SUNDAY MORNING

Sunday, March 1, 2015

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I flew in late Tuesday night from Honduras.  Snow started falling a couple of hours before I landed, so I hustled through customs and ran to the gate of an earlier flight to try to make it home before the snow brought air travel to a grinding hault.  Unfortunately, I picked up some sort of unstoppable cold in Honduras, so I’ve been laying low and drinking lots of tea in an effort to shake it.  Here’s to a quiet Sunday and easing into the week ahead.

 

 In case you are looking for a little reading with your morning cup of coffee:

– Did you hear that Matthew McConaughey will play Caballo Blanco in the new Born to Run movie?

– Where to eat:  DC’s Innovative Restaurant Scene

– I just bought a 10 pound bag of quinoa, so I am going to be cooking my way through these recipes.

– This week’s snow day beauty trial: at-home gel sans uv lamp.  I bought this perfectly neutral light gray polish and this topcoat — no base coat necessary.  Review so far:  this might be my favorite polish brush I’ve ever used.

– After these sunset cocktails in Sedona, we headed to this restaurant.  (Courtesy of Sunset magazine’s Sedona travel guide)

Wrinkly dog burritos (!)

–  Ann Lamott on living a satisfying life:

“I learned that opening myself to my own love and to life’s tough loveliness was not only the most delicious, amazing thing on Earth but it was also quantum. It would radiate out to a cold, hungry world. Beautiful moments heal, as do real cocoa, Pete Seeger, a walk on old fire roads. All I ever wanted since I arrived here on Earth were the things that turned out to be within reach, the same things I needed as a baby—to go from cold to warm, lonely to held, the vessel to the giver, empty to full. You can change the world with a hot bath, if you sink into it from a place of knowing that you are worth profound care, even when you’re dirty and rattled. Who knew?”

 

And, in case you missed it here:

– The most helpful career advice I’ve heard in quite a while.

– Thoughts from a long run in Santa Monica.

– And, hiking in Sedona.

CAREER ADVICE: TAKE YOUR LICKS

Friday, February 27, 2015

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Since we’re on the topic of professional discontent, job changes and career trajectory, I thought I’d share an article that resonated deeply at the time when I wrote this and this.  It’s a short piece by Amy Poehler on a summer she spent scooping ice cream as a teenager.  You can read it here.

In the midst of her narrative there are two bits of career advice that I have reminded myself of time and again and have passed on to others who are navigating professional growth, changes and setbacks.

 

First:

“I wasn’t sure yet that I wanted to be an actor. I was planning to go to Boston College as an English major and maybe become a teacher, like both of my parents. But when I stood in the dining room and demanded attention I was reminded of things I already secretly knew about myself. I wasn’t shy, I liked to be looked at, and making people laugh released a certain kind of hot lava into my body that made me feel like a queen.”

Stated another way, what do you secretly know about yourself and what makes you feel like you have lava pulsing through your veins?

 

Second:

“I quit when the summer ended. I had started forgetting to charge for whipped cream. I was failing to use the ice scoop. A customer told me I was banging the drum “too hard.” She was right. I was angry; I wanted to be gone. It’s important to know when it’s time to turn in your kazoo.”

Stated another way, know when it’s time to exit.

 

I find the story simplistic and relatable, yet challenging and confronting.  What I love about this piece is the theme of honesty with ourselves – acknowledging what we already know to be true about who we are, working to define then enact our passions, having the self-awareness to know when to leave, and knowing where our time is best spent and our presence is best suited.

I think what Amy Poehler is really advising is authenticity and the courage to pursue what we come to know to be true about ourselves.  The title is instructive here, as the hard work of becoming who we truly are and aligning our professional trajectory with our true selves will never be easy.  But, the cost of inertia — of mindlessly or disingenuously pressing on – is far higher.  So I agree with Amy:  go ahead, take your licks.

LONG RUN: SANTA MONICA

Monday, February 23, 2015

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I wrote this not long after our trip to Sedona when I was still feeling wrapped up in the same head space.  I was on the brink of something new professionally, but at the same time walking through the challenges that so often accompany life’s transitions.  This particular weekend  in Santa Monica was important in deciding where one thing would end and another would begin.   Now, from the other side, the weekend reminds me of the ways that running serves and accompanies us as we navigate change and uncertainty.

Recently, I have not wanted to run.  Last week the winds finally changed and I found myself lacing up, eager to get out the hotel door.  I landed at LAX on Saturday afternoon, greeted by sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s.  I dropped my bags at the hotel, enjoyed lunch on the veranda and then went out to run a few miles.

The next few days were really, really tough. That ever volatile combination of stress and frustration and self-imposed pressure combusted on Monday afternoon leaving me feeling at once shaky in the aftermath of a confrontational conversation and relieved for having said what needed to said.

With Tuesday morning came an important professional commitment.  I woke up early to prepare and was greeted by entirely too much of the emotion of the previous day.  As if reaching out to an old friend, I grabbed my running shoes and ran out the door.  I ran to Venice Beach, then I ran back to the Santa Monica pier and walked onto the beach.

The run was so hard — perfectly hard, I suppose.  My breath was heavy, so were my legs and so were my thoughts.  Disproportionate in difficulty to distance or level of exertion, the run perfectly mirrored the state of my heart and head – discombobulated, trying to find my breath, on the brink of exhaustion.

I stood at the shoreline for a few minutes, watching the waves.  I took in a big inhale of the salty air and thought about the day ahead.  I could see my hotel in the distance; it looked small.  I began to catch my breath and with it came the smallest sliver of perspective about the day ahead.

As I walked back up the beach to the boardwalk, I realized I wasn’t thinking about yesterday anymore.  Somewhere in the miles behind me, my mind’s vice grip on yesterday’s events had loosened and I’d let them go.

I turned back towards the hotel; internally I turned and faced the day ahead.  I consciously decided to replace my stress with hopeful expectation, then I ran back to the hotel and into a day much better than I could have imagined.

As for running, it feels so good to be back.  Seems I had almost forgotten about the power of our sport – the ability to move oneself from one point to another, the ability to create space and adjust one’s outlook.  Space to be and to think, forward movement and perspective – here’s to lacing up and letting go.

TRAVEL TIP: SIP SELECTIVELY

Friday, February 20, 2015

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Truth be told, I am not much for mixed drinks.  There are, of course, exceptions.  For instance, when Ryan and I travel, we scout out the nicest hotel around, then dress up and casually swing by for a sunset cocktail.

It is my personal belief that if you are going to spend $16 and 1,000 calories on a beverage, it should be sipped in one hell of a location.  And by location, I mean both the venue and the view.  Do not compromise on either.  Additionally, the beverage should represent all that is well and good about the location in which you are sipping.   Typically, 5 star resorts have the haute version of local cocktails and the presentation alone is often worth the splurge.  In this case, a prickly pear margarita nestled between red rock faces in Sedona at the Enchantment Resort.

The experience always feels fancy, but without the pressure (or price) of dinner.  Plus, it gives one the excuse to poke around and see, hypothetically speaking, just how nice the pool is.  Once the sun has fallen below the horizon, be sure to have a dinner reservation off property at a place you’ve been looking forward to.  Then, transition out of your foray into thousand-dollar-a-night luxury by moonrise.

BY FOOT: HIKING IN SEDONA

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

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A while back we spent a couple of weeks in Arizona.  We were both working remotely at that point and Ryan had an event to attend, so I tagged along and we decided to extend the stay.  We visited the Grand Canyon, then spent time in Scottsdale and Sedona.

I was in a job that I would soon transition out of and I spent a lot of time thinking about what might come next.  Preoccupied with the future, I wallowed in the uncertainty and angst.

One afternoon we packed a picnic and hiked into Red Rock State Park to watch the sunset.  The trail crossed one of the most well-known vortexes in Sedona.  Vortexes (yes, that is the correct plural form of the word – at least in Sedona) were a phenomena that we knew exactly nothing about.  We would come to learn that a vortex is an area of concentrated energy that can be sensed by people who pass through it.  Think places of palpable energy that allow insight and inspiration.

We set up a picnic near the river just down the trail from the vortex.  All sorts of hikers passed by – middle age ladies wearing Grand Canyon t-shirts, older couples with long gray ponytails, and all manner of hippies.  As we snacked on a Theo chili dark chocolate bar, occasionally a confused seeker would ask us if we knew where the vortex was.  We’d pull out our map, then point to the rocky portion of the trail they’d just passed through.  Given that the basic premise of a vortex is that it is a place of palpable energy, we found this a bit amusing.  The seekers had quite literally walked right through what they were looking for.

Just a few months after that trip, I’d find myself presented with an exciting opportunity that fit – like Fit with a capital F.  A significant, meaningful transition was, indeed, right around the corner.

In Sedona I remember feeling so anxious and preoccupied.  And yet, the freedom of movement, discovering my affinity for spicy margaritas, Yelping the most hipster coffee spots and working together for the day, and hiking into the red rocks made those days so rich and so significant.  Sedona represented adventure and togetherness – the pursuit of things we value.

In the end, I guess I was not so different from the hikers who unwittingly walked right through the vortex.  The trip to Sedona came to mind recently and served as such an instructive reminder:  when we are preoccupied with our own agenda we risk missing the energy and significance of the space we are passing through – we risk missing exactly what we are looking for.

SUNDAY MORNING

Sunday, February 15, 2015

valentines-day-dinner

We avoided the Valentine’s hype yesterday and stayed in.  It was a treat in and of itself for both of us to be at home.  We attempted to make a heart shaped pizza as a nod to the holiday and while we received an A for effort, the end product was lopsided and quite sad looking.  Fortunately, it tasted delicious, especially alongside a Napa cab.  Cheers to the long weekend!

 

 In case you are looking for a little reading with your morning cup of coffee:

– On running and release.

– Have you tried co-washing?

Wise words from Amy Poehler, as well as her lessons on confidence.

– And on that note, this book is at the top of my reading list.  Have you read it?  What did you think?

– Our Valentine’s dinner:  this and a bottle of red wine (a 2009 cab from here)

– Speaking of wine and pizza pairing, this.

– If only I were in LA this weekend

– And, in case you didn’t get enough chocolate this weekend.

WINTERTIME BIKE RIDE

Friday, February 13, 2015

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There is no better way to cap off a weekend than a bike ride — particularly if it is sunny and 70 degrees on a Sunday afternoon in February.  Nothing but good vibes and the hope that spring really may be just around the corner…

SUNDAY MORNING

Sunday, February 8, 2015

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Our weekend started early.  We took Friday off and enjoyed a little daycation — no alarm clocks, a massage, thai food, a nap and a long walk in the park.  And after this initial foray, we have decided to institute daycations at regular intervals.  Our pace has been reset; we have enjoyed quiet.  The last 48 hours have been void of tension, have to’s and running of the door.  Today the high is in the mid 60s and we are looking forward to coming out of hibernation, if only for the day.

 

 In case you are looking for a little reading with your morning cup of coffee:

–  Get organized.  Your future self will thank you.

–  On my diy list:  these.

–  Are you getting enough sleep?  New recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation.

–  I got this for Christmas and I can’t wait to make this and this.

–  There’s No Perfect Age to Find a Husband.

–  On the lookout for a cozy, oversized scarf like this.

–  Last weekend of Matisse’s cut-outs exhibit!  Can’t make it to New York?  Try this.

THE BEST TIP FOR NEW RUNNERS

Friday, January 9, 2015

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Perhaps you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to start running.  Maybe you’ve signed up for your first 5k or half marathon and are getting started with your carefully researched training plan.

Here’s the one (unsolicited) tip I would give you:  keep going.

I started running in 2009.  Ryan was training for his first marathon.  I was intrigued competitive and quickly followed suit.  My first race was an 8k.  I found a training plan then stepped onto a treadmill at the YMCA.  I ran for about two minutes and thirty seconds before I had to walk.  I was embarrassed and more than a little bit surprised.  I was young, thin and at least vaguely in shape.  And I couldn’t run one mile.

It took several weeks of run/walking to work up to being able to run a couple of miles.  So often friends say that they’d like to start running and then they begin by lacing up and trying to run a few miles.  This (almost) never works.  Running, especially in the beginning, is painful and hard.  Your lungs burn and your legs get heavy so quickly.  So, you stop and walk home after ten minutes.

When I found myself in this exact situation, I remember thinking “But this is what all my runner friends do!  They just go out and jog a few easy miles, so why is it impossible for me?”.  The key is to keep going — not by painfully extending initial outings, but by committing to seeing through the slow process of becoming comfortable running.  Allow yourself to be a beginner.

Set realistic expectations from the outset.  Going out and running a few miles is not realistic (at least for most of us) at the beginning.  Setting a five to ten week schedule to get to you to the start line of a 5k may be.  I wish someone had shared this 5k training schedule with me when I was getting started.  I know several marathoners whose first steps towards becoming a runner began utilizing this run/walk training schedule.

I often tell new or aspiring runners that the first time I ran 20 minutes continuously was almost as significant an accomplishment as crossing the finish line of my first marathon.  The beginning is hard, but keep going.  It will be worth it.

WHEN IN: ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR

Monday, December 29, 2014

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When in Antananarivo (or Tana as everyone calls it), here’s what you do:  first, you spend the afternoon at the Marché de la Digue and second you go to La Varangue for dinner.  It’s that simple.

Any cab will know how to get you to the Marché de la Digue — this market is sprawling and situated just a couple kilometers from the airport.  The only skill involved is in selecting which pint-sized vintage cab you’d like to be transported in (keep in mind that vintage charm is inversely correlated with the shocks and overall vehicular stability) and then acting tough while pre-negotiating the fare.  A word to the wise:  negotiate the cab driver’s waiting time into the fare so that you don’t find yourself searching for a cab back to the hotel once you finish shopping and are loaded down with 14 baskets, 7 embroidered table clothes, 3 paintings and an over-sized hand-woven light fixture.  Also, ask your hotel to make a recommendation about how much your fare should be.

Now that the souvenir shopping is done, it’s time to eat.  Hopefully you’ve made a reservation and now you are on your way to La Varangue.  Prepare yourself:  this is going to be a slightly dislocating experience.  You’ve just spent the day in a buzzing African capital city and now you are about to be transported to a serene, decidedly French, whimsically curated dining experience.  The restaurant is on a hill and you are going to feel miles (or kilometers, I suppose) away from your hectic market experience.  Try the melting chocolate orb dessert.  You won’t be dissapointed (this coming from a girl that rarely likes chocolate anything).

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