My Journey #FitnessFriday

When I came up with the topics for my blog I loved every one of them, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was incredibly passionate about #FitnessFriday.

Staying active is my saving grace. It is the only consistent thing that has kept me sane and focused and feeling like I’m really doing something. For the longest time I thought my passion was specially dance. Over the last two years, however, I have been struggling to deal with the fact that I didn’t have that same passion anymore. I still love dance, but it wasn’t in my heart enough o continue to actively pursue it. That’s really hard, and also a story for another week.

Sometimes realizing what you’re most passionate about happens out of nowhere. Somewhere in the last month or so I realized that it was just dance that I was passionate about, it was staying active in general, and the physical and mental health that it brings.

I went from dancing 16-25 hours a week (depending on if there was a musical or not) my senior year of high school to no physical activity at all in college. I was miserable, but I didn’t know my lack of activity was the cause of it. Every break I would go home and go back to my dance studio and I’d be happy again. I began to think that school itself was the reason for my troubles and that caused a whole slew of problems and unnecessary drama. It took a couple years of back and forth from home and school to realize that school wasn’t the problem, it was me.

That seems like a pretty harsh thing to say about yourself, but it’s true. I had spent 15 years of my life being told how to be active in dance classes. I didn’t have the motivation to consistently keep myself going on my own, with no instruction.

The mental health issues that limited physical activity was causing were getting to be too much and I knew something had to change. If I wasn’t going to do it on my own then I would need support. So support I sought out.

I joined two organizations in the past couple of weeks. The first was YogaWorks, a yoga studio chain that has a studio in SoHo, about a 20 minute walk from my dorm. By signing up and paying money in advance, I knew I would have to go to as many classes as possible to get my money’s worth. In my first week as a member I went to 8 yoga or Pilates classes. 8! Each week I create a schedule for myself of what classes I’ll take. That way there’s no, oh I didn’t have time, or oh I forgot kind of excuses. I hold myself accountable for getting to those classes, just like I did in high school.

The second thing I joined I’m super excited about. It’s called CHAARG (check it out here) and it was started by a college student in an effort to find like-minded people who wanted to stay fit and healthy, and is totally the right place for me to be. Unfortunately, my school doesn’t have a chapter but fortunately there is an online chapter called #VirtCHAARG. So I joined up and the immediate love and sense of caring that I saw in all these girls was wonderful. It’s so nice having people to fall back on and who will be there to support you. The site also has a blog with all sorts of features, from food to lifestyle to inspirational stories. I’m really excited to be moving forward with them!

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Here is my beginning picture. Not my before, and there will be no after, just many milestones and updates. This is a never-ending journey.

It’s good to have goals. So out of all this, here are my goals:

  1. Keep continually active in ways that make me happy
  2. Advocate for living an active lifestyle because it promotes physical and mental health
  3. Learn how to do yoga inversions and all those crazy cool poses
  4. Become certified to teach yoga, and do just that

The first two are obviously lifetime goals, things that I will never stop working on. The last two I hope to accomplish by the time I graduate college, or in regards to the certification, soon after.

So I hope you all will follow me here and be inspired to live your life actively. I will also be posting on my special #CHAARG Instagram (@liz_inchaarg_) so make sure to follow me there as well. This is going to be amazing and I am so looking forward to sharing my milestones, my failures, and my stories (past, present, and future) with you all.

Namaste.

I <3 Nail Art #StyleSaturday

I’ve always loved painting my nails and putting on make up and doing my hair. I am definitely a girly-girl when it comes to those kinds of things, and I love it!

I’ve been doing nail art since roughly the 9th grade, but I’m sure I was one creative nail polish painter in my early days. Unfortunately, most of my nail art pictures from early days are not on my current computer, so when I get the opportunity I’ll have to dig them up and do a Top Ten Throwback post or something.

Today I’ll share with you two of my most recent designs. Now I don’t always come up with my own ideas. Pinterest, Instagram, and a Google image search influence what I do a lot. I’ll usually change up the color or something, but I just want to say that I don’t take credit for any ideas (unless I explicitly say).

Negative space nail art is really big current trend and I’m really excited to play with it. I just got some nail stripe tape in, too, so I’m super psyched to see what I can create with that.

Anyways, for my first at negative space (or we could call it blank space…) I tried this look for when I went to the Grammys viewing party.

20150208_192040It was actually fairly simple to execute. I stacked up 10 pieces of masking tape and cut them into triangle shapes so that they would all the same size. In hindsight I wish I had cut them a little thinner so there was more nail polish on each nail.

Then after apply my base coat (Essie Ridge Filling Base coat) I stuck those suckers down. Like I pressed really hard to ensure the lines would be clean. And for the most part they wore. I only needed to do a little clean up with nail polish remover and a thin brush in the correct color.

So then I put on the colors! I used Essie’s Licorice and Cult Cosmetics Breakwater. And then I lifted the tape off and did the clean up.

For my top coat I used the highly praised Seche Vite for the first time. I’m not sure how I personally feel about it yet. Not loving that it cost me $10… and it chipped relatively soon. I had thought I had read that it didn’t chip easily. But I also didn’t reapply every few days. So we’ll see. I did like how shiny it made my nails. Someone even asked if it was gel nail polish. So that’s good.

I’ve also recently tried the water marble trend. I’ve done it twice now, but somehow forgot to take a picture of the second time I did it.

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This is my first attempt. Not too bad for my first try. I don’t remember what colors I used except that there was a white (Essie something), and blue and a silver glittery color. I think it turned out pretty cool.

I used the vaseline trick and that was super helpful. It was also really cold the night I did it so the water wasn’t the most hospitable to the polish and I had to change it out a lot because it kept drying to quickly.

I then tried it a second time with just a maroon-y pink and blue-grey color. That looked even better. I really want to get the technique of swirling and dipping correctly down so I am definitely trying it again.

I realize that a lot of nail blogs post step by step pictures. Maybe that is something I will do to? We shall see. I have an exciting idea to try out for next weeks blog so stay tuned!


Photo Creds: Both by me

Healthy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins #FitnessFriday

So I guess this is a sort of not very fitness-y first #FitnessFriday post. I haven’t quite fleshed out exactly what I want to say on my original idea.

Instead I’ll share with you all one of my favorite muffin recipes! I took this from a recipe on Taste of Home. The original poster said they found the recipe and changed a bunch of stuff. Well I also changed a bunch of ingredients!

I love anything chocolate related so the fact that this was like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in muffin form excited me. Muffins are one of my favorite breakfast foods, all though they’re not the healthiest. I try to alter recipes as much as I can to increase their health factor, such as using whole wheat flour and replacing as much butter as I can. For this recipe I even threw in some flax seed. Then I enjoy them with my drink of choice (usually water) and a bowl of plain Greek yogurt.

Because I currently live in a dorm, I don’t have an easily accessible oven. I am planning on working out a microwaveable single serve version of this!

This recipe will make 12 standard muffins. They also freeze/refrigerate really well, so you could always make a double batch and save some for a morning when you’re in a rush. Feel free to substitute the chocolate chips for whatever you’d like. Blueberries or raspberries would probably be really yummy!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

1/4 cup grape seed oil

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup of your favorite sugar (I use Monkfruit in the Raw)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flax seed

3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate because it’s healthier!)

Directions

1. In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar.

2. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. Combine dry ingredients up to salt.

4. Add alternately with applesauce to the creamed mixture.

5. Stir in oats, flax seed, and chocolate chips.

6. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.

7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 mins.

Sorry I don’t have a picture. Apparently I never took one of these. Next time I make them I’ll update!

On the Town Review #TheatreThursday

On February 4th, 2015 I saw On the Town. Here is my review of the show!

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On the Town: A Helluva Show

By Liz Lombardi

If you look at Broadway these days you’ll find a mix of jukebox hits, blockbusters based on books or movies, and the occasional original show. What you don’t see a lot of is a revival of a classic done in way to entice modern viewers. On the Town does just that.

The show is about how three navy officers (Gabey, Ozzie, and Chip) spend their 24-hour shore leave in New York City. Nothing goes as originally planned and their day turns into a quest to find the girl that Gabey has fallen in love with. Along the way the others find love, but you can be sure chaos ensues with every step.

First produced on Broadway back in 1944, the 1949 movie starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly popularized the show even though the song lists were dramatically different. This current revival is the third in 43 years, and has been the most successful revival to date.

What makes it so successful is how it incorporates the style of a classical musical with flashy props, larger than life sets, and colorful costumes to draw in a younger crowd.

The show itself has music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story, Wonderful Town) and choreography by Joshua Bergasse (Smash, SYTYCD) that was based on the original Jerome Robbins (West Side Story, Gypsy) choreography. It is the movement that really moves the story along in this show.

What many young Broadway goers might not know is that many musicals of the past included ballets, usually of the dream sense, to help convey what a character is thinking in lieu of a lyrical song. They are beautiful to watch, all though if you don’t have at least somewhat of an appreciation for this style of theater you might find yourself wondering why you’re sitting there.

What On the Town did right was casting real ballet dancers in this show. Think people fresh from the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. When the amazing choreography is executed by pros, it is very hard to loose interest in what is going on because of how amazing they are. It is nearly impossible to draw your eyes away from the clean lines and perfectly executed pirouettes.

One of the leading ladies, Megan Fairchild, is a principal with the NYCB and is the perfect fit for her character, Ivy. At five foot three she executes all of her dances with grace and ease, is just beautiful to watch, and can sing to boot! There is so much talent packed into a tiny little body.

The other two leading ladies are equally as talented in their own way. Elizabeth Stanley plays her character, Claire, in such a way that it leaves you guessing as to when she’ll switch back and forth between her prim and proper exterior and boy-crazy mind. Alysha Umprhess is a hilarious Hildy. Her voice is perfect for the role and for the time period of the show. She expertly portrays the heart that Hildy has hidden behind her forwardness. She is sure one to watch for in the future.

The three sailors are also wonderful to watch in their own ways. Tony Yazbeck’s voice is both powerful and emotional portraying lovesick Gabey. Jay Armstrong Johnson is hilarious as Chip, who just wants to see the sights of the city listed in his decades old guidebook. Clyde Alves does a great job of playing smooth Ozzie who wants to see as many women as he can in 24 hours.

This show is perfect for all ages and interests, and is great for stepping back in time to see what this great city was like 70 years ago. Head to the newly renovated Lyric Theatre to catch this show. You can even enter a ticket lottery on the app TodayTix and win $20 tickets. With all the money you saved on tickets, you can splurge on the gelato offered at the coolest concession stand on Broadway.


Photo Cred: Me

My Love Affair with New York City #MondayMusings

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First off… Happy President’s Day! While you’re capitalizing on all the amazing sales don’t forget about those who have founded and/or lead our country.

*Cue awkward segue* 

New York City actually used to be the capital of the United States. Yep, for five years major decisions were made here. The Bill of Rights was even drafted just a few blocks from my dorm at Federal Hall on a little street called Wall St.

Okay, history lesson over. I find things like that interesting. Sorry if you don’t. I hope you’re still reading because the real reason I wanted to post is next.

So as many of you know, NYC is a big, diverse, crazy city. If you can think of it, NYC probably has it. And if it’s not in Manhattan, then it’s probably in one of the other boroughs, or at least on Long Island.

I have always loved NYC. Starting when I was really little I loved it because it’s were the New York City Ballet is, and that was my little-girl dream. In middle school I discovered Broadway and, well, Broadway is a HUGE part of NYC, so obviously I went on to love the city even more. 8th grade was the first time I visited the city and I, of course, fell in love with the little we saw in our two day trip. I visited many times more between then and the first time I lived here, and each time made me love it a little bit more. The song N.Y.C from Annie is a pretty great sum of how I feel.

I hear from a lot of people back home that while they don’t mind visiting, they could never live in the city. I respect that, I just don’t agree with their views of how it’s too crowded or too crazy or too hard to navigate or too expensive. (Wait, I agree with that last one.) And well, if they don’t want to live here that’s fine. More visitors for me, and also more chances at getting a good apartment. (Maybe…)

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Brookfield Place at sunset. Gorgeous.

I also hear from a lot of people here at school that they don’t love the city. That always throws me off because if you don’t love the city what are you doing here? You really can’t thrive here if you don’t love it despite how crazy or crowded or expensive it is. Sure, I have my moments where I’m like “What am I doing here??”, but a lot of those stem from being a bit homesick (I miss my family and my friends from home everyday). And yes, there are things that I could do without. The subway is expensive and sometimes I long for my little Prius C back home because I just don’t want to walk. There are weird smells that just don’t go away. There are crazy (scary) people. In a city of 8.4 million you can sometimes feel totally alone. I could be feeling really bummed out about my life at the moment but then I’ll walk to Brookfield Place or the Brooklyn Bridge or even just past a sign saying “290 Broadway” and I’m like “Woah I live in NYC (on Broadway!) and there are so many opportunities and experiences that I will never have anywhere else and I am so lucky to be here.

I have to remind myself that I can’t take this time for granted. I probably won’t live here forever (All though who knows, I’ve learned not to have any definite plans for the future) so I need to take advantage of everything I possibly can and get out my room and stop watching Netflix from time to time.

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Viewing Party thanks to GrammyU

I get that this time of year is hard. It’s cold and even just taking the subway adds up. But even just taking a short walk around your neighborhood can be good for your opinions on the city. I live for those moments when I get to re-fall in love with NYC. I have the ability to go see a Broadway show on a weeknight. I got to go to the official NYC viewing party for the Grammy’s last week. My banner picture? It’s of a little beach in Brooklyn with a view of Manhattan that I would never know about if I hadn’t been willing to go out and explore. It is now my favorite place outside of Manhattan.

Life in general is about what you make of it. This is even more true in NYC. If you don’t make the effort to experience even a fraction of what this city has to offer then how can you say you don’t love the city? I’d hate the city too if all I did was stay in my room and only go to classes/work.

So if you’re feeling like the city sucks then I challenge you to find at least one thing a week (or a day) that you love about it. If after a month you still hate the city, then maybe you should move (and free up those really great apartments!)

Also please enjoy this clip from the 1999 movie version of Annie.  It has some stellar step dancing and Audra McDonald. She has 6 Tony Awards.


Photo Cred: Top Photo – howdyjeff.com, Bottom Two – My own

Finally! A Plan!

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Not me, but basically.

I have finally figured out how I want to structure this blog. It will definitely be lifestyle-like, but I think there will be a little something for everyone. I’ve decided to categorize what I write into days with corresponding hashtags. Say what you will, but I think it will help keep things organized and hashtags aren’t going anywhere.

Now, I will try to post for each tag every week, but as I’m sure you all understand, life can get in the way. So bear with me. I’m not perfect, no one is.

I don’t even know if anyone reads/follows this blog. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t posted in weeks. Sorry about that, going back to school is always crazy. But this is my space to focus on my writing and my thoughts and my opinions. And while I hope that many people can find at least one thing to connect to in whatever I write, I hope that, to semi-quote Ugly Betty,** this blog will help at least one person.

So here is my current schedule of what I will post and when. I’m sure this will change in the future, but who knows! So feel free to take a look on the days that are of interest of you (But I hope you’ll check out other days, too!)

#MondayMusings – This is where I’ll post about anything not in the other categories, usually thoughts I have about something, probably always pretty personal

#TheatreThursday – Reviews of shows and my thoughts on the theatre world of today

#FitnessFriday – I’m transitioning from dancing almost every day to not really at all, so this is my journey of staying active, plus I’ll probably post recipes of food that is healthy but still tastes yummy! (I’m a picky eater so if I like, you’ll like it)

#StyleSaturday – I love doing nail art and I couldn’t come up with a better hashtag so this is how I’ll share it. Maybe I’ll throw in fashion/makeup/hair?? I’m not really any good at those but we’ll see.

I also really want to do #SundaySweets, but I don’t currently have an easily-accessible oven so that will have to wait for now.

And if you have any suggestions let me know! I’m posting for myself, but I also want you all to enjoy reading what I post!

I’ll be doing a lot of writing this weekend, so tune in next week for my firsts posts with this new system!!

**I tried to find the actual quote, but it’s not streaming on Netflix anymore and a Google search proved fruitless. If anyone knows it, please share!

I Am Emotional… And That’s Okay.

Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”

Roger Ebert

I am emotional. I am a romantic. I love deeply. I care greatly. I don’t think any of those things are something that people should be afraid or ashamed of. However, in today’s society I feel that women especially are supposed to pretend their feelings don’t matter or that romance is just something created in film. And to an extent that’s true, particularly the latter.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I grew up in the arts, and artsy people tend to be more forward and in touch with their emotions, but I prefer to follow my heart, as cliché as that sounds. If I have strong feelings about something, why should I ignore them? Why should I pretend that they don’t exist? Maybe they’re not reciprocated or don’t line up with those of others, but they are still how I feel and aren’t I entitled to feel how I want? How I respond to things is just one of the ways that separates me from other people.

I can think of many examples where I ignored that gut feeling and didn’t act on it. In those cases, be it telling a boy I like him or trying something new, I reasoned with myself and talked myself out of doing said thing. When the opportunity had passed, I always instantly regretted not doing anything. However, things where I have acted upon my feelings nearly always turned out to be a positive experience.

Living in NYC, you would think I’d find block after block of people following their dreams, following their hearts. What I’ve mostly found is unhappy people talking themselves out of doing what they love in order to do something that will eventually allow them to do what they love. Yes, in NY you need to be head smart. But I feel like so many people move there because it’s “where dreams are made of” and then after the initial shock of grandeur end up doing things that don’t fulfill their dreams.

Like the quote above, I find that the more I think about a situation and stress over it the more confused I become. My emotions, however, are always clear. I always feel a certain way about everything, even if I can’t back it up with facts. It’s just something I feel. I remember being in classes like English where you always had to show why you came to that conclusion. I always struggled with that because a lot of the time I didn’t know how I arrived at my thought, I just felt it. I felt that that was what had to be said.

I guess what I’m struggling the most with is if your heart is telling you one thing, but someone’s head is telling you another, what do you do? You’ve already expressed how you feel so are you supposed to pretend that you don’t feel anything even though that would be a huge, painful lie –to yourself and to the other person? Or do you cut that thing out of your life until you don’t feel as strongly about it anymore and then hope you can eventually invite it back into your life?

 

Beautiful Review #TheatreThursday

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I’ve decided that if I post anything theatre related it will be on #TheatreThursday. Theatre is a huge part of my life (which I will explain in an upcoming post). Last semester I had the opportunity to write a review of the Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I then submitted it to a website called Center on the Aisle, where I got a job reviewing NYC based shows. So that’s just one of the exciting opportunities I have in the city.

In honor of the shows 1 year anniversary (which was a few days ago) I thought I’d share my review. This musical surprised me by how much I ended up loving it. It is definitely top three. A real blog post is coming soon!

Liz

Beautiful is “Some Kind of Wonderful”

Liz Lombardi ‘16

Beautiful is not just a musical currently running on Broadway. It is also a word that describes said musical perfectly. I have now been able to see Beautiful the Carole King Musical twice. Both times I woke up early and got to the recently renamed Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Both times I was met with a piece of paper stating that standing room only tickets were available for that day’s performance. Both times I received a ticket for $37 dollars to a show that would change my life.

I had no idea who Carole King was going into this show. Both friends I saw it with were fans of her, though, and Jessie Mueller is the title character (more on her later) so I figured why not? The first song (“So Far Away”) I recognized immediately, as I did with many more in the coming two and a half hours. So did the rest of the audience. I’ll never forget the collective sigh of acknowledgement I heard both times when the opening chords to “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” started playing. Other popular songs include “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Natural Woman,” “On Broadway,” and “The Locomotion.” Yes, you read that right.

It also should be said that I am not a huge fan of jukebox musicals. Sure, they can be entertaining but they’re usually not very moving, and can feel like songs were forced into place because they felt that they needed to include them just for the sake of it. Beautiful, however, defies anything I’ve ever felt about these kinds of shows. Book writer Douglas McGrath did an excellent job connecting King’s life story to the songs she and her friends wrote. Each song blended seamlessly into every scene and furthered the emotion or energy given off by the actors.

The target demographic for this show is people who were growing up during the time period that the show is set in: the 60s and 70s. But don’t let that deter you from seeing this. This is a show that has, refreshingly, not turned to the use of celebrities to grab the attention of a wider demographic. Instead, Roundabout Theatre Company has chosen a cast of extremely talented Broadway performers. No one disappointed, and I could talk for days about how well every cast member, from lead to ensemble, accurately portrayed the lives of people who actually existed.

One who stood out was Jessie Mueller. I saw her for the first time two years ago in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I remember thinking how great she was then, so that, plus seeing her performance on the Tony Awards enticed me to go see this show. And I was blown away. My goodness, Jessie Mueller is a force to be reckoned with. The show takes place over the course of a couple decades and Mueller does a superb job at portraying King’s progression from the young, love struck, collaborative songwriter to the older, seasoned, independent solo artist. I could feel every emotion emanating through her voice. Speaking of her voice, Mueller sounds just like King. Seriously. I listened to a song from King’s record-setting album Tapestry and then listened to the recording of Mueller singing the same song. They are nearly identical. It’s no wonder that Mueller took home this year’s Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She is more than deserving of it.

Beautiful can boast that it won two Tony’s and it was the first show of the 2013-2014 season to recoup its $13 million investment, doing so in just nine months. For reference, most shows never recoup. I would wholeheartedly recommend this show to anyone. I think there’s a little something for everyone in this show. Whether it’s nostalgia of a time gone by or being able to connect to Carole’s passion or struggles though love, this show is a must see. And people must agree with me because it plays to completely or nearly sold-out audiences every night.

As I mentioned before, this show changed my life. It opened me up to the world of Carole King. I left the show feeling like I had grown up with Carole King and it inspired me to learn even more about her. There is a ling from one of King’s songs that has stuck with me to this day and I’d like to share it with you because I think it’s so important for everyone to hear. So, on that note: “You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart.”

Hello.

Hello to you, the reader. Hello to the new year, I can’t believe it’s already a week in. This particular post is probably going to be very cliché, not unlike how I feel my life is going currently, so I apologize in advance if it seems that way to you. I have wanted to start blogging for awhile now, but I could never figure out what to blog about exactly. But the best way to start doing something is to just do it. So instead of sitting around any longer thinking about what put here I decided to just go for it. Hence the name Blank Space. Maybe I’ve been listening to too much T. Swift, but this is going to be space that will probably have a little of everything, so blank space as in a fresh canvas to create. Hmm maybe I’ll change the name later on… I’ve thought about doing a theatre related blog, as well, but maybe I’ll just do a Theatre Thursday feature or something. who knows. I also don’t know how often I’ll post at first. So please bear with me as I work out all the kinks to this blogging thing.

The thought that inspired me to finally write this post? 2014 brought on a lot of change. Some things I welcomed (new friends, a new attitude about school, a new sort-of-job, excelling at my current job) and some things I did not (my like-a-sister best friend getting a job in Europe, the end of my long term relationship that resulted in me loosing my other best friend, various situations that should have turned out differently than they did). Not that I haven’t experienced change in the past, but up until my high school gradation in 2012 my life was fairly consistent. It was after then that I experienced a multitude of huge life/plot twists. I won’t get into those just yet. Perhaps I’ll save them for later. The end of 2014, however, was when I finally learned to accept that change is inevitable and that it only hurts to fight it.

So I am welcoming 2015 with open arms. There are some moments that I’m dreading, but I need to remember that I have a lot of exciting things lined up (biggest of all? TRAVEL!) and I’m sure there will be other things I can’t even dream of that pop up along the way. Here’s to embracing change and staying positive.

Liz