27 April 2011

Happy Birthday to me.

So I turned 26 on April 17.  I’d have to say my best two birthdays were the past two.  I think that says something about my life.  As with New Years, having a birthday makes me reflect on the year that has passed. 

Last year through a discussion with my sister Gretchen, I had an epiphany.  We were talking about people our age being married and having families, and she said, “You know what I wouldn’t want kids right now because I’m having too much fun in life, I wouldn’t be able to go biking for the weekend, or just go on a road trip when I wanted.”  I was shocked to realize I wouldn’t say my life was “fun.”  Most weekends consisted of Law and Order SVU marathons and laundry.  So I decided 25 was going to be different!  I mean what was I waiting for, I had nothing holding me back and if I didn’t love my life who would want to be with or around someone who doesn’t?  Men are not supposed to be some magic anecdote to make life suck less.  I should be able to make my own life awesome!  (Cuz I'm every woman, it's all in me...oooooOOOOoooo, oh Whitney Houston,  you were every woman until you became cracked out)  I wanted my life to be different, more exciting, I wanted to take more chances, and at the same time more wise decisions.  So I made a list. 

  1. Learn to swim
  2. Rock climb
  3. Go ziplining
  4. Pay off my credit card
  5. Read the bible
  6. Get in better shape
  7. Run a 5K
The swimming thing didn’t go so well.  I had a couple lessons with my friend Sara, but the whole moving to the desert thing hampered that (not to mention I can only doggie paddle, my bottom half sinks and I have to hold my nose to go under water).  I started going to the gym and fell in love with Zumba due to a really fun and enthusiastic instructor!  (Thanks Michelle!)  I ran a 5K with my family, which I talked about a couple posts ago.  I also made the wise decision that instead of purchasing a plasma tv with my tax refund, I would buy a bike.  I rode around Huntington and made the occasional ride to work, helping me shape up not only the environment but my wallet and tush too! :)

Emboldened by my list, for my 25th birthday I planned a trip for me and some of my friends to go ziplining at the New River Gorge.  Then Sara and her hubby Heath invited all of us to go to a White Water weekend party and stay at a cabin.  (I love me some hippies!) 

Then I rock climbed for the first time on real rock!  (I had only ever climbed at the wall at the gym before).  It was such a fun weekend!  I’m so grateful for Sara, Heath, Nick and Brian for encouraging me/making me climb.
Gretchen and I looking like major dorks on our bikes
Our zipline tour!

Wahoo!  Chilling on the side of a rock
Running the Pat Tillman 4.2 miler 


I was feeling great and really loving life.  Professionally, I was doing great as well!  I had an awesome boss who respected my ideas and fantastic coworkers that made every Taco Bell Friday and day in between super fun!  (Thank you Brad for letting me torture you for our amusement! Beth, Ella, Amanda, Adam, Patty, Sabrina, Rebecca, I miss you guys so much!)  I also attended a conference and felt emboldened by the discussion.   I came back to work ready to implement some new ideas.  I was feeling refreshed and like I had it all together.  I could have NEVER imagined my next birthday would be spent in Afghanistan! 

Well, we all know what comes next and if you don’t you can find my list of reasoning in the post, Skemp’s Grand Adventure. I chose to come work for the USO in Afghanistan.  I don’t think I would have had the confidence to accomplish it, if I hadn’t taken the “bulls by the horn” and improved my life on my own to begin with.  I know you have to sometimes give to yourself in order to be able to give to others.

silly string removal process
So after an awesome 25th birthday, I’m happy to say 26 was amazing as well!  My coworkers and a couple volunteers took me to TGIFridays for dinner.  After someone told the staff it was my birthday (cough Joan, Erin, Duane cough)  they made me stand on a pedestal in the middle of the restaurant and I was told by 5 Pakistani men to “DANCE LIKE SHAKIRA!” with a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne in my hand while they chanted a Happy Birthday song.  The packed restaurant of military personnel stared on.  It was hilarious!  Sarah York’s mom sent me a homemade cake that was delectable!  My sister Angela sent me a Birthday crown to wear.  My parents sent two packages ahead of time (I had to ravenously rip open one of them the day I got it, but the other I waited until my actual birthday).  Then on my actual birthday I walked into work and my boss silly stringed me!  He also bought me an ice cream cake that was delicious!  My coworker Cindy started some soldiers into singing Happy Birthday in the middle of the center at night.  I looked around and just felt really happy. 

Then my eye started to hurt.   It was like someone taking a dull knife and trying to dig out my eyeball while every light that hit my eye felt like an ice pick right to the ol' cornea.  After contemplating that I had no accessories that could possibly go with a pirate patch, my Major friend insisted upon taking me to the hospital here on base and  I found out I had 3 corneal abrasions in my left eye, and some neovascularization which could eventually lead to blindness.  Woot, happy birthday to me, the day I turn 26 I start falling apart.  It’s alright though, my eye is much better now and it was all my fault to begin with.  Apparently when the Army suggests for you not to wear your contacts out here, they weren't being arbitrary, they had a point.

So 26 has a lot to live up to if it wants to be as awesome as 25, but I’m pretty sure it’s up to the challenge!

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