Thank God this year happened the way it did…

I wanted to look back at this past year and identify some great moments and acknowledge all the amazing things that happened to me and things that I created in my life.  Reflection has become increasingly invaluable to me and making it a regular practice has increased my feelings of gratitude, excitement and general life enjoyment.

The past few New Years I have felt a huge sense of relief that the year was ending, I can remember saying “THANK GOD THIS YEAR IS OVER.”  and “This year has GOT to be better.”  And while I can’t say that each following year “gets better”, I have a better sense and perspective on how life unfolds and a much better relationship with the ups and downs after this past year.

So here’s my list of amazing moments in 2017:

  1. Signing up for FMCA.  This is my most recent event that I’m beyond excited and proud of.  I already wrote a quick blog post about it so I’m not going to go into a ton of details, but I’m just so excited to start this new chapter in my personal life.
  2. Niagara Falls Road trip.  I made my younger sister a promise to go on this trip back when I was probably 14 years old.  She would’ve been 6.  And she has remembered for the past 12 years.  This year I finally got to fulfill that promise to her and we had an amazing trip, I’m so glad I got to create that memory with her and hope it’s the first of many trips together.
  3. Completing a half-marathon.  That’s right.  I walked/jogged 13.1 miles this year with around a 15 min. pace.  By mile 11 I thought I was going to puke or never walk again, but my Aunt kept pushing me, my family was cheering me on from the sidelines and I proudly show off that medal to anyone who comes over to my house.  I still can’t really believe I did it…
  4. Got a promotion.  Feeling appreciated at work is a great feeling, and to know that your opinion is valued and that your efforts are seen and recognized is such a huge motivator for me.  I’m so blessed to have a 9-5 that treats me so well and supports me in new endeavors and values my ideas, it makes all the difference in the world.
  5. Saw my first opera.  For my Dad’s birthday I got tickets to go see La fanciulla del West, which was our first opera.  It was such a fun night, although I was one of the few people under 40 there.  One of my favorite things was just listening and not reading the subtitles, you could only identify emotions since it was all in Italian.  I think it’s a pretty neat way to practice identifying body language and non-verbal emotional cues.
  6. Built a clothes tree.  Over the summer I built a copper clothes tree with my Dad as a wedding gift for a close friend of mine.  It took many, many weekends working in a hot and humid garage, but a learned a bunch about his creative process and learned how to use new tools.  It was a really great year with my Dad, we had quite a few fun times during that process and even went on a road trip to pick up some antique tools.  It’s especially valuable to me as my Grandpa on that side just passed away, I’m glad that this year was full of good memories with my own Dad who takes after his Dad so much.

 

My goal with this list was to only list the things that immediately came to mind without looking at my instagram feed or photo stream.  What were the things that burned into my brain as high moments, what are the things that my brain has chosen to remember as important moments.  As I get older I realize that space up there is limited and so in order to make better choices and evaluate what truly makes me happy, I need to recognize what truly matters enough to remember it vividly.  Most of the moments were spent with family and that has been a big focus of mine this past year, I don’t know how long we’re all going to live this close to each other so I’ve made a solid effort to take advantage of it while I can.  Of course there’s a couple more moments that made the full list, but those moments are more intimate and if I’ve learned anything this year it’s keeping certain experiences close to your heart is a good thing, protect the intimacy of your life when you can, it keeps me feeling fulfilled.

Looking at next year I’m making lists (One of my favorite things to do) of things I want to focus/re-focus on, new mantras to live by and making space for new opportunities to present themselves.  That will most likely be my next post, “things to hold close in 2018”.  I’ve already got the title figured out so now I HAVE to write it soon.

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Big decision made.

After more than a year of research and consideration, soul searching and doubting, I committed to becoming a certified Functional Medicine health and wellness coach (I chose FMCA’s program).  I committed time (12 months) and $$$ which was definitely the scarier part (because I still have something called student loan payments to worry about), but through all that research and all the things I’ve experienced this past year I just realized it was now or never.

Risk is a funny thing, it can keep you just on the edge of making significant changes in your life.  I find that I’ve now gotten to the point of hating that indecisive place so much that as risky as the choice may be, it’s better to take the leap and let go than keep working so hard to balance just on the edge of something amazing.

Either way, I did it and I can’t take it back now.  I intend to document my journey more on here, so if anyone else is on the verge of making this kind of decision I can be one of the people to help you off the ledge.  Working full time and getting all this in should make for an interesting year, but I’m hoping to spend more time connecting with people who’re passionate about health and happiness.

It’s finally time to enjoy the fall and see if the net’s down there somewhere.

The other side of a quarter.

It’s the last day of my 25th year, and I wanted to reflect on how I felt at the start of of it and how I feel now.  I’m living in a different house than last year, my physical and mental health are very different and my lifestyle has changed dramatically, so let’s get into it.

If you always do what interests you, then at least one person is pleased. –Katharine Hepburn

I think this quote has been been driving most of my intentions this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective about what I want and if my life is reflecting those desires.  I’ve spent more time enjoying my freedom of being single and being able to make last minute plans without having to check with anyone, doing things that make me happy.

The list of things that makes me happy as changed a lot as well, eating healthy foods and getting a full night’s sleep is probably my most guaranteed way to get happy.  At this point I’ve tried Paleo, Vegan and wheat-free diets and I’ve made my own mash-up of the three and have felt so much better, it’s amazing what food can do for your health and happiness.  I’ve also recently purchased a Phillips Wake-Up light alarm clock and it’s fantastic.  I’m working on getting my phone out of my room while I’m asleep, right now it’s on silent and next to my bed, but I’ll get there!  Creating this calm environment for my body and mind has not only helped with my happiness but it’s also a process I’ve enjoyed and have realized will be an eternal and dynamic process, what works now can and will eventually change as time passes.

Socially, I’ve spent more time alone.  I find that it makes me a far better and engaged person when I’m spending time with family and friends, I’ve embraced my introvert nature and make an effort to plan out days that I spend alone.  Whether I’m getting things done, exercising (I’m training for a half-marathon right now…), binge watching Will and Grace, or anything else, it’s time that I need and I’ve been firm in making it a priority in my life.

One big difference is that I feel much more excited about the year ahead than I did last year.  I wasn’t sad or morose about turning 25 last year, I just think I was in a place that I was letting things happen in life rather than making the choices that guide my trajectory.  Time, health, family and friends cure all life ailments and after a couple of challenging years I finally feel like my true self.  26 is going to be great, and I plan to do a better job of posting updates and inspirations on here.  But for now, I give you a list of 26 things that I’m loving on this exact day.

  1. Younger Now – Miley Cyrus (Did not expect to love her new music this much, pleasant surprise).
  2. The fact that I’m not falling all over myself for the new iPhone, I’m getting better at not following the hype and realizing… I have a working phone… that I just paid off… it’s like they have a plan to get me to spend more money or something….
  3. Smoked Paprika, I’ve found a reason to put it on nearly everything.
  4. My waxed denim jacket that may be on it’s last year… I’ve had it for seven years I think, and it’s still one of my absolute favorite items I own.
  5. Classical music, I’ve been listening to the This is: Vivaldi playlist on Spotify and I love it.
  6. Podcasts, I just can’t get enough of them.
  7. New kinds of produce, I recently tried Kiwi Berries and Kuri Squash for the first time, so good.
  8. New Barn Barista style almond milk… I buy 3 every time I see it at Whole Foods, usually it’s out of stock.
  9. Sipsmith Gin, I bought some for the first time yesterday and it’s amazing.  I plan on having a couple French 75s for my birthday…
  10. My Birkenstocks, it’s still warm enough to get away with wearing them and I probably won’t put them away until November.
  11. My new glasses, I bought three pairs from Goggles4u.com and the clear, acrylic pair is my favorite.
  12. My Panda journal, my best friend got me one last year and I can’t plan my week effectively or mindfully without it.
  13. Avocados, now that I’ve pretty much cut meat and dairy out of my normal diet and splurge on them alllllllll the time.
  14. Making vegan desserts, I made vegan cheesecake last weekend and I’m making vegan chocolate chip cookies and raw, vegan carrot cake tomorrow.
  15. Will and Grace, I’m so excited that the season premiere is tomorrow, on my actual birthday.
  16. Health research, I’ve been looking for a functional medicine practice and I love doing this kind of research, I wish more people had the time to invest in their health and happiness.
  17. Historical dramas, I finally finished Downton Abbey and binge watched Victoria season one.
  18. Atypical, another great Netflix original, can’t wait for season two.
  19. My desk space, I finally cleaned it  up and hung my art and photos, I hope to spend more time there.
  20. The promise of fall weather, it’s going to be 88 degrees Fahrenheit here today… I’m ready for 60 degrees and coats and bonfires and such.
  21. Family, I’ve been able to spend tons of time with everyone over the past year and as we all get older (My younger sister became a legal adult over the last weekend) I know that it’ll get harder and harder to schedule that time.
  22. Dogs, I want my own so badly but I’m lucky that my family dogs are only a 30 minute car ride away.
  23. Candles, I always go a little candle crazy in the fall, I just love coming in and lighting them after a long day and having a cocktail while cooking something cozy.  #hyggelife
  24. Strong women, I’m very lucky to have so many female warriors to look up to and bond with, my friends have been making big changes in the last year and I’m so proud of all of them.
  25. Feeling confident in my choices, I love being in a place where I rarely doubt myself and make decisions based on my well defined values.
  26. That I have so many reasons to feel grateful.

26… Let’s do this.

Buddha Bowl

This week was my first attempt at making a Buddha bowl and it did NOT disappoint. It’s a really nice mix up from a greens based salad and new way to incorporate yummy tofu into my diet.  I highly recommend pressing your tofu ahead of time and marinating it for at least an hour (I prefer to prep mine a day ahead of time so it gets a full day to marinate).

The break down:

Grains: Rice and quinoa blend (I recommend using stock or broth with your favorite spices to cook your grains, it turns out way more flavorful).

Veggies: Cherry tomatoes, avocado and eggplant roasted* with smoked paprika.

Protein: Tofu, I used some leftover marinade for a light dressing on everything.

*Recently learned that NOT salting the eggplant before roasting makes it FAR less soggy. Game. Changer.

Sweet Saturdays

This past Saturday was a day of doing things, my favorite kind of day.  It left me inspired, tired from laughing and walking and grateful for time spent with friends and family.

 

The plan for the day was to drive out to the Luckett’s Spring Market out in Berryville, VA.  As a lover of The Old Luckett’s Store, this was my first time at their spring market and let me just say, it surpassed the hype.  If you love design and refurbished or homemade items, it’s heaven on earth.  Seeing as my budget has been mostly spent on travel and gifts as of late, it wasn’t a buying trip, it was more a fun thing to do on a spring Saturday.  I got lots of design ideas for my future hypothetical dream house (for which I have a dedicated Pinterest board), and time spent outside eating and drinking and looking around.

Podcasts…

Within the past six months I’ve become a big podcast fan.  I get so excited on the days my favorites release new episodes and I find myself sitting in my car in front of my house after my commute just wanting to finish the episode before I head in to get all the evening tasks done.  There are so many out there, some are super popular, others are hidden gems, so I thought I’d talk about my current top three.  Let it be known that I’m not into the murder mystery ones or anything like that, it’s more of my roommates wheelhouse so I get my pants scared off when she tells me bits and pieces about her latest episodes.  Unsurprisingly, mine are lifestyle, food and humor related, and that’s just the way I like it.

unqualifiedNumber one is Anna Farris’ brilliant podcast “Unqualified“.  Most podcast lovers have heard of it if they’re not already huge fans, I believe it won some awards this year and it has been fairly popular on Apple’s podcast app.  This one is interview based and has some regular features such as caller questions, hypothetical scenarios and other fun and thought provoking prompts.  My favorite recent guest has to be Eric Stonestreet (although Tom Middleditch comes in at a close second).  On “Unqualified” you get to see a more casual side of the guests in a interview setting, they still plug their projects but you start to kind of see them as real people and less “Hollywood”.

cherryThe second is allllllll about food and women, both of which I love!  “Radio Cherry Bomb” is a foodie podcast that interviews chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, anyone with a passion for food and they focus a lot of energy on celebrating women in the food industry.  Just listening to it makes me hungry and want to spend a year eating at all the amazing restaurants they talk about.  Every once in awhile you’ll also catch a pro tip from the interviewee on their tried and true kitchen practices, it’s always delectably entertaining and I feel like the whole cast are the best of friends, something that isn’t always represented well in the world of women.

PardonFinally, I saved the best for last.  “Pardon my French“.  I have no words.  Garance Doré is not only an amazing blogger, photographer, illustrator and writer… but her voice!  Her podcast is varied and colorful and her topics include living with roommates, green and healthy living and interviews with Joseph Altuzarra just to name a few.  Some are in a group setting, casual, just her and her amazing team sharing thoughts and opinions on something new, and some are live interviews that she hosts at events.  Every time I listen to an episode I want to go home, open a bottle of Rosé from Provence and invite all my girlfriends over to chat.  Suffice to say, it’s the highlight of my Thursday.

I think podcasts are the radio of the future, I hear my parents talk about how good radio used to be, just like how good MTV used to be.  Finally there’s an place you can get quality content with minimal overhead cost and advertising, you can even find whole communities that relate to a subject the way you do.  The quality is there, the creativity is there, it’s a mixture of new and old social tools and I’m a huge fan of the way it’s turning out.

Boston – Lowell 2017

One of the big perks of my current job is an opportunity to travel, it’s all domestic but it takes me places I wouldn’t really go otherwise and that’s pretty neat.  This past weekend I spent taking all kinds of transportation to get to Lowell, Massachusetts which is about 30 minutes outside Boston.  It’s a college town with a pretty cool vibe, it would’ve been even more fun if there wasn’t a snow storm during my visit… 13″ in April… that’s New England for you.

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As a genuine food and drink lover, my first mission was to find a cool coffee shop where I could hangout until I could check into my hotel.  After trudging through the snow for 20 minutes I gave up trying to find the place I had found on google map and settled for a small coffee house that closed early.  I dried off and did some more research trying to figure out why I could not find the entrance to this mystical cafe…  Turns out it was hidden in an old mill turned apartment complex.  I took a hidden elevator to the fourth floor and found THE coolest indoor shops I’ve ever seen in a residential area:

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It made perfect sense that they would put the shops indoors as it was April and snowing heavily, the shops included an apothecary, a cheese shop, a record store just to name a few.  Plus there was a stage for live performances, which looked pretty awesome with huge oriental rugs covering the stage made of reclaimed wood.  I finally made my way to the cafe, Coffee and Cotton, and enjoyed the relaxed vibe over a sandwich and fresh ginger kombucha.  It was the highlight of my weekend and I was happy to find that gem before starting my actual work.

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I also went on every possible type of transportation Boston had to offer and made a quick video of my travels here.  I’m thinking about making some more video content, we’ll see if I stick with it…