New Thing # Oh-who's-counting: Newly Engaged edition

On a brisk, cold walk through Central Park, mere hours before I fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, my longtime love Mark Manderson got down on one knee to propose to me.

Heaven help him.

Sometimes, just weeks after his proposal, I find myself tearing up while driving through traffic when the light catches my ring, or watching movies, or simply staring out my window at work. I can't believe he wants to marry me!

I never anticipated being a 24 year old bride. That seems VERY young to me. I always saw myself standing on my own two feet for a while before finding someone. Focusing on career, then family. Perhaps this is because I didn't have many interested suitors for most of my high school and college years, and that the average age of marriage these days is just rising higher and higher due to the economy, divorce culture and a variety of other reasons.

But just like that, I met Mark in my last month of college, fell madly in love, moved in together after graduation, got a puppy, and got engaged.

"Life never happens how you expect it to," and "life's what happens when you're busy making other plans" seem to be ringing truer than ever these days.

And for that, I'm happy.

Because now that I've found someone who is willing to love me forever, take an interest in all of my day-to-day minutae, fight with me, grow old with me, raise babies with me (though no time soon, my friends!), and all that stuff, the other "is now the right time?" falls away.

And now comes the time to plan the wedding. Having a wedding is the realization of a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Planning a wedding makes me ANXIOUS.

See, I'm disgusted by the whole wedding industry. Mostly that one exists at all. In my mind, a wedding is an intimate union of two people and two families. For some it's a religious experience, too. To current wedding culture, popularlized by TLC shows (Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, Bridezillas etc.) it seems more like "gather everyone you've ever known, even cousins you've never talked to and friends you haven't seen in a decade" to flash how much money you have (or how much debt you're willing to go into) and what a great party you can throw for yourself.

I want our engagement and our wedding to be about Mark and I. About learning how to communicate with each other and love one another for the rest of our lives. About our journey to this point in our lives and about our future as man and wife. About our families who will become relatives with our union. About starting off on the right foot emotionally and financially. About our love for each other. That's some heavy stuff! Cause to celebrate, mais oui! but a much more intimate journey than I want to share with a crowd of 200!

A wedding is a single day of our lives. A marriage and our future family is forever.

I'm in it for the forever.

Leah vs. The Dog

Let me start this off by saying, I, wholly, undoubtedly love my dog. A love like you can't fathom. I'm fairly sure I'm going to love my dog more than I love my future children.

But being left alone with my dog makes me surprisingly uneasy.

Here's the thing. Mark knows how to keep a dog happy and busy with no required effort. He tosses the ball, does tricks and entertains our dog all while watching TV, cooking, showering, repairing furniture, studying for the GMAT, whatever.

When Mark leaves, the dog and I look at each other in this sudden impending, "well, now what?"

The dog doesn't even pick up his toys, knowing I'm skillfully inept at maneuvering them for effective play.

I don't multitask well with the dog.

I can't get anything out of a TV show while I'm peddling tricks and treats for our fair animal friend. It's not natural to me. If he suddenly learned how to join in a dance party (already tried it, he mostly thinks I've had a seizure and wants to stop it), or typed blog posts for me, or massaged my back, or cut my hair, or did anything off my to-do list, we could be good.

How do I entertain a dog while entertaining myself, i.e. being massively productive at all hours of the day? 

Our little sit-ins start with an epic staring match. And then me pretending like I don't see him looking at like he's totally bored. That goes on for a half hour or until the silence gets to me.

And then I just talk to him. At least he doesn't criticize or judge me. He thinks all of my ideas are awesome.

Perhaps that contributes to my productivity after all.

The Long Goodbye

So, officially, I'm quitting the New Things blog early. I know some of your will be disappointed, while others will relish that this doesn't show up in their Facebook news feed every day. This is a difficult decision, but I made it for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, if it hasn't been pretty obvious, I haven't necessarily been trying to do New Things so much as I have been letting them happen to me and writing about them. That's not the intention I set out with, and not something I feel passionately about continuing for the next 100 some days.

Second is that I'm just swamped with projects right now, and something has to give. When I have the options of working my day job, planning a New Thing, doing a New Thing, blogging about New Things I'm behind on, blogging for Atlanta Yoga Scene, updating my events and schedules pages on AYS, getting affiliates and advertisers so that I can make money off of AYS, pitching my new business idea, working on the website for said project, actually executing anything, hanging out with friends and family, keeping up with my yoga practice---I'm just paralyzed.

I have gotten myself into TOO MUCH STUFF, and something has to give. This isn't the first of those cuts, and certainly not the last either.

But trust me when I say that this blog didn't go down without a fight. In the period since I stopped blogging, I

  • Ran the Warrior Dash
  • Listened to a radio preacher
  • Did a forearm balance in yoga
  • Held the littlest baby I've ever held (Mark's sister just delivered!)
  • Met a documentary filmmaker (film: Marwencol--a MUST SEE!)
  • Held a seance with my puppy when the power went out
  • Ate the best pho in Atlanta (as judged by an outside party, not me!)
  • Visited my apartment complex's swimming pool (we've lived here a year and hadn't been!)
  • Watched the Casey Anthony trial
  • Attended and had my name mentioned at Wanderlust
  • and lots lots more

And, truthfully, this blog has been the catalyst for so much positive, life-altering change that I don't want to downplay it's significance. Learning about web presence, blogging, websites, building an audience, and offering unique content has been the driving force behind me starting both Atlanta Yoga Scene and a side business that might get me out of the 9-5 workforce altogether. My dream! My heart!

I would love to document this journey for you, because in many ways, this is where it gets interesting, but I need the time and space to explore this fully and without the pressure of reporting my daily dramas.

Many thanks to all of you who love and support the blog, and always know that now and forever, I'll be doing New Things.

And one day, sometime in the next few years, when I set my own schedule or I resign myself to one "real" job and one project, I'll start this up again. I can guarantee you that.

Day 240: Making it Rain

Doo do doo...how to approach this post.

To the uninitiated, there's a pop culture tradition(?)/action/demonstration of wealth/*thing* where young rich celebrity men throw money in the air in the VIP at clubs. It's called, "making it rain." They can either hold a stack of money and brush one off the top until a stack is gone, or they can just throw the whole stack in the air all at once.

Why? Who knows. When you're wealthy, be crazy, right? [FACETIOUS]

On Day 240, I made it rain. Now, I did this at 7:30 in the morning after waking up in the farthest thing from a club (my bedroom) after noticing that Mark had a whole bunch of singles hanging around. I would have been a much cooler person had I done this in a club with Benjamins, but let's be honest--that's not my scene and I'm not willing to pay the $20 cover for the privilege of throwing away my cash.

But my version was plenty fun anyway :)

Day 239: Hawking

On Day 239, I went to my very first Hawks game, which just so happened to be the most important game in recent Hawks-hood. They hadn't been to the Eastern finals in 30 years, and if they had beat the Bulls in this game, they would have gone to game 7.

And, if it wasn't painfully obvious, I don't know exactly what all this means, but Mark was super stoked about the game, and I was stoked to do New Things.

Win-win.

Which is ironic since the Hawks lost. Bad. They started out bad and ended bad.

I did, however, get an awesome t-shirt.

As for the experience, it was pretty good! I mean, I like basketball. They score a lot and fouls are pretty obvious. There's a lot to be excited about. Other sports like hockey and soccer and even football can be hard for me to follow because scoring and fouling aren't always obvious. I'm a girl. Cut me some slack.

I guess the best parts of the game were the more tangible things. Mark and I had good seats. I was on the jumbo-tron within the first 15 minutes of the game. I had delicious cold Sweetwater beer and a hot date. I also got those cool wavy white balloons with which to distract free-throwers. All of that made the game awesome. Even if the Hawks lost.

Day 238: The iPhone Strikes Back

You're going to think I'm the most spoiled person ever. I'm prepared. *deep breath*

On Day 238, I got my first cell phone bill.

Thanks to my 2-year anniversary iPhone gift, I am now the proud owner of a cell phone bill as well.

This is officially the last thing my parents were paying for on my behalf (look, I'm not proud of it, but I certainly wasn't stopping it either), and definitely another baptism into the real world, complete with a data package that keeps me connected and entertained 24/7. Worth it? I'm not sure yet. I'm certainly resistant, but also acknowledging that it's AWESOME.

Day 237: Environmentally Friendly

I've been trying really hard to commit to re-usable grocery bags for a long time. I've had them in my apartment and my car, but I've often forgotten to get them out and use them up until I walk up to the check-out counter. Sporadically, I'd pull them out, but I was never super consistent with it.

Now, I try to use these things because I notice how unbelievably wasteful plastic bags are. You use them once, crumple them up and throw them out. OR, you use them and then fill up some lower cabinet in your kitchen waiting to find a reason to use 3,000 bags again. It kind of bothers me.

My family has always had this motto of "waste not, want not" and I take it to heart for a lot of things in my life; food, material things, time, etc. It only seems natural not to waste waste too.

Plus, it's plastic. And knowing that plastic will never degrade in my lifetime also makes me feel bad about the plastic waste I produce...that my children and grandchildren will have to live with for their lifetimes too. Sure, most plastic waste is unavoidable (every freaking car on the planet is plastic), but grocery bags are a plastic that I don't have to waste.

So I'm committed (read: enslaved) to reusable grocery bags. And they hold so much stuff!!

*Steps down from soapbox*

Day 236: Itchy Scratchy

So it's hard to follow up a "NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD" kind of post, so this one will go slightly unnoticed. Day 236 brought an incident where Mark scratched my foot with his foot. This has probably been done before. I know there are people with no arms who drive cars and paint pictures and stuff, using only their feet, so this little thing is a little less impressive. No less new though!!



Day 235: NEVER BEFORE IN HISTORY

On Day 235, I did something that I imagine has never been done before in history ever.

Can you identify what this is? If you can, you'll be the first person in the world to identify this thing that has probably never been done before. CHOCOLATE IS THE REWARD!


-----------------------

Many congrats to Sunshine for guessing what this is. I made a green bean UFO! See, I accidentally left them in the microwave, and, not knowing when I'd eat them again, I stuck the bowl in the freezer.

This is what it looked like BEFORE I turned it over. AFTER I turned it over, I realized that I was maybe the first person in the world to have ever made a green bean UFO. And that makes me proud.

Day 234: Baby Birthdays

This is one of those New Things where I should have taken a picture. Day 234 was Mark's nephews 1st birthday, and, aside from my own 22 years go, it was the first time I ever attended a baby's birthday party. C'mon, don't play technicalities with me here.


And boy am I jealous of this kid. He had about 50 friends and family of all ages come celebrate his birthday, with cookout-style food, booze, a cake all for him and a bouncy castle. I mean, can I just transport that experience for my 24th birthday coming up??

Day 233: Psycho Analytics

Ever since starting this blogging project, my number one concern in the world is Google Analytics. I base my entire self-worth on the number of people who visit my blog. I know. So lame. 

Then it got worse as I got another website, my dear Atlanta Yoga Scene, where I obsess over more than Google Analytics (which measures the number of people coming to my blog, how they got there, whether they're retuning or new visitors, top content, etc.) but also Facebook stats, newsletter stats, survey stats etc. It's pathetic. I can literally spend 8 hours looking over the same four web analytics programs just salivating at the moment someone new opens, visits, likes my projects.






It's lame, it's unhealthy...and it's the biggest time suck in my day. Period.

So on Day 233, I unplugged from analytics and put myself on a "DO NOT CHECK THIS EXCEPT ONCE A WEEK ON TUESDAY" schedule. It's tough, and I have slipped up a little (let's be honest, this isn't real-time) but I'm doing infinitely better, and not wasting my life away worrying about who visits my sites.

Day 232: Headstand PIKE!

So apparently google deleted my post where I did this awesome headstand pike, and because it's that important to me, I'm posting it again. Booyah.


Day ???: I'm avoiding this blog like the plague

My innovation and inspiration has gone sorely down the toilet.


Blogging will resume soon.

Maybe.

Day 231: Cleaning my Plate

Mark made a delicious, unbelievably good roast the other day. It was a mushroom and leek soup recipe that really sucked, so he added a big ol' piece of beef to it, which, when simmered for a few hours, made a delicious meal that we ate about 5 times in a week. What was also funny about this was that I just *knew* Mago would love to eat some of this, and after giving him a taste on Day 231 at the table, he became the perfect little gentleman, awaiting more.

I, of course, indulged him because it was SO cute, and after I finished dinner, I let my dog lick my plate. It was adorable. He's better than our dishwasher.

As a side note, I am aware of the mundane-ness of these New Things as of late. I'm thinking I should have waited to either do the whole Atlanta Yoga Scene thing later, or do this blog later, but it is hard "doing" for both. I still feel like I need to justify it, as if anyone else could really manage a full time job, adventurous blog and future yoga phenomenon any better/worse than I've done. I'm hoping, maybe sometime later in the year or in the next couple of years, that I could really give this all the gusto it deserves.

Such is life.

Day 230: OFF THE COUCH

You remember how I told you that in our Mark-Leah-puppy family that Mark does everything? Well you should also know that Mago is smarter than both me and Mark combined. So on Day 230, when Mark decided that we should no longer let Mago hang out on our couch and I taught him the "Off The Couch" command, he learned very quickly that to get a treat for getting OFF the couch, meant you had to get ON the couch.

Duh.

15 treats later, we decided there was no use...and Mago is allowed on the couch again.

Day 229: Osama bin Laden is Dead

On Day 229, Mark woke me up saying "So apparently the U.S. just killed Osama bin Laden." Ho-lee, mo-lee. That's a first...and a last.

My first reaction was just kind of "wow." What to say? I mean, his death doesn't mean all that much, really. It's largely symbolic, seeing as how al-Qaeda can certainly function without their fearless leader. It was set up to do just that. He was the mastermind behind rallying the terrorist 'troops' to action, sure, but the hierarchy of leaders and cells and even financing are still largely a mystery. It's most likely organized chaos.

Killing a symbol in this case is probably even worse than killing a real leader, because these unorganized groups of people don't need his marching orders to carry out future terrorist attacks in the name of revenge. It's like killing the Queen of England in a way. She doesn't DO hardly anything, but it's an attack on a sacred symbol and institution that people will respond to.

I also haven't decided how I feel about the US having killed him. There are people on both sides of the argument, and their points are valid according to their worldview--"all killing is bad" and "he caused the most horrendous act our country has seen in modern history so he deserves the ultimate punishment."

I guess I look at differently. The benefits I see on keeping him alive include intelligence that we could have gathered...but that's about where it ends.

I think that killing anyone is a horrendous thing to do, however, why hold him captive and waste more money and effort on keeping him alive? He's already cost our country trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Why risk him getting out of whatever institution we would otherwise put him in? I've heard of people in maximum security prisons still managing to get drugs smuggled in to them...who knows what kind of communique he might still manage to convey.

Again, I'm conflicted. I certainly won't rally in the streets about his death (it's a really unique sight to see our country do that!), but I don't know if capturing him without killing him would've been any more effective or impactful.

At the end of the day, this news means surprisingly little. We'll probably still be hunting terrorists in the middle east for the rest of my life (and probably the lives of my children, too), and we'll never, ever, ever "conquer terrorism." So long as one terrorist lives, be they from the hundreds of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Irish Republican Army, the USDF of Colombia or what have you we've failed that mission..and always will.

Should we keep fighting? That's another question with ideological answers based on your experience and worldview--a post for a different day and a different blog.

But day 226 brought this very, very, very interesting piece of news.

Day 228: Whistle while you work...

My mother has the most beautiful whistle. She can whistle just about any song with the greatest of ease and make it sound completely tune-ful and harmonious. It's amazing. Somehow, I didn't get much of any trait from my mother, least of which is whistling. I can't whistle at all. My one pathetic note sounds shallow, tinny, and completely un-respectable. It's sad. And I've been trying for YEARS at this.

I remember in first grade, my friend Elizabeth and I had a pact that I would teach her how to blow a bubble if she would teach me how to whistle. I taught her how to blow a bubble and she NEVER taught me how to whistle. I've been in a rut ever since.

So I made it one of my missions to whistle a tune for the blog, and Day 228 (after numerous practice days before it) was supposed to be the day. For my tune, I selected Frere Jaques, because I thought the ease of the song would play in my favor. Fewer notes, less complicated refrain, simple note transitions--should've been a piece of cake...but the day has come and gone, and all I have is a very irritated dog. I debated putting up a video, but it would be a pretty pathetic show, and I would rather you see me drain water through my nose than whistle pathetically.

Day 227: Herb

One of my original "New Things I want to do" was to plant an herb garden, not kill it, and eat the herbs in real food. It's one small step towards farming my own food one day, so that when peak oil strikes and no one can get around and lettuce costs $20 a head, I am prepared with my own stock.

Well, I didn't exactly plant my own herb garden, but Mark and I bought an herb garden (from the Sandy Springs Farmer's market, no less) with 5 herbs in it--cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. On Day 227, I picked basil and used it in a a caprese salad, meaning I picked and ate my own herbs!


Day 226: Pouring Water Up My Nose...On Purpose

If you become a better person by doing something that scares you every day (BLOG IDEA!) then today, I became a infinitely more awesome than I was yesterday.

Because I used a neti pot.

It was one of those things that I had planned out even in my "About this Project" section of the blog, and I finally fulfilled it.  I had been delaying this for most of allergy season though, because frankly, I was terrified...

Using a neti pot is a traditional Indian Ayurvedic health and wellness practice, and it also happens to be excellent at treating seasonal allergies, of which I have many. This tradition is a way of cleansing the sinuses and nasal passages with a warm saline solution...that you literally pour up your nose and let drain out the other side.

And finally, on Day 226, I pulled the trigger.



It was awesome. Like, my nose feels so clear and refreshed and cleansed and open and breathable. The pouring was surprisingly easy once you just go for it, and I swear I'm going to use it again and again, through seasonal allergies, colds and beyond. TRY IT. NOW. It's the best thing that's happened since Zyrtec.

Day 225: I just found out there's no such thing as the real world...

[DISCLAIMER: Yes, this is longer than my normal posts, and will require you to read.]

It's funny to me how song lyrics have one meaning and grow into another as I get older. If you don't know much about my musical tastes, I've been a longtime John Mayer fan, and his songs have been particularly influential on my high school and college years. I remember one of the last assemblies in high school, I believe it was a rehearsal for graduation, "No Such Thing" was playing on repeat as we walked into the gym. I can't put my finger on why that made an impression--only to say that I was hoping I'd look back with John Mayer's irreverent but knowing eyes one day and see how I had moved beyond the paradigms I had set for myself and the world.

Fast forward to this project. Earlier in the year, I had asked one of my high school friends, Bruce, to give me some New Thing ideas, one of which was to run through the halls of my high school. I was pretty sure there would be no reason for me to ever go back to my high school, but I wrote it down anyway.

I really had no interest in ever walking those halls again. I've got some sort of hang-up or resentment or towards high school, and I felt as though returning would classify me as "stuck in the past" or as someone who hasn't moved on with her life.

I spent most of my high school days slammed with schoolwork from being in the math, science and technology magnet program and strict ballet practice. That, and I never really found a way to fit in. Not that I was an outcast or anything, it's just that I didn't have very many friends, the friends I did have were equally as busy and stressed as I was. Needless to say I didn't have very much fun.

Come graduation, I remember having this really jaded, sinking, blah feeling about the whole thing...four years of hard work and no fun for what? A seal on my diploma? And it turned out that I went to UGA where I could have likely gotten in for half the work and stress?

All of these things came back to me when my dad suggested I come with him to help judge the Senior Project presentations at Wheeler. He'd asked me many times before to do this, but I finally obliged, in the spirit of doing New Things and crossing Bruce's suggestion off of my list.

Just before going though, I had to pop in John Mayer's "No Such Thing" to gather some inspiration. So much of my personality and outlook on life has changed since high school, and so much of it is epitomized in that song. There's no use in breaking it down line by line (I'm already writing a novel here, anyway) but with a little life experience under my belt, I know JUST what he's talking of, and it makes me smile.

I have been so happy since graduating, and I'm trying every day to "rise above the lie that there's a real world," I still think "the best of me is hiding up my sleeves," and I see that there's "something better living outside the lines..."

And running through the halls of my high school certainly isn't the most exciting New Thing I've ever done, but it's a lot of personal reckoning for my soul. I wouldn't have found out so much about myself had I not been through those four years, and I've certainly changed in ways that I'm very proud of.

I'll likely look back on these years in nostalgic reflection too, and what more will I have learned then?? Who knows, but I bet a John Mayer song will be one step ahead of me. :)


Day 224: My Apocalypse Survival Kit

Simply put, the National Weather Service had me convinced that a tornado was imminent on the night of Day 224, and in order to prepare, Mark and I created a survival kit.


  1. A knife, duh
  2. A candle, although we forgot the matches
  3. Mago's leash
  4. Blanton's bourbon
  5. Band aids
  6. Chocolate Easter bunnies (2)
  7. A half-loaf of bread
  8. Zyrtec (it's allergy season after all!)
  9. A bubba keg of water (that should keep us until we find another water source)
  10. Febreeze (you never know what will stink post-apocalypse)
  11. A trash bag
  12. My iPhone
 Oh...and the most important thing...The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!


Wait no! This is the most important thing!! (Should I just re-name this blog "Pictures of my dog?")

Day 223: Naked

On Day 223, I was in business meetings all day and then flew back to Atlanta...and then drove in traffic home...and cooked dinner...and pretty much went to bed after that. It was a long day. The only real claim to New Thing fame that I have is that I read the book Naked by David Sedaris in the airport and on the plane.

I haven't finished it yet (only a couple hundred pages in), but it is SERIOUSLY laugh-out-loud, witty and funny. Like, AWESOME. It's just a collection of stories about his life only mixed with a little creative license and a whole lot of witty self-reflection.

Have you read it?? What was your favorite story from the book??

Day 222: Traveling back in Time...

Day 222 was a weird day because I had to travel for business. As in, get on a plane and travel for business. Do you remember the last time I traveled for business? I puked before boarding the plane. It was a completely awful morning.

But this particular morning panned out okay after all, even though this sweet face didn't want me to leave:

Anyhoo, this day wasn't super special, but I did travel to Raleigh, North Carolina for business. Why is this significant? I was born in Raleigh!! And I haven't been back since I left at 4 years old!

I had this sort of "knowing nostalgia" about the whole thing. I've always had an affinity for North Carolina, having that sort of salmon-returning-to-the-birthplace kind of thing. I dunno. It's strange to talk about, but I really enjoy the idea of Raleigh, even though upon return, it just seems like a bunch of strip malls and office parks, much like any semi-suburban, somewhat-urban city is.

I even actually drove by my preschool--La Petite Academy! How do I know that was it? I just knew...and then asked my parents who confirmed my suspicion.

And then I actually ate cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.

Not a bad business travel day after all!

Day 221: Coaching Clientele

I didn't look anything like this, really...
So I guess things have been ramping up around the ranch--my eagerness to find ways to make money without a 9-5 job is pretty ferocious these days. I'd also like to say that I've become accustomed to a certain way of living and that I'd also like to make as much as I'm making now (if not more) like, tomorrow.

Okay, so, on Day 219, I prepared for my first client meeting, where I have started just a teeny-tiny side project of teaching yoga teachers how to market their services to find private clients. I'd give you all the secret sauce, but who knows if you're going to steal my idea. I'd kill you. Yogically, but effectively.

And on Day 221, I finally met with my first client who I coached to help her market her yoga practice to families of kids with learning disabilities. She, in turn, is helping give me direction for a workshop I'm doing with a LOT of people, starting a couple of months from now.

It's really pretty cool, and may be a way to give me a little cushion to make Atlanta Yoga Scene into a national phenomenon. Not that it will ever make me rich, but it was a lot of fun, and a little thing I think could be really helpful to yoga teachers, who for the most part, bless their hearts, know everything there is to know about yoga and hardly anything about business.

Want my secret sauce for marketing your yoga teaching? Call me...then tell all of your friends...and your yoga teachers...and anyone who you ever come across who says the word 'yoga.'

HELP ME LIVE MY DREAM!!

Day 220: Eka Pada Sirsasana

On Day 220, I went to onlYoga to do a cr-cr-cr-crazy yoga class, in which I ended up doing this awesome pose, Eka Pada Sirsasana:

I would show you in my own picture, but I barfed this morning and therefore have no interest in photographing myself and I certainly don't want to use my abdominals in any conceivable fashion. Blog be damned.

Day 219: Sweet Preparation H!

On Day 219, I prepared for Day 221!

You'll see why this matters later :) Oh, and I COMPLETELY SUCKERED YOU IN WITH THE TITLE, RIGHT!??!?! Ratings, kids, ratings...

What I was going to write about doesn't much apply anymore (thank heavens I waited to write this one!) but this will do quite well.

Day 218: My Days are like Snowflakes...

For my highly-loyal blog followers (I LOVE YOU ALL DEARLY, YOU MAKE MY WORLD GO AROUND!!), you know that I'm viciously behind on blogging. I've been consumed in other things recently, some of which I will reveal at a later date, some of which are just life things and trying not to die of overwhelm.

All I want is your eyes to read this bull-honkey I write out, hoping that maybe I'm inspiring you to try some New Thing for yourself, or just to see the little things as a beautiful affirmation of the non-monotony of existing another day of your life.

But sometimes I'm not very good at documenting this. And Day 218 was one of those days.

I can remember the day rather vividly, I think. I went to work as normal. Afterward, I had planned on going to a yoga studio in midtown, but ended up going to the Open Mind Center in Roswell. There, I used my Passport to Prana to take class. Those were both new.

Then, I came home at about the same time that Mark was getting home from puppy training with Mago. At that point, I made Mark sweet potato pasta with a cream sauce, which was the first time I've ever cooked or eaten sweet potato pasta from the Farmers Market and the first cream sauce I've ever liked, which may be a notable first. I also took a picture of this, but am out of town and can't upload it.

Some time after that, I learned how to make a survey on Survey Monkey, preparing for a SUPER COOL blog post that I'm writing on the Atlanta Yoga Scene site called New School Yogis vs. Old School Yogis, Part I. Those are two firsts--using Survey Monkey and writing the preface to the most awesome blog post EVER.

But I don't think that's what I wanted to count.

I got new toothpaste and body wash, but that wasn't it either.

Confession: I don't know what my New Thing was.

ARGH!

You probably hate me and think I've done nothing but lower your expectations about me and my ability to do awesome New Things. I understand.

However, this is a pretty good representation of the fact that I, no matter how "mundane" the day may be, I really, truly, honestly, am always always always doing New Things. Even when they're not exciting. I'm learning something, trying something, and sharing some part of myself that I've never done.

Every day is like a snowflake for me--and that makes me infinitely happy! So what if it's not blog fodder :)

Day 217: I AM GOING TO BE RICH!!!

Kay, so the title was only supposed to lure you in. Suckas!!

Anyhoo, you should know that we're not quite out of the "Leah wants to be an entrepreneur"/"Yoga is my life"/"No, wait, my dog is my life" New Things yet, but on Day 217, I got my first advertiser!!!

(Someday, far far away when I charge way more that $25 for an ad and have little Atlanta Yoga Scenes all over the country) I AM GOING TO BE RICH!

Day 216: FDR

A long time ago, when I was a bit more serious about doing New Things, thinking I'd find myself break dancing, jumping out of airplanes, generally embarassing myself and other more blog-worthy things, I bought a deck of cards from Whole Foods that was a "What do you know about FDR?" They're question cards, very much along the lines of the brain teasers you probably played in elementary school...only for adults.

So, I carried this little deck of cards around in my purse, thinking that on some day I didn't have any super exciting New Thing to do, I could learn about FDR.

I can't tell you how long they've been in my purse now. I know it's been many months. But I finally pulled them out on Day 216 and got the question:

In 1943, FDR promised the Chinese government that the United States would develop a large, long-range bomber to attack the Japanese mainland from China.
  1. What was the promised bomber, adamantly supported by FDR, the development of which generated the largest single US expenditure of the war?
  2. Who was the Chinese Leader?
  3. What was popular name of the air route between India and China by which the bombers arrived in 1944?
Anyone wanna take a stab??? ....chocolate is your prize for winnniiinng!!!

Day 215: Training Day/ Drop it Like it's Hot

Things you need to know about the puppy/family relationship:

1. Mark does everything.

What Mago would look like on a roller coaster
I would have never gotten a puppy myself because I just don't know all that much about dogs. I lived with them growing up, but even then I felt like the cool aunt who would come play but never have to do any of the care.

So far, if you couldn't tell from the video about me failing to go to puppy school, is that Mark taught Mago a huge repertoire of tricks such as sit, down, roll over (a perennial favorite, even when not prompted), touch (with his nose), paws (the precursor to high five), high five, stay, leave it, and probably a few others I'm forgetting.

My joke for a while was that I taught him one trick--be cute.

It's a win-win. He does it 100% of the time, and about 80 percent of the time, he'll look at me when I say it. It is love.

But let's be honest. It's no real trick.

Mago in his basket of toys, all of which he knows how to drop!
On Day 215, however, I finally taught Mago a real trick: drop it.

This means that whenever he brings me a toy, I'll tell him to drop it, fighting his typical response of viciously protecting it in his mouth and tugging/teething furiously at it until he gets bored. Now, with "drop it," the game can continue...and he gets a treat!

I'm sure you don't want to learn how I taught him to drop it, but that's okay. Just know, it makes me feel like a NINJA. I have mind control over my dog. Domestication at it's finest.

Day 214: Hiking with Nukes

After not being to hang out due to tornadoes, Paul, Rian and I finally met up to go hiking on Sunday. Paul is an avid hiker and had identified Brasstown Bald as the place to go--it's the highest peak in Georgia.

I should remind you that Paul and Rian are MIT and RPI Nuclear Engineering PhD's (respectively). They are in a league of their own when it comes to smarts (but very un-sterotypically social, lively and engaging individuals). Rian, if you do recall from a really long freaking time ago, was the young man whose wedding I attended in Ohio. Paul was the best man. But really I went to that wedding for Rian's wifey, Katie, who I knew when I was an intern at Brookhaven National Lab.

The ride up to the trail was about two hours of catching up with these guys, bouncing ideas around about Atlanta Yoga Scene, entrepreneurship in general, politics, religion, education reform...you know, all those kinds of deep and thought provoking things that I'm unabashedly fearless of bringing up in mixed company. For not knowing each other very long (or even very well), the conversation and company was nothing short of perfect, though. I also got lots of free food out of this trip (thanks RPI!!)

Now, I've been hiking plenty of times before, on our urban trails like Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain (Georgia's most glorified speed bump), Red Top Mountain...you know, the easy paths around Georgia. I used to do these all the time. I've also done a lot of walking, which made me think that climbing this mountain would be easy. Like, what's there to be scared of?

I RUN 10Ks, PEOPLE!

Au contraire.

Literally from the first, tiny incline, I felt my heart rate increase and the sudden necessity to keep my mouth shut for fear of sounding like, "yeah *gasp* I totally agree with *gasp* quantum theory *gasp* of subliminal subconscious *gasp* submarines."

It was embarassing...not that I could possibly be embarassed because I was looking like a champ.

Paul and Rian kept on keeping on, walking onwards at a clip that was ever-so-slightly painful. I, however, wasn't going to be the sissy girl who slowed them down, so I pushed on like a machine. I was sweaty, panting, and reallly wanting to break for oreos, but my determination and pride kept me going like the rock star wannabe hiker that I am.

I've known a couple of people that have done some serious hiking (i.e. the Appalachain trail) and I determined, from this one event, that I will never be that person. I do not enjoy hiking that much. I also recognized that I'll never be the person who climbs K2.

Three hours and six miles of hiking? Awesome test of endurance. Anything more than a week? I'd give up at some point and find the road and hitch my way back home.

Anyhoo, it did feel really great to reach the top, walking up to a building that looked straight out of the seventh or so dream level of Inception. There, the guys and I enjoyed the feast we brought with us...beef jerky, cheese, dried fruit and oreos. That really made it worthwhile. Lure me up with food, I'm shameless.

I had asked Paul early in the journey what his *thing* was with hiking. Why climb mountains when there are roads that can get you to the top? Why do you even want to see the view from the top? He didn't have a super psychologically deep answer, but he did say that he feels like he earned the view if he hikes to it. I admid, I kind of get it now--this view was worth burning some calories.

And on the way back down, I was the pace-setter...meaning those boys had to follow my pace. Huzzah!

Day 213: Heaven is a Farmer's Market

Sooo, I'm an old lady. On Day 213, I went to the Sandy Springs Farmer's Market. Now, I've been to quite a few farmer's markets before, here and abroad, but this one was unique because it was HEAVEN. You know how James Lipton on The Actor's Studio will say "If heaven exists, what do you want God to say to you at the pearly gates?" or something like that.

I want him to say, "WELCOME TO THE UNIVERSE'S EXPONENTIALLY STUPENDOUS FARMER'S MARKET!!"

Things I love about the farmer's market:
  • Free food at every stand. 
  • Delicious food at every stand
  • The best freaking cheeses you've ever tasted
  • The most delicious home-baked goods ever produced
  • Customized orders (we're getting a custom herb garden!) 
  • REEALL local stuff
  • Every food taste that you normally love, only exponentially better
  • Talking to the people who made the food they sell
 No seriously. I could spend hours sampling goodies, talking to farmers and artisans, discussing the weather and the direction of the wind, smiling at every person you walk by, spending outrageous amounts of money on stuff you'd otherwise pass over as a "treat." I mean really. That place would be fun if you never laid a cent down.

It. Was. Perfect.

So what if I'm an old woman?! I'm an old woman who knows the finer things in life--like mexican chocolate greek yogurt, sweet potato pasta, free range eggs, a perfect crusty french baguette, fresh herbs, and sunshine.

Long live the Farmer's market.

Day 212: More On Buddhism...

Day 212 was supposed to be another automatic New Thing day as my friends Rian and Paul were in town for a nuclear engineering conference and down to hang out. Rian is a huge New Thing blog supporter, and full of awesome ideas, so I was planning on defaulting to whatever he suggested, and/or counting "went out in Atlanta with nuclear engineers" as my New Thing.

Sadly, tornadoes entered the picture. We had some crazy storms and winds, threats of tornadoes, lightning, hail, ya know...not real "going out" weather.

So, Mark and I ended up reading out on our patio. There, I dove into "Living Buddha, Living Christ" which is, quite astonishingly, hard on Christians and, um, SUPER DUPER liberal with the interpretation of the Bible. I'm not offended but I am surprised. I'm all about a little interpretation, but Thich Naht Hahn was drawing conclusion that were so out of left field, that I would even be weirded out if I hadn't been raised in a Christian home.

I'd really love to give you an example only I'm at work (oops) and don't have the book with me.

It's really favorable of Buddhism though, and I'm digging the philosphy. It's even like "Don't even count on the concept of Buddhism to draw you to Buddhism, just think of doing everything mindfully and with presence of mind...only don't be attached to that either."

It's so trippy. I love it.

But I'm curious how Jesus would react.

Day 211: Puppy Training (NOT!)

Some "New Thing" days, I predict in advance (e.g. my 2-year anniversary, and my CRR 10K). Day 211 was one of those--I was going to take a day off of yoga-ing and go do puppy training with Mago and Mark. Then, the day of, Mark checked the website only to find that the puppy school only allowed one handler per pup.

Instead, I decided I'd go to a yoga class, and then realized we were having guests this weekend and I needed to clean instead.

"Mama said there'd be days like this."

Anyhoo, these are the tricks that Mago already knows, so by my estimation, he doesn't need puppy school anyway. So I didn't miss out on anything...I hope.



Day 210: Proud to Be an American (Idol)

Day 210 led me to watch my first ever episode of American Idol.

I know, you think I'm a communist. How could I live in this country and not have seen American Idol?? I dunno. I keep my eyes glued to the computer screen, I guess ;)

Okay, well I came in at 9:00 PM EST, not 8:00 PM EST, meaning I missed an hour of it. So I didn't really watch a full episode. But the three contestants I saw were actually pretty good, I guess. Something about coming into the show in the middle probably wasn't the best idea. I haven't followed their "stories" and I don't have any history of their successes and failures, or if this was a "normal" week for them.

Truthfully, of the clips and songs I saw were pretty good, and the contestants were really talented, but none of those people struck me as having tremendous star power.

We'll see...

I did, however, really like Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson as judges. I think they represent all facets of the music industry and have a ton of experiential knowledge on what  although I miss all of Paula Abdul's horrendously funny "comments" that were replayed on radio stations and TV news networks.

Thoughts?? Are the contestants actually really good and I just don't know about it? Am I a communist?

Day 209: The James Bond Shower

Confession: I read a lot of blogs. Mostly, they fall into two categories: lifestyle design and travel. This likely makes me look like a hippie. So shoot me.

One of the blogs that I am OB-SESSED with is "In over your head," a blog by Julien Smith. It's the most well-written self-improvement (in an ass-kicking, and highly non-coddling way) blog ever. He's very much a "take calculated risks to live the life you want" (with posts like this one whose title I can't publish, and this one, whose title I shouldn't publish either), and challenging life assumptions like (with posts like "Why you should quit the internet" and "You cannot die"), among other topics.

One post I came across a while back had to do with cold showers (and for the life of me, I can't find it now...), saying that small, non-harmful stressors, like cold showers, can help adapt your body and mind to be more comfortable with, and more accepting of, bigger stressors. (And thus, for Julien's purposes, render you more likely to take the risks to challenge the status quo and to live the life you want to.)

After doing a little more research on the 'cold shower,' I found that in addition to the improved stress-reaction function, cold showers improve circulation, improve your mood, improve your metabolism, improve immunity, and (more obviously) increase your energy level.

It's easy to see that if you want a quick wake-up, that you should jump in a cold shower. See, when you take a cold shower, all the blood that was at your skin moves to your internal organs, nourishing them with fresh blood and increasing the rate at which old blood moves out of them. This whole process moves blood through the digestive organs to get more nutrients to warm your body. Also, according to a 1993 study by the Thrombosis Research institute in England, people who take daily cold showers have more white blood cells than people who take warm showers.

So, after all that (and much more research), I decided I'd take a two-minute cold shower after I took my warm shower. This is a suggested way to start.

Bascially, it was awesome. Okay, fine, it was awful while I was IN the shower. I fought every carnal desire to jump out and/or increase the temperature, and pretty much hated life and living and might have squirted shampoo in anyone's eye who suggested I stay any longer than two minutes.

AFTER I got out of the shower, however, it was divine. My body was warm, my energy level was up and I just felt really great...happy...thrilled that I was alive.

Plus, in the book version of James Bond, he apparently took showers much the way I just did. And he's a badass. And now I am too.

Seriously. Just do it.

Day 208: Wanderlust!

You may have seen, if you're my Facebook friend (and I'm assuming that you are) that I wrote this cryptic status:

Now to explain! Oh, and just bear with me because it might take time.

Doo do doo...where to start. 

Umm...Atlanta Yoga Scene. Yes, so I started said website as Atlanta's first city-wide event calendar for yoga, with directory of studios and master schedule of classes too. It's pretty ballin'. People are excited about it and the community is growing pretty well.

Now, Wanderlust. Wanderlust is an annual nationwide 3-day yoga and music festival, held in California, Colorado and Vermont. It draws about 14,000 people per event, so it's no Woodstock, but it is one of the biggest events for yogis. This year, Wanderlust is hosting mini-Wanderlusts called Wanderlust: Yoga in the City, one of which will be in Atlanta.
For the exiciting part: the coordinator of this event, after seeing the Atlanta Yoga Scene website, and otherwise totally out of thin air CONTACTED ME to select teachers and top studios that could be leaders and studio partners (respectively) for the event. AND, to thank me for my help, he's MAKING ME A SPONSOR OF THE EVENT FOR FREE!!!

WTF?? EEP!

I guess, on Day 208, I became influential. Or something??

All I had to do was pick the headlining yogi (easy peasy), and get the coordinator in contact with the studio owners that I know (easy peasy). It was a little time-consuming, writing up all those emails, and doing it all in one day, but so totally amazing that I, me, lowly, nobody Leah, was able to influence decisions for a national event, based on the reputation I built from the fruits of my own ideas and my own hard work

It feels phenomenal.

I'm not making money on this, and I'm certainly putting in a lot of hard work, but I feel like only good things could happen as a result of it. Potential advertisers will trust my influence, studio owners and teachers will trust my influence, students will find AYS as a helpful resource for them, and I hope word of mouth spreads to the point where I could actually make a decent profit in doing something meaningful.

I totally understand if you don't "get it," but imagine...if you were really into music, and you wrote a blog about the national music scene, and the coordinators of South by Southwest contacted YOU to get the skinny on your opinions for who the leaders should be, and YOU got to HAND-PICK them, you'd be pretty stoked too. It's like that for my passion :) 

I'm just tickled pink.

Day 207: I Fizzle!

Fo shizzle, my nizzle, Mark did gone got me an i-Fizzle!!! Happy 2-year anniversary to ME!


The obsessive reliance on this thing has already begun!

Day 206: I Am Not a "Dog Person"

As I've said before, having a new puppy makes doing New Things really easy. If anything, Mago is GREAT for blogging. On Day 206, we took our first venture to the dog park! We had to wait until Mago had all of his shots before he was exposed to unknown puppies, so that was why we held out for as long as we did. 

Dog parks exist for the same reasons as playgrounds--let the little things run around for a couple of hours, and ensure a relaxed remainder of the day. Dog parks are great because they're fenced-in areas where you can let your dog off the leash, sit back, and allow him to have fun without the burden of throwing increasingly-slobbery toys around. And the dogs have a blast. I can't imagine what it would be like if dogs owned me and then allowed me to go run around with people. It would make me pretty excited, too.

In short, Mago was thrilled to get to know the other puppies, and even made a girlfriend, Kelly, a golden retriever mix puppy. Mago was initiated to the big dogs by being pestered a little, but when he met a puppy his own age and size, they chased each other, played, rolled around in dirt and just looked like they were having a blast. 

Like I said, it must be cool to meet someone your own species every now and then :)

I also realized here that I'm not a dog person's dog person. Like, some of the people here were like "my dog and I have worked on a more subtle temperament than other border collies, and he's really such a fan of Blue Buffalo food, the Purina was too abrasive on his digestive tract, you have to be careful about that ingredient normatryxiloxilide, I mean, dogs change if that's in their food. Oh, and we got him into the BEST puppy school early on, so that's why he is just better than the other dogs."

Those people are exhausting. I just think Mago is the cutest puppy ever and I enjoy when he gets to interact with other puppies.

I had intended to take pictures of him at the dog park, but that didn't work out. But this is what he looks like now! Growing up so fast :)


Day 205: The Godfather

If I haven't already made it pretty explicitly clear, I've never seen any movie ever. It took this project to get me to see Top Gun. I mean, you should REALLY lower your expectations about what movies I have seen. This is partially due to the fact that watching a movie in the dark will make me fall asleep. Watching movies while laying down make me fall asleep. Watching anything but a current dramatic film will probably make me fall asleep.

It's ridiculous.

Anyway.

I had this really great idea that for my next year-long New Thing-type project, that I'd watch all of the movies on the AFI Top 100. I don't want to be that girl who hasn't seen any movie ever. I want to understand the references, quotes, actors, directors, the whole nine. To get me used to watching movies on this list, I thought it would be appropriate to watch The Godfather--a movie Mark already has, and the #2 on the AFI list.

So we did.

It was reallly hard for me, though. We started the movie at 8:30, and, seeing as how it's a 3-hour movie, that meant I was trying to watch a movie at 11:30 at night, which is just silly. Absurd, actually. I just can't do it.

I ended up pinching each one of my fingertips to try to stay awake (a habit to stay awake in college classes), I stood up just about as often was permissible for a person watching a movie ("uh, the dog needs to go out again!), I DID JUMPING JACKS, I sipped water, I nibbled popcorn, etc. etc. etc. It was ridiculous, but I made it! I stayed awake the whole time, even when my eyelids got heavy.

For the most part, I could talk to you about the story in decent detail (which you don't really need to hear because I'm sure YOU'VE already seen this hundreds of times), so I'll consider the movie-watching experience a success. I don't think, however, that the AFI movie project would be a good one for me.

Does anyone else have this problem? I can't be the only one!!


Day 204: Beer in the Shower

I feel very strange about posting this. I know I'm long past the age where I can drink beer freely, but something about posting about drinking beer, and about doing it in the shower, is a little odd to me. (Although I did blog under the influence once...) I can't put my finger on why. I guess it's because it reminds me of college...were the frat dog types would swear by drinking beer in the shower.

I always wondered whether it was a "I'm such an alkie that I need to drink in the morning" or "I can't wait to get out of the shower for a beer, so I'll just drink one in the shower" or if it was something legitimate like "beer tastes better when I drink it in the shower."

Anyone want to illuminate this for me?? It would be much appreciated.

Anyhoo, I got home from a particularly unpleasant yoga class, and I had spent the day in an existential kind of fog. When I finally got home, I just wanted a beer. However, I needed to take a shower because it was a particularly sweaty yoga class, so I ventured back into time and participated in the frat dog tradition of drinking beer in the shower.

It was delicious. Like...really good. Like...the beer actually did taste better in the shower than out of it. Poetically, I could say, the cool, sweet beer was an interesting contrast to the warm shower. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

But I still feel weird talking about it...