Freedom: An Unplugged Weekend

Last weekend I unplugged. Albeit not as unplugged as I was last year in "Not Tahoe" but I spent the weekend away from email, social media, and phone calls. Instead I surrounded myself with friends and nature (and maybe some adult beverages).  

I accepted an invitation from my friend to join her and her fiancé at his family's cottage in Freedom, New Hampshire. For those of you not in the know, Freedom is a tiny town on Ossipee Lake, situated next to a town called Die. Ok, the last part isn't true but it should be based on New Hampshire's state motto.  It really is a lakeside town in New Hampshire.

I decided the night before leaving for New Hampshire to go unplugged. A foreign concept for me, a woman who documents most of her day (and meals) on Twitter and Instagram. I fell asleep Friday night excited for a weekend of freedom, unbeknownst to me that while breaking ties with technology, I would literally find myself in Freedom.

My last tweet was posted on Saturday morning and I officially left technology behind.  Well, for the most part. I used my phone for pictures and a few texts (Jewish moms get worried) but my emails went unanswered,  Twitter went unread, and Instagram remained still.

What I found was more than I had bargained for. Originally worried that I would be bored, I brought magazines and freaked out upon realizing that I had forgotten a book. How would I spend an entire weekend entertaining myself?!

For starters, friends. In a time when much of my interaction with my best friends is through email, it was refreshing to catch up in person. In our busy daily lives, we are provided a cursory overview on the lives of others.  Focusing on the "now"and the "where" and the "what" in emails--facts that provide concise information that we're seeking. 

Without distractions, we can explore the "why" and the "how"--the things that really matter to us and our friends. A friend's wedding planning, my completely rational fear of lake monsters, our somewhat dysfunctional families, and other things that can't be broken down into 140 characters.

It was the perfect kind of weekend. Reconnecting by disconnecting and in it, finding Freedom.


5 Things a High Energy Person Needs

Energy is the lifeblood of everything (excluding the internet). We all have different energies in life that propel us along our way.

Relaxed. Intense. Contemplative. Vivacious. Indifferent. Animated.

Some people into the high energy category, including yours truly.  On any given day I teeter between the Smurf Theme Song and ZOMG! zones of the energy spectrum. Admittedly, it can difficult to harness all of this energy into something productive. When misdirected, high energy people can become hurried, nervous and even spastic. There are 5 things that high energy people need.

1. Purpose
High energy people need a purpose. Find a passion--eliminating homelessness, designing skyscrapers, making silly YouTube videos--it doesn't matter.  Channeling energy into something positive will foster personal and professional fulfillment.

2. Positive Network
High energy people need reinforcement through a positive network of people. Find people who support your passion--fellow advocates, industry professionals, people who think you're hilarious--and connect. A positive network is worth its weight in gold.

3. Grounding Force
High energy people need a grounding force. Find someone or something to counter the passion--people with different ideals, nature, belief in a higher power--and invest yourself. A grounding force provides balance.

4. Outlet
High energy people need an outlet for their energy. Find something other than your purpose--paint, volunteer, exercise--and lose yourself for a while. An outlet to shift the focus of your energy will enrich you.

5. Awareness
High energy people need to be aware of themselves. Find people with a different energy--negative, reserved, indifferent--and embrace diversity. Awareness of others will be a guide to understanding ourselves.

Find these 5 things and you can take over world!* Yay! Woohoo! Shazam!

*Does not a guarantee world domination


Why Failure is Sometimes Okay

Last year I set out to be awesome by accomplishing 30 things before I turned 30. For some reason, likely a lack of psychotherapy and a need to set arbitrary quantifiers of success, I set these goals for myself. But I essentially set myself up for disappointment by coming up with a list of 30 things I thought I should do in a year, on a limited budget with respect to both time and money.

I turned 30 on Sunday and accomplished just over 60% of my goals. That's a "D" if you're grading me. But it doesn't mean I failed.

Photo credit for my motivational poster: Trek Earth

It just means that my definition of success was too arbitrary.  While I may not have completed the 30 things I set forth to do a year ago, that doesn't make me a failure. It makes me someone who was too busy living life to be completing things on a list I wrote a year ago that don't matter to me now.

The next time you don't succeed at something, ask yourself if it matters. It is something that will make you happy, more fulfilled, or better at life? Failing at anything less than that, isn't failing at all.


Townie: Boston wine school

Tucked away under a gigantic liquor store on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, you will find the Boston Wine School.  Tucked inside the Boston Wine School you'll find Jonathon Alsop and the awesome wine classes he teaches.  And tucked away in this link (here, yup, right here) you'll find a calendar for the classes you should take at the Boston Wine School.

Recently I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend Jonathon's class entitled, "The Best Wines You've Never Heard Of".  Always a fan of finding the hottest things that no one else knows about and bragging about my exclusive knowledge, I was looking forward to the class.  I invited a friend of mine to join me because drinking wine is more fun with friends.  

We arrived at the Boston Wine School with open minds and eager palates and were greeted by a warm and welcoming Jonathon Alsop and fellow wine class students.  A taste of sparkling Riesling and some olive appetizers were presented to us before we made our way to the table of bread and cheeses.

Jonathon walked up through the 7-S System of wine tasting: See-Sniff-Swirl-Smell-Sip-Swish-Spit (or not depending on whether you have to drive).  He explained that tasting wine is much different than drinking wine and that it's better to taste wine with others so that you can have a more dynamic experience.  Just like how we all have different preferences and experiences in life, no one tastes the same wine.  

True to the title, we tasted 7 wines unfamiliar to myself or anyone else in the class.  In fact, most of the class was unfamiliar with wine in general and had come to learn more.  It's a plus to go to a wine tasting class where everyone is clueless instead of having "that person" try to show off their knowledge.  Jonathon encouraged questions.  After all, there are no stupid questions--just people we talk about when they go to the bathroom! (kidding)

It was fun learning new wines but what was even better was when, a couple of weeks after the class, I stumbled across the Berger Grüner Veitliner and got to act like some hipster wino who had heard of the next big thing.  We tasted three whites...

and four reds, moving from the lightest to the heaviest, more full bodied wines.

The wines were delicious and favorites included the sparkling Riesling and the Tilia Bonarda. The Bonarda reminded me of a Malbec but better and was excellent paired with the cheeses. I'm not a big cheese person, but totally could be if I drank wine all the time.

The Boston Wine School was an informative and fun experience.  If I had a disposable income, I would avail myself to the Burgers and Bordeaux or the Take a Bite out of Whisky dinner and tasting. Alas, I don't so I will head on over to the Pay your Age class, as most classes run $50 and over so $30 (gasp!) is a steal!

Note: I took this class free of charge but all thoughts and boozy musings are my own.


How to Like Country Music

It's officially summer which can only mean one thing--it's country music time!

I realize that country music isn't for everyone, but before you hit the little red x at the top of your screen, hear me out.  Summer is for fun and friends and enjoying the outdoors while listening to music and drinking some beers, right?  If you've never been to a country concert, then you're missing out. This weekend Zac Brown Band is coming to Fenway Park in Boston and country lovers everywhere are rejoicing.

Fenway Park is a such great atmosphere that even non-country music lovers are flocking to the historic ballpark for the event.  Crazy, right?  A hipster coworker of mine is going and, knowing my penchant for twangy men in cowboy boots, asked me for some help getting into country music. Naturally I was happy to oblige with this post.

    Anything is more enjoyable with eye candy.

    Ok, that will do.

    Pick a genre based on what you like. 
    Top 40's lovers will appreciate the pop style of Luke Bryan or Taylor Swift.  Jam banders might appreciate the aforementioned Zac Brown or Eli Young Band. Blues lovers can start with the likes of Josh Turner and Chris Young.  Jimmy Buffet types can get on board with Kenny Chesney.

    Grab a cowboy hat and some boots or go Walmart-chic in 'Merican flags and Nascar.  
    For more inspiration, I wrote a post on this exact topic last year.

  4. DRINK.
    Grab a beer, whisky, or lemonade. Put it in a mason jar or wrap it in a koozie because it's hot and you're thirsty and booze (or lemonade, I guess) are delicious.

  5. ENJOY.
    You already dressed up and drinking, might as well shake your stuff to the music and have fun.  If country still isn't your thing, at least you can say you tried!