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!!

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I’m Fit Possible!

Ahhh! I love blogging opportunities! lauren elyse CAN started as just kind of a fun hobby that would allow me to write, and share a little bit of my world with a little bit of the rest of it. I never knew it would turn into something I LOVE so much! I absolutely adore  posting not only about my life as a student-athlete, but recipes healthy and not, random thoughts on fitness and nutrition, and posts about mental well-being.

With that being said, I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the the new I’m Fit Possible Ambassadors! The philosophy behind the I’m Fit Possible campaign in simple- we believe in being social. We believe in creative fitness, heading outside, and sweating with friends and fam. We’re a community that’ll try anything once- and we’ll tell you if we like it!

I cannot wait to be a part of this vibrant community- who doesn’t love an internet world full of fitness obsessed foodies! I’m so happy not only with the growth of lauren elyse CAN, but with the personal growth and opportunities that have come along with blogging. To be Fit Possible means so many things to me right now- it means buying new pink asics running shoes. It means finishing an obstacle course race, and signing up for a 10km. It means attempting to squeeze in a hot yoga class when I can, and not beating myself about it when I don’t. It means exploring new ways to eat healthy, while knowing carrot sticks and dip aren’t my thing. I’m Fit Possible, and I can’t wait to share why :)

Want more of why #Imfitpossible? Follow on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bloglovin’!

Liebster Award

Well this is fun. First three days of being a part of the Her Campus Blogger Network and I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

I was nominated by Jackie who writes at http://www.penneandpearls.blogspot.com. She’s got way more information on style (and Boston!) than I do, and would highly recommend giving her a read! While the title is officially “Award” winning a Liebster is more like a game! There are rules: after posting 11 facts about myself, I have to answer 11 of Jackie’s questions. The goal is recognize and share blogs with less than 200 followers, so I’m also allowed to nominate 11 bloggers for their own Liebster! Here go some of the facts…

  1. I made a list of ten facts about me, ten things I love, and ten things I don’t love as my second post of this blog. You can find it the “About Me” section!
  2. While I love, love, love yoga, I have recently discovered I am terrible at trying to do it at home by myself (I need that class motivation!)
  3. I’ve been super into pearls recently- maybe I’m growing up?
  4. One of my biggest fears is not being able to afford to take the trips I want to take and see the destinations I dream about traveling too.
  5. I’ve probably only played guitar 4 times in the past year but I can’t bring myself to sell it!
  6. Every single day I am reminded that moving to Iowa was one of the smartest things I ever did.
  7. Proposal videos on YouTube make me cry, unless it’s a flash mob. Not a fan.
  8. While I’m a massive fan peanut butter (creamy not chunky!) anything peanut butter flavored like granola bars I can’t stand
  9. Just thinking about the Olympic Hockey tournament for men and women gives me mild anxiety (GOLD baby! Go Canada Go!)
  10. I’ve accidentally lost 15lbs since coming to college. It’s like the “Reverse Freshman Fifteen”
  11. I can’t pick up a book to read for fun during the semester, or I won’t do anything else like homework, cooking, cleaning, etc., till I’m finished with it

And now for Jackie’s questions…

What is your must have/go to beauty product? Without a doubt, Aveeno Ultra Calming SPF 15 facial moisturizer. My face would in all probability fall off without it.

Why did you start your blog? I love to write. It was fairly simple. I honestly just love to write, and needed an outlet. Writing a blog about being an international division 1 student-athlete seemed unique enough to jump start it, and lauren elyse CAN took off from there. I never have to think about what to write or force myself to post, it just happens naturally.

What is your favorite quote? “Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim” Tyler Knott Gregson. Side Note- I’m a huge huge fan on inspiration, heart warming, or thought provoking quotes. I even have a blog category for it!

If you had to eat only one dish for the rest of your life what would it be? WHY WOULD YOU ASK SUCH A HARD QUESTION I LOVE FOOD OKAY! Umm probably the rack of lamb that my mother makes whenever I go home. With black forest cake. And wine.

What is your most prized possession? I’m not telling :) But I will say I couldn’t live a single day without my bright orange Moleskine day planner. Necessary is an understatement!

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self? Do everything exactly as you’re doing, except science. Try harder. You are not that bad at it, so stop with the negative self talk. You are smarter than you believe. And maybe no pink highlights in your hair.

What is your dream career? I want to help athletes reach their greatest potential. I want to work with Olympic Committees, high-performance hopefuls, athlete services, or event management. I want to remove barriers like finances for national team athletes, and help up and comers to access the information and resources they need to become the best they can possibly be.

Do you have siblings? Yes ma’am! My older sister has kept me grounded when I need it, given me confidence when I am unsure, and knows exactly what I want her to say when I come to her for advice.

Who would you choose to play you in a movie? Blake Lively hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Who is your favorite fictional character? Probably Olivia Pope from Scandal- the woman is brilliant and mean in all the right ways and even has her own acronym: WWOPD?

What is your favorite candy? If chocolate counts as candy, probably Kit Kats! If not, Fruit Gushers.

I’ll post my questions and those who I nominate for the Liebster Award in my comment section!!

Invited to my First Blogger Network!

GUYS! I am THRILLED to announce that lauren elyse CAN has been invited to join the Her Campus Blogger Network!

Her Campus is the #1 online magazine for college aged women. They cover topics like style, fashion, health, fitness, recipes, love advice, and more! It’s my go-to source for career advice too, including profiles of powerful women in executive and entrepreneur roles. With over 200 chapters at colleges across the country (and a few international!), it’s so exciting to be asked to join their network of writers and creative minds. Check out some of their articles by clicking on their logo on my sidebar!

The 13 Best Things of 2013

I’m DOOOONE finals! (No that’s not one of the best things). And I am HOME for the first time since mid-July, so this homecoming has been so so far overdue. This semester has been good, not my favorite but not my hardest, but 2013 has without a doubt been one of the coolest years of my entire life. I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but the following are in NO particular order. If anyone has a similar list, I’d love to read it! (And keep an eye out for the 14 things I’m looking forward to the most for the next year…)

1. My trip to Tallahassee with my coach and best friend for a little self imposed training camp. Florida State was hosting the World Championship Trials, which my qualified for(!!), and with my nationals the week after I tagged along! Training outside was a treat, along with the weather and inspiration from some incredible diving.

2. The finishes I posted at the Big Ten Championships. To be clear, the finishes at the time felt like failures. I was upset, and angry. My goal for the year was to come Top 8 on 1m and 3m and I came 9th. Twice. By a combined total of a single point. Yet, as my coach pointed out, those finishes were WAY higher than I had achieved my previous two years I was coming 18th, 28th, 30th… Today I can reflect and feel proud, and still work my ass off to make sure it never happens again.

3. Attending my first MLB games in Chicago! Go Cubs go! Labor Day weekend we got to spend the days at Wrigley Field, wandering downtown Chicago, and getting to not only see the games from the iconic bleachers but from right behind home plate and the Cubs dugout.

4. Being a part of the Inaugural Iowa Diving Camp. Not only did I get to live in the dorms with our first group of campers, as a team we got to coach some amazing kids from all over the state and the Midwest. It was one of the busiest weeks of all time, but the most fun I have ever had coaching. The atmosphere was unlike any other I had experienced, and I can’t wait to see it grow.

5. Experienced my first Fourth of July. This was a goal of mine when I moved to the States three and a half years ago, and I finally got the chance to be around that week! David and I spent the day out in the Amanas, where were treated to one of the most spectacular (and by far the longest!) fireworks shows I’ve ever seen. Makes me wonder what I’ll be doing next year, being in Indiana (more to come on that soon :) )

6. Spring break in the BAHAMAS. The trip of a lifetime occurred this March, and it. was. unreal. I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to travel down there with David and his family. We spent a week touring the Exumas on a yacht, doing nothing but fishing, snorkeling, exploring epic beaches, and living off the grid for a week. It was probably one of the best vacations I have ever gone on (considered I only really travel for diving related stuff anyways!)

7. Finally seeing Quebec,and being able to go with my Dad and Stepmom. Quebec was the only major province I had not seen, and directly after my week in Tallahassee I flew to Laval for a week. To be clear, the competition there was maybe one of my worst meets ever recorded, but seeing able to see Quebec City, old and new, was a great way to make the best of the week!

8. Buying a car. My first car that I bought with my own money, registered in my name, all that jazz. It was the ultimate feeling of independence, and my first big real adult purchase (besides apartment leases and such). It seems like such a little thing, but it’s given me much in the sense that I can travel out of Iowa City whenever I want to, I can look at opportunities a state or two over, I can drive to see David and his family and my Hawks at away meets. The first week after I bought it I would just go look at the registration to remind myself that it was, in fact, mine all mine!

9. I got to spend the whole freaking year with this guy, and I could not be happier or feel luckier.

10. The YOGA Opportunity. No, this point has nothing to do with yoga. In the fall I applied to be the Youth Olympic Games Young Ambassador with the Canadian Olympic Team. I would have traveled with the Canadian Olympic Committee as a member of their delegation to China for a week in March and for all of August for the Youth Olympic Games. the position was to promote the educational and cultural opportunities for the Canadian athletes. And no, I didn’t get it. So why was this a highlight? 1. Because I wanted it sooo bad, it really helped me clarify what I want to go into in my future career and really showed me the opportunities that are out there. And 2. I came so close to actually getting it. After over 100 people applied, they interviewed the top 9 candidates (which I was fortunate enough to be!) and a week later I received news that while they were extremely impressed by my application and interview, I was not selected. However they told me I was their second choice, so all in all the experience for me was a win.

11. Fergus. Okay, so I just found out about him yesterday, but he still makes the list! Best housewarming ever was the sweet little 12 week old labradoodle that my mom and sister had kept quiet for a WEEK to surprise me at the airport. My heart was stolen instantly.

12. Rediscovering my love for writing. Mostly through this blog, to be honest. I used to keep a journal that I would write in on such a regular basis, and I kept up those journals for years. I loved to go back and read through them, every time I came home or if I had one with me in Iowa. I kept a journal from the age of 9 to college, and it slowly fading out after that. I missed it. I tried again and again, but it felt like a chore. It felt like something I had to do, to record my life and my thoughts and my feelings. Starting a blog allowed me to write and feel more grounded. While it’s obviously not as personal as a journal,

13. Alberta. Every single day I got in Alberta this year I cherished, going back to Iowa January 2nd, coming home for the shortest summer break yet, and home now means the fewest days ever in a year I have spent in Calgary. Coming home right after the Southern Alberta floods was an incredible experience, and I felt for my city. I was proud of my city. I got to see the mountains, and the Stampede, and my family. Every, every day in Alberta was a gift, that I plan to take better advantage of in 2014.