Sunday, April 28, 2013

Peace Out April

I can't believe this is the last weekend in April! Life does move fast after spring break and when the weather starts getting warmer and the days longer:) It is also starting to be countdown time until the last day of school at work (June 17th for students!), so that makes my days and weeks easier since I know the end is near!

It is also the beginning of wedding season, and I kicked off the start of the 2013 weddings with a shower for my friend Alyson this weekend. We met in grad school and had most all of our classes together for two years! We also lived together for a year after grad school. She is getting married in June. Her shower was at a clubhouse in Chesterfield County, so it was a bit of a drive for me, but a lovely place.

My friend Elyse!

Me with the bride-to-be!   
After the shower, I met my mom for mani/pedi's and shopping! We were very successful at Old Navy where I bought new jeans, a dress and a cute white jean jacket and then also at Steinmart where I got another two dresses! My wardrobe has to expand with all my special events this summer!

We then met my dad for dinner at Panera and afterwards I went to a coworker's house for a 'Girl's Night' of food, TV and gossip. It was a great day!

Today the clouds have come and I have been cleaning, lounging, and catching up with friends. I hit up my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe's, on Friday evening, so I only had a few things to pick up from Kroger. I am gearing up for a good week food wise (and I guess work wise, too).

Hope your April ends well!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Truth

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: Everyone is in a relationship, getting married, or having babies. And I'm just over here like 'I love cake!'


...which I eat copious amounts of at all their weddings and baby showers:)

Gotta use humor some days to get by! TGIF!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mo' Money

I was watching a commercial the other day about a fancy sleepmaster mattress and it got me thinking about what I would spend my money on if I made, let's say, $15,000 more a year than I do currently (Why $15,000? Well, I wanna make it enough so I would really notice a big difference in my monthly take home income).

Now, I am very good with money. I have spoken before about starting up a Roth IRA, which I maximize each year, and I automatically save a certain amount of money every month. I also have a specific savings for traveling, so I live on much less than what I make but by choice. I am always budget conscious, so I know each month where my money is going before the month even begins (thanks to mint.com and a notebook I keep on my expenses by week). Needless to say, I am not throwing my money away on non-necessities because I LOVE to save money. Whether it will go towards a car, a house or just a rainy day fund, I like knowing I have money if I need it. I think KNOWING I have it is even more fun than SPENDING it. Weird, I know!

Therefore, while I do leave money for enjoyment, I am not going to Starbucks every day, eating out for every meal, going to movies or concerts all the time or going crazy at the mall each week. But here are things I would spend more money on, if I made a little more:
  • Organic Produce
  • Prepared food from Whole Foods so I wouldn't have to cook and could get more nutrients than frozen meals.
  • Travel. I travel frequently as it is, but maybe I would do a few more long weekend trips with a little extra cash!
  • Register for more races. Those torturous runs are expensive!
  • Buy a new car. I may do this anyways, but I DEFINITELY would if I had more $$.
  • Starbucks more than once a week. Maybe twice?!
  • Quality clothes. I always look for deals, so it would be nice to buy what I want as opposed to what I can afford.
  • Heating & Cooling. Turn those suckers up!
  • Spray tans!
  • Quality makeup & facial products
  • More haircuts (and maybe some highlights)
  • Nicer rugs and home furnishings
  • Egyptian cotton sheets
Things that wouldn't change:
  • Eating out. I am not a big believer in spending a lot of money at restaurants. It's a waste and unhealthy.
  • Savings. I already save plenty (hence why I live on a tighter budget than I need to), so I wouldn't change much more of how much I put away. Maybe add an extra $100/month.
  • Where I live. I think I live in the perfect amount of space and in a perfect location for my life now. I don't want to buy a bigger house just to. I like knowing what I have and not having as much to clean:)!
So I think my life wouldn't be much better or change much, but perhaps would be a little more convenient or healthy.

Would you live much differently with more money?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Less isn't More

Something odd has been happening to me lately (besides the awful events going on in Boston- can I get a "thankgodthisweekisover" cheer from anyone?).

I have been losing weight. Without trying. That goal weight I have kept in the back of my head for years that I thought once I reached my life would be magically "better" and "happier" has been achieved.

And you know what? It doesn't make any difference.

I spoke in my post before I ran my half marathon about how training for that race brought me to terms with my body and what it can accomplish. How health is so much more about balance, living healthy and challanging yourself than a silly, arbitrary number that determines if you feel good about yourself or not and does not show your health or worth as a person.

Well, my thoughts on this have been even further reinforced.

Since the half I have kept up with my running, but I have dropped my weekly mileage greatly, and instead of going on long weekend runs, I do anywhere from 3-6 miles a few times a week while still using Saturday or Sunday as my "longer" run days. I have been feeling great. I also have continued tracking my food and nutrients like I did before my half on www.sparkpeople.com, because it is a good way to make sure I am eating balanced and helps me plan my meals. While my calorie needs have decreased, I definitely am still eating plenty and include lots of sugar in my diet! I also went to Spain, and while I ran three times there, I also walked constantly and enjoyed the delicious foods.

When I came back from Spain, I was 3 pounds lighter than when I had run the half marathon. This shocked me because even though we had walked a lot, I had definitely enjoyed the tappas, sangria and chocolate and churros whilst traveling. I figured my weight would level back out once I got back into my normal routine. Then, unexpectedly, this weight has not only continued to stay off, but I have also in the 2 weeks since I have been home dropped another 2 pounds.

Besides thinking I might be dying or have some sort of crazy illness causing this change (I have never dropped weight like this without trying), it has been more eye-opening than anything else. I don't look different and I don't feel different, so why on earth would I think that this was something that would change my life when I thought this would be my "ideal weight?"

As women especially, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look or be a certain way, not only to make ourselves feel good or to look good for other people, but because we honestly believe that if we are our absolute BEST selves (which often has to due with us being at the lowest weight as possible), that will somehow change our life.

But you know what I think? I think we should change our lives by doing things that bring us fulfillment in other ways- running a race for charity, donating blood, being passionate about a job, finding a hobby that brings us joy, helping a friend in need or volunteering to help others.

Weight is selfish. It only benefits yourself (unless you are overweight and then losing weight is preferable for health). If you look around at the world, or on the TV like last night, THAT is what really matters and what really makes a difference. People helping other people. People uniting to make this world a safer place. People supporting one another and working together for a great cause. That is what makes a happier and better life.

These last 5 pounds? They might be gone for now, but I know better. I know that they don't make a difference in my life in terms of how I feel OR how I look. I know that they won't be gone forever (because I honestly do not know what is up with my metabolism right now). Instead, truthfully, I want my clothes to fit me again instead of hanging off of me, and I want to enjoy nights out on the town eating good food and drinking good wine with great friends knowing I am able to get up and run the next morning for miles and miles and miles because my body is strong enough to take me that far.

That is happiness. You should live for your ideal life. Not for your ideal weight.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston

I'm having a really hard time composing this post to truly capture the feelings I have regarding the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Being a runner, a friend of runners and a sister, daughter, cousin, and niece of runners, this hits very close to home. An event that is so innocent and so much about overcoming obstacles, and doing something that is so ingrained as one of the simplest freedoms we have, should be a celebration and not a tragedy. And the fact that the determination and accomplishment of the runners cannot be celebrated in the way they deserve is saddening.

I heard about the news on my way to dinner over the radio. It wasn't until I got home and read more about it that it truly hit me. I sat on my couch crying over what, whoever did this, has taken from me. The safety and security I feel when I run races, just like I did  this past weekend, will never be the same. I will keep running, in fact I am more determined now than ever before, but I will do it with different purpose. I will run for what we are losing in America and around the world. I will run for those who can't or don't think they can. I will run for people whose lives have been lost too soon for whatever reason.

I will run because I can.

I spoke a few years ago about how running has become my form of religion. It is where I do my deepest thinking and examination of my life and goals. For someone to bomb a marathon is like them bombing my church. It is a place of safety, challenges, communication and reflection. To tamper with something like that is a sign to me of how scary this world is becoming. How no one is safe anywhere. Not at work, school, the movies or walking around public streets. It makes me reexamine my life goals and my outlook. Nothing is guaranteed.

So while I won't go around being scared every time I leave my house, I will take this tragedy, like I do when anything bad happens, and use it to steer me in a direction of fulfillment. No one is owed anything in this world, so you have to make the most of your life every single day.

I hope you run today (or sometime soon) for Boston and that you help the healing effort in any way you can.

I will keep running.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

2013 Monument Avenue 10k

The Monument Avenue 10k was special this year because my WHOLE family was in town for the race! Usually I run this with my mom and brother, Nate, but my brother, Brian, and sister-in-law, Abbie, had a conference in D.C. on Saturday night, so they were able to coordinate flying into Richmond so they could run the race Saturday morning before going up to D.C.

Don't we look good for running 6 miles? Probably because we hadn't yet!

Pre-race finish line photo op.


 It was great weather for the race, albeit a little hot for my running liking, but everyone had a great time. I didn't PR like I wanted to, but I hadn't been doing speed work or many long runs because of my trip to Spain. Also, half-marathon training is definitely not one to prepare you for running fast! On my run this weekend my mile times were a minute faster than my half-marathon mile times, and that is a BIG difference in how I feel while I run! I even had to walk for 30 seconds each 5k, so I know my body was not prepared for the speed I went out in. I am hoping to get more speed work in before the Carytown 10k in May. I keep getting within SECONDS of PR'ing, so I think I can do it with proper preparation. I will never be a fast runner, but I think I can cut some seconds here and there for my 10k's!

Brian looks so happy at mile 5!

I am not feeling great but am great at faking it!

Nate looks good, too.

Pretty Monument Avenue in the spring!

Pretty soon to be sister-in-law, Sarah!


After the race we got to watch a few waves finish, but headed home quickly for a Spanish themed lunch before the bro's had to head to D.C.! A nice Friday night and Saturday morning, though.

Some of the fam.

This accurately depicts our sibling picture-taking issues.

Hope you had a great spring weekend!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Videos from Spain

Some videos from my camera from Espana!



Up and coming filmographer? I wish! I still need to work my way into Hollywood somehow...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Travel + Spain

Whenever I come back from a trip abroad, or even from a completely different city where I have experienced a different way of life, I can't help but be amazed at how much our world has to offer. How much there is to learn, see, experience, taste, breathe... how much more to life there is than just our neighborhoods, cities, languages, and traditions. I think of all my students and even some friends that have never or will never get to experience the world through a different culture, region or continent. How I learn more about myself, and about life, in ten days abroad than I do in ten weeks. How so much of what I think matters in my day to day doesn't really matter at all. How there is so much more to live than what I experience daily. And how everyone should experience that.

Parque del Retiro in Madrid
Traveling to me is important. It is why I save like I do and work in a field where I have the luxury of time off. It is how I breathe and believe and taste and dream and learn and commune. I cannot imagine a life without it. A life without travel is a life I do not want to live. Every trip has highs and lows, but the overall beauty I see and feel from every trip is something I cannot put into words. Travel is becoming as essential to me as eating, sleeping, exercising...I have to have it to be my best self. I have to see and learn and experience as much as I can.

Seville
On my trip to Spain, my mom and I were in a cafe in Granada reading Rick Steve's Spain Travel Guide (we swear by Rick Steve's when we travel), and I was reading his introduction to travel and it's importance to who we are as people. I couldn't agree more.

The Alhambra in Granada
"Travel is freedom... one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is intensified living, with maximum thrills per minute. It's recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise, going casual... 

Affording travel is a matter of priorities. (Make do with the old sofa.) You can travel simply, safely, and comfortably anywhere in Europe for $100 a day plus transportation costs. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you came to see. Europe is a cultural carnival, and time after time, you'll find that its best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones. 

A tight budget forces you to travel close to the ground, meeting and communicating with the people. Never sacrifice sleep, nutrition, safety, or cleanliness in the name of budget. Simply enjoy the local-style alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants. 

Extroverts have more fun. If your trip is low on magic moments, kick yourself and make things happen. If you don't enjoy a place, maybe you don't know enough about it. Seek the truth. Recognize tourist traps. Give a culture the benefit of your open mind. See things as different but not better or worse. Any culture has much to share. 

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something's not to your liking, change your liking. Travel is addicting. It can make you a happier American, as well as a citizen of the world. Our Earth is home to nearly 6 billion equally important people. It's humbling to travel and find that people don't envy Americans. Europeans like us, but with all due respect, they wouldn't trade passports. 

Globetrotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures. Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders. Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop. Travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry. "

Royal Palace in Sevilla
I hope you all get to experience what I do when I travel. And if you have never gone out of the country, that you some day are able to. It will make you a better person.

Parc Guell in Barcelona
I was going to post individual recaps of each city we went to, but it would not do any city justice with all the pictures (350+) I took. If you would like to see pictures, I can share my snapfish album with you, so message me and I will send you the code!