Not Just Spinning My Wheels

It’s ironic that this post was initially scheduled to go up yesterday because “boredom” is the last word I would use to describe the past 24 hours. Without going into too many details, I’ll share that an immediate family member ended up in the hospital but has since been discharged and all is well, though some testing needs to be done. Now back to the topic at hand.

Many of my friends and family members are baffled by how I find riding a stationary bike enjoyable, not to mention doing it nearly daily. I completely understand how it could seem weird, you’re not physically going anywhere, there isn’t scenery, it is more or less formulaic, etc., BUT there are so many reasons why not one of these “cons” (for lack of a better word) are an issue for me. (Note: No one seems to think that doing barre multiple times a week would get boring so I never get asked about that and will not discuss it here. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t.)

First, it goes without saying that not everyone will like the same method of exercise so there are people for whom indoor cycling will never be enjoyable. Totally valid. I will usually try anything once but then if it’s not for me, no biggie. Ok so we’ve established that I like spinning, I also like pizza but couldn’t eat it everyday without getting sick of it, so what is the secret sauce?

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride.

As I wrote in this post, I mix it up when it comes to instructors. My regular schedule consists of 4 different spin instructors, each of whom have very different personalities, styles, and musical leanings. Of course there are some overlaps, but in general, it is a totally different experience with each of them. What is more, who is in the class varies depending on the instructor. There are people I know I will see in X’s class, those I know I will see in Y’s class, those I know I will see in both, etc. Thus, even the social element stays fresh.

On a personal level, each day I am in a different place, both mentally and physically (aren't we all?). Hence, I am always looking for different things from my ride and myself. One day I may be pedaling out work stress, other days I might feel really strong and want to set a PR or challenge myself to hit a torq/RPM combination that I've never gotten before. After yesterday's medical drama, I went into class today needing to decompress, let the energy of the room carry me, and sweat out my worries. I was quieter than usual, kept my eyes closed more, and would look to my family for strength during pushes. That's not to say that I've never done any of those things before, but not in the same way or all at once with the specific emotions I was feeling behind them. In a lot of ways, I've travelled so much farther on those stationary bikes than I could ever go on the road. Journeys aren't always measured in miles, though according to my Flywheel Dashboard I've gone 31,356.84 miles in the past 6+ years (I have no idea how accurate that is but it sounds good so I'll take it). On those bikes I have gained confidence, found life-long friends, and broken out of my comfort zone many times over, and to me that is just as, if not more, satisfying than any trip I could take in the real world. 

I still regret not buying this shirt. [IG: @jessonpointe]

I still regret not buying this shirt. [IG: @jessonpointe]

How do you keep your workouts fresh?

Where SHOULD you be? Right where you are!

Apologies for the week+ of no posts. I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently and my energy levels have taken a hit. Waking up between 2:19am and 3:43am (so specific I know) daily for no rhyme or reason was “ok” once, “annoying but whatever” twice, and now is just infuriating. At least there have been some good movies on TV.

Recently, I’ve found myself assuring several friends when it comes to the “shoulds.” You know, where one should be professionally, personally, romantically, etc. by age X. The first time I offered advice, I wasn’t sure if I myself was fully convinced that there really isn’t a right/wrong because self-doubt is so easy, especially now that we are constantly surrounded by highly curated views of the lives of those we know, and those we don’t. However, after having repeated it in various iterations over the past few weeks, I realize that I am 100% of the belief that there is no single way that age X looks.

The more you think about it, the more ridiculous the notion that there is a standard becomes. Given the different interests, lifestyles, backgrounds, gender identities, abilities, educations, need I continue?, that we all have, how could any two people possibly be at the same place simply because they were born close in time or look to one set of metrics to determine if they are on track? Just last week someone told me that she thought I was married, another woman asked me if I had children, and an online quiz analyzed my Facebook profile picture and informed me that I look 19. Clearly these three things are not mutually exclusive, but you get the idea. All of this is to say that wherever you are (myself included) is the right place for you at this moment and it doesn't indicate where you are going. It's the journey, not the destination (cue Miley Cyrus' "The Climb"). To be totally honest and a bit grim, we all have the same destination and frankly I'm in no hurry to get there. Instead we need to focus on what happens along the way, the lessons we learn, the people we get to meet; these variable will be different for everyone and that's what makes life so wonderful. No matter how you feel, where you should be is right where you are and tomorrow you'll be wherever you should be for tomorrow. 

#preach and maj high fives to whoever first coined this

#preach and maj high fives to whoever first coined this


On Meditation, Again

Remember how I said I couldn’t meditate? I was wrong. As I wrote in this post, during LIFTED I had a breakthrough. I finally realized that there is no right or wrong way to meditate and that everything I was experiencing was totally normal and part of meditating. Once it sunk in that I wasn’t a meditation outlier (read: failure), I was able to trust the process and myself to take me where I needed to go during each session, finally beginning to enjoy the benefits of meditation I’ve heard so much about. Do I sound way too woo-woo yet?

If only I had checked out Headspace's IG long ago, I would have known what everyone has been telling us since always, we're all unique. My bad.

If only I had checked out Headspace's IG long ago, I would have known what everyone has been telling us since always, we're all unique. My bad.

My thoughts certainly wander each and every time, but I have learned to be comfortable with that and with reining them in each time they go astray. It’s pretty interesting to see where they go and makes me aware of what is actually weighing on me, however deeply it is usually buried. I have also gotten over my preoccupation with the Headspace app voice reminding me of the Geico Gecko. (Listen: Andy (Headspace voice) vs. Geico Gecko You hear it right?!) It was so distracting that I had to pause a session to look up whether it was in fact the same person or if they were at least related. They aren’t, but how crazy would it have been if they were? It would have really opened up a whole new world of marketing possibilities: “We’ll save you money and your sanity.” But I digress…

I have missed a few days here and there because #lifehappens, but overall, it’s become a pretty regular practice for me and I really enjoy it. I’ve found that the middle of the day works best for me. If I wake up and then close my eyes to basically ten minutes of silence, I’ll be back asleep in no time and that would just end with missed workouts, meetings, etc. No bueno. What’s more, those minutes in the middle of the day, the height of the crazy, are when refocusing is most beneficial for me. Slowing down and physically turning away from my computer (somehow having the tech and work physically behind me allows me to relax much more), let me catch my breath and return to work reenergized and ready to tackle the rest of the day. Eating my words has never been so satisfying.

At 5' tall, struggling to reach things happens on the regular. Just as with meditation, I always find a way (and a shelf to climb). #deep [Source]

At 5' tall, struggling to reach things happens on the regular. Just as with meditation, I always find a way (and a shelf to climb). #deep [Source]

If you want to try your hand at meditating for the first, or millionth time, I highly recommend Headspace. (I was not asked to say that.)

I love this. [Source]

I love this. [Source]

Have you ever found you could do something you were sure you couldn’t?

Five Favs: April

Normally, once we make it through April, I feel a sigh of relief; summer is in view. Growing up, April was the last big push with May bringing end of year celebrations, the school musical, a local carnival (the highlight of our pre-teen social calendars), Field Day, and of course Memorial Day, the unofficial-official start of summer. This year, however, feels decidedly different. May has started on a gray, rainy note here in NYC. I can’t even look at the forecast because it is rain, rain, rain. But back to the month that just was and the five things I loved in April…

Sources Clockwise from top left: Prince, Planner, Internet Goodness, Curious Incident, Me (My photography skills slay right?)

Sources Clockwise from top left: Prince, Planner, Internet Goodness, Curious Incident, Me (My photography skills slay right?)

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

To cap off the theater spree I went on at the end of March, I treated myself at the start of April to a fabulous seat for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Usually I am an advocate for reading the book first but with the show having just announced its closing date and finding such a great seat, I just had to do it. I knew nothing about the story but was told that it was a show you would be sorry to miss seeing so my expectations were pretty high. From the acting to the set, which takes on an almost active role in the play, every idea I had about what Curious Incident would be was shattered, in a good way. If you will be in NYC before they close at the start of September and are able, GO!

 

Prince Ride

The day after Prince died, I got to take an impromptu Prince ride at Flywheel. Holly was teaching and asked a few of us what we thought; she had a regular playlist that had two Prince songs and one that was all Prince. I think secretly we all wanted Prince,  but instead we all said that we would be happy with whatever she chose. She went Prince and it was awesome. Listening to 45 minutes of his music, I was reminded just how many songs he had and how diverse his music is, spanning genres and refusing to be defined by any one label. What a talent, what a loss, and what a wonderful and emotional tribute.

 

Weather

In light of the current forecast, it feels weird to say this now but the weather in April was mostly stunning. The flowers were in full bloom, the sun was shining, temperatures soared into the 70s (I think one day we even hit 80), and the increase in daylight hours (ok minutes) started to become noticeable. It will come back… I hope.

 

Planner

For several weeks I have been using a desktop weekly calendar but it just wasn’t working for me. I need to be able to put things in more than a few days in advance (don’t we all?), and while I do use iCal, I need to write things down. Yes, I was that girl in college and law school using pen and paper to take notes. For whatever reason, if I write something down, it gets cemented in my brain, with typing, it takes much more effort for me to learn/remember, so why fight it? Although we were already a third of the way through 2016 (umm is that not insane?!), I was able to find a planner and I love it. I can see a whole week laid out on the left and on the right I have a page of notes which I use to note “To Dos,” upcoming deadlines or important benchmarks to hit, etc. In sum, I feel like my head is screwed on now.

 

Getting Outside of My Comfort Zone

It’s very easy to settle into a routine and for that routine to turn into a rut. We get comfortable with what we know and with all the other daily stressors, it’s easy to go into autopilot and stick to the same old, same old. This month I shook things up a bit, from trying new fitness classes (LIFTED & The Class) to being more vulnerable in my personal life to, wait for it… meditating consistently (I did miss one day but #LifeHappens). With each experience, I am reminded how strong I am, gain a deeper understanding of myself, and come away feeling empowered.

 

What were your April favorites?

Devotee or Willing to Spread the Love?

[Source]

You know them, maybe you even are one, a die-hard trainer/coach/instructor X fan. Wherever in your city, whatever time of day, you will be there to take his/her class. Confession: I used to be this person, minus the traveling bit. When I was a new wearer of cycling shoes, there was only one instructor whose classes I would take. Ironically, she no longer teaches at any of the locations nearest to me and I haven’t been to her class in months (I should get my bottom uptown and change that STAT). After having broken out of my “hopelessly devoted to you” stage, I now have several instructors whose classes I enjoy, and this is true not just of cycling, but barre, and other workouts that I have dabbled in as well.

I completely understand the gravitation to one person, particularly if your first experience is a positive one. Perhaps, as it was for me, this is your first foray into group exercise. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve tried X class. Or you could be new to the area and the instructor and people who showed up to that class seemed like a nice bunch and you think there might be friendship potential there. Whatever the reason, a baseline of familiarity, especially in something that is going to challenge you, can be comforting and just the security blanket you need to ensure you keep coming back.

On the other hand, having long ago crossed over to the “I’m not a player I just crush a lot,” side, I definitely prefer things on this side of the road. For me, once I know an instructor’s style, I will start to anticipate aspects of the class, from the sequencing, to when pushes will come, when a rest may be thrown in, in some cases I’ll even become so familiar with a particular song that the instructor uses often that I more or less know exactly how much is left which can be a blessing or a curse, usually both. I also get different things from different people, and the crowds that they attract. Some classes are super high energy, some are more silent and serious, some instructors will be relentless the entire time, some will throw in lots of humor, some will change my entire outlook on the day, and some will leave me feeling like I need a nap ASAP. Not to mention that everyone’s musical selection also differs. I like having an assortment. Aside from the practical aspects of not always being able to go to the same person’s class at a given time and location because of well life, it allows me to always keep the workout fresh for myself and get what I need on that day- whether it be having my behind handed to me or having my spirit lifted, coming away feeling like the world is made of rainbows and unicorns.

This isn’t to say that because I prefer rotating between many instructors that it’s the “right” way to do it and from what I understand, I’m actually in the minority with most being devoted to one, maybe two instructors for a given exercise method. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works for you and if you haven’t found that yet, maybe it’s time to switch it up.

Do you take class from only one instructor or a few? Have you ever travelled around your city to take a certain instructor?

Five Favs: March

Wow March, where did you go? Despite the month zooming by, I feel like I really made the most of March. Work was been busy but good busy, I got to spend time with my family for my dad’s birthday and my sister’s White Coat Ceremony, I’ve been on a few dates, seen friends, finally made it to a movie (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2- sadly I do not recommend seeing it), two plays (She Loves Me & Eclipsed - Both are must sees!), finally bit the bullet to take The Class theclasswithtt.com (review coming soon), and capped it off with a spam call on the 31st informing me I had been selected for a free cruise to the Bahamas, if only. After so much goodness, what were my five favorites things from March? ...

Gramfeed

Gramfeed has been a game-changer. Among my many work projects is composing copy for a boutique hotel’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Nearly every post needs an accompanying photo and often there are photos on Instagram (from influencer’s, local events, etc.) that I want to use. As you probably know, you can’t download from Instagram. While I could use Grab or another screen capture program, Gramfeed makes it easy peasy. You login with your Instagram account and from there can go through your own feed or search through the platform by username, hashtag, and location. Simple as that.

Brad’s Organic Peanut Butter

Don't worry about what that boy said, peanut butter, you will always be my favorite (also pizza, and brownies, and broccoli). [Source]

Don't worry about what that boy said, peanut butter, you will always be my favorite (also pizza, and brownies, and broccoli). [Source]

Come again? While my diet is generally on the healthy, whole food side of things, it wasn’t until a false positive for being at the very tip top of the range for pre-diabetes a few weeks ago, that I really started looking at my sugar intake. I will never cut out sugar entirely (well never say never but you know what I mean), but really internalizing that sugar and all kinds of other junk is in so much of what I purchase was eye opening. Post-health scare, I began making a concerted effort to avoid buying food with added sugar when I can (major exception for anything that was a dessert because well, that’s the point of such items). One place where I didn’t think to look was my peanut butter. I love peanut butter and even recently told a date it was my favorite food. (He said it didn’t count as a food so then I changed my answer to brownies. That also failed. I guess it’s good that relationship didn’t pan out.) Not too long after, I was watching a video online about making healthier choices. It went through cereal, peanut butter, and one other product that I’ve forgotten, giving simple ranges for fiber, sugar, and carbs to look at in order to make informed choices. The great thing about the video is that the dietician was completely fine if someone wanted to pick the less healthy option, her goal was to enable watchers to be informed and know what we’re choosing, rather than get us to all only make the healthiest choice. Cheers to balance!  But I digress… In the peanut butter segment, I realized just how many unnecessary ingredients some companies put into their pb. I have used Peanut Butter & Co.’s products for many years and, being the naïve consumer companies hope for, figured that a company with a mom & pop feel which used to have a restaurant where your sandwich came with a side of carrot sticks, had to be good. I was wrong. It’s not awful (peanuts, dried cane syrup, palm fruit oil, and salt), but it’s certainly not just peanuts (not to mention the added sugar). I switched to Brad’s Organic, ingredients: 100% organic peanuts. So maybe I had to stir it the first time I used it, no biggie and so worth it! 

StandStand

As I wrote in this post, since changing career paths and working from home, I have really missed my standing desk. It took a bit of Googling, but I soon discovered StandStand. It comes in this really cute/crazy packaging and is three pieces that you pop together. Then you just plop it down and put your computer on top. There are two widths to choose from to accommodate those who use an external mouse and four heights so that you can find one that fits you no matter how tall/short you are. I don’t use an external mouse and am a towering five feet tall, so I got the 9” StandStand Classic in Baltic Birch. There are days when I don’t use it at all, but it is so nice to have the option again!

Hello new friend!

Hello new friend!

Sort of Ikea-ish but only 3 pieces, I can do this! [Source]

Sort of Ikea-ish but only 3 pieces, I can do this! [Source]

Success! Now about that messy iPhone charger hanging out there...

Success! Now about that messy iPhone charger hanging out there...

Customer Service

I know, another one of my “but that’s not a thing” items (and spoiler #5 also falls into this category) but I encountered two instances of exceptional customer service this month. The first was the restaurant where we went for my dad’s birthday asking for my father’s name and spelling so they could write on the dessert plate and the second was someone who worked with me to get a refund on a software program I was incorrectly told I needed for a course. It’s easy to forget how nice it is to be treated well, and I find that when my expectations are exceeded, it feels downright luxurious. Why can’t we all be nice to each other all of the time?

 Saying Yes

My other “not a thing-thing” is saying yes. I have said yes to most things this month. On the one hand, it’s made for a really full and fun month; on the other hand, I’m exhausted and definitely need to remind myself to say no a little bit more in April. That said, I feel like I squeezed just about every bit of life out of March and as a result, ended the month full of positivity (or maybe it was because this last stretch of March saw some really warm days and flowers seemed to spring up everywhere).

[Source]

What were your favorite things in March?

Teach Me: How I've Found Professional Development as a Freelancer + Mini General Assembly Review

Who will be my Leslie & spout ridiculous and overly ambitious things? [Source]

Who will be my Leslie & spout ridiculous and overly ambitious things? [Source]

Remember when you were little and thought that once you became a grown up you would suddenly have all the answers to everything. (Side note: Is there ever a day when you wake up and feel like a grown up? I still consider my parents the grown ups.) Well, luckily this doesn’t happen, ever. If I had told my younger self that there would always be more to learn and that no one had all the answers to everything, she probably would have thrown an internal fit and resolved to become the first person to know everything about some particular topic. Present day Leah, on the other hand, loves that there is always more to learn.

One of my biggest hesitations in changing my career path was how I would grow professionally without a more structured organization in which I was working. Sans an HR department that would offer in-house courses and a team of colleagues and more senior mentors to look to, who would provide guidance and where would I look other than Google.

Google has certainly played a role, but I have been fortunate to also discover some other wonderful resources, chief among them my peers. Working in a young industry where the landscape is constantly changing (hello today’s Instagram algorithm launch/apocalypse  or maybe not, TBD), a lot of issues remain unsettled and those of us working in the space are able to have great discussions and experiment around them. Hearing what works for some but not others, lessons learned, target KPIs and softer brand culture-oriented goals, along with founding stories has proved incredibly fruitful and personally fulfilling. I come away from these conversations with professional knowledge and new personal contacts, creating some sort of Lost Boys-ish circle of colleagues and in some cases friendships. I have also found many wonderful newsletters and blogs, and even bit the bullet to try a few in-person classes at General Assembly.

IG: @generalassembly

IG: @generalassembly

One class had sections that were very useful, while the rest seemed so obvious to me. Yet, I realized that a year ago those parts of the class wouldn’t have felt like “Rocks for Jocks” type lessons. Realizing how much I have learned on the job was really inspiring and motivating. Unfortunately my other class was a huge disappointment. The description did not match the content, the material was something anyone could have taught, and a prerequisite was purchasing a subscription to an online platform for $99. I almost cancelled my registration as a result of this pre-req but reconsidered (read: Dad talked me into it because it could be a great investment), only to find out during the class that the course description hadn’t been updated and no, we didn’t need to have purchased a subscription. I was frustrated to say the least but luckily the software company kindly and promptly issued me a refund. Will I take future courses there? Maybe. If nothing else, it was exciting to learn what the other students who attended are doing and future classes there could potentially lead to new friends and/or colleagues. That said, if a class is at a really inconvenient time or has a high cost, I’ll probably skip it.

I'll stick with my Lost Boys for now :) [Source: screen capture from the movie]

I'll stick with my Lost Boys for now :) [Source: screen capture from the movie]

Do you have a mentor?

Redefining #NoDaysOff

Two things before we go into this:

  1. Nothing below should be taken as medical advice/recommendations.
  2. I am not perfect and definitely can land on the trying to do it all and falling off the wagon sides of the spectrum. #ProgressNotPerfection   
Oh yes, you'll definitely be calm if you never take time off. Ugh, just no.  [Source]

Oh yes, you'll definitely be calm if you never take time off. Ugh, just no.  [Source]

I have always disliked the saying “If you can’t beat ’em, join ‘’em.” Seriously? The only possible situation in which this makes sense is if you’re explaining the rules of Red Rover. I have a hard time believing that there is ever a scenario in which you should abandon your beliefs and defect to the other side because thus far you’ve been unsuccessful in your campaign. (If you have an example that proves me wrong, please share in the comments!) Therefore, while I refuse to accept that “#NoDaysOff” is here to stay, I have decided to redefine what it means, bringing it back to the healthy and inspiring phrase I believe (hope!) it was intended to be.

As healthy living and mindfulness have become more prevalent (or at least more visibly apparent thanks to social media), I have seen an increase in the usage of “#NoDaysOff” along with its cousins “Never miss a Monday” and “TGIF: The Grind Includes Friday,” among others. I’m 100% for people dedicating themselves to healthy living, but what I am 0% for is the way these sayings have been imbued with meanings that are anything but and instead are, frankly, harmful.

It’s true that a healthy lifestyle is an everyday thing, not something you can pick up and put down when you feel like it. However, that doesn’t mean that each day has to include exceeding your PR in your fitness method of choice, eating only veggies and protein, and killing it at the office. Just as a day in which you do no physical activity, eat all junk, and do no work isn’t sustainable, neither is going all out. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t always be working towards your goals, but rather that I’ve noticed an increase in people who see these phrases as telling them to always perform at their max, to push as hard as possible in all ways every single day and that is a surefire way to wind up anywhere but at your goals.

For example, I am hard-wired to stay up late and wake up pretty early (thanks for that internal clock Dad). But every now and then my body just says, “Sleep, please!” and as long as I don’t have somewhere I need to be, I do. This might mean that I get out of bed at 10:30am (which compared to my normal wake-up time is akin to noon), but if it’s what I need then so be it and I will be better for giving myself the extra rest in the long run. Other times it might mean I cancel a workout or choose something low-impact instead of what you I had initially planned because my body hasn’t properly recovered and needs some extra time to rebuild itself, again, I’ll be better for it in the long run. Or maybe it’s having pizza for dinner (Note: I love pizza. I know there are healthier options involving cheese and tomatoes as well as ways that I could make a healthier version of pizza but when I want pizza, I want pizza, end of story), or making sure I have time in my schedule for things that will recharge my soul like dinner with friends, a movie, etc. In my book, none of these activities qualify as a day off, they are simply allowing me to live a balanced life and not have the unrealistic goal of always being on.     

What do you think? Is it #ballstothewalls all day every day, or can we finally start embracing that being 100% on all the time is the quickest way to wind up 100% burned out and potentially injured?

 

What do you think of #NoDaysOff? How do you define balance?

Father Knows Best

Some weeks feel like months and this past week was one of those weeks (everything that happened was good, it was just non-stop). We all have mantras, pieces of advice, a TV show, etc. that we turn to when we need a boost. For me, this often means calling my dad. I am incredibly lucky to have a very close relationship with my dad. We share many interests, personality traits, and obviously a lot of DNA and he just “gets me.” In honor of my dad’s birthday today, I wanted to share some of my favorite pieces of “Dad Wisdom.”

Daddy and me. One of my favorite pictures from this past September.

Daddy and me. One of my favorite pictures from this past September.

Don’t get hung up on the details.

I am definitely guilty of not being able to see the forest for the trees. When this happens, my dad is quick to remind me to pull back and take a broader view. This is not to say that the details aren’t important because they are. However, it’s easy to place too much emphasis on the little things and neglect the overall goal. There may even be a better way to get there; but if you stay at 100x magnification (is that a real setting? I’ve decided yes), you’ll never know.

Respect the ocean.

It was important to my dad that my sister and I learn how to swim and, once we were old enough, that we learn how to swim in the ocean. The ocean has its own rhythm and rules. Waves come in sets. The water won’t wait for you; pick your move and commit. You’re never under for as long as you think. These same lessons apply to life as well. There’s very little around us that we can control. You need to be able to adapt to situations and use the skills you have to navigate them. Sometimes you will misjudge and get pulled under, coming up with a bathing suit full of sand, and sometimes you’ll catch the perfect wave and ride it in like a pro. Both are valuable experiences that we can grow from.

Swim little Leah, swim!

Swim little Leah, swim!

 Even Roger Federer gets nervous.

The summer between my junior and senior year of college, I took an acting class. (Well really I began it. I never finished because the teacher spent a good portion of each session discussing her husband’s work as a director and telling us that she could go into labor during the course. Not exactly conversations I had signed up for, or was willing to pay for.) Just before the first class started, I felt a rush of nerves and called my dad who unleashed the above gem about Roger (yes, we’re on a first name basis). For all I know Roger actually might not get nervous, but my dad’s point was no less spot on. No matter how good we are, there is still room for error and it is completely natural to feel nervous. As they (and my dad) always say, ‘Any given Sunday.’

Run to daylight.

I learned how to drive from my dad and a private instructor named Rosemary who I couldn’t even begin to describe if I tried. When I turned 17 and traded in my junior license for a senior license, a whole new network of roads known as New York City was now open to me (at least that’s how it worked in the early ’00s). Suburban roads and highways suddenly felt like a piece of cake. The seeming lack of rules, jaywalkers, bike messengers, and the cacophony of horns and sirens pretty much freaked me out. Dad to the rescue. “The rule is,” he said, “there are no rules, just run to daylight.” Say what? Turns out, like a lot of the advice my dad gives, this was a sports reference. In football, “running to daylight” means you see the open space and go for it. I am not saying this is necessarily the best way to approach driving in NYC (and obviously you need to make sure that the open space you’ve spotted will be open for as long as it will take to get there and that you can get there safely) but it really does work. :) 

Time spent thinking about things you have no control over/are in the past is wasted energy.

As with the ocean, there are things in life that we have no say over. Harping on these events is fruitless and does nothing but waste time and energy, not to mention that it won’t change the outcome. Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest.

That puffy cap and fancy robe mean I have wisdom too.

That puffy cap and fancy robe mean I have wisdom too.

 The game’s not over until it’s over, a lot can happen in the fourth quarter.

In our family, if you had to pick any part of a game to be sure to watch, it is the fourth quarter or final set. (We’re a football/tennis family but 9th inning, 3rd period, etc. work equally well here.) You can’t give up until the end. Don’t defeat yourself or get overconfident; things can change in an instant so keep going until that final buzzer. 

3:06:01 in pouring rain. My dad was/is a machine. I said I wouldn't post this on Instagram; I said nothing about my blog :)

3:06:01 in pouring rain. My dad was/is a machine. I said I wouldn't post this on Instagram; I said nothing about my blog :)

Who do you turn to for advice? Any memorable pearls of wisdom? Anyone else have a birthday today?

Working from Home: The Good, The Bad, & My Hatred for Sitting

[Source]

Since doing a 180 with my career, I’m frequently asked what it’s like to work from home and what I do all day. I totally get it. When I had an office job, the idea of working from home seemed like a magical fairyland. I imagined waking up and sitting with a cup of tea while reading through the day’s headlines and then diving into work, maybe taking an afternoon manicure or movie break, all while wearing sweatpants. Newsflash: Working from home is NOTHING like that, at least not for me. I’m going to write the rest of this Q & A style, using the questions I get most often. Enjoy!

 

What is a typical day for you?

LOL. There really is no typical day. This has been the hardest thing for me to get used to. Each day includes some/all of the following: tackling my inbox (actually multiple inboxes); reviewing where various projects are in their timelines and doing whatever corresponding work needs to be done to move them along; calls and/or meetings with companies a client is working with/in discussions with, potential clients, my business partner, people in my network; looking for new partnership opportunities for clients; writing copy for clients; composing any editorial pieces needed for What I’m Holding; applying to influencer campaigns for What I’m Holding; and various other projects that arise. It’s always an adventure and meetings and calls are often scheduled day of or at short notice. In general, it’s exhilarating and I love what I do, but there are definitely days when I just want to wake up knowing when and where I will have to be until I go to bed that night.

 

Do you get lonely?

Rarely. This might be hard to believe but it almost never crosses my mind that I’m sitting by myself. I am in constant contact with others, via phone, email, text, internal company messaging systems, or in person at meetings, not to mention that I have plenty of work to do. I think the fact that I begin each day with an exercise class also helps. At the studio, I see and interact with lots of people, many of whom are friends, so no matter what I’ve always had a social element to my day.

 

What do you miss about working in an office?

My standing desk, hands down. I’m actually in the process of redoing my desk/work area. With the amount of time I now spend at my desk, there are things about it/the general area that are irritating and, aside from my vision board which hangs on the wall above my desk, the space is completely uninspiring. The inability to stand though is really killing me. I never would have thought that would be the case but, turns out requesting one at work was a great decision, props to you Leah of the past. I’ve just ordered a StandStand and have high hopes; it’s basically a wooden, folding stand that converts any desk or table into a standing workspace. Fingers crossed! Also having an IT department J

 

Tips for working at home?

1.     Get dressed in real clothes every day. I did this from the start and I think it is really important. You’re still at work, look like it. Obviously I’m not putting on formal attire or even business casual most days but you will not find me working in sweats, unless I’m also sick (or it’s the weekend/after 9pm).

2.     Make sure you go outside every day. I’ve always needed daylight and fresh air on my face. Whether that came in the form of my commute, a quick walk around the block at lunch, or getting out of the subway a stop or two early. Being at home, most of these opportunities to be outside are eliminated so I make it a point to always get out. I usually do this at the end of the day, which I find helps me transition from work mode to home mode.

3.     Set limits. This one is tough. When you’re home, it’s easy to keep going until all hours and view the weekend as just plain old days of the week. The work is physically there, all your files, all your notes; whatever equipment/tech you use is there; and it’s simple to take a little break for dinner and then hop right back to it only to catch yourself getting sleepy at your desk at 11pm. Right now I’m trying hard to keep weekends work-free. If something urgent arises, of course I’m on it; I also do look at any emails/other communication that comes in and respond as appropriate. The work/life integration is never easy no matter who you are and where you work.  

 

What would you say to others contemplating working from home?

Before you take the leap (though with certain jobs like mine, it’s somewhat unavoidable), think about what it is you need to do for work each day and your work style. Be honest about distractions, temptations, tools, software, meeting spaces, etc. If you think you can do it, and want to, give it a try. Maybe you can ease into it, taking a day or two at home and the rest of the week in your office. Ultimately, it depends on you and the work you do. So long as you’re able to be productive and get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you are, at least in my opinion. 

 

Do you like it?

Overall yes.

 

Do you work from home? What’s the one thing on your desk that you can’t live without (laptop, phone, and chargers don’t count)?

Five Favs: February

I know every blogger starts monthly favorites this way but still, how is it already March 1st? Even with the extra day this year, I felt like February just flew by. Nevertheless, I still found five things this month that I am loving. Here we go…

1. Superstore

You can already tell this is going to be absurd and hilarious. [Source]

You can already tell this is going to be absurd and hilarious. [Source]

I discovered this show on FiOS OnDemand during one of our brutally cold weekends. The show stars America Ferrera and basically follows NBC’s now tried and true pseudo-documentary workplace comedy – think The Office (actually styled as a documentary/mockumentary) and Parks and Rec. Although I feel like the show pretty much sticks to in this formula and isn’t particularly innovative, it is generally very well written. Some of the jokes feel tired and they play right into stereotypes, but it’s so over-the-top absurd and the acting is fabulous, you can’t help but laugh. I will definitely be missing Superstore now that it’s short first season is over and am excited to see where the writers take it next season.

2. Quality Fake Plants

The Three Musketeers; except there were four Musketeers, whatever.

The Three Musketeers; except there were four Musketeers, whatever.

While I love flowers, keeping them alive is asking too much. I forget to water them, they die, I don’t want deal with their gross remains, I let them sit, they get grosser, I continue to let them fester, you see where this is going and no, I’m not proud of this. I recently discovered the most realistic succulents EVER at Kikkerland. My bff has a masters in forestry and she thought they were real. Boom. They look awesome and all I have to do is dust them.

3. Barneys Downtown

#StaircaseGoals [Source]

#StaircaseGoals [Source]

Once upon a time we had a Barneys Coop in my neighborhood. Then, there was a rumor that Barneys, real Barneys, was coming, and now it’s here and it’s STUNNING. Really, the interior is gorgeous. Will I shop there often/ever? Maybe for the occasional treat. However, it will have Fred’s (open to the public on March 7th) and I will certainly be adding that to my go-to neighborhood list. I’m interested, and a little worried, for the effect Barneys Downtown will have on the neighborhood, but in general, I think it will only be positive. Plus, who doesn’t like having gorgeous jewelry to ogle as you walk down the street? I hope they do a mini-version of their holiday windows!

4. Real Weekends

Except I'm right here and you can reach me a million different ways and I'll do whatever you need, day or night.

Except I'm right here and you can reach me a million different ways and I'll do whatever you need, day or night.

A longer post on working from home is coming but here’s a teaser: working and living in the same space is HARD, especially when you work non-traditional hours on multiple freelance projects. I have found myself working until all hours of the night (and morning), regardless of the day. Over the last two weekends in February, I made a conscious effort not to work. If I got an email, text, Slack, etc. I would check it, but if it wasn’t something urgent or that needed to be dealt with prior to Monday, I just let it be. #GameChanger. I found I was refreshed and ready to work on Mondays and got so much more out of my weekends. Technology and a Type-A personality can make for a dangerous combo so I will need to watch myself, but I’m going to do my best to keep this up.

5. Daylight

Say what? I’ve always been very conscious of the number of hours of daylight. My dad and I usually call each other when we first notice the days getting longer again. For us, that happened during February. Yesterday, I even tweeted about the fact that at nearly 6pm, it still wasn’t completely dark out. Excited much? Oh yes! Having more light just makes me happy, revelatory I know. I don’t suffer from SAD, but there is definitely more pep in my step and a change in my mood when dinner and sunlight begin to coincide.

 

What were your February favorites? 

Maybe She's Born With It? Maybe It's Lash Tinting?

When it comes to makeup, I am clueless. My mom only wears eye makeup and lip stain a handful of times a year and as a result, cosmetics weren’t something that often came into our house. I’ve never enjoyed the feeling of a full face of makeup, foundation feels thick and a bit suffocating to me and, given my skin’s proclivity to break out or get a rash from anything and everything, I am always hesitant when it comes to any sort of product going on my face.

Really, makeup does not equal beauty. [Source]

Really, makeup does not equal beauty. [Source]

I have had the occasional makeup application done prior weddings, prom, and a few times just on a whim when there was an opening at a department store. I will put on lip-gloss if the mood strikes or pre-date, but that’s where it stops, or used to stop (minus spot-concealer for blemishes). I have enjoyed the times when I’ve treated myself to makeup applications. As terrible as it sounds, it takes away any self-doubt and I walk into whatever event I’m going to, knowing that I look great. Saying this makes me cringe though because I don’t believe anyone needs makeup to look beautiful and I think that people are beautiful with or without makeup on, they are just different looks.

After getting scolded by my bff, for my makeup-less ways, I decided mascara seemed like the best place to start.

I like cake and I like frosting so... P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

I like cake and I like frosting so... P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

Be still my heart. I. LOVE. IT. (Except when it ends up on my contacts, which hurts my eyes and means I have to toss a perfectly good pair.) I don’t wear mascara everyday, and never when I work out, but, to quote my mom, “it makes your eyes sparkle.”

A few months in, I started thinking about getting lash extensions but they are really expensive and the application process can take hours. Considering that I workout daily, usually in a cycling class which leads to some pretty heavy sweating, I knew the lashes definitely wouldn’t last as long as the range salons quote. In searching for info on lash extensions, I came across lash tinting and suddenly had a vague memory of my mom going for tinting appointments. After consulting with my mom and reading everything I could about lash tinting, even the articles that claimed I would go blind, I bit the bullet and when to The Lash Loft

The experience itself was rather pleasant, though I don’t have anything to compare it to. The Lash Loft is a beautiful space where they do tinting and extensions; everything is clean with a luxurious flair. Initially, I was a little thrown by the fact that it’s one big open room, but this actually turned out to be helpful for me since it meant I could see the other clients and make superficial judgments a la ‘She looks like someone I could hang out with and she is here so everything will be fine,’ and ease my nerves. Any lingering reservations vanished once I got started; how could they not, you’re lying down and comfy and your eyes are closed. The staff was lovely and everyone answered all of my questions, even during the treatment. In total, I was there for a little under half an hour and, including tip, spent approximately $31. While I can’t say I notice a big difference (apparently if my hair were lighter it would have made more of an impact), getting on one of those padded spa tables is always nice and the curiosity would have continued to gnaw at me until I finally tried it. I’m now back to wearing mascara, though I still have about a week and a half left on the tint (based on what I was told) and starting to think about getting extensions.

The line up. It is weird at first isn't it? But those throw pillows! You've won me. P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

The line up. It is weird at first isn't it? But those throw pillows! You've won me. P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

Will extensions make me look like this? I hope so! I promise I'm not vain.

#LashGoals Maybe next time. P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

#LashGoals Maybe next time. P/C: The Lash Loft's Instagram

Have you had your lashes tinted? Do you wear lash extensions? Am I really pathetic for not wearing makeup?

Two F Words I Love: Fitness & Fashion

I think this guy would make an awesome workout buddy.. (Source)

I think this guy would make an awesome workout buddy.. (Source)

Sometime over the past few years, the fitness and fashion industries became linked. Perhaps no where is this more evident than athleisure boutique Bandier’s new flagship store which features Studio B, a space with daily classes taught by some of the most sought-after instructors in the fitness industry. From designers launching lines of athletic wear to more affordable companies including active wear in their offerings, athleisure seems to be much more than a passing trend.

Personally, I love the uptick in fashionable sweat sessions. Wearing something that I enjoy makes me feel more confident which directly translates to how I perform in my workout; I’m less likely to psyche myself out after hearing an instructor lay out a road map and I will do everything I can to push through those last eight counts (the slow counts) of jump squats. This is not to say that I place a premium on the superficial or that I always have my look together and judge anyone who doesn’t, far from it. I also fall on the Type-A side of the personality spectrum and always go into something demanding the best of myself. Rather, when I feel comfortable and like me, a feeling my clothing can play a large roll in, everything falls into place in a way that makes any task, no matter how difficult, seem that much more attainable #DressForSuccess. Having fun prints, multiple colors, different fabrics, and a variety of design elements like cutouts and mesh, allow me to express my personality. I also love seeing what others have chosen, what does their power suit look like? Looking at what others are donning and trying to read any shirts with words on them can also make for a great distraction when I’m really feeling the burn. If I’m staring at you in class it’s me, NOT you. You look great; I’m just (a) wondering if I can also pull off that pattern and (b) trying not to fall over.

Left: The infamous Tory Sport pants. Top right: I got these from Old Navy and I love them! They even have a cute ruching from the knee down, not sure how clear that is in the photo. Bottom right: Sometimes you need your Lulu and your colors.

Left: The infamous Tory Sport pants. Top right: I got these from Old Navy and I love them! They even have a cute ruching from the knee down, not sure how clear that is in the photo. Bottom right: Sometimes you need your Lulu and your colors.

Unlike a lot of fashion trends, what I think is so nice about leggings that can for from bar to barre is that they are offered at all price points. You don’t have to be able to shell out $135 for these pants (actually even if you want to, it will be a while before they get to you as allegedly sold out in one day); Old Navy and Forever 21 both have full lines. Even better, at least amongst the people I know, brands of athletic apparel really don’t matter to them. It’s all about fit, functionality, and fun. If they like a piece and it works, great, if not then pass. There’s no judgment on budget-friendly clothing, in fact I’ve witnessed the opposite. Perhaps that’s because ultimately the goal of these clothes is to allow us to each achieve our best (and let’s be real, they are going to get drenched in sweat). When we work out, we are trying to attain a goal and we need something that will light the fire to get us there, or at least closer to wherever there is. Energy is contagious, thus we want those around us to be on the same page, whether classmates in a group class or the person you’re secretly treadmill racing. Whatever crops bring you there are the crops for you, who cares what name is inside!

Confession: I might have ordered this Lululemon bra top while editing this post. I have a gift card so it doesn't count and it will make me feel good, right?... Or it might get returned; this really needs to be tried on.

Confession: I might have ordered this Lululemon bra top while editing this post. I have a gift card so it doesn't count and it will make me feel good, right?... Or it might get returned; this really needs to be tried on.

Do splurge, save, or both on athleisure? What's your favorite brand? Dressing for success, yay or nay?

Meditation: Can this head case make head space?

At the end of April 2015, I was invited to a guided meditation event. Prior to the evening, I knew very little about meditation but increasingly it seemed like everyone I knew was talking about it and starting their own daily practices. That meditation was capturing the minds (sorry I couldn’t help it) of so many people I knew, all of whom were so different from each other, furthered my curiosity. I assumed this event would be the thing that pushed me into the meditation zone and henceforward I would begin each morning in a state of total Zen. Spoiler: This did NOT happen.

Curse you tumblr images for making meditation look so perfect.

Curse you tumblr images for making meditation look so perfect.

I didn’t dislike the evening, but I certainly wasn’t hooked. The more I tried to sit still and open my mind, the more I felt myself fidgeting and my mind started racing. About half-way through, my foot fell asleep and I didn’t know if I should try to stomp it awake or let it be. I felt like a total newbie and completely out of my element. Didn’t I sign up for something that was supposed to make me feel calm and centered? Just before the program ended, we did an exercise where you look into a stranger’s eyes for a few minutes. As if this wasn’t already awkward enough, my contacts fogged up, prompting a fit of blinking/tearing up. Admit it, you wish you were this cool :)

Not wanting to give up in my quest to be more mindful, I decided to try the app Head Space. I know many friends who use it and have read that it’s a good introduction to meditation. Shortly after beginning the first session I put my phone down, turned off the sound, and turned on the TV. A+ to this girl. The next day I deleted the app and unsubscribed from the company’s emails. Since then, I’ve continued to feel weirdly guilty about my inability to meditate. This past week I tried a short guided meditation session on Biet Simkin’s website (she led the aforementioned guided meditation event). I made it maybe one minute. However, what Biet said in that minute about the practice of meditation turned out to be just the self check-in I needed. I was reminded that for me, a sense of calm comes from taking a walk, sitting in a park, and looking out at the water or up at the night sky. I am very in-tune with my body and can feel when my anxiety levels start to rise or something is out of whack. In those moments I stop myself and ask, “What’s bothering you?” Even if I can’t pinpoint it, these pauses help. Could I be more self-aware and make the time to do this more regularly rather when something is already giving my subconscious grief? Of course. But I realized that perhaps my attempts at meditation had been fruitless because I have been meditating, albeit in my own way, all along. Three cheers for Leahtation (Lee-uh-tay-shun).

Love getting schooled by a puppet. Whatever, no biggie. 

Love getting schooled by a puppet. Whatever, no biggie. 

So what if upon waking up I check my email, go on Instagram, and then sign into Facebook. I like starting my day knowing what’s on deck (email), seeing what people have been up to and reading funny and/or inspiring quotes (Instagram), and finding out whose birthday it is (Facebook), and there’s nothing wrong with that. Minds come in as many varieties as there are people; why should mindfulness be any different?

Do you meditate or have some other mindfulness techniques? Am I the only one who isn't all about the traditional meditation?