April 24, 2015

Whistling In The Dark Podcast

There's a podcast I've been listening to and I feel like you should know about it. It's called Whistling In The Dark. It's hosted by Shannon Fitzgerald, a television writer and producer (bio here). In this podcast, she celebrates women's successes, details the paths it took to get there, and is brazenly open about her experience with therapy. What's not to love?

The podcast is basically her interviewing her famous and semi-famous friends. But it's super interesting. The interview is never about fame, but about how they achieved their success. She's real into process, so she asks a lot of questions about how they structure their day, how they remain creative while running a business, how they started out and what their day-to-day challenges are. I love it!

I recently listened to the episode with Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, the co-founders and CEO's of Who What Wear. I can't remember if she posed this question to Hillary or Katherine, but she asked how they structure their work day. Whichever one answered, said that she's most creative in the morning, so as she's waking up and drinking coffee, she basically reads the internet, which is where she gets a lot of her inspiration. Then she, you know, takes a shower and runs her company, all the while, her creative brain is marinating in everything she took in that morning. Later, in the afternoon, when everything is taken care of, she sits down to write, and all of that inspiration from the morning, her brain has digested and turned into ideas.

This speaks to me because I've been having trouble structuring my day now that I work from home. I'm also creative in the morning, but I tend to burn through all my energy before 10am and then I'm useless in the afternoon. So I've been using my mornings for inspiration and my afternoons for writing. It works!

Listen to this episode. They talk about all these other things, too, like how everyone told them they were crazy when they left their magazine jobs to start a website, that no one, especially women, were doing at the time. They also list their favorite beauty products, which, hello!

Another thing I appreciate about Shannon, the host, is how much she loves therapy. She even has two episodes with her therapist, and they are amazing!

Okay, the whole reason I wrote this post is to tell you about the episode where she interviews two of the writers from Friends. It's probably my favorite episode. It's a fascinating look into how television shows are written, or at least, how they used to be. And of course, they have all these hilarious, behind-the-scenes stories about celebrity guests, etc. As someone who works in two to three Friends references a day, this touched me on a spiritual level.

Side bar: After listening to this episode, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Showrunners, which is what television writers are called now. I highly recommend it.

If you're a podcast person, which aren't we all? Download some of these Whistling In The Dark episodes. I think you'll enjoy them. Like anything, she gets better as she goes along, so some of the early ones are long and a little unstructured, but I still like them. Here are my favs.

Episode 15: The CEO's of Who What Wear/Clique Media Empire
Episode 13: "Friends" 20th Anniversary Edition
Episode 11: Karen the Therapist
Episode 10: Ann Shoket
Episode 8: Mario Melchiot
Episode 6: Cynthia Rowley
Episode 4: Lesley Arfin
Episode 1: Dan Savage

Happy listening!

April 17, 2015

Birchbox Review: February

My February Birchbox was about 50/50 on meh vs. yay. Here's what I got.

BeeKind Shampoo, $16

Meh. This is a fine shampoo. I liked the scent and it made my hair soft, but it didn't knock my socks off. If you're into chemical-free shampoo and environmentally friendly packaging, give this a try.

Benefit Posiebalm, $18

Yay! I love a tinted lip balm and this one is great. It's moisturizing and the sheer pink shade looks natural on me. I've been wearing a bright matte orange lipstick lately, which dries my lips out, and I've been using this Posiebalm instead of my Kiehl's lip balm because the Kiehl's smears my lipstick, but the Posiebalm moisturizes and keeps my lipstick in place. I mean, a tinted lip balm is a tinted lip balm, but I like this one.

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner, $11

Yay! I love this little guy. I don't change my eyeliner very much, but I've gotten so many compliments since I switched to this Mansha-Plum color (I have green eyes). I quit using eyeliner pencils years ago because they're just terrible. But not this one! It's 100% non-stabby and it blends really well. It also stays on all day, which is something because I'm in the midst of terrible allergies and this shizz doesn't move, run or smear. I'm real into it.

Marcelle Gentle Make-up Remover for Sensitive Eyes, $15

Yay! I was kind of annoyed when I saw this in my box, but I dutifully tried it, and guys, it's the best eye make-up remover I've used. I didn't realize how much my current Neutrogena irritates my eye zone until I switched to this. No more redness or irritation! In addition to taking off your eye make-up, it also "diminishes dark circles and undereye puffiness". I don't know about all that, but my eyes do feel soft after using it. It seems a little precious to spend $15 on eye make-up remover, but I want it.

Miss Jessie's Original Super Sweetback Treatment, $14

Meh. I love the Miss Jessie's packaging, but I don't like their scents. Plus, they sell it at Target now, so it seems less special to receive it in my Birchbox. I've used this twice, but it's not as moisturizing as the amika mask I like. Plus, I just can't do this scent. Sorry, Miss Jessie's.

April 13, 2015

Race Recap: Oak Barrel Half Marathon 2015

Last Saturday, I ran the Oak Barrel Half Marathon for the third year in a row. I didn't exactly train for this race, at least not in terms of how I usually train. I missed weeks of runs due to weather, so I just did what I could and hoped for the best.

Some quick stats. I PR-ed at my last half marathon, the Mt. Juliet Holiday Half in December, with a finish time of 2:22. I knew I wouldn't beat that time, but I was pretty sure I would beat my previous two Oak Barrel times of 2:34 and 2:50.

There were a bunch of us at this race, including Melanie, who I ran the Mt. Juliet Half with. Right before we started, Melanie said she was going to take it easy and run an 11:30 pace. I said that sounded good and that I'd run with her. And then we were off!

Mile 1 - 10:48
Mile 2 - 10:49
Mile 3 - 11:02

When we hit Mile 1, I told Melanie we were a little fast, but the pace felt comfortable, so we kept it up. Somewhere around Mile 3, we started going uphill and Melanie dropped me. At this point, I came up with a race plan. I decided to walk the big hills, run the first half of the race conservatively, and run the last half fast.

Mile 4 - 11:05
Mile 5 - 13:38
Mile 6 - 11:20

Oh, Whiskey Hill, you son of a bitch. The reason this race is so hard is because of the 1-mile hill that goes up to the top of a ridge line. The elevation is 1,127 feet. That's a big hill, guys. Every year, there is debate about running vs. walking. The argument for walking is A) it is unrunable, unless you're a mountain goat, and B) you can walk it as fast as you'll run it, so save your energy. The argument for running is - you don't walk during races.

I walked it.

Mile 7 - 12:04
Mile 8 - 11:29
Mile 9 - 11:01

The mean thing about Whiskey Hill is as soon as you get to the top, you have to run up another hill. It's rude. I walked that hill, too. Eff it. Also, not for nothing, but when I fell last year, I fell in-between miles 7 and 8, and I swear it's because I ran all those hills and blew my knees out. Not this year! You're welcome, knees.

Mile 10 - 10:43
Mile 11 - 10:16
Mile 12 - 11:38

Yay, downhill! I started picking up my pace somewhere between miles 8 and 9 and continued getting faster as the course flattened out and eventually became a downhill sprint. I love the end of this race. I also got chased by the Wicked Witch of the West at the last water stop, which cracked me up and gave me the final push I needed to finish strong. Thanks, Witch!

Mile 13 - 10:54
Finish time - 2:28:23

I cannot believe I finished in under 2:30. I easily walked 10 minutes of this race. If I had known, or cared, I probably could have beaten my PR of 2:22. WHATEVER. In 2013, I ran this race at 192 lbs and finished at 2:50. Last year, I ran at 175 lbs and finished at 2:34. This year, I ran at 161 lbs and finished at 2:28. So yeah, I'm okay with this year's time.

L to R: 2013, 2014, 2015

Hold on to your hats, because I'm about to go full-Oprah.

So here are things that happened to me for the first time during this race: I had fun, I had zero knee pain, my knees didn't give out, my shoulder-neck-collarbone zone didn't hurt, and I made a couple of new friends along the course, namely a heavily tattooed man I called 'Stripes'. This was my seventh half marathon and it's the first one I've enjoyed, and by that I mean, I didn't spend any part of the race in excruciating pain and/or telling myself I'm not doing anymore of these races.

At the Music City Tri last summer, I put a lot on pressure on myself about my finish time, because it was going to play a big role in estimating my 70.3 finish time for Augusta. I was so worked up, I was almost sick, and right before the swim start, my friend Sarah Shearer basically told me to chill the eff out and just have fun.

At the time, I had no idea how to do that. I was so scared that if I was having fun, then I wasn't taking it seriously. And if I wasn't taking it seriously, then why in the hell was I doing it? I had some real talk with my therapist and realized that I am never in danger of not taking something seriously, so I might as well have fun. It took me eight months to get here, but I think I'm finally here. Raise the roof for therapy, y'all!

Full photostream here.

March 30, 2015

A Love Letter To Instagram

Are you on Instagram? No? Well, you should be! It's my favorite form of social media. In contrast to the Facebook prison world we all live in, Instagram is a private island where you decide what you want to bring with you. Don't want to bring your crazy Great Uncle to the island, don't bring him! Don't want to bring your high school friend and her never-ending stream of baby pictures, you don't have to!

There are no rules on Instagram. Unlike Facebook friend requests, you can't solicit follows on Instagram. Follow who you want; like what you want. That instant validation that's so easy to get on Facebook, isn't so easy on Instagram. If no one likes your post, it doesn't mean no one likes you, it just means your picture didn't tell enough of a story. Try harder!

Instagram is a place for creativity, entertainment and fun. Instagram is so fun! The trick is to find the right balance of people to follow. I follow all of my friends, probably every celebrity that exists, that isn't private, I'm looking at you, DA24HRS, and a mixed bag of things that make me laugh. Here a few of my favorite Instagram accounts.

I'll start with The Rock, because duh, but also because he's the king of Instagram videos. The best thing that can happen to me on a given day is The Rock posting a video of himself having a conversation with an elliptical machine named Bertha, which luckily, he does on the reg.

This account is new to me. I don't even remember how I found it, but LOL Kanye Doing Things. It's cut-outs of Kanye's head held over a picture of someone doing something really pedestrian, like sitting at a bus stop. I can't stop (won't stop).

Amy Sedaris' Instagram is pure lunacy. I bet if you looked at all the posts I've liked, a great majority of them are from Amy Sedaris. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's real good.

There is some connection between Todd Oldham and Amy Sedaris that I'm too lazy to research. Most of her pics are taken by him and most of his pics are of her. Maybe they're besties? I don't know. But I follow both of them. Their feeds have a similar feel. Also, apparently Todd just released a line of crafts at Target that I'm interested in.

Lyle Reimer is one of my first Instagram loves. I've been with him since the beginning. The creativity and artistry that go into his posts blow me away. I can't imagine how long it takes him to do this. Bonus: his captions are hilarious, and no one does hashtags like he does.

Saint Records is Solange Knowles, and her Instagram game is on point. She's gorgeous, high fashion, and in most of her pictures, which I like.

In the same vein as Solange is Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear. Ed and Solange are friends and show up in each other's posts from time to time. I'm a Grizzly Bear fan, which helps, but Ed travels a lot and takes great pictures. He's also how I keep up with current vernacular of America's youth.

Speaking of travel, brilliantly, the US Dept of the Interior is on Instagram. And they're doing it right. I think I "like" every picture they post. They recently posted a video of two bears catching fish in a stream that I watched for 5 minutes.

If you're on Instagram, you already know about this, but Fashion Dads is hilarious. It's basically a parody of the infamous OOTD (outfit of the day) post. They post a pic and in great detail, tell you what's he wearing and where he bought it. It will run its course, but every time one of these shows up in my feed, I chuckle.

I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about this one because it's so January 2015, but it's still one of my favorite Instagram feeds. It started as a play on the annoying "Omg, I literally can't even" phrase that I'm just going to go ahead and blame on Rachel Zoe. But they took it further by creating an account based on a skeleton, who is a skeleton because 'Omg, she couldn't even; she's literally dead'. It's genius and I fully expect this to go to development to become a sitcom. Fingers crossed!

Last one, Thrift Store Art. If I have to explain why I like this, you don't know me.

A good way to find new Instagram users is to click on the profiles of people you like, or think are funny, and scroll through who they're following. I find a lot of new users this way. I also follow a lot of companies, and by companies, I mean stores, magazines, bloggers, websites, chefs, bands, etc.

For my Nashville readers, there are a ton of local businesses on Instagram:

Billy Reid Nashville
White's Mercantile
Pony Show Nashville
Vinnie Louise
Dino's Restaurant
Red Kite Bikes
Hattie B's
3st of the Month
Belcourt Theatre
Eli Suzann
Noble Springs Dairy
Biscuit Love Nashville
Good Wood Nashville
Hail Nashville
Mas Tacos
Riffs Fine Street Food
H. Sean Brock
Holler Design
Hey Rooster General Store
Husk Nashville
Third Man Records
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
The Peach Truck
Otaku South
PR Butcher
Yeast Nashville
Parnassus Books
Barista Parlor
Ryman Auditorium
Imogene + Willie
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Rolf and Daughters

Now, go forth and 'Gram!

March 23, 2015

How To Only Wash Your Hair Once A Week

It started innocently enough. I clicked an article on Pinterest titled, 6 Mistakes You're Making When You Wash Your Hair. Then that led me to this article on Bustle where they list step number one as, stop washing your hair. Yes... Tell me more.

I haven't cut my hair since February of 2014, it's color-treated, and I swim. So yeah, you could say my hair is dry, which makes me an ideal candidate for dreadlocks not washing my hair. I'm on my third week of only washing my hair once a week and I swear, my hair is healthier.

Here's how I'm making one wash a week last. I swim on Mondays, so that's when I wash my hair. My hair looks nice and normal Monday-Wednesday. On Thursday, I'll wash my bangs, which tricks the casual observer into thinking my hair is clean. Nope, just my bangs. I may use a little dry shampoo if needed. On Friday, I get in the shower and rinse my hair (no shampoo) and put conditioner on the ends, then reapply product and style as usual. It looks like brand new hair! For a day. Shit starts to get real on Saturday. I have to either amp up the dry shampoo or do another rinse cycle. Oddly, my best hair of the week is Saturday night. Sunday is rough, but no one sees me, so I just embrace my inner dirty hippy and go with it.

Tricks of the trade: buns, dry shampoo and not touching your hair. If you're a hair twirler/stroker, you're going to have to sit on your hands, especially towards the end of the week. You can't touch hair that hasn't been washed in 5-6 days.

The one day a week I wash my hair, I also deep condition it. I use this. And I use this if I rinse later in the week. I've also stopped combing through my hair when I get out of the shower. Instead, I took the advice in the article and comb through it in the shower while it's wet and then leave it alone.

I'm using two different dry shampoos right now, Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo and Dove Dry Shampoo. I bought the fancy Amika because it smells so good, but I'm kind of hooked on the $4 Dove. Next in line is Suave Keratin Infused Dry Shampoo, which everyone on Instagram raves about. Target was out of it, so I'm still on the hunt.

Questions? Concerns? I feel like you are going to have a lot of concerns about me only washing my hair once a week. And to you I say, don't hate the player, hate the game.

March 14, 2015

Birchbox Review: January

The Birchbox game was pretty on point in January. It may not look like much, but these little samples delivered. Here's what I got.

Manna Kadar Lip Locked - All of Me, $24

Once I figured out how open this, which took a surprisingly long time, I fell in love. Contrary to the almost nude color of the cap, the actual gloss is a deep berry color. But spring berry, not fall berry. It's peppy. It doesn't stay on "all day" as advertised, but it stays on plenty long for a gloss, and a heavy pigmented gloss at that. I love this. I'm buying it. I'm interested in the brighter colors, too, Siren and Manna Babe.

Curl Keeper Gel, $17.50

I was initially aggravated at this because it looked cheap and dumb, but this shizz is legit. I applied it wet and then dried my hair with a diffuser. It really did keep my curls from frizzing. My hair was super curly and bouncy, in a good way. If you have curly hair, I recommend trying this. I tend to wear my hair more wavy than curly, but this makes me want to wear my hair curly more.

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+, $39

I feel like every time I turn around, I'm getting another Dr. Jart BB cream sample, but I don't care because they're all so good! I haven't bought one yet because I get so many samples, plus I have a full-size bottle of Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. If I ever run out, it'll be hard to decide between Laura Mercier and Dr. Jart. These BB creams have more coverage than my tinted moisturizer, and they feel good on my face, which I like. To be continued!

Harvey Prince Hello Liquid Loofah, $22

So this "liquid loofah" is supposed to be used sans loofah. The directions say to smooth directly onto damp skin, work into a lather, and rinse away. Who touches their own body? I'm not washing my body with my hands. Gross! I squeezed this onto a loofah and commenced scrubbing a couple layers of epidermis away and it worked great - very moisturizing. I love the scent of everything in this product line. I'm not buying this because I don't need a $22 body wash, but I like it.

Essential Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion, $19

I got the body wash version of this recently and loved it, so I was excited to see this little bottle in my box. It's almost impossible to use as body lotion because of the sample container, so I'm using it as hand lotion. I've been putting it on when I get into bed at night, which is in direct conflict with the "wake up" product description. Whatever, it's a nice, relaxing scent for me, and I like it when I'm powering down for the night. The scent is really strong, but I'm fine with that. It's not as moisturizing as a legit hand cream, but it's moisturizing. I like it.

March 9, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Weekly Goals Edition

I'm not feeling these Weekend Wrap Up posts anymore. So instead of telling you what I did this weekend, how about I share what I wrote for my to do list this week? Last year, I bought my first Erin Condren life planner and used it to track my Ironman 70.3 Augusta training. I bought my second one this year to track what I thought was going to be another year of Ironman 70.3 training. Turns out, not so much. The first page of every week has a section for goals and notes. Here's what I wrote this morning.

Weekly Goals and Notes:

quit 70.3 training

eat out less

drink more

think about new fitness goals
-hire trainer?
-become yoga instructor?
-join a gym?

I also spent an hour making sure I own all the right Nicki Minaj songs. Why didn't anyone tell me she is an amazing, hilarious, filthy rapper? It's like no one knows me at all. In related news, I also bought the entire back catalogue of Drake, Beyonce and Katy Perry. I was missing a lot of Beyonce albums, y'all. THANK GOD that's taken care of. John's torn between continued disgust in my taste in music and pride in that I paid for something on the internet.

If you want more weekend activity, find me on Instagram and Twitter. Related, why aren't more of you on Twitter? I need more people to follow than Kim Kardashian.


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