Staying Home For the Holidays

In my last post, I wrote about how slowing down has been the theme of my winter months and I made no exception for the holiday season.

The last weeks of the year are always insanely busy at work – a heavy shopping season + end of year client budgets to spend + year end reviews = a whole lot to do in a few short weeks. I prioritized keeping my personal life and free time as stress-free and uncommitted as possible which helped me be more present in both sides of my life – personal and professional.

Miami Long Weekend //

The weekend before Christmas, Alex found ridiculously cheap flights to Miami and, with a couple of ‘use it or lose it’ PTO days left in the year, we spent a long, warm weekend in Florida, on the beach. We spent the entire time doing only what we wanted when we felt like it. So what if we took a nap on a Friday evening and woke up at 9p? We ordered fresh poke bowls to be delivered and ate dinner outside, next to the hotel pool. Throughout the weekend, we jogged along the beach trail to breakfast, read books by the beach, drank fresh OJ like it was going out of style and relished in the warm, sunny weather.

Miami Long Weekend //

And the holidays themselves? More of the same. After a chaotic year(s), taking the last 2 weeks of the year to chill out has been so luxurious and necessary. We did not travel or host friends for Christmas; it was just me and Alex and Philly (and a goofy goldendoodle pup we watched). We cooked together, spent mornings baking cinnamon rolls and poptarts, watched Christmas movies and took long walks around our neighborhood.

Workwise, I was one of the few at my office the week between Christmas and New Years which gave me a great opportunity to spend time thinking about how I want to approach the next months and year at work – something I need to prioritize more of in 2018! And with slow work weeks, Alex and I did similar goal setting for our personal and financial lives. We talk about finances regularly but it feels so good to take the time to really check in with where we are, where we want to be and how to get there.

As we close out 2017, I’m so thankful for the experiences of the past year but man, am I glad we’re through it and finally to a more settled spot in our lives. Today, I’m looking forward to a healthier, more intentional, more productive 2018. Wishing you a happy new year’s eve where ever this blog post finds you, too!

Slowing Down

It’s kind of amazing how a little bit of normalcy can make a significant difference in one’s quality of life.

Looking back, I knew the past 3 years were chaotic and frenzied and challenging. I knew it in the moment but also knew the only choice I had was to buckle down and forge ahead. Through multiple moves, through countless cross-country flights, through working remotely, through political upheaval and uncertainty, through living apart from my husband, through anxiety attacks, through moving back in together, through a summer of travel and visitors, forging ahead. Head down, moving forward.

Last summer, amidst temporarily living in Denver for a few months while my husband was in LA for an internship, I went to the doctor for a regular check up. When I asked a question about an abnormality, she asked me, ‘Are you under any more stress than usual?’ I recall responding with, ‘No, not particularly,’ thinking, ‘yeah, life is a little crazy right now but, overall, not really.’ WHAT?!

Looking back at that time, HOLY SHIT was it stressful. It’s astounding to me that I couldn’t fully grasp that in the moment. Our friends and family cheered us on, told us they couldn’t imagine doing what we were doing. I knew what we were doing was unusual and definitely challenging but in that chapter, we did what we had to do and we didn’t think twice about it. But now? Today, I am not quite sure how I managed to do all of the things I did and not lose my marbles.

All of this to say, that now? Now, I really feel good again. I have stopped consuming news 24-7 and have set boundaries as to when and how I check the news. I share a typical weekday schedule with my husband – we work normal hours and come home to each other every night. I wake up next to my husband on the weekend which always feels like the most exciting treat. We make plans to see our friends – for dinners, for beers, for bike rides, for concerts. We also spend a lot of time together, just us. After sharing so much of our time with other people these past few years, it’s really important to us to prioritize time just for us, to reconnect and just do the things that make us happy.

Petrefam //

I’ve made it a point to SLOW DOWN after so much HURRY UP. I’m closing my computer in the evenings after work and instead, picking up a book to read or a pencil to doodle. I’m crawling into bed early to sleep 7-8 hours most nights. I’m drinking less beer and more water. I’m prioritizing exercise and have even found a running partner in my husband; running 25-30 minutes with him are treasured minutes of my day. It all seems obvious and easy to make better-suited-for-me choices but clearly, it’s taken me a long time to get here. Better late than never!

All this to say that heading into this Thanksgiving week, I feel grateful and thankful for so much. For all of the past chaos and for the present normal. For the future adventures and future calm. For friends and family who supported us through the hard times. For a husband who believes in me and my aspirations, for a job I love, for compromise and growth. For slowing down.

Currently: Choosing Light and Love

My heart is heavy, as I’m sure yours is too, and has been much of the year. The hits just keep coming, don’t they? No matter political affiliation, this year has been extra high on the suck factor. Weather events devastating homes and countries, mass shootings devastating lives of so many, sickness ravaging coworkers and coworker’s families, friends and family dealing with personal trials and loss on a smaller but no less impactful scale. It’s far too easy to feel hopeless and really hard to stay hopeful.

I’ve been quiet on this space and social media because frankly, I don’t know the words to say. Nothing feels right. But I’m sad and frustrated and tired of feeling this way. Tired of feeling powerless to this chaos and hurt around me.

Last Monday, I came back to my One Little Word, Inspired. I chose this word because I knew going into 2017, I would feel challenged to remain positive and would need a mantra to remind me to see beauty in the world around me. Admittedly, it’s been super hard to find inspiration or even to keep the word top of mind.

But enough is enough. I’m choosing light and I’m choosing love. And I’m choosing to take care of myself.

I’m donating blood, calling my family to tell them I love them, sending snail mail to brighten a mailbox. I’m smiling and saying hello to colleagues who I don’t know or work closely with, I’m making sure those around me feel included and important. I’m trying to bring light and kindness to people around me because this world needs it and I am able.

I’m also limiting the duration and frequency with which I consume news. I allow myself 20-30 minutes of NPR and New York Times news podcasts in the morning on the bus and 15 minutes of my local NPR station on the way home. I’ve been tuning out of Facebook echo chambers and passionate rants and redirecting that time and energy elsewhere. Small changes to protect my emotional and mental well being; I’m working to stay informed while not letting it consume me, as I have so often in recent months.

I don’t know where we do from here or what happens next but I’m going to make damn sure that while I still can, I share the goodness I know to be true in the world with those around me. Whether I’m granted a few more weeks or (hopefully) few more decades on this Earth, I want to leave a legacy of love and know I did what I could to leave the community around me in a better way than I found it.

Intentional Goal Setting for November

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve dedicated time to this little blog! I have so many posts swirling in my head but after a busy work day, I often choose to decompress and close my laptop in the evenings. But I miss blogging and the creative outlet it provides.

Since moving back to Denver 6 weeks ago, I’ve found myself in a weekday routine that centers around biking to/from work, working and making myself dinner for 1. Not much variation and, now that I’m settled in my routine, I’m ready to create space in my days to be creative or feel inspired – something I haven’t done since the beginning of the Summer of Chaos.

In ‘the old days’, when my husband and I didn’t live this unconventional, long distance life, we would set 2-4 mini goals for the month, write it on a piece of printer paper and post it on the fridge to serve as a daily reminder/inspiration. We each set our own goals and mine included things like: read a book, don’t buy kombucha, do 1 creative thing, mail 4 letters, go to OrangeTheory or yoga 3x each week. Simple and tangible.

So this month, I’m bringing the mini-goals back into my life! In November, I will aim to:

  • Take the stairs (at work, airports, whenever possible)
  • Dedicate time to meditation/reflection at least 3x per week
  • Eat out less + focus on more healthy/homemade meals
  • Read 1 book

I’ll be splitting the month between Denver and Pittsburgh/Cincinnati so I intentionally chose achievable goals that are location agnostic.

To keep these goals top of mind, I have them posted both at my desk at work and in my room at home. I’m excited to make time to feel inspired and work towards personal goals that should make my mind and body happy.

Pennsylvania Skiing: Seven Springs Mountain Resort

You may have heard there was a giant blizzard last weekend here in the northeast. Maybe the news talked about it? Kidding, of course, because the storm brought historic snowfall to the region and while Pittsburgh wasn’t forecast to get the 2+ feet of snow other areas got, we were still in the storm’s path. And I could hardly contain my excitement!

You see, western PA has been unseasonably mild this winter and, as a gal who loves winter, I’ve been really missing snow sports! So when our forecast predicted 6 inches of snow – and more snow south of Pittsburgh where the local ski resort is! – I was stoked. I pulled out all my ski gear on Friday night and hopped out of bed on Saturday morning, ready to brave the roads and make my way to Seven Springs. I made my Whole30 breakfast, poured coffee into a travel mug and hopped in my beloved Outback. A winter adventure! YAS!

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh roads take a bit longer to clear than Denver roads, it seems. It took me twice as long to navigate the snowy – and HILLY – city roads as it usually does but I made it safely to the highway (or…I think it’s a parkway here?). As I crawled along at 45 miles per hour due to reduced speed limit advisory (and truthfully, I wouldn’t have wanted to travel faster), I made the executive decision to turn around.

Pittsburgh was at the very northern edge of the storm but south, where Seven Springs sits, got hammered with 36+ inches of snow. The skier in me was really pissed about turning around – if EVER there was a day to ski in Pennsylvania, THAT was the day! But the practical, ‘safety squirrel’ (c/o Heidi) in me knew that if the roads were uncleared and slippery in Pittsburgh where we only got 6 inches, they would be much worse in back-road PA where they already had 25 inches on the ground and were getting up to 3 inches of new snow each hour.

So I came home, ran my 4 mile ‘long run’ for Pittsburgh Half Marathon training and resolved to try again on Sunday morning.

Rinse and repeat. On Sunday morning, I bounded out of bed, scarfed down my breakfast, loaded up my coffee and hit the road! The roads were clear and dry and I raced down I-76E…only to find that the highway/parkway was closed 15 miles ahead of my exit. Not to be deterred, I let Google Maps reroute me through the tiny town of New Stanton and navigated through the beautiful backroads. Before long, I turned into the Seven Springs parking lot, giddy with excitement.

I hauled my skies across the parking lot to the slopes; I waited in line for 2 minutes to take the lift to the summit and pointed my tips downhill. WEEEE! Fresh powder! Bluebird skies! You couldn’t have smacked the dopey smile off my face!

Pennsylvania Skiing: Seven Springs //

Up and down, up and down. I skied all afternoon. The resort was much bigger than I expected with 10 lifts and 33 runs and I rarely waited longer than 3 minutes to catch a lift to the top. If Sunday was a busy day (which I’d imagine it was), I have no complaints! The runs may have been short but the lack of lift lines meant I could just go and go and go.

For a brief moment, I felt like ‘the old me’, like I was living a Colorado weekend, complete with tuning in to the Broncos game on the radio on my drive back home. And I didn’t feel sad or mad, like I probably would have a few months earlier, that this wasn’t my life anymore.

Instead, I felt grateful; grateful for snow, grateful for fresh air, grateful for skiing, grateful for a winter storm to remind me that I can still be ‘the old me’ and do the mountain things I love, even in the midwest. For this chapter in my life, I may not be skiing every weekend but I will certainly savor the experiences I do get.

The weather has already warmed back up and we’re expecting rain, not snow, this week. I’m hoping to catch another serendipitous weekend powder day in Pennsylvania this season but if not, I’m happy to have at least gotten one great day on the Seven Springs slopes.


Getting Back Into It: Running

Since moving to Pittsburgh in August, I’ve been spending a lot of time in my running shoes. For a number of reasons – working from home, lack of mountain adventures, abundance of time on my own – I’ve been able to really prioritize running and fitness again and it feels great.

In years past, I loved training for and running races. I ran my first half marathon in 2009 and then ran 3 more in the year that followed alongside various 5ks and 10ks. As one of my best friends, Sarah, put it, ‘If you work really hard to get into long distance running shape, why wouldn’t you just stay there?’ So that’s exactly what I did!

Until I had knee surgeries (not related to running; I have Osteochondritis Dissecans in both knees – see Osteochondritis Dissecans posts here), I always had a race training plan pinned up at my office desk and dutifully crossed off my mileage as I finished my runs.

Alex moved to Denver just before my knee surgeries and after I’d recovered, I wanted to spend my weekends playing in the mountains with my soon-to-be husband, not using all of my free time to run long miles. So running slid to the back burner while all things mountains jumped squarely to the front. But now? No mountains and no husband with free time. And I’m in a new city so what better way to learn how to get around than by running it!

Getting Back Into It: Running //

So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m running around my neighborhood. I’m running at the parks. I’m running with the local running store run club. I’ve signed up for races (ran a 5k in September) and am building training plans. And it feels really, really good!

For the first time in, ohh 18 months?, I charged up my ancient Garmin watch and ran. I signed up for a Thanksgiving Day 10k so got out for a timed 4 mile run to get a gauge on my speed as well as fatigue ahead of the race.


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I surprised myself by my pace (not super speedy but speedier than I’d expected) and also how not tired I felt afterward. #Winning

And last night’s run club was a 4 mile loop that 2 months ago would have terrified me – running with speedy friends for 4 miles? ACK! But last night, I kept up and was even able to be conversational with my friends. #DoubleWinning!

In this new chapter of my life, there are a lot of things I still miss from ‘my old life’ but this is one aspect I really love and appreciate. After years of saying, ‘I really want to make time to run but I’m just so busy!’ or signing up for races as incentive to train – but then not training and not running the race – I’m happy to be in a time and place where I’m able to prioritize my fitness and running again. I forgot exactly how therapeutic a long run can be!

Watching a Bengals Game in Steelers Country

This past week, the Graduate School Association at Carnegie Mellon held a lottery for Steelers tickets at a discounted price. ‘Go to a Steelers Game (while not revealing we’re not rooting for the Steelers)’ has been on our Pittsburgh Must Do list from the moment we knew were moving so no question we added our names. And icing on the cake was these were tickets to the Bengals/Steelers game!

Alex and I were bummed to not be picked in the lottery but on Thursday, he got an email that there were some unclaimed tickets still available and that interested students could come to the office at 1 p.m. for a first-come-first-serve arrangement.

Luckily for Alex, it’s his break week between classes and was already on campus so he hustled over to the office and snagged us a pair of heavily discounted tickets to watch the undefeated Bengals play the Steelers at Heinz field!

Bengals Fans at Steelers Game //

From Shadyside where we live, we took the bus downtown ($2.50 for a 1 way fare, free for students with ID!) and then the free subway to Heinz Field. Alex knew a couple of other classmates going to the game and we met up with a couple at the Stage AE Tailgate party.

This band named Velveeta (yum!) played a bunch of cover songs and I giggled when they broke this one out. Piano Man at a tailgate? We drank cheap beer while chatting with our friends in the hour or so before the game started.

Now, side note: I was a little bit terrified of wearing my Bengals jersey to a Steelers home game. Pittsburgh is CRAZY about the Steelers and I was not too interested in getting heckled because, well, there are thousands of them and only 2 of us Petres. But I (wo)manned up and wore my jersey and Bengal style Toms out the door. On our way downtown, we did get yelled out by drives who slowed down their car, rolled down their window and thought it would be effective to BOOOOOO us but outside of this, I was relieved to find out that Steelers fans pretty much left us alone.

Because Steelers football is pretty much a religion here in Pittsburgh, everyone wears Steelers gear like I’ve never seen. I’ve been to NFL games in other cities and was able to find people who were still wearing everyday/casual clothes. Not at Heinz Field. Every single person had on Steelers garb – jerseys, knitted Steelers sweaters, scarves, hats, tshirts, zip up hoodies, necklaces and, of course, the Terrible Towel. Alex and I were so obviously out of place it was hilarious! There were are few other Bengals fans clustered throughout and we all ‘WHODEY’d’ each other in solidarity as we passed one another.

The game itself was not very exciting – both teams were playing pretty conservatively and the game was in single digits for much of the time. Our seats were a few rows from the top but pretty good for seeing the whole field and had a nice view of the river behind the stadium.

Bengals Fans at Steelers Game //

Near the end of the game, the guy sitting behind me got a little aggressive while swinging his Terrible Towel in front of our faces (that’s right, he sat behind us but still managed to swing his towel in front of us) and actually smacked me in the face with it. Obviously, he was intentionally swinging the towel, but to his credit, he was apologetic and said he hadn’t meant to hit me.

When the Bengals won (#WHODEY!!!), Alex and I congratulated ourselves (because we did a lot to affect the outcome) and quietly made our way out of the stadium. Surprisingly, a number of Steeler fans congratulated us too! Of course there were some obnoxious Bengals fans as we exited but, on the whole, everyone was respectful of each other.

The Bengals are having a heck of a year (first 7-0 start EVER) and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to cross ‘Go to a Steelers game’ off our list with this game. It’s definitely a bit intimidating to show up in the opposing team’s jersey at Heinz Field but if I had the opportunity to watch the Bengals and Steelers battle it out again, I’d wear my jersey again.

And from what I heard around the tailgate and on the bus is that as long as you’re not wearing a Ravens jersey, Steelers fans shouldn’t give you too much crap. Noted!

Welcome to

Oh hey! Welcome to my new little space on the internet. Let’s chat about it.

You likely know me through my previous blog, I started lgsmash as a young 25 year old, facing major knee surgeries with not-yet-on-the-market options and not finding any real life stories about Osteochondritis Dessicans + the DeNovo NT procedure. I started lgsmash to chronicle that journey – from decision making, through surgery and recovery and then into my return to all things athletic and outdoors.

In recent years, lgsmash started to feel juvenile, like a favorite blanket you used to love and have since outgrown but aren’t quite ready to quit yet. When I started lgsmash on my 25th birthday, I was living in Denver on my own, dating a boy who lived across the country and was figuring out how adult life worked. Over the years, that blog saw me through 2 knee surgeries, an engagement and marriage to that long distance boyfriend, a name change, winter camping, mountaineering school, rock climbing and moving across the country. I’ve grown up a lot in that time and knew I wanted my online space to reflect this but I wasn’t quite ready to commit.

I purchased earlier this year and once I got my bearings in the midwest after our big move, I knew it was time in this season of transition and growth. So here we are!

I want to use this blog in a more focused, more visual way to share stories. Stories of outdoor and fitness adventures and gear I love as I navigate new terrain and trails. Of cooking and food because it turns out, with more time on my hands, I actually kind of like cooking food. And lastly, of life moments because we’re all on this crazy journey together, just trying to figure it out and sharing life stories connect us.

So I hope you’ll poke around and decide to stay. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you in this new space and not only sharing my stories, but hearing yours, too.

Cheers to new beginnings!