Umm…where have I been?

While neglecting this digital space, I:

  • Finished grad school
  • Visited Italy, India, and Canada
  • Traveled all over the US, ranging from Seattle to Washington D.C.
  • Solidified bonds between new friends and long-time friends
  • Found out my grandma has cancer
  • Ran a marathon (but SERIOUSLY when will I break that 4-hour mark?!)
  • Got a promotion
  • Cut back on marriage counseling (because we’re in a much better place)
  • Had a few dozen emotional breakdowns
  • Deleted Instagram
  • Started a podcast
  • Met a baby that made me consider having a baby
  • Almost finished Gilmore Girls and made a pretty good dent in The Office
  • Turned 30
  • Relearned how nice it can be to spend time in the real world, not online

I want to share so many stories on this space. I want to show you some of the things I’ve seen. I want to bring you into the emotions I’ve felt. Sharing the bad, tough moments alongside the good things is important to me; I’d want to show you the raw realities of life instead of some pretty lies.

But honestly? The thought of writing it all out overwhelms me because blogging can stress me out. So I haven’t blogged. It’s like, why stress myself out over something that’s supposed to be enjoyable?

On that same note, Instagram stressed me out. It stressed me out the way that Facebook used to stress me out. I’m over Facebook now but IG is a wholly different drug. It was an ideal platform to easily document my life while also keeping tabs on people I care about. (I jumped back on Instagram recently to promote my podcast and discovered three sorta-distant friends who got married, two people who had babies, one couple struggling with infertility, and like a billion trips that everyone took over the last eight months.) Oh, also, lots of great travel, food, and clothing inspiration. Not gonna lie about that.

The most important thing, though, was that I wanted to keep documenting my life. Practicing gratitude is something I’ve tried cultivating in my life and documentation helps me when memory and mindfulness fail. When times get hard, it helps me to see all the beautiful, good, wonderful things I have in my life by looking at pictures, watching videos, or interacting with friends via Instagram messaging.

Even so, Instagram was a major emotional and time suck for me. I felt addicted to it. Last September, I decided to quit it for a month and see what happened. Whatever happened must’ve been good because I didn’t log back on until May—over nine months later.

While in my off-IG phrase, a good friend told me about this app called “1 Second Everyday.” It captures 1-second clips each day and mashes them into a single video. (You can add two 1-second clips each day if you can’t decide on just one). My friend managed to do it every day (since January 2018!) when she told me about it in October 2018.

I downloaded (*bought) the app and started my own 1SE video literally as she was talking to me about it. Since then, I’ve used the app every day: nearly 9 months! WOW.

So, while I’d love to write about a lot of the things I’ve experienced in the last few months, I feel like this video covers the highs and lows. When I’m having a tough day, I watch this video and remind myself of everything I’ve experienced: both the highs and the lows. These one-second clips take me back to some of my hardest places and some of my happiest places all at once.

I feel the same fear, elation, anxiety, and love watching this video that I did at the moment when I captured it. It’s helped me see life as a continuous story: bad days, negative thoughts, and tough moments are not traps and they will pass. The joys are infinite and the sorrows are passing phases that teach important lessons.

Ok, enough already. Here’s the video.

(Don’t worry, I’ll probably write some stuff here eventually. But for now, I’m out living my life.)

Photos from Paris: Food

The food. Oh, the food. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of my most distinct memories of Paris were focused on food:

Slathering fresh butter on warm, perfectly crusted bread in an ex-pat bar while the red wine buzz came in strong.

The thick smell of fresh pig fat bubbling over in boiling water to make ramen broth.

Creative and artful delicacies, subtly sweetened, beckoning on every corner—and hardly ever resisting the temptation.

Sharing a cappuccino with Sam at the Musée d’Orsay’s Café Campana, a fluttering rush of joy in my chest from seeing him for the first time in over a week.

Culinary masterpieces artfully arranged in display cases, impossibly bizarre and enticing.

Scarfing a defyingly tasty vegan burger in the spring sunshine en route to the Centre Pompidou.

Cradling a warm, chocolately crepe in my hands after a night boat tour on the Seine, huddled together against the cold with my DePaul classmates on our last evening together.

Unassuming street markets filled with raw meats, aged cheeses, piles of spices, and fresh vegetables, the air buzzing with the soft, romantic loll of French.

Suffice to say, these photos don’t need explanation: they speak for themselves.

DSC_0315Paris - angelina dessert at louvreParis - oranges at the market

Continue reading “Photos from Paris: Food”

Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park- Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon

Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of our westward road trip!

Adrenaline kept me upright for the first few hours the morning after listening to the bear (or whatever it was) battering away at a fellow camper’s food locker. I’ll still never know if it actually was a grizzly bear, but I couldn’t help but think about Paul’s warning that they had a grizzly that visited the campground.

As we inhaled our half-cooked hash browns and overcooked scrambled eggs at breakfast—they were warm and the air was a brisk 35 or 40 degrees—-we pondered our plan for the day. It was only a matter of time before my high-strung bear anxiety dissipated and I entered extreme sleep deprivation auto-pilot. If there’s one thing that I need, for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me, it’s at least six hours of sleep every night. I would be operating far under threshold today, and we were expecting a grueling day of hiking, exploring, and further altitude adjustment.

The thought lingering in the back of my mind was that I would need to do it all over again for at least two more nights. We were debating staying at our campsite two more nights for the eclipse, making it a total of 5 nights in Grand Teton instead of our planned three nights. There was a solid chance this could shape up to be one of the most miserable trips of my life if I had to stick out five nights sleeping in a tent with a grizzly visiting the campsite every night.

Grand Teton - Hiking to Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake

We packed up and headed towards the park. Our plan was to hike String Lake around to Jenny Lake and up towards Cascade Canyon. When we parked the car, applied our sunscreen, loaded our packs with food and water bottles, and were just about to hit the trail at 8:45 am, we noticed a vital element missing. The bear spray. Sam remembered seeing it in the tent since we kept it there last night as a precaution, and it must’ve still been there. After the events last night and all the warnings we’d heard, there was no way we were hiking without a can of bear spray.

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Hiking Near Jenny Lake and Cascade Canyon”

Maui: The South Rim Road to Hana and Pīpīwai Trail at Haleakalā National Park

SOUTH ROAD TO HANA

After taking in the view and monarch tree at Sun Yat-Sen Park, Sam and I continued our drive along the Pilani Highway towards Hana. The seascapes were immaculate as we ascended the south rim of Maui. We were one of the few cars driving the highway (and the only car going east, towards Hana, instead of away from Hana), but there were plenty of horses walking alongside the road. We let the ocean breeze blow through the windows as we tried taking in the scope of this place. This isolation and tropical paradise felt like a dream.

Driving the South Rim of the Road to Hana

We started coming back down from the rolling foothills of the volcano, easing closer to the shoreline. There was a scenic overlook on the edge of the road with an overlook, and we were shocked that no one else was stopped there. A fierce, gusting wind kept us back from the edge, reminding me that the spirit of this place is a living, powerful force still present today. I could have bathed in the colors of this scene for hours and never get sick of it.

Driving the South Rim Road to Hana - Ocean OverlookSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook PanoramicSouth Road to Hana - Ocean Overlook View

We continued eastward. Our goal was to reach the Haleakalā National Park on the south shoreline. It would be the fifth National Park we’d visit in 2016, and we wanted to add it to our list. The Park occupies a massive 33,000 acres on Maui, stretching from the summit of the dormant volcano on the inner part of the island all the way to the south coast.

From our hotel in Kihei, the drive to Halaeakalā’s Visitor Center near Kaupo was estimated to take two hours. There was one rule that kept appearing over and over again as we researched the Road to Hana: make sure you’re off the route before the sun sets. We left Kihei shortly after noon and the sunset was scheduled for 6 pm. Based on the open road and expansive vistas we’d seen from higher up the mountain, we were confident we’d have an hour or two to explore the park once we arrived.

Little did we know what we were in for as we cruised along towards Kaupo.
Continue reading “Maui: The South Rim Road to Hana and Pīpīwai Trail at Haleakalā National Park”

Grand Teton National Park: Signal Mountain and Camping Adventures

Grand Teton National Park- Signal Mountain Hike

Psst: looking for part one of this trip

We left Jackson with all our camping maps, making our way up to Moran Junction, far northeast of the popular Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. Per the US National Forest rangers, we drove east away from the park. A curvy road free from cars and filled greeted us with stunning views of the Blackrock Creek valley. Just when we were certain we took a wrong turn, we saw a sign indicating the Turpin Meadow campground was a mile ahead of us.

Turpin Meadow campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest near Grand Teton National Park

Instant relief overtook us when we saw a few open spots at this 18-site campground. We claimed a spot with plenty of shade, a fire pit (a huge relief: any fires outside pits were banned due to severe drought in the region), a sturdy picnic table, and a large bear locker for food. All smiles and joy, we unpacked everything and set up our beloved 2-person tent. The campsite was quiet enough to feel secluded from the masses in the National Park but there were enough people near us that we didn’t feel alone in the wilderness. This was a particularly important balance to me, as the presence of grizzlies made me feel queasy every time I thought about those big furry bears stalking around the woods. I tried to shake off my lingering bear anxiety and focus on how happy I was to have a campsite with other campers nearby.

Paul, the full-time campsite host at Turpin Meadow along with his wife Judy, greeted us and gave us the lowdown. He was frank about the presence of a grizzly in the area but said the bear never bothered anyone. Sam and I nodded, and I pretended to be ok with this information. We thanked Paul for the info and took off for our first hike in Grand Teton National Park.

Continue reading “Grand Teton National Park: Signal Mountain and Camping Adventures”

Day Trip to the Ocean State: 12 Hours in Rhode Island

Daytrip to Rhode Island - Adventures in the Ocean State-01

For Christmas this past year, my brother gave us a scratch-off map of the United States. The idea is to scratch off all the places we’ve visited together until we clear the entire US map. When we were planning our trip to Massachusetts for Ragnar, Sam pointed out the close proximity of Rhode Island—a state we haven’t visited as individuals or a couple, and also a state we probably wouldn’t plan to visit. I found some decently priced Amtrak tickets during our planning and we planned a day trip to Providence because we didn’t know what else to do.

Some of our Ragnar teammates were from Rhode Island. When they heard we were going to Providence, they shook their heads and told us to cancel those plans and head to Newport, RI instead. They gave us a lot of great pointers for things to do in Newport and really talked it up, so Sam and I shifted our plans. We couldn’t cancel the Amtrak tickets to Providence, but we could rent a car in Providence for the day and drive to Newport instead. Now that we actually had a plan for some things to do, we were excited!

Psst: want the quick synopsis? Check out this 3-minute video of our trip:

We woke up early on Tuesday morning and made our way to South Station to catch our train. In no time at all, we were walking out into a blue-skied day in Providence. The Rhode Island State House, located right outside the train station, drew us in and welcomed us to the smallest state in the USA. There wasn’t a soul around, so we walked right up the State House steps and took in the view. While it helped that it was a gorgeous day outside, we were already pretty psyched about being in Rhode Island (and I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought I’d say that).

DSC_0558DSC_0561DSC_0560

Continue reading “Day Trip to the Ocean State: 12 Hours in Rhode Island”

Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race

Ragnar Cape Cod - We Survived!

We did it! We shoved ourselves into a minivan with strangers (whom soon became friends), ran three times in less than 20 hours, and traversed the length of Cape Cod as RAGNARians. It was a whirlwind of an adventure, and one I hope to do again someday.

It’s hard to describe RAGNAR with words and photos. The entire aura of RAGNAR is unlike anything I’ve ever felt, whether at a race or at any other event. Our team—one of the 500 teams taking place in this epic logistics whirlwind—was split between two vans with six runners in each van, but we competed as a whole unit. While I strived to do my best as an individual runner, I was equally invested in cheering each of my van-mates at the start and finish of their runs. It’s a team event, but so much of my time was focused on preparing myself for my solo runs because I never knew exactly when I’d be running again. It’s more mental than physical, and that was a challenge for me.

Continue reading “Ragnar Cape Cod: A Long Recap of a Really, Really, Really Long Race”