Monday, April 29, 2013

That time I hailed a cab mid-race & other Nashville adventures

On Friday, five of us girls journeyed from Atlanta to Nashville to run the Country Music Half Marathon and have a girls' weekend.

My friend, Becca, and I left a bit earlier and made it into Nashville in time for the race expo where we were overwhelmed with free samples and picked up our race shirt and number. We also received bracelets to wear in honor of the Boston Marathon.

That evening, we met my high school friend, Kim, for dinner at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in East Nashville called The Wild Cow (which I kept mistakenly calling The Mad Cow all weekend, oops.) It was delicious despite the name mix-up!

Anna, Meredith, Lauren, me, and Becca in our corral before the race...
A little blurry because of the rain
Later that night the other three girls arrived and we hung out in the hotel room for a bit, mainly debating what to wear the next day, since rain showers were in the forecast. We didn't get much sleep since we had to wake up at 5am to get ready for the half marathon start at 7am.

When we headed downstairs the skies were pretty clear and it wasn't too cold. Unfortunately, this prevented us from dressing appropriately or wearing much (if any) rain gear. As we stood in our corral waiting for the race to start, the rain started coming down steadily. And didn't stop the entire day. With the rain, the temperatures also dropped and so we began the race shivering and already wet.

By mile 3 it was pretty much pouring and I gave up hope that it'd stop raining during the race. For about the first four miles, all five of us stayed together and it was fun to point out my old stomping grounds along the route.

When I finished this half marathon before, while I was in grad school at Vandy, I remembered the course being a whole lot hiller. The inclines were not nearly as bad this time though the course was the same, so I guess Atlanta's hills trained me well!

And since I'd already done this race, I wasn't concerned with my time or how well I did. After finding out a month ago that I was very anemic, my doctor said it wasn't healthy for me the run the entire 13.1 miles. So at about mile 4, Lauren and I slowed down our pace and let the other girls run on ahead. We ran 6 miles, and then I had to listen to my body and call it quits.

Our initial plan was to walk the second half of the race, but with the freezing rain and water gushing into our shoes it was miserable walking. At least running kept me somewhat warm, but walking made all of my joints stiff and fingers and toes numb. By mile 7 I was praying we'd see a cab, and at mile 8.5 I spotted one! Lauren jogged on ahead to claim it, and we collapsed inside... feeling no shame for heading back to the hotel. Our fingers could barely move to take off our race numbers and my teeth were chattering so badly. A hot shower never felt better!

The other girls finished strong despite the rain but then had to make the freezing 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel after the finish. They sure earned those medals!

Becca and me at Fido
After showers and hanging up our soaking clothes to dry, we headed to Fido's, a favorite spot of mine, for brunch. Omelets, sweet potato pancakes, hash browns, mimosas... we had it all! Then, back to the hotel for a glass of wine, relaxing, and naps.

That evening we had plans to go out in downtown Nashville but decided to just do drinks and dinner and keep it low key. It was a great time of girl bonding, and my college friend, Alex, joined us which was a blast!

First up was a quirky place in East Nashville called No. 308. The picture below doesn't do it justice but there were stuffed foxes with skeletons on top and mannequins in the display case behind our booth. Creepy! We hung out there while waiting for a table to open up at The Pharmacy, a very popular Burger Parlor and Beer Garden. We finally got a table on their quaint outside patio. And the food did not disappoint. Afterwards, we called it a night and all slept wonderfully.

Alex, me, and Anna at No. 308
Hard to see but this is the creepy display box behind our booth
On Sunday morning, we slept in before meeting up with Alex at a breakfast spot also in East Nashville (definitely the least touristy spot from the race crowds) called Sky Blue. For the first time, a little bit of sunshine was out so we took our chances and sat outside. And it was worth the gamble because the rain held and we finally got to hear some live music in Nashville! The food and coffee were all great too.

Bringing cowboy boots back to Atlanta
My boots from college... still wearing them proudly!
Before heading back to Atlanta, we made one last stop at Boot Country, where I got my cowboy boots freshman year of college. I wore that same pair all weekend, and the other girls decided that they wanted to take advantage of the buy 1 get 2 free deal too! Becca, Meredith, and Anna all ended up with the same pair of boots so the shopping was a success. And despite the rain, the girls' weekend was a huge success and wonderful time too!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Date Nights & Yard Days

This weekend included a lot of enjoying the outdoors, being active, spending time with friends, and a date night for John and me. Here's a recap of our weekend in pictures, including some delicious, quick, and summery recipes at the end!

Friday Night
We had a double date night with our friends, the Pursers, at Stone Summit, a large indoor rock climbing center.
Our friends are excellent rock climbers so they taught us some helpful tips,
like using your leg strength instead of your arms.
John did a lot of work in the yard, including mulching and weed-wacking. My contribution was planting herbs. Since my vegetable garden did not do well last year, I decided to try herbs this time around.
My herbs include: oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, lavender, sage, and tarragon.
Get ready for some recipes centered around herbs!
After church, lunch, and John's softball practice, some neighbors stopped by for wine on the front porch. Samantha, our next door neighbor's cat, was being adorable the entire time John and I were outside this weekend.

Samantha being cute at the top, and our pollen covered porch on the bottom. 

Sunday Night
John and I had a stay-in date night. He grocery shopped, prepped, and cooked all of the dinner for us, served on our nice china too! The meal included grilled romaine lettuce for course 1 (I made the salad dressing but that was my only contribution!), grilled watermelon with fresh parsley and jalapeno slices for course 2, and grilled mahi mahi with a spice seasoning and jalapenos/parsley for course 3. Delicious!!

To grill romaine lettuce, keep the leaves on the grill just until they get the beginning of grill marks.
To grill watermelon, keep the slices on for about 3 minutes per side, then flip over and transfer to top rack for about 2 more seconds.

All and all, a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What is passion?

One of my Student Launch Pad students recently commented that he’s not a very passionate person.

He made this remark as if some people are passionate and others just aren’t, putting himself in this second category.
For some students their passions are fundamental to their identity. Oftentimes these students have volunteered in the same organization for years or feel very connected to a cause. Others students, however, know their interests and hobbies but cannot articulate feeling passionate about anything.
In asking questions to this second group of students about how they define a passion, it seems that the main problem is an unclear understanding of what a “passion” really is.
Volunteering at a Malnutrition Center in Guatemala a couple summers ago

The word “passion” is thrown around in so many contexts that it becomes watered down. On one hand, students think that supporting the latest cause on social media with a thumbs up or re-tweet means that they are passionate about the issue. On the other side, students see charismatic spokespeople for a cause and think that they have to have this type of energy to be considered passionate.

The missing piece is engagement.

Students who are unaware of their passions often have not actively participated in and devoted themselves to an issue or interest.
Passions differ from hobbies in that passions generate powerful emotions and enthusiasm, bring purpose and joy to life, and cause you to devote yourself to a task, cause, or belief.
For instance, photography can be a hobby or a passion. If you enjoy taking pictures and maybe occasionally editing them and having them framed or put into a scrapbook, then photography is probably an interest or hobby for you. Or, do you see the world through a lens, not necessarily a physical camera lens, but does your joy of looking through a camera actually change the way you view the world? That is a passion.
See the difference? Passions actually shape how we engage with the world around us.
But what shapes our passions?
Please continue onto the Student Launch Pad blog to finish reading this blog post...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Living for a new day

With the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday and my grandfather's funeral today, I thought it only appropriate to reflect on the grief and confusion that we feel in this world.

Events like the Boston Marathon bring to the forefront the brokenness that we live in and call us to respond. We see neighbors or fellow citizens taking action and putting aside personal needs to generously give their support.

When sad or shocking things happen, we cry because we know the world is not meant to be this way. Yet we respond because we hope.

We hope in community. We hope in restoration. We have an Ultimate Hope.

"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"
Matthew 6:10
When we face hardships in life, it's easy to be anxious about the "whys" and "what ifs."

In a recent Tim Keller sermon, he defines "anxiety" as the Greek word meaning "drawn in opposite directions, divided into parts, to go to pieces because pulled apart in different directions." This is the word that Jesus uses to describe Martha when she is busying herself around the house: "You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary"  (Luke 10:38-42).

Rather than being distracted and pulled in all different directions, our peace and hope should have a sole focus: "one thing is necessary." Our one hope and supreme peace should be focused on God. 

We are able to live in the present, and practice presence, because we have a singular look at the future.

We are living for a new and glorious day.

We can continue responding to injustices that happen around us every day because of our ultimate hope and peace. Our assurance is in a new heaven that is coming to earth because God is making all things new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” -Revelation 21:1-5

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pursuing Excellence

I was recently listening to a podcast from Michael Hyatt entitled The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction. In the episode, he says, "If you have all three of these components—passion, competence, and a market—you experience satisfaction." 

So often, I think that we compartmentalize our lives, seeing formal schooling or training as building competence, finding our market in business only, and developing our passion in our free time. In a world where everything is so specialized, it can be easy to lose sight of the whole picture.

But I love this quote from James Michener because it blurs the lines between all aspects of how we live:

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both. ”

That one line - "He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does" - is critical to job satisfaction, and it is precisely what we discussed at the One2 Conference last week. 

If you strive to be an excellent learner, you will build competence because you will seek to learn in every situation, both at and outside of work. By building excellent relationships, you will also have a keen understanding of the market and what potential customers or clients need. And as you engage with others around your work and explore new ideas for excellence, your passion will grow. As this blog post from Brazen Careerist says, "Passion is nothing more than curiosity and engagement over time." 

When you pursue excellence, you don’t want to half-heartedly develop new skills or knowledge. You can’t be only partly passionate. And as Michael Hyatt says, you either know your market or you welcome obsoleteness.

So how can you pursue excellence today in one of these three areas – passion, competence, and market?

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.” –Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Monday, April 8, 2013

Uniting Work and Faith: One2 Conference

Last Thursday night, Student Launch Pad had the opportunity to be a part of the first annual One2 Conference. A group of students at the University of Georgia put the entire event on as a way to engage their peers in a practical conversation of how to unite faith and work.

The event was orchestrated and run as a professional conference, including guest speakers, a catered dinner and dessert, and conference materials with the One2 branding. 

The conference materials that each attendee received

As the Director of Student Coaching for Student Launch Pad, I was invited to be a table leader, responsible for leading and facilitating discussion with a group of students after the guest speakers.  

About 150 college students attended the conference, with 10 at my table. The students engaged in genuine dialogue about the nature of work and their internal conflicts of wanting to do meaningful work in the education, business, legal, or medical fields.

Austin Burkhart, Founder of One2 Conferences, concluding the evening

The first keynote speaker was Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics in Washington, D.C. His passion and expertise are in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling.

Over our catered dinner, the students at the Student Launch Pad table discussed a statistic that Mr. Whelchel mentioned: Baby Boomers’ number one fear is of public speaking, whereas 
Generation Y's number one fear is of leading a meaningless life. 

The students described feeling stuck and unable to make a decision on direction for their lives. Most students at the table had switched their majors 2-3 times, with one changing majors 6 times. All explained their indecisiveness as searching for what would provide the most meaning in their lives.

To continue reading about the conversations from the One2 Conference, please click here for the Student Launch Pad Blog. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Enjoy Exercising Again

It's no secret that I enjoy working out. I'm running my second half marathon in less than a month, and John and I spend beach vacations playing tennis, going for walks, and throwing the football.

However, recently my love of exercising has been waning. The past couple of months, I have not felt strong as I head out for runs or lift weights. Thankfully, I now know why what used to be an easy 5 mile run has become 2 miles of torture... a diagnosis of anemia.

Yet even though I have a reason behind feeling sluggish, it's still frustrating when something you loved now requires a lot of effort.

Below are my top tips for enjoying exercising again. I hope this list is helpful for those of you recovering from an injury or illness that has prevented you from exercising, those who have hit an exercise plateau, or those whose New Year's resolutions of exercising have derailed.

North Carolina hike

  1. Give yourself grace: It's fitting that one of my words for 2013 is grace. When you used to be able to perform at a certain level, it's frustrating not being able to achieve. Instead of focusing on the 5 miles that I used to run easily, I am allowing my body to workout at the level it's capable of right now.
  2. Celebrate: It's easy to beat yourself up about a workout that didn't go as well as planned. And comparison is the thief of joy, so don't compare today's workout with what you accomplished yesterday or last month. Instead, celebrate what you did today to live a healthy life and make yourself that much stronger.
  3. Switch things up: Since I was used to being a runner, I decided to try something I purposefully was a beginner at: yoga. Though I've done yoga before, I have finished a lot more yoga and pilates DVDs and online videos in the past month than ever before. If you're new at something, you are less concerned about comparing yourself to what you've accomplished previously (see #2 and #3).
  4. Workout with a friend (or workout alone): Are you used to working out alone? Maybe it's time to give yourself some motivation by socializing while working out. Or does working out with someone else cause you to compare your performance to theirs? Then exercise alone and be grateful for the time to think and be by yourself.
  5. What's your goal? If you typically don't set goals when working out, then you might be surprised to see how motivating a goal can be. Whether it's training for your first 5K race or setting of goal of lifting weights once a week, it can be fun to track your progress. I, on the other hand, always set goals and have detailed training plans for races. I've had to let those go during this period of recovery. And I've learned that for goal-oriented people like me, it's refreshing to exercise just for the sake of exercising. 

7 Most Common Resume Mistakes

I put this post up on the Student Launch Pad blog, and it generated a lot of attention. So I thought I'd add it here, in case someone missed it who could benefit from it.

The average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds looking at a resume, with one study finding that only 6.25 seconds were spent on average.
Since each second is precious, applicants do not have time to waste distracting recruiters with unorganized, hard to read layouts or glaring mistakes.

As a part of the Student Launch Pad program, I thoroughly review each student’s resume, and most commonly find these mistakes... 
To continue reading on for the 7 most common mistakes, please click here for the Student Launch Pad blog.