Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Playing catch-up: Crayola, Southwest Airlines, College Park, Parents+Puppy, Chipotle

Hello from College Park, Maryland!

I got here on Saturday, and my arrival was pretty surreal. First, I could see Camden Yards from my plane:
Okay, fine, I wasn't this close. Whatever. It was still cool.
And then, when I got picked up, my ride on the beltway including streets and places that I knew! Plus, the radio was set to Hot 99.5, the local pop music station. And I've already seen several Orioles t-shirts! It's almost like I'm home.

I'm almost always asked what the most difficult thing about being on the road is, and my answer is almost always the same: missing family and friends. It's difficult to spend a year on your own, especially when it means that most of the time you're hundreds - even thousands - of miles away from the people you love.

Sometimes, though, you get lucky.

And within the last week, I've gotten lucky twice! This past Thursday, while at Lafayette, I was able to get dinner with some wonderful people I know, and then on Sunday, I was able to eat dinner at home. Like, my real home. With my parents and my dog. It's really been an awesome week.

Just for catch up purposes, here's what else has been going on:
  • Wednesday: I ran to the Crayola Factory. I was then the oldest person in the Crayola Factory. Who cares though? I got to see the world's largest crayon and play with melted wax. Cooool.
  • Thursday: I was able to get dinner with people I love, and had this awesome burger that had bacon jam on it. What is bacon jam? I'm not sure either, but it's delicious and tastes kind of like BBQ sauce.
  • Friday: I left Lafayette for Rutgers, where I was able to eat at Tastee Subs, just like President Obama! I was able to spend another night with some wonderful women.
  • Saturday: I flew from Newark to BWI. For the first time, I had to be pat down following the big people scannin' machine. The machine picked up a zipper in my dress, which was cause for the pat down. As a positive, it definitely made me feel safer -- a zipper is so small! I also reconfirmed my love for Southwest Airlines, who made my day better with free peanuts, Diet Dr. Pepper, and smiling flight attendants. OH. And free checked bags. Also that.
  • Sunday: Got to see my parents and my dog!!! Also got to help facilitate a Recruitment Prep Workshop -- the recruitment nerd in me had the best time, and I'm so excited for next weekend to get here so that recruitment can start!
  • Monday: Thanks to a free morning/afternoon, was able to run with my dad and my dog around a local lake. It was fun and challenging all at the same time. My meetings started in the afternoon, and the chapter even took me out for frozen yogurt afterwards!
And that brings me to today. The only real thing I've done of note is gotten to go to Chipotle and have the burrito I've been craving. Otherwise, I've been working on reports and preparing for tonight's meetings and RPWs.

I should also probably stop eating all of the candy my mom sent me back to Maryland with... oops.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Training, treadmills, and crayons

I feel like I should change my blog name to “Running across America"” or something clever like that to describe my training regimen. Few people train in 10 different states before they run a half marathon! Usually, they have a route they love to run or their treadmill. At the very least, they’re typically training in the same place – air quality, altitude, and relative temperature don’t really change.

Yesterday, I completed my four miles on the indoor track at Lafayette College. Their campus is beautiful, and I am looking forward to getting to run outside tomorrow, but yesterday was rainy and gross – the gym was calling my name.

I could’ve ran on the treadmill, but to be honest, my relationship with that particular piece of equipment is mostly bad. Running is definitely a mind game, and I don’t like the treadmill telling me both how long I’ve been running and how far I’ve gone. It was much nicer to be able to zone out to music on the track and only count the laps. I actually ran a lot faster than I typically do on the treadmill, because instead of setting a speed, I rely on how I’m feeling to determine how hard I can push myself.

Tomorrow, I’ve got five miles to run according to my training plan. I’m planning on getting up a little bit early and making my way towards the city of Easton, which is about 1.5 miles away. Once I get there, I’m going to scope out the city on foot. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know how I’m planning to reward myself – with a trip to….



I’ve been scoping out all the places I’m visiting on Wikipedia, and picking things I want to do while visiting. And Easton, PA, as it turns out, is home to THE Crayola crayon factory.

Seeing crayons being made? Playing with wax? Learning more about markers? Yes please!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Jersey, new state.

Surprise! I am writing tonight from snowy New Jersey – a new state in my travels this year.

Well, I guess technically not, since I visited Princeton and Edison over my winter break, but none-the-less, it is still a new state in Delta Gamma-land for me.

If you’ve been following my sidebar, you know that today was supposed to be my first day at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. I did make it to Easton, plopped my bags down in my new room, observed this pretty neat conference for all of the leaders on their campus, and then packed an over night bag for a quick trip to the Garden State.

I’ll be helping with a recruitment workshop tomorrow, and then head back to Easton at night.

This job has definitely added some spontaneity to my life, and I am learning to enjoy the process and live more in the moment. Today that means I am getting excited to meet new women and see another college campus – Rutgers!

Here’s to hoping I have time to take photos!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Advice my mother gave me

This is my mom (Hi mom! Surprise, this blog is about you!):


My mom, as it turns out, is pretty awesome. She also has a lot of life experience, which means she gives some really great advice. Advice like:

Don’t procrastinate. Okay, so I never followed this. I just said she gave good advice, not that I was the best at following it… In college/high school/middle school/elementary school I was the queen of night-before-the-due-date-still-get-a-good-grade assignments. But the stress is terrible! And, mom, you are so right.

You can’t win unless you apply. So true! If you don’t enter the raffle, you’re clearly not going to win the prize – you have no ticket! This is probably my favorite piece of my mom’s advice. It’s why, despite losing class election after class election, I continued to put myself out there. In essence, it’s why I have the job that I have now. This little nugget of wisdom has probably given me what I think is one of my best qualities – tenacity.

Get a flu shot. 

And that piece of advice brings us to the reason for this post. Approximately two weeks ago, my mom tried to trick me into getting a flu shot. Can you imagine? Trick ME! Her 22-going-on-23-year-old daughter!

It happened like this: I thought we were going to Target to stock up on necessities for the semester (shampoo, water bottle, Nutella that got taken by airport security…), when suddenly, I was cornered in the Pharmacy! And then she propositioned me: “You know, you should really get a flu shot.”

Luckily for me, Target was out of flu shots, and I narrowly escaped her trap.

Of course, that didn’t stop the gentle reminders. And yet, I still didn’t bite. So here I am, blogging about how, after four months of being healthy on the road, I finally got sick.

Karma? Or crazy momma voodoo? Kidding, mom, I love you!

It started two days ago, with the sniffles. Then yesterday morning, when I woke up with a headache, fever, and cough, I started chugging the Emergen-c. Too late. Yesterday, I ended up having to give in to trying to sleep it off. I ended up napping throughout the day, and then had to give in to my mom on our nightly phone call – she told me so.

Luckily, after 13 hours of sleep last night, I feel about 80% today – crisis averted. This time.

Tomorrow, I’m walking one mile down the hill to CVS, and I’m getting my flu shot.

Thanks, mom.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why I love bid day

It’s January 15th, and it is bid day at Epsilon Lambda, where we welcomed 31 new members! It’s also the third bid day I have gotten to experience during my year as a CDC, and let me tell you – it never gets old.


Obviously, I have to share my bid day highlight – bid day 2010 at the University of Georgia, when my sister and I became “sisters times two.” Following a long two weeks as vp: membership, I was so excited to see my for real little sister, Amanda, walk off the bus and onto the Delta Gamma front lawn.

I love bid day because, to me, it is the epitome of everything our Fraternity stands for. Bid day, as it turns out, is all about friendship. It is a celebration of new beginnings – of women joining an organization which will give them memories, bridesmaids, best friends – and a celebration of renewal and rededication. At bid day, women who are already members are reminded of the purpose of the organization they have already pledged themselves to. They grow closer to those they have already made connections with, and expand their circle of friendship to include new women who share their interests and values.

It is a night full of smiles (and tears of happiness, if you are like me), of excitement, of relief. Adding new members to our organizations is why we exist, and while the process of getting there might be stressful at times, the result is always worth the stress and hard work it took to get there.

The purpose of Greek life is often debated; members will argue our purpose is philanthropy or scholarship or leadership. While all of those things are true, I believe my founders (and those of other Greek organizations) formed their club simply because they were friends, and they wanted to find others who valued the same things they did. Friendship, above all else, is what Greek life offers. Philanthropy, scholarship, leadership – all of these things are achieved through genuine friendship arising from mutual respect of one another.

I have another bid day to look forward to this semester (at Beta Sigma-Maryland!), and I am already looking forward to the smiles, the screams, the songs, and the tears.

Hello from the Lehigh Valley

Yesterday, after a delay in Columbus, a holding pattern over Philly, and a prop plane into the Allentown-Bethlehem Airport, I finally arrived at my first visit for the spring semester – Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania!


I’m here at our Epsilon Lambda chapter until next Saturday. The women have been very welcoming, and I’ve already gotten to experience two delicious meals out! I got to eat brunch this morning at Blue Sky, which is apparently a Bethlehem favorite, and then got to share a “plain pie (cheese pizza, for all of you non-Northerners)" with EVC late tonight as they were finishing their bid list.

SIDENOTE: Can we just talk about how I ate the best breakfast sandwich I have ever eaten in my entire life today? Cream cheese, local bacon, eggs, and apple on sun-dried tomato focaccia bread. Sounds weird, but I totally wish I could re-create it every day of my life. THAT good. No, really. If you’re ever in Bethlehem, check out Blue Sky Cafe.

DOUBLE SIDENOTE: Can we also talk about all of the delicious things I have eaten on the road? Salsa made tableside, today’s delicious breakfast sandwich, In n’ Out burger, sushi in Miami, another delicious burger in Minnesota… Definitely going to use this blog to talk about all the amazing things I eat. Perks of CDC living. Go home bigger?

This morning, I got to give myself a mini running tour of the campus (look at me counteracting all of those deeeelicious calories). My half marathon training plan called for 3 miles, so I suited up in running tights, three layers on top, my Redskins ear warmers, thermal gloves, and set off. Let me tell you, 30 degrees is no joke.

You know what else isn’t a joke? Hills. Hoooooly hills. Lehigh is actually situated on a hill (some of the chapter members informed me that the University pretty much owns the whole mountain), so I ran up and down hills and steps and took in some of the scenery this campus has to offer.

One thing I love most about the northern United States is the beautiful stone work. Seriously. The buildings up here are so gorgeous, and I am certain if I went to school here, I would spend hours taking it all in. I’m definitely looking forward to some more runs around campus, although a sweet collegian offered me a three day gym pass! Hooray for treadmill runs and weights!

Tomorrow is Bid Day here, and I am excited to post about it! It feels like Christmas Eve, and I think I’m just as eager as the collegians to get the list of Delta Gamma’s newest members!

Well, maybe not just as eager, but it’s certainly a close call.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reclaiming personal time

It’s almost surreal to be back at Executive Offices, preparing to head out on my second semester of travels. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ve updated my right sidebar with my spring semester schedule. It’s pretty exciting that I’ll get to visit so many new states I’ve never been to before, including Washington, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, and Illinois. This job is really giving me an incredible opportunity to see the country, and I am extremely grateful to be able to go so many places with incredible mountain views this spring!

Over the break, I took a lot of time to evaluate my last semester and what worked for me, and what I wanted to change for this semester.

I’m sure all of you who work in different fields can relate, but last semester I found myself eating, sleeping, and breathing my job. While it meant that I was able to give a lot to the chapters, I also found that in the process, I was beginning to lose myself. I don’t mean that to be incredibly deep or sad or anything, just that when I stopped setting aside time to do the things I loved beyond DG, I started to forget about my passions outside of my job.
(via Pinterest)
Luckily, break was a great time to step back and spend time on me – I got to spend time with my family, get back in the gym, and visit Athens. I even got to catch up with friends from home, which was a treat! I set new fitness goals (see: my last post), got a Kindle, and even began exploring job opportunities. I found new TV shows I love (hello Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, and Once Upon a Time), downloaded new tunes to my iPod, and volunteered with the Salvation Army.

I rediscovered my passions. And I’ve started bringing them back into my life.

I love to write. I’ve always loved to write. In elementary school, I entered writing contests, in middle school, I worked on yearbook, and then in high school, I wrote for the school paper. Even in college, I put my love to use writing letters to the editor and opinion columns for the Red and Black. This semester, there’s going to be more content on this blog as I give myself more time to write. I’ll try to stay away from politics, I promise!

While growing up, I used to get books mailed to me monthly. Four Baby Sitters Club books a month, to be exact. And I used to be the kid who sneakily read under the covers, by flashlight, after I was supposed to be asleep. Somewhere, between all the mandatory books I had to read for classes, I stopped reading for pleasure. I’m not sure why, because reading was something that I used to get so much joy out of, but somewhere along the way, the reading for fun disappeared. This year, with the recent gift of a Kindle, I am planning on reading at least one book a month. This month, I’m working on Moneyball, and I’ve also got Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Happiness Project just waiting to be read. I plan on doing lots of reading on my cross country flights!

As you read in my last post, I’m training for a half marathon. Yesterday I completed my first training run, 3 miles on the treadmill. I am feeling it a little in my legs today, but it’s that slight soreness that reassures you that you’re easing your body back into fitness. I’m excited to run another three miles today. I’ve even added a mileage counter to my blog – it’s on the right sidebar on the bottom.

And, just for fun, I’ve made it a goal to get through the first five seasons of Friends. Season one is cued up on iTunes as we speak!

I tell you all of this because, you, the reader of my blog, may be exposed to a wide variety of posts. I’ll be talking about chapter visits, cool things and places I experience, how my running is going, books I am reading, maybe even sports (one of my biggest passions of all!). I spent the last few days trying to decide which direction I wanted to take with my blog – would I be a fitness blog or a travel blog or just a life blog? The answer is that I’m going to be a smorgasbord. I love and care about so many different things, and I want to reserve the right to blog about anything and everything! Perhaps the blog will evolve over time, but until then, I’m just going to write about whatever I feel like.

My guess is that the quality will be better when it is not forced :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Half-iversary to Me!

Yesterday, while flipping through old pictures on my camera, I realized that tomorrow is an important one -- it's my half-iversary!


On January 8, 2011, I accomplished what is still one of my biggest accomplishments yet - completing my first half marathon. I did it in style, running the Disney World Half Marathon in sunny Orlando, kicking off 2011 with five other Delta Gammas, including my little sister! And while I have run another since (with my dad, following graduation), nothing is like finishing 13.1 miles for the first time.

Actually, that's a lie.

The feeling around mile 6, while running through Cinderella's Castle, is one I have never experienced in my life. During my race, mile 6 was when I realized that I was capable, powerful, and maybe even unstoppable.

If you're reading this and you're short on some self-confidence, grab your credit card, log onto the Runner's World race finder, and pick a half marathon at least four months away. Sign up. Google "half marathon running plans," pick one, and write your workouts in your planner. Use pen. Tell all of your friends about your race - better yet, get them to sign up too - and then, load some new music on your iPod, lace up your running shoes, get out the door, and run. Keep running for the next four months.

Then go out and finish your race.

I think the half marathon is the perfect distance. 13.1 miles is absolutely long enough to be challenging (and long enough for you to feel a sense of accomplishment), but not so long that you'll get injured going from couch to race. And, it's fun! The "wall" that marathoners talk about hitting around mile 20 is avoidable and/or minimal. It's a distance that can be fun.

Plus, training for and completing a half will surely end with you falling in love with running.

My dad is a runner. Even cooler, my dad is a marathoner. I remember when I was younger and he was training for the Marine Corps Marathon, which is held annually in Washington, D.C. His training looked awful, consisting of hours and hours running a continuous loop around the local high school track, and I could never understand why he did it. I mean, when I tried to run two miles, it was torture!

I hated running. I hated it when I had to do it for softball, I hated it when I did it occasionally with my dad, I hated it when we had to run the mile in gym class. If you had told 17 year old me that I would not only run a half marathon, but that I would enjoy it, I would laugh. In your face. Hard.

And if I'm being honest, I hated running when I started training for my half. It made me feel out of shape, I thought I was slow, and sometimes it made my legs hurt. But something magical happened, and somewhere along the way, I fell in love.

Running is unlike any other sport for several reasons:

One, it's all you. If you don't complete your workout for the day or you eat like crap the night before, it affects nobody else except for yourself. And that prevents you from lying - after all, is it even possible to lie to yourself?

Two, it's all you. I have found running to be an amazing stress reliever, excellent zone out time, and possibly better than any therapist out there. Setting out on a run - whether short or long distance - forces you to be inside your own head for a period of time. With the endorphins flowing, there is a sort of clarity that, at least for the duration of your workout, makes you feel like you can tackle all of life's problems. My dad used to tell me that he would sometimes go for 1-2 hour long runs on his lunch break, and would come back with solutions to work problems that he wasn't able to figure out at his desk.

Three, it's cheap and flexible! You can literally run anytime, anywhere, provided you have a pair of tennis shoes (and I suppose a light, if you're planning on running at night). For this reason, typical excuses don't work. You don't have to lug heavy equipment with you when you travel, and you don't need another person to run with.

Lastly, running doesn't go anywhere when you (stupidly...) decide to quit it. It is a sport that you can leave for a year and then pick back up. And when you do, you will briefly have the same love-hate relationship for a little before you fall back in love.

Over the past year, running has helped me when I needed to keep my head clear, and it has helped me to develop a more positive body image. And like I said, it has made me feel unstoppable.

Following my own advice, here we go: Friends, I will be running the Charlottesville Half Marathon on April 7th of this year. My training plan is in my calendar, and I will be running with my dad. All of you are welcome to join us, and I'd be happy to share my plan with you as well.

April 7th is also the day that my dad and I will be signing up to run our first full marathon together - the same race I watched him train for during my childhood - as online registration opens for the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. October 30th is the day that I will finish 26.2 miles.

2012 will be another year in what has been a love-hate relationship with running. Only this year, it will be mostly love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello 2012: Words to live by this year.

Here's to a year of doing what I love, stopping the over analyzing, wearing my passion, traveling, and creating new things with all of the people I will meet.