Girl’s Weekend in God’s Country …

cowsThis past weekend, the girls from my LifeGroup (similar to bible study) and I left the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind for some peace and quiet … oh, and s’mores. One of my groupmates has a family farm and that was the perfect place for our escape. We walked around the property, said hi to the cows, cooked, drank lots of wine, played Cards Against Humanity (the Panda Sex card almost made me pee my pants), watched movies and talked. These women and the friendships we have created have been an absolute blessing in my life and this weekend only strengthened that fact. We are all different, but that’s what makes us such a strong group. I think that’s how all relationships should be: strengthened by each others differences. Here’s to the friends that make you laugh, let you cry, give huge hugs and don’t judge you for the number of s’mores you eat.

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chimney color

smores silly girls line girls on deck

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Sugar Free November, Running and Crossfit. Oh my!

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Whether it is learning a new skill, trying a new workout, or giving myself a challenge of some sort (here, here and here), I love getting outside the “box”. I’m all about challenging myself, but I’ll admit that recently I’ve fallen into a pattern of complacency. Blame the colder weather, a packed schedule, or the premiere of a bunch of shows on Bravo (I’m looking at you, Vanderpump Rules) but I have been more inclined to just crash than to do anything productive.

Well, that is changing. I’ve given myself 3 challenges for the next month. The first challenge is to go sugar free for November. My friend, Katie, came up with this challenge and so far so good. The challenge is definitely making me pay more attention to what I’m consuming. I now realize the reason I dumped spoonfuls of sugar and creamer into my work coffee was because it is horrible. Now I make my own before heading to the office. Full disclosure, I am giving myself 3 cheat days (my birthday is this month, after all), but so far I’m not missing sugar.

The second challenge is to train for another 5K and shave at least 3 minutes off my time from my last race. I’m being smarter about my running routine than I was last year. I’m incorporating stretching and weight training into my running routine to prevent injury and it seems to be working so far. My race is December 6.

Now for challenge number 3 … I’m starting a month of Crossfit. I’ll be honest, I’ve been hesitant and maybe a bit judgmental about Crossfit. Last night I took my first of two fundamentals classes, and I realize that I could not have been more wrong. I went to the South Charlotte Crossfit location and it was such a cool and welcoming environment. I’ll take my last fundamentals class tomorrow and then after that I have a month unlimited pass to the gym. I already learned some new things last night about myself and about proper technique. I also realized that I have a love/hate relationship with squats.

Last night was another reminder to not judge something based on assumptions or the usually biased opinions of others. You’ve got to learn and figure it all out on your own. I’m looking forward to seeing what else I learn this month.

 

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Travel: Washington, D.C.

This past weekend, my friends Magen, Mimi and I left the Queen City and headed to the nation’s capital for a weekend getaway. We had no real plans or agenda except to eat, drink and sight-see our way through town.We stayed at the amazing St. Regis and what made it even more amazing was that Drake was also staying there (Happy Birthday, Drizzy).

We saw the White House, took a tour of the Capitol, saw the monuments on the Mall, shopped in Georgetown and ate and drank our way through town. Some of our restaurant highlights included Birch & Barley (amazing beer selection), Old Ebbitt Grill (delicious drinks), Kapnos (take me back to Greece!), and Farmers Fishers Bakers (now that’s a brunch). The bar in our hotel was a nightly stop for us, as was the 6:00 p.m nightly Champagne Sabering Ritual.

The weather was perfect and it was great to go on a quick weekend getaway that included great food, friends, shopping and history (I’m a self-admitted nerd). I grew up in Virginia and it was an easy Metro ride for me to get into the District. I’ve visited as a child, a teenager, a college student, and as a college graduate. This was my first time going back as an “adult”. The city has definitely changed since I moved to Charlotte 10 years ago, but then again, I’ve changed too. It was pretty cool to walk around and have memories from when I was 10, 13, and 23 come back to me. There is a lot of history in that town, and it includes my history too. It was great to see the city doing well and I can’t wait to visit again.

IMG_4382 IMG_4386Construction was being done on the Capital dome and it was pretty impressive to watch the construction workers walking around the top. 

IMG_4402Amazing statue of Rosa Parks

IMG_4412Ceiling of the Library of Congress. The design throughout was gorgeous.

IMG_4419 IMG_4443Supreme Court

IMG_4337 (1)The White House was right behind our hotel. 

white house

IMG_4348 IMG_4355 (1)World War II Memorial

IMG_4450Showing some love for my home state at the WWII Memorial

IMG_4363 (1) IMG_4365 IMG_4341IMG_4376 (1)Cheers! Until next time, D.C.

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Nan and Byron’s Fall Menu Preview

Last night, some friends and I attended a fall menu preview at Nan and Byron’s. Nan and Byron’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte. This statement can be proven by the number of check-ins I have here courtesy of Yelp. Hey, I like what I like.

Some of my favorite appetizers from last night were the Crispy Oysters served with pineapple, shaved jalapenos, and a BBQ vinaigrette, the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli with lobster claw, herb ricotta, glazed peas, and truffles, and the Sushi Grade Tuna Tartare with crushed wasabi peas and a ginger aioli. The Braised Pork Belly served with fried green beans (oh my wow) and marinated grape tomatoes was also a highlight. We also ordered the Burrata Salad (white wine poached pears, roasted plums, and white balsamic vinaigrette) for the table.

For my main course, I ordered the Spicy NY Strip, which was served with crushed Yukon potatoes, crispy onions, garlic confit, and topped with a red wine sauce. This bad boy was incredible. A perfectly cooked medium rare strip and I may have clapped when it was delivered to the table. Seriously, it was sexy. I ended the night with the Brownie Sundae served with coffee​ ice cream and a chocolate chili sauce.

An amazing meal and a great night with friends … what more could a girl want?!?

photo 1 (1)photo 2 (1)nan and byrons
The Crew (photo courtesy of Katie)

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Finally Friday …

After a long, but great week, I’m off to Georgia to spend time with college friends and see a beautiful friend get hitched. I’m driving instead of flying and I’m beyond thrilled. Sometimes there is nothing better for the soul than a solo road trip. I’ve got my playlist ready to go and I plan to sing at the top of my lungs to end the week and start the weekend off right. One of the songs on my playlist is by a band I was introduced to by my friend, Magen. The band is called Wild Club and here is their song “Thunder Clatter”.

 

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Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars …

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As I was taking my dog, Smitty, for a walk this morning, I felt that there was ‘something’ about today. When I looked at my phone and saw the date, I kept thinking “what is it about today … what am I missing.” I wasn’t sure if it was a birthday of someone I know, but I knew there was ‘something’ about today. The answer hit me quietly. Today would have been my 10 year wedding anniversary and I’m so glad that it is not.

That last statement may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. I wish nothing but the best for my ex-husband, but that is a door that I am glad is closed and nailed shut. Once I realized what the ‘something’ about today was, I started reflecting on the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned, the relationships I’ve strengthened, and the adventures I’ve been on over the past 2.5 years. Without a doubt in my mind, I know I’m exactly where I need to be.

One of the changes I’ve made since my marriage ended has been to recommit myself to my faith. I’ve found a great church and I’ve become part of a life group comprised of some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. Our group is currently reading Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars by Marilynn Chadwick. The book focuses on being thoughtful in prayer, but also how to listen for the voice of God.

I can tell you that God roared on the day my marriage ended. Being in that moment was horrible and I would never wish it on my worst enemy, but now that I’m out of it, I can see why it happened. My marriage was not healthy, especially towards the end. A few months before we separated, I remember being in my car on my way to workout and I had what I call a gut-check prayer. To me, a gut-check prayer is one of those moments where you are your most honest, you hold nothing back and just let whatever is troubling your heart out. I knew I was in a bad situation and I felt lost, so I gave my marriage and my life to God’s will. Well, he gave me my answer and then he gave me some of the greatest gifts and lessons I’ve ever learned. Sometimes you have to be broken down to be built back up.

So today I will say a prayer for the lost girl I was and say another prayer of praise for who I am today. Although God roared on the day my marriage ended, I heard him whisper to me today. I’m convinced he said “you got this, girl” because that’s how we roll.

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My experience in fundraising …

I am a firm believer in getting out of my comfort zone (do I even have one anymore?) and being selected as a 2014 STANDOUT Charlotte honoree by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has definitely challenged me.

I have always been involved in either volunteering with or personally donating to various causes and nonprofits close to my heart, but I have never truly been a fundraiser for a cause. As a requirement of being an honoree, one of my tasks has been to fund raise for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Currently, there is not a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF) and that is why fundraising for research is so vital.

I’m not the type of person to “ask” others for anything, no matter how much I need help. This process has taught me not only to ask, but to allow myself to be surprised by the actions of others. I have seen so much good throughout this process, that I know there was a reason God gave me this challenge. I truly believe God wanted me to learn that people want to help, they just need to be asked, and that sometimes people will surprise and not disappoint you if given the chance.

As I’ve gone through this process and learned about CF and the Foundation, my heart has truly been touched. I have always been a defender of the underdog (you can ask my parents), and in the scheme of fundraising for diseases, that’s CF, the underdog. Since there is such a small percentage of people living with the disease, it’s not as well known, and thus not a “mainstream” cause to support. Those involved with the Foundation have to fight for every dollar earned.

I’ve made asks and I even dressed up as Super Girl to raise awareness. I’m all about the fight and it’s a great feeling to know that I may be able to make a small difference for such a worthy cause.   If you are interested in donating to help fund future research for CF, please consider donating to my campaign here 

And here I am as Super Girl (and yes, that is a flaming bra behind me on the wall) …

supergirl

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