Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Today's Gratitude

The last week has been extremely hectic and emotionally draining, so I have not managed to blog at all -- though I have been overflowing with gratitude for the time I got to spend with friends, the love shared and the blessing of having them in my life.

Two of my best friends, husband and wife, moved to California yesterday. As I write, they are currently driving somewhere in the Midwest along their route. I am heartbroken that they're gone, but I am overjoyed for this next phase of their lives and the adventures ahead of them. Mostly, this whole experience has taught me a lot about gratitude and appreciating what you have while you have it. I spent every single moment I possibly could with them over their last four days here, and I cherish every single one of those moments. I know we'll have many more through video chats, texts, phone calls and visits.

Three things I'm grateful for TODAY:

  1. That my dear friends who have become family to me are finally able to realize their dreams. Everything is falling perfectly into place for them, and it is nothing but the work of God.
  2. I am blessed to have met them, known them and shared so much with them. I am so glad we're so close and such a big part of each other's lives.
  3. That I have the resources and independence to be able to visit them in a few months. I am really excited for my trip west!
What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Love Yourself

via Personal Excellence
Today's task involves reflecting on what you love about yourself and being grateful for yourself, your uniqueness, your purpose and your place in this world.

This is such a hard challenge for me because, while I am mostly confident and secure, I struggle to love myself; I fight the comparison game all the time. #FOMO 100%

But, I'm going to try, because that's the whole point.

What am I grateful for about myself? I am grateful for my beautiful eyes. I am grateful for my bright smile. I'm grateful that growing out my hair has been painless this time around, and I receive so many compliments on how gorgeous my long, wavy locks are (and they are gorgeous). I'm grateful that I am drawn to helping people, that it's natural for me to empathize. I am grateful that I am passionate and become obsessed with whatever I am loving in the moment. I am grateful that I can run. I am grateful that I am a good writer and people look to be for advice on their writing. I am grateful that I am a problem-solver, and I find that fulfilling and challenging. I am grateful that I have natural rhythm and love to dance. I am grateful that I love deeply and without prejudice. I am grateful that I am stubborn and always seek the best.

I am grateful for me because I really don't know how to be anyone else, though I may try at times. I have a unique purpose and place that no one else can fill, though I may not know exactly what it is yet. I am grateful for me because I have touched people's lives and altered the waves of the universe in ways that no one else could.

I'd be somewhat lying if I said I don't want to be anyone else but me, but I can realize that what I may want in others may not be as it seems. Everyone struggles, everyone fights their own battles, everyone must sacrifice for the lives they live. So, while I may envy someone who appears to be living my dream, I have no idea what it took to get there or what it is really like from their perspective. So, I want to be me, and only me, in the best possible way I can. I want to seek and fulfill my higher purpose, and I want to experience joy along the way.

Three things I'm grateful for TODAY:

  1. Special time tonight.
  2. Feeling more physically relaxed after a much-needed massage last night.
  3. Maintaining inner peace.

Monday, August 19, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Appreciate about Your Adversary

Since I do not blog on weekends, I did not address the third or fourth day challenges. The third is to write a letter of gratitude to someone, which I will complete these weekend as part of a friend's birthday and two friends' going-away celebration. The task calls for posting a picture of your letter, but these are highly personal and intimate, so I'm choosing just to mention that I am writing them rather than sharing them.

The fourth task is to define gratitude for yourself. What does it really mean and what does it mean to practice it? To me, gratitude is spiritual. It is the deep recognition and acceptance of your higher power moving in your life for your benefit -- even though the situation may not always seem immediately positive. When you thank someone, or express your gratitude for having them in your life, to me, that is synonymous with the Yoga concept of "namaste." On the surface, you are thanking that person, but on a deep, spiritual level, you are recognizing that God is putting that person in your life and influencing their actions for both of your benefit. Practicing gratitude is a form of prayer and praise. When you are grateful, you are open and accepting; that is why it is important to be grateful for the challenges in your life as much as the accomplishments.

Today's challenge is to name three things you appreciate about your adversary.
via Google Images
This used to be so difficult for me, and it still is, but it is no longer impossible given my view of gratitude I spoke of above. God is moving and working in my life, including through those who challenge and hurt me.

My biggest adversary at the moment is my roommate. He somehow manages to push me to my edge pretty much every day. As a result, my life is extremely stressful lately -- every day. It is a challenge to say the least. But, God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, and I know by stretching me and creating this huge negative (void) in me, He is only making even more room for the joy He has intended for me.

So, three things I can appreciate about my current adversary are:

  1. He knows who he is and makes no apologies for it.
  2. He is wildly successful, according to his definition of success.
  3. On a deep level, he understands me and accommodates me.
Your turn: What are three things you can appreciate about an adversary? It's tough, isn't it? But, it does feel good that you are able to be that big of a person, that you can frame situations in your life however you choose.

And... three things I am grateful for TODAY are:
  1. Being able to express, accept and talk about my emotions surrounding my friends moving across the country one week from today. It hurts like crazy, but it's comforting that we can share tears.
  2. Having friends who understand me and what I'm facing, who are doing everything they can to help me to the other side.
  3. The return of August weather this week! It's going to be 90 degrees tomorrow!

Friday, August 16, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Give Thanks for Your Food

via Google Images
Today's task is to give thanks for your food, which is something I often forget to be consciously grateful for. I grew up saying "grace" before meals sporadically. My family said it around the holiday tables, and when I was really into my theological education in school and made my parents stop before we ate to say grace, but it wasn't a regular practice in my home. And, unfortunately, it still isn't.

I will say I am more conscious of how blessed I am to not only have enough food, but to have enough of quality food that nourishes me from the inside out. I am blessed to have so many choices of what, where and when I eat. I may not be eating in five-star restaurants every night or have a personal chef, but I never go hungry, and if I want to enjoy a meal out with friends, I can easily do that.

So, today, I will make a conscious effort to say "grace" before each meal. I'm a fan of the simple "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for this food. Amen." That is where I will start. Today. Then hopefully tomorrow. And the next day.

In addition to that, I think it's also important to show gratitude in action, so I'm adding that to my list as well. I will thank those who cook for and serve me regularly. I will help feed those who can't feed themselves when I have the opportunity.

How do you express gratitude for your food?

TODAY I am grateful:

  1. It's Friday, and it's going to be a beautiful weekend!
  2. I get to see an old friend who moved across the country tonight.
  3. I woke up healthy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: 10 + 3

via Google Images
Today is the official start of my 14-day gratitude challenge. Yesterday, when I set my intention for the next two weeks, I failed to mention that I was participating as part of a virtual group, led by Celes of Personal Excellence (you can click the link to go to her blog and register for the challenge yourself).

Now that the administrative piece is out of the way, today's challenge is to list 10 things for which you are grateful, plus three things for which you are grateful TODAY. Here goes...

  1. I am grateful for God's Word, which I try to read daily and upholds me on this crazy path called life.
  2. I am grateful for my job. After being out of work for four months, I can appreciate, even on the days I don't want to, what a blessing it is to be able to work and have a decent-paying gig to go to every day.
  3. I am grateful for my family, who I know stands behind, beside and in front of me no matter what.
  4. I am grateful for my friends. They have really stepped up to the plate recently and shown their generosity and support. I love them for that.
  5. I am grateful for my home. I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in and all the modern amenities. There are so many who don't even have the first in that list.
  6. I am grateful for my adorable dog. He is my companion and my comfort. I will never be alone when he is around.
  7. I am grateful for the opportunities hidden in challenges. While I may not see the endgame, I know God does, and He has a plan for me.
  8. I am grateful for the summer weather we have had in the Northeast this year. We have had some really hot days and a few rainy ones, but, overall, it has been a beautiful summer.
  9. I am grateful for my health. I have been perfectly healthy for the last four months, and it has been wonderful.
  10. I am grateful for upcoming trips: Walt Disney World in November, Los Angeles within the year and maybe Miami in the spring.
Bonus three, just for today:
  1. I am grateful that my day started the best way possible.
  2. I am grateful that I can run tonight -- that I am able, that the weather is perfect, that I have the luxury of time.
  3. I am grateful that I know, to the core of my being, that everything happens for a reason.
Coming up with 10 things seemed a bit daunting, but it is amazing to find that once you start practicing gratitude, it flows more and more freely.

What are you thankful for in your life, and in today specifically?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Practicing gratitude

via Personal Excellence
For the rest of the month, I will be focusing this space on gratitude. I am dealing with some emotional situations right now, and I am struggling to find the positive and the happy in my daily life. I truly believe that being grateful, even in the darkness, transforms us -- our lives, our perspective, our situations, our emotions. Therefore, I am determined, over the next two weeks, to focus on the good and be thankful for that.

By being grateful for challenges, I can view them as opportunities to learn a lesson or become a stronger person. I don't believe God is testing us when we go through tough times, I believe God is shaping us into the best versions of ourselves.

I'm not sure how many are out there reading this little blog of mine anymore, but, if you are reading, I invite you to join me. I'll post the gratitude tasks here every day and reflect on my journey. If you are touched, share your own story in the comments or on your own blog (and send me the link!).

Let's make gratitude a permanent state of being.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I am a runner again!

Just in time for National Running Day, I finally feel like a runner again. I ran the longest run of the year today: 3.1 miles in 35:05 (using a three-minute running, one-minute walking interval). It may not have been fast, and it may not have been too pretty, but I fought tiredness, laziness and doubt, and I went out there and did it -- the second run in two days.

They say you never regret a run you did, and today, I agreed with them. I would have regretted not going out for a run on this running holiday, but I sure did not regret getting out there on the pavement.

I should mention I had more than just a holiday to motivate me; I'm running the Boston Athletic Association 10K on the 23rd, just two and a half weeks away! Yes, and I am just now getting up to a three-mile run. I've given up on a PR, and my goal is just to finish strong and enjoy the race. I plan to do two four-mile runs next week and two five-mile runs the week after, of course with one or two easy one or two-mile runs each week in between.

At least I'm starting to feel strong again. I'm glad to be back to running.

Did you have a good National Running Day? Did you run? How do you handle coming back after a long time off from running or working out?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trust, and you won't be disappointed

So, every day I receive an email in my inbox from "The Universe"; you can substitute whatever you like for "Universe" -- God if you believe in Him, universe if you're more abstract, or even sixth sense if you don't believe in a higher power. I waver between Universe and God, but to me, they both mean the same thing: there is something much larger than me out there, something that cares for me and guides my journey through this crazy life.

Anyway, today's message was:
The more you trust folks, Jennifer, the less they let you down.
Which is not incidentally why I trust you.
The Universe

(Yes, your name is usually inserted into each message, which only makes it feel more real and true.)

I used to be really good at trusting... until I got burned one time too many. That combined with my need to be in control made me retract my trust in many situations. This message spoke to me today. It reminds me that I need to let go and trust people. I can't assume they are going to disappoint me. In doing that, I also need to let go of my crazy expectations.

This online world of ours is pretty crazy in that way. We let our barrier down; we trust people we have never actually met, and probably never will. Yet, we're oddly comfortable with that. I think it's good practice for real life -- finding that balance between trusting and protecting.

In that vein, I'd like to give a shout-out today to a girl who has earned my trust and become a true blogger friend to me. I have missed a couple of opportunities to meet her in person, but I believe, in the right time and place, we will get around to meeting. Christin, a.k.a. The Southern Wife, is a fellow runner, Christian, dreamer, traveler, PR wonder-woman and wine aficionado. (Wow, never really thought about how much we do have in common!) I read her blog daily, and although I don't comment nearly as much as I should, I keep her in my thoughts. I truly do hope we get to share a glass or two of wine someday while chatting about our lives.

Who has pulled down your barriers and taught you to trust?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today I ran.

Today I ran. I ran because it's what I know how to do. I ran because it's how I manage my thoughts. I ran because it's how I cope with my feelings. I ran because I miss it. I ran because it feels good. I ran because it hurts. I ran because I can.

Because I have two legs that can run, and that's what they know how to do.

This was my first run in over a month and only my third run in the last four months. I am three days late for the B.A.A. 5k and a day late for all of the memorial runs, but it was the first day I felt ready to run. It wasn't easy, and it hurt just a little bit, but every step reminded me of how grateful I am. And with every step, I thought of how terrifying running was Monday afternoon.

I ran wearing my B.A.A. shirt, and when the chaos clears from Copley Square, I will run the B.A.A. 5k course. Originally, I was running it for me, so I could say I did it, so I could complete the Distance Medley this year. Now, I will run it as my memorial run, and I will finish where it ended for three young people who didn't deserve the fate handed to them.

Today I ran. Because this is the only way I know how to cope.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 15, 2013

I'm still in shock and speechless, but I feel like I need to say something. I somehow need to get it out and make sense of what happened.

Simply put, my heart is broken. I'm sad. I'm scared. I'm disappointed. I'm offended. I didn't grow up in Boston; I spent my childhood 45 minutes away with occasional day trips to the city. But, I lived there for four years during college, and in this vast, crazy, sometimes senseless world, Boston is my home. It's the city my soul identifies with.
I wanted so badly to be at the marathon yesterday. I knew people running, and I was really excited about the race. I watched the elite runners via live stream at work. After I heard the news, I was immediately worried for everyone I knew that I was in the area, but then all I wanted was to be in my city. I still want to be in my city. I want to walk the streets I know and love and put my arms around them.

I devoured the news coverage yesterday afternoon, but after a couple of hours, I just couldn't listen, watch or read anymore. That numbing feeling I usually get when absorbing the coverage of tragedy never hit me. Each word was a fresh wound. Of course I want to know what happened, but no one knows right now, and I can't stand to see my city in pain.

This feels like 9/11 all over again, except more real. I'll never forget where I was. I'll never forget the helplessness. I'll never forget what it felt like.

A bloodied battlefield on the street I walked every day? It is unimaginable. Yesterday was Patriots Day -- a day commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War, over 200 years ago when those streets were battlefields. The significance is not lost. Boston was a strong city then, and it remains a strong city to this day. We have always held each other up and stood united, and we will continue to do so.

I can't end this post without acknowledging the marathon. I consider myself part of the B.A.A. family since I have run several of their races, and I am so upset that my family was hurt by this senseless act of violence. I am praying and hurting for the victims and their families, but my heart is also with all the runners whose incredible accomplishment, hard work and feat of strength has been completely overshadowed by this horrible event. I know no one cares about whether or not they finished the race, what their time was, or getting that medal, but I want them to know that they are in my thoughts and their strength has not been forgotten. I know many did everything they could to help immediately after what happened, and they made us proud.

Since running the B.A.A. half marathon in October, I have been thinking of tackling the marathon distance, but it scared me. Well, nothing scares me as much as what happened yesterday. I want to run Boston. And, now, after this, I want to run Boston in 2014. I'm not going to qualify, but I'd love to get a charity bib. Even if I can't, I'll run bandit. Every mile will be in memory of yesterday and all those affected.

I can't think of a better reason to run Boston.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#scintilla13: More than a mentor

I have been so fortunate to have several mentors through my life, both professionally and personally. Today, however, I would like to focus on someone who has been both a personal and professional mentor, who has guided me and supported me over the last eight years, who I couldn't do without: O.

I actually inherited O, so to speak, from a friend and coworker who got me a job in O's department and introduced us. He immediately took me under his wing to help guide my career. Whenever we spoke, he asked how I was doing and what I was working on, and then he would offer me some advice or wisdom on how to be better.

As our relationship grew, we started meeting outside of work, and I realized that he was more than my professional mentor, he was becoming my friend. We started talking about life outside of work: family, relationships, dreams, feelings, hobbies, philosophy, perspective, internal struggle; and he offered his guidance in those areas as well.

Something that always struck me about O was how much he believed in me and how he had built this -- what I thought fictional -- future version of me in his mind. I knew he had a good read on me and knew me in the present, but he never focused on that. He always focused on who I was becoming. That was the theme of every single conversation. And he pushed me toward that, even though I fought him on it and I didn't think that was who I was destined to be.

I bet you can see where this is going. He was so right -- I hate admitting that, don't you? I have achieved everything he said I would. I have ended up exactly where he thought I would. He has always had my best interest at heart, and I trust that without hesitation. He is still focusing on who I am becoming, though I know he is so proud of who I am, and that makes me proud.

So, here is to O. I couldn't have done this without him, and I am so grateful for everything he has given me. There is so much love in this circle.

This post is part of the Scintilla Project. Today's prompt is: Write about someone who was a mentor for you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

#scintilla13: Forever changed

- Adlai E. Stevenson II
I first heard, or saw can't really remember, the above quote in high school. I thought it was nice, but a little cheesy back then. However, it stuck around, and I quickly grew to believe it. I find it incredibly true, especially in my own life. And, as painful as it can be at times, I try to stay open to the way people touch and change me. To me, this is the human experience; to me, this is how we truly live and love.

A chance meeting? Oh, I have had so many. I have a quarter of a lifetime of people coming into my life and staying with me -- physically or emotionally or both. 

Today, I am going to tell you about the one that is currently in my heart and mind, the one I cannot let go of. Almost seven years ago, I was in an interesting place in my life. I was finally falling in love with myself. I had let go of my ex-boyfriend, a process that took years, and I was living life on my own terms. I was happy and content for the first time in a long time. 

This coincided with my best friend's wedding, which was good because I was in a great place to be happy for her and support her. I planned her bachelorette party with enthusiasm, determined to give her the perfect night out with all of her girls.

We ended up in Newport, R.I., at a bar with live music -- the bride's favorite form of entertainment. As soon as we heard these guys play, we knew we had found our spot for the night and we were in for a good time. They were playing all of our favorite covers, and they were entertaining as anything. They treated us well, pulling the bride up on stage and giving her multiple shout-outs. I was thrilled.

During the band's break, I went up to one of the guys and told him I thought the band was great, and I thanked him for providing us with a fun night. We chatted for a bit -- the usual questions when you first meet someone. He bought me a drink, and he gave me his business card. He told me to give him a call.

Well, I knew better than to think anything of this encounter -- just another dude in a band. I filed away his card, and I started following the band's website, checking out a few more shows when they were in the area. Months went by, and I was at one of their shows talking to said guy again. He asked me why I never called him. Um... What? Apparently this was not just another dude in a band. Apparently this dude was looking for more.

I know what you're thinking, and it wasn't quite that. To make a long story short, I fell in love with the band and the members of the band. I followed them, stayed in touch, built personal relationships... especially with above-mentioned guy. 

It's a little tough for me to put into words what he has done for me at various points over the last six-plus years. He has inspired me, pushed me and encouraged me toward my goals and dreams. He has given me a safe space to be me and shine. He has listened to me and shared with me. He has made me laugh, and rarely, he has made me cry. He has lifted me up when I was down, and he has made me smile with just a thought. He has opened my mind and my heart, and through that, I believe I have become a better version of myself. I miss him when he's gone, and I feel complete joy when he's around.

I pushed him out of my life once, when I thought that was what was best for me. True, that time was crucial to my development, but I know that I am better when he's here. I can't define him or our relationship, but I know I will never been the same because of it. He keeps me in that space of being happy and content, of living on my own terms. He gives me that strength and courage. He stays with me, even when he's not here.

This post is part of the Scintilla Project. Today's prompt is: Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#scintilla13: 7/1/13 - The day Reader died

This is not something incredible interesting that happened to me, as The Scintilla Project specifies for today's post, but it has me so overwhelmed that I had to share it. Plus, I'm sure it affects many of you as well.

So, here we go, an instruction manual on the day I found out that Google Reader will die.
  1. Log into Google Reader to browse today's blog updates.
  2. A window pops up informing you that Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013.
  3. You can navigate to Google Takeout (has anyone else ever heard of this before? I hadn't), where you can download an archive of every RSS feed you subscribe to and your entire Google Reader life.
  4. As of July, you are SOL and in search of a new RSS reader.
Ahhhh! Does anyone else have a good RSS reader suggestion??? I'm desperate!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#scintilla13: My first job

I don't think I have ever talked about where my career started on this blog, and the older and more experienced I get, the more I realize how valuable those first few working years were.

Like a huge majority of young girls, my first paying gig was babysitting. I took the whole Red Cross babysitting safety course, and I had quite the operation going with great word-of-mouth references. I volunteered at my dance studio as a teacher's assistant, so the moms began asking me to watch their kids outside of dance class for money, which was great. My neighbors started telling their friends, who started calling me and asking if I was available. It was a racket, I tell you.

Once I turned 16, though, my parents were eager for me to get an "official" job. You know, the kind where you have to report your income to the government and they send you a W-2. I refused to work in the food service industry, so I did what any teenager would do: I hit the mall.

I showed up for my interview at Baby GAP (back then, it was a separate store from GAP) in my high school uniform, and I professed my (fake) love for the brand. And I got the job.

Back then, GAP was all khakis and black or white t-shirts or button-downs. How times have changed! I remember the three managers at the store when I started so fondly. They really took the time to teach me so much. In fact, most of the managers I worked with in my six years there were just incredible. We had great times and awful times, but we usually had fun.

I made life-long friends at that job, people I still count on today even though I no longer call them coworkers. We are the #8938 crew (that was our store number, which is now defunct since the baby store closed and consolidated with the other GAP stores in the mall). I trained many of them, including my mother who still works there today!

I had such a love-hate relationship with retail and GAP, but they were really good to me through my formative years. When I went to college in Boston, I transferred to two different stores in the city, guaranteeing me a job when I need that part-time money. My home store always took me back during school breaks and summer holidays -- they made transferring back and forth a breeze and always accommodated me. Once I graduated, they loved me so much, they gave me a full-time, non-manager position, which is extremely rare in the retail world. I was the store expert, having worked there longer than any of the managers, and I pretty much got to do whatever I wanted.

I spent most of my time on visual and merchandising projects, rearranging the store, working in new seasonal lines, setting the store windows, and styling baby and toddler mannequins. I learned responsibility, accountability, customer service and communication. I learned how to work with and train others, even some difficult personalities. Oh, and I was usually well-dressed with a 50% discount! They gave me a Tiffany bracelet for my five-year anniversary with the company.

I left GAP in 2004 to work at Victoria's Secret before leaving retail for good a year later. As much as I hated being on my feet all day and retail politics and difficult customers, I miss those "good old days" at GAP. They were some of the best days of my life, and I could always "escape" to work when life got overwhelming. I credit my time there for making me the hard worker and problem-solver I am today. I don't think I'd be where I am without those first six years.

Your turn! What was your first job? What did it teach you? Have you ever worked in retail?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A little thought for the day

Sometimes, someone makes you smile... and suddenly your whole world gets brighter.

I've been thinking this all week, and it's stayed with me -- which is a great thing. So, I wanted to share it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eeeeee... time to start running!

This just happened:
B.A.A. Distance Medley
Thank you for registering for the 2013 B.A.A. Distance 

Your Entry is CONFIRMED.

I am both excited and scared. I haven't run in five weeks, but I wanted to complete the Distance Medley so badly last year and couldn't because of injury. I ran the 10K and half marathon last year and loved both races -- despite the pain involved. This year's courses are the same, so I am looking to PR both the 10K and half, as well as PR my 5K distance.

I love running in Boston, and these races will keep me on track this running season. They will probably be the only races I run other than the Harpoon 5-Miler... and maybe some random 5K's my friends talk me into.

Oh, and I'm super thrilled to be able to run across this historic finish line at the end of the 5K:

Wish me luck getting back into the running groove and outrunning this awful, chronic sinus/cough disaster I have going on!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

(Not so) Healthy Living

I found this survey on Carrots 'n' Cake, and I thought it would be interesting to answer the questions for myself. Feel free to answer one or more in the comments, or on your own blog!

  1. What did you eat for breakfast? A cup of coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of organic egg nog, two sunny-side-up eggs on oatmeal toast with melted provolone cheese, garlic salt, pepper, Italian herbs and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. How much water do you drink a day? I try to drink at least 60 ounces, but I have been battling a sinus/cough thing, so all I crave is hot liquids. I've been drinking at least five mugs of steaming tea or Emergen-C lately. Plus my daily cup of coffee.
  3. What is your current favorite workout? Skiing! Due to the above chronic sinus/cough thing, I haven't been able to run, and I have been avoiding the gym because I often sound like I'm dying and don't want to scare people.
  4. How many calories do you eat a day? I don't count anymore, but based off when I did, I'm going to estimate between 1200 and 1500 a day. I eat more on days I'm active -- versus days when I just go to the office and then home for the night.
  5. What are your favorite healthy snacks? I really try to bring healthy snacks to work and have them around the house for when I'm home. My favorites lately have been almonds, dried fruit and nut trail mix, grapefruit, guacamole and carrots (with not-so-healthy ranch dip).
  6. What do you usually eat for lunch? Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches or turkey and cheese sandwiches, always on oatmeal or wheat bread/rolls, usually with chips (yeah, not so healthy). I also try to have a fruit or vegetable with my lunch -- like the above grapefruit or carrots. There's a Subway near my office, so I go there sometimes and load my sandwich with veggies.
  7. What is your favorite body part to strength train? My glutes! Haha, I know having strong glutes will help both my running and skiing, so I'm all about a healthy backside.
  8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train? My chest and shoulders. So painful!
  9. What are your "bad" food cravings? What's not??? I ate about eight Oreos after lunch the other day. Also love birthdays at work for the cake. I get salt cravings frequently, so I nosh on potato chips. Oh and donuts; I can't resist donuts.
  10. Do you take vitamins or supplements? Not really. Other than the Emergen-C mentioned above. I have been popping my mom's vitamin D pills whenever I see her, but I haven't bought any for myself yet.
  11. How often do you eat out? It depends on my plans. Lately it's been a lot keeping up with friends, but some weeks I don't eat out at all.
  12. Do you eat fast food? Sure. I don't really believe in restricting myself, so I'll have a Five Guys' burger if we're heading there. But I try to choose the healthiest options most of the time. I can't remember the last time I had MacDonald's.
  13. Who is your biggest supporter? Myself. I hold myself accountable to my workouts and healthy eating habits. I keep tabs on myself. I cheer myself on when I do well and meet my goals. Unfortunately I don't really have anyone else in my life who'll stay on top of me like that.
  14. Do you have a gym membership? Yup, though I haven't been in three weeks or so. I use it mostly to run on the treadmill in bad weather and to strength train. I used to attend classes, but I haven't done that in over six months.
  15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? I always shoot for eight, but sometimes my social life gets in the way... and sometimes (like last night), I sleep 10 to catch up.
  16. Do you have a "cheat" day? Not so much a specific day, but I allow myself indulgences.
  17. Do you drink alcohol? Of course. I have given it up for a period of time at several points, but now I mostly drink in moderation when out with friends or spending time with family. The only time I drink alone is the very rare glass of wine when I'm cooking myself a nice dinner -- that usually involves cooking with said wine.
  18. Do you have a workout buddy? Not really. I tend to workout solo, although I have friends who run races with me and come skiing with me.
  19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle? My confidence and self-image. I can look in a mirror and really like and admire what I see now. I feel (mostly) strong. I am proud of what my body can do and how far it can go, and I have the confidence to push it further. For the first time ever, I view myself as an athlete, and I treat myself accordingly.
  20. What was the last healthy thing you did? Boil water to raise the humidity in my extremely dry house. My skin, eyes and sinuses are suffering!