Repost: Is life what you make it?

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I dig through my archives and read through some of my past posts. Usually, this exercise makes me laugh because what was I thinking a writer is his/her own worst critic.

The other day, however, I read one of the first posts I ever wrote, and I actually kind of liked it. I wrote the article in more of a free form writing voice than I currently use, which is refreshing on days like today when my writer’s block is more frequent than Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes.

What do you think?

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Originally posted: August 19, 2012

My sister left for college this week. She’s officially a buckeye. I know that those of you living outside the state of Ohio find our mascot ridiculous since it is, well… a nut, but the scarlet and gray hold a dear place in the hearts of those from the state that is at the ‘heart of it all.’

As I texted my sister on the morning of her departure, I felt sentimental. But, not in the way that you might think. I didn’t think about my first day moving into my dorm room, the two-hour drive that I endured from our hometown to the new ‘big city’ of Pittsburgh or the way that it felt to walk a college campus on the first day as a real college student. Instead, I felt old. I still feel old. Boo. These memories are not something that I easily conjured up like it was for me when my brother embarked on his first year of college four years ago.

I was, however, reminded of how I actually chose which school to attend. You see, I was an oddball. I had NO IDEA where I wanted to go to college – all I knew was that I needed to escape Ohio. I applied ALL OVER the place – New York City, South Carolina, Kentucky, Clarkson University (just google that one)… in basic words, I was a hot mess. I remember my dad, who was most likely scared shii-less of my college ADD-ness, asked how I was going to choose which school to attend when my options were all scattered. How would I decide on the criteria and decision-making factors when every school was so unique and non-comparable?

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Hmm… good question, dad. I remember pondering it for a while before declaring… “well, isn’t college just what you make it?!!” Sure, I could frolic around the Big Apple with the social elites, sip on moonshine in the south or freeze my bootay off in a place where hockey overrules football as the official sport, but really, when it comes down to it, I would be the one to ‘make’ my college career. I would decide how much energy to apply to school work, internships and friends within the environment that contains it all.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how mature of a statement this was to declare at the age of 18. I’m sure that I am not the only one who feels this way. There are plenty of young adults and people who have similar realizations, including my very own sister. However, I’ve been surprised by how many other people in the world do not have these similar viewpoints. The universe is full of people who blame their circumstances; coworkers who blame the company and others who blame their establishments.

What is it about life that causes people to continually explore their options? Between jobs, hobbies, significant others, even places where we work out and where we live, it is as if everyone is living their own version of Goldilocks. It’s too easy, too hard, too hot, too cold, not the right fit, etc.

I guess ultimately my point is that I’ve always lived my life with the attitude that life is what you make it. I hope that I don’t come across as egotistical or boastful. I’m just saying that this attitude has always worked for me. Whether it is my college choice, my career or the basic decisions in my life, I tend to give things my all in the hopes that the ‘all’ will make those things great. So, the next time you think about exploring all the options, perhaps try driving your energy into one thing; it finally might be the one that’s “just right.”

Review: Spartan Up! + Biggest Giveaway Yet!!

As part of my partnership with Spartan Races, I was provided a free copy of Joe De Sena’s “Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life.”   All expressed opinions are entirely my own.

Tune in to the 2014 Spartan Race World Championship Race, held in Killington, VT on September 20th, broadcast on NBC 11/16 3PM EST!!!

When Spartan Races approached me about reviewing Joe De Sena’s (Founder of Spartan Races) new book, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Admittedly, initially, I was concerned that this book might include an egocentric trip through the mind of a very successful and athletic guy.  A little judge-y, on my part?!

In actuality, however, this book is an inspiring synopsis of how each and every one of us, despite our current physical and mental shape, can “Spartan Up!” and challenge ourselves to face our next obstacle – whatever that might be.  In fact, within the book, Joe repeatedly discusses how he was rejected  by Cornell University three times before he was formally accepted, and graduated from the school.

Throughout the book, there is a common theme of relativity that explains how an obstacle may be more challenging for one person than it is for another.  As Joe says, “By the time I did my first Ironman, I had already completed eight ten-day races, so the Ironman felt like a warm-up to me…. In contrast, if the most strenuous thing I had ever done was walking to and from the supermarket a quarter of a mile away, an Ironman would have posed an unbelievably imposing obstacle.  I was not a natural athlete by any stretch, and I never thought I could do an Ironman when I first heard of one.  But after doing these multiday adventure races, I knew I could.  It all depends on your frame of reference.”

As the book explains, the Spartan Races were born out of a very challenging and military-style Death Race that Joe originally founded with his friend and fellow adventure-enthusiast, Andy Weinberg.  There are varying race lengths, starting from 3-miles to 20+, that include various obstacles and challenges, such as burpees, rope climbs, and greased monkey bars.

In Spartan Up!, Joe explains the purpose behind the race obstacles and how life is full of natural ones.  “In scientific terms, it is the ability to avoid the fight-or-flight response to a situation, to remain calm and able to think clearly.  This quality is borne of the kind of preparation that prevents the individual from getting stressed out by unfamiliar obstacles…. Preparing for the unexpected is easy.  You just need to do the unexpected.  Break out of your routine.  Go for a run at night.  Swim in the open water.  Stop and climb a hill in the distance.  Go farther during that bike ride.”

** Ultimately, Spartan Up! is an easy and motivational read that leaves you wanting to challenge yourself more.  The book contains stories ranging from Olympic athletes to 400-pound individuals taking on the obstacles in front of them – whether that’s a week-long Iditarod race or a walk around the block.  Joe provides an inspiring narrative about how each of us can face life head-on and push ourselves to be better, smarter and stronger individuals, embracing the true embodiment of the Spartan spirit.

We wanted to surround ourselves with people who inspire us.  The people who inspire us the most are those who don’t waver, don’t quit, don’t take shortcuts, and don’t fall short.  Each of us can be one of those people if we choose to be.  Sacrifice time now for more time later. -Andy Weinberg

BIGGEST GIVEAWAY YET – ENTRIES DUE BY MIDNIGHT EST 9/22.

1. Spartan Races is giving away a free cruise to Stirrup Cay, Bahamas!  Win it! Enter here.

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2. Win a free entry to any Spartan Sprint Race.  Enter in the giveaway widget below.  The winner will be announced on Crossroads of the Heart on Friday September 25th!

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3. 10% off any Spartan Race in the continental US.  Use promo code: SPARTANBLOGGER

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