It’s my 27th birthday! To celebrate, I’m looking back on some of my favorite moments from my 26th year. This is a long one, so settle in, grab some popcorn, and take a walk down memory lane with me….
- For my 26th birthday, I went out to dinner with a bunch of girlfriends to Lolita’s on Newbury St. I had been dying to go here-for my past 2 birthdays I tried to go and could never get a reservation. I was so excited to finally be going! We sat down and the waiter came over….I typically like to let servers know about my gluten allergy right away, so I told him and asked him if any of the menu items could be made without gluten. He says, “are you actually gluten-free or are you “gluten-free”(complete with air-quotes)”. “No…” I say, “I’m actually gluten-free…” So he tells me I can get any taco on a corn tortilla instead of flour. So that’s what I asked for. He brings my tacos on flour tortillas. I was annoyed, at this point. It was my birthday and he clearly didn’t care about my dietary needs. I didn’t even want to say anything at this point (we had already asked for GF chips for me), but my friend Jenny had him take it back and bring me what I asked for. I was grateful for her in that moment because I hate doing that! He brought me my corn tortilla tacos and everything was fine. But guess what? I’ll probably never go back there. He basically mocked my dietary needs and made me feel so awkward and awful. Ask any of my friends…I’m not the type of person to make demands in restaurants. I know what I can eat and I usually do always ask, but I also always find something to eat. I’ve never been treated like that over my gluten intolerance. Servers are usually more than happy to accommodate me. Not at Lolita’s, I guess.
- If you know me, you know I have a terrible, terrible fear of dentists. Ever since I was little I’ve always been so scared to go. I get such bad anxiety when I know I have an appointment coming up, and 9 times out of 10 I’ll reschedule it. But my absolute biggest fear was having my wisdom teeth out. My childhood dentist had always told me that they didn’t need to come out, but once I got a new dentist when I moved to Somerville, that was the first thing they recommended (I was having some nerve pain from my impacted bottom teeth). I put it off until I really couldn’t anymore. Once I turned 26, I’d have to be off my parent’s insurance and I knew my work’s insurance wouldn’t cover much of the surgery. So I made an appointment and we decided to do the surgery in March, right before I got kicked off in April. I had my wisdom teeth removed on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. My doctor was great, even as I was having a full-blown panic attack while they prepped me (my HR was over 130…all I was doing was sitting in the chair). My mom brought me and took me home to Framingham for my recovery. I’m so thankful that she was able to do that and that I had no complications…that’s really what I was most worried about! Now, I’m better about going to the dentist. I know nothing can be as bad as having my wisdom teeth out!
- My siblings had some big moments in 2016. My sister made her confirmation, with our Aunt Sandy as her sponsor. Her high school (my alma mater) also came in first place at METG State Finals, which is a drama competition. It was pretty cool, since the last time they won I was her age…10 years ago! My brother graduated from his master’s program at Bentley University, and started working full-time for EY here in Boston. So proud of both of them for accomplishing so many amazing things!
- It’s no secret that my boyfriend, Tim, and I love the Boston Red Sox. We had so many fun times at Fenway Park last spring and summer! It was Big Papi’s final season, so it was a little bittersweet. Papi is my favorite player of all time, so I was pretty emotional when it was time for him to play his final game. I’ll never forget his speech after the Boston Marathon bombings. I feel so lucky that I was able to see him play so many times. You’ll be missed Papi!
- I got to spend a lot of quality time with my mom last year. I feel like I’ve definitely gotten closer to her as I’ve gotten older. And now that she knows how to text, we talk almost every day! 😛 Last year we went to two different museum exhibits that were about the art of shoes…specifically high-heeled shoes. They were very cool. I love my heels, I have way too many pairs for someone who spends most of her time in sneakers! Any chance I get to dress up and throw some heels on, I’ll take it! These exhibits we went to showed heels throughout history, how they are made, all the different types, and all different designers. My favorite part was seeing a pair of Lady Gaga’s heels up close. I would kill to get a chance to walk around in those!
- I have this secret/not so secret side passion: photography. I don’t have a fancy camera, and I’ve never taken a class about it, but I love walking around the city and taking pics on my iphone. And they turn out pretty great! I’ve learned how to use different apps to edit them and I have about 30 printed out that I want to hang in a gallery wall in my next apartment. I’ve thought about starting an Etsy page or selling my prints on Instagram or something, but I haven’t made any moves on that yet. Maybe that’s something I can work on in my 27th year!
- One more quick story about my sister, Catherine. She went to her very first prom last year, as a sophomore (not bitter). One of her senior friends from drama company invited her. When I first found out that my mom had a baby girl 16 years ago, I started dreaming about the day she would go to prom. I loved the proms I went to, and it’s so fun getting pampered and glammed up. I did her make-up for the big night, and I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. She wouldn’t let me do her hair-I guess I don’t blame her, I probably wouldn’t have trusted anyone but a hairstylist either! I went with her to the photos and it was so fun to see everyone. It took me back, that’s for sure! She looked gorgeous, and it was so fun sending her off. I won’t be there for her junior prom this year, which I’m sad about, but I can’t wait to see the pictures!
- Tim got me tickets to Cirque de Soleil for my birthday, but the show wasn’t until June. It was called “Kurios: Cabinet des Curiosites”, and it was modeled after an old-school circus/freak show. It was so cool. I’ve seen Cirque a few times, but it was Tim’s first time and he had no idea what to expect. I think he liked it though! It was definitely an awesome gift!
- I made so many amazing memories with my friends last year. I feel like I have a very small, but very close group of best friends. Four of us, Ari, Michaela, Nikki, and Shari, went to the cape for a weekend in July. Nikki has been in vet school in Ireland for the past 4 years, so we don’t get to see her often. This was literally her only free weekend all summer and I’m so happy she was able to join us! I think it was also one of the first times her and Shari were meeting-I think they met once before. We didn’t have great beach weather, so we spend one day doing a wine tasting in Truro and then spending the afternoon in Provincetown. It was so, so fun! I love it when we can all get together. And soon Nikki will be home for good!
- My apartment is a really old, triple deckah in Somerville. I live on the 3rd floor with 3 other roommates (4 of us total). Our house has really bad circulation, so in the winter it’s freezing and in the summer it’s unbearably hot. We technically aren’t allowed to have A/C units, according to our lease, so none of us had one last summer. I had a window fan and a stand-up fan in my room and it still didn’t really help. I was rarely home during the hottest time of the day, so it never really was an issue…until I was. One Saturday, Tim was going golfing and Shari and I were going kayaking on the Charles. We went in the morning, because it was supposed to be a really hot day. Afterwards, we got ice cream before I went home. My apartment was about 80 degrees inside. Opening windows didn’t help and the fans were blowing hot air. I was home alone and just melting into my bed-I was too hot to even move. That’s when I started to feel sick. I stood up to go to the bathroom, blacked out, and came to on the floor. I could barely stand, I was shaking, I was dripping sweat, and I had to get to the bathroom. I crawled there. I was freaking out-I thought I was getting heat stroke or something. I called my mom and Tim and my brother but no one could get to me quickly. I was panicking. I knew something was wrong because I was sobbing and I couldn’t stop. Tim finally was able to come pick me up to bring me home to Framingham. While I waited for him I took a freezing cold shower, which helped. Once I was in his air conditioned car, I started to feel better. I never went to the hospital, so I don’t really know what happened but I definitely over-heated. I hope that never happens to me again, because it was so scary!
- 2016 was the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service. The beaches we go to on the Cape are National Seashore beaches: Nauset Light Beach, Coast Guard Beach, and Marconi Beach. All the NPS beaches had these cool little frames where you could take pictures all summer. I wanted to find all of them on the cape, but we only were able to find two. While I was there on my vacation (more on this below), we went to the birthday celebration of the parks at Race Point Beach in Provincetown. I feel very lucky to have grown up going hiking at various national parks in New England. My dad loves outdoor activities and as much as I complained as a kid, I’m glad we spent a lot of time outside! I feel like I have a personal connection with those parks and those beaches, so it was very cool to have at least a little part in their centennial celebration.
- I planned my first-ever bachelorette party last year, for one of my best friends Jill. The planning was a team effort with the bridesmaids and I think we did a pretty great job! The bachelorette and bridal shower were in the same weekend, because the entire wedding party (except me) was traveling for them. One girl from North Carolina, one from South Carolina, one from Florida, and one from Seattle! We all got together at Jill’s house Friday night for a little slumber party and last minute planning. Saturday morning was her bridal shower that her mom and two sisters (the MOHs) planned. From there we traveled to Boston for the bachelorette! Jill had told me that she wanted to see some kind of male strip show, so we went to Men in Motion and then out to a bar afterwards. We stayed at Boston Park Plaza, which was soooooo nice! I think everyone had a good time and we made some great memories.
- Last summer, I took my first week-long vacation. I’ve never had a job where I can earn PTO before this one (most training jobs you make your own schedule-if you want time off you don’t get paid). My family takes 2 weeks every summer to spend on the cape, one in the beginning of summer and one at the end. I saved my days so that I could take a week off in the summer and a week off around Christmas. I’m so happy I did that. Being on the cape with my family and not worrying about work brought me back to my childhood. I don’t even remember the last time I spent an entire week on the Cape before then! Taking time off is so necessary for your mental health. It was such an amazing week and I am so thankful I was able to take that week off.
- I met a lot of new people last year, and I expanded my friend circle. My friends and I always make the “no new friends” joke, because it really seems like we do everything together. But I was happy to spend more time with Tim’s friends last year, and meet new people that I “knew” from social media. I hope to spend even more time with these people in my 27th year. They say your circle gets smaller as you get older, but I think it’s the opposite!
- I love summer and the beach, but fall is my absolute favorite time of year. Going apple picking, carving pumpkins, eating fall foods, smelling falls scents, drinking apple cider….I love it all. I feel like fall is really when I’m in my element. This may stem from the “new beginnings” mindset that I had in my childhood. Fall always meant a new year at school, new clothes, new school supplies. To this day, I always try to change one big thing in my life in the fall to feel like I’m still having some kind of new beginning. Two years ago, I redecorated my room. This year, I got two new roommates!
- Halloween is my favorite holiday. Hands down. I’ve always loved dressing up and pretending to be someone else. I’m the girl that trick-or-treated as a senior in high school, and had 3 different costumes every year in college (imagine my delight when I found out that Halloween goes on for DAYS in college!) I somehow ended up dating someone who hates Halloween…not sure how that happened haha! Tim agreed to do Halloween with me every other year. Two years ago we were Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity from Friday Night Lights, so this year he sat it out and didn’t dress up or come out with me at all. Don’t worry, I have big plans for us for this coming Halloween! I did two nights of dressing up this year. The first night, Michaela was having a party at her apartment and I dressed up as an 80s aerobics instructor. The second night I went to another house party with Michaela that one of her co-workers was hosting. I dressed up as a the deer filter from snapchat (it’s my favorite filter). Since Halloween was on a Monday this year, I also wore my pumpkin shirt at work that day…that counts as a third costume, right? Can’t wait for this year!! (243 days but who’s counting?!)
- Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty crafty. I love doing projects, arts and crafts, and creative things. I love making things myself. I really wanted a bar cart for our apartment, and I had my heart set on this gorgeous gold and marble cart that was well over $400. I knew I couldn’t justify buying it, so I decided to craft my own. I bought a plain white cart from Ikea that cost $29.99, marble contact paper from Amazon that cost $6, and gold spray paint from A.C. Moore that cost $3/can (I got 2 cans). I spent a rainy Saturday spray painting the legs out on my deck, then covering the shelves with the contact paper. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for this project. I thought it would look really cheap but I was BLOWN AWAY with how good the cart came out! Like…it looks real. It looks just like the one I was crushing on. The marble looks real, and the gold paint is perfectly shiny. I’m super proud that I was able to do this project for less than $50, and now I have a cart that I’ll be able to use for years! Also: those tissue paper garlands? Yeah those go for up to $30 on etsy! Tissue paper costs $1. I made that garland for about $5, and I’ve made a few since! They’re so easy to make. Seriously, you guys, don’t buy those. If you ever want one I will gladly make one for you!
- WEDDING WEEKEND!!!! Jill’s wedding was Columbus Day Weekend, in October. This was my first “friend” wedding, and the second time I was a bridesmaid! The whole weekend is a whirlwind. Friday was spent at the nail salon before the rehearsal dinner, and then movie night with the bride (we watched Runaway Bride). Saturday morning (wedding day!), we went to the hair salon bright and early and then off to the hotel to finish getting ready. We headed to the venue in the early afternoon for pictures and then to get ready for the ceremony! Jill got married at Shaker Hills Country Club, right at the first tee on the golf course. It was beautiful. The weather as perfect-not too hot and not too cold, and just a little overcast (which was good-no squinting from the sun in photos). Tim came as my plus-one and I’m so glad he was able to be there. We danced the night away at the reception in the ballroom at Shaker Hills, and Jill looked absolutely beautiful. She and Chad are such a great match, and I wish them a lifetime of love and happiness! I’m so happy and honored that I got to be a part of their special day. It’s a weekend I will never forget!
- If you’re as into Harry Potter as I am, you know that last year, JK Rowling released some short stories regarding magic in America. She stated that the American School of Magic, called Ilvermorny, is located on top of Mount Greylock….which is right by where Tim is from in Western Mass!! Tim and I spent a weekend in Pittsfield in the fall, where we drove up to the top of Greylock, admiring the fall foliage along the way. I didn’t think there would be anything up there about Ilvermorny, but there was! I obviously was so excited and had to take a picture next to the sign. It was pretty cool! And the leaves and view were soooo pretty.
- When I was in college, I was a member and on the executive board of Colleges Against Cancer. I’m still very passionate about cancer research and using exercise as a recovery and treatment tool. I’ve always had really long hair, but in college I decided that I wanted to donate my hair. I donated twice in college and twice after college, the most recent time being this past November. I don’t always have the ability to donate money, so I think donating my hair is the next best thing. I decided to go with a charity that I had never donated to before-Wigs 4 Kids. It’s such a great feeling knowing that my hair will help make a wig for a child in need. I’m already growing my hair out for my next donation!
- I’m lucky that I got to see my friends from Ithaca multiple times last year. I sometimes only see them once a year, and I hadn’t seen my friend Drew in three years! Over the summer, Parker, Darin, Billy, Molly, and I (and Tim and my brother), met up on the beach on the Cape. Drew came up to Boston for Cortaca weekend, and Parker and Darin came up to Boston a few weeks ago to see her brother who goes to Umass Boston. It’s so great to see everyone and get everyone together…although we are still missing a few people, I enjoy every minute I spend with them. Can you believe my 5 year college reunion is this year?!
- Spending time with my family is so important to me. That’s why I love the holidays so much. I get to spend time with the people I don’t get to see that often. And we get to see my grandfather. My grandpa is in his 80s, and he’s the only grandparent I have left. Sometimes it’s tough seeing him, because I know he’s lonely, but I also know that he loves seeing his family (even when he doesn’t act like it). He’s had a hard few months, but he’s the strongest, most stubborn Italian man I know. He’s not afraid to tell us how it is and call his sons (my dad and uncles) pissahs. I cherish every moment I get to see him, because you should never take those moments for granted.
- My second vacation last year was really more of a “staycation”. I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work. This was another thing I was saving my days for…I haven’t had that time off since I was in college. I believe that everyone should get that week off…even though I know that’s not possible. Before I had that week off, I worked over 60 hours covering for my boss while he took his holiday vacation…let’s just say I needed a vacation! It was so relaxing and fun to do things with my family like I was back in school again. We went to museums (the second shoe exhibit that I mentioned above was one of them), we cooked, we shopped, and we went to Eataly in Boston! I hope I can do this every year.
- I vowed to try new things last year, but I have to admit I didn’t do a very good job of following through. I did do a few things though. I learned how to golf (attempted), I went cross country skiing, and I went ice-skating twice. Tim is all about the outdoor activities. He’s such an amazing skier and I’m just terrified of downhill skiing! We went to Killington for New Year’s, so I convinced him to go cross-country skiing for a day with me. It was hard! But we had a great time!
- My friends and I enter about 20 instagram contests a week, but I rarely win anything. Michaela is like, the instagram contest queen! She wins so many things! Last year, I actually did win 3 pretty big ones! I won a gift card to Sally Beauty along with some skincare products, 4 ice skating passes to Boston Winter, and tickets to Boston Wine Expo along with a sterling silver necklace from Lola Pendants. The wine expo one was definitely the sweetest…the prize package was worth over $600! I’ve been feeling pretty lucky after all that winning, and I’m for sure NOT going to stop entering these contests!
26. In April 2016, I set a goal for myself to maintain my ‘competition weight’ and stay within 5 pounds of it. I compete in the 114 weight class, so this meant staying between 109-119 lbs. The first few months I mainly focused on getting my weight down to that…I was typically sitting at around 125 pounds. After I got down and maintained it for a month, I started focusing on building my strength at a lower body weight. I wrote an entire blog about this, which you can read here. I’m super proud to say that, almost a year later, I not only maintained my body weight within 5 pounds of 114, but I also lost a considerable amount of fat and am currently the strongest I’ve ever been at the lightest body weight I’ve ever been since I started powerlifting 5 years ago. Most importantly, I’m learning to love my body and become confident in my own skin. ***important: if I didn’t compete in a sport that uses weight classes, I would not give a damn about the number on the scale. You shouldn’t either. Don’t ever let the scale define you.***
I’d be lying if I said 26 was a great year for me. It wasn’t. I had a really hard time, actually. But looking back at all these happy memories makes it seem not so bad. I recently found out that I have a thyroid issue, and just started taking medication for that…which explains a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately. I LOVE my life. I love my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my apartment, my lifestyle….I know I am totally blessed in so many ways. Now, I’m ready to get my health on the right page and hopefully start feeling more like my old self! I’m extremely optimistic about this year…there are a lot of exciting things in the works. I can’t give everything away, but one big thing that’s coming up is mine and Tim’s trip to Ireland! We’re going at the end of March and I cannot wait!
You may have noticed, none of the above memories have anything to do with fitness. 2016 was the first year that I did not compete in a powerlifting competition. This was a year of rebuilding for me. I have big plans for age 27, but I’m happy that I was able to focus more on LIFE last year.
If you made it this far, congrats! That was a really long post, but I loved looking back on my 26th year. Getting older isn’t scary. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me now that I am 27 years old.