A personal initiative to live more appreciatively

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#69: The First Day of a Training Plan

Today I registered for my 5th half-marathon. Nothing keeps me running more regularly than getting ready for a race, so I am thankful that my training has begun. Since I am actually setting a time goal for this half (to finish in under 2 hours) I will be training harder and more purposefully than ever before. I look forward to getting back into the routine of weekend long runs and the novelty of hitting the track for speed workouts. If all goes well, in 14 weeks I'll be thankful for accomplishing my goal and finally be able to say I can run a half marathon in 1:59:59. Or better!

Monday, January 30, 2012

#68: Runner's World

In my mailbox today was the newest issue of Runner's World. This might be an odd declaration for a 27 year old, but Runner's World is my first magazine subscription. Kegan ordered it for me two years ago for Christmas. Before then I never fully estimated the amount of joy in getting a fresh, new magazine in the mail every month. It's always a boost to my running motivation, and as stated in an earlier post, I appreciate fun mail. A magazine subscription is a little pleasure, but I definitely recommend it. The cost is super reasonable, especially if you're someone who impulsively buys a magazine three times a year...since that's more or less equivalent to the yearly subscription fee. And it's something to be thankful for, hand delivered to your home, every month.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

#67: Donald Duck

Bought this at the mall for Kegan today. Of all Disney characters he appreciates Donald Duck the most, and we joke that it's probably because they have a lot in common. I'm thankful that Kegan has become a partner in my love of all-things-Disney, and that he was just as happy to get this Donald as I was to give it to him.

Donald, not to be confused with the Big D

Saturday, January 28, 2012

#66: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I'm thankful for novels like Extremeley Loud & Incredibly Close, novels that are deeply personal and resoundingly universal.
I'm thankful for authors like Jonathan Safran Foer, who find the words that always seem lost.
I'm thankful this book found its way to me this week, of all weeks.

"I thought about all the things that everyone ever says to each other, and how everyone is going to die, whether it's in a millisecond, or days, or months, or 76.5 years, if you were just born. Everything that's born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they're all on fire, and we're all trapped...And how can you say I love you to someone you love?...Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you...It's always necessary." - Foer

#65: Early Bedtime

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday because I fell asleep before I was able! As often happens on Fridays I passed out on my couch around 9 p.m. With this early bedtime I clocked 12 hours of sleep. It's one of my favorite aspects of Fridays; I don't fight to stay up to salvage some free time like the other weeknights, since I know the weekend days lie ahead. This, combined with the exhaustion of the workweek, usually results in an early bedtime. A few weeks ago I reflected on my appreciation of late nights, but the flip side of that is appreciating the nights when you're asleep earlier than most people your age have even started their Friday nights. Sometimes that's the best kind of night to have.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

#64: Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives is a documentary I watched today about the effects of a plant-based, whole foods diet on one's health.  I'm thankful for this film, as it furthers my personal mission to improve my health.

I am blessed with what must be an amazing metabolism. I say that because I am a pretty thin person, especially in light of my diet. Most people are surprised to hear that I am concerned about my diet simply because I am thin. Actually just yesterday one of my colleagues was surprised to hear me say that I don't eat well. "You don't look it," she said. My common retort, in my twisted humor, is always, "My insides are probably black."

My diet has always been a struggle. I can say for sure that I have a sugar/carb addiction, and am lazy when it comes to food preparation, both of which outweigh my personal desire to eat better. Thankfully Kegan came along; he eats very well, and throughout my relationship I've improved my diet. But there is still so much to do. 

One mindset I have that is particularly disturbing to me is that I assume I will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in my life. I am not a hypochondriac to any degree; it just feels inevitable...because it feels like everyone faces that diagnosis in their life at some point. One of the main arguments of the documentary, and one I've heard and read about from multiple sources, is the correlation between diet and cancer rates. I'm grateful that this documentary emphasized this, as it reminds me that I don't have to be a victim of "inevitability" if I make an effort to live a lifestyle that is cancer preventative. And even if I  were still to face cancer in my lifetime, I know I'd be in a much better position to battle it if my diet were healthier.

That's a future benefit of an improved diet, but there are so many areas of my immediate health that I know would improve if I can conquer my nutritional deficiencies. I regularly feel sluggish, have a routine afternoon crash, and am beginning to notice I don't sleep as well as I used to. Plus there's that internal nagging that my insides very likely are black-- at least in a metaphoric sense. I know if I eat better all of these issues will be resolved, and I should do this while I am young.

The most influential part of the film was an interview with Ruth Heidrich, a marathoner who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s. She changed to a plant-based whole foods diet immediately following her diagnosis, and she credits that as a major factor to her recovery. She even trained for and completed an Ironman while in treatment! Now in her 70s, Ruth continues to run marathons and complete Ironmans. This is exactly the kind of woman I want to be. I always say I want to be an elderly woman still running marathons, and I will now think of Ruth often, as I continue to be a runner and work on my diet, the other neccessary component for my health.

Nutritional books and documentaries have a real effect on me. Fast Food Nation seriously impacted my once regular eating of fast food, which I do very rarely now. Fast Food, Inc influenced me to more or less give up red meat (although Chipolte Barbacoa tacos still have a hold on me). My hope is that Forks Over Knives will be the movie I point to that encouraged me to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#63: Stephen Colbert

On a day when I was in need of a good laugh, I'm thankful for Stephen Colbert. Totally hilarious.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#62: "All Will Be Well"

A good winter song, and a good sentiment to remember regularly.

" All Will Be Well"

Monday, January 23, 2012

#61: Mac N' Cheese

Thank you, mac n' cheese, for all of your cheesy wonderfulness. The best remedy for a cold, foggy, rainy Monday in January.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#60: A Weekend, Read Away

Most Fridays I have a vision of me spending the weekend reading. It rarely comes to fruition, but there is something so calming about just the thought of two days lost in books that I still fantasize about it before every weekend begins.

This weekend I actually did it. Hour after hour I just read, and it was pure bliss. I realize weekends like this are few and far between, and another one may not be spent this way for a long time. But I'll still imagine that every weekend can be this way, and I'll be thankful for the ones that are.

(I should also add my thankfulness for a husband who doesn't mind having a bookish wife. Kegan dutifully  did most of the errands this weekend, and didn't mind when I barely murmured responses to his questions and comments. I do love reading, but I love Kegan more).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

#59: Catnaps

My appreciation for catnaps today is two-fold. First is the one I myself took. The streets are covered in only a tiny amount of snow, especially when you consider the amount we had in 2011. Nevertheless, Kegan and I used it as an excuse to have a lazy day at home, and it allowed me to take a guilt-free, short nap in the middle of the afternoon.

And since I've been having a lazy day, I've literally played a part of a real catnap, as Noel's slept on my legs most of the day. Sweet and cozy, especially on a snowy Saturday.


Friday, January 20, 2012

#58: Happy Hour

Happy Hour is something to be thankful for, whether it's with my coworkers or other friends. I love everything about happy hour: it's nice to decompress at the end of the work week, transitions me well into the weekend, and I usually eat nachos. Plus, I love the power of connotation. Even just attending "Happy" Hour puts me in a better mood.

I am also thankful for today's happy hour, specifically, with my friend Erinn. Honestly, she might be my favorite person to have happy hour with, besides just being one of my favorite people in general.  We talked reading, writing, running, and libraries-- solid conversation that I know I can't have with just anyone.

Plus, we ate nachos.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

#57: Stephen King

I'm currently reading King's latest novel, 11/22/63, and am reminded of how much I admire him as an author. His books are always so engaging, so easy to get lost in. I had the type of morning where I didn't want to get out of bed and go anywhere...just wanted to stay and read the day away. As an aspiring writer myself, I admire King's ability to craft an involved, sensational plot with eerily realistic characters, despite their unrealistic circumstances, and make a page-turner intellectually stimulating.

A few of my students have been reading a ton of Stephen King this year, and their interest in reading in general has soared ever since, so I am grateful for that, as well. One student who's always been a bit withdrawn and distant has been coming up to my desk before class starts everyday this week to talk about the novel he's reading. It's nice to have made a connection with him over an author we both like. I love when kids find the book that makes them a reader, and for this particular student it's King's work that has done that.

He also wrote "The Body", which the movie Stand By Me is based on. That is one of my all time favorite movies. In 8th grade I watched it almost every week for a number of months, and it's one of the few films I never tire of. I will never tire of King's work, in general, and appreciate it for its prolific and masterful nature, murderous clowns and all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

#56: My Mall

While "retail therapy" is not a form of stress release for me, my mall is a weekday refuge for me. Likely that is because I get to visit my favorite means of escapism, Disney World and reading, by stopping at the Disney Store and a book store. Also, there's something peaceful about a stroll around the mall on a weeknight: it's quiet and there's nothing demanded of me, the antithesis of my daytime hours at school! Of course I know there is likely nothing less significant in my life for me to be thankful for than my mall. But the whole point of this project is to acknowledge 365 aspects of my life for which I am appreciative, from the grand, philosophic and substantive to those that are anything but. Of course, on a fundamental level, I know I have much more to be thankful for everyday. But today, and many days, I am also thankful for the simple luxuries of my life: such as today's relaxing stroll around the mall.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#55: Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes, the best remedy for the end of a long day is a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Wait, what am I saying? Sometimes? I mean all the time.

Edible Thankfulness

Monday, January 16, 2012

#54: MLK

In honor of today's observance, I am thankful for the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is easy to look at our country right now and see it fraught with tribulation. A recession that seems unending, a political environment so entrenched in division its becoming ineffective, a broken education system, millions unemployed...I may be affected by my lack of perspective due to relative youth, but these are hard times for America.

And yet, today, when one thinks of MLK, it is hard to not see how far we've come as a nation, how much hope there is that better days are ahead. If we could rise out of our oppressive past, if we could rally behind optimism and the intrinsic believe that right will prevail, we can prosper and prevail again.

There is so much more to be waged in the fight for equality, even here in America. Our forefathers founded our nation under the belief that "all men are created equal", and the efforts of MLK to make that not a philosophical belief but a living reality continues today. I personally believe, deeply, that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender identification, sexual orientation, or ability are created equal and should be treated as such. I'm thankful that MLK made such a mark on our history, honor him for giving his life for the cause, and am optimistic that we will see a better tomorrow because of his legacy.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Martin Luther King, Jr

Sunday, January 15, 2012

#53: Three Day Weekends

To me, the ideal weekend includes the following: a run (ideally long), time with friends and family, the completion of some errands, progress on some long-term project I never seem to get to work on during the weekend and, of course, lots of vegging on the couch with movies, tv and a good book.  In the typical weekend it is rare for all of these to be accomplished. Maybe that's why it always feels like Monday comes too soon, and while I often have good weekends, on Sunday nights I rarely feel like I got as much out of the weekend as I had wanted.

Therein lies the beauty of a three day weekend. Heading into a Monday off, I am well on my way to having accomplished all that makes the ideal weekend, and am thankful for these little three-day stretches of time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

#52: My Father-In-Law

My in-laws and I spent time together for my father-in-law's birthday. It made me think about how much I love birthdays...how wonderful it is to take the time to celebrate the lives of friends and family members. In that vein, today I am thankful for my father-in-law.

One aspect of my father-in-law's personality that I love is that he is a huge fan of horror movies; as someone who appreciates everything Halloween, this has always been a commonality between us. When he came once to my brother's annual Halloweek-- a week long build-up to Halloween during which we watch a scary movie every night-- Dennis said to me, "You are so lucky to have this man as a father-in-law." I couldn't agree more-- and not just because he can talk macabre with the best of them-- but for so many other reasons.

I have vivid memories of the early weeks of my relationship with Kegan, and both of his parents were very welcoming of me into their home, and ultimately into their family. I've always found it very cool that Kegan's dad and I are a lot alike. I don't know if many daughter-in-laws can say that about their father-in-law. Or that their father-in-law is a HUGE fan of Lady Gaga.

About a week before Thanksgiving, before I started this blog, we had an attempted break in at our home. We were very lucky that it was only an attempt-- the would-be-robber never actually made it into the house (luck we like to attribute to our cats, defending their territory). The next day my father-in-law drove all the way out here, on his anniversary, to help Kegan reinforce locks on our windows. That day Kegan and I were counting our blessings, and his father was at the top of that list. At Christmas he researched and ordered me a digital camera, a gift that was actually from Kegan, because he's an expert at all things technological. While I was thankful to Kegan for the gift, it felt like it was from him, too, because he took the time to make sure that I received the best camera. These are just two recent selfless acts of his; there are 8 years worth of them. He is kind and generous, fiercely loyal, and has a huge heart. I really loved watching him with my nephew, Matthew, today. He's such a sweet grandfather, and I can't wait to have my own children and watch them build their own relationships with him.

Aside from all of his wonderful traits and the fact that he's such a great father-in-law, I am also thankful for the father that he is to Kegan. Like any son, Kegan's relied countless times on his dad for encouragement and advice, both of which are abundantly given to him. Kegan's often shared with me how grateful he is for how hard his dad always worked. My husband easily has the strongest work ethic of anyone I have ever known, and I think that comes directly from growing up with such a  hard-working dad. Actually, that may be what I am most grateful for about my father-in-law. Beyond having the strongest work ethic of anyone I have ever known, Kegan is simply a great man. And I truly believe a man models himself after his father. Kegan's father made him the man he is today, the man who is an amazing husband and will someday be an amazing father himself. I am forever indebted to my father-in-law for this. I celebrated him at his birthday party today; I will celebrate him, always.

Andy Brown and me, taken moments after getting down to "Poker Face"

Friday, January 13, 2012

#51: Friday Fun Lunch

Last year my colleagues and I started a tradition of going out to lunch together on Fridays, and (as best we could) refraining from talking about work. We would instead talk about our personal lives, which so often plays second-fiddle to teaching. It was always a nice release and bonding time. Unfortunately our schedule changed this year, and we lost the ability to leave the building during the day. But last week we resurrected Friday Fun Lunch by ordering in, and today we did it again. I work with truly wonderful people, who are unbelievably supportive colleagues. I am thankful for Friday Fun Lunch, and the ability to take the time to be reminded that they are also great friends.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

#50: Voicemail From My Niece

Today my four year old niece, Erin, called and left me a voicemail. I love getting these from my nieces and nephews-- it always strikes me when I hear their voices how young they are and how much I appreciate their youth. I save them for as long as my phone will allow me to, and often replay them when I need a boost. I'm appreciative that Erin called me; her message about orange juice made me happy today and will in the future, too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#49: Fountain Cokes

Similar to my earlier post about grilled cheese, I am slightly amazed that it took me 49 posts to write about the wonderfulness that is a fountain coke. If I am addicted to anything, it's soda...more specifically a fountain soda. There's just something better about fountain cokes than one you drink out of a can or a 2-liter. Maybe it's the carbonation, maybe it's the syrup/water ratio...who knows! All I know is it's one of my favorite little pleasures in life. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to say, but my day gets a little better once I've had a fountain coke. Sometimes I wish I could go to a 50s style Soda Fountain to sit at the bar and drink coke after coke. Absurd? Sure. Do they make me happy? Totally. I know there are many more significant aspects of my life for which I am thankful, some of which have been written about already, and many more that are left to be reflected on. But I also believe in the importance of being grateful for small pleasures, and a cold, refreshing fountain coke is one of my favorite small pleasures.

Thanks also to my sister, Liz, who supplied me with the soda!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#48: DVR

Sometimes I seriously question how I lived before DVR.

And...that's all for today. Back to convenient, efficient, displaced tv viewing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

#47: The SanFilippo Family

Tonight my good friend Kristin, her husband Tom and son Tommy came over for dinner. It was so nice to see and spend time with them, and who I am thankful for today.

Kristin and I became friends when we both spent two summers during college working at a reading clinic for children and teenagers with severe learning disabilities. It was a pretty intense summer job-- mentally and emotionally draining, long hours, in depth programming-- but also a very rewarding job. Easily the most rewarding aspect of it, for me, was befriending Kristin along the way. She and I bonded over our lunch hours at a local bagel place, talking about the job or our personal lives. Kristin has always had the ability, then and now, to make me crack up. I love her for her amazing sense of humor, her firecracker spirit, her toughness, her huge heart, and her intelligence. We became friends rather quickly-- which is maybe apt to happen when you work 40 hour weeks with someone for the first time. But I think we became friends quickly because we were always meant to be friends. We relate on a lot of levels, and I think Kristin "gets me"(sorry for the cliche) in a way that people I've known my whole life don't. Just tonight she told me she thought I would like the Kinect because you can row a canoe in the air to collect coins. It's a random, weird connection to make, and yet, dead on. You know you are good friends with someone when they know nuances about your personality, and appreciate you for them, We are ourselves unabashedly around each other, we always have been, and it's a friendship I value deeply.

Kristin has been with Tom ever since I met her, so I've known him through her for as long as we've been friends. They have a relationship that I really admire.  I teared up when she walked down the aisle at her wedding last May, because I knew she was marrying her best friend, and I was so happy that they were getting the fairy tale wedding they, as a couple, so rightly deserved. Tom is down-to-earth, hilarious, genuine, a great husband and dad. They are one of those couples I know Kegan and I will be friends with our whole lives.

I still remember the day Kristin told me she was pregnant, and I was so happy for her. She is my first friend to have a baby, and while I've been around babies my whole life since becoming an aunt at 10 years old, there's something different about the babies of your friends. I haven't quite put my finger on what it is yet, but it's cool. Tommy is absolutely adorable, and I loved crawling around and playing with him. He was kind enough to be patient with us keeping him up later than usual, but learning how to blow bubbles in a water glass might have helped the situation. Besides loving Tommy for the beautiful baby that he is, it is so wonderful to watch Kristin as a mom. She's a great one, although I always knew she would be. Even when she was cheap with the stones.

All three members of the SanFilippo family are amazing people, and very important to me. I'm thankful that they came down late on a Monday to hang out with us and for their friendship, and especially for Kristin, who still knows my bagel-lunch order by heart, god love her.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

#46: My First Marathon

Today was the Disney World Marathon, which I ran last year. Tomorrow, technically, then, is my marathoniversary! All weekend I've been thinking a lot about my first marathon.

The road-to-the-marathon began in 2009, when I started running regularly again. Running was a major part of my high school years when I was on both the track and cross country teams. During college it trailed off, and in my first few years of teaching it was non-existent. As I reflected on the struggles in my life back in 2008-- my feelings of slugishness, unmanaged anxiety and high stress-- I realized a return to running would alleviate and combat all of that negativity. But knowing I am not the type of person who would run just to run, I told myself I would one day run a marathon. I remember talking to James, my then co-worker and a personal running inspiration, that I thought it would take me two years to build up to running a marathon, and that came to fruition. Along the way, I became a healthier, happier, better person.

It was admist my training for my 2nd half-marathon that I decided to officially register for the full. I can remember the day vividly: Kegan and I were running 10 miles along the Spring Lake boardwalk, one of my favorite places to run. It was a picture perfect running day: the sun was shining, the breeze off of the ocean was cool, and I felt lighter with each step. I knew, then and there, that if 10 miles could feel easy, I was ready to run a full. That night I registered for the marathon. While I intended to train and run the race on my own, Kegan followed signed up a few weeks later, as did my good friend and colleague Kyle. All of a sudden it was a group effort, and I was so grateful for it. In fact, when I had to compete my longest training run of 22 miles, a group of 6 of us went out to do it, in the middle of December. Not many people can say they had companionship in training, and I am so lucky that I did.

Training itself is an amazing experience. The commitment to running regularly brings a rhythm to your weeks. I would go to bed feeling achy and exhausted, but accomplished. Three days during the week Kyle and I headed out after school, and it was a great outlet during what was a stressful school year. We strengthened our friendship over those months, and when it was all over I missed having that time with him regularly. He kept me honest; days that I probably would've found an excuse not to run I couldn't just skip it, because he was running, too. We were both running the marathon for our own reasons, but it was so wonderful to share training with him. Kegan and I ran together on the weekends for our long run. Sometimes couples say that they can't run together, but we are compatible running partners. Since Kegan works such long hours, our Saturday long run was a time that we knew we would have together. We loved setting new distance records, laughing together when hysteria set in during later miles, encouraging one another when we struggled. I know that I have a great marriage, and our Saturday long runs together was a weekly reminder of that blessing.

When the 18 weeks of training ended and race day arrived, I could not believe how fast two years had gone by. The marathon was the culmination of what I had been working towards for so long, and I truly ran it as a celebration, a personal triumph. I chose Disney World because there is nowhere like it in the world to run. The tagline for their races is that "every mile is magic". Literally that's true-- from the setting to entertainment to the level of joy and kindness from the volunteers and race organizers. But I think that's just a statement true for a marathon. I wanted to run my first marathon in a place that epitomized magic. A person needs to dig very deep to keep going mile after mile. But I did it all with a smile, because I knew the experience was transcendent. In the most recent issue of Runner's World, something Marc Parent wrote struck me as true for me and my marathon experience: "The run itself, though, had suddenly become indescribable. It wasn't easy, but it was not hard, either. I didn't know until that moment that there was a hidden gear between hard and easy. I tried to figure out what it felt like, but it was unlike anything else in life I could think of...The moment a run becomes indescribable is the moment it becomes private-- not secret, just impossible to share...Distance is one of the only things in life you truly earn."

Running is one of the most important aspects of my life, and training for and running my first marathon was easily one of the most important experiences of my life. I plan to run marathons again-- I want to run one that I have to train for alone, I want to run one as a mother, I want to run in Disney again. Still, I know that there will never be anything like my first marathon, and for it, I am eternally grateful.

I extoll the virtues of running to everyone I know. My friends and family have heard it countless times, and through this blog they hear it again. If you're a reader who doesn't know me personally, I encourage you to give it a try. It might change your life, as it changed mine. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is an amazing book-- not just about running, but about the human experience itself. A passage from that novel has become one of my favorite ruminations about running and life, so I close this post with it:

‎"There was some kind of connection between the ability to love and the ability to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you've got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding. We wouldn't be alive without love; we wouldn't have survived without running. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other."

#45: Late Nights

Yesterday I didn't get an opportunity to post, ironically for the reason I am posting this morning. Last night I was out late- which is an anomoly for me. I actually didn't even leave to go out until 9:30-- which is often the time of night that I'm headed to bed! When I was younger, and functioned with an adolescent circadian clock, I always loved the late night hours. The combination of my homebody nature, training programs, apparent need to sleep at least 8 hours to function and adult responsibilities have squelched my inner night owl. But last night I fought off my instincts to clock in another early day.  After a family function I drove up north to meet up with my friends, who were out celebrating Brianna's birthday. I'm thankful for the late nights of my life, as they are a rareity, and the reminder from last night: that sometimes revitilization can come from a night out just as much as a night in.

Friday, January 6, 2012

#44: Fridays

There is little as satisfying as a Friday. It's a win-win day. Work makes me feel productive, but then I also have the anticipation of and comfort in knowing the weekend has arrived and it's time to relax.

I learned quickly after becoming a teacher that Friday night is no longer the Friday night of my youth. I often find myself exhausted once I "let go" at the end of the day, finally able to dial down after the work week.  Kegan and I discovered last year during marathon training the wonderfulness that is a quiet Friday night. We usually get dinner together- take out, or I cook so we don't have to go anywhere- and then we bunker in. We'll watch a movie, play a game, and I am often asleep early...sometimes earlier than any other night of the week! And I love it!

This particular Friday night is much appreciated after my first week back since winter break. The plan is sushi, scrabble or Invictus, and the beginning of weekend unwinding.  I'm thankful for this particular Friday, and all 52 of the year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

#43: Warmth

These past few days have been cold; winter has officially come to New Jersey! Today I am thankful for everything that kept me warm & cozy today: blankets, wool sweaters, scarves, gloves, uggs, sweatshirts, chili, warm home and car...and a cat at my feet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#42: Allison

Allison and I grew up together, but didn't become friends until our junior year of high school. We had a number of classes together, and over the course of that year evolved from being just classmates. I have a vivid memory of us sitting in the back of our physics class, spending the entire block playing rock-paper-scissors against each other across the room. We literally did this on a daily basis, and at some point I remember looking across the room at her and laughing in the middle of a game, thinking, "Why the hell did it take so long for her and I to find each other?" Up until that year Allison had just been another peer-- someone who I passed in the hallway and only spent time with during 5th grade when we were on the same little league softball team (I should correct that...undefeated little league softball team. First time in our town's history. Allison and I have the shirts to prove it). But thankfully for us we ended up with nearly identical junior year class schedules, and thus ended up becoming best friends.

During the second half of my high school career I drifted away from most of the girlfriends I'd had since middle school. That drift was caused mostly by a combination of starting to date someone seriously for the first time, a boy who went to a different school and thus took up a lot of my free time, and the natural effect of adolescence: growing up and growing apart. Allison and I became friends during that drift, and she quickly became my "go-to" person. In a short amount of time we became very close, and have remained so to this day.

I am unbelievably thankful for Allison and the 11 year friendship we've had. She has always encouraged me and pushed me in every aspect of my life. In some ways we are very different, in some ways we are very similar, and she's always respected and valued both our differences and similarities. I am always drawn to people who tease out the rebellious side of me, and Allison is one of the people who does that the best, starting back when she convinced me to cut Physics class, telling our teacher we had to go to a "Physics Club Meeting" (clearly neither of us were destined to excel in the sciences). She is always willing to lend an attentive ear, gives amazing, insightful advice, and is heartfelt in every action and conversation you have with her.

Today I was lucky enough to spend time with Allison. As the years have passed we've seen less of each other-- a product of lifestyle, schedules and her "nomadic" tendencies-- but that has never impacted our closeness or been an issue of contention. We just make sure to fully appreciate the times we have together. Today we met for coffee, she in town briefly during her winter break of business school. We talked about our professional paths, politics, our usual philosophical discussion and laughed about the ridiculousness of our youth. My sophisticated, intelligent, hilarious best friend who commands any room she's in casually drank her coffee, telling me of her impending west coast trip, and all of a sudden I saw her as an 11th grader, always throwing rock when I threw scissors, and thought again how thankful I am that we found each other.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

#41: "#41"

I should've thought ahead yesterday before writing about "The Cave" so that I didn't write about music two days in a row...but it feels wrong to reflect on anything today, my 41st post, besides #41.

#41 is a song by the Dave Matthews Band. I still remember hearing it for the first time, back during my freshman year of high school. I had this album, Crash on cassette (seriously) and would sit and rewind the song to listen to it repeatedly.  Thirteen years later it remains my favorite song by DMB and in general. I quoted it in my yearbook senior year (because if anything defines you as a teenager it's your senior year yearbook quote) and even had it played at my wedding, despite the fact that you can't possibly dance to it. When I went to my first Dave Matthews concert during the summer of 2000 it was the first song they played, and that will always rank in my life as a moment of perfection, kismet.

I think everyone has a song that they claim as "their song". For me that's #41, and for it I am thankful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

#40: "The Cave"

This came up on my ipod during yesterday's run. It's the perfect song to run to, and being New Year's it is also apropos.

Besides, who doesn't appreciate a song that features banjo?

"The Cave"

Sunday, January 1, 2012

#39: New Year's Day

Much like my love of Thanksgiving, I appreciate New Year's Day for what it represents. I'm a very goal-oriented person, so I love the idea that January 1st inspires so many people to set goals for themselves. I loved seeing so many people out for a run or a walk today, and wondered if it was the beginning of an exercise regime. My bravest of facebook friends and family members were posting their resolutions as their statuses throughout the day. It takes courage to publicly declare a goal, but they are also more likely to be successful, as that is one of the major steps towards achievement. Kegan and I have been talking a lot lately about his resolution to lose a few pounds. I'm thankful that New Year's Day inspires so many people to formulate plans to achieve their goals.

Anyone in the self-help field decries the belief that you have to wait until the beginning of a year, month or week to start working towards a goal. They often say it's a delay tactic-- that you should start to diet or exercise, should stop hoarding or eating chalk (have you SEEN "My Strange Addiction"?!) as soon as you recognize that it's a need. It doesn't matter if it's a Tuesday or the middle of the week--- just make a plan and start living it. Don't wait. I agree with this. But I can't help but see the energizing nature of a Monday, or the 1st of the month, or New Year's Day-- the ultimate beginning-- to jump start goal achievement.

Despite how much I love the idea of resolutions, I don't actually have one for myself this year. I have so many goals it's hard to settle on just one. Instead, I'm taking a note from 168 Hours, the book I read last year regarding time management. In it the author, Laura Vanderkam, posits that people don't spend their time well because they don't know what to spend their time on. To rectify this she suggests people make a list of 100 dreams for their life. Anything can go on that list- from personal and professional goals, to places you want to travel to, books you want to read, experiences you want to have, foods you want to try, hobbies you want to take on-- and you can go beyond 100. Vanderkam pushes you to brainstorm a high number so that you do not limit yourself. Once you've written a list, start using your time to work towards achieving these goals, and build a life that reflects your ideal. I made a list this past summer, and will spend this year, and all my years, realizing these dreams and adding additions.

A happy and healthy 2012 to all!