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Weekend Happenings: there’s a carrot in my taco

Happy Memorial Day, folks! I hope you’re starting your day with some exercise, followed by a big ol’ cookout and time spent with friends and family.

I’m grateful to live in a country where people have fought for my freedom. I was just watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and on this particular episode they went to Myanmar. It’s unbelievable the restrictions and censorship that still exist well into the 21st century. I definitely take liberty for granted sometimes, so it’s good to stop, pause, and remember those who cared so much about defending freedom that they died.

The weekend started early with our Girls On The Run Community Impact Project. The girls decided to raise money for PAWS by hosting a bake sale during their lunch periods. I went to the school early Friday morning to drop off cookies and help set up

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Impressively enough, the girls raised $430! I’m thinking there were some overly-generous parents, otherwise there may be some new cases of diabetes at that school. However it happened, it was exciting to see how into it the girls got. We’re hoping to go to PAWS this week to drop off the check and really show the girls how to impact their community from start to finish.

Friday night was low-key because I had to be up early Saturday morning and lead run club for the store. My alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning and I immediately started thinking of all the excuses I could come up with to skip the run. Alas, I was feeling to mature and responsible so I was out the door in ten minutes and on the path.

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Even though it was early in the day, it was hot as hades. Within the first mile I was sweating like a chicken on a rotisserie. My running partner had some sage advice for me that I’ll definitely remember next time: “If you’re not cold when you leave the house for an morning run, you’re going to be too hot.” Preach, Tommy, preach. I felt like an Amish woman covered from head to toe, and was not pleased.

The only solution was to 90s-it-up and tie my jacket around my waist. High-fashion rolling, that’s for sure.

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I’m so happy that I womaned up and completed the run. The best part about running groups is they keep you going, that’s for sure. I know I would have walked a portion of the 7 miles due to the heat but, being the competitive spirit I am, I didn’t want to in front of the other runners. Success.

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The views always keep me going too. Chicago comes alive in the summer.

I took the whole weekend off of work and made the most of it. After some stretching and icing, I made breakfast and then Megan and I sat outside on our porch in the sunshine.

unnamed (5)Scrambled eggs, strawberries, and a Kodiak cake.

Later we walked to the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival to enjoy that classic festival vibe: free music, expensive beer, cheap clothes and jewelry, and fried food.

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We enjoyed some cinnamon-sugar mini donuts, 312s, and live music. Even though it was a No Doubt cover band (I do NOT like Gwen Stefani) it felt like the official start of summer. And that felt great.

Dinner was out in the Wicker Park neighborhood where I met up with some of my coworkers. Big Star is known for its margaritas and summer patio scene, so when you venture out there, you can expect at least a two hour wait.

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We waited about an hour and a half for our table and then immediately ordered a pitcher of margaritas and some snacks.
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The guacamole and margaritas are my favorite things at Big Star, but since it was a long day and I was hungry, I tried a few of their tacos. I’d had the fish and pork shoulder taco before, but this time I tried some newbies:

  • Taco de panza: crispy, braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion, cilantro
  • Taco de pollo pibil: chicken thighs steamed in banana leaves, achiote and citrus marinade, pickled red onion, cilantro
  • Taco de zanahorias: mole spiced carrots, chipotle date yogurt, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almond, cilantro

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I loved the chicken and pork, but the carrot one (on the far right) as extremely underwhelming. The waitress said it was her favorite…further proving that I will I never be a vegetarian. Nothing can compete with meat.

After a busy weekend, I made a last-minute decision to go home and spend some time with my family. I tried to stay away for awhile but I just like those people way too much. So I had a lazy Sunday, capped off with a movie I’ve been wanting to see.

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I feel like everyone can relate to this movie somehow. It definitely struck a chord in my heart.

Questions:

  • What’s the longest you’ll wait for a table at a restaurant?
  • How are you celebrating Memorial Day weekend?
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Summer Lovin’ (tell me more, tell me more)

I’ve been spending every free minute outside. Between the warm air, the cool breeze, and the sunshine inching later and later into the evening, I feel like I’m smack dab in the middle of July. No complaints here!

I said yes to a last minute invitation to the White Sox game Wednesday night. I hadn’t been since it was Comiskey Park (sup 1996) so venturing to the South Side felt like an adventure in and of itself.

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I had zero expectations of a White Sox game since I am a Cubs fan (only because of the Americana aspect, not because I actually have any interest in or intelligence of baseball), but it was fun! It was fairly crowded for a Wednesday night and I joined my roommate Colleen and two of her friends for what turned out to be an exciting game. Granted, I didn’t watch much, but the conversation and food were killer.

U.S. Cellular Field definitely has its food priorities in order. So. Many. Options. From Wao Bao to Hooters, tamales to pirogi, the options were overwhelming. In an attempt to stay on track with my healthy eating, I ordered a turkey sandwich. When you see the following picture, remember the ingredients are healthy. Please ignore the fact that my sandwich could feed a family of four.

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Hell yeah! This turkey club was the Buckingham Palace of turkey clubs. There was APRICOT JAM on it. AND guacamole. And other stuff. Too much other stuff. No wait…no such thing.

#noregrets

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You know how as soon as you eat something salty you just have to have something sweet? Insert soft serve cone here.

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And because apparently we weren’t spoiled enough on Wednesday with nice weather, Mother Nature decided to grace us with the best day in the past 365 days (I’ll go head-to-head with anyone who challenges that) yesterday. Thank goodness because I had a track workout scheduled and I was not about to deal with Tuesday’s fog again.

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This is what I love about Chicago. In the shadows of buildings as tall as the sky, you can always find hidden parks, and it suddenly feels like your own little haven. Not to mention I always run into someone I know — Erin came to the workout! I was so happy to see her, especially after getting smoked on Tuesday during the tempo run. It felt good to see a familiar face! Or should I say, familiar feet.

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We started out with a half-mile shakeout followed by dynamic stretching and an explanation of the workout. The track workout consisted of 5x400s (400m=one lap) and a timed mile run. The 400m were broken up into 200m at 5K pace (uncomfortable, challenging) plus a 200m recovery jog to get our heart rates back down. Practicing that pace took so much out of me–I was exhausted! However, I had no choice but to recover for five minutes and then pushed it for a timed mile, something I haven’t done in years. To put that in perspective, the last time I was timed for a mile, George W. Bush was President. Let that sink in. I ran in 8:16, which, while isn’t Olympic by a longshot, is an exciting place to start. Dave, the running coach and marathoner extraordinaire (remember when he ran 100 miles in 24 hours??) is going to take my time and develop a pace chart for me to use during training. That way, I’ll be on top of improvements and will be able to continue to push myself.

Group shot!

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As I lay my head on my pillow last night, I realized I have barely been in my apartment in the past 72 hours. I never used to be an outdoor person, but now that I live on my own and am 100% in charge of how I spend my time, you can bet I’ll be using my apartment as a homebase to cook and sleep, but that’s about it for the next few months. HELLO SUMMER!

It’s almost time: time for street festivals, free concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion, movies in the park overlooking Lake Michigan, the Lakeshore Path so jam-packed with people that you almost want to get mad (but you can’t because you’re too excited to share the joy with them), strolling the Green City Farmer’s Market at 9am scoping out the best breakfast taco to eat, maneuvering Divvy bikes down busy city streets because the thought of getting on the stuffy CTA is unbearable, parking yourself on a patio and drinking a fizzy cocktail for hours until the sun goes down, walking to the beach at 10am and staking your claim on a patch of sand until someone asks you to join their volleyball game, grilling out on makeshift patios…….

Can you tell I love the possibility this summer holds?

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I’m headed to Madison with my family for Mother’s Day Weekend tomorrow! Get ready to see pictures from the most beautiful farmers market in the world.

Questions:

  • If you had to pick ONE activity to do every day this summer, what would it be? Just one! Run, drink sangria, pet a koala…go!

Leave Your Ego Behind

It’s officially that time of year.

The air is fresh, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the paths are cleared.

It’s running season. For real this time.

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No more “I wonder if it might start snowing” or “The temperature went up 20 degrees in the past five minutes. Sure wish I didn’t wear two layers!” garbage running that’s been thrown our way thanks to some split personality weather. Things have calmed down and now “The Weather” is only 60% of daily conversation here instead of its usual 85%.

Since I have committed to two races so far (half marathon in July and marathon in October) I figured it was time to lace up the ol’ Asics and hit the trails. I’m working as a run coach for our store so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next few months I’m committed to running my butt off (having others hold you accountable helps out a lot). Yesterday was our first run as a group (tempo), and I learned a very valuable lesson:

In order to accomplish your goals, you have to start at day one. On day one, you are a novice. You will get smoked. And you’ll hate it. But you have to leave your ego behind.

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I’m not used to being bad at things. That’s not to say I’m not bad at anything, but anything I haven’t excelled at I’ve quit, so as not to humiliate myself. And I can’t say for sure that I’m “bad” at running. But it certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I dreaded the mile run all throughout school. One mile. I picked it up as something to do to stay in shape during college. It wasn’t a competition, because it was just me and the sidewalk.

When I run, I run lazy. That is, I run for fun. I usually set out to do anywhere from 4-6 miles at a ~9:15 pace. I have never done speedwork, tempo runs, fartlek, or anything like that. I honestly don’t even know what those words really mean. And even though I consider myself a runner, I had a pretty huge shock waiting for me today at our first group run.

The ten of us met at the store and started a quick warmup. I was feeling confident and strong, until the tempo run began. We were instructed to run 20 minutes out, 20 minutes back, for a total of 40 minutes. The first ten were a warmup pace (aka our normal pace, which for me hovers around 9:15), and the second ten were supposed to be a pace 30 seconds faster than normal. The third chunk of ten minutes was a pace 45 seconds faster than our base pace, followed by a cooldown ten at our warmup speed.

Sounds simple enough, right? I thought so too. Until we took off and I realized five of the ten runners were pacing 6min miles.

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See that group in front of me? That’s how far behind I was. At that was the closest gap I had the whole run.

The feeling of watching people run faster and further away from you SUCKS. It’s completely out of your control. You’re only as fast as you are in that present moment. No matter how quickly I moved my legs or swung my arms, there was no way I was going to catch up. I was so, so angry at myself. I gave it everything I had and didn’t even care that I was basically wheezing and dry heaving as I passed other runners. In the end, I ran those 5 or so miles at an incredibly fast speed….for me. My splits ranged between 8:28 and 8:45. I was damn proud!

The moral of the story? Everyone starts somewhere. This is my first marathon. This is the first time I’ve ever viewed running as a competition. I didn’t casually meander onto my Varsity basketball team in high school. I spent years in the gym learning the game, practicing  moves, and mastering fundamentals. Running is no different. It is my new sport, my new team. The team just happens to be me, myself and I. And right now I just have to leave my ego behind, accept that for now I am slower than many other runners, and be excited to get better.

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That’s where I am right now. I feel like a sponge, ready to soak up all the running information. I’m excited to get better. I’m tired of only doing things I’m good at. Because when you do that, you don’t grow. I’m proud that I set a goal that will actually be difficult to accomplish, and you know what? I might fail. I’ve never set a goal before that I might fail.

Have you?

But so what? So what if I fail? Who is that hurting? My ego? A figment of my imagination? WHO CARES! I read a quote the other day that resonated with me then and even more now that my ego is feeling pretty bruised:

The ego desires perfection. The inner-self lives in authenticity

Even though we are all at different paces and have different goals, we are all on the same path. At the end of our run we were all back on equal footing in our dedication, passion, and love for the sport.

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That being said, if anyone in Chicago is looking for a running group, we meet at the lululemon Rush store in the Gold Coast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and Saturday mornings at 7am. Tuesdays are tempo runs, Thursday is speed work, and Saturday is a long run. I’d love to share the joy of running with you 🙂

metta movement chicago: #100miles100smiles

Lately I have been incorporating more yoga into my life. Not just the physical poses but the mental and emotional dedications that it calls out of you. And while I’m still getting the hang of the physical aspect, I can’t begin to tell you how much happier I am when I take moments every day to move closer to a yoga state-of-mind.

In yoga there is a deeply rooted belief in giving without expectation. This is one of the most beautiful phrases to me and, coincidentally, one of my greatest challenges. I always, always, always give with expectation. I am loyal and am always thinking two steps ahead about how to add a little sunshine to someone’s day. I love people and so I find myself thinking about them more than the average person (or so I think). Unfortunately, in the past, this has been met with very high expectations in return. When people don’t return the, for lack of a better word, favor, I get disappointed and hurt. It has affected many of my relationships in many different ways. That being said, sometimes our greatest weaknesses can transform into our greatest strengths once we identify them, and thanks to yoga and the philosophies surrounding the practice, I have been able to face that weakness head on and work on it.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: I’m extremely lucky to work for a company that not only exemplifies a healthy outlook on life but fosters this kind of personal development. And beyond individual well-being, lululemon athletica is dedicated to social health as well.

Every year lululemon provides funds to support community projects that contribute to social and environmental health. This is called the “Metta Movement”

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Metta

the idea of generating love and happiness for others

an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest

the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others

This year is my first year participating in our Chicago-area Metta Movement, and I couldn’t be more excited to share the details with you! (I’m looking at you, Suzy, Bethany, Amy and all my other Chicago-area bloggers!)

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This Friday (November 7th) lululemon athletica Chicago will be hosting our first ever 24-hour event to raise funds and awareness for Smile Train, an organization dedicated to providing free, safe surgery for children in developing countries with cleft lip and/or palate. David Coligado, one of our store ambassadors, was inspired after a trip to South Africa where he saw how poverty has affected how the other half live. A particularly saddening fact is that physical deformities can affect children for the rest of their lives, not only physically but socially. For example, every baby born in Uganda with a cleft is given the name Ajok which means literally, “cursed by God,” with some newborns killed or abandoned right after birth. What people don’t know, however, is that any child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes. That is life-changing for a child in a developing country, and a goal that Dave literally wants to run for.

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Through this year’s Metta Movement, we, alongside Dave, are hoping to raise $25,000 for Smile Train.  Dave is, in a word, a superstar. He will be running on a treadmill in our store window for 24 hours — with the goal of running 100+ miles.

**drops the mic**

No, he’s not a robot but he’s as close to superman as I’ve ever seen.

In order to give him the most support, love, and gratitude, we are opening the doors of our Rush/Walton location this Friday night at 8pm after our normal shopping hours are done and throwing a party all night! That’s right, as he runs into the wee hours of the night, we’ll be hosting an event unlike anything we’ve ever done before! From appetizers (by Graham Elliot) and improv, to neck massages, flash tattoos, silent auction and everything in between, the night is going to be a blast! And that’s not even the best part: we are hosting workout classes in our store ALL NIGHT. Ever wanted to try Shred415?  Head on over to lululemon on Rush/Walton at 1:15am for a free class (yupthat’srightfreeeee). Boot camp? No problem. See you at 2:15am. Hip hop yoga? 5am it is! And if you’re just a crazy person and want to jump in the lake with Dave and all of us crazy educators, we’ll be jumping in Lake Michigan at the end of the event! Because, I don’t know, I think Dave might need an ice bath after that. Just sign up!

If you’re not from Chicago you are still MORE than welcome to support Dave in any way you can – thoughts, prayers, vibes, or heck, your wallet. Whatever strikes your fancy. Just visit his site – get to know him a little better. He’s a Chicago gem.

We are crazy-excited to help Dave reach his goal so that he can travel overseas this December and personally deliver a check to the Smile Train medical team. I mean, how often do you get to be so directly involved with changing the lives of one person, let alone a hundred children?!

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Please feel free to reach out to me via email {ihadabiglunch@gmail.com} if you have any questions or want more information about this amazing event Friday night! You know you wanna go 🙂 It’s like having a slumber party, but with all the other fitness freaks of the world. Can I get an amen?

Here’s the final schedule – take a look!

unnamed (11)**This post is composed of all my own thoughts and opinions about this event – it does not come from lululemon athletica.

CARA 20 miler, Taco Fest, and Accountability

What started on Friday night as a “Holy crap I’m burned out someone get me a glass of wine” kind of weekend turned out to be jam-packed with fun. I honestly didn’t want to leave my house after getting home Friday night. I had grand plans of seeing a cover band and causing all-around shenanigans but I ended up parked on my couch sending out depressing snapchats about the whole ordeal.

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Yes I took a screenshot of my own snapchat. I now know how to save it, so no need to educate me. I am technologically challenged.

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Saturday was the usual run, eat, work, but I did have a chance to go out with some friends that night which was fun. I was NOT happy about my 5:30am wake-up call on Sunday morning but hey, sometimes you have to sacrifice sleep in order to pretend you still have a social life.

Sunday was where the real action happened.

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I was a lululemon representative at the 20 miler that the Chicago Area Runners Association puts on every year a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon. We all arrived at 7:00am to set up our signs, our tent and our freebies for all the runners. First of all, it was COLD. I ran to my car for five minutes at least three times that morning just to warm up. In related news it was 85 degrees in Chicago on Saturday. So, let me just tell you, if the apocalypse starts somewhere, I promise you it’s going to be in the Windy City.

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Despite the weather, it was a beautiful day. A few of us cheered on the runners (my favorite job!) while others handed out wet towels with eucalyptus oil on them for relaxation after the run. Others were stationed at the lululemon tent, handing out flip flops, CRAZY good granola, and foam rollers to borrow. Bethany, did you come try to find me? I heard someone was asking for me so if it wasn’t you I’m worried I might have a stalker 😉

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I’m not a member of CARA because I haven’t lived in the city permanently for a long enough time that it seemed like a good idea, but let me tell you: I love that group. The energy, the love of running, the people…it’s overwhelming! I had so much fun watching people of all different shapes, sizes and ages cross the finish line, having just accomplished a 20 mile run – and whether it was their first or their 40th, you could tell that every runner was so proud of themselves. I was so happy to be a volunteer!

That afternoon I made my way north of the city for Lakeview Taco Fest, where I probably brushed paths with Amy without even noticing. I still can’t believe we keep missing each other!

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The highlight was the free wine tasting sponsored by Cupcake Wines at the beginning of the festival. I tried their prosecco (can’t go wrong) and a red velvet red, which wasn’t my favorite but my friends all agreed it’s now their new go-to red. Plus it was basically a wine truck – how much better does it get than that?

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Korean smoked pork taco from Toons Bar & Grill

Korean smoked pork taco with Asian slaw from Toons Bar & Grill – tie for first place! Deeelish

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company - my favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming.

Smoked Chicken Taco from D.S. Tequila Company – another favorite of the day. The elote corn hash, on the other hand, was underwhelming. But it looked too beautiful to pass up!

Tacos from Crosby's Kitchen - pretty great! The toppings were creative and tasty, but the meat was dry. I've heard it's an expensive place so I'd rather spend less $ at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. Rotisserie chicken taco + the Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco

Rotisserie chicken taco + Smoke Daddy pulled pork taco from Crosby’s Kitchen – pretty tasty! The toppings were creative and delicious, but the meat itself was dry. I’ve heard it’s an expensive place so I’d rather spend less money at an authentic Mexican restaurant for better meat. 

I left pretty stuffed, but in true Lauren fashion I was hungry three hours later. It just doesn’t end! I act like that’s a big burden in my life lawlz – like being a bottomless pit is some kind of cross I have to bear. I guess someone’s got to do it 😉 Oh, I also noticed after taking this picture that I’m making a fist. I’d like to think I’m just pumped about all the great tacos about to enter my belly.

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To end my weekend wrap-up I’m going to start posting my workouts on Monday from the past week in order to give myself some accountability. Granted, I know that life throws a wrench in your plans every once in awhile, but working out at least five out of seven days is a value I hold and it needs to once again be the rule, not the exception. I’m happy to report I kicked butt this past week!

  • Monday:4 mile run
  • Tuesday: 60 minute Flywheel Class
  • Wednesday: 4 mile run
  • Thursday: C2 Yoga at Corepower
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 mile run (last mile was a combination of sprint/walk)
  • Sunday: Rest

Thumbs up all around!

4861214_origQuestions:

  • What would it take for you to run 20 miles? A lifetime supply of chia seeds? A $1000 Trader Joe’s gift card? A date with Leonardo DiCaprio? Spill it.
  • Best taco you’ve ever had, and where you got it.
  • Has the weather been doing a total 180 from day-to-day where you’re from?

What if nothing were stopping you?

First thing’s first…is that title grammatically correct? It’s bugging me…

I’m not sure if any of you follow Lululemon on Instagram but recently they started a campaign called #ifnothing, the theme being “If nothing were stopping me I would…”. Some of the funny ones that people have already shared are pretty great:

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It’s an interesting concept, really. What is it that holds us back in life? For me, I’m not married, I don’t have any kids. I have two jobs that I depend on for money and pay back my student loans, but if I really saved I’m sure I could make time for whatever it is that I want. Okay well not everything, but things that would make me happy.  So what would do if nothing was holding me back?

Travel once a month

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If time, money, and culture permitted it, I think the world would be a lot happier if we could take vacations once a month. I’m not a lazy bum who just wants to lay on a beach, escaping from the “stress” of my life. What I’m saying is I want my life to be full of adventure, exploration and travel. First on my list? The Taj Mahal. It’s not the most traditional travel destination but I get goosebumps when I imagine visiting somewhere with a culture that is so drastically different from my own.

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Get a tattoo 

The only thing holding me back from this is the permanency. I’ve never done anything that permanent before so the thought of having something with me for the rest of my life is pretty daunting. But the “yolo” part of me deep down inside is just screaming “Go For It! Why Not?” So we’ll see. I’d probably get a small tattoo of the earth on my wrist.

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Buy a dog

Okay I have a valid excuse for this one. I’m suuuuper allergic to dogs! But honestly if I wasn’t so bad about putting it off I could be getting allergy shots so that within a few years I’d be fine owning a dog. I just want a pup to be active with! I’m always really jealous of people who have a dog to run with, play with, I only wish pugs were more active because mannnnnn do I want one.

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Run every race and go to every concert that comes to my city

Okay these go hand and hand because there is only one thing holding me back from them: MONEY. There are fun-themed 5ks and 8ks every weekend in Chicago, but they’re so gosh darn expensive! Also, you have to commit to them weeks in advance. Is it that much to ask that I wake up on a Saturday, see that there’s a 5k around my neighborhood, go to the site, pay, and run? In the perfect world….

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The same goes for concerts. Why are there all these fees? I just bought a concert ticket for $21 that, after fees, ended up being $39. What’s up with that? Convenience fee, facility fee, processing fee, oh my. I wish I could just walk up to the door the day of the concert, hand them $20 and listen to great music for an hour or two.

It seems like MONEY is what is holding me back. Sad, but true.

So what’s holding you back? #ifnothing