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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reflection on 2014

I know this is a few weeks early, but when you're in the mood to blog, you're in the mood to blog!

When I wrote this post last December, I was sitting at home with my parents and younger brother. I was working two jobs and only had two days off between October 5 and January 15; Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day. I was able to pay my bills, but there was no way I would be able to pay for a place of my own. Right after I wrote the post last year, I met with my friend who had moved to Seattle that past April. He told me it was the land of opportunity... so I went to my manager at Lululemon and asked if I could transfer out to a store in Seattle. We made it happen! Luckily it wasn't as sudden as my move to San Fran; I had about two weeks to say my goodbyes. The move out to Seattle was definitely not nearly as stressful and painful as the move to San Francisco, but I honestly wasn't sure how long I would be out here.

It was definitely challenging when I first got to Seattle to make ends meet, but somehow I did it. I was working 3 jobs at one point, but was able to keep myself motivated and continued to apply for better jobs. After 9 months at Lululemon, I hung up my hat and moved on to Zillow. It was pretty crazy to say goodbye to a company and coworkers that I loved, but they were my support system when I needed them and it was my time to move on. When I was first offered the position at Zillow, I don't think there were words that could describe how excited I was. Overall, it has been an incredible experience - it's pretty cool to work for a company where you can tweet to the CEO or shoot him an email and he responds within 5 minutes. What a great guy! I definitely have learned a lot and been pushed in ways that have forced me to learn more about myself, but it's so worth it!

Earlier in the year, I got injured when I overdid my running, so I've kind of laid off on the whole running thing. I know I have been a huge runner for the past 9 years, but sometimes things in your life change and you just find other things that you are passionate about. I ran the NYC Marathon again and loved it; I will totally do that race every year that I get accepted into it. I am thinking of holding off on other races, unless they are 5ks, just because they are more fun :). Once I got to Seattle, I have really fallen in love with yoga. I haven't been going as regularly as I used to, but I have picked up skiing and can't wait to go again!

The coolest part about the past year? Meeting the guy of my dreams. If you go back to my January 19th post, you'll see a picture of us - I was his +1 for the Amazon company party that I went to the night I arrived in Seattle. We started dating early this summer and it has been nothing but bliss. It's pretty cool to find someone who inspires you to be better every day and is always there cheering for you; whether you're running a marathon in New York or land a HUGE sale. We have taken so many fun trips this year - and I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 TCS NYC Marathon

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted! Boy does time fly.

I ran the NYC Marathon 2 weeks ago and after having some time to unwind, I decided it was time to post about it, so here we go....

My weekend began when Ryan picked me up to take me to the airport early Friday morning. It was probably 5am and we were both still half asleep -  why is it so hard to get up to go to work and so easy to get up to go to the airport? After saying goodbye and going through security, I boarded my plane and off I went to NYC! I fell asleep before we even took off - I never seem to have a problem sleeping on planes.

It was weird landing in NYC considering 75% of my clients are on Long Island and I know that area by zipcode and by the map - not by the trees and houses. Anyways, I flew into JFK and then took the train downtown to go to the expo. I ran into a few of my running buddies - one of them is a former Saucony rep - it's always so great to catch up with people who you share something in common with that you value so much. After I got my bib, I headed to the Port Transit Bus Authority Terminal to board the dreaded 107 to Newark, where my hotel was. I decided to stay in Newark because it was cheaper and I had no idea how sore I would be Monday morning when I woke up to fly back to Seattle. Let me tell you - it's a pain to get to. With all of the money I spent on transit into and out of NYC, I basically would have spent the same amount on a hotel in Manhattan! The initial bus ride to Newark was MISERABLE. To start, I got on the bus and a lady got mad that my bag was hanging over the seat divider so she shoved my bag up against the wall, spat on me, and insisted on sitting next to me. It was awful. Eventually, I made it to my hotel.

Saturday morning I woke up and it was POURING cats and dogs and it was about 39 degrees. It was SO cold. I took the train into the city and braved the cold and wind to do some much needed shopping - and then it hit me mid-afternoon...I'M RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON TOMORROW MORNING! I did panic a little bit, but I was able to calm down. I wound up going to the same place for dinner in Lincoln Center that I went last year and took the train back to Newark.


Since it as the end (or beginning?) of Daylight Savings Time, I panicked that my alarm wouldn't go off or my phone alarm would get all messed up because I had been having issues with my phone, but luckily it did go off on time (4:30). I got up, got dressed, hopped on the shuttle to the train station, and then took the train into Penn Station, where I hopped on the Subway down to the Staten Island Ferry. I met a girl on the way into the city who was my age and was running her first marathon that day. It helped a ton talking to her and giving her pointers for the race since I ran it last year.

We eventually got on the ferry and headed to Staten Island. Boy was it chilly!! It seemed like the bus took FOREVER to get to Fort Wadsworth - maybe there was more traffic this year? I wound up waiting around a little longer than last year outside before the start, but I found a black trash bag that I wore to keep the wind off. They had to move the start of the wheelchair race to Brooklyn because the winds were 40+ mph on the Verazzano Narrows Bridge and I guess they didn't want the wheelchairs blowing off! The windchill was in the upper teens at the start - it was pretty brisk, but once I made it into Brooklyn, it really wasn't all that bad and I warmed up a little bit. I wound up wearing a long sleeve and windbreaker the whole time.

The race was much easier this year - having run the course last year definitely helped. Last year my back cramped up around mile 18...this year it didn't happen until mile 23 and I was able to power through. Maybe it was because of all of the yoga and physical therapy and chiropractor visits? I think I was definitely more relaxed this year. After I finished, I grabbed my medal and headed back to the hotel.

Running a marathon is such a humbling experience. People have asked me if I will continue to run, or will this be my last one? My answer is pretty simple: I will run the NYC Marathon every year I get into it. I know I need to focus on my training more - this year I didn't do the best, but I wasn't trying to qualify for Boston in this race. One day down the road I would love to qualify for Boston. Not sure exactly when that will be, but it's definitely one of my lifetime goals. I have to give up a lot to focus on the intense training for that, and I'm not quite there yet.

In the "off-season" I'm going to focus on staying healthy and in shape. Hoping to take up skiing - another one of my lifelong goals that I haven't been able to do because I've been training for a race or there hasn't been enough snow.

Thank you so much for your continued support - you know who you are!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never forget

Okay, so I'm going to admit, I hate blogging about controversial topics because I'm always going to ruffle someone's feathers. Even if I have a disclaimer at the beginning, middle, and end, someone out there is still going to get their panties in a bunch about something I say. So here is your fair warning; you can stop reading now if you want!

September 11, 2001.
A day we will never forget.

I remember going to school (I was in 5th grade at the time) and we were in home room when there was an announcement made over the intercom. Our teacher told us that something really bad happened close to us and they had to send us all home. Our parents could come pick us up, and whoever was left was going to be sent home on the bus. They wouldn't tell us anything other than the fact that whatever this terrible thing was, it might happen again.

Two days prior, my family and I had toured the White House. It was an amazing tour, led by our neighbor who was in the Secret Service. I remember how majestic it was walking through the halls of such great leaders. Little did I know that the ability to go on a tour of such a great and historic building would be forever changed two days later.

Since my sister was in the local private school, my mom picked her up and I had to take the bus home. I remember walking up the driveway and thinking it was so weird that my dad was home so early in the day. We also live next to a major interstate, and I just remember it being dead silent. As a 5th grader, I'm surprised I realized that silence.

I walked into the house and turned the corner into the living room and saw our brand new, big screen TV replaying the footage of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93. My entire family was sitting on the couch, Mom crying, Dad just sitting there in shock, Monica twirling her hair, and Chris was probably playing with his Tonka truck. It was so weird. I asked what happened, were they watching a movie? "No," my dad said. "Some very mean people did a terrible thing to our country today." I donn remember much from that day except being very scared that something bad was going to happen to me.

I think every kid at the time was worried; schools were at risk, who knows what your bus driver really did when you were in school, etc etc. When we returned to school, it was heart wrenching to hear about my classmates who lost cousins, loved ones, even parents in those tragic events. We had to do something to move on. During that time I'm pretty sure everyone was much more patriotic than they were today. I know my yearbook picture has me wearing an American flag around my neck. "My Country Tis of Thee" was our song in chorus. The year went on, people started to get angry.

The next year I was walking home from the bus (I was now middle school). I had just found out my baby cousin Bridgit was born, and that we declared a War on Terror. I wasn't sure exactly what it meant, but I knew we were going to go find the bad guys. Years past, and there wasn't much progress that I heard about.

Fast forward a few years, to my time at the University of Maryland, and I remember sitting on our couch in Parkside surfing Facebook like every other college kid was doing at the time. I remember hearing one cheer and then all of a sudden my News Feed blew up with statuses saying that "Osama is dead!". I was so excited and in shock that I didn't know what to do. That was the first time I found out about some major news event via Facebook. Friends were partying down at the White House, but I was too exhausted to metro down there.

So here we are, September 11, 2014. 13 years later and the one day is as fresh in my mind as ever. How do I feel about it? Sad that such a terrible thing happened, but glad with the progress we as a country have made. We had lost so much trust in others right after 9/11 that it was hard to even trust your neighbor sometimes, but we have prevailed.

Everyone talks about how bad war is and how cruel it is. I leave those decisions up to the elected officials I vote for every November. If you aren't happy with how the country is being run, vote for who you think will do a better job, don't sit back and complain. People hate on Bush and Obama; just remember that everyone has their strengths! Some are better at leading a country in a time of crisis than others. Just keep that in mind. God help us if I were to ever become President. If I got stressed out, I would call up Ben & Jerry and Top Pot founders to ask them for advice. Just give the elected officials a break and be thankful that you have the opportunity to voice who you want to lead your country, even if you don't like who ultimately gets elected.

What it really comes down to is we are able to walk down the street wearing whatever we want, listening to whatever music we want, and eating wherever we want. We have that power to chose. It could have all been taken away from us on 9-11, but it wasn't. Just remember that.

Hug someone you love, listen to some country music, and salute the flag. We've come out in one piece, America, and let's be proud of it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2 weeks.

In two short weeks, I will begin on a new adventure as an Inside Sales Rep for Zillow! Words cannot begin to describe how thrilled I am to start on this new journey. When I found out I was accepted for the position, it was one of those “if-the-tree-falls-in –the-forest-alone-does-anyone-hear-it-fall”….I was laying in my bed, just having awoken from a nap on a rainy morning and I had a missed call from a Seattle area number. I called them back and they offered me the job – I yelped with excitement…. but then realized I was the only person in my apartment. Although I may have been all alone, I knew there were so many people that were cheering for me out there in the world – my family back in Maryland and my friends all over. I did it. I got that big kid job that I’ve always wanted!

Since I accepted the job offer, I’ve reflected a lot on the past 18 months; since I graduated from college. I would never have guessed as a freshman in college (who had their heart set on being a cardiothoracic surgeon at the time), that I would be working at a running store after graduation, or moving to San Francisco, or moving to Seattle. I always imagined myself living close to home and being around my family all the time. Well, my “story” changed, and I am 100% a-okay with that.

The first 6 months after graduation were mediocre. I lived at home and had a fun job at a local running store. Month 6 is when it started to get tough; student loans kicked in and I was moving out to San Francisco with a 4 day notice. Months 6-11 were probably the most frustrating. I had moved cross country to work for a startup where I was promised one thing, and reality was completely different. It sucked. So I moved home and fell back into the life I was living before I moved to SF; something I was more comfortable with. I returned to working at the running store and picked up a job at Lululemon Athletica, which has been one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve had in my life. I have worked with and met some incredible people. The team that I worked with back in Maryland was that loving and caring group that I needed when I had just moved back home from San Francisco. My interview with them was literally the day after I got home from my cross country drive, and emotions were running high. Through my vision and goal setting, I was able to make moves and venture out to Seattle, in hopes of pursuing my long-term goal of working for Lululemon or Patagonia in their Corporate Social Responsibility department.

The team out here in Seattle has been unbelievable; they are some of my best friends. They have made me feel at home when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. When I had $1.50 to my name until my next paycheck, they were the ones that bought me a cup of coffee. When my grandfather passed away, they were the shoulder I cried on. They have taught me to be okay with feedback, and how to grow from it (good or bad J). I have never worked for a company where management has been so onboard with your hopes, dreams, and aspirations that they are literally cheering you on every step of the way. As my time comes to an end at Lululemon, I am so SO incredibly thankful for the experiences and growth that I have had since I began. I have had so much personal growth since I first started, but just as I got comfortable back home, it’s my time to move on.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let It Go

Aparigraha... known by yogis as "non-grasping" or "letting go".

As one of my favorite yoga teachers recently said in our Groovin' Flow class, "We have to go to yoga class with no expectations. When we have no expectations for ourselves, all we can do is surprise ourselves."

I found that from the time when I first started practicing yoga, I would always get so frustrated in class. I would always be comparing myself to others in class and would get even more frustrated when I couldn't do certain poses. Well, as a Bikram instructor pointed out this week, everyone's body is different and some may be able to hold certain poses better than others. If your hip has been misaligned since birth, there's no point in beating yourself up over a pose heavily involving hips and balance. As a runner, I find myself a lot tighter than my classmates, but after going to class 3+ times a week I have noticed a huge difference in my running and my recovery. I've learned to "let go" in class and not grasp on to the fact that I might not be able to do a pose in class today, but accepted that tomorrow or next week I might be able to.

Just like in yoga, we have to live our lives with Aparigraha always in mind. If we are living a life where we are grasping onto things (material or not, like relationships, etc), how are we truly going to enjoy life? When I made my first cross country move last summer, I obviously had to declutter my life - of stuff and of "fake friends". Although it may have sucked at the time, being able to let go of grudges that were held or clothes that I hadn't worn in years, I am so much happier now. I really don't own much, and I'm pretty happy about that. I've learned that true happiness is achieved with people and yourself and not with material goods - I'm glad I've gotten there! (Even though a cupcake doesn't hurt every now and then ;)).

So as Idina Menzel sings in Frozen..."Let it Go"....


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Growing through Yoga

I don't know where to begin. I have had two amazing experiences with yoga this week. The first was during Savasana at The Grinning Yogi in Capitol Hill (taught by Jamie Silverstein) and the second was at the Sweatbox in Capitol Hill (taught by Laura).

We all struggle with different things. Some people have bad body image problems, some have low self confidence, others have eating disorders...the list goes on and on.

      For me, I think one of my biggest struggles is accepting that we are all yogis, even me. I always felt like I grew up as that tall and awkward girl. I remember in basketball I was always the tallest girl on my team and couldn't pull off the "cute" that the shorter girls could pull off. I was the middle child growing up, too, so I always tried to be different from my sister, but sometimes that came back and bit me in the butt when I would get in trouble. I think I spent more time in the principal's office in elementary school than I spent in class. I would go home and cry because I had no friends and that I didn't fit in. My parents never pulled the pity party thing that some parents do - they taught me at a pretty young age that when you fall down, you get up, brush yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward. In middle school I didn't really have that many friends either (I switched from public school to private school in 5th grade, so that transition, along with going to middle school really sucked). I decided in 8th grade that I was tired of not having friends, so I made the switch back to private school (this time an all-girls Catholic school that had been around since the mid-1800s).

     High school is where I learned to not care what others thought of me. I remember running for freshman class president and spending hours on crafting the perfect speech to present to my class of 115 girls; it had all of the talking points for someone running for the President of the United States, but I can tell you now, probably 90% of my class slept through the whole speech. Needless to say, I lost, and was heartbroken. I couldn't believe that my classmates wouldn't elect me. Well, I discovered that it was all about who you knew, and not what you knew. After that one awful experience, I wiped my tears and ran for Student Council 5 more times -- losing every time except for the last time; Senior Class President, I won. I'm pretty sure my campaign was "Vote for Maria, the giraffe". Quite the change from my campaign strategy as a freshman! I must say, I made some of the best friends in high school. I only keep in touch with a handful, but it's so great to know that they are always there for me, no matter what struggles I may have. In high school, I was also very involved with the Youth Group at my church. That's where I really made my closest friends and also found my first love - fair trade.
   College was interesting, too. I learned towards the end of freshman year that if you are close minded, you are going to be miserable. The more I got involved with groups and causes I was passionate about, the more I gained my independence and found true happiness. One winter break I decided to go to Bikram Yoga, and that basically changed the rest of my life.

    Before my first Bikram Yoga (which was at Bikram Yoga Columbia, taught by Kat), I had never had a place in my life where I was 100% calm and at peace. For me, peace had been when I was asleep. If I had even 5 minutes in my day that weren't jam packed with things to do, I would freak out. I had always thought yogis were kind of weird - hippie like, even. They smelled like incense, went to acupuncture, wore stretchy pants, liked to sweat, only used Dr. Bronner's if and when they did decide to shower, had dreadlocks, didn't shave, ate granola every day, and went to crazy small coffee shops (kind of like the one I'm in now...).. you get what I'm saying. Well..... I guess I'm a yogi. Now, if I don't have quiet time each day, I feel out of wack. I enjoy long, peaceful walks, eating granola and locally roasted coffee for breakfast, go to yoga on a pretty regular basis. Yoga has kept me sane. I definitely felt awkward in the first few classes I went to, but now I have gained full confidence and enjoy being in a 107 degree room dripping in sweat for 90 minutes, staring at myself in a mirror as we go through the poses. One day I wouldn't be opposed to going to Bikram Yoga Instructor training, either. If you had asked me when I first started if I would be interested, I would have laughed in your face. With all of the ups and downs over the past few years, yoga, Bikram in particular, has really been one of the consistent things in my life. I love how I can go to any studio anywhere in the world and go to the very, same (but different) class. Thank you Bikram, you really have saved my life.

          Now, here I am, 22 years old, sitting in a local coffee shop in my new home - Seattle. If you asked me a year ago, I would never in a million years have guessed I would have done so much in the past year that I have done. I have worked my butt off and never have gotten paid, moved to a different city and had to move back home, made friends and drifted away from some, gone to yoga and fallen out of poses, run the New York Marathon...the list goes on and on. I am so thankful for everyone that has been so supportive of me and my adventures - it means the world to me. Until next time - Namaste. xo

Friday, January 24, 2014

First week in Seattle

This week has been full of apartment hunting...work...sleep...and sweat.

I've been staying with one of my friends for the past week as I've apartment hunted. My goal is to stay in the Capitol Hill area; I have discovered that if I travel too far down Madison, it gets kinda grungy. Of course, the grungier and closer to the city you get, rent skyrockets. I found a cute studio apartment with a built-in Murphy Bed, so I'm hoping that will work out...we shall see!

I was fortunate to be able to pick up some shifts  as soon as I got out here, so I've been working between two lululemons this week. Both crews are unique and wonderful! After tonight, I will have been to all four lululemons in the area -- hopefully I'll be able to venture up to the outlet and Vancouver sometime in the near future.

I mentioned I've been sweating ... well maybe just 4 times this week, but 3 of those times were in a span of 24 hours. The other day I went for a quick 3 mile run just to check out the area -- can I say hilly?! Last night I went to CrossFit for the first time, as well as sculpt yoga (basically hot yoga, but with weights). Then I went to a spin class this morning. Let's just say my whole body hurts right now and I could barely lift my arms to put a coat on this morning!! I definitely want to go back to CrossFit...the yoga, that's a different story. I'm not the biggest fan of Vinyasa, and the weights just kept falling, and people kept grunting and breathing super loud (one of my biggest pet peeves). The spin class this morning at 7am definitely woke me up, and it's nice because I've been able to lounge around all morning and  not that much of the day has passed!

I did some exploring after spin today and poked in the Pike Place Market and saw them tossing fish - how cool! Of course, it was before 9am so there was almost no one there, but that is the time to go! It reminded me of all of the other markets - like the market in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Broad Street Market in Philly, Lexington Street Market in Baltimore....the list goes on and on. I also popped in to the oldest Starbucks - it's pretty small. I already had my cup of coffee and a delicious waffle for breakfast, so I just bought a coffee cup. Now I just have to find a place to live so I can use it there!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 4: Billings, MT to Seattle, WA

I did it!!! I made it to Seattle! It's kind of funny because I feel like I didn't really drive that far (even though it took me four straight days of driving)... it honestly felt more like I was driving my car on a treadmill for four straight days (haha!).

I left my hotel yesterday morning in Billings, MT (the area smells really bad, just in case you were wondering), and went to the Cracker Barrel right down the street where I had the best blueberry pancakes that I've had in FOREVER and they even put peaches on top- it was the next best thing to heaven! I then hit the road...

The drive wasn't too boring yesterday-- I must say though, the drive between Missoula, MT and Coeur D'Alene was pretty hair raising. Just imagine driving through the mountains (so beautiful) but it had just snowed about two feet the night before so where there wasn't snow, there was melted snow that was actually ice. You want to slow down but you can't because there is a car on your tail and you can't switch lanes because then you'll be driving in ice/snow-- ahh!

I wound up stopping in Coeur D'Alene for a late lunch (it was BEAUTIFUL) and then got gas for $2.77! Onward to Seattle ! It was crazy because it's so humid that the water droplets froze midair so it looked like there was snow on all of the trees, but it was just frozen water . It was also super foggy for the majority of the last leg of my drive, but I arrived in one piece and can't wait to get my life started out here!

As soon as I arrive (7pm), one of the guys I'm staying with had a work party to go to and they just invited me as I walked through the door, so I put on my sparkly shoes and headed out the door. Turns out one of the guys works for Amazon and the other works for Microsoft... And we were going to the Amazon post-holiday party at the Seahawks stadium.

Wowee! That's all there is to say. There was SO much food, so many drinks, Vampire Weekend took the stage at 10pm, and the place was PACKED! Of course, I ran into someone I knew who graduated from Maryland this past May. What a small world!

We came back, and I fell asleep within 20 minutes of walking in. I can barely lift my arms today because I think all of the driving has finally caught up with me. Thank goodness I'm on this big, comfy cozy couch for a while. Go Seahawks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:E Denny Way,Seattle,United States

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day 3: Sioux Falls to Billings, MT

Am I there yet? Some people are extremely annoying and tick me off.

Today was a mostly bitter day but was sweet when I saw Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse! I did pass over the "Crazy Woman River" and was wondering if they named it after me? Ha!

I woke up and went to a DELICIOUS bagel shop in Sioux Falls. I then realized that Iowa was only a stone's throw away, so I did some off-roading and got there!

I then began the long drive to Mt. Rushmore.

I don't journal or write my thoughts and reflections down, except for when I'm blogging and I write it on my blog. One of my good friends at work wrote in a reflection journal every day for a year. If I did that, I couldn't imagine going back and reading everything and seeing some of the crazy thoughts I had! So when I'm not blogging, I just keep everything in my head, and when something (or someone) irritates me, I'll bring it to my full attention to resolve it. On my 13+ hour drive today, here were some of my reflections...

1. Oh my god there are some utterly obnoxious people in this world. I feel like everything they do is just for the approval from others. Seriously? Grow up! I can tell you right now that your friendships will probably not last long if this is you. Just sayin. Also, we are all different and have our own individual and unique gifts and talents, so embrace it!
2. I need to do a better job of keeping toxic people out of my life.
3. Although some long time friends drift away, it's important to just let whatever is going to happen, happen. The worst thing someone can do is fight with themselves to get something to work (relationships), even if they know it probably won't work out. What a waste of time!
4. I'm very happy I'm blazing a new trail and moving to Seattle, even with all of the uncertainty that may come with it.
5. Okay this one is a biggie, I never thought I'd say this, but if I could live in the woods in a cabin with just my role models (so maybe 4 people total) and never interact with a human being another day of my life (except for them), I'm okay with that.
6. I want to marry a farmer or a country bumpkin.

The end.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:I-90 E,Billings,United States

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 2: Chicago to Sioux Falls

I woke up this morning and realized I had an awesome dream and wanted to run downstairs and tell my parents... and then I realized I was in Chicago at my friend's and not home. Yes, I cried a little, but then got my day started and off I went!

I grabbed a box of instant coffee packets from Starbucks because I knew I had a long day ahead of me and wasn't sure if I was going to be in the middle of nowhere or not! It then took me 2 HOURS to get out of Chicago! Rush hour traffic there is awful. The roads are HUGE like Houston and the drivers are all insane. I think they should stick to riding the "L".

My dad called me to warn me about blizzard conditions in Minnesota and he gave me alternative directions, but I wound up just driving to Minnesota because I saw blue skies ahead and thought "what could go wrong?". Well, as soon as I saw snowplows and salt trucks in Wisconsin, I knew I was in trouble!

Well then it turned to this....
(Really high winds and snow blowing across the road)

And then it turned to this...
(Whiteout conditions)

It was pretty scary because you'd go from being able to see everything to being in a white tunnel of snow . That's when I decided it was time to get off the road.

I had lunch in Wisconsin and was looking forward to having dinner in Sioux Falls-- until the road was closed! It turns out there was a 20 car pileup earlier in the day and the road had been closed for 3 hours! I got gas and they had opened the road back up when I was done. I got to Sioux Falls and decided to call it a night because the roads were so hairy and they had closed I-90 west of Sioux Falls and all of the overhead road signs said "treacherous conditions- travel not advised". I was kind of bummed I couldn't make it to Rapid City, but I think it's for the better. 5 more hours of driving in this weather would have sucked.

I don't think they actually have paved roads here - I think they are all made out of snow! There is so much snow that you can't see pavement, they have big bulldozers plowing the streets, and businesses have shut down! I must say that the Walmart was open and talk about an interesting crowd haha. I was bummed that the Barnes and Noble was closed because I finished my book on "tape" today (Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point") and don't have another one and I'm only halfway across the country! I guess I'll swing by tomorrow on my way out or just buy one on my phone.

Tonight I'm just relaxing- I was thinking about going to the movies but that requires me going out in the cold so I think I'm just going to lay low and hit the hay early!

Hopefully my car starts tomorrow!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:W 8th St,Sioux Falls,United States

Day 1: Flight 93 Memorial, Cleveland, and Chicago

This morning, once my parents left and my brother went to school, it hit me that I was actually leaving. I teared up a little, packed a few last minute things, and was on the road at 7am.

It was super foggy when I first left, but I made pretty good time! Once I got to Pennsylvania, I saw signs for the Flight 93 Memorial so I decided to check it out. It was 30 miles out of my way, but it was totally worth it.

I was the only person there besides the Park Ranger (it is a National Park), and it was cold! The bathrooms there reminded me of the bathrooms in the Dominican Republic-- just holes in the ground!

I then headed to Cleveland to visit John Carroll University, where I spent my Freshman year of college.

It was weird being back in the area because I haven't been there in almost five years and so much has changed! There is even a lululemon right down the street, so I stopped by to check it out.

After grabbing lunch at Tommy's (a JCU favorite), I hit the road for Chicago!

The last time(and only time) I was in Chicago was my freshman year of college. I took the megabus from Cleveland to Chicago to visit a friend from high school. We had a dinner stop in Toledo and after we had left and were an hour west of Toledo, our bus driver got a call from dispatch that he had to turn around to get two people who he left behind at our dinner stop. It was extremely frustrating-- I wound up not getting in until like 1am! The trip was 6 hours! When I left Cleveland today, I thought it was going to take 6 hours, but (luckily) I didn't have any passengers I had to worry about leaving behind so I made it in 4-5hrs. My friend that I'm staying with took me to a great Italian place down the street for dinner. My observations of Chitown so far: craziest drivers I've ever seen, highways are huge like Houston, it's so cold it's like the Polar Vortex 24/7 and gas is expensive!

That's all for now! Off to South Dakota tomorrow!

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reflections the night before Cross Country Trip #3!

If you couldn't tell by the exclamation point in the title of this blog post, I'm STOKED! I am SO excited to go out to Seattle, you have no idea. Yes, I'm sad to leave my family, friends, and coworkers but it just feels so right.

A few months ago, as you may remember, I moved out to San Francisco to work for a startup. I was offered the position on a Tuesday, accepted it that Wednesday, and was driving cross country (solo!) just a few days later on that Sunday. The trip out was great, but once I got there, it wasn't as great as I had hoped it would be. The founders of the company I was working for got in a tiff and I wasn't really getting paid like my contract had originally said I would get paid, so I had to come home. It sucked. I felt broken, hurt, you name it. I was pretty bummed that I had to come back home, and wasn't sure if I would ever make it back out to the West Coast. I told myself on my drive back that I would try to get back out West around March. Then I thought about it a little more, and I convinced myself there was no way I'd be able to get back out within a year. To this day, I can't believe I sold myself short the night I told myself that.

I came home, started working at Charm City Run again and picked up a pretty awesome job at Lululemon Athletica. I was a little nervous at first about the job at Lululemon because I was so used to the family I had at Charm City Run and wasn't sure if I would really have a "family" at Lululemon, but oh my gosh, do I have a family there or WHAT! Every day that I've gone to work since I've gotten back from California, I've loved every minute of it and have never really felt like it was work -- it was more like "best friend time". In my interview at Lulu, they said that working around the holiday time is the best time .... and they nailed it! I can't believe how fast these past three months have flown by!! I have definitely made lifelong friends at both jobs. Last night I was driving home from my last shift at the Columbia Lululemon and it hit me - I really love everyone I work with. I feel like I have such a deep and unique connection with each person I work with--it's something I've never really experienced before. My coworkers always joke with me that I know everyone, so I'm excited to see who I run into as I trek cross country once again!

As my dad and I were talking last night, we both came to the realization that this is "THE move", like the one you always dream to take when you're a little girl -- chase your dreams kinda thing. I'm ready for an adventure!

Now to answer your questions....I'll be updating my blog each night as I make my way across the country, assuming that I have a reliable internet connection! Tomorrow I'll be leaving at 7am and eating lunch in Cleveland at one of my favorite restaurants from freshman year of college (I went to school up in Cleveland for one year before transferring to Maryland!) and then will be eating dinner / spending the night with one of my close friends from my first semester at UMD. Thursday my goal is to make it to Rapid City, SD. Friday I'll visit Mt. Rushmore and journey Westward -- the route I take all will depend on the weather at that point. I've never been to Montana and Idaho, so I plan to drive through them, but if the weather is too treacherous, I have plenty of room in my schedule to hang in a city for a few days if need be. Yes, I'll be driving by myself (it's the best and only way to do it!) and yes, I do have plenty of windshield washer fluid, gas money, and healthy snacks! (....well, except for the brownies that my friend Jenifer gave me!). I should be in Seattle by Saturday night, and will be staying with friends when I first get out there, and then I'll be finding a permanent address! WOOHOO!

Alright, that's all for now! Time to pack!!!!!


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