"Aspire not to have more, but to be more"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Be still.

I've often thought about the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our role in society? There are millions of us and it is so easy to blend in. How do we make a name for ourselves and differentiate ourselves from others? Simple. We go to college, get a degree, and get a job doing something we love. Right? Well it's not so easy for a lot of people. First, there is the whole lack of access to higher education for many living right down the street from us. Then there is the whole thing that happens when you graduate and realize you learned more outside of the classroom in college instead of in the classroom and have zero desire to have a job relating to what your major was. 

As many of you probably know, I changed my major 4 times in college. I started out with plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and ended up graduating with a degree in Government & Politics with a passion for social justice, fair trade, immigration, and running. I learned pretty early on how I was not cut out for math and science, no matter how hard I pushed myself. As a Pre-Med student, I felt that I was just a number, competing to have the highest GPA no matter what it took. Someone once told me you won't remember the late nights you stayed up studying; you'll remember the late nights you stayed up talking with friends. In my 3.5 years in college, I only remember one night staying up late studying -- it was my second to last semester of college and I pulled my first all nighter to write a paper. I saved the paper until the very last minute because I realized that no matter how much time I put into papers, I wound up actually getting higher grades on papers that I waited until the last minute to write. Other than that one night staying up late writing a paper, all I remember are the nights I stayed up late with friends. One night I was laying on the mall in front of McKeldin with some friends after a Fair Trade UMD meeting and we had some good laughs, other nights I remember are driving Nite Ride, my first night out at a bar with my roommates, a night spent at the College Park fire station, many a nights at Looney's, Cinco de Mayo 2011 in Parkside...So many great memories. Although I have been out of school for the past 8 months, I finally feel like I'm in the real world. I'm so blessed that I was able to live at home for a few months to get things figured out and then accepted a job out here in San Francisco. Do I feel like college prepared me for the real world? Not really. I definitely miss always learning, I don't miss the exams. The stress now isn't about how I'll do on exams... it's if I'll be able to pay my bills or how a huge presentation to potential investors will go... One thing that has remained consistent throughout high school, college, and my recent entry into the real world is running -- I'm so happy that I've been able to stay with it! Although the real world comes with challenges, I'm enjoying it. Sometimes it's easy to feel like everyone is the same, but when I take a look at how I got to where I am, I feel unique and that's awesome.

Last Thursday I was walking through downtown San Francisco and I was amazed at the contrast of the "rich" and the poor. Yes, we all have seen one or two homeless people in our day, but the homeless here are different than anything I've seen before. There was a man who was literally only wearing holly socks scurrying around, looking for food in trash cans as tourists strolled with their bags from Coach and Nordstrom. I wanted to shake these people -- look at this man! Give him some of your money! Food even! Some people just won't understand. Something that also bugs me is the lack of respect some people have for the homeless and even people with special needs. Just because someone is homeless does not mean they are diseased or they are any less than you; they just do not have a permanent home. The other week someone told me that homeless people are actually more wealthy than the average American -- most have 0 debt and look at how much debt the average American is, quite impressive, right?? Right now, I'm technically homeless (but not wealthy!). I'm staying in a house with friends and am not paying rent. I have no permanent address. We all need to be still for a moment and look around us and be thankful for what we have.

Last week I was really homesick and this past weekend I went to LA for a wedding. Although it was not necessarily the most enjoyable trip, I did have some time to escape and go to Rodeo Drive and buy some Georgetown Cupcakes. On the way back to San Francisco, we stopped at In-n-Out Burger (YUM!) and also passed a truck full of tomatoes and garlic or onions! The mountains here in California really need to not have grass - they should look to the state of Utah as a role model and get prettier. We also passed many farms on the way up Route 5 -- the trees and grapevines were almost too perfectly planted -- let them grow/roam free and wild!

Once I returned to San Francisco, I was frustrated and overwhelmed and I called my best friend since middle school and we talked for almost two hours. You really do find out who your true friends are when they will drop everything and talk with you when you are on the other side of the country, homesick, and can barely talk because you're so frustrated. 

Monday I was fortunate enough to get lunch with one of my cousins here in San Francisco - it was nice to get reconnected. This weekend I'm heading down to Anaheim for the Home & Garden show... next week I'm taking a road trip up to Portland/Seattle/Vancouver since they are shutting down the San Francisco Bay Bridge for 5 days to connect the new bridge to the old bridge. 

That's all for now.... thanks for all of your love and support!

Monday, August 12, 2013


We all have been them, but have we been obnoxious with our iPads? I once remember someone telling me that the way to tell if someone is a tourist in NYC is if they look up at the buildings. I have done everything in my power to not be a "tourist" and avoid the obnoxious ones at all costs, but yesterday, just when I thought I could avoid them, I was wrong.
I started my morning off by meandering my way down the street to a local bagel shop I stumbled upon last weekend (they make their own bagels) and also to my new favorite coffee shop -- I think it's called Webster's? At the bagel shop, I noticed they had chocolate chip bagels - I skipped them this week, but next week I'll definitely try one (if they have them!) with their strawberry cream cheese (yum!).  As I sat eating my bagel at the bagel shop, which is right next to a Starbucks, I realized how much people that go to Starbucks / chain coffee places make me mad. If you compare the waist line of someone that goes to Starbucks on a regular basis to a small coffee shop, you'll notice a stark contrast. I'm not saying Starbucks is bad and I won't talk to you if you go there (heck, I've been there a few times!), it's just frustrating to me that people will go to Starbucks when there is an amazing small, locally owned coffee shop right down the street! I guess some people just choose Starbucks because of the flavored drinks that no one else has... I'm just a black coffee or coffee with skim milk kinda girl.
After I had my coffee & bagel, I went to the farmer's market up the street and got some farm fresh strawberries (that weren't moldy! unlike the one's I've seen at all of the grocery stores around here...). Needless to say, great start to the morning!
I've wanted to go on an adventure for a while now - I definitely love traveling and since I "landed" in San Francisco, I've wanted to continue driving. I'm driving up to Seattle at the end of the month for a few days - and might even pop up into Vancouver. I have a friend who goes to Grad school in Boulder, so sometime this fall I'm planning on venturing to Salt Lake City and Boulder. With my trip home for the Baltimore Half and my trip to New York for the New York City Marathon, I'm not sure when I'll have time, but I'm sure I can make it work!
Anyways - all week I've been looking forward to this weekend, so I drove down to Salinas; the town John Steinbeck (my all-time favorite author) is from. I had a delicious tri-tip sandwich at the Salinas BBQ and then I moseyed through town. It was very relaxing and definitely a change of pace from the usual hustle and bustle of the office and city. I went into the John Steinbeck Museum ; wanted to go into his house but it closed at 3 and I got there at 4.
I was in a bookstore talking with the owner (who hitchhiked from Salinas --> NYC back in '72) and he recommended I drive to Monterey which was only ~20 miles away. It was definitely worth the drive! I stopped by Cannery Row (trying to avoid the tourists at the Fisherman's Wharf) ... got some delicious Ghiradelli Chocolate... and then was attacked my tourists. Well, they didn't LITERALLY attack me, but there were so many ... I tried to get out of there as soon as I could! I sat in traffic and then drove up the coast on CA 1 -- it was beautiful! Loved it. Would totally do it again. Anyways, yesterday was great. Ate good food, had a relaxing afternoon. Even started to read a new book last night -- "Call Me Zelda". Oh, and it hit me last night that I'm not at home ....
Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Three weeks & still "unpacking"

Since our Kickstarter campaign ended., I've had a little more down time which has given me time to reflect on my journey to the West Coast, about 3 weeks ago. I know I still have a lot of "unpacking" (literally and figuratively)  to do, but beginning my new life here on the West Coast is definitely something I've needed.

I don't think I realized how comfortable I had gotten in my life back home until just recently. I know I may have mentioned this in an earlier post (and I apologize if I did), but I needed this jostling , this new beginning. I remember the night I accepted my job out here for Earth Starter -- I was on the phone with Phil; I was in the parking lot of Harris Teeter across the street from the neighborhood and I was a little scared, and couldn't actually believe I agreed to take such a leap of faith - solo. I could barely sleep the nights leading up to my journey west, and the only time I have cried since I left home were when I entered into West Virginia (leaving Maryland) and when I watched "The Guardian" last night (haha!). Maybe I'm keeping emotions bottled up, but I don't think so.. I think I've finally gotten the independence that I've desired for so long. Yes, I had a lot of independence when I was at Maryland, but once I moved home after graduation I think I returned to the "comfortable" lifestyle that I had been living in since I was born. I still have no regrets for moving out here to California. Yes, I do miss my family and friends, but it's different...when I went off to college in Ohio or when my friends would go off to school goodbyes would suck, but when I left home to move West I was happy and anxious to begin this new chapter in my life. There are definitely challenges every day - like budgeting time for my runs, paying my phone bill, car & student loans, making sure I have enough money for food and "me" time... but I've been able to manage. I'm so thankful that I have such a rewarding job - I really enjoy the work that I'm doing and it's only going to get better with time. Thank you to everyone back home for your continued support!

I've finally gone through my notes from my cross country trip. In a span of 7 days I drove over 5,000 miles, through 13 states. The shortest route from home to where I am now was 2,795 miles, but I chose the longer, more southern route. I'm so glad I stopped in New Orleans on the way! I spent over $600 on gas, and have now been to 32 states. Utah has the prettiest license plates, and Bryce Canyon is still my favorite place of my entire trip. Texas was a really big state...loved the openness, maybe I'll move there when I'm old?  Some other towns I enjoyed were Harlingen, Memphis, and Cuervo, Texas. Next time I drive cross country, I definitely want to drive more of Route 66. I would recommend the Southern Route to everyone and I would do it again and again and again!  I feel like I could probably ramble on forever about my trip.. and in future posts I will... but here is it in short:

When someone asks me about my trip, this is what I tell them:
Charleston, Nashville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Houston, Mexico, Austin, Crawford, Albuquerque, Four Corners, Bryce Canyon, Mesquite (Whoops!), Zion, North Rim, Las Vegas, San Francisco

Tips for traveling cross country 
  1. Pack a separate bag of all of the clothes / everything you'll need for the week. Makes it SO much easier when you're stopping at a hotel for the night
  2. Time your bathroom and food stops for when you need gas. I was able to go almost half a tank without going to the bathroom... so I'd stop for lunch & bathroom & gas, if possible. If not, I would just stop for the bathroom & food. Tried to make my stops worth my time! I also discovered how indecisive I am when it comes to trying to find a place to eat food. Was kind of leary about stopping at a ma and pa place because I didn't want to just eat fried food the whole way across the country
  3. Pack a case of water - I went through a whole case of water and then some over the whole week... I'd recommend also keeping snacks in the passaanger seat ... but make sure they are healthy. Have some good snacks too :) Oreos are the best! Easy grab foods :)


  • Gas really isn't that much more expensive than home. It's about $3.90. What's it like back at home?
  • Strawberries are not in season here
  • Driving ... heard songs that reminded me of times past.. not necessarily a bad thing , but man, wish I could just erase some memories
  • California really isn't that much different than the East Coast ... Safeway & Trader Joes are huge out here and Oakland is just as bad as Baltimore (hon!)...there is definitely a variety of places to eat out at and the food is DELICIOUS, I guess it's because SF is a big city so it's probably pretty comparable to DC
Well that's all for now... until next time, ta ta for now!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Palo Alto & Mountain View

Our Kickstarter campaign ended Wednesday (we shattered our goal - we were hoping for $70,000 and we got $107,000!), so I took yesterday off. It was nice to have some me time. I went on a nice mid-morning run, ending at a local coffee shop, and had an interview at a local running specialty store to have some spending money. I find out next week if I get the job! 

I decided to go on an adventure and was in search of a mall, so I headed south. I stopped at Southland Mall (which is the equivalent of Security Square Mall) and then headed to Palo Alto & Mountain View. I drove through Facebook & Google's campuses  -- that area of California is my new favorite area. I LOVE the views. If I worked at Google, I don't think I'd ever get any work done because I would just play volleyball and eat fresh fruit from their gardens all day. I have connected with the Director of Dining Services down at Google, so hopefully we can work with them to get Nourishmats on their campus. If not, at least a good conversation will come out of it!

This weekend I'll be "house-hunting"....I'm trying to stay in the Oakland/Alameda/Berkley areas...we will see how that goes!

More thoughts later.


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