Spend Your Free Time The Way You Like

Oh, this quote. I adore it.

large.jpgSome quotes you’ll stumble upon are cute and perfectly poised. Others are inspirational and give you a mood boost. This one has me writing a blog post to expand on it because I know it very very verrrry well and agree with it with all of my beating heart. And yes, I basically stayed home on New Years Eve this year aka went over to my friend McKenna’s house for rosé and lengthy life chats in our PJs.

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Susan Cain (woman behind the quote) is a writer, public speaker and podcaster specializing in introversion. Her TED talk in 2012 titled, “The Power of Introverts” is most definitely worthy of your next 19 minutes and four seconds no matter where you place yourself on the I/E spectrum.

I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert because I get energy off of being around others. Simultaneously, my mind is a riveting place to be so my most treasured awakening moments have come from thinking, reading and writing on my own. Myers Briggs tells me I’m a ENFJ. Let’s call it, ‘I thrive on quiet mornings and dancing in the kitchen and random conversations with strangers at the post office makes me content.’

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On to free time. In the past, I felt as if I was weekending “wrong”. Every time I would come home from college, my dad would ask me about the parties I go to. Well, those atmospheres make me feel more lonely than I do sitting at home by myself so my free time is spent otherwise. However, I still wished I could be a “typical college student” and have a fun time. For once, I wanted to go out and not feel guilty for all of the things running through my mind that I could be doing instead. I’m all about making new relationships all the time but it was seriously clear that I never felt like myself in those settings.

In the midst of those thoughts, I knew I needed women and men outside of those I share genes with by my side. I can’t expect to have friends other than my parents and siblings if I never leave the coziness of my home. My goal of marriage and motherhood will not unravel if I’m not going on dates. I won’t have much to put on my graduate school application if I am not volunteering and remaining active in the work that I’m passionate about.

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I’m taking a liking for research lately and came across a study about friendship published in the American Sociological Review. It’s titled the, “General Social Survey” but came to be known as, “The Loneliness Numbers.” In 1985, the research showed that Americans had three confidants that they could turn to for important matters. In 2004, that number lowered to two with 19% of the participants having no one to confide in. Concurrently, 53% had no close confidants outside of a spouse or family member(s).

Ouch. That makes me saddened to the extreme. But I really do get it because I know what it’s like to feel so isolated and disappointed by the world’s superficial expectations that you want to take life on by your single self. However, we were told to be people of community for a reason.

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It came about incredibly slowly and I cannot even track the shift but eventually, I made a decision to start doing what I actually wanted with my free time with the core intent to kick laziness away and start making every day an adventure. That came with the search for finding out what I love to do and a fair amount of the time, inviting people to experience it with me. Which spiraled into forming a flood of memories, deepening my self-awareness and distancing myself from comparison.

I would much rather road trip to a friend (she wrote a guest post a while ago!) and have her show me around her college town than use the weekend to catch up on sleep and other procedural to-do list items.

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I would much rather ride my bike by myself without any music over sitting in a car with people who listen to objectifying tunes on the top charts.

I would much rather make t-shirts with one of my best friends than go to a bar where my high-pitched voice cannot even be heard by the people I’m with.

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I would much rather create a social media calendar for the eating disorder treatment center that I volunteer at than knock out a series on Netflix.

I would much rather cook a colorful dinner for my siblings without a timer or recipe in sight over driving to get the takeout that we know too well.

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These preferences are not to say that I don’t do the latter parts from time to time. I attempt to live intuitively and am always taking my friends’ concepts of fun into account so my days always looking different. Like the picture above. I took these girls to the Fashion Meets Music Festival for my internship. Many of them liked the rap performances. I liked the hula hoop station. We both left so content!

Sometimes laundry, a documentary and a weird cocktail of apple cider vinegar, ginger, seltzer water and lime are all I want on a Friday night. I walk right past my favorite room in the house (the kitchen) and out the door to get a burger and fries if that’s what sounds satisfying. I find time at a bar with my high-pitched voice in tow to be occasionally enjoyable if I’m with people I love (and this stranger on the right who wanted to hop in the pic).

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I fill my days with what I like, not what I feel I’m supposed to do. I like listening to people dream, asking tough questions and watching the joy that a child brings into a room when nobody was smiling before his/her arrival. I also like how laughter comes about because the body literally cannot hold happiness inside. Watching the expanding and deflating rib cage of the person on the couch next to me is my favorite as well as taking myself out on coffee dates, doing nightly GNOTDs (good news of the day) with my former roommate and eating sushi on a rug with a pal and blankets.

Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Only if that’s what you like. I wouldn’t recommend being an unadaptable brat about it but I also wouldn’t suggest taking what the world is handing you because it is the comfortable option.

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn. – John Wesley

The world needs you to catch on fire in your unique way. Discover what this enthusiasm looks like without outside suppositions and both your weekdays and weekends will start getting a lot more exciting. I promise you that!

What Do Your Friends Look Like?

My choice of entertainment during workouts is probably different than the typical worker outer. Pump up music just doesn’t do it for me!

Yesterday was The Last Song album (yup, the seven years back Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth movie). Today was a podcast about food insecurity. One day last week was this talk about Catholic friendship. Through a lens of St. Pope John Paul II’s teachings, Emily Stimpson goes through nine “rules” of being a good friend.

Now that I’ve moved home after college and old yet incredible friends have reached out to me (and vice versa), I’ve been reminded once again that friendship is one of my favorite things this earthly life has to offer. I just treasure it like crazy town!! Read this, this and this post if you want to read more on friendship from my perspective.

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I’ve been randomly reflecting on this talk that I discovered on the eliptical because as a friend and a Catholic, it discussed things I never truly and deeply thought about. Although all of Emily’s insight was GOLD, her seventh point stuck with me the most: Keep friendships diverse in race, age and status. P.S. all nine rules are in the YouTube description notes!

Your group of friends should look like the body of Christ. The body of Christ has young people and it has older people. It has people who are black and people who are white. People who experience same-sex attraction and people who experience being attracted to one woman after another. That’s who is sitting in the church on Sundays. You’ve got the womanizer, the celibate, the old people. You should be friends with people who come from all those different walks of life. From each of them, you will learn something new. – Emily Stimpson

Yes sir, I have a core group of people who I more regularly call to get tacos, go on walks and watch episodes of The O.C. with. But I’ve had the pleasure of learning that every person who I come across is a gift. Collectively, these people friends have taught me the significance of community that never stops growing and changing.

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Because life is much too short to watch the stars alone. Sometimes, that is so so necessary but the sky is too vast to always sit under it by yourself. Furthermore, it’s too diverse in and of itself to marvel at its beauty with monotonous folks who don’t challenge you, call on you to make sacrifices, teach you life’s greatest lessons and make you feel uncomfortable at times.

My friends include…

The religious sister in her 70s who I have baked Irish soda bread with on St. Patrick’s Day. She contacted me when I was in seventh grade simply because she saw my Irish name on a list at the new school I was attending and it intrigued her. Gotta love Sister Brigid!!

This sincere dude who used to run up to me and give me an orange whenever he saw me on campus. He always had an orange in his pocket. I didn’t ask questions. I love oranges and talking to him!

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The bridesmaid who I met at a wedding last summer where I knew roughly five people. I danced away with the bridal party and today, she’s one of my best friends!

This woman (who rocks an apron like no other!) who worked at my junior high and ten years later, is a great mentor to me. Even with kids of her own, she never fails to consistently let me know how much she cares about me. She invited the fam into her home to cook the most divine meal for us last weekend. Followed by kickball, of course!

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The most friendly guy who works in the produce section of my favorite grocery store. He notices whenever I haven’t shopped there in a week or two and will do anything to make sure my vegetables are prime pickings. He also has the most awkward laugh. I love it!

The man in his 60s who goes to my church, cheered for my friends and I during high school tennis matches and posted this on my Facebook wall on Monday night.

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The volunteers at my church’s food pantry. My mom is one of the coordinators so when my schedule allows, I join the men and women who have 50 years on me and soak up the updates of their grandkids’ life adventures.

All the girls in their 20s who are in a similar season of life with me. Some I’ve been childhood neighbors with, lived with, prayed with, shuffled with (as in shuffleboard…or my signature shuffle dance move. You choose!), STARGAZED with and simply have laid on the floor with. Does anyone else find floor laying to be a hobby?IMG_3125.JPG.jpeg

My parents and siblings (and their friends because we have an open door policy) who join me in every dance party that goes down in our kitchen. For the first time in seven years, we are all under the same roof again yeeeee!!

The pals in my undergrad major and professor who I traveled with to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York City for once in a lifetime opportunities. They let me stop whenever I saw a macaron place…that’s a great sign of friendship 🙂

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The kiddos I babysit who shout my name with complete joy.  Today, I helped them with the signage of their new mashed potato business. Their motto is “No mashed potatoes allowed here because we sell them”… they’re doing big things!

And so. many. more. Like Olivia, one of my best friends with the most diverse group of friends, always tells me, “the world is full of people I haven’t become friends with yet!”. Liv, you are a beautiful and wise (and great kite flying) friend.

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We will never click with everyone. It’s impossible to meet everyone we would click with (although that would be theee coolest!). But if a new face is going to make an impression in our lives, we simply need to be open to whoever the Father is crossing our paths with. Regardless of what stage of life they’re in, what they look like, how differently they sin from you, whether you think they fall into your idea of “friend” status, etc. We can relate to each person because on the most fundamental level, we are all human.

Sometimes, we are called to be the first one to reach out. Other times, we get to decide if we want to receive the invitation that was sent our way. Always, it’s the undivided attention, selfless intent and eye contact that communicates how much you see the individual and all of their worth.

Let’s look at our friends from each and every aspect of our lives. Are we looking at the body of Christ?

First Week as a Graduate!!

I graduated from college last Sunday, April 30 (waaat!). From that day, I had two weeks off  before summer classes and beginning a part-time Dietary Aide position at a rehabilitation center. I chose to stay at school for a full week to savor my time with Cbus friends and finish up my internship 🙂

Aka this week has been fillllled like a cream donut (I don’t know why I made that comparison because I despise cream donuts) with summertime adventures. Beyond packing, here’s a seven day roundup. These sort of weeks are MY FAVE.

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Sweet time with the fam bam! I went out to brunch before commencement and my sister asked me to be her matron of honor with my younger sis!!! After the ceremony, my roommates and I had all of our families over for a cookout and friends came later on in the night. Yes, that’s an avocado on my cap because #rd2be!

“Training” the new Yelptern. This sweet girl, Lily, is taking my position as the Yelp Columbus Marketing Intern so I met with her to give her the inside scoop. We bonded instantly and ended up hanging out three days in a row.

Too many goodbyes. Booooo. I celebrated Taco Tuesday with one of my best friends, Liv. We followed that up with the cutest local ice cream shop because that’s where we kicked off last summer. And fell asleep to the OC because we both have a love for Seth Cohen.

ShrutiI went hiking with my friend, Shruti. Well, everyone in this post is my friend so I’ll stop referencing them as such hehehe.

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I got a popsicle with Maddie. Kiwi yogurt for me and coconut for her!

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Tori and I made breakfast. And proceeded to drown it in everything bagel seasoning. I also got breakfast with Kate but no pictures were taken because I didn’t decide on this recap post until afterwards.

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Gourmet pb&js at Krema Nut Company with Rylie and Liz. Followed up with Rylie’s tennis match where she absolutely killed it! Woo!Lil2

Lily (new Yelptern) and I worked the Lisa Ling selfie station at the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio’s Keyholder event and had a BLAST.

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Kris and I played Life! And had the pleasure of going straight to our career rather than college first hehee.

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Liz, Sarah and I made vanilla chai s’mores. And then I fell asleep. It was probably a bad idea to bring a blanket to her house. Ooops!

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On my roommate’s birthday/Cinco de Mayo, a group of frands celebrated her!! Happy 22nd, Bebe Brooks!!

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On my last morning, Sarah and I went to our favorite farmer’s market because it was her graduation day (YAY SARAH!!!) and the opening day of the outdoor market. Blissss!

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Liz, Tori and my sister helped me pack my car up and I shuffled away 😦

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To wrap up this ahhmazing week, my first morn at home was spent with one of my best friends from high school, McKenna. She’s a beaut!

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On a side note, I also discovered my favorite kombucha to exist this past week. I’ve tried them all (literally, every brand sold in Columbus) and humm is theee most stellar!

Here’s to one more week of freedom and many adventures to come!

Senior Year as Told by my Camera Roll

Whenever I’m asked my thoughts on graduating (4 weeks away eeeeks!!), I’ve noticed that I place the most emphasis on the people. Not about a lack of motivation to study or about the next steps that lie ahead. It’s all about the people. Always.

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I’ll miss walking into the library and seeing eight different friends on the first floor that I can make my rounds to before opening a book. I’ll miss calling them up and asking if I can take them out on a Yelpdate because yes, one of my internship tasks is to go on a weekly adventure with a companion. I’ll miss the five ladies I live with whose rooms I can leave Easter eggs with notes inside (this was a few days ago aka a full month before the holiday) just because. Not a single one questioned it because we’ve been friends since freshman year and they know me.

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These people make my life full. They brighten my day and let me brighten theirs right on back. They don’t resist being the giver of compliments and I’m not talking about any sort of empty superficial shenanigans. They (or the food we share) fill my camera roll because looking through my photos makes me treasure the beauty of friendship all the more.SIX

I know I’ve written about topics related to this recently but that’s because this season of life is teaching me a lot about how to love and be loved. By the people who I pass walking to class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:53am, those who slide a card under my door to thank me for being a friend and the ones who laugh with me when I wake up from my nap in the movie theater. I truly admire those who can stay awake in movie theaters…aka the vast majority of the population. Ooops!

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Never have I ever left so many open spaces for people in my schedule. These spaces which have previously been for studying more, editing papers more, planning ahead more, cleaning more. On top of that, never have I ever thrown my schedule out the window to do my best to say as few no’s to social outings as possible.

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This has caused an interesting, almost unfamiliar semester to me. I saw two of the lowest scores I’ve ever received in my entire college career two weeks in a row and I was perfectly ok with it. I am moving more and sleeping more because heck, I don’t have the largest lymphatic organ so taking care of myself is especially essential for my compromised immune system. I have not allowed myself to think, ‘I could be more productive if I was doing ________ instead’. So when my sister calls me for the second time in one day, I answer it and I don’t rush it.  One day, I was so engaged in our conversation that I missed the florist at my door because a sweet man had flowers delivered to me. Yes, I choose to talk to him too knowing that I could be using that time to check things off of my rigid-free to-do list instead.

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I’ve been talking a lot about this shift with my younger sister who at first, laughed at me and said I had a major case of senioritis. No. I can wholeheartedly say it is not that because I wholeheartedly also know my work ethic. I understand my potential as a student. But more importantly, I understand it as a friend. After the best Christmas break of my life, I decided I would carry out the same mindset of seeing each friend as a prize in this 16 week semester that will culminate with me walking across a stage in a cap and gown.

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I feel like I could keep writing on and on about this and throw some more pictures at you but I have a fish fry to go to with a group of my favorite gal pals! After that, my older sister and her boyfriend will be waiting for me at my house to take me out with a group of their friends in the area. This wide open weekend with nothing to do but spend sweet time with them two is about to be entirely blissful! You bet my camera roll is about to grow. ONE.png

These final four weekends of being an undergraduate student and weekdays in between will be full of bliss too. Because people are all around me all the time. And we, as human beings, are made for relationships. We are made to love and be loved. Don’t ever let anything fog your understanding of that.

The Best Food I Ate This Week

And it has nothing to do with the food. Let’s back up to last week’s grueling nutrition class.

I’m not one to complain. I try to find the good in everyone and everything and only speak about these things while keeping the negative aspects to myself. It’s usually never necessary for others to hear them and it only brings the mood down. As the Bishop of Columbus said today (I wrote this on Saturday, February 18) at the Columbus Women’s Catholic Conference, “A Christian’s tongue should look like swiss cheese from biting it so many times.” TRUE.

However, the nutrition class I’m currently taking is different than I was hoping. Last week, the topic was weight management. You should just see my notes. I wrote phrases like “Ew.”, “I hate this” and “NOOOOO” on my printed PowerPoint slides.

Yes, it’s an important subject matter as many people genuinely do not know how to care for their bodies. But the manner and tone in which it was taught  1) broke my heart and 2) left me aggravated. I ranted to my roommate as soon as I walked in the door and she just smiled and told me she likes when I rant because I rarely do.

I fully understand that the students in the class who laughed along have not been exposed to the mental health side of nutrition as I have. I also fully respect my professor and recognize that she is highly educated and holds a fair amount of experience in dietetics. But learning about ways to control hunger like hunger is a disease that needs to prevented at all costs made me want to get up and leave. I didn’t and wrote those phrases above instead. The phrases kept coming as the class with nonexistent compassion went on and on and onnnn.

I LOVE hunger. I love the feeling of hunger. I love it because it’s a physical signal that allows me to trust my body. It will tell me when it needs energy and nutrients or when it’s good to go. This day-long communication gives me the choice to respect myself while giving my body the ability to work endlessly for me in every system (heyyyo brain, skin, muscles, bones, hormones, blood, heart, lymphatics, etc.). Hunger is a beautiful beautiful thing!

And when hunger is paired with relationships, I’m in bliss. My favorite part about food is undoubtedly how it brings people together. 98.6% of the time, family/friend gatherings and life celebrations have a food component. Not because hunger needs to be controlled but because in the relationship building, we get to share in the life-giving act of nourishing ourselves. Whether it’s food that allows our bodies to function optimally or food that feeds our souls, the emphasis (for me and I hope you too!) is the conversation, laughter and memories being made. Eeeeeks who wants to share a meal with me soon because this is literally the sweetest thing!!!!

So with my ranting passion turned excitement, I’m leaving you with pictures of food/people/both from the past seven days. Partly due to my internship with Yelp and partly because I treasure one on one time with my friends, this week was overfillllled with time spent with the loveliest of people I have a honor of knowing over food.

As the title states, this is the best food I ate this week. Because of the people I ate it with and absolutely nothing to do with the actual food. Pleasure is SO IMPORTANT in eating but if I put that above relationships, I would be a living an extraordinarily sad life. If you want to read about this topic further from actual registered dietitians and not a girl who will (hopefully) be one in four years, read this and this and this.

Saturday, February 18: Cake at Katie’s baby shower! I met this sweet girl three years ago when we lived in the same dorm as little college freshman. She’s my first friend (my age) to have a baby so the excitement for her little girl to arrive IN THREE WEEKS (NOW TWO) is the highest. The chocolate cake to celebrate her and the life she is bringing into this world was lovely!

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Sunday, February 19: Coffee with Shruti! After receiving the best nourishment this world has to offer in the Sacrifice of the Mass, I introduced my dear friend, Shruti, to my favorite coffee shop (Coffee Connections in Hilliard for you Columbus people!). We snagged the best seats in the house (literally a renovated house) for longer than our parking meters allowed. Did we get all the work done that we intended to? Nottta chance. But we savored our coffee and each other’s presence even more!

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Monday, February 20: Vegan Monday with Maddie! One of the bloggers I follow created a vegan menu for a Columbus restaurant that is only served once a week so I took my favorite vegan pal! Maddie is the best listener, most grand story teller, super silly and a wise wise girl with the biggest of dreams . She is the type of person whose presence makes you feel fully alive…oh do I love her! We split a tempeh reuben, truffle fries and a warm salad with kale, brussel sprouts and apple slaw. MAJ.

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Tuesday, February 21: Pizza Party with Liv! I had an event to go to and was able to bring a friend so Olivia graciously joined me! We met each over email when a professor asked us to work on a PR project together and we’ve clicked since then! This event was a pizza party collaboration with a fried chicken restaurant and a pizza shop to raise money for a local nonprofit. There’s nobody I would rather eat fried chicken and a pickle on pizza and a sweet tea cocktail with!
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Wednesday, February 22: Sushi with Maria. Maria and Liv are roommates so I snagged one after the other to catch up with 🙂 After switching my career path and no longer being in our school’s communication building, Maria and I hardly see each other so it was beeeyond necessary that we matched up our Google calendars. Eating immense amounts of sushi followed by playing Yahtzee in a fort we made in her living room made our hearts immensely full! You can never ever ever be too old for a fort!

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Thursday, February 23: Fancy Cocktails in Low-Key Places with Sarah. Each week, my internship releases an online newsletter and I get to try out one of the spots with a friend! This week’s newsletter was titled, “Fancy Cocktails in Low-Key Places” so my bestdafrand, Sarah, and I ordered the coolest cocktails on the menu (hers had bee pollen like WUHT YES PLEASE). She proceeded to patiently wait as she always does when I took 402 pictures and insta stories. We followed this with pizza and a nice long walk n’ talk in my favorite part of the city aka what both of us so desperately crave (the quality time, not pizza hehee)!

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Friday, February 24: Pho with Yelpers! We did an event for Columbus Kindness Month so I had a PHOtoshoot and the next day, was at the restaurant again for lotza hours to greet Yelpers and explain the event’s process. Meeting people you’re friends with on the Internet for the first time in person is seriously strange. Yet also refreshing that you already know who each other are and have a common bond over being foodies! I had quite a few memorable conversations over this incredible Vietnamese soup!

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What’s the best thing you ate this week?! Call me, Facebook message me, write me a handwritten note, leave a comment. None of the above or all of the above. I want to know how a meal or latte or ice cream cone brought you together with a pal or 27 🙂