WO: Weekly Obsessions

I’m normally not the “prayer warrior” type who solicits good vibes from my social networks, but I had to today as my good friend endured her bilateral mastectomy to eradicate cancer. Ever the good sport, she named her cancer “Felicia” so she could say BYE to it 😂  Here’s what else I’m focused on lately:

Image Credits Listed Below

  1. Sheet Pan Chili Lime Salmon: In an effort to simplify my weekly meal prep, I’ve read countless lists of one-pot and sheet-pan meals. I was pumped to try this recipe Monday night and it didn’t disappoint: The marinade flavor has only gotten more pronounced with each serving of leftovers, and I’ll definitely be using this in my regular rotation. Delish!
  2. Sugarhill Kitchen: After yesterday’s lockout snafu, I needed an hour to kill while my landlord brought me their keys. I’ve passed this restaurant approximately a thousand times but hadn’t ventured in before. The owner/chef/bartender, Jennie, was so hospitable and welcoming — even offering a (free!) second glass of wine to heal my headache. I had other dinner plans to get to after, but I’ll return soon to enjoy all Sugarhill Kitchen has to offer!
  3. Bar Method: Not a day goes by without discussing different workout routines to try. Part of it is literally my job. Part of it is living in an active city like SF. All of me was excited to try Bar Method during its “Love Your Selfie” challenge, which grants unlimited access to newcomers for 40 days — and just $49! I’m two days in and can already feel the benefits of small, yet calculated, movements. Plus, who doesn’t want to feel longer and leaner? I might be a barre addict after all.
  4. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” – Ms. Lauryn Hill: I’ve enjoyed Spotify’s Black History Salute playlist, with tracks ranging from Marvin Gaye to Wanda Sykes and many more. The unequivocal fave, for me? None other than Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).” It’s in my top five for lyrics – don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem — and it always brings a smile to my face.

Images courtesy of: Cafe Delites, Trip Advisor, Untame Yourself, Genius

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

Allow me to begin by saying: I’m not the type who thinks I “deserve” expensive things. I’m a commitment-phobe, a bargain hunter, relatively low maintenance, and I’d rather treat myself to a car service over the course of the month than spend the same amount on a purse or pair of shoes.

That’s not to say I’m frugal — I’ve splurged on travel and gifts for others, often finding more value in experiences than material things. I consider gym classes the best long-term investments money can buy. I’m a big fan of “throwing money at the problem” when it solves everyday inconveniences (hello, Blue Apron and Instacart).

But ask me to spend, say, $300 on a rug I love? Well, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Until today.

Part of why I bought it was this week’s challenge — yet another timely sign from above that I should just do it.

And the other part of why I bought it was because I do “deserve” it after the morning I had.

I was dogsitting over the long weekend for a good friend, but her flight was delayed last night and she wouldn’t arrive to retrieve her keys until 245am. Knowing I’d signed up for a 715am gym class, we agreed she would call me when she got close to my place and we’d make the key swap.

Easy peasy. So far, so good. All of the clichés.

I got up on time again at 615am, despite struggling to fall back asleep; and I was so proud of myself for getting my clothes, lunch, laptop and all other things in order. I was heading out on schedule, just in time to make the bus!

As I closed the door behind me, I realized a beat too late that I failed to grab my keys along with my two overstuffed bags. I’d locked myself out, for the first time (I think?) in my 12 years of living away from home.

Luckily, my landlord is local and able to meet me tonight to let me back in (before I head back out to my dinner plans, but at least I’ll be free to come and go again).

So, I made it to my first-ever barre class the same morning I had my first-ever lockout. Enter, the west elm Sivas Wool Kilim Rug in Macaroon Pink:

Courtesy of westelm.com

I’ve had my eye on this rug for more than a year… seriously. It’s become a joke with certain friends, who plead with me to either buy the damn thing or stop lusting after it.

I even set an alarm to make sure I grabbed it while it was on sale for Black Friday, only to forget all six years of corporate retail knowledge and miss out on the actual sale — on Cyber Monday. It was sold out, and my dreams died again.

So here we are, three months later, and I finally pulled the trigger to purchase this rug. Because it was on sale. And I had a coupon. And I had a shit morning. But also, because I deserve it.

WO: Weekly Obsessions

It’s been a whirlwind week, to say the least. While some of my closest friends here have announced their impending departures to other cities, I’ve also heard from friends afar about their plans to relocate here. “Bittersweet” doesn’t even come close to describing it.

In the meantime, I haven’t been able to corral my thoughts into my regular weekly wrap-up. I’m excited about the 10-minute “Love Actually” sequel; I still haven’t watched this year’s GRAMMYs (a first for me!); I’m loving this new mani color and I can’t stop listening to “Different for Girls” by Dierks Bentley f. Elle King.

To say I’m all over the place is an understatement.

Couple that with Valentine’s Day (do you see what I did there), social commitments, some potential moves of my own, and I’m in a frenzy to keep it all together.

So in the wake of a formal WO, please enjoy these images of the ultimate Galentine, Leslie Knope. Xoxo 💕

 

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

Happy VD Day, y’all! Or Galentine’s Day, or whatever you call it. In the vein of female empowerment, we had a two-page illustration this week: the left side was a “Don’t,” with a woman’s honey-do list for her future boyfriend to hang pictures, assemble a bookshelf, fix a wobbly chair leg and hang curtains.

On the right page, we see a “Do.” This woman has her tool belt on, is amazed at how much she can do with just a few simple tools and is the modern-day version of Rosie the Riveter.

Image Courtesy of History.com

I see the point of having these tools; I really do. My dad gifted me a tool kit and electric drill set over various Christmases, and he’d be ashamed at how few times I’ve used them myself. But, I’ve put others to work with the kits, so at least that’s something.

My problem, if you recall from six years ago, is that I’m not handy. At all. I was into LEGOs and K’nex as a kid; I eagerly participated in Home Depot workshops to build birdhouses and jewelry boxes. I beamed with pride watching my dad and uncle install tile flooring throughout our house. But somewhere along the way, I became a construction malfunction.

I’d much rather throw money at the problem, hiring a professional or coercing trusted friends into helping me. I’ll supply some tools and the beer, and you do the dirty work. The best part is, you can’t really screw it up. Anything is better than my attempts at handiwork.

It could be that I’m a decorating commitment-phobe. It could be that I don’t like failing. Or it could be that I don’t trust myself to be mediocre at something and that being enough. Whatever it is, I know I have to work on this skill, in particular, unless I want to sink my savings into hired help or beer-mergencies. I’ll keep you posted as always, and you let me know if you have any tips for DIY beginners.

Oh, and as for the black lace bra — I’ve had that covered (literally) for years. If nothing else, there’s no item of clothing that empowers a woman more than hiding that beneath a work apron or tool belt.

Image Courtesy of YourStory.com

WO: Weekly Obsessions

I’m running on empty today, after being emotionally drained and awoken multiple times last night by what I thought was an alert in a dream. It wasn’t until 6am that I realized the alert was happening in real life, and it wasn’t until I was on a chair, smoke detector in hand, that I discovered it was coming from my beloved Jambox.

I must not have turned it off after its last use, so I had a woman’s voice tell me every 10 minutes or so to recharge the battery. Hint: This is not an ideal way to wake up.

All that to say, I’m ready to recharge myself and my Jambox.

Image Credits Listed Below

  1. Before the Fall: I’ve been on a book binge lately, devouring the shelves of stories I bought months ago but hadn’t committed to reading. This novel details the events of a (fictional) horrific private plane crash from multiple perspectives, as we try to piece together what happened and why there are just two survivors. It left me breathless most of the way, but I was a bit disappointed in the final chapters. Still, I’d recommend the read — just not while you’re in-flight.
  2. Heavenly, Tahoe: I spent last weekend in Tahoe for a good friend’s 30th birthday celebration, marking my first adventure there in the winter (and with a bed)! We had our fill of snow games during the day, plus cozy cabin fun at night. Our backyard was a winter wonderland, making it hard to leave, so I’ll just need to find 15 other people to rent the house out with me again soon. Should be as easy as a Floridian sledding down a snowy hill, right?
  3. Basecamp Fitness: It’s only natural to try the countless fitness facilities SF has to offer. A friend brought us in for a free trial and we picked Plyo, AKA “the toughest class ever,” according to the girl next to me, who’s worked out there for a year. The schtick is simple: You do a minute on a resistance bike, a minute doing something else, then back to the bike and so on. You’re “done” in 35 minutes, although they encourage you to stay for the optional 10-minute abs session after. I’m sure I’ll be back soon to see how other classes compare.
  4. Pagan Idol: It’s the Tahoe birthday girl’s actual birthday, so we’re set to escape even further tonight — to a magical, tropical bar downtown. The tiki hut is reserved, the drinks will be flowing and I’m practicing my “luau” for the occasion. Added bonus: The excitement of tonight’s festivities are about the only thing getting me through today. And, the promise of a warm space away from the cold, rainy outdoors is even better!

Images courtesy of: Goodreads, Me,YelpSF Station

30 Before 30

In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”

The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.

By 30, you should have…
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.

Before reading this week’s challenge, I thought I’d have it in the bag. I’ve often been someone who has many friends in various groups, but just a handful of close friends I trust beyond surface stuff.

My mom was my best friend at a time when it wasn’t cool to be so pleased with your parents. I thought I’d be able to pick the laughing and crying friends out in an instant — after all, those I’m closest to are all people who keep me in stitches and don’t mind (or don’t vocalize that they mind) me crying over everything, from Publix commercials to family tragedy.

But then I read Kelly Corrigan’s take on what these friends meant to her. She details how quickly they came to her side — literally and figuratively — after she discovered a lump in her breast. As a self-proclaimed guys’ girl, she wasn’t a woman who enjoyed dainty drinks or Pilates chatter. But it was women who saved her life, both in surgery and in solace. They made every effort to help her through the darkest of days, and she now holds a special place for the girlfriends she “cultivates and collects” friendships with.

As the saying goes, art was imitating life in full force.

A dear friend called me last week to say she found lumps in her breasts. The lumps were malignant and aggressive, meaning she’d likely need a double mastectomy, plus chemo and radiation. I crumpled in my chair, unable to form coherent or comforting sentences.

Here was a young woman, who held my hand after my dad’s diagnosis — who let me sleep on her couch the night before he died — who had been through so many of life’s challenges already, and she was about to begin the toughest fight of her life.

I hate to say “life’s not fair,” because we all have our battles and it’s all relative to what we’ve experienced. But to be dealt this hand, to have this challenge ahead, is a true test to her unbreakable spirit and strength.

She’s a friend I can always count on for a laugh — she even made jokes while sharing her diagnosis, for God’s sake. And if I remember correctly, we managed to throw in some SNL references for good measure.

We cry together, too. She lost an immediate family member in a terrible accident, was by my side when my dad died, and we had tearful goodbyes when we parted ways in two major cities.

I’m so very fortunate to call her my friend, and I hope to be able to visit soon and be by her side. Until then, I hope she finds some comfort in knowing how much love and support she has, and how grateful I am to have her friendship through these difficult days.

To my friend, and to all of these friends below, I’m gobsmacked by how much strength I find in you. When I’ve faced my own toughest times, you’ve been there without question and without judgment. I hope my unconditional love for you is felt far and wide as well.

On Being Sober for a Month

My last sip of alcohol was at the stroke of midnight on January 1. I drank the champagne, thanked my hosts and summoned a car faster than you can say “Cinderella.”

I knew going into this year, I wanted to challenge myself to what I lovingly call “No Fun January”: no caffeine, no artificial/added sugar, no alcohol. For a month. “Maybe more?,” people asked. “HA!,” I’d reply. Let’s get through a few days before we start talking crazy.

I was fortunate to have a support group in my mom, my sister-in-law and one of her aunts. The accountability of having others go through the same thing was a huge help for me personally. I also have a handful of friends who are sober and my guardian angel of a grandfather — who led countless AA mentees and meetings — to lift up my spirit without the use of spirits.

mynewfave

Protein shakes = my new happy hour.

The first few days were, admittedly, much easier than expected because I was sick with a nasty sinus infection. I couldn’t taste anything anyway, and the last thing I wanted was a cocktail. (OK, maaaybe a hot toddy sounded amazing, but I wasn’t giving in that easy.)

Then I returned to work. A co-worker’s farewell lunch was my first real test. Could I sit through an entire hour with 20 others enjoying drinks while I just sipped water like a poor sad, sap? The answer is: Yes. And TMI, but “treating” myself to a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon was a terrible mistake, given my new clean eating plan.

I started realizing that first week just how much alcohol is a topic of interest: in TV shows, in movies, in music, in conversation. I sometimes wanted to scream and shake people: Didn’t we have anything else to discuss?! But I also knew I was hyper aware (and sensitive) because of my challenge.

The second week — mostly recovered from being sick — I realized how much time there is in a day. I found myself taking on freelance for the first time in a while, working on my killer digital portfolio and cooking with more excitement than ever. If I come home from work without hitting happy hour first, I have about SIX hours to do what I want! Can I get an “Amen!”?

I also got back into a workout routine that week and tried some new activities, too. Barry’s Boot Camp kicked my ass (and abs) the first time back. Reformer Pilates was my first-ever attempt, and I fell in love. I left classes excited about how hard I worked and didn’t feel the need to celebrate with a drink.

Going into the third week, I was nervous. Not only was it a long weekend, but Inauguration Day loomed large. Would I be able to stomach it all without a cocktail in hand — or at least my boyfriend, Mark West, by my side?

I faced the third week, which was also particularly painful at work, like any normal person would: I hid. I holed up in my apartment as much as possible, canceling plans and staying away from social media. I binge-watched shows I swore I’d never see, read some books and avoided all forms of reality as much as I could. #healthy

After emerging from a cocoon, I felt a little rejuvenated but a LOT proud for making it through emotionally and mentally draining scenarios without needing a drink. I coped while staying sober, something I will perfect over time without having to be a complete recluse.

After such roller-coaster weeks, I didn’t think it could get any tougher. But the fourth week brought two very big tests: a girls’ getaway to Santa Barbara and my Gasparilla Invades SF party.

I made sure my traveling companion didn’t “feel weird” if she wanted to enjoy drinks at dinner or on the beach or from 9–5 if she so wished. I was learning, after all, how uncomfortable other people can get when you’re sober. My friend was great, though, and indulged as she wanted without feeling guilty.

As for Gasparilla, I had a great time dressed as a pirate on the streets of SF. We got funny looks, unfunny comments and had a whole lot of seafaring fun, and I did it all without the aid of alcohol. I was tempted, as friends offered to buy drinks and shots and “just one” wouldn’t hurt me. But I’d already made it through 27 full days and wasn’t about to ruin it.

gasparilla

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a sober pirate’s life for me.

Along the way, I noted a few lessons I encountered while being sober for 31+ days:

  • I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and an excuse. From happy hours to post-workout dinners and everything in between, I didn’t realize how often I’d reach for a drink. And it wasn’t always a glass of wine for the night. I’d throw back three or four ($15) cocktails “just because” it was a hard day at work or I was stressed out with politics or it was a day ending in Y. Any excuse was good enough for me to indulge in the alcohol I so love. 
  • Clarity can be frightening. In razor-sharp focus, I started seeing how many hours I’d normally spend in a week, not doing much else besides socializing over drinks. I wouldn’t think twice about hanging with a group of friends and having a few rounds, because that’s the norm. What’s abnormal is being the one who’s not drinking, and then everyone wants to know why and how and “OMG I could never do that!” The truth is, people: You can. You just have to push yourself to understand it’s not a priority anymore. And if you have friends who enjoy socializing while working out or volunteering or doing other sober activities, well that’s just the bee’s knees.
  • I became THAT person, who often talked about being sober. To be fair, I’m now also that person about how much sugar is in everything… but I could hear myself in conversations, constantly talking about my challenge. Maybe it was a defense mechanism — people wanted to know why I wasn’t drinking, and it’d make them feel weird, and so I’d get on a soapbox to explain. And the more I talked about it, the less I wanted it.

So, that’s my story about how No Fun January taught me a whole lot more about myself than I ever imagined. I’ll likely indulge this weekend, for a friend’s birthday, but I don’t see myself ever returning to my old habits. Have you ever challenged yourself to something like this? What were your results?

friends

Real talk on February 1