Croatian Eats & Finds

Hello from across the pond and then some. Apologies that you are getting a Wed/Fri post mashed into one but between jet lag and then being out exploring all day, it's not so easy to find a time to blog. One more week and then I'll be back and on track. 

Pre-trip, I had some tell me that the food in Croatia was nothing special, while others said it would be lots of fresh fish, and wikipedia informed me that a staple was pasta with red sauce. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this so I just hoped for the best. I also came prepared with snacks, as I do just about everywhere I go. My go-tos are bars (usually Quest Bars, though I'm not in the OMG Quest Bars are life camp that some people are), apple-coconut bars from Trader Joe's (those are the only 2 ingredients), and packets of lightly salted, dried edamame- a great protein boost and a little salt which I find helps stave off any light-headedness that I have on occasion experienced due to having low blood pressure, and dried banana fruit leather (there are a few brands that make this). All of these are portable, easy to eat on the go, and lay pretty much flat for easy packing.

[Source]

The food situation in Croatia is a mix of Italian and mediterranean/seafood. I love a good piece of fresh fish so I've been really happy. The fruit is also incredibly fresh, as are the tomatoes. My only complaints are that desserts are mainly strudel and gelato (not really my jam) and every kitchen is seriously heavy handed with the oil/butter/dressing (which my stomach is not totally on board with). Now that we are on the coast, the views that accompany our meals are gorgeous. It stays light at night until about 9:15pm, which makes dinners particularly beautiful.

Where to even begin with finds? Everything here has been incredible thus far. Despite the country's history and lack of independence until the 1990s, everyone is kind and seems to have a positive outlook on life, a stark contrast from what I experienced when I visited Prague in college. If I had to narrow it down, it would be the following:

The flowers. OMG the flowers. Everywhere, even the tiniest apartments have balconies full of the most vibrant flowers.

The GardenThe Garden is a bar/lounge/restaurant right near the hotel we stayed at in Zadar. It is the only raw, vegan restaurant in Zadar (shocker lol) and is delicious! I wish I could get their Art of Raw salad in NYC.

Greetings to the Sun & the Sea Organ. Right along the water's edge in Zadar are two installations, one is called Greetings to the Sun and the other is the Sea Organ. Greetings to the Sun is an inlaid 22 meter in diameter circle, on the pier, made up of lights and solar cells. During the day, the solar cells absorb energy and at night display a light show. Apparently the energy also powers some of the surrounding waterfront area. (You can read more about it here.) The Sea Organ is just a few steps from Greetings to the Sun. Looking like massive marble steps from the outside, beneath (and not visible) are several sets of pipe organs. As the wind and waves wash through, the air they push goes into the organs and comes up through openings in the pier. The sound generated is at once haunting, beautiful, slightly off-key, reminiscent of Dory speaking whale in Finding Nemo, and completely magical. (You can read more about it here.)

Greetings to the Sun far left and right; Sea Organ in the middle 

Have you recently had any memorable travel eats or finds? 

Two tickets to paradise... But I want to workout too

Vacation. Is there anyone who doesn't like hearing that word? As important as it is to get away and recharge and explore new cultures and was of life, if you're like me, you also want some form of fitness on your trip. Exercise is part of how I start my day, it gets me going and there's nothing like heading into your day on an endorphin high, knowing that you've already crushed it. I also find it comforting. As much as I love trying new things, I'm also a creature of habit. When I workout, I'm bringing a little piece of home with me. But what to do when you're away and don't have access to the gym, your favorite boutique fitness class, trainer, etc.? Never fear, there is tons that you can do!

Brought some Flybarre to Belize. What do you think of my seltzer weights? #pulselife 

Brought some Flybarre to Belize. What do you think of my seltzer weights? #pulselife 

Try a local class: You might be away from your home studios, but many cities are home to some great and unique workouts. Do a search online, ask friends, locals you meet, etc. and use it as a chance to see what the local fitness scene is like.

Hotel gym: Don't knock the resources available at your hotel. There is usually at least a treadmill and you can do all sorts of things with free weights, a resistance band, or just your own bodyweight. 

Walk/hike/bike/kayak/etc.: Are you somewhere that has outdoor activities? If so, take advantage of your surroundings. Bonus: You'll get to experience the place you are visiting in a new way! 

Apps/Online: In the past few years there has become a veritable smorgasbord of online and app-based workouts. Not all are free and it can be a lot to sort through, but there is some great programming out there and workouts that range the gamut from yoga to playlists for a run; truly something for everyone.

Personally, I tend to go the gym and take advantage of what the locale has to offer in terms of outdoor activities (a walk or hike, swimming, etc.). I find it useful to bring a resistance band as they pack easily and can be used in a host of exercises (and for stretching). If I can't find weights, I use bottles from the mini bar. Pillows can sub in for a ball (ish, it's not perfect). Have a chair/bed/couch? Voila: Tricep dips! You can also do these in the airport and I totally have. Did I look nuts and get some stares? You bet. Did I care? At first and then not at all.  

Above all, have fun with it, do what you can and enjoy your vacation! A little time off never hurt anyone.

I know, I look awesome but I just climbed up a huge Mayan temple. 

I know, I look awesome but I just climbed up a huge Mayan temple. 

What do you do for fitness on vacation?

There is still goodness & 2 Finds

This week has been rough. The news seems like it should be renamed "the bads." While we mourn, comfort, and take action to make things better, we also must keep living and finding the good that is out there. 

While the biggest "find" on my mind is a Father's Day present (I am still woefully empty-handed because my dad is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for), I have found two awesome things to share with all of you. *Fingers crossed* a gift for my dad follows soon!

On Sunday, the Museum at Eldridge Street is having their annual Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival. Arts & crafts, food, music, general fun and a celebration of three cultures with roots in the neighborhood- so much yes to this! A multicultural celebration feels especially important given recent events. 

Challah making (IG: @jenbenz87); Empanda Demo (IG: @waynesimpkins); Mahjong (IG: @tominpok); & Decoration/Part of larger structure (not sure) (IG: @mexicalibert)

My other find is a much-needed accessory for my upcoming vacation: a passport holder. In the past I have poo-pooed these, thinking they were completely unnecessary. However, after much travel without one and then using an old leather planner cover as a makeshift case, hoping that each time I opened it neither my passport nor my global entry card had slid out, decided I needed a proper passport case. I set off down 5th Avenue determined. Surprisingly I did not have as easy a time finding a passport case as I would have thought. The first store I tried only had ones sans slots for cards and the second only had mens. I, like the woman helping me initially thought, "Isn't this a unisex item?" Turns out these were really pretty masculine. They were also quite dinged up. On a whim I decided to try Paper Source (Side note: one of my favorite stores- fabulous cards and paper goods plus lots of fun little gifty/trinket things and they offer in-store workshops) and success!  

Say hello to this guy:

[Source]

When I first saw it I thought, 'Guess third time isn't the charm,' thinking it looked too gimmicky. But, always open to giving second chances, I reconsidered. My departure date is fast-approaching, I am having a love affair with rose gold (although it's becoming pretty serious, we should probably discuss moving in together), and I decided that, like tote bags, a passport case is an accessory where you can get away with a bit of tackiness. It's cute, it makes me smile, and honestly, who doesn't need a reminder not to take yourself too seriously when you're in the midst of travel stress? Sold.

Did you find anything fun this week?

Travel & Food

Next week I will be heading "across the pond" with my parents for nearly two weeks of relaxation and sight-seeing. As my excitement builds, I have been thinking about past trips and the food adventures (good & bad) that I've had. 

How did someone do this?! [Source]

How did someone do this?! [Source]

I'm never more acutely aware of how distinct the food culture of each country, and city for that matter, is until I find myself somewhere new and notice that while I'm not doing anything rude or gross, my behavior or order doesn't quite match what's going on around me. When I studied abroad in Stockholm, we had a session during orientation during which the program directors spoke to us about some of the key cultural differences we would encounter, one of which was the way that Swedes eat. During a meal, Swedes, we were told, hold their fork in their left hand with the rounded (or back as I think of it) side facing up and their knife in their right hand. Rather than moving their utensils between hands, alternating between cutting and eating like we typically do in America, the Swedes never put their utensils down, instead cutting and then pushing the food with the knives onto the back of the fork and eating from there. Shortly after this lesson, my friends and I tried to eat this way, wanting to live as much in harmony with the culture we were visiting as we could. Cut (pun possibly intended) to us dropping food and taking FOREVER to get through a few bites; it was pathetic.

Semla. A seasonal Swedish pastry. If you're there during the season it's a must try!

Semla. A seasonal Swedish pastry. If you're there during the season it's a must try!

When at a Viking Village in Sweden, you try Rocky Mountain Oysters. 

When at a Viking Village in Sweden, you try Rocky Mountain Oysters. 

Other foreign experiences have been more shaped by specific foods. Most distinctive of which for me was my family's trip to Morocco several years ago. At first, I was loving tagine. The fact that each time the top of the clay pot was lifted different spices, colors, and flavors awaited my palate, despite all being chicken tagine, was fascinating and exciting. A week and ten chicken tagines later, I was less enthused. We more or less begged our tour guide to take us to a restaurant that offered literally anything other than tagine and ended up at a generic buffet in a hotel with plain pasta and rolls. I'm don't know that I've ever unwrapped a pad of butter with such gusto.

The dried fruit and nut selection in Morocco was unreal. We NEVER got sick of stalls like this one.

The dried fruit and nut selection in Morocco was unreal. We NEVER got sick of stalls like this one.

I don't know what foods await me in Europe as we're heading to places I have never been but I've heard to expect lots of fresh seafood and I'm 100% on board with that. I look forward to making new memories, perhaps discovering a new favorite dish, and learning more about the places I will be in through their food.

Do you associate places with specific foods/restaurants? Any restaurants or dishes you'll never forget?

New Schedule & Reflecting on Orlando

I've had a think (#sorrynotsorry I lived in London post-college and that phrase firmly inserted itself into my vocab) and your weekly menu is going to look more or less like this...

  • Mondays: Fitness/Health & Wellness (ex: class reviews, fitness news, thoughts on articles, stress, etc.)
  • Wednesdays: Food (ex: a new recipe, restaurant review, top X places, where I want to go, etc.)
  • Fridays: Finds (Ok yes this is basically a catchall and the lawyer in me hears SCOTUS ruling "void for vagueness" but I need a way to highlight the awesome goings on in NYC & elsewhere, movie/book/TV discoveries, new wardrobe items, etc.)

More general updates and of course monthly favorites will make appearances from time to time as well. 

Now that we've covered logistics, I want to get into today's post and I would be remiss if it were not about the horrific shooting that took place in Orlando. This is not the place where I will be political or debate the Second Amendment. Instead, I want to look at how this impacts us, and in keeping with the Monday theme of fitness/health & wellness, use that topic as the grounding force. 

For me, what was particularly jarring about this event is that it came on the heels of a beautiful, mostly tech-free weekend trip I took to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends. Surrounded by so much natural beauty in the woods of New Hampshire, where individuals and couples of all races, creeds, genders, and sexual orientations were gathered to celebrate love, it was hard to reconcile what had happened when I came face to face with CNN at the airport Sunday morning.

This was the first thing I saw Sunday. Not too shabby.

This was the first thing I saw Sunday. Not too shabby.

The more I tried to understand how while I was having an evening filled with joy and laughter, my fellow humans were being mercilessly killed, the more I was at a loss. There is no explanation. But, what I am comforting myself with and trying as hard as I can to cling to, is remembering that there is still good in the world. There is still love. In our friends and family, and often in strangers, we can find hope and a helping hand.

In my law school Mediation Clinic, we learned about the effect that facial expression, body language, and tone can have on those around you and how it can change interactions. Sort of obvious I know, but once you start reading the studies and taking quizzes yourself, it really hits you. So much of what makes for a healthy, balanced life, are the relationships that we have and how we go through our day- are we running frantically, are we eating on the go, are we just following a schedule that someone else has printed for us, or are we stopping to be present in each moment (or maybe it's a combination)? Not every day will be perfect and some days you might even actively choose to just go through the motions, sometimes that's what you need. After I've had a lousy interaction with someone, I will find myself working hard not to spread my annoyance (ok let's be real, it can be anger) to others and it is in these moments that I strive to do small kindnesses. This shakes me out of my mood, and is my way of counteracting the negativity I've encountered. 

I found this in a Google Image search a very long time ago. I don't know where it came from, but it's pretty perfect.

I found this in a Google Image search a very long time ago. I don't know where it came from, but it's pretty perfect.

I hope that each of us can find a way to continue on, with love in our hearts and kindness on our lips. In the words of MLK, Jr., "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Be good to each other. 

Seen on the sidewalk. This is what it's all about.

Seen on the sidewalk. This is what it's all about.

"Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes"

I'm a sucker for puns. "Change" made out of change; so corny &  so perfect. [Source]

I'm a sucker for puns. "Change" made out of change; so corny &  so perfect. [Source]

Change is scary, hard, exciting, empowering, and something I've never been particularly great at, and yet I've done it so many times when I look back at my almost 3 decades of life. No, I'm not about to go into a philosophical discussion about change but I am going to tell you that I've decided to change things up a bit here. 

When I first began Glitter for Breakfast, I was so nervous that just getting a first post out took a lot of courage. Now, I'm starting to find my rhythm and I want to give the blog a bit more focus. It will still be a "lifestyle blog," but I will have a more set schedule with specific content for certain days of the week or a week of X & Y followed by a week of A & B, then back to X & Y, etc. (though I can't promise there won't be the inevitable detour along the way). I'm still working out the schedule but you can expect topics like: fitness/health & wellness, food, fashion, travel, NYC, and I'll still do my monthly favorites. 

"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." (#sorrynotsorry for the cheesy motivational quote, I love it)

If you have thoughts on how you'd like to me to schedule content, leave it in the comments!

Five Favs: May

Summer is in the air and I love it! I've always thought of June as Friday, July as Saturday, and August as Sunday. May was a great month but, like anyone, I'm glad we've made it to the weekend aka summer! But before it's full steam ahead into June, here are my May favorites. 

Grace & Frankie

I would have done a screenshot from my favorite episode but they're all my favorite. [Source] 

I would have done a screenshot from my favorite episode but they're all my favorite. [Source

As my cousin kindly put it, “I think it’s for people our parents’ age.” Well, that may be, but I LOVE Netflix’s “Grace & Frankie.” It stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston (but Jane and Lily are the real starts). The acting is pretty much flawless and the cast as a whole is phenomenal- the actors who play the adult children are awesome (some you may recognize *cough* Ethan Embry, Brooklyn Decker). It is smartly written and, unlike so much of the entertainment we are fed these days, is a fresh take on friendship, “modern” families, and aging. I binged the first two seasons (13, half hour episodes each) over just a few days and can’t wait for the third season; hurry up and get here 2017 except don’t because I want to enjoy summer and fall and the holidays, etc.

When friends who live far away come to visit

As we get older friends move for jobs, love, life, etc. and while I am incredibly proud of all of my friends who are off doing exciting things, it’s still hard and sad when someone leaves. I know I am lucky to live in a time in which technology lets us be in near constant communication, but calls and Facetime are hardly the same as actually being together and there’s nothing like a spur of the moment meet up. A few weeks ago, one of my dear friends who now lives in the Bay Area was in NYC for a few days and I got to see him, hug him, ride with him (he’s a Master Instructor at Flywheel- any of you in the Bay Area, sign up for his class NOW, you will not be sorry), it was just non-stop happiness while I was with him.

Could not love you more if I tried. Something weird is going on with my right eye here. Whatever, I love this boy.

Could not love you more if I tried. Something weird is going on with my right eye here. Whatever, I love this boy.

Recess benefit: Beg, Borrow, or Steal

Spring is benefit season. In general, I always feel slightly awkward at benefits, even when I know many of the guests. I’m not sure why but I always feel a slight twinge of “I’ve snuck into Mom and Dad’s world and I’m not really supposed to be here.” However, an event where I never feel awkward and in fact become a barracuda is at Recess’ benefit. Recess is a NYC-based non-profit which gives studio and exhibition space to contemporary artists while simultaneously allowing the public to interact with the artists, you can read more here. For the past two years, the event has been set up as a game. Each guest is assigned a piece of art upon arrival and then with steal and defend cards, you can beg, borrow, or steal (or block a steal with your defend cards) with other guests to obtain a different piece. Both years I have been ruthless and gotten the pieces I wanted. I have also made enemies along the way. Seriously. This year I heard that the girl I stole Mash from said she “lost her dream piece” and now her “whole night was ruined.” Part of me feels really bad about this but the competitive side of me says, this is the game and you knew the rules going in. Play to win baby. Am I awful? Maybe a little. (Last year's loot is on the left and this year's on the right- yes I know I totally could have gone to Michael's and made my own MASH, but that's not the point.)

Chewbacca Mom

If you don’t know who Chewbacca Mom is then a) welcome to planet Earth & b) watch this right now. What I love about this clip was said so perfectly by the person behind my #5 favorite. I won’t do his words justice but to paraphrase, so much of the time things that go viral are negative in content and/or are spread out of a mean spiritedness. This video went viral because the woman’s joy was infectious. It was about sharing laughter and fun. When you watch you laugh with her and never at her. We need more of this in the world!

Branden Harvey’s GOODNEWSLETTER

Branden Harvey is a self-described storyteller who focuses on stories about goodness the world over. I “met” (I will always think it’s weird to know someone when you’ve only ever communicated electronically) Branden through @whatimholding work and when looking at his website, discovered his GOODNEWSLETTER. A weekly email about nothing but happy stories?! Sign me up! I am so happy I subscribed; it’s so refreshing (and encouraging) to wake up on Tuesdays to a reminder that despite the tragedies and injustices occurring daily, there is still a lot of good out there. If you’re sick of only getting news digests that bring you down, you should check this out.

We all need some goodness. [Source]

We all need some goodness. [Source]

What were your May favorites?

"There are places I remember..."

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! This year, the holiday is bittersweet for me. I am fortunate that none of my loved ones were lost during service, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who were not so lucky. Instead as summer kicks off, I am acutely aware of a very special place that will no longer be a part of my summers, at least not for a while.

Heaven is a place on Earth. No, I'm not getting teary, it's my allergies.

Heaven is a place on Earth. No, I'm not getting teary, it's my allergies.

My mom grew up spending summers in Montauk and in the late 1970s, her parents decided to build their own house in East Hampton. Sadly my grandmother passed away prior to the house’s completion and my grandfather was only alive to enjoy it for a few brief years before he died. However, my family and my mom’s sisters’ families got to enjoy it for decades. Growing up, my immediate family would spend many weekends there during the year and come the end of school, would go out from mid-June to the start of August. Some of my happiest moments and memories took place in East Hampton and when I was there, the beauty of the town and salty, clear sea air worked their magic on me, melting away my stress.

Over time, East Hampton (frankly the whole east end) has changed. Every year brought more “summer people” and with them more traffic, entitlement, and attitude- everything we would go there to escape from. Add to that the fact that as we got older responsibilities, be they academic or work-related, meant that we couldn’t spend as much time there as we once did and that when three families have all adult children, some of whom have their own children, sorting out bedroom assignments when more than one family was there could feel like solving a Rubik’s cube.

I know, I know, I’m sad about no longer having a house in “The Hamptons.” I realize this is the epitome of #firstworldproblems, but to me, it’s not about where the house was or that I no longer have a summer home. It could have been a shack in the middle of anywhere and I would feel pangs of nostalgia. East Hampton was where I felt a connection to my grandparents. Having never met them, to be in a house they were in with flowers in the garden that my grandmother planted and a basement filled with boxes of their things was my way of knowing them. My parents and both of my aunts were married at our house and I think part of me always thought that one day I too follow in this tradition. When I look through my childhood photos and remember my summers, so much of it took place there.

Little Mommy (L); More grown up Mommy with baby me (R)

I know that one day I will go to East Hampton again, but there will be a lot of emotions as I make that familiar drive, knowing that the destination will not be the same. For now, I’m doing my best to look forward to all of the new memories to be made this summer and trying not to cry when I see all of the “Hamptons” posts on social media and lists from various publications about where to eat, shop, sweat, etc. this summer.

Can you believe that when we divided up everything in the house there wasn't a huge fight over this Leah-designed plate of the view? Artists are never appreciated in their time. 

Can you believe that when we divided up everything in the house there wasn't a huge fight over this Leah-designed plate of the view? Artists are never appreciated in their time. 

Have you ever sold a childhood home? What do you typically do in the summer?

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?