30 Day Challenge

When I was home this weekend, my mom and I were talking about happiness.

Happiness seems like something that you should  achieve naturally. It seems like it should be this euphoric state that comes over you without a conscious effort to make it happen. Because if it were something that you were working towards, it would feel too forced to be true happiness. However, we both decided that this isn’t the way things work.

We were saying how happiness isn’t something that just happens; you need to take steps to find it and achieve it. You need to put yourself out there and figure out what will make you happy and then do it. It requires work, which can seem counterintuitive.

One of the things I miss most about swimming is the concept of being part of team and having goals that you work to achieve together. Having people hold you accountable for your actions and contributions to those goals can lead to incredible things. It may sound cliché, but we can achieve so much more together than we could as individuals. So, this weekend, we decided that together, we were going to take steps together to help us continue to find happiness in our lives.

After being Freshly Pressed last week, I had to opportunity to read a lot of blogs from folks who left comments on my post. One blogger wrote a post on her blog, “A Bit Of Everything” that featured a TED talk about 30 day challenges:

After watching it, my mom and I knew this was something we wanted to try. There are so many little things that we have always wanted to do, but for some reason or other, have never done. The 30 day challenge packages these things in a way that seem manageable and somewhat fun. After inviting Abby into the fun, we decided to start a blog  so that we could document our shared experiences (sorry, it is private – my mom isn’t ready for the fame that comes from a public blog just yet).

So with our newly minted blog, we have set out on our first challenge: take a picture every day for the next 30 days and post it to our site.

Our first 30 day challenge is not earth-shattering. It will not change our lives. But it will allow us to share and appreciate a small piece  of each other’s daily lives. And while it may not be awe-inspiring photography, I believe we will at least capture a few moments and memories that we may have otherwise missed.

Onward to happiness!

Cold Turkey

I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that our wedding is over. Believe me, I am not happy about it, but I am beginning to accept it. Sadly, this means that my days of following Wedding Blogs is probably coming to an end. I do still enjoy reading these blogs and seeing the creative ideas, however, these posts make me sad that my wedding is over and I even felt a tiny bit of regret when I read about a cool idea that I didn’t get to incorporate. Our wedding was unbelievable (we had a rainbow AND heat lightning) so I don’t want to start focusing on the things that we didn’t do.

We were able to do so much because of the support from both of our parents and I want to remained focused on that. So I am going cold turkey – no more wedding blogs.

So that means that I need to find new blogs to fill my days with. I have visited a lot recently as I have been researching new cookies recipes. It is unbelievable how many other blogs there are out there sending posts off into cyber space hoping that someone reads something that captivates, inspires or entertains.

Here are some contenders:

Becky Bakes
How can I not love the blog that bought me Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies? So many food blogs focus on super healthy, organic, vegan recipes. And while I am certainly a believer in healthy eating, I love the tag line “life is uncertain, eat dessert first.”

With Style & Grace
Inspiration for the kitchen, planning a party or making a DIY holiday present. This blog has it all for the modern day Martha Stewart.

The Organizing Junkie
Is it possible – have I found someone who likes to organize more than me. Umm, yes!

So while I close the chapter in my life on weddings (at least until Abby or Courtney decide to get married!) I am trying to fill that void. Let me know if you have any suggestions as I continue my quest to find the best blogs.

Don’t Wait.

A roll that I have taken on throughout my life has been “cheerleader.” No, I was certainly not a high school cheerleader who stood along the sidelines at football games and performed dance routines during pep-rallys. My cheerleading was done in a different way.

I made psych up mix tapes for my friends to listen to on the long bus rides to travel swim meets. I purchased thousands of dollars of poster board and markers for “poster making parties.” I cut yards of ribbon out for my teammates to wear during soccer games. I designed logos for West field hockey water bottles. I designed and sold car decals for the class of 2001. I created signs to hang on hotel doors for the Ivy league swim meet. I made crimson necklaces, crowns and headbands – because who doesn’t want to wear those at a swim meet. And my shining moment came when I collected hundreds of pictures of my team mates, depicting them swimming at the ages of 5,6 and 7 to create personalized posters with the saying ‘Remember why you swim…” before one of our big meets.

In short, I LOVE to psych people up, including myself. I could spend hours researching inspirational quotes and movie clips. From Miracle to Braveheart, Rudy to Gladiator – I could go on all day. But, I think my sister would agree, that the most inspiration video for us (and probably all swimmers) is the video of the men’s 400 freestyle relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

However, I might have a new favorite. The Director of Development at Robin Hood, Mark Bezos, was invited to give a talk at the TED conference in California a few weeks ago. They invite people to give short talks, palet cleansers, to give inbetween the main presentations. Mark gave us a preview of his talk during our last all-staff meeting, but the video below is from the real thing.

So don’t wait.  Get in the game.  Save the shoes.

Be Robin Hood



Psych Me Up!

On my swim team, we had a thing called “secret psych.” Before meets, we would randomly get assigned another one of our teammates, and we were their secret psych. We would put together goody bags that contained power bars, Gatorade, green and gold nail polish, and if you were a good secret psych, a mix tape. These tapes contained various “Jock Jams” tracks like We are the Champions, Another One Bites the Dust, or Whoomp, There It Is!

One of my favorite presents was a mixed tape that Abby made me before my high school state meet sophomore year. This was the first year that Abby was away at college, and I missed having her around, particularly on the pool deck. Going to college in Ohio, Abby was introduced to a new genre of music: country. This tape was my first introduction to the Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw. Weird for a psych up mix, but it worked.

In college, we progressed from mix tapes to mix CDs. Before the Ivy Championships, we would make a team CD that had one song from each of the girls (an idea I stole from Abby’s experience at Kenyon). It was always interesting to see the range of songs that girls considered “inspirational.” You were always guaranteed to be introduced to at least one new song. Now whenever I hear “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, I always think of my college swim team (I know, we were so ghetto!)

In college, because I was swimming 20+ hours a week already, I didn’t go to the gym, like many college students. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much though because the gym at school wasn’t very impressive. It was old and there weren’t any tvs to keep you occupied while you ran on the treadmill or used the elliptical. If I did hit up the gym, I would need an awesome iPod playlist or something to read. Needless to say, my workouts never lasted much longer than 30 minutes.

During my senior year, they opened a new gym at the law school, that had cardio machines, each with their own tvs. I am embarrassed to say that second semester senior year, I spent more time working out than going out. I hadn’t developed an obsession with working out, nor was I training for anything in particular. The reason for my two to three hour-long elliptical obsessions was MTV. I didn’t have cable in my dorm room, so I would spend hours working out just so that I could watch “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”

After college, I moved home for a little. During that time I got a job at a hospital and in the basement, there was a small workout room that had one small tv, that was cable ready. Again, my addiction to MTV fueled my working out. I would go down into the room every Monday at 8pm and run on the treadmill for 60 minutes… the entirety of Laguna Beach. I thank LC, Lo, Stephen and Kristin for my great physical fitness that year.

I am happy to say that I am nearly over my MTV obsession. Now when I work out, I mostly watch the food network. I am not sure that is much better though. Now when I come upstairs from the gym, I am starving and saying stupid Rachel Ray phrases like “Yummo” and “Delish.”

So whether it is Jock Jams or the Barefoot Contessa, I am happy to have some motivation in my life. Now I just need to find someone to be my secret psych and give me goody bags before I go to work!