2013 – A Year of Many Firsts

While Christmas will forever be my favorite holiday, I’ve always liked New Year’s as well for the simple reason of having a chance to reflect on the past year and plan for the year to come.  I know many people say you can make changes in your life any time of the year, but having a specific holiday that is a reminder to reflect and reevaluate certainly helps. With that said I believe 2013 may have brought about more “firsts” in my life than any other year. 

January 2013 I experienced my first past life regression.  This entailed $400 for a 3 hour session with a psychologist who is trained in past life experiences.  I cannot detail everything from the session in this post as it merits its own post (or feel free to contact me to inquire more), but I can say the experience answered some emotional questions I had struggled with since high school as well as opened my mind to a new type of spirituality.  I have been able to expand my mind beyond the organized religious dogma I had always known, and feel much more at ease with the purpose of life and do not worry about death as I now have personal proof that reincarnation of the soul does occur.

March 2013 I saw my mother drunk for the first time.  My sister turned 21 and the whole family and many friends came out to celebrate.  It was a super fun night, and I’m glad that being all adults now means my family can indulge in going out for drinks together.

May 2013 I got to visit Salt Springs State Park for the first time.  I love visiting new parks, and this one had 3 waterfalls which made it even more enjoyable.  I encourage everyone to visit a new park in 2014 either as a day trip or overnight camping.  I also advise turning off all electronic devices (depending on where you are they probably won’t work anyway) and just enjoy nature and the company of family and/or friends.

Spring/Summer 2013 I received my first promotion at work.  I was very happy to be chosen to migrate from Wire to ACH as it gave me a chance to learn new things and take on new responsibilities. 

Summer 2013 I trained for my first half marathon.  Completing a half marathon was my main New Year’s resolution for 2013, and as usual I was a little late in starting to work on it because I cannot stand to run outside during the winter.  The majority of my training I completed alone as my boyfriend could only run with me on the weekends.  Nearly every Friday night during the summer I completed a long run that ranged anywhere from 7 to 12 miles. 

August 2013 I won my first 5k.  I have placed in my age group in many races before, but I actually was the first overall woman to complete the Hook O Malley 5k.  Mind you my time was not all that spectacular, but it is a challenging course that consists of an uphill climb of at least a half mile.  I was even interviewed after the race though unfortunately the clip did not make the cut for the evening news.  I did have my picture in the paper though, and was asked to return next year to “defend my title” – a challenge I suppose that is already built in to be a resolution for 2014.

September 2013 I actually completed my first half marathon.  To add to that, I was able to beat my goal time of 2 hours 15 minutes by running the race in 2 hours and 8 minutes.  It was also nice that my dad was able to run the same half marathon as having someone to talk about the experience with adds to the fun.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be doing it again in 2014; the training definitely kept me in shape but it is also a big time commitment and can be rather lonely when training by yourself.

November 2013 I went on my first cruise.  It was tough waiting til almost year’s end to go on vacation, but the islands visited made it worth the wait.  Refer to my post on the cruise if details are desired – Jason and I wouldn’t mind doing another one someday, but we’re looking at other vacation options for the next few years including going to Niagara Falls in 2014.

There may be other firsts from 2013 I missed, but those highlight the biggest ones.  As for my 2014 resolutions, I haven’t really set anything in stone.  Of course it’s always a resolution to get back in shape as I tend to get lazy the colder it gets.  I also look to pay off one of my student loans and trim down the amount owed on the others.  Jason and I would both like to find our “forever house” in the next year or 2 as we live in a nice small town but both want out in a rural area like I was used to growing up.  2013 was overall a decent year, so I would say just continuing to have a happy and content life of doing new things and seeing new places in 2014 would be a sufficient goal for me.




Raising a Daddy’s Girl

I’m not sure if most father’s intentionally set out to raise their daughter as a “daddy’s girl” or if it just happens over time as their relationship develops.  For me I have always been one as long as I can remember.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom dearly and would be very much lost in life without her, but I think it’s always been growing up that I’m a daddy’s girl.  Maybe it’s because I’m a spitting image of him to the point of having had strangers at the grocery store ask me if I was Clint’s daughter.  Maybe it’s because we’re both runners and runners will always have a unique bond to each other.  In any case, I’m one through and through. 

I’m writing this blog to explain what helps comprise a father-daughter relationship into the best that it can be in hopes that all the dads and dads-to-be out there who have daughters will know what it takes to make their relationship with them extra special.  So let’s begin…

1.  Be in her life.  To often you hear about single mothers raising children alone because some dead beat chose not to help raise their child.  On the other hand you may have a father who is physically in a child’s life, but not emotionally there whether it’s because he works constantly, favors his male children, or just doesn’t try to connect to his daughter.  Overcome the challenges and be an active part in her life.

2.  Find a shared interest with her.  While it’s important for all members of a family to bond, if a father has something that he shares specifically with his daughter it will increase their bond greatly.  My dad and I share bonds in high school sports and in running.  Throughout middle and high school he made it to my track and cross country meets and often attended other sporting events such as wrestling matches, football and basketball games with me.  I coached jr high cross country for 3 years and when I had to resign due to work conflicts he took over my coaching position which enabled me to stay indirectly tied to the team while also strengthening our bond.  Running became our common interest when I took up cross country in high school and my parents didn’t want me to run roads alone in training.  He often tells people that I’m the one who got him into running, and we’ve done many races including my first half marathon last September together.

3.  Remember unique things about her.  For some reason my dad still doesn’t remember that I don’t like ketchup, but he does know that I drink Turkey Hill lemonade for breakfast.  Every overnight visit I make to my parents’ house since moving out my dad always has a bottle of it in the fridge for me.  It’s the little things like that which make a child (even an adult one) feel special.

4.  Talk to her.  I know there are plenty of difficult stages in a girl’s life (trust me, leave the female talks to mom if at all possible), but communicate with her as much as possible even if it’s the standard “How’s school going?” conversation.  As she gets older you may find that she’s someone you even feel comfortable in confiding in. 

5.  Support her choices even if you don’t always agree with them.  I didn’t find out until months after the breakup that my dad couldn’t stand my 2nd boyfriend.  He didn’t even tell me, my mom and sister did.  While I do wish he had spoken up with his opinion as I certainly would’ve valued it, I respected the fact that although he wasn’t a fan of the decisions I was making, he let me make them and learn from them myself.  It goes without saying of course if the daughter is doing anything harmful to herself or others certainly interfere. 

6.  Be a role model for her.  My dad is one of the hardest working people I know.  Part of it is in his nature; he just can’t sit still.  A lot of the work he does though at least outside of his actual job is to benefit both our family as well as others he knows and cares about.  My uncle once told me if something were to ever happen to my dad (knock on wood it never does) that people would be lining up to help out because he’s helped out so many people throughout his life. 

7.  Boost her self-esteem.  You don’t have to understand a teenager girl’s world.  Just know that no matter how wonderful, smart, pretty or funny she is, she’s bound to struggle with self-esteem at some point or another.  Every encouraging word offered to her will make her a stronger woman as she grows up.

8.  Make rituals or traditions with her.  I always used to go to Root’s Auction with my dad before Christmas.  Having moved nearly 3 hours away I no longer get to do this.  Instead my dad now comes up to visit me to go Christmas shopping and spend the night.  We’ve done it the past 2 years and I absolutely love it.  It doesn’t matter that I had just seen him around Thanksgiving and that I’ll be seeing him around Christmas, it’s the fact that he’s willing to drive up here by himself to do it that makes it special to me.

The guidelines above are for all fathers… biological, step, adopted, anyone who fills in the father spot for a young lady in his life.  Love that child and form a special bond with her and she very well may grow up being a “daddy’s girl”.  I know I did.

The Walking Dead Bit Me

I will be the first to tell you that I’m not on top of trends particularly in the book/TV/movie realm.  While I certainly love all these forms of media I just don’t like to become part of new “crazes” and it often takes me a long time before I investigate them myself.  The sad part is I do usually end up liking them a great deal.  Case examples – I only saw the 3rd Lord of the Rings movie in theaters because I didn’t get into them until the first 2 movies were already out.  I didn’t begin reading the Harry Potter series until the 4th or 5th book was already published.  I went to see Twilight with a friend because it looked good in the trailer and had no idea that it was a book series.

To that point, this phenomenon known as The Walking Dead hadn’t taken hold of me until recently.  My mom is an avid fan, but given that she’s also seen nearly every shark/octopus/alligator/snake/insert-other-animal-that-becomes-huge-and-attacks-people I can’t count on her judgement when it comes to sci-fi related entertainment.  My boyfriend Jason welcomed the series into our house this past fall when I was learning to can applesauce with a coworker.  By welcome I mean put it on Netflix and proceeded to watch probably 10 episodes straight.  He was able to catch up on all the seasons in time for the 4th season which just reached its 4th season mid-season finale the other Sunday.  He has insisted that I watch the series as well so that when it resumes in February I am able to watch it as well.

I’m not really a zombie girl.  I much prefer vampires and will not be moved from the TV when The Originals or The Vampire Diaries is on.  I’ve always felt anything zombie-related was just a gore-fest without much storyline to back it.  The Walking Dead, however, definitely surpassed my expectations in terms of quality.  I am now into the 3rd season and will surely catch up in time for the show to resume in February. 

What seems to set the show apart is its ability to be a quality drama with a nice mix of science fiction.  In recent years so many movies have done the “post apocalypse” storyline that it’d be easy to overdo it.  The Walking Dead though puts its own spin on it.  While it definitely focuses on the elements of survival, it also brings in the human elements in terms of trust, betrayal, hope, wanting to live or die and sacrifice.  Instead of having zombies be just literally walking dead bodies, the show makes you realize that some of these “walkers” were people’s friends and family.  It shows you how people deal with the idea of loss in the acceptance that their loved ones are still existing yet not truly alive anymore.  I believe that’s what sets the show apart from any that has just merely had zombies attacking people throughout a movie.  You do get a fair dose of that though and fans of gore will not be disappointed.  I didn’t realize there were so many ways to kill a zombie (though you must always make sure to go for the head!).

The variety of characters also keeps things interesting.  People that you wouldn’t expect to die do.  People that you wish would die somehow seem to survive.  You love some characters and hate others.  The integration of new ones adds a nice blend and allows for changes in the storyline to flow.  There are also flashbacks sprinkled throughout at times which give you an insight into some of the characters’ pasts.  I still kind of find it interesting the way the whole series starts with the walkers already in existence and no real explanation as to how it got that bad.  I’m assuming and hoping it will be revealed further as I go along throughout the episodes.

If you’ve been like me and a little late to jump on The Walking Dead bandwagon I’d certainly encourage you to check it out.  Netflix has all the episodes up to this current season and if you’re a Comcast subscriber you can view episodes from the current one.  You’ll hopefully end up as surprised and pleased with the show as I’ve been thus far, and it seems to get better and better each episode.