Throwback Thursday

In honor of my mother’s birthday this week and the current “Throwback Thursday” trend (which, admittedly, I’ve never participated in before), I want to share this little gem I found:

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That’s me on the log, I would say maybe 10 years old or so, and my mom standing above me. This, folks, is proof of my courageous spirit 😉

I don’t actually remember this moment at all.

I probably took about five steps onto the log, decided I would certainly fall to my untimely death, and then straddled the log and inched my way across. My mother, ever impatient (and amused) when I refuse to do something that I am perfectly capable of doing, is clearly laughing in the picture. The fact that she is standing in front of me indicates how slowly I must have been moving. haha.

In other news, check out those awesome hiking boots I’m wearing with my shorts! At least, I think I’m wearing shorts… Technically all you can see in the picture are my scrawny sexy white legs.

Thanks for the chuckle, Throwback Thursday! And happy birthday, Mom!

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A Little Change

If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be?

My impulsive reaction to this question was that I would not be so much of a perfectionist. But in contemplating it, the issue is more complicated than that. You see, a perfectionist is who I am – it’s a part of my core personality, and a strong part at that. Sometimes it’s a positive trait – I am careful, I am responsible, people trust me to get things done the right way. My over-achiever personality combined with my perfectionism has led me to accomplish a lot of great things in my life, and I love that.

What I don’t like about being a perfectionist is the expectations I place on myself. I hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others to, not because I think they are capable of achieving less than me but because I am more forgiving of others. When someone else makes a mistake, my reaction is to be positive and lift them up. “It’s no big deal! We’ll make it work! Buck up, little camper!” When I make a mistake, I really beat myself up about it. The worse the mistake, the longer my attacks against myself will last. “I can’t believe I was so stupid. What was I thinking? Why did I do that?” Rarely are my self-attacks productive, nor do they lead me to change myself for the better. I end up frustrated with myself and quite discouraged.

This reminds me of a song called Gentle by Michael McLean.

Like a gentle wind can blow the clouds from the sky,
Like a gentle touch can ease the pain of goodbye,
Like a gentle smile embraces empty souls in lonely places,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Like the friend who gently builds us up when we’re down,
Like a gentle kiss can turn our world all around,
We’ve been hurt by others often,
We’ve forgiven and forgotten,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Life can be hard but
We need not be
So hard on ourselves,
If we will see

Like the Shepherd leads His flock with gentle commands.
With His gentle voice that only hearts understand.
One thing we can know for certain, He has borne the awful burdens
So we can be more gentle with ourselves.

One thing that I know for certain:
He will bear my every burden,
So I can be gentle with myself.

So if I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? I would learn to be more gentle with myself.

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Blast from the Past

Alright, ladies and gentlemen! Story time!

In my high school, it was a custom for the seniors to give our band and choir teachers a gift at the end of the year. Well, at least it was for music nerds like me 🙂

My band teacher has gone by the nickname “Doc” for as long as I can remember. Some of his earliest students gave him the nickname, and it stuck. Sometime during my senior year, we discovered that Doc, whose primary instrument is trombone (same as mine), had never had better than a student model trombone. It was pretty old and beat up. It looked something like this:

Trombone

Us trombone players call this basic style of trombone a “pea shooter.” The name comes from the fact that you can set a pea in the mouthpiece and blow hard enough that the pea will travel all the way through the trombone and come out the bell. There’s your useless trivia for the day! So Doc, after playing trombone and teaching music for years, still had a beat-up pea shooter.

My friend Paul (a fellow trombonist) and I came up with the idea to raise enough money to purchase a nicer trombone for our beloved teacher. We gathered funds from the students, and then we branched out and gathered funds from alumni and from Doc’s family members and friends. Doc is loved by so many people that it took hardly any effort at all. We bought him a brand new, professional trombone. It was beautiful.

I worked at Chick-fil-A at the time and brought home a huge cardboard box from work. Paul and I put the trombone inside it and then wrapped it like a giant present, complete with a bow.

At the final concert of the year, we interrupted Doc just before the final song. As one student took the microphone and began expressing our appreciation, Paul and I rolled the massive gift box on a dolly onto the stage. Doc (and probably many others) shed a few tears when he opened it. It was a very touching, and the gift felt like only a small token compared to the appreciation he deserved.

We had arranged for Doc’s oldest son to conduct the final song so that Doc could play with us, and Paul and I were able to play our last song of our senior year sitting on either side of him in the trombone section. It was one of the highlights of my high school experience.

Why bring this story up now? Well, I hadn’t really thought about it for a long time. But this past weekend, I was asked to help in the pit orchestra at my high school’s musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s difficult music, and the trombone players were struggling, so I am performing with them. Honestly, I had a rough time with it, too. Anyway, at the end of last night’s show (opening night), I discovered that one of the high school trombonists is using Doc’s trombone to play in the pit orchestra – the very trombone I helped raise funds for over seven years ago! They (the trombonists) told me that he brings it out during class to play. And they knew that students had given it to him as a gift, which means he has shared the story. I was so excited to find out that he is still using it and enjoying it!

I feel like the gift I helped to give has become a gift to me, in the satisfaction of knowing that Doc has a constant reminder of just how many people he has positively affected throughout the years. What we gave to him seven years ago was much more than a trombone – it was the combined love and support of many, many people who care about him.

Doc is nearing retirement age, and last night he suggested bringing together an alumni jazz band before he retires. Sign me up, folks. I am so there.

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Madame Librarian

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt asked for my favorite character of all time. Though that’s hard to pinpoint (I’m not very decisive about my favorites), I’m going to choose a character I feel like I relate to very well: Marian Paroo, or Marian the Librarian, from the musical The Music Man.

Marian is 26, single, inherited the library, and teaches piano lessons to the children in River City. In other words, she’s basically my age, single, and loves books and music. Of course, Marian is a little stuck up and a little rough around the edges, and she also falls in love with a crook – but let’s just ignore those things for now 🙂

In a lesser known song from the musical, My White Knight, Marian describes the type of man she’s looking for, and it sounds rather similar to my own dream guy (minus the state of Iowa part). It goes like this:

All I want is a plain man
All I want is a modest man
A quiet man, a gentle man
A straightforward and honest man
To sit with me in a cottage somewhere in the state of Iowa.

And I would like him to be more interested in me than he is in himself.
And more interested in us than in me.

And if occasionally he’d ponder
What makes Shakespeare and Beethoven great,
Him I could love till I die. Him I could love till I die.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about Marian, though, is her relationship with her mother, who doesn’t think that Marian should be so picky when it comes to dating, and who is very involved in Marian’s romance with Harold. It’s hilariously similar to my relationship with my own mother. Here’s a segment of a duet Marian and her mother (Mrs. Paroo) sing together:

Marian:
Mama, if you don’t mind my sayin’ so,
You have a bad habit of changin’ ev’ry subject–

Mrs. Paroo:
Well, I haven’t changed the subject!
I was talking about that stranger–

Marian:
What stranger?

Mrs. Paroo:
With the suitcase who may be your very last chance.

Marian:
Mama!
Do you think that I’d allow a common masher–
Now, really Mama!
I have my standards where men are concerned,
And I have no intention–

Mrs. Paroo:
I know all about your standards
And if you don’t mind my sayin’ so
There’s not a man alive
Who could hope to measure up to that blend’a
Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat and Noah Webster
You’ve concocted for yourself outta your Irish imagination,
Your Iowa stubbornness, and your liberry fulla’ books!

And here’s the icing on the cake: I learned from Wikipedia today that Meredith Willson (the writer of The Music Man) met a woman named Marian Seeley in Provo, Utah during World War II when Marian was a medical records librarian. The character Marian was based on this Marian that Meredith met in my home state. How cool is that?

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Life Goes On

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost

What I want to write about today is simple – why holding a grudge is holding you back. Why? Because so many of us have not yet learned that life goes on.

I have a theory about grudges. If you continue to read my blog, you’ll learn that I have a lot of theories – probably due to the inner dialogue that is constantly going on in my head. I’m a contemplative individual, I guess. First, let me tell you that I am terrified of confrontation. Because of this fear, I do everything in my power to stay on good terms with my friends. However, occasionally it doesn’t work, and I get offended by something that someone has said or done. I’m human.

My plan of action when this happens is to simply let it go. I assume that they had the best intentions, convince myself that no offense was intended, and move on with my life. If, for whatever reason, it has been several days and I still cannot move on, then I will bring it up with the person and work it out. I would estimate that 99.7% of the time when someone is offended, the “offender” meant no offense. 90% of the time, the “offender” either didn’t know they offended anyone or don’t remember the conversation at all. Okay, so my numbers are not exactly scientific, but I still feel that they have merit. Surely all of us have had someone in our life tell us they were offended by something we said or did, and we had no idea they were offended. It happens all the time.

But holding a grudge hurts only the person who is harboring bad feelings. Holding a grudge is a waste of memory. Oprah Winfrey said, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” I love that. Forgiving someone is a way of showing that you can let go of the past. Forgiving someone shows that you know the past can’t be changed and that you won’t let it hold you down.

So don’t waste your time or your emotions or your memory on harboring grudges. You are better than that. You can accomplish so much more in your life by letting go of the burden of others’ past mistakes. Chances are, there are others who are trying to forgive you for your mistakes, too – and wouldn’t you rather have everyone forgive and forget the things you’ve done wrong? Give others – and yourself – the courtesy of allowing life to move on.

I’ll just leave you with one final thought to ponder:

“The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” – Barbara Kingsolver

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Thankful November

Every November, my friends begin posting something on Facebook that they’re grateful for every day. Though I’ve never participated, I think November is a perfect time to show a little extra gratitude to our Maker. Today my roommate and I spent some time in our back yard raking thousands of leaves. No, seriously. There must have been thousands. For whatever reason, the person who owned the house before us (and by “us” I mean my roommate, since I don’t actually own it) planted seven leaf-dropping trees in the back yard, and two more in the front yard! Plus one blue spruce. Side note: If you’ve never seen a silver maple tree, go out and plant one. They’re gorgeous, and they turn this beautiful light yellow color before losing their leaves.

Anyway…as I started raking, I had to take my jacket off because it felt so warm once I was moving. And then I realized how much I LOVE this time of year. It was warm and sunny and beautiful, with crisp autumn air and the smell of leaves. So today I am grateful for autumn and all the nice things that come with it – hot chocolate, sweaters, scarves, bright colors on the trees, the smell in the air, the thunderstorms, hiking, and food made from pumpkins. I love it all.

So happy late Halloween, happy early Thanksgiving, happy beautiful autumn, and happy Thankful November!

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Welcome to NaBloPoMo!

Several years ago someone invented the idea of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which encourages writers to finish a novel during the month of November. From that idea sprung NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. Though NaBloPoMo has been expanded to any month, most bloggers participate in November in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. Seeing the opportunity to improve my writing skills, I’m taking the challenge this year.

Unfortunately it is overlapping with So Creative!, a photo-a-day challenge from a friend of mine, as well as my continued attempt to do P90X workouts 6 days a week through mid-January. So we’ll see how this goes. For day 1, I thought I’d share my first photo from So Creative: my self portrait.

I know, I know. A self portrait (I would use “selfie,” but even typing it makes me feel like I’m 13 years old) seems like a no-brainer – just snap a picture of myself! But the idea is to be creative, so instead I chose to showcase one of my most interesting physical features – the freckle on my left eye. My friends were talking about it just last night, so it’s on my mind. Also, I didn’t know it was there until my best friend pointed it out when I was 21. As a stalwart perfectionist, at first it drove. me. crazy. I would look in the mirror and couldn’t see anything else. Just that freckle, staring back at me with all its imperfection. But now I kind of like it because it makes me unique. And wouldn’t life be boring if everyone were the same?

Blue eye

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Workout Greenie

Triumph

Though I’ve been physically active my whole life, I’ve never worked out. Before this week, I’m not sure I’d even stepped foot inside a gym, except perhaps for swimming. Even my bucket list doesn’t include finishing a workout program – learning to golf, sure. Learning to snowboard? Absolutely. Wakeboarding, snowshoeing, riding a tandem bicycle, and even biking 25 miles have all made it onto the bucket list. But I’ve never had any interest in working out.

So when my new roommate asked me to do P90X with her at 5:30 a.m. for 90 days, of course I answered with an excited “Sure!” Why, you ask? Because I’m insane.

P90X, also known as Beach Body, is an intense 90-day workout. The workouts range from 45 min. to 1 1/2 hrs. long and are designed specifically to kill you. Actually, they are designed to tone your muscles, improve your strength, and improve your balance. To some extent, you have control over how intense your workout is, but believe you me, it is not easy for newbies to the workout scene. It’s 6 workouts a week for 13 weeks, and we have elected to use Sunday as our rest day each week. We’re doing the P90X Lean schedule, which uses the same workouts as the Classic schedule but in a different order and with more emphasis on cardio. I think the idea is to tone your muscles without bulking up.

This morning my roommate and I finished workout number 9, and I tore off a link of the paper chain our friend made for us. That sound of paper ripping is surprisingly satisfying.

Don't be fooled - this thing is huge right now.

Don’t be fooled – this thing is huge right now.

My first week (last week) was rough. Once I made peace with the fact that my muscles would feel sore all the time (I’ve been told that this goes away at week 3), the workouts became enjoyable. The hardest part has actually been getting up in the mornings – which is why we’re using the buddy system and working out together. I am not a morning person. Side note: my roommate has been working out her whole life. We’ve been friends for two years, and she has accepted that if she wants to exercise with me, it has to be something like hiking or biking. I think we were both surprised when I accepted her offer to do P90X together.

I successfully completed the first three days of intense push-ups, cardio, and weight lifting. Then, in a cruel twist of fate, yoga made me nauseated. After some brief research (courtesy of Google), I discovered that this is really common with yoga beginners. It can be caused by stretching the vagus nerve – in the back of your neck – the wrong way (i.e., looking up when you’re supposed to be looking down). Since I was looking up to see the positions, it makes sense. Tomorrow is yoga attempt #2. We’ll see if goes better this time.

Yesterday, I was excited when I realized that I wasn’t sore at all. My hamstrings were a little tight when I moved in certain positions, but that was it. No sore back, no sore abs, no wanting to shoot myself in the foot. I was stoked. Then last night, I went ice skating with my boyfriend.

Activities like ice skating and rollerblading have never been particularly difficult for me. I can’t do anything special on skates, but I can stay up and at least look semi-graceful doing it. But last night, the front tip of my blade caught the ice, and I went down. Hard. It happened so fast that I didn’t realize what was going on until I was lying face down on the cold, hard, unforgiving ice. At that moment, I realized that my attempt to catch myself with my hands had been futile, as evidenced by the fact that my arms were sprawled out across the ice above my head, in true face-planting fashion. I seriously wish someone had been recording it.

The trouble is, it HURT. My right knee and left hip must have taken most of the blow because both of them feel like someone beat me with a baseball bat. How I managed to injure my right knee and left hip is beyond me…maybe yoga is increasing my flexibility, after all 😉 The good news is that the damage is surface-level – nothing is broken or torn. I actually fell two more times after that first painful fall, both due to trying to compensate for my throbbing knee. On the third and final fall, my boyfriend tried to turn around to help me up and ended up falling about 6 feet away from me. Hopefully we were at least entertaining for the other ice skaters 🙂 We gave up after only about 1/2 hour of ice skating and opted for watching Once Upon a Time at his apartment instead.

My roommate has informed me that I am not allowed to go ice skating again until January, after we have finished P90X. I guess she doesn’t want to lose her workout buddy, as gimpy as I may be 🙂

How I FEEL working out in the mornings

How I FEEL working out in the mornings

How I LOOK working out in the mornings

How I LOOK working out in the mornings

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A Fair to Remember

Another bucket list item crossed off! This one? “Enter something into a state fair.”

About a year ago, I decided photography would be a good choice because (1) it doesn’t require a lot of time or fancy equipment, and (2) I was about to spend three months in Africa, which was a rare opportunity for some quality pics. During my time in Ghana, I took a lot of pretty good photos, and a few exceptional ones. I had beautiful subjects to work with 🙂 I was also using a cheap point-and-shoot type of camera: an 8.0 megapixel Nikon CoolPix. I think that makes the photo quality the same as an iPhone 5.

After returning to the States, I selected 25 of my favorite photos and polled my friends to see which they liked best. Then I narrowed it to 10 and polled them again – this time using fancy online survey software (a special thanks to everyone who voted, by the way. It was very helpful). Using their feedback, I selected three photos to enter, all in the Amateur category. I did some basic PhotoShop editing (totally legal), had them printed and mounted on foam core board, and then sent them with my friend Bridgette, who entered the contest with three photos of her own!

Here are the three photos I chose, with their titles in the photo captions.

Entered into Amateur photography in the Scenic – Including Hand of Man (meaning man-made items are in the photo) category:

Fisherman's Craft, Ghana

Fisherman’s Craft, Ghana

Entered into Amateur photography in the Action category:

Simple Play, Ghana Orphanage

Simple Play, Ghana Orphanage

Entered into Amateur photography in the Human Interest category:

Footsteps to Nzulezo

Footsteps to Nzulezo

Pretty cool, eh? The third one, “Footsteps to Nzulezo,” is one that I chose purely because my friends and family ranked it high among their favorites. I don’t think I ever would’ve put it in my own top three picks. Now, remember – the point of entering these photos into the State Fair was not to win; it was to have the experience of entering something.

Our tickets for the Utah State Fair!

Our tickets for the Utah State Fair!

So yesterday, a group of friends joined me to visit the Utah State Fair. We started, of course, with the photography exhibit. As we worked our way through the photos, we spotted the photos that Bridgette and I had entered. It was so fun to see my photos on the boards with my name! Having never been very involved in art or photography, I guess I underestimated the satisfaction of seeing my work on display. It was also really neat to see everybody else’s photos – lots of talent!

The results (drumroll, please)!

Fisherman's Craft, Ghana - on display at the fair!

Fisherman’s Craft, Ghana – on display at the fair!

Simply Play, Ghana Orphanage - with a Fourth Place ribbon! I was so excited!

Simply Play, Ghana Orphanage – with a Fourth Place ribbon! I was so excited!

Looky! Fourth place!

Looky! Fourth place!

And finally…

That's right, folks - a BLUE ribbon for Footsteps to Nzulezo!

That’s right, folks – a BLUE ribbon for Footsteps to Nzulezo!

SO SO SO excited!!!

SO SO SO excited!!!

Here it is! I think there is prize money with this, too, but I honestly didn't even look it up because I didn't think I had any chance of winning :)

Here it is! I think there is prize money with this, too, but I honestly didn’t even look it up because I didn’t think I had any chance of winning 🙂

And look! Bridgette won a ribbon too!

Bridgette with "Pool"

Bridgette with “Pool”

I seriously love this picture. And this friend - for jumping on my bandwagon and entering with me :)

I seriously love this picture. And this friend – for jumping on my bandwagon and entering with me 🙂

Of all my bucket list items, crossing this one off has been one of the most exciting, rewarding, positive experiences I’ve had. Who would’ve thought that I’d win two ribbons on my very first attempt at entering a photography contest? Or a state fair, for that matter? I seriously would’ve been satisfied and excited just to see my photos on display – for the experience of it. But I’m certainly not going to turn down a blue ribbon 🙂 Plus, we had an awesome evening at the state fair!

 

You can view my bucket list here. To see my blog posts about other bucket list items I’ve crossed off, click Bucket List in the menu in the top right corner.

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Quirks and Confessions

For years I have been telling people that I get quirkier the longer they know me – and it’s true. I have strange quirks and unusual backstories that make for interesting topics when they randomly come up in conversation. I have compiled a short list of some of my favorites, all of which I am more than happy to laugh about. So here you go – 12 confessions and quirks from my life story. Enjoy!

1. The hidden talent
I have a talent for falling asleep anywhere. I’ve slept in nearly every building on my university campus, in cars, buses, and boats, on couches and hard chairs and stools, in libraries and in crowded airports. The most impressive feat was falling asleep while playing my trombone.

2. The inexperienced chef
It took at least three–and as many as five–tries before I correctly cooked macaroni and cheese. For the record, drain the water before adding the cheese powder. It works better that way, and you won’t spend the next 1/2 hour grating real cheddar cheese…

3. The hopeful innocence
I didn’t know reindeer were real animals until I was about 21. No, seriously. When my childhood hopes and dreams of magical people were dashed, they took reindeer with them. And then I saw one.

4. The OCD tendencies #1
I fold all of my candy wrappers before throwing them away. This is an extra strange quirk because it seems to rub off on people who spend a lot of time with me. Why several different people would pick up that one OCD habit when they have about 20 to choose from is beyond me…

5. The OCD tendencies #2
I have to wear earrings every single day. If I don’t, I am constantly aware of my naked earlobes (not embarrassed by them, but just a little distracted and annoyed). I remember calling my roommate once because I was on my way to campus for the day and realized I hadn’t put earrings in. She brought a pair to me so that I wouldn’t have to be aware of my lack of earrings all day. Had she not been available, I likely would have bought some at the Bookstore.

6. The drowning rat
I’m a terrible swimmer. I had a recent conversation with a friend of mine that went something like this:
Me: “I almost drowned in a wave pool once.”
Friend: “Really? How old were you?”
Me: “About…24.”
But the important part is that I haven’t drowned. Yet.

7. The naivete
I’ve never seen Inception, Rocky, The Dark Knight Rises, Jaws, any R-rated movie (Braveheart, The Godfather, Matrix, Schindler’s List…), and a host of other you-haven’t-lived-until-you’ve-seen-this type of movies. If half the world quotes it regularly, chances are, I’m out of the loop. My friends often give me the all-too-familiar look that asks, “Have you been living under a rock?” Conversely, I have seen just about every Disney movie under the sun.

8. The nickname
My college roommates from my freshman year all lovingly call me “Fat Katie.” It stems from a silly moment when my books and papers were taking up the entire couch (hooray for research papers)…but the name stuck. The friend who still frequently uses it has actually shortened the nickname to just “Fat.” And yes, I will answer to it.

9. The propensity for addiction
I’m avoiding Pinterest and Dr. Who like the plague because I know they will suck my life away. (And you’re suddenly realizing how much they’ve sucked your life away. Admit it.)

10. The fantasy nerd
I have a strange fascination for mythical creatures. My life history is littered with youth fiction fantasy novels and TV episodes of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Wizards of Waverly Place. The fascination (combined with a love of bats) earned me the nickname “Gothic Mormon” once, which is hilarious because I’m not gothic at all – I’m not even cool enough to shorten it to “goth” without feeling a tiny bit out of line.

11. The stubborn personality
It took five separate boating trips before I got up on waterskis for the first time. I never know if I should be embarrassed that I didn’t pick it up sooner, or proud of myself for persevering. Call it an innate stubbornness if you’d like – but it occasionally has its uses for things like learning awesome new skills 🙂

12. The predictably clumsy one
I broke two toes on my left foot by walking into a cinder block. Twice. The fateful incident happened about 30 seconds after saying, “I’m going to break a toe on that.”

 

Charles M. Schultz (creator of Peanuts) said, “If I were given the opportunity to present a gift to the next generation, it would be the ability for each individual to learn to laugh at himself.”

What quirks and confessions do you have? Can you laugh about them?

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