2016 Recap: part 1, Rhythms and How to Survive the Winter

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a good sum of me this year: walking barefoot in the rain, babywearing, with red hair

I like to recap the year for my own personal reflection; if this kind of post interests you, then enjoy! I do it for several reasons:

>>intentionally dwelling on the good, especially in the small things (#dailymagic)
>>a reminder that life is full of adventures even when I can’t be travelling the globe or spending days in the mountains  (little old midwest forces us to look closely sometimes :))
>>separating the bucket-list checkmarks from the habit-making, getting a better idea for what I want to delve more into in the coming year.
>>to hold myself accountable that I didn’t just sit on the couch watching Netflix all year
>>I also do this as a reference for myself. I use Instagram quite frequently as a creative outlet, as well as a way to document and process life in a succinct, manageable, and shareable way. Most links are to posts there.

My word of the year was Deep Work (two words I know! don’t care) and life definitely forced it on me – hey silver lining! Basically, through some very scary family health problems, living in other houses for almost two months due in part to those health problems (which -a note, the hosts were such a blessing), and tbh pretty much a mental breakdown brought on by fear and change and trial, it was a mess of a year. There were bright spots. In fact, I kept track of them precisely so that the 2016 I choose to remember is made up of more bright spots than not. These are some of those bright spots — I learned a LOT. And I mean more than just how to cope when things get tough. (Tho you can read about that here if you want.)

Also, some background on what compels my actions on this blog post. (Shortly after writing the post, I discovered the Rewild Yourself Podcast, and many a happy Wednesday was spent drinking in the knowledge from that podcast. I actually wrote the post BEFORE I discovered the podcast…I’d go as far as to say it was providential!? Maybe?) So here goes…

Things I Dabbled In: (aka tried once or twice)

rock climbing and bouldering
pottery
archery (and recurve bow – someday I dream of mastering this amazing tool)
woodburning
airbnb travel (including a glorious flat in my hometown!!)
handgun target practice
ultimate frisbee
grilling (without the help of a male :))
deer hunting
wakesurfing
pokemon go

Microadventures: (Which community building is an integral part)

art nights
fire towers in Wisconsin
hawkins hoop move/pizza nights on the farm
Spring hunting (see below)
swimming in Winona Lake
Mattias Ernst harmonica concert
county fair
weddings in meadows and campgrounds

Day hikes/day trips including:

charlie creek garden maze (wabash IN)
pontoon boat during winona lake sunset (perfect time for talks with good friends)
Pokagon
Mississenewa hikes
Mississenewa 1812
Erasmus Books in South Bend
Chain O’ Lakes

Weekend trips:

camping at Maumee Bay
mountains outside of Wasau Wisconsin
Toledo zoo

We also harbored a baby turtle for a time which was awesome because baby turtles are one of my favorite animals 🙂 (Caleb notes that its becuase they carry their homes on their backs – my favorite paradox)

Rhythms. (digging into more of the specifics of Deep Work)

I’m a creative person, an artist, but dear gracious do I muddle around if I don’t have some SERIOUS structure.  So rituals, traditions, and beauty-centric routines make my life a LOT more rich and less stressful. I thoroughly enjoyed longstanding traditions, like our friend group hobbit party on September 22, and observing Advent in a simple, weekly way (aka four beeswax candles and a reading a paragraph from the Book of Common Prayer each Sunday,) and participating in a Sedar dinner hosted by our church.

I also incorporated the need for structures, rhythms, and rituals with my values and what I view as a holistic life. A lot of these revolve around being outside more, but also others that nurture my writer side (like reading/letter writing), as well as what is often called “self care” but I usually just call “sanity” because I know what happens when I don’t intentionally make time to find and observe rituals that feed my soul and spirit.

The first one was walks in the woods. This is the single biggest habit shift I made: walking almost daily. I experienced hip pain while running for several months postpartum, and while getting treated for it (physical therapy), I filled in the need to move and be outside with walks out in the Winona Lake bike trails or other nearby parks, trails, and woods. I took Scout with me, wore her as often as possible (tho I do have a stroller I used when I really felt like covering ground). We started short, and worked up to barefoot hikes, long walks, and even cold weather walks. It became a very grounding ritual for both of us, (literally), especially when Scout was able to walk, and I learned a lot about myself during the process.

Another practice I really value is eating outside. So we picnicked, grilled out, ate dinners on our front or back stoop — anything we could to get outside. Food tastes better that way I think 🙂

An epiphany I had during the dog days of summer when it was too hot to walk was to, duh, go swimming in the lake a mile away! So we went swimming almost every day for a couple of weeks, until the weather started to cool off. It also helped Scout acclimate to water, which was a great benefit.

Watching sunrise and sunset is another habit I have just started that I want to cultivate in the coming year. (Apparently it has some amazing health benefits as well as being some of the best relaxation techniques that I know.) Just knowing the rhythms of the year and measuring time by seasons and sky is something I’ve always been fascinated by but marking time by moon phases and equinoxes is something that feels very grounding to me and I want to expand on that in the coming years. Only dabbled this year, observing the supermoon and winter solstice. (also note: not “dabbled” as in religious observances. I’m not into sun worship– Jesus is the only Son I’ll worship, thanks 🙂 )

Winter Plan:

Another element of the rhythms I cultivated this year were particularly centered around winter. For several years, I’ve HATED winter. Mostly because my body hurts when I don’t move, and I like to move most outside, and I don’t like being outside when I am cold and its ugly out. But that’s all stuff I can change, by starting with my stupid attitude. So, my goal this year was to LOVE winter. Not just like it. I had a plan: #howtothrivethe winter which involved getting myself outside more (see winter walks above) as well as embracing Swedish mysig inside – creating an atmosphere of beauty, coziness, health, and basically making your home environment a place you want to be. Candles, incense, other burning things (smoke and fire and pine smells) and Christmas trees all helped with that. As did good books, writing to a handful of pen pals (another awesome habit that really took off this year), consciously taking care of health, and morning rituals all helped with this.

Food 

Food is my favorite, so I have a lot of goals centered around it, as I already touched on above. I set some idealistic goals to source a majority of our food: localorganicsustainable zerowastewholefoodproperly prepareddelicious and affordable –whew yeah I’m an idealist. But my biggest goal was really just to stop relying on industrialized agriculture, after reading books like Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal  and Barbara Kingfisher’s Animal Vegetable Miracle. These books put flesh on a lot of vague hunches and intuitions I’d had over the years — giving me a why to several proclivities and idiosyncrasies I’ve had since childhood.

(Which by the way, industrialized agriculture is reliant on fossil fuel and produces exponentially more water waste, toxic byproducts, water usage etc. than we can personally in our households…so switching to local, organic, un-industrialized farm food is THE way to make the MOST change to your environment if you’re into going green. Also, the best way to be an activist is to align your actions with your values…which is the definition of integrity. This really shouldn’t be in parentheses, because it was one of my mottos this year. Nor should my other motto: the adventure begins when the plan falls apart, which took me most of the year to actually start living by. But, alas, parentheses is what they get at this juncture, although I’d happily converse with anyone who asks.)

Anyway. I also had a foray into eating to heal: 25 days on Whole 30 (I know…we broke it for cerulean charcuterie board. not even sorry at all.) and 25 days on the Autoimmune-paleo protocol. I would be happy to talk with anyone about these further if interested as well – both solid protocols that actually get results.

Ok so I’ve covered sustainable food sourcing and how it is good for the environment (and how I just like it and want to do it), and now I want to talk about community-building: I love the share mentality – in addition to just sharing food with people (I love any excuse to share food with others, especially outside (as I already mentioned, picnics and more picnics,  grilling out, grilling out again), but on the local front, WOW there are some great shares to be a part of in this community! I think it made a huge difference in the well-being of my soul this year. The biggest one was a workshare at Hawkins Farm – helping to butcher chickens  early on Saturday mornings. Some of the best conversations happen while pulling guts out of a chicken. 😛 Here are a few more:
Shared: (as in; part of a share or just shared because neighbors and community is awesome)
bread and milk
honey
flowers
library books
veg (in exchange for chicken help)
oats! (in exchange for help but I will buy more once I’m out too! So excited about the prospect of local organic grain)

I also tried to get in on things like farmer’s markets , u-picks (because I am a fruit snob:)

strawberries
cherries (for wedding pies!)
Raspberries and currants
Peaches

and foraged fairly often as well for:

pine pollen
elderberry flower
morels (unsuccessfully)
peaches! (from a local person who was willing to share!)
milkweed
apples (from a generous neighbor)
spring tips (inspired by Light Rail’s spruce and mint chai
decorations
wood sorrel

Spring water: This one gets its own paragraph. After discovering Rewild Yourself’s findaspring.com, I got really excited about sourcing raw, local, living spring water. (check out the podcasts or ask me for more info. Actually I’m planning on writing an essay about this at some point too). There was a lot of trial and error – the first spring i visited was full of iron (yuk), and the next one was an hour and a half away. The third was not open to the public. Finally, try four – I found my spring! And started coming up with a way to source it on a regular basis. .Next year I will cover the system I use, once I get it rolling more predictably.
So here are some the the springs I visited:

spring hunting in Ohio
Pokagon
my spring!!
my spring again

And Weston A Price esque foods I made/tried (and some I am trying to master)

kombucha
soaked oats
bone broth with chicken feet
bone marrow and organ meats
einkorn sourdough here and here
sauerkraut! (and discovered Kraut Source (the metal thing on top of the mason jar) in this process…we eat our kraut with burgers and its addicting. Caleb LOVES it. My post got shared on the @krautsource website which was pretty cool too.)
Here is one of my favorite meals that I made this year – almost everything locally sourced
flourless hazelnut cake

Here are just a few peeks at my thought process/system building regarding Weston A Price –another resource I can’t believe I didn’t know about earlier:)

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…aaand I need to wrap this up and save the rest for a part 2!? This is like a filing cabinet for my brain – if you’ve made it this far then we need to have coffee and chat! 😉

Next post will cover topics such as being a short-term redhead, zero waste, what I’ve learned from a year of being a mama, and my favorite “life hacks”…

 

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2015 Adventures Recap + a Birth Story

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As I have heard them called, “microadventures” were definitely more what I focused on this year, rather than epic backpacking trips or traveling outside the country. Mostly because I was pregnant. But I still got to do some pretty fun things, make some unique and fun things to eat, and participate in some neat projects! (And of course, our little girl was worth every minute of nausea and back pain and not fitting into my jeans or being able to do handstands :))

Here’s a recap.

Microadventures:

Walked on ice  while Winona Lake was frozen
Cosplayed as Jayne (from Firefly) at Indy ComicCon
Ran 3.14 miles on Pi Day!
Climbed a 5.10 20 weeks pregnant and camped at Miguels
Met the voice of Connie from Adventures in Odyssey and had a Wod Fam Choc Sod! (inside joke but if you get it then lets be friends)
Participated in a workshare at Hawkins Farm
Spent an epic weekend in Michigan complete with fireworks, canoeing, and playing hide and seek in the dark
Apple Festival in Nappanee
Hobbit Day (best day :D)

Projects:

Participated in Babessendthings
Participated in the litographs Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass tattoo chain
Volunteered at Hawkins Farm pizza nights
Family Art nights at Meredith and Dave’s
Got published for the fourth time in Edible Michiana

Around the house:

 

Found a mole in our basement
Grew a pumpkin from our compost pile
Finally figured out the selfie
Flipped a breech baby
Towards the end of my pregnancy, Caleb and I started observing SatNERDay where we did cool nerdy things like playing with Legos, watching cartoons, and eating Egg McMuffins for breakfast.

Foraged: (this list is woefully short this year, but that’s ok — I’ll make up for it 🙂 )

Cherries (and tomato plants from a neighbor who let me pick from the tree and then showed me her garden!)
Morels

The best adventure of the year was definitely giving birth to this spunky little girl!! Briefly, for record’s sake, here’s my birth story: I went into labor on Sunday morning, September 27, and counted contractions all through church. (They were 5-8 minutes apart all during the service.) They increased in frequency and duration steadily all throughout the day, and I finally told Caleb sometime in the afternoon that I thought I was in labor. (I was trying to be all tough girl and wait till I was REEAALLY sure.) We called the midwife and let her know, and she said to keep laboring at home for a while and call her once things were more progressed. That night there was a full harvest moon, and also a rare blood moon (and supposedly some other cool astronomical stuff I admittedly didn’t quite understand). We drove to the gas station, went for a walk, and watched a couple of episodes of a tv show (note to future moms: don’t watch Gotham while you’re in labor…not good for the nerves, lol) and finally drove to the Goshen Birth Center about 1 a.m. on the 28th, when contractions were approximately a minute long and a minute apart. They had recommended to wait as long as possible so we did, although I was admittedly very ready for her to come! But when we arrived, much to my dismay, I was only 2cm dialated! We waited another hour and wasn’t really dilated more even though the contractions were getting pretty uncomfortable. I was nervous that we’d have to drive home and come back later, which would have made for a pretty awful night, but the midwife did a membrane sweep and that immediately set me another centimeter. The birth center was neat because they gave you several options for laboring — I was able to labor in the tub for much of the time, even though I ended up being moved to the bed last-minute. After the membrane sweep, the next few hours advanced at about 1 cm per hour, and then suddenly I was in active labor.  (I realized this when I became aware that I had just let out a completely gutteral scream. I don’t normally let my physical boundaries down, even when in pain, subconsciously always wanting to feel in control of my physical body and how I am coming across. Well, all of that went out the window when active labor started. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but apparently started dialating so fast that the second midwife nearly didn’t make it in time for the birth.)  I had to push when I was only 9cm and the midwife had to tell me to try to NOT push to wait for the final cm! Scout Serenity Grace was born at 5:59 am Monday morning weighed 6 pounds 1 oz, was 19.25 inches long. Officially, active labor was 2 hours 59 minutes and I pushed for 9 minutes. Caleb went above and beyond his husband duties and was by my side the entire time, helping me labor and keeping me calm during the worst of it.

After Scout was born, we were blessed with an Indian Summer that we took full advantage of. Here are some microadventures with Scout:

Missessinewa 1812 reenactment at 2 weeks old
Dozens of walks during the indian summer including one at Chain O’ Lakes State Park
Hammocking with Emma
Cutting our own Christmas tree (favorite Christmas tradition)

Food I made this year: (I love trying new things)

baklava
chicken in milk with tarragon
saurkraut
Norwegian croissants
brown butter chocolate chip cookies
made a pie for a wedding (and attended 6 weddings for that matter)
homemade pizza – weekly during the summer
A perfect fall meal with Haley: Thyme and butter chicken with apple cider cream sauce, maple pureed pumpkin, gingerbread cupcakes for dessert.
Red tea spiced sweet potatoes
Salted rum caramel truffles
buttered rum (new holiday favorite)
honey latte (at-home recipe made with a blender: coffee with honey, coconut oil, and cream)

Favorite coffee/coffee shops:

Tolkien’s Pipe and Swedish Latte from 3Crowns
Campfire Coffee made with smoked chicory from the Poor Porker
Chestnut tea latte at The White Hart in Lynchburg Va. (an old favorite I revisited while I was there this summer)
Soup from Kenapochomocha coffee shop in North Manchester
Pain au chocolat at Light Rail (to die for…) and also their spruce chai

States Visited:

Michigan
Ohio
California
Virginia
Kentucky
Georgia

Other things:

Several years ago I made a pact with myself to write lots of letters. Stayed strong this year.

It’s also my goal to read more books every year. Last year I read 26, and this year I only TIED my goal…finished 26 books. Noteworthy among them were these titles: The Power and the Glory, American Gods, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (finally finished it!), My Name is Asher Lev, Ender’s Game, and my new favorite, All the Light We Cannot See.

Excited for what is to come!!

Adventures, Bucket Lists, and Contentment: 2014 Recap

I want to start documenting a little more directly the exciting and adventurous things I have done each year…it helps me remember how blessed/not boring my life actually is. I have been contemplating this project for a while, and I like it because it is not only a great way to remember a creative, fun year, it also caters to the side of me that loves to put everything in boxes.

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Sweet things I did in 2014:

dyed my hair like Rogue from X-men
refinished a desk
tried Kopi Luwak coffee at the Woman at Risk Conference
discovered hammocks
sent over 50 letters and read 26 books (and started countless more)
learned to throw pottery
found morel mushrooms
completed an internship at Hawkins Family Farm
finally mastered the forearm stand
finally got a six pack
started teaching myself cello
community dinners with rock climbing friends
tried slacklining
saw a calf just birthed in the mountains of Switzerland
started a monthly newsletter about courage

Month-by-Month 2014:

Januaryrecipe tested for FoodLovesWriting’s Einkorn Cookbook
February– solo road-tripped to Virginia, participated in the 40-day challenge through Goshen Grace Community Church
March– got some killer bruises while ice climbing in Michigan
April– Rock climbed at Red River Gorge (discovering Miguels and Ale-8), visited Nashville to run a marathon without training (barefoot) (don’t try this at home)
May– got published in Edible Michiana for the first time, got published in Wolftree magazine twice
June– saw baby bears and washed my hair in a mountain stream while backpacking for three days through Shenandoah Valley, (also may or may not have hitchhiked 20 miles up a mountain in a storm with a guy who’d just gotten out of court for possession of marijuana…did not just tell you that) sat in on a Sasquatch convention during the family reunion in Burr Oak State Park
July– helped unload a truckload of hay for the fun of it (and for a little cash)
August– competed in my first triathlon, drove a jet ski across Culver Lake, learned how to wakesurf, swam across Winona Lake
September– spent a week in Switzerland, hanging out around Eiger and drinking ungodly amounts of espresso, celebrated Hobbit Day, ran the Grace College Alumni 5k, got published in Edible Michiana again and hung out at the Nappanee Apple Fest
October– raced (and won) Nocturnal IV, hung out at Mississinewa 1812
November– learned about winter harvesting and butchered chickens during my internship at Hawkins Family Farm
Decembercut down a real Christmas tree, counted small blessings, and enjoyed a month full of celebrating with family and friends, observed Advent, celebrated my 2-year wedding anniversary and the 12 days of Christmas!

Okay, on to some of my favorite things (basically this means food and books)

U-Picked: strawberries, blueberries, and apples
Foraged for morel mushrooms, black raspberries (made black raspberry syrup), sassafras, hickory nuts (made hickory syrup), and wild blueberries in Switzerland
Made home-pressed apple cider (from a press my father in law built!) and homemade root beer with the foraged sassafrass
Shared: participated in a bread share, as well as receiving an abundance of vegetables from Hawkins Farm!

Gifted a moka pot
Discovered chicory coffee and dandelion root coffee
Invented a hot chocolate with smoked tea infused caramel and smoked salt (it tasted like a campfire)

Best Reads:

East of Eden by Steinbeck (changed.my.life.), Unbroken (biography of Louis Zamperini), (reread) Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Shack by William Young (wow that one was different than I expected!), Mastery by Robert Greene (hidden ebook gem), and Lone Survivor, autobiogrophy of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

Best Movies: The Secret Life of Walter MittyThe Battle of the Five Armies, Unbroken
I also watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Ameile for the first time and re-watched The Breakfast Club. Classics! (Also, I learned that my favorite TV series, Pushing Daisies, was heavily inspired by Ameile!

—–
Quick 2013 recap (Because I didn’t do this last year and I plan on making it a yearly thing)

States visited in 2013:

North Carolina
Alabama
Colorado
Wisconsin
Michigan
Kentucky
Indiana (duh)
Ohio (duh)

Best of 2013 in chronological order:

–saw the Avett Brothers in concert (best.concert.ever.)
–stayed in a cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina and hiked on the Appalachian Trail
–shot a semiautomatic rifle and milked a cow in Alabama
–ran a quarter marathon Winona Lake trail race
–solo-road-tripped to Wausau, Wisconsin to visit my sister
–baked several piecakens
climbed to the top of Mount Yale, my first 14er
–spent a weekend in Mesick, Michigan (just on the border of Manistee National Forest), fishing, cooking over campfires, canoeing, and practicing archery
–saw Josh Turner in concert
–celebrated Hobbit Day with an apple pierateship
–saw Mumford & Sons in concert (!)
ran a 50k relay in Door County, Wisconsin (and medaled!)
–ran a Tough Mudder with my brother
placed 2nd in a poetry contest
–saw A Christmas Carol at the Indiana Repertory Theater and ate at Hard Rock Cafe
-finished 19 books and started many more

All of these things were made possible by friends, family, and a little dose of stubbornness on my part to take every opportunity and live life to the fullest. I am grateful.

the fears that keep me from writing

If I write, then people will know.
They will know I’m different.

To some it’s that I’m quiet, that I’m not always bursting with jokes and laughter, always casting spells on the audience, singing loud and uninhibited. I know the truth about myself, and it is hard enough to accept because sometimes I wish I was all of those things. But I also know what’s true: I’m full of life, of energy. I create, I have ideas.

And I also watch.

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That can be a blessing and a curse, because the watchers are the storytellers, and they have a special role in the world. They help people remember, help them see what they would normally miss.

But also sometimes the writer sorts  sit back, sit still,  wait for the people to come to them instead of standing up and reaching out.

I can be like that.

Some of you can be like that.

You don’t reach for things. You’re all curled up inside yourselves. Every once in a while I can see inside enough to know you’re the same way I am, I see just pieces and glimpses of the you you’re hiding.

And I think it’s beautiful.

Because I’m the the sitting-back-and-putting-pieces-together sort. The finding-beauty-where-it’s-hidden sort. The sometimes-quiet sort.

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Course, there are times I unfold and spill over, loud and excited, but those are when I am absolutely, completely surrounded by people and routines that say, every day: you are wanted. you are accepted. you are useful. 

I’ve been there before, and I’m not there right now, but rather in this strange limbo world between safe-places.  I can relate to C.S. Lewis, who said when he first came to Oxford: “Is it that no man makes real friends after he has passed the undergraduate age?” Something about adulthood, about reserve and manners and dignity, makes that joyful “you too!?” so much more difficult to say.

I kick myself for not being able to reach out, for letting my scared little heart be content to only watch. The excuse? “I’m a writer, I was meant to observe, not engage.”

NO.

That’s a lie, heart.
A writer has to live, too. The best writers have compelling stories of their own, and though they can tell someone else’s with honesty and grace – well, they have to be able to tell their own with the same force.

And they have to lower their guard enough to discover the others in hiding.

So this is me, waving a white flag of sorts, saying, I want to  live, and watch, and run headlong into all of the scary new places of that lonely world called adulthood. I want to know your story, though I’m terrified to ask.

If you can relate, leave me a comment about it, will you? I’m in desperate need of some kinfolk.

February 27: road trip to North Carolina

(where awaits a cabin, a hot tub, and Appalachian mountains under a stony sky) —

The hazy minutes waking out of a doze next to someone in the car can be revealing. When people think you are asleep it leaves them in the pleasant self-awareness of being alone with themselves, yet with the cozy connection of a sleeping soul close by. Yet the sleeper, in a poetic haze, watches dazedly and feels like a secret onlooker, loving harder than ever an hoping it can spill over into the waking hours.

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the paradox

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Spending the weekend with my husband’s family. It’s been full of good things: tea and blueberry scones/stacks of maps/husband in camo/light earlier and later/secret plans

Be grateful for the home you have,
knowing that at this moment,
all you have is all you need.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

 

My OneWord365: Why discipline needs a prefix

I’ve read about OneWord365 on several blogs. It seemed like a good idea, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I almost ditched the idea of posting about it entirely, but I can’t. Because my one word is

self-discipline.

I’m in a transitionary time in my life: I just graduated from college, got married, and realized a whole bunch of things about myself that I need to act on and not just sit on. Basically, The direction I choose now will be the direction I take my entire future. Therefore, (and perhaps more importantly),

The habits I create now will affect the direction and results of the rest of my life.

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me, at NAIA Nationals in Portland Oregon

Because habits add up.

I read a post on artofmanliness.com (tomboy! don’t judge) called What’s Your 20-Mile March? Using the famous race to the South Pole between Robert Scott and Roald Admundson, authors Brett and Kate McKay outline the major differences between those who achieve high levels of success and those who don’t reach their goals. They also cited a research project done by Collins and Hanson, studying businesses that performed 10x better than their peers.

The secret?

The magical key?

“It was actually discipline, fanatic discipline, that was one of the true master keys of the companies’ success.”

Oh, gracious. How boring.

But, as I reflect on my own life and what I consider to be my biggest accomplishments so far, I have to agree. My career as a runner in college is something I consider one of my best accomplishments. I graduated with eight records from my (albeit small) college, a posture of confidence in myself that I never previously dreamed of, and a host of wonderful memories of even more wonderful friends that I will never, ever forget.

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I’m the one on the bottom row, in the middle, with the smile so big it’s about to crack my face in half.

And why did I reap these rewards?

Every day at four o’clock,  I walked over to the gym.
That’s it.

Those early days, when I hated running and all the weird people I had to be around all day (they actually liked running, so something HAD to be wrong with them!) my motivation was (I’ll admit) completely externally motivated. If I wouldn’t get into a buttload of trouble with my coach for skipping practice, there’s no way I’d be there. If I hadn’t the constant fear of my uber-consistent teammates sitting me down and giving me “the talk” about giving it my all…slacking would have been my default option.

It was only after I started reaping the rewards of my consistency that I grew in my own confidence and ability to motivate myself. When I started winning races. When teammates became friends, and practice actually meant fun – I started to look at the whole 4 o’clock nonsense a lot differently.

That’s what I have to do now.
Minus the team. And the winning. And maybe even the fun.

Which makes it really hard, I’ll admit. I miss having the perfect excuse to stay ridiculously fit. I miss having scores of friends to keep me motivated and encouraged. It’s so…lonely!…trying to do it by myself!

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My relay team. We were tight.

But…

The habits I create now will affect the direction and results of the rest of my life.

That’s why my word this year isn’t just discipline, because that isn’t enough anymore.  I need to make use of my resources  and right now those amount to…

me.

I have no choice, really.  Not now that I know what I’d be missing in the long run.

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