I'm a die-hard Washington Capitals fan, and I felt like it was time I told you why.
The Internet has brought amazing people into my world that I NEVER would have met otherwise. It's the coolest thing, and I'm thankful for those people every single day. I've partnered with friends and made ideas come to life, I've joined friends and vlogged for the first time ever, I've met fellow gluten-free vegans...etc.
One of these amazing friends is Bailey. She's one of the very best. She's hosting The Blog-Tember Challenge this month, with a prompt every day for all of September. Because I know myself and know that I could never manage a post a day on top of my regular blogging (and on top of the launch of The Rising too), I'm going to just be picking and choosing different days to jump in on, but I am so excited! Thanks to Bailey for organizing and hosting this awesome challenge!
Today's prompt is this: Introduce yourself however you like! Pics, vlog, collage, your choice :)
So, HI FRIENDS.
I'm Rachel. My initials are RAD, which is why you see them up there in the corner. My favorite color is emerald green (my birthstone), so that's up there in that logo too, and the arrow is significant to me for a lot of reasons. I even got it tattooed on the side of my foot! To me, an arrow is such a simple tool, basically useless on its own. In the hands of a skilled Archer, though, it can go so far and hit a target and actually have an impact. My life is like that-- useless on its own, but in the hands of the One who made me, I can actually go the distance and have an impact for His kingdom because He is the one sending me. It's a reminder to run the race He's set before me, to give Him the glory, and to never be too proud on my own.
I'm an INFJ, and Strengths Finder says my strengths are responsibility, connectedness, belief, intellection, and empathy (if you're into that kind of thing like I am!).
I've been a believer my entire life, and was baptized when I was 7. My testimony is one of brokenness and redemption, heartbreak and healing, trying to live life on my own then learning how to embrace and love community, trying to be self-sufficient, failing, and then learning the sweet, beautiful, radical gift of grace, and a whole lot of falling flat on my face before a Lord that is merciful and so mighty to save me time and time again. I'm daily amazed by Him.
I was born in Maryland, grew up in Arizona, and now live in Virginia. I've learned that home isn't places, but people, love, and a whole lot of pieces put together.
I'm a gluten-free vegan. Yes, it's hard. Yes, I still get my protein. Yes, I love it. No, I don't want to eat a burger, but thanks to everyone who always says that! ;)
I have another tattoo on my arm that I love love love, and you can read the story behind it here.
I love adventure, exploring new cities, finding fun coffeeshops and drinking too much coffee, spending hours in bookstores, being outside, napping in my Eno hammock, traveling, scouring farmers markets for the best fresh produce and WILDFLOWERS, and experiencing everything I can everywhere I go.
I absolutely love sunsets and have been known to dangerously try to capture them in pictures while driving...oops.
I have a braid or a bun in my hair most days. It's a wild mane otherwise, and a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do.
I created this project called Story Seeker last summer as a way to get to truly know new people and swap stories. It has changed my life. You can read the stories here. If you want to share yours, I would be honored and absolutely overjoyed to hear and share it!
I made a bucket list for 2015 and have LOVED how much it has pushed me to do new things!
I'm a liiiiiiittle obsessed with Shark Week. I watch a TON of Food Network and HGTV. I love love love Friday Night Lights, Grey's Anatomy, New Girl, Scandal, Bachelor/Bachelorette (guilty pleasure), Parenthood, Nashville, One Tree Hill, and How to Get Away with Murder. Wow, that's a lot of shows.
I'm a huge hockey fan-- GO CAPS. I grew up going to Phoenix Coyotes games and my high school boyfriend played and loved hockey too, so I got really into it and am now a diehard Washington Capitals fan through good and bad. Other sports? Eh.
I'm learning lately to live my life with eyes open. I want to wake up from my slumber, calm the chaos, and make all of my life matter and be meaningful. I'm choosing to be grateful daily, even when I feel overwhelmed or out of control.
It's so fun to share more about myself, but now I want to know more about YOU. Share a fun fact in the comments, friends! :)
Since I'm currently on a two-week road trip across the country and back, there won't be any new stories this week or next. Have no fear though, here are several amazing stories back brought to life from the archives of the past year!
"Surrendering my own sense of control is something I’ll always struggle with because it is such a deeply rooted habit. In the past year though, I’ve learned the beauty of total surrender. By putting my trust in something bigger than myself, I’m taking a huge risk. But this risk has completely changed me."
this story was originally published july 23, 2014
"The reality of the situation, however, (and the reality I had managed to overlook as I struggled with my decisions) is that I never played the game simply to make the NHL. I play for the sound of skates hitting the ice. I play for the smooth, glistening, fresh-cut sheet. I play for the sweat, the soreness, the pain, and the pressure."
this story was originally published october 8, 2014
"It has now been a year, and we’ve discovered that it is the uncertain, anxious, and expectant waves in our marriage that has taught us to love more than we thought imaginable. In faith, we decided to get married when we did because that’s what we felt God was guiding us to do. Today, we have no doubt about His plan, as He has opened doors left and right for us to continue walking forward in the intention He has for our marriage."
Interested in sharing your story? You'll find everything you need to know here-- drop me an email and let's chat! I can't wait to hear from you.
Earlier this week, my awesome friends Tyler and Ashley Herrinton asked if I would be interested in going to the Caps/Rangers game in DC on Wednesday evening. Of course I jumped at the chance and said yes immediately! I got off of work and asked around to find friends who were free, and we decided to make a day of it.
We left Richmond around 2 pm and literally hit NO traffic on the way...unheard of. We decided to wander around the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum for a while (one of my favorite places in DC by far). I had visited there a few years ago with my friend Griffin Harrington who took an awesome picture of me in front of a neon installation, which we took another picture of this time around-- Inception-style.
We had dinner and drinks at a fun little restaurant called Matchbox before heading to the Verizon Center. Our seats were unreal-- right on the red line, ten rows up. INCREDIBLE. Being there for a big rivalry game was a blast! Unfortunately, we lost 3-1...but it was so much fun regardless of the outcome.
Spontaneous adventures are the best adventures-- it was 12 hours well spent with awesome friends!
Glittery goodness and a GREAT organization? I'm sold. I want basically every single thing in the 31bits new holiday collection!
Soul Desire : This sermon series at Hope is rocking my world in the best way. I can't stop thinking about it and it's changing everything about how I live on the day to day. So good.
How to be "less busy" // This girl can put words to the best and most beautiful parts of life. This one made me smile and made me cry, and I want everyone to read it.
An art show in the open concourse of my church, with poetry on the walls surrounded by images that brought words to life in a perfect, simple, elegant marriage. A friend standing in front of the crowd, reading her words, sharing her heart, unraveling the story of a summer in her life in a mesmerizing way. Another friend beside her on a park bench, magic coming from each note of her cello in an enchanting way. It made me think this: To see art will move you, but to hear the heart of the artist and the story it all will absolutely captivate you. Thankful for that night.
A goal in the last 14 seconds of overtime to bring the W home for my Caps. Cheering wildly with thousands of my fellow fans in a crowded Verizon Center full of people rocking the red.
Apple picking at Carter Mountain with my best friends/small group from JMU...I love when traditions continue even though we are all living in different places these days. The best.
The new CAUSEBOX from Sevenly-- I am all about supporting organizations that give back and are working for social good...and getting a box full of awesome products every few months is AWESOME.
I just registered for the #fireworkpeople Masterclass and am SO excited about it. "The #fireworkpeople masterclass is a live, five-month journey that will help you live the life you’re hungry for, say yes to the fire in your soul, blow up all that is holding you back, and live out your epic-sized purpose to change the world." Yes. So much yes.
JOHNNYSWIM came out with a Christmas album and I all of a sudden became that girl listening to Christmas music in November. Not sorry.
Loved this perspective from my friend David-- Want to Be Depressed? Know Everything.
Made this for dinner earlier this week and have had leftovers for lunch every day and it's just delicious. (Yes, I'm vegan, but I eat seafood occasionally. Let a girl cheat a little bit!)
What are you loving lately? Comment below with your must-reads, must-listens, must-sees, or must-shops!
I was a sophomore in high school and had only lived on the East Coast for a matter of months. The move from Arizona to Virginia had been an incredibly rocky one, and I was struggling to connect with my classmates who had all been friends since childhood and didn't need an intruder in their friend group. Luckily for me, another girl moved to town that year and we became fast friends. It was through her that I met Jordan, a boy who immediately caught my attention and intrigued me.
I remember meeting him for the first time at a pep rally, and him yelling after me in the chaos of the crowds of students flooding the hallways to leave when it ended. Somehow, we connected on social media and I gave him my number, and by the fall of our junior year, we were a couple. I can't think of a single memory from my junior or senior years of high school that didn't involve Jordan-- from trips to the river to picnics in our secret field to countless hours at the rink, we were always together.
If anyone around our high school or town said the word "hockey", I'm certain the first person to come to their minds would have been Jordan. He was intensely passionate about the sport, and that fire defined him. He spent hours on the ice most days, whether at our local rink at practices and games, or traveling around for tournaments. Everyone knew Jordan was the hockey guy.
I knew him as so much more, though. He was more than just an athlete, he was also an artist. He wrote lyrics to songs that were haunting-- layered with intricate and complex meanings I never quite understood, these incredible pieces of poetry that came from the deepest parts of him. He processed his life's experiences and his relationships through the words he penned and rarely showed to the world, and I always felt honored to receive them and get to peek into his soul through them. He loved his family deeply, followed hockey and current events religiously, thought about Boston and living there constantly.
We were similar in many ways-- stubborn, passionate, fiercely loyal, with big dreams and even bigger hearts. We both have pretty intense personalities, which led to more disagreements and arguments than either of us probably care to remember. We always came back together, though, the pull between us always winning over our own stubborn strong wills.
During the two years I spent with him, I never saw him seem more alive and free than when he was on the ice. It was the place he was most himself, the place where the rest of the world faded away and he could lose himself in the game. It was his first love, and he made it all look effortless. It was captivating to watch, and I, too, fell in love with the sport as I watched him play it. I'm a huge Capitals fan now because of him-- we stayed up late so many nights in high school watching games, analyzing plays, talking about the players and their stats, cheering like crazy when we scored or won a game.
I went off to college after our last high school summer, and he went off to play hockey. Our paths diverged as we chased our dreams, but we reconnected at a Starbucks in our home town a few years later. As I listened to him talk about where hockey had taken him and how it had changed him, I was amazed at his resilience and dedication to it all. We've stayed close friends over the years, and I've loved keeping up with all of the things he's doing in his new life in Boston.
I always knew he would be intertwined with hockey forever, in one way or another. He's given more to it than I've ever seen anyone give to a sport, and although it hasn't been an easy path, he has impressed me with his perseverance and endless passion.
Here's his story.
My name is Jordan and I am a 22 year old senior at Boston University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English. I play club hockey for BU and, over the course of the last year, have been working for Harpoon Brewery in Boston’s seaport district as a tour guide/bartender. Born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Richmond, Virginia, I adopted a fairly nomadic lifestyle shortly after I graduated high school in 2010. Since that time, I have had brief stints in northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New York, Connecticut, and most recently the greater Boston area. On paper, my transience generally suggests that I am simply an indecisive person, while the reality is quite the opposite. Since age 8, I’ve been cursed with the insatiable passion for ice hockey, and I was resolute in immortalizing that love as I gradually carted my hockey bag up the east coast in search of more competitive opportunities.
We pick up in June of 2010 somewhere in the depths of a wealthy Maryland suburb. I am here with my stepfather, Shawn, and I have come to interview with the former Washington Capital and current sports broadcaster for the team, Craig Laughlin in order to earn a spot in his summer-long ice hockey development camp, NHDP. As he stares me down across an antique coffee table, all I can think about is how important this program will be for my growth as a player and how it’s my last real option in order to position myself for a college or professional hockey career. With high school graduation merely one week away, I know that come August, while all of my friends are shopping for comforters and MacBooks, I’ll be packing to go play junior hockey for an undetermined number of years in the hopes of acquiring an athletic scholarship to a competitive school.
Hardly anyone who knew me at the time even knew what junior hockey was, let alone what it could mean for a kid from Virginia. Plenty of folks scoffed when I told them I wasn’t planning on going straight to college and that this was my only chance to make a real run at this sort of thing. As far as they (and most of my teachers) were concerned, I was simply a good student who was throwing everything away in exchange for a temporary hobby. That didn’t matter.
Odds are, anyone who has ever played the sport before has fallen in love with it in the same way that I did, and they will all quote the same idol— The Great One, Wayne Gretzky—in saying: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to get a degree, but college is a constant option and competitive hockey is not.
The following fall, I signed a one-year contract with the Frederick Freeze, a fairly young junior team based in Maryland. I moved in with a host family for the year, and a week after training camp, I was named captain of the Freeze.
The season began in October and lasted through mid-March, and although the team saw limited success and barely missed the playoffs, we traveled all over the northeast gaining exposure to scouts and having plenty of fun along the way. I already had begun to see results from the summer development camp, having been nominated for the Empire Junior Hockey League All-Star Game and finishing the year leading the team in points.
It was the combination of those results, along with another summer of development at NHDP that landed me a fresh contract with the Bay State Breakers in Massachusetts. Having always had my heart set on Boston University and the city as a whole, signing with the Breakers seemed to be a perfect fit.
I spent the 2011-12 season living in a house with the rest of my out-of-state- teammates and enjoying every second of it. My ice time, however, took a dive after a number of difficult injuries that kept me away from the rink for a good chunk of the season. After losing in the first round of playoffs that year and not receiving any real offers from any of my desired schools, I was faced with one of the hardest decisions of my life: whether to do it all again for one last year or go straight to school and possibly stop playing.
I was eager to make up for lost time academically, but the thought of hanging up the skates was almost unbearable. So, I flew around the country to participate in various tryout tournaments and speak to coaches in the offseason, but I never quite felt comfortable with any of the options I had, so I took that to mean that maybe I had already reached my peak and there was not going to be an upgrade by fall 2012.
The discouragement made the decision for me. I attended Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut in the fall of 2012. It was tough to swallow the pill of all that dedication, money, and time failing to yield the success I envisioned. I was forced to ask myself: Aside from becoming a better player, what did all of this yield? I was now stuck in the rural countryside of Connecticut without any hockey in my life.
For the first time in school history, QU had a competitive Division 1 team; so competitive in fact, that they were the best team in college hockey all season long and ran all the way to the NCAA National Championship. Needless to say, dumb luck played a key role in preventing me from trying out and walking on to the team that year. On top of all that, the school did not offer a club-level hockey team as a substitute, so no competitive hockey was readily available for me, dampening my spirits even further.
And while I thought the discouragement was painful, the shame was even worse. For someone like me who prides himself on such passion and his dedication to it, self-accountability is paramount.
It became difficult to look in the mirror and avoid feeling as though I had betrayed everyone who had supported me throughout. Fostering this kind of guilt forces you to admit to failure. A guy can only take so much of that feeling before changes must be made. I began to understand why hockey players never seem to stray too far from the game after retirement. I had to get it back.
I applied for transfer to Boston University in order to get back to the area and the hockey I loved the most. When I finally received my acceptance letter, I had already been in contact with the coach of the club hockey program, who inspected my resume and encouraged me to tryout. I made the team a few months later and I felt more comfortable playing for the Terriers than I had in all of the 14 years of prior hockey.
The irony of that statement is that last season was arguably my least productive season on the scoreboard, and the team saw even less production in the standings. Were those factors frustrating? Absolutely. It is impossible for a competitive mind to accept anything less than perfection.
The reality of the situation, however, (and the reality I had managed to overlook as I struggled with my decisions) is that I never played the game simply to make the NHL. I play for the sound of skates hitting the ice. I play for the smooth, glistening, fresh-cut sheet. I play for the sweat, the soreness, the pain, and the pressure.
Sure, dreams were established and pursued, but for me, the means always justified the ends. If I hadn’t done what I did after high school, or after junior hockey, or after my first year of college, I never would have learned to read and react to the roadblocks I encountered in the same way I would an impending body check. I would have more regrets than I do now, even knowing full well that I will never make the NHL. I never would have learned that success is subjective and passion is impervious to goals, wins, trophies, or paychecks.
True passions—the ones that keep you up at night and burn in the darkest corners of your heart—they’re the ones that allow your dreams and aspirations to adapt to realities as they present themselves, and with that adaptation comes peace of mind.