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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cooking Up a Great Friend

A lot of times we don't realize how special people are to us until we go without them for a while.  I don't really do a great job of keeping in touch with my friends while I'm away at college but sometimes it makes it even better when I finally see them. When I went home for Easter last weekend I got to see 2 of my best friends from Dalton, Casey and Audrey.  We did our usual thing of Chatt and walking around and watching a movie but even though we didn't really do anything special it was one of the best nights that I had had in a long time.  I don't know if it's because I'm spending time with 2 people that really get me or if it's just that we've known each other for a while but everything just seems to work when we're together.  And it's not just them that are like that either.

Every time that Nate and Courtney come home, and yes they almost always come home together, I have SO much fun.  Of course with Nate it's more of superhero adventure fun but still, it's almost like I'm getting back something that I had lost.  Because really close friends are different than casual friends, or even good friends.  Not having your best friend around is like cooking without a stove, you can still do it, but nothing is quite as good.  Just like a stove, there are so many more possibilities with your best friends.  Then your second best friend is like the oven, without them, you're down to just using the microwave.  Eventually you get used to it.  You eat Easy Mac and Raman noodles and Hot Pockets, but the second you have access to the stove and oven again, you've all of the sudden got real macaroni and stir fry and cakes and casseroles and you realize just how much you've missed have them.

Even if you're just cooking a pizza, it still makes you wish you had that oven all of the time.  Because, honestly, we only make the big meal once or twice a year.  And of course that's when we need our friends the most, but what makes them really special is all the other times.  It's the times where you just go to the movies, or you just go to the park and talk, or you just walk around downtown, or you just go golfing.  They aren't the most special times but they are what make the friendship.  They add all of the character to your recipes.  They're what build you up to making Christmas dinner (or talking about your problems that you think are crazy).  It's not that I don't love my microwave friends, I can't get enough Hot Pockets, but the stove friends are the ones that keep me going.

If it wasn't for Nate, right now I'd be in bed and getting ready for some 8am class and on the way to being some up tight stiff that I couldn't stand being.  He's taught me how to be a kid and be OK with it, and even be successful with it. If that wasn't enough, he's been my best friend since like.....middle school, that's a lot of stuff to put up with from me.  And without Courtney I'd be taking myself way too seriously right now, and not to mention be another $28,000 dollars in the hole (academic common market, Google it).  She keeps me laughing at myself and keeps making me think how I glad I am that Nate is marrying her.  And let's be honest, she's gone from my best friends girlfriend to one of my friends.  Then there's Casey, who I would be totally lost without.  She's the best I've ever seen at not letting all the bad stuff that's happening around her effect her.  She's one of those people that just being around her makes you happy, just because she always sees the light even in the darkest of times.  Finally, there's Audrey.  I've only known her for maybe a year but she's really starting to become a great friend.  What I love about her is that she's almost exactly like me in her morals but she thinks totally opposite.  It's like she see's the world totally different than how I do.  It makes for a great person to talk to about situations you feel trapped in.

Between these four, there are so many times that I feel like I'm missing a part of myself.  But every time that I get to see them I feel complete.  That's what great friends can do for you.  They make you feel like yourself in those times when you feel like you're lost.  I wouldn't trade these four for the world.  They're some of my best friends and they're really all I could ask for in being that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Beauty of Easter

So Easter is always kind of a hectic time for me.  My sister's birthday is on the 25th of April and sometimes Easter falls near the Masters and school is usually getting to crunch time.  So I rarely get the week of Easter to JUST celebrate Easter.  But today we went to early church and I've got a few minutes to just sit and think about how really amazing it is.  You know how it is, when you're younger the only things you really take away from Easter are eggs and rabbits.  But even as you get into middle school and high school it still doesn't reveal it's true meaning you most people.  Granted some people are very deep thinkers but to me, at that time, all that I knew Easter as was a story.  And even though it is a great story, it's much more than that.

Now for those of you who don't know what Easter is about, I'll try to give the Cliffs Notes version of the story.  Basically this Jesus guy claims to be the Son of God and has performed some miracles and people are freaked out by that.  He has 12 apostles who are like his friends/followers and one of them, Judas, betrays Him and gives Him up to the Pharisees.  They don't really jive with Him claiming to be the Son of God and end up beating Him until he is unrecognizable and then they give him a cross. He is made to carry it through the streets of Jerusalem and to carry it to Golgotha, which is a sort of mountain or hill.  He is then nailed to the cross and left to die.  This is what Good Friday commemorates.  God sent Jesus to die for our sins.

The crazy thing about this story is that Jesus knew all along how much suffering He would have to go through. He wasn't exactly stoked about it either.  But God had told Him that it would save us from our sins. So this is sort of where the story gets interesting.  They bury Jesus in a tomb and roll this enormous stone in front of it to keep people out.  Then on Sunday, Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene found that the stone had been rolled away and an angel told them that Jesus wasn't there but He had risen from the grave.  This is where Easter comes from.  It's like the celebration that God not only sent His son to Earth to live with us but that He died for our sins AND was risen from the grave to go live in Heaven.  How freeing is that? It's God saying that He knows we're going to mess up and that's OK.

It's forgiveness day.  He sent His son to die for us just for our forgiveness! I can't even imagine giving up my dog and letting her suffer, but He gave up His own son!  It's tough for me to wrap my head around really.  Everything from knowing from that He was going to do it to actually letting His son get beaten and basically tortured.  I just can't imagine it.  But that's what it's all about, He freed us. Because He gave up His son, we can live free lives and be forgiven from our sins.  So always remember that Easter isn't just a story.  It's a symbol of the forgiveness the He gave us, and that is something that no one can take away.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

When Wheels are Turned

For a long time I have always thought about this theory of the turning color wheel.  Not many people know about it and I'm not even sure if there is a name for it but I'll do my best to explain it.  On the right is a standard version of the color wheel.  It goes in an order that can explain which colors match best and complement each other.  Everyone, aside from people that are color blind, can recognize the primary colors as red, yellow, and blue.  This is where I'm about to blow your mind. So be warned.  What if everyone's color wheels are different?  What if through someone else's eye's all the colors looked different than they do to you?  I'm not talking about being color blind, I'm talking about being color turned.  What I mean by that is that someone else's color wheel may be turned a half rotation so that the colors are in a different order.

This is where you may be saying, well then they would say the sky is green.  But that isn't true.  Since we have all been taught since we were born that whatever color we see the sky is must be blue, we could all in fact be seeing different colors.  So John Doe may see the sky the way I see green.  But to him this would be normal.  The second argument is that everyone knows what colors match.  Even though that isn't entirely true (I know from experience) there is still an answer.  Because the color wheel has just been turned, the colors would still match, just in a different way than other people see it.  Below is an example of how it would work.

Now I'm not trying to win the Nobel Prize here for some half baked theory that no one really understands very well.  Rather what I am trying to do is provide a better example than walking in someone else's shoes.  If you really think this deeply about it, you have no clue how everyone else see's the world, well, because you've only seen it through you eyes.  Perspective is a powerful thing.  It can play tricks on you, but you can also fall into the trap of thinking that the way you see things is just how everyone else sees them too.  It's difficult to have the presence of mind to stop and think if we're doing this.  But the people that can sense how other people perceive the world are some of the most successful people in the world.

So next time you get mad at someone, or someone hurts your feelings, or things aren't going your way just take the time to think how everyone else sees it.  Look at the situation through your bosses eyes, or your girlfriends, or your parents, or the homeless man's, or the African kids, and just try to think of how different things are for them.  They say you never know a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes, but to me, you'll never know a person until you've seen a day through their eyes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


So out of nowhere yesterday I decided that I wanted to spend $8.  I figured that food wouldn't last me, clothes stop fitting pretty quickly, and gas is overrated.  That only left one thing. Go to the movies!  So I look up some showtimes and I see that this Hanna movie is playing and it looked somewhat interesting.  But I was soon to find out that "somewhat" was a bad word choice.

From the very beginning it was pretty much non stop action.  She kills this elk with an arrow and then her dad attacks her.  I mean, honestly, the opening couldn't have been much cooler.  Even though I felt like this was pretty much a textbook example of an action movie, what made it great is the fact that it still had some symbolism to it.

I don't want to give anything away but it touched on being different and innocence a little bit.  There was sort of underlying point that if you teach someone their whole life that Coke is a healthy drink then they will treat it as such until they somehow find out differently.  We tend to say that people are only products of their environment and that is very true.  People will normally grow up to be just like the people they were raised by, but there are exceptions.  That's where nature vs. nurture comes in.  Some people just want to do right or do wrong.  You could put them in almost any environment you want and it would almost never change.  To me, the real argument is that both are right.

It seems fair to say that every parent should want the best for their children.  I do know that is a naive statement to make seeing as we have things like abortion and adoption, but those things can be seen as parents knowing that they don't have the ability to give their children a good life.  But that argument aside, my point is that no one ever means to cut their child's chances in life.  It just happens.  Some people drink too much, some people have anger issues, some people just aren't around enough, and some people smother their kids.  It's just not human nature to be perfect.

However, we do expect our kids to be perfect.  We expect them to have all A's and go to Harvard and be lawyers and get married to someone that is perfectly adequate for that type and then have 2 kids and live in a black shutter house with a tire swing.  It's either that or let go and hope for the best.  What I don't understand is why the middle ground is used so much less.  Why not just hold on loosely but don't let go? It may be just and average .38 Special song but it makes sense.  It's just hard to see people make the same mistakes that we've made.  But sometimes it's honestly better to figure stuff out on your own.  That's the only way it really sticks, the life lessons aren't ever anything that someone just tells us.  We just have to figure them out on our own, and when we can't, that's what other people are here for.  Just teach me to learn, and I'll become the most successful man alive.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Beauties of May

With May being just around the corner I'm starting to get pretty excited!  May is a big month for me.  It holds a few big events that I can barely wait for.  First and foremost, schools out in May.  Not that I don't love being in Knoxville with all my friends, it's just that I honestly hate being in class 5 days out of the week.  I would probably rather eat nails than keep this up another 4 years.  But aside from that, May 15th is my birthday! My Amazon wishlist is linked to my Blogger page for everyone that wants to send me stuff haha.  In all seriousness I am super stoked about it because I'm finally getting a Kindle and will be an official nerd!  About 3 years ago I would have never admitted to it, but now it seems really cool.  But I really do love May because it sort of symbolizes summer for me.  It actually is hot every day and I can sit by the pool shamelessly.  I finally get the time to just relax and take a break from everything.

But the thing I am most excited for in May is the big screen.  Three amazing looking movies are coming out that I really can't wait for.  May the 6th is the opening of Thor!!!  For those of you who aren't massive nerds, Thor is a superhero that ends up teaming up with Iron Man, Captain America, and for the movies sake possibly Hawkeye to make the team called The Avengers.  The cool thing about Thor is that he's a god on another planet, so he has to come to Earth and just be a super hero.  But anyways, that's just the kickoff.  By the 20th we'll have the fourth Pirates movie coming and despite being disappointed about losing Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom I'm still overall excited.  I mean, it IS Johnny Depp. So how bad could it really be?  And then to top it all off, as bad as it really is, The Hangover II ends out May.  Sure the humor may be racy, but it somehow never fails to make me laugh.  So in contrast with March, May seems to be one of my favorite months because of all the blessings it brings!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One Chapter

Being in college you learn a good deal about things that really have nothing to do with your major, minor, or even school.  The thing that I'm learning the most about is people.  I've started to realize how good of a saying "don't judge a book by its cover" really is.  I was talking to one of my best friends the other day and she was talking about how her friends at school don't know her like I do and like her friends from back home do.  It made me think that what the people that meet us throughout life see is just a glimpse of our stories.  Some people get to read a chapter, some read a paragraph, and some just read a sentence.  But in all actuality no many people at all read or even skim the whole book.

It's only our oldest friends and our closest family members that ever get the chance to read that much.  That's why it's so scary and frustrating to go to new places.  Because as soon as you have some big problem to deal with you don't have anyone to go to about it.  Let's face it, not many people want to hear your whole life story and even if you find the few people that do, it's exhausting to tell it.  It's like trying to give Cliff Notes for your whole life and pick out what was and wasn't important and leave out certain things and exxagerate others.  But the beautiful thing is, that's what God is here for.  He's the only one that has read us cover to cover and knows us through and through.

I make the mistake of trying to internalize my problems or go to someone else about them that doesn't know me.  That isn't always bad but sometimes I forget that God is the best person to go to.  He read my preface, every chapter, and even the boring little side notes that popped up from time to time.  Honestly that's what we all need, someone who just gets us.  We need someone that knows everything there is to know about us and that's what God does for us. He promises to know us even better than we do.  That's the beauty of the relationship, He knows us better than we do. You can't ask for much more than that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Coolest Way To Hang Out

I was going through Stumble Upon today and found this nice new invention called the Nestrest.  It's basically the coolest thing that you'll ever see.  It's just a gigantic wicker basket that is strong enough to hold your weight and hangs from any tree that you want it to.  After finding out that it probably costs close to $5,000 I sadly won't be getting one......yet.  But I am doing some research.  There are some viable alternatives out there. Luckily.  Because let's be honest, once you see something that is as amazing as a hanging room above a river, you've gotta have it.

So after looking through some hammock sites and furniture sites I've come to a few conclusions.  First off, I'm going to need to save $5,000.  Secondly, no one else makes anything nearly as cool as the Nestrest.  And lastly, if you would rather drop $999 on something similar to the Nest, there is a hanging wicker chair that can make that happen for you.  It's made by a company called Fiji and it's basically a wicker egg that is made to hang off of the porch of some modern Japanese retreat style home.  However I'm sure you could just as easily tie it up to a tree and be  dangling above a river if that's what floats your boat, or chair.

It may be possible that no one actually need any kind of hanging furniture in their lives.  But that's too difficult for me to come to terms with right now.  So it looks like I'll be saving up a good bit until I graduate college.  But until then I guess I'll be trying to figure out how that guy got into his nest without getting wet.  That's probably the real challenge anyways.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Comeback

It's that time of year again.  The weather starts warming up, shorts get pulled out, and we all pull out our putters. That's right.  The Masters.  It's one of my top 5 favorite sporting events. Well maybe top 6 but it's up there.  I just watch in amazement as these guys like Mickelson, Cabrera, and of course Tiger Woods show off their incredible skills.  I know what you're thinking, Tiger Woods, bad person blah blah blah.  But he's pretty much a "master" of his trade.  There aren't many sports that test your concentration in the way that golf does.  Out on the golf course all you have is your clubs and your thoughts.  It's almost entirely a mental game. Really anyone can play gold physically, but it takes someone that is extremely focused to be good at it.

That's why I must admit that I am still a Tiger fan.  Because even through all of his very public struggles he can still go out to the Masters and compete.  I can't imagine having every one of my problems being put on TV, Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, and everywhere else.  Thinking before every shot that if I messed it up everyone would be happy because I deserve to mess it up.  Talk about pressure, that's pressure.  But he continues to play through.  That's why he can still be an inspiration to people.  Even though he's messed up, and yeah he's messed up to the extreme, he can still be used to say that no matter what you're going through you can always keep going in life.

I isn't just a golf story but it's more of a life story.  If he can come back and be a big presence in golf, then he's overcome his struggles.  He's lived through his mistakes and even though he can never take them back, he's sending the message that they don't define him.  He's telling people to not be defined by the bad in their life but to rather let their successes shine through.  It's so easy to focus in on the negatives of our lives, especially when everyone around us highlights every single one of them.  In reality, we all make mistakes, and whether they're big or small they're still there.  That's why it's never made sense to me to dwell over them.  All you can do is learn from them and move on.  And sooner or later, you'll be right back on that 18th green with someone putting your green jacket on your back

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Day Without Shoes

Every April for the past 4 years TOMS shoes has hosted a worldwide event called "One Day Without Shoes".  The idea of it is for people to see you not wearing shoes and ask, "Why don't you have shoes?".  Then I get to reply with the whole it's to raise awareness about kids in other countries without shoes and basically give the TOMS sales pitch.  It's actually pretty ingenious because it works.  Not everyone is going to go buy a pair of them but at least a few will, and the ones that don't will tell their friends.  It's just word of mouth.

For those of you who don't know what TOMS is all about, here's a brief synopsis.  First off, they are a shoes company.  Their mission is pretty much to give shoes to every child that doesn't have a pair.  Seeing as that is somewhat of a large endeavor to take on, they have a pretty smart plan.  They make shoes out of canvas and affordable materials and for every pair that I buy, they give a pair to a kid in another country that doesn't have shoes.  Although there are of course some skeptics out there, it is an amazing idea.  They call it "One for One".  I love the concept.  It's a great and smart way to help people.  Not to mention they are becoming a fashion statement.

My friend, who everyone should be following on here, painted these canvas TOMS and they're basically my favorite things ever! People are always staring and asking questions and the great thing about that is that for every person that asks, thats another person that may buy a pair.  I'm not saying that you should just go buy a pair because I said so, not that that wouldn't be cool.  I'm just kind of trying to give another way to help people.  Since that's my life goal and all I figure I may as well get my ideas out in the open.
And in case you were wondering, walking around all day without shoes isn't fun.  Concrete hurts, wind is cold, and rocks are REALLY sharp!  It's just a good reminder that not everyone has it as good as we do.  Whether it be the kid in Ethiopia that doesn't have shoes or the veteran in American that makes it around without legs, someone is always worse off than you are.  I do realize that everyone always says it, but until you walk around a day without shoes, or don't eat for a day, or don't use any electronic devices for a day (which I really want to do) you don't really get it.  I'm not sure that I really get it yet.  But I'm trying.  Just remember to be happy with what you have, but never quit hoping for better.

Before I sign off, I plugged 3 sites pretty hard and feel like they need some recognition.

1. TOMS Shoes-
2. One Day Without Shoes (technically also TOMS, but the pic is from there)-
3. Niana the fantastic artist-

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Word Portrait

Here's my first attempt at a word portrait.  It's no masterpiece but I was happy with it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knoxville Marathon

I ran a 5k today in Knoxville and even though it was my 5th one it was my first one since maybe August and I was really nervous about it.  You see my dad has been running theses races for about a year and a half or so now and he's getting really good.  He's almost 50 years old and he's whittling his time down to about 26 minutes.  My personal record is only 24 minutes so I was worried that he would easily pass me.  I had slightly forgotten that we were doing it until about a week ago so last Sunday was my first attempt to train for a race since the summer.  I didn't really struggle in my training but at the same time I didn't feel like I could just go bust out my personal recored like it was nothing.
So yesterday dad comes up and he gets us a hotel so that we can be as close to the race site as possible.  We hydrate and eat the best ways we know how to be prepared and we get to bed early with about 1,000 alarms being set.  Long story short, dad got kind sick and didn't feel like he ran his best and I finished in 24:30.  Which I was fairly pleased with but after thinking about it, I think I could have done much better.  When I got close to the finish line I started sprinting.  I have 2 goals in running.  I would like to shave my time down to 20 minutes or below and also push myself to my max while running.  Even though I felt tired when I ran today and had the mental block to want to stop, I shouldn't have been able to sprint at the end.

It's sort of funny that I feel like I'm pushing myself throughout a race like that and at the end I realize that I hadn't really pushed like I should have.  It makes me wonder how hard I really could push and still make it through.  Obviously I'm not in tip top shape but I feel like with some work I could get there quickly.  So why do I have that "false glass ceiling"?  How much faster could I have ran?  I don't want to test it out on a race day and just fall out but I am interested in the idea of pushing to my limits without losing any weight and then what I could push to after I lost weight.  So my new goal is to push myself in my training until I feel like I am closer to my max performance.

If anyone has any tips please let me know and next time I post maybe I'll be talking about my sub 20 performance.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be Extraordinary

So after blogging every day for a month straight I am having withdrawals already, basically on April 1st.  I really like writing, but sometimes I don't really know what I want to talk about.  But here goes nothing.

When we're kids our teachers always ask us what we want to be when we grow up.  The typical responses are usually things like athletes, astronauts, fire fighters, or the president.  Then as we get into high school we start realizing that those are all good and well, but they're also either low paying or long shots.  So we do what us humans are great at, we adapt.  We decide that we want to be doctors, lawyers, and businessmen.  But that is more because we are scared into it by our teachers making us think that we need to be millionaires to be successful in life.  Then all of the sudden we get to college and we're studying to be a pencil pusher and we don't even know how we got there.

Why do we do it?  Why are we compelled to become these people that we never actually wanted to become?  I mean, honestly, is there actually anyone on Earth thats sits down when they get home and thinks to themselves, "Man, I'd really just LOVE to be an accountant."?  Is that the thought process there? I love math, and I love looking at other people's money so why not sit around and crunch numbers all day? Maybe I just don't get it.  But what happened to follow your dreams and live life to its fullest?  We like to say that America is very liberal but we sure do keep it pretty conservative when we pick our occupations.  I mean, seriously, if I said that I was going to be an astronaut right now at the age of 20 people would say I'm nuts.  But I think that until Nasa, until it gets shut down at least, is still going to need astronauts.  And with all of these doctors, lawyers, businessmen I'm sure there is demand.  It's not like we said we want to be Frankenstein doctors when we were little, we never dreamt the impossible.  We just wanted the improbable.

Think of every great ending to a sporting event that you've ever seen.  Was that a probable outcome?  Most likely the answer is no.  If it was probable then it wouldn't be amazing.  That's why we dream the improbable, because we don't want some ordinary life that anyone can live, we want extraordinary.  And why shouldn't we?  I know we can't just instantly turn into Superman, or Harry Potter, or grow 2 feet and be in the NBA but we can do a whole lot of other things.  It just takes a little bit of belief and a lot of hard work.  I don't know exactly which one we lose through the years, but I'm hoping to hold onto both.  So one day, I will be sitting at home thinking to myself, wow, this isn't how normal people live.

This is extraordinary.