Cabin Weekend Off the Grid

A few weekends ago, we celebrated my new friend Amy's birthday by taking a cabin trip off the grid in Gunnison, CO. I met Amy in December at a girls snowshoeing event which was super fun. When I found out she has her own pet sitting business (I had one for almost 4 years back in MD), we hit it off and started chatting all things animals. Thanks to her I found out about the Denver Raw Feeders co-op that offers raw pet food at really great prices (like less than a dollar a pound, and back in MD I was paying $3 per pound!). It was so great of her to extend the invitation to me for the weekend.

Early Saturday morning I drove down to the Denver area and Chantelle and I carpooled several hours out to Gunnison with her pup Stella Blue. Chantelle and I had only met one time, which was on the snowshoeing trip, so it was great that she was willing to carpool and we got to know each other well on the drive. She and Amy were the only people that I knew (sort of) that were going. We had some gorgeous views on the way in, drove by elk, and stopped for a delicious breakfast on the way. We met up at the last gas station with cell phone service to follow each other to the parking lot where we would snowshoe in to the cabin. We got a little lost (easy to do in a rural area with no cell service where directions and not an address are the only way to find your location) and ended up being  a little later than we anticipated.

Luckily, one of the caretakers was waiting for us in the parking lot with a snowmobile that was towing a sled, since we had called him from our meeting spot. We had arranged to be able to leave our gear in the snowmobile so that we could just snowshoe in without a lot of extra weight, since we were bringing in all our bedding, food, and alcohol for the weekend.

After loading up the snowmobile sled, we layered up and started the trek in. It was somewhere around 7 miles or so. Carrie and Chad trekked ahead, as Carrie (a personal chef) was going to be cooking for us and probably wanted to get a head start on the meal so we could eat when we arrived (or at least that's what I assumed, since I'm such a foodie).

The rest of us stuck together for a bit- Amy, Chantelle, Amy's friend Erin who was in town to celebrate Amy's birthday, and me. Eventually, Amy and Chantelle decided to go ahead and Erin and I snowshoed/hiked in. Unfortunately it was getting close to dark and we had not made a ton of progress and Erin was in severe discomfort from the snowshoe trek, so Amy and Chantelle hiked to the caretaker cabin next to our cabin to have them pick us up on snowmobile. Meanwhile, we continued the trek in. Going through a small summer town with cute little boarded up hunting cabins was fun and the snowy trees lining the snowmobile tracks were gorgeous.

After a tough trek due to Erin's discomfort and the fact that I couldn't do anything to help her other than stay together and take breaks, our snowmobile rescuer came! Riding with the three of us on the snowmobile (me in the back) was so fun! It reminded me of riding three people to a motorcycle in Dominican Republic, speeding along under the starry sky, except this time was in the snow. The wind whipped around and I hung on to the handles on either side of the back of the snowmobile, relaxing my body to sway with the movements of the snowmobile. It turns out we were only about 1.5 miles from the cabin, but we had no way of knowing and there's no cell phone service out there.

After a delicious dinner of burritos and warming up in front of the wood stove, I went to bed early.

Sunday morning we had a tasty breakfast of pancakes with peanut butter cups and chocolate and bacon. We ventured out into the snow and went sledding and exploring. It was really fun and absolutely beautiful and peaceful in the woods.

Erin and I in the ski lift chair outside of the cabin
Sledding! It looks like it is going a lot faster than it actually is
Trekking around in the woods Sunday
That afternoon after a delicious grilled cheese/bacon/avocado sandwich and tomato soup lunch, most of us hung out in the "living room" area of the cabin with a wood stove, Christmas tree, couches, and a hammock. Of course, I snagged the hammock. It was a tad chilly, so I brought down my sleeping bag and put it in the hammock and nestled up inside. (I brought a sleeping bag instead of sheets because I wasn't sure how cold the cabin would get at night and also I don't own any sheets. The ones that came with our airbnb would be in use by Andrew that weekend while he worked and took care of the dogs at home.) We also did some coloring, ate fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, had some drinks, and generally just hung out.
Cocoon time

In the hammock with one of Amy's dogs- Stella
Coloring and hanging out Sunday afternoon

That night, the caretakers came over. It was fun hanging out with them and hearing stories about their adventures in Alaska, the guy's Iditarod race and training from 2015, and just getting to know everyone in the group. After dinner of chili, we played Cards Against Humanity, colored some more, talked and hung out. It was a super relaxing weekend, with no technology or outside distractions- just nature and friends.

Monday morning we got up, packed up, ate breakfast (quiche), and headed out. I hiked down with Chad and Carrie. We hiked out in just about an hour and a half, which leads me to believe the trek was less than 7 miles, because even for downhill, that's pretty darn fast! The hike out was awesome and I was glad I was able to hike the whole thing on Monday. Everyone else left a little later and packed up our gear, trash, leftover food, etc, in the snowmobile. There was space enough for all 3 of the others to ride in the snowmobile.

From there Chantelle and I drove back to the Denver area. On the way we saw a bighorn sheep in the road and more gorgeous mountain views. I got back home mid afternoon Monday, and just tidied up the house, put stuff away, caught up on laundry, etc.

It was a great relaxing weekend. The best part was the weekend before Amy invited me, I had literally been saying how I would love a weekend away in the cabins in the mountains with no technology. When the opportunity came along, I couldn't say no!
Group shot from Sunday night







Manitou Incline Hike

My new friend Chantelle lives in the Denver area. She and a couple of other friends were planning to hike the Manitou Incline on Sunday. Read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manitou_Incline. Essentially, it's an old railroad track that climbs 2000 feet of elevation in less than a mile.

I heard about how tough the Incline is, and I had to try it for myself. I was just saying last week how I need more cardio in my life. I think it would really benefit my Crossfitting and also my powerlifting. Well, I definitely got more cardio! It was a tough climb. There were times when I told myself "just climb 10 steps then you can rest." I would do that, and repeat it to myself. Certain sections were intense and none of it was easy! The views were gorgeous, the people were nice, and the trail down was beautiful, too. I finished in an hour and 15 minutes, which is right around average or a little slower. Some of our group was ahead of me, and some was behind.

View on the way down
Me at the top
We took the scenic meandering trail down, which was lovely. Then we went to get food at a nearby barbecue place. Yum! I got a pound of pulled pork (only $10...are you kidding me???!!!), new potatoes, soda (pretty rare for me), and peach cobbler. Had to refuel after that ascent!

My tasty meal
It was really fun carpooling with Chantelle and Francesca. The drive alone wouldn't have been nearly as fun. I love meeting outdoor-sy people that like to get up early and drive if needed for active outdoor adventures. It's so great!

All of us at the top!



Salt Cave

I love living in an area where you can get local Groupons! It's exciting. Recently I saw a Groupon deal for a 45 minute salt cave session for $11. I was really curious to try it out. Before I get into what a salt cave is and my experience, let me tell you why.

Not that many people know this about me (at least I don't think they do) because I don't like to complain. Basically as far back as I can remember I have had mucous in the back of my throat. Nothing that prevents me from breathing, singing, talking, or exercising, but it's still there and sometimes it is aggravating. I've tried changing my diet, thinking maybe it was my body's reaction to diet as an inflammatory and mucous producing response. I've tried a low histamine diet, autoimmune protocol, several whole 30's, a low carb 21 day sugar detox, low FODMAP, you name it. I had some reduction in mucous on low histamine diet, but not enough to follow the severely restrictive low histamine diet protocol on a regular basis (it involves everything being fresh cooked- no leftovers, no fresh cooked then frozen then thawed, no canned or packaged whole foods, etc.). Occasionally when I am hiking or running outside I have to hack some mucous out so I can breathe more easily, but other than that, it's usually tolerable. Still, I have to wonder why it is there. I always assumed that everyone had that, but apparently not like I do.

Anyhow, I had heard of a salt cave and was curious to see what it was about. I read that it is really good for those with respiratory issues including allergies, asthma, etc. I don't have any of those but I was curious to see if it affected the mucous.

Also, it is good for resetting your energy as salt is composed of negative ions.

They give you hospital booties and a hair cap to keep the salt off your feet and hair. You go down the hall in an office building to a room. You can smell the salt from the hallway, there is that much of it there. Inside the room, the walls are covered in a thick layer of salt and salt crystals. The room is lit solely by salt crystal lamps. The floor is covered in larger salt crystals, kind of like walking on a beach but with salt instead of sand. There are about 10 or so leather looking recliner chairs spaced out throughout the room. There is calming music playing. The room lightly sprays salt through the air.

The staff gave me a brief run down on the salt cave and what to expect before we entered the room. Since my mucous has been around for years, they said it would probably take about 6 sessions within a 2 week period to clear it up. I am not ready to commit to that yet, but I would be up for it when my finances are more stable. They said that most people either meditate, read, or sleep. They said most people's only complaint is that the sessions aren't longer, so they allow clients to stay for a second session for free if they like. After the first 45 minutes or so they come to check on you and see if you need a bathroom break or water break or anything.

I went in, grabbed a blanket (provided), and promptly reclined the chair and fell asleep. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping in a public(ish) space but I was pretty tired from working out hard that morning. There were two other people there. I passed out and slept pretty well. When the staff came to check on me after the first hour, I asked to stay another hour. The second hour was pretty much like the first one. I just rested. When the second hour was up, they escort you out of the room and give you a run down on what to expect after the session. Drink a lot of water due to dehydration from all the salt. You might have more mucous production over the next day or so as your body clears out. Those things both came true. But what was the most amazing was for the first time I can remember, I had literally no mucous in my throat when I left there. That was incredible.

I'm really curious to go back and do some more intensive sessions and see what happens! It was a really cool experience, and definitely worth $11!

Read more: http://saltspacolorado.com/

Floatation Tank Experience


The last thing left on my goals list for was to try out an isolation/floatation tank. It was a few days before my birthday in December. There was a tank about an hour away in Boulder so I signed up for a session. I was super curious about what it would be like, especially because I am claustrophobic and afraid of drowning.

I was pleasantly surprised with the layout of the room. It has an interior locking door, bench to put your things down, and a bathroom with toilet and shower. They ask you to shower before you get into the tank to remove any lotions and oils, and of course afterwards to remove all of the salt. The tank is filled with several inches of warm water and about 900 pounds of epsom salts. It's so salty that you naturally float with no effort.

I wasn't sure how I would feel once I got into the tank, so initially I left the door to the tank open. Once I started feeling comfortable in the tank, I turned on the interior light and closed the door. That went well, so I lay back and turned off the light. No feelings of panic. So I lay back and tried to relax. I found the best position for me to relax was to cross my ankles and place my arms up by my head at 90 degree angles. At first, I had so many thoughts running through my head. It was hard to relax my mind, so I tried to focus on my breathing, like during meditation. Eventually, my mind lapsed into that super relaxed state right before sleep, where you are conscious but not really thinking. In that state, time passed so quickly. I thought the 90 minute session would take forever, but it went by surprisingly quickly. They play music inside the tank when your session is over, so you have 15 minutes to shower. They have a really nice herbal conditioner there that you can use after you float.

When I emerged, I was sad to get out already. I loved the session. Even if you only go for the physical relaxation, I would definitely recommend it. Every single muscle in my body was totally relaxed, much more so than even after a massage. All the soreness from working out was gone. The mental benefits were awesome, too. I was just really relaxed, happy, peaceful, and in bliss.

Since the first session, I've gone back twice more. I was lucky to find a Groupon promotion for a great rate for 3 sessions! The second and third sessions went even more quickly, and I found I slipped into the relaxed state much more quickly. I'll definitely continue to go somewhat regularly, as regularly as I can afford.

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Before third float
After third float


Want to learn Spanish conversation virtually with me? Learn more here. I'm also offering two virtual Spanish workshops in February and March.

My Life in Colorado

My life out here has been significantly different from life in MD. Back in MD I had 4 jobs and was running around like a crazy person and barely had any free time. Here, I have lots of free time, work from home, and get to make my own schedule. I honestly couldn't be happier. (Of course, I was happy in MD, too, just in a different way. It's a nice change of pace.)

So here's a somewhat typical day for me.

Wake up around 5 am, get ready to go to work out. Let the dogs out, get dressed to workout, do morning hygiene routine, feed the dogs, make my protein shake, fill my water bottle, and mix up my powerade that I drink on the way to work out. Around 5:45 leave to work out. Arrive at the gym around 5:55 and start warming up.

I usually go to the 6 am Crossfit class, although some days I go to 7 am Open Gym at Crossfit to lift weights or do accessory work (pullup and dip progressions), and some days I do both.

After Crossfit and/or Open Gym, I sometimes head over to the post office to check our mail and then to yoga in Old Town. If I do this, I usually have a protein shake, protein bar, and banana to refuel after my workout. I am usually early to yoga and set up my mat, get into shavasana pose (laying flat on the floor relaxing) and cover myself up with 2 yoga blankets to rest/relax/meditate before class starts. I prefer the slower yoga classes without the crazy hard poses. I enjoy yoga because I think it's a nice balance for the other high intensity exercises I do. I really enjoy the mental relaxation and calmness that it brings to me.

Sometimes I am too tired (especially if I just did Crossfit and then Open Gym) so instead I go home and nap. On the days that I work out twice, I eat and drink even more than normal, but I also find that I need more sleep than my usual 8 ish hours. About a 2 hour nap suffices. I usually eat a second breakfast of whole food carbs and protein after I get back from Crossfit/yoga.

Mid-day, after yoga and/or working out, I either take the dogs for a short walk or meet up with my new friend Jessie and her dog Abby. Jessie works from home, too, so we like to take our dogs out for some mid-day exercise at one of the local natural areas. Sometimes we even walk for about an hour or more. The dogs are good friends now.

After that, if I haven't already showered in between different morning exercises, I shower and tidy up the house. I really can't work unless the house is clean. It's such a distraction. With 3 dogs and 2 of us in a small basement apartment, it need to be vaccuumed and tidied every day. I usually light a candle when I am home and put on some Pandora radio. Then I usually watch an episode of Netflix and eat lunch.

Mid-afternoon I usually get cracking on my work. Right now I work part time for katemarolt.com as a virtual assistant, so I do a couple of hours of work a week. I help her with things like managing a Google community of women, sending emails, formatting blog posts, scheduling social media posts, researching various things, assisting with live events she puts on, and even taking notes on weekly group video chat calls.

Around 4 pm I take the dogs for a short walk around the neighborhood and feed them dinner. I usually take a work break and watch another episode of Netflix and eat dinner.
Snuggle time in bed with Jubi. Amy says she's pretty sure I spend all day in bed with the dogs. I do watch TV in bed because we have very limited furniture and because the bed is the only thing facing the TV.

In the evenings, sometimes I have Spanish lessons over video chat. Sometimes I do work for Kate. Sometimes I work on other things for myself, like planning out my calendar, tracking my finances, or other to do tasks like brushing the dogs and brushing their teeth. I also update my notebooks daily. I have one for most of the things that are important to me- a regular to do notebook, one tracking my workouts and fitness goals, one for special things Andrew does in our relationship, one for dreams/magic/kind of like a journal, one for travel plans, and one for my Spanish clients to track their progress and business plans. I write up my to do list for the next day, spend some time with Andrew and the dogs, maybe watch some more Netflix or movies depending on how much is on my list for the day.

Around 9 or 10 pm I usually go to bed, depending on what time I wake up the next day.

Recently, I've been able to visit with some out of town and new friends. My old roommate from Spain, Cat, came to visit her family in Denver for the holidays, so we met up for coffee (herbal tea for me). My old roommates from MD, Lena and Xavier, were in Denver for a couple days, so Andrew and I met up with them and Xavier's brother for dinner. An international student I mentored in college, YiFan, was in Denver from Michigan for a ski trip with some friends. We met up for dinner. After our mentoring relationship, we really hit it off and have stayed close friends. I went for a hike with my new friends Amy and Colin and Andrew and Amy's dogs. I've gone with Jessie for several dog walks. My new friend Johnnie had a chili and game night at her house for New Year's Eve and we have gone to a flotation tank in Boulder together. Amy and I had an all you can eat sushi lunch date and went to walk around downtown Boulder.  My friends Christina and Jeffrey came to visit from CA. Some of Andrew's Appalachian Trail thru hiker friends came to visit from Denver. It's been really nice spending time with friends over the holidays.
Went for a dog walk at Poudre Trail with Christina and Jeffrey when they came to visit.

Dinner in Denver with YiFan

Cards Against Humanity at Johnnie's at New Year's

Coffee with Cat

Other than that, Andrew and I had a low key Christmas. He worked a lot of hours that week, so we just made cinnamon rolls in our electric skillet, napped, watched Netflix, and took the dogs for a nice long walk with Jessie and Abby. Our anniversary was the day after Christmas. 4 years already! We didn't do much on New Year's Day either. It was really nice.

I've got a couple things coming up shortly:a  few possible part time virtual assistant positions, a couple of new interested Spanish clients, some virtual Spanish workshops (assuming at least 4 people sign up for them), and maybe even some travel at the end of February/March to the west coast. In about another week and a half I will be revisiting my fitness goals and workouts with the Crossfit coach to see how to proceed from here.

I have a couple openings for personalized virtual Spanish lessons (http://rompiendolasbarreras.com/learn-spanish/), which can be scaled to any level, even if the student has no Spanish experience. I've revamped my lessons time frames and rates- so there are opportunities from a one hour lesson, two lessons (one hour per week), four lessons (one hour per week), or even 12 lessons (1 hour per week). Let me know if you are interested!

2015 In Review & 2016 Goals

This year has been a huge one for me. I've done so many new and out of the box things.

Here are some of my accomplishments:

Co-hosted a toga party with my roomies in MD- Lena and Xavier to ring in 2015
Went backpacking in the winter (not new, just not something most people do in MD)
Went caving for the first time
Went out for a couple of girls' nights with the Navy wives crew (Lena, Cassandra, Katie, Katalin)- first time at Vera's Beach Club
Sang and danced with the lead singer of No Green Jelly Beanz  to "Shut Up and Dance" back when no one else at Vera's knew that song
Did a Whole30 (my 5th one)
Threw an "Anything But Clothes" party with my roomies in MD- I wore a trash bag/duct tape dress
Supported Andrew and Aramis while they through hiked the entire Applachian Trail from GA to Maine, visiting several times
Hiked portions of the AT including part of the Approach Trail in GA and part of it in TN
Had lunch with Andrew's entire family before his brother Chris and wife Manu moved to CA from TN and before we moved from MD to CO. Also there was his Dad, his other brother Donnie and family. It's unusual to have all the Schubauer's together like that!
Took my first solo road trip- after dropping Andrew off in GA, went to FL, then SC, then NC, then home
Stayed in a hostel for the first time in Tampa, FL, then hostelled in Charleston, twice in Washington DC with friends, and also in Dominican Republic
Camped by myself for the first time in FL
Stayed with several people I had only met once or never met at all except online through the Nerd Fitness community (Ginny, Jon, Sam)
Hosted several nerds
Got my first tattoo- the color session took almost 4 hours
Got my second tattoo
Got my belly button pierced on the bottom, it subsequently ripped out leaving scar tissue. Probably all the burpees and pushups in Crossfit did not help.
Joined Crossfit
Competed in my first powerlifting competition, tied for 3rd out of all women (to be fair, we were not ranked by weight class, otherwise the results probably would have been different)- got 2 PRs- bench 100 pounds, deadlift 240
Learned how to lift weights- deadlift, overhead press, push press, snatch, clean, jerk, bench press, incline bench, front squat, back squat, thrusters, etc
Went to a comedy show in DC with Alejandro and one of his friends
Took an uber for the first time
Took another self defense course
Organized several Nerd Fitness meetups in DC and MD
Travelled to CT with Ginny after having only met her twice and stayed with Sam, who we had never met- it was awesome
Saw Eva Longoria in NYC with Faith
Celebrated Faith's bday by singing karaoke at a nice Korean restaurant with her friends
Attended Hillsong NYC church
Spent Easter hiking in TN with Amy and Ben- super fun
Picked up Kimmy and Emily from the Branch Ave metro station and went to dinner together in PG County after having never met them before- convinced Kimmy to come to Camp Nerd Fitness
Took a crazy long weekend trip leaving on a Thursday night after work and driving all the way to VT. Slept a few hours, drove to Ben and Jerry's factory tour, met with Amanda for the first time for dinner in NH, drove to Mass. to stay with Jackie. Met Jon for the first time at Armsby Abbey and went playing in the rocks in Purgatory Chasm on Saturday. Drove to Rhode Island and home Sunday. Got pulled over when I was almost home by a cop that looked like the cute guy from OITNB for a tail light out in Waldorf.
Did a photo shoot with Matt for my new Spanish business
Started my second business at age 25 teaching Spanish conversation lessons online
Learned to windsurf
Went to see Thunder from Down Under with friends including Ginny
Took an arm flex picture with one of the guys from Thunder from Down Under
Got a group together for a color run 5k- we named our team "The Bitch Pack" and I was the Head Bitch
Went to Bobby McKey's dueling piano bar
Stayed by myself overnight with a guy I wasn't dating (thanks for being a great guy Jon), after we went to the gym and he coached me to a 200 pound deadlift (more than my body weight) after I had only been lifting weights about a month
Went in a hot air balloon (I'm afraid of heights)
Went hiking in Shenandoah National Park with Ezra (had never met him before)
Took our last annual trip to Water Country USA
Met up with Chelsea my high school friend
Completed a family tree quilt embroidery project
 Attended Camp Nerd Fitness 2015, saw all my close friends again that I met last year!
Worked 4 jobs
started working virtually for Kate Marolt
closed my pet sitting business that I had for almost 4 years
Quit my job with the county government that I had worked for 3.5 years
Moved across the country to a state I had never been to before, with only what we could fit in our two cars including all 4 dogs. Got sick on the drive but made it in 4 days anyway
Travelled to Maine
Lived in an airbnb in CO
Worked fully virtually from home
Spent 4 days hiking below the rim of the Grand Canyon immediately after moving across the country
Helped Kate put on a yoga retreat in VT, cooked almost all paleo food for all 7 of us
Stayed in Mass. for a week with Jon, got super toned arms from all the upper body work we did- did a bro WOD at CF Worcester
Visited Cape Cod for the first time
Flew to Dominican Republic with Noel simply because tickets were cheap and why not?
Went out to a bar with random people from the hostel in Santo Domingo
Travelled across the country on bus to another hostel where transportation was unknown and not arranged in advance
Rode a horse through the countryside, made new friends, spoke Spanish
Invited random people from a hostel in DC to karaoke with me and friends, they came and it was awesome
Met some friends randomly in CO and went snowshoeing with them and hiking
Spent Halloween in Salem Mass with friends
Went to an abandoned house in DR and climbed onto the roof at night and star gazed with new friends- saw shooting stars
Caught a ride on the back of motorcycles with restaurant employees into town and danced at a bar/discoteca. Riding on the back of the motorcycle under the stars out in the country that night felt like true freedom.
Bought my own health insurance (reluctantly)
Joined a yoga studio for the first time
Attended a Camp Gladiator workout
Bought a ticket to a Harry Potter play in London in September 2016
Tried an immersion tank for the first time
Learned how to make a good protein shake, had to change my diet to accomodate more protein and whole food carbs as I upped my exercise
Did a 6 month online bootcamp- Strong Inside Out
Did Intermittent Fasting 8/16 ish for several months
Learned how to add greens to a shake without it being nasty
Paid off my credit cards!!!!
Visited all states on the east coast, most of them more than once
Went skiing for the first time
Phew! It's been a busy year. I may have forgotten some things, but those are some of the main ones. I have some awesome friends and friendships that have evolved this year!

Goals for 2016:
Get my first Spanish speaking client to learn English
Try aerial yoga/silks
Sign up for Wholly Shift
switch the dogs back to a raw meat diet
Continue studying Spanish- textbooks, workbooks, DuoLingo, podcasts
volunteer
do another power lifting competition
Fitness goals: 340 pound deadlift, 200 pound bench press, 245 back squat, do a handstand, 1 strict pullup
join some meetup groups
Continue doing the following: work from home, grow my business, go to church, do yoga and meditate, meal prep, cook healthy food for the majority of my meals, read, color, catch up on my long movie list, walk the dogs twice daily, take them to the dog park regularly, brush them and their teeth daily
Visit Shanghai
Organize a large group trip to Hawaii (in progress)
Attend CNF16
Go camping with my best friend Travis in Kansas
Visit WY
Help Kate run a few more retreats
Travel to London and Europe, including Spain
possibly some other trips that are in the works....we shall see


How I Minimize Stress Over the Holidays

The holidays can be a super stressful time for many. Fortunately, I've found a couple ways to keep the stress down. These are things that work for me, and may not apply to other people's situations, but I find that the more I share about our new holiday traditions, the more positive feedback I get.

  • In the past few years, I've requested that friends and family don't get me anything for my birthday (2 weeks before Christmas). If they want to get me a card, or just wish me a happy birthday, that's more than enough. If they really feel the need to get me something, I'd be just as happy if they donate to a charitable cause of their choice.
  • Andrew and I don't exchange gifts. Occasionally we will get each other something small randomly, but for the holidays and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, we both agreed that it is far too easy for gift giving to get out of hand and that's not the point. So we will usually just do something that we enjoy together- either go for a hike with the dogs, go to the dog park, relax and watch tv/movies together, or just whatever we feel like that day. We like to do a nice meal, which could be as simple as a rotisserie chicken and veggies and maybe a baked good or canned cinnamon rolls (which we recently realized we can cook in the electric skillet!!).
  • We keep our decorations to a minimum. First of all, we live in an airbnb on the basement floor, so there's not a lot of space to decorate to begin with. Second of all, we are pretty minimalist so we don't really keep decorations and stuff all year. So, for right now, our decorations consist of one strand of white lights that I got for a couple dollars at Walmart, a couple dollar Christmas stocking for the dogs that has a bag of treats, three small toys, and a couple of bully sticks inside, and a couple of holiday candles, plus the cards friends have sent us.  Festive, but nothing over the top. As Christmas approaches, I may buy a small potted live Christmas tree (the ones that are like 1-2 foot tall that you can plant outside after the holidays). We have done this in the past, but they don't do so great inside, so it's best to get them within a week before Christmas so that afterwards you can plant or place them outside right away to give them their best chance at survival. If I get one, I'll wrap the lights around it.
  • I do still enjoy sending out photo Christmas cards with some of the highlights from the year. This year, the featured photos include Andrew slumped over the sign at Mt. Katahdin at the end of his 2200 mile Appalachian Trail thru hike, me on the beach in Dominican Republic, both of us and all 3 dogs on a hotel bed during a visit in PA on his thru hike, and us holding hands with our backpacks on overlooking the Grand Canyon (we spent 4 days hiking below the rim). I absolutely love the Christmas season and this is one of my favorite ways to spread cheer to loved ones.
  • The few gifts I got this year were just for my brother, his girlfriend, and my parents. For the last few years we have created Amazon wish lists and we each purchase one book for each other. So we each get a few books that we want to read, which is inexpensive but still personal. Since they live in Washington, my parents live in MD, and I now live in CO, we can have them gift wrapped and shipped to their homes. My brother, his girlfriend, and I all went in on an order of holiday flowers for our Grandma and a holiday wreath for my Grandpa (my last two living Grandparents- one lives in MD and the other in PA).
  • The past few years I have not participated in holiday gift swaps with work or other organizations that I am involved with. Instead, I've watched and enjoyed the festivity. It's still fun as an onlooker, and cuts down on the stress of the holidays significantly. Several of these gift exchanges can get stressful!

HUGE NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just like the last few posts, there is just so much going on in my life right now, it's hard to even get it all written down.

When you read this, I will have put in my notice at work with the County government. My last day will be September 25. I'll be closing the Planning chapter of my life, after 3.5 years with the Department of Land Use and Growth Management.

I will also have notified all my pet sitting clients that I will be retiring from pet sitting at the end of September. I've been a pet sitter for just over 3.5 years, and been in the professional pet care industry for the last 10 years. I really enjoy working with animals, and enjoyed the duration of my business. I've decided to retire from pet sitting because it is very time consuming, due to the nature of multiple visits per day at different clients' homes. I definitely enjoy the time with the animals, but it really restricts my free time when I have several morning pet sit visits of 45 minutes-1 hour, a few lunch time visits, a few dinner time visits, and a few bed time visits on a busy weekend day. Even though I still have several hours to myself, I can't really go anywhere or do anything, or if I do choose to go it is at the expense of lost business and customers. I've decided to pursue something more location independent, which will allow me to pursue my goal of travelling often and having lots of adventures.

Currently, I have four jobs. So those two will be ending. The third job is working as an assistant for Kate Marolt who is awesome. I do a lot of behind the scenes work for Kate and her yoga/personal coaching business (which doesn't even come close to describing the work she does, you really need to visit her website or meet her to get a feel for what she does), like helping with social media, email newsletters, appointment scheduling, and such. I'll be stepping into a larger role with Kate this fall, helping with retreats and community management, which is very exciting.

My fourth and newest job is teaching conversational Spanish and English virtually. My new business is a culmination of my passion for Spanish which has developed over the years since I started learning the language at 12 years of age, combined with a vision for a different way of teaching Spanish and English- a practical, conversational language learning rather than a grammar based approach. I'm really excited about the way this business is coming together, and I'm really enjoying the work I have already done teaching languages virtually, and I'm looking forward to turning this into a business I can support myself on.

The reason for all this change is that ANDREW AND I ARE MOVING TO COLORADO IN OCTOBER!!!!! Specifically, we are moving to Fort Collins. Andrew wants to enroll as a transfer student in Colorado State University's outdoor education/leadership program and use his GI bill to get a 4 year degree.

So we have a lot of changes coming, between finding housing, getting everything coordinated for the move, getting school set up, and everything else going on! We are driving out there with only whatever we can fit in our two cars (no furniture) and our 3 dogs. We don't have much right now, but we definitely have some downsizing to do before the move. I've lived in Southern MD my whole life, so it's going to be an adventure moving across the country to a place neither of us have ever been before, but we're up for it! I'll miss my family and friends and the familiar areas, but at the same time, I'm excited to be a nobody, and to start my new life full of adventures. We're really looking forward to be able to go hiking or backpacking any time, rather than having to drive several hours and get up really early for a weekend trip.

In addition, I'll be doing some travelling this fall. Right before we move, we are both attending Camp Nerd Fitness! Then after we drive across the country with the dogs to CO, we are heading down to AZ and doing a 4 day hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with our friend Matt. We will return to CO, and then shortly after that I will be heading to VT to help Kate put on a retreat. After VT, I'll be spending time time with friends in New England for about a week, then Noel and I are going to Dominican Republic! Because why not?! I'll be there for 11 days which will be awesome. Then I'll be back home to CO to get settled in with Andrew!

You Might Be An Athlete If....

I never really thought of myself as atheletic, but I have been working out for the past 6 months now consistently, so that probably counts for something! Here are some realizations I've had recently. You may be an athlete if...

1) You have protein powder and/or protein bars in your pantry. And especially if you have them at work.

2) You know what a foam roller is and how to use it. Hurts so good....

3) You know what carb cycling is.

4) You know what Intermittent Fasting is and you can tell someone right off the bat what your fasting window is

5) You track your macro nutrients.

6) You know how many grams of protein you should be consuming each day.

7) You budget your "treats/cheats" for special occasions and know how many you can have and when.

8) You have "before" progress photos.

9) You only let yourself weigh in every X amount of time to prevent obsession but also to track your progress.

10) You have an idea what your body fat percentage is.

11) You know what things like WOD, HIIT, and burpees are.

12) You batch cook your food or at least cook the majority of your food from scratch.

13) You take really good care of your hands, including callous removal and moisturizing.

14) You know what chalk is used for at the gym.

15) You know how important mobility is, in addition to strength.

Do You Believe In Magic?

This post has been brewing for a while. There's so much change going on in my life right now, so it's been hard for me to post because I'm not sure what direction this blog is going to take! So for right now, it's just a chance for me to get my thoughts out.

The biggest change is that Andrew is home!!! He finished all 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail and returned home in one piece. Such a huge accomplishment and I'm super proud of him! So we are trying to settle in and find a balance with our routines and habits and such, since this is really the first time we have lived together.

Other than that, I started Crossfit at the end of June. I am really loving it. I'm seeing a lot of progress so far, and I'm hooked. As they say, I "drank the Kool-aid." I worked out with my good friend Jon this weekend when I stayed with him on my way north to pick up Andrew in Maine, and he coached me on my deadlift. I worked up to one rep max of 200 pounds! That's more than my body weight and much more than I have ever lifted before. It's amazing how much mindset plays into fitness- I like to not think about the amount of weight I am lifting and simply do a rep or two, see how it feels and how the form is, and if it is good, then add some more weight and repeat. At the end when I max out then I add up the weight.

I also started a "magic journal" where I record anything that seems unusual or interesting. Since I've been recording things in my magic journal (the last week or so) I've noticed more and more things that could be considered coincidences. Unless you believe in magic, then they would be magical.

  • There have been a lot of occurrences of wildlife. I live in a rural area and I have plenty of pets and pet sitting clients, so it's not unusual to see lots of animals. But some of these instances were are bit unusual- deer in the middle of a developed neighborhood, a hundred or so crickets springing up as I walk, a black cat right in the middle of a driveway when I go to park, a squirrel running along my office window even though the forest is a good ways away, and getting a few feet away from a groundhog after leaving Crossfit yoga. It means something, but I'm not sure what. This is one of the reasons I am keeping my magic journal, because these things will make sense in the long term/big picture even if they don't now.
  • My best friend Travis and I have been connected. Like saying the same thing at exactly the same time connected. Lucky to have a great friend like him, as well as my accountability buddy for fitness and clean eating. We have similar goals, which is awesome.
  • I went to my first olympic powerlifting class and one of the coaches, Christi, was wearing the same shirt and same color shorts as I was ("Act like a lady, lift like a boss- from our Crossfit gym) and hot pink shorts. Then I went to a pet sit and went to the post office to mail something. When I got out of my car at the post office, she was getting out of her car, too. Coincidence?
  • There have been a lot of things that just worked out nicely: a pet sitting client cancelled exactly when I could use that extra hour in the sun at the beach with Laura, I locked my keys in my car when my car was at home and I didn't need to drive it until the next day, plus my car insurance covered a locksmith, I backed into a truck on my way home from Maine and there was literally no damage to either car, a Spanish convo client cancelled exactly on the day I hadn't had a chance to finish the lesson plan, etc.
  • I was driving home from work one day and thinking about Andrew's brother Chris and his wife Manu. Just then, a car drove by me with a TN license plate from the exact county where they used to live until a few months ago. And here I am driving in MD. What are the chances?
  • I was driving to my second or third pet sitting visit one afternoon after work, and as I pulled out onto a main highway I saw a red jeep with a skull and crossbones license plate cover approaching in the next lane. I rolled down my window, and sure enough, it was Andrew's old roommate Scott, whom I hadn't seen since January and I didn't even know if he was still in the area! So we said hi as we drove along side each other briefly.
  • Just when I was noticing all the animals above and pondering what it could mean, I stopped by my parents house and they had picked a book out of their collection to share with me called "Nature-Speak" about natural omens.
  • I was messaging my friend Judi who said she was going for a walk. I told her to take a picture and send it to me. Normally, she doesn't carry her phone with her on a walk, but she did to take a picture. While on her walk, she found a lost dog and was able to call the number on it's dog tag to connect it with the owner.
  • There have been several good connections with animals recently, other than my own. Two dogs I hadn't watched in about 3 years remembered me, several cats that the owners claimed never go to strangers or take a while to warm up warmed up to me right away.
So, what do you make of all these things? Magic? Coincidence? Not big deal?

I'd love to hear your insights or if you have had anything similar happen!