Anniversary

July 11th marked my one year anniversary in Atlanta. ONE YEAR! Officially, I don’t use Google Maps every time I drive somewhere, I have an auto mechanic, a favorite margarita stop, grocery store, and ice cream shop. I am used to the crazy drivers on the downtown connector and mostly used to the humidity.

Cheers to 1 year, Atlanta! Cheers to 1 more!*

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“Time flies when you’re having fun”


*More details on this to come

The Great Donut Debate

One thing Atlanta has a lot of is donut shops. There is the plethora of Dunkin Donuts and Krispie Kremes, but there are also the small shops that sell nothing but sweetness, sugar, and sublime tastiness.

Now, I’ve only tried two of the most highly rated places – Sublime and Revolution – but I’ve come to a conclusion on my favorite one. So really, it’s not a debate as to which shop is better, but rather which donut is best @ Revolution Donuts.

This time I tried 4 different flavors –

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. True blueberry
  3. Cinnamon sugar
  4. Coconut

So much mouthwatering goodness in every single bite, for every single donut. BUT the winner was the coconut. The flavors meshed perfectly. The coconut wasn’t overpowering, and the cake donut seemed to melt in my mouth – how do they do it?

Revolution has many other kinds including the peach slider, apple fritters, orange pistachio, and even a caramel bacon (I’m drooling). Not to mention they are beautiful! Revolution is seeking to change the way people think about donuts and without a doubt I believe they are achieving it.

Today, I’m celebrating in the simplicity of a donut. The slow mornings they remind me of and the sweet delight as the dough graces your tastebuds.


 “New mysteries. New day. Fresh donuts” – David Lynch

20% Chance

On Sunday, Leah and I went hiking. We packed our bags with water, sunscreen, and bug spray. A quick check of the weather report revealed only a 20% chance of rain.  

20% my ass. 

We drove to the East Palsides Trailhead at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, paid the $3 for parking, and took off down the trail. Not even 5 minutes in and the skies opened up – pouring down rain. 

Stubborn to still go for our hike we continued on, believing that the rain would “stop any moment”. As you may guess, the rain didn’t stop. If anything it grew to a faster pace with fat drops of water falling from the sky. We side-stepped rivers of water in the middle of the trail and jumped over waterfalls flowing down the hills. We tried to find cover under some low-lying tree branches, but nothing seemed big enough to block out the water. At one point as we were huddled together trying to wait it out, Leah asked me, “what would Bear Grylls do?”

A valid question I thought. If we had been stranded in the wilderness we would have definitely needed to find some way to get dry. Lucky for us, the car wasn’t far away. Standing there completely soaked and with no signs of stopping soon we chose to end our hike. We walked back to the car and drove home. 

We easily could have chosen to be miserable, to complain about the rain, to run for the car at the first little splatter. Instead we chose to stick it out, to embrace what life was throwing our way and follow the plan. 

But, wait! We gave up right? In my last year I’ve come to realize that sometimes we aren’t prepared to stick with our original goals. We need to be flexible; willing to move and change as the landscape of our present situation evolves. I think it’s possible to keep the same goal in mind, but to envision another route of getting there is what needs to be made of putty.  This can sometimes be hard to do as we don’t take to change well; I’m constantly reminding myself that it’s all going to work out. A mantra throughout my days. Cheers to the mess, the soaked hikes, and unexpected detours. They make life more interesting don’t they? 

Everything’s going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end 

– John Lennon 

Garden Essential Maintenance

While I was riding the MARTA to work a couple of months ago, staring out the window, dreaming of things I would rather have been doing, I started to scheme about how I might get better at caring for flowers. As you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, I love plants, but don’t necessarily possess a knack for growing them. So, in the attempt to cultivate a green thumb I spontaneously signed up to volunteer with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I’ve become a GEM (Garden Essential Maintenance).

Basically all that means is that one morning a week – Thursdays – I weed flower beds for 3 hours. Its pretty glamorous I know. But in all reality, I really enjoy it. The horticulturist I work with happens to have also lived in Boulder, Colorado for some time so there’s a lot to talk about. We not only reminisce on the best places to hike, grab brunch, or enjoy a cold one, but he also explains the art of gardening.

I’m learning to deadhead flowers to make room for new growth, to recognize poison ivy so I’m not a miserable person, to shear sea grass with giant scissors, and to find peace among the dirt.

One of the most common weeds I pull is a seedling for a Tulip Poplar. Over time, the tiny plant transforms into a giant tree. The gardens typically don’t allow this tree to grow bigger than a baby bud because it does get so large, but they do house one of the largest in Atlanta. It’s so tall that they have it grounded and above the tops of the leaves lives a lightning rod. Apparently when tulip poplars get struck by lightning they explode. Can you imagine anything more spectacular?!  In my opinion that would be a pretty neat thing to witness – from a short distance away of course – but according to Dave, “It makes quite the mess”. He doesn’t want to clean it up.

This week, I’m thankful for quiet moments in the garden. For the chance to learn and for the chance to get a little dirt under my fingernails. Thumbs crossed when I have flora of my own it will be half as beautiful as this garden in the woods.

 

Lake Norman, NC

I give mad props to all of the bloggers that post multiple times a week. Some days it’s just impossible to sit down and write anything – even now, I’m sitting on my stoop writing in whatever spare minutes I have this evening. 

This weekend I made spontaneous plans to visit friends in North Carolina because when your best friend is only 4 hrs away you go. 

First thing of note. Apparently I need to get my cars air conditioning fixed because I drove the entire way with my windows rolled down. I was a sweaty, wind blown mess by the time I arrived. 

Actually, that’s basically it. I really enjoyed being carefree and less worried about everything. I’m so thankful for the breath of fresh air – even if it occasionally also came with a mouthful of lake water. 

Tomorrow it’s back to reality – 

#HAGS

The ever so elegant way of telling your friends to “Have a great summer”. I wrote this in many yearbooks throughout my day mostly because when I was younger I didn’t know how to be thoughtful. I didn’t know how to make someone feel special – make them feel like I was really going to miss them or that I really did want them to have a great summer. Instead I just wrote a generic 4 letter acronym to everyone. 

(Now, I’m still working on being more thoughtful and genuine with people, but being open and vulnerable is hard! So bear with me).

I was reminded of #HAGS today as I thought about my upcoming summer. I don’t get the traditional summer that makes you want to sing, “School’s out for summa!” (welcome to adulthood they said), but I gotta tell you, I’m pretty excited for Summer 2K16. Leah Bobia, my younger sister is coming to the A. Lucky her, she gets to stay with me ALLLLL summer and be my adventure, yoga-in-the-park-going, patio sittin’, hiking, camping, and pretty much everything buddy. I also just purchased my first tent! (An REI Half Dome 2!) Aside from the full set of car tires that I bought for my Subaru at the beginning of May I consider this one of my biggest adult purchases – I’m ready to explore, world! As always, my plan is to use my blog to provide glimpses into L&M’s awesome adventures. In the mean time here are some photos from my trip to the Mile High.

 

Aside from seeing my friends and family, the highlight of the trip was the hot air balloon festival. When we first arrived at 6:15 AM there was nothing going on. The grass was damp between my toes, but the sky was clear as the sun started to climb. Trucks were parked all across the greenway and people were gathered in tight clusters waiting for a signal. I don’t know what that signal was, but all of a sudden baskets were being pulled off of trucks and hot air balloons were pulled out. We were surrounded by the vibrant colors of the balloon fabric, old school baskets, and flaming hot air as the tour companies worked to fill their balloon. It was magical to see them up close and personal and to wave them off as they lifted into the sky. You better believe that my bucket list grew that day to include –

Ride in a hot air balloon

As always, Colorado was fantastic. Until next time – #HAKAS

 

Minneapolis – A short review

In the last 12 months I’ve taken 8 trips. That doesn’t really sound like that many to the seasoned traveler, but to me that’s a record. My latest was to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I flew to Minnesota to attend a scientific conference for pediatric hematologists and oncologists, and to present my research project. Now, I’m not any of those two things, but after this trip that may just become the trajectory for my career. I can’t predict what my future holds, but I can hope some and plan some and then wait to see the way this crazy life unfolds… What I do know, is that deep in my soul I felt a flutter of excitement at being a part of something  bigger. At learning things that no one knows the answers to yet and using our new knowledge to help others.

Sappy feelings aside, the trip was a bit of a whirlwind as I left for the airport early Wednesday morning after a sleepless night. I don’t dream very often, but that night I woke several times in a panic – I kept imagining that I somehow managed to leave the massive poster tube laying in the middle of my living room. What a terrible thing that would have been! *Never fear, I traveled from Atlanta to Minneapolis and back with my poster tube in tow.

I touched down in Minneapolis to rain and cloudy weather, caught the Super Shuttle and arrived at the hotel where I faced the toughest question of the trip – which bed do I sleep in?

The rest of the trip flew by as a series of educational sessions, awkward networking and mingling, a burger at Hell’s Kitchen – the Juicy Lucifer, saki bombs, ice cream with some new friends, and a run along the Mississippi. Overall, Minneapolis is a pretty solid city. It actually reminds me a lot of Denver and I just might come back to visit one day.

Now it’s back to Atlanta for 3 days, then I’m off again – this time to party it up in CO because my baby brother is graduating high school y’all. What is this life????

– Someone pinch me – 

 

Daily Dose

Everyday Facebook diligently reminds me of my memories. While some of these memories I would care to forget, most of them stir up feelings of nostalgia and reminisce. For instance, lately my memories have all been related to my graduation from CU. These are memories that I cherish. I look back on those four years and I am reminded of some of my greatest experiences. I met some of my best friends who pushed me to try new things. They taught me to laugh a little more, to value friendship, and they reminded me to relax and have a little fun every now and then. #goBuffs

There is nothing wrong with these daily reminders of what we had to celebrate a year ago, 3 years ago, 10 years ago. In fact, I think they are really important because they help us look back and realize that we really were able to get through things that might have caused anxiety or stress. I’m not saying that this is true for everyone, but in my case it’s very comforting. All those late nights spent stressed out about a chemistry final wasn’t the end of the world – I would make it through those experiences, and because of those I will now be able to make it through tougher stuff.

On the flip side, sometimes looking at old photos is tough for me. I acknowledge and accept that I will never have a life like Kim Kardashian or be as skinny as a Victoria’s Secret model. That’s just not me. What I will confess though is that what I do struggle with is comparing myself to… myself.

I look at pictures of myself from 4 years ago and think – “Damn, I had good hair then. Why doesn’t it look like that now?” – or – “Huh, I was a lot smaller than I am now”. Or even – “I was less serious than I am now, and maybe had more fun”. I can get stuck in a negative cycle that’s hard to break out of. I hope I’m not the only one…

I certainly need a daily dose of positivity. Memories are beautiful and I’m not going to give those up, but instead I remind myself that I am not the same person I was four years ago. Sure, those experiences are part of my identity, they have shaped me and impacted me, but they aren’t Madeline Grace on May 10th 2016.

So today, I sit in a hotel room between conference sessions and I am thankful for this opportunity. What have I done to deserve this chance? To take a risk and step outside my comfort zone? I am thankful for who I am and what I have become because if I was the same as 4 years ago I sure as hell wouldn’t be here.

There’s grace in accepting my bad hair days, in recognizing change, growth, and my differences from year to year. Thank goodness for grace, beauty, and memories.

 

The Key to Scientific Talks

If you want people to come to your talks, provide lunch. And not just stale pizza. Maybe mix it up with sandwiches one week, burritos the next, and a pizza week thrown in there every now and then. Just to throw em off. 

If you provide lunch, people will come, they will tell their friends about free lunch, their friends will come, and then – just maybe – everyone will learn a thing or two about science. 

And that is what I learned about science today. Science is cool. 

Something About Rain

One thing I like about Atlanta –

It rains.

Not like the gentle sprinkling of rain that Denver gets or the summer’s quick afternoon thunderstorms. Atlanta gets those too, but the rain all-day, wake up in the morning to rain type of storm. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

There is something soothing about hearing the water kiss the ground outside my open window on days of the week that begin with Satur- or Sun-. Or the crash of thunder in the middle of the night that startles me awake, followed by the pitter patter of raindrops like a lullaby rocking me back to sleep. It reminds me of the mornings back home when it snowed overnight without me knowing. The stillness, quiet, and then excitement as I open the blinds to unveil untouched snow resting on the ground. This to me will always be magical. It will always bring me back to my childhood. It will always bring me back home – even just for a moment, even if its just in my heart.

So I like that it rains in Atlanta because it’s the closest thing we have to snow. It’s the closest thing I have to magic.

“The earth has music for those that listen” – William Shakespeare