Ten Year Challenge: Blog Edition

Ten Year Challenge: Blog Edition

By Heather Nelson

It’s 2009. High school is simultaneously the best and worst thing ever. The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana dominate airwaves everywhere. (Don’t lie, they’re catchy.) Barack Obama enters his second year in the White House. Adult life hasn’t quite hit, yet, and it’s actually perfect this way.

I’ve been reflecting on what my life was like in 2009 since the “Ten Year Challenge” sparked popularity on social media. I’ve changed in the ten years that passed (of course), and yet, I still feel like a 16 year old some days.

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I was a really cool 16-year-old and basically my interests have not changed much.

I’m a sucker for reminiscing, so why not create the “Ten Year Challenge” blog-edition?

Sports

Well, 2009 wasn’t exactly *the year* for my sports teams.

The Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team, after winning a National Championship in 2008, exited March Madness early. Kansas failed to advance past the Sweet 16. (North Carolina won the National Championship over Michigan State.) However, the team easily became one of my favorites. The squad boasted stars such as Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, and Brady Morningstar — who returned from the 2008 championship team. Then the Jayhawks added Mario Little, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, and Tyshaun Taylor to the mix. It’s like I said, this particular group was my favorite. I loved watching them play, and I only wish I’d been in college during those years. WOW. I miss that crew. (It’s a shame that a team of this quality did not bring home a ‘ship for Kansas.) Needless to say, the Jayhawks’ future looked bright.

And baseball? Well, the New York Yankees took home the World Series trophy. So, I definitely wasn’t happy about that. I remember bitterly tweeting that “27 rings is too many.” Nope, not upset at all… The Red Sox finished second in the American League East behind the Yankees in 2009. The Sox earned a spot in the playoffs through the AL Wild Card, but were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS. (I would’ve never guessed that nearly ten years later, Sox fans would be celebrating a fourth World Series win in recent years.) Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that the 2009 Sox included my favorite Red Sox player, Josh Beckett. The obsession was real…creepy.

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I lived and breathed Josh Beckett. I deeply cared about his statistics. Probably too much.

I don’t even want to mention football/the Super Bowl. A few things: the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl; the gigantic Dallas Cowboys stadium opened; Josh McDaniels was the Denver Broncos head coach — I wish to forget this ever happened.

At this point, I don’t think I was watching much Premier League soccer. But if I was, I wasn’t a Liverpool fan, yet, which is terribly disappointing. So, nothing to note here especially since Manchester United won the League.

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. Josh Beckett
2. Cole Aldrich
3. Jonathan Papelbon
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
5. Dustin Pedroia
6. Fernando Torres
7. David Beckham
8. Joe Mauer

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Mookie Betts / Andrew Benintendi (tie)
2. Mohamed Salah
3. Mike Trout
4. Jordan Henderson
5. …Josh Beckett?

Music

My music taste has always been eclectic. I’ve listened to (and loved) almost everything ranging from musical soundtracks to Eminem. My music choices in 2009 reflected this wide range in music taste, but I can think of a few albums that I listened to almost non-stop.

I remember mornings on the school bus where I’d turn on my iPod Classic and hit “shuffle.” Listening to music on my iPod was how I started and ended long days — I was involved in several activities in high school, which often left me feeling stressed and worn out. Music helped me escape and focus on something else for a little while.

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A selfie. Fake Ray Bans. And Jonas Brothers temporary tattoos on our face. Why?!

I’m still a music-fiend, but I’ve switched from iTunes to Spotify (I am a subscriber). I’ve curated playlists and discovered new artists thanks to Spotify. Music fuels my long runs and strength workouts and sometimes my commute (if I’m not listening to podcasts).

Heather’s favorites of 2009:
1. The Killers
2. John Mayer
3. Jonas Brothers
4. Ingrid Michaelson
5. Ryan Star
6. Lady Gaga
7. Kelly Clarkson
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Ke$ha
10. Green Day

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Taylor Swift
2. Beyonce
3. Lady Gaga
4. Black Eyed Peas
5. Miley Cyrus
6. Kanye West
7. Britney Spears
8. T.I.
9. Nickelback
10. P!nk

Heather’s favorites of 2019:
1. Kendrick Lamar / Childish Gambino (tie)
2. The 1975
3. John Mayer
4. Lauv
5. Ed Sheeran
6. Bruno Mars
7. The Weeknd
8. Ariana Grande
9. Justin Timberlake
10. SZA

Billboard top artists of 2009:
1. Drake
2. Post Malone
3. Ed Sheeran
4. Taylor Swift
5. Cardi B
6. XXXTENTACION
7. Imagine Dragons
8. BTS
9. Bruno Mars
10. Camilla Cabello

Social media

My parents said that I wasn’t allowed to create a Facebook until I was 16 or 17. I’d made a MySpace page at a friend’s house without them knowing it — all the cool kids were doing it — and my dad quickly discovered my secret. One day, I logged onto the computer and the MySpace page didn’t load. I was embarrassed when he confronted me a few days later, but he was saving me from being sucked in to a whole other world. I jumped on Twitter back in the days when no one had an account and people tweeted about what they were eating for dinner.

Now, I have just about every social media known to man and spend hours a day refreshing each newsfeed. (Get a life, Heather!) The one positive thing I can say is that I’ve met people online that are now my “IRL” friends. So, in a weird way I’m thankful for the weird blackhole that is social media.

A look back at Heather posts in 2009: 

*All of my Facebook posts are either about me doing homework or song lyrics.*

Ten years ago, I would’ve fantasized a different future (than the life I’m currently living). Ultimately, I’ve accomplished a few goals, learned more about myself, and refined goals for future-Heather. While I’m eager to see what the next decade brings, I’m not in a rush for time to move that fast. For now, I’m living life in the moment and savoring each breath, each sunrise.

Tell me how you’ve changed! What were your favorites in 2009? Have your tastes changed much? 

The Road to 26.2: Why I Run

The Road to 26.2: Why I Run

By Heather Nelson

Here’s some of the responses I’ve got since committing to running a marathon: “You’re crazy!” “I get bored after running a mile!” “Well…good luck!” “A marathon?! Really?!”

The words of encouragement and well wishes make the 26.2 miles seem more real, daunting. I’ve started to feel more pressure, and I thought to myself, “Why am I running a marathon?”

It’s not entirely about the 26.2 miles. Sure, I want to complete a marathon in my lifetime, but it’s about how I feel when I run. This is something that most of my friends haven’t considered when I’ve opened up about running. I always feel crazy for liking something that a lot of people seem to despise. And, in all honesty, I don’t love every run. But running is just one form of exercise I’ve really learned to appreciate. It makes me feel good…

So, here are the reasons why I run (even if running sounds despicable to you):

  1. It boosts my self-esteem. There’s nothing quite like exceeding all expectations one set for herself. Two years ago, I never imagined being able to run more than four or five miles. I never would’ve run outside or signed up for races. Finishing a run leaves me feeling high — and that positive energy lasts for hours afterward. Runner’s high is real! 

    The greater the endorphin surge in these brain areas, the more euphoric the runners reported feeling.  — from ‘How to Achieve a Runner’s High’

    2. It combats depression/reduces stress. Depression takes away my desire to move. Gearing up for a run is normally the last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling my best, but I lace up my Brooks anyway. Running helps manage my depression. Acting opposite to my emotion is just one way I attempt to end the negative cycle. Distance runs help me to combat problems nagging at me — sometimes I simply acknowledge the thoughts and other times I actively search for a solution. Short, speed runs are perfect for clearing up aggression and tension.

3. I sleep better. The nights that I get the best sleep? Nights after I’ve exhausted myself with a run. I’m actually able to turn off my brain and just sleep.

4. It builds confidence. As mentioned before, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible with running. I solely compete with myself in an attempt to continually improve. Running allows me to grow stronger, more empowered with each step.  It’s as simple as that.

5. Running has taught me to be mentally tough. There’s nothing worse than running against the wind (except maybe humidity). A runner’s mind is forced to adapt and focus on overcoming obstacles. It’s easy to concentrate on the negative. Training the mind to dispel doubts is a runner’s biggest strength.

Running isn’t just great for physical health, it’s a great exercise for mental health, too. This is why I run.

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…

 

What toddlers taught me

What toddlers taught me

By Heather Nelson

It’s common knowledge that your 20s aren’t always the best time of your life. Sure, you’re young, you’ve got time to adventure, to explore the world and its twists and turns… But, there’s something about your 20s that’s lonely, taxing and trying. 
If you would’ve asked me August 2011, where I’d be in four years after college graduation, I’d probably have guessed that I’d be working as a journalist full time. I’m two years removed from graduation; I’ve not seen a penny earned for my writing. 

But this isn’t a post about my writing. 
It’s been nearly two years since I took a teaching job at a daycare center. I recently earned title of full time classroom teacher in the toddler room; I teach 2 year olds. It’s quite the task, but I think the toddlers have taught me more than I’ve taught them. 


Patience 

The amount of patience you need to work with kids is immeasurable. I never considered myself a patient person. I hate waiting for packages to come in the mail and for fresh baked cookies to cool. Two year olds require more patience than I knew I had. The kids are at a critical age of learning. They want to be independent; they want to feel important. I’ve found myself re-reading the same book 10 times because a child requests it. I merely laugh at spilled milk (and the post-lunch mess) that I clean up multiple times a day. I smile when a child repeats a statement or question, even after I’ve acknowledged him/her. And I’ve learned to embrace the question, “Why?” 


Adaptability 

The children in my classroom have experienced a lot of change lately. The children seem to easily adapt to their environment. New teacher in the room? OK, let’s get to know her, ask her questions, make her read to us, play with us. The children in my classroom generally embrace change and are able to adapt rather quickly to any situation. I admire their willingness to embrace the new beginning of each day and accept (for the most part) what’s in front of them. As long as it’s not dried cranberries for snack instead of cookies….


Love
This is, above all else, the biggest attribute I’ve gained from my toddlers. My heart grew 10 sizes on the day I became their teacher. Not only because I had to grow in humility, but because I felt like I gained 16 kids of my own. On the worst of days, I can look at my kids’ smiles, hear their laughter, feel the warmth of their hugs, and I’m comforted in knowing I’m loved. There’s truly nothing like walking into work each morning greeted by smiling faces and at least ten, “Hello, Ms. Heather!”s. I love my job more than I thought possible and it’s because of the kids. 

I’ll never regret the path that I’ve taken to get where I am today. I’m always learning, adapting, changing, loving harder…. And if I’ve learned anything about “adulting,” it’s that prioritizing your values and finding a job you love are more important than the salary you earn.