Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Joy of Cooking?

This morning some buddies from high school came over and we made pancakes.

It was more of an attempt on my part.  You see... I'm not the best at cooking.  In fact that is way to kind; I am horrible at cooking!  It cooking endeavors usually end in the fire alarm going off, melting a pan of some sort, and a phone call to my Mom.

After I couldn't find any pancake batter mix in my house I found a recipe online.  Everything was going great.  We had all of the ingredients in my kitchen and I started to mix them as the recipe instructed.

Then disaster struck.

As I was attempting to pour flour into a cup measurer over my sink, all of the flour fell out of the bag.  There was flour everywhere.  I had to scrape flour off of all of the dirty dishes, off of the counter, off of the floor, and off of myself.

Fortunately my friend finished making the pancakes for me and they ended up being delicious.

Cooking is not a pretty puddle for me.  I make a splash, but it always turns into a big mess rather than a beautiful cascade of water.

I think its good that I figure this out about myself.  I can either learn how to have sense in a kitchen, or avoid them like the plague.

There are always puddles that are too big to jump into.  You aren't ready for every puddle.

Cooking is my big puddle.  It just isn't a good idea for me to go jumping in expecting fun and beauty.

Cooking gets my socks wet.  I just need to make sure I have a dry pair, or a pretty powerful hair dryer to deal with the aftermath.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jumping Buddies

Have you ever had a friend that just knows you?

These friends are very rare.  I think in your entire life you may have maybe three or four if you're lucky.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have two of these people in my life.  They know me inside and out.  They know when I need to be left alone and when I need someone to talk to.  They know what I am thinking without me even having to open my mouth.

I just visited one of these friends.  My Thanksgiving Break started before his did, so I drove to visit him, and some other great friends, at his school.

Now I hadn't seen him since August and we had a great time being reunited.  But there was no catching up that you normally have with friends you haven't seen in a while.

It was as if nothing had ever changed.  We were just hanging out together, talking about things that only the other would understand, and having so much fun.

These special friends, these best friends, allow you to not even think... and truly be yourself.  And you do the same for them.

The entire weekend I was jumping from puddle to puddle with this friend.  I was not even thinking about the puddle, the jump, or the splash.  I was simply living and loving every second of it.

I also think that the splashes I made were better because I was jumping with them.  And think about it... if you have two people jumping into the same puddle at the same time... you are going to see a bigger and a more beautiful splash.

I am so thankful for these best friends that I have in my life...  they are my jumping buddies.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time for a Break


There are tests to pass, papers to write, meetings to go to, rehearsals, performances, study dates, actual dates, new workouts, new classes, new plans...  And the list goes on.

I feel like all I've been doing for the past three months is jumping from puddle to puddle... trying to make as many splashes as possible.

While this is fun and exciting, and what college is all about, it can get tiring.

Then two glorious words enter my life: Thanksgiving Break.

This is a week devoted to eating and relaxing.  I get to see my family, my grandparents, my cat, and my friends that I grew up with.

Thanksgiving Break always comes at the perfect time every year.  It comes right after "I feel like I'm loosing my mind" and right before "Oh gosh! I feel like Jack from The Shining."

I'm excited for warm smells of pumpkin pie, delicious turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and the feeling of being on a break.

I think the thing that excites me the most is getting to feel like a kid again.

My mother, the perfect woman that she is, will do my laundry, cook for me, clean up after me, listen to my problems, make me smile, and allow me to feel the calmest I've felt in a long time.  She will dry my socks and put my wet feet in front of a crackling fire to warm them up after jumping in too many puddles.

Moms have that effect.  Thanksgiving Break has that effect.  Turkey has that effect.  Thank goodness it's finally here!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Unknown Puddle

Open water.  The night sky.  The bottom of a dark well.  Tomorrow.

All of those have something in common.  You don't know what's there.

This makes each of these things intriguing, exciting, intimidating, and kind of scary.

What about the puddles you know nothing about?  You don't know how deep it is.  You don't know what kind of splash you will make.   You don't know if it will be fun or just a big muddy mess.

That's kind of how college life is like.  You have no idea what tomorrow is going to be like.  Let alone tomorrow, you have no idea what your life will be like.  It can be so exciting.  It can also be terrifying.

I have a friend who is about to take the GRE's.  This singular test pretty much determines if she will get into graduate school.  She has tomorrow waiting with a lot of outcomes... a lot of different splashes that could happen.

How do you prepare for such an unknown splash?  Do you wear extra socks?  Do you practice running up to the puddle?  Or do you just go for it with all that you have?

I think it's a combination of all three.

Wear extra socks.  In case the splash is too great, you have some security.  Have backup plans.

Practice running up to the puddle.  Don't encounter any surprises.  Be as prepared as you can be.

Go for it with all that you got.  Don't hold anything back.  Take a giant leap and make a splash.

While you don't know how a splash may turn out, and while it might not be the splash you were expecting... you never know what your splash may do.  How exciting is that?

So for every person fearing tomorrow, the couple of years after college, the rest of your life, or even the GREs, go for it!  Jump as big as you can... knowing that you have prepared as much as you possibly could.

And know that even if you fall on your ass, get your feet soaked, or miss the puddle altogether, you still have people all around you to pick up, dry you off, and get you ready for your next splash.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It Smells Like Snow

Every fall - when it gets cold - there comes a night when you smell snow.

There is a crisp feeling in the air.  Your nose wrinkles with the first bits of freezing air crawling into them.  You pull your jacket around you tight and you start craving hot chocolate.

Then you breathe in a scent: you smell snow.

There is no clear way to describe the smell of snow.  It smells like Christmas, pine trees, warm mittens, cookies, hot cider, and so much more all combined.

 It is a smell of the anticipation of a renewal.  A blanket of white will soon fall allowing you to feel even more snug under your covers.  There's something about snow...

For me it means feeling like a kid again.  The world around you completely changes and allows a kind of ulterior world for you to discover for the first time.

The anticipation of the first snow... of a brand new season... of Christmas morning...   The anticipation helps make the actual destination - the splash - even more impacting.

The first snow of the winter is like a frosty, freezing, and refreshing puddle.  It's not directly in front of you... but when November hits you can see it down the path.

The run to this puddle is so full of anticipation that the splash - the first snow - is the greatest one of all.

So tonight started the sprint to the first snow.  And I'm going to love every step.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Running Start

"How are you doing?"

This is a question that you get asked every day at least once.  Today I found myself responding, "tired." to every single person who asked me.

Throughout my entire day I was just kind of walking through.  I fell asleep in class, looked at the ground when I was walking outside, and avoided really making a splash anywhere.

I was kind of slopping from puddle to puddle.  I was stepping over puddles that I could avoid and dragging my feet through the ones that were impassible: like classes or rehearsals.

There was no great jump into any of my puddles.  If I look at my day as one giant puddle, there was no grand entry that would produce any kind of a splash.  Instead I muddled through creating a lame kind of slosh.

Is there some preparation needed to truly make a jump into a puddle?  Do you need to be prepared to make an impact on your day?

The answer is yes.

I was tired, groggy, and cranky.  I missed out on learning new things in my classes.  I missed out on actually seeing the world around me.

Before I get ready to start my day I need to make sure that I have taken care of myself.  Sleep, which is such a simple and easily attainable thing, is something that I need to give to myself, so that I can enjoy all of my splashes the next day.

If you want to run a marathon you stretch out before.  If you want to sing an aria you warm-up your voice.  If you want to make a splash you leap into the puddle.

The beauty of the outcome relies on your preparation.

If you want to enjoy your day, and live in the moment... then you need to be physically and mentally ready to take a running start.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drying Off My Socks

I think I realized what this blog is for me.  I figured out the role it plays in my life.

Throughout my day I go from puddle to puddle, jumping and splashing.  I also avoid some puddles, hop over others, and completely miss some too.  There are problems and situations that I embrace and face head on and there are others that I shy away from.

This blog is a chance for me to wring out my socks and remember the splash.

Through writing about my experiences I can think deeper about the way I approach the problems and circumstances that are my life.

You can't go throughout life jumping from puddle to puddle without any thought about it.

Eventually you need to dry off your socks and remember the awesome splashes that you made during your day.

That's what this blog is for me... a way for me to dry off my socks and evaluate the situations I face daily.

I think that everyone needs to think about the way they are living their lives from time to time.

Jumping into puddles is exhilarating, but you can't always walk around with wet socks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is It Still Beautiful?

Today I performed in a choir concert.

I love singing; it's probably my favorite thing to do in the entire world.  A choir concert to me is like a giant puddle and the performance is such a gorgeous splash.

A part of me was upset at this concert because my family could not come and watch me perform.  They live farther away from me now that I'm at college, and it's hard to have them miss out on my performances... my splashes.

When you are a little kid and you discover a new trick that you can do (like doing a cartwheel)... you want to show everyone you know.  You want them to experience the same joy and admiration that you feel.

I felt like a little kid.  I wanted the people that I loved most to see my beautiful splash.  I wanted them to experience my music.... to feel that joy and admiration just as I do.

Then I had a thought: "If you splash in a puddle and no one sees it, the splash can still be beautiful."  You can experience it's beauty.

In my performance I saw the beauty of my splash.  What made it even cooler was the fact that my choir (which is about 40 people) made one giant collective splash.  It was big, unique, and we all influenced the final, collective, incredible outcome.

While I am still upset that my family could not be there (and I know they were too... especially my Mom!) I still made a splash!  Standing on that stage, I helped to make something beautiful!

I guess it goes down to the age old question of: "If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

If I jump in a puddle and make a beautiful splash, and no one sees it... is it not beautiful?

Of course the tree made a sound... thats vibrations, science, and a whole lot of technical terms that I do not know!

And of course the splash is still beautiful!  I experienced the thrill of the splash and the thrill of bathing in that cool water... that beautiful music.

I jumped for myself.  I jumped to experience joy in singing.  I lived up on that stage.  The jump was for the thrill for the thrill of the performance.  That makes the splash even more beautiful.

I jumped to relish in the splash.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Splash Zone

Sea World.  Hershey Park.  Community pools.  All of these places have splash zones: a zoned off area where you'll know you'll get wet.

Kids run to them, expecting a thrill of cold water splashed on them. Adults either avoid them like the plague or begrudgingly sit in them (watching their kids) with a poncho on.

What if you didn't know where a splash zone was?  What if you could randomly get splashed as you're going through your day to day?

This happened to me tonight.  

Some friends and I were craving a late night snack, so like any stereotypical group of college kids, we went to Taco Bell.  

After enjoying my delicious soft-shell taco, I was listening to my friend tell a story.  He was really into its delivery and was incorporating hand and eventually entire arm movements.  Without realizing it, he knocked over his cup of ice water, onto my pants.  

I literally experienced the repercussions of someone else's splash.  I was in the splash zone.

This got me thinking, who gets hit by the puddles that I splash in?  While he had no intention of getting me soaked and freezing, I experienced the result of my friend's spontaneity.  Do I unknowingly splash others when I am living in the moment?

This makes me think twice about jumping into puddles.  

In the end, we had a funny story to tell.  We had a good laugh.  And I had a cold walk home.  

I guess we never know how our splashes will affect others.  It could get them wet, uncomfortable, and even angry.  It could also be a well needed splash of humor, a good story, or even a wake up call. 

 I guess it is good to make sure you splash appropriately.  Just as you shouldn't jump in a puddle right next to someone, you shouldn't act spontaneously at another's expense.   Living in the moment, jumping in a puddle, can have negative repercussions.  You have to make sure that you think of how your actions can negatively impact others.  Give them a splash zone.  But if you don't know they are close enough to get wet... it just may be the splash that they need.

Creating a Splash

As soon as I wake up each morning I go through my plan for the day.  I have my schedule planned out before I'm even out of bed.  The route for my day is set.

Halfway through my day I encountered a puddle that I was not expecting.  I had forgotten to pick up my outfit for a performance that I'm in tonight.  This meant that I ate lunch on the go and had to reroute my afternoon.  This puddle was deep, cold, and kind of muddy.  

At first I was really annoyed with this puddle.  I so wanted to walk around it, but it was too big to avoid.  I was begrudgingly making a pitiful splash.  It turned out that my roommate (and friend) also had to pick up his outfit, so we walked together.  

Instead of focusing on the negatives of this walk (like the cold wind or the long walk) I started talking with my roommate.  We started to talk about life after we graduate.  We discussed dreams, aspirations, fears, and thoughts that we both had for ourselves.  

I ended up forgetting that I was even dealing with a puddle.  I enjoyed our conversation so much that I realized I was unknowingly living in the moment.  I was walking through a pretty sweet splash!  

Simply by focusing on good company, camaraderie, and encouraging conversation I was able to turn a murky, miserable puddle into a clear pool that produced a day-brightening splash.

So my route had a puddle in the middle of it, but it turned out to be a needed detour.  I guess that the kind of splash isn't determined by the puddle, but by how you jump into it. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Puddle Dilemma

You just woke up on a chilly November morning to the soft patter of rain at your window.

After a fast shower and downing a cup of coffee you are out the door to meet your day.

Holding your umbrella you encounter the first big puddle.  Here is the first dilemma of your day: around it or through it?

In life we encounter puddles every day of our lives.  Do I talk to the stranger I'm sitting next to on the bus? Should I ask her to be my girlfriend?  Do I give the homeless man my change?  Should I start going to the gym?  What should I do with the rest of my life?  What makes me happy?

Just as you approach a rain puddle you also approach these real-life puddles.  Do you avoid your real-life puddles?  Or do you jump in, risk getting your socks wet and make a giant splash?

As a child meets a rain puddle they instinctively take a giant leap and make a huge splash.  In the same way as a child meets a dilemma they usually jump right in.  Children do not think about getting their socks wet or where they have to be with dry feet.  They live in the moment and enjoy the splash.

Just as a child instinctively relishes in the splash of every puddle they encounter, I also want to have that joy in every day of my life.  How many puddles have I walked around?  How many beautiful splashes have I missed?  Doesn't the joy of living in the present outweigh damp socks?

But this morning, as I got to that puddle I walked around it.  I had class all day and I couldn't go around with wet socks.

Well here I go.  This is an account of my struggles with life's puddles.  The past is behind me and I am officially jumping into a new puddle: blogging.  Let's hope I see a beautiful splash.