Solo Birthday

2013 March 17
by Grace Boyle

Over the years here at SHBI, I usually post something about my birthday (here in 2011, here in 2012). It’s largely because I view my birthday as the beginning of the new year. It’s a time to intention set, look back and look forward. I feel it’s very auspicious and special.

My mom muses that I have always cried on my birthday since I was a baby. Sometimes it’s tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of frustration, tears of emotion or just tears of fear (AKA when I was 4 and my dad dressed up as a bear and walked up from the basement and we all screamed and ran away crying, wasn’t the best idea pops).

 In 2011, I jokingly tell the story of our new puppy Cerna getting too excited and eating too many scraps that fell on the ground at our party, so he threw up all over my friend’s brand new white shoes (twice). I burst into tears because I was trying to control the situation and ensure everyone was happy instead of just laughing, rubbing the pup’s belly and washing my friends shoes. Because really, shit happens. Looking back, it’s hilarious. It’s good to have perspective.

This year, on my 27th birthday, I was traveling for business. I was in the Boston area (where The Man is from) so instead of moping he recommended an incredible Cambodian / French fusion restaurant (The Elephant Walk).

On the night of March 13th, my birthday, I had traveled all day and had a big meeting / training to prep for the next day, but I wasn’t going to stay alone in my hotel room. I wanted to follow through on my plan.

If I back up a bit, I was going to see one of my closet girlfriends and roommates from college that night, but she had a work event she couldn’t get out of last minute. I do have a handful of friends / acquaintances in the Boston area, but after my girlfriend that I always see when we’re there couldn’t make it, it sounded silly to start going through the rolodex and asking who could “take me out” for my birthday. When it came down to it, I didn’t “need” that and I had a small window to go out so just decided to keep it simple.

Dinner was wonderful. I sat at the bar alongside two other travelers, so I wasn’t the only one flying solo. I eat alone a lot. To me, it’s pretty simple and enjoyable. There is something a bit different about your birthday alone, because society thinks it’s something different.

I was quiet about my birthday that night and even when I was carded for the glass of wine I ordered, the bartender missed it. One of my dearest friends knew I was solo and a bit nervous about it, so at the end of my meal, out came a piece of cake with a lit candle in it. She called in and surprised me. I was so touched (and totally blushing when my cover was blown).

Snapping photos of myself alone at the bar.

Snapping awkward photos of myself alone at the bar.

It was a quiet evening. I didn’t speak that much. I enjoyed my food and thought about what was next in life.

At the end of my evening, I even got a manager’s discount because I think they felt bad for me, which made me chuckle. The staff was kind throughout the evening even after learning it was my birthday and they thought I lived in Waltham and didn’t have friends. I built up quite the tab with two glasses of wine, an appetizer and entree because I wanted to do it up.

And it was me taking myself out (not expensing it), it was my treat, on me.

The next night, after the all-day meeting, I drove my rental car to Worcester, to see The Man’s family (and a few friends). We had an incredible home cooked meal and chocolate, peanut butter Reece’s cake The Man’s sister made for me from scratch. I felt so lucky and showered with love. I love them.

When I was back home, I rounded up all my pockets of friends for a party at one of my favorite restaurant / bars on Saturday so I could hug everyone and tell them thank you so much for being a good friend.

And guess what? This whole birthday week – no tears were shed.

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

2013 March 4
by Grace Boyle

1. London Fog Drink – This is a drink my hometown coffee shop makes that is frothy and incredible. I don’t drink a ton of coffee these days (no particular reason, but I feel healthier without a lot of caffeine) but I have been drinking black tea. The London Fog (also known as Earl Gray Latte or Vanilla Tea Missto) is Earl Gray tea, milk (soy, almond, whole, skim, etc.), vanilla (I use Silk French Vanilla, coffee shops use vanilla syrup) and boiling water. In coffee shops they can froth the milk which is incredible but at home, I make this in the morning and it’s a perfect, warm blend.

2. Stitch Fix – Through a friend’s recommendation, I signed up with Stitch Fix, a web-based personal stylist fashion website. You create a very specific style profile and outline your size, preference, style, etc. Then you choose a date for your clothing delivery and a stylist will hand-pick different items that are sent to you, based off your profile. You can choose when you want the delivery (e.g. I do it once every two months – there isn’t a requirement to frequency) and they provide a free shipping bag to return the clothes/accessories you don’t want. The only hitch is that if you purchase something from the box, you get $25 off, but if you return everything you lose that $25 because it’s the stylist / shipping fee. Each time you return the items, you can give feedback as to why on your profile and each time, they get better and better. I love the surprise of it, I love that they’re brands I may not always wear or know of and I love that I have picked at least one thing from the box each time. Check it out*.

3. Jennifer Lawrence – I’ve liked her since I first saw her and dig the roles she plays, plus she seems pretty real and funny. I like someone that can be herself, a little irreverent and also not let things go to her head. I think she’s gorgeous and this interview after her Oscar win always has me laughing. Let’s not forget, she’s only 22!

4. Mention – I like using Mention that creates alerts for your brand (in my case, blogs) so you can be informed in real-time about any mentioned on the web and social. It’s better than Google Alerts (more consistent) and the desktop application is really slick with a nice UI. Also, there’s a free version that is great.

5. Sunday nights – James and I love Sundays. The first reason is because we always plan a big meal we’re going to cook that day that will yield leftovers so it’s always very cozy in the house, with delicious smells wafting around. Secondly, it’s when all our shows are on. We’re digging Girls, Downton Abbey and Walking Dead and they all coincide Sunday evening. It’s something to look forward to and we usually have friends over to enjoy the shows, as well.

What are you loving on these days?

*Note: referral link, because why not? I love the fix ;)

My creativity sweet spot: early morning

2013 February 20
by Grace Boyle

It’s 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning and my eyes pop open. I still feel a little tired, but I know I’m not going back to bed.

I am/have become a morning person.

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Subsequently, I’m so not a night owl. Maybe it’s stress from the work week or a hard workout in the evening, but we’re usually in bed by 10:30 PM by the latest on weeknights. Sleep is one of those free, tried and true beauty and health secrets. I’m all about it.

Right now I sit cross-legged on our couch, facing the windows and rising sun as I have opened the blinds. The world around me is still. Occasionally I hear a bird chirping (is that Spring I hear)?

I have only come to realize recently, that early morning is my creative sweet spot. Between 7 and 9 AM (give or take).

I can only describe it as such: my mind starts to buzz, ideas begin circulating, I’m aware and alert, I feel calm and I’m armed to face anything.

During this time, I also enjoy the solitude of the morning – I am free of distractions.

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” ~Rollo May

As I’ve begun to grasp this creative sweet spot for me, I get to work particularly early and jump start my day. If it’s a weekend, I write in the mornings, I jot down ideas or I use that silent time to get things done that require extra attention and sharpness. I literally feel like an invincible bad-ass during this time.

Similar sentiments are shared around where you feel most creative. Is it your favorite trail in the woods, your kitchen or in the shower?

Fast Company author, Ron Friedman, describes it as the bathroom:

If you’re like most office employees, access to sailboats, the countryside and a relaxing couch is in short supply. A walk to the bathroom is one of the few opportunities you have for disengaging, letting go of trivial details and refocusing on the bigger picture–even Steve Jobs recognized the bathroom’s potential, insisting that Pixar only build two in its studios, to provide employees with maximum enforced mixing. Neurologically, it is during these moments away from your desk the right hemisphere of your brain comes to life, making you more appreciative of the forest and less sensitive to the trees.

Whenever the time and wherever the place, I believe we need to understand what works for us. I take advantage of the early morning and if I’m planning my week, I carve out this time so it’s available. Awaiting me. Ready to envelope me.

What’s your creative sweet spot?

Am I seriously a Crossfit(er)?

2013 February 13
by Grace Boyle

My whole life I have been pretty invested in athletics.

I grew up being outside, to our backyard, to the gymnastics rings, to the pool, to to the basketball court, to my yoga mat, to the track, to the farm and competing with my horse. These activities were part of my life, everyday.

As I shifted to college and away from formal group athletics and owning my own horse and competing for years (two of the best things I could have had for leadership and growth growing up) I found myself struggling to find a workout “regime”.

Sometimes I went to our college gym. I even worked there one Summer while I stayed in Vermont, but it was sporadic. College definitely ensued four years of the most unstructured time (except for class schedules per semester of course) for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I worked hard. I graduated with almost a 4.0 and I had a lot of internships and jobs. But being active? Kind of fell short. I definitely gained weight (thank you kegs of beer and booze) but I wasn’t wildly unhealthy, I was just enjoying my time and being a bit more carefree than I am now. Studying abroad in Italy and eating gelato or pasta almost daily didn’t help. Oops.

As I graduated college and moved to the land of everyone runs marathons, hikes 14,000 feet in the mountains or skis all weekend, every weekend in the winter (aka Boulder) I was hit right in the face with why I was so attracted to move here in the first place. I love being healthy and pumping my body with endorphins. We always ate organic and healthy growing up, it was just a reminder of what I remembered.

I immediately joined a yoga studio, got my snowboard pass, hiked out my backyard and was stoked about getting back to my roots and feeling healthy.

Crossfit EVERYWHERE!

After my fourth year in Boulder, I couldn’t ignore my brother or some of my closest friends poking me about Crossfit this, Crossfit that. Even with my background of being active, I don’t feel like a bad-ass. Compared to most Boulderites, I’m not as hardcore (my mom would tell me this is self-defeating belief, and she’s probably right), but it’s how I feel.

crossfit

I’m also okay with admitting I was intimidated. I was scared. I also knew it was a monetary and serious time investment so I had to be totally committed.

In September last year, I was in LA with some of my closest girlfriends for a weekend getaway and also seeing my little brother who lives there. He brought me to a Crossfit class at his gym so I could get a feel for it. He will tell you that he and my other Crossfit girlfriend asked me 20 times that weekend before I agreed to join them. I hadn’t brought the right clothes or shoes and wasn’t planning on a workout on my weekend getaway.

As soon as we began, my nerves dissolved and even if I didn’t know what we were doing the whole time, I was guided and could scale to my own needs. During the WOD (workout of the day) I felt on fire. It was surely intense but while you’re in it, you’re just focused and digging in to something deeper.

The next day I couldn’t walk, I was so sore.

I laughed to myself but realized I got out of it alive and actually, enjoyed most of it.

Next month, in October I said fuck it. I believe in doing things that scare you and getting outside your comfort zone. That’s when you really grow. Always. So I joined a Crossfit gym here in Boulder and took the month-long intro, Foundations course.

After our first class, I came home and cried. I didn’t think I was that out of shape. I’ve worked out most of my life! I felt pathetic and ashamed. It was so difficult I didn’t know if I could go back.

But I did. Each day. Each class.

For the first month or so, I got knots in my stomach I was so nervous about walking into class. I spoke to my friend Tara who has been doing Crossfit for 3+ years at the gym and her stories and support helped me realize I wasn’t alone in my plight or nervousness.

Now, it’s February. I’m just a few months in, but I find I’m stronger than I’ve ever been before and I know that I’m growing and learning rapidly. Some days I still am so confused or I’m doing something I’ve never done before and I’m scared, but the community is fantastic, the coaches are fun and supportive and I’m compelled to keep growing and pushing.

It’s not as if it gets easier. You just get more used to it.

The intensity level is always high. But one of the things I appreciate the most is my mental sharpness that has evolved. It’s like one big psychological lesson. Crossfit is almost more mental than physical for me because I think in my head, “There is no way I can finish that,” or “100 push-ups just to start the workout, no way,” but then you do it.

You just do it.

You may take longer than anyone else, but I always finish. Maybe I scaled and next time I’ll try more weight or what’s actually prescribed.

I don’t believe that Crossfit is superior to other forms of working out but I do know that the cult-like following is for a reason. It works. It’s powerful. And for now, for me, I’m totally digging it and proud of my consistency to working out more than almost ever.

I’m also a testament that anyone can do it. People of all ages and sizes go to Crossfit and like I said, I’m no marathon-goer-crazy-workout-freak. Hardly. But I’ve been physically and mentally pushed more than ever and it’s the best feeling. It doesn’t hurt to see your body toning up and muscle in places you didn’t know muscle existed before either. Right?

Thanks Crossfit Roots. I heart you longtime for kicking my ass and showing me the ways.

But this doesn’t mean I like burpees. At all.

The Job Searching Guide

2013 January 14
by Grace Boyle

Job searching isn’t fun. I’ve received an increasing amount of emails and inquiries on the topic (not sure why, I’m certainly not an expert) but I thought I might as well put together some insight as to what I have learned, what I have been taught and what I’ve read around the topic. I include some specifics to Boulder just because I live here, but otherwise, the information is pretty applicable. I hope you enjoy!

The People You Know: The first to consider is the low hanging fruit – the trusted friends, previous co-workers and family. Most jobs do come from a connection but people forget to consider their family or even neighbors, because they tend to think, “I want a job in X industry, but they are not in X industry.” You never know if your network knows someone who knows someone and just putting it out there is a good move, period. Naturally, if you can connect with people in your industry they will have upfront experience but I suggest talking to everyone. I’ve written about it before, before I moved to Boulder I made a list of people I could reach out to about my move and what I was looking for (connections, I knew no one and a job, since I didn’t have one). I got my first job via a professor I had in college in Vermont, who connected me to a friend of hers in Boulder, who then introduced me to a friend of his that worked at Lijit. I encourage you to exercise your options, connect with people you trust, put it out there that you’re interested in X and be sure to be vocal. Your network is more powerful than you think.

Extra tip – consider contacting your Alumni office and asking for a list of graduates who are in your area. When I first moved to Boulder I found this to be useful!

Social media. Well, this may sound obvious especially for certain generations but as I talk to new college grads many of them don’t consider social media as a professional tool since they use it purely for fun, not work. Twitter is a great place to search for keywords, look up people in the city you live in, follow those companies that you’re interested in and even search something as simple as “Boulder Jobs” or “Finance Job Denver” etc. Facebook is truly where your most personal network resides and if you’re able to post about your job search go ahead and state it. Put it out there. LinkedIn is built for networking and finding a job but I suggest LinkedIn Pro. It’s something like $50 a year and it’s so worth it. You can see more people beyond your network, you can send InMail’s so you can connect with anyone and of course, it’s often the first page that comes up when a potential employer Googles you (because they will). LinkedIn also has their jobs page where people pay to post their jobs which of course ensures the job is legitimate.

An aside on social media, is you want to ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, your resume is looking snazzy, your online presence is reflecting you how you want to be reflected (tip: Google yourself, see what comes up) and you may even consider making a digital resume via a Pinterest board. Check out my friend Rachael’s, it’s bad-ass and she calls her Pinterest Board “The Living Resume”.

Craigslist. I won’t go into Craigslist much but it’s still a common place where many jobs of all trades are posted. Don’t rule it out of your search. I know it sometimes equates spam and it may not be as trusted as other tools, but it’s still worth keeping your eye out. Often time, Craigslist is many of the places an employer might post their job so it helps keep your bases covered.

Hyperlocal job publications or newsletters. Each city usually has some sort of job provider that offers interesting information on job searching.

For instance in the Boulder area I suggest: Andrew Hudson’s Job List, Luke’s Circle, Foundry Jobs, TechStars Jobs, Boulder / Denver New Tech Meetup, Boulder Open Coffee (here is their Google+ community) and Denver Egotist. David Cohen wrote a great resource on all things startups in Boulder that if you live here, you should bookmark and keep.

Request informational interview. When I first moved to Boulder alone and lacking context of the area and its industry, my plan was to get in front of as many people as I could. I would stalk certain companies that I really wanted to work at and I might send a cold email to their jobs email or maybe I received an introduction to someone within the company. If they weren’t hiring I would ask if I could still buy them coffee or go in for an informational interview. Now, not everyone has time for this. Do not expect it. However, when done in a concise manner you’re able to get in front of an employer, make a connection and drop off your resume. Next time they’re thinking about hiring your resume may be top of mind. It’s worth asking. ‘Gotta have gumption!

Creative agencies and recruiters. One of my close friends moved to Boston and worked with a recruiter to help her find a job. She ended up landing a great job via the recruiter and three years later, she’s still at that job. Quite often, the recruiter is getting paid by the employer and really they’re just doing the heavy lifting for you. This does of course vary by industry and isn’t everyone’s style. However, sometimes when you’re down and out it’s nice to have someone on your side, doing the job hunting for you (because we all know it’s no walk in the park).

If you’re job searching openly, it’s great to be a walking advertisement for yourself. Let me preface – do not blab about it incessantly but keep in mind, if you keep your mouth shut about your needs, no one is going to “guess” what you need or recommend a job to you. Examples might be go to meetups, be vocal about your skills and what you’re looking for, mention it in your meetings or coffee dates and just be sure people are clear what you’re looking for. I get a lot of inquiries and people looking for jobs and although I may not be able to help them immediately, I love remembering “Oh hey, that company was hiring and didn’t that person I just met ask to work in a job like that?” You just never know. Other options might be to list in your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles what you’re looking for. People are all over that when recruiting.

Job searching is rarely fun. It usually is stressful. It’s like putting together a marketing campaign…about yourself, and constantly promoting it and hoping you won’t get rejected (you will, we all have been). That said, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and luckily with technology, there are so many options. I hope these have been useful suggestions.

2012: A Recap

2012 December 22
by Grace Boyle

I’m really into milestones and stepping back to realize what you’ve accomplished, what you need to do better, what you plan to do next, etc. Life flies past us so suddenly that we sometimes forget to step back, take a deep breath and remember. It’s different than dwelling in the past, it’s more about celebrating life in increments. It’s the little victories we forget to acknowledge and they’re usually the most pivotal.

GraceInPDX

In Portland, OR this year – Visiting some favorites. A little hungover, but stoked because we’re at brunch.

I recapped 2011 last year here. This year, like anyone might suspect, I feel like I’m in a different place, with different priorities. But I’m still writing here. Albeit, less frequently, I still consider writing and this space a special one for me.

Some random facts of 2012:

I’ve published 579 posts since starting this blog in 2008.

This year I traveled to: San Diego, Portland (OR), NYC, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Providence (RI), Santa Barbara, Silicon Valley, St. Lucia Carribean, Iowa (three separate times), Columbus (OH), Orlando, West Virginia and Boston/Worcester (twice).  It was quite a year of travel and FourSquare just told me I’ve checked in at 25 different airports. Who wudda thunk!

I started: writing for Eater Denver (freelance food writer, hello), Boulder Food Media (a meetup I co-founded with 38 local food media professionals), Crossfit (hardest physical exercise I’ve ever done), GraceBoyle.com, and moved in with my dude.

I was featured: on Forbes in their Top 100 Websites for Women and Top 10 Websites for Millenial Women. I was floored and can only hope to continue to provide stories, insight, thoughts and ideas as we all continue to grow and evolve together. Over yonder, my food blog was featured in New York Magazine and Westword’s Best Food Blog 2012 in their Web Awards for Colorado.  This reminds me how hard work, love, sweat and tears really does produce an outcome (even if I’m surprised and think, “No, not me, my blog??”)

Top keywords people search to land on SHBI [these are a hoot, in order of most frequent]:

  • how to relocate
  • kelly cutrone quotes [I love her, her books and words see here and here]
  • what you can tell about a person by their hands [answer: how awesome they are]
  • small hands big ideas
  • may today there be peace within [I want that too]
  • why is it hard to make friends [aw]
  • communication in the digital age [I love letter writing]
  • how to define yourself

My favorite posts of 2012:

My favorite posts others have written in 2012: 

Thank you for being here. Thanks for the friendship. Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for sharing. Happy holidays. Much love to all of you. See you in 2013.

Cooking, Eating and Satisfaction

2012 December 16
by Grace Boyle

I recently came across this statement from Deborah Madison – a chef, author and woman I greatly respect – which she shares below on the topic of purpose.

“It’s important to remember that when you’re feeding someone, including yourself, it’s an honor. It’s about pleasure and nurture and respect. We all come to the table with different kinds of baggage –hungers that can’t be satisfied, or fear, or perhaps an illness that makes food problematic, or even good appetite and high expectations – you name it. Cooking for any or all of these qualities is a big job, but a satisfying one.” — Deborah Madison

It was Sunday morning when I read this. My black tea was steaming into the quiet air beside me and no one else was up. Our dog was curled up next to me and the refrigerator buzzed monotonously in the kitchen.

I looked up and immediately was flooded with memories of food and gathering. My grandparents table where there were so many dishes you could barely see the table beneath it. My mother’s table filled with vegetables that came from her garden just outside our dining room window. My small, square kitchen table where I’m learning to be a grown-up and cook alongside my boyfriend in our apartment. A checkered table in Italy filled with olive oil, a carafe of red wine and spaghetti. It goes on, but it’s always worth remembering the tables.

I usually reserve the food talk for my food blog but in the end, it doesn’t matter where I write it.

Food moves me.

I believe food is our common denominator. It brings us together in times of pain and in times of celebration, food is a focal point. It nourishes us. It brings us together no matter our beliefs or upbringing. Naturally, it has different value and meaning to each person, but for me, I am energized by the thought of it’s interconnection and the way it weaves us together.

Food also has a place that may not be so positive. There are many people that don’t have food or perhaps we are fearful of it, its repercussions, our weight or our health. I have those darker places with food. We likely all do, to different degrees. I do feel grateful for the relationship I have come to find with food, but because of the darker places, it’s something I choose to honor and respect instead of fear (food). I try, at least. I also remember it is quite literally fuel that keeps us alive.

Deborah’s quote reminded me as we gear up for the holiday season and the end of 2012, there will undoubtedly be food. Family. Friends. Gatherings. In different forms. Maybe it won’t all be happy. Maybe it will. I do know there is a great amount of respect I feel for food, those that farmed the food, produced the food, envisioned the food, created the food and even ate the food.

We all come to the table with different “baggage” but cooking for “all of these qualities is a big job, but a satisfying one.” I can’t wait to cook for my loved ones as I leave shortly for two weeks to unplug and hug friends and family I haven’t seen all year, closer.

How does food define you or your life?

GraceBoyle.com

2012 December 9
by Grace Boyle

It’s no secret that I am all over and “live” in many places online, especially with two blogs.

I’ve been meaning to launch a homepage where everything can live and it took a long time to take that leap. Mostly because I knew I wanted the creative direction in place and I had to find someone I trusted to turn it into fruition.

I connected with Jamie and knew she would be a great fit, especially as she is local and we could meet in person if need be.

Once we began the creative process it unfolded with ease. I wanted something bright and vibrant that reflects my personality, yet straightforward to find all the resources and projects I’ve been working on over the last 5 years.

I couldn’t be happier with it and I wanted to share it with everyone here. The photo is of me in Mexico on a rooftop, sipping on margs, facing the ocean with some of my favorite girlfriends. If you’re curious what I’m up to or want to follow me on the social networks I frequent the most, you can find all the deets at graceboyle.com. Big thanks again to Jamie! 

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