Reflections

September has always felt like a fresh start thanks to countless years at school, but this one passed by in a blur thanks to my move. It strikes me how 2016 has been such a bizarre and impactful year in my life, both good and bad, from the very beginning. I lost my beloved cat and  aunt, both who I still can’t believe are gone. I became a personal trainer. Made new friends. Moved across the country. Started a new job. And I’m sure there are many other factors that have gone into this year. I’m not sure what’s to say about it other than a person’s ability to adapt is weird and empowering.

Tuesday’s most exciting part of the day was the fact that I mastered how to make a latte. My mom insists the foam makes a woman, but I was just focused on getting the milk to look like that. Yay me. Listen, it’s pertinent to my job.

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Breakfast was a yummy bowl of oats with almond milk, banana, raisins, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. The picture makes me want to eat more right now.

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Lunch was another serving of quinoa and red beans with Brussels sprouts and spinach. No picture was snapped, but it looked just like it did yesterday.

Since it was National Taco Day, I decided to make more tacos for myself. This time, I grilled up some cod and served it over a medley of zucchini noodles and red pepper. Topped with soyaki and some hummus on the side.

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I’m doing pretty good for myself cooking. According to the scale at my new gym (that I don’t know if I trust or not), I’m down four pounds since I’ve moved. I’ve felt lighter and my clothes fit nicely, so I’ll roll with it.

I’ve remained solid in the exercise department even though it’s not my livelihood at the moment. Tuesday’s workout was a run/walk combination that ended with four minutes of HIIT that left me breathless. After a little yoga, I called it a night!

I already prefer working out in the evening to waking up before the sun, so long as I go to the gym before heading to my apartment. Routine, people. It’s a beautiful thing!

Happy Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week!

I’m Onto You, Suzanne Summers

I had a dream two nights ago that Suzanne Summers was stalking me, so you better believe I’ve been checking over my shoulder whenever I leave the house. We were cool Ms. Summers, don’t pull a Liza on me.* In the dream, we were participating in a Hunger Games-esque event, except it had nothing to do with death. If I remember correctly, then if Suzanne “tagged” me, then I had to go live outside in nature. This all seemed very plausible in my dream, but now makes no sense at all.

*If you forgot that Liza Minelli stalks me, then lucky you. It’s a thing. I’m sure I’ve written posts about it before. She’s remained stagnant as of late. Let’s not jinx that.

Anyways….is anyone else slightly alarmed that it’s already October 21? I’m sorry, but I thought it was still July of 2012. Time is flying! I better step up my studying because my test date is approaching.

Here are some eats from the past few days we’ve been away from each other.

Scenes from my dad’s birthday dinner Act I. Act II actually doesn’t have a picture, but my family went out and it was fun, happy, and delicious.

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A very interesting looking meal with waffles, scrambled eggs with a chicken sausage, and a big bowl of berries. My breakfasts are often big meals because they fuel me for my workouts and because it’s the best meal of the day.

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This stir fry was impressive. Steak, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach over rice with ginger sesame dressing drizzled on top.

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Peanut butter toast can do no wrong.

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Grilled tilapia, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, and rotini. Yum!

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This morning’s plate of cakes. I can’t get enough of these!

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Workouts the past few days included grueling strength training sessions, lap swims, spin classes, long runs (slightly painful thanks to new shoes which I’ll debut tomorrow!), and core workouts that left me with sore abs whenever I sneeze (I sneeze a lot, ouch!).

In other news, I hung out with my family a lot this weekend which is always good for laughs and fun, enjoyed the nice weather with a few walks outside, cleaned and prepared for fall/winter (still more to do, ugh!), worked (it’s a blessing to love what I do), and lost a few years of my life trying to buy Star Wars tickets. For whatever reason, they are starting to premiere the new film BEFORE midnight, so my friend Stephanie and I have our tickets for 11:50. We like to stick to the idea of premiering a  movie at midnight, but in this situation, beggars really can’t be choosers. It is very exciting though and we are now two months away!

I can’t get over this picture:

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I also bought another decal for my computer. I like the subtlety of my Harry Potter one that fits right over the apple on the Mac, and I thought I was continuing this trend when I bought this new one. Not so much. It’s huge! I had to cut it.

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I think my nerd is showing just a bit.

Also, my coffee mug looks super creepy in that picture and it was unintentional!

Happy Wednesday!

Reflections

I’m surprised as you are, but somehow, October is coming to a close. It all happened so fast, from June to now, though if I’m being honest, even last year passed by quickly. Time needs to slow down except for situations where you are dreading something because then it can speed up, thanks very much.

Thinking about this while swimming laps today (I probably could have just swam outside in the pouring rain…), I wondered how I could incorporate this into a post. The idea of gratitude is one that reinforces a mindful life to be lived. We think a lot about what we are thankful for coming Thanksgiving and through the holidays, but I’ve found that it is a matter we all struggle to convey otherwise.

For every new month, I want to talk about a few of the things I am excited about, feel are important, and worthy of admiration. At the end of every month, I want to offer a word of reflection for all of the wonderful, important, and surprising events that have happened in my life for which I am grateful.

Yes, we still have a week left of October- yay Halloween!- but since I thought of the idea today, I want to introduce the post today too!

October Happenings:
– Wedding dress shopping with my sister, mom, and my sister’s future mother in-law
– Family party with good food, good wine, and great celebrations
– My dad’s birthday
– My sister’s birthday (Halloween)
– Playing kickball
– College reunion apple-picking trip
– My cousin’s ring and tassel ceremony
– Experimenting more in the kitchen
– Meals with friends
– Fall weather
– Writing
– Reading more

Okay, this was harder than I thought. When I asked my mom to remind me of any such events she said, “I don’t think you have any. Any of us.” Um, thanks mom.

But I have a feeling this is because I wasn’t keeping this idea in mind while living my life. As I am constantly on a quest of self-improvement, one facet I am actively working on is mindfulness. This relates in terms to eating and living in general, having the ability to relax and understand just what is happening to me in that particular moment. Important life lessons are there for the taking, but you won’t learn or grow in anything if you haven’t noticed it happening!

Wedding dress shopping was such a fun and exciting event because as MOH and as a sister to someone who is very happy, that makes me very happy. I may tend to be more of the princess in the family, but she’ll find the dress she adores.

Yeah, I’m not sharing that picture! NO SPOILERS!

The family party I talked about earlier this week, but if nothing else, it is just remarkable that my huge extended family can get along as well as we do. Our time together is always filled with laughter and good old bonding and I am so grateful for that.

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With my cousins Erin and Mikey.

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With my sister Lauren and cousins Erin and Carolyn.

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With my Godmother and cousin Maura.

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With Uncle Mike possibly vogueing and Mikey photobombing.

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With my Aunt Stacy.

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With my Uncle Peter.

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With two of the greatest women I know: my Auntie Bea and Grandma.

Birthdays are the obvious ones because it means another great year of happiness and health, which we are all fortunate to have. No one else in my immediate family cares about their birthdays as much as me, which I don’t understand, but just the idea of a birthday is a really cool concept. If you hate your birthday, I just want to throw this out there: It could be worse, think of where else you’d be….?!

Kickball has just been a really fun thing to do to meet some cool new people and I’ve enjoyed playing. The ball is not as small as I remember and much harder to kick, but I’ve had some memorable- good and bad- moments on the field.

Anytime I get to see my college friends, I get super happy. It’s funny how we can spend so much time apart, but when we finally get together again, it seems like no time has passed at all. And this time was particularly special because my friend Erin is getting married and asked me to be one of her bridesmaids in the form of Hogwarts acceptance letter. Yay!

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Not only was it surreal to be back at my alma mater for the first time since graduation, but it was for a super cool deal. I was extremely honored when my cousin Erin asked me to be her sponsor for her ring and tassel ceremony because, as I’ve said 1000 times before, family is important to me. I’m really glad and fortunate to not only be close with my siblings, but to have formed some great, lasting relationships with my cousins. This has shown itself in some more serious ways- being the sponsor- and silly ways- finding this shirt in a store and immediately having to share it with them.

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I’ve taken more liberty and risks when it comes to cooking and baking lately and I’m having a lot of fun! Let me tell you, it’s not always been perfect. I still have a waffle recipe I need to work on, but just the process of learning and exploring the science of cooking has been fascinating. While I’ve tried developing some recipes of my own, I also think it’s important to try different recipes because you get to learn how to use different techniques and strategies you may never have thought of before. That’s the essence of learning!

This month, I’ve shared some great meals with friends. From the mini college reunion I mentioned before, to brunch with my friends Lauren and Andrea and dinner with my friends Bobby, Laura, Lauren, Emily, and Mary, I’ve been fortunate to spend some quality time over quality food to catch up. Maintaining friendships are such an important part of life, but I find that I often take them for granted and expect them to just be there. Looking back on my life, I realize that I’ve had a lot of friends come and go for all sorts of reasons, so it is remarkable how some friendships last.

I mentioned my affinity for apples before, and also how I can’t eat them year round due to some pretty sucky spring allergies (that last too long!), but fall is the time I can enjoy them without my throat growing itchy and threatening to close- it hasn’t yet, no worries. Thank you, fall, for this gift to eat apples during its best season, but also thank you for your beauty. Most afternoons, I’ll walk the dog with my mom, or when I’m off running on my own, I get to look out into the beautiful landscape that surrounds me. From the colorful foliage to the crisp chill in the air, fall makes me so blissful and content, albeit a tad nostalgic- though that isn’t necessarily bad!

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For whatever reason- probably because I’ve put in more thought and effort- my writing has been taking off. Though I haven’t dedicated as much time to the editing process as I should, right now, I’m focused on just getting my words down. Whether for my blog, which I feel I have been so much more consistent, or for short stories and a novel I am working on- not about the mermaids, yet!- I’ve been so happy to connect my thoughts and words to something more concrete. Writing is not only an outlet, but a passion. Passions, I have learned, do not always come easy, but have to be fostered, and I have begun to put that into practice more.

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The reflection I will end on is actually something that has occurred more frequently these past couple of months, though I suppose that could be said about a lot of my points. Last year, I didn’t have as much time to read for fun, or at least what I wanted to read, between work, classes, and homework. When I got into bed, I fell asleep immediately. Having the time and liberty to read to my heart’s content has made me smarter, happier, and more thoughtful. Reading is such an unbelievable privilege of humanity.

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These reflections were not in any particular order, but were typed as I thought of them. October, as the months and years before it, have passed by so quickly, but they were not without their lasting memories and important moments.

Look for a post, come early November (the best month!) where I discuss some of the things in which I’m looking forward!

Attack of the Snake-Worm

As I was wandering around campus today in search of iced coffee because for some awful twist of fate, it’s HOT HOT HOT in October. Everyone knows that October is not supposed to be hot or cold. It’s supposed to be cool, so that you can survive wearing a cozy sweater and high boots during the day and at night pull on the sweatshirt and yoga pants, get yourself a warm cup of tea, and curl up with a good book  homework. But since it does happen to be warm and despite my princess-like narcissism, I cannot in fact control the weather, I was in hot pursuit of an iced coffee. And there’s a Dunkin Donuts on campus, so really it was almost as though I had to do it.

As I was speed-walking over before class, I almost stepped on what could only be described as either a gigantic worm or a very tiny snake. Don’t be fooled. Even a small snake, is a vicious snake. Perhaps even more so because it’s so small you can’t even see it coming. 

Good thing my natural instinct is to always look down when I’m walking, so as to avoid any awkward eye contact or hesitant wave, and I caught the snake-worm in my sight before I stepped down on it, wearing a flip flop. Snake-worm juice could have sprayed on top of my toes…

Since I was in a sort of rush, I was walking at a fast clip, and in a difficult feat of natural athleticism, I was able to twist myself out of the way, almost fall over into the grass, but still run away from the snake-worm pretty quickly. I only screamed once as I didn’t want the snake-worm to hear my fear.

Fear that would have been justified because when I was about to step down on it, the snake-worm flounced its body up in the air and made a hissing noise at me. I’ll admit the hissing noise might now be a product of my imagination, however, looking back I do remember some sort of squealing coming from the snake-worm, so I will stand by it. 

For future reference, if you find yourself about to step down on a snake-worm, just let it win the sidewalk and continue walking on the grass. You have to respect an animal that small who can physically lift itself up towards you without the use of arms, legs, or even a head really. I mean a worm (probably a snake) is literally just a tube of goo. Props, snake-worm.

Then, I was across the street from the Dunkins and kind of running because I was afraid the snake-worm was chasing me when a butterfly flew into my face. I actually can’t be sure that it was a butterfly and not for instance, a small bird, (it was probably a bird) because it hit me in the cheek and I only had a side view of it. So hard, I might add, that I think it left a small wing-mark on my face and blinded me from seeing its true identity of a bird. I can’t be sure though because I wasn’t about to stop anyone to one, admit that a small bird flew into my face and two, ask if said face was red.

By the time I got to Dunkins, I was so traumatized that I ordered two munchkins to go along with my iced coffee because I pretty much deserved it after getting attacked by a snake-worm and bird. Pumpkin and chocolate.