October 17, 2014
Friday Flashback: Age

(Sorry, no video this week as I’m traveling and on my phone).

Not so long ago, I was sitting at my family’s kitchen table as I explained to my mother that I was going to graduate a yearly early from high school. It was an unusual decision, but for whatever reason, I was determined to make it happen. And after discussing it with my parents, a counselor, and a principal, the decision had been made.

I entered college as an innocent seventeen-year-old-girl, unable to open my own bank account, and ready to take on the world.

I thrived in college. I did it all - the class work, the internships, working in the library, joining dance clubs, partying on weekends, and working on the school’s literary journal. Age wasn’t really a factor, except when it came to the drinking.

As a sophomore, I had senior friends. We all shared the same interest: writing. We talked about our personal lives, our writing styles, our hopes for the future. “You have to come out with us,” they’d say after class, but I had to wave them off and go back to my dorm room alone.

Once my friends reached 21, they went out to the bars… And I stayed back. You could say, “it’s the law” or “it’s a rite of passage,” but I was as mature, and in many cases, more mature than many of my classmates.

Then, I was a senior in college and I still couldn’t join my friends for a celebratory drink at the bar. It was devastating. For the first time, I felt my age had betrayed me. It wasn’t fair.

Finally I turned 21, I graduated college, and I moved to Boston. I was a good employee, I worked hard, I asked a lot of questions, and I worked my way up, managing to impress many people along the way.

And yet, I felt my age working against me. In meetings, older folks would make sly comments. I’d ignore them. People would laugh when I made cynical comments, as if I were too young to understand. In meetings, people would listen to me, but speak to my elders, as if I were just as assistant along for the ride.

Age is a funny thing, isn’t it? I’ve never acted my age, which is why many people look shocked when they find out how old I am as if the number suddenly changes my experiences and my maturity. It doesn’t. It just changes the way people think.

My dilemma isn’t a new one. Many people struggle with their age - being too old or too young - when really, age doesn’t matter at all. The person is the only thing that matters. At what point, though, will my age stop feeling like burden?

October 16, 2014

During my weekend in Vermont, my wonderful boyfriend made [I] stuffed cinnamon french toast covered in Oreo cookies, [II] brussel sprouts, and [III] homemade mac and cheese. And every party’s better with [IV] white sangria & chips and salsa.

Pictures taken courtesy of a friend, food cooked courtesy of my boyfriend. 

October 16, 2014

Woodstock, Vermont, October 2014.

I cannot take credit for these beautiful photos (as a friend took them), but I did have the privilege of enjoying these views for the whole weekend. It was perfect. Look at that foliage!

October 10, 2014

Friday Flashback:

I have a really big family. I have over fifty first cousins, in addition to aunts and uncles, cousins’ spouses, cousins’ kids, etc. For this reason, I’ve been to many, many weddings.

I was a flower girl when I was a kid. I wore this pretty blue dress and I carried flowers down the aisle. I vaguely remember unwrapping my gift from the bride – a Precious Moments figurine – and falling asleep in my mother’s lap while the music played on. Sadly, that couple is now divorced.

Then there was the wedding where the bride and groom danced their first dance to Shania Twain’s “From this Moment.” Even as a kid, I knew this was an overplayed song, as I had spent many car rides listing to her CD. The couple held each other as they rocked back and forth as they looked out at the crowd. Not once did they look at each other during that dance. You can imagine what they’re marriage is like now.

I’m in my almost-mid-twenties so my friends and acquaintances are getting married, having babies, having second babies, and buying houses. It’s great – really – I’m happy for all of them, I’m just not at that point in my life. I’m still figuring out grad school, what career I want, where I want to eventually live.

And you know what’s interesting: some of those couples that got married 10-15 years ago are now divorced and re-married or raising their children as single parents. So think about all of the people getting married now… how many will still be together in 10-15 years? I hope all – or nearly – all of them.

But the reality is: the weddings don’t matter. I’ve been to plenty to know that the music, the flowers, the bridal colors, and the big bachelor parties don’t make a better marriage. Of course, we all have an image of what it will be like and we want it be our “perfect day,” but wouldn’t you rather a nearly-perfect marriage instead? That’s why I’ll wait these next few dances out, thanks.

 I have no problem watching everybody else reach their milestones first. I’ve always been a late-bloomer anyway, but at least I know when the time comes that I’ll be in it for the right reasons… not for the party or the white dress, but rather for the chance at having a forever with somebody and raising a family, because that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

‘Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen. And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory. I’m thinking ‘bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways.. oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart. I’m thinking out loud that maybe we found love right where we are.

-Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud

[And for the record, I absolutely love this video. Good work, Nabbytabs - you’re both amazing].

October 8, 2014
Tips to Unleash Your Inner Kindness

… have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts…
—  Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
I can be sassy, stubborn, insensitive, and blunt, but something I’m working on is kindness. I can be kind - heck, I know how to ask somebody about their day, send birthday gifts, cheer someone up when they’re upset, etc. But something I, like most people, forget is that kindness can go a long way, no matter how big or small the gesture. So here’s what I’m learning and here’s what I think we should all work hard to do:
1. Pay attention to others.
Whether you’re walking down the street, standing in a long line, or waiting for the subway, try and pay attention. Once, I helped a man get a subway pass, because he couldn’t read English. I missed my train, but later that day, when I didn’t have my subway pass, somebody let me use theirs. That’s kindness.
2. Smile.
Seriously, when did we stop doing this? When I moved to Boston, I smiled at people as I passed them. I even said “hello” once in a while and people looked at me funny. Why? Because they weren’t used to it and how sad is that? Smile more often, it really is contagious. 
3. Make the effort.
Give up your seat. Offer help when someone’s lost. Say “thank you.” These things are so easy to do, but we don’t do them often enough.
4. “Kill them with kindness.”
No matter what people say or do, try to be kind. It’s insanely difficult at times, but it will be worth it. Someday karma with come back - to you and them. And you never know where you’ll see that person again… you could even end up working for that person someday. 
5. Give more.
Find a charity that means something to you and contribute time or money to it. Spend your time volunteering or helping the environment. Just remember, when your kind to others, they will be kind to you. And if they aren’t, then something’s missing in their life - whether it’s confidence, love, or generosity - so be kind to them.
6. Words and actions matter.
Sometimes we think kindness is only relevant for strangers, for the people we don’t know. I know I tend to let me anger out on the people closest to me and that’s not fair. Family and friends deserve your kindness. And just because you share the same blood, doesn’t mean you have the right to cut them into a million pieces. Everything you say and do will be remembered so choose wisely.
Our society is full of bullying, abuse, war, and tragedy. And now, more than ever, we’re aware of it, thanks (or not thanks) to the media which tells us everything. And because of the media, people feel like they can write rude comments and belittle others on twitter or news sites. Don’t be that person. Seriously, the world’s hard enough. Be kind. And “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”

October 5, 2014
"Thinking something does not make it true. Wanting something does not make it real."

— Michelle Hodkin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (via larmoyante)

(via yeahlifehappens)

October 4, 2014
Join in the fight: Save the Tatas! 
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Holy crap! 
1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
About 40,000 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2014 from breast cancer.
For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. 
It’s the month of PINK: one of my favorite colors. In college, I wore pink strands in my hair, because why not? It’s important to raise awareness, but the whole point of raising awareness is to promote breast exams, and testing for breast cancer! How can we put an end to breast cancer, and cancer, in general, if we don’t get tested? 
Early detection is the best way to kill the cancer before it kills us! So join in the fight against ALL cancers - talk about it, get tested, support those who have it, and help put an end to it! 

Join in the fight: Save the Tatas!

  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Holy crap! 
  • 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • About 40,000 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2014 from breast cancer.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. 

It’s the month of PINK: one of my favorite colors. In college, I wore pink strands in my hair, because why not? It’s important to raise awareness, but the whole point of raising awareness is to promote breast exams, and testing for breast cancer! How can we put an end to breast cancer, and cancer, in general, if we don’t get tested? 

Early detection is the best way to kill the cancer before it kills us! So join in the fight against ALL cancers - talk about it, get tested, support those who have it, and help put an end to it! 

October 3, 2014

Friday Flashback: It’s Tough Being a Girl

In middle school, the girls collected lipglosses in their pencil cases. It was the thing to do, so I did it. My favorite was a long silver one that smelled and tasted like vanilla cake. When I put it on, my lips were sparkly, like a frosted layer of ice, and sticky so my loose hair clung to them.

I hated middle school. I was picked on, not bullied, necessarily, but certainly disliked. Why? Because I was skinny? Because I was quiet? I don’t know. I spent those years trying to be like everybody else – wearing cute outfits that weren’t cute at all, learning how to be at school while on my period, and straightening my wavy hair with a crappy straightener that didn’t actually straighten it.

Then I got to high school where I wore colorful headbands and pink ribbons in my ponytails. Sometimes I wore sweats, but the top and bottom had to match. I would wake up at 4:30am just to curl my hair. Even my mother would wake up to help me. And I planned my outfits before I went to sleep.

One time, I dressed in an outfit and went to school. There was a sign on the doors: “too cold, go home.” So I went home, took the clothes off, and put them on the next day. Again, there was a sign… so of course I wore the outfit for a third day! Because that makes sense.

I was never insecure, not really. I would try too hard and I worried too much about looking my best, but I didn’t dislike myself. I can understand why so many girls did though. Growing up was (and is) brutal. You’re changing, you’re figuring out yourself, and you’re trying to navigate through the world while others put you down, challenge you, and make you believe you’re not good enough. It’s ridiculous and it needs to stop.

As Colbie Caillat puts it, “you don’t have to try so hard, you don’t have to give it all away, you just have to get up, get up, get up, you don’t have to change a thing” (Try). 

If only girls could understand that. Beauty doesn’t come from a matching outfit, a bright pink headband, or shiny lipgloss. It comes from within. 

September 30, 2014
8 Tips on Dating a Triathlete

My boyfriend’s training for Ironman Cozumel, which is insane. I mean, really, who does that??

I hate running. I like biking, if it’s slow and scenic, and I’ll swim in open lakes and the shallow ends of an ocean when it’s warm enough, but I have no desire to ever train for a triathlon. And yet, I’ve found a guy who loves triathlons. On race mornings, you’d think it was Christmas day – his eyes light up, he talks really fast, and bounces around like a kid on a sugar-high. As I said, he loves it.

For those of you who don’t know what an ironman actually entails (because really, who do you know that would actually ever do one? Nobody ever!)… it’s a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a marathon 26.2-mile run. See, insane. But if you happen to be dating this somewhat-crazy competitive man or woman who can’t help but enjoy wearing wetsuits, eating liquid gels, and biking up mountains and swimming in open-waters, then here’s what you need to do:

1. Find your own hobby. 

Training takes up a lot of time. I mean, a LOT of time. Imagine he/she is a workaholic – he/she will stay out late and wake up at insanely early hours. Find your own hobby. Mine’s reading, writing, dancing on occasions, and taking way-too-expensive fitness classes. At least I stay busy. Plus, I enjoy my alone time, so that helps immensely.

2. Get acquainted with the jargon. 

I’m learning words I didn’t even know existed (and I was in English major). Suddenly, you’ll hear words like “aero bars,”  “century,” and “brick.” If you don’t know these words, you’re not alone and you’re not an idiot. But when you date somebody who uses them constantly, figure out what they mean or simply ask.

3. Be patient.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend will have a strict schedule during training, which means Saturdays may be consumed with 100 mile bike rides (a “century”) and drinking might mean sipping on redbull versus wine. If you follow #1, then this shouldn’t bother you as much, but I know, it’s a lot. Be patient with him/her and understand that in order to survive something like an ironman, he/she needs to train for it – and you want to see your boyfriend or girlfriend survive this, don’t you?

4. Pay attention.

Make sure he/she is eating enough to balance the cardio. Make sure he/she is eating the right foods. I’m lucky, because my boyfriend cooks his own food, but some might need a little direction. Be in the know. Also, make sure he/she is stretching and taking care of his/her body.

5. Follow a schedule.

This takes two. In order to make time for one another, you’re significant other must schedule you into their week of training, otherwise it will be very difficult to see each other. If you’re smart, you’ll make plans a week in advance. But make sure you both follow the schedule. Life will be easier if you do. And I realize this takes away from the spontaneity of dating, but you’d rather see each other than not see each other, right?  

6. Be supportive.

This sounds easier than it is, but being supportive means showing up to the triathlons (even at the crack of dawn on a Saturday or Sunday morning), holding his/her muddy shoes, and spending many nights in, because of recovery or preparation. Don’t discourage him/her, even if you think it’s crazy. It’s like telling your kid he can’t paint, even though he loves it. Give him some paint brushes, some paint and let him do his thing.

7. You don’t have to love it.

If you take an interest in triathlons after seeing them, great. If you don’t like them, that’s ok too! Having different interests is a good thing, so long as you’re willing to show up, be supportive, and recognize that even if it’s not your thing, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the efforts. Once you and your significant other accept this, you’ll be better off.

8. Compliment and celebrate him/her.

I know I will never ever do an ironman, for many, many reasons, so I can’t really wrap my head around the idea of swimming, biking, and running for 14 hours straight. It doesn’t logically make sense to me, but whatever, some people like it. It’s important that you motivate your boyfriend and girlfriend - and celebrate the challenges that he/she has overcome, because it’s anything but easy and very few of us will ever do it. Let him/her know that you’re proud. 

And one last thought: The world of triathlons, cycling, open-water swimming, and competitive racing, etc. is a very strange world if you’ve never been a part of it. You’ll probably feel out-of-place, confused, and bored at-times, but that’s okay. You may never really understand it, but you will get used to it. And if you follow all of the tips above then your boyfriend or girlfriend should recognize and appreciate you for that.

I’m lucky. My boyfriend schedules me into his week, wakes up super early to get a workout in, and makes time for other things (like friends, family, events) - and he cooks for me! It’s not easy dating a triathlete but it’s not easy being one either. Put in the effort and if you’re with the right person, it will be worth it!

Now… only two more months until my boyfriend’s Ironman! Let the countdown begin ;)

September 29, 2014
Rejection

I don’t mind rejection. When you’re rejected, you’re noticed. You’re dismissed, sure, but at least you’re noticed. I’ve been rejected by employers, by schools, by guys, etc.

 We all get rejected at some point in our lives.

  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and started a failed business, but eventually created Microsoft.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He then started a number of businesses that ended in bankruptcy. I think we all know what happened to him.
  • Socrates, in his own time was called “an immoral corrupter of youth,” and was sentenced to death because of his philosophies.
  • Teachers told Thomas Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything,” and made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from a job as a television reporter was she was “unfit for TV.” I bet they regret that decision.
  • In Fred Astaire’s first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” He sure proved them wrong.
  • The first book by Steven King, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife made him finish and re-submit. Look where that led him.
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times.

What’s my point? Rejection is healthy. It motivates us to try again. It pushes us to keep going, to re-evaluate our lives, and to work harder.

This is why I don’t mind rejection…

Being ignored is a whole different can of worms. I’d rather somebody criticize my writing, dismiss me from an interview, and tell me, “not interested” in whatever it is I’m selling than ignore me.

As I’ve started on my job hunt, I’ve learned a few things. One of the most significant: rejection will happen, but people will also ignore you. You’ll think they never got your application. You’ll think they “forgot” to call you back after the interview, but actually, they moved on and they didn’t bother to tell you.

Don’t let that keep you down or you’ll never make it out there. Persevere. You are qualified, you are a great candidate, and you will find the right job, you just have to patient, tenacious, and willing to look like an idiot if it means getting noticed.