Be Empowered; Be YOU; Be Enough

If you’re new here, or if you haven’t been following along over on the ‘gram, then you probably don’t know that in the latter half of last year, I fell head-over-heels in love with barre. More specifically, with barre3, a full-body workout that focuses on doing what you need to do for you.

Now, before you write this post off as a rambling love letter to a workout class, let me say one thing: it is, but it also isn’t.

What this post is intended to be is encouragement, more than anything. So I implore you, stick with me.

January, I often feel, can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of messaging out there during this time of year that essentially is telling you that you aren’t good enough as you are, that you should grab hold of this new year with a vengeance and make changes so that you become “better.” And, in one way, I understand it. I mean, I work in PR and messaging is my life, so of course I get it. But, in another way, I absolutely detest what this messaging is essentially saying.

This year is the first year that I’ve gone into without feeling even the slightest bit inclined to give in to that “you’re not good enough” messaging. I owe so much of that to barre3, and the confidence, strength, and empowerment that I have found since becoming a part of this community. Barre3 focuses on that idea that you ARE enough, exactly as you are. It emphasizes that you are in this workout class for you, not for anyone else.

And I absolutely love that mindset.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for taking steps towards a healthier you. But I’ve learned that the key is doing so in a healthy way, a balanced way, a way that is not reliant on anyone else’s approval. You already are enough – for yourself, for God, and for those who love you most deeply. Once you accept that as your primary mindset, the rest seems so much easier.

You want to eat better because you feel better… you alsowant to have a piece of that brownie because sometimes, the soul just needs some chocolate. You want to move because your muscles thank you when you do; you want to be a lazy bum and finish a book in a single sitting because our minds love that kind of adventure.

More importantly than fitting in that 30 minutes of cardio or eating only salad for a week – take the time for you. Whatever that may be.

Thanks in large part to barre3, I’ve started to look at workouts, and a lot of other things, as my time to fill up my own cup, and I’ve started to see a difference in how I approach the rest of my life as a result of it. For that, I am forever grateful.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to do this by going to a barre3 class… though there is a January challenge I’d be happy to help you sign up for ;). I’m not saying you need to do this by finding ANY specific workout class, actually. I’m not even saying you need a change in mindset.

I’m simply encouraging you to take a look at the goals you have set for yourself this year… the resolutions, for those of you who do that (I don’t). What motivated you to decide upon any one of those in particular? Was it because someone told you that you weren’t enough without striving for that particular achievement; was it because someone else said you need to do that to be better?

My wish for you, through any future goal-setting or effort to change, is to know that you are enough exactly as you are, and that the changes you make on behalf of your own self will be so much more significant, so much more meaningful, than anything you do because someone wrongfully told you that you aren’t good enough.

Trust me, you absolutely are.

2019

Okay. Time for me to own up to the obvious: towards the end of 2018, this blog slipped a bit in terms of its placement on my priority list. For my faithful readers (my mom, my grandparents, my best friends…) I’m sorry for my silence, but you are also among those who know how absolutely nuts the last couple of months of the year got for me. Work was overwhelming — in the good way! — and between that, travel, and spending precious time over the holidays with the most important people, and babies, in my life, it just all went a little wonky. 

So, sorry about that. I fess up. But honestly, I’m not all that sorry because – you know what? – life happens.

(I also do realize that this is very similar to every rambling apology for a hiatus I’ve ever given before. That, I’m not so sorry about either. There are, after all, only so many ways that one can announce “I’ve been busy.”)

That said, I do want to make this blog more of a priority in the coming year. I’m not the resolution type, but I do like to goal set. Tangible goals, that is. Goals that are measured not by their ability to be completed in an arbitrary 365 trip around the sun, but just in general. Goals like “journal regularly,” “be more present,” and “blog more.”

In case you were wondering – yes, those are my 3 goals for 2019.

Now, you might be asking (I am) how the second and third goals work together. How can I be more present if I’m also trying to blog more? The long and short of it is that I want to bring this blog back to what it was intended to be – a place for my own self expression; a place to ramble about things I just might think some other people could care about, things like friendship and love and family. Yes, that means you’ll see less product reviews. Let’s be honest – I don’t spend a lot of money and am subsequently bad at those. No, that doesn’t mean I won’t post recipes or restaurant reviews when I think there’s one in particular of note. And no, it definitely doesn’t mean the travel diaries are going away. I’ve got some good trips coming up this year, one in particular that I am tingling with excitement for, and Lord knows I love those travel diaries, if only for my own self-reflections. And speaking of the Lord (was that a passe way to transition?) you’ll still see me talking to Him, about Him, on here. I can’t promise the regularity with which Testimony Tuesdays once appeared, but I can promise that it’ll happen enough. 

Okay, expectations aside, I’m now here to say what I really initially hopping on to say:

Happy New Year, friends. May the coming 12 months be filled with positivity, grace, love, and accomplishment – especially for those of you who, unlike me, actually are resolution-setters (I admire you).

As for me, I plan to spend the next 12 months working on, as I said, being evermore present, evermore thoughtful, and evermore diligent about documenting all of the good – and some of the bad – that is inevitably to come.

Cheers, 2019.

Fitting Friends In

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Let me preface this with the obvious: ideally, friendship is not something you have to “fit in” to your schedule. However, life is funny, and inconvenient, and uncooperative sometimes and in those cases, friendship, just like anything else, can take some work.

I feel like this is especially the case as us twenty-somethings start to tackle adulthood head-on. Every time I talk to people lately, it seems we’re answering the question “How are you?” in the exact same way: “I’m busy.”

Busyness is certainly something to be acknowledged in our culture, but that’s probably a blog post for another day. Whether it should be this way or not, there’s no denying that our age group is consumed by the concept, the allure, and the stress of being constantly busy. I’ve done a lot of thinking on this lately, and I think it’s a combination of being physically busy, and never turning off. (That said, I’ve made a pact to do “switch-off Sundays,” during which I turn my phone off and take a bath and read a book, a sort of digital detox to start my week off right. It’s done wonders for my mental clarity.)

Anyways, I’m getting off subject.

The point is, we’re all inherently busy, and as twenty-somethings, I think we’re still smack-dab in the middle of the required learning curve for dealing with said busyness. That can take a toll, on ourselves, and on our friendships.

One solution?

Fit friendships in. 

It doesn’t sound natural to have to schedule in fun but, let’s be honest — between work meetings, workouts, church commitments, date nights, and family time, it can be easy to let something slip.

My pro tip: don’t let it be your friendships. 

Community is so important. Time with your best girls keeps us grounded, and offers important perspective we might not get from the people we see each and every day. And as much as I love my group texts, nothing replaces laughing together over some charcuterie and sav blanc.

Or FaceTime. Can I just give Apple a huge shout out for enabling us to stay in face-to-face contact so unbelievable easily? (Actually, I suppose that shout out really belongs to whomever invented the first video chat, and giving the kudos to Apple is akin to thanking Kleenex for creating facial tissue. Man, branding is a tricky business.)

Ramble about video chats aside, I really am so appreciative for them. Sometimes, it’s just not physically feasible to get together in person — for example, due to a certain Shining Twin living a few too many states away. And while that might not be the best example, considering her and I literally work opposite schedules, when we do get a time to connect via video, it’s the biggest blessing. And if that’s what it takes to fit friends in, then by all means, I’ll do it.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at fitting friends in. I’m an ambivert by nature, so while I love, love, love socializing, there are certainly times when I’d prefer to block out the word in favor of curling up on the couch with some tea and Netflix.

But I always feel better after some solid friendship time. After all, spending time with loved ones is just as important as eating well, getting exercise, and sleeping enough.

So fit it in.

If anything, you’ll never be sorry for spending a little extra time with the people you love the most.

5 Ways to Fully Fall for Fall

Like most girls in their mid-twenties I am, basically and unabashedly, in love with the season autumn.

However, living smack-dab in the Sonoran desert doesn’t exactly offer a bunch of puddles to splash in or leaves to pile up to add to the autumnal atmosphere.

Thankfully, there’s Target to help combat that. And, thankfully part 2, pumpkin patches still exist in the desert (but – and this question is directed at anyone who owns, or knows someone who might own, a pumpkin patch… are they grown here? Are they imported in? However they get to the Valley of the Sun, I appreciate it.)

If you, like me, live in a place where the leaves don’t actually change and drinking a pumpkin spice latte seems a little odd with temperatures as warm as they are (here’s looking at you, Southern California), I’ve rounded up some ways the fully fall for fall, if you will:

1. Embrace the pumpkin candles. 

I’ll start with the obvious here. Scent is one of our strongest human senses, and has the power to bring about a plethora of emotions. That cozy feeling of fall is one of them. I’m just saying – the Bath & Body Works fall line is not just hype; it really adds to the atmosphere of things, even when it’s eighty degrees outside.

2. Hey, find some hay! 

No matter where you’re at, fall activities will indeed, inevitably, pop up. I’m sure even Hawai’i has a corn maze or two this time of year. Whether it’s a full-on fall festival, complete with said corn maze and turkey legs and what have you, or just a pumpkin patch on the corner of an intersection, a little hay goes a long way.

3. Movie marathon. 

One of the best things about fall is that it’s the start of the generally festive time of year — and there’s a movie for every moment. Halloween, Thanksgiving, general, golden-leaf loveliness: it’s a romantic setting overall, and makes for a wonderful movie backdrop. So light that pumpkin candle and pop some popcorn for an all-night autumn extravaganza. Personally, I suggest You’ve Got Mail, Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus (duh)and, of course, Remember the Titans. (Before you argue with me on that last one, football season is in the fall…)

4. Road trip! 

Even if you are a desert dweller, chances are, drive a couple hours in one direction or another, and you can find a place where fall actually does exist. For us, it’s only an hour, hour and a half tops, to the nearest trace of foliage. So if you have a free day, hop behind the wheel and go to where the temperature drops and the trees change colors.

5. Find a fall menu. 

You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to gorge yourself on seasonal root vegetables and freshly baked pies. Granted, as much as I love baking, I usually actually do save the pies for Thanksgiving (you can’t beat my cousin’s apple crumble… as long as I don’t pick all the crumble off pre-dinner). Ramble aside, I do love a good seasonal recipe. Pinterest has a wealth of them, and hopefully, you don’t end up on the Pinterest fails hashtag, like I am prone to do.

Combine any pick of these 5 things with a splurge in the dollar section at Target, and I guarantee you’ll be feeling the fall festive spirit. And once you’re in it… it’ll be time to start blasting the Christmas music 😉

*raises apple cider mug* Cheers!

GNO (or in!) Like a Pro

Ladies, I think we can all agree that some of our best times are spent with our best girls. However, sometimes (or, all the time, if you’re notoriously indecisive, like myself), figuring out how to get some quality gal pal time in can be a bit tricky. There’s just so many options — which, oddly enough, tends to feel like there’s nothing to do at all!

So in the spirit of helping out all my other can’t-make-a-decision-to-save-our-lives readers, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite ways to GNO (or in!) like a total pro. No matter the budget, time, or preferences of your squad, any of these are guaranteed to be filled with lots of laughter and plenty of bonding.

Paint & Sip Classes

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These are all over Instagram these days, and with good reason! You don’t have to be Picasso or Monet to have a blast attempting to recreate whatever masterpiece you and your friends have chosen. Add in a few of your favorite sips, and you’re guaranteed to at least spend a lot of time laughing, even if your actual painting doesn’t turn out exactly like you thought it would. (My pro tip on this one – be careful with how much wine you drink if you want to have any hope of making something decent. My cornhole skills might get better the further into our cabin’s Labor Day block party we get… my painting skills… not so much.)

If you’re in the Phoenix area, I’d highly recommend Pinot’s Palette, in Gilbert!

Budget friendly alternative: Host a paint night yourself! Canvases and acrylics aren’t too expensive at your local craft store, and we all know that a bottle of wine at the store is the same price as one glass at a bar. You can find stencils and tutorials for just about any masterpiece online! Just be careful where you do the painting — outside might be best.

Movie Night 

There’s something about keeping it traditional – a chick flick, some popcorn, and your best gal pal. Now, movie theaters are stepping it up and allowing you to get the whole dinner-and-a-movie experience in one place. At the Studio Movie Grill, they’ve got an assortment of delicious dinner choices (personally, I recommend the flatbread) and table service during the latest films.

Budget friendly alternative: Turn on the Netflix, order a pizza, and pop some prossecco or sparkling cider to keep it festive! Netflix released some killer chick flicks over the summer. There’s nothing wrong — in fact, there’s everything right — with binge watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Kissing Booth, and Sierra Burgess is a Loser for the eighteenth time.

Dressed Up Dessert

I don’t know about you, but I love finding a good excuse to get dressed up, and I don’t have nearly enough reasons. But if you feel like splurging, it sure is fun to put on some heels and hit a swanky restaurant (personally, I’m a fan of the resort restaurants) for a glass of something bubbly and a decadent dessert. Indulge your sweet tooth and give your favorite dress some time out of the closet all at the same time.

Budget friendly alternative: Go in the complete opposite direction and make homemade ice cream sundaes in your PJs! It’s just like middle school — only, without the catty comments and awkward phases, thank goodness.

Wine & Cheese 

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This one’s a classic, and for a good reason. And, if you know me, this is my top recommendation for girls night basically every time, because I just can’t pass up a good charcuterie board. The best part is, there’s tons of places in town that offer their stellar cheese boards on special for happy hour! (Check out my post on the happiest hours in Phoenix for some of my top local recommendations.)

Budget friendly alternative: Make your own! Places like Trader Joes’ offer excellent cheese options, and addictive crackers to go with it, all at a wallet-friendly price. The best part of making your own cheese board, too, is getting to decide exactly what goes on it — which, for me, would just be Brie, Brie, and some more Brie.

Do It For The ‘Gram

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Who doesn’t love a good photoshoot? Instagram exhibits are all the rage these days, so grab your gals and head to something like the Art of Ice Cream Experience, where not only can you indulge in all the sweet treats you could possibly desire, but you’ll get some great candids out of it too, perfect for showing off what a great girls night you had to all of your followers! (Because, you know, that’s important these days… says the blogger.)

Budget friendly alternative: Insta-worthy museums can have a price tag, but a plain old wall and your iPhone certainly don’t! Grab some props, whether it’s cheap photobooth mustaches from the Dollar Spot, or your fave stuffed animal that we all know sits on your bed, and stage your own shoot! You’ll have just as many silly shots, and hardly spend a cent!

No matter where you go or what you do, though, the most important thing is that you’re spending some solid time with your best friends… cheers to that!

Back to School: How I Do It, Now That I’m Out

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I haven’t been in school since I graduated from Arizona State back in May of 2016. That’s just over 2 years ago (wow… let me pause for a second to let that truth sink in. It definitely doesn’t feel nearly that long!)

However, despite the fact that I have no reason to purchase such things, I always get sucked in by back to school sales. I’ve always loved school supplies — but I guess now I should start calling them office supplies. Or maybe that’s just another way to justify the obsession.

Anyways.

Like I said, back-to-school sales always catch my eye. How can they not? From the middle of July to the middle of September, it seems you can’t get away from the back-to-school advertising, no matter where you look. (And by the time you do get a break from that madness, all of the fall decor comes out… which is an obsession of an entirely different level, and a blog post for another day.)

This year, I decided that just because I’m not technically going back to school, it doesn’t mean that I can’t capitalize on the mindset.

I think part of the reason I’ve always been pretty gung-ho about back to school — besides the fact that as a bookworm I had an inherently nerdy excitement engrained in me about getting back into the classroom — is because August always feels like my New Years. (More on that in this post.)

That said, I rounded up my top three ways to capitalize on the back-to-school mindset, even if you aren’t on your way back to the classroom:

Replenish your supplies
We all have an office of some kind. Whether it’s in a building full of accountants and lawyers and other PR people, like mine is, or whether it’s in the cozy corner of your living room, like my home one also is, you’ve got a place to sit down and get ish done.

I’ve always felt way more productive if I treat my workspace like an extension of my home (which, when it comes to my living room office, it kind of is). I keep it clean and organized, and I keep its supplies as well stocked as I keep my pantry. That means pens, paper, planners, the works.

And who says you have to be a student to take advantage of the student savings? Grab those pens that are on sale for a dollar and treat yourself to a new planner. You’ll be amazed at how much more organized your life feels once you’ve replaced your dwindling supply of paper.

Set some goals – or check in on the ones you have
Even though it’s not technically the middle of the year, I feel like most people look at the start of school as the halfway point. Kind of like how people look at Memorial Day as the start of summer, even if that’s not officially for another month, give or take. We humans like to take the Gregorian calendar more like a guideline, apparently.

So, while we’re playing with time, you might as well use this halfway point as a check-in on any big goals you’ve set for yourself this year. Or, if you’re a summer birthday like me, or simply couldn’t decide what you wanted to accomplish on January 1, or maybe your priorities have shifted a bit, now’s as good a time as any to reset, and outline new goals for the coming months.

Besides, planners are on sale, so why not add one to your restocking shopping list, and plan out a way to crush the next six months or so? (Until, of course, more planners go on sale at the end of the calendar year. I’m not a big January resolution person, but even I appreciate that there’s two time a year where you can justify buying a new planner.)

Readjust your schedule
Whether you’re on a school schedule or not, summer throws everything off. It’s just a natural time for vacations (thanks to that aforementioned school schedule, which apparently gets engrained in our minds), and in most of the country, it’s a time to spend less time indoors — aka, working — and more time outdoors… unless you’re living in the desert, but I digress.

Regardless, it feels like no matter what, summer is a time when we’re all a little lax with our sleep schedules, our workout regimens, and our vacation time. So take advantage of the fact that half the world is now adhering to the ring of the school bell, and adjust your schedule to one that makes you as productive (and happy!) as possible. Most industries will be in crunch time until the holidays now — weird how that works out, isn’t it? — and while your kid-toting coworkers are adjusting their schedules, it’s worth taking some time to look at your own, as well. For me, that means getting a bit stricter with my running schedule and meal prep, and remembering to take my weekends to actually take a break.

Someday, I’m sure back to school will actually be a part of my routine again, just not for myself. (Side note to anyone that wants to pounce on that comment – that someday is still quite a ways away.) But for now, I’ll take advantage of the cheap school… okay, fine, office… supplies and the refreshed mindset of those around me to readjust and get ready to do some damage to my goals for the next half of the year.

4 Goals for 24

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The older I get, the more I frown upon the idea of resolutions. I think there’s a lot of unnecessary pressure that stems from the concept of a resolution, this gigantic thing that you have to do in a set time period. Don’t get me wrong: I respect the concept, and I know that for some people, it works really well.

It’s just not my thing.

I am, however, a big fan of goal setting. Now, I realize that some may argue that this is essentially the same thing as a resolution, and to that, I beg to differ, and I offer this counterargument: resolutions are measured by whether or not they are accomplished, whereas goals are measured by how much you have accomplished towards it. Say you set a goal to save 500 dollars, and you only save 430… you’ve still saved 430 dollars, and that’s still a pretty darn good accomplishment.

I’ll admit that perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective, but that’s how I like to look at it.

Perhaps the other reason I am not so much a fan of resolutions is because I’m not a big fan of New Years. Beyond its overhyped expectations, I guess I also never really saw January 1 as the start of a personal new year. I’ve always considered my birthday more of a time for reflection and goal setting, as opposed to the arbitrary day that the calendar changes.

So, that said, it’s time to set some goals because, in case you missed it, my birthday just passed (and if you somehow did miss that, you must be new… and in that case, welcome!)

Once upon a time, I set goals based on how I old I turned, but the older I get, the more ridiculous that sounds. I doubt I’ll want to set 98 goals when that time comes.

So, this year, I’m instating a new system, a set of goals based on four key areas in life:

Professional. Projects. Personal. Physical.

And, yes, before you ask, I did intentionally start them all with the letter P. I’m a big fan of alliteration, okay?

Professionally, I want to continue on the same track that I like to think I have been heading. Admittedly, this is the goal I am probably least public about, at least over here on the blogosphere, because those worlds are somewhat and intentionally separate. So for now, I’ll go ahead and leave it at that.

As far as projects are concerned, I want to grow this blog of mine. I’d like to put the effort in and reach one thousand Instagram followers and continue to share a message of balance between faith & life for anyone who’s interested.

Personally, I want to work on my relationship with the Lord. I’ll admit that I have fallen into a pattern of leaning on Him when things get tough, and pulling away when all is going well. That’s an unfair give and take, and that’s not how He wants us to be with Him. He wants all of us, all the time, and I recognize that – it’s just so easy to unintentionally credit your idols when life is going well. So I’m setting a goal to be more proactive and intentional about my time with the Lord in order to further strengthen that foundation.

And when it comes to physical goals, I’m a bit of a broken record. I still haven’t run my first race, and it’s still a bucket-list item. I know I physically can run a 5K – I do it regularly on a treadmill. For whatever reason, though, I’ve always held back when it comes to actually putting on a number. This year, that changes.

Four goals. Four main buckets, if you will, where there’s room for improvement.

Then again, there’s always room for improvement, isn’t there? We can always work on being better versions of ourselves, and whether it’s a birthday or a new year, or you’re one of those lucky people who is motivated to evaluate their goals and progress without a calendar reminder, it’s important to set a course for what’s to come.