Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for the Struggles and Giveaway Winner

The giveaway winner for the WIN Sports Detergent has been drawn!  Congratulations!  Check the Rafflecopter here to see if it was you!  I will be emailing the winner to get your info (mailing address/etc) to send to the company.

About this time of year, everyone becomes a bit more mindful of the blessings in their lives.  As we are surrounded by family and friends, in warm houses with too much to eat, we are aware that many are not so lucky.  My Thanksgiving post is not going to be quite so typical, in that I'm not going to list out all the incredible, wonderful (and probably undeserved) blessings in my life.  Ok, I might do that too.  But today I want to talk about being thankful not only for the good things in life, but for the not-so-good things too; the things that sometimes feel like curses at times.  What I'm starting to realize is that the struggles make me who I am and without them I probably wouldn't be the person I am today. 

To start off, I want to say that I realize I am probably more fortunate than many others around the world.  I have the most loving family and friends.  I can feed, clothe and shelter myself.  I live in a nation that allows me freedoms that people in other nations only dream about.  I have luckily never personally experienced the traumas of oppression, war, disease or famine.  There are millions of people who cannot say the same, and yet, I'm sure complain less than I do.  So before I go any further I want to say I am grateful for all that I have and all that I am, even if I struggle with that gratefulness from time to time.

I think it is simply human nature to never be satisfied.  It certainly is reinforced in our American culture, and it takes a lot of self control and mindfulness to rise above the messages of consumerism we are fed every day.  Of course, I find myself envious of or craving material items others may have at times, but more often its the non-material things I find myself longing for.  The truth is, I don't think one kind of longing is 'better' than the other.  The key to happiness is to be able to be happy, exactly as you are.  It's a tough tough notion. 

There are many things I've struggled with in recent years, and continue to struggle with, and when times are hard I resent these struggles so so much.  I find myself envying others who I think have it 'easier' than I do.  Why haven't I found my life partner yet, I think?  Why am I still struggling to make ends meet?  Why can't I seem to find my path in life?  Why can't I run a 1:45 half marathon?! 

If things were always easy, do you think you would appreciate your circumstances and victories as much?  I really don't think so.  Perhaps my love/hate relationship with the struggle is what made me gravitate to running so long ago.  Running is not always easy.  It's just not.  It takes a lot of guts to stick with something day in and day out, when conditions are good and when they are terrible.  When you're having a great day and when you're feeling like crap.  To run in a snowstorm or in the middle of a heat wave.  But to quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, "...the hard is what makes it great..".  If running was easy, I don't think my love affair with it would have lasted this long.

As much as I sometimes lament that my current situation is not all that I'd want it to be, when I look back and see all the hard work I put in to get here, I am so thankful.  I think about all the $hit I went through at my old job, but despite everything that was happening never compromised my ethics or values.  Sure, it's hard sometimes when I worry about paying the bills, but that struggle proved to me just how strong I am, and how I won't back down from doing what I believe is right.  Although it sure felt like it at the time, I didn't crumble under the pressure.  And now I'm doing work that's putting real goodness back into the world, even if just in a small way.  If I never got paid a cent, I would still show up to care for, nurture, and love these children with zero obligation to do so.  It's really a shame that this modern society we humans built runs on money, instead of good deeds :)

As much as I hate being single sometimes, I know that these years are undoubtedly making me stronger.  Having to do everything alone can be really hard and scary sometimes but I've proven that I can do it over and over.  Having no one to 'fall back on' or rely on really shows you who you are.  It's possible I may never find someone to share my life with and I have to make peace with that.  I mean, who knows, perhaps I was married 8 times in a previous life like Liz Taylor, so I don't get one this time around?!

Here's something to think about - Do you know what is formed after many years of intense pressure and heat?  Diamonds!  Am I saying that one day I'm going to be a diamond?!  Ha, I don't know.  I'm not even sure that makes sense.  But the point I'm trying to make is that the struggles, the pressure, the work, is what make the final product so stunning, and I am the final product.  Not my job, or my money, or my house or my spouse.  Just smiling, shining, little ol diamond in the rough me.

So, today and always I want to make an effort to be thankful for the good things and the hard things, because without both I don't think I'd be the person I am today.

And just in case my family and friends think they're getting the shaft amidst all this talk of my problems, you're definitely not!  I know you all have my back and love me just as I am, just as I do you.  So, here's a little Beatles shout out to you all:

And now I'm off to the little town of Bethlehem to celebrate the holiday and my grandmother's 90th birthday, so you won't hear from me until next week, which somehow will land us in the month of December?!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

What are you thankful for?

Do you think your struggles are something to regret or be thankful for?

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Monday, November 24, 2014

20 Things

Today I'm linking up with Mama Kat for her Writer's Workshop.  She sends out a list of writing prompts via email weekly, which I've been receiving for ages, but have yet to join in, until today.  You're actually supposed to link up on Thursdays so this is about 4 days late, but oh well!  I chose the following prompt:

Five Things. List 5 things we don’t know about you, 5 things you’re knowledgeable about, 5 things you know nothing about, and 5 things you believe.

5 Things You Don't Know About Me:

1.  I broke my foot playing softball in 5th grade.  That's the only bone I've ever broken and now my right foot has a nub that sticks out the side.  Attractive!
2.  I haven't cut my hair since the summer of 2012.  I should probably get on that.
3.  I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, nor seen any of the movies.  I have no explanation for this.
4.  I know how to sing 'O Come All Ye Faithful' in Latin
5.  I currently do not have any piercings (not even my ears!) or tattoos

5 Things I'm Knowledgeable About:

1.  Children and Babies
2.  Lactose-free foods
3.  Procrastinating
4.  How to wear braces for years and still have crooked teeth :)
5.  How to avoid cooking and still eat

5 Things I Know Nothing About:

1.  Math
2.  Making decisions in a timely manner
3.  Childbirth
4.  Driving a stick shift
5.  The purpose of life

5 Things I Believe:

1.  You can have several different kinds of "soul mates" in one lifetime
2.  Running is therapy
3.  Karma, baby
4.  Animals are souls too
5.  Spring always comes (recent words of wisdom from my mom)

Your turn!  Pick a few and tell me about YOU!

*You can still enter my WIN sports detergent giveaway here!  Winner will be chosen on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIN Sports Detergent Review and Giveaway!

Hi there!  Today I'm coming at you with a product review for a sport-specific laundry detergent.  I know, I never knew such a product existed either!  I recently had the opportunity to try some WIN Sports Detergent, which is made to specifically treat athletic clothing. 
What makes WIN different from regular laundry detergent is that it is formulated to remove oil, bacteria and odor from synthetic fabrics (most detergents are targeted mainly to clean cotton garments).  Most running clothes are made from synthetic fabrics - polyester, nylon, spandex, etc.  Think tech shirts, jackets, and running tights - usually 0% cotton.  The 'tech' fabrics we wear to run are much better than cotton for their wicking abilities (ie. less chafing!) but they tend to retain odors more than cotton.  At least, I know this is true with my stuff.  Who knows, maybe I'm just extra sweaty?!
As someone who has to pay to do laundry, I often let my clothes sit for a couple of weeks!  It's true, I do not do a load every week.  Who has that many rolls of quarters!?  So, once I get my running clothes in the washer, it's important they get clean.

Please avert your eyes from my delicates ;)
WIN sent me a bottle of their original, as well as a bottle of their eco-friendly green formula, to try.  I've used both with a plethora of running clothes (shirts, tanks, tights, sports bras, socks) and I'm happy to say they all came out delightfully fresh.  I did notice that WIN does not have any kind of detectable scent, which is a bit different than most of the heavily scented detergents I usually use.  The green version is touted as fragrance-free and designed for sensitive skin, but I didn't notice anything with the original version either.  I also like that WIN does not test their product on animals.
WIN is currently available online (via Amazon here) and in select sporting goods stores, gyms and studios.  However, I have a chance for you to win TWO bottles of your own (1 original, 1 green)!  So, what are you waiting for?  No one wants to be the smelly one at the gym!  Enter the Rafflecopter below and good luck!  (Giveaway will end next Wed 11/26/14)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent two bottles of WIN detergent for this review, but was not otherwise compensated.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Birthdays and Back to Life

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes of wellness on my last post.  They worked because I'm finally feeling like a human being again!  Man, last week was rough.  I still don't know what I had because I didn't have any traditional cold symptoms.  My best guess is that I had a mild case of bubonic plague.

Anywayyyyyyyyy, I'm feeling almost fully recovered now and have regained about 95% of my speaking voice.  Which is kind of shame because I just missed my one and only opportunity to be a 1-900 operator with that raspy, hoarse voice.  Oh well.  Moving on.........

This weekend I went back to PA because I had two very important birthday parties to attend. 

First, on Saturday, I attended the 12th birthday celebration of my best friend's step daughter.  I have known this sweet funny girl since she was about 2 I think?!  I can't believe she's a 'tween' already!  It's kind of a strange feeling to see kids grow up before your eyes.  I remember running around the house playing hide and seek with her when she was a toddler and now she is into make up, Snapchat and has a "boyfriend"?!  How did this happen?

In addition to that silly girl's birthday, my nephew had a celebration of his own on Sunday when he turned 4!  I'll tell you, it's not until you, or people you know, have kids that you realize how fast time goes.  I have no idea where the past 4 years went.
His party was at a ski resort back home and was pretty much beyond any 4 year old's wildest dreams. 



You see that there bounce house?  Well, you're looking at the ONLY adult in attendance who tried that puppy out! HAHAHA  I had not only one, but two, nephews who would not go in there without Aunt Jilly.  So in I went.  An Aunt's gotta do what an Aunt's gotta do.  Like a good nanny, I tried to maintain order inside that thing, but have you ever seen the inside of a bounce house filled with more than a dozen kids hopped up on sugar and on a birthday party high?! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
I also partook in the photo booth, again with children in tow:
I ended up having to drive down a mountain and back to Baltimore in the rain and dark late Sunday night but it was worth it to make this boy SMILE! 
My nieces and nephews are young and still idolize me a bit, but I know the day will come when they probably won't want to be seen with me, so I'm taking it all in while I can :)

In other news, after taking FIVE days off from working out/running last week while I was dying, I finally felt strong enough to head out for a run on Saturday.  It was my first really chilly outdoor run of the year so I layered up, but honestly I was so happy to be running after almost a week off I didn't even feel the 30 degree temps!  I ran a 5k in my Hokas and yes, I'm still loving them.  They honestly felt great right out of the box for me and there was no break-in period.  They're also the lightest shoes I've ever worn, which is a really nice, fast feeling.  I'll write up a formal review when I put more miles on them.

While I was home, I also got to witness the unveiling of my mom's always highly anticipated annual Christmas card!  My mom LOVES her family.  She just does.  Her children, and now grandchildren, are her life, and her pride and joy.  Because of this, the woman still designs and sends out photo Christmas cards every year.  Behold this year's winning compilation:

I can't tell you how great it feels to be back in the land of the living once more.  I've resumed planking and now have to make up about 4 or more minutes of missed planks?! Let's see if I can hold a plank that long.

Thanks again for your get well wishes :)

If have kids, or know kids, does it seem like they just grow up in the blink of an eye?!

How was your running weather this weekend?

Do you send out Christmas cards?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Delirious Musings from my Deathbed

That may be a slight exaggeration.  However, this is my life right now:

And this:
And a little bit of old-school this:

I spent half my paycheck at Walgreens in attempt to cure myself of spotted fever or rubella or whatever exotic disease is invading my body right now.  What started off as a 'tickle' in my throat the other night turned into laryngitis (ie. I can't all) and all over body aches.  It hurt so bad to move.  So that's been fun.  Someone put me out of my misery pleeeeeeeeeeeease.

I guess there was a reason I was craving green smoothies all weekend.  Something was definitely brewing.  You have no idea how much it's killing me that I wasn't able to run outside the past 3 days because it's been 65 degrees here!  Of course, the forecast for tomorrow is in the 40's.  I will often continue my workouts if I have a cold but this was no cold.  I had no sniffles, no sneezing, no runny nose.  I did however feel like I had been hit by a truck and/or a pack of Real New Jersey housewives.  On the work front, try wrangling toddlers without speaking sometime.  Like nailing Jello to a wall. 

I'm so delirious I shouldn't even be blogging right now, but I like to try to post at least 2x a week for you.  So if none of this makes sense, then I'm sorry, and just come back tomorrow.


- Tinder continues to provide me with opportunities to hone my improv skills:
He obviously doesn't share my sense of humor
- I learned some life-saving information which I'm sharing with you today.  If you ever find yourself the unlucky inhabitant of a free falling elevator car, well then watch and learn as MIT students explain how to survive that one a million disaster HERE.  You're welcome.
- I'm finally wearing the right bra size.  My bras have been 'loose' for some time.  What can I say I was in denial/had delusions of grandeur.  Well, recently I popped in to VS to claim my free undies (does anyone else get those coupons in the mail?!) and the nice saleslady asked, as they always do, if I wanted a bra fitting.  Sure, why not.  Just as I suspected, my boobs have shrunk.  How sad for them.  So I thanked her and went on my way, and purchased new smaller bras for half the price at Kohl's.  The End.
- I just started following Insta2yearold on Instagram.  It's kind of like Honest Toddler from Facebook, in that they are both written from the perspective of snarky little babies.  If you like kids and find them endlessly hilarious, I recommend both of these accounts to you.
- It was Leo's birthday today.  And Buzzfeed may just cure my bird flu with 41 Reasons To Be Thankful for Leonardio DiCaprio Today  I mean, there's got to be a reason we're both still single Leo.  Just sayin'.  Call me
- I lost count of how many times Kim Kardashian's giant oily butt cheeks have popped up on my newsfeed today.
- If you haven't had enough of my delirious ramblings by now and are looking for even more, then head on over to The Northeast Bloggers Network where I'm the featured Blog of the Week!  Hopefully, my writing in that post is more sound than this one. 
Lastly, I apologize for giving you two fluffy posts this week.  I am working on some meatier articles (by 'working on', I mean they are still just bullet points in my head), but there was no way I could produce them in my current condition.
And I'm off to bed.  I hope I don't die and that I wake tomorrow as the Bionic Woman.  Or just healthy 'ol Bean.  Either will do.  Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
What do you do when you're sick?
Do you have any tried and true remedies to share?!
Do you have any idea if you're wearing the right bra size?!

Monday, November 10, 2014

(Nearly) Wordless Weekend

Happy Hour
Currently reading...
Green smoothies on repeat
First test-run!!!
Planking the day away
What did you do this weekend?!


Friday, November 7, 2014

What Would You Do?

I was recently re-watching the always fabulous Rachel McAdams and the adorable Domhnall Gleeson in About Time, and it got me thinking, 'If I had the ability to travel back in time and fix past mistakes, would I?'.  Would you?

There's a lot of talk about acceptance in self help and spiritual circles.  Phrases like 'everything happens for a reason' and 'there are no mistakes' get tossed around.  If you're highly enlightened you're supposed to be mindful and present and let go of the past.  I often hear people say their mistakes led them to where they are now so they wouldn't change a thing.  But you know what, I don't think I buy into all that. 

I will concede that you often learn from your mistakes, but do I think I would leave ALL of the mistakes from my past untouched, if I had the chance for a "redo"?  Nope.  No I don't.  Sometimes you just simply say or do the wrong thing, and who wouldn't want to take back those idiotic moments of their life?  I will also concede that hindsight gives you the advantage of wisdom that you may not have had when you were smack dab in the middle of a decision.  But, I also personally think that I knew I was making wrong choices at times, and did so out of convenience/stubbornness/choosing the path of least resistance. 

Perhaps I'm saying all this because I don't feel I'm "there" yet, wherever that may be.  And maybe those who say they wouldn't undo anything from the past feel they are "there", and it was the sum total of every choice they ever made that brought them to that happy place. 

I'm not saying I'd like to rewrite my entire history, but if someone handed me the keys to a 1985 DeLorean equipped with a fully functioning flux capacitor, I wouldn't turn it down!  There are many little things I wish I could un-say or un-do and there are also a few pivotal moments that I'd love to go back to and make a different choice to see how it affects the present.  Kind of like a real life Choose Your Own Adventure (remember those books?!) or 13 Going on 30

Well, if you've made it this far and you're still thinking, 'Nope, I wouldn't change a thing', then let me throw a little challenge your way.  Watch this video and if you make it through the entire thing and don't want those 2 minutes and 40 seconds of your life back afterward, well then, YOU WIN my friend! 


In all seriousness though, what you would do if given the gift of time travel?  Use it or lose it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Books, Water weight, and Tinder gems

This weekend post is a day late, and I blame it completely on this:

I picked up this book at the library Saturday afternoon, and there went my weekend.  Glued to the pages.  I couldn't stop reading, even though I wanted to, because I knew if I didn't the story would end.  This is a book of fiction, set in WWII Europe, but it felt very real and honestly could have been the story of any number of millions of European children during the war.  The book alternates between the story of Werner, a young German orphan, whose eagerness to escape the mines ends up landing him a spot in Hitler's Third Reich army, and Marie-Laure, a young blind French girl who is displaced from her hometown of Paris due to the German occupation.  Their paths end up fatefully crossing, and that's all I'm gonna say.  [As I was reading, I was imagining some of the places Cely had visited on her recent trip to Europe.  Her photos and writings from that trip were all beautiful.]

So, other than spending two entire days reading that novel did I accomplish anything else useful?

On Friday, I went to the gym after work to do a quick run on the treadmill.  Seeing as I don't own a scale, I rarely weigh myself, but I decided to step on the digital scale in the locker room just for kicks.  Fun right?!  Then, I got on the treadmill and did a quick 3 miles.  I decided to weigh myself again post-run just to see if there was any difference, and I was a full POUND lighter, down to the tenth.  I sweated a fair amount and really didn't drink anything while running but it still surprised me.  I kind of wish I did have a scale because I'd be really interested to see how much water weight I lose on an outdoor run in the summer.  I'm guessing it's got to be at least 2-4 pounds?  Does anyone do this regularly to track their water intake?  I know I definitely don't drink enough water most days, but this inspired me to do so, seeing just how much I lost in 30 mins!

After the gym, I stopped by Wegmans and picked up 2 delicious packages of sushi.  No pic, because I ate it too fast.  Wegmans wins hands down for best supermarket sushi.  I'm leery of eating the sushi at most other grocery stores, but Wegmans never fails. I also picked up a new holiday tea while I was there:

It's yummy.  It's herbal and caffeine free so you can drink it late at night when you're up reading until 2am.  It's very sweet as is because of the caramel flavor and spices, so you really don't need any sugar or sweetener.  Trust me, I added honey like I usually do, and it was overly sweet.

After picking up several new library books on Saturday I had some errands to run.  My book high quickly wore off the second I stepped inside a store and saw holiday decorations everywhere and heard Christmas music playing through store's loudspeakers!?  So I guess we're here already.

Sunday I spent most of the morning lazily lying on my couch, watching a whole bunch of people run some little race in NYC.  The splits the elite men and women were running in the final miles of the marathon were literally blowing my mind.  5 min miles at mile 24?!  I can't even wrap my mind around that.

I had to work Sunday night until after 9pm, but I managed to finish the book by staying up until 1:30am after I got home.  Worth the raccoon eyes the next day. 

Oh, and I thought I'd end this post on a Tinder update.  Yes, I'm still on Tinder but rarely do anything with it anymore, except look at the ridiculous photo "moments" some of these cheesers post.  Like this one:

I mean WHO are these people posting screenshots of their bank accounts to attract women?!?! I just apparently don't understand the courting rituals of humans anymore.  This is why I've been on a total of TWO Tinder dates since I started that debacle back in the summer.  Overabundance of quality here, that's why.

Andddddddddd, that's about all I have.

Happy Monday a day late, which simply means it's Tuesday.

Favorite books this year?

Do you trust supermarket sushi?

Ever measured the water weight you lose on a run?

Do you want to take over my Tinder account?!