Off & Running
a Blog of Life on the Run


back in time: 11/18/2012
I arrived in Madison, Wisconsin from Chicago after driving all Saturday afternoon arriving at dinnertime to a homemade meal and a room full of people. My friend, Amy Throndsen, moved back to Madison from DC about a year ago and invited me to come stay with her while in the area. My brain was slowly shutting off from all the driving but I managed to keep up with the conversation.

The next day we headed off on a long run around parts of the lake and through Madison, a beautiful small city. Seeing the skyline from the other side of the lake was magnificent and she told me about the buildings she knew, like the Frank Lloyd Wright Building. It sits on the water and reminds me of the Sydney Opera House in Australia. We chatted and ran and ended up doing over 7 miles without realizing it. Such a fun way to start the day. After cleaning up, we went off to find brunch. We ended up at an Irish pub with beer chasers and a loaded Bloody Mary. Afterward we hit Graze, a local farm-to-table restaurant for some heavenly fried cheese curds and beignets, and I got a chance to interview the manager for Live Your Brand Tour (coming soon).

While chatting with Amy about her work, I also got a chance to pick her brain about Melanie on the Run and her answers to my questions were compelling.

#6. How do you know who your friends are?

  • Moving back to Wisconsin was scary because I don't intend to leave and Madison is a small city. In a big city, you can change circles easily.
  • Friendships are different as an adult. Single friends, coupled friends, women friends. The dynamics are tough, women can be competitive instead of being friendly.
  • I have a friend who keeps making bad decisions in her life but I realize I'm lying about who I am by supporting her.
  • The best relationships are based on communication and you have to be sure the person is worth the time you put in.
  • Make sure your friends are reflective to you.
  • I remember my aunt telling me she had a hard time as a single woman with no kids around her married with kids friends. She felt invisible to them because she didn't have the same worries or problems. Once I moved back to Madison, I knew just how she felt when I spend time with my married-with-kids friends. Remembering spending time with her as a kid with my family, I can see how she felt invisible.
  • Being able to have friends who are similar to you is great, but remembering to ask those in a different phase of life how they are and really listening to them is a big deal.
  • You have to have friends who don't let you get away with things.

#4. How did you learn how to be happy alone?

  • I don't have a TV because of all the channels. I was a couch potato as a kid so I put the TV in the closet and haven't looked back.
  • When I first moved back to Madison, I was living in my apartment without actually moving in. I was waiting for something. My Aunt finally made me buy furniture and start living in my house. I made it a home and have a million memories in it.
  • Generally, I'd rather be alone so I can be myself.
  • In order to get out of the house more, I went to the bar and got to know the bartenders.
  • When I finally got comfortable in my apartment and my locale, I took the "Take it or Leave it" attitude.
  • Then I met my boyfriend! And now we're moving in together. He's interested in the same intellectual pursuits and asks thoughtful questions. I'm glad I got comfortable in myself so I was ready for him.

#1. How to ask for help & receive it?

  • Some people help for themselves. They need to help you so they can feel good. And you sometimes you should let them.
  • Allow yourself to get help only so far but then allow yourself to do what you want.
  • When I moved back to Madison, I had to set boundaries. I was an adult who had traveled through Asia without assistance and I wanted my family to realize I was capable on my own.
  • I've never had a problem asking for help and I'm good at getting people to help me. I know what I want and who can help me get there. I don't ask people for things they don't know.
  • I'm really aware when others help me. No gesture is too small. I know how to thank people.
  • Mentorship is a big deal. I think I'm lucky because I always think others are smarter than me so I listen and learn.
  • I've adopted a more "I can do it" mantra and I'm becoming more independent.
  • Being available to others is also key to being able to ask for help. "This is what I can help you with…"


Amy helped me realize how much I hadn't really made a home over the past 5 years because I was waiting for something. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one who had done this. I also found myself being drawn to her "Take it or Leave it" attitude and have found myself adopting it more with friends and potential suitors.

Over Thanksgiving, Amy tweeted me saying she was thankful for my visit because she was able to fall in love with her city all over again. I fell in love with her city and am clear I plan to keep her friendship.

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