Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Reason I Blog

I have never officially provided a rationale for writing Girl Emerging. Not that I need a rationale. I blog purely for the enjoyment of it. My entire life, I have loved writing. I kept a vast collection of diaries and journals and notebooks and records in childhood, but none of them lasted more than a few weeks before I was on to the next one. I'm type-A, anal as they come, so I write with perfectionistic precision. Thinking faster than I can write is frustrating, so typing my thoughts keeps everything more in sync. I used to type random thoughts and documents and title them cryptically on our family computer prior to having my own. I wanted to write, but just as little kids get shy as soon as they realize an adult is watching them at play, I didn't want anyone reading my innermost thoughts about -- heaven forbid -- boys(!), girlfriend drama, the goings-on at school, my latest hobby interest, or the next wacky wardrobe phase I would try. I've always enjoyed writing papers for class because it gave me an excuse to write (talk about a Nerd Alert), to string words together creatively, to log my thoughts and to store and share them instantaneously. As an upperclassman at Longwood, I began reading others' blogs, and I admired their senses of decor, interweb finesse, and brutal refreshing honesty. When I began graduate school last August, I started contemplating what my own little corner of Blog World might contain. Five months ago, I decided that I would try my hand at blogging. I set up this comfy little nook, and thanks to Colleen, I had a few readers and Twitter followers in no time.
My primary interests were (a) keeping a public record of my day-to-day life and thoughts, (b) expressing my desire to live and promote a healthy, energetic lifestyle, and (c) documenting my weight-loss goals, challenges, and successes. While blogging has brought great joy to my life since December, I cannot express in words how much I love the supportiveness, genuineness, and enthusiasm of the blogging community of which I now consider myself an established part.

In other news...
Yesterday's weather was pretty shitty. Not to be blunt or anything. A small tropical storm settled over the Outer Banks, with the eye right over Rodanthe.
It kept us inside all day. That was perfectly fine with me for awhile ("awhile" being the operative word). I read my Ellen Hopkins book, Perfect
Courtesy of Barnes & Noble
I found a fantastic new blog to read, Ian and I kicked ass in Mario Party (in case you're curious, as I'm positive you are, we're on a 4-0 winning streak this week), I made a healthy and delicious breakfast, and we watched a bit of Super Troopers.
Around two o'clock, I had had enough of enjoying the forced laziness. We ventured outside into the gusting winds for a bit of fresh air and a brief dip in the hot tub. We were out there for all of, oh, I don't know, fifteen minutes before the downpour commenced once more. Not that the rain mattered, because we were already wet, but the thunder and lightning followed soon behind.
The hot tub segued into a shower, which gave way to a glorious nap and some Toddlers and Tiaras. Definitely a "guilty pleasure" show. But hey, aren't rainy days "guilty pleasure" days, anyway?

Thanks for reading Girl Emerging, thanks for your continued support, and please feel free to stop by again! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Buying shorts is not usually something about which I get overly excited. In fact, until Monday evening, I had not bought shorts in years (with the exception of running gear). The thought of buying shorts makes me embarrassed.
Will the saleswoman think I ought to be trying on a larger size?
Will the itty bitty teenie-bopper in the fitting room next door be judging my cellulite?
Will I constantly be tugging at the hem of the shorts, trying to pull them out of my butt and make them look an appropriate length?
What will I tell the fitting room associate when she asks how everything fit?
Will the button pop off the first time I sit down, making me look like one of these unfortunate souls?
Ian and I were shopping at the Tanger Outlets in OBX on Monday, and I hadn't had any luck at several stores. I optimistically tried on the size I hoped to be able to wear, and I tried on the size I normally wear. Nada. I was starting to get discouraged, feeling as though not a single one of the thirty pounds I've shed came from my waist. I was trying to bear in mind one of my mom's shopping mantras, that the same size can fit differently in two different stores, or even in two different items of the same size in the same store.

Our last stop was Gap, which happened to be having a fantastic sale -- all shorts on sale for $14.99! I was stoked about the price but skeptical about the fit. Nevertheless, I tentatively brought a few pairs into the dressing room and casually slipped them on. One... by... one... they ALL fit! And I loved the way they looked on me! That's not often something I say about a piece of clothing, especially one that hasn't yet been "broken in."
For the rest of the night, I couldn't stop talking about how my week had been made. Not only had I successfully bought shorts for the first time in years, I found five adorable, classy, work-appropriate shorts for under $75!! I'm pretty sure everyone's sick of hearing about my joyous success, but I'm still glowing.

Oh, and I think Ian deserves a shout-out for happily lugging around my prospective purchases, providing me with second opinions outside the dressing room, and calculating costs on his phone ;) He's one of the good ones!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ian's and My Mexican Meal-Making Experience

Perhaps Hispanic is a more (ethnocentrically) correct term to describe the dinner Ian and I prepared this evening. We sliced and diced and sizzled and mixed and chopped and arranged. Because I'm not a culinary whiz and Ian has kitchen experience in the "little or none" range,
[Think: "Cooking?! That's why they have dining halls!"]
I knew we needed to make something for the Gileses & Co. that was simple, (relatively) healthy, and incorporated seafood. Thus, I give you:
shrimp fajitas (flavored with Old El Paso mild taco seasoning) with the works (shredded lettuce, diced tomato, medium restaurant style salsa, four-cheese Mexican shredded cheese, light sour cream)
Spanish rice (which was supposed to be garlic quinoa, but the few-and-far-between grocery stores in OBX aren't as superfood-savvy as the blog world, and Ian wasn't sure everyone would entertain the notion as well as he did),
patriotic summer fruit salad (strawberries, blueberries, and bananas, plus light whipped cream as an added treat),
and chips and queso (per Ian's request).
I love any meal that fuses sauteed veggies, Mexican flavor, chips and salsa, and fresh summertime fruit! Plus, it was really fun to cook for a group and to relieve Ian's parents from their meal prep duties. Ian and I also work really well as a team in the kitchen, though he hasn't quite mastered the whole "whoever cooks cleans up" thing ;)
Tyler and Liz -- two of our Clean Plate Rangers -- gave our meal a thumbs-up!

P.S. What type(s) of meal do you make for your other half's family and friends? Do you aim for simplicity, seasonally appropriate, themed, aesthetically pleasing? I wanted this meal to be a combo of all four, especially since it was the first time we were cooking for Ian's family!

Totally Toasted

When I was fifteen, I decided that I needed a bellybutton piercing. You know, to go along with my waist-length sun-bleached hair, my puca shell necklaces, and my vast collection of American Eagle wardrobe pieces. It complemented me well, because I weighed about 120 pounds, I was bronzed from April through September, and my fingers and toes pruned at the sight of water. Bikinis were my suit of choice, and tan lines were the enemy against which my ninth-grade posse and I rebelled. I clearly remember applying SPF 4 sunscreen once during an all-day beach excursion with my best friend (at the time) and her family. I got the worst sunburn of my life -- embarrassingly accented by my "I Got My Crabs from Dirty Dick's" short-shorts -- and still didn't learn my lesson. About either mistake. I felt cooler than cool lying on the beach with tanning oil-slicked skin, listening to Switchfoot and Oasis on my CD player. Obviously, I was a rock star.
Instead of worrying about sun damage to my skin, I was worried about wearing sunscreen above SPF 15 to maximize my tan potential. Fortunately, I have never had a cancerous mole or a melanoma scare, but I've read and heard many times that every bad sunburn you have ever had is compounded, long after the redness fades and the skin peels. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean I'm in the clear.
Um. What? (circa 2007)
I've also heard that any SPF above 75 is a complete waste (e.g. SPF 110) because it's plastered on sunscreen more as a reassurance rather than a legitimate protection measure. I have no idea whether this is a falsehood, but I'm inclined to use SPFs 50 and 70 like it's my second job.

Yesterday morning (our first day on the beach), I sprayed half a bottle of Neutrogena SPF 70 head-to-toe, slathering myself in Sun Protection Hopefulness. Ian and I set up our low-slung chairs right at the precipice of the foamy waves; an hour later, the tops of my thighs were red, while my calves on down were still pasty pale. Mind you, my back and shoulders are still peeling from the wicked sunburn I got during Ian's graduation ceremony. I don't know when the switch happened that I went from compulsively tanning to protecting my skin beneath sunscreen and T-shirts, but these days I'm all about preserving and protecting it. Don't get me wrong -- I'm 100% jealous of Ian's natural ability to step out in the sun for 10 minutes and be bronzed like a Greek god without ever sunburning, but I don't envy his brass-balled confidence that sun damage isn't affecting his body. Thankfully, I didn't sunburn yesterday, but I did notice new tan lines after only two hours in the sun.

And another thing!
Are you familiar with the game Never Have I Ever? The age-old high school sex education query, or the collegiate drinking game component? Well, "never have I ever" fake-baked. While I think golden skin is beautiful skin, I have a serious complex about forking over my hard-earned bucks to lie in a casket for 10 minutes every week. Never have I ever had an interest in looking sun-kissed year-round, no siree. It is in no way natural or attractive to be Snooki-esque in February. I'll take my G-L and you can keep the T.
For a message from a fellow blogger, check out Alyssa's stance on tanning beds. She says, "Tell [your friends] you have a friend who [had] skin cancer, and she says it's just not worth it."

P.S. Do you tan naturally? Do you fake-bake? Do you get spray tans or use DIY tanning agents? If "yes" to the latter, which do you recommend?

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Know Myself

You may experience a bit of déjà vu in this post...
You may experience a bit of déjà vu in this post...

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can attest that it's not always easy to eat well on vacation or to keep myself on track (a.k.a. not lose myself in a whirlwind of cinnamon rolls, chips and queso, potato salad, BBQ, and a vegetable-less existence). Of course, there is that mental wrestling match that happens every time vacation rolls around -- I have to remind myself that I am on vacation and I do deserve to indulge in some of my favorite sub-optimal foods (like toppings-laden pizza, regular Coke, and carby foods and beer). If there's one thing I've learned about myself during my weight-loss journey over the past six months (30 pounds and counting!), it's that having a plan and sticking to it are key elements in achieving personal success.

That being said, I'm trying to find an optimal balance of pleasure and health this week. For example, breakfast yesterday morning consisted of a bowl of Kashi topped with fresh blueberries and a cup of coffee, and lunch was a honey ham, juicy fresh tomato, and Swiss sandwich, accompanied by tortilla chips, fresh banana slices and a dollop of Nutella,
and a Dr. Pepper Ten. Dinner was absolutely delicious, and not difficult for me to customize healthily:
I don't want to skimp on favorites like fresh doughnuts, Sweet Frog cake batter froyo, Captain George's delicacies, or post-dinner pina coladas,
but I can always be aware that there's no need to overdo it on the heavy stuff.

In addition to this internal war I intentionally wage with myself, I also battle hypoglycemia. I've never been officially "diagnosed" with it, but it doesn't take a genius to match symptoms with descriptions (nor a WebMD-paranoid). Rather than eating 2-3 large meals each day, it's better for me to eat 4-5 small meals each day. I can prevent my blood sugar from dropping and experiencing the accompanying dizziness, light-headedness, heavy limbs, tunnel vision, headaches, weakness, extreme hunger, irritability (i.e. bitchiness) and trembling. I also arm myself with an arsenal of granola bars, natural or unsalted nuts, dried fruit, sugar-packed gum, and occasionally sucrose tablets in the event of an emergency (thanks for the idea, Mom!).

Finally, I'm relieved that my worries about finding the time and location to exercise on vacation were for naught. Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling restless in the midst of an all-day monsoon, so I took the first let-up as an opportunity to go for a 2.25-mile jaunt up and down our quarter-mile street. Even though it drizzled on me for the 30 minutes I was out there, it felt so good to stretch my legs and sweat a bit. It made my dip in the hot tub and my beer afterward that much more rewarding ;)

P.S. Do you find yourself slipping out of your "diet" while you're on vacay, or do you cite vacation as a break from your usual eating habits? Do you allow yourself to eat whatever you like, worry-free? Do you stick to your "diet" at all costs? One day, when I've achieved more of my weight loss and fitness goals, I think I'll be less anal about what goes into my body on vacation!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My First Night in Rodanthe

You know, my blends, the real play therapy is allowing adults (i.e. 20-somethings) to vacation in the Outer Banks for a week after the hardest academic year of their lives and the most intense one-week class that ever existed in parallel universes. I'm not referring to anyone specifically, of course. [Note: I'm also not trying to elicit sympathy; I placed this difficult courseload on myself this schoolyear and summer.]
I had never been to OBX before I vacationed with Ian's family in Duck in 2010, and in Corolla in 2011. This year, we're living out our Nights in Rodanthe fantasies. Kidding. Shout-out to Nick Sparks.
Let me back up a bit. Yesterday, I set out from my apartment at 6:20 a.m. (an unholy hour in A.K. World) to meet Ian and his family. Then it was time to road trip! After a delicious and wholesome breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Richmond,
it was back on the road.
We stopped at a favorite produce stand, Powell's, in Sligo to let Jazz out for a breather:
As soon as we got back in my car, I realized that my iPod connection had mysteriously self-destructed. Somehow, this is the second consecutive summer during which my iPod player has broken on the way to OBX. Needless to say, I was irritable and bitchy. My blood sugar was also low because we hadn't eaten lunch, so Ian kindly suggested that I nap while he drive. When I awoke an hour later, we had arrived in Rodanthe!
I will always be that guest who brings too much... And requires help to lug it all up three flights of stairs...
After a chaotic grocery trip (I won't lie, I almost lost my mind navigating the sea of vacationers to locate healthy food), it was finally time for dinner at 9:00. I'll spare you the gory details of scarfing Polynesian and Lisa's Supreme pizza, but it wasn't pretty. I was so hungry, I'm not even sure I breathed...
I have literally never had Coke in a glass bottle before, so there was no better time to try it than our first night in Rodanthe! It was a refreshing treat after such a frenzied day.
Ian and I enjoyed a beer on one of our myriad porches after dinner before calling it an early night.
Tragically, our first morning at the beach consisted of rain, harder rain, and hardest rain. That meant two things: it was perfect blogging weather, and perfect weather for beginning the Ellen Hopkins novel I've held off reading for months! I'm off to enjoy this rainy, relaxing day. Ta ta!
P.S. Have you ever been to Rodanthe? If so, what restaurants, tourist attractions, shops, or entertainment do you recommend?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Play Therapy

Thank you to those of you who sent texts, tweets, and comments my way this week! I've been in my Play Therapy class from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day. It's been very informative, interesting, and also long and tiring. I've learned a lot, but I think we're all ready to have our normal lives back. My routine has consisted of class, schoolwork, sleep, repeat. Man, oh, man, have I missed the treadmill...
Today is the final day of class, and tomorrow -- at the asscrack of dawn -- is OBX! Please excuse my brevity; I'll be back to normal posting as soon as possible. Thanks for sticking around!

P.S. Are you familiar with play therapy? If so, how do you feel about it? It's definitely something I'm considering as a wannabe LPC, but I have a long road ahead of me!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Adventures at Fresh Market

Sorry I haven't written! It's been a busy past few days, between packing, prepping for class (I have a one-week intensive Play Therapy class next week), prepping for Ian turning 22(!), and getting myself from one location to the next. I have a busy, busy, busy summer ahead of me!

Ian's birthday was Thursday, and he wanted to investigate Fresh Market's selection of craft beers and microbrewery options. As we meandered through the aisles, I thought I could probably just move into Fresh Market and live there forever. The all-natural honeys and nut butters, the sea-salted kale chips, the locally grown produce, the organic chocolate, the bulk containers of rich coffees... It was all so enticing. I bought a packet of Justin's Classic Almond Butter, which I found dry but easily spreadable. I had expected it to have a stronger almond flavor. No matter, I'm not giving up on Justin. I also purchased six beers as part of Fresh Market's six-pack for $8.99 deal. I wouldn't exactly call that a "deal," but I enjoyed sampling different beers.
We didn't have time to look around much, so I begged Ian to bring me back yesterday.
Ian indulged me, and I purchased these tasty looking goodies on our second trip:
I have to admit, the kale chips were not what I was expecting... I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, never having tried kale chips, but they'll take a bit of getting used to. I love pesto and Pom, so all in all, Fresh Market gets an A in my book!

We also celebrated Ian's special day with a Salem Red Sox game. I love baseball, minor or major!
I can honestly say, I have never attended a baseball game at which there were mountains in the background. Ah, beautiful Roanoke. The Sox lost 3-6 against the Frederick Keys, but the game was still a great time. I even got Dip 'n Dots, one of my favorite ice cream treats of all time.
The birthday and graduation celebration continues tonight with a family dinner and gathering. I love celebrating others' achievements and special times :) I'm so grateful that I've been blessed with such an incredible boyfriend and accompanying family.
Enjoy your Saturday!

P.S. Are you a fan of Fresh Market? Do you prefer Trader Joe's? Whole Foods? A completely different awesome grocery haven I've never heard of?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

P. Finn: Longwood Legend

Every day, I'm proud to consider myself a Longwood Lancer and a member of the LU Family. Today, I'm especially feeling that pride, as I learned that Longwood's 25th president, Brigadier General Pat Finnegan, is resigning after only two years due to health concerns. I only experienced one of President Finnegan's two years, but his presence on campus and his eagerness to learn about and participate in LU traditions meant the world to my classmates and me. I didn't know that my Lancer pride could grow even more, but it swelled senior year due to P. Finn's enthusiasm, spirit, and support of all things Longwood.
Even before I was a Longwood student, I was reppin' the requisite LU hoodie:
I apologize profusely for the embarrassment that is this post-high school know-it-all...
Freshman year:
Sophomore year:
I seem to be lacking in photos from '08-'09, except for a few MySpace-esque ones...
Junior year:
Nearly all of my '09-'10 photos consist of football games and tailgates. Oops!
Senior year [WARNING -- photo overload]:
And finally, graduation, starring yours truly and the man of the hour (and Joan Finnegan, a.k.a. "J. Finn"):
P. Finn, the Longwood and Farmville communities will surely miss you. You have done wonderful things for the school and community, and the atmosphere surrounding both are forever changed due to your zest and passion.
Some of the greatest memories of my life I made at Longwood University. I could easily write pages about my memories and my incredible experiences, but this post has been long enough. Plus, among all these pictures, they've spoken more than just a thousand words.

Lastly, happy Founders' Day to my beautiful Alpha Delta Pi sisters! One hundred sixty-one years ago, six courageous and unique young women created the first sorority in the world. First, finest, forever, ladies ;)