75 Creative Ways to Get Active

I think most of us can agree that exercising sucks. I would much rather watch a movie or read a book on a porch in the mountains. Also, I feel gross when I sweat. I know a lot of people love “getting their sweat on,” but I have curly hair, which isn’t really compatible with humidity, and sweating just creates my own little humidity cloud, which in turn frizzes my hair. So I’d rather not.

However, I can trick myself into exercising every now and then if it doesn’t feel so much like exercise and/or if I’m having too much fun to notice or care that I’m sweating. I absolutely do not do all of these things, but if you’re looking for fresh ideas, here you go:

75 Creative Ways to Get Active

  1. Work in your yard/garden.
  2. Clean your house (with music).
  3. Reorganize a room, and get rid of things you don’t need/want.
  4. Listen to music and dance while you’re getting ready in the morning.
  5. Family dance party!
  6. Use a bathroom on a different floor (at home or work). Drink a lot of water so you have to pee often. Take the stairs every time.
  7. Go to a playground and play. Seriously, do it.
  8. Join a silly sports league like dodgeball or kickball or hide and seek.
  9. Join a for real sports league like soccer or hockey.
  10. Climb a tree.
  11. Rearrange your furniture.
  12. Go swimming.
  13. Go kayaking (Lake Johnson will rent you a kayak for $5/hour).
  14. Go dancing! Try a kind of dance that’s new for you – shag, swing, salsa, square, contra. Hooboy contra dancing is a GREAT workout!
  15. Take advantage of your local hiking/walking trails. If you live in the Raleigh area, there are TONS to choose from.
  16. Stand up on public transportation. Try not to hold on (germs). Your muscles will have to work to keep you balanced and stable.
  17. Get off of public transportation a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
  18. Try martial arts!
  19. Try yoga!
  20. Try rock/wall climbing!
  21. Try Zumba!
  22. Try aerobic pole dancing! It’s seriously a thing, and it’s seriously a workout. It’s also seriously awkward, but if it sounds like fun to you, go for it!
  23. TRAMPOLINE!!
  24. Organize an elementary-school-style field day for your friends and neighbors. Include all the classics: 3-legged race, over/under, potato sack race, egg toss, etc.
  25. Play Duck Duck Goose
  26. Play Follow the Leader.
  27. Play Red Rover.
  28. Play any kind of tag.
  29. Play dodgeball.
  30. Play kickball.
  31. Arm wrestle.
  32. Leg wrestle.
  33. Stretch while you’re watching TV or talking on the phone.
  34. Do silly walks.
  35. Play tennis.
  36. Play in the sprinkler.
  37. Play Capture the Flag.
  38. Walk around the mall.
  39. Walk a dog.
  40. Toss a frisbee.
  41. Fly a kite.
  42. Go for a walk with a friend instead of going for coffee.
  43. Bring back the hacky sack!
  44. Play catch.
  45. Play Hopscotch.
  46. Play Foursquare.
  47. Play Simon Says.
  48. Sidewalk chalk someone’s driveway in the wee hours of the morning.
  49. Go for a romantic moonlit walk.
  50. Come back home and let one thing lead to another.
  51. Visit a museum. Look at everything. You’ll be walking around AND learning! Bonus!!
  52. Park in a central location when running errands that aren’t far apart, and walk to do each one.
  53. If you can see your destination from where you are, walk, don’t drive to it.
  54. Play charades.
  55. Jump rope.
  56. Photo scavenger hunt.
  57. Choreograph a dance to a song. Do it every time you hear that song.
  58. Hula hoop.
  59. Ping pong.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Play laser tag!
  62. Wash your car.
  63. “Walk to another city.” There are about 2,000 steps in a mile. Pick a “destination,” and figure out how many steps it would take you to walk there (literally). For example, it would take me about a million steps (2,000 steps x 500 miles) to get from my house to New York. Get a pedometer, and when you’ve walked enough steps to have reached your destination city, plan a real trip there!
  64. Pillow fight!
  65. Tickle fight!
  66. Play active video games like Wii Sports or Just Dance.
  67. Car dance.
  68. Clean out your garage, attic, or storage closet.
  69. Build a fort.
  70. Play putt-putt.
  71. Go to a zoo.
  72. Ride a horse.
  73. Get a pedometer for everyone in the house and see who can take the most steps each day.
  74. Act out your favorite scenes from books (including comic books) and movies. Make costumes and scenery and everything.
  75. Do a puppet show. Build the stage and make the puppets.

What else should we add to the list?

Annual Birthday Recap: 33

Man, this time last year, Will, Whitney and I were in Charleston so that Will could ask my dad if he could marry me, and Whitney could eat some she-crab soup. Both missions were successful.

Thirty-three was a pretty wild ride. Here’s a recap for you since I didn’t blog a lot:

Proposal

Will and I got engaged on March 27, so it was the first significant thing that happened to me at 33. You can read the story here if you want.

Engagement Photos

The timing on this was tricky because we had to do it before it got too hot and sticky in NC, and we had to do it at a time when Amaris was available, and we had to find a time when I wasn’t teaching, and we had to do it before I had my face cut all up. And although it was tricky, and it was starting to get hot and sticky, I think we got some really good shots. Here’s one of our favorites.

Photo by Amaris Fotographic
Photo by Amaris Fotographic – http://www.amarisfotographic.com/

Surgery on My Face

I had a little basal cell carcinoma on my forehead that was removed about 14 hours after our engagement photo session ended, so basically it was a good thing those pictures came out so good because for the next couple of weeks, I had a giant bandage on my forehead that looked sort of like a Pringle. We called me Pringle-face. It was not so pleasant, but it did provide me with one of my favorite student interactions of the year. The first day I walked into class without the Pringle bandage, one of my students said, with pleased surprise, “Hey teacher! You regrow your face!”

Moving

Dear God the moving. Always the moving. If we don’t have to move this year, that will be wonderful. If we do, we’re hiring people. We are too old to be doing it ourselves, and our friends are too old to be paid in pizza. And we live in a third-floor walk-up that actually requires you to go DOWN two floors before you go up three. I cringe just thinking about how many trips we took up and down those freaking stairs moving my stuff in over the course of about two weeks. And then I unpacked over the course of about three months. A little advice, friends. Hire movers. Then spend your energy on unpacking so that it all gets done in a shorter amount of time. I hate living so unsettled like that.

The Very Unfortunate Destruction of My Toe

The day after I moved, we helped some friends move, and in the course of that, I stubbed my toe worse than you can ever imagine stubbing a toe. When you stub your toe on the bed in the middle of the night, that is NOTHING. I won’t give you any details about it because I am a little queasy just thinking about it, but suffice it to say that I couldn’t wear anything but flip-flops for several weeks, and I couldn’t sleep with that foot under the covers for at least a month. Awesome.

Bridal Pictures

After my face had healed enough, I had another photo session. The timing of this one was also tricky. Amaris was getting ready to go to Italy, so we had to do it before that. But we had to wait for my face to mostly heal so I didn’t look like the bride of Frankenstein. Also, it was still really hot and sticky. And on the day of the photo shoot, it rained before we could get the outdoors portion of our plan done. We ended up going back to Amaris’s house, where we got one of my favorite shots of the whole day.

Photo by Amaris Fotographic
Photo by Amaris Fotographic – http://www.amarisfotographic.com/

Wedding Planning

We still wonder if it would have better just to elope. I enjoyed seeing everyone at the wedding, which I guess is why you have a wedding, but the whole thing exhausted and stressed me out more than I ever want to be exhausted or stressed out again. Maybe I shouldn’t have kids? I know there are people out there who really like that kind of stuff, but it was not my cup of tea at all. Never again.

WEDDING DAY!!!

That’s just nuts. We still can’t believe it’s real. We still feel very much like we felt at this moment:

Photo by Amaris Fotographic
Photo by Amaris Fotographic – http://www.amarisfotographic.com/

Honeymoon!

We spent our honeymoon in Gatlinburg and Asheville, and it was GLORIOUS! We read books, we slept a LOT (mostly because we both got sick, bless our hearts), we did the cheesiest tourist things you can imagine, including Ripley’s Believe It Or Not “Odditorium,” a sky lift, airbrushed t-shirt, and a caricature. The caricature is framed and hanging on our wall of random stuff, and I plan to make a throw pillow out of the t-shirt, maybe this summer when I have the time.

The Holidays

They happened. We spent our first married Thanksgiving here with Will’s family and our first married Christmas in Charleston with mine, and both were great. By that time, we had started to recover a little bit from the wedding, and we were able to enjoy just being off work and hanging out with family and friends.

This Semester

Y’all, this semester is beating me up every day like a mean, horrible bully. I have stress dreams about my students. I feel like I’m working all the time. I’m counting down to the day when these classes will end, and I’ll get to breathe again (52 days). Incidentally, I will also get to blog more when this semester ends, so we can look forward to that. Well, at least I can look forward to that. I won’t speak for you.

But no matter how hard it is, I get to come home every night to this sweet man, who cooks dinner for me, then snuggles with me while I fall into a coma for eight hours, then wakes me up in the morning, encourages me to get out of bed, and lovingly pours me a bowl of cereal when I’m running late from staying in the bed for too long.

Photo by Amaris Fotographic
Photo by Amaris Fotographic – http://www.amarisfotographic.com/

It’s been a tough, stressful, wonderful, exciting, amazing, sweet, crazy, incredible, exhausting, unbelievable year. I can’t wait to see what 34 brings!

Seriously, What Does Happen to a Dream Deferred?

As many of you know, from the summer of 2004 to the spring of 2012, rarely a day went by that I did not wish I lived in Europe. I pursued this dream down many an avenue, rabbit hole, sidewalk chalk painting and dark alley, and then one day, just like that, I knew my chasing was done. The next few months were pretty hard as I tried to figure out where that left me, and I thought a lot about the famous Langston Hughes poem.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Friends, never in all my BS-ing English lit days had I been able to truly understand this poem. I mean I got it. We all get it. Where do dreams go when you stop dreaming them? What happens to them? But when you’re in that place, that vacuum left in the departure of your deepest desire, you know it’s not the dream drying up – it’s you. You feel like the life is just oozing out of you, like you stink of the death of your dream, like a crust has formed over your heart, like you’re carrying the weight of your life that used to float along on hope. You feel like you just might explode.

I thought about this poem, this topic, a lot, and then very slowly, over the course of a few months, I stopped thinking about it so much. I was challenged by it again later when asked what my dreams for my life were, and at that point, I realized that new ones were starting to build up inside me. I would still love to live in Europe, and I would do it if the right opportunity presented itself, but I’m content just exactly where I am. Maybe for the first time ever.

And now when I look back on last spring (and the 8 years leading up to it), I am thankful – thankful for the dream and the adventures it gave me, thankful for the passion it stirred up within me, thankful for the people it led me across, thankful for the lessons I learned in pursuit of it.

Donald Miller’s latest blog post includes these lines:

There is no guarantee our dreams will come true. But is that the point of dreaming? Must our dreams be realized, or is the call to dream them in the first place? … We must understand the realization of the dream is not so much the gift as the dream itself.

So keep on dreaming, kids. Whether you get there or not, it’s totally worth it. And if you can stop off at my place on the way for a night, I’ll make you some tea, and we’ll choreograph a dance.

This One Goes Out to A.C. (Not Slater)

Dear Quarter-Life Crisis Girl,

You’re 25ish, which means you’ve been out of college just long enough for you to feel like you should have it all figured out, and just not long enough for you to actually have it figured out. Actually, no. That’s not even true. I’m 32, and I’m starting to think no one ever really has it figured out. I think the best we can do is be ok with not having it all figured out and just enjoy it.

Here are some things you should be enjoying right now:

  • Your ass has not yet slid down the backs of your legs.
  • You still get a youth discount at hostels and museums all over Europe. GO TO EUROPE.
  • Your face skin is all taut and bright. Moisturize that mess. (I was a Mary Kay lady fresh out of college – weird, I know – and that was the best lesson I learned, and probably why people still don’t believe I’m over 30. Also I got good genes, but don’t let that minimize the importance of moisturization.)
  • You have a LOT of energy. Run. Play. Frolic. Fly kites. Dance at concerts late into the night on a school night. I can’t think of any more fun things. Just the thought of that last one wore me out.
  • You are fearless. I know you feel a lot of fear right now about the future, about who you are and who you’re becoming, about what you’re supposed to do in life, about what your passions are and how you’re supposed to use them, about what people will think of you if you do something crazy. But the truth is you still feel invincible enough to do the crazy things, and I say do them. Never stop doing them. Take opportunities when they come, and love every minute of it. Run a marathon, go skydiving, backpack Europe by yourself, try to eat a spoonful of cinnamon, do open-mic nights, teach English in Taiwan, participate in a flash mob. If it intrigues you, excites you, makes you feel alive, or scares the bajeebers out of you, do it. And remember the feeling.
  • You have an incredible amount of freedom. This is for those of you who are not married yet. Do you realize how much freedom you have to do…whatever the heck you want? Girl. DO IT. Live in a big city just to say you did. Go to grad school. Take road trips with your friends. Take road trips alone. Send postcards from all the random little towns you stop in for gas or Taco Bell. Drive to the beach just to watch the sunrise. Have sleep-overs. Invite me.
  • Jesus likes you. You can always enjoy this, but I think it’s important to hear when you feel like you’re doing everything in life wrong. God’s not just a cosmic score-keeper marking down all your successes and failures and making you feel guilty about the latter. And he’s not like your mom, who has to like you no matter what. He straight-up, legitimately likes you and thinks you’re awesome and is proud of you.
  • Boys make you feel giddy. Not gonna lie – boys still make me giddy, but married people seem to think this is just a phase I’m still in, so let’s all enjoy the giddiness while we’ve still got it, eh? Crushes are fun (until they’re crushing, but even then, you get to enjoy listening to really horribly sad music, eating mint-chocolate-chip ice cream and watching The Three Amigos with me, sooooo…win-win). I just looked back at my own blog from when I was 25, and I wrote a LOT about boys. And it was fun.
  • There are lots of people to love. And loving them is not always fun, but it’s worth it.
  • You fall in love really easily. Maybe not with people, but with restaurants, music, jobs (that don’t suck), activities, movies, places, ideas, books, catch phrases, oddities, stories, plans, beers, hobbies, you name it. At one point, when I was younger than you and not as wise, I said I didn’t want to throw the L-word around flippantly because I was taking love REALLY seriously and wanted to give it the weight it deserved. Now I think I probably missed out on experiencing some love because I was afraid of calling it that. I was afraid to really enjoy things because I thought I needed to be more serious and grown up.

Don’t do what I did, Quarter-Life Crisis Girl. Love the crap out of life.

I sometimes look back on my time in New York and think about how much fun it was, how I was always having adventures and seeing crazy things, but really, my life wasn’t that much different. I worked, I went to school, I went to the movies, I hung out with friends in my living room. It wasn’t all that exciting. I was just living there with a greater sense of wonder and expectancy. I was open to adventure, so I had adventure. I was captivated by love, so I felt it a lot. I was curious about people, so I was amused more often than I was annoyed.

I think these are things we can cultivate and continue throughout our lives. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m a complete lunatic, maybe it will all come crashing down around me. I don’t know, but I’m having fun. Grab a sparkler and join me!

Life After College

This is a bit of a follow-up to last week’s letter to college girls. Today, I’d like to talk specifically to college seniors and recent grads. Let me just warn you up front. It’s going to be pretty grim, but I hope you’ll read all the way to the end because there is a light at the end of the crap tunnel. I’m going to start with the seniors, then talk through my year-after-college experience, then go back to offer some advice to both seniors and fresh graduates. Here we go.

Get pumped, y’all! It’s your SENIOR YEAR!!!! Raise your hand if you’ve got the Senioritis already. Yeah, I remember. I want to walk you through what you’re going to experience over the next two years, and recent grads, back me up.

Excitement

And why not? You’ve been working your butt off for a long time to get here. You’ve been in school since you were five, and now FINALLY! You’ll be finished with it all and can move on to living LIFE. But first, you’ve got some partying to do. Maybe your partying involves loud noises and Solo cups, or maybe it involves sleep-overs and silly, sober shenanigans. Either way, you want this whole college thing to end with a bang. As well it should. Live it up, still-in-college girl. And take lots of pictures while you’re at it.

Worry

At some point your senior year, you’ll start to realize that it’s all ending, and that’s not just exciting. It’s kind of terrifying. “Oh my gosh,” you’ll think, “I’m only 21. Do they seriously let 21-year-olds live on their own and have jobs and pay bills all by themselves?” Some of you will add, “Oh my gosh, I’m getting married. Do they seriously let 22-year-olds be married and live on their own together? To fend for themselves? And buy HOUSES?” Lucky for you, you’re 21 (or 22), and at that age, you still feel invincible enough to keep groping your way forward in the world pretty optimistically. This wears off a bit later on, which I think is a bit of a tragedy because I really want to learn to skateboard, but I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood), and I don’t want to start now.

So you’ll get flashes of worry, but usually the excitement and just total lack of foresight will wash them away, and you’ll be back to the partying.

Graduation!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! YOU MADE IT!!!!!!! I remember two moments from my last week of college very clearly.

  • The first is me walking home from turning in my last college assignment ever. All my exams were over, and I’d just turned in my last paper. And I DANCED down the street and up the hill to my dorm.
  • The second is me standing backstage at my departmental graduation. They handed everyone an index card and told us to write down what we wanted the announcer to say about us as we walked across the stage – people we wanted to thank, future plans, etc. And I was all, “Wait, wait, wait. We’re supposed to have a PLAN?! What the cuss do I know about who I am and what I’m going to do and what they should say about me?” Here’s what I wrote (and I am not even kidding):

“Following a two-month mission trip to Honduras, Beth plans to pursue a career as an educational singer/songwriter.”

BECAUSE I HAD NO PLAN FOR AFTER THE SUMMER. None. Whatsoever. No job, no clue what kind of job I wanted, no clue where I wanted to live or who or what I wanted to be. And in that moment, holding that index card, it was like I was holding the blank page on which I would write the rest of my life, but I had suddenly become illiterate.

Ever-so-Brief Respite from Reality

Maybe you’ll get the summer to rest and sort some things out. Maybe you’ll get to work with deaf kids in Honduras, or maybe you’ll backpack through Europe (I wholeheartedly recommend both). Maybe you’ll move back home and let your mom do your laundry while you figure it out and look for a job. Or maybe you’re one of those on-the-ball people who has a job lined up already before graduation. You won’t get a vacation, but you will get a short honeymoon phase in which “real life” is as awesome as you always imagined it to be. Enjoy this time, however it looks. Enjoy it as much as possible.

Total Crap Time

My whole first year out of college was awful. There were good things – I was living with my sister, which was a lot of fun, I took a stab at what I wanted to do and got into the grad school I wanted, and I developed a few really important friendships – but I remember that year as being just terrible. I cried a lot, I felt very alone and confused, and worst of all, I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard. I’ve had several years to work on it, though, and now I can explain it to you.

My goal in this is not to scare or depress you. I want you to know what’s coming so that you feel less alone and confused than I did, which might keep you from crying as much as I did. I can’t guarantee that, but I also want you to know that when you’re in this time, if you need to cry, you can call me to do it. That way, at least you won’t be alone.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • You don’t know who you are any more. Your whole life, you’ve been a student. I went to preschool, then K-12, then college. I didn’t know anything else, but I knew REALLY well how to be a student, and I was good at it. Then suddenly, I was a barista, and I didn’t know how to be a barista, and I wasn’t sure I was any good at it, and I kind of hated it because they made me wear polo shirts and khakis (double barf). Without realizing it, I had based my entire identity and self-worth on who I was as a student, so when I wasn’t a student anymore, I was lost highly suspicious of my value.
  • You don’t know how to relate to people because your identity is lost. It’s like you’re looking at a big, crazy, people/relationships map, but there’s no X telling you, “You are here.” When you don’t know who YOU are, you don’t know how to be you with anyone else. Every relationship is confusing and hard.
  • You don’t know who God is. You’ve heard all your life (and you believe) that God doesn’t change, and it’s true, but in the Old Testament, people are all the time giving God new names based on how they’ve just experienced him. Hagar calls him “God who sees,” David calls him “God my shepherd,” and Abraham calls him “the Lord will provide.” Through different experiences, people see different aspects of God’s character. So far, you’ve experienced God as a student, and you’ve probably seen many aspects of his character, but now you feel like most of those don’t apply, and you’re left wondering if this God who doesn’t change is still relevant now that you have.
  • Your friends have scattered. Remember when I told you to enjoy college because you get to see your buddies all the time? Here’s why I told you that. Either you are going to move or your people are. You’ll likely know a few folks wherever you are, but it just won’t be the same. People are meant to be with other people, and all the people who know you and love you best will be somewhere else. Total crap time.

Figuring It Out

Friends, it gets better. Just hang in there. Making friends outside of school will be weird for a while because you’re still figuring out who you are, but it is doable because your core identity hasn’t actually changed, and the people you meet will see who you are and like you even while you’re still trying to work it all out. You, like the people in the Old Testament, will experience new aspects of God if you keep looking for him, and you’ll realize that he doesn’t change, but there’s SO much more of him than you ever imagined. And at some point, you’ll get a spark of revelation about what you want to do with your life, and you’ll move forward with courage and ambition because you’re excited about what lies ahead.

*   *   *   *   *

SO.

If you’re just out of college, and you are currently in “Total Crap Time,” seriously, it does get better. Email me if you want to chat. You can come over for dinner and alcohol, and I’ll look you in the eye and tell you it gets better. It really does. But in the meantime, it’s ok for it to be crap. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

And if you’re a college senior, I have a few ideas for how to make “Total Crap Time” just “Crap Time.” I have a feeling it’s going to be hard either way, but still, these may help:

  • Make a plan for after college as early as possible. I know this is going to be hard for some of you. My college advisor asked me once what my 5-year plan was, and I laughed at her. I’m still not good at long-term planning, and I think that might just be how I’m wired, but the earlier you can make a plan, the better-off you’ll be for the next tip.
  • Start investing now in relationships/organizations/activities you’ll want to be involved with after college. It will make your transition into the real world MUCH easier if you’ve already got a toe (or foot or whole leg) in while the rest of you finishes up school. If you’re going to stay in the city where your college is, get involved in non-university things with non-studenty people. If you’re going to move, go ahead and establish contacts, get in touch with Meet-Up group organizers, ask around about the best places to live, get people to keep their ears open for possible roommates for you. Finish strong where you are, and enjoy the present, but also, start moving your life (even if it’s just mentally) out of college and into your future world so that when you get there, you can hit the ground running.
  • Seriously consider who you are, completely apart from school. How do you relate to people? How do you express love? What makes you really excited? What makes you really angry? What part do you play in your family/your group of friends/the world? What do you wish existed in the world? What do you wish didn’t exist? What makes you get off the couch or out of bed willingly, eagerly?

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you, 21-23-year-old girl (or guy?). Well, that’s all I have in writing. I also have the aforementioned dinner and liquor, and I also have The Three Amigos, which makes everything better. Come on over.

To College Girls Everywhere

Dear College Girl,

I see you on campus every day, and as a woman who’s been where you are, lived through it, and gotten over the bitterness, there are a few things I’d like to tell you.

  1. Enjoy this time in your life when you can spend all day in a t-shirt and the bottoms of your choice. I see you in jeans (my personal preference), skirts and running shorts, and I can tell you that unless you become a gym teacher, you probably won’t get to wear that outfit on a daily basis for much longer. So appreciate it while you can. Wake up in the morning, throw on your sneaks, put that hair in a bun, and be off with you! LOVE the fact that you literally don’t have to change out of your jabambas to go to class. OWN it. Because a day is coming (and that right soon) when you’ll be frantically shopping five minutes before the mall closes for professional shoes that don’t make you want to punch a baby. Oh, college girl, if only I could wear my flip-flops or my tennis shoes to work every day. Hang on to that for as long as possible.
  2. Enjoy this time in your life when you live, eat, hang out and go to class with your friends. When you leave college, it takes a lot more effort to see these people. It takes even more effort to meet new ones. It can be done, but right now, you are pretty much on top of each other all the time. You couldn’t get away from them if you wanted to. I know because I remember times in college when I wanted to get away from them, and I couldn’t. Take the time you need for yourself, but don’t take for granted the fact that you have all your buddies by your side.
  3. You are probably not fat. There are, of course, those among us who will slim down as adults and look back on college as their “heavy years,” but the majority of us are just spreading as we age. I look back at pictures of myself from late high school/early college – an era in which I thought I was huge – and WISH I could be that size again. Your tight little buns and perky boobs are just waiting for gravity to find them, and it is going to happen, so college girl, work those tiny shorts while you can because in ten years, you’ll be wearing biker shorts underneath your work skirts to prevent the chub rub.
  4. College boys are stupid. Ok, maybe not ALL college boys, but I think most of the grown men I know would look back at their college years and agree that they were stupid then. Fair warning: They will always find farting hilarious. I know, I know. I don’t understand it either, but it never changes. It’s like toilet humor is just hard-wired into them. Maybe it comes with the Y chromosome. But all this to say that that boy you’re agonizing over? He’s stupid. If he treats you badly or doesn’t recognize your awesomeness or doesn’t acknowledge you at all, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you. It’s because he’s an idiot.
  5. You are awesome. You. That other girl is awesome too, but she’s not awesome like you are, and vice versa. If you’re not filling the spot the world holds for you because you’re trying to be someone else, the world is out of whack. Be yourself. We need you.
  6. “Why?” is a great question. Why do you want that jacket? Why did that person upset you? Why do you feel like you can’t talk to so-and-so about such-and-such? Answering the question every time will help you deal with people in a kinder, more gracious way every time. It will also prevent you from buying a bunch of unnecessary crap (though probably not all of it), and it will help you express yourself and your needs.
  7. Find non-college students. Be friends with them. Maybe you can babysit for a local family, and maybe they’ll occasionally have you over for dinner. Babies, by the way, are also awesome. Hang out with them whenever you can. They’re cute. They’ll love you. Their parents will love it. Everyone wins.
  8. Leave campus. Go to the movies, go to the beach, go to a restaurant, go home, go anywhere at least once a month.
  9. Work that student ID!! College girl, do you know how much free stuff you can get with a college ID? Me neither. Find out. If nothing else, go see as many movies as you can with that bad boy because hoo-boy, they ain’t cheap without one. You can also get reduced rates on travel and sometimes free entrance to museums and zoos and stuff.
  10. Study abroad. A friend asked me last weekend what I would tell myself if I could go back ten years and talk to 22-year-old me. I said 22 was about the time I started getting things right, but if I could go back and talk to 18-year-old me, I’d tell her to study abroad. It’s my only real regret from college. Do it. Do it now. Go. Seriously. For me.

There’s more we could talk about, but ten is a nice round number, so that’s all for now. If you have any questions, I’d love to have you over for dinner. I don’t have any babies for you to squeeze, but I will let you observe the saggy nature of my buttocks while I cook you fresh foods in natural substances (as opposed to questionable produce in Golden Griddle mystery cooking goo). Let me know if you’re interested.

Love,
Beth

Nostalgia

Hey remember a month ago when I blogged like twice?? Sigh. Yeah, that was nice. Here are some things I’ve been doing/thinking about since then:

  • I went kayaking in Asheville last weekend. It was beautiful, I got to see some good friends, and I spent all my money eating delicious food (and maybe also on a teeny-tiny little visit to Urban Outfitters). I’d like to go kayaking more often. I would not like to get sunburnt every time. Guess I should work on my base tan.
  • Whitney and I stopped at pretty much every Lowe’s and Home Depot off I-40 on the way home and lifted a bunch of paint sample cards (I want to call them paint chips, but that doesn’t feel right. Is that right?) to spruce up our accent wall. If you’d like to come over and get your hot glue on, feel free. We’re also thinking of having a house-warming party wherein our guests would help us with this project. Don’t miss it! This was a pretty fun way to break up a four-hour drive. At the first couple of stores, we both kept a watchful eye out for the employees working the paint department, feeling like we were doing something dangerous, but by the time we got to Greensboro, we were brazenly stuffing our bags with the things and commenting freely on the colors we were taking. No one seemed to care.
  • I got a new computer because I filled up my old one. Filled it full. It literally has maybe room enough for another album’s worth of songs. I haven’t named the new one yet. Any suggestions?
  • I’m teaching a new class at NC State, which is pretty hit or miss. I’ve never taught this class before, and I’ve never been given textbooks to use before or had to make a syllabus, so it’s taking a little while to figure out. What I’m learning is that 18-year-olds are lazy, but they think they’re really busy and super cool, I should rely on my own teaching smarts and lean on textbooks for idea-sparks and support, cultural differences are probably more difficult for the students but far more annoying for the teacher, and a two-hour class FLIES by when you’re used to four-hour classes. So basically, there are pros and cons, but I think once I figure out how to add my own flair to the class, it’ll be awesome.
  • In the past week, I’ve been a part of or witnessed at least four conversations that went something like this:
    A: I really want to be more ________.
    B: Um, you are already totally ________.
    This has got me very curious. I’m wondering why we feel like we’re not enough of things we already are, if the reason we notice the lack of these qualities is that we also (maybe subconsciously) notice their presence, how we go about becoming more of who we are, and how we can help each other along. Your thoughts are welcome.
  • I can’t WAIT for fall. Oh my gosh. I just want to run through a big shower of red and orange leaves while wearing a scarf! That’s all I want.
  • We got a basil plant. It’s dying. How do you keep basil from dying?
  • I’ve read about six books this summer, which is not much for some of you, but for me, that’s a lot. I needed to find one to read with my class this semester, though, so I had to plow through a few pretty quickly. Let’s see, there was Godric, which wasn’t an option for class, but it is lovely. It just has some really nice lines in it – the kinds of phrases that you want to turn over and over in your head and hang on to in your life. Then there was The Giver, Playing for Pizza, The Kite Runner, Holes, and Hoot. I think we’re going to read Hoot in class, but next up is The Book Thief. If you’d like a review of any of these titles, let me know. I’d be happy to oblige. It’d give me a solid blogging topic.
  • I want to write more. I miss it. I’ve got so many little bits and pieces of ideas and so many big chunks of things already done, but nothing is even close to being finished. Also, I just miss playing with words, getting phrases just right, saying exactly what it is I want to say, and telling stories. Stories are the best.
  • I should write down a story every day. Nothing big or even fictional. Just something that happened. It doesn’t have to have a moral or anything. Just a story.

Ok that’s enough. Time to make a flow chart to help students decide if they need to use other, another, the other, others, or the others. Fun times!

Awesome April Adventures!

Well, with just a couple of days left in March, I’ve been hard at work on my list of Awesome April Adventures. Thanks to all of you who made suggestions, the list is really quite superb. Now, they are numbered so I would know when I had enough for each day of the month, but the numbers do not in any way correspond to the dates on which I will do them. Some will clearly need to be done on a weekend due to the time they will require or the time they will require me to go to bed, but the others could happen at any time. Please let me know which ones you’d like to participate in, and I will get up with you to plan. Refer to the actual activity and not the number. You know I don’t do well with numbers. So excited, y’all! April is going to be awesome!

  1. Sidewalk chalk a driveway.
  2. Salsa dance party in my living room.
  3. Swing! (aka play on a playground)
  4. Story telling night.
  5. Four square tournament.
  6. Random dress-up night.
  7. Photo scavenger hunt.
  8. Iron Chef: Cookies (bake cookies using ingredients found in the kitchen).
  9. Beach trip! (complete with sand castle contest).
  10. People watch – make up stories about the people.
  11. Public craft night (invite passers-by to join in).
  12. Picnic.
  13. Make a friendship bracelet/mail it to a friend.
  14. Stargaze.
  15. Kickball game.
  16. Field Day!
  17. Segway tour.
  18. Rock/Wall climbing.
  19. Progressive dinner.
  20. Offer to do people’s caricatures in the park.
  21. Send a silly package.
  22. Spend a day in a podunk town just looking around.
  23. Finger paint.
  24. Bake cupcakes and give them to my neighbors.
  25. Let a child pick out an outfit for me at Goodwill. Wear it to work.
  26. Buy a plate from Goodwill, paint it to commemorate my Awesome April Adventures, and display it on my mantle.
  27. Set up a free face painting table downtown.
  28. Ride a horse.
  29. Go somewhere after hours.
  30. Ride the carousel at Pullen Park.

Adventure Time All the Time

There’s been a lot of talk in my life lately about adventure. Basically I want one. All the time, always. And I’m willing to go to great lengths to get one, which often means I leave the country. It’s almost like a drug, and my addiction to it started in high school with small things. I grew up in a small town that did not offer much in the way of wholesome entertainment for adolescents, so we had to make our own fun. They were silly things really – go to K-Mart and take pictures of each other inside big trash cans (clean ones they were selling, not dirty ones they were using), put weird things in friends’ mailboxes, sidewalk chalk friends’ driveways in the middle of the night, throw a frisbee onto the roof of the church, compile elaborate and precisely designed medleys and choreograph lip-sync routines for them. And this may come as a surprise to some of you, but we did all of these things totally sober.

The silliness continued into college, but as I got old enough and started making enough money to go on grander adventures, that is what I wanted to do. Ringing and running people’s dorm rooms just wasn’t as fun once we realized we could be at the beach at dawn and still get back in time for our 11:15 classes. Then it was driving through the night to catch a concert in Virginia Beach, a wedding in New Jersey and another concert in Raleigh all in about a 36-hour period. And before I knew it, I was on a plane to Honduras, then I was living in New York, backpacking through Europe, sleeping in airports with strangers, working at a community college in Raleigh…

Wait. Did anyone else just hear that record scratch?

The thing I love about adventure is that you come away with the best stories. I’m learning, though, that you can go on a big trip and not come away with a single awesome story, or you can stay right where you are and make your own adventure. When we were in high school, we didn’t even need to leave the neighborhood to do something we’d still be talking about fifteen years later. Shoot, when I worked at Caswell, we didn’t even have to leave the camp.

The secret is to find or make the fun wherever you are, and it can be as simple as doing something totally out of the ordinary. G.Lover and I were just on our way home from Durham, and we started talking about The Hunger Games. She hasn’t read the books yet, and I told her she could borrow my copy of the first one, but I thought it was at work. I work in a church building, and if you can believe it, those suckers gave me a key, so I suggested we go over there and get the book out of my cabinet. It was 10:30 on a Saturday night, so of course there was no one there, but we were both sort of nervous that there would be an alarm or a security person or something. And even though I’m at this place every day of the week, it felt completely wrong to be there on a weekend night. The red light coming from the exit signs was alarmingly bright, all the shadows were different, it was eerily quiet, and I was sure that the police would show up at any moment. On top of that, the book wasn’t there.

Another way to make your own fun is to develop your sense of curiosity and amusement. When I lived in New York, I was always fascinated by the people – who they were, how they became that, what they wanted, where they were going, why they were doing what they were doing. It was a never-ending source of entertainment. I miss that about NYC. I feel like people here are blander than there (friendly for sure, but nothing like this guy), but I’m starting to wonder if I came with that preconceived notion and therefore set Raleigh up to be boring before I ever arrived.

What if I spent more time out amongst the masses? What if I did more people watching and made up more stories about them? What if I made riskier mischief? What if I chose to be amused rather than annoyed? What if I spent less time watching Netflix and more time watching cloud formations or kids at the park or couch-to-5k-joggers at the lake? What if I were less concerned with my to-do list and more psyched about my karaoke song list, less worried about losing 20 pounds and more excited about salsa dance parties in my living room, less afraid of what people might think of my writing and more curious about what my characters might do? What if I had more fun on purpose? This sounds pretty awesome.

So here’s what I propose: For the month of April, I will do something creative, out of the ordinary, borderline crazy or just totally different every day in the name of fun and adventure. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I’m not promising I’ll do all the suggestions, and I will not sacrifice my morals or my sleep for any of them, but other than that, I am open to taking risks. And if you want to join me for any of them, I’d love that. Love it. Please join me.

Suggestions can be little things I can do it five minutes or big things that’ll take me a whole weekend. Whatever you’ve got, shoot.

Europe: An Update

Ok first of all, I’d like to point out that I’ve blogged more this week than I have any week in the past, what, year? In Europe without constant internet connection, borrowing other people’s computers, I’ve had more opportunity to blog than at home. Europe is good for me. So here’s a quick update:

I arrived in Madrid on Saturday morning, where I was picked up by Jorge and taken to the train station. I got on a train and rode to Caceres, where I was picked up by Tim and taken to Betsy’s apartment. I spent the rest of Saturday, all day Sunday and Monday breakfast with Tim and/or Betsy. They introduced me to lots of fun people, I got to go to church on Sunday with them, and we went up a big hill to a chapel where you can see the whole city. It was lovely. On Monday morning, they put me on a bus to Bejar, where Craig picked me up. I stayed one night with him and his lovely (Spanish) wife, Ada. Bejar is tee-tiny, y’all. Like I think I could walk the whole thing in about ten minutes. They were cool, though, and one of their sons force-fed me bananas all day. I definitely got my five that day.

On Tuesday, Craig put me on a bus back to Madrid, where I found AMARIS!!!!! waiting for me at the Ibiza Metro stop. I am not sure that Madrid was ready for us together, but I think it handled the situation quite well. We traded bags and headed out to meet Chris and Paul, two guys she’d met through her classmate Kent, who was staying in the same hostel with them. Are you confused? Welcome to Amaris.

The four of us (later five when Kent joined us) walked what seemed to be a large portion of the city looking for a restaurant that had vegetarian paella, but by the time we found it, it was closed, so we went across the street to a market that had absolutely delicious mozarella concoctions among other things. Then we hit up a bakery our friend Adam had told me about. Amaris bought me an empanada de dulce de leche that was aaammaaaaazziiiiiiiiiiinnng (I sang that) for my birthday, and then we made a video that I think she put on facebook. After that, we went up to a park that overlooks the city, where we took super silly photos. Super.

Jorge picked me up around 8:30 and took me back to his house, where I had dinner with him and his wife Elisabeth. They are both German but have been in Spain for 20-some-odd years. Jorge has actually been there longer, and the story of how Elisabeth got there is both hilarious and insane, so ask me to tell it to you later. I spent the night with them, hung out with them the next morning, and around 3 in the afternoon, Jorge took me back to the airport. As I sat on the plane, exhausted, I took comfort in the fact that I would only be in one city in Italy. One city! For two and a half whole days!! What joy! What bliss! I fell asleep.

When I woke up, y’all, we were flying over the Alps. If you have never done this, you absolutely must try to. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It was really cloudy, and I couldn’t really see anything. Then we broke through a cloud, and holy crap there they were. Like RIGHT THERE. Like we could have dropped a skiier. I took pictures, but they don’t really do it justice or properly show just how close we were. I’ll show them to you when I get home anyway, but seriously, you need to do it. I just kept imagining the Von Trapps crossing them on foot (even though I know they weren’t the same mountains they crossed), and I was amazed.

Ok, so. I got into downtown Milan around 8:15 last night, where Daniel picked me up and took me to Ron and Amy’s house. They had prepared a delicious meal for me, and we chatted for a bit. Then Ron brought me back to Joi and Daniel’s, where I’ll be staying while I’m here. Bless their hearts, they had made up the sleeper sofa and turned down the corner of the bedding. All it would have needed to be a fancy bed and breakfast was a mint on the pillow. Oh but this morning…

Y’all, no mint is necessary with a breakfast like that. Joi made pancakes and homemade apple sauce. They had peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, bananas and walnuts to put on top. It was absolutely amazing. Then they drove me up to Lake Como to hang out and walk around. I will show you pictures of this too, but I’ll just say this: cute town + serene lake + snow-capped Alps + risotto alla parmigiana + knowledge that all this is accessible by train from Milan = Spain Who?

That’s been about it. On the way back, we stopped by a health food store so Joi and Daniel could get oatmeal. Joi said they sell it in regular grocery stores now, but they used to only sell it in health food stores and pharmacies. Yes, pharmacies. Because it’s a health food. I think they really just wanted me to see all the amazing vegetarian options available here. For the record, there are many. We came back to their place for a snack of dried figs, apples, walnuts and cheese.

Now we’re resting a bit before I go over to Ron and Amy’s again for dinner. Actually, I think we might be going out with an Italian guy from their church, but I’m not 100% sure about that. We’ll see.

Okie doke. That was your “short” update. If I have time again before Sunday, I’ll try to give you another one, but I don’t know if that will happen. I would love to tell you more when I get home, though, so please ask me lots of questions if there’s anything you want to know.

Love y’all!