Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Moment

I haven't been posting as often lately--or maybe it just feels like there has been more time in between posts.  Part of that might be because school has ended and I am craving relaxation now that it's summer.  Maybe it's because work has been busier than ever and pretty stressful the past couple weeks.  Or perhaps it's just a normal lull of sorts.

Anytime it's been a few days since my last post, the need to write another is in the back of my mind (even though I love writing).  It's kind of like the piles of papers I need to clean up, the laundry I need to fold, the pictures I need to hang on the walls, the clothes I need to put away, the errands I need to run.  There is always a to-do list, something else I feel like I should be doing.

But while those tasks are hanging over my head, I'm not truly in the moment.  I'm not focusing on the present.

A similar thing happens when I think about the future.  On a small scale, I sometimes get so anxious thinking about the week ahead, I can't truly enjoy my Sunday.  Or on a larger scale, I dream about what's going to happen in a few months, next year, a couple years from now.  I plan out where I want to be, how I envision my life and family and career someday down the line. 

But at the same time, all that thinking about the future can make it tough to treasure all the wonderful things I experience in my life now.  It's hard to understand how I get from here to that point in the future.  It's overwhelming to think of the time, the uncertainty, and all the little steps I will take before my life becomes the one I see in my future.

What does that mean now?  What does that mean for my today?  I can't discount the amazing aspects of my daily life.  I can't forget to be grateful for the small things in life... and the big things... that I sometimes take for granted.  Even when the to-do lists are never-ending and the goals I have set seem unattainable, my life right now holds so much happiness.  I just need to remember to take a moment, recognize the good things, and thank God for all I have.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Go Blonder with John Frieda Lightening Spray

It's June in Chicago, which means we have had chilly temperatures, sweltering humidity, random downpours, and a good amount of sunshine.  I haven't seen much of that sunshine since I work indoors during the week and the weekends find me both indoors and outside. 

I am naturally blonde, and I have never gotten my hair colored or highlighted.  Then, a few weeks ago, I realized my hair had lost its sunny shade.  Summer sunlight typically bleaches it out a bit, but I don't have the time or the patience to spend hours sitting outside.  And I refuse to spend a bunch of money on professional highlights.
via John Frieda site
When I saw ads for John Frieda's new Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray, I had to track it down and give it a whirl.  For $10, the spray was definitely within my budget.  (I had a coupon for $5 off two products, so I picked up the shampoo too, which I have used before and liked.)  The product is easy to use too.  The spray contains hydrogen peroxide and is activated by heat from styling tools.  Think a sophisticated version of Sun-In.

A quick spray before blow-drying and straightening my hair over a few days' time gave me immediate results.  Well, at first, my dark blonde hair turned a little brassy as it transitioned (which is why this spray is not made for true brunettes), but with a few more uses, the light blonde hues started developing.  I have stopped using it every day since over-doing it with this product, in addition to lots of heat, could lead to damaged hair... and there is nothing pretty about that.
Bottom line, this stuff works!  I have had more people than I can count comment on how my hair looks different... lighter... great.  Everyone from my mom to work colleagues, from good friends to the barista at Starbucks (we know I'm addicted) have noticed and complimented my new 'do.  If you're a blonde in need of a little boost, give this spray a try... and let me know what you think!

*I'm not being compensated or perked for this post... just want to share this amazing beauty product!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Exercise Goal: Achieved!

It was a busy, stressful week at work so this weekend is all about relaxing and recovering.  After five days of hunching in front of the computer, fielding urgent requests and navigating negotiation calls, my shoulders were permanently tensed and up to my ears.  I had a SpaFinder gift card so I scheduled a 60-minute massage at Urban Oasis to work out the kinks.  My neck, shoulders, and back needed it!  A dinner of Mexican food and a margarita led to reading a magazine, passing out on the couch and then stumbling into bed for a long night's sleep.

Today has been full of beautiful sunshine... and more moments of relaxation.  I hit a yoga class this morning and grabbed coffee with a good friend from high school who was in town.  I can't wait to spend time with some of my best friends at a rooftop party tonight (congrats on graduating from med school, Dr. J!).  And tomorrow, a couple of us girls are doing a CorePower Yoga class at North Avenue Beach as part of this cool event.

Speaking of yoga... I had to share the good news that I reached my exercise goal.  On Thursday, I stopped by Lululemon to pick out my "reward" and had to restrain myself from buying more than one item.  After trying on a bunch of cute tops and pants, I walked out with these lovely cropped leggings.  Made for running, they are also fabulous for all kinds of yoga poses (tried them out today!).  Plus with the fabric that compresses your legs and the seams that cut great lines, they make you feel good and look good.  Mine have light pink and white at the waistband and calves, which I didn't see on the site, but there are other cute color combinations.

A view from the front

Handy zippered pocket in the back on the waistband

Love the stripes on the calves

Seams run down the back and around the leg
And the best part of accomplishing my goal is knowing I was able to find time to work out three times a week this past month.  I created a habit, feel stronger, and have found more energy and peace through sweating it out on a regular basis.  It's definitely something I plan to keep up... especially since my family's beach vacation is coming up soon!

Enjoy the weekend!  Find time for yourself to do what makes you happy and allows you to restore your body and spirit.  For me, that apparently involves a massage, Mexican food, my hubby, reading, sleep, yoga, coffee, friends, and sunshine.

*I'm not getting any compensation from the companies I called out... just happy to share some of the places and things I love.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Club: Up From the Blue

Now that finals are over and school is out for summer, I am looking forward to summer reading... that is, reading everything I can cram into the weeks before fall quarter.  To kick off the reading extravaganza, we met for book club on Saturday evening at E's place.  She had come up with a few interesting discussion questions, sparking a lively conversation about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and the many ethical issues surrounding medical research.  We chatted about the book and sat around a coffee table full of yummy snacks prepared by our gracious hostess--cheese and crackers, grapes, cocktail sausages in a mini crockpot, deviled eggs, tiny tarts, and funfetti cupcakes fresh from the oven.  Not to mention, we enjoyed a few bottles of wine before continuing the fun at the bar across the street.

For next month, our pick is Up From the Blue: A Novel by Susan Henderson.  The debut novel tells the story of Tillie, who confronts her past and comes to terms with her family background as she experiences the birth of her own daughter.  We'll be meeting in July to discuss this selection.

via Amazon
From Booklist (via Amazon):
When Tillie goes into labor while her husband is overseas, she must turn to her estranged father for help. Seeing him brings up painful memories. Her childhood was defined by the conflict between her flighty, moody mother and taciturn, controlling father. Henderson shifts to the past and has young Tillie tell the story of how her father’s military position forces the family to move, after which her mother sinks into a deep depression and withdraws from her family’s life completely. Tillie cannot process why or how her mother has disappeared, so she places the blame on her father. Now, with the birth of her own daughter, adult Tillie must come to terms with how her father chose to protect her. Henderson shows remarkable compassion in her debut novel, an affecting portrait of depression through a child’s eyes. --Aleksandra Walker

Monday, June 6, 2011

One Year Down, Forever to Go

Scott and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday (and the fourth anniversary of our very first date!).  At the start of our fun weekend at Notre Dame, we renewed our vows, along with other couples who were celebrating many more years of marriage.  Certainly an inspiration!  When we got back to Chicago yesterday--our actual anniversary date--we shared a lowkey evening, digging into the top tier of our wedding cake and watching a little of our ceremony video.  Considering the cake was a year old and survived a flight from Kansas City, it wasn't too bad... we each had a few bites!

Wedding cake - June 5, 2010
Wedding cake - June 5, 2011

Ever the thoughtful husband, Scott surprised me with tickets to see Tim McGraw this summer and a lovely pair of amethyst earrings.  Jewelry in my favorite color... can't go wrong.  His sister had brought the stones back from her travels around the world months ago, and the little jewels were begging to be set into posts... I was so happy to see the finished product and obviously had to wear them to work today.  And his card was equal parts hilarious and romantic (just like Scott...ha).  There is no one I would rather spend forever with...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

College Reunion!

There's nothing like reuniting with your closest friends--those who knew you in college, stood by you through any kind of drama and fun, and were there all hours of the day and night.  The classes, the parties, the late-night studying, the soul-baring discussions, or the hilarious antics... over those four years, we grew up together.  We had increased freedom but didn't have to deal with the real-world responsibilities yet.  Apart from our families, we became our own little family.

This weekend is my five-year college reunion.  I truly can't believe it's been five years since graduation.  I've been fortunate enough to stay in close touch with many of my friends from college with numerous celebrations, football games, weddings, bachelorette festivities, and weekend visits.  But being on campus, staying in the dorms, and spending time with a large part of the Class of 2006 again... it makes the whole thing a little more like the college days we all treasure.  I'm ready to make some new memories (and now we have a lot of great husbands, fiances, and boyfriends around to join us too!).

Plus my parents will be there for their 30-year reunion...  They got married a week after graduation, so they recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary too.  How amazing is that?


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