O’s Magic

Since before I was born, I’ve been an Orioles fan. I may not be the most avid or knowledgeable baseball watcher, but I truly enjoy the sport, and even more than that, I love attending the games.orioles logo

I’ve always gone to the O’s games with my family, but around last year I realized that it had been a good 4 years since we’d last ventured into Camden Yards. So for Father’s Day 2012 (delayed due to hectic schedules and weather complications), I decided to give my dad tickets to a game of his choosing, which we used by watching the Orioles play the Rays.

camden yardsDespite the threat of rain, constant humidity, and eventual loss of the O’s, we had a great time as a family. The beautiful Baltimore skyline greeted us as we drove into the city early that morning for a bit of exploring. We took a stroll by the warehouse right next to the park and paid a visit to Boog’s BBQ stand where I got a picture with Boog Powell himself. After satisfying our craving for deliciously overpriced ballpark food, we took our seats in one of the top decks. But the height of our seats and the fact that they were a mere $17 didn’t deter us from having a lovely afternoon. We could see perfectly and had plenty of people around us to add volume to the cheers reverberating throughout the stadium.

Unlike Ravens games which can get intense and loud, the Orioles games are oh so calm and relaxed. There is a real family atmosphere to be found with all of the children toddling around in their orange jerseys while grandparents patiently wait in lines for the tots’ cotton candy. Despite the child behind us kicking my mom’s seat and playing his video game rather loudly, everyone was so well behaved and courteous, further adding to our pleasant experience.

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IMG_2092I truly love spending time with my family, and the strong sense of community that the O’s could provide for me was great too. Every now and again you just need to know that you’re a part of something larger than yourself, and it may take yelling “O!” during the National Anthem with thousands of strangers to feel that sense of unity.

Summer Strivings

list of goalsI love goals. And lists. And putting check marks next to the goals on my lists. So this summer I’ve decided to make note of the things that I’d like to accomplish.

I had tremendous success with this method over the past year, and know that if I want to see real results in my life and have a good time achieving them, I need to write them down and frequently revisit them.

Here are the things that I’ve decided I’d like to focus on:

  • Spend time with my family and boyfriend
  • Make time for fitness
  • Perform well at my internships
  • Remain relatively stress free
  • Eat moderately
  • Visit friends from back home
  • Stay in touch with friends from college
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Volunteer
  • Spend money carefully
  • Just keep running
  • Stay motivated

While I do intend to do things like visit Hershey Park, I want to make sure that I’m taking care of myself on the personal level first, and I think it starts by attending to these main goals. A lot of my goals have to deal with my health, but I think that it’s important to focus on it while I won’t have the overwhelming influence of work and school in my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince I intend for weight loss/exercise/maintaining a healthy lifestyle to take up a good portion of my summer, I think it’d only be fair to devote a whole new blog to the topic. I have a clear focus with Living the Life and don’t want to diverge from all around well living by focusing too heavily on health. So, I’ve begun a new blog called Happiness Through Health that I’m going to be posting to as well. Feel free to check it out or completely ignore this information.

Running Progress, Running Pride

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been sweating my way through a 5K training program. I’ve dropped a considerable amount of weight, become so stretchy that Gumby would be jealous, unfortunately stretched out my tennis shoes until they are sad and tattered remnants of their once grand self, and memorized most all of my workout song playlist (including all of Mambo No. 5)

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I’ve never been a runner, but as “complete an official race” is on my bucket list, I knew that I had to start training eventually. Since there’s no better time than the present and I was feeling sluggish from the chilly winter weather, I hopped on the track at the gym and immediately surpassed my expectations just by showing up. I knew that it’d be a struggle to get my Pop-Tart-munching-self running more than just my mouth, so I decided to pay my 5K race fee right away to encourage actual participation. Luckily, I care more about getting my money’s worth than being lazy.

At the beginning of the year, running a half mile left me looking gnarly and sorely out of breath. Very very very slowly, I’ve built up my run time to the point where I can now run (know that way I say “run” it really refers to a moderate jog) for a solid half hour while feeling like I don’t want to end my wretched life by the finish. What progress! And more than that, I actually somewhat somehow maybe perhaps enjoy running now. Before it would feel monotonous and more like a chore, but somehow I’ve gradually come to enjoy the simplicity in repeatedly pounding my feet on the pavement.

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Though I began as a reluctant runner, I’ve discovered a joy and pride that running has brought to my life. I love being able to explain to my friends and family my running plans and the tremendous progress I’ve made. It simply feels good to exercise, and even better to talk about exercising.

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My first official 5K, the Baltimore Women’s Classic, is in June (though I’ve already completed an unofficial one conducted through UMD) and I know that I’m ready to take on this challenge. My only goal is to run throughout the whole event with no walking breaks in between. If I get below 30 minutes on the day of the run, that’ll be stupendous, but if not, I’ve already achieved something worthwhile, the knowledge that I’ve proven my self-worth through commitment, dedication, and sweat. I am so proud of what I’ve already accomplished, and I can’t wait to see how much further I can take myself before race day.

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I don’t think I could take myself seriously in these…

But first, I need to get new running shoes.

Junior Year, A Life in Summation

Wow. Life moves quickly. Not only am I unsure how I’ve already reached the end of my junior year of college, I’m also confused as to where my sophomore and freshman year went.

At the beginning of this year (one roommate, a new major, and countless hikes across campus ago) I was coming off a pretty rough time. I hadn’t really found a niche for myself in college (which was all too familiar to my high school experience) and I spent more time traveling home than livin’ it up college style.

My goal for this year was simple; say yes to life. And looking back on my time now, I can truthfully say that I said yes and experienced much of what college life had to offer (while still focusing on my studies)

Some of my experiences include:

  • Participating in Terp Thon and raising money for Children’s National Medical Center374409_4651322164662_876425834_n
  • Hosting Manicure Movie Monday in our lounge
  • Starting a job at UMD Dining Services and meeting some of my best friends
  • Taking more pictures than I will ever need
  • Throwing paint around with friends and strangers at HoliDSCN0474
  • Becoming a part of Sign Language Club and visiting Gallaudet University
  • Going on a dinner cruise at the Inner Harbor
  • Partaking in a murder mystery dinner and successfully avoiding accusations
  • Attending all of the movie nights and randomly themed UMD events
  • Listened to the Dalai Lama give a lecture on peace
  • Gaining an insane amount of weight from not watching my health and then working it all off522422_10200226503339411_1759804122_n
  • Participating in an Alternative Spring Break and becoming an advocate for domestic violence victims
  • Making an effort to hang out with friends and get in touch with people
  • Running my first 5K to benefit Yeardly LoveIMG_1931
  • Attending all of the UMD men’s soccer games and becoming part of the Crew
  • Crossing two items off of my bucket list (dying my hair red and attending a concert)
  • Receiving 12 free UMD t-shirts
  • Cheering my football team onto a Super Bowl victory
  • STARTED A BLOG!

Holy cow I’ve done a lot. I know I’ve missed listing a ton more activities, but I’m just grateful that I’ll have this blog to look back so that I can relive all of these wonderful experiences.

Also, don’t expect much from me this summer, because I’m pretty sure it’ll take me up until September to recover from my junior year.

A Daughter’s Love, A Mother’s Day

mother's day heartAs I hope everyone was aware, the most anticipated and stressful day, Mother’s Day, was this past Sunday. Even though I’m away at school and knee deep in studying for finals, I welcomed the break to tell my mother how much I appreciate and love her for all she’s done. I had a 4 Phase Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack strategy, and I welcomed the chance to put it into action.

It began Saturday night when I decided to drive back home for Phase1. I didn’t get home until late Saturday night and as I opened the garage door, I saw my mom’s jaw drop in surprise at my presence. She had no idea I’d be making the trip back home, as the last time we talked she had sadly agreed that we may as well put Mother’s Day off until next week. Delay the one day of the year dedicated to such a wonderful woman? No. Phase 1, shock and awe, complete.

Phase 2 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack involved me, my brother, and my father taking my mom out for a delicious breakfast of blueberry egg and cheese bagel sandwiches at a restaurant we’ve been frequenting since I was a child. This Phase was just as much for me as for my mother. She loved the consideration and the opportunity to relive our former Sunday morning tradition, and I loved my buttery bagel.

IMG_2082Phase 3 involved helping my mom cook dinner. While most people tend to go out for this special day, my mom opted to eat in for a delicious dinner of scallops and asparagus. Despite her insistence that she be the one to prepare the meal (which I was oh so grateful for), I helped prepare some fruits and vegetables for the occasion. It was so much nicer to relax at home than to spend such an intimate day in a crowded restaurant brimming with strangers and overpriced specials.

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago...

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago…

Next, came Super Phase 4 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack, and the presentation of my mom’s true gift. I provided her with a homemade card and the promise of taking family pictures sometime over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to give her a gift that truly expressed how much I care about her and our family, and by cementing our love in a series of cheesy looking photographs, I know that we will always have a reminder of how much we care for one another.

Overall, the day may not have been outrageously special, but I’m just glad that I could spend some time with my mother and tell her how much I appreciate everything she has done for me, because she has truly sacrificed everything to provide the best opportunities for my future. Her patience, dedication, and love are gifts that I will always recognize, and her effort to provide for me is a gift that I never intend to waste. It’s a bit sad that I only take the pains to acknowledge and celebrate these feelings one day of the year. All of the people I love should know exactly how deeply I care for them, and they deserve to hear my heartfelt expressions of love throughout the year.

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Lessons from the Lama

DSCN0608This past Tuesday, the University of Maryland hosted the Sadat Lecture for Peace, featuring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

I jumped at the chance to miss my morning classes and to eternally brag that I had heard the Dalai Lama speak live. Yet, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this lecture. Moral ramblings from an outdated source? Spiritual musings the likes of which the world has never seen?

After trekking across a rain sodden campus and patiently waiting amongst the masses in line, I took my seat in Comcast Center (our indoor arena) and decided that I was thoroughly unenthused. This man has probably lectured thousands upon thousands of times, and I didn’t think there was much that he could bring to the table in the ways of relating peace and love to the world. We get it, peace is peaceful, love is lovely.

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Once the Dalai Lama entered the stage, the whole stadium rose to their feet, applauding and cheering for the adorable old man who stood tall in his red robe. I recognized that unlike most modern celebrities, this man had truly earned his fame, and I clapped with as much enthusiasm and rigor as those around me. I was in the presence of a clearly meaningful human being, I needed to appreciate this.

From that initial encounter on, I was completely captivated by what His Holiness had to say regarding life, love, and the lot:

  • DSCN0635Don’t trust material valuables for inner happiness, they will only disappoint you
  • Real value and beauty is within us and our genuine smiles
  • Trust is key for friendships between all
  • Dialogue is the only way to overcome violence
  • We all have the same potential, the same goal. And this makes it possible for genuine harmony between people who differ
  • Think more

Obviously I paraphrased a good deal of what he said, and obviously I could never convey the tone or true power behind his words, but these things that are seen as common sense, really need to be taken to heart and utilized for the creation of a better world.

Not only did the Dalai Lama give a remarkable lecture on the state of society’s spirit, but he also graced us with his sense of humor. Every so often he would tell an amusing story, place a UMD visor on his head, or snuggle up on the comfy lounge chair he was sitting in. This man’s smile brought about my laughter in a completely innocent and genuine way. To hold such a high position and still make jokes about the bright spotlights, I was in the presence of true happiness, and it brought laughter to my heart and joy to my soul.

DSCN0618Thank goodness I attended this lecture; I needed a reminder about how magnificent life can be when you approach it with beauty and positivity. Thank goodness I opened my heart to his message of tolerance and peace, to recognize the unity of humanity. And thank goodness I am living, and free to acknowledge these wonderful conditions for the rest of my life.

Need Directions? I’d Love to Help!

For some reason, I absolutely love it when people ask me for directions. I feel thrilled whenever someone approaches me with a confused gleam in their eye and a dejected shrug in their shoulders.

Mostly I get asked while roaming the streets of the University of Maryland, as it is so easy to get lost in the 1,250 acres of rolling hills.  Sometimes I’ll even approach people who are oh so obviously lost. They try to hide their crumpled map and frustrated sighs, but I seek them out and gladly offer up my services.

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Giving directions is a wonderful way to boost your self-confidence. I know it seems silly, but there is nothing better than proving your literal street smarts and helping others in a simple way. It’s also nice to affirm that you know your way around in the world and are so confident with the path you’ve chosen that you’d like nothing more than to share that path with the poor lost souls of the world.

Maybe I’m reading too much into telling someone to take the first left and find the Benjamin Building on their right, but I truly love giving directions and knowing exactly where I am.

(Strangely enough, I also love asking for directions. I think it’s because I’m offering someone the chance to experience the same delight that I feel when called upon to perform in the line of societal duety.)

Art Attack – Completing My Bucket List One Bland Activity at a Time

DSCN0572This past weekend, the University of Maryland put on Art Attack, which is basically a concert with a surprise musical guest performing right in the middle of our football field. Seeing as tickets were $8 and a decent portion of the student body was planning on attending, I knew this would be a great way to spend a Friday night and cross “attend a concert” off my bucket list.

Though I’m 20 years old, I’ve never actually been to a concert before. I suppose I’ve had opportunities, but there hasn’t been a band or artist I love enough to devote my time and money to. It doesn’t help that I like older bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who = $$), and country music (Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner = lack of interest from friends) who no one would want to join me in seeing. Though I wasn’t paticularly enthused about the band, Art Attack, featuring MGMT, seemed to present the perfect opportunity to provide me with my first concert experience.

(Here is the song that most people know by them. Feel free to search for the music video, but I find it terrifying.)

A few friends and I arrived at the concert just in time to gain access to the pit, an area directly in front of the stage where people could stand. Though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about standing for four hours, I knew that it would only help make my quintessential concert experience. After two decent warm-up bands and a whole lot of waiting around, MGMT finally arrived on stage.

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Firstly, I should do some explaining.

  1. I only know one of their songs, and vaguely at that.
  2. I had been standing for three hours in uncomfortable but adorable shoes.
  3. The temperature plummeted after the first warm-up act.
  4. People were smoking right in front of me, and I detest being subjected to the unhealthy habits of others

Basically, what I’m getting at is I had a thoroughly poor-to-mediocre time. I’m glad that I went and had an experience that I’d always wanted to, but the experience itself wasn’t so grand. And they didn’t even play the one song of theirs that I vaguely know….

This hasn’t deterred me in the least though, and I would definitely go to another concert in the future. Provided I like the band, wear sneakers, bring two jackets, mittens, and a scarf, and don a gas mask to overcome the smokers.

Charm City

baltimore skylineI’ve lived just outside of Baltimore, MD my whole life. As a child, I never frequented the city unless it was to visit the prairie dogs at the Zoo or pay testament to Barney on Ice. Once I grew up a tad and  figured out how to properly work the light rail, I could really begin to appreciate the beauty of the city and everything Baltimore had to offer (my Super Bowl-winning Ravens). I fell in love.

I don’t consider myself a city girl by any means, but there’s just something about Baltimore that pulls on my heart strings and makes me feel like I’m comfortably at home but also capable of discovering untold adventures. Everything that Baltimore offers is dear to me and I am so grateful that I’ve grown up next to such a prominent and delightful town.

I think Tracey does a pretty good job of describing Charm City:

In Baltimore, I’ve:

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The Harbor was gorgeous at night

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The prize was meeting Torrey Smith. GIVE ME MORE CARDS!

Played Bingo in Ravens stadium.

Celebrated my anniversary on the Inner Harbor.

Gotten an internship with a premier medical center.

Tolerated my brother at baseball games.

Beauty and the Beast!

Beauty and the Beast!

Bonded with my Dad on the 20 yard line.

Relived my childhood with my Mom.

And created memories that are bound to last a lifetime.

We all have that one special place around where we grew up that just calls to us, and for me, that’s Baltimore. I hope that one day I can find some way to give back to the city I love. For right now, I’m content to just reflect on all the wonderful experiences it’s lent me and continue planning for more memorable times.

baltimore harbor

Grandparents: More Than Hard Candies and Hearing Aids

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve had a family. And for as long as my family members have been alive, they’ve had a family of their own. I know it seems simple to reflect on, everyone understands the concept of a family tree, but, not everyone takes advantage of this tremendously supportive and loving network of people who all care deeply about your happiness.

Specifically, I’m going to give a shout-out to grandparents; more specifically, my grandparents.

My grandparents live about 3 hours away from me and my family, and as a kid I loved the distance between us. The surprise presents they brought with them (CANDY) were always great, but after a day or two I couldn’t stand my grandmother’s nagging or my grandfather’s bellowing responses due to his poor hearing.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realize the important role they have in my life. I am their granddaughter. That means so much more than seeing them occasionally; it means actively engaging them in conversation and letting them know how much I care for and appreciate them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are loving and kind people (if you look in between their rants on Obama and affinity for disguising rude comments in a sweet demeanor) and I never want to neglect their presence in my life, because they have so much to offer me.

Some of the things my grandparents offer me over our bi-weekly phone calls:
• Accurate insights on the weather
• Complaints regarding the weatherweather graphic
• Hopes for the future weather
• Insight into what my grandmother is wearing for the current weather
• Wishes to come and visit the family
• Pride at my more strenuous workout routine
• Musings regarding the celebrities on Dancing With the Stars
• Frustration over my support of Obama
• Good luck wishes regarding school and finding an internship
• Intriguing conspiracies mentioned on the History Channel
• Pride that I’m attending college
• The same questions regarding my daily schedule

All of these topics both amuse and frustrate me, and if I don’t call at least every week to confirm what I already know about the weather, I know that I’m missing out on a good time and a conversation with the two loves of my life.