Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Ouch My Forehead!" Fort Lauderdale Vacation Recap

Sadly, my vacation is over and I am back to work today. I'm so happy I took this trip. I relaxed like I haven't it longer than I can even remember, sat in the sunshine almost every day, and was even able to spend time with friends! I vlogged throughout the trip (subscribe to my channel here!), but I thought I'd do a recap of my experience here as well!

Last Wednesday Rob and I packed up and flew out of Boston around 8:45pm. The flight was a little over 3 hours directly to Fort Lauderdale and we passed the time playing Mario Kart 7 on our 3DSes, coloring (because we're definitely in our mid-20's) and laughing over stupid inside jokes like "Boingo Wifi". We touched down just before midnight and were picked up by Rob's partner Michael who lives in the area! We instantly felt the temperature difference and were basically sweating in our long sleeves while Michael noted how "cold" it was in Florida haha. Michael dropped me off at my Air BnB at around 1AM and I totally crashed as soon as I made it in the door.

Thursday morning I woke up and wandered down to the grocery store to stock up on some fruits, veggies, and other snacks for my little cottage, and found my local Dunks (which were surprisingly common in south Florida and I was pretty excited about it!). Once I returned I sat out on my little patio (that I showed off in my previous Florida post last week) I sat down with a great book and enjoyed feeling the sunshine on my skin for the first time in months!

Rob stopped by my place around noon or so and we decided to take a long walk down to the beach! It was a gorgeous first day in Florida and we were *so close* to the ocean, so how could we not? The walk took about 40 minutes or so, but it was so worth it once we saw the white sand and gorgeous turquoise water! We immediately hopped right into the waves and the ocean was so warm. I don't know if I could ever swim in the ocean in MA again after this trip!

The Snapchat tag said Ft. Lauderdale Beach, but we were actually at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

After about an hour or so of enjoying the sunshine, we decided to venture off to find something to eat for a late lunch. We found this little divey place called Ocean's Grille and both ordered fish & chips (which is actually Mahi in FL!) which was super yummy. We then ventured up to Aruba Beach as there were a few more shops up there, grabbed some FroYo and some drinks and enjoyed the sunset. Michael (who was at work all day) picked us up a bit later and we headed home. I went to bed fairly early on Thursday night as I was still pretty tired from travelling (and walking all over Fort Lauderdale with Rob!) but it was a wonderful first day of our trip!

Friday morning Rob sent me a text and invited me to hang out with him and Michael for the day! They picked me up around lunch time and we went to this little Mexican spot for lunch. I ordered a GIANT quesadilla which was super delicious and I was happy I got to chat with Michael and get to know him a bit more (we had only met once before this trip for a very brief period of time!). Afterward Rob and I were craving ice cream so we went to a nearby Baskin Robbins and both got a mint chocolate chip fix, him a cone and me a milkshake. YUM. We were both ready to burst after that!

We stopped by a local park to walk around for a bit. It was the absolute perfect temperature for a stroll and we saw lots of Floridian wildlife as we were walking through, including lizards, birds, and a whole bunch of turtles! As we were entering the town we saw a sign that said "A Horse Community" and sure enough, we walked by a horse stable as well. After the park we stopped by the mall near my Air BnB and walked around for a bit before heading home for the evening, and a snagged some yummy mint tea! :)

Moments before disaster struck (which I won't repeat here but Rob and Michael will know what I'm talking about haha!)

Saturday was probably the most chilled out day of the trip. Unfortunately I woke up with a solid migraine which was zero fun. I took some medicine and hydrated for a bit, and once I felt a bit better I thought it was perfect time to get some Florida dust on my running shoes (runs sometimes help my headaches go away). I took a short 3 miler around the neighborhood and felt slightly better, but still wanted to just lie down after my shower to rest up and recover from the pain.

Note the under-eye bags D:

After a bit of rest, Brett gave me a call and let me know he could come pick me up for lunch! He and his head coach came to scoop me up and we went to a local diner. They told me about how their recruiting trip was going (their Florida trip is their biggest recruiting trip of the year so they were both quite exhausted) and we got some yummy food (I went for a burger and they both sprung for breakfast food)! It was really great to see Brett because I wasn't sure if I would be able to see him at all!

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and catching up on organizing my life, which I was totally fine with because it was a pretty cloudy and windy day and I didn't mind staying inside for most of it. I ended up finishing the book I was reading, playing some Nintendo 3DS, planning out a budget and getting my posting schedule prepped for March. I mean, not all of those things you expect to get done while on vacation, but I was so happy I had some extra time in my schedule to really get some things done I hadn't had time to accomplish in my normal routine! (I mean, look how pumped I am in this selfie! XD)

Sunday I got an early morning text from Rob letting me know the he and Michael were planning to hit the beach and wanted me to come with them! It was a super gorgeous day and we had a beach tour guide in Michael leading the way so I was happy to tag along! We met up at the Starbucks by me and after a quick caffeination break we were off to Hollywood Beach!

As soon as we plopped our towels down we ran into the water to swim because the weather was perfect and the water was so refreshing! As we laid on the beach we were graced with a gorgeous view of sailboats drifting by which made for an incredible backdrop good enough to get a "Stop it!" comment from on of my colleagues when I posted a photo to Instagram! XD

After a few hours our tummies started grumbling and we walked down the strip in search of some lunch. We found a pizzeria and stopped in to find the LARGEST SLICES OF PIZZA EVER. I ordered two cheese slices and basically was served half of a pizza. I knew I had to Snapchat the ridiculousness and give my hand as a reference point. Needless to say I was super stuffed once we were done!

I was pretty flabbergasted that I had been in the Sunshine State for nearly 4 full days at that point and still hadn't gotten a tropical drink, so I was definitely in search of finding a bar to really feel like I was properly on vacation! We were right by the Margaritaville Hotel and across the street from the 5 O'Clock Somewhere bar, so we thought that would be perfect to have a drink at. The bar itself was overlooking the water and we saw several very ~fancy~ yachts float by while sipping on our cocktails. I ordered myself a Port of Call Cooler (which was AMAZING) and sipping on this was exactly what a warm-weather-climate vacation should be about!

We walked back to the car and attempted to cap off the night by going to see Hail, Caesar! at the movie theatre by me, but it ended up being sold out! So instead we found this little gelato shop (called Alice's Ice Cream Emporium - how good of a name is that?!) and I got a nice large order of Snickers and Cookies & Cream gelato. I was basically in heaven.

Monday, unfortunately, was my last day in paradise, and I knew I wanted to spend it on the beach. It was also Michael's last day of his little mini-vacation so he took Rob and I to Fort Lauderdale Beach which was gorgeous! There was a work out area (with pull-up bars and jungle gym type of equipment), basketball courts, a nice wide beach, and views of cruise ships and parasailers floating by. The weather was probably the best it had been the entire trip and I was really appreciative of Florida for bring out the big guns for my last day. ;)

Michael brought along some boogie boards which was so much fun because the ocean was particularly wavy on this day! We had a couple of solid boogie boarding sessions and even came up with reverse boogie boarding where you're facing the waves while floating on the board and just basically letting the ocean waves toss you anywhere you want to go. So much fun! We had an absolute blast on my last day and I'm so happy I was able to spend it in the sunshine with my friends. :)

Monday night was spent packing up and I left for the airport around 9:30am. (My first flight wasn't until 1:30pm but my Air BnB check out was at 10am and I didn't really have anywhere to go in the meantime, so I decided to just go to the airport and hang out there.) I had a layover in Detroit (which, by the way, is an awesome Airport from what I saw) then jetted back to Boston, where more new friends, Rob's colleagues Trish and Von, picked me up to bring me back to my car! They are both so awesome for getting me and both awesome people in general. I had been hearing so much about them from Rob so I was very happy to finally meet them!

While I'm sad my vacation is over, I'm feeling rested and ready to get back into my routine. We're about to enter the busiest time of the year at work (you guys know this by know, but April in Student Affairs = no free time ever) so I'm really happy I was able to take this time to charge up my batteries before things get *really* craycray! I really loved my time in FLL and I hope to visit again in the future! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Providence Marathon Training Update #2

Woof. I've been dreading this blog post.

I'm going to be super honest with you guys. I've been absolutely sucking at training this time around. I don't know what it is, but I'm constantly making excuses for myself *not* to run. Between it being too cold, the roads being too dangerous from New England winter weather (which, if we're being honest here, hasn't really been that bad!), me getting sick (which I actually think is a good reason not to run), or being too tired or too busy.... I've been letting myself slide in my training, which is not okay at all. I really need to cut it out if I want to run another marathon.

I don't know if winter marathon training makes my running motivation completely MIA (I am one to seriously reduce my mileage in the winter time due to busy schedules and lack of sunlight), but winter training is what I've signed up for if I want to run a spring marathon. Perhaps it's the fact that I haven't officially registered that makes me think that I can skip out on runs and be fine because I still have the option to back out if I wanted (which I don't, but hey, the option's there). Whatever it might be, I need to get over it. I really need to give myself a kick in the pants so I can be properly prepared for Providence in May.

That all being said, I don't have much to update you all on in terms of training. I'm going to change that for my next update. I'm not going to say "I hope to change that" or "I'll try to change that" because that's just too lenient. I'm going to change that for my next update and be excited to write it for you all. My goal is 3 runs a week - one short, one mid, and one long. I'm going to hit that target and come back to you all with exciting running news and be pumped to share it with you all!

68 days 'til #RUNPVD.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Greetings from Sunny Fort Lauderdale!

Hello everyone! I'm currently writing to you from the patio of my Air BnB and, realizing that I missed my Thursday blog post due to having way too much fun in the sun at the beach (#sorrynotsorry), I thought I'd pop in to say hi! Here's what my current situation looks like:

The chair I'm currently typing to you from.
(Side note: it seems that southern Florida loves its Dunks as much as we do up north,
which is making my New England heart feel right at home!)

Booking this trip was kind of a spur of the moment decision a few weeks ago. I knew I wanted to get out of cold New England at some point in the winter, but I wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish it. Then the idea of south Florida came to mind. The main motivations for me to take this trip were:

1. I wanted to do something fun when I took my vacation time from work.
2. Brett was coming down here for work and I figured it would be perfect timing to take a sunny adventure while he was away and busy all day. Plus there was a small chance we would get to spend a little bit of time together which was a bonus!
3. My friend Rob's partner lives down here so it would be a perfect opportunity for him to join me and take a fun friend vacation!
4. The air fare for travel down here was $70. Can't really beat that.

So yes, Wednesday I packed up, met up with Rob, and we hopped on a red-eye down to FLL! It's been nearly perfect weather this entire trip (mostly sunny and mid-seventies!), the place I am staying is relatively close to the beach, has a beautiful outdoor patio (as you saw above) which I have been reading and writing out on every day, and (best of all) is completely private and to myself. I'm a big fan. I've mainly been focusing on relaxing, reading for pleasure, sleeping a bunch, and giving myself the opportunity to do the things I haven't been making time for back home. Plus, I've been able to spend a ton of time with Rob, made a new friend in his partner Michael, and I even got to go out to lunch with Brett today which was an extra special treat!

I haven't relaxed this hard in who knows how long, and I'm so appreciative that I've had the ability to do so and happy that I took the opportunity when I saw it! This is definitely the ultimate #treatyoself and just might have to become a tradition. :) I'll be giving more of a recap for you all next week, but for now I'm going to get back to my regularly scheduled relaxing! *insert palm tree and tropical drink emojis here*

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Considering a Diet Change

For a little while now I've been interested in researching different diet regimens. I've looked into paleo diets, raw diets, and even vegan diets, and I have to say that the prospect of changing my lifestyle to something a bit simpler really interests and excites me. At this point in time I don't think I could 100% commit to a full lifestyle change (i.e. going 100% cold-turkey vegan... no pun intended) but focusing more on a plant-based diet, weening my dairy and red meat intake, and trying to live more in accordance to a high-carb, high fruit, vegetable, and nut diet is something I feel like I can do.

I've been watching a lot of Freelee the Banana Girl (Warning: A lot of her videos feature graphic photos and videos of animal abuse in the meat and dairy industries and can be very hard to watch, but I applaud her for being courageous enough to speak out about the truth.) and she talks in length about living a high-carb vegan lifestyle and the health and fitness benefits that the lifestyle can bring you. She is very unapologetic and upfront, and a lot of people are put off by her in-your-face approach to her opinion on the importance of veganism, but she is speaking the truth throughout her videos and you can't blame someone for being real, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

Again, I caution you to tread carefully on this YouTube channel if you don't want to see the graphic images of animal abuse, but her videos are fascinating and she does a good job about suggesting awesome recipes and ways to approach a vegan diet. Here a couple of her videos regarding veganism that I find very interesting and a peak into what she does on YouTube. *Don't worry - I've watched all of these all the way through and there are no graphic images or videos of abuse! There is footage of a roadkill snake in the last video, but other than that, you're good.*

Again, I don't see myself going full vegan or even full vegetarian at this point in my life, and I'm not sure I ever will. There are some things about the vegan lifestyle that I don't 100% agree with (i.e. not eating honey because that's harmful to bees) but transitioning my focus to having a more plant-based diet is really appealing to me. I don't think I'm going to stop eating fish or completely stopping eating meat, but I'm open to cutting down on poultry and red meat. I'm probably not going to completely stop eating cheese (I mean.... c'mon. Cheese.), but I am open to springing more for almond/soy milk over dairy milk (I already do this occasionally). 

I know that changing your lifestyle can be challenging, but I'm looking forward to experimenting and finding a diet that works for me and is healthier overall. I'm curious to see how this goes and I know there will be slip ups along the way, but right now I'm feeling inspired to make a positive change!

Have any of you tried an alternative diet like veganism, paleo, or a raw food diet? 
Please let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about your experiences!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Few of my Favorite Links {#19}

Hello everyone! I took a little (unintentional) week's break off from the blog last week. I was feeling very exhausted throughout the week as a lot was weighing on my mind, and when that happens blogging is typically the last thing I'd like to do, but through journaling and creativity and of course the incredible support from B,  I've been able to process through it and I'm feeling much better. Sometimes you just need to take a mental health break!

Activities and events are back in full swing at MHC and it feels like I'm finally settling into my routine. My colleagues and I have come up with a solid plan so no single one of us is always caught at work late on Fridays or Saturdays. It seems like things are progressing forward in a very positive way which is always a glorious feeling to have while you're at work. I'm very lucky to be a part of such a cohesive staff! #blessed #sockgameonpoint

I'm creeping up toward a butt load of travel in these last weeks of winter and I'm super excited about them! First off I will taking a vacation down to Fort Lauderdale next week (!!!) with my friend Rob while Brett is recruiting for work. We found some really cheap round trip flights (Under $200 to get there and back! Uhm, yes please.) and I'm staying at this cute little Air BnB that's not far from the house the coaches are renting, and about a 10 minute bike ride from the beach! I'm definitely planning on renting a bike for my time down there so I can travel around in the warm Florida air easily. I'm looking forward to spending time far away from stress. I'm (of course) planning on hitting the beach, but in my down time journaling, drawing, reading, filming videos, and blogging. It's going to be so niccceeeee. Cannot wait.

Shortly after I return I will be travelling to the exact opposite climate - Canada. My friend and colleague Erin and I are going up to Montréal for the ACPA International Convention which will be so much fun! I'm excited to attend some educational sessions, network, and eat lots and lots of poutine. We're planning on doing some touristy things in our down time as well as Erin's never been to Montréal and the last time I went I was about 14 years old and was there for my sister's softball tournament so I don't remember too much of the city. I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Now that we're all caught up on my life, I'm going to hop right into my favorite links as of late. First of which is very exciting... I'm published, y'all!

Changing Campus Traditions

My two BSU counterparts (my former supervisor, Matt, and former co-advisor, Casey) and I wrote this article that was finally published in the first 2016 issue of Programming magazine - the publication for the field of Campus Activities! We've been working on this initiative to make our Homecoming pageants more inclusive since I arrived as a graduate student in 2013, and thought that sharing our experience - both the challenges and the successes - would be a great thing to contribute to our field. I'm really proud of this article and proud of OSIL for being courageous in the face of changing a beloved campus tradition!

$100 Donut Iced with Cristal Champagne and 24k Gold

This.... this is ridiculous. I can't decide if I hate this because it's so ridiculous or love it because it's so ridiculous. I mean, the donut is $100 and made of gold, but it sounds pretty disgusting if you ask me. "It's a donut filled with ube mousse, champagne jelly, and covered with a glaze made from Cristal champagne and 24k gold flakes." Probably not something I want to be eating. What do you think? Either way this was too out of control to not share, so it's making this edition Favorite Links.

Cocktail Chemistry - Ice Ball Cocktail

This is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while! While this is definitely not a super simple process to recreate, you can't beat the presentation! I mean, how cool would it be to be served your drink in an ice ball?! I have a feeling if I attempted this I would fail miserably, but the idea of this is so awesome.

I loved this little article! This is the story of a guy who went on a cruise on his own and tried to make as many friends as he could. Being very socially anxious and introverted, stories of people who have the guts to take on a challenge like this is so fascinating and inspiring to me! If you need a little pick me up or a cheerful story, give this article a read!

I basically fell out of my chair when I found out that this was a thing. HOW CUTE ARE THESE?! This company will create custom plush replicas of your pet and I'm IN LOVE. Granted, they are quite pricey, but if you're far away from your pet or want something to remember a furry friend that you might have lost in the past, I think this would be so incredible. Whoever thought of this is a genius.

New, Female-Powered 'Ghostbusters' LEGO Set Unleashed

In girl power news, LEGO has released their new Ghostbusters set featuring the new cast of lady characters! I love when toy companies great "girl toys" that are more than just pink, purple, princessey, and stereotypically "girly". Love. It. I bet I would love to have some female LEGO characters to play with when I was growing up. My sister and I had a huge box of LEGOs that we always played with as kids and I can't really think of ever having a girl LEGO person. This set features exclusively female LEGO people and it's awesome and deserves to be praised.

My brain basically exploded when I found out about this earlier this week. I knew this play was being released but I had no idea that the story was also being released in book form! I'm still not entirely sure if this is a novel or the script to the play, but either way I'm excited AF and am obviously going to pre-order it. How could you not?!

What links are you loving lately?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

If There's Dogs In Your Commercial, I'm Buying Your Product: Favorite Commercials of Super Bowl 50

I was an Advertising major in college and a recurring assignment I had in my courses was to watch the Super Bowl and evaluate the commercials. (Yeah, my homework was usually pretty awesome.) Ever since, I've liked to share my favorite commercials with my friends and family and find out what they thought about the ads from the game. (I talked about a few of the stand out ads from last year's game in a blog post here.) This year's post is going to be much more cheerful than last years and I noticed a definite theme when picking out my favorites - basically if a company uses a dog in any of their ads, I'm going to pay attention to their ads. What can I say. I love dogs.

"Weiner Stampede" - HEINZ Ketchup

I'm pretty sure the only thing cuter than dogs dressed in costumes is when dauchaunds (aka weiner dogs) dress up in hot dog costumes and run in unison toward ketchup and mustard bottles. Like... why didn't HEINZ think of this sooner? IT'S GENIUS. Also, the dauchaund puppy in the little hot dog costume and the little kid in the ketchup packet costume? I'm pretty sure I'm dead from the cuteness. Well done, HEINZ. Well. Done. 

"Subaru Dog Tested: Puppy" - Subaru 

This commercial is also adorable. I don't think it does a good job in selling the car itself, but I'm pretty sure that Subaru was just banking on the cute factor to make this commercial work which I'm definitely not opposed to. I mean, who can say no to a golden retriever? And even more - who can say no to a golden retriever puppy? Correct answer: no one.

"#Pokemon20" - Pokémon

Kind of veering off the dog theme comes another favorite of mine that I did not expect to see during the SuperBowl - a Pokémon 20th Anniversary commercial! Pokémon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is doing some pretty awesome things to commemorate the milestone including giving out free mythical Pokémon every month and releasing Pokémon GO! this year (rumored to be released at the end of this month!). It's so cool how one of my favorite childhood pastimes is still going strong after such a long time and even making an appearance in the Super Bowl!

"Doritos Dogs" - Doritos

And finally, my absolute favorite commercial of the evening was this Doritos commercial! Not only was this adorable, but it was basically a live-action cartoon and I was laughing through the entire thing. Doritos always kills it in the hilarious commercials department and they did not disappoint this year, and of course whatever company uses humor AND dogs in their ads has my vote. I'm pretty sure this one can speak for itself!

What were your favorite ads from the Super Bowl?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Time to Shift Focus

I'm working for 18 hours today. 8:30AM to 2:30AM.

I know that my fellow Student Affairs folks can relate to this. Sometimes pulling hours like this just needs to happen. We work in a field that is focused on helping others, and sometimes that means working around the clock to meet our students' needs and to support our colleagues that are in the same boat. It's just a thing that happens in our field, and I'm sure in countless other professions that require time, care, and attention to other people this is also the case. I say all the time how great it is that I work in a field that makes me happy because these long, strange hours come easily. Being around my students and watching them grow and succeed give me more energy than any typical introvert should have. I feel truly lucky that I can say that I'm happy at work and I love my job. After all, it's what I spend the majority of my waking hours doing.


I've been thinking a lot lately of how often I've valued my own professional development and being successful in my career over pursuing my interests outside of my career and investing valuable time in my personal life. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love working in Student Affairs. I worked so hard to get to where I am today and I couldn't be happier in my career. I really can't imagine myself working in another environment, and my students make every challenge I face as a professional so worth it. But I've seen this so often in the world of Higher Ed - once we leave the office at the end of the day, our brains don't often leave with us, and it severely impacts our ability to be present in our personal lives.

When we're with our families, how many of us are worrying about a challenge from work that's weighing on our shoulders? When we're out with friends, how many of us are stealing glances at our smart phones' email apps to just "check in to make sure we're not missing anything" - maybe sending off a message here and there that we deem urgent enough to interrupt our personal time? How often does our topic of conversation default to what happens at work? Though I take pride in my ability to stay off my work email when I'm out of the office, I'm totally guilty of letting projects or concerns from work permeate my thoughts and conversation when I'm with my loved ones instead of enjoying my time off.

I totally get why it happens. I've been conditioned for these 25 years of my life to always be thinking about my professional future. To always strive to be my absolute best in school, to get the grades to go to college, that would then lead me to graduate school, and ultimately my career. I've been taught to be way too hard on myself for not trying hard enough, not achieving high enough, and not devoting enough time to being professionally successful. After a life of feeling this way, it's so hard to turn this off, and the culture we have on who can be the busiest and who can be the most productive does not help. I feel like I'm constantly in competition with my colleagues (both on my campus and off) of who is most devoted to the field and their jobs (whether the competitiveness spoken about or not) and it's exhausting.

We're never really (like, reallytaught the importance of enjoying life - but isn't that the whole point?

I hope to change this attitude that I've created for myself. It's not a crime to want to focus on my personal life and strive to progress on that side of my life for a change. I've spent my whole life stressing out over starting a career and - especially over these last three years - I've achieved some pretty amazing professional goals. While I think it's important to always strive to develop professionally, I also think it's important to always strive to develop in my personal life and to value my personal happiness and growth for a change. I want to focus more on being present with my partner and enjoy our time together instead of always talking about and worrying about work. I want to continue to explore the things that I'm interested in outside of my field. I want to try new things and travel new places and be with my friends and family. And I think it's okay to be okay with that. 

I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on work/life balance. Do you find that you focus more on your career? Do you think work/life balance is a myth? Or do you feel like you have this work/life balance thing down to a science? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me your thoughts. I would love to know!