a love letter to my fierce friends

Today I had to drive over two hours to Knoxville, TN for a program. I decided that I would pick up a new podcast and to my delight, I found Jen Hatmaker's podcast "For The Love".

The first series in the podcast is around "For the Love of Girlfriends". It couldn't have been more appropriately timed. Lately I have been thinking long and hard about the wonderful girlfriends I have in my life. This past weekend I did a program at a conference for undergraduate students and I expressed the importance of loving your people and leaning on your people during the harder times in your life. This first episode of the series was with author Shauna Niequist. On the podcast, Shauna talks about friendship being a "shelter". She says,

Being sheltered under the nourishment of a friendship, it’s healing; it’s transformative, actually. You receive that kind of friendship because you are that kind of friend

Friendship truly is a shelter. And it is so important to find your people and love on them. So it got me thinking. In the spirit of strong, fierce, wonderful female friendships, I wanted to write a love letter to my friends. Anyhow, what's Valentine's Day without a love letter?

So here we go:

To my dear, wonderful, amazing friends,

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Hi. It's Gabbie. I wanted to take this time and let you know how much I truly love and appreciate every single one of you. Gratitude and spreading love is important to me, and today I want to shower you all with love like Leslie Knope showering Ann Perkins with compliments. It's just important to me.

I want to thank you for loving me when I'm irrational, hangry, or just truly stubborn. I want to thank you for loving me even harder when heart break, depression, or anxiety had taken over in the past. 

I love how you make me laugh uncontrollably and make me see the best version of myself. I love the tough love you give me when it comes to shitty guys, when I want to cut bangs again, or the "I told ya so"s when I choose to eat dairy and feel like hell after because I am lactose intolerant.

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I love when you drink wine with me on my couch and just talk for hours on end. I love when you let me visit you, whether it's in D.C, San Diego, NJ, or FL...because let's be real, my friends live all over the country. I love how we've grown up together, and have seen each other through acne, braces, first loves, prom, and going off to college...those memories can't be replaced no matter how many friends we keep making in this thing called life.

I love how you love on me enough to let me stand next to you at your wedding or cry with you when your heart breaks. I love when you cheer for me as I run crazy miles or let me cheer for you when you reach your goals and your dreams. 

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I love when you are authentically and truly you. My best memories are the late nights at Ikes, the early mornings doing community service, the road trips with the best music, the Homecoming block parties, and Greek Week. 

I love that you are pursuing your dreams and doing big things. I am so lucky to be surrounded by women crushing their goals, whether it be starting non profits and moving to Africa or being the owner of an amazing gym in town. Friends like that are hard to come by and they continue to inspire me.

I love every Instagram meme, Snapchat, text, or tweet you send me. I love the daily G chats to remind me my friends are not as far away as they sometimes can seem. I love how you trust me. I love how I can trust you with anything. 

Most of all, I am so lucky to have each and every single one of you in my life. I wouldn't be half the woman I am today if it wasn't for your support and love. I love how you all rise me up. Thank you for being the constants in my life. Thank you for making me feel like everything will be alright. Thank you all for always being my favorite Galentines. And most importantly...thank you for being my "shelter".

I love you so much!

xox,

Gabbie

new year, new intentions: whole 30 on the road!

So let me preface this blog post with the following:

  1. I am not a nutritional expert and will not claim to be (props to those who are - the pre-reqs in college to be a nutritionist...hard!). That being said this is advice from just an average gal.
  2. The Whole 30 may not be for everyone. Kind of like how Crossfit isn't for me. That being said, here is my PSA that whatever makes your body and you feel good, do that. For some that's the Whole 30, for other's it's eating a plant based diet, or maybe for others it's taking a walk and eating well. Do what works and don't be pressured by what the media deems is critical for "#fitspo". Here's a good article on all that.
  3. This lifestyle may not be realistic all of the time (hence the 30 days), especially with travel, however, after some requests on how I managed this with travel last year when I did the Whole 30, I am going to share with you some tips and tricks of being a #roadwarrior.

SO. Whole 30 and Travel. It's not easy, but it's doable. 80% of the battle is telling yourself that you can do it, you are capable. and you are flexible. So if you travel a lot for work, tell yourself these things right now before you start the Whole 30...and then breathe. Great.

Here is what I learned last year during a travel season and doing the Whole 30...

1. Learn to love the bunless burger, grilled chicken salads, steaks and more! From Carbondale, Illinois to Columbia, South Carolina there are options everywhere.

Last year during the Whole 30 I was traveling to a few different campuses and was nervous about the options. What soon became my go to meals at many restaurants were a burger, no bun, no cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and a side of vegetables (no butter, duh), or a side salad with oil and a lemon or vinegar, or if I was real lucky, a baked potato...(no butter). It is possible. I went to a CHILIS and ordered a steak and two sides of steamed broccoli and told them to not use any butter. Lose your pride now and just ask for these things when you're on the road, you'd be surprised, servers don't act as weird as you think they would! Also, when in doubt, you can always find a grilled chicken salad. 

**Pro tip. If you are lucky and in a town where there is a Whole Foods, go to the hot bar. Ingredients are listed everywhere! Another great option, Chipotle, carnitas salad, no dressing, lettuce, guac, salsa!

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2. Next, know that you are doing the BEST you can and that may mean not grass fed beef and you may not know if anything got cross contaminated.

The risk of eating out will always come with this. Not much more to say about that.

3. PACK SNACKS. DEAR LORD PACK SNACKS. 

If you don't take anything away from this blog post, just take this one nugget away. I always have a purse full of RX Bars, almond butter packs, and other compliant snacks. When the hanger hits and I'm in an airport with one terminal and really no food options, I whip out a RX bar and go to town. Also, you can always find fruit in airports. And nuts. And even hard boiled eggs...just do it. 

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4. Learn to love black coffee or BYOAOCM (Bring your own almond or coconut milk). 

No coffee shop I have ever been to has had an almond milk with no sugar added or no carrageenan...and if you know me, I've been to a lot. Heck I'm writing this from a coffee shop right now. So, come prepared. Or become a tea drinker and pack your own packs!

5. Bring a refillable water bottle everywhere you go!

Most airports now have nifty refillable water bottle stations. Do this! It'll force you to always be drinking water.

6. And last, but not least, tell your colleagues you're doing the Whole 30.

While it is inevitable you may become that annoying person that constantly talks about the Whole 30, jokes aside, it's good to tell the people you work with that you're doing this! That way when it's late after a travel day, and you're a little grumpy because you can't reach for the usual red glass of wine, they will understand!! Also they will be your biggest assets!

...but I do. Talk to me or find others in your circle to talk #Whole30 with!

...but I do. Talk to me or find others in your circle to talk #Whole30 with!

I'd love to hear what other tips my fellow road warriors have or come up with! It may be hard, but it is worth it. You can do anything for 30 days!

 

more heart, less attack

Earlier this week, my sweet friend Alison and I went to see NEEDTOBREATHE's acoustic show at The Ryman. Now if you're unfamiliar, The Ryman, otherwise known as "Mother Church", is one of the most historic and amazing music venues in the United States. During their set they totally unplugged at one point, Gavin DeGraw came out, they all sang "Brother", and let the acoustics carry their voices. Incredible and bone chilling.

However I digress. One song by NTB that I love is. "More Heart, Less Attack" and it is a song I've been reflecting on a lot recently.

I started 2017 with an intention to spread love and kindness, and while I feel like I've done an okay job at that, there is one person that towards the end of 2017 I haven't spread enough love to and that person is myself. 

The past two months have been an absolute whirlwind between travel, buying a home, work, and just life in general. While these things have been inherently good, the stress has really taken a toll on me. I've found myself regressing to old habits, making excuses, and just getting into a personal rut that is not healthy. 

My freshman year of college I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and depression. Since 2008, I've learned how to manage it and treat it with yoga, essential oils, exercise, journaling, etc. However, recently, because I've been so "busy" (which I DESPISE that word - but we'll save that digression for another time), I haven't been doing much of what I need to manage my mental health. Heck, I even missed a therapy appointment and didn't even realize it until it was too late.

In "More Heart, Less Attack", NEEDTOBREATHE sings:

The more you take, the less you have
’Cause it’s you in the mirror that’s starin’ back
Quick to let go, slow to react
Be more heart and less attack

As I head home for the holidays tomorrow, it is critical that I begin to let go of the narrative in my head that tells me I'm doing not so hot, I need to be intentional in not taking on more in 2018, and I need to be more heart towards myself, and less attack. We as human beings are works in progress, ever changing, and I need to remember that...we all need to remember that.

As we enter 2018 and the holidays, spread more h e a r t y'all; with yourselves, with family, with friends, with strangers. The holidays can be really isolating and hard; be kind to yourselves, make the space you need, and just be present. 

I am thankful I got to experience this amazing show earlier this week and also an amazing show last night (JOHNNYSWIM!) - it's sparked moments of reflection. 

Happy Holidays all! See you in 2018!

NEEDTOBREATHE at The Ryman

NEEDTOBREATHE at The Ryman

a different kind of "throwback thursday".

A week from today, October 5, 2017, I will be boarding a plane from Nashville to Chicago for my SECOND Chicago Marathon. I'll spend the weekend with my parents, run Sunday, and then drink copious amounts of beers and eat a decent amount of pizza following. I woke up today feeling excited, energized, a little nervous, but ready. During my taper run at lunch though (as with all my runs) I got thinking...

October 5, 2016 looked a lot different. On October 5, 2016 my calendar tells me I went to the coffee shop for the take over of "Luke's" which was to commemorate the return of "Gilmore Girls". I sent a few emails that day and had a phone call. What my calendar fails to capture is that I was really, deeply sad and depressed. My heart was broken. I dragged myself to work that day and tried to find joy in the things I could, but was really hurt.

That week in October started a year of putting myself first, showing up for myself, learning a lot, and making mistakes along the way. The year also forced me to find community and find where I really belonged...which can be hard. I spent a lot of time those first few months, feeling not enough or not worthy. I felt like I was walking through a haze and couldn't totally process or feel things or moments with people. 

Soon enough as I continued to "take back my life" (for lack of a better term), I started to feel whole again and like myself. I made the right friends, had the right community, had the right people on my team, a great family, and my great therapist. While I've written about loving myself, the other night I had the opportunity to see my favorite author Brene Brown and she talked about the idea of belonging and this really resonated with me...especially thinking back to this time last year.

When talking about "True Belonging", one of the biggest pieces I took away from this talk was that we should,

Stop walking through the world looking for the evidence that you don’t belong. We carry our belongings in our own heart.

This hit home for me. I did walk around feeling like I didn't belong, especially after a breakup. The self doubt and feelings of unworthiness did produce this feeling. I felt vulnerable and raw. Seeing Brene and hearing her say this was like full circle.

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I have learned a lot this past year of putting myself first. While companionship is lovely and we are wired for love and connection, I've learned you can have that while not compromising what your priorities in life. I've learned that the people you need in life are the people who show up, physically and emotionally, and you should show up for others and if you can't, provide a reason.

Most importantly though, I've learned what I've always known, but that I am enough, I belong, and taking care of myself does not mean I am selfish, but it is critical to being my best self. I hope that if you're going through something, you know these things too. I think the marathon will be the best way to end this "year" of learning - I am ready to celebrate myself for 26.2 miles in 10 days!

you are enough.

So this summer I gained some weight.

Probably not how you expected this blog post to start out. And for my readers, please note that this isn’t a self deprecating, looking for attention post.

In a world where we are constantly evaluating what to eat next, what work outs to do, etc., I feel it is not often that we find posts that talk about this topic.

A few weeks ago I jokingly texted my best friends, “I’m not sure if I shrunk my clothes or gained weight.” Half joking, half not, I got myself on the scale (for the first time in a few months) and sure enough a good 7lbs had crept their way onto my body.

This sent me into a bit of a shame spiral. How can that be possible? I eat pretty well, with indulgences in moderation! I’m training for a marathon – seriously?! I work out more than I did when I last was this weight! This was all the self-talk and hatred that I was giving myself internally.

I felt like a hypocrite. I tell my friends to talk to themselves like they talk to someone they love. Yet, here I’ve been doing the complete opposite.

I’ve always had mixed feelings on the scale. Typically those were not positive feelings. This one household item has been the thing that at some points in my life I let define me. I remember a summer coming home from college where I literally ate 1000 - 1100 calories a day and worked out on an elliptical every single day, sometimes twice a day. I would weigh myself every single day because it was so important to me that I got back for the semester looking "skinny" and ready for all the big fall campus events, sorority recruitment, and socials that I’d be a part of. I borderline lost a summer over that.

As I tend to internalize and overanalyze, I started thinking what have I been doing this summer that is different that got me here.

And I thought, I’ve been having fun. I’ve been social with my friends. I’ve drank mimosas on a rooftop after doing yoga. I celebrated birthdays. I went to a burlesque show. I went to Mexico and Florida and Boston.  I visited my friends in St. Louis. I’ve planned a major convention (that had it’s fair share of stress) and got to go to Disney World at the end of it! 

So yes, what’s been different is that I’ve been social and I’ve been present. It was the first summer in a few years where I had the opportunity to own my own schedule with no one else in the picture. And with that came a few pounds. I also was stressed and when I’m stressed it is proven that my cortisol levels go way up and that totally affects the body (another topic for another day).

If a few pounds came on as a result of me having drinks with friends, eating out more often and traveling, then I’m doing pretty great. I’d rather know that I continued to deepen connections and make great memories than have sat at home all summer! I'm lucky.

Today I went to the doctor, he told me my blood work was superb and my blood pressure and other vitals were great. I am so thankful for this body that lets me move and do wild things like run 14 miles on a Sunday. Life is an ebb and flow. It’s okay that sometimes you may not love yourself as much as you should, but by damn it’s important to take the work to recognize that you are enough and that you’ll be okay.