Proper Timing

Heartbreak is typically the term used for the ending of a long term relationship. Emotional trauma, wine emojis, Ben and Jerry’s. Reminiscing on the great times and all of the amazing things that relationship gave to you. Having moments of doubt, sometimes severe. Wondering if things could have gone differently. Needing your friends and family for support, and sometimes guidance, and sometimes just validation that everything is turning out exactly how it should.

A few weeks ago, I ended my nine year relationship with diving. There were tears, and long conversations, and two bottles of wine vanished from my apartment in one weekend, but it was a peaceful decision. It was the right decision, at the right time, for the right reasons. Like several months ago, when I expressed no need to justify my continued training, I don’t feel any strong urge to justify retirement besides stating that it was time. It was/is a decision I feel good about it. I gained everything I was going to gain from this sport, and even if I didn’t accomplish every goal I set out for myself I ended up growing in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Every perceived failure turned into a greater life lesson than achievement ever could- something that only hindsight shows. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly proud of my accomplishments. I recognize the impact not only being a Division One athlete can have, and being a Big Ten athlete is something I will always take pride in.

Sport has shaped me in to the person I am today. Sport has influenced every major life decision I have ever made, and shaped the character I have become. Few experiences in my life will impact me the same way diving has- from the personal and professional relationships gained, the physical and emotional strength, and the limits we pushed along the way.

On a lighter note- retirement is awesome. It is not what I expected it to be- I expected to feel a little more lost and a lot more confused, but I suppose that just credits that it was time to move on. I still work out nearly every day, promising to lift with my training partner until the US Olympic Team Trials while starting to RUN.

I am slow, and I have next to nothing for an endurance base, but we all start somewhere and this is my start line with no finish line in sight. I have been told multiple times as a diver to not run for longer than ten seconds at a time, as to not take anything away from my fast twitch muscles fibers. I have trained with girls who ran anyways as a way to keep their weight down (I may have been one of them some days, but never bought in to that mentality much). I have exercised induced asthma and last time I ran a 10km I cried. It’s exciting to be a beginner, and I’m looking forward to the process of improving over time.

In a sense, this post is a cliched nod to “when one door closes another door opens”, but I don’t like to think about it like that. This post is a lot less “crying over a break-up” and more “celebrating over a promotion”. I am excited, I am happy, and I am perfectly okay with the process that has led me to this point.

 

 

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Once A Hawkeye…

Well this is it, the “was” post. I “was” a college athlete. I “used to” compete in the NCAA.

We all knew it was coming, I wasn’t under any false pretenses that by some miracle they would let me stay another year or three. As of March 11, 2015, the journey that started when I took my recruiting trip in November of 2009 officially closed.

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I was assuming this would be a sad post, an emotional one. One that I would cry writing and cry publishing and cry rereading (in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve done a lot of crying this week). But sitting here now 24 hours removed from my “student-athlete” status I don’t feel like my heart is broken. I was prepared for this day and I’m allowed to be emotional, even if it stings more than I thought.

After five years of training and four weeks after breaking my foot, I competed in all three events at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. I didn’t have to change any of my dives to easier options which was a huge accomplishment for me, and while I was no where near my original goal of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships I’m counting the week as a huge success- we had three Hawkeyes qualify for Nationals and I got to finish my collegiate career with the greatest people I have ever met.

There’s a lot I could focus on in regards to the last five years, and I am choosing to focus on what matters. The positives and the goals achieved and every struggle that brought a life lesson- not the marks I missed due to injury or other reasons.

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From the Senior Recognition at the Big Ten Championships. I was probably trying not to cry then too.

This experience simply would not have been possible without the support of my incredible family, and the trust they put in me to move to another country at 19. It would not have been possible without the coach that brought me to Iowa and the belief he had in me to succeed, and the coach that followed him, who believed in me the same. I would not be the same athlete without them, or anywhere close. And more than I could have possibly imagined, I could not have done this without our athletic trainer. After my injury he was the most optimistic person I could turn to while being realistic about my diving (and walking around) capabilities. He dedicated multiple hours everyday since to make sure I could be on the board for my final college meets, and I can never summarize what that meant to me. He never doubted my determination to finish the season, and was right there every time I was ready to push myself. I can never be thankful enough for the people I have surrounded myself with over the past five seasons.

What made my career, more than the goals and the training and the results, were my team. I have been luckier than I ever dreamed to be able to train with them. From everyone on the team in 2010 to everyone on the team now, having doubled in size, I have felt so fortune to have known each and every one. Now training with 13 people, only three girls have been together for the entirety of my career. I got to witness one achieve the ultimate, qualifying for the NCAA’s, and see one rip her last dive of a 14 year career (Oh shoot I made it this far without crying while writing) (to be fair she was crying during the dive, I’m allowed to cry thinking about it). From every triumph to every failure in and out of the pool- from high school boyfriends to grad schools and training camps and apartments, they have been the biggest blessing I have ever received. While we have been struggling to figure out who we are going to now that we are not student-athletes, we have the been the rocks in each others lives. They have been my biggest cheerleaders when I was injured and I was their biggest fans when I was sidelined. We all cried when we succeeded, and we all cried together when two of us finished our Hawkeye careers (seriously, it was comical. The men’s team knew to give us a few moments each day to cry it out before joining the team meeting).

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Day two of competition- minimal tear day

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to look like in a year, but I know who is going to be there for me. I don’t know exactly what job I’m going to have and what my life will look like, even though I generally know I’ll be working and training (this isn’t a retirement post thank goodness!). This will be the first time I’m not registering for class, and I don’t have to worry anymore about blowing my amateur status. I’m looking at things like health insurance and work visa paperwork and graduation transcripts and gahhhh. Real life sneaks up on you when you’re trying to enjoy every last second of your college career.

Oh gosh, well this turned into a rant. To summarize, I am excited, and scared, and heart broken and proud and so so thankful this is how I choose to continue to my diving career. I will bleed Black and Gold for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter where I am in a year, or ten years, I will always be a Hawkeye.

From the first big meet,

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to the last.

The extent to which I could point my broken foot with that much tape was a bonus in itself!

I promise less emotional train wreck posts in the future while I navigate the ever-looming college graduation, spring break in Denver, and where ever this road may take me! Go Hawks!

Motivation Monday, Injury Issue

Haaaappy Monday folks. I figured this Monday out of all the Mondays could use a little pick-me-up as I’ll likely be hobbling around the pool deck all day (wearing an ice pack and staring longingly at the diving boards).

Click here if you missed yesterdays recap.

Over the weekend I had plenty of time to peruse the internet and compiled a list via Pinterest (obvs) of quotes that helped me feel better about the recent course of events. Everyone knows I love inspirational quotes, and this situation won’t be any different. Thanks for all the positive vibes!

I don’t own these quotes nor did I make the visuals- I just found them on Pinterest

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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!!

Taking Back the Blog

Someone recently asked me what I want my life to look like. What do I want my life to feel like, taste like. How I want to walk through the world.

It’s been no secret to those around me that I’ve had a hard time settling back into life after the summer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- it was the most unreal summer of my entire life. It was hard, but I grew, and I learned. I had the time of my life, and now my life is how it was before with school and diving and friends but things feel different. I feel different. Things aren’t how they used to be and I’m trying to work through what’s permanent and whats not. I’m trying to figure out what I want my life to look like- not just make it look and feel like how it did before.

There’s been some personal shit going on in my world right now. I don’t mean stuff, I mean shit, because it hurts, like when you stub your toe or slam your hand in a door and you can’t help but let out a emotional “shiiiii-“. This post is about moving past that. Apologizing to those around you for swearing and getting on with your life even if your toe still hurts like a bitch.

I want my life to look and feel and taste happy. I want to love my life, every minute of it, and love it even when it’s hard and I wish things were different. I want to train hard again. I want to find my motivation to sit down and study. I want my life to be healthy, and full, without questions or doubt. I want to feel at ease. I want to travel, and do yoga, and go for runs, and write about it all.

So what do I mean by Taking Back the Blog? Basically I’ve fallen into this trap of trying to be an author that I’m not. I love this blog, and the direction that it’s gone in, and the following and the friends that I’ve made, but I’m reclaiming some of it as mine. I don’t have to be chipper all the time, I really don’t. I’m going to WRITE. I’m going to share what I’m really thinking, and really experiencing, and share every single reason why I’m in love with my life.

I’m still going to write about recipes, and meal planning, and how I make my life easier. I’m going to write about diving and travel and the things I can’t live without. I’m just going to make an effort to write more- to vent more, to share more, to not worry about a “niche” or an “audience.”

I’m creating what I want my life to look like, from the inside out. Let’s talk about it. I’m taking my own advice.