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?  

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Happy Birthday to the Bodie Man!

happy birthday to the main guy in my life 😉 you are one of a kind (yes, I am writing to our family dog as if he would read this.  my family jokes that he has some wicked computer satellite set up somewhere, communicating with all his friends and admirers)

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we lucked out with such a perfect pup.  (after the 3+ times that you decided to chew through the electrical wires. this is possibly why you have always been so mellow)

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oh moto, you think that every single stuffed animal is yours…well I guess since you are the lone child living at home, you can rule the roost

IMG_2829 the extent of your desire to go swimming – a nice little bounce in the pool.  I promise I won’t throw you in anymore

IMG_8907different year, different toys, same lovable face

IMG_2466 from hiking to the top of mammoth mountain to leading the pack on the trails at home

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we love you so

IMG_2527 and of course a special shout out to your sister Lily too 🙂
happy birthday

Daily Sights in the Big Apple

By now you have probably seen most of the highlights of New York either through my blog posts, through one of the many other NYC blogs, or maybe just by visiting.  But what happens when I’m not gallivanting about the city or people actually aren’t on vacation and the tourists go home?  Oh right, they never do.  Well, spoiler alert.  I don’t have the opportunity to run around the city every.single.day but what I do stumble across in this big concrete jungle can be pretty magical.  So here are just some of the sights and sites that I come across on my daily grind.

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>> hopefully the last snow (fingers crossed) of the season <<

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>> Moving into March and April rain showers. It’s what we Californians call the other part of our “season” – a nice compliment to the endless heat and drought. <<

IMG_8770 >> Columbus Circle and the oh so wonderful Central Park <<

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Sometimes all you need is a quick walk around the park to get your head back in the game.  Because I don’t always eat with my coworkers (most of us eat in front of our screens these days), I decide to take a walk in the park instead.  As the weather starts to get warmer and the snow has melted away, it’s even more enjoyable to get out and walk around.

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>> over the path and through the park <<

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 You know, it would be pretty neat to be able to travel and site see and feel on top of the world all the time.  But then you would return to your routine and the little life pleasures wouldn’t seem as fabulous anymore.  So here’s to living it up 7 days a week. Go get ’em.

Go Home Snow … And Other Random Thoughts

Snow.  Not cool.  Ok, maybe slightly cool. But it’s February and I want to run on Saturday and the forecast calls for 80% chance of snow.  We’ll see how that works out.  Today’s post calls for an epic arrangement of random thoughts, so please enjoy.  It’s just about all that I can handle and frankly need a random post right about now.  A big thank you to Amanda for hosting.

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I would not make a good full-time writer.   My ability to concentrate long enough to write a cohesive post has somehow disappeared.  Studying skills?  Forget it.  Now I flip-flop between wanting to draft posts for every day of the week and actually arriving home from work only thinking about changing into athletic clothes, making dinner, stretching, catching an episode of one of the ten shows I have missed, and then crashing into my bed.  Working full time, keeping up with blogging and hobbies, and finding time to be social is tough.  Boy, I give mega-props to you bloggers who keep it up.

I have however always thought about writing a children’s book with my mom.  Goodness knows we have enough topics to write about – the Bodie man and his various adventures or even the shenanigans that happen in our home town.  Ok, the last idea would have to be written under a pen-name and most definitely published (though it’s not a given) after we move out.  But, Helen of Pasadena was a hit, so why not give it a shot.

Matsumotos Shaved Ice
Haleiwa, HI 96712

Best.shaved ice.ever. I recently heard through the grapevine that my parents are planning a trip to Hawaii. Hm, maybe I should find a way to snag vacation days and find myself a ticket.  Just kidding, I’ll let them have their fun as empty nesters.  But still, the allure of sun, surf, and shaved ice.  It may be too difficult to resist.

Let’s talk about how obsessed our culture is with technology and cell phones.  When I got into the elevator to have lunch in our cafeteria, three other people jumped in and immediately brought out their phones.  This happens every.single.place I go.  Walking along the sidewalk?  Yep.  In the subway?  Yep.  Again, I’m often just as guilty but I’m just saying we are going to have some serious neck and back problems in the next 10-20 years.

How 11 Words and 5 Minutes Can Make Every Day the Best One Ever

Have you seen “50 First Dates”?  Now, I’m not much of an Adam Sandler fan, but using the movie as reference and how Drew Barrymore has to be reminded every single day about her life and schedule.  There are certainly days where I have to remind myself why I’m waking up so early or what I have on task for the day.  It’s not like I lost my memory, but I do have to have a small heart-to-heart/pump-up conversation with myself, especially on Mondays. Posts like these remind me that it’s normal.  Or so I keep telling myself that.

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You know those bloggers from the west coast who post pictures of the ocean or mountains on their days of?  Yeah, I used to be one of those. Until I got a real job and moved to the east coast.  Now I’m just making myself jealous by going through all the top eats and sights from the beloved Sunset Magazine website.

My fellow November Project peeps are amazing bloggers.  It’s actually thanks to Ali and Sarah that I found out about NP and made the decision to start showing up.  Actually a double thanks to Ali for an awesome run last Saturday and including me in her post (day year made by the way).  This girl is a phenomenon and I highly recommend checking her hilarious posts.  Filled with sarcasm, good fun, and rocking the neon like no-other, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Power on my friends, the weekend is near.

Lunch at Little Flower Candy Co.

Well my friends, I completely forgot to share this adorable cafe with you when I was home for the holidays.  So, while I may not be in California, there is always room for a good restaurant review.  Not to mention some sunshiney pictures as we east coasters go through the first few snow storms of the season.

 (source)

Little Flower Candy Co
1422 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91105

~ Cafe ~ Menu ~ About ~ Shop ~

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Little Flower Candy Co is a small little cafe and candy kitchen tucked on the side of the 134 freeway.  Filled with fresh food and delightful cups of coffee, it’s a perfect place to grab any meal of the day, catch up with friends, or soak up the Southern California sun.

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Of course it’s also known for it’s adorable and oh so sweet candy.  Just think, how perfect would these be for hostess gifts to table settings?  Or maybe a treat for yourself.

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White Bean & Prosciutto Salad
$11.50 arugula, baked prosciutto, white beans, avocado, parmesan, lemon thyme vinaigrette.

IMG_6353 Quiche + Salad ($8.50)

IMG_6354Salmon Bowl
$15.00 brown rice, shredded carrots & daikon radish, cucumber relish, micro greens, and ponzu dressing

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“All you need is love…and caramels”

January Life of Late

To say that this year has been uninspiring thus far would be a terrible mistake.  Despite having to spend a majority of my day staring at a computer (hello Excel and Outlook! My bestest of friends), I have already traveled to new places (mostly within New York City), met new friends, visited new restaurants, and just lived in the moment.  Oh, not to mention, applied and received a promotion at work, so that’s pretty nifty.  I’d say that’s an excellent start to 2015, don’t you?

What have I not done?  Well, a sugar cleanse & dry-January (um, seeing as I rarely drink, it wasn’t such a big deal and netted out to drinking 2 days out of the month), worry (too much) about the future, or save the world.  Not too shabby and can all roll over into February.  Yes, even saving the world.  But, there’s more to this city than that.  Grab a cup of tea and stay awhile.  Here’s some of the fun that living in such a unique place like NYC can offer.

IMG_8152Times Square
Now that all the holidays are over, the city is a little bit better to navigate.  Sure, I try to avoid the main tourist traps, but walking through this central hub of lights makes me think I live in a dream.

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Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10029
(Btwn 103/104 on the right side of Central Park)
~ More ~ Visit ~ Exhibits ~

I first read about this museum and the following exhibit in particular in the New York Times news paper.  As a matter of fact, I may have received the article from a grandparent, but I don’t entirely recall.  Anyways, this gem of a museum is hidden on the Upper East Side and not talked about as often as I think it should be.  Sure, it’s not your MET or MOMA, but it has so much history that it’s another fabulous stop on a rainy or snowy day.

The main reason I wanted to go was to see the “Mac Conner: A New York Life” exhibit, which highlighted the works of one of the first “Mad Men.”   Mr. McCauley (“Mac”) Conner (born 1913) was quite influential in the city’s growing publishing industry.   The exhibit will take you on a journey through his Navy publication days and into his hand-painted illustrations for advertising campaigns and women’s magazines (Redbook and McCall’s) created post World War II.

~ Huffington Post Review “Meet One Of The Real ‘Mad Men,’ 1950s Ad Artist Mac Conner” ~

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NOVEMBER PROJECT

IMG_8155Wake up the Sun @ Upper West Side ~ 116th and Morningside Drive

Sure, when my alarm goes off, I don’t always want to get up.  But, when I know that there will be smiling and friendly faces at NP, I know it’s worth it.  I know that starting my day by working out is the best thing that I can do for myself.  A happy (yet slightly tired and wired on coffee and tea) Kaitlin will be much better for the world, just trust me on this.

Some of our other favorite phrases and hashtags are: #weatherproof (we will work out in any weather – rain, snow, sunshine…the latter preferable but rare in these NYC winters), #justshowup #verbal (letting others know that you will be at the workout. it’s called ACCOUNTABILITY!) #positivity #grassrootsgear #wakeupthesun

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IMG_8074For those of you who are still intrigued (or confused…it’s totally ok to be confused) about November Project, I HIGHLY recommend checking this site out and watching this video.

Still trying to figure out why people want to wake up at the crack of dawn and go running around their respective cities?  Read Gabbi’s (Run Now Wine Later) recap of her year at NP-SF and you will know.  It’s just that amazing of an environment and I’m pretty positive that this is how we all feel about our tribes. 

IMG_8080Really though.  How could you not love this view?  Living on the east coast has made me appreciate the value of a sunrise.

IMG_8095ACAI BOWLS + GREEN SMOOTHIES GALORE
Thank goodness for Juice Generation, Liquiteria, and so many other pop-up shops.  Sure, the $8-10 price-range isn’t ideal but a bowl full of nut butter, fruit, and greens sounds like heaven to me.  At least I feel slightly healthy inhaling all those natural sugars and protein.

Also thanks to my planner who gave me a Juice Generation gift card for Christmas, it hasn’t been too terrible for my bank statement.

IMG_8088My terrible habit of having at least three beverages going at a time.  My family (and now roommates) have to deal with me constantly rotating cups and leaving them around the apartment. I may have three-four partially consumed drinks going at a time.  Sometimes I extend them out over a few days (of course putting them in the fridge and such), but they will be consumed. Eventually.

IMG_8085Just some friends playing Jenga and competing to make the tallest tower.  Ah New York.  You really do have it all.  (Sidenote: we were having such a good time that people around us were highly jealous of our Jenga skills)

IMG_8147Summer Roll  (Tuna,Avocado,Crab,Lettuce,Asparagus,Cucumber and Kaiware Sprouts Shrimp Tempura) … quite the mouthful.  Really.

Lunch at Sushi Zen
108 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

While some of the perks of my job include taking clients out to lunch and getting our nails done (free mani/pedi? Worth the long hours in excel), this was from lunch with my AWNY (Advertising Women of New York) mentor.  It’s what my dad told me (a younger Kaitlin grudgingly agreed at the time and is now thankful) that it’s all about – networking, networking, networking.

IMG_6557Wouldn’t you know that just across the water and 7 Train, there is this place called Long Island City with some delicious restaurants and recently renovated parks?  Thanks to my previous manager for this tip!

IMG_6527Just a couple of friends playing tourist for the day.  (Notice how Rock Center is not NEARLY as packed as say two months ago during the holidays?)

IMG_8130Because views like this make my day, week, month, and year.

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”
– Judy Garland