Have you ever realized how easily it is to slip into bad habits without ever meaning to in the first place? And, once you're there, it seems so hard to get back to what you were doing before? I've been noticing that alot lately-- particularly with my eating and working out habits. Before, I'd grown so accustomed to waking up between 5:30 and 6 every morning, most days without an alarm clock. I'd either go work out or go to work, depending on the day. I'd eat healthy meals and I for the most part felt pretty good about myself. Well, life on the road has got me staying up late, sleeping in, and eating out at restaurants for every meal. Last Friday, I woke up at 6:30 to workout before work, and it got me thinking alot about attitude and how it really does affect what you think, say and do. Here's a little blurb about what I've been up to, which eventually ties into some stuff that's been on my mind lately.
Last Tuesday the 14th, we had an event. It was a good time and there was a good turnout. The client advisors were really personable so it was fun talking to them. There's an episode of Eastbound and Down that was filmed at this center, so it was kinda cool to see the picture of that in one of the offices. [I personally haven't seen it yet, but the guys of course filled us in on what it was and that we were at THE center] Afterwards, we all went downtown to walk around and get dinner. We found a little place that was having live music afterwards, and the two guys were super incredible. The man's voice had that raspy sound to it, and they were just really good.
Wednesday morning Marie and I went and walked around a park I had found. There were a bunch of alligators and so many turtles in there. The turtles were hanging around with the alligators and climbing on their backs, it was crazy how it didn't even bother them! The walk was about 4 miles around, with lots of beautiful trees and streams/ponds/etc. After that, I had Bojangles for the first time [because from what I've heard, they have the best sweet tea.. and it was tasty!] Then, I headed out for the 4 hour drive to Charlotte. Once I got there, Brian and I headed downtown to explore. This was definitely another one of my favorite cities. The Carolinas have taken the lead as my new favorite states. There's so much green and everything is hidden away, it's beautiful. The downtown area was really awesome as well. There's lots of little random spots to sit that have fountains, benches, statutes and the like. We found this really cool bar called Duckworth's that was modern and had countless flatscreen tvs.
Thursday and Friday we had events so we kept busy. Both of them were run by the same center, just in different locations, so they had the same catering both days-- some of the best food thus far, and not to mention the best sweet tea. [[can you tell I'm addicted?]] Not only that, but they had desert and it just so happened to be cake pops that were served on the olympic rings. Pretty tasty. One of the guys has an uncle that lives in Charlotte, so they had us over for dinner on Thursday night. We had some food on the grill and got to swim in their pool and just hang out-- couldn't have asked for a better evening! Any chance to get away from the hotel and spend time chilling in an actual home is something that we've grown to appreciate so much.
Friday my sister got into town, so after work I went to her hotel and we got ready and met up with the rest of the team downtown. We had dinner then explored the area. We went to a bar that was having something similar to dueling pianos, so that was pretty neat.
Saturday we all went to the US National Whitewater Center. We got there at 9 and didn't leave until almost 5:30, so lets just say my body is still recovering today. We did obstacle courses, white water rafted, paddleboarded, ziplined, and rock climbed. Needless to say, it was an intense day full of activity but it was SO much fun. If I lived around this area I'd making trips there all the time. That night we went back to the downtown area and just hung out, listened to some music on the streets and explored.
Yesterday I dropped her off at the airport then went to church. After that, I drove about 3 more hours to Chapel Hill, and that's where I am now! These longer drives give me plenty of time to think (as if I don't already do that anyways). The message at church touched on strengthening what we do have, and how to learn from the things/people/etc. that you lose in life.
Lately I've come to realize that there are people, there are places, there are many different things that go in and out of our lives. We cross paths with people wherever we go. Some may become your acquaintances, some may only be in your life for that moment, and some will be lifelong friends. There are people that you are good friends with now, but in a year or two, you may not talk to them at all anymore. You may be extremely happy in the place that you are now and may think that you'll never leave, but maybe in a year or two you will be in a completely different city and be even more happy there. The thing is, we don't know what God has planned for us. The people we thought would always be there for us, well, they just might not be when times get hard. We might come to realize that someone we just met is more dependable and sincere in their words than someone we've known for years.
What we can't do when life presents us with changes is dwell on what we have lost. A loss may seem like the most difficult thing in the entire world, but I promise you that it isn't. We can't focus on that which we no longer have. We instead must shift our attention to land on what is left. God won't take anything away from you that you need to do that which He created you for. If he's taken something or someone out of your life, then there's a reason for that. Are you so focused on that individual that is gone that you don't notice the person right in front of you that could change your life and outlook?God knows what He is doing, and there's nothing that can prevent Him from fulfilling his plan for you. We might not like it, it might cause some tears and pain, but we can use that as our testimony as an example of the love and grace that God has shown through that valley.
Whether its a person, place, or thing that you've lost, you have to let go of it. If someone has hurt you, you can't hold on to that forever. You'll be much happier if you choose to instead, forgive. Sometimes when something is no longer, we get stuck in the loss. So even though it's over, it really isn't over. Continuing to dwell on what was will cause you to be stuck in the past. With such a short time on this earth, getting stuck in the past is something that we shouldn't put ourselves through. We have to instead realize the beauty and opportunity that we have with what we do have left.
So my loss of motivation to eat healthy and wake up early to take full advantage of the days lately has gone downhill. I can't focus on that though. Instead, my outlook has shifted to focus on what I can change and work with what I have. I have to eat out each day, but that doesn't mean that I have to choose something unhealthy to eat. I've started keeping track of what I eat, and am trying to drink more water to stay hydrated and alert. I don't usually have to leave for work until 9ish, so instead of looking at waking up early as a loss of sleep, I can go to bed earlier and focus on how I am blessed with a functioning body that is able to run and exercise.
Being on the road and far away from family and friends has been tough. It's the longest period of time in which I haven't been an easy drive away from those that mean the most to me. I can't just drive down the street and spend the evening watching movies and eating ice cream and going on bike rides with my friends. I can't lay on my own couch and eat my mom's home cooked meals. I can't be face-to-face with those who know me the best, that I know I can tell anything to and they'll be real with me. I don't have that circle of friends that I meet with every week to have Bible study with, that continually encourage me to grow in my faith. Distance has taught me that miles don't matter. I've been miles away from everyone for almost three months, but still, there are texts, phone calls, Skype nights, and messages that encourage me through it all. I have learned alot about myself through this tour, and it's definitely helped me grow. I've met people who have challenged me and I've met people that knew more about me within the first few hours of knowing them than some people I've known for years. I've had good days and I've had days where I miss being in a familiar setting. I've laughed and I've cried, I've laughed until I cried. I've seen parts of the country that I never thought I'd see, and I've fallen in love with different parts of different cities.
I've tried not to focus on the separation, but instead on the experience of where I'm at. Time flies, and I know that before I know it, my time on the east coast will be over. The loss of familiarity is hard, but I land on what is in front of me. The new places, the new experiences, the new people, the new everything, and keep an open heart through it all. If we live in the past, if we live in a mindset of comfort, we don't take full advantage of that which is right in front of us. When I look back at my life, I don't want to see my story as a life that was lived in the past. I want to look at it and see that I lived my life to the fullest, that I took advantage of every opportunity in front of me, that I loved those who didn't want to be loved, that I truly listened to those around me and poured my love into them, that I lived without regret. This life is given to us for an unknown amount of time, so what will you focus on today? The past? The loss? Or will you let your guard down and open your heart to the beautiful life that is in front of you?
Things I've come to realize being on the road for two months:
We're at the point in our tour when we have to move.. alot. I believe the max amount of time we'll be in a hotel is two, maybe three nights. So when I decided to take advantage of the bring along two suitcases, and two carry-on items, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. And to add to it, we did also get a backpack for work.. So that's a whole lot of stuff to be carrying along. It'll make the one nighters a whole lot of fun coming up! I'm two months in, with about a month and a half to go! Wooo! I've fallen in love multiple times with so many different places in the south. Everyone is so friendly, the food is absolutely amazing, and sweet tea just tastes like the best thing ever. We've been doing alot more traveling lately so I've been neglecting my computer (not to mention I broke my charger, woops!).. Here's a little summary of where I've been and what I've been up to lately. Enjoy!
June 22- exploring Jacksonville, FL. We tried to walk around the downtown area, but I definitely wasn't a fan. There weren't really any shops or anything to do, so we ended up driving around.. Forever. And found about nothing. We eventually made our way to the beach and walked on that for awhile. There was some dog get-together on the beach and my heart about burst from how adorable it was. There were so many playing catch and running around with each other.. I just wanted to pet all of them and sneak them on tour with us. We wandered around and found a random bar that was having a huge viewing party for the US women's world soccer cup game, so we hung out there and watched it. It's so much fun when everyone's super into and cheering when we scored.
June 24- trip to St. Augustine, FL. We saw the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the US and visited the Castillo de San Marcos. The entire city was so historic and beautiful. The buildings were all so old and the signs around the city described what had been going on in the area in the past. Really cool!
June 25- Event day! We had a high jumper for our Olympic athlete. The center had gotten a high jump pole from the high school in the area, so we had that outside for cars to drive under as they entered the event. It was pretty sweet. The event went well until we were nearly blown away. A storm came up really quick and we were trying to tear down our tents before it all started.. A huge gust of wind came as we were taking down the tents and papers flew everywhere, and our tour manager thought I might be about to be blown away. Such power behind those Florida storms!
June 26- Travel day to Charleston, SC. We're officially out of Florida! I loved being there, but I was definitely ready for a change. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful area to be for the first stop. Charleston is definitely one of my top two places so far. The river walk, downtown area, buildings, food, everything was incredible. I spent most of this day walking around down by the river, exploring, and enjoying an iced coffee from a local shop. President Obama was in town that day for the funerals, so the town was a bit crazy- closed roads and lots of police.
June 27- The center in Charleston was under construction, so our event was held at a parking garage. You might think that wouldn't work, but it was actually very successful! It was at an outdoor mall, so we got alot of walk-ups. It was also nice to have a change of scenery.
June 28- another tourist day. Spent the day walking around the downtown area some more. Visited a local coffee shop to sit out the intense rain storm then walked around the outlet mall by our hotel. Spent some time working out and doing laundry, the necessities. Also skyped with my nieces, so that made my night!
June 29- travel day to Savannah, GA. I got there about lunch time, so I went to a little cafe for lunch, then walked around the downtown. I found a chiropractor because my back had enough of not getting cracked, so that was helpful. Then after driving around forever, I finally found some parking to walk around a little more. One of the guys had explored and knew all the places to go so he took me to a shop that had free honey tastings, another with a cookie bar with 16 flavors of cookies, and another with tea tastings. Yes, all of the good stuff. Then we just walked along the river for awhile. After that I went back to the hotel for awhile and took it easy. I ventured out to Chipotle for dinner followed by watching the sunset with a dairy queen blizzard on the outdoor patio there.
June 30- Lunch at the Wilkes house. Most amazing meal of my life. It was like an Easter, Thanksgiving, AND Christmas meal combined. We waited in line for about 45 minutes to get inside a historic home where you sit at a table that has all of the dishes on the table. There was everything from macoroni and cheese to squash and coleslaw, fried chicken and amazing sweet tea. I ate until I was full and then ate for about ten minutes after that. I stood up afterwards and couldn't move, but we powered through and ate our moneys worth. It was all so yummy that I couldn't stop anyways. We went back to the hotel after that and me and Marie fell asleep for two hours. TWO HOURS! I was so tired from that meal that I stayed in bed most of the day after that.
July 1- Event at Savannah BMW
July 2- Travel to Bluffton, SC and event day at Hilton Head BMW, followed by dinner at a restaurant that was conveniently placed in our hotel parking lot, followed by a skype night with the family all in St. Louis.
July 3- Marie and I explored Hilton Head, layed out at the beach for awhile, then our team went to a local restaurant for dinner. It's one of the best on the island and there's always a two hour wait to get in. Luckily, one of the client advisors of the dealership had connections there, so he got us a picnic table right by the water for dinner, so we got right in. We all ordered the Low Country Boil for dinner- it's been featured on the food network, so let's just say that was also one of the best meals I've ever had. Oysters, crab legs, corn on the cob.. Everything was delish! The sunset over the river-- beautiful as always! Then the guys had bought some fireworks so we drove around til we found a spot in the middle of nowhere and they did a fireworks show. It was all good until one of them tipped over and we were all running to take cover when they started shooting off towards us. Super terrifying at the time as I darted behind the tree, but luckily noone got hurt and we can look back and laugh at it.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!! We spent a majority of the day at the beach. Heard some live music at the tiki hut at the beach, and went to dinner at the restaurant by our hotel again. (obviously we got lucky with tasty food right near us) and not to mention the good fireworks were also right behind our hotel, so after eating we got ice cream at the attached homemade ice cream shop, and watched the fireworks.
July 5- a rainy day so I spent alot of time laying around.. Marie and I finally left the hotel in the afternoon and went back to the restaurant we'd gone to on the 3rd. There was a two hour wait for two people, but luckily a couple was leaving the bar right as we got there so we got to sit right down. The women's soccer game was on, there was live music, and I got to eat some seafood pasta and watch another sunset there-- couldn't ask for anything better!
July 6- I went to watch the sunrise at the island.. Though it was cloudy, it was still super peaceful to walk along the beach. I love early mornings, so it was a good start to just relax and enjoy the scenery. Marie and I went to Pickney Island to walk around the wildlife refuge trail, then we went kayaking in the marsh. It was so peaceful and cool to see. Then we cleaned up and went downtown Bluffton. It's the historic area near our hotel, and it was a quaint little town. We ate at a cool little place outdoors that had live music. One of my favorite things about the south.. The live music, everywhere, everynight! The town kind of reminded me of home because we just walked around the streets in the middle of the streets and it was so quiet. Nice to just enjoy the serenity of the area and the history of the town!
July 7- I took the bike out on the island and rode on the trails for about two and a half hours. There's so many bike trails there and they're all so cool. The houses there are incredible and I just love biking, so it was a good morning. After that was a 5 hour drive to Fayetville, so I cranked up the radio and drove, drove, drove. Bri and I went to Mexican that night and drove around the area.
July 8- roadtrip to Raleigh. We walked around the downtown area, found a farmers market, and went to North Carolina State University. I've been in love with Scotty McCreery for about forever now, so Brian was ready to throw me out of the car by the end of the day because I kept saying Oh, maybe he'll be here (since we were at the college he goes to). Unfortunately I never did see him, but someday I will and we'll get married and live happily ever after! ;) We walked around the campus and student center, which was pretty awesome. Then we drove to Duke and walked around there. The basketball hall of fame was sweet, and the campus was also pretty. I always wonder what it'd be like to have went to a big school like those. There's so much to do there and there's so many people, but at the end of the day, I still love my school!
July 9- Hey, I actually worked today! We had an event in Fayetville, then drove to Raleigh. I had to make a pit stop at Scotty's hometown to visit where he went to high school like we did a few years back with my sister. Then I ate at some BBQ place and went to our hotel.
July 10- Work day 2 at Raleigh and travel about 2 hours to Greensboro, NC.
July 11- Event at Greensboro.. Since it was our weekend and we just so happened to have a grill at our hotel, we HAD to cookout. We went to the grocery store after our event, and you'd think we'd never been before. I mean, it had been TWO MONTHS since I went actual grocery shopping, so I was pumped. I never thought I'd miss grocery shopping so much. I definitely have a new appreciation for it! So we grilled brats, kabobs, and corn on the cob. I made some snicker salad and everything just tasted way too yummy. Going home at the end of this and being able to have real food everyday will be one of the best things ever.. My stomach doesn't even know what to think anymore after eating out every meal of every day.
July 12- Today I woke up and drove about 3 and a half hours to Wilmington, NC. I spent the day walking around the riverwalk and driving aimlessly checking out the beaches and cute houses. I went to the grocery store again (because this hotel is super nice and also has a kitchen in it). So, of all things, I buy a frozen meal and some frozen veggies. Ohhhh the good stuff.
I don't really ever know what day it is anymore. We work on the weekends and enjoy days off during the week. I go by off days, work days, and travel days. We're about to get super busy, and time will fly even quicker than it already has.
It's been a blast and I'm loving being able to see so much of the country. I love the sunsets over the water, but I do miss the sunsets over the pool and barns and the timber. It's been tough missing everyone and everything back home, but I'm so thankful for Skype and being able to see my family and friends through that. It's been a journey, that's for sure!
I'm going to try to write more often so this isn't twenty paragraphs long, so we'll see how that goes. I might even veer off from the travel blog and do something crazy like write a post about whatever random things are in my head (which is probably alot, since I do have lots of time to think while driving). Keep your eyes peeled for that!
Until next time, loves- Keep it reel.
(get it, like a fishing reel because I like to fish?) ;)