Category Archives: Celebrations

Have A Low-Key 4th (or Friends, Fries, and Fireworks)

Since the 4th of July party I usually go to was on the 1st, I had the 4th of July free. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do that day, but I knew I was going to enjoy having an extra day off. So many holidays are on Mondays (or have fallen on a Sunday) so I don’t get an extra day off that often. It’s a real treat when there is an extra day that I can relax and have fun.

I figured I’d try to go and see fireworks somewhere, but I really didn’t have a plan. For the last several years, I’ve pretty much gone to Chris and Marie’s party. But I used to go to other events before. About 4 years ago I went to the fireworks show in Studio City. And for a few years before that I went to the show in Culver City. But with my friends living all over LA, I wasn’t quite sure where I would end up this year.

I texted some friends to see who was interested in going to a show and most people either had plans or didn’t feel like driving in holiday traffic. I don’t blame them because I didn’t want to drive that far and usually I have plans. But fortunately my friend Grace (she works for the podcast with me and also goes to OTF) had no plans and was up for coming to my side of town! So after she had some acting work to do, she headed over and we went to the Culver City fireworks show.

The Culver City show used to be at Culver City High School, where I used to be a substitute teacher. I was pretty familiar with the school and we watched the fireworks from the football field which was pretty fun. But since the last time I went to the show, they moved from doing the show at the high school to West LA College (a community college in Culver City). It’s still pretty close to my house, so it didn’t take us too long to get there.

The seating is on the grass of some of the sports fields there (I think it was the soccer and softball fields) and most people bring blankets and chairs to sit on. I had a big beach blanket that stays in my car, so I grabbed that for us to sit on. The gates opened at 4pm and we got there around 7 so a lot of the field was already claimed by other people. But we didn’t need too much room for 2 of us and found a spot that seemed pretty good. Since fireworks go up high, I wasn’t too worried about being very close. And I wasn’t expecting to see the show that was on the stage before the fireworks (I think it was just different musical acts).

It was pretty awesome getting to hang out with Grace. We’ve gotten to hang out a bunch lately and she is so awesome! She’s pretty new to LA still so I’m always sharing random LA advice with her. But she’s been kicking butt considering she’s still new to town! I wasn’t doing that much for my career when I moved here, but then again I was focused on college then. But it’s awesome to be friends with someone who is super motivated because that motivates me to do more.

There were a bunch of food trucks there to buy food and Grace went on a food run while I held down our blanket. It took her a while because of the crowds, but I didn’t mind because there was some really great people watching. It’s such an interesting crowd that goes to this fireworks show. It’s not the typically LA event and it really has a small-town feel to it for being in the middle of a major city. I loved seeing all the families having fun and the kids acting like kids and not being jaded by the world.

Grace ended up getting us some french fries and they were so good! They were so good that I forgot to get a photo of them before we ate them! It was the perfect treat to have while we waited for it to get dark for the fireworks to start. I had looked at what time sunset would be, but the show had to start much later (closer to 9pm).

In the past, I’ve always been impressed by this fireworks show. For being a smaller show, it’s one of the longer shows. And this year was no different. It was about 20 minutes of fireworks to lots of different songs. We couldn’t really hear the songs because all the speakers were placed close to the stage, but it didn’t matter. Seeing the fireworks is still awesome and exactly what I wanted to do for the 4th of July.

After the show was done, Grace headed out to get an Uber home while I headed back to my car. Taking an Uber would probably have been the better option because the parking garage was a total mess trying to leave. I didn’t even move my car from the parking spot for about an hour. It took me almost so long to get out of there, but once I was out of the garage it was only a few minutes to get back home.

It was a low-key 4th of July, but it had all the elements of what I wanted to do that day. I’m glad that I got to do exactly what I wanted to do that day and it was a nice way to have a day off before getting back to all the craziness of my life.

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4th Of July On The 1st (or Another Awesome Party With Friends)

With 4th of July being on a Tuesday this year, I was pretty sure that the party I usually go to for the 4th wasn’t going to be on Tuesday. I wasn’t sure what day it would be, but when I found out it was on Saturday I wasn’t surprised. So Marie and Chris decided to make their party Celebrate the 4th on the 1st and it was perfect!

The party started in the last afternoon which worked out really well for me. I had the goal setting workshop until about 2pm and went to the party pretty soon after everyone left the workshop. I had every intention of making Drunk Fruit like I have in the past, but that didn’t end up happening this year. I don’t know what happened, but before I knew it it was Friday night and I hadn’t gotten any of the stuff I would need to make it. I felt bad that I didn’t bring it, but I did bring some sparkling lemonade so I wasn’t totally empty handed when I arrived (although not bringing anything is ok too).

It was the usual crowd at the party and that was exactly what I was hoping for. I had missed the Memorial Day party so I hadn’t seen a lot of people since the Oscars party. Even though I had told many people about my tumors shrinking, most of them hadn’t seen me since I got the news. So a lot of people wanted to hear the entire story and know more about what the plan is now. I wish I had more to say about the plan besides we are waiting for another MRI in the fall, but I think everyone was just happy that I didn’t have to have surgery back in April and that things are looking positive for me.

Most of the time I was at the party, I was just socializing and hanging out with everyone. I did get some food since it was a BBQ and there is always amazing food there. I tried not to think too much about how much I was eating because I didn’t want to stress out about it. But I know I did overeat a bit (I felt it the next day) but since it was a rare occasion I tried to be ok with that.

A lot of the socializing was about online dating since I’m not the only person having random adventures because of it. Everyone seems to think I have the craziest stories, but I think everyone else has some epic ones too. And we were showing off the random people we’ve been matching with on various apps and doing some swiping together as a group on each other’s profiles. It’s nice to know that my friends are having the same experiences as me on online dating since sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m doing something wrong. But clearly it’s not just me.

But the one thing I had to make sure to do while I was at the party was the traditional photo that I take with some of my friends. It all started a few years ago when we ran through the sprinklers and we’ve recreated the photo each year since. We haven’t had the sprinklers on for the other years, but I think having to pretend is what makes the photo so funny. This year, one member of our group was out-of-town so we couldn’t have the exact same photo. But we left a space for her and I think our photo looks pretty amazing!

And I think that the photo looks pretty great in the series that we’ve got going so far.

I love that we’ve been able to keep this tradition up and I know we are all looking forward to adding more and more photos each year.

Since it was a few days before the 4th, we didn’t really expect too much as far as fireworks go. There were some random fireworks from time to time, but nothing like we’ve seen in the past. Some people did go up on the roof to watch, but I was wearing shoes that would not have been safe to go up a ladder in. So I stuck with staying on the ground and I didn’t really see any of the few fireworks that went off. But that was ok since I was planning on going to see fireworks another time.

I stayed at the party pretty late (at least pretty late for me) and was starting to feel tired so I knew I needed to head home. It’s not a horrible drive home, but it’s not the closest place and I know that sometimes there are sobriety checkpoints on the way home. So I wanted to leave at a decent hour. But I was at the party for  long enough to get to see all my friends and have a great time. There’s nothing more that I could ask for at a party.

Going Out Because I Blog (or What Came First?)

I’m getting close to my blog’s 5 year anniversary and that’s so crazy to me! I’m at almost 1300 posts and I’ve been able to be consistent with the posts since I started almost 5 years ago. And maybe it’s because of the upcoming anniversary or my consistency that has made a lot of people come to me recently about my blog and how I do it. It’s funny because I still feel like I need to ask others for advice and now people are coming to me for advice.

I still consider myself a small time blogger since I’m not out doing the crazy events that so many bloggers get invited to. I don’t have thousands of readers every day and I’m not making that much money off of my blog (I think in total I’ve made around $100). But maybe me being a small blogger has made me more approachable? I’m not sure. But because so many people have helped me in my journey, I’m more than happy to help anyone who comes to me. It’s all about paying it forward to me.

The number one thing that people have been asking me is how to start a blog. And my only advice is to just start. I knew I was going to start this blog for a while before I wrote my first post. I was terrified about what to write and if anyone would care to read what I have to say. I’m so glad that you all do care about what I have to say because it helps me feel more confident about putting myself out there. I wish now that I had started it when I got everything set up instead of waiting. The sooner you start blogging the sooner you feel comfortable about blogging.

And the other thing that people ask me about all the time is how I come up with ideas to write about. And this isn’t really an easy one. There are a bunch of days that I have nothing to write about and it takes forever to think of what I could possibly have to say. And when my editorial calendar is empty, I get worried that I won’t know how to fill it. It does make it easier now that I do my fitness recaps on Mondays and I’ve got some ongoing posts like my monthly challenges. But as an example, next week the only post I know I’ll be writing will be my Monday workout recap. I have no clue what I’m going to write about the rest of the week.

But I recently posted something I got through Shine Text that was so relevant about blogging for me.

When I saw that in Shine Text, it got me to reflect on things. But instead of things being for novelty, they are because I know they will make a good blog post. When I get invited to an event and my editorial calendar is empty I feel like I have to go. I know I’ll need something to blog about and going to an event is the perfect way to be inspired. And I’m so lucky that in LA there are so many fun events that I am able to go to. It’s still tough sometimes for me to make the time to go to events, but I’m working on it.

I have become a more social and outgoing person and it is partially because of this blog. But I don’t know if I became more social and then got the courage to blog or if I felt like I had to start blogging and then I had to start finding things to blog about. I’m not sure what came first, but I’m so glad that I have both things in my life.

I’m so much more well-rounded now and I’ve found new things that I love because I took a chance with going to an event. I’ve become really gutsy in trying new things and those new things bring other new things to me. It’s a cycle of awesome for me and I never knew that this would make me so happy.

Coming up on a big blogging anniversary does give me time to reflect on things. But I probably wouldn’t have thought as much about how I’m doing more now if I hadn’t seen that message in Shine Text and if friends hadn’t been asking me about blogging. Sometimes things come your way because you need them. I’ve been in a bit of a blogging slump (sorry in advance for any boring posts in the next week or two) and this just reminded me on how far I’ve come from 5 years ago when I was terrified to write my very first post.

Celebrating At Orangetheory (or 3 Years Down)

I didn’t realize this going into this past week of workouts, but this week was my 3 year anniversary at Orangetheory! It’s so crazy to think how 3 years ago I had my first class that was so tough I could barely walk the next day. I’ve come so far in those 3 years and I’m just so grateful that I was given the opportunity 3 years ago to try a class. I never thought I could fall in love with a workout so much, but here I am 3 years later loving things more and more and wanting to push myself further and harder.

Monday’s workout was a 3G because it was a holiday. Holiday workouts are always like that, so I was prepared going into class that it would be a 3 group workout. I started on the treadmill and it essentially was a 15 minute run for distance. It really was more like run 1.5 miles, walk, and then run more; but I knew that I couldn’t do 1.5 miles in 15 minutes so I looked at it as 15 minutes for distance. I had never run for 15 minutes before, but I’ve done close to that so I figured I should go for it and see what happens.

I did the first 12 minutes at 4.5 mph and tried to kind of go into my head and just think about anything other than running. I went through my schedule in my head and did some blog post planning and just kept running. Then for the last 3 minutes I was bumping up the speed a little bit each minute just because I wanted to see how far I could get. I didn’t really have a real goal in my head for how far I wanted to go, but I figured 1.125 miles sounded nice to me. And of course because of how stubborn I am, I was able to do more than that and ran the entire 15 minutes without stopping! Sorry for the blurry picture, I was so out of breath at the end of the run!

Next, I went to the rower where we had a 2,000 meter row. We don’t have 2,000 meter rows that often, but I do have them when I do the Dri-Tri so I’ve done them a few times. I was not expecting to PR on the row since my PR was during the Dri-Tri when the rowing was first so I wasn’t tired. All I wanted to do was row the entire time without taking a break. And I wanted to see if I could be under 9 minutes. Those seemed like good goals considering I had just come off of a 15 minute run.

Again, I just tried to get into my head and think of anything other than the rower. I was daydreaming and just trying to keep a steady rhythm on the rower. It was tough not to go really hard at the beginning since I do that a lot on my sprint rowing. But I started slower than I’m used to and was able to stay pretty steady the entire time. I didn’t take a break, did it under 9 minutes, and I was only 12 seconds slower than my PR! That was totally unexpected!

The floor work that day was pretty varied and I focused more on form than anything else since I was so tired from the running and rowing. We had chest presses, deadlifts, pullovers, strap work, and plank work. By the time class was done, I was feeling on top of the world from all the awesome work I did!

Wednesday’s workout was a power day. Every block was 4.5 minutes long so I decided to challenge myself to run everything including my base paces. With the blocks being so short, I would only have to run for 4.5 minutes at a time before having a walking recovery. It would be more running than I’m used to, but the length of each run wouldn’t be too bad. I used my normal push pace speed to be my base pace and only increased the speed about .2 mph to be my push pace. That’s not as much of a difference as you are supposed to have, but I didn’t think I could do much more and still come back down to a run. It wasn’t easy to not have the walks that I’m used to, but this was a good test for me with intervals for 5K training. Maybe I can do 4 minutes running/1 minute walking next time?

The floor was also 4.5 minute blocks and each block had 2 moves in it so it went pretty quickly. We had lots of chest and plank work in those mini-blocks and we had rowing in the last block. It was a 100 meter row and I wanted to see if I could PR. I had thought that my PR at the time was 17.4 seconds so I wanted to beat that. I did the rows in 17.6 and 17.5 seconds and was a bit upset about that. But then when I looked at my rowing record tracking, it looks like my old PR was 17.6 seconds so it looks like I did PR after all! I’m not as good at tracking my rowing records as I am with my treadmill ones (mainly because I don’t always have my phone with me to take photos on the rower) but I’m working on getting better at that so I can focus on those records now too.

Friday’s workout was an endurance day where we didn’t switch between blocks. I didn’t try to do anything too crazy with my running since I had 2 very run heavy days already. The entire workout on the treadmill was basically 90 second pushes with bases in-between. The bases were between 30 seconds and 2 minutes and I did walk then for each one. I kept my pushes at my normal speed but worked really hard to sprint for the all out paces that we had (I got up to 6.7 mph). In the 29 minutes we were on the treadmill I got 1.95 miles done. So I was pretty much at my 2 miles in class target.

The floor work was in 2 blocks and the first block had chest presses and squats which I was able to do with 2 20 pound weights. We also had Spiderman planks and rowing. The rowing was 300 meters and all I wanted to do was be under a minute. My first attempt was 59.7 seconds and my second attempt was 59.2 seconds which was a new PR for me! I’m only able to take a few tenths of a second off of my rowing PRs which is tough for me since I’m used to huge PRs on  the treadmill. But any improvement is a good thing and I’m starting to get used to seeing only minor improvements. The second block was mainly strap work and abs which was a nice break and I was able to slow down my heart rate a bit and just focus on my form.

Saturday’s workout was a strength day and a 3G class. I had decided even before knowing it was a strength day that I would be walking. But it’s always easier for me to walk on strength days. It’s funny how I’m thinking of a day where I only walk as a recovery day compared to even a year ago where my recovery days were on the bike. It’s funny to me how much I’ve changed when I was so sure that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

The treadmill was pretty normal for a strength day. Lots of incline work and I just tried to increase my inclines a bit more than I’m used to. I was doing a lot of my work at 8-12% incline and kept my speed steady at 3.5 mph. I didn’t get my heart rate up as much as I would have liked, but again this was a recovery day and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do as much as I normally do.

After the treadmill my group went to the rower where we had increasing rows with bicep curls on the rower and lunges off of the rower. The first row was 300 meters and I had no goals in my head. I wasn’t even worried about getting it done in under a minute. It ended up being around 1:06 (I’m not totally sure) but that was fine with me. The bicep curls on the rower were a nice recovery and I was able to go really deep with my lunges because I could steady myself on the water tank of the rower. My next row was 350 meters and I don’t really remember what time I did that in. My last row was 400 meters and I had an idea in my head that I want to be able to do this in 1:30. That’s really fast considering not long ago I was doing 300 meters in 1:30. But since it was my last row I went all out and ended up being pretty close to my goal! Now I’ve got something to work toward and I’m excited to see how long it takes me to get those last few seconds off.

On the floor, we had a longer block that had a lot of things that I was able to do with 20 pounds weights (lunges, deadlifts, single arm thrusters) and we also had a bit of plank work. And on the floor we ended with a 3 minute core blast where we had regular crunches, static crunches, toe reaches, leg lifts, and a 1 minute plank hold. That 1 minute plank hold wasn’t too bad, but I think that’s because I’m used to the super long planks from my last monthly challenge. I’m so happy that I’m seeing the results from that challenge in my workouts.

Overall, another amazing 4 workout week for me. I didn’t know it was my OTF anniversary until Thursday, so I think it’s awesome that I was able to accomplish some great challenges and PRs not even knowing that I was celebrating my time at OTF. I’ve accomplished so much in the past 3 years, and even more in just the past year. And I can’t wait to see what my fitness journey will look like in the next 3 years!

1 Year Of Running (or A New Anniversary To Celebrate)

Earlier this month, I was talking to a friend of mine about my running adventures at Orangetheory and in my 5K races. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been doing my running for a long time. In other ways, it seems like I just started last month. And when my friend asked me how long I had been running, I had to think about it. I figured it was close to a year but wasn’t too sure. Fortunately, one of the benefits of this blog is being able to go back and look at when I posted certain things. And by going back to looking at that original running post, I realized my 1 year running anniversary is today!

I still remember that first class when I tried running. Running for 30 seconds seemed like it would be impossible, but I am so stubborn and when I was told to try it I knew I had to go for it. And it shocked me how easy those 30 seconds were for me. I was terrified that it would be painful to run since I was told that it could be with my hip issues. I think maybe I in disbelief about how easy those 30 second running spurts were. And that just got me into making some big plans with my running.

When I started running, things were coming very easily for me. Going from 30 seconds to 45 seconds or to a minute were pretty easy. I was able to get my speed up often without issues. I was on such a high about running and had some great ideas of what I wanted to be able to do. I hadn’t really run since I was a kid, so I had no idea how my body would react to anything and only based my ideas on how easy it was in the beginning.

After a little bit, I definitely hit a wall with my running progress. But I’m very lucky that I have so many running friends and I was able to turn to them for tips and advice. I worked on different stretching, increased my weights at Orangetheory to make me stronger, and planned out some interval training. I started to do my own interval work at Orangetheory instead of just following the coaches. But since all my coaches knew I was working on running, they were all very supportive and didn’t mind that I wasn’t following the standard workout.

Then I started to hit some huge milestones. I was able to run a 1/4 mile. I was able to run on inclines. I took a running class. I was able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. I ran for 10 minutes without stopping. I ran for a mile without stopping! I think running a mile without stopping is still something that shocks me and I’m so proud I hit that milestone.

I also started doing running on my own outside of my workouts. I got a running watch and did my own interval training work. I met up with friends to do running interval training and didn’t let me bug me that they were doing so much more than I could do. I focused on my own training and my own path and didn’t compare myself to others.

Even though I did all this work, I still questioned how my first attempt at a run/walk 5K would go. I had never done run/walk intervals for that long and I wasn’t sure my body would be able to take it. But I think between being stubborn and the adrenaline I get on race days, I was not only able to do it but I beat my big goal I had for how fast I wanted to do a 5K!

Then when I got to my second 5K as a run/walk, I was increasing my intervals and had hills to deal with. I hadn’t done as much running training as I had the first time (due to all my medical stuff) so I tried to not set any goals for myself. I knew the combination of all those differences meant that I might not be able to do better than my last time even though I was running more. That race was more of a struggle than the first one, mainly because of the hills. But I had to be flexible and willing to change my running plan. And by doing that (and probably again because I’m stubborn), I was able to PR at my race!

Now, I’m feeling more and more comfortable with my running. I’ve hit a few walls lately, but I think a lot of that has to do with other health issues. I’m running for pretty decent stretches at Orangetheory and I’m trying to plan what my goals are going to be coming up. I also may be meeting with a running coach soon to discuss a training plan and what may be possible for me in the long run (no pun intended). I’m also toying with the idea of trying to do a 10K for the first time, but that won’t be happening too soon since I need to do some training for that.

To think that I’ve come this far in just one year of running is insane to me! I never thought I’d be able to do most of what I’m doing now. And sometimes I do wish that I had tried running sooner because I’d be farther along now. But I can’t look back and wish I had done things differently. I can only work on moving forward and continuing to improve myself.

So here’s to my first full year of running! I never knew I’d get here, so I can’t even imagine where I’ll be when I’m celebrating my 2nd running anniversary!

The Bodyguard and Bone Marrow (or An Amazing Dinner At Wood & Vine)

This past Sunday was another Pantages night out for me and my season ticket group. Normally I write about the dinner first and show second (as that’s the order that we do things), but I’m changing it up a bit. The show that we went to see was “The Bodyguard” and I’ll be honest that we were a bit unsure how we felt about this show before seeing it.

But this was such a fun show! It was explained to us as almost like a Whitney Houston concert with a bit of plot between the songs. And that’s a great description for the show! Deborah Cox is the lead and she was incredible! The songs were so much fun, the dancing was awesome, and everyone seemed to be dancing in their seats. And if you go to see the show, don’t leave during the curtain call. There is some fun after everyone takes a bow and I’m glad we stayed for it. Even though this was a show we were all unsure of before seeing it, I highly recommend getting tickets for it if you are looking for a fun night out at the theater!

Now, back to our dinner. Our group is always trying to figure out where to get dinner before our shows. We have gone to the same few places multiple times and when I was at the LA Times Festival of Books I went to the Pantages booth and grabbed one of their restaurant guides. I sent a photo of it to the group and we decided to check out Wood & Vine. Wood & Vine is right across from the theater and I have no clue why we hadn’t been there before. But trust me, we will be making many return trips there now!

Only 3 of us from the group could go to dinner, and since it is all shared plates we got a bunch of things for us to all share. We started with some olives which were perfect and then ordered a few things that sounded good to most of us. Michelle and Dani wanted the Brussels sprouts and I figured I’d try it. I hate them but I try to try foods that I think I hate at least twice a year. These were good, but there is still something about Brussels sprouts that I don’t think I will like (sorry Wood & Vine). But I think Michelle and Dani were happy I didn’t like them because they wanted them all to themselves!

Dani and I also split the mac and cheese which was so perfect! It was nice and creamy and the cracker crust on it was a nice crunch. And we also got the scallops and pork belly (scallops were something that I didn’t like until recently and started to like after forcing myself to try them) and I think we were all in heaven eating them.

But for us, even just looking at the menu, we were most looking forward to the bone marrow. My grandpa loved bone marrow and I actually had some at a Tone It Up dinner the night that he died. But I hadn’t really had an opportunity to order it since then. So to get it at Wood & Vine was exactly what I wanted. And when the plate came to our table, we were not disappointed. It looked incredible!

There are no words to describe how delicious this was. It was heaven on a plate and even just writing about it is making me crave it again!

The entire time that we were at Wood & Vine, the staff was just so nice to us. We got to chat a bit with the manager (he was the one who described the show as a Whitney Houston concert to us) and it was just wonderful and friendly there. And while we were eating we were looking so happy and they were telling us to save room for dessert. We figured they were talking about the bone marrow since that was the last thing that was coming to the table. We thought that was the perfect “dessert” for us and when we were done eating our table was full of empty plates where the amazing food had been.

But then, the chocolate pot de creme was brought over to our table. We thought it was a mistake but the staff let us know that they actually ordered dessert for us on the house! We were thanking them and then the other two desserts from the menu, butterscotch with bourbon ice cream and an apple fry pie, appeared on our table too! We couldn’t believe that they got us all 3 desserts from the menu on the house!

We were full, but of course there is a separate part of your stomach for dessert so we all dug in. And the desserts did not disappoint! They were all decadent and delicious and at that time the last member of our group, Elisa, got there and we offered to share the desserts with her too. We were not planning on dessert (we might have ordered a bit less if we knew we were getting it), but it was a fabulous end to an incredible meal. And to have the restaurant give us the desserts on the house to make sure we could try them is above and beyond what I would ever expect from a restaurant!

We’ve already decided as a group that when we go to see “Hamilton” in about 3 months that we will be returning to Wood & Vine. It is really one of the best restaurants that I’ve gone to and there are so many other things on the menu that I want to try now. And of course, we’ve joked that we are going to order at least 2 plates of bone marrow to split between the 4 of us. And I have a feeling that we will be going there for a lot of our pre-show dinners for our shows next season as well.

Usually my nights out at the Pantages are more about the show than our pre-show dinner. But because of how amazing the food and staff at Wood & Vine were, this time the food was totally the highlight of the evening and has raised the bar on what we expect out of our pre-show dinners! Thank you Wood & Vine for your hospitality, awesome Broadway show discussion, and the desserts you gave us!

I’m Celebrating (or Healing My Soul At Disneyland)

Like I said in my post about my new monthly challenge, I’m working on reconnecting with myself since my medical miracle. And I think it comes as no surprise that one way I wanted to get back to normal is to go to Disneyland! I was so sad when I was there the last time thinking that it was almost like a goodbye to the parks. So this time I was celebrating coming back to the parks and not having surgery!

Of course, since it was a celebration about my liver, I had to wear my liver shirt. I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll have to wear it, so I have to take advantage of each time that I can.

I went with Michelle and Lauren and all 3 of us were in agreement that we wanted to just have a fun day at Disneyland. There was nothing that we really felt like we had to do, so we decided to take our time and get on one of the Main Street vehicles to get down toward the castle. As we entered the park, the fire truck was getting ready to go so we hopped on board and enjoyed not having to walk through all the crowds.

We heard that the regular Space Mountain is coming back soon we wanted to go on HyperSpace Mountain to enjoy the ride while it was still here. Again, I tried to get my shirt in the photo but I think I just have to accept that this is a tough shirt to read on ride photos.

Right after riding that ride, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. It took me by surprise, but I realized that being at Disneyland was healing my soul. I’ve been working on getting back to being me and not thinking of the surgery and tumors but it’s been something in the back of my mind for so long now. And when the surgery was cancelled it was so weird that this feeling didn’t go away. I didn’t know what would make me feel like me again and I guess Disneyland was what I needed. When we were done with that ride I turned to Michelle and said that I thought that my soul was just healed. It’s so weird that this is what I needed but I’m so glad that it was! I feel so much better now and I was happy to get on with the rest of my day and enjoy Disneyland!

Our next stop was to get lunch and we had made reservations at one of the sit down restaurants in New Orleans Square. We wanted to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves and it was awesome sitting in the shade (it was a hot and sunny day) and having some good food. I got a steak sandwich which was the special they had and it was delicious!

And since it was so hot out, I was convinced to go on Splash Mountain. I don’t like water rides and I haven’t been on Splash Mountain in a long time, but it seemed like the perfect thing to go on that day. Lauren and Michelle told me that sitting in the back was where I had the lowest chance of getting soaked and I trusted them and hoped for the best.

And they were right! I got a bit wet, but nothing too horrible. And Lauren gave me some great tips on how to keep my shoes from getting soaked (I hate having wet shoes for the rest of the day). We tried to do a “hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil” photo, but itls a bit tough to see us with how we were sitting.

After Splash Mountain we decided to do the other New Orleans Square rides that we love and went on Haunted Mansion and Pirates Of The Caribbean (Johnny Depp was not performing live on the ride that day). And then we headed back to Tomorrowland for another ride on HyperSpace Mountain.

That may be the last time I ride it as HyperSpace Mountain (unless they bring it back again another time), but it was a great ride that time and I was pretty happy knowing it might be the last time on that version of the ride.

And of course, since Michelle and I have a year-long battle on Buzz Lightyear happening right now, we had to go on that. Michelle is catching up to me so I need to work on improving my game!

It was about rush hour then so we decided to do a few more rides before leaving. And then Lauren surprised me with a button that she had gotten from a Cast Member after we went on Buzz Lightyear.

I was so touched that she got that for me! We are new friends and the only other time she was at Disneyland with us was when it was thought to be my last trip before surgery. And when we met up this time she was so excited to be able to celebrate me not having surgery. It’s fun being able to celebrate this (and I keep celebrating since I keep seeing different people) and getting an “I’m Celebrating” button was just awesome!

Our next to last ride was Small World. I don’t usually go on Small World, but the line wasn’t too bad and it is a fun one to go on. I know that many people didn’t like when they added Disney characters into the ride, but I like it and think they blend in pretty nicely. And I love seeing the topiaries in the front of the ride and how pretty it looks on the outside.

And for the final ride of the day, we went on another one that I don’t do too often: The Matterhorn. I think the last time I went on it was with my parents. I love the yeti on the ride, but it’s such a bumpy ride and I always seem to hurt after it.

But we all agreed we would go on it and it would be the last ride of the day so if we hurt too much that we would be able to go home right after. I think that the ride cars have been changed since the last time I went on it because they felt more padded than I’m used to. But I was still worried about how I would feel after the ride was done.

And as I expected, I loved the ride except how bumpy it was. It wasn’t as bad as before, but still not something that I would want to do every time I’m at Disneyland. But I’m glad I rode on it and now I can wait another year or so before doing it again.

Considering that we got to the parks at about 1pm and had a sit down lunch, I think we got so much done in our day! The benefit of being a pass holder is not needing to rush around to do everything and I love that we can just have fun and not stress about getting in too many rides. But somehow we did get in a bunch and that made the day even better!

And having my soul healed by Disneyland (or whatever you want to call it) really was an added bonus. I wasn’t expecting that at all but looking back at it I think it makes sense. While I’ve been working on getting back to normal life to feel normal, Disneyland is a big part of my life and going there does give me a sense of normalcy. I feel like I can move on and focus on doing everything that I was doing before and not thinking about my next MRI and the possibility of needing surgery in the future. I want to have fun now and enjoy life and that’s exactly what my day at Disneyland accomplished!

 

Celebrating Not Having Surgery (or Getting To Have Some Family Time)

Today was supposed to be my surgery day. I had planned out blog posts to write while I was going to be in the hospital and how to document my recovery the best way possible. I think I’m still in a bit of shock that the surgery was cancelled and that I’m not going to have to worry about all of that right now. There is still a chance I will be having surgery in the future, but unless something crazy happens soon it won’t be for at least another 6 months or so.

My entire family did so much planning to make sure that they would be able to help me as much as possible through surgery and recovery. While most of my family wasn’t going to be able to be in LA with me, my parents made plans to come to LA for a week to help me get through everything. My parents have come to LA in the past to take care of me after I’ve had surgeries, so I expected that they would do the same this time. But I’m still aware how lucky I am that my parents have the ability to come here to help me out when I need it.

Since the surgery was cancelled, a lot of things have changed but one thing hasn’t. My parents are still going to be in LA with me for the week. I don’t think my parents have ever spent a week with me in LA outside of taking care of me after a surgery, so this will be pretty cool. We are slowly filling our calendar with some fun things that we’ve been wanting to do so we can enjoy this weeklong hangout. I’m going to take a few days off of work since I banked so many hours so I can spend a lot of time with them. But I’ll also be working a little bit as well so I still have some hours saved if I need them in the future.

I think it will be pretty great getting to have this week with my parents here. Normally when they are in LA, they are only here for a day or so and we are pretty busy doing things. They haven’t really met any of my LA friends. But now, they will have a chance to meet all the people I hang out with (and blog about) while they are here. I think it will be pretty cool to get to have everyone meet each other. And my dad is going to join me for an Orangetheory workout too! He usually only does the Thanksgiving workouts, so this will be a nice bonus for him.

I will also be going to San Diego with my parents to visit my grandma. I won’t be in San Diego as long as originally planned (since I won’t be recovering with my parents and I want to work a bit), but I will get to spend a nice weekend with them. It will be much more relaxing this way than it would have been if I was in pain from surgery.

I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you who prayed for my tumors to shrink or put some awesome tumor shrinking thoughts out there. Since I shared the news that my surgery was cancelled, I got so many amazing messages on social media and emails telling me congratulations and how they were so happy for me. I’m so grateful that you all care about me and my health and that you were as excited about my news as I was!

While I won’t be blogging about surgery or recovery now, I’m glad I’ll have much more interesting things to share with you all in the coming weeks. I’m working on getting my social calendar filled up again since I was planning on taking time off. And so far, the things I think will be coming up are going to be so much fun and just a continuation of celebrating not needing surgery today!

Podcast Nerd (or Celebrating At NPR)

After I found out I wasn’t going to have surgery, so many of my friends asked me how I was going to celebrate the news. So many people asked if I was going to go out to dinner or something, but I already had plans that night. I was going to NPR West! And for a total podcast nerd like me, this was the perfect way to celebrate!

I can’t talk too many specifics about what I got to see at NPR West, but I can explain a little bit. I listen to dozens of podcasts and I follow many of them on social media. One of those podcasts, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, posted on their Facebook page that there was a new podcast being workshopped and they needed an audience to be there. This workshop was actually supposed to be at the beginning of the month but got postponed until the 11th (which is when I got the good news). And I signed up as soon as I heard about it because I have never had the chance to see an NPR podcast done live before!

My friend AJ (who is one of the hosts of the podcast I work for) came with me and he is probably almost as much of a podcast/NPR nerd as I am. And when we were outside the studio building, we were both in awe. It’s something I’ve gone by dozens of times because it’s near my house, but I’ve never been lucky enough to go inside.

We waited outside to get checked in for the workshop and once we were allowed inside I was totally geeking out. This was so incredibly cool and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there. We got some pretty great seats for the workshop, but the studio space was so intimate that every seat was amazing and up close to the action.

Because this was a workshop of a new podcast that may or may not happen, we were told we aren’t allowed to say much about it online. But I can tell you that I was laughing so hard that I was crying and that it was one of the coolest things I’ve been able to see in a while. I have a feeling this will become a podcast and when it does I know I’ll want to get tickets to be in the audience again. It really was the best way to celebrate a day that had such great news!

After the workshop was done, AJ and I were still geeking out about everything at NPR. We wanted to see what type of recording equipment they have because one day we will hopefully be able to upgrade our podcast to have similar equipment. And while we were checking out everything, one of the AV guys from NPR asked us if we were interested in learning more about NPR. Without any hesitation we said yes, and we ended up getting a private tour of the NPR studios!

I’m sure I sound like a total nerd, but this was seriously so amazing! We got to go into different recording studios to see where different NPR podcasts are recorded, see the main newsroom area, and learn about how NPR West works along with the other NPR offices to make sure that everything is up and running smoothly. I knew that being at NPR would be incredible, but I had no idea how awesome it was going to be and how much I was going to get to experience. I know that AJ and I were so lucky that we were able to go on the tour of the studios and that this really was just one of those opportunities where we were in the right place at the right time talking to the right person.

Once our tour was done, AJ and I headed back out to go to our cars. But I think we both were still on cloud nine geeking out over everything that happened that night. Getting to be in the audience for the podcast workshop would have been enough of a celebration for me, but getting that tour was above and beyond what I expected I would get to do that night. I’m sure that going to NPR as a celebration isn’t right for everyone, but it really was the perfect night for me to top off a day that was already incredible!

Not Drinking At A Bar (or A Birthday Party At Neat)

After doing my 5K race (and getting almost no sleep that night), I was ready to be at my house the rest of the day and being pretty lazy. When I got home around 11am after the race, that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I showered and got into comfortable clothes and then pretty much didn’t move from my couch for several hours. But I did have to move eventually because one of my workout friends was having a birthday party that night!

I don’t get to see many of my Orangetheory friends outside of workouts. Even though I really enjoy hanging out with them at the workouts, we don’t always get to socialize outside of class. So when I get a chance to see someone in normal clothes, I totally take advantage of that! And since they don’t usually see me in something other than workout clothes with my hair in a top knot, I decided to make a bit more effort than normal in picking my outfit.

I don’t usually wear red, but the theme of the party was to wear something red and I found that belt on Amazon. The way I dressed was pretty different from what I’m used to, but I was feeling pretty confident and now I’m looking at ways to dress more like that more often!

I was a little nervous going to the party since the only person I would know there was the birthday girl. I’m a bit shy in situations like that and always feel so awkward going up to people I don’t know to join in on a conversation. But thankfully, my friend was awesome and was introducing me to a bunch of people that night. She knew that I didn’t know anyone else there and I appreciate the effort she made to make sure everyone was having fun and not feeling left out!

The party was held at a new bar called Neat. In full disclosure, the manager is the brother of a friend of mine (who I hadn’t met until that night), but I have to say that this is such an amazing bar! I don’t have a ton of bars that I love because so many bars in LA are either super fancy or are just too showy. I like being able to go somewhere and not stress too much about how I’m dressed or if I’m making a good impression on others. That’s one reason why I also love Bodega Wine Bar. But to find a bar like that is tough to find and it seems like when I find one they end up closing down.

But Neat was pretty awesome. There was a semi-private space in the back that was reserved for the birthday party that still was a part of the action. And in the main room most of the tables are on the edges of the room so there is a lot of space in the room that makes it not feel too crowded. There were a ton of people there, but since I didn’t have to keep going around chairs or tables it didn’t feel that bad.

And they do have a pretty epic drink menu too! I would have loved to have tried a drink or two, but I can’t really drink right now. But that didn’t matter since the staff at Neat was so cool. I talked to my friend’s brother and he asked me what sort of flavors I liked. I told him I liked citrus and then he got to work. I don’t know everything that he used in my drink, but there was some lime in it and before I knew it I had a custom non-alcoholic drink just for me!

It was so nice to have a festive drink at the party since it can feel a bit weird only ordering water at a bar. But I felt like I was included in the fun because I had a drink that I really liked! It was pretty tasty and reminded me a bit of a margarita. Even when I can drink again, I would totally consider getting this again because it was so nice and refreshing.

I really had a great time at the party, but I was getting pretty exhausted right after the birthday cake was brought out. I had been up so long that day and my legs were starting to feel a bit like cement. It’s not easy to wear heels a few hours after doing a 5K race! So I decided that it was time for me to go home and get some needed rest.

I’m so glad that I went to the party. Not only is it fun to get to see someone outside of Orangetheory and get to meet new friends, I got to check out a bar that I have a feeling I’ll be going to from now on. It’s always great to find new places in LA that I love because I do get stuck in ruts from time to time. But I busted out of that rut at this party and now I’m excited to get to go back to Neat again in the future!