Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Marathon Training

Needless to say, I've been busy. I ran my first half marathon in May and this weekend I will be running the 2014 Chicago Marathon. Training in and of itself takes up a lot more time than I would have ever imagined. I needed to run 3 times during the week (at least a 40 min run each time) and a long run on the weekends. This run started at 6 miles and increased all the way to 20 miles. It was hard work but really, really worth it. Not only am I spending all this time training but I'm also running for an awesome charity called Back On My Feet. It's a great organization that gives hope to those struggling with homelessness. This organization teaches people how to run and in turn helps them establish skills that will translate into other areas of their life.

There are so many people to thank that have helped me in my marathon training. It has been a journey that I seriously wouldn't have been able to do without so many people.

First and foremost, my amazing and wonderful boyfriend, Loren. When we first met, I told him that I was training for a marathon. Instead of being a distraction, he has ran almost every single mile of my training with me. He has stood and cheered for me at every 8k and half marathon. He has nursed me through injuries and encouraged me to keep running when I felt I couldn't. He has kept me on track for a healthy runners diet (except for that one Oreo milkshake). He has cooked me meals when I was too tired to cook after a 12 mile run. He has helped me bake and deliver pastries for Rise and Run, my main method of fundraising. He ran the twenty mile race with me even though it was just hours before one his best friend's weddings. He held me while I fell asleep at 8pm every Sunday night. He comforted me when I cried about injuries and training stress and whatever thing was wrong at that moment. He has honestly been the biggest support. I am so lucky and blessed to have him.

Carmen has been my next biggest support. She's the one who had the big idea of training for a half marathon and the even bigger idea of training for the full marathon. She trained with me and when she was able to build a faster pace she still encouraged me daily to keep training. We ran the same races, she cooked amazing carbo loading meals, and was my partner in crime with Rise and Run. She was aways available to talk about training, express concern for my minor injuries, and even if she didn't know it, she inspired me to do my very best in every run. I am so lucky that I met her when I did. Her friendship and inspiring example has changed me and helped me through a pretty rough time in my life. I can't wait to see her at the finish line!

The next biggest support isn't really a person but a big group of people who have donated to my fundraiser and those who have asked me on a daily basis how my training is. These are people I work with, friends I haven't seen in years, family, and Facebook friends! While your questions and donations seem like small tokens of support, they help in more ways than you can imagine. Running, at any distance, is mostly mental. While my body may be ready, I need the support of all of you to help me push across that finish line at 26.2 miles.

This journey has been more time consuming and emotional than I could have ever imagined. I have found a new respect for anyone training for a marathon but most of all I have found a new respect for myself. While I have not lost a single pound in my training, I have gained more self esteem. I don't look at my dress size or the number on the scale. I look at how far my body can run and how healthy I feel.

There is not a feeling in the world that can make you feel more powerful than running. While I was on a 15 day trip in Europe, a man in Berlin assaulted me on a busy street at 11 in the morning. I felt so helpless and afraid. The incident really effected the way I saw myself and I didn't think I could spend the rest of my trip alone. The next day I woke up and did a 15 mile run along the Berlin Wall Trail. I felt strong and empowered. That man didn't take anything away from me. I had the strength to get up that morning and face a 15 mile run. Running doesn't only make you physically strong, it makes you realize your potential for all kinds of strength.

My training has let me see amazing parts of Chicago and so many other places around the world. At first, running a 15 mile run on vacation seemed like the worst thing to do while I was trying to relax but it ended up giving me one of the best vacation experiences of my life. While training is the hardest part, it was also the best part.

While I am nervous about Sunday, I can't wait until I am able to see that finish line and run past it. Thank you to all of those you have supported me in one way or another these past few months. See you at mile 26.2.

Also, there's 26 more hours until my fundraiser ends!! Get your donations in: http://www.active.com/donate/BoMF2014CHIMarathon/BrittanyCampbell

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy #@^%!#* Valentines Day...

Visit the site at thetinderellastory.com

So I hate Valentines Day, like every other single schmuck out there. So this year I'm striking back. I'm telling the world why I hate Valentine's Day. After 23 perpetual years of singleness, I decided to online date. I tried the big guys: match.com and eharmony.com. I even tried some new startups like coffemeetsbagel.com and howaboutwe.com.

After months of playing on these sites and not getting even as little as one message, a wink, or whatever, I decided to try the free sites. You know what I'm talking about. Okcupid.com. I went on one date and felt defeated. So in an act of desperation, and trying to get over someone who was no longer in my life, I got Tinder. You know what I'm talking about. The hot or not app.

If you're not familiar I'll give you a quick break down. You connect the app with your facebook account. It pulls some photos, your likes, and your friends. Then you are shown guys. Just their face and any friends or likes that you have in common on facebook. You swipe right if you like them and left if you don't. If you swipe right and they also swiped right on you then you are sent a message saying "It's a Match!" If you swipe right and they didn't, they will never know that you like them. If you swipe left, you never see them again and they never know you didn't swipe left.

Soo... since dating the old fashion way did't work and none of the other more "reputable" sites worked, I dove head first into the world of Tinder. I started an account on October 5, 2013. It's now Valentine's Day 2014. I've recreated a true account of my Tinder dating journey over the past 5 months. Every date or conversation referenced really happened. You can't make this stuff up folks. So go have fun. Play around and maybe you'll start to feel some of the pain I've managed to power through. And remember, if you ever need a good Tinder story, please reach out because I've got plenty.

Let's Find Love at thetinderellastory.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

DIY Christmas 2013. Part 4.

The past two posts I've been explaining what I've done for my DIY gifts this Christmas. I wanted to spend time on creating gifts this year instead of spending money on something meaningless.

My Brother and his new Wife:
My brother got married in November. I was designing his wedding invitations with his soon to be wife and she would pin things on Pinterest for my inspiration. She really liked these emblem looking things. So I designed one for them. It was the hero image on their website michaelandashley.us

So for Christmas I decided to take this emblem and create a stamp for them. I had an internship at a design agency about 2 years ago. They have a laser printer. So I contacted my boss there to see if I could use his machine to make a stamp for my brother and sister-in-law's Christmas present. Once the rubber was printed, I superglued the stamp to a wood back and wrapped it for them with a black stamp pad. Ashley's face on Christmas morning was so surprised. It was a pretty simple gift but a gift that meant a lot.

I find it extremely hard to get grandparents anything. Especially the grandmother on my dad's side. She really just loves her grandchildren and would like to see them more. Last year I gave my grandma a picture frame with pictures of me and her throughout the years. She started crying in the middle of the Christmas party. It was hard for me not to tear up either. 

This year my siblings and I got a photo album and each wrote a short letter to our grandmother sharing our favorite memory of her and telling her how much we love her. Unfortunately, we weren't able to snap of pictures of the book before we gave it to her. 

The book started out with a letter from out youngest sister. Then next page was the most recent picture of that sister. Then next pages were letters from the rest of us, youngest to oldest. My grandmother started reading them out loud. Once she got to my 17 year old sister's letter, her voice got really high and shaky. She started to cry. She couldn't read the rest of the letters out loud so she read them silently. We watched as she smiled and we could see her taking those walks down memory lane with us. When she read the last letter, she closed the book and looked at all of us with tears in her eyes. She pulled the book close to her chest as said "This is going in my casket." 

Classic Grandma. Always the comic relief.

DIY Christmas 2013. Part 3.

The past two posts I've been explaining what I've done for my DIY gifts this Christmas. I wanted to spend time on creating gifts this year instead of spending money on something meaningless.

So I have 3 teenage sisters. Three. I can remember my teenage years like they were yesterday but for some reason, it was really hard to find something to make for these sisters. Honestly, all they want is clothing. I thought about giving them cash and then taking them shopping and to lunch one day. Instead of making them something, I would just spend time with them. Once I got home I realized that these girls were social butterflies and while I had made room on my schedule to spend time with them I started to get the feeling that they wouldn't do the same. I didn't want to just give them cash. I wanted to do something meaningful. So I hoped onto Pinterest and typed in "DIY Teen Gifts." I combined a few different ideas and got some new ideas based on other projects people had posted to Pinterest.

For Sarah: Duck Tape Tablet Case
My 12 year old sister Sarah has a tablet that has no case so consequently it has cracks all over in the screen. And for some reason kids this age are completely obsessed with Duck Tape. This girl has a whole stash of Duck Tape. I don't get it but she likes that kind of stuff. So I took upon myself the task of creating a case out of Duck Tape. I didn't have a pattern or a tutorial. I just bought some Duck Tape, sat down at the table with Sarah's tablet and started experimenting with ways to make the case. I cut 2 equal sized pieces out of a cereal box. I covered those in duck tape. I connected the pieces with Duck Tape that would serve as the spine. I then put pieces of tape on each corner to hold the tablet in place. To be honest, it turned out a lot better than I thought it would have.

For Kaitlin: Painted Hoodie
My almost 14 year old sister Kaitlin is your typical 14 year old. She hangs out with friends, she's pretty good in school, she is amazing at gymnastics, and SnapChats me like 4 times a day. I wasn't sure what I could make her. I started paying attention to the kind of clothing she wears. She's a fan of the basics. You know, tees, tanks, jeans, leggings, hoodies... those kinds of things except her basics have really fun patterns on them. I'm not sure if this is cheating but I went a bought her a hoodie and created a design on it with fabric paint. This project is ridiculously straight forward.

For Kim: Sharpie Shoes
So my 17 year old sister Kim is a senior in high school and she likes to hang out with friend 24/7. And she talks a lot about long boarding. I saw something on Pinterest where someone took a Sharpie to a pear of white sneakers. Yeah, that sounded easy. So I bought a pair of white sneakers and hit the Sharpie aisle to find some awesome colors. I went home and started sketching ideas. Then I started on the shoes. Let me tell you, it took like an hour for each shoe. I thought it would have taken a lot longer. But it was worth it. These shoes are awesome and no one else will have them!!

DIY Christmas 2013 Part 2.

In the previous post I explained that I wanted to give DIY gifts this year for Christmas. I love giving gifts because I love the challenge of trying to find gifts that are meaningful.

This post talks about the present that I gave my mom. She works as a nurse on the over night shift. During the day she watches my 5 year old sister , works on sewing projects, and sells Tupperware. A few months ago she asked me to help create her business cards and a label to put on her catalogs. Since her first order of these I know she has ran out of stock so I decided to reorder her cards and labels.

In November I stayed at my parents' house for my brother's wedding. I noticed that my mom's Tupperware business was taking off and she had no storage for all her inventory. Her piano room, that is somewhat of a sanctuary for my mom, had suddenly been taken over by plastic casserole dishes and Tupperware branded boxes. If my mom needed anything for Christmas it was some place for her to conduct business.

My brother and I put our heads and money together to create a craft/hobby room for my mother. She loves to sew and is always working on new projects. This could also serve as a place to store her Tupperware inventory as well as her catalogs, invoices, business cards, and other business things. In our parent's basement there is an slightly unfinished, cluttered storage room. We knew that this would probably be the best place for us to create a place that is only designated for our mom and her hobbies. Here is what we started with:

My brother and I recruited some of our other siblings, including our extremely pregnant sister (pictured above) to help clean out and organize the room. We got rid of a few broken pieces of furniture, empty cardboard boxes, and put boxes that were storing items into another, slightly more organized storage room in the house. We then organized all the sewing scraps, sewing patterns, and Tupperware.

After the organization was complete we went shopping. We purchased a comfy chair, a colorful rug, Rubbermade storage drawer, industrial shelves, a small ironing board, a clothing rod, and a small table for our 5 year old sister to play at while my mom is working on projects.

It was hard trying to keep this project a secret from our mom. She knew something was going on in the basement but we told her that she couldn't go in that room because we were hiding her Christmas present in there. Knowing my mom, she totally peaked.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

DIY Christmas 2013. Part 1.

This year I decided to do a DIY Christmas, which means I've been extremely busy turning my apartment into Santa's workshop. Now, there are many reasons to do a DIY Christmas. One of the reasons being that it's relatively inexpensive. While I'm sure some people can make that happen, I've realized that this year's line up of homemade gifts has actually cost the same, if not more than gifts I have purchased in previous years. But I'm not doing a DIY Christmas to save some money. I'm doing a DIY Christmas because making something means more than buying a meaningless gift.

Here's how I look at it. In previous years, I hadn't really made a lot of money. I was in college or trying to land my first full time job. Cash was something I had very little of. So when I would save my money to buy people in my life presents, that was actually a sacrifice. Now, I'm not saying I'm made of money, but this is the first year I've had a full time salary job. My financial situation has made it easier for me to spend money. Therefore, buying gifs for loved ones isn't much of a sacrifice. Although my paychecks have gotten larger, the amount of free time I have has gotten smaller. Making gifts is time consuming and requires me to sacrifice my free time. I think that the ultimate way to show someone you care about them is to give them something you don't have a lot of.

I wanted to start blogging about all my projects weeks ago but seeing that these projects are Christmas gifts, I had to wait until the recipients unwrapped them before I could share. This week I was able to give the children of families I babysit their gifts, so,  here is part one of DIY Christmas 2013!

Fort in a Bag:

This year my roommate's cousin and her 3 kids moved to Chicago. They invite us over every Sunday for dinner. I babysit their kids every once and while. They've become almost like my Chicago family. So last week, we invited their family over for a Christmas party. We made Graham Cracker houses, drank eggnog and sparkling cider. Someone turned on the record player and we danced to ABBA for about an hour. They have three kids. Deputy (7), Lincoln (5), and Odin (3). I wanted to make them something that they could do as a family. Something that they could all share. These kids are little geniuses so I wanted to give them something that could spark their creativity.

So, I purchased a few full size flat sheets, clothes pins, suction-cup hooks, and glow sticks. I threw them all in a bag and sewed a label on it saying "Fort in a Bag." In order to make the sheets the ultimate fort building sheets, I sewed ribbons along the edges so the kids could tie the sheets together or tie them to furniture or hooks in their home. I also took a couple colored sharpies and drew patterns on the clothes pins in order to make the boring wood a bit more fun.

Lincoln and Odin making their first fort!


So I met Sarah and Natalie 5 years ago when I taught them swim lessons. I started babysitting for them and their family soon became my family. I've seen these girls change from toddlers to preteens. But one thing they've always loved doing, is baking. When ever I come over they have some baking project that they want to do with me. So this year I decided to give them their own baking kit. I made them each aprons and gave them their own kid sized spatula and wisk and a cake pop kit.

I basically made the pattern myself. I took some butcher paper and cut out the shape I needed. 

Sewed a pocket on the front and the ties around the neck and the waist.

Here are the girls modeling for me!

Well, those are the first 2 projects! Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sustainably Convenient

It's no secret to those who know me that I want to live in Europe. I've been trying to find ways to move there. I've been feeling frustrated with the amount of laws, taxes, and other rules that make moving there really hard. It's still one of my goals but I've decided to be a bit more patient and wait until I get a few years working in the industry.

In the mean time I have been thinking about why I want to move their so bad and not just stay in the states. I made a mental list of all the things Europe is better at than the US.

  • Tougher rules on chemicals in food
  • People rely more on bikes, public transit, and walking instead of cars
  • There is a greater appreciation for history, architecture, and art
  • Smaller living spaces = fewer material possessions
  • Easy access to travel
  • Exposure to so many different languages and cultures
After a little bit of self reflection, I realized that all of these things can happen in the United States. It's still a little frustrating because these things aren't recognized as the norm. Our country doesn't have a wide population living this way because we have established habits that are convenient. We all acknowledge that driving is bad for our environment. We all know that our foods have incredibly high amounts of hormones. But this is the way we've been living for so long.

Right after World War II, Americans started getting accustom to this easy, care free life style. For the first time families had washing machines, dryers, dish washers, cars and televisions. Drive-Ins started the fast food craze that lead to quick meals, disposable food containers, and less than nutritious food options.

When our country started recognizing problems like obesity, ocean garbage patches and global warming, experts came out and told us that we needed to exercise, recycle and stop driving our cars. Instead of stopping our bad habits, we just pat each other on the back when we do something good. There have been talks of punishing people for driving, smoking, not recycling. This is called the annoyance tax. I think this is a phenomenal idea. If you do something that is bothersome and has a negative effect on those around you, you should have to pay for it.

But I think the reason people aren't changing their habits is because this country has made it very easy to make up excuses. Let's reference my list of why I love Europe and how Americans are making up excuses as to why we can't do these things.

  • Tougher rules on chemicals in food
    • Chemicals make foods cheaper to produce therefore more affordable
  • People rely more on bikes, public transit, and walking instead of cars
    • Unless you live in a metro city, there is very little public transit. Many small American cities are so spread out that it would take an unbarable amount of time to trek on foot or bike. Cars are also good for groceries, chauffering kids, etc.
  • There is a greater appreciation for history, architecture, and art
    • America is very young. A majority of buildings in Europe are older than our country. However, Americans are very proud about their film and music industry. Our history is so short compared to other histories of the world.
  • Smaller living spaces = fewer material possessions
    • But we have all this space! We also live in a culture that always wants more.
  • Easy access to travel
    • America is huge. A majority of our states are larger than most countries in Europe. Airfare is extremely expensive compared to Europe. I bought a one-way flight from Berlin to Paris for $40. From Chicago to NYC it would be about $100. And they are about the same distance. Our national train system is inefficient and more expensive than flying.
  • Exposure to so many different languages and cultures
    • While we may be the melting pot, we shun those who are different. We aren't very accepting of other cultures. People believe that if you come to America you should become American. 

Last year I decided that I don't have to live the habits of everyone else. I can try to live sustainably in Chicago. I've always thought about being more conscious about the way I live but have always used the above excuses. I started changing a few things here and there. At first, I thought it would be really hard but I knew that it would eventually become a habit. But what I found was that not only did these new ideas become habits, these ideas made it easier to live. Here are a few examples:

Commute by bike
At first I thought the cold/hot weather made my commutes unbearable. I couldn't get groceries on my way home from work. But then I started fixing these problems. I wore more appropriate clothing for the weather. I got a basket on my bike. Then biking became way more convenient than taking the bus. I cut my commute from 30 minutes to 7 minutes!!! I no longer had to wait forever for a crowded bus. I wasn't getting annoyed by the other sardines that had to squish onto the subway. I started loosing weight. I was getting into better shape. I became a part of the bikers club at work and got to make new friends. I zoom past all the traffic during rush hour. I get to be outside riding a bike. It's seriously one of the most therapeutic experiences.

Reusable Grocery Bags
It took me a while to hop onto this trend. It's just so much more convenient to use the plastic bags at the store instead of hauling fabric bags everywhere. But then I started to realized that plastic bags were actually the worst! Remember, I don't have a car. I have to walk or use public transit. So if I bought a few things at the store, I'd have to shove them into as few bags as possible and carry the heavy bags home. The bags tear into your poor fingers or the bags can even rip. Fabric bags don't do any of this. They aren't as rough on the hands and they can even sit on your shoulder. In addition, they can fit twice as much stuff as a plastic bag can.

Eating Local 
I am fortunate enough to live in an amazing city that have so many local restaurants. I use to be that person who would hit up McDonalds or other cheap fast food places. Yes, local restaurants are a bit more expensive but they are so much better for you and the local economy. They bring character to your neighborhood and they are usually ran by a family that relies on that business for income. They typically use better, healthier ingredients than Chili's or TGIF. You also get better customer service because these businesses rely on repeat customers. They are also real people who just want to serve great food to real people.

Less is More
In my last post you can read about the weekend I went crazy and purged my house of everything I don't use anymore. Not only did I get rid of things I don't need but I made a commitment to not buy things I don't need. It's also made me think about the gifts I give to people. Should I really get them that humorous gag gift that costs like $40? Or would it be more beneficial to take my friend out to dinner. It's that time of year again where we start making Christmas wish lists. I was talking with a friend at work and we were discussing how Christmas wish lists are terrible in your twenties. If you want something, you go get it. If it's something you can't afford or don't want to spend that much money on, we don't feel right asking our parents or loved ones for it. So instead every year we get gifts that end up cluttering our house like the newest scent collection from Bath and Body Works, a new tie and cuff links that we will never wear, some gadget that was from the "as seen on TV" aisle.

It's tradition in my house to draw names of family members and get them a gift. Last year, my mom decided that we all had enough presents and that we should just stop this tradition. Instead we put the money into buying presents for a family who needed it. Not only did we make some young kids very happy but we also made ourselves feel the Christmas spirit.

These are just a few examples of how I'm trying to live more sustainably. Living sustainably has always been seen as an inconvenience but I'm learning that changing our habits can not only make life more convenient but it can preserve our world and it's resources.