One To Nothin'

Half Dome-ination

Running has meant so many different things to me throughout my life. Freshman year of high school it was a source of anxiety because I couldn’t beat the elusive 9-minute mile to achieve the Presidential Fitness Award in PE class. I remember feeling  defeated by it, and getting faster seemed entirely impossible.

Sophomore year of high school I started playing soccer and gained some confidence in my athletic abilities (however meek they may have been). Then, one fateful day, I saw a sign taped up in the hallway and those Comic Sans letters said, “Want to get in the best shape of your life? Join Cross Country!” So I did.
Back then I hoped it would be a way to look good in a bikini, and I did drop about 15 lbs right away, but I also made some of my best friends in the universe. We suffered through 3pm runs in the Florida heat. We ate pasta together the night before races. We sang silly songs and made up ridiculous dances to distract from the lactic acid building in our scrawny legs. We laughed all. the. time. We got competitive sometimes, but mostly we made something I thought would be impossible to ever enjoy the most fun thing of my young life. 

I loved running, but I knew I wasn’t going to try to make it competitively in college, so for a while I lost it. I missed having my team to get sweaty with every day, and my new group of sorority gals weren’t really the running type (drinking? oh yes. running? nah). I was having fun, but I wasn’t running and I was starting to feel pretty rotten because of it.

I was at the beach with my BFF’s family sophomore year of college and this older gal I didn’t know very well told me she ran a half marathon. I had to know everything—how did she train? How hard was it? What was the course like? It was like she flipped the switch. The revelation that people from all over the world came together to run 3, 9, 13 and 26 miles together made me realize, once again, that maybe I could be athletic too. I signed up right away (and couldn’t convince a single other soul to do it with me), and I trained my ass off. Once again, I looked and felt good, and I realized this was gonna be a thing for as long as my body would let it.
I’ve used running as a way to make new friends, and it’s my favorite way to bond with old ones. It’s been a way to find bloggers to follow when I didn’t even know they existed, and a way to connect with ones who are just starting to discover their running potential. It’s my way to explore new cities when I travel, and an excuse to travel in general—Disney, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and, last weekend, Yosemite. 

Sometimes I train really hard and crush it (like for that marathon), and sometimes I wing it and just have fun (...and can’t move the next day, or the next). But no matter how far I go or how prepared I am, the best feeling in the world is sharing the experience and excitement with people who inspire you, support you and crack you up all at the same time.
The group of women who ran the Yosemite Half Marathon with me this past weekend were the perfect example of the bond that running creates. There were some old friends and the new acquaintances felt like old friends. They were fast, talented, friendly and hilarious. They were happy to pose for the camera (and occasionally stand behind it), and they never missed an opportunity to laugh. They shared their positive energy, cooking skills, rounds of applause and delicious food with me, and I shared wine—lots and lots of wine.
I had an amazing time earning this gorgeous race medal with these people—I can’t think of a better group to share a house and Morning Chardonnay with. So here’s a toast to the ones I love the most—running, friends and the friends who love running. 

Special thanks to Wente for providing the breakfast beverage of choice. Check out their wine selection and their vineyard, and don't forget to celebrate Chardonnay Day on May 25 (I'll be collaborating with them again next weekend in Livermore--so excited!).

Summer Skin (and scalp)

Can I get real with you guys for a second? My body does some weird stuff, and it gets weirder when the weather starts to change. Then, when you add stress to the mix…that shit cray.
Mostly it’s been good stress around here. Writing about beauty things full time, trying to train for a half marathon at high altitudes (this weekend—AHHH), working another job part-time, blogging and refusing to not have a life (seriously, I’m grateful for this kind of stress). But it takes a toll nonetheless, especially on my skin and scalp. When it’s super hot out, right after I work out, or if I’m freakin’ out about who knows what, that’s when my face decides to break out into lovely hives. They sort of look like little mosquito bites except I know they’re not because sweet, sweet California doesn’t have many mosquitos, and I know from 23 years of Florida experience that my mosquito bites swell up to the size of a planet. Then there’s my scalp, which is just as itchy and makes wearing black The Worst (especially now that I work in an office and don’t wear yoga pants every day—le sigh).
So far the only cure for my hives is a daily dose of Zyrtec (not ideal), but my dermatologist tried to tell me my scaly, itchy scalp was from psoriasis just a couple months ago (I finally caved and went to the doc when it spread to my ear). The only thing is, I think she’s wrong. My genetically identical mother (who works in the medical field) is convinced it’s the same condition she’s had forever—seborrheic dermatitis. It’s not making my hair fall out or anything, but it does itch, it is embarrassing (since it flakes like dandruff) and it’s stress-triggered, so it’s not my favorite thing to deal with on top of other things. Anywayyyy, I’m telling you this because it’s been bad lately and coincidentally I got to try some Vanity Planet products that I think are going to help.

When I was in Florida last weekend I was chatting with my mom about the state of my scalp. I’ve tried all kinds of medications on my head over the years, but after having a long discussion with my mom about ways to stop adding chemicals to my body, I told her I’d give some more natural remedies a shot. One of the best cures for everything is coconut oil, so I wasn’t all that surprised that this anti-inflammatory super oil was considered a treatment for seborrhea. When Vanity Planet offered to let me try a scalp massager I was down, and I was excited to use it with some regular old coconut oil, but I was pleased to find out the package already came with a hair treatment containing coconut oil--win, win.
The Remi Moisturizing and Restorative Treatment (that comes in a cute little pouch) contains natural extracts like argan oil, castor oil and coconut oil to help liven up my dead ends while soothing my scalp. I haven’t been using it long enough to say that it has made a huge difference in my scalp situation, but I do know that my hair is shiny and the scalp massaging brush feels goo-oo-od. Vanity Planet was a new brand to me, but I’m excited to try out some of their makeup and skincare products in the future.

AND while were on the topic of hot air ruining my body…how cute are my new bathing suits? I just want to be on the beach forever right now. The other products shown are my go-tos lately—a primer that contains UV-protection, ALL the lipsticks, eyebrow filler, mascara and micellar water. Summertime = less foundation, more freckles and all the experimental lip colors.

Anywho, I want to know what's going on with you. Have you ever had to deal with scalp issues or recurring hives? I know its not sexy to talk about, but it seems fairly common and I like to keep it real around here—whether it’s adult acne or drunk blogging my inadequacies. Do you have any advice or remedies for me? Have you ever tried Vanity Planet products? Get at me, friends.

OH, and if you'd like to try any of their hair products, use the code SpringHair25 at checkout to get 25% off.


A Type B Picnic

I’m quite a fan of personality tests. I think finding insight into my own behavior is fascinating. I’m sure that sometimes this allows some randomly commissioned copywriter to take creative liberties when it comes to my behavior analysis, but it’s all in good fun.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Type A personalities. I see them everywhere because they are so proud (and they should be—it’s hard work). You hear them speaking to it in job interviews and bragging about it in their Instagram bios. You might even hear them complaining about a Type B’s little red number indicating unread emails on their iPhones (ahem).
But I want to know why we Type B personalities aren't living loud and proud about it? I am Type B allllll the way. I currently have three weeks worth of dirty laundry in my room and that little red number is 7,355 for me rn (no joke). Sure, I kind of wish I’d found time to do laundry on Sunday, but I’m not going to think or stress about it until I’m trying to find clean undies for tomorrow, and that’s when I’ll get it done. I always get it done, it just might take me a little longer (or maybe not, since I certainly won’t be ironing any of the clothes after they come out of the dryer).
According to the internet, "Type B personality are noted to live at lower stress levels. They typically work steadily, and may enjoy achievement, although they have a greater tendency to disregard physical or mental stress when they do not achieve."

Okay, so that achievement part sounds negative, but lower stress levels? Working steadily? Giving yourself a break when things aren’t perfect? Sounds like a win to me. Take this picnic for example. Yes, I wanted it to look beautiful. I prepared pretty food, I was provided with gorgeous wine, cheese and butter, and I got myself all dressed up for photos. But it took everything I had to not dig into the spread before photos were taken. The Type B in me was screaming, “WHO CARES IF IT LOOKS GOOD?! Eat it, eat it now!"
It probably didn’t help that I had an audience wondering why I wouldn’t just eat the wings already. For me, Type B means doing the best I can without ruining the fun. I want to have a picnic where things look pretty and I can pop a bottle of sparkling rosé while laughing at myself along with the bystanders. I want to be okay with forgetting the serrated bread knife and using the blanket as a napkin. As soon as the camera stops clicking, my hair is going to be in my face, I’m probably going to spill buffalo sauce on my dress and I’m going to have a blast. 
We are consistent in our quest to get things done in a way that doesn’t cause high blood pressure. We know perfection isn’t always the best way to go, and we embrace the opportunity to drink wine in the middle of the day when there are dozens of more “productive” things we could be doing. 

Now that you have a better idea of how this picnic actually went down, let’s discuss the fabulous French aspects of this spread. The French Ministry of Agriculture is to thank for the five bottles of wine from Languedoc, Provence and Alsace, as well as the cheese from Meuse and butter from Normandy. The last time I was in France, I was 15 which means I was certainly drinking wine (because I could) and I ate ALL the butter and cheese because I didn’t know I was lactose intolerant yet (ahh, the good ole days). Luckily, we are still capable of enjoying this incredible French cuisine right here in the states. Since there were only two of us (I promise I didn’t drink five bottles alone—somebody has to take photos!), we only had a chance to try two bottles so far—the sparkling rosé and the pinot gris, but I can assure you the other three will be put to good use in the near future. 

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A beautiful wedding weekend

The past few times I stepped out of the intensely air conditioned airport and out into the hot, wet air of the arrivals level, I felt suffocated. It was shocking and hard to breathe in more ways than one. The excitement of seeing my family would, for a moment, be lessened by the humidity attacking me from every angle.
Somehow I’d forget every time that it wasn’t going to be refreshing to step outside after being incapsulated for so long. My sticky skin, my inevitably stuffed sinuses and itchy, sleep-deprived eyes usually leave me hoping I don’t sound less excited than I am on the 90-minute drive home. Of course, I’m always happy to see them, but it’s not always easy hopping out of one life and back into another one that’s been going right along living without me this whole time. Sometimes it’s harder than I’d like to admit, but this time felt different. Instead of being assaulted by the warm air (and warm was a serious understatement this weekend), I felt welcomed by it. The hot air hugged me, welcomed me home, made me feel grateful and nostalgic.
Maybe it was because I finally got to eat honey mustard zingers from Ale House or because I just bought two new bikinis and I’d actually get to swim. Maybe it’s because for once I had the sense to secure a window seat and pop a sleeping pill before my red eye. Maybe it’s because I knew I was about to see some of my oldest friends—standing next to one while she married the love of her life, playing with another’s seven-month-old first born for my very first time, reintroducing another to my family after many years, and recognizing faces that have known me longer than anyone else.
Maybe it’s knowing that every person I’ve worried about on this coast is thriving, overcoming and absolutely crushing it right now, and I’m proud of us. We struggled for a while, and now there's that group sense of relief when you’ve shared an experience and come out on the other side. The clean, clear energy in the room.
All culminating in a beautiful ceremony—everyone looking their best, feeling buzzed on champagne and the electricity of two people stupid in love. Decorations, festive feels, reunions and suddenly looking forward to the future—all of it. Not just the little bits sprinkled throughout, sparkling amongst the grey. The whole thing. The hard parts too. This time Florida felt friendly and familiar. I felt grown up and pretty and happy. It's always great to be home, but it doesn’t always feel like home and this time it really did.
I’m not leaving California any time soon, friends. Don’t you worry. But it was really lovely to be in Florida this weekend. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Parker. I’m so glad you two found each other and brought all of us together to celebrate your love.

The Audiobook Obsession Is Real

Guys, this post has been sitting my drafts for so long. Like, I've listened to a dozen new audiobooks since then, long. Like, I hope I can even remember what these books were about, long. Like, I was listening to these back when I could run 26.2 miles straight, long. And I've been watching Gilmore Girls every night instead of blogging, so I don't know when to make my list rambles stop. Anywho, here are some books I listened to on tape a long time ago (can I still call them that?) and my emotional reactions to them. Do with them what you will.

"Girl On The Train" - Paula Hawkins
This murder mystery book-recently-turned-movie started off sloooow. I am all for making up stories in my mind about the random people I see on trains and getting a little too hammered sometimes, for that matter, but it took me a while to get into this one. Once I did it was compelling for sure, and even though a couple of the voices featured in the audiobook are jarring, I'd recommend it if you're looking for a read you can get lost in. 

"On The Road" - Jack Kerouac
This classic was pretty much everything I'd built it up to be in my mind all these years. Adventure, literature, drunken debauchery, so much epic road tripping and a littttttle too much creeping on the lady characters (especially the young ones--chill out there, Jack). Definitely worth the listen though. Dude does a great job of reading even if he does pronounce huge without the H. 😒

"The Martian" - Andy Weir
If you're surprised that this one made the list, that's okay--so was I. I'm not usually a sci-fi kind of gal, but I am very trusting of a majority of stellar reviews. I still haven't watched the movie, but I will say that for a book that is almost completely an inner dialogue mixed with very technical space things, it was really flippin' funny. The reader was excellent too--the bro-iest nerd ever. 

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" - Milan Kundera
UGH don't do it. Just don't. The best part of this book was the very minor role of the dog. I believe much of the meaning is lost in translation, so please enlighten me if this is your fave. But otherwise, do yourself a favor and do not listen to it on tape. There are some effed up dream sequences and waaay too many anus references. I regret spending a full credit on this guy.

"Modern Romance" - Aziz Ansari
Oh, Aziz. I already loved him for his role in Parks and Rec, but it was his Netflix show "Master of None" that really turned me into a fan (I highly recommend you watch the first season ASAP). I figured this book would be funny and full of anecdotes, but I didn't really expect to learn as much as I did. He dives into some super relatable modern dating research, conducts studies, gets experts to weigh in and fills you in on the goings on of dating culture in other countries as well. It's quick, it's informative, it'll make you laugh and he reads the audiobook himself, so there are plenty of extra giggles to be had.

"Luckiest Girl Alive" - Jessica Knoll
This is not a book for everyone, particularly not for those of the masculine species, but I liked it. That plot twist, man. It's a fast-moving mystery, but it's buried under 556 too many designer name drops and body/eating issues (but not in a constructive way. I'm all for an educational moment on disorders--that's not what this was).

"Gone Girl" - Gillian Flynn
YAS KWEEN! I don't know why it took me so long to get to this one. Clearly everyone already knew this twisted story was awesome before I did, but the audiobook particularly rocks. The voices are on point, and I plowed through all 19 hours and 11 minutes of it in maybe a week? Maybe less? If you don't already know the plot of this book, I'm not even going to describe it. Just go read or listen, but please, for my sake, do not watch the movie first. It's good, but it's way more fun to watch after you've read it.

"The Gifts of Imperfection" - Brene Brown
Meh. I may have completely overdone the self-help genre at this point in time (ahem, all this was happening), but I wasn't all that impressed by this one. Granted I was trying to learn why it's okay to be imperfect when I've always, always embraced imperfection while doing the longest training runs of my life just as the weather was getting hot AF, so who knows who the real culprit here is. All I know is the cover art is fugly. Why.

"Flowers For Algernon" - Daniel Keyes
Did you guys have to read this a million years ago? It was never on any of my reading lists back in school (Why yes, I did read every single book that was ever assigned to me. How did you guess?), so I decided to go for it as an adult. It was lovely, heartbreaking and super interesting. The reader on this one did a great job--not an easy feat when the author depicts changes in the lead character's mental capacity and health through spelling and grammatical errors in the journal. It's certainly not a happy-go-lucky story, but it's important.

"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" - Elizabeth Gilbert
This one's for my creatives out there. If you've ever felt overwhelmed, incapable of creating or scared to start/finish, I suggest you read this one immediately. It's very inspiring, and far less annoying than others in its genre (promise).

I'm getting on a plane to Florida tonight and I'm almost finished with my longest audiobook yet (32 hours!!). Any suggestions for my next Audible credit? Any IRL books you've loving lately? Let's talk books! See my up-to-date reading list and be my friend on Goodreads.

PS: Check out old book reviews here, here, here and here.

PPS: Need new music? Here's my 2017 list so far. If you don't have Spotify, you're doing it wrong.


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