Thursday, December 31, 2015

last thoughts

I have a yoga class and a brief run in my future today.  Yesterday, I went to a spin class and ran into Brie and then went running with Sara Jo.  Our half marathon is in a little over two weeks.  It is time to buckle down and commit to the training.  Hence the spin/run combo yesterday as well as the treadmill/yoga class today. 
Last night, I felt ease while running.  I have gotten over that hump of dread when thinking of running.  I suppose I should commit to another event this year to build on my desire to return to running.  I don't know if I will accomplish another marathon.  A half is manageable and something I would like to entertain.  And adding running to the regimen of yoga is giving me more time to reflect and create.  Moreover, meeting people seems to occur when running.  I think of how I met the Goddess while training for my first race and how that ended.  A life long friend.
Reflecting on 2015....well, it started in Santa Fe and concluded in Denver.  Many trips to Phoenix and Denver while figuring out how to make the move.  As you can see, I do enjoy the southwest immensely.  Any time I have considered moving to California or Oregon, I find myself wanting to stay exactly where I am.  In the southwest. 
I met some fantastic people in each place.  I can say that I have some lifelong friends from retail employment, yoga training and service industry.  I thought I would make it back to Santa Fe before the end of the year.  My friend, Libby, will be relocating to Hawaii soon and I had hoped to see her before her departure.  We met in Phoenix and bonded in Santa Fe.  It was easy as we both were new to the city.  She enjoys wine ( a must in my world to become friendly).  We enjoyed numerous lunches and coffee dates before I moved to Denver.
I must make an attempt to visit soon.  I had more success with visiting friends in Phoenix.  Of course, it's an easy decision to make.  Quick flight.  Yoga that I love and many friends that I can visit.  And the hiking.  Ample hiking that I love and look forward to. 
Returning to Denver has provided many opportunities to think about what it is I want to be doing.  It's all a process.  Choosing to be here and creating my niche.  Thankfully, I have a support network and place to build from.  Yoga has been moderately frustrating as noted in some posts and will continue to be so.  Each city offers a different mindset when it comes to what it promotes.  If only, I could transport the awesomeness of Phoenix and kindness of Santa Fe to Denver.  That would be pretty great.  Although, I know there is more to discover in Denver.  I have been a little impatient.  I want a studio that has everything that I want, immediately.  I don't want to have to wait.  Yet, what fun would it be if there were not roadblocks?  It is all a journey.
I am excited to be embarking on 2016.  I feel it will be epic.  I see travel and abundant productivity in my future.  Lots of fulfilling work and establishing connections.  Cultivating friendships while loving life.  Why wouldn't I be excited for the new year?
Cheers to 2015 and bidding it adieu!  Celebrate, enjoy and taste life, always~

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

best experiences of 2015

Making the decision to return home.  Ultimately the best decision/experience of this year.  Choosing to come home brought about multiple visits and spending time with friends.  None of which I could repeat.  From hiking at Matthew Winters Park with Shari in August.  We brought a bottle of wine to share while celebrating Brian's life.
Dinner with Tiffany, Dan, Shari and Warrior Prince.  New nickname which I will unveil eventually.  Delightful conversation, incredible food and wine. 
Spending time with Brandon at the parlor.  He and I have been friends since 99.  Through ups and downs of life, we have remained close friends and always managed a great coffee or dining experience.  Recently, he relocated to the West Valley and so meeting closer to him made my day.  I love that particular restaurant and met him in spite of my commute.
Completing yoga certification.  Finally.  No more complaining about crappy yoga.  I can devise my own version of crappy yoga, haha.  Not really.  I attended a class yesterday where the girl paid homage to the lineage of ashtanga and how she taught her classes, loosely, on that sequence.  It was just that.  A loose interpretation.  Her counting drove me crazy.  She would talk us into the shape, describe it, and then start counting.  After I had been in the posture for 2-3 breath cycles.  She would begin at one and go from there.  Craziness!
Introducing Cody and Justin to the amazing meatball sandwich in Phoenix.  They both seemed surprised at the awesomeness of this sandwich.  We all met while working retail and have remained friends based on our respective love of travel and/or food. 
Finding my voice when frustrated with service.  Instead of doing the cowardly thing and anonymously griping about it afterwards, I have confronted the situation head on and tried to receive a positive solution.  For instance, today, I called a company to relay my most recent experience and the displeasure associated with it.  The guy argued with me which further incited my frustration with the situation.  Again, I could enter a website and discuss my unhappiness or I can write a letter directly to them.  That is what I am doing.  I am beyond irritated but unwilling to not sign my name to it. 
Spending time with the Mini in Santa Fe.  She called me on a Friday to see if I would have lunch with her on Saturday.  WHAT?  How could this be possible?  Well, she was moving to Denver and Santa Fe was on the way. I always enjoy my time with Kristina.  She has unique ideas and a zest for life. 
Relocating to Denver.  I do miss aspects of Santa Fe and have many people I call friends there now.  I don't regret moving there.  It got me closer to home.  And, I chose to be here now.
As I ponder the upcoming year, I also think of the lesson of returning.  What it means for me and what I can do with the knowledge.  Being okay with being exactly where I am. 
I am so looking forward to what 2016 has to offer.  Potential, possibility, opportunity.  All of things I invite into my life.  I wish you the same.  Health, wealth and happiness~

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best meals of 2016

I fell in love with green chile while living in Santa Fe.  Thankfully, since you could not go many places without encountering it.  On burgers, in mac and cheese, and breakfast burritos.  I was spoiled in that particular category.  There was a walk up place that offered a gigantic burrito with bacon, sausage, chorizo or carne asada.  Typically, I preferred the bacon breakfast burrito with green sauce.  AMAZING.
I think I have slimmed down, a little, since relocating to Denver since I don't have access to the breakfast burrito on a daily basis.  Sure they are offered here.  I just haven't found one to replace the ones I found in Santa Fe.  My favorite meal in Santa Fe is hard to pinpoint, too.  I shared many meals with Melody.  We would meet for lunch at the local beer spot that offered homemade bread and insisted on a farm to table type of restaurant.  They had no microwave or can opener in the house and I can attest to the quality of the food.  Or, there was a salad place that was a little on the shi-shi side of life that poured the worst glass of wine.  Still I liked the salads and patio atmosphere.  I befriended a few of the bartenders which always eases the situation eventually.  I would dine with Teo, Marc or Melody.  I was not short of willing participants to dine with me there. 
Birthdays are presented opportunities to check out the restaurant scene.  I went to a French place two years running.  I loved the atmosphere in spite of the fact that they did not have a bar.  Small space where they utilized as much as they could.  They left the bar seating out.  Teo and I shared a cheese platter, roasted cauliflower and truffled French fries.  Melody and I shared octopus (yummy), cheese and steak frites.  I wasn't too thrilled about this choice but in the spirit of compromise we had steak.  I should have held firm with my lack of desire to eat steak.  Veiny cut--yuck!
Dining is Denver is always a treat.  Mostly since it involves dear friends that have known me for a while.  This past year was lovely.  I had the opportunity to dine with Sara Jo, the Goddess, Tiffany, Shari, Bryn and Maghan on multiple occasions.  The best meal was potentially with Tiffany, Dan, Shari and Maghan.  We checked out a new spot that sported exposed brick and a welcoming atmosphere.  We tried everything on the menu and shared it.  It was awesome! 
Shari and I also met with Sara Jo and my travel friend, Troy, for a meal in Denver.  We shared calamari, mac and cheese, paella and a cheese board.  I enjoyed the food but loved the conversation. 
Austin offered nonstop food options.  We did Thai, Asian, Italian and pork inspired places. Oh and food truck Friday.  Tacos, doughnuts, and eventually pizza.  I loved the food scene in Austin.  I think outside of food truck Friday, my favorite meal was Thai.  We sat around a table that had benches and we were placed near couples and a birthday party of ladies.  We watched them chat and drink wine.  A little too modestly really.  They were not 21 and so it made sense.  My friend, Vegas, insisted on buying them a round of saki.  After that point, they were super friendly to us, haha.
Chicago is another food centric city.  I had spent some time there in the past and knew of places that I enjoyed.  Maghan and I returned to a trendy Vietnamese spot for appetizers, hot dogs (a must while in Chicago) and had two meals at the purple pig.  Because, yes, it is that good.  Fortunately, we found seating in front of the cooking station.  The first day there was limited interaction with the kitchen.  On our return, they recognized us and so we were greeted and more than taken care of.  I think my favorite meal was the stuffed squid.  We ended up ordering two of these.  The next day we chose the waygu beef and marinated pork shoulder.  Awesome and another contender for best dish of the year.
While in Las Vegas, my friend had a random virus that limited our adventurous dining.  We did manage a Thai meal that was pretty incredible.  Located off Strip where they promised us no problem hailing a cab on the return (complete liars) she tried curry and I had some calamari and curry.  Of course no trip to Vegas is complete without a meal at Bouchon and Olives.  Too of my all time favorite spots to belly up to the bar.  While Jennifer recovered in the room I dined on tuna carpaccio and octopus.  Of course, drinks were included and I had befriended a bartender from previous trips so I was in good hands.
That night we had appetizers at a tapas place and concluded the trip with a meal at Bouchon.  It was delightful although I would have preferred checking out more of the food.  Jennifer still was nursing her virus and I am thankful that she rallied.  I would have been bummed had we not been able to go check out the food scene.
I have a friend from my brief stint of work at whole foods that dines with me whenever I am in Phoenix.  A fellow lover of food, I always appreciate dining with Justin.  We checked out a Thai place, I introduced him to the meatball sandwich at Bianco's (which I swear is the best and he agreed) and we checked out another local spot in Arcadia.  That time was a little disappointing.  I thought the kitchen was open til 10.  We arrived a little after 8:30. Talk about being rushed out.  I will not make that mistake again.
Of and while in Phoenix, I stopped by this family owned spot that offers breakfast burritos.  You can see the recurring theme of what I enjoy, right.  While living in Phoenix, I frequented this place and knew that the salsa bar was also a highlight of the experience.  Imagine my surprise when I drive thirty plus minutes to get there and they no longer have breakfast burritos.  Shock.  Dismay.  Disappointment.  The family that owns it is Mexican and the older couple speak limited English.  I know the woman could tell I was upset and so she involved her son who agreed to make me a breakfast burrito.  I explained that I no longer lived in town and had been dreaming of the breakfast burrito.  He suggested that I call ahead next time and that they would honor my request.  Now that is service.
For now, I must conclude this.  I have a date with a treadmill followed by a yoga session.  I will think more on my experience of food for 2015.  I know there is more to consider.

Monday, December 28, 2015

trips of 2015

As I approach 2016, I have been reflecting on the best of this year.  Best trip, meals, experiences.  I think I will continue to ponder this until the end of the year.  For now, I think the best trip was Austin.  I kicked myself for not checking out that city until 2015.  Amazing.  You can't walk down a street without finding a cool bar and/or restaurant.  Food truck Friday was pretty memorable, too.  Shari and I chose to spend the anniversary in Austin this year.  I casually mentioned this to my friend, Jonny.  I think we were texting. Next thing I knew, he had purchased a ticket to Austin with the intention of crashing our trip.  He did and it was glorious.  He found our vacation rental and scouted the local bar scene.  He definitely did good with both of those things. 
Las Vegas in July offered numerous fantastic meal memories.  My friend, Jennifer, from middle school met me there for a weekend.  We dined at a Thai place off the Strip and I managed to dine, twice, at Olives.  There was this Cirque show and a brief moment of checking out the pool.  Spending time in a pool in Vegas is similar to spending time in a pool in Phoenix.  Bath water.  Unappealing.
Phoenix was in my present on five separate occasions.  I flirted with the idea of becoming certified in yoga and finally accomplished it this year.  The school I chose offered intensives which enabled me multiple trips to Phoenix to finish.  Each intensive offered different classes.  Initially, I thought I had to take as many hours as possible so that I could finish.  Midway through the hours, I realized how foolish I was being.  The final intensive was the best.  I picked and chose which classes appealed to me.  I took two classes a day.  I was no longer concerned with finishing.  I really wanted to benefit from what was being taught.
I saw some friends and enjoyed the city.  I found that I missed aspects of being in Phoenix.  Yoga, pedicures, restaurants and up and coming wine bars.  Oh and shopping.  What I wouldn't give to have access to some of the thrift stores in Phoenix.  Nothing compares in Santa Fe or Denver.
I spent numerous weekends in Denver before moving back.  I wanted to be in Denver and I wanted to work the season in Santa Fe.  Finally, I found a yoga instructor that I liked.  My friend, Libby, and I were bonding over coffee and our love of the green chile.  I met Libby while living in Phoenix but befriended her in New Mexico.  Then there was Ojo.  I love the hot springs and tried to visit there on a monthly basis. 
My trips to Denver intensified as I neared my departure date.  I needed to pack my things and move them on my own.  I knew that I would not be able to convince Jan to move my things back from Santa Fe.  Instead, I rented a car and drove north.  Typically, I would stay with Sara jo, the Goddess or Bryn.  Dinners included wine bars, home made dinner and local spots.  I shared some incredible meals with Shari and Maghan too.  I now refer to them as reverse oreo, haha.
How could I forget Chicago?  Talk about food mecca.  So delicious.  I have visited that city in August, in June, in January and now in October.  Delightful.  I had a blast and loved every minute of the food venture.  We did some touristy things too.  Saw the art museum and the bean. 
I've been dreaming of New Orleans and think it will be part of 2016 somehow.  I don't know when.  Only that I would love to return to visit and see the latest and greatest.  It never disappoints. 
2015 has been about transition, change and travel.  I'm thankful for the year and what it presented.  The opportunity to go home.

Upcoming travel

Best way to celebrate a day off....sleep in til 11:30, be lazy and then perhaps hit a yoga class.  I am still undecided on that one.  I believe I am most productive when I actually greet the day in a timely manner.
Could not be helped.  I ate dinner at 1 am and then drank some wine til 3:30.  Seems like I am trying to relive the college days.  Speaking of college days, I inquired about some suggestions to stay in Bangkok and feel like the majority of kids that responded are just that, kids.  The first person said he stayed along a street that was like a frat party.  Pass.  I don't see Shari and I enjoying a good night of sleep, staying above a college bar.  We are heading to Vietnam and chose to fly in and out of Bangkok.  It is a great departure city and gateway to travel in Southeast Asia from what I have heard.  We want to check out the city, briefly, as the focal point of our trip is Vietnam and Cambodia. 
Still, I know that Bangkok is thriving with restaurants, bars and things to see.  I am excited to get another passport stamp and see the other side of the world. 
Initially, we tried to decide if we should fly in and out of Vietnam or do a multi-city venture.  The more we thought about it and talked to people, the more it became apparent that we should pick a gateway city--Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore.  After checking available flights, we opted for Bangkok.  After arriving there we can fly anywhere in Asia.  There are still some things to work out--how long in Bangkok, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. 
I am thankful to be back in Denver and know that I chose to be here.  Things happen as they are supposed to.  I cannot rush what I think I should be doing.  My training with Sara has declined somewhat.  Her work schedule and mine are not aligned.  In addition, she is working too much which is further limiting our meet-ups.  I have been relying on the gym to supplement my training.  Thankfully, I am not anti-spin anymore.  Working in Santa Fe helped facilitate the enjoyment of cycling. 
I will manage to check out a yoga class this evening at a new location.  I know the instructor has a pretty challenging class.  Her background is from personal training and strength building.  I know I will have a challenging experience.  I have also scheduled a few other classes to attend this week.  Otherwise, I will find an excuse as to why I should not have to take a class.  I know it.  I am feeling vulnerable to not attending classes. 
I should organize my stuff.  In an effort to feel more settled here.  It is time.  Again, I chose to be here and want to make the most of it.  To establish roots and thrive.  I have loved every minute of my unconventional lifestyle.  I have many friends in different places as became more apparent to me when I inquired about lodging in Bangkok.  Multiple people had suggestions and offers to help me out.  It felt awesome.  I don't every want to lose that wanderlust or passion for life.  I only want to have a place to return to that I can call home.  It is Denver.  Always has been.
I suppose I had to work through a little bit of stuff and still am.  I have baggage that will always be with me.  It's lighter now but still there.  I will always have memories of Brian in Denver and associations of my life with him.  I value those memories.  I didn't understand how much would resurface after deciding to move back.  A few times I felt overwhelmed with my decision. I have physical abnormalities to further remind me that there is still stuff to slog through.  My shoulder has been a constant reminder that I have grief to address.  There were days were the ache never lessened.  Where I felt I couldn't get comfortable or relax.  I tried to pop it back into place countless times with little success.  I struggled to attend yoga.  Scared that I would aggravate it further.  Eventually, I stopped thinking about it and lived my life.  I want to be here and am open to whatever that means. 
Next year, I feel, will be more reflective and visible on my blog.  I won't take as many absences or be distracted.  I see the end of my transition and a start of a beautiful journey. Lots of travel and meeting people.  That is what 2016 holds for me.  What does it hold for you?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Key West past and future

Brian loved Christmas.  Every year he would shower me with gifts since this was his preferred holiday.  Even more than his birthday.  My birthday is my cherished holiday.  I love bringing the cupcakes, as Lindsay would say.  Haha.
I began traveling to spend Christmas as a way to escape my sadness.  One year I was in Australia.  A few others in Las Vegas, San Diego and in 2010, I spent the holiday in Key West.  Magical.  I flew through Miami on a red eye and arrived, weary, the following morning.  I figured I could ask the hotel for an early check in.  The worst they could do was say no.  I walked off the tarmac and into a blissful moment.  It was beautiful.  I was surrounded by beauty and extremely thankful for the decision I made to spend xmas there. 
That had been my second trip to Key West.  As a 20-year old, I drove from Miami with an ex-boyfriend.  Gorgeous drive there and terrible return. Being stuck in a car with someone you no longer like is not fun.  At any rate, it was a nice time while in Key West.
Next month, Sara and I are running a half marathon there.  We opted to arrange a vacation rental instead of a hotel.  Seemed like the best option and suitable to our travel needs.  I know there are spectacular restaurants and bars to check out.  And the Cuban coffee scene is amazing.  I will have to check out a few of the additional places that are in Key West.  I found one attached to a Laundromat and frequented it, daily.  Yes, it was that good.
I am excited to be on a beach.  Maybe go snorkeling.  Last time I went scuba diving which was troubling.  I was a solo diver on an outing.  I had not really bonded with any of the other divers and the water was choppy.  Probably my least favorite dive of all times.  I hope to never have a repeat of that experience.  The crew was kind of dicks about it, too. 
I am dreaming of pina coladas, sand and sunshine.  What are you thinking about today? 

Friday, December 11, 2015

being happy and making choices to achieve it

Gorgeous day to do something different.  I woke up and considered running.  The half marathon is in five weeks.  Although the training has not been stellar (I think we missed three weeks at some point due to family, sickness and lack of desire).  We returned to the plan and I believe we will be fine.  Maybe not P.R.  However, we can at least finish without a bunch of soreness.  I think of the last two half marathons that I have run with Sara Jo. Let's just say....we could have definitely benefitted from more training in those events.  This time, we are going to finish and finish strong.
So I went for a mock run.  Yes, I can say it.  I had thoughts of running for a half hour and then got side tracked due to what I need to do.  My friend is suffering from irritation on his pancreas.  Instead of going for a run, I ran to the nearest market to purchase lemon zinger and some other desired items for his recovery.  I had wanted to make lunch for both of us.  He is on the B.R.A.T. diet for the next few days.  I opted to roast eggplant.  I had picked up eggplant on a recent market trip. Sorta impulsive and sort of with intention.  I felt confident that I could make a delicious pasta lunch. 
This decision morphed into entirely something different.  I purchased mint, tomatoes, feta cheese and added onion, capers and already made angel hair pasta.  The dish I hoped to make was a non bread bruschetta.  Think, using the eggplant as a hearty base and be healthy.  I considered my options and chose to incorporate leftovers into this dish.  It worked very well and I remembered how underutilized eggplant is.  Silly.  What a great vegetable. 
Also, made me think of the where I am and where I want to be.  It's true.  I was committed to returning to Denver.  And, in all actuality, it's only been six weeks.  I cannot expect miracles to happen in that time.  The miracle, was choosing to return home.  And how I have been embraced.  Employment, shelter and spending time with friends.  I am blessed.  Even if I find the yoga scene challenging.  It's just another reminder that I can create a niche here for me.  I think I have two definite private clients beginning in the new year.  I want to expand and build on that.  In addition, I want to cook more and enjoy life.  I am capable of feeding others and I enjoy cooking.  I love entertaining.  Why not incorporate more of that into my daily life?
In the last four months, I know of three people who have experienced life changing events.  One had MRSA, another has aggressive cancer and last week, my friend in Phoenix experienced a massive heart attack.  I am most concerned with the latter as it is debilitating on his work and life in general.  I have known this man since 99. He's always lived the champagne life on a ramen budget.  A few years ago he went in for a check up and it was noted that he needed to make adjustments to his diet.  Out of anything, he was felt he was middle-aged.  That scared him.  We laughed about it while hiking Echo and planned another hike the following week.
And he did make adjustments to his diet.  However, he has always thrived on stress/drama.  I think it got the best of him.  He has a full schedule of being a teacher, pursuing his PhD and dating a partner that is in NYC.  Stress.  Yes, there is a ton of it in his life.
How can I help?  Well, of course, I will send him some money to help him in this moment of recovery.  I will send him kindness, love and peaceful thoughts.  If needed, I would fly down there to help him.  He's been a great friend to me. 
I work in an hour.  It is a gorgeous day.  If anything, I would love to go to matthew winters park with a bottle of wine.  Toast life, Brian and how thankful I am for today.  It is a lovely day.  Another reminder to enjoy it to the fullest!
My making of lunch helped achieve that.  Now, I will enjoy the remainder of my free time.  Maybe grab a coffee pre-work.  Think about what I can create tomorrow for a joyful lunch.