Friday, August 27, 2010

Early (Weekday!) Bike Ride #2

Finally, after a few rainy and gloomy days, we had a beautiful morning yesterday. My first thought was bike ride time!

Laura, the gal I met at the NY Cycle Club meeting last month, and I had been trying to meet up for a ride for several days but the darn weather kept squashing our plans. We were both psyched to see the forecast for clear skies so we planned to meet at 6am on the west side. I've become much more comfortable riding in the street and, when it's super early, there's really no traffic anyway. It's actually rather peaceful to be on the bike at that time so I enjoyed crossing over from the east side! I did realize that I need lights on my bike, though. I left the apartment around 5:45am and it was still quite dark. Sorry, random side note.

Anyway, we had a terrific ride together and it was really nice to chat and pass the time. We saw another beautiful sunrise and there's just something about it that makes you feel alive. I love that so many people are in the park super early, either running or cycling. There seems to be this commonality there that you feel in a stronger way when it's early in the morning. I think it's just a heightened level of dedication when you get up super early to go do something physical. I saw lots of teams doing what I assume is their marathon training for November and I also watched several large cycling groups whiz by me. I dunno, it sounds weird but the feelings I have on the bike make me appreciate things that I haven't or don't while running.

Laura and I are pretty much at the same level on our bikes, though she's definitely gotten more rides under her belt than me. Regardless, we totally click and I think we share so many of the same feelings about cycling in general. It's so great to have met such a nice girl and to have a new friend to ride with. I absolutely can't wait to finally have a free weekend morning to do a long cycle club ride with her! I already know that I'll meet even more great people sharing the same passion for something I love. I'm excited!  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

I don't know about you but it seems to me these days that truly kind people are few and far between. Yes, I live in busy New York City where people don't even take enough time to let you off a subway car before cramming themselves in and yes, I make the choice to accept such things. However, that never stops me from doing my best to be kind to others. I'll hold doors open for people, say "bless you" if a stranger sneezes, pick something up for someone that they may drop while walking...I don't know, whatever way I can show kindness to people daily is the way I choose to live my life. That said, I often wonder why I so rarely experience people doing the same for me. In no way am I trying to be selfish, I just honestly and truly wonder how, in a city so big, the genuinely kind folks are so hard to find.

I was having a frustrating day yesterday for a whole slew of reasons. It started with me getting soaked during my commute to work (I just love New York in the rain!) and then some other crap hit the fan after that making for a rough morning. Well, the guy who comes to refresh and water our flowers in the office each week came in as I was all frazzled and asked how I was. I answered honestly, saying it was a crappy morning, but that I was hanging in there. Anyway, after a while, he came back over to my desk with three beautiful red roses and said, "I hope these help make your dreary day brighter". I was so taken aback and surprised! His random act of kindness actually DID make my dreary day brighter and, you know what? Those roses might be the prettiest I've ever seen - or perhaps it was the gesture itself that made even the flowers look brighter. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Early (Weekday!) Bike Ride

I'm feeling awesome this morning! Today was the first time I've done an early bike ride during the week before work and, lemme tell you, it was terrific. I was a little on the fence about it because I've never been a good "worker-outer" in the morning. I've tried off and on over the years to go running or hit the gym early before work and I've just never been productive. Being that I feel strong on the bike, I figured there's no time like the present to hit the road early and see how I do!

Getting going at 5:30am is tough no matter what you're doing, so my first couple of miles this morning were sluggish. However, I warmed up and ended up having a great ride! I watched the pretty sunrise as I came around the park and I really enjoyed the jump-start to my day. I know it'll take a little time to get adjusted to an early morning routine, but I already know the change would be something I'd love. I really want my evenings free these days too so this could be a nice solution. :) Plus, a daily bike ride before work will help with my speed as well since I'd be sort of pressed for time.

Looks like a win-win all around! Man, sometimes change really can be awesome.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time with My Skillet

I had a fantastic weekend in Baltimore with Amanda that was so overdue and needed. Her husband, Jay, was out of town for work so we decided we'd have a girls weekend for the first time in years! I left work early on Friday so we could have a full evening to celebrate ritual like the old days. It was just so awesome to spend uninterrupted time together and to catch up on so many things in person. Though I did miss seeing Jay, we just reverted back to our Atlanta days full of silly shenanigans and laughter. There was plenty of natty boh flowing and of course she made me do an oyster shot:
I'll admit that I've gotten so much better about them, even though I still feel like I'm swallowing a lump of goo. I'll also never understand why people willingly do those but oh well, it's tradition. :P

We spent the rest of the weekend riding bikes all around town, going to the farmers market (which I LOVED!), getting cocktails near the water. We also cracked each other up talking about old memories and all the ridiculous stuff we would get ourselves into. We have so many awesome experiences with each other and those memories will live on forever. I don't see Amanda nearly as much as I'd like so having that time with just her was really special for me.

From past...
to present...
...she will always be one of my special gifts in life. We can't wait to see what the future holds for both of us. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Month From Today...SKYDIVING!

Yep, that's right. One month from today, I'll be jumping out of a plane and I couldn't be more excited about it. A group of five of us are going on September 11th and I've honestly been counting down since we made the plans. I simply had to express my excitement here.

Weeeeee! :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome, Sweet Baby James!

Anyone who keeeps up with my blog regularly (hi Matt!) knows how much I adore my "niece", Gianna. I've written many posts about her, this being the first, but she's the daughter of one of my best friends, Erica. I know this sounds nuts but she's honestly the first baby I have ever been around. I'd never even held a newborn until her! At any rate, this post is not about Gia. This post is about her new baby brother, JAMES!

Erica got pregnant by surprise just a few months after Gia was born. So, while she and her husband, Austin, are very nervous to have two babies, they're naturally also ecstatic. James Austin Larkin was born a little bit ago at 3:31pm and I'm so excited, you'd think he was my kid - hence this immediate blog post. :P I'm just so thrilled for Erica and Austin and their now TWO precious children. God has blessed them with such a sweet life and his provision over them has been incredible. Erica is honestly like family to me so these two kids mean as much to me as my other nieces and nephew. I'm such a lucky lady to have the amount of love and joy in my life that I do! I'm so indirectly blessed by Erica's kids and I can't wait to watch them grow up.

I really thank god for intense miracles and I just had to note this day as James has come into the world. The best part is that I get to meet him in just three weeks when I head home for Labor Day. I can't wait! Welcome to the world, baby James:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Wow, the weekend flew by. I can't even believe it's Monday again! I've got so much going on and it's honestly making time pass faster than I can blink. Anyway, I've been researching culinary schools so much today that my eyes are crossing. In doing so, I was reading a guy's blog about the school I'm interested in and he had the following prose by Max Ehrmann listed in his "about me" section. I really connected with this today and it stirred my soul. I thought I'd share:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

I can't even express how much I love coming across things like this. It was written in the 1920's when Max Ehrmann was in his 50's. It wasn't even recognized in his lifetime which I find simply amazing. I'm just so glad I came across this today. The timing, as is so important in all of life, was perfect.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Last night might have been one of the best nights I've ever had. See, for years, my lovely sister has gone back and forth with the guys at work about how she could win a hot dog eating competition with ease. She proudly boasted that she could take down 8 dogs (with buns) in 25 minutes, no problem. The guys decided that enough was enough and they conferenced me into a call about a month ago so we could get a date confirmed to make these shenanigans happen. Well, last night was the night - and holy crap, was it awesome.

We decided the event should be held at Seafood's (long story on the nickname) place since he's the GUY and has an awesome rooftop. Anyway, I walked in to find all the guys with Nathan's hot dogs hats on and I absolutely cracked up. We opened a few cold beers and poured them right into Nathan's cups. I'm telling you, this was serious business. Seafood threw the dogs on the grill and we all waited for Allison to get prepared. I will admittedly state that I did NOT think Allison could do it and I've said so for weeks. That was the general consensus, though Camille fully supported her from day one. What a nice friend!

When we got the dogs in the buns, we just kinda stared for a minute at how much food was realistically on the plate. I mean, Allison almost didn't even begin out of sheer fright looking at what she was about to put in her body. It really didn't help that Scott sent this lovely gem earlier in the day:
I mean, windpipe?!? Seriously? Let's just say that Scott succeeded in psyching Allison out completely. Anyway, Theo got the 25 minute countdown ready and it was officially time to get the hot dog party started. Allison began slowly which got all of us in an uproar thinking we totally called it that she couldn't do it. However, she totally kicked those dog's asses. Watching her face as she got through each one was absolutely priceless. I can't even describe some of the expressions she was making but I crack up thinking about it, hahaha. The rule was she had to keep them down for 2 minutes and then she'd have Seafood's apartment to herself for 20 minutes. Um, I'm sure you can guess why. She completely dominated, with time left on the clock, and proudly put each of us in our place - minus Camille, the "real friend".

I seriously about peed my pants several times watching her. It was tremendous. Afterwards, once she had time to get herself together, Seafood treated us to an awesome night out with dinner and drinks. We had SO much fun and that'll definitely be one of my favorite memories for a very long time. I'll certainly post photos soon... 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No Jury Duty For Me

My time finally came this week to be summoned for jury duty. I had let my boss know I'd be out and she's actually the one that picked up on it being grand jury duty which means you have a mandatory amount of time you serve, no matter what, if picked. I decided to think on the bright side that I wouldn't be chosen worked!

I got down there bright and early on Tuesday and sat in the courtroom for a couple of hours waiting for the role call. I made quick friends with the girl and guy I sat with as we anxiously awaited our fate, hehehe. I was nervous because half the people on the role didn't even show up! I was so sure I'd be chosen. This is the luck I tend to have. At any rate, they chose two different groups of 25 people and I escaped. YEEEEEES! You serve for two weeks solid from 10am - 5pm so I'm thrilled to be free. The best part? I'm clear of any jury duty possibilities for the next six years. NICE! Our poor friend had his name chosen very last on the second group so we shed a tear for him...and then celebrated in our freedom. :P

Monday, August 2, 2010

Remember Who You Are

Finally, after several busy weekends, I was able to go back to church on Sunday. It's amazing how crazy life gets and, before you know it, a month has passed. I'd definitely been in a bit of a funk recently and I know some of that is attributed to the lack of going. I just get so much out of my time at church, be it teaching or worship, and it really affects me when I'm not in that community for too long. At any rate, the message this week was just awesome and exactly what I needed to hear.

I go most frequently to Redeemer but I'm also actively searching elsewhere to find a true church home. I believe so deeply in Tim Keller's vision and teaching but I don't connect with the church as a whole. I'm very emotionally driven when it comes to church and I'm not someone who just goes on Sunday to feel better about myself. I want to go and find a place where I can really get involved and where I'm passionate about that. I also don't believe that going to church makes you anymore of a christian than standing in a garage makes you a car. Church and fellowship groups are for nourishment, in my opinion. Just like you feed your body the nutrients it needs to perform, you have to feed yourself spiritually as well which is what keeps you sharpened, growing, and challenged. I do also believe that church is a discipline as well, though. I mean, do I honestly feel like going every week? No, but I remember that I need to be "fed" and it's essential to keeping my spirit refreshed and alive. That's how I know this funk I'd been in had a bit to do with not going. Every person is different but I know when I'm spiritually "starved" just like I know when I haven't gotten proper nourishment before a long run.

Anyway, Tim Keller wasn't there this past Sunday but the message was terrific, nonetheless. It was focused around the concept of remembering who we are...and to stop comparing our lives and ourselves to others. The pastor gave some very relevant examples from his own life experiences and I identified totally with everything he said. For years, all I did was put every ounce of self-worth into other people and things. I'd find my purpose in what others said about me and I'd create my self-image through the eyes of others, not myself...and certainly not god. I'd remain in a consistent rut of disappointment and heartache. I couldn't often see the bright side and I'd usually allow myself to wallow, thinking I'll never be good enough anyway so what does it even matter. I've put a great deal of work and effort into changing many patterns in my life and these thoughts are exactly what I started with. Hearing this intelligent, seemingly poised pastor tell details of his own battles with this stuff was pretty grounding. You realize you're not alone in these battles and you also realize something even more crucial - it's ok to be human and stumble. The point of his message on Sunday was to remember just how amazing you are because god created you. I look at myself and realize I have wonderful things to offer, I'm blessed beyond measure, and I'm needed, right here and now as I am. I am good enough. I am better than good enough. I am a gift.

It was so refreshing to hear his words of wisdom and to remember who I am. It shook me out of every part of the funk I'd been in and I felt so light afterward. There is absolutely nothing to worry about when I know that my entire life is in god's hands. I just need to 'be' and to remember what a treasure I am; to remember that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" as so beautifully stated in Psalm. That, my friends, is truth.

Side note: Happy birthday to my amazing and incredible mom! I love and miss that woman to pieces.