Posts Tagged ‘life goals’

As soon as we solidified our plans for going to Nepal, I knew that 2013 would be a big year in terms of adventures.

Traveling halfway around the world to work with kids and live with strangers in a completely different culture and environment? That’s practically the definition of adventure.



Tack on a trip to India (and the headache of getting there), and you’d think we had enough adventure in the first 5 months of 2013 to be set for the rest of the year.


But wait, there’s more.

In June, nearly as soon as we got back, we celebrated two friends getting married (and had two more weddings scheduled for July and August).

In July, we decided it was time to buy a house.


And then we found out we were pregnant.

In September we marveled at all the crap we’d accumulated in the apartment as we hauled it all off to the house, and we settled into our new roles as homeowners.

In October we had our first real taste of suburbia with trick-or-treaters, and in November we dove even deeper into the suburban lifestyle and adopted Manny (and, I should add, bought an SUV, because I’m not sure you’re allowed to live in the suburbs without one).


Now, as December winds down and transitions into the new year, our little family of three is anxiously awaiting its newest member – the baby boy that will be the biggest adventure of 2014.


And I couldn’t be more excited to see what else the upcoming year has in store.

As long as I can enjoy it on minimal sleep.

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When I listed this as a 27 goal, I didn’t have a set plan in mind. If pressed, I thought maybe I’d go somewhere for a week-long mission trip of sorts. And I’d probably go somewhere in Central or South America.

Somewhere relatively close, for a relatively short period of time.

Suffice it to say, I was a little off. And by a little, I mean by about 11 weeks and several thousand miles.

Because the current plan is this:

In roughly two months Husband and I will be leaving for a three-month volunteer stint with the Umbrella Foundation. In Nepal.


Photo credit: The Big Umbrella

We’ve both wanted to travel and volunteer, but it’s never been the right time – a common excuse. After reading Conor Grennan’s Little Princes (I can’t recommend it enough), we decided that we could make it the right time.

It was completely within our control to seize this opportunity and have our volunteering adventure.

So that’s what we’re doing.

We’ll be spending three months working with children who have been displaced, orphaned, or trafficked – living near them, sharing meals with them, organizing activities for them, and, undoubtedly, learning from them.

Part of the preparation for this volunteer work is, naturally, fundraising, which covers both volunteer and kid costs.

If you feel so inclined, please visit our fundraising page, where you can also learn a little more about the trip and the inspiration behind it. If not, that’s okay, too, but I still encourage you to read Little Princes if you get the chance.

It’s rare that I call a book life-changing, but for this one, I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

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This morning, bright and early, I registered for classes for my very last semester of grad school.

The current semester will be over in just 5 weeks, and in 5.5 months I’ll be completely finished and able to add “M.A.” after my name. That doesn’t seem so very long in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, that doesn’t account for the final papers, the presentations, or the foreign language exit exam (anyone want to practice speaking French with me?), which I’m sure will make the months feel longer, but there is an end in sight.

I never have to register for classes again!” I told BNF triumphantly this morning (or, at least, as triumphantly as I could muster before I’d had my first diet coke).

Yeah,” he said. “Just wait until you decide to get your PhD.

No way. I don’t even want that.

You say that now – but, that’s just 26-year-old Elizabeth. Who knows what 36 or even 46-year-old Elizabeth will want?

Now, I’m sure that he’s wrong. I’m sure that I’ll remember this feeling of being so close to done, and I won’t want to go back. But, just in case…

Listen up, future-Elizabeths:

You do not want your PhD. You do not want to be a professor or an academic. You don’t want to write a book that some poor future grad students are going to be forced to read. It’s not for you.

And when you think, oh, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go back to school…just remember how much you love your free weekends.

Plus, think how OLD you’ll feel trying to pull an all-nighter at 46. If you can’t even do it now, there’s not a lot of hope for you 20 years down the road.

Stay sane.


26-year-old Elizabeth

There. That ought to do it.

Now – is it April yet?

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…turned in my first assignment of the semester

…bought tickets to Argentina for December

…finally checked “jazz in the garden” off my list

…continued training for the marathons (the first of which is in 3.5 weeks)

…spectated my first duathlon (because the Potomac was too toxic this year for it to be a tri)

It was frustratingly difficult to get a good shot with an iPhone at the speed BNF was going. This was the best of several attempts.

…celebrated the Eagles’ first win of the season (while wearing my new Desean Jackson jersey)

…and started a new non-school book

Not a bad lineup, I don’t think.

Here’s hoping that this next week is just as fun and productive. If not more so (of either).

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So far, 26 has started off slightly more hectic than 25 did. Between physical therapy (for my knee this time), a busy work schedule, and travel prep for the wedding where I’ll be wearing this, I hardly had time to finish my 26 list! (I know, I know – a true tragedy.)

But here it is, in all its glory, ready to be checked off.

1) Learn how to shoot a gun.

2) Graduate! (Again, this is something that should take care of itself.)

3) Become a Marathon Maniac.

4) Practice Spanish enough that I don’t have to ask BNF’s family to hablar mas lentamente, por favor.

5) Plan the better part of a wedding (my own, this time!).

6) Visit friends in Colorado.

7) Go to a Phillies playoff game. (This is assuming they make the playoffs, of course.)

8 ) Leave the country (and come back – probably).

9) Seriously: learn how to change a tire. And PRACTICE.

10) Get another tattoo.

11) Donate to a charity every month. I haven’t yet decided if it’ll be 12 different ones, but I really liked Alice’s idea.

12) Read more. Granted, I couldn’t finish seven books that I’d already started in the past year, but I’d like to dream big and set the bar at 10 new books this year. (Not including reading for school.) I’m starting with Seabiscuit.

13) Go on a Duck Tour!

14) Do some “spring cleaning” every other month (or so) and donate the casualties (instead of putting them in the hall of our apartment building with a sign that says “free.”)

15) Acquire a taste for scotch on the rocks.

16) Hit a marathon time between 4:45 and 4:50. (This is most definitely a stretch.)

17) Be slow to judgment.

18) Let go of old grudges.

19) Not turn into a bridezilla.

20) Learn to play golf not of the putt-putt variety – or at least go to a driving range.

21) Keep track of all the restaurants I say I want to go to and actually try them. (Recommendations welcome.)

22) Use my future mother-in-law’s recipe to make empanadas and orange chicken that would make her proud.

23) See the final Harry Potter movie – and try not to complain about how it’s not completely accurate. (Seriously, though, there is no point where Harry grabs Voldemort and falls over the edge of the building with him. Just for the record.)

24) Complete my DC list (minus the segway tour). I’ve already checked off Ben’s!

25) Take a little more pride in my personal appearance. I’m too old to continuously leave the house with wet hair and to not own a curling iron.

26) Minimize job complaints. To stop them completely would be unrealistic, but over-complaining is (no longer) productive. (This one might also be a stretch.)

Feel free to leave feedback, critiques, or what have you. Or just shake your head at my affinity for lists.

That’s also fair.

I’ll be back on Monday, complete with stories of this upcoming wedding – which is sure to be nothing less than entertaining.

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In one month I will be 26 years old.

That means I have 31 more days to:

– volunteer

– hit a home run

– read 693 pages, in order to finish all my books

– renew my Chinese

– go on a road trip

– rent a car

There are others that I haven’t checked off the list yet, true, but the above are the ones that I’m really not sure I’ll manage.

Home runs are hard, and everything else takes time that I don’t really have. The weekends between now and my birthday? I’m out of town for every one of them.

Yes, I know I made this list a year ago. And you’d think I’d have had time in a year. Funny how that happens.

So I guess a few things will just have to get pushed to the 26 list. Because, yes, there will be a 26 list. Doing this little experiment just confirmed for me how much I love checking things off.

There’s a feeling of accomplishment, even if it’s something as simple as riding a bike (without getting hit by a car).

That said, in this last month, I’d still like to check a few more things off. So if you’d like to speak Chinese with me on a road trip (in a rental car) to do some destination volunteering, I’m all ears.

Any takers?


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When I first made my 25 for 25 list, I thought for sure that the running goals would be the hardest to accomplish.

And then I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could get my sub-10 average pace if I did a race that was short enough that I could essentially sprint the entire thing. So the boyfriend paced me for the Love the Run You’re With 5k, and it was a success! Check one more thing off my list.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d accomplish that sub-10 goal twice.

This past weekend was the National SunTrust Marathon and Half-Marathon. Last year, this race was my first marathon. This year I opted to “just” do half.

Photo stolen from the boyfriend; post half-marathon (as you can see by the medals)

My initial goal was to beat the time I’d gotten at the LA Half-Marathon back in January. I always run a little better in cooler weather, and I knew what to expect from this course. But then, as the race drew closer and my training runs were fewer and farther between, I amended my goal to just enjoying myself. Gotta love lowering the bar.

When I stopped just after the first mile into the race for a bathroom break, I was even happier that I hadn’t established a time goal. Because of course I’d never make it with a stop. So I just ran, enjoyed myself, soaked in the sun, and appreciated the spectators.

Eventually I started to realize that I was actually making up the time that I’d stopped. Guillermo was telling me that I was keeping a steady pace, complete with several sub-10 miles! And I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could still make my original goal of a better time than LA (2:15:55)!

The thought gave me a little extra kick in my step and propelled me through the slight rolling hills. I was also wondering, in the back of my mind, if I’d ever catch up with the boyfriend. He’d gained a lead since I stopped for my potty break, so I hadn’t seen him since just after mile 1.

That is – until mile 9.

I spotted the familiar jacket stopping for a water break, and I said hello with an encouraging slap on the ass, naturally. And then I kept looking, side to side, sure that he would be right next to me to run the remainder of the race. And sure that he would pass me. (I haven’t beaten him in a race since March 2009.)

Honestly, I was expecting him to come out of nowhere and pass me just as we were nearing the finish line. Instead, he caught up around mile 12.5 and we ran the rest of the way together. And it was the perfect way to end the race.

When I stopped Guillermo and saw my time, I could not stop grinning. To call what I was feeling a runner’s high is an understatement. Not only had I killed my 2:15:55 goal, but I’d also managed to do another race with a sub-10 average (even though that fact didn’t sink in until later)!

I ran this half in 2:08:38 – my second best half-marathon time ever, and definitely my Post-Injury Personal Record (PIPR, as I affectionately call it). And, if you subtract the 3 minutes I lost to the bathroom break, it’s my best time overall. Ever.

To be honest, I’m still on a little bit of a runner’s high. And if this high carries over into the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler this weekend? Well, who am I to fight it?

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