Saturday, June 30, 2012

getting in shape...gwyneth style

So it's beyond time for me to start working out on a regular basis. City living definitely equals a lot of walking; thank goodness because otherwise I'd be much more out of shape than I am.

I get regular, low impact cardio walking to and from work everyday, which is a little over 3 miles round trip. There are some mornings where I take the bus or train to work to avoid being late but I always walk home. I'd like to start running again but haven't made it happen yet.
Lately, I've been feeling a little squishy. My thighs could use some serious toning and my arms could stand to beef up a bit. When Gwyneth Paltrow's weekly newsletter, Goop, popped in my inbox it led me to a write-up about her Iron Man 2 workout. Her post, The Making of Pepper Potts, includes a five minute teaser video with leg exercises from her trainer, Tracy Anderson. I've included the video below.

When I get back from vacation next week I'll be starting this workout. My legs are going to be screaming: "Burn, baby burn!" I'll let you know how it goes!

P.S. If you've never checked out Goop you definitely should. It's a great lifestyle publication with something for everyone. Plus, you can't help but love Gwyneth!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

wednesday wisdom...

I had something different planned for today's Wednesday Wisdom, but Nora Ephron's passing warrants a meaningful tribute.The New York Times published several articles yesterday and today highlighting Ephron's many accomplishments as a journalist, writer, screenwriter, and director. Links are included below.

As a fellow female writer and journalist, I have long admired Ephron's wit, honesty, and drive. Her iconic prose strikes at the heart of life's realities and conundrums. Talk about someone developing their own voice. Her genius, playful masterpiece, "You've Got Mail", is among my top five favorite films of all time. I never tire of watching it---a true classic.

The quote I highlighted before is one of my favorites, but in reading some of the NYT articles yesterday I also cam across this one:

“I have spent a great deal of my life discovering that my ambitions and fantasies — which I once thought of as totally unique — turn out to be clich├ęs."

Like all things Ephron, she couldn't be more right! 

New York Times articles
photo source

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

quarter of a century...

It's my birthday today. I'm 25 years old. Quarter of a century. I'm not where I thought I'd be at 25 but I've learned that our plans often don't play out the way we envision.

People ask you where you see yourself in five years. I'm not sure how I answered that question at the age of five. When you're that young you haven't yet been conditioned to constantly look to the future. At 10 I saw myself as a future varsity softball player on my way to being valedictorian.

At 15 looking fiver years down the road I saw myself as a junior at BYU finishing up my exercise science degree, dating a great guy and embracing my young adult years. At 20 I thought by 25 I'd be married and maybe have a baby---facing the next phase of life with someone else by my side.

Today, in five years at the age of 30 (Ahh!) I hope to see myself out of debt, working in a job that I enjoy, and married or in a serious relationship. And, if it's feasible, I'd like to own a Mini Cooper. Have you seen The Italian Job?!

With every birthday since I hit my 20s I've panicked at the thought of being in the exact same place in my life as the previous year. My best friend Sarah can attest to this. A few months into being 22 I started saying I was almost 23. She still loving teases me about my ridiculousness.

At 25 I live in a quaint studio apartment in Chicago. I'm thousands of miles away from the family and friends I love dearly. I'm mom to a sweet little cat named Harper. I recently completed my first year of grad school. Still not sure how I managed that.

Figuratively and literally I'm not in the same place I was a year ago. My greatest fear has not manifested itself. It probably never will. Deep down I know I have the ability to make progress in my life with each new year, but I'm human. Too often I give into doubt.

With each new day I'm trying to find my place in this world. Even though I haven't yet found someone to share my life with I've been blessed with wonderful family and friends. I know I am loved. That's what keeps me going and gives me hope for a bright future---a better one than I could ever plan or imagine.

Portrait by my very talented friend Tessa Ryser.

Monday, June 25, 2012

we'll take summer...

I've never been a fan of summer (insert gasp here). Growing up I didn't have a ton of friends who lived close by so getting together for play dates was hard. Trying to dress modestly in the summer was also a challenge. Determining what back-to-school clothes I'd be buying was always much more fun. Most of all, I missed school. Nerdy...I know. I've never been very carefree. I didn't like not having the structure of a routine. Plus, I was bored without school. Thank goodness for the library.

As I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate summertime. Relaxing and being carefree is a good change of pace. We all need to step back and take a deep breath more often than we do. Having just finished my first year of grad school I am relishing the fact that I'm not taking summer classes. Hallelujah. Aside from the actual weather that defines our definition of "summer", summer is also a state of mind. A euphoric antidote for the realities of life. Yesterday, the following passage from a New York Times article caught my attention:
"And no matter what the clock, the calendar or the scientists say, the season is whatever our senses and emotions say it is. It may feel like summer in early April or fall on a cool, gray day in July. The calendar wants to apportion just so much summer and no more. But we know better. We’ll take whatever summer we can find, whenever we can find it."

Here's to finding the summers in our lives!

Friday, June 22, 2012

graduation memories...

Saturday was my baby sister's high school graduation. Seven years ago that was me with the same cap and gown, honors cords, gold EHS stole. Same place. Different time. High school graduation is such a sorted life event. It is meaningful and meaningless all in the same breath. More on that concept in a separate post.

Unlike many girls at my sister's graduation, I chose to wear my black bow flats instead of five inch heels. I had to walk up and down that stage twice. Falling was the last thing I wanted to do. My sister chose to wear red Vans. That's how we spotted her in the mass processional. Where is she? Where is she? Just look for the red shoes!

I remember frantically searching for Johnson before we had to process onto the arena floor. What if I mess up my speech? What if I forget my words? Somehow I found him. Riss, you're going to be fine. Take a deep breath. That was all I needed. A vote of confidence from my coach whom I loved so well. If he knew I could do it, then I did too.

Like the two speakers at my sister's graduation, I believe I delivered a timely and smart graduation speech. However, my speech didn't reference "YOLO". Drake hadn't yet come on the scene to promote that ideal.

My family sat in the same seats for my sister's ceremony as we did for mine. It felt strange to be sitting in the seats with the people who I looked up to for love and confidence during my own ceremony. It was wonderful to see my sister's smiling face and cheer her on. We tried to bring the house down with our cheering when they called her name. She told us later that she didn't hear anything. She was in her own world.

After receiving my diploma, Johnson was there at the bottom of the steps. A perfect ending to my high school career. His eyes and smile reflected the confidence he'd help me find. Without Johnson I would not be who I am today. It sounds cliche but it's true. His confidence in me fostered my own confidence. I knew he recognized and believed in my worth as an individual and athlete. 

My sister said she had the perfect graduation night. It couldn't have been better. She was truly happy and that doesn't happen a lot. After the ceremony (which was only one hour and nine minutes...fantastic), Spencer and I accompanied my sister, Kara, and Hakim to the bowling alley on 164th. We bowled until 2:00am, laughing and rocking out to old school music videos. Plus, to my brother's delight, we were there for cosmic bowling.

My post graduation night didn't go as planned. Keely and I were supposed to get together for pie and such but my Aunt Zanne ended up taking my entire family, including my friends John and Michelle, out to dinner. It was fun but not what I'd expected.

So much has happened in my life since that day in June seven years ago. My high school best friend walked out of my life. The first boy I loved broke my heart and I learned how to heal. My brother came out that he was gay. Depression became part of my daily struggle. My family moved to a new house.

A major depressive episode forced me to withdraw from college. A little less than a year later I found myself at a different university, a place where I spent three years finally knowing what it meant to be happy. I met Sarah, Josh, Chad, Emilee, Cassie, and Amy. I finally had my first kiss. I had an amazing job with the alumni association with the best boss anyone could ask for. I bought my first car. My grandpa died.

I dated a boy who I thought I would marry, but we were never on the same page. My best friend Sarah left on a mission, as well as my two other closest girls, Emilee and Cass. It was a long two+ years while they were away.

I graduated magna cum laude with my bachelor's degree in English from Utah State. I took an internship with the Church and moved to SLC. My high school bestie Keely and I got to live in the same city for the first time since high school. Chadly got married. My brother found the love of his life. 

I decided to apply to grad school and was accepted to Gonzaga and DePaul. I chose DePaul, moved home for the summer, and then drove over 2,000 miles with my dad to Chicago. Keely moved to LA. Sarah had her first kiss. Our dogs Caddie and Russell passed away and Brinkley entered our lives. I sold my first car. My dad lost his job with Pemco where he'd worked for 15+ years.

Earlier this month I finished my first year of grad school. This September will mark my one year mark living in Chicago. In less than two weeks I'm flying to Utah to visit my friends and extended family. I can hardly wait!

If you'd asked me seven years ago what I thought my life would be like now I certainly wouldn't have painted this picture. I thought I'd be married and planning the rest of my life with someone else. Hopefully have at least one kid. However, that hasn't been my story and I've had to find peace with that. I know my opportunity will come when it's the right time.

Plans and goals are good to have but we aren't in full control of our lives. Heavenly Father takes us down the right paths even when we don't know where we're going. The words of the Natasha Bedingfield song they played at EE's graduation say it all: "The rest is still unwritten."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

wednesday wisdom...

Today's Wednesday Wisdom is a mantra I keep repeating as of late. In the broader sense, I believe this truth applies to everyone--we all want things to work out. However, at certain times this desire is ever more present. Right now I have two potential, major career opportunities.

Trying to be patient is killing me.

I'm waiting to find out if I made the cut for my dream internship and in a few weeks I'll be applying for a full-time position with my department. I'd have more responsibility, benefits, sick leave, and my second year of school paid for! It would change my entire life, as would the internship I'm waiting to hear back on. 

I just want things to work out.

image source

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

wednesday wisdom...

This is how I felt every day last week. It was the last week of spring quarter and end to my first year of grad school. Going through my first year of grad school has been like running my first marathon. Last week was mile 21 and I had nothing left in me. All I could do was try to breath and tell myself I could make it to the end. Breathing really can be a phenomenal accomplishment.

image source

Monday, June 11, 2012

the long hot summer...

Over Memorial Day weekend a few weeks ago temperatures here in Chicago were consistently over 90 degrees. It's no secret that I'm a total heat wimp. Although I spent five years in Utah where the summers do tend to heat up. However, I grew up in Seattle. Enough said. Heat is not my thing. The humidity induced heat of the Midwest is even better than Utah. Oh baby. Little Harper and I were beyond uncomfortable. She retreated to the closet and buried herself in my laundry basket. Cuddling together was definitely a no go.

My dad had been bugging me to get an air conditioner for the past month or two but the temperatures had been so mild and with trying to finish up school I just hadn't gotten around to it. After the grueling heat making me and Harper both want to keel over, I decided it was time. Last week I ordered my air conditioner off and waited patiently for it to arrive. The only problem was the UPS guy wouldn't leave it in my building without me signing for it because he said it would get stolen. I'm not home during the day and I don't have roommates. Harper obviously can't sign for a package. Dang it.

I had to have the package re-routed to my work address. Did I mention the air conditioner weighs 42 pounds? Not cool (no pun intended). So Tuesday after work I hauled the air conditioner to the bus stop, lugged it onto the bus, got off at the Roscoe stop, and huffed and puffed the remaining three blocks to my apartment...only to be met with four flights of stairs. It was super fun. The joy of living in the city after selling my car.

Saturday I finally had the time to install it. I could have called my building manager to have him do it or help me, but I'm stubborn. I did it myself. At first I wasn't sure if the unit would be able to cool my whole apartment down but after a few hours the entire room was transformed. Harper slept peacefully and my constant sweating reduced itself considerably. Walking into my apartment from the outside is actually cooler now rather than the other way around.

All of this heat and uncomfortableness has made me long to watch the movie "The Long Hot Summer". A friend in college introduced me to the movie and my love affair with Paul Newman commenced. He's so ruggedly handsome and his acting skills match the caliber of his outward physique. Joanne Woodward was a lucky lady.  

For those of you unfamiliar with the film, the characters, storyline, and setting are all influenced by the works of literary master William Faulkner. The climax of the story is reminiscent of "Barn Burning", one of Faulkner's short stories I read in AP English. The sexual and emotional tension between the characters, particularly Paul and Joanne, builds throughout the course of the film just like the squelching heat of a summer's day. It's breathtakingly hot and all without skin and sex scenes. Thank you films of yesteryear. The story's depth is fantastic and shows the power of old cinema.

This weekend I ordered the DVD from Amazon. It's supposed to arrive today. So tonight, after watching the Mad Men finale, I will be watching "The Long Hot Summer" in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. Bring on the heat...

image source

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's 3:00 am...

It's 3:00 am and I can't sleep. I had a rough weekend where all I did was sleep during the day so that of course has thrown me off. Plus, I haven't taken my medication since Saturday because I ran out thinking I still had one more bottle---nope. Hopefully the rush order will get here soon because I feel very out of sorts.

For the past few minutes tears have been slowly rolling down my cheeks as I peruse a new photography blog taking in all the engagement, wedding, and expectant family wonder. It's no secret that finding my husband and starting a family are what I long for most, what keeps me awake at night (case in point). It's hard to have faith and move forward when you can't see the whole staircase or where it leads. But, Martin Luther King was right, courage is taking the first step. That's what I try to do everyday. Some days I move forward and others I fall back, but I try to keep moving.

I don't always know why I'm here or where I'm going. If I can muster the strength tomorrow to go interview Gus at Stella's Diner, write my story, and submit it by Wednesday, I'll have made it through my first year of grad school. Right now that's something I can't comprehend. It seems impossible. I'm ready for a break. To let the brave juice have a rest. I go home to see my family in less than two weeks. My baby sister is graduating from high school...another life event that's difficult to believe.

In a month I'll be in Utah with my best friends again. They want me to move back. Missing them is the hardest part of living so far away. Sometimes I think doing something big and trying to find myself is overrated. The comfort of home has always been something I dismiss as being less worthy or desirable compared to other aims or necessities in life. I'm not sure when I started but I'm fairly certain I've conditioned myself to believe that needing home, being in a place where I'm comfortable, is weak. That it's a luxury I'm not able to afford.

I live in an amazing city and have the wonderful opportunity to be in grad school, but I honestly don't know how I manage to make it through each day. I'm living on borrowed money and sometimes borrowed time. I know I'm not alone in my feelings or place in this world at the age of almost 25, but that doesn't always make a difference in how I feel.