checking in.

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^Our neighbors new puppy, not ours^

We have lived in California for four months now. The dogs are settling in [Betty just aggressively yawned because she is bored. She’s such a teenager!] and we are too.

When we were looking for houses to rent we started in the Ventura area, but thankfully housing was tough to find because it never felt like the right area for us. Then one weekend we decided to check out houses in the Ojai-Meiners Oaks area and it immediately felt like home. We are off the beaten path as far as proximity to things like Target and Trader Joes, but it is so worth it to be surrounded by the mountains.

Work is wonderful, I love it so much and feel incredibly lucky to have landed at such an awesome company. It’s been pretty easy to make friends and I have had a much busier social life the past four months here than I ever had in South Carolina—grad school sucked the life out of me. Working for an outdoor company where everyone just gets it has made building new friendships as simple as it could be.

I don’t know if it’s the influence of my work environment, Ojai, cultural trends, my age or a combination of all of them—but I have been trying to clean up my life. Everything from what I eat [and drink] to the lotions I use to my shampoo and conditioner to the rate at which I consume. I even kicked my nasty Coke Zero habit and have been soda free for two months! I know that’s gross.

I am far from perfect. Last weekend while backpacking with six girls who are on fairly similar lifestyle pages as myself made me realize how much I still do that could be considered bad. No pressure or getting caught up in comparisons, I like to change things as I feel ready, slowly but surely. In case my family is worried, I can assure you there’s no pachouli oil in my future…

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^Tawnee, Briana & Me^

Instead of checking in with social media, I’ve been focused on learning new things. I subscribed to The Skimm to get me started on paying attention to the news on a daily basis. Jared also pushes me to talk about current events more as he’s super engaged in the Presidential campaign. I had to start learning more so I could direct our conversations away from talking about Trump, Hillary and Bernie…

I finally have the mental capacity to expand my knowledge base outside of school and work again. I’m not just reading romance novels anymore [yes, that really happened last summer]. It feels good to get into a good book, a real book. Or even just text back and forth with friends when I have the spare time. To my friends that are up at 5am like me, I love texting back with you while I drink my morning coffee—it’s the best time to reach me and get a response.

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I am kind of training right now, but only because I want to be fit enough to explore all of the trails this area has to offer. I’ve also gotten out on some hikes and runs with new friends, it feels good to chat with girlfriends on the trails.

Ultimately, even though I didn’t want to move to California, Ojai is treating US well and we’re really enjoying everything this little town has to offer. And I’m still waiting to spot my first celeb.😉

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where did the last two months go?

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Another two months have passed since I wrote here. To be completely candid, I try to write here often, whenever I need to work through some feelings. I leave the posts half written in a queue, knowing I will never revisit them. It’s a cathartic process.

Most of you who read this are family and close friends and already know this news. I’ll do this for me, to have something to go back and read when I am 90…

I graduated from Clemson University with a MS in Graphic Communications on December 17, 2015. IMG_8360

My time at Clemson has been full of growing pains. I worked my butt off, held myself to sky high expectations and when I let myself slide a bit, a Professor was there to ask for more. Finally in my last semester, I stood my ground and learned to say, no.

I love to say, yes. I love making people happy and I do not love ruffling people’s feathers. If there is one great lesson I can take away from my time in grad school, it is to take better care of myself. To think before I say, yes. To ruffle some feathers from time to time. And to not be afraid to say, no.

All of that is easier said than done. Regardless, it is a process and I am working on it. Saying yes has opened a lot of doors for me—it has also backed me up into corners that are hard to get out of.

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I am happy to have made it out on the other side. And excited to report we [Jared, Betty & Cody] are moving to the Ventura, California area in less than two weeks! I accepted a job with Patagonia as a Color Advisor.

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It is bittersweet that we leave Greenville, South Carolina. For the first 8-10mos. we hated it here and then something shifted. We built a little group of friends and settled into the lovely, mild four seasons and low cost of living that the Southeast offers.

The good news is we will be closer to my family and to some of our friends!

 

IMG_8669Soaking up things relatively local, like a quick trip up to Richmond to hang with Yasi and Sam, who are newly engaged!

4 months later

there are currently 20 drafts in my blog library that i have started only to abandon halfway through. each one providing me an outlet to express some of my thoughts and dig my way out of the hole i was in. that hole is something i would like to write about at some point, when it feels right and when i am willing to rip the bandaid off.

in the meantime i feel like posting some pictures and updating my little space here on the internet. it’s providing me with a nice distraction from writing up some of my research.

here’s a little photo recap of the past 4 months.

at the end of may/early june, i somehow gained 15lbs seemingly overnight, as captured below. i also had two gnarly skin infections that i think were caused purely from stress.

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i went to san diego to visit my dad and teri. i was having a tough time.

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then i went to detroit to see my mom, 2 of my aunts and my uncle. things were starting to look up and i lost 10 of the extra pounds.

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these two kept me moving forward when i could barely get out of bed.

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i went to minnesota to visit this guy while he worked at the fair.

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and went for a walk and chat with trisha while i was there.

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i went to chicago with school and got to hangout and laugh with RC and Russ (both not pictured)

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i got back on my bike to visit the oreo cows. although admittedly, i have only ridden twice since kona.

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played in the mud with this crazy little lady!

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both of my bike rides were captured.

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we endured some epic rainfall, that devastated parts of our state and left us unharmed.

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i went to philadelphia to visit family and saw the liberty bell.

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i drove to nashville to see my dad who was there for work and spent the entire drive home with my jaw dropped from fall color overload!

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i joined snapchat and continued to laugh at betty’s antics.

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i cheered for jared as he raced a half marathon on halloween in his undies and placed 2nd overall.

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enjoying fall with my furry monster and have lost the extra weight i gained this summer.

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free.

it’s interesting to feel your values shift as you grow older. when i was in my teens, all i wanted was to go to the olympics in three-day-eventing. there were some unfortunate events that happened. things happen when you’re not the sole part of a performance and instead, in my situation, working with/on a horse. i gave it my all the summer before my senior year of high school, only to come out beaten and broken. at that point i finally listened to the advice given to me and took a step back.

the guilt i felt making that decision was horrible. i vividly remember the emotional process and it took me committing to leaving the country (new zealand) to walk away. i remember my dad said he wouldn’t sell my horse while i was gone and let me think about it while i explored the world. [even typing this makes me tear up] i came home and didn’t want to ride. i struggled with losing my identity.

running filled the void and triathlon quickly followed. i have never committed to triathlon and running the way i did to riding. because i learned things change, i change. i have known it’s better for my well being if i don’t let triathlon or running completely consume my life, it either adds to the greatness of my life or i should find something else.

i have been asked by many if i feel “free” since retiring from triathlon and walking away from the pressures of training? i don’t have a straight forward answer. the thing is, i made conscious decisions to limit the amount of stress the sport put on my life. not having a coach was the most beneficial decision i made towards my enjoyment in sport. i am smart enough and resourceful (i have ingenius friends who are more than willing to provide direction). also, i do not feel pressure by what other people post on social media. what other people do and post doesn’t negatively impact my day and if it does, i simply, “unfollow” the offenders.

i guess what i am trying to say is, sport wasn’t negative for me. it just became too demanding at a time i wanted to put my focus elsewhere, like now, towards grad school.

i was recently listening to a podcast where they were talking about, “the glorification of being busy.” there is one thing i pulled out of it that truly resonated with me. it was the process of not filling your plate 100+% full in order to get the most out of yourself, instead we should shoot for 80%. i am one of those people that doesn’t feel content unless they have far too much on their plate. it’s a constant problem and i am in perpetual crisis mode. i am probably not going to get this right, but the reason for the 80% is that things often take much longer than you anticipate. if i didn’t understand that well before, after 24 grad school credits where we’re constantly relying on technology, i get it.

instead of committing to endurance racing, i am committed to working through some of my biggest limiters [in life]. i am also working from scratch, doing something i have wanted to do for a very long time — build my strength and core muscles so i am better, more balanced athlete. doing all those little things that are the first to fly out the window when you get in the thick of long distance training without any stress of squeezing in some miles. i also need to get my health on track as i am a hot mess, but that’s another post for another day.

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live authentically.

i quit.

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in middle school and high school my identity was wrapped up in riding horses and competing. when i graduated high school i walked away from riding to explore our big world. i spent seven hard, yet glorious months traveling around new zealand and learning who i am away from horse back riding.

once back from new zealand, i got into running as a way to lose weight. i ran my first marathon at 20 and have dabbled on and off in the endurance sport world for the past ten years. running and triathlon have given me strength, taught me commitment and perseverance, and helped me create a lovely network of beautiful people i call, my friends.

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for the past few months i was training for a hard 50k with a ton of climbing and descending, more in one race than i have ever put together in one week. that concept excited me! the race is next weekend and i trained just enough for it. but something hasn’t been feeling right in my head and gut. this translated into my stride.

i was digging myself a new hole, the same kind of hole i like to dig myself over and over and over again. i started feeling lethargic, i was gaining weight even though i was running 50mi a week, i was needing to drink wine to calm down every.single.night, i was feeling stressed out while running instead of feeling free and alive.

once i added those up, it was an easy decision to make.

i quit.

i quit because for once in my adult life i don’t want to dedicate my energy towards an event. i quit because i want to completely throw myself into my education and not feel pulled one way or the other. i quit so i can be the best version of me. i quit because running shouldn’t be stressful, especially when you’re running in the mountains. i quit because i want to feel strong and i started to feel really weak (physically). i quit because i have goals that are bigger than one race in the mountains. i quit because a hobby i choose to do, should be something i thoroughly enjoy — allowing room and energy for me to better handle the other stressful elements life tends to conjure up.

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this does not mean i am walking away from adventure — it simply means i am opening my life up to pursue bigger adventures with my friends.

murphy’s law.

the past few months have been a perfect storm. murphy’s law is in effect. “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” i am a problem solver and i like to have control and this semester my problem solving skills have been challenged by a variety of issues in and out of my control. the only thing that is truly in my control is the way i handle adversity. any mistake you can make, i have probably made. [how many more times can i say, “control” in one paragraph?]

at the beginning of the semester i got a bit caught up in my personal life and things that require some attention and are in need of change. this derailed my attention from school and once i realized what was happening i began practicing my compartmentalization skills to get back on track. i cannot have it all right now, my focus is my education, it is why i am here.

nothing is easy. and i wasn’t looking for an easy button coming here, i was looking for a challenge, and a challenge i got.

yesterday on campus when it felt like my world was crushing down on me, again, i realized this is just another lesson and why i am here. my heart was in my throat (this happens daily) as i opened up a file that was 98% complete as of yesterday after a 14hr day to find it saved funky and pieces were everywhere. this was after i was told i had to re-print a flexible packaging project and then i couldn’t find my yellow plate, which is most likely in the trash and now i have to go back through the process of making a yellow plate that requires nearly four hours of time. that doesn’t include having to remount my plates and the printing time. [i am talking gibberish to anyone who doesn’t know flexographic printing and this is just one day, most days have their challenges] i digress, i have learned that i cannot expect others to know what i need or want unless i ask, even if it makes me uncomfortable and makes me feel like a failure or a dumbass. no one can read my mind. yesterday i had to ask a lot of questions that ultimately made me feel like a failure, but i knew no one could know what i needed unless i asked and even though i felt like a complete idiot, it was fine.

whether i fail or not, this is growth. this is why i am here and putting myself out there and taking leaps. i am falling down [literally and figuratively] and dusting myself off time after time.

the good news is there is a new project that i am interested in as a special project. it’s a piece that is going to push me and that is exciting. although i know it will most likely be more work than i anticipate, which seems to be the trend here. i tell all my freshman/sophmores when they complain about how difficult things are that they have to get used to it. with the amount of software, machines and materials we use, the potential for things to go wrong is infinite. things always go wrong.

all of this also means, i cannot aggressively train for anything right now and that is okay. i am still going to race the 50k at the end of May, i will be fine for it. but i haven’t worked out in three days and i am writing this right now instead of running and my time is limited unless i don’t sleep and i need sleep. i need my brain to have a chance to function.

spring break.

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it’s spring break and i am supposed to be partying it up – there is only a little bit of that, the elizabeth kind. and then there is the rest of the time where i am trying to make up for everything i have let slide. and so here i am more than half way through spring break and i don’t feel relaxed at all. i have kept myself up each night panicking about things i need to take care of and things i think i should be doing and then i am furious with myself because i need to learn how to relax when i get a little break or i am going to be tightly wound for the rest of my life and that is not okay with me! [must breathe]

i am not prepared to dive into details at this point in time, but i am happy to share my version of spring break partying.

yesterday jared and i took off for a whirlwind day. we left the pups at home to hold down the fort while we spent the day gallivanting up north. i saw this peak mentioned after a quick search for some good trails and it sounded amazing so i scoured the internet for more information and could barely find a thing. i scribbled down loose directions to the trail head but i couldn’t find enough information to tell us which direction on the trail to go. all i knew is we could get in some good miles on the Appalachian Trail regardless of the way we chose. turned out we went the right way, our car didn’t get broken into being the only one parked on the side of the road and we were treated to some spectacular views of North Carolina and Tennessee at the top of Big Bald Mountain. we met two guys at the top who were through hikers of the AT trail, they were out for roughly five months and i couldn’t help but feel a little envy towards them.

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there is nothing that makes me feel more alive than being outside experiencing the world through nature. trail running (and racing) gives me an excuse to be out there, it also provides a short term goal that gives me a sense of accomplishment while i am chasing bigger, longer term dreams in other aspects of my life. i don’t need the races to get me out there, but i do love the boost it gives me to break outside my comfort zone and see what the world has to offer.

we grabbed doughnuts from a couple places in AVL on our way to the AT trail, packed them up to the top as our treat for for reaching the summit of Big Bald Mountain.
we grabbed doughnuts from a couple places in AVL on our way to the AT trail, packed them up to the top as our treat for for reaching the summit of Big Bald Mountain.

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