Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Good Friends, Good Times

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you are probably aware that “Some of My Best Friends are…people I met on the internet”.

I have always been the type of person who can make friends in the most unusual of ways. I’m outgoing and talkative by nature, so I’ll strike up a conversation with just about anyone, just about anywhere, about just about anything. I have made (and met) friends over pen pal letters from as far away as Germany, when I was just a teenybopper. I have bonded with girls over musical tastes, a pair of shoes, and a laptop computer while on a flight to visit another long distance friend. And then, of course, there are my internet friends.

If you click on that link above, you can get a little more history on a particular group of friends I met online almost 9 years ago. These 6 girls and I have been through everything together. Break-ups, make-ups, marriages, babies, health issues, career changes, moves, successes, failures, drama and good times. I’ve been lucky to meet almost all of them in person at one point or another, and I count them among my very best friends in the world. Up until this weekend, I had yet to meet two of them in person.

But this past weekend “WEST Virginia” came to stay with me.

There was a little bit of apprehension on both of our parts about finally meeting face to face. We spend most of our days texting and/or instant messaging each other, and we get along fabulously over technology. But what if we didn’t “click” when actually face to face? What if it was awkward? As she kept saying “what if she thinks I’m a dork?” What if…would we ruin our great friendship by meeting?

Truth be told, I was more excited than anxious. I had faith that we would get along fabulously.

Thankfully, I was right. We clicked instantly, and it was as if we were simply old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while, reconnecting after a long absence. There was no awkwardness. And let us be honest, we’re both big dorks, and we’re both well aware of that already, so there was no issue there either.

I picked her up at the airport on Thursday afternoon, and we instantly launched into an easy conversation about her flight, and giggled like schoolgirls as we tried to locate my car in the parking garage.

Thursday night was made easier by a home cooked crock pot meal (made by yours truly and pretty darn good if I do say so myself) and the two hour season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, a show we watch together via instant messenger weekly.

Friday I dragged her to work with me (kicking and screaming for the early morning hour), where we were having an employee appreciation cook-out at midday. We left after lunch and headed out for some shopping. Friday evening we had dinner at my parents’ house, where she met my family, parents, grandfather and Bro and his girlfriend. Everyone got along fabulously and we had a great evening.

Saturday we spent the day at a flea market, and then went to the movies. Sunday I drove her back to the airport, and was sad to see her go, knowing that if she lived closer, we would certainly spend a lot of time together.

It was a laid back, fun, and casual weekend. It was an easy, comfortable, not at all forced time with a great friend.

I look forward to our next visit, but am glad to know that we can continue our daily texting and/or instant messaging chats in the meantime, without any awkwardness.

Isn’t the internet great?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back on Track

Around this time last year I was barely a month into my weight loss journey. In fact, I set off on my “journey” on August 27th, 2008. Don’t ask me why that date is so clear in my mind, especially since I tend to be really bad with dates, but there it is. That was the day I joined Jenny Craig and set off on my journey to lose “a few pounds”.

At the time, I knew I was “a bit” overweight, but having always been “the skinny one”, I don’t think my brain had wrapped itself around the fact that I was actually “quite a bit” overweight.

I am “petite” at 5’2”, and at the time when I started JC I weighed in at almost 150. (149.9 to be exact). I realize that to some this may not sound like a lot, but the truth is, it’s an unhealthy weight for me. Especially because I happen to be one of those “lucky” girls that carries my weight right in my belly area. Belly fat, as we all know, is the unhealthiest of all.

Anyway, when I started JC, I set my goal at 135, thinking that there was no way I would get there, but what the heck, I’d go ahead and put that down.

When all was said and done, I reached that goal and kept adding 5 lbs. to my goal. Eventually I dropped 25 lbs, and went from feeling squeezed tight in a size 10, to being very comfortable in a size 4. At 125 I looked better than I ever have, and was only 5 lbs. away from my final goal of 120.

I set the 120 goal as a safety net. If I could stay between 120 and 125, then I would be in a good spot, not having to stress too much for a few extra pounds, but knowing to get back on track if I started inching my way up past the 125.

I told myself that 130 would always be my do or die…the number I did not want to see on the scale, just to keep me in line.

I should say here that I’m not obsessing over the numbers, I’m just using them as reminders to stay on top of my health.

But the thing about getting so close to your goal is that it gives you a false sense of security. And then, you slack.

A few weeks ago I stepped on the scale to see 133.

Not a dire emergency, not an atrocious number, but…yes, it’s time. Time to get serious again.

So, starting today, I’m back on track. Eating healthy, eating every 3 hours, snacks, small meals, keeping a food journal, lots of vegetables, THINKING before I eat.

And it is time to step up the exercise again. Truth be told, I haven’t slacked nearly as much with exercise as I have with food. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to really stick to a routine. For now, I’m going to take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather and stick to power walks. I’m easily doing a 3 miler a few times a week now, so I’m stepping it up and adding a mile to it this week. My goal here is to be doing 5 miles before the winter sets in and I’m forced inside a gym. I’m also going to be adding some abs and arms at home every other day. (I’ve also bought wrist weights for my walks).

The goal for the scale stands at 120, with the realistic realization that I really just want to be anywhere between that and 125. It’s a healthy weight for me, and it is where I plan to “live” for the long term. I just need to get there first.

So there it is, all in writing to hold me accountable.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Only The Good Friday - Fall, Shoes and's all Good.

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, why not?) then you know I’ve been Mrs. Cranky Pants all week.

I could get into a detailed discussion of all the reasons why Cranky Karina made her appearance known this week, but…well, it’s FRIDAY, and that means it’s Only The Good Friday, and we focus on the positives on OTGF.

SO, instead of giving Cranky Karina any more airtime, I’m going to focus on the good things.

What good things, you ask?

Oh, there’s plenty.

For starters, Fall has arrived in New England with a vengeance. And next to Summer, Fall just happens to be my favorite season of the year. It’s been a bit chillier than I would like it to be the last few days, but temps are said to be rising the next few days. Which means sleeping with windows open, waking up to that slight chill, but crisp scent in the air, and then enjoying sunny and warm afternoons before the sun sets and that crisp chill hits once again. I love fall weather, truly.

Fall also means a wardrobe change. Now, if you know me, you know these are the simple things that brighten my days. Yes, I’ll be sad to put away the summer dresses and shorts and flip-flops, but I get to exchange them for cardigans and long sleeved t-shirts and oh…boots. Did you hear me? BOOT weather is nearly here. Oh how I love my boots.

And really, when all else fails, focus on the shoes. The shoes make everything better.

Speaking of shoes, one of my twitter buddies (@ashleygreenere) introduced me to something yesterday that may just be the greatest internet invention of all time. “” is basically a “shoe-of-the-month” club. Yes, you read that right, and if you know me at all, then you know at the moment my head is SPINNING at the mere idea of this. Needless to say, yes, I signed up, and will be keeping you posted on my thoughts about the site and the program. I’m waiting until I receive my first shoe recommendations before I talk about it anymore, but I will post a review about it once I do.

BUT a shoe-of-the-month club? GENIUS.

And since I mentioned my twitter buddies, I should also mention that in the midst of the bad week I was having, those same twitter friends were a great source of support and encouragement for me. What an amazing group of people gathered together by that little blue bird, and how lucky am I to have stumbled across them. I don’t care what anybody says, as far as I’m concerned, Twitter is a GOOD thing.

I’ve met so many amazing people on this interweb, it’s such a great thing.

Speaking of my internet friends, another very good thing is happening next week. I shall have a houseguest next weekend, and she happens to be one of my very best friends. She also happens to be someone I met on the internet oh, over 8 years ago, and who I have yet to meet face to face. Yes, that’s right, we’ve never met face to face, and she’s coming to spend the weekend with me. But you have to understand that for a little under a decade, we’ve been in almost daily, and certainly weekly communication. With a small group of other ladies (some of whom we’ve both been able to meet in person), we’ve been through break-ups, marriages, childbirths, family drama, deaths and successes. These girls at times know me better than any of my “real life” friends could even dream to know me. And this particular friend and I have grown even closer in the last year or so, with daily text and instant messaging conversations. She’ll be here Thursday through Sunday and I am so excited to have her visit.

See, all good things.

So, there you have it, my Only The Good Friday post for this week. Ah, I feel better, don’t you?

Don’t forget to stop by Shelly’s, as she’s the brains (and heart) behind Only The Good Fridays.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I'm Single - In this town

There are many reasons why I’m single at this point in my life.

In fact, just about everyone I know has an opinion about my single status. I’m not willing to settle, the right guy just hasn’t come along, it’ll happen when the time is right or better yet, when I least expect it (that’s a joke), I’m too picky (I’m eternally being told this one), I need to get out more (laugh with me if you know just how ridiculous this one is), I’m not looking hard enough, I need to stop looking so hard, I intimidate men because of how independent and successful I am, I should just be myself, I should try internet dating, I should never do internet dating, I should let them set me up with their cousin/brother/uncle/neighbor coworker, they don’t know any single people to set me up with…well, you get the point. Everyone has input into the situation, as if this was a group project.

Truth be told, I’m perfectly comfortable being single, and don’t spend the majority of my days looking for (or even really thinking about) Mr. Right. That being said, I’m finally at a point in my life where I am certainly open to meeting someone.

And yet, now that I have decided that I am ready and willing to re-enter the dating scene, I’m finding it a bit hard to do so. Meeting someone just isn’t as easy as it used to be in my 20’s.

Somedays, I look at all other aspects in my life, I look at other people around me, I look at other couples and I wonder why am I single? What is it that keeps me from finding “the one”.

Other days, however, I realize exactly why that is. It takes but a walk down the street, a conversation with a friend, or a stroll through my local grocery store to remind me why I am indeed single.

So, I bring you my new segment here at Candid Karina. As I navigate the waters of re-entering the dating scene in my 30’s, I’m pretty sure I’ll have plenty to share with you as to why I haven’t yet found “the one”.

And what will then happen to this segment when I do find “the one”? Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about that, after all…it could be a while.

For example, to kick things off, let’s start with today.

In the spirit of quieting the “you need to get out more” voices in my head, now and again at lunch time, I decide to go for a walk through the downtown area where my job is located.

Mind you I’m not going out “looking” to meet someone, but I figure if I go take a walk to clear my head, and mingle among the rest of the “downtown lunchers” anything can happen right?

Right. Except. These are just a few tidbits of the conversations I overhear as I take my little walk:

1. Walking by a group of guys and gals, probably in their mid-20’s: “So-and-so got arrested last night again” - “What did he do this time?”
2. Walking by two guys, who were obviously trying to get the attention of a girl passing by “Come on girl, we can go smoke a blunt, where do you live?”

And you wonder why I’m single in this town?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Family Time

This past weekend my family and I took a bit of a nostalgia trip.

When I was in my early teens, we had a family tradition of spending a week every summer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Every year we would pack up the cars for the 2 plus hour drive, and head to a nice little “cottage resort” for nature, fun and games. My cousins PM, M&M and I would get our very own little cottage, our parents (and my little brother) would set up camp in surrounding cottages, and we would spend the week enjoying each other’s company, and the lack of “technology” available to us.

We would cook out, take all day sightseeing/hiking trips, hang out by the pool, hit up random yard sales and village shops, and then spend the evenings by the campfire roasting marshmallows and telling tales.

My cousins and I would then proceed to stay up all night doing whatever it is that teenage girls can do all night long at slumber parties. Giggle, tell stories, fantasize about their future husbands, listen to music.

Every year we’d look forward to this week.

We haven’t been up there as a family in well over 15 years.

This weekend, however, we decided to revisit and take a mini-vacation at the White Mountains.

My parents, my grandfather, my brother and his girlfriend, my uncle and aunt, my cousin M&M, her fiancé and her daughter and of course I spent the weekend at a little cottage resort.

It was surprisingly easy to allow ourselves to let go of the confines of technology and sink into the beauty and ease of nature around us. I won’t lie, we had our blackberries and iphones in tow, but by Saturday afternoon, the constant checks for emails and text messages were less frequent, and by Saturday night, I’d given up all hope (or interest) in keeping up with my twitter stream updates.

Instead the focus was on the beauty of the mountains around us, the warmth of our campfire, and the company of family. We ate, we drank, we told stories, we played games, and we reminisced a bit. Mostly, we just enjoyed the time, and the company.

It was a lovely and fun time, and a reminder of all the great things God has blessed us with.

I’m hopeful it won’t be another 15 years before we all do it again. In fact, the fall foliage is just starting to turn, so a re-visit in a few weeks is something we’re all considering.

I won’t lie, there was a bit of bitter sweetness there as I watched my family throughout the weekend.

The resort we used to stay at, just up the road from the one we stayed in this weekend, is badly deteriorated, closed for renovations, but now owned by someone else.

My cousin PM now lives in California with a family of her own, so she was not there with us. My brother, all grown up, is no longer the “little boy of the family” but instead brought his girlfriend with him. The “kids” are now the adults, and things are so different.

And yet, the love, the camaraderie, the incessant joking and teasing were all the same. For the record, every last one of my family members is nuts. I can’t wait to do this all again soon.

My family and I took a nostalgia trip this weekend, and I brought back a heart filled with warmth as a souvenir.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget - EVER

Okay, I haven't posted anything in a while here (big surprise, seems to be the running theme), but I couldn't let today go by without a post.

I've posted this poem more than once on this here little blog o' mine, but honestly, I can't seem to find words more fitting every year than the ones I wrote back in 2001 after the tragedy happened.

So, once again, I'm reposting a poem I wrote back in 2001.

Tuesday Morning

When I awoke
the sun was shining
I could smell the ocean breeze
the birds singing
the world was grand
I started my day with ease

Then the phone rang
"turn on the tv
You won't believe your eyes"
And then I saw it
the second impact
terror coming from he skies

"What's going on?"
I asked dumbfounded
"Is the world falling apart?"
As time progressed
I learned much more
The knowledge broke my heart

"Oh my God
There it goes"
Someone said to the crowd
And as it fell
our hopes crumbled
the country sighed out loud

How could this be?
Here , in America?
We're not supposed to cry
On a Tuesday morning
for no good reason?
People aren't supposed to die

But things have changed
The world is different
We'll never again be the same
But how we stand proud
The United States
Much more than just a name

My heart still broken
My eyes, still moist
I still can't make much sense
But I've seen the focus
such prayer, such unity
The world's love so intense

They shook foundations
They collapsed buildings
They took human lives that day
But we won't be rattled
Won't be destroyed
God Bless the USA

Copyright 2001 - Karina

I only wish our country stood as united today as we did 8 years ago. It shouldn't take such tragedy to bring us together as one.

And that's about as political as I'm going to get here. Hug your loved ones. Smile at a stranger. Pray for our country.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I’m a summer girl. I’ve always been a summer girl. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was born in Africa, and therefore, am preconditioned to love hot weather. Maybe it has to do with the fact that here in New England summer lasts a few measly months (if not a few measly weeks as we had this year) and winter lasts all of eternity. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we get to wear less clothing, daylight lasts longer, and I get to show off my killer tan. Maybe it has to do with that whole SAD thing, you know, Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as The Winter Blues. I definitely suffer from that.

Whatever the reason (probably all of the above), I am a summer girl.

I love the heat, the sun, the fact that it doesn’t get dark until well after 9pm, and that you can be out of the house all the time, all summer long.

I love going to the beach, going for walks, running outside, eating at an outdoor café, sitting with a good book poolside.

I love wearing summer dresses and flip-flops and sunglasses on my head to push my hair out of my face.

I love driving with the windows down, wind in my hair, music blaring, getting an uneven tan on the driver side arm.


And yet.

As we enter September today, and, here in New England the weather takes that all too familiar “overnight” turn into the crisp autumn temperatures, I am almost giddy with excitement at the coming season.

There is something very emotionally connected for me about autumn.

I can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but there is something about the smells, tastes, scents, and sights of the season that tug at my heartstrings.

Here in New England we have the beautiful colors of the season, the turning of the leaves into a canopy of oranges, yellows, and reds.

And that crisp, almost biting, but not quite uncomfortable feel in the air as the temperature drops, but the sun is still high up in the sky is hard to put into words. You leave the house in short sleeves and jeans, but bring a sweater with you “just in case”. It is still nice enough outside to go for a walk, and the perfect weather for a run, and the suffocating humidity is almost forgotten.

There is nostalgia in the air, that anticipation of the other “dreaded” season, but the joy of basking in just a little more warmth. The expectation of the “Indian Summer” which is sure to show up in mid to late September, along with the magical twilight that only exists, truly, in autumn.

The air tastes, feels, smells different. And I do love everything about it. Everything but the fact that I know it’ll be short lived, and followed all too soon by a long, drawn out, miserable and cold and dark winter. I am NOT a winter girl.

So, today, on September 1st, a day with a definite autumn feel in the air, I find myself conflicted.

Mourning the end of an all too short summer, and yet celebrating the start of what may in fact be my favorite season.

I’m a summer girl, but oh, I have a secret love affair with autumn.