Monday, March 30, 2015

NYC Half Round 2

Again, I am a few weeks late on the half marathon post. Having learned our lessons from last year's half (read more here,) we came prepared to compete in our Nike Hyperwarm Technology attire and foil blankets. Considering it was about 20 degrees warmer than it was last year, we may have been a bit over-prepared but I didn't get hypothermia nor did we spend time huddled together in a port-a-potty to keep warm, so I will consider it a win! 

Having run the course twice now, I feel like I can say with credibility, it's my favorite. (Definitely beats Disney.) The half starts in central park, you run up along the upper east side, cross over to the upper west side for a loop, reenter the park for a few miles (with hills), exit the park at 7th Ave, run through Times Square, cross over to the Westside Highway, push through a tunnel, and end near battery park. You get to see so much of the city and there are people cheering for you every step of the way. My favorite cheerleader was a British lady who in her most perfect accent exclaimed "elegant collarbones ladies!" For the rest of the race, I didn't hunch at all! I made sure I was poised, with elegant collarbones, making the British proud! 

The best part of this race, we finished in our best time, under two hours, and no trips to the medical tent after! Can't wait for next year's race! 

Pre-race. Wrapped, warmly, in our foil blankets. We stayed uptown this year, which I highly recommend. Post race, we had to walk a bit to get an Uber, but it was so nice to walk out the door and be at the race entrance. 

Somewhere in the park. 

Times Square. This is always one of my favorite parts. I think I take minutes off of my normal mile pace. 

Elegant collarbone! 

We did it!

See you next year, New York!



PS. I've been thinking about trying to qualify for the NYC Marathon. Thoughts? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Nudes

Now that we are a few days into spring, I am already finding myself ready for a spring wardrobe refresher. Since I've been so good about shopping this year (only purchasing a pair of boots (on SALE), running shoes, and a few winter weather running clothes for the NYC Half) I thought instead of purchasing, I would just do a post of all of the things I would purchase right now if I lived in my own fantasy, unlimited funds world. I am loving nudes and after consulting my closet post eBay shop, I've realized that I am lacking in a few good nude pieces for spring and summer. Nudes for spring? Groundbreaking. I have a pair of nudge wedges and nude bow heels, but I would love a pair of flats and everyone needs a classic nude corss-body bag. 

A girl can dream, right? What are you currently craving? I'd love to hear. 



Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

It's hard for me to believe that this picture took place nineteen years ago. (When did I get that old?) I remember this day all too well. From the limo driver taking me through the Burger King drive through to get a kid's meal, to tearing up up own beautiful bouquet as I walked down the isle, to watching you dance your first dance, and eating way too many meatballs at the reception. 

You two have been the most selfless parents and I am so blessed that I am able to call you mine. With a little bit of spoiling along the way, you have shaped me into the young woman I am today. You let me fail even when I didn't want to. You built up my confidence far beyond what you had to. You selflessly gave me more than everything I could ever need, and I was probably not always the most gracious in my acceptance, but you loved me nonetheless. 

Aside from loving me, you loved each other. Thank you for being such an exemplary couple for me to admire. Your love for each other radiates to anyone who knows you two. You support and challenge each other in so many ways that I hope to one day find the one who I can share a similar relationship with.  

When you two said "I Do" you were twenty six, the age I am now, and had a seven year old. I don't know how you did it. Love you two more than you can possibly imagine. Thank you for being the two best role models a girl cold ask for and my biggest fans.

Happy Anniversary! Here's to many more! 


Your Baby Girl 

Friday, March 20, 2015

New York

I can't believe a week has already passed since I left for New York. I know most of my northern friends in the south despise it, but I love the city. I had the best few days with my family and was able to see so many of my friends while in the city, all the while eating entirely way more than I should and running a half marathon! 

My flight left Charlotte at 7:00 and I was fast asleep in my seat long before take off, so I was happy this view of the sunrise woke me up before landing so I could appreciate it. 

We stayed at The Ritz Central Park (slightly to the right of the Plaza in this picture.) Fortunately, I was with my parents because this is certainly not the type of New York I would be able to experience on my own. Everyone at The Ritz is lovely. They learn your name rather quickly and everyone calls you Miss. I felt like I was living 100 years ago during the time of The Biltmore or my dreams had really come true and I was indeed, Kate Middleton. 

We ate. ALOT. (Sorry, Holly.) Friday, we dined at Sarabeth's for brunch and while I was proud of myself for ordering french toast (no meat) I accidentally ordered a side of their chicken sausage. It's ok though, because the entire weekend was one giant lenten fail. (I'm convinced St. Peter is going to be standing outside the gates of heaven holding a warm chocolate chip cookie when its my time.) My parents love going to Patsys in New York so we went on Friday before seeing The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Hilarious show, I highly recommend. Having just got back from Uganda, I could definitely relate to pieces of the performance. (In the, I am a Christian and came her with my cape on to save these people, kind of way.) 

Saturday was rainy and icky, so we met up with my friend Krista and her boyfriend, Drew, for lunch at The Meatball Shop and then wandered around the American Museum of Natural History. Ok, I strongly recommend The Meatball Shop. The lunch, was love. But the dessert. Mmmm. Homemade ice cream sandwiches. The entire concept is fun. Selecting your meatballs, the sauce, how you want them made, all pretty impressive. Then, you can select which homemade ice cream you want nestled between two delicious home made cookies. Krista and I decided to share but she decided to stick to her lenten promise of no cookies (good girl) while I indulged. By time we finished brunching, it was pretty late in the day but we decided to hit up the museum and do as much as we possibly could in the time remaining which became pretty exhausting. We visited ocean life, the planetarium, African mammals, dinosaurs, and a bunch of other exhibits that all blur together at this point. We parted ways after the museum, and my parents and I went to Parm for our pre-race pasta meal. (We were definitely on an Italian kick this trip.) 

Sunday morning was the race! I'll do more on that in a different post but it was one of the best runs I've had in a while - so overall, pretty enjoyable! 

Sunday, my friend, Sam, traveled in from Providence to spend the day with us which made me oh so happy! We brunched at The Standard which had now become our #nychalf post race tradition. I had a burger which was delicious, and the cheddar grits, but the cinnamon doughnuts are delicious. I think I could consume multiple orders, all on my own. After our lengthy brunch, we wandered down to Soho where met up with Krista and Drew again and another one of my friends Derek, who taught with me at Harding and now works for TFA in the city. I loved having Krista, who has been my friend for the past 15+ years, with Sam and Derek who taught with me in Charlotte, and my parents all in once place. I could have stayed all night, but sadly, they all had work the next day and lives to get back to (and travel too.) 

When you become as depressed as I was about leaving the city, the only reasonable response is to eat Momofuku cake in bed. I love momofuku cake truffles, which are actually my favorite, but my family and I decided to split a cake and I may have a had a few cake truffles too (again, sorry Holly.) 

These are a bit out of place but on Friday (two days before our half) Mom and I thought it would be a great idea to go ice skating in Central Park. Fortunately, no injuries to report so it makes the outing a lot more fun. I really think I missed my life calling of Ice Princess by growing up in Florida. Once I had built up my confidence from a lap or two on the ice, I made friends with a lovely ten year old who impressed me with all of her tricks and while I tried to imitate her skills, she suggested I sign up for the adult Skate Academy. I could be "really good." One day, young friend. 

 Back to the simple life. At least I have Henry in Charlotte.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

This American Life: Three Miles

First, I apologize that it has been a week since my last update! Following the trip to New York, I had ever intention of coming back and posting something earlier in the week about my trip but with the constant orders from my eBay shop, falling asleep before nine, and listening to the latest from This American Life, not much has been done.

I stumbled upon the latest episode of This American Life on Tuesday and was hooked pretty quickly. I was also falling asleep before 9:00 so it took me two nights to finish the hour long program.

Quick recap, the program tells the story of two schools (three miles apart) from different ends of the economic spectrum and their students who participated in an exposure program which allowed both sets of students to see a different reality. The majority of the program focuses on the students now, ten years later, and their insights and perspectives into the experience.

As someone who would have attended the private school in this scenario, so much of myself still identifies with the students from the public school. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. While I had more exposure to resources growing up than the students in this story, so much of myself still felt intimated by my peers and the constant need to prove that I too, belonged.

I too have been guilty of thinking that if we could just get students accepted into college, their life trajectory would be transformed. Whilst for some this is true, for the majority of students, placing them in a college environment without resources and continued assistance can be just as detrimental if not more harmful, than their high school experience.

While I love my college program and all that we have accomplished together, it keeps me awake at night wondering if they are truly prepared for the next step, college. I worry that they will be in that 80% that does not graduate within six years. I worry they, like the students in this story, will feel intimated or ashamed, and ultimately allow these vulnerabilities to prevent them from graduating. Even after college, there is more including the job application process that we are still responsible for preparing them for.

It's easy to make assumptions and I, admittedly, have made them myself. I appreciate this story and the perspective it shares to tell the stories of our most vulnerable students. If you have an hour to spare, instead of watching the Real Housewives, listen to this.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Disney Princess Half Marathon

In all honesty, I have really mixed emotions about my Disney Princess Half Marathon experience. Overall, it was positive but I think I built the event up in my head so much, that I was a bit let down. In my imagination, I was running through the parks with Belle, Ariel, Elsa, Jasmine and the other princesses cheering me on throughout the race. Minnie was there. Everything was pink. There was glitter. Everywhere. I may have even dreamed of gifting Mickey with a high-five as I passed by and he was a cheering me on. Looking back, I realize with these expectations that I was only allowing myself to be disappointed ... a bit. But, it's Disney and supposed to be magical so I think my expectations were justified. 

The start. The pro was that Fairy Godmother was there (I would still have preferred Minnie) to announce each coral and sang a little bippity bop pity boo before a series of fireworks went off. Definitely, a plus. The con, the race was at 5:30 AM and we had to leave our hotel by 3:45 to catch the monorail, then walk for 45 minutes to the starting line. The starting line was in a back field of Disney which was a bit disappointing but at least they had plenty of fireworks. 

The run. You don't really realize just how small the parks are, until you are running through them completely empty. We spent very little time in the actual parks and most of the time on the Disney highway. They had a few characters set up along the way (plus) but you had to wait in line to take pictures with them (negative.) The characters they did have were the Villains (umm, no thanks) Woody and Buzz (who I like, but not on a princess run) and they were posing for pictures, not cheering you on like I had envisioned. I think the Toy Story army men were the only characters who were doing any cheering and as we had just climbed an on ramp at the highway, I wasn't particularly thrilled for a life sized toy solider to be yelling at me. 

We made it to Magic Kingdom! 

This was my favorite moment of the race. On the back side of the castle, Elsa and Ana were on a balcony cheering us on (exactly as I imagined) and when they saw me and my Olaf running through they cheered and said "keep going Olaf! Warm hugs at the finish line!" I was on a high. Elsa and Ana had just cheered for us. (I'm five, I know.) 

The only picture we stopped mid race to pose for. Just outside of the castle, they and multiple stations so I think it was worth adding the extra time. Sad that it was still so early you couldn't see the castle too well. 

Everyone LOVED Olaf. Spectators would be cheering with normal levels of enthusiasm and then someone would spot Olaf and the crowds would erupt. GO OLAF! LOOK OLAF! YOU CAN DO IT OLAF! Meanwhile, Olaf was really into her playlist and missed some of the cheers but she had no problem posing for a picture! 

The finish line. I was pretty thrilled to be crossing the finish line because it meant the end to the race (yay) and they had quite the crowd (all tickets you had to buy so sadly Papa Leach was not there to cheer us on.) Again, no characters. I was hoping Minnie would be there to give me a hug or Belle would give me my medal but I was disappointed. They did have fairies there to sprinkle pixie dust on you after you got your medal and that, I loved. 

After finishing, mom and I were a bit let down because all of the post race treats (massages, champagne, snacks- all things that I've had offered for free at former races) were at a cost and we did not bring money with us to the race. I think the girl from Brave was there posing for pictures, but again no Belle, Ariel, or Jasmine. Apparently Jasmine was at the pre-race pasta meal (you had to buy an additional ticket to) and Belle was at the post race retreat (something else you had to buy an additional ticket too.) 

Overall, it was fun and I did enjoy the race and running with my Olaf (who hit her best time yet by the way) but from Disney, I would have expected a bit more. 

This weekend, we are off to New York for the NYC Half and this year, it's projected to be about 15 - 20 degrees warmer than last year. This girl is beyond thrilled. 

Looking for the perfect race tutu? I recommend this Etsy shop. She was wonderful (even followed up on my shipping!) I ordered the tutu pretty late in the game and she accommodated my request by adding snowflakes to my tutu and had a quick turn around on the shipment. If ever I need a tutu again, I will be contacting her. 



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My eBay Shop!

As mentioned in Monday's post, I decided to follow The Everygirl's advice for purging my closet and consigning items on eBay. As a warning, this is a huge undertaking and the entire process took much more time than I initially anticipated. I started on Saturday by purging my closet. Admittedly, I am too attached to my clothing (see below.) I have the tendency to hang on to things in the hopes that it will fit again or I will find myself in the perfect situation where I can wear it again. I've always had a strict "have I worn this item in the past year?" rule and found myself wearing things just to say that "yes, I have worn it, so its a keep!"

Following the purge, I sorted everything in to donation and consign piles. Donations were items that were too worn to possibly make money off of or had major noticeable stains or tears. I then sorted the consignment piles into spring/summer and fall/winter. Once my entire apartment resembled a distribution center with clothes spread out so far Henry was crying because there wasn't an available couch/bed for him to sleep on, I started the eBay preparations.

I made sure everything was freshly pressed (dangerous as I tend to burn things... not the most domesticated) which took a few hours. Then, I had to photograph my items. I staged an area in my room (the only room with white walls in my apartment) with plenty of natural sunlight. I used a command strip so I could easily hang things and not have a door/mirror in the background. I used a hanger I received as a bridesmaid present with my name on it, which made all of the listings look more fun. I made sure to photograph the front, back, embellishment details, labels, and materials tag. After completing this process in a few hours, I uploaded the items to eBay. It actually takes a bit longer than I anticipated from the app as there are a lot of questions about the product, descriptions, details on condition, size, brand, etc.. that you have to enter in order to post.

So far this week, I've made six sales (wahoo!) and am hoping to make a bit more since I invested so much time in this adventure! I decided to include shipping in my asking price - it seemed a bit tricky to have to estimate shipping for each piece. I am open to accepting offers, but only looking to do that for bundles of items since I will save on shipping.

Hopefully, there is something you like! I posted a few of my favorites below and you can shop my eBay shop here!

I've had this Tibi top for a while. I wore it to a concert with one of my best friends in high school and I wore it during my first round of sorority recruitment at Clemson (with white shorts.)

I love this Lilly dress. Sadly, I was only tiny enough to fit into the size 2 for like a month. 

This is my favorite Lilly dress. Ever. I love it and had a really hard time listing it because part of me wants to save it incase I one day have a little girl who loves Lilly as much as I do. Also, my best friend in college had the same dress in navy and we thought it was fun to wear matching Lilly dresses. 

I love this Kate Spade dress. The bow says it all. Sadly, I outgrew it. 

Summer 2011, I lived in this skirt. I wore it multiple times a week I think. Still in great condition. 

These shorts are the best! Again, I only lasted in a size 2 for a brief period in 2013 and I don't think there any hope of returning to that size. But, I love them! 



Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekend Recap

This weekend feels like it was way more than just an hour short! Definitely went by way too quickly (like most weekends too.) Friday afternoon, I had very few plans but it turned out to be a pretty fun weekend. Friday night, one of my friends and grabbed a pasta dinner and I may have overindulged on manicotti (sorry Holly) and then we discovered The Parent Trap was on and spent the rest of the evening reciting every line before Lindsay Lohan and loving every moment of it. 

Saturday, Emily and I had signed up for an aerial fitness class with Air Charlotte. I may be slightly obsessed. It was so much fun, it didn't even feel like a work out (until Sunday.) We used the promo code AIRCHARLOTTE, to take the class for $1 but now I am trying to figure out how I could rearrange my budget to do it more. Remember when I took a trapeze class? Well this confirmed it, I was really meant for the circus. Expect to see me in a Circ Du Solei audition soon. Don't worry, we took all of the pictures post work out. 

To reward ourself for hard work, we went to littleSpoon. I follow @littlespooneatery on all social media but I am rarely up and functioning in time to make it there before they sell out of their pop tarts. Not this week. There was a wait and Emily convinced them to save one of the final PB & J Poptarts for us to share. We ate it too quickly for photographs, but I highly recommend ordering. We then split, Cinnamon Brioche toast (my favorite), a hash brown, egg, and sausage scramble, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, and then chicken biscuits which were to die for. They were like fancy Chick Fil A chicken biscuits with a garlic aioli. The staff there is awesome and they also brought us over some lamb sausage to try and a few samples from a fresh slab of bacon. Em and I are co-Presidents of the clean plate club so we definitely ate too much and vowed not to eat the rest of the day...

That night, Em and her pup Leonard came over for pizza, wine, and a free On Demand movie courtesy of Time Warner Cable. We watched The Theory of Everything which I actually enjoyed. (I rarely watch movies.) In true fashion, we Googled Stephen Hawkins' biography before watching the movie so we knew just what to expect and confirmed the movie with online biographies throughout. 

After reading this article on The Everygirl, I decided to try launching my own eBay shop. I will share more on that this week, but so far, I've dedicated about 10 hours to this project (cleaning out my closet, sorting the clothes, pressing the clothes, snapping pictures, and now listing on eBay) and no one has made a purchase yet. Fingers crossed I at least make something to make my invested time worthwhile. 

I'm off to New York this upcoming weekend for the NYC Half. I am so excited to be back in the city and see my parents and so many of my friends. I plan to do a little cheating on Lent there (#sorrynotsorry.) 

Cheers to a four day work week! 



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's OK to Say "I Can't Afford It"

We are raised not to talk about money. I remember during sorority recruitment, money was one of the five B's (Boys, Bucks, Booze, Bible, and Brands (maybe?)) of topics to avoid during the recruitment process. In my current stage of life, I have friends at all levels of the income spectrum. I have friends who work for the banks in Charlotte and make more than $200,000 a year and I have friends working hourly retail positions where they aren't even thinking about their yearly income.

What I have seen through conversations and experiences, is that we put a negative connotation to admitting that you can't afford something. There is a level of shame associated with the expression when really, there shouldn't be. So you have committed to the honorable of profession of teaching and make roughly $33,000 a year and can't afford to split a dinner of $100 bottles of wine, appetizers, multiple entrees, and desserts with friends, while you ordered a $10 cheese pizza and over indulged on the complimentary bread and water. It would be lovely to attend your best friends engagement party in New York, bridal shower in Nashville, bachelorette weekend in Turks and Caicos, and wedding ceremony in Napa in addition to purchasing a new dress, shoes, jewelry, spray tans, manicures, make up, and hair styling for the day, but weddings are expensive.

I realize this was an obnoxious example, but I see it. Friends who are willing to put themselves into a bit of a financial pickle or take away from their own savings to go on that trip to California they have been wanting to take in order to pay to attend or be in a wedding all because they are too embarrassed to say 'I can't afford it." Friends who will skip out on that mani/pedi they have been wanting to treat themselves too because the night before, they had to split a bill evenly at dinner and ended up paying for way more than what they consumed.

It's something I am trying to teach myself to be OK with. Would I love to book a day at the spa with you, yes. But in reality, I am still trying to pay off my credit card from my trip to Africa so right now "I can't afford it." Renting a house down in Charleston for a summer weekend sounds lovely, but since Henry decided to get live disease, multiple ear infections, and a have a tooth removed this past fall, "I can't afford it." I love taking my fitness classes, but since I didn't make too many placements last month, "I can't afford it."

Sure there is a level of intimidation and vulnerability to it, but instead of digging yourself into a hole finically or making up some ridiculous excuse about why you can't go on a weekend trip with friends, have confidence in who you are and be ok with admitting "I can't afford it."



Monday, March 2, 2015

Career Advice: Keeping Track of Your Applications

I am aware that I tend to be at the far right side of the overly organized scale. I have so many lists, spreadsheets, and apps for my chaos that I sometimes I make lists to better manage my organization.  Realizing that I am a bit obnoxious, I don't expect everyone to be at my level and I make an effort to consciously remind myself not to get annoyed with other's lack of organizational ability. That being said, I am still annoyed when candidates do not keep track of their job applications.

For example, I will call a candidate who has applied whether it be through Indeed, Monster, The Ladders, LinkedIn, our site, etc. to ask about their background and follow up on their application. I find myself constantly hearing the annoying questions of "What position was this?" "Where is this position?" "What company?" "Hmm, I don't remember applying to that one. What is the title again?" I am consistently surprised because as a recruiter, this tells me you are being lackadaisical with your search. The role isn't really meaningful to you. You half heartedly applied which means you may be unreliable throughout the application process.

I was recently watching an episode from Season 1 of Friends where they are in Monica's apartment stuffing envelopes with Rachel's resume to send to companies she's interested in. Now, you could potentially apply for a position from your phone through a few simple clicks. Because of this ease, people are submitting resumes without much thought. This also explains why I consistently receive resumes of fork lift operators for Director of Human Resources positions.

To avoid any potential embarrassing "What did I apply for?" faux pas during you job application process, I recommend keeping track of each position you apply for. Two years ago, when I was on the hunt, I made an Excel document. In this document, I kept track of the company, position, location, date I applied, source of application, and any contact and follow up I had made since the initial application.

I also recommend keeping track of responses you receive and eliminating them from your document. Yes, I've had people follow up with me after I've already informed them that they were not a good fit for the position. Rejection is hard enough once, don't put yourself through it twice.

If I have a candidate going through the interview process with a client, I send them a copy of the job description for each stage of the process, but not everyone will have a recruiter doing this for them. Often times, companies will only purchase ads for positions on the job boards for a certain amount of time, so if you rely on on the site to keep the job description, the company may have taken it down. Posting jobs on career sites can become a bit costly for companies.  If you happen to like job descriptions, I recommend saving them to reference throughout the process.

Below, I posted a hypothetical example of a potential job applications spread sheet. I made all of these positions up so please do not go looking for them! :)

If you are in the market for a new career opportunity, I hope this helps you stay more organized. It is important to demonstrate ownership of your application process and not rely on any other individual or job site to do it for you. Good luck!