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Reading Rocks

I don’t care what people do with their free time, but one thing that really bothers me is when people say they don’t like reading or they don’t read.  Reading isn’t weird or embarrassing. Personally, I think it is really cool.  Just a few hundred pages can expose you to so much… a different culture, new ideas, dynamic characters, and so much more.  If you don’t get any of that from a book, you will at least see a few new words every now and then. In general, I think reading makes you a smarter person.  It gives you something to talk about to people, whether it is the actual book or themes the book explored.  I don’t know if this blog had much of a purpose, but I think everyone should go to the library and find a book they would enjoy reading, because reading is fun and the library is great.

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12 Songs For a Good Mood

Some of these songs might be a little embarrassing, but they are great at putting me in a good mood.  Pretty much anything by Flo Rida works, but these are some of the best.  Plus, since most of them are a little bit older, they bring back good memories too.  The songs might not be the most well-written songs in the world, but you can’t deny that you smile while listening to them, or have a choreographed dance for each of them.

1) Wop- J Dash

2) Just Dance- Lady Gaga

3) Right Round- Flo Rida… basically all Flo Rida: Low, Turn Around (5,4,3,2,1), Who Dat Girl, Club Can’t Handle Me

4) No Sleep- Wiz Khalifa

5) Move Along- The All-American Rejects

6) Higher- Taio Cruz

7) Cloud 9- Dove Cameron & Luke Benward

8) Fly With Me- Jonas Brothers

9) Good Girls Go Bad- Cobra Starship

10) Written In Reverse- Tiesto & Hardwell

11) Halfway There- Big Time Rush

12) Mr. Brightside- The Killers

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Things Everyone Should Do

The littlest things in life make me so happy and everyday there are things that happen or that I do that make my day even better.  I wanted to share some of the things, mostly because I never want to forget all of them.

-Make CDs to listen to in the car.  It is way more fun than Bluetooth or plugging your phone in.  Or you can make them for your friends so they can experience all of your favorite songs too.

-Hula hoop… or just go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

-Play with your pet.  I usually hula hoop and hang out with my dog, but it is always fun, and possibly more normal, to go on a walk or something.

-Try a new fruit or vegetable.  This might be random, but there are always fruits or vegetables at the grocery store that I have never seen or tried, so it is always interesting to try new ones out.  I have discovered many that I do like, and some that I do not.  I found out I am not a big fan of papaya.

-Read.  I don’t understand how people don’t like reading.  It is such a good opportunity to learn new things and be exposed to different points of view, experiences, places, etc.

-Cook something. Make breakfast or lunch or dinner.  Or at least help your family make something.  It is fun trying out new recipes and sharing whatever you make with people.

-Go for a run.  I don’t run as much as I used to, but I find myself smiling during every run that I do now.

-Help someone.  Whether it is helping your little sister or brother with homework, setting the table for your mom, or holding the door for someone, it is important to help people out.  I run with a group of people experiencing homelessness.  I might just be running with them, but being there to motivate and talk to them can help them keep positive.  I love helping my mom make dinner.  It is great to feel useful and it makes less work for my mom each night.

-Take pictures.  I take a picture of my dog basically everyday.  It is so fun to capture memories or those rare occasions where your dog cooperates during a “photo shoot”

-Listen to music.  Everyday I look forward to listening to music.  Right now I am listening to all of the music I liked in middle school and early high school.  Sometimes there is nothing better than Flo Rida or Lady Gaga.  It is always fun, and maybe weird, to have a little dance party to the songs by yourself or with your friends.

-Smile.  I find myself smiling at the most random times and that is the best because you know that everything is great in that moment.  Plus it makes other people smile too.

-Write.  I write in a diary every night.  It is fun to write about what I did during the day or fun things that happened.

-Try out new restaurants, or just go to your favorite ones.  I love going to Mexican restaurants for dinner or trying out new breakfast places.  It is also fun to go out for dessert with friends or family.  Whether it is cupcakes, ice cream, or popsicles, which I prefer, it is fun to try out new foods/restaurants.

-Break out the glow sticks.  If you are ever outside at night, it is way more fun if you have glow sticks.

-Film music videos with friends.  Maybe it is a little embarrassing, but it is fun.  Just find a good song, create a story for it, or just dance around and sing.  Even if it is a terrible video, at least it was fun and maybe made for a few laughs.

-Have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  They are so good and make you feel like a little kid again.  Also, jam is way better than jelly, but either is sufficient.

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Never Give Up

One day, I heard someone say  something along of the lines of… “When things get stressful, or hard, or busy, that is when I give up.”  That was absolutely crazy to me.  Those moments are when you are supposed to push forward and put in everything you have.  I like to think that I don’t give up easily and throw in the towel when a situation becomes hard or stressful.  It is just so important to know that you put in everything that you could and know you did your best.  That can apply to anything… school, sports, relationships, work, etc.  There have been many times where it is easier just to give up and leave the task for someone else or settle for less.  When I ran cross country, I know there were races where I knew I could just slow down because I was tired and nothing bad would really come of it.  However, I knew I would be disappointed later on if I just quit.  Even if I didn’t run my best time, I was always much happier and proud of myself because I didn’t just give up when I was tired or lazy.

I feel like I reference running a lot, but I think it can teach you a lot about having a determined attitude, especially when things get tough.  When I was cut down to four days of running each week, consisting of 3 miles each day, I could have just given up on running and jogged all of those runs without a real purpose.  Instead, I chose to run every run like it was my last.  I didn’t want to give up on my training just because I couldn’t do it as much or run as far as I would like.  At that time, only running 4 days was a decent decrease and it seemed like the end of the world.  I know that is a little too dramatic considering I could still run quite a bit, but it was a challenge for me.  I think not giving up on my training showed how important it is to face challenges head on and not shy away from them.  I did get a bit slower, but if I had chosen to get lazy with my training, I would have and I would have been disappointed in myself for giving up.

Life is meant to have challenges and I think you can really show how strong you are when you choose to keep trying.  Winston Churchill’s quote, “Never never never quit,” may seem simple, but it has stuck with me ever since the first time I saw it at running camp in middle school.  I still have it on the wall in my room.  That quote is always in the back of my mind to make sure I don’t give up.  I think when you choose not to give up in tough situations, or any situation for that matter, it makes you a much happier person, so that is definitely a plus of putting in the extra effort.

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My Best Friend 

My dog is one of my best friends. I just wanted to share how important she is to me. My family got Daisy when I was in 8th grade. We got her at the humane society. We didn’t know what kind of dog she was, but she was cute and playful.  Over the past few years we weren’t the best of friends, but now I love spending time with her. We play outside together or just relax in the sun. She is always with me when I hula hoop, even though she is scared of it. I would say that is true friendship. She hates being in pictures, but she will let me take photos every now and then. She also loves roasted carrots, almost as much as I do. She always begs for blueberries when I’m eating them. However, once I toss one into the air for her to catch, she always closes her mouth and doesn’t catch it. She really doesn’t like blueberries as much as she thinks. I know that, but I try to get her to have one everyday anyway. We used to run together. I usually had to drag her around the neighborhood after the first few minutes, so now we just walk. But we have fun anyways since we get to stop and bark at every dog we see. Daisy and I have our differences sometimes, but she is the best dog ever, and my best friend. I wouldn’t want to come home to any other dog barking as loud as possible like I am creepy stranger or I am robbing my own house. I encourage everyone to spend time with their pets and make sure they know how important they are to you.

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My Favorite Recipes

I am a vegetarian and gluten-free, so sometimes I have a hard time finding things I can eat/like to eat.  I will pretty much mix any foods together and think the mixture tastes pretty good.  I just wanted to share a few of my favorite things to eat…some are really easy/quick to make and others take a little bit longer, but are worth the time.

-Blueberry Baked Oatmeal-  I use 3 cups of rolled oats, 1 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 cup on canola oil, 2 egg whites, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and as many blueberries as I want.  I mix all of the ingredients together and then put the mixture in an 11 by 7 pan.  I sprinkle cinnamon on top and put it in a 350 degree oven for around 35 minutes. This is the best oatmeal I have ever had, and whenever I make it, it doesn’t last long.

-Protein Pancakes- I take 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of cottage cheese, 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 a cup of egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and as much cinnamon and honey as I want.  Then, I put it all in a blender.  Once it is all blended, I can make my pancakes.  They taste great with fruit on top, jam (like in the cover picture), or peanut butter (Mighty Maple from Peanut Butter & Co. tastes best in my opinion).

-Yogurt with Peanut Butter- I usually use vanilla Greek yogurt.  Then, I just mix in any flavor peanut butter.  My favorite to use is Dark Chocolate Dreams from Peanut Butter & Co.  Sometimes I add in blueberries and rolled oats as well.

-Brown Rice and Cottage Cheese- This might sound weird, but I love to mix rice with cottage cheese.  You can use any amount or type of rice.  I just prefer brown.  Even if you don’t think it would be good, it is always worth a try.  Plus, you get good carbs from the brown rice, and protein from the cottage cheese.  It also tastes good with veggies mixed in.

-Roasted Carrots- This is really easy, but so good.  You can also use any veggies you like.  Sometimes I use asparagus or broccoli.  I just take some carrots and put them on a pan.  Then, I drizzle a little olive oil over them and add some pepper.  I put them in a 350 degree oven and they are done in around 15 minutes.

-Brown Sugar Tofu- I mix 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and a lot of pepper.  Then I coat tofu in the mixture.  Once it is coated, I cook it on a wok or on the stove until it golden brown.  It ends up having a sweet and spicy taste because of the brown sugar and the pepper.

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Running Isn’t Everything

Don’t get me wrong, I love to run and I will run for the rest of my life.  However, running isn’t everything and it does not define you as a person.  I have recently realized that running is not the most important thing in the world.  I used to think it was one of the most important things.

I have been running since middle school.  I started cross country in 6th grade, mostly because my mom made me.  I am very thankful she did.  I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t awful.  I stuck with it all through middle school, doing track and cross country.  It was a great way to make friends (I am still best friends with many of them), get exercise, and learn to be a part of a team.  Running in middle school was important to me, but it wasn’t something I dedicated practically my whole life to.

High school cross country was much more time consuming and competitive.  It seemed like if you missed one practice it was the end of the world.  I made sure I could make it to as many, if not all of the practices during my four years of high school.  Even in the summer, when the practices were optional, I made sure I was there.  I never wanted to miss a day because that would be one day to get slower or out of shape.  I made a lot of close friends because of cross country and we spent so much time together since we were always at school or practice each day.  In high school, I wasn’t the best, but I was decently high up on the team, so I always felt the need to get faster.  I ran the miles, did the cross training, and before my senior year started I even tried running everyday of the year.  That didn’t end well for me because I got a stress fracture in my femur and was not able to compete during my last season.

I think being injured really changed my motivation.  Once I was able to run without limits, I started training really hard, almost everyday.  I began getting faster and faster.  I didn’t really realize how fast I was getting.  I didn’t do track my senior year so I just ran on my own or with my friends when our work schedules didn’t conflict.  During the summer before college, I did the same.  Once I got to college, I was the fastest I had ever been in my life.  Every run I did was a sprint and I didn’t even know that it was because it felt so easy.  During high school, my fastest 5k was 19:56 and I only came close to that a few times.  I ran an 18:38 during my first semester of freshman year.  I loved it.  I loved being fast and basically racing myself around campus each day.

I took a pretty long break from running and started up again.  I wasn’t as fast as I was before, but I really have no idea why I needed to be so fast to begin with.  I wasn’t training for anything.  I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could work as hard as possible and be the best runner I could be.  After that break, it sunk in that I don’t have to be super fast and that running doesn’t define me as a person.  I can run as slow or as fast as I want.  It is all about doing something that makes me happy.

Now I run because I love the feeling after a great run.  Because running is fun and something I can do with my friends.  It gives me something to do when I am bored or when it is a nice day.  I don’t need to be fast and there are many more important things in life, like spending time with family and friends, volunteering, working, etc.  I realized I can have other hobbies.  I don’t have to devote all of my time and energy to running or cross training so I can get better at running, like I thought I had to do in high school.

Running is still important to me, but it doesn’t consume my life.  It is something I do because I love it and it makes me happy.  Running is not my whole life like I once thought it was, but it is a part of my life.