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.

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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.

   
    
    
   

But Why Not…

“Okay, #SAchat. I have something to admit: I feel like I’ve let you down. I feel cynical and uninspired, and I’m uncertain how to change it.”

I sent out the above tweet earlier today. I sent it out right in the middle of a weekly #SAchat happening, but it wasn’t directly related nor triggered by the conversation. In fact, it wasn’t even related nor tied to particular #SAchat threads. No, it’s something I’ve been sitting on for quite some time, and I can’t even pinpoint how long ago that I started to feel this way.

Since making the move from being a student affairs graduate student to being a full-time professional, I’ve seemingly disengaged, and I’ve done so much, much more than I expected. As a #SAgrad, I was thirsty for knowledge, to learn, to immerse myself in the information about student affairs and higher education. I was ready to be the catalyst that sparked students’ “a-ha!” moments. And in many ways, today–I am. Sometimes those moments are difficult, like when I have to gently explain that the major for which I advise is not a viable option. And other times, those moments are wonderful, like when I can help a student reframe what it is about their current major that will help them in the long-run, especially when they can’t quite connect the dots between the “now” and the “yet to come.”

I have made new connections. I have strengthened many existing connections. I’ve lost several connections, too, though, and I was saddened to see how far removed I had become from several specific contacts. They used to be major drivers behind why I was pursuing my degree, and they believed that I would go out and do great things in the field. And to see that they’re just now on the peripheral of my professional life makes me step back and wonder if I’ve slipped into mediocrity. I feel like a promising college quarterback who went on to the NFL and just did… alright. Not bad, not outstanding, but just… okay. “Meh.”

I like to think that I do a good job. In my recent six-month review, I was pleased to see that I could identify where and how I’d fulfilled my job description and many of the goals I set out for myself. I presented at a national conference. I’m gearing up to present at another conference next week. My students wave and smile when they see me (hey! They know me! They like me!).

But even then, I feel like I’m sitting on my own potential. You’ve probably all seen how rabidly obsessed I became with CrossFit. Why does this hobby, activity, sport, lifestyle get to me like nothing else really has? Why am I writing about my fitness non-stop but not the profession that I spent more than two years writing about non-stop?! For starters, I can point to the team aspect and the part where I’m getting in the best shape of my life.

Beyond that, CrossFit is something that is truly difficult for me. CrossFit is actually something that I’m bad at, despite all my posts and affection for it. I suck at CrossFit. I was worse when I began, and I’m better now, but I have a very long road ahead of me. In other words, it challenges me like nothing ever has before. But I see what I’m learning, I can apply what I’m learning to many other aspects of my life, and this silly sport might be just what I need to kick my own butt into high gear.

I’m talking beyond fitness. The thing about what I do professionally is that I like it, I feel like I do make a difference, and I feel like I am constantly applying theory into practice. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t mean that I don’t have enough to do; I have many projects to balance, and I enjoy the variety of things that I do in my capacity as an adviser and “curriculum support specialist” (we never settled on an official “ampersand” part of my Academic Adviser title, but this gets at it).

What I mean is, if my dad were still alive, he would probably lecture me on not challenging myself enough. He would be telling me to write more. He would be telling me to travel more. He would be telling me to go out there, ask questions, and use my noggin. What I’m basically getting at is, I would continue the good work I do now but take it a step further. He would back me all the way if I said, “Then I suppose I need to pursue my doctorate.” I want to feel the same drive about my career that I do about my fitness. Staying hungry. Wanting more.

I am beginning to think that “research” is when I thrive. I say “when” because I mean the act of formulating a question, seeking out the information, crafting the information, writing the information, sharing the information, and then repeating the process… actually, I just got really into what I just said there. That’s… that’s where I’m supposed to fit in.

CrossFit, for example, fascinates me. The premise of it is basic enough: high-intensity, constantly varied, etc. and so forth. In terms of what it does to my body physically, I’m not super-interested in that. What I’m interested in, though, are ideas of:

Why do I, personally, keep going back for more? The workouts are high-intensity, and I routinely think, “I hate this. What am I doing?” What’s at work, psychologically?

Who are the people that keep going back for more? Do we share common themes (e.g., extrovert/introvert; team-sport background; social interaction needs, wants, ideals; motivation)?

Who are the people that aren’t participating? Who doesn’t the model work for, in terms of who starts and then subsequently stops (e.g., personality type; athletic background; motivation)? Who is not starting and what are the barriers (e.g., socioeconomic status [Is CrossFit a grittier substitute for the country club?]; cultural norms)–and this question in particular then also feeds into deeply-rooted sociological issues that aren’t necessarily going to be changed by CrossFit or the athletes… but they are things I think of.

Pair this with my interest in holistic wellness and spiritual well-being, stemming from graduate school. If learning happens outside the classroom, then learning also happens outside the walls of institutions. What can I do with this? What are the burning questions I’m trying to get at here?

Well, I’ve got a few questions I’m developing. Now… I guess it’s a matter of starting the research. Slowly, with Google Scholar and whatnot.

When I came out of graduate school, I had a very clear of idea of where I wanted to begin my journey: academic advising. However, I had no clue where I wanted that path to go next. Framed just in terms of administration, I couldn’t pinpoint very many things. I thought I wanted to avoid the hard work of more advanced education, as well. I thought I wanted to avoid pigeon-holing myself into scare tenure-track faculty roles. I thought I wanted to avoid further student debt.

But then I got to thinking about all the people who believe in me (and those that would, if they were still here). And they would believe wholeheartedly that by going after the scary things, the impossible things, that beyond the odds, I would find my place.

So… just a few final thoughts to wrap up my long-drawn-out story of why I’ve been so “blah” lately and why my #SApro and #SAchat friends may have been worried that I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, never to emerge again. I’m not jaded; I’m hungry for more knowledge. I’m not depressed; I’m not pushing myself like I should be. I’m not discontent with where I’ve landed; in fact, it’s given me the clarity and the setting I needed to start to conceptualize my potential. And this will all take time and planning and the occasional swift kick from friends and family.

I’ll leave you with this tonight, just to chew on it:

Successful people pursue hard things. Unsuccessful people avoid them.” – Greg Glassman (via way of a friend)

“‘…why not you?'” – Russell Wilson

 

 

 

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.

Twenty-Eight

I love my birthday. There is no doubt about that. Today celebrated an especially good anniversary around the sun on an especially good day.

Sure, I worked. And yes, I went to the gym like I normally do. But everything is so much more special on a birthday. There was a holiday party, full of cookies and good conversation; I, of course, insisted that the party had been thrown solely in my honor. And later, I set a new personal record for back squat–30lbs. heavier than my last maximum attempt in June.

During late dinner, friends from different walks of life joined me, ranging from a friend I’ve known for almost a decade to a brand-new friend from my new gym. It was lovely, that’s for sure.

This year has taught me so much about myself. I’m stronger than I thought, physically and mentally. I still have weaknesses to face. I can love fiercely, and I can thrive independently. (This was the year of #bestsummerever, after all.) I am curious and thirsty for new knowledge and new skills. And I am finally becoming confident and ready to stop holding back.

Here’s to 28. May it be the best year yet.

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Regeneration*

My identity is ever-becoming.

I am acting strange because I am once again wrestling with who I am, what I want, what I love, where I’m going.

This move was necessary, a step to trigger the turbulence.

I’m sorry to my friends to whom I’ve sent a million messages, and I apologize that they’re so dramatic. But this is me. This is me processing. It seems, at times, dark and chaotic. And it is.

But the thing is…

this is me becoming better than I ever was before.

* And yes, of course this is a tip-of-the-hat to my favorite TV show.** Which also brings me to another point: I’m going to be on media black-out from Nov. 23rd through the 25th. I don’t have access to BBC America, so I’ll be catching The Day of the Doctor on the 25th, and I don’t want to hear any spoilers.

** EDIT: That should say “favourite,” I suppose.

Eat. Play. Live.

How many times have I said I’m thankful for having my quarter-life crisis now, instead of a huge meltdown in my 30s or 40s? (Although, that’s ruling out the possibility of that actually happening… and I should know better.)

Anyway, I was thinking (as I was trying to pull on a pair of shorts that may now be a bit too small in the waist area) about how much happier I am in this place. Like the author of Eat, Pray, Love, I’ve put on some extra weight in this search for self-appreciation and purpose. While I looked really good about 10 pounds lighter, I was also about a hundred times unhappier. Since going to grad school, I’ve found time to socialize, eat in good company, and still try and stay healthy. I was hovering around my ideal weight when I hit a six-week period of illness–and seeing that I apparently gain weight like crazy when I’m sick, I got back up to my latter-college weight. While that’s not happy/fun, overall, I feel better. I’m working on establishing exercise routines that challenge me and will help me get back into shape, but I’m also being aware that I need to stay emotionally balanced.

One thing that I’m hoping to get out of this is the creation of a “work-out buddy” system for the CSSA cohorts. Right now, I’m envisioning either a matching system, like we do with mentors and mentees, or a simpler Google database of names, with goals and availability and contact information.

Another bright idea is the expansion of “family dinners.” A few of us have been getting together and cooking real meals with each other, although often, those meals consist of nachos. I’m not complaining, though.

And from there, perhaps the sharing of cultural dishes. We sort of touched on this with the CSSA Easter and “Midwest vs. Northwest Throwdown” potlucks. I cooked chicken adobo for Easter, and brought yummy Washington wine and Northwest cheese and smoked salmon for the latter event. I’ll also have some new favorites from Trinidad and Tobago to share, and maybe I’ll be motivated to pick up a Spanish cookbook to recreate my favorites from last year.

What I’m getting at isn’t really that complicated. I experience culture and life through food and activities. Activities that involve food are even better. However, I want to get healthier, and perhaps the best way to do that is to make working out social–much like I’ve done with meal times.

Doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, after all. Now, it’s time to dig around in the fridge for some leftover Trini treats.