On turning 30

My 30th birthday came and went without too much of a quarter/mid-life crisis. There were definitely freakout moments, mind you, but it helped that there were lots of reasons to celebrate the new decade I’m entering.

I’ve been surprised at how frequently I hear that your thirties are often considered the best decade of your life. That’s (supposedly) when you get a lot more clarity about who you are and what you want out of life, and you aren’t afraid to set boundaries to live that vision out (or so I’ve been told). I almost get the sense that you get past the superficial view of how your life should look and instead appreciate what is.

In that respect, I’m excited to start my 30’s. It seems to go hand in hand with what my  “create” year is all about. I’ve recognized how important it is to cultivate attitudes, habits and a mindset consistent with who I want to be. It’s high time I stop wearing my busy badge all the time and calling that a life.

A couple weeks ago (on a day when I really needed to hear it) Liz Gilbert posted this fabulous message:

LG quote

I think it struck me because a lot of my twenties were spent trying to be someone who could handle everything (or as I liked to call it, being “well-rounded and dependable”). I wanted to be Superwoman because I thought it meant having a fulfilling/satisfying life, or at least that I wouldn’t miss out on opportunities. It seemed like a surefire way to make my mark on the world and embrace life to the fullest.

Not so much.

At times it was certainly rewarding and it looked pretty good on paper (again, that superficial stuff), but it also came with a lot of exhaustion and resentment. In fact, I think that’s why Gretchen Rubin’s secret to adulthood that “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do” resonated so much with me. I was spending time and energy on things I wasn’t really designed to do or that I even enjoyed doing.

And this is apparently the stage in life when you start figuring that out. Perhaps not coincidentally, just yesterday this blog post articulated a similar message about turning 30 and reinforced Gilbert’s post. How are you going to spend your life? How do you shift from doing everything to focusing on the key things that bring fulfillment and joy?

What’s interesting is that I progressed on my 30 Before 30 list, I found myself picking up on that. It mattered less that I hit an arbitrary number of books and was more important that I read books that inspired me or changed my perspective on something. Whether I got to visit a new state or not didn’t matter. I was more excited about my travel companions and our shared experiences.

In some sense, it became more about the intangibles. Case in point: my new board of directors role. It’d been on my list to join a board, but before signing the dotted line, I attended two board meetings, had a meet-and-greet with the director and went to a fundraising event to make sure it felt like a good commitment. I didn’t just want to add something to my resume or cross an item off my 30 Before 30 list. I needed to be sure it was value-added to my life (and thus far it’s definitely been that).

That seems to be how my sisters approached planning my birthday weekend, too, which helped me focus less on my milestone age. Through some long-distance planning between the middle and the little, the celebration was more than I could have ever imagined. The sisters planned out three days of activities consistent with my “create” theme and full of events, people and canines I love.

Among other things, I got to go to the “I love my dog” expo with Hurley, managed to get through an escape room (which I’d never heard of before) with five minutes to spare, experienced a fabulously made drink at the speakeasy, got a pedicure, and went to Bottom’s Up, a yoga class offered at our favorite brewery in town. (Not bad googling for the little out on the east coast!)

birthday weekend

The weekend, and other celebrations throughout the month, were really about being in the present and spending quality time with people who love, support and motivate me.

That, my friends, is how you bring on 30.

Although there’s still a bit of apprehension, I think I’m actually ready to take on the new decade in life. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype. 😉

(For those who are curious, there were five on-going goals on my 30 Before 30 list that I started but didn’t quite complete. And based on the content of this post, you probably guessed that I’m more than okay with that.)


Lap dogs

Apparently I’ve started a new tradition for myself. Last year I did the exact same thing on a Sunday evening — put bacon cheeseburger soup in the crockpot, officially switched my pandora station to Christmas music and decorated my tree. (I should also mention that this was last Sunday evening. I’m apparently a bit behind…)

I also took it as an opportunity to trial-run some Christmas photos with Hurley. He’s not super impressed, but my goodness does he look handsome!

Hurley Xmas

This is probably my third attempt at bacon cheeseburger soup (and heaven forbid I use the same recipe). Hands down, this was definitely my favorite rendition of it. It’s cheating a little since I technical combined two recipes. I started with this recipe as the base and incorporated parts of this one to avoid using half-and-half. It could also be because I used italian sausage instead of ground turkey since it was on sale, and I also used a block of cheese as opposed to shredded cheese. I’ve also decided the sliced carrots are the way to go, and celery was a great addition, too.

Regardless of what made this the winning dish, it was delicious!

Cheeseburger soup

The rest of the week was a blur between work and also trying to learn more about a board of directors. As part of my 30 Before 30 list, I went to a board matching event on Veterans Day. It’s more or less a speed dating approach to meeting nonprofits in the area. I really connected with one director who runs a programs for women experiencing homelessness (double win!), so this past week I not only attended a board meeting but also their big fundraising event. It seems to be a promising match, so stay tuned!

Then more excitement came — I’m a doggie aunt again! Meet Millie Vanillie Bean (to match her older sister Mocha Jo).


I seriously can’t get over how small and light-weight she is! It’s also strange to have to watch where you’re walking. Hurley’s pretty present (especially in the kitchen), but this 5-month old girl is so small that I’m afraid I’m going to step on her. You can barely feel her resting her head on you or standing on your lap. That will change as she grows (and I know all too well that goes with my little bear) so I’m taking advantage of it while I can. I think it goes without saying that Miss Millie will grow up surrounded by lots of love and cuddles, not to mention some fun-loving labrador mentors. ❤

Hurley hasn’t met her yet, so we’ll see how he reacts to the news. In the meantime, I’ve kept him busy with holiday photos. He was surprisingly better this year than he was last. It only took about 30 minutes tonight, which may as well be a record for us. When he sat on my lap and gave his aunt this look, though, I knew he was done.

Screen shot 2015-11-22 at 9.46.02 PM

I also confirmed he’s not a fan of his jingle bell collar… At least it’s just a once-a-year event, right? And it pretty much secures his place on the nice list (though I’m probably a bit really biased when it comes to this guy).

Needless to say, we’ve officially kicked off the holiday season in our household!

Four months to go…

My old college roommate had a blog post last week about being six months away from turning 30. It hit me that my milestone birthday is only four months away — a good reminder to check in with my 30 Before 30 List.

I was a bit relieved to find that 21 are officially done. Even better, the remaining are at least in progress. Not that it would be a huge deal or disappointment if I didn’t fully cross those off the list (there might be one or two where I don’t meet the full goal, like number of new states visited). Really this was just my way to not be so overwhelmed at the prospect of turning 30.

Although I have to admit I’ve still been feeling a bit uneasy about this next birthday. In some ways I don’t feel like I’m where I’d like to be as I approach the big 3-0. I’m not married or even in a relationship, I don’t own my own house or have kids on the horizon. But lately I’ve been trying to focus on the silver lining.

Screen shot 2015-10-18 at 7.27.31 PM

I’m not necessarily where I envisioned being at this stage, but I’ve made immeasurable progress in recent years and when I look around, life is pretty damn good. My career is heading in a fantastic direction, I love the activities and organizations I’ve been able to participate in this past year or so, and I’m (clearly) crazy about my furbaby.

And in the meantime, there’s still lots more to accomplish and see in the world. Who knows — maybe I’ll even end up creating a 35 Before 35 List. Then again, maybe not….

1. Explore the options for becoming a certified life coach In progress…I’ve got an excel file with my options and met with a life coach to talk through them
2. Publish in some capacity DONE!
3. Volunteer with a new nonprofit DONE! 
4. Find a work mentor DONE! 
5. Obtain a new job, ideally public health related DONE!
6. Reach out to nonprofit consultants to chart a path to get to that career DONE!
7. Join a professional organization DONE!
8. Look into joining a board of directors for a nonprofit I’m passionate about In progress…attending a panel discussion followed by a board matching event in a couple weeks

1. Train for and run a 5K DONE! And did a second one, too!
2. Learn to meditate In progress…attending a class on Nov. 5
3. Buy a bike DONE!
4. Get a full physical / health assessment DONE!
5. Log 2,000 miles DONE! Hit my final mile for it on 10/17/15

One Time Events
1. Take a community education class DONE! And still taking quite a few
2. Adopt a dog DONE! By far the best accomplishment on this list ❤
3. Have a technology-free weekend DONE! 
4. Watch a movie in a theater by myself DONE! About to do this for a play, too
5. Donate blood DONE!
6. Do one random act of kindness for a stranger
7. Go to a non-work related conference DONE!
8. Type up my baby journals and publish into a book DONE!
9. Create and maintain the quotes/life lessons journal DONE!
10. Host a dinner/holiday party DONE!

On-Going Efforts
1. Read 90 books In progress…20 more to go
2. Find a way to permanently store/organize all my photo and mementos In progress…it would help if I would stop taking photos
3. Keep a gratitude journal for 30 days DONE!
4. Visit 7 new states so I’ll have visited 30 states total In progress…three more go visit
5. Write and send 30 homemade cards to family and friends In progress…9 more to write and send
6. Participate in a book club In progress…the one I was supposed to join in October got postponed
7. Hit 500 blog posts DONE! My thankful Thursday post on the leadership institute put me at 500

Beauty in Books 8 and the secret of life

I couldn’t entirely decide which direction to take this post, so I can’t promise it will be cohesive or flow well (and it definitely won’t be short). But it’s something that I’m slowly connecting the dots on in my own mind and wanted to share.

About a week ago the middle and I were watching Girl Meets World (you can laugh, but the show is surprisingly good and very reminiscent of our TGIF days). One of the episodes focused on discovering the secret of life, which Cory Matthews claims is simply that “People change people.”

In some ways that’s very true. I couldn’t even begin to count how many people have shaped and influenced me, whether they’re family members, teachers, colleagues or even dogs. Throughout my entire life, people have absolutely changed me.

I’d argue, though, that another big secret of life (and one I think we often forget) is that you can change yourself.

A few years ago, when I was probably 40 pounds heavier and hadn’t fallen in love with group fitness classes, I asked the middle if she could ever see me, honestly and realistically, running a 5K. After a few moments passed, she said no. I can’t remember her exact explanation, but it essentially boiled down to the fact that while I probably physically could someday, I didn’t seem to have the gumption to actually train and accomplish it. And she was right. At my size, I honestly didn’t believe I could.


(As a total side note, I sent this to the middle and the little about two years ago as part of our Woof Wednesday health motivation emails. The little replied with a “From what corner of hell are you dragging these out?” Reading it still cracks me up! And I should probably apologize for now making it public…)

Flash forward to yesterday, where the middle and I ran a 5K together. It’s my second one, though this one had far less training on my part but surprisingly a much faster time. That’s change, my friends.

Kolor Run

I firmly believe you can change yourself, but I think it’s important to know yourself first. A co-worker and fellow life chatter of mine has a quote on her desk that we often reflect on that, in some ways, applies here — to be a good leader, you have to know people. To know people, you have to know yourself.

In comes Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It essentially outlines a range of research about building and sustaining habits, in part based on your personality. This is a succinct version, but I was struck by the four tendencies she outlines at the beginning of the book. Not surprisingly, I’m an obliger. (The middle is likely a rebel, which is why she did a whopping two runs before showing up for the 5K yet still kicked butt.)

That’s when things started clicking for me. A little more than a year ago I posted about my weightloss journey and mentioned a big part of my success has been because of group fitness classes. Finding physical activity I love to do did make a big difference. But do you know what I think made a bigger difference? Having that external accountability from the instructor and others in the class.

“Because Obligers resist inner expectations, it’s difficult for them to self-motivate — to work on a PhD thesis, to attend networking events, to get their car serviced. Obligers depend on external accountability, with consequences such a deadlines, late fees, or the fear of letting other people down. … Obligers need external accountability even for activities that they want to do.” (pg. 22)

Even though I love kickboxing and spin, a huge motivator for me is knowing I’ve got instructors who will ask where I’ve been if I’ve missed one too many classes. Heck, I love that my old kickboxing instructor in Columbia “likes” all the activities I log on MyFitnessPal. It’s why I religiously track my workouts in Excel and love my FitBit. I need that external accountability. In the case of the 5K, it was having a specific date for the run and knowing the middle was counting on me.  That’s what works for me (though knowing this years ago likely would have saved me a lot of time and energy…).

There’s another concept within the book that really resonated with me as well. It’s this notion that often our habits and behavior are in line with what others think of us and what we think of ourselves.

“Research shows that we tend to believe what we hear ourselves say, and the way we describe ourselves influences our view of our identify, and from there, our habits. If I say, ‘I’m lazy,’ ‘I can’t resist a sale,’ ‘I’ll try anything once,’ ‘I never start work until the last minute,’ or ‘I’m lucky,’ those ideas become part of my identity, which in turn influences my actions.” (pg. 239)

Just a few sentences later I had another a-ha moment: “For years, I thought of myself as someone who ‘hates exercise,’ but at some point I realized that I hated sports. … Thinking of myself as someone who ‘enjoys exercise’ allowed me to change the way I viewed my nature, and that helped me to become a regular exerciser.” (pg. 240)

That’s exactly how I was. It required a mindset shift on my part. Just because I disliked sports and gym class growing up didn’t mean I had to dislike all exercise for the rest of my life. Hell, I’ve reached a point where I almost identify myself as a jogger (and I say jogger because running still seems a bit too intense and implies that I’m fast, which is again an identity thing). It almost reminds me of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Continually tell yourself you’re not able to do a 5K and, chances are, you’re not going to be able to.

It’s all incredibly fascinating to me, but the thing I always want to keep in mind is that it’s still up to me to make that change. I show up. I push myself. I make it part of my life. I’ve had and still have people supporting and motivating me, but ultimately it was me that had to change. And I think that’s why Rubin’s book resonated with me so much. It’s about recognizing your preferences, identifying potential pitfalls and barriers, then finding ways to work around it so that you can create an environment and lifestyle that’s consistent with your goals.

Perhaps knowing that you can change yourself isn’t such a big secret to life. Maybe it’s just that we need a few tricks up our sleeve and reminders of our amazing capability to do so. And I definitely had a good reminder of that yesterday.

Intentional living space

I’ve been somewhat quiet about my word for the year, though I can assure you it’s not because I’ve forgotten about it or put it on the back burner. I’d be lame and say it’s because I’m trying to be intentional about what I post about my pursuits, but that’s not the case either.

Having to move did throw me for a loop in terms of kicking off the year. The things I thought I would get to focus on in terms of intention (time and energy were the big ones) fell to the wayside a bit. But it’s also been a perfect opportunity to be intentional about something a little different — and something I probably wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Right now I’m trying to be intentional about my living space.

Last week I took a community education class on feng shui, which was actually my second class on it with the same instructor because I find her so engaging. Plus it’s an interesting way to think about home décor and de-cluttering. One of the big points she stressed (though I’ve heard it elsewhere before) is that everything in your house should be useful, sentimental or beautiful. When I walk into my house, does it feel like home? Does it reflect me? Are there any items that spur negative emotions (the example the instructor gave is high school year books if you hated high school) that I can toss or donate?

Despite purging quite a bit last year when I moved to Lincoln, it’s ridiculous how quickly stuff can accumulate again. And thankfully this time around my level of sentimentalism (if that’s even a word) has decreased a bit since my move this time is 5 minutes instead of 5 hours. I can be more intentional about what stays and what goes. Have I actually used all my clothes, kitchen items and crafts in the last year? Am I honestly going to look through my economics or foundations of new governance notes again?

Those tend to be more rational questions, though. This time (although I’ll preface that it sounds a bit new age….) I’ve been aided by what I learned in my feng shui classes and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to focus on how I feel about objects. (Again, I know it sounds strange.)

As an example, though, I love my custom-built kitchen counter (hello new coffee bar!) and my entertainment center (which will likely become a new color in the next couple weeks). Those are pieces that were crafted with hard work and family, that are specific to me and what I love. You couldn’t pay me to give those things up in the move.

But there are also items that I’m not crazy about or that don’t necessarily bring out those positive emotions. That’s where I’m trying to be more intentional about sending them on their merry way.

With seemingly perfect timing, just a couple days ago someone on facebook posted a #40bagsin40days challenge. I immediately decided to embark on it to help with this process. Not only will it help me with packing and setting up my new house, but it will also help me accomplish my 30 Before 30 goal of going through my photos and computer files. The focus of just one area a day (though the next few days are about to get hectic with that), helps me take baby steps and not feel so overwhelmed with all the clutter (though it’s primarily the electronic clutter that’s driving me nuts). Just yesterday I whittled my work inbox down to nine emails. NINE!

But I digress.

I think part of the reason I was so resistant to moving is that I love what my home became. For the first time since leaving my parent’s house a decade ago, I feel like my living space finally reflects me and the things I love. But my hunch is that will happen much faster in my new home. I’ve been given another opportunity to purge and be intentional about what goes where — with more space and a sunroom!

your home

If only the long process of packing and physical moving didn’t come first…

Thankful Thursday #15

I really need to get better about this blog series…

Usually after the holidays, I’m in a bit of a funk. It’s cold, I have to get back into the daily grind and there isn’t a vacation/holiday/celebration on my radar. This year was no exception. I was somewhat dreading Monday, not wanting to face reality again (not to mention the single-digit weather).

Then Sunday morning, I changed my perspective (although admittedly it wasn’t intentional). Turns out at some point in the night, my furnace decided to stop working correctly. When I woke up, it was a chilly 55 degrees. I layered up, put on a large pot of coffee and reached out to my landlord.

Within a few hours I had heat again. And for some reason, all I could think was how lucky I was. I had the means and resources (even down to an incredibly responsive landlord) to warm up within just a few hours. How many things do I complain about, even if it’s just internally, that someone would love to have? How many things do I take for granted?

That’s what kicked off my gratitude/intention journal (I even found this baby on clearance!), which is something I’d had in mind anyway since it’s one of my 30 Before 30 goals.

intention journal

I didn’t want to restrict this to just things I’m feeling grateful for on a given day, in part because it’s more far-reaching than that. I’m also hoping to track successes, if you will, of being intentional with my attitude. If I go into work or a date thinking that it’s going to suck, then I’m likely going to have that outcome. My attitude has the capacity to make a situation better or worse, and ideally I’d like to have more of the former than the latter.

Back in November I attended a Happiness Summit in town. (Yes, I’m dedicated a Saturday to a free seminar on happiness. But it was so worth it — and let me cross something off my 30 Before 30 list!) Two things stood out to me that are very much in line with this topic.

The first was based on research from Sonja Lyubomirksy in The How of Happiness. Our level of happiness is generally based on three areas. One is genetics, which accounts for 50 percent. What’s interesting, though, is that only 10 percent of happiness is a result of your circumstances while the remaining 40 percent is based on intentional activity. My attitude and actions really can play a big role in how content I am, moreso than the circumstances I’m experiencing.

What was also interesting is one of the presenters (the author of What Happy People Know) spent a few minutes talking about gratitude. Specifically he outlined the difference between gratitude and appreciation, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since.

According to Dr. Baker, with being grateful there’s often a sense of obligation to someone or something. And that’s not meant to have a negative connotation. As an example, I’m incredibly grateful for my family. That comes with a sense of obligation in that I would be there for them at the drop of a hat, no questions asked. It’s like you want to reciprocate what this person or thing brought to your life. That’s what feeling gratitude is about.

Appreciation, on the other hand, doesn’t have any strings attached. You can appreciate, for example, a great piece of art or well-written article or green buds on the trees (if only we were so lucky!). I don’t have to do anything with that feeling other than enjoy it.

It probably just boils down to rhetoric, but somehow that distinction changed my perspective on maintaining a gratitude journal. I’ve often been really bad at keeping such journals because, let’s face it, some days are just crappy and it’s hard for me to channel an attitude of gratitude. But if I can find one thing that I appreciate — a good cup of coffee, a great quote from a book or even a working furnace — then perhaps I’ll see the good after all.

30 Before 30 halfway point

Well my friends, we’ve reached the halfway point! (And by we, I really just mean I.)

I’ve been meaning to post this for a few weeks (since technically it’s slightly more than the halfway now…), but I kept going back and forth on a few changes to my list. But regardless, from the time I initially published my 30 Before 30 list until my 30th birthday, I’m at the midway point. It’s almost hard to believe.

Hitting that mark did send me into a brief panic. It’d been more than six months since I blogged about my list and I haven’t been particularly good at deliberately working toward those goals. Thankfully, though, I’ve managed to make a lot more progress than I thought. Thirteen of the items are done (you can tell I’ve been focusing on my career as of late…) and I’ve made pretty good progress on nine additional ones. Not too shabby!

I did end up making a few more changes to the list, primarily in the interest of time but also because of where my motivations are at right now. I’m hoping this is the final list, but you just never know with me…

1. Explore the options for becoming a certified life coach
2. Publish in some capacity DONE!
3. Volunteer with a new nonprofit DONE! (Alzheimer’s Association and the public library)
4. Find a work mentor DONE! (First meeting was two weeks ago and we’re chatting again this week! I really think it’s going to be a fantastic match)
5. Obtain a new job, ideally public health related DONE!
6. Reach out to nonprofit consultants to chart a path to get to that career In progress… (Took an e-course through the American Evaluation Association and my mentor is going to help me draft a business plan)
7. Join a professional organization DONE! (AEA and the Public Health Association of NE)
8. Look into joining a board of directors for a nonprofit I’m passionate about In progress… (Meeting with the young professional group since they organize a board matching event)

1. Train for and run a 5K DONE!
2. Learn to meditate
3. Buy a bike DONE!
4. Get a full physical / health assessment
5. Log 2,000 miles In progress… (currently at 1,094 miles)

One Time Events
1. Take a community education class DONE! (Yoga, Intro to Feng Shui and belly dancing. And they were three separate courses, not all in one…)
2. Adopt a dog DONE! (I mean, I make it pretty obvious I’ve got one now…)
3. Have a technology-free weekend
4. Watch a movie in a theater by myself DONE!
5. Donate blood
6. Do one random act of kindness for a stranger
7. Go to a non-work related conference DONE! (Happiness Summit in Lincoln on Nov. 8)
8. Type up my baby journals and publish into a book DONE!
9. Create and maintain the quotes/life lessons journal In progress… (I have a few entries done but I’m not sure at what point it constitutes being completed on this list)
10. Host a dinner/holiday party DONE!

On-Going Efforts
1. Read 100 books In progress… (45 down, 55 to go)
2. Find a way to permanently store/organize all my photo and mementos In progress… (I’ve cleaned out nearly 2,000 photos from my computer)
3. Keep a gratitude journal for 30 days
4. Visit 7 new states so I’ll have visited 30 states total In progress… (three more to go)
5. Write and send 30 homemade cards to family and friends In progress… (17 done, 13 left)
6. Participate in a book club
7. Hit 500 blog posts In progress… (this makes 451)

Accomplished summer goals

School is apparently back in session and I suppose that technically marks the end of summer (not that you’d be able to tell based on the weather the last week or two). Although last week I posted about the notion that life isn’t about adding experiences to your life list or resume, I still felt like I should “report out” on my summer activities. Besides, it’s been a draft post I’ve updated all summer held me accountable the last few months.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the new approach I took for my summer goals. Trying 12 new things throughout the summer was much more manageable and I didn’t have to go all OCD to get it accomplished. And surprisingly, I got pretty close to doing almost one new activity each week.

So what did my summer consist of in terms of personal growth (aka: my 30 Before 30 List and #100fitdays challenge) and getting to know Lincoln?

  1. Joined the American Evaluation Association (June 5). And from that I got to participate in an eStudy course on becoming an evaluation consultant. Double win!
  2. Attended a Salt Dogs baseball game (June 13).
  3. Started volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association (June 18).
  4. Attended a Meetup group meeting for 20s and 30s young professionals (June 25).
  5. Tried a BodyPump class (July 7). I could barely move the next day, but I’ve been going to the class once a week (in part because the instructor now knows me and holds me accountable…)
  6. Took a eight-week Intro to Yoga class (July 14). I still suck at it but it’s surprisingly done wonders for my hips.
  7. Took a community education class on feng shui (July 17). Technically it wasn’t my first community ed class, but the other two have been activity based, making it feel like a gym class.
  8. Went canoeing with the middle on the Elkhorn River (July 25).
  9. Started teaching a new session of Living Well, which is Nebraska’s chronic disease self-management program (July 30).
  10. Toured Pioneers Park (August 3). Seeing a real moose was incentive enough for me to go back. So many trails to explore with Hurley (though he gets a little too excited thinking it’s like the dog park and advocates to run free).
  11. Fell in love with a new coffee shop (August 5). It’s a little out of my way in the morning, but once I got a free large coffee out of it!
  12. Tried a class at the zumba studio in town (August 16).

I should almost include the three trips to the vet that I took this summer (which technically took place in just the last eight weeks…). Some aspects of summer (namely bees and pollen) apparently got the better of my little guy.

Aside from those minor incidents, though, I have to say that summer was a smashing success. I’m feeling more comfortable in my new city, with my job and being Hurley’s mama. Although it still feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, I certainly made the most of them.


The best part is that fall is right around the corner, and that’s undoubtedly my favorite time of year. In fact, I’ve already got another list started that includes picking apples and going to the pumpkin patch. Plus I can’t forget that I’ve got four months left of daring myself (side note: best theme and year ever!). There’s still so much to experience and explore!

But for now, I’m going to snuggle with Hurley (perk of the vet: medicine makes him cuddly) and listen to the rain. I’ve earned some relaxation after a few busy weeks.


Summer “goals”

I often go back and forth on the need for goals (not the long-term ones, mind you, but more along the lines of the monthly goals I had last year). Although I love creating them, it’s important to make sure that they’re meaningful, that I’m not just using it to fill some void or distract me from the larger goals I really want to pursue but seem intimidating.

A few weeks ago I got an email from the librarian that managed to light a fire in me again. Without fail, he’s always asked, “What’s the next big thing for Liz?”

Great question.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve necessarily become complacent. I prefer to look at it as giving myself a breather once I made the big move, particularly after getting Hurley. Although I’m the type of over-commit and get overly involved, I wanted to instead take it slow in developing my own routine and getting comfortable with my new surroundings.

All that being said, it’s time for me to be more diligent about embracing the good life. So I did what I do best: I googled, researched, made lists, and put 10+ books on hold at the library. It was through that process that discovered the Packing Light book, which then led me to the author’s blog. While I was skimming that, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I got to this post. It was exactly what I was doing.

It was my intention to come up with a list of summer goals. In fact, I’d already started a draft post with about half a dozen goals. But then I decided enough was enough. As the author so eloquently stated, “What I’m talking about is how, at some point, you have to stop asking, stop researching, stop polling the audience, and start living.”

That’s what I intend to focus on this summer.

Instead of being specific and laying out all my goals for the summer, I’ve decided my approach will be to try 12 new things. During my research phase I created a googledoc of different places, events and organizations to check out to feel more connected to the community. It could be as simple as trying a local coffee shop or as intimidating as going to a meetup group activity (because I naturally joined three during my crazy googling spree).

It’s also my intent to have some of these new ventures be connected to larger goals I have on my 30 Before 30 list or as part of my year of daring myself. That includes things like taking up a volunteer activity (turned in my application for the library last week!), learning yoga (starting with the basics, not just by jumping into a class) and joining a professional organization.

Particularly given the range of activities, I didn’t want to specifically say I’d do one new thing for each week of the summer (and really, I’m not sure if it’s actually 12 weeks, but that’s about what I remember and seems like a good number). In part I avoided that since I knew I would beat myself up if, by week five, I didn’t accomplish something for that specific week. Plus I already know two of my events will occur during the same week. I didn’t want experiencing Lincoln to be too rigid or stressful.

The bottom line through all of this is that it should be fun. I don’t want it to be a chore or something on my to-do list. I want it to be a way to start living the good life in Lincoln. It already started with a bang on Friday night at the minor league baseball game. Gorgeous weather, a new friend and an exciting game. Not a bad way to kick off my summer.

2014-06-13 21.00.23

One down, 11 to go!

Before 30 mantra

The other day I realized that I’ve spent a lot of time blogging about recipes and food (nine of my last ten, to be exact…). That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but I miss the more interesting posts about DIY projects and life musings. I promise I have a few things in the works (primarily life chatty related, but hopefully craft related, too). In this meantime, hopefully this will suffice.

I’ve been re-visiting my 30 Before 30 List (don’t worry — no changes from the most recent version) to see my progress. With that on the brain, you can bet I wanted to read the 30 Things You Should Learn By The Time You Turn 30 article. I particularly like the third comment/lesson:

Good and bad things don’t happen to you, they just happen. Sometimes, the bad guy wins. Sometimes the hero doesn’t get the girl. I promise you that no one is sitting around conspiring to make you miserable. Life happens. It’s how you deal with the bad stuff and how graciously you accept the good stuff that makes you who you are.

Seems cliché, but that’s probably what makes it true. Thankfully that’s the shift in perspective I’ve had in the last year that perhaps comes with age.

For awhile my life mantra, if you will, was “it is what it is.”  I’ve since (thankfully) softened that approach. Not that it was a bad one persay, but the underlying message was moreso a “well, I can’t control what other people do or say so I just have to learn to deal with it and focus on controlling my attitude.” Not particularly helpful (and obviously my Type A control issues are quite prevalent…).

Instead what I’ve been discovering is a different cliché that’s becoming my new mantra: you get what you give.

If I portray a bad attitude or mood, that’s likely what I’m going to get in return. If I sit around and sulk, that’s not going to change the situation. Not that there isn’t a time and place for a good pity party, and I’m not going to fake being in a fantastic mood if I’m mad at the world. But like the lesson above, it’s how you deal with things that makes you who you are. “It is what it is” almost lets me blame the world. “You get what you give” puts it back on me.

There’s another quote I discovered recently that’s somewhat connect to that notion: “When you have a bad day, a really bad day, try and treat the world better than it treated you.” I don’t have to be brimming with positivity every minute of the day. Life happens, and there’s going to be good and bad. That’s life.

I guess with my new perspective, I’m just hoping to put more good out into the world than I am bad. It’s time to be a better giver, not just accept that it is what it is.




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