Whole Foods: Where Shopping Really IS a Pleasure

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Today was the grand opening of Whole Foods Market in Tallahassee. I met up with my friend Larry (after my morning run – which in hindsight was good after all the free carb samples ;)) in the parking lot across the street around 8:30. We joined the line that wrapped throughout the parking lot, for the opening at 9am. It was a chilly 63 degrees this morning and a hazy, cloudy sky made it look like it was about 7am instead of 9, but it felt wonderful to get a break from the humidity. We mingled with the woman standing in front of us (and her adorable son playing with a plastic ambulance.) Everyone was in great spirits, and they were even handing out baked goods throughout the line! We were 400 and 401 in line.

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When I was little, I hated (hated) when we had to go grocery shopping. Everything about it just felt like a torturous experience. Now, I’m excited about it. I’d been anticipating this opening (and that of Trader Joe’s even closer to my house, on Friday.) It literally felt like a food playground in there today. I’ve never sampled so many different kinds of cheeses in my life. I watched an older man (with a cool old fashioned hat) eat a pie sample like a shot. We ran into old friends. We saw our line mate.

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The hot bar has insane amount of different kinds of food. Now I know where to go when I want chinese but don’t want to order like five cartons. There are bacon, smoked gouda hushpuppies! (Right next to delicious mac and cheese, and what I’m sure are equally good collard greens.) My favorite beer, of all time, in a six pack ON SALE! (Bell’s Oberon.) BOGO on gelato. Pumpkin mousse! Macaroons! My Van’s power grain protein waffles! Not to mention the pub style roast beef sandwiches, a million kinds of meat and fish and fruit. Just everything.

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After eyeing the hush puppies, my mind was made up when someone recommended them to me. There’s a bar with beer on tap, cocktails, and appetizers! We talked to the bar tender for a bit. (Yeah, I was the person carrying around a six pack at 930 in the morning.) I mean, this is a good place to meet new friends, haha. You know the guy who makes the awesome hard candy at Lofty Pursuits? They sell it packaged there! And he was doing a sample table today. I’m so excited for him. That means even more exposure for his awesome craft.

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There was a jazz band playing at the front of the store. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Could it have gotten any cooler? And we got free reusable bags filled with all kinds of samples. And when we walked in they gave us free ground coffee!

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Larry got this awesome tall mason jar (I think his was filled with sweet tea,) this morning and I was thinking about it today so after I met Ethan and Megan at Decent Pizza I went back for a second time to get one for myself. Mine’s filled with what I’m sure I’ll enjoy of the “Backyard Brew” iced coffee. Fun fact? You can take the jar back to the coffee bar for a $1 refill! As I perused the aisles I overheard employees talking about how different Tallahassee customers are (as compared to another part of Florida,) and how friendly everyone was today. They were excited and surprised by how so many people wanted to engage in conversation. There were a lot of police officers on site inside and outside the store, I’m guessing for crowd control (and necessary traffic control.) One of the cops who works on game days by the stadium was there and I kept ending up in the same section as him and a friend and they joked about me following them.

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By the time I got to the register with my gelato and iced coffee, I was greeted by a very pleasant cashier and bagger. We talked about it being my second time there that day and about the jars. And did you know that for each reusable bag you use they donate 10 cents (either you get it refunded back to you, or you can give it to a local or world charity!) They found an old receipt from The Fresh Market in my bag and joked about how I couldn’t shop there anymore. And then we talked about how the opening went and everything.

I know this is a scattered entry, but I just had to write it down somewhere. It might sound silly, but I had today off of work and that can be positive and negative. I need a chance to recharge my batteries, but sometimes when I have an empty house and a stretch of day ahead of me without distraction, all the thoughts that flood my mind can be overwhelming. This morning on my run an old friend screamed my name from traffic, and it was the extra motivation I needed to finish that run. Combined with going to dinner with my brother and his girlfriend (and a good interaction with someone working at the pizza place,) and wandering around grocery shopping with a friend (and a visit to my safe haven – the library, downtown) I really needed today. It just turned all my negative energy I felt looming, around. Like it spit it back out as positive instead.

I’m sure I’m a chatty cathy and sometimes I talk too much but I think my most favorite thing is good customer service experiences. It says so much, about an organization, the establishment, the people, and it can do wonders for someones day (and I can tell you personally – that it can affect both sides.) I needed to find some peace today, and I did – I took an afternoon walk in this gorgeous cool temperature we have floating around Tallahassee right now, and the sun finally peaked out for a bit!

Multiple lessons from today: appreciate the little things.
Be nice to everyone.
Go check out Whole Foods when you get a chance!
Take even a minute to step outside, turn your face towards the sky, feel the sunshine and the cool breeze and savor it for a moment.

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Change, Change, Change

Life can change so quickly. We, as humans are more adaptable than it seems sometimes, or maybe more than we can remember when we’re feeling like we’re not. I did one thing for so long, and the parts of it I liked, I really liked. But you know that whole, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly but expect different results? That’s where I was in life for quite a while. I have all these complexes – loyalty, responsibility, ethics but you can’t expect things to change when they keep on showing you they’ll stay the same. And when things don’t change, it’s just like that South song “if we don’t make it, nothing changes.” It’s true. It’s the truth. So sometimes we have to figure out how to make some changes, whether they’re temporary or permanent or circumstantial and it’s hazy how long they’ll be around for – they can be pretty necessary. Just one step to tip the scales. So all of this is how I wound up working at a friends store about two months ago, and finding out I really, really like it. It’s shown me things I’m capable of that I probably wouldn’t have envisioned if you asked me two months ago. There are so many things about me, as a person, that don’t change regardless of the situation you put me in. Like group projects – I passionately hate group projects, but I’m always going to want to put in as much work as I can before it’s done. If an area is lacking, even if it drives me crazy, I’m going to want to do what I can to balance it out. And even if I hate group projects, I’m a walking contradiction because I love team work. I love a clean operating partnered effort. The thing is, I know it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people right now, but that’s not important. For right now, it makes sense to me and that’s enough.

And so it begins again…

When I stopped running, I stopped blogging as much. I know, that sounds kind of ironic because you’d think with more time on my hands, some activity would increase. But it’s been a touchy subject in the cobwebs of my head. I’ve tried to distance myself from it because I thought what I used to know was over, and I had to move on. I know, that sounds dramatic but I have to give myself a hard truth to face sometimes, or I’ll convince myself otherwise. So back in April when I was hurting really bad, I took time off. I was trying to do it the right way, underwater running, other strength training, rest days, etc. I did it for the 8weeks, maybe even a little longer. And I eased back in and I was so slow, and it was so discouraging, but I was trying to just be grateful for the whole act of running itself. Then I ran a 5k on the Fourth of July. It was raining, and by that I mean it was more like hurricane conditions. They decided to do it untimed. I was like oh hey, I don’t care I won’t be competitive, but it’s impossible – it’s some innate quality that ignites when they scream “go!”

So, whatever, I thought I was back at it, slow as a turtle – but still moving. And then I started getting worse pains than before and I couldn’t really figure it out. It didn’t matter about stretching, or swimming, or rest days or what. I couldn’t get more than two tenths of a mile without having to turn around and walk (and wanting to cry.) So, lately I’ve just been trying to deal with that. Accept it for whatever it is, and think that maybe two-ish years of running started to take a toll on my body that was just now starting to appear? And I tried not to feel bitter towards the people trotting around the neighborhood, when Running Times showed up in my mailbox, when raceday photos appeared on my Instagram. And then something in me, one morning this week made me decide to just try again, lace up some different shoes and see how it went. Somehow I managed two miles, and the air was cool and breezy and it was so beautiful and perfect I wanted to scream with joy, after being so frustrated.

That’s where I am now. Just taking it one day at a time. And being infinitely grateful for every single run. Every step I take that doesn’t hurt. And I’m not exaggerating. I thought I’d be fine without it. But there’s something about that sport that has a strong hold on me. I can’t quit. I can’t let it go. I ordered new shoes, and I’m hoping that that might have been a factor, that my others needed to be retired. Before I had half marathons (like the Rock n Roll in Savannah) in my starry eyes, but now I’m just thankful for the recreational activity. Maybe one day I’ll go back to races.

I was thinking about it this morning. Tallahassee was graced with this incredible weather this weekend. Fall surely has arrived. The humidity has been low, the sun shining, a breeze in the air – just absolutely gorgeous. I forgot the mindset I get in with running, nothing else clears my head in quite the same way. (Like when I’m swimming? I’m concentrating on breathing and if I’m keeping a good form too much to be thinking about anything else.) Especially when it’s just me, an early morning, an empty neighborhood, clear skies, cool breeze, and some thoughts or dreams. I forget about the emotions, I access when I’m running. It’s like an inner layer pealed away that I leave covered up the rest of the time. Facing all my insides, ugly or not.  Anyway, maybe another day I’ll have to deal with it, but at least for right now I don’t have to because I don’t want to. I don’t know how yet to start over with something else. It’s an addiction, sure, but it’s the only good one I have. I guess I never realized how much it all became engrained in me. I need running for so many reasons. And sure, those PRs I reached, or finish lines I crossed brought a certain sense of accomplishment I’ve never experienced from anything else, but right now it’s not about that anymore. You know that part in “Wear Sunscreen” that goes “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” 
Well it’s true. It’s just an inner battle right now, (and for the record? Right now, I’m winning.)

A Simple Saturday Morning

So some days the weight of frustration is like an elephant sitting on my chest, and it’s been holding me down for so many hours that even when I finally move out from under the crushing impact, it’s still hard to catch my breath. It takes a little longer to let the bird out of the cage, to feel my wings spread and the breeze wash over me again. But when it does, I feel a wave of gratitude. It’s easy to neglect the simplicity of carefree breaths sometimes, when your brain doesn’t feel like it short circuited and you’re left with all the frayed wires to make sense of the mess. On this simple Saturday, I’m thankful for exactly that.

Really what’s better than a group of people sitting around a table in the evening, with good food, good drinks, and plenty of laughter? And my days have been full of that lately. Whether it’s in my kitchen, or my parents’ kitchen, or a restaurant. There are few things I love more than laughter, (and music.)

This morning I went for a little run. It’s overcast, the sky is full of gray clouds, but the air isn’t too heavy yet. (For a Saturday morning post sun-rise in July in North Florida.) It’s nice to have those moments again, where my own time is carved out from the world, this little piece of solitude. It used to be about time, and distance but not lately. Lately it’s just about enjoying the whole activity, getting to do this thing that’s my instant ticket to clarity – no matter how short lived.

Maybe today will see some beach time. Maybe it’ll see some crafting. Who knows? But I hope your Saturdays are sweet, and simple and your hearts are full of carefree easiness of summer.

Sometimes, I think wanderlust isn’t for a particular place,
but for a feeling.
For an emotion, as fleeting as it may be.
It’s like being homesick for a person,
and not a building.
You know know how good it’s supposed to feel
when you’ve been away for a while,
and then you finally
fall into your own bed?
I never get that feeling
because I always love the new room,
the unfamiliar air circulating in the darkness of the night,
and the cold side of the pillow I haven’t rested on yet.
Sometimes, it’s not even a room.
It could be an open field,
under a sky of brightly lit stars.
Somewhere, you don’t even sleep at all.
Because that’s always been my favorite –
seeing how much life you can fit
into each hour of a day,
as night bleeds into morning.
And then the sunlight beckons,
for dreams while you’re awake.
And it’s a funny thing
when we try to read the mind,
of the person across the expanse of the horizon line.
And as the colors of the sunrise fade into a soft light,
all the thoughts we managed to grasp
in the slow crawl of morning,
melt together.
Until you wonder
if any of these moments,
really happened at all?

Bonnaroo Is My Neverland (Part One)

(I swear I clicked publish on this the other day, and it didn’t go anywhere! So since this draft is just sitting in my dashboard, I figured I may as well go ahead and share it now…at least the beginning.)

I know, I have been a horrible blogger in recent days, but in my defense I have absolutely been all over the place. So, you know how I’ve gone to several concerts lately? When I was at the Phoenix show back in May in Orlando, I made a new friend. I got his number because he wanted to buy my Postal Service ticket at Hard Rock a month later. We kept in touch over this time, becoming fast friends, an epic long phone conversation etc. One of the first things we talked about at House of Blues with people surrounding us in the crowd was Bonnaroo. At that time it was a distant dream, a someday bucket list check. (Because the original group I knew who wanted to go, then had a wedding to attend and bailed. And you know? I’ve planned all these other quick trips lately, and it didn’t seem as feasible anymore.) So, I would stare at the line-up online and we would discuss hypothetical, if you were going what would you see and compare scenarios. Then I went to Athens, and we were in this cool little bar and all of a sudden Bonnaroo came up. And we were drinking, so of course excitement escalated. One of the guys had been the previous year, so he was completely gung ho, and in joking I was like hey! tickets aren’t sold out yet, we could still go. So he started corralling people, and being like wanna go to Bonnaroo?! Of course, they thought we were crazy. Then a few more weeks passed, and it got closer and closer and the itch got stronger, and I was like hey! we could seriously still do this. I weighed the pros and cons of irresponsibility? How crazy was it, to up and go to Tennessee with like less than 48 hours notice? And some people spend a whole year prepping for this, and I was gonna do it in the window of time after work in two days? But I kept thinking of two Christmas breaks ago when I got invited to the Keys and I turned the offer down, thinking I can’t just run away from work like that (even though I had vacation time.) Then I sat at work with absolutely nothing going on during the holidays and got sent home early and I was kicking myself because I could’ve been on a boat in paradise! So, I vowed I wouldn’t let opportunities like that pass me by again. And here it was staring me right in the face. Plus, then James threw out the:

“You’ll never be in your 20s again! You’ll turn 30 next year if you don’t go to Bonnaroo!”

Which were like the magic words.  Hello, he’s right! I’d been saying the whole time, I wanna go while I’m young! The years are going by, and you’re not always at the place in life where you can just throw crap in a bag and road trip hours away on short notice to spend four days camping and concert watching on a farm in the middle of nowhere. (Think of all my married friends with babies?!) So. I posted a Facebook status inquiring about adventure partners, and one of my original adventure partners from growing up responded – Kaela. And she was in. So, she just had to work out the details but since I knew it was a giant possibility, I couldn’t sleep that night. I knew if we were going, we’d have to be prepared in some way so I started scouring the Bonnaroo Survival Blogs for tips and advice, and what to pack. Plus, James started passing on his Veteran knowledge, and a few other friends who’d attended in the past. That night, while I told my roommate there was a chance we’d go, but I didn’t wanna get my heart set on it – she was so super encouraging. So I had James with the you’re only in your twenties once spiel, and I had myself with my encouraging, no day but today story! Then Alex, who pulled out her photo album from the Woodstock anniversary concert, and her tales of awesomeness, and she was like YOU GUYS HAVE TO DO IT! So basically my heart was set on it, so there I was 4am, reading blogs on my phone while I couldn’t sleep. The next day Kae was like yeah, we need to do this – we have to do this. So, we bought tickets. Then that night, they sold out. So obviously, it was meant to be. That night, and the following day were a whirlwind of trying to pack and scrounge up items we would need (and I’ll probably do a blog post on a crash course of how to pack for Bonnaroo in 48 hours,) which included a zillion trips to Walmart/Target/Sams Club, lots of photo text messaging, and pure adrenaline that broke concentration on anything else.

Wednesday night, (I had returned to the house for a Voice watching break, and to scan the inventory) before I ran back out again. I sat surrounded by clothes and miscellaneous camping items, and food scattered throughout the living room, with re-runs of Freaks and Geeks playing in the background because why not? This was too exciting of a situation to be stressed, but there’s always an open door for some giggling in my life, and so what if I know that series by heart? Kae was driving from St.Augustine, and got there late. We hadn’t seen each other since November of 2010, so of course we needed a little catch up time! (Though we were gonna have a 7.5 hour drive to take care of that in a few hours.) But first things first – beast mode with the packing! Successfully threw four days worth of stuff in my car. Then we chatted, then we nodded off for about three hours, and then grabbed some last minute things from the house (including coffee of course,) and hit the road! We had a few stops, gas stations and bathrooms. A random exit in Georgia where we happened upon a Walmart, picked up some supplies, and later we stopped somewhere outside of Atlanta, (I think Marietta maybe who knows) and went to that Willy’s burrito place? One last hot meal in air conditioning! Yeahhh.

We were getting kind of anxious as we followed the live tweeting of #BonnarooTraffic and expecting to be sitting in the lines for hours. We might have played a little chinese fire-drill off some abandoned looking mountainous exit, so we could trade drivers and neither of us would throw up in the high altitude condition swap. Plus, we got mixed directions of driving to Coffee County High School to get our wristbands, or to just go to the tollbooth. I called customer service again, they sent us to the toll booth. We’d both read the warnings of not entering the grounds without a full tank of gas, but we were kind of out of luck on that note, not realizing exit after exit would be closed with cops guarding the ramps! So, all of a sudden there was the flashing sign and it was time to turn off! So, on we went with a half tank. And whoulda thought?

We got in, in like less twenty minutes! Though watching vehicle searches was definitely entertaining. (I have a feeling some of the people wandering the parking lot with vests on and no shirt weren’t actually volunteers, but just wanderers.) When it was our turn not much happened other than them throwing all the tampons out of my glove compartment everywhere, and some koozies from the console? Realll intense search, guys. Then we went to this trailer, got our wristbands and first they didn’t activate so we had to go back, THEN we got sent to park in the GA camping section! Dun dun dun! Since people had gotten there on Wednesday before the gates even opened we were thinking this parking situation could get interesting, but the Bonnaroo Guru was correct in telling us that it kind of works out for the later crowd because they get parked closer to Centeroo. We were thinking we were gonna be out miles away on that 50 minute walk (but next to the $1 grilled cheese.) Literally we were like a ten minute walk away in Pod 6 Camp Zoolander (holla!) right next to an RV lot. Our campsite neighbors were a couple from North Carolina who go to college in Boone, and then a crew of kids from Hudson, Florida (land of the youth soccer tournaments down in Central Florida near Tampa.) And a large group of southern kids behind us who were a constant source of amusement with their stories.

We started setting up our campsite, and of course in came rain. But we were smart and went ahead and got the canopy up, so we could work under it. Good thing Kaela is an expert outdoorswoman (first time setting up a tent,) or I would have been laying on a tarp on the ground with the tent in a pile. We got it all set up in less than thirty minutes, and bam! We were done. So we changed clothes, checked out our surroundings, and went on our way to check out Centeroo (where all the stages and tents are.)

Then the true adventure began. I don’t think we knew what we were in for, (and I mean that in the best way possible.)

Georgia Roads Bring Us Home

Passing somewhere through the middle of Georgia, after we finally found a rest stop. Bonnaroovians padded slowly down the same sidewalks, sleepy eyed and dazed after days of adventures. I watched a dark haired boy reach his tanned hand through the bars shielding the vending machine, attempting to retrieve some kind of snack. The moms dragging their toddlers across the slick restroom floors, didn’t know how odd it seemed to be using a bathroom with lights and flushing, and running water in the sink. We’d grown accustomed to the plastic box life of portapotties, and keeping a roll of toilet paper in your backpack, and following the path to a dusty street in early morning light. This early morning light was different. We were still alive with possibility, but sleep was battling for my brain waves and all my thoughts started to get hazy in the struggle to resist. I may have nodded off for a few minutes. I may have surrendered to the dreamy thoughts, not ready for all our beautiful moments to start the transformation into memories, a distance that can’t be crossed once it’s been created. I could only think of this land, a paradise carved out from the rest of the world where worries can’t reach you, and every stranger is a new friend to be made. The stories of these gorgeous people, and their journeys and their exquisite passion for life resounded in my ears lulling me to sleep. When I awake, my dreams weren’t real dreams, they were revisited thoughts of the same things I was pondering before I took that snooze. My mind is littered with the sensation of wet grass beneath your feet, moonlight bathing an open field in a soft glow, and the ease that accompanies life and the people you entwine yours with when you are absolutely, positively yourself. Love in its purest form because there’s no space for anything else.