Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…
I grew up in a very small town in southwest Pennsylvania. I currently attend college in Florida, where I am studying elementary education. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in speech and language pathology. I am a blessed Christian. Although I often fail at optimism, I do recognize every day and everything as a gift from God. I am a painful perfectionist. I do not have a “favorite” [insert anything here] because I can’t make up my mind.* I do not like the word “fun.” I have a hard time deciding if I’m having fun, or what I think is fun, or if I’m even capable of having fun. (I swear I’m not as depressing as that sounds. Atleast I hope not.)
*A possible exception is my favor toward the number 3.
Three things that make me very happy:
I’ve always run.
I began running at a young age, starting with the one mile “fun run” in my hometown. I began running track in 7th grade, specializing in long distance events, and continued running through high school graduation. I also began running cross country in high school.
But, I haven’t always been a runner.
Even though I have always been a competitive athlete, I never really cared about running or trained very hard. I didn’t really train out of season and often walked during practices. The only time I took running seriously during this time was when, like many other teenage girls, I began to struggle with my body image. Even though I didn’t care about my times, I cared about running because it burned calories, which were my enemy. But I took things too far. You can’t run on empty. Just when I began to recover, I hurt my knee, stopping me from running. Around this time, my parents began the process of their long and stressful divorce, and a lot of things began changing in my life. I certainly wasn’t happy, and I was searching desperately for a way to release my stress.
During the spring of my first year at college, I realized my methods weren’t working. I wasn’t happy with the person I had become. I decided to start running again to get back in shape. My dad convinced me to run a sprint triathlon—his sport of choice—with him at the beginning of summer.
But this time, something was different. I fell in love. I found such peace during my runs. Running became less of a habit and more of a passion.
At times, my addiction to running is a little unhealthy. I plan my days around my runs. I get cranky when I can’t run. I can’t relax on days I don’t get to run. (I do take Sundays off, though, and I don’t feel guilty.) Sometimes, I don’t want to go places because I won’t be able to run. I know this isn’t good. But I’m not perfect, and I take those struggles one day at a time.
2) Cooking and Baking
I absolutely love all things chocolate. I eat it every day, usually in the form of dairy-free chocolate chips. : ) I’m almost vegan; I’m a dairy-free “pescatarian,” which means I still eat seafood. (I try to pretend it’s not meat.)
When I was in middle school, I thought I was allergic to cocoa. I often got sick when I ate chocolate, so I totally cut it out of my diet. In early high school, I was getting sick more and more frequently. After countless bottles of PeptoBismol, numerous doctors’ appointments, several medicines, and finally one allergy test, the doctors decided I had lactose intolerance—along with a generally uncooperative digestive system.** This led me to explore different food lifestyles. (The term I prefer to “diet.”) After several experiments, including a month of being 100% vegan, I settled into my pescatarianism (is that a word?) for good. In regard to the chocolate—since I can now have chocolate as long as it’s dairy free, and since I had avoided chocolate for almost three years, I think I’m still making up for lost time. : )
Running has allowed me to really embrace my love of food. I can bake without feeling guilty. I believe life is all about balance! I run, and I love running, but I also love that it relieves anxiety in this part of my life.
**Unlike some people with lactose intolerance, I cannot tolerate any dairy, including whey. I avoid milk and all products containing milk like butter, cheese, and creams. I also avoid egg yolks because they contain a hard-to-digest protein, but I still eat the whites.
3) Jesus Christ
I was raised Roman Catholic in a fairly religious home, especially on my moms side of the family. After graduating high school, I didn’t go to church for almost a year. That spring, I decided I wanted to go to church again, but more importantly, develop a true relationship with God. Although I started by returning to a Catholic church, I began researching other churches and considering the options. I attended a Lutheran church for a few months–a compromise between the Protestant and Catholic faiths–but I soon tired of the lack of energy at the particular church I was going to. After visiting over 8 different churches around where I live in Florida, I found comfort in a United Methodist church. To me, God is God, and church is about praising Him–no matter where you go.
My faith grows every day. I try to be the best person I can and to embody my Christian faith. The minister at my new church has challenged us to “live our lives as a testament to His life and His love,” something I’ll strive to do forever.