In every race, you reach a point where you’ve gone farther than you have to go. It’s the point where the most efficient way out is through. It’s where you realize you can actually reach the finish line. 

For me, this point was when I reached the 8 mile marker during my first half marathon. At that moment, 8 miles was the farthest I had ever run (I know, I didn’t do the whole “training” thing well). I can still see the sign in my mind and it was then that I was honestly overcome with awe. I couldn’t believe my legs, my lungs, my will had carried me so far. 

I still had 5.1 miles to go, but damn, I had already made it so far and had the urge to get off the freaking course not overcome me, I might have broken down right then and there. It was a feeling that I cannot really explain, but just imagine something you thought you would never be able to do, then imagine doing it. It was a sense of pride that no one could or can take away. Like, I did that ish. 

Let’s be clear here: I do not think running is easy or even all that fun. I tend to think it is laborious and effortful and time consuming. Especially when I could also, say, spend a couple hours rowing, or doing yoga, or smashing out a weights sessions in the gym, or playing rugby. All things that I *genuinely* and *thoroughly* enjoy. For me, long distance running has always been about trying. I have to be there when I’m running. No relying on teammates to pick up the slack or not getting deep into a pose to make the practice less intense. I have to be there with every single step. Feet to pavement, every single step. 

I love sports. Well, I love participating in sports. It is the space where I really grew into myself and gained real body and general self confidence. Long distance running broke me down and built me up. It was the first time I really started a sport alone. Yes, I eventually built a community around running, but still, it is heavily focused on individual performance. Running for a long time is serious effing mental work. I’ve probably been physically capable of long distance running for much of my life, but I never did the mental work to get there until last year. For years, I said “I can’t”, and when I decided to erase can’t from my mind, a world of possibilities opened up. Particularly, a world where I was a long distance runner. 

People run for lots of reasons, and I run to shake off limiting beliefs about what I can or cannot do. Running teaches me that forward motion is good motion. I know that if I keep moving in the right direction, I will get wherever I’m going on my own, perfect timeline. I know that I can pretty much do anything I want with the right amount of focus and action. I know that crossing the start line and crossing the finish line are equally monumental feats. I know what the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” feels like in my body as I run mile after mile after mile after mile.

It's Wednesday night as I write this, and by the time this post goes up, I’ll have finished my second half marathon. On race day, I’ll be thinking of my friend Laura who taught me to take life day by day and my friend Jamaica who taught me that you don’t have to be “fast” to be a runner -- these two were my first inspirations to get out and get going. On race day, I’ll be quietly repeating “I am stronger than myself” over and over when things get inevitably tough. And when I cross the finish line, I’ll be shook all over again. In awe of my legs, in awe of my lungs, in awe of my will. 
Happy Monday, friends! I've decided to get my ish together, so I am starting back up with meal prep. This was by far the easiest meal prep I've ever done, mostly because it was a breakfast prep and that generally requires less time. Anywhoooo! It took me 8 minutes this morning to get this breakfast together, which was 8 minutes very well spent.

I have been eating skyr yogurt and granola for breakfast for the past four weeks, but I wanted to give my belly a break from the dairy, so I decided to switch it up. All the dEATs are below.

Avocado Rice Cakes + Hard Boiled Eggs Ingredient List
  • Lightly salted rice cakes
  • Ripe avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs
This one is so simple I feel silly even writing anything that resembles a "how-to", so I will spare you, a couple things to keep in mind:
  1. The night before, boil your eggs so they are ready to go in the morning. Boiled eggs will keep for 1 week in the fridge, peeled or unpeeled, so plan accordingly.
  2. Put the toppings on the rice cakes the day you will eat them so that they do not get soggy
Gimme a shout in the comments or on instagram @realstephaniegreene if you make this!

Okay, so plot twist, people: I started traveling for work and that put a bit of wrench in this whole plan to only use cash. All of my expenses Monday to Thursday have been charged to a card, but I have managed to stick to cash for my Friday to Sunday expenses. With that being said, below I’ll be sharing my weekend expenses over two weekends.

Weekend 1

I spent the last few days of July and first days of August in Maryland visiting my family. When I got back to Chicago on Sunday afternoon, I went to Whole Foods grab some food to supplement what I already had at home and picked up some other things for travel. I got plantain chips, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, coconut aminos, skyr yogurt, lavender room and body mist, and turmeric pills. I also donated the cost of a bag to the WF charity of the month. $44.95

Daily total: $44.95
Weekend total: $44.95

Weekend 2

I worked from home this day and made it through most of the day eating some frozen foods from Trader Joe’s, kale and cereal (not all at once, of course). I went into downtown after signing off from work to get my nails done and buy new running shoes. I got OPI VIPink nail polish and I am in love. It’s so bright and fun. I recommend getting a coat of the whitest nail polish available under the pink because it makes the pink pop even more. Anyway, the mani-pedi was $72 with tip and after a $10 discount because it was my tenth visit to the salon.

I headed to a running store and picked up some Adidas running shoes that fit my orthotics because my feet are messed up. And, to my surprise, they were on sale! $115.77

Last year, I got really into learning how to be better with money because I realized that I wasn’t exactly, uhhh, good with it. I only ever made sure I had enough cash to pay my rent and utilities, and then spent the remaining money on whatever I wanted and basically assumed I had enough money to cover all of my expenses. I think we can all agree, I was not really setting myself up for success in terms of saving for the short term or long term. Once I started to learn more about personal finance, I wanted to talk to my friends about it all the time. We talk to our friends about everything, even things we consider to be embarrassing or secretive or anxiety inducing, but we avoid talking about money, though it is usually where lots of us could use the most help. So, internet friends, we are gonna talk about money. 

Next month, I am going to go on an all cash diet as a means of aggressively saving money. So, I will be paying for nearly everything I buy with cash. I say nearly because I will be using my travel rewards credit card to pay for a hotel stay and flight in August, and paying for rent and other bills electronically. When the cash runs out, so does my spending -- yikes! 

In June, I decided to move out of my beloved one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom apartment and have a roommate to cut my monthly fixed cost of living by about 45%. And since I did make what was for me such a drastic lifestyle change, I want to take this seriously and do what I set out to do - save money! 

About two months ago, I realized that there is a podcast for anything and everything. After simple Google searches of things like "top yoga podcasts," "top health podcasts," or, the topic of this post, "top travel podcasts," I found so much good stuff! Every once and a while (read: all the time) I just have an urge to go somewhere and experience something new. But, alas, commitments in Chicago keep me tethered for most of the year.

In my mind, travel podcasts would work to satiate my hunger for travel, but I'm sure you, the rational being that you are, know what really happened: it did the exact opposite. My silliness aside, I'm sharing some of my favorite travel podcasts for women below. I've been thinking a lot about solo travel and have been seeking out stories about women traveling alone to give me an idea of what it might be like, hence sharing about podcasts targeted to women. For me, it's always easy to take the leap and do the thing I've never done before, when I hear about someone doing it and loving it. While I don't know any of the women in the podcasts, their stories are real, raw and relatable. Throughout all of these pods, there's a theme of women overcoming, fighting through and sitting with fear when it comes to travel. There's something incredible about hearing what women gain when they push beyond their fear and head out the door and makes me want to have that experience for myself. I will say, lots of these pods are lacking in racial diversity and speak with mostly white women, but I still value the perspectives shared and am on the hunt for even more inclusive travel pods -- will keep you all updated on that front. And all of these pods foster community in some way, through Facebook groups, in person meets up or group travel -- how fun!

Image result for she goesOn She Goes
This podcast comes from the women of "On She Goesa digital travel platform that helps women of color travel more confidently, more adventurously, and more often." Which is like heyyy, hello, that's meeeee! I love that this podcast specifically targets women of color and speaks about travel experiences that are unique to women of color travelers. The conversations are nuanced, entertaining and thoughtful. In particular, I am thinking about one episode in which the hosts were talking about backpacking and camping as black women and one woman mentioned the historical trauma that black people have with sleeping outside and being in the middle of nowhere. She also said once black people were able to own property (or even rent quality property) the sense of ownership and need to not sleep outside made the idea of camping seem all the more preposterous. These astute observations gave the phrase "black people don't go camping" a new meaning for me, and helped me begin to the answer the question of why black people might not go camping with some context on how historical trauma gets passed down and influences behavior. All to say, tune into this pod for even more astute observations. 

Image result for she explores podcastShe Explores
Big, big fan of this podcast. A major theme is definitely hearing from women who do things outdoors, like hiking, climbing, ski mountaineering, etc. But also approaches these topics from a number of intersections like physical ability, age, race, sustainability and many more. It's important to broker conversations at these intersections because one, it's super cool to hear a story from someone who is like you doing some crazy amazing feet outside like walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It's also cool to hear from someone not like you doing that. There are also great conversations with women who are extreme outdoor athletes and amateur outdoor athletes, and all encourage women to own their title as hiker, climber, biker or whatever no matter their level of expertise. I've also learned so much about places right here in the US that sound absolutely beautiful from what the women describe and am working on a list of must-go places for right here in the States. Finally, I'm a big, big fan of this pod because it features diverse women in every sense and isn't afraid to call out the whiteness and maleness of the mainstream outdoor community.

The year is coming to a close and I feel like lots of people share their accomplishments on social media, which is awesome because we all deserve to celebrate ourselves and year end is a great time to reflect on our good memories. But, through my yoga practice, I have found it more useful to focus on things that I have learned and will stick with me, as opposed to singular moments of success. So, instead of a post about all the wonderful things I did this year, I am sharing 18 things I learned in 2018 in hopes that you might be able to take something from them too.   

In 2018, I learned that…

1. I can do anything. Literally, anything.

2. I’m a damn good yoga teacher and make really great playlists for class.

3. Having cool things is cool, but having a savings account is cooler.

4. Everything happens for a reason.

5. All is well all the time.

6. Practicing non-attachment is hard and necessary when it comes to healing and forgiveness. Especially when forgiving those who have not asked for forgiveness (and probably never will) and for forgiving myself.

7. My health is the most important aspect of my life.

8. A successful romantic partnership with a man is in fact a partnership, not a relationship in which I am the object of his affection or a boost to his ego.
Rent the Runway

Earlier this year, I attended my first wedding as an adult and this weekend, I’ll attend my second. I say, “as an adult” because it’s totally different than being 12 years old and having your mom pick out your dress for you. As an adult, you have to consider, maybe with or without the consult of your mom, the stated attire for the wedding, the time of the wedding (day time or evening), the season, and appropriateness for the venue (i.e. church vs not a church). So much to consider!

With that being said, I’m here for the simplification of the whole process of getting “occasion” dresses. Occasion dresses being any dress you would not normally wear and buy specifically for an occasion. When I thought about the fact that I have had not one, but two prom dress sitting in a closet for five years, I knew this wasn’t a road I wanted to go down as an adult who is trying to be more conscious of the things I buy and the reasons why I buy them. Chances are, I’ll never buy another occasion dress because, to put it plainly, they are a colossal waste of money and waste of the time put into finding them. Since I want you to be free from this dress burden, too, I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to get around it. And they’re all eco-friendly!

1. Rent a dress!
For the wedding I attended in May, I rented a dress from Rent the Runway. Rent the Runway is a really incredible, innovative solution to exactly the problem I mentioned: women buying expensive dresses to wear once for some occasion. Renting tuxedos has been a thing for a long time, and Rent the Runway essentially allows those of us who wear dresses to do the same. You can rent a designer dress for a fraction of the off-the-rack price. I got my dress shipped to the Rent the Runway store in Chicago and was able to try it on there and browse other available styles if I decided I wanted to exchange my rental. It was so, so easy and I cannot recommend Rent the Runway enough.

Thanksgiving is this week! A holiday that often brings families, friends, and friends who are like family together to share a meal. It marks the beginning of the holiday season for many and brings about more contact with those that we love. In elementary school, “What are you thankful for?” was the journal prompt for so many years in Language Arts. In recent years, my dad has also taken to asking the same question during Thanksgiving dinner. It is such a good and simple question and one that we should ask ourselves regularly, even when the going gets tough.

Last week, I finished my 200 hour yoga teacher training. Like, whoooaaahooohooo I was so pumped. I could not believe that I had found 200 hours (and then some) to devout to self study and learning a new skill while also working full time (and then some). Coming up on Thanksgiving, I can say without a doubt, my yoga teacher training experience is what I am most thankful for this year. It has taught me so many things that I will flesh out over posts to come, but I want to focus on the most timely lesson, which was learning to live from a place of gratitude.

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