Goals For 2017.

Honestly, I can’t believe how fast the year flashed by.  I feel like 2016 just started…and yet here we are, on the second to last day of the year.  I think it’s been harder for me to keep track of time this year because of all of the big life events that happened during the last 365 days.

Just to recap, 2016 brought:

  • my final semester of college
  • a stressful and exciting grad school/job search
  • an offer (and acceptance) for a graduate assistantship at the University of South Dakota
  • the creation of this blog!
  • college graduation! #NMUAlumni
  • a move back to my parents house for the summer
  • a new summer job at the local cafe
  • my first big adult purchase-my 2011 Chevy Impala!
  • a cross-country trek to my new home, Vermillion, South Dakota! #FromNoMiToSoDak
  • my first semester of #SAGrad
  • new friends
  • an interest and focus on holistic wellbeing
  • meditation
  • an unforgettable roadtrip and hiking adventure to the Badlands with my best friend, Monica
  • trips to exciting cities-St. Louis, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • more time spent in airports than any year prior

and…

  • lots of new adventures!

So, as I ring in the new year, I can’t help but to think back on all of the positive and negative things that I experienced in 2016 and the things I look forward to in 2017.

I am not really big on new years resolutions because I don’t believe they really work.  I don’t ever stick to them and neither do most people…it’s just a fun trendy thing to do so we all hop on that bandwagon.

However, something that I am pretty big on is goal-setting (cue all student affairs related programming).  So, rather than creating a resolution each year I try to make a few reasonable goals for myself.

This year my goals are:

  • land a summer internship.
    • I am currently applying through ACUHO-I  but am also looking into other internship hosts and campus locations.
  • read six books.
    • I am working on knocking off some books on my To-Read shelf on Goodreads.
  • #RunTheYear2017.
    • I hope to run 2017 miles in the year of 2017, which equates to 5.5 miles a day.
  • Build a mostly plant-based diet.
    • This one I am still unsure of but really interested in!  
    • I am shooting for 75-80% of my diet being plant-based but am not sure how I will track this yet.  Because of my running goal, I want to focus on filling my body with nutrient-rich foods right from the ground in order to provide the energy needed to reach this lofty fitness goal.  I have been thinking about and researching plant based lifestyles for a long while now but have been scared to try it.  I hate the idea of dieting and restricting myself to only certain foods, but I wholeheartedly believe that a mostly plant based lifestyle is the way to go for me.  Being mostly plant-based will allow for me to consistently practice positive physical wellbeing and monitor the foods that I am eating while still being flexible enough for me to feel unrestricted and still have fun too…aka ice cream, french fries, and craft beer.
  • minimize.
    • The idea of minimalist living has always intrigued me.  I hate living in clutter.  I hate having things that are unused or don’t bring me happiness and positivity in some way.  I would like to be able to pack up the items that I have and move easily when I am done with grad school, so it makes sense to start minimizing now.  The less I have the less I have to worry about, right?

As of right now, these are the goals that I have set for myself in the next year.  I am sure I will add, subtract, or alter my goals, but I think that I have a great foundation right now.

I will be sure to update my progress as I go along.  Good luck to everyone else on their 2017 endeavors!

-Joel

November.

November.  It’s the month of the year that is always hard for me.  It’s definitely not my favorite month.  With the start of November comes the end of my favorite time of the year.  It means that snow covers the ground instead of bright colored leaves.  And with snow comes cold weather.  I am realizing as I get older that I hate cold weather.  I love the snow, but I am miserable in the cold.  This makes for a miserable four(ish) months of my life each year.  I definitely believe that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing.  I feel a drastic change in my attitude and behavior during the winter months.  Brought on by the cold, lack of sunshine, and lack of time spent outdoors, I go through a slight depressive state at this time each year.  I can blame it on the weather for the sake of pointing fingers but I also know that Winter time is not the only thing that makes me depressed.

I don’t typically share this part of my story, but I feel the need to do so today.  This post is hard for me to write but I want to anyway.  I want to share why exactly I can’t seem to shake this slump that you may witness me in during November.


November.  A time to give thanks; to be thankful for loved ones and jobs and all of the positivity that the last year has provided.  We can be thankful for sweaters and flannel, and hot cocoa and warm pumpkin spice/peppermint flavored drinks.  We can be thankful for holidays and time off of work and school.  We can be thankful for health and for an abundance of other things.

For me, as hard as I try to avoid it, I always find myself in a slump during this time.  I try to remember all the flannels and lights and fun flavored drinks that warm the body and the soul.  But I also remember sadness, sickness, and loss.


November.  The month in which I have experienced the most loss.  Unfortunately, I have lost a great grandmother, two uncles, a grandma, a grandpa and a relationship with running during the month of November.  I have been impacted by each of these losses differently, but each has been tough in some important way.

I was extremely young when I lost my great grandmother.  To be honest, I don’t even remember her very much.  This loss didn’t hit me until recently, actually.  For whatever reason the thought that I don’t remember any of my great grandparents saddens me.  I don’t think a lot of people know their great grandparents, but thinking about how special that relationship must be makes my heart warm.

When I lost my two uncles, I was more hurt for my cousins that were experiencing this loss.  I personally wasn’t that close to either of these uncles, but knowing that my parents, cousins, and grandparents were losing brothers, fathers, and sons makes my heart hurt.

Some may think that this next one is a strange one.  But for me its part of my identity.  If you had known me growing up, you know that ALL I did was run.  Losing that in November of my senior year of high school is still something that haunts me.  My senior year of high school was when I realized that I would never be great at running.  While running was my passion, it wasn’t my strength or my calling or my future.  I realized that I was not as good as the others.  I was not going to compete at state finals.  I was not going to compete in college.  I was not going to compete ever again.

I still run; it’s just a little different.  I no longer have a running community.  I no longer run competitively.  I no longer run for others.  I run for me and me alone.  I run because it is my escape from the negativity in my life.  I run to let go.  I run to prove to myself that I have strength, stamina, drive, and endurance.  I run to prove to myself that I am worth it, no matter what anyone said or thought back in high school.  I run because I love it, and that will never change.

This next one is kind of strange too.  I didn’t actually lose my grandfather.  He’s still alive.  I just lost him in the sense that I no longer believe that I have a relationship with him.  When I lost my grandmother, I lost the thing that tied my grandfather to the rest of my family.  He has become like a distant relative in some ways.  I never see him.  I never speak to him.  Sadly, I don’t care to.  I feel like he doesn’t care about me, or anyone else in my family.  Part of me blames my grandma’s death for this.  I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone who has lost their partner must feel.  Losing a woman as special as my grandma must have defeated him.  I believe that when my grandma died, so did he.  He’s not the same man that he once was.  It sucks.  But, I also don’t care to know the man that he is today, so it is easier to avoid it all and to be distant.

Now, the hardest one of all…my grandma.

Today, November 19, 2016, is the nine year anniversary of my grandmother’s death.  I can’t believe that it has been nine years already.  It seems like just yesterday and it seems like forever.  But it doesn’t matter.  She’s gone.  It is still one of the hardest things to cope with.  My grandmother and I were incredibly close.  She was someone that I looked up to for everything.

I inherited many great things from her.  I inherited my love and passion for caring for others.  She did that well.  She was so attentive to her loved ones, and so willing to sacrifice everything of her own for someone else.  I believe I am pursuing work in a helping profession because of witnessing the love that she shared with others and wanting to do that myself.  I also inherited my outspokenness from her.  My grandmother had a way with words.  She didn’t care who heard what she had to say.  And, boy did she always have something to say.  She was full of stories.  I also inherited my storytelling from her.  I acknowledge the fact that I run my mouth to the point of trouble.  I acknowledge the fact that I talk too much.  I acknowledge the fact that I tell stories.  But I also acknowledge where I got these traits, and why I value communication, speech, and the power of voice so much.

Every November I am paralyzed with that sinking feeling that another year has gone by that I haven’t spoken to my grandma.  I haven’t heard her voice.  Every year I think about the fact that I am losing those memories with each moment that passes.  I no longer know if I remember what she sounded like or exactly how she looked or smelled.  That is scary.  It’s sad.  And every year I fall into this pit of November.

Today, I am far away from family and friends.  I am alone in South Dakota.  I am sad.  I am remembering.  I woke up feeling sick this morning.  I woke up to a work related emergency.  And I woke up to the reality that it was November.  November 19th to be exact.


Since I am working on practicing self-care and focusing on my wellbeing this year, I thought I would share some of my emotions today.  Part of being well is being honest and real with the fact that everyone has bad days.  I want to work on overcoming bad days and bad months and overcoming the demons that November always brings with the cold weather.

With love,

-Joel

Awakening.

I am really not sure how to write this post, so I am just going to dive right in.

For more than a year now, I have been participating in the #52HikeChallenge.  Today I completed Hike 51 (I am almost done!  Once completed, I will be writing a reflection on my experience so stay tuned for that post.  Anywho, now for a reflection on today’s hike).

For this morning’s hike, I went to the Nebraska/South Dakota border, just a few minutes outside of Vermillion, to an overlook called Mulberry Bend.

I like this hike because it is less than a 20 minute drive away, and the trail is just under a mile long, so I can do it even on the busiest of days.  Because of the ease, convenience, and simplicity of this trail, it’s never stuck out to me as anything special.  This morning, however, I saw this trail through fresh eyes.

I was almost back to the overlook from the trail when I spotted a patch of color on a tree off to my right.  It was the first trace of Fall that I’ve seen this season.  I love Fall.  The changing colors are beautiful, and vastly different with every season, every patch of trees.  The leaves change every year, and then drop off, dead.  It’s truly amazing.  This cycle of life shows its presence each year, and yet I find myself falling in love with October again and again.  What’s not to be in awe of?

I was stopped in the middle of the trail.  In awe.  Staring at the leaves.

It’s beautiful.  That’s why I fall in love year after year.  How can one ignore beauty?  You just can’t.  But then I thought about how soon these leaves will fall, turn ugly brown, and decay into the Earth.  I was thinking to myself how sad it was that this beauty only lasts a short period of time.  Why is it that this amazing season of year is so short?  It is overshadowed by this dark and cold time that seems to last FOREVER.  Why?

That’s when it hit me.  For leaves, beauty is in death.  Not life.

Leaves go silently.  They simply live their life hidden in plain sight, showing their true beauty only for a short period of time, and then they drop off.  They fall to the Earth and are covered in a blanket of cold for the next few months.

There it was.  Another sign of Mike’s legacy.  Mike was an autumn leaf.  He lived a short life of simplicity.  Full of life, adventure, and love, he showed his beauty to the world for a short 24 years.  Then one day, his time came.  He dropped off, and gave himself back to the Earth.

This post, is not meant to be sad.  Nor is it even about Mike.  This post is about life, nature, beauty, and simplicity, and how in a single moment I was reminded of each of these things.

I guess what I am trying to say is that in one moment I felt more spiritually alive and well than I have in a very long time.

As you’ve read in recent posts, wellbeing is something that I am trying to incorporate into my daily life.  In this moment, I felt deeply spiritually well.  I felt connected to nature, God, Mike, and my new environment.  I haven’t felt something like this since moving to South Dakota.

I long for adventure, and simplicity.  I miss the way I felt when I was hiking along the shore of Lake Superior.  I underestimated the connection that I have with water.  I underestimated the power of the outdoors.  I never knew how spiritually awake I was simply being in the company of nature.

This revelation from this morning has been on my mind all day.  Moving forward, I seek to live with a spirit of adventure and mindfulness, allowing moments like this to awaken my soul.

Sending peace, love, and positive vibes

–Joel

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Such a small patch of leaves on this tree left such a big impact on my day

 

Taking Breaks.

Hey pals!

I am going to stray from the norm of writing about Student Affairs.  After all, this blog is about my life and my adventures, and Student Affairs is only one sector of my life.  It does not define who I am.

Anyway, as you know from my post about wellbeing I am trying to focus on my personal wellness this semester.  So, I thought I would give a brief check in and update on how I am doing.

I have been taking my daily wellness tracker and according to it, I have been thriving everyday this month except for one.  I would say that this is relatively accurate, based on the questions that it asks me each day.  I have noticed that by starting my morning with this simple reflective practice, I feel grounded and  in tune with myself so I can focus on the day ahead and what it will bring me in terms of wellness.

This last week was quite busy and my stress levels were heightened.  I have my first presentation as a #SAGrad tomorrow, and I have a paper due this week as well.  The pressure and uncertainty of this week really started to settle in and I got very frustrated and overwhelmed.

This morning, I woke up at 4 am with a migraine.  This was a sign that I needed to focus on my wellness and get some rest.  So, I took some ibuprofen, crawled back in bed and skipped my first hour at the office.  Since then, my day has been surprisingly productive.  I have drank multiple bottles of water, I cranked out my homework, and I booked a flight to St. Louis for the NASPA regional conference in November!  Things are looking up and I’m feeling great tonight.

I spent the majority of my day by myself, at the library, in silence.  I needed that “I” time to restore my energy.  Normally I am not one to enjoy silence or alone time.  But today, I’ve needed it.

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I think that it is vital for us to be honest and to listen to our bodies.  I think of the song lyric “The body talks and meditation helps” from the great Nahko and Medicine for the People.  This message is so true.  We must take care of ourselves.  Be in tune with what our body is saying.  Take care of it and it will not let us down.

Practicing self-care and focusing on my wellbeing has been enlightening in the last month and I am excited to continue along this journey of health and wellness.  I look forward to updating everyone on my wellness as I go, but today, I felt that it was necessary to share my feelings.

Rest up pals,

-Joel