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”…