Progress Doesn’t Come Painless

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Life is all about making progress–whether it be in our relationships, our job, our personal goals, or our struggles. Truly making progress takes work. It takes commitment, patience, endurance, and self-love. Progress takes acceptance. Acceptance of where we are now, and the understanding of what it will take to be where we eventually want to be.

Progress must be spurred by motivation. The motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Both with an importance of their own. Motivation can withstand or deplete over time, depending on the subjective importance of the end goal.

Progress is not linear. It does not come without obstacles. There are setbacks, difficulties, and unexpected impediments. When presented with a difficulty, our minds change, and we go into doubt and denial. Is the struggle for progress worth the effort? Is the progress even necessary after all? How much do I really want what I’m striving for? Progress takes patience. The patience to endure backward steps, and the willingness to take more forward ones.

Progress cannot come without change. Change is a necessary element of progress.

Progress is painful. We gain strength by the lessons we learn along the way. We gain new knowledge of ourselves: our values, capabilities, resilience, and persistence. We gain self-respect. For the hardship we’ve willingly allowed ourselves to endure, in the name of achieving progress.

And once we’ve finally made the progress we’ve been arduously working towards, we feel pride. We feel deep pleasure from our hard-earned achievements, and gratitude for our ability to do so at this place in time.

Progress doesn’t come painless & nothing good comes easy. Life is a challenge, and challenges are meant for accepting. I accept the challenges that life presents me with. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…right?

xx allie

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I Am Awake

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I am awake…

to the strength of my soul

to the power of my thought

to the resilience of my spirit.

I am awake…

to the smile of my heart

to the gentle of my word

to the warmth of my voice.

I am awake…

to the beauty of my lonesome

to the sharp of my mind

to the hope of my future.

I am awake…

to the promise of tomorrow

to the joy of today

to the beauty of despair.

I am awake.

xx allie

Cheers to Enduring Friendships

A true friend is hard to find. I am lucky to say that my search was easy.

In kindergarten, I would often notice a little girl that would sit by herself to eat lunch. Since I didn’t know her name, she was “the girl with the mickey mouse lunchbox”. One day I decided to sit with her at lunch…and the rest was history. Noosha & I became attached at the hip.

Like most little kids (or maybe not), Noosh and I created our own language. We’d come up with silly-sounding terms to mean “meet me by the flagpole after school” or “cartwheel”. I remember feeling so SO happy when our parents would agree that we could have a playdate after school. Occasionally, our moms would even pull us out of school at lunch to take us to Baja Fresh. We felt so special on those days. I remember going to the community pool together on weekends and getting hard-earned pizza after hours of swimming. Those were the best, most memorable days. We made a secret fort in Noosha’s closet, where we’d bring our stuffed animals and even have a secret meet-up song. Our meeting notes are still hanging up in Noosha’s closet to this day.

We would do facials…and she would always give me toilet paper to dry off my face. I never really minded. We’d play learning games on the computer together, sometimes for hours at a time. We’d play “cats” in her room, or would brave the aliens together in her garage by climbing high onto the punching bag for safety.

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In elementary school, Noosh and I never missed a talent show together. We looked forward to choreographing our dance routine every year. I remember practicing for hours a few times a week after school. Growing up, we did dance school together, softball, ice-skating, choir, student government, and tennis together. She always challenged me to keep up. She always challenged me to be creative. Sometimes, she would even plan arts & crafts days at her house…inspired by the show, “Out of the Box”. I remember making little parachute men out of tissues and string.

Everything we had was the same. Our email addresses, clothing, bed spreads and more. Our style was even the same. We loved nothing more than shopping at Limited Too together and getting new clothes. She was never given a middle name, so I gave her one. Noosha Rose. It stuck and I still think of her as Noosha Rose to this day.

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I remember the anticipation we’d feel when Valentine’s day came around, as we’d coordinate how we could show our crushes we liked them around this time of year. It didn’t end without sheer and utter embarrassment…but we definitely weren’t afraid to encourage each other to wear our hearts on our sleeves from an early age in life. We would spend hours talking about boys and our anxiety over our eventual first kisses.

In middle school, we always chose our lockers to be next to one another. We prayed that we’d end up in the same classes, so that we could make songs up as a method of studying. I still remember our song for the scientific method. As co-presidents of our middle school, I remember getting the opportunity to use the school-wide intercom system to advertise our school dances and socials together. We were the dynamic duo.

In high school, life got tougher. I remember being there for each other through breakups, heart break, tough classes, and disappointments. We had a handful of classes together, and were able to be doubles partners a number of times on our tennis team. We traveled for sports together, and always gleamed in excitement over the team snack on game days. We’d make posters together in student government, and sign up to work in the student store on the same days at lunch. We celebrated getting into college, and both went on to our own universities—separating for the first time.

Through college, we remained best friends…keeping the communication between us alive. And today, we both live back in the same city together—doing Zumba together on Mondays and coordinating “tea time” to chat when we can. Noosh is the most loyal and dependable friend. She is selfless, caring, and genuine…always wanting the best for others. She is ambitious and hard-working. She is honest and a good listener. The absolute best role model I know.  She is beautiful, inside and out. She is the kind of person that everyone wishes they were like. I feel so lucky to have a lasting and meaningful friendship with Noosh. I hope that everyone, at some point in their lives, can meet a person like her.

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Cheers to the friendships that make life sweeter. Cheers to the people that add on to our world. Cheers to souls that are true and remarkable.

xx allie

 

Snack Smart

One of my main motivations for coming to work every day (and doing so in an upbeat mood) are the snacks I keep at my desk (is that sad? perhaps). I love to snack. In fact, I’ve noticed that almost any time someone approaches me at my desk, more often than not, I am with snack in hand.  But how am I able to live a sedentary desk lifestyle, while at the same time stuffing my mouth with snack after snack?

I guess ideally the object of the game is to choose healthy snacks. While admittedly, I’m not the best at this, with the start of the new year I’ve made it more of a priority to choose healthier snack options. I figured I’d share some of my favorites, in case you are starting to get bored with your current go-to’s.

  • Coffee—I start every work day off with a cup of coffee. I look forward to getting to work so that I can make my cup and enjoy it as I check my emails. Coffee sure ranges in strength and in flavor, so I’ve found that my absolute fave is the Don Francisco’s Vanilla Nut K-cup. So. Good. [must be consumed with flavored creamer for optimal taste]
  • Flavored Green Tea—you can find this at Trader Joes! I believe they have an unsweetened pomegranate blueberry flavor. I like drinking it cold with ice! There are antioxidants in it too!
  • Recently I’ve come across an adorable and healthy snack that I’m rather excited about! Both Target and Walmart carry these mickey-mouse shaped snack packs called “Foodles”—with compartments for apple slices, some cubes of cheddar cheese, and a few mini salted pretzels. I always eat the apple slices with crunchy almond butter from Trader Joe’s. It’s healthy, tasty, and satisfying all at once. I feel good because I’m eating fruit and protein in the same snack. These also come in different snack combinations: such as celery, peanut butter, and raisins, or yogurt, granola, and apple slices.

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  • Oranges. Straight up. I buy these from the grocery store and slice them up for easier eating. There is nothing more delicious than a juicy and sweet orange as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. I feel great eating oranges because I’m warding off sickness with the vitamin C (including scurvy, I like to tell myself…ahoy).
  • Lara Bars ooh yes. I consider these bars as more of a treat, since they are sweet and higher in calories for their size. They are the perfect snack to satisfy a sweet tooth. Every flavor of the Lara bar is made with only a few simple whole and natural ingredients. My favorite is the peanut butter chocolate chip. Ingredients include: dates, peanuts, semisweet chocolate chips, and sea salt. That is literally all. I have also heard that the chocolate chip cookie dough is good, as well as the apple pie.

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  • Nuts & Trail Mixes. I really like cashews, macadamia nuts, and pecans. The trio of delicious. Mix them with raisins, cranberries, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes, etc. and you’re golden.
  • Yogurt. I love to enjoy yogurt in the afternoon (at about 3-4pm). Flavors of choice are strawberry, peach, mocha, chocolate, french vanilla. While I know Greek is best, I tend to go for low-fat. In the off chance that I do choose to go for the Greek, I usually get the Chobani Flips type. These kind come with mix-ins that add a little something extra.

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  • Hard-boiled eggs! Every once in a while I bring 1-2 along with me. I lightly salt them and pop ‘em in! They are yummy and full of good protein and nutrients to power you up.
  • Fruit Leather. They come in all different fruit types, and are a great little pick-me-up when you’re on the run. Pop one in your purse since they’re super slim, and you’ll never find yourself out and about and shaking with hunger.

They say it’s good to eat small snacks throughout the day, to keep your metabolism going. Well, of course that’s only true if you’re putting healthy food inside of you. I know that sometimes we all go through periods of healthy and unhealthy eating. I hope that these ideas are helpful for you if you’re looking for some new snack ideas. Feel free to share any good ideas that you might have as well!

Thanks for reading!

xx allie

Life is Short, Travel Often.

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16th Street, Denver, Co

Oftentimes I browse through Expedia to find amazing vacation deals that are impossible to pass up. Expedia makes it easy to find non-stop flights and perfectly located hotels in big cities, foreign countries, and hotspot destinations. I highly recommend it to everyone. About a month ago, I found a wonderful deal to Denver, Colorado and booked it immediately! I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado, so when I got the opportunity to plan a vacation there I jumped on it.

My boyfriend and I flew out on Friday, the 13th. Although we were a little hesitant to fly on such a day, all things worked out as planned & we made it to Denver in one piece. Shout-out to Spirit airlines.

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Aboard the Spirit Plane

The city of Denver is quite unique. For a big city, the downtown area was remarkably quiet, with very little commotion. While we were not expecting it to be so calm in the city, I found that I enjoyed it immensely. Our hotel was smack dab in the middle of the city, with a room high on the 18th floor and the best possible view we could imagine! The room was warm and cozy, perfect for us.

We spent our first night there exploring around town. It was about 34 degrees outside and there were snow patches on the edges of the street—from snowfall a few days past I assumed. We cherished being able to see our breaths, and holding hands with our gloves on. We took every opportunity to point out snow piles and step on all of the ice—since it literally looked like it was placed there as part of the set of a movie. We realized we probably looked ridiculous to the locals…but we’re Californians! What can we say?

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18th Floor

We took some advice from our hotel’s valet and ate dinner at a place downtown called 5280 Burger Bar (Clever name since Denver is the Mile High City, 1 mile = 5280 ft). It was SO good. Ben and I got a number of gourmet sliders, fried pickles, some pints of beer and cider, and a few of their special homemade ice cream flavors. Denver was off to a good start! We then continued to explore the city, where we stumbled upon the Capital Building (we stood on the 13th step and were exactly a mile high!). We slow danced on a desolate street where we noticed a dance class was going on a few stories above us.  We borrowed their music for our dance (we lucked out since their window was cracked). Definitely a memorable moment that I’ll never forget.

Later we happened upon a Jazz Bar, called Jazz at Jack’s where we enjoyed a few drinks and admired the live music.  It was one of the highlights of the trip!  The band was energetic and fun, and we spent a good deal of time people watching the dancing audience. We then came back to the hotel to enjoy one of our favorite shows and travelling traditions, Forensic Files. I think Ben’s learned to like this one because of me.

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The next morning, we woke up early, ate breakfast quickly at The Corner Bakery Café, and headed to Union Station to catch a bus to Boulder, CO. By the way, Union Station is adorable. We met some friendly local folk on the bus, who gave us some suggestions while we were in town. Even the bus driver joined in on our conversation, making an hour-long trek seem like no more than 20 minutes.

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Starting the Morning Off Right…

 

Per their suggestions, we hiked at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, which was SO much fun. The trail was icy and slippery, so we took our time and headed up slowly…losing our balance a few times along the way. When we got to the top, we droned a bit and enjoyed the view. It was snowy on the ground and chilly in the air, but it was well worth it. We didn’t automatically notice how winded we were from the altitude, but later that night we were exhausted beyond belief!

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It’s Cold and I’m Loving it!
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So Pretty
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The Top!

We then took an uber back to downtown Boulder, ate at a cute little pizza place, and explored the Pearl Street Mall. It was a quaint little town, with street performers here and there, and little local shops. My favorite shops were a vintage jewelry store and a cute little chocolate shop called Piece, Love, and Chocolate. That chocolate is no joke though–$15 for 4 little truffles!

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Cutest Chocolate Shop in Boulder!

We then came across a pretty creek in the middle of downtown Boulder. We took photographs and drone footage of the half frozen waters. (to see our drone footage check out Ben’s instagram: @ben.fordham_ )

We took the train back to Denver before dinnertime and ate at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in the city. Our dinner came with two additional take-home entrees…so we spent some of our night searching for homeless people who could take the extra dinners off of our hands and enjoy them. In Denver, there are a lot of people holding signs on the street asking for help. Although some individuals were dissatisfied with the untouched meals (as they only wanted money), we found a young couple and gave them the food. They were appreciative, and my heart felt happy that we did our part to help.

We went back to the hotel that night, exhausted, watched our Forensic Files (which is always on), and passed out. Another great day.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit and headed to Snooze: An AM Eatery for breakfast. It is known as one of Denver’s most popular breakfast spots…and boy was it tasty! Then we walked around the Rhino Art District to see the amazing street art. It was everywhere, and it was fun to go on a hunt for hidden gems. After, we made our way to the Denver Botanical Gardens. Although all of the outdoor plants were dead (thanks snow), we thoroughly enjoyed walking around…as it was wintery and deserted…and the snow slowly started to fall!

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Hot Chocolate to Die For

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My Fave.
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Ben’s Fave
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So much love for the chocolate plant.
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Tropical Exhibit @ the Botanical Gardens

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Then we made our way to the Cherry Creek Mall, where we escaped the cold for a while and explored the indoor shopping area. We stumbled upon the Cherry Creek itself, which was inhabited by families of ducks. Again it was snowing, so we hopped inside to Johnny Rockets and had some hot dogs while watching the snow fall outside.

We went back to the hotel and napped before making our way out again to Wynkoop Brewing Co. for dinner, a three story brewery with pool tables, dart boards, foosball, and more! We ordered some pints and even tried buffalo meat for the first time. Not bad! We then strolled nearby the Denver Convention Center and got pics with the famous giant blue bear! We ended the night with some world renowned Voodoo Doughnuts and again, watched our fave—forensic files.

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Giant Blue Bear!
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Voodoo Doughnuts

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In.Sane.

When we awoke the next morning, the entire city was covered in about 3-4 inches of snow—just like a Winter Wonderland! We walked in the snow to a cozy breakfast spot nearby called The Delectable Egg, stopping to throw snowballs at each other along the way.

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Aside from the journey back home, that pretty much concluded our trip. It was so much fun, and full of unexpected and unplanned events. We went where the wind took us, and came to learn of new places from friendly locals who were eager to share. I am absolutely looking forward to our next trip! The time to explore is now. You’re the youngest right now than you’ll ever be again. Book your trip, see new places, and share your experiences. When you’re rich with culture and experience, you just can’t lose. Thank you for following.

xx allie

Introspection

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We all strive to have honest relationships with our friends, family members, and significant others. After all, honesty is the best policy. We want to feel like we can trust those who are close to us.

But sometimes, we are so caught up in determining whether there is sound honesty in our relationships, that we forget to be honest with ourselves first and foremost.

What does it mean to be honest with yourself? It means to reflect on your values and ideologies and evaluate whether you act in accordance with them. It means to listen to what you preach, or tell others, and interpret whether or not you practice these beliefs in your everyday life and actions. If there is a disconnect between the way you are, and the way that you tell yourself that you are, then perhaps you are not being honest with yourself.

If by being introspective you discover that there are inconsistencies between your actions and your dialogue (either internal or external), then perhaps it is time to reevaluate what is important to you and how you portray it.

It is definitely not easy to be honest with yourself. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes the truth feels better left unsought. Sometimes we’d rather lie to ourselves than deal with the discomfort of living with the truth. And still yet, no matter how honest you think you are being with others, if you are not honest with yourself then you are living less than ideally. Honesty with others often relies on the mere stipulation that you’ve been honest with yourself first.

When we ask others to be honest, therefore, we are really asking them to be honest with themselves. Nothing else is true or valuable without first the knowledge that this person has come to understand and uphold their own belief systems and values. They must be true to themselves, in order to gain our respect…and in order to gain our trust.

You can only suppress or deny a truth for so long, until it bubbles up from beneath the surface and becomes so blinding and apparent that you can barely withstand its noise. You cannot live a satisfying life by lying. You cannot feel fulfilled.

Introspection is key. Unfortunately, there are many individuals who will live their lives feeling unsatisfied, but never find the courage or patience to look within. When you look within, questions are answered, conundrums are solved, and discovery is promising. You can never unlearn what you learn, but who would want to? The truth will always set you free. The truth is your identity.

xx allie

The Trust Impasse & Building Credit

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One of the most important facets of any type of relationship is trust. The ironic part is that it is also notably the most difficult to achieve. So while it is vital to have it in a well-functioning and successful relationship, sometimes it takes a great deal of time until both parties wholeheartedly begin to trust one another. In fact, some individuals may try their entire life and never fully be able to trust anyone, while still others may be too trusting. The truth of the matter is, you either trust or you don’t. There is no in between. If you ‘kind of’ trust somebody, then you don’t trust them.

There are many different viewpoints regarding trust. While it is vital to some, others believe that no one can or should be trusted. They live life with a skeptical worldview, always on the defensive. While it is true that they may not be hurt as badly once someone inevitably betrays their trust, they in turn do not experience a relationship to its full potential.

For those individuals who do strive to achieve trust in their relationships, the approach seems to vary. For instance, some people believe that trust should be earned over time and through demonstration. Others believe that everyone should be initially deemed as trustworthy, until they do something that proves otherwise.

Personally, for me, I do believe that trust is important in relationships, and that people can be trusted to do the right thing. I also believe that trust takes time to build, and that it’s not always easy. These two fundamental beliefs join and leave me with a prolonged sense of cognitive dissonance. While on one hand I know that trust is crucial to the development and success of any interdependent relationship, on the other hand I am unable to expend trust until a decent amount of time has passed and I feel that I know a person well. Therefore, several months (or even years) can pass in a relationship, without achieving the vital aspect that nourishes any healthy relationship. This concept illustrates the struggle of reaching the “trust impasse”.

For a while, this dilemma felt strangely familiar to me. I experienced a feeling of déjà vu. After much deliberation, I recognized another situation with the same type of impasse. Building credit.

When I was younger, I distinctly remember having trouble being issued my first credit card. Not because I didn’t have a stable flow of income, but mainly because I hadn’t established enough credit. How ironic! I wanted to have a credit card, but didn’t have enough credit to be trusted to have one. Well, how was I to build credit without a vehicle for doing so? An impasse.

This is where the trust part comes in–there are some credit card companies that put their faith in you (even with little to go off of), and issue you a credit card so that you can build credit, and thus, creditworthiness. Building trust in a relationship is very much like building your credit. How can someone begin to earn your trust if they are never given the opportunity to? Without extending some initial trust to the person, there would never be a way for them to prove themselves to you, and thus to earn your trust. You would ultimately be at a standstill, never being able to work towards a solid foundation of trust. Slowly but surely, when the right decisions are made over the course of time, that individual will earn your trust and thus build their ‘credit’. Credit can’t be established until being issued a vehicle to establish it with—in this case, your faith & an opportunity.

All in all, the absolute worst case scenario is that a person shatters any trust that they’ve earned with you, and you learn. You learn that perhaps that person wasn’t who you thought they were, perhaps you aren’t compatible as friends or partners, or perhaps you weren’t on the same level of understanding. All you can ever do is hope for the best…but it always, inevitably, starts with a little faith.

xx allie

New Year, Better Me.

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Happy 2017.

It’s a new year, and I can already tell it’s going to be great.

However, the phrase, “New Year, New Me” has never quite sat well with me. The person that I will be this upcoming year, is namely a result of the experiences that I’ve had from the year prior, and every year before that. I am the result of the lessons that I’ve learned, the mistakes that I’ve made, and the growth that I’ve achieved. If it weren’t for all of the years leading up to this one, I would never be the person that I am today. Therefore, it’s not a “new” me that I am striving for, but rather a “better” me….an improved me that is wiser, and more intelligent, forgiving, and selfless than I’ve ever been in the past. For this reason and others, I believe that the goal should instead be “New Year, Better Me”. Improvement is key. I do not want to be a different person than before, just a better one.

While we are all in the midst of creating our new year’s resolutions…remember one thing–make a change that will last. Resolve to improve in a way that is sustainable for you. My resolution is to “challenge yourself in 2017“: whether it’s getting my butt in the gym more than I feel like, choosing the salad instead of the fries when I’m craving some carbs, attending a social event when I’d rather stay home and Netflix, or going out of my way to help someone in need. Nothing is out of bounds, even if it’s a challenge that is more difficult, like slowly weeding toxic people out of my life. I am going to push myself to do what is less comfortable, just because I  know it is the right thing, or the better thing for me.

This year is full of promise. This year is full of opportunity. This year is full of surprises. It can be the best year of your life, and it will be. Open your arms up wide for the things to come–both good and bad, as they will ultimately shape you into the better future version of yourself that you strive for.  Hone positivity, and spread compassion. What goes around, comes around.

May 2017 be all that you hope for, and all that you deserve. Happy New Year.