48 hours in Minneapolis

Did you know that the origin of honeymoon did not actually involve a trip? Or if it did, any travel meant going to see relatives who were unable to attend the wedding. Honeymoon traditionally refers to a post-marriage period full of sweetness and joy for the newlyweds -- one that, wink wink, probably won't last forever. Hence the phrase, "they're in the honeymoon stage" or "they act like they're still on their honeymoon." 

J and I traveled quite a bit in 2014, so we always had plans of driving someplace nearby for a little mini-honeymoon after our wedding weekend, and then saving up for an overseas trip in a year or two. When we received our baby news, it made even more sense to take it easy but do something fun together to celebrate our marriage. It turns out taking a mini-honeymoon AND staying relatively local is not the norm nowadays! 

Consequently, I had this conversation multiple times:

Friend/Relative/Coworker/Stranger: "So, where you are going for your honeymoon?"

Me: "Minneapolis."

Them: ". . . Minneapolis? Really?" (Someone actually replied, "Well, that's okay." Ha! Yes, it is.)

We considered Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis and Kansas City -- and MPLS won out since neither of us had been there before, together. Exploring new cities is one of our favorite things to do, plus, we've got Minnesota friends here in Des Moines that rave about their former 'hood, so we had plenty of recommendations to check out.

On Friday, we drove up in the afternoon and checked in at Hotel Ivy. We wanted to stay at a swanky hotel, and this one definitely fit the bill. Our room offered great views on the 18th floor, a super-soft king bed, a giant bathtub, and plenty of space. Cheap it was not, but overall a win in terms of accommodations. Upon arrival, we went down to the hotel spa for a couples massage. The lobby area, bustling with platinum-haired women in sky-high heels, may have intimidated J a little bit, as he had never gotten a massage before, but we waited patiently and were quickly ushered into the massage waiting area with plush robes, hot tea and quiet hotel music in the background. (You know the type -- elevator piano music that's surprisingly soothing.)

The massage itself was fantastic; I told the therapist that I wanted a lot of pressure, and she delivered. There were even a few moments where I had to use my yoga breath to get through a tender spot, but in a "hurts so good" way. J said his massage was "awkward at first" but then he relaxed and enjoyed it. As for the couples element? Eh. It was okay. We both agreed that getting a massage side-by-side in the same dark room seemed kind of . . . pointless, but I don't know, some people are really into the concept. Perhaps in the future, if it occurred on an exotic beach, it would seem more romantic and lovely? 

We cleaned up real nice and then walked over to Butcher and The Boar. My sister and her boyfriend suggested we eat there, and every time I mentioned it to someone while detailing our trip plans, they basically responded with "OH MY GOD THE FOOD IS SO GOOD." (This means I automatically had really high hopes for this place, which usually results in being disappointed in some way, or feeling confused about the hype, or thinking "I mean, it was good but not good.") We killed an hour before our reservation in their beer garden, which was packed and I can understand why -- lots of greenery, clustered chairs under twinkly globe lights, diners enjoying slabs of meat that were making my mouth water from afar. AND, it was dog friendly. (PSA: Des Moines needs an outdoor space like this.)

After sipping on some drinks, we headed inside. The decor? Like the inside of your beloved grandfather's den, all whiskey bottles and dark wood floors, but with a stylish, shabby-chic touch in terms of white marble tables and red velvet armchairs. Well done, B&TB.  Then we looked at the menu, and basically wanted to order the entire thing. B&TB is absolutely one of those restaurants where every plate coming out of the kitchen looks better than the one before. On my way to the bathroom, I spied a plate of spare ribs so that's what we ordered as our main dish. Because it looked that delicious.

Also on our table: king trumpet mushrooms (aka large mushrooms in a yummy sauce), brussels sprouts (fried in a buffalo-type coating with ranch on the side; we demolished them), skillet cornbread (all crunchy and golden from the skillet, topped with honey-butter, I ate 3/4 of it myself).

UGHHHHHH. So good. We didn't even talk when the food arrived except to mumble, "Oh my god," and "Amazing" and "Yum."

Then we rolled ourselves home and called it a night.

Saturday morning, after sleeping in with no actual alarm and no dog-waking-you-up-to-eat-or-pee alarm, we ventured down to Mill City Farmer's Market for breakfast. The sun beat down, but temps stayed in the high '50s/low 60's which is basically my favorite fall weather of all time. (I must note that it was a cool 95 DEGREES on our wedding day the week prior . . .)

Okay, DSM'ers, we are incredibly spoiled by the Des Moines Farmers Market. Seriously. Mill City involved maaaaybe a block's worth of vendors, and it was very cute and friendly and all, but we spent the whole time making comparisons between it and DTFM, like, "I like the other egg sandwich more" and "This pastry is a little crunchy, whereas the ones at La Mie are soft and chewy." (#firstworldproblems) The apples were superb, though, and we walked a whole bag 1.5 miles back to the hotel to eat throughout the rest of the weekend. The whole downtown area right near the market was pretty neat as well with informational signs about the history of the flour mills and Mississippi Valley falls right there. We walked alongside the river for a while, and it was just beautiful and peaceful.

And! There appeared to be some sort of impromptu yoga situation happening near the stairs by the farmer's market, which was really cool to witness in light of Emily and I's efforts for outdoor community here with Pop Up Yoga DSM. One young mama actually wheeled her stroller and toddler up to the group after class had started, whipped out a blanket and toys for her kiddo, and then joined in. I will probably be that woman someday, ha.

The afternoon's plans involved biking around a triage of rivers: Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles. Bike rental in Minneapolis is a well thought out concept, with interactive maps online and stations almost everywhere; if I lived there, I would certainly bike much more often. We rented two bikes for about $12 and took off.

I got tired in about 5 minutes (pregnancy problems), but really, the routes were easy to navigate and fairly flat. Lake Harriet = stunning blue water and sky sliced with white sailboat triangles, surrounded by families and children and dogs. Lake Calhoun = primarily runners and walkers, or serious bikers with all their fancy gear, and many more folks on paddleboards or in kayaks within the lake itself. Lake of the Isles = home of the rich and famous. No joke. I should've stopped to take a picture of some of these homes because they were INSANE. We looked some up on Zillow later and all fell in the $2-4 million range. Holy smokes. Several open houses were happening that Saturday as well, and we kept kidding that we should ride our rented bikes on over to them and pretend to be a rich couple shopping for a summer home in Minnesota. NBD.

10 miles later, we were thirsty and hungry, so we stopped at Bread & Pickle, an outdoor cafe right by Lake Harriet, for a hummus plate (my attempt at healthy eating due to nonstop cravings of potato chips these days), a root beer (hers) and a beer beer (his). 

After a quick nap back at the hotel, we spruced up for an earlybird dinner at Bar La Grassa, an Italian joint my sister and I visited the one other time I was in Minneapolis. FYI: the ambiance at 5 p.m. is very different than at 8 p.m. -- choose the latter. We took the only reservation they had, but made a crucial rookie move in that neither of us was particularly hungry that early.

Still, we ordered pork shoulder bruschetta (delicious, but not worth $9 for one piece of toast), linguine with lamb meatballs (still not a lamb lover, but fun to try) and gnocchi with spicy cauliflower and orange (I ate 3/4 of this myself). Two more things about this place: 1) they give you bread as a starter, but with a little dish of a white bean salad marinated in olive oil, which is kind of different, and 2) they brought us a free dessert to wish us a happy marriage, which was nice in general and smart customer service.

Ok, one last thing: our waiter pronounced "bruschetta" as "BRU-SKE (hard K)-TA." I've always pronounced it as "BRU-SCHET-TA" (more of a shush sound). Have I been wrong all these years?!

We headed a few blocks away to Marvel Bar, another place I had been to once before that I knew J would absolutely adore. They're known for their inventive cocktails and hidden underground vibe; it's not uncommon to have to ask the bartender for the definition of 4 of 5 ingredients in a single drink, and the entrance is difficult to find. (Reminds me of Violet Hour in Chicago, for my Chitown folks.)

Well, it used to be. This time around, a bouncer stood outside the door underneath strings of lights, checking IDs, so you pretty much knew you were in the right vicinity. But there's no sign outside signifying the name of the bar, and previously, you just had to know to open the one door down the stairs that led to the purple door slash entrance of Marvel.

I'll also add that the Marvel bartenders made me two spectacular mock-tails, in addition to all of J's very boozy drinks, so they cater to multiple preferences with no problem. The audience varies: we saw everything from a bachelorette party wearing Derby-style hats to a group of well-suited men in expensive suits clamoring for whiskey, to a man in his 70s clearly on a blind date and nervous about (note: he requested a drink with "cheap vodka," and had zero shame about it, which was kind of hilarious) to young couples like ourselves lined up around the bar.

After such a fun day and night, we naturally ended up in bed by 10 p.m. watching National Geographic. Living that crazy newlywed life, I tell ya. . . . but truly, I'm happy to be married to someone who doesn't care about being "cool" in the least and has no problem going home early on a Saturday night on vacation when his pregnant wife has had enough. 

We kicked off Sunday by driving over to Five Watt, a coffee place probably famous to all MPLS hipsters. I had the Hibernator -- espresso, toasted almonds, honey and milk -- and J had (I think) something called the Big Easy -- cold press, nutmeg simple syrup, black walnut bitters, and cream (say whaaaat?!) Both were delicious, if on the sweet side. We sat outside, and about 5 minutes into our coffee and conversation, a woman walked by and asked us if we were from the neighborhood.

Us: "Nope."

Her: "I didn't think so. Where are you from?"

Us: "Des Moines."

Her: "Des Moines! What are you in town for, then? Are you here for the weekend?"

Us: "We're here for our honeymoon, actually, and yes, we got here Friday."

Her: "How nice! What all have you been up to?"

She proceeded to ask us all kinds of questions, like where we ate and what lakes we went to and where we were staying and what we thought of the coffee, and even whipped out her phone to show us a few other things to do around town. Super nice lady, and afterwards, we looked at each other like . . . where did THAT come from? I've honestly never had a complete stranger come up to me, in broad daylight, and strike up an entire conversation out of the blue with zero prompting. Apparently we looked really out of place there ;)

We walked down the street to find a bite to eat, and stumbled upon another farmer's market -- similar in scope and vendors to Mill City -- where we snatched up a couple of "downtowners" (breakfast pastries with eggs, tomatoes, and herbs) from Sun Street Breads

After that, we checked out of the hotel (sad face) and went over to Walker Art Museum and the Sculpture Garden to use up a couple of hours before our last event of the weekend, an outdoor concert with Counting Crows and Citizen Cope. The museum seemed a little smaller in scope than Des Moines Arts Center, and it also cost $14 a person to get in -- which, I don't mind paying to support art in cities at all BUT the DMAC is free at all times to everyone, which is awesome and uncommon. A new Jack Whitten exhibit had just opened, which we enjoyed walking around, and then the artist himself came into the exhibit hall and chatted with people looking at his art! How cool is that? (Learn more about Whitten here and here -- he's an extremely talented artist who works in a variety of mediums with heartfelt social conviction; many of his pieces included a quote from him and his life seems really interesting.) As for the sculpture garden, it is currently under renovation, so several of the sculptures had been removed. Another fun fact: I learned from a friend last night that many pieces of this particular sculpture garden were originally on loan, which is another reason there seemed to be a low number of pieces, and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines actually owns all its outdoor public art. Cool beans. Anyway, we still had fun walking around the park area and enjoying the nice weather.

We ate lunch at the Local, where we tried to watch the U.S. Men's Open before it went on a rain delay, and where we accidentally sat next to a girl and guy loudly talking about how they had hooked up and it was a terrible idea and the guy's ex-girlfriend oddly wasn't "cool with it." DRAMA. However, I secretly love eavesdropping soap opera-y conversations while eating. Free entertainment, amiright?

Then we took a harried trip to the library to print our concert tickets the old school way before heading over to the concert venue . . . to learn that the show had been canceled due to a sick band member. Frustrating in the moment, but honestly, we were both a little tired at this point and ready to get back, so we hit the road home. 

All in all, I'm so glad we spent our mini-honeymoon in Minneapolis. It's a wonderful city with plenty to offer in terms of food, art, recreation and more; slightly bigger than Des Moines and smaller than Chicago, but with the same Midwest vibe. Every person we encountered in Minneapolis was incredibly friendly and kind, from the hotel staff, to our Uber driver, the farmer's market people, waiters and waitresses and even the dude at the library who showed me how to print something. Can't wait to go back!

That Time I Ran 18 Miles

Last fall, my sister asked if I wanted to join her yoga studio's Ragnar relay team for a race in June 2015. The details: Park City, Utah + 200 miles in 24 hours.

I had never heard of a Ragnar race before but I said, sure, why not? 

The months flew by, I semi-trained (aka ran whenever I had time to), and then all of sudden I was boarding a plane to Utah to run 18 miles in a new altitude, with new people, in a new city.


Why not indeed.

We arrived late Wednesday to a rented condo in downtown Park City, and mostly got to know the whole team, talked about our fears and goals for our individual leg distances, and then hit the hay. Thursday kicked off with a hot yoga session, which felt amazing after all that cramped travel on the plane and in the car, and headed out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant (can't remember the name) where we enjoyed drinks, chips and tacos on a patio.

One huge thing about Utah: NO HUMIDITY. Like, it was hot, but you didn't feel as though you were being smothered by a heavy, wet blanket at the same time. I did get a couple of nose bleeds over the course of the weekend, due to the dry air, but for the most part, I loved the lack of humidity.

We spent the remainder of Thursday preparing for Ragnar. While I knew that we would be in vans some of the time going from location to location as part of the race, I didn't realize that we would actually be . . .  living in a van for almost 48 hours. Hence the need for coolers chock full of Gatorade, coconut water, bottled water; snack bags brimming with almond butter and raspberry jam sandwiches, trail mix, granola bars, Clif bars, shot blocks (basically gummy, sugary energy bites --  gross yet effective), pretzels, apples, bananas, etc; bags with changes of clothes and pillows and blankets and extra shoes and race belts and reflective vests and hats and sunglasses; printed directions for when cell service disappeared in the mountains . . . you get the idea.

Thank God I only had to show up and run. The team at the yoga studio was incredible -- they rented the house, collected the money, scheduled the vans, assigned the runners, handled registration, bought food and drinks to cover all dietary needs and desires, and much more. 

Friday morning, my sister and I walked to grab coffee from Main Street, which is the core area of Park City, super quaint, and fairly hilly. The views, of course, are beautiful, and it serves as a neat area to walk through all kinds of boutiques, stores and restaurants. We went to Atticus almost every day during the trip and picked up iced coffee (their fruity iced tea was also outstanding), but also tried some neat nitro brewed coffee at a sweet dog-themed place called Hugo.


Then we were off! After an almost two-hour drive north to Logan, UT, we found the starting line and hung around until our first runner, my sister, began. Interesting fact about Ragnar: teams start at various times on the first day depending on their collective pace; our time was 11 a.m. but teams started as early as 7 a.m., which meant that there were probably only 75 or so other people there with us at the starting line. So if you imagine a big crowd, as with a marathon or half (or pretty much any other race), it was kind of the opposite: a small group of runners with folks cheering from the sidelines.

Liv kicked things off with six miles, and our team hopped in the Explorer to travel alongside her. Following along in the van became absolutely essential during each runner's leg -- the temperature quickly rose to 92 degrees, and everybody needed constant encouragement and most importantly, WATER, nonstop. When we reached the first exchange and started watching runners come in, they all had the same look on their face: "That was so hard, and so hot." Many runners flopped on the grass to exclaim their gratefulness that it was over, red faces and all. 


Our next runner went, and killed it since he was super fast, and then it was my turn as runner three. Seven miles -- not an easy-peasy distance by any means but one I'd accomplished back in Iowa multiple times. I became almost immediately humbled by the heat and direct sunlight and straight roads. I'm a runner who needs constant distraction: music, water, hills, turns, scenery, shade, anything to get my mind off the fact that I'm running until I hit a groove. This particular run? No trees for shade. Minimal turns, which had me feeling like I was running with no end ever in sight. Spotty wi-fi service and a cell phone battery depleting faster than I anticipated.

But the scenery? Stunning.

I felt incredibly grateful for my teammates, who kept stopping every two miles or so to offer water and words of enthusiasm, and I picked up my speed slightly toward the end when I realized my phone was definitely going to die if I didn't get moving. 


Once I finished, our next three runners went in order: up mountains, down dusty red paths, through tree-lined gravel roads. Then we had about a six hour break while the other van, and other half of our team, started their first leg. Our downtime included showering, resting in the cool grass, dinner, a quick nap, and then before we knew it, it was midnight and our second leg set to begin.

I had thought that I would sleep while the first few nighttime runners ran, but the exact opposite happened. Honestly, the overnight running turned into one of the best parts of the entire race. The temperature dropped quite a bit, which made a world of difference. I personally prefer running when it is 60/65 degrees or lower, and so at 55 degrees, it was perfect! 

I had two fears about late night running: 1) that I would get lost, 2) that I would be afraid in the dark. Neither occurred. A van, either your team's or someone else's, was pretty much always visible ahead or behind you, and just as we did during the day, we kept pulling off to check on our runners and make sure all was well. That's why I ended up not sleeping much more than an hour -- my sister was the first nighttime runner, and I really wanted to cheer her on and follow along to check in. By the time my route rolled around, I felt wide awake, and took off at a clipped pace feeling like a million bucks. Even as a giant hill rolled around, I felt full of energy and excitement. It was so quiet and peaceful running by a lake, with only the sound of your footsteps pounding the ground. (Note: runners on our other team had many more experiences with wildlife and feeling more scared/lost, so it depends on the route, I think.)

More downhill running had me feeling crazy fast, and then, it was all uphill. For the rest of the run. It didn't help that my leg was 0.5 longer than the map originally said. Trust me, half a mile feels like forever when you thought you were technically done! Again, thank goodness for my team encouraging me from the side of the road, because running up, and up, and up for 2.5 miles was so challenging. 

Still, it was over before I knew it, and by the time the next two runners powered through, daylight broke to show us the most incredible views.


(Yes, we put a Go Pro on the hood of the car. Seemed like a good idea at the time.)

We finished our 2nd set of legs around 7:30 a.m., and the other van took off. Around this time, we realized that we didn't have that much time in between our 2nd and 3rd legs -- partly because the other group of runners were collectively a little faster, but also because their 2nd set of legs distance-wise was slightly shorter. After a group conversation, and in talking to other teams plus some of the race officials, we decided to start our 3rd leg at the same time: both vans would begin running, in the hopes that we would be able to finish by 6 p.m.

Now, nobody on our team was running for time, but we had all indeed been running for almost 48 hours -- and we wanted to be able to enjoy our Saturday night! The thought of not being done until 9 p.m. made everyone cringe. Due to the heat, multiple teams were behind schedule, and so this recommendation was widely distributed to anyone not running for time. I'm so, so, SO glad we did this and finished at a reasonable hour.


Luckily, the 2nd leg ended fairly close to Park City, so we were able to run back to the condo, shower, eat and take a quick hour-long nap before carrying on with the race. This break was CRUCIAL for my mental game -- I was totally reaching that "this sucks, I don't wanna doooooo this anymore" moment and it felt so good to refresh and reset before finishing strong.


We began again around 11 a.m., and our new conditions meant that the first few runners would essentially start at the same time. It ended up being another incredibly H-O-T day. My last run was also my longest run, more than 8.5 miles. It started off entirely uphill and on concrete (fun), again in broad daylight with barely any shade; however, the first mile also went through a golf course at the very top of aforementioned hill. I kept my mind distracted by thoughts of "Is this the golf course for the rich and famous of Park City? What is it like to golf on top of a giant hill? Do a lot of balls get lost?" And so on. Really important questions, I know.

The next two-thirds of my route consisted of running up a mountainside, and then back down the other side, all on a rocky, bumpy trail. I walked off and on quite frequently during this leg, mostly because I was nervous I would sprain my ankle on a rock or trip and fall off the side of the mountain. Ha. Yet again, the views were outstanding, and the higher I ran, the more I felt motivated to reach the top and see the sparkling blue lakes, the snow-capped peaks and valleys, and the greenery stretching as far as my eye could reach.


Ahh. So gorgeous! I remember feeling very triumphant at this point, and glad to only have a few downhill miles left before being done, done, DONE! 

Of course, those last miles ended up being the longest miles of my entire life. I'm not kidding. My shins screamed due to the sharp decline, my mind was over it, and again -- no water, no shade, no nothing in sight except the beautiful views I just mentioned. Which, I mean they were beautiful, but I had started to feel so tired and hot that the novelty wore off fast. Luckily, I saw my sister and another teammate in the distance, waving a water bottle at me; they had brought me ice cold water and a wet towel to put on my neck. Sweet relief. They also informed me that I only had a mile left, which revved my engines to finish strong.


We picked up the rest of our crew, all equally hot and sweaty and sick of running, and headed back to the condo for a quick shower before meeting up with the other half of our team at the finish line.

Amidst a huge crowd, we inched our way to the giant Ragnar balloon indicating the conclusion of the race, and waited in the bright sunshine for our last runner to come through. I have to admit that this took a while, but it couldn't have felt as long as it did for the runner to make it through 6 miles in 95 degrees at 5 p.m. after already running 10 or so miles. Yuck.

We finished with cheers and claps, and felt so proud of ourselves. As a whole, we collectively ran almost 200 miles in less than 48 hours!


Go Team Downward Dog!

I learned so much about myself  by participating in Ragnar, namely, that I'm stronger than I think, both mentally and physically. The race also reminded me that team support makes a significant difference in terms of experience and attitude. I've always been a casual runner, but running so many miles in a different location showed me that moving by foot in an unusual environment allows you to see things you never would have otherwise. There's nothing quite like it.

Traveling to new places continues to be a top priority for me. For all the people who asked me, "Why go to Utah to run?" Well, why not? I love to challenge myself with new opportunities to do something I've never done before, and go to places I've not seen before. The world is a big place, and I'd like to see as much of it as possible. 

When Did You Stop Dreaming?

The other night, I watched a movie called The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson doing their usual shtick of har-har-har jokes alongside tenuous plotlines. If you haven't seen it, it goes something like this: Vince and Owen are two salesman who've hit a rough patch, they manage to get jobs at Google (ha) and powered by teamwork and creativity, turn themselves around. There's one scene in which Vince's character messes up, big time, and he decides that everything everyone has ever told him -- that he is bound to fail -- is true. He leaves, and takes a shitty job selling electric wheelchairs for a nursing home. Basically, he gives up and settles for the life he thinks he deserves.

Of course, his good friend, Owen (his character name really doesn't matter, since they are obviously just the duo of Vince and Owen) comes to rescue him with a "when did you stop dreaming?" speech of sorts that goes something like this: so you messed up. Big deal. Try again. Don't you want more than this? 

Then the two return to their team, (spoiler alert) get their jobs, and live happily ever after. There are also plenty of Flashdance inspirational speeches.

In sixth grade, I signed up for the basketball team. A "no tryouts" school rule plus a tall, skinny girl with curly brown hair and braces with minimal hand-eye coordination skills equals . . . you can see where this is going. I sucked. Like, not in the funny, self-deprecating way, but really -- I had zero basketball talent.

So I spent a lot of time on the bench. Watching the other girls. Half not minding it, half wishing desperately I could be fast and furious, sneakers squeaking, back and forth on the shiny court. 

The few times Coach put me in, I both delighted and balked at the opportunity. It was exhilarating, passing the ball, being part of a team, trying to score points. It was also terrifying. Slow and stumbling, I didn't really understand the concept of defense or competition; I felt awkward about shouting or grunting. "Get physical!" Coach would bellow from his chair, pointing energetically. "Shut it down!" Shut what down? I pondered, racing to catch my breath.

Once, I managed to hang onto the ball, speed down the court, and throw it up in the hoop -- after a quick pass from Rachel F. A smile broke upon my face, cheek to cheek, as I heard the cheers of the crowd.

Except . . . oh . . . wait.

I had gone the wrong way.

The wrong way, YOU GUYS. I made a basket for the other team.


I can still remember the palpable heat of embarrassment. The physical rush and joy at seeing the ball go through the hoop, followed by the shocked noises from the other team, the rolled eyes from my own teammates, the pity "it's okay, it's okay!" from Coach. I felt so, so dumb.

Next year, I didn't sign up for basketball. 

I actually don't remember this story very often -- it's not a tale of horror from my youth, or something that makes me cringe. I think it's pretty hilarious, for the most part -- I mean, who makes a basket for the other team? Ha. But that formative feeling of risk followed by shame and embarrassment stuck with me for a long time.

When a risk pops up, people tend to respond along a spectrum of two extremes: they dive in, full speed ahead, or they pull back and wait until they're "ready." (FYI -- being "ready" takes an awful long time to arrive, if ever). Some people have thick skin; at least, they don't care about looking silly or messing up. Some people just flat out don't care what happens, even if it hurts other people or ruins plans or burns bridges or destroys their life. Some people have no choice -- the risk results in survival, and there is not another option. Some people carefully consider a risk for minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, their whole life, always waiting for the perfect conditions or feelings to decide, to know, to be all in, to go for it.

And some people acknowledge the risk -- my idea might crash and burn, he may not love me back, she could decide to leave, I may fail, etc. -- and then move forward anyway.

These are the people I admire. They've left the sidelines. They want to make a mark on this world and they believe in themselves to the point of delusion. They hear, "That's not going to work," and think, "But it might." They are told, "You'll never get there," and respond, "And yet I'll keep trying." They see a blank canvas, a blinking cursor, a piece of wood, a classroom, a dance studio, an abandoned building, and decide to make something come alive.  People who commit to repeated effort, match words with actions, invite discomfort, envision things that don't exist yet. People who say, "What if we . . . ?"

These people also scare me a little bit, because I'm not naturally one of them.

I want to be this sort of person. Sometimes I am. Other times, I am too afraid and too tired and too enmeshed in my comfort zone. I'm often a sit-on-the-couch-er. And a make-snacks-er. And a complainer. And once in a while, I default into the type of person who hangs out, watching from the sidelines.

Afraid to make waves. Afraid to step in. Afraid of being wrong, of messing up. Afraid of not being perfect.

It's safe on the sidelines, and it's nice when everybody likes you for not making waves, but damn, it is lonely and boring.

We hang out on the sidelines and hold back alllllll the time.

I see it in the yoga studio, when we break down an arm balance or posture, and certain students literally sit down and watch other people try something new. When I ask them to give it a shot, their response is, "Well, I'm not flexible" or "that pose isn't for me."

I see it in corporate cubicles, when coworkers schedule endless meetings where nothing gets down and gripe about red tape but celebrate their twentieth anniversary of being an employee. It's the health insurance, or the paycheck, or the job security, or the safety in knowing the bureaucratic ins and outs of a company, or wanting to make partner and get the corner office.

I see it in friends who are presented with a new love or job or opportunity and their first responses involve pointing out all the cons, all the risks, all the ways in which it could go wrong. 

People who get stuck. Who want something more, but have decided that this life, this marriage, these circumstances -- it's just the hand they're dealt and now they've got to stick it out. 

Or, it's the opposite. People who can't seem to get their shit together or commit to anything. People who flee to place after place, forgetting that they can never leave themselves behind. People who don't know what their dream is because they never stand still long enough to figure out what makes them tick and what hits them like a sick punch in the gut.

People who decide, eh, this is good enough.

I see these people, and I think, I never want to be like that.

Except for the times that I am, exactly, like that. 

It's amazingly, frighteningly, easy to stop dreaming and settle. There's an extremely fine line between comfort and complacency. Every time I fall into this sidelines mode, I have to actively pull myself out. Almost every single day. Over and over. And over again.

Because I don't always want to be vigilant. I don't always wanna hustle or do the work. It is exhausting and it never ends and nobody is there to do it for you, ugh.

To which the universe says, too bad, so sad.

For every dream of mine, my mind has an immediate reason why it can't happen or won't work. Like, IMMEDIATELY. And sadly, too many people hear that instant naysayer of the ego and they listen. They stop. They say, "Okay, I guess I can't . . . [lose the weight, earn more money, find love, get rid of all this clutter, feel happier, say how I really feel, be considered for the promotion, etc.]

We all fear complacency, but the truth is, we also like to be comfortable. As soon as we get cozy, we don't want to leave. 

Yet, if you want any of your dreams to become a reality, you've got to get off your ass and get moving. You have to become a master of telling your mind to shut up, yes, this is uncomfortable, but you're doing it anyway.

Otherwise, you stop dreaming, you settle, and one day, you wake up asking yourself: didn't I want more than this?

Because you do. You want more and you deserve more. Your dreams have purpose. Start tomorrow, however small. Wake back up -- you're meant for more than a life of pure comfort. Get uncomfortable.