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remember how i’ve talked about how un-outdoorsy i am? well, that un-outdoorsy-ness extends to winter sports, like snowboarding and skiing. so you might find it a bit funny that i decided to accompany my friends on a ski trip upstate to hunter mountain over new year’s. and even funnier that this was my second year in a row participating in said ski trip.

here’s the thing: i love everything about ski trips, in theory. except, really, the skiing. i like the big comfy sweaters and the cozy nights spend snuggled up on the couch drinking spiced cider (this year, we spiked it with fireball. it was delicious!). i like the constantly crackling fireplace and the hottubs that fit ten people with no problems except some criss-crossed feet. i like beautiful scenic country roads, their pavement streaked with snow. i like rosy cheeks and drinking too much on new year’s and being on vacation, away from reality, in general.

truly, i like it all. except the skiing. so i don’t ski. but this year, i did go snow tubing, and let me tell you, that shit is F.U.N. i used to go tubing in the lake at my camp every summer, and while i was scared shitless of being dumped into the water while going 80 mph, there was nothing like gliding along the water at top speed. snow tubing is the same, except you’re going down a giant snowy hill instead of going across the top of the water. you spin around backwards and the wind whips around your face, and even though you’re freezing, you feel so freeleave it to me to prefer an activity that’s designed for children over one that’s designed for adults. Image

$500 worth of groceries for 4.5 days. EEK. 

so while my friends trekked up and down the mountain, i walked around the tiny town of tannersville, buying silly things like overpriced chocolate malt balls and maple sugar candy. i sat by the fireplace and plowed through allegiant, and generally, had a dandy time. one of my best friends, maddie, joined us this year, which was wonderful, and the entire trip went off without a single moment of drama (a record for our group of friends, as much as i hate to admit it).

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you can’t imagine how many takes it took to get a good picture out of the two of us

when i first saw our house online, i balked. i believe the wording i used was “it looks like the sort of house where SVU murders take place.” but i ate my words; after one night in my (admittedly uber creaky) bed, i was sold on our little log cabin (the upstairs, at least. the downstairs was not really my jam). just a hop, skip and a jump from the mountain, and closer to the town of tannersville than the one we’d stayed in before, the cabin was the perfect choice for our group, and i’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

all in all, it was a wonderful way to ring in the new year. 2014, here i come!

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Imagehave i mentioned that i’m not exactly the outdoorsy type? if i haven’t, now you know. this pin rings quite true to me. i’m not a fan of camping. i hate the scratchy feel of sleeping bags. i don’t enjoy a good hike. and yet, “hiking” (if you could even really call it that) was exactly what i found myself doing on my penultimate day in nicaragua. see, martha had mentioned that the view from the jesus christ statue that overlooks san juan del sur was out of this world. we couldn’t miss it. it had to be seen before i departed and flew back to new york. but the only way to get there was to walk up – and i mean up. 

up a series of ridiculously steep streets (my calves have never burned so intensely), and then up about 50-100 even steeper steps. when martha first mentioned the hike, i waved it off, and i’ll let you in on a little secret as to why it’s not just that i don’t like hiking, it’s that i’m afraid i can’t do it. afraid my body can’t handle it. afraid that i’m too overweight, too out of shape to conquer the heat and the hills. so when martha first mentioned the statue, but said it was ‘quite the hike,’ i said i’d think about it.

and then there we were, on my second to last day, trying to squeeze every bit of amazing out of our vacation, and she brought it up again. and this time, i couldn’t back out. so i told myself (and she reminded me) that we could take breaks if we needed to. we’d just walk slowly.

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so off we set, walking along the beach, over a miniature foot bridge, and into the residential streets beyond the bars and the hostels and the little shops in town. before long, those residential streets turned into steep as hell hills, and my legs began to burn. i felt sweat trickling down the small of my back, pooling in my sports bra, dripping down my hairline. i looked over, and both martha and sara were sweating too. that made me feel a bit better. i wasn’t the only one who thought it was practically sauna-like in the sunshine. every moment i felt like i needed to stop, i heard my soul cycle instructor’s voice in my head telling me, that moment when you feel like giving up? that’s not the end. that’s just the beginning. 

after about 45 minutes of walking, we were almost there. we stopped to take a picture by an insanely gorgeous view. and then we kept walking. soon i saw the steps – on such a steep incline that i had a moment of sudden paralysis (what if i fell off?!) – we were so close. at the end of those steps was the statue, and a view of san juan and all that surrounds it. Image$10 later and a GIANT downed water bottle later, we were there. and though my heart was pounding and my skin was sticky with perspiration, i didn’t feel sweaty. i didn’t feel out of shape. i didn’t feel anything but proud. because i had done it. i’d walked, then climbed, all the way from the edge of the beach in that image, to the giant statue that looked over it. little old out of shape, overweight me had done it.

Imageand as i stood there looking over the edge to the town below, i had a thought: maybe little old me wasn’t so out of shape anymore. maybe all those spinning classes have given my heart and my legs an edge. maybe i’m finally turning into a person who doesn’t have to turn things down for fear that she can’t keep up.  Image

on the walk down, i turned to martha, and i said,  i think i’m having a bit of an epiphany. i was so worried about doing this, so afraid i couldn’t do it. but i could. my body could. my body does so much for me. it can do so many things. it’s so strong, so powerful, so amazing. and yet all i do is complain about how it looks. 

it sounds silly, doesn’t it? ridiculous, even. but body acceptance, for me, is a huge thing. and i don’t think i’m there yet, but climbing that mini mountain was yet another step on my journey to acceptance. and that was a beautiful thing.

martha, in all her infinite wisdom, simply wrapped me in a big hug, and said, i’m so happy you’re having this moment.

and you know what i thought? that despite the fact that i was sweaty, and looked like an overheated piglet, so was i.

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i’ve talked a lot on this blog about my homebody nature – how i’d rather stay in than go out, how i crave and thrive on routine, how i prefer things to be planned out, so i know what to expect and when. i’m not, most would say, the most adventurous of ladies. in fact, that last sentence was the understatement of the century. adventure isn’t really my jam. routine, i get. routine, i know. but spontaneity scares the shit out of me. i’d love to be one of those chill, go with the flow girls. god, i wish i was. but i know i am not, and likely, will never be.

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my friend martha, though? she’s one of those girls through and through. she is one of the most open, adventurous, down ass chicks (really, that’s the only way to describe her) i have ever met in my entire life. she is spontaneity at its best, always up for a new challenge, a new place, a new food or person. she’s a free spirit, and i mean that as the ultimate compliment: she goes where her heart takes her, and for this, i admire her greatly.

most recently, her heart took her to san juan del sur, a beautiful little beach down on the southwest coast of nicaragua. see, martha got burnt out at her job as a nurse in boston. and unlike most of us, who would suck that unhappiness up until it ate us alive, she got out. and then she said to herself, what should i do next? what will make me happy? what will make me feel full? and a chance to do some health research in nicaragua came up. so she took it. and she leapt, eyes open, into the unknown.

pretty incredible, right? when she told me her plans, i too was feeling a bit burnt out at my job. i hadn’t had a real vacation in years, and i thought to myself, i should go to nicaragua and visit her. except her plans were up in the air, and i couldn’t book dates until the semi last minute, and i wouldn’t be able to stay with her, which would mean booking a hotel on my own, and traveling alone, and all of a sudden, it didn’t seem like such a great idea.

because it was scary, and new, and different. and adventurous.

and then i did it anyway. because it was all those things, and i needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. so i booked my ticket on the blind faith that even if i was traveling alone, and even if i was staying alone, martha would be there – and during the times that she wasn’t, i would be alone, and that would be a good thing. i would explore. i would practice my spanish. i would volunteer. i would just be.

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as it turned out, while i did stay alone for 2 nights, i spent another two in a beautiful house (see below) with martha and her dear friend sara, who is one of the most fabulous ladies i’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with.

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and then we spent another two nights in a fancy schmancy resort that was uber lux, but also uber filled with insects. but hey, i can’t balk at that view. who could?

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it was a week filled with some serious girl talk, some crazy dancing times, a lot of rum and cokes, and enough beach and pool time for me to a) come back looking “seriously relaxed” and “very tan” – two phrases that are never, ever, associated with me.

i have a good deal of stories to tell about my week in nica, but i’ll do you the favor of spreading those out a bit, so you’re not reading 9 million words at once. in the meantime, though, here are a few other pictures. i tell you, the sunsets there…i’ve never seen anything like them.

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