Friday, December 30, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things {2011}

Upon examination of my life in 2011, beyond running and travel, I quickly discovered this has been the year of B's. 
Beer. Blogs. Books.
Below is a list of my five favorite from each category in 2011. Enjoy!!

This year I decided to move beyond being a 312 Goose Island beer guzzling Chicagoan, and expand my horizons. Below are my five favorite beers I sipped on this year {in no particular order}. 

Creating this blog last January spiked my interest in the blogging world immensely. Below I've listed five blogs I've been reading regularly each week, that also touch upon my varying interests. {This is in no way inclusive of all the bloggers I follow and love, but illustrates the variety of blogs I enjoy}
  • Shut Up + Run: a running blog that always makes me laugh and keeps me motivated.
  • AWG Chicago: a left leaning political blog always making me think.
  • THE FLYBIRD: a travel blog featuring adorable couple Kylie and Spencer, and their amazing photography & videos.
  • Jeff Goins Writer: a blog inspiring me to become a better more consistent writer everyday.
  • The Anchor & The Bird: a blog featuring a lovely New York gal named Carolynn doing inspiring creative good deeds all around the city.

After college, reading suddenly became a choice instead of a "must-do" activity. For me, in order to feel full-filled and whole, the choice has been clear; reading would still be a priority in my week-to-week routine. Here are my five favorite books I read this year{in no particular order}.

I would love to know about your favorite Beer, Blogs, and Books in 2011.
Please leave comments below!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the last week of every year.

i think of all the events of the year. 

i think of connections;
intimate and close. 
i think of intermittent relationships;
my fallen autumn leaves.

i think of joy. 
knowing and warm.
the moments that put the wind back into my sails...

i think of nail biting
compulsively displayed and delivered
without change, despite yearning...

that this time might be different.

i think of boldness;
staring fear dead in the eyes.
i think of passivity;
cowering in the shadow of the unknown.

i think of goals. 
from last January;
laughing at thoughts my mind conjured up.

i think of all the events of the year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Cleveland!

I've left the windy city behind to be with my family in Cleveland to celebrate Christmas.
 Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday & thank you for being apart of the Underlined and Bold community!

My BFF since the 5th grade did the random drawing for me.

Congratulations to Joe Bunting!!!!
Please e-mail me at with your contact info to collect your prize.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Post-Marathon Update!

I'm smiling because of all the yummy food I just consumed! =)

It's been two weeks and five days since I ran my first marathon.
For those of you wondering what happens after race day; below is a little recap of life thus far.

Week 1: 
I was sore as all hell! For the first four days after the race I hobbled around, stuffed my face with food, and tried not to scream anytime I had to sit down, stand up, or use the stairs. As for working out, I walked hobbled a lot to keep muscles from stiffening up too much, and attended one restorative yoga class.

Week 2:
I felt fatigued and low on energy.  I grew concerned I was getting a cold, so Emergen-C Immune Plus naturally became my best friend. My workouts were scarce due to my lack of energy {and maybe because I continued to indulge in some post-race celebrating}. I did manage to attend one of my favorite yoga classes, squeeze in two 45 minute walks and one quick two mile run.

This Week: 
My priorities lie with hanging out with friends, Chris, and my family. I am starting to feel a bit sluggish; so I am definitely eager to begin lacing up my shoes again for a good sweat. I anticipate my first solid run since the race to be this Friday. I'll be back in Ohio where I'll have a treadmill handy in my parent’s basement, and runner friendly streets baring many childhood memories.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that having a few lazy weeks after the race will keep me injury-free as I begin to rev up my running schedule again.

Lastly, with the New Year on the horizon, I am currently creating running goals for 2012. Thus far, I've decided I will participate in two half-marathons and one full marathon. I also want to run a few races of shorter distances to dramatically improve my speed.

So for now, it's off to do some racing research, and relish in holiday cheer{translation- eat more cookies}!
Happy Thursday everyone!!

What races are you planning to run in 2012? Do you have any race suggestions for my 2012 schedule? I would LOVE to hear from you! Please leave comments below. =) 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Giveaway!

Underlined and Bold is celebrating the holiday season by presenting its very first GIVEAWAY!! 

The holiday giveaway is from Bethany Suckrow's, The Ripe Word Etsy shop. The Ripe Word features paintings inspired by Bethany's mother, Tina. Tina is a metastatic breast cancer patient that has battled the illness since 1997. Fifty percent of profits from each painting is donated to her mother to help pay off medical debt.

Note, both paintings featured in this giveaway were purchased from Bethany in honor of Tina.

Enter the giveaway, and you have the chance to win one of two paintings featured below. The winner will pick which painting s/he desires. Entries will be accepted until Friday, December 23, 2011. A winner will be announced on Saturday, December 24, 2011. Scroll down to see how to win!

Text: "Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Taken from Mary Oliver's poem titled "The Summer Day".

Text: "My fist tight, I learn to squeeze the lemon with the same might and firmness
 life requires of me." Taken from Bethany Suckrow's poem titled "The Zest".

For a chance to win-
leave a comment below telling me which painting above you would love to hang on your wall!

  Enter the giveaway a second time by doing one of the following options :

1. Become a follower and leave a comment below telling me you did.
 OR comment below telling me you already follow me!
{To become a follower, find the "follower" section on the right sidebar. Click "Join this site". Then click through the menu options}

2. Buy a piece of art from Bethany's shop The Ripe Word. Then leave a comment below telling me which piece you purchased.
{purchases will be verified with Bethany before the winner is announced}

3. Link to this Giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Leave a comment below telling me you did!

Only two entries will be accepted per person.
This giveaway is limited to U.S. & Canadian residents only.
Good lucky everyone!!

More about the artist:
Bethany is a staff writer and freelancer by day, blogger and artist by night. She authors the blog She Writes and Rights, where she shares both prose and poetry related to life, faith, relationships, storytelling and creativity. She has just begun her first foray into selling her artwork through an Etsy shop, The Ripe Word. She and her musician husband Matt live in the Chicago suburbs.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Memphis Travel Recommendations:

A wall outside Elvis' home signed by his adoring fans/visitors.

Do you love to travel? Planning to visit Memphis?  Planning on driving by the city on a longer road trip? Big Elvis fan?

This post is for you!
After spending five glorious days in this fabulous southern city, I put together a little list of recommendations for my fellow travelers. Enjoy! 

Thrifty Shopping:
If you love vintage or thrift store shopping, Memphis is a great destination!

Items are well displayed and are in great condition. If you're in need of old fashioned porcelain Christmas decorations, they have an amazing selection! This place totally made me feel like I was visiting in my grandmother's house.

This street made me wish I had been driving a U-Haul on my trip. If you have a love of old furniture and sifting through old clothes to find a good deal, this is your spot!! Google map Summer Avenue and National Street. Search "thrift stores". Tons will pop up on your map. My recommendation is head west on Summer Ave. from National St., and peruse the shops!!

Be prepared to loosen your belt buckle after hitting up some of these local restaurants!

If you're a traveler on a budget, enjoy fun local flare {go University of Memphis!}, and drool at the thought of red velvet doughnuts that taste more like a cupcake, then this is your Memphis must.

Despite being a meat heavy menu, I found their BBQ portabello mushroom and Gouda cheese sandwich more than satisfying. An added plus-- they carry microbrewed beers!!

A new addition to the Memphis restaurant scene, this restaurant serves up an amazing thin crust pizza. If you love pork, be sure to order the prosciutto!

**Additional Recommendations: Republic Coffee Memphis {vegetarian friendly} and River Oaks Restaurant {A local man recommend their burgers. All their meats are free range/ farm raised}.

A Tourist Must:
There are many touristy activities for any visitor to busy themselves with during their stay. Below are my two favorites!!

Located on the property Martin Luther King was assassinated; The Lorraine Motel. It's a bit eerie to walk through the place MLK took his final steps, but incredibly moving and well worth the ticket price.

Even if you're not an Elvis fan, head over to Graceland. Getting a glimpse into this late cultural icon's life proves to be intriguing. A tour of Graceland includes a walk through  Elvis' house, checking out his two personal jets and numerous vehicles, and seeing various angles of the "glitz and glamour" that went along with being "the king". Additional Recommendations:
  • Ideal on a sunny day. There is quite a bit of walking outside, so rain may put a damper on your visit.
  • DO NOT purchase your souvenirs on Graceland property. There are stores across the street and next door who offer similar items cheaper.
  • Do use the photo booths! Use the booth on the left. You get two strips for $5, and an awesome video replay of yourself posing and making funny faces for the camera.
  • Outside Elvis' home there is a wall near the street signed by many visitors. Bring some paint or a sharpie, and leave a message!!

To really set the mood, I couldn't end this post without a little Elvis serenade. Enjoy!!! =)

Additional Memphis recommendations are welcome! Please add to this list by leaving a comment below! =)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ace & Badger Explode Memphis!

When Chris and I travel, we take a city by storm. Food, chattin' up locals, checking out historically significant spots, and finding some cold micro-brews are among our top priorities.

You might be thinking ---Didn't you go to Memphis to run a marathon?

Yes. The marathon was an important part of the trip. But we also traveled to Memphis to check out all that this southern American city has to offer. Below is a little peak into some of our adventures! Enjoy!

Chris. AKA. Ace
{like from a deck of cards}
@ Gibson's Doughnuts
Me AKA Badger
{as in Honey Badger don't care}
@ Central BBQ

Elvis Lives

Gluttony {just to remind you that i love food}

& making new friends! {thanks for the pizza!!}
Our mission to find local brews led us to Duncan {pictured above}. Thanks for the great evening!

Issac Hayes & Soul Train? Yes, please!

Party Time!

R.I.P Dr. Martin Luther King

 I <3 Independent coffee shops


Thank you Memphis for putting up with our shannaigans!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

5 Reasons Why I Survived my First Marathon.

Just before the 14 mile mark.
Memphis, TN. ::: December 3, 2011
Photo Credit: Chris Coons

I had two goals for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.
One, cross the finish line {no matter how long it takes}.
Two, have fun. 

How did I accomplish my goals, and run 26.2 miles joyfully? Check out my five strategies below!

1. An Outward Focus.
A little distraction can go a long way on any race day.

Giving out high fives to the wee ones, thanking volunteers while quenching my thirst at water stations, telling spectators dressed as Santa what I want for Christmas, and requesting songs from Elvis impersonators all enabled me to cross the finish line.

Keeping your focus outward and interacting with your surroundings is a fun way to help the miles pass quickly.

 My favorite crowd interaction on this course was hopping onto the the sidewalk, joining volunteer performers doing the "YMCA"{ if you're trying to PR or meet a time goal, I suggest skipping this "focusing outward" opportunity}.

I also tried to remember that races are a very emotional day for many. Throughout the course I scanned the shirts of fellow runners. When I spotted a shirt indicating a runner was racing in memory of a loved one, I'd say a silent prayer.

2. Putting the Brakes on Pushing Play.
I think I can confidently say I'll never be an elite runner. Therefore, I happily use my i-pod with a hand-picked playlist as I rack up miles.

While training, a friend suggested running without music. Curious to see how it would effect my running, I began leaving my i-pod at home on shorter runs. Eventually, I found myself running for about an hour without it.

On race day this proved to be beneficial. I delayed hitting the play button, using the first seven miles to listen to my body and be fully present to the amazing race day energy.

Listening to a song with a killer cadence never feels better than when you've logged a few miles, you're legs are warmed up, and you're ready to kick it into high gear.

3. "Eating Hills for Breakfast."
The St. Jude Memphis Marathon is considered a fairly flat course. Living in Chicago, one comes to realize NOTHING seems flat in comparison.

Despite doing some modest hill training-- using city bridges, the treadmill, and Stairmaster--I knew the rolling hills of Memphis would be taxing on my body. So what's a Chicago gal to do?

On the uphill climb I shortened my stride, slowed my pace to a modest trot, and shouted "I eat hills for breakfast". {Yes, I really shouted this phrase several times throughout the course}. As mentioned previously, I am not above shouting, grunting, and talking to myself during a difficult run. Give it a go sometime! I swear it works!

My downhill descent's did not attract as much attention. I simply let gravity take hold of my body and increased speed.

4. Race Preparation.
Beyond creating a training schedule appropriate for my skill level, I believe there were two key things in my race preparation enabling me to have a fun drama free marathon.

One, I researched the course like a crazy lady. I printed out a course map, and marked it up like I was editing a fifth grader's five paragraph essay. I noted the location of all the steep hills, all the Gu stations, every landmark I would find interesting, and where spectators typically were found along the course route. Additionally, Chris and I drove around near the course starting line the day before to ease anxiety about parking in the morning. {Parking was plentiful and easy on race day morning! Thank the Lord.}.

Two, surrounding myself with supportive people throughout my training. Thank you to everyone who told me I could do it!

5. Refuel. Refuel. Refuel.
Early and often is my motto for refueling.

Beginning at mile three I took water at every other aide station. Beginning at mile sixteen I took water at every aide station. {This marathon had an aide station at the 1.5 mile mark, and at every mile from mile 3 to 25.}

After an hour of running I ate two strawberry Cliff Shot Bloks. At mile nine I received my first Gu pack on course, and proceeded to pick them up at every station they were available {miles 15, 18, 21}. To prevent stomach issues, I consumed the Gu slowly over the course of a mile or two, while picking up water along the way to wash it down.

I only drank Gatorade on race day a few hours before the marathon and immediately afterward. I was too nervous it would make me sick if I consumed it while running. I've heard it can be beneficial to consume it during a race, and hope to experiment with it more in the future.

Want to learn more about my journey to my first marathon? Click here.
Have tips and tricks you use on race day? Would love to hear from you! Leave comments below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Journey to Race Day

Approximately twenty seconds before crossing the finish line on the field of Autozone Park.
Memphis, TN. ::: December 3, 2011
Photo Credit: Chris Coons

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction."
-William James

I am filled with glee to report my first marathon finish. Tackling a marathon was never something I thought was in my reach as a runner. After finishing my first half marathon in Cleveland this past May, my confidence grew. I began to think differently about my physical abilities and limitations. In July I nervously revealed to Chris my desire to join him in Memphis to run the marathon. A few weeks later we signed-up for the race, and I made out my training schedule.

Throughout my training I had serious doubts about completing the race. At the beginning, I had issues with my left IT band, and pain in the ball of my left foot. With the increase of my weekly mileage, failed workouts became common. My asthma and severe fall allergies interfered with scheduled runs. I would set out on a six mile run, only to return to my apartment after a mile and a half because I couldn't breathe.  With each roadblock, thoughts of quitting would arise. But as with most of life, I didn't want to go down without a fight.

I clung furiously to moments of joy and excitement that arose on my training journey. My speed increased on shorter runs, and my form radically improved. I began to understand my body's needs. I understood when it needed rest and when it needed to be pushed. I completed my three hardest weeks of training injury free and happy. Heck, I even began to really look forward to hitting the pavement three to five days each week. My body transformed. Muscles strengthened. Endurance improved.

Mentally, I felt a shift. Running was no longer just a way to stay in shape or find common ground among peers. It became the time in my day to find clarity. It became a metaphor. My approach to running mirrored my approach to life. Thus, I could see my strengths and weaknesses in and out of my running shoes more clearly.

Reflecting upon this weekend, I can confidently say participating in the 2011 St. Jude Memphis Marathon proved to be an amazing experience. I can also confidently say, the race journey not race day changed me the most.

Over the next week I will focus on allowing my body to heal. Yoga, warm showers, a pedicure, hydration, lots of sleep, and good food will all be a part of my recovery. Then, I will lace up my shoes again and define where my feet will take me next.

I am filled with glee to report my first marathon finish. I am filled with glee to report that it won't be my last.


{More race day photos and reflections, as well as a peek into my adventures in Memphis to come! So be sure to check Underlined and Bold for further updates this week!} 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Marathon Finish!

Finished my first Marathon yesterday!
4hrs. 42mins. 32secs.

Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout my marathon journey! More details and thoughts on the experience later this week.

For now, I'm headed out to explore more of Memphis!
Hope you had a fantastic weekend.
Happy Sunday everyone!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Memphis Bound!

Chris & I had an unforeseen delay this morning. But all is well now. We are loading up our rental and hitting the road. The big marathon day is just two days away!! Memphis here we come!!

I absolutely hate packing. This smile only comes after checking and rechecking my list to
make sure I had everything I may need.

I will be M.I.A. on Underlined and Bold for a few days while traveling. But I will try my best to keep everyone posted on the marathon.

Thanks for all the support over the last few months.

Peace & Love,

Gratitude "that we are here"

yesterday i expressed gratitude. gratitude for holiday cheer. gratitude for the life i am blessed to live.
 below is a poem by Philip Booth. as the November days rolled by, i read it over & over. each time feeling more grateful than the last. read. savor. enjoy!

after George Oppen
by Philip Booth

That we are here: that we can question who
we are, where; that we relate to how deer

once small have grown bold in our back garden;
that we can ask, ask even ourselves, how

to the other we may appear, here in the always near place
we seem to ourselves to inhabit, who sleep toward

and wake from steeped hills, the sea opening into our eyes
the infinite possibility of infinity

we believe we're neither beyond nor shy of,
here as we are, without doubt, amid then, there,

and now, falling through dark into light, and back,
against which we cannot defend, wish as we might, as we do,

Still, the physicist said, the mystery is
that we are here, here at all, still bearing with,

and borne by, all we try to make sense of:
this evening two does and a fawn who browse

the head lettuce we once thought was ours.
But no. As we chase them off mildly, and make

and odd salad of what they left us, the old stars
come casually out, and we see near and far we own nothing:

it's us belong to all else; who, given this day,
are touched by, and touch, our tenderest knowing,

our lives incalculably dear as we feel for each other,
our skin no more or less thin than that of redwing,

rainbow, star-nose, or whitethroat, enfolded like us
in the valleys and waves of this irrefutable planet.

I would love to know your thoughts on Booth's poem! Please leave comments below!
Want to read another poem I love? Click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

i love this time of year

The holiday season is in full gear.  Thanksgiving leftovers are devoured from fridges across the country. Christmas trees are decorated with tinsel and lights. Menorah's are placed on mantels. Resolutions of 2011 are evaluated for the creation of a new 2012 list. 

i love this time of year!

It's a time of hope and light. It's a time for the first dusting of snow. It's a time when heavy blankets are piled on my bed {making it harder to get up from the warmth  & comfort in the morning}. It's a time of hot chocolate, Home Alone, and Charlie Brown Christmas. It's a time for family. It's a time for friends. It's a time of late night evenings with red wine and spiked egg nog.

{did i mention, i love this time of year?}

i feel immensely grateful to lead the life i am.  A life of creature comforts. Loving faces. Travels and exploration. A life of dreams realized. A life of possibilities yet unknown.

Cheers & blessings to all this holiday season.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Judgement, Laughter, Gratitude

Laughter is truly the best medicine!
Photo Credit: Marcus Bernales (Creative Commons)

Picks to Ponder:
A weekly post featuring a few notable items I've found to be thought provoking, and/or a positive influence on my outlook on life. 
{Click here to see where it all started.}

"We condemn in others what we are afraid to see in ourselves."
-Deepak Chopra

On Judgement
I struggle with being judgmental.  I have condemed the materialistic behavior of others with fury and superiority, while watching this video of "Black Friday Mania". I have happily made fun of this pageant contestant without a second thought. And while riding Chicago buses and trains, I have found myself, one time too many, smirking and being dismissive of the behavior of other riders. 

I am not proud of this behavior. Thus, finding alternative view points and constructive ways of thinking about the world in which we live, is vital to my personal growth.

Below I've included some links that inspire me to move toward love and compassion, and beyond judgement. Enjoy!

On Laughter
It's basically an essential non-negotiable part of life. Here is what I've been laughing at this week:

On Gratitude
Most of my friends do not blog. And most of them lose interest as endless rambles fall from my lips concerning the beauty and inspiration I find among the blogging community. And as Thanksgiving came and went this year, blog posts were filled with candid moving thoughts of gratitude. Thus, I am sincerely grateful for all the amazing bloggers out there. You make me think, laugh, create, and grow.

Want to see some of my favorite blogs posts who helped me get into the Thanksgiving spirit? Click the links below!

  • Ashore {A lovely poetic Portland, Oregon blogger who truly has a way with words!}
  • the Flybird {Adorable couple, Spencer & Kylie, reveal why they are grateful to be alive via a wicked travel story! Love it!}
  • the Daily Muse {If you love animals, this link is for you. No Thanksgiving is complete without an amazingly cute dog video!}

I would love to read your thoughts on this weeks Picks to Ponder. 
Please leave comments & questions below, so we can discuss.

{Missed last weeks Picks to Ponder? Click here.}

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures in Baking {the Thanksgiving edition}

Photo Credit: DrBacchus (Creative Commons)

A few weeks ago, I was very adventurous. I did something I had never done before...

{drum roll please}

 I made pumpkin pie!

{@ 24 years old, I felt I was a bit behind on this endeavor}

 And instead of using the canned stuff, I made it from a real live pumpkin.  I am not a baking connoisseur, so the thought of using a real pumpkin was intimidating at first. But after scouring the internet and finding an easy straightforward recipe, my fear fell to the sidelines. And despite forgetting to buy a second can of evaporated milk to properly double the recipe, my baking adventure was quite successful.

Hope this recipe proves helpful for all your Turkey Day needs.

Cheers to having a gluttonous Thanksgiving!


One sugar pumpkin {this is a smaller pumpkin than the carving kind}
One recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie {substitute for your own pie crust recipe}
Two eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
One (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325-degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash, or puree in small batches in a blender.
Increase oven temperature to 450-degrees.
In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2-cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and evaporated milk. Stir well after each addition. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.
Bake ten minutes at 450-degrees, then reduce the oven temperature to 350-degrees. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Recipe adapted from Fitness and Freebies

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Marathon Must

Photo Credit: dawnzy58 (Creative Commons)

 Taper. Taper. Taper
{the last 2-3 week period before race day.}

training. you don't always push. you taper.
decrease mileage. kick up feet. relax. 
 eat protein. grains. fruit. drink water. drink Gatorade.

training. you don't always push. you taper.
 restless. nervous. worried less isn't more.
 run easy. run light. cross-training no-more.

training. you don't always push. you taper.
 press snooze. increase snuggle time in bed.
introduce nothing. the familiar is best.

training. you don't always push. you taper.
be positive patty. be calm. boost confidence.
remembering goals. remembering fun.

12 days til my big day in Memphis! 
{Holy Crap!}


Want to learn more about my marathon training? Click here.

Have advice concerning the tapering process? I would LOVE to hear from you!
Please leave comments below.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Picks to Ponder:
A weekly post featuring a few notable items I've found to be thought provoking, and/or a positive influence on my outlook on life. 
{Click here to see where it all started.}

On Relationships
This week I was honored to write a guest blog post on Story Wrought. My post addressed my decision to leave Alaska, and the importance of developing deep interpersonal relationships in my life.

The video below features world renowned yoga teacher John Friend discussing the impact deep long term relationships can have on our lives. His words echo my sentiments, and greatly inspires me.

On Lifestyle
The Shelby is a storytelling project created by Todd Shelby. The project works to share stories of creative interesting people {artists, writers, designers, etc.} through video and photographs. Below is a video featuring Rockaway Taco and its co-owener Andrew Field. Field's narrative is an example of living life unconventionally with great quality and meaning.

It is my hope, I can continually find ways to do the same.

{Note: The Shelby recently produced a video for Zara featuring Lucy Chadwick. The video has been quite popular among bloggers. Personally, I absolutely adore it and highly suggest checking it out.}

I would love to read your thoughts on this weeks Picks to Ponder. 
Please leave comments & questions below, so we can discuss.

{Missed last weeks Picks to Ponder? Click here.}

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Travel

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hudson
Ireland, 2011

As many of you know, I LOVE traveling! If you're in need of inspiration to purchase your next plane ticket, look no further. Today I am proud to feature a guest post by Elizabeth Hudson.  Elizabeth offers witty wonderful insights on travel through her latest trip to Ireland. 

Three weeks ago, I boarded a plane and landed on the west coast of Ireland, 6:25am local time. In the dark and rain of early morning, my companions and I managed to maneuver a little black Skoda along back country roads, hearts in our throats and white knuckles on the wheel as we stayed to the left of the center line.

There is nothing more unnatural than driving on what you have always thought of as the wrong side of the road.

We could have chosen safe and sound and less stressful alternatives: train, tour bus, an entire vacation in the city and its suburbs. But I didn’t want that. And I argued until both my companions agreed to a rental car [with full insurance, of course]. Even if it meant shifting gears with the left hand, learning to navigate sign posts in Irish, and driving on two-way roads scarcely wide enough for one car.

But it paid off.

Travel is nothing without risk. It’s about throwing off your own habits to embrace a culture vastly different from your own. It’s about learning to go about life differently.

The truest travel is not spent poolside at resorts but on the side streets, in the open markets, shoulder to shoulder with the locals.

And it changes you – for better and worse.

Let me explain . . .

The Good
Whether you find yourself in an advanced English-speaking city or the middle of nowhere in a developing country, sooner or later, you will be pushed from your comfort zone.

That’s the beauty of travel.

Though, it may hardly seem beautiful at the time.

In Blarney, we took a wrong turn out of the pub (too many pints, perhaps?) and found ourselves lost in a maze of dead ends and dark streets, with only the moon to light our way.

The beauty? That night we met the sweetest two women in the world. They refused to point us in the right direction, instead seeing us all the way back to our accommodation, lively stories and conversation along the way.

While waiting outside of a Galway store, an older gentleman, who spoke no English, only Irish, cornered me for half an hour, a conversation played out in hand gestures and an awkward moment where he wanted to touch my hair.

The jewel in this story? At the end of the half hour, the man’s [insanely] attractive [ginger] grandson met us on the street, blushing as he admitted his grandfather’s intentions: he thought his grandson needed an American girlfriend. I couldn’t have agreed more.

In Clifden, after checking into what seemed a pleasant B&B [on a poorly lit road], we realized too late that we had, in fact, checked into the Bates Motel, Norman Bates’ Irish doppelganger included. After a restless night and a few quick showers later, we moved on. Only then did one of my companions admit to waking up as someone had tried to get into the room around 3am. What she had sleepily attributed to a tipsy tourist at the wrong room, we suspected Norman of later.

The bright side? We checked out.

An adventure is never complete without a night of worrying whether you’ll make it to daylight. As I said, the best parts of travel are rarely planned.

The Bad
Traveling abroad helped me to realize one thing ever so clearly: as an American, you can never outrun the stereotype of the American.

As soon as we opened our mouths, our reputation preceded us.

We apologized for allowing both the Kennedy family and George W. Bush into politics.

We apologized for our extravagance, driving large cars and trucks and vans.

We apologized for our brash manner of living.

In every stereotype, there is a bit of truth, sometimes a great deal of truth. And when traveling to foreign locales, it’s important to remember the stereotypes of your culture, and it’s essential to travel with awareness. After all, we want to be the ones who prove the negative stereotypes wrong.

The Ugly
There is nothing uglier, nothing I tell you, than the post-travel blues.

Since I’ve been back on home soil, I’ve been unbearable, family and friends only too happy to point this out. And I know it.

Blame it on my personality, blame it on my age, but settling back into routine after the excitement of travel is akin to death. I assure you, there is no melodrama here.

Too often travelers are prepared only for the trip and not for the period that begins once the plane touches town and bags are unpacked. The period when you realize that your next vacation is a year [or more] off. 

The period when you realize you don’t know when the next trip will be.

I’ve spent the last few days in denial of being completely home, dreaming of another trip, a longer one, while my lap is full of MFA applications and my desk stained with coffee rings.

But there’s always the hope of plans going awry. And so far, 2012 is an awfully empty year.

Perfect for a little [or a lot] of travel.

Guest Blogger Bio:
Elizabeth Hudson is a freelance writer 
and professional dreamer in pursuit of 
professional author status. She speaks
with a slight twang, has no problem 
incorporating chocolate into breakfast,
 and will argue to the death that U2 is 
the single greatest band since the dawn
of creation. 

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her blog!

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