Monday, February 25, 2013

Lenten Adventure, Part 1

Last year when one of my favorite bloggers embarked on a Lenten Adventure, I thought it was the most brilliant idea ever. For the record, I think what I like the most about OFD is that I can relate as a kid who had a teacher for a mom and also as a daughter and also as the kind of mom I want to be. I suspect I'm not exactly target audience, but whatever.

No surprise that I decided to do it for myself this year. Mindee explains far better than I can the intention behind the adventure, but I love the daily email and am excited about the changes I can already see in myself. And it's only been a week!

Some people say that you should 'suffer in silence' during Lent but since when have I done anything silently? I spent the first few days doing a little bit of self-discovery about what was important to me, what habits I really should kick once and for all, and what things I wanted to add into my life but hadn't found a good enough reason to do it.

At the end I'll share the full list but these are the things I've pulled so far:

1. Cheese
2. Facebook
3. Close parking spaces
4. Twirling my hair
5. Driving to work (except when there is >30% chance of rain during commute hours)
6. Toxic relationships

It's only 6 because the first days were spent reflecting. But seriously - those are basically the worst 6 so it's only uphill from here, right? Except secular music. I'll cry when that one gets pulled. Or adding in running 2 miles every morning. I'll be praying for rain EVERY SINGLE DAY because otherwise I'll be running 2 miles and then biking to work. And then when I pull complaining, I will just have to stop writing blog posts about this.

I rode my bike to work this morning. I've been here for an hour and my legs are still quivering. And last night I was laying in bed and I REALLY missed Facebook and my little bedtime routine of checking FB, Twitter, and then Instagram. But instead I went to sleep earlier, and I was well rested today for my 1.5 mile bike ride. Silver lining...

I may be a totally different person in 30 days, but I guess that's the point. You may not get it from this, but I'm reallyfreakingexcited about this and have big plans to stick to it. I wonder how many of these give-ups and add-ins will stay with me long past the Lenten season?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to get results on the tennis court

I love love love playing mixed doubles. It's my favorite type of tennis (compared to singles and women's doubles).

I've been playing with one of my buddies (see above) for about 6 weeks now, and he has been KILLING me. Double-faulting 2-3 times every time he served, hitting the ball in the net, whaling the ball across 6 courts... you get the idea.

Our match earlier this week was the final straw. I was just not sure how to motivate him anymore. So I did what any good friend would do: I told him that if he could go just 1 game - not a match, not a set, just 1 single game, without double-faulting, I'd find a girl for him to make out with the next time we went out.

We showed up tonight for our match and I totally forgot about the deal I made. I served first and then it was his turn. I should note that he hasn't won a point on his serve once all season.

And no shit, that guy put every single ball of the first point in, and when we won the point, he walked up to me and said "I did it, woman. You owe me."

Who said sex wasn't motivating?

Does Coming Home Always Feel This Normal?

Traveling is such a thrill to me. The prepwork, the excitement when you arrive, the exploration of a totally foreign city... but then it's time to go home. You pack your bags and your belongings don't fit quite right. You return home, and you think "if I were in ___ I'd be doing this right now," or "it's ___ time in ___." You miss your journey, your companions, the experiences you shared. The disappointment of coming home is is never quite enough to mask the joy from the trip. For some, it is a whirlwind cycle of trip --> come home --> plan new trip to cancel out sadness of last trip ending --> repeat.

The 12 Apostles
But what is it that makes us so melancholy about returning home to a place we (mostly) love?

For some, it's the loss of adventure. For others, it means returning to a life they aren't completely satisfied with. And for still more, it means not having something to look forward to.

I had the greatest vacation-high I've ever experienced when I returned from Australia. I felt rejuvenated, enriched, fulfilled, and ready to take on the world. I jumped back into my life with gusto, speaking fondly about my time in Australia and how I felt it changed me.

Sydney from a ferry
Coming home from Argentina brought a similar feeling of elation. I was happy to be home, and I realized that sometimes even the best of friends do not make the perfect traveling buddies. I also learned that traveling solo freaking sucks and I should abandon all hope for enjoying it. What can I say, I thrive off of other people's energy.

Iceland was different for me. I knew the trip would have a lasting impact on my relationship with my best friend. I also knew deep down inside that this trip wouldn't be life-changing for me. What I didn't know is how at peace I would feel about it.

En route to Gulfoss
It was just a trip. A really rockin' trip that continues to amaze me as I look at the pictures and tell stories about it. But the reality is, I left on a Thursday excited about the adventure ahead, and I came home on a Monday thrilled to be back in familiar territory. No major revelations. No life-altering decisions.

And it makes me wonder - does that make me a real "traveler" to take a trip that doesn't have a lasting impact on my life? I'll always remember Iceland. I'll always look back fondly on a fabulous 3.5 days with my best friend. And I'm certainly better because of it.

Merely thinking out loud here, but I'm happy the trip didn't bring any huge changes or ah-ha moments. I'm pretty happy living life just as I am and I'd hate to ruin it!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Life decisions: Luggage Edition

I really like to use this blog to let everyone know what types of decisions I’m making in life. Usually I only tell you about the good, educated ones, because, really, no one needs to know about the dumb decisions I’m making. There are plenty, but I’d rather keep those a) off the internet and b) well, mainly off the internet, because we all know I otherwise have no filter with regards to my personal life.

So I’m at a crossroads and I need to make a big decision.

When I turned 19, my dad bought me a fantastic gift. Bright pink Ralph Lauren luggage. A lot of it. And I’ve loved the heck out of that luggage. But I’m not 19 anymore (damnit) and I travel a fair amount for work, and I have no acceptable business luggage. This hasn’t really bothered me to date, but every time I have to leave in the middle of the day and therefore bring my bags into my office, someone inevitably comments on it. Usually it’s in an endearing, you’re so cute and you don’t know what the hell it means to be professional kind of way, which I’m starting to get sick of. I’m trying really hard to not feel like a “little kid sitting at the big kids table” (more on this in an upcoming post) at work, and I think my pink luggage may be holding me back.

SO – now I need new luggage. I want to start with a new carry-on rolling suitcase. I don’t want anything else, because if I check a bag, I’m fine using my pink bags. They are pretty much DESTROYED in terms of looking nice, although they still function, so I might as well wear those bad boys out. Plus, there isn’t much easier to spot on a baggage carousel than a hot pink and green suitcase, regardless of how embarrassed my travel companions are. In Iceland, ET refused to help me with my pink bags due to embarrassment. This isn’t the first time a male friend has refused to help, so I guess I’ll have to either carry them myself or buy a black bag.


Requirements for my new carry on suitcase:
  • Black
  • 4 wheels
  • Outside pockets
  • Expandable
  • Less than $200 – that actually seems too high but I have done zero research so who knows
All my work people have Tumi luggage, which is great and all, but that money would be wasted on me. Do you have any luggage that you love? I might just go to Macy’s and see what there is to see, and then check my local TJ Maxx to see if they have the same thing for cheaper!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Party Favors!

Based on my posts, you might think my life consists of weddings, bridal events, and traveling. You'd be right.

I've been put in charge of favors for one of my best friends showers, and I thought I'd share some of the ADORABLE ideas I found in case that becomes your responsiblity one day.

Set of 6 - 8oz - Baby Shower Favor Sugar Scrubs - Bunting Tag Design // Boy Shower Favor // Girl Shower Favors // Bridal Shower Favor
From my shower to yours, with LOVE -- there are so many fantastic homemade scrub recipes on Pinterest, you could easily do this one for very cheap!


Tea towels with cute measuring spoons. (From my very own Christmas-craftstravaganza)

Ring holder, ring dish, 5 Bridal shower favors,  Wedding shower favors, Birthday party favors, ceramic pottery (c)
How useful would these ringholders be? (You could even order one for the bride as a gift!)

Salt pig mint green - Salt keeper - sculptured birds - Salt Cellar Kitchen Storage - Handmade Ceramic Pottery
Or if it's a themed shower (mainly kitchen themed) you could do salt dishes or S&P shakers (perfect for the GT fan in your life!)

Just a few ideas to get you started -- what's the best favor you've received at a shower? Wedding, baby, or otherwise?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Have you ever ended or changed the nature of a relationship (friendship, romantic, work, or otherwise)? I kind of did, recently, and it was pretty dreadful. The bottom line is, the relationship wasn't healthy for me. It wasn't healthy for either of us, really, but I think it affected me more.

I accidentally but kind of on purpose started the "breakup" conversation a while ago, and then it was just a matter of time before the rest of the conversation happened. I'm not sure I understand 100% of the reasons why, only that it had to happen. I'm not happier without this person right now because I'm hurting, but eventually I will be a-okay. I miss them. Some nights I stay up late writing down all the things that I would have said over the course of that day, or when we talked late at night. I write down all the things they would have told me about, too. I have some pretty awesome 2-way conversations that never existed all written out! But. It is incredibly therapeutic to write, and so I will continue until I run out of things to say.

A note: I wrote the above nearly a month ago. I knew I wouldn't want to post it right away, and I was right. I still miss this friend, but as expected, the pain has subsided and in it's place comes a feeling of peace. Of knowing I did the right thing. And of knowing that in that time, other wonderful people have either re-entered or entered my life for the first time. And that has been even more awesome.

I could remind myself about all the things that were great about our friendship but I know what will happen, or really what won't happen. The break-up will backfire and we'll find ourselves right back where we were. And then give it another 3 months, and I'll be back in these shoes again, knowing that I have to make a really hard decision that is really right for me. I have to walk away from someone who means the world to me and makes me over-the-moon happy because as happy as they make me, that's how much the relationship hurts me. It's not every day. It's not one action. It's an ache for things to be not-the-same that doesn't disappear. An ache for more, for less, for something to change.

Another note: The ache is gone, and it went away so much faster than I thought. I could certainly attribute this to a number of things, but the biggest one has been my attitude. Knowing this was the best possible decision for me, but also knowing that this friend would ultimately be there for me through thick and thin. Our friendship wasn't being cut off with no path forward - just a bumpy, turn in the road. It's still there, just like I always wanted.

My heart hurts writing this, but I needed to say more than just a little note in my iPhone. I hope that by leaving the intensity of this relationship behind me, I'll have space for new friends, new relationships, and I'll walk away with a heavier heart only for a little while. In the meantime, I'll keep writing letters on my iPhone until I don't have letters to write anymore, and when I run out of letters to write, then maybe we can start from scratch, but I won't get my hopes up. I think I'll be writing letters forever.

The final note: I'm still writing letters, but as time has gone on, I've found they are so much more for me than they are for anyone else.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A travel bucket list, of sorts

I have fallen in love with all things travel. I crave the excitement of selecting my next adventure. I relish in the ability to research, research, research, and ultimately choose my itinerary. I look forward to the looks of shock and awe I get from others when I tell them about all the things I've seen already or where I am off to next (not because I want them to be jealous, I just love sharing that side of me with others!)

I'm one of the least adventurous people I know. Skydiving, wind surfing, snowmobiling, or other outdoor adventure sports are just not for me. I also don't operate well without a very precise, defined plan in my day to day life.  Based on those two things, my passion for traveling comes as such a surprise to myself and many others. I guess I've learned that much like with life, you can't have it all 100% planned out. You can have goals, dreams, and an idea of what you want, but who knows what will send you on a detour and when? Same thing with traveling - you can plan and you can know exactly what you want to see, but ultimately there will be things that you miss, experiences that you didn't even know you wanted, and you learn something about yourself every. single. time.

My newest obsession is following travel blogs and travel Twitter accounts. I should stop, as it's only contributing to my wanderlust. But in my exploring, I found Adventurous Kate's problem with bucket lists.

I have zero problem with bucket lists (clearly). I've now made two 101 in 1001 lists. I like lists. And this one stood out to me as something that aligned so perfectly with my own dreams for traveling. So, here it is - 5-10 things that are my travel priorities. I will do ONE of these in the next 2 years.
  • Explore Napa Valley. I know, it's not international, but it's something that I really would like to see. I've heard so many stories about girls trips, romantic trips, and family vacations to this wonderful West Coast wine country, and I just know I have to see it, experience it, myself.  
  • Visit Antarctica. If I had a bucket list, the only thing on it would be to visit all 7 continents. Antarctica is the only one left. I don't think this is actually practical for the next 2 years, but it's certainly somewhere I plan to see in my lifetime.
  • Trans-Siberian Railway from St. Petersburg to Beijing.  A coworker shared the story of how she, her mother, and her sister spent 3 weeks on a train coursing through the Russian countryside, hopping on and off and exploring everything Russia had to offer.  As long as Rasputin doesn't interfere!
  • Spend a week on the beach somewhere other than the US. My international journeys have always included constant busy-ness and exploring new things, which I've enjoyed tremendously. I'm not much for bumming around on a beach. However, I think spending a week in a beach town in Europe (thinking Greece, Croatia, Spain!) would be such an exciting adventure. Meeting locals, sipping fabulous cocktails at 2pm, taking a catamaran for a spin, and lounging on a chaise reading a good book sounds like a perfect vacation. And maybe a week is too much, maybe I could tag 3-4 days onto another vacation to make this work.
  • Take an African Safari. No additional commentary necessary.
  • Share somewhere that I've already been with someone I love. Traveling has had such a meaningful impact on my life, both as a child and now as an adult. I've been all around the world but have shared those experiences with limited people (my family, my best female friend, and my best male friend). I'd really like to return to a place that I treasure and experience it all over again with someone special to me who has never been there. It's what my mom did after exploring Hong Kong - a few years later she honeymooned there, and in 1996 she took her in-laws and 2 small children to experience the country as she once had.
  • London, England and Paris, France. I’ve spent 8 hours in Paris and therefore seen the Eiffel Tower, but I’ve never been to London. I’d be thrilled to spend a week bouncing around both cities, especially now that the Olympics have passed. My family is considering a trip to France this fall, so maybe Paris will also land on our itinerary.
So there you have it - the list seems not too short but not excessively long, and certainly attainable. I have to keep reminding myself that the goal is to only get to ONE of these places in the next 730 days... but really I want to do it all, and do it all now. Patience is not my strongest suit.

What about you - would you want to explore any of these places? What would you choose instead? Please tell me - of course I need new places to add to my growing list of desirable locations.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    Grouper, please!

    Have you heard about Grouper?

    I just did, and I have to admit, I'm fascinated.

    It's matchmaking meets online-dating meets strangers-in-a-bar. It's kinda, sorta, perfect.


    I mean, no explanation from me necessary. I guess the only challenge I’m going to have is finding 2 other single ladies. Do I have any takers?



    This idea is pretty rockin’. I could imagine a few situations that would be less than ideal. Mainly if you and one of your best besties fall for the same guy. That would kinda suck. I guess that’s when you could invite along 2 of your I’m-taken-but-still-loads-of-fun friends. I couldn’t find anything about relationship status in the rules…

    But otherwise, I think this is pure genius. Anybody want to be my +2?

    Friday, February 1, 2013