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2010 Holiday Playlist

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Personal| 4 Comments »

A big thanks to those of you who added suggestions for my holiday playlist. I rounded up a few along with some of my favorites for a yearly compilation of my favorite jolly tunes. I make a much bigger deal out of it than it actually is, but I’m OK with that. If these festive jams still don’t get you into the holiday spirit, I’m not sure what to tell you. Take a drive around your neighborhood and look at some Christmas lights for goodness sake. Snap out of the Grinch funk because all of this Christmas-spirity-goodness is going to be over in the blink of an eye. In the meantime, a Christmas present from me to your ears:

P.S. Congrats to Bruce Floyd! I picked your random comment to win an iTunes copy of Home Alone. In the words of Uncle Frank, “Look what you did, you little jerk!”

Times don’t matter (or Why I run without being competitive)

Posted: November 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Personal| 10 Comments »

I’ve been putting off this post for quite some time. After seeing others tell their fitness stories on their own blogs, I’ve finally taken the time to write my own.

I’m not the only one who has noticed a growing fitness trend among my friends on social networks. Mike LaMonica said it best with his post on the activities he’s noticed everyone getting into. There are CrossFit cultists, cyclists, runners and boot-campers flooding my Twitter feed on any given day. I can see how workout-related tweets can come off as pretentious, but for a lot of us, they are the motivation we need in order to make that pit-stop at the gym before heading home from work. It’s certainly made a difference for me as I’ve tried over the past few years to make fitness a bigger part of my life.

April 2006

Fall 2006

Staying in shape during high school was a piece of cake. Between marching band and water polo, sports and extracurriculars did the work for me. In college, the opposite happened and I fell victim to dreaded freshman weight gain, except mine was more than 15 pounds. It wasn’t until my senior year that I got fed up with buying higher sized clothing and thought I’d give running a try.

Even though my “run” was (and still is) more of a jog, I’d make my way around the path outside my apartment building in college when the mood struck, but struggled to make it a part of my daily routine when I moved back home in 2008. After some convincing from my sister, I signed up at the YMCA in June of 2009. Having a gym buddy helped get me there when I didn’t want to go and soon I saw miles accumulate on the treadmill. I was ready to try out a race.

When I finished my first 5K in August of 2009 I instantly fell in love with it.  The warm, encouraging atmosphere made my intimidation melt away and I felt like this was something I could do on a regular basis. That day I made it my mission to run at least one 5K race per month for a year — 12 races total. This past July marked my grand finale at the Hemingway Days Sunset 5K in Key West.

Little did I know that in the middle of that year, one of my best friends would challenge me to complete the Disney Princess Half Marathon with her. Thinking it was an impossible feat, I signed up not knowing what to expect from myself. Thanks to miles and miles of practice, Gu energy gels, the Black Eyed Peas, race-day adrenaline and being able to dance while I ran with my friend Christi, we pulled off 13.1 miles in just under 3 hours back in March. Never in a million years did I think I would be able to run for that long or that far without passing out or puking all over the place. To my surprise, we both felt pretty good at the finish line.

Christi and I running the 2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon

After a handful of races, it wasn’t long before I started to get sick of answering the “What was your time?” question. Hearing people ask me that became such a drag. It was a loaded question that somehow negated the fact that I had just run 3.1 miles. It was a bubble-burster.

Jesse and I after my 12th race in 12 months - Hemingway Days Sunset 5K - July 25, 2010

From day one, all I wanted was to finish, and not in last place. That’s it. Removing the pressure of faster times and longer distances meant that I could still set long term goals for myself without suffering the mental setbacks of having an off-day. Tracking your time day-to-day is like weighing yourself every day when you are trying a new diet. The moment you see a number you don’t want, it’s easy to quit or lose motivation. If you don’t know what you weigh every single day but can feel your clothes getting looser (or your runs getting easier) you must be doing something right. Thanks to my small running victories, I was experiencing both and it felt good.

I still have a few goals I’d like to accomplish. I’d like to run at least one race in under 30 minutes (the closest I’ve come is 32 minutes) and I’m looking forward to completing the Disney Princess Half Marathon again in February. The satisfaction of knowing I’ve made a healthy change in my life is gratification enough for me to keep at it, regardless of what the scale or time clock says. I’m a healthier, happier version of myself and I know I can attribute some of that to the time I that I gift to myself when I run.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Personal| 9 Comments »

To those who know me, it will come as no surprise that after a long blogging drought, all it takes is a little holiday cheer to get me in the writing mood again. It’s also no secret that I’ve mixed a few holiday carols into my daily musical repertoire since mid-summer, just to get me through the stagnant Florida heat and humidity (which, by the way, definitely helps). It may seem a little wacky and preemptive, but I’m not the only one.

Now that Halloween has come and gone, I’m heading full-force into Christmas. Thanksgiving is nice and all, but it’s really just a day of food insanity. No carols, no trees, no presents and no Santa. Forgive me if Thanksgiving is nothing more than a blip on the radar en route to Christmas.

For the third year and starting today, I’m soliciting suggestions and requests for your all-time favorite holiday tunes and compiling them on my 3rd Annual Twitter Christmas Playlist.

Share in the comments the Christmas (or holiday) song that whisks you back to childhood or one that you think MUST be heard at any good holiday party. Take a peek at my playlists from previous years over on Grooveshark or listen using the widgets below. I won’t use the same version of a song twice. On Dec. 1 I’ll publish my playlist and pick one random winner from the comments section who will win their very own DVD copy of one of my top-5 favorite Christmas movies of all-time.

Don’t be a Scrooge or a Grinch. It’s never too early to get in the holiday spirit!

Why I love Pinterest and why you should too.

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: social media| 52 Comments »

My friend and co-worker Lori (not Lisa) knows better than anyone how stubborn I can be at trying new services, which isn’t to my advantage working in social media. New tools, sites, networks and apps flood our Google Readers every day, and she keeps me on my toes when it comes to finding fun and helpful ways to better our lives. Thanks to Lori I now use Pinterest, my new favorite site.

If you haven’t joined Pinterest to play with it first-hand, leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite (though as it grows, I’m sure invites will be less and less necessary).

Pinterest is not your average bookmarking website. It’s a visual representation of things on the web that you pin on different boards, set up by you; a collection of inspiration. With the help of a handy browser bookmarklet, anything with a photo can be pinned. Each board can be a cluster of whatever you’d like and the uses for Pinterest seem endless. If you’re redesigning a room in your home, planning a wedding or want to keep a record of all those cute clothing pieces you long for while you shop online, Pinterest is for that. Instead of each URL showing up in a mundane bookmark list, your Pinterest dashboard is photo based so the visualization can be stunning and fun for the eyes to filter and peruse.

Of course, as is standard, you can find your friends on social networks and pick which boards of theirs you’d like to follow in your dashboard. Re-pin worthy items from others’ boards onto your own. Like and add comments to your favorite pins from friends.

So far, I’ve purchased a handful of gifts for friends and family based on the items they’d pinned on their boards. Unwrapping items you pinned on a whim without any intention of owning or buying makes it an even more unexpected surprise for the recipient of the gift.

If you’ve always struggled to pinpoint just what your style aesthetic is, start pinning. Naturally you’ll start to notice trends and similarities in what you decide to add to your boards and your style will emerge on its own. For home decor, it’s pretty obvious that turquoise shades and lush fabrics and patterns tickle my fancy:

And clearly I’m a sucker for sundresses and bright colors when it comes to clothes:

What do you use Pinterest for?

5 Ways to be productive when social sites are down

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: social media| 2 Comments »

Five months into my gig as a Social Media Coordinator at AutoNation, it seems I am still ironing out a work flow that feels comfortable for me. Even though the nature of being social on social networks means there shouldn’t be a rigid structure of tasks in place, I grew very accustomed to that work style at my last job at the Miami Herald. We worked on deadline. I had my entire work shifts mapped out in advance. I knew when I could take short breaks. The structure of the position became very routine to the point where I could have almost done it blindfolded.

With social media, it’s fluid motions; reacting as necessary when conversations arise. I enjoy this leisurely (I use that word loosely) approach, but sometimes when your interactive and engaging juices start to flow and your Twitter stream becomes more active, you’re greeted with a fail whale and there’s not much you can do. Your work flow is halted. How can you be social when the social sites are down?

1. Browse for links. When I can’t actively tweet because of Twitter’s standard wonkiness or if Facebook is having issues (which is commonplace), I turn to Google reader and see what I can find. I’ve got folders for automotive blogs, RSS feeds and resources that I scour and save for tweeting at a later time. I use delicious and tag these links with #ANtweets so I can find them later easily. This leaves me with an arsenal of info I can pull from to share on slower days. Find a system that works for you that allows you to quickly find resources you can share with your fans and followers when the Internet starts to behave again.

2. Schedule blog posts. You don’t even have to write them. Take @brucefloyd‘s advice and map out a post schedule based on the topics you plan to write about. Put them into your Google calendar. If the networks are down for an extended amount of time, throw a few paragraphs together or compile an outline. This will keep you from putting off posts in the future, though it may be easier said than done. (Can we pretend that this blog post isn’t the first one I’ve written since February? Cool.)

3. Go analog. Grab that writing utensil that we call a “pen” and place it on one of those square white sheets of “paper” and swirl it around a bit. Some of your best ideas come from the simple act of writing things down. Your brain muscles react and stretch in different ways when you use the written word. It’s what @jasonrukus does.  Put down your iPad and give it a shot.

4. Organize miscellaneous tasks. Our team at AutoNation has become big fans of Action Method. It serves as our project and assignment organization application. We input action items for one another, give them a due date and a priority. We keep it organized by project and topic. On days when the social networks are slow or acting up, I go into Action Method and organize. Did this action item need to be updated? Postponed? Is there a status update I can offer to keep my team in the loop? I do all of these things. It makes me feel productive.

5. The dreaded e-mail. As a last resort, I’ll answer e-mails that I’ve put off. There is no better time to conquer them than when I can’t use Twitter or Facebook as distractions. It’s one of the heaviest weights you can lift off yourself and for me, it makes being active on social sites more enjoyable and fun because I don’t have the cloud of e-mail floating over my head.

What do you do when Twitter and Facebook are acting up and you can’t engage your fans and followers? Share with a comment.