march malaise

Mar 19th 2013 09:12:16 am

The first day of spring is tomorrow… but you’d never know that in Brooklyn. It snowed yesterday! It is rainy, cold, and overcast today. The cloudy coldness is bringing me down, but I really can’t place all of the blame on the weather. I need to make some changes, to my life and to my attitude.

My spring cleaning goals:

  • running – Running is discouraging. It is not fun, not energizing, not empowering. It is only discouraging. I know that it is my fault for over-doing it — three marathons in two months, plus the NYC Half on Sunday, was NOT smart — but my bad attitude is deeper than merely being burnt out. I have this unrelenting feeling that running is completely unfair and no one understands how difficult it is for me. Boohoo. I shouldn’t have such angry feelings about a freakin hobby. I am scaling back. I plan to only run two days a week (with Team in Training) and cross train a few days a week. I usually enjoy exercising, but I need to find a new activity that makes me feel fit and powerful, not sluggish and discouraged.
  • food – I have already been on a bit of a health kick. (Flax seed oatmeal with raisins and bananas for breakfast this morning!) But I want to stay committed. I have not quite decided how I feel about Mayor Bloomberg’s “soda ban”, but I know that for myself, I will always limit my refined sugar intake. I’ll never say that I am cutting out any type of food completely because I want to be a flexible and adventurous eater, but I certainly don’t need sugary beverages or processed junk food. I plan to cook at home more. Healthy dinners and lots of fruits and veggies!
  • swap-bot – Swap-bot is my constant companion and an unrelenting source of never-ending work. I don’t mind. I’ll keep working on it forever if users keep swapping… but I need to reframe my focus. I want to work harder on improving the site for ALL users, not just tread water trying to put out all the many tiny daily fires. I have said this before and I still believe it: art + community = a better world. I want to work more purposefully toward the goal of fostering creativity and friendship around the world via Swap-bot. And I want to make the site look and function better. There is a lot of work to do.
  • self – I plan to focus more on my own feelings and desires. I want to stay home more. Work on projects that improve my quality of life. Watch some tv. Make a quilt. Take it easy. I love socializing (probably too much) and I know it sounds crazy for someone who works alone everyday at home to want more time to myself, but I do. I love going out with friends, but I love hanging out with my husband more. I need to rest and recharge and remind myself that my priorities and ambitions may be different than others, and that is totally ok.

Once the sun comes out, I am sure I will be feeling more upbeat. Until then, I am going to take it easy on myself and do my best to foster my own happiness. What changes do you have planned for spring?

6 Comments » Categories: Exercise, Feeling Sad, Food, running, Swap-bot, Thinking, Work

32 while 32

Feb 13th 2013 11:25:12 am

I love presents just as much as I did at my 8th birthday!

Sunday was my 32nd birthday. I had a little party because – hey – I love cake and balloons and friends! Complaining about age is lame, but 32 feels quite old. Like, I should probably be an adult by now… isn’t that one of the items on my to do list?

What now seems like a very long time ago, I made a list of 30 things that I wanted to accomplish before turning 30. I didn’t get all of the items completed, so I converted it to a 30 WHILE 30 list, then a 31 while 31 list. I still haven’t gotten all of the items checked off, so I am turning it into an ongoing project. I’ll carry the list over each year, crossing off the things I finish and adding new items to fill out the list to match my birthday number — this year, 32!

32 things to do while 32:

Visit the Museum of the City of New York.
Travel to Europe!
Eat the Moules Frites at Balthazar.
Create a new craft tutorial for Swap-bot.
Stop biting my nails. For good.
Redesign the Swap-bot homepage.
Get super-comfortable using our DSLR camera.
Be noticeably sweeter to my husband.
Run a marathon in 4:30.
Lose 15 pounds. (Isn’t this on everyone’s list?)
Make marinara sauce from scratch.
Visit the Bronx Zoo.
Make Crusher a super-cute Halloween costume.
Try to live in the moment.
Start taking a weekly yoga class. Changing this to: Cross train once a week.
Buy a brownstone! (A fantasy, but a girl can dream…)
Do all of my mending.
Make cupcakes with some sort of filling.
Reduce my internal negativity.
Call my brothers and sisters-in-law every week (or at least more frequently).
Read a novel. (Maybe this one?) Um… it is terrible that I haven’t done this…
Promote peace.
Get a unicorn face painting!
Run a sub-2-hour half marathon. (This may be impossible.)
Set up an online Swap-bot merch store.
Eat less candy.
Run a trail marathon.
Make a quilt.
Visit the New York Transit Museum.
Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.
Become an adult.
Embark on a grand adventure!

————

Completed items:
This list could get really long!

Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Had a great time with my brother Seth.
Learn to tell a really funny, family-friendly joke. Why did the fish get kicked out of school? ………because he was caught with sea WEED!
Figure out how to style my hair in loose waves/curls. I think this counts.
Visit The Cloisters. Went with mom & dad in June.
Run the San Diego Marathon. For the second time. Done!
Attend a taping of the Wendy Williams Show. Done and it was awesome.
Take an overnight trip with my husband that is not at a relative’s house.
Take my donation pile to the thrift store. Housing Works got a big pile!
Buy a really beautiful and practical dress. Thank you Rebecca Taylor!
Go to dinner at Al Di La.
Run the NYC marathon!
Watch every episode of Tosh.0.
Make blueberry pancakes.
Get the Florence + The Machine album on vinyl.
Watch Meet Me in St. Louis again.
Drive upstate to see the autumn foliage.
Visit all five boroughs in NYC (should happen during the marathon).
Get a new laptop. Love my Air!
Reduce the amount of time I spend on Facebook. Done, except for today.
Vote! Always.
Buy awesome, new, flattering jeans. These from J.Crew.
Force Travis to watch Star Trek: Generations with me. He loved it.

————

You can check out my past lists here:

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What is on your list? What should I add to mine?

8 Comments » Categories: Birthday, Feeling Happy, Just for Fun, Projects, Thinking

one little word 2013

Jan 3rd 2013 12:33:06 pm

Each year I join in on a popular blog phenomenon and chose one little word to focus on throughout the new year. This year, I choose sweetness.

Sweetness sounds so cheesy and cutesy, but it is what came to mind as I thought about what I want for 2013. To me, it encompasses the ideas of kindness, acceptance, and enjoyment. I want to be sweet to others and I want to be sweet to myself. I want to be content and happy and calm and focus on the sweet things in life… no matter what 2013 has in store for me.

My past words:

2012: explore
2011: peace
2010: wonder
2008: hope

(Two of my favorite bloggers chose open and brave this year.)

What is your one little word for 2013?

7 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, Just for Fun, Projects, Thinking

mantra

Dec 17th 2012 04:49:00 pm

Recommitting myself to the few things I know to be true. I will be brave. I will be kind. I will promote peace. I will spread love.

1 Comment » Categories: Feeling Sad, Thinking

one little word of the year

Jan 1st 2012 10:04:22 pm

Last year, my word was peace. In 2010, my word was wonder. In 2008, it was hope.

This year my word is explore.

I have a lot of travel planned for 2012. Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Little Rock, New Orleans… and that is just in the first two months! I think this year will be filled with many new experiences and I plan to embrace them. Seek them out even.

Did you choose a focus word this year?

3 Comments » Categories: Projects, Thinking

creating happiness

Dec 13th 2011 06:23:26 pm

Sometimes (actually most times) I really dislike self-help style blog posts that try to give life coaching tips in short, profound statements, like “follow your dreams” or “be yourself.” Without specifics, it may feel inspiring to read things like that, but does it really help anyone in any measurable way?

…that being said, I am thinking a lot about these top five regrets of the dying today. This statement in particular struck me: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Is life something that just happens to you? Or, is it something you shape and create? I don’t know if there is an ultimate answer — it is probably a combination — but I am working hard to believe the latter.

———

For 2012, I am asking myself these questions:

What do I truly enjoy?
What do I truly want?
What do I have to offer?

It sounds philosophical, but really, I want to answer the questions as honestly and basically as possible. I don’t want to leave happiness to chance. Want to join me?

4 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, Thinking

violence and guilt

Dec 7th 2011 09:00:51 am

This is a sad story.

The tragic, gruesome news of the awful murder in a Lululemon store in Bethesda in March and this piece about the bystander effect, have had me thinking about a past murder…

During college I worked for an art magazine run by a couple who I thought at the time were quite demanding, but who were actually very kind, helpful, and supportive. Their office (seen above) was located next door to a bank in a tiny strip mall in the wealthy suburb of Leawood, Kansas. I worked for them every summer. They were in the long process of moving their office and home from Kansas to New Hampshire, and I often manned the office while they were traveling back and forth. There were other part-time workers off and on, but I was often alone.

Generally, I opened mail, answered phones, scanned images for articles, designed ads, and shipped out back issue orders… on June 18th, 2002, I think I was working on organizing the subscription database. I remember I was doing something dull that day, and I remember that day specifically because about 100 yards away, in broad daylight, a 19-year-old girl was raped and murdered in the maintenance shed of the neighborhood pool.

Of course, I didn’t find out about the murder until I left work in the evening and went home to my parents’ house in the next suburb over. Benjamin Appleby, a convicted felon with a pool cleaning business, had strangled Ali Kemp while I was busy checking addresses on a computer screen in our office across the street from the pool.

I was a 21-year-old college senior. Ali would have been sophomore at KState. We were both diligently working our summer jobs. We didn’t know each other.

For a split second after learning of the murder, I thought, “it could have been me,” but I’m actually strangely defiant when it comes to NOT allowing criminals to scare me or dictate my behavior, so I didn’t actually ever feel scared. Not even when I had to return to the office alone the next day.

I did, and still do, feel guilty. I had never been in that pool in my life and had no reason whatsoever to go into it that day, but what if I had? Could I have prevented the crime? Why couldn’t I have psychically felt a disruption in the force and told the bank security guard to go check things out?

I actually had thoughts like that for a long time… I guess I still do.

It was such a random crime. I don’t have the exact numbers but I would guess that the city of Leawood has less than one murder per decade. It took the police three years to catch Appleby. He was arrested in Connecticut in 2004, and in addition to DNA evidence, I think he eventually confessed. He is in prison.

Perhaps each of us will either knowingly or unknowingly be in close proximity to violent crime at some point in our lives. I was not a true “bystander” during Ali Kemp’s murder. There was no way that I could have known that a crime was being committed. However, if I ever am a witness to violence, you can be sure that I will not stand by. I will take action.

No Comments » Categories: Feeling Sad, Thinking, Work

Occupy Wall Street

Oct 6th 2011 01:01:07 pm

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the Occupy Wall Street protests or news coverage, but then yesterday I started reading We Are the 99 Percent and I became more curious about the movement. I kept clicking around to different news websites reading about it, and then I thought, “Hey, I work for myself. I have a flexible schedule. Wall Street is less than four miles from my house. I should go check it out in person.” So, I did.

I read that there was going to be a march starting at Foley Square at 4:30. I took my camera and headed in that direction. It was easy to find the main group of protesters by following the sounds of drums and chanting. I wanted to learn more about why so many people had decided to protest, so I wandered around checking out all of the different signs. Here are a few of my favorites:

Eventually, I sort of found my way into the march down to the financial district. It was a fun two hours of slowly walking, snapping photos, and talking with the other participants. Everyone around me was friendly, considerate, and excited to have the opportunity to express themselves. The NYPD were out in full force and I actually thought they were awesome — they were respectful and super-accommodating of the march. (I know there have been arrests and reports of abuse, but what I personally saw yesterday left me impressed with New York City and its ability to facilitate peaceful protests.)

There was an extremely diverse selection of people represented in the 6,000-person crowd — young people, older people, NYU & Columbia students, union workers, college professors, mothers with children, non-profit groups — not to mention a VERY wide variety of causes and interests being expressed. I collected leaflets from Libertarians, Socialists, Anarchists, Communists, and just plain, general revolutionaries. There were Obama supporters, Obama haters, vegans, doctors and nurses, family farmers, LGBTQ activists, and war vets, like the two handsome fellows here…

On the micro level it did all seem a bit disorganized and unfocused, but overall, I really felt like there was a consensus about why they (we) were all there: they wanted to express their frustration with the economic and social injustice in the world. In general, they (don’t we all?) want access to opportunity, a more equal distribution of wealth and prosperity, and most of all, good jobs.

I think that we can all agree that the high unemployment rate is hurting our country. Unfortunately, solving the problem is obviously very difficult and everyone has a different idea of what would work. BUT (here comes my optimistic spin) isn’t it isn’t it amazing that we live in a country where we each have the opportunity to express our ideas and opinions?! Whether it is a Tea Party rally or an Occupy Wall Street march, people are frustrated and they want their voices heard. What an awesome expression of freedom and democracy!

What do I personally think about our economic situation? Hmmmm. There is a lot of info, ideas, and opinions out there… but generally? I believe all people are of value and I think all types of hard work should be respected and rewarded. My goal is to help shape our society to reflect those ideals. We CAN figure out this economic problem and create living wage jobs for everyone willing to work. We can create the America we want. I truly believe that.

Want more info about Occupy Wall Street? Here are a few links:

What do you think? How can we solve the economic crisis?

6 Comments » Categories: New York, politics, Thinking

on beauty

Jul 13th 2011 07:16:17 pm

Last night a friend told me, “Every woman is beautiful when she smiles.”

“Totally true,” I agreed, but in my head (and maybe out loud, too) I thought, “but you get extra points if you are young and thin.”

Which sort of brings me to the images above… Vogue Italia featured full-figure models in its June cover story. (Click through for more images, but they are somewhat NSFW… unless you work for Vogue. Hey, its European.) The cover story is sexy. It adds more evidence to support the argument that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to beauty.

Vogue Italia also warms my heart by having an entire V Curvy section of its website. My one semester of Italian isn’t much help in appreciating it fully, but I’m glad it’s there.

The loss of youth and beauty is an anxiety as old as time, I suppose, but is it a little worse in the age of super models and photoshop? The American Medical Association recently formally denounced retouching photos with photoshop and asked ad agencies to consider setting stricter guidelines for how photos are manipulated before becoming advertisements.

I truly have no idea where I stand on this issue. Sure, images of women in magazines and on tv are completely unrealistic (even the curvier women seen above are undoubtably retouched), but who wouldn’t want a public image of themselves to be enhanced a bit? Plus, aren’t we smart enough to know the difference between reality and fantasy?

The standard for beauty that I have etched in my brain is this photo of Gwyneth Paltrow on a 1998 cover of W magazine. (This is the largest image I could find, but I think the actual cover is probably still at my parent’s house in a box. I had it hanging on my wall as a teen.) I am sure that I identified with her blonde hair, but I liked her freckles and messy bangs. I don’t think I paid much attention then, but now I also appreciate the fact that she doesn’t have gaudy, round baseball cleavage all up in our faces. But that’s just me.

I really don’t know where I am going with this, other than to say that I am defintely getting older and less thin. (I know I’m getter older because the Victoria’s Secret models now look like 7-foot-tall, computer generated 13-year-olds to me. Don’t ask how I know I’m getting less thin.) That’s the bad news. The good news is that I think I am at peace with it. I think… Well, I’m at least at peace with the idea that there are many different types of beautiful. Young & thin doesn’t have a monopoly. Right?

2 Comments » Categories: Fashion, Magazines, Thinking

it’s not so bad…

Jun 7th 2011 03:50:17 pm

I am feeling discouraged today. The internet feels especially negative lately.

Let’s see if I can scrounge up some positives…

Leftover strawberry-rhubarb pie made by my friend, Lauren
“Super Bass” by Nikki Minaj
“Antiques Roadshow” went to Eugene, OR, and found a $500,000 Norman Rockwell painting!
Tonight is the kick-off for the fall Team In Training season – and Travis is training this season!!
List me a few more in the comments…

Off topic: Should I spring for HBO so that I can watch True Blood and Game of Thrones? Or, just wait it out and get ‘em on Netflix?

4 Comments » Categories: Art, Crusher, Feeling Sad, music, Team In Training, Thinking

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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