Monday, November 24, 2014

A Non-Runner at The Philadelphia Marathon

Do you know how I feel about running? Are you one of the people who've heard my stupid story from when I tried to be a runner about five years ago? Long story short: I'm a hater of running. But yesterday, I cheered on the Philadelphia Marathon. 

I have no idea where my enthusiasm came from when I arrived at the City Fit Girls Official Cheer Zone at Mile One, but I started cheering at 7am & I didn't stop until the last runner had passed us.
City Fit Girls!
Mile One--here they come!
Mile One
But wait, there's more! Cheering at Mile One wasn't enough for us, so we walked on over to Mile 12 & cheered for almost two more hours! 
Mile 12
Clearly, I had a lot of fun making my sign (google "dirty marathon signs"--it was a tough choice!), but when I decided to start reading people's names on their bibs & personalizing my cheering, that's when the fun really began. I just thought, if I was running (hahaha, yeah right), I'd love to be called out by name. It motivates me in group fitness classes, it would motivate me in a marathon, too. 

I won't be out there training for a marathon soon or anything (or ever), but I loved the feeling of being part of something greater, something that attracts people from all walks of life, something that builds community. 

As I said loudly & repeatedly yesterday, I think you marathon runners are pretty crazy, but I respect the hell out of all of you & I'm proud to cheer you on. See you next year!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Flywheel, Fitness, & New Beginnings

I used to be able to put my ankles behind my head & now I can barely touch my toes. I'm searching for my middle path.

I used to be a yogi. I started practicing yoga 16 years ago, started teaching yoga 9 years ago. Yoga was my first love & my only form of fitness. Until I got hurt. I idolized the wrong teacher & I ended up with knee & hip & shoulder injuries which resulted in chronic joint pain. My last year in Miami, I was pretty much off the yoga mat, but I worked out with a great trainer twice a week who really helped me rebuild some stability in my body.

When I first moved to Philly, I immediately got back on the mat, but found my old injuries flaring up pretty quickly. It was then that I discovered Flywheel. Here was something completely different, something totally out of my comfort zone, & my body felt great! For the first time in my life, I was enjoying cardio. And as much as I fell in love with the endorphins of Flywheel, I also fell in love with the people of Flywheel. More important than the amazing workouts I had over the last year & a half are the amazing friends I've made. But with this new comfort zone, that old joint pain is pretty bad again & I think I know what I need to do about it.

See, I went from super gentle yoga girl to badass Flywheel baller. And now it's finally time for me to find some middle ground. I desperately need the stretching of yoga & I cannot live without the endorphins of cardio. But there is that obvious 3rd piece of the puzzle that I've been ignoring. And at my age, that's a big mistake. Yes, it's time for me to add strength training to the mix.

To that end, I joined 12th Street Gym. Offering a huge variety of classes/week, it's a one-stop-shop for all of my totally-out-of-my-comfort-zone fitness needs. And the thing is, if I'm being completely honest with myself, Flywheel kind of costs more than I can actually afford, especially if I need to do other things too. Obviously, I still think that Flywheel is worth every penny & I would not take back one minute or dollar that I spent there, but for the 1st time in my life, I'm finally trying to live within my means & 12th Street Gym fits quite nicely in my budget.

I cried when I left Flywheel yesterday. Which is ridiculous because I'll totally be at Hayley's 80s Hair Bands Theme Ride on Thursday. I'm not leaving forever, how could I? The only real change is that I just won't be flying 4-5 days/week anymore. And that's OK.

So. New LJ does a variety of workouts & she follows a budget. I like her already.

<3,
LJ


Monday, October 6, 2014

Coming Home

I was in central Florida last week. I saw my bestie & her daughters for a couple days, then headed over to my annual conference for work.

I had a great time--lots of laughs, lots of really positive team building, lots of learning, lots of connecting with people I only get to see once a year. I even presented with great success. As I do every year, right now I have the post-conference blues & I can't wait for the Lead Teacher face to face in about six months to hang with at least part of my crew again.

But if I'm being really honest, I am so very happy to be home. That moment the plane touched down in Philly was a happy one. Being back in my awesome Center City apartment, getting takeout from Govinda's as soon as I finished unpacking...so damn good. Then I had a great Philly weekend: two Flywheel rides, walking the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, eating at Almaz & Hip City Veg, cocktails at Charlie was a sinner (do check out their fall menu!).
Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. Photo Credit Ed Coffin
There really is no place like home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

City Fit Girls

I've already told you about my friends Takia & Kiera & how awesome they are. They are seriously all about making the world a better place. In a variety of ways. I want to talk about two of those ways: the 2nd annual City Fit Girls FitRetreat & Meal Planning 101.
Kiera & Takia at FitRetreat 2014. Photo credit Darren Burton
This year's City Fit Girls FitRetreat was phenomenal. So many incredible session options--workouts, lectures, panel discussions! And so many incredible vendors! My favorite part was Kiera's Club Cardio--I love the way Kiera leads a workout--with a constant smile on her face. I also enjoyed the session on the Psychology of Eating. And the vendor I'm now obsessed with is THINX--moisture wicking, stain/leak resistant, anti-microbial, absorbent, & GORGEOUS period panties! So. Great workout, great knowledge, & a new obsession! I'd say the FitRetreat was a success!

Meanwhile, Takia also leads the Meal Planning 101 Series. I highly recommend signing up for this. I know what I need to do to eat correctly, but sometimes, I need a little nudge. Enter Meal Planning. Takia sends bi-weekly emails, chock full of educational nutritional goodness. She teaches you how to navigate the grocery store & how to create healthy balanced meals. Do something good for YOU! It is SO worth it.

So check out City Fit Girls. They exist to Inspire. Uplift. Encourage. Motivate. Get to a workout. Sign up for a run. And in October, check out their active wear line. Yes please!

Love,
LJ

Monday, September 22, 2014

Philadelphia Farm Sanctuary Walk: Saturday, September 27th!

The Philadelphia Farm Sanctuary Walk is THIS SATURDAY at 10am! It's not too late to sign up or donate & it's going to be phenomenal this year!
Last year, my friend Jess & I led the walk
Here are some details:
Register for $15 today, or for $25 the day of. That's right, you can just show up & walk without lots of advance fundraising. Or, if you can't make it, you can feel free to make a donation through me, I'm still doing lots of fundraising, and I haven't met my goal yet. Every bit helps the animals.

I hope to see you there. I'll be checking people in upon arrival, so make sure you say hello!

Love,
LJ

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Did you know that Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia for six years? I did! I went to his house (the one of his Philadelphia houses still standing, National Historic Site, actually!) with my grandparents when I was in high school. And I just went back this month--it was just as cool now.
beautiful & sunny outside...inside was a different story...
On my birthday weekend, my two best friends came to visit & we had much fun touristing. All three of us were English majors & two of us are English teachers, as well, so where else would we go but to a FREE tour of Edgar Allan Poe's house.
Nevermore!
It's a cool little self-guided tour. There's a short film to watch, which we oohed & ahhed over, then they give you a laminated tour guide paper & you take yourself through the house. Naturally, I read it aloud dramatically. The best part of the tour is, of course, the basement. Super creepy!
the basement that inspired "The Black Cat"
I highly recommend this tour for anyone who enjoys American literature, Philadelphia history, the darkness of Poe, & FREE tours. They're open Friday-Sunday, 9-5 (closed 12-1 for lunch). You do need to knock first. Enjoy!

Love,
LJ

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Phila Flea Markets

Do you know about the Phila Flea Markets? They're one of my favorite things about living here! A wide variety of vendors (including my favorite vendor of vintage dresses, Kittycat Antiques), a different spot each time in the summer, indoors & heated in the winter, it's like miles of vintage goodness.
I went this past weekend near East Passyunk Square & I scored two new-to-me dresses from the 60s. I meant to shop just for winter, but there was a sleeveless one so wonderfully colorful, I just couldn't resist. I'll look forward to wearing it some time next June. At least I got one long sleeve!
It was a gray day, but there were still deals to be had!
Mostly I'm into dresses, Pyrex, and lamps, but lately, I'm also into jewelry & glassware. I like to shop alone--I don't want to rush anyone & I don't want to hold anyone back either. But that shouldn't stop you from saying hi if you run into me there!

Next Market is this coming Saturday, September 20th at 10th & South. That's super close to my apartment, so you know I won't miss it. Hope to see you there!

Love,
LJ

Monday, September 15, 2014

LJ's Mad Mod Birthday

It seems fitting that the 1st legit post of my new Philly focus would be about Charlie was a sinner. If you know me at all, you know how much I love Charlie's. The food, the cocktails, the atmosphere...but mostly, I love the people who work there. They take customer service to amazing wonderful levels.

I go to Charlie's a lot. I fit in there. I feel good about myself there. And of course, I'm the Yelp Duchess. So naturally, I decided to have my birthday party there this year. I called it LJ's Mad Mod Birthday, encouraged everyone to dress up like they were in an episode of Mad Men, thought about buying everyone candy cigarettes as party favors (then discovered they have gelatin, wtf!), had Ryan at Juju give me another fabulous gravity-defying hairdo, & let the amazing staff at Charlie's handle the details.
Big Hair Don't Care
The BFFs flew up from Florida for the weekend!
I worked primarily with Michelle, the general manager, and Pete, the bar manager. Stephanie was our waitress for the night, and Nicole, the owner, was also part of the evening's festivities. I had 35-40 people RSVP yes, around 30 in attendance. My only requests, as we planned, were separate tabs, finger foods, & whatever would make it easiest for the staff to handle our large party.

They totally nailed it! They created a custom menu, complete with LJ's Signature Cocktail, the Tattoo Punch, which Pete developed for me based on my fruit & veggie dance party tattoo (squeee!). They gave us the front lounge area, though we eventually spilled over into the bar area, as well. But the highlight of my night was when they brought me their chocolate cake, which they know I love, with a candle. And not just any candle...it was one of those trick candles that took me about 12 tries to get it to finally blow out. I love that! Something about such silliness in such a classy joint just really speaks to me.
I'm in love with this.
Did you notice that I have MY punch in hand in EVERY pic?!
So. Huge thank you to the entire staff of Charlie's for making my birthday such a success, & special shout outs to Michelle, Pete, Stephanie, and Nicole for working with me. I heart you all so much!

Locals, whether you're vegan or not, if you haven't been to Charlie was a sinner. yet, what are you waiting for? Get there! I promise you'll love it! And tell them LJ sent you!

Love,
LJ

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Blog Focus

OK, so I don't even really know if people really even read my blog or even really missed it when I wasn't writing, but I had an idea this morning to give it a little more of a specifically Philly focus & I DO miss writing, so here I am. Let's try this again.

When I started this blog, I was almost 40 years old, so I called it What 40 Looks Like. But now I'm 41. What 41 Looks Like? No. So I'm just keeping the URL the same, & I changed the title to 40s in Philly, & basically, I'm just going to share things I like in Philly. People I like. Places I like. Foods I like. All in Philly. Probably mostly in Center City. Pretty simple, right?

Maybe you're wondering if I'll blog consistently this time around. Probably not. But I am really obsessed with the city I live in, so I might have a lot to say. At least I have a new focus. At least I'm even writing this post right now. I'll try for at least once a week, OK?

Love,
LJ

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Squeee Heard Round the World

A small group of us Phabulous Philly Vegan Ladies started calling ourselves the Vegan Girl Mafia back in April at the Philly Veg Dining Guide Release Party. Totally adorable & totally silly, our numbers grew until last night, when we collectively descended upon Miss Rachel's Pantry for an amazing meal & a girl's night out of epic proportions.
as goofy as we are beautiful, the vegan ladies of Philadelphia
We called last night's dinner a tweet-up, so after much squeeeing over meeting in real life for the first time, naturally, we proceeded to clog everyone's twitter & instagram feeds with all the deliciousness. All of this awesome even inspired me to blog again, so here I am after months' hiatus.
Miss Rachel's Swoontastic Menu
1st course: Savory Tofu Scramble Enchilada
2nd course: chilled cucumber bisque
3rd course: creamy elbow mac + smoked seitan roast + caramelized kale
OR seared maitakes + whipped coconut milk & horseradish potatoes
(BOTH because sharing is caring)
4th course: flourless chocolate peanut butter cake
Shout outs to Pam for having the idea to get us all together, Kiera for organizing it, Miss Rachel for her delicious food & gorgeous space, & Erin, Meagan, Lia, Rachel, Takia, Alli, Melissa, & Joy for their awesome company last night. And one more shout out to Amandah who was with us in spirit & happily eating her to go treats today.

I've got so much love for the women I shared that meal with & so much love for the women who prepared said meal & I hope that this was just the first of many Vegan Girl Mafia GNOs

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not so much blogging.

Hey. Yeah. Just realized it's been a month since I've blogged. Sorry. Or maybe not sorry. I just haven't felt like it. Maybe posting this will make me want to blog again. Maybe not. I even have an almost complete post in the queue. And it's even a giveaway.

We'll see.

The difference is, I'm not going to delete this blog like I did my last 3 when I got tired of writing them. Because eventually I'll be back.

Check you later.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Two big things I'm thankful for today:
  1. I'm getting my ass back in therapy. Had an appointment this morning with a new therapist who I really liked. Have another appointment this evening with another new therapist. Then I'll choose. But it felt really good & healing already.
  2. 10 day vacation starting tomorrow. I'll spend part of it w/ Kristi in Chambersburg for her parents' Memorial Day party, then some time in Harrisburg teaching my very pregnant step-sister prenatal yoga. Then I have some staycation time back in Philly for a few days. Then my friend Jenna is coming to Philly next weekend. So excited for ALL of this!
And that's all the time I have to blog because I have a shitload of work to do before this vacation time starts!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Kristi

Kristi is my best friend, my bestie, my BFF. We've been friends for more than 20 years & she's basically the most awesome person I know. I can't believe I haven't written about her yet! But today, I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude. I get to see her this weekend (& 2 weekends from now!), & she's going above & beyond the call of best-friend-duty because she'll be driving a total of 4 hours this weekend because of my fear of driving. And she's not even making fun of me for it!

We were English majors together at Pitt, then we both became educators. Kristi is one of those saints who can work with elementary school kids, while I'm the crazy who chose to work with teenagers.
Kristi & LJ, April 1995, Graduation from Pitt
(we've been taking selfies since before they were called selfies)
And 18 years later at my 40th birthday
(vintage polaroid selfie)
Unlike yours truly, Kristi really wanted to be a mom. Because of reasons, she ended up following the path of adoption. Her oldest was adopted from Russia & her youngest from Florida, where they live. Through her own experiences with adoption, she then became an advocate, speaker, & adoption specialist doing home studies & the like. Her path to motherhood inspired her to help others toward that same goal.
Kristi's hilarious & awesome daughters. I LOVE them!
And speaking of adoption, Kristi is also an advocate for doggie adoption, as well. She volunteers tirelessly with Florida Little Dog Rescue & she keeps adopting more doggies! Squeee!
from front: Sunshine (failed foster), Gracie (my favorite), Dudley
(rest in peace), Chloe (always looks like she's smiling)
Millie, the latest failed foster <3
Obviously Kristi has boatloads of patience & an incredible sense of humor, what with motherhood (the oldest is a tween & the youngest is a diva), so many dogs (with special needs, she could be a vet tech at this point), & being married to the Answer Man (hahahaha, I had to, Matt!). And obviously, I'm totally inspired by her for all of these reasons.

And if she wasn't already awesome enough for all of the above reasons, Kristi is the person who knows me better than anyone, the first person I turn to for advice, venting, & my ridiculous stories. I'm pretty damn lucky to have such an awesome best friend & I am so freaking excited to see her this weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It's the little things, right? Today I discovered I'm good at puzzles. I used to do puzzles a lot when I was a kid, but I think the last time I did a puzzle was probably about 15 years ago. Today, I'm thankful for obsessive compulsive disorder, because I feel like I was meant for putting puzzles together! A little weird, but when am I not weird, right?
from start to finish in less than 8 hours
I'm also feeling thankful for my friends, as always, but surprisingly, for a Harrisburg friend right now. I have a connection here in Philly who has been incredibly helpful & I have a lot of gratitude. So especially big thank you to my dad's best friend's daughter, she helped me out a lot this week. I'm also especially thankful for my work friends. Things are really excellent right now. And all my other friends too. I have awesome friends.

What else? I'm getting a massage on Saturday. Yep, thankful for that. I sold some jewelry & made some cash, thankful for that too. OH! And I'm super thankful for the Day Zero Project. I've been working on a few things, & I've found that adding them to my Day Zero List really helps me be accountable. And I definitely need to be held accountable. I'm also thankful for Flywheel, as always. I'm going to a DISCO THEME RIDE tonight, so I'm totally stoked for that. Hmm. I need to see if I can put together a disco theme outfit....

Yep, as per usual, full of gratitude. What are YOU thankful for? Please share!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Nicole

I actually started writing this post last night, because I had just gotten home from Nicole's class at Flywheel. I love Nicole's class SO much, so I make it a point to take as many of her classes as I can each week. I didn't get to see her last week until Sunday night so I was really looking forward to it.
Remember I posted this same photo when I wrote about Melissa &
told you to stay tuned for a Nicole post? That's her in the middle.
Nicole is always so positive & so encouraging: in her class, I feel like I can do anything. She says a lot of things in class that really just make me smile, like when she tells us to "get your head right, get your shit together," you best believe I get my head right & my shit together! When she reminds us to torq it up just a little bit higher because she KNOWS we can, I always do it...I seriously never ever ever coast in Nicole's class. Whether she's getting us us to high five in third position or she's made an incredible playlist (Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock last night!), I am always happy & always inspired & always working hard in Nicole's class.

Nicole genuinely cares about our success & about our wellness, & not just in the stadium. Outside of Flywheel, Nicole is just as awesome. We've hung out socially a few times, & I'm honored to call her my friend. I'm always so impressed with her. Smart, easy to talk to, so incredibly kind, & mature beyond her years, Nicole is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy, & though I hope I never need PT, I know exactly who I would go to if I did!

If you've never been to Nicole's class, I obviously highly recommend her. She's going to push you to do your best & you're going to have fun doing it. And when she encourages you to come up & say HI after class, do it. She's awesome, you'll love her!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day Zero: Eat ALL the Vegan Cheesesteaks!

Remember when V for Veg sponsored that amazing Best Vegan Cheesesteak contest & ALL of Philly nominated their favorites? Well, I decided to make it my mission to eat ALL the [conveniently located] cheesesteaks! Like I'm not going to make a trip to far away burbs just for a vegan cheesesteak...I mean, unless you tell me it's really worth my while.

Here's the list of all the nominees:
  1. Blackbird Pizzeria
  2. Cantina Dos Segundos
  3. Hibiscus Juice Bar
  4. Carmen's Reading Terminal (edit: 9/26/14 they have no vegan cheese, bread may not be vegan, I left w/o a sandwich)
  5. HipCityVeg
  6. Govinda's Gourmet to Go
  7. The Abbaye
  8. Taproom on 19th (possible not on vegan bread)
  9. VGE Cafe
  10. Vegan Commissary
  11. Monk's
  12. Sabrina's
  13. Carmen's Pizza (Milmont)
  14. Fino's
  15. P.O.P.E.
  16. Bourbon & Branch
  17. Palm Tree Market
  18. Fergies
  19. Mi Lah
  20. Pizza Wings Steaks
  21. Tattooed Mom's
  22. Vegan Tree
The ones that I crossed out, I've already had. This is going to be a most delicious challenge!

(And if you missed it, here's the story about the top 3 & the winner!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day Zero: 101 Happiest Moments in My Life

saw this on a friend's facebook wall...
That being said, here are the 101 happiest moments in my life (so far):
  1. Moving to Philly
  2. The moment I decided I was moving to Philly
  3. When Adam was born
  4. Holding Adam for the 1st time
  5. The 1st time Adam held my hand 
  6. The first time Adam said LJ (eh zhay)
  7. Really connecting w/ Jeffrey as a grownup
  8. Jeffrey's graduation from med school
  9. When Jeffrey & Nikki got married
  10. When Nikki & I went to Vedge
  11. When I babysat Adam AND Benny
  12. When I babysit & Jeffrey & Nikki get home & we hang out & talk & laugh
  13. Graduation from high school
  14. Getting out of Harrisburg
  15. Graduation from Pitt
  16. Graduation from Duquesne
  17. Getting hired at all 3 of my awesome teaching jobs over the past 16 years
  18. Having my first classroom 
  19. My second year of teaching
  20. Getting to know so many amazing students through the years
  21. Staying in touch w/ so many amazing students through the years
  22. When my students at HP all signed that copy of The Tartan (literary magazine) to me a year after I'd left
  23. Becoming a Supervising Teacher
  24. Presenting webinars w/ Jeannine & Michelle
  25. Presenting at Staff Conference 
  26. Becoming a Lead Teacher
  27. Colton becoming my intern
  28. Colton getting hired
  29. Colton becoming a Lead Teacher
  30. Going to Hawaii w/ Kristi
  31. Every visit I've ever had w/ Kristi ever
  32. When Kristi told me they were adopting Sasha
  33. When Kristi told me they were adopting Eliana
  34. Every live show I ever went to w/ Kristi, especially The Dirges & Rusted Root
  35. Lunch: a very specific inside joke w/ Kristi for almost 20 years now
  36. Kristi & Matt's wedding
  37. Seeing Live in concert
  38. Seeing The Cure in concert
  39. Seeing Michael Franti in concert
  40. Seeing Tori Amos in concert
  41. Seeing Simon & Garfunkel in concert
  42. Seeing Pink Floyd in concert
  43. Seeing Madonna in concert
  44. Seeing REM in concert
  45. Getting my first tattoo
  46. Pretty much every single tattoo I've ever gotten
  47. Reading every Tom Robbins book I've ever read
  48. The 1st time I broke 300 at Flywheel
  49. Connecting w/ all of my FLYfriends
  50. Almost every vegan cheesesteak I've ever eaten
  51. Every time I've eaten at Vedge
  52. Finally learning how to make a good salad
  53. The first time I had amazing vegan baked goods
  54. Upgrading my vegan dining out life by moving from Miami to Philly
  55. And a ton of other great things about moving from Miami to Philly
  56. Finally getting the condo out of my life
  57. Meeting Kenda
  58. Realizing Gina lived on my block in Sobe
  59. The goddess circles in Miami
  60. When Suzette & I realized how badly both of us wanted to be friends w/ each other
  61. Graduation from Yoga Teacher Training
  62. Teaching my first yoga class
  63. Teaching my first prenatal yoga class
  64. Teaching Nikki prenatal yoga
  65. Spontaneously teaching yoga at Yoga Garden
  66. Teaching Funky Friday Flow for Brittany
  67. Becoming vegan
  68. Visiting Kindred Spirits Sanctuary
  69. My epic 40th birthday party
  70. Meeting all of my amazing Philly friends, Jess, Ed, Takia, Kiera, Kristin, Betty, & a whole lot more. I love my friends!
  71. Sean & Joe's wedding w/ Jeff & Nikki & Nate
  72. Rocky Horror w/ Ed & Dan & George & Elton
  73. New Years Day vision boarding w/ my lady friends
  74. China w/ Jill & Katelyn
  75. The first night w/ Chef
  76. Epic goodbye to Chef (even though it was sad at the time)
  77. Road trips from Dallas to Austin
  78. Every high school graduation I've been to for my students
  79. Getting divorced
  80. First time at Haulover Beach
  81. Early morning frolics on 9th St beach in Sobe
  82. Buying my pink scooter
  83. Buying my pink bicycle
  84. Buying my Miata
  85. Getting out of debt
  86. A certain "I am woman, hear me roar" moment in May 2013
  87. Quitting smoking. The most recent time because that's the real time
  88. When I first started journaling
  89. How cathartic it was to destroy all my old journals to purge the past (even though I regret it now)
  90. Visiting Graceland & Elvis's Birth Place 
  91. Visiting the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
  92. Visiting the Grand Canyon
  93. Moments spent mostly in Adirondack chairs at Camp Louise
  94. USY on Wheels
  95. Finishing my first Day Zero List
  96. Beating Grandmom Texas at Scrabble for the first (only) time
  97. Any time spent in Grandmom Texas' house
  98. Weekends in Philly w/ Grandmom Rosie & Pop
  99. Touring Central High with Dad for his 50th reunion
  100. Writing this list b/c it forced me to think about a lot of happy memories
  101. Winning tickets to Michael Franti!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Is it a copout that I'm always thankful for my friends? No? Great! Because I'm really thankful for them. My friends are awesome!

  • For being an ear when I need to cry or rage
  • For impromptu dinners out
  • For weekend visits (a couple of those coming up soon!)
  • For random adventures in Philly (also known as long walks)
  • For being someone I can confide in
  • For spending the whole work day in IM with me
  • For a whole lot of laughter
  • For incredible movie recommendations
  • For just being awesome
  • For believing in me
  • For just being there
Feels good to know I have people to count on. SO many people. I think this just became a Philly post also. Because as I think of the life I've created for myself in the past year & a half here in Philly, & how amazing it is, it's because of the people here, the friends I've made, & for that, I am incredibly thankful.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Surya Brasil: Amazonia Preciosa

I'm excited today for my second Surya Brasil Product Review post. (Here's the first post if you missed it.)

Before I start gushing about the Amazonia Preciosa Leg & Foot Lotion, I want reiterate that though Surya Brasil did send me lots of freebies (giveaway coming soon, I promise), my opinions are genuinely my own. Their products are totally in line with my values: vegan, natural, & eco-friendly (no animal testing, free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs, & synthetic fragrance, but full of exotic organic Amazonian awesomeness), so what's not to love?!

Today's post involves before & after pics. The before pic is kind of offensive, even to me.
I thought a cute font might take away from my gross rough winter feet. Nope.
After that delightful photo was taken, I gave my feet a nice soak & then went to town on them with a pumice stone. After the pumice, I slathered on the Amazonia Preciosa Leg & Foot Lotion (which smells amazing--very fresh & invigorating--it has eucalyptus in it!), put on some super soft microfiber socks, then went to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, I had somehow lost a sock, but my feet looked amazing!
Look how smooth the balls of my feet & my heels are! Amazing!
So now I'm ready for spring. Thanks to Amazonia Preciosa Leg & Foot Lotion, I need to go buy a new pair of sandals! In the meantime, dear readers, you can shop Surya Brasil right now. It's spring time! Treat your feet!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Kristin

I love the interwebs. Let me tell you how I met Kristin. We were Yelp friends but we had never met in real life, or even really communicated. I thought she seemed cool because I liked her website (she's an artist & a graphic designer). Almost a year ago, I was in a class at Yoga Garden & the teacher had us go around the room at the beginning of class & say our name & what we wanted to work on. Kristin recognized my name & my tattoos from Yelp (there aren't a lot of LJs with fruit & veggie dance party tattoos), so she said hi after class. We ended up going out to dinner, discovering our central PA connection, & making plans to attend the next Yelp Elite event together.
Kristin & LJ in a Storefront.
Kristin inspires me, first of all, because she is so freaking talented. She can make ceramics & she can blow glass & she's learning to run a clay studio & she's so good at DIY everything & I have 2 pieces by her, so I'm pretty lucky. She can also cook. And can things (I'm eating blackberry sage jam on toast right now; Kristin made it). And sew. And decorate. And do legit graphic design. Seriously. Her knowledge & talent blow my mind.

Secondly, & perhaps more importantly, Kristin inspires me with her self care. She's really working on her shit. She's following her own path & finding what works for her & I admire her for that so much. She inspires me to do the same. (And if you saw my Thankful Thursday post last week, you know I need it.) Kristin is definitely one who inspired me to get back in therapy, & I have so much gratitude. She is working on being the best Kristin she can be, which makes me want to be the best LJ I can be.

Kristin & I can talk about pretty much anything. We have a really strong friendship. And that's inspiring.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I've been overthinking since last night. And then this morning, in my insomnia triggered haze, I decided to act on everything I was overthinking last night.

Two things:
  1. I told a lie a couple days ago out of embarrassment & social awkwardness. Because I'm a weirdo. I felt so shitty about it. It seemed like something Laura would do, but not LJ. And I'm not that girl anymore, dammit. And the person I was a passive aggressive lying ass with is someone I respect & would kind of like to be friends with. So I apologized this morning. And I think I was even weirder. So here I am blogging about it because I'm the weirdest.
  2. Certain people are blocked from seeing certain things on my facebook wall. I was worried some one of these people was going to hear something about me second hand & I felt like they should hear it directly from me. There was lots of guilt & nonsense in my head & the BFF got a really late night text & then I had a weird FB status which I deleted probably within an hour based on a comment from a cool new friend.
So. Why am I sharing all my crazy overthinking weirdo nonsense on Thankful Thursday? I'll tell you why:
  1. Because (I'm thankful that) my blog is a judgment free zone. I can say whatever the hell I want, put it out there, & be done with it. I'm already relieved about the above behaviors & I haven't even hit publish yet. (Well, people might be judging me, but I can't hear or see it, nobody really comments on the blog anyway, so I'm just going to pretend it's not happening.)
  2. Because (I'm thankful that) I'm self aware enough to realize that both of the above anecdotes, & other recent triggers, are clear signs that I need to get my ass back into therapy a bit more consistently.
  3. Because (I'm thankful that) I have friends who are awesome at slapping me back to reality & telling me when to just shut the fuck up.
  4. Because (I'm thankful that) you're still here listening to me & reading my blog & watching my videos & responding to my tweets & simply encouraging me to be myself. Thanks for putting up with a crazy such as myself.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Surya Brasil: Sapien Women

I've long been a fan of Surya Brasil's henna hair dye, so when they reached out to me to ask if I wanted to sample some of their skin & hair care products, of course I leapt at the chance. Vegan, natural, & eco-friendly, Surya Brasil's products are exactly what I want to use on my body (no animal testing, free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs, & synthetic fragrance, but full of exotic organic Amazonian awesomeness).

The first products I tried were from the Sapien Women line, the Shave Gel & the Body Moisturizer. They're made with fresh coconut & mango essential oil, so every time I use them, I can't stop thinking about how delicious I smell. The moisturizer absorbs quickly & is long lasting. The shave gel...well, I just need to tell you my whole thought process with the shave gel:
"I don't even use shave gel, I don't need it. I'll just use it for a giveaway. Well...maybe I'll just try it once, they DID send it to me, after all.... Wow. This is kind of nice. Hmm. A little goes a long way. Shaving my legs is SO EASY with this! OMG. So smooth! Look at that, I didn't even miss any spots! This is amazing! I'm obsessed! Where have you been all my life, Shave Gel?!"
Shave Gel & Super Smooth Legs
So sorry, readers. No giveaway today (I promise there is one coming soon!), but you can shop right now right here! Oh & there's a Sapien Men line too. Treat yourself!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Takia

Apologies for the late post this evening, but I wanted to wait until I got home from The Supper Club Featuring Chef Bryant Terry, because I wanted to write about my friend Takia & I just knew this event would be amazing & I'm so proud of her for organizing it & doing all the cooking & just being awesome.

Before I fangirl all over my friend, I do have to say that tonight's event was fantastic: the food was phenomenal, all made by Takia from Bryant Terry's new cookbook, Afro-Vegan; it was well organized with great music & mingling; & Bryant Terry's talk was nothing short of phenomenal. I could talk about how much he inspired me, as well, but Takia is the one who brought him here, & this post is about her.

After Takia introduced him, Bryant Terry said that he "can feel her light shining" from all the way in California. I couldn't agree more. And I'm very lucky because I can see Takia's shining light right here in Philly.
Bryant Terry, Takia McClendon, LJ
I don't think Takia realizes yet how much of a difference she is already making for her community. She is always reading & learning & growing & evolving. I've been watching her journey since we met last year & I am always inspired by every step she takes. I don't know yet where her path is going to lead, & I don't think she knows either, but I know she's inspiring big changes.

Through her cooking, her knowledge, her compassion, & her drive, Takia is spreading a really positive & important message about food & health & community, & through that, she is truly making the world a better place. I am so very honored that she is my friend.

To learn more about Takia & all of the amazingness she does for her community, please visit Uptown Soul Food.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Because it is my name"

Here we go. Brief backstory of how I became LJ. And maybe a little insight into why you should really try to stop calling me Laura. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Woo! Getting my Thankful Thursday written on actual Thursday. Just feeling a lot of general gratitude & happiness right now. I don't know, this is kind of a vague post, because I have other posts on my mind, but I'm simply thankful for the things I'm always thankful for. My friends. My family. My city. My nephews. My community. Flywheel. My career. Socks.

Life is great, but at the same time, I know there are things I need to work on, there's always room for improvement. I suppose I'm thankful to myself for having a solid plan for my own physical, mental, & emotional self care.

OH! I've been doing something new lately. This past weekend, I started taking walks. Long meandering walks with no real destination in mind. I enjoyed them so much that I decided to take a walk every day & I added it to my Day Zero List to do so for the next 6 months. I call them my "evening constitutionals." Constitutional is an archaic term for "a walk, typically one taken regularly to maintain or restore good health." I'm thankful that on my evening constitutionals, I always get some great photos of Philly.
Tulips on Tuesday
City Hall is just ridiculously big & intricate. I love it.
Finally, I'm thankful to a company called Surya Brasil. I've used their henna hair colors a few times & I love them. I reached out to them with a question & they sent me a lot of products to try & to share. I've been using nothing but Bronner's, baking soda, & coconut oil on my skin for a long time, & I've been wanting to start trying more interesting skin care products again, so my connection with Surya Brasil couldn't have happened at a better time. Look for product reviews & giveaways throughout the next week. Spoiler alert: I love everything!

conscious skin & hair care. love.
Oh here's one more thing to be thankful for. Tomorrow is Friday!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Colton

I'm about to tell you one of my most favorite stories about one of my most favorite people & I'm super excited about it!

I've known Colton since October 2007 when he became a student in my AP English Literature class online. He was a senior in high school & from our first conversation, I knew that I had a new favorite student (it's true, we have favorites...there are some students I connect with more than others, just like people in any situation in life).

We stayed in touch throughout Colton's college career (facebook IS good for some things): he had dual majors of English Literature & English Education. Just when I thought I couldn't be prouder, during Colton's senior year, he became my intern for two semesters. Naturally he excelled. (He excels at everything: he won so many awards in college that I use him as an example of "understatement" when I say that he did "OK" in college.)
Staff Conference 2011: First time I met Colton in real life!
Immediately after graduation, Colton was hired (of course) & became part of my team (of course). For the past 2 years, I've been his Lead Teacher (I'm sort of like a supervisor, but more like a helper), watching him learn & grow as an educator. Not only has he become an amazing English teacher, he has also pursued a Master's Degree in Publishing (I just read his thesis about the history of young adult literature & the role of censorship, SO rad!) & he graduates next month! Squeee! And just last week, I wrote him a recommendation letter (the 4th rec letter I've written for him) for a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. More squeee!
Staff Conference 2013
Every day, I am impressed with Colton's drive to succeed & his unending compassion as he interacts with his students & his colleagues. I am honored that he chose to become an English teacher & I am honored to work with him. Spending all day in IM with him is the highlight of every single workday. Not only is he my "work son," but he's also one of my very best friends.

Colton has said that one day he'd like to be our CEO. It wouldn't surprise me one bit. It also wouldn't surprise me if within 5 years, he'd be my boss. I hope he'll give me a raise!

<3

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Springtime Saturday in Philly

I went for a frolic today. Frolic is, of course, LJ for walk. This is what I saw.
many trees are flowering
not vegan friendly, but friendly nonetheless
people in Kahn Park...which isn't really that much of a park
more flowering trees
people in Washington Square Park...which is definitely more of a park
pink!
red doors. blue doors.
cobblestone
dreamer
springtime selfie
Get out & enjoy the day if you haven't already! It's never too late for a frolic!