Summer Days at Coney Island

Because what else do you do when you have a free Friday off of work?  Since no one else I knew had the day off, and I hadn’t gotten around to scheduling any weekend trips, I thought it would be neat to travel outside my home-base borough and into the realm of Coney Island.  Home to the Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, a couple amusement parks and a seaside resort.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump – or more realistically 45 minute subway ride, and you are there.  To be exact, this was my second trip to Coney Island – my first occurring after last year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon.  This time there were plenty of people on the beaches, but far fewer crowds to battle, open lines at Nathan’s Famous, and I had the most important accessory – my camera.

IMG_7652 IMG_7653 ^^ If you are lucky and in town during the 4th of July, you can stop by Nathan’s to watch the annual hot dog eating contest.  Not sure if it’s a blessing or disappointment that I missed that event.

IMG_7656 IMG_7659 ^^ Nathan’s is obviously known for their hot dogs, but it’s also a hot spot for their waffle/crinkle cut fries and come with their own little skewer fork.

IMG_7663 IMG_7667 ^^ One day late for National Hot Dog day but let’s be real, when you are in Coney Island, every day is hot dog day, right?

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After chowing down, I set off to explore the boardwalk.  There even happened to be a little section of the popular  Smorgasburg right here in Coney Island (Brooklyn’s flea food market – food extravaganza where a number of mom + pop or hipster food shops set up booths in a parking lot or park)

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Boardwalk along the westernmost part of the barrier islands of Long Island with plenty for all ages.  There are restaurants, games, rides, and even a couple of bars for those looking for an overpriced adult beverage.  Got to love tourist season.

~ Coney Island History ~ Coney Island Tours ($25 cash) ~ Mermaid Festival ~ Movies at Coney Island (w/ Friday night fireworks during the summer!)
~ Beach ~ Rides ~ Aquarium ~ Minor League Baseball ~
Subways: D, F, N, Q

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^^ Beach + ice cream go hand-in-hand, right?

IMG_7689 IMG_7694I decided to walk all the way down the boardwalk to Brighton Beach and then headed back into the city.  For some reason, the afternoon felt like part of a dream – just looking around me and soaking in all the experiences and cultural differences; differences between coasts, boroughs, and even between 10 or so blocks.

“If Paris is France, Coney Island, between June and September is the world” – George Tilyou

Manhattan Wanderings ~ Summer in July

This weekend was filled with all of my favorite things – working out, good food, and fabulous company.  As mentioned last week, my “Friday night” was actually on Thursday, so that meant double round of skeeball.  Friday and Saturday were filled with activities that took me all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.  I do think I need to take a bit more time to rest as all these city explorations leave me a bit drained.  But, seeing as it is the “City That Never Sleeps”, it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon. 

IMG_1296 ^^ Free popsicles in the east village?  Why yes please.  Coconut actually was one of those types of food that I tried to avoid as a child.  Well, with due time and a change in palate, it has soon become one of my favorites.

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^^ So we worked out on a boat.  That doesn’t happen too often.  I had ever intention of waking up at 5 to run down to the South Street station but after missing 3 alarms and finally rolling out of bed around 5:25, a cab was in order.  Guess it’s no longer “free fitness”.

IMG_1305^^ But working out for these views is always worth it.

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^^ Isn’t this funny? Workout and then go inhale every baked good in sight.  That or reverse the method – eat and then sweat all the good sugary stuff out.

Well, post NP workout, a few people went to grab bagels and I decided to tag along.  I wasn’t really in the bagel mood so I decided to wander my way north and stumbled upon this gem of a shop.  Funny story, I was peaking into Baked to see if there was anything drool worthy and as I was leaving, ran into my November Project friend and fellow blogger (actually huge blogger…I definitely wanted to meet her when I attended my first NP workout) Ali was running out and raved about the banana bread.  No lie, it was one of the best pieces of banana bread I’ve ever had.

IMG_1321^^ I also decided to make it a bucket-list type of day and test out one of the famous coffee shops on my list.  Cold brew coffee from a bottle, not too shabby.  After a shower and quick change, I headed out to Union Square and ultimately spent the afternoon wandering Coney Island.

IMG_7682 IMG_1378^^ Celebrating Zara’s 24th at Gallow Green, which is quite possibly my FAVORITE spot in the city right now.  It definitely wins for cutest rooftop that’s for sure. (p.s. absolutely in love with this dress from Levi’s – a little bit of west coast casual in this busy city)

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^^ Located on the far west side of 27th street is Gallow Green.  It’s also located atop the famous Sleep No More or interactive theatre piece.  The atmosphere and decor is unmatched.  Not to mention the creative titles and combinations of their cocktail list.  It may air on the pricier side but boy is it worth it.

IMG_1361After a long few days, I decided to call it quits early on Saturday night (ok, 10:30 isn’t really “early”) and ended up sleeping for a full 10 hours.  TEN HOURS PEOPLE.  That’s unheard of.  Straight up evidence that I was exhausted.  

IMG_1386 ^^ Sunday morning run on the Highline was JUST what I needed.  My legs have been feeling a bit sore (not sure why) but a shake-out along the west side on a glorious sunny morning set my mood for the day and week.

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^^ Al knows what’s up

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^^ Of course discovering a reasonably priced acai bowl (quite possibly the best tasting one in the city) for post-run fueling is an added bonus.

The rest of the day was spent with some blogging, stretching, and catching a double feature at the 34th street AMC.  Originally we thought we were going to be hit with a freak rainstorm, thus going to see a movie (or two) made complete sense.  But while we managed to have 100% sunshine, we still decided to sit back and have a relaxing day. Films of choice?  Trainwreck and Magic Mike XXL – uhhhhmazing if I do say so myself.

So, onto the week we go.  We’ve got one more week in July and I’m already listing out all the things I would like to do this week and upcoming weekend :)  Bachelorette finale tonight, restaurant week in full swing, some more skeeball, and scatter some workouts in between.  Any good plans for your week or summer in general?

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be.” – Groucho Marx

Life of Late ~ 7.24.15

Friday. Friday. Friday.  Who is ready for the weekend?  Our department happens to be participating in “Summer Fridays” and each person has a four different Fridays assigned to them to take off.  (Side note/question – do these happen around the country or is New York just unique like that?)  Today happens to be one of mine and by the time this is published, I will have been to November Project at Staten Island (well, maybe just working out on the Staten Island Ferry) and hopefully eating breakfast while watching the Today Show.  I’m also off to explore Coney Island, so stay tuned for a little post in the near future.  For now, here are some links and thoughts that I have been hoarding the last month in my drafts folder.

Normally I don’t post stuff like this buuuuut I want to thank everyone who commented online/offline about Monday’s post and what home means to you.  Sure, we like to be in control, but life has ups and downs and you know, things will work out.   A couple of the best conversations following Monday’s post occurred with people I had met through NP.  One – knowing they read the post and two – hearing their thoughts just made my day and reminded me how much NP has meant to me thus far.

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^^ re-post of my route across the Manhattan (bike path) bridge en-route to November Project

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^^ I’m really starting to explore the rooftop scene in New York and let me tell you, it’s pretty darn cool.

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^^ SKEEBALL ROUND 2

HELP ME UNPLUG FROM TECHNOLOGY! I am so addicted to my phone and am hoping Greatist’s 31 tips can provide some insight or tricks to stepping away from the pixelated screens that seem to be omnipresent.  (I actually downloaded Headspace meditation app but have yet to use it) There’s the idea that technology enables us to be connected to everything and everyone, but as Lululemon points out in “The Paradox of Connection“, we may be establishing or relying on purely superficial relationships.

Also, my apologies to my friend Sam for sending the above skeeball picture to myself immediately after it was taken, just so I could have it on Instagram.  Apparently that was her intent as well.  Oops.

IMG_1214 ^^ Thank goodness for being back in NYC and having access to countless Juice Press shops.  Green is the new black and every Saturday means #willrunforjuice time. (also notice the fitbit has returned!!! The old fitbit is roaming around New York City)

IMG_1227 ^^ What do you know, we actually went into Brooklyn for this view :) Hanging out with some girlfriends who either stem from California or went to school in California.  #westcoastlove

Yes I always say I am on a sugar cleanse .  Yes I will still want to visit every single NYC sweets stops.  Thank you Pure Wow for making me drool over the best sweets in every NYC neighborhood. Thankfully I’ve already checked of Levain Bakery, People’s Pops, Bread’s Bakery, and City Bakery.  Only 25 to go.  Anyone interested in testing out the vegan Peace Food Cafe with me?

talenti^^ Speaking of sweets, who doesn’t love Talenti?  I saw this link on Facebook and Refinery29 called “Flavorize Me” where you submit information based on your social networks (just sign your life away to technology already) and it spits out your personal flavor.  Our apartment is slightly obsessed and I have to say, an added bonus of eating so much gelato is the fact that we can use the container for leftovers or overnight oats!  Sadly I haven’t had gelato in almost 7 months but then maybe that’s for the better.  #bikiniseason

Why does eating “healthy” have to be so complicated?  Greatist is rolling out some 19 foods that we think are healthy but are often quite the scam.  So sad, so sad.

IMG_1251 ^^ Maybe if I pair running w/ eating sugar, it’s ok?  Everything in moderation.  Running nine miles to enjoy this brown butter donut + ice cream sandwich?  Worth it.

For those times that I had to hit snooze or straight-up missed my alarms this week –  Greatist’s take on snooze vs. working out.  Normally I am up and at ’em, working out before sitting on my rear all day at work.  But, when the lack of sleep starts to affect my attitude, concentration and will power, it’s time to reevaluate my sleep patterns.  It’s also good to note that athletic performance can and often will suffer with too little sleep.

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^^ Does living in the city for 2 years count?  I hear that you are really supposed to live in a city for 7 or 8 years before you become a “citizen” or resident but I doubt I would ever be accepted into the east coast blood.  Plus that would mean abandoning my California ways.  (aka owning more colored pieces of clothing than black and inserting “dude” or “stoked” into some of my sentences…no shame)

Pure Wow ~ “10 Quintessential Books About New York

soap making

Wouldn’t this ^^ make for a fun afternoon?  Too bad the price tag was a bit hefty.  One day, one day.

~ Some other  Links Link-up Love ~

SMOOTHIE SMOOTHIE SMOOTHIE ~ Well + Good’s “35 Healthy Smoothie Bowl Recipes” ~ Can I please have a Ninja blender installed in my office?

Women’s Running ~ “I May Never Run A Personal Best Again” (There does come a point in time where we may not PR with every race, but that doesn’t mean we have to be disappointed)

Today Pop Culture ~ “Aziz Ansari and Jimmy Fallon read terribile texts from guys” (yay for our generation)

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Are you ready for the weekend?  Any solid plans?

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Throwback Thursday ~ Growing up on the Classics

Too often I find myself using the phrase “I live(d) under a rock.”  This happens when people bring up pop culture, good movies, classic or current TV shows, etc.  You name something that every average child, teen, or adult has done and I probably would provide the above response.

So what’s up with that?  Not hip or cool?  False.  I realized I just was out there living life (just kidding, we all “live life” by our own standards) playing sports and bouncing around with the family.  I also did think about what we watched growing up and while we stuck to classics like Star Wars (MUST watch them again prior to the next release), I fell more into the Disney channel boat (add in a few cheesy films like Pink Panther and Daddy Daycare and A Cinderella Story).  Then I thought about it again and what about weekend cartoons?  For me, I grew up watching classics (ok reruns of classics).  I would wake up before anyone else, take my blanket into the living room and veg-out before soccer watching TVLand.  Yep, I grew up on the re-runs of these amazing shows:

^^ I ALWAYS wanted to be a genie for Halloween and have YET to make this happen.  One day, one day.  Also, congrats to “I Dream of Jeannie” for celebrating 50 years this year!

^^ “Ayyyyy” – The Fonz.  Reminding you that ALL these days are Happy Days.

^^ There were times where I just wanted to be her.  I did end up attempting to dress up like Elizabeth Montgomery but I’d say that was one of my not-so-great costumes.  It was a half-assed attempt to be honest and was on the downfall of my epic costume days (namely because I was no longer in the “aw that’s cute you are trick-or-treating” stage and Grandma Nancy wasn’t creating epic patterns for me).

 

^^ Didn’t we all dream to live a life like this?  Turns out the real-life story of the actors/actresses wasn’t as golden and perfect as I thought.  Still, good times with the Bradys.

^^ Name that show!  Mr. Ed of course :)  Now if you want a real treat, find me in person and I’ll sing the theme song for you.

When writing this post, I did a little bit of digging and Wikipedia article reading and have to say, probably 75% of what was said and what happened during these shows went over my head.  I was way too young to understand any of the humor but just loved watching the characters interact, the jokes, and the different time period.  It seemed like everything was so easy (and it was because it was scripted).  I also didn’t realize the length that writers and producers went to in order to create an accurate character development for each character.  Take the Fonz for instance.  Sure he was a high school drop out, but he was classy and now I realize there was so much more to people.  It’s what they always say, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Now I know that TV Land needs to keep up with all the other networks in order to stay in business.  I know you need to produce new content to stay “hip and cool” but please tell me where are all my old classics going?  Just like the original iPod, they are being outdated and passed over for new media.  Kids these days want the latest and greatest and that means better plots, better animation, and things they can relate to better.  I work in the media industry and understand this but still look fondly back on those shows, those memories, and hope to keep a little bit of them with me, always.  That’s what “Throwback Thursdays” are for anyways, right?  Looking back on some good times and reminiscing.

Talk to me.  What shows did you grow up watching?

~ Featured image source ~

Grecian Flavor in the City

A few months back (yes months…eek) I was invited to dinner at Milos with one of my roommate’s families.  Tucked away on West 55th Street (Midtown) is a nice little restaurant that gives you a taste of Greece but without the gorgeous white walls and blue water views – but you also won’t have to worry about their economy crashing while you are there.  Just throwing that out there.

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Milos is listed more on the pricier side and has an upscale feel about it.  Had I actually looked at the menu and website, I would have noted this and changed my outfit.  Instead, I chose to arrive in jeans and a sweatshirt – both on the nicer side but still.  The saying “dress to impress” has been duly noted.

One of the most unique aspects of this restaurant is how they displace their sea options – in a massive bed of ice for everyone to see.

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It’s customary to follow your waiter to the make-shift ice box and listen to all the various ways to prepare the fish (or crab) and then decide what your main course will be.   The selection of fish and crustaceans are flown in from Greece, Spain, and Portugal – grilled and sold at market price by the pound.

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Fagri, Loup de Mer, Lethrini, Dorado Royale, Dover Sole, St. Pierre, Balada, Barbouni, Sfyrida, Rofos, Steira, Raska,

Langustines, Blue Lobster, Langusto

Also American varieties such as Black Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Pompano

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^^ Most likely a type of scallop and calamari dish that I probably did not partake in.  I’ve gotten used to some shrimp dishes, love crab and some lobster, but will not indulge in calamari.  I’m pretty sure it’s a texture and consistency thing. 

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^^MILOS SPECIAL (Lightly fried zucchini, eggplant, tzatziki and kefalograviera cheese)  aka leaning tower of goodness.  I almost went ahead and ordered it for dinner but we decided to split one for the table.

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^^ GREEK SALAD (Vine ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and barrel-aged feta)

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^^ Our selection of fish (MILOKOPI GRILLED) with a sea-salt crust

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After finishing off this plate of fish, we were beyond stuffed for dessert (shocker, I know), however I would certainly make the trip back just for dessert.

~ Baklava ~
Layered phyllo with almonds, honey, and cinnamon.

~ Galaktobouerko ~
Custard with a layered phyllo crust.

~ Karidopita ~
Walnut-based cake served with ice-cream.

~ Loukoumades ~
Dough fritters with cinnamon and thyme-honey syrup.

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Anyways, it was quite the treat to eat out and I did my best to subtlety document the experience, though I apologize for the quality of some of the photos above.  I was not adequately prepared to whip out my camera in front of the family – even though the dad is pretty much a professional photographer.  I would absolutely go back to document the experience but alas, there are oh so many other places to explore. For another review, check out the New York Times’ take here.

Milos
~ Location ~ Menu ~ Photos ~ Contact ~
M-Sun: 12p-2:30p ~ M-Sat: 5p-11:30p ~ Sun: 5p-10:30p
125 West 55th Street, NY, NY 10019
(212)245-7400
newyork@estiatoriomilos.com

There’s No Place Like Home

Home.  What in the world does that even mean?  Where you grew up? Where you live now? Does it have to be a full-on brick and mortar house with a yard?  Are you a roaming nomad?  For those of you who have graduated from high school and entered into the college or adult world, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.  We all reach a point (usually that big 1-8 birthday where you are legally considered an adult) where it’s time to live our own life.  You probably have left the nest and created a world of your own – you call the shots on when to go out, when to go to bed, what to eat, and how often you change your sheets.  Ok, that last one might be a little gross but it’s all about learning to live on your own.

When I went to college, I left a little piece of me back in Southern California.  I thought it was a given that I would move back to LA.  It’s where I grew up, where my family is, etc.  It was home.  I didn’t really give Santa Clara a chance and instead spent too much time worrying about classes and if I was involved enough or ready for the outside world.  I would just dip my toes in the Silicon Valley, never letting myself admit that I could adapt to Northern California ways.  I spent too much time looking back rather than in the moment.  But then something happened.  When I went home for the holidays, it no longer felt normal.  People had moved away, stores had changed and I didn’t know where I was supposed to fit into all of that. For some reason I thought that nothing would change, no one would grow older, and it would all stay the same.

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When senior year started, I decided I needed to change things up.  I wanted another shot at what my dad called “reinventing myself” or really just letting my true personality shine – no holding back and no worries if some people couldn’t relate. I decided to move to New York and there is where things fell into place.  I stopped worrying what people thought about me, I started focusing on the things I like to do – like exploring and working out – and started to make some really good friends.  I let people get to know the real me and stopped presenting a version of who I thought I should be.  It started to feel like home.  Every time I left to visit my family or explore another part of the east coast, I would get excited to see the NYC skyline or the tall skyscrapers from a distance.

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Living in New York has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I love the fast paced life style, the diversity of people, and the wide range of opportunities available.

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^^ It took me almost a year to find out about November Project but I am 100% certain it has contributed to my happiness here.

11221751_948895365133721_90525601569340533_o ^^ Then there are these people.  My np_nyc tribe.  I’m sorry but the np_lax just didn’t feel like home.  I’m sure I would fit right in after a few weeks of workouts and hardcore dedication – that’s after all how I started to make NYC feel like home – but I just missed my friends and the other familiar faces

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^^ So maybe my life is built up by working out and November Project.  That’s not too much a problem though since we are the work hard & play hard types of people.  I think life can be about finding people with common interests and making the most out of those relationships.  If it means you see them once or twice a week or maybe daily, then so be it.  But we shouldn’t force ourselves into situations that constantly make us unhappy or uncomfortable.  Even though I’m only 24, I feel as though I’ve experienced enough of that.  I’m done with feeling insecure and the odd man out.

Then I flew back to Southern California for the 4th of July.  I saw family, I went to the mountains, I went to the beach, and I saw friends who had just moved out to the west side of Los Angeles.

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Sure there was traffic, but there were views like this ^^.  We went running on trails and then had breakfast in a popular coffee spot (Urth Cafe – Spanish latte or Spanish granita – get it and you will not be sorry) by the beach.   Life was somehow easier in a way but more difficult in other ways.  My brain started to become muddled with what to do.

IMG_1025^^  Yes, this happens but then so does this:

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^^ For goodness sake I’m only 24 but I feel like the weight of the future is resting heavily on my shoulders right now.  There are people going to med school and getting engaged and even married with kids!  I know this feeling of confusion is going to be a long one – that’s why there are articles out there like Though Catalog’s “The Hardest Things People Had To Learn in Their 20’s“.  Yes, I admit, a lot of this is #firstworldproblems so I apologize if this seems trivial.  Let’s just say being back in California for an extended period of time was odd and I felt like I was in limbo.  No doubt I would like to move back there some day, but when?  The answer is I don’t know right now.  Maybe it’s a year or maybe it’s longer.

IMG_1022^^ Maybe the real decision should be based upon the wide variety of acai bowls offered?  I may have selected Santa Clara as my college of choice because they offered a “make-your-own-parfait” on the weekends. True story.

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I know that I like being close to my family – being able to golf or go for a hike or go out to dinner.  I know that I like having my own schedule and having a constant list of places to explore here in Manhattan.  I wish that Los Angeles didn’t rely so much on driving and the west side was closer together (wishful thinking).  I wish that New York was cleaner and that it was easier to escape the island and explore the coast (problem – I need a car/place to stay that’s relatively cheap…recent graduate problems).

I write for fun and to connect with people.  I read blogs to feel a commonality and have made some excellent friends through it.  I read blogs like Ali’s to feel validated in showing my quirky personality and that things work out, and I read posts like Sarah’s to know that we are all thriving and struggling at the same time.  We have become friends outside of the blogging world and are usually two peas in a pod.  (or insert dancing emoji) ;)

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^^ View from my run over the Manhattan bridge (accidentally on the biking-designated side) to NP in Brooklyn last Friday.

I’m fully aware that I don’t have to have my 5-10-15 year plan figured out right now.  I know that things change and the next year(s) will be life lessons in themselves.  I could learn to love the city and east coast even more or another winter could do me in.  Who knows?  For now, I’m happy in this crazy place I call home, at least for now.  I know my mom has heard this discussion too many times to count, so sorry mom.  Now that it has been written and published for the world wide web, I will let it drop and just go out there and carpe diem.  Let’s live it up for the moment, sound good?

Does anyone else feel the pull between comfort (often w/ family) and adventure (and growth)?  Does there have to be such a divide?