The 13th Gift: Surviving Loss

This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how  random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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I knew when I signed up to review this book that it might be a bit hard for me to read, I think the one thing that allowed me to actually sign up was the fact that it is based on a true story, I knew there wouldn’t be some unrealistic story line or fairytale ending. That being said, this is hands down one of the best books I have read via my relationship with From Left to Write. If you are feeling a little down with the holiday season approaching, please read this!

In case you are new to the blog, From Left to Write bloggers don’t write traditional reviews, we take a piece of the book we are inspired by and write a post from that theme.

Grief is something that I unfortunately have a decent amount of experience with. My maternal grandfather passed away shortly after the new year when I was very young, and a few months after that, right around Easter, my maternal grandmother also passed. They lived in California and I was in Vermont so while I have some really great memories, I didn’t have a close relationship due to distance.

This past holiday season was incredibly hard for me, it’s no secret that I had a miscarriage last September, but while everyone was getting excited for everything holiday related, I was finding it hard to get off the couch and put up any decorations. I wandered aimlessly through the stores. I bought B any toy he pointed out that he wanted (always a bad idea). My MIL ended up coming and helping with the tree and the decorating, and I didn’t want B to ever have any memories where Christmas didn’t have this magical spirit about it.

IMG_3783I decided I needed to pull myself out of it, I needed to surround myself with loved ones and to make these wonderful memories with my family. While B wouldn’t be getting a sibling, he would be getting involved in these traditions that he could one day help me show to a sibling.

The first was participating in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap (only a few days left to sign up this year). B helped me with the baking, and both he and Nick helped with the taste-testing.

The second was creating trays of cookies for our neighbors. This is something that my neighborhood used to do every holiday season and my sister and I loved it. I knew when I was an adult I wanted to continue this tradition, so I did. Baking makes me happy, delivering delicious treats was my way of passing along that feeling!

The last thing I did was host a cookie swap at my house for my girlfriends (and their kids if they have them). This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I started when B was 5 months old, and I hope to continue for many many years to come.

Although it seems like cookies helped me with my grief, and I will fully admit that I ate entirely to many last holiday season, there was also plenty of time spend with our families and closest friends. Closing myself into my house was not something I should’ve been doing, and I am grateful for the people who made sure I didn’t.

These things didn’t change the fact that I was sad and grieving, but it helped remind me of the important things and people in my life, that they were still here, and while the loss was incredibly hard and sad, there will always be people there for you to pick you up when you are down. Let them pick you up.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

 

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull Concert Series Sponsored by Cricket Wireless

I participated in Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Cricket Wireless. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

It’s no secret that Nick and I love spending our date nights going to concerts. In the past two years we’ve been to Keith Urban, Billy Joel, Matt Nathanson, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, and Jay Z…just to name a few. Each concert experience was a different one, all well done and I had an amazing time, but I really think that going to concerts in the summer is the absolute best, at least in New England! Most outdoor venues have tons of activities, rock climbing, food trucks, basically anything you could think of!

I was pretty excited when I found out the Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull were touring together, but unfortunately I was out-of-town the weekend they were in Boston. Since the tour is being sponsored by Cricket Wireless they are really enhancing the fan experience and by setting up some awesome activations and Cricket Wireless aims to give people something to smile about (#STSA)! Take a look at the activations:

  • Cricket Stage – A 10X20 stage erected at select tour stops where fans can hop up on stage and give their best “headliner” pose. Participants can share their 360 images on their social channels via “share kiosks” around the stage. Photos will be entered into a sweepstakes where a winner and 3 guests will get a trip to the Miami Latin Grammy Street Party. All participants of “The Stage” activation receive Cricket ear buds.
  • VIP Meet & Greet – A backstage VIP area will be set up backstage. Meet&Greet participants will get to meet Pitbull or Enrique and take photos on a Cricket step & repeat.
  • Selfie Station - Mirrors in the ladies room encourage fans to snap selfies and post to their social channels. They can take pictures of all the fun they are having at the concert to share with friends.
  • Ask Enrique – Fans can win a trip to the Pitbull and Enrique tour stop in Atlanta, meet Enrique in person and ask him that burning question they have.
  • Hologram Standee Billboards – Located at high-traffic spots within the activation venues, holograms of Enrique and Pitbull will create completely lifelike images of the musician for concert goes to check out!

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I don’t know about you, but this sounds like an amazing concert and experience to me! Did you get to experience the tour?

Check out more about this concert series and get pumped up on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Stitch Fix #6: September 2014

Disclaimer: Some links are referall links. Not a sponsored post.

Stitch Fix

I was pretty excited to get my first Fall Stitch Fix, I specifically requested the same stylist that I have had the past 3 fixes, while I haven’t kept more than one or two pieces, I felt like the style and fit was on point. I also requested fall type clothing. Leggings, tunics, long sweaters. I also keep requesting a colorful statement necklace that has a long chain, and I ALWAYS request low price points. My previous stylists were always able to do this for at least 4 of the pieces, usually just one was in the $100ish range, if that.

I scheduled my fix for Monday, because I had tons of things going on at the tail end of this week and I just didn’t think I would have time or remember to get the return pieces in the mail. Monday at 5 pm came and I realized not only had I not received my Fix, I hadn’t received the normal email that notified me that it had been shipped. I reached out to customer service and was able to resolve that. Annoying, yes. A deal breaker, no.

My fix came, and I pulled out the note, and usually the notes are long. They explain why the stylist picked the pieces for you, did they see it on your pinterest page, did it meet the requirements you requested, etc… This note stated that Jackie could not be my stylist and listed the 5 pieces, that’s it, very curt. I pulled out the price sheet and the lowest price was $34 and that was a necklace, everything else is over the $50 mark, which was a bit frustrating.

Pixley  – Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace – $34

Pixley Leighton Metal Necklace

Finally, this is the style that I have been asking for, but it is all silver, I wear a lot of clothes that are single colors, I want some fun jewelry to jazz up these items. Also, I feel like this is expensive for a necklace. Returned

Collective Concepts – Ronaldo Graphic Print Lace Detail Tunic – $68

COLLECTIVE CONCEPTS Ronaldo Graphic Print Lace Detail TunicWhen I first saw this on the styling card I thought I was going to hate it, but I love the color scheme and the lace detail on the back. Again with my broad shoulders, it fit and buttoned but there was an awkwardness around my shoulders, and that price, yikes. Returned

Market and Spruce – Xander Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt – $54

MARKET AND SPRUCE Xander Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt

At first I didn’t like this piece, it was like a mullet shirt. Comfy in the front, party in the back. But it was soft, and I think it looks good on me. But I am struggling, I don’t know if I can justify the $54 price tag. HELP! Undecided

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Kut From The Kloth – Danny 5-Pocket Knit Pant – $68

Kut From The Kloth Danny 5-Pocket Knit Pant

I am bummed that I got these, and that they were super skinny and low-rise, not exactly super mom friendly. I tried them on, but I felt like a plumber. Returned

Kensie – Adolfo Faux Leather Elbow Patch Sweater – $98

KENSIE Adolfo Faux Leather Elbow Patch Sweater

I knew that even if I liked this sweater I would not be purchasing, it is just way to expensive, it was also pulling a little, not a good sign. I did find it at Macy’s, same price as above, so I am going to keep an eye on it, because it was super comfortable and it is something I’d like to add to my wardrobe, just at a lower price. Returned

I think I will give it one more go until 2015. I am hoping Jackie will style me again, and I really hope that I will receive a box full of items that I love!

Stitch Fix #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5

What do you think, should I keep the orange sweater? What has been the best thing you’ve received from Stitch Fix?

Dataclysm: How Do We Choose Our Relationships?

This post was inspired by Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, where he analyzes online data to find out that people who prefer beer are more likely to have sex on a first date. Join From Left to Write on October 9th as we discuss Dataclysm. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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I will be honest, I haven’t quite finished this book yet, it is pretty fascinating, even for someone who has never used an online dating website. I think one of the themes that stood out is why we choose our partners, and for the sake of this post, and friends?

Do we choose based on looks, first impressions, etc? I think sometimes that we make our decisions based on what we’ve seen during our lifetime. Do you hang out with a group of people who constantly parties? Maybe that is what you are into, but would you naturally make that decision?

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For me, my life growing up wasn’t super structured, there was a lot of uncertainty, and I can see that in the relationships of my former friends and family. I craved the structure, someone who was comfortable with being settled and not having this really fast-paced lifestyle. To me this is not boring, this is real life.

Sure, we do exciting things and have taken fun trips, but I love the fact that Nick and I can sit at home and watch a movie and have fun. My husband is one of the most sensitive and responsible people I know. For a lot of people that translates to boring, but not for me. I grew up in a chaotic lifestyle, and this is exactly the type of life I want to raise my child in.

I also have chosen my friends to be similar, I don’t like having people who are unreliable in my life, if I can help it. It’s taken quite a few of my adult years to cut out the people who aren’t reliable or supportive. This doesn’t mean that my friends have to be in the same situation as me. Some of these friends are single and have yet to had children, and yet I am closer to them than I was with some friends that are married with children. Now, even though the friends circle is a bit smaller, I have a group of friends that I know I can count on 100%, no matter what the situation is.

Did you choose a partner with a childhood similar to yours or completely different? What about friends, do you keep all your old friends around even if your views aren’t the same?

Weekly Updates: 09/22/14 – 10/05/14

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Monday, September 22 – Cross Training. This was the start of my last week of training before the Zooma Cape Cod race.  I ended up taking the morning Pure Barre class, I know, no one is surprised, but man is it harder getting out of bed early, because it is pitch black out when I get up!

Tuesday, September 23 – 30 Minutes. I took an early morning Pure Barre class followed by a quick walk around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 24 – Cross Training. I ended up cancelling my barre class at last-minute. Some of the medicine I am currently on is making me feel nauseous (no I am not pregnant) and I just could not get out of bed in the morning.

Thursday, September 25 – 30 minutes. I took a Pure Barre class then did my 30 minutes while B was in school.

Friday, September 26 – Rest. For the most part, I took it easy. I did a little bit of running for Feetures, but other than that it was a very relaxing day!

Saturday, September 27 – ZOOMA 10K. Finished :)!

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Sunday, September 28 – Rest. A much needed rest day. I did enough to get my legs moving and the blood flowing, aka walking around the grocery store and outside, but I was definitely sore so I took it easy.

Monday, September 29 – Pure Barre. – I took an early morning class, and I just took it easy. I told the teacher in advance that I would be taking breaks as needed. The seated ab work was definitely the most difficult for me.

Tuesday, September 30 – Pure Barre. I took a late class, really I wanted to keep my body moving, and also get in my 40 classes for the Fit for Fall Challenge!

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Wednesday, October 1 – Rest. I was supposed to go to barre, but again, I wasn’t feeling good, and I just need to learn to listen to my body, not just my brain.

Thursday, October 2 – Pure Barre. My meds were at full force and I regretted that workout a little bit, not because it was a bad workout, but because I was hot flashing, sore and just all around not feeling 100%.

Friday, October 3 – Pure Barre. After going to bed super early, I hit the morning class, and even though I wasn’t feeling on my A game, I wasn’t feeling as bad as I was the day before. This was class #89 for me. Only 11 classes until I get those 100 classes and sign the bar!

Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5 – Rest. We decided to spend the weekend with some family, and I decided to take some rest days from classes.

FOOD

So, some updates. I was getting some blood work done and I tested positive for Celiac, aka Gluten, this is a disease, it is not trendy it is a lifestyle change, 100%. It caught me off guard, for sure. I re-tested, and I tested negative on the second test. However the test is scaled, 0-3 is a negative, 4-10 is a positive. My positive was at a 5, and my negative was at a 3. Unfortunately, in order to take these tests you have to eat gluten, and I don’t eat a ton of it anyway. I am going to re-test, just to be 100% sure since I do have some rare markers of Celiac. That is why things in the food department have been wonky.

How was your week in workouts?

The Fitness Games App Review

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by The Fitness Games through their partnership with Fit Approach. I was not compensated monetarily, but was provided the Platinum Version of the application for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

TFGapp.comI have gone through a ton of workout apps on my phone, or even apps that just encourage a healthier lifestyle, like Lose It! and a water tracking app, I even have my own app that was done with my husband. To say I am experienced in this arena is probably an understatement. I like trying out new apps, I can appreciate both sides of the business when it comes to this stuff.

The Fitness Games is an app that tracks your workouts in real-time and then you can compete with other users.

First step: Download the app (iOS or Android) and make a profile!

Profile Example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will say that the directions on how to make things private were confusing and only showed up once, there was no way to find them again. I ended up emailing the guys that created this app and adding them as a friend to make sure what I wanted private was private. They were incredibly fast with their response, but it would be nice if the directions were easily accessible.

2. Start tracking workouts

TFGWorkouts

It was incredibly easy to find your workout or input it if the workout wasn’t already listed.

3. Challenge others to a workout!

Running Outdoor ChallengeYou can choose different types of workouts for challenges

Full Body Workout Example

4. Join the Facebook Group to get to know other users and to get daily motivation!

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Overall, I like the idea of the app. I think it is a great way to interact with others and motivate them, without sharing your run details or gym location for the crazy stalker types out there. There are also over 250 exercises with videos, pictures, and descriptions performed by nationally certified personal trainers. I do wish that you could let it run in the background while using it. I also wish that you were able to do Cardio workouts before upgrading. Since the app is free there are in app purchases. While I don’t have a problem shelling out my own money for apps, I want to know more details of how the app works before that happens.

What’s your favorite Fitness App?