Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Unwind

Recently, I read about a book that sounded intriguing. It didn't turn out to be exactly what I had hoped, but the concept is still fascinating. Unwind by Neal Shusterman really made me think, but overall, it didn't captivate me enough to read the sequels.

Goodreads provides the synopsis for Unwind

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Overall, the plot sounds incredibly cool, but the writing style just did not captivate me like I thought it would. The story was still fun because it presents such an alternate reality to what we have. I'm glad I read this book, but I am not choosing to read the sequels that follow it. If you're looking for something different, though, Unwind by Neal Shusterman may be the way to go. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

For Memorial Day

I wrote this blog post LAST YEAR (2012) on Memorial Day, but as I looked back at it, I realized that my view hasn't changed a bit. I am still so proud of my fiancĂ© for choosing to serve our country, and I wanted to share this post one more time. 

As everyone who reads this knows, I am in a relationship with the United States military, the Air Force to be exact. No, I am not serving our great nation, and I make no claims to be doing so. However, my handsome fiancĂ©, the one I love more than anything in the world, is serving. While he may simply be a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for the time being, he will be in the military for years to come. He hopes to make a career in the Air Force. He joined the Army National Guard before graduating from high school and switched to the Air Force during civilian college in Missouri. He lucked out getting a spot at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, but it comes with a price. He sometimes has to miss important events because of military commitments (such as birthdays, graduations, and holidays with family), but he does so because he serves our nation, the best one in the world: the United States of America. If he receives a pilot slot, he will then commit a minimum of TEN YEARS of his life to the US Air Force upon graduating from the Academy. Did that scare the hell out of me at first? You bet it did! But now that I am accustomed to the military lifestyle, one that often leaves spouses (or spouses-to-be, like I am now) behind, forgotten, alone… I see past the sadness and recognize that what he is doing not only for himself and for our future together but for his NATION, full of people who complain about everything and take things for granted is well worth it. People like him, everyone who serves, help keep us free. What kind of person makes so many personal sacrifices? I can answer that one; it’s easy: someone who cares about others more than himself… someone who gives all he can for people he doesn’t even know… someone who will make the PERFECT husband, despite all of his military duties and commitments.

Now, I realize that Memorial Day serves as a day to REMEMBER people… people who have given the ULTIMATE sacrifice for their nation… people who have DIED for others in battle trying to make this nation a better place to live. However, I am extremely fortunate to not know a SINGLE PERSON who has passed away due to war. Where I’m from, not many people are in the military. I grew up thinking nothing of it, not understanding what it was all about, and promising myself that I would NEVER, under any circumstances, date someone in the military. And then I met Dan, and that all fell to the wayside. Despite what I know about what our future may hold, all of the ups and all of the downs, and despite everything that could possibly happen, I wouldn’t trade this kind of love for anything.

Although I do not know anyone personally who has been affected by the horrors of war, I do know that it happens on a daily basis. Death is not something that should be taken lightly, especially the deaths of many brave young (and older) men and women who are fighting for the country they love, the people they want to stand up for. This Memorial Day, please remember the victims of war: the warriors in the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Don’t forget about their families, either, because they are the ones left behind to make sense of everything. Keep them all in your prayers as you go to bed knowing that you are safe. And that reminds me of one of the greatest quotes, penned by a fantastic author, George Orwell:
“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” -George Orwell
On that note, I feel the need to share pictures of my military man, the man I couldn’t be more excited to marry, the one who I am so incredibly proud of for always sticking up for what is right… 

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him" -G.K. Chesterton

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Seriously... I'm Kidding

Are you a fan of Ellen Degeneres? If so, look into her new book Seriously... I'm Kidding. I am a huge fan of hers, and this book is hysterical! I couldn't read it right before bed simply because it made me laugh so hard. I normally don't read humorous books, but this is an exception I was happy to make!

Goodreads says about Seriously... I'm Kidding:

"Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing." Ellen Degeneres' winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient, and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously... I'm Kidding, Degeneres' first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn't want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

The book made me laugh all the way through. If you want a chuckle, check out this book. It certainly isn't my usual genre, but I would read another book of Ellen's in a heartbeat! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: If I Stay

If you're looking for a quick, dramatic read, you should check out If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I couldn't put it down -- but that was okay because it was nice and short! I was able to devour this book in just a couple sittings, despite my packed schedule.

One of my favorite websites, Goodreads, provides wonderful synopses of books. I am so glad I stopped wasting my time writing about the plot of novels I read. Borrowing from them is much more convenient, and it leaves me more time to simply give my opinion. 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman:

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Overall, If I Stay is a novel that will stay with me for a long time. Immediately, I put myself in the narrator's shoes. I was completely engrossed with the topic of being barely alive and not completely comprehending the events around yourself. My own mortality is something that fascinates me. I don't mean that in a weird way at all, like I think about dying. I absolutely do not. I am a curious individual, though, and that curiosity gets the best of me. Often, when I am in seemingly dangerous situations, I wonder what it would be like. What it would feel like. How quick it would be. This novel hooked me in from the very beginning, and I highly recommend it to everyone. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why I Run

Running takes me back. When I was a kid, I used to run laps around the playground for fun during  recess. I would run with my dad some afternoons. I would run, run, run for no apparent reason. It wasn't my sport. It wasn't my thing. I just did it to keep up with my friends in the neighborhood, who were older than me, and to keep out of reach from my younger brother, who would chase me around with a baseball bat. Seriously. (But don't worry -- we're cool now).

I grew up as an athlete. I danced tap, jazz, and ballet. I competed in power tumbling (acrobats) for MANY years (and loved it). I played soccer. I played basketball. Heck, I even played football (amazing experience, by the way). When I was 13, I was healing from a torn MCL (left knee) from acrobats. I didn't know what to do with myself. I decided to be crazy and to sign up for cross country as a brand new seventh grader (the first year school sports were offered at my middle school). (I know what you're thinking -- why would she sign up to run long distances with a torn MCL? You've got me, but hey, I healed, and I'm still running, nearly 13 years later). 

I ran cross country and track all the way from 7th grade through 12th grade. I pushed myself in ways I had never imagined. I made friends I wouldn't have otherwise. My teammates became a second family to me. I had some amazing coaches who guided me through perseverance. I learned so much about myself while testing my limits running. I still continue to develop in my mind. My legs are not in control; my heart is. 

You know what they say:

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life. You get out of it what you put into it."

I'm a firm believer in that statement, and running long distances has trained my mind to think that way.

I'm not fast. I never won any races (other than relays, and I credit my teammates for that). I will never break any records (other than my own). I don't run for the glory; if I did, I would never see it. I run because it EMPOWERS ME. 


·      I can
·      Runner’s High
·      It challenges me
·      It clears my mind
·      It relieves my stress
·      To prevent heart disease
·      It is cheaper than therapy
·      Someday I won’t be able to
·      For all the people who cannot
·      It makes me feel good about myself

There are so many good reasons to run. Every runner has different reasons, but they are all valid. Running may not be the most fun way to exercise all the time, but I have NEVER once regretted a run I have gone on. Even if I'm slow, I'm still faster than the people on the couch. I'm still better off than those who choose to sit around. I still feel better about myself than those who aren't tough enough to work through their issues. 

I have run in numerous races. I have over 50 5Ks under my belt. Some of those were high school races, and others are fun runs, like the Color Run, the Dirty Dash, and the Glow Run. I ran the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon in 2008, and then I let running taper off in my life. I knew I missed it. I ached for it. My body WANTED to run, but my mind told me: "NO! You aren't strong enough for that anymore. You can't handle it."

Recently, I picked it up again. Running is good for the soul. I am challenging myself in ways I never have before. I KNOW that I am capable of doing whatever I set my mind to. My legs aren't going to give out. My heart will keep on beating. It's my mind that likes to play tricks on me... but this time, I am out to get that brain of mine. I WILL conquer it. I WILL run a half marathon in Denver at the end of July. I will be a fresh 26 year old woman for that race, and I WILL dominate it, even if that only means running the entire thing without walking. I can, and I WILL

Dan and I will be running in the Dog Days Half Marathon in Westminster, Colorado (near Denver) on July 27th, 2013. We are both following the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Plan, and so far, it's going well. We are training separately, of course, but it will be nice to run the 13.1 miles together. I can't wait! The proceeds from this half marathon will be going to the Colorado Canine Rescue, which makes this race even sweeter. I'm such a sucker for animals. 

Also, I may be getting in over my head, but like I said, I think I am capable of ANYTHING I SET MY MIND TO... which is why I am seriously contemplating running a full marathon next year. I have always wanted to. I know I want to do it before I have kids one day. I also think it would be the perfect pre-wedding training plan. My good friend Lizzie (at Sweet Kansas Girl) wants to run one as well, so we decided that we should run our first one together. That way, we can hold each other accountable and be there for moral support! I want to do a marathon at lower altitude than Colorado has to offer, though, and I've also always wanted to travel for a race. Since Dan and I are paying for our wedding next May, I didn't want to spend a ton of money... so I found the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, which is held on April 27th, 2014, just 33 days before my wedding. I think it sounds absolutely perfect, and I am determined. My farthest distance to date is 13.1 miles, but I will not be saying that by this time next year. 

I often turn to quotes for motivation when I'm feeling down before a long run. These are some of my favorites: 

Do YOU run? If so, WHY do you choose to run? If not, what is your preferred exercise? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Glow Run 5K

On April 27th, 2013, Dan and I ran the Glow Run 5K in Fountain, Colorado, just south of Colorado Springs. We originally found the race in February, but Dan was hesitant. He enjoys running, but he isn't a huge fan of all the "fun" runs I seem to find. He changed his mind, however, when he found out some of his Flying Team teammates wanted to run it. That worked out well for me because he agreed to run it.

I am SO glad we did! It was an absolute blast. I ran my best 5K time since moving to Colorado (aka high altitude central... which equates to very poor breathing while running for a person with exercise induced asthma). I was pretty proud of myself, and we had a BLAST running together!

We even signed up for a half marathon together at the end of July in Denver. We are both following Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan. I just finished week one of 12, and I'm excited to announce that I ran my farthest distance since 2008 just today! I feel on top of the world right now, and there will only be more days like this to come. My next blog post will be about why I run... because it's long and emotional. I was going to add it to this one, but there would just be way too much going on. I'll save it for later!

For now, pictures!

See us? We're coming in back there!

I love this! I'm glad I don't look like death for once!

Happy to be finished! :)

Happy! :) 

Dan is in the pink, and I'm to the right of him! We ran with some of his teammates! :)

with our medals... which is weird! I have NEVER gotten a medal for running a 5K before... it was strange, but hey, they are pretty and glow in the dark! 

Overall, the Glow Run was an EXCELLENT experience! I hope they offer it again next year because it was so much fun! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

Over spring break, Dan and I decided to cross another item off of our "Colorado Bucket List". My mom was also visiting us, so she tagged along for this fun excursion. We checked out the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide, Colorado, about an hour from Colorado Springs. It was amazing, and you can check them out by visiting their website HERE.

The mission statement for this organization is clear, and they want to help educate everyone about how wolves are treated in our country and expose the truth about how wolves live. I learned a lot from this tour, and I highly recommend it to all my animal-loving friends. It was a bit harsh at the beginning hearing about how poorly wolves are treated across the USA, but getting up close with the wolves later on made up for that. Plus, it is important to know. If people don't know, nothing will change. We have to be the change we want to see in the world.

Here is the mission statement, straight from their website:

There were also some chickens, coyotes, and foxes at the wildlife center, and they were super cute as well! 

And now the gorgeous animals:

Adventures like this, my friends, are why I never want to leave Colorado. It's such a wonderful state to live in with so many things to do!