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A Window's View

Back a while (I think I mentioned it), I took the opportunity to do a cross-country road trip with my sister Chelsi. It wasn't a long trip, full of countless stops at historical sights and back roads to get to the "hidden gems" of each unique state; I knew it wouldn't be when I agreed to go. It was more of a, drive as fast as you can across eight whole states because there are 4 kids in the car who aren't going to last more than two days in travel mode kind of trip. Although it wasn't exactly what I pictured my first cross-country road trip as being, it actually turned out to be a cool experience.
There is something to be said for the unique beauty of the vast spaces of land in this country and all of the areas that are not considered the "hip" or "happening" places. Witnessing the change; from dense forest trees, rolling hills, narrow roads, and old fashioned farms; to endless rows of corn, clear blue skies that seem to extend beyond the horizon, industrial farm equipment, and the occasional clump of houses; to desert-like rolling meadows of wild grasses and sage brush where the populous cows and horses claim the land; to the majestic mountains that rise abruptly out of the smooth open fields to stand tall as the conquering rock giants of the west; confirms my belief that this must be the most geographically diverse nation on earth. It is certainly one of the most beautiful.
Although the massive amounts of overproduced corn for the use of environmentally harmful products-- not to mention all of the unhealthy corn products we consume-- tends to put a slight damper on the open beauty that makes up nearly the entire middle potion of the country (about 5 states), I am very glad that I got to witness such a unique view of the country. Letting more than 2,000 miles pass by with a view limited to that of a car window flying down the highway at 80 miles per hour might not sound like an ideal vacation, but it certainly isn't one that should be overlooked. It was beautiful. Simply beautiful.
The next time I decide to take a road trip, I think I will leave out the four kids and try to visit some of those "hidden gems." For now however, I am satisfied to know that I had a great experience with my wonderful sister, her four kids, many mile of road, and a window with a view of the whole country!


Memories: Two Sisters and a Whole Slew of Fun

As Have I ever mentioned that I seriously love my family?!
I do. It's simply the truth. They are the most amazing people and my biggest influences!
In particular, I would like to mention how much I love my amazing eldest sister Brittani. Although there are almost 13 years between us, and she has lived in a different state than me for most of my life, she never ceases to be one of my best friends. From the time I was born, she and I had a special bond that has influenced me greatly in all that I am and all that I do.
I mention her today, because of the beautiful post she sent me on Facebook for my birthday; which reads as follows:

Happy birthday to the sunshine of my life! You were born when I was twelve, and have been the sunniest thing in our family ever since. Twenty-four favorite fun-facts/memories of you:
1. I tried to convince mom to name you Anika Aubrey. I'm glad she didn't listen to me.
2. You used to bring your stuffed animals in to snuggle with me.
3. You used to sneak into my bedroom to sleep ALL THE TIME. I loved it.
4. Mom and dad would let me go practically anywhere at any hour if I took you with me.
5. I used to choose your clothes and curl your hair for church on Sundays. Man, you had the cutest clothes.
6. I used to volunteer to "take you out" during sacrament meeting so I could go chat with friends in the foyer.
7. You could recite EVERY LINE of EVERY MOVIE by the time you were about 3. I guess mom's super-strict TV rules never trickled down to you.
8. You used to spend hours playing in the little puddles at Bear Lake, and yet you never seemed to get sunburned.
9. All my friends loved you.
10. We loved taking you to movies and to get frozen yogurt with you.
11. You had the cutest, most gravelly little voice.
12. You understand that Reading Books is serious business.
13. You understand that boys are not such serious business.
14. Your middle name is Ambition. I think. Or some other descriptor that fits you far less suitably.
15. You're the smartest sister. Don't tell the others I said so.
16. You're the most fun to talk about books with. And the only one who has a quick answer when I ask everyone about their best book of the year.
17. You're not afraid to show/share emotion. This world would be a lot more navigable if others followed your lead.
18. You always find the bright side of every situation, and you show it to others.
19. You have the best laugh.
20. You know how to make everyone else laugh.
21. You march to the tune of your own drummer (didn't you just watch Dead Poets Society? So did I--thought of you).
22. You don't waste (much) time on things that don't matter.
23. You work hard and you play hard.
24. You have great things ahead of you! I love watching them unfold.

end of facebook post

As the single subject of my college entrance essays five years ago, I think it is safe to say that my biggest sister has had an amazing influence on my life, and I am so thankful for her everyday!
Love you Brit!


Pitter Patter: Thoughts on Running as I prepare for my 3rd Half-Marathon

Running is just something that I do.
I am not crazy fast (unless sprinting a mile or less-- preferably less), and I do not by any means have the best endurance. I have never run more than 14 miles at one time and although I do hope to run at least one full marathon in my lifetime, I haven't worked up the will-power to do so... yet. Running is something that I do because I genuinely enjoy it. It is good exercise, of course, but in my world, there are a lot of things I could do and often choose to do besides running that are good exercise as well. Running to me isn't so much about the exercise part though. Although it is most certainly (especially when doing long distance runs) a strenuous physical activity, it is more about the mental side of things for me.
Anyone who has run more than about five miles will probably agree. A lot of what gets a person to run, and to keep running, is their mental ability to overcome thoughts of defeat, exhaustion, physical pains and aches, and the desire to just slow down and walk. Maybe it doesn't sound so hard, but as a person who, once upon a time, believed it was impossible to run more than two miles, I can definitely say that mental strength is at least half of the battle with running; maybe more.
I usually choose to run in the morning. I think my brain works better in the morning. When the air is crisp from a long desert night, and hardly anyone else is awake, it somehow becomes easier for my brain to overcome the negative thoughts that come along when trying to push my body to new limits. With just the sound of my feet lightly hitting the pavement one after the other, I find a pleasant rhythm that seems to put every part of my body into sync and before I know it, my brain is busy thinking through daily emotions and life problems while my body continues forward; almost as if propelled by the turning wheels in my head. In this way, I think running keeps me sane. Running gives my body the time it needs to reset itself and make sure all the different muscles, nerves, joints, etc. are still working together to keep me alive and functioning; it gives me the time I need to think, about everything that I spend my normal hours trying to ignore; it gives me a sense of accomplishment and strength; it makes me feel bold and outgoing; but most of all, it makes me feel like I am in control of my body and my life, which makes me happy.
This coming Saturday, I get to reassert my control with a 13.1 mile run surrounded by hundreds of other people who likely feel the same way I do about running. Although I don't typically like to run with tons of people all around me, there is something beautiful about so many individuals coming together and performing the same activity, mostly for the same purpose; especially when it is an activity not so easily accomplished. It may not be a Full-Marathon, but a Half-Marathon is no small feat; it takes just as much dedication, mental and physical strength, and will-power. Doing a Half-Marathon at the end of summer is something that I have begun to look forward to every year. It feels like the best way possible to bring a summer full of activity to a close and positively welcome the challenge of continuing to exercise and be active throughout the cold winter months.
I know that running isn't necessarily for everyone; but there was a time in my life when I thought that it wasn't for me, and now, looking back, I can't believe I didn't realize how beautiful something so simple and natural could be. I wish I had realized it sooner because that might mean that I would have already run a Full-Marathon and overcome a whole new level of mental and physical limits. I encourage anyone who is has a desire, or even a small interest in running to give it a try; it might turn out to be really worth it. Just remember, it will always be difficult for both the mind and the body, but the rewards will come; just keep putting one foot down in front of the other and let your body and mind find a rhythm to drive you forward.


Juicing the Day Away

No matter what, August always seems to be my month of "un-healthy" living. In general, I like to think I am a healthy person because I live by an "all things in moderation" motto. I am never afraid to indulge in a late night snack of ice-cream, fries, or other less than natural items; however, I refrain from doing so on an EVERYday basis and try to make sure to always counter such food-scapades with a good workout the following morning. I am a good girl, who tries to get my recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables; however, when August roles around, I become a snack food beast! Perhaps it is due to the fact that August is my birthday month, or the fact that the thought of Autumn gets my brain focused on all of the tasty flavors the late season has to offer; I'm not really sure; either way, my crap-food cravings increase almost ten fold.
This year, in an effort to break the cycle, as well a better help prepare myself for my third half-marathon which I will be running at the end of this month, I decided to try a one day juice cleanse.
I know what you are thinking. A juice cleanse, seriously? Haven't studies shown that those are bad for you?...Etc, Etc.
Well, before anybody gets to being judge-y, let me explain my thinking.
I know that right now, juice cleanses are the trendy thing to do to lose weight and such, but that isn't why I am doing it. I'm not trying to lose weight. I am trying to convince my body that it would rather have healthy, everyday foods rather than the processed junk available in air-tight sealed bags with extra cholesterol and trans fats that it seems to be craving. I am also trying to give my digestive system a chance to clean out any unwanted junk and in a sense "revitalize" the whole digestion process. I am only doing it for one day (which is the normal time of a monthly fast), and I am making sure to drink a well balanced variety of juices to make sure my body gets regular nutrients still.
Rather than taking on the hassle of buying a bunch of fruits and vegetables and trying to mix up a blend of drinkable juices throughout the day, I opted to buy some pre-made juices from a reputable company with more knowledge about balanced nutrition than I have stored in my noggin. After a little Google powered research, I decided to order from a local company called Just Organic Juice. You can look at their website and all they have to offer Here. They have a variety of options and juices to choose from; plus they deliver for free within a ten-mile radius (lucky me for living so close). I ordered their 1-Day cleanse plan which includes 6 different bottles of juices which they conveniently number label so you know the order in which to drink them. Each one is tasty and unique. The variety and sweet, yet healthy flavor combinations keep me interested, rather than bored, and-- now this is me being absolutely honest-- feeling full all day long.
Of course I am looking forward to the return of chewable food for breakfast tomorrow, but one day of just juice has actually proven to be rather wonderful. I feel healthy, I feel that my digestive system has received a much deserved break, and the best part; I haven't had a craving for fries, Hot Cheetos, or  any of my sweets vices. Overall, I'd say my little experiment went quite well it feels fairly beneficial.
I probably wouldn't recommend anything longer than a single day Juice Cleanse, but that might just be my munch-happy mouth talking. I'll admit it, I like being able to chew my food. So while I probably won't make juicing a weekly practice, I think that a day of just juice every couple of months or so might be just the thing to help anyone in  need of a jump-start into a healthier routine.


There's Nothing Wrong With Being Highly Selective...and Awesome

I have come to realize lately, that all of my friends from high school are married and having children. It's not a bad thing, it's great actually; the only problem is that it often leaves me with no one but married people to spend my time with. I have some single friends as well of course, but as one of the only single people left in a rather large group of friends that I grew up with, sometimes, what I like to call "single guilt" gets to me. In a nut shell, "single guilt," is the many emotions that come about when a single person spends too much time with married people, and not enough time with other happy single people. As an ode to myself, and other single people in my same situation, I have decided to write a (hopefully) comic description about what it is like to be one of the few single people in a group of married friends. To anyone out there in the same position as me, I hope this gives you a good laugh and lets you know you aren't alone...

When someone asks me why I am not currently dating someone, I'm just like:

But behind closed doors, it's like:

Good friends will try to tell me:

But I'm like: So.....

With the guys I do want to date, it's like:

Then of course when I get a chance to talk to one of them, I'm like:

I keep telling myself:

But when it doesn't work out and people try to ask me if I'm okay being alone, I'm just like:

And they can never really question that because: