ETC: Week 40

Hello friends!

I hope all is well! This past week, we made it to 40 weeks! It’s very bittersweet because I am very happy baby girl is fully cooked, but I’m also very anxious to meet her already!

We had a rather busy week and even had some visitors, but still, no baby!

Our 40-week weekend was beautiful; warm and filled with sunshine! Saturday we ran our weekly errands and Sunday we didn’t move until about 1pm. After relaxing all morning, we decided to go on a long walk. We walked down to the lakefront path and took a stroll through Andersonville on the way home. It was nice to reminisce along my old running path. Once Naomi is here and old enough to be in the jogging stroller, she will quickly become well acquainted with that path as well!

I worked from home this week which was extremely stress relieving. Not having to commute on crowded public transportation or worry about my escape route from downtown to up north if labor were to start was a blessing. Also, not having to try and fit in to office maternity clothes was pretty nice. At this point, a few maternity items still fit because they are stretchy, but are they by no means comfortable.

My mom and sister also came to visit this week. Unfortunately for them, when they booked the trip, they had planned to spend time with the baby since it was technically 2 days passed my due date that they would arrive. Joke was on all of us because, Naomi never made her grand entrance into the world.

It was nice to see them both one last time without a baby though. We went to Homeslice pizza one night and Xoco another night. Two places we wouldn’t have been able to check out with a newborn. We also stopped and walked around Oz park. Did you know, the statues can talk to you?!?! You enter a website on your phone then Dorothy or Tin Man will call you and talk to you for a minute or two. It’s a neat idea and I can’t wait to take Naomi to see them, once she’s old enough to understand the hype.

My mom and sister left at the end of the week but booked another stay the first weekend in May. They will be guaranteed to meet Naomi this next time around!

It was also our precious Pumbaa’s birthday this week! He is 7 and I cannot believe where the time went. I adopted Pumbaa when I moved to Whitewater for college and since then, he’s become such an important part of our family. I hope he loves Naomi as much as he loves us. It may take some getting used to, but he’s a cuddly lover so I have faith in him.

We made it the entire week, everyday asking ourselves ‘is today the day?’ We’ve tried nearly every home remedy people suggest and have answered the “where is she” or “how are you feeling” question at least 55 million times (little to no exaggeration on that estimated number). I’m fully convinced that all of these “at home labor inducing tricks” only work if baby is ready and Naomi is just not ready yet.

It’s definitely bittersweet going past your due date. Yes, I am so happy she’s fully developed in my belly, but we are anxiously awaiting her arrival. There’s a sense of frustration that kicks in when you wake up in the morning and realize it’s time to get up for work but you haven’t had any contractions and today may not be the day. However, it’s a blessing to continue feeling her movements. Soon, she will only be able to kick me from the outside 🙂

Currently, I am 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Our next update WILL have a baby update because I will be induced at the end of the week if she doesn’t come out on her own. I personally think she just wanted to wait for the month of May because Te’s birthday is also in May; so we have a serious daddy’s girl on our hands! 🙂

We cannot wait to meet our little bundle and I cannot wait to be done with pregnancy! We’ve got quite an exciting week ahead – Stay tuned!!

Until next time..

ETC: A 4 Week Nutrition Journey – Part 3

Hi friends! I hope your weeks have been going well! It’s finally feeling like summertime in Chicago with the sunshine, warm temperatures and the return of a classic summertime staple in the grocery stores, Watermelon!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last followed up on our nutrition journey. How has your journey been going? I hope some of the tips I’ve given have helped save you money and time when it comes to feeding your family. I’d love to hear your success stories (or any questions you might have) in the comments below!

Today, we are going to talk kitchen fundamentals. This post is for those of you truly do not like to cook. If you do not enjoy cooking, it can be due to many things; you might not be great at it, you might not know where to start or you might just think it’s too complicated. No matter what stage of disliking cooking you’re in, have no fear! With a few simple tips, you can get started cooking in no time!

Let’s set the playing field before we get in to it. No one is born a great cook. Everyone has to learn how to cook and in that process, burn something 7 times, but still try an 8th time. I cook often and I believe that I cook pretty well. However, I did not grow up in a kitchen or in a family where we cooked together every night, allowing me to learn cooking skills. Nope. In fact, I pretty much taught myself to cook through the power of google, food magazines and the food network. So let my story be your example if you feel like you’ll never learn to cook. If you have a desire to provide healthy meals to your family by cooking meals, you definitely can do exactly that!

To make cooking something you enjoy, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared. Have you ever found a recipe online that sounds delicious but when you go look in your pantry, none of the ingredients are to be found? Here are a few items I suggest you stock in your kitchen that will allow you to make a wide variety of recipes:

Essential Tools:

  • Knives: you’ll want a good set of kitchen knives so your cutting and chopping will be quick and easy. You can get a decent chef knife at almost any store. Heck, go to Target! There are plenty of options that range from $17.99 up to $59.99. Just get yourself a few good knives.
  • Cutting board: I would recommend at least 2 cutting boards, one for meat and one for veggies and fruit. Again, these can be found at Target. I use both wood and plastic, wood for meat, plastic for veggies and fruits, but you can choose your preference.
  • Pots and pans: I bought myself the Rachael Ray 15 piece set on Black Friday about a year ago for $89.99 and so far it’s been pretty great. Since we have a few months to go until Black Friday, I would suggest you get at least one pan and at least one large pot. This will give you options to cook meats and saute veggies in the pan as well as boil eggs and veggies in the pot. You can find pots and pans anywhere! Here’s a link to Target’s Rachael Ray Porcelain 12 piece set.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll want bowls to mix things in, whether it’s fruit salad or brownies, get yourself a big bowl.
  • Kitchen Utensil Set: Bed, Bath and Beyond has a 7-piece Kitchen Utensil Set for $8. You’ll need these things, go splurge.
    • While you’re there, a non essential, but very handy gadget to have is a Garlic Press. I used to chop garlic piece by piece, but since getting my garlic press, my quality of life has improved.

Essential Pantry Items:

Now that you’ve got the tools to make you a successful cook, I suggest stocking your pantry with a few items that you’ll need for most recipes. Also, some spices can be used on just about anything, whether it’s Mexican or Italian food, these are the must haves in your pantry.

  • Garlic [Powder/Salt]: I actually keep all three stocked in my pantry! Fresh garlic is great to put with chicken or steaks! Garlic powder is my savior when I don’t feel like using the garlic press. I sparingly use garlic salt because I don’t like to use salt much, but if I do, it works great when I’m sauteing veggies or roasting sweet potato fries.
  • Black Pepper: I love my black pepper grinder. I put tons of black pepper on everything, always freshly cracked. Get yourself a nice grinder and some black peppercorns, your taste buds will thank you!
  • Olive Oil: I don’t use this as much now, because I usually use coconut oil. But olive oil is great to have on hand for a variety of recipes.
  • Coconut Oil: I use this to fry up veggies and meat. I always buy the organic, unrefined coconut oil and am not shy with my scoops.
  • Cinnamon: I think this is an essential because I eat oats a few mornings each week and cinnamon is such a great topper for oats!
  • Chili Powder: Everything is better with a kick! I add chili powder to most of my recipes because I enjoy the spice. It has such a great flavor with a mild kick, I’d recommend having it around!

Once you have your kitchen in order with a few of the above listed essentials, you’re still probably thinking, ‘but I still hate cooking, so how will these help?’

A couple of ways the above lists will help you learn to love cooking are:

  1. You’ll now be prepared. You might not be prepared to make every recipe you find, but you can prepare a lot of basic recipes with the above tools.
  2. You’ll have the opportunity to buy tools that you like. If you don’t like cooking because you are using that old pan from your grandma’s kitchen, toss it out and get a pan in your favorite color. Pick kitchen utensils that you enjoy using and that make your cooking process enjoyable (ex: a good knife) and it will really help change your perspective.

If you’re still skeptical because you fear you’ll burn things or you just don’t know what to do when you get in the kitchen, here are a few beginner tips to get you through:

  1. Do not be afraid of ‘ruining’ something. You might burn it, that is OK. You must not let the fear of messing things up prevent you from trying! This rule is rule #1 because it’s most important. Burn something 7 times, you better try for 8! 🙂
  2. Cook things at a lower temp for a bit longer. A prime example is chicken. Warm up your coconut oil in a pan over low-medium heat, place your chicken in the pan and add some seasoning (pepper, garlic, chili powder) then cover. Allow the chicken to cook slowly on the one side for several minutes, uncover, flip the chicken to the other side and recover. By cooking your chicken on a lower temperature, you’re allowing it to cook thoroughly and retain the juiciness! Also, all of the flavors of your spices will surround the chicken by keeping the lid on it. Give it a whirl!
  3. Find simple recipes. You don’t need to make a masterpiece to eat healthy. If salads are all you can handle, start with salads. Perfect the salad then move on to adding chicken breast or steak. Start simple and once you’ve mastered a few meals, start looking for a new challenge.
  4. Get creative! There are plenty of recipes out there that call for a million ingredients. See if you can tweak them and work with what you have. There are plenty of times I’ll mostly follow a recipe but omit a few ingredients because they are either very small parts of the recipe and I don’t have the ingredient or I’ll only plan to use that ingredient for this one recipe so I don’t see use in buying it. When that happens, use the recipe as inspiration; you don’t need to go out and full bottles/jars of spices for one recipe if you don’t plan to use them again. Try to get creative with what you’ve already got and you might surprise yourself!
  5. Have fun! Cooking should be fun. You might not be ‘the best’ cook, but you can learn to enjoy it. Cooking opens up many doors to being healthy. Once you learn to enjoy cooking, you become in control of what your family eats instead of giving that power to Betty Crocker. You’ll pick the ingredients that fuel your body and your family and that is such a positively powerful thing!

In honor of tradition, I’ve added a delicious recipe below that anyone should enjoy cooking because it’s a Brownie recipe!! You’re thinking ‘What? Aren’t we talking about nutrition here? How are you going to give us a brownie recipe?’ Well my friends, this recipe only calls for 3 ingredients, all of which can be purchased and used in other common recipes. Also, these brownies are quick, healthy and delicious. I hope you enjoy!!

3 Ingredient Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 3 Overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or any nut butter – I used creamy sunflower butter)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup of cocoa powder (the more cocoa powder you use, the richer the brownies will be)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Blend until banana chunks are mostly smooth, like brownie batter
  • Pour batter into a greased 8×8 cake pan and back for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow your brownies to cool completely before cutting.
  • I topped my brownies with powdered sugar (a very small sprinkle) but additional toppings could include nut butter (as a frosting) nuts or dried fruit!

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I hope today’s tips will help you appreciate cooking! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. I am looking forward to next week, the last week of our journey, where we get into more detail about how to make food tasty!

Lastly, if you have it in your hearts and your wallets, I’m still on my journey training for the Chicago Marathon and fundraising $1,000 for Girls on the Run as I go! Here is my fundraising link. I would love if you could donate today! http://bit.ly/25PECj1

Stay well this week my friends!

Until next time..

ETC: Catching Up

Hi friends!

I’ve been on quite the hiatus and I must apologize! I promised I wouldn’t abandon my blog again.. EEK! Life got a bit crazy and unfortunately, I just didn’t have time. Over the next few weeks I plan to catch you up on all of the news and going forward I plan (not promise, but plan) to keep a steady posting schedule.

So where the heck have I been?

As you all know, Te and I got engaged last October. We initially began planning our wedding for October 2016. Throughout the planning we realized it was not what we had expected. We were not having fun, it was unnecessarily stressful, ridiculously expensive and it truly was not what we wanted. We were trying to fit our ‘dream wedding’ into a tiny budgeted box that was defined by the ‘traditional’ weddings you see left and right and it just wasn’t working. Furthermore, we really wanted to take a step for the Lord and put Him first in our lives and a big step in doing that was having the wedding as soon as possible.

So, after we secured quite a few details for our October soirĂ©e (wedding venue, deciding (kind of) on a dress, selecting cupcakes, a DJ, a florist, the wedding party and the bar selection) we changed our plans. During the last few days of January 2016 we decided to undo all of our decisions and get married our way. We chose the soonest date possible which would still allow us enough time to notify family and friends and have some time to coordinate. February 21, 2016 just so happened to be that date!

In 3 weeks we whipped together a bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette party and most importantly, our beautiful wedding. The best part is that we did it our way. Not by the standards of anyone else but us. As you can imagine, those three weeks were EXTREMELY busy and thus, no blog posts were created. Now that it’s over, our lives are getting back into the routine and so of course, I had to pick up ETC once again.

During those three weeks there were a couple amazing things that happened which I didn’t get a chance to write about but, I do promise to back track on those topics. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

  1. My 3 year Chicago-versary happened on February 11! Yes, people celebrate moving to Chicago. Why? Because it’s an amazing city where you learn a LOT about yourself, others, community, trust, faith, adventure, etc. Also, why not have another day to celebrate something throughout the year? 🙂
  2. My 1 year blog-iversary happened on February 18! One year ago I started blogging regularly. I remember being so so SO scared to open up about a variety of topics. I was scared because I didn’t have one, focused topic. I was scared because, I’m a rambler, not a writer. But I fought my fear and have been working on generating regular blog content ever since. What a journey! More to come on that 🙂

As you might have picked up on, February is my new favorite month. Not only is it my wedding anniversary, my Chicago-versary and my blog-iversary, it is national margarita day, national drink wine day, national dark chocolate day and national tortilla chip day. (I’m sure there will be a blog about February’s greatness to come as well 🙂 )

For now, I look forward to getting back in to the routine of things! I look forward to continue sharing my goals, thoughts, fears, etc with you all. Thank you so much for sticking with me during all of my ups and downs of blogging!

I’m sure I’ll have more posts about the wedding too. Especially once we get our photos back! I will say that it truly was one of the best days of my life. It was exactly what I wanted for my wedding day; I had a Mexican fiesta with our favorite music on the playlist, a bunch of our closest family and friends and a Sunday brunch wedding in Chicago on a budget we could afford. AND most importantly, I got to marry my best friend. It was perfect. Thanks to God for leading Te and I towards this decision and for really pulling through. SO many mini-miracles happened to help the day run smoothly and ensure family could make it and that couldn’t have happened without God.

Ok, but seriously, I’ll write a separate post about the wedding. 🙂

Until Next Time.. (aka next week, I promise…. I’ll try 🙂 )

Thank: Chicago

Hustle and bustle, flashing lights, horns honking, people walking [their dogs], there’s never a dull moment.

Nearly 3 years ago when I moved to Chicago, I hated it. It was big and scary and I knew no one. I was living with Te and a few friends at the time but I felt so lonely outside of our apartment.

3 years later, I’ve never felt more at home. I am so thankful that God called me to this city.

As 2015 winds down and I look ahead to another year in the Windy City, I can’t help but reflect on the many reasons I am now encouraged to stay in the city and really soak in this experience, because it truly is like no other.

One recent experience in particular has really given  me so much joy in calling Chicago my home.

In June, I began attending Nike Training Club classes. They are a variety of classes, provided by Nike trainers, held either in a Nike store or at the Nike studio on Michigan avenue. I didn’t know anyone before I started attending these classes, but I was comfortable going by myself because of my passion for working out and trying new routines.

( Lucky for me, I met a friend the first day 🙂 )

Throughout the summer, Nike has put on these amazing events to help get me in shape. The events were so over-the-top awesome, from #FindYourFast to #GetOutHere, and the trainers are so skilled and motivating, it’s ridiculous. The motivation the Nike Chicago team has given me is beyond words.

Their most recent event was completely out of this world. Nike created an experience on the Chicago river for all of the NRC (Nike Run Club) and NTC (Nike Training Club) attendees. They created a barge on the river, The Icebox, inspired by the #GetOutHere challenge and held classes on the barge all week long.

 So there I was, working out on a Friday night, on the river, staring at the skyline and I just thought to myself, ‘WOW. This is my life.’ I mean, have you ever worked out with Nike Master Trainers on a boat on the river? It’s really hard to explain the emotion and realization that came to me, but it’s an experience that’s given me so much comfort in calling Chicago my home. In addition, through the Nike classes I’ve met such an amazing fitness community. It gave me a renewed outlook and even more passion for fitness.

Now, dont’ get me wrong, there are a million and a half other reasons I’m thankful to be in Chicago. I know you don’t have time to read all million, but I’ll leave you with a few other things I particularly love about the city:

  • The L – easiest transportation ever
  • People are always outside – walking their dogs, meeting with friends, running errands, working out, there’s always people outside and it is surprisingly refreshing
  • Brunch & Thai Food – because, yum
  • Ipsento’s (Bucktown) Ipsento Latte with coconut milk and cayenne (seriously, go try it)
  • Destination Church – the community I found within Destination Church is unbelievable and I will forever be grateful for that
  • The hustle and bustle mentality- although it can get overwhelming at times, the work ethic of this city has continued to push me even harder than I ever imagined pushing myself
  • Opportunity – there’s so many things to do and see, all of which hold opportunity for a new experience, there’s so much hope in finding your true passion here because no one tells you no, they tell you “go get it”
  • The brick apartments and buildings in the neighborhoods – isn’t Chicago pretty? 🙂
  • The energy of the people – the energy is positive, adventurous, inspiring and contagious

So thank you Chicago, for making me a better person. Thank you for an amazing experience, which I’ll never forget. Thank you for your beauty and inspiration. Thank you for the fast-paced life that continuously leads me to work harder than ever while also allowing me to appreciate the simplicity of being back home.

Thank you God for leading me to this city.

Did you move to a new city? What was your initial reaction? After some time, did you begin to fall in love? What caused that love to spark?

I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!

Until next time..

Create: Healthy Quick(ish) Meals

Is it just this time of year or are my weeks legitimately getting busier constantly? I am not sure. What I do know is that no matter how much time I have, I always make time to cook a healthy, nutritious meal that will fill me up and refuel my body properly.

I want to share 3 recipes all of which are nutritious, filling and quick! The first recipe takes the longest, about 45 minutes, and would be great for lunch or dinner. The second takes about 5 minutes to make with about 5 minutes of prep time and would be a delicious option for breakfast or dinner… or lunch! Lastly, we’ll make a yummy snack or dessert in just 2 minutes!

Before we get started, I must mention that all of these recipes I came up with on my own due to wanting a quick and healthy meal, satisfying a craving with a healthier option or pure creativity with the random ingredients I had left before my next trip to the grocery store. So please, use these as a motivator to not be afraid to get crafty in the kitchen, amazing (tasty) things can happen!

Recipe #1: Sweet Potato with Goat Cheese & Sauteed Veggies
Ingredients
– 1 or 2 Sweet Potato(s)
– Coconut Oil
– 1 Bell Pepper (any color)
– Mushrooms (any kind)
– Goat Cheese
– Cayenne (optional)
– Cracked Black Pepper (optional)

Directions
1. 
Turn on your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, rinse your sweet potato(s). Poke holes in the potato(s) and wrap in tin foil. Place wrapped potato(s) on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until tender.
2. Slice your bell pepper into long strips and your mushrooms into slices for sauteeing.
3. Heat coconut oil in your fry pan. Once hot, add bell pepper. Sautee for about 5 minutes then add your mushrooms. Sprinkle in Cayenne and Cracked Black Pepper. Once veggies are soft and charred, remove from heat, cover and set aside.
4. Once your sweet potato(s) are tender, pull the pan out of the oven and open tin foil. Spread Goat Cheese across each potato and return to oven, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese becomes warm.
5. Remove potato(s) from oven, top with sauteed veggies and enjoy your delicious, healthy meal!

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A Few Health Benefits: Sweet Potatoes are high in Vitamins A, C and B6, as well as Vitamin D, which all of us in the Midwest can always use more of to help regulate our energy levels, moods and build strong bones. They’re also a great source of magnesium which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Lastly, their sweet tasting but their natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream to ensure balanced energy without blood sugar spikes that lead to weight gain and fatigue. Read more about sweet potato benefits here.

Recipe #2: Egg Tacos  (A personal favorite)
Ingredients
– 2 to 4 eggs (Think about 1 egg per taco)
– Coconut Oil
– Cayenne (optional)
– Turmeric (optional)
– Cracked Black Pepper (optional)
– Tortillas
– Pepperjack Cheese
– 1/2 Bell Pepper
– 2 to 4 slices of Avocado
– Salsa and/or Hot Sauce (optional)

Directions
1.
 Heat coconut oil in a fry pan. Crack eggs into the pan and let them begin to cook while adding a few shakes of cayenne, turmeric and cracked black pepper. Scramble eggs up in the pan and let cook.
2. Shred pepper jack cheese (or cheese of choice) and add a few pinches of cheese to hot eggs. Mix around until cheese is completely melted.
3. Slice Bell Pepper into thin strips, about 3 per taco. Slice small strips of Avocado (or cut into small chunks), 1 slice or 3-4 chunks per taco.
4. Warm up tortillas. I have a gas stove so naturally, I throw them on the open flame burner to get the delicious char marks. A microwave will work to heat them up if you have a fancy electric stove 🙂
5. Lay warm tortillas on the plate. Add egg and cheese mixture, bell pepper and avocado slices and top with salsa and/or hot sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

taco.jpgAll in all, this meal takes about 10 minutes and it’s filling, nutritious and is a great option for any meal of the day!

A Few Health Benefits: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and the Avocado will provide your body with (heart) healthy fats. Turmeric is a yellow spice that is extremely beneficial for your health. It is essentially tasteless so it’s great to mix with eggs because the color blends right in and you’re getting healthier with each bite! Turmeric contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help defend us from disease, it also can help prevent Cancer (due to its ability to reduce the growth of cancer cells), Alzheimer Disease, Heart Disease and Depression. Ready more about this powerhouse spice here.

Who’s ready for dessert (or a quick snack)?

Recipe #3: PB Ezekiel Bread
Ingredients
– 1 Slice Ezekiel Bread
– 2 tbsp JIF Natural Super Chunk Peanut Butter (or any nut-butter you prefer)
– Cinnamon
– Honey (optional)

Directions
* Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, if you’re not eating chunky peanut butter, you’re doing it wrong. 🙂
1. Toast your Ezekiel bread
2. Spread Peanut Butter across top of bread
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and honey (if desired)
4. Enjoy!

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A Few Health Benefits: Ezekiel Bread is sprouted bread which contains no added sugar, compared to most other breads which do. Also, it contains more protein than other breads and is very filling. Read more about Ezekiel Bread here. Cinnamon is another power spice I like to use a lot! Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It can fight the risk of heart disease, bacterial and fungal infections and even cancer. And, it’s sweet and tasty!

I hope you enjoy these recipes. They definitely get me through the busiest of weeks on a healthy note! Let me know some of your favorite healthy meals in the comments below!

Until Next Time..

 

 

ETC: Abandoned

I did it again.

I abandoned my blog. Again. Dang it!

When life gets in the way, ETC tends to be the first thing on my To-Do list that gets shoved on to the back burner. Not because I don’t enjoy writing just as much as I enjoy cooking, but I need to cook so I can eat and survive. if I don’t write a blog post, I am usually pretty safe.

No excuses though. Change is coming.

Remember those resolutions I’ve been writing about here and there? I am adding a new one right now: Post at least once a week. Let’s plan for Wednesday’s since we’re starting off on a Wednesday.

I started this blog journey so I could share my thoughts and experiences with you. I am excited to continue sharing my experiences and I hope you continue to read and participate as I move forward. I thank you so much for your constant support, even when my posts are few and far between.

Are there things on your ‘Super(wo)man’ To-Do List’ that you push off when time escapes you? What ends up getting ‘abandoned’? How do you prioritize?

Or are you one of those humans who can survive on 3-4 hours of sleep? I know that I absolutely am not. Thus, I will need to use some of your tips and tricks to prioritize my blog and make even better use of my waking hours!

Another question that always comes to mind when I’m focusing on my ‘online identity’ is: How do you remind yourself that although your online/social media posts are very important to you, it’s personal relationships and first-hand experiences that help shape your entire life? I love social media and being involved with entire process, but sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s ok to not post everyday as long as I’m making time for productive relationships and learning experiences.

Since the abandonment, I’ve explored so many new restaurants and experiences in the city. I’ve felt so thankful for this journey that God has laid out for me. I’ve created some delicious recipes that are extra healthy, too. I am looking forward to sharing all of my news with you on a weekly basis.

Moving forward, I plan to keep Explore. Thank. Create. pretty much the same as it is now. Maybe a little bit less story telling and a little bit more critic/reviewing of the things I try. I hope to become a resource for you to rely on when deciding on which brunch place to attend or which workout class is a good fit for you.

I am really excited to re-vamp this journey, and I hope that you’ll join me. I’d love to hear about your experiences with abandoning certain priorities and how you learned to prioritize more effectively in the comments below!

Until Next Time..

Thank: The Horse Race

Where to go? What to do? What to choose?

Lately I have just had so many ‘to-do’s on my mind that I feel as if I am not sure where to even begin. It’s almost as if I have a line of ideas, stabled like horses. When I wake up in the morning, the gun goes off and BOOM, each ‘horse’ [idea] takes off as fast as it can. The ideas race like horses, faster and faster around this track, which is my mind. All of these ambitious hopes and dreams just racing against one another, trying to win my attention; trying to win the race.

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I think it’s great to have ambition and ideas and hopes and dreams. However, I think it’s hard to decide what those should be. Meaning, where should I focus my time. ‘What do I really want?’ Because of this uncertainty about where to focus my time or what I really want, it becomes hard to find the time to fully explore each option. At which point, I get overwhelmed.

This internal horse-race going on in my brain is just draining me. It’s as if I’ve gambled all of my money away. A little on each horse, yet I’ve won nothing back so I cannot continue betting and eventually, the horses will just stop. At this point, I feel lost.

Perhaps this is my pre-quarter life crisis (I say pre-quarter life crisis because I’m owning age 24 until I have to turn it over to the big two-five). At this age does anyone know which horse they want to bet on? Does anyone at any age ever bet on the right horse? I think maybe some people get ‘lucky’ and they were either born into knowing which dream to follow because of a family business or an exceptional talent like singing or acting.

And for the rest of us? I guess we just have to pick a couple of horses and bet away until we find one that really excels for us. And that betting period should be exciting! You’re learning about yourself. You’re making mistakes. You’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Somehow though, this betting period for me, it’s scary.

I’m not a great gambler. I mean, buy me a $2 scratch-off and I’m all in (serious thrill-seeker, I know) But honestly, gambling with big, life decisions? I’d rather not. It’s so easy to dream and say ‘I wish’, ‘I want’, ‘I’d rather’ but sometimes those wishes, wants and rather’s come only after we take a gamble.

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I guess this is what our 20’s are for right? Gambling and figuring out which horse we want to be the jockey of. Which idea or dream to pursue. And if that horse breaks a leg, we then decide to either bandage up the sprain and keep going or jump to a different horse and try that dream, right?

Through all of the discomfort of not knowing which horse to choose, there’s got to be a way to remain comfortable. When it all becomes too much we can break down so easily. I can break so easily sometimes. I crumble and fall, at which point, the horses just stop. No dream is being pursued because it all becomes too much, I just break down.

Luckily, if this is something you’re also feeling, there’s a free solution to help you find comfort while your horses are racing. Be in prayer with The Lord. God can pick you right back up. Thanks to God, my horses started running again today. Even though it’s been a crazy couple of weeks and sometimes I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, I look back and just think WOW. Horse #3, #5, #7 and #10 are all really making some great progress. Slow and steady, but progress nonetheless. I think it’s very vital to reflect on how far each horse has come over a period of time. Especially when you’re feeling lost or stuck. Just look back and reflect on how far you’ve come. Progress is progress, no matter the size, it’s the effort that counts and we must remember that. Thank you God for getting my horses back up and running.

Additionally, I must mention that I have been blessed with truly an amazing support system on this earth which is my boyfriend, Te. He’s always pushing me to keep going, supporting each additional (sometimes crazy) horse [idea] which I add to the stable, helping me through the inevitable pre-quarter life crisis meltdowns and constantly reminding me to seek prayer and guidance in my decisions. I am so blessed.

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So whatever horses are in your stable, racing around day after day, trying to help you figure out where to go, what to do, what to choose, look at it as a blessing. Don’t gamble without getting anything in return. The way to make some of that ‘money’ back, is through prayer. Ask God for guidance and comfort when things just don’t seem like they are making any progress. He wants your horses to keep running. He will recharge you so you can continue to dream. So one, or maybe 3, of your horses can just take off and lead you where you should go. Around the track God wants you to be racing.

Until next time..