The beginning of summer is always a hectic time for me. Although I’m out of college, I still associate this time of year with renewal and preparing for “the next big thing”, whatever that may be. As you can tell … Continue reading
First off, I would like to wish all the men out there a Happy Movember. Yes, it seems as though November has become the Month of the Man. In what other month can a man grow a mustache for a legitimate cause, deer hunt, play fantasy football, and celebrate a holiday involving eating delicious food while watching football simultaneously? Exactly. So to all my burly mountain men that are indulging in one or all of these things this month, Happy Movember!
Ever since I graduated college and have gained more time and money that comes with having a full time job and not attending school, I’ve been able to focus more on my health. When you leave the dietician’s nightmare that is college living, you start to realize that living off of instant mac and cheese and pizza rolls probably isn’t the best thing for your body. As soon as I moved to Miami, I instantly lost 5 lbs solely from not binge drinking 3 nights a week anymore. Looking back, I didn’t even realize my body changing as I was slowly gaining the freshman 15. As much as I miss many aspects of college, I could never go back to that. I was never obese by any means, and I would try to hit the gym at least 3 times a week, but I didn’t feel good. I was constantly getting sick, I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep, my allergy-induced asthma got worse to the point where I had to get an inhaler, and I was pudgy. Meaning that I was soft in spots that I didn’t want to be soft. I’ve never been one to critically analyze my body image, and was always confident and proud of myself, but I knew that something needed to change.
The past year and half here in Miami I’ve focused on revitalizing myself as a healthy human being, and am now able to do things I was never able to do before. I attend a variety of different types of yoga classes on a regular basis, weight lift and strength train with E at least once or twice a week, and run and bike constantly. It’s one thing seeing your body change, but it’s another thing realizing your ability to do things you’ve never been able to do before. Because of yoga, I can now do headstands, handstands, and arm balances that before was only a concept that I envied. Running 3 miles on average in one sitting turned into running 4 or 5 miles at a time. The progress I had made became evident, and it only made me want to push myself even further.
The Publix Escape to Miami Triathlon happens annually in September right across from my building. I had seen the set up happen when I first moved to Miami in 2012, and a brief urge to sign up fluttered through one ear and out the other, and then I pushed it out of my mind. Me, sign up for a triathlon? If I wanted to do something that made me look ridiculous I would’ve signed up for unlimited pole dancing classes (which, for the record, is extremely challenging. After taking a single pole dancing class for a friend’s birthday, I have a new found respect for strippers). Then came the year of 2013, the year of the new, healthy me. Although I wasn’t swimming on the reg, I was consistently running and biking during the week, sometimes doing both in one sitting. Swimming had always come naturally to me, since my mother enrolled me in swimming classes at an early age so that if she was ever drowning, I’d be able to jump in and save her. So after some self-convincing, I decided to sign up for the PEtoM triathlon. E had participated in a triathlon a couple year ago, and jumped on board immediately.
With some extensive training, new gear, and grueling bricks, we were ready for the big day. I cannot express to you how nervous I was that morning. A lot of thought goes into your first triathlon, especially when it comes to your transitions and whether or not you’ve set your station up in the most efficient way possible. Nonetheless, I just wanted it to be over with. Next thing you know, my wish was granted and it was over and done with, in the blink of an eye. Although I was running/biking/swimming for a total of about 2 hours, it felt like 5 minutes. The swim happened first, and I was slightly panicked with fellow athletes kicking me and grabbing my legs. So I breast-stroked until I was able to gather my composure and finish with a free-stroke. The bike was smooth, and the route had about 4 big hills in it which is a recipe for burning thighs. After the final transition, I was so tired that I was “jogging” at a snail’s pace to get my muscles used to the change. Around a quarter mile into the run, I was feeling surprisingly good. My endurance was kickin’, as well as my outlook. I can honestly say that after all was said and done, I probably would’ve been able to do it all again.
It was such an amazing experience and the feeling you get after completing a triathlon, or something that challenges you both mentally and physically, is a high that stoners only dream of. It’s the same high you get after conquering a yoga transition from eight-angle pose to koundinya (you’re going to have to start going to yoga to understand what this means), for example. When you accomplish something positive that you previously thought you could never do heightens your sense of self. It causes you to believe in yourself a little more than you did before, which is then applied to all other aspects of your life as well. So this November, I’m not going to ask you to complete a triathlon, but I am asking you to 11. Challenge yourself. When’s the last time you actually, wholeheartedly, “didn’t think I could do it but then I did” challenged yourself. Now’s the time. Not later, not in a couple years, but NOW. Remember this applies to any aspect of your life, from asking out that person you think may be way out of your league, to applying for that position you’ve had your eye on. Whether mentally, physically, or both, challenge makes you a better person, and everyone could use a little improvement now and then.
Now that October has shown its face, I find myself sweating in 80 feels-like-90 degree weather, dreaming about varied leaf colors and vibrant apple orchards. The kind of climate where riding boots and a sweater rendered you just warm enough for a crisp, fall day. Here in Miami, no such euphoria exists. I’m stranded in the land of 2 “seasons”: rain, and no rain.
A couple weeks ago I asked my coworker what people do down here in terms of fall festivals, and she only laughed, telling me that unless I want to make cider out of mangoes or prance through a sugarcane maze, then I won’t be partaking in any sort of fall festivities this far south. Disappointed, all I wanted to do was bury myself in a pile of fallen maple leaves and hide where Miami could never find me again. What sort of place is this? What is October without being able to pick honeycrisp apples or go on a hay ride?? It used to be, and still is, my favorite season, which is why I was tempted to look up the price of a plane ticket north before I remembered how broke I am.
So instead, I’m forced to recreate my own little autumn here in sunny South Florida, complete with candy corn, transplant pumpkins, and homemade cinnamon applesauce. And you better believe that I will be donning my boots and cable-knit sweater inside my apartment, movie theaters, and other air-conditioned facilities. And as I smell my autumn candle goin’, I’ll reminisce about how frustrating it was trying to rake the lawn free of reddish-orangey-brown leaves when I was a little girl, knowing that they’d only replenish the next day. And how I’d search the pumpkin patch for hours for that one perfect pumpkin, knowing that at night I’d watch my dad carve something creative into it.
For those living in tropical areas who have never experienced a true fall before, I urge you to venture north. As for everyone else who gets to live fall for the full 90-or-so days, consider yourself lucky, and 10. Do something to celebrate the best season of the year. For example, in an act of desperation, E & I found a pumpkin patch in Coconut Grove a few weekends ago and jumped on the opportunity to pick out our pumpkins from an actual field instead of a designated section at Publix. The festival was clearly designed for children, and charged adults a $10 entrance fee, but we needed this. So with the sun beating down on us and the smell of arepas in the air, we ventured through the short corn maze and picked out a nice, big, $15 pumpkin. Okay sure, it was definitely a rip off. But it was just enough to satiate my autumn-hungry appetite. So pick out a pumpkin or two, bake a pie, invest in a quality sweater, and revel in all that is fall.
Time is a funny concept. A second may consist of only a blink or a step. In a minute, you can have a brief conversation with someone regarding the weather. In an hour you can learn something new. A day passes and it can feel like you either accomplishing everything, or nothing at all. When you look back at a whole month, maybe even a year, you forget the miniscule things and look back at the moments that rendered that period of time either good or bad. Well, it’s been a hectic past couple of months to say the least and I found myself turning into an emotional psychopath for a majority of it. See, the problem is that I’m so focused on the idea of bettering myself and moving up in the ranks of success that I am consumed by it. There exists a social pressure that as soon as college students graduate, it’s survival of the fittest. We all jump in to piranha-infested waters and just hope that our swimming capabilities allow us to reach the other side unscathed. But then again, this is coming from an anxious, impatient 23-year old girl who naively thinks that all good things are just going to gracefully spring upon her. Hey, at least I can admit how silly that thought process really is…
July and August have been an emotional roller-coaster. Like, giant, scary, obscenely tall emotional roller-coaster. In the beginning of July, E’s close friend and godfather passed away in an unfortunate, untimely fashion. Then again, one can never predict something like that happening to someone like him. I mean, nothing bad is suppose to happen to good-hearted people right? Or, at least that’s what we’d like to think. The majority of July was spent grieving and wondering. Wondering why on Earth his path was destined to reach such an end. Then came August, marking the end of summer and the month before school starts. I really felt that one. It had been a little over a year since I graduated college and I had told myself back then that after working a year, I would begin looking into graduate/professional schools. And yet there I was, 15 months later, without a clue or an ounce of motivation to push me in the right direction. It was especially harsh because E’s godfather’s death reminded me of how short life is, and if you don’t roll with the punches, “you’ll blink and suddenly be 40 years old”. An older man from the dog park told me this, and it induced a silent panic inside me. He was 42 years old with solely his poodle as a companion, and a 21 year old son who he barely knew. “Yea I had intentions to get married and big dreams for my future, but then I got old”. He also told me to get married and have kids while I’m young, but that is not exactly what my ambitious 23-year old self wanted to hear. So here I am today, just days into September, and finally grasping a hold of what I want to do with the rest of my life. My outlook is optimistic, and the sun is just peeking over the horizon.
After the past two slightly troubling months, I’m feeling positive. I’m doing things that make me feel good, and spending time with people that bring good into my life. At the same time, I’d like to think that I’m equally as much of a positive impact on others as I know people are on me. With that being said, my wish for you this month is simple: 9. Hug like you mean it. When you pass that familiar face you always seem to see on your morning walk with the dog, ask them “good morning, how are you today?” and actually mean it. Give someone one of those genuine, squeeze-the-life-outta-you hugs, knowing that it stimulates the production of oxytocin (the feel-good neurotransmitter). Have you ever heard of strangers paying for the person’s coffee in line behind them, and wondered what it’d be like? Well now’s the time to pay it forward. Because you never know when someone like me, or someone like E’s godfather could use a giant bear hug, or a latte.
The reason why I was initially attracted to blogging was because it gives me a chance to spill out what I’m currently obsessed with on a “forever page”. Meaning that an online blog is more reliable than a journal in that it will never have to be one of the 3 things you choose to save in a house fire. My monthly obsessions are thus spewed into cyberspace where they could potentially linger forever. You’ll never know who will stumble across your blog and leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Hopefully this next post will do just that.
Everyone has that go-to playlist for a multitude of different scenarios. The workout playlist, the rainy day playlist, the babymaking playlist, etc etc. That’s because music has the ability to define moments. A song comes on that you recognize and it instantly takes you back to a moment in your life where something important, or perhaps insignificant, happened while that certain song was playing. For example, Holla At Me by Chris Brown will forever remind me of college road trips to Madison, WI with my girlfriends. I can’t listen to Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt without thinking about the moment my ex and I broke up before he flew away for a semester abroad, and how I cried for hours the morning of his departure. After Ultra Music Festival, This Is What It Feels Like by Armin van Buuren takes me back to the crowded A State of Trance amphitheater where, despite being tired, hot, and sweaty, I just couldn’t get enough. All of these songs I have compiled into a playlist, and now I urge you to do the same. 8. Create a playlist of memories. Each song takes me back to a moment of my life that otherwise would’ve remained unearthed. Hearing them triggers old emotions and crystal clear feelings, whether happy or heavyhearted. When you’re creating your playlist of memories, just remember that it’s okay to look back on emotional times. These moments help to define who we are today, so no memory is not worth reflecting on.
Here are some of the songs that make up my personal playlist of memories…
1. Lola by The Kinks- Dancing around in the living room with my dad when I was little, back when I didn’t know how to dance and quite frankly, didn’t really care.
2. Memories by David Guetta feat. Kid Cudi- The one song that will never, ever get old. For running, keg races, sunbathing, party buses, and pregame parties.
3. You Must Believe in Yourself by Khalil Queen- For how talented this man is, he is not nearly as known as he should be. After hearing him belt this song out before our final musical performance every year in high school, I still can’t make it through the whole thing without busting into tears.
4. Let’s Get F***ed Up and Die by Motion City Soundtrack- This song wreaks of my first car, a Toyota Camry that was older than I was. Competing in car wars and hide-and-go-seek car tag, because there was nothing else for a penny-less 16-year old who had to be back by curfew to do.
5. Cricketz by New Boyz- Booty dropping like I knew how to with my best friend. Even though this song was introduced to me by someone who I was better off not knowing, I’m reminded of a carefree, “young and restless” period of my life.
6. Gravity by Sara Bareilles- For some reason, this song was a go-to for me whenever I was experiencing relationship issues or emotional torment in college. When I was at the lowest of lows, this song made me feel hopeful.
7. Work Out by J. Cole- My final year of college, I blasted this song every time I flew down to Miami to visit my boyfriend, E. I remember feeling nervous and excited at the same time, just hoping that despite being long distance, we’d be able to work it out.
8. Wake Me Up by Avicii- I’d say this is my current obsession, and the most recent addition to my playlist of memories. This song defines me in the now. A naive 23-year old girl living in Miami, trying to feel her way through the darkness. It’s everything I look for in a song… a genius mix, a beat you can’t help but dance to, and lyrics that anyone can relate to (download it right this instant).
What songs shuffle through your infinite playlist??
Everyone has an off day here and there. When my day is really going down the pooper, there are only 3 things that can 100% relieve me from my funk: 1. Eating delicious food, 2. Exercising, or 3. Snuggling (or … Continue reading
I have a serious case of the travel bug. And I have it bad.
There are close to 200 million square miles of surface area on Earth. Only 57.5 million of those square miles is land. Close to 4 million square miles make up the splendor that is America. About 87,000 of those square miles form the great state of Minnesota. My hometown of Minneapolis, compared to the total square mileage that covers Earth, makes up a mere 58.4 square miles of that total. In other words, if I had never left the confines of my hometown of Minneapolis, MN, I’d have only explored 0.000000292 of the planet in my lifetime. That is a sad, sad number.
Most people I know have done some sort of traveling at one point or another. Whether it’s a brief road trip to a neighbor state, or studying abroad across the globe, anywhere you go will offer an exquisite experience that’s different from the last. You won’t really understand the concept until you experience it yourself. Just ask Cheryl Strayed or Elizabeth Gilbert. They are two wonderful authors whose memoirs (Wild and Eat, Pray, Love) found their way into Oprah’s Book Club and the New York Times Bestsellers list. Both memoirs tell of women struggling through life, and ultimately finding serenity and healing through travel (that 12 word description doesn’t even bring the slightest justice to the books themselves, you’ll just have to read them). Now that I’ve been graced with the opportunity of visiting a handful of different places myself, the experiences have only enhanced my urge to see more.
Rome, for example, was the first place I had visited that was home to such an ancient civilization. It wasn’t until I stepped foot onto the old cobblestone streets of which Julius Caesar himself had walked upon that I realized how young America truly is. Even before visiting Rome I got to have my first taste of Asia as I visited my family in South Korea. Seoul was incredible, don’t get me wrong, but it was the lush, mountainous landscape outside of the city that made the trip unforgettable (along with the food, but don’t get me started because I won’t stop). My most recent trip was to Panama, where E & I fished for peacock bass in the Panama Canal. As a Biology major and ecosystem connoisseur, this was definitely a bucket list moment. The wildlife was surreal, and the history was rich.
Besides the big, overseas trips, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen a handful of states and cities here in the U.S. as well. Many people dream of vacationing somewhere far, far away. However, many tend to forget that roughly 1/14 of the land on Earth represents the U.S.A, and there is plenty to see here in the heartland. After a long winter, and bright, summer days ahead, I urge you to 6. Pack your bags and get outta town. There really are no excuses. Not willing to spend a pretty penny? Check up on Groupon Getaways or other travel sites where you can find a good deal. Sometimes they even have the itinerary and travel accommodations already planned for you! Work, done. Better yet, save even more by grabbing your backpack and wandering to more remote, tourist-deprived locations. If you are physically able, now is the time to plan, or choose not to plan, such a trip. Visit friends or family in a place you’d otherwise never think to visit. Who knows, kickin’ it with Auntie Janet in Bacon, IN might be a helluva time! You never know until you go. As for me, I try to stay as inspired and adventure-hungry as possible. E & I plan on cruising to Alaska, skiing in Colorado, and attending a Broadway musical in New York (E has never seen a musical. I know, I had the same awe-struck reaction) sometime in the near future, just to name a few. So create your own destination list and pry yourself out of your comfort bubble. Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America by lounging contently in his home ya know…
The phrase “April showers brings May flowers” may be true in Miami, but definitely not in Minnesota. While I’m basking in the sun and trudging around in rain boots, my family and friends back home are cussing at the latest April snowfall and 40 degree weather. I thought I had it pretty good until our air conditioner conveniently pooped out on us on the same weekend that Mother Nature decided to raise the humidity level to a “devil’s steam room” high. Being a Minnesotan expat living in Miami, the heat and I don’t necessarily get along. Nonetheless, E and I had devoted this past weekend to painting our kitchen, giving it the makeover it desperately needed. Despite the humidity levels and the stubbornness of our air conditioner, we were desperate for a change of scenery. If you can recall back to my very first blog post Love & Limits, I refer to our apartment as “gray”-feeling. After E read that particular blog post, he immediately responded saying “Wait a minute, is that really how you feel about our apartment?” And alas, a project was formed.
When E’s father had initially bought the place, he decided to paint the kitchen and dining area with the spare paint he had leftover from a previous project. Of course, the colors he had on hand couldn’t conveniently be a beige or neutral color, but rather a lilac purple and sky blue. So he mixed the 2 colors with varying amounts of white, creating multiple shades of pastel purples and blues. Fast forward to present time, when I noticed that each wall in the kitchen was a different color. After living in that space for almost a year now, we decided it was finally time to makeover our kitchen and cater it to our current taste.
I say “current taste” because as you grow older, and as your life changes, so do your interests. Things that once were eye-catching or cool, like sillybandz, are now outdated and quite frankly, stupid. Now that I’m out of college and my life has taken a 180 degree turn, it’s only natural that elements in my daily life change as well. Whether it be throwing away all of the college going-out clothes that have been permanently tarnished with the smell of Plums Bar & Grill, or upgrading the coffee I drink every morning from a cheap burnt dark roast to a blonde-r roast, to better satiate my budding adult taste buds. Something as daunting as painting your living space can actually be remarkably rewarding in the end. There are so many aspects of your life that you cannot control, so why not take advantage of one that you can control? With spring upon us, it’s the season to release your inner-designer and let the creativity flow (even if you’re the least creative person on the planet, like me). 5. Re-style and upgrade your living space. Because your home, like your life, needs a makeover every once in a while.
I’d like to start out by saying that this particular blog post was inspired by my wonderful parents who flew 2000 miles to visit me recently. Thank you for blessing me with opportunity, your trust, unforgettable lessons, and most importantly, life.
It’s been said that one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to make is to walk away, or take a leap of faith. Being a scatter-brained, normally indecisive, type A kind of person, I tend to narrow down my decisions via a pros and cons list. But by doing that, a safe and comfortable life decision will typically always win over a risky and unknown life decision. And let’s be real here, where’s the fun in that?
There are people who strongly state they have no regrets in life. Well, I find this very hard to believe. Everyone has at least one moment in their past that had they known what the outcome would be, they’d choose a different option instead. For example, every once in a while, E will mention how much he misses playing hockey on a team. He often lingers on the possibility of what would’ve happened had he attended this one exclusive hockey camp. He says that he didn’t go for many reasons: the time commitment, intimidating players, no time for soccer or baseball, no time to spend with his girlfriend or his friends, etc. The “reasons why not to do something” list goes on and on. But there’s always that thought in the back of his head that perhaps had he taken a risk and went to that hockey camp, there could be a chance that he’d currently be playing professional hockey (I’m not kidding you folks, he’s that good). The moral of the story is, the cons list was too overpowering and he thus missed out on a potentially life-changing opportunity.
But now I’m going to give you an example of a pair of people who have gotten to where they are today by jumping on the opportunity train, threading tiny needles, and defining fate. My dad was a radio host in little Oshkosh, WI. Due to the upstanding job he had been doing since being hired, his supervisor granted him a pick from his “drawer of gift certificates”. My dad randomly chose a free trial at Min Hur’s Tae-Kwon-Do school. He’s always been quite the athlete, and decided to give it a try. Over time, he progressed from belt to belt, and eventually became a protegé of sorts, the Daniel-son to Mr. Miyagi, so to speak. Years later, Master Min Hur invited my dad to visit South Korea with him, the birthplace of Tae-Kwon-Do. Despite being in a financial rut, my father jumped on the rare opportunity. While in South Korea, Master Min Hur introduced my father to a family close to him. That’s when he met my mother. Although the language barrier was a dividing force on its own, the spark was too strong to ignore. After leaving South Korea, they wrote for months. Although I have yet to read these letters, I can only imagine how passionate they were. Passionate enough that after a year of writing, he flew back to South Korea and asked her to marry him. She took a risk, and said yes. Together, they flew back to America and started their life here, from the very bottom.
Now, over twenty years later of building a family, financial hardships, and testing family ties, they’re where they only could have hoped to be in life. With a successful business and two children going/gone through college, they know how blessed they truly are. From my perspective, I owe it to both my dad for picking the right gift certificate out of that drawer many years ago, and my mom for taking a leap of faith and moving across the globe to start a new life. They are a prime example of people who have completely changed their life via a single seemingly wild decision.
After that blog post-turned-novel, I urge you to 4. Make a scary, life-changing decision. The scarier, the better. Understand that this opportunity probably will never present itself ever again. Explore the unknown. Let the possibility of what could be, fuel you into optimal drive. Take that job. Pick up and move across the country. Commit to a relationship with someone you love dearly, even if they’re thousands of miles away. Jump knowing that you may not land on two feet, but if you do, you’re sure to walk away enlightened.
The next item on the Infinity List revolves around something I’m deeply passionate about (besides Conservation Biology and Nora Ephron movies)… and that’s food. It’s amazing how powerful food can be. You crave it, you hate it, you buy it, you make it, and it even has the ability to strike down any ounce of willpower you have left to not put it in your mouth. I have never been a food addict, per say, but I’ll admit that there have been countless of moments where I’ve looked for comfort and solutions at the bottom of a Girl Scout cookie box, just to give an example. It’s just something about the satisfaction of indulging in your cravings that makes food so appealing. This is also the reason why I have never gone on a diet, and will forever refuse to. I’m a real food kinda person, which is why I choose to word this is as such: 3. Revamp your diet, without going on a diet. What sort of conundrum is that, might you ask? It means that I’ve reconstructed the way I eat in a healthier way, so that I can still adhere to my cravings and eat as much as I do.
It all started with the Paleo Plan, also known as the “caveman diet”. The overall goal is to eat as a caveman would, which means only fruits, veggies, nuts, and meat. It completely stripped all dairy and grains from my usual food intake. Although I only partook in the strict Paleo Plan for 2 weeks (E and I called it our “Pre-Christmas Cleanse”), I noticed a huge difference. I had more energy, I felt great, no tummy aches, and my bowel movements were, well, moving. When I returned to MN over the holidays, I even had multiple people ask if I had lost weight (I’d respond with a “Thanks” or “You think?”, since I tend to avoid scales and really wasn’t aware if I had lost any weight or not). Bottom line is, I took this experience and ran with it. Meaning that even now, although I’m not strictly Paleo, I make sure not to over-indulge in processed foods, and stick to the naturals. I even stopped drinking dairy milk and am now hooked on almond milk (For anyone that knew me in college, they’d be shocked. 2% milk was always my go-to hangover cure, along with an Italian BMT from Subway. Weird, but it never fails). That way, I get to snack all day (blackberries and nuts being my favorite) while avoiding all of the harmful preservatives or high caloric intake.
So take a close look into your fridge, whatchya got in there? Well whatever it is, simplify it. Go back to the naturals. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, and try to avoid the aisles as much as possible. I’ve attached a couple of my favorite Paleo sites for you to check out. If you’re not motivated by this post, at least check out the links.