Happy hearts and happy bellies

Sitting across from my best friends at breakfast Sunday morning, I’m struck by how beautiful they all are and how lucky I am to have them in my life. Yes, they are all pretty women, I’ve always known that. But over the past year or so I’ve realized that my friends are all around beautiful people: they are strong, smart, funny, kind, driven, loyal, caring, comforting people and my life wouldn’t be the same without them in it.

In high school and through college I think I took my friends for granted–often opting to spend time Mike and his friends instead of my girlfriends.  It’s not until I graduated from college and moved away from them all that I realized how precious friendships are, how much girlfriends add to your life.

We had an amazing weekend together.  Planned about a month ago to celebrate Jordyn’s birthday and her return to the east coast (she moved from LA to DC in January), we were all so looking forward to the girl time. We each had our own reasons for looking forward to the trip, and I think it was exactly what we needed.

The girls got to DC on Friday night and the grown-up slumber party began with dinner at my apartment. (I made this.) Having us all around my kitchen table was a bit surreal. If it was in a movie a slow happy song would play as the camera slowly pans over each of our faces as we smile, throw our heads back in laughter, and raise our glasses for a toast. It’s crazy to think that we’re all adults now and our conversations focus on work, serious relationships, being moms some day, finances, goals, and dreams.

Saturday morning my living room was covered in air mattresses, blankets, and luggage just like my bedroom was in middle school when these slumber parties began. I made my favorite pancakes and we went to my favorite yoga class. We got back around lunchtime and Mike made us all homemade pizza. Then we just veged in our gym clothes for the afternoon, read magazines, books, took naps, watched a movie. Because we really didn’t have to do anything.  We just wanted to be together. 

We put ourselves together on Saturday night for a night out on the town. We had an 8 o’clock reservation at Zaytinya and after two sketchy cab rides we all arrived at our destination. We shared a few carafes of the Pom Fili (white wine, vodka, and pomegranate juice) and sampled a lot of menu items: salads, fritters, spreads, meats. We left dinner with happy hearts and happy bellies.

Next, we headed to POV at the W Hotel just a quick walk away from the restaurant.  We felt pretty baller walking in and when we got to our table I was so excited we were there.  POV, the rooftop bar, is one of my favorite places in the city and I’d been wanting to take girlfriends there for a while.  Unfortunately, our stay was short-lived.  As we began ordering our first drinks, the server said “did anyone tell you about the policy?” “No,” we said, “what policy?” “It’s a $50 per person minimum or you have to do bottle service.” WHAT?!?! Since we were all pretty full and not wanting to spend $60 on drinks alone, we left our table and headed back to my neighborhood. We had a drink at a neighborhood bar before coming back to my apartment, making Pillsbury cinnamon buns, and going to bed.

And so quickly it was Sunday morning.  Of course, I had to take my friends to my favorite breakfast place: Open City in Woodley Park. As we chat over coffee, I get a bit emotional at the joy of the experience and wish that I could be surrounded by these girls all the time.  These are girls I’ve liked since middle school but have come to truly admire in the past few years.  Luckily, the conversation quickly turns to when we can have another weekend like this and we brainstorm places we can travel together.

As I gave them hugs at the train station, I had to fight back tears.  I really hate to see them go.

Luckily, one’s still here for good and we’re already planning our next girls weekend.

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Go at your own pace

While waiting in line at Starbucks yesterday morning, I overheard a conversation between a teenager and a middle aged woman. I imagine this was a college admissions interview and the woman was an alumna and the young man a high school senior. While the senior was talking about his experience running cross country, I was struck by two things he said and how they apply to so much more than running.

Keep your own pace

He said that in cross country it’s important to find your own pace and keep your own pace.  That when someone passes you it’s very tempting, almost innate, to want to run faster to catch up with him and then pass him, but you have to know your own pace and not use up all of your energy in one burst sprinting to beat the person in front of you. That you need to figure out a pace that you can maintain and just keep it at that.

You don’t have to be first to win

The teen also said that in cross country, you don’t have to be the first to win.  That simply hitting a personal best is an accomplishment in itself.

I think I may have gotten tears in my eyes as I heard this, thinking “wow, this is a great reminder for life.” It can be so easy to compare yourself to friends, coworkers, people from high school or college that you’re not friends with in real life but are friends on Facebook. If they’re getting married, buying a house, having kids, getting promoted, getting a Master’s degree, traveling, buying x, y, or z. And when we see people “passing” us it’s easy to want to sprint to catch up, and to put pressure on ourselves to find a boyfriend or buy a home or whatever. But doing so only expends unnecessary energy. It feels so much better if you’re doing it at your own pace, not sprinting to get to catch up to the person in front of you. And remember that just because you’re not the first doesn’t make crossing the finish line any less significant.

Girl time/guy time

I’m back from a long weekend in Florida with my friend Lauren. We planned this trip in the fall and I was so looking forward to the girl time and the sunny weather. We had a great weekend: went for long walks in the morning, did quite a bit of shopping, ate good food, and just talked a lot. As always, it was so good to spend quality time with her.

I love spending time with my girlfriends and I think it’s really important for men and women to have time with their guy friends and girlfriends on a regular basis.  I’ve said before that I think spending time with girlfriends is good for the soul and I truly believe that.

When you’re in a relationship, it’s really important to prioritize your friendships and have girl time and guy time. Honestly, I’m having a hard time articulating why this is important but believe me, it is. It’s good for me to talk and talk and talk with a girlfriend over a glass of wine and dinner. And it’s good for my husband to chat with a buddy over beers and wings.

Because I value and crave girl time so much, I wonder if I may have isolated my husband from my friends.  In the past, friends would ask if Mike was coming along and I’d say “nah” because I just wanted the girl time and quality time with my friend. Now that we’re married I truly do want my friends to know my husband and my husband to know my friends. But I still crave the girl time so I’m not sure how I’ll find that balance.

I’d love to know:

Can you articulate why girl time and guy is so important? (I’m hoping you’ll have the words that are escaping me at the moment.)

How can I bring my husband and my friends together?

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PS–Check out my article on staying cheery in the winter over on Healthy Living Blogs!

Appreciation —> Happiness

Yesterday Jess shared this nugget of wisdom over on Makeunder My Life:

“Stuff doesn’t make people happy. The appreciation of stuff makes people happy.”

As soon as I read this in my Google reader I stopped and immediately posted to Twitter:

Then I pulled up MML to get the URL, hit “Tweet,” and continued reading.  The next line was “Yep, go ahead and tweet it.” And then I felt like a complete tool.  But that’s not the point of this.

The point is that Jess’ statement is so true. The beautiful duvet we got for our wedding doesn’t make me happy; the sight of it on a nicely made bed and the thought of the comfort it provides makes me happy.  Owning a new black cardigan doesn’t make me happy; appreciating that it was exactly what I was looking for, is soft, fits me perfectly, and was only $17 makes me happy. The diamond earrings I got for my wedding don’t make me happy; appreciating their beauty and the fact that they go with everything and I can wear them every day makes me happy.

I think this statement applies to relationships too.  Having a husband/boyfriend/partner doesn’t necessarily make you happy.  Appreciating the laughs you share, the thoughtful things they do for you, the comfort you feel when resting your head on their shoulder or getting a big hug, that’s the stuff that makes you happy. This goes for family members, friends, co-workers, kids, and probably pets as well.

So it’s true appreciation yields happiness.

I’d love to know:

Who or what are you appreciating these days?

PS–A big thanks to Colleen for teaching me how to take a screen shot today!

quarter-life crisis

there have been a few times since college that i felt like i was having a quarter-life crisis.  the first was the end of summer 2009 when i wondered where am i going, what am i doing? i’d been in a cubicle for six months and would describe my day as beige.  i think my engagement took my mind off it for a little over a year.

but after the wedding and honeymoon those feelings of where am i going, what am i doing slowly started to creep up again. the summer passed in a blur and we’ve been busy every weekend since mid-july and most weekends before that.  now fall is arriving soon and our weekends are still busy and as i look into my future i feel like i’m on a treadmill of 9-5, 9-5, 9-5 in a beige office that either has too bright florescent lights or dim lamp lighting, my eye sight deteriorating from staring at a computer all day.

if there’s one thing i learned in the last year, through the process of planning my wedding, it’s that family and friends are the most important. love and family and friends, and sharing happy times, helping through the bad times, parties, get-togethers, and vacations in between, that’s what life is all about.

and there’s never enough time with friends and family.  so we fill our weekends up with visitors and trips home and then feel like there’s never enough time to relax, to take care of things on the to-do list before its back to the monotony of 9-5, 9-5, 9-5.

my life doesn’t align with this key realization that family, friends, love, and enjoying it all are what matters. but still i’m torn, feel obligated to pursue a higher degree though it may or may not be in line with the life i’d like to be living.  but then again maybe done the line it will provide me with the life i want to be living.

so what now? how do i tell myself that i’m where i’m supposed to be? that there are opportunities ahead of me that i can’t see just yet? i’m always telling others to enjoy the ride.  that i’m still in the exploratory phase and that’s a great place to be.  it’s good that i have so many things that i’m interested in currently and who knows how they’ll all come together in a few years or even a few months.

how do i move from feeling smothered and in limbo to enjoying everything that i have going for me? a fun, warm, loving husband, a city that i adore, a good-paying job with lots of opportunities to learn, and friends and family that i so look forward to seeing.

have you felt a quarter-life crisis?  what was the subject of yours?  how did you/are you dealing with it?

how do you cook?

i have a theory: the way you cook parallels the way you live your life.

for example: mike and i always follow recipes.  in life, we play by the rules.  we’re not big risk-takers.

mike likes to get everything prepped and ready to go before he begins cooking.  he cleans up as he goes and likes to do the dishes as soon as the meal is finished.  in life, mike likes to explore all the options before he begins. he makes sure that everything is set before he makes a big decision. in school he would work on papers little by little, never waiting to the last minute or pulling an all-nighter.

when i cook, things tend to get a little messy as i jump right in and figure it out as i go.  lately, i’ve been much better about reading through the recipe and collecting the ingredients up front but my natural way is to do everything as i go.  in life, i have a general plan or place i’m working toward but i tend to have a lot of things going at once and i figure it out as i go. when it comes to cleaning up after a meal, i like to relax for a bit after the meal and take a break before i tackle the dishes.  in life, i’ll have an experience and need some time before i’m able to process it and move past it.

so what do you think?  how do you cook?  does the way you cook parallel your life?