Monday, October 2, 2017

Sick September A Recap

After an fantastic month of August where all the stars were aligned and life seemed damn near perfect, I entered the month of September with optimism and excitement. Labor day weekend was on its way and I started to get the sniffles. The sniffles turned into a full blown cold. The cold turned into a full blown cough. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't walk up the stairs without hacking. I was cough-peeing. It was awful. 

I finally made an appointment to see the doctor and was prescribed steroids and a fancy inhaler. A week into treatment I started to improve. The coughing got a bit less frequent but my head felt like it was going to explode from the sinus pressure. I tried Sudafed. I tried Flonase. It is now October 2nd and I'm still coughing. The pressure between my ears is very prevalent. 

I just made an appointment to see my doctor again tomorrow. I think I have a sinus infection or something. My entire immune system has been shot as of late. Even hanging with Bronx gives me mini hives on my arms sometimes. (I've had my dog for almost three years. I am NOT allergic to him).

So September, in short, was kind of a let down. I gained weight. I was sick. I felt really stressed most of the month. I did manage to squeak out a miserable 10K and try out some new fitness classes.

I did manage to have a little bit of fun with Xfinity Live's Oktoberfest, a silent disco, visiting my former neighbor who is Bronx's (stepmom), taking B on some hikes...etc. I'm just hoping October is a bit more magical than September. Also, a bit more healthy, mentally and physically. Hell, emotionally too. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Holy Shit, August.

This month seems nothing short of incredibly. I mean, seriously. It may have been the best month of my life and that is no exaggeration. Let's recap:

August 6
On August 6th my best friend David and I went to see Phillip Phillips and Goo Goo Dolls in concert at Festival Pier. We got there early but a line had formed all the way to Dave and Busters. I thought for sure we'd be stuck in the back of the concert crowd but upon entering the venue I learned that only two full rows had formed (it was GA). I snagged us a spot in row 3/4 a little to the right of the stage. It was perfect. We're going to make it a point to go see them every year. Such a fun concert! 

August 12
I bought tickets months ago but didn't have any friends available for this magical weekend. It was a party bus day trip to Atlantic City. Within the first 20 minutes of the bus ride I had made some friends. I knew the hostess but that was it. Unfortunately after some imbibing I found I was way more interested in gambling than making friends. While most of the crew went to dinner, I found myself playing slots. I won $36 and $150 but lost a bit here and there too. I walked with $100. It was a ball. 

August 15
It has been my life's goal to perform in the First Person Arts Story Slam. I've always wanted to do it but never had the guts or commitment to get up and do this thing. Each month there is a different theme. You buy tickets to the show and put your name in a bucket if you want to share a story. Names are drawn at random and you have 5 minutes to tell your story. Stories are judged by the audience. I was picked LAST to perform! The guy who went before me got three perfect scores so, he won. But I was so proud to get up there and do it. All the storytellers won a prize and I got a squeaky toy for B since my story was about him. It felt good to be on stage again, something I haven't done since college. The Story Slam was like revisiting my Forensics roots from high school. 

August 17
One week before my 30th birthday, my coworkers came together and decorated my office! They blew up balloons and threw streamers around. There was cupcakes and muffins. They wanted to celebrate early because the following week many would be off. Also, I was taking off for my birthday as well. It was a great surprise to walk into since that morning I dropped Bronx off at boarding in preparation for my weekend trip (up next). He looked so sad when I left him, I couldn't get that image out of my head. So I was pretty upset about that and then walked into this. Thanks guys!

August 18-20
As a birthday present to myself and a way to stay true to my passions, I took a leap of faith and invested a significant amount of money into attending the 2017 Writer's Digest Annual Conference in New York City. Roundtrip bus was $25 and my AirBnB cost less for two nights than one night at the conference hotel. This proved to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. To reassure me I was where I was supposed to me, the morning of the conference I received a pleasant surprise. I was waiting in line to pay for an overpriced NY bagel when a woman came up behind me and asked me if I wanted breakfast. I said yes, and she handed me a coupon for a free $40 value buffet breakfast at the hotel's restaurant. 
I was sitting in a Hilton in midtown Manhattan eating Lox and sipping coffee poured by a nice man named Warren. I wasn't even a guest at the hotel! (But at that moment, yes...why yes I was). Free breakfast aside, the whole weekend was phenomenal. I learned so much about the industry. I even designed a non-fiction humor book pitch that I delivered to six agents on Saturday. I was so excited! Turns out, I have a marketable book idea! I'm working on finishing up my proposal and then I'm going to send it to the agents who requested to see it. So exciting! (I worked on my pitch in a Starbucks downtown and laughed thinking I was a true writer in a coffee shop).

I also got the chance to meet the folks of Round Table Companies, a truly amazing group of people who happened to be the title sponsor of the conference. They hosted a game called Vulnerability is Sexy and that is when six strangers became close friends. The question and answer game really brought us together. We're all Facebook friends now. I love those people. I was in awe of how this little game could bring people from all walks of life closer together. We felt like family after two hours. 

My AirBnB hostess was Russian and we had some fun culture swapping moments. I taught her the English words for fan, exhaust vent and okra. She taught me about Russian banas (steam spas), Turkish food and homebrewing Kombucha. We hugged twice before I left her place, a cozy little apartment two blocks from Time Square. She left me an amazing review, saying I was one of the best people she met in her life and hopes I always comes to stay with her. 

The connections I made, the people I met, the things I learned about writing and myself...invaluable gifts. I am so glad I went. Also, Bronx was fine! He ate all his food in boarding, took a silly picture and was knocked out tired for two days when he returned home. 

August 24
I spent my 30th birthday doing a Tour de Birthday of sorts. I started out at IHOP for free pancakes (they were delicious), then went and got a pedicure at my favorite nail salon. After that I got free Starbucks (they wrote Birthday Girl on my cup) and then went home to grab Bronx. He wore a shirt that said "Its Mommy's 30th birthday" and we went to a park and then a bar near my apartment. I got a Not Your Father's Root Beer Float and he enjoyed vanilla ice cream. Then I went to Penn's Landing to ride the temporary Ferris Wheel and play carnival games. After that I went to Ray's Happy Birthday Bar for my free birthday shot and a beer. Ended the night at my bar, the Wrap Shack eating BBQ wings and tater tots. Stopped by Melrose diner for two pieces of buttercream cake (one for me and one for B). They gave me three pieces and charged me for one!

It is amazing how many strangers go out of their way to make your birthday special. I mean, people were really really nice to me. I had such a perfect day. 

August 25
I spent the bulk of my birthday doing fun MA things because the day after my birthday I threw a HUGE party for myself and 25 of my closest friends at a bar in Center City. Buffet dinner, open bar, door prizes and goodie bags. I had a blast! So many people came out and the pictures were the best gifts a girl could ask for. I had been planning it for months and it was really great to see everything come together the way it did. There were some very special people at that party and I'm so grateful they were able to celebrate with me. 

August 27
As if I hadn't accomplished enough this month, I piled more on. This past Sunday I ran in the Philly 10K. Despite winging the whole thing I somehow managed to PR from last year! Of course I wore my birthday sash and tiara, prompting everyone to wish me Happy Birthday. Worth it. 

So, yeah...August 2017 may just have been the best month of my entire life. I'm so ready for 30. I think it is going to be epic. Cheers. 

Until next time....

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...

Sick September A Recap

After an fantastic month of August where all the stars were aligned and life seemed damn near perfect, I entered the month of September with...