Who Do You Run For?

She was so happy....just hours before all hell broke lose. Boo.
She was so happy….just hours before all hell broke lose. Boo.

Forgive the rushed review and many typos ahead. I am writing this from the living room floor after a looonnggg day and a half of baby stomach flu, Husband stomach flu and a washer that decided to break and flood the laundry room floor while in the middle of cleaning puked on blankets. PLEASE DO NOT LET ME BE NEXT. 

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Do you run or workout in any form? Who are you doing that hard work for? Yourself? Your spouse? Your kids? A friend? All of the above? I think the last would be my answer. Mostly, I run/workout for my health and sanity, which is definitely good for every one. However, on Saturday, I ran for those who have been affected by lung cancer… and myself, my baby, my Husband, my Aunt and my friends (my workout team).

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Saturday, we ran the Free to Breath 5k in Nashville to raise money for lung cancer. I ran in honor of my Uncle John, who passed away from lunch cancer when I was in high school, and 2 survivors, my cousin and my friend.

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We had a new member to our racing team this time too. Our Aunt Amy ran her very first 5k with us and she was incredible! I know how hard it is to force yourself to get up and run and train, so I am always so impressed when anyone starts a new workout plan. Aunt Amy began “couch to 5k” training a couple of months ago and her hard work is inspiring. I hope she signs up to run with us next month!

Look who crossed the finish line for the first time!
Look who crossed the finish line for the first time!

This the first annual Free to Breathe 5k to be held in Nashville. Overall, they did a good job. The volunteers were some of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders and kept us motivated throughout the entire course. There was a DJ that managed to get the entire crowd doing line dances and hip-hop moves before 9am, and the treats and coffee they provided were great. They could, however, stand to improve their organizational skills and may want to consider timing the race and offering awards to the top finishers next time.

Post-race dance party!
Post-race dance party!

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a beautiful run through Shelby Bottoms and we will consider doing this race again next time around.

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Cheers!

Adios Winter!

A snowy driveway
A snowy driveway

Finally. It is FINALLY looking like winter is over and spring is arriving. I cannot tell you how much I dreaded this winter. Last winter was the longest coldest most depressing (literally) winter of my life. I dreaded this winter so much that I had a list in order to prepare myself for the long cold and dark months. I needed strategies to keep myself from falling down that dark hole I was in last year. (Although not being in the hospital or sick at home, was already a huge improvement.)

Shake it off, Belle
Shake it off, Belle

I planned to work out six days a week,  organize parties and get-togethers, go on many cold walks, indulge in extra Starbucks and I even booked our trip to the UK specifically so I had something exciting to look forward to and get me through the worst part of the year.

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However, winter this year wasn’t so bad. Maybe, it was the exaggerated version of winter I had built in my head or the fact that I stuck to my plan, but it didn’t suck. We had a very busy winter of traveling, partying, playdates, 5k’s and a lot more. The best part of this winter is that we had snow, real snow. Not that stick-to-the-grass-for-a-couple-of-hours crap we had the last couple of years, but real fluffy, able-to-build-snowmen, kind of snow.

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In fact, we got snow here, in New York and in Scotland. Apparently, the last couple of weeks of winter felt the need to make up for missed snow. While it was not as fun traveling, it was enjoyable at home. I even got to take a walk around the house during Luna’s nap one day. (Don’t worry, Husband was home.)

snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
Central Park
Central Park
our neighborhood
our neighborhood

 

We also had ice, and a lot of it. Ice storms aren’t the best to play in, but there is something exciting about stalking up on groceries and hibernating in your house for a couple of days. I love an excuse to stay in my PJ’s and watch too much TV.

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the backyard
the backyard

The last few days have been warm and sunny. Yellow daffodils and green grass are sprouting all over the place. It’s raining. The animals are getting frisky, and while my allergies are starting to flare, I am so so so excited for warm weather!

Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.
Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.

Here’s to spring cleaning, afternoon walks, iced coffees, egg hunts, bright colors, sandals, sunglasses and fresh berries!

Cheers!

Running for a Cause

small things

I may have mentioned one or twenty times that we (“team workout buddies!”), have been running 5k’s every month in order to not only mix up our workouts, but to stay motivated when it comes to running. Well, we decided to skip the month of March because we have all just been too busy to even think about going for a run, plus winter just won’t go away. However, while searching for a race to do in April, I came across the “Free to Breath” 5k happening in Nashville on March 21st.

The Free to Breathe is a non-profit raising funds for lung cancer research. This hits close to home for me. I lost an Uncle to lung cancer when I was 17. I have a cousin who is a lung cancer survivor, and a friend who is also a survivor. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks, and I want to do my part help fund research in order to find a cure. Sooo, looks like we are doing a race this month!

Our team of 5 will run in honor of our loved ones next weekend and there are a couple of ways that you can help support us and our cause, if you so choose.

  • Join our team! If you are in the area, then sign up here, join our team and run the 5k with us! Go Team Workout Buddies! (Yeah, I know, we need a better name… suggestions?)
  • You can click here and make a donation with just a click of the mouse. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

act of kindness

It’s been raining all week, so hopefully the sun comes out soon and I can squeeze in some runs before the race. Either way, I’ll cross the finish line feeling proud and hopeful that I made a difference.

Thanks so much for all your support!

Cheers!

We’ve Got Magic to Do… Just for You

I am one lucky blogger. Last night, I got to review Pippin at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. I miss seeing and reviewing shows in New York so much, but I am so grateful that TPAC offers opportunities to see so many amazing musicals throughout the year. Thanks to them, I get a little taste of Broadway about once a month, and Pippin was the show of choice this month.

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I actually saw Pippin in New York about a year and a half ago, when Husband and I took a little NY vacation. To be honest, I liked the show, but I didn’t love it. I don’t know if we were just too tired or too pregnant, but I remember feeling confused and unhappy with the ending. Last night, I arrived with small expectations and few memories of the show. Then, it completely blew me and my expectations away.

Pippin is fantastic.

It is a combo of cirque du soleil, magic, Fosse dance moves, scantily clad performers, satire, burlesque, comedy, murder and love. Could you squeeze anything else into a 2.5 hour show? It is entertaining from beginning to end, and while it is sometimes hard to decipher exactly where and when the story is taking place, it doesn’t really matter. It’s Pippin’s journey to find meaning in his life and the unbelievable talent and stage presence of the “leading player”. And, yes that’s the name in the playbill, for that character has no actual given name.

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The Leading Player is being played by Sasha Allen (from season 4 of The Voice), and she is phenomenal. When she is on stage you cannot help, but watch every move she makes. She is flawless and has a powerful voice. Another character who took my breath away is Berthe, Pippin’s Grandmother, played by Priscilla Lopez. She is 67 sings, dances and performs aerial stunts better than any 30-year old I know. I aim to be her when I grow up.

Terrence Mann, left, foreground, and Patina Miller in the musical "Pippin."

The show ends with a meaningful lesson, as well as an uncomfortable idea. True happiness may be found in the most simple joys of life, but time and time again, each generation will question whether their life had any meaning at all.

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Pippin will be at TPAC until March 15th. Get your tickets here, and check out dates in other cities here.

Cheers

Luna and the Wolf

Middle Tennessee has become one big ice cube today. Our driveway has become a skating rink in the little bit of snow that covered the grass is now thick ice. Good thing we had a super busy weekend and I don’t mind being stuck in the house too much. Yesterday, I told you about the Hot Chocolate Run we ran early Valentin’s morning, but the day wasn’t over then. That afternoon. Luna’s Great Grandmother took me and Luna to see the Nashville Ballet perform Peter and the Wolf.  (Her first ballet!)

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The ballet was at TPAC, our favorite place in Nashville, and the Polk theater was jam packed with kids of all ages. Luna was definitely one of the youngest (and cutest) little future ballerinas in attendance. Before the show started she spent every moment climbing up and down the stairs and trying desperately to roam the aisles. I was dreading the start of the show because I just knew Luna would be too wiggly and restless to sit still. However, when the lights dimmed and the story began, my little wiggle worm leaned back into my chest and focused her attention directly to the stage.

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The ballet was adorable. It was all geared towards the kids. The props and costumes were super colorful, the music was not too loud or complicated, the dancing was entertaining and graceful and, best of all, it was educational. Luna stared at the dancers for a good 35 minutes before getting bored. I was well prepared though, I quickly handed her some baby crackers and she was content for the next ten minutes, which is when the show ended.

ballet

Afterwards they had a special activity for the kids to stay in chat with the dancers, but Luna is a too young to enjoy that. We all had a great time at the ballet. It’s been YEARS since I’ve seen Peter and the Wolf  and I’d completely forgotten how great it is. Hopefully, Luna will continue to enjoy it and I’ll get to take her many more times as she grows up!

Cheers!

My Favorite 5k Yet

Our Valentine’s Day began bright and early, well dark and early. I was up at 4:30 am, and for once, it wasn’t Luna’s fault. We had to get up, get ready, drop-off baby at the Grandparents and head downtown for the Hot Chocolate Run!!! Who wouldn’t want to do a run with that title?

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It was the most organized and well put together race. It all began at the Expo where we easily picked up our race packets and hoodies. Everyone was so nice and helpful. They allowed us to try on the hoodies and even exchange them for a different size if it was needed. Everything was neatly stacked, color coded and well-stocked. It is one of the few races where I actually got the size I requested. They also handed out hot chocolate and chocolate dipped marshmallows, not a bad way to kick off the even.

The Hot Chocolate Run is by far the biggest race we’ve ever done. Over 9,000 people signed up, and when we parked downtown at 6am, the only people we saw walking the streets were other runners. It was below freezing, but everyone seemed happy and excited at the prospect of running towards a mug of hot chocolate. We were running a little late (surprise, surprise), and had to park about a mile from the Start line, so by the time we arrived and joined our corral the race started.

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Dressed in matching Valentine accessories, we ran around Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and through the streets downtown. Since so many people were there, it made running a lot more fun and the race went by much faster. There were tons of excited volunteers cheering us on as we ran, photographers, signs, and video cameras. As we approached the finished line the race announcer actually said our names over the speakers…Here comes Hilarie! Bella is approaching the finish line.. It was all very motivating. At least it must have been because we finished the race with an 8.10 pace and we haven’t run in weeks. I was very happy with that time.

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After we caught our breath we picked up our mug full of hot chocolate, fondue and treats to dip in our fondue… all of which were delicious and so needed. We were freezing when we finished! The little amount we sweated chilled us to the bone once we stopped moving. We stuck around to check out the after party, but soon enough we were too cold and left for our traditional breakfast, cupcake and Starbucks. It was the perfect way to start our day of love.

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Thanks, Husband for running with me, even though I know you are faster, hate running and don’t actually enjoy us forcing everyone to wear matching outfits. I love you the most. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers!

These Teens Will Never be the Same

Two days ago, I was invited to cover one of the coolest events I’ve ever witnessed. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center along with Cydi Laupers’s True Colors hosted a behind the scenes day for Nashville’s Oasis Center. It was so inspiring and touching to watch this event, the kids and the professionals who made it happen, but before I tell you all the amazing details, I should give you some quick cliff-notes on the organizations involved so you truly understand the impact of the day.

true colors

True Colors is the organization that put this whole shindig together. This organization was founded by THE Cyndi Lauper, and its mission is “to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, creating a world in which young people can be their true selves”. I chatted with their Community Organizer Intern, Cassie, and learned that this is all put together by their “Raise You Up” program, which involves Kinky Boots with a community organization. She also informed me that 40% of homeless youth is from the LGBT community (mostly due to family rejection), which is clearly unacceptable and why True Colors is so dedicated to helping these kids.

oasis

Then, there is the heart of this whole operation, the Oasis Center. This local organization is HUGE. It serves about 4,000 local youths a year, and it’s mission is to “provide safety and support to  the most vulnerable and disconnected youth…it seeks to provide resources that allow them to transform their situations and prepare them for productive fulfilling lives”. That’s perhaps the most important mission ever, to encourage the future, our youth. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Pam, the program director, who taught me lots about the Oasis Center. Their were a limited number of teens/ youth that could attend this special event, so Oasis brought a group of LGBT kids as well as some that have a strong interest in theater. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the kids who were on the list to go, showed up, on time and ready to learn. That’s some kind of miracle, because as all us teachers know, students are never ever all present, on time and ready to learn. These particular kids knew they were in for something special.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I entered the main lobby of the theater yesterday. I did not know the age of the kids, how they would behave, how interesting the tour would, or would not, be and very little about either organization. I met up with the group of teenagers right before they entered the largest theater to watch the cast of Kinky Boots rehearse. Oh my, the look on their faces as the cast began singing and dancing was priceless. That one moment was worth my drive to TPAC.

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There was one boy in particular, a talented young dancer, who was so lit up when the dancing began. You could see the wheels turning as he watched the insane choreography being rehearsed on stage. Like, he all of a sudden realized, “Oh, I can do this, this could be my future.” As the number ended, the small group of teens erupted in applause, even though they were told not to make a peep. They couldn’t help themselves, and the cast certainly didn’t mind the appreciation.

We were all then taken backstage for a little behind the scenes tour. The kids got to see what a dressing room looks like, where costumes are kept, how the cast enters and exits and lots of other cool ins and outs of the backstage world. I think everyone’s favorite part was seeing the thigh-high high-heeled sparkling boots in everyone’s dressing room.

We ended in a conference room, where the kids had the opportunity to listen, learn and ask questions to part of the Kinky Boots crew and several staff members from TPAC. You may think this sounds boring, but I promise you it was far from it! I learned so much myself that I’m ready to put in my application! These teens got to learn about the coolest jobs in the theater business that most of us either don’t think about, or didn’t even know existed. The staff told them their background (some theater, some not), their experience (EVERYONE lived in NYC at one point or another), how they got their job (work hard! do what you love! learn! be scrappy!) and some funny personal experiences (one involving a Barney suit). The, they were able to ask whatever questions they wanted! Once again, you could see their eyes light up, the wheels turning and the excitement, excitement about their own dreams and ambitions.

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I was so impressed with these young people. They were genuinely interested in everything they were being presented. They were polite, respectful, enthusiastic and asked some really great questions. (My favorite was, what was the best/worst play you ever worked?) This wasn’t even the end of the day. Yes, there was more.

Once the speakers finished, the kids got to eat dinner (pizza and soda) before going to see the entire musical themselves! THEN, after the show, they got to stay for a Q&A with the cast! Who gets an opportunity like this? I grew up in a nice area, went to great schools and never got to do anything this cool. Teenage Hilarie is super envious of them. These at-risk teens got an experience of a life-time. They were exposed to talents, jobs, art, culture and career options that they otherwise would have likely never known existed. That is amazing.

HUGE thank you to the True Colors Fund for selecting Nashville as your second city to participate in this program! Also, if any of you are interested in donating, volunteering or somehow getting involved with the Oasis Center please visit this link. TPAC, as always, you rock.

Cheers!