Factory Reset

I’m angry at myself right now, truly.

I’ve been toggling between shock and disbelief, but somehow, my phone factory reset itself, and I failed to back up all of my Europe pictures. I’ve tried everything and I’ve asked everyone who could logically help, and, nothing.

This is one of the only full-size pictures I have left of my time in Scotland.

Scotland

It’s gorgeous, right? The perspective! The framing! The color… this is not filtered, people! I love this photo. I’m proud of this photo. I fell in love with SO many of the pictures that I obsessively took during this trip. And now, they’re “in the wind” according to my good friends at Verizon. I only have this one because I managed to send it to a friend last month before my phone self-destructed. Continue reading

New York to London

One of my favorite things about our trip to Great Britain was all of the political conversations I had with my new friends from all over the world. I felt like I’d heard plenty of perspectives on American politics here in the states, but hearing how other countries talked about our education system, gun violence, and healthcare was a really fascinating point of discussion.

I especially loved talking about top political issues in other countries. It was humbling, for one thing, because I realized that even in my own attempts to diversify my media sources there were so many things I didn’t know much about, like the Philippines newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has being called “the Donald Trump of the East,” how English is a national language in Hong Kong (and how you definitely do not equate Hong Kong with China), and then, the many reasons for and against Brexit: Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. And to think that I had so many real political conversations with new friends – FRIENDS – who live in each of these places over a span of a week. It’s such a privilege.

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Great Britain Adventure | 2016

I’ve wanted to travel to Europe forever.

I’ve dreamed of visiting England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany. Backpacking. Exploring. I’d hoped to study abroad in college, or find a summer job overseas, but that didn’t happen.

There’s always been an obstacle: lack of money or lack of vacation days. But in January, when Bret and I talked through some our hopes for 2016, we returned to our Europe dream and asked ourselves IF NOT NOW, WHEN?! So I did some research, found a reasonable tour, and booked it.

Passport

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Boone Life: Good, Familiar

Yesterday morning, after snacking on a couple Snickerdoodle cookies from our gathering the night before, I made a bowl of fruit salad: watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries drizzled with syrup made from sugar, water, and oranges. I put on a blue cotton dress and a flannel shirt, and Bret made me stand outside to make sure I wouldn’t freeze since it was only 44 degrees outside. In May. Surprisingly, I didn’t freeze! I’m acclimating.

We got in the car, and drove 20 minutes to our friends’ house. Ten minutes of that drive were spent driving up, up, up a narrow mountain road. As usual, we couldn’t rely on the GPS completely. Something about winding gravel roads on a remote mountain doesn’t scream “priority” to google, I’ve learned. More than once, when trying to navigate home at night from a friend’s house, we’ve been stranded without GPS signal… or phone signal! Thankfully, Bret has an incredible sense of direction.

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Weekend with Vanny

Lately, I’ve been spending my weekends on the road: driving to DC for work, driving to visit family. I don’t mind the hours spent in the car when I’m with Bret. We talk a lot and listen to podcasts and stop for meals at Sheetz and Bojangles. It’s fun!

…But the solo trips can feel long and draining. I recently admitted that maybe I’m stretching myself too thin and pushing my own travel boundaries. If you look at the last two months, I’ve spent WAY MORE weekends on the road than not. And I’m not talking about two hour road trips. I mean, waking up before dawn and spending up to 75% of my waking hours in a car. Maybe I need to practice saying no. Maybe I’m trying to do too much. I’ll reassess that after my next trip to DC later this week, but for now, I wanted to share our craziest recent trip: An 18 hour round-trip drive completed in a giant cargo van in under 36 hours! Continue reading

14 Weeks Without Facebook

You may remember that I de-activated my Facebook account at the beginning of the year.

Facebook_2

It’s been a really healthy change in my life, for the most part. Now that I’ve had some time to step back and zoom out, I realize how much I depended on this site as my source of information about my friends. Now that it’s gone, it’s something that I often forget about. That is, until I miss a friend’s birthday, or realize that I don’t know something that everyone else in the room does because it was posted on Facebook. Continue reading

Three Years of Marriage

Bret and I have been married for three incredible years.

0685_Zawilski

I clearly remember driving up from Florida three years ago and wondering if the snowstorm making it’s way through Virginia was going to prevent our vendors and guests from making it to our wedding. The sky was clear and the sunshine was warm and we just laughed because we knew we were heading into a blizzard. It’s funny what you remember. Continue reading

Running the Disney Princess Half Marathon

So, in case you missed the earlier posts, I registered for my first half marathon last summer, trained for six months, and very much enjoyed my Disney vacation leading up to the race.

…which brings us to RACE DAY! Finally.

Sunday February 21, 2016
We woke up at 3:00AM. I managed to get a decent night’s sleep and even woke up a few minutes before my alarm clock which was a great way to start the day, but I still felt a lot of race day nerves. Continue reading

Disney Half Marathon Vacay

When I signed up to run the Disney Princess half marathon in the middle of winter, I don’t think I realized just how badly I would need an escape from my first winter in Boone. I’d been uncomfortably cold for months. After six months of training, I was so ready for this race and for the four-day Disney vacation that came with it!

Thursday
After waking up at 3:30am (let’s call this a practice wake up call for race day) and driving for 10 hours, we checked in to our hotel. The drive was long, but we didn’t mind. We love Florida. We miss Florida. Driving to Florida felt like a breath of fresh air and sunshine after being trapped in the mountains for nine months. Continue reading

How I trained for my first half marathon

I’ll just begin by saying that running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon was everything I hoped for and more. I truly couldn’t be happier with my results or the experience, and even though I am exhausted and sore and possibly injured, I’m mostly just sad that it’s over. I’m going to share all of the details (AND PICTURES) soon, but first, I wanted to write a blog post about my half marathon training process.

I still can’t thank my friend Brandi enough for convincing me to register for this thing. When she asked me to run 13.1 miles with her – my first half marathon – my immediate thought was, YAY DISNEY WORLD followed quickly by, I don’t know if I can do this. I remember almost saying no. I remember almost signing up for the 10K instead, but I did it. I talked it over with Bret and he was completely encouraging and supportive so I registered for my first half marathon. I committed to running 13.1 miles, and then the training began! Continue reading

Winter in Boone: a new kind of miserable.

Winter is the worst.
Boone is the worst.
Winter in Boone is downright miserable.

Driving around narrow roads with hairpin turns and cliffs is terrifying enough when they AREN’T coated in ice. Working from home is isolating enough WITHOUT giving up on every evening walk because it is always 4 degrees outside. And living on the side of a mountain is suffocating enough BEFORE seeing layers upon layers and layers of barren branches between you and the sky.

Boone you so pretty

This is literally the first thing I see every morning. Good morning, Boone. You so pretty. Continue reading

De-activated: Life after Facebook

A couple weeks ago, I deactivated my facebook account.

de·ac·ti·vate

1. make (something, typically technical equipment or a virus) inactive by disconnecting or destroying it.

“the switch deactivates the alarm”

synonyms:

disable, defuse, disarm, disconnect, inactivate, make inoperative, immobilize, stop, turn off

“don’t forget to deactivate the alarm”

Yes. I needed to disable the virus that is facebook from having a role in my life. I decided to do this for a few reasons.

  1. I needed a break. I needed a timeout. I was in the habit of checking my facebook account way too often. I relied on it too much as a method of communication, but even more as a mindless distraction. I used to sign in to facebook at my dorm room computer once a day. Now, as a 29-year-old adult, I was sliding my thumb over my smart phone app several times an hour. AN HOUR. And for what reason? I needed to break the addiction.
  2. I needed to feel better. Even though I’d say I use facebook with good intentions: to catch up with my friends and see how everyone is doing, I always end up feeling worse than before I looked at it. I can’t explain why that is, really. …I’ll try. I felt isolated and jealous of the tiny pieces of former friends lives that they were choosing to share on the internet… which brings me to the next point.
  3. My Facebook friends are not my friends. I have some good friends who I actually talk to. We talk on the phone and make an effort to spend time together in person. I trust them and I care about them. And then I have facebook friends. Every time I update my facebook status, I’m sharing news with an anonymous audience of 500 people. Sure, I knew each of these individuals at some point in my life: a former classmate; a former co-worker. But the assumption that they are going to see, read, and care about something I post makes me feel entitled, selfish, and lazy. The fact that I may not have personally spoken (or texted, or emailed) with someone in 8 years but I know their dog’s name, where they went on vacation last summer, and what they ate for lunch today is WEIRD. I’m convinced that’s why my 10-year-reunion felt so weird.

So, I’m taking a break, and while I do feel a bit disconnected, I feel a lot better in general. So many of my friends post negative or insensitive things. I’d hidden most of them, but, honestly, that’s taxing. These days, I’m making an effort to write more letters, to text more friends, and to stay in touch on a personal level because I WANT to, not because I feel obligated to be one of the ‘likes’ on a photo you posted.

One thing I hated about facebook is the lack of intimacy. When you wish a friend happy birthday, and you may say something like, “Happy Birthday to one of the most amazing friends and most talented women I know!” …it seems disingenuous to me. Because you aren’t writing this in a birthday card for her to read and hold on to, you’re shouting it to the world along with a collage of pictures of the two of you that scream, LOOK WE ARE FRIENDS AND HERE IS PROOF. That message is not just designed to make your friend feel good, it’s designed to make YOU feel good. And, I know everyone won’t agree with me, but I also think a status like that is designed to to showcase your friendship and status to see how to rates with her other friends. In turn, you’re making everyone else feel a little bit bad, or a little bit left out.

I never *really* thought about this until I listened to a podcast where 12-year-old girls were talking about Instagram rules and expectations for liking and commenting on photos. I still have my Instagram, by the way. I’m not addicted in the same way and I don’t use it in the same way so I think this is okay for me right now, but if that ever changes, it’s going, too.

One more thing. The ONLY thing about I truly miss about facebook is Humans of New York: https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork/

Fortunately, you don’t need a facebook account to view the content. If you have a faceobok account and by some impossible feat have not yet discovered Humans of New York, please go “like” the page. It will brighten your news feed and make you feel things and give you some much needed world perspective in a sea of mindless updates.