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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Irresolutions.

It's that time again. The countdown to a new year has begun. Normally on this day, I would be scrambling to compile a list of resolutions for the coming year, a list that would no doubt be filled with items identical to my resolutions from the year before - exercise, eat healthy, yada yada yada. While my intentions are good, I know in my heart that the likelihood of me keeping all of my resolutions is slim to none (case in point being I make the same resolutions every year). Instead of once again setting myself up for failure, this year I have decided to forgo my traditional list of New Year's resolutions, save one - and that is to work diligently throughout the year of 2009 on my 30 Before 30 List. So, without further ado, Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all much joy and happiness in the year ahead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Things That Make Me Happy.

I have been tagged by Suz at 30 Before 30 List. The rules of the game? List six things that make me happy. Having had such a difficult time lately attaining happiness, this exercise couldn't have come at a better time for me. I really tried to dig deep and remember just what it is about life that brings me joy. Here is what I came up with.

1. My Family

One thing that was consistently stressed to me while I was growing up is the importance of family. As a result, throughout my life I have had a deep sense of family loyalty. Some of my most cherished memories revolve around my family. I can truly say the members of my family have supported each other through thick and thin, whether or not we have agreed with one another. I think family is crucial in learning to accept ourselves and others, as well as in learning how to love unconditionally, and I am hopeful if I one day have a child, I am able to instill this value in him/her. Without my family, I would be lost.

2. My Friends

Throughout my life, I have been extremely blessed with absolutely wonderful friends. While the rule of my life has always been quality over quantity (I have always had a few close friends rather than a large group of friendly acquaintances), I have never been left wanting when it comes to friendship. I have the best group of friends a girl could ask for, who love me unconditionally yet are willing to tell me the truth when I need to hear it, even though the truth at times can be harsh. I have a best friend who probably knows me better than I know myself, and around whom I am completely free to be me. I am also extremely fortunate to still be in contact with several of my childhood friends. (As John Leonard once said, "It takes a long time to grow an old friend.") My friends keep me grounded in this crazy and hectic world. :-)

3. My Boyfriend

From the very beginning of our relationship, Brent has made me feel completely comfortable and like I can be myself around him. What is even more amazing is that in social situations where I would normally be a nervous wreck (someone once used the term "socially awkward" to describe me, which I found to be highly accurate and fitting), I am much more calm simply because he is with me. In the past, I have always been apprehensive about introducing my boyfriend to family and friends (especially family, because my father likes to embarrass me) - but with Brent, I have never thought twice about introducing him to anyone. He is one of the most kind and generous people I have ever met, and I cannot say enough good things about him. He is definitely my better half. :-)

4. Tradition

My love for tradition can be traced back to my childhood. I think tradition provides a framework within which one can begin to identify himself or herself, and it also instills a sense of togetherness and belonging that over the years I have found difficult to duplicate. Although I have always been a creature of habit and I have an extreme dislike for change, another great thing about tradition is that it has the capability to evolve over time depending on the situation and the needs of those involved. As I said earlier regarding my family, some of my fondest memories are rooted in tradition. While many traditions have come and gone in my life, I greatly look forward to continuing those old traditions that do still exist, as well as creating new ones in the future.

5. Giving

One of the things that brings great joy to my life is being able to give to others. I love finding the perfect present to put a smile on someone's face, and I would much rather buy for others than buy for myself. As a result, I go overboard sometimes (mostly when it comes to my nephews and nieces), and my budget goes out the window, particularly at Christmas. Giving to me isn't solely about material items, though. While a present can be meaningful, I find it much more deeply rewarding to give of myself. I have always been the type of person who puts others before myself, and there is no length I won't go to for my loved ones. Most people would say this is one of my greatest flaws, but I personally feel it is one of my greatest strengths.

6. Hockey

One of my biggest passions in life is the great sport of hockey. Unfortunately for me, hockey is not the most prominent of sports in Indiana. I have been lucky enough to travel to several nearby cities (as well as a couple of cities not so nearby) associated with NHL franchises, the most important of those being Detroit, Michigan! :-) One of my goals in life is to attend an NHL game at each of the 30 NHL arenas. So far I have been to six NHL arenas, however there is one team I will have to travel to watch a second time - the Phoenix Coyotes. When I visited Phoenix in March of 2003 for the 2002-2003 season, the Coyotes played at America West Arena. Shortly afterward, the Coyotes started off the 2003-2004 season in October of 2003 playing at their new arena, Jobing.com Arena. If only I had waited seven months to see the Phoenix Coyotes! :-D

7. Christmas Lights

I decided to include an extra item on my list, what with Christmas being less than a week away. One of my favorite things about the holiday season has always been driving around to look at Christmas lights. On my way to work this morning, I contemplated taking a different route until I quickly remembered the house I pass by each morning that is entirely decked out in Christmas lights (unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the house - I would feel weird taking a picture of someone's house without their permission). Even though I drive past this house every morning and evening during the week, each time I pass by it I am just as excited to see it as I was when I first saw it. It's a shame that more people don't decorate their houses for the holidays.

Since there are less than six people that I know of who read this blog, rather than tag six people I am simply going to encourage anyone who happens across this post to complete the exercise. And of course, leave me a comment when you do so I can read your list! :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Down with the Sickness!

Last night, Disturbed was in concert at the Murat Egyptian Room in downtown Indianapolis. Having been alerted by my friend Brian the day tickets went on sale back in October, I immediately purchased two tickets for what would quickly become a sold out show. (Usually I am a procrastinator extraordinaire and would have waited to buy tickets, especially since the venue is general admission only - thankfully, I went against my typical nature!)

My boyfriend Brent and I arrived at the Egyptian Room about a half an hour before the show was slated to start, and I was quickly reminded of why I hate going to concerts in the Winter. Leaving our jackets behind in the car, we walked quickly towards the growing line of people waiting to get into the concert, which not only went down the sidewalk, but wrapped around the building as well. We had both decided to wear our gloves, which helped greatly in keeping us somewhat warmer than we would have otherwise been, and thankfully the line moved relatively quickly so before long we were inside. (That's not to say I didn't tell Brent the entire time we were standing in line how much I hated him for making me go to the concert and stand outside in the cold, even though I am the one who purchased the tickets.)

The opening band was The Art of Dying, and I have to say - I was not impressed. (As Brent said afterward, they certainly killed onstage.) They sounded like your typical run of the mill alternative rock band, whatever alternative rock is supposed to mean nowadays. Being from Canada, I would have expected better (after all, modern day hockey did originate in the great province of Quebec) - but alas, it was not to be. Their best song was a cover of the song Them Bones by Alice in Chains, and even that could have been better.

Unfortunately, for the first half of the Disturbed show, I was even less impressed (it was my third time seeing Disturbed in concert, and the show was quickly becoming my least favorite of the three). It sounded like the volume for the vocals was set too high, and lead singer David Draiman's voice kept cracking while he was singing, not to mention he ruined my favorite song, Land of Confusion, by perverting some of the lyrics. After a mere hour of playing, Draiman said thank you and goodnight, and the members of the band walked offstage. Of course, there was still the encore, and when the band returned to the stage and began singing, everything sounded MUCH better. It was almost like we were at a completely different show.

Afterwards, Brent and I were standing off to the side waiting for some of the crowd to disperse when the father of one of my oldest nephew's wrestling teammates came over to say hello. At first, I thought it was just the dad at the concert with his friend, which for some reason I found absolutely hilarious. A couple of minutes later the son came over to say hello though, so naturally I had to jokingly give him grief about being out late on a school night (a sure sign I am getting old).

All in all, I had a great time at the concert, and I will be looking forward to the next time Disturbed returns to Indianapolis!

Breaking the Habit.

It is no secret that for quite some time now (sadly, for much longer than I would care to admit), I have been stuck in a rut. Over the past several years, I have watched myself become less and less of the bright, vibrant person of my youth, and while all along I have lamented this fact, I have failed to do anything to turn things around.

After stumbling upon Suz's Bookshelf Blog and reading a book she reviewed there, The Next thing on My List by Jill Smolinski, and reading Suz's own life list, I was inspired to create a life list of my own in the hope that it would help me break out of my rut. I decided to make a list of thirty things I want to do before I turn thirty, which is in less than two years. (Yikes!) The following is my list.

My 30 Before 30 List
  1. Try snowboarding.
  2. Join a recreational sports team.
  3. Go see a movie at the movie theater by myself.
  4. Eat at a restaurant by myself.
  5. Write in a journal every day for a month.
  6. Find a cause I am passionate about and get involved.
  7. Educate myself about politics so I can intelligently and effectively defend my political beliefs.
  8. Volunteer at Agape Therapeutic Riding Center.
  9. Learn to ice skate (more specifically, learn to stop without running into the wall of the ice rink).
  10. Buy 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton bed sheets.
  11. Dress up for Halloween (as an adult, Halloween is my least favorite holiday, so I have not dressed up for Halloween since I was a child).
  12. Learn to drive a stick shift.
  13. Be able to run two miles without stopping.
  14. Travel somewhere I have never been.
  15. Visit my maternal grandmother's grave in Evansville, Indiana (the only time I have been to my grandmother's grave was at her funeral, so I have not seen her headstone).
  16. Take the GRE and decide whether or not to apply for graduate school.
  17. Learn basic German.
  18. Attend the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
  19. Have a cookie-baking weekend.
  20. Spend an entire day (24 hours) with my cell phone turned off.
  21. Get dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner.
  22. Go on a carriage ride in downtown Indianapolis. (For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to go on one of these carriage rides, and I have always said the first man to take me on one was the man I was going to marry. Seeing as how I am nearing thirty and I have never been married, I figured it was time to take destiny into my own hands.)
  23. Tour the Scottish Rite Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis.
  24. Donate blood.
  25. Take ballroom dancing lessons or swing dancing lessons.
  26. Learn to bake madeleines.
  27. Hold a conversation with a stranger.
  28. Attend the Circle of Lights Festival in Indianapolis.
  29. Mail out Christmas cards in time for the cards to arrive BEFORE Christmas. (Every year I buy Christmas cards, and every year the cards never get mailed out. I have quite a vast collection of Christmas cards, and cards for every other holiday for that matter, in my greeting card box.)
  30. Make a new friend (one not connected to someone I already know).
I tried to create a list consisting of a variety of items, including ones that would be fairly easy to complete, as well as several that will push me beyond my comfort zone. While my original intention was to only include items that are within my control, I did let one creep in that is not entirely so - number 18. While I have every intention of attending the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four, it is not simply a matter of purchasing tickets, reserving a hotel room, and driving to Detroit, MI. Tickets are only available through an application process, and are awarded through a lottery system. If you have purchased Frozen Four tickets before, your application is given priority, but a certain number of tickets are set aside for those who are attempting to purchase tickets for the first time. So, you see, as someone who has not previously purchased Frozen Four tickets, I am going to be relying heavily on luck to score tickets (which, historically, my luck tends to be very, very bad). Either that, or I have to hope I have enough money to purchase tickets at an outrageously inflated price from one of the individuals who is lucky enough to be selected through the lottery system and decides to sell their tickets, for whatever reason. (I think I better start saving now, just to be safe.)

The bottom line is at 28-years-old, I feel like I have wasted my life thus far. I am extremely unhappy a majority of the time, I still have a great deal to learn about who I am as a person, and I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. This list is about rediscovering happiness, learning as much as possible about myself and life, and hopefully discovering my life's purpose (or at least what would make me feel like my life is meaningful and worthwhile, and that I am having a positive impact on the world).

If you would like to keep up with the progress I am making on my list, I have dedicated a separate blog to the endeavor, What Is On My List.