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.

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My Thirty-Fourth Year

Today is my thirty-fourth birthday.

I’m not a big birthday celebrator, especially considering how close my birthday is to the holiday season. Two weeks, to the day, from Christmas Eve. As a kid, it kind of felt like an extension of the holiday season. As an adult, it’s more like any other day. Which, I suppose is similar for most.

Today, I’m going back to work after over 21 days of vacation, quite frankly, 21 days of being at home is a few too many. I’m ready to get back to a routine and some normalcy. Don’t get me wrong, endless Netflix binges, hanging out in my yoga pants, and constant dog snuggles were amazing, but dude, homie needs something to do!

One of the benefits of having a birthday in early January is that when I set intentions and goals for the year, it’s like two birds, one stone. 2019 will be the year of | E M I L Y | – in case you didn’t already know. Maybe it’s a nice gift from the universe that for my birthday, I am going back to normal life with a new intention, goals, and foundations for the year ahead. Thank you, Universe.

my thirty fourth year

This year, my birthday wish is simple.

Health for my family + friends, the ability to continue growing + learning, and the luxury to continue planning for the future.


Here’s to another trip around the sun!

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Why “Light” is my Word of the Year

What F I R E S you up?

Stop. Take a second. Think about it.

What fires you up? What are those little things that fuel you to make what matters happen?

What F I R E S me up? creating pretty things | jamming to good music | color + patterns | supporting communities + causes + the world | giving gifts + writing love notes | family time | laughing with my tribe | talking with like minded people | brainstorming + strategy | yoga | getting words on paper (or a screen) | facilitating conversations

light + book

These are the things that I want to build a life around, they are what make me feel like I have stepped into the truest version of myself, my light. Rebecca Campbell explains “light” in her book Light is the New BlackWe each have a light within us waiting to guide us home. Our soul purpose is to shine this unique light in a way that only we can. In doing so, we spark something in another and inspire them to do the same.” 

To me, Rebecca is showing us that the things that fire us up and make up our light are gifts. They are our gifts that are meant to be shared with others. So that list, it’s my guiding foundation for the year ahead, I want to focus on cultivating opportunities to use my gifts, growing, and honoring them.

When it came time for me to chose a single word that would exemplify my year, I had three words in mind. Honor, growth, and light. My goal is to honor the person I am, be comfortable and ambitious in my growth, and to follow my truest light.

Honor | High respect | esteem |  integrity | worth | reliability

Growth | developing | maturing | expansion | progress | blooming

Light | Stimulates sight | ignite | make something start burning | illumination | bright

When it all gets filtered down into one word, light is what I’m working toward in 2019. 2019 is for stimulating sight, igniting, illumination, and brightness. 2019 is for L I G H T.


So, did you take the time?

Did you think about what fires you up and how you can use your gifts in 2019? Because you have them, and they are there to be used. In an effort to sound like your resident hippie guru – follow your light, my friend, follow your light.

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8 Lessons I Learned in 2018

The last 364 days threw a lot of different things, people, emotions, situations, and issues at me. Some great, some initially perceived great, and some… just plain ugly. Looking back on year I realized just how even at the age of 33 there are lessons to be learned.

1. Not everything needs a social media picture or caption. Social media is so consuming that I have started forming habits where whatever I do, I think about how I could caption it if I posted it on Instagram. It isn’t pretty, but it’s reality. I am working toward adopting the philosophy that: “yes, if something happens and it wasn’t posted to social media that it was real.”

2. Money demands responsibility. Not respecting the value and necessity of money is immaturity at its finest. The thought that having spending money for whatever you want and remaining ignorant of the impact it has on your budget, credit, and ability to succeed is irresponsible. Which brings me to…

3. Things + food don’t satisfy emotional needs. Buying crap you don’t need or eating food your body doesn’t need do nothing positive for your emotional stability. Instead it creates an illusion that you can rely on these external things to be happy or content. Instead, imagine how much more satisfied you’d be with a body fueled by healthy foods and regular exercise and a bank account that allows you to pay your bills and go on vacation.

4. Some relationships aren’t meant to last forever. About halfway through the year a few of my relationships took an unexpected turn. At the time it bordered on devastating, I was hurt, obsessing about what I had done wrong, and lonely. It took me several months to realize that not all relationships, no matter how crucial they were at one time, are meant to last forever. I created my own version of closure.

5. Negativity is toxic and contagious. Constant negativity is not only toxic to yourself, but also those around you. It sucks the life out of a room and infects everyone around you. Why waste the effort on trying to not be positive? Don’t be a soul sucker.

6. My marriage is worth honoring with time, effort, and energy. Being married for eight years, going through the accelerated lifestyle that Justin and I have had to endure has certainly taken its toll. As our lives became less chaotic it became apparent that we also had to get out of our role of patient and caregiver. Our marriage is a partnership that deserves our time, effort, and energy. Our partnership deserves to be honored.

7. It’s okay to still not know “what I want to do when I grow up”. People are constantly growing, learning new things, and discovering new passions. The 40-year career with the same company is no longer the standard, and that’s okay. Instead of trying to force a single job title, I’m choosing to grow and utilize my gifts in my career.

8. I don’t have to be everything. I want to, oh do I want to be everything. But I can’t. It’s impossible and, quite frankly, exhausting. I don’t have to be everything; I just have to be me.

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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.

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The Paff Zoo

There are days when this house feels like a three (or eight) ring circus. We have dogs that bark at everything, play by snorting at each other, and ring in circles around the house. There are also cats that demand food 24-7, knock things off of every surface imaginable, and like to make paper turn into confetti. Most days I want to lock myself in my bedroom and just give them run of the house. Also on most days: I want to snuggle the shit out of them.

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog thinks I am.” — Author Unknown

enhanceGus Gus, named after the mouse in Cinderella was our first pet. We adopted him after our honeymoon from a shelter that was showing at PetSmart. He was a tiny little guy,  named PhanTOM. Hated the name, LOVED the little fur ball. He is my little Tony Soprano, a giant (22lb) that runs this house silently from his safe little corner. He is scared of just about everything, but loves his people and tolerates the rest of the animals. He loves to hang out in high places where the dogs can’t bother him – the cat tree, kitchen counter, dining room chair, or any ledge he can find. His favorite thing is getting brushed by Justin and scratches on his head.

27709866_10104626449789634_2518932883472809262_oAllie was adopted in a rather interesting way. She was a test animal for the veterinarian technician school my sister was attending – she even has her ID number tattooed in her ears. At the end of the semester she was the last one left for adoption, if she didn’t find a home should would have been put down – we picked her up the next day. With of all of her experience with humans she was so friendly and sat comfortably in my arms on day one. Allie is the welcoming committee for the Paff house – always the first at the door to demand  greet visitors for some scratches and pets. She is the one that wakes me up every morning around 4AM to eat, and will knock over everything we own to do so. I consider her Gus Gus’s enforcer – she has no problem batting the dogs in the face when they want to play or standing next to them to look out the window.

IMG_2090Bruno is my first dog. Quite frankly, I had very little desire to have a dog until we adopted Bruno. Justin grew up always having a dog, so I knew it was important that one day we welcomed one as part of family. When my cousin had adopted a dog that they couldn’t keep, we jumped at the chance to bring him home. His past is a mystery, but as soon as I saw him I fell in love. Bruno is the sweetest soul I’ve ever met – as I type this he is laying next to me, with his head resting on my knee. He helped comfort Justin and I as we went through our most difficult phase of life and can melt both of us with a single head tilt, wag of his tail, or command executed. If Justin is my human soulmate then Bruno is, most definitely, my animal soulmate.

IMG_2601Winnie (the bish) was named after my favorite character on the show New Girl. She is quite a character herself. She was found on a cold November morning, chained to a fence in a park when a coworker’s husband was walking his dog. After waiting an hour or so he brought her home and took her to the vet to see if she was microchipped. After a day of trying to find her owners Justin and I decided that we would bring her home. She was tiny, malnourished, skittish, and attached to her new humans. I compare her to the Sour Patch commercials where the giant candy goes from sour to sweet and the human falls in love with them all over again – that’s everyday with Winnie Girl. She definitely challenges us more than any other animal we have, but she is making progress. She jumps when we ask her not to, she eats our privacy fence to see her friends next door, she has eaten numerous Christmas ornaments, and has left proof of her house-training process all over our living room carpet. But she snuggles like a champ, gives the best kisses, and picks up on commands quickly.

This house is full of craziness, animal fur, dog toys, and furniture that has been worn in faster than necessary. But this house is also full of love. A lot of love.

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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.

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

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5 Things Hiring Managers Look for in a Resume

Dreading resume writing is a universal past time.

We all dread trying to make our years worth of work and accomplishments into an impressive list that screams “HIRE ME!” – even as someone who writes resumes for other people, I dread when mine needs an update. Dear Hiring Manager, can’t you just trust that I’m awesome?!


As a hiring manager, I know the power of a well written, focused, and (dare I say) skim-able resume when selecting candidates for an interview. In my experience, here are the top five things I am looking for when you send in your resume.

1. A Cover Letter. I know…it’s not technically part of your resume, and let’s face it, the cover letter is the hardest part of resume writing, but a cover letter is imperative. A cover letter is your opportunity to highlight the aspects of your experience that align with the job description. The cover letter is how you tell me your experience selling t-shirts at American Eagle translates to the job of Marketing Manager.

2. Accomplishments, Not Responsibilities. You resume is not an opportunity to condense your current job description into fewer bullet points. Don’t tell me what you were responsible for doing, tell me what you actually did – highlight your accomplishments.

Who would you hire?

Person 1: “Managed the sales team.” OR

Person 2: “Increased sales by 25% through the implementation of individual goals for the sales team.”?

3. Be specific about your skills. Most hiring managers give resumes a quick skim before they decide to move forward with a candidate. Make their job as easy as possible by highlighting your skills all together in one spot. What are the things you’re really good at? Examples: Team Leadership, Training Facilitation, Program Development, Program Evaluation, Social Media Management, Sales, Customer Service.

4. Save and send as a PDF. Unless otherwise directed, always send your resume as a PDF. With all of the different versions of word processing programs, templates, and printers out there, a PDF ensures that the formatting you worked so hard on will translate through any method of application submission. If I receive a resume that I can’t read because of the formatting, it’s going in the “no” pile without a second thought.

5. Keep it UNDER two pages. My rule of thumb is to highlight at least your last 10 years worth of work experience, or your last three jobs. If you have enough of professional experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for, keep the details of other jobs that are not relevant to a minimum. If you absolutely cannot keep it to one page it’s okay to go over onto a second, beyond that you’ve got consolidate or reformat.

BONUS TIP: Ask for someone to proof read for you for formatting and content errors, but double check the details yourself. Make sure your email address and phone number are accurate and easily found at a quick glance. Make it easy for them to get into contact with you.

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Let’s Do This!

Let me set the stage for you a little bit.

It’s a gloomy, December Saturday morning. I am settled in the corner of our sectional in our living room. I’ve always had mixed feelings about this room. When my grandma lived here, she never really used it except for company, so making it cozy while also not feeling like we’ve disturbed the perfect room has been difficult. The baby blue carpet is covered in urine stains from the puppy we brought home a year ago, the front window is covered in dog nose smudges, and there’s little chunks of sticks hanging around because Winnie (said puppy) sneaks them in with her after she plays outside.

Bruno, our almost four-year-old, pit mix is cuddled up at my side, trying to catch some relaxation before Winnie runs over to force him to chase her. The Office is playing on the TV, the Christmas tree is lit in the corner, and the dishwasher is running behind me. I’ve got a cup of Trader Joes’ Wintery Blend Coffee sitting next to me in my “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” mug. My bangs are sticking straight up because they’re fried from my crappy old hair straightener.

This is not your picture perfect, curated photos, search engine optimized, influencer blog.

I’m just a human, who wants to empower other humans to live their best lives, and sometimes that means sitting in a day-old t-shirt, with your bangs sticking up in the air, not worrying about the old pee stains on your carpet that you can’t get out.

Life is about balance, and feeding your soul. But, in order to feed your soul, you have to know what it needs. I’m still figuring that part out, but that’s part of the fun.

So, while I’m figuring it out, here’s me:

IMG_2600I’m Emily. Detroit-ish born and raised. I was born in 1985, the year of Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club. I have a degree in social work, but I translate that into a passion for story-telling, empowerment, and kindness. I have a Master’s degree in sarcasm and afternoon naps.

I knew I was going to marry Justin at 16. We were hitched 9 years later and adopted endless (four) animals in the following years. I take my coffee with a little bit of cream and sugar, but can also slam a Grande Nonfat Caramel Macchiato like it’s nobody’s business.

I love: road trips. diet coke. graphic design. tacos. the office. northern michigan. notebooks. instagram. dry erase boards. crystals and oils. muted colors. thanksgiving. Andrew McMahon. milk chocolate. snarky coffee cups. tv quote conversations. brainstorming sessions. yoga pants. crafting. avacados.

I hate: glitter. cottage cheese. lies. updating apps. grocery shopping. fake tv drama.

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