What I've Learned in 3 Months of Blogging

31 July 2013
Well, well, here we are. Three months ago, I wrote my very first post on this here blog. I wasn't sure what exactly I was getting myself into, but I had a vision for myself and for this space. The thing about visions, however, is that they never include the awesome stuff that you had no idea about. So today, I want to share with you the three most surprising things I have experienced since I started this blog.

1. Community. When I started out, I had hoped that my words would reach people, and have some sort of impact. What I didn't know was that I would make friends with other bloggers. I have yet to swap phone numbers with a blogger (I wonder who will be first ;) ), but the interactions in comments and on Twitter are often just as meaningful as my interactions with real life friends. I simply love the people I have met through blogging, and I feel like I've finally found my "tribe."

2. Inspiration. I was feeling inspired when I started this blog. I'm not entirely sure when it started, but I think the seed was planted when I watched a documentary about The Secret. Some of it is a bit woo-woo for me (and I'm a spiritual person), but the core message sank in. The Law of Attraction. Manifestation. It has several names, but the principal is that what you focus on is what you will bring into your life. So I decided, from that moment, to focus on the good. Then, one day, the idea for this blog came to mind. My mind exploded with inspiration. So I wrote my first post on May 1 and started reading other blogs through the Every Day in May link-up. And hot damn, have I been inspired by so many bloggers since then. Case in point: my reverse bucket list, inspired by Erika.

3. Love. Above all, love. I truly believe that you get what you give. I have put nothing but love into this blog, and I see it returning to me ten-fold. I was so overwhelmed by the support I received when I posted my body manifesto, something that gave me knots in my stomach when I hit the publish button. It was a moment when I showed the world (or, whomever reads this blog) what I stood for, and that I would love myself fearlessly. And you guys stood right by me. I felt so much love and support from the comments I received, and I treasured each and every one. I'm not ashamed to say that I love you guys.

Fellow bloggers- what surprised you most about blogging when you first started your blog? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Reverse Bucket List, Part 2

30 July 2013
Hi everyone! I'm back today for installment #2 of my reverse bucket list (if you missed the first part, see yesterday's post). Today's post shares some more cherished memories, and this time I even have a few pictures to go with! So grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and enjoy.

31.       Hike in a cave (Ape Cave in Washington)
32.       Tap dance on 42nd Street in New York City
33.       See a Broadway musical (Spamalot, front row, Clay Aiken was in it)
34.       Visit New York City in the Fall (for my birthday, no less!)
35.       Be a Girl Scout
36.       Go camping (a bajillion times)
37.       Sing songs around a campfire (many times at church camp)
38.       Tell scary stories around a campfire (at Girl Scout camp)
39.       Dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean (thank God I did many times before I got Raynaud’s)
40.   Live in France (2x)

41.   Visit chateaux in the Loire Valley
42.   Live with a French Family
43.   Go to Paris (have done in Fall, Winter, and Spring)
44.   Climb the Eiffel Tower (not to the top)
45.   Spend 7 hours in the Louvre
46.   Visit the Musee D’Orsay
47.   Visit the Musee Rodin (swoon)
48.   Ride a train in France (countless times)
49.   Ride a bike in France
50.   Have a picnic in a park in France

51.   Visit Monet’s Garden in Giverny
52.   Visit the palace at Versailles
53.   Go to Normandy
54.   See the Bayeux Tapestry
55.   Attend mass at the abbey of Mont St. Michel
56.   Stay in a B&B
57.   Stay in a hostel
58.   Go to London

59.   See the Queen of England
60.   Visit Westminster Abbey

Well friends, have you done any of these things? Who is the most famous person you've seen up close? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Reverse Bucket List Part 1

29 July 2013
Happy Monday, my friends! Sorry, was that a little too chipper for a Monday morning? Well, I'm hoping to get the week started off right by checking in with last week's Weekly Wishes, and sharing my new wish for this week.

If you recall, last week I wanted to write down my "Reverse Bucket List," as inspired by my blogging buddy, Erika. How did I do?

Oh, I wrote it down, and I got to number 258 and stopped. I am overwhelmed by how many awesome things I have done already in my life. As in, I have nothing to be ashamed for having done all of this by the age of 30.75.

So, since I have 258 things on the list, I will share with you just the first 30 (in honor of my being 30 and all- I like numbers to have reasons).

My Reverse Bucket List, part one:
  1. Ride a horse
  2. Own a pony
  3. Go to Summer Camp
  4. Be an outdoor school counselor
  5. Go to the Statue of Liberty
  6. Go to a renaissance faire
  7.  Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
  8. Swim in Lake Michigan
  9.  Ride a roller coaster at Cedar Point
  10. Visit every park at Disney World (yes, ca. 1995 & 2002)
  11. Work at Disney World
  12. Go to Disneyland
  13.  Ride Thunder Mountain Railroad while fireworks are going off
  14. Ride a speed water slide
  15. Show my pony at the county fair
  16. Drive a miniature horse
  17. Show my miniature horse at the county fair
  18. Show my miniature horse at the state fair
  19. Go on a mission trip
  20.  Go to the Grand Canyon
  21.  Visit Amish Country (in both Ohio and Pennsylvania)
  22.  Go to Cooperstown and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame
  23. Go to Hershey Park
  24. Visit the Walk of Fame in Hollywood
  25. Visit Graumann’s Chinese Theater
  26.  Go to New Orleans
  27.  Play the washboard with a Cajun band in New Orleans
  28.  Visit Pike’s Place Market
  29.   Drive along Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 along the Oregon and California Coasts
  30.   Visit Olympic National Park

      Not bad if I do say so myself! I will try my best to share more from the list in the coming weeks!

     Until then, I have this week's new wish! I'm going to be bold and go out on a limb. I am wishing that I can get myself to go to a networking event and introduce myself to 3 new people. Yikes! The only way to build my confidence is to challenge myself, and I think this is one way to try it!

     So friends, what are your wishes for this week? What is something from your "Reverse Bucket List" that you are particularly proud of? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Fabulous Fridays: July 26

26 July 2013
Happy Friday and T.G.I.F. It's been a strange week with ups and downs, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. I also have fun things to look forward to this weekend, like Yoga Rocks the Park, and the Portland Bloggers Family Picnic. Without any further ado, here are the things that made my week fabulous:

Whiskey tasting at the Highland Games.
I hiked the Wahkeena Trail a second time, and it was simply stunning!

I indulged in my favorite post-hike treat!
I finished reading Rules of Civility, which was nothing short of wonderful.

I wore my favorite Barbie-pink power skirt.

Had a Kentucky Peach at Tasty n Alder with my family.
And to top off my week, I had a lovely picnic in the park after work with a friend. It was one of those evenings (complete with wine and cheese and cake) where we chatted until sundown, and before we knew it, it was almost 10pm.

Well friends, what made your week fabulous? Got any plans for the weekend? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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I Like to Read: Rules of CIvility

25 July 2013
Have you ever read a book that you wanted to crawl inside of? To step into the world within the book, and interact with the characters? Have the words of an author ever tugged at your heart with their truth?

That is how I felt about Rules of Civility. I fell hard for this book- for the setting of 1938 New York City, for the cavalier characters, for the richness and truth of the language. My heart was stirred by this book, and that's not a thing I say lightly.

The last time I recall feeling so enraptured by words was when I discovered the writing of Thomas Hardy. There's a man who can so poetically describe the plight of humanity, his words ringing true even after more than a century. Words have such a pull on me, as I find in them comfort and companionship.

Amor Towles' writing in Rules of Civility reminds me a little bit of The Great Gatsby. Here we have a narrator in her mid-twenties, from lower-middle class New York. She is a fairly ambitious woman who knows what she is capable of. Through her eyes, we see the glitz and grit of New York City. We meet characters with greater ambition than she, who are willing to do anything for higher status. We also meet some frivolous bluebloods who are meandering their way through their twenties without any regard to the future. We see great parties and we see destitution, all of which could be found in the Great Gatsby.

To give you an idea of how the language touched me, I would like to share a few quotes with you:
"Old times, as my father used to say: If you're not careful, they'll gut you like a fish."
This quote comes early in the story, referring to a tinge of regret the narrator, Katey, felt after talking with someone who might otherwise have been a flame.
"You see that thirty-year-old blonde next to Jake? That's his fiancee, Carrie Clapboard. Carrie moved all manner of heaven and earth to get into that chair. And soon she will happily oversee scullery maids and table settings and the reupholstering of antique chairs at three different houses; which is all well and good. But if I were your age, I wouldn't be trying to figure out how to get into Carrie's shoes- I'd be trying to figure out how to get into Jake's."
I loved this little flash of feminism, coming from possibly the most feminist character in the novel. 
"Uncompromising purpose and the search for eternal truth have an unquestionable sex appeal for the young and high-minded; but when a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane- in the cigarette on the stoop or the gingersnap in the bath- she has probably put herself in unnecessary danger. What my father was trying to tell me, as he neared the conclusion of his own course, was that this risk should not be treated lightly: One must be prepared to fight for one's simple pleasure and to defend them against elegance and erudition and all manner of glamorous enticements.                      
In retrospect, my cup of coffee has been the works of Charles Dickens. Admittedly, there's something a little annoying about all those plucky underprivileged kids and the aptly named agents of villainy. But I've come to realize that however blue my circumstances, if after finishing a chapter of a Dickens novel I feel a miss-my-stop-on-the-train sort of compulsion to read on, then everything is probably going to be just fine."
 Who hasn't felt that sort of compulsion while reading? And to put things in such clear perspective, it simply makes me feel that everything is probably going to be just fine.
"The romantic interplay we were having wasn't the real game- it was a modified version of the game. It was a version invented for two friends so that they can get some practice and pass the time divertingly while they wait in the station for their train to arrive."
Here the narrator is comparing one of her dalliances with a game said dalliance had just taught her: honeymoon bridge.
"After meeting someone by chance and throwing off a few sparks, can there be any substance to the feeling that you've known each other your whole lives? After those first few hours of conversation, can you really be sure that your connection is so uncommon that it belongs outside the bounds of time and convention? And if so, won't that someone have just as much capacity to upend as to perfect all your hours that follow?"
 Here Towles captures that spark so well- that feeling that acting upon something could bring you either great joy or deep misery. For personal reasons, this quote really spoke to me, and I'm sure anyone who has ever felt that spark knows the truth behind this quote.

Ultimately, I found this to be a novel full of hope, despite many bittersweet circumstances that occur. The ending was satisfying, and I found myself feeling sorry to close the book at the end, wishing to hold onto the story just a little longer. I am sure this is a book I will re-read, and I will be recommending this to anyone who asks (and some who don't) for a while to come.

What was the last book that you feel head-over-heels for? Do you have any book recommendations? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! 
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How to Meet New Friends

24 July 2013
Raise your hand if you think it is hard to make new friends as an adult. If all of my readers were gathered in a room together, I'm sure you'd look around and see that you're not the only one raising your hand. Let's face it: making new friends after college is hard.

Well, my friends (because I consider my readers to be my friends), you're in luck. Today, I am going to share with you some of my tips for making friends as an adult. I'm not an expert, but I can certainly share with you the experiences I have had and pass on a little bit of what I've learned in the (ahem) 7 years since I have left college.

I met these girls via tip #2. Somehow, I convinced them wearing wigs for incognito karaoke was the best idea ever.
  1. Take up a hobby. Preferably a hobby that includes some kind of group activity. This is not a guaranteed way to make the kind of friends you go to happy hour with, but it is a nice way to spend time doing something you like with like-minded people. I've been taking belly dance classes for 6 years, and while I don't hang out with my belly dance friends outside of class or shows, it's nice to know I will see the same women once a week, and that we all share a love of dance.
  2. Take a class at a local college. This is another one that isn't foolproof, but if you're someone who loves learning, this is a good route to go. If there is a community college in your town, you are likely to meet people of all ages and all walks of life, especially if you take a night class. Want to learn photography? Always wanted to learn how to speak Spanish? Interested in learning about law? Take a class, and while you learn something new, you just might meet a new friend!
  3. Join a Meetup group. Or two. Or ten. I joined Meetup several years ago, and have met some really awesome women my age through different Meetups. My first ever Meetup was a book club, and it started out pretty awkward. But then we all realized we were there for the same reason- we were in need of friends. My most successful Meetups have been the ones I've organized myself- a walking group and a Meetup at Yoga Rocks the Park. By setting up a walking group in a neighborhood I like, I have met women my age who also love going for walks and enjoying the neighborhood. With the yoga group, despite our varying levels of yoginess, the women I met shared an interest in trying new activities. Outside of college, I honestly think this is the best way to make new friends. And no, Meetup is not paying me to say this. But given how much I talk about Meetup, maybe they should? ;)
There you have it- my tips for making new friends as an adult. Do you have any tips you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Getting Out: Wahkeena Trail Take 2

23 July 2013
Remember how I lost all my photos the last time I hiked the Wahkeena Trail? Well, I returned this weekend with my dad and Lucy, and I now have pictures for you to enjoy.

Yay for do-overs. Do you have anything you'd like to do-over? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Weekly Wishes for Confidence: Strength and Pride

22 July 2013

Happy Monday, folks! This week I'm back to check in with last week's weekly wish and to share this week's new wish.

Last week, my goal was to do strength training 3 times during the week. So, how did I do? I failed. I only strength-trained once. My week was so full of activity, the times that I had planned for doing strength training simply got pushed around until I had no time at all. I tried my best, but when it comes down to it, I have a lot of priorities in my life right now. So, I will try to fit in bouts of strength-training when I can, but yoga will have to remain my primary source of strengthening until my schedule lightens up.

This week, I'm going for something a little different. Several weeks ago, my friend Erika wrote an inspiring post about her reverse bucket list. When I read it, I was reminded of a similar (albeit shorter) list that I wrote out around my 30th birthday to remind myself that I have done a lot of amazing things in my life so far. Instead of wallowing in the comparison game, I thought of all the things that I've done that others might be jealous of me for. So this week, I would like to pull out that list and add to it, creating my own sort of reverse bucket list. Next week, I will share with you what I came up with (this may require plunging into the depths of my aging memories).

So friends, have you ever had time get in the way of your good intentions? What do you wish for this week? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Rachel's Guide to Portland: Bamboo Sushi

21 July 2013
How many of you like sushi? I absolutely love it, but I can be a bit picky about it. Here in Portland, we have access to great, fresh seafood, so when it comes to sushi, I want to know that the seafood comes from the best sources.

Enter: Bamboo Sushi. I have only ever visited the NW location, so I can't vouch for the SE location. The NW outpost is rather trendy, but don't let that fool you- it deserves its reputation. It also happens to have an incredible happy hour menu where you can pig out on wine and sushi for an absolute steal!

So, let's get to it. When I arrived Wednesday night, my mom was already seated in the bar and had ordered a very vibrant salad. It was perfect for a hot Summer day- light and bright. I ordered a very nice glass of red for $4, which is a really sweet deal in this town.

After salad, my mom and I ordered the nigiri flight, which included shrimp, albacore, salmon, and tuna. I let my mom have the lighter two while I took the darker fish. I love tuna, and this was some really good stuff. The salmon was great too- none of that fishy taste, which is an indication of less than fresh fish. Both fish simply melted in my mouth. Pure deliciousness.

Next, we had the NW Philly roll, which is a salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber roll fried in tempura batter. Say what now?! Yes. OMG, it it so stinking good. I've ordered it every time I've gone to Bamboo because it is so delectable.

My mom and I ended with the California roll, because we wanted to save room for dessert at Salt & Straw next door. I still ended up rolling out of Bamboo a little more full than I should have, given that I was going to top it all off with ice cream. But the California roll was worth it.

Despite leaving the restaurant feeling full, our tab came out to somewhere around $25, which I think is excellent for happy hour for two! Considering the high quality of the food and wine, it is an absolute steal. If you haven't been, I suggest you go soon, and if you do, would you please bring me along? Thanks.

How do you feel about sushi? Portlanders- have you been to Bamboo Sushi? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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