Monday, December 20, 2010

Always a groomsman, never a bride...

On Dec 18th a good friend of mine got married.

Rewind to December 8th, when he asked me to be a groomsman. Whoa

I don't want to bore anyone with the details or the day's events, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts from the day.

(thanks to some facebook stalking, I was able to find some pictures)

Groomsmen through my sunglasses.

I was honored to be able to go to the wedding. We mentioned it several times that weekend, but we've known each other for almost a decade now. And he's one of those people that I rarely see (every 1-3 years or so since high school has ended), but every time I do, it's like nothing has ever changed. And we've actually been able to get closer these last few years because his family moved to FL shortly after high school. So it's been great to reconnect with him and his entire family. I was excited when Mama V told me "you boys better keep in touch." I know I will- partially because his mom scares me a bit, but mostly because James has always been like a brother.

It was so much fun being a part (albeit a small one) of the wedding. This is the first time I've been in a wedding, and it was a blast! From hanging out with the friends and family, to being in the middle of the craziness, to the pictures, to picking up flowers the morning of the wedding in the rain, it was an adventure. There are so many moments that I will remember for a long time.

For me, one of my favorite things of the entire wedding weekend was being with James' family. (It still blows my mind to see how much his sisters have grown up since we were in high school, even though I've seen them a few times over the past 2 years...) James' family is the type of family that will wrestle around, constantly rip on each other and push each others' buttons, but then the next minute would be cuddled up on the couch watching movies together. Anyone would do anything for each other. When I envision the perfect family, and the type of family I hope to have in the future, theirs is pretty close to the top of the list of what I hope to have. Not even with just their own family. They will share the same amount of love with anyone, which has included me in a few cases. On a trip to check out USF before I even applied to grad schools, his family took me in, gave me a place to stay, took me to Universal, and made sure I had a great weekend (that having been the first time I saw his family in 5+ years). And when I was 1,500 miles away from my family for Thanksgiving last year, they made sure that I would not spend the day alone. If everyone had as much love as their entire family does, this world would be a much better place.

To James and Ashley,

Thank you for letting me be a part of your wedding, and I am excited to continue to be a part of the journey.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

5,000 Reasons to Smile

Last night, I ran my first 5K race ever.

In my neighborhood, they have an annual Jingle Bell Run, which starts at the St. Petersburg Pier, goes most of the way to my apartment, then back to the pier.

It started a little rocky. I was trying to find a place to stash the bag I brought, until luckily my friend Rachel agreed to take it while she was walking. As it was starting.

So I started running, but the first half mile consisted of weaving in and out of walkers, dogs, strollers, kids, people standing, etc. aaahhh! Not the most enjoyable experience of my life.

Once I could finally get going, it was fun. SO many people, but the atmosphere was great! There were bands playing Christmas music along the entire way (I would have appreciated it more if I didn't have my headphones blaring), everyone was dressed up in Christmas outfits. I had no idea that there were that many jingle bells on the entire planet.

At 1-1.5 I started to feel sluggish. I didn't think I could do it. Dodging people was exhausting. At 1.5-2 I started to catch a little bit of a second wind. 2-2.5 was a blast. 25-3 was all adrenaline and not quitting.

The best part was seeing Caitlin, Monica, Justin, and Amma waiting at the finish line. Gave them high fives (Justin actually gave me 2 high fives!) and crossed the finish line!

Total Distance: 3.26 miles
Total Time: 29:45
Pace: 9:07/mile

My legs actually felt amazing, I just have to work on endurance... oh well.

First race-


Thanks to Angela, Kyle, Jenna, Doug, Julia, Becca, Rachel, Juliann, Amma, Justin, Caitlin, and Monica for making this a truly amazing night!

Now, I look to the future- I'm down 25 lbs (even though it's not that noticeable yet...) so I will keep rocking that.

I plan on running a race every month next semester (and maybe all year depending on where I end up).

Many more good things to come... step at a time

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lessons from Tangled

The other day, my friends and I went to see Tangled.

If you haven't seen it, stop reading. Right now. Get in your car. Drive to the theater. Go!

There is one part in the movie that was really inspiring- right before Rapunzel saw the lanterns.

She was talking with Flynn, and was starting to get really nervous. When she realized she was finally going to see them, she was overcome with a lot of emotions. Their conversation went something like this (not the exact quote, but my hazy recollection... I'll update it when I see it again, because let's face it... I probably will):

I have been waiting for this moment my whole life. It's been my dream. What if it isn't as great as I imagined?

And what if it is? Then my dream is over and I'll never have it back.

Then you'll just have to find a new dream...

The reason why this hit me the way it did is because I've had that same thought. As long as I can remember, the #1 thing I've always wanted to do was go on an African safari. The wildlife, the scenery, the adventure- everything about it has always appealed to me. That's the number 1 thing I want to do before I die.

In January 2009, I went on a safari during my trip to Uganda. It was incredible! One of the best days of my life included a morning safari in vans and then an afternoon boat ride on the Nile. Words can not describe how amazing it was!

And then, just like that, it was over. Crossed off my list. And for the past (almost) 2 years, any time the topic has come up of "what do you want to do before you die?" the first words or thought is always "well, I already completed my #1."

What I realize, is that if I keep thinking this way, I will never be able to have as great of a moment for the rest of my life. My thinking about this will always be in the past. So, like my homegirl Rapunzel (voiced by the amazing Mandy Moore), I need to find a new #1. Things like getting married and being a dad will always be at the top, but I need to find that thing that motivates me- that I strive to accomplish.

That way, when I get to cross it off, my soul will truly be happy.

Oh yea, and go see Tangled!

Friday, November 26, 2010

See Elton John Perform Live

Sunday, November 21. 8PM. Lakeland, FL

My friends Amma, Rose, JD, and I drove to Lakeland to see Sir Elton John. Needless to say, we were beyond excited! Except it felt a little weird whenever anyone asked what I was doing Sunday night, and I just responded, "Going to see Elton John." I mean, who does that? Clearly, we do! And clearly, we had to listen to Elton John songs the entire way there.

First, JD made us stop at BD's Monglian Grill. I wouldn't be surprised if he was really looking forward to that more so than Elton. After a quick dinner, we had about an hour to kill. So we went to a book store. You know you're in grad school when your friends can spend around 45 minutes in a book store and LOVE it.

After the book store, we made a pit stop at Starbucks. Observation of the night: It is NEVER cold enough in Florida to warrant drinking hot cocoa. But it was still delicious!

Then... the show!

Rose had tipped us as to who was performing with him. His name is Leon Russell, and apparently he is legendary (look him up! He has a rockin' ZZTop look going).

Here was the order of the show: Elton came out long enough to prove that we all worship him, and he introduced Leon. Leon Played. Leon Left. Elton Played. Leon & Elton Played together. Leon Left. Elton Played.

I think the coolest thing about the entire show is the relationship between Elton & Leon. Leon has always been Elton John's idol and his inspiration. How cool is that? For somebody as much of a living legend as Elton is, it was really refreshing to see how much he admires Leon, and how mutually honored they both were to record an album and perform together. I'm sure Elton is living one of his dreams of playing with one of his main influences.

Leon was good! I can appreciate his legacy and I recognized one or two of his songs- "A Song for You" is a classic. He is definitely past his prime and his voice is fading, but he was fun to watch.

The two of them playing together was really special. Some of their songs were really good- I recommend "The Best Part of the Day," a song from their album together.

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But let me tell you, Elton was unbelievable. Easily one of the coolest concerts and best performances I have ever seen. For being 60+, that man can absolutely kill it! His songs made most people get up and start dancing. He can't hit the high notes like he used to, but his voice was so powerful! One of the favorites was "Rocket Man." Obviously a great song, but the best part was when he busted out into about a 10 minute improv solo. It was remarkable to watch. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." "Candle in the Wind." "Bennie & the Jets." "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." "Tiny Dancer." Hit after unbelievable hit. A few notable songs were left out. I thought he was going to end with "Crocodile Rock" to leave everyone on an amazing high. He didn't play it. His encore started with a solid seven minutes of him signing autographs and shaking the hands of those in the front row. Because he's Elton John.

The FUNNIEST part of the show was in between every song, he would stand up and start pointing at random people in the crowd. He seems to have this "I'm Elton John, I was freaking knighted. I can do whatever I want." And it was awesome! During his pointing parades, we would spit out the jokes. "I hope he points at me!" And my favorite- from Rose, "You get a car! You get a car! YOU get a car!"

His encore song was "Your Song." One of my favorite songs of all time. The four of us swayed back & forth belting the words out. Chills.

Words can not describe how amazing this show was.

"My gift is my song, and this one's for you."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So it begins...

Welcome to my brand new blog! I will use this site to keep you (and me) informed, motivated, and seeking adventure. I will not post the routine, ordinary, or mundane things. This is intended to capture the big moments. The once-in-a-lifetime moments. The unforgettable moments.

The moments that make life worth living.

Enjoy :)