Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Eat Your Way Through Chicago

On the whole we had a fabulous trip to Chicago.  We went on a culinary tour through the city, and it was awesome (and pricey).  Thursday afternoon the husband and I had a late lunch at The Gage thanks to a recommendation from my hip sister-in-law, Casey, where I dined on a steak salad with an Allagash White beer. Later in the afternoon we stopped in Eataly with my brother-in-law, Tom, for a beer and some Italian wine shopping. We then met up with the my husband's siblings and had a fantastic Mexican dinner of spicy shrimp tacos and misty’s sleeve cocktail (el tesoro platinum, ginger, hibiscus, orange, yucateco, hibiscus salt - delicous) at Mercadito.  We followed dinner with a night cap at a swanky bar called Untitled and a glass of Malbec.

Friday we got up and grabbed a green smoothie and eggs breakfast at Protein Bar, with a donut dessert for the husband at Dazed and Infused Donut Shop

We met up with Allison, my SIL, and her hubs for a day exploring the Art Institute. I was impressed with the size of the museum. It is massive and we didn't even get to see all the exhibits. We may have hit up half, because I than got hangry and demanded we eat immediately, if not sooner. We ended up grabbing lunch at Exchequer Pub. My black and blue burger, no bun, was good, but to be honest, anything would've tasted good at that point!  This girl does not do well with a missed meal!  That afternoon I met a friend for a glass of wine at the Lockwood Bar at the Palmer House Hilton.  We've had three babies between us since the last time we saw each other so there was lots to catch up on!  I then ventured out in a cab to meet the husband and his childhood BFF at a vintage bar called Headquarters Beercade where I tested my drinking tolerance by having a huge Blanche du Bruxelles beer.  We finished off the night with the best pizza in the city at Lou Malnati's. They luckily had a gluten free pizza for me to enjoy that was good, but it didn't hold a candle to their signature deep dish.  I'm thinking it might be worth the stomach aches to indulge in the real thing the next trip.

Saturday was wedding day!  Unfortunately it was also cold and rainy, but hubs and I got out anyway and found ourselves at Lyfe Kitchen where they had a Gluten Free menu  (along with a regular and vegan/vegetarian menus to choose from)!  I loved this restaurant and wish one would come to Atlanta (I'd say Macon, but, well, that's just not going to happen).  I got my nails done in the afternoon with another girlfriend and didn't really eat a real lunch (does a green juice and bar count?).  We were planning to meet friends for a drink at 4 before leaving for the wedding venue at 5.  So, of course, at 3:45 I'm fully dressed and sitting in the hotel bar about to order an appetizer and cocktail when my phone rings.  Husband was frantic asking where his suit was.  Turns out it was hanging in his closet in Macon.  Not ideal when you're less than an hour and a half from attending a wedding in Chicago. So we went on mad dash shopping excursion and somehow found an off the rack Tommy Hillfiger navy suit that is actually quite sharp.  Thank you Nordstrom Rack!

The wedding was beautiful and a blast.  Dan and Elizabeth were gorgeous and just glowing all evening.  I'm not sure the last time I danced as much as I did that night. I'm now wondering if I'm too old to go clubbing. And if there are clubs in Macon.... We'll have to look into that. It was one of the most fun weddings I've ever been to and I came away with a new favorite song - Shut Up and Dance.  Turn it up when you're having a down day and you'll be smiling in no time!  

It was a great trip. There's always a bittersweetness that lingers when we leave after a trip to Chicago. I think we can both envision a great life there and would love to be closer to family and friends up there.  Maybe one day.  Although, I think it'd be a pretty shocking cost of living adjustment to go to Chicago after living in Macon!  At least we get to visit often, and maybe I wouldn't love the Windy City if I actually lived there.  The 40 degree weather at the end of April is something I could certainly do without.

So now all Todd's fraternity brothers are married, which is sort of sad. There are no more gatherings on the horizon.  Maybe we can entice everyone to come to Macon for a visit.... 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Travel Packing for this Dummy

Am I the only one who has a moment of panic when packing for an upcoming trip? Suddenly everything in my closet is wrong. My shoes. My tops. My accessories. It is ridiculous. I don’t know why, but more times than not, before a trip I feel the need to go shopping. Which is completely backwards if you think about it – you’re going away to see people who you either don’t know at all or who rarely see you and therefore have no idea what is new versus your go-to tried-and-true outfits. It’s the people at home who realize you wear the exact same dress every Wednesday.

The husband and I are heading to Chicago tomorrow for four days and three nights of childfree adventure. I’m perhaps most looking forward to 3 nights of uninterrupted sleep. But I’m also excited about the fact that we’re going to one of my favorite cities. I LOVE Chicago. One day I hope we live in a condo in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. At this point it will have to wait until we’re empty nesters because this girl is not going back to city living anytime soon. But when we do, I picture us in Chicago. I love that it’s a real, walkable city. There is just something about the Windy City that sets this girls heart afloat. I don’t know if it’s because it’s my man’s hometown. Or the fact that I’ve never been to NYC so I can’t compare the two. But I adore Chicago. I love walking down Michigan Avenue. I love going down to Navy Pier and sightseeing on a boat tour or just taking in the sights. I love the shopping. I love the museums (we have the Art Institute on schedule for Friday, which I’ve never been to!). I even love riding the train. And who doesn’t love taking in a Cubs game?! Or grabbing a drink at the top of the Cock.

Admittedly, I don’t heart all these things in the winter quite as much, but one of my favorite trips was in December when my now-husband, then-boyfriend and I had only been dating a year.  We went up for his father’s retirement party and I was gifted tickets to Wicked by his parents as an early Christmas present. So after the retirement lunch at Bucket of Pepto, we strolled around the city with a stop in Marshall Fields for me to buy new shoes to replace the uncomfortable 4 inch wedges I thought were a good idea on the plane. We ate dinner at some diner, walked around an outdoor Christmas bonanza and then took in the show. It was a perfect day, even with the wind chill.

But that bad shoe choice has stuck with me. So now whenever we go to Chicago, I know we’re going to be walking much more than normal and I always feel my shoes are all wrong – I want them cute yet comfortable, which obviously I don’t own (for those that don’t’ know, I have a bit of a shoe obsession and have more shoes than is necessary). But you can’t buy a new pair of shoes a day before a trip and expect to not have blisters from wearing them all over the city. And the reality is that my current shoes are just fine. But my head gets all worried that I have the wrong stuff.  I think it’s the whole issue of only being able to bring a few things and then worrying I’ll hate what I brought and regret my choices.

I’m sounding more nuts as I continue, aren’t I?

Well, I went out and bought a bunch of new Spring tops this weekend. (Marshalls is my go-to store. I bought 6 tops and a pair of white jeans for under $160. So at least I’m a thrifty gal.  I did walk away from 2 killer Diane von Furstenberg dresses that I’m already regretting though.  Aren’t they cute? Yes I text my mom while in a dressing room. What of it?) So I have a bunch of new cutesy tops to wear this weekend, only problem is the high is about 52 each day we’ll be there.  So it’s my old, go-to sweaters to the rescue.

Moral of the story: Wear what you got girl. And don't look so angry in dressing room selfies.  Also, wear makeup and brush your hair.  Life lessons I'm clearly still learning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Tuesday!

I saw this quote late last night when I was perusing Pinterest for kitchen ideas. It struck me.

Am I stuck in waiting? Or am I moving forward and the pace is just s.l.o.w. I'm honestly not sure.

I feel like I keep waiting for the right time; or for a decision to become clear; or for someone else to just make the choice for me. All signs point to ME needing to actively make a decision rather than just bobbing along with the water.

I think I know the dream. It's becoming clearer. I just need to take the risk and jump. Or maybe I have and my jump is not off a cliff but one hop at a time. I need to remember that it's ok to be the turtle.

I just don't want to wake up one day and realize I've been waiting this whole time. Ok, enough riddles for one morning.

Happy Tuesday. Hope you're out there living your deans!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Building Your Circle

Last Thursday was a good day. I saw three of my girls. I spent two hours catching up on life with the first over a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon. The other two came to a Beautycounter social and stayed long after the other guests had left. We could’ve kept talking for hours had the alarm clock and another work day not been lurking in the shadows. These three are my circle. My go to girls when I have issues with work, marriage, children, anxiety/depression and life. The bonds have been formed over many years – one as far back as ten years ago and the “newest” already four years strong. I know they don’t judge my brand of crazy and they are there with honest words of wisdom or an ear if I just need to talk. I’m lucky to call each one my friend.

But they’re all in Atlanta, where I no longer live. Thankfully the distance hasn’t caused any cracks in the friendships. But I get a twinge of depression anytime I see them now, knowing that I don’t have those close friends yet in Macon. I don’t have a circle here. It’s more of a dot or a speck.

I know it takes time. I’ve only been here six months, and in that time I’ve met some great women. Many of them I already consider friends and some I see so much potential for building close friendships. I know I need to be patient – you can’t force closeness and you can’t force connection. It has to happen in time and there needs to be a level of trust established. But I do hope to grow a circle here.

What I hope for the most is the honest friendships like I have with the handful in Atlanta. My friends and I were talking last Thursday about how there’s too much that people don’t talk about, and it can make you feel isolated. It can make you think something is wrong with you. Luckily my girls talk. And I like to talk. I like putting it out there. And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view point), I just don’t know any other way to be. I am who I am. Like me or leave me. I’d just rather be blunt than dishonest. So I hope to find some girls here who don’t mind sharing their ugly and who find comfort in having friends who lack a filter.

Making new friends really is like dating. There’s the fear of rejection and the nerves before calling to schedule a “date”. The hope that they like you too! And it’s even harder when you’re trying to find new couple friends – I mean, how often do you and your spouse both click with another couple? So far we’ve been extremely lucky to have a few of those couple friendships brewing here.

So we’re still settling in. For a while I wished I could transplant my girls from Atlanta to Macon so they’d be closer. But now I’m feeling lucky that my circle will slowly widen to include even more fabulous women. I know some people disagree, but I think you can never have too many people in your corner. Especially when those people enjoy a good glass of wine and are fun dinner companions. Even better if they have little people to keep your little people occupied while you enjoy that glass of wine!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mantra Testing

My 2015 mantra to "LET IT GO" is being challenged in a serious way.  I am so trying to roll with the flow and let life happen, but I am struggling man. The lack of control is driving me batty. I'm starting to see why people don't make new year's resolutions or intentions - once you put it out there it feels like the universe is conspiring to see how well you can play out that intention.  Perhaps I shouldn't have chosen a mantra that is also the theme song to a popular Disney movie. I mean, it didn't work out so hot for Elsa there for a while.

So what am I struggling to let go of?

Our kitchen renovation. It came to yet another screeching halt yesterday.  As a recap, the first bump came with designer #1's $6,000 design price tag. Womp womp. At which point we changed directions and found a design-build firm who only charged $500 for the design, which gets refunded back to you if you sign on with them to do your project. I've met with designer #2 over a handful of times. Measurements have been taken. Design plans drawn up. Contractors have come to the house to provide their estimates for plumbing, electrical, HVAC and flooring. All of this was supposedly coming up on budget.

Then, last week designer #2 called to tell me that we needed to increase our budget $7,000 to correct the uneven floor, or we'd have to go with laminate or some other floating floor option, which they weren't really keen on. So I asked for a meeting with the designer, the owner of the company who made this decision and also asked for a breakdown of the budget to see where all the other money was being allocated. I asked for this meeting last Wednesday, but for whatever reason they couldn't meet us until 9am Tuesday morning. Then at 8am that morning I got a call from designer #2 saying they just couldn't do the project and would refund me our money. Apparently she could not get the numbers to work the whole time, even without the $7,000 bump. I never did see a budget breakdown, so I'm still not sure what the real story is. But I took my money back, cried a tear or two of frustration and decided the husband and I can tackle being our own general contractor. This should be a fun adventure.

Then there's my j.o.b. I know, I know, ain't nobody supposed to talk publicly about their job. I get it. But the fact of the matter is that things with my legal job are totally up in the air. I'm struggling to just be chill about the whole thing. I want to know the end result. I want to know where this is going. I want to know the destination.  I am really trying to enjoy the journey, but I'm finding that difficult with all the uncertainty. And yes, there was a big thing that happened recently to shake up the uncertainty even more than it already was, but at the end of the day, I'm still employed and I still am bringing home decent money for my family. I'm trying to focus on those things and less about titles and what may transpire down the road. I know I need to let go of the fear around this and just ride it out.

I'm also trying to let go of the speed with which my Beautycounter business is growing. By all accounts I'm doing a great job. I'm only in my 2nd full month and I'm completely happy with my progress, but it's hard to not compare to the speed of some of the other consultants. I see other consultants building their team each day (we have a huge support network on facebook, so I see when someone adds a new member) and so far I haven't recruited anyone. I know in time it will happen, but it is hard to not compare and feel like your'e doing something wrong. I know they may be doing Beuatycounter as a full time job and have much more time to commit to their business than I do, but it's hard to fight off that self-doubt. I am finding that motivation is something you have to give your self on a daily basis. It comes and goes.  But I'm trying to remind myself that as long as I keep moving forward, things are good. There is no competition for growing the fastest. I know in my heart that slow and steady is the right and perfect way for me, but sometimes I lose sight of that and want it to happen now.

It's just been an emotional couple of weeks. Everyone in our house has also been sick, so I know that's not helping things. I know I'm worrying my husband - he bears the brunt of it when I collapse and flip the switch from my usual positive self to walking around under the negative dark cloud that sometimes appears. I'm grateful to have him walking beside me and holding my hand when I need it the most.  

So I'm going to just keep singing along with Elsa and let the storm rage on.  And maybe for 2016 I'll go with Hakuna Matata as my mantra.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Idea

Mother's Day is exactly one month from today.  Instead of finding a last minute gift the day before that your wife or mom will feel ho hum about, why not plan ahead and buy her something she'll love this year?  Beautycounter has some great Mother's Day gift sets that are available until May 5th (though to ensure they get here before May 10, you may want to order early).  My favorite product is sold in the Renew & Refresh Set - and I have no doubt the special mom in your life will love our Nourishing Cleansing Balm too!  I'm not the only one who thinks it's great - check out reviews herehere and here.  It takes off all my makeup, cleanses and moisturizes my face and keeps it looking great.  This product also works great for eczema and any dry/cracked skin (I use it on my heels)!

Shop the special Mother's Day sets and all our products here.  Or contact me for helping putting together a customized set of products for your special mom!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When the Attacks Come Back

I have to admit I've been feeling really good about myself the past few months and had actually believed the anxiety attacks were behind me. Turns out it was time for me to be knocked off my high horse. I had a panic attack Friday night at dinner and then the beginnings of another one last night before a Beautycounter social got underway.  It starts with my heart racing and then I simply panic (hence the name...) and sometimes I get it under control, yet other times it just spirals. Friday night it spiraled. Last night I reigned it in, thankfully.

Friday night we were out to dinner with my sister-in-law and her husband to my favorite restaurant in Macon (coincidentally it was the same restaurant where I had my last attack in December on our first double date with my Tuesday Morning friend). We were finishing dinner when the heart pounding began.  I tried so hard to will it away, reminding myself there was nothing to worry about. But it devolved until I found myself sitting on my bed holding the bottle of Xanax with tears streaming down my face.  The medication was there for a reason, yet I couldn't make myself take it. In the moment I felt like taking the medicine would amount to failure on my part. So I just sat there staring at the orange bottle still filled with 15 small, white pills. I couldn't calm down, yet I couldn't open the bottle. I felt so conflicted. Eventually, reason won out (along with a little hand-holding by my husband and the gentle remind that this was not my being defeated). I just wanted it to stop, so I took the pill. And it stopped, allowing me to fall into a blissful sleep.

Saturday I woke up in a fog and it didn't lift for most of the day. We had friends over for an early Easter egg hunt and I felt disconnected until late in the afternoon. I'm not sure if it was lingering effects of the Xanax, or if it was self-imposed depression for feeling like a failure. The sadness continued into Sunday.

After talking with Kajal, my awesome nutritionist, she reminded me that I had stopped taking my normal supplements earlier last week to battle some sort of sickness I'd come down with. So she wasn't surprised the panic attack and anxiety came back. On the one hand it showed me that the whole food supplements are working, but it worries me that I'll have to take those forever to keep this in check. And while I'd rather take a natural supplement over medication, I apparently could continue working on my coping mechanisms.  Yoga and meditation come to mind as something I need to get into, but continue not doing.

But I'm not sure what to think of last night's near attack.  I'm back on my regular supplement routine (although only for a day), so maybe the supplements aren't keeping it totally under control. But part of me feels it was self induced - before I even departed for Athens I realized I'd left my little orange bottle of pills at home on my nightstand instead of safely tucked away in my purse where they've lived for the past few months. I considered driving home to get them before leaving but decided against it, thinking I'd be fine. So I'm wondering if the fear of not having the pills with me in case an attack started was what brought on the heart pounding to begin with? I now sort of understand the doctor's worry about retreating into social phobia if you have panic attacks. You wonder why you even bother putting yourself in a situation where you could get anxious in front of a whole group of people.

But I was able to suppress the anxiety long enough last night to get through my presentation. I think it helps that part of my "story" involves admitting to a room of strangers that I have this anxiety problem. Once it is out there, some of the power goes away.  Which is one reason I want to keep writing about these attacks. I want to not be afraid of having an attack. I want others to know that people deal with this. I want others to know that the smiling girl next to you at a party may end the night in tears after being struck down with debilitating anxiety.

The smiling girl                                            And the anxiety
We all have our things. I was reminded of this last night in talking to a friend who's dealing with her own set of shit, which is completely different from my issue. Just remember when you're interacting with anyone that you don't walk in their shoes. You don't know what internal battle they're fighting. One of the most compassionate things you can do is to love others as you want to be loved and really try not to judge someone because you just don't know where they are on their path.  And treat yourself with the same love and kindness. This is a lesson I'm continuing to have to remind myself and one I suspect I'll continue struggling with as time goes on.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Clean it Up

So I'm really diving into this new (to me) world of trying to live a less toxic life. I'm almost finished with the book Little Changes by Kristi Marsh and it has really awakened a desire in me to clean up my whole life: from the products I use, to the food I eat, to the dishwasher detergent and laundry cleaners in my house.  It feels challenging but it also feels exciting.

So far I've researched washing my clothes with soap nuts, but haven't pulled the trigger yet, opting instead for toxin-free laundry detergent. We've stopped using the dry cleaner for the husband's dress shirts (admittedly we did that to save a few bucks each week, but are continuing now that I'm not real keen on the dry clean chemicals). I'm switching over to less toxic cleaning products and may try to make some of my own from Baking Soda and Vinegar, but haven't quite found the time for that.

The food thing is where my mind is currently swirling.  Mostly, I'm not reading anything I didn't already know about food, but it seems that the more I read, the more it keeps sinking in. (Though my eyes are more opened to what factoring farming of animals actually means.  And those growth hormones given to cows to produce more milk?  Well, I read last night that this leads to mastitis in cows! Ugh, the pain that must cause....I've experience a clogged milk duct or two in my life and I can't imagine having 4 inflamed, hard teet at once! Poor cows.) The few dollars we're saving by not switching to all USDA organic fruits/veggies, dairy and meats doesn't seem worth it now. So the husband has been instructed to only buy organic meats - he asked me if our chicken tasted better now that I knew it wasn't living its life in a cage without a beak.  He may mock me a bit, but he's on board, so I'll put up with a bit of teasing.  I do think we'll reduce the amount of meat we eat simply because it is more expensive to buy organic meat.  And my boys are really going to need to find some other fruit to eat since organic strawberries are quite pricey.  But we're going to be even more conscious of the food we put in our body than we were and I'm excited for the change.  It will be a challenge for sure, but I really feel it's important to teach the boys healthy eating habits and to actually feed them REAL FOOD, as opposed to whatever it is that makes up most processed foods.

We're even going to try our hand at a container garden this summer.  Lukas is excited to have a garden at home since he already has one at school - maybe he'll have a greener thumb than his momma. The plan is to also start a compost pile out back to help the soil in the vegetable garden. I'm thinking we might should just sign up for a CSA rather than attempt the garden, but I'm feeling adventurous (I'll just keep the CSA website handy just in case)! And I must admit the thought of backyard chickens has crossed my mind, although I'm not there yet.  Nor is the man of the house. I really should introduce things one at a time or I may risk driving him crazy!

I've stopped wearing antiperspirant and instead wear deodorant - though you have to try a few to find one that works for you!  I'm loving LaVanilla, the Healthy Deodorant (specifically, the lavender) and have heard great things about Pit Paste, but it doesn't do a thing for me.  And BO is just not going to work for me. I'm enjoying the Beautycounter products and sharing them with friends and family. I love knowing that I'm able to use great beauty products that aren't putting my health at risk!  I just saw a great article that named Beautycounter as one of the top Beauty Brands to watch out for this year!  We have new makeup launching May 1 that I'm excited about too (lip gloss, dew moisturizer with SPF and cream blushers to name a few!).  We don't have nail polish though so one of my next products to hunt down is a safe nail polish - I've heard there are a few out there, so I'm ready to find them. 

I know this is nothing new to a lot of people, but for me, it is all another step in trying to live as healthy of a life as possible.  What is most important to you in living a healthy life? Have you switched out any of your chemical filled products for safer ones?  Do you grow your own vegetables or keep chickens in your backyard?  I'd love to know what tips others have to help me get going even more!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Connecting with Others

Happy April Fool's y'all!  My mom called me this morning and proclaimed "We got an offer on our house!" and I was so excited for a hot second, until she crushed my soul (ok, not really, but still) by saying "April Fools"! I'm so gullible, but I was really hoping someone wanted to buy their house which would've meant they were that much closer to being in our town, but alas, she has a twisted sense of humor.  It seems all those I love do.  Not sure what that says about me!

Anyway, no pranks on my end today.  Just wanted to share a quick note. So this week I had a 40 minute phone call with a sorority sister who I hadn't talked to in about 10 years.  She'd read a blog post I wrote and wanted to find out more about something I'd said. It was so fun re-connecting.  I've also been emailing and facebooking with friends who I haven't seen in as much time, if not longer, and say what you will about Facebook being a time-suck, but it is such a great way to get in touch with people.  

Life really is about connecting with others. It's not about the money we make or things we have.  It's about how we feel and how we use our time and how we use our time to make others feel. It's warmed my heart to know that something I've said on this little space of the internet has resonated with someone else, which is why I will continue to overshare until the cows come home. And since I wouldn't know what to do with a cow if it did come home, you get to keep getting TMI from me.

And I'll leave you with this great little message another friend left on her facebook wall today: