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?