November 2, 2014

#35 - Exciting News!

Dear Dubrovnik,

It's time to get you up-to-date on what's been going on! It's only been about six months and a lot has happened in the last six months, including some exciting news which I'm glad to share!

Going from least to most recent, I last wrote about my marathon experience which was a memorable one. I feel as though I am eternally fit from that. I went on a few long runs this summer (after an extensive recuperation period) and found that really no matter the distance, I could still run a good pace and hold it steady throughout. I got to make a fun trip home with three friends who hadn't been to Maine before, and we went hiking, kayaking, and skeet-shooting! We also played soccer together a lot and enjoyed the FIFA soccer madness! Back home my mom adopted two little kittens, and Moe, our dog wasn't too happy, though it seems that he's warmed up to them now that he's had a lot of time with them. Besides my small trip I didn't have much free time between my jobs, and being an RA, but I learned a lot and made some good friends this summer! *Some additional things I've done - helped with the dismantling of my sister's timber frame house, a grandmas weekend visit, apple picking, and some trips around Burlington.
The different faces of kayaking rapids
Such nervous

Who doesn't hold up rocks?

Halfway to the top!
Sekou photo-bombing
Birthday boys! 

The actual Birthday boys
I owned the most famous soccer ball of the summer

Snack and Office Space! 
Sunset from my porch
I saw a horse at the waterfront 
Chipmunks living in the oldest tree at Champlain 
A surprise visit from the fella called for a dinner out!
A short visit home before school! 
Leo asleep
and again
even with Margaret 
You'd never guess how old he is!
The timber frame take-down! 

An ity bity snake!

Gram and Blue
Meme getting wild! 
Gram can't even handle it
The photo you get when your gram holds down the shutter taking 50 pictures - half of herself!
Sunset at ra camp
My wonderful co Will!
Cooper made some leaf art
Hanging out with the friends! 
First, last day of school!
Of course a visit from the goober!
Apple picking!
It was her first time ever!
And an annual lake trip with some friends

Back to the summer - I had two jobs this summer. The first one I still intern at, and that is at at Driven Studio which is a small design firm in Burlington where I also interned this past spring. I work/ed primarily on Cabot Cheese content and got to help design logos, countless web banners, and even got a few cool projects of my own! I got to help edit some tractor trucks graphics, make the new Cabot pint glass, and make the new cheese stickers!

But back to Driven Studio, I had a few things all happen at once and one was an amazing job offer which would start when I end by collegiate career in December! On that same day, I was also made aware of an amazing opportunity to be a teaching assistant in Italy for the spring term teaching english! So as you can imagine, some long walks and serious deliberation with friends and family, but I spoke with my boss about the situation and he was on board, saying what everyone else had been saying: when will you ever get this chance again?

My other job was working with Residential Life operations at Champlain College preparing for the arrival of a ginormous incoming first-year class. I primarily made a massive survey that I thought would help students get better matched with their roommates. And after speaking with the residents of my friends who RA first year residence halls, the students I talked to who all used that form get along great. AKA GREAT SUCESS.

So, all in all, I've got about a month to my graduation and two months until I fly out for Italy! It doesn't seem real - especially with all the things that have to happen, like student loans, apartment searching, a computer, a car?! -- there is a lot that starts to happen when you graduate and become an adult! I'm very blessed to have such supportive family and friends during this crazy time! 

For the Graphic Design major we have a big project called the Capstone which is basically a semester long intensive research/design project where you explore one issue you have found and create a potential outcome(s) and articulate those outcomes through design, backed by research. PHEW! I've learned to summarize that! But in two weeks I'll be done the most intensive part, and should be doing great! 

I've been learning Italian for the last month and a half or so and I'm starting to feel pretty good about saying hello. ;) Haha, Just kidding, I've learn many other things too! // And another funny twist, my sister is actually in Italy and has been for a couple weeks with Kevin! So they've been keeping track of cool places for me to go and stay and visit! AND I'm only really a ferry ride away from Dubrovnik after all.... ;)

And for those wondering, I'm not positive of the town in which I'll be living but it will most likely be in a small town near Turin, Italy which is located at the base of the alps! And there are about seven other countries that are nearby so I'll be getting to as many as I can as I think it will be a while before I get across the seas again! So EXCITED!

Until next time! 

May 27, 2014

#34 - A Marathon?!

Dear Dubrovnik,

I did it! I completed the Burlington City Marathon! A goal I set seven months ago is finally complete! (I can happily check off another amazing experience from my bucket list.) *sighs of relief!*

For those of you who followed my progress leading up to the marathon you might be thinking - hey - that was the other day! This is true - I'm a tad late. May 25th marked the date of the Burlington City Marathon, but it also marked the one year anniversary of our loss of a great family member -- Moxie. In addition, I am currently recouping back in Maine, and our lack of electricity and indoor plumbing has make this post difficult to upload! ;) I also got a mega sun burn during the marathon, and all the soreness I could never quite imagine handling. Also, on a sad note, a friend who I'd fallen out of contact with from my middle-school years lost his life Sunday night in a tragic car accident. It's hard to understand why loved ones get taken from us, and even harder when it seems they've only just started to experience life. 

So, in celebration, or remembrance of this Memorial day, we got a lovely flowering plant for Moxie's grave, and plan to plant some catnip for Chester soon. As for me, I've been walking, or should I say dragging myself around wondering if I'll ever be able to have control of my noodle legs again. I am 100% the most sore I've ever been, and I even put in a flower garden today! I will however say that if I tried squatting one more time I would have passed out on the vets lawn, and I wouldn't have been found for a while. (Only I can laugh at this ;) ) But I don't regret a thing - and as my mom said/sang earlier this evening - "Everybody hurts sometime"  to which I would reply "Really? Did everybody just run a marathon?" and she'd reply "I watched the marathon - my eyes got pretty tired." haha 

But on to the most popular question asked of me: Why a marathon?

My answer? 

Why not. I had always admired the physical and mental strength that marathon runners seemed to possess, and I figured if I could be getting so much out of my traveling abroad experience, why not set myself up to be challenged upon arriving at home. 

The sixteen week program which I followed (twenty weeks including the pre-training for those who are couch to run -- or beach to run in my case,) was an essential part of my success. In addition, coming up with motivating playlists and a regular training routine really helped to keep me on track and psyched to run, even when the weather required me to wear all the clothes require for skiing. My friends and family (after the initial period of "okay you can stop pretending that this is real") became really great supporters asking how things were going, if I was feeling good, staying positive, even changing the bar-hoping nights to accommodate my desire to not drink the night before doing my long runs on the weekend - even though many of them still don't quite understand how the two relate. ;) 

Training by myself was hard at times. When the rain, or snow or sleet was heavy, or the wind was blowing in the opposite direction I desired it to, or the ice was as slick as a skating rink it was dis-heartening. And to run with tired legs, and sore lungs was discouraging. But to arrive to at my dorm or work or class each day and have people ask how it went, expecting the typical "you're crazy" but getting "Wow, that's really impressive! You wouldn't catch me running out in that!" That kind of support really makes a goal become reality. 

I never had a hint of doubt about the marathon from the time I hit enter and sent in my confirmation. In addition, when my two cousins agreed to train and run (from our own separate locations) and join together on marathon day, I knew they too would make it. Even if someone was getting a piggy-back ride, and it was 10PM we would all make it across that finish line. how do I know this you may ask?
Because we all have difficult hurdles in life and in the words of a great TEDx shared by a good friend "Here’s the thing: Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. There is no ‘harder.’ There is just ‘hard.’ We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better about ourselves and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hardship.

So going into this, I knew that all 8,000+ runners had their reasons for running. Some, to prove to themselves that they could do the training, and the diligence, others to give two middle fingers way up to cancer and all the lives it tears down, others still to show how they didn't let cancer or a major life setback hold them down for long. People without legs completed the marathon. A woman on crutches completed the marathon. A man dressed as a hotdog with the works completed the marathon. Why did all those others choose to do it? How should I know. And why does it matter that I know. It's not really for me to know. 

I do however know that upon completing this marathon, I have grown into a wonderfully strong human being. I have more positive thoughts surrounding myself and my accomplishments, and try to approach new situations and people with a non-judgmental stance. I also do my best to keep out the negative influences and people who would normally drag me down with them. I even find myself taking their words and re-working them into something with a better outcome. I would like to think that this feeling of hope I found is also discovered by my fellow runners. 

But even more than that, the feeling that 8,000+ runners, and their thousands and thousands of family members and friends could be there to support their goals shows a lot. It shows that we still believe in something even if others find us crazy or pointless. And it shows that just about ever person out there running has a small posse of people who believe in their goals with them no matter how crazy or impossible they may seem. And that is a beautiful thing.

A great photo from my cousins en route to VT!
Me seeing that there was a day to go! Freaky!!! 
One amazing breakfast the day prior to the race!
Some encouragement

Only people in ben and Jerry's?
ET is back with the others! 
Shelburne Farms is quite amazing!

Cute fam
My silly cousins

Model time

All four runners with Gram! 
The lovely ladies
The inn

The bleach fiasco
Loungin at Lakeview
The last supper.

What a crowd
First hand cyclist!
First amazing marathoners! 

My wonderful kiddos who came to cheer me on! <3 
Of course post race photos

Gram and I after the race - who was MORE tired? 
Beautiful NH on the way home. Tucks still had snow!
UH yeah.