Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Land of the Free....Home of the Brave

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. It has everything I love: spirited pride red white and blue style, great food, drinks, festivals, music, joy and camaraderie. Nobody does 4th of July better than the birthplace of the 4th of July....Philadelphia. I have a series of July 4th traditions that I absolutely love including watching "Rocky" on the Art Museum steps and hanging out on the Ben Franklin Parkway for the "Party on the Parkway" festival. Now I watch fireworks on rooftops. 

"Rocky" was everything and more. I went with my best friend, David. We got there later than we thought and had to hunt for a good seat. There was a raffle happening, where you could win the chance to watch the movie in the front row of the Art Museum steps in leather recliners from a movie theater. I told David we should enter that contest. So we did. We each got a blue ticket and then shuffled off to our scavenged seats. 

We're sitting there, eating our Wawa hoagies for dinner and they call the raffle winners. First number called, some lady won. Second and last winner of the night: not us. But that person wasn't available! They left or something. So they called a third number. I'm sitting there looking at my ticket. David goes, "Wait, is that you?" I look down and realize they called my number. I shot up in the air screaming and waving my ticket. I won!!! I went down so they could confirm my ticket and then back up to our seats where we packed up our belongings and sauntered down to the front. After a few photos we got to enjoy the movie in style. It was pretty epic. 
We felt like kings. Plus, I go to "Rocky" every year, so this was a nice treat for a dedicated "Rocky" attendee. David and I both agreed this VIP treatment topped the cake. 

The actual 4th was pretty sweet too. We went down to the Parkway and then went to a friend of a friend's rooftop party. We got to see the Delaware River fireworks really well and enjoyed a fun night of games, drinks and delicious food. Quite stellar. 

In other news, I've been working on an exercise streak. I'm on day 12. Every day I'm committed to doing some type of exercise. I've done swimming, kickboxing, running, yoga and a few in-house routines. So far so good!

I hope you had an amazing holiday too! Next up, there will be a bit more on my whole "path to enlightenment" and how I'm learning that your thoughts/feelings/attitudes really do shape your reality. 

Until next time...


Monday, June 26, 2017

Delayed Onset of the Quarter Life Crisis

It is Monday afternoon. I've had several people tell me how powerful and moving a recent feature article I wrote for my company's employee newsletter was. I wrote a posthumous piece on a beloved employee based off of the stories others told me of her. They painted the picture of who she really was and I took that picture, put it down in words and e-mailed it out to over 3,000 people. It did the job. 

Moments like that are affirming to me. Nothing is more satisfying than feeling like the thing you loved, the thing you studied, is the thing you're really really good at. You may know you are talented in that arena but it always feels good to be complimented for it. That validation is necessary to keep doing what you love and keep doing it well. 

Except when your whole job isn't about that one piece of the passion. 

Recently I finished the book "You Are Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life," by Jen Sincero. It was a self-help book that actually turned my thinking upside down. It made me question why I want the things that I want (or thought I wanted) and why I'm living the life that I am living. 

That is not to say my life sucks and I'm not being "bad ass." I sort of am. But the glaring message throughout the book to me was, "Mary Anna, you're not living your best life. You're not being true to yourself. You're not striving for the greatness you once believed you could achieve." Damn you Sincero. I was comfortable in my comfort zone of blah. I enjoyed working my tail off at a highly stressful yet mostly fulfilling job. I was going to buy a house so I could paint my walls the color I want them and adopt a second dog. 

I can't call it a quarter life crisis because I'm almost 30. So, it is a delayed onset of a quarter life crisis. I'm reevaluating everything in my life. Take healthcare as a career field for example. I literally tripped and landed into healthcare. I graduated from college, entered a volunteer program (in healthcare) got hired to maintain my volunteer position for pay (in healthcare) got promoted to the corporate side to use my journalism skills (in healthcare) and am now the PR person for a health system. Seven years of healthcare. 

Healthcare has been good to me. But is healthcare where I want to be? Sure healthcare is paying the bills. Healthcare is helping with student loans. Healthcare provides me with health insurance. But if I'm supposed to be living my truth and following my passion, I'm questioning if that passion is indeed, healthcare.

I know my passion lies in writing and storytelling. Basically I love creating things, writing, telling stories and making people laugh. Those are the fundamental cornerstones to "my passion." I get to do a bunch of those things in my current circumstances, but not all of them. I don't feel the level of fulfilled-ness that Sincero is telling me I can feel. But who is she to judge my life? Homegirl made millions of dollars off a book (now two) and gets paid to travel around the world and life coach and give motivational speeches. 

The point is, that stupid book make me question everything and I don't like it. That stupid book made me question why I even want to buy a house right now. That stupid book made me question why I haven't done a stand-up comedy open mic night yet. That stupid book made me question why I haven't written a stupid book yet. I know, all of these big dreams sound selfish and my desire to marry my joys and passions make me sound like a naive millennial snowflake who thinks the world owes me pleasure. Believe me, that is not what I think at all. However, I do believe that when my teachers and mentors told me I could be anything I want to be, I believed them and I still do today. There IS value to the power of positive thinking There IS value to looking yourself in the mirror, asking yourself what you want to be doing for the rest of your life and DOING THAT. 

People will say "oh you don't have the resources to make that dream a reality" or "you should really be thankful you even have a job in this economy, try to find your joy in your current situation instead of finding a whole new situation." But I can't believe that. I refuse to believe I was put on this earth to work my ass off, pay bills and die. 

Now I'm reading "52 ways to live a kick-ass life." Lord help me. But I'm also planning and getting strategic about my future. I'm working out the ways I can live my best life, be fulfilled AND pay the bills/feed my dog. I'm dreamscaping my life and it feels damn good. My biggest worry is that I, a textbook Meyers-Briggs ENFP, am just excited by the "thought" of change and the planning process but won't go through with it. Yet every day I find a new real-time, real-world reminder as to why I HAVE to do this, so maybe this time it is for real. 

Until next time....

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I don't crack glass ceilings, I shatter glass doors


Hot off the heals of an amazing Memorial Day weekend, I enter the work week with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. I did everything I wanted to do that weekend. I cleaned my apartment, bathed my dog, went hiking with my best friend, hung out with Bronx at a pop-up beer garden, got my hair done, met my new dog walker, gave my neighbor a fond farewell, spent time with special people and went to an epic concert that literally set my soul on fire. 

I've been reading Jen Sincero's book "You are badass, how to stop doubting your greatness and live an awesome life." The book has turned my world upside down. I thought things were going moderately well for me. I have a great job and my roof no longer leaks at my apartment. All that good stuff. However, upon reading this book it became alarmingly clear that I am not living my best life. There is a bucket list of things I want to do and an equally longer list of reasons why I choose not to do them. Excuses. I'm becoming aware that I'm living a life that involves working extremely hard, paying bills and getting closer each day to death. As dramatic as that sounds, it is true. 

In an effort to reclaim my passions, I spent Monday night watching Hulu, whitening my teeth and dream mapping my life. I put circle squares down and wrote down the things I want to achieve: buy a home, larger social circle, more adventures, traveling makes me very happy...etc and then little circles with steps to get there. I did this about five years ago and said my three main goals were to move to South Philly, buy a Kia Soul and adopt a Boxer dog. I did those things. Time to do bigger things again. 

I went to bed Monday night with a clearer head and a renewed sense of purpose, as I mentioned before. I had some ideas, a little bit of hope and excitement about the future and a miraculously clean home. When I got into work the next day with my freshly done hair and whiter teeth, I felt optimistic. 

That was until later in the afternoon. I wrapped up a highly successful meeting and went to exit my meeting space. I slide the glass door open to exit and the next thing I know, I'm standing in a pile of glass, holding the door handle, not moving. The door shattered completely. It basically exploded. 

I am not sure why, or how, but I was calm. I stood there and yelled for someone to call maintenance and did not move a muscle. Glass was everywhere and I could already see my arm starting to bleed. I picked a helluva a day to wear a white skirt, but at least I also wore combat boots so my feet were protected. Thankfully the person I was meeting with was not hurt. 

Two seconds after the thunderous crash, half my building was standing in front of me, directing me what to do. After handing over the door handle and removing a plastic liner covered in glass from my arm, I could exit the glass mountain to safety. A co-worker rushed me to the ER where I was cleaned up and bandaged and sent on my way. 

I wanted to start the work week off with a bang. This was not the bang I intended. I didn't crack a glass ceiling but I shattered a glass door. My incident promoted a safety inspection of all of the remaining glass doors in the building. Hopefully my mishap prevents it from happening to someone else. 

Now I just smile and nod at the "bubble wrap" jokes and the "padded room" comments. (I walked into a glass window last winter while chasing an Amazon package and fractured my nose). However one thing is apparent, I have a crap ton of people who care about me and my well being, so that is always a nice feeling to have. Additionally I had time to reflect on all of the "near misses" I've had in my life. I've been in three car accidents, two involved totaled cars, and I walked away from all of them, pretty much uninjured sans some airbag burns on my arms. I've been to the ER about 5 times in my life, once for stitches for a cut under my eye that was dangerously close to my eye. I have a guardian angel, that is for sure. 

The rest of the week has been much less eventful. A highlight is I found a Trader Joe's near my work so when I'm in dire need of TJ eats I can swing by on my way home. This weekend I've got some laundry on deck and some side projects. Then I'll get back to reclaiming my passions and finding ways to make that dream map a reality. 

Until next time...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Only Race I Care About

I wrote a blog post for March complaining about how brutal March was. I had a lot of things due, a lot of things happening, a lot of things that needed to be completed. I never completed that post, though. I guess I didn't feel like wasting precious blog space on complaining. I wrote a post about May but didn't finish that one either. Not sure why, perhaps I got distracted. 

Well, we're going to finish this post. 



Hi friends. It has been awhile. Clearly I have yet to be spit out of this never ending whirlwind called my life. May has been okay so far. The biggest news to report was my 2017 appearance in the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run. For the third year in a row, I set out to PR this 10 miler. I wrote the time to beat on my hand: 2:26:53. I did everything right: trained, geared correctly, fueled correctly and ran more than I had in previous years. I usually end up walking miles 5-10 but this year I was still running off and on in miles 7, 8 and 9. Let's start from the beginning...

For the 3rd year in a row I actually got a seat on the subway. I bet my luck runs out next year. Upon arrive to Broad and Olney, I was greeted by a very festive SEPTA station. They went all out with balloons and a photobooth this year. SEPTA is a corporate sponsor of the race and they really enjoyed their role in this year. I was so early. I had plenty of time to pee, stretch, eat, stretch and pee again. Most notably, the second port-a-potty trip where I was in line for a good 40 minutes. Some other runners told us there were no lines at the pottys further down this hill by the track but a bunch of us stubbornly stayed in line. "I've invested too much time in this line," the guy behind me said. "This line is meaningful to me," I said, my voice mock quivering. It was hilarious. Some good souls passed back a nice roll of toilet paper as well, saving us from the unsightly horrors that lie in the pre-race potty hell. 

I lined up in my corral, took my inhaler, cued up my playlist and got ready to run. As our wave took off (the last wave), I got a little emotional. I didn't cry but I almost did. Everything I did leading up to that point was for this race. 40,000 people got up at the butt crack of dawn, payed $50+ to run 10 miles through Philadelphia with friends and strangers. As I crossed the start, a wave of spectators were lined up to my right. I ran over and high fived about 25 people in a row. They pumped me up and I think I pumped them up. I couldn't stop smiling. 

Somewhere in mile 2, I popped my headphone out. I listened to what was around me. There were no spectators on that little stretch, no bands or entertainment...just runners. What I heard was the pounding of feet on the pavement...thousands of feet, pounding away. It was such a cool moment that I will never forget.

My goal other than to PR was to really enjoy the race...to be in it. To recognize the privilege it is to participate in such an event. I stopped to look at the neighbors on their porches, waving to us with smiles on their faces. I pulled out my headphones to listen to the entertainment that played and cheered for us as we ran past. I looked around at the shirts around me, I slowed down to high five little kids, I enjoyed every step and every mile.

I wouldn't have done anything differently. In mile 7.5, a huge wind and rain storm kicked up, throwing all of us still on the course to the land of PTSD of last year's race. I outstretched my arms and yelled a battle cry, promoting the volunteers around me to cheer. 

As I reached the finish, I checked my phone and saw my best friend was waiting for me. I've never had someone wait for me at the finish before. It meant to the world to me seeing him, his cousin and her husband (who finished an hour before me) wait for me to pass by. Some girl, there are a ton of pics of her, was screaming at me YOU GOT THIS GET IT DONE. I appreciated her. I ran across the finish, assuming I didn't PR. As I got inline to enter the finisher's area, I checked my phone. I had my race alerts sent to me via text. I looked at my finish time.

2:26:53. I didn't PR. I matched my 2015 time TO THE SECOND. Exact same time. It was written on my hand. Like some sort of magic trick. I was thrilled. The only thing better than getting a PR was doing this once and a lifetime thing. I knew I gave it my all. I knew I ran for long stretches of time, more than ever before. I couldn't and wouldn't change a thing. 


Third time was not a charm, but it was very special. I honestly can not wait to do this again next year. 

Until next time...


Monday, February 27, 2017

The Flu is Not Your Friend

Ok, let's face it. The flu is no one's friend. I got it for the first time in as long as I can remember. Last Sunday (not yesterday but the week before) I went on a nice long hike with Bronx and my bff. We did about 5 miles PLUS I got a one mile trail run in to keep the #RunStreakPhl alive. All was well until Monday morning when I had a few body aches, which turned into A LOT of body aches and a fever and some chills on top. I felt awful. I left around 2:30pm and headed home. I barely got Bronx out and back in before I collapsed in my bed, pulling the covers tightly around me despite it being 65 degrees outside. 

For the next week I battled the icky sickies. I took off Tuesday but had to work from home 12:30-6pm to get something done. I went in for a half day on Wednesday but was miserable. I got things done and met my deadlines but I felt like total crap. It was such a waste. Thursday I took off again and stayed off. Friday I returned for a full work day but I was still coughing and feeling sort of out of it. 

Saturday I had to work but I felt a lot better. I even made it out for a run! But I did too much too fast and by Saturday evening I was coughing again every spare second. So Sunday I was down for the count. 

I will say in all of this, I've still managed to keep the running streak alive. They let you do the elliptical or walk, so I've been doing a lot of walking to keep it going. I feel like I ran half the month and walked half the month. Yesterday I walked because I was coughing every five seconds and it was cold and windy. I think tonight I might try a run again after errands when I get home. Tomorrow is the last day of the streak. Another 30 days of healthy habits in the books.

For March I'm doing the Plank Challenge. Each day I'll be doing a plank, uping the duration each week. So Week 1 - one 15 second plank each day; Week 2 - one 30 second plank each day; Week 3 - one 45 second plank each day and Week 4 - one 60 second plank each day. I should have abs by April. This also includes increasing my water intake, my vegetable intake and continuing to run and kickbox. I've lost close to 30 pounds since January 1st, well on my goal of losing 10 pounds a month. I want to keep crushing it. 

So for now, I'm just easing back into my routine, hoping I don't get sick for quite some time. That was no joke. It was especially hard when the weather was amazing outside and I couldn't go play in it. No runs. No hikes. Just brief walks with Bronx before rest again since it tired me out. Blegh. So over it and so glad I'm finally on the mend. I thought I would be sick forever!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Successful #Whole30 and February's Challenge

Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. On February 7th, I completed my last day of the #Whole30 Challenge. All in all, I lost 20 pounds since Jan 3rd, 15 of which were during the challenge. I learned how to cook new foods and broke up with sugar (though we reunited recently with the hopes of breaking back up again). I learned how to eat when I'm hungry not just when I'm stressed or bored. I'm really glad I did the challenge even though parts of it were tough. 

For February, I've entered the #RunStreakPhl challenge...run a mile every day in February. I mean, we only have 28 days, right? At first, I was on FIRE. I would look forward to my runs and I was so excited to see my progress run after run. I could run longer, faster and easier with each day. Until a few days ago...when days of running turned into a bad case of shin splints. Now running is extremely painful. I'm trying to stick with the challenge, rolling my shins/calves and stretching more, wearing compression sleeves and socks, and taking it a little bit slower. I'm determined to finish, I just want to get back to where I was enjoying the stress relief of the run and not the painful stabbing in my legs. 

Halfway there. 

I registered for the Hot Chocolate 15K in April. It is a month before the Broad Street Run (I find out if I made the lottery for that one tomorrow morning) so I figured 9 miles is a good benchmark to see how I'll fare with 10 miles in May. 

Work is busy and at times hectic but I'm making through my days and learning a lot in my new role. I'm currently the Corporate Communications Manager, a promotion I received on Christmas Day. Navigating the Public Relations landscape has been an adventure but turns out it is not that far off from reverse journalism, so the skill set is there. 

Life? Um. It is ok. I've been keeping busy with the challenges I'm doing each month and trying to continue to lose weight so I can skydive for my 30th in August. Been trying to be more social. Not that I'm anti-social, but sometimes a work week exhausts me to the point where I just want to be a hermit in jammies watching Netflix with Bronx. 

Bronx celebrated his 4th birthday last week! 

Little nugget enjoyed a trip to Pet Smart where he picked out (with help from Mom) that flat squirrel toy. He had a birthday cookie and also kindly posed for a few 4th birthday photos in his birthday hat (which he hated and promptly pawed off of his head). His goes to his new vet for his annual checkup this Saturday and then on Feb 21st, we'll celebrate our TWO YEAR adoption anniversary. This little (big) pup has brought so much joy to my life. He is the perfect dog for me and we love going on adventures together. Just this past weekend he came to Valley Forge with me for a nice 5 mile hike. 

That is about it. Here's to hoping I can run pain free soon. It was good stress relief for awhile there. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#Whole30 Day 24


I can almost taste the cream in my coffee. I'm on Day 24 of #Whole30. I realized I have been going through the timeline a little more delayed than most people. At this point I should experience "Tiger Blood" which is endless energy and a positive outlook on life. While I do feel a small additional pep in my step, what I am going through now is the really insane dreams that involve me eating non Whole30 foods and feeling guilty. Like...oh hey, I'm almost done anyway...I'm going to eat this ice cream. 

In real life, I have no desire to destroy all of my hard work and partake in non Whole30 foods before my challenge is up. They say these dreams are your brain's way of trying to bring you back to your old eating habits and the food you used to gorge on has a psychological hold on you. Creepy right?

In other news, I've officially lost 15 pounds since this all started AND have entered a new challenge for February. I'm in the #RunStreakPhiladelphia challenge and must run at least one mile per day EVERY day in February. I'm hoping I can really stick to it, even if it means banging out a mile around my block 8 times or something. I think I'm going to do a challenge every month or something to keep me on track with my goals. 

I bought digestive enzymes which have been a BLESSING. Now I'm no longer have bathroom issues with the Whole30 diet and should have bought the enzymes on day one. Just one capsule before I eat and everything is fine. No more bloating. Whew. 

SIX days to go and then I'm done. Still considering eating a pint of Halo Top for breakfast on day 31 to celebrate. haha

Until next time...