Sunrises, Don McLean and Bagels–This Wednesday, Man.

It’s 9:41 a.m. and I’m already caught up in how lovely today is.

After a 5 a.m. wake-up; it was a task in dressing as warm and lightly as I could. Then a short ride to Harvard Stadium.

Dark as night. Bright stars. Glowing moon.

You would’ve thought it was 11 p.m. instead of 6 a.m.

Just a start of day.

Just a start of day.

Barely seeing the bodies pushing up and down the stadium rows; headlamps and glow sticks in tow.

The largest group I have ever seen at a November Project work out.

A loud chorus of “GOOD MORNING” and “F*** YEAH” and then puffs of breath you could see, burning legs you could feel and a rising sun that painted one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen on a Wednesday morning at Harvard.

Rows and rows and rows. But for once I could feel progress.

After a work-out, a film session. Capturing all of the other struggles and finishes. Listening to more people talk about the community of November Project. Hearing that one member was on his first work out . . . since his surgery to remove a brain tumor.

God is good, right?

Man, if you ever need some motivation to get out of bed in the morning––think of that guy.

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And the push of a sunrise.

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And then a very full beautifulness.

Then an interview. One of my best. With the Runner’s World contributing writer who has documented an incredible story about November Project that everyone has to look for in the December issue of November Project.

The lighting was great.

The setting was right.

The quotes were flowing.

A long bus ride home.

A still rising sunshine and the cutest little girl talking her mom’s ear off for seven stops.

A stop for a hot bagel and coffee and the realization that this is probably the last warm-ish week––and I should get better gloves.

Like, seriously, the best post-stadiums bagel.

Seriously, the best post-stadiums bagel.

And then, this song came on.


And if I hadn’t already been in the most lovely mood; this song alone probably could’ve done it. Because the whole walk home I was back in a place 13 years ago in my parent’s house with my mom’s CDs playing and dinner cooking and fall candles burning  . . . and how can you not feel happy when you’re in a memory like that?

Here’s to enjoying a day so much at only four hours in. Hope everyone else’s hump day is just as wonderful.

xxx.

Turn it up, Monday night: Bryan John Appleby

Week 42: Bryan John Appleby

Should I rename this series “Turn Indie up, Monday morning”? I don’t know. Maybe. But I did post Selena Gomez last time . . . Regardless, back on track this week with Seattle-based songwriter Bryan John Appleby. Very mellow and laid back, this primarily acoustic artist is a new favorite. I somehow found him based on liking The Lone Bellow and have really been enjoying this main hit, “Honey Jar” shown above. Happy Monday night, my friends.

Sneak Peek: “Ashley on Cam.” aka, what’s Ashley doing in Boston?

I came to Boston with the excitement and interest in figuring out what spectrum of broadcast news I should be focused on. Should I be a producer? Should I be on-air?

A funny realization hit me last week.

I came here with the misconception that everyone could produce; and only a certain few could be on-air.

And I was wrong.

It takes a pretty special talent to produce OR to be reporting in front of the camera.

Lucky me, I’m getting a wealth of exposure to all types of situations and opportunities that are allowing me to work on the necessary skills to be good––as well as figure out what feels better. What do I really want to do? It’s very different pathways even though they’re in the same newsroom.

This week’s flex work involved doing a professionally set stand-up report with some coaching. I’m sharing for the furthest from vain reasons (I HATED people watching me. An inherent problem if this is what I want to do). Instead, I’m sharing it because–as someone who was considering graduate school; I think it could be helpful to others interested who want to see what the grad school experience can be like.

I want to post it so my family can get a sense of what the heck i’m doing 14 hours away.

And I’m posting it to kind of get over myself and insecurities a little.

Only way is to jump right in, right?

I had some mixed feelings about posting the whole take (it’s only like 3 minutes long); but at the same time––that’s really the only way to see what I’m doing right now. Which happens to include gibberish and giggling sometimes in the middle of forgetting what I’m supposed to be saying.

Overall, I’m SO excited about how much progress I’m making. This session was abundantly helpful to really iron out some vocal things that I need to work on. Look forward to taping an even better stand up with my next package.

In things I need to fix: don’t be an up-talker, say the letter “W” correctly and get used to those crazy bright lights.

This is just the beginning!

PS: Isn’t BU beautiful!?

For best viewing: Make sure you let it load all the way first. Otherwise it looks grainy and the audio doesn’t match up. In other things I need to learn to do better: downsize video files better. If for some reason it’s embedding here grainy and not so great; check it out here instead.

Enough radio silence; checking in from BOS.

Yikes, it’s mid-October.

How the heck did that happen? I look down from green trees and 80-degree weather; look back up and it’s back to my Canadian slippers, hot tea, fog and orange skies. New England fall is happening in full blast and it is one of the most beautiful seasons of time and life that I could hope for.

New England fall is not so different from North Carolina mountain fall. They’re both gorgeous.

There’s something about the fall foliage next to the water here though that makes it different and more distinctively Boston. I’ve taken 7.52 billion instagram photos in the last two weeks on any given commute to and from my apartment. A few of the better ones in an album that could be titled “Brookline is THE prettiest:”

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Ok, not my neighborhood — just kind of near it on the Charles River. Too pretty to not include though.

The past three weeks have been a seeming blur in some ways. School is picking up and it’s really hard to feel like you’re staying ahead of the ball. I’m kind of running alongside and look away every few seconds in hopes that I’m keeping up. School schedules are rough! At the same time though, the past three weeks have felt like three months. In a great way. It’s just funny how free time has transcended from time that I would spend alone exploring or catching up into time that I use to hang out with new friends or already have fifteen social things scheduled.

In extremely happy social news. Katie came to visit. My first hometown visitor! I tried to play tour guide to my best ability and I think that I did a decent job. We basically walked and ate our way around Boston. From Fenway to Cambridge, Brookline to the North End, we had a lot of food (and somehow missed lobster!? next time!). It was funny to me how overwhelmingly excited I was as I waited to see her at the airport. It felt like it had been far longer than a month and a half since I had seen her. Definitely one of my happier reunions.

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Roommate Sarah + Katie + Me at Eastern Standard.

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Me + Katie at JFK’s home in my neighborhood.

I think I wore her out sufficiently. From eating and traipsing around, it was kind of a joyfully exhausting long weekend. I think the best investment I made in her visit was a reservation for us to go on a lighthouse tour Saturday morning.

The weather ended up being beautiful and we had the BEST time. We were sure that we’d be the only two under 65 (and it wasn’t that far off) but the boat trip was just such a crazy gorgeous, unique way to see the city and some sites. Definitely a recommendation to visitors. It doesn’t even cost that much. Through LivingSocial (which is always doing deals) we went on an almost-two hour cruise for $10 a piece.

Long Island Lighthouse

Boston Lighthouse.

Graves Lighthouse.

Boston from the water.

Katie + Me.

I also took her to our first BU hockey game.

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Man, Boston University gets riled up about hockey. It was awesomely different from what I’m used to.

One of my favorite things about my decision to come to BU is that the experience is so vastly different than what I had for undergraduate. You can forget football and tailgating; small town and conservative tradition. Nope, here you have city streets and hockey.

It was a great weekend of best-friend time and also showing Katie the new life here. I was really grateful that she got to meet a lot of my friends and really see what Boston has become for me.

Love this girl. 22ish years of friendship.

After spending a weekend off the map with Katie, it was a busy week getting together school items throughout the week that followed. Luckily, just as exhaustion was kicking in–so did a long holiday weekend.

(Thank you, Boston for your old puritanical ways and proximity to Canada.)

We had Columbus Day off yesterday.

That meant a weekend full of laziness in the best way.

Chinatown for the first time Friday night.

Saturday was full of college football and friends and my first Canadian Thanksgiving. (Wish I had more photos. I swear though, no turkey means it wasn’t really Thanksgiving.)

Sunday was full of NFL. I got to go to my first Patriots game, thanks to Andy. It was freaking awesome. You take a train way outside the city; they drop you in the middle of the woods. After hiking in it seems like you’re in a stadium in the middle of nowhere.

Gillette Stadium.

It was pretty interesting to compare the Panthers stadium experience to the Patriots one. Gillette Stadium is just so huge. Our view was excellent though and the game? The game was incredible. Gives me goosebumps thinking about how much I love sports.

That night was followed by an awesome Red Sox game that we were able to catch on TV.

With such an amazing Boston comeback sports night, Monday seemed like the entire city had called the day on sports celebration–even though it was a regularly scheduled holiday.

It’s been a crazy few weeks; but it’s just because I’m keeping life wonderfully full. Here’s to doing better in 25 and posting more updates more frequently so that when I do–you don’t have to read a novella.

Happy “Monday,” friends.

Twenty five.

Twenty five.

Well that year went by quickly, right? Just yesterday it seemed like I posted the 25 by 25 list and hoped and dreamed and wished that the next year would be one of the fullest, best and most adventurous yet.

Safe to say it was.

It was the first time in years that I had challenged myself to take control. Figure out what was missing and stop moseying through life.

I traveled. All over. Serious travel bug. Nine new states. Montreal, Canada.

I wrote in new places and publications, and created a new blog.

I took acting classes. I started teaching myself to play the guitar.

Listened to new music from all over and read a hand full of books.

Ran a half marathon and found two new churches.

I was spontaneous. I simplified. I spent a lot of time with Ashley and got myself to best, healthiest place I’ve been mentally, physically and emotionally.

I invested myself where it mattered and when it mattered most; and I found myself cherishing every relationship I had a little deeper.

I took a gigantic deep breath, weighed all of the pros and cons, gave many a tearful hug and left North Carolina in the rearview mirror to go back to school; to move 15 hours away and to take on a new chapter without a second glance.

I swear I’m the happiest that I could imagine today. Big smile and all.

You know, there were things to be worried about when I moved. Would I make friends? Would I like the city? But in retrospect it’s funny to think that I thought about those things. But never actually worried about them. Lucky me, because I never needed to.

After a month in Boston I was able to spend my 25th birthday feeling so much love from far away and right in Boston. Cards and messages from friends and family around the South. And yet somehow was also surrounded by Boston friends and new roommates. It’s pretty incredible how much of a new life you can put together in such a short period of time.

God’s definitely been watching out for me.

25 is going to be pretty amazing. How do I know? Goodness, look at the last year of preparation. : )  If anything, I feel like 25 by 25 was the introduction and now we’re getting to the good part.

What comes post 25 by 25? Maybe this list I talked about a long time ago. Or maybe a break to focus on school and you’ll just get normal updates from me. Regardless, the blog isn’t going anywhere.

So, here’s to 25 more years of adventures and love and progress. You know, that’s really all I could ever dream or ask for.

Happy One Month, Boston.

Great depiction of my feelings? "#NoFilter. Just loving on Boston tonight."

Great depiction of my feelings? “#NoFilter. Just loving on Boston tonight.”

It’s hard to believe but silently and quickly a one-month anniversary passed.

I may be two days late in technicalities, but the beautiful part is that it passed without knowing.

I adore my family and friends in North Carolina with heart and soul. I love the mountains and the roots that I have always had there. I really cherish the fact that I’ve been able to plant such a foundation of stability in a place of sameness for the first 24 years of my life.

But.

I love Boston.

I remember the first day that felt like a routine.

I walked to the train stop, likely in the midst of my third week here, and for the first time I didn’t feel like I was at a conference or fall camp. I didn’t feel like I should whip my camera out to take a photo of something new and I certainly didn’t feel the need to look at the T map to check the stops.

I could walk the path without looking up at landmark houses and street signs. I could bustle along without the worry of missing something.

The thought only occurred for a second, but once it happened–that, “this is life now” thought–things were different.

I remember that first day that Boston felt like home.

It was just this past Saturday.

After venturing an hour outside of the city to go to an apple orchard in Ipswitch, Mass. and spending a morning picking apples, traipsing fields and shooting a lot of camera footage–I was tired. As we crossed the bridges and ventured back into familiar Brookline it was a relief to see our street and know that home was just a quarter-mile away.

It was home.

And it is home.

And that is both beautiful and strange.

I miss my family  and friends of course in the, want-to-see-you-and-share-this-new-adventure-with-you kind of way. But it’s not a hankering for me to go home. It’s an excitement for them to come here and let me show them my happiness.

I used to give my friend Lindsay such a hard time for her Carrie-Bradshaw-like love for New York City. Oh, how she loves that city.

But now I find myself chuckling as I get lost looking at the skyline on a walk home or as I can’t help but smile at the sound of the trains outside my window.

I absolutely love it and feel like it fits. It just fits. I can honestly say that I am happy in a way that I haven’t experienced in a really long time. A different way.

This happiness for the last month has seen me challenging myself in new ways. It’s seen me exploring and trying new things. It’s seen me taking chances and channeling a new bravery. It’s seen me digging deep for confidence and resting in my own reassurance. It’s seen me crafting a new set of friends and a realizing that in some senses I’m recreating who I am. Same Ashley. New chapter. But you know how much shift in a storyline just one chapter can make . . .

One month in and I haven’t skipped a beat. Not even enough to take five minutes and revel in the fact that it had been a month on October 1st. Instead I have pondered too many times already in the last week how time is passing too quickly and I want to stop the sand in a sieve.

Savoring life is incredible.

And I can’t express how much the last month has been an incredible start to one of the adventures that I think, one day, I will look back on with some intense pride.

Miss you North Carolina; but for now why don’t you just promise to come visit? You’ll see me at Christmas, if not : )

How can  you not love this? Boston, you're pretty.

How can you not love this? Boston, you’re pretty.

Kick-Ass Workouts + Grassroots Fitness: November Project

Hey guys, remember when about three months ago I was getting really whiney about how out of shape that I was getting? Well that’s stress fracture recovery for you.  Granted, I now more than ever, know that I should have really tried swimming.

Well as of almost three weeks ago, I’ve started going to the most f***ing intense workouts ever.  November Project.

(They use that word a lot, so I’m allowed to here too. I’ll censor it for my grandma-reading audience though. Hey Mamaw : ) )

Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6:30 a.m. all over Boston come rain, snow, ice or shine. And these workouts are hard. as. hell. But the community that’s there is incredible. You show up and you don’t know 95 percent of the 100 people there. But somehow as you’re doing this workout at the crack of dawn, you feel a weird endearment and bonding to all of the people sweating, hurting and pushing alongside you.

New Balance really said it best with the video about the group and honestly, watch it. Like seriously. Watch it:


We joke that it’s like a cult. But seriously, I’m knee deep into the kool aid. Like can’t even stop talking about it. Since my first Friday hills workout I went to class afterwards and told new friend Jeanna. The next time I went it was me + Brian + Jeanna + Roxanne and the next time Dana + Andy came.  It’s an addiction. (And also, obviously good for making friends.)

To get that kind of adrenaline kick at 6:30 a.m.?

It’s all great in September when workouts are a balmy 60 degrees. In January? This is going to be ROUGH. But more than anything I’m seeing the importance of accountability which is what this program is all about. This morning and Monday morning, there is no doubt that I probably would have flaked out if I hadn’t told Jeanna that I would be there and then know she would be waiting for me.

But beyond just working out. This is so good for my mindset when it comes to recovering from the ongoing stress-fracture debacle.

In four months of recovery I had done a few lame runs. Towards the end of my time in Winston-Salem I think I did three or four walk/run days.

Since I’ve started November Project? *Mind you, these are MWF days. So not consecutive.

  • Day 1: Hills. A total of over 4 miles including my first long solid run (HA, 1.2 miles) home.
  • Day 2: Stadiums. I did half of Harvard Stadium. 19 sections. I couldn’t do stairs right for four days after that.
  • Day 3: Hills. Over 3 miles of hill running. There was walking. But it wasn’t because of my leg. It was because that hill was kicking my butt.
  • Day 4: I ran 3 miles. THREE MILES. All the way to a circuit workout.
  • Day 5: I ran another 3 miles. THREE MILES. No stops. No pauses. No walking. No checking the clock. But I finished it in less than 30 minutes. And I felt good enough to then do 12 stadiums at Harvard Stadium.
First day at Harvard Stadium. You guys, this is where thighs and butts get wrecked. So. Steep.

First day at Harvard Stadium. You guys, this is where thighs and butts get wrecked. So. Steep.

You can BARELY see her; but my girl Jeanna finished the whole freakin' stadium this morning. 37 sections. Her second time. She's a badass.

You can BARELY see her; but my girl Jeanna finished the whole freakin’ stadium this morning. 37 sections. Her second time. She’s a badass.

Like seriously, that’s the dedication? I missed my alarm clock this morning and missed my ride. So instead of taking a cab or whatever, I ran three miles. I booked it to get there just in time to start with the last group.

I’m so excited to be reclaiming what was an active lifestyle. These guys are badass. I’ll never be quite like that. But you know what? Just being around that energy makes you find something else a little deeper you might not have ever discovered.

There are November Projects starting all over the country. Don’t live in a city that has one but want to get involved? This month November Project is doing a #DeckADay challenge. You can find out all of the details here (all you need is a deck of cards); but suffice to say it’s an amazing bootcamp for your core and arms–and it’s pretty straightforward. Love me some simple workouts.

Man, I love running.

Now, about that GPS watch I’m asking for for my birthday. Any tips on brands or what to look for?

Next up in fitness posts: I’m finally starting a book that I got from Lily over at Sincerely Lily. Can’t wait to share some more running good stuff.