Pairings Retreat: From Dream to Reality

One day, shortly after the beginning of the new year, my friend Cristina from Your Personal Producer and I were on G-chat as we normally are, sharing our dreams for 2018. She was in a funk and I was in a post-Paris high! 2017 had seen some serious ups and downs for both of us and we didn’t want 2018 to end up being the same old song and dance. You know…dream big at the beginning of the year, start off strong and lose it somewhere around mid-April.

In a moment of honesty, she blurted out: (paraphrasing) “I wish I could just get away. Go on a retreat and get my thoughts in order for 2018.”

And I said “Let’s do that!”

The funny thing is, it’s usually me who dreams beyond my reach and usually she steps in to tell me: “That’s possible.” But on this day our roles were reversed and soon our dreaming turned into a game plan!

She threw out a concept, I took it and threw things back at her and an actionable plan formed not only in our minds and on our proverbial cocktail napkins, but also on a shared Google Drive folder that would soon become an actionable itinerary for the retreat of our dreams.

Pairings Retreat

We started off with the dream of a beachy, intimate retreat filled with instagrammable drinks paired with vision board creations. Photo sessions paired with content calendars. Adorable products from bakeries like P is for Pie and brands like band.o to inspire our own creative juices. It all came together like the stories you hear of visionaries in restaurants spit balling ideas and then…one day, we have Twitter. Or in a parent’s garage and all of a sudden…Apple is born.

In fact, Cristina and I have this thing that happens to us when we really get going on an idea on G-chat. One of us will type out an idea and hit send only to find the other person has thought of almost the exact same thing as well. Leading to a lot of “GET OUT OF MY HEAD” and “HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?”

In moments like these, we are so like-minded that our dreams and visions become transcendent. Like somehow God is planting ideas in both our heads and because He had the good sense to make us friends, He’s smiling at His handiwork when we, humble creations that we are, realize how our ideas fit together just as they are meant to!

So fast forward through all of our pre-planning and big dreaming to the retreat itself.

Road Trip Reunion:

Cristina flew in early Tuesday morning. We didn’t want to skip a beat or miss precious time enacting our respective visions. I grocery shopped and product sourced ahead of time with a handy shared shopping list on the G-Drive (the thing that helps us get all things done.)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger by Cristina and Liz

The drive to Madeira Beach is about 2 hours from Orlando, so we had plenty of time to get our thoughts in order and make some plans ahead of our scheduled time of making plans. Plus, we had a chance to get important friend catch-up time in there as well, which is vital to a partnership like ours! We strive very hard to strike a balance between best friends forever and business partners. And that comes with equal helpings of dream casting and venting about elements of our everyday life.

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Werk Werk Werk:

Once we reached our destination, we were in for a penny, in for a pound. We wasted no time unpacking the car, setting up our rooms and our work spaces, making our first round of drinks and getting our hair into sensible work pony-tails. We had a quick lunch on the beach of Publix subs, because Publix subs are the be all and end all of sandwiches for any home grown Florida girl (and we both are!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Next, we set about our goal setting. With the help of some materials Cristina brought along, we began to ask really tough questions about our goals. What we wanted to achieve in life? What was stopping us? What did we allow in our lives that caused road blocks we may not even be aware of yet? What emotional juggernauts did we each have to work on and overcome in the coming year to make space for big dreams? So…no big deal. Just the extremely big, life-altering questions of the every day life, right?

Visionaries:

Following that, we set to the task of vision boarding. Cristina’s board was and all-encompassing snap shot of the life she wants to create for herself. A sensible 11×17″ format that would fit nicely in her carry on and be easy to take home with her.

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My vision board…well, you know I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Mine turned into more of what I like to call, a vision journal. Each page representing a different aspect of my personality that I wanted to highlight or work on or change altogether.  (more to come on vision journaling!)

Sunsets are Non-negotiable:

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After getting a whole lot of WERK done, we made a rule about Pairings Retreat…Sunsets are non-negotiable!! So we walked out to the beach (which was mere steps away from the front door of our beach cottage) and watched as the day sank into nighttime. Sunsets are the best way to end a day, IMHO. They remind you that there is beauty waiting at the end of whatever you just went through. And they reminded us to consider that the world has so much to offer.

Winner, Winner, Pesto Dinner:

When pairing up with a Forever Friend and future business partner, it’s nice to combine skills. Some of which I have, some of which she has and some of which we share. But making a delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta for dinner…that’s all Cristina!

Throughout our day we were cognizant of the moments when we wanted to hunker down and get through our list, as well as making room for moments when we needed a little R&R to refresh us for the hard stuff. Pairings Retreat quickly became about so much more than scheduling blog posts and creating actionable plans for our future. It was only the end of day one and already we both had the feeling that we had stumbled upon something really special.

Second Verse, Better than the First:

We awoke at a reasonable hour in the morning on Day 2. Actually, I got up a little earlier to go sit on the beach and watch the day break. Breakfast was mimosas and bagels from Brooklyn Water Bagel, a local place in Winter Park and a favorite place of mine (shop small!!!)

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We analyzed our schedule for the day over breakfast and made some adjustments. We wanted to have more time for photo sessions and wanted to take advantage of the weather in the morning. Being flexible in the midst of a set schedule became really important for us. We had things to accomplish, but we also wanted to be free to move with the day as we needed to.

Snap My Picture:

Cristina has gotten very good at taking my picture. From our days of working on my web series in New York to her constantly being my photographer for fitness series and fashion posts. Me…I’m not as good at it. But this was a chance to stretch myself. I’m usually the one in front of the camera, because I like to be there. She’s usually behind it, for the same reason. But Pairings Retreat is about challenging yourself. Creating what you need. And learning that the walls you have to climb are only as tall as you let them be. Learn to climb and you don’t have a wall problem anymore, do you!

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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler
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Photo by Cristina Fowler (she really is good at this game!)

Working Lunch:

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We continued to bump things around and change our schedule as our needs dictated for the day. Lunch became a working lunch. We put the finishing touches on our vision boards and started in on our writing session. Whatever that meant for each of us. We are both bloggers, but I took that time to continue filing out my questionnaire about my future, which became addictive and illuminating. I didn’t realize some of the things that were coming up in my answers and it allowed me a perspective on my future that I had not considered yet.

Treat Yourself:

Who among us isn’t energized by a treat? The mere mention of a cupcake in the vicinity and I perk right up! Prior to the trip, I had procured a couple special treats for us. Pies from P is for Pie, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and extra large Hershey’s chocolate bars for each of us (milk chocolate for Cristina and dark chocolate for me.) We had a drink pairing for each portion of our day and delectable meals lined up around every corner.

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

We didn’t over eat. We didn’t get drunk or binge on sweets to the point of sugar comas, but we did enjoyed our time together to the fullest and took time to treat ourselves as we worked hard and got our check lists done! This is now a founding principle of Pairings Retreat. TREAT YOURSELF!!

Bring Me that Horizon:

As I  mentioned before…sunsets are non-negotiable at Pairings and we took the chance to get another photo session in before the sun took it’s bow for our last night on retreat.

On the Town:

To add a big, shiny bow to our fabulous and very productive 2-day retreat, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We couldn’t believe we had only started the morning before. We had gotten so much done!

There’s something about fresh seafood on the porch of a beach town restaurant that is especially rejuvenating. We had more fruity drinks and more delicious desserts. And we talked about how we wanted to expand our idea for Pairings. What if we offered this experience to more bloggers who were looking for what we had found here?

To the Future:

It’s funny. After a certain age, things like camp and sleep overs and getaways become hard to come by because of life circumstance or frowned upon because of age. 30-something women don’t have slumber parties anymore. Adults don’t go away to sleep over camp. We grown-ups have it all figured out, after all. But I call shenanigans!!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for blogger Cristina and Lizzie

We need to get away sometimes. We need to recharge our batteries away from the people who spend the most time using our batteries up. We need time with other creatives to spark our own adventures and dreams. That is exactly what Pairings became for us.

And even better, that is what Pairings can be for you too!!

If that sounds like just what you’re looking for, then…Stay tuned!

Pairings Retreat - a creative retreat for bloggers by Cristina and Lizzie

Paradise Found

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl surrounded by her bestest of friends is the happiest of people. UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED. And I’m not talking about your run of the mill acquaintance here…I’m talking deep, unfailing friendship.20170224_140811.jpg

The kind of friends that tell you “Those shorts do not work with your ass.” They tell you “No, no, no the bangs look great with your face, you’re overthinking it.” They tell you “He is not worth your tears, girl. Save ’em for a better man!”

These are the friends that will stand the test of time. When other friends fade away…they will remain. I am blessed to have a handful of these “Forever Friends.” And last month I got to spend a weekend in Miami with two such gemstones. Check it out…

Ladies' Weekend 2017

There were a lot of options going into Ladies Weekend 2017. Last year (Ladies Weekend 2016) we ended up in sunny Orlando, Florida. Home of the happiest place on Earth, Hogwarts and yours truly. And we had a blast, check it out. So…the bar was pretty high. We waffled between New Orleans, Las Vegas, Mexico and even Paris made an appearance as a viable option, given that flights were only $400 round trip when we were looking. But in the end we decided to hit up Cristina’s home town…Miami! Another sunny vacation…not too shabby.Miami Florida Diplomat Beach Resort travels

I’ve mentioned this to you before, blog readers, but I am a summer girl!! 100%. All the way! The thought of spending a vacation anywhere where the temperature might drop below 75…no thank you! (Talk to me next year when we hit London for Ladies Weekend 2018.)

Cristina is the planner of the group. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love planning too, but we are very different sort of planners and this was her hometown, so the agenda was all hers with some input from Erin and I. But it’s best to visit a town with a local. You can see all the cool spots you might miss if you are doing the tourist thing. So Cristina hooked us up with a home cooked meal at her childhood home. (Dad makes a mean sangria!!)

We also hit Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and of course… SOUTH BEACH!! Erin’s mother-in-law got us a SICK deal on a casita (way better than a cabana) at The Diplomat and let me tell you something, we felt like Queens! We had a personal server and about 5 other employees that made the rounds to check on us throughout the day (Thanks Leo, Cassandra, Jeff, Josh and Danny!) We ordered drinks and fancy lunch and swam and laid in the sun. This is the best way to spend any day, I am convinced. And a day spent like this in the presence of beautiful friends…well that’s where the Paradise Found part comes in!!

Yeah…we did a bunch of other stuff. We went to Cristina’s home church on Sunday. We did little photo shoots for an upcoming blog project I have in the works. We made a pilgrimage to Instagram mecca, aka Wynwood Walls. We ate ALL THE FOOD!! We even tried to hit up South Beach’s night life, but the weekend proved too strong for our dance moves and we tuckered out at around 11:45pm and hit the hay instead of the dance floor. (Don’t even think of calling us old…the sun took it out of us! I blame the sun!)

Wynwood Walls Miami Florida travels blogger

All in all, there were so many things that made it a perfect weekend, but the thing that will stay with me is hanging with my squad for a full 3 days. We each live in a different state these days and quality time is hard to come by. We do our best with phone calls, Google Chat, texting, Snapchat (life saver), Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But who are we kidding…it’s never going to be enough. Our lives have us moving in circles far from the ones we moved in when we lived in New York together and tore the town upside down whenever possible.

Does our current reality diminish what was? Of course not. I think it just serves to make those shining moments of “togetherness time” shine a little bit brighter and causes us to hold onto the new moments we create a little big tighter.20170226_131405.jpg

See you in London next February, my beautiful friends!!

Unrealistic Friendspecations

Unrealistic Expectations from Friends TV show blog nerd

As a single, 30-something who was living in New York until a short time ago, I relate to the beloved TV show, Friends, on so many levels. Too many to count. There is no show that means so much to me and has influenced my life the way Friends has (with Seinfeld coming in at a close second.)

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I didn’t watch Friends when it first aired in 1994. I was only 12 and my parents did not find it appropriate viewing material for a 12 year old girl. They were right, of course. But that didn’t keep me from wanting to watch it and it certainly didn’t keep me from tuning in the minute I was old enough and watching it till it ended in 2004, when I was a junior in college.

Looking back, I now know that it played a huge part in my eventual move to the big city. The entire first year I lived in New York felt like a dream, like I was in an episode of Friends. I’d see a street sign or a coffee shop and dream of Central Perk and the 6 most quotable characters in the history of TV. Tell me you don’t say this in Chandler’s voice when you read it “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?” Well, Joey doing Chandler’s voice, but I’ll bet you knew that too.

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As much as Friends will always have that place in my heart and that finale will continue to make me cry even after I’ve seen it dozens of times, I do think that Monica, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe and Rachel created some unprecedented expectations of what friendship could look like, but usually doesn’t. Where most shows up to that point (again, besides Seinfeld) were about family units or couples getting together, Friends was something altogether different. A set of 6 inseparable Friends who created a family away from family. They did everything together and remained connected for 10+ years (we know they are still together in TV land somewhere.)

Think of all the Christmases and Thanksgivings they spent, not with their nuclear families, but with each other. Think of their trips to Vegas, Barbados and London. The jobs that were forgotten the minute something came up. The family that was forgotten in lieu of the family unit that was created in New York City. Shared life stage and values bonded them in a way that has just never been seen since Friends left the small screen. How I Met Your Mother touches on those element and at times feels similar, but it doesn’t manage to touch the level of nostalgia and love that people (and I) have for Friends.

At the same time, what was created between the 6 of them is as unattainable in real life as a Ross and Rachel friendlationship is. People don’t drop everything to go to Barbados with you, much less for a work conference they have no interest in. You’d be lucky to have one or two good friends show up at your destination wedding, much less the whole pack (minus a pregnant Phoebe.)

I can’t even get some of my friends on Skype most days, much less entice them away from their families, their jobs and their lives to come play with me at Disney. It’s less a complaint and more a realization that real life is just that much harder sometimes, than an episode of Friends (realization may be a little strong.)

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I miss what I found in New York and the brief moment that I grasped onto what it was like to have capital F, Friends. A group of people who were pursuing things the way I was. People who were bonded together in the face of a strange, transient city like New York.

Sure, we didn’t drop everything for each other, every single day. And because New York is so expensive, we all really did have to work most of the time, making it very difficult impossible to sit around in a coffee shop all day, talking about relationships and about our feelings. It just didn’t happen. That’s a beautiful dream that only can live in TV land.

But I think that’s what made Friends so popular and such a strong show with staying power. That kind of Friendship is what we all hope to find. The kind that can last 10+ years and weather being on a break and children and marriages and stuff. When you find that kind of capital F, Friend…hold onto them and never let them go!!

And now…my favorite Friend, Chandler:

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The Road to Civil War

Marvel Cinematic Universe Entertainment Civil War #TeamCap blog

Marvel Cinematic Universe Entertainment Civil War #TeamCap blog

We are on the verge of Civil War…no, not the North vs. South kind…no, not the Dems vs. GOP kind. The Marvel-ous kind!! The #TeamCap vs. #TeamIronMan kind!! The kind that will have grown men and women crying in the aisles come Thursday, May 5th (for the early birds) and Friday, May 6th for the rest of the viewing public.

There are those who have already laid eyes on this highly anticipated entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the word is GOOOOOOOD!!!

So get ready for it…if you can. You’ll probably need lots and lots of tissues. Marvel has probably purchased stock in Kleenex cause they know we’re gonna need them!

To prepare for this journey I am watching the entire MCU in order starting today, Wednesday, April 27th and going all the way till the premier of Captain America: Civil War.

Join me over on Twitter every night for live tweets. But be warned…my gif game is hella strong, so if you choose to join…you better be ready to bring it!

We know where Spiderman stands…and Black Widow and Hawkeye and Ant-Man and Rhodey and The Winter Soldier himself. But where do you stand, nerd?? WHERE!

My feet are firmly planted in the #TeamCap camp!! But there is room for everyone in my nerdy family. (Even those who make bad choices…looking at you #TeamIronMan *wink…just kidding…i love ya…but seriously!)

See schedule below…

Captain America: Civil War Marvel movies watching blog

UNITED WE STAND                                                                                                DIVIDED WE FALL

Quality over Quantity

Pick your friend's nose E Cards friendship blog post

Think back to when you were in the 2nd grade. How many friends did you have? If you’re a social butterfly like me, then you had lots of friends. I knew practically everyone in the 2nd grade at my little, country elementary school and they all knew me. I was the one who was always on the play ground holding court and making sure everyone had room on the jungle gym. If you can’t get along on the jungle gym then there’s no hope for you in the halls of a school. I tried very hard to make people feel welcome and accepted, which lead to my bevy of friends.

Jungle Gym Unsplash photos by Daniel Ruyter blog post friendship
Photo: Unsplash.com by Daniel Ruyter

Flash forward to high school and gym time was an entirely different story. Not only do jungle gyms disappear in 6th grade (sadly) but so did my popularity. In 6th grade I began to show signs of becoming awkwardly tall and awkward in personality. The quirks that set you apart and make you cool when you’re little, immediately are seen as weird when you hit middle school. It’s all about homogeny and I wasn’t good at that game. So, I had a couple friends that were my besties, but that was really it. All the awkwardness of middle school was only exacerbated by age and my entrance into high school. And to some degree it continued into college.

The older I got the smaller my pool of friends became. In my head, I still had this picture of me on the jungle gym surrounded by all kinds of people, all kinds of friends. The friends that will get your back in a fight. The friends that will tell you it’s stupid to fight. The friends that started the fight. The friends who are fighting you. The friends on the sidelines cheering you on. I’m the kind of girl that cherishes all the friends. The more the merry.

So, to have a handful still throws me sometimes. I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I invite my friends to my party and 4 people show up. It doesn’t diminish the importance of those 4 friends, it’s just that sometimes my head doesn’t reconcile itself to my present reality. It may sound juvenile or silly, but what it really is, is completely honest. I have a hard time with reality. Especially when I paint really gorgeous thoughts and ideas in my head. Why wouldn’t I want to spend more time up there?

Friendship blog post Unsplash photos by Brooke Cagle
Photo: Unsplash.com by Brooke Cagle

See, in my head, it’s easy to be friends with people, but in reality it is difficult to be a friend and have friends sometimes. Especially when most of my besties are far, far away. There are times when I think that I’d make a better cave person than a friend. I want so desperately to do life with people that I care about, that I forget that there are people who don’t want to do life with me back. It’s still a new concept for me, hopeless optimist that I am. But it has become part of my present reality. A decidedly painful reality.

I get it. We all have one life to live and we have to make choices about who gets our time. Time is very important to me, so I understand spending it well. I guess the thought that I would be someone undeserving of a person’s time and energy is just so baffling, because I find myself occasionally delightful at best and moderately tolerable at worst. I hope that doesn’t sound narcissistic. It’s just that I spent all those awkward teen and college years trying to be anyone else. And I’ve finally accepted that I’m a pretty neat person. So I don’t apologize for liking myself after all this time. Liking yourself is a gift!

With that in mind, I want to give the time that is allotted to me to those individuals who enhance my life’s journey. And what I’ve learned is that quantity does not matter. Who cares how many friends you have? What matters is who will show up when you need them the most. The quality of friendship far outweighs the latter.

I am blessed to count on my hands a number of people who would drop everything to take my call. And who I would do the same for. I hate to make it sound harsh and I truly hate adulting. While cutting out the chaff may be difficult, it is a vitally important step in the process of growing up.

That’s not to say that I don’t still sometimes wish I was back on the jungle gym where things were easy and you became friends with someone simply because you were both wearing the same color…it’s just not physically true anymore. And I don’t have time for the fair-weather friends of the world. What happens when the storm comes? Who’s holding the umbrella with you? That’s the friend I want in my corner. It’s the kind of friend I hope that I am to my quality handful.

Friendship blog post  Unsplash photos by Pavel Badrtdinov
Photo: Unsplash.com by Pavel Badrtdinov

You’d think that social media would help immensely with this friendship problem, but it only muddies the waters. It only creates a false sense  of closeness with people who let go of you a long time ago and you just forgot to delete from your contact list. So, gentle reader, choose quality over quantity. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…unless they’re a quality friend, then they’ll probably pick your nose right back!

Pick your friend's nose E Cards friendship blog post
Photo: SomeEcards.com

Platonic Friendlationships

Downton Abbey Season 6 Spoilers Ahead…

 

 

 

I confess. As I’ve watched Downton Abbey the last 2 seasons, I’ve come to wish that Branson and Mary would try and make a go of it. After all, they get along famously and make each other genuinely better people (especially in Mary’s case.) Plus little Sybbie and Master George are growing up together anyways. Why not just go ahead already?

Tom Branson and Mary Crawley Downton Abbey platonic friendlationship blog post
Photo from dailymail.co.uk

But, after Sunday’s episode, I have finally accepted that it isn’t meant to be. Mainly because Mary married another dude. So all my dreams of the perfect ship have drowned.

In the aftermath of disappointment, a new feeling and deeper understanding of Mary and Branson has taken shape. Theirs is the perfect example of a platonic friendlationship done splendidly right. Possibly the only one on TV that I have ever witnessed. (Arguments could be made for Jerry and Elaine from Seinfeld or Phoebe and Joey from Friends.) See, what happens most of the time (and especially on soap operas) is that man meets woman, man loves woman, man loses woman, man finds new woman, man loves new woman. And the same is true on the women’s side as well. Anyone with television watching history knows that the best couples start out either on opposite ends of the spectrum (hating each other) or as the very best of friends (and not realizing they love each other.) Enter Mary Crawley and Tom Branson. Not only did they start out at opposite ends of the spectrum (he a chauffeur, she a rich aristocrat and them hating each other) but after the deaths of not one, but both of their spouses, they became the most unlikely pair of best friends. Hence the thought that they might end up together.

Instead, they remain dear and devoted friends. (In fact, Tom was the best man at both of Mary’s weddings. Chew on that one!) They are friends who love one another deeply, but who didn’t so much as look sideways at one another in a romantical way (despite my fervent prayers for it to happen.) Perhaps it was because he was married to her sister. It could be that the class lines just couldn’t be crossed. But I think it’s because sometimes, every once in a while, men and women can truly just be friends and nothing more.

I have to say, this has not been my experience. If I haven’t had feelings (unwanted or otherwise) for a guy, a guy has had feelings (unwanted or otherwise) for me. In fact, the best friend I have, who is of the male species, is my brother.

Platonic Friendlationships are very hard to come by. And harder to keep. Which is why Mary and Branson not getting together (and fulfilling my hopes and dreams) is a really, really good thing. I often desperately need to be reminded that men and women can be friends without the mushy stuff getting in the way. That it isn’t all about roses and rainbows and kisses in the rain. Sometimes it’s about honesty and kindness and a person you can rely on to always be there, even when it’s hard.

TOm Branson and Mary Crawley platonic friendlationship PBS blog post
Photo from gpb.org

(Deep breath and shoulder shrug) I wish it was as easy as having a team of writers craft the perfect scenario and just being directed to follow a script. If that were the case, then maybe I could have written it so that the men who’ve come into my life could have just been my friends. There would be no suspicion of ulterior motives. There would be no longing for something more. Just friendship at it’s finest. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would look like. Girl friends, I get. But boys? I’m 33 and I still can’t figure them out!

I will take a lesson from Tom Branson and Mary Crawley (I suppose I need to get used to calling her Mary Talbot now?) I will keep hope alive that men aren’t always trying to get into my pants. That maybe there’s a Branson out there who just wants to be in my life and see me happy, even if it isn’t with him. Perhaps especially if it isn’t with him. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Window Washing

Needless to say, I don’t like crying. I never have. The feeling of utter vulnerability is completely unappealing to me. And yet when a powerful moment comes along that brings me to tears, sometimes I hit repeat and hold onto it. Perhaps I hold on sometimes because these moments are few and far between for me.

The truth is that I’m much better at NOT crying. I’ve learned to cry when I’m alone. I’ve learned how to keep my emotions in check and only show the stiff upper lip. There is no instance I can point to that caused this to be the way I handle emotion. There is no tragic instance that dried up all future tears or told me that crying is weakness. It’s just how I feel.

So then, why is The Giving Tree my favorite children’s book? Why do I watch episodes of The Office (Niagra: Part 2, Goodbye Michael and Garage Sale) that I know will make me cry? Why did I create an entire playlist on Spotify called “Sometimes I Cry?” Why on Earth did I listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton the Musical on repeat at least 12 times in a row, bringing on hard core, inevitable tears while writing this very blog post?  (Fair warning, if you choose to go listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” do so at your own tearful risk. It is hauntingly beautiful!!) I listened to that track more than any other track on the album and yet it was the only one that made me cry. Crying…the thing I hate doing. Why would these things that bring tears become my favorites? It doesn’t make any sense at all.

My friend, Chelsea, always used to tell me, “Crying is not a weakness, Lizzie. Crying washes the windows of our souls. And sometimes we just need those windows washed.”

Window Washing quote from friend Chelsea blog post

Perhaps that’s why these things that make me cry become my favorites. Perhaps the powerful act of allowing my proverbial “windows” to be washed is far more meaningful and memorable than so many other moments that fly by without being marked. Because I can tell you the times I’ve cried. I can tell you about the times I’ve fallen apart. I can tell you about the time at church when I ran for a place away from everyone to cry and found a friend who sat by me and didn’t say a word. Or the time in my basement apartment in New York, when I felt so alone and let myself cry and was reminded that God was there with me, even when no one else physically was.

Chelsea always encouraged me to wash my windows, but I would always respond, “No Chelsea, crying is so stupid. I’ll cry when I’m home…alone. Where no one can see. It’s better that way.”

Plus, I hate washing my soul windows because when I cry I tend look more like James Van Der Beek crying…

Dawson Leery crying gif blog post

When I wish I could look more like Johnny Depp and his gentle, tear-streaked cry face…

Johnny Depp crying face gif blog post

Or maybe Jensen Ackles’ beautiful, beautiful cry face…

Jensen Ackles Supernatural cry face gif blog post

But at the end of the day, I want to write things that evoke powerful emotion. (Ugly cry face or not!) I want to connect with you, reader! I want you to be able to look through my windows, not wonder what’s inside this darkened building. I can’t help but feel that until I allow those windows to get cleaned more often, then whatever emotional blog posts I can give will tinged with an air of falsehood. And that is NOT what I want. So I listen again to “It’s Quiet Uptown” and I wash those windows clean. Cleaner than they’ve ever been, maybe. Cleaner than they’ll ever be again…I hope not. I’ve never been good at deep cleaning! But I am a fast learner!

Come join #TheSweatPack

#TheSweatPack

2016 is in full swing at Nerd in the City and Lean Girl’s Club. We are determined to make this year count for more than just 12 sheets of pretty calendar paper!! This is THE ONE! I say that every year. Because every year it’s true. Every new year is a chance to make it. And this one is no exception. Exciting things are happening for me in 2016 and I hope they are for you as well. The moral of the story is that life is moving forward. It doesn’t stop because we aren’t ready for what’s coming around the corner.

We can either jump on board or get bumped and bruised from trying to fight the flow. Trust me, I’ve been on the bumps and bruises side of life. I fought for love that wasn’t right for me. I fought to leave New York, when New York wasn’t quite done with me, and then I fought to stay there long after it was. I’ve fought against jobs that were right for me and for friendships that were wrong. I wish I was a quick learner, but when it comes to making the “right” choices, it takes time. And if someone is telling you that it’s easy…they don’t know what they’re talking about! No one has it easy.

That’s why it’s so important to reset every year. Give yourself a chance to start fresh. If you gained weight (like I have) forgive yourself and move on. If you lost a job, accept the change and move on. If you lost a love, find a place for them in your heart and move on. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

If fitness is an area that you have been struggling with (like I have) please join Grace from Lean Girl’s Club and me over on Instagram for our 2016 fitness challenges. Every Monday we’ll be starting something new. Last week Grace and I were all about the stairs.

She took the stairs,
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I took the stairs…

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and some of you took the stairs too…

Taking the Stairs Fitness Challenge Blog Collaboration Lean + Nerd
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This week we are jumping rope. So Step 1: Get yourself a jump rope and then show us what you got. We’ll be doing this challenge all week, so there’s plenty of time to jump in! (See what I did there!!) 😉
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Welcome to #TheSweatPack

I love fitness! I really do. I love the feel of straining dormant muscles (most especially dormant after the holidays.) I love taking classes at Soul Cycle and Title Boxing Club (where I am a member.) I love running by the lake in my neighborhood and lifting weights and jumping rope. I love to feel like I’ve pushed myself, truly pushed myself outside of my box and past my limits. The limits I set in my head. The ones that tell me that I can’t go any further or that I’m never gonna be good enough. Some days those limits win out…but most days I kick those limits in the ass!

#TheSweatPack running

My last blog post was about the tone of my New Year. I’m going to be living this year with a freedom that can only come when those limits are abandoned completely. Is there something that’s holding you back from working out or asking for a promotion or jumping out of a plane? Live Free!! What’s the alternative?

Maybe this doesn’t sound particularly nerdy to you. And if The Big Bang Theory is to be believed, then nerds don’t really choose to sweat much (unless they’re running away from bullies.)

But guess what…I’m a nerd! A BIG ONE (this much you already know.) I love fashion and Firefly. I love music and Marvel. I love sports and Star Wars. I don’t fit into the “normal” nerdy categories and stereotypes that are out there. Never have. That includes the stereotype that nerds aren’t sporty. I just have to beg to differ. Or beg for that stereotype to be buried once and for all. Because I believe that when it comes to nerdom…there is no “normal.”

#TheSweatPack

So, I’m partnering with the lovely Grace Kelle of Lean Girl’s Club and we are kicking the New Year off with some serious sweat!

Frankie had Deano…Emilio Estevez had Judd Nelson…and me? I have Gracie. No, we don’t live in the same city anymore. She’s still living that big city life up in the Apple and I’m beachin’ it up down in the F-L. But when it comes to #TheSweatPack, distance is only a number!

Liz Tailor and Grace Kelle are #TheSweatLPack

You’re wondering where you come in? Well, the beauty of #TheSweatPack is that it’s open to all. Come join Gracie: @leangirlsclub and me: @nerdinthesand over on Instagram and jump into our weekly challenges. It could be 1 picture a week, it could be 7 or 17 (if you’re the overachieving kind!) Wherever you are in your Sweat Pack journey, we want to meet you there!

Listen, if I can do it so can you! And probably way better than me anyways. So show us your sweat. Let it shine! Get up, get moving and get out of that little box!

This week #TheSweatPack is… taking The Stairs!!!

#TheSweatPack taking the stairs Instagram challenge