Wedding Planning: What I’ve Learned So Far – Part II

The last six months of wedding planning have been a whirlwind! While it’s definitely been a fun process so far, it’s also felt like I’m climbing an extremely steep mountain with no peak. I never realized how many little details there are! It seems like every time I check something off my list, something else adds itself to the bottom.

Right off the bat, I was lucky enough to be able to book my venue, my photographer, my DJ, and get the food lined up, as well as a wait staff and bartenders to help with drinks and food. I was feeling pretty confident in myself, and admittedly had myself on quite a pedestal, and then I ran into some snags.

The thing about the wedding circuit is, things are trendy, just like in the fashion world. And, as it happens, I don’t actually like what’s in “style” for weddings right now [read: whispy, wildflower-y bouquets and arrangements, and mermaid-style wedding gowns, just to name two].

I have been STRUGGLING HARD to find a florist. I’m not kidding you, I’ve emailed somewhere between 20 and 30 florists to try and find somebody who shares the same style as I do, and who is also in my price range [I received a $10,000 minimum quote from a lady – I was absolutely speechless! who spends that much money on PLANTS?! plants that are inevitably going to DIE. apparently some people can and do..]. I have found a few, but it’s been extremely hard to keep track of them. One of the biggest things I would suggest to you is to not email vendors through their websites, if you can. If they have their email address listed on their site, email them directly! Some websites have a bounceback email that lets you know they’ve received your inquiry, but most don’t. I didn’t hear back from a good chunk of the vendors I messaged, and when I kept running into dead ends and had to go back to the drawing board, I couldn’t remember who I’d already emailed and who I hadn’t [I initially tried to keep an Excel spreadsheet to house all the vendors that I’d been in touch with, but that was way too time consuming and was taking a big chunk of my time that I really didn’t have].

In my last wedding post, I made a point of noting to get your Pinterest boards organized. Since that time, I’ve actually pulled photos from Pinterest and made an “Inspiration Board” that houses all my favorite pics in one. Creating an Inspiration Board is a great way to streamline your vision into one small [ish] space [if you’re anything like me, you have 20 wedding boards with hundreds of photos in each – that is way too overwhelming for a vendor to hunt through]. My coordinator was actually the one who suggested I do this; at the beginning of my planning process, I knew what I wanted for a venue, but I didn’t have a design direction. I had thousands of ideas on Pinterest, but nothing really flowed. Putting my inspo board together really helped to get my ideas to flow, and then I fell in love with my design plans! On my board, I included florals, table decor, a wedding gown, color palette and the aisle and arch/altar. It was long overdue, but in the end, that is what ultimately helped me to give florists an idea of what I wanted. This also gave my wedding coordinator a vision to go off for suggesting vendors to help with planning my big day.

Before you get in touch with vendors, RESEARCH exactly what it is that you want and expect the outcome to be. I ran into major roadblocks and communication gaps with florists because I didn’t know anything about flowers, let alone the ones that are available in the fall. I kept receiving proposals with flowers I hated – I felt like I was getting my point across to them during our meetings and discussions, but I clearly wasn’t. When I finally took some time to look up the flowers they were proposing, the flowers that are in season, and eliminated the ones that I didn’t like, I finally started connecting more successfully with the vendors. The same was also true for my coordinator – I explained to her what I wanted for my vision, and she has been doing everything in her power to make that happen.

I highly recommend hiring a coordinator of some sort. Or at least be sure to have a friend or acquaintance who has experience with combing through contracts and siphoning out little details. I have been so thankful for my coordinator throughout this entire process, but especially in the last few weeks – we ran into some HUGE glitches with the owners of my venue, and luckily my coordinator was able to break down the contract and keep things according to agreement. Vendors can be sketchy AF! They will often times try to pull the wool over your eyes, and it’s in your best interest to know what you’re signing when you come to an agreement with them. If something in the contract seems odd, don’t sign it! Things are always negotiable, which is something that I’ve really had to learn throughout this entire process. Another bonus about having a coordinator: you don’t have to worry about anything on they day of and leading up to your wedding day. That, to me, is worth every penny.


My Recent Obsession with Podcasts

Okay you guys, I know I’m a liiiiiiiittle bit late to the game here with this – but I recently got SUPER into podcasts.

Like, I haven’t listened to music in my car or at work in a week [which for me is major because I love music, and I especially love jamming to it in my car].

If you’re already into Podcasts, then you know my sudden addiction. You get it. You get me.

If you’re NOT, you need to drink the kool-aid.

I’ll be honest, I’m really not into watching TV. All the shows end up being kind of the same and I truthfully just get bored sitting around and staring at a screen. BUT, there was a short segment of my life that I got into the Bachelor [judge me] and watched maybe three seasons of it before I just couldn’t do it anymore. One of those seasons was Kaitlyn Bristowe’s, and I’ve been a bit of a fangirl ever since.

Kaitlyn recently started her own podcast, and has been promoting the F out of it on her IG stories for the last couple of months. I decided to give it a whirl [what could it hurt?] and ended up getting hooked on it. I just love her realness, and I love her sense of humor and how well she just vibes with other people.

Here’s what I love about podcasts [in no particular order]:

It sounds silly but it really humbles you as a person to listen to other people talk about their lives – the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. For me, it’s made me stop and think about my own life and how I treat and interact with other people. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a very selfish person [like, more than necessary at times], and to hear other people share life experiences really makes you reflect on your own. It has 100% made me want to be more engaging in my personal relationships and expel more energy on them. More often than not, I am lazy and just won’t text people because, as an introvert, even that sort of interaction can be draining. But, no more! Suck it up, Sarah. Time to put some real effort into the people and things that matter.

The guests on each podcast show can open up the door to thousands of other podcast channels. Through Kaitlyn Bristowe’s channel, I discovered one other lady power channel that I love, and through this other one I have found THREE more that I’m excited to try! Granted, most of these are total feminist channels [big shocker there], but there are a couple that are more health-related that I am so stoked to listen in on [especially because I’ve recently gotten on this total health kick and have become extremely interested in learning about nutrition and how the things I put into my body are specifically effecting me].

In contrast to being a good life lesson, podcasts can also be a really nice escape from reality. The channels I’ve been listening to are all celeb hosts, and some of the things they talk about are so ridiculous and so hard to wrap your mind around as just a common “normal” human being. I love all the stories about Hollywood and the crazy things that famous people actually, truthfully do.

Some of them are actually educational! [Let’s be honest, probably most of them]. I’m just listening to the feminist ladies of Hollywood with a voice, ha]. But seriously, some of these episodes have had guest speakers who travel around the world and speak at seminars about health, sex, relationships – it’s truly fascinating and has actually opened my mind to a bunch of topics that I normally wouldn’t find interesting or take any interest in on my own.

You don’t really have to listen to any of the episodes in order once you find a channel you like. I personally have a weird OCD where I feel like I have to listen to them in order, but so far none of them have ever presented a topic that required a prior episode listen.

Every episode of a podcast channel is different. While there are always some similarities [one of the channels I follow has the same segments every week, but they have different guests and the topics vary], they are, overall, completely different subjects every time. While I still love music, everything starts to sound the same after a while, and, if I’m being perfectly honest, nobody has released anything GOOD lately. Listening to podcasts has been a nice break from the repetitive sounds we’re getting out of the music world right now.

I think the best thing about podcasts is: there is something out there for everyone. I’m not kidding, you guys. There are hundreds, thousands of topics, channels, hosts. If you like a celeb, you’ll probably discover that they have a podcast channel.

I feel kind of dumb because all this time I thought podcasts were so lame and so archaic [like talk radio – does anybody really still listen to talk radio? nobody in my generation, at least]. I had this notion that podcasts were all just old men droning on and on about politics and science and that it was basically this big ol’ snoozefest. But, I stand corrected. I am loving the channels I’ve found so far, and if you aren’t into podcasts yet, this is my friendly nudge to get you going. You won’t regret it! And, bonus, if you hate reading but like to be educated, this is the best of both worlds.

If you’re curious about what I’m listening to on the Apple Podcast app [don’t judge me – I love the super feminist ish]:

Off the Vine – Kaitlyn Bristowe
LadyGang – Jac Vanek, Becca Tobin + Keltie Knight
Girlboss Radio – Sophia Amoruso
The Great Love Debate – Brian Howie
Straight Up with Stassi – Stassi Schroeder
Sex With Emily – Emily Morse
Brandi Glanville Unfiltered – Brandi Glanville

If you guys are already podcast fanatics like I am, please send me some ideas! I would love to branch out my repertoire more!

The Peter Pan Complex [Sac Is The New Neverland!]

Before I turned 30, I was actually ready to turn 30. I couldn’t wait to leave the decade of my twenties behind. It’s not that I hated my twenties, it’s just that it was the decade that, for me, was made of poor decisions and setbacks. I went to four colleges before I realized that school wasn’t for me, I dated idiot after idiot, I partied a lot and hung out with the wrong crowd.. I mean, nothing out of the ordinary for a younger twenty-something.

So, needless to say, when I finally felt like my world wasn’t so tilted anymore, when I felt like I had finally gotten myself on the straight and narrow, I realized that I was ready to leave those years behind me.

But why did it take me so long to finally get my ducks in a row? There are a couple of contributing factors.

First, my generation is taking longer and longer to settle down with a significant other [if we ever do]. As admirable as it is that people want to be successful in their own life before joining forces with another, the longer we wait to settle down, the harder it is to intertwine another life with ours. We get accustomed to doing things our own way, coming and going as we please, eating how we want, getting comfortable in our day-to-day routines – suddenly adding another person to the mix is freakin’ hard.

Another reason it took me so long to grow up was because of this area I live in. I love Sacramento, I really do. I’ve never called anywhere else home, despite living in San Luis Obispo for a year, and Chico for two [college]. It’s a great place to raise a family, and once you do finally grow up, it’s a pretty safe and comfortable place to settle down. BUT, that said, there are a LOT of people my age in this area who have absolutely no desire to better themselves or to get ahead in this world. Like, way too many. Most people my age are comfortable with their job as a club promoter, bartender, server or cocktail server somewhere in downtown Sac. They are easy jobs and they lend so well to the party lifestyle. I’ll be honest, I totally understand the appeal of going out to the clubs every night, and going out boating with friends every weekend. I lived that life for many years! But I got over it. I eventually got burnt out on the whole same-thing-different-year lifestyle. The thing that blows my mind is that people are STILL living that life. People well into their thirties and even forties continue to act like they are 21. I know there are people in every city and every town who fall into this category, but the amount of people in Sacramento who are definitely too old to be living the way they do is a tad bit scary. And these people are reproducing – even worse.

I’m not saying that we all shouldn’t have fun every once in a while. We definitely should, but while acting our age. We should also want better lives for ourselves. Let’s take San Francisco, for example. YES – it’s totally a party city. There are lots of clubs and bars and a huge nightlife. BUT, everybody who can afford that lifestyle is either in school and working, or has a great career that pays handsomely. People are motivated, and while they do live a bit of that Peter Pan lifestyle, they also all actually want to settle down. AND, most SF residents have roommates. So you’re never really totally alone. You’re already accustomed to sharing a home and a life with somebody.

It may have taken me a while to purge myself of my party mode, but I guess it’s better late than never. I do not in any way regret my twenties and the decisions I made – everything I’ve done and everyone that I’ve met to this point in my life has shaped who I am in some way. That said, I’m also happy to be done with that chapter of my life, LOL. The party life is definitely not for me. I’m happiest when I’m cuddled on the couch at home with a glass of wine, my fiancé and Miss Bella. Cheers to that!

Wedding Planning for Newbies: What I’ve Learned So Far

I’ve been engaged for 42 days.

I have already seen [and booked!] our venue, been in touch with three photographers, called two local bridal boutiques and made appointments to try on dresses, emailed three florists, two videographers, four food/dessert vendors and five coordinators for month-of details and finalizing.

Did I mention my fiancé and I’s tentative wedding date isn’t until Fall 2018?

Yes, you did your math correctly. That gives me roughly 16 months to plan this thing.


So, why the rush?

Going into this, I knew basically nothing about weddings. I was the maid of honor in a wedding a couple of years ago [almost to the day], but I wasn’t involved in any of the planning process. The bride lived in San Diego, had a venue picked out in Malibu, and with me all the way up in Sacramento, there wasn’t much I could do. Also, up until recently, I really wasn’t even a huge fan of weddings. I mean, I totally thought it was great to celebrate other people’s love, but the forced mingling with people you have never met..? Well, I’m an introvert and can be extremely socially awkward, so, you get why weddings weren’t my fav.

BUT, that said, now that I’m engaged and planning my own special day, the tables have turned a bit.

Even though I have nearly two years to plan, I knew that I wanted to get my venue and my photographer booked as soon as possible. Although I don’t know much about wedding planning, I do know that these two vendors book up the quickest [my potential photographer already has a September wedding for 2018!].

The first thing I did when Mitch and I got engaged was to sign up for Style Me Pretty, The Knot and Wedding Wire. They all give you the opportunity to browse vendors local to your city and/or your general area [for example, we live in Sacramento, but some of these vendors encompass all of Northern California – Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, South Lake Tahoe, etc.]. While I didn’t end up choosing a venue from the list, it did give me a great starting point for photographers, florists and coordinators. Instagram has also been a really good friend of mine – once I figured out the photographers I liked, I would follow their profiles and find other vendors they’d tagged in their photos [I actually found ALL but one of my potential vendors from this method].

Create a new email address that’s for wedding stuff ONLY. I can’t even tell you guys how helpful this has been. You never realize how many emails you get every day until you’re trying to pilfer through them all to find the ones that relate to your wedding. Having a separate email for our big day has been a life saver. And, bonus, I can easily remove it from my phone and computer after it’s all said an done and I’ll never have to see a wedding email again! [Although, if I’m being totally honest, I would 100% consider a career in wedding planning after this].

Don’t wait! Regardless of how far out your wedding is, get in touch with your potential vendors so you can get your name on their radar. Even though the florists I’ve contacted don’t promise their services until a year before the wedding date, at least they know I’m interested and my day is now in the back of their minds. And if you don’t want to go through the legwork of planning all by yourself, hire a coordinator!

Don’t get your heart set one one single vendor for each category of your wedding. For example, I only saw one venue [which we got extremely lucky in booking], and I really only love one of my potential photographers. We almost didn’t get our venue, and if I don’t get the photographer I want, I will be absolutely crushed [not ideal!]. The moral of the story: have some backups. Don’t narrow it down to one place or one person if you can help it. Have an idea in mind of what you like, and see as many places and interview as many people as you can before you settle. You will be much happier if you start planning your wedding with an open mind.

Get your guest list done early on. We ended up having to do this in the beginning by default due to the fact that the venue we wanted only accommodated 200 people max. It was painstaking and there were lots of disagreements, but ultimately that is the most difficult part of planning, and once this is done it will be smooth sailing afterward. Better to get this out of the way as soon as possible.

Work on your inspo boards! YES, I mean Pinterest. The best thing I ever did was sit down and organize the heck out of my wedding-themed Pinterest boards. It was so easy for me to go in and print out dress styles, floral arrangements, décor styles, etc. Whether you’re a DIY-er or you’re hiring a wedding planner, the best way to let your vendors know what you want is to give them something to go off of. Most vendors will ask you what kind of ideas you have, so having something to go off of is always a good idea!

Stay in touch with your vendors and potential vendors. Let them know what your timeline is and where your head is at. While I was working on our guest list and trying to figure out how to make our venue work for us, I wasn’t just sitting idly – I was emailing potential vendors and getting pricing, availability, etc. I couldn’t nail down a time to meet with anybody since I didn’t have a venue, yet, but I made sure they all knew what the case was and that I would reach out once our venue and date were secured.

All in all, make sure you find that ultimate wedding dream team to work with. Finding vendors who mesh well with you as a couple, as well as each other, is a huge necessity. And also, don’t forget to have FUN. Being engaged and planning a wedding is supposed to be one of the most fun moments of your adult life. Enjoy every moment of being affianced and planning your big day. At the end of it all, it comes down to just the two of you – don’t forget that! And if planning and decision-making has become all-consuming, take a step back, take a night or two off and enjoy some time together just being engaged, in love, and not worrying about wedding details.

True Life: Living With Anxiety

I’ve always been a bit of a nervous personality. Growing up, I was painfully shy. The slightest bit of attention would make me so embarrassed and cause me to retreat into myself [the slightest, you guys. I’m talking, like, when the teacher calls roll on the first day of school, and I turned red AF because two people turned to look at me when I said, “here”]. It was extremely hard for me to make friends – people thought I was mean [or later in life, a “bitch”] because I’m not overly friendly or outgoing. When I see people I know in public, I avoid eye contact and duck and hide in hopes to avoid them [<– seriously, though, does anybody else do this? WHY do I do this? I KNOW it wouldn’t kill me to say “Hi” and chat for a brief moment – sometimes I look at myself and think, “you have issues” LOL].

When I went away to college, I discovered alcohol [due to my shy and introverted nature, I was not invited to parties – shocking, I know], and the glorious gift it gave me to knock down that shy wall I’d had up my whole life. I had no problem talking to strangers, making friends – it made me braver, it gave me confidence, and I liked that. But the thing about alcohol is, it’s a mask. And it’s temporary. And the bottom line was, it made me do things that I wouldn’t normally do. And in the harsh light of day, the anxiety and guilt that riddled me from my decisions the night before was sometimes more than I could handle. It still is.

I am the type of person that will dwell on a situation for YEARS after the fact. Yes, people – YEARS. It sometimes takes me hours to go to sleep because I can’t shut my damn brain off. Going over and over things in my head that are days, months, years in the past. Things that I have absolutely no power to change and yet I just can’t seem to let go of.

It’s exhausting. And the stress of being stressed just causes me more stress. Vicious cycle would be the appropriate verbiage here.

Other things that give me anxiety: riding in a vehicle that is towing something, driving near a vehicle that is towing something, calling a stranger on the phone, confrontation, driving at night, trying new social things like group exercise classes, having plans change last minute, having an overly packed schedule, large crowds.. The list goes on. Some of those are bigger triggers for me than others. Most of them are mild and I can handle them easily without it interrupting my life. But some of the others have recently been the triggers of near panic attacks, which for me is absolutely not acceptable. Most people will have general anxieties, but when it hits a point where your body goes into a state of shock, it’s not okay and it’s not healthy.

When I had my first almost panic attack [I say almost because I’ve never actually had a full blown one], I was so scared because I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart started pounding excessively fast, and it became extremely hard for me to breathe. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, or almost had one, you know the feeling; where you start panicking even more because of the attack. To put it dumbly, and for lack of better word – it’s SCARY. When you finally get your breath back and sort of get your heart back under control, all you seem to be able to focus on is your heart, and how it seems to be beating unusually heard and fast.

I’m writing this post because I know I’m not the only person on this planet that has bizarre anxieties and lives with this level of anxiety every day. And what has really helped me over the last year or so that I’ve been struggling so much with more severe anxiety is talking to other people who share this issue. It is comforting to know that I am not alone.

Another thing that helps me is exercise. Running, specifically, really helps to take the edge off. The further I run, the more time I have to get my thoughts straight, and the more it puts my mind at ease. Exercise also helps to burn the extra energy that I would normally be expelling with anxious thoughts and feelings. In addition to exercise, I have been getting acupuncture for the last eight months, and that has been life changing. It may not work for everyone, but I know for myself, and how much worse my anxiety is if I try and drown it with a substance, natural medicine works a lot better for me than pills or alcohol ever will.

So why do we have so much anxiety now? Why are there so many triggers? Let’s take a trip back in time – before cars, before mortgages, college tuition and careers. A time in history where people took care of themselves as well as took care of others. People worked together as a community to get ahead in life. Nobody had to worry about making their mortgage every month, nobody had to worry about paying for school in order to get a good job. Most people were born into a trade because that’s what their parents did. Oh, I’m sure people had stress back then – there was a lot more disease, no modern medicine, women died in childbirth, people were robbed while traveling by stagecoach in the middle of the desert. But comparative to today, we have so much more going on in our day-to-day lives. Things that humans weren’t designed to ever take on, and yet with science, invention, engineering, etc., people are pushing themselves to do more and be more than we were ever designed to do.

I know travel is expensive. I know pets are expensive. I know a lot of things cost money that a lot of us cannot afford, but I think it’s SO important in this day and age to make a point of taking time for ourselves to relax and destress. Get out of town – get physically away from the things that cause you stress every day. Turn off your work devices – unplug from society. If you can afford it, get a pet. They are wonderful companions, and dogs, especially, encourage exercise and getting out of the house every day [aka NATURE – also a natural destresser!]. If you can’t afford either of those things, then walk to the closest park and plop down in the grass with a book. Or people watch. Anything that will help you get out of your head and to calm your nerves. Eventually the anxiety returns, but taking the steps to help curb it are totally worth it.

If anybody else out there suffers levels of anxiety like I do, please know that you are not alone. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and at this point, there’s only so much we can do to maintain it enough that we can function every day. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to confide in, please do not hesitate to reach out. Even as strangers, there’s comfort in knowing that someone else out there is feeling exactly the way you do.

I am WOMAN: Ten Things I Think Every [Adult] Woman Needs to Incorporate Into Her Life

Let’s define “adult” in this instance. Adult, for the purpose of this post, is a lady who’s got her ish together. Who’s got a steady income, has her head on straight, knows who she is, and goes after what she wants. NOT to be confused with a freshly eighteen-year-old who “thinks” she’s an adult because, legally speaking, she technically is.

In terms of life, I was a bit of a late bloomer. Not hormonally speaking, but I am a bit of an introvert. So as a child, tween/teen, I was shy and not at all a social butterfly. I didn’t start wearing make-up until 8th grade [clear mascara ONLY], I didn’t start wearing my hair down until sophomore year of high school [holla atcha tomboy! ponytails were my THING], didn’t get my hair highlighted until around the same time, and probably didn’t start caring about my clothes until senior-ish year of high school [if that – was probably later, if I’m being totally honest]. It’s safe to say that pampering myself was never high on my list of priorities in my youth [this might explain why I didn’t get my first kiss until I was EIGHTEEN (insert embarrassed emoji here)].

And, until recently, I still never really cared much for shopping or putting myself together. My style is always changing, and I consistently find [and wear the heck out of] the same outfits. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I actually started to enjoy all of the aspects of being a woman. This is probably due to the fact that I acted rather childish up until about a year ago. So, there you go.

About six months ago, I was hanging out with some [older] gal-pal colleagues at a local wine bar [House of Oliver – if you haven’t been here yet, you should! it’s got a fun vibe and it’s quaint, which I love]. They were all talking casually about monthly facials and massages, another was chatting about her recent two week trip to Italy “Just for fun.” I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation. Know why? Because I’ve never just INDULGED. I’ve never just booked myself a massage, or decided to take a trip out of the country on a whim. Know why? Because I’d never been able to afford it until now. Well, that’s not entirely true. I probably could have afforded it, but my money was leaping out of my bank account and into other places [read: bar tabs, wine bottles, driving all over kingdom come because FOMO].

Now, I realize it’s only been six months [ish] since I’ve started to delve into the finer things in life, but BELIEVE ME, it doesn’t take long to become adventurous. And so, the ten things I believe us females should be doing on the REG [in no particular order]:

1 – Treat yoself, girl! I’m talking facials, massages, spa days – whatever it is that you need to just take a step back in life. Modern day life can be stressful AF. Even on our days off we are trying to cram a thousand things in that we can’t get done during the week. Whether it’s being a working girl or being a mom, it’s important to take at least an hour or two to yourself to reset and recharge.
2 – Try holistic healthcare. I know, I know, I know. This seems like just a fad people are going through. Like the South Beach Diet that was all the rage just a few years ago. But, in all honesty, there is something to be said for trying to heal your body without using pharmaceuticals. Several months ago, I decided to try acupuncture to see if it could help to minimize my sudden migraines and the unmanageable stress levels I was trying unsuccessfully to suppress. I have been consistent with my visits, and I have honestly never felt better. I know this isn’t a category for everyone, but I highly encourage you to try it just once. The word “holistic” can make you think hippie, earthy, etc. I promise you, not everybody who practices holistic healing is like that.
3 – Splurge on some fancy clothing items. This is one of my favorite things about having a bank account that can support my shopping habits. And truth be told, I hardly ever purchase anything all that expensive [Target is for sure my go-to]. But every once in a while I like to buy myself something nice. And not because I need it, but because it makes me feel GOOD. Whether it be a handbag or workout clothes or a fancy jacket that you’ve had your eye on for months, it’s about knowing that you worked hard enough to earn yourself something special.
4 – Do research on things that you’re passionate about. Our whole entire youth is devoted to studying and learning things that others have chosen to teach us. That isn’t nearly as enjoyable as having a hunger to learn something that you genuinely take interest in. For me, I am constantly reading and experimenting with Bella’s food [she eats raw, for anyone who’s just now jumping in on my blog]. The raw food diet for dogs is constantly evolving – there are always new theories on what to add or take away from their diet. And every single dog is different, just like humans. It’s a fun challenge for me to see what does and doesn’t help Bella’s health [Bella loves it either way because she constantly gets to try new food items].
5 – Get up early! Waaaaaaaitttt.. WTF?? No, guys, I’m serious. Getting up early has way more benefits than you’d think. I get up at 5:45 every weekday to run. Yes, it can be grueling, but once I’m out of bed and the blood is flowing, I feel pretty good. Plus, I feel so much more productive having gotten my workout in before work. That way, if anything comes up after work, I don’t have to stress about not getting a workout in. I don’t even sleep in on the weekends [unless you count 7:30 sleeping in]. I only get two days off a week, and sleeping half the day seems extremely wasteful, in my mind.
6 – Do something that you’ve been secretly wanting to do or try for a long time, but haven’t had the guts [or money] to do it. Yes, ladies. I’m talking botox, boob job, things of that nature. It sounds silly, but I know ALL of you at some point have thought about having bigger [or smaller] breasts, or smoother skin – whatever the case may be! Or, if you still don’t know if you want to try it, it doesn’t hurt [or cost anything] to sit down with a specialist and have a consultation. The true professionals will be 100% honest with you about procedures and whether or not you need one – these ones won’t be after your money. It helps to talk to people who have actually used these doctors and can give you feedback.
7 – Try new things – pick up a new hobby or take a workout class. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was younger, I could never understand how people could afford to keep memberships at so many different gyms and clinics. My eyeballs just about popped out of my head when I started researching all of the local places I could go to work out [the cost to have a workout coach is steep!]. Recently, though, I’m starting to understand that the people that go to The Orange Theory and Pure Barre actually get their money’s worth. They go every day [sometimes multiple times a day]. It’s just about finding your motivation and your niche and what’s right for you.
8 – Prepare a home cooked meal every night. Or as often as you can. This one can be more difficult if you don’t plan ahead. There’s a method to the madness of grocery shopping and meal-prepping on Sundays [now I know why the grocery store is always super crowded on Sunday afternoons]. I love to use Pinterest to find ideas – it is the true cornucopia of recipes. And not all of my recipes turn out great – some of them look nothing like the photos and have hardly any flavor. Others turn out pretty dang good. But the reason I encourage this is because it builds confidence – and not just in the kitchen! [Bonus points: men love it when a gal cooks for them].
9 – Invest in a Roomba. Especially if you have a pet. Seriously, it will change your life. I FINALLY bit the bullet and bought one and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I love to clean, but sweeping and mopping my floors every single day was back breaking. Literally every night it looked like I hadn’t even cleaned [and even more disgusting: walking into your kitchen in your bare feet right after a shower,] and feeling dirt and grime all over the floor – FOUL].
10 – Get a pet. It is so rewarding. When you’re down, they lift you up. They keep you motivated. They [hopefully] make you a cleaner, more organized person. I mean, let’s face it, pets are messy. Whether it be a dog tracking dirt in the house, a bird spraying birdseed everywhere, or cats shedding all over the place – it can be downright exhausting! But it’s worth every second of their uncleanliness to have their company. Just make sure you do your research and know how much work it actually is before you commit.

If you guys have anything you think should be added to the list [or removed], let me know! I love feedback, and those are just ten biased things from my own personal life and experience – obviously not everybody feels the same and/or has the same experiences.

BUT, at the end of the day, and what I always try and leave you with – DO YOU. Make time for yourself. YOU ARE IMPORTANT, and it’s important to take care of yourself. Don’t let the stresses of work and daily reality keep you from enjoying the finer [and also the little] things in life.

Silence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

When I was younger, I would purposely get in my car and drive around aimlessly for an hour or two just to listen to my favorite songs loud and on full blast. For some reason it calmed me, soothed me, lifted my spirits.

In college, my study habits thrived on the white noise that came from people surrounding me – I constantly found myself at local coffee shops or the noisy, social floor in the campus library.

In those days, the silence was deafening.

But back then I was late teens/early twenties, and I had just discovered my outgoing side – at that point, all I was concerned about was socializing [this may have been around the time that the acronym “FOMO” was born].

These days, I relish the quiet moments. In fact, I thrive on them.

Oh, sure, I still love listening to music in my car. It honestly feels odd just to drive around without tunes on. [Is it just me, or is there something totally creepy about being able to hear all of the sounds your car makes while it’s running?] Listening to music while I drive is still soothing.

But my work life and my home life – those are two places that the quiet is euphoric. Although, if I’m being totally honest, the office isn’t quiet AT ALL. While we don’t often have visitors or clients dropping by, there is always the usual hum of phones ringing, people talking, fingers tapping on keyboards, printers madly spewing papers at hyperspeed. You get the idea.

Okay.. So HOME. Home. Home SWEET home. That is my PLACE. That is where I am able to achieve complete and total silence. [At least for several hours before my boyfriend gets home from work.]

I love my boyfriend. SO much. I really do, but he does not know what quiet is. Sometimes I just sort of wonder if he is kind of afraid of silence.

I know we all like to listen to music while we get ready. I usually don’t when I’m getting ready for work in the morning [because, again, I love the quiet]. But at night when I’m getting glammed up to go out, I’ll throw on some tunes to get me hyped up. My boyfriend will listen to music on FULL BLAST. From the moment he wakes up to the moment he grabs his backpack and walks out the door. Luckily, it’s rare that he’s up when I am in the morning. But even so, I try to enjoy every moment of the solitude I have when I’m awake by myself every morning.

The evenings, when I get home from work, are my FAV. I LOVE evenings. I always have several hours to myself before he gets home. 4-5 hours to do whatever I want at the volume I want [which, obviously, is usually low to zero]. This is the time I like to clean the house, work on crafts, get organized – whatever! And I like to do it without any noise. Even tonight, for example. I’ve been sitting on the couch for FIVE HOURS just relaxing in complete silence. Bella is lying next to me, there’s a fire in the fireplace, and I’ve just been enjoying a glass of wine and surfing the internet [that’s, like, such an old school phrase.. “surfing the ‘net” LOL].

It’s funny how our tastes change throughout life. How in ten years I’ve done almost a complete 180 from the younger girl I used to be.

I guess the point of this post is to remind you to do things for YOU. Remember who you are and don’t lose sight of the simple things in your life that make you happy. I think most days we don’t even realize how much it can affect us if we aren’t able to do things that bring us peace. I know that for myself, having those few hours of quiet downtime at night are NECESSARY to my happiness and my well being. On the nights where my boyfriend isn’t working, I get stressed and snippy if I don’t carve out some alone time for myself.

Figure out what the little things are that bring you joy and make sure you do them!