Monday, December 29, 2008

Neverending holiday season!

I love it here :) In Rome that is. I love it to be surrounded by my families and have a routine and the ability to breath! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my classes, classmates, and clinicals at school (lameness I know) but I have completed by "college years" chapter of my life, or atleast my Milledgeville chapter that is and would very much like to be finished. Well, actually, let me rephrase that, I will thoroughly enjoy my final semester there to its fullest but am very much looking forward to what is to come afterwards. I am stilll waiting to hear from GA State as to whether or not I will be interviewed for their physical therapy program or not AND will have to start looking for job opportunities at the start of this year just in case. This summer and my living situation for the space between Jason and I's wedding is still up in the air but that will all be figured out in good time and God's will. Breath deep. :)
Okay so, I came here to share with you photos from my Christmas celebrations with both of my families :) I received a definite upgrade of camerage from my parents and for that I am eternally grateful and these are the results.

The extremely large moma spider that Jason found in the pool filter (with all of her babies too....yuck) that's as close as I could get without getting severely creeped out.
I had a photo shoot with Maggie's Apple Pie (these were the FIRST PICTURES with my new camera :))
My Love & I
My Close Up
My Future Mom-in-law's adorable close up!
Just a few of my favorites from Daniel's first Christmas in America. What a blessing. :)

My mom, sister, & I - no explanation necessary I hope.
Maggie's New CAMERA!!!!!!
Charlie letting my try out the different features on my camera (this one is for taking pictures of babies so I had him make his best baby/happy face)
My Ring :) :) :)
Sister and Mother-in-law seasoning the fantastic turkey!
Jason & Isabella in a tickle fit.

happy, happy, happy.
the super comfy blankets jason & i gave Annie for her couches :)
a TRIPOD! (just in case a tree branch is not available ;))
my favorite - he is very surprised that I got him the awesome mouse he wanted :)
the monogrammed cologne from me also
haha Maggie is clearly enjoying Charlie's explanation of how he drives and plays a driving game on his iPod touch at the same time!!!
happy warm hands!!
Maggie's AMAZING present for our home next year :)
Jason's dad after he ruined my wedding clock countdown present before I opened it...hehe
It counts down every last second!!!
The Wolfe's playing play-do together :)
Isabella and Uncle Charlie enjoying his new speakers
The sisters reviewing photos :)Jason & I making late night truffles.

I know these pictures do not do all the fun we had complete justice but I am so thankful we have them and will always remember our last Christmas before we are married!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

our wedding website

I've been working on this off and on all day long!
This break is fantastic. It has given me time to sleep, relax, work out...oh and did I mention sleep?
I've also been able to look at a place to have the reception. I don't really want to write too much about it until I know for sure if that is where we are going to have it or not. I loved it though, plenty of room and lots of freedom to decorate it however I would like! :)
Very exciting.
Please check out the website if you get the chance.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

quiet my soul. remember.

1. Put Your Itunes on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write that song name down no matter how silly it makes you look

"Woah dear Saviour, gonna take my cares away."
Black River - Amos Lee

"I sang alleluia in the choir,"
Forgiven - Alanis Morissette

"For the rest of my life I will find the answers that were already here."
The End is Here - Alter Bridge

"So reveal to these eyes the true heart of my Father,"
Teach Me How to Pray - Jason Upton

Lift your voice to heaven, lift up your head and sing, to the One who gave his love Here our lives we bring."
Open Skies - David Crowder Band

"Takes you and me to open up once more...Peace like a river, Joy like a fountain."
Trust Once More - Jason Upton

"and when the love spills over & music fills the night, and when you can't contain your Joy inside; Dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus & live."
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) - Chris Rice

"Now in this world of purchase, i'm gonna buy back memories"
Run - Collective Soul

It Must be the Light - Michael Nyman (Gattaca Soundtract)

"To the rescue, here I am."
Sun is Shining - Bob Marley

"Without when within you, my sweet Lavinia."
Lavinia - The Veils

A Special Place - Michael C.

"On this day I see clearly everything has come to life."
Metalingus - Alter Bridge
haha doubtful, but this WILL be my war cry for the day. :)

"So baby, oh if Heaven calls, i'm coming too."
Drugs Don't Work - Ben Harper

"and it's everpresent everywhere."
Warm Love - Van Morrison

"All I wanna do is sit here on my balcony."
On My Balcony - Flunk

"The more I live, the more I know. What's simple is true. I love you."
What's Simple is True - Jewel

Lead Me to the Cross - Hillsong

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


as most of us do i'm sure, I wish that things could just be easy. That everyone would always agree with me & even be excited for what I have (or have not) yet planned. Now thankfully this is not the case because the differing of opinions keeps me thinking, keeps me humble, keeps me on my toes to figure out WHY exactly I might feel the way I do. But still, there are those times when you just wish that those whose opinion mattered the most to you in the world, that they would just see you for who you are without having to explain it.
Explanation is a tiring thing, and hard to do when your staring those who mean the most to you in the face, but that's where Faith comes in. That Something More intervening when you no longer know what to say, do, or be anymore. Just the knowing that He is, makes it all :)

Mountains this weekend, cannot wait for the time away with my future family!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

This love outlasted the jitters and butterflies that accompany newfound romance. It was not dependent on external beauty; it did not rise and fall with the ebb and flow of life.
- Steven Furtick

Sunday, October 19, 2008

this awakening

and there's things that you have seen, that you'll never really know
and these people that we've met, well they'll come and they'll go
and the love you've seen in movies is much less than you could know
within each of us, there's a heart begging to grow
throbbing beats of daily living, itching towards a quickened pace
we're all aching for the giving of more than just what is.

don't be deceived by their superheroes, by the morbid morality of our time
search yourselves, see the light, in each of us--we'll awake tonight.

and there's something to be said for choosing not to speak
for the giving up of what you thought you knew, for what you can become
the trusting of the self they see, when you see nothing left to love
and there's the tumbling of fingers, familiar as the pianist against his keys
when every beat of a heart felt is worthy of reflection--
a time when a cup of coffee and two souls made it all worth living for.

don't be deceived by their superheroes, by the morbid morality of our time
search yourselves, see the light, in each of us--we'll awake tonight.

and it's hard to live when you're not perfect
even harder still to see,
that we choose to hurt, to burn, to greed and want
while with the ignorance of humanity, chastise those who fight to bleed.
the world sure is a sickening place, if you live for it alone
should love strike us homeless, compelled rather to give of all we own
we'll thank God for his grace to see, how little we're alone.

don't be deceived by their superheroes, by the morbid morality of our time
search yourselves, see the light, in each of us--we'll awake tonight.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

T-minus 364 days and counting...

This week has been quite hectic and with that said was somewhat nice to have a day like today. Although I am frustrated by several things in life right now it is always nice to have God give you those moments, phrases, reminders that everything will work out accordingly so long as he is in control. I know I have things to work on in the next year, for example studying more intently his Word and developing a much more fervent prayer life. But I feel with Jason as my companion that I cannot really go wrong. He is my encourager and constant reminder that everything is not WRONG with the world, which tends to be my mind set when I let my shortcomings get the best of me. Today we finished our second marriage book, "Countdown for Couples" and we most definitely enjoyed this one more than the first. At the end of every chapter it gives you discussion questions on the topic, some are rather involved and some are "just for fun". It was a great book that challenged us to talk about several issues we had either not thought about or had seemingly been avoiding. At the end of the last chapter there was a verse I found particularly provoking:
Philippians 4:8
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
Jason always repeats some semblance of this verse to me whenever i get on one of my "doldrums, humbug" kicks. It's beyond explaining how much difference it makes just for someone to know that you are maybe not feeling in the most positive of spirits and to remind you (through God's words nonetheless) that you must stay focused on the which is true, noble, right, lovely and excellent!!! Too often I get caught up in all thats wrong and forget what is right!!!

So earlier this evening I was on front campus working on a project with a friend of mine when I noticed these nicely dressed individuals walking from downtown towards campus. I then noticed one of them was most definitely was wearing a wedding dress!! They meandered up into campus and proceeded to have several of their wedding party photographs taken. It was surreal, exactly one year from now that will be me, at Berry (hopefully a few at Winshape :):):)) getting married to the one who God's given me to spend the rest of my life with.
Just wow. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So apparently...

For all of my life I have been pronouncing cacophony wrong, and not just a little incorrectly either pretty much utterly and completely wrong in every way.

I do not enjoy when this happens, not at all. Why was I not informed of this at an early date? It is hard to change something like that when it sounds so right to you.
Sigh, how unfair the English language is.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Our first "REAL" trip to the Bergens

Jason and I just got back from our first REAL roadtrip to visit Maggie and Charlie at their home in North Carolina!! I am updating this because it was a wonderful weekend with amazing weather and stunning scenery and, although I took many pictures from today, I do not want to forget the wonderful memories that were made. Jason and I left earlyish Saturday morning, after Starbucks and Chik-fil-a (the guilt-ridden essentials), and arrived (after taking the SCENIC route past the Cherokee Casino and through Maggie Valley) at the Bergens a little after 12:30. We were greated with eager, open arms for a day filled with activity!!! Maggie, being the most amazing hostest that she is, presented Jason and I with a wonderful candle that looked just like wood to remind us of our first trip to the mountains!!! We drove to downtown Waynesville to eat at Nick & Nate's and ran smack dab into the middle of a festival! We ate and spent the entire afternoon browsing all the little shops downtown. The boys smoked their cigars while we shopped and drank coffee. :)
We returned to their home to unwind and spent the rest of the evening watching FRIENDS (which made me laugh uncontrollably, forgot how wonderful that show is!!!), eating dinner (and Maggie's fantastic, HOMEMADE apple cobbler), and playing Texas Hold' em! We all settled in to watch a movie and/or get some much needed sleep!!
Today, we woke up and ate breakfast and then headed off to go "church hunting"!!! We ended up at "Vine of the Mountain" a community church just outside where we had spent our time the day before. It was quite an experience, it actually reminded me alot of my church at home in Rome. Having attended 12Stone pretty regularly for the past year now it was nice to hear familiar hymnals being sung with the contemporary twist of a guitarist leading worship. They had plenty of praise and worship and a guest speaker with several good points! All in all a unique and lovely experience! Afterwards we headed back downtown to eat lunch and finally ended up at this little Patio diner place we'd seen the day before on our endevour. After lunch we debated on what to do and ended up visiting a very quant antique shop (something they have a lot of there which i LOVED!!!) and then headed into Maggie Valley (I think...) to visit the shops there. After some browsing we drove around until, I think, Charlie spotted the mini-golf place and we all agreed that was the best idea!!! Apparently some of my golf skills from my lessons as a child stuck around, Charlie and I ended up tying :) much to the dismay of Jason and Maggie ;)
The mini golf range ends up in an arcade area where we used several of our quarters left from poker the night before to test grip strengths and play JACKPOT!! Now, here's where things really got interesting, I'm not sure if any of you have ever played or even know what that game is but growing was always my secret obsession. Sure, you play ski ball and air hockey and free throw but when it really gets down to it...I would spend half of my coins trying to get that roaming light to land square on the JACKPOT! All of us decided to divey up the quarters and play just that. Charlie went first, then Maggie, then Jason and finally...I did.
The first two quarters I got round abouts the Jackpot, 8 and then 10, on the third though..I decided to count how much time it was in between each time it hit the Jackpot and try it that way....needless to say, third times the charm. IT WORKED!!! I stood there stunned. I had just fullfilled my childhood dream and all we could do was just stare. We laughed and cheered as the tickets rolled out of the machine. Seriously though, those things never happen to me. We were such little kids as we gathered up our earning and headed to the counter. We ended up with the water ballon sling shot, 4 sets of vampire teeth (the only thing Jason wanted), 4 tattoos, 4 parachute men, and a slinky for maggie. Afterwards we celebrated with milkshakes from the Dairy Bar and a series of viscious vampire toothed pictures!!
We sadly left a little after six and spent the entire ride home enjoying the view and discussing the rest of our life together!!!!
The Bergens are such an amazing couple to be around and I am so thankful for their LIFE, energy, enthusiasm and family that they are!! Thank you for sharing your city & lives with us!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Figure it Out

I guess in my own unconscious sort of way I have already begun to prepare my body for a wedding that is over a year away. I'm more aware of what I eat, I've been riding my bike to and from and all around campus every day, and attempting to take some sort of care of my hair and skin. I say all this to say that once you know that one of the most important days of your life is just around the corner (sort of) you cannot help but be aware of EVERYTHING. I think and think and think and imagine everything from the attendants to the guest to the DRESS to the flowers to how we will get there, where we will take the pictures, what pictures exactly need to be taken, and EVERYTHING in between. 
I wouldn't say I'm stressed, well that would be lying because I've never known myself to think about anything and not feel some sort of angst to have it accomplished, and accomplished JUST RIGHT. My school work isn't really hard right now, per say, it's just that I've bumped back and forth between Rome and Milledgeville for the past 4 years of my life. It's mind boggling to comprehend that in a mere  8 months my time here will be permanently finished, chapter closed (and a very long chapter it's felt like indeed). I cannot say I am sad to leave, nostalgic for friends I once had and experiences I'll remember, Yes. But I know that what's to come is so much more than this, almost like this was just the extended, awkward middle school between my Rome life and my new life soon to begin with Jason.
It's something completely new, this state of my life, and I never know how to adjust to change. I guess you cannot ever really know how to BE until you are there. And so I love, I live, I smile, and I laugh. I read God's word and earnestly yearn to learn, know, and love more. Truly.

Aside from all of these ambiguous thoughts if I could just say one thing it would be that everyone needs to own a bike, wake up extra early, and ride it one morning. Just ride, destination in mind, and notice just how cleansing it is to feel the cool September morning on your legs, your arms, your face.
I most definitely suggest taking your iPod as your own personal soundtrack along for the ride.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

on You

certainly, he said, you know how it's supposed to go
and she'd sigh because in time she never really thought they'd be
seperately spoken phrases of the same thought
they both thought
in the arms, on the line of another
you can clearly see, what once and never was to be
and be
driving, talking, drinking while along the familiarity of home, 75
alone again the way you quietly kind of like it
and this tie that binds truly changes your mind
your heart, hurting to be, grown
up and out of this mind you've gotten yourself into
dear me, can't you see, you know how it's supposed to be
and they sigh because with time it's a hard thing to realize
let go, and months go by with nothing to say
birthdays turn to something like an eclipse
we can no longer look each other in the eye for past mistakes missed
did we miss it?
and God's given us this, him, it for a reason
and we chose not to accept that each is a given plan
taking us to our full potential,
trying in vain to refute, reclaim a self we never real owned
because on my own,
on her own she is nothing more than a kiss, a touch
a trimmer of sinful self between a sheet
but in his, His, eyes I am so much more
and so thank you for
the one who sang to me when i was young, and sings to me still
and thank you for
the one who saw, more in me then even i saw, he saw You
and thank you for
the one who made, me on this earth and held me even when I was fully grown, at my weakest
Thank you
for those who've advantaged, and torn because without it I would surely be less aware of, You.
and how funny it seems that the bits of humanity i lost, leave me all the more aware of your grace
and forgiveness. and if i could write something like this, in every moment of my thought and speak and
day i would.
i would.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Last Year Here!!!!

I have been in Milledgeville now for two weeks and can honestly say I am excited about this coming school year. My clinical assignment this semester is with Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, GA and the athletic trainer there, Jenna, is pretty fantastic. Last week I spent pretty much every day (6:30 AM - 8 PM) in Macon with the football team during their three a day practices. I guess I'd forgotten just how immature high school boys are, however, it is refreshing to see myself around them, to really experience myself becoming the adult in the situation. I am proud of myself for being able to appropriately reprimand  them when they do reach extraordinary heights of rude and crude behavior while at the same time stay cool, calm, and relaxed during a situation which I know in the past would have brought me to my wits end. I am loving the fact that I am now able to assess an entire situation before reacting. Just a little self observation, Go Me. :) So I am fairly certain school will start off without a hitch and I have already been approached (sort of) with job opportunities in Macon upon graduation...a little light at the end of my diploma-obtaining horizon.
Things on the home front are still somewhat rocky (with the parentals) but my mother and I had the beginnings of a conversation today I am hoping will come in to complete fruition tomorrow. I am just praying for the strength to remain respectful in a situation where I would otherwise most definitely lose my cool. I will write more about it once things have been fully resolved. I have found such a deeper faith in myself and my abilities--due in part to my ever increasing faith in God and his gift of Jason and his belief in me! 
Jason truly is my stronghold. He never lets me say negative things about the one he loves (:)) and never fails to remind me at any random moment during the day just what a blessing I am to him. He, however, is truly the one who has blessed and changed my life! 
I should be sleeping right now but I opted instead to look through a wedding magazine I bought a week or so ago and rip out and write down any ideas I had. Thanks to Maggie and her amazing wedding planning material I have begun to put together my own notebook of ideas as well as carry around a little notepad to write all of my random ideas on....Both Maggie and Annie have been THE BIGGEST help and encouragement to me during this extremely important and exciting time for Jason and I. I love them and am so thankful they are my soon to be sisters!!! (Now if I could just tell you WHEN exactly that would occur then I would just be bubbling over with happiness....)
Jason and I have decided that along with planning for the wedding we are going to read a book a month as a tool to help us plan for our MARRIAGE. This commitment, on top pre-marital counseling, the pre-marital retreat, personal experience from our close friends and family, and our own diligent spirits; I am confident we are preparing for this marriage in the most responsible means possible! 
There are times, like now, when it is really hard (and can often feel unfair) to be the eldest child. You are typically the first one to experience or take the leap into something your parents have never experienced: the first to date, the first to get a cell phone, the first to drive, the first to stay out late, the first to go to college, and now the first to get married. I suppose I'd rather it be me then my sister or brother and am thankful that God has created me with such tough skin and a diligent spirit; this is just one of those times when you wish that "first born" mentality wouldn't apply. 
I am hesitantly hopeful for tomorrow and excited for the coming months. This year has been so full of new beginnings, leaps of faith, and even new lives being formed I cannot wait to see what's in store!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Love & I - 7/21

I can easily say that yesterday was something I cannot really explain in a few words. Needless to say I was thoroughly surprised, blessed, and most definitely filled with LOVE! I'm going to post a few pictures for those who are close to me to look at on here but otherwise I would just much rather show and tell you the whole story in person!!!!
I love you all very much and want to thank you for the support you have given us throughout our relationship and the continued support, blessings, and love we receive from you! I especially appreciate the example each of your relationships has been to us, with God at the very center of us we know that everything is possible!

The prayer just before the proposal. "Lauren Taylor Dickson will you marry me?" - I said Yes of course :]

The ring, my families all there and together to celebrate Jason and I, My best friend since birth, Marlena. 

My love so pleased that he thoroughly surprised me.
I am so blessed.

And in that moment I was a girl seeing a woman become

Today, we'll just call it today because I have not yet fallen asleep. Was quite easily the most alive days of my life.
Today, July 21, 2008 my love came to the place where it all began and chose me as his own. Today. Not 4 months from now, not 8, not even a year but today. All of my negativity, all of my despair, all of my faithlessness disappearing as I walked into the cooler and saw that man. I didn't think about anything except that this was it, this was the moment I'd wanted, whether fully or dutifully, it was mine. Exactly how I'd wanted. Wanted. (theme of camp) And wanting is a very odd thing. My God was and is and has been so real. And he told me he'd show me, he'd give me that moment I was waiting for and I never knew until now just what that was. And I didn't cry, I laughed I smile so hard my heart and my face and my body on fire! The entire day filled with idle conversation, hazy thoughts, and everything as it is supposed to be.
Of course it was odd that I was working over at girl's camp after an entire summer of boys, or that Eric and Matt both were guarding me from ever going into the kitchen. But I had no idea. Not a one. And every single person knew. I am worth it. I am. I am not a liar or a cheat. I am in love with a man whom God designed just for me. And no distance or time or evil could ever keep me from my love for him. With God guiding me, with my faith and knowledge growing, possibilities unraveling, God has plans for me. He has plans for us bigger than I could even know at this very moment but he is revealing. He is!!!
Finally Joanna came through for lunch and the applesauce was empty, I told her I'd refill it for her and she'd asked for an orange instead. I breezed past Eric, never noticing he didn't try to stop me, and was so happy to see Marlena had come to eat lunch with us unexpectedly. I went into the cooler, wholeheartedly looking for that orange, and came out with fiery skin and a firm grip on his hand. He whisked me away with such determination I could not even tell you what was really said, "What are you thinking?", "This is surreal." Laughter and smiles and hand squeezes, so very us.
Around the Pod where we first met around to the very middle of Winshape with the green grass and blue skies and 100 degree weather. My sweet Georgia weather. Talking and telling me a sweet sweet love letter, right there in front of Normandy we stopped and faced one another. Silence. "Can we pray?"
A thanks thanks thanksgiving to the Lord and then, "Lauren Taylor Dickson, will you marry me?" "Yes."
box. ring. hand. hug. kiss!!!
He turned me facing out of Winshape to see my family and his at the bottom of the hill. Several Normandy Innkeepers at the top, my kitchen family peeking out around the wall and a crowd of counselors and campers giving us a standing "O"!
Hugs with the family, LOTS OF SMILES and pictures and time to think and breath and feel
Grand Chalet driving around for over an hour talking, Starbucks, Panera more time to breath at my house relaxing and making phone calls. Tears and happiness!
My love, my life.
He's da best.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

see you soon :]

It's the act of living, it's the nagging weight of yourself rushing out of you as your chest makes room for another's embrace.
It's the feeling right before the stars awaken in her little eyes.
The moment right before recognition,
how this little person takes the time to fully comprehend your magical appearance before rejoicing in your return. How the little light traces circles from her iris to her pupils, before she's learned how to hide the mind at work, wheels spinning and then she says your name very soft and quiet at first,
a little whisper filled with wonder. And then the world explodes to life as your name becomes the single resonating sound in the room and 20 pounds of energy with starburst eyes beams herself across the room and into your arms.
How weightless she feels when you hear the pure trust of a child in her laughter, when she chatters away every single one of her secrets as you toss her up and up and up and up and up and up, and turn and turn and turn and turn the doorknob, and jump again and again and again and again. There is no such thing as boredom, idle thoughts strictly prohibited in a world without stop signs or cellphones.

It's fast paced and free and that little girl can only begin to imagine just how her smile has given you yours.  

Runners, until the race is run

And it seems to me I'm living, sometimes, between myself and my mind
Sing out, sing loud and long, sing something's worth living, for
There's the ones you've known and the ones you've only just met
and in the beginning, it's always more exciting, elating, filled than the end.
The weight of the end suffocates you inside, paralyzes, for the very notion of perfection is offensive to reality
an impossible word for those of us, living here.
Searching for the sign, for that moment in time when you feel
Him. To search without hope is hopeless, to live without faith
And even when we know that we know that we know, how do we amount?
When is everything, atleast for a good while, okay?
When do we stop the worry, the questioning, the backstabbing, heart wrenching, heartbreaking, judgment of him and then and she and I and us.
When do we let ourselves go, give it up, and truly live, again, like before we'd been buried.
Like we've erased, excised & removed the moments we were broken,
left alone,
spit out,
raped, or
And when you feel the freedom knocking and can't seem to find the door,
because the inside of yourself is something worth missing
for the prospect of someone else's self to consume,
join you in there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I've been reading this book the past couple of days, nothing of note just an easy read to free my mind of thoughts and pass the time. Anyways in it the topic of narcissism is broached and, upon the pondering of my mind because let's face it that's just what I do about well pretty much anything that intrigues me, I began to think about well, me. My idea of narcissism, idea, understanding, whatever, anyways it was my understanding that narcissism is the complete and all encompassing care of self and only ones self. It is a complexity developed over time by a lack of faith and hope in others and a building up of ones self, usually brought on by one of two things 1) boredom with your current situation or more likely 2) a complete disillusionment with those other than yourself triggered by some sort of bruised or battered ego. It could be a single, earth shattering moment or a gradual biting off of little bits and pieces, much like a pinata, of ones self by others who've been handed a bat much too heavy for them to wield in your candy filled vicinity. Anyway you look at it it's very much like slipping into the shallow end of the pool and attempting to swim and stick to the bottom. You confidently push yourself deeper and deeper, pressing air through your ear canal, kicking legs, digging hands and arms until you successfully reach the bottom only to find you are completely empty. It is that empty fear which catapults, along with your feet pushing your body, you straight up from the depths. No gradual return, no repressurizing, no moments to consider what could've been done better - no time to stop and breath. You just push past it all grabbing any hand that's offered. Losing so much of your conscious self that you accept and take and offer ANYTHING to gasp just another single breath.
So yes maybe, at some time between my high school sinking and my young adult rising I have been unable to find the wading point. I dive in deep and walk safely in the shallow waters. I give what feels right. For me.
I do not write this to say that one or the other was the right thing but to say that I am making that conscious effort to wade between myself and those around me I used to expend my life for.

There is so much more than this but, what with reading the book, I just had to write a little something.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Home Again

It really is hard to believe I am already home again for my third and final summer home from college. Weird. I can tell a distinct difference between this summer at Winshape and last. Of course things were much different between last year and the year before that so that was really no big surprise. I suppose the biggest thing for me is coming back from my trip and feeling a sort of peace about things. Not a complete, all knowing peace but more like a confidence that comes from the feeling that you have actually accomplished something. That what you've been working towards and spending so much of your energies on is becoming something you actually know. The fact that parts of Athletic Training are actually becoming secondhand to me, that's just a wow kind of thing to me.
Anyways, so after my first full week of work Maggie and I spent tonight having girls night. It was a much needed reunion between the two of us and we've FILLED it with food and our own little adventures. After we'd gone to Wal Mart to get food stuffs to cook and movies to watch we headed to Maggie's house where we decided to investigate the blooming blueberry bushes. Most of them were green however we found about 20 plump blue ones! It was a really amazing release to just scan and scan the green blueberry buds until your eye caught the one plump purple one of the bunch. We also discovered a wild berry (blackberry) bush intertwined with the blueberries. There are also grape vines and pear many little snippets of creation all of which I would love to have my own part in. I cannot wait to begin something from a hole in the dirt and a seed and patiently wait and watch it's growth into flourish. 
So after a little search and find Maggie and I wanted to celebrate our findings so we went to Elizabeth's house and gave her some blueberries. She was the first one brave enough to try the wild berries, they were so sour. Elizabeth's children are fantastic. The were hiding for the first little bit but then started to come out and talk to us. 
It's official: Maggie and I are the next food network cooking duo. 
- Guacamole - Quesadillas  - Oatmeal cookies

My eyes are closing too much right now, I must go to bed. 
This summer is going so well thus far and I cannot wait for it to continue on in  a likewise fashion.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

XL Mountains & Ceramicists

This update will span from May 25 to May 28th because a lot has gone on and I do not want to fall far behind. Marta and I just finished studying for our midterm which is tomorrow...I don't even want to start on the fact that we have a midterm, 5 page paper, and a final for this one month "class." Nevertheless we studied, and it reminded me nostalgically of Anthony, April, and I's time in the library. 20% studying, 80% conversating. Tonight Mike (Dr. Ferrara) asked us if we had discovered we were long lost sisters and basically we pretty much have. She and I were talking about graduate school a few days ago and she actually brought up the idea that I should go to UGA for graduate school. I had never really considered it before BUT if I will have to abstain from going to Physical Therapy school because I will still have to take that one class OR if I decide that I would rather get my masters in teaching or health education or the like and work as a teacher/athletic trainer then Athens would be the perfect place for me to do that! They have a highly accredited program and it is only 20-30 minutes away from Gwinnett and I am becoming more and more familiar with the people there as our elapses here. So many options and so much to think about! Who ever thought I might even contemplate becoming a Georgia Bulldog...So anyways, back track to May 25, Sunday, we headed out on a 3 hour train ride to Toroko Gorge where we arrived to a downpour of rain. Well it actually began as a drizzle but by the time we were a fifth of the way down the trail it was pouring down! My "rain jacket" did nothing to protect me and so I was completely drenched from head to toe! It was actually a blessing in disguise because had it been clear blue skies I would have been to busy fighting of bugs and pouring sweat to really soak in everything around me. The rain cooled our skin as we walked along the man made path towards the base of the gorge. There are mountains that seem to climb for miles and miles above your head all around. The kind of mountains that cling to fog clouds all around. I took many many pictures so I will most definitely be sharing those but for now all I can say is that I looked around and just knew that this was God. He was just everywhere. In the rain, in the winding clear blue river, in the weather worn marble stones--the walls twisting and turning mazes. Talk about sensory stimulation overload! It was so simply, extravagantly, incredibly amazing!! 
After our peacefilled trek we headed to dinner where we celebrated Marta's birthday and then went and saw a traditional Aboriginal dance. We were all pulled out there at one point or another to join in the dance, pretty hokey/touristy kind of place but it was still fun. I enjoyed the music and synchronicity of it all, if nothing else. After the dance we went to check into our hotel and had a little free time. We tried, sadly, to find something to do with out free time but finally gave up and went to bed. The hotels here are very....weird. you have to put your card into this little slot before ANYTHING in the entire room will even work. That took a good twenty minutes to figure out, you can imagine me pushing every single button until I just happened to try the card in the slot. Thank god for my imaginative mind ;). 
The next day consisted of...White Water Rafting through Toroko Gorge! It was the most amazing experience I've had here thus far. Three and a half hours of nothing but pushing, pulling, sunshining on my legs and arms, wide open cool waters, a few good rapids, and mountains climbing the sky all around me. It was so heavenly I cannot even describe it adequately, we will just have to go!! Our team raced the last fifteen minutes of the trip to the finish, what an amazing feeling to just pull and pull yourself to the end! I see now why drew loved crew so much, I'm pretty sure I would have too!! We christened our little boat with the name Scooter because he was diligent and loyal, plus it's pretty much the best name ever for a little Taiwanese raft. After our trip we ate lunch, having just spent the last 3 hours in the sun the last thing I wanted to eat was greasy food, so I settled for ice cream instead. :) 
The rest of the Toroko Gorge endeavor was a feeble attempt at entertainment by our tour guides. We went to a sculptural museum which was a complete BUST (except for a few cute pictures we managed to take) and then a house that used to house soldiers during the Japanese and Korean war, I think. Whatever the case the house was actually located above the city which made for a great view (reminds me of my favorite spot in Rome) AND had it's own little coffee shop in it. Marta and I completely our sweet filled day by purchasing two pastries. One for then and another for later. Thank you Lord for chocolate, coffee, and the ability to work it all off afterwards! 
We returned to NTSU to the reminder that we had aquatic adventures the next morning. Aquatic adventures turned out to be an actual swim meet that we had been signed up to participate in. I was a good sport (eventually) and signed up to swim 50 free, 50 fly (riiight), 50 back, and a relay. Good ol' Swimcats flashback. But in the end I only had to swim the back stroke and then a few fun swims. I didn't exactly win at the backstroke (although Marta did place 3rd!) but our teams kicked but at the cooperation competitions. I'm not sure if it's because of our competitive spirit or amazing brainstorming skills but we finished the goofy races miles ahead of the other teams. After the swim meet we ate lunch and I found out, most importantly, that Eva is returning to Georgia College next year as the Assistant Athletic Trainer. I was feeling a little lost with all the changes this coming year but what with Eva coming, Paul staying, and a whole new department otherwise I'm excited to see what might come of our program! I feel like the program had come to a stand still and that this is just what it needs to jump start us into a new arena of possibilities! I also feel like this trip has given me an amazing opportunity to talk to people from a huge spectrum of programs and to really get a feel for what is working and what is a definite possibility for Georgia College in the near future! I'm especially excited about getting the AT club started and seeing what we can do with that. So much to think about!!! 
I had to go to basketball practice for clinicals and that was not a very eventful occasion. The only positive was that I got to tape an ankle, however, NTSU does not purchase "the good stuff" and so I had to tape it using Cramer and Cramer want to tear your hands off fabric tape. It was nearly impossible and made me forever grateful for Johnson and Johnson!!! Afterwards we had sushi and pizza for dinner....sushi for me but of course. And then Tai Chi. 
Marta and I got my buddy, LB, to get us real pizza (as in not seafood infested pizza) and so a bunch of us all sat in the common area and fiested on the luxury of American style PIZZA! After that Marta and I went running again which has really become a fantastic release at the end of a long day! 
So finally, yesterday morning I woke up and had instant grits for breakfast! They made me close my eyes and feel like I was home again. Love me some grits! After breakfast we headed to class which was all about herbal medicine. It was pretty interesting, we even got to measure and mix our own concoction and put it on a pad to be placed on people's sore spots. I definitely didn't use one but it was fun to make! Afterwards we loaded up the bus and had subs for lunch on the way to the Pottery Museum. We toured the museum and then headed to the little pottery city about 15 minutes away (by foot). This was another one of my favorite activities, we got to sit down at a wheel and throw our own creations! I made a little something for Jason and it will be shipped to UGA after it has been fired. I cannot wait to see if/how it turns out! 
Afterwards we spent a good 2 hours browsing the extensive pottery shops before loading the bus back up to head to the NTSU student Athletic Trainer's end of the year banquet. 
A very unique thing about the transportation here, okay so the buses here, is that every single one of them has karaoke built into it. Every single one. Okay so there are few, um well boisterous people (SURPRISINGLY NOT ME) on this trip, that feel the need, every time, to take the microphone and sing about 6 or 7 songs during the course of our trip. Okay and when I say sing I really mean just scream into the microphone for 6 songs straight. So on this particular evening, on the way to the banquet, we discovered that there was second microphone and I took a hold of it. While they were screaming I took the microphone and actually started singing the song. Everyone stopped and one guy was like wait a second who is that singing, they coaxed me into finishing the song which I did mostly because I didn't want to hear them screaming anymore and I'm not going to lie it was nice to have them quite for even just a moment. I love the power a single voice can have, especially when it doesn't have to yell.
When we arrived to the restaurant we walked in to discover three of the juniors up on stage dressed up and dancing/singing. It was fantastic! There was singing/dancing, reminiscing, gift giving and praises as well as goodbyes, charades, and even another tape off! Even though we couldn't understand 95% of what was going on it was so great to see that camaraderie seems to be a worldwide tradition. 
After the banquet a lot of our people decided to go out to Taipei, considering it was already late and a 30 minute taxi ride away a few of us just decided to stay local and go out with a few of our Taiwanese buddies. We went to a local restaurant ate some bread, had a few drinks, and just relaxed and enjoyed our time to breath! 
So there! Now I have thoroughly updated up until today and now I must sleep. Thank you guys so much for your prayers & thoughts and know that I love and think of you always!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chipmunk Cheeks

I knew this would be so much harder to do if I ever skipped a day but I made a promise to myself that I would update and there is so much to tell that I must just do it! Okay so last Friday we had a class at 9 Am over Chinese Massage. Out of all of our classes I believe this one will be the most of not the only applicable one when I return home. Much of their massage is much like our own with a few twists :). There are very specified areas on the body designated to specified massage skills such as their interpretation of vibration, pinching, and pulling. All of these skills are ones we hadn't necessarily named or defined in class but seem very beneficial. After we spent about an hour practicing our massage skills we had lunch in the cafeteria. Finally, we were demoted from the VIP section and ate with everyone else in the actual dining hall. My mom would have a hay day with all of this Chinese food myself on the other hand...I'm kind of over it :}. I mean it's nice to try something new every once in awhile, and don't get me wrong I am absolutely in love with green tea & milk tea with bubbles. But I would kill right now for a nice piece of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, a lot of bread, and some vegetables. Or maybe some Mexican....or maybe just some spaghetti!!!! Mmmm one of the big things I cannot wait to return to the states for, real food! ;) After lunch I went to my second clinical which was Tai Kwon Do. For me, I had a much better time at Wu Shu--much much more to watch and marvel at. At TKD there's not much to watch, lots of repetitive kicking and jabbing up and down and up and down the floor. However, it is neat to watch because there is a guy from Nigeria and two women from Iran training for the Olympics with the team here right now. One of the Iranian women is so fast it is crazy! She's like a little machine with her arms and legs moving so quickly. I was most definitely impressed by her precision and force generation! The rest of that night consisted of a variety of dumplings for dinner, Tai Chi (which I am bored out of my mind with!), and then Marta and I went for a run! She and I have become really close over the trip. People cannot believe we didn't know each other before this. She's pretty much amazing :)Saturday entire day of class. No lie, we woke up and ate breakfast and got to class by 9 AM. We sat in class until 12 when we had a break for lunch and then came back to class until 4:30 when we finished and left to get ready for dinner. The entire day was devoted to meridian therapy. The theory of meridian therapy treatment we were learning about focused on simplifying the mapped "trigger" points on the meridians so that it would be much easier to teach and comprehend. Each point on the meridian aids with specified injuries, illnesses, and/or abnormalities. Many people were completely mesmerized by the information which was pretty weird to me. Although I do believe it is a novel idea there seems to be no mystical idea behind why/how pain is lessened from an injured area when applying uncomfortable pressure to another.Nonetheless it was fun to learn, map, and draw all over my body in a feeble attempt to remember. Unfortunately I forgot it would all wash off in the shower! After class we walked back to our dorms and got ready to go out to eat with our host students! We heard we were going to have another sort of cook in front of yourself kind of dinner (aka Shaboo Shaboo) but then found out that before that we would be getting a foot massage!!!
I don't think I've ever had a real foot massage before (except from Jason because he's the best!!) but it was nice. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, definitely thought it would last longer and hurt more, but (like so many other things during this trip) it was relaxing and nice to just sit back and relax. Some people, however, were not as lucky as I.
 One girl said it was the worst pain she'd ever experienced in her entire life. If that's the worst pain then I will have no problem having children!  While we waited for everyone else to finish we played in the sports arcade beside the massage place.
My buddy (LB) and I played ski ball and then played in the batting cages. I wasn't as bad as I thought I'd be when it came to softball, which I was extremely surprised about. I was definitely starving by the time we finally got to dinner (around 8) and it was a good (or maybe bad) thing because Shaboo Shaboo is one intense endeavor. Rather than explain it (because of course I am exhausted) I will leave you several pictures to enjoy! Needless to say I ate enough that night to last the average human being at least 3 days!! 
I took a squid (face and all) and took out its guts and cooked the outside! I know that sounds disgusting but there's no other way to explain it and it was so good! Okay Okay pictures from these two days and a promise that I will continue to update that which I have already done because I haven't even been able to talk about my favorite day thus far yet! 
Goodnight to all who are living the daylight! 
i think we're going taiwanese i really think so :]
all smiles at my foot massage
Shaboo Shaboo, in a nutshell
FOOD...this is what happens on a daily basis

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I <3 Taiwan

I know it has been several days since I've update but it has just been so busy here that I have not really had enough time to sit down and write. Ok so, on Friday of last week we had a class on Chinese Massage techniques, most definitely my favorite thus far of classes. I was talking to Paul today on what exactly I was getting out of my growing understanding of Eastern Medicine. There is so much of it that is based on focusing your "Qi" or inner energy/spirit that a lot of the actual medicinal concept is lost in these traditional ideologies. However, tonight Marta and I were talking about it and how I tried to explain it was that more often than not I feel like Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists tend to get so caught up in the routine that they forget to consider the actual patient they are dealing with. It is my belief that if a person believes whole heartedly that they will succeed or at the very least that the individual leading them towards success is completely capable; that in itself is half the battle. Believing that you can do something either because of or in spite of something else is what I think gives Chinese Medicine such a strong foundation to stand on. From what I have seen the optimism of a people in general here is above and beyond anything that has ever been expressed in America. 
They are all so excited to learn, practice, engage, and expand at a seconds notice. They don't seem to ever whine or wonder why something isn't "going there way." They are content and yet always, consistently, working towards an ultimate goal but more than willing to help in any way possible along the way. 
Okay, I'm rambling because I am exhausted and I didn't even get to update about my date but I thought that all of this was an important concept to grasp while I can before I get to exhausted to even remember what I wanted to say. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chi Chi CHI!

Yesterday (Thursday) we were not so lucky when it came to breakfast. The best way I can describe it is that they served us a miss mash of left overs. I mean, I enjoy lo mein just as much as the next person but seriously....NOT at 8 AM when I'm already having an interesting enough time as it is consuming all of these varieties. I picked at some kind of radish patty for a good 20 minutes to no avail. Not the most stellar of meals we have had here by far. After breakfast we went to class, which turned out to be an entire class on Qi. My understanding of Qi (Chi) is that it is your spirit force, a force you can actually feel (energy!) and manipulate inside your body. Sort of like a control of your own energy, in it's entirety. The doctor went around "feeling" our Qi and had us feel our own Qi's as well. You pretty much stand there moving the palm of your hand slowly over your head until you feel a warm spot or force or something and that is your Qi pulsing out of your body into your hand. I'm thinking it's pretty much the spot where your boy releases a lot of your excess heat, but that might just be me. 
After we felt our Qi's and learned several special Qi movements we left the compound (well campus but it's starting to feel like a compound because we are ALWAYS here) to go eat lunch at an "Italian" restaurant in the city called La Mia. We ordered our food before we got there but as usual there were about 4 different servings. THe appetizer, the mid meal appetizer, the entree, and the dessert. Oh and bread too. For the first time the food actually tasted like what I think of as Italian, unfortunately I got some kind of rice, seafood, and cheese concoction that was oozing at the pores with cheese, needless to say I filled up really quickly. One of the Taiwanese students that were with us ordered squid ink pasta! It looked pretty unappetizing, like worms swimming around in an inky black sauce, and it turned everyone's mouth black that tried it. I had enough food and enough since not to.
After lunch we returned to campus to go on our first clinical rotation. My first one was Wu Shu and i have to say I think it is the best one by far. They warmed up by playing volleyball and soccer but the actual sport is a combination of what appeared to be three different sub groups of martial arts. After warm ups the respective "specialties" separated onto three different practice mats and ran through routines for 2 and a half hours straight. I took several videos, their acrobatics and flexibility are so impressive- it's something like a mix between karate, tai chi, gymnastics, and dance; at least that's the best way I know how to describe it. We left clinicals to go and eat a "light dinner" (thankfully!) before we had to go to tai chi.
I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting out of tai chi but it was not what it actually turned out to be. Tai Chi is VERY slow and very meticulous. It's all about breathing, keeping your shoulders RELAXED, and swinging your arms around....sort of. It really wasn't for me but I was a good sport and finished up the 2 hour long lesson. Oh, and apparently we are going to be performing part of what we learned at our farewell party...THAT should be interesting.
I know i'm a few days behind but I don't want to to skip around so...
More to come soon!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday

our grand entrance!

the dance team!

LB & LD (my buddy)

our view :]

the prayer room at the lake across from where we're staying

climbing trees

Us :)

Wednesday lunch...and that's just the beginning

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ni Hao, Yin-Yang, & Tape Offs

We just finished our second breakfast here at Pu Yuan Inn. This morning was not quite as impressive as yesterdays breakfast of carbs and sugar so my roommate and I returned to our room to snack on some Wheat Thins and chocolate wafers and to catch up on our journaling before class. 
Let me back track to yesterday morning...we woke up to the most amazing breakfast in the world, a menagerie of carbohydrates, filled with sweets, and delicious Mr.Coffee straight from the can. After breakfast we headed to main campus for our first class presented by Dr. Ke-Hong Li entitled "Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)." He spoke a good amount of English, however, it was pretty difficult for him to convey to us theories and mindsets that were complete foreign to us in a language fairly foreign to him. However, we had a translator for when things got really muddy for us so that made it somewhat easier to follow. The first half of the lecture covered the basic theory of yin-yang. This is one of the most basic elements of Chinese medicines dealing with the balance that must be maintained within the body. The yin is the "static" of the body whereas the yang is the "dynamic" (movement) of the body. Yin is the moon and yang is the sun. Yin refers to the lower body, chest & abdomen, interior, and "solid" organs: heart, liver, spleen, lung, & kidneys. Yang refers to the upper body, shoulders & back, exterior, bowels, and "hollow" organs: small intestine, gallbladder, stomach, large intestine, & bladder. In anatomical position, yang is the lateral (sun facing) side of your body while yin is the more medial side (where the sun normally does not hit) of your body. 
Chinese medicine depends more on listening and interpreting (qualitative) rather than technological readings and scientific basis (quantitative). Doctors are about to understand individual illnesses, complaints, or diseases according to a format very much like our own. First they observe the individual paying close attention to the color of their face and tongue, secondly they listen to the tonality & flow of the voice, the third step is the actual history taking process, and the fourth is palpation of the pulses. 
Pulse taking is probably the most intriguing part of the yin-yang theory to me. Dr. Ke-Hong Li explained that simply by palpating a woman's pulse the doctors can tell that they are pregnant! There are grids for both the left and right hand pulses that can determine where exactly the imbalance in the yin and yang is occuring. Whether it be an internal (heart, liver, lung, stomach, kidney) issue or upper, middle, or lower extremity injury. Often athletes are only able to perceive that they have pain but cannot tell you how or where specifically it hurts; listening to the pulses can often help the doctor to pinpoint the actual specific site of the injury. There are two different approaches that are typically taken: either treatment of the specific area (injury site) or treatment of the flow of energy through the area. The "big picture" understanding I took from the yin-yang balance is that; even though an injury might express as a yang type situation (might appear to be one thing) the palpation and observation of the entire body's operation might express that the total body expresses a yin imbalance. Basically, it is important to observe the entire body's operations (distinguishing abnormal from norms) rather than focusing only on the apparent injury/illness of the individual. These teachings are very similar to mindsets both Dave and Paul have tried to instill in us at home; for example although a runner might be experiencing pain on the lateral side of the knee that does not mean we look only at knee mechanisms. Lateral pain could be indicative of a a tight IT band or even abnormal pelvic tilts. All of this to say, it was a very thought provoking session. 
We also discussed the different meridians of the body and learned several points that can be used both in acupressure and acupuncture to either release or gather the chi (relieve pain, reduce spasm, etc.) 
So then after our three hour class we went to the cafeteria for another V.I.P meal. They feed us SO MUCH it's crazy!! I promise you they filled our lazy susan's at least three times with every sort of Chinese food you could ever hope for and more! There was sweet and sour chicken (the REAL thing!!), shrimp and vegetable puree, and even squid!!! The squid was super chewy but actually pretty tasty. We were supposed to make lettuce wraps with all the choices but most of us just tried a bunch of different things and filled ourselves to the brim with food. They are NEVER satisfied with how much we eat, we never eat enough for them even though we all eat 2 or 3 plate fulls! They are so incredibly hospitable and eager to talk, help, and accommodate us in any and every way possible! After our feast we returned to the classroom to learn about the history of Athletic Training in Taiwan as well as the basics of their Training Room so that we wouldn't be completely clueless when we had to go their for clinicals, especially since all of their machines are in Chinese!!
Mext we got an official tour of the training room and then about 30 minutes to play around with all the machines. The best of the machines was their interferential current. It's this HUGE contraption with 40+ buttons that lights up and sings you a song whenever you turn it on. Rather than the boring beeps we have in America, every command it is given is returned with a song or a ringtone. However, the best part of the entire machine is the massive sponge-filled suction cups they use for electrical probes rather than the sticky pads I'm used to. They suck so hard on your skin when you take them off your skin has a nice purple/red hue to it.
After we finished with out play time the directors announced we would have a TAPE OFF against our respective buddies. My Taiwanese buddy, LB and I (LB & LD :)) had to tape for a wrist hyperextension injury. Technically, I've never really learned this taping technique but I figured it wasn't TOO different from elbow hyperextension so I went with that. I guess it must've worked because we both go an 8/10 from the judges!! 
The taping challenge ended with the two Mikes facing off blind folded taping ankles. The Mike of Taiwan won by a landslide and not to mention his BLINDFOLDED was much more beautiful than mine ever is with my eyes open. 
We went to a little hole in the wall Mongolian Bar BQ restaurant that night which was a lot of fun and a LOT of food!!!!!!! (Pictures later I promise) After dinner we walked over to the temple located right in the middle of the city and watched a sermon being preached. From what I could gather people just walk in and out as they please, leaving "food offerings" on these long picnic tables and lighting incense to wave about and pray at respective alters with. It was unlike anything I'd seen before and something you definitely don't find that ornate in the middle of a modernized city. Oh Taiwan. ANd that was only the full day two. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flights Galore

At the moment it is 10 AM where I am. I feel completely out of sorts after the excess time spent on airplanes and in airports. I'm all travelled out at the moment and happy to be here. I'm sleepily awaiting the days events as all my loved ones go to bed, that is seriously surreal. I'm having some serious feelings of gut wrenching missage in these parts probably due, in most part, to the lack of real sleep I have gotten. So far everyone we've met has THE biggest smiles on their faces. They are just genuinely happy and eager to meet and discover anything and everything we have to offer. 
So thus far I spent four hours on a flight from Atlanta to LAX then spent 10 hours in the airport to catch a flight at 1:30 LA time (4:30 Atlanta time) and spent 14 hours on an incredibly bumpy plane ride to land in Taipei, Taiwan at 6:45 AM Taiwan Time (6:45 PM Atlanta Time). Thankfully, I have since then taken a shower, brushed my teeth, and feel much more like a human being! Oh, and we were served breakfast on the plane, options being: seafood fried rice OR vegetable omelet with chicken sausage and something else. Oh Taiwan, I can hardly wait.
Currently it is 9:32 PM Taiwanese time, 9:32 AM where you are (respectively), and unfortunately I am feeling slightly wired. After settling in to our humble abode (just because I never have yet have always wanted to use that statement) we dressed up to attend an official Presidential Welcome from the President of National Taiwan Sports University himself. As we entered the "auditorium" we were bombarded with huge smiles, cheers, and applause. There were streamers, banners, even ballons hung up all in our honor. It was the most hospitality I've ever experience in such a short period of time. Not only were they excited about us being there but they were hungry to know and learn from us! 
The president spoke of the time he'd spent as a graduate student at UGA, introduced his entire staff, and presented Dr. Ferrara with a gift. It was refreshing to see how excited they were for him to open the gift, each little bit individually, right then and there. After Dr. Ferrara had opened and accepted his gift we were all informed that we would receive the same exact thing IF we could figure out which of the Athletic Training students was our buddy. I will have to post a picture of the description my buddy left for me about herself. Let's just say it was probably the most accurate, pointed way she could have expressed herself. 
Okay so, I woke up at 6:15 AM here (6:15 PM there if you hadn't gotten that by now) and was ready to go. It's not very easy to fall back asleep here because, unless your so exhausted you can't feel a thing, it's hard not to notice the rock hard mattress. Anyways, just took a shower and figured I would update my blog the rest of the way while waiting for the day to actually start here. 
Continuing on, our buddies all gave us a shoulder bag with 2 collared shirts, a t-shirt for the study abroad program, our own personal chopsticks!, a coffee mug, and a water bottle with our names on it. :) We also got our name badges that let us get into the work out facilities, the lunch room, or pretty much anywhere you would need or want to go. 
After we had found our buddies they took us to the front room of the auditorium where we had a schmorgisboard of Chinese foods including something called dragonfruit that has a bright pink skin with white actual fruit and little black seeds all in it. It was fun to actually sit there and attempt to talk to our buddies, they had learned some English but if they didn't understand what you were saying they would just say "yes" and "yes" over and over again....kind of like what we do! 
I started to feel really sick when I tried to eat and the one unfortunate thing is that they never serve actual water with any of there meals, only juices and green tea!!!!! Thankfully I got over my jet lag after a quick nap when we went to exchange our money from American to NT's. After that we returned to our dorms quickly to change and then headed to the Administration building for our official orientation, both with Dr. Huang and Dr. Ferrara and for a tour of the campus. 
The best thing about the tour, for me, was how the woman that was giving the tour took the papers she had and made them in to a little megaphone for herself. It was just so funny to watch her again and again roll up her megaphone, as if she were talking to hundreds instead of 20 people. :) All of the sports we are going to be covering (in our clinicals) here are completely unlike anything we have, on the average, in the US. As I have my rotations I'll write about each one on here, so as not to spoil the fun by writing them all right now (mostly because I just don't remember all of them off the top of my head...)
Just another example of their incredible hospitality, someone had mentioned earlier to one of the students that they couldn't wait to have bubble tea. Basically, bubble tea, also know as pearl milk tea, is a chai tea of sorts with a bunch of tapioca balls at the bottom of it. After hearing how she couldn't wait to have some they went out and actually got us all a large cup of it! As we were sitting in orientation they came in and handed out this delicious iced treat!! You have to drink it with an extra large straw in order to suck up all the tapioca and you also have to be careful not to eat too many of the tapiocas because they fill you up QUICK! It was so delicious and such a nice surprise after a long day with no coffee!!
After our tour we had some free time to walk around the lake right outside our dorms. There is a trail around the lake complete with a little prayer house, it seems, completely open to the public where people come and go as they please lighting incense or candles and praying or reflecting as they see fit. After our excursion around the lake we head to dinner at the cafeteria on campus. 
They put us in the V.I.P room at two tables with these huge lazy susan's in the middle of them. There was this super creamy soup, fruit, salad, spaghetti with this beef stew sauce, and desserts already laid our for us. They told us all to eat up, essentially, and so of course I was excited because it was spaghetti!! You would think that this would be food enough but oh no. While chowing down on spaghetti they brought in platefuls of fish, steak, and potato salad. Needless to say after all of this we were thoroughly filled, however, the greatest thing about the end of a meal here is that you have the freedom of variety and self service, that way you can serve yourself as much as you're going to eat without the "clean your plate mentality" looming over your head. They give you small plates that keep you eating small portions but that also keep you going back for seconds and thirds. Most definitely "Chinese" food here is very different from Chinese food in America...because we all know how much I LOVE American food. 
To finish off the evening we all went to a Yoga class. That was, by far, my favorite part of the day. She did a great job of focusing on core strength, breathing, and balance however this yoga session seemed much different from the ones I have experienced in the past in that it seemed to incorporate more palates and strengthening than just stretching and posing like I was used to.
It was much needed considering my entire body was stiff and aching from the epic plane ride. 
It's really hard to try and find enough time to update this every day so I will more than likely try and write tomorrow (Thursday) sometime if I can about all the happenings of Wednesday and Thursday both. I really want to be able to include some information on what we are learning here, I just know that that will take alot of time to write out and right now we really have none that is free!!! 
Thank you to everyone for your prayers, thoughts, attention, and love! 

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Anticipation City

Today is Mother's Day and so this weekend i got a friend of mine's stepdad to take pictures of Jason and I for my mom, his mom, and some for my grandmother also. They turned out pretty well, I wish I had gotten them taken earlier because now they are going to be a late present but...oh well, better late than never.
This morning they talked about Parenting at 12Stone. It is the third part in their new "Classics" Series in which they touch on Marriage, Career, Parenting & Finances. It's really easy to be skeptical when you go to a big church, especially for me when it's easy to be skeptical in general, of anything, but I really feel like I GET something out of every sermon I've heard there. Even if it's not necessarily the sermon it's the worship, the spirit, the way I dive into the Bible there, the stories, the reverence...or maybe it's just the Starbucks. ;) Whatever it might be on whatever particular day, I'm really enjoying how excited I get about going to church. I never know what to expect but I always feel God's call to be there. Side note: Jason is the best thing since the invention of coffee...even better than that honestly.
Anyways, so after the sermon the pastor read a letter from PK (the senior pastor) honoring single mothers and giving $50 to each single mother so that she could treat herself on Mother's Day. For some reason this, out of all the other things that had gone on up to it, made me well up. During the offering they showed a video from a Ukraine foster home of all these little children without mothers and fathers...It's a completely different situation to actually really see this children without real homes. Without a dad to come to your soccer games, or a mom to hug you so long and hard you think all your guts are going to fall out. Without your earthly life forces. It just let's you know there really is more to it than graduating, working, making money -- than just getting by. It really is just that simple. So simple that it hurts to think of all I'm not doing. So simple that it makes my mind turn and heart flip and twist to think of all my possibilities! I just pray that God will call me, enable me, allow me to do even half the wonderful things I have running through my mind. I especially pray he will keep us grounded, down from the clouds of monetary worry and pride. That love, honesty, and humility would always rule my heart - I just want to pray to maintain a level head and conscious heart.
So yes, it was a very good morning.
I spent Thursday Night and Friday with Isabella and it was fantastic. I was telling Annie that I forget how young she is because I feel like I've been talking to her all day long. That little girl, she is so incredibly full of life, vibrancy, tenacity...all those big huge words that mean super fantastic amazingness. I know love Jack's Big Music Show, can sing along to most of the songs. And have gained a new appreciation for Noggin and it's attempts to instill an appreciation for all sorts of languages and cultures into kids that young. It's also pretty ridiculous how a little ones laughter can make your entire day. :)
Alright so this weekend has been pretty full but now there's only 6 days left until I leave.
6 days.
This will be where I keep my daily blog, both by choice and by assignment, but I hope that you guys will thoroughly enjoy all my Chinese culturizing/tripping I will be engaging in.
It's going to be....weird. 12 hour time difference, never being away/incommunicado for longer than a week or two at most, NEVER without communication. But the experience, I feel, will be worth it. I have amazing people encouraging me, so many praying for me, and an open heart and mind to ABSORB EVERYTHING!
I will leave this with a few of the pictures from our impromptu photo shoot: