Monday, October 28, 2013

Timing, Luck, Intuition...or Something Else?

I want to share a little story with you about something that happened over the weekend.  In fact, many of these types of things have been happening for me lately and they have got me thinking that everything is going to be alright.  Let me explain...

My iPhone had been acting up the past couple of months.  Barely holding a charge, or sometimes just going dead on me in the middle of phone conversations.  Needless to say, I didn't feel safe knowing I might not have a phone when I needed one, especially because I am often out and about, and home, alone.  However, I had been putting off getting it serviced because that's often what I do with errands or tasks I'm not excited about.  I also thought I had purchased my phone last September which would mean it was out of warranty and I didn't really have the money for a repair right now.

However, this past weekend I finally decided to just make an appointment for service at the Apple store.  The day of my appointment I was considering rescheduling because I didn't feel like driving all the way over there and I'd had a busy afternoon, but something told me I should keep the appointment. 

After I checked in, one of the Apple guys came over and hooked my phone up to perform his diagnostics.  He said my battery definitely needed to be replaced and told me the price for a new battery is $79.  (Say what?!)  He asked for my Apple account information and said he could check to see if I was still under warranty.  I told him I was pretty sure it's been over a year since I had the phone.  But then he looked up and said something along the lines of, 'I've never seen this before, but this is the LAST day of your warranty.  You purchased the phone 1 year ago today.  This is your lucky day.  If I were you, I'd go buy a lottery ticket tonight.'  HAHA Amazing!  I just sat there stunned and THANKFUL.  Timing from the heavens.  I'm sure of it. 

And the thing is, I've been having many more of these types of experiences this year.  Things have been happening and coming together at just the right time.  I've been fortunate to have even won some pretty wonderful things lately.  Most recently, a one-month subscription to FlexJobs which I'm pretty excited about!  And all of this has got me thinking about some things I've read in my Daily Love emails. (Seriously, if you have not signed up for their daily emails, I urge you to.  They are always uplifting and thought provoking.  I love starting my day with them.)  Two of the tenets of Mastin Kipp's philosophy are that "The Universe will support you in manifesting your Purpose" and that "Things always work out for the best".  I am starting to see both of these are very true this year.
As I move away from toxic situations, and circumstances that are not in my best interest or part of my Purpose, things start to fall into place.  I've also started to pay more attention to my intuition, and actually listen to and heed the hints it gives me.  For so long, I didn't let that voice be heard and instead focused on feedback I received from the outside world.  Not good.  Only you know what's best for you.
Another thing I've learned this year is that the Universe will repeat lessons until you have learned them.  Believe me, there were times in my past where I knew what I was doing was definitely not in my best interest, and not representative of me or my values, spirit or Purpose, but I kept doing them anyway (ie. my previous career).  Finally, the Universe said "Enough!".  After losing my job in February, I have started down a path that is more aligned to my true self, and because of that, the Universe is providing for me in so many ways.  I have lots more to share with you about future plans, but I wanted to relate the story from this weekend to illustrate how I am being cared for because I believe I am finally manifesting who I am.  Detours are a part of life, that's for sure, and sometimes this loud crazy life drowns out the small voice inside you, that you should have been listening to all along.  But once you do, I believe the Universe will rise up to meet you.
Kind of deep today.  Please feel free to share any recent experiences you've had with luck, timing, intuition or divine intervention.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Faves - FOOD Edition!

It's been awhile since I've done a Friday Favorites post and since I'm in recovery/eating mode this week I thought I'd post about some great food items I'm enjoying lately.  Let's dig in (I hope you're not hungry!)...

1.  For breakfast, I discovered this incredible Nature's Path Coconut Chia Granola cereal.  In one of my previous Friday Faves posts, I revealed how much I love coconut flavored anything.  This is still the case.  I happened upon this new cereal by chance, while strolling down the 'natural foods' section of my grocery store.  I like that it's organic, non-GMO and vegan.  It also contains very little sugar (only 9g per serving) and 45% of your RDV of Omega-3's.  But despite how healthy it is, it is SO good.  There are huge chunks of dried coconut in it.  Mmmm. 

2.  Snack time!  I came across these Raw Revolution bars a few weeks ago while stocking up on my Kind Bars.  These are also vegan, organic and non-GMO.  In addition, they contain 7g of protein and are also pretty low in sugar.  The Spirulina Dream flavor does taste a little 'green' from the spirulina algae but I like the taste.  And the Chocolate Coconut Bliss is a definite win.  I always keep bars like this in my purse for snacking on the go and I'm so glad I have a few new options now. 
3.  Juice!  This one is not a new discovery, but it's been awhile since I've purchased it.  I discovered Sambazon Acai Juice a few years ago at Whole Foods.  When I worked downtown I would often walk to Whole Foods to pick up a salad and some of this yummy juice for lunch.  It's a bit pricey which is why I haven't purchased any lately, but my local grocery store had a sale on the large bottles this week so I splurged.  I've tried other brands of Acai juice but Sambazon original is still my favorite.  Do you drink Acai?  It's a touted superfood, but I just really love the flavor of Acai.  I even found an Acai sorbet at Wegmans this past summer.  I'll write that one up on a Friday Faves soon!
4.  Dinner time!  I don't think I've really mentioned in past posts how much I love seafood.  And I think I even left out that one of my favorite foods is crab.  I could eat snow crab legs for days, and in fact I did, when I was in Myrtle Beach last month.  However, this particular snippet is devoted to Mussels!  When I was in Belgium a few years ago, I sampled a very traditional Belgian dish called Moules-frites, which means 'mussels & fries'.  I'd had mussels before that trip, but only as part of Italian pasta dishes.  Well, after eating moules-frites, I unleashed a new found appreciation for savoring mussels all by themselves.
So, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon these vacuum packed frozen mussels at my local grocery store and I have been eating them nonstop.  There are a couple things I love about them.  First, the bag contains just mussels, no sauce, no butter - so it fits with my non-dairy lifestyle.  Secondly, you can actually steam them in the bag, in the microwave!  For someone whose domestic skills are seriously lacking, this is heaven.  This bag says it contains 3 servings but that's hogwash.  For dinner, I steam and eat the entire bag myself.  Each serving contains 33% of your daily iron requirement, so I'm getting 99% of my iron in one meal!  Plus, there are 18g of protein in each serving, which means that's 54g all for me.  Watch out for my new Popeye muscles.
5.  Treat time!  Since Halloween is upon us, I thought I'd throw some candy in here.  Candy is still 'food' right?!  I know I've mentioned a few times one of the foods I really miss from my childhood when I could eat dairy was Snickers bars!  Seems trivial I know, but oh how I loved them. Anyway, a few years ago, I discovered that these Goldberg's Peanut Chews were VEGAN!  Who knew?  And they taste somewhat similar to Snickers.  These are made with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and instead of caramel as the filler, they contain molasses.  So they're not exactly the same, but they are really good!  I wouldn't consider these healthy, although nuts and dark chocolate are supposed to be good for you right?! 
6.  Another dessert!  I had to throw this one in there.  One of my favorite places to eat when I make trips back home to Bethlehem is Vegan Treats.  It is an amazing vegan bakery with it's storefront in Bethlehem, but it also has a large catering business and supplies baked goods to restaurants up and down the East Coast from NYC to DC.  Well, this weekend after the RWHalf, I stopped in to treat myself to some tasty vegan soft serve and I was rewarded with one of the most sublime, heavenly, tastiest things I think I've ever eaten in my life - Cheesecake flavored vegan ice cream.  I actually have no recollection of what cheesecake even tastes like anymore, and I'm not even sure I liked it as a child, but I could probably eat this ice cream every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it.  I wish I could describe the flavor accurately to you dairy-eaters.  It wasn't overly sweet, but it just tasted rich and kind of buttery?  I don't even know what butter tastes like but that's how I would describe it.  I can only hope the next time I go back home they are serving up this flavor because I will surely walk out of there with at least a cone in each hand! Hahaha.  If you are ever in the area, I would urge you to check out this bakery.  According to their reviews on Yelp, people travel for hours sometimes just to stop in!

Well now that both you and I are sufficiently starving, I'll wrap it up.  I hope you also had a week filled with wonderful tasty treats!

Your turn!

What foods are you loving lately?

Any favorite Halloween treats?

**Disclaimer:  I was not compensated or provided products for this post.  These are simply foods I purchase on my own, eat and enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Check out Runaway Bridal Planner!

Just a quick one today...

Kristy, a fellow SPA sister and blogger over at Runaway Bridal Planner, decided to feature me on her blog today!  How sweet of her.  She asked me some pretty good questions, so if you'd like to see my answers and get to know me (and her!) a little better, I invite you to stop by her blog today at this link:

Runner's Spotlight - Let me Introduce Jill

In other news, I've been taking it easy this week after the RW Half and in fact, I haven't even run since Sunday! Feels a bit weird, but also nice to relax.  I did do two 4.5 mile walks this week (pushing a stroller, so that counts as arms too, right?!) and plan to go for a nice long swim tomorrow.  And I think this weekend I'll go out for my first (untimed) run!

Hope you're all having a great week so far.  And because it's a wild and crazy Thursday night over here with my cats....Enjoy...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Runner's World Half Marathon Recap... in which I PR'ed!!!

Well, my 4th half marathon is in the what?!  Does anyone else get that kind of spacey/funky feeling after a big race?  Like, 'what do I do now?'. 
I had a really wonderful weekend back home in Bethlehem, PA for the Runner's World Half.  Going into this race, I didn't know what to expect.  In the deep recesses of my mind, I wanted to run under 2 hours (my PR to date was 2:01), but as the summer progressed I wasn't sure how likely that would be.  Because of my lingering lower leg issues, I had to abbreviate my training to just 8 weeks.  In fact, I only did one 13 mile run prior to the race.  Additionally, I heard from a past participant that the course was 'death by hills'.  And add to that, the zero hours of sleep I got the night before the race, I really did not know how this was going to turn out. 
However, despite all of this, I PR'ed this race by 3 mins and finished in 1:58!!! I am not a happy crier (I only cry when I'm sad), but I nearly cried at the finish line that's how elated/surprised/exhausted I was.  In fact, as the race went on and I started to realize I may come in under 2:00:00, I hate to admit that I very nearly cried a few times on the course just knowing it was within my reach. 
Sooo with that said, let's recap away...
I did not do the Hat Trick, like some of the famous bloggers did (ie. RunEatRepeat, SkinnyRunner, HungryRunnerGirl, StuftMama) so Saturday for me was spent checking out the race expo and hanging out with my cousins at a family party while I was in town.  The Hat Trick, for those of you that don't know, is where the participant runs the 5K, 10K AND the Half Marathon all in the same weekend.  (INSANE, I know).  So those lovely ladies I mentioned above ran a 5K at 8am on Saturday morning, followed by a 10K at 9:30am (same day) and then the Half Marathon on Sunday at 8am. Ouch!
Check out all that race swag!
Saturday night I ate my standard pre-race dinner of spaghetti & meatballs at home.  It pays to be Italian when you're getting ready for a distance race!  I also focused on drinking a lot of fluids (water, Gatorade, coconut water) Friday and Saturday.  Truth be told, I tried to remember to drink extra fluids all of last week, but some days were better than others.  I also tried to 'carb-load' throughout the week last week but I'm not sure how well I did that.  I am not the biggest fan of grains.  I prefer to eat a more protein heavy meal for dinner but I did eat pasta two days in a row last week. 
Saturday night I barely slept.  This happens to me before every big race.  I usually toss and turn all night, mostly thinking about the race, and actually imagining myself running the race in my head all night.  I know, weird.  But as long as I get enough sleep 2 nights prior to the race, I've always been ok, and I did so on Friday night.
Sunday morning was COLD.  Coldest running weather (for me) thus far and it was quite a shock at 7 in the morning.  I arrived at the gear check/port-o-let station at 7:15am which means I had to stand outside in 40 degree temps nearly naked for 45 mins.  I had a running jacket on, which I waited until the last minute to check, but on the bottom, just shorts (and compression socks).  By the time I made it down to the starting line, my feet were numb.  I was actually thinking, how am I going to run if I can't feel my feet?!  (Overreact much?)  But then I found my cousin and kind of forgot all about the weather.  Side note:  My cousin was in town from Florida to run his first half marathon ever!  He grew up in Bethlehem as well so I think he wanted his first race to be on 'home turf'.  We both started with the 9:00 min mile group and were standing next to a 2:05 pacer.  We chatted for a couple minutes, I wished him good luck, and before we were knew it, we were off.  The race started exactly on time, for which I was immensely thankful.
The race started downhill which was nice.  Before I even knew it we were at mile 1.  And then the hills started.  But you know what?  I did not think the hills were THAT bad.  They were rolling but none of them were incredibly steep.  I will say this was the hilliest race I have ever run, and definitely not a course I ever thought I'd PR!  The first 7 or 8 miles were up and down hills, but I felt really strong the entire time.  My pace did not seem to suffer.  Because I knew there were hills I deliberately went out slightly faster than I normally would.  I wanted to power away at the start.  Mile 4 was probably the most drawn out hill and right after we crested it, I spotted my pops on the side of the road!  I tossed him the gloves I had been wearing up until that point, we chatted for a second or two, and he encouraged me on. 
At mile 7, I passed my grandparents who had come out to cheer for my cousin and me!  They were all bundled up - I could tell they were cold - but when I shouted to them, they lit up and shouted right back to me!  I also saw my grandmother try to take a picture as I ran by so I waved :) 
After that point, I don't recall any more memorable hills.  There were lots of people standing outside their houses in all the neighborhoods we ran through.  Every time I saw a kid with their hand out, I made sure to swing by and high five them!  I also verbally thanked a lot of the spectators as I passed them, and the police officers who were blocking the streets.  Thanking the volunteers and spectators is something I try to do in every race because I just really appreciate them being out there.  Their cheers and signs give me a boost and keep me moving. 
At mile 9, they were handing out fuel (GU packets) so I grabbed one but wasn't sure I was going to eat any.  My stomach was just feeling a bit wonky and I didn't really feel like I needed it.  So I held onto it for a mile and then just tossed it.  I had been taking fluids at every aid station and mostly Gatorade because I wanted the calories and sugar, so I think that kept me going.  As a rule, I generally take at least a sip from every aid station when I'm running Halfs because I don't want to get to the point where I'm dehydrated. 
Around mile 10 I randomly spotted a friend from high school who I haven't seen much since college so that was pretty neat!  Right after mile 11 we had a huge downhill which was AWESOME!  By that point I knew I was closing in under 2:00 and I just wanted to get there.  At mile 12 I saw my Dad again!  He had driven over to the finish line from mile 4 so he could catch me at the end.  It was at mile 12 that my legs must have finally realized all the hill climbing they did and I was tired.  When I passed the mile marker, the clock said 1:49 and I think that's when I finally knew, I'd get in under 2:00.  That last mile my legs were heavy and my body was tired but I just kept picturing the clock saying 1:something and that kept me moving. 
As I came down the finish corral I heard my sister (who has the loudest voice known to man) shout my name and I saw her and my brother-in-law and my nephew a few seconds before I crossed the finish.  I think she may have caught a very unflattering photo of my rear end as I passed by :/
And then, there was I was.  Crossing over the threshold in 1:58.  Disbelief.  Absolute happiness. 
I met up with my cousin who finished his first half in 2:06!!  Then I went inside the heated building for a minute and spotted an entire table of famous bloggers!  HungryRunnerGirl, SkinnyRunner, StuftMama, and RunEatRepeat were all sitting around chatting.  And what did I do?  Um, nothing!  Ha, I was starstruck.  I had no idea what to say, or how to approach them.  It was like I was seeing them in a dream or something! I realize this makes me sound crazy.  After I walked back outside, I immediately regretted not going over and introducing myself to all of them.  But let me just tell you, they all were incredibly pretty for having just finished a race.  I think I need to start wearing makeup or something to run?!
This race will be memorable for me on so many levels.  My PR of course, but also because it was at home and I was surrounded by so many people I love.  Growing up, I don't know that I ever imagined running from one side of my town to the other!  All of my other races were in different cities so I didn't really realize how far I was running, but I knew most of these streets like the back of my hand and when I think about the ground that we covered in my town, in two hours of running, it's kind of mind boggling!  How did I ever get to a point where I just love running for hours on end?
This year has been amazing for me so far in so many ways and this race is definitely one of the highlights.  I don't really know how else to describe it other than to say, I feel more like ME than I have in a very long time and because of that, so many positive things/people/experiences are happening in my life right now.  I often doubt myself, my abilities, my future, but this race has once again made me see that I am stronger and far more capable than I give myself credit for.
And, now I'm already thinking about a spring race...It never ends...
Here are a few pics from the weekend for you to enjoy (from my Instagram account):
SteelStacks (old Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces at the finish line)
Happy as a clam :)
My sister and nephew who waited out in the cold for me!
My cuz, who makes me look like an elf :)
I hope you all had an amazing weekend as well!  What did yours entail?
Well, if you were this 6 year old, you were also running a Half Marathon!  Did you see this story on Runner's World today?!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes I get carried away by thoughts in my head that are not so positive.  I'm sure this happens to all of us, probably more often that we'd like to admit.  Lately, thoughts of comparison and lack, and even worry about what I may not have in the future (I know, who can predict that?! - Needless and useless) having been taking up residence in my mind.  I am trying to be more conscious of when this happens and try to let these thoughts enter but then just as swiftly exit my mind.  So, today I wanted to start what may end up being a regular feature and remind myself of just a few of the many things I have to be thankful for today:

1.  The feel of the sun warming my face on a gorgeous 75 degree day like today (in October!):

2.  A strong, healthy body that allows me to run, walk, bike, swim, dance, and play to my heart's content:
3.  An amazing family that includes: Caring and supportive parents, the two best sisters in the world, the cutest nieces and nephews ever, and the most awesome cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents in the universe:
4.  Two incredible shelter cats that decided to make me their mommy, nine not-so-long years ago:
5.  Friends that I know I could never live without:
6.  My cozy little apartment, full of hand-me-down furniture, that keeps me safe and warm :)
7.  Vegan anything, but mostly, Vegan Treats!  (If you are in Bethlehem this weekend for the Runner's World Festival, go there!!)
8.  Big hair (mine).
9.  Old movies.
10.  Good books.  


11.  Cucumbers the size of my arm!!!
I am headed back home to Pennsylvania for the Runner's World Half  this weekend (another thing I am thankful for!) so I'll catch up with you next week.  I'm looking forward to a fun weekend with family and friends, maybe spotting some bloggers IRL, and having a great race.  Best of luck to everyone else who is running!
Your turn!
If you'd like, you can share something you're thankful for today!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do You Ever Get the Feeling the Universe is Trying to Tell You Something...

*This post brought to you by my sister, who sent me this article.  THANKS!
You can check out the full article here.  Sorry, ladies in DC, Philly and NYC - you are even worse off than us Baltimoreans :(
That is all.  Carry on with your Tuesday nights everyone :)


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Roundup - IDEA Blogger, the Taper, My Sister's 5K, and Gag-worthy Broccoli

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  This post may be a bit random but there are a few key things I'd like to share about my weekend.

1.  To start, this happened on Friday:

I received an email Friday afternoon informing me I was chosen to be an IDEA Inspired Blogger!  I am SO excited!  IDEA is a worldwide association for health, fitness and wellness professionals.  As some of you know, I've been thinking about getting my personal training, group fitness, and/or health coaching certification for awhile now, and I'm excited to be a part of an organization that supports and fosters professionals in these fields.  I also recognize a lot of other bloggers on this panel, so I know I'm in great company :)
2.  Training and Taper Time!  Only ONE week left until the Runner's World Half! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!  Where did the time go?  This is what my running has looked like the past few weeks:
Week 6 (9/22-9/28) - Two runs of 3-4 miles midweek - 13 mile long run (that felt really good!)
Week 7 (9/29-10/5) - Two runs of 3-4 miles midweek - 7 mile long run (that felt like death!)
Week 8 (10/6-10/12) - Two run of 4 miles midweek - 9 mile long run (that felt amazing!)
[Plus:  Weightlifting, Bodypump, HIIT, Circuits, and/or Biking on non-running days]
A side note about that 7 mile long run in Week 7.  I think I nearly died of heatstroke.  Ugh, it was horrendous.  It was the week we were having the 80-90 heat wave here and I felt shaky, clammy, nauseous and just really NOT good.  I had 9-10 miles on the agenda for that week but I had to stop. I literally felt like I was going to pass out for at least the last mile.  So this weekend I ran 9 which was a bit more than I would have wanted to do the weekend before the race, but I actually felt really, really good so I didn't want to stop. 
This week is all about the TAPER people!  I plan on doing 2 very short, easy runs and maybe a day of light weight lifting or biking.  I also plan on drinking tons of water, coconut water, and Gatorade and EATING. ALL. THE. CARBS.  Yippee!!! I can't wait til next weekend!
3.  My sister ran her FIRST 5K this weekend!!!  Look at her, isn't she the cutest thing ever?!  She's Bib  #3311:
This race was the culmination of her summer running program.  I am so excited and so proud of her!  I think she has caught the running bug now and I couldn't be happier :)  I spoke to her yesterday afternoon to ask her all about it, and I could hear the sense of accomplishment in her voice.  There is really nothing like running your first race.  She finished with a great time and was already talking strategy for her next race.  A new runner has been born my friends!  Yet another convert to our side Hahahaha
4.  And lastly just a public service announcement for you.  If you follow me on Twitter, you'll see I posted this photo after coming home from the grocery store ravenous one evening.  When I am hungry I pick up the most random things:
Broccoli souffle just sounded classy and appetizing to me.  (What?!)  Well, I just 'ate' this with my dinner tonight and it was no bueno my friends.  I urge you in the name of all that is good, do not buy this.  You have been warned. 
Your turn!
How was your weekend?  Anyone race Baltimore or Chicago this weekend?  Or any other races?
Anyone racing Runner's World next weekend and want to meet up?  Please say YES!
What was your latest grocery store fail purchase?!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Big Year

 "Most people wake up one day and realize they didn't do everything they wanted to do." ~ Steve Martin in The Big Year

Time to reveal a new layer of my nerd status.  Not only am I really a "short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man" deep down inside, but I am also a closet bird watcher.  I won't go as far as to classify myself as a 'birder', as the ranks for that hallowed sport are far beyond my reach, but I do enjoy birds a great deal.  Watching them, identifying them, feeding them, trying to identify them by call, but NEVER hunting them! 

I re-watched The Big Year last weekend which prompted this post.  It's a great little movie.  Even if you are not intrigued by birds.  It features the comedic acting genius of Steve Martin - so how can you go wrong there?  A Big Year in birding terms is contest to see who can see, or hear, the most species of birds in a calendar year.  Yes, real people actually do this!  So, in the movie, Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson are three men from very different walks of life who set out to have their own 'Big Year' and win the title of greatest birder of the year.  It's funny, heartwarming and sad at times but I love the premise behind it.  Maybe because of the birds, but also because I love the idea of people putting their heart and soul into whatever it is they are passionate about in pursuit of wild, crazy and unthinkable goals.  That will get me every time. 

So where did my obsession with birds come from?  I can't say for sure, but when I signed up for a Birding class in college, it pretty much sealed the deal.  Doesn't sound like a real class does it?! Au contraire my friends, it was.  I believe the name of the class was actually Biology of the Birds, so we did learn important things like the anatomy and physiology of the avian species, along with their migration patterns, nesting habits, etc, however the main draw for me was the hiking and field trips to go bird watching!  As a nature and animal lover, this was probably the best science elective I've ever taken.  Well, separating out and preparing a slide of my own chromosomes in genetics class was pretty cool too :)  Nowadays, I don't go bird watching as much but I'm always looking for them and trying to identify them when I'm out and about.  I have a little bird feeder on my patio which attracts whole families of birds throughout the day!  It actually makes me infinitely happy when I see birds feeding there each morning and evening.  The bird feeder sits right outside my patio door which also provides endless entertainment for my cats!  Sometimes, they even crouch down and 'hunt' the birds, which ends with one of the cats flinging himself into the glass door. Hahaha

This is what my set up looks like:

I tried to get a picture with the birds feeding, but every time I got too close they flew away :)

I live in an apt so I just have a small suet feeder hung on my patio.  The birds love it.  They are usually perched all over the railings and the suet block itself chomping away.  If you are interested in feeding birds of your own, you can buy the feeder cage as well as the suet blocks at pet stores or even your local Target or Walmart.  My dad even got one of these to hang on one of our trees back home.  If I ever own a home and have some yard space I hope to have more feeders and some birdhouses to encourage some nesting and maybe see some babies!

I mostly get sparrows at my bird feeder and most often, house sparrows, but I also get some others like mourning doves, goldfinches, and mockingbirds.  When I'm out running, walking, hiking or driving, I like to look for new birds and then try to identify them in my guidebook (I know, HUGE nerd!).  This is the field guide I use, but there are many other good renowned brands out there:

In many ways, this has been a 'BigYear' for me too.  Although I'm not chasing a birding goal, I've been chasing a personal goal to find out more about myself, to live more authentically and to be more aware and 'tuned in' to my life than I had been in the past.  I've made some big changes this year and am beginning to see my life in a whole new way.  No spoiler alert on the movie, but I've really begun to see that the end result is not as important as the journey.  This is big for me, a reforming perfectionist, and I feel that my life is finally heading in the right direction. 

I would definitely recommend the movie, and also to feeding the birds if you get a chance :)

Your turn!

Has anyone seen this movie?

Anyone else a bird watcher out there? 

I would actually really love if some of you sent me pictures or descriptions of birds from your neck of the woods that I could try to identify.  It would MAKE MY WEEK!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekly Highlights

I knew this was going to be a great week when it started out Monday morning with a fire drill at my recruiting appointment!  Things only got better from there.  Here are a few highlights:

1.  I heard one of the greatest excuses for being stood up on a date.  A friend of mine told me the day he was supposed to meet a girl he met online she texted him and said she broke her tailbone while rollerblading to a friend's house.  What in the WHAT?  Is this 1995, or is she just underage?!  Stories like this almost make me want to jump back into the absurdity that is online dating.  ALMOST.

2.  The weather this week has been hot and amazing.  80-90 degrees all week, in October.  I'm not complaining :)

3.  Coming across the cutest house ever while walking in a new neighborhood this week.  It looked so out of place, nestled among all the ordinary brick houses, this colorful little adobe.  But you know what, the adobe OWNED it!  I'd love to know the story behind this charming one-of-a-kind house:

4.  This text from my brother-in-law about a conversation he had with my niece on Saturday morning melted my heart:
She apparently thinks every kid has a mommy, a daddy AND a Jilly!
5.  Workout clothes I got this weekend on CRAZY sale.  Disclaimer:  I do not go shopping much (or really at all) anymore for personal things for myself because of my current budget, but I was out looking for birthday gifts for my nieces and nephews and caught some extreme end-of-season sales. 
Check out the prices:  The two items on the left are from JCPenney.  The black mesh running tank was on sale for $7.99 and the purple tee was $2.79.  The two items on the right are from Old Navy.  The tshirt was $2.79 and the printed compression tights were $11.47.  WHAT is that?! They were practically giving the clothes away!
6.  Stopping by the Brooks Run Happy Island Tour at my local running store on Saturday afternoon.  I've been loyal to my Nikes for years, but after the RW Half, I'm going to need a new pair of shoes, and I'm always open to exploring what other brands have to offer.  I got my gait analyzed while running on their outdoor treadmill (they recorded me - see me below!).  They measured the angle from my knee to my ankle which reiterated I'm a neutral runner and recommended 3 shoes (the Glycerin, the Ghost and the Launch), so when I go shopping for new kicks in a few weeks, I'll give these a shot.  I'd love to hear feedback from other runners who train in Brooks!

7.  And finally, coming across this article on the Huffington Post.  As a non-Pumpkin Spice Latte drinker, I found this article humorously ironic.  I'm sorry to break it to you, devout PSL lovers, but um, there is no actual pumpkin in your beloved drink.  The horror! 
I hope you all had a great week as well!  Feel free to share some of your own highlights below!
I would also love to hear from any Brooks runners out there! 
Do you have experience in running in any of the 3 shoe models that were recommended to me?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"To Thine Own Self Be True" ~ William Shakespeare


I realized coming off my last post, some people may think me flighty, unfocused, unrealistic or a host of other things, especially as I relayed the interaction between the corporate recruiter and myself that occurred earlier this week.  And from the outside, it certainly may look that way.  But I've come a long way in the past few years in really figuring out who I am and what I want to contribute to this world while I'm here.  Those lessons, as most are, were very hard learned.  Many times it's only through trials and failures (sometimes many times!) that we finally learn the lesson the Universe intended for us.  There is a definite reason why I am being so careful in preparing for my next 'job'; it stems from lessons learned during my previous career and will be the focus of today's post.  It's a very serious question, that I'm sure for many, as it was for me, will be difficult or perhaps embarrassing to answer:
Have you ever felt pressured to, or did you ever, change yourself for a Job/Relationship/Other Circumstance?
I think in today's society, staying true to oneself is a very difficult exercise indeed.  From a very young age, there is pressure to conform, fit in, etc.  Hence all the media focus in recent years on Bullying in schools.  To stand out, to stand up for what you believe in, in many cases is seen as 'different' or 'weird'.  Which is completely preposterous.  Every human being is unique.  Our internal blueprints, our DNA, are unique only to us, well except if you're an identical twin, but even they start to develop environmental differences the moment they exit the womb.  So, why then, are we expected to be like everyone else?! 
In my previous career, I felt a lot of pressure to be and act a certain way and many times, to go along with things I personally did not agree with.  Since I was embedded in that career for almost 9 years, I also saw many colleagues of mine change over time, and not necessarily for the best.  In Corporate American culture, there is a lot of 'dehumanizing' that goes on.  "It's not personal, it's just business."  I've always despised that statement.  Everything you do to another human being is personal to that other person.  This statement aims to justify doing something that is inhumane, unjust, unfair or just plain mean as long as you are making money while doing it??! 
I don't ever want to feel like I need to compromise my personal values, or who I am, in order to succeed.  And I think that's the problem with trying to fit yourself into a 'job'.  I believe we were all put on this earth to be exactly who we are.  Modern society will try everything it can to get you to bend, to sway, to buy the latest whatever, to change who you are, but the reality is, that you are enough just as you are.  And no job, no person, no one should make you feel otherwise.  The path for me seems to be leading me more and more to work for myself one day.  I think as long as you are working for someone else, there will always be a little bit of pressure to conform to what that other person wants you to be. 
I said to a friend the other night that perhaps I wasted 'the best years of my life' in my previous job and she reminded me that everything happens for a reason. Indeed, I learned many good lessons, I have so many good memories, and most of all, I met some AMAZING people (*see below) and lifelong friends.  Life is all about the experiences along the way and the people you share them with, so if I tally up all of those in the last 9 years, I definitely come out on top :)
Mini-reunion that happened this week!

**My self-selected October Challenge was going to be a No Alcohol Month, partially because I wanted my diet to be 'clean' going into the RW Half in 2 weeks, however, this work reunion happened on Tuesday (Oct 1st!).  C'est la vie!  We'll see how the rest of the month goes :)
Your turn, if you'd like to share:
Have you ever felt pressured to change who you are to fit in somewhere or with someone?