake of parallelism, here are 25 things I want to do before I’m 25.

1. Run a marathon.

I have three half-marathons under my belt, but my ultimate goal is to cross the finish line after 26.2 miles.

2. Live in another state… Again.

3. Get content published in a national magazine.

4. Build a wardrobe of well-tailored clothes.

5. Take Dan to Michigan.

6. Practice yoga more regularly, as in once a week.

7. Get another sewing machine.

8. Go back to Europe — and speak more German.

It was such a gift to spend two months in Germany, spending time with my host family and speaking the language regularly. Unfortunately, since being back in the States, I haven’t had as many opportunities to practice my Deutsch.

9. Own a house.

10. Plant my own garden.

The basil on my balcony doesn’t count…

11. Do a triathlon.

12. Volunteer more.

13. Get more involved with a church.

14. Master baking a layered cake.

My sister and I made one, very admirable attempt at this last Fourth of July. But, it would be sad to be a “master” after only one try, right?

15. Surprise someone with a great gift.

16. Continue putting money into savings.

17. Go on an impulsive vacation.

18. Visit Napa Valley and go wine tasting.

My favorite “field trip” out of my time in Germany was definitely the wine-tasting tour we went on. I loved learning more about the process and testing out small samples.

19. Explore culinary school options.

20. Go skiing in Colorado.

21. Hike one (or two!) 14’ers in Colorado.

22. Go back to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

23. Learn how to make at least one good Indian dish.

24. Counsel young women with eating disorders.

25. Continue to find ways to show my family how much I love and appreciate them.

Now, this is a tall order for me to accomplish in four years and 39 days. I think the real point is that it’s not about crossing every small detail off of some list… Rather, I want to constantly keep moving, learning and bettering myself.

Questions: What do you want to accomplish in the relatively near future? What major goals have you already achieved?