My Thoughts On Negative Political Ads…

At a friend’s barbecue last night we had the TV on and of course some of the negative political ads came on (because unfortunately for us, Virginia is a swing state…so almost every other ad is something political). Well this provoked a political conversation amongst us, which can sometimes be a scary thing to dive into. But my point basically came down to that I think instead of using each of those 30 second ad slots to talk negatively about the other opponent, I think that the candidates should use those TV spots as an opportunity to educated the “average American” on what their actual platform is…what their philosophies are, what they hope to achieve, how they hope to do it… My reasoning for this is that I don’t think that the “average American” actually takes the time to research political candidates to make educated decisions each November. I think a lot of people, unfortunately, cast their votes based on feelings, which have usually been swayed by all the negative, 5th grade girl antics that political candidates succumb too. Rather wouldn’t it be great to not vote based on someones race or even necessarily their tax returns…but based on what they stand for and how they hope to “fix” whatever needs to be fixed. I feel like with negative ads this is a lost opportunity….

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Donating Hair to Cancer Patients

Ever since I heard about organizations like Locks of Love, I have always wanted to contribute my hair to make wigs for children and women who have lost their own hair due to cancer.  As many probably have, my family has lost loved ones to cancer, so programs like this hit home.  So yesterday I had my hubby measure my hair to make sure it was long enough, then I cut it!  I will be sending off the 9 inches to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Since 2006 this program has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig bank that distributes wigs to cancer patients across the country.  There are many outstanding programs similar to this one, but I chose Beautiful Lengths because they only require at least 8 inches, instead of 12 inches like most other programs.

Before, During, & After:

 

After having long hair for the last two years the short hair is a little bit of a shock…but as hair always does…it’ll grow back :)  Sending in my hair to Pantene is as easy as putting it in a plastic baggie & mailing it…as the Geico commercial would say, “It’s so easy that a caveman could do it.”  And I am excited to have contributed to a wig for some child or woman out there who will receive a it and maybe feel a little bit like themselves again.

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Time to Catch Up! Anniversary Weekend Recap

I have been away from my blog too long! And I have a lot to catch up on, so to start out I’ll rewind back to our one year anniversary weekend we did at the end of April.  We decided to do a stay-cation and booked a room at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, VA.  I did not realize until like two weeks before our long weekend that Alexandria is basically the same county as where we live, but it ended up being a blast.  We got to skip the airport & plane ride and also got to pretend like we were tourist in our own town.  Plus, we have always done quick afternoon trips through Old Town Alexandria and not been able to explore the ins & outs.

We started the weekend with a Nat’s game on Thursday night, which was basically a food tour throughout the stadium with a little baseball =)

Friday night we went to the Renwick Gallery, had the first of our anniversary dinners at Founding Farmers, then finished the evening walking around the veranda at the Kennedy Center (awesome views).

Saturday we metroed down to Old Town Alexandria and played like tourist, which was so fun! Our stop in Old Town, while our room was being prepared, was at Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper for fish & chips! YUM!

Kimpton has boutique hotels in some major cities across the U.S. and this was our first stay at one.  It was a fun, almost circus theme, but extremely nice.  We are staying at another Kimpton Hotel on our visit to Seattle in August too, so excited about that!

Our dinner on Saturday night was at Brabo, a Robert Wiedmaier restaurant. (Great food, but on the expensive side & small portions, but probably the best waffle I’ve ever had!) 

It poured rain on us on Sunday, but we donned our rain coats & took the cool hotel umbrellas and headed out for a spa day at Lorien Hotel, lunch at Society Fair, then dinner at Hotel Monaco’s Jackson 20 restaurant (which wasn’t that good in my opinion btw).

Monday, our actual anniversary (April 23), we had breakfast while watching MTV Cribs (yay!) then explored Old Town (Christ Church pictured which is where George Washington attended).

 I would definitely recommend a stay-cation to people looking for a long weekend.  It is so much fun learning about the little places around the area we live.

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I Was Tagged…

An acquaintance from my comm major in college that has now become someone I’d consider a good friend through reconnecting over social media tagged me in a blog post she did! It is sort of like those fun chain letters we used to do back in high school, so I’m going to post my answers to Maggie’s questions she tagged us in on her blog.

1. What is the one item you have to have in your fridge/pantry? 
Black Beans
2. Is there a song that evokes an emotion/memory from you no matter what? (can be a happy, nostalgic, etc)
Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” because for some reason I think of my parents every time because I remember Dad leaving Mom a message one time when he was on a business trip just to tell her hi.
3. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment to date? Could be personal or professional.
I would say my most fun accomplishment is moving to DC.  I always had the desire to live in a city and thankfully my life path led me to DC and I’m so thankful for it!
4. Would you rather go the rest of your life without ever watching your favorite show/movie or without reading your favorite book?
I would rather go without a tv show because I love reading so much more.
5. Skydiving or bungee jumping?
I’ve been skydiving and would certainly choose that over bungee jumping.  I just can’t imagine bungee jumping…something about snapping my neck that spooks me.
6. Where is the one place you want to go before you die?
Am I allowed to say Europe? I have so many things I really really really want to do & see that it would be so hard to narrow it down.
7. If you had a book written about you and your life, what would you want the title to be?
Learning to Live
8. What would you want your 15 minutes of fame to be for?
In a dream world I would say completing an Ironman, but in ‘real life’ I would say I would like to have 15 min of fame for an article I write.
9. Is there a hobby or activity you did when you were younger that you’ve given up, but wish could start again?
Can I choose two? Since it’s my blog I’ll say yes :) so I would pick tennis & spanish.  I took both for years but didn’t keep up with it.
10. What would be the hardest food to give up forever? (Mexican, Italian, cake, etc.)
Gosh, I have so many…in general I would say mexican b/c we eat it like twice a week…but I’d have a really hard time if I had to give up ice cream/desserts.  I dream of them.
11. If you could be amazing at one thing, what would you want it to be?
Being spontaneous. I have to have everything planned and I LOVE planning, but I’m sure everyone around me would like if I was a little more flexible about my plans  =)
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Reflecting Back On A Quarter of A Century

I had my 25th birthday recently.  My how life has flown by…. I wish there was a way to slow it down some and enjoy the moments more, but as everyone has come to gather, life seems to speed up and not slow down.  25 years ago my mother woke my Dad up and swore I was coming a month early even though Dr. Marchese had assured her early that day that it was just false contractions.  15 years ago I remember crying because I was going to turn double digits…this was probably caused by my cousin making fun of me and her brother because we were only 1 digit. 13 years ago I loved turning 12 because it was my favorite number. 10 years ago I was getting my permit to drive a car on a rainy, foggy December morning.  6 years ago I thought I had my future all planned out. 1 year ago I moved to DC and started to prepare to marry the man meant for me.  Wow…the memories…from family dogs, to four-wheeling, to driving & wrecking my first car…to boys…to college…to the “real” world.  It’s been amazing and too quick….  I am so happy where I am in life, but I do have brief moments when I wish to experience different times in my life for just one more day…

I know these letters to yourself have been a big fad this year, but I kind of love the idea so here are a few things I would have liked to told myself 10 years ago:

Don’t grow up so quickly or rush things that should wait.

Learn to listen to your gut (it’s normally right, long before your mind & heart realizes).

Pray more. A lot more. And work hard on listening to God’s guidance.

Thoroughly enjoy times with family & friends. They will not always be there, even though at this point you feel life may never change.

Be nicer to your mother.  She’ll become your best friend.

Everyone will tell you to be more spontaneous…maybe let your shield down & try ;)

Study abroad.

Just because something is on sale or is a good deal, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. (Especially talking about clothes!)

Take your time…enjoy your teens to explore sports, hobbies, friends, relationships…you won’t get that M.R.S. degree and get married at 21 so don’t make that your sole focus…focus on growing yourself before you try to focus on others.

Learn from your past, but focus on your future & the positive.

And life may seem extremely tough, but through prayer, faith, & support of others, it will work out the way it’s meant to be.

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Thanksgiving Thanks

I remember in grade school when my teachers would ask us to write down 5-10 things we were thankful for and even though I’m no longer a little squirt getting dropped off at Parkway School by my dad, I still want to reflect back on what this year has blessed me with. And man ‘o man, 2011 must have been my year because I have done lots, seen lots, and been blessed beyond belief.

So here’s my top 7 things I’m thankful for: (yes, it’s a top 7 b/c in the marketing world you gotta be different from the top 5s & the top 10s)

1. Marriage/Jonathan- The biggest change in 2011 was of course that I got married. I married a wonderful man who I am so proud of and can’t wait to see where life takes us. We have had our fair share of first year adjustments, but together and with God we continue to grow, and for this I am extremely thankful.
2. Family- After moving 6 hours away from my parents late last year, the short weekends I get to spend with them are amazing. I look forward to my Skype IM from Mom every morning to tell me that she’s up living the retirement dream =) and I appreciate home more than I ever did. I also gained another family this year and I am very thankful for their love, support, and generosity.
3. Exercise- First, God blessed me with a father who loved to workout and who passed that passion down to me. Second, I am so thankful to be able to tie up my tennis shoes and go run through the streets of D.C. and the National Mall at lunch. Third, I am thankful as well that God gave me the ability to set my eyes on a half marathon and complete it!
4. Work- I have been blessed with a wonderful job, and having seen first hand the volatility of these economic times, I am especially thankful for my position. I have a boss that allows me to grow as a person & as an individual and at this time in life I wouldn’t trade it.
5. Friends- After moving to D.C., Jonathan and I were very lucky to find good quality friends. People that you can be yourselves around and with so much going on in everyone’s lives, having good friends is something to be thankful about. Also, thank you so much to those certain friends that have let me ramble when I needed too :) I certainly needed you.
6. D.C.- I love living near & working in D.C. I love the restaurant options, I love the free museums & concerts, I love being able to walk almost everywhere!, I love the public transportation for everywhere else, I love the cupcakes & the coffeeshops, and so much more. Most of all I love the all the opportunities I have to engage with this city, to learn, to grow, and gather memories that I will look back on for the rest of my life. I love the moments when I’m walking along and I have that moment where I take it all in and it’s perfect. My dad tells me often, and I certainly agree, that I am living the dream.
7. Travel- I do love D.C., but I also love the ability we have to travel places, both near and far.  We’ve been to & done so much, these are the ones I can remember of the top of my head…Middleburg (cute town in VA’s horse country), Alexandria, National Harbor, Williamsburg, Annapolis, Philly, Charlottesville, and we’re going to do a short trip to NYC in December because the BoltBus (conveniently named) cost us $32 a person round-trip =)

So those are my top things I am thankful for this season…I’m sure I’ll look back tomorrow and realize I forgot a few! But everyone enjoy their Thanksgiving and as we head into the Christmas season, remember to show people love…these days are going faster than they used to…so take the opportunities you have to listen, engage, hug, smile…to create a beautiful canvas of life.

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So Cute I had To Share

I still follow all these photographers on twitter & their blogs.  I just love it.  I see the weddings they do, but the other things too, and it makes me feel like I know them, which I certainly don’t, but sometimes their post are so cute that it almost makes me tear up, and today it made me wish and hope and pray that I might feel the same way.

So Justin & Mary, I know I will never meet you in person, but thank you for sharing your life with us.  Thank you for giving us a glimpse of wonderful.

Here’s the blog post that Mary posted that brought these thoughts.

And just in case that 4 year anniversary post doesn’t make you fall in love with these people, here’s a video promo that one of my favorite videographer teams (StillMotion-that I’ve followed for years) did of Justin & Mary.  It’s the words of this video that are inspiring =)

Enjoy!

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Forks Over Knives–Making Our Own Decisions

We did a free trial of Netflix yesterday just so we could watch the Forks over Knives documentary. In my own opinion, I definitely think it is worth the time to watch it. As individuals our health is the only thing we can come close to controlling and with the eating habits of the western world, it is going to come down to the choices each person makes for him or herself.

And as consumers we have to do our best to be aware and to a degree be critical of who is telling us what.  The United State Department of Agriculture puts out the food pyramid and tells us how much of this and how much of that we should eat, but who are on those panels to create those guidelines…and who might they have ties too? The pharmaceutical companies make”miracle” drugs, but the pharmaceutical company also does not make money on healthy people…hmm…
Science has given us cows that produce more milk, chickens who pop out more eggs & have more meat, but then years later we find out that these additional hormones are negatively affecting the generations that grew up eating & drinking these things everyday… ?
We eat food with numbers, letters, & colors…with high fructose corn syrup & now with aspartame that might give us cancer… doesn’t it scare you?  It makes me wonder…Why does it seem that cancer has now become rampant? Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.? Why is it not the same statistics in areas that do not have as much accessibility to fast foods?

Forks Over Knives mainly focuses on data & studies done that supports a whole foods and more of a plant-based diet.  And no, I am not going to become a full vegan after watching the documentary, and I will still drink some milk & eat eggs Saturday morning, but I am going to start tweaking my diet and doing things such as using my steak & chicken as a side or to add flavor instead of eating a large portion as the main course.  I am going to start paying even more attention to what makes up the food I put in my body.  And I am going to become more of a do-it-yourself cook, even if it takes me longer in the kitchen & cost me more at the register, I will be saving money & time in the long run when I am not having to go for sick visits or chemo or surgery.

So yes, I recommend watching Forks Over Knives. Not that you have to agree with all of it, but I think it is one of those documentaries where you will take away bits and pieces that will ultimately make your life even better.

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Working Out-It’s Only For You

I had a tough but awesome workout today during lunch.  The last 5 min of my run I was really having to concentrate on breathing, I was sweating profusely, and I had a fleeting moment when I wanted to just stop and walk…but it was the next moments when I pushed through, I challenged myself both mentally & physically,  and I achieved.

That’s the thing about working out, when it comes down to it, it’s only for you.  You are the only one that can overcome the doubts, that can talk yourself through, that can dredge up the motivation.  I workout 5-7 times a week because I love the feeling of being completely in control of the outcome.  I see growth of muscles & my ability to run farther & lift more, but I also feel growth in my mental strength & motivation.  And as a person that love love loves working out, I want everyone I know to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment like I do, but also have come to realize that people feel accomplished in different ways and through different things.

But if I can say to each of you…Find something, at least one thing, that you can do for yourself and no one else.  Only you can pick that hobby or goal and then take some time to strive to achieve it or incorporate it into your life.  The feeling of self-accomplishment is irreplaceable, whether it is completing a half-marathon, finishing a book, or becoming a CEO.

So good luck.  If you need help getting started or thinking up something, then talk to a friend or grab a piece of paper, but make sure in the end, that you are doing something during your day, week, or life for yourself. You will thank yourself.

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How Do You Know?

Going through the marriage process and now still being an almost newlywed, I’ve had people ask me, “how do you know?” And just like people before told me, my first answer is (probably to their annoyance) “You just know.” But it’s true. When you are dating someone for sometime and you have no doubts at all when you think about marrying them, then they are most likely your “one.” I say most likely because marriage is about more than the lovey dove feelings, looks, or money. Marriage is about choosing a companion that you enjoy spending time with and think is worth working on a life together with.
The engagement, wedding planning, wedding, and honeymoon are an absolute blast, some of the most wonderful times of your life, but once you come down off that high, that’s when reality sets in. You realize what marriage really is and the those attributes you disliked about each other before are never going to change and will probably at some points get even more annoying. Which is why, if you have any doubts at all before you get married, then take a few minutes, days, months and figure out what you really want and who you really want to be with, because it is easy to get caught up in the ring, details, planning your dream, then wake up one day and it’s all done.
Doubts will pop up after you are married, even if you are two perfect people, but it will be an even worse situation it you have doubts of marriage beforehand. Marriage is tough. Everything from money to hobbies to what the other person eats will come up, so give yourselves a chance and at least try your best to listen to God and follow that instinct and those voices inside that are telling you yes or no.
And side note, not that you should live by what a friend or family member says, but as a gut check, ask someone that is semi-close to you what they think of your relationship.  Even though we never want to listen…people just outside of your two person bubble can see things you may be blinded too, but then again, they may think you are a perfect couple and just be a reassurance :)
So good luck.  Try your best to listen to God & your gut, then go for it, pray, and work hard for love and happiness.

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