Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review!

This year was quite a busy year!  So many things happened in 2013, some good and some bad, but they all were memorable.  I think it’s important to remember not only the wonderful things, but also the not-so-wonderful things.  Those are what make the good moments much more precious and reminds us that life is to be celebrated and lived to the fullest.  Without further ado, here is my 2013 in review by category (because it’s just more organized that way :) ):

  • Celebrated my 2 year wedding anniversary
  • Rugby and Juno (our pups) both turned 1
  • Tantalum (our kitty) turned 2
  • Birth of my handsome nephew, Aiden
  • My younger brother graduated law school, passed the CA Bar, and got a job
  • Underwent a bone marrow biopsy and learned I have Familial Platelet Disorder with a Predisposition to Myeloid Malignancies (predisposed to MDS or Leukemia)
  • Had surgery for the first time and "went under" for the first time (completely unrelated to my diagnosis above, and I’m OK!)
  • Cousin graduated from high school and started college
  • Cousin turned 21 and the family went to Vegas to celebrate
  • Big brother got a new job in consulting that he loves
  • 1 year anniversary of my beautiful Mom’s passing
  • 2 year anniversary of my incredible Grammie’s passing

  • One of my oldest and dearest friends got married, and I was honored to be a bridesmaid
  • 2 friends got engaged
  • Lots of incredible dinners with friends

  • Attended to Lakers games
  • Attended Angels games
  • Attended Galaxy games, including the International Champions Cup tournament
  • Attended Ducks games including playoffs
  • Trained for a marathon
  • Ran my first marathon in memory of Mom while raising awareness and funds for MDS
  • Raised nearly $10,000 for the AA&MDS International Foundation
  • Had my first radio interview with 100.3 FM talking about the AA&MDS International Foundation
  • Rode our bikes during the summer to our local park for concerts and movies in the park
  • Learned to snowboard
  • Saw Justin Timberlake in concert for his 2020 Experience Tour

  • Traveled to Montana, Las Vegas (a couple times), Catalina Island
  • Drove cross country (south to north) on a 22 hour road trip, non-stop (and drove back)
  • Bought a new car (SUV)

  • Successfully completed some challenging projects at work and saw our company CAHPS scores improve significantly year over year because of those projects
  • Moved up the ranks on the FORTUNE 500 list

The Little Things
  • Organized our home office and guest bedroom (they were filled with boxes and donation items)
  • Started watching some awesome new TV shows like Breaking Bad, Masters of Sex, How I Met Your Mother; and kept watching amazing old shows like Dexter, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Walking Dead
  • Hubby and I got tattoos of a quote from one of our favorite books with our wedding date, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite. 12-3-11”.  I got mine on my rib cage; he got his on his bicep.

What's Next For 2014
  • Hubby’s 30th birthday
  • More snowboarding
  • Iceland
  • Friend’s wedding in NYC
  • + more!!

Cheers to a memorable 2013!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Back in the Gym!

This past Saturday was my first day back in the gym since being cleared by my doctor on Christmas day to workout again.  I made it a leg day, and it was killer!  My heart rate got up to 185, and it felt so good!  Lifting weights and pushing my self again felt unbelievably rejuvenating.  My workout consisted of the following:

Warmup:  20 squats, no weight

15 squats with 40 lbs
10 standing hip extension (straight back) on each leg with 10 lbs
10 standing hip extension (angled) on each leg with 10 lbs

15 squats with 50 lbs
10 standing hip extension (straight back) on each leg with 15 lbs
10 standing hip extension (angled) on each leg with 15 lbs

15 squats with 70 lbs
10 standing hip extension (straight back) on each leg with 17 lbs
10 standing hip extension (angled) on each leg with 17 lbs

15 squats with 70 lbs
10 standing hip extension (straight back) on each leg with 17 lbs
10 standing hip extension (angled) on each leg with 17 lbs

20 single leg lunges on each leg with 30 lbs
10 single leg hamstring curls on a stability ball
Repeat 3x

Afterwards, I ran intervals for a mile and kicked my heart rate up to 190!
It was such an exhilarating workout.  The next day I was very sore and it felt great!  I love being sore from a workout because I know I worked hard and pushed myself.  I'm ecstatic to be working out again, and look forward to pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and get my muscles and endurance back :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

This Christmas was so wonderful!  My big brother flew out from TN and my cousin flew out from London (it’s been 5 years since she has been here)!  Christmas Eve is our big celebration which is always at my parents house.  The whole family comes over, about 20 of us, and Dad makes his famous spaghetti and meatballs, which is an old Italian family recipe.  The evening was filled with delicious food, lots of wine, many laughs and great stories.  Growing up, Santa always called our house so we could talk to him and tell him what we wanted for Christmas.  Well, all the “kids” in the family are grown up now, so Santa hasn’t called in years.  This year, however, my little cousin is 4 years old, which is old enough to talk to Santa!  So Santa called the house and my cousin spoke with him and told him what he wanted!  He was a little shy about it at first, but then his face lit up with joy and he told Santa what he wanted.  It was very exciting!  The night continued with more conversation, laughter, and music.
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
The next morning, Sean and I hosted Christmas breakfast, a tradition my Grammie used to do.  After she passed nearly three years ago, Sean and I took over the tradition.
Our Christmas breakfast table
After a hearty and absolutely delicious breakfast of baked eggs and beef hash with gravy, we gathered near the tree to open presents.  I love watching people open their presents and seeing the delight on their faces.  After breakfast, we went to my in-laws to celebrate Christmas with them.  After spending a wonderful afternoon with my in-laws watching the Laker game, talking, laughing, eating, and opening presents, my hubby had to go to work, and I went to my Aunt’s house for Christmas dinner.  Our Christmas dinner tradition is lamb, potatoes and broccoli…yum!

Then there were more presents!  The best part was watching my little 4 year old cousin open his presents one at a time with such poise and thanks.  My other cousin received a flabongo, which naturally we had to test out immediately:
Christmas Dinner
Testing out the flabongo with my brother and cousin
My husband and family absolutely spoiled me!  Here is a montage of some of the amazing gifts I was blessed with:

1. Sam Edelman boots.  2. Halogen polka dot wallet.  3. “I Don’t Sweat, I Sparkle” workout tank.  4. House Targaryen fade out tee (I LOVE Danaerys).  5. Purple gemstone earrings.  6. Multicolored gemstone necklace.  7. Polka dot iPad neoprene sleeve.  8. Motorcycle jacket.  9. Sequin “Pink” tee.  10. VS sweatpants.  11. Lululemon running top.  12. Chocolate button Ugg boots.  13. Nordicware waffled pancake pan.  14. “Keep Calm and Run On” tank.  15. Alice in Wonderland shoe ornament.  16. Mickey police officer ornament.

There were more wonderful things I received too.  Like I said, I was spoiled and yet I didn’t ask for anything this year…my hubby and family know me so well.

Another amazing Christmas present I received was my doctor’s clearance to work out again!  I haven’t been able to workout for a month, and boy was I getting antsy!  Needless to say, I went for a run and it felt so good!!  I really missed being able to go for a run or lift weights and I am extremely excited to get back to where I was fitness-wise.

Christmas 2013 was absolutely wonderful.  I love my family more than anything, and the holidays are all about family.  We remembered loved ones we’ve lost, and embraced each other extra tight.

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Always Thankful

This time of year is a time for reflection.  When I look at  my life, there is so much I am grateful for, and I count my blessings not only this time of year, but every single day of the year.  Some of the things/people I am grateful for are:

My Parents
For giving me the gift of life, and loving me to the fullest unconditionally.  I’ve always been crazy close with my parents, talking with them multiple times a day about important things and trivial things.  My Mom passed away last year, but during the 25 years we spent together we were best friends and had many many unbelievably fun times together.  She was kind, intelligent, giving, genuine, loyal, funny, beautiful, courageous, and so loving.  She was always there for me…she was my rock.  I miss her with all my heart every day.  My Daddy and I have always been close too and still are!  We have so much fun together!!  From cooking, to talking shop (we’re both Finance majors and have our MBA, and he was in the healthcare industry as I am), to traveling, to taking dance lessons together, to rockin’ out in the Vinyl Lounge at home, my Dad is one of the smartest, most fun, goofy men I know.  I love him to the moon and back!

My Hubby
My soul mate and everything bright in this world!  My husband is truly one in a billion, and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my partner in life.  We have shared so many wonderful experiences together over the last seven years from the mundane of watching Walking Dead on our couch to the luxury of traveling to exotic locations abroad.  Each day is an adventure with him, and I look forward to all the future adventures life has in store for us.  I couldn’t imagine sharing this life with anyone but you my love!

My Family
Growing up, my family and I spent every Friday or Saturday at someone’s house cooking dinner, listening to music, and just hanging out.  Now that I’m older, not much has changed, and I love it.  My family is my rock, and without their love, support, comfort, and craziness, I would not be who I am today.  From our silly evenings at someone’s house to our travels together, I am so grateful for all our laughs, cries, singing, etc!  I love my family!

My Friends
My friends are true gemstones, and I know that they are there for me no matter what.  You know who you are.  Each and every one of you makes my life so much brighter, and I am so grateful for your friendship.  Some are close by, others across the country, but no matter how far apart, we always pick up right where we left off.

Our Furbabies
Our two puppies, Rugby and Juno, and our kitty Tantalum make our world so much happier.  Nothing beats coming home from a long day at work to three loving furbabies who are beyond excited to see you!  Their love is unconditional, and our love for them is unconditional.  They are our babies, and I can’t imagine life wihtout them.

My Health
Over the last couple months I learned that I carry a genetic mutation that my mom and grandmother carried, that predisposes me to MDS and/or leukemia.  I could be depressed and heartbroken and fall into a deep dark place thinking of a terrible fate, but that’s not who I am (there’s no room for negativity in my life).  Instead, I fill my life and heart with positivity!  I am grateful that I can breathe each day, that I can work out and push my body beyond it’s limits, that I can explore the world with through site, sound, smell, touch, and taste.  I am a very healthy 27 year old, and I’m going to be one very healthy 90 year old down the line!!

Our Home
We are so thankful that we have a roof over our heads and a place to call home.  We were able to buy a home two years ago, and it’s been so much fun remodeling and decorating and really making it “ours.”  This time of year is especially exciting because we have our Christmas tree (this year we bought a monster one at 11 feet!), Christmas decorations around the house, and Christmas lights outside.  It was so fun decorating for the holiday with my hubby while we listened to Christmas music :)

My parents always believed that travel provides knowledge, insight, and experience that cannot be obtained in a classroom.  Don’t get me wrong, school was always number 1 (I was always a straight A student and went on to earn my MBA), but seeing the world enlightens you in a way that is so profound and mind-opening.  I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world including, France, Spain, Italy, England, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and more!  We have several adventures planned for 2014 including Iceland!!  Stay tuned!

Education is embedded in who I am.  My parents gave me the gift of education, for which I will be eternally grateful.  I was always an over-achiever (and still am), and wanted to excel in school not only to impress my parents, but to give myself a sense of gratification in knowing I absorbed and learned everything I possibly could!  I recently earned my MBA, and I continue to look for ways to expand my knowledge and grow!  As cliché as it may be, knowledge is growth and knowledge is power.  Keep on educating yourself!

I am so grateful for technology on numerous accounts.  First, I am grateful for my iPhone and the ability to communicate in real-time with my family and friends around the country.  Second, I am grateful for the internet and social media for keeping me up to date on current events and acting as a tool for sharing my own stories like I am right here on this blog.  Third, I am grateful for medical technology to help fight diseases and find cures!

I love that I have a brand new and reliable car that not only gets me from point A to point B, but also carries our precious cargo with ample space (our pups love their car rides!).  This was my first car purchase completely on my own, and I am very proud of myself for that.

What can I say other than music is so fun!  I enjoy listening to and singling along with music in my car, during my workouts, and just singing and dancing around the house!  There is music for every mood, and it’s wonderful!

My Career
I am grateful that I have a job, and more importantly that it’s a job I love.  I have been with my company for nearly 5 years now, and I love each day.  I am tasked with many challenging projects, and I enjoy every bit of it.  My team is making huge strides and I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments!

Be thankful for all the blessings in your life this holiday season and always!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Iceland, Here We Come!!!

Back in November, I wrote about how 2014 is going to be a year of adventure for my hubby and I!  You may find that post here.  For the last couple months I have been looking into Iceland, a country filled with natural wonders and unmatched beauty.  One of my friends went there last year with her husband, and her stories and pictures were jaw-dropping!  I had to investigate further.  Just take a look at these pictures:
Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland
The Crystal Cave, Skaftafall National Park, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon, geothermal spa, Iceland
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
Gorgeous!!  After seeing these breathtaking places and reading about them, how could we NOT travel here?  After all, we said 2014 is going to be our year of adventure!!!

I built our itinerary on Expedia and after a month of it sitting in the "Unbooked Itinerary" section, today we pulled the trigger and booked it!!  We are beyond excited and cannot wait to explore Iceland and everything it has to offer!

Cheers to our future adventures!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Very Busy Thanksgiving Week!

This year I didn't write a Thanksgiving post not because I didn't want to, but honestly because I was so busy.  Thanksgiving week was one of the busiest weeks I've had all year, and my time for writing a blog post slipped away.  My Thanksgiving week in a nutshell:
  • Friday 11/22:  My baby bro passed the CA bar! 
  • Saturday 11/23:  My big bro flew in for the week! 
  • Sunday 11/24:  Sibling night with the brothers celebrating big bro’s birthday and baby bro passing the bar!
  • Monday 11/25:  Doctor appointment then surprise birthday party for big bro with all the family!  This turned out to be one wild night!  So fun!
  • Tuesday 11/26:  My boss’s birthday celebration at work!
  • Wednesday 11/27:  JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE CONCERT!!  An early anniversary present from my wonderful hubby!!!
  • Thanksgiving Day:  Turkey Trot; Thanksgiving breakfast and Duffy boat ride to Mom’s spot; Thanksgiving cooking; Thanksgiving with my in-laws; then Thanksgiving with my family!
  • Friday 11/29-Monday 12/2:  Vegas with the whole family to celebrate my cousin’s 21st birthday, my big bro’s birthday, little bro’s bar passing, and Sean’s and my anniversary!
  • Tuesday 12/3:  Our 2nd anniversary!!!  Dinner at one of our favorite restaurants followed by a gondola ride through the canals while admiring Christmas lights!

Needless to say, it was one of the busiest and most fun-filled weeks ever!!  I love my family so much, and we always have the absolute best times together, and I am beyond grateful for that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary!!

Happy 2nd Anniversary to my wonderful husband!!  I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday...it was crystal clear, the sun was shining, and I was so giddy with excitement that I could hardly contain myself.  Not much has changed since we said "I Do" two years ago.  I still get giddy with excitement over my husband.  I love spending time with him whether it's cuddling on the couch watching "Walking Dead" or "How I Met Your Mother", or a big adventure like traveling to Italy like we did for our 1st anniversary.  No matter how big or small the adventure is, it's the adventure of a lifetime, and I wouldn't want to share it with anyone but my hubby :)  He is the best husband I could have ever asked for.

Seven years ago we fell in love.
Three years ago he proposed, and I said "yes!".
Two years ago we said "I Do.
Here's to the many adventures we will share over the next 20, 30, 60+ years together!!

I love you baby!!  Happy Anniversary!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Autumn Cleaning

A couple weeks ago, my hubby, my dad, and I spent an entire Saturday cleaning out our guest bedroom and home office.  I so desperately wish I had taken before pictures, but for whatever unknown reason, I did not.  Prior to the cleaning, the guest bedroom had the furniture, but there were large boxes stacked on the floor filled with things I packed up 2 years ago when we moved it.  The room was very cluttered and unorganized.  The office, now that was a disaster.  You couldn't even open the door without hitting something, and if you did manage to push it open, you couldn't even see the wood floor.  Instead, all you could see was boxes, old rolled up rugs, a raclette, a fondue pot, old shoes, an old fax, and more.  We have had our dogs for over a year, and they had never seen the inside of the office.  Because of the clutter, we just kept the door closed and would say “we’ll get to it eventually.”

Well, “eventually” came.  We started in the office, and it was unbelievably overwhelming.  The best way to tackle this was to start in a corner and gradually move around the room, and that’s what we did.  We created four piles:  keep, giveaway, store and trash.  Several hours later, the ground was nearly 100% visible, and the office closet organized.  We kept all the books in the built-in bookshelf since they belonged to my grandfather and great grandfather.  We then ventured to the guest bedroom where I went through each box and all contents went into one of the four piles.  More than 8 hours later, both rooms were cleaned and organized.  
Our guest bedroom...I still need to organize the bookshelf a little (move the pillows/hats)

Our Home Office...the floor is now visible!!
It was so cathartic and liberating to clean those rooms.  I am always much happier and much more productive when things are tidy.  Plus, it’s easier to find things!  The next big project is redesigning the home office!  I’m working with one of my mom and dad’s friend who is an interior designer, and she and I have some wonderful things planned that will transform the room!  Stay tuned….

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pictures Are Memories Frozen in Time

Last weekend, I devoted much of my time to backing up my old computer.  Now, my old computer is a 10-year old Macbook Pro, and has been nearing its end for many years.  After Mom passed away in 2012, my techie big brother backed everything Mom ever had up (phone, laptop, video camera, camera, etc), and I began using Mom’s computer as my own.  My old computer then became my “backup” with my 30,000+ photos.  Well, Mom’s computer now is about 6 years old and is beginning to slow down and freeze constantly.  Needless to say, it was time to back everything up on both computers, in case their time comes to an end.  So I hopped on CNET, read reviews for 1TB and 2TB hard drives, and settled on the very compact WD Passport 2TB which I ordered on Amazon.  Two days later, I had my shiny new Passport.

I spent several hours both Saturday and Sunday moving those 30,000 pictures from my old computer to my new Passport.  This was no easy task, but it sure was fun!  I found pictures going back as far as when my parents were younger than I am (scanned of course since digital photography was non-existent then) to some of the more recent photos from college, grad school and post-MBA life that I had forgotten about.

Here are some of the gems I found:
My mom and dad at age 25 with my big brother age 4.
My 8th Grade Graduation.
Going to dinner at Club 33 in Disneyland for my 19th birthday.
My first time in the snow after a blizzard my freshman year of college in NYC.
My 21st birthday in Hawaii with my family and now hubby :)
Me at age 4 with my cousin at her college graduation.

There are MANY more where these came from.  It's so much fun finding old pictures and just immersing yourself in them.  They tell such wonderful stories.  This is why I love taking pictures and creating albums...these moments are so precious and are to be cherished.

Do you enjoy taking pictures?  What do you do with them (albums, prints, keep them on the comp)?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2014: A Year of Adventure!

One of my friends wrote a blog entry about  how traveling should be not relaxing, but rather adventurous.  This post really resonated with me for many reasons.  First, my friend and I live very parallel lives…we got married at the same time, we adopted dogs at the same time (both chocolate labs no less), we lost our moms at the same time (both from cancer), and we have very similar timelines for our future plans.  So when I read this post, I felt as though I was reading something I had written (although she is without a doubt a much better writer than I am).  She opens this post with a profound line:
Ask me the definition of “vacation” 3 years ago, and my response: “beach and sleep.” Ask me now, and my response: “where adrenaline meets natural wonders.”
It’s true.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Hawaii, Costa Rica, Jamaica and would go there again in a heartbeat, and I DO want to someday go to the Maldives and Turks & Caicos, but right now, at this point in my life, I’m craving adventure.  I want to explore the world.

Another point my friend makes is something that I think nearly everyone in my generation and younger can relate to…being glued to technology and social media.  Even when I’m wearing a purse, my phone is in my hand ready to snap a picture or respond to a text message at any moment.  I am guilty of forgetting to live in the moment because I’m so glued to my phone.  The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is check Facebook and Instagram.  The last thing I do before bed (after saying goodnight to my hubby), is to mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram before my eyelids get heavy and I drift off.  So in the words of Lauren:
And so, take this real-world deprived person and place her on a beautiful beach in Maui, and what do you think happens? She leaves her phone behind in her hotel room while she lays on the beach and stares at the ocean? Of course not. She needs her phone, to you know, photograph the ocean, photograph her and her husband, and share these moments with her family and friends. The phone is clearly only present to capture her vacation real time, and help her take in her environment. The phone will not be accessed for email, or internet browsing. Right.
Traveling to an adventurous location where you’re snowmobiling through a white-out, or hiking at 2,000 ft elevation on an unmarked trail, or bathing in a glistening Blue Lagoon surrounded by glaciers…whatever the adventure might be, having your phone or camera glued to your hand may not be such a feasible option.  Of course the camera will make a quick appearance when the ground is stable or the white out clears in order to get one beautiful photo to capture that magical moment, but it won’t be as frequent as say lounging on the beach with a Mai Tai in one hand and your phone in the other.

There is another very personal point my friend makes, and that is feeling her Mom for the first time since she passed.  I will never forget the first time I felt Mom after she passed in a warm breeze as though she was hugging me telling me everything is going to be alright.  When I’m outdoors enveloped in nature, that’s when I feel her most.  And in those moments, I smile and laugh, and I am happy.

Sean and I have decided that next year will be our year of adventure.  We have endured a lot of hardship in the last 3 years, and we’re ready for 2014 to be the year of excitement and adventure.  We already have some exciting things planned, and we’re working on planning a couple more adventures!  Stay tuned….

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Releasing My Fears

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel discouraged and overwhelmed?  Today was one of those days for me.  Both work and personal things just seemed to add up and I felt so stressed and upset.  The stress of a project at work just amplified my feelings about what’s going on with me personally, making it a very difficult morning for me.  I spoke with my hubby and my cousin about this, and they both made me feel much better.  Things have a way of working out.  I've always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I just can’t see that reason…yet.  I have to remain hopeful, and I know that reason will present itself when the time is right.  After speaking with my hubby and cousin, I went to my “Words” board on Pinterest to which I pin inspiration quotes or messages.  Here are some that resonate with me today.

I have to release my fears and remain positive and hopeful that things WILL work out :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Workout Wednesday!

I am going to try something new, and on Wednesdays write about my workouts; hence the title “Workout Wednesday”.  Let's give it a go!

Since marathon training ended in March, I've been working out with a group in a boot camp style format every Monday through Thursday.  It’s even more fun because it’s almost my whole family who does it!!  Mondays are either a HIIT (high intensity interval training) or body weight/TRX; Tuesdays are AMRAPs (as many rounds as possible of a circuit in a specified amount of time); Wednesdays are cardio; and Thursdays are Tabata Thursday (my favorite).  I had to take last month off for health reasons, but this week I’m back at it and it feels so good!  I love starting my day with a killer workout to get my blood flowing.

On top of my boot camp, I’m working out with my personal training twice a week.  This morning I worked out with her before boot camp, and she destroyed my arms (in a good way!).  We did biceps, triceps, and shoulders, and my muscles were screaming!!  She definitely pushes me beyond my limit!  She's awesome!  A great trainer and a great friend.  After she kicked my butt, boot camp was all about spin, trampoline, and more arms!  Spin was 30 minutes of hills and sprints, followed by 30 minutes of trampoline + triceps + shoulders.  Needless to say, my arms got double the workout this morning, and are already sore.  I'm sure tomorrow I won’t be able to move them, and I love it!

Did you work out today?  What did you do?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boosting My Platelets Through Clean Eating!

Since I learned about my platelet disorder a couple weeks ago, I've been doing a lot of research and reading as much as I can on the topic.  One of the things I've been reading on is how to increase my platelet count.  A lot of what I’m reading relates to diet, and although nothing has been proven, it’s theoretically supposed to help.

Here are some of the foods that are theorized to increase platelet counts:
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, etc.)
  • Broccoli
  • Lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey)
  • Cold pressed oil, specifically sesame oil
  • Omega-3s (fish, oils)
  • Warm temperature water (cold water slows down digestive tract which can impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients)

Foods that inhibit platelet production include:
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugars
  • Junk food
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Tonic water (quinine)

Remember back in June/July when I was very strict with my eating?  It’s basically going back to that.  Don’t get me wrong, I still eat very healthy, but I do indulge in wine or cocktails and every now and then I've eaten pizza or things I really shouldn't eat.  Well, that all will have to go out the window.  Until my next monthly blood draw on 11/25, I am going to test this theory out and see if it works.  I had my blood drawn last week and my platelets were at 81.  Let’s see if they improve on 11/25 with strict healthy and clean eating!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

zwani.com myspace graphic comments

Monsters, stalking through the night,
Halloween is the Night of Fright.
Fear is what this night brings,
Along with many other things.

Are you sure you are prepared?
Tonight is not for the easily scared.
Creatures from hell roam on this night,
For tonight is the Night of Fright.

Trick or treat you say,
You should not have waited until the end of the day.
Tonight you will lose your tricks and treats,
For the monsters need to eat.

You better not take this night lightly,
Or else you will truly learn what fright means.

In ancient times people feared this night,
The night they greeted with fright.
Why they were so scared you will soon see,
On this "All Hollows Eve."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Medical Update

After some routine blood work this summer, I learned my platelets had dropped from 100 in March to 83 in August.  Now, just some background information, a normal person has 150-400 platelets.  I have "run low" my entire life, never having had more than 105.  However, this drop was a little concerning, so my primary doctor suggested I reach out to Mom's oncologist/hematologist at USC who treated Mom.  Dr. Casey O'Connell is not only one of the nation's leading physicians in bone marrow failure diseases, immune blood disorders, myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative disorders, but she is one of the kindest, most genuine people I've met.  She recommended I come see her and that we do a bone marrow biopsy just to be safe.  So on October 2nd, I went in for my first bone marrow biopsy.

Two weeks ago I went in for the results.  I learned I have Familial Platelet Disorder with a Predisposition for Myeloid Malignancy (FPD/AML).  I have a gene mutation in my 21st chromosome called RUNX1, which has a 45% chance of developing into acute myeloid leukemia or MDS (this could higher considering my family history).  Only 200 families currently are known to carry this gene (although this may be underestimated as it is now being increasingly recognized due to enhanced awareness).  So basically I'm an X-Men!  I'm still working to uncover my super power though :)

I am very hopeful and confident that I am in the 55% that will not be affected, and I will continue to remain positive.  I am surrounded by the best team of doctors at the USC Norris Cancer Center, led by Dr. Casey O’Connell who is one of the leading experts in this area.  They will monitor my blood counts on a monthly basis and look for any anomalies.  If anything arises, we are way ahead of the game and have the advantage of time and preparation.  Down the road it’s possible I may have to undergo a bone marrow transplant as that is the only “cure”, but there is no sense of urgency for that in the next year or so.

If you want to read a little more about this, here are some helpful links:

Faith is stronger than fear.   The odds are in my favor and I have lots of eyes on me/my blood!  I will practice patience and serenity, and believe that I am healthy and will be so for a very long time :)

Monday, October 28, 2013


It's been months since I've written here.  This is was a running blog, and frankly, I haven't been running much since the LA Marathon in March.  After the marathon I was nursing some injuries, then when I was able to workout again, it was lots of strength training with some cardio like cycling thrown in there.  Needless to say, I didn't have any running stories to share.

Well, so much has been going on over the past few months that I've decided writing will be a good outlet for me.  No longer will I focus on a specific niche {like running}, but I will now share stories of my life, whatever the story of the day may be.  Hence, it's time to re-brand this blog into something more broad and all encompassing.  After many suggestions and lots of feedback from friends and family, I have decided to go with something very simple:  "With Love, Mags".  I reached out to Emily at Blogaholic Designs, and she helped me design this new and beautiful blog template.  I am giddy with excitement over it!!

I hope you enjoy my new direction!  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spartan Race Giveaway WINNER!!!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit my blog and to those who entered the Spartan Race Giveaway for a free race entry!

Using the Random Number generator at Random.org, the winner is Shahana!
Please email me at Love2Mags (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your promo code.

You can still receive 15% off registration for any Spartan race by clicking here.

Now go become a Spartan!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eating Clean!

For as long as I can remember, I've had digestive issues.  By digestive issues I mean constant tummy aches, bloating, not going to the bathroom regularly, cramping, etc.  In high school, I didn't think much of it; in college I was living in NYC and that was the last thing on my mind; then post-college it started to bother me and has just gotten more and more irritating.  I've always been a “healthy” eater…chicken, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, 12-grain bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white rice, no milk (I've never been a fan of cow’s milk to be honest), etc.  But I have a weakness for cheese, chips, and basically anything salty, which meant processed crap because up until recently, I didn't think anything raw or natural would satisfy that salt craving.

Last year I reached the point where I didn't want to feel uncomfortable all the time, so I made a choice.  I chose to go Paleo which includes fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry), fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed).  It helped, but I would still feel bloated and have the occasional tummy ache, albeit not as bad.  Then I tried grain-free, cutting out all grains of any sort.  I still couldn't pinpoint what my pain trigger was.

By May this year, I had enough so I met with friend who is a nutritionist, and we came up with a plan.  The plan is to do a one month food cleanse during June, then modify it and slowly add things back (if I want to) and see how my body reacts.

I started a week ago, and I have to say, my body has never felt better than it does now.  I haven’t had a tummy ache, haven’t felt bloated, and I have more energy!  If you’re not 100% committed, it may be difficult, but I was desperate to get rid of my stomach pains so I committed a 110% and I feel amazing.

My food cleanse is in a nutshell:
     -no alcohol (yikes!)
     -no dairy (that’s cheese for me!)
     -no red meat
     -no sugar (including fruit! Ah!!)

So basically it’s lots of lean protein (chicken, turkey, white fish like tilapia), veggies (green is great!), and raw protein shakes.  I eat all these anyways (with the exception of the protein shakes), and I love veggies, so the main challenge was eliminating cheese and alcohol.  So far so good!!!  I even attended a wedding this past weekend that was open bar and had a gorgeous display delectable foods, but I stuck to my cleanse and had a salad with light EVOO and balsamic, some almonds I brought with me, and a small piece of chicken, and I sipped on H2O all night!

Today begins week 2 and I’m really excited.  Some of my meals last week were:
     -oatmeal with cinnamon and slivered almonds
     -chia pudding (I soak chia seeds in coconut water, then add almond butter and cinnamon)
     -salads with avocado, green beans, broccoli, onion, lightly dressed in EVOO and balsamic
     -baked chicken with asparagus, broccoli and/or green beans
     -egg whites with spinach
     -ground turkey lettuce wraps
     -broccoli and celery soup (super easy…cook broccoli, onion, celery and garlic in vegetable stock for a few minutes, then purée until blended)

I’m beyond thrilled to be on this journey to finding the right foods that work with my body.  In the words of the wise Socrates, “The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a FREE race entry to any Spartan Race before tomorrow, June 11 @ noon PST!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spartan Race Giveaway!

Wow it has been a long time since I've blogged, and I'm excited to return with an awesome giveaway!
Last week I was contacted by the Spartan Race group, and they are offering my readers a code for a free Spartan race!!  I've run this race before and it's hard and SO MUCH FUN!  You won't want to miss the opportunity for a free chance to participate in this awesomeness!! It's easy to enter:

To enter:  Comment on this post and tell me why you want to be a Spartan!
Date:  Enter by Tuesday, June 11 at Noon PST
Winner:  A winner will be chosen at random, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday, June 12

If you're so excited and ready to be a Spartan NOW, here is a link to generate a 15% off coupon for your next Spartan race!

Do you have what it takes to be a Spartan!?

Monday, April 22, 2013

5K Run & Walk for MDS This Saturday!!!

This Saturday, April 27th is the Hope Steps and A Cure 5K run followed by a 1-2 mile walk for MDS!  You may recall that I found this even last year right after my Mom passed away from MDS and we had a record-breakingturnout!  This year I am on the committee and we are hoping to surpass last year’s numbers.  Please join us this year as we run and walk to raise awareness and funds for MDS.  Go Team Pat Reep!

The course is a beautiful, flat, ocean front course along the beach path in Long Beach.  If you’re looking for a small local 5K, come to this one (great for PRing!)

To register for the 5K run, please click here.

To register for the 1-2 mile walk, please click here.

If you are unable to attend but would like to donate, please click here.

Bonus-Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion, Mia Hamm, will be attending the walk!

As you know, my Mom passed away last March from a rare bone marrow failure disease that affects less than 1% of the nation, called MDS.  Since then, I have beend oing whatever I can to raise awareness and help fund research to learn more about this rare disease and to help find a cure.  No one should have to go through what my Mommy went though.  Together let’s find a cure!  Come join us this Saturday in Shoreline Village in Long Beach!!! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Stands As One

On Monday I woke up with so much excitement to watch the Boston marathon.  I was really excited to see Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan compete as they are two of my favorite runners.  I also had a couple friends running and couldn’t wait to follow them.  The Boston marathon is one of the most well-recognized athletic events in the world, and evokes a huge sense of community, camaraderie, and patriotism.  I know I will never run this infamous course as I am not remotely fast enough to even come close to qualifying, but I get such joy from watching the elites and cheering on friends and strangers.

I followed the elites and was so proud of Shalane and Kara for taking 4th and 6th respectively on one of the toughest courses out there.  Congrats to the winners Lelisa Desisa (1st place male) and Rita Jeptoo (1st place female).  I can’t imagine running 26.2 miles in under 2:30!  They are incredible athletes.  After the elites, I went on to follow my friends.  They were kicking butt!

Then the magical day that is Boston turned to tragedy when a bomb went off at the finish line followed by a second bomb 12 seconds later.  I was at work, and immediately clicked to CNN.com for live coverage.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  And to top of it, the last mile was dedicated to the victims of the Newton massacre last December.  I immediately hopped online to see if my friends were safe, and thankfully they were (so glad they are fast runners!).

As a runner and having just run my first marathon, and many races before that, I know that feeling of excitement, relief and accomplishment when crossing that finish line.  That excitement was stripped of all those runners on Monday, for those who finished and those who were unable to.  I am horrified by this.  My heart breaks for the people who were killed and injured.  Law enforcement has been unbelievable during this, and the nation as a whole in coming together to help.  Since Monday we have identified the bombers.  One has been killed and law enforcement is pursuing the second.  I pray they find him.

My heart is with Boston, and I pray that all those affected by this horrific tragedy find peace and solace.

If you’d like to donate, please go to  OneFundBoston.org.  Boston Stands As One!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My 1st Marathon: 2013 LA Marathon Recap

I’M A MARATHONER!!  Those words seem surreal.  I can’t believe I ran 26.2 miles!

On Sunday, March 17th 2013, St. Patrick’s Day, I ran my first marathon, the LA Marathon for the MDS Foundation in memory of my mom who passed away from MDS last March.  Having such an important reason to run gave me the courage to start training for and the strength to finish the marathon.  I am so happy to say that with the help of family and friends, we raised nearly $3,000 for MDS!  I ran the marathon with my best friend, Lisa, who was running for the Pablove Foundation to support pediatric cancer in memory of her brother Jeff.  She too raised nearly $3,000 for the Pablove Foundation!  I know my mom and her brother are looking down on us and are so proud.

Quick side note, we both designed our race shirts.  Lisa’s had a picture of her and her brother, and my shirt had a picture of me and Mom with my “Imagine A Cure for MDS” logo.  During the race, other runners would run by me and give me a thumbs up, or say encouraging words like “good for you” “I’m sure your mom is proud” “way to go”.  It was amazing.

Now for the recap (complete with a TON of pictures)!  Sit back and enjoy :)

The LA Marathon is known as the “Stadium to the Sea” race because it starts at Dodger Stadium and ends at the Santa Monica Pier.  Well, because it’s a point-to-point race, Lisa and I had to park in Santa Monica and be on the 4am shuttle to take us to Dodger Stadium.  The shuttle dropped us off with a couple hours to starting time, so we found a spot inside Dodger Stadium and did what other runners were doing…we took a short nap.  After waking up at 2am, we needed a power nap.

@ Dodger Stadium around 4:30am

The weather was perfect – cool and overcast.  The race started promptly at 7:30am and we were off!
@ the starting line
Time to run a marathon!!
The first 5 miles were great, then unfortunately my IT band began flaring up, which was much earlier than I anticipated.  I pushed through to mile 10, where I stopped at the medic tent and filled a Ziploc bag with ice and stuck it under my capris on my knee.  That helped a lot.  The spectators along the course were so motivating!  Some people were wearing silly costumes, others were holding clever signs, others blasting music  and cheering.  The crowd along the course was incredible!!!  The sights were a great distraction too – running through Chinatown, past the Pantages Theatre, El Capitan, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and running along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive.  It was an exciting course running through all the cities and seeing all the landmarks, and the volunteers and spectators were awesome!
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Pantages
El Capitan Theater
Grauman's Chinese Theater
The Troubadour!
I received some text messages along the way from family and friends that were so encouraging and powerful that they brought me to tears.  Everyone was so proud of what I was doing, and in that moment it hit me, ‘Holy shit!  I’m actually running a marathon and I’m running it for Mom!  She would be so freaking proud of me!’  I became emotional and so happy!  I was actually doing it!  Around mile 14 my cousin texted me and said she was at mile 16.  I was hurting and very much looking forward to seeing some family.
Running by the Whiskey A Go Go between miles 15 and 16

I got to 16 and there they were with neon signs that were so perfect (zombies & beer!  Do they know me or what?!).
Love the signs!!!
Me with my awesome cousins at mile 16!

I stopped and hugged them and chatted with them for a minute before taking off, and my cousin joined me!  I have to give a HUGE shoutout to her, because she was only planning on running a mile or two with me, but she stuck with me to keep me motivated for TEN MILES!!  She was with me from mile 16 and peeled off just before 26.  Shanu, I love you so much.  Words can’t even express how thankful I am!!

We cruised down Rodeo Drive, and soon we were approaching mile 18.  I got so excited because that’s where my hubby was!!!  He was with Lisa’s hubby (who I’ve been friends since Kindergarten), Lisa’s mom, my friend Amanda and her sister.  I was SO happy to see them all!  I ran up {the hill} to them and smiled so big as I shouted, “I am never running another marathon again!”  I was in so much pain at this point.  But seeing them made all the pain dissipate.  My hubby gave me the biggest hug in the world and told me how proud he is of me and how proud mom is watching me from above.  Baby, you are the best husband in the world.  I love you to infinity and beyond!!  Everyone else gave me big hugs and words of encouragement and we took some pictures (thank you David for being our personal photographer!).
Queue long photo montage:
Mile 18!! (The marker is that giant orange thing behind me)

So excited to see my hubby!

I love this man!!!
Beyond happy!  Seeing them was the best pick-me-up!
I heart zombies
Love this girl!!  Thanks for coming out to cheer me on love!!!!
He's the best hubby :)
Then I was off, my cousin still running with me!  By Mile 20 my hips were so sore and my right knee was in agony that I had to speed walk with some jogging thrown in for the next few miles.  My cousin was awesome though, singing to me, dancing alongside me, telling me stories, and making me laugh.  The miles seemed to tick by despite my pain…Mile 20…Mile 21…Mile 22…Mile 23!  I kept telling myself, ‘This is nothing compared to what mom went though.  This is a cake walk!’  Finally I saw the Mile 24 marker and got so excited.  2.6 miles to go.  We hustled through 24 even though it felt like the longest mile on the course, and finally hit mile 25.

Almost there!  My cousin peeled off shortly thereafter and I was running to the finish.  Then around 25.7 my right calf cramped up and I had to pull over to stretch it.  Stretching helped a lot and I began running again.  I was almost there.

All of a sudden I heard my name and I looked to my left and there was Koko (my dearest friend since 3rd grade!) with her fiancé with the coolest (and very “Maggie”) sign ever:  “May the course be with you” in bright colors!  I waved and picked up my pace.  As I was running, I heard my name again!  I look over and it’s my hubby, David, and Lisa (Lisa finished in 5:07!) cheering me on!  Yes!!  0.4 miles to go and I was in a full on sprint.  Every ounce of pain that my body felt was gone in that moment.  I pushed harder than I thought I could and before I knew it I had crossed the finish line.

My super sexy finish face haha!  I was in so much pain sprinting across that finish.
My right knee gave out a second after this photo.
The second I crossed, my right knee gave out and I started hopping on my left leg.  A medic ran over to check on me (great service!) and I told him I was fine.  I hobbled over to my Daddy who was at the finish line.  Seeing him gave me so much happiness and relief.  I did it.  I just ran a marathon!  26.2 miles.  I felt so accomplished.

I got my medal, and I have to say, it’s the coolest medal I’ve ever seen!  It’s blue ombre with a transparent green shamrock on it!  It’s so pretty!  I met up with everyone where the gates opened about half a mile from the finish and everyone hugged me so tight.  It was incredible and very emotional.  My body hurt like hell but I was nothing but smiles :)  I did it Mommy, I did it for you!  And I ran 26 miles at the age of 26 (check that off my list!)!


My incredible husband.  I love him more than words can express!

She lei'd me :)

With my hubby and my daddy :)
Love you guys so much!!  Thank you for all your support!!!
LA Marathon finishers!
Running for people we love and lost.
We splurged at the expo and bought these $80 jackets.
Hey, it was our first marathon and who know if we'll ever run another full!  Plus, they are super soft :)
Me and my daddy :)  We did it for Mommy!
I apologize if the next bit sounds like an academy award speech, but with this being my first (and probably last) marathon, I have some very important thank yous:

Mommy, you gave me the courage to take on this challenge, and the strength to finish it.  I probably wouldn’t have begun the journey to my marathon if I didn’t have such a powerful cause to run for.  I wish you were still here with us, and I thank you for being my strength, in life, and in death.  I love you always.

Sean, my love, thank you for being on this journey with me.  Your motivational text messages and pictures while I was out on long runs lifted me up and kept me going.  Thank you for getting my ice for my ice baths, and giving me post-run massages.  You are the best husband in the world and I am so lucky to have you as my best friend and partner in life.  I love you.

Daddy, thank you for being there for me every step of the way, especially on my 20-mile training run when you called me at mile 18 and talked me through the pain and fatigue to mile 20.  Thank you for being there to cheer me on at the marathon and seeing me finish.  You are the best daddy a girl could ask for, I love you.

Lisa, my best friend and running buddy, I am so happy we were able to experience our first marathon together.  We ran in memory of people we love and lost, and that is amazing.  You are a rockstar!  I am so proud of your accomplishment.  Girl you ROCKED it!!!  Love you Lis!

My cousins Shahana, Mike, and Aysha who were at mile 16 and gave me the pick-me-up I needed, thank you.  Shahana, the words “thank you” don’t even seem sufficient.  You ran with me the last 10 miles and gave me the motivation to keep pushing when I wasn’t sure if I could.  I am so grateful for your love, and I am so lucky you are my family.

Koko, Jay, Amanda, and Heather, thank you so much for coming out to cheer me on!  Having you guys on the course gave me the boost I needed to keep going.  I love you guys!

David, thank you for coming out to cheer on your remarkable wife, and myself, and for being our personal photographers.  Oh!  And for giving me a piece of watermelon at mile 18…YUM!

My brothers, cousins, and friends who wanted to be there but couldn’t because they are out of town, thank you for all the text message during the race!  Through your messages, it was like you were there.  I treasure your words of inspiration.

My running coach, Chris, thank you for training me these last few months and helping me to become a better runner.  I couldn’t have trained for this without you, especially on those 13-20 mile training runs!!  Thank you!

To all my donors...we did it!!  Your support means the world to me, and because of you, we are $3,000 closer to finding a cure for MDS.  THANK YOU!!!!

My only goal was to finish, and that I did!  According to my Garmin, I ran 26.22 miles in 6:14:50.  I’m totally happy with that.  It’s not about the time it takes…it’s about the journey to get there, and it was quite a journey!  To all my family, friends, coworkers, readers of this blog, Twitter friends, thank you for your endless love and support!!  I seriously could not have crossed that finish line and raised awareness and money for MDS without all of you guys!  With all my heart, THANK YOU!!!  WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!