25 things I’ve learned in 25 years

25 things I’ve learned in 25 years

The clock struck midnight — February 1. My 25 birthday; halfway to 50; a quarter of a century, if I’m lucky enough to live 100 years. I half-expected a Cinderella-esque transformation at that very stroke of midnight. Instead, I slept. My 25 birthday? Like any other day. I should’ve dropped birthday expectations long ago, but there’s something about birthdays that excite me. You’re another year older, another year wiser?

I don’t consider myself an expert on anything, especially life advice, but I thought I’d share a few things I learned in my 25 years of life.

  1. You can’t plan the future (and, yes, sometimes that’s scary). 

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a “planner.” It eases my anxiety a great deal to know (and prepare) for my next moves. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to schedule out every second of life. It’s something that I’m still figuring out and accepting.

 

2. It’s hard to keep in touch with all of your friends/acquaintances…

but make sure to keep the good ones around. The ones that stick with you through the hardships in your life and are there to celebrate life’s joys with you, too.

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Some of my best friends (not all of them are pictured) live far from me. I miss them every day, but am thankful for Facetime, texting and social media.

 

3. Assess your values and establish them as priority.

It’s important to identify your values and prioritize them. You’ll refer to these values when developing friendships, relationships, starting new jobs, etc.

 

4. It’s OK to ask for help.

Seriously. Anytime, anywhere, any situation. Ask for help, if you need it.

 

5. Single life isn’t all that bad.

It’s during the times that I’ve been single that I’ve learned the most about myself. I’ve focused on self-love, my health (all aspects) and finding time for my passions. Embrace your single-ness, it’s not the worst thing ever (even if it feels like it sometimes).

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The joke is … I’m the single one in this picture.

6. Take time to discover yourself and your values/beliefs. 

This doesn’t happen overnight. And this might be something that you take time for regularly.

 

7. There’s not ONE right way to pursue wellness. 

Some prefer yoga, others prefer lifting. I’ve found that running helps relieve stress. After I picked running up a year ago — I took a long hiatus post-high school — and since then I’ve signed up for a number of runs to keep myself motivated. Find what works for you. Research. Talk to your doctor. There’s a plethora of ways to eat and exercise, you’re bound to find something that works.

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This is me at my first half marathon, which I ran in October 2017.

 

8. Pursue what makes you happy, not necessarily what will make you the most money. 

I will never forget this piece of advice my dad gifted me.

 

9. Find time to travel/explore.

Go beyond your comfort zone. Learn something new. Be a tourist.

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Saberseminar & Fenway & amazing friends.

 

10. Support a cause. 

Do some research and donate your time or money (or both) to something greater than you.

 

11. You don’t have to be religious to be moral/a good person.

 

12. Vote. 

Please.

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Me posting voting in the 2016 election. 😦

 

13. Regularly take “me time”. 

See above. It’s important to just relax and spend time treating yourself.

 

14. Learn to let things go.

It’s not worth hanging on to hatred towards someone or something (unless it’s the Yankees). Once I started to move on from past grievances, I felt better about myself. Also see: Kesha’s song.

 

15. Perfection isn’t real.

Still accepting this one. More on that later.

 

16. You never stop learning (if you keep an open-mind). 

My favorite thing, in the last year or so, is to check out non-fiction books from the library. Reading non-fiction allows me to expand my knowledge on a topic I already appreciate or want to know more about. Keeping up on current events is quick way to learn information about the world around you.

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I took time on my trip to Boston to visit several historical spots in the city. This included learning more about one of my favorite historical figures, John F. Kennedy.

 

17. Coffee is the lifeblood that fuels champions.

It’s never let me down.

 

18. Mental health is REAL.

Mental health is real. Mental health is real. Mental health days are real. Mental health should be treated like physical health. Mental well-being is important.

 

19. Conflict is a part of life. 

How does that saying go? “Life isn’t always easy.” …or something like that.

 

20. Take risks, even if you fail. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve failed when trying something new, but I suppose that’s a part of life. It’s like in basketball when you’re trying to shoot a three-point basket, but you actually airball.

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KU doesn’t know anything about missing a shot or two….

 

21. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.

Social media is super deceptive. It’s not hard to see someone’s life and make assumptions based off what is shared. Remember that every person is unique. There’s no “timeline” to life.

 

22. Don’t harbor regret.

It’s like the saying, “live and learn.” There’s a reason for everything — even if that reason was solely to teach a lesson.

 

23. Let ’em talk. 

Like the Kesha song.

 

24. Trust your gut.

Because it’s probably right.

 

25. You can do whatever you set your mind to.

Bring your ideas to life and act. Waiting for the “perfect” moment will get you nowhere.

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The University of Kansas was my dream school. Yes, my dream school. I let no one AND no thing stop me from attending. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

 

10 Things About Me

10 Things About Me

By Heather Nelson

In an attempt to get back to blogging regularly, I thought it best to start — or restart — with a post about me. I’m not great at writing about myself. It’s almost like hearing the dreaded interview question, “So, tell me about yourself.” I’m bad at it. Where do you begin? What do you include? If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you know the obvious things about me. (If you don’t, here’s my about me page.)

So here’s 10 (probably) lesser-known things about me:

  1. I’m an advocate for mental health 

When I was a senior in college, I spent many nights considering suicide. It wasn’t until months after my graduation that I found the help that I needed. I spent a long time believing that the thoughts floating through my head were normal and scared to admit to anyone that I was even contemplating something so alarming. Now, I know that it’s OK to not feel 100 percent happy all the time, and I know how to manage my anxiety’s highs and lows. I share my story with others in hopes that it encourages because mental health shouldn’t be a taboo topic to discuss.

2. Kids are an important part of my life

For the past two years, I’ve worked as a daycare teacher. I didn’t envision myself at this job post-graduation, — I didn’t study education in college, and my career goals were a bit more selfish — but it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me. The children have taught me to be self-less, patient and loving. Who doesn’t love walking in to work to hugs from 12 children every morning?

3. I’m not a morning person

I’ve never been a morning person; I prefer watching Netflix into the early morning. My mom told me stories about when I was in kindergarten and refused to wake up for school. “You used to cry every morning,” she said. “There was always something wrong that put you in a bad mood.” My mornings are tear-free, but I’d steer clear of me before I’ve had a cup of coffee. The catch? I’d prefer not to sleep past 9 am for fear of wasting the day.

Note: On weeknights, I’m in bed by 10 pm solely because of how early I need to be up. I really love sleep.

4. I consider myself an introvert

I despise large groups of people, dread public speaking, rejoice canceled plans, and prefer alone time.

Note: This is probably why I love running — it’s just me and the pavement and my thoughts (and a really rad playlist).

5. I’m a creature of habit

I’m the orders-the-same-thing-every-time type. I like routine. I meal prep one breakfast and lunch for the week. I rarely watch new TV shows or movies. I drive to the gym after work every day. Saturdays (or Sundays) are for Premier League soccer. A break my routine results in me feeling completely lost.

6. I’ve never traveled abroad

I’m not counting Mexico for a few reasons: 1. I was 10. 2. I stayed on the resort the entire time. My parents denied my desire to study abroad while I was in college (mostly because of the cost). Someday I hope to visit each of the continents — maybe not Antarctica.

Note: I’d also like to visit each of the 50 states. And all 30 MLB ballparks.

7. I’m an awful cook 

I was never one to watch my mom in the kitchen or to offer her help. In turn, I feel completely helpless in the kitchen. I’m jealous of food bloggers, who know how to substitute flour and how to create their own concoctions. I’m slowly becoming a better baker, but I can’t live off muffins and cookies and protein pancakes.

8. love reading and writing

I consider these to be my second job — someday, hopefully, my full-time job. Lately, I’ve been interested in non-fiction, which I previously hadn’t been fond of. I attribute this to the fact that I enjoy learning and reading allows me to explore more about the subjects that I love. (Most non-fiction I’ve read includes: baseball, American history during the 1960s and 1970s, and, really, any sports.) I also enjoy Stephen King novels. My favorite: 11/22/63. 

Note: Journaling is easy because it won’t see the light of day, but I sometimes fail at writing to publish.

9. I’m afraid of mediocrity 

I don’t want to wake up one day unhappy with the choices that led me there. I don’t want to lose sight of what’s important to me and what I plan to accomplish in life. There’d be nothing scarier than realizing “too late” that I wasted time on silly things. It’s cliché, but I want to make a difference. 

Note: I’m also scared of spiders (OK, most bugs), heights (falling to my death), sharks and things that bump in the night.

10. I’m working on… 

Besides the things I’m always working on — creating a more consistent writing schedule, eating healthier, reading MORE… — these are a few smaller things:

  • training for and running a marathon
  • actually saving money
  • finding concrete ways to support the Women’s Movement (and other causes I advocate for)
  • further my education

 

I’m reading two books right now, running a couple of times a week, and refraining from spending my paycheck on clothes. Looks like I’m on my way…

 

Bye 2015, hello 2016

By Heather Nelson

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Celebrating four years of friendship at our favorite place, The Sandbar.

Blogging about the year end makes me feel like a little piece of me has withered away. In a sense it has — I (could be) one year closer to dying.  (Or I could die in five minutes.) Regardless, I’m one of those people who hangs on to bits of the past. If you took a peek at my closet, you’d find my favorite Barbie doll from when I was three, an accordion folder of treasured schoolwork, and old issues of Sports Illustrated I can’t seem to throw away. It’s funny, though, because I don’t look back at 2015 with much endearment.

2015 kicked my ass.

I relate it to this: I fantasized that when I graduated from college, I would have all the answers. I’d have the dream job, the dream life that I’d long imagined as a child. I’m sitting in a coffee shop (writing this) six months later, and I have none of these things. 2015 got me on that one. I didn’t know what 2015 had in store — the possibilities were wide open. That’s the rest of adulthood.

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Pledge class 2011 in initiation order for the pub crawl.

Life threw me quite a few curve balls. The first: I failed a journalism class, which left me three credits short of receiving my degree from the University of Kansas. The second: I quit my full-time job as a campus missionary to take care of myself, which leads me to…. The third: I was “diagnosed” with depression and general anxiety — I started seeing a therapist (major humility for me). The fourth: I spent two months in unemployment limbo.

Through all of these things, I’ve learned the art of vulnerability and humility. It’s important to share experiences that you’ve learned from so that others don’t feel alone. If 2015 taught me anything, it’s that. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks, thinking, “I must be the only miserable person on the planet.” (Really, what percent of 23-year-olds are working at their dream job?) It’s hard to exit the black hole in your mind.

So, here’s my suggestion for 2016: share life with one another. Worry less about closing yourself off from people who might hurt you. (Be less of a robot.) Pain is part of life. (Trust me, I’ve experienced plenty of this.) Listen to your gut. (*Shia LaBeouf voice* just do it.) If you feel that tug to share an experience, advice, a hug, a hand… Do it. The world needs extraordinary humans to spread love.

It’s too late to say sorry, 2015, but we’re gonna have an adventure of a lifetime, 2016.

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Nelson family Christmas 2015.

 

Where is journalism going

By Heather Nelson

When I discovered my love for journalism in high school, I immediately desired to work for ESPN one day. In fact, I thought Erin Andrews was a goddess who knew everything there was to know about sports, and I wanted to be her. I racked my brain trying to understand how it was possible that she could look so beautiful and still have all of this sports knowledge. Now I laugh at myself for giving her so much credit.

Of course, Erin Andrews isn’t all bad but sideline reporters only do so much. The kind of career that I desired shifted throughout college. As I gained more knowledge about journalism, I realized that it’s not a job about glitz and glamour. Journalists get their hands dirty — even in the sports world. Journalists investigate, report, and seek the truth. This is the type of journalist I want to be. A journalist that searches for the answers and demands the truth.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time listening to The Bill Simmons podcast, which if you haven’t subscribed to — DO IT. I admire Bill Simmons. He’s outspoken, but it seems that I end up agreeing with 90 percent of the things that he says. Especially this from episode one of his podcast (with Cousin Sal):

I’m very excited to with [HBO], they’ve been great. [They’re] a place that cares about creative people and freedom of speech — I’m very excited about that. Two of my favorite things: creative freedom and freedom of speech!

Simmons attacks ESPN with this statement, and later admits in his third podcast (with Wesley Morris, a former Grantland writer) that he’s still bitter about his suspension. But the quote above sparked my intrigue: I’d always put ESPN on a pedestal, but does ESPN deserve to be on a pedestal?

In the third episode of Simmons’ podcast, he and Wesley Morris talk about Simmons’ suspension and the future of Grantland. In the first 10 minutes, Simmons argues that ESPN failed to promote Grantland in the way that the network has promoted other projects. I never really stopped to think about this. It’s true, though. It enraged me. In between bites of my salad last night at dinner, I spoke to my mom about how foolish I was to believe that a company like ESPN believed in real journalism. She listened while I talked her ear off, confessing that I want to be a female version of Bill Simmons and that I hope to make a change in the world of sports journalism.

I understand it’s bleak in the world of sports writing. But, wow, after today I couldn’t help but weep for future writers, like myself. ESPN made a monumental mistake by shutting down Grantland. How ironic that this news dropped one day after I started to make some important realizations about the monolith.

Now, I’m left to wonder where the future of longform journalism rests. Will ESPN start a trend? Is this just a part of the culture — a culture that wants information instantly? I’m a part of “Team Simmons” when I say I’m an advocate for well-written, longform journalism.

What Grantland offered was unique. I sifted through stories that interested me (on my Twitter feed) and developed connections with the writers I enjoyed reading. The thing that pains me the most is that ESPN continues to keep programs like “First Take” running, but authentic journalism is thrown to the wayside. And where is the integrity? Some of these writers found out through Twitter that they’d been laid off. Disgusting. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that TV personalities are more important to a so-called sports journalism network. But, wait, I forgot that (extreme) bias is more valued than objectivity.

Tonight, I’ll be watching the World Series enjoying a glass of wine, or six, in honor of those who deserve a job more than Joe Buck or Skip Bayless. The world is a cruel one. I just hope that journalism is going somewhere.

My thoughts on Roanoke

 By Heather Nelson

Yesterday started out like any other day for me. “Stockholm Syndrome” by One Direction blared through my phone, a reminder that it was time to start the day. I silenced the alarm and opened Twitter. The next few moments were not like any other day.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward thought it was any other day, too. They woke up before the sun, I’m sure, and followed their next assignment. A feature story on a resort in Moneta, Va. Nothing scary there. It was just a normal day, a normal story. Moments later, Parker and Ward were attacked.

Thanks to auto-play, I saw this horrific event unfold before my eyes. I heard the shots ring out — seemingly coming from nowhere. I saw the panicked look on Parker’s face. I heard her shrill, distressed screams. And then, black.

I will never be able to erase this scene from my mind. I placed myself in the shoes of the anchor back at the studio. How could I pretend like my heart didn’t just jump out of my chest? How could I mutter any words? How could I restrain tears from sliding down my cheek? How could I continue on with my work day?

All of these things happened to me as an observer — an observer who doesn’t know these reporters personally. Yet, it seemed all too real…too applicable to my life.

As a journalist, I could’ve easily been in that situation. I’ve covered so many different stories that I’m almost naive to any danger around me. I’m used to being out of my comfort zone. I’m choosing to avoid reporting from war-torn countries, or something of the like. But that doesn’t mean that I’m “safe.” Life is funny that way. And life is cruel.

Anytime a shooting happens, we hear the same things over again. “Tell someone you love them today.” “Hug your loved ones a little tighter.” “Life is short.” “We need to do something about this.” And after every shooting, or tragic event, these things are repeated. But, do we really take these words to heart? Do we really live each day like our last? Are we still holding on to some grudge — a grudge with someone from 10 years ago? Do we tell the ones we love that we love them? Appreciate them? It shouldn’t take a tragedy to take these things to heart. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to put forth our best self. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to live life fully.

My heart is heavy for the ones who love Parker and Ward dearly. Based on the things that I’ve read about the journalists, the pair is adored by not only their family and friends but also the community. To Roanoke (and surrounding areas), this is the time to support each other. To remember that human lives are special. To remember to lean on one another. To lift up one another.

These are the times that I tend to look toward our Heavenly Father for comfort. Take your pain to Him. Let Him love Alison and Adam; let Him guide His beloved children home.

Rest in peace, Alison and Adam. You are loved and missed. Prayers to Vicki Gardner for her continued recovery.

Ward-Parker“Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.” — James Dean

**Original image found on Twitter, this image taken from Google images**

Internships provide skills needed for the workplace, school

My last paycheck came in the mail today.

I knew my days as an intern at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel were over when I said my goodbyes over a week ago… Now, I feel there’s closure on my chapter as a summer intern.

***

I walked out the heavy, blue door with thoughts swirling around in my head. Did I leave the building for the last time? Did I make lasting impressions during my two months in Junction?

I could only answer “yes” to both because I continue to aspire for more.

My supervisor left me with kind words, and promised me a Letter of Recommendation. (She even offered to have me come back as an intern next summer. This happened in a later email exchange).

My time at the Daily Sentinel seemed too short. I’d like to think that’s because I kept myself busy with stories while adventuring Western Colorado’s beauty…

My first story, when I attended an Emergency Medical Services Week BBQ, taught me to turn stories quickly and efficiently. My first story being published was just an incentive and a confidence-booster.

My last story helped local petitioners get the word out. The petitioners, who were skaters from around the area, started a petition for new (or to revamp current) skateparks in Grand Junction.

I spent more time on my last story. I didn’t have writer’s block; I was sad that my internship was ending. When I finally turned the story in, my supervisor was pleased with my final article.

***

I cannot thank my supervisor enough for giving me the opportunity to intern in Grand Junction.

I grew as a person because I forced myself into a new environment. I learned to create conversation with strangers. I learned to maneuver a new city (even though Junction is actually pretty easy to navigate).

I learned to check the spelling of every name. Three times. And check it again. I learned to research before interviewing my subjects. I learned to work in a newsroom environment, which is quite fun, actually. There’s always food….

I loved my time at the Daily Sentinel. I feel better prepared as a journalism student. I will continue to apply things I learned in the newsroom to my school-life. I will keep improving my writing and editing skills.

Writing is my passion. This is the most important thing I have learned.

I’ll end with a quote from my favorite author growing up because he depicts my feelings before I departed for a new town:

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” — Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

Summer, where did you go?

By Heather Nelson

Blink. Two weeks have gone by.

The holiday weekend ruined my journalistic efforts. My boss was out of the office — unplugged — for two weeks. One could say I was a bit helpless.

First, there were no fireworks stands in Grand Junction. I blame that on the fire ban. I took my vacation early.

When I came back to the office, news had extended its vacation. I blame that on Grand Junction.

I developed a few stories, and kept some for desperate days.

That week, I became distracted by a visitor — my boyfriend — that came to venture Junction. Somehow, I was able to work through distraction. I met a stellar lady, who started a wonderful organization.

I enjoyed driving the Colorado National Monument with my boyfriend. Here I am at Fallen Rock Overlook. Colorado has treated me to wonderful views.
I enjoyed driving the Colorado National Monument with my boyfriend. Here I am at Fallen Rock Overlook. Colorado treated me to wonderful views.

Then, the fair came to Mesa County. I spent three days creating a video for the web. I spoke with a wolf “trainer.” I waved to the wolves. It was humid in Grand Junction. That was a first…

And here, I am in my final week of my internship.

Blink. Two months have gone by.