Saturday, April 28, 2012

Running for Pro and Paul

I am certain of many things in life.


True love.

Second chances.

Good people.

The belief that everything happens for a reason.

And I'm certain that I have the horrible luck.

Last night, I was BEYOND excited that Justin's parents got me a "Run Happy" cape for the 5k.

Brooks Running re-tweeted this picture of me and posted it on their Pinterest board.

The excitement quickly turned me into a five-year-old child.

"Rodger- take a picture of me jumping in the air!!" I yelled.

Of course the picture didn't even turn out well...
I landed on the ground hard - and my foot couldn't handle the impact, so it quickly gave out.

I feel backward.

My foot instantly started tingling.

"Are you OK?" Rodger asked me while laughing.

I lied, "Yeah, I think I'm OK."

I tried to get up and it hurt SO bad to put any weight on my foot. Of course, the day before a race, and I jack up my foot.

Friday night = reading Runner's World, icing my right foot and playing Draw Something.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Rodger asked me again.

It was time to admit it.

"No, I'm not doing too really hurts," I said.

When I woke up this morning, my foot felt worse.

I limped to the bathroom.

"Nothing is stopping me today," I thought.

I decided I would gimp the entire race if needed. After all, my heart is in it for the Pro (Doug) and Paul, Meggie Dial's father, who both are fighting Parkinson's Disease.

All of the money raised from the 5K and golf tournament this weekend is going to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

I've only met Doug a few times and I've never met Paul, but I felt so connected to them this morning.

I'm running-walking-gimping-crawling for them.

Whatever it takes, I'll finish this race with them in my heart.

"I decided I'm doing the race," I told Justin. "People like Doug and Paul fight harder than me...experience more pain than me..on a daily basis. I'm doing this for them."

In my heart.

Determined to finish.

 So, Bandit and I started to stretch and get ready for the our run.

Stretching together.

The rain started to pick up, but I tried to keep my spirits bright.

When we got to the Elk's, we pulled in next to an older couple.

"I sure hope they are walking," I joked. "I need some walking buddies."

Never would I imagine that I would be crossing the finish line with this older man (and his wife would kick our butt's!!). I'll get to that part soon.

Everyone loved my cape- and Bandit. He was SUCH a ham (just like his mother).

He was running up to everyone and giving kisses like they were going out of style.

Rodger, bless him, taped up my heel before the run. We sneaked into the ballroom...and that was when my first dose of inspiration hit.

Justin and I celebrated our wedding reception in this hall.
I can't believe it'll be two years in May.

After I was taped up, I had about five minutes before the race would start.

I ran into Doug.

He looked tired and weak. The disease is certainly started to take a toll on him. My heart melted and I wanted nothing more than to give him a giant hug.

He probably thought I was about to flash him when I pulled up my shirt and said, "DOUG - Look what I made for you!"

He read my shirt and gave me the biggest smile..."Wow," he said. "Thank you, man!"

I'm not sure why he called me man, but it made me laugh.

"That's awesome," he said still smiling. "Good luck out there!"

Another dose of inspiration-support and love from Doug. I walked away and wanted to cry. This might not be a shocker to some people- who know I cry very easily- but I couldn't help myself. I was so happy that I made the decision to run for the cause. I can only imagine what Doug, Paul and their loved ones go through each and every day.

I found my biggest fan and my running partner with just a few minutes to go...

Awkward family photo.
Bandit is giving us the butt.
Justin is judging Bandit for giving us the butt.
I'm probably laughing with an adorable old man.

We walked to the start line. The rain was picking up and it was REALLY cold.

Don't let the weather defeat you, I reminded myself.

Don't let your injury defeat you either, I said. 

"This is the second year for this race," Rodger said. "And we are all here for this man."

"YAYYY DOUG!" I yelled from the back of the line.

People clapped and a few others cheered for Doug.

And with that, the race started. I was standing with Rodger's friend from high school, Greg, and his girlfriend Tammi. They were power walking the entire thing.

"Well, I think I'm going to start off running," I said to them. "If nothing else, I can say I tired."

"You go girl," they said and wished me off.

Every single step hurt. I tried not to think of the pain and pressure, but it was overwhelming. My pace was VERY slow, probably 13:30 min / mile.

And then Bandit started acting weird.

He had to poop.

And per my luck, the poop bag I had with me blew out of my pocket.


So, Bandit takes a hug dump on the golf course and I had no clue what do it.

I took off my hat and placed it just in front of the poop.

Someone laughed, "She marked the poop!"

I didn't have a choice; I didn't want an angry golfer to find me later covered in dog poop.

I did my slow jog for about a half mile and stopped for a walking break.

"Who is holding who back?," someone asked as they passed me. "The dog or the owner?"

"Oh definitely the owner," I said and tried to keep my spirits high.

I saw Bill, the older gentlemen from earlier. His wife, Marsha, was a power walking machine. She was already a quarter mile ahead of us. Keeping up with her was my goal, which proved to be unsuccessful.

Bill was carrying both of their umbrellas. He was power walking pretty fast too. And eventually, he passed me.

I was slowing down.

I needed a burst of motivation.

I thought Doug, Paul and Meggie.

Meggie is running a FULL marathon today, Ashley. Get it in gear, I told myself.

And with that, I looked at Bandit and said, "You ready buddy?"

We were coming up on Bill and he yelled back, "Are you going to pass me or what?"

"I've been trying to," I said back. "You and your wife just keep beating me."

I saw the club house and thought it was the finish line (I didn't have my watch or RunKeeper application working).

But it wasn't the finish line.

I was annoyed. 

I saw Justin.

"One more mile!" Justin said.

"Are you kidding me?" I said. "This is bullshit. I think the course is wrong," I told Justin.

He laughed at how mad I was...but that's what happens when an injured runner thinks they are almost done...then they learn 1.1 more miles to go.

I ran down the hill and then started walking for a minute. I don't know if I was hallucinating or if Justin really yelled for me..but I heard, "Keep going, Ash!"

And I took off with a light jog again.

I needed to stay motivated somehow. My foot was completely numb. And I couldn't figure out if it hurt more to walk or run.

So, I decided to play a game with myself.

Okay, if you run past that small tree- you're doing pretty good, I told myself.

If you run past that big tree, you're a way better than Bret Michaels.

Before I knew it, I ran past the small tree AND the big tree.

Eat your heart out Bret Michaels.

I kept running. I was beyond proud of myself at this point.

Then, I heard loud thunder and saw the BIGGEST strike of lightening.


Everything shook!

Bandit and I both jumped.

The lightening struck something and I saw smoke in the air.

Holy CRAP, I thought. I better run faster or I'm going to be smoking next!

I kept running, and I was coming up on Bill, who I noticed was leaning forward too much.

I looked at Bill and then whatever was smoking caught my eye again.

And by the time I looked at Bill again, he was on the ground.

"Are you okay!?" I yelled.

And started running toward him as fast as I could

I put my arm around his back.

"Hi, how are you feeling?" I asked.

"Thanks for stopping, but I don't want to hold you up," he said. "I'm fine - you just keep going."

Yeah right, I thought. You were beating me anyway, buddy.

"No, I'm going to stay here with you," I said back. "Do you want me to call someone for help?"

"No!" he demanded. "I'm fine."

He stood up and said, "Go ahead- I don't want to keep you and your dog in the rain."

"Oh we are fine!" I said. "Trust me. I am injured, so I am in no rush."

 With that said, we took off together power walking. And I was determined to never leave his side.

The rain started pouring down on us harder and the wind was picking up too.

We were coming up over a hill and I noticed he started to lean forward again. He was falling over again.

"I'm sorry, my legs are just weak," he said.

"Don't be sorry!" I said. "Let's just take a break."

So we squatted down a bit.

"I guess I should get your name," I said. "What is your name?"

"Bill," he said back.

"Well Bill, my name is Ashley and this here is Bandit," I said.

Bandit shared his love with us by shaking off his wet fur.

"Goodness Bandit, not now!" I said.

"Are you sure you don't want me to call someone for help?" I asked Bill.

"No," he said again. "Not when we are this close to finishing."

"Okay," I said, admiring his dedication.

I tried to change the subject for a minute, "Your wife sure is a rockstar! She is a power walking machine! What's her name?"

"Marsha," Bill said back to me. "And yes -she is. I don't even try to keep up with her."

We waited a few more seconds, and a golf cart drove by us while were squatting on the ground.

"Are you guys okay?" he asked.

"We are good!" Bill yelled before I could respond.

Bill seemed to be doing okay. He was talking fine, and knew where he was...I truly just think his legs were weak and the wet ground wasn't making it any easier on anyone.

"We are going to make it," I said.

I helped Bill up and asked him if he wanted to link arms. 

"No," he said - being a stubborn old man. "My legs are just tired. I'm fine."

We started walking again and he said, "I'm going to slow things down."

"I am in NO rush, Bill," I said. "We can go as slow as you want."

A few minutes later we were coming up the hill and I saw Justin and Chuck holding the stop watch, "Run, Ash! Sprint across the finish line."

But I made a promise to Bill.

We were finishing together.

So, I stood by his side and we crossed the finish line at the same time. 

Bill got first in his age group.

And I got second in my age group (there were only two of us in the group- but hey, I'm still proud!!).

Drenched, but happy that we finished strong.
Marsha came down to get Bill, "Are you okay?" she asked.

"Oh, I'm fine!" he said.

Then he looked back at me, "Thank you, Ashley. Thank you."

I almost cried, I know- I cry all of the time.

But I kept thinking about what could have happened if I wasn't out there with him.

 I realized that every second in our life matters...

you are where you should be for a reason.

I grabbed lunch with Greg, Tammi, Bill and Marsha after the race.

Marsha was, of course, the cutest. She was so happy and positive. I learned that she is avid mini marathoner. We've actually done the same races- The Indianapolis Marathon (half marathon every October in Fort Harrison State Park) and the Indy Mini marathon. I hope I'm still that active when I'm in my late 60's.

When saying goodbye, Bill said, "It was nice meeting you, Ashley. Thank you for picking me up out there... twice."

"Of course," I said. "But you helped pick me up too. You gave me motivation to finish when I really needed it."

I told you earlier that I am certain everything happens for a reason. My husband would say the reason for my careless injury was a lack of support from my shoes to handle the impact of my jump.

But I think my injury occurred so that I could finish the race with Bill by my side.

Much love,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Words from Warren

"You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don't do too many things wrong."

-Warren Buffet

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Morning Speech

Would you guess that I get nervous about speaking in public?



But it's a good kind of nervous - the kind that leaves me with a "high on life feeling" when I am finished.

This morning, I spoke at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast through School on Wheels.  They wanted someone to explain how the group was developed, what it stands for, upcoming events and how people can get involved. As the Vice President of Membership of SPOKES, I was a perfect fit.

I was early - per usual - early to the event. I walked up to the Toyota car they are raffling off (if anyone donates $100 or more to School on Wheels and / or joins SPOKES - they are entered to win this amazing 2012 Toyota).

It appeared that that someone was in the car when I drove by, so I waved.

It was not a person.

It was a blowup doll, who I later learned is named Daryl.

Raise your hand if you waved at a blowup doll today. 

Yeah - that's what I thought, just me.

KD spoke before me about the Project Life Mentor Program. She joked that she didn't come prepared with notes or a written out speech, so she was just going to wing it.

I would be a hot mess if I showed up without notes. If you paid any attention to my tweets this week, I was practicing my speech in the shower, in traffic, during my runs and any other "down time" the week allowed.

Despite her lack of notes, she did an amazing job telling her story about how she got involved with School on Wheels / Project Life.

And then she did it.

She got me super emotional right before it was my turn to speak.

"My mentee has Type 2 Diabetes," KD said. "So, I work with her to overcome the side effects and implications of the illness. And this is really near and dear to me...because...two weeks ago one of my best friends died from a diabetic coma."

My throat tightened.

I was fighting my own tears.

I immediately thought of my step-mom morning I found her with VERY low blood sugar. My dad had already left for work, so it was up to me to find the glucose shot, mix it correctly and inject it into her. I was terrified that I would do something wrong, but my dad coached me over on the phone....thankfully, her sugars returned to normal and she was fine in a few hours.

Then, I thought of my grandpa- who battled diabetes his entire life. He lost a leg to the disease, and eventually died in his sleep one night.

The rest of her speech was a blur, and before I knew name was being called.

"So, I'd like to welcome up Ashley Seeeb," Laura said.

A few people laughed because earlier she (and most of the SOW staff) was asking how to pronounce my name.

"And I promised I wouldn't butcher her name," Laura added.

"You did great, Laura- thank you for the introduction," I said. "I am the exact opposite of KD. I was the weirdo who practiced my speech in the shower and car and everywhere let's see how this goes..."

The group laughed and with that I was sharing my story about how I got involved with School on Wheels.

People laughed at my jokes and smiled at my stories.

I tried to make eye contact and smile at people all across the room. My speech teacher would have been proud.

Overall, they seemed very engaged with what I was saying about SPOKES, which is a community outreach group that helps children impacted by homelessness in our city through networking and social events.

My voice felt shaky - and I'm sure a few people noticed that - but I was still trying to overcome the emotions from KD's speech. I remember thinking - if you start crying, just pretend that you love SPOKES so much it brings you to tears.

I came back to my table and one of the amazing SOW staff members (Sam) said, "Beautiful - you did a great job!"

It was the perfect boast of confidence, and with that- my "high on life" feeling was in full effect.

At the end of the event, I had three people come up and express interest in SPOKES.



I even got the chance to meet a few of my Twitter friends in "real life" (I'm looking at you, Melissa).

Driving home, I decided to be spontaneous. I plan nearly every second of my day. It's a bad habit. Sometimes I wish I could just walk out the door- with no where to go and nothing on my mind.

And for the first time in awhile- I had no plans.

So I called up Sarah and Dusty Frey - and we were off to go vinyl shopping for Happy Record Store Day.

Dusty creeping in the background.
I didn't buy any vinyl records - because we don't have a record player- but I did get some awesome country music CDs for our DJ business ($1 CDs - check please)! Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Tricia Yearwood and don't forget my random find - Oasis.

I also found some AWESOME gourmet dog treats for Bandit, shaped like squirrels.

Best dog mom ever.
That's me.

I came up, snuggled with Bandit and took a nap.

Cuddle bug.

I ended my Saturday evening by having dinner with my family. We had lots of laughs, good food (salad and mini burgers), great brew (Gumball Head) and Starbucks (iced green tea) for dessert.

The Starbucks addiction runs in the family.
Love you, Dad!

I could really get used to this relaxing and going-with-the-flow thing.

Much love,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Is My Sister This Adorable?

I think I read her post about 4 times.

In a row.

Maybe 32 times.

But who is counting?

I don't even know how I could possibly compete this such kind words from my baby sister.

The biggest takeaway from her post?  

You should ALWAYS take time to remind your loved ones how much they mean to you...

I don't know if Sarah was reading my mind or what, but this message couldn't have possibly came on a better day.

I needed this message.

I needed this reminder.

I need to tell her the same more often.

I love you baby sis.

The best part about having a sister is having a friend.

Much love,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bandit's Morning Trick

It's no mystery that I'm afraid of aliens, sharks, tornadoes, evil spirits, the dark and creepy white vans, to name a few.

When I was getting ready this morning, I looked over and saw the bathroom door slowly creep open.


Then I saw it.

The tip of his little nose.

Always smiling.

As I walked over the door, Bandit quietly - yet quickly, hopped onto the bed.

He was trying to get comfortable - to look like he had been there the whole time -when I called him out.

"You little jokster!!!" I said."Trying to make mommy think ghosts are living in this house.."

He jumped up on me, placed his paws my shoulders and gave me LOTS of kisses.

It was the perfect way to start my morning.

He made me laugh.

He made me feel loved.

He made me answer this question:

Why so serious!?!

Lately, I've found myself getting bogged down in an endless cycle of tasks and worries.

Sending emails.

Attending meetings.

Making dinner plans.

Updating designs.

Creating playlists.

Traveling to see family and friends.

Training for my half marathon.

Cleaning (kind of).

Cooking (okay, I'm lying - you know I don't cook, just making sure you are still paying attention).

But really, life has been insane lately. The past few months have flown by.  And just this morning, I realized that I haven't made time to listen to the chirping birds, take a walk with my family or guess what shapes the clouds are making in the bright blue sky.

Best of all, this morning Bandit made me realize the importance of escaping my endless cycle of thoughts and worries to enjoy the simplicity of a morning trick. 

Don't forget to acknowledge your loved ones (or fur sons) when they are trying to comfort your soul and ease your mind.

People let me tell you about my best friend...
Much love,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Full-Time Job for Life

I remember being at my bridal shower and reading the advice cards:

Don't go to bed mad. Sleep on the couch.

Your wife is always right. You are always wrong.

Marriage is the hardest full-time job of your life.

Even when you are mad, don't forget to say "I love you" before you leave the house.

Why all of the negativity? The fighting? The hard working part? The being right vs. being wrong battles?

I didn't understand the advice.

Isn't marriage all butterflies, my little ponies and unicorns?

Don't married people kiss in the rain like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams every single day?


They don't.


Marriage is difficult.

Even the most wonderful people and happiest couples fight.


Because every single person is different. 

One night a few weeks ago, Justin and I were experiencing one of those moments.

A fight.

I couldn't tell you why.

Being that I'm insanely emotional on any given day AND I was having a horrible month (March eeek), it really could have been ANYTHING to make me upset.

I told him he was being annoying.

"Of course I'm being annoying," Justin said back. "I'm your husband. We live together. We are married. I'm going to be annoying!!!"

"Oh yeah, well then why do people get married? If people are so annoying?" I asked back. I didn't really know what to say...because he was right. And at that moment, I would NEVER admit it.

"Maybe because they love each other. Maybe because they want to have kids together. And grow old together. Maybe I think that sounds pretty damn cool!!!" Justin said back.

I didn't know what to say back so I just blurted out, "OH YEAH! YOU THINK THAT'S COOL?!"

Really, Ash?

Nice comeback, I thought.

But what can you say to that?

That is cool.

And cute.

So we just started laughing. About how silly we sounded.

And within 5 minutes, we were giving each other a goodnight kiss.

No one slept on the couch.

No one went to bed mad.

We exchanged "I love you's" and snoozed off...

Even when Justin and I are in the middle of a fight, he always brings me back down to Earth.

He always makes me realize how much he loves me.
How much he will never give up on me us.

Marriage isn't easy.

It truly is a full-time job.

It takes constant work.

Constant growth.

Constant desire to be better, together.

"I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life."
-Rita Ruder

Love you J-Dog.

Thanks for reminding me that marriage is worth living, fighting and annoying someone for every single day.

 Much love,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


These deviled eggs are adorable.

That's all I have for now.


"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

-Mae West

Monday, April 2, 2012

You Need a Vacation: Night 2

How I Almost Ruined Our Vacation

I drank enough water before bed to wake up feeling pretty good. We had a free breakfast pass (again, thank you Hilton Honors Gold status), so that was an amazing way to start my day.

Then it was off to the gym, which was surprisingly nice! 

I wasn't in the running mood. Sometimes I feel like I could run for miles and miles, and other days I can't even run for more than 4 minutes. Unfortunately, I was the ladder.

So, I decided to do circuit training. Quick intervals of cardio broken up by sets of abs, squats and arm exercises.

And it wouldn't be a complete workout if I didn't take a picture of myself in the mirror.
But it wasn't long before I did the MOST AWFUL thing ever at the gym.


Number one, Aunt Flow is getting ready to visit so I am instantly 5+ lbs heavier!

Number two, I had drank all night.

Number three, I ate all day / night.

Weighing myself was a really bad idea. Did I mention that yet?

And when the scale said 229 lbs, I almost puked. 10 lbs.

Really? How does that even happen?

THANKFULLY Justin later weighed himself to confirm the scale was 5 lbs heavier than our scale at home.

Either way, I was so pissed off to see that number. And it showed when I came back to the room.

"What's wrong you?" Justin asked. He could sense something was wrong.

"I did something stupid," I said.

He was probably thinking I made out with the bell boy (joking) or spent a shit ton of money at the Macy's down the road (not joking, I really wanted to do that).

"I weighed myself," I admitted. I told him the dreadful number that I do not want to repeat outloud.

"Ashley, this happens every single month," Justin said. "You get ready to start your period and then you blow up! Okay that sounded really shitty, but you know what I'm saying. I put my arms around you at The Arch and it was a literally like I was squeezing a swollen uterus. You literally gain 5 to 10 lbs and are bloated for a few days!"

(See ladies, he can be a "guy" sometimes. He is not "cute" all of the time, but I truly appreciate his honesty so much!!)

"You're right," I said, still a little disappointed about the number...

"So you just have to prepare yourself for that and don't give up," Justin said. "Because in a week or so, you'll be back to your regular weight. But you can't freak out. You can't eat like shit and give up and think everything you're doing is worthless. Because you're doing great. Your hitting your goals. Just don't give up."

And with that mini pep talk, we headed off to the zoo. Penguins and elephants were certain to perk me up!

Projectile Penguins

 I was overly excited to see the penguins at the zoo. They are my absolute favorite. Next to the meerkats.

Shy Guy hiding behind the pimp cave (one penguin found a penny and brought it over to another penguin, who was hiding this cave. Thus, the pimp cave was established).
 It was morning time and apparently penguins are not morning folks. One penguin, who we will call Milo, came out of a cave and stretched his flippers in the air. Then he shook us little booty.

Justin pretended to read his mind and said, "Good morningggggg everyone!"

Then we watched as a few other penguins creeped out from the cave.

I was distracted by the booty shaking penguin, when Justin said, "Well hey - look at this little guy! I wonder what he is....OMGGG!"

Just then I looked over and saw a penguin bend over and project green poop all over the pimp cave, which Shy Guy was hiding behind. Like 10 year old boys, we couldn't stop laughing.

The pooping penguin, who we will call Otis, looked over at us and said, "I don't give a damn" and then walked back into his cave.

Otis was never seen again. But we talked about him and his splashing poop attack on Shy Guy once every 30 minutes until Sunday night.

We went on to see other beautiful animals, all of which reminded me of Bandit, and then we went to lunch at Fitz's.

Homemade Root Beer!
The food was pretty good! I settled on a turkey burger (no cheese) and seafood gumbo instead of fries. That was my attempt at eating healthy.

Next up, we went back to the hotel to take a nap and watch cable TV.

No vacation is complete without a mid-afternoon nap.

Sucking Heads off Crawfish

We woke up from the nap, well Justin woke up- I spent the afternoon watching murder mysteries (bad idea, I am still having problems sleeping).

Then we had our free drink from the bar (Red Bull and Vodka to kick off our night) before walking to  Broadway Oyster Bar.

"We are completely boring for doing the same thing two nights in a row," I said.

"No we aren't," Justin said. "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." 

Word. Broadway Oyster Bar is in my top 3 list of favorite restaurants ever!!

We ate oysters ( again) and decided to be brave and order a bucket of steamed crawfish!!

Eating crawfish was a true adventure. I was extremely nervous one of them would still be alive...and when I  reached into the bucket, it would pinch off my finger. Thankfully, that never happened.

The biggest crawdad in the bucket and he was all mine!
Sucking the juice out of the head.
Eating crawfish isn't exactly an attractive event.
I wouldn't do this on a first date.
Okay, you're right - I probably would.
You only live once, so why not eat some bottom dwellers?
After dinner, we went back to the hotel to change. I switched into my Gucci sweater (obviously) and we were off the Cigar Bar again.

Livin' better now, Gucci sweater now!

"I am so lucky to have a sexy wife who smokes cigars and tries to drink Jameson on the rocks," Justin said. "But you don't have to impress me anymore. I'll drink the rest of that if you want to."

I pretended to be hardcore. But I didn't know how to keep the cigar going and quickly traded my Jameson on the rocks for Justin's beer.

We went to another bar to finish watching the basketball game, which resulted in eating hummus and pita bread and calamari, which was drenched in ranch dressing.

I NEVER thought I would see the day when I did not want to eat ranch dressing on something, but let it be known that ranch dressing and squid DO NOT go well together. Don't try this at home kids...

Heading Home

St. Louis was the perfect weekend trip. I loved the buildings (except for The Arch pods!!!), the drinks, the FOOD (obviously), and most importantly the pooping penguin.

Until next time, St. Louis...
 Much love,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

You Need a Vacation: Night 1

I think I cried 20 times during the first two weeks of March.

Primarily because of stress.

Because I don't believe that complaining about your problems will SOLVE your problems, I won't bore you with the details.

Considering my previous few weeks, I can't tell you how happy I was when my husband emailed me and wrote, "You need a vacation. What do you think about St. Louis?"

My first thought there beach in St. Louis?

I'm biased toward beach vacations.

Toes in the sand.

Drinks in your hand.

Ocean breeze sweeping over your body.

And if I'm buzzed enough, I might even jump into the ocean to cool down.

However, for a short weekend getaway, St. Louis sounded perfect!

We left Friday morning.

I spent most of the drive playing Draw Something, Scramble with Friends and reading "Bossypants" by Tina Fey (amazing book that you MUST read).

Putting on my "gangsta" face for Nelly.

We got to St. Louis around 3 p.m. and our trip to the top of The Arch wasn't until 4:30.

So we enjoyed something we don't get at home- CABLE TV!

Typical us: I am snapping a picture of myself and Justin is researching things to do in the area.
Then we used our free drink coupon (thank you Hilton Honors Gold Status)- insert Mango Tango to calm my nerves here:

My beach vacation in a drink.
The walk over to The Arch took us less than 10 minutes. We got there early, so we decided to be super touristy and take pictures:

Um, you want me to go to the top of that thing?
Pre-Arch jitters.
I've heard the pods to the top were small.  But when the doors opened, I was shocked. It looked like something that I would ride to the moon in. But I didn't understand how five people were supposed to fit inside comfortably. Or fit in general.

"I don't know about all this..." I said.

Justin started laughing.

They made us watch a video about why, how and when The Arch was built. I don't remember much about the video and the history behind The Arch, because I kept thinking about the little ass pod I was about to squeeze into...

Justin knew I was stressing out.

He knew I wanted to turn around and leave.

But instead of letting fear control me, I walked forward into the tiny eggshell with complete strangers.

Despite the warning to duck my head, I banged my forehead getting into the pod.

Everyone laughed. And by everyone- I mean, it was Justin, an 8th grade boy, his dad, his mom and myself.

The ride to the top is supposed to take 4 minutes.

And 4 minutes is a long time to be trapped in a pod traveling 600 feet in the air.

When we made it to the top, everyone was blocking the isle.

Taking pictures.


Looking out the window.

Me? I was paralyzed. I didn't want to move. I was afraid I would feel the structure swaying in the wind if I stayed up there too long. And then I would pass out. Always the center of attention, I could hear Justin joking later...

 With one look down to the bottom, I was ready to be back on the ground.

We were probably up there for 1 minute and 30 seconds before I was lining up for the pod to take us down again. A shorter ride this time - only 3 minutes. New strangers this time. But the 17-year-old boy thought I was hilarious and reminded me of Schmidt from The New Girl. The Dad was just as stressed out as I was, so we bonded about that...I was OK with that pod ride down.

Next up, we had dinner at Broadway Oyster Bar, which my cousin recommended.THANK YOU, Katie!

I can't even tell you how delicious the oysters were:

Raw oysters!!

The best oysters I've ever had!!
We also shared soup and a crawfish sandwich at Broadway. 

After dinner and drinks, we went to a bar the top of The Hilton called 360.

Our bartender (at our Hilton) recommended this place for a drink and the view.

When we walked into the hotel lobby, I felt like I was going to a club in Orange County. Fake boobs, bleach blonde hair, high heels, bright lipstick, fancy jewelry and pretty dresses all over the bar.

I was wearing sneakers with my dress and leggings.

While this isn't stylish, the restaurant was about a mile from our hotel and I opted for comfort.

I felt so out of place.

For a moment, I felt like I was in middle school again.The awkward kid in the corner...

I felt insecure.

I didn't feel like me.

And I hated that I got so worked up...

"I feel out of place," I told Justin.

"Who cares- you'll never see these people again, will you?" Justin said back.

"Well, no- but," I said and then realized he was right. It didn't make me feel any more confident, but he was right.

We walked around a bit and found no open seats. No space at the bar. I could tell Justin was getting annoyed.

"I want to get out of here," I whispered to Justin.

"Good," he said. "Let's go."

We got into the elevator with the an older guy and his friends. He had a thick Southern accent and was wearing his cowboy hat with sneakers.

Just like The Honey Badger, he didn't give a damn.

And I loved him for his outrageous personality and big voice. 

"It looks like a sauna in here," he said rubbing the wooden padding in the elevator. "Everyone take off your clothes!"

Everyone laughed, but I think was serious.  Either way, I kept my clothes on and smiled because his humor was exactly what I needed to bring me back to reality.

The next stop was a Cigar Bar. Justin ordered Jameson on the rocks. I had a few sips, which made me feel like a bad ass, and then we were off to call it a night. I told myself not to drink too much because I wanted to run in the morning. Plus, being hungover at the zoo did not sound fun.

The alien walk.
But instead of going back to our hotel room, we ended up at Hooters for more drinks and most importantly, more oysters!

"Take a picture of me and my beer." - Me
"You're a picture whore." - Justin

Not as good as Broadway Oyster Bar, but still delicious!!

We had a blast on Day 1. I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed to get much I needed to relax. Our first day / night was absolutely perfect, well minus the small pods - I will be OK never doing that again...

I'll share more about our trip tomorrow.

Much love,