14 Things on Reflecting 2014

New Years is one of my favorite holidays- always has been and always will be. What other holiday promotes staying up late and drinking champagne, plus goal setting and working to better yourself? It’s the best of both worlds. There are many things to look forward to in 2015…but first and foremost I plan on kicking in the New Year properly (psssst, check back on January 1st when I take a look at the upcoming year!)

Last year I wrote this post, one of my favorites, on my Top 13 Moments from 2013. While I assumed I would take the same approach this year for my year in review, this year was different in so many wonderful and strange ways. There was a lot more change in 2014 than there was in 2013. Can I list 14 moments? In a heartbeat. In an instant, and I will, but there was a lot that went on this year that can’t be shortlisted. (Fair warning: there’s a touchy feely rant ahead. Impatient? Scroll down for the shortlist).

In 2014, I got incredibly lost. I fell and I stumbled and I screwed up, however I did it without panicking. I doubted all sorts of big decisions. I took more risks, and not always fun ones. I thought too much and overanalyzed things and (big surprise) it bit me in the butt. The year did not go according to plan, but that’s okay. I didn’t anticipate such a shift within me, when everything around me was new and unfamiliar. You simply can’t shortlist the ways you change and develop and grow as a person when you’re trying to find your footing in unknown territory, both figuratively and literally. It’s not like I woke up one day and decided “okay this is the new me.” There was never a new me and old me, it’s always been just Lauren. We are made, especially in this time of our lives, to be fluid and to expand and develop- that does not mean we have new and old personas but have simply altered our values and the direction we want our lives to go in. That is not a bad thing, and I spent the fall of 2014 convinced that it was. I had this idea that whatever was happening in my head and my heart was a negative, and I fought it, and I felt so horribly guilty for so much of that time because I simply wished I felt like I did before. Change is necessary, sometimes a necessary evil, and I feel sad that I spent so much time consumed with guilt about the natural progression of things.

2014 was the year of change. I changed apartments, I changed room mates, I entered my final year of college, and travelled constantly all summer. After the summer (where I’m sure if you’ve been around you remember my blogging *cough cough* sucked), where I practically lived out of my car for weeks working at camps in Iowa and Indiana, spending another incredible weekend in Chicago, and then traveling to Vietnam for a month, settling back into life as a student-athlete seemed impossible. While going through the motions seemingly helped, nothing truly got rid of that guilty feeling like embracing the change. Embracing the chaos. Becoming comfortable with my uncomfortable new reality.

New Years Quote

My motto for 2015

I am not dictated by my surroundings. I am the same girl that stayed up till Midnight December 31st, 2013- the same girl that ran a 10km (and cried) in April is the same girl that stood on mountain tops in Vietnam and Canada in August. I am comfortable but not content; happy but not satisfied. I’ll probably set New Years Resolutions like the majority of the population, and reach only a few of them (like the majority of the population). To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what my resolutions for 2014 were! Whatever they may have been, I leave the year in a good place. I am happy, and am no longer overanalyzing the risks and rewards of life (okay, for the most part. I am a college girl still- overanalyzing is what we’re best at). And without further ado, in no particular order…

14 Top Moments of 2014

1. My two best friends, who have been there since that first day of college, came to Canada this past May. We flew from Chicago to Calgary and spent the week with my family, in the mountains, seeing the city, meeting my old friends. The three of us have been inseparable for the past four and a half years and the week was such an amazing tribute to that. From when we first bounced around the idea in the fall, to it actually coming to fruition, it was more than I could have asked for to show my two best friends my corner of the world. 

Jasper

Glacier Skywalk, along the Ice Fields Parkway. See 10 Reasons to Visit Alberta for my other go-to’s!

2. Like 2013, I got to spend a weekend (my birthday this time!) in Chicago! Chicago has become one of my absolute favorite cities, and I was so happy to be able to go back. In between a month of working at camps and a month away in Vietnam, it was the perfect getaway and a much needed mini-vacation. We got to see the Cubs play again, and explore Wrigleyville like before! We stayed right downtown this time which meant for more walks by the lake, closer to Michigan Ave and deep-dish pizzas, and even drinks at a bar on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building!

Wrigley

3. Indiana Diving Camp is sort of legendary- the entire diving community probably went at one point or another, and the whole five weeks is like one big social event for age group divers across the country (as well as college divers, college coaches, and a few international athletes!). I had the privilege of working as a House Counselor there this summer, and it was probably the most fun I have ever had at work. It felt like I was at summer camp- getting to dive in world class facilities, get to know divers from the around the country, organizing activities for the campers like slip and slide and charity washes and a “Field Day” that involved watermelons, baby oil, food coloring, and flour! I can’t even describe how fun it was, and I’m thankful for the friendships formed during those few weeks in Indiana.

Watermelons

The staff may or may not have gotten a hold of the watermelons…

4. Surprising my family for American Thanksgiving, again. Between spring break, May, August, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I’ve been able to go home and see my family more this year than almost every other year I’ve been away at college! Even though it was a sort trip, from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning, it was completely worth it. 

Fam

5. My Senior Meet, the following weekend which my mother and sister were able to attend. I have loved being a Hawkeye from the day I signed my National Letter of Intent, and will remain a Hawkeye long after I walk the stage this upcoming May. Being a Hawkeye has been such a large part of my identity, and has given me the greatest years of my life. The relationships formed here, the lessons learned, the goals set and achieved. A night dedicated simply to acknowledge the part of ourselves that will always be Hawkeyes was just one more incredible opportunity and memory I will never forget.

Seniors  

“Is this really happening? Is it my Senior Meet already?”

6. In November of this year, I was given the opportunity to give a speech as a student-speaker for Iowa’ Athletic Department All-Staff meeting. It was Top 5 one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever done, and spent more time preparing than I have for many exams! The speech was on my student-athlete experience at Iowa and my experience in Vietnam. Despite the nerves, the speech went surprisingly well and I couldn’t be happier I said yes to the opportunity! It was so incredible to be able to share my experiences as well as being able to discuss the program with coaches and administrators further after my speech, when I was able to mingle and answer any additional questions. I received an interview request two days later, and you can find both the 12 minute speech and the condensed version in interview form on www.coachforcollege.org.

7. My hair started to grow again! This might seem like a minor thing for a Top-14 list, but those who know me well know that this has been a serious issue. Due to years of chlorine damage and wear and tear, in February of 2014 things had gotten so bad my hair had started turning white and simply stopped growing. I started wearing a cap to dive at the end of the month, started taking biotin and fish oils, anything that would help, and basically started treating my hair like precious gold. Th biggest difference by far has been wearing the cap- my hair is darker, the top (not damaged part) is thicker, and I’ve actually been able to GROW my hair for the first time in years and years.

xmas selfie

LOOK AT HOW HEALTHY AND DARK IT IS okay I just got a trim before I snapped a Christmas Day selfie, but you can tell it’s not gray or white. 

8. Okay, again, this one is sort of superficial, but I’ve officially converted to 100% Apple. In July I got a (free!) iPhone 5c and for Christmas/early Happy Graduation I got a MacBook Pro! I could not happier to have a computer that works and everything seems to be operating at the speed of light compared to my old HP (that really was lovely, if you like watching paint dry and glaciers melt). I’m really looking forward to figuring out how to sync my devices and enter 2015 magically more organized (you stop that eye roll right now).

9. Running in the spring- during 2014 I entered a four mile “Warrior Challenge” and a 10km road race! The four miler didn’t have particularly difficult obstacles (read about it here) and the 10km was a blast minus one particular hill (read about that one here). Two races in the spring hardly qualifies me as a legitimate runner, but I loved it. I’m still very much a seasonal runner, running from March through the spring and summer and that’s okay with me! I don’t put a lot of miles on my shoes and I’m not tempted to enter every 5km I see. With my college eligibility wrapping up here, I’m hoping to do a few more races than I’ve been used to- but I’m not spilling the beans till January 1st :)

10-14. Vietnam and Coach for College. Okay, lets be real, the reason I can get to 14 of my favorite things from the year so early is because I could think of 14 things from this trip alone. Heck I already started this list with The Top 4 Things I Miss About Vietnam (is recycling old posts for a year in review cheating? Not in my book). The kids were life changing. The city of Da Nang was amazing, and a place I certainly want to return. The towns we visited on the weekends, Hue and Hoi An, I would recommend to any traveller. THE FOOD. The connections I made with the other coaches and teachers, both American and Vietnamese (also see: “Reflecting Nam, Finally”). Vietnam and Coach for College was without a doubt the biggest leap of faith I have ever done. I took a leap, and the net appeared. I found my solid ground on the other side of the world.

Nam

And of course, you guys (okay I guess this could have been #14). Seeing lauren elyse CAN grow and develop has been amazing. Who would have thought that this post would have over 7000 views?? For reference, my next top two posts of 2014 were between 400 and 1000 views (this one and this one). I was incredibly thankful for guest posts over the summer, and kicked my own blogging butt over October. I have fallen in and out of love with writing, but I’ve got no plans to slow down on the blog now. I’ve got bigger and better plans for the blog when the season wraps up in March, and I can’t wait to take you lovely supportive folks along for the ride.

Happy New Year!!

Four Steps to a Holiday Workout

Every year I come home with good intentions- to maintain eating mostly healthy, I say I’m going to stretch out, and I always say I am going to go to the gym. Every year I do alright, but nothing like my schedule back at school. (3 hours a week at home versus 20 hours a week at school still somehow seems like such a chore). In addition…I absolutely cannot stand working out at home. I’ve done yoga DVD’s at home before but that’s about it- I’m the kind of girl that needs to go to the gym. If this is not you, and have the self discipline to work out at home, CONGRATS I seriously consider you a more evolved level of human.

Step One- Find Gym Clothes

Probably only one outfit, dug out of the bottom of your suitcase, wrinkled (but who cares it’s gym clothes right?) This may seem like he easiest step, but packing in advance means you’re already setting up a significant commitment! Do you bring home one shirt? Two? How often do you INTEND to work out versus how often will you in reality and do you want to bring all that home?? And don’t forget shoes, but pay attention. True story- when I came home for a weekend in November I brought two left shoes home, and didn’t notice until I got to the gym locker room! Thanks goodness my mother has extra shoes in the car…

Step Two- Plan Your Workout

I’m on my own there- no strength coach, no team mates, not even anything to train for (besides burning off holiday cookies). I typically end up doing about 20 minutes of cardio and then lifting, the catch being I only really lift legs and do core work because I CANNOT do a pull up despite nearly seven years of weight training, heck. Any day now would be great.

Step Three- Fight Your Way Around

Holy crap it’s the holidays what is everyone doing here. Don’t you not workout over the holidays? Wait, why am I working out on Christmas Eve?? OH AN EMPTY SQUAT RACK RUN. 

Step Four- Don’t Stress the Heck Out

I like to get my workouts in over the holidays in short and sweet bursts. I do cardio intervals on the elliptical like a mad woman, lift heavy weights, and take short breaks. If a squat rack doesn’t open up (why are there 200 cardio machines and only three squat racks?!) I’ll improvise on free weights. If I forget my headphones I’ll skip the cardio and do extra core, and I always skip foam rolling to do it at home (foam rollers at the gym freak me out). Basically, when I’m at home in December, I don’t give a crap how my workout goes. It’s a miracle I’m even there! Even though I’m always dying to do something over the holidays I’m not going to skip out on Christmas morning cinnamon buns or post-dinner drinks for the sake of a workout. With that being said, I also don’t have “Holiday pants” set aside or ONLY eat cookies for days upon days. If, or when, you work out over the holidays, make it efficient. The time is meant to be spent with friends and family, not sweaty strangers judging your lifting form.

This post was brought to you by Chicago O’Hare free airport Wifi, a 4:40am alarm clock, and Starbucks. 

Pajama Talk

Happy Boxing Day to my Canadians! And…what, Day After Christmas for my American friends? Is this a holiday for you guys? I live there, I should know this, but I’ve never been there over Christmas so…excuse me if I’m missing something.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas Eve and Day! Here’s hoping lots of time was spent with friends and family and that Santa was good to you. My holiday season has been packed and busy like usual, but it’s always nice to catch up with people when I’m only home a few weeks out of the year. We’re big on holiday traditions here, starting with an annual caroling party this past Sunday and street hockey every Christmas Eve! Yes, we really do sit around my aunt’s living room every December and sing Christmas carols. The Christmas Eve street hockey tradition is one that’s been going on 22 years in the same house, and goodness knows how many years before that (Dad help me out here, 15?)

This Christmas has been unique in the sense that busy hasn’t all been social activities, but lots of errands due to last minute Christmas shopping and wrapping and my favorite sister being completely on crutches! So today, on Boxing Day, I slept till 10am and stayed in bed till 11. I stayed in my pajamas until 4pm, watching Pitch Perfect (a favorite) with the fam and now blogging on my new MacBook Pro! Thanks to my Mum and Grandma for a combined Christmas and early graduation gift, I’m finally situated on a computer that doesn’t take 20 minutes to turn on!

I’ve still got the weekend to spend at home with my family before I head back to school early on the 29th, where we head in to our three week training camp (cue half-hearted cheers of excitement) (okay it is an extremely useful training period- I just get SO. TIRED.)

My post-Christmas to do list is nearly as long as my pre-Christmas list, but it still varies greatly from my lists during the year. It involves finishing bottles of testing new red wines, maybe going to gym or doing yoga (I went on Christmas Eve and it was a gong show, yikes), going on dog walks, and sleeping in. I’m taking full advantage of the lack of schedule in my life to enter 2015 more grounded, relaxed, and recharged.

Happy Holidays readers! Any MacBook Pro users have some great blogging tips, apps, or software they can’t live without? 

Life Lately, Ohio Edition

Blogging coming at you from another hotel room, another city, another state! Thanks for bearing with me through my biannual finals week struggle and the subsequent drop-off-the-face-of-the-earth! But I’m back, and after I write a conclusion for my last paper the semester will  IS officially be over and I’ll only have two classes left for both my degrees…whaaaat?

Here’s the rundown on what’s been going on recently:

I surprised my family for (American) Thanksgiving…again.

Like junior year I flew home for the holiday without telling a soul but my mother. With other thanksgiving plans falling through and a flight credit to use it turned out to be an easy decision! My grandma thought I was my sister, my sister was most definitely surprised, and my Dad was completely speechless too! Showing up unannounced was a blast and I enjoyed a chill weekend at home (before getting delayed flying through Dallas Fort Worth, grrrr…every time!)

My Senior Meet was two weeks ago,

and emotions were at an all-time high. Not only did my mother come down to celebrate the weekend with me, my sister flew down and surprised me this time!! Turns out they had it planned forever, weeks before I decided to surprise her. The weekend was full of highs and lows, great dives and average dives, and just a lot of weird feelings about it being my Senior meet. I can’t believe it went by this fast (even though our Senior meet was pretty early in the year!) and it meant the world to me that my mother and sister could be there with me.

We beat Iowa State for the fifth year in a row

Yeeeeeeeeah Haaaaaaaaawks!!!!!

And well now I’m in Columbus, Ohio!

Took all my finals early, classic. I swear every second or third semester I’m out of town somehow and have to take all my finals in a day or two. Last week I had a paper due Thursday, paper due Friday, one exam Thursday, two exams Friday, and one paper due this upcoming Friday. Why I like torturing myself like that is beyond me!! Despite the literal hell that was last week with minimal mental breakdowns, I survived and headed to Ohio State for the USA Winter Senior National Championships!

I’m looking forward to a great week of training here in Columbus and a motivational kick in the butt before heading home for Christmas, and then coming back to Iowa for training camp! This year has been flying, I’m borderline uncomfortable with the rate that college will soon be over. That’s a lie I’m not borderline uncomfortable- the thought of life after college makes me want to cry because of how amazing these last four and a half years have been. Those will be blog posts for another day…

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BIANNUAL NOTICE

My twice yearly blog blurb stating I’M SORRY I KEEP MEANING TO BLOG BUT THEN OUR BIG FALL MEET HAPPENED AND NOW IT’S FINALS AND PAPERS AND I HAVE THREE FINALS IN TWO DAYS AND A PAPER TO STILL WRITE SO I’M SORRY I’LL BE BACK NEXT WEEK OKAY!

If I had more time I’d find a nice gif or photo illustrating my emotions over finals, but it’s back to the study grind for me so you’ll just have to base my mood off of the use of all capital letters. And you’re not even getting a selfie because I just wrote a paper in my pajamas. Okay byeeee happy studying!!