Keep Moving Forward

Today on my hot, humid, sticky run, I happened upon a little snail.

That little snail put some big thoughts in my head.

He was just sliding along, slowly but surely, confident of his destination and not worried about how long it was going to take to get there. He was just moving and doing his best to get somewhere.

Wow. What an inspirational little snail.

He reminded me of one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes:

“Around here, however, we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 

This snail wasn’t looking backwards. He was just going, moving toward a better tomorrow.

Let’s all “move forward” every day, my friends. It’s hard–we have our doubts, we have our past failures in our back pockets, and we want what we want now. It’s hard to wait.

Just move forward each and every day, and, maybe someday, it will lead you down a new path better than you ever imagined.

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Tunes to Fuel Your Run/Workout

I am a college athlete. I work out. A lot.

Music is definitely the fuel for my workouts, the one thing that helps distract me from the sweat dripping down my forearms (I’m a notoriously heavy sweater when I work out). Music inspires me as I make my way through my runs and my weight lifting; lyrics have a way of igniting my soul and passion and focusing my energy on the task at hand. Music can help me focus on the goals I’m pursuing, be it in athletics or in life.

My playlist is anything but conventional, however. Remember, I’m a Disney freak/ musical junkie/ Top 40/ a sprinkle of rap kind of girl. I’m not big on the typical “pump-up” songs. I like songs that either carry me away into a story or help me concretely focus on my goals. My favorite workout music definitely varies. The music I listen to as I complete my workouts include music that ranges from slow ballads to epic finale numbers. I’m not kidding.

Here are some of my favorite songs to run/workout to at the moment:

  • “Go The Distance” from Hercules. Such a good song. Goosebumps, I tell you!
  • “I Can Do Better Than That” from The Last Five Years (movie) soundtrack. Anna Kendrick slays.
  • “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years (movie) soundtrack. Anna Kendrick pulls at the heart-strings. I can imagine the entire story behind this song, so whatever running/lifting I am doing is a little easier with this gem.
  • “Immortals” by Fallout Boy. Yes, it’s from Big Hero 6, and it’s awesome. My one true favorite “pump-up” song at the moment.
  • “Strong” from the credits of Cinderella (2015). I’m unsure of the artist, but I just love this song.
  • “On My Way” from the musical Violet. I love the latest version sung by Sutton Foster, another Broadway queen I admire.
  • “See You Again” from the Wreck it Ralph soundtrack. So peppy.
  • “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. All time favorite musical with my all time favorite Broadway queen. I literally (Chris Traeger voice…ten points to you if you caught the reference) get goosebumps during my run when this song starts to play. All the feels accompany this song. Love you, Idina.
  • “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding. Solid Top 40 song.
  • “Finale” from the show Fantasmic in Walt Disney World. “Some Imagination, Huh?”
  • “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress in Walt Disney World. So positive. So wonderful. It makes me want to better myself for the good of tomorrow.

With the right music, you can learn to enjoy (or tolerate) your workouts as well! If you enjoy a good pump-up song, go for it. If you tend to listen to symphonies as you run, don’t feel self-conscious when you’re on that treadmill in the gym. Do what’s best for you. Even if it means blaring “Anything Goes” (from the musical Anything Goes) as you do your squats next to a very intimidating dude with muscles popping unnaturally out of his shirt. That example was based on a true story.

Anyways.

Have a wonderful day, my friends! I hope my eclectic playlist inspires you to get moving and to get inspired by the music you choose. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in your athletic endeavors. You just have to make the decision to try.

Happy sweating!

Still smiling after my run, drenched in sweat and listening to my tunes.

 

Thankful for IX

And by “IX,” I mean Title IX.

Now. I am a student athlete at NCAA Division II school–I’m not getting endorsements or working on my craft for eight hours out of my day (I only do about 3 or 4 hours a day on a long day; weights, run, play, repeat). We don’t have sellout crowds at any of our sporting events, let alone volleyball. In fact, people don’t even have to pay to get into our games. We just want people there.

We put in the work. We are pretty impressive athletes–not incredible or anything, but we work hard and have dedicated our college years to become our best selves in the sport that we love. We win some, we lose some. But we, as female student athletes, have received the opportunity to be able to compete for championships in the sport that we fell in love with as little girls. It’s incredible to me that I get this opportunity–an opportunity that my grandma didn’t even have the chance to take. Even my mom had very limited opportunities when it came to college athletics.

Title IX has done wonders for women and the equality we seek in sports. I just think society still has a way to go.

In my Sociology of Sport class this morning, we began to talk about gender in sports. We watched an ESPN film entitled Branded–a little film exploring how female professional athletes are viewed in society. Here’s what I learned: female soccer players make 25,000 dollars a year compared to janitor supervisors’ 45,000 dollars a year. You’re lucky to get an endorsement if you’re a professional female athlete; in order to get the big bucks you have to ooze a certain sex appeal. The WNBA has hardly any viewers compared to the NBA, yet the athletes are just as impressive. I also learned that Billy Jean King was awesome.

Even my team, a small Division II school that only instilled volleyball in the program about 10 years ago, has impacted some of the student body in a less than desirable way. There are always comments on Yik Yak about how so-and-so from the opposing team looked in her spandex, or how people are just there to get a good look at our admittedly tight required uniform.

Of course, not all of the community is like this. I get a ton of comments about how we actually played–those are the things I love about what I do. I’m a part of introducing volleyball to a community that hasn’t seen much of the sport. But those comments about appearances (especially about our spandex) still exist.

Women and men are beginning to be viewed more equally in society, but when it comes to women in sports, it couldn’t be more apparent that we are still not equal. Of course, I am so proud of my opportunity to get to become my best and get a little scholarship for what I do, but I just wanted to bring attention to the actual work female athletes put in. We have 6 AM workouts just like the guys do. We condition. I’ve participated in hours upon hours of practices and workouts since I’ve been a college athlete. We don’t just work out to get the perfect “beach body.” We work out to become stronger. Faster. Better than yesterday. I will always be an athlete in one form or fashion (I have goals to run half-marathons after I am done with volleyball), and I will always be proud of the fact that I move my body to become better, not necessarily better looking (though that is a plus).

Start giving credit where credit is due. I am so thankful for Title IX because of the opportunities it has bestowed on me and women in general, but I think it’s time that women are recognized in sports for the talents they bring to them. Not all athletes are going to be “pretty” enough to land an endorsement deal, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t incredible at what they do.

Thank you, Title IX, for giving women the chance to play the sports we love. Now it’s up to society to begin taking us more seriously.

When You Wish Upon A Star

When most people hear the classic Disney tune shown above, most don’t think of work ethic,  perseverance, or resilience. They think of princesses sitting back and waiting for all of their wildest dreams to come true–a prince mounted on a white steed, a glittering castle positioned on the picturesque horizon, and a grand wedding day.

I love that aspect of the song. It’s idyllic. It’s filled with unexplainable hope. But my favorite part are these words that I tend to interpret a little differently than most:

“When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” 

When I hear this lyric, I don’t think of wishing with all of your heart. I picture working, or doing everything in your power, your heart, to make your dreams a reality. Wishing won’t cut it. Working for the things you want is simply the only chance you have.

I write about a lot of leisurely things, but when it comes down to it, I’d like to think I work my hardest everyday.

I’m short. I’m not an absolute ball of muscle. I wasn’t a D1 recruit by any means–but, somehow, I became a college volleyball player, a dream I have had ever since I was in the sixth grade. Becoming a college athlete was all I thought about for a solid seven years of my life, and I’ve been able to live that dream for the past three years. It’s amazing to think about–all those camps, clinics, backyard peppering, club practices, tournaments, rides in the car, doing homework late after practice to maintain a 4.0–every long, stressful day was a step toward realizing my dream. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the people in my life who supported me every step of the way. It’s amazing how many hours my mom spent driving to and from tournaments, sitting with me through club volleyball meetings, encouraging me when times were rough. Without her–without her meticulously “packing my parachute”–I would be nothing.

Volleyball will soon become a lesser part of my life–I have one more season left to play, and after that I don’t know what I’ll do. I just know to get anywhere, anywhere at all, you have to work. Maybe I want to write? I can’t just wish for free lance jobs to pop up; I have to put my practice in every day and go for the jobs I want. Maybe I want to be a clown? I have to practice my nose-honking, merry-making craft everyday (I don’t want to be a clown, but kudos to those who do). Working hard–that’s how you get the grades, the job, the life you want. Let’s be honest, though. Sometimes life isn’t fair; you won’t always get what you want, even if you pour your entire heart and soul into it.

Work hard anyway.

“If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme.” Have your heart invested in the things you want –work for that dream job, work for that scholarship, work for that 4.0. If you want it, don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. Go get it.

Walt Disney (the man, the myth, the legend) said about his precious Cinderella:

“She Believed in dreams all right, but she also believed in doing something about them…When Prince Charming didn’t come along, she went over to the palace and got him.” 

So you see? Cinderella believes the same thing I do. Putting your “heart in your dreams” doesn’t mean wishing with all your heart. It means doing something and working toward something with all of your heart. Even if all of your wildest dreams don’t come true, at least you will know that you tried.

As Meredith Grey from the incredible Grey’s Anatomy said, “Even the biggest failure, even the worst, beats the hell out of never trying.”

Work. Try. Fail/Succeed. Repeat.

The Life of a Student Athlete

It’s hard. I’m not going to lie.

You put yourself through grueling practices where you get pushed to your limits–both mentally and physically. Your body hurts. You suffer lapses in confidence because you’re not performing at the level you think you should be. You barely have time to study or do homework adequately because you are constantly on an eight-hour bus ride to some college to compete.

And sometimes you lose.

Despite all the hard things, nothing can compare to the unlimited amount of good things–nothing.

When you win. WHEN YOU WIN. It’s such a good feeling. You’re covered in sweat, exhausted, drained of all your reserves, but it’s so worth it when you pull off a big win.

When you fight to come back from a handy deficit and win. You fought. You took the adversity and accepted it, overcame it. No better feeling.

Free food and meals shared with teammates could be the best thing ever. The conversation and company shared with teammates stays with you forever. Inside jokes, bouts of laughter, and ganging up on coach always happens around the dinner table.

The relationships you form with your teammates are so unique and special. They are your family. You spend every day with them, travel on smelly buses with them, lose games with them, win games with them, endure punishments with them, practice with them, go to study hall with them, and–best of all–make memories with them. Teammates are everything in the world of college athletics. Love your teammates, work with your teammates, push your teammates.
Without them, you are nothing.

Being a college athlete–especially at the small college level–takes a special kind of person. You aren’t necessarily worried about the glory you may receive after playing one good game here and there. You aren’t worried about ESPN appearances. All you care about is playing the game you fell in love with as a kid. You get to play your game for four extra years and compete for a chance to become your best self.

Yes, college athletics is hard. But it can be so, so worth it.

“I know every mile will be worth my while. I would go most anywhere to feel like I belong.”
{Hercules}