A trail deferred

When I was a kid in 1998, bald and in the middle of cancer treatments, all I wanted was to be NORMAL. Not the sixth grader with bruises and scars, not the one who was allowed to miss all the classes, not the one who people had to treat gently. I wanted to have the same 12-year-old adventures as everyone else, and that included walking the Freedom Trail on our class field trip.

I was so excited for that spring day – on top of the adventure of BOSTON my dad was chaperoning, something that never happened (my parents always coached our teams and shuttled us Girl Scouts around, but we had our own family trips instead of them chaperoning).

But as we were getting ready to board the buses, I got called down to the front office – and it was my mom on the phone, saying that my counts had come back and we needed to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion. We were all crushed – she had argued with my doctor but there was no wiggle room (unless we were already on the bus, which my classmates were now boarding).

For the past 21 years, I’ve thought often of that trail. In fact, most of my Boston jobs have been ON it. But I’ve never done the whole thing… until now!

Yesterday dad and I finally did the whole trail. 6+ miles of walking over 6 hours, starting at the Common and ending at the top of Bunker Hill.

Along the way, we saw the Sacred Cod, compared cemeteries (and found Copp’s Hill to be the most favorable burying place), and made extensive lists of historical facts to research when back home.

We saved most of the indoor attractions for a less sunny day so we would have time for the final leg, but did make time for Old Ironsides!

We met fellow explorers along the way – a young boy and his mom who wanted to find the trail in order to play Pokémon Go, a family from Scotland, many people in historical garb who looked even hotter than we felt.

Honestly, I’ve been to some of the great cities of the world, and I’ve lived in Boston for a decade. And yet I was shocked at how powerful I found the trail – not just because we were slightly delirious in the blazing sun, not just because I had been dreaming of this for 21 years, but because of the story the trail tells about a scrappy group of people believing in fighting for something bigger than themselves.

This kind of quest – with decision points along the way and a trusty fellow traveler at your side – is my favorite way to spend a day and remember what matters in this world. I am so grateful that I am still alive today to live and learn something new… and get the pressed penny to prove it.

Choose your challenge

If you’ve ever met me, you know I love a challenge. This whole blog was built on the idea of challenging myself to try new things before I turned 30.

So it should be no surprise that I try to find a new challenge for basically every month. Whether it’s my no sugar challenge or the 30 day shred I just completed as my broken foot healed (more on that later…) or a promise to send more snail mail, I like to have something new to aim for.

January’s challenge is something I’m sharing with a hundred thousand plus other folks in the form of a 30 day yoga quest à la Yoga With Adriene.

My goal is to keep myself moving in these darker winter months, gain some flexibility, and see what it would be like to really have a yoga practice vs my usual drop-in mode. I’m going to try to complete all 30 sessions, though I might push back the days slightly like if it’s really nice running weather and I don’t have time to do both. I’ll just pick it up tomorrow (a skill I learned and loved from the Shred – finishing is much more important than streaking for me!).

Today was day 3 and I’m starting to see how this might feel – and loving it. It helps that my mom and sis and even a few coworkers are doing it too, and we chat about our favorite parts (and where we think her dog goes when he leaves the screen).

Are you one of the many in this challenge too? Have you set up your own goals for January and 2019? Share and let’s support each other in this bright new year!

Alis grave nil

I just got back from DC (on a 6 am flight because Meg and I are ridiculous) – highlights of my trip including snuggling a friend’s new baby (Ollie!), seeing the Burning Man exhibit at the Renwick (fascinating even if I’m not totally shipping it), and eating breakfast – ok, and then also wine – with Meg at the all-women DC social club, The Wing.

This place is a pastel Instagram dream. I’ve never been into one of the “good old boys” social club but I’ve read about them in many Victorian novels – if they channel a theme as well as this place does, I can completely understand why the chaps would never leave.

From velvety easy chairs to a wicker and pink cafe to phone booths named after feminist badasses, The Wing is a remote workspace, common room, spa, and lecture hall.

It’s a millennial’s paradise – from the avocado toast to the rosé happy hour to the signs everywhere reminding you to register to vote. Plus the “powder room” features luxury hair and body products (for free) and has robes and slippers in addition to usual shower offerings.

My personal favorite: THE LIBRARY. Thousands of books (color coordinated, one of my favorite nonsensical design choices) all by and about women, that you can browse in person or check out for a month at a time. Be still my nerdy heart!

In theory there are plans for a Wing in Boston in the not too distant future. Given how awesomely powerful this space was, I’ll definitely be checking it out when the time comes. And for now I’ll just pop in when I visit Meg and make her borrow #allthebooks on her account.

(There’s a lot more to this idea beyond how beautiful this place is – check it out on The Wing’s website. Their slogan – and this blog title – roughly translates into “Nothing is heavy for those who have wings.”)

The move

On Tuesday, I moved for the first time in 8 years. It. Was. A. Trip. Only emotionally and logistically because my new apartment is a mere mile from the old one, but it has still been my home for nearly the entire time I’ve lived away from my parents, so will take some getting used to.

What I lost

  • A suction cup for the shower caddy
  • The battery to my alarm remote
  • Weirdly large hall closets
  • Cable
  • A 250 step commute

What I gained

  • The ability to sleep with the windows open to the sound of trains and rain (now that I’m not on a first floor facing the street)
  • Built in exercise in the form of stairs and a twelve minute walk to the T
  • Front and back porches
  • An oven that holds a temperature (I hope!? Stay tuned for confirmation)
  • A chance to see all my (TOO MUCH) stuff and start to think critically about how to pare down to what really matters

Do you have any “new home” tips my new roommate Sarah (from Mount Holyoke) and I should take into account for this new place? Share them here!

7 things I learned in 2017

When I saw 2017 from afar, I was terrified. Turning 32, entering the year with a different president than the one I worked so hard for, and an unknown future for us all. Now, as we kick off 2018, I feel more certain that things will be ok – and that we, and I, have the tools we need to build the world we want. Here’s what I learned in 2017 that makes me think that the year ahead will be even better than the last.

  1. There is power in numbers – and in single actions. I cashed in my flight to DC, which I had bought on the idea that I would be joining for a historic female inauguration, and instead my friends and I rallied on the Boston Common on January 20th. What I saw there reminded me that I was not alone in my pledge of #resistance, and that we had the power to change history.  At the same time, my work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Advocacy team showed me that even one phone call can make a difference, when it comes to winning over legislators’ hearts and minds. Individually and together, we can’t stop fighting.16174925_10100337868241235_2668692051169580450_n
  2. Failure is sometimes an option. As if 2016 didn’t teach me this enough, I got a nice big dose of humble pie at my first ever craft fair in November. I was so sure that my state embroideries were going to fly off the shelves, I was mentally calculating everything I would buy with my profits. And then, the fair itself was… terrible. I got to spend two days with my mom and best friend, Katie, but DANG we sold almost nothing. I didn’t even cover my materials with the income I got on those two days. I did get to see some old friends and send some NH love into the world, and then had more luck selling at a gift shop in town, but first I had to be taken down about 5 notches from the success I had pictured. I am very glad we did it – it was important to see what the outcome could be! – but it will be some time until I venture into that realm again. Oof.
  3. You need less than you think. Technically I learned this one twice or three times. The first, when I joined my mom and her friends in a quest to get rid of 465 things in September, as in 1 item on 9/1, 2 on 9/2, etc. I found so much stuff I didn’t need lying around. Previously, I learned this when we went without a fridge for almost two weeks this summer and yet managed to stay alive. And then for a final dose, I learned it again when I lost my wallet in a parking lot over Thanksgiving and had to exist on borrowed cash for two weeks while everything was replaced. My wallet eventually found its way home, but going without taught me a) how much I usually spend and b) how little I actually need.wallet_pic
  4. Never underestimate the power of family. Obviously my life is basically this over and over again but recently I got even more reminders, like when my mom jumped in as my Halloween date when I got ghosted by my planned +1, or when my dad gave me the exact right pep talk at the exact right time, or when my sister and brother-in-law canceled on their New Year’s Eve plans to hang out and play board games with me when I was sick. They are truly the best.
  5. You walk less than you think you do, so keep trucking.  My mom and I got FitBits together and love to use them to challenge each other and track our running and other nerdy things (like which way to the subway is actually shorter). But one thing it showed me is that we walk WAY less than we think we do, and you actually have to work at it if you want to get 10k steps per day while having a full-time desk job. Here’s to hitting my goal more days in 2018!
  6. Eat more vitamins. Just, do it. You’ll feel better. That is all.
  7. There are new adventures in my own backyard. Some of my favorite moments in 2017 were finding new exciting things in places I already loved. That includes a Segway tour of DC (my dad’s birthday gift to me!), an awesome hike in the Whites with my mom, sailboats in the Boston Harbor, walking on the ice at our lake house, hosting murder mystery parties, the epic adventure of officiating my childhood bestie’s wedding on a Cape Cod beach, finding the best Indian food in my sister’s neighborhood… and more! 2017 reminded me that sometimes adventure can be closer than you think. And sometimes, you need to hit a new continent every now and then…


What did you learn in 2017? What are you hoping to learn in 2018?

Happy Mountain Day!

Just when you think the world needs some cheer – it’s literally my birthday and Mountain Day all rolled into one!

Here’s a snap from my latest peak, Mt Pierce. My run this morning (a birthday tradition) wasn’t quite as scenic but it did have beautiful fall morning sun filtered through golden trees. A reminder that even when the world is losing its mind there is beauty to be found, and we can let it inspire us for good.

5 things you learn in a month without sugar

I survived! My month without added sugar is complete – it seemed long at times and then was over in a flash, and I learned a lot in the process. Here are my top five lessons from an optional sugar break:

  1. Just say no. Going into March, I literally didn’t think I could resist having a taste the donuts in the office or the cake at a friend’s house. But midway through the month I found it was getting easier and easier to just say no, just like I would if the treats had walnuts in them (which I’m allergic to). Now I have a sense of how vegetarians can say no to barbecue!
  2. Your taste buds adjust quickly. As promised, I could taste natural sugars better once I cut out the added stuff. And when I did order a butternut squash ravioli at Eataly and it came coated in brown sugar, I felt like I was eating dessert for dinner – where before, that was my baseline. 
  3. Added sugar is everywhere. See above. Sugar is SO hard to avoid (more on this in my last post.) It’s no surprise that our sense of sweet is messed up when you can’t avoid added sugars in your everyday life. It has definitely made me look for ways to find more unprocessed snacks and raw meal options (more balsamic vinegar, less bottled dressing, etc).
  4. Sugar affects people differently. One of the many appealing things about this month was my coworkers’ anecdotes of better sleep, clearer skin, and weight loss. For me: nothing but the taste buds. Maybe that’s because the part of my brain that wanted sugar demanded that I eat more of other food to compensate – maybe it’s just body chemistry. I’m still glad I did it, but it would have been nice to get those other perks too!
  5. Quality over quantity. Now that my sugar free month is over, I am going into the rest of spring with a new focus on eating better sweets / things with added sugar in them. Less junky chocolate and movie theater candy and lame donuts. More treats my friends make or recipes I try myself or treats where the sugar makes it 💯 – and then only a smallish amount. Let’s see how it works!

Have you ever cut added sugar out of your diet? What did you learn?