Monday, August 18, 2014

When Did This Happen? On Accomplishment Without Trying

I was writing the last post when I happened to see that it was the 199th post, meaning that this was post number 200. I was shocked! Maybe this is a bad thing to admit, but I hadn't noticed just how many of these I had done compared to the past. I tend to be critical of myself and only remember the weeks when I didn't post anything. All the times I saw something or did something that I didn't take a picture of because of self consciousness. That this is post #200 means that I am also getting close to my goal of writing 100 blog posts this year (in fact this post is the 89th already) and I had a moment of pride.

This is the third time in a week I have felt empowered, not by an accomplishment, but rather by my progress. The first happened when I ran 5 miles last Saturday. After we realized we weren't going to be running our half marathon next week, we, particularly I, really slacked off, blaming it on the fact that we did a lot of traveling in July and that I would have to work my way back up again. Before  we canceled our race our next step on our training was to run 5 miles. Coming back to it after a few weeks I was feeling really bad about how little I had done for a couple weeks. Well I decided to run 3 miles one day and when Brett mentioned wanting to do 5 I simply agreed before I could think about it. And I did it. The whole 5 miles. Picking up right where I left off, learning that I could keep going and didn't need to start from scratch again.

The second is also exercise related. Tuesday, after a really hard yoga workout that had my muscles angry the next day I did an unassisted headstand for the first time since I was a kid. This may seem small but I was excited. When I started doing yoga regularly I picked a hard pose I wanted to work towards in order to always have that goal, well a scorpion is hard, and this was just another step on the way. 

So now here I am, with a third reminder that no matter the circumstances I can find joy in my journey and progression in life. That I can feel so insure and yet so calm about a hobby and see myself growing. Writing these blog posts is something that Brett doesn't get, my friends don't always get, and honestly most of the time I feel like I don't get it, but the more I press on, the more I love it.

So here is to branching out. To realizing that trying to be better this week than last week works. To making progress a habit, no matter what the circumstances. To knowing that accomplishment comes through overall consistency, not through perfection, and a desire to keep going. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Lord of the Rings

Summary from Goodreads:
"J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a genuine masterpiece. The most widely read and influential fantasy epic of all time, it is also quite simply one of the most memorable and beloved tales ever told. Originally published in 1954, The Lord of the Rings set the framework upon which all epic/quest fantasy since has been built. Through the urgings of the enigmatic wizard Gandalf, young hobbit Frodo Baggins embarks on an urgent, incredibly treacherous journey to destroy the One Ring. This ring -- created and then lost by the Dark Lord, Sauron, centuries earlier -- is a weapon of evil, one that Sauron desperately wants returned to him. With the power of the ring once again his own, the Dark Lord will unleash his wrath upon all of Middle-earth. The only way to prevent this horrible fate from becoming reality is to return the Ring to Mordor, the only place it can be destroyed. Unfortunately for our heroes, Mordor is also Sauron's lair. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is essential reading not only for fans of fantasy but for lovers of classic literature as well..."

My Thoughts: I don't even know where to start. This is a story that I had only heard snippets about until I got to college. There, a friend showed me the movies and I fell in love. But no matter how much I loved it I felt like a pretender because I had never read the books. Every once in a while I would think about reading it, but wanted to have enough time to give them my full attention. Well now I did it and I am so glad.

This story covers so many story lines that I could talk for hours about it. Everyone has there favorite characters, their favorite stories, and their favorite moments. For Brett, he loves Boromir but hates Merry and Pippen. He loves the Battle of Helmsdeep, but thinks the Ents are stupid. Going into these books I was pretty traditional, loving Aragorn (check out this pin I found!) and Sam but not really getting the point of some of the other characters, like Denethor in the grander scheme. Now I can honestly say that I have no character I don't like. There are still favorites (I mean how can Aragorn not be at the top of the list?) but some others are stealing the show. I love Eowyn and Faramir, both individually and as their stories come together. I love the relationship between Aragorn and Bilbo, and Aragorn and his fellow Rangers that is removed from the movies. Characters and relationships just get to me.

The thing I think I love the most is Tolkien's writing. The level of skill here just amazes me. He takes so much mythology and folklore, combines it with religion, throws in some complex characters and stories lines, and manages to keep track of everything so nicely that it all gets resolved. There is nothing I appreciate more than an author that can finish a story leaving me satisfied. I finished the end of The Return of the King as I was riding the bus home from work and it was all I could do not to have a visible emotional reaction. I felt the same way I felt after finishing The Counte of Monte Cristo, satisfied by a piece of literature in a way that cements it into a special place in my mind. A piece of literature that will forever be on my bookshelf.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Powell's City of Books

It is common knowledge by now that I love books. My love of books, literature, and learning has just blossomed this summer because I suddenly have so much time to read! I did the math once and when I took into account my bus commutes, mandatory breaks and lunch length, I have at least 3.5 hours a day to read. I am hauling through books. Some days I don't read one just because it is starting to feel too repetitive. Anyway, because I love books so much I love going to libraries and bookstores. I can spend hours in a bookstore looking at the books and journals. I have a serious weak spot for journals.

One of my favorite places in the world is Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland, Oregon. I went there with Brett when we were dating, and we got to go back again this summer. The bookstore is so big that you need a map to get around. They have new books, used books, old books, current books. I got to the point where I had to stop looking at things in order to avoid wanting to buy more stuff! I highly recommend checking this place out whenever you get the chance!

we ended up returning Gone Girl after Brett started reading it and it was pretty raunchy. We will just wait until we can clearplay the movie.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What the Housekeeper is Thinking

For my temporary job this summer I am working as a housekeeper at the University of Washington. During the summer the dorms turn into housing for conferences and campus events so they hire seasonal housekeepers. I have seen a lot over the summer, but have also found that I think the same things over and over. So today I offer you, Thoughts of Your Housekeeper. Be nice to the housekeeper next time you stay somewhere, this is what our days are like. Also, all these are real.

Okay lets do this, I got the good floor today. It shouldn't be too bad. Oh never mind, that group left and now there are teenagers here for a video game conference.

How do you possibly go through four towels in 24 hours, there is one of you!

Oh look, they have up a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Good, because I am running out of time anyway.

I think these machines to help with snoring are really the sleep machines they use in Inception to go three levels deep. That has to be the only explanation.

I never thought I would be so desensitized to seeing peoples' intimates hang drying everywhere. Sad.

Another person without a "Do Not Disturb" sign who is still in the room but didn't respond when we knocked. And is fully clothed. Staring at the door like they don't know what to do. Just say "come back later."

How did you get so much water everywhere in only 24 hours?

Did I not just clean this room yesterday?  It would take months for my house to look this bad.

Someone else left there passport out. Why do people do that?

Yay! A clean person!

I only have one more towel left and you are the last room on the floor, please just need one towel.

Oh this person thinks the blankets are cleaner than the sheets? Jokes on them, we clean the sheets.

In fact, I bet you don't even change the sheets in your house once a week, but when you are here you want them done every three days. Go figure.

You didn't lock your laptop, just left your gmail account open. Good thing I am an honest person. Hope you don't run into a dishonest person someday.

Wow these pillows are the worst, sorry guests.

These blankets, however, are the bomb and I totally want one.

Oh you called to complain we didn't make your bed? Well here I am and your suitcases are everywhere. That's why we left a note saying we don't move personal items and if you want your bed made, clean up after yourself. The note was nicer of course.

Is that most of a rotisserie chicken in the garbage?

Haha! This person thinks we don't know what cigarettes smell like! Hope they like their carpet cleaning charge when they leave.

I wonder what these peoples' houses look like?

This is the cutest travel size iron I have ever seen!

This person is here for a library efficiency conference. That is kinda awesome. Does that make me a nerd? I like libraries, what can I say. My books are due. Gotta remember to go tonight. 

This is why I am going to college.

So there it is, the abridged version of what a day is like as a housekeeper. I am sure I will think of a million more later, but hopefully not too many more. Two weeks left before we move back to Utah and I go back to my awesome job at the library! (True story, the library.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mount Saint Helens Ape Caves

On our way to Portland last month we stopped at the Ape Caves near Mt. St. Helens. This is something we have wanted to do for a while, a hike that Brett did when he was growing up and one he knew I would love. We worked a half day before heading down there and it worked out perfectly. It only took an hour or so to do the actual hike (more on that later) so we still got to Brett's parents' house by dinner.

There are two ways you can go in the cave. The shorter version is extremely smooth and easy, a walk down and back when you hit the dead end. This is the route that we did due to a mix up and the fact that we did not realize that the park closed at 5, so we didn't have time to do the whole route going the other direction. We do plan on going back for the Upper half sometime in the future, maybe next summer if we end up moving to the area. Next time hopefully I have a camera that has a working flash so that I can get these pictures myself.


Going into a cave like this is something I had never done before, and at first I have to admit I was a little freaked out. Once my eyes adjusted to our headlamps and lantern I was fine. It was nice, actually, to be in such a cool cave. The previous week had been super hot in Seattle and we don't have AC.

The Ape Caves, from what I saw and Brett has said, is the perfect spot to go with kids of different ages, too. While we walked we saw lots of families with young kids who were just in heaven doing something so cool as hiking a cave. The other half also has enough piles of boulders that a teenager would be entertained for a few hours. We also passed a booth with a park ranger that was ready to explain the formation of the caves and the environment of the area. Older children would love the diagrams and information the ranger could provide.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Goal Recap: July

I can't believe we are already a few days into August. This year seems to just be flying by for me! So much keeps happening and getting accomplished that I'm trying to beat the year, not wait around for it. This next month is going to be so full of, well everything, that it is nice to take a moment to look at what I have done in the last month as some motivation.

  • Physical:
    • I actually have some bad news on this one. First of all, we are no longer running our half-marathon. We had been keeping an eye on the registration website and waiting to pay the fees until our finances balanced out from our move at the beginning of the summer, we knew what day we needed to register for before the price went up, and a few days before that we opened up the site. To our dismay they had updated the site with higher prices and different registration deadlines! The price almost doubled because they went up and we were now in the late registration bracket. So we decided that we will have to wait. As of right now we are signed up for a 10k back in Utah, and will keep our eyes out for a half marathon in Utah as well.
    • Regular exercise this month was also a little lacking. With spending so much time traveling and then loosing the motivation of the half marathon, I was not as strict as I should have been. But that is what a new month is for, to do better.
  • Spiritual:
    • Lately my work has had a lot of additional projects that don't have customer interaction and I have been able to listen to headphones. At first I was listening to a really good podcast about WWII history but switched over to listening to the most recent General Conference addresses. Over two weeks I listened to all 12 hours worth 3 times. Listening to them in such a repetition helped me to glean information and inspiration on different levels. It also helped stimulate some great conversations between me and Brett. It has been a good few weeks.
  • Social:
    • Well this is about the same as last month. Not much going on hear, but we went to the Camas, WA/Portland, OR, area twice in July as well as had family visit us here. All instances where fun and we always have a blast scoping out new places in these two cities we love. 
  • Financial:
    • Other than needing to purchase a new car and all those other unexpected associated costs, we have continued to do a pretty good job of sticking to our budget. Its nice to see how traceable and achievable our progress has been. Now just to gear up for one more year of tuition. 
  • Intellectual:
    • Well, I did the math and on average each work day I spend at least 3 hours on a bus or on mandatory breaks, so ya, I am reading a lot of books. That is 15 hours a week of just reading. As of now it is working out to about 2 books a week. I am checking out whole stacks from the library at a time.
    • I'm also getting really excited to finish my last year of school. One more semester of classes and another of student teaching and I will be done! Looking forward to student teaching is a little stressful, but i know that my organization and having confidence will be key. 
So that's it. I can't wait to see where August takes us and where we stand at the start of a new school year!