Friday, January 4, 2008

2007 Year in Review Ramblings

It is that time of the year now. Realizing that another year has past and you are one year older and wiser due to the experiences of the past year. Some years, I can honestly say, fall into the blur of life. They simply are extensions of previous years, and while things can get better or worse, aren't really outliers on life's linear path. And sometimes the opposite happens. You realize that a year has changed the path (slope) of your life (Mx + b = y where M is a gigantic life change) and suddenly, the end point is not where it used to be. Looking back at this year, I am realizing, that I am not the person I was a year ago. I feel like I have evolved immensely, in what I like to do, how I perceive myself, and where I am headed. I have hopes that this year was the corner turn and next year I can hit the gas on the straightaway.

In this vein, I will be blogging about the biggest changes and experiences this past year, because I believe it's good to look back and realize that while I was chasing down life, I seemed to have finally caught it once or twice and I really don't want to let it go. As I write this, it is so easy to see how when life closes one door, it opens another and makes me so strongly believe that everything happens for a reason.

What changed you ask?

-Only every athletic & career focused goal I have set for myself over the past eight years…

-The activities that make my heart sing are entirely different.

-The dreams that keep me up at night have completely changed.

-The expectations about what I can accomplish and what limits I may find are freshly baked creations in my mind.

-My vision of the future with my family at my side has developed a new and more concrete definition that fills me with such happiness.

Basically, everything has changed.

First and foremost, I started the year on a mission to get back to the rugby pitch following my ACL reconstruction in 2006. This year was supposed to be the year I was able to return to the sport that I loved, stronger and better than ever. I debuted on the pitch in February to begin what would become the most painful season of my life both mentally and physically. Physically, I was not really ready to play the game again. I still had a lot of knee pain, and while I wasn't worried about re-injury, my body would shut down when it knew I needed to, and I mostly played very subpar to my normal abilities. I spend many a practice limping through pain and many an evening icing down return swelling. This was hard mentally since I am usually my own worst critic in rugby. Lose confidence of your abilities in a sport like rugby, and I guarantee you will not last long. I ended the season in May completely and mentally done with the sport. I had lost the desire for one of the most constant parts of my life for 7 years. Where would I go from here?

I need physical outlet. I know this about myself. So I picked up the only sport that didn’t hurt my knee: biking. I didn’t know anything about biking, but I needed a non impact activity to do while my knee recovered from a rugby. Interestingly enough, I started my blog Chasing Down Life about this time due to discovering of Jill’s blog Up In Alaska which chronicles the adventures of Alaska winter biking. This opened me up to a world of crazy blog adventurers who risk life and limb in the pursuit of athletic goals. I am an avid reader of adventure novels and it was like I got to see the unedited view into the minds and training stories of things I usually only dreamed about. It made them seem real, and since real people were achieving these amazing things, why couldn’t I?

Slowly these stories inspired me to find my own adventures, and thus drove a desire to document them. But writing was never a passion of mine and since I spend my whole day on a computer, why would I want to spend time on it after work for personal activities? I love photography and wished to have a place to write the photographic story of my life hence the blog was born. I really didn’t know what to expect from my writing since I have never had a journal in my life and can honestly say I can not ever remember writing anything that was not required of me before this blog. Aside from my terrible grammar, punctuation, and fragments etc., I have been surprised not only at what seems to flow out of my head, but also in how much enjoyment I get out of it.

My only real previous biking experience was riding on a cement path when I was a kid. I owned a cheap crappy mountain bike that had been sorely neglected since its purchase three years ago. So when I picked up the bike, and started trying to ride on a real trail, I got frustrated by my normal method of dismount (going over the handlebars). These early days of discovering how a bike works are laughable and embarrassing and unfortunately are archived in May and June on this blog. But I learned that you grow by taking a tumble and I have slowly gotten better. More importantly, I got in shape… like real endurance shape. Something I had never done in my life either. Workouts became fun, and when you are having fun, you don’t want to stop, even after a couple of hours. This new feeling of strength caused me to expand my horizons on where else I could have outdoor fun.

I started indoor/outdoor rock climbing, trail running, and kayaking. I planned my first big back packing trip to Havasu Falls for my bachelorette party and fell in love with this new type of hiking that can last for more than a day. I basically discovered that I love outdoor activities in nature with a passion I thought was only reserved for rugby. I have explored more of Arizona in this past summer/fall than in my previous three years living here and have discovered the true beauty of the desert. Stepping back now, I can see the logical progression that the culmination of all of these new activities has led me to. Adventure racing is my newest passion that I have only yet begun to taste and from the first drop of it, I was left craving more. It encompasses all the hobbies that I have started to love while filling the competitive void left from retiring from rugby.

With the evolution of my hobbies, has come a better realization of who and I am and what makes me tick. With the emergence of dreams and goals, has come a better vision of where I want my future to look like. Of course one of the biggest changes in my personal life this year has been the acquisition of a hubby. Since Tom and I have been together for quite some time, I wasn’t sure how much things would change when we got married. But it has, in so many ways. I see our happy future together in 5, 10, 20 and even 50 years. We are defining that picture now, molding it to be what we want together. I feel so lucky to have found this soul mate to create a life with. I have a foundation in the form of a husband who supports my dreams and understands my frustrations. And this has made me realize that if I do not like the story being laid out before me, then I should not be afraid to alter it. I have a great job, a job many people would die for, but it does not inspire me and I don’t think I will ever feel satisfied until I feel at least part of the passion I feel in life at work. So I am exploring options that include going back to school for a pretty drastic career change in the medical field (Phys As.). It will be hard work for over three years and I am not even sure I will be accepted, but I am no longer afraid to try. It may not work out in the end, but I am going to give it a go.

So 2007 was great on so many levels. I had accomplishments and positive forward steps in the direction of my future interleaved with some stumbles in the wrong direction (re-tearing my ACL) all of which comprises the natural tapestry of life. I learned how best to deal with both highs and lows, cause the mind is a fickle but strong dictator. Mostly, I feel like I gained a little more clarity into me. Because that is what life is all about: Living to your full potential in the most positive impactful way possible.

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