I am not sure many people know this, but I am absolutely terrified of flying. I think the fear developed right after TWA Flight 800 crashed off the south shore of Long Island in ’96. The image of Newsday’s front cover with the mangled plane still kind of haunts me, and was one of the first moments in my eight young years I realized that we humans are vulnerable to tragedy.
I’ve never had a really bad experience flying, and fly often enough that I’m not a total newb. Oddly (and luckily) my fear doesn’t stop me from getting on a plane, either. But after taking four flights over the long weekend, I realized the thoughts that go through my head are pretty crazy. SO, I would like to invite you into my fear-induced brain, if just for a few moments. And maybe I’ll learn that I’m not alone?
(side note: I am completely aware that my thoughts are irrational and that flying is extremely, extremely safe.)
Things that scare the crap out of me.
The noises. I interpret every noise to be one that means “something’s wrong.” I have also decided that due to my flying once every few months, I can understand a plane’s erratic beeping and moaning better than any flight attendant or pilot. And when I’m sitting in the back and I hear something “suspicious,” I can only assume the pilot up front can’t hear it, and it’s up to me to tell him and save everybody’s life.
Flying through clouds. If we’re so advanced that we can get a machine that weighs hundreds of thousands of pounds to just float in the air, clearly we can find a way to avoid the stupid rain clouds that make the ride super bumpy and induce severe panic.
Turbulence. I don’t care that turbulence is a “comfort issue, not a safety issue,” because something feels really abnormal when you’re high in the sky and the plane is bouncing around.
The seatbelt sign. When that stupid seatbelt sign turns on, I want to vomit. What’s even worse is when the sign is on and then is blinked on again. (Clearly this is a plane malfunction, which means only one thing: We’re going down.)
Circling before landing or extended taxi’ing before takeoff. Wasting precious fuel. We could run out!
Things that make me feel better.
Abnormally happy flight attendants. There’s nothing more comforting than a super happy flight attendant who is smiling down the aisle in heels and serving drinks during turbulence. I study their faces to a scary degree, trying to sense any glimpse of discomfort or worry. And I never find it.
People who read newspapers. Are you that dude who continues to read his newspaper while the plane is shaking like crazy? HOW do you do it? And can you show me how, too?
Drugs and alcohol. Together, preferably. I find one Valium and two gin and soda’s usually does the trick, though I prefer flying sober so I don’t feel super groggy and out of it when (and IF) I land.
My mentors. Poor souls who get to sit next to me. I make fast friends, usually warning people ahead of time that I may very well grab their arm or ask them to strike up a conversation with me. On a quick flight from Chicago to Milwaukee, we flew through a storm (WHY) and after a few “fun” drops and shakes, the guy next to me could see I was shaking uncontrollably and decided to tell me all about his favorite players on the Packers. Another dude on my way back kept calling me Natalie for “jokes” because apparently I look like Natalie Dormer, and then proceeded to tell me how he was in a plane crash when was eight. (He did not pass the “good mentor” test.)
Getting a good photo. If I’m going to have a full-fledged panic attack on the plane, might as well get some pretty photos out of it. Here’s one on my way to Oregon, and another from Costa Rica.
I definitely got my fill of adventure in this summer. I hiked the AT (with a bear), hung out with my Grandma in Florida, spent a weekend out east with friends, and juuust got back from a wedding in Greenbay. Some other things of note: buying a bed, naked yoga, Coney Island and lots of park-hopping, spending quality #yolo time with Danielle before she moved to LA, spending time with a new/wonderful roommate, hanging with three too many gentlemen and having a silent panic attack, and lots of chips + guac + gin for dinner.
Still, I couldn’t help but be a little relieved when the calendar flipped to September. As much as I love summer, I feel this weird pressure to havesomuchfunallthetime — to be super social while getting shit done at work, keeping your health in check (aka not chips for dinner) and clocking in a bunch of miles. I can easily kind of hate new york, so I almost need to stay super busy, almost need to forget my summer days are mainly spent in the concrete jungle instead of somewhere else less…city.
With fall, I feel like things settle down a bit. Expectations slow down, the weather cools off, and all the things best about it — changing leaves, pumpkin everything, apple picking, etc — come into full force. So while trying not to re-state the obvious, here’s what I’m looking forward to most this beautiful, beautiful autumn:
I love that it is dark when I wake up. I know that might sound a bit weird, but it’s mainly because my blind broke a few months ago. Instead of trying to fix it, I just deal with the sun waking me up times way too early. So now…I may be able to sleep a little longer, especially on the weekends.
I can finally, truly enjoy hot coffee. I brew coffee every morning, but sometimes it has been less than enjoyable to sip on a piping mug of coffee while the temperature is well into the 90′s outside. Iced coffee just isn’t my thing, so I’m happy to enjoy my hot coffee in slightly better conditions. Speaking of..
I will have a significantly lower electric bill. Stupid AC. I tried to make a rule that I wouldn’t turn on my AC until 11pm, and only if it was “an 8 or higher” on my scale of “what are the chances you will not be able to sleep because it is so hot out.”
Scarves and sweaters. Simply the best. I like being bundled, cozy, layered, and warm.
I can cook without it being 80 bajillion degrees in my apartment. Nothing like roasting some vegetables and having two skillets going and NOT having this significantly lower my mood because of the amount I’m sweating/the amount of clothes I am not wearing.
Mulled wine and hot toddy’s coming back in season. These are two of my favorite things.
Perfect running weather / marathon season. Saved the best (and probably most obvious) for last. I can’t waaaait to start going on longer runs, especially in the morning. And not being confined to the treadmill. And watching everyone start to peak train, taper, and then crush their marathon goals while I #fomo and probably try to register for Boston… (:
I have been feeling pretty emotional lately when it comes to my job. Startups are always one crazy roller coaster, and this summer has been Kingda Ka meets The Cyclone with a little Splash Mountain thrown into the mix. After being at a company for almost two years (!) you experience a lot of change. Visions shift, priorities adjust, and job titles get figured out along the way. Some of my closest co-workers have left which has been anything but easy, while new people have joined the team, continuing to shape and mold the dynamic of our amazing “family.”
I often talk about how much I love my job, because I do. But of course it comes with its fair share of challenges. At startups, you normally take a big salary cut with the belief you’re building something better than a savings account — and that in the end it’ll all be worth it. You care about your work so much that ‘clocking out’ isn’t a real thing, and the stress from work is actually super hard to remove yourself from. There’s risk, there’s uncertainty, and there’s always the notion that “Hey, six months from now things could look a looot different around here.”
Basically, you have to be spontaneous, flexible, and pretty much fearless.
Luckily, everyone on the team embodies these qualities, plus more — which is why it works. And as I’ve been reflecting on my time at Greatist more and more, I am reminded of all of the crazy-amazing good, which far outweighs any of the not-so-good. For starters…
It has given me the opportunity to grow. I came to Greatist without a ton of experience. But I had a desire to learn, to take on challenges, and to simply figure shit out. I used to be intimidated by my lack of experience, but now I’m slowly able to realize what I’ve done over the past two years and how it has dramatically shaped the company. Not many work environments give you the chance (and time!) to learn what you love to do, while giving you the support and resources to let it rip.
It has helped me get stronger and healthier. There is no way I’d be running marathons, nailing new yoga poses, lifting regularly, or swapping whiskey gingers for whiskey sodas if it wasn’t for Greatist. Being in an office where everyone has their own health struggles, challenges, and goals, makes it that much more inspiring to go after mine.
It has helped me learn about all the different sides to a company. I’ve been able to get my hands dirty in almost every aspect of Greatist: from editorial to marketing and PR, and even business and sales. Experiencing that, along with seeing how startup companies raise money, has given me a well-rounded view of this whole “real-life company” thing.
It has given me great friends. Everyone on the team is so, so special – and are people I not only consider my co-workers, but my great friends. This makes going into the office that much more awesome (:
It has given me a job I truly love. Every day I am thankful that I wake up and am not only excited to go to work, but that I get to work on something that truly matters. I don’t think I could ever live a life where I wasn’t happy at my job. And honestly, I don’t get the people who clock out at 5pm and stop caring about what they did for the first eight hours of their day. And luckily, I don’t think I ever have to.
I think there’s a constant travel/adventure clock ticking in my head, and every few months it dwindles down to zero. I need to book a flight, plan another adventure, or take on another challenge. Maybe this is just who I am — and what I’ll do for the rest of my life. Maybe it’s my own personal compromise for living in New York City, a place that I need to escape from every so often. Either way, I just pressed that ‘purchase now’ button on KAYAK.com and experienced that awesome feeling of adrenaline.
In November, I’m going to San Francisco — the city I eventually want to maybe/definitely move to — to stay with one of my nearest and dearest friends, Julie.
We met in Ghana and became fast friends. She is who I’d go running with at 5 am before it got too hot out. We’d drink tea together, hand-wash our clothes together, and talk about the meaning of life together. We soaked in every ounce of the magic that was our experience in Ghana, and spent many mornings and evenings reflecting on some incredibly special moments.
We stayed in touch after we returned back to the States, and then she went into the Peace Corps for two years. She returned this winter, so we were very overdue for a visit. Plus, I mean…she lives in San Fran.
The second best part about all of this is we’re also going on an adventure within an adventure. Jules also loves to run (she just completed her first 50K!!) so we’re signing up for the Stinson Beach Half-Marathon trail race: 13.1 miles of running through the Redwoods (Muir woods to be exact!). Here is the race description which has me LITERALLY beaming:
From the word “Go” you’ll be heading, up, up and away into the thick wooded trails of Muir Woods. You’ll follow the legendary Dipsea trail to Steep Ravine, where you’ll climb a wooden ladder, march up natural rock and wooden staircases and scramble under tree trunks. Along the way, enjoy the sounds of babbling brooks and waterfalls. Drink in the fresh smell of the towering redwoods and oaks that surround you. Your summit will be rewarded with panoramic vistas as you begin your descent back into Stinson Beach.
And I die. I also think getting on my return-flight home will be a real struggle.
See you (kinda) soon, west coast.
PS) “Training” for this half-marathon is TBD…
In the beginning of the summer I was in a huge running rut. A mix of extreme heat and extreme stress left me feeling super out of shape, and also sluggishly slow.
Slowly, though, I’ve been able to bounce back. I’ve gotten back together with my garmin (we broke up for a while) and I’ve found that I’m pretty much running faster than I ever have before. (Minus 10th grade cross-country season, but oh well.) And I’ve realized this: The secret to running faster is similar to the whole ‘stop dieting to lose weight’ theory. Once I stopped trying so hard, things miraculously became easier. Here’s what I did:
Ditched the watch. SERIOUSLY. Getting rid of data, especially when you’re in a rut, is so freeing. Every mile split used to make me feel awesome or awful, depending if I was too fast or too slow. But it also played mind tricks with me — I’d see a faster-than-normal mile split and immediately wait to feel the ‘pain,’ and probably slowed down because of it.
Did what I wanted. Since I’m not sticking to a strict schedule, I can literally do whatever workout I want. And because of this, exercise has become way less of a ‘thing I gotta do to reach X PR’ and more of a paaaaarty. I remembered how much I love spending mornings on the track running 200′s. And that I missed lifting on a regular basis. And that I haven’t really felt the urge to go on long, long runs, and that this is perfectly okay.
Rested more. I’m admittedly bad at taking breaks. But since there is no big *goal* ahead of me (though I am signing up for an awesome running adventure in November – stay tuned!) I’ve found myself literally stopping on runs if I feel like absolute crap. And slowing down has made my legs less heavy and dates with my foam roller (where I’m on the verge of tears) far less frequent. And then the following day I’m usually super refreshed and ready to nail the next workout.
Pushed fearlessly. Similar to resting more, when I feel good, I finally am not afraid to push harder. If I can’t finish an interval, a set, or a circuit — so what? Nothing happens. Nobody’s dying. So I try to go after that ‘next level,’ knowing if I ‘fail,’ or if I’m terribly sore the next day, the world probably won’t end. And usually…I’m able to go way faster, or farther, than I think.
3 x (400,200,200)
South Williamsburg, North 5th Pier
Eastwick; bagel & lox, blood mary
And new adventures.
Brooklyn Boulders, bouldering problems zero & one
(not pictured: watching the hunger games, sleeping in till 11:30, reading this, and killing the 50+ flies that magically showed up in our apartment sunday evening #sad.)
I used to hate critique. I would get super worked up over any negative feedback I received from someone else, automatically taking it personally followed by the good ol “Ughh, I’m the worst.”
I used to get suuuper nervous before getting back papers in college. I’d hand them in confident, but a week later when the professor was rounding the classroom, sifting through the stack of essays and placing them face-down on our desks (walking so, so slowly…) my heart would pound. I’d convince myself I’d receive a red inked D that would, of course, lead to the end of the world.
But it’s as simple as this: Nobody is perfect. Everyone can do better. And if you’re not being critiqued, you’re not going to grow.
(Side note: This post is referring to constructive criticism, not “yousuckyourebad” critique.)
Criticism is a scary thing, but it should also be considered a positive thing. I mean…who doesn’t want to get better? Who doesn’t want to improve, grow, make more meaning, learn, adapt, and become stronger in the process?
The reason it’s so hard to invite critique is because it’s tricky to separate the action from the person. If you did something “wrong,” you’re not wrong. The action was. If your business proposal sucked, your foul shot less than graceful, your homemade mac n’ cheese a disaster, or your paper an actual D, none of these things mean that you, as a person, are wrong. Or flawed. It just means you’re not the best at making mac n’ cheese and free-throws aint your thing. It just means you have more learning to do.
I started to get better at taking critique when I joined a band in 2011. I learned all the music by myself on another coast, met up with four musicians who’d been in sync for years, and took up another instrument on the road (the glockenspiel!) where I wrote my own arrangements in the back of our grease-fueled van. The band had high hopes of ‘making it’ in the music biz, so everything had to be as perfect as possible. I was critiqued constantly. I had to relearn shit, was called out in rehearsal, and sat down to watch live footage of performances and told that a) b) and c) were wrong. And to try to do d) better next time.
For some magical reason, I was fine taking it. And it was because I realized I wasn’t at fault for being “the weakest link.” Heck, it made sense I was making the mistakes I was making, and I would rather people tell me so I could fix it, instead of talking behind my back and grumbling that I wasn’t performing up to par.
The other side of the coin is critiquing yourself when you’re actually not at fault. Many times you’re not given the resources, or the support, or whatever else you need (genes, a dose of good luck, a mulligan?) to get something done, and automatically you point fingers inward — critiquing yourself when in fact, you’re doing your absolute best given the situation, the circumstances, and the environment.
So as hard as it is (and believe me, it’s freakin hard) — try to make friends with critique. Even ask for it! And make sure you look at the whole picture: what could be better and why. Decide what’s in your control to improve upon, and what else you need from others to grow and keep working to be the best you can be.
I probably haven’t run over six miles in…two months? three? (WOAH.) Yet, I can strangely admit that I don’t particularly miss long runs. Blame it on the al-al-co hol (ok, the heat) but I’ve actually enjoyed a variety of other workouts that, for the most part, have made me feel better than any sluggish 10-mile run. Shall we?
I’ve been kind of obsessed with a particular 5-mile treadmill workout. (I know, I have no idea why I’m actually enjoying the treadmill, but I’m going with it). It’s super simple: Start out at 8:20 mile pace, and run each mile 20 seconds faster: 8:20, 8:00, 7:40, 7:20, 7:00. For some reason, paces on the treadmill always feel faster than on the roads, so I want to take this one outside soon and play with starting at 8 mins and going down to 6:40. #shots
Some early mornings or late nights, I try to beat the heat and hang out with my best friend in Williamsburg (McCarren Track). I’ve been digging 200 and 400m repeats, and am always humbled/frustrated how fast (puns!) you can lose speed. I usually turn my watch off since I can go by feel, aand I also know my splits are not nearly as low as I want them.
HIIT Strength training
A friend taught me this 109876554321 workout, and I’m loving it. You basically pick five exercises (push-ups to planks, inchworms, shoulder press, kettlebell swings, froggers, for ie) and do 10 reps of each, then nine, then eight, then seven..all the way down to one. It takes about 20 minutes, and damn it’s tough.
Ok so I went to a barre class once, and I must say I didn’t hate it. The Greatist team went to Pure Barre in Union Square, and while I was forced to do a lot of “tucking” and “pulsing”, along with being reminded that my hamstrings are as tight as fuck, I did get a solid workout out of it.
Ahh, namaste. If you think hot yoga is tough, hot yoga in the summer is a sauna on crack. I don’t know why I love the heat so much — maybe it’s the extra challenge — but it’s almost comical/refreshing how much I sweat. Regardless, yoga is still remaining a staple (naked or not) so I’m glad I’m still getting it in. (Even at home!)
Since I’m not getting my LSD on runs, I’m trying to go on more walks throughout the day just to keep moving. Taking breaks midday to get some air, along with getting a few miles in just walking about, feels good.
PS - This makes me feel like I’m being a fitness crazy person, but I will say that I’m balancing all of this out with a pretty regular consumption of alcohol, and a pretty irregular amount of sleep and a solid dose of stress. It all evens out!
Yesterday was a great day.
I was looking forward to a Saturday where I could just take the day for “me.” I woke up at 11 (world record!) and spent a few hours in bed, drinking coffee, reading, writing, and listening to Savoir Adore, Daft Punk, Paul Simon, and probably Miley Cyrus. Then I got into a crazy cleaning mode, and swept, scrubbed, and dusted every inch of my apartment. (Feels SO good.)
While I was cleaning my room, I came across my day calendar that I keep in the “miscellaneous” corner with my sneakers, candles, and wine bottles. I keep all the paper days I rip off because they’re intstagram photos (cool gift!), and when I picked up all the old pictures, I strangely realized I was holding every single day since January 1st.
Days can seem super long, weeks can fly by, and while I can remember celebrating the ball dropping in a carpeted living room with friends in Brooklyn, I can barely remember the resolutions I half-committed to, or what I did the following morning.
In other words, time is a strange thing to feel.
But in that moment yesterday, I saw that huge stack and squeezed them between my palms, realizing how many days had passed by, and how each of those little pieces of paper represented so many moments: moments to choose happiness, to connect with a stranger, to be honest, to make mistakes, to fear, to love. I became optimistically overwhelmed by what I can only pinpoint as “opportunity.”
In a weird way, I was holding time in my hand, and hopeful that I made the most of all those days — and all the moments enveloped in them.
Last week, I went to naked yoga. And for whatever reason, I wasn’t all that nervous about it. People would say things like “you’re crazy” or “you’re so brave,” and I wanted to be like “dude, it’s just yoga…without clothes. What’s so weird about that?”
Okay. It’s a little weird.
To be fair, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin (and I guess down-dogging with other random strangers). I have no qualms about only working out in a sports bra, since I’ve been doing it since high school track. I sleep naked, shower naked, and sometimes even cook naked. (Ovens = hot enough.) And since yoga is all about connecting with our inner core, and is so mental and spiritual and yogi buzz word buzz word, I thought it would be cool to practice without any physical barriers — rooting to the ground, no clothes included.
However, I started to feel pretty nervous once we got to the studio. It was in a building with eight or so floors, but when we said “Floor 2″ to the doorman, I could only imagine he was thinking “THEY’RE GOING TO THE NAKED CLASS.” Then we reached the studio, and I gawked at every person: “Are they in the class too?” “Will they potentially be staring at my vagina in about ten minutes?” “Will they like my cool bra?” And it all felt..a little weird
I went with two of my co-workers, which supposedly makes things even weirder; there was no way to escape into an abyss of anonymity. The three of us met the teacher, Cindee Rifkin, who immediately made me feel better. She gave us a huge hug, then we walked upstairs to a small studio. There were nine of us in total — four girls and five guys — and after a few minutes of small-talk, Cindee told us to start taking off our clothes in whichever way was most comfortable.
I immediately took everything off, and sitting on my mat, completely naked, I finally felt fine OK — when everyone is in a room…without clothes on…it stops being weird.
Then we all went around to introduce ourselves: “Hi I’m Laura, and I’m naked?” along with saying something that was feeling “off” in our bodies, or simply our world, and how we wanted to go about fixing it. I retracted from “baring it all” on the non-physical side of things, and told the class I had a headache. (To be fair, I was hungover.) Then we went to the first pose.
Of course it Baddha Konasna, aka sitting spread eagle and trying to stretch your hips to the ground. After exposing my vagina to eight other classmates (I feel like I’ve typed vagina more in the last 10 minutes than I have in the last 10 years) we moved to inversions on the wall. From there, we began doing some sun salutations, and then…I had a moment.
We were doing half-moon, a pose I really really love, but have trouble getting into the full expression. On the second side, Cindee came around and told me I was almost there, and I should try to open up a little more and fold my hands at my heart. As soon as I tried to move my arms, I began to lose my balance, so she came over to me. Her naked hip was against mine as her body supported me and led me into the full expression. I had never done it before, and here we were, two strangers and our naked and beautiful bodies next to one another. I was definitely saying “I’m having a moment..I’m having a moment..I’m having a moment” in my head. It was cool.
To be honest, the class itself was not incredibly (physically) challenging. I like faster paced vinyasa classes, and this one was a lot slower with a lot of breath work. And had I been clothed, I probably would have been a tad disappointed and gone straight to the track for 200m repeats. But that really wasn’t the point. The class helped me realize that the way our bodies look shouldn’t be that big of a deal; it’s far less important than what they do for us. I felt strong standing in Warrior II and looking down to see my whole body. This body is what allows me to do this pose, and the one after that, and the one after that. It’s what allows me to run marathons injury free, travel around the world, and have enough energy throughout the day. This body, right here, fuels me. Not a body five pounds lighter, or a body with a six-pack, or a body with crazy calf muscles or bigger breasts (though hey, breasts – can we work on that?). The body I was staring down at, perfect in its imperfections, has and continues to give so much to me. So how could I ever be upset with it?
Perhaps the thing I loved most, though, were the connections we made after class. The one thing I typically don’t like about yoga classes is that everyone tends to seem a little “standoffish.” I always feel weird saying hello to anyone after a class, even when people are so moved they clap afterwards. But once you practice next to people butt naked, holding up a conversation afterwards aint no thang. It was fun talking to the others, most of whom are regulars, and learning why they go. Some are simply curious (aka me), others are working on body issues, and others are nudists simply working on their chair pose.
So – final verdict? Naked yoga was definitely worth experiencing, and helped me realize hangin’ out sans clothing should be something we all do a little more often. As Shana gracefully noted in her article on it for Greatist, “We were still us, just naked.” Exposing yourself doesn’t have to always be sexualized, or taboo, or just plain uncomfortable. It can be freeing and fun, and a good reminder that we’re b-e-a utiful just as we are, and should thank our bare bodies for all the crazy wonderful things they do for us.
Namaste/let me know if you want to go to a class,