Take a Step Outside…

Since I’ve gone MIA for a bit I figured I should throw an update out there to catch people up on my adventures. I am currently living in Beirut, Lebanon. From what I’m told, the night life here is great and the food is spectacular. So far I’ve managed to make my daily home base a café right down the road called “HOOK” where I’ve made friends with the owner and her family. The area I’m living in is very much a residential community where people park wherever they can find an empty few feet of space and I’m sure a few dozen people get hit by cars on the daily because the lack of sidewalks. It’s definitely a different world but the people are very nice. A few blocks down the way is a more ritzy area where there’s a great social scene. A few low key bars and nice restaurants to eat out at, mostly by myself. Haha One thing I’ve learned traveling, living in a foreign country, and trying to get the most out of every place I visit is to not be afraid to go out and do things alone. Not everyone is as eager to fully immerse themselves in it and some people are just here to play ball and get paid. I find that a bit sad, but to each their own. Not everyone gets this opportunity to get paid to experience the world and not everyone will get to live somewhere completely out of their comfort zone like we do. The other day I went out and had a glass of wine and devoured an entire pizza while onlookers watched me enjoy my table for one and be the fatty my momma raised me to be. Corn fed and Iowa Bred. I won’t lie though, I was initially nervous because I had never been to the Middle East and because of all the tension over here. But Beirut isn’t at all like I imagined and hasn’t in any way made me feel uncomfortable living here. Even though my tall, Amazonian, ginger self gets stared down literally everywhere I go.  I kind of stand out just a wee bit.

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I wouldn’t say my living accommodations are spectacular at the moment but I’m just accepting where I am and working with what I got. On a positive note, I’ve only been electrocuted about 3 times since being here. One while trying to use the washer and another while trying to use my stovetop. Lebanon is already trying to kill me. Lol But overall, I’m not high maintenance and I’ve become very good at adapting to my surroundings. We don’t have a car so our teammates pick up the other Americans and I for practice daily. Which also means I do a lot of walking if I want to go anywhere somewhat close to me. It’s okay I could use the extra exercise and work through all my untapped reserves from not playing consistently for a while. We’ve played two games so far and lost both of them. One of them was to the top team in Lebanon but the other should’ve been easily won. I however wasn’t making anything for the life of me besides 3’s the first game. Makes sense right? Lol The further out you get the more accurate your shot becomes? The second game I played much better but not well enough to pull out a W. It can only go up from here though after every game my body feels like it got hit by a truck. I definitely do not bounce back as well as I could in my college days of taking charges and running around with an endless motor of energy. I’ve been living in compression tights, a knee brace on for walking around, and ice bags strapped to me since day 1 of practice. Haha

My sleep schedule has yet to become regular. It doesn’t help that the other Americans go to sleep at like 3 or 4 AM every night. The first week I was sleeping mostly during the day and awake for most the night. The last few days I’ve had a sort of insomnia and averaged about 3 hours of sleep per night. One would think I would be super productive with all this time but you’d be wrong. Still adjusting. I’m getting better though. I spend my days doing schoolwork at a coffee shop and nights practicing or working out. But boy did I miss this, getting paid to play basketball and have the freedom to explore the world. I get to dedicate my time to learning and investing in myself in the areas I value the most. What more can a girl ask for? J

For now, I’m just enjoying where I’m at and learning from where I’ve been. New year, New you. Not the same girl I started off as at the beginning of this long basketball journey but boy have I learned a lot. If you ever get the chance, step outside your comfort zone. Hang with people you don’t normally hang with. Experience a new restaurant, coffee shop, fun activity, event, or bar. Learn a different language or travel to a different country. What you know, where you’re from, and who you are, is just a speck of what this world is made up of. The world is bigger than you; so take a risk, take a chance, and step outside… I promise you won’t regret it.

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Dare To Do More Than Dream…

Anyone who knows me knows that my journey hasn’t been the easiest, nor has it been the hardest anyone’s ever experienced. I’ve been through the ringer in the pursuit of my dreams and still pending…

The funny thing about DREAMS is that a lot of times we are looking at those who are already living their dream, but we don’t see the journey it took them to get there. We don’t see the tears, the blood, the sweat, and often times the unfair, broken moments crashing down around them. We don’t feel  the lonely nights choosing not to do what everyone else does in order to stay on track. We don’t feel the pain, the disappointment, the frustration, the heartache that made the fact that they actually made it happen that much more impressive. We don’t always get to see, read about, or understand the DNA of other’s successes.

For many, a dream is just that… a DREAM. Something unattainable. Something you go to sleep for, so you can fantasize about. Waking in the morning; crashing back to reality. Back to that mundane job you hate with coworkers who don’t want to be there either. Back to that weekly routine of waiting for the weekend. That 9-5 grind on repeat. Something that only those lucky individuals you read about or watch on TV are blessed to be living. Something other people do or live. Like they were “dropped” into that role or won the lottery for it. Praying for that miracle life to be sprung on you.

In my opinion, too many people are just “dreaming” and not “doing”.

Ask yourself: What makes you happy? What motivates you? What kind of change do you want to make in this world? What kind of impact do you want to make in your short lifespan? How do you really want to live it? What kind of work are you willing to put in to get it?

Dreams are meant to be chased. Dreams are meant to be clawed after. Dreams are meant to take pieces, take chunks out of you along the way. Dreams take work! It’s your dream, so why shouldn’t it take parts of you and your time to fuel, to create it?! They say nothing good ever came easy. I believe it.

The pursuit of my dream has broken me physically and mentally. It has tried me over and over again. Most recently, it has put me through not one, but TWO Category 5 hurricanes playing in Puerto Rico. It has left me lonely, staring at the ceiling of a gym at 3 AM wondering what I was even doing. Asking myself, “What am I thinking for daring to dream something so BIG, that at times feels unreachable?” It’s created a lifestyle where having a real meaningful relationship with anyone worthwhile is nearly impossible. Again, staring at the ceiling in a foreign country, where I’m all I have, wondering what’s wrong with me? Taking me to the darkest parts of myself with every knee operation on my resume. It’s left me bawling my eyes out alone in my cold Poland apartment, knee swollen in unbearable pain and heartache knowing another surgery awaited me after a 28+ hour travel day back home. It’s driven me to push my family and my friends away at times so I could bask alone in the crappiness of it all, knowing I’m the only one who understood the heartache I felt. The only one who could see the details unseen or read the language of the pain inside my soul. It’s taken pieces of me inside and out and at times, without meaning to, from those around me as well..

I’m nowhere close to achieving my dream but I do know I’m closer than I would be sitting on my ass dreaming of reaching a destination without the ambition to get in the car and drive. Basketball isn’t my life but it has given me a platform and the confidence to share my struggles with others. It’s given me the ability to help others and motivate young minds. In a way, I guess I’m already living my dream.

In my silence, I found my voice…

In my breaking, I found my making…

In losing myself, I found myself…

In my journey, I found my dream…

The struggle is a part of the dream process. Your steps are the keys pressed down to make the notes, creating the music to the masterpiece of your life.

The question is: How much of that masterpiece are you willing to write? How much are you willing to fail? How much are you willing to fall apart, only to put barely put yourself back together again and again and again?

Dare to DREAM! Dare to claw after them and make them a reality! It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be fast. It’s not going to be instant gratification. You have to climb to get to the top of that mountain. Ever notice that books are written about and movies are made about those people who faced adversity and overcame it? Those are the stories we like to hear. Those are the people who have the best stories and those same people were dreamers once too. Don’t settle to be less of the person you’re capable of being! Whether you would love to open a business, succeed as an athlete, graduate from college, or even just to live your life you want! Make those steps. Get up and start walking! Start working! Just simply START! Wake up from that fantasy every damn day and start living into your dream, until it starts to become your reality. You’re capable of so much more! You’re capable of more than just simply sitting around dreaming.

Start “Doing”…

 

Dating… in a world where less is more??

Now let’s talk about how hard and oddly how easy it is to find yourself single in this world today. Like, how do you meet other human beings of the opposite sex or same sex depending on your preference, these days? It’s a serious question!! I like having a drink or two every now and then but even then I don’t really have much success in meeting quality guys at the bar, club, local Chipotle…Not to mention, they have to be at least 6 ft to even get on my radar and maybe a ticket out of the friend-zone…if they are lucky. Trying to talk to a guy or even date one is so mind boggling and a rollercoaster in itself. You don’t know how much of yourself to show to them because you don’t want to show them all the crazy you are snuffing out for the time being. You want to seem at least sane and a bit normal (whatever that is anyway). It’s an endless battle for girls at least to be stuck in their head like: “What is he thinking? Why did he say this? Oh he didn’t text back. That must mean he doesn’t like me. What are we?”

Then we all have these crazy moments when we somehow get to the extreme like: “He didn’t text back. He doesn’t respect me. He probably is talking to another girl, three, ten. Yep he’s definitely a player. You deserve so much better! Go off on him for ignoring you. Naw, don’t show him the crazy. Meh, whatever. light him up, he deserves it. …. * no response for 2 hours* “ Okay crap, backtrack and apologize. Blame it on the one – five margaritas.” “Okay you spilled all crazy out and he hasn’t replied. You’re so stupid. Delete him and ignore him if he ever messages back… This is probably why you’re single. ” “oh he texted back! *waits 1 hour for revenge*.. Hey babe, I’m sorry too for being a little crazy.”

It’s a constant mind game. I don’t know about you, but I go through phases where I find myself lonely and wishing I had someone to care about me/the things in my life and then I decide to actively try to date or talk to guys. Then there’s those times where I’m content just doing my own thing because putting energy into that area seems pointless and too time consuming. There’s also that phase right after a failed attempt to talk to someone and you’re like: “Well… THIS is why I am single and it’s really not so bad. I may just live here….. FOREVERRR. It’s getting pretty comfy in here. “

My problem is that I just want to be blunt and put it all out there. I want them to know what they are getting into. Which is, as you can tell from my previous posts, a person with “issues”.  Haha. I’m constantly fighting the role of knowing what I deserve and not settling for anything less than quality or anyone that doesn’t fit in my screwed up puzzle quite right. I’ve always said “You can’t force a puzzle piece into the wrong spot, the picture won’t turn out right.”

If you’re looking for just a piece to fill that hole, then it does the job but the overall scheme/ picture isn’t going to look complete and it isn’t going to be pretty. The right piece is out there, you just have to put the work in, be patient, and find it. Sometimes it just gets kicked around, lost in the chaos, or in between the couch cushions. I’d say this past year has tested me to practice what I preach and taught me how painful it is to let go of those people you care about but are no good for you. That however is a topic is for another day and another blog.

It’s weird how being blunt scares people off. How sometimes being too real and showing them your undiluted self, scares them. I just want to be like: I’m looking for someone for the long haul. Someone I can actually have deep conversations with, not just superficial/surface conversations. Someone I can relate to and can relate to me and let me tell you guys AND gals, there is NOTHING more sexy or more attractive than someone with ambition, intelligence, kindness, humor, and LOYALTY. Someone who knows what they want or even WHO they want. Nobody should ever tell you anything different. Have goals! Know the kind of person you want in your life for the long haul and know the kind of people you want to be surrounded by. Know the kind of person you want to be and be it! Have some sort of drive towards something! Have an open mind and constantly be thirsty to learn and gain knowledge! Don’t settle for who you are today because tomorrow’s going to come and you don’t want to look back and see that all you’ve been doing is standing in the same spot for the past year. It’s in our nature to want to feel fulfilled and accomplish things, no matter how small. Keep moving, keep walking, and run if you can!

I had a great conversation about this exact thing with someone months ago. It was my birthday weekend, so it only seems right that I was able to relate on this topic with someone else. It was refreshing to know for a fact that there are girls out there that have the same line of thinking as me and that I’m not just screwed up in the head after all those concussions I suffered in college. Nice to know that I only came out with the bare minimum “Dain Bramage” as my dad would put it. 😉

Dear men, let me just say that being a gentleman in the “old school” meaning of that word, will never go out of style. I don’t know a single girl who wouldn’t appreciate a door being opened for them, a call instead of a text, just to see how their day was. An ACTUAL date that requires thought instead of just “Netflix and chill”. Chivalry isn’t dead, it’s just that we allow ourselves to accept less and be less. Don’t allow yourself to be any less of the man you are supposed to be and ladies don’t allow your man to be anything less either. But don’t allow yourself to be any less of the woman you are supposed to be either. Be a real WOMAN or MAN in the purest form. Not that watered down version society deems acceptable as the “norm” now-a-days. BE better. DO better!

If you already are in a relationship guys, the best advice I’ve given some of my own friends is that “When in doubt, do more!”. When she says,  “Don’t’ come over.” You best be already on your way over. When she says she’s “fine”… She’s not and you best already be already at a McDonalds picking her up a Mcflurry or something sweet… Just saying… You’re welcome!! You’ll thank me one day when you find your better half, who makes your days all that much brighter. Like I said in my last blog, don’t settle for less than what you deserve because you deserve the world! But you also deserve to be pushed to be the best version of yourself possible. Don’t settle for being LESS than who you can be because people also deserve to experience the BEST version of YOU too!