26 August 2012

A Weekend Checklist

 Little known fact...I start out every morning with coffee in bed.  It's my favorite time of day.
And the weekends are my favorite time of the week (but who doesn't think that?).  Here's my weekend checklist:  

 1.  Run 5 miles.  Check.  I'm not sure what's gotten into me.  Even when I was in high school I couldn't run that far.  Even when I was playing college basketball I feel like I could barely run over a mile.  I'm chalking it up to cutting back on my dairy consumption.  It's probably a completely bogus reason, but I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life.

2.  Read a book for fun.  Check.  WHAT?  I'm still surprised at this one.  Especially since the first week of classes usually leaves me overwhelmed.  I seriously haven't read a book for fun since last Christmas.  I was starting to get concerned that graduate school had robbed me of one of my favorite things.  And I'm in LIBRARY SCHOOL for crying out loud.  I think I'm supposed to love reading, right?  Or at the very least be capable of reading.  But I bought Hope Solo's autobiography on a whim, hoping that I would get around to it eventually (probably over Christmas).  I'm only a couple chapters away from finishing it!  I'll be sure to blog about it and her incredible story!

3.  Enjoy some friend time.  Check.  Lots of laughter.  Lots of catching up.  Deep conversations.  And history nerd conversations.  Quotes that should be written down.  Sitting in a restaurant until it closes.  Pints of ice cream. I am so thankful for the wonderful group of women that I just happened to talk to on that first day of orientation last year because our mentors weren't at the meeting.  And we've never looked back...

4.  Get my hike on.  Check.  It's probably one of the best parts about living in this part of Indiana.  There's always a new trail to try.  And yesterday we drove out to Brown County to hike in the Yellowwood State Forest.  It was pretty buggy, but there were some beautiful views.  And it made me want to go camping something fierce!  Although those of you who know me well know that camping and I don't tend to get along.  One word for you:  chiggers. 

5.  Go back to High Rock Church.  Check.  I started out going to Sunday services there last fall and quickly fell away as my schedule got too hectic.  But today I made a point to get up and go worship my Lord and Savior on a beautiful August morning.  And I was reminded that no matter how far I wander, God's love is deeper.  So often I get caught up in what I want to do with my life -- what I want to accomplish.  So often I get caught up in wanting to be the best, in wanting to be perfect.  But this morning, I remembered that everything I do, I do for His glory.  And so today I decided that these words will be the theme of my final school year:

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection *

 Have a great week, y'all!

* These words are a verse of the song "How Deep the Father's Love for Us."  We sang it at church this morning -- it's one of my favorites.

24 August 2012

"I'd Rather Be in the Hunger Games Than Play Kickball": End of Summer/Beginning of School Thoughts

Okay, so I'll explain that quote in a minute.  But first, summer is coming to an end.  My first (and most likely last) summer in Bloomington is over.  My first summer school experience is finished!  Can I get an Amen?  And by the way -- I totally rocked it -- straight A+s.  Like kindergarten, but way more stressful.  I got the best tan of my life without really trying.  I grew my hair out and my mom called me a hippie...my life is now complete.

I got to spend two glorious weeks at home with my family in Illinois.  I was completely swept up by Olympic fever.  And I formally apologize to all my Facebook friends for my seemingly hourly updates on the U.S. Women's Soccer Team.  Okay, I'm not that sorry.  I spent a weekend back in my old Monmouth stomping grounds with old friends while making some new ones too.  Another weekend was spent in Chicago -- taking in the city that I am growing to love and enjoying the history and atmosphere of the Friendly Confines.  The Cubs lost (of course), but I absolutely love spending an afternoon at Wrigley. 

I don't think our seats could get any higher, but at least we were in the shade and had a nice breeze!

 Then, last weekend we were off to Cincinnati for the Western and Southern Open.  I won't lie to you, I'm not a huge tennis fan.  I watch Wimbledon (mainly as an excuse to eat strawberries and cream), I'll go out to the courts to play a few sets if I can find someone to go with me, and I am a pro at Wii tennis, but that's about it.  I was a little nervous to spend an entire day watching the semi-finals.  I mean matches can go for hours!  But it was awesome!  We got to see some of the players at the practice courts that morning.  Novak Djokovic was literally less than 10 feet away from me...and Roger Federer too!  And then we got to see two great semi-final matches.  Not to mention I had my first Skyline Chili experience.

Center Court baby!

Now it's back to work in the Archives and I've been in class for a week.  It's my last fall semester ever! It's been great to meet up with my friends again and catch up after our summer "breaks."  And that means going back to our crazy conversations about how our professor was 30 minutes late to our first class and arrived wearing swim trunks.  Or where I end up saying things like "I would rather be in the Hunger Games than play kickball."  I think I'll stand by that quote. 

It looks like it's going to be a great semester!

10 August 2012

Confessions of an Olympics Addict Pt. II: Seven Years Old Again

As the the 2012 Olympics draw to a close in London, I'm still held captive by the spectacular display of athleticism, talent, and sportsmanship.  Yesterday, as the U.S. Women's National Team won gold in soccer, I was reminded that this truly is the Year of the Woman at the Olympics.  More than anything, I hope that this display of greatness sparks more interest in women's sports.  I hope it inspires a new generation of female athletes. 

I know that the Olympics sure inspired me.  Every four years, for two weeks at the end of the summer, I feel seven years old again.  I'm transported back to the days when I would play Olympics out on our driveway.  Playing tennis against the basketball backboard.  Dribbling the soccer ball down through the gravel and back.  Pitching the baseball to myself.  Breaking out the goggles in the pool.  Gymnastics on the trampoline.  Creating my own sports -- like rollerblade basketball.  Keeping score in chalk on the sidewalk and getting so mad if it rained and washed the scores away.  For two weeks and probably months afterwards, I was Mia Hamm or Lisa Leslie or Dominque Dawes.  I remember getting my first soccer ball during the Atlanta games.  It had the mascot from the games on it...man, I wish I still had that.  And going to soccer camp for the first time. 
If you want to make me seriously happy, find me something with this little guy on it.  His name was Izzy, I think. 
 The Olympics remind me of those great times...when I dreamed so big.  And they kind of make me a little sad too -- knowing that those days have passed.

But more than anything, they give me hope.  Today, I know that there are little girls all across the country who are out on their driveways pretending to be Abby Wambach or Diana Taurasi.  They're doing flips in the basement pretending to be Gabby Douglas.  They're in the pool pretending to be Missy Franklin.  And that's a beautiful thing.   

07 August 2012

Confessions of an Olympics Addict: Soccer and Kirani James

Since the Opening Ceremony over a week ago, watching the Olympics is literally all I do.  It's been that way since Atlanta in '96.  I don't know what it is, but it consumes me like nothing else can.  And sure, I'm always a fan of watching swimming and gymnastics, but this year it's women's soccer and track and field that have me talking. 

The USWNT's semi-final match against Canada yesterday was just sick.  Sick. 4-3 in extra time with a last second header from Alex Morgan!  Incredible!  And Megan Rapinoe plays the beautiful game beautifully -- she had 2 incredible goals.  I mean it's not every day that you see the person taking the corner score a goal!  I'll admit, I got way too into the game.  And I'm pretty sure at one point I fell off the couch in mid-celebration.  I cannot wait for the championship game with Japan on Thursday afternoon.  It's rematch time!

And then there's Kirani James.  The first medalist the tiny island nation of Grenada has ever had.  And it was GOLD!  I visited Grenada in high school and fell in love.  So I always keep an eye on them in the Olympics.  Last night, tears came to my eyes as the nineteen year old won their first medal and they showed footage of the Spice Island and James's hometown of Gouyave.  Here's some photos of my visit there -- almost 10 years ago now.  

 That's us.  Walking the streets of the tiny fishing village nestled in the hills.
 Who knows...maybe I met Kirani as I visited with children that morning.
It was at this elementary school where I fell head over heels in love with the people of Grenada.  Look at those beautiful smiling faces!
And there's Kirani after his win.  Waving that beautiful flag.  I still have a patch of the Grenadian flag on my book bag...and probably always will.  And just so you know, it's a nutmeg on their flag...not cacao like the commentators last night said.  They grow more nutmeg than any other country in the world.  And I can smell it now just thinking about it!  Congratulations to Kirani James!  He is a great ambassador -- everyone could see how much he truly loves his country!  And I love it too!

01 August 2012

Who Are You When No One's Watching?*

The great basketball coach John Wooden once said, "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one's watching."  But who am I when no one's watching?
A nine-year-old on a sugar rush, that's who.  
Exhibit A.
At school/work I'm put-together, driven, and serious...most of the time.**  But when I'm at home, the only thing I'm serious about is being a goofball.  In public I'm usually quiet and reserved.  Kinda cold and standoffish. But once I get to know you, there's a whole different person comes out. And once I let you in, there's no going back!  You're stuck with the goofy kid who dances in the kitchen, tries to get you to box with her in the dining room, sings at the dinner table, raps in the car, wears 3D glasses around the house, skips down the hallway, does 360 cannonballs off the deck into the pool, hugs you all the time, laughs until she cries, and sleeps on the floor.

Yep, this is pretty typical around our house.  If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "Hope, you are so weird," I would be rich! But anyway, we were baking cookies and I created my alter ego -- a superhero called Oven Mitts.  Unlike Clark Kent and Peter Parker, who take off their glasses when they transform into their superhero versions of themselves, I put my glasses on.  And then I'm off, saving the world one oven at a time!  What can I say? With great power comes great responsibility. *** I am also deathly afraid of fire so the oven mitts are an essential part of my wardrobe.  And they double as pretty decent boxing gloves in case I get caught in some hand-to-hand combat.  They would also make pretty good mittens in case of a snowstorm.

So that's who I am when no one's watching.  Who are you?

 * My apologies if you thought this was going to be a serious post.  About the meaning of life or something.  Maybe later.  I'm on vacation.

** I've found that I'm somewhat of the class clown of graduate school.  Partially, humor is how I choose to combat my insecurity.  It always has been.  If I don't know an answer, I come up with something witty.  It's worked pretty well so far.  One of my professors said she gave me an A because of my "good humor."  I'll take it.

*** If you didn't catch that Spiderman reference, I'll forgive you.  But just this once.