On Yoga

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Yoga 1. A Hindu discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquillity.  2. A system of exercises practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.

Up until a few weeks ago, I would have respectfully disagreed with Mr. Webster’s Dictionary–nothing about my prior experiences with yoga made me feel spiritually insightful or tranquil.  More or less, yoga made me cranky. “Man, for all the stretching, I could be on a treadmill burning calories/grocery shopping/checking PerezHilton.com for the millionth time today” was more my reaction to yoga.  I don’t know if yoga has changed (but being a 5,000 year practice, I doubt it) or I have changed but I am ready for yoga in my life.

I took a “Sculpt” Yoga class at Core Power Yoga Gold Coast last week and was sore for 3 days.  Using weights while doing yoga poses forced me to use my core for stability and to get those 3lb suckers in the air.  Wowza.  Did I mention the room was heated to 90 degrees? Yeah, I should have looked into that before blowing drying my hair and putting on makeup before class.  I still had my preconceived notion of yoga just being some stretches and didn’t figure I would sweat at all.  Wrong.  I felt like I had really used and, dare I say, connected to my body.  I went back a few days later for “Hot Power Fusion”.  I have done hot room yoga before but the kind folks at Core Power Yoga weren’t kidding with the word “hot”.  105 degrees and an hour and fifteen minutes later,  I had contorted my body in ways I didn’t know it could go, centered my thoughts and sweated glowed more than I ever have in my life.   And I felt amazing!  All of that “you feel so centered” and “you become so calm” I had heard before about yoga was true!  If I had walked out the door and been hit by a cab, I think I would have probably said “Thanks, can I have more?”, that’s how centered and calm I felt.  It wasn’t pretty, that class.  All that heat and sweat made my poses extra slippery and slidey and I probably looked really silly.  But the opportunity to take an hour of my day to spend some time with me–the me that has nothing to do with any outside force–and become more aware of my body and what’s good and less aware of the the excess thoughts I have or things I am worried about or if global warming is really going to keep Chicago from being so freaking cold…well, I would say that opportunity is pretty stellar and one I am going to continue to take.


High Five of the Day: I was unaware that NHL players were also supermodels but after seeing the Nashville Predators in their swanky suits shopping downtown, I am considering becoming a hockey fan.

Run, baby, run!

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This is my first fall in Chicago and while I have had friends run the Chicago Marathon in the past, I had no idea what a big deal it was.  The streets were lines for the entire race with spectators and cheerers.   I have never seen anything like it–tons of people: people with signs, flowers, balloons, cow bells, whistles.  People cheering, people hugging, people yelling encouragement to every runner as they ran uphill the last .2 miles.  I was walking around with this huge smile on my face.  I seriously almost cried 3-4 times watching complete strangers finish this race.  I’m a softy as it is but it was just so inspirational.  Whether people were running, walking, or crawling past the finish line, everyone was putting a HUGE accomplishment under their belt today.  Well done!

Today was Ryan’s first full marathon; he ran the Baltimore half-marathon in 2007.  Even with his insanely busy schedule and a trip to Las Vegas, he ran today and did awesome!  I AM SO FREAKING PROUD OF HIM!   It was so cool to see all the runners finishing and meeting up with their loved ones afterward and I was so happy to be a part of the hugfest myself.


High Five of the Day: Aside from all the awesome runners who rocked out today, the high five of the day goes to the small child holding a sign that said “Run Like You Stole Something”.  Seriously, this little girl was like 6.  Hilarious.

On Goals

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As someone almost always focused on “getting there” or “making it”, I’ve been struggling lately with 1) the idea that my destination may be different than I had always imagined it and 2) that I have no idea where in the hell I even want my destination to be anymore.  Which is a good thing–I don’t want to make choices for my life that I feel I am “supposed” to make, like the time when I was 12 and got bangs just like the most popular girl in our class (bad, wildly unattractive decision).  So to avoid the awkward growing out period again, I’m doing a lot of questioning and evaluating and reflecting.

I need to set some goals–some real goals.  Not off-the-top-of-my-head goals, like how I want to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro or wear less stretch pants–you know, the stuff that sounds cool or that you know you should do. I found these questions on a website and am using them to frame my writing exercise today.

Time to pull out that notebook, skeptic, and start penciling in some goals. Here are seven questions to get the ball rolling:

1. What are the eight things you value most in life?

2. In 30 seconds or less, write down the three most important goals in your life right now.

3. What would you do if you won $1 million?

4. What would you do if you only had six months to live?

5. What have you always wanted to do but have been afraid to attempt?

6. In looking back at all the things you’ve done, what gives you your greatest feeling of importance?

7. What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

Sounds like some pretty solid questions to me.  Do you have set goals–the kind you have written down, the kind that other people know and will hold you accountable for?  Please share–I’m interested.

I’ll keep you posted.

High Five of the Day: The man waiting for the Red Line at Fullerton wearing a “Binford Tools: Real Men Don’t Need Directions”.  You know, like from the 90s tv show “Home Improvement”?  My Dad and I used to watch “Home Improvement” religiously and still love watching reruns together.  How awesome that this guy 1) procured a shirt advertising a fictitious tool show and 2) still wears it in public, 10 years after the show went off air.

Eating my way through this city…

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Having grown up with a big Italian family, I am a huge fan of dinners that last for hours set to the soundtrack of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra or any sort of jazz.  This past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of devouring this sort of experience at Rose Angelis at 1314 W. Wrightwood Ave.  My recently engaged friends Susie and Brian were in town from Baltimore and were so kind as to invite Ryan and I to join them and their families for dinner.  Rose Angelis is this adorably quaint Italian restaurant at the end of the street I used to live on–one of those places you pass by so often to the point where you feel like you go there all the time but have never actually been inside.  When I say quaint, I mean it–Rose Angelis is an old house.  Nooks and crannies and this loud, laughing buzz to it…even if we had been there on a date with just the two of us, it would have felt like we were at a big family gathering.  We sat on the patio, a fact that my cold natured body completely forgot about with a few glasses of Chianti and a steaming hot bowl of pasta.  I had the homemade spinach ribbon noodles (think little girl’s ruffley hair ribbons), artichokes and the most authentic tasting marinara sauce I’ve had since I’ve been to The Boot.  Ryan got the linguine del mare with an impressive amount of huge shrimp, scallops and other seafood-y wonders.  Since this is the dish I sampled in 7 different cities in Italy, I feel I am the utmost authority of what’s good and what isn’t but boy, Rose Angelis hit the spot with their version–perfect white wine sauce.  Between the delicious food, the group of super friendly people we were with and getting to spend time with my new friends Brian and Susie, it was a fantastic evening.  I can’t wait to bring my parents there–they will totally eat up that authentic Italy, family, stuff yourself with carbs vibe. 🙂

In other news, I’ve decided that the best one of the best things about having a partner/special man friend is food sharing.  If food sharing was an Olympic sport, Ryan and I would at least silver medal.  We have this rhythm to grabbing things off each other’s plates and reviewing the dishes and giving seconds of things we know the other likes.  I dig it (Baby, that’s a hint to not order meat dishes I can’t eat.  Nice choice on the Linguine del Mare.)

High Five of the Day: Baby at Starbucks wearing a purple crocheted hat with a green stem that made her look like an eggplant.  I forget that it’s creepy in the real world to go up to strangers and gush over how cute their children are.  So, I remained seated.  But that baby deserved a big High Five for her choice in accessories today.  Excellence in that category can never start too young.

And so it begins…

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Hi, I’m Nina.
(Hi, Nina.)
I’ve been dancing around the idea of having my own blog for about as long as blogs have been cool.  Or at least since my friend Corey explained to me what blog stood for (weblog, in case he didnt get to you yet).  The issue was whether I had anything blog-worthy to write about.  I’m not sure that I do but I’m feeling brave in a sort of “What do I really have to lose?” sort of way and I just pass by so many things each day that deserve a high-five.  I want to officially do that–I guess this blog will be a shameless appeal for “the good stuff”.  The stuff that makes me smile, the stuff that makes me giggle, the stuff that shows that there’s still more right with the world than is wrong with it.
This blog is starting out as a mere hobby, something I am not sure if I will really get into, similar to my futile attempts at yoga, recreational jogging and playing the oboe.  Either way, I hope it will take up time I could otherwise be spending on organizing my closet or plucking my eyebrows.
I am 24 years old and live in Chicago with my supercat, Luna Bell.  She’s the coolest cat you’ll ever meet, seriously–she’s probably cooler than your kid.  I’m just sayin’.  I graduated from Michigan State University and after a quick layover in law school, I am now living and working in the Chi, a place I’ve wanted to live since I was a little girl wandering around Michigan Ave asking where the Statue of Liberty was. 
I tend to like more things than I dislike.  I like fountain Diet Coke, Lincoln Park, seeing kids wearing capes, Rock and Republic jeans, the LPAC, the Green City Market and the smell of basil.  I like my family and am one of those people who get along with her parents.  I like living .4 miles away from some of my best frends.  I like having friends who live cool places like Atlanta and, um, Detroit to visit.  I like how the neighborhoods in Chicago keep graciously unfolding themselves to me.  I’d list the things I dislike but they are just the standards–poverty, famine, war, leashes for kids, etc.
Holla: nina[dot]gardner6[at]gmail[dot]com