Saturday, January 6, 2018

Choosing Joy

I tend to be a bit of a pessimist. Not all the time, but sometimes (okay probably more than I want to admit). 

In some situations being prepared for potential problem is very helpful and needed, however, it isn't great 24/7. One of my friends from high school, Maddie, runs a health/fitness Instagram (check it out). She shared her "word for 2018" a few days ago (she also has a lot of great, motivating posts that you should read, too).  Well I've been laying on the couch the past few days recovering from my wisdom teeth surgery and I thought back to her post. I found the website she used and took the quiz to find my word for 2018.
The quiz was through a Christian stationary company that tries to share the message of God through cards, journals, and other gifts. 

My quiz result: joy.

This aligns pretty well with my goals through 2018. I want to take advantage of the opportunities I get and live to my fullest potential. I'm choosing joy for 2018 because I want to be a light to others. I want to celebrate every moment (even the little ones). It's very easy in today's world to dwell on just how much is going wrong. 

Despite all of the negativity, people every day are accomplishing great things. We need to recognize these efforts-- be joyous in the little moments and big achievements.

I hope that 2018 will be my time to grow into a secure, confident woman who believes in herself and chooses joy above all else.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Challenging Yourself

It's extremely easy to get caught up in routines and the daily patterns of life. If I am being honest I enjoy those routines, I enjoy knowing exactly what I am going to do at which times. With that, though, it is easy to get complacent. 
In my previous post I shared my new year resolutions. While those are great, I wanted to challenge myself a little more. Below is a list of a few things I want to try to accomplish in 2018. Some I know I will do, others are a stretch. What's life without a little bit of a challenge, right? 

___ Go hiking

___ Camping/Hammocking

___ Learn something new

___ Complete a half marathon

___ Visit a new place

___ Write more letters to the people I care about

___ Get an internship

___ Read at least 10 books (for fun, not including textbooks)

___ Go kayaking

___ Try to garden (or at least keep a plant alive)

___ Attempt to scrapbook

___ Host/participate in a cookie swap

___ Cook a new meal

___ Have an all day movie marathon 

I have a good feeling about 2018, I know that there will be times that I face hardships but I think it will also be a huge year for growth. I hope to wake up every morning with the motivation to live the best version of my life, surrounded by the people who make me happy.

What do you challenge yourself to accomplish in 2018?

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year Resolutions Reflection

While I didn't publish my new year resolutions on my blog last year I did have them in a note on my phone. 

1. Get in shape (for real this time)
2. Stop biting my nails
3. Continue to be happy

I can say that I successfully accomplished 2/3 of these this year. 

#1: My physique may not ever resemble that of when I was swimming 5 days a week for 2 hours a day, but I am in my best post-swimming shape. In 2017 I learned that I can't just do cardio and expect to see the results I want. I thought lifting would make me bulky but what I realized once I got over my fear of the weights is that it actually helps a lot (duh... that's why people are always in the weight section of the gym). For 2018 my goal is to work on my arms and core.

#2: I failed at this again and I fail every year. Biting my nails isn't something I always even recognize I'm doing. Sometimes I may go a long time without biting them and then I look down and I realize I've done it again. It's part a subconscious thing, part coping method for stress. For 2018 my goal is to be more aware of when I'm biting my nails so I can stop. 

#3: WOO I did it. 2017 had it's ups and downs like any year but I can honestly say that this year was pretty great. I did a lot, traveled, hung out with my best friends, continued my studies, and overall just became a better version of myself. For 2018 my goal is to continue to be happy and hopefully help make other people happy.

My winter break seems to be flying by but I have thoroughly enjoyed the rest and relaxation, traveling with my family, and getting to see David and my friends for NYE. My next semester is going to be pretty busy, too, but I know 2018 is going to be a great year.

Happy New Year everyone, I will see you in 2018!

Until next time,

Taylor xx

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Half Marathon?

If you are no stranger to this blog you've read about my triathlon experience a handful of times. I love the sport, I will rave about it to anyone who gives me a chance to. When I came back to school for my sophomore year I originally had planned to train for a long distance triathlon but I had a few challenges. I am really busy (I mean it's college, who isn't?) and the pool hours don't fit into my schedule and I don't have a bike rack or my bike at school. One thing I have been doing though is running. 

I was thinking about doing a 10K over fall break but I didn't end up doing it. I did the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day and got my PR (24:54, an 8:02 mile), which was definitely because this semester I began incorporating lifting into my workouts.
A high quality picture of me very early in the morning for the Turkey Trot
The last two weeks of school, though, my workout schedule fell apart. I had a lot of final presentations, projects, and tests that took over. If I'm being honest not working out stressed me out but I also knew I needed to be properly rested. Taking a week or two off wouldn't hurt me that badly. And it didn't. It gave me the rest and recharge I needed to get back to working out over break. That get's me to the main point of this post.

I am doing a half marathon. 

Completing a half-marathon has always been a far out goal that I didn't think I'd ever accomplish. At the beginning of break I had texted David and joked that I'd "maybe" do one. He said to do it. I began looking at races in Springfield and I found the Big Party Half Marathon on April 7. When I read more about the Big Party Half Marathon I knew I had to do it. All of the proceeds go to Camp Barnabas-- "a unique ministry providing Christian camping experiences to people with special needs and chronic illnesses, along with their siblings." The money raised from this race goes to funds so that kids have money to go to the camp.

I found a beginner's training plan for a half marathon and I just completed my first week. I don't expect to be super fast or place in the top 5, but I want to do it to say I've done it. I also feel like if there's any half marathon to do it might as well be the one that provides opportunities to kids to have fun at a camp that is accessible for them.

Am I nervous? Sure, but I know that if I just pace myself over the 13.1 miles it won't be too bad.

Publishing this post will also keep me accountable-- I've put it out into the world now, I can't take it back (& I already signed up so now I'm financially commmitted).

I'm really excited to continue to up my mileage in my training. I am going to continue to lift and cross train on the days I don't run (because I'll only be running ~3 times a week). I will be sure to keep you all updated as my adventure for this race continues.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

PS: You can read about my fitness journey here 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First Semester Sophomore Year Reflection

I have officially completed every essay, turned in every test and given every presentation. What does that mean? I am done with my first semester of my sophomore year of college.

As I scrolled through my camera roll I was reminded of all of the great times I had throughout the past five months so here is a glimpse into some of what my semester was like. 

So first there was Fun on the Lane... Anna and I were all about the Pineapple Whip (look at how cute Allyson is).

Then I went on to survive my first sorority recruitment on the "other side" as an active. My big was disaffiliated so going through the summer and pre-recruitment activities without her was a challenge but then we were reunited. In this picture I was crying a lot... it's fine.

Here's Sophia and I, I literally couldn't have survived this semester without her constant love and support. I am forever grateful for our MudHouse study dates and trips to Sonic.
And throughout September I got to gather things and put together a basket for my future little. Noelle-- I love you so much and I am so glad you are a part of the fam ba bam.
Here's her completed basket!
 Big/Little Reveal--

Kappa Delta did a paint Twister (that turned into paint war) exchange with Sigma Pi.
 We also created a team for Lambda Chi Alpha's Watermelon Fest.
Noelle officially got initiated into Kappa Delta and I was a proud mom. 
Around this time it was midterms so here's a picture of Sophia and I dying in the library. One night we went to Target and each bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's and ate them in one of the study rooms.
My mom came to visit and of course I took her to MudHouse. We spent our night on the couch in my apartment eating candy and watching documentaries.
Ethan, Oliver and Sophia stayed at my house for a few days of fall break.

Then it was Halloween at Drury....
 Next was the Kappa Delta masquerade-themed formal.
They had a fire pit for s'mores and I was living my best life. David took a to-go box full of extra s'more making materials which I continued to eat for the next week.

I was slated for Vice President- Public Relations for the Alpha Psi chapter of Kappa Delta and got voted in. Here's a photo of the incredible women I get to work and serve with over the course of the next year.
I went with David to Sigma Pi's formal.
And the following Sunday I went to Sigma Pi's Thanksgiving
Second year in a row of Fratsgiving photos with Oliver

 I started dating David, too, I can't forget to mention that ;)
This was before we officially started dating but it's close enough
If you didn't know, David is incredible. I could probably go on and on about how great he is but that's kind of cringe-y, but please know that he means the world to me and makes me incredibly happy. 

And his Tweet was featured on Buzzfeed (he's #10) and that's pretty cool.

After a crazy busy two weekends I went home for a quick Thanksgiving break...

and then came back to finish out the last few weeks of the semester. I helped decorate both David and Matt's Christmas tree and my own apartment's tree.

I also went on a lot of coffee dates. Mackenzie is super cool and anyone would be lucky to have a friend like her.

David and I got invited by Allyson to attend her family's bank Christmas party and it was a blast (thanks Allyson, you're great).

Before finals week started Noelle, Rachel and I exchanged Christmas gifts. Noelle got us these rockin' sweaters and I am pumped.

We also got to welcome my grandbig, Shaylyn, home from her semester in Washington DC (and Noelle got to meet her for the first time).
 As you can tell we all fit into this family quite well.
I wrapped up this week with a few finals both Tuesday and Wednesday and worked a lot. 

I participated in the Drury tradition of late night breakfast, where Drury faculty makes the students breakfast at 10 p.m. on the Tuesday of finals week. 

So many of the memories (pictured and not pictured) have made my semester so special. I know I will miss everyone more than I can describe but I am very excited for a break. I can't wait to be able to sit around and do nothing for a few weeks because before I know it I'll be back at school.

But I just wanted to say to everyone that has impacted my first semester- thanks for being you, you're incredible!

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Thursday, December 7, 2017

We're Making It

The infamously branded "dead week" is upon us. And while we have almost made it through the week, the stress is far from being over. 

Dead week (or the week before finals) is always significantly worse than finals weeks. Traditionally it's because you are prepping for finals, finishing up papers, and practicing presentations, but from my experience more finals happen on dead week than finals week. Many of professors think it'll make it easier on us but then everyone does it and finals week becomes you staying until Wednesday for your one final from 1-3.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad my stress is almost over but earlier this week I was really testing my sanity. At one point I was set up in the Commons (our cafeteria) while making phone calls, drinking my third cup of coffee on an empty stomach and typing out an article for a newspaper story. Don't worry- the Commons put out their lunch options and I ate. But later that day I went to a coffee shop with my friend Barbie and we each had our fourth cups of coffee for the day. I was wired, but pretty productive.
Mudhouse was full so Barbie and I went somewhere else for coffee but here's a picture I took at Mudhouse earlier in the semester
As you can tell from what I have told you I am incredibly busy. My days are 12+ hours and at points I feel like I'm going crazy. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though. 

In exactly one week I will be in my pajamas at home on the couch, drinking coffee and watching cheesy Christmas movies. My dream of relaxing will be coming true shortly. 

I am also trying to cherish this last week of my fall semester by spending as much time as I can with my friends and boyfriend before we all go home for 4-5 weeks. 

I feel like this semester passed in a blink of an eye, it's wild to see how much has changed from August to now. 

To my fellow Drury peers and other college friends-- we're making it. We just have to push for a bit longer before we can do nothing and not feel guilty about it.

Until next time,
Taylor xx

Friday, November 17, 2017

Running While Female

As more and more women share their "#MeToo" stories I have reflected on my own experiences of not feeling safe or secure. 

Growing up my parents emphasized to my brother and I how important it was to be aware of everything around us and be ready to take action. Being vigilant is one of the largest lessons that has stuck with me to this day (so thanks mom and dad *thumbs up for you* your parenting was effective). 

My parents stressing of the importance of being aware of my surroundings only grew when I started going running in my neighborhood at home. I ended up carrying pepper spray for a long time. If I am being completely honest I have not (yet) experienced a time where I felt uncomfortable running in O'Fallon. I'm sure it helps that where I live is a very family-friendly neighborhood with a lot of active people. This hasn't lessened my senses though, I am still very aware of any dogs or people that could be around.

This changed when I came to Springfield. I am not located in the most safe part of Springfield and that has definitely influenced where and when I go running. I only go running in the daylight, I always have my keys in one hand and my phone in the other. When I run alone I only do a loop around the Drury campus so that I always have a building I could go to within a few feet in case I feel unsafe.

The first time I felt really uncomfortable when running was when I was running in downtown Springfield with a male friend. We were running down a residential street, I looked to my right and saw a guy looking at me for an unreasonably long time. My guy friend made eye contact with the man staring at me and he looked away. I'm not sure if my friend realizes that he helped stop a situation I was uncomfortable in (we never talked about it and I'm not sure if he remembers) but I was glad he was there to do so. It was the first time I really felt like someone was ogling at me and it's an awful feeling. I should not feel in danger for working out. 

See, it is much more fun to run downtown or go on different routes instead of doing the same loop 3 times to get in my 5K, but I can't do that if I run alone. I am sad that I live in a society where I have to be fearful of doing something I love because of someone's unwanted advances. I am sad that people are still tying to justify my running attire as an invitation to stare at me. What saddens me the most is that people are not willing to talk about this and other cases of sexual harassment because they feel like no one is listening.

My "#runningwhilefemale" story may not be the most dramatic but I still feel like it's important to talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment. I would also suggest checking out the #runningwhilefemale for more stories.

I love running and I don't ever intend on stopping, but there are times I feel discouraged because of situations like my own and the others I read. My hope is that one day if I have a daughter that we can run together and not feel unsafe. I hope that she lives in a world that is able to respect her body's abilities and strengths.

Until next time,
Taylor xx 

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