On How I Wish My Days Began…

In a perfect world, each of my mornings would go a little something like this…

I would wake up bright-eyed when my alarm sounds at 6:00am. I wouldn’t have to hit snooze even once. From there, I would go for a run or get in a little half hour workout, then hit the shower. I would proceed to have a cup of coffee and a healthy, filling breakfast; one of those enviable avocado toasts and all-natural yogurt parfaits that lifestyle bloggers post on Instagram. Upon finishing my breakfast, which would be eaten while reading the Skimm and catching up on social media, I would put on the outfit I had set out the night before and engage in some mindful meditation. This would be exactly what I needed to start my day and get to work early.

If only. Here’s a little bit of what actually happens…

My alarm goes off at 6:30am and I hit snooze about 15 times. I then look at my phone and realize I have a mere 45 minutes to get ready. This involves a 10 minute shower, followed by me hurrying downstairs to wolf down a bowl of cereal. If I’m really cutting it close I have to resort to bringing my breakfast to work with me. I throw on an outfit that involves zero creativity; usually some dress pants and a sweater or a dress if I REALLY don’t want to put anything together. Before running out the door I pour myself a to-go cup of coffee that I usually wait a little too long to drink, which has forced me to like lukewarm coffee.

For as long as I can I remember, I have been a night owl and not a morning person. My parents needed to give me multiple reminders to wake up during high school, and I would easily sleep until noon on the weekends. This improved slightly in college; I never missed an 8am class. That being said, I opted for my days to start with 10am classes whenever possible. The one thing about living in New York City that agreed with me was the later start to the day. Most of us walked into work between 9:30am and 10am.

Even as I have continued to mature into adulthood, my night owl ways have persisted and I have yet to become one of those people who isn’t phased by the morning. I keep a consistent bedtime and have established a fairly regular nighttime routine. I try to read before falling asleep to ease my mind for a restful night of sleep. I set an alarm for the morning with plenty of time to get ready when I actually wake up at the appropriate time.

And yet, waking up in the morning is still not something that comes easily to me. I so badly want to be that person that wakes up early enough in the morning to get in a run before work, but as that alarm goes off, my bed pulls me in deeper and my eyelids slowly fall as my hand hits snooze once again.

Each day I work to attain this ideal morning routine. Something about the idea of achieving it makes me feel like I would be a better person as a result, but perhaps deep down I know better than that. Each time I drift back to sleep and hit snooze, it’s like my body is saying, “nine more minutes, you know nothing will change.”

And perhaps there are bigger priorities to focus on. While my mornings may be hectic, my nights are where I feel most productive and relaxed. The serenity of a night run can match that of an early morning run. Producing a blog entry to unwind after a day of work tends to beat a morning of social media catch up for me.

The world is full of checks and balances. We need morning people and night people. And while I believe change is good when it moves you forward, my night owl ways continue to serve me well.

 

 

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On Words and Meaningful Things…

My trips home for the holidays usually end with my parents sending me home with personal belongings that have been taking up room in their house since I moved out five years ago. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas were no different when I brought home my beloved scrapbook that my mother made of the first 18 years of my life, and my senior yearbook.

I had my sights set on the yearbook since this past summer when I needed to recruit as many former field hockey players from my high school’s 2006 varsity team to attend a ceremony at last year’s homecoming game. Considering there were over 20 of us, and I certainly didn’t want to leave anyone out, this was a tall order. My senior yearbook would have been the perfect resource, but alas, it was at my parents’ house.

For some reason, even after I figured out all the players on the team from that year, I couldn’t wait to skim through the yearbook again, revisiting old memories through photos and trying to decipher all the inside jokes in my friends written messages. I finally got the chance to do it over Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t help but laugh at my 18-year-old self and everyone else in my class.

It wasn’t over my clothing choices, which were questionable at best throughout most of high school, or any stupid faces we made in our photos, or anything else like that. It was because of our senior quotes.

Let’s just focus on mine: “Life is notes underneath our fingers. We just have to figure out which ones make music.” – Jamie Foxx

For starters, I’m not even sure I got the quote right when I submitted it to the yearbook staff. I had hastily written the quote down when my Mass Media teacher had us watch Jamie Foxx’s episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, and I thought I had finally found an original quote that truly embodied my thoughts on the future. The Pisces in me has long been an idealist, and I had been raised to believe that I could achieve anything for which I worked hard. This was it. My quote. I was not going to have to resort to “In This Diary” by The Ataris (and thank god for that, because being an adult is exponentially more fun than growing up and I didn’t peak in high school).

I was so proud of this quote even beyond high school, and as I re-read it at my parents’ house, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and my ambitions. I wonder if others feel the same way about their quotes. Do they look back and think, “who the hell did I think I was?” Or perhaps they were one of the students that didn’t take it seriously, and wish they had? Did we truly think that we would look back on high school and think it was the “best days of our lives?”

Once I stopped laughing at myself, I actually began to look a little deeper at the situation. As someone who loves to write, I carefully choose my own words to convey my thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and more. As recently as last month, I have turned to others’ words and artistry to convey something for me when my own words failed. This isn’t all that easy – others’ words can be just as easily misinterpreted as our own. Perhaps another writer was willing to bare their soul more than we were, and in choosing their words over our own we are allowing them to show our vulnerability. It can be just as nerve-wracking to express ourselves in this manner, particularly when it’s plastered next to our picture, forever memorialized in a yearbook.

When I look back at our senior quotes through this lens, I don’t laugh at our naivety. I admire our ability, and even our courage, to use someone else’s words when ours were not enough (all of us except that one kid that quoted himself. I’m still laughing at him).

While I don’t think a senior quote is meant to set the tone for your future or be any sort of prediction for it, I’m starting to feel proud of mine again. In regards to my own life, the notes I initially chose didn’t create the song I’m currently living, but that’s okay. I still found a way to make music and I’m happy with where my life has taken me. The beauty of our world is that we’re able to try out different notes for different outcomes, until something feels right. It’s not always easy or fun, and it might not always make ends meet, but if it’s worth doing we should find a way to make work.

Even if I chose not to completely overanalyze this moment in my past, I now feel a little bad at laughing at my little ambitious past self. She thought she knew everything and that all she had to do to guarantee a job after college graduation was work two unpaid internships at the same time. It’s good to revisit that person through this quote to balance out how jaded adult life can make us feel. Over time I have learned to balance my idealist thoughts with the real-ness of the actual world around me, and I’m happy to have 18 year-old Brianne, with her Jamie Foxx quote, heavy side-parted bangs, and head-to-toe Delia’s looks to remind me to stay positive when the world gets a little too real.

On Things I’ve Done and Things to Come…

Fell off the wagon there for a bit. Never fear – I wasn’t in a bad place in life or anything, just needed a break from the routine 🙂

So let’s talk about the things I’ve been doing! As usual, I’m going to go over the media I’ve consumed since I last updated:

Television

And by television I mean Netflix. Season three of House of Cards was finished in just two sittings. That’s a new record for me – season two took three days. I loved it just as much as I’ve loved the other seasons and I’m excited (and terrified) to see what happens next.

I finished all the seasons of Parenthood that are available on Netflix and still love it. I’m hoping the final season is on Hulu or something (because I don’t steal media, y’all) because I’m really bad at waiting for these things to be made available.

Upon learning that I had seen almost all the Parenthood there was to be seen, I decided to start up Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. As a big fan of Tina Fey and Ellie Kemper, I had high expectations and they were exceeded! I laughed out loud so many times at this show, even more than I did during 30 Rock. That being said, if you’re not a 30 Rock fan you probably won’t be super into this – the pacing and writing are very similar and the nonsensical nature of 30 Rock is very much present in this one. Kemper is like Erin from The Office but older and smarter (believe it or not) as the titular character and her roommate, Titus, was probably my favorite part of the show.

The dude and I have been watching a lot of Adventure Time lately and it never fails to disappoint. We recently played Adventure Time Munchkin for the first time as well, and I think I enjoy it even more than regular Munchkin.

Books

I started a new book challenge through HabitRPG that’s a lot more robust than my initial one. I’m still trying to get 26 books in for 2015, but this list is much more than 26 so we’ll see if I can log even more! I finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and absolutely loved it – it’s incredibly well written and even those that aren’t interested in history can easily get sucked into it. At the same time, it’s so heartbreaking that I don’t think I could watch the movie based on it. I also finished California by Edan Lepucki and loved that as well. I needed something slightly lighter after Unbroken and was really into the dystopian setting of this one. The first half slowly draws you in and when you hit the turning point, you won’t be able to put it down.

I’m currently reading Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan and it’s compelling and terrifying all at once. As I’ve been reading it, I’ve thought, “Oh wow, I’ve caught myself doing that too…am I losing it?” But as I’ve read on and her condition worsens, it becomes clear that I am not. Told from Cahalan’s point of view that is often pieced together through doctor’s notes, first hand accounts by family and friends, and videos, it’s a unique look into what I think is a common fear of completely losing your mind.

Movies

I have seen two movies since I last wrote: the new Spongebob Squarepants movie and This is the End. As a 26-year-old, I preferred the former SO MUCH MORE than the latter. the Spongebob movie was a wonderful 90 minutes of nostalgia and cheap, childish laughs. This is the End felt like it was three hours long and Craig Robinson was its only saving grace.

Food

My week of Pinterest recipes was a hit! I unfortunately didn’t save the list of things that I made but most were very easy and will find their way into my “go-to meals.” I received two cookbooks for my birthday: the Runner’s World cookbook and Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead cookbook. I made my first RW recipe tonight: Southern Unfried Chicken. Having been a health nut in college – and a huge fan of Hungry Girl – I am quite familiar with “faux-frying,” or “baking” as most would call it. This recipe intrigued me because you marinate the chicken in a buttermilk and hot sauce marinade before breading it in a mix of bread crumbs and spices. It packed quite a bit of heat, and though I’m not fooling anyone in trying to pass baked chicken off as fried, it was really tasty without making me feel like crap for eating it. I haven’t tried anything from Ina’s book yet, but I think it will definitely come in handy when I host get-togethers!

What’s Coming Up

For starters, a whole bunch of weddings. Five weddings. I’m super excited for all of them. On top of that, I’ll be signing up for my fourth half marathon in about two weeks, so I’ve been trying to get myself a little healthier and perhaps even a little bit in shape before training starts. I have this awful habit of really letting myself go between major races and I blame most of it on winter (particularly this winter that was insanely cold).

I’ve also got a few trips planned to visit my parents, the dude’s parents, and maybe some distant friends here and there.

Basically, starting next month I am going to be pretty freaking busy. But I promise to make time to update here now and then. Thanks for following!

On Foods and Pins…

Like any basic white girl, I have an obsession with Pinterest. When I first got off the “waiting list” to have an account (is that a thing that even happens anymore?), I spent hours – HOURS – pinning everything I could in hopes that what I pinned would start to permeate into my own life. That’s probably what any pinner hopes for as they pin photos of beautiful, expensive kitchens, dream weddings filled with mason jars, and intense workouts that promise flat abs in just a week.

Yes, my Pinterest account includes all of these things, and I’m not ashamed of it. Yes, I have over 40 wedding pins and I’m not even engaged (though being in a five-year relationship does give me some reason to pin such things). My beauty boards feature long, Kate Middleton-esque hairstyles and the perfect smokey eye that I’ll never be able to use anywhere. My DIY board includes crafts I’ll never actually get around to doing – and most would probably end up as fodder for a “Pinterest Fails” blog anyhow.

But my food board…yeah my food board is pretty sweet. I recently realized that I had tons of recipes pinned and that I rarely ever tried any of them. Considering I have enough food smarts at this point to not be duped by a recipe that seems too good to be true, I have a lot of faith in my food board. When I made my grocery list last week, I decided it was time to tackle some of these recipes and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

Last week I started with a Spaghetti Squash Carbonara…and…ok so this one did not turn out as expected. First of all, we went shopping at Trader Joe’s and since spaghetti squash is not in season, it wasn’t in the store. So I decided to use the recipe and use regular pasta. And then as I read through the recipe I decided to find a different one and ended up with Tyler Florence’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara. I trust Tyler Florence. However, did you guys know that carbonara is actually kind of a difficult thing to make? I was less stressed out making chocolate zabaglione than I was making carbonara sauce. So after you cook some pancetta or bacon, you take it out and quickly saute some garlic in the fat, then you’re supposed to put the cooked spaghetti into this mixture, then add this raw egg and parmesan cheese mixture you’ve whisked together, all while cooking the eggs but not scrambling them. I didn’t trust myself to get the sauce cooked with the pasta in the pan first, so of course I threw the egg/cheese mixture in and my eggs partially scrambled. And then I added too much salt because I didn’t realize that the kosher salt I usually use had been replaced with a very fine sea salt. It’s the little things.

Regardless, we still ate the pasta and it was not the worst thing I ever made. This week has been a much bigger success so far.

After making a classic beef bourginion on Sunday that I can almost make in my sleep, I decided to try an easier recipe for Monday: Hoisin Shrimp. Trader Joe’s failed me again in not having hoisin sauce for this one, so I went with their Soyaki sauce because I know it’s good. After whisking together the sauce the recipe laid out, I wasn’t happy with the sweetness of it, so I added a pinch of brown sugar to it and a dollop (like, the most dollop-y dollop that’s ever dolloped) of barbeque sauce to it. It was delicious. I regret nothing. And really, if you know me and followed my old food blog from college and beyond, me having to substitute a bunch of things in a recipe should come as no surprise.

Tonight, I opted for BLT Salads from my favorite food blog, How Sweet It Is. I ended up using spring mix in place of butter lettuce because, yes, Trader Joe’s didn’t have butter lettuce. And in typical avocado fashion, the avocado I bought for this recipe went bad by the time I wanted to use it today. Avocado is the most fickle of fruits. I kept everything else the same and devoured this salad. Then again, I’ll pretty much find anything delicious if it has bacon in it.

Tomorrow night’s Pinterest recipe will be Easy Lemon Chicken, which I plan on serving up with some asparagus (because I’m desperate for spring) or some broccoli. Or who even knows. It does look pretty easy, and I was actually planning on making it tonight, but I tried to thaw my chicken the way you’re “supposed to” (in the fridge) and I put it there last night and it still wasn’t ready at 6pm tonight.

Anyhow, if you guy are pinners as well and want to see what kind of life I wish I lived and all the projects I wish I had the energy and skills to take on, you can follow me here 🙂

And not to be all Livejournal-y, but I listened to Songza’s Vintage Rock Instrumentals playlist while writing this, and I recommend it if you’re looking for something a little different while trying to be creative.

On that Marathon I Ran…

In a few weeks, I’ll be signing up for my fourth half marathon: the 2015 GORE-TEX Half Marathon. I haven’t been running much since December – I set out to complete the Runner’s World running streak that starts on Thanksgiving and ends on New Year’s Day…and when I got let go five days into that, I lost a lot of motivation. On top of that have been some Nor’easters and wind chill advisories and needless to say, my motivation has decreased even more. I’ve been doing some workouts at home and trying not to be incredibly lazy in the meantime.

While getting my calendar set to sign up and start training, I’ve been reflecting on the races of the past. Last October I ran my first full marathon: the Marine Corps Marathon. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and the training certainly wasn’t easy either. I’ve probably mentioned it on here before – I didn’t train as well as I should have – before the training started I made a major move, changed jobs, then moved to a new apartment, took trips home and away…and yeah, training took a backseat.

I felt so unprepared going into the marathon, but my dad was running it with me and he stayed with me the entire time. I really could not have done it without him. When I was pretty much done at mile 15, he kept me going. When I started getting emotional at mile 25, he was right there. A great dad can really help you make up for some crappy training.

And you know, I was sort of due for the crappy training. I ran three half marathons prior to the full and my training for each was awesome. Particularly the training for the most recent half.

Living alone in the city, training was something that kept me going in a life that was pretty lonely. I signed up for the Hudson Mohawk Half Marathon – a great, flat course – and set out to finish in under two hours. My goal was simply 1:59:59, and I trained on the hilly trails of Central Park to help me accomplish that. And I ran so hard! SO HARD. I finished in 1:56:23 and sobbed as I crossed the finish line. Of course, I had told my family that if I ran it in under two hours I would train for a full next, and then I had to follow through on that.

I went through a period of feeling worthless during my unemployment, and as I was cleaning my apartment one day during that time I came across those race medals. Looking at the medals and remembering all the hard work I put into earning them and how difficult these accomplishments were, it reminded me that no one is worthless. Everyone has someone to offer. Just because one person has something against you doesn’t mean that everyone will overlook how hard you’re willing to work toward something.

As I approach the registration date for this next race, I’m excited to start my training in a great state of mind. I’m no longer running to be distracted, I’m going to be running because it’s something I love to do. At this time, I’m planning on just doing the run and having fun, but I know once training starts my competitive spirit will kick in and I’ll be looking to beat that 1:56;23 🙂

On Taking a Week Off…

Right after I write a post about how well I’m doing on this habit stuff…I go ahead and let it lapse for a week.

And that’s ok! Because I did some pretty nice and productive things during that week! Here’s a little bit of what went down.

The dude was out of town on a work trip last week and I made it a point to make the house as clean as possible for his return. Over the course of three days, I took on two rooms a day and made them as spotless as I could. It gave me one extra day to do little fix ups here and there as necessary. If you know me, you know that I have this problem where I hate to clean but I also hate feeling cluttered, so though I had to drag myself to actually get the cleaning done, there was a nice sigh of relief after it was finished. My goal is to keep this level of cleanliness going for the next three weeks before my parents come to visit. We shall see how that goes!

I also found some great Netflix fare to reward myself for being an awesome girlfriend that cleans an entire apartment all on my own. I finally watched Chef, which was recommended to me at least a month ago, and if you’re a food lover I highly recommend it to you too. I think anyone could make a movie that includes gorgeous shots of delicious food, but Jon Favreau did so much more in adding in a heart warming story. Without giving too much away, it’s a story to which I can relate – it encourages people to follow what makes them happy, even if that thing isn’t the coolest, sexiest, most raved about thing in the world. You can be miserable in a job that you think you’re supposed to have and that sounds good when you brag about it, or you can go for something that might not be what people expect, but makes you inexplicably happier, and in turn probably makes you a better person. As my loyal readers know, I went through that recently and the latter is definitely worth it. Chef also brings on the “awws” and some may say it’s not realistic in all its portrayals of human relationships, but honestly with all the fairly depressing stuff that I love to watch (Six Feet Under, Mad Men, House of Cards) it was nice to watch something that I could sit back and enjoy and not expect someone to die.

I’ve also started rewatching Parenthood – an NBC show that actually just ended. I started watching this show back when it first premiered and I enjoyed it, but I was in college and real life things got in the way of me following it and I didn’t have a DVR or Netflix at the time so I basically let it go. I’ve caught episodes here and there since then and always wanted to jump back into it. After a visit home where my aunts were talking about how great it was, I decided it was time to re-acquaint myself with the Braverman family. And I’m so happy that I did. It’s an incredible show that, yes, is at times a little cheesy and predictable, but it addresses real issues too. And it has a way of bringing tears to my eyes on a regular basis and reminds me that I do still have a soul. Oh, and the music choices in it are on point – I’m a sucker for a good use of “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC.

This past weekend I finished Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and I really loved it. Much more Wind Up Bird and less Norwegian Wood for those familiar with Murakami. It made me want to read more of his works, which I plan to do in the future. As far as where that puts me for the 26 book challenge for 2015, I’m counting it as #11: A book you started but never finished. Other contenders for this would have been Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (a book that made me SO NERVOUS that something awful was going to happen that I had to stop reading it because it gave me anxiety) and Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (a book that put me to sleep more than once). I just started reading my next book last night: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (the author is my aunt’s cousin!). This one will count as #4: A book your friend loves. It was lent to me by my best friend from college – whose wedding I also happen to be in this summer – and just a few pages in I’m already hooked!

Other fun and important things that have happened since my last update: I discovered that I can make potato pancakes out of leftover mashed potatoes and the dude has figured out how to make the most PERFECT fried eggs. We take our breakfast foods very seriously here so this is a breakthrough for us.

Anyhow, that’s it for my update! Stayed tuned for more posts this week, and as always, thanks for dropping by 🙂

On Productivity, Rewards, and More…

So let’s have an update on my HabitRPG life. It’s going well! I’m a level 6 now and have made it a habit to bring my lunch to work and to get some reading in every night. It’s been pretty enjoyable winding down before bed with a book and I think today I’ll be adding an element to deter me from looking at my phone before bed. I’ve read that the light of the screen makes your brain think it’s time to wake up because it’s similar to morning light, and that probably explains why I don’t get a great night’s sleep during the week. Nail biting has been pretty much non-existent since my nails have been painted, and messing with my face has proven to be difficult to avoid. It doesn’t help that I left my regular moisturizer at the sister-in-love’s house last weekend and had to temporarily switch to one I used unsuccessfully before.

Onto my more daily routines. I’ve done a good job of tidying up around the apartment each night – I’m saving major cleaning for weekends because it’s important to have some down time after work, for me at least. I’ve been killin’ it when it comes to blogging on a regular basis (and aren’t you SO happy that I’m back?) and on exercising on a regular basis. I’ve been working on strengthening my core so that when the weather turns and I find it acceptable to run outside again, I’ll be prepared for my oh-so-hilly neighborhood. I made it a daily task to set my clothes out for work the night before as well and it has been saving me a lot of time in the mornings. I never knew how much time I wasted standing in front of my closet trying to figure out what to wear before I’ve had any coffee.

Most importantly, I’ve followed through on my weekly tasks of putting money away in my savings and toward my credit card. Three cheers for financial freedom!

The to-do feature has been really great while I’m at work. I usually load up my work list in the app and set due dates for each item, then arrange the list by what’s due first. It’s really helped with prioritizing, which is something I struggle with at times when everything seems to be due all at once. Since completed tasks earn “gold,” which you can then redeem for the rewards you set, it’s nice to be able to say things like, “I literally earned this glass of wine today.”

TL;DR: HabitRPG is awesome and it’s working really well for me! Still recommending it to everyone out there that’s trying to accomplish what feels like more than they can handle!