Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve: Fiesta Bowl and Fun

I'm spending New Year's Eve at the Fiesta Bowl (not rooting for the Wildcats). I'm here for the food and drinks and the experience of attending a bowl game. As for tonight? Probably dinner and more drinks. I'm not going to make a big production out of celebrating; I just want to have a nice night and ring in 2015 on a positive note. Wish you all a safe and fabulous evening!

Happy new year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 1 of Marathon Training and a Usery Mountain Hike

Somehow I managed to drag myself to the running trail for training. This is what it was like to return to running after a month off.

Run No. 1: 3.01 miles.
Slow and steady. I loved running in my new long-sleeve athletic top my aunt sent me. It has thumb holes! I was surprised at how chilly it was, even after my body warmed up from running. I had no need for sunglasses, but I should update my playlist. The trees along my running route are turning yellow, and it feels like fall must feel elsewhere in the country. Let's hope I can keep this (training) up!

Run No. 2: 3.15 miles.
Another slow and steady run. It was Christmas Eve, and I was a tad hungry. I had already missed a run the day before and a holiday feast loomed, so I knew I needed to run. The brightness of early afternoon for some reason slows me down. I think I am more of a night-run person. For someone who grew up in Phoenix I am not tolerant of the warmth, at least while running. My average pace was a bit faster.

Run No. 3: 2.1 miles.
I tried out my Garmin VivoSmart with the heart monitor. I didn't have it properly configured so I had to stop and walk for a bit while I tried to figure it out. The breeze felt so nice as it brushed against my skin. I need to remember to run with sunglasses. I felt too heavy to run fast — I have some holiday weight to lose. It wasn't until I was done that I realized how to use the Garmin. But I love my Christmas gift!

Run No. 4: 2.92 miles.
I tried out my Vivosmart again. It was so much easier to tap on the wristband than mess with my phone in my armband. I also figured out how to make Spotify my default music player, so I can tap my Garmin again when I want to change the song or the volume. I love this! My Garmin tells me my pace was 9:26 per mile, my best in quite some time. I have been so slow lately as I try to get back on track. I was a little cold in my shorts and T-shirt. I forgot it's cooling down this weekend in Phoenix; I probably should have worn a long-sleeve shirt. Anyway, I think being cold helps me run faster, because I wanted to get it over with!

Workout No. 5: 3-mile hike.
I hiked about 3 miles round trip on the Wind Cave at Usery Mountain Regional Park with Ashley of Perfectley Peared. We finished our workout in an hour and a half, including time at the top to snap some photos. The trail is beautiful! The weather was chilly that morning — the overnight low was 32 degrees. But the hike was a great workout with expansive views of the Valley. I will be taking Graham there soon.

Week 1 mileage: 14.18 miles.

Predictions for 2015

I've never participated in a blogger link-up, but this one I found on The Other Juliette and Mr. Thomas & Me sounds like fun. I was already writing about my goals for the coming year, but now I will turn them into predictions.

In 2015, I will:

1. Run a marathon. I want to achieve this before my 30th birthday, and I have my eye on a race already. I also want to run 500 miles, which means I can't let myself give up on running during the summer like I did this year.

2. Move. Either into a new, bigger home or away from Phoenix. Preferably the latter.

3. Volunteer more. I only volunteered three times in 2014, and I'd like to double that.

4. Travel outside of the country and to (at least) one state I haven't been to yet.

5. Teach yoga again.

6. Do a handstand away from a wall. I'm getting closer!

7. Work on a book. I've started writing, but I'm not sure in what direction I want to go with it. I plan to devote time to it each week until it's done.

I will try to:

1. Completely unplug after dinner time. No more checking my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds when I have my handsome husband sitting next to me.

2. Cook more. I should actually to try to make meals out of all those recipes I have found on Pinterest.

3. Work on my decision making

South Point on the Big Island 
What are your predictions for 2015?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

I've been a bit of Grinch this week. I had been in the Christmas spirit until I realized I wasn't done shopping for gifts after all. I started to think about how much of a waste it is to give gifts people might not want or need, and how we feel obligated to give gifts sometimes. I was also in a foul mood because Graham and I had been planning a trip to Zion National Park this weekend but had to cancel when other expenses and decisions came up. All I wanted for Christmas was to get away with my love. I thought about how people don't really understand how serious I am when I say I would rather have experiences and quality time over gifts. That isn't to say I am not grateful for anything anyone sends me. I have loved the gifts I've received. And I love the people who took the time to send them to me. But this quote sums it up nicely:

Hope everyone has a lovely holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Maui Wedding Tips

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Getting married in Maui was a dream come true. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be though. Graham and I didn't just show up one day and have everything ready to go. You CAN do that, if you don't mind having someone else make decisions for you. But I wanted a say in most things. ...

I was recently asked on Instagram for advice on Maui wedding planning. I've come up with some tips based on my experience.

Be as detailed as possible with vendors. One thing I was not specific enough about was the flowers. I just knew the colors I wanted, but I knew nothing about flowers. I sent our planner's husband, who apparently handled the flower orders, photos of the look I wanted, and he suggested the flowers. I agreed. But if I really wanted the look in the photos, I should have figured out the exact flowers in the photos I liked and used those. The bouquet probably would have been more expensive. It's obviously best to go with flowers native to the island. If you choose flowers that are harder to find on Maui, you will probably have to pay a surcharge. There is also a higher charge to have a nosegay or cascading bouquet sometimes. This is something to ask your planner or florist.

I think my bouquet was beautiful, but my point is it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. If you are picky, be more specific.

Ask for specifics about what is included and be sure to check on fees. It never occurred to me that there would be a fee to deliver flowers from the ceremony site to the hotel for photos. Check whether there is a fee from your venue or coordinator to set up any decorations. In my case, both charged a setup fee. I ended up having my mom and sister set up our few decorations the day of the wedding instead. There may be a cake-cutting fee if you order your wedding cake from a vendor other than your reception venue. If you don't host an open bar, there may be a one-time setup fee. Some venues have rules about what kind of music can be played and during what hours. A restaurant I had initially looked into had a food and beverage minimum. Another offered to set up a cocktail hour free of charge other than a permit for music on their lawn.

Interview several planners before choosing. I chose mine based on how she responded to my emails. She did the leg work before I even hired her, and that impressed me. If I had to do it over, I would have taken more time to interview planners. It's understandable, but our planner was not quick to answer emails sometimes when she was focused on weddings that were happening before ours. If you're a nervous bride who requires more contact, choose someone who will accommodate you. If you care about the details, make that clear in the beginning, so you don't assume they are being taken care of and find yourself scrambling at the last minute.

If you can, go on a planning trip. Check out the venues in person. Photos aren't always reliable. I was lucky enough to choose a fantastic venue without visiting until two days before the wedding. Gannon's has a live camera that sometimes shows weddings taking place on the Lower Knoll. When I saw the view of the ocean I knew it was the place for us.

Ask about the rain policy. Rain was a huge factor in why I chose a private non-beach venue. Gannon's was great about offering a backup plan. If it rained we had the option of having the ceremony in a covered area that also had a nice view. It relieved some of my stress to know that rain wouldn't be an issue.

Get lei'd. We wanted to give out leis at our wedding, but the quotes we received were too high for our budget. I decided instead to order them online from and have them shipped to our hotel via next-day air shipping. We also ordered our aisle petals from them. We saved hundreds of dollars on flowers.

For our wedding favors, I ordered chocolates from Maui Specialty Chocolates. The store owner emailed me a couple of weeks before the wedding saying that he needed to close the store that week but that he would still meet me there to pick up my order. I called him as soon as we landed in Kahului, and we immediately drove to the store. It's conveniently located about a mile or so from the airport. I appreciated that he kept his word and he was so kind to us. The chocolates were delicious, by the way. (We were lucky enough to get more of them from our hotel on our wedding night as a gift from the front desk.)

I was not satisfied with our day-of coordinator. First, she called me the day of the wedding to say that it was up to me whether we wanted the backup rain location. I looked outside and it wasn't even cloudy. I was confused as to why she would even bring it up. I had already discussed the rain policy with the venue and told them I wanted to proceed with a ceremony on the Lower Knoll, even if it was sprinkling. She was nice enough to deliver flowers to my hotel, but my family and friends pointed out that she did nothing to direct them or the vendors before the ceremony. When I arrived she greeted me, and I asked her whether the guys and girls should walk in a particular order, but she said, "It's up to you." So helpful. I then just told me sister to tell the guys how and when to walk. As we waited for the conch shell to begin, she was not vocal when my bridesmaids clearly didn't hear it or understand when to walk. I had to be the one to say "go." None of this ruined the moment for me, but in hindsight I was not pleased with her work that day.

On the other hand, I loved my hairstylist, Heather Green of On Location Styling. She turned vague requests into a beautiful hairstyle. She was kind and relaxed and helpful.

Also, I've already mentioned how much I liked Reverend Kahu Kamuela, musician Jamie Lawrence and our photographer, Jana Morgan. And the food at Gannon's was delicious.

Hope this helps future Maui brides!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Happenings

I'm feeling the Christmas spirit at last. Letting go of the stress of the past few weeks made way for lightness and fun to return to my life.

One of my favorite parts of the day is coming downstairs in the morning when our place is still dark to see the lights on the tree and around our living room. Yesterday I stared at the tree as I ate my breakfast; it was a sort of meditation. I reflected on our adventures of the past few years as I looked at the ornaments. I love our tradition of picking up ornaments wherever Graham and I travel. Our tree has a colorful, eclectic mix of trimmings. Someday we hope to tell our children where we bought each one.
We picked up this ornament in Honokaa, Hawaii, in September.

We bought this ornament at Tonto National Park this year.

We are slowly putting more gifts under the tree. I'm proud that I managed to buy most of my gifts online and only had to run to a store twice — and neither time took more than 30 minutes. Hooray!

And I already received a little something. Graham meant to put this magazine in my stocking, but I saw it before he got to it. I hope reading this will give me more motivation to exercise in the coming weeks. I am going to try to squeeze in a run or two this weekend amid all the pre-holiday activities: I have a reunion with former co-workers, cookie day, yoga, a haircut appointment and brunch/Secret Santa exchange with some of my favorite people.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What I've Learned in 2014

I think I say this every year, but the past 12 months have flown by. The highs and lows have left behind some lessons. Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts and reminders for next year, courtesy of my 2014 experiences.
  • Let go of what no longer serves you. Planning a wedding was eye-opening. Seeing the people who were there for Graham and me in planning and celebrating showed me who was worth keeping in my heart. I had people in my life who ended up not acknowledging this important time in our lives. Others made little effort to celebrate with us. Through that disappointment I learned that it's OK to only make room in your life for people who have shown they care about you. I also let go of my job at the newspaper after six and a half years. I was tired of having the direction of my career chosen for me, so I stopped complaining and did something about it. My career isn't exactly where I'd like it to be, but I know I am in a better place. I'm also working on letting go of material things. I've gathered piles of belongings that I am donating or selling. I'd rather have the space and the cash for upcoming adventures, which are more fulfilling. And I am constantly working on letting go of views that are not healthy, like caring about what other people think too much, or having a vision of success that entails monetary gain rather than growth.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don't believe everything you think. It's not real. I still battle with this but I'm improving. I'm also working on being kinder to my body when it comes to what I put in it. I know it's not realistic to expect to have non-GMO, organic healthy foods for every meal, so I need to remember it's OK if I need to get fast food some days when my schedule is hectic and it's the most convenient option. I do need to work on meal planning, but when it doesn't happen, it's OK. Moderation, folks.
  • Don't make decisions harder than they need to be. This is a biggie for me. I struggle with decision making, even when it comes to the most inconsequential things. What to eat for dinner? Don't ask me that or my head will explode. I spend hours debating whether to make the smallest of purchases. I often text my husband asking him for advice about trivial matters. I need to work on this. I recently read a helpful reminder: Most decisions are reversible. If it doesn't work out, it can be changed. Too much weight is placed on choices. Remember this, Marette. 
  • Challenge yourself. I never would have guessed I would become a yoga teacher. Or that I would run three Ragnars and three half marathons. But I'm glad that I tried. These experiences have helped me grow and improved my self-esteem. They showed me I am stronger than I thought I was. I know 2015 will have more opportunities to grow. A source of inspiration for this comes from what may be an unlikely source: the movie "Evan Almighty." In it, God asks, "Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" Such wise words from a goofy movie.
  • I am in competition with no one. No one is on the same path as me. I need not envy anyone else's path, either. The fact that another person has more money or time to travel or has an awesome job does not threaten my own success or happiness. There is plenty of happiness to go around. I've taken time to notice who is genuinely happy for me in my successes, and I am happy for the joys in the lives of people I know and love.
I'm ready for ya, 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Back on Track

Last month I contemplated signing up for a half marathon. Ragnar McDowell Mountain had revived my motivation to run. I was feeling the runner's high. But then a major life decision was presented and I became completely paralyzed with stress. Running is an effective stress reliever for me — if I can make it out the door. But I was so consumed with this choice I had to make that I could barely get out of bed. All of my mental bandwidth went to thinking about my life and where I wanted it to go. My fitness has suffered as a result. My last longer run was Nov. 24 when I logged 6 miles. That week I went to power yoga twice, took a yin class and ran an additional two days. Then the anxiety got the best of me.

From Dec. 3 until yesterday I skipped running and yoga, which has only worsened the anxiety. Now that I have a huge weight off my shoulders (for now), I am vowing to renew my commitment to my health and fitness. I've learned that I need to practice ahimsa (non-harm) with myself. I've also learned that I need to stop worrying about what other people think of my actions and do what's best for me and my husband. I have not given up on my dreams but I learned it's OK to rewrite them.

One of my goals is to complete a full marathon by the time I am 30, and my 29th birthday is quickly approaching. I also want to get back to teaching yoga regularly. I am planning to log my miles publicly to keep me motivated and accountable. I'm excited for a happier and healthier 2015!

Out of shape and exhausted at Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekend Fun: Food, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Rainbows

Saturday was a beautiful day in Phoenix. It was one of those days when you remember why you live here.

Graham and I checked out Scott's Generations Deli in our neighborhood. I tried my first ever knish (broccoli and cheese) — it was perfect for a cool, rainy day.

Graham went with roast beef.
Then we went to our second ugly-sweater party of the month. My friend went above and beyond when it came to hosting. Some of the decorations were Pinterest-inspired, some were her own creations. The highlights: a hot-chocolate station, a well-stocked bar and signature drink, plenty of food and homemade desserts, and fun party games. One of the games involved throwing marshmallows through a wreath into a bucket. I scored exactly zero points. There was also a white-elephant gift exchange, and we were pleasantly surprised to not have to go home with the worst gifts. A Christmas miracle!

Sunday was all about brunch with friends and giving myself time to think about life. More on that later.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Much Needed Inspiration

I came across this Apache blessing recently and found it so beautiful and inspirational.

May the sun

bring you new energy by day,

may the moon

restore you by night,

may the rain

wash away your worries,

may the breeze

blow new strength into your being.

May you walk

gently through the

world and know its

beauty all the days of your life.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Exploring Hilo, Hawaii

Our next stop on our Hawaii circumnavigation was Hilo.

It was too early to check into our hotel, so we explored the downtown area shops, farmer's market and restaurants. We found almost any type of food in the area. We picked Lucy's Taqueria for lunch; I was thrilled to find decent Mexican cuisine in Hawaii. I also found a couple of yoga studios and bought some shorts and a top at a clothing store.

Afterward we went to Akaka Falls, which is about 15 miles outside Hilo. The tranquil garden was a treat to walk through. We were surrounded in color and plants, but never by people.

We also went to Rainbow Falls. The waterfalls were flowing and the sun was shining. In fact, the temperatures were above normal every day on our Big Island vacation.

It's just a short walk to the top of the waterfall. We paused to admire the banyan tree on the way.

Next we walked across the street to Rainbow Falls Cafe for a beverage. I opted for a lilikoi-flavored soda while Graham chose an iced white mocha coffee. We sipped our drinks on the patio for a while.

Hilo Hawaiian, adjacent to the bay, is one of the few hotels in the town, and we were told it's the best option. The rooms were recently renovated and comfortable. Graham requested a room with a view so he could see the water and the colors at sunset. Mauna Kea's summit is visible in the background.

I had time for yoga at Yoga Centered. It was an early evening class that focused on doing less. The instructor asked us to put in 75 percent effort into every pose. It was a drastic change from the classes I am used to in Phoenix, and I appreciated that.

In the morning, Graham watched the cruise ship come in.

We spent more time in the downtown area before departing for our next destination.

And that was our short but sweet visit. See you soon, Hilo!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Stay in Pahoa

After visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Graham and I drove to Pahoa to check into our rental on Kehena Beach. We encountered the only traffic of the trip on the drive along Highway 130. (It became clear how the entire town could be cut off from the rest of the island if the lava flowed over it.)

Our beach rental was the Whale House, which is just across the street from the ocean. It was a one-bedroom cottage on the same property as two other small cottages. 

A banana tree grew outside our door.

We ate lunch on the patio before making our way to the water. 

We took the opportunity to throw our wedding leis into the ocean that day. We watched them sway on the water before disappearing. 

Later, we went down to the beach, promptly discovering that it is a nude beach. We were OK with that, but we were also aware of how much we stood out. We sat on a rock and watched the waves and the locals' interactions with each other. At one point a man greeted a boat tour, which had stopped in front of the beach, by turning around, bending over, putting his hands on his knees, and showing them his bare ass.

We also witnessed moments of camaraderie. An older man started to get swept away by the strong surf, and two younger men dove into the water to help him. Graham complimented one of them on their efforts; he acknowledged us with a look but said nothing. 

I won't lie, I felt uncomfortable being one of the few people in clothing among the locals. 

Later, we drove to the Wednesday night farmers market. This is probably the biggest crowd we were a part of at any time on the Big Island. It was difficult to choose what to eat — everything looked so appetizing. I opted for veggie tacos made from non-GMO, locally grown veggies. 

We also bought pesto and spinach pizza from a food truck, and I paired that with lemonade. 

Among the goodies for sale were locally made soaps, jewelry, artwork, clothing and incense. We learned from some people we met that Wednesday nights were when the entire town gathered. Someone even called it his date night with his partner. A few people we spoke with said they were actually new to the Big Island and that they loved it there. Graham said a few times that he felt at home among the crowd. 

It was an enlightening experience to be in a setting where you stand out because it's clear you are not from the area. I see it as a positive and important experience. It's why I want to travel more; to feel uncomfortable so I can learn more about myself.