2017 Reflection 

I accomplished a decent amount of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I’m proud of that. I have grown in a lot of areas of my life and am so thankful for every experience and person that God has brought into my life. A lot of excited changes happened this year and I know that there are even more to come in 2018.

As 2017 comes to a close, I thought this little Q & A would be a fun way to reflect on my experiences this year.

  1. What is something I accomplished this year that I am proud of?
    • I don’t know if this is something that would necessarily be considered an accomplishment, but it’s definitely an area I’ve grown in. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and making more friends. I’m naturally an introvert and I’ve never been good at making friends. Even throughout my 4 1/2 years of college I only had like one or two friends. Social anxiety is real, and sometimes I deal with that. But I’ve learned that it’s best to just be yourself and not try to act a certain way to please people or to try to get them to be your friend. I’ve made some good friends this year that are such sweet people and I thank God for bringing them into my life.
  2. What is something that happened this year that I think I will remember for the rest of my life?
    • Celebrating Christmas morning with my family in Nelson County with no power. Brendan and I got to my parents’ house at 9:15am only to find that they had lost power due to high winds. Despite the fact that there was no power, it was the best Christmas I have had in a long time! We all gathered around the Christmas tree in the living room and opened presents. The wood stove kept the house nice and cozy, so we were all happy. After we opened presents Dad hooked the generator up so that we could watch TV and have some running water. Jon fixed us some French press coffee on the wood stove and we had the coziest morning.
  3. What was the most challenging part of this year for me? 
    • Honestly, the most challenging part of 2017 was starting a new job in January. Working retail hasn’t been physically challenging, but it definitely has been mentally challenging. It was very hard for me to adjust to working indoors after working on a farm in the fresh open air – the first warm days of spring were extremely difficult. I spent the entire day at work longing to be outside in the sunshine, doing anything but standing around inside.
  4. In what area do I feel I made my biggest improvements? 
    • One of my goals for 2017 was to recycle more and become more mindful of the products I was using. Since the start of the year Brendan and I have been consistently using our reusable shopping bags, we recycle everything we can (I even carry my Starbucks cups back home with me so that I can recycle them), and we have now switched over to completely natural cleaning products. I really didn’t like the thought of having chemical based cleaning products in my home, so I did the necessary research and switched to natural, non-toxic products.
  5. If I could change one thing that happened this year what would it be?
    • I don’t usually like to answers these questions because I believe that everything happens for a reason. But…back in September Brendan and I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a vacation with his family. We planned it so that we would be celebrating my 24th birthday in Charleston and I was very excited about it. We both took off work for a week, got my friend Kateyln to watch Cheetah for us, and headed to Charleston for our first time. We got to Charleston on Tuesday September 5th and Brendan’s family was supposed to come and join us on Thursday September 7th. Well, Hurricane Irma was coming and so the whole vacation kind of fell apart – Brendan’s family never came, we stayed in 3 different places during our time we were there, and we spent most of our time driving from hotel to Airbnb to hotel, etc. And then we came back to Roanoke early, something I was totally against doing. It was a lot of money spent and a lot of disappointment. So if I could go back I would choose to stay in one hotel longer and make the most of our time there. But hey, it happened and we’ve learned a lot about planning and traveling from that situation.
  6. What are the three most important things I learned this year?
    • Be present in all things.
    • Your mindset can have a powerful hold on you whether positive or negative – thankfully we have the ability to change our mindsets.
    • Everything happens for a reason, whether good or bad.
  7. What three things did I do this year to help those around me?
    • At the beginning of the year I started volunteering with the Roanoke Community Garden Association – I went to one community work day event and wrote two posts for them on their new blog. Sadly, my time with them was short lived and it just didn’t work out.
    • I helped two of my friends edit some of their English essays for their college classes.
    • Worked extra hours at my job to help my managers out around the holidays.
  8. What was the nicest thing someone did for me this year?
    • Mom and Dad letting me come home when Brendan was traveling for work. I know that sounds simple and silly, but it really warmed my heart and meant the world to me. They always welcomed me back home with open arms, and let me stay for as long as I wanted to. And I really needed that, especially at the beginning of the year when Brendan was gone, I didn’t really have any friends yet, and I was still living in an apartment that faced a parking garage. Sometimes it’s the simple acts of kindness that mean the most and stick with us the longest.
  9. What was something that was hard for me at the start of the year that is easy now?
    • Working retail. My job, as I have mentioned before, can be mentally draining sometimes, and that’s probably the hardest part of work for me. It was also hard for me to accept the fact that I was working retail instead of working in my field of study – I felt as though I had settled and was just getting by. But, God has used this job to work in my life in many ways I never saw coming. I have made friends at work and my manager invited Brendan and me to come to her and her husband’s small group. So not only have I found friends through work, but I have found other believers to study God’s word with.
  10. Of the books I read this year, which was my favorite and why?
    • I read a lot of good books this year, mostly health and herbal related. But I’d have to say that my very favorite book that I read this year was WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. I liked this book because it teaches women that you don’t have to rely on birth control and synthetic hormones to regulate your cycle or to keep from getting pregnant. I love that this book teaches that there are natural solutions to regulating your cycle and getting in touch with your body. It was definitely an eye opening read and I would recommend it to every woman.
  11. Which person has made the biggest impact on my life this year? Why?
    •  My husband. Brendan always inspires me and motivates me to better myself. He inspires me with his work ethic, his willingness to serve others, his kind spirit, his patience towards me, he is always encouraging me to work toward my goals and to chase my dreams, and he supports me no matter what. 
  12. What could I have done to make this year better? 
    • Be more present and intentional in every area of my life.
  13. What three words best describe this year?
    • Growth, Intention, Contentment.
  14. Knowing what I know now, if I would travel back in time to the start of 2017, what advice would I give myself?  
    • Be kind to yourself.
  15. What are my most important goals for next year? 
    • Practice yoga weekly
    • Work out at least 3X a week
    • Read 25 books
    • Go on trash walks in Downtown Roanoke to help clean up the city
  16. How am I planning on achieving them? 
    • Taking part in yoga challenges, going to yoga classes and practicing at home
    • Going to the gym and working out at home
    • Reading at least 2 books a month
    • Cleaning up the trash and recyclables I see laying around my city. And I also intend to contact the city of Roanoke to ask if they could put in some public recycling along the streets so that people have that option to recycle instead of just throwing plastic and cardboard away.
  17. What should I do definitely next year
    • Be more mindful and present in every situation.

This is probably the last blog post you will see form me for a while, as I plan on taking some time to redesign and organize my blog. I also just want to take the time to think about the content I want to post and to be more intentional about each and every post.

 

I hope your year was wonderful! Bring on 2018.

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Saturday – Breathe Easy

Today was exactly the type of day I needed. It’s Saturday, and it’s the first Saturday I’ve had off since I started my new job. After a hectic week dealing with Valentine’s Day in the world of retail, I needed a day to unwind, start fresh, spend time out in nature, and simply let go.

This morning I slept in until 9 a.m., I had some homemade vegan vanilla chai pancakes, read a little bit of Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles (loving it so far), showered, and then got ready to go on a long walk on the Greenway with Brendan. It was 70 degrees today and it felt more like mid-March instead of February.

I’ve been on a few walks through the park downtown recently, but it was so nice to get away from downtown and be more submerged in nature. Granted, there were more people around than I would have preferred, so it wasn’t as peaceful of a walk as it could have been. But it was still nice to get outside, soak up some rays from the sun, sip some homemade green juice, and just forget about all of the stress of everyday life.

Green juice: Kale, Spinach, Parsley, Cilantro, Celery, Grapefruit, Lemon, Ginger. 

We ended up walking to Black Dog Salvage in Grandin and looking around there for a little while. It was our first time going and there was so much to look at.

I want to have an area in my house like this! 
And like this – I need this space for my yoga practice. So peaceful. 


We ended up walking a little over 3 miles and it felt amazing. Even though I didn’t really work my body very hard, it felt like it was such a better workout than going to the gym. I was able to breathe in the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of nature instead of having music blasting through my ear buds. I need all of the fresh air, vitamin D, and green juice I can get these days since it seems like literally everyone is sick with either the flu or the norovirus. Why? Why do people always get so sick this time of year and just accept the fact that sickness will occur? I fight it with everything I have in me – that’s why I try to nourish my body with everything it needs to fight off any cold, flu, or virus that may come my way. But I’m getting off topic. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t (not on this post anyway).

Sculpture in the park on the Greenway. 

I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated when we got back home. I decided to do some hooping and then yoga while I was feeling all the positive vibes. The fresh air gave me an appetite for something homemade and healthy, so I had some of my left over vegan butternut squash curry and jasmine rice for dinner. Perfection.

Vegan Butternut Squash Curry.

I plan on spending the rest of this beautiful evening doing a few chores and watching a movie with my man. Four years ago today is the day Brendan told me he loved me for the first time (I said “I love you too”). I remember feeling such a rush of butterflies and excitement that night, and I just couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. He was the first guy to tell me he loved me, and I’m so thankful that I got to marry him. ❤

My love. 

Looking forward to another beautiful day off work tomorrow! Happy Saturday everyone!

Vegan Week Victories

As many of you know, starting November 1st I decided to give up dairy products and go vegan for a week as a way to cleanse and restart for the new month. This was my second time going vegan for a week and it has been amazing. It went so well that I decided to continue on with it! I’m not sure when I’ll end up eating something with dairy in it again, but for now I don’t feel the need to.

Today I thought I’d share a little bit about the meals I’ve been eating and how I’m feeling overall.

While I did do a little bit of meal prep for my vegan week, I honestly didn’t make a bunch of fancy vegan meals. My husband won’t eat most of the vegan meals I fix, so I didn’t want to make huge quantities for myself.

For my breakfasts I had lots of avocado toast, oatmeal, and I even made up a batch of vegan waffles. And of course I had to have my coffee! Instead of drinking it with creamer like I usually do, I used almond coconut milk and a little bit of raw sugar. After a week I finally got used to it!

I don’t eat a whole lot throughout the day, so I just had some Go Macro bars, 1915 Bolthouse Farms juices, and hot teas on hand to have for lunch/snacks.

For dinners I made a huge batch of vegan Chili Mac n Cheese (Brendan actually ate it too) last Wednesday that lasted throughout the week, and I also made vegan Cauliflower Sauce Mac n Cheese for the first time. It definitely didn’t taste like normal mac n cheese, but with some practice I think I will get better at making vegan meals like that.

I ended up eating more vegan “junk food” than I had planned on. Brendan and I had Chipotle o Friday night and then Dominos pizza on Sunday night. And yes, it is possible to eat vegan at Dominos. After doing a little research, we found out that their thin crust does not have any whey in it. So, I ordered a thin crust pizza with extra sauce, spinach, and roasted red peppers. I had them hold the cheese and I just sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top.

I need to focus on incorporating more fruits and veggies into my meals, but besides that it hasn’t been very difficult to eat like this. The hardest things for me were giving up my coffee creamer and raw honey that I use in my hot teas. Besides that, I haven’t felt deprived at all.

Now, let’s focus on how I’m feeling physically.

I lost a lot of weight leading up to my wedding back in May. I felt fit, happy, and healthy. But once the stress of the wedding and moving into our new apartment was over with I ended up gaining all the weight back (and more). I tried working out every single day and using My Fitness Pal to track every single thing that I ate to lose the weight. None of that worked and I was left feeling frustrated, fat, and very unsatisfied. I stopped counting calories near the end of August and I slowly started to feel better. However, I was still not making any progress with my weight.

It wasn’t until going vegan for a week that I actually started to lose weight! I eat relatively healthy for the most part, but seeing the affects that giving up dairy products had on my body is amazing. I’ve lost about 3.5 lbs. in the last couple weeks without trying.

Weight aside, I think the real victory for me is the fact that I haven’t felt bloated or nauseaus this entire week. Recently, I had been going to bed every night with a bloated tummy. It didn’t really seem to matter how much or how little I ate, I would always be left feeling icky. I was turning to Apple Cider Vinegar water every night before bed to help ease my stomach. I think it might be safe to say that I might be a little lactose intolerant.

On top of eating a vegan diet, I have been going to the gym a couple times a week and also working out at home. While I believe exercise is important, I think that a healthy weight starts in the kitchen. Seriously, I see a difference in my abs just since going vegan.

It’s not always easy, but everyday I try to focus on how I’m feeling physically and mentally rather than focusing on the number on the scale. I always feel my best when I know I’m nourishing my body.

If any of you have considered going vegan for a week, I strongly urge you to do so! It may not be easy at first, but your body will thank you for it. 🙂

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Day 4: 30 Days of Lists Challenge

Today has been a slow, easy Sunday. All I’ve really felt like doing is reading, drinking coffee, journaling and watching documentaries on Netflix! But I think it’s important to have some down time and just focus on what your body needs. 

Continuing with the 30 Days of Lists Challenge and finding that today’s list is easy-peasy for me to write! 

Day 4: Favorite animals 

  • Dogs (Pomeranians and Huskies are my favorites) 
  • Cats 
  • Any and EVERY kind of baby animal 
  • Chickens 
  • Cows
  • Goats

I could probably keep this list going and going. Basically, I love most all animals (especially mammals). Insects are a different story haha. However, I try to be kind to all creatures, great and small. ❤ Ever since I was little I have loved all animals and my family and I have had a LOT of different pets over the years. We have had dogs, lots (and lots) of cats, parakeets, hamsters, geese, goats, chickens, a lizard, a rabbit, etc.

For the longest time my family thought that I would grow up to be a veterinarian and they called me “Elly May” after Elly May on the show The Beverly Hillbillies. And while my love for animals hasn’t changed, I realized that being a veterinarian wasn’t my calling in life! lol

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What are some of your favorite animals? 🙂 

Happy September!

Hello September, nice to see you!

I thought it would be fun to do something different on the blog this month, so starting today I will be posting a different list everyday as part of a 30 Days of Lists Challenge. Here are some of the topics I will be talking about (and listing off) over the course of the month:

30 Days of Lists Challenge

  1. Favorite sounds
  2. Things that complete my life
  3. Activities I’d do if I was brave
  4. Favorite animals
  5. Fears
  6. Pet Peeves
  7. Reasons to be happy
  8. Random quirks of mine
  9. Favorite songs
  10. Odd facts I know
  11. Things I miss
  12. Places I want to travel to
  13. Modes of transportation I want to take
  14. I want to learn how to…
  15. Events I want to time travel to
  16. Halloween costume ideas
  17. Other lives I’d want to live if I had nine lives
  18. Favorite scents
  19. Guilty pleasures 
  20. Favorite words
  21. Favorite Bible verses
  22. People I want to meet
  23. Favorite patterns 
  24. Food that I dislike 
  25. Words that I hate
  26. Stuff I’m allergic to 
  27. Obsessions 
  28. Favorites plants 
  29. Things I’m looking forward to
  30. Highlights of this month

 

My hopes are that this challenge will encourage me to post on my blog daily, as well as be a way for my readers to get to know me better. 

So here it goes!

Day 1: Favorite sounds

Rain

Coffee percolating

Frogs chirping in the spring

Crickets Chirping in the fall

Traffic in the city

Leaves rustling in the breeze

Kitty purrs

My husband’s voice

Thunder

Book pages turning

 

Hopefully you guys will be seeing a lot more posts from me this month! Now I’m off to go check things off my to-do list for the day and get started on my goals for the month of September. Have a great day everyone! 

 

 

Make Your Own Sunshine

Is it just me, or does summer seem to be slipping right on by? Summer is my happy place. I learned to appreciate summer a lot more when I started college – knowing that summer would be my gateway to freedom from school helped motivate me to push through all of the tests and papers. Now that I’m done with college, summer still seems to emanate freedom for me. But this year, summer has been a bit different.

I’m used to summer out in the country, where I have unlimited access to the great outdoors, fresh air, sunshine and a lot of bug bites! However, this year I’m getting to experience summer in the city, which if you didn’t already know, is a lot different than summer in the country. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy adjustment moving to Roanoke. Not that I’m unhappy – I actually love living in an apartment with my husband – it’s just different. Instead of being surrounded by green grass and animals, I’m surrounded by tall buildings, lots of cars and people. It’s actually a refreshing change, believe it or not. But I have found myself missing summers at my parents’ house.

I’ve come to realize that I tend to dwell on the past, sometimes too often. And you know what I’ve discovered? It’s great to cherish memories of time spent with the people you love and the places you’ve been, but it’s not healthy to spend all of your time and energy wishing you could relive those moments. Sure, there are times when we wish we could go back to how things used to be, or just spend a little bit more time in a certain stage of life. But the truth is, you’ll make yourself unhappy if you focus on the past instead of living in the present.

These past couple of weeks have been difficult for me for various reasons. I can be really hard on myself and I haven’t had a very positive outlook recently. I think a lot of major life changes just happened at once and it’s taking me time to get used to. Brendan and I have been living in our apartment for a little over a month now, so getting married and moving into a place of our own was a pretty big life event. And with that comes the adjustment of making our apartment feel like home, finding our way around a new city and adapting to Brendan’s work schedule.

The change in sleep patterns has been hard on my body too. I’ve recently gained some weight and have been feeling such low self-esteem. If you know me at all, you know that my weight and body image has been a big issue for me for the past few years. To make a long story short (I may do a separate post sometime that goes into more detail), I lost a lot of weight leading up to and right after my wedding. With all of the wedding planning, packing and moving, I had lost quite a bit of weight and was at an all-time low for myself. I hadn’t weighed so little since I was 15 years-old. However, I am short and have a small frame, so I wasn’t dangerously underweight. I actually felt good about my body and felt energized and healthy. But once we got moved into our apartment and my busy schedule came to a screeching halt, I ended up gaining the weight back. I know I’m no where near being overweight, but I just hate knowing that I gained weight. And it doesn’t help that I strayed away from my workout routine and have lost what muscle I had.

I KNOW that I should focus on how my body feels and not the number on the scale, but that’s still a challenge for me. I’ve spent so much time worrying about my weight and it’s affected my overall mood. Not good. So this past weekend, I made a point to make sure I start focusing on how my body feels instead of letting the number on the scale control my mood. I’ve been to the gym three times this week, went on walks through the city with Brendan and ate foods that nourished my body. I’ve been choosing to be happy with myself, and while that may not always be easy to do, it has been so freeing. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to take care of my body and treat it the way God wants me to. Hopefully I’m taking steps in the right direction.

At this point I still don’t have a job, which in some ways is nice and others not so much. It’s been nice having free time to get our apartment organized, practicing meal prep, learning how to grocery shop and cook for two (Brendan and I are almost complete opposites when it comes to meal time) and also just having time to read, journal and blog like I’m doing now. On the other hand, sometimes I think I have TOO much free time. I’m the type of person that thrives on a busy schedule. Sure, there might be times when I have a meltdown and just wish things would slow down, but at least I know I’m being productive and getting things accomplished. I like making to-do lists, I like seeing appointments and events written on my calendar and I work well under pressure (I guess I got that from writing for my college’s newspaper). So to go from having a hectic schedule full of wedding planning details at the beginning of the year, to just figuring out what I should buy from the grocery store next week, is a drastic change of pace.

I was honestly a little scared of searching for a job when we first moved here – I was worried that it might be TOO much for me to adjust to all at once. But now that we are comfortably settled in our new apartment, I think I’m ready to take the hunt more seriously. God has been good and has helped provide us with all that we need working with just one income. But I know it would be a great help for me to find a job, and it would also be good to put my free time to good use. Sometimes I like to dream about how nice it would be to do blogging as my full-time job, and maybe some gardening or something on the side. But for now, I’ll just keep taking the baby steps necessary to work my way up. I know that God has a job in mind for me, even if I don’t know what it is yet, and I know that He has blessed me with this time of not having a job for a reason.

The lesson to be learned here is that life requires a positive mindset for you to truly be happy. And the only person that can change that mindset is YOU! Happiness is a choice, so  go for a walk outside, journal about your feelings, go grab coffee with a friend, whatever it is that gives you clarity of thought and brings you peace. You have the power to make your own sunshine, so get out and do it!

4th of July Weekend

Tuesday seems to be the new Monday for me. All day long I’ve had this feeling that it’s just the beginning of the week – I guess that’s because I’m still getting used to Brendan’s new work schedule. He now works second shift on Tuesday-Saturday. So this past week I’ve been trying to get settled into a new routine. I’ve got some vegan banana bread in the oven now and I’m washing a load of laundry, so while I have some down time I thought I’d write a “catch-up” post.

This past Saturday my brother Jon came to stay the night with me and Brendan in Roanoke. Since Brendan was still at work, Jon picked up a pizza, some Talenti gelato and a couple of movies from Red Box so we could have a movie night. It was nice to have some company over – not to mention Jon makes the best cup of coffee, and we all know how much I love coffee! We waited up for Brendan to get home from work and then decided to watch another movie. So we may or may not have stayed up until 3 a.m.! Hey, we’re all young, and you only live once, right?

On Sunday, Jon, Brendan and I packed up and headed to my parents house for the day. Since there was a greater chance of rain on Monday (the 4th of July), my parents decided that it would be better to celebrate Independence Day early. Coming back home for a visit is so relaxing for me – I love being able to go outside and enjoy the fresh country air and summer sun. I’ve been very blessed to visit Mom and Dad several times over the past few weeks. Now that I’m married and living away from home, I’m learning how special and important it is to spend time with family.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun celebrating the 4th of July. Dad and Brendan bought fireworks to give us our own personal show, my brothers made a bon fire so we could roast marshmallows and make s’mores and we all went to the Dairy Isle to get ice cream together! The only downside was that my brother Michael’s Pomeranian, Rocky, was having an anxiety attack all day long because of the fireworks. Poor baby. ❤  I had a bit more sugar and caffeine than I’m used to, so I was a bit giggly toward the end of the night. I enjoyed sitting on the swing with my Mom and my sister Alli watching the fireworks and laughing about anything and everything! I haven’t felt so carefree and relaxed in a long time.

Brendan was off work yesterday, and since we were both worn out from Sunday’s festivities, we decided to take it easy and simply enjoy each other’s company. We slept in until 10:30 a.m. (I promise I don’t usually sleep that late!), and then just spent the rest of the morning watching Smallville. I was obsessed with Smallville when I was younger, but only watched through the 5th season. So, last year Brendan and I decided to watch through the entire series. We are currently on the 5th season now and loving it! Better late than never, right?

When 3 p.m. rolled around I was starting to feel a change of scenery, so we each grabbed a book (and Brendan’s iPad mini) and headed to Starbucks to hang out for the rest of the afternoon. I actually got a good bit of reading done, which makes me wonder why I don’t go hang out at Starbucks more often.

Brendan wanted to get Cookout for dinner, so we went through the drive thru and then brought our dinner back home so we could be comfy and watch TV while we ate. We ended up watching Cops while we waited for the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks show. 🙂

While it was a super fun and relaxing weekend, I was left feeling like I needed a fresh start today! Slowly, but surely, I’m trying to get back in the habit of working out regularly and eating more vegan meals. Obviously the cheese quesadilla and fries I had from Cookout yesterday were far from being healthy or vegan, but I’m getting back on track and finding new inspiration from other bloggers and Instagramers that I follow. I may not be as tech savvy as some people, but I will say that I do enjoy social media and some of the awesome people I have connected with through Instagram.

Now that my banana bread is done and my clothes need to be dried, I think it’s time to call it a night. I plan on having another post up soon that goes more in depth on how I’ve been adjusting to my new schedule and apartment living. 🙂