Checking In…

It's time for another progress report on my "30 Before 30" list. Regarding the deadline, let's just say I keep asking for and granting extensions. 23-year-old Ardith is thankful for the more flexible time constraints, I like to believe. (That could be Present Me projecting.)

First, the last update from 2015. If you remember, I whittled my definitive list down to a handful of items. Below is the progress made since then, along with some notes where necessary.

The List
1. Visit theItalian town my Italian ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)

2. Visit Australia and New Zealand

3. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i – Completed in February 2017

4. Learn to swim

5. Learn to ride a bike – Completed as of July 2017 (Well, my three class beginner series ended, and it ended with me being able to successfully ride in circles in a single gear! The learning continues.)

6. Learn more Spanish and Tagalog 

7. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines – Finally completed as of April 2017 (And I plan to go again. Coincidentally, I returned to SE Asia a month later on a business exchange to our Vietnam office.)

8. Travel to the Oregon Coast again

9. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Change of plans: Completed my USAW Sports Performance Coach certification in June 2017

10. Visit Iceland – December 2015

11. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away – See #10!

Giving me a little bit of extra time seemed to be the trick to ticking off more of my pared-down dream list.*

To be honest, this check-in was inspired primarily by my bicycling milestone. Can you believe this 31-year-old learned to ride a bike in three Sunday sessions? My goal was to be able to ride a bike at a reasonable speed on reasonably level ground, and I'm tickled that I met it. Now, clear the road and get out of my way–mostly for your own safety, because I'm still not fantastic at riding in a straight line.

*Full disclosure: I have a list of 100 dreams I created during a challenge issued by my work. The 11 items here are just a sliver of the whole. I would also be lying if I said most of my 100 dreams aren't travel-related… More to come.

Why I Stayed

I log in, after scribbling a few bullet points on professional hopes and dreams in a notebook.

The button reads, “Write.”

Click.

That brings us to now. (I told you I wasn’t leaving.)

Several months… okay, almost two years ago, I wrote about my departure from higher education and student affairs. Almost two years later, I am still with my “new” employer, and I continue to build upon the foundation set by my learning and experience in student affairs.

I have also learned a fair amount about myself, about how to be more honest with what I want and what I need. Recently, I have been having conversations about what comes next for me; this requires multiple conversations and layers of unpacking, as I cannot seem to travel down a linear pathway. In my world, linear pathways just don’t exist.

I’ve learned that, while I certainly have a propensity to gravitate towards service roles, working with customers, students, and clients directly, there are strengths and interests I need to tend to and cultivate. I miss research and writing–activities nearly exclusive to my undergraduate and graduate career; I miss those hours spent synthesizing disparate sources to compose and share knowledge, and to create further questions and learning for myself and others. I have not had the space to be as intensely passionate (oh dear, I used that word) as I was about spiritual development or identity development or even the idea of how a concept as abstract as “trust” plays into the development or lack of relationships. I crave it.

Today, I shared with another person a sliver of my dreams, and as soon as I had a moment to start to elaborate on an idea I had, about a topic I thought I had a remote interest in, I found myself speaking without taking a breath, engrossed in elaborating on the questions I wanted to know more about. That spark I knew I still had is very much alive, and it’s up to me to continue to stoke the fire. Somehow, somewhere along my recent professional journey, I didn’t allow myself to truly pursue that which gave me energy because those things were “scary” or because I believe myself to be woefully unqualified.

Now, this isn’t to say that I’m bad at the jobs I held or what I currently do. It isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy what I do or the organization I’m at. In fact, everything I process in my head and put down on paper confirms that I am exactly where I want to be. Because of that, I also have the ability to finally allow myself to pursue ways in which my dominant strengths will flourish.

So what if I don’t have an MFA, nor have I ever held a position in which learning and development or training or writing were a significant component. Do I possess the skills to excel in roles that might demand these things? Sure. Do I possess an amount of confidence in myself to continue to learn, explore, and make positive impact on the community around me? Of course.

Am I committed to cultivating a mindset for success?

Well, I sure hope so. The only way to know is to stay long enough to find out.

The New 30 Before 30

On December 3rd, 2015, I will turn 30-years-old.

A long time ago, about when I was in the midst of my quarter-life crisis, I thought I was running out of time, butting up against a deadline to finish so many significant things before seeing the last digit of my age reset to “0.” (For further readings on this topic, please feel free to browse the archives from 2008 through about 2013.)

Oh, Past Ardith. You’re adorable.

Time changes things. In my case, I’ve loosened up those timelines. The anxiety of not living up to outsiders’ preconceived notions of what I needed to have done and when is greatly diminished. I feel less frantic and more calm. I’m still future-oriented, but in a different way.

When I was 23, though, I took some sort of advice I read somewhere and made a “bucket list” for my twenties, the “30 Before 30” list. It had some wishes, many involving travel, and my original list expected me to be married somewhere between the ages of 28 and 30.

Ohh, Past Ardith. Seriously so cute.

Life–as it tends to do–happened, though. I went back to school. I dated (“dated?”) boys who were perfectly wrong for me. I moved cities. I met new people. I read new things. I wrote more. I wrote less. I traveled places. I accumulated more debt. I failed repeatedly at budgeting. I finally found a budgeting tool that worked. I changed jobs. I changed industries. I changed lives. I found my mode of fitness. I met someone amazing. I grew new relationships and maintained old ones.

Somewhere along the line, the deadline for my 30 Before 30 was extended. Some of the projects lost their luster or immediateness. Somewhere along the line, I relaxed, and started to truly enjoy the ride.

I never gave up on my original 30 Before 30 list. I just came to terms with the fact that there’s not really anything on there that won’t be more beautiful if/when it happens in its own time.

Here’s the list as it stood as of its last revision.

Now, with 30 actually looming, I feel like removing the completed items and striking out items that don’t hold the same weight as they did when I crafted this list at the age of 23.

2. Visit the Italian town my Italian ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)
3. Visit Australia and New Zealand
4. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i
5. Learn to swim
6. Learn to ride a bike
8. Learn more Spanish and Tagalog 
9. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines
12. Travel to the Oregon Coast again
13. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
16. Visit Iceland*
30. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away*

These are the hopes and wishes I would like to keep. Don’t laugh too hard at #5 and #6, please. But also keep in mind that they’ve been on the list for over seven years now, so some laughter is appropriate.

I had an extra item that, arguably, was the most important to me when I revised my list a few years ago:

“31. Meet someone amazing and give the relationship 100%.”

Happy to say that one is still in-progress, because giving a relationship 100% isn’t a one-time thing.

*And guess what? #16 and #30 are currently happening right now, with the subject of #31 also along for the ride.

And there you have it. I’ve culled the list a bit and kept the things I want to do someday. No deadline. It feels better that way.

Naturally, there’s more that could be added. Pay off debts. Read and write more. Travel to many more places (poor John knows this–every day elicits at least two new, “Ooh! We have to go there!” comments from me). Continue my fitness journey. Things like that, along with other hopes and dreams that I’d like to keep closer to the heart now, instead of pasting them across the blogosphere.

Living life as if it’s just one big “To Do” list doesn’t seem genuine for me, and I look forward to this next decade and beyond.

I share this all, too, because it feels so trivial to worry about “getting older” when the globe seems to be on the verge of another world war. The vitriol towards so many and the unthinkable acts of violence around the world are too much for me to process, and I am just one unremarkable human who doesn’t know where to start other than within. All I can do is live and love and get behind those who speak up for the beliefs which resonate with mine. 

I am on the verge of 30, and I have led a life of relative comfort and privilege. As such, I led a life plagued by feelings of inadequacy in the realms of romance, finance, looks, fitness, and adventure. I am more than okay with leaving those feelings behind, associated with the “20-something” version of myself.

I hope that as I continue to grow, that I find balance in my personal endeavors and that of doing good. I hope that these worldly adventures continue to widen my perspective. And I hope that I have learned to be resilient enough that my feelings don’t hamper my ability to actually take action in the areas where I think it matters. That goes for myself, my community, and the issues that know no borders.

Here’s to turning 30, to making meaning, to living love, to seeing the world, and to (hopefully) becoming wiser.

   
    
    
   

“To live is the…

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde

Been living life and starting to feel grounded in my wanderings. I miss this space, but I needed to get my headspace tidied up. 

More to come.

Everything I Wanted

Note: Someone apparently found my blog with the search terms “cumberpatch oscars” this week. Huh. There’s that.

This is the year that many of my friends and I will mark our tenth year out of high school. I’ve heard some laments of, “Oh, I’m so old now! Where did the time go?” yet I can’t help but marvel at all that’s happened in the past decade.

I moved to the rainy side of the mountains, after enrolling in college. I met great people. I decided to take my major in a completely different direction. I had some adventures. Maybe I even fell in love. I learned to appreciate beer and 80s dancing. I was head cheerleader. I laughed, I cried, I deleted many photos off Facebook because I graduated from college and entered the “real world.” (Not that college wasn’t real–it was transformative, in fact.)

I lived on my own. I experienced depression. I stood crying on the side of the road on Christmas morning when I realized I was snowed in, but I used my distress to my advantage and still made to Wenatchee for Christmas. I decided to take my life in another career direction. My friends got married. I got dumped. I applied to grad school (and was accepted to six out of seven programs). I met someone new. I left the country. I saw places I’d never seen before. I rediscovered my love of airplanes. I learned how to take a subway and navigate countries where I didn’t know the language all that well. I came home. More friends got married. I was deceived and left alone again.

I moved to another state, which wasn’t quite as drastic as another country. I met new people. I learned new things. I worked. I chose partners who weren’t ready for someone like me, but we still had some good times. I lost my father, but I knew he would have told me to continue doing great things. I traveled to the opposite coast for a conference. I finished year one of graduate school. I traveled to another country, this time one with sun and blue seas. I came home and lived in my hometown for the remainder of summer. Friends kept getting married. My mom met someone new. Classmates had children.

I started looking for jobs. I created a portfolio of work. I immersed myself in internships and papers. I quit going to the gym. I spent too much time at Happy Hour, but “too much time” can’t be measured against the company I kept and the stories we shared (and the broken glasses and scolding words the waitress gave my friends). I defended my portfolio. I went to more conferences. I got my first higher education job. I moved to a city I admired. I met more people. I began to work with students in a full-time professional capacity. I received my Master’s degree.

I decided I was too fat, so I joined a CrossFit gym. I didn’t cry, but I couldn’t walk for several days. I traveled to different states. I tried online dating. I had a nice, straight-forward relationship. I realized we weren’t a good match. I broke up with him. I devoted more time to the gym. I visited my friends up north on weekends. I learned new skills. I traveled to more states. I had my first workshop accepted at a national conference. I came in second or third or maybe fourth in a dating race, and that was enough for me to swear off dating for several months.

I needed more time in Seattle, so I started looking for jobs up north. I deliberately spent the summer single. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I found a new job. I left people I loved who I would visit on weekends as much as possible. I moved. I met even more people. I joined a new gym. I presented at that national conference. My friends and family members got married or had kids or got new jobs or bought new houses.

As for me, I’m not sure what happens next. I’m being forced to move into a new house, and the competition is fierce. I might be living on a couch for a bit. I might be looking at PhD programs, but not for a few years. I might be fighting Sallie Mae over my student loans, which aren’t even really that bad, but they’re enough that sometimes I feel ashamed, even though the work that I put in to both my degrees was priceless (and I do fully believe that). I want to travel to many more countries. I want to write more, and cook more, and spend more time in the gym. I want to meet even more people.

I finally let go of the loneliness that had plagued me since junior high and high school. I don’t feel the urgency in finding someone. I don’t graffiti my blog with sadness over being on my own anymore. I feel it sometimes, on cold nights especially, but it is not painful nor crippling; it is just my current state of being.

Somewhere in the last ten years, I became my own person, and I became enough for me. Everything I thought I needed was just something I was too afraid to do myself. The traveler. The writer. The fitness junkie. The cook. The person who appreciates great food and drinks. The funny one. Even the one with great hair and the one with a good smile. The smart one.

These weren’t partners I was searching for. It was me I was searching for the whole time; I had it wrong. Even though I don’t have the house or the husband or the shiny new car or the kids (or even the pets) that suit so many other people so very well–and even though my current situation is a little bit more turbulent than expected–I can tell you one thing about the last decade:

I learned how to be happy being me.

The Last Few Weeks (Now With Pictures!)

I went away for a couple of days.

No, not actually away-away; I’ve just been busy, yet again. I’ve started poking around at PhD programs again, resolving yet another internal battle. This one’s kind of a long-term project, but I’ll deal with it.

Everything else I’ve been doing… well, let’s do this in picture form!

main_14I haven’t been dating anyone! The furthest I’ve gotten is a few text conversations. I’m doing really well at being single in the city. Good job at getting out there, self.

Hello-Kitty-House-in-Shanghai-1The house I live in has been foreclosed! And now I have to move again. The new owners bought it yesterday, and we’re still sorting out the timelines for moving. I’m THRILLED to have to pack up everything again and deal with the stress of competing with other displaced tenants throughout the city. Not to mention coming up with yet another deposit. Fantastic.

Overhead-Press-1I’ve been strict pressing. A little bit. I did some heavier presses last week, and I threw in 50 presses with the bar into my modified WOD today. (For a few days, I’m trying to stay away from movements that will stress my knees. I flared up my old, chronic knee problems between a botched shuttle run a month ago and a 5K a few weeks later. Neat.)

crossfit-double-underI’ve also worked on my double-unders. I suppose we’ll see what things look like next week, after my knee calms down. One of my coaches basically scrapped everything I thought I knew about double-unders and started me from scratch. But after only a few days, I’ve had some break-throughs. Things feel much better. They’re getting there.

Sherlock-Season-1-Promo-sherlock-on-bbc-one-30672916-1406-865And I’m officially Sherlocked. Started watching on February 15th, so that’s where I’ve primarily been between work and the gym. Oh my goodness, this show is good. My mind feels so sharp and yet so “Jell-O”-like at the same time. How is that possible? Probably something to do with that Cumberbatch voice and big words. Probably. Is this why I’m picking up the PhD search again? Huh. Subliminal messaging is an odd bird.

And that’s the run-down. Now, with Doctor Who and Sherlock on breaks, and only a few intermittent HIMYM episodes before the show ends (forever!), I’m probably going to try and do some sort of balance of work, CrossFit, dance, reading, and writing. I’m such a bore during winter.

When’s the sun coming back?

A Woman Can Change Her Mind

Well, I did it again. I’ve found myself in yet another quarter-life/existential crisis. I think it has something to do with working at UW, and suddenly feeling like my professional-prep Master’s degree wasn’t as lofty as I could have achieved, and it has to do a bit with still trying to break the habit of jumping ahead of myself several years, and probably some other underlying aspects, including an insatiable love for learning and the inability to sit still for a second.

That’s all fine, though. I’ll work through this. It’ll just take some real talk with myself, and maybe some hiding in my room, mapping out my interests and strengths and identifying some goals and stuff.

In the same vein, I’ve been thinking about revising my 30 Before 30 again. I created my 30 Before 30 list when I was 24. It’s funny how quickly these things, my priorities, my interests, seem to change. I seem to do this every two years. That’s fine. I don’t know if a lot of this is doable financially, but whatever. Goals and dreams and goals and dreams, and I’m not going to get hunted down by the blogosphere if I don’t finish everything.

Alright. Here are the newest revisions. (With 30 approaching in less than two years, my prediction is that a number of revisions will occur more rapidly. And probably extending the list into a “30 before 40.”)

1. Visit E in Spain Done!
2. Visit the Italian town my ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)
3. Visit Australia and New Zealand
4. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i
5. Learn to swim
6. Learn to ride a bike
7. Learn to make great cocktails on my own
8. Learn Spanish and Tagalog – Alright, well, I’ve signed up for Duolingo, and have been getting a few short lessons in each day. It’s better than nothing. I even tested out of a few initial skills; seems like I still remember some Spanish.
9. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines
10. Earn a master’s degree in student affairs administration – Done!
11. Have one more Wenatchee summer – Done
12. Revised: Take another trip down the Oregon Coast
13. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate – This one’s scary for several reasons: 1. I don’t have $1k to spend on a certificate; 2. I’m still not that great at CrossFit; 3. It might also mean pursuing my interest in coaching other newbies. (And thus, complimenting my academic side with my “want to run around in workout clothes all day” side.)
14. Hike the Enchantments
15. Hike part of the Pacific Crest trail (WA portion)
16. Revised: Go to Iceland
17. Make blogging a priority – In-progress; and lumping in a revised point #13: blog about CrossFit, having great (and maybe transformative) conversations with others, travel (including great food and drink in great Northwest cities). Basically, blog about the important things in life that contribute to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
18. Get a piece of poetry or a research article published/present at a conference – Presentation: complete!
19. Write a book and get it published – This has been in-progress for a long time, I guess.
20. Perform improv or stand-up
21. Be an extra in a movie
22. Get professional-quality headshots/model shots just for fun
23. Try out for a semi-pro/professional dance/cheer team – Done, to an extent.
24. Meet Neil Patrick Harris – Okay, probably not realistic…
25. Revised: Get fit, and have my body reflect it  – In-progress…
26. Save for a sweet city condo
27. Go to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, Wales
28. Read more books
29. Take the train moreDone; I think after my last Christmas train experience, I’m good on American trains…
30. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away

Still leaving my 31st bullet on here, though…

31. Meet someone amazing and give the relationship 100%.

These are all personal things, yeah? Yeah. They are. And maybe they seem scarier and more daunting than professional goals because there’s not as much structure in these things. My professional career is, in all actuality, pretty easy to grasp; I am having some trouble articulating what I want my future job to look like and in what functional area it should be, but it’s straight-forward: do a good job in my current role, seek out development, gain the skills, refine the interests, and take next steps when necessary. Boom.

I need the fire under myself to get me moving on other things, though. I don’t work well without some kind of guidance, which is why I’m finally meeting some personal goals through CrossFit and now Duolingo. There are milestones to reach, and there are mechanisms to keep me accountable. If I can find that kind of structure for the points above, especially the travel goals, I can put a lot more in-reach.

I’ve got some thinking to do for the rest of the week. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do (when don’t I, though?).

What’s keeping you going?