At the beginning of September my husband and I embarked on an adventure that I will never forget. We packed up our little car for a 16 day road trip down the west coast. Starting in Vancouver BC we stopped in; Cannon Beach OR, Florence OR, San Francisco CA, Santa Monica CA, Anaheim CA, Las Vegas NV and the odd small town in between. Reflecting back now, I feel as though this trip was such a surreal experience; from 200 million year old caves to hundreds of acres of sand dunes and some of the most famous cities in the world. I couldn’t even really capture some of the things we saw with my camera, you will definitely have to go see for yourself!
Having never quite done a trip like this before I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t without moments of disharmony that we learned to navigate the crazy streets of California, stayed in 24- bed dorm hostel rooms, thought we were going to end up homeless on more than one night and were almost stranded in the middle of NOWHERE. However, it is through these situations that we experienced a deeper trust in each other and a new sense of what is really important. The farther South we got, the more our luggage squished into four rolling wheels didn’t seem to matter much anymore. If our clothes got stolen I could always buy new ones, if our car blew up we could always fly home, even if we lost our passports I’m sure we would have figured it out! It was the adventure we were experiencing with each other, the life lessons we were learning and the people we were meeting that really mattered. I am quite sure that the new best form of marriage counseling is 5,367 km in a Toyota Yaris.
My husband and I spent last week at my most favorite place in the whole world; summer camp. Camp is a particularly special place for me for a few different reasons; It’s where my relationship with Jesus was rooted, It’s where I’ve met some of my most treasured friends from all over the world and, It’s where I met my husband when I was 11 years old.
When you arrive at camp everything about the world seems to fade away… quite literally. This place is in the middle of nowhere! There is no cell phone service, no wifi, no data connection and no radio. Once you turn into the camp driveway it’s like the mountain of stress that lingers over you just disappears and an overwhelming peace takes its place. Everything my brain seems to be attached to all the time suddenly doesn’t matter; no texting, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Email or Radio.
Instead of trying to keep up with the 452 acquaintances I have popping up in my newsfeed all day, I had the opportunity to genuinely love and get to know the friends around me. Instead of stressing through hours of waiting for someone to text me back, I got to sit down and have meaningful conversation with friends in the moment. Instead of talking over the music constantly playing at our house and in the car I got to give %100 of my attention to the person with whom I was speaking. And most significantly, instead of being distracted with electronics and making my husband ask for my attention in instances, it was simply there for him, all the time, for an entire week (and vice versa!)
I never considered myself or my husband to be excessive electronic users. However, I did notice an incredible difference when the electronics weren’t an option at all. My husband has always been good at creating situations for me where I have the gift of his complete attention, no distractions. It feels so wonderful knowing that out of the 463 people he could be interested in “creeping”, that he would choose me. Realizing this now, I want to make an extra effort to give these types of moments back to him, where he knows without a doubt that he is the only thing that holds my attention in that moment, no distractions, completely unplugged.
Last weekend I was encouraged by my mother-in-law to reflect on my life thus far on our earth and ask myself if I’m truly living out my days to their maximum potential. I realized that I have been living on this earth for a mere 7, 129 days. During this time I have learned to walk and talk, know right from wrong, treasure relationship with friends and family and become fairly educated. I’d like to think of myself as an engaged and important member of our world but in comparing my mere 7,129 days to human existence… it feels pretty insignificant and I am remarkably humbled.
I was enlightened to the idea that I have no idea how many days I have left here on earth. Even if I am blessed enough to live until I am 88, that is still only a mere 32, 120 days!! In light of humanity, that just does not seem like a whole lot of time to make a world changing, earth altering, universe shaking difference! I have a relentless goal to live out every ‘today’ in a way that makes a difference. To be a difference that changes the connotation of ‘YOLO’ from meaningless pleasure to vital importance. To be a difference that battles upstream in a society flowing downward and that holds humanity up to higher standards. To make a difference in anybody’s life would be an overwhelming success.
This morning I am only certain of today; my 7, 129th day of being alive. In this context it seems of the upmost importance that I make today count towards something that is bigger than me- to make a difference.
Over the past few days I have been trying to think of something significant to write and post… Although, I don’t feel like anything that significant has been happening to me lately.
The only real lessons I’ve learned in the last little while have been small;
- Always put parchment paper under chicken when it’s cooking or the marinade will never come off (a new cooking pan is now on my list)
- A coat rack hung beside the front door makes a world of difference.
- Colorful flowers really bring life into a kitchen
- Sometimes when life gets out of control and your house looks like the remains of World War III… It’s okay to ask for help. (This blessing award goes out to my little sister who helped me clean and reorganize my whole house after my midterm exams were over)
- My oven gets hotter on the left side then the right… useful information when making cookies
As I’m considering all the little lessons I’ve been learning every day, I’m realizing that it’s the little things I’ve been so appreciating lately; the little moments of sun, the budding flowers just starting to bloom, the few minutes of quiet time with my husband at night, hugging my dad when he comes to visit, calling my mom on her way home from work, taking . (I am fairly family orientated as you can tell).
When I’m concentrating on the little moments all of a sudden my world slows down and I am left in complete awe of the beauty of this life. It overwhelms my heart to really think about all the opportunities I’m given to love, learn, grow and teach; and I don’t want to miss a thing… not even the little things.
As many of you know, fitness and nutrition are a huge part of my life. My husband being a personal trainer; we spend a significant amount of time in the gym every day. I was thinking today about how all the crazy folk in the gym make up one of the most encouraging, accepting and motivating communities I’ve ever been a part of. With the hope of giving you a little motivation to hit the gym or push your goals even further, here are some of my favorite things about working out:
- A work out is always an accomplishment. No matter how absolutely terrible your day was, you can always feel proud and accomplished after hitting the gym. It is sometimes the only part of my day when I feel like I got anything productive done but, sometimes that’s all I need to feel proud of myself at the end of the day. I know that I worked hard for something that is bettering myself as a person and healthy for my body.
- You meet people who encourage you, push you and motivate you to better yourself. Once you get in the gym, you fall into a support system that holds you accountable and keeps you pushing forward. On those hard days, my gym friends pull out the greatness in me that I’m struggling to find. They’re always there to remind me that dreams and goals are limitless and there is always room for improvement.
- A workout is an outlet for stress. I find on those hard, frustrating days when nothing seems to be going right or maybe I’ve been in an argument with someone… I just bike it out. I’m always amazed with how my perspective changes after a really good bike! I get that adrenaline pumping and the bad part of my day doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
- You rock your body. I found that as soon as I started working out again after a significant amount of time off, I felt way more confident in myself right away. I know I’m making an effort to look after myself and be healthy. Investing myself into an active healthy lifestyle produces results I can be proud of!
- You can apply lessons about lifting weights to every area of your life. Working out is a process much like every other area of your life where you have a goal and dream. It takes work, patience, time, energy and devotion. You learn what it is to really work for something. You learn what it is to push through failures and off days. You’re determination and motivation to succeed increases and then you can reap the benefits of hard work.
And one of my personal favorites:
- You can eat more food. Actually, you’re greatly encouraged to eat more food when your metabolism picks up and you’re lifting every day. I love eating good healthy food and I can also feel good about eating a treat once in a while… or everyday if your me and have minimal self-control. Hehe
I encourage you to find a work out buddy and hit the gym. Even a few times a week makes a huge difference. Take care of your bodies friends; it’s the only place you have to live.
…. Do you even lift?
A few times over the past week I have been reminded of this story so I figured I’d share it;
When I think back to younger days, some of my most treasured childhood memories are working in the garage with my dad. Quite a few years ago now, my dad started building a Shelby Cobra from a kit and I spend quite a few hours helping him in the garage. That car turned into my outlet, especially after it was finished and driveable. Throughout high school whenever I got overwhelmed and stressed I would go for a drive with my dad. We drove all over the lower mainland together; the wind rushing over my head cleared my thoughts and rejuvenated me every time.
One day in particular, I was swamped with trying to study for finals and sorting through some drama going on with my friends and family. My dad noticed me stressing at the kitchen table and offered to take me for a drive. We drove for a long time and came across an area that was just being developed. With no one around, we raced down the newly paved road that would one day be lined by houses. All of a sudden, the road dipped and the car kind of flew for a moment and then crashed back down onto the pavement, sparks flew out from under the frame. My dad however, didn’t miss a beat. He continued down the road completely unfazed. I on the other hand, sat there quite stunned. I glanced over at my dad and asked “Isn’t that bad?” He glanced over at me with a sly smile on his face;
“We’re still rollin’.” Is all he said.
And that was all he needed to say. Without even realizing it my dad may have taught me one of the most memorable lessons. It also happened to be exactly what I needed to hear to get through that stressful day.
Sometimes things happen that scratch your paint, bend your fender or loosen your bolts. Life tries to get in the way and make you pull over. I learnt that day that I can choose not to let those uncontrollable situations slow me down. I’ve still got four wheels and a gas pedal; which is all I need to keep going.
I often feel that my husband and I subconsciously fall into a mundane pattern in our weekly schedule. There is so much we are trying to work towards and it manages to take over every minute of the week! It’s really easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when it feels like we’ll forever be stuck at the beginning; that beginning stage that requires an extra huge kick to get everything rolling.
My husband has been working especially hard lately at his dream to run a strength and conditioning business. It seems like a long time coming that this has been in the “dreaming” stage. Lately, he has been dreaming up a fitness clothing line… after a lot of research , time and hard work, I am so excited to celebrate with him the first shipment of Define Athletics ® clothing to our doorstep.
We sat on the floor in our little living room surrounded by little piles of sweaters, T-shirts and tank tops in slight disbelief; it’s a beautiful thing watching your dream become a reality. These boxes of clothes are a huge reminder that there is a bigger picture. All the time and energy does pay off and there will be a season when we will reap the benefits of “the beginning”, a season of success.