This race is in its final lap around the track, and I see this last chapter coming to an end. If you were to ask anyone how I felt going into my senior year of undergrad, they would tell you I was not looking forward to beginning another year in August. I was perfectly content having summer never end and my senior year never arrive. Aside from wanting to see my friends again and participating in a few big things that were planned for the year, I was in no hurry for the school year to begin.
Of course, it did, and I am happy now looking back at the year I have had. I was not so much concerned about the classes I needed to take this year to graduate or even my responsibilities in and out of school. I simply did not want this chapter to end, and in theory, if it could not start it, therefore, would not be able to end. For a moment in my thoughts, I had reverted to kid logic. But once the academic year officially began, I started feeling better about this whole growing up and facing reality part of life.
It has been incredible to see how my journey has transpired through the few years at The University of Toledo. I am proud of the connections I have made and the accomplishments I have reached. I worked so hard to get to this point in my education. Making big decisions like what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and what school would best get me to a career I wanted is a daunting task for a high schooler, so to be three years out from making those decisions, I am happy with myself and the thought process I had. Trust me; it could have gone either way. Because face it, really what does a teenager know what they truly want in life?!
Opportunities came knocking, and I gladly opened the door. I had no idea what attending UT would have for me. Between meeting some of the most amazing friends I could have asked for to traveling and presenting research at a national convention, I think it is safe to say my lack of expectations were far exceeded. As I scrolled through my social media posts and the endless photo reel of memories, I can say that I have been nothing but blessed. I see so much happiness and excitement in those captured moments. Sure, there were also some times when I was sobbing uncontrollably over the stresses of a class or that there was not enough time in a day, but no one needed to take or see pictures of those less than flattering moments.
It has been a remarkable leg of my race in life and looking back, I am so happy I chose to take the path I did. I am in the homestretch of this part of my life, and come Graduation Day, I will take my last steps as an undergrad student to cross the finish line into the next chapter.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2018
We are hardly a week into the new year. And just like the other millions of people on this planet, I am thinking about how I want to spend my time in the new year and how to delegate my goals, plans, and thoughts. I am a reflective person by nature, but I think that feeling of needing to get in tune with myself magnifies this time of year.
I found myself thinking about where I began discovering who I am. I was reminded of the mantra many of us lived by during high school. “Dream. Dare. Do.” There is no denying that I am a dreamer at heart. I may not be daring by definition, but I have gotten out of a few comfort zones. This brings me to do. It is such a small word, but its impact can be huge. As I scrolled mindlessly through Facebook this week, I saw a post from a new friend I met through traveling to California. She posed the question, “what is your personal word of the year?” This was the motivation I needed to adopt do as my theme for the year.
As a partner post to this one, she also invited her fellow Facebook friends to join her in making a vision board. I am not the craftiest person, but I loved this idea and decided to run with it. I know some people go all out for these, and I wish I were that kind of person, but I am not. I tackled this project the only way I know how to: with words. And, so my reflection continued.
I thought about words that meant something to me. I wanted to embody themes for the year that I could stay true to and show achievement in some aspect. Pinterest is often my partner in crime, and I was on a mission to match quotes to serve as a reminder each day to have these themes I chose for myself in the forefront of my thoughts and actions.
Do. “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
This is where it all begins. I want to be able to look back on 2018 and be able to list off the things I did, and not just have a list of things I should have, could have, and would have done if all of the conditions were perfect. Excuses stand in the way of so many things. I am not willing to let excuses stand between me and achievements.
New Chapter. “What feels like the end is often the beginning.”
With graduation around the corner, I am thinking about the next step. As one chapter of life receives its conclusion, I am eager to begin writing my next chapter.
Apprehension. “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
I am not scared about the next chapter, but I do have my reservations about the magnitude of its importance. I know the only way to get through it is to face it head on, and that is what I will do. Going into any new situation has my thoughts racing, so I think I still have some work to overcome those apprehensions of tackling new beginnings.
Dedication. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
I would like to think that I have a good amount of dedication. I stick to my commitments and enjoy the process of seeing a project through to the end. Having dedication as a character trait speaks volumes about a person, and I hope to grow my dedication in all areas of my life further.
Empower. “Be a voice, not an echo.”
More than ever, I know empowerment needs to be on the playing field of this world. Having a voice is essential, and even if mine is physically absent at times, I must dig deep to use it through creative means. No matter what it takes, I will use my voice to spark change.
Mindfulness. “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
Being mindful of what is going on may seem like a no-brainer, but is it? I may know what is going on, but I may not always be thinking about its implications on my life or the greater good of society. I hope to be more aware of the world around me and the contributions I am able to make.
Opportunity. “Don’t wait for opportunity. Create it.”
I am eyeing some new opportunities. I am not quite ready to explicitly share them, but by hinting towards them will keep me accountable to follow through and make sure it happens. Sometimes, all it takes is a little leap and a lot of faith. Here it goes!
Ordinary. “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”
I live a relatively ordinary life, and that is exactly the way I like it. There is nothing fancy about my little farm-town life. It keeps me grounded, so in that ordinary life I lead, it is important to make something of it.
Excitement. “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen it before.”
When I look at the day like this, it puts into perspective how exciting it is to live a day new. No one else has lived it before me, and I get to navigate through life with clear eyes and an open mind. It is so exciting to face a new day with a clean slate and see it play out moment by moment.
Career. “Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.”
Even though I have not officially started my career, everything I do between now and then will lead me to that dream job at some point. I need to take on the challenges each day, make progress, and feel good about what was done. And if I do not feel right about what happened on any given day, I must make a mental note of how to learn from the experience and know how to do things differently until I am content with the results of my actions.
My vision board would not be complete without my favorite Bible verse. Matthew 5:16 reads, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I have loved this verse, and I think it will serve as a sharp reminder to keep me accountable for my actions and the reasoning behind them to serve my community with a humble heart.
The last few things I included on my vision board for 2018 are the words, grad, UT, SLP, and friend. The first three are a bundle. They all resemble the milestone I will reach this year, and symbolize the transition from my undergraduate education to my graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology. Last by not least, I included the word friend to always have in mind that I need to be there for my friends as they have been there for me. I am challenging myself to be a better friend and further developing my friendships with the people I have grown to love over the past years.
My vision board may not be fancy, but it resembles the things most important to me. I loved the time of reflection I set aside to work on this, and I found it valuable. It is one thing to say all of these things to myself at the start of a new year, but it is another to have it in writing and tangible object to look at. I am hopeful that 2018 is my year for something; it does not have to be big, but it needs to be meaningful. May 2018 be the year of action.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2018
The holidays are full of the hustle and bustle. I look forward to the break that comes with them, but the frantic shoppers and increase of drivers on the road sometimes make we wish that we were the kind of people who booked a cruise and set out to someplace tropical for the holidays. Since we are not those people, we planned for Christmas to be at our house and a quiet New Year’s Eve at home.
This was only the third Christmas I have spent at my house, and the first one does not count, considering I was four-days-old. In the weeks leading up the Christmas, I put up our Christmas trees and drug out my collection of holiday Barbie ornaments. I have one for every Christmas. Christmas was upon us, and the house was decked out with holiday cheer and the music in full swing.
The week before Christmas was filled with baking, shopping, prepping, and oh, celebrating my birthday. I made seven-and-a-half dozen of my favorite chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and was brave enough to make something I had never made before too. Who can say no to cheese pie and cookies?
After prepping for Christmas, the day came, and we were all up early to pull together the meal. My dad was in charge of the ham and turkey, while my mom and I chopped vegetables for dinner and of course, the relish tray. I argue that the relish tray is the star of Christmas, but I think some will differ on that one.
Our family arrived early to snack on the pre-dinner buffet of goodies and exchange gifts. It is always fun to just sit around and catch up since seeing each other last time. It was a good time together, and the evening continued into dinner. We had to bring in a bigger table and use mismatched chairs to accommodate nine people, but we managed. After we all sat down and started eating, the room fell silent, so the food must have been good.
Round three of eating consisted of sweets. Ranging from cookies to fruitcake to fudge, we finished the night on a sugar high. Although I was ready for a nap right about then, we gathered back around the tree to talk and relax before departing and calling Christmas complete.
Our holidays are not glamorous. We keep them small and simple, but that is just the way we like it. Spending time together means more than a glitzy day. Being at home with friends and family is the best, and the food is not half bad either. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We sure did, and I am looking forward to ringing in the new year next! May everyone have a holiday season that is merry and bright.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
Time is flying. It feels like just yesterday I was pulling out of my driveway for the first day of school this year. The semester just finished, and I had some crazy experiences. But, it went really well aside from that. I am in the homestretch of my undergraduate career. It is such a relief to have a short list of classes I still need to take. I am sitting in a great position to sail right into graduation this spring.
The semester started out just as every other semester starts off. A mundane syllabus day and a slow start to getting projects and assignments. But let me tell you, when they start coming, they do not stop coming. They all seemed to happen at the same time. I sure got my money’s worth out of the laminator I have.
The crazy stuff started happening right after midterms and after Fall Break. One of my professors was let go from the position, and my class for Sign Language was integrated into an existing class of Sign Language. Talk about culture shock. My original class was already behind, so we had some catching up to do. We managed, and I know the basics, but I do not see me ever holding lengthy conversations in Sign Language.
I had another professor have an emergency, so that class got a new instructor about three weeks before the end of the semester. That transition occurred almost seamlessly. All I had to do was survive a group project and presentation. A piece of cake!
My Speech-Language Pathology classes were fun. They hardly feel like work because I love the field so much. I greatly enjoyed the observation hours I had to collect. So while I did not particularly have twenty-five extra hours to sit in a room and watch therapy sessions, I found the experience valuable and time I will not forget.
Compared to last year and the ups and downs that I had, this semester was a complete one-eighty. I earned a 4.0 and did not get sick. That bit about not getting sick may not seem like much, but for anyone who knew the hot mess I was last year will know that was a huge accomplishment. It is the small things that matter, right?
On the first day of class in one of my classes, we had a time of reflection. Now, you may be thinking that seems odd to do on the first day of class. I thought “where in the world was this going?” Granted, it was a counseling class, but still, I was not about to be reflective and spill my guts with people I did not know. I was happy to find out that it would be contained to me and a piece of paper. This, I could handle. So, I went about my reflecting and wrote a letter to my future self. It went a little something like this:
Writing this letter to myself was valuable. It opened the doors to reflect on who I wanted to be this year. Had I been given more than ten minutes to throw this together, I probably could have been just a tad bit more insightful, but these were the first things that came to mind. I think it sums up the bigger picture well, and I would like to think I have stuck close to what I had envisioned for my year leading up to graduation. I still have a semester left, so I just keep telling myself and my friends, “whoa, whoa, we’re halfway there.”
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
Steal Like An Artist
“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.” Mark Twain
Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Get Started
“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.” Conan O’Brien
Write The Book You Want To Read
“Do the work you want to see done.” Austin Kleon
Use Your Hands
“Art that only comes from the head isn’t any good.” Austin Kleon
Side Projects And Hobbies Are Important
“Don’t worry about unity from piece to piece—what unifies all of your work is the fact that you made it.” Austin Kleon
The Secret: Do Good Work And Share It With People
“You don’t put yourself online only because you have something to say—you can put yourself online to find something to say.” Austin Kleon
Geography Is No Longer Our Master
“Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.” Austin Kleon
Be Nice (The World Is A Small Town)
“There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.” Kurt Vonnegut
Be Boring (It’s The Only Way To Get Work Done)
“The worst thing a day job does is take time away from you, but it makes up for that by giving you a daily routine in which you can schedule a regular time for your creative pursuits.” Austin Kleon
Creativity Is Subtraction
“It may seem contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.” Austin Kleon
Steal Like An Artist gave me much to think about regarding my creative efforts. I thrive on thought-provoking quotes that have deep meaning, and this book is full of them. This is not a book I will soon forget about, and I hope it sparks some inspiration in all of us to get our creative gears moving. I could not put a closing seal on this series without bringing attention to the rest of the highlights because they were too good to leave out.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
Another Thanksgiving is in the books. Just like past years, I have so much to be thankful for, and a day of celebration is simply not enough to cover all of the many blessings I have. I spent the day with my family and friends, and we capped off the day with some of us going to the movies. We may not have a conventional holiday tradition, but it works for us.
The first thing I was thankful for was getting to sleep in on a weekday. You have no idea how good that feels after the hustle of a work week. A leisure morning at home was the perfect start to our holiday celebrations. And because of that late start to the morning, I missed out on the televised parades, but there is always the Rose Parade, so I will try again then.
We met our reservations for a late Thanksgiving lunch at a restaurant owned by some dear friends. If you are ever in need of a fine-dining experience, The Mango Tree in Toledo, Ohio is the place for you. Although it was great to spend the meal with my family, it was great to be with some friends too. I would insert a picture of the delicious food right about now, but it was scarfed down before I had the chance to think about it. So, believe me when I say it was amazing, and it sure beat us cooking for the occasion.
We enjoyed each other’s company as we ate beyond our limits, but good thing I had my stretchy pants on. Come on, you know we all have them and have no shame in wearing them on Thanksgiving. While everyone ordered the turkey special like normal people would on Thanksgiving, I strayed from the norm and had one of my favorite chicken dishes on the menu. I did not feel bad for one second for not sticking to the status quo.
Just about the time our food coma was setting in, the pumpkin pie rolled out. My self-control flew out the window at that point, and what was a couple more bites going to do? Life is too short not to eat the pie.
At the close of dinner, we decided it was time to enforce phase two of our Thanksgiving Day tradition. For those of us who still had some get-up-and-go, we headed to the movies. This year, we saw Wonder, and it did not disappoint. That is a movie that all families should take the time to see. Seeing a movie after Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect way to end the festivities.
It was time to settle in after a long day of eating, but the night could not end without a little retail therapy. Before I get the lecture about shopping on a holiday, rest assured that it was online. I was not about to fight those crowds and crazy deal hunters to risk my sanity going Black Friday shopping. No, thank you! I will take my cyber deals any day over hitting the stores.
I hope everyone had a fabulous day celebrating the many blessings we all have. I had a relaxed day with my family and friends, and at the end of the day, that is all that matters. The food and movie were just bonuses. I enjoyed every second of this Thanksgiving holiday, and I will always have the memory locked in this edition of a Thanksgiving lookbook.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
I think by now, it is obvious that I love traveling. And, over the years, I have mastered the art of packing. I have learned from experience, stolen tips from people I have traveled with, and have scoured Pinterest for packing hacks. Nothing about this is revolutionary, but these things work well for me and my traveling needs. While I cannot say that I love packing in only a carry-on bag, I can say it is the most practical and cost-effective when it comes to flying domestically and for a relatively short trip. These packing tips are brought to you by an upcoming trip to California that is mostly for business with a small side of fun. What?! It would be impossible not to have some fun when you put six girls together in a new city! So, these are my must-haves, space-saving tricks, and the key to carry-on packing.
1. Airlines can have some funky rules when it comes to size restrictions, definitions of carry-bag bags, and weight limits. I will be flying American Airlines, and lucky for me, they allow the smallest of a standard three-piece luggage set with no weight limit. For those who like traveling with a duffel bag for luggage, I highly suggest the Vera Bradley Weekender bag. When in doubt, check out the parameters required by the airline you will be flying with. As far as locks go, I say they are a no-go. Even if they are TSA approved, it is better to travel without them. Pack them for when your luggage is sitting in an unattended hotel room.
2. The dreaded liquid restriction has forced me to get creative. The 3-1-1 rule means each container has to be 3.4 liquid ounces (or less) in a clear quart-sized bag, and each flyer is limited to carrying only one. In attempts to prevent a leaky mess, I like using a freezer Ziplock bag. The extra thickness of the plastic gives me relief in thinking my chances of potential leaks are not oozing all over in my bag. I never realized how many liquids I use on a daily basis until I have to pare down to fly. I have estimated that the travel-sized shower necessities last about week, so I will be set with just taking one of each, with the exception of conditioner. Since I use such a little amount, it would be a waste of space to take a full bottle, so to give my liquids bag a little extra room, I will be using a contact case and filling both sides with conditioner. This same trick can be used for liquid foundation, eye cream, or just about anything that you know for sure an entire bottle will go unused. I save the contact cases that come with contact solution for this purpose. To make going through security a breeze, put this bag in a place that can be accessed easily. It will have to be taken out for the x-ray check.
3. A caveat to the liquids restriction is that no aerosol cans are allowed, except for hairspray and mousse. The containers still have to be 3.4 liquid ounces or less and fit in the one-quart bag. I traveled once with liquid hairspray and did not like the product in that form. I asked to borrow someone’s hairspray and realized at that point they managed to bring an aerosol form in a carry-on. I have since confirmed this with the TSA list of restrictions and exceptions.
4. When it comes to packing a razor, the thing to know when packing in a carry-on it has to be considered disposable. Meaning, the whole razor can be a throw-away or an interchangeable cartridge with a reusable handle will be approved. Razors that have blades that are placed in one-by-one and screwed in place are not allowed in a carry-on bag. The razor should also have a blade cover when traveling. TSA will thank you!
5. Making strategic decisions in wardrobe choices are key when it comes to ensuring a comfortable week on the go. If there is downfall to my packing strategies, this could be considered a weak area, but there is a method to my madness. I always pack more clothes than I really need, but I can afford this because of my frugalness in other areas of packing. I make sure to travel with clothes that have minimal wrinkling, are lightweight, and not bulky. Packing cubes make this process of keeping clothes neat and tidy in a suitcase super easy. I love my set, and it maximizes limited space by compartmentalizing a suitcase into an organized dream. I am taking business attire for the day and casual/comfy clothes for when we go out for dinner and try to take in as much as we can of Los Angeles on such a time restriction. No one likes ironing, especially while on vacation, so to try to combat this, I am going to pack the day before I leave and pack a few hangers for the hotel to keep fold lines from setting in my clothes.
6. Be smart when it comes to choosing what you will be taking as a personal item if your airline allows additional baggage. I need to be hands free as much as possible, so for this trip, I will be taking a backpack. I also need to take my laptop to work on school assignments on the plane, and this offers the most efficient way of getting my school work and the overflow of travel necessities to my destination. A backpack is not the safest thing to carry because it is easy to neglect being aware of who may be around, but try to be conscious of that and do not put any valuable things or forms of identity in easily-accessible pockets. Obviously, this backpack will not be suited to switch into being used as my purse on this trip. I will be packing a tote purse that will pack flat. Whenever you are allowed a bigger personal item, I think it is beneficial to utilize that extra space.
7. Be realistic with what you think you will use and what you actually will use. Leading up to packing and leaving on this trip, I have played around with what makeup I want to take and what will best serve me for multiple outfits. Thinking about neutrals and classic palettes is going to bring the most bang for their justification of packing and the number of outfits a palette can accommodate. The same thing goes with my hair routine. I already know the hotel does not have a hair dryer (I was shocked!), but I know I have to plan to take a hairdryer I was not originally anticipating it to take up valuable space. Because of this, I am limiting my other hair appliances. I am not going to admit how long I have been stewing on my outfits for this trip. At first, I was all over the place, but then I honed into realizing how many pairs of shoes my first plan of attack was going to require. I quickly changed my strategy and decided to keep within outfits that could either be worn with nude or black shoes. This all ties back to making a minimalistic makeup bag work with each outfit and not feel like I have to take certain products for a single outfit. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me, you want to think about how you need to plan your look from head to toe for each day of the trip.
8. To make the most of every inch of whatever luggage you decide to take, keep similar things together in various containers. It will make locating parts of an outfit easier, and it will not mess up the overall organization. My container of choice is packing cubes/pods. Stick with typically-shaped containers to avoid bulky things taking up unnecessary space. A makeup bag should not be some frilly bag with a weird shape. No one cares how cute these containers are; being practical takes top priority.
9. Another thing I like to do is put each shoe in a twist-tie bag. This serves a two-fold purpose. The bag keeps the rest of my suitcase and its contents clean, and this allows me to stick shoes where they fit and not necessarily together. I use the shoes to keep packing as even as possible.
10. My last tip is up for debate. There are two kinds of people in this world: rollers and folders. I have heard people defend both, but I am on team folders. I can see using this technique when backpacking, but as for me and my carry-on strategy, folding will be my go-to method. As long as I have my packing cubes, folding makes the most sense for the way I like to pack and plan.
My goal for this upcoming trip is to stay organized, pack minimally, and make it through security as smoothly as possible. I am eager to pack and put my tips to the test again. Each packing experience is different because every trip is different. In the past, these are the things that have helped me the most, and I hope they help you too. So, the next time you are thinking about checking a bag and paying the extra costs, consider downsizing. Just remember to keep calm and carry-on, literally.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
It seems surreal that I am turning the pages and coming upon its final chapter in this book of a life series of mine. I have a conflicted nostalgic feeling in my heart, but I know big things are going to happen—good things are going to happen. But, at the same time, I wish I could make time stand still and savor the moments a little longer. At this point in life, I am reminded of all the events that got me to this place. I feel like I should still be that fifteen-year-old sitting in my first college class, but I am not that same girl anymore. I am now a twenty-one-year-old who has far exceeded my personal expectations I set for myself, broken down barriers, and not settled for anything less. I have found my voice. I have found my niche. I have found my passion. My college career towards an undergraduate degree will soon come to a close, and as much as that excites me, it scares me all the same.
Change is a good thing, but no one ever likes to admit it. Since choosing the path I chose for high school, my life seemed to snowball into a rapid and ever-changing continuum. One would think, I would be comfortable with the changing phases of life and welcome them with open arms, but this is where my sentimental side shines through and overtakes my thoughts. So many changes happened all at once the year I graduated from high school and community college. Two significant milestones came and went in the blink of an eye, and I had to say goodbye after five years to the people and place I grew to love. This is only the beginning of life changes, so I guess I had better get used to this feeling.
I was not sure I could love an institution as much as I loved Monroe County Community College, but The University of Toledo has made its way into my heart. As I begin my third year, I cannot help but feel emotional about another graduation year beginning. I have made wonderful friends who are the reason I was even able to muster the strength to push through last year’s highs and lows. My advisors cheered me on when the tough got going, and the going got tough. My parents listened to my rants and were there to wipe away my uncontrollable tears when I could not take it anymore. For as many times as I wished the years would just hurry up and go by and fast forward to graduation day, I wish for nothing more than to genuinely enjoy the coming school year so that I can truly appreciate all that has come from my years at The University of Toledo.
While most of my apprehensions and tears derived from the stress of studying and questioning if I would be good enough in the field I wanted to pursue, now, I shed a tear for a different reason. I shed a tear for the memories that will lie in the time capsule and forever remain in the past. I will move forward, looking back on this final chapter of undergrad and cherish the good times and learn from the lessons of the hard times. This is honestly a happy time to celebrate an accomplishment, and I am happy. It proves that I can push through no matter the obstacles that tried to stand in my way and still come out on top.
When this school year concludes, a ceremony with thousands of students will take place to grant us into the next phase of life officially. For me, this sets another stepping stone on my journey to chasing my dreams. A new layer of foundation will be laid in my education, and I will embark on a new chapter in a new book. My undergraduate experience has brought more to me than I ever imagined it would. My memory reel is full of time spent with new friends and gaining such a passion for my field of study. I have ventured to conferences with friends, and in efforts to celebrate the slightest of achievements to the biggest and best things to celebrate, we have come up with any reason to go on food runs. We studied together, we laughed together, and we grew together. I gained ownership of my field. I aspired to be like my professors one day. I realized there is a place for me to do the job I want to do for the rest of my life.
In the rat race of life, I am keeping my eye on the prize. I have come too far to let anything come between me and my Bachelor’s degree. While there are not exact winners and losers in life, I think we should still be training for the race we are all running at the current time. It does not matter the time it takes us to run it, nor should we compare the training strategies from one person to the next. What does matter is that we finish. And when this race ends, I will begin a new one. My goals regarding my education are coming together, but not quite over yet. I am bound and determined to make this last year count. I am rounding the last bend with a clear mind, hopeful outlook, and a champion’s heart. As for me and this chapter of life, the finish line awaits.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
The few times in my life when I get gutsy are the times in life when I wonder where my common sense goes. I never do anything too stupid, but this particular day tested my athleticism and agility. It was even my idea to go on this adventure, so to my friend’s surprise, I was gung-ho, and off we went (of course while listening to The Beach Boys). We loaded my car and made the drive to Frankenmuth, Michigan, which is not that far, but far enough to make a day of it. I started the day’s adventure with a before picture posted to Facebook with the caption, “a day spent with Jen is a day spent pushing my limits and challenging my better judgment.” I did not know how much of an understatement that was until I met my fate at the Aerial Park.
I really had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. I thought the emphasis would be on zip lines and less on the climbing and obstacle aspect, but I have been wrong before, and this was no different. While Jen had some prior experience at a park like this one, I was hardly even a rookie. Looking at me, one may assume I am athletic, but my joints and flexibility tell a different story. As much as I was looking forward to having a fun day and proving my body wrong, I proceeded with extreme caution.
Safety first! After the business side of signing waivers, we walked over to the station to get harnessed into our climbing gear. From that point, we went to the practice course to get a feel for how the tethers worked and to ensure the harnesses were on properly while we were still near solid ground. I was feeling better about roping myself into this day, literally and figuratively.
The first obstacle course was relatively easy. I thought it was a challenge, but not anything I could not handle once I got the hang of the pattern. Jen let me go through the courses first, even though I wanted her to go first. I think, deep down, she wanted the chance of a front-row opportunity to laugh at my awkwardness, but she also wanted to make sure I did not get stuck without having some help if I needed it. That is how our friendship works: laugh first, then offer help. It seems backwards, but that is just how we are. We put the fun in dysfunctional, to say the least.
This next obstacle is where I denied listening to my better judgment. While we started on the easiest obstacle, Jen was ready to skip the next level to go the third level of difficulty. I thought, “how hard could it be?” And, up I went. I should have known better and backed myself down to a lower difficulty, but I was already committed. I got about a third of the way through the first maneuver, and I thought I was going to meet my Maker on that one. For what seemed like an eternity, I slowly inched my way through it. Jen talked me through the ropes, and if I would have been with anyone else, I know I would have backed out of doing it. While I caught my breath, and let my heart catch up to my body, Jen made her way through the contraption too; she made it look much easier than I did.
The rest of that obstacle was less strenuous than the opener of the course. This one had a couple more zip lines than the previous one, and that helped me out some. We even took the time to take some pictures along the way on this one. The fun far outweighed my fears and the pain I was feeling. I had just about reached my limit for putting my weak joints through another obstacle course, so I elected to sit out of the most challenging course while Jen conquered it. She totally rocked it.
When our time at the Frankenmuth Aerial Park was over, we returned our harnesses. I was proud of the fact that when I took my gloves off, I had not broken a nail or chipped my fresh polish. That is a victory in my book any day. Phase one of the day was considered mission accomplished. We walked away with smiles on our faces and some gnarly bruises as battle wounds.
With a quick wardrobe change, we were ready to eat lunch. Since we live in an area that does not have a Culver’s and Jen had never been, we decided that was a winner. A burger never tasted so good. Lunch was a good chance to take a break and catch our second wind for the day. We were ready to spend the rest of the day walking around the village of Frankenmuth. I had to stop quick at Bronner’s the Christmas Emporium, and although I have strong feelings about premature Christmas efforts, I was on the hunt for find a bulb to commemorate studying to be a future Speech Language Pathologist. Our time walking in and out of the other shops was short-lived. Jen and I were exhausted, and the achiness began to settle in, and I could tell I was hitting the preverbal wall. The last mission for the day was to get gelato, and it did not disappoint. We earned that sweet treat.
Since I drove up there, Jen earned the right to drive home. That gave me the chance to reflect on the day without the pressure of being engaged with my surroundings. Jen had that all under control. I thought about how I would have never willingly gone to an aerial park a few years ago. My sense of curiosity has grown immensely, and I have the intense desire to quench its cravings. I do not want to give into the limitations I have previously put on myself. I know I have to be careful, and I would not do anything that would mean extreme danger, but an obstacle course constitutes as fun with a side of a healthy challenge. While I am young and halfway able to do these adventurous things, I am going to take these opportunities to make lasting memories with my best friend.
Life is only going to get busier. The chances we will have to get together and do some of these wacky things will become fewer and farther between. I do not want to look back at this time in my life and see the should have, could have, and would have moments. We only have one chance to make memories, and I learned that life is short and we cannot put such tight limitations on ourselves. It seems counterintuitive to jump off of a platform and free fall to the ground, but at that moment, it seemed so natural, and I did not think twice about it. I channeled my inner Elphaba, as I had hummed a certain song to myself all day. I was at a pivotal point in life, standing on the edge between my old self and new, as I took that leap to prove I am capable of being free and open to defying gravity.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017
I have gone all this time pouring my heart out to readers from all over the world, and I recently realized I never properly introduced myself. While some of these fun facts on my list are not of great importance, it may provide a quick snapshot of me in my truest (and maybe quirkiest) form.
Thinking of fifty things about me was more challenging than I thought it would. For those who know me well, you probably already knew most of these, but I may have thrown some surprises in there. Even if you were not wondering about who the writer is behind the blog, it gives a better chance for connection and makes me more relatable. So now you know.
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2017