3 Reasons Tourists Live Better in Your City…Than You Do

Think about the last time you traveled. It could’ve been a quick weekend road trip. Or, perhaps it was a 15-hour flight across the pond.

And, when you were in the different city or country of your choosing, you probably asked for recommendations on where to eat and what sites to see. Hell, maybe you even rocked a fanny pack. Sometimes functionality trumps fashion. No?

Essentially, you were your worst nightmare: a certifiable, couldn’t-blend-in-with-the-locals-if-you-tried tourist.

You know, those people who generate a bad rap with their incessant pestering of the locals and bold, yet admirable, attempts at taking a selfie with any scene or object that’s remotely worth capturing? (And, let’s be serious, if you look good — and we all know anyone can look good with the right filter — it’s worth photographing and promptly posting to the social media site of your choosing. #TeamLoFi)

Tonight, I had the pleasure of jogging around Cincinnati with a German native — technically a Cincinnati tourist — and it was awesome.

1. For starters, it was refreshing. I’ve never seen someone so enthralled with Cincinnati — our bridges, slang terms, our pizza. Hell, she even thought our Hofbrauhaus was cool. She photographed scenery and objects I’ve seen hundreds, probably thousands of times (and simply never take a few moments to appreciate). Suddenly, she had me thinking, yeah, Cincinnati is pretty awesome.

2. They network like it’s their job, without the goal of actually getting a job. (My new German friend already has one — one she loves.) I think this girl has more friends in Cincinnati than I do — and I live here. She introduces herself to strangers. She takes interest in her co-workers and makes a genuine effort to get to know them outside of the office.

3. Tourists try new things. When you’re in a new place, especially for leisure, you typically try to jam-pack every site, eatery, experience — you name it — into your time frame, however brief it may be. This girl does that. She buys Groupons for art classes. When someone invites her to do something, she does it. She doesn’t make excuses. She’s not too “busy” with work. (She’s working here for an extended period of time.) She walks. She walks a lot, exploring. She actually gets out and experiences things, creating memories, instead of living vicariously through her friends online.

Needless to say, I took a few notes. Tonight served as a subtle reminder that living like a tourist in your own city is something we should all try.

4 Ways to Break out of a Job Rut

Disclaimer: This post contains way too many dashes for my liking. My apologies in advance.

Work – if you’re like millions of Americans (or worldians – just trying to be inclusive here), you spend, roughly, 40 hours a week doing it.

Some people are fortunate to feel passionate about their jobs – so passionate, in fact, that their unbridled zeal may compromise their sleep. I mean, how can one sleep when his or her brain is tugging at he or she with project ideas, unanswered emails or the ever-so-cliche next steps? Each day is filled with opportunities.

For others, however, their job simply pays the bills.

While certainly every minute of every work day isn’t engaging and stimulating, it’s important to feel fulfilled – that’s when you’re the most valuable asset to your organization.

If you fall into the former camp, congrats! You’re doing something right. If you fall into the latter camp, it might help to look at your job with a fresh perspective.

1. Call Brainstorming Sessions

If you feel like you’re stuck, in terms of a project you’re struggling to creatively tackle or you find yourself getting too caught up in mundane – though, necessary – day-to-day tasks, it can help if you tap into you’re other teammates. Even if you spend just 20 minutes tossing ideas around, throwing one other head into the mix can make a world of difference. It can open your eyes to a realm of new ways to approach a problem – or, it can be the foundation for an innovative, exciting project that supports your company’s strategic goals.

2. Watch a Ted Talk

Whether you have three minutes or 23 minutes, losing yourself in a TED Talk can be worthwhile when you’re in a rut. They don’t let just anyone present a TED Talk, you know. These people are engaging and creative – and they’re usually part of a network filled with people just as intellectually stimulating.

The topics of these talks run the gamut so click one that sparks your interest and let yourself be inspired.

3. Find a Mentor

Subscribe to, follow or befriend mentors – preferably in real life – that possess qualities you want or have goals that align with yours. I want to cure cancer one day. Am I a hematologist? Have I been to medical school? The answer is no to both of the aforementioned questions. Do I get queasy at the site of blood? Absolutely.

So, how in the hell would I cure cancer? That’s a great question. I want to educate people on different types of cancers and ways to prevent them. I also want to raise money for cancer research. Fortunately, these are all feasible contributions I’m very capable of making. I follow medical experts and CEOs who have similar mindsets on twitter. I read their blogs. They have knowledge and I want to soak it up. Take notes from the people who are doing what you want to do – and not to mention, doing it well – and apply their work ethic, creativity, etc… to your current job, or pave the way for your next move.

4. Get Involved in Something Outside of Work

When people feel burned out from their careers, it’s usually because they’re spending an inordinate amount of time doing something they simply no longer care about. That’s OK. It happens. Or, sometimes these people, like many, may not have much of a work-life balance.

Whether it’s joining a book club, volunteering or simply being a die-hard fan for your favorite sports team, just find a something you’re passionate about and dedicate yourself to it. You aren’t always going to feel childlike enthusiasm toward your job so it’s important to give your mind a vacation from the occasional monotony and do something you know will make you feel refreshed, satisfied and ready for whatever the next day holds.

The Healing Power of Tears

Last month my family did, arguably, one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We put our 11-year-old dog, Abby, down.

Abby

After two unsuccessful ACL surgeries, she could barely walk, and a recent diagnosis of oral cancer made it difficult for her to even eat her food. Unfortunately, it was her time.

When my dad informed my sister and I, back in April, that Abby didn’t have much longer, my natural reaction was pretty typical. I cried. The next several weeks were rough.

I cried a lot.

I cried at work. I cried while driving (In my defense, Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me” was the trigger. The instrumental in the beginning? Beautiful.). I cried at my cousin’s dance recital. I cried on a run. I cried during dinner with my best friend. I was essentially an emotional basket case. I’d be lying if I didn’t sheepishly admit to feeling kind of pathetic about my ongoing waterworks display.

I mean, she was just a dog, right? Wrong. Seriously, ask my parents. This is how they’d rank their favorite children: Abby, followed (not closely) by either my brother, sister or I, with the order depending on the time or day.

I never understood the emotional turmoil the loss of a pet could cause until it was my own.

And, I must say, all that crying made me learn something: Tears truly have a healing property, unlike any other.

When you cry, you feel vulnerable, relieved, and usually, a sense of closure.

So now, I’m ordering – yes, ordering – you to do something strange and seemingly counter-intuitive next time you’re feeling sad, stressed or overwhelmed. I’m ordering you to “cry it out” like a champ. Don’t be bashful about it, either. You can cry any time, any place. I can’t guarantee that you won’t look like a fool when you’re balling your eyes out on the stair-master at the gym, but I can guarantee that you will feel a-helluva-lot better afterward.

If you’re aren’t good at crying on command, don’t worry, I have unsolicited advice on this topic. If I need a good cry, these are my go-tos:

  • Pop in a movie. No, it doesn’t need to be The Notebook, A Walk to Remember or My Girl; however, yes, those usually get the job done. It can be something slightly atypical like Father of the Bride or Rudy (when Rudy finally gets accepted into Notre Dame, I choke up every time. Don’t act like you don’t, too.). Pick your poison.
  • Pair said movie with wine. (No explanation needed).
  • Listen to a sad song (think Butterfly Kisses or Christmas Shoes).
  • Let all of your emotions bottle up, until you inevitably explode. (This probably isn’t healthy, but often times, it works.)
  • Chop onions. (This is a last resort.)

What are you’re go-tos when you need a good cry?

The Best State of Mind

Happiness – it’s a state of mind I post about quite often.

But, it’s critical to overall health. While it’s not possible to be happy all day, every day, it is possible to actively pursue happiness. Plus, it’s infectious – and it’s probably the best thing to be infected with. No?

At the risk of going all Dr. Phil on you, here are a few of my suggestions for being happy.

  1. Count your blessings. Yes, literally. Count them in your head. Jot them in a journal. Email them. Keep an ongoing list. “Write” one thing you are thankful for each day. Look at your collection of blessings when you’re feeling sad.
  2. Choose who you spend your time with wisely. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If you want to be pessimistic and sad 24-7, then hang out with a Debbie Downer. If you want to rule the world one day, hang out with people who are ambitious and hardworking. Just don’t hang out with Amanda Bynes. Seriously. Don’t.
  3. Set goals – both small and lofty. Set measurable, realistic goals that are a bit easier to achieve – I call these “confidence boosters” – and then, set “shoot for the stars” goals. Just don’t get complacent. It’s a dangerous state of mind.
  4. Listen to your favorite jams. Download some new tunes, bring Now 5 (classic) out of the storage closet, or YouTube some pump-up songs if you’re too cheap to dole out $1.25 on iTunes (I usually fall into the last category). Then, proceed to listen to said song at a volume that’s slightly less than “deafening,” and either wave your limbs recklessly, or sing at the top of your lungs. If you’re taking the “limb flailing” route and you’re operating a vehicle, make sure said vehicle is either parked, or set your cruise control. Safety first, people. Safety first.
  5. Envision yourself being successful. Believe in yourself. If you’re having trouble garnering confidence, then write out an action plan.
  6. Take a break. It’s okay to be selfish and take an hour or so each day for yourself. And, if this hour involves vegging out on the couch watching a re-run of Full House, that’s okay. <– Nope. Never done that.
  7. Avoid being jealous. Jealousy is kind of like leather pants – few people wear it well (the one exception is uncle Jesse from Full House). Be happy for others. Your time will come, and when it does, they will be happy for you, too.

Question: How do you get happy?

Play-by-Play of Half-Marathon Thoughts

It’s been a while since my last post. I just haven’t really felt motivated to write or creatively inclined, which, in my case, typically leads to lackluster content.

Fortunately (?), today my sister and I ran in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half-Marathon, which means I finally have some semi-interesting material to work with (please ignore the fact that I ended a sentence with a preposition). And, since my blog originally centered around running/marathon training, finally updating today just makes sense.

On that note, I’ve decided to write up a play-by-play of my sister and I’s combined thought process before and during our run.

6:20 a.m. - My mom graciously drops Kels and I off downtown, about a block away from Paul Brown Stadium, which is very close to the starting line. The race starts in 10 minutes. We’re very, very punctual.

6:25 a.m. - We enter a huge mass of people who are packed like sardines between the stadium and the Cincinnati Bengal’s practice field.

6:27 a.m. - I turn to a random lady standing next to my sister and ask, “Are we in the starting line corral?” She reassures me that we are. Phew! (This probably makes me sound like a moron, but, in my defense…yeah, I’m not gonna bother trying to defend that.)

6:30 a.m. - The gun sounds.

6:49 a.m. - Kels and I cross the starting line.

7:10 a.m. - Hmmm. Maybe the second “sleep-inducing” beer I drank last night at 10:30 p.m. wasn’t the greatest idea.

7:20 a.m. - Kels spies a “hottie” and suggests we follow him. Shortly after, she realized she knew who he was and that he’s four years younger than she. Awkwaaaaard.

7:40 a.m. - We see our mom in the crowd. She doesn’t see us. We start yelling “mom!! MOM!!”

7:41 a.m. - I have an epiphany and realize there are many “moms” in the crowd. I yell her first name and we catch her attention. Success!

7:45 a.m. - We see a man wearing, in my opinion, possibly the most interesting costume ever:

toothbrush

I can only assume he’s a dentist.

7:47 a.m. - I text the photo to an ongoing message chain my family established in mid-February. (I was running fast. Clearly.)

7:49 a.m. - The course goes from “kind of” hilly to “almost completely vertical.” I immediately YouTube Taylor Swift’s “22” and kick myself for not having it on my playlist in the first place.

7:53 a.m. – We’re still running up that d%&* hill. We both drop a few choice words that aren’t exactly PG. Sorry mom.

8:20 a.m. - We spot our uncle Jerry, who we affectionately call “uncle Buck”, in the crowd. He tells us there is Tito’s at the finish line. This gave us the extra push we needed. You can judge us. Just don’t ask.

8:30 a.m. - I genuinely hope no one snaps a photograph of me. I don’t know what I look like – and I’d rather keep it that way.

8:41 a.m. - A large van along the course starts blaring Rihanna’s “We Found Love”. Kels squeals with excitement. On a related note, that was, hands-down, the most enthusiasm I witnessed from her during the entire 13.1 miles.

8:53 a.m. - We’re in the home stretch. Thank God.

8:54 a.m. - I wonder, Why isn’t the finish line getting any closer?

8:55 a.m. - Kels wonders, Why isn’t the finish line getting any closer? Are we on a treadmill? Am I dreaming nightmar’ing? Is this what hell is like? Must.start.praying.the.Rosary.

8:56 a.m. - I suggest we sprint the last tenth of a mile.

8:57 a.m. - I think I’m sprinting. This is likely what I looked like:

phoebe-buffay-o

(only much, much slower)

8:58 a.m. - We cross the finish line. Halle-freaking-lu-jah.

9:03 a.m. - We collect food from every single vendor.

9:04 a.m. - We get our photo taken with a Flying Pig backdrop. Unfortunately, during the photo, we are holding (double-fisting) every single food item we collected from every single vendor.

9:10 a.m. - We’re thankful that we’re finished and chalk the morning up as a win.

Have you run a race lately? Did you experience a similar roller coaster of emotions?

Come On Get Happy

First off, I want to give a shout-out to a very loyal reader of Sarah’s Doodles: Joanne. Joanne, thank you so much for reading! I’m not sure how much my parents are paying you, but I can’t imagine that it’s much. =]

Think Happy, Tweet Happy?
A few weeks ago I read an article referencing a study conducted by the University of Vermont. This study, which analyzed million of geotagged tweets, determined that twitter users express happiness more often when they travel further away from home.

While the study is obviously not 100 percent accurate, with a few exceptions, most people would probably agree that results were hardly Earth-shattering.

Hiking up mountains along the West coast as you injest breath-taking scenery – and non-polluted air? Yep, your happy-o-meter is likely to rise. Lounging on a sun-soaked beach, sipping margaritas, hundreds of miles from home? If you’re not grinning ear-to-ear, then you’re probably related to the grinch – or your luagge got lost on the flight.

Travel is often synonymous with rest and rehabilitation, but unfortunately, vacation days are limited and it’s just not realistic to jet set every other week. However, there are a few other ways to boost your happiness that are less expensive and more convenient.

#1: Re-arrange. Whether it’s re-arranging your bedroom, your office, or your schedule, give it a try for a small-scale pick-me-up. It could create just enough “newness” to give you the stimulant you need. It could be as simple as hanging a photograph, or as extensive as re-decorating a room entirely.

#2: Get “loco”…locally. Your city has tons of restaurants, parks and unique entertainment venues you’ve never tried…you just don’t know it yet. Call your friends, do a simple Google search or eavesdrop next time you’re waiting in line for (decaf) coffee. R&R isn’t always a plane ride away, it’s usually right next door.

#3: Get more face time with your friends. In my not-so-humble opinion, friends are supposed to make you happy. It’s their job. If they aren’t doing that, your parents obviously aren’t paying them enough. First, request negotiate a reasonable raise with your parental unit. Then, after your parental unit enacts said raise, do something, for lack of a better word, “fun” with your friends. Go to a movie, grab dinner at a restaurant with an enjoyable ambiance, or try a paint bar.

#4: Go on a mini trip. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t need to be far. It just needs to be with good company. If that good company if yourself, then so be it. LivingSocial and Groupon often promote deals for inexpensive weekend get-aways. Visit friends or family you haven’t seen in a while. They might even let you crash for free!

What is your favorite way to get happy?

 

8 Ways to Make Your Life Easier

Like most people, I’m always on on the hunt for any opportunity to press the easy button. If something will cut out a car ride, save me a few dollars, or allow me to sleep in for 10 extra minutes, consider me sold. If it will “earn” me a free meal, sign me up.

Now, while, I’m still waiting for someone to invent teleportation, and I’m not rich enough to hire a personal shopper, I did manage to scrounge up a few ways to make your life, arguably, a little easier.

1. The mobile deposit app. This app allows users to deposit checks from virtually any location simply by photographing the front and back of an endorsed check. This, my friends, is the definition of a game changer. I can’t believe it took me almost two years to discover that my bank offers this service.

2. Knowing target’s mark-down schedule. As if I needed another reason to enter Target and impulse purchase approximately 382 items I don’t need, a little Pinterest stalking led me to learn that Target has a mark-down schedule:

  • MONDAY: Kids’ clothing, stationery (office supplies, gift wrap), and electronics.
  • TUESDAY: Women’s clothing and domestics
  • WEDNESDAY: Mens’ clothing, toys, health and beauty
  • THURSDAY: Lingerie, shoes, housewares
  • FRIDAY: cosmetics

*If the price ends in “8,” it will be marked down again. If it ends in a “4,” it’s the lowest it will be. (via Jacqueline Burgess)

3. Using clothing hangers as shoe hangers.

clothing hangers2(source)

4. Following your favorite brands on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribing to their e-newsletters. The benefit? It’s the best way to get the scoop on upcoming deals, promotions and prizes. I’ve gotten free burritos, free (decaf) coffee, and ice cream, thanks to my social media stalking skills.

5. Freezing bananas. Did you know bananas can help fight depression and anemia, lower blood pressure, prevent ulcers, and soothe heartburn? Yeah, me neither – until about five minutes ago. Instead of letting your bananas perish, stick ‘em in the freezer and pull them out the next time you want banana bread or a smoothie.

5. This.

lifehack(source)

6. Keeping non-perishable emergency snacks in your purse or your office. Aim for snacks containing a relatively high amount of protein (trail mix, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanut butter crackers and nut butter).

7. Throwing spare exercise apparel or accessories in your car – if you’re in to that sort of thing. Items may include: gym shoes, a sports bra, socks, ear buds, a water bottle, iPod carrying case, a t-shirt and shorts.

8. Photographing where you parked. I always do this. But, I’m a nerd. I lose my car almost every single time I park in a garage. Let’s just say, I’m incredibly thankful for the panic button. For the past year or so, I’ve been photographing signs near my parking location, as well as any nearby landmarks, and it’s helped minimize anxiety and “panic” attacks immensely.

What would you add to the list? Enlighten me!