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Autumnal Auburn Among Aching Anatomy

One of my childhood idols was Anne of Green Gables. I couldn't help the fact that I had four older sisters who just happened to have read every single one of the Anne books and knew the movies, every line, front to back. I grew up wanting to be like them; thus, I grew up wanting to be like Anne; wanting to be a dreamer, a writer, a hopeless romantic, and, of course, a red head.
Having beautiful red or auburn hair was something I wanted, but was told I could never have. As a natural toe head, a true platinum blonde, people were typically appalled by my claims that I wanted my hair to be something other than what it was. The rest of the world wants blonde hair-- or so I am told-- so what could I possibly be thinking by wanting hair of any other color when I had been blessed with the best of the best. According to my family and just about every one I know, such thoughts simply made me crazy. 
I wasn't crazy. I am not crazy.
It only took my 24 years to get up the guts to tell them they were wrong.
I firmly believe that Fall is the best time for change. So, like the leaves on the trees, I decided to change my color. I went auburn, and I have to say, it has been pretty awesome so far.

(1 hour after the hair dye magic took place)

I am no Anne of Green Gables, but I sure do like joining the ranks of wonderful red headed women in this world, even if only for a short period of time. I have even been recently nick-named "Red" at work, which although it isn't always fitting, makes me feel excited about my choice to make a fun change. Everyone else may want to be blonde, but I guess people always want what they don't have.

Among the fun and excitement of changing my hair, I also had the excitement of going to a Train concert with my best friend from college, and attending my closest cousin's wedding.
Becca and I bought tickets to see Train on a whim. It was only after we purchased the tickets that we realized the date of the concert conflicted with other things we had going on. It took a bit of finagling, and a lot of stress, but we finally worked it out so that we could both go to the concert, and it was definitely worth it. Train is great live; and I have high expectations, so that is saying something!

Concert time!

The night after the concert is when I got to go to my beautiful cousin Charity's wedding reception. As one of the youngest children of parents who are both the younger siblings in their own families, I don't have any cousins really close to my age. I have one cousin a couple older than me on my mom's side, and then two cousins who are quite a few years older than me on my dad's side. All my other cousins are significantly older. I have great relationships with all of them of course, but there is a special bond with those closest to me in age. Charity has always been such a good friend and example to me. I grew up getting all of her hand-me-down clothes, attending all of her dance recitals, hanging out with her at family parties, and even had my very first memorable car crash with her. She is a wonderfully, beautiful, talented, and smart woman and I feel so lucky to be related to her. Her wedding was amazing of course because she found a stellar man to spend her eternity with and together, they are sure to make an impact on the world.

Fun fact: I wore my current favorite dress from Anthropologie to the wedding, and ended up matching two of the bridesmaids. Charity and I both thought it was pretty funny. I guess we think alike!

Serenity and I were in charge of the Polaroid photos of guests.

Aside from all the fun I have been having this fall in the city and hanging out with family and friends, a great deal of fun has been found in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. It's no surprise that the mountains here feel like home in its most basic sense. I love the mountains, and in the fall, they call to me. I'll let the beauty they have to offer speak for itself.

When the air is crisp and chill and colors are everywhere, I tend to get really excited about going outside. The idea of running down the beautiful canyons, or through the mountainside neighborhoods is simply my idea of a good time. This fall however, I was more dedicated than normal to my running adventures. My mom and I signed up to run the Provo Canyon Halloween Haunted Half-Marathon, and as my fourth half-marathon, I intended to make it my best on yet. Although I still didn't train as most people would (I just don't like following training schedules), I made sure to run and get my mileage up pretty high before the race.
After some long runs with my mom, including a lovely run down Emigration Canyon followed by breakfast at Ruth's Diner, I was feeling pretty optimistic about the race. But, as luck would have it, I hurt my foot a week before the race. I am still unsure how exactly I hurt it, but there is a pretty good chance that a pair of bad high heels was involved. Whatever the cause, a week before the race, I was struck with the fear that I might be out of commission for a while.
Defeat is not something that I cope well with.
I gave myself a week of rest before the race, and then on race day, I woke up at 5:00am, drove to the parking lot where the buses load, and with my mom, headed to the starting line with fierce determination to finish this race no matter what.
As if by some miracle, my foot handled the run quite well. I hardly felt the need to walk during the race, and though my foot hurt and I was exhausted by the end, I finished with my best time ever and had an absolute blast along the way. Maybe my Batman costume gave me a bit of extra strength, or maybe my determination really is that powerful; but whatever it was, I am glad I had the strength to conquer my aching anatomy and finish better than strong.

True to my superhero form, I conquered one battle, and now I look forward to my next. With my auburn hair, and aching foot, and all the optimism I require, I have begun the preparation for my next challenge: the GRE.
I have started studying and I even bit the financial bullet and signed up by paying for the test. Hopefully, if I work hard enough, I will take it once and do my very best, thus ensuring my acceptance into all the graduate programs I desire.
Here's to looking at a winter full of studying!
Happy Halloween! 


Tacos and Celebrities

One of my favorite parts about having a "big-girl" job is going to lunch with my co-workers and friends. Lunch is, of course, something I always look forward to because it involves food; but it becomes so much more exciting when it includes time chatting with friends and getting out of the office to which I am constantly restricted.
My fabulous co-workers have been introducing me to many fabulous places in the Salt Lake Valley that I was previously unaware of. Having lived in Seattle for 4+ years, I consider myself a "foodie." I have high expectations when it comes to the food I am paying for. I love trying out new things an exploring new flavor combinations. I used to feel that Salt Lake had a very limited selection of edgy, new, and truly delectable restaurants; but my co-workers are proving otherwise.
One of my new favorite places, which has been added to our frequent visits list, is the Chow Truck. With a Portland-like vibe, the Chow Truck offers an explosion of flavor in every bit of tacos, sliders, and salads that they churn out to keep their traveling customer base happy.
On one of our recent visits to the Chow Truck, my co-workers and I were standing around in the sun, happily waiting for our food, when who should walk up to buy a couple of tacos? None other than Rimando. Yes, Nick Rimando from Real Salt Lake.
We were all slightly start struck. It took a minute for any of us to act, but my co-worker Cami wasn't about to let this opportunity go. After a brief pause, she walked up to him and said, "Hey Rimando. Can I buy your lunch for you?"
He was super nice about all of us talking to him while he waited for his food. He denied letting Cami buy his food for him-- in the most down to earth and laid back way possible-- but he let us take a quick picture with him before grabbing his food and heading out in his large white vehicle.
If I didn't have reasons to like the Chow Truck before, I certainly do now. Turns out, tacos fuel the football stars of the world as well as all of us average folks.

(I didn't get a picture with him, but I took this one of him with my co-worker) 


Kindred Spirits Together Again

There are people in this world who are just meant to be together. Best friends, sisters, soul-mates, or whatever the relationship happens to be, there are people who just make perfect sense together. In my life, the people who make perfect sense seem to be far and few between. I have my sisters of course, and my best friend from growing up, but nevertheless, true kindred spirits are a rare find for me. 
Perhaps I have a more strict definition of what it means to be a true kindred spirit; but then again, I have high expectations with most things. To me, a kindred spirit is a person who gives as much as they take in all things, especially love; who is true to themselves and never falters in kindness; who seeks adventure with the ones they love, but can also stand alone; who leaves a wake of brightness behind them and makes the world a better place. My former college roommate, and one of my few bosom friends is just such a kindred spirit.
Due to fate, and perhaps a plethora of other factors, my bosom friend Becca, who I haven't gotten much chance to see since we graduated college, just moved to Utah. She is only 30 minutes away from me now on a daily basis and I couldn't be happier about it. 
Together, we always share the best of times, and it has been no exception since her arrival here in Utah. Although we have shared a few adventures close to home in the Salt Lake Valley, the best of our recent adventures came this last weekend when she finally accompanied me to my cabin for a weekend of fun at Bear Lake. 
For all four years together at school, I talked non-stop about how she (and really all my friends) need to come to my cabin. It is a place which I happen to be slightly obsessed with. It is my favorite place on earth and I almost constantly have the desire to share it with others. With all of the build up from the past four years, I think she may have been as excited as I was to go up there together.
Although the weather wasn't the best due to the oncoming of fall, we managed to have a fabulous time in what little sunshine came our way as well as make the best of the cloud cover. So how did we spend the weekend? Well....

Cruisin' with the top down, chillin with no make-up on,

listening to the percussion of the winds and the meadows,

seeking beauty all around,

and never letting a moment pass unfulfilled.

I am so grateful for the wonderful kindred spirits in my life, and the things I learn from each one of them through all of our adventures; Becca in particular. I am so glad to be living in the same city as two of my bosom friends. Now I just have to find a way to convince the other two to move here as well; but all things happen in their time.
For now, I am content to enjoy being young, finding joy and beauty, and being grateful for the kindred spirits I have found.


No Pain, No Gain

Groggy-eyed and weary, I climbed out of bed after my mom gently woke me up from a mere 5 hours of sleep on Saturday morning at 4:00am. My body certainly didn't feel rested and the thought of returning to my bed after quietly brushing my teeth and changing into my running clothes was all too appealing. Nevertheless, I made my bed, grabbed my shoes, filled up my water bottle, and headed out the door with my mom. She drove while I flipped through upbeat oldie songs on my ipod and tried to jam out and keep us awake as we wound our way through the dark turns of Logan Canyon. 
The hour and a half drive from our cabin to the starting line seemed to take forever as my anticipation mounted. Once we arrived by the finish line, we parked our car as close as we could to where the buses pick up the thousands of crazy runners just like us. Tired and hungry, we each stuffed a Cliff Bar into our mouths as we made our way past the lines to the buses to pick up our race packets. We evaluated the goods of our packets, attached our bib numbers, made a quick bathroom stop, and then joined the line to board the buses. The short ride up the canyon to the starting line was over too quickly and then the waiting game began as we stood outside in the frigid  morning air debating which clothing items we would ditch in the clothing bus and which items we would be willing to wrap around our waists as we ran. We hit the bathroom lines two more times, just to be safe, and then headed up to the start line right before 7:00am.
The space around us became densely packed with people talking loudly with excitement, adjusting their ipods and head phones, and jumping up and down to keep their legs warm. My mom turned to me and said, "Good luck, see you at the bottom," and before I knew it, the gun had gone off and everybody was moving. We were off, ready to conquer the next 13.1 miles of road before us like the crazy people we are.

Despite my hip problems, I kept a great pace-- faster than my mom even-- for the first 6 miles; but by the time I passed the second water station, my mom had passed me up and my mind was completely focused on working through the pain of my grinding hip to keep my feet moving forward. Although the sporadic rain and cloud cover kept the temperatures pleasant, my pain made me want to give up at times. By mile 9, I had to stop for a bathroom break, stretch, and give my hip a minute to rest. The pain seemed to be worse than ever before, but I knew that my pace had been good and I was making my best time ever; I knew I had to push through to make my goal. Starting back into a running step was hard after my pit stop was difficult, but one of the good things about a race is that the people around you are there to encourage you. If I walk for a second, there is always someone there to come along and give you the motivation to pick up the pace once again.
By mile 11, all I could think was, "2 more miles, then my hip can break if it wants. Just keep going until then." Once mile 13 came along, I could see the finish line in the distance and my adrenaline kicked in like clockwork. A half a mile out from the finish, I saw my mom running towards me. She had finished already, but had come back to encourage me along. Once we got to the side barriers where the road is packed with race watchers, my mom ducked off the path to let me cross the finish line. A woman running next to me said that we should dig deep and sprint across, so we accelerated our footfalls, matched our rhythm, and ran towards the line like our lives depended on it. We crossed the line with smiles on our faces and then proceeded to hug like we were old friends; congratulating one another on reaching our goal and fighting through the pain. Once our medals had been placed around our necks, we said goodbye and parted ways. 

(I do not own this picture, it is a screen shot of an official race photo)

I wen to find my mom and together we joined the other tired runners as the kind volunteers served us Great Harvest Bread, chocolate milk, and fruit. Food always tastes better after running 13.1 miles. 
After checking our times to confirm that we had both done our best, my mom and I picked up our clothing bags and headed out. I was proud to have finished my third half-marathon, and my mom was proud to have beat her slower paces of recent years past. It was an excellent morning.

Due to the unfortunate state of the weather, we were unable to water ski upon our return to the cabin like we normally do. I am fully convinced that the best way to recover from a long run is to jump in the cold lake water and make use of a whole different set of muscles by water skiing and surfing all afternoon. This year was the first time I have ever been sore after a race and I know it must be because I was stuck inside all day long after the race.
Luckily, thanks to the generosity of my mom, my soreness was awarded with my favorite frosted cake as part of a late birthday celebration. I love Marzipan frosting! Eating a large slice of cake while watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with so many of the people I love was a great way to end my birthday week.

I endured the pain, and I have to say, I gained enough to make it worth it. Pride in a new self record, time with my mom, time with my family, and freaking Marzipan cake! Well worth it.


Internet Truths from the Late Night Hours

Sometimes, late at night, when I feel like the idea of sleep is a far off and foreign concept that my body is refusing to accept, or even attempt, I often take to exploring cheesy quizzes on the internet. Usually the quizzes involve testing my literary or film knowledge; particularly things relating to the Harry Potter series or the Disney Masterpiece Classics. Sometimes, however, I like to google for the most popular quizzes of the week and see how I fair on the things that the rest of the "Late night Googler" world does.
My most recent late night Google quiz involved asking the question, "Why am I still single?"
I am not overly concerned with my single status; in fact I am usually quite happy about it because of the freedom it allows me to do what I want when I want. However, like all young single adults, I often wonder at why I am still single when it often feels like something I haven't completely committed to choosing.
This was the internet's answer for why I am still single:

Why am I still single?

Hello to Ms. Independent! You are confident, happy, and you radiate. Tons of guys like you; you don't even know it. You probably just think they're your guy friends. You probably don't have any idea when a guy likes you; you spend so much time shining on in your own unique way, that when a guy likes you, he could beg and you still might not get it. You are brilliant and there is no one else in this world like you; you are probably the dream girl of many guys. But slow down to focus on them, and give them special attention, before you automatically decide that it's not worth your time. You'll find someone soon.

Take this quiz: Why am I still single?

The internet might not always be right, but I kind of like this answer-- even if it's not completely accurate-- so I think I will accept it for now; even if only to make myself feel better about wasting time on the internet instead of being productive during one of my insomniac moments.