January by the Numbers

Is it just me, or did January seem to have 37 weeks in it?

I love winter, a new year, finding new motivation for the day to day, but good grief, January’s 31 days seem to last forever. 2019’s first month was all about foundations for me, I was intentional about setting goals that would be focused on building the foundation for progress and not specifically looking for progress…yet.

| M O N T H L Y  G O A L S |

  • write and send January birthday cards [completed!]
  • pay off credit card debt from the holidays [almost fully paid off!]
  • save $300 [completed]
  • create reading list for the year [completed]
  • finish reading The Light is the New Black [completed]
  • chat with K about CPLP certification [after 4 rescheduled meetings, completed!]
  • order second set of glasses [done, hated them more than the first pair, LOL]
  • verify flex spending purchases [completed]

| W E E K L Y  G O A L S |

  • grocery shopping + meal prepping [made strides, about 3/5 weeks]
  • intentional time with the hubs [yes! 5/5]
  • post 3x on EJB [4/5 weeks, completed – took a week off after the damn moon]
  • designate 6 hours/week to CPLP study plan [whew, done!]

| D A I L Y  G O A L S |

  • movement [still working on this one, 6/30 days included intentional movement]
  • no gluten [31/31 on this one! celebrated 2 months GF as well!]
  • time for reflection [24/31 days included time for reflection!]
  • at least 80oz of water [I slacked on tracking, I’m guessing about 75%]

All in all, it was a pretty productive month, considering all that was going on with my re-entry to the real world, my birthday, full wolf blood super moons, sickness (both Justin and I), winter storms, and you know…life. Here’s to February, where I’ll be focusing on maintaining those foundations and slowly building on top of them!

| F E B R U A R Y | “fall in love with the process of becoming the very best version of yourself.” – unknown

Untitled design-6

2019 Goal Setting Series: Creativity.

I would have to consult my previous sets of Powersheets, but I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever set an intentional goal around using my creativity before. During the reflective process that I went through in December I kept noticing a theme of things that weren’t necessarily fitting into the other threads I identified. Things like: brainstorming, doodling, crafting, creating pretty things, getting words on paper, scrolling through Pinterest, colors + patterns – these were all things that “fired me up” but didn’t really have a home in my other goals.

Eventually, it clicked that these are the things that I incorporate into my life randomly, with very little intention, but they all built a sense of motivation, calm, and reflection for me. They are the things that help support all of my other goals, and they allow me to be creative. And my fifth goal was born: Creativity.

———-

The big picture goal: I am a creative, well-rounded individual and I will dedicate time to using my gifts.

This matters, because: Creativity keeps the blood and motivation flowing, and create new opportunities to share with others.

Some action steps: |create + maintain a EJBlog content calendar | set aside time for writing | get out my markers + doodle | try new things for EJBlog | create a reading list for the year | try new recipes in the kitchen | create a space for yoga + meditation at home | take more pictures | create a list of motivators for when I’m feeling stagnant | maintain weekly posting goals for EJBlog | create a list of home projects I can do |

Prioritizing time for creativity can seem silly, like what adult should make time to pull out their markers and draw? All of them. That’s who! Or, whatever your version of marker doodles is. Make time for your marker doodles!

Untitled design-6

Damn Moon Energy + January 74th

I haven’t done this in a while, writing just to write, that is.

Usually, I am a week ahead of time in my posts for the blog, but procrastination, and other priorities just kind of took over last week. Maybe it was the Full Wolf Blood Super Moon Eclipse thing that happened last weekend. While I consider myself a pseudo hippie, and maybe just a little bit witchy, this moon energy has been so interesting.

I went from the new year excitement and motivation to a slump of boredom and…just…real life. Week two, back to reality seemed to dish out similar symptoms to everyone I work with. We all were just not quite as vibrant and motivated as we had been the week before. Snow was coming and the magic of new resolutions and holiday break conversations have melted away.

Then it snowed. A lot. Southeastern Michigan got about 6 inches of snow in about 18 hours, and it just felt so soothing, things got quiet, and the world turned white. My energy shifted to re-centering myself, continuing to clean and simplify at home, and focus on what I am cultivating for the year. I did yoga, meditated, watched a lot of Top Chef, cooked, wrote out birthday cards, wrote for the sake of writing (not sharing), journaled, spent time with my husband, played in the snow with the dogs, read a little, and did little things around the house that I’ve been putting off.

Then the damn moon energy started creeping in. This just got weird. I have no specific words to describe it – people were on edge, I was feeling restless, I laughed a lot, my jaw dropped a lot at random things that happened, I got angry, I was lazy, and the world just seemed off. The universe creeped in a few times, reminding me that times like this are a test of everything else I’m trying to build into my life. It’s easy to reflect, meditate, and take care of myself when I’m feeling motivated, but it’s a whole other thing to do it when I’m not feeling motivated. Lesson learned, universe, lesson learned.

While it feels like it’s January 74th, this month brought a rollercoaster of emotions and insight for me. It was the start of something new, not just a new year, but a new energy for myself, a new space that I’m carving out for myself. Letting go of what was dragging me along, and gripping onto the things that will lift me up. It’s been a strange transitional month, but I’m grateful for it, and I’m grateful that it will be coming to an end soon.

We’re coming for you, February.

 

Yoga for the Bigger Body + Home Practice

I’ve seen the looks when I mention to people that I practice yoga regularly. I’ve felt the surge of insecurity as I walk into a class by myself. I get it, when you think of “yoga” you don’t think of someone with a bigger body. But, guess what? Yoga is for every body.

Yoga is, quite literally, the only form of movement and exercise that feeds not only my muscles but also my soul. An hour practice is about breathing, listening to your body, and making room to do more. It’s not about pushing, or grunting, or doing the best in the room. Yoga is about finding your edge and getting comfortable there, inhaling to find length, and exhaling to see if you go deeper. Your edge is your business.

Does a bigger body make some poses more difficult? Absolutely.

Part of the yoga experience is to find the modification that fits your body, if you can’t hold yourself in plank, drop your knees – you’re still working your core.

Yoga is about awareness, listening, and honoring as you move. That has nothing to do with the shape or size of my body. Some of my favorite poses are:

Warrior I, Warrior II, Tree, Mountain, Cat/Cows, Balancing TableDownward Dog, Triangle, Spinal Twists with arms in T, Forward Folds, Sun Salutation Series, Goddess, Chair Pose (& with a twist), and Extended Side Angle. Well…and, of course Savasana.

img_2835Typically, my yoga practice happens outside of my home. I take free classes at work as part of a community program, and have a membership at a local studio. I’m spoiled by our free classes at work, our instructor is amazing and very flexible with her classes. When she walks into a room, she takes a scan and can throw together an amazing practice on a whim that works for everyone. Sometimes, when I go to other classes, I find that the set flow doesn’t work for me. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just less predicable. So, I’ve started practicing more at home. Here are some of my tips for creating a successful home practice.

Where Matters. Where you practice at home matters a great deal. You need a space that is relatively quiet, has enough room for you to spread your arms wide + put your legs in the air. If you can, find a spot without carpeting. Yoga poses are significantly harder on a mat that is on top of carpeting.

Create a calming atmosphere. I turn on just enough light to be able to see, put some essential oils in my diffuser, and put on my Hippie Shit + Yoga playlist. If you need to, close yourself off, Bruno and Winnie are notorious for thinking me sitting on the floor is an invitation to play.

Guided or No? Decide if you’ll practice with a video or guide. Sometimes I need someone to tell me what to do, how to do it, or to push me further. Some days, I just want to feel it out for myself. Yoga with Adrienne is a great resource for people that are looking for something specific. I really enjoyed her Yoga for Sciatica when I was struggle with getting moving again after injuring my back.

Release Expectations. Take a second before you start, close your eyes, and release your expectations. You’re not a yoga superstar, that’s cool. You’re just a human, at home, taking care of your mind, body, and soul. Own it, and just enjoy. If your dogs/kids/husband/neighbor/mother/imaginary friend come bursting in during the middle of warrior I, just smile and keep moving. Life happens.

Warm Up, Yoga, Savasana. Don’t skip your warm up and savasana. Your body needs to build up to your poses and cool down after working hard. Just because you’re at home and it feels weird to be laying on the floor doesn’t mean you skip cooling down, take a minute or two for savasana. Slowly come out of your practice, thank yourself for coming to the mat. Say “namaste” out loud. Be grateful you showed up.

Big, small, curvy, straight, tall, short, love handles, strong…whoever you are, there’s yoga for you. You might just have to create it for yourself.

Namaste, friends.

The love and light in me honors the love and light in you.

Untitled design-6

 

2019 Goal Setting Series: Community.

I won’t lie. This topic has been difficult for me to articulate into words. The social construct of | C O M M U N I T Y | is hard to nail down into a few words or action items. Enter the all-mighty Google.

| C O M M U N I T Y | a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristics in common. Also, a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

I suppose part of the difficulty is that in the age of social media, we claim community in…well…everything. A Facebook group about your favorite show? Community. Your Instagram followers? Community. The group of people that liked the same photo as you? Community. It’s not a bad thing, far from it actually. But, it does challenge how we honor and value our personal connection with those around us.

I spent the majority of 2018 very lonely. I wasn’t alone, physically, but I was longing for a sense of community after being part of, what I now understand as, an artificial community. I thought I had found my people, that I was finally surrounded by supportive individuals. I wasn’t. The aftermath was rough, and it was even more difficult to understand why it was so rough. Eventually, I understood and that understanding drove my desire and goal to create a meaningful community in 2019.

———-

The big picture goal: I have a community of people that I trust, honor, and celebrate.

This matters, because: Life is difficult and having a loving community is a form of self-care. Having reciprocal trust in individuals that will hold you up and that YOU can hold up is what life is all about.

Some action steps: daily gestures of kindness + love | volunteering | fundraising for causes that I care about | filling an address book + birthday list | take more photos with people | schedule time with people | send birthday cards, track | celebrate important milestones for my people | know/love/honor my tribe | create a leslie knope style celebration calendar | be a source of L I G H T.

I am hopeful that by building a community around myself, I will be less anxious about social situations, and will celebrate success by hosting people in our home during the holidays.

What will | C O M M U N I T Y | like in 2019?

Loving | Celebratory | Caring | Trusting | Active | Positive | Supportive | Thoughtful

—> For more in my goal setting series, go to the original post here.

Untitled design-6

Self Care + The Winter Causebox

It’s 2018, (well, for 3 more days) so we all know the importance of self care. It’s the oxygen mask theory – you must put your mask on first before helping anyone else with theirs. Self care is about taking care of your mind, body, and soul – everyday. Not just when you find a couple extra minutes. It is not selfish and it is not a secondary priority.

One of the reasons I decided to subscribe to Causebox is because, while all of the products they included in their seasonal packages are from charitable, sustainable companies, they are also great self care tools. Here’s how I’m using my Winter Causebox to take care of myself.

First and Foremost the Jade Facial Roller from Luna Nectar. I was very skeptical of rollers, until I started using one. I keep this at my desk, which is where most of my facial tension builds as I am sitting at my computer. I roll over my jaw line all the way up to my temples with the larger end. The smaller roller I reserve for under my eyes and around my nose. I feel an immediate tension release and as far as I’m concerned that is well worth the price of the entire box.

While we’re speaking of the face, the Klei Detox Facial Steam smells like heaven! I love the idea of using a sprinkle of the spearmint + floral mix with some hot water while hiding under a towel for a few minutes. It’s a natural sauna for your face, opening up your pores and giving your skin time to release what’s trapped inside.

The LSTN Marble Crescent Bluetooth Earbuds are more than gorgeous, and will be a great tool as I start working out on a more regular basis. Because of the loud nature of my house I have thought about using them while practicing yoga at home, just to block out the noise of the world around me.

The Winter Causebox also includes:

  • A Siizu Poncho made specifically for Causebox. While ponchos aren’t really my style, I keep my cream, gray, and pink striped poncho on my desk chair to keep me warm as I work. It’s incredibly soft and cozy, sometimes it makes not cuddling up for a nap…well…difficult.
  • A stunning Idlewild Co. 2019 Planner. As a planner snob, I can officially declare this thing absolutely gorgeous and well formatted. It has both weekly and monthly layouts, stickers, and note pages.
  • Each Causebox also included either Matr Boomie Vitana Earrings or necklace. I have the earrings and can’t wait to find an outfit and occasion to wear them out and about.

—> For a link to Causebox to subscribe, go to my Products + Causes page.

Untitled design-6

How to Survive the Comparison and Hustle Trap

I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the last couple of years there has been an influx of pro-hustle boss babes circulating the internet and social media. These babes are passionate, loud, and charismatic. While that energy can be encouraging, especially when you’re losing motivation for your dreams, it can also be toxic. The idea that, in order to be successful, a 24/7 hustle is required, can be poisonous to your mental health (and your productivity). Guess what, most of us will not be rich and famous for our passion projects. But listen to me now:

THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD STOP DOING WHAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT!

The highlight reel that is social media does not provide you with the insight of the struggles of those that have managed in order to turn their passions into a reality. Social media cons you into thinking that everyone has figured it out except for you. Here’s another truth bomb for you, those perfect social media feeds…they are fake. They are made up. The people that are successful are working hard, in their yoga pants, with pimple cream covering up their acne, while the laundry piles up behind them. It’s not pretty, but pretty is what engages people on social media. DO NOT compare yourself to the highlight reel.

You are an independent, strong, gifted, and passionate individual. Honor that by:

Taking a break. As much as I love my Rachel Hollis and Jenna Kutcher, there comes a point where you  just need to stop listening to outside sources. It’s really okay if you don’t wake up at 4AM just so you can be productive in the morning. IT IS OKAY TO SLEEP. As a matter of fact, it’s imperative that you sleep. The beauty of Instagram is that you can “mute” anyone you feel like you need to take a break from. It’s 30 days where you don’t see their posts, just long enough to maybe miss their spunk and energy.

Putting yourself first. It’s okay to have 18 hour work days, shit, sometimes it’s fun to have that much focus on something you love to do, but GIRL, take care of yourself. Eat good foods, sleep when you need sleep, get up and move around, and allow your brain to rest. One of my 2019 goals is to take time to reflect and recharge everyday. No screens allowed. But yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, or pampering are encouraged. Every. Damn. Day.

Be grateful. Start your day with an attitude of gratitude, track the things that you’re grateful for in a place that you can peek at throughout the day. Each month, I use the notes pages of my planner to track 100 things I’m grateful for. Some days I write one thing, and some days I write 30 things. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in life, there is always something to be grateful for. When you need a little mood recharge, take a look at your gratitude list. Soak in the gratitude.

Using your gifts. You are blessed with many gifts, use them. There will always be someone that is better, richer, more famous – that does not impact how blessed you are. Use your skills and passion for your own wellbeing, or share them with others, but don’t, under any circumstances, hide them because someone else out there is also gifted. There’s enough room for both of you.

Encourage Others. Share the reality of your life with others. Instead of contributing to the hustle and comparison trap, help keep others out of it. If you’re struggling, be open about it, celebrate your progress and your challenges. People will be encouraged by your willingness to be transparent. Genuine engagement far exceeds fake social media profiles.

Untitled design-6

 

2019 Goal Setting Series: Reflection

Reflection is a powerful thing.

As individuals we have the ability to make significant changes to how we life our daily lives, but I believe, in order to make progress reflection is necessary. It’s not an easy process, reflection brings up the good, the bad, and the ugly, and in order for reflection to be successful you have to be brutally honest with yourself. That takes guts.

This December was the third year in a row that I used the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner to reflect and plan for the year ahead. As I started this year’s reflection process I was coming out of a relatively negative space, personally. The path that the PowerSheets “prep work” takes you through requires you to actually sit down and identify (and ultimately, fight) your demons. This was the first time in three years that my demons were of my own making. I wasn’t planning for or recovering from a year that would be associated with my husband’s bone marrow transplant.

2017 was all about preparing for and getting through his bone marrow transplant.

2018 was all about recovering, dealing with trauma, and getting back to “normal”.

2019 will be about me.

Ultimately, the last couple of months have been about really figuring out who I am without my trauma branded on my forehead. Going through the prep work made me realize how in 2018 I was doing anything I could to cover up my true self. It will take me more than a couple of weeks to figure out the root of that, but I have a theory:

Blending in and getting other people’s approval is easier than figuring out who you actually are and following your light. Fitting in is easier than being an individual.

47681252_10105384569721214_279845504773259264_o.jpg
In 2019 I am saying NO to:
COMPARISON, not prioritizing my health, blaming others for my feelings, gluten (LOL), trying to be someone else, gossip and fake relationships, sharing only the “highlights” on social media, making excuses for laziness, and buying shit I don’t need.

In 2019 I am saying YES to: Hobbies (whether or not they turn into a business), volunteering, positivity, loving my people well, reflection, writing, growth, listening to my body, social media detoxing, pushing myself, time with family, honoring who I am, self care (and self love), trying new things, saving money, spending time outdoors, creative projects, honoring and celebrating my marriage, and celebrating people, occasions, and progress.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of the themes and goals that were built out of the reflection and prep work process with my PowerSheets. I am hopeful that this will not only bring me a sense of accountability, but will also strengthen my passion for progress over perfection.

Upcoming Posts: Me, Home, Community, Career, Creativity, and Marriage

Untitled design-6

TBT | One in the Crowd |

“Standing in a dark, crowded room you can feel the anticipation from the crowd. People are filing in, slowly staking claim on their spot on the floor. You watch the room fill in around you, as the lights go down and suddenly this room full of strangers are instantly connected as  the atmosphere in the room is directed toward the stage. Your favorite musician has taken the stage.


Usually, I am not one to enjoy a concert experience. Crowds make me anxious, the words “General Admission” just make me think of sweaty crowds of people spilling beer, and most of the time the music doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does on the record. There is one exception to this, for me. I will travel far distances to be in the crowd at an Andrew McMahon show. His music has been a huge part of the last ten years of my life.

It started with one song, showcased on my favorite television show and a trip to the music store, back in the days we had music stores. I bought the Jack’s Mannequin Everything in Transit album and it remained in my car’s CD player for the majority of the life of that car. I knew all of the words to every song and felt a connect to the music that I had never felt before. When I realized they would be in Detroit for a concert that winter, I immediately bought tickets for my sister and I for Christmas. Little did I know, she had the same idea. Thankfully my mother managed to make sure only one of us purchased the tickets.

Waiting in line on that freezing February evening, in downtown Detroit, saying I was annoyed would be an understatement. We were in line blocks away from the venue surrounded by screaming teenyboppers. It was the first concert I had been to in a venue that primarily had general admission, no chairs or tables, just a room full of bodies. We found an elevated spot to call our own and waited, for what seemed like hours, for Jack’s Mannequin to take the stage. The crowd erupted once Andrew walked to his place behind the piano and before I knew it I was in for the most impressive show of my life. You can tell, by the way Andrew performs that he loves what he does, he has fun, he jumps, dances, and practically beams from behind his mic. I was hooked.

I didn’t realize at the time but, later my connection to this man and his music would only strengthen as I learned about his battle with leukemia. In his early 20s, Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia and ultimately underwent a bone marrow transplant. Before a few months ago, I had no idea what that meant and couldn’t relate to the year his life was put on hold.

Since that first show I have seen Andrew McMahon perform three other times, once just this last weekend in Grand Rapids. My sister and I drove the 143 miles on a Thursday evening to pack in with the rest of crowd to see Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness perform, and for a couple of hours we were all transformed to an alternate universe, listening, singing, dancing, and laughing.

The week before we left, I found myself sitting at home browsing the list of documentaries available on Netflix. I came across “Dear Jack” the film about Andrew’s battle with leukemia. I spent the majority of the following hour crying as I watched this musician that I adored go through this fight I knew inevitably would be something I’d watch my husband go through. I was thankful for the opportunity to see it, but also terrified. Everything became very real, very quickly.

It was oddly comforting to see that the man who made my favorite music knew about this world and used his experiences to push forward in his art. It wasn’t a coincidence that I found myself, new concert t-shirt in hand, standing in a room full of people listening to his story all over again. Eleven years post transplant and I was one of the many in the crowd, cheering him on. As usual, there was a table in the back of the venue taking registration for bone marrow donors. With tears forming behind my eyes, listening to the music of my favorite musician, I joined my sister at the table and officially became a member of the bone marrow donor registry.

I turned back toward the stage just in time to hear his final song, one of my favorites and savored the moment. The moment my love for music became a little bit more.”

This post was originally posted in July 2016, to read more about The Dear Jack Foundation, go to my Product + Causes page.

Untitled design-6