The definition of commuting is “to travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back.” I, like millions of other Americans, commute to work everyday. When I first moved to Fort Collins, Colorado I lived less than a mile from work and rode my cruiser bike to work about 300 days of the year – this was not commuting (and this was glorious). When I moved to Colorado Springs I lived about eight miles from work and drove to work everyday (Colorado Springs is NOT a bike friendly city and I left my beloved cruiser bike in Fort Collins) – but I still didn’t consider this commuting because it was a fast and painless drive. THEN I decided to take a job in Denver and live in Colorado Springs. This 140+ miles and 3+ hours in the car every day was definitely a commute. I went to bed every night dreading the commute the next day. I could feel my body tense up as I slid in to driver’s seat every morning and there is nothing more depressing then leaving the house when it’s dark and pulling back in the driveway in the dark. As we planned for our move to Denver I found a new job and the commuting continued and once we settled in to our house in Lakewood I settled in to my daily 60 mile commute to and from work. It wasn’t horrible but it was definitely the part of my day I dreaded. Commuting stressed me out – the driver’s around me pissed me off and no one was as competent of a driver as I was. I regularly presented my middle finger to my fellow commuters and the language spewing out of my mouth would have made a sailor proud. The winter was the absolute worst. If it snowed I would dread the drive to work and all day all I could think about was the commute home at the end of the day then once arriving home for the evening I spent the rest of the night checking road conditions and praying for a snow day so I didn’t have to do it again.
Through an unexpected turn of events I transitioned to a new job in the heart of Denver. My 60 mile commute was slashed to about ten and I can get to work in 15-20 minutes. Because me and half of suburban Denver is all jamming on to the same highway to get in to heart of Denver everyday traffic is steady and some days it comes to a complete stop from time to time. I have witnessed several crashes, a loose dog running around the highway and the band bus for One Direction which all have slowed traffic to a turtle’s pace – but, the traffic has never bothered me because even on the worst of days I am still to work in a quarter of the time I was growing accustom to. This new, relaxed drive is awesome. I get to play the Mindbender along with my favorite radio dj’s, I get to mentally prepare myself for the day in front of me, but most importantly (and amusingly) I get to fully enjoy the jack assery of the other commuters. This week I have been flipped off when merging in to another lane at 10 mph (by a Texan) and then moments later had an older man (and I mean OLD) give me the most disturbing hand gesture I have ever seen while merging again. Today, I had another women screaming at me, while simultaneously shoving a breakfast burrito in to her fat face, because I stopped at yellow light (because I know from experience that at that particular light it would cost me $75 to blow through the intersection on a yellow light). These overly aggressive drivers might bother other drivers – but, not me – they are there for my amusement.
Looking back I am disappointed in myself for what an uptight, stressed commuter I use to be. But, I don’t think I would be in such a Zen commuting place like I am today without my previous experience. Now, I can just sit back and relax during my drive and continue to gather my amusing commuter stories to share with my family and friends.
I have never been a runner. I never wanted to run and really only thought I would need to run if I was being chased. That all changed this year.
When I was home for the holidays my mother-in-law asked me if I would run the Dirty Girl 5k with her in June 2013. Because I was all full of holiday cheer I agreed and when the holiday spirit passed I was in a full panic. I worked through all the possible excuses of why I couldn’t do it and was preparing to share the bad news when I decided that I should at least give running a chance before I totally flaked on my promise (and I had already paid the $75 registration fee so there was a pang of guilt for wasting money).
I downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my iPhone in April 2013 and dug through my old gym clothes looking for something that would be suitable to run in. The first day was pretty intimidating but just when I thought I couldn’t run another second it was time to walk and I was able to rest up before my next running cycle. I got home that first day feeling a little accomplished and that I might actually be able to do this. Three days a week I followed the program, each day increasing my running time and decreasing my walking time. I dreaded the day when I saw that I would do my regular 5 minute warm up and then run 30 MINUTES STRAIGHT! I couldn’t possibly run for 30 minutes straight! But, with the thought that the worse thing that could happen is that I would have to walk I started out on my first 30 minute run – and I DID IT! I ran for 30 minutes straight. The Couch to 5K program that I had been following so diligently had built my stamina so I was able to run for 30 minutes and over 3 miles and I was amazed!
Over the eight weeks I had been doing the Couch to 5K I was transformed in to a runner. I am not the fastest runner and I don’t have a runner’s body but I am doing something that I never would have thought I could ever do before. Running has improved my health, helped to shed some pounds, gave me a sense of accomplishment, and gives me time to just clear my mind, listen to my music and run.
In June 2013 I ran the Dirty Girl 5K with my mother-in-law and was so proud of myself for finishing the race. Again, I wasn’t the fastest runner and there were times I wasn’t even running, but I did every muddy obstacle and it felt great crossing the finish line and knowing that I was on my way to bigger and better things in the future. I excited to see what new trials and tribulations I have now that I am a runner.
It’s been 8 months since the New Year so now is a great time to look back at my New Year’s Resolutions and see what I need to work on for the rest of the year.
- Work out, eat right, and lose weight. (More specifically join Weight Watchers to eat right and local rec center to work out) - IN PROGRESS - I have a gym membership that I actually use on occasion, started running, am eating a little better and have lost 15 pounds – so I’d say I am on my way.
- Train for 5K – DONE! Trained from April-June 2013.
- Complete Dirty Girl 5K- DONE! Completed the Dirty Girl 5k near Pittsburgh, PA in June 2013.
- Have trip to Peru in 2014 booked by end of the 2013 – Revision – Book trip to IRELAND by the end of 2013. We were on our way to booking our trip to Peru when a certain college football team announced they will be starting their 2014 football season in Dublin, Ireland….WE ARE…PENN STATE and WE ARE…GOING TO IRELAND!!
- Hike a 14’er – DONE! Hiked Huron Peak on August 4, 2013.
- Learn to ski bumps – FAIL! The older I get the further it seems like I have to fall when skiing so I tend to play it safe (a broken arm a couple of seasons ago tends to make you more cautious). I played in the bumps at Winter Park but definitely did not learn how to ski them. There is always next ski season – which could, in Colorado, actually be later this year!
- Be more of an extrovert and get involved in the community and make new friends – IN PROGRESS – I got a new job where being an extrovert is an actual requirement – so slowly but surely I am cracking out of my shell.
- Read a book every month – Revision – Read ONE book this year. I have read every Newsweek, Time, 5280, Shape, OK!, Star, and Reader’s Digest magazine but I haven’t been able to read any entire book. I have great books that are sitting on my iPad waiting to take me on amazing adventures – I just haven’t actually read any of them.
- Cook something new at least twice a week – Revision – Cook (actually cook – take out does not constitute cooking) at home a minimum of twice a week. Looking back I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote this. To accomplish this we would first have to actually eat at home and secondly I would have to be a way less picky eater. So, baby steps on this one.
- Try more new foods – IN PROGRESS – I have tried some foods that I wouldn’t have ever considered trying before but I still have a long way to go in this category.
- Spend less, save more – IN PROGRESS – There is more in my savings today then there was at the beginning of the year, so that is progress in the right direction. I could however be a little less frivolous. But being frivolous can be so fun…
How are you doing on your resolutions?
When I was home for the holidays I heard more than one conversation about someone’s Bucket List and begin thinking that I needed my own Bucket List. A place to put down all the things I wanted to do in life and check them off as I completed them So…without further adieu…my Bucket List!
My Bucket List
- Go for a ride in a hot air balloon
- Bicycle through Europe and visit Paris
- Visit England and ride on a double decker bus
- Hike to Machu Picchu and travel through Peru
- Run a 5K (not for fitness reasons, just to prove to myself I can do it)
- Learn Spanish (preferably before traveling to Peru)
- Have my photos in an art gallery (and maybe even have someone buy something)
- Get my doctorate degree
- Start my own business
- Go ziplining
- Write a book
What’s on your bucket list?
My husband and I have been married for over 8 years and the question is always the same, when are you guys going to start having a family? When we answer them and tell them we are not planning on having children we get the polite “Ohhh…” Then if you quickly look at their face you can see one of two expressions – sadness or confusion. Behind the sadness is questions like: What is physically wrong with them? Can they not have children of their own? What kind of medical condition do they have? Is it him or is it her? The questions behind the confusion are: What is emotionally wrong with them? Children are the most wonderful gift in the world. They are so selfish.
It’s something we hardly ever talk about because it seems there are very few people that understand our decision. It’s something that quickly divides you from your friends, co-workers, and other random people you pass paths through the course of your life. Once it’s found out that you don’t have children and don’t have any plans to have children your opinion on a lot of subjects is no longer valid and you don’t have a right to speak about anything child related. Without children we couldn’t possibly understand the trials and tribulations those with kids are going through and so we are slowly replaced by new friends who they can have play dates with and commiserate over the difficulties of parenthood with. Conversations with new co-workers quickly fizzle when they learn you don’t have kids and making thirty-something friends is virtually impossible without tots in tow. We’ve had an awesome group of friends for our twenties but as we got older and moved several times and our friends dispersed across the United States and abroad it became more and more difficult to make new friends because everyone we come in contact with is busy with their children and dismiss us as potential friends because of out lack of children.
I don’t want to come off as a hateful person who doesn’t like children, because this is completely untrue. I love my niece and think she is pretty much the most awesome thing in the world and we have friends with the coolest kids I have ever met and they are the coolest parents I know – I just have no desire to have my own children and I don’t think I would be a particularly good parent. Nothing is physically wrong with us that prevents us from having children and we are not selfish for making this decision. We didn’t cave to social norms and do what I “should be doing” just because we have passed life milestones like graduating from college, getting a stable job, and getting married. My husband and I looked at our lives and decided together what was best for us. We want to continue with our education, be able to travel and see the world, and spoil our dogs like they are our children while also being able to lock them in their cages for the day and head to mountains skiing.
I know this may seem like a completely random post, but it’s just something that has been bothering me and I needed to purge it from my system. And now that I have…onward and upward!
It’s that time again, the time for New Years Resolutions. Honestly I haven’t taken the time to come up with New Years Resolutions for many years, but have decided that 2013 will different. 2013 is going to my year of change – physically, emotionally, and intellectually. I am going to take better care of myself – in every aspect.
- Work out, eat right, and lose weight. (More specifically join Weight Watchers to eat right and local rec center to work out)
- Train for 5K
- Complete Dirty Girl 5K
- Have trip to Peru in 2014 booked by end of the 2013
- Hike a 14’er
- Learn to ski bumps
- Be more of an extrovert and get involved in the community and make new friends
- Read a book every month
- Cook something new at least twice a week
- Try more new foods
- Spend less, save more
What are your New Years Resolutions and how likely are you to keep your resolutions?
“They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.” -Joseph V. Paterno
I have a confession, my life has been greatly influenced by a person I never met and unfortunately after today will never have the opportunity to meet. In the spring of 1999 I almost met this person who so significantly influenced by life, but when meeting them in the quad of East Halls on the Penn State campus I could do no more than smile shyly and whisper a polite “hello.” Hey, what would you do when you came face-to-face with a legend? The most amazing thing is my story is not that strange, there are hundreds of thousand of people equally influenced by this person they never personally met. That person is Joe Paterno.
I knew Joe Paterno before I even stepped foot on the University Park campus in the fall of 1998, he was part of my childhood and an even bigger part of my adulthood. As a daughter of another proud Penn Stater you just KNEW who Joe Paterno was. You watched games on tv, listened to them on the radio in the car when you couldn’t get them on the tv, listened to stories about life at Penn State in the 1960’s and proudly wore your Penn State t-shirts and you NEVER questioned why. There is the question of whether this love of Penn State and Joe Paterno was taught throughout childhood or a genetic code I was programmed with before I was even born, but either way you never questioned it.
Of course the name Joe Paterno is synonymous with Penn State football, but should be equally synonymous with legacy. Football and coaching may have been his life but he should be remembered for how he did it. By bringing the Grand Experiment to Penn State, Paterno firmly believed that academics were as important as athletics and while training world class athletes he was also graduating those same athletes with an education they could fall back on after the last football was thrown or the last run blocked. Joe Paterno is the definition of the Penn State legacy. He bled blue and white and he taught the Penn State community to do the same.
Every major life event memory I have is somehow intertwined with Joe Paterno and Penn State:
•my first football game September 5, 1998 vs. Southern Mississippi and every home game for the next five years (yes, I loved Penn State so much I chose the popular five year plan)
•my first taste of Peachy Paterno ice cream at the Creamery (which I will always call the Creamery)
•sitting in the Paterno wing of Pattee Library cramming for a test I wasn’t sure I could pass
•taking pictures at Beaver Stadium of Paterno’s 324th win in October of 2001 and finally (just a couple months before graduation) deciding what I wanted to do with my life
•having my boyfriend take me on a scavenger hunt to Beaver stadium and the Paterno statue before asking me to marry him
•starting our lives together and getting two dogs who we named Nittany and Paterno
I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Joe Paterno and Penn State and I am so glad I will never have to know.
Joe Paterno’s legacy will live on in my life and through everyone else who he has touched in his amazing 85 years of life.
WE ARE…and always will be…PENN STATE!