Monday, June 20, 2016

Keepin' It Real

Lest you think I'm always happy and optimistic, some nights I'm too sunburnt, sad, bitter, and discouraged to fall asleep. 

There's a balance in life, and even though I like to focus on the positive side, the negative side does exist. 

Now comes the challenge of choosing Hope, in the midst of discouragement. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

One of the Most Wonderful Times of the Year

I made it through my second/final week of swimming lessons, and it was great! Swimming is hard work. Cycling between thoughts of chest down, hips up, small kicks, stretch arms forward, on my side, getting my left arm out of the water (I had the tendency to drag it), hooking the water, and of course breathing at the right time without getting my mouth full of water... It's a lot to coordinate!

But here's the promised good news! Last Thursday, I swam a whole lap (50 meters) without stopping! Then, after resting (and a few unsuccessful attempts), I did it two more times! In addition, I did a successful flip-turn this week, and also dived. =)

I'm kind of sad that my lessons are over (though I might sign up for more lessons later in the summer), but happy about my trip home to Utah this week. I'll be home for six days to attend a family reunion, and spend time with family and friends. It will be great!

June has historically been a happy month for me each year in recent history (except maybe last year), and I'm happy that June this year has lived up to it's predecessors, so far. Though I haven't been at Logan's SummerFest, I've spent nights in the woods surrounded by fireflies. Though I haven't been on the back of a motorcycle, I've paddled 12 miles down a creek, seeing more trees than probably exist in the whole state of Utah, surrounded by friends who didn't even think twice about jumping from their canoes to help us when ours capsized. Twice. Instead of learning to run races, as I did in 2011, I've been learning to swim. And instead of painting apartments, I've been using music to help children and adults reach their goals. Instead of mini-road trips to Idaho, I've taken mini-road trips to Kentucky. All in all, I am quite happy. Even despite days like Father's Day, which happen to be surprisingly lonely when you live alone.

June, and Life, aren't perfect (and neither is my freestyle swimming!), but it doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June Hobby: Swimming

I chose swimming as my June hobby! I signed up for adult group lessons, and I'm now halfway through, having finished the first of two weeks. On the first day, they put me into the smaller, more advanced group, which boosted my ego. 

Until they then introduced the freestyle stroke. Freestyle made my ego free-fall! I've been trying to figure out why it is so hard, and I've got some ideas:

-I do not like having my face down in the water
-I think too hard about which side I'm supposed to breathe on, and when. 
-When I do breathe, I get water in my mouth, and then I panic. 
-I'm doing something new, and it's something with my body, so I get super self-conscious. 
-As I exert myself, I find myself needing even more oxygen, but can't seem to get enough in my short breaths to the side. 

Today I stayed after my lesson and practiced for over an hour. I learned that keeping my eyes open (I have goggles) helps decrease the panic. Everything else is not easy to fix, I just need to keep practicing. 

On the bright side, I am REALLY good at the backstroke (at least in comparison!). 

My happy news: I bought a new swimsuit today. I finally got one that ties behind my neck, which I've wanted for a long time. No more gym shorts and running shirts when I swim! I'm going to learn to be comfortable in my own skin!

I do have to say: swimming is exhausting, and I think I'm starting to lose weight faster as well, which is a nice side effect! =D

I'm liking this more than running. I like being outside, and I like the challenge of learning something new. 

Currently, my record is 25 meters freestyle without having to stop. I hope I can report back next week with either 50 or 100 meters! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sushi Made Me Cool

So, I didn't focus on sushi as consistently in May as I had hoped. However, my goal kind of morphed into all cooking. And then sewing kind of started entering in, too. I started working on one hobby, and several others just kind of started emerging from me! Which was cool.

But I wanted to report specifically on my sushi efforts. In the middle of the month I fed the missionaries in my branch. There are six: four elders and two sisters. Two of the elders were not really into sushi, but the other four missionaries enjoyed the experience. As for me, I was just happy I had pulled off a meal for seven. Me. Cooking for guests. Six of them. Big deal.

Then, yesterday, I had the sister missionaries back again, and my friend Taitum. She brought cream cheese, and I had recently bought a fresh avocado. And this time I seasoned the rice (using instructions from this site: The experience was absolutely amazing. Every bite was heaven. And it was homemade, so I could make as much as I wanted! And to make this heavenly experience even better, the three people there with me kept saying "You're so cool!" and "Ali, you're amazing!" I didn't even know how to deal with it! I'm not used to quite that much or that kind of positive reinforcement. I have felt valued in personal relationships, but it has been a while since I felt valued in a group. Anyway, having this amazing experience in my mouth and then also being surrounded by compliments... It was kinda surreal... =)

So, even though I didn't cook sushi all that frequently in the month of May, I'm still considering it a total success.

June will probably have two hobbies: swimming (my lessons start on the 6th!), and hip hop dancing (my friend Emma wants to learn with me).