Category Archives: Alabama

Alabama Bloganistas: Let’s Talk!

Bloganista-defined

I am very excited because in a little more than one week I will have the opportunity to gather with an amazing group of women to gab about blogging — my favorite subject next to what inspiring outfit Beyonce recently wore!

via The Daily Mail, Beyonce in Manhattan on July 2 in a figure-flattering and very on-trend striped dress. That structured bag, though!

via The Daily Mail, Beyonce in a figure-flattering and very on-trend striped dress. Love how her heels mimic the trim of the dress. And that structured bag, though!

Just like Beyonce puts in hours training for a tour, anyone interested in blogging needs to put in some time learning the ins and outs of the blogging biz. The See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design is the perfect place to do so.

mini con graphic

The Mini-Con will be Aug. 1 at the Vestavia Hills Public Library from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Lunch, snacks and more are included with your ticket (buy your ticket here!), and you will hear from a variety of bloggers, including myself! I will speak on the “Blog Like A Boss” panel about addressing body image issues in addition to fashion and fitness and how my professional experience has helped my blog, and vice versa!

To get us pumped up for the Mini-Con, Javacia, the founder of See Jane Write, is hosting a mixer at Collage Designer Consignment in Vestavia from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday, July 23. The event is free, but please register here. And get more details about the special offerings for the night here! I plan to be there by 6 p.m., so I hope you will introduce yourself — I know I plan to try on some clothes, too, so let’s shop!

If you’re a blogger in Alabama, I can’t express how valuable last year’s Mini-Con was for me — learning more about blogging but also making wonderful contacts with inspiring women. I hope you can join us on Aug. 1!

Advertisements

“Jersey Belle”: A Review By Another Jersey Girl Who Moved South

"Jersey Belle" Jaime (left, courtesy of Bravo) and me, eating pizza on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

“Jersey Belle” Jaime (left, courtesy of Bravo) and me, eating pizza (folded in half, of course) on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.

Though I wasn’t born in New Jersey, I’ve spent more years there than elsewhere, so I consider myself a Jersey girl. I love Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, Italian food is my favorite and I worked on the Seaside Heights boardwalk for several summers during college.

Now I live in the South. I moved to Birmingham several years ago to work at a magazine and grew to love it here. I also met my husband here, so now I would like to consider myself somewhat of a Southerner (at least my Northern friends and family say I have the accent!). I love pecan pie and football (though not as much as these folks in Alabama do!). Some of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen are right here in Birmingham, and I love the friendly people I meet every day, and men who hold the door open for women.

But I’ll probably never be a considered a “true” Southerner. I don’t care for sweet tea. I would never, EVER skip a friend’s wedding because of a football game. And while I love to monogram things, I had to Google which letter went where. I had no clue.

So when I watched “Jersey Belle” this morning before work, I had a lot of mixed emotions. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a “Real Housewives” type of show about Jaime, a Jersey girl who fell in love with a man from Birmingham, Ala., and found herself surrounded by lots of Southern ladies who she is sometimes too brash for or feels she doesn’t fit in with. I found myself tweeting in defense of, or in horror of, both the Jersey girl on the show and the Southern women from Mountain Brook.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.35.16 AM Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.35.45 AM

When it comes down to it, the show is produced to make you feel this way. They want people to feel riled up about one side or the other, or as in my case, both. They exaggerate stereotypes to elicit passionate responses — and gauging from my Twitter and Facebook feeds, they were successful!

Some of the stereotypes were hilarious to me. I know people from Mountain Brook. Not everyone drives a Ferrari or owns a horse. And not all Jersey girls talk so explicitly about sex (at least not in mixed company!) or wear huge hoop earrings.

Two things they did get right — Southern women do love to throw a tea party, and you know what? They’re freakin’ beautiful. Some of the prettiest table settings and yummiest food I’ve ever had. Also, Jersey girls love a lasagna. Or at least this one does! Maybe it’s cliche, but living in N.J., you learn to cook and love Italian food. You also learn how easy it is to make up a yummy batch and bring it anywhere — a graduation party, to new parents, and yes, bridal showers. We served Italian food at my bridal shower in N.J., and I loved every bite! I would’ve been disappointed if we didn’t have penne with vodka sauce.

And I have to address the cannoli thing. Look, I have met people here in Birmingham who have never had a cannoli. If this is the case for you, they have them in the dessert case at Whole Foods. Go get one immediately. Preferably with chocolate. But I can’t make fun of people who have never heard of cannolis, because there are dishes from the South that I had never had until I moved here — like pimiento cheese. Or those white meringue thingys that people make at Christmas … I don’t even know the name of them!

If you don’t take this show too seriously, it is entertaining, no doubt. It brings up funny, but sometimes cringe-worthy and highly exaggerated, stereotypes. And you have to take it all with a grain of salt because the show is produced that way. They cut and edit on purpose to make Southerners look one way and Jersey girls look another. We all know people are more complex than that.

But there is one serious issue that I have with this show.

The lack of diversity on the show really bothers me. I want to give the show the benefit of the doubt because we’ve only seen one episode. Maybe there will be people of different races or economic backgrounds in future episodes, we’ll see. But I think what worries me is other people around the U.S. will get this picture of “the South” by watching “Jersey Belle” that isn’t at all representative of what this region is really like. I felt the same way when “Jersey Shore” was so popular — that people would think everyone from Jersey is just like Snooki (when Snooki is actually from N.Y., but that’s neither here nor there).

Maybe it’s the area this show is filmed in — mainly Mountain Brook — or maybe it’s the generation of the people they are filming. But I hope people outside of Birmingham know that there are people here who have friends from all different backgrounds, that we’re a city that is embracing togetherness and doing a lot of great things to lift this city out of its dark past and move it forward. I don’t want that to be lost on this show. But I have a bad feeling it won’t be addressed at all.

So will I continue to watch “Jersey Belle?” Probably. It’s cliche to say, but it’s like a bad car accident that you just can’t help looking at. I’d like to see if the racial and economic dividing lines are addressed, though.

What about you? Will you watch the show? What did you think of the first episode?

Weigh-in Friday (And National Healthy Weight Week)

This post is all over the place; my apologies.

This week’s weigh-in is actually not a weigh-in. I decided to save myself from the inevitable letdown when stepping on the scale this morning and, instead, I am celebrating National Healthy Weight Week.

Really, I’m copping out. After a weekend of indulgences, despite my intent to behave, I just wasn’t ready to face the scale today. Since I’ve been back from a long weekend away, I haven’t done a whole lot better. I did count points, and I tried to drink a lot of water, but I wasn’t making the best food choices in the world. Long hours at work, plus stress, had me eating snacks that weren’t the best — for me, or anyone else!

So, when I saw this Tweet from Shape magazine yesterday:

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 7.21.41 PMI thought, well isn’t that perfect timing? Right now I need to keep my focus on what I’m doing good for myself and not beat myself up too much. Sure, I need to recognize that when I travel, I’m probably not going to be on my game. And I need to plan accordingly so I can make up for it in the weeks before and after. Really, I need to just eat better when I’m out of town. Period. But as long as I realize that I struggle with this, and I try to do better on either side of a vacation, then I’m fine with that.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me use the hashtag #2013GetIt. What this means is, this year, I’m going to get “it” — whatever “it” is that I strive for. I’m going to get healthier, more fit, smaller, faster, stronger… And as I’ve said before, I’m going to do that this year by focusing on each and every little step, paying attention to how these small things add up to the big things. I’ll do it while encouraging myself along the way, instead of giving in to negative voices.

So, instead of getting on the scale today and subjecting myself to the barrage of insults that usually comes after I’ve over-indulged, I’m going to start my morning out right with a Weight Watchers breakfast sandwich and pineapple. I’m going to drink plenty of water. I’m going to attend spinning class at 5:30 on a Friday night, and I’m going to love every minute! I’m going to appreciate that my body allows me to do all this, and even when my muscles are sore afterwards, I’ll appreciate that, too. Sore muscles = change.

I know some people (Javacia & Sherri, I’m rooting for you!) who are participating in Scale Back Alabama and I’m cheering them on! The effort to lose at least 10 lbs. in 10 weeks is an awesome goal, and I’m joining in, despite being unable to officially join a team in time for today’s deadline. It’s OK. I have my own deadline: March 29. I will strive to lose 10 lbs. by this date, the day before my next scheduled vacation. I’ve shied away from naming an actual number when it comes to weight-loss goals lately because, frankly, I’m afraid to fail. But I think I need the push. I need the accountability. I need to strive for a specific goal, rather than a pie-in-the-sky one. Despite wanting to focus on the little things, I need those little things to still add up to a big thing: weight loss.

So, I’ll be back with a weigh-in next Friday, and I will be on my way to losing that 10 lbs. Are you with me? Are you ready to Get It in 2013?

Home

It’s amazing sometimes how far away we can feel from the people we love. This past weekend I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride. Friday afternoon as I walked a trail through Red Mountain Park for the first time, I was taken aback by the beauty surrounding me. I love being in the woods, seeing butterflies soar beside me, watching the sunlight through the trees. Something about it makes me feel so peaceful and in tune with myself.

Image

Then I was faced with places I wanted to be: a Bruce Springsteen concert in New Jersey with my good friends; Beaver Stadium on a crisp fall day watching my beloved Nittany Lions score touchdowns with my best girlfriends; in my sister’s living room in Massachusetts, making silly faces and baby noises with my mom as we watch my niece giggle and coo.

It wasn’t until Sunday morning that, while I still would’ve loved to be with any of those other people, I finally stopped and looked around me. I was finally able to stop wishing for something else and breathe in deep, content with where I was. I had just bid farewell to my loving boyfriend who wished me luck on my run, and I stepped onto Lakeshore Trail with purpose. As I started to run, I let everything go and started to smile. I smiled because how lucky am I? I have people scattered near and far who I love and who love me. I can use my two legs and two feet to move myself through this world and enjoy the beautiful scenes around me. No matter where I am or who I’m with at the time, I am truly blessed. I am home.

Image

 

Finding Community

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I learned that my first-ever article in Birmingham Magazine was out on newsstands, and I haven’t let you know about it yet!

The June issue of Birmingham Magazine

I had the privilege of interviewing some local residents about their weight-loss blogs. These amazing individuals are Stephen Vinson at Who Ate My Blog?; Jen West at The Jen West Quest; and Will Nevin at Duct Tape Wedding Ring.

We talked about what inspired them to lose weight and why blogging was a great tool for them. They all felt accountability was the key, and I know from personal experience how important that is! Simply knowing that I want/need/have to discuss my journey on this blog keeps me from giving up. It doesn’t always help me succeed 100% of the time. That comes from me, inside my head and my heart. But the spark that keeps me trying? A big part of that comes from writing here as much as possible and from the feedback I get from readers.

There are plenty of times in my past where I’ve given up completely on trying to lose weight and get healthier. I’d go months without exercising or eating healthfully. While my weight has gone up and down over the past two years, I’m still down overall and, most importantly to me, I’m still trying. I’m still pushing myself and figuring out what works and simply not giving up!

What inspires you to not give up? I know these bloggers inspire me every day to try harder. Do you have people in your life who inspire you this way?

Ease On Down The Road

A famous dance critic, Edwin Denby, once said: “There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.”

After participating in Birmingham’s first-ever Dance Walk, I have to agree! I wrote about how this even came to be recently, and I’m happy to say that we had about 20 of us gathered at Railroad Park Sat. afternoon ready to boogie. And as we danced our way through the park, we picked up a few more on the way!

I’m not sure anything can describe the Dance Walk more than this picture:

That’s me in the center wearing a grey T-shirt and black shorts. Don’t be jealous of my awesome moves. (Thanks to Buddy Roberts for the photo!)

The whole point of this gathering, in my opinion, was to meet a bunch of people who I follow on Twitter but never met in person before, and to move. As the Michael Jackson song we danced to says, all of us, sometimes, need a little inspiration to “Ease On Down The Road.” Whether that’s to be inspired to make new friends or keep up an exercise routine or move ahead with your career. Sometimes, easing on down the road is all you gotta do … and doing it with a few friends makes life a little sweeter!

A huge, HUGE thanks to Sherri, our Dance Walk Goddess, who really put this whole thing together. Maybe we’ll do it again soon and you can come join in the silliness and fun! I know you want to look as cool as I do in the photo above, right? (Riiight???)

Speaking of friends and silliness, I had a great time this weekend meeting up with out-of-town-friends and local peeps at Magic City Brewfest, an annual event here that raises money for Free The Hops.

Brewfest takes place at the old Sloss Furnace in downtown Birmingham.

The day was much cooler than I’d expected, so we had a great afternoon trying a few different beers and then making our way to Rogue Tavern, where my BF joined us for dinner.

And throughout all this fun this weekend, I’m very happy to say, I stuck to my Weight Watchers points! I did indulge a little with my meals and I used most of my extra weekly points. But I’m happy with my strategy of being extra careful and only sticking to daily points during the week, then using extra points on the weekend to enjoy outings with my friends and BF. I think the key is, with the extra points, I can indulge a little, but I know how to keep it in check because there’s only so many extra points. And if I find using ALL the extra points in a given week makes me not as successful on the scale, then I can use less of them and see how that works out. I was so pleased with my weigh-in on Friday, and I think next week’s weigh-in will be a good one too!

I’m planning to fit in a few workouts this week, I’m just not sure what yet! I definitely want to run 3 miles, and hopefully go to Body Pump again. I’ve been SORE after going to that class for the first time in awhile last Thurs., but I want to keep lifting weights regularly because I know it’s just as important as cardio. Maybe a spinning and/or Zumba class will be in the cards this week too.

Did you have a successful weekend, eating and workout-wise? Hope you squeezed in some fun too!

31 Days of Happiness: Day 8, March 8

You knew it was coming…if I was going to write about why New Jersey makes me happy, I’d have to write about why Birmingham, Ala., makes me happy too.

Take today, for instance, and the 78-degree, sunny weather we’re experiencing. Or the fact that the flowering trees are in bloom. The free fitness classes at Railroad Park, one of my favorite spots in Birmngham, are back on every weekday at 6:00. I just had lunch with a friend who I met while working at Southern Living magazine, and I’ll see another friend from those days this evening.

Overlooking Railroad Park

That’s the thing about the South, or maybe it’s just Birmingham, I’m not sure. But your friends? They become like a second family. And thank goodness because my actual family is far, far away from me most of the time. The men and women I’ve met down here have welcomed me with open arms. And that’s one of the greatest things about this city. Despite being fairly large, it feels like home. After a full four years of living here, I know most of the streets well. I can tell you where to drive to see cool, fading, old murals. I know where to see the best views of the city (Vulcan, or hike up Arlington to Cahaba Road from the Highlands neighborhood), where to get the best BBQ (Saw’s in Edgewood), where to go for a cupcake (Dreamcakes) or wine (The Wine Loft) and where to shop (Homewood, The Summit, Collage in Vestavia).

It didn’t take me long here for it to feel like home. And I know the credit for that goes to the people I’ve met — my old copy desk crew at Southern Living, the fellow interns I brefriended, and outside friends who introduced me to the United Way Young Leaders Society and other volunteering opportunities.

That’s another thing I love about this city — its people give back. Nowhere have I felt the spirit to give to others like I have here in Birmingham. It’s inspiring. It pushed me to make a big commitment and join Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I’ll always be glad that I did so.

This city is also full of serious runners…and people, like me, who aspire to be serious runners and have a good time giving it our all. People of all sizes and fitness levels are, I think, embraced here and encouraged to try to find healthier lifestyles. Sure, there are hurdles (Lord knows it’d be hard to stop enjoying that Southern food every now and then!), but I do think many people here enjoy the outdoors and all types of activities — from the Birmingham Zoo to the botanical gardens, to Oak Mountain State Park or simply a stroll around Caldwell, Rhodes and Rushton parks.

I’ve been inspired by the history of this city and hopeful to see how far we’ve come, knowing we still have a long ways to go, but believing we will get there. Exciting things are happening downtown — new bars, restaurants and stores are opening; apartments are being built (including my new building!); a ballpark is coming downtown to create a family-friendly area in the heart of the city. Parents bring their kids to the McWane Science Center in droves and people of all ages enjoy the concerts and movies offered at the Alabama Theatre.

I may never be accepted as a true Southerner, what with my Yankee roots, and that’s OK with me. I love the North and I’ve grown to love the South. But it’s Birmingham, especially, that has opened my eyes to what this region was, is and could be. I’m proud to call it home.