The #YourTurnChallenge. Day 7.

Everyday this past week, I’ve written and posted here as part of the #YourTurnChallenge started by Winnie Kao. I was doubtful as to whether or not I would actually post every day, but here I am writing my seventh post.

Until today, I hadn’t written to the daily prompt that was provided for participants. However, today’s prompt of what we would take from the challenge seemed like the perfect way to end the week.

Through this week I have learned the following:

-Just write. Don’t agonize on how it will turn out. It will turn out.

-Keep a running list of possible topics somewhere. I keep mine in a note on my phone, so I can always add to it.

-I always had more ideas than I thought once I started writing.

-The feedback was great. I heard from people I talk to every day and people I hadn’t heard from in awhile. I loved it.

-As the week went on, I enjoyed the writing more. Hoping to keep that up as I move forward.

-Each post was worth the time I took to write it, even when it took way longer than I would have liked.

-Eventually, you just have to publish.

A Check In. The Whole30, Day 20

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At the end of today, I’ll be through 20 days of my second Whole30. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Whole30 is 30 days without dairy, legumes, alcohol, grains and added sugar. Basically, it’s a month of eating real food with no funny ingredients I can’t pronounce.

I did my first Whole30 in August/September of last year, and loved the results. Then I fell into the holidays face first and decided the beginning of the year would be a great time to do another. This time, my sister joined me and she’s doing great as well!

The first questions people always ask is, ‘Oh my gosh. What do you eat?!’ That’s pretty simple actually. I eat lots of veggies, plenty of protein in the form of meat and eggs, good fats and a little bit of fruit. All it really takes is a lot of planning and prepping to be a success, and I think we’re worth the time it takes to make ourselves healthy delicious food.

I’m planning on a couple more Whole30s this year, and am going to try to do better in between them as far as how I eat. I’d love you to join me during my next one, or do one on your own! Through both of mine, I’ve learned a few things that keep me on track and actually enjoying my Whole30.

-Don’t be scared to eat veggies for breakfast. It’s part of the meal template of the Whole30. You might get weird looks having a salad with your eggs, but people eat veggies for breakfast in many parts of the world and its vital to working your Whole30.

-Try new proteins! Don’t just eat chicken breast your whole month. Some of my favorites I’ve found are tuna packed in olive oil and lamb shoulder.

-Buy at least Well Fed I, a fantastic cookbook filled with incredible recipes, most of which are Whole30 compliant. And once you do, make the Bora Bora Fireballs and then thank me.

-I know I said plan and prep above, but it can’t be said enough. I make a master menu for each week, shop and then prep on Sunday so I’m ready every single day of the week.

-Listen to your body. The energy doesn’t come right away, so nap when you need to, drink tons of water and let your food do some work. The first week or so of your Whole30 is not magical, so let your body guide you.

-Enjoy your food! Don’t think of what you can’t eat, but really take the time to enjoy the great, healthy food you’ve made for yourself. Focus on how it’s fueling and healing you. Makes such a difference.

I hope you’ll at least consider trying a Whole30 for yourself. It really does change how you feel about food and what it does for your body. I’ll be here to answer any questions and to offer all the support I can!

Best Week Ever

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Did you ever watch the VH1 show Best Week Ever? It was a bunch of comedians/talking heads doing a recap of the pop culture events that shaped the week. I always found it snarky and delightful. All in all, it was a totally goofy show, but it made me laugh over the little things that ‘make’ a week. And it gave me the idea for this post. Here’s why this week was the best week ever…

-Coming home and getting in my super soft Target sweater pretty much every day. And then climbing under the amazing blanket my sister got me for my birthday.

-Spending a few hours in a tiny room with the coworkers I wrote about yesterday. We had a fantastic retreat on Wednesday that got me very exited for what’s coming up this year.

-While having a grumpy sink drain and garbage disposal does not a best week make, the plumber everyone on Facebook recommended does. He was friendly, fast and honest. So Columbia friends, allow me to also recommend Wallace Plumbing.

-My new love of fizzy mineral water.

-Lots of past and present coworkers leaving sweet, wonderful comments on yesterday’s post. They all made me smile!

-Pandora ‘Classical at Work’ radio, which got me through a tough project that I managed to finish.

-This #YourTurnChallenge, which has me writing every day. And hopefully will keep me writing more often.

-Texts from my best friend Jenn, which always make me laugh and often include pictures of the best two-year-old in the whole world.

-Seeing a coworker get super excited about a new platform we just launched.

-An upcoming weekend of relaxation and making good food.

So tell me in the comments. I want to know what made this week the best…week…ever!

The Start of Winter Survival…and a Love Letter

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One thing I find helpful when wanting to write new blog is…wait for it…reading other blogs! I have a few favorites I check in on every day and others I return to occasionally to see what has transpired.

One blog I particularly enjoy is A Cup of Jo. Joanna lives in New York, has a wonderful husband and two adorable little boys. Her life is very different from mine and yet I still really connect with her writing on family, fashion and life in general. She recently brought up the idea of Winter Survival activities to get the readers through until spring. The first assignment: Write a love letter.

Initially, I didn’t really give the idea a second thought. But my brain kept traveling back to it. I was drawn to the idea that it didn’t have to be romantic, just for someone you love. I decided I liked the idea so much that you might even see it again this week. But tonight, I’m posting a love letter to a group of people who make my life amazing…

Dear ladies I work with,

It may seem cheesy to write a love letter to your coworkers, but you all know very well that I am a cheesy person (and also that I love cheese). As the group of people who spend more time with me than anyone, I’m not sure how you do it, but I’m so happy you do.

There are still a couple of you there who were there back when I was just a baby intern. Sitting at my tiny ‘desk’ while I learned that summer, you were kind and fun and I never forgot it. I have known you for over ten years now and I still love you like crazy.

You ladies are like my family. You have seen me laugh, cry and laugh until I cry. You have been there for me when I have been sick, going through tough times and even when I have been grieving. I will remember forever the smorgasbord of food and drinks you brought my family after my dad died. At a time when having to think about meals was too much, you all had us taken care of. Plus, somehow you brought all my favorite foods…impressive.

And oh my gosh the fun. You ladies are so freaking fun! I laugh with you every single day. No exceptions. I love that we are all comfortable enough to be silly with each other and that we know what will make each other laugh. I have had some of the best times of my life being goofy with you, having happy hours with you, and traveling to conferences with you (motorized cooler, anyone?).

Where we work has changed tremendously over the past few years. But I love how hard and passionately you all work through changes, adversity, uncertainty and plain old exhaustion. I have learned so much from each and every one of you and there is a little bit of all of you in who I am today. I cannot begin to thank you enough for making the hours and hours we spend together a true joy. And I love the crap out of every single one of you.

Megan

I Am A Reformed Perfectionist

This is a little post for all of you struggling perfectionists out there. Not the perfectionists who actually manage to keep all the things in order, all the places tidy and all the work delightfully complete (side note: do these people exist?). I’m talking about the perfectionists who crave perfection, who work hard for it, but who often don’t get there and beat themselves up for it. This little post is for you.

I am a reformed perfectionist.

I have spent enough hours that it must add up to days worrying about the ways I’d left things undone. Dishes that didn’t make it to the sink, clothes that didn’t get hung up, mail that didn’t get opened, emails that didn’t get answered. Instead of accomplishing these things, I would let the guilt and disappointment in myself just eat away with me until I finally dealt with the dishes, the clothes, the mail, the emails. I would let things fester but be too tired and unmotivated to get things done. Sound familiar?

Now you might think that I reformed myself by going ahead and doing all these things in a timely fashion. You would be wrong. I just finally did what so very many of us need to do. I gave myself a freaking break.

I stopped letting those little imperfect things eat away with me. I told myself that an imperfect life is still beautiful instead of a mess I should be ashamed of. I can look at a dirty dish and not let it make me angry with myself. I don’t change my sheets every week, my car is a mess and some nights I come home and refuse to do anything except sit under a blanket on the couch while the DVR entertains me. And slowly…very slowly, I have become ok with being that person. I have always been this person, I’m just finally letting that person exist happily.

It’s not always easy, and it takes some time. But I am begging you, fellow perfectionists, to give yourself a freaking break. One thing at a time. Remind yourself that you’re not awful for not vacuuming today. You’re not a bad person because your dinner party centerpiece was two candles and not a lavish table scape.

I am asking you to start letting go, one thing at a time. I’m not asking you to allow yourself to descend into squalor and to start skirting your responsibilities. When you stop having to feel that guilt and disappointment constantly, it opens you up to such amazing things. I’ve noticed over time that it’s helped me focus more clearly on what is truly important in life, devote more time to learning and growing, and I even sleep better (awesome bonus!).

For those of you out there who are struggling perfectionists, join me! I cannot promise you a life of perfection (that’s silly), but I can promise you when you start giving yourself a freaking break life opens up its own little glimpses of perfection that you would have missed otherwise. And it’s incredible.

My Ever-Growing Wanderlust

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I’m a homebody who loves to travel. Growing up, I had the opportunity to travel to many fantastic places from Boston to British Columbia and those trips always left me hungry for more new places. As someone who has settled in to living life in my hometown, travel is one of the most important parts of my life. I even got nervous when I was buying my house and thought ‘this means no more travel for awhile’, but along with my job (I get to travel a few times per year) and other adventures, I’ve still managed to get away pretty often. For me, even just a long weekend somewhere can recharge me in a big way.

Now, I’m in the tourism industry, so I can churn out all sorts of reasons why you should travel. Here are just a few…

-Traveling decreases the amount of cortisol (a harmful stress hormone) in your body

-89% of people feel significant drops in stress levels after 1-2 days of traveling

-Men who take regular vacations have a 32% reduced risk of a heart attack. For women, it’s 50% (ladies, start booking now!)

-There are also tons of statistics on how travel brings couples and families together while strengthening and enforcing those relationships.

So, those are the more ‘sciency’ reason why you should travel. They should be convincing to me enough, but I have my own reasons of course.

-The anticipation of a trip is almost as perfect as the trip for me. The planning, the lists, the packing, the reservations are all exciting pieces of the puzzle that make up a trip.

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-I’m big on solo travel. I love the freedom it gives me to make my own plans and devote my time wherever I like. A solo trip I took to Chicago for Lollapalooza a few years ago was the perfect long weekend and I got to do everything I wanted.

-The world we live in is freaking beautiful. Now I’m no camper (not even close), but getting to see the natural wonders our planet has to offer never gets old. I would go back to Yosemite every year if I could.

-Getting to know the people you’re closest to: My sister, mom and I travel really really well together. We went to Savannah and Charleston for 11 days a few years ago and never got on each other’s nerves (what?!), and I’m so thrilled to travel with them to Ireland next month. We are going to have a blast!

-Getting to know yourself. I’m on a never-ending quest to learn more about the world around me and myself. Now you can read books and take classes, but not much can compare to just getting out there and having experiences. I plan on getting out there and seeing as much of this world as my wallet and my calendar will allow. There are those out there who might ask what the point is, what I’m trying to find by going all these places. To them, I’ll simply remind them…

Bonus reason: Sometimes you meet monkeys…

meganmonkey13So tell me, what are your favorite reasons to travel? Where are you headed next?

At Last…My Three Words for 2015

It’s been a very busy start to the year, so blogging hasn’t been high on my list. But then my lovely friend Sherry posted information on the Your Turn Challenge. I figured I could definitely blog once a day for a week, so here we go!

Each year since 2013, I’ve selected my three words for the year a la Chris Brogan to try to frame my year around a few solid ideas that I can build on each day. Here’s what I’ve chosen in the past…

2013: Make – Move – Shine

2014: Plan – Conquer – Reflect

I could go on and on about what each of these words mean to me, but instead I’m going to keep it simple. Here they are…my three words of 2015.

NOURISH

This year I want to nourish every area of my life. Along with the idea of nourish comes the idea of absorbing as well, so it’s kind of a two-way idea for me. So this year I will…
-Nourish my body with good food. I tried the Whole30 for the first time last year and am in the middle of another. It has completely changed my thinking in how the food we eat affects us in so many ways.

-Nourish my mind by reading. Last year I rediscovered my love of reading and went through 25 books in 12 months. This year I have my sights set on 50 books! Let’s do this, brain.

-Nourish my relationships. As an introvert, I am a terrible friend when it comes to long phone calls and conversations. I’m also guilty of not connecting with my friends nearly as often as I should. This year, I will make a stronger effort to keep in touch, even in just small ways, to feed my relationships.

-Nourish my community. I live in an amazing place with lots of opportunities to help. But I don’t take the time to do it. This changes now.

QUALITY

I ran across a company earlier this year that had a tag line that really caught my eye…fewer, better things. This got me thinking about quality in my life and striving to keep things less cluttered and high level. Here’s what quality looks like to me.
-Quality food. Like I mentioned above, good food leads to a higher quality of life. Plain and simple.

-Quality experiences. I’m a homebody who loves to travel. But rather I’m at home or abroad I want to embrace quality experiences that make a difference in my life.

-Quality things. I used to be the queen of keeping everything. I’ve shifted my focus to match the tag line above…fewer, better things. I want my home to reflect this.

-Quality work. I was promoted back in October and my work load definitely increased. I am determined to continue to churn out quality work. Every day.

VULNERABLE

Oh boy is this a tough one. In many cases, I am as guarded as they come. Then last year I read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and followed it up a few weeks ago with Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. First, I urge anyone to read these books. They are both fantastic and well worth your time. This is the toughest of my three words for me, but the one I will hopefully devote the most effort to. If I’m going to make big changes this year, then I need to be willing to ask for help and allow others to give me that help. Plus, it’s hard to resist vulnerability because as Brené writes:

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So finally, there are my three words and my first Your Turn Challenge post. Here’s to a blog-tactic week and an incredible 2015!

Oh hey, February

Somehow February will be half over tomorrow and I still haven’t done my wrap up from January…oops!

As a refresher, I had three resolutions for January: Make a monthly budget, finish my master bathroom, do a month-long plank challenge. The plank challenge immediately got scrapped because I messed up my shoulder, but it’s feeling much better so the rest was worth it. Now on to the others.

Make a Monthly Budget

I had anticipated that this would be a super-easy, no problem, get it done in an afternoon sort of project. Ha! Instead, it took a lot of looking at where my money goes and dozens of template possibilities before finally making something that I can and will use.

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Ok, I realize this is a little tough to read, but it’s perfect for what I need. It breaks down my income and expenditures into categories, so I can track where I’m spending the most and where I should be spending less. I also like this because it allows me to alter my budget each month as needed. For example, in a few months I can count on needing much less in the furniture budget, so I can scale back there. I also included expenses that are paid out only once or twice a year (car insurance, personal property tax, etc.). Really excited to use this each month to keep myself on track!

Finish My Master Bathroom

Um, my bathroom was a disaster, you guys.

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My counter was a disorganized mess, there was stuff everywhere and don’t get me started on that nasty shower head! Plus, the walls were empty and boring. So, my mom (the amazing Cherie) joined me one weekend to churn out some projects!

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Cherie loves a good template.

We started with the simple project of adding pulls to my vanity drawers. We templated everything out and then drilled the holes. Then naturally, the screws that came with the drawer pulls were too short. So we moved on.

Up next, we put up the shelves I bought at Target. They were even cuter than I remembered!

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Cherie is just so handy!

The next week, I headed to Pier One and found a few little things for the shelves. That plus my mom’s great idea to hang a metal sign instead of sitting it on one of the shelves resulted in this:

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Ah, so soothing.

I said in my original post that I wanted to feel welcome in my bathroom, so now I do. Oh, and the insane mess on my vanity? Boom:

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Look at the beautiful shower head!

And that basket? That’s the only thing hanging out on my vanity except for my toothbrush holder and some hand soap. Pretty successful, I must say!

So, I did it! I actually managed to follow through with the first month of resolutions for this year. For February, I’m already deep into those resolutions and will be reporting on those soon!

February Resolutions:

House a Home: My Dining Room and Kitchen

A Fuller Life: Find A CPA To Do My Taxes

Food & Fitness: Water

How are you resolutions or plans going so far this year? Anything you didn’t expect?

31 Amazing Things

Today, dear readers, is my 31st birthday. I’m celebrating in Oregon with my wonderful best friend Jenn and her fantastic family (I love alliteration, deal with it).

Last August when Jenn turned 30, she created her own reverse bucket list, where she talked about 30 Awesome Things she’d already accomplished in her life. I turned 30 before her, so I figured I’d just go ahead and steal the idea this year.

So here are my 31 Amazing Things that I’ve already done:

1. Run a 5K

With my wonderful friend Amy, post 5K.

With my wonderful friend Amy, post 5K.

2. Buy a house
3. Meet a monkey

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Best. Day. Ever.

4. Attend a film festival

My favorite weekend of the entire year. Every year.

5. Buy a celebrity a drink

Do you guys remember that time we met Rob Riggle?

6. Graduate college

7. Make an entire Christmas dinner

8. Go to Hawaii & snorkel in the ocean

9. Visit Yosemite (pic)

Tunnel View is just everything.

10. Take mom and sister on a trip (pic)

So much seafood in Savannah and Charleston.

11. Accidentally dye my hair red/orange

12. Be maid of honor at best friend’s wedding

So much dancing.

13. Go on a cruise with friends

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On the high seas! Ok, we were back on the river by this time.

14. Eat beignets in New Orleans

Hey Cafe DuMonde

Hey Cafe DuMonde

15. See a show on Broadway

16. Go to Lollapalooza by myself

Three hot days.

17. Get my face rocked off my Muse. More than once.

Rocked.

18. Paint something beautiful

Well, I think it’s beautiful.

19. Wear a feather boa for my 21st birthday

20. Deliver flowers at a hospital

21. Eat lobster in Maine

22. Go apple and blueberry picking

23. Spend a week every summer with my family in a cabin growing up

24. Play blackjack in a casino

25. Take part in a protest

26. See Mitch Hedberg live and meet Jim Gaffigan

Hooooot Pocket.

27. Watch them dye the river green in Chicago for St. Patty’s

The only person there not wearing green. Pitiful.

28. Survive the death of a parent

29. Participate in ZooQuest

30. Sit in the Champions Club at Cardinals game

31. Go white water rafting

I loved getting to take the time to look back and think of all the great things life has brought my way. There were even ideas I had that didn’t make the list! Here’s to creating even more amazing things.

Resolution Time: January

Last week in my three words post, I revealed that this year I will Plan, Conquer and Reflect. I also noted that I had made a giant list of resolutions that I had to pare down and organize to keep myself from freaking out. My three resolution areas (House a Home, Food & Fitness and A Fuller Life) all have one idea assigned to them for each month. Here’s what I’m trying to get done in January.

House a Home

For this area, I was able to basically pick one room of my new house I want to finish each month. To ease myself into this, I chose my master bathroom first.

When I first moved into my house, I had about 85% of it repainted because the previous owners’ paint choices made me want to barf (incidentally the dominant color in the house was barfy looking). The new paint job included the master bathroom, which was a terrible baby blue color. Now, it’s a pale shade of gray that is nice and calming. I also added a white shower curtain that I love. And that’s about it.

Inspiration courtesy of Pinterest.

This month, I’ll try to finish up this small space that I spend a decent amount of time using. I already purchased a set of shelves to be installed above the toilet, so I’ll need to get a few accessories to set those off. I’d also really like some pulls on my vanity drawers. If I feel ambitious, I’ve also considered painting the vanity white, but it’s just not something I’m thinking I’ll get done. I’m also hoping to reorganize how I use the little bit of counter space I have on my vanity so it doesn’t always look like it’s exploded with products. Just these few little changes will really make the bathroom more useful and welcoming. Who doesn’t like being welcomed into their own bathroom?

Food & Fitness

This month’s theme for this area was ‘Planks and Planning.’ I found this planks challenge online…

And then I hurt my shoulder.

What started as a little annoyance quickly turned into some major pain and swelling, rendering me useless at doing planks. I was diagnosed with bursitis and given a lovely sheet of exercises to make it better. Those exercises have become my planks. It happens.

Planning is one of my three words and for this month I really wanted to tie it to meal planning. I eat so so so (lots more so’s) better when I plan out my meals. Something as simple as jotting down a quick menu and doing a little food prep can do wonders not only for how I eat, but for how I feel. I’ve already made some strides in this area and will update you at the end of the month!

A Fuller Life

Buying a new house is not cheap. Not even a little. I love being a homeowner, but it definitely makes you consider your finances more closely. I’ve set up a budget using Mint in the past, but I’m going to be doing a little more research and looking around to find a system that will work best for my life. It’s the resolution I’ve worked on the least, but I’m thinking I can rock it out in one weekend afternoon…I hope this is true.

So that’s January! This month has already turned out to be busier than expected, but I’m excited to keep working toward getting these things accomplished and moving on.

So what are your resolutions this year…big or small! Do you use a monthly budgeting system that you just love? I’d love to hear from you!