At The Top of A Mountain

My bubble town lies just north of Los Angeles, cut off from the rest of the city by rolling hills in every direction.  Some might say its a hidden gem, a town that enjoys it’s solitary spot away from the blazing lights of tinsel town.  Most days out of the year, my valley is a brown wasteland. Dry brush blankets the hills and temperatures reach a boiling 100 degrees during the Summer.  Yet, there is a time before spring settles in when greenery engulfs the valley and wildflowers dot the mountainside.  After our brief winter, March rolls around and the hills become plentiful like the greenest mountainsides of distant lands.  It’s the briefest of moments, lasting only weeks before the ground begins to dry out once more, but on my daily commute into the valley from LA I make sure to stop and look at the beauty the Earth unveils once a year.

At the top overlooking the Valley

At the top overlooking the Valley

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Forces of Nature.”

Brooklyn To Manhattan Beach: Grimaldi’s On the West Coast

In my family, it has become a tradition of sorts that every visit to New York must include a trip to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn. My aunt took me during my first visit to the city nearly 9 years ago.  I’ve been back 5 times since and it remains one of the highlights of any trip.

On our last visit, the owner told my boyfriend and I that they recently opened a location in El Segundo, California.  Naturally we were stoked to get home and try it out.  This weekend we finally made that dream a reality and travelled the short 30 minutes down the 405 to reminisce in our tantalizing memories. As I was sitting in the El Segundo location, it was still as delicious as I remember but I realized the atmosphere of the Brooklyn location is a reason to visit in itself.

gimmys

Grimaldi’s Brooklyn Location

Grimaldi's El Segundo Location

Grimaldi’s El Segundo Location

Interior Grimaldi's, El Segundo

Interior Grimaldi’s, El Segundo

The El Segundo location is beautiful but it has lost it’s New York attitude to the California way of life.  The building modern and virtually identical to the multitude of surrounding restaurant chains.  The interior is chic and modern, almost nothing like it’s Brooklyn counterpart.  Aside from pictures of New York scenes hung on the wall, you might forget Grimaldi’s authentic beginnings.

I’m still grateful that I don’t have to travel across the country to eat some delicious pizza but at the same time it makes me long for the beautiful brick building and Brooklyn architecture of the original.  Give me the line stretching around the block in rain or shine. Give me the bossy, slightly scary ancient bouncer who could probably make me cry with one look.  Take me back to Brooklyn!

White Pizza with Sausage and Black Olives

White Pizza with Sausage and Black Olives

Two is Always Better Than One

Two is Always Better Than One

Down On the West Coast

California has the best weather on the planet. Yes, I am a Cali native and growing up here gives me automatic bias but I have travelled to a few parts of the world and what that has taught me is: you can’t beat California for weather. Mostly sunny year around, mild winters and a place where you can try literally any outdoor sport you can think of.  I feel blessed to have been able to call this place home for the past 27 years but to be honest, I do day dream about leaving it all behind and hopping a train to the East Coast.

Mood lighting 🐳🌊 #beach #ocean #waves #socal #sunset #newyear #photography #coast #california

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After High School Graduation, my aunt took my cousins and I to New York City for the first time.  I instantly fell in love with the concrete jungle and every way it was different from laid back California.  It’s difficult to put into words the way New York engulfs you in the rapid buzz of the city.  The energy coming from it’s millions of inhabitants and tourists is palpable.  The vibration from the hustle of every day life was shocking and exhilarating; I couldn’t get enough of it. Los Angeles has it’s sky scrapers but I had never see so many reaching high to the heavens.  It was a stark contrast to the “Socal so chill” world I come from.  My love affair with  Manhattan had begun.

My favorite NYC trip ever #2010 #newyorkcitylife #canimovethereyet @_mattron @alyshia_young @fireguy2210

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Since then I have been back to NYC 4 times.  Once during every season so I might get a better understanding of life in the big city.  My favorite by far is Fall. My last trip this past November was special, it was the first time I had gone tot the city with my boyfriend.  He and I have been together for 3 years.  We often look at each other and say ” man I can’t believe I found another weirdo to love.”  He fell in love with the city just as I knew he would.  Watching him take in the grandeur of NYC was amazing because it made me feel like it was my first time again.

Washington Square Park in the fall #nyc #newyorkcity #vsco #citylove

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Now that we are back in good ol’ Cali, we find ourselves missing the city.  From time to time, we talk about moving there after he gets his BA and I get my MA.  We’ve come to the point where we agree that we must leave California, if only for a year or so to spread our wings and culture ourselves a bit more.  The city calls to part of me, the part that longs for excitement and adversity.  I can’t think of anything more adverse than a Cali girl trying to survive her first New York winter.  Bring it on!

If you say smile Ryan you get automatic eyes closed 👀 love you #santabarbara #mission #lovemybaby

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Life Cycles: Incorporating New Challenges Into My Stagnant Fitness Routine

Athleticism runs in my family.  My father spent his teenage years surfing, doing gymnastics and pretty much excelled at any sport he tried. Growing up, I remember my mother always taking pride in her health by working with personal trainers and trying out different sorts of fitness studios. Fitness and health are something they are passionate about to this day, 30 years into their marriage.  Most days, when my dad is home from work,  they head out together on a hike or for a jog at the community park.

parent1

Parents on a 5 mile local hike

I consider myself an active person.  I started going to the gym with my mother when I was 14 years old and haven’t stopped since.  In the17years I have been working out (at LA Fitness mostly), the gym has become a haven for me.  When I’m there it’s MY time.  No matter what is stressing me out in my personal, professional or financial life, when I step foot in the gym I can let it go… at least for an hour.

Recently, the past 3 years or so, I’ve noticed a shift in my body.  The desire to workout has slowly evaporated from my daily routine.  Instead, I excuse myself from exercise for this reason or that, always assuring myself I will go extra hard the next time I workout.  Of course, the next time may be up to a week later.  In this time I have also packed on about 5 pounds per year.  I’m not largely overweight or anything but I am no longer able to melt the pounds away with a few extra gym sessions.  I’m realizing that as I age I must focus more on what I eat and how I can fit a workout, however small, into my routine.

To compensate for my short attention span, I like to change up my workouts quite often.  I have fallen in love with the feeling of trying a new studio, class or outdoor activity so I don’t get discouraged or board and lose hope.  This weekend I thought I’d check out a new cycle studio in Valencia called Cycle Up.  If you haven’t tried a cycle studio before, do yourself a favor and seek out the nearest one and try a class!  Cycling is honestly one of the most challenging, rewarding and cathartic workouts I’ve ever done. Think an exercise class meets nightclub meets the Tour de France.  Cycle Up adds a twist on traditional cycle classes by incorporating a competitive element to its regimen.  Two giant screens at the front of the class show the student’s rank in real time and the amount of effort each person is putting into their ride. This was a great experience and showed me just how out of shape I have become.  I was hurting about half way through but challenged myself to push through.

cyckeup

Challenge yourself to try something out of your comfort zone this month and I promise only good can come from it!

cycle up 2

Always Awkward Introductions

Who am I?

Whoa, too deep for a Friday afternoon sitting behind my desk in a classroom at a High School close to where I grew up.  But that’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? Honestly, I didn’t start wondering what made Jade “Jade” until fairly recently.  I’m 27 years old and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m barely beginning to understand what really makes me happy and what direction I’m going to take the rest of my life.

Growing up, I always felt secure in the small suburban bubble my parents created for me and my siblings.  The Santa Clarita Valley, where I grew up,  is north of the San Fernando Valley and literally separated from the rest of Los Angeles county by dry, brush covered mountains.   The only way other Angelenos can pinpoint Santa Clarita is by our most distinguishable landmark, Six Flags Magic Mountain.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m having a conversation with someone about where I’m from and as soon as I mention Magic Mountain, I see the light bulb go off and they know exactly where I mean.

My sisters, brother and myself grew up children of the Fire Department.  Our father has been with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for over 25 years.  Being the child of a firefighter has both its privileges and its sacrifices.

Privilege: You get to tell people your father saves lives and you’re not exaggerating at all.

Sacrifice:  You only see your father half of the time.  He becomes almost larger than life in your eyes and as a result becomes hard to relate to.

Privilege: You want for nothing in life.  You’ve got a great home with a pool, take vacations and have all the toys you want.  The community welcomes and treats your family with respect and honor.  You often benefit from free-bees and special treatment.

Sacrifice:  Your mother is burdened with raising 4 children mostly on her own.  She becomes the one you rely on for stability though you can see the strain your father’s absence puts on their relationship.

baby pic dad   dad baby pic

Up until I left for college I was content to live in happy bubble land and I hardly thought about what I was going to do to after college.  It didn’t matter because the future was so far off I’d have it all figured out eventually, right?  Since my parents were always able to provide for me pretty well, when it came time to graduate college and find a job I realized with sheer panic that I had no idea what came next.  What was I supposed to do now that the first 20 years of my life as a student with a structured purpose were over?

That was when I was 22 years old and now at 27 I’ve been humbled enough to understand that the world is not as easy as it seemed from the swing set in my backyard.   I’m learning new things about myself and new ways to relate to the world.  I’m learning about causes that deserve support and action.  I’ve discovered (however slowly) how to be in a healthy relationship and how to treasure the people in my life.

I decided to write this blog about my growth from a sheltered, naïve young adult into a productive and satisfied member of society, if that is indeed possible remains to be seen.  I chose to call my blog “Poor Jade” because one day when I was little, I saw myself crying on a home movie.  I felt sorry for myself and I said, ” Poor Jade, look she’s crying.”  I’ve decided I’m not going to be a spectator in my life any longer.  I’m not going to let myself get bogged down by self pity or allow myself to complain that life is hard but instead I’m going to evaluate my experiences to, hopefully, learn how they transform me into the person I want to be.

Jade mom grad