Monday, June 30, 2014

No Such Thing

This past weekend was, for me, one of those where — as much as you enjoy it in the moment — you look back on it Monday morning and think "Whew, glad that one's over."

Nothing bad, and barely anything remarkable, happened. But let's just say I'm happy to be starting a fresh week and looking forward to the coming 4th of July {HOW IS IT HERE ALREADY?!} weekend.

So yesterday I kept the day for myself — cleaned my apartment, cleaned out drawers and cabinets, did a detoxing yoga practice, caught up on some shows — and at some point I found myself tuning in and out of Golden Girls on the boob tube. {Go ahead. Say something bad about Golden Girls.}

One scene really caught my attention though: Sophia is dispensing some advice to the rest of the girls:
"Let me tell you girls the three most important things I learned about life: Number one, hold fast to your friends; number two, there's no such thing as security; and number three, don't go see Ishtar. Woof."

My ears were particularly perked at number two, though.
"There's no such thing as security."

As a  person who spends an obnoxious amount of her time planning, listing, reviewing, planning, revising, and planning again, this is a fucking scary concept.

A lot of you know I'm in the middle of "figuring some things out" right now. I'm moving in September — my landlord has been informed and my apartment hunt is officially underway — and with that comes a new phase of life, the roommate-less living stage, which I'm so amped for, but which brings a few new challenges.

I'm reconsidering some things about my career and plans I made for myself back before I  knew where life would lead me. That alone is scary to contemplate, let alone take action steps on.

The thing is, you {I} can plan and plan and plan and plan and plan, and then plan some more. I can think about every possible problem, hurdle, curveball I may encounter on this particular path. But without fail, life will always hand you something you could never have planned for. And when that happens, the whole concept of "security" you've created for yourself through careful, thorough planning, can be shot to hell.

I wish I could resolve to let this knowledge lead me to a less plan-happy, more take-life-as-it-comes place. And while in some respects I do sort of find the flow and follow it, I've never been the type of person who is okay with "letting life happen to me."

I've never achieved anything worth having that I didn't work diligently toward, and I have no intention of starting now. But what about the knowledge that even those things I fight for tooth and nail can be taken from me, or vanish without a trace, in the blink of an eye? Is it still worth enduring the fight, writing the plan, counting on the future, if I know that there's no such thing as security?

I say yes, but with a caveat.

I'm still working on what that caveat is, though. So far all I've gotten is "Yes, but...."

Is the "but" telling me to make more plans, like a whole alphabet's worth just in case my plan A comes crashing down? Is it telling me to ditch every plan I've made and wait around to see what happens next? I have to think there's some middle ground, where I can plan for security and yet still not have my world shaken when that security is inevitably pulled out from under me. I'm trying to make out what it looks like, but I'm still a good distance away and the view is a bit fuzzy. If you know what it looks like, please do be a peach and share.

Today's a great day for a ramble blog, isn't it? I hope all of you had delightful weekends and easy Monday mornings.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday: The Slow Dancing Edition

Good gracious. Looks like someone is totally off her game this Friday. {Note my conspicuous absence from Amanda's amazing weekly link up.}

Honestly? Last night after I came home from the group run — which we stayed at a bit longer than usual, chatting with some newcomers and making new running buddies — I looked at my list of things to do {ice roll my foot (I'm still nursing an injury), make dinner, some other blog chores, some restorative post-run yoga and headstand practice, clean my apartment, wash my sweaty self, contemplate roughly seven different career change paths...} and writing a post for today, plus finding and editing photos, was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. To be frank, I just... didn't feel like it.
I would really like to be here today, please. I would also like this post to not be picture-less. {via}
And I didn't start blogging — this time, or any other time before — to post crap just for the hell of it. {Which maybe makes this post seem contradictory? It's not though, for some reason. I'm writing it from the heart or whatever.}

So I'm going to sit out this Friday's favoriting fun and let this workweek peter out until it's officially the freakin' weekend. It's going to be a busy one and every time I breathe I find myself trying to cram one more thing into my plans. Thank god next week is a short week — but can you believe that one week from today is already the 4th of July!?

Anyway, since this is the lamest post in all of ever, why not check out some posts I've actually not completely sucked at writing?

What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it's a good one! 
{Linking up with Whitney and tuning into this song like crazy lately.}

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why I Run

Six months ago, on December 26, 2013, I did something that shocked pretty much everyone who has ever met me.

I went out for a run. {Read more about my life on the run here.}

Today, it's exactly six months, four races, and a couple hundred miles later, and I'm a changed woman. Running has been, without a doubt, the best thing I've ever done for myself. Aside from one nasty little habit, I was still healthy before I ran — ate clean, worked out, practiced mindfulness, set and kept to healthy boundaries — but the sense of whole wellness I have now trumps it by a long shot.

There are so many reasons I started my life on the run: I'd always wanted to try it as a meditative exercise; it's a workout I can do at any age, at any place, wherever I am; I needed to introduce a cardio routine into my life; the list goes on.
But now, six months later, those pale into comparison to what keeps me on the road. Why do I run?

Before I ran, the time I spent outside was largely at the mercy of other friends who had to be pried out the door for adventures, patio cocktails, and hikes. Now I never need a reason to spend hours with the great outdoors — just my running shoes.

Long, solo runs with nothing but my favorite playlist have replaced brooding in my apartment, venting over booze and bad food, and aimless drives as methods to clear my mind and lift my mood.

There are few better ways to merge charity with looking after my own health.

Every step I take is proof that I can do anything if I care enough to start, and to keep trying.

Each time I feel like giving up, I learn the depths of my strength and willpower.
I never knew how strong my mind could be until I started running.

Even though I've been working on meditation for years, it tends to come so easily on a run. Running is the only time where I truly feel stillness and silence in my mind.

Each injury or running pain is a chance for me to pull back, reflect, listen to my body, and regroup.

I have never been more aware of and in tune with my body as I am now that I run.

The running community is one of the kindest, warmest, most welcoming groups of people I've ever encountered.
Feeling welcomed by the running community has reinforced to me the importance of removing toxic influences from my life.

Running has shown me who in my life is waiting to see me fail, and who is cheering for me louder than I ever knew.

As a goal-oriented person, I have never set — and smashed — as many personal goals as I have in the last six months. Case in point: At Sunday's race, I was outwardly hoping to just break my PR. Inside, I was dying to get below 28:00. You know what happened there.

Every mile I run is a mile I never thought I would conquer, and shows me how capable I never knew I was.
Every time I add a run to my calendar and watch my mileage grow, I'm overcome with a sense of accomplishment few things in my life have brought me in the past.

Each run I set out on tests me, challenges me, and rewards me all at once.

Runner's high is real.

As is the high when Boston Marathoners tell you that you "have what it takes to be great."

I never thought I would be able to honestly say the words: "I'm in training for a half marathon." BOOM.

Running forces me to maintain other healthy habits, especially those that have been challenges for me all my life.

If I hadn't started running, I would still be a pack-a-day smoker.

For these and for so many more reasons, I run to be the person I feel like I was supposed to become.
I run because every step I take helps me to know and be my best self.


I don't write this to pat myself on the back for managing to run a couple of 5ks. But because I'm cheesy, today feels like a special day. A day worth commemorating. And a day worth pausing on and looking back so that I can say... holy shit. I think I'm a runner.

It feels like I've been running my whole life, yet it feels like the past six months just flew by. I can't wait to see where I am in another six months, and where this journey takes me. I wonder what else I can do...

What makes you feel like your best self? If you run, what keeps you out on the road?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Snap, Crackle, Pop

On Wednesdays, we use every cop-out imaginable and avoid putting any actual effort into our posts — or at least I do. Or am, this week. Kidding! Kind of.

Two of my favorite bloggers are owed big thanks for today's post. I think I'm getting sick, ugh — I was trying to convince myself that the sore throat I woke up with Monday was just from allergies, but my whole-body soreness on Tuesday had me thinking otherwise. So my brain isn't firing on all cylinders today.

Thankfully, it's Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions. And since Kristen asked me to share some things about myself {and because I'm a total sucker for a survey of any sort}, what better occasion to blend the two?

Vodka and Soda

1. What's a nickname only your family calls you?
Most of my family calls me Allie, and only a few friends — mostly people who are super close with my family too, or who have known me since I was a tot — use Allie too. And then there's my big brother, who calls me Earl. Actually, now that I think of it, my family calls me Al more than anything else. How feminine.

2. What's a weird habit of yours?
Welp, I have OCD so most of my daily behaviors are considered weird habits by functioning members of the human race. I'm also aggressively Type A and obnoxiously organized, so let's say the 5,000 things I do each day to keep order are weird habits.

3. Do you have any weird phobias?
I used to have a pretty severe case of ornithophobia {fear of birds — I actually needed an alternate assignment when my high school English teacher wanted us to page/screen compare The Birds}, but I've gained quite a bit of control over it in the last handful of years. I do still very much have arachnophobia though, but that's not weird. That's just normal.

4. Hey Kristen, what happened to number 4?

5. What's one of your biggest pet peeves?
Poor grammar. Specifically, using the incorrect your/you're, their/there/they're, too/two/to.

6. What's one of your nervous habits?
I used to be really bad about biting my nails, but now I mostly bite my cuticles and the insides of my cheeks. Oh, I also have oral fixation. And if I'm chewing gum, which I usually am, I'll pop and snap it like crazy when I'm nervous/bored/deep in thought. And I crack my knuckles, neck, back, ankles, and knees far too often. I'm so annoying. And just realizing now that it asked for one habit, but I've come too far to turn back now.

7. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
This varies with placement of the bed in relation to windows/door, but in my bed I currently sleep on the right side.

8. What was your first stuffed animal and what was its name?
Hmm. I really don't know. It was probably a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal though. 

9. What's the drink you always order at Starbucks or Dunkin?
At Dunkin I usually just go for a hazelnut coffee, hot or iced. I only really drink Starbucks when holiday specials are out, so I rotate the PSL, salted caramel mocha, and brulee latte. Or a passion tea lemonade if you twist my arm in the summer.

10. Which way do you face in the shower?
Away from the water unless I'm rinsing my face.

11. Do you have any weird body skills?
I can pop both my hip bones and my bottom rib bones out of place, and weird flexible stuff other people are for some reason grossed out by {thanks, yoga!}.

12. What is your favorite comfort food that you know is bad for you but you eat it anyway?
My favorites are foods I can no longer eat since I finally figured out that gluten has been messing with me my whole life, but they were lasagna/manicotti/stuffed shells/baked macaroni & cheese/virtually any combination of noodle and excessive cheese. Now when I really need comfort food I usually make rice with lots of "butter" {see: "dairy & soy free buttery spread"}, salt and garlic. Or gluten-free pretzels drenched in peanut butter.

13. What is a phrase or exclamation you always say?
"That's aggressive." Or any stream of swear words completely unfit for your virgin blog-reading eyes.

14. What do you wear when you go to sleep?
Shorties and a tank in summer, leggings and waffle top in winter.

15. What did you used to wear that you thought was cool and now you realize it wasn't?
Everything. I was a '90s kid. Absolutely everything. UFO pants. Babydoll tees with thong straps pulled up. Jesus Tapdancing Christ, adolescence was a weird time.

As for tags, I think Kristen managed to get a bunch of you in there, so I'll leave this as an open, take-the-lazy-way-out tag party. If you're so inclined, whoever you are, I'd love to see your answers!

As for the rest of you humpday confessors, let's hear about your sins!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Thing I Do

My most astute readers might have picked up on some feelings of restlessness, particularly as related to my 9-5, coming from my corner over here. Over the past couple weeks, prompted by almost nothing but a creeping sensation of immobilization and an overwhelming fatigue, I've started to wonder about something:

Does The Thing I'm Good At have to be The Thing I "Do"?
I love to write. I love to blog here. I love my freelance writing and editing work. I love picking up side projects to write and develop. But I only get to do all those things after I sit at work and write for 8 hours, and don't know if I want to write 12 hours a day, every day.

I especially don't want to write 12 hours a day if eight of those hours are like living in a bad song on repeat. And if I had to chip away at those 12 hours of writing in some way, I'd just cut out the first eight. At least, my current first eight.

I so enjoy my side projects and blogging and freelance work because it's always something different. Even the novel I've been editing for a client for years — seriously, we've been working at it for YEARS! This thing is going to be incredible — is something different each time, because each chapter is different from the last.

When I come here to my blog, I can write about anything from New Jersey to running to weird things about me to my life to my family. I can skip a day if the inspiration isn't striking and I know any output would be of the sub-par variety.

I don't have that luxury from 9-5. And I know 9-5 isn't supposed to be about luxury, and I know the grass is green where you water it, and I know no one is entitled to a "dream job," whatever the hell we pretend that actually means. But 9-5 shouldn't be about moves that are directly opposed to a person's moral code of conduct, right?

I'm trying to determine exactly what kind of change of pace I need. Am I outgrowing my current place as a full-time writer? Or am I outgrowing being a full-time writer? Is the problem my career or my job? Do I just need a nice, long vacation or do I need a greater change? As I wanderlust for new places to see and discover in my personal time, am I wanderlusting for a new kind of normal too?

Just because writing is one thing I'm good at doesn't mean it's the only thing I'm good at. Just because it's something I enjoy doesn't mean it's the only thing I enjoy. And just because I decided to do it for a living three years ago doesn't mean it's the only career I'd ever like to have. I've had dreams about running a cafe in my grandmother's honor. Owning a traveling yoga center. Writing YA fiction from a Costa Rican hideaway. Working with troubled teens on a personal level. Life coaching. Wellness counseling. So many ideal careers, so unrealistic to think I can have any of them.

Because here's the rub: Technically, writing is probably the only thing I'm "qualified" to do.

{I'm going to reserve my feelings about job qualifications and hiring managers and the job market for millennials here because I don't feel like having a rage attack all over my blog. That's not fair to you guys. Suffice it to say, having worked toward an education degree — then backing out after every working teacher I knew got royally screwed by their district during my senior year/student teaching semester — and having spent the last three years writing on K-12 and higher education and post-graduate career-planning, I have some strong feelings about how schools and colleges "prepare" students for life after graduation. Maybe I'll get into it another day.}

{If you're dying to know, just give me half a drink and say the words and "choosing a major" to me and sit back while it all comes out. Also, in case it wasn't clear, I'm aggressively pro-teacher, but I don't have faith in the current system.}

So anyway. Where was I?

Right. Trying to explain how I'm feeling about my career at the moment without launching into a diatribe about my feelings on how we structure our working lives and our priorities here in America.


So anyway, I do adore writing. It's where I feel at home, it's where I feel confident, it's where I feel powerful and understood and in control and safe. But I feel none of those things at my office desk.

And there are so many other things that fill me with joy. Animals. Running. Children {other people's, exclusively}. Tattoos. Art culture. Nature. Yoga. Cooking. Youth advocacy. Reading. Wellness. Wouldn't it be just the sweetest thing if I didn't have to pick just one thing as a way to use my skills, passion, and interest toward a sustainable career?

But that's not how we've set things up here. If you aren't using your degree, you've failed somehow. Oh, but you have to make a decision on that degree when you're 18 or so. Before you can be trusted to order a beer at the bar, you're trusted with the decision to "declare a major," a practice that, in theory, will decide the next 40 or 50 years of your life. Makes perfect sense.

I'm not saying I picked the wrong major. My English degree has served me well, and I don't really believe in the concept of a "useless degree." But can I go back now and get another one in art? Or in sports medicine? Or in food science? Or social work? Or a certification to teach yoga?

No, I can't. Because I'd go bankrupt and have to relocate to a refrigerator box on the side of Route 46 before I even got through a semester.

So where do I go from here?

That's an excellent question. All I know is that I need something to give. And that if I have to spend too much longer going numb in the butt because my job demands that I sit at a desk all day, I might lose the one shred of sanity I miraculously have left.

Writer, out.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle

As far as perfect summer weekends go, I'm not sure they get much better than this one. Friday night I found myself sitting out under the stars with some cousins, tipping back Angry Orchards and swapping war stories. When the weather is as nice as it has been lately, there's no reason at all not to be outside soaking up every damn bit of it.

Saturday was the official first day of summer. I kicked off the season with a hike
a trip to the farmers market
and lunch — complete with my first gin & tonic of the season.  :)
I really can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning in summer. I feel really blessed to have so easily been able to do all those things. My friend and I got to chatting about where we live over lunch, because it was one of those days where I can't imagine living anywhere but NJ.

From my town, I can be in NYC — arguably the greatest city in the world — in 20 minutes; I'm far enough away to enjoy a storybook suburb. In less than an hour, I can be at a real beach, on the Atlantic Ocean, with all the trappings of shore life. If I go an hour in the other direction, I can be in the foothills of the Appalachian Trail, or at a secluded waterfall, or on a full working farm. I feel like that's something pretty unique to NJ, and that's not even scratching the surface of why I love living here.
My farmers market haul: gluten-free banana bread & fresh cuke + cherry tomatoes — need those for my favorite summer salad
I know it gets a bad wrap, and I know there are farmers markets and hiking trails in other states. But all of that plus so much more add up to New Jersey probably being the only place I'll ever call home. I love this place. Everything about living here just makes me happy. Except for the humidity. But it's a small trade-off.  :)


On Sunday, Claire and I participated in the Lager Run 5k, hosted by a nearby pub in partnership with the running shop we frequent.
Pre-race: Ready and raring to go!
I'm certain it's because of all the amazing cheerleaders I have here {thanks you guys!}, but I astounded even myself in this race. I've never shared my race stats here before, because compared to some other running bloggers I know, my numbers are nothing to write home about. But to show you guys why I'm as ecstatic as I am, here they are:

Official PR (Apple Chase 5k): 29:05
Unofficial PR (Timed 3.1mi training run): 28:44
New PR (Fitzgerald's Lager Run 5k (yesterday)): 26:37
Post-race: That's water all over me, it wasn't that hot out.
No, I have no idea how I did it. When I hit mile one and saw 8:40 — a solid 30 seconds better than my previous best recorded mile — I was in shock. I ran the whole race with no pain and I'm having a really, really hard time recalling a moment in my life where I've felt more powerful than I do as a result of this race. {Just a reminder, 6 months ago I couldn't run one tenth of a mile. Who do I think I even am right now?}

I want to wax emotional about running right now but I'll save it for another day. But thanks to all you fine people who wished me luck and cheered me on from afar!
Claire & I with one of our buddies from group runs, who wasn't coerced into taking the photo, despite what it looks like.
Also, big shoutout to the kids who live on the race route and were out there with garden hoses cooling off the runners. And big kisses to the Boston finisher I chatted with post race who told me I had impressive form and that I "have what it takes to be great." Seriously, someone pinch me, and then punch me in the face for good measure.

Enough about me! How was your first weekend of summer??

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday: The 'Hello, Gorgeous' Edition

You must know that I am a sucker for tradition, and the Friday linkup party has become one of my absolute favorites — no small thanks to great hostesses. But I dig me some variety too; it is the spice of life and all that. So I'm turning this High Five for Friday // Friday Favorites // Back That Azz Up post on its ear and going with a fun little theme in honor of Saturday's most holiest of occasions, the long-anticipated arrival of the lovely and scandalous minx herself, the First Day of Summer.

ONE // Living in the garden state, you bet your ass we have more than our fair share of delicious fresh produce. There's a farmer's market every time you turn around and plenty of people grow their own. {Thanks to apartment living, I am not one of those people, sadly.} Biting into a fresh fruit is never easier than in a Jersey summer, and this super easy summer salad is on my rotation all season long:
Grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered // red onion, sliced // cucumber, sliced and quartered // generous drizzle of olive oil // small splash of red wine vinegar // a couple good shakes of Italian seasoning {basil, parsley, oregano} // salt and pepper to taste // toss, chill, enjoy within two days!

TWO // There's something that happens when summer hours set in and the nights stay light til 8 p.m., and then dusk dances over your neighborhood setting the perfect light for a chat with someone you love on a patio or deck. The unassuming light is the perfect backdrop for the most intimate conversations — you know the ones I mean: Where looking directly into their eyes is just a tad intimidating, them looking at you leaves you a bit too vulnerable, but a gentle light on a reassuring glance is all you need to keep on going. Some of the most important conversations of my life have been had in summer evenings on the cusp of darkness.
THREE // And I love that those nights are followed by warm, sunny mornings. No matter if you're waking up with your patio partner from the previous night or by yourself as you gear up for another day of the grind, the morning light of summer and the warmth that comes with it is so much more inviting than those cold, gray mornings of January. It is remarkably easier for this night-owl to wake up, ready and raring to take on another day, on a June morning, and it makes all the difference.

FOUR // Since we know it'll fade before we know it, it seems like everyone gets outside to take advantage of the sun and the warmth while we have it in the summertime. Last night after our group run with the running shop, Claire and I moseyed a couple of blocks down and cursed ourselves for not tossing our yoga mats into my car earlier: A local studio was hosting a big outdoor event on one of the cutest blocks of shops and restaurants in town. We watched from the sidelines for a bit as dozens of yogis made their way through sun salutations before hopping in, sneaker-clad and sans mats, to move through a couple of asanas. Things like this only happen in the summer — next time hopefully we'll have a heads up and come prepared.

FIVE // Someone, please, tell me what is more relaxing than a good summer cocktail — gin & tonic is my favorite this time of year — enjoyed while the sun sets before your eyes? Nothing, that's what. And one of the sweetest places to do that in my area is a pub called Fitzgerald's 1928. Which leads me to my honorable mention number six: racing season.
Sunday will be my fourth race, another 5k, {apparently I'm gonna be the girl who goes right from 3.1 to 13.1 — it's cool} hosted by Fitzgerald's. We're really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, as the running shop we love partners with the other race sponsors for this event, and enjoying some cocktails and fun after — the event is also sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, and the evening race always wraps up with some summery sips. I'm hoping for a PR in this race, but given that I've been nursing some foot pain for going on two weeks now, I'm aiming to stay healthy more than anything else.

Tell me your favorite things about summer! Do you have any plans to officially welcome the season this weekend?
Y'all are welcome.

// Linking up with the best Friday party on the block || Whitney + Amanda + Lauren \\

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Never Sleep in Your Makeup & Other Important Things

  1. If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all. There's no need to introduce negativity into the world — or your mouth — just for the sake of chatter.
  2. Unless you're in need of a vent session. Yes, these are two different things. When venting, get it all out to someone you trust and who you are sure will not feel poisoned by your need to rid the poison from your own mind.
  3. Drink 64 ounces of water and the juice of half a lemon every day.
  4. Wash your makeup off every night before bed and go without any makeup at all at least one day a week.
  5. Take care of the things you value. To both materials and immaterial possessions, this applies. If you take care of the things you value, you will be able to have them and enjoy them for a long time.
  6. There is never any reason to pay full price for clothing.
  7. Meditate.
  8. When you want to work out the least is when you need it the most. And you'll never regret squeezing in that 20 minutes of cardio.
  9. Coffee is so much more than just a morning beverage.

What are your rules to live by?

Oh, and psst — I'm posting over at Ruffled Feathers, the Feather Magazine editors' blog today. Go take a look at our list of summer sunning must-haves!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'm Concerned About My Coccyx

I promised you guys I'd be back in the Humpday Confessions saddle today. {Big thanks for letting me get a little mellow yellow last week.}

I'm pleased as punch to be linking up with Kathy yet again for our weekly tradition of unburdening our consciences of all our sins and confessions. And especially because we've got ourselves a new piece of eye candy to enjoy this week ;)

Vodka and Soda

Let's get a move on...

I still haven't watched season two of Orange is the New Black, but I am almost through my nineteenth run-through of the entire series of Entourage. Priorities.

I may or may not or may definitely have gotten all the warm fuzzies ever in the world after you guys were so supportive and encouraging yesterday after I announced my newest race goal. You give some great advice and are the best cheerleaders in the world. Thank you, beautiful people.

It's incredibly inappropriate how often I contemplate moving my pre-scheduled chiropractic appointment up for the teeniest tiniest reasons just so I can see my dream boat of a chiropractor sooner. Also, like for chiropractic stuff. Sore coccyx. Ya know.

I definitely giggle to myself 67% of the time I say or hear the word "coccyx" because maturity has no place here.


Since I came back from my four-day weekend on Monday, I've been counting down the workdays until the 4th of July. You know what definitely doesn't make time go any faster? Counting down days.

I TOTALLY blogged from the bathtub last night as I soothed my achy, injured feet in an ice bath. So if you got a blog comment from me after 9:30 p.m., yeah, chances are I was in le tub when I wrote it.

I loved it, loved it, loved it for a solid six months. I backed my azz up to it all winter long. It was my go-to jam. It gave me all the good feels and was good enough to ignore that it gave me bad feels too. It made me belt and close my eyes while singing. But I think if I hear "Latch" one more time I might start twitching. Can we start listening to other Disclosure songs now please?

And other Sam Smith songs too?

Back to running. It finally happened. Lost a toenail. This is so gross, I can't believe I'm writing it on the Internet. But I think it gives me street cred as a runner so it stays. #ashamed #exceptnotreally

I made a quick tomato/cuke/red onion salad last night and my ratios were horrendously off like some kind of goddamn amateur. I had twice as much tomato as cucumber and three times as much red onion. It may have been thanks to running-in-heat-induced delirium. My apartment was 88 degrees until 10:30, so I'm going with that.

I still and will always love Boone. :'(

Yes, I just made a reference to Lost in 2014 due to the picture above. Don't worry, I am appropriately ashamed of myself.

Just kidding. Lost rules.

Spill it, ladies. what are your confessions?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pillow Talk

If you guys knew how many times I started writing a post for today and then realized a few words in how much of a waste of time it was about to be and then deleted it, only to stare at a blank screen, like I spend so much of my time doing, you would leave me forever and never come back because you're smart enough not to support a crazy person in her blogging endeavors.

Lucky for me I didn't tell you about any of that so you have no idea of it.

I haven't stopped in days and it's starting to feel like I don't know which way is up. There are so many things to be constantly thinking about and making a plan on that taking 5 minutes to stop thinking feels like I'm wasting precious planning time. I like being busy for the most part, but I don't like being stressed — not that I'm ever not at least a little bit stressed — and I have a mix of both happening right now...

I've decided to register for a half marathon this October. If I can pull it off, I'll have gone from having to stop after less than one full minute of running to running 13.1 miles in one shot in exactly 10 months.

I'm a bit superstitious, and part of me is concerned that by announcing this on the blog I'll be plagued by injury between now and October. I'm planning to begin following a recommended training plan in about four weeks to help me healthily reach half marathon ready. AHHHHH.

Summer has officially been kicked off on a super high note following Memorial Day Weekend and last weekend with Dave. I'm so looking forward to all the rest we have planned for the next couple of weeks, and also for all the fun things that can only pop up spontaneously and be welcome in the freedom of summer. But part of me is already nostalgic for this summer, because I know it always flies by, and part of me wants this one to fly by, in fact.

I'm about to begin apartment hunting, and looking around for a couple of other new things — things to take up on the side and things that will take up a good, healthy chunk of my time and energy. {One of those things being Feather Magazine — are you on the mailing list yet?!} I'll share more about all these things once I have the green light and love you to the end of the earth and back for being patient with me until more of my free time is free again.

I've been offered an opportunity to advertise on this ol' blog here, which was a complete and total surprise. A flattering one, to be sure. Given the above item, though, I decided that now is not the time to begin introducing sponsored content here; however, if opportunities come up in the future, I hope you guys will understand why I would be likely to accept — for the benefit of this blog's expansion and maintenance, and in turn, the benefit of you readers who for some inexplicable reason enjoy coming and hanging out with me here. {XOXO} I also hope you know that I would never push on you a product or service I didn't try myself and believe in. Just so we're clear.  :)  But we can talk about all of that another day.

I'm trying to decide if I'm currently in a second phase of my quarter-life crisis. I absolutely had a big, bad one a couple of years ago, and this doesn't feel like that. I don't feel panicked or scared. I don't feel pressured or like I've let anyone down. I'm just starting to feel a lot differently about a lot of things than I did when I was 22. And I don't think that's a bad thing. I think, in fact, that it's kind of the point. I'm not the same person I was then, I don't have the same priorities, influences, and pressures — and that is absolutely a good thing. I feel like I'm in a great place to reorganize and refamiliarize myself with what it is I see happening in the coming years of my life, what I want to happen, and how I'll make it all happen. And for once that's not such a scary thing. It doesn't feel like I'm staring down the barrel of a gun, or scrambling to keep up with anyone else, or lost at sea alone. It feels like my own private September. It feels like everything I used to hope adulthood would be: freedom to make a change; freedom to start something from nothing; freedom to unapologetically be; freedom to learn and create and flourish.

Anyway, this is what my life looks like right now. Maybe it seems terrifying to some people who have everything all figured out and nailed down. But from where I'm standing it looks pretty much like exactly where I'm meant to be. And so I blogged about it, because what the hell else was I supposed to blog about today?

What's up in your world?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good Good Time

I don't even know where to begin.

I'm trying to sum up one of the best weekends of my year in a blog post that will not be a total snooze-fest for non-DMB fans and that will not make me sound like an absolute crazy person and will do justice to the incredibleness that was Friday and Saturday nights.

I'm also trying to get this post done before I pass out with my head on my MacBook.

This weekend was my third weekend seeing the Dave Matthews Band at the Susquehanna Bank Center in NJ and my ninth and tenth DMB shows since I decided to stop being an ass and give the band a chance in 2009.

As usual, the boys did not disappoint. Let me just throw this out there: If you're not a DMB fan, learn a little bit about how they play live and see if that changes your mind. If you appreciate music, musicianship, and obscene amounts of talent on one small stage and STILL can't get down with the band after experiencing a live event {recording will suffice}, then I don't know what to tell you.

A lot of non-DMB fans look at me like I'm a lunatic when I say I see them repeatedly at the same venue two nights in a row. Then I have to explain to them that the set lists each night look nothing like one another and that even if they were exactly the same song lists, they would still be completely different. DMB is a jam band, in case you weren't aware, so of a song that's played live for, say, 10 minutes, roughly three of those minutes are actually written. The rest comes on the fly, and it's such a cool thing to experience time and time again.

I'm one of the lunatics who follows the set lists every tour, because I like to see what they've been playing, what might be released on recording, and what songs might come up in the shows I'm attending. This year, man, I dunno. They've been mixing things up like WHAT. I've had a few moments of glory in my day, being able to call songs before they're played or calling show openers and encore closers. But nope. I managed one accurate call {Grey Street, night two} and that's about it. It was, in a word, unbelievable.

Because I know there are a few Dave fans around here, I thought I'd share the set lists {length played not yet available; show notes still sparse} from DMBAlmanac for Night One:

And Night Two:

Just look at those show notes! They gave us their all, that's for damn sure. B and I were beyond thrilled to get #41, an absolute favorite of both of ours and I have to be honest, a performance that was so charged that I got really emotional during it. It's fine, I'm not crazy. I also didn't almost cry during Grey Street or Lie in Our Graves or Die Trying or second night Two Step.

Fun fact: You Might Die Trying is the reason I'm a DMB fan. Listening to a recording {my old friends were all HUGE fans} from their St. Louis live release, on this song at 4:25, late saxophonist LeRoi Moore {RIP Roi} drops in with my favorite dirty sax jam ever, ever, ever. I was hooked from then on. I've gotten it at a handful of shows in the past, and it is always a sweet treat for me.

Second night's Two Step jammed my whole face off and that's all I'm gonna say about that. It's all I CAN say about that. It was a delight to hear that strum to close out the encore for a perfect bookend on the weekend. There's a section at the beginning of the song where Dave improvises the lyrics differently every time, and Saturday night he gave us a little Time Bomb interpolation in that improv space. What. The. What.

I was absolutely shocked about a couple of songs that made it to our set lists {Good Good Time, Raven, Write a Song} and so delighted to keep some streaks alive. I've gotten Grey Street {<3} and Jimi Thing at every show or weekend that I've seen the band. They're such incredible songs so that makes me more than happy.

And I finally, finally, FINALLY broke a streak that I don't even know how existed for five years. Until Friday night, I had never experienced the band playing Warehouse live. You guys. I love this song. They play it often! But never for me. SUCK IT, WAREHOUSE-LESS STREAK, YOU'RE OUTTA HERE.

Oh dear. I think I've lost most of you by now. Hello?

I'll round this out with a couple of grainy, unedited iPhone shots in which you can't even really see anything:

and call it a Monday. A Monday after one of my favorite weekends of the year. Is it 5 yet?

What did you guys do this weekend?

Linking up with B Loved Boston & Champagne and Suburbs for Weekending!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday: The "Are You Serious?" Edition

I'm not even gonna try to lie to you nuggets, this is about to be one disjointed collection of favorites. But I've had a mixed week — some ups, some downs, and a whole lot of are we serious with this shit? — and so picking the highlights led to a whole of weird. But that's okay, because it's finally Friday, and I was off work yesterday and I'm off today, because B and I are driving down south today and in just a couple of hours time we will be standing on the lawn for a very special evening with the Dave Matthews Band. And then tomorrow after a day in Philly with friends, we're gonna do it all over again, bringing my total DMB show count up to 10 since 2009 — six of those being at this same venue. #tradition. Woo!
It pays to get to an 8 p.m. show in the middle of the afternoon: This is GA. // Citi Field, July 2010
Thanks to all of you for staying with me this week — I know I've been less than great about showing up here with something worth your time, but I'm back on track and dancing right into one of my favorite weekends of the year. Now let's get this Friday Favorites show on the road!

Favorite Announcement
I'm so happy to share some news with you guys. Feather Magazine, a brilliant women's online magazine headed up by genius Editor-in-Chief Brianti Downing, which I used to be a part of, is coming back from hiatus at the end of this summer!

I'll be back in the saddle over there as Director of the Life section, which means I'll be contributing as a writer and section editor on the senior staff level. I cannot wait to rejoin this incredible group of women, meet some new, talented writers, and bring great content to readers everywhere.

I'll also be contributing to the editors' blog, Ruffled Feathers, about once a week starting next week. That means I might not be able to show up here every day, so make sure you're following me on Twitter and Instagram so you can find my posts over there so you never have to go a day without me! ;)

Better yet — why not go ahead and follow Feather Magazine on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr and subscribe yourself to the Ruffled Feathers blog?! I promise, you'll love it, and we'll be so happy to have you over there. Help us spread the word — #FeatherIsBack! 

Favorite Kitchen Adventure
The top thing on my To Do list Monday after work was go grocery shopping because there was pretty much nothing at all for me to eat in my house. But I was quite cranky on Monday due to a lack of sleep {busy weekend!} and it was rainy so of course, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was grocery shop. So I went home and convinced myself I didn't even want to eat anyway and then it was 9:30 p.m. and I couldn't lie to myself anymore. In my fridge: fake butter {dairy/soy free "buttery spread"}, iced tea-lemonade, lime juice, vodka sauce and half a package of mini corn tortillas. A recipe for starvation, basically.

I remembered this post I'd found over at Delightfully Tacky, dug out the corn oil, and made these perfectly crispy, slightly salted, tasty, tangy tortilla chips.

Favorite Workout
In case you missed it {what do you mean you don't hang on my every word?!} I've been sitting the last couple of days out from running thanks to a case of plantar fasciitis IN BOTH FEET. It's been fun. I got back in the game last night when Claire and I went for another group run with our local shop, and seeing as I haven't run since Saturday's race and I've been nursing a foot injury, I felt wonderful. It was also my first real run in my new kicks! Feelin' good, feelin' strong. Ready to get back on track!

Favorite Purchase
If my six-month-long running career has taught me anything, it's that a gal of 25 — especially one with a ballet dancing past and absurdly high arches, knee problems, and weak ankles — can't keep prancing around town in flat shoes all the live long day. I love my Chucks, but they don't love my achy arches back. It was time to pick up a new day-to-day kick, so I went Nike.
Don't panic, I'll never give up my Chucks or my flippies. But for the days where I'm on my feet, these babies are my new best friends. Ain't they cute? I think so.

Favorite New Thing
Okay I really had no clue how to categorize this but I wanted it to get a mention. Wednesday night I saw my chiropractor {If you're new here: He's a dream boat and a miracle worker and I adore, adore, adore him.} who is not only, ya know, a trained medical professional, but a pretty legit athlete himself and shares my mentality on natural healing and wellness. So anyway, I gave him the injury report {see above} and he helped me out with some kinesio tape.
I've heard of and seen this stuff before, but I've never used it myself and wasnt sure if it was effective. Since this post is getting aggressively long, let me just stop it here and say: Um, yes. Yes it is. #PRAISE.

How was your week? What are you up to this weekend?

{Fun Fact: This performance from 4:23-5:55 is the reason I became a fan of this band. RIP, Roi.}

Linking up with my favorite Friday crew || WhitneyAmandaLauren

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kill the AC & Other Head-Shaking Things

Weird? Or just different? Inspired by this post by my friend Amanda — who was inspired by this post from my darling Kristen — I've been thinking about quirks of my own. And then wondering when they officially stop being "quirks" and start being the things that make you ineligible to be part of the human species.

10 things I do that usually make people shake their heads or look like this:
  1. Prefer to drink hot coffee and tea on 90-degree summer days, even outside in the sun and in my un-air-conditioned apartment.
  2. Cancel plans or skimp on sleep to finish a really, really good book. See: every single time a new Jodi Picoult novel is released.
  3. Sleep with socks on in the cold months and with something — usually an open-stitch homemade blanket from my mom; I'm drowning in crocheted blankets — covering my waist in the warm months.
  4. Lift up into dancer pose or drop down into pigeon or ballet stretches on the floor in the middle of conversation or while watching a movie... just, ya know. 'Cuz.
  5. Crack my left thumb at least once an hour, and every other knuckle, my neck, back, shoulders, knees and ankles multiple times a day. I'm paying for my chiropractor's next trip to Puerto Rico.
  6. Write yearly, monthly, and daily To Do lists, along with a running task list {which gets divvied up among those three} and running shopping lists broken down by Beauty/Personal Care, Health, Clothes/Shoes, Running, House/Home, Personal/Misc., Gifts, and Grocery. Type A, anybody?
  7. Detest air conditioning, save for a quick cool blast on an obscenely hot day. I'd rather a breeze or a fan and an ice pack at the top of my spine. I get cold too quickly, and I already spend 7 months of the year trying not to freeze to death. Give me my summer heat and just a little sweet relief; that'll be plenty.
  8. Organize my spices alphabetically and by bottle shape.
  9. Not organize my obscene personal library alphabetically, but rather grouped by author and arranged in a size-and-color organization scheme that I am completely unable to put into words. I've tried.
  10. Take off my makeup every night before bed, even if I'm buzzing or dead tired. {How do I manage that, you ask? Makeup remover wipes 2 feet from my bed and the motivation that only comes with having white pillow cases.}
What makes people give you that look?
{And if they actually look like Jason Stackhouse, GIMME.}

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Phoning it In

Hello friends.

I know it's Wednesday, and by all rationale I should be here spilling my guts about all my sins and confessions. It is Humpday, after all. But I hope you'll forgive me for two days in a row of phoning it in.

{In case you missed it: What to Pack for Your Jersey Shore Vacation — my sweet and funny friend Kristen had me over at her place yesterday to talk even more about the great state of NJ!}

But even though I promised a special edition of Humpday Confessions today, I'm just not in quite a confessing mood. I'm okay, don't panic. I SAID DON'T PANIC. I'm fine, but my heart just isn't here today.

Last night I had drinks with my friend — let's call him the Lieutenant — to say a goodbye, of sorts, or maybe a "see you later" if you prefer. He's an officer in the U.S Army and he's heading out of here in just a couple of days to spend the next year in a war zone. I know he'll be fine, and he'll be safe, and he'll be smart. And I know he's trained and highly qualified to do what he'll be doing where he'll be doing it, but man, I hate saying goodbye.
As unsettling as it was to say goodbye to the Lieutenant, it was even harder to be reminded of my life's inextricable intertwinement with the United States military. I mentioned in my Memorial Day post that this girl is no stranger to military personnel — it's like moths to a flame, they're just all around me. And — knock on wood — that's been mostly fine. Well, unless you count the years where my big brother was overseas and would call me at 4 a.m. my time to scold me for whatever his friends ratted me out for doing the weekend before. {Things like, ya know, co-existing with members of the male sex. Gasp.}

Anyway, I've had the military separate me from a lot of people I love for a lot of time, and I'm just growing weary of it I suppose. Yesterday's goodbye struck a particular cord as it reinforced the regret I feel over my inability to say goodbye to another person I adore who shipped off to the other side of the world just a few months ago. I count myself lucky to have seen him while he was on leave, but that's never enough when you have an entire planet separating you for the next year or more.

{Believe me, I know there are people with much worse situations than mine. My heart breaks for military spouses and children, and families who weren't able to have their loved ones returned to them. I can't fathom their struggle and heartache. But I commiserate and have unrelenting empathy for them.}

And now that I've just written basically a whole post about being sad, I'm sorry friends. I'm just feeling a little introverted right now and didn't want to bring the Confessions party down. I'll be back on track next week, don't you fret.

Time for me to wind down my week — I'm off tomorrow and Friday, 'member? Holy sweet relief, batgirls. I need these days off fo' sho'. I'll see you nuggets back here tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I'm Not Here

Good morning, glories.

I wish I had a cheery and happy and sunshiney post today. I really do. Because my ability to muster one up for you would mean that I'm not currently in the stress-and-rage spiral I'm finding myself in. Even though it's a short week for me, "my Friday" {TOMORROW, PRAISE!} cannot come soon enough.

Sometimes you just need a break.

So I'm giving the blog a bit of a break today, but don't worry — I knew you'd be worried — you can find your daily dose of Alyssa over at See You in a Porridge today.

{image via}
My sweet friend Kristen has kindly, generously, and hopefully not stupidly entrusted her blog and her readers to me today while she enjoys some time with her family back home in Australia. Big moves, people — my first guest post from this blog!

So head on over to Kristen's to see my follow-up to persuading everyone to spend some summer nights on the Jersey Shore: your packing list for A Very Jersey Summer Vacation.

Grab your tote and get packing. I'll keep the beach chairs warm until you get here ;)
And don't forget to check back here tomorrow for a special edition of Humpday Confessions! I'll see you soon.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wind Down

In sum of my last couple days, I present to you a nice, easy Monday morning photo spill.

I might have a slight running shoe problem. Slight. Small. Maybe. 
{Second pair of new Sauconys in less than a month says yes.}

I headed down to South Jersey Friday night to spend a bit of time at my mom & step-dad's. My brother and I swung by the reservoir for a couple-mile trail walk. I'm supposed to be resting my feet thanks to a self-diagnosed {and Google/runner friends-confirmed} case of plantar fasciitis, but I needed to get some activity into my day.

Saturday morning was the Color Me Rad 5k. I was joined by my darling coworkers M and K, and a new friend who joined at M's request. 

It was M's first race ever, and we're so proud of her for finishing and just pleased as punch that she had such a good time. I'm hoping I'll be able to find a shot of us all crossing the finish line together, hand in hand.  :)

As far as racing for competition's sake, or even running for running's sake, this isn't the place to go to try to set a PR. It's not the place to go if you don't like being surrounded by thousands of people.

It's a fun run. Many, if not most, people walked at least part of the course. Which is, of course, 100% fine. {Until they stop in the middle of the path to take selfies without any regard for the people around them trying to maneuver through the very dense crowd.}
But all in all, it was a fun way to spend the morning with these ladies and get in a 5k. I probably shouldn't have even run it, honestly, what with the overuse injury to both feet. But what happened happened.

I was toast by Saturday night, so this is how I spent it... and I didn't hate it one bit.

On Sunday, Claire and I went to SketchCon, an expo for local artists here in NJ. There were all types of incredible artists displaying their stuff, from jewelers to photographers to painters to artists combining media in ways I never would have thought possible. The main event — at least for Claire and I — was Christian Masot.

Christian is a tattoo artist and incredibly talented painter who heads up the crew at Silk City Tattoo, where all my tattoos, except my newest one, were inked.

I've been inked by Christian himself only once — his wait list has always demanded I be patient — but that will hopefully change in the fall. I spoke to him yesterday about #12 and I'm pumped to have him do it.

He's an incredibly kind and generous guy, and one hell of an artist. Even though he's tattooed me only once, I've been in his shop hundreds of times over the years, both for my own work and to bring in others hoping to get inked by the masters, and he stops what he's doing every single time to say hey and shoot the shit with me for a couple minutes. It was great to see him at work yesterday.

I wound down Sunday night with a much-dreaded but much-needed ice foot bath. It was horrible. But hopefully it helps me heal and get back on the run soon. And now it's Monday and it's a short week for me — Philly and Dave this weekend! — so I better get to work.

Joining the linkup fun with B Loved Boston & Champagne and Suburbs

How was your weekend?