21 February 2011

100%

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about motivation in my life, especially in the areas of health and fitness. The other day I was having a conversation with some friends who want to start a running group. Each one of them kept reminding all of us that they don't run very fast and just want to go for mileage and not speed. I got me thinking that so often in our lives, especially concerning fitness, we give the bare minimum of what we feel we have to give and nothing more, but how does any improvement come from that? While I was working out the other day a quote came to mind: "If you're not giving 100%, you're not doing it right." Why is it so comfortable to just do the minimum and not completely challenge one's self? And living a healthy lifestyle really is uncomfortable; it's uncomfortable to not be able to eat or drink what you want, when you want or how much you want. It's uncomfortable to push through the pain that workouts can cause and it's most definitely uncomfortable to be judged by others because you live a different lifestyle than they do...a not always socially accepted lifestyle. But how will you ever see results or progress, in any area of your life, if you don't give 100%?

In the past couple months, I have been following the workouts from a blog called BodyRock.TV and I have been loving every minute of it! They use a Hiit (High intensity interval training) approach to fitness and the majority of the workouts are 30 minutes or less! I've not only been getting progressively stronger and more flexible, but my mental stamina to get through tough workouts has increased tremendously! The people on the site do a really good job of motivating and encouraging everyone with the workouts and showing beginners the correct modifications to gradually build strength.

Anyway, I'm trying to implement the 100% mentality into every aspect of my life, school, relationships, time for myself and pursuing what I want/need. But personally, starting with my health has been the best place and everyone who knows me, knows that I've been a workout addict for quite some time, but I've never felt this good about working out before. I feel really great physically and mentally, I have a new sense of self confidence and most days, I surprise myself at how proud I am of myself! That's a whole different topic in itself, but it's a great feeling to realize that you make yourself proud of who you are and what you are doing.
So to continue that feeling and the personal progress I have made, I'm choosing to always give 100%.

Adios

20 February 2011

Just Keeps Getting Better

I can't express enough to everyone how happy I am about my change in cities! Deciding to come back to Spain and transfer to Granada was the best decision of my life! I really appreciate everyone's encouragement throughout the whole process of me being abroad...especially when I wanted to go home. I'm so glad now that I didn't go back to Colorado this semester, but I am even more glad that I am not back in the Basque Country again.
The atmosphere down here is so friendly and lively; my classes are going great and my professors are awesome! I have met some really great girlfriends too, who are really laid back and have just as much of a heart for adventure and culture as I do.
Yesterday I went on a hike with my friend, Olivia, and some of her friends and had the best day! We took the city bus out of town to this tiny suburb of Granada called Monachil; it's an adorable town at the foot of the mountains. We didn't really know where we were going, but we found this trail and followed it in a big loop. The last few days have been rainy and when we were about half way through the trail, it became incredibly muddy! The ground was clay, wet soggy clay, and it clumped on the bottom of our shoes and made it almost impossible to walk! It was pretty funny actually and we all were sliding around, almost falling in the mud. On that muddy path, we came across a wild (we're not sure how wild it actually was) boar...after seeing how it was going to react to us, we decided to just go off the path and walk around the olive orchard it was in and he didn't bother us.
It was a really great day, it was such a pretty place...reminded me of Colorado with the mountains so close and the company was so much fun! It was a great day to get out of town and do some adventuring with friends! Next weekend, Olivia and I are thinking of going to Cordoba and spending the night there, looking forward to that!

Ciao!

Monachil

Beautiful girls (Audrey, Hannah, Lexi, Olivia)

Our muddy shoes!

This is a picture from a hill above Granada...the apple trees are blooming :)

12 February 2011

Maybe I should become a pirate.

I just got done reading my good friend's blog post about world travel (you can read it here) and it made me think about my own desires for world travel. I mean, it has always been my dream to see every country in the world, but that's quite an extravagant dream to have. It's just interesting to me when people talk about world travel and all these places they want to go and see, they only ever think of the biggest, head-lining cities...and in my experience it has been the smaller places that have touched me the most. One of my favorite places in all of Spain so far has been the small town of Labastida in the Rioja. The 360 degree views of the wine fields and small communities was absolutely breathtaking!
Maybe that's just a personal thing for me though, I'm not much of a city person...something I realize more and more everyday here in Granada. When I think about the places I've been and all of my favorite parts involve a more natural setting. In Barcelona it was the lookout point from Park G├╝ell, where there is a view for miles and miles and here in Granada it is the hills above my apartment that are lush and green and view the city as well as the Sierra Nevada's.
When I think about all the places I want to visit here in Spain and in Europe in general, it starts to feel pretty overwhelming and makes me a little sad that I really don't have as much time as it seems. Of course, if I didn't have to attend classes, I could travel all over the place, but that's not the case. It starts to become a saddening thought that I have such an amazing opportunity before me and access to places that most people never get to see and as always there are complications in taking full advantage of it. Who knows when I will be able to get back to Europe and have enough funds to travel throughout the countries.
The future constantly stares at me and makes me scared that my worldly dreams are not obtainable.

Hasta Luego.

08 February 2011

New Beginnings.

I am in my fourth week here in Granada and I just started school yesterday. I have five classes this term and they all seem like they will be really interesting and challenging in different ways. Mondays and Wednesdays: Translation from English to Spanish, Civilization and Culture of Spain and Civ. and Culture of Hispanoamerica. Tuesdays and Thursdays: Spanish Literature of the Renaissance and Baroque eras and Spanish Writing and Oral Enhancement. So far, I really like all of my professors, they are all quirky in their own ways and seem to like teaching Americans...because the majority of my peers are Americans at this school. I can't really say much else about school since I've only had two days of actual class, but it does feel really good to have a schedule again and a constant flow of Spanish in my life.

In the past few weeks, I have visited the Cathedral of Granada...twice actually...and the Alhambra. I went to the Cathedral a second time because I forgot my camera the first time and felt that it was worth it to pay the 3 Euro again to get some good pictures. :) The Cathedral is so beautiful! It is so different from the one in Sevilla because it's all white and feels very heavenly because of the brightness inside. The organs and alters are all quite magnificent and unbelievably detailed! The Cathedral here is actually where the Great Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, are buried! I haven't gone to see that part yet, it is different entrance and another fee, but I will get there soon. It's so neat to see all these things that were made in the 1600's and done with such precision; it's astounding!
Although when the Cathedral is compared to the Alhambra, it barely holds a candle in beauty and fascination! I went to the Alhambra last Thursday with my friend, Colleen, who also goes to the Centro de Lenguas Modernas.
A little history behind the Alhambra: it was built in the 1200's as part of the Nasrid Dynasty...a Moorish Dynasty who's rulers descended from one of Muhammad's disciples. It was used by the Moors as a palace as well as a fortress for over 200 years until 1492 when it was surrendered to the Catholic Kings in the Inquisition, as the last Moorish stronghold in Spain. For the next hundred-some years the Alhambra was used by the Catholics as a palace and underwent some alterations to better suit the Catholic agenda. To put it plainly, it's the most magnificent man-made structure I have ever seen! The part of the Alhambra that is a palace and was used for living quarters has walls and walls of detailed "carvings"...I put that in quotes because Colleen (who's an art major) thought that the walls where made by molds of some type to create the amount of perfection they have...and intricate tile patterns. Some of the rooms we walked in through were literally breathtaking. Both of us could not stop looking and inspecting everything; like it was all going to disappear or I would never remember it. We spend about three hours touring the Alhambra and the Generalife gardens and it was just a fantastic day! History can be so impressive and the amount of detail the buildings contain is just unreal; I couldn't help but think what it would be like to live there and have all that made especially for your pleasure! Emperors sure knew what luxury was, even back then!

Well, I feel like those are the most interesting things that have happened in the past weeks, but I will do my best to keep you all updated better in the future. Hopefully Colleen and I are going to go to a Flamenco show this weekend!
Here are some pictures.

Ciao!

Outside of the Cathedral

The main alter

Nasrid Palace, the Alhambra

Detailed archways

Me in the Generalife Gardens