Communicating Happiness: The Moments I Won’t Get Back

It’s week two and my hope to post a blog each week on the same day has already failed. Not without some effort though! Last night, I opened up my laptop to write, and couldn’t find any words. Apparently after a packed day, I just wasn’t too inspired. Instead of throwing something together just to keep to my “schedule,” I decided I might have better luck waking up and writing alongside a nice cup of (iced) coffee.

Which is where I am at right now. Two weeks into my Happiness Challenge, two weeks into my social media cleanse, and two weeks left of undergrad. It’s quite an eventful time! Over the past week, again no life-changing lessons or moments occurred. However, I had a pretty solid week. Mainly because I was back at home with my family–my entire family! For the first time in four months I saw my sister who was visiting for the weekend from Boston. It was a weekend filled with birthday celebrations, wedding planning, and of course good food and good wine.

With this in mind, I’d consider it a pretty happy week–give or take some super busy days at school. The next couple weeks though? These are going to be good. My school work looks to be pretty manageable, and I’m down to my final weeks in Ithaca. My goal is to hit every hiking trail I can while I still have the chance, and spend as much time as I can with my friends before we head off to our new cities.

It’s hard when everyone likes to ask what we are doing after graduation, when really all I want to do is savor the moments I have while still a student. I don’t want to focus on my internship (which is coming up super fast), but rather on the day-to-day moments that I won’t ever get back.

These are the moments I pass my friends on campus and it’s a nice surprise to my day. They are the moments I finish a stressful project and feel accomplished with the hours spent in front of my computer. The moments I’m laughing too hard around a kitchen table with my best friends. The 70 degree days where I can really appreciate how beautiful this campus is. The moments I remember that I’m graduating from a wonderful college and have earned an education that many people may not even have access to. These are the moments I remember I’m only a college senior, and I have every opportunity still in front of me.

I’m not worried quite yet about my summer internship because I know it’s going to be a huge learning experience, one where I’m going to have to work hard and learn as I go. For now, I’m going to try not to worry. I’m going to have fun. A lot of fun. Because I graduate in 24 days. And I’m not going to get these days back.

-Rachel

Because It’s Not Just Coffee.

~Will happily accept all judgments for this post because I am in fact a coffee addict~

In case you haven’t been on any social media today, let me give you a very late heads up: today, September 29th is National Coffee Day–a day dedicated to a beverage that holds far too much importance in far too many people’s lives. And as you can probably tell by the title of my blog, I am no exception.

I couldn’t tell you when I first became obsessed with this perfect beverage, but I can tell you that without it, I would not be the person I am today–stressed, busy, sleep-deprived and yet, still awake.

The non-coffee drinkers are probably scrolling through their news feeds confused and annoyed as to how people can be praising coffee. It’s just a drink. However, it’s not just a drink. How many times has someone asked you to go “grab a cup of coffee?” Coffee is the universal symbol of camaraderie. It has this way about it that brings people together. Whether catching up with an old friend, meeting a client or colleague, or spending the morning with a loved one in the comfort of your own home.

It’s just a drink. But it’s used for so much more than just to stay awake through the work day. Now don’t get me wrong, I would not be a fully-functioning human without my morning cup of coffee, but caffeine isn’t always the only purpose for the hot (or cold) beverage.

At home on college breaks when my mom and I both have the morning off, we get to use our time drinking coffee just to hang out together. Or we make specific dates to go to the local coffee shop. Yeah we spend plenty of time together without coffee in the mix, but these moments are some of my favorite times.

I may be overanalyzing the idea of coffee and camaraderie. Okay, I’m DEFINITELY overanalyzing it, but I can’t help it. All my friends know I would love to open up a coffee shop one day and it’s not just because I love coffee, lattes, biscotti and breakfast. It’s because I love the coziness I feel while curled up to a warm mug. I love the amount of work I can accomplish on a busy afternoon in a coffee shop. I love watching people come and go, meeting friends for just a quick moment during their chaotic workday, all under one coffee shop roof.

So to me, it’s not JUST the caffeine and taste that drives my love of coffee, although there are many days where this may be the case.

And with all this, I hope everyone is having a lovely (and rainy) National Coffee Day.

-Rachel

Baking and Blogging: Happy Saturday.

I guess you could say I’m lacking in the blogging department due to the fact it’s now been over two weeks since my last post. But hey, maybe that’s a good thing–being busy and all. This is the most “adult-like” summer I’ve ever experienced. Commuting a half hour almost every morning into my internship, leaving during rush-hour, making time for the gym, and finally getting back home for dinner. This structured schedule couldn’t be more different than any past summer, and I have to say, I really enjoy it.

Sure I complain about being tired, about the minimum free time, and the obvious downfall of my gas tank depleting ever so quickly with each commute; but this summer of 2015 is the biggest learning experience thus far. Not just in the internship itself, which trust me has included plenty of lessons just a month into the job, but also through the learning experience of balancing my life. I need the family time when I return home each night and on the weekend mornings (brunching life, am I right?). Then there is the time I spend with my hometown friends who I see only on college breaks, and finally the “me time,” which is something that I believe is beyond necessary when we all have so much to juggle in our lives.

My friends and family have heard me say it before, but in reality my “me time” resembles that of a grandmother. I mean it’s Saturday afternoon and I have no soccer game tonight, so what am I doing? Baking. Then there’s my evening tea while watching Netflix or a movie with my family. Yes I have my daily tea time. No shame, it’s good for the bod and mind–at least that’s what those health mags say.

(Proof of the baking)
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I think it’s the small moments when we make time for ourselves that, to be honest, allow us not to go completely insane. For example, my morning coffee while watching The Today Show is one of those moments. The obsession with coffee is real, and this is one part of my daily routine that I just cannot leave the house without.

Remember that half hour commute I mentioned? On a beautiful clear morning, who knew how relaxing listening to the radio and driving through the country could be (well up until getting on the expressway…).

Then there’s the gym–my ultimate “me time” when I can take an hour before dinner with my family and just focus on my workout. Honestly, it’s the perfect escape from any stress.

As I just finished writing these past few paragraphs, I realized they were NOTHING toward the direction I intended when I set out to write this post. Originally it was going to be all about my Ithaca orientation earlier this week and what not. Well, I guess that just goes to show how much I like to change up everything (big or small) in my life; not a negative thing at all. We can’t let life get boring on us can we?

Maybe the next post will touch on the always dramatic “Transfer Decision” from BU to IC. Or maybe something else will bring some inspiration. We’ll see, we’ll see.

-Rachel

Enjoy the Finer Carbs in Life

It was pretty inevitable that I was going to write a post at some point on this subject matter.

I’m aware many college bloggers tend to speak on the subject of women in regard to dieting and body image, but the issue isn’t disappearing as I witnessed today. While I was sitting in the dining hall—I admit I spend way too much of my time in the Bay State dining hall because well unlimited coffee, cereal and plenty of charging outlets–I couldn’t help but overhear just one of far too many conversations that women my age, younger and even older are having.

I’m not eating carbs right now.“

“Yeah I stopped eating meat to cut calories”

“Wait cereal is bad for you? I eat Special K all the time.”

“Yeah it’s not healthy..”

This was followed by terror from the Special K enthusiast concerned that she can no longer eat her favorite cereal.

Then we have the boys who sit down and pile on the plates, not worrying if it’s too many calories, carbs, sugars or fats. They’re hungry, they like food, so they eat it. Simple as that. Also, I do realize I am generalizing males’ food preferences here, but it’s just from my own observations.

This concern over food is out of hand for females. When a girl goes on a diet, she risks feeling judged by the non-dieters who ask why she even cares what’s in her food. She doesn’t go on a diet? She feels judged by the people who do watch everything they eat while she eats what she pleases. The reality is that we shouldn’t be preoccupied with what other people and women are doing or eating as long as we feel healthy, happy and confident with our own lifestyle.

At this moment, I can hear multiple tables of girls around me not taking this free time to talk about exciting news of their days or even laughing. They are, however, talking about their weight and how they regret what they just ate, or asking if they are allowed to go get the next thing they want to eat.

This can’t be okay. We as females can’t let this be the norm. Women are working so hard right now for respect in the professional world and being treated fairly by men, but what about treating ourselves fairly outside of the workplace? Isn’t it just as important to treat ourselves with respect–to our bodies and to our lifestyles–as it is to have other people respect us?

As I’ve mentioned far too many times before, I love food. I also am guilty of stressing over the foods I eat. I do eat healthy. At least I try to in the college environment. Do I put too much thought into what I eat? Absolutely. I realize now though while sitting in this dining hall that I’m not the only one who spends too much time thinking about what I can and cannot eat. And that’s even sadder to me.

I’m all for eating healthy. I love my fruit and Greek yogurt, my shredded wheat cereal and my turkey wraps. But I eat these because I like them. My body craves these types of foods.

Why though are girls trying so hard to force themselves to eat a certain way because a magazine told them so? Or worse–because they felt pressured by their peers to think so?

I do believe people should strive to be healthy. Eat as healthy as you can, workout by doing an activity you actually enjoy, switch up the cookie for an apple if you really want to improve your nutrition with baby steps.

Except now every time you sit down to eat, maybe think about what your body wants, not just what the magazine says is your diet plan. Meal times might be a little less stressful if you enjoy your food as much as you enjoy your company. These college years are stressful enough without worrying about eating a couple extra carbs each day.

There are plenty of ways to maintain your health in appropriate ways, without over-prioritizing your diet or sacrificing your indulgences.

P.S. A pro-tip from a girl who considers herself a foodie: you can’t go through life eating lettuce and water and criticizing yourself every time you want to indulge in a potato (WHICH BY THE WAY IS A VEGETABLE) yet by the time you finish cutting out all your options, that’s what you’ll be left with.

And we all know chocolate and carbs are in fact the keys to success and happiness.

-Rachel

Just in Case You Were Curious–Beantown Bucket List

In my last post I mentioned I have an ongoing Boston bucket list—one that I began last year upon arriving to BU. During the rest of my time at BU (yes a short four weeks) I will be working to check off the remaining items one by one. My Instagram will most likely become evidence to accomplishing the list, but whether or not some stories make it to the blog we will have to find out later.

I figured I would give you a look at it for yourself, so here it is–the complete bucket list, which should probably be renamed to “Important Places to Find Food near BU” due to the common food theme throughout it…no shame in my priorities.

~no particular order~

  • Eat from a Comm Ave food truck
  • Harvard Square—Did visit here during “Godparents Weekend” in my freshman fall, but want to go again. [half] check.
  • New England Zoo—Okay so I may have added this one to bring my success percentage rate up because this is our Spring Formal location—[soon-to-be] check.
  • New England Aquarium—Had never been before, yet managed to go twice in one month last semester. Penguins with the fam. Formal with the Fishies. Double Check.
  • Study at the Boston Public Library—Failed to do this during the pretty winter season (probably because we were snowed in #BOSnow).
  • Baseball Game at Fenway, Sweet Caroline included—I have been into Fenway twice (not counting the ’09 tour with fam), but let’s be honest here–the Yankee game last fall (minus one Jeter) is really the only one that matters. check. #GoYanks
  • Beanpot game—Went last year when we weren’t the champs but hey still counts. check.
  • Freedom trail—Yes I am counting ‘09 with the family because oh the memories are still so clear. *follow the red brick road…* check.
  • Uburger—Because I can’t remember the last time I had a milkshake.
  • Tatte Bakery—This is one café that I CANNOT leave Boston without getting a latte from.
  • MarMon (x2)—Because being in Boston on Marathon Monday was actually one of the best days to experience. check. [soon-to-be] double check.
  • SoWa Market—Missed my chance because it doesn’t begin again til May, but yes it’s still on the list (maybs on one of the many future visits)
  • Flour Bakery and Cafe—Brunch. Brunch. Brunch.
  • Duck Tour—I have to say this one is not happening, and I’m perfectly okay with that.
  • Boston Commons picnic—Last spring with the roomies. check.
  • North End with a Mike’s Pastry cannoli—Need I say more?
  • T Anthony’s—Shoutout to Jill and Sara with helping me succeed far too many times with enjoying this beautiful place. too many checks.
  • Angora Cafe–York Peppermint Patty Froyo = heaven in a cup. check.
  • BU Pub—My goal was to be knighted at the pub and unfortunately leaving as a 20 year old kills this chance (not making my Irish side proud with this one).
  • Coolidge Corner—I know what you’re thinking—how have I not been there yet. But no worries, it’ll happen.

Okay, additions might be made, but none are being deleted, so stay tuned for the update on how successful the month of Boston loving goes. and for pics ~or it didn’t happen~

-Rachel

Time to Fit Two Years into Five Weeks

When I looked at my calendar this morning I couldn’t help but notice that I have exactly five weeks left in my favorite city—the city I have been calling home for the past two years. Yesterday as I went for a run through Back Bay I admired literally everything I saw. I couldn’t believe how lucky I have been to call this area my neighborhood. Although it was refreshing to finally explore the city again (it was above freezing and sunny—basically a summer day), it was still a reminder that I will soon have to give up some of my favorite pieces of the past two years. So before I head back home for the summer, it seems I have a lot of firsts and a lot of favorites to fit into a month.

Remember my post about prioritizing and not saying yes to everything? Well these next few weeks I may be throwing that lesson out the window (just for the next month I promise!). This is because I only have a short time left as an undergrad in Boston. I only have five weeks to experience this “Part 1” of college here at BU.

Like many college students (well I think many college students…), I made a “Boston Bucket List.” AKA—the ultimate tourist activities list to finish before I graduate. This included a North End dinner with a Mike’s Pastry cannoli included, a study session in the Public Library, a picnic in the Boston Commons (which is one thing I CAN check off), and many more famous Boston attractions. Then of course there was my endless list of cafés, which I sadly may not even make a dent in, but you can bet I’ll try.

In these next five weeks I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity I am given to enjoy Boston, enjoy my sorority sisters, my roommates and BU. Yes my planner is full of events for organizations, work, exams and presentations; however, time management this next month is going to be crucial in order to accomplish as many things on my list that are possible.

I’ll be plenty busy this April, but if that means getting my Mike’s cannoli and sipping every latte down Newbury, I think it’ll be worth it 😉

-Rachel

Home-Cooked Memories

Recently I discovered I have the personality of a grandmother in regard to food. Not just any grandmother, but my 2 wonderful grandmothers–let’s just say you won’t get away with eating just one helping at dinner 😉 . To me, food equals love—when you give someone food, that shows you care (hence the “grandma mentality”). When I come home I love to make the family breakfast as often as I can. That’s my version of helping out. If I want to cheer someone up? I’ll bake them cookies. Is it time for a birthday? Oh that means it’s time to bake a cake.

So when we decided what to do for my parents’ 25th anniversary–coming up on March 23rd–where else would we turn to other than food? European food of course. After all, what’s more romantic than a European tour through your own kitchen, am I right? 

Mind you we only had one day after our return from school to organize the food AND keep it hidden from Mother, so yes this is all made from our dear friend Danny Wegman. (Side note: Wegmans is actually my happy place.)

A little look into the food-filled [early] anniversary celebration:

Memories are surrounded by food. Whether with our Macken Family tradition of “Italian Night” before Thanksgiving, snacking on antipasto around the kitchen island as we laugh and chat the night away, ordering from the hometown pizza shop (one too many times), sharing morning coffee and biscotti on a summer morning, or just coming home each break to my favorite meals that my mom can’t wait to make for her kids.

Different foods help us remember different occasions, help us remember times with our loved ones, and let’s be honest, food just tastes good. 

My family does food right. Just ask my Instagram feed:

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This past break at home was proof that food is a part of bringing family together. Maybe it’s my Irish-Italian roots or maybe just my pure love of pasta, but I don’t regret one bite I take when it’s around the family table. 

So yes, food might seem like a strange topic to write about. But in my house, food is where the memories are at.