Back in Boston: Same But Different

I think yesterday was the best first day of school I’ve ever had.

And I think it’s because I felt the least anxious I’ve ever felt on a first day of school. There were still feelings of uncertainty and awkwardness in terms of the flow of my day, but there were also feelings of calm and peace. Praise God for that!

Our first day of classes here at Boston University was just one of many things that have been the same but different as I’ve settled back into my beloved Boston.

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Moving in was the same in that the ‘rents and I stopped by Super 88 for lunch after all my stuff was unloaded…

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I was so ready for my fave lemongrass chicken after driving three hours + carrying heavy things up the stairs

…but it was different in that I was moving into an apartment with kitchen things!!

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Also different — I’m not living with my fabulous roommate from the past two years, Jordan 😦 But I am with Megan, and I couldn’t be more grateful!! Rachel also lives down the street, which is a nice bonus 🙂

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I did NOT eat all that cilantro and basil in one go

I have the same bedding since freshman year, but my living space is quite different. There’s…well, space! In reality, I just didn’t overpack (for the first time ever), and I also forgot essential things like an umbrella.

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I’ve been overloaded with the same excitement that I always have when I reunite with old friends and meet new ones, but I also have a different sense of peace that I didn’t have at the start of my sophomore year. I’m not as concerned about impressing other people, and I think I have lessons in humility (← GREAT read) to thank for that.

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lunch at Panera with a friend

I am so thrilled to have FitRec again, where I can do some of the same moves and grooves I used to do last year (I ♥︎ bodyweight/luggage workouts, but equipment is fun too). At the same time though, I’m approaching FitRec with a different perspective now. I feel like I can be more creative with my workouts, since I lived without a gym for the past eight months, and I go into the gym with a “less is more” attitude. Like, I don’t need to squat, use the rower, and the BOSU ball in one workout just because they’re all there.

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Also different — Rachel convinced me to run with her. She’s training for a 10K and she’s still on her easy runs, so I can tolerate that.

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run 3 min, walk 2 min x3 // “If you can’t do that then you need to go to the doctor.” – Rachel

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Found this at FitRec on Wednesday. Peep the second line. Think I could pass for age 4?

I’m tempted to keep my same flakiness when it comes to committing to plans. “Maybe I’ll go,” said Alison always. JUST COMMIT. That is something different I want to work on. Like sleeping over at Rachel’s place on my first night here, even though I was falling asleep in my dinner beforehand.

Cooking at college is different, since I’ve always had a regular dorm and a meal plan, but that just means I can eat the same things I do at home now! It is different that I have to come to the apartment all the time now though. I almost never hung out in my room the past two years in college.

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leftover pho from Super 88 with all the herbs

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you know it 🙂

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the only plates I brought were these Rainforest Cafe ones, and I don’t know why

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my aunt’s homemade banana bread + pb

I want to attack this semester with the same diligence that got me through school up to this point, but I also want to look at my days differently. I don’t want to be busy just because everyone else is or because I want to feel like superwoman. I do want to be productive and live each day with purpose.

That may involve going on prayerful walks between classes, rather than stressing about printing the 13488705 pages of notes that everyone else already printed for gross anatomy (people went HAM, holy smokes). Also different — not freaking about what other people are doing for class.

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It’s okay if I have five or four or even three things on my to-do list. I hope to do those things well, take time to fill myself (prayer, exercise, proper meals, sleep), and take time opening my mind and heart to what others might need during their day.

I’ve always thought that I was being selfish, or at least indulgent, if I didn’t fill up my days with work, but like many a wise (wo)man has stated, we can take care of others and do a better job if we take care of ourselves. Thanks, Lyss and Jen for that reminder as well ♥︎ This doesn’t mean that we need to avoid hard, long days like they’re the plague, but allowing ourselves mental, physical and spiritual space is necessary to tackle both the good and bad days.

Lord, how can I best serve you today?

So tell me:

What are your thoughts on living each day well?

What is one thing you cooked this week?

Do you ever get overwhelmed at the gym? Or with seeing new people?

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Everything You Would Want To Know About My Fitness Lately

Apparently being “on track” was a hot topic early this week!

I posted my thoughts on “getting back on track” after vacation on Monday. Paige posted “How to Bounce Back After Falling Off Track” on Monday. Colby posted “Staying On Track” on Sunday. (p.s. loved both of their posts! go check ’em out!)

Also hot this week? The TEMPERATURES.

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…for some people this is light cheese, but this is steamy for me.

These temperatures are making me feel perpetually sweaty. Not to mention how much my face sweats during my workouts, especially if I take them outdoors.

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I’m not a cat person, but this fella here is my spirit animal of the summer.

And that was the drawn-out transition to the real topic of today: how my fitness has been looking lately!

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I’ve been posting more fitness videos in the past few months, ever since I officially joined Fit University.

I could say, “A bunch of people have been asking me about my workouts,” but that would be a big, fat lie. I think only my aunt has actually asked, but I thought I’d give you all a detailed post about my fitness in case you were curious!


How often do I work out? 

Right now, 4-6 times per week. I try to move in some way or another every day, but complete rest days are definitely in there every week.

What is a typical week of workouts for me?

  • 2-4 days of HIIT workouts OR strength/conditioning
  • 2-4 active rest days/lower intensity workouts (yoga, pilates, skill work, etc.)
  • 1-2 full rest days

I rarely do solely strength days these days, mostly because I don’t have time, but I also don’t currently have access to a lot of good, heavy strength equipment (read: a squat rack). If I do strength, there’s always some cardio/circuit training involved.

For example, here are last week’s workouts:

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sorry for the weird formatting — these are all screenshots

How do I decide what to do?

My workout depends on:

  • how much time I have
  • what kind of equipment is available/if I get to the gym or not
  • what I’m feeling that day (the #1 factor)

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sometimes I feel like this before and/or after the gym

Sometimes I write my workouts the day before if I have an idea of what my body will want/what I would like to work on. More often than not though, I just go with the flow. I love to challenge myself in order to improve, but I don’t strictly hold myself to a certain workout/rep scheme/weight if I’m really not feelin’ it. I’ve really learned to embrace modification.

I also like to add a lot of compound movements (like burpees!) to my workouts. I don’t usually like to dedicate any more than one hour to a structured workout, so compound movements help me work a bunch of different muscle groups in a short period of time!

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rowing is the only cardio machine I like these days

Lastly, I draw inspiration from so many different people around the internet. My favorites:

I love to do their workouts, but for the most part, I’ve been writing my own workouts based on their formats. Or sometimes I just come up with something completely new.

P.S. Most of the time, I end with stretching.

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Do I have any fitness goals?

I’m mostly just aiming to be consistent and to continuously challenge myself, but if I had to point out specific goals (which I have not written down until now):

  • handstand walks
  • one arm handstand hold with my legs together (against a wall for now)
  • strict toes to bar
  • increase pull-up reps
  • explosiveness

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I need to get back to these stairs sometime soon too.

How do I get better at a skill/exercise?

Do it over and over and over again. Use progressions (!!!), do drills, and focus on good form, but just practice. Take good rest days and eat enough too!

How do I decide whether I want to work out or not?

I do not work out when:

  • I’m absolutely exhausted, to the point where walking is difficult and I know I need sleep.
  • I have other fun plans that I cannot pass up.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve taken a rest day.
  • I just don’t have time.

I might work out OR do an active rest day if:

  • I’m sore.
  • I’m really craving a stretch.
  • I just want to work on yoga, pilates, mobility or skills.
  • I’m sleepy.
  • Sweating a lot would be inconvenient.

I do work out (i.e. circuit/HIIT/strength) when none of the above apply.

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Why do I work out?

It makes me happy. (Don’t roll your eyes at me yet!)

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No, working out did not always make me happy in the past. Yes, workouts can totally suck while I’m doing them.

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me between every round of last Thursday’s workout

That’s why I’m such a proponent of working out depending on how you feel. It’s important to challenge yourself and push past comfort if you want to improve, this is true. But if you’re making yourself miserable day in and day out, you’re damaging your relationship with fitness (and probably damaging your body too).

I still get nervous before some of my workouts, because I know they’ll be difficult. I still think of giving up after the first round sometimes.

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It’s an awesome feeling to be 100% spent after completing a workout, but not every day!

The difference between now and the past (when I obsessively exercised in tandem with my disordered eating habits) is that I don’t lift a weight just because someone else lifted that weight. I appreciate the progress that I make, but realize that some days are better than others. I no longer work out with the pressure of burning a certain number of calories. I am no longer ashamed of modifying. I am no longer afraid to fail.

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throwback to when Sarah’s Cyc class absolutely kicked my ass

It took me a long time to be okay with those things, but time is a great healer. I thank God for the gift of movement and its healing/therapeutic/confidence-boosting powers. I guess that’s why physical therapy is so attractive to me!

How do I motivate myself to work out?

Before the workout: The more I listen to my body and allow myself to do the workout I’m craving, the more motivated I am. On harder workout days, it does take a little bit more mental effort, but knowing that there is an opportunity to move, improve, and take care of my body is enough to get me to at least start the workout.

During the workout: I used to think of badass athletes for motivation when I worked out, but ever since starting work at the rehab hospital, I actually think of the patients when I work out. In my head, I hear the therapists saying things like, “You said you couldn’t do one more step ten steps ago! One more, c’mon.” People who are fighting to walk inspire me to fight during my workouts, as cheeeeeeee-zeeeeee as that sounds.

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How do I know when to push through workouts/How do I push through?

It takes time to truly listen to your body. I think each individual has to find out how to do that through trial and error. I’ve learned some nuggets of wisdom from great fitness role models that have helped me though:

  • Complete a good warmup and see how you feel if you are on the fence about working out or not.
  • The beginning of the workout is always the hardest…
  • …BUT if your form is failing (on exercises that you can normally do well) and you feel miserable after the first round, you probably need to stop and take a day off OR modify. Working out can do more damage than good on some days.
  • Focus on one exercise at a time.
  • Form and safety are most important.
  • You don’t have to push to failure every time. I don’t even think you should push to failure every time.
  • BREATHE.
  • You can often do more than your mind initially thinks you can do. (And if your body can’t, then at least you tried!)

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So there ya have it! Everything about my fitness that you didn’t even ask for. 🙂 But seriously, I hope some of you found this helpful for your own fitness journeys. Please remember that these are all things that have worked for me personally through experience. Everyone is different! And although I do my best to learn from credible sources, I am not an expert in anything.


So tell me:

How do you like to move on a weekly basis?

Do you have any fitness goals?

How do you listen to your body when it comes to working out or not?

Don’t Let The Mirror Steal Your Joy

Real talk tiiiiiiime.

Last week, I completed a fun workout outside. I think it was this one:

5 rounds
  • run the cul-de-sac (~200m)
  • 60 sec squat jump with knee up twist (15#)
  • 60 sec v-ups
  • 60 sec down dog spiderman pushups
  • 60 sec reverse lunge with kick (30#)
  • 30 sec side plank right
  • 30 sec side plank left

It involved running, so you know I felt extra accomplished when I finished. I was hot and tired, but I also felt energized and strong.

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But then I looked in the mirror, and all of a sudden I didn’t feel as satisfied with my workout anymore. I honestly think I’d been watching too many Crossfit videos that weekend, so all I had been looking at were bodies like Stacie Tovar’s:

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I’m obviously not as fit as a Crossfit Games athlete (or almost any Crossfitter, for that matter), but when I looked in the mirror, I subconsciously compared my body to fitter, leaner bodies.

And that stole my joy.

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We’ve talked about the comparison trap 1000000 times on this blog, but it never seems to fade away (for me at least). Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that I am in a healthier place than ever, mentally. But it’s still important to realize that aspiring for thinness OR fitness can be dangerous (← great article from Spoon University).

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In other words, aspiring for another person’s body (seeing someone else’s body as #goals) is denying yourself the opportunity to realize the amazing things about your body and what you can do.

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If I let myself define my workouts by how I look afterwards, I will end up miserable, and working out will become merely a means to an “end”— to have a certain physique (which is actually not an end because physical aesthetic alone is never fulfilling IMHO).

This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t set goals, but I think there’s a difference between setting goals to be like someone else and setting goals to be the best version of yourself at this stage in your life.

Even with that perspective though, how can you tell what “your best” is? Am I not doing “my best” right now just because I’m not pushing myself to lift the heaviest weights possible, to run more, or to eat less sugar? Maybe. But I’m going to say that I am doing my best, because I have other priorities ahead of fitness (that is, fitness that goes above and beyond basic fitness for health) towards which I devote my time and energy as well.

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Since I’ve been working out when I feel like it and in a way that feels right for my body on each day, I’ve truly come to love working out. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I probably said that I loved working out, but I don’t think I truly did. I was still forcing myself to work out when I didn’t want to and to do workouts that were way too intense for what I needed that day.

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throwback to when I went to New York Sports Club in high school

This also doesn’t mean that you should never work out if just because you don’t feel like it. However, if there is one Pinterest quote I am willing to share over and over again, it’s this one:

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So cheers to moving and grooving…

…whether that’s running or walking…push-ups on your knees or clapping push-ups…air squats or heavy squats.

…whether you have a cut six-pack or a “muffin top” with those spandex capris…a perky butt or a cellulite-dimpled butt…biceps or no biceps (I happen to have the latter on all three of these)…

Don’t let the mirror steal your joy. Let exercise itself be your jam, not just “the body” (whatever that is to you).

So tell me:

Have you ever let the mirror steal your joy after a workout?

Other thoughts! 

Reinforcing Lessons About Exercise

There is currently a fly buzzing around the kitchen, which makes me equal parts mad and sad. Mad because it wants to get at my banana bread mug cake. Sad because flies are gross.

Alright, I have some foodie talk this morning before we get into the meat of the post.

First of all, I ate classic overnight oats in a sunflower seed butter jar (with 2+ tbsp left in the jar) for breakfast yesterday! It might be one of my all-time favorite breakfasts. I enjoyed it in my backyard since it was such a gorgeous and mild morning. Very few things could have made it more perfect.

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Secondly, I think pita bread needs to be on people’s grocery lists more often. That’s right, I’m asserting my opinion over your grocery list. *smiling purple devil emoji* For good reason though! Pita bread takes sandwiches to a new level. The fluffy, doughy factor is superb, AND you can fit more oddly shaped foods inside.

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inside the pita: avocado, pork souvlaki, mint yogurt sauce, tomatoes, and sriracha added later

Let me know if you buy some pita bread now. If you do, I’ll look into marketing and advertising as a side job.

Speaking of jobs, I want to talk about some lessons that my physical therapy internship has taught me/reinforced. There is very little doubt in my mind that physical therapy is what I want to continue pursuing as a career, and it’s thanks to my summer internship experience and what it has taught me!

Besides everything I’ve learned about anatomy, diseases, and therapy techniques, I’ve sort of re-learned a lot of lessons about taking care of our bodies through movement.

Health Lessons Reinforced Through My Physical Therapy Internship

  • Do not dismiss seemingly easy exercises. Go back to the basics and re-check your form/range of motion. Try an exercise that you’ve never done before, even if it looks easy. You’d be very surprised how well certain exercises can work those smaller (yet still very important!) muscles.

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like these…they kill those smaller glute muscles you never knew you had

  • Flexibility is essential. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to bend backwards until your head is through your legs, but flexibility is certainly important for your overall health and fitness. A full range of motion will help you in your fitness endeavors as well as in injury prevention.
    • P.S. Hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds. That is the minimum for lengthening to actually occur. You can hold it longer, but it won’t make any difference. 30 seconds is the magic number!
  • Almost every injury or anatomical issue can be aided by core strengthening. Planks, y’all. Your core protects your back, promotes good posture (which also protects your back), supports your legs, and helps with balance.

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speaking of form…

  • Form is everything. I’m sure you all knew this already, but this is just to reiterate. Don’t go for another rep or for the advanced variation of an exercise if your form is off. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Oh, unless…DON’T DO IT. I’m guilty of bad form, and I have indeed injured myself as a result.
    • Also, make sure to learn proper form before performing an exercise. I’m guilty of this as well, and guess what. I hurt myself because I didn’t know what I was doing.
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This is especially for people recovering from injury or getting back into an exercise routine after some time off. You might feel great when exercising, so it is easy to over-do it and agitate your body. You have to think about how your body might respond later. 
  • It’s all about progressThe looks on patients’ faces when they can walk without a limp or raise their arms completely overhead for the first time in months— it is the best part of the job. Exercise and movement is about YOUR progress. You will be filled with so much more joy if you just concern yourself with that rather than everyone else’s abilities.

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even if it’s literally one step at a time up a mountain

  • Be thankful for the ability to move. Exercise is nourishing for our bodies (in healthy amounts, of course). Whatever you do to move, keep safety first and rest when you need to. Exercise doesn’t have to be about getting big, getting skinny, or hitting PRs. It can just be about joy. It can just be about necessity for health. In any case, be thankful for movement and don’t disregard the “easy” stuff. Every form of exercise has its place.

With all that said, my PT internship has helped encourage me realize that there are so many ways I can move my body and improve its fitness without pushing it too hard. I can work on flexibility/mobility, balance, and strengthening those smaller muscles.

Kayyyy I’m done talking…typing…whatever. Hope you all have a grand ol’ day!

So tell me:

Do you like pita bread? What would you put inside?

What is one way you’ve progressed with your exercise/fitness recently? Resting more counts 🙂 

{Disclaimer: All information I learned is from two physical therapists with their doctorate in physical therapy. One is also a certified personal trainer.}

Taking Advantage of Silence

I spent about four hours total in the car yesterday.

I drove my uncle to the airport, and let’s just say that I was {safely!} able to eat my lunch while sitting in traffic on the way back. Driving to the airport = 1 hour. Driving from airport to internship = 2 hours.

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packed this avocado, double egg, sriracha sandwich to go + salad in a tupperware

Then I drove home at rush hour = 1 hour. While no one is a fan of traffic, I actually strangely enjoyed the alone time. Who gets 4 hours of alone time these days when you really can’t do anything but sit with your thoughts?

As much as I want to blast music the whole time when I’m in the car (especially when THIS Tori Kelly song just comes out!!!), I think it’s important to take advantage of silence. Time to listen to your thoughts in our busy society is sort of a privilege, don’t you think?

I like to talk out loud, even when I’m by myself (hence vlogging), so I’ve been into talking to God as if I’m having a conversation with a good friend. That may sound weird, I get it, but He lends a great ear 🙂 Doing so allows me to sort out any of my anxieties, joys, fears, excitements, questions, or frustrations with the driver who just cut me off.

If you have some time for silence, whether that be in the car or in the morning, make it your own.

  • Make a single mini goal for the day.
  • Reflect on a quote or inspirational story/blog post you read recently. How can you implement the lessons/ideas in your own life?
  • List the things for which you are grateful.
  • Choose one person you love, who you might be a little frustrated with at the time, and think about the qualities you love in him/her and the good memories you’ve had with that person.
  • Crank out some new ideas for your home, cooking, blog, etc.
  • Think about people who you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Pick one thing that you need to improve (for me— punctuality) and analyze ways in which you can go about improving.

…and the list goes on. It’s incredibly easy to default to noise, because silence can be boring and uncomfortable when our minds know that there are so many things we could be doing. Trust me, I still itch to turn on the radio. But consciously taking advantage of silence can make a positive difference in your day. It certainly has for me!

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Other notes for the day:

The fish bone ordeal is somewhat under control, I think. My eustachian tube is definitely still feeling wonky and like there’s something around that area, but nothing hurts much at all anymore. I don’t think there’s a little fish bone hangin’ out either. I’m just going to wait it out and see if the discomfort disappears.

Speaking of fish, I made tuna cakes last night, which very much embodied the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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tuna “cakes”…

These were tasty though!

Ingredients: Canned tuna, onions, garlic, a little bit of leftover brown rice, cilantro, paprika, cumin, mustard, black pepper, Greek yogurt, lime juice and zest, honey, and a couple eggs.

Directions and measurements: Throw some amount of everything into a bowl. Form into patties and pan fry. Hope for the best.

The first few were more like tuna hashes, but the last batches turned out a little prettier.

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As pretty as tuna cakes can get, that is.

And lastly, I ate a good ol’ favorite last night!

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Dried figs and Greek yogurt! If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember how often I used to eat this pair. Like, obsessively.

Alrighty, it is past my bedtime as I type this. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! Embrace the silence.

So tell me:

If you have a long commute, how do you fill the time?

What do you do/would you do with a little bit of silence in your day?

What did you eat for dinner last night?