East Coast Excursions.

In June 2015, right in the midst of my first quarter life crisis, Southwest Airlines was having a huge sale & I made a split second decision to book a flight to Baltimore. It was $98 round trip, how could I not?! Then I realized, I’d never been to Baltimore and I had no idea what I was going to do there or if anyone was going to go with me. So I started planning. The trip of a lifetime, all by myself. I was going to fly into Baltimore early one Tuesday morning in September, rent a car & drive up the coast. I was elated! I had never been to the East Coast before, so this trip was going to be so amazing for me. My mom decided she would meet me in Maine after 5 days and we’d spend the last 5 days together. I’m so excited to share with y’all my excursions from this trip I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, September 15th: I left Louisville early and arrived in Baltimore around 9:00 am. As soon as I landed, I felt like this was where I belonged. I drove to the National Aquarium and had an amazing morning, talking to some of the employees about potential jobs there and being able to work closely with some of the marine life. There was a beautiful sea turtle who was rescued from the ocean after losing one of it’s feet and they helped restore him back to his full potential. I know zoos and aquariums get a lot of bad press because the animals are held in captivity, but that was definitely a feel good story! Already, I was in heaven. I found an awesome seafood restaurant for lunch on the water and sat outside enjoying every second.

That night, I went to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston RedSox at Camden Yards. That park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! To see a game at every Major League stadium is on my bucket list so I was so excited to check this one off the list! The Red Sox won the game and then I was on my way to stay at the hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was so excited I was actually on this trip that I could barely sleep that night.

Wednesday, September 16th: It was an early morning after a late game as I drove from Greenbelt, Maryland to Falmouth, Massachusetts, making it through 8 states that day. Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I stopped in Philly to see one of the LOVE Statues and grab some coffee. I drove down into New York City, through Chelsea, Manhattan, and the Bronx. I had been to NYC before but driving through was a much different experience than walking or taking a cab everywhere! I didn’t really love the part of Delaware I drove through, but it’s another state I can mark off my list! I made it to Newport, Rhode Island for sunset and I could not be more thankful that I did! The whole town was absolutely beautiful. So quaint and friendly. Peaceful and serene. My destination of Falmouth-Cape Cod was finally reached where I would spend the next two nights. I felt like I was at home, regardless of the fact I had absolutely no idea where I really was. Pure Bliss.

Thursday, September 17th: On day 3, I was scheduled to take a ferry ride to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This was the event I was most looking forward to of the entire trip. Beautiful pictures of Nantucket had been flooding my timelines on Instagram and Pinterest for years and I could not wait to experience it for myself! I woke up extremely early again and drove from Falmouth to Hyannis to the port for Hy-Line Cruises. We went from Hyannis to Nantucket, where I spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering aimlessly through the brick streets and neighborhoods. I never ever wanted to leave. I had lunch at a cute little spot not too far from the port where I had the best lobster roll and the sweetest server. Everyone was so friendly and (seemingly) insanely happy. After being there, it makes me wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. I got coffee from Handlebar Café and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse, where I intended to lose track of time and miss the ferry to our next destination.

Sure enough, I made it back to the ferry and we were on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our port was at Oaks Bluff and I was surprisingly a little disappointed! Maybe there’s just no way it could have lived up to how I felt about Nantucket or maybe my hopes were just too high to begin with. I walked around on the beach for most of the evening and had dinner at one of the places along the river walk. I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t the best dinner of the trip. The beach was beautiful and the sunset that night was single handedly the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. During the ferry ride back, I felt happier than I had felt in years. That night, I stayed in Falmouth again, and fell asleep feeling better about life than I ever had.

IMG_8927

Friday, September 18th: Boston day! One of the most beautifully historic cities I’ve ever been in and I was ready to experience it all. The morning was spent down by the Boston harbor, watching the boats go out and listening to the thick Boston accents from the locals. The best thing about traveling is being thrown in with the locals to see how they do life. I had lunch at Salty Dog at Quincy Market and it was delicious! I walked through the market and watched a magician in the square. I walked up the hill toward the university and sat in the quad to cool off from the heat before visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. There was no game that day so I can’t check it off the list, but I was able to get a ball cap! I can’t wait to go back to see at game at the Green Monster!

Later, I was walking through the mall when my mom called to tell me my grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. She had no details and my mood was instantly turned. I felt completely lost, and for the first time on the trip, I actually felt lonely. I didn’t know what else to do except go back to the hotel, swim some laps and try to wait around for more news. I had dinner at a chain restaurant for the first time on the trip and went back to the hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts to go rest up for the next day.

*I received word that my grandma was in better shape than we originally thought but she still spent weeks in ICU at the hospital in Chicago. I changed the details of my trip and knew I needed to be with her.

Saturday, September 19th: Another early morning- I was going on a whale watching cruise! I headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to take a boat out to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. While waiting to board, I saw a local fisherman bringing in all of the lobsters he’d found on his trip. Being able to hold one was pretty cool! I had lunch at Gloucester House Restaurant, where the food was delicious! I ate so much fresh seafood on this trip it was insane.

We finally boarded for our day trip and it was about a 4 hour trip on a ship from 7 Seas Whale Watching Company. It was a blast! On the way out, it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything around us but out to sea even further it was beautiful and we ended up following three different whales for the rest of the afternoon. There were two grown whales that the captain and guide were familiar with and one calf that had never been seen on an excursion before. It was awesome to see how small the baby was compared to it’s mother, yet it was still gigantic! Going back to my love for marine life- we learned how to identify whales based on specific features they each have, so y’all already know I was just in heaven, yet again. We could not have had a more perfect day for a trip like this. I was so lucky throughout the my whole trip to have perfect temperatures and clear skies.

After we returned to the port, I drove from Massachusetts to South Portland, Maine. I drove through New Hampshire, so the only state in the east I haven’t visited is Vermont! I arrived in Portland after sunset, so I stopped at a Target to grab some nail polish and a few of my favorite things so I could pamper myself a little for the first time in several days! I had Otto’s pizza delivery to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed some down time that night. It was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, September 20th: I woke up even earlier than I had any other day of the trip so I could see some lighthouses in Maine before I had to drive back down to Boston for my flight to Chicago. I visited Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and I still cannot get over how beautiful that part of our country truly is. It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up clearing up early, making for some of the best pictures! I hiked the Cliff Trail for a few hours so I could take in every moment I possibly could that morning.

IMG_9393

After a few hours at the lighthouse, I stopped for lunch and headed back down to Boston to catch a plane to see my grandma.

I spent the next 5 days exploring Chicago instead of the east coast, but being with my family during that time was most important. I drove into downtown each day I was there and ended up going to a Cubs game spur of the moment! Of course, it was a blast! My grandma was happy to see me but sorry I cut my trip short for her. Almost two years later, she’s doing great and I still have the best memories of my first solo trip. I will definitely be taking another trip to the east coast.

IMG_9443

Where should I visit on my next trip there? Favorite things to do in Maine, on Nantucket, or anywhere else? Help me out! I’d also love to hear some stories about people who live in the area!

Also, how many of you guys have taken solo trips? Where did you go? I’m planning to take another solo vacay so any tips you have are definitely appreciated!

Advertisements

How Do You Measure Success?

What is success to you?

The last several months have been quite a whirlwind, between making the decision to quit school & also trying to find a new job that will turn into a career, it feels like I’ve been running around in circles with no progress. When I turned 26 and was feeling completely behind in life, I refused to let myself have another quarter life crisis. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the span of these days & I’ve realized I’m so much stronger in every aspect than I realized and than I ever have been before. I’m still constantly looking for something to keep me busy & no matter how hard I want to, I can’t seem to sleep late & spend the days doing absolutely nothing!

 

*UPDATE: Many of you all know, I have since found a full time job, but am definitely still not where I want to be on my own scale of success.

 

How many of you guys had a quarter life crisis? Make any crazy decisions? I know they’re real yet I know to some of you, freaking out about turning 26 seems ridiculous. I just feel like I should have myself together by this point in life!

 

It seems like so many people ultimately measure success by how much money you make or how high standing in society you are. Over the last year, I’ve realized it’s so much more than that. I admit, money sure does help when times are hard & it seems like more money would bring instant happiness. Of course we all know, sure money can aid in happiness, but it certainly does not create it.

 

Even still, it seems like so many people are worried about how much money they make or how big their house is. Lately I’ve learnned that my success can be measured by how happy I am with the life I’m living & by the steps I take every day to make the best of every moment in my life every single day. I know not every day is perfect and days at the office are often super difficult & just plain draining. But I also know there are people in this world who love their job & who love the career they’ve chosen.

 

I’ve learned that success is best defined by each individual person. To me, it’s measured by genuine happiness & a feeling of accomplishment day in & day out. It’s displayed in the way we carry ourselves from the time we wake up until the moment we fall asleep each day. I know it may be so much harder to see success so simply when you have a family to raise, mortgages to pay & a day job you’re not in love with. What if we all took a step back & revisited one the scariest words we try to live each day? What if we redefined what this word means to each of us, in hopes of easing in to simpler, more fulfilling lives?

 

What kind of advice can you all give? How did you find your passion? What is your passion & how did you know?

 

 

From my experience, success & leading a fulfilling life have so much to do with your morning routine. I used to work at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, working a 9-5, Monday-Friday & for the most part, it was pretty great. I loved getting up at 5 am to go to the 6 am Pure Barre class, walk for 3 miles, shower & head to work! I always carry teeth whitening strips, a green tea bag, my mascara & eyeliner with me & with those few things, I’m always good to go! I have at least one cup of green tea every day because something about it just helps me feel like I can conquer the world! Crazy right? But really. On days that I didn’t go to Pure Barre or the gym before work, I was sluggish and just plain irritable. Very quickly, I realized how important that ‘me time’ before work every day really was.

 

We are all constantly connected via email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever forms of social media we like best. So that hour or so every morning completely for me is always the best way to start my day disconnected from the outside world so I’m able to get myself feeling good!

 

What are some of your morning routines that help get you going every day? What is your go to, no fail item/workout that you have to have every morning?

 

Your takeaway from this one: success is what you make it. Try not to let the neighbors next door or even your sister make you feel inferior about where you are in your life compared to theirs. Everyone is on their own path to success. Work on yourself without worrying about how you measure up to the guy next door. At least that’s certainly what I’m trying to do.

Summer in Chicago

I previously wrote about how much I love Chicago in the winter, so obviously I’m gonna have to talk about how awesome it is in the summer, too!

 

In this one, I’m going to go over the top 5 things to do in the summer in the downtown area in no particular order.

 

For starters, every time I’m there during the summer months, I’m so surprised at how hot it is! I can’t ever get over the heat considering it’s up north and right off the lake! The good news is there’s always a beach pretty close no matter where you are.

 

  1. Architecture Water Ferry down the Chicago River.

This is the best way to see to the city especially if you haven’t been before. It’s a little over an hour long boat ride down the Chicago river and into Lake Michigan to learn about the extensive history and beautiful buildings throughout the city. It’s been several years since I’ve taken this ride, but it was so nice to be out on the water and learning about my favorite city! You can check out Shoreline Excursions for more info on these cruises!

The Wrigley Building.
  1. Navy Pier.

There are truly hundreds of things to do out at Navy Pier. There are several sightseeing cruises or dining cruises that leave from the Pier that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of. One of them is the Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises, which is the company that the Architecture Tour I talked about before is through. They do a great job of getting tourists or even people from the area more acquainted with the city and their surroundings. They also offer Wine Tasting Tours and a variety of others that you definitely need to check out!

 

In addition to river cruises and tours, you can also find tons of places to have lunch or dinner at Navy Pier. They have a food court and a few other restaurants that offer table service. Giordano’s is one to check out for sure!

 

There is also a ferris wheel there, called the Centennial Wheel, that offers some of the greatest views of city you could possibly imagine.

 

They also have many events and exhibits that you should just check their online calendar for the most up to date to on-goings to see what interests you most.

 

  1. Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox game.

Y’all know I would absolutely choose the Cubs games over the White Sox games but I will admit the stadium on the South Side is still gorgeous. Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, is one of the most iconic ball parks in the country and there is no atmosphere on this planet like the one you’ll find in that stadium. No matter if you’re a baseball fan or not, you are still guaranteed to have the time of your life there. I promise. The White Sox stadium has undergone many name changes over the last few years and is currently called Guaranteed Rate Field. I made several trips there when working at my last job and as much as I hated to admit, the field really is pretty. There is a great atmosphere in this park, as well, and I will say the Italian beef is so much better there than at Wrigley. If you can get a ticket to see the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs, you’ll never forget the experience you’ll have that day.

 

Which stadium do you prefer? Why?

 

  1. Millennium Park.

There is always something to do at the park! Catch a concert at their outdoor venue, sit on the lawn for a picnic, visit the Buckingham fountain, walk down the lakefront, have lunch at Park Grill, and you definitely have to see The Bean! It’s also called Cloud Gate and I’m certain you’ve seen pictures all over the place. Standing on the side closest to Michigan Avenue, you’re able to get an awesome picture of the skyline in this mirrored tourist attraction. The list is endless! It’s the perfect place to just lounge around during the afternoon or to get a quick jog in before you start your day. There’s also a new little park area that is pretty fun for kids and adults of all ages.

 

the bean
The Bean.
  1. Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower.

Summer is absolutely the best time to do this with more hours of daylight and less chances of foggy, overcast skies. You’re able to look across the city and out into the lake, as far as the eye can possibly see. Take pictures in the glass bottom Skydeck where the view is phenomenal and certainly one you’ll never forget. Think twice, though, if heights make your knees weak!

 

 

A few bonus places to visit: Eataly (of course!) for gelato and a little shopping, Cindy’s Rooftop Bar (I have yet to go, but from photos I’ve seen, the menu and view are amazing), Shaw’s Crab House for seafood, and the Billy Goat Tavern are some of my favorites!

 

Now plan a long weekend trip this summer and go! Tell me what I should add to the list.

 

What are your favorite places to eat, sleep, and visit in the Windy City?

 

Halo Top. Arctic Zero.

Well, it’s finally time to address one of the more popular debates in the world these days: Artic Zero or Halo Top? Which kind of healthier ice cream option is the best?

It seems like every time we turn around there’s another option for healthier snacking & sometimes it’s just too hard to choose! Plus, when you’re spending $5 on one pint of ice cream, you wanna be able to make an educated choice. That’s where I come in. 

For a little over a year I was all about Artic Zero. I love how icy and refreshing they all are, even the decadent ones like brownie or cookie dough. The flavor is so good and I tried just about every single flavor option they sold in my local Kroger. My favorite creamier flavor is the cookie dough. It has real pieces of cookie dough and it’s oh so wonderful. I also love the pomegranate as an icier option that is so delicious and refreshing during the brutal summer months. They recommend you leave it out for 10 minutes before eating, or they say you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to speed up the process. It is a lot better when you let it sit, but it’s awfully hard to wait sometimes. Artic Zero has a good amount of protein and doesn’t taste powdery or like it’s chalked full of protein. It comes in a pint and has the nutritional values for one serving, as well as for the whole thing. I know we’re not supposed to eat a whole pint of ice cream ever, but when you can eat something that’s so delicious for less than 300 calories that will keep you full, sometimes it’s difficult not to!

I’ve always been one who loves fruity sorbet and sherbet rather than heavy chocolaty ice creams or custards. Until recently, that is.

Halo Top. I was so hesitant to give in to yet another brand of healthier “ice cream” because I really thought that Artic Zero was as good as it was gonna get. Then my sister came home on Weight Watchers and informed me that Halo Top was better on points, a whole lot creamier, and still had the protein that I felt like I needed to keep me full. I hate to admit this, but little sister was right. I cannot get enough. Red Velvet, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Black Cherry, Brownie Batter, give me all of the flavors. I truly need them all. I didn’t even know I liked Red Velvet and last night I looked down and the pint was half empty! If you’re looking for something creamy like real ice cream is, this is definitely the winner. It’s so satisfying and also has the protein I like to have in a snack. It’s just that good. They do recommend you leave it out on the counter for about 15 minutes and it helps to reach the maximum consistency we look for when we need to satisfy our ice cream craving. Just like Artic Zero, it’s really hard to wait, but it’s SO much better when you do. Just don’t forget about it!

Ultimately, if I had to choose, I would go with Halo Top. But I really do think it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re on a program like Weight Watchers, it seems Halo Top is also the better option. But if you’re looking for something icy to cool down or ease a sore throat, Arctic Zero is the way to go, no doubt. If you’re looking to combat the need for a half-gallon of creamy goodness of custard or ice cream, go with Halo Top.

Now I wanna know which one you love! Are there some other new brands that are better than either one of these?

And now of course I need to know your favorite flavors of each so I can try them for myself!

This is one of those posts that I really want all of the advice and recommendations on!

Can’t wait to hear from you guys!

Going the Extra Mile.

“Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.”

How insanely true is this quote? I took this picture after lunch with my parents last week and all I wanted to do was keep running. It ended up being a gorgeous day regardless of it being overcast with a major chance of storms. The perfect temperature for a run, yet there was no one around. I started thinking about how often the path is wide open for us to start working and follow our dreams, whatever they may be. Then it occurred to me how infrequently we advantage of these opportunities. Why? Is it because we’re scared of failing? Don’t feel like putting in the extra work? Too tired when we come home from our day job to work on ourselves and our own goals? There are so many things that keep us from accomplishing our goals, big or small.

It was 2009 when I first thought I wanted to be an orthodontist. I was born with a severe underbite and a crossbite and spent most of my childhood with mouth pieces, face masks, and retainers before having braces in 8th grade. I literally had every kind of contraption to straighten my jaw that you could imagine. And it all worked. My teeth were straight and my jaw was (& still is!) perfectly aligned. I had an amazing orthodontist through those years- he made the process bearable and even enjoyable. I wanted to do for people what he did for me. His passion for his profession showed every day in the office and it made me want to be that. Once he retired, I shadowed a different orthodontist several times. She was not only running her dental/orthodontics  practice alone, but she was a single mom, worked out twice a day, and was seriously killing it every single day. We spent a lot of time together before the office opened and after it closed and it quickly became official- that’s who I wanted to be like. For a few years, I felt that same passion, too. Then it took me 5 and half years to finish my undergrad and I decided I didn’t want to spend 7 more years in school. That’s what I convinced myself, anyway.
Or was it that I was afraid I wouldn’t get in to dental school? What if I wasn’t as good at it as those two were? I didn’t have the most exceptional grades, but I’d visited the advisors at UofL and they were encouraging every time I was there. Still, something in my mind was too scared to act on what I once felt so strongly about.

Then there’s Pure Barre. It was 2011 when I first heard about the studios in Louisville. I wanted to try instantly. I even had a friend who told me I could go with her. I was so excited, motivated, a little nervous, but actually terrified. I started talking myself out of it because it was too far from home, I didn’t look like the other girls there- the list goes on. It was 2015 before I ever even tried a class! This is the perfect example of why it’s so important to push ourselves to our limits because we never know how perfect it can turn out. Y’all already know how much Pure Barre has changed my life in the last two years so I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer.

It was also 2011 when I first wanted to start a blog. Now 6 years later and I’ve actually started one! I feel so proud to have this thing up & running, no matter how successful it currently is. I’ve achieved one of my biggest goals and it feels so. freaking. good.

I’ve always been one to put in the extra effort at work especially. I haven’t loved every job I’ve had, so it definitely hasn’t been easy to give 120% day in and day out. But in my experience, it’s worth it. At my last job, I started out selling tickets at a museum on the weekends during college. Then I started going on the trips with the mobile museum and quickly became the full time manager and Brand Ambassador for the museum. It was an absolute dream job. I moved up quickly and felt successful for the first time in my life. I reached this point because I was reliable, worked hard every day, and made sure to leave lasting impressions on the customers. Obviously not many other people around me had worked like that because there wasn’t anyone else who moved up like I had. And I’m proud to say I’m the only Brand Ambassador that museum has ever seen.

It’s so easy to give up on ourselves and our own goals because so many of us spend every day working for someone else to achieve their goals. I’m not saying quit your day job. I’m only saying take time to prioritize your own life. Time management is one of the biggest things that has helped me do things to benefit myself. Make bettering yourself each and every day a habit.

I challenge each of you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter what it is. Sure we might not succeed the first time or even the second, but we certainly will never succeed if we don’t try. I recently participated in a 5 day boot camp that helped lay out visions and goals for my life and it’s insane how much something like that will help! Write down your visions and your goals, short term and long term. Then write out the smaller steps you’ll have to take each day to lead you to achieve those visions and goals.

Tell yourself failure is not an option and just keep going. Go the extra mile, unlike so many people we encounter each day. You will be amazed with yourself, I promise!

 

Imagine all the things we could achieve if we would just do them. Make yourself proud, you deserve it!

What are you going to do today that your future self will thank you for? Tell me! 

Not Your Average Girly Girl.

Alright, let’s talk sports & television.

I am the biggest sports fanatic that you could imagine- for all the sports! Very rarely can you catch me watching reality TV or primetime TV shows. The two exceptions are Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles. Every Friday at 9:00 pm sharp, I watch Hawaii Five-0 with my dad & NCIS: LA on Sunday nights is a must. I cannot get enough of either show! LL Cool J always keeps my attention no matter what.

Other than those two, though, I’m always watching some kind of sport. In the fall & winter, on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, it’s all about NFL football. Saturdays are for college football & from April through October, baseball is calling my name. Fall & winter also bring on college & NBA basketball & I’m glued to the TV for that, as well. I played golf in high school so I even enjoy watching the tournaments on the weekends throughout the summer! So many of my girlfriends spend their time watching the Kardashian’s or the Bachelor and I just can’t get into them like I get into sports! I love attending, watching on TV, & even playing all the sports. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with reality TV or any other kind of show- they really just don’t hold my attention like sports do. There’s something about the high of the players, of the coaches & of the crowd in each game that I just cannot get enough of!

In the summertime, there is literally no place in the world I would rather be than at the ballpark with friends and family cheering on our favorite teams. It’s my ultimate happy place. Since I was a little girl, sports have been life. See photo from first Chicago Cubs game below. And please excuse the poor photo quality, photography has come a long way since the early 90s.

First Cubs Game, circa 1993.

I’m particularly biased toward the University of Louisville Cardinals for all college sports. I love the Los Angeles Clippers as my NBA favorite, the Minnesota Vikings & Houston Texans for pro football, & the Chicago Cubs as my favorite major league baseball team. When none of those teams are playing, I still manage to find some kind of sport to put on TV when I’m home. You’re probably wondering how on earth I got to be a fan of all those random teams in various places across the country. Truthfully, I’m a fan of certain players on each team & have grown to be a fan of the entire teams. I mean really, who isn’t a fan of JJ Watt?!

I’ve tried watching Netflix series & getting addicted to shows like The Walking Dead or American Horror Story but I really can’t seem to get into them no matter how hard I try. I just can’t keep my undivided attention on the television for that long.

How many of you all love to binge watch shows on the weekend or on snow days? What are your favorites?? Help me! I’d love to get into more shows than the typical crime shows & sports games that I normally watch but I definitely need some guidance.

I do realize I’m at a much different place in my life than a lot of you, considering I’m not raising a family or trying to run a household. I cannot imagine how much stress, time, & energy goes into raising children! With all of the adulting that’s required, I know there’s not really so much time for just hanging around watching sports or any major TV time, for that matter.

The amount that I love sports can’t be that weird, is it? Does anyone else LOVE sports as much as I do? Soccer moms? Dance moms? Although I’m not a mother yet, I really look forward to the day when I’m able to take my children to their practices, games & tournaments, if they opt to play sports or take lessons of some kind.

Tell me your favorite sports teams! Any teams you just can’t bear to watch? What do you do when your kiddos are at practice?

Wrigley
Wrigley Field 2016 Cubs vs Giants

Simple Tips for Healthier Living.

Over the last six months, I’ve been looking at my life & my overall health from a different perspective than ever before. Making big changes & small changes in an effort to just be happy. At the beginning of May, I decided I wanted the whole month to be focused on mindfulness and creating a healthier state of mind, rather than solely working on a healthier body. I figured spending 31 days being more aware of the simple things, paying attention to my breathing and thinking, and being more appreciative of the little things would create habits to be able to continue this lifestyle long after the month ended. For so long I put my main focus on the physical aspect of healthy living and had never even considered the mental and emotional aspects. Crazy right? Unfortunately I think a lot of young people approach ‘healthy living’ this way. I don’t even pay enough attention to the things I’m eating or drinking so I especially wasn’t paying enough attention to clearing my mind.
So here we are at the end of the month and I definitely feel like an improved woman. There are a few things that I’ve been sure to do every single day since May 1st that I wanted to share with you! I know we’re all so busy these days and sometimes it’s hard to take 20 minutes out of the day for yourself, especially in addition to your workout. But you need it! Do yourself a favor and take a little more time out of each day for yourself. Your body and mind will thank you. I promise! Here are a few of the biggest things I’ve incorporated into my daily routine.

  • Start each morning with green tea. No special brand, iced or hot. Add some lemon juice to it or drink it plain. Green tea is a natural diuretic and has been proven to help your belly flatten out when you drink it regularly. It’s also said to improve brain function. The biggest reason I drink it every day is because it honestly just makes me feel better.
    • You could also add cinnamon and apple cider vinegar to your daily cup. This combo has gotten a lot of good press because it can help to lower cholesterol!
  • Exercise. Do 100 crunches, 50 push-ups, go to the gym for cardio & weight work, hit a Pure Barre class, run outside. Anything to get your heart pumping and body moving. Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism and gives you all the endorphins you need to make it through the toughest days at work. Plus, it’s out of the way first thing! No one has ever regretted a good sweat session.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Maybe it’s before you even get out of bed, maybe it’s in the car on the way to work, or it’s before you fall asleep at night. Even if you only do this for one minute, the benefit is still great! I always breathe in for 10 seconds, breathe out for 12 seconds. This helps you literally blow off some steam and any anxiety or frustrations you have about the day will dwindle away. If you’re doing these at night like I usually do, it helps clear the mind from the day’s events so we’re not thinking about everything that we still need to do or about anything that happened throughout the day.
    • This has probably been the biggest key to success for me. I used to let so many small things frustrate me & by blowing off some steam this way every single day, I feel brand new.
  • Meditate. I recently downloaded the Mindfulness app on my phone and I can’t believe how much it helps! You can set reminders each day so you don’t forget and it also sends a motivational quote. They have 3, 5, 15, and 30 minute sessions. All of them are beneficial, and with as little as 3 minutes, there’s no excuse not to! This is one of the biggest practices that has helped immensely in realizing what’s really important in life. Spending time getting to know my mind better has helped me just be happier, more motivated, definitely more upbeat through the day. I usually spend 3 or 5 minutes right before bed with one of the guided exercises. I’ve slept better this month than I have in the last six combined.
  • Call someone you love. Whether it’s your mom, sister or brother, best friend, it doesn’t matter. Just give them a call, tell them you love them and you’re thinking about them. It will not only help you feel better but it will make their day too!

And that’s it! Just five little steps that have made me happier and feel so much more content with my life. I haven’t been the most happy with my current working situation so doing these things each day has helped pull out the good things in everything I’m faced with every day. I just decided one day it was time to control all the aspects of my life that I possibly could. By doing this, the negative things that come my way that I can’t control don’t seem so bad. My shoulders are far less tense, I laugh a lot more, and my every day feeling about life is much improved.
Each step is done in no particular order but every one of them is so worth the little extra time and oh so necessary. I’m definitely in the habit of each step and on days where I forget my tea, I just feel out of whack. These habits have helped me immensely and I hope they can do the same for you!

My next goal is to start incorporating yoga into my routine! Any recommendations on where to start?
Do you have daily routines that you just cannot live without?