Independent Bliss

For some, there comes a point in your life when you are blissfully happy with who you are and where you are at in this journey. This bliss is independent of people, significant others, children, work or environment: as in, none of the mentioned affect your happiness and relationship with the self.

You might not be where you thought you’d be, but you realize you are enamored with this leg of your journey. Every move seems beautiful, even if it isn’t the right one. Not everyone gets to experience this, and sometimes you have to work towards this bliss. And sometimes it comes after extreme heartache, struggles or a downfall. I believe you might even have to hit rock bottom to know it.

But when you do…when you can sit in a room and stare at the ceiling and be content with the life you live, you’ve reached it. You’re there. You know you have arrived and you are capable of reaching your goals and experiencing life fully. You are whole.

That’s my two cents.

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Hindsight is Always 20/20

Blog fail.

I have to apologize for my two weeks of absence.  Lots of changes have happened in my life, and it’s been difficult to put fingers to keyboard and write with one clear frame of mind when my energy is focused on trying to get my life in order.  I normally don’t write about the little details of my life here.  And I try to be super positive and inspirational, but even inspirational people go through hard times.  We’re human, but sometimes the blog world forces us to put on a happy face and write about all the good things.  When in reality, the true human experience isn’t always good, it’s not always sunshine and unicorns and puppy dogs, even though I love me some puppy dogs.

So I’ve got some things to say, and…

the first big announcement: I left my job in the DC area.

Probably not on the best terms either.  Oh well.  It’s okay.  I wasn’t happy and I’ve figured out that Paula + desk + computer isn’t the best combination.  You learn things in moments like these; I guess I learned that maybe I’m just not cut out for the conventional 9 to 5 workplace.  That I really need to be doing something I’m passionate about when it comes to my career.

And then maybe another thing I learned is the company I worked for sucked majorly.  I wish I could rant and rave here, perhaps insert some expletives on my blog about, as I will, in all professionalism call them “Company X”, but I’d like to have a real-life job again one day and future employers (hi there!) might be reading this.  And well, “Company X” doesn’t really deserve the letters that I would type about it anyways.  It’s water under the bridge.

Second announcement: I’m moving back home to live with the parents for a while and figure things out (read: save money).

Eight months ago, I thought that moving to the DC area was going to give me some big epiphany.  I had visions that awesome, intellectual people would surround me every single night.  Maybe I’d even find a boyfriend, stop being so lonely, but all the single guys in DC suck  that definitely didn’t happen.  I also thought that I was missing out on something.  What is this something?  Does it even exist?  And in reality, I wasn’t.

I did the DC area thing for eight months.  Eight months of traffic, crappy public transportation and expensive rent.  Eight months of gas that was 30 cents more a gallon than in my hometown, a major city just two hours south.   Eight months of hour-long commutes five days a week.

I learned that unless you’re actually living in “DC proper”, you really won’t be doing a lot of “DC things”, nope; in fact, you’ll be doing a lot of suburbia things.

So I learned.  Would I live in the DC area again one day?  Yes, if I was living in the confines of the District.  But never again, Northern Virginia suburbia.  Never.  Ever.

And I know this post has been very pessimistic about my DC area experience.  I know, I know, who wants to read Debbie Downer’s blog? I certainly don’t.  And there were a lot of really awesome things I had the opportunity to experience during my time there, which I definitely touched on in some of my prior blog posts.  But this is what I’m feeling right now.  This is why I’ve decided to come home.

So what am I doing with my life now, you might wonder?

Well, I’m going to be working a less than my education level job as a pool manager, but that’s okay because it means no more Paula + desk + computer.  Yay!  I like being outside, I like people, and I like not staring at a computer and scanning receipts for eight hours a day.  And I used to lifeguard about five years ago so I kind of know the territory.  At the end of the day, I’ll also learn some valuable skills like, how to save people’s lives.  That’s kind of valuable, I think.  Maybe.

And it’s temporary.  Right now, I really need to, for my sanity, save money before I embark on a big life adventure I have tentative plans for this fall.

More on that later.

58:10 (x 2)

I’m not very fast.  In fact, my running pace is just enough to be considered “running”.

But running isn’t about beating the person next to you; it’s about accomplishing something for yourself.  It’s about improving your personal speed by five seconds every week.  It’s about running just .5 mile more without stopping than you did yesterday.

Our bodies are all different, and no matter how great of shape you’re in, sometimes you just aren’t able to run a 7 minute mile.  Even if you’re at a 10 minute (or more)/mile pace, you’re still running.  And that’s amazing.

Two weekends ago, on April 13th, I got to run in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, which is one of my favorite races.  When I first ran this race in Spring 2011, I fell in love.  It was (and still has been) one of my longest races at 6.2 miles.  The first year I ran, it was pretty chilly, and then last year, it was drizzly and cool (my favorite running weather), but this year, it was a beautiful, sunny 60 degree day.

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Qualified to run in a seeded wave this year!

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Starting line

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One of America’s Premier Races!

The Monument Avenue 10k is such a friendly race, and I believe it is in the top 10 of America’s most popular races.  There were 32,000 runners to complete the race this year!  It’s also incredibly organized with like 30 something start-time waves, a lot of water stops, a post-race party and meeting area, shuttles to the race, and even a bike valet!  It is run down and back one of America’s only historically recognized streets, Monument Avenue, which is absolutely beautiful and dotted with a handful of monuments recognizing great American leaders.  Part of it is run on cobblestones, which makes for a more challenging course, but it is relatively flat.  It is a wonderful “first” race, if you are looking for something longer than a 5k or have been running for a while, and trust me, if you’ve never done a race before, you will be addicted to running afterwards.  There are also walker waves – it’s a family friendly race!

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Happy Runner?

The community support along the route is amazing.  People standing on the sidewalk, cheering, clapping…clowns, cheerleaders, dancers, great signs like “I’d run, but who would hold this sign!” and “Free beer for quitters” (people are partying on their front decks and balconies along the course).  I see red solo cups and I run faster, if you know what I mean.  Bands line the street, bubbles are in the air.  It’s so much fun.  I am also really proud of my hometown for putting together an organized, exciting race every year that thousands come to participate in.  Great job RVA!  And props to SportsBackers, the non-profit that organizes many of the region’s races!

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Sweaty Asian Runner?

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American Gothic runners? These two won first place in the “Dress Up and Run” contest…and they ran the 10k holding the frame just like this!

Okay, to be honest, about mile 4, you might feel like you’re dying and want to quit.  But it’s still fun.

I really hadn’t set a “goal” time this year because I didn’t have a lot of time to train.  Of course, as a runner, we all like to do better than our previous PR (Personal Record).  And I ended up being decently happy with my time which was…

58 minutes, 10 seconds.  The exact same time as last year.  To the second.  Well, at least I can say I’m consistent.  However, my 5k split was faster, which bodes well for future 5k races!

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Yay! Finished!

Mom and Dad drove me to the race and watched this year.  Also, they probably saw me at my worst, at like mile 5.5 when I was kind of dying a little.  Still, it was great to have their support!

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Mom, the non-runner.

And then, I rode a runner’s high for the rest of the afternoon before the soreness hit the next day.  Runner’s high = Best feeling in the entire world.  I drove back to the DC area on Monday, but since I’ve been back, I’ve been nursing some weird stomach issue and haven’t felt like running, but I feel like I’m finally getting back to normal.  I’m excited to lace up my shoes for my next run though.  Maybe the next race will be a half-marathon? Maybe? Who knows!

Happy running!

Love Letters

115 Westover Avenue.  Williamsburg, Virginia.

I previously wrote about how our lives are affected by our living situations.  And I really got to thinking about it because I’ve been a bit of a transient lately.  I guess that’s a characteristic of post-grads; we’re trying to find our “place” (professionally, physically, mentally, socially), and with this comes moving around.  I think the places we live have an impact on our lives.  Maybe to some people, where they live is trivial, but not for me, because when we aren’t working or being social, where we live is where we spend a majority of our time.  So many “factors of place” exist:  Do we live in a city, and have closer access to nightlife?  Or do we live in the suburbs and take things more slowly.  Do we live in an apartment building, making friends with our neighbors down the hall, or a house on an acre lot and occasionally wave to our neighbors while driving in the neighborhood, but never actually stop to converse?  Is there a roommate, or a significant other living there? Are there pets?

And where do we live?  In a quaint college town, or on the cement streets of a major city?  Maybe we live halfway across the world?  Or maybe with the parents because we’re trying to find a job or save money.

These decisions of place impact our lives, our mentality, and they say a lot about each of us.  So I wanted to devote the next few blog posts to the “places” I’ve lived, have grown and have experienced.  I’m pretty sure there will be many more in my life, but I wanted to write “love letters” to all the places I have lived and have impacted my development.  So here it goes…first, to the cute little two bedroom house on Westover in Williamsburg, VA that I lived in in the fall of 2009.

Dear cute little Westover bungalow,

I transferred to W&M second-semester Sophomore year, and had lived in the dorms right before you.  Even though circumstances occurred that only let me live within your walls for a few short months, I still think about how you were perfectly situated for me to begin my Junior year of college at William & Mary and establish myself in a great social scene.  Shortly after I moved into you, I found myself newly single, and…wait for it…ready to mingle.  You were a cute little house, that was never inherited by a frat, and maintained your dignity, even though you existed in a block of houses with sticky beer floors and couches from the 80s.  Just a few blocks from the Delis and a shorter walk to the Units, I came back to you, many nights, inebriated, but happy.  I had found my place at this wonderful school in a quaint little town.

When I was newly single, I broke you in with a party that was too big for your 900 square feet, and made friends with guys in the fraternity I ended up hanging out with for the next two years because I no longer had that “other” priority.  You hosted many a classy DG pregame, and your halls were frequented by a bunch of sorats dressed up like trophy wives, or “prey” for a predators and prey themed mixer…and it was always a good time.

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Trophy Wives Pregaming for Colonial Downs

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Sorats on Halloween

I experienced so many emotions under your roof.  Your floors strewn with notes and drafts of reports, late nights of frustration and stresses of a college Junior.  Many naps were had.  Crying sessions too.  And you, and Wendy’s chicken sandwiches, got me through many hungover mornings where I regretted being alive.  I lost my first love when I resided there, and came back from bars, with only you to take care of me as I cried because I didn’t want to be alone.  I found my next love, and experienced so many of the exciting things that come within the first few months of a relationship.  I kissed in the rain on your back porch, and you witnessed many conversations about life between love #2 that carried on until the sun rose.  I learned how to cook and was wooed by many a romantic dinner, or a surprise visit…

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Pink Wigs and a Cute Kitchen

And do you remember the dog and the foster kittens?  Housemate’s elderly dog lived there too, but soon moved back home because she wasn’t “happy”.  And then the kittens, while cute, were horribly smelly, runny-eyed kittens that lived in a 3×5 ft. cage with their mother that housemate didn’t run by me because she wanted to “surprise me” with them.  Housemate’s “great idea”…I still don’t know.  I’m a huge cat lover, but when housemate got sick and had to go home for a month, they became my responsibility, even though I didn’t sign the paperwork.  And because I didn’t sign up for kitten duty, they were quickly returned to the humane society with or without housemate’s approval.

Why did we have to part?  Well housemate had some medical issues and her mother, rather harshly, insisted I find other living arrangements so she could live with her daughter.  I wasn’t on the lease, and I didn’t want to deal with housemate’s abrasive guardian, so, after a huge breakdown, that love #2 got me through, and the parents came and rescued me from.  I moved on to a nice little apartment that the parents moved me into since I was in the middle of midterms.

The next place, though filled with love and made into a home for the next two years, was not you.  I thought about you a lot, wishing that, one day, I could live within your four walls again.  You were a huge influence to my time at W&M.

Love,

Paula