There are few things I love more than when my 15-minute commute turns into 50 minutes due to road work on every possible route that Google Maps sends me on, PLUS lots of super cool traffic. That is absolutely the highlight of my week and one that I will cherish for many years to come. My grandkids will be so jealous when they hear my awesome stories. 50 minutes is enough time for me to drive from home to work, then again from work to home, then from home to work a second, glorious time. But instead of going back and forth like that this morning, I instead, like a genius, chose to spend the *entire* blissfully sweet time headed in just one direction – to the office. Taking my sweet time is the way to go, yo. I just love being able to smell the fresh tar and look at all the beautiful orange autumn cones spread out evenly along the road. My favorite part is when the car in front of me decides they want to travel 10 miles under the speed limit! That’s so fun!!! I try not to squeal like I’m on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but I really really want to! It’s like I’m in Disneyland. The happiest place on earth is no longer Disneyland….it’s the morning commute from the North Valleys! HOLLA.
But wait… fall is here and winter is next? Score! You know what that means….even LONGER commute times!!! Oh buddy, I need to rein my excitement in. Once the roads are all covered with ice and snow, it will be so much FUNNER to do my daily commute. Big Thunder will turn into Matterhorn! Maybe I’ll see a Yeti on my drive in every day! I sure hope so. I also hope that people drive much slower and that more and more people join the roads for no reason, other than so they can drive on the thrilling ice rink! I also hope that they’re bad drivers so we can play bumper cars! Disneyland doesn’t have a bumper car ride, so I can get my fix this way. Dang, I really wish I worked Fridays too. I really am missing out only doing this drive 4 days a week. Maybe I’ll spend my weekends doing this too. If you invite me out and I say I’m busy, I really mean that I’m driving back and forth all day from Stead to downtown. I have room in my car for 4 more if you’d like to join me every day, but I am selling tickets for $100 apiece. I have to profit from this somehow.
This is not a post about Reno or exploring. This is a really personal post that's been a long time coming but one that I hope you can benefit from.
May 1, 2004 started out like an average Saturday for me. I was 18 years old at the time, and struggling to find my way as an adult. A month earlier, I began auxiliary pioneering with the goal to begin as a regular pioneer in September 2004. The previous fall, I had started taking business classes at the local community college in an attempt to prepare for some sort of career. I had no clue what I wanted to do, only that I wanted to work a normal 9-5 office job. At this time, I was almost a year out of high school and not currently employed anywhere. It was a time of weird transition and not really knowing how to function as a brand-new adult out in the world. I hated the small town I lived in and had big dreams of moving to the beach in California and marrying the gorgeous man of my dreams in a beach wedding and having 4 babies, all by the age of 30.
Instead, I was a shy, semi-awkward teenadult with lots of fears and insecurities. I lived at home with my parents and 11-year-old sister. This particular Saturday, I was at home with my dad and sister. My mom was out with friends in Portland. I was upstairs in my room and I remember feeling bored, unmotivated and just…lost. I was chewing a big wad of bubble gum. Then I swallowed part of my gum, either by accident or on purpose, I can’t remember. But I immediately felt a funny feeling in my throat like something was stuck there. I panicked.
(Here I must digress…I’ve always been terrified of choking sensations. When I was a kid, I stuffed a bunch of grapes in my mouth on a car ride and quietly started choking to death on them. I was discovered by my parents as my lips were turning purple. They quickly pulled the car over and Dad took me out, flipped me upside down and beat on my back until the grapes came tumbling out. I don’t remember this incident thankfully, but I’m sure it burned itself into my little psyche.
Because of this, as I grew up, I always ate really slowly and always had to have water or something to drink when I ate, to help wash the food down smoothly. I was also always afraid of things like getting kidnapped or home invasions, which I suppose are normal fears, but I was hyper-aware of those possibilities and always erred on the side of caution in my everyday life. One vivid memory I do have of my otherwise happy childhood was nightly asking my parents as they put me to bed, “Is anything going to happen to me tonight?” and them always reassuring me that I was going to be okay. My heart breaks for the little girl who was genuinely scared that her happy-go-lucky, peaceful little world could be destroyed.)
Anyway, I soon realized I wasn’t choking but that instead I had a weird sort of sensation now in my throat, kind of like an uncomfortable lump that wouldn’t go away. I let the scary feelings stew and escalate into finally what could be considered a prolonged panic attack. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t sure if it was really serious or not. That night, I made my mom drive me to the emergency room of the hospital which was only a mile and a half away from our house. We sat in the parking lot for a while. In case something bad really did happen to me, I felt safe here knowing that medical help was right at my fingertips. I can’t recall if we went into the waiting room or not, but it’s possible that we did. I had never felt so weird or scared in my entire life. I desperately did not want to die but felt like that was now a real possibility since I had never had such feelings of dread before. This prolonged anxiety continued for the next few days and then lasted the entire summer. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t wake up concerned about my throat and the lump that seemed to be there, never subsiding. I thought at one point that perhaps I had throat cancer. I remember pacing around our large backyard in anxious circles, unable to calm down and just wanting to be outside in fresh air.
That summer was horrible. I was afraid to go anywhere or do anything because panic was always present with me. I was frightened daily by my chronic physical symptoms. My biggest fear was that whatever throat sensation I had was going to suddenly morph into a tight, closed-off throat which would deprive me of air. I spent most of the summer at home, suffering through these insanely scary feelings. What I thought would last a day or two turned into a horrible burden that I carried around everywhere. Then sometime near the end of summer, it slowly subsided. I found that when I was distracted from myself, that my fear and panic subsided as well, and sometimes I would catch myself realizing that my throat was no longer tight or had a lump, but it felt completely normal. But anxiety, like a vicious parasite, needs a host. So it just morphed into different symptoms. Soon, the throat symptoms were replaced by a tightness in my chest and a feeling like I couldn’t get enough air. (Conveniently, my throat now felt completely normal all the time). These new chest symptoms lasted for a few months as well, and seemed to also lessen when I was distracted or otherwise busy. The scary physical sensations eventually began to subside, but the feelings and emotions they created became my new normal. I woke up every single day with anxiety being the first thing on my mind. Hoping and praying that I could make it through the day without a panic attack. Hoping and praying that my body would be nice to me and not scare me with a tight throat, shortness of breath, or tight chest. Some days were good, and others were very, very bad.
Meanwhile, September came around and I began regular pioneering as planned, although not with the circumstances I had planned. It really helped that I was distracted and busy in the ministry. Then in October, I got a job at Pier 1 Imports which reaffirmed how much I loved candles, throw pillows, and home furnishings. It also reaffirmed that I hated working retail and the schedule of nights and weekends that inevitably came with it. But I got to shop while I worked and envision the kind of environment I wanted to create in my own home. I spent most of my paychecks on decorating my room. It was absolutely perfect and looked like something out of a Pier 1 catalog. I was so proud!
In October 2005, I started paralegal school and for the next 4 ½ years or so, my anxiety took a back burner to the rest of my life. It rarely surfaced and I was feeling pretty good. I had a direction in life, I was young, thin, beautiful and smart, and felt like I had a pretty good life. I met Blake in 2008, married him 8 months later, and enjoyed the happy new direction my life was taking. But all too soon, anxiety found me again, and this time it was much worse.
This time I became agoraphobic, afraid to leave the house because that’s when I would have panic attacks – especially when riding in cars. Previously, I had loved to drive. Road trips were fun, and me and my cute silver Jetta went all over the place. I happily drove 2 hours each way to visit Blake almost every weekend while we dated. At the time, I also had a job which was a 45 minute commute from my house. So I drove a LOT.
And then one day, riding in cars and driving was no longer tolerable to me. I just wanted to stay at home where I felt relaxed and safe. I had to quit pioneering because I just couldn’t stand to be in a car longer than was absolutely necessary. Where we lived at the time, much of our territory was rural, which meant spending most service days…yep, you guessed it – IN THE CAR. When my grandpa passed away in California in August 2010, there was no way I could handle the drive down for the memorial, so I had to fly down. Blake and I had the goal of serving at Bethel, which now was the furthest thing from my mind. We were still young newlyweds, and this definitely had not been something either of us had foreseen happening. I could barely function, and now I was crushing my husband’s goals as well. I got so down on myself. Bethel surely didn’t want an anxiety-ridden nut, and I didn’t want to live there anymore either. It took everything I had just to make it through each day without a panic attack. This time I went on medicine for my anxiety, which seemed to help. But I no longer enjoyed car rides, which severely limited my life and made it difficult to function like a “normal” person.
Flash forward to July 2014. My parents and sister were already living here in Reno and Blake and I were preparing to move down as well. But there was no way I could handle that 11 hour drive by myself in one of our cars while Blake drove the moving van which towed our second car. So my dear mom had to fly to Oregon to help me make the drive down, which she did splendidly. She is also experienced with anxiety, so it helped having her around.
After we moved to Reno, my life started blossoming so much more. This was finally home for us. We started meeting so many new people and making lots of new friends. We also LOVED that the sun shines 300+ days a year here! I had never suffered from seasonal depression in Oregon, but I would definitely call it some sort of seasonal “blues” that I had. We lived in a part of the state where it was often overcast and rainy, and this just made me kind of…blahhhh.
Anyway, soon after moving to Reno, I was feeling so good that I decided to ask my doctor about weaning myself off of my anxiety medicine. I also received therapy for my anxiety, which helped me with controlling my thoughts. I thought I had put anxiety behind me for good. But it turns out that the medicine I was weaning off of can have some intense withdrawal symptoms, which I definitely got, when my anxiety came back with a vengeance one summer day in June 2017 on the way home from a convention in Sacramento. Blake and I were driving back with my family, and that was one of the longest rides of my life. I could not calm down no matter what I did. I was so scared and upset that I barely ate for the next week. I lost 15 lbs in a matter of days.
This picture of my sister and I was taken somewhere near Truckee on the way home from that convention. You can't tell by my smile, but I am having the mother of all panic attacks in this picture.
Finally, I was able to get back on a different medicine, which has been working pretty well for me. For the most part, I know my triggers and am able to work with them to be a functioning, usually happy adult. I still struggle with anxiety at times, and I don’t know if I will ever really enjoy long car rides again, but that is fine. I love flying and I feel my happiest when I’m at Disneyland, and fortunately there is a nice JetBlue Reno to Long Beach flight that I’m a regular on.
Anxiety does not exist when I am in Disneyland or its vicinity - in this case, a shuttle on the way to Disneyland!
In January 2018, when I heard my dad’s doctor diagnose him with cancer and tell him that he was going to die, I had to step outside the room and freak out. My anxiety came back full force. I was prepared to have it back as a daily horror. But the very next day, I woke up with a calmness I have never since experienced. It didn’t take long for me to feel the healing power of prayer and realize how drawing closer to my heavenly Father would help me cope. That was an amazing learning experience in itself and discussed in more detail in one of my first posts on this blog.
I wanted to share this deeply personal experience with the hope that it can help you or someone you love. The crazy feelings you may have are actually not crazy, and they are real. But you can overcome them and not let anxiety hold you back from living. There is a light at the end of the anxiety tunnel, and it is not always an oncoming train. What has helped me keep anxiety at bay is keeping a busy schedule so I don’t have time to sit and reflect and let my thoughts carry me away to a dark and scary place. Also avoiding large amounts of caffeine and getting regular cardio exercise to purposely get myself out of breath is a good thing. When shortness of breath becomes something that is beneficial to you, and not an imminent sign of death, it’s a good thing. And endorphins always help. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t kill – oh wait….nevermind.
But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows when you bounce back from something severe like panic attacks and anxiety. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I train myself, I default to think the worst and you know what, I’m prepared for it! Whatever life throws at me (which has been some scary stuff), I have the tools I need to not only cope but thrive. You CAN win over anxiety – and this doesn’t mean that it goes away forever. It just means that when it comes around, it’s like a passing cloud overhead…you may see it, notice it, but then you just continue going about your day, forgetting it’s there. And soon it passes.
Arario means “great heavenly energy”. I like that it’s across the street from Amari, which is Italian for “bitters” and also a super cute name for a girl! So if I ever ask you, “Hey wanna go to A-mario?” I’ll assume you want to grab drinks at Amari, dinner at Arario and then go back to my house for some Mario on the original Nintendo. I’m sorry that was a horrible attempt at humor. Back to what I do best…write…
Arario is a new Korean fusion restaurant in Midtown on what is quickly becoming The Best Street in Reno (and also currently closed to traffic, because of COURSE you would, Reno.) This section of Cheney Street has some of the best places in town for food/drinks: Death and Taxes, Amari, Midtown Eats, Noble Pie - with Arario upstairs.
I’m a recovering picky eater and am proud to say I tried a LOT of new things at Arario:
2. Kelp salad noodles (actually not too bad) - in the far left bowl in the picture above.
3. Bibimbop (what I ordered)
4. Pork Bulgogi (my favorite!)
5. Kimchi fries (minus the Kimchi, not bad)
I ordered the Hot Pot Bibimbop. You can get this with either beef or seafood. They also give you some sauce on the side. This is what it looks like before…
There’s rice hiding on the bottom. Then you pour the sauce and mix it all up. As you do, it sizzles! It looks much better when everything is all mixed together.
This was good, but my favorite was definitely the pork bulgogi bowl. It’s thinly sliced and marinated in something definitely heavenly! It has just a bit of spice but nothing overpowering. It also comes with steamed rice on the side. You’ll also have to imagine what it looks like because I didn’t take a picture.
And here I will sidebar to mention how difficult it can be to do what I do. I go to new places and try new things and have new experiences but I have to document it all if I want to write a post about it. So I end up (usually) taking lots of pictures and I probably come across as overeager and like I just discovered the concept of picture-taking and I’m really excited to be living and breathing and seeing new things…and you know what? I AM. I apologize for nothing.
(Picture of the sad, rain-soaked balcony.)
I do try and be discreet, though, and not get strangers in my pictures if I can avoid it. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable but I DO want to show you, my loyal readers, what’s out there!
Beautiful Truckee River....
Food Truck Fridays in Reno - through September 27th! From 4-9 pm, head down to Idlewild Park with your lawn chairs and a blanket and enjoy food from a bunch of different food trucks. RGJ says they have 65 different rotating vendors!
Tonight I came down here not knowing what I wanted. (A surprise to nobody who knows me) .... tacos sounded great but so did Korean BBQ! There was every cuisine imaginable ... I passed a taco place and thought “yes” and then passed an Indian food place and thought “yaaaas” and then just felt more confused and conflicted.
And then the crowds parted and a beam of light shone down from heaven on this trailer and when I saw its name I just knew it was “the one”....
Yes. So much yes. Known for their wings but unfortunately tonight they were out of wings due to technical difficulties heh, heh. So I went with the next best thing - pulled pork! And it did not disappoint... soo yummy.
Totally recommend getting here early because when we arrived at 6:45ish it was BRUTAL! Tons of traffic and no free spots to be found. We circled for a while but then my expert parallel parking skills came in handy and we snagged a fresh spot. Camping chairs slung over our shoulders, we wandered in and snagged a nice spot by the lake to chow down.
There’s always something new to try here and always someone you know that you’ll run into down here! (Hi Carol!!) Love my big little city. Can’t wait to come back more this summer. For more info, check them out on Instagram at @FoodTruckFridayReno or here: https://www.rgj.com/story/life/food/2019/05/14/food-truck-friday-reno-eighth-year-may-17-new-food-trucks-restaurants-downtown/1183431001/
Dramatic much? You be the judge…
On my lunch break today I was headed to DSW to use my $10 off coupon and was going 70 mph down the 395 south. I was in one of the right lanes and put on my turn signal to move over into one of the left lanes. In the split second of time it took me to turn my head to check my blind spot, the SUV in front of me slammed on their brakes. I swerved to avoid slamming into the back of them, and lost control of my car. My car shook violently and swayed from side to side and I waited to flip. I had the steering wheel in a death grip as I spun all over the lanes at a 45 degree angle, almost sideways. I don’t know how I didn’t hit someone.
In moments like these you hear about people’s life flashing before their eyes. No such thing happened to me. All I had time to do was gasp – no screaming, no words, nothing. It was a crazy 4-5 seconds where I waited to flip or be T-boned by an oncoming car. Things flew around in my car. I waited for the impact and hoped I wouldn't feel anything....
And then, just like that, I regained control of the car and steered it off the highway to the nearest exit (airport) and calmed down in the cell phone waiting lot. My hands were shaking for a good 5 minutes after.
And then I got right back on the highway (being way more cautious this time) and made it down to DSW to find some cute shoes. I didn’t end up buying any, but I was grateful for the fact that I still had feet to buy shoes for. My car should have flipped. Or someone should have slammed into me. Or both at the same time. Today was absolutely the closest I’ve ever come to dying and all I can say is I won’t take that for granted any more. It’s a scary realization when you think “this is how it all ends”. In these type of situations, I’m thankful I get another shot, and my heart goes out to all the ones who don't.
Be so very careful out there my friends.
"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" - James 4:14
I love it when houses are converted into businesses. Homage has 3 separate rooms inside for dining..
There's lots more seating outside on the front porch and on the wraparound patio.
I sat on the front porch until a breeze kicked up and forced me indoors. (Thanks Northern Nevada in late May!) When I come to coffee shops, I don't mind a little noise but I can't stand when they're over-loud and over-noisy. As you can see from the delightful lack of people in these pictures, I pretty much had the place to myself. I snagged a corner nook and settled in.
My chai was delicious, cinnamon-y and perfect. I love coffee shops for reading, people watching, catching up on my podcasts, writing and meditating in peace and quiet over a hot cuppa. Homage is a wonderful place to do all the above...
(I lied, there is a human in the corner there. No problem.) They sell a variety of croissants and other desserts and pastries like crème brûlée and cheesecake. They also offer lunch from 11-2
The drink menu is extensive, offering coffees, teas and smoothies. They also sell products up front, like these lovely jams and sauces..
It took a lot of willpower to resist buying that there Bourbon & Butter dessert sauce. Instead, I picked up this strawberry jam made in Lake Oswego, Oregon (I used to work in Lake O back in the day!)
Oh gosh, and you have to check out that bathroom!
Cute, right?! You know how I love me a fancy restroom. When someone bothers to pay attention to detail even there, they've definitely impressed me. (What does that say about me? Eh, who cares!)
Just a short drive from my office, so it's perfect for meeting a friend for a spontaneous coffee date! See ya there ;)
A beautiful historic building constructed in 1910, this used to be the headquarters for the Nevada/California/Oregon railway. If it wasn’t such a cool gastropub, I'd want to live here.
Happy hour is daily 3-6 and on weekends there’s brunch. There’s something called a “manmosa” (thanks to my blogger friend Jeanna for the tip) served in a liter mug! With a name like that it’ll simultaneously make my husband more likely to order it and me stupidly more self-conscious about ordering it. A dainty mimosa I can get down with but a “manmosa”.... might have to call in some backup to help me finish it, ha!
This is the electric velvet: strawberry-basil infused aged corn whiskey as its base and a nice egg white topping. It was refreshing and citrusy.
I totally judge a brewery by how well they can cook a burger and sweet potato fries. Excellent. I know vegetables help you live longer, but who really goes to a brew pub and orders a salad? Yeah not me. (Totally not judging if you do —rock on!)
Our group ate upstairs, but next time I'd like to hang out down here....
I really love the vibe of this place and unlike some other local places I’ve been to recently which seem to be filled with college age kids, this is more my scene. Good lord, how old does that sound. But it’s true, and I’m comfortable admitting that the places catering more to the younger crowd are not really my favorite hangouts. I feel like I fit in here.... this chick is aging like a fine wine I suppose... enjoying being a 30something and loving the skin I’m in.
I am sort of confused why there’s a bowl of rocks in the bathroom though. But.... I do so love when attention is paid to the details of small things like bathroom décor. So well done.
And can someone tell me why alcohol health warnings are posted in bathrooms? Are we as a human race so ridiculously ignorant of the dangers of drinking while pregnant? If a pregnant woman sees this sign is she supposed to go “oops, maybe I shouldn’t have had all that beer” - and then go back into the stall and barf it up? This is what goes through my head on a Saturday night....
And on that note, happy long weekend!
A great lunch spot if you’re in Midtown, Michael’s Deli has everything - hot & cold sandwiches, salads, wraps, paninis, soups - their menu is teeming with so much variety it’s overwhelming!
This is an extremely popular lunch spot on Virginia Street, and it is almost always packed in here especially during the lunch rush. I can walk here from my office, which is nice too. There’s a back entrance as well, if you can’t find parking in front.
The walls are covered with sports memorabilia and it feels like a corner deli in the heart of New York.
One of my favorite items here is the chicken Caesar wrap . I can’t even begin to describe how delicious these homemade croutons are. This wrap is enormous, too. I usually eat barely half of it and then have leftovers or share with someone.
You can't tell from the picture, but each half is as big as my face.
This is the California melt - As a Californian it makes me proud that whenever you order something with California in the title, you can bet on it usually having avocado!! This is definitely made for 2 people. I can only eat half. (I totally ripped off those onions from my half - GROSS!)
Look at those perfect grill marks. Makes it taste even better!
Stop by to check out more of their great food or have them cater your next luncheon!
If you'll remember last month when I went to Old Granite Street Eatery for the yummiest pulled pork I've had in years - this time I went next door to their sister bar, Royce. And there lives the yummiest cheeseburger in Reno!
It seems like nothing fancy, just your average burger, but it is soooo tasty! It's just $9 (or $10 if you're normal like me and add bacon). It comes with chips that serve as the burger's ugly cousin - just there to keep said burger company but not to outshine it whatsoever. I like to keep things classy by pairing this with a $5 glass of the house red.
Royce is a small bar with some couches and tables and a fireplace.
There's a nice outdoor patio for warmer days soon ahead. "Soon" is open to your interpretation...
I really love the old-fashioned feel in here, especially the ceiling! I look up a LOT when I'm in here....it's just so gorgeous.
So much character. This place has a cozy vibe and fills up pretty quickly. On the wall above the fireplace is this lovely picture.
During happy hour, among other things, you can get select snacks 2 for $10 from Old Granite Street. The bartenders here are super chill and great. I definitely recommend you check out this neat little hideout with the bright red door! Located on Ridge Street just behind the Old Granite Street Eatery on Sierra.
It’s such a cute little café serving healthy and wholesome meals. Their mission: “We support people’s choice to eat healthy by creating a restaurant concept that works for every lifestyle” – awesome! They use locally-grown organic produce whenever possible.
This location (there’s a few others locally) is tucked away in an area of Midtown I don’t normally walk through (behind the Money Tree and the Wild Orchid – any coincidence those places are visited in consecutive order?!). At Great Full Gardens, you can rest assured that the critters you’re eating were all raised right and treated kindly, not injected with hormones and other horrible stuff. It’s at least comforting to know they probably led a nice life before they found their home on my plate…. (I’m by no means a vegetarian, btw).
I had the Fiesta Bowl which is massive (for me at least). I could’ve shared this salad with like 3 other people! It was incredibly filling too. I think I took a total of 5 bites before I packed it up in a go-box.
The fiesta bowl contains: spinach, cabbage, organic quinoa salad, organic black beans, carrots, roasted organic corn, cilantro, tortilla strips, salsa, and cilantro lime dressing which I got on the side and sprinkled on a bit. It’s also gluten free and vegan, neither of which things I am. But it was wholly delicious!
They offer all kinds of food here, including power bowls, sandwiches, soups, salads, tacos, liege waffles (MUST try), pizza, seafood and even burgers! It definitely goes to show that you can eat healthy and still have an amazing flavorful meal. It was very busy when I visited during my 12-1 lunch hour, but I was able to snag a barstool in the corner.
Also, check them out if you are participating in the Reno Vegan Chef Challenge! In the month of April, local restaurants have taken the challenge to serve healthy, filling, and tasty plant-based dishes that will satisfy all eaters, not just the vegans among us. Visit renoveganchefchallenge.com to vote for your favorites! There’s 27 places locally that are participating.
**My participation in the challenge amounted to snapping a picture of their featured dishes**. Do I still get a trophy??? Sorry – I had fiesta bowl on the brain and didn’t have room in my agenda for their agenda. But it all sounds terribly great!!!
Bonus – there’s a rewards program! Each dollar you spend earns you 1 point, and after 100 points you start getting rewards ($6 discount for every 100 points redeemed)