If At First You Don’t Succeed…Cry, Cry Again

Not understanding a concept frustrates me. Failing maddens me. Not getting the passing grade drives me crazy.

Growing up, I was not a gifted child. I earned D’s through elementary and middle school, tried reading in class instead of paying attention as much as possible, and received plenty of detentions. I was written up countless times for trying to sneakily read books instead of paying attention during math class. If you grew up as a delinquent book-lover/math-hater like me, you probably know the childhood trick of keeping your math textbook open on your desk while a novel sits in your lap. I was busted every time.

Then, in high school, I started earning straight A’s. Let me tell you, it did not come easily. I cried, wept, and moaned my way through 4 years of going to bed at 10 PM and waking up at 5:30 AM every weekday. It hurt. I was exhausted. But I was also freaking proud of myself. Having my essays used as examples during class (according to my sister, my World History teacher used my essay as an example when she took the class 2 years later), being called one of the “smart kids” by peers, and being held up as a golden scholar-athlete by my coaches was sweeter than honey.

However, crawling up from D’s to A’s was not a miraculous, overnight practice. The key to not sucking at school anymore was this: I had to learn how I learned things. And the way that I learn happens to include tears. Oceans and oceans of tears. Here is how the system works:

  • Look over something, try it
  • Fail. Wrong. ***Buzzer noise***
  • Frustration
  • Get it wrong again
  • Cry. Get angry. Get upset. Emotional upheaval.
  • Try again
  • Get it right

Oftentimes, the “Get it right” part doesn’t come until after a dozen ***buzzer noise*** attempts. But if I keep going at it and trying different angles and learning methods, the answer eventually comes to me.

But first, I have to try and cry.

This post is kind of a reminder to me, as I have begun my crazy 3-classes-in-8-weeks course load. My Intro to Prob & Stats course really scares me, but I know I can get it. I just need to go stock up on some Kleenex.

How do you learn best?

What was your worst class in school?

Here’s to More Trying and Crying!





Welcome To The Purge

So I have realized that organizational blogs are a thing. And I am thoroughly addicted. There is something so soothing about seeing messy, unkempt drawers being transformed into bright, tidy spaces.

If you know me, you have probably heard me talk about how often I toss out and donate anything that disturbs my zen. I could have something hiding in the corner of a closet, but just knowing that it is there drives me crazy. If it is not being used, is ugly or broken, or is just taking up space, I want it gone. I trek to Goodwill probably once a season to donate all of the clothing that is unflattering on my body or the random things that are cluttering up my space.

I am perfectly content living as a materialistic minimalist – yes I keep a list of all of the stuff I would like to eventually add to my apartment or closet, but it better only be those things or I sweatertogawd that it will find its way to Goodwill or into the trash can. Real talk.

There is so much peace in arriving home and knowing that everything is in place and that there is nothing cluttering up a corner. There is a borderline spiritual feeling to walking into a clean, well-organized, well-appointed space with the smell of essential oils burning and tea brewing.

Whenever Alex brings something new into my apartment, he asks me if it affects my “zen,” as he calls it. He kindly puts up with my “hippie shit” and doesn’t judge me when I ask for his opinion on different styles of incense burners.

The other day I found an article by The Atlantic titled “The Opposite of Hoarding” that described people with an addiction to “purging things,” the polar opposite of hoarding. I read through the articles and studies, and while I am nowhere near addicted to maintaining my “zen,” I could understand where many of the people interviewed were coming from. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no joke. I definitely recommend giving the article a read; it is really eye-opening about how much our culture idolizes “de-cluttering,” yet how this task becomes a consuming way of life for some. I have plenty of OCD in my history, and it hurts to see people’s lives consumed by certain behaviors. I think that the more that you have suffered from an addiction/illness, the more empathy and compassion you have for those undergoing something similar.
Do you have a hard time letting go of things from your closet/house?

Peace Out, Big Boring Gym

February in Chicago is miserable. It has been snowing for months, and you know that you have a good 2 or 3 months until you experience enough sunshine to take off your coat and tuck it away in your closet. It was this environment, grey and dismal with no hint of summer in sight, that inspired me to trek over to the nearest LA Fitness. After one free visit, a tour, and being hounded by a staff member hell bent on getting me to sign up, I paid the few hundred dollars for the “initiation” fee and began my $25/month membership.

Fast forward to July. The sun is out, I can finally wear shorts again, and it is gorgeous outside. The 8 months of cold are now a memory, and my gym membership is going pretty much unused. Why would I go on a treadmill when I have so many nearby forest preserves to run? Besides the weather, I was really disappointed with my LA Fitness experience. The classes that were the main inspiration for me to join were subpar, the energy among instructors was low in the classes I attended, and I just wasn’t getting what I wanted out of the experience.  

Yes, a gym membership is great for the cold and rainy winter months, but I wish I was more selective about which gym and the pricing. After cancelling my first big brand gym membership, I have a better idea of what I want. My goal is to have a better at-home fitness system – more weights and a jump rope to do work on the stuff I am too self-conscious to work on in a crowded gym. And a weekly yoga or spinning studio class to keep me inspired. If I do join a gym to use cardio equipment during the winter months, I will stick with a $10/month gym like Planet Fitness.

Lessons learned:

  1. Avoid contracts at all costs. Don’t sign with a gym that requires a year long contract or any craziness like that. They have to earn your business, month by month.
  2. Know that leaving a gym can be a real hassle. I was shocked to discover that in order to cancel my LA Fitness membership, I had to send in a letter to their California address to have my membership cancelled. No online cancellation, nothing over the phone. An archaic letter. That sh*t should be illegal. If I have to pay for your business using online services, then I should also be able to cancel your services online. Tough luck biscuit, it’s their job to earn your business.  
  3. Yoga studios and specialised fitness “boutique” centers may cost more, but I find the cost more motivating and the classes are just better in general. No way in hell that I am missing a yoga class when I have paid $20 for it. Plus, when I am doing a class I enjoy I am more focused and centered, which = results and a calm mind.
  4. IF considering joining a gym, be as upfront as possible – you are the customer after all. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself AND the gym sales/managing peeps “What makes this gym different?” “Why should I join this gym?” “What can I get here that I can’t get somewhere else?” Be honest with yourself – are you joining the gym because you genuinely like it or because you feel pressured?

Anyways, this is my POV.

Where do you go to exercise? What is your opinion on gyms? 

On The Run Again After Two Years

dash for the dogs 5k 2016

Less than 2 weeks ago, I finished a race for the first time in TWO YEARS. It felt kind of strange. I knew that my times were going to be much much slower than the last time I ran a 5k in 22-something-minutes. I didn’t know anyone else attending the race, and Alex had work and couldn’t come.

But having Happy by my side for his first ever race made it all worth it. I registered for this race a few months back specifically because I knew it was the kind of thing that wouldn’t feel pressured or intense – I mean, it was “The Dash For The Dogs 5k”, with runners encouraged to bring their pups for a run! How can you feel stressed by race when surrounded by pups??? The answer is that you can’t.

I can’t stand how cute Happy is. Professional pet photographers, send me your contact info!


So many people asked to pet Happy and gave him compliments – Happy just seemed kind of confused about what was going on. It was like I brought him to a dog park, but he and all of the other dogs were still leashed.

I always knew that Happy is a runner – he pulls me through runs faster than I would have run on my own and for longer than I would go on my own. But his first race was a real indicator that he is a competitive machine.

For Happy, it was a race and a runway #strut 

He pulled me through the 3.1 miles, only stopping once to take a leak on some trail side bushes. Once Happy was in the race, he was intent on pulling me past as many people as possible. My biggest concern during the race was making sure that people didn’t accidentally veer into him or kick him. But thankfully, there were enough dogs in the race that people were pretty watchful.

Happy and I met my goal to cross the finish line in under 30 minutes, pulling through in 29:04 and scoring 1st in our age group. This was probably the slowest 5k I have ever run, but I enjoyed it. And the pictures I got with Happy are freaking adorable. I want to frame them for my desk, hang them in my living room, and put them on Christmas cards. I think that dog-friendly races may be my new obsession.

Happy post race feels.jpg
Post race feels

Saying that today is Global Running Day, I stopped by the local running club in the area for an easy 3-miler. I ran with another girl near my age which was nice after running solo the past few months (which isn’t as depressing as it sounds, saying that I have only been running 1 or 2 times a week).

Here is to a renewed relationship with running – for the joy of it.


I Need To Learn How To Rest


Last night was full of fun times, as Alex and I spent most of the night in the Emergency Room. To make a long story short, my throat had become so swollen that it was extremely painful to swallow or drink anything. This led to dehydration, which led to me laying on a hospital bed with an IV. Thankfully, the steroids the hospital gave me quelled the swelling, and now I can drink. Actually, I didn’t really explain myself earlier when I said my throat was so swollen that it was extremely painful to drink. In reality, it was mission impossible to drink. That is what very sick, swollen, bulbous-looking lymph glands do to ya.

Ever since I was diagnosed with mono on Friday, I have been able to only “eat” broth and smoothies, which is absolutely killing me. I feel like I am on some kind of Kardashian fad diet. I spend my time daydreaming about the Portillo’s hamburger and fries that I am going to absolutely destroy once I can swallow food again.

Black Bean Burgers & Goodbyes
Found this picture of a burger I had in Chi-town way before I got sick. Need.

One thing I am learning from being extremely sick is that I am not good at resting. “Resting” to me has been running errands, going to the office, cleaning my apartment. And to be honest, I have been letting little things stress me out, which probably hasn’t been great for my health either. Having a pile of laundry, a sink filled with dirty dishes, or an unscrubbed bathtub is enough to get me hyperventilating. (This definitely makes me my mother’s daughter!). But those things really aren’t a huge deal – yeah I don’t want to be a slob, but having some dishes in the sink and clothes in the laundry basket isn’t something to lose sleep over if I need to be resting.

With that said, here is to a day of tea, my bed, answering work emails, and watching more episodes of Drop Dead Diva.

I get my thrills off of WebMD

WebMD laughs
courtesy of memegenerator.net

So, after being exhausted for weeks, I finally went to a walk-in clinic and got my diagnosis. Apparently, my fatigue and seemingly low immune system have had a culprit – the dreaded M word, mono. Ewww.  Mono is joked about as the “kissing virus,” but after reading articles online (which makes me an expert in my mind), mono isn’t just transmitted through kissing. Just using a water fountain can give you the illness.

The thing that really sucks is that mono can last from 3 weeks to 2 months. Right now I am going through the introductory stages, which include the swelling of the lymph glands, sore throat, fever, and headache. This can last up to 2-3 weeks, and may be followed by up to two months of fatigue. No bueno. I also made sure to freak myself out by reading all of the rare organ failures and symptoms mono can cause. Some people dig horror movies, but I get my thrill by delving into WebMd for any real or potential illness I may have.  The doc’s orders are the following: rest, hydrate, eat nutritiously, more rest, and no strenuous exercise that can rupture my spleen and kill me.  Basically the advice I have heard from my doc and the interwebs is this: mono isn’t that big of a deal, but there is a 1% chance that organs can fail, rupture, or you can break out in rashes. Sweet dreams!

WebMD humor
courtesy of themetapicture.com

The weird thing is, finally having an explanation for my consistent sluggishness and fatigue for the past few weeks feels empowering. As a matter of fact, when I got home, I cleaned my apartment, dusted my desk, started writing, moved stuff around. Knowing that there was a reason for my fatigue, and that it wasn’t because I was just becoming a lazy bum, put me at peace. I know, I should be in bed rest right now. But now that I know what bugger is leeching my immune system, I feel like I am playing a game. Me vs. Mono.

Every hour of sleep I get, every smoothie I drink, every vitamin I take, every cup of water I take down – is like diminishing the vitality level of the virus in my system. At the same time, I have to show the virus who is the boss and not use it as an excuse to turn into a sloth. Turning being sick into a game that you can somehow beat makes it much less miserable.

Have you ever dealt with mono? How long did it take to beat it?


Confessions of a V.I.P. (Very Impulsive Person)

***This blog was originally written and published for FamilyBridgesUSA.com, the awesome nonprofit organization that I work for. You can check out other articles I have written as well as material about relationships, finances, and parenting here***

I am one of the most impulsive people that I know. “Are you sure about this?” is one of the most common questions I hear from my friends.

This impulsivity must trace back to my toddler years, where I would throw myself on the floor of the grocery store and scream for cookies. Somewhere deep within my synapses, there was a primal urge to get what I wanted and to get it RIGHT NOW. While my little sister used patience and politeness to get what she wanted, for some reason throwing a tantrum seemed like a more appealing option.

Going on from my toddler years, my impulsiveness spread to places other than the cookie aisle. After watching Spiderman 3 and being captivated by Mary Jane Watson, I hacked away at my hair in an attempt to get the sultry bangs shown off by Spiderman’s girlfriend. This resulted in near cardiac arrest for my mother and a trip to the hair salon.

During an end-of-the-year school pool party, I jumped into the pool with no regard to my straightened hair. There was no one to impress, no reason to do it. I had the urge and obeyed. A similar scenario played out a year later when I jumped off a cliff into Lake Michigan. My cousins and I were scouting out a cliff that we wanted to jump the next day. There were a group of retirees standing around who wanted to see someone jump into the water so they could see how high the drop was. I happily obliged, and took the 30 foot drop into the icy water.

I have at least a hundred stories of sudden, rash decisions I have made. When I got older, my tastes shifted from hair hacking and jumping into bodies of water to more adult things; namely shopping, binging, and purging. If I wanted it, I got it, one way or another.

However, this started to take a toll on my friendships, my grades in college, and my physical well-being. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with clinical depression and bulimia that I knew I had to clean up my act.

Learning to control my impulses was painful. And I am not being metaphorical. When I first began restraining myself, I felt tightness in my chest and like I had been kicked in the stomach. I was like Gollum panting for his “precious.” I had to hold back from getting another tattoo, another piercing, eating a package of Oreos, maxing out my credit card on an online shopping spree –  it hurt really badly. For the first few months, I whispered “no” to myself over and over again when walking through Target, driving past the mall, or hovering my cursor over the “Check Out Now” button. “No no no no” became my guiding chant.

Eventually, holding back stopped feeling so painful. Even better, saying “no” started to show results. My bank account became healthier, and I stopped suffering from the financial hangover I would get after making a rash purchase. I feel more in control of my life, and experience a weird euphoria when I stick to my grocery list or take the ridiculously priced throw pillow out of my cart before heading to the cashier.

It just feels better to not be controlled by whatever idea takes ahold of me. Oddly enough, all of this self-control makes me feel more at peace with myself. Saying “no” to the pretty pair of high heels that caught my eye means that I can say “yes” to paying off my credit card debt. Saying “no” to the desire to get a new tattoo means that I can say “yes” to planning a summer trip to Colorado with my best friend.

So for those of you who struggle with impulses that seem to hijack your brain, or if you have a friend who seems ready to dive off of a cliff at any moment, just know that yes, it is possible to control impulses. You can do it. But you just have to accept the fact that it is not going to be pretty, it is going to hurt, and you are not going to like it at first. But it will pay off one day. Patience young Padawan, patience.