Tick Tock

The days feel long, but man, the months are flying by. We are entering into our last week of April and I sit here asking myself the same question that my parents asked a couple of days ago, “What’s new Madeline?”

When they asked me I sort of paused and then answered, nothing really – I’m just plugging along. I hated myself for giving them this answer, not only because it is so uninformative, but I have always been the kid that would share, in great detail, the most boring parts of their day. I love story telling. Maybe it comes from my love of reading, because I certainly enjoy that too. If you give me a good book I could easily have my nose in it the entire day imagining far off places, other worlds, and different times. So, I love to weave together stories and let people in on the happenings in my life. I guess it’s not surprising then that I started writing a blog – ha! But, it is surprising, that when I have the chance to tell them about my week I can’t think of what has happened. Let’s see –

I worked a lot (it pretty much takes up most of my time) and this particular week I’m anxious about an exciting opportunity. I’m preparing to present my research project at a national conference in Minneapolis that isn’t for another 2 weeks, but for some reason – in my head – I think its happening next week. I’m in panic mode. I know it will all be fine, and everyone has to start out somewhere, but a part of me keeps comparing it to a kindergartner trying to participate in the middle school science fair. But really, I’m thrilled to be going and I’ve never been to Minnesota.

That’s just one thing of many new things. Next time I answer with “nothing really” hit me with a slap on the wrist and “I know you can do better than that”.

I’m posting a few photos from the hike I went on yesterday with some friends. Sweetwater Creek State Park has an easy trail that winds along the creek. We were attempting to cross the creek by jumping over rocks and we were less than successful, but it was a good time out in the sunshine.


This might be humorous to some people –

I was dog sitting this weekend and attempted to do a yoga video in the living room only to have the dogs decide to wrestle right on my mat. Thanks Bailey and Douglas you’re pretty darn cute, but yoga is impossible with you two around.

 

Freedom on a Saturday

My thoughts on this guilt-free Saturday –

1. I LOVE sleeping in.

I lazily woke up at 11 am to hear my neighbors wind chime echoing in the breeze *magic*

I walked to a local coffee shop, ordered a tea, and enjoyed the moment. There was an adorable puppy playing tricks, students studying, a new baby, a possible first date, and hanging day beds – perfect for lounging selfies.

2. In this moment, I am blissfully happy. That is all.

The Dancing Goats Coffee Bar

Green Thumb

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith” – Elisabeth Elliot

Spring is a time of new; a time to rejoice in fresh growth. It’s a time when things wake up from their wintry slumber and burst forth into the world – “Helloooo I’m here”.

If you take a moment to peruse my instagram feed you will probably pick up on my obsession with spring. The streets and trails in Atlanta are lined with fifty shades of pink, green, red, and white, and the grass is suddenly this vibrant, full-of-life color.

Besides the fact that I love flowers I know very little nothing about gardening. However, I do have some pretty distinct memories from a childhood spent outside in the garden. I would occasionally help my parents weed or sometimes if I was lucky my mom would let me help her with the flower pots. Every year she plants flower pots that live on our front porch. They are vibrant, neatly arranged, and will absolutely bring a smile to your cheeks as you walk through the front door. Someday when I have my own home I will line my front porch with dragon snaps, pansies, daisies, and begonias.

I remember planting bulbs in the ground; carefully digging a hole several inches deep, gently laying the bulb, covering it with dirt, then watering and waiting.

…Lots of waiting…

Growing plants is an exercise in patience. It requires you to have faith that with the right conditions (sunlight, warmth, water to name a few) something living with come up through the dirt. Most often it is painfully slow. Usually it’s a process that you can’t appreciate with the naked eye, but rather a process that you can sometimes catch glimpses of.

A hard lesson I’m always learning is that you can’t rush the process of growth either. I never fail to water my plants too much because I think that doing so will help them grow fast, but in the end I wind up drowning them. It would be so much easier just to buy my plants already grown. Each time I kill a plant I think will be the last time that I try and that next time I’ll gladly let someone else do the work of nurturing baby ferns.

But wait. Isn’t that the point?  Should we really be putting such emphasis on the end result and ignoring the path we took to get there?

In this world of constant motion how likely are we going to stick it out for the long term or give up the moment we lose sight of the horizon? Instant gratification is ingrained in us. Hell, amazon prime has same-day delivery because we need that thing we ordered an hour ago right now. That being said, I don’t think it’s impossible for us to endure – to dig deep, plant a bulb, and wait for it to grow. (I’m not suggesting that it’s easy, just that it’s possible).

This season of my life is feeling like a never-ending lesson in patience. I started working on my medical school applications last February. As in February 2015. In July I submitted my primary applications and then waited a month. Then I rushed to write my secondary applications, only to wait another 5 months before hearing from many programs that while my application was competitive, there wasn’t enough room for me. I interviewed at the University of Colorado 34 days ago and have yet to hear a peep from the admissions committee. I think its safe to say that I’ve been in it for the long haul.

This season of my life has been a struggle, but I’ve carefully planted this bulb in faith and I refuse to overwater, dig up, or give in to the pressures of waiting. I refuse to dig up in doubt what I planted in faith because when the time is right it will bloom.

Today I allowed myself to pause while passing some blooming flowers and I simply thought to myself, how beautiful this life truly is.

 

 

So Worth Loving

 

 

3, 2, 1 Go – Four little words that cause my palms to sweat, my pulse to quicken, and my muscles to tense up. When the clock beeps it’s go time and I start moving towards the goal of the day  – rounds, reps, time, or just plain finishing. Though I have many favorite parts of CrossFit these four little words are some of my favorites.

After years of gymnastics, dance, and then working out at the athletic club I started at an unassuming box in Denver last May. I quickly fell in love with the technical movements, the variety of workouts, the community, and the way I felt each time I left the gym with my legs shaking, my lungs burning, and my muscles beginning to ache. Doing CrossFit makes me feel strong.

Mid-double Fran on “Wheel of Fran” day. Spin the wheel for your version of Fran. I was lucky enough for the chance to do it 2x: 21-15-9 Thrusters, Pull ups

Growing up I had many identities – gymnast, dancer, bookworm, sister, daughter to name a few – but I never viewed myself as skinny. I related to songs like “Booty-licious”, “Ms. New Booty”, and “Baby Got Back”, and I desperately wanted to be skinny like the other girls in my classes. I wanted to wear a bikini, have a flat stomach, and a smooth butt. But I also desperately wanted to eat spaghetti for dinner instead of a salad. In college I worked out so that I could eat, and while I began to experiment in the kitchen and my diet expanded to include vegetables, I also started tracking my calories. Measuring out my meals down to the number of carrots I had with lunch. I hated it. I hated feeling bad about myself when I was hungry and ate too many calories. Or when we got home from the bars late and decided to order pizza. I hated comparing my body to my friends’ bodies and I hated that I couldn’t love myself.

CrossFit has been instrumental in helping me change my attitude. Yes, I have muscles, but my muscles serve a purpose. They are strong and powerful and they allow me to do things I’ve never imagined. Not only does CrossFit make me feel strong, but it makes me feel capable. CrossFit has helped me shift my perspective. My body is “femininely badass” and I love that I can say those words, while also believing it deep within my soul.

1601_CFG_Open_Badge_Rookie_SMLThis week I registered for the CrossFit Open. A 5 week competition that anyone can participate in. Each week a workout is posted that everyone completes. They then post their scores online and the top 20 men and women in each state will advance to regionals. There is no way that I will fall into that category, but instead participate in an act of celebration. To be a part of the community that is changing my life, to prove to myself how far I have come since starting in May, and to challenge myself to push harder than ever before. I’m excited and you better believe I will update you as the Open progresses. 


PS. For a little peek inside my brain —>

When I sit down to brainstorm what I will write about each week I start with a list of the things that happened –

  1. Spend the entire day airport hopping on Valentine’s day
  2. Work
  3. CrossFit

Usually the list is longer and there is at least one thing that stands out as “blog-worthy”. One thing that I find more interesting than the mundane items I see on my list above. I even considered not writing a post this week because in my opinion nothing exciting happened, but then I remembered my purpose for starting this blog in the first place and I gave myself a little kick in the butt. When I took a closer look at the events of my week there were moments of grace and joy, moments “blog-worthy”, and dare I say, moments worth celebrating. This week I’m thankful for my body. For being healthy and strong, for being able to do CrossFit, and for loving myself – because I am so worth loving.

The Bigger the Hoops

Whoever coined the term “Hotlanta” must have left right after August because as I was sitting in my living room writing this I was surrounded by a pile of all the blankets I own and the thermometer read 21 degrees.

Not. Hot. It would probably help if the heater in my apartment wasn’t quite so old and could properly vent air. Or if the pilot light didn’t randomly go out when I have 3 people staying with me. Despite my heating incapabilities we managed to stay warm.

… I should probably start from the beginning …

Back in November before I knew it would get cold here I convinced my friends to come to Atlanta for my birthday. In past years its been as cold as -7 so hotlanta would be a welcome change. Naturally they said yes, I borrowed an air mattress and the rest is history.

The weekend was filled with countless festivities – good food, good cheer, and unforgettable moments. We laughed those deep belly laughs that make you feel like you just finished 100 sit-ups without doing an ounce of work. We out-stayed our welcome at brunch one carafe at a time. We danced till we dropped (or our partners dropped us), and we sat in a coffee shop playing Life for hours, despite holes in the butts of our leggings and lingering hangovers.

My apartment was full, but my heart was bursting at the seams. Somehow all of the people in my life made me feel significant and so very loved. I had friends celebrate with me in Atlanta, my mom in Nepal face timed me, my house church called from their ski trip, my FaceBook wall blew up with kind words, and my inbox was full of best wishes and friendly messages.

One of the fears I faced as I left Colorado was of lost connections. I feared that I would lose my close friends and that my relationships would suffer. I worried that they would go on without me and that I would go on without them. In some ways we have – we don’t see each other on a daily basis, hell we don’t even text on a daily basis. Yet, in other ways we have not – they are still the first people I call with news, good or bad. They encourage me on my darkest days and I them. When we three-way call I can’t help but grin – I hope they can hear my happiness through the air waves. It has taken a different kind of effort to sustain our friendship, but, if anything, it has made it stronger, more resilient.

They say that if a friendship lasts longer than 7 years it will last a lifetime. Technically I’ve only known these ladies for 6 years, but I don’t think that matters. We’ve already passed the test and we’ve come out on top. Cheers – Y’all know who you are.

 


 

Some locations and pictures from the fabulous birthday weekend activities:

  • Hiking @ Stone Mountain
  • Picnic lunch @ Piedmont Park
  • 3 words – PONCE CITY MARKET
  • Atlanta Beltline
  • Bottomless mimosas @ The Lawrence
  • Tequila-filled confessions @ St. Louisa’s Church and Ping Pong Emporium
  • Joystick, Blake’s, the Dark Horse, the Warren
  • BRONCOS win the Superbowl
  • Pancake breakfast + bacon
  • Cook Out – this was a questionable decision

 

Direct Hits

The morning is bright after a cold and gloomy Saturday. It’s still a bit chilly out but with the sun on my skin I pull on my backpack and head for the trail. The shadows dance across the arch that welcomes hikers to the Appalachian Trail, ~ 2180 miles of wild.

We are here for the day, not making even the smallest of dents in the distance, but here we are nonetheless. The plan is to climb the 700, or so, steps at Amicalola Falls State Park and then head out for a jaunt on the A.T. Approach trail. The park ranger has warned us that the stairs are very strenuous, gaining 1000 vertical feet in under 1 mile. She laughs when my dad and I tell her we know what that kind of gain is like from hiking 14ners back in Colorado (aka – it should be no problem). Apparently we must “RESPECT THE STAIRS”…

Off we go, snow crunching under our boots with each footfall. We reach the steps in no time and begin the ascent. Ice clings to the metal grates the closer we get to the falls, passing each landing I am counting the number of steps in my head – 1, 2…10…100. My breath catches, I exhale, “wow”. The falls are giving off a blue hue that is magically brightened by the rising sun and the snow covered ground. Now this is something I’ve never seen before.

We push on and with the passing hour the day has begun to thaw. As my dad and I walk out past the state park and toward the A.T. the ice wrapped trees begin to break free.

crack  crack  crack  crack

Ice is falling to the ground, carrying tree branches and leaves along for the ride. Occasionally skimming my shoulder or even less occasionally achieving a direct hit on my head. Though it stings I can’t help but laugh – it’s become a game for us and adrenaline is pumping through my veins. How many times can we dodge an icicle?

 

Our hike continues – dodging falling objects and jumping puddles – and I am reminded why I enjoy being outside and exploring so much. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air”


Isn’t our world a beautiful thing? I am so thankful for little adventures and the chance to breath fresh air. It helps me reset my intentions and reminds me that all things are possible. The grandeur of nature humbles my struggles because my worries are insignificant when compared to the span of the horizon.

The constant pressures of life are big and I know mine aren’t decreasing but rather increasing in number. So what am I doing to handle the stress?

Building a bigger beaker

Meaning: Imagine measuring life using a beaker. Now fill it with all of your emotions – I’m mostly thinking of stress versus happiness. Depending on the size of your beaker your stress might take up 1/2 of the space (maybe even 3/4!). That doesn’t leave very much room for your happiness so instead of trying to decrease your stress, build a bigger beaker. The recipe for success?

  • Do more of the things that make you happy
  • Do less of the things that don’t

At the end of the day if something makes my heart feel full then it was good and I’m thankful for that.