Greener pastures

Sometimes you think the grass is greener on the other side, so you venture on over there, but only to find that the grass was pretty darn green where you were. You find yourself wanting to return to that first pasture, but your pride gets in the way.

In life, change can be good or bad; that’s what makes it scary. You never know if the best decision is to stay where you are, or leave your comfort zone for something that could possibly be better. It’s always a risk.

My personality type is INFP–the idealist. For me, the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m always looking for the most ideal situation, for my happy ever after. The thing is, this makes it hard to be content with what I have at the moment.

“Ideal” may never happen, because life isn’t a fairy tale. The key is to recognize a good thing when you have it, and let it bring you happiness. If you leave it behind for something better, but then realize that you truly loved that pasture, then admit you were wrong before it’s too late. Happiness is more important than pride.

 

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An open letter to my future spouse

Dear future husband,

I know I haven’t met you yet, but I hope you are learning all the lessons you need to shape you into the perfect match for me. It takes enduring many heartaches, successes, and failures for a person to mature and become wise. I always wanted to be at least 27 before I got married; I knew it would take that long for me grow wise enough to make that decision, and mature enough to understand that level of commitment. I still have quite a way to go, but that’s okay. Although I wish I would find you tomorrow, I will patiently wait until our timing is perfect.

I’m learning to be happy on my own, but it’s often lonely without you. It will be so nice to someday have you there all the time, to share a home, enjoy meals, go for walks, watch TV, go to church together. I’m tired of doing everything solo, but I refuse to settle for anyone who’s not…well, you. (By the way, I hope you love running as much as I do, because I need someone by my side at all my races.)

Please don’t worry about whether you’re tall, handsome, athletic, rich, or successful enough; I don’t care about those things. Instead, focus on your character and integrity. I care about how you treat me and how you treat others (particularly those less fortunate than you). It also matters that you can take care of yourself and can take care of me. I hope you make the effort to eat right, exercise, enjoy nature, and see to any of your medical needs. How can you take care of me if you can’t take care of yourself? I also don’t care what you do for a living, as long as you can provide for me in hard times. And I will try to do the same for you.

I hope you’re not out there breaking too many hearts. I also hope you’re not getting your heart broken. You must be Catholic, because that’s my number one dating requirement; I hope you’re staying true to your faith and keeping your relationships pure. Don’t fall into the hookup culture of our generation. Keep your standards high, and don’t settle.

Hopefully by the time we finally encounter, I will meet your standards. Everyday is a step toward self-improvement. Just please know that I’m not perfect–in fact, I’m far from it. There are some days when I can be jealous, cold, and distant. But what makes you special is that you love me in these times, just as much as when I am happy and cheerful. Because that’s what unconditional love is, and I can’t wait to find that in you.

Love,

Cori

Trying another tri

A couple weekends ago, I competed in my 2nd Rocketchix triathlon ūüôā (I wrote about my first one in¬†Trying a Tri). The race last Saturday consisted of a 200-meter swim at the LSU rec. center, a 12-mile bike, and a 2-mile run along the LSU lakes. This women-only sprint triathlon is beginner friendly and super fun, while at the same time pretty competitive and challenging.

Post-race pic!

Post-race pic!

I ended up seeding myself in the 3-minute group for the swim as we lined up at 7 am. I’d had my cousin time me in the pool a few days before, and my 200 time was 2:30–not bad considering I hadn’t swam much the last couple of years. After discussing swimming experience and best times with the other triathletes, it was decided that I’d go first. So out of the 300 or so women present, I was the first one in and out of the pool (as if I wasn’t nervous enough already!). But that was actually awesome because I felt like a superstar as I jumped in to kick off the race.

I started my 200 at a sprint pace, but since I haven’t trained much in the sport of swim since college, I ran out of steam about halfway through. Regardless, I still finished 1st place in the swim with a time of about 3 minutes (yay!).

The bike is the part that killed me. I’m still relatively new to biking, and my bike is a hybrid–not a racing bike. I got passed by so many women on the bike portion of the race, my mom was starting to worry about me back at the transition area!

In transition!

In transition!

I finally finished up the bike portion, and I was ready to run. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to walk at all. It’s just 2 miles! I kept thinking. The thing that really kept me going was the volunteers cheering and handing out water along the run route. A local group called Girls on the Run–which helps young girls get healthy and fit while training for a 5K–sent some of their girls to volunteer at the tri. These girls were precious and inspiring, cheering “You can do anything through Jesus!” I think for a lot of the athletes, this was the favorite part of the whole race.

I was very burnt out by the time I got to the run, so it was more like a jog. But I managed to catch up a good bit, and crossed the finish line with an overall time of 1 hour and 17 minutes. This placed me 64th overall and 4th place in my age group (20-24). I was a little disappointed that I didn’t place in my age group and that I was so burnt out by the end of the race. My ultimate fitness goal is to finish an Ironman Triathlon, and this sprint tri is only a small fraction of that distance. Basically, I have a long way to go.

Our wonderful volunteers :)

Our wonderful volunteers ūüôā

After the tri, I felt a new wave of determination and motivation to improve my performance. I can’t afford a fancy racing bike anytime soon, but I can improve my training and diet. So I started going to spin class to improve my biking, I started reading a triathlon training manual (educating myself on technique, nutrition, and proper training), and I’ve managed to avoid fried food for the last 2 weeks. I registered for another tri that takes place in 4 weeks; this one has a 1/2 mile open-water swim, 20-mile bike, and 5K run. It will be my most challenging race yet. The only way I can improve is to push myself, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. Stay tuned…

Be grateful

Last weekend my¬†faith group and I visited¬†a women’s prison and were blessed that¬†several of the women opened up to us and shared the details of their daily lives. Between walking in a prison for the first time and learning about the¬†realities of¬†life there,¬†I had¬†a lot to take in on an early Saturday morning! When I went home that afternoon and thought about¬†how I’d spend the rest of¬†my day–getting lunch with my mom, taking my dogs to the park, going on a date–I realized how lucky I am to live in “the free world” (as they call it). The simple freedom to spend our time however we please is something we take for granted.

Only after you see how things could be worse can you appreciate how good you’ve got it. I also realized this¬†past week how much I take my good health for granted. I was doing pull-ups at the gym Monday when I felt something pop. For the rest of the day, my neck hurt pretty bad. It scared me for sure. (No worries, though. After a few days my neck was fine.)¬†But I realized how an injury can affect not only your physical health, but also your mental health. I was worried I’d have to see a doctor, that I wouldn’t be able to participate in an upcoming triathlon and other races, and that I wouldn’t able to run around and play with the girls I babysit. Health problems can affect your whole livelihood.

The good news for me is that I do live in the free world and I do enjoy perfect health. But many people aren’t so lucky. We must remember to be compassionate towards those imprisoned and those who feel imprisoned within their own bodies or circumstances. Use your strength, outer and inner, to support those who aren’t as strong right now.

Who are you?

This morning I¬†stumbled upon¬†a wonderful blog by a lady named Dee, who¬†seems to be very spiritually in-touch. In her “About me” post, she says:¬†

“By the way, my heart is where¬†I really live. It is the place where¬†I am the truest me. My circumstances, experiences, careers, relationships, and possessions do not define who¬†I am‚Ķthey are blessings, fruits and extensions.. another of the valuable lessons i have learned along the journey.” http://deeclarknz.com/about-2/

This statement struck me, because I feel exactly the same way. When someone tries to get to know you, they typically ask the same questions: What do you do for a living? Where are you from? Are you married/dating? What did you study in school? Etc., etc… I, for one, am sick of answering these questions. Maybe it’s because the answers are a little unsatisfying and don’t give justice to who I am on the inside.

We are so much more than our jobs, our marital status, our education, our salary. In my faith group we discussed a quote that goes something¬†like this: The gateway to life is narrow, not because it is meant to only let a few through, but because we are so vast. Every human on the planet is a vast, extraordinary being, and we shouldn’t rank them based on what they have or don’t have. No individual is more valuable than another.

So instead of getting to know someone by grilling them with the 20 questions, try to discover who they are in their heart, where they are their truest self. They will appreciate you for it.

Pay it forward

I was sitting in my parked car downtown one afternoon, waiting to pick up my brother,¬†when a man in a Lexus pulled up in front of me, got out, handed a bag lunch to a homeless man, then drove away before the man could even thank him. Ever since I witnessed this gesture of kindness, I’ve been wanting to pay it forward. It’s difficult to reach out to someone the way this kind stranger did–partly because¬†we don’t want to give our hard-earned money away (or, in my case, don’t have any money to give), partly because we are so sheltered (we grew up¬†hearing “don’t talk to strangers”).¬†And also¬†because we are so out-of-touch. People busy themselves to the point that they don’t have time to acknowledge the person standing right in front of them,¬†who so obviously needs help.

Think about this: some people haven’t even heard their own name spoken to them in weeks. That scraggly-looking¬†man on the sidewalk with the cardboard sign has a name. But how many people do you think actually talk to him, introduce themselves, and say “It was nice meeting you, (name).” Think how lonely that must be! Sometimes you can make a person’s day by simply acknowledging their existence.

Though I was inspired¬†to do more¬†random acts of kindness after that day, I wasn’t sure how to go about it. So the first thing I did was download an app called “The Karma Challenge.” This app features a “wheel¬†of kindness” with categories¬†like Family, Friends, Self, Environment, Animals. You spin the wheel and¬†accept a challenge in¬†the category on which¬†it lands. For example, my first challenge was in the Self category, and it was¬†this: do¬†not say or think anything negative for 48 hours.¬†Try it!

*Thoughts about that: Some people are great about doing things for others. They rescue animals, give to charity, take care of children, bend over backwards to help anyone in need. But they¬†neglect themselves. Don’t forget that being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others. Exercise daily,¬†fuel your body with¬†healthy foods, dress nice, don’t think poorly of yourself, enjoy some alone time, treat yourself to something (whether it’s a hot chocolate or a new lipstick), eliminate¬†toxic friendships,¬†and go out of your comfort zone.*

Even though I was completing karma challenges, I wanted to do more than just use an app. I’m at a point in life when I have a lot of freedom and I’m trying to lay a solid foundation for what kind of person I’ll be. Lucky for me, one day after church the youth director asked me to volunteer with the youth group.¬†I’m thankful for this¬†opportunity to do something good. Another day at church I learned about¬†the Just Faith program, which¬†allows a small group to go on a spiritual journey over the course of several months; this involves weekly meetings, retreats, reading assignments, and volunteering in the community.¬†I knew this was¬†just what I’d been looking for: a way to pay it forward, meet new people who also care about these¬†things, and¬†find purpose¬†and spiritual fulfillment beyond just Sunday mass.¬†

So here I am embarking on a new journey to become a kinder person all because of this guy in his Lexus that day. Funny how far a small gesture can go.

Wise words from the blogosphere

Lately I’ve been reading a lot on other blogs, seeking wisdom and inspiration from the many talented writers out there. I’m not feeling particularly philosophical this week, so rather than writing something original, I want to share my favorite¬†quotes from other¬†blogs that really resonate with me (and¬†maybe will with you too!):

  • On running. Yes, I feel crazy for signing up for a half-marathon (which is one month away, yikes!), but this running blog reminded me that it’s okay to be a little crazy. Because passion and crazy often go hand-in-hand. And people will always respect you for being passionate about something, whether it’s running, a great cause/organization, career, collecting GI Joes…anything!

What if we stopped there.  We wanted to try something new or achieve a goal not so much for the guts and glory, but just to see if it could be done, but we stop in our tracks because someone said You’re crazy.  Can you imagine if you heard the words You’re passionate, do it.  What a different world this would be. http://11315miles.com/

  • Click the link to this blog and read the rest of the list. Unless you really “have got it together”, this list of advice is for you (so, basically, it’s for all of us who aren’t Barbie or Ken):

Don’t give others the satisfaction of making you love yourself any less. http://waitingfordodo.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/some-advice-i-need-to-keep-telling-myself/

  • What is true beauty? Not perfection, but this. What a lovely thought:

Beauty is displaying all that you are like a canvas splattered with an array of colors. Even though it may look bonkers and deranged, that is why it is beautiful. Beauty is you. Beauty is exhibiting the good, the bad, and the messy.  http://jenuinelife.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/stepping-in-the-beauty-of-vulnerability/

  • On online dating profiles. Ever notice how hard it is to find a normal, decent, genuinely nice¬†guy? It’s like they’re not out there! Which is why this quote is so perfect to me.¬†If I¬†ventured into the world of online dating, I’d probably put this in my bio…¬†

Normal seeks same. How hard can THAT be, RIGHT???? A bit about me… I’m pretty normal and well-grounded from life’s lessons.  My Energizers are Sun, Water, Music, Workouts… I feed myself with these and then Energize the world. http://datingwhatnot.com/2013/09/12/what-not-to-do-the-worst-online-dating-profile-ever/

  • On love songs. This is by far my favorite dating blog. It’s personal, fun to read, and perfect for strong, independent single ladies who still believe in love.

I want one of those relationships where the two people just adore each other. Where you have nothing but lovely things to say about each other, even if you’ve had a fight. Where words are used carefully because both of you are aware of the scars they can leave and the irreparable damage they can do. Where there is mutual respect and caring. Where both people do things for each other, just because. Where both people feel loved and special. http://27singlesydneyau.wordpress.com/

Can’t hurry love

The other day in the YMCA locker room, I overheard an older lady telling another lady that she’d attended two weddings this summer: one for a nephew, the other for her sister. “My sister’s engagement was a big shock,” she explained. “She is 64 and has never been married; he is 69 and has never been married. And get this–they’ve been going together for 40 years!” I thought, this has Golden Girls written all over it! (In case you didn’t know, it’s my favorite show. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant.)

One of my favorite aspects of Golden Girls is that these four women are still dating in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. I especially love Dorothy’s story. You see, Dorothy had married a schmuck named Stan at a young age because she was pregnant, and eventually divorced him when he cheated on her. I love that she gets her chance at true love on the final season of the show, when Blanche introduces her to her uncle Lucas and the two get married.

A lot of people in their 20s feel as if they need to settle down and get married. Sometimes you find someone who brings you some mediocre level of happiness and you decide you might as well stick with them. I mean, they’re good enough, your biological clock is ticking, and all your friends are getting married. But sometimes waiting is good.

I recently stumbled upon this quote, which I saved because it is so accurate: “There are three types of people in the dating world: 1.) the players, 2.) those who are in a hurry to get married, 3.) those who are genuinely waiting for their shot at true love.” As a hopeless romantic (and I do mean hopeless), I definitely fall into the third group.

If you wouldn’t shout from the rooftops how much you love this person, if you don’t tell all your friends about them, if you aren’t proud to show them off to your family, then you need to think: do I really love them, or am I just settling for them? No one wants to settle, and no one wants to be settled for. It’s unfair to both parties.

I listened amusedly as the locker room lady continued, saying, “When I got the wedding invitation in the mail, I thought, ‘Is this a joke?'” I must admit that it’s a little strange to wait 40 years to propose to your significant other. Wouldn’t you know after the first, oh I dunno, 10 years?? But anyway, I’m happy they got their happy ending. ūüôā

Love doesn’t have to happen in your 20s. You could find it in your teens, in your 90s, or any time in between. And when you do find the right person, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops (as will they). Sometimes love takes its time, so you must be patient. In the meantime, have your own life and find out how to be happy without a significant other. By the time Mr./Mrs. Right does come along, you’ll have lots of wonderful traits to share with them.

Take charge of your health

¬†There’s an episode of Golden Girls in which Dorothy goes to several physicians hoping for a diagnosis to a mysterious, 5-month mystery illness. Each doctor spent a few short minutes with her, ran some tests, then–when the tests came back negative–dismissed her as simply “depressed” or “aging”. A frustrated Dorothy finally finds a doctor who agrees that just because he can’t make a definitive diagnosis, doesn’t mean she’s not sick. He suggests that the condition is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and gives her some advice on how to deal with it.

I mention this episode because it made a statement about the lack of compassion in many doctors, largely due to the absence of good doctor/patient relationships. We live in an age when doctors are so rushed that they shell out anti-depressant prescriptions for any ailment they can’t view under a microscope, rather than learning more about the patient. Considering all this, it’s important to take charge of our own health and educate ourselves on preventative medicine, nutrition, and symptoms of common medical conditions.

I personally define health as not just the absence of disease, but as maintaining one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellness. My formula for good health (though grossly simplified) seems to work for me:

1) Follow the general diet portrayed by the food pyramid (or myplate.gov), and limit your simple carbs (sweets, sodas, any carbs that aren’t whole wheat). Don’t make yourself suffer through a diet; fad diets don’t work and they are unhealthy.

2) Move for at least 30 minutes daily (you don’t have to be a bodybuilder or triathlete, just do something you like–that doesn’t involve t.v. or internet).

3) Have a love and appreciation for yourself and others. Try to see others for who they are (an amazing human being just like you), and not what they can or can’t do for you. And start seeing yourself as inherently valuable, instead of comparing yourself to others based on looks, popularity, accomplishments, or salary.

4) Don’t smoke or drink. Simple as that.

To achieve good health today, I did the following:

  • Ate a breakfast of oatmeal with flaxseeds, raw honey, blueberries & blackberries, and cinnamon (for fiber, ALA omega-3s, vitamins, antioxidants, and cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Drank coffee-milk (many studies have indicated coffee wards off dementia)
  • Took a complete multivitamin
  • Called my mom
  • Caught up with friends through social media
  • Ate a snack of strawberries, cantaloupe, and banana (for vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium)
  • Swam outside for 30 minutes (getting vitamin D and the sun’s other natural benefits, plus my exercise quota)
  • Cuddled my dog (pets lower blood pressure, love you unconditionally, and give you someone else to love)

The little things

I once watched a documentary on happiness that cited several studies and interviewed various individuals who claimed to be truly happy. The film was cute and uplifting (and I believe the title is Happy if you want to check it out on Netflix). It emphasized that money can’t buy happiness. People who have strong family bonds, friendships based on respect and kindness, and rich spiritual lives tend to be the most happy. Occupation, income, and education level have little to do with happiness. And so we see that these things are possibly not as important as we have grown to believe.

It truly is the little things in life that make us happy. There is a Greek island called Ikaria that has the largest population of healthy elderly people (including many centenarians) in the world. People on this island live among family and friends, eat a Mediterranean diet, sleep in every morning then stay up late partying at night; they don’t worry about time–“I’ll get there when I get there”¬†is their motto–and they spend lots of time walking, gardening, and cooking. Happiness could very possibly be the key to their longevity. How could anyone not be happy living this beautiful lifestyle?

As a young person just entering “the real world,” I find it difficult to feel optimistic when living is expensive, the economy is down, crime is up, and many people are unkind. I often want to frown, give up my endeavors, cry into a pillow, etc., etc., but something always stops me. A text from an old friend. A soothing cup of tea. My chihuahua doing something cute. An email alert that someone “liked” my blog. A good song on the radio. A cup of coffee. Chocolate. An upcoming family event. Church. A surprise bouquet of flowers. My favorite sitcom is on. A new blockbuster came to theaters. Perfect running weather. An excuse to buy a new dress.

I’m not a successful career woman (yet!). I don’t have any money. I’m not famous or popular. But what I am is happy. ūüôā