Thursday, January 29, 2015

"When Are You Due?"

It's every women's worst nightmare.  The dreaded "when are due?" question.  Perhaps you're still digesting last night's burrito, or Aunt Flow is in town, adding a little extra bump.  Regardless of the reason, we know that when we bloat, the questions will come.

Perhaps people think they are being kind when they ask.  Like you are doing something absolutely amazing for the human race, procreating and producing one of life's little miracles, maybe they're just making small talk when they give you their seat on the bus.  Either way, without fail I am asked on a weekly basis, when I due, how far along I am, or how much I am glowing.  And without fail it always catches me by surprise.

You see I am not thin, nor am I fat.  I am what most people would describe as average.  Perhaps I slouch more than I should and I may be one of those women who balloon after every meal but my stomach doesn't bulge out.

When these people ask about my pregnancy pooch, I always correct them, even if they're offering their seat on the bus.  Most of them apologize profusely, some give me that "oh my god" look before remaining quiet, and a few have just continued to make small talk like they didn't just mistake my bloating stomach for a growing child.
I'm the "largest" beautiful bikini clad lady.
But we are all lovely, in all different shapes.
I avoid stripes and tighter tops, all while making sure my pants are high waisted and covering any type of pudgy that could be taken for a "belly".  I'm not alone.  For generations, we as women have been stuffing our bodies into restrictive support underwear, Spanx, and working out with the goal of a "flat and toned" abdomen.  But my stomach is something I've always been proud of.  Even when I was bigger, my stomach wasn't unsightly, it wasn't unflattering, it was just wider.  Sure, I don't necessarily fit the "ideal" body type but lets face it, most of us don't.

But regardless of body type, our bodies are constantly changing.  When I first wake up in the morning, my stomach is flat, it's the flattest it's going to be all day.  Lunch time rolls around and so do I, leading to the ultimate bulge-fest; dinner.  But then there's this.  Dear Abby, a well known advice columnist, actually offered this advice when it comes to mistakenly being asked if you're pregnant:

DEAR ABBY: I'm a single, successful professional woman who carries her weight in one place — my belly. Despite many diets and exercise programs, I am unable to lose my belly. Because of this, I'm often mistaken for being pregnant.Strangers in shopping malls, at professional seminars and in hotels while traveling will ask me when I am due. My usual response is, "I'm not pregnant. I'm just chubby and need to hit the gym." (The other evening, though, I responded, "Not soon enough!")The last straw was at a recent book signing where the author wrote, "Enjoy your growing life." Any thoughts? — NOT A BABY BUMP IN MILWAUKEE

And Abby's answer?  

DEAR NOT A BABY BUMP: I do have a few. Have you considered wearing a foundation garment? If you already wear one, then I have more suggestions. First, discuss this with your doctor, a nutritionist and a personal trainer. And if they can't help you, talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon about liposuction.

Seriously?  Obviously Abby has never been mistakenly called pregnant.  Here's some advice; don't comment, don't ask, even if it's a friend, let them tell you if they're creating a little miracle in there.So we bloat, we smile, and we try and tell you nicely that no we are not pregnant, and no it's not acceptable to ask.  It's easy to just say "no I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat, thank you"  it usually teaches whomever did the asking the lesson.  Perhaps we believe it's ok to comment about a possible pregnancy because when we see a bulge, we react, and while society celebrates pregnancy, it shames obesity, so we opt for the celebratory response to the appearance.  Perhaps it's easier for society to see you as a beautiful pregnancy woman, rather than a fat woman who is also pretty. Until then, I'll continue to explain that "no, I am not pregnant, and no it's never acceptable to ask, but thank you for the bus seat."

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Makes a House a Home?

She was my first love.  A small split level on a dirt road in a small New England town.  Built sometime in the 1950s as a "vacation home" located right on the river.  I'm sure the planning didn't account for the annual flooding that left her a little worst for wear.  She's masculine like Athena, strong like mother-earth, and warm like Mother Teresa.  But she was more than her walls, her red door, painted green and blue over the years, her one-car garage, and basement finished by the hands of my father.  She extended into the gardens, her porch stretching out into the wild, her arms reaching past the surrounding forest into the wildlife sanctuary, into the stage of my childhood.  In the summertime, her green grass and garden hose sprayed away the heat and in the winter, she glistened in white, perfect at every angle and crevice.  But the autumn was always her favorite time of year.  She front lawn lined with pumpkins, surrounded by a warm yellowing glow of the leaves brushing against her roof tiles.  She's just a house, just a home.

She saw the birth of two children in the back bedroom, three marriages between two divorces.  She's been the background for self discovery, for failure, for success, for love, for anger, but most of all she's been the stage in life for so many.  And regardless of what you believe makes a "home" complete, she stood strong as those she loved walked away from her, moved on with their lives, and when they returned, she embraced them without a question.

As a child I would rest inside her, her apple tree watching me through the window, feeding me in the summertime, hosting my home-made bird feeders in the winter.  I'd climb onto her roof and watch the clouds pass by, imagining I was on top of the world and I was.  I was for a moment on top of her world, the epicentre of home. I spilled countless mugs of tea down her stairs but she would always forgive me.  I would run down her hallways, running my hands down her banisters, along the London Underground Posters tattooed upon her walls.  She would shelter me when my father would raise his voice and protect me behind her closed doors.  She was my everything, my best friend, and when my parents divorced, she became my mother and my father.  Perhaps that's why it feels asthough I am loosing a parent.  Someone who still has lessons to teach, someone who spent their entire existence protecting me, raising me, and coming to my every aid.  It was just me and her, her and me, always and forever.

Now we're giving her up.  They're giving her up.  I'm merely a viewer in the audience as her stage is no longer my own.  Her walls have grown old but are still willing to give.  She's ready for her next family, after all she's a home, always has been, always will be.  So how do I give her up?  How do I let go of my home, the home I have not lived in since I was 14.  Regardless of how many years separate my home from being mine, somewhere I knew she would always be there for me.  She'd open her door at a moment's notice if she caught wind I'd be returning.  And now she won't be mine to return to.

Suddenly the homelessness sinks in.  Yes I have four walls and a roof over my head, but I don't have her.  I won't be able to run my hands down her hallways or sit by her fireplace again.  I won't be able to spill anymore tea on her stairs or gaze at the apple tree waiting for it to fruit next summer.  Will her gardens stay green?  Will her new family love her like I did?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, January 26, 2015

An Open Letter to Snow

Dearest Snow;

I know over the past few years our relationship has been more than just a little strained.  Without fail you're there each year, pouring yourself wholeheartedly
 without abandon.  I on the other hand have no one to blame for myself.  I find myself far away from you each year when you need me most.  My Christmases haven't been white in years, and I know "I'm sorry" isn't good enough anymore.

But I can't help but think of the good times.  Remember when we were both younger, when the world seemed to hold less responsibilities.  We would frolic together, clinging to one another, your icy fingers embraced my pink cheeks.  When I was tired, you would peacefully blanket my home while I slept, so I'd be able to play with you in the morning once more.  And when I was hungry, you'd satisfy me smothered in maple syrup.  You were the thing that cancelled school when I didn't feel like taking that algebra test.  You made the hot chocolate taste that much better.  Without you, there would have been no winter wonderland.

I understand you're angry.  How did I repay you for those magical memories?  I moved away to America's finest city, 360 days of sun and 70 degree weather, a city that you will never see during my lifetime.  I may have left you, but I never forgot you.  If you only knew how I longed for you every year, perhaps you wouldn't have done this.

But you have, you've taken away the one thing I needed.  I have been working 90-hour work weeks for the last 3 months without a day off.  This week was supposed to save us, it was suppose to not only reunite us but rekindle that spark we used to have.  I was coming home, coming home to YOU.  But instead you've decided to pummel the people and places I love.  You've taken away my time to rest, my chance to see my growing grand niece and the chance to see my childhood home once more before it's sold out of the blood-line forever.  These things cannot be replaced.

I wish I could tell you I forgive you, that there is hope, but my dearest darlingest I need time.  You've broken my heart and my spirit, you've shown me a side of you that I cannot easily forgive.  Perhaps one day I will long for your embrace again, but until then you are nothing more than a cold hearted son of bitch. Nothing more than a blizzard,

With all of my broken heart -

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Going "Home"

It's been 9 years since I graduated from High School.  That makes me old.  My news feed is full of engagements, weddings, sonograms and babies taking their first poops.  Whoop-de-frickin-doo.  I on the other hand am kind of thrilled not to be engaged, getting married, or having any baby poop to clean up.  My facebook updates usually consist of how many hours I'm working, how completely exhausted I am, or small reminders that life isn't so bad.  I haven't necessarily accomplished anything other than baby steps towards happiness.  And while right now in life, happiness doesn't necessarily include my engagement and wedding rings getting covered in baby poop, that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me.  But as I prepare for a trip back east, to my minuscule hometown, it's not just my underwear I have to remember to pack.

Luckily my parents aren't the overbearing "when are you going to settle down and give us grandchildren" type.  But that doesn't mean wandering around my small town gets any easier.  Wayland, Massachusetts is the home to a little more than 13,000 people, these people who lets face it, all seem to know one another, connected by blood and property lines.  The average median household income is around $121,000 and it's noted residents live up to those numbers.  The CEO of Bose was neighbors with one of the special prosecutors involved in the Watergate Scandal.  While the bass player for Aerosmith still calls the town his home, along with Orange is the New Black star Taylor Shilling.  Rock stars, medical miracle workers, sports legends, and regular CEOs all shop at the same Dunkin' Donuts, they're my childhood friend's uncles, aunts, parents, grand parents, god parents, and neighbors.  Aside from the wealth and success flowing from the small town is the pressure to do as they do, make the money, have the babies, marry rich, earn the degrees  and be the best.

I'm packing way more than clean underwear.  "You're fine", "you're normal", "there isn't anything wrong with you because you don't make 6 figures", "...because you're not engaged", "...because you're not working on the cure for Alzheimer's", "....because you're not really doing anything notable in this world."  The post it notes dot my brain as I prepare for the nostalgia of growing up surrounded by wealth and success.  Before I knew any better I thought I could be anything, maybe even a Rockstar myself, then later realizing rejection letters from dream schools are a real thing, dreams can be crushed, and what was always normal, suddenly becomes something out of reach.

I am going "home" but it isn't "home" anymore.  The houses have changed, the faces have aged, but the mentality has not.  Perhaps the snow will smell the same it did when I was a child, perhaps that for sale sign outside my families home will sting just as much as the frost.  And while I continue to pack in preparation for the unknown, the nostalgia, the questions, the fears that 9 years after I left, I am returning a failure, I write one more post it note; "Remember you're only going "home" for 5 days and at least you'll have clean underwear."

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The thing about Hollywood...

For most of the world Hollywood is Los Angeles.  There is no real distinction when it comes to the two names.  The glitz and glamour of the film industry has made the two synonymous the world over.   For even more, it's not a physical place but a state-of-mind.  "I'm going to Hollywood" was once part of a version of the American dream.  These young hopefuls of course meant they were heading to Los Angeles, in hopes of making it big on the silver screen. Majority of the studios have now moved from the quirky district, but their history remains.

Those from the LA-LA-land or Southern California and they'll tell you, they don't venture to the "Hollywood" us foreigners know and want to see.  But we go, we walk the Hollywood Walk of fame, our feet tip toeing over the famous names each printed on their own star in the cement sky.

Con-men and women wearing super hero costumes and dressed as their celebrity doppelgangers control the flow of traffic.  Jimmy Hendrix plays an electric guitar while Sponge Bob Square Pants tells Darth Vadar about his weekend.  A fight begins between two versions of the same character over and over again.  It's a constant turf war between the red Spiderman and the black Spiderman.  The tourists watch the show, but the battle is real.

Chewbacca pulls me in to take a picture with him then tells me he has change for $100.  I hand him a dollar and he begins to get aggressive, explaining his monetary needs and flashing $50 dollar bills in his hands.

We turn towards the famous Chinese Theatre and see a sign "free photograph with Oscar".  We pile down the red carpet and yell "Hollywood" while a man snaps our image.  But it's not free.  Nothing comes for free in Hollywood.  We're ushered into a small shop off the red carpet leading away from Oscar.  Everything is $5, so we buy souvenirs for our families, hoping their plastic Oscar that reads "World's Best ___________" will keep the magic of Hollywood alive.

45 minutes into the walk, we're ready to run.  The neighborhood has a mind of it's own and The Green Lantern has Jack Sparrow in a head lock blocking the city bus in the right hand lane.  Our celebrities are merely criminals in fancy dress, Oscar is nothing more than a plastic statue, and the glitz and glamour is simply poor neon lighting and the smell of cheap grease.

We've made it to Hollywood.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

SD Restaurant Week; Blown Away at Bleu Boheme

It's that time of year again.  The only week where I can actually afford to binge at some of San Diego's finest eateries; Yes my dearest readers, we're talking San Diego Restaurant Week.  The bi-annual event works with hundreds of restaurants through out the county, to offer us hungry folk lunch and dinner deals ranging from $10-$50 for a taste of their best dishes.

We're no strangers to the week, having been to Croce's Park West during the last round of America's Finest Foodie Week.  And sticking to the french-fusion theme, this time we decided to go full immersion and step directly into the Parisian hole in the wall; Bleu Boheme.

The menu was extensive, and for restaurant week that's all one can really ask for.  Three courses awaited our eager (and rumbling) bellies for just $40.

We walked in the door, greeted by friendly staff and led through the blue dining room.  The walls dotted with specials and tables lined with couples taking advantage of the ultimate romantic date night.  We sat in the corner next to the grey stone walls, reminiscent of a pantry or french kitchen, walls that have seen culinary magic.

As I looked at the walls, bread and butter was placed on the candle lit table, the wine was poured.  Now for the hard part.  What to eat?  For the first course, there was Escargots a la Portugaise; escargots in red wine broth with  chick peas, linguica sausage, paired with a blue cheese croquette.  And a plate of Tartare de Suamon Fume; rum smoked salmon with goats cheese crepes, lemon zest, capers and caviar creme fraiche.  The two were nearly complete opposites.  The escargots paired with the sausage, creating a smokey bloody taste.  While the rum smoked salmon was light with a creamy crepe and creme fraiche.

With appetizers wiped clean from our plates, we prepared ourselves for the main course. Beef Bourguignon; so rich, it melts in your mouth.  Beef short rib in red wine with mushrooms, house smoked bacon, carrots, baby potatoes and carmalized pearl onions.  Before I talk about the other course I must admit I rarely order the "chicken". Somewhere along the line I made a rule for myself, never order something you can easily make at home.  And chicken just seems to be one of those easy dishes.   Regardless I opted for the Poulet Montrachet; Mary's farm chicken breast roasted with prosciutto, mustard greens, gnocchi, and Chevre goats cheese mushroom sauce.  Again, the two dishes were nearly opposites.  The beef was beyond rich, just the thought makes your mouth pucker with that savory flavor.  While the chicken was cooked to perfection (probably not an easy feat) and paired with creamy mushrooms, goats cheese sauce and delicate gnocchi.  By the end of our meals, the idea that desert was yet to come was enough to unbutton our waistlines.

And desert did come.

A Crepe a la Creme Brulee; For the non-chocolate lover among us. Words cannot describe this particular take on the classic, so I'll have you picture a creme brulee inside a crepe, smothered in glittery magic.  Then there was per the waiter's suggestion La Pain d' Epice; warm gingerbread with strawberry confiture and caramel ice cream.  Well done waiter, the gingerbread bleu us away.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Go Go Goodness at Starbucks

So, I'm a Dunkin' girl.  Growing up on the East Coast, Starbucks really wasn't even a thing for me until I was in Middle School, when the rich side of town and poor side of town shared classrooms.  Starbucks?  You mean I can go somewhere else to get a cup of coffee for twice the price? Wait what?  Don't ask me why I was drinking large amounts of coffee in Middle School but I was, and I continued through out High School and well, lets just say it's 7:32 p.m. and I'm on my 5th cup of the day.  But now that I live in San Diego, I can't actually be a Dunkin' girl.  That leaves Starbucks or 7/11, Oh Thank Heaven for Starbucks.

So I drink my coffee and order the occasional pastry.  The staff know me by name and order and when I say I'm craving chocolate or vanilla, I trust them to alter my drink without instruction.  I have come to absolutely love my local Starbucks and as a Dunkin' girl, the guilt is slowly killing me.

But Starbucks is slowly curing that guilt with a new menu.  And I'm not talkin' coffee.  Their new Bistro Boxes are all part of a new healthy initiative called "Go go goodness".  AAnd as an avid Starbucks goer over their so-called paninis, I couldn't be happier.

The Omega 3 Bistro Box is becoming a real favorite of mine.  Inside is a wild smoked salmon spread with cream cheese and nonfat greek yogurt, edamame hummus, Omega-3-infused trail mix, wheat-free crackers, cucumbers and dark chocolate covered almonds. Holy delicious-ness.  Words cannot describe how ridiculously good every single morsel of the box is.

And if you need more than crackers and dips, their new wraps are to die.  The best by far is their Edamame Hummus Wrap Box. Unfortunately this is so popular, I usually miss out by the time my stomach is growling.  Inside you get 3 pieces of zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and garlic-herb-cheese spread on a spinach tortilla.  With roasted tomato hummus and sesame-seed flax crackers.  Nom Nom Nom.

I may still be a Dunkin' girl at heart, but I'm finding in my stomach I'm much more of a Starbucks girl.  Anyone else tried the new Bistro Boxes?  Chime in the comments below!

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Instagram-ing Potato Chip Rock

San Diego's east county is dotted with mountain tops, and while many residents spend their weekends hiking to their summits, there is one rock that is getting all the glory: Potato Chip Rock.  And while hiking enthusiasts say the 8-mile round trip journey to the summit of Mount Woodson is one of the most beautiful in San Diego, others argue it's the powerful images appearing on Instagram that are fueling it's popularity.

So of course, I went, I saw, I instagramed.

Despite the photo, the hike is so much more than a small rock on it's summit.  The 8-mile desert hike offers stunning views from Poway to the coast, on a clear day one can see Catalina Island.  And trust me, those views are going to be the thing that keeps you going.  The first half of the hike is an uphill climb,  After the 2 mile marker, the trail turns into more of a rocky stairway to it's peak.

Once at the top, you'll see Potato Chip Rock hanging over it's 200+ foot drop at the base of three large satellite towers.  Don't be surprised if you have to wait in line to get your photo taken on the rock.  Just a warning, the view isn't for the faint of heart and the rock isn't the easiest thing to get down from (just ask my scraped knees and elbows).

How to get there: 

The Mt. Woodson trail head starts in the Lake Poway Recreation Park. Located at:
14644 Lake Poway Road,
Poway, CA 92064

What to bring:

First and foremost, this isn't an easy hike, so water is going to be your best friend.  I went through my liter bottle before reaching the summit.  Another thing to remember is, this is the desert, so hiking from April-August isn't the best idea.  Temperatures reach well above 100 degrees in the summertime, so dress appropriately - that means sunscreen!  Another tip?  Bring snacks.  Granola bars and California mandarins are always a good choice.  Last but not least, make sure your camera has batteries baby!

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting fit in Downtown SD

Photo courtesy from Scripps
Hundreds gathered for a FREE yoga class aboard the USS Midway!
Getting "fit" isn't easy.  We flood our schedules with excuses.  There aren't enough hours in the day to get sweaty exercising, we have jobs, families, and somewhere in the middle of all of it we have to cook a healthy dinner.  It's not just the exercise part that's difficult, it's everything else that comes along with it.

Luckily for us beach-bums in San Diego, we're living in a place that's sunny and warm 360 days a year.  We have hundreds of miles of beaches, parks and canyons to venture into.  Yoga studios dot our city streets the way Dunkin' Donuts does in Boston and New York.  We are a healthy-living obsessed breed.  Yet still, we struggle with time.  The weather might be nice and we may be able to wear yoga pants and flip flops to work, but we still have jobs, families, and dinner is still waiting.

Now the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Scripps Health care are making it easier to work a full day, take care of your family, cook dinner, AND get in a work out!  The initiative hosts weekly yoga classes in the many parks, healthy cooking classes at various restaurants and grocery stores, and lunch-time walks.  We all take a "lunch", don't we?  Why not spend it walking around San Diego's historic Gaslamp?

Here are a list of some of the healthy events coming up:

01/22: Stretch Yourself Yoga class 18:00-19:00
01/23: Lunch-time stroll around Petco Park 12:00 - 12:30
01/31: Healthy Winter Meals Cooking class at Jimbo's Naturally. 11:30 - 12:30


02/07: Stretch Yourself Yoga Class 09:00 - 10:00
02/13: Lunch-time stroll in the waterfront district 12:00 - 12:30
02/19: Healthy Cooking Class at Jimbo's Naturally 18:00 - 19:00
02/26: Stretch Yourself Yoga Class 18:00 - 19:00
02/27: Lunch-time stroll in Marina district 12:00 - 12:30

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Optic Travel

As I looked over his vacation photographs, I couldn't help but let the "travel jealousy" wash over me.  Palm trees dotting the purple and orange sunsets, beautiful vistas reaching the horizon line, and small crocodiles in the lush green swamp.

The optic nerve is an amazing tool.  As humans we see a visual and immediately our brains start processing the image.  We subconsciously identify what the image is, what it means to us, and we relate it to our past experiences.  When we see something we've never really seen before, it can take our breath away in both good ways and in the worst case scenario we can go into shock.  That's why some of us tend to freeze when we see a car speeding directly towards us, or panic in an emergency situation.  We've never seen our house on fire before, our brain is working overtime to process it, to relate the flames to something we have deep inside our brains.  And when we can't relate, our brain gets stuck on a visual loop, the image continues to transmit to our brain, which, in turn continues to try and grasp some sort of reaction.

Of course looking at photographs from a friend's recent travels to Mexico isn't going to send my brain into a visual loop or any type of shock.  The images simply remind me of the beautiful places I have been, the places I want to go, and the beauty of the world around me.

They say that it's all about the journey, but sometimes it's also about the destination my dearest readers.  Sometimes the journey is crap but when you arrive to that mountain top, or that beautiful coastline, you don't care that the small low-budget airline lost your bags or that your travel companion spilled their hot coffee in the lap of your new white pants.  You just stand, take it all in, breathe deep.

People always ask what my favorite destination has been.  It's one hell of a loaded question.  I know where I've had the best food, the best parties, the best festivals and the most beautiful temples.  I know where the chocolate tastes the best, the vodka tastes the worst, and the fashion is beyond questionable.  I know where I wouldn't go again and where I'd move if the opportunity knocked this very second.  But to isolate it to one place?  I'm not sure we're built that way.  Like our amazing optic nerve, our brain doesn't just translate the image into one idea.  But it grasps at every single part of our brain, reaching the depths of our subconscious to figure out exactly whatever the thing we're looking at, means to us.  We're constantly growing, learning, and transforming into different people.  Our daily routines effect who we are, what we want, what we like, and who we are going to be in the future.  What you do in this very moment will in just another moment become part of your past, part of who you are, part of that optic nerves translation.

So don't pick favorites, just accept that the chocolate tastes better there, and you're not suppose to drink the water here.  Accept the smell of fresh rain makes you calm and that no matter how hard you try and like the beach, the sand will always annoy you. Breathe deep and remember it is about the journey but also about the destination.  You don't have to choose, you don't have to pick favorites.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Friday, January 09, 2015

Here's the Real Skinny

I'm in the middle of weight loss.  I've been working my butt off (literally) to shed some pounds, the healthy way.  And while I'm enjoying the complements, I'm not enjoying the shocked faces and gasps of "Oh my God how did you do it!".

We live in a world obsessed with "skinny".  Take this Shape Magazine Cover for example. There are 11 highlighted titles gracing it's cover. Of the 11, 10 of them shout how you can  "lose weight","get skinny" and "boost your confidence" while still eating whatever you want and doing it the right way.  And 1 of them advertises a luxury vacation.  But the problem is the right way to lose weight doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want.

But I digress.  We all want confidence, and for us in the Western World, we tend to associate confidence with "skinny".  Many of us decide that in order to lose weight, we must eat less.  Food goes hand in hand with our weight.  A golden rule of a 1,200 calorie day should get us there, but where did we come up with that?  Ask any health professional and they will tell you that 1,200 is the amount of calories a typical woman can consume without negatively effecting her health.  It's the absolute minimum "healthy" daily in take.  Drop below 1,200 and along come the health issues.  Not one of those professionals would actually recommend eating an average of 1,200 a day, but simple recognize it as the line between healthy and starving.   So we balance along that line, we're taught that starving ourselves is wrong, so we decide to do the next best thing walk the dangerous tight rope of weight loss.

Why is it that we believe weight loss and calories go hand in hand?  Well for a while, we were being told just that.

The thing to remember here is the amount of calories does not make a healthy body.  Nutrition and calories are completely separate things and a healthy weight for me at 5'4'' is completely different for my best friend who is also 5'4''.

So why aren't we seeing adds like this?
As her body tones up, watch as those numbers actually go up.  This woman is actually 14 pounds HEAVIER in the final photo than in the first.  That's because muscles weighs more than fat.  It's a phrase we all tend to spit out as we hit the gym, but we still expect the number on our scale to go down.  Then when we begin to tip the scales upward, we think we're doing something wrong, so we walk the 1,200 calorie tight rope again, and end up passing out on the tread mill.  

So eat your calories, not anything you want.  Practice good nutrition.  And realize that your "weight loss" may actually mean the number on the scale is going up, all while your pants size continues to shrink.  Forget the numbers and decide it's about how you feel. And if none of that is good enough, just remember hungry people are assholes.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

"Hello is this the Tip Line? I've got an Emergency!"

I sit and listen.  It's what I get paid to do.  I listen to emergency scanners, you know, fire, police, sheriffs, lifeguards, coast guards, all the guards... I listen to 9-1-1 dispatchers.  I'm listening to your emergencies.  The newsroom doesn't miraculously get press releases for every little thing, so I listen to your news. And when the phone rings I listen to your problems, albeit ridiculous, I try and listen.

The Cold Woman

"I have a big problem here."
"Ok Ma'am, what's going on."  And the listening begins.
"Well I just moved into an apartment.  And there's no heater.  I mean I live in America and heat and hot water are rights here.  So you see, I have no rights.  I am freezing and wearing...."  She then lists every single article of clothing.
"Did you call your landlord?"
"What? My landlord?  Why would I call him?"
"Well your landlord should be in charge of any kind of problem in the apartment."
"I called the landlord, they aren't answering. And you know what, I don't even have cabinets in my bathroom.  Can you believe that?  I'm supposed to be living in America now, I'm an American!  I am freezing!"
"Ok Ma'am, did your landlord tell you there would be heat in the apartment before you moved in?"  Now I'm just asking questions for the sake of making her feel like her problem is something I might be able to fix.  I don't know why I'm being nice, I don't know why I'm asking her questions.
"No, heat was never something we discussed."
"And did you see the apartment before you signed the lease?  Did you notice that there were no cabinets in the bathroom?"  Again, why am I even bothering.
The conversation ended there, there was no hope for this woman.  She clearly hasn't had much experience in renting apartments or what signing a lease means.  Still I look on the bright side and find a reaffirming lesson here; Never assume.

Emergency at Seaworld

"Oh I'm so glad you answered.... we have a huge emergency at Seaworld!"  A shrill voice shouts into my ear.  Suddenly a visual of Blackfish rushes to mind.  I hadn't heard anything on the scanners in terms of a killer whale attack, but this was a call from someone on the scene, my ears perked up.
"Alright Ma'am, what seems to be the emergency?"
"Well I arrived here at Seaworld hoping to spend a lovely day with my children and they told me I have to pay full price for my tickets."

Youtube Millionaire

This guy calls quite often and still can't believe why we haven't run with his million dollar idea.
"Hey I have a tip for you."
"Ok Sir, lets hear it."
"You know about You tube?
"Well there are these code words on Youtube.  So if you make up one of these code words and then put it on the news and then your viewers take photos of their tv screens... well for every photo taken we make money."
"I'm terribly sorry sir, but I do not follow."
"Yeah I mean that's how everyone is making money, we just have to make up a word, and that word is linked to a youtube video.  We just tell people to search for our code word on youtube. And then they can take a picture of their television screens...."
He usually continues for a while before I have the guts to cut him off.  I've even explained a few times that, unfortunately that's not quite how youtube works.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Bending Into the New Year

"So are you getting bendy?"

That's usually the first question people ask when you tell them you're getting back into a yoga practice. Over the years I've been a huge advocate for yoga, especially Bikram.  You can literally type in google Bikram Yoga and ____________________ (insert any type of problem) and read all about it's miraculous healing powers.  And everyone has a yoga story. In my Coronado based studio alone, there are regulars who site the yoga practice as the cure for their Cancer and one teacher, who was told she'd never walk again, says it was her Bikram practice that helped her defy her doctor's life-long-wheelchair diagnosis.  Experts say it's safe, but the intense discomfort makes many question what they're doing to their body.

For me the heat has always been an enemy.  I preferred winter weather to hot summer months, choosing to turn on my ceiling fans year-round to keep a constant breeze and even chill.  When I first started Bikram, the 104 degree room was literally my version of hell.  Just staying present in the heat was the hardest part.  Now nearly 5 years after my first class, the room is never hot enough.  The hotter the room, the further you can go into your muscles.  Believe it or not, your body is pretty bendy on it's own.  Add heat and you'll be amazed the first time you touch your forehead between your toes.

So yes, I'm becoming more bendy. But there are other benefits my dear soon-to-be yoga addicts.


This is a no brainer.  Obviously we're not forcing you to become a contortionist, but with a little heat, your stretch really starts to mean something.  It's one of the first things you notice after your first few classes.  Suddenly you can lift your leg there, not only that but it feels awesome.


This is my weakness.  Yoga is a balance between strength and flexibility.  You push yourself into poses using your flexibility and hold them there with your strength.  I recently discovered I have hyper extended knees and shoulders.  It basically means when I lock out my knee with a completely straight leg, my knee bends backwards, beyond the normal limits of the joint.  "Bendy" doesn't even begin to describe this.  Hyper extension is purely a symptom of flexibility and can really do some major damage to your joints if you abuse it's power.  That's where strength comes in.  Another great thing about the concept of strength in yoga, is the movements are so low-impact, you don't even realize you're training every muscle in your body.  And that includes your spine.  80% of the yoga is focused on the spine, literally the back bone of your health.  Long-time yogis have actually said their practice has helped them grow taller.  And at 5'4'' I'm down with that!


The definition of yoga is "a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breathe control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation."  Honestly it's all about breath.  In your first class, your teacher will most likely tell you to focus on your breath, ignore the hot room and if things get too much, always go back to your breath.  In and Out. In and Out.  5 years into a practice, the same rings true.  Trust me, this yoga isn't going to get you anywhere if you're not breathing deep.


Believe it or not, my heart pounds harder in a 30 seconds of a posture in my practice than it does after running for 30 minutes.  Your heart works the same way in the hot room as it does running those miles, and you'll never even leave your yoga mat.

Burning Calories

This is usually every one's favorite part.  It goes hand in hand with the cardio part of class.  It takes a lot of effort to balance and hold postures, particularly when you're contracting muscles.  That's when your heart begins to race.  Many of the postures work like a tourniquet effect.  It cuts off the blood supply for a moment, then after the pose, blood rushes back to the muscles.  At it's core, the yoga is stretching and compressing your insides.  Your internal organs and glands are being conditioned and stimulated which ends up burning upwards of 1,000+ calories a class.  What's more, that stimulation doesn't end when class is over.  It stimulates your endocrine system, metabolism, and waste removal systems long after class ends, leaving you to feel amazing (and thinner!)


One of my biggest rules, don't ever go to yoga after a night of drinking.  Bikram is so much more than a detox.  If I've had a glass of wine or eaten a jelly donut for breakfast I feel it.  I can feel everything I've put into my body, come right back out again.  "Sweaty" is the understatement of a lifetime.  Not only are you sweaty, but squeezing all your internal organs causes all those toxins to come out, which depending on what you've been putting into your body can feel amazing or god awful.


One of my favorite benefits of Bikram is the mental clarity it gives me.  It's like going to a therapist.  I arrive to the class with the world on my shoulders and at the end of 90 minutes, I've managed to let go of absolutely everything and focus on myself.  You might be standing in a hot room in your underwear with a group of complete strangers, but it's an incredibly personal experience with yourself.  You're completely alone with your thoughts, breathing into the things you want to hold onto and exhaling the negative.


Personally, I haven't had a miraculous healing within my yoga practice physically.  Mentally I'm healed every single time I show up for class.  But physically, I've been lucky enough not to experience any life-altering injuries in my young age.  But that doesn't mean I don't advocate for Bikram as therapy.  As I said earlier everyone has a bikram story.  Bikram himself was crippled in a weightlifting accident at the age of 20, and was told he would never be able to walk again.  That's when he created the 26 posture series of yoga.  He claims the yoga helped him recover in just 6 months.  Aside from the stories, there are numerous scientific studies that show Yoga has helped reduce depression, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, and cancers.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Perspective

Image by Melissa Ross
I don't know about you, but I've been making the same list of New Year's Resolutions for the past decade.  Some of them include drinking more water, saying "yes" more often, and taking time for myself in this busy chaotic world.
Resolutions are about making yourself better.  Whether it's a health goal or a personality trait you'd like to work on, our resolutions tend to be incredibly selfish.  People see the New Year as the starting line, once you cross it, you've got the opportunity to change something big in your life.  Suddenly my yoga studio goes from being a tight knit community of yogis to class after class of new faces, all eager to live out their work-out rooted resolutions.

I recently came across an article about the one word that should be on every one's Resolutions list; perspective.  It was insightful.  Perspective is something that we all have the potential to own, but rarely do we seek it.  It has the power to bring a king to his arrogant knees and rise a humble tramp to a life of riches.  Perspective is different for everyone, there is no right, no wrong, only the way one sees things.  And unlike many resolutions, gaining perspective isn't selfish at all.  While it can make one's life a whole lot easier, it can also open the eyes of that individual to see the rest of the world.

Georgia Farquharson, writes; As an avid member of the ‘workaholic/must-always-be-busy’ club, I rarely take a break, and I know I’m not alone in this. The thing is, when I put this kind of behavior into perspective, it isn’t healthy. If ‘generation busy’ continue as we are, we will end up wasting our lives being ‘busy,’ never taking a breath to enjoy the moment it and burning out by the time we reach 30 years old.

It's not about making a living or planning everything written in highlighted tasks in a color-coded planner; life is about living.  The idea of ridding yourself of a "generation busy" mindset takes you away from stress, anxiety, or the pressure of making decisions in life, whether you've got a small task or are taking a large leap of faith.  At the end of the day it's all about the way you see it; your perspective.

So instead of making that list of resolutions you will most likely have already broken by the end of January, perhaps your biggest resolution is to rid yourself of the list all together.  Never settle for that list of resolutions. Instead focus on the living part of your life as each moment happens.  

Happy New Year.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Please Stay in 2014

Every January 1st, we decide that this is going to be a new year.  We have an idea of what we want to work on with a list of resolutions and everything feels shiny and new.  It's a blank slate.  And while we bring our baggage from 2014, we try and pack light, leaving the bad and only taking the lovely, sparkly things.  This is my list of what I took out of the bag, the things that 2014 can keep.

Shock stories about rape and sexual assault

I wish the media would stop making the issue of rape and sexual assault something so shocking.  We get it, it's happening, now what are we going to do about it?  2014 was the year of sexual assault.  It seemed like every corner we turned there was a new report telling us our friends, sisters, neighbors, daughters, our girls were being taken advantage of.  It was suppose to be shocking that it was happening right under our noses and we had no clue.  Unfortunately for most of us, we knew, and young women everywhere are remaining quiet.  Lets leave the shock out of it and start a conversation in 2015.

Claw shaped nails

Seriously are you trying to look like that terrifying hand we all envisioned snatching us from our beds when we were little?

Gluten free everything

I want my gluten back.  Even South Park has made fun of just how far we've taken it.  Gluten-free items have sky rocketed in numbers after fad-dieters saw the "health" benefits to an allergy.  For many, they associated gluten with the carbs in breads, cutting carbs usually leads to weight loss, and viola!  A new trendy diet is born.  I'm over it. 2015 needs more gluten.

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Enough is enough right?  What one can only hope turned out as a shock-factor dance move now controls the world.  We broke the internet with our twerking this year and I for one am ready to revive swing dancing or the boogie or maybe the cotton eyed joe?  Anything but the twerk.


Anything Butts... talking about butts, singing about butts.  Lets change the subject.


I'm guilty of this myself... in fact one could argue this post is a "Listicle" itself.  Lists instead of articles.  I want to read my news not just see a list of gifs and photos.  Sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post need to bring back writers, not list makers.  And for those of us making lists, very much like the one I am writing now, bring on the words!

Cut Outs

Oy vey, we can't all pull this fashion trend off.  In fact, I can't wear anything that "cuts out" anything.  Everything from underwear to formal wear seemed to have cut out shapes this year, and sadly for someone who's bra is more than just for show, the look doesn't work. So let's leave this one in 2014.

Let it Go

We get it.  Idina Menzel is a goddess.  For anyone who knows anything, she proved her god-like vocals in the original production of Wicked on NYC's Broadway in 2003 or if you're really a fan you'll remember her from an off-Broadway production of Rent in 1996.  But we've really got to let it go, Frozen was a great film and all that jazz, but 2014 can have it.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Looking at NYE's Past

New Years Eve is upon us.  Get ready to loose your mind.  Seriously.  The majority of us have no idea how the night will actually turn out until it's 12:01 and we've missed our chance to kiss the person standing 3 feet away.  We're drunk, uncomfortably dressed, waiting for the night of our lives.  This year will be different. 

We're supposed to learn from our past.  So on this New Year's Eve, I'm looking back.  Looking back at my past midnights.  And perhaps tonight will be different, perhaps tonight will be something big, something worth the hype, something.

Pots n' Pans.

As a child New Year's Eve in Boston was all about New York City.  We watched as our big sister to the south dropped her ball while millions watched.  There was always snow, it was only a question of how much.  My brother and I would grab plastic bowls from the kitchen and fill them with freshly fallen snow.  He would cover his snow in tang, while I opted for maple syrup.  Call it a poor man's ice cream if you will, but it will forever be my New Year's treat.  We'd stay up, watching the countdown in Times Square on our small television.  Three minutes to go before the drop, out come the pots and pans, complete with wooden spoons for drum sticks.  On go the boots, winter coat, scarves, hats, mittens.  With 30 seconds left, we move to the back door, the countdown echoing through the living room. 5... 4... 3... 2... hurry outside!  As the ball slides down it's famous pole, we began banging out a symphony with our kitchenware.

London Calling.

When I moved to London just after January 1st 2007, I was ready.  Ready for the world at my finger tips, ready to experience everything a new county had to offer and ready to start over.  I spent many a New Year's Eve in the city, each year ringing in the new in a Topshop mini dress, drink in hand, hundreds of Londoners dancing underneath the fireworks dancing upon the Thames.  There were sequins, champagne, and always tequila.  The party was never ending but never ended the way we expected... hence the tequila.  London called and I answered, every time.

The Albino Boa

December 31st, 2009.  I found myself in Singapore on the imported sand of Sentosa Island.  23,000 people rushed by me, all celebrating the end of the first decade of the Millennium.  I was thin and tanned, young and happy, of course all of these are facts in hind sight.  You never realize just how happy you are while you're in it.  Singapore was an adventure and I was ready to drape it around my neck.  So there she was, a "banana" albino python just waiting to make a new friend.  Lets just say that my midnight kiss was a little nontraditional that night.

Sweating It Out.

Today is December 31st 2014.  I'm not sure if I'm ready for 2015, but I'm definitely ready for 2014 to be over.  It wasn't a bad year, it was quite excellently chaotic.  It taught me my limits, taught me happiness, sadness, and how to embrace change.  This year I could put on a mini sequined dress, pour myself a glass of something strong and wrap a snake around my neck while I danced away to the wooden spoon-ed orchestra or I could breathe.  I choose to breathe. A Bikram Yoga class begins at 10:30, finishing in shavasana promptly at midnight.  Tonight I choose to breathe, to sweat out the last year, sweat out the happiness, the sadness, the chaos and simply breathe.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Marsala: Drink it Up!

Pantone has announced their top color for 2015 and I'm already obsessed.  Each year I eagerly await their announcement.  Not so much for the actual color, but the description that goes along with. Much like a horoscope, it (literally) paints a color scheme and a feeling for the year.

Each year, the announcement causes designers, creative minds, and color-savy individuals to start a discussion.  Why pick that color? How on earth am I suppose to incorporate it into my wardrobe? My life? My attitude?

This year's pick is Marsala, a beautiful burgundy, smooth, dark, delicious.  It's officially described as "a naturally robust and earth red wine". Leatrice Elseman, the executive director for the company says the color "enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability."  That's definitely something I'd like to hear going into the new year.

 But many are calling the color too "autumnal" and not a "go-to" color for the entire year.  In fact, one designer called it "the result of a bad hair color job", another said it was "takes you back to the 1980's, and not in a good way."

I'm beginning to feel sorry for the beautiful color.

And as Coco Chanel once advised: The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.

I for one, look great in Marsala.

Last year's color wasn't my favorite, but perhaps like a fine wine, it will get better with age.  After all we have the entire year to find out. 

 What do you think?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Facebook-ing Bitch

I recently posted a sarcastic comment on Facebook.

Now that is a loaded sentence.  I'm from the East Coast which means sarcasm isn't something I've adopted over the years, it's literally my first language.  And no matter how far away I move, I don't loose the accent.

It was a photo of people I like, perhaps "friends" even, a group of girls who wear all wearing the exact same style, smiling their identical smiles, all with the same length hair, same size sun glasses, same skinny pants, over sized sweaters.  It was the epitome of the West Coast.  It wouldn't have been out of place in an Urban Outfitters advertisement.  On the East Coast we have these girls.  They wear Ugg boots, leggings or yoga pants and their North Face jackets.  Perhaps you could describe them with the popular "Basic Bitch" hash tag.  So there I went, sharing what I thought was a pretty funny, sarcastic comment about their photo, how I absolutely loved it for what I thought was a pretty obvious visual.

Didn't go over well.

But this post isn't about how I am now seen as a bitch by everyone who read the comment, it's about the power of Facebook.  The social media controls us.  The moment I got negative responses, the pit in my stomach formed.  How could they not understand my sarcasm?  And of course in obvious hind sight, sarcasm never does well in text form.  Despite the idiot moment, I tried to explain to the complete strangers commenting on my "harsh" words that I meant them lovingly.  Yeah F that.  As the pit in my stomach grew bigger and I made things worse with more comments of apologizing and half asses hash tagging, I got a text message from someone I'd been waiting to hear from for days.  And sure enough it was questioning that comment.

Facebook controls us.  We check it when we wake up, we watch people's lives unfold, we know what they care about what they look like at only their best, we know them on a "personal" level even if we've never met them.  And when we say something out of context or hurt out virtual friends, it hurts just as much as if we told them in person.  The pit in your virtual stomach takes you to the bathroom in real life.  But just like reality you might be able to delete the comment, but it still happened.

As I sat reading the text messages that I wish said anything else, I felt the blood rush to my face, the tears well up, and my stomach drop.  I ran to the bathroom as the sick filled my lungs.  It felt as if the world was ending, like I had excluded my friends, said something I might never be able to take back. Why do we care so much? If the same person had showed me the photograph in person and I made the comment, nothing would have happened.  No sharp confusing aftermath stinging everyone involved.  But the Internet is different.  Words can be interpreted anyway you'd like, you have no control over the accent, over the sarcasm, over anything.  It's a mine field and you're a mouse.

So what can we do?  For those of us who speak sarcasm we're S.O.L. for the rest of you perhaps there is hope.  Hope that we can unplug and remember it's just Facebook.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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A Colorful Tool

Source: Meta Picture

Did you or didn't you?

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Things to Remember THIS Year

Instead of making a list of resolutions for the upcoming year, I'm going to make a list of reminders.  A list that I will keep in a place that I can check often, whenever I feel myself having a hard week, or need an afternoon pick me up.

Learning when to say yes and when to say no.

"Say YES more often" has been a frequent resolution of mine.  But this year I've learned that I say "yes" way too much for things I should be saying "no" to.  For example, "Hey Sarah, can you pick up that 4 a.m. Christmas shift?" Learning how to say Yes was always my hardest part, but as I get older it's learning my limits and learning that sometimes I have to come first, that's my biggest challenge.  Of course saying "yes" is easier said (pun intended) than done.  But perhaps after a few "no's" I'll be able to say "yes" instead of "I'm too tired".

Don't over pack

Take this anyway you want, literally or metaphysically. BE LIGHT.  Don't hold onto the things that weigh you down.  Going on a trip?  Seriously just bring one bag, a small bag, bring only the basics and see just how good it feels to not worry about what to wear, that tee shirt looks good with anything trust me.  Unplug and just explore.  But packing is much more than what you put in a bag.  It's the worries, the stress and the negative thoughts you bring with you anywhere you go.  So unload, pack light, see the world change around your less burdened shoulders.

Overcome your fears

Easier said than done.  But overcoming fear is something I strive for everyday.  I'm what one would call a complete wuss.  I do things by the book because lets face it, things have consequences, terrifying consequences that will bite you in the ass.  But is a sore ass really the end of the world?  We tend to think so.  Sometimes you have to jump when you're afraid of the fall or have that conversation you're really dreading to have, it's part of life.  So this year, embrace that fear, it's what makes those butterflies buzz in our tummies and gives us a much needed rush of humanity.  Just say "yes!" or in my case, just say "no!"

Break the rules

Here's another repeater on my list.  I am a rule follower.  I use the crosswalks only when the green man says "go".  I always cover my mouth and say excuse me, even when no one is around.  If a sign tells me not to do something, chances are I won't.  And if I do, I'm a sweaty nervous wreck.  Rules are in place for a reason right?  Well some rules are, but others aren't going to ruin your life.  So go ahead, eat dessert before dinner, sneak out, do something you're not suppose to, enjoy the rush... safely.

Take at least one break

Whether it's your version of "Spring Break 2015" or just a day to lay around and do nothing, reward yourself with a break.  We all know you deserve it, so take it!

Use your talents for something good

We go through the motions, we complete our tasks and we understand our strengths and weaknesses.  We are incredible human beings, we all have something extraordinary if you simply look hard enough, so figure out what you're good at and shine.

Get lost

Throw away the maps, unplug and just wander.  Whether you're physcially wandering around or just throwing out the plans in your head, get lost.  Take a cue from 2014 and Let it go.

Learn something new

You'd be surprised at just how many free classes there are in cities all over the world.  I've taken three cooking classes, in the past month.  If you haven't already get yourself on EventBrite, the web based app lets you know everything that's going on in your city.

Let someone else do the worrying

If you're like me, control is everything.  Planning a trip?  Let someone else take the reigns and I mean it, really let them.

Be a tourist

Since when did being a tourist become a bad thing?
Lived in the same place your whole life?  Who cares!  See what the bloggers are saying.  You know that trail you drive by everyday on your way to Dunkin?  Google it.  Think like a tourist!  Discover exciting things you've taken for granted in your daily routine.  Be a tourist in your own hometown, take photos, document it.  It might be familiar to you and frankly you may not care that hundreds, maybe thousands of people visit something every year that is just there, in your eyes.  Get some perspective.  Read the travel blogs of outsiders who have come into your hometown with new eyes, see things in a new light, be a tourist.

Feed your Piggy Bank

Saving is a big deal.  We all have weird ways of doing it or not doing it.  But this year, get yourself a piggy bank.  You know like you used to have as a kid.  Remember how fun it was to feed the pig?  Go ahead and feed him, name him, get him nice and fat so when that rainy day comes around, you'll have a feast of bacon.  Who doesn't like bacon?

Don't put it off

Tell them you love them.  Say "thank you".  Smile.  Take the trip.  Do the thing you're afraid of. Don't put it off because right now is the most important moment of your life.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Good, The Bed, & The Missing Airplanes

Working in the news has it's perks.  For one, every single day is different.  You can't necessarily predict what's going to happen.  Even in politics, you write the story both ways, even when pre-polls are telling you who the victor is.  Then suddenly there is a fire somewhere, an earthquake, a new merger or law up for debate, all while people are doing extraordinary things.  Some days are full of horrible news, people dying here, fighting there, and hope is fragile and seeping through the cracks.  Other days are full of hope.  Young people achieving the unthinkable, overcoming obstacles and successful rescues.  These are the best case scenarios.  Everyone is going through something, but it's the people who end up in the best case scenario that make us smile, they give us hope, they inspire us to keep going through our own personal struggles.

But there are the bad days too.

The bad days are the days aren't like your bad days.  The bad days are when these extraordinary humans don't make it, they exemplify the worst case scenario.  These are the days that break you, that smother what little hope you had going into it, these are the days that rip the innocence out of your heart and leave you bitter.

When we first got news that Malaysia Flight 370 had vanished from the sky, the newsroom fell silent.  We held our breath, all assuming the wreckage would be found shortly and we'd be briefing our writers and anchors on how to handle the delicate news.  But the flight was never found.  The bad day turned into bad weeks, which turned into bad months.  Those 239 people became ghosts of my daily routine, perching on my shoulder, waiting for any kind of hope to shimmer in the now 23,166 square miles of searched underwater area.  As time went by, the search got easier, less painful.  We stopped waiting for good news, searching for it elsewhere.

There is no room for personal opinions in news.  And if they somehow slip through the cracks, your broadcast may suffer.  A writer, who feels strongly about a certain side of a story probably shouldn't be the one writing that story.  But when it comes to a missing plane, we're all in the broken hearts club.  There are no sides, just numbers, and time slowly passing, as o
ur hope slowly burns out.

Before I fell asleep last night, I mulled over the feeds in my smart phone.  Missing Jetliner flew across the screen and immediately I was back to March 8th, a worst case scenario bad day.  But they weren't talking about Malaysia 370.  My brow scrunched, confused at the typo.  AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501.  That can't be right.

But it was.  I arrived to work knowing the normal Sunday speed would be warped into a frenzy. At 4:18, we received the wire.

*1104< AP-AS-APNewsAlert,14

   JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesia: Air search for missing AirAsia jet suspended for night; some boats still looking.

162 extraordinary souls missing for over 10 hours.  So what is the best case scenario?  Before Malaysia 370, I would have said best case, they find survivors.  But now, one can just hope they can find the jet, then we'll worry about any survivors.  We've been through this before, so do we hold onto hope or do we learn from our experiences and trudge on.  Do we allow ourselves to care?

I watch as my feeds pile up with conspiracy theories, people saying "not again" and warning their friends and family not to travel in the region.  These updates are harder to read than the facts about the missing plane.  Where is our hope?  One missing jet from a completely different airline does not a pattern make.  Instead of the warnings, the messages of disbelief, shouldn't we be sending messages of hope?  Putting those 162 extraordinary people into the best case scenarios?

Today isn't a good day, nor is it a bad day, today I choose to be hopeful.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Just Another Day

For those of you who don't read this on a regular basis, let me start off by saying I work in News.  That one sentence could change your every perception on my words, the way I write, and the opinions I share.  News itself is an animal, an all consuming presence that never quite takes a moment off, regardless of how many hours you're actually in the newsroom.  You eat, sleep, and breathe the news.  You're plugged in, even when your phone isn't in your hand or your wifi signal is only one bar.  You're perceptive, you're on, you become the news.  Things like the holidays become a black mark on ratings.  After all, who's actually watching the 4:30 a.m. newscast on Christmas day?  You'd be surprised.  Parents waking up to lay presents under the tree flip on channel 7, our overnight coverage guides them into the day with ease before the kiddos wake and all else hits the fan.... or at least that's what I'd like to think.

Christmas becomes just another day.

My alarm sounded at 3:00 a.m. and I pressed the snooze.  Despite the date, December 25th, 2014, it was just another 4:00 a.m. shift.  Just another day, just another push of the snooze button.  Shower, caffeinate, clothes would be good.  I stand outside on the curb waiting for a cab.  It's 3:38, is Santa still in transit?  Something flies by the moon and I decide it's too early.

I arrive to work.  The overnight crew is dressed in their Christmas cheer.  Ugly sweaters and Grinch costumes here and there, and I reapply my red lipstick.  After all it's never too early for red lips.  I establish the live shots, log into twitter, watch the news wires and feeds.  Just another day.  As the clock chimes 4:45 a.m. the first of my East Coast friends begin to update their facebook statuses with Christmas tidings.  I feel like writing to each of them personally, telling them some of us aren't waking up to presents under the tree, that's not real life.  They're stuck in my fantasy.  A fantasy of not working on Christmas.  A fantasy where the world stops for a moment while I sip hot chocolate, sitting in front of an actual tree without a worry in the world except for whether I've been naughty or nice.  This is the stuff of movies, of rainbows and unicorns, all sparkles and sugary goodness.  But I work in news.  Instead I'm listening to police scanners, a woman is calling 9-1-1 reporting her father is fighting her boyfriend.  A never-ending Christmas sitcom plays across the loud speakers.  The boyfriend snuck into her room for a midnight-delight and was unsuspectingly caught by her overprotective father, this is the stuff of movies.

"Merry Christmas"es are exchanged as we move through the news room's daily routine, we're slaves to the system.  Only the hope that someone is watching keeps us trucking on, all while watching your updates, your photos, your celebrations.  We're watching your movie unfold, as the background noise in your living room.

Sending all of you a very Merry Christmas from my newsroom to your celebrations.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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