Thursday, September 28, 2017

My First 21 Days (as a D.C. Resident)

Things I both intentionally and unintentionally did during my earliest days as a new DMV area resident…
  1. Visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture 
  2. Tried a week of CorePower Yoga classes 
  3. Fell wholeheartedly in love with The Coffee Bar 
  4. Missed my metro stop twice
  5. Attended a panel discussion of the intersection of adolescent mental health and gender at the International Center for Research on Women 
  6. Spotted someone I knew downtown
  7. Paddleboated at the Jefferson Memorial 
  8. Enjoyed D.C. Restaurant Week
  9. Viewed the great American eclipse at the National Air and Space Museum 
  10. Did homeless outreach with Capital Life Church 
  11. Developed “the Garden Route” on a morning run: six gardens plus a swing past the National Museum of African Art in an hour’s run
  12. Rode the Smithsonian Carousel
  13. Read every events calendar that I saw or heard of and got overwhelmed by all of the options
  14. Attended my first Nationals baseball game 
  15. Visited a trendy downtown watering hole on Friday night with my boy
  16. Discovered that Miss America 2018 lived in my building last year
  17. Ran “stadiums” on the Lincoln Memorial steps 
  18. Beat the morning reveal of the daily national front pages at the Newseum
  19. Volunteered at the 202 Arts and Music Festival 
  20. Attended my first navy football game
  21. Was a minority at the grocery store
  22. Got invited to dinner in the Trump International Hotel
  23. Did two group workouts with the DC Road Runners 
  24. Got honked at in rush hour traffic
  25. Joined the PRSA-NCC pro-bono committee 
  26. Crammed through a partially dysfunctional metro door into a crowd of humans at rush hour
  27. Visited Eastern Market for lunch 
  28. Heard a private sneak preview of a National Archives lecture
  29. Ate a sushi burrito, Afghan food, a rapidly melting snow cone and most importantly, Sweetgreen   
  30. Hit the last Sculpture Garden jazz concert of the summer 
It's an interesting and busy place and I'm thankful for the opportunity to move here and live downtown.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Greenville-Area Favorites

As an active, semifoodie, people-watching enthusiast that likes to get more for my money, here are my favorite things from my time in the Greenville area over the last eight years. Thanks for all of the sweet memories, #yeahTHATGreenville!

Buy your baby shower, birthday and Christmas presents and give a lovely gift that everyone else won't have
Bring along water, snacks, a camera and some motivated hiking buddies
Enjoy with a picnic or while walking around the lake, thanks to the concert being projected over the belltower speakers

A cozy, popular nook—the most charming basement you’ll ever visit
A sweet opportunity to try out a variety of Greenville's excellent restaurants in March—coming back in 2018
Tapas with eclectic flavors and the site of some of my favorite dinners
  • Outdoor yoga at NOMA Square, Soul and at the Courtyard by Marriott Greenville (Yoga in the Courtyard) 
Free, relaxing and the best way to start your Saturday morning or spend a Wednesday or Thursday evening
  • Honey lavender lattes at Tandem
One of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted

Great tables, free cornbread, delicious barbecue, and amazing happy hour specials
Hard to snag, but entirely enjoyable
Wander along the art exhibits and observe glass-blowing, metal-working, and ceramics
Always efficient, classy and delicious
Always worth it, even though you have to get up really early. Crucial tip: do not plug Pretty Place into your GPS—you won't get there (speaking from experience). Bonus: take some coffee and add a Caesars Head hike afterwards.
I can vouch for both the half-marathon and marathon being excellent challenges
Gathering wardrobe inspiration, channeling your inner child, and perusing a little bit of everything else
Repeat every few years
  • Wild blackberry picking across the county 
So many berries, so little time

A beautiful chance to taste and rank different apples, people-watch, and enjoy live music in Hendersonville, NC
Really fun lessons and wonderful people-watching: free for ladies and cheap for men

Enjoy making your own adventures!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Running Bits of the World (Originally for

I love nothing more than combining multiple good things. Perhaps it’s a product of being born into the millennial cohort or perhaps it’s the fact that I want too strongly to “do it all” within the confines of a “standard American adult schedule”, but when possible, combining things has become my default setting. A luncheon speaker from the national triathlon team recently referred to this as “maximizing” rather than the negatively associated “multitasking”: the main difference is that maximizing involves combining complimentary activities while multitasking involves conflicting activities. This concept of maximization now defines my primary approach to life. Writing thank you notes while waiting in line, listening to podcasts while running, carpooling in order to hang out with others while in transit (plus diminish environmental impact) or cooking while watching my favorite shows are just some of the ways that I enjoy finding more time in a day.

My favorite maximization activity of all is running around the various places that I get to visit: combining exercising with the pleasure of observing different places. The intro sign in my cubicle reveals that I am “perpetually plotting my next adventure.” As an Army brat and third generation vagabond, I crave travel. After moving every few years for the first half of my life, I very much appreciate the ability to live in one place as long as I choose to while adding in travels to visit family/friends, work events, attend conferences or weddings, or just go somewhere to take a break from my routine.

As a sociologist, I love seeing different social environments and being a part of people doing what they do. As a health-minded individual, regular exercise is a big part of my life and I try to keep it as fun as possible. As a runner, I find a special joy in exploring new spots to break up the routine and help me lose myself in the excursion while logging the miles. This also makes my Type-A brain very happy—yes, I still feel the desire to be productive even during time off during a work trip or while on vacation.

Once I am dressed and have my shoes laced up, all I usually take is my phone (on airplane mode if I’m in a foreign country), a key (as needed) and a backup source of money. I let those that I’m with (if any) know a range of when I expect to be back: a planned time and a later “start-getting-concerned-if-you-haven’t-seen-or-heard-from-me-by-now-time”—things are always a little less predictable in a new place. I am sure to have the address where I am staying logged on my phone, and then I decide which way to run first. While friends, family, and other helpful locals can often recommend routes, if I have the time and energy, it is usually even more fun for me to embrace the break from routine and decide which way to turn as I jog along.

Because of taking this approach, I know downtown Washington, D.C. better than people who’ve lived nearby for the majority of their lives. I once encountered quite the assortment of cows on a rural road in Switzerland and then I relished the opportunity to run along the Eiffel Tower on an extremely wonderful layover on the way back to the U.S.. I have run quite the assortment of fatiguing inclines near my relatives’ Knoxville, Tennessee suburb home. I semiseriously feared encountering something dangerous running near Denali in Alaska on a graduation trip. I celebrated when a crew of friends and I found our way back to the correct complex outside Johannesburg, South Africa on study abroad. I admitted to myself that I hadn’t understood the geography of the Midwest while enjoying a chilly November run along the Chicago banks of Lake Michigan on a work trip.

I encourage you to try this simultaneously tiring and energizing endeavor on your next trip. I continue to treasure the memories, photos and the ability to fuel up after a workout with some delicious out-of-the-ordinary food. If running or travel are not for you, consider if integrating maximization into your life could be beneficial to help you do more. If you do choose to run, observe the people, homes, and businesses around you. Take the various alleyways and see where you end up. Stop at the farmer’s market along the way (full disclosure: this option led to me carrying two irresistible bags of sun-dried tomatoes for the last 45 minutes of my 2015 run around Venice). Jog up the big hill and see what you can see. Run along the water and perhaps take a photo of the starfish that you might find. Make the most of your trip and your workout.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Memorable New and Classic Wedding Ideas

Now that the annual engagement season is over, wedding planning is surely full steam ahead for many couples. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attend, be in, and coordinate quite the variety of weddings over the past four years. While each wedding that I’ve been a part of has been wonderful in its own way, here are some sweet ideas that I have particularly enjoyed.

  1. Throw lavender at the bride and groom as they exit the church: there’s no smell like it, plus it’s ecofriendly.
  2. Do a yoga class the morning of the wedding with any interested wedding party members, friends or family members.
  3. For a summer wedding, design a classy and useful combination program and fan.
  4. Incorporate the phrase “Eat, drink and be married.”
  5. Share different spice mixes as favors: love is the spice of life. The wedding I attended gave out a choice of barbecue mix, Italian herbs, or chai spice. I’m still enjoying mine!
  6. Incorporate eucalyptus into your wedding flowers—it's hardy, beautiful and it smells great. As with lavender, you also get some nice aromatherapy.
  7. Have the parents of the groom pray over the bride and the parents of the bride pray over the groom during the ceremony.
  8. If you have musical skill or perhaps a hidden talent, surprise the class by sharing it on this once-in-a-lifetime day! I’m thinking of a particularly great evening where we got the groom to do an encore of Bennie and the Jets after serenading his new bride with a love song.
  9. Play the couple's dance game to see which couple has been married the longest. I was truly impressed by the married-for-75-years grandparents at the most recent wedding.
  10. Place infused water dispensers around the ceremony and reception to keep everybody hydrated and happy throughout the celebration. Try cucumber, lemon, mint, raspberry, grapefruit or almost any fruit combination.
  11. Green tea cupcakes. I’m not going to offer any explanation.
  12. As you’d like, incorporate groomswomen/a best woman and bridesmen/a man of honor: if the bride has a best friend that's a guy and the groom has a beloved sister, put them in the same clothes as the groomsmen and bridesmaids, but let them stand on the most appropriate side.
  13. Start a train, ideally one led by a grandparent or an elementary-aged cousin—you won't regret it.
Happy 2017 wedding season to all!

Photo credits go to my wonderful former Furman University photography classmate, Hannah Woodard Lockaby of Hannah Woodard Photography. See more of this beautiful wedding day of my sweet friends here.