A Letter to My Workout via GIFS

March 29, 2013

Dear Eternal Optimists:
This post is not for you.

Dear Workout Class Instructor:
No. Just no. I'm not feeling you. And no, I will not "find the burn" and "just give in to the burn and stay there. stay in the pain."

If I wanted to TORTURE MYSELF I would get some whips and chains and handcuffs for my bedroom. That's painful and cardio all at the same time, biatch.

Dear fellow workout classmates:
DO YOU SEE THE FACES YOU'RE MAKING?!?! Why do you insist on inflicting so much pain on yourself??? This is WEIRD. I want to go back to the days where we didn't have to torture ourselves to STAY IN SHAPE. When you just walked everywhere and just the activity of being alive was a workout. How weird is it that we spend an hour every other day(ish) literally TORTURING ourselves and RIPPING our muscles apart...only to go sit down for the rest of the day???? I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS AND I DON'T WANT TO UNDERSTAND THIS.

Dear workout classes:
You should be separated not by experience levels but by bra size. All these girls who don't have to wear any form of sports bra and just prance around in their neon colored twenty-criss crossing-straps-just-for-decoration are really pissing me off.

And this? Not happening. Let me tell you what happens as soon as you bend remotely halfway over to pick up a weight or I don't know, workout...those puppies are gonna fall right out. This picture is filled with lies. 

Dear Missourah:
You try my patience like no other. I do not know what our deal is, but we are not sympatico. Every day I wake up with less and less patience. I lived in a house with 40 other girls for three years in a row and never wanted to cut a bitch run away screaming more than I do from you.

Dear Easter weekend:
You were more fun at college when we camped out in our sorority house, sun bathed on the roof, partied a little too hard, stayed up till 5 am 'watching movies,' and got to see one of our sisters welcomed into the Catholic Church to be followed by the world's greatest Catholic party of wine, appetizers and visiting priests. I miss you.

Dear Michigan:
Miss you too. Good thing we'll be reunited soon.

Dear Mackinac Island:
You've been stuck in my mind lately and I don't mind. I could use your sunshine, bicycles, boardwalks, beaches, fudge, and lakeshore anytime right about now. I think it's time I start recruiting friends to take a trip up there with me this summer....yes? Yes.

Dear spaghetti:
Still planning on making you. Except instead of noodles I'll use bacon and instead of red sauce I'll use cheese sauce.

I Am My City

March 27, 2013

The other day I was reminiscing about my city (this is a common occurrence for me. I am torn between a great love of Grand Rapids and a great love for travelling and trying the new. Some days, my love of Grand Rapids wins out.).  I started talking with a coworker about "home" and what does "home" mean. Is it ever fully possible to make another city your "home"? Or will your heart always have a tendency to draw you back to that first home, because it was there that you learned about yourself, shaped yourself and grew the most. In a way, going "home" is going back to yourself.
This led me to start thinking about how much where you grow up affects who you are. This is obvious on a continental and country level, but I challenge you to think even about the city level. Grand Rapids got in my heart and my blood and my bones and my soul and I couldn't be more blessed. Honestly. If you have to have a city that shapes who you are, count your lucky stars if it's Grand Rapids. From the city itself, I learned how to approach my life, interact with others and hold myself. Here are the ways my city and I are alike:

1. Young
While Grand Rapids has been around since the 1840s, it was only within the last 10 years that we earned our well-deserved spot of the No. 2 largest city in Michigan.

2. Religious
When you drive through the city, you will see office buildings, skyscrapers, art-deco glass buildings, hospitals, schools, clock towers...and steeples. We were founded with a church on every corner, usually one for each ethnic group that moved to Grand Rapids. Instead of destroying that part of our heritage, Grand Rapids built around it. Every building twists and turns and juts out in perfect geometry to allow these churches to continue existing. They are exquisite, and often overlooked. They are the heart beat of our city, and of our people. The city runs around them, but without them--it's people, and then the city, would suffocate.

I spy with my little eye one, two, three steeples...and this is just on one 5 second stretch of highway. I can think of at least 15 steeples off the top of my head that I saw on a regular basis driving through downtown.

3. Charitable
GR has consistently been ranked among the top 10 most philanthropic cities. We celebrate helping our own, and teach it to our children from an early age. Philanthropy is everywhere.

4. Adventurous
GR is always trying new things. New festivals, new markets, new community initiatives. We're a young city, and we use that to fuel our desire to try new things.

Lantern lighting as a city. Beautiful.
5. Growing
Like me, GR is growing. It has its hiccups, it has its moments, its debates, its wandering...but still it grows.

6. Quirky
GR is composed of a number of different "neighborhoods." East town, Heritage Hill, Downtown, Medical District, Finance District, Gaslight Village, Homeless Row, Ghetto. They're all these very distinct parts, with different people, businesses and restaurants marking them as their own. You can travel to one and get a gyro in the back of an Arabic convenience store that only sells imported Arabic foods, to a preppy, pretentious, Yacht Club neighborhood in ten minutes. There are silent lines. Distinct, but complete. Because at the end, we're all part of this great city. I think that this is similar to the way I am filled with quirks and juxtapositions. I'm smart, but funny. Love books, but also the Kardashians. Could be happy in the city, happy in the country. Introvert, extrovert. It goes on and on.

7. Unapologetic
But even with all its different neighborhoods, GR never apologizes. It never apologizes for putting homeless row behind the bankers. Or the chic bars and nightclubs right next to the churches. It never apologizes for being new and growing. It is what it is. And from that, I've learned to stand proud and be unapologetic (except when necessary, obvi) as well.

My city is vibrant, hopeful, charitable, eclectic and growing. And so am I.

  Simple Bliss  Helene in Between

I'm a Tree Fairy!

March 25, 2013

The other day, I was sitting on my ass couch watching TV when a commercial with the typical adorable child came on. Instantly, I started bemoaning "childhood is wasted on children. wouldn't it be great to be a child again...just for one day?" I thought of all the things I would do as a child again for just one day: not pay bills, not complain about whatever my mom cooked for dinner--just be grateful I wasn't cooking it, get a bunch of hugs, spend all day outside just playing. Remember when we were kids and we just went outside without having anything to do? As an adult, I feel like I can't really go outside without something to do. I need to be playing a specific game, taking a specific walk, or reading a specific book. But when I was a kid I would just go outside without any specific activity in mind most times...but four hours later I was dirty, tired, happy and content.

This weekend, winter visited Missouri.

I enjoyed laying on my couch for hours...but around 4 o'clock I wanted to start ramming my head against the wall. I caught myself whining "I can't even go to my gym classes because there's so much snow. Ugh." And then I saw my neighbors outside, building a snowman. My roommate thought they were crazy and I thought they were brilliant. They wanted to be outside, so they did. I wanted to be outside, so I did. At first, I took a walk. But that can only last so long. And then...I spied it. We had already had one tree fall, and my roommate and I were waiting for others to snap from the weight of the snow.

That's cool, I didn't need to get upstairs anyways.

I was desperate for a way to stay outside. And then it came to me. I could be the self-proclaimed tree fairy of my apartment complex. I could prevent other trees from snapping by ridding them of their too-heavy snow! So I ran around and shook all the branches I could find.

It hit me. Literally, and metaphorically. Metaphorically, my wish had come true. I was a little kid for a day. I didn't have a care in the world. I ran from tree to tree to tree, up hill, down hill, across the parking lot. Just shaking branches. Letting it avalanche onto my head. Sometimes pulling the branch back like a sling-shot and using it to hit the snow off the branch ahead. Unburying some branches that were already buried completely under the snow. It was wonderful. I know it sounds simple but--no, no buts. It was simple. And it was beautiful. It was fun and simple and thrilling. Each time I shook it, shrieked, got pelted by snow, and then got to watch the branch swing two feet up in the air, snow free again I felt a huge rush.

While I was swinging away, I was reminded of this quote.

I couldn't be a kid for a day then, but I could be a kid for today. When I wanted it, the answer was "not now." As a human, I oh so often assume that means "not ever." But today was a great reminder that our God is an awesome God, and he never forgets His children--down to their littlest desire. How beautiful.  Think of everything the Lord has to keep track of. Politicians, starving children, single moms, Pope Francis running away from his body guards (again) to go bless some homeless people. All these people and burdens and prayers...and yet He remembers me, a little ol' girl in Missourah, under a tree full of snow. Out of all of the requests and prayers and petitions He gets every single day, He remembered my one, thirty-second thought, "I want to be a kid again" and He made it happen.

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes. It was frickin' snow, get over it you may say. But to me, it was more. It was a reminder that "not now" doesn't mean "not ever." And I needed this reminder, desperately.  I've been stressing over everything--money, job, Missourah. And today, I got my answer. Not now. That doesn't mean He's forgotten me or that my life is over and I just have to deal with where I am. I'll get where I need to be, when I need to be. And along the way, I'll learn some cool things. Like today, I learned the coolest way to enjoy snow as an adult. And hopefully, I saved a branch or two.

The Tree Fairy
Now that's a rosy-pink shade of exertion that even my Bar Method teacher would approve of. Brought to you for free from the great outdoors.

You're bored? Do something. You want to get off your ass?  Get up.
You want to go outside? Go outside. Is it hard? You bet. Worth it? Absolutely.

I ran from tree to tree like a total moron. Do my neighbors think I'm crazy?
Who cares. I'm fabulous.

Dream Interpretation: Part Two!

March 23, 2013

Earlier, I shared my first stab (get it...'cuz there was a needle) at dream interpretation. And since I've had a total of THREE dreams now featuring this same person (crazy Jekyll and Hyde man), that can obviously only mean one thing: we have serious issues we need to work out it should be a blog series durrrr! It's not AS entertaining, but now that I've looked up dream symbols once...I want more.

So, Dream 3: I'm searching for X (boy from last dream) at Graduation (and apparently our school was in the South and it was really hot and dusty), and I can't find him. I finally find him and we get into a huge fight about all the reasons we won't work out (nothing new there). Then, he disappears and magically reappears later with a letter. He was very specific about repeating that he could only write letters standing up and that it had taken him 5 hours to write it. It was about all his emotions...but then it turned into a storybook? With photos of old soldiers and a group of men swimming a log down a beach. X explains to me that he will never be satisfied unless he can exercise his manliness like these soldiers. We continue to fight about our relationship. Then, magically, we forget all of our reasons for hating each other and end up back together, celebrating our relationship on the beach with his family. I am gathering all of our beach supplies to leave--which are so many that I can't hold them--when his father tells X that I am a "good woman."

My Interpretation:
You should follow your life long dream of moving to the South and becoming an old Southern woman. in the South, you will find great things like soldiers and father-in-laws who approve of your sass. You are attracted to men who like physical exercise, although you find yourself allergic to the gym. 
(I mean...let's make this good.)

DreamMood.com's Interpretation:
Emotional mental issues blah blah blah. 
Sex blah blah blah.
Meeting of the subconscious blah blah blah.
Work out your issues blah blah blah. 

To dream of the direction south indicates life, expectations, and questions. Alternatively, the dream may symbolize love, passion and warmth. Or the dream may be a metaphor that a plan has "gone south" or gone awry (like this blog post).

Heat represents purity, creative energy or intense passion.

To dream that you are searching for something signifies the need to find something that is missing or needed in your life. 

To dream that you are at a graduation represents your achievements. You are successfully transitioning to a higher level, and are ready to move forward and perform more important things.  

letter signifies a new opportunity or challenge. Alternatively, the letter represents a message from your subconscious. The contents of the letter may offer you some guidance in a current situation (again...this letter told me nothing I didn't already know. Fail fest.).

Five represents your persuasiveness, spontaneity, boldness, daring nature, action, and humanity (aww, dreammoods, you're too kind! Thanks for finally not making me sound like a sexually-repressed emotional basketcase.). The number five represents the five human senses and thus may be telling you to be more in tune to your senses. Alternatively, the  number five may reflect a change in your path or that you need to alter your course. It is also the link between heaven and earth.

To see a log floating in water represents new opportunities

Swimming may be a sign that you are seeking some sort of emotional support. 

The beach symbolizes the meeting between your two states of mind. The sand is symbolic of the rational and mental processes while the water signifies the irrational, unsteady, and emotional aspects of yourself. It is a place of transition between the physical/material and the spiritual. To dream that you are on the beach and looking out toward the ocean indicates unknown and major changes that are occurring in your life. To dream that you are looking toward the beach suggests that you are returning to what is familiar to you. Alternatively, you may be adapting or accepting to the changes and circumstances in your life. 

So, after reading those, maybe a second interpretation is: 
You are facing great changes and turmoil in your life. New challenges are ahead. You are both getting used to the old changes while simultaneously entering into new ones. You are the link between heaven and earth, AKA top betch go volunteer more and serve others. 
Oh, and go drink more wine.

What do you think my dream means? I'd love to hear your interpretation below! =) Or, leave you dream below and I will offer my highly trained services to interpret it for you ;)

Friday Letters

March 22, 2013

Dear Snapchat:
I have no idea what you are, or what you're used for. You're on my phone, and so far all I've managed to do is embarrass myself by drunk-snapchatting (god, so many new ways to embarrass yourself these days) a boy (yeah, boy from the creepy nurse-stabbing-me-with-a-needle dream) a picture of a moving car on a highway (no, I wasn't driving, obvi). 

Dear Lauren:
Thanks for trying to educate me on what snapchat is for. Even though I know better now, I will still assume it's to send you pictures of my socks, keyboard, and dirty hair.

Dear Ellen:
Thanks for backing me up that I'm not the only one who doesn't understand snapchat.

Dear people who told me working out in the morning would give me energy:

Dear readers:
I'm confused. Are we supposed to get healthy for ourselves, or for our ex-boyfriend so he'll notice and feel immense guilt? Pinterest is really throwing me off on this. 

Dear HR: 
Sorry I'm not sorry. This is my quiet rebellion against the quadricube.

 Dear people waiting for an update on the quadricube:
Today we played pattycake.

Aaaaaand I'm off to dream of cheese-covered bacon. Happy Friday!


Light and Easy: Get to Know Me

March 20, 2013

I thought I'd take it nice and easy today and link up with some fabulous women for their link ups. Wednesdays are rough, so let's just grab some coffee and get to know each other =) 

This week's 'first' topics are:
1. First ever blog post
My first EVER post was "The 5 Assholes You'll Date in College." I originally published it on my Wordpress site in July, before bringing it to Blogger. It is still, far and away, my favorite post I've ever written. I love being sassy. I remember being so, so nervous to put it out there. Would people think I was rude? Not over all these boys? An awful writer? Glad to say it turned out just fine, and I'm glad I made the choice to try blogging =)

2. First ever comment on your blog
The first comment I got on my Blogger site was "This is beautiful...I need to read this book!" in response to my post Overwrite the Lies. I wrote about John Steinbeck's East of Eden and it's profound impact on introducing me to the truth of Jesus Christ and a life of free will. Timshel.

3. First blog-friend or friends
My first ever blog-friend was Kimberly from The Simplicity of Being Curious. I thought she was the coolest, classiest, put-together woman ever with an adventurous life, old soul and bubbly countenance. So imagine my surprise when she became my FIRST EVER GFC Follower. Blogger high, that's for sure. Kim continues to be a great encouragement to this day, and I am always thrilled to see new posts from her pop up. She is intelligent, charming and witty. Check her out ASAP. Oh, and I like to call her my "blog big" (true story..she is) and she helps me navigate the tricky world of Christoph Waltz look-alikes and stranger danger. 

1. Do you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day? How?
STL is big on St. Patty's day (or really, any holiday where they have an excuse to throw beads from a float). I went downtown with some friends for the parade and drinking. Before this, St Patty's day was my "family holiday" in my sorority. We LOVED it, and always celebrated together by wearing green, doing something silly and janky and going out together. I sure do miss that =)

2. It's March which means spring break! We want to know how your spring break went or if it hasn't happened yet, what will your spring break consist of? 
As I told the punk-ass teenager working at PacSun, unfortunately I work now and don't get a Spring Break. 
3. A Zombie Apocalypse happens and you're stripped of all your luxury items. What beauty product would you miss the most?
4. What is the one cause that you feel most passionate about?
I'm most passionate about kids, but specifically getting them to realize that any hurdle life throws at them can be overcome if they have determination, faith and education. Life threw curve balls at me and by no means would anyone have predicated I'd have succeeded like I did. But I did. It's so important that kids know that no matter where they're born, who they're born to, etc they can all still achieve. 
5. What's the #1 most played song on your ipod?
I...don't use my iPod. I'm a big fan of Pandora or YouTube. Currently, my most repeated song on YouTube is "Just Give me a Reason" by P!nk. She is one of those rare artists that I don't think I've ever actually not liked something she's produced. 
(Also, she used her husband instead of a model in this video...love love love.)

Travel Tuesdays: Dajabon

March 19, 2013

Once upon a time, during my short-term missions trip to the Dominican Republic, we had the opportunity to take a "day trip" to Dajabon. Dajabon is the only marketplace available on the border between Haiti and the Dominican. Because of their intense history, the Haitians and the Dominicans are filled with distrust and tension. Think: the Dominicans feel about the Haitians the way many Americans feel about illegal immigrants. In the DR, they will stop your car frequently at any given road and check to make sure there are no Haitians. And while Americans think that the DR is a second-world country deserving of aid and support, in comparison to Haiti, Haitians think the DR is a land of wealth and opportunity. Dajabon is only open (granted, haven't been there for four years so forgive me if this is outdated info) two days a week for four hours each day.

What does this result in? Mayhem. For the Haitians who visit the market, their livelihood depends on those eight hours a week. There is no one who will (or can) buy their goods in Haiti, so they are desperate to get as many goods over the border and sold to the 'wealthy' Dominicans as possible. They run back and forth over one bridge with cart after cart of goods, dumping it at a family stall before running back for more. Literally, running. I saw men pushing huge horse carts or dragging trailers behind them.

There is one central road for all the traffic to go across the bridge. It is literally one lane wide, but since the market is only open for four hours people rarely care about that. It is a sea of humanity. You look to your left, there's a horse cart. Look to your right, trailer. Look above, the bags of goods people are carrying on their heads jilt with their steps and threaten to fall on your face. Look behind you, people are pushing against you--desperate to get more, more, more sold. Look ahead, there is no end in sight. A constant stream of desperate people running. I kept watching for cameramen from the Discovery Channel or National Geographic.

Aerial shot of the bridge leading from Haiti to the market
If your lucky, things on top of their heads are in soft bags. Or, like this man, they're just straight up dangerous. A wheel barrow? On your head?!?

Of course, my friend Nikki and I got separated from the group (would you expect anything less?). The road had erupted into even more chaos, because there was a full-blown military truck coming down the single-lane road. Military truck, meet horse carts. Horse carts, meet the military truck that does not care if your sole means of transportation/work is crushed by it's overbearing wheels. Because there were so many people in the road, we had plenty of time to watch the truck role towards us at a slow speed. We saw women try to squeeze sideways between carts and truck, getting hit in the chest by the side-mirror or barely escaping with all toes intact. Needless to say, panic started rising. We couldn't go left, we couldn't go right, people were crushing into us from behind and we certainly couldn't go forward because the only thing waiting for us there was the front of a truck. Suddenly, a small, dark hand wrapped around my wrist and pulled me smoothly between two people and behind a horse cart he was pushing. He wrapped my hands around the cart handle and held them tightly for a few seconds, as if to say "stay here." The cart was like a boulder in the sea of humanity. People flowed around us, and for a few seconds, I felt like I could breath again. The man started smiling and singing chipper songs (which of course we couldn't understand) until the truck safely passed us and we could go back to our group.

Maybe this is why I'm not scared (enough) of strangers. Because in the end, it always works out. He only had eight hours a week to make his living at this chaotic, insane, dangerous market. And he spent ten of those precious minutes helping me, a stranger.

Helene in Between

If you like, I have many more stories from the DR that I can share =) 
Don't forget to link up with Helene and share your stories!
Also, these photos are from good ol' Google. Apparently the majority of my DR photos 
didn't make it on the trek from MI. I have some cute ones of the kiddos though for future use =)
Hayley Larue Design