The Year of You

small changes to a more balanced and blissful life

“It’s All My Fault” — February 18, 2018

“It’s All My Fault”

Last weekend, my four year-old son Shane broke his arm, and I felt responsible. That Saturday morning, Jason and I had decided to take a class at our gym. We arrived that morning, signed the kids into child watch and headed to our class.  As we were finishing a grueling HIIT spin class, the child care staff came to get us. My first thought was that one of the kids had to use the bathroom; I didn’t expect an injury. We quickly got to the kids and found Shane crying hysterically and clinging to his left arm in pain. To make a long story short, he fell (or was pushed according to him) and landed on his arm.

We made our way to urgicare and it was determined that his arm was broken: a non-displaced fracture at the elbow. One soft wrap and sling later and we made our way home with instructions to schedule an appointment with Orthopedics on Monday. Shane handled the whole ordeal so well for being so little. Meanwhile, Jason and I were just a little frantic. We had Shane’s birthday party that same night and now we only had a few  hours to get everything done that we had planned to do earlier that day. There was no way I was going to cancel that party on Shane after that terrible morning so we busted hump to get everything in order. It all worked out in the end, Jason and I engaged our teamwork superpowers and got everything completed just in time (including showers…mind you we had spent several hours sweaty and gross at urgicare). The party went well and Shane was happy in spite of his broken arm.

When I finally had a minute to sit down and reflect on the day, a tremendous amount of guilt rained over me. As a parent, we all know these things will happen. It comes with the territory, and honestly I am surprised in the nearly seven years of having boys that we haven’t had a broken bone sooner. Accidents will happen no matter how cautious we are, but I couldn’t help but feel responsible for Shane breaking his arm that morning. Irrational as it may sound, I felt guilty for lugging my kids to the gym that morning so that I could get a workout in.  I thought to myself, if we would have done our normal morning routine that Saturday, and I had just worked out during the kids’ nap time…this would never have happened.  I know this all sounds ridiculous, but this is honestly what was going through my head.

As parents, we try so hard to protect our kids and do what is right for them. Far too often we blame ourselves when something happens or when things don’t go exactly as we had expected. I know this is true for me. Parenting is hard…..like seriously ridiculously hard, and I have found that as the kids get older, it gets even harder, but in different ways. Sometimes I feel that I am failing them, and that day was one of those days.

When we feel this way, we need to remind ourselves that we are just doing our best. That morning, I knew our day would be busy so I decided a quick morning workout would be the best option. I was just doing what I thought made sense for that day plus the kids love going to child watch at our gym. It was intended to be a win-win for everyone. I also reminded myself that my kids are active little kids who like to play, and that they are bound to fall. They are going to get hurt, and there will be trips to the emergency room. It will happen…we hope it doesn’t ever happen, but it probably will. As long as we are doing everything we can to protect our kids and keep them healthy and safe, then we need to give them the space to play and make mistakes and fall down (and hopefully we all have decent health insurance). So today, cut yourself some slack.  Accidents will happen, and remind yourself that we are all just trying to do our best.

Apps I Love: Starbucks — February 15, 2018

Apps I Love: Starbucks

Okay, I considered not posting this one because until last week I thought everyone knew about the magic of the Starbucks app, but I was wrong so here it is.

Like so many of you, I love coffee.  Coffee is a warm hug in the morning to get my day started. I am pretty sure I have a coffee addiction, but I am okay with it. On days when I want someone else to make my coffee, I might head to Starbucks. On many of these occasions I end up talking myself out of it because I absolutely can’t stand waiting in line in the store or in the drive through. This is where the Starbucks mobile app enters the picture and completely removes this issues.

First, you need to download the app and set-up an account. Once you have the app, you select your location and you can order your drinks (and food) and then just drive to that location and pick them up. You simply select the drinks or food items on the app, checkout and show-up at the selected Starbucks location. You quickly park, walk in and your items are waiting for you…it is magic. The app will even tell you what time to expect your items to be ready.

It’s pretty much the best time saver if you insist on getting Starbucks and I forgot to mention that you can customize your drink (or food) the same way you would in the store plus (and this is a big plus for me) it shows you all of the nutrition facts for everything on the menu! I love knowing what I am consuming, and it helps drive my food decisions. Another great feature is that you can save your frequently ordered items as favorites and simply select those favorites and reorder in a flash the next time (including all of the customizations you make). Now, if they can only figure out a way so that I don’t have to get out of my car at all (and still order ahead)……you have your next challenge, Starbucks.

Healthy Habit: Weekly Veggie Prep — February 11, 2018

Healthy Habit: Weekly Veggie Prep

I am big on convenience especially when it comes to doing less than desirable tasks or in this case eating less than desirable foods. That being said I do LOVE vegetables, but it’s taken several years to get to this point. To make it easier on myself, I prep all of my veggies for the week on Sundays. Meal prep may not be for everyone, but this one hour of my week to prep makes it super easy the rest of the week to just grab and go. It takes the choice out of my snack options and leaves me feeling guilt free.

Here is what my weekly veggie prep looks like, and it will definitely vary for you depending on your veggie preferences. If you aren’t a big veggie eater (yet!), I recommend starting out in one area and that’s the roasted veggies. These roasted veggies can be used with any meal or as a snack and they are delicious.

To start, I thoroughly clean all veggies. I start by using Eat Cleaner all natural fruit and veggie wash which is just a few quick sprays on my produce and then rinse with water a few minutes later. I love this stuff. It’s so simple and not that expensive. Plus it goes a long way. Once clean, I start prepping. My weekly prep includes four areas.

1.) I start with my roasted veggies which right now includes roasted sweet potato chunks. I am currently obsessed with sweet potatoes. To roast, I cut the sweet potatoes into chunks, toss them with a tiny bit of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30 minutes on 450 degrees (making sure to move them around at about the half way point). You can also roast broccoli, brussels sprouts and really any vegetable of your choice.  Right now, I am hitting the sweet potatoes pretty hard.

2.) While the sweet potatoes are roasting, I move on to prepping raw veggie packs which can include broccoli florets, bell pepper slices, baby carrots, celery and sugar snap peas to give you a few examples. It varies week to week.  I make 10 packs for the week and Jason and I are set. The veggie freshness lasts all week (in case you were curious) which I like to think is a result of the veggie wash.

3.) Next, I prep my green peas. Super simple..either microwave a steamer bag or boil frozen peas. I make enough to take 1/2 cup of peas each day to work. Side note, have you ever tried cold peas? Surprisingly, they are really good.  Give cold peas a shot for a different way to eat your veggies.

4.) The last stop in my veggie quest is to make sure I have procured enough pre-washed spinach for the week. I go through 18 cups of spinach each week. I flipping love spinach. I add 3 cups of spinach in with my protein powder each day with some ice and water and blend it up as a smoothie. It’s really good. You can’t even taste the spinach even though the smoothie itself is bright green.

All in all, this process takes under an hour, and only about 20 of those minutes are active prep. The remainder is waiting on the sweet potatoes to finish roasting or the peas to cool down so you can portion them out. Once everything is done, I am set for the week. This prep makes it so convenient for me to eat my veggies all week-long. Try one or all of them out to make snacking healthy and convenient all week-long.

Lessons from a 7 Year-Old’s Skate Party — February 8, 2018

Lessons from a 7 Year-Old’s Skate Party

Have you ever had one of those parenting moments that just made you think to yourself “I did it!” “I am rocking this parenting shit right now”? These moments happen every now and again and sadly feel too far in between.

My most recent proud parenting moment happened at the dreaded school friend birthday party. This particular party was a skate party, and I don’t know about you, but I find these parties to be so flipping awkward. My son (Chase) isn’t yet to an age where he can be left at the party while I go out and run errands…I’m not sure what that age is, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere between 21 and 30.  Parents never quite know what to do at these parties so they typically spend 2 hours making awkward conversation or playing on their phones. I opted to bring work which was an optimistic prospect on my part.

Chase was so excited for the party, but I don’t think he fully grasped what it meant to go to a skate party…you know…that it would involve skating. As we got though the main door, Chase instantly realized what he had signed up for and wasnt having it…not one bit of it. I practically had to carry him through the door. He was begging to just drop off the present and leave…and sadly very close to tears.  Honestly, I just wanted to run out the door too. I could feel his pain, but we were there and we weren’t turning back without giving it a try.

Somehow, without getting frustrated, without pleading, and using my best skills of parental persuasion possible, I  was able to help him overcome his fears and get him to try on the skates. From here, it progressed to “skating” around the carpeted area with a walker which then transitioned to using the walker in the skate rink. By the end of the party he was skating without a walker and having so much fun. We did it! I was so proud.

I knew what he was feeling in that moment. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to give skating a try, but that voice inside of his head was telling him that he couldn’t do it. That terrible voice that keeps us from trying new things or taking chances. This voice made him fearful of the unknown. He didn’t know if he would fall down, he didn’t know if someone would laugh, he didn’t know if he could do it….but guess what? He  turned that fear into courage and he laced-up those skates and he tried. He took a chance on the unknown for the sake of fun….for the sake of enjoying himself and doing something that he wanted to do. He believed in himself because you know what is scarier than fear….regret. Sure it might be uncomfortable trying new things, but we need to be willing to be uncomfortable to live and feel fulfilled.

I think we can all learn a lesson from our skating adventure, that sometimes you just need to lace-up those skates, grab the walker and give it a go. Falling down is just a part of the process, and if you fall, you get back up and you try again because its fun AND because you can.

Apps I Love: Ink Cards — February 1, 2018

Apps I Love: Ink Cards

In the pursuit of finding balance, I have worked really hard to make boring or laborious tasks more efficient in an effort to give myself more time to do the things that I enjoy. In the Apps I Love series, I will share with you the Apps that save me time or just generally make my life easier. The first App I will feature is Ink Cards.

Ink Cards:

Let me start by saying that I am not a card person. I typically omit cards when giving gifts and I am known for this within my family.  Why you ask? I think most cards are overpriced and impersonal. I stumbled upon Ink Cards nearly 5 years ago and have really started using it regularly this year. Ink Cards is an app that sends personalized postcards through the mail.

To use Ink Cards, you simply download the app, select the card, upload a picture to the card (if you want), add text (if you want), select the address and checkout. I still love receiving real mail and I know other people do as well, it just feels so much more personal. This app saves me the time from having to pick out the perfect card in a store and then finding stamps (which I never seem to have).

Each Ink Card is $1.99 which includes the postage and they are really great quality postcards. I actually used Ink Cards this year to do my family Christmas cards because I didn’t want to deal with labeling addresses and buying stamps. It was so simple and because I purchased a bulk credit, the price was comparable to using other photo card services for holiday cards. Plus, did I mention that I don’t have to worry about buying stamps or doing the addresses?

Ink Cards has made me a bit of a card person now. It’s just that simple.

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Healthy Habit: Take the Stairs —

Healthy Habit: Take the Stairs

On the quest for greater balance and bliss, my overall fitness and health has been a huge focus. Because this journey can seem so overwhelming, I believe in making small manageable changes to get you closer to your goals.  With this, I present to you the first of my Healthy Habits posts. These posts are short, to the point and in most cases very easy changes you can make in your everyday life to improve your overall health.

Healthy Habit #1: Take the Stairs

Taking the stairs sounds simple because it is simple. If you are like me and work in an office building with multi-levels, taking the stairs everyday feels like a mini-win for the morning! To start this habit, every time you are presented with an elevator, look for the stairwell sign and head that way. Bonus points for knowing the safe way out of the building should an emergency arise and you never have to worry about being stuck in a broken elevator or plummeting to your death should the elevator malfunction (kidding of course, but really…it could happen).

Taking the stairs does get easier over time, and if you use a fitness tracker you can log bonus flights and steps. It’s a win-win in my book, and an easy way to build more movement into your day!

Balance and Bliss —

Balance and Bliss

I have spent the last two years figuring out how to be happier.

Let’s face it, life can be hard and its hard in different ways for different people at different times.  I think we all reach a point (some may call it a midlife crisis) when we ask ourselves “is this what we wanted for our lives”?  For me, I wasnt unhappy by any means. I was actually quite happy. I had a great life with a great husband and a great family, a great job and so on. I just wanted more and I wasnt sure what that meant or what that was supposed to look like.

I’ve spent the last two years diving head first into figuring this out and have found great transformation through this process. Little by little I’ve chipped away at discovering who I am and trying to answer the even harder question of who I want to be. It’s a journey and so far I’ve loved every turn. With this, I am changing my forum a bit. I feel that I have so much to share from this journey…things I have learned along the way….some great tools that have worked and a lot that havent. I would love to share these with you in hopes that it helps you on your journey. I invite you now to join me on my quest to pursue more balance and greater bliss.

                                                                                     Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

Birthdays, Basketball and all Beef hotdogs — January 7, 2018

Birthdays, Basketball and all Beef hotdogs

I love pulling off a good birthday surprise, especially for my husband who has the unfortunate luck of being born a little over a week after Christmas. This smushed together holiday and birthday timing can lead to the “double gift” and “double celebration” for many people who have a birthday so close to Christmas. It’s because of this and the fact that I am married to a truly amazing man who I try to make his birthday extra special AND I make sure it is completely separate from all Christmas celebrations and/or gifts.

This year, I nearly pulled off a complete surprise which was really only spoiled because of my misjudgment to entrust a 3-year-old with a secret. Needless to say within an hour of telling my 3-year-old son what we would be doing to celebrate Jason’s birthday, he was informing Jason of this surprise and several of his gifts. Lesson learned. Luckily this was several weeks before his actual birthday and I never confirmed the truth of the spilled beans.

Fast forward to this weekend and Jason was following the boys on a scavenger hunt to find tickets to see the Chicago Bulls play the Pacers in Indianapolis on Jason’s actual birthday. (An ideal game would have been seeing the Bulls in Chicago but I’ll take what I can get.) The boys and Jason love the Bulls, the boys had never been to an NBA game, I had never been to an NBA game and we were all ready for a change of scenery for the weekend.

The boys traveled well to Indy and I had one more surprise up my sleeve. Jason has a love of Portillo’s that started when he attended college in the Chicago area. For anyone unfamiliar, Portillo’s is pretty darn good. So good, that we patiently waited in a line at least 50 people deep to order our lunch. The beautiful thing about Portillo’s is that it works like a well oiled machine. You are through the line and to your table eating cheese fries and hot dogs before you know it. After a quick search, I was so thrilled to find that there was a Portillo’s only 30 minutes from Indy, so birthday stop number 1 resulted in the family enjoying the best hot dogs and italian beef and in the case of Shane…french fries and pickles. The rest of the birthday events went perfectly right down to the ideal parking spot that was equal distant to the restaurant we were having dinner at and Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.  Also noteworthy, Jason’s tweet of us at the game was retweeted by the Chicago Bulls (kind of cool, right?!?) Plus, the boys got to swim in the hotel pool earlier that afternoon which is always a huge win. The only downside of the day was a double loss for two of the family’s favorite teams. Both the Chiefs and the Bulls lost that day. You can’t win them all.

We are all safely home now, although everyone’s just a little sleepier (and crabbier) than normal and not quite ready to start the week. I’ll take the sleepy somewhat crabby aftermath of a good weekend any day if it meant a fun family birthday celebration for the man who deserves nothing but the best in life.

Happy birthday, Jason! And side note, as of today, I can now say that I have dated/been married to you for over half of your life.

The Great Bath Debacle of 2018 — January 5, 2018

The Great Bath Debacle of 2018

I am not a bath person. More bathes made my 18 in 18 list this year as a way to challenge myself to find easy ways to implement more self-care. I started the whole bath thing this week and let me tell you, taking a bath is not as easy as you would think. I have attempted three baths in 2018 and all three failed miserably. You are probably asking yourself how this is even possible…well it is possible…trust me.

I set out to take the first bath earlier this week as the bath products I ordered had just arrived. One of these products is an aromatherapy bath gel called SLEEP. Sounds perfect to wind down the day, right? That’s what I thought. I began to run the first bath of the year, and read the directions on the bottle of SLEEP …”pour a generous amount into running bath water” so I did just that. It really did smell amazing…so I added a little more. I turned off the water, got into the lava hot bath (which is just the way I like it) and decided to use the spa setting on the tub. I was attempting to read a magazine which let’s face it never works out well in water. As I was reading my magazine, I failed to realize that the spa setting caused the “generous amount” of bath gel to morph into a giant blob of bubble monstrosity. This bubble monstrosity was growing by the second and about an inch away from overflowing the bathtub. I quickly started draining the tub which didn’t tame the bubbles and then I decided to run the shower and KILL the bubbles…nope, didn’t work.  This first bath was over and I was left covered in bubbles with a now useless People magazine.

I will spare you all of the details of failure two, but I will sum it up with my decision to go from using a “generous amount” to a “tiny amount” of bath gel. It just smelled so good that I couldnt go without it. Well, generous or tiny.…it did not matter. The bubble monster prevailed again.

Failure number three was a completely different issue. I had learned my lesson on the bath gel, and I didn’t even think about putting anything in that tub except water. What I forgot (until I went to check the temperature of the water) was that I had just done a load of laundry and run the dishwasher……no hot water. Damn you chores! Bath failure #3!

I will get this right. I am determined, and here is what I have learned this week:

  1. Taking a bath is not so simple
  2. Spa tubs are not meant to have anything in them that will create bubbles
  3. Bubbles are not as fun as they were when you were a kid
  4. Baths before laundry and dishes
  5. The bubble monster will always prevail…always

Until next time, wish me luck! I will get this right.

 

Preparing for 2018 — January 1, 2018

Preparing for 2018

2018 is finally here, and we are all starting to wind down our first day of this new year. As many of us have set resolutions for this year, today was our first day to pursue these quests. Preparation is key to being successful in your goals whether they are big or small. I like to use the first day of the new year to help set myself up for success on my list of 18 objectives for the year.

The first thing I did was print an actual copy of my list of 18 objectives. I want to be able to refer to this list at any time and keep myself on track. If you have one big goal, you may consider printing the goal to an image and framing it. Because it is cold and I couldn’t bear the thought of heading to a printing store so instead I took a picture of my list and printed it as a 5×7 that will be delivered to my door in the next week. The $3 was worth the convenience to me.

The next step I took was to obtain all the relevant supplies. Two years ago when I set out to run a 5k every month of the year, I needed to procure running shoes and the athletic clothes to go along with it. This year, to support my goals, I purchased items like Thank You cards (to support goal 1), bath products (to support goal 16) and I downloaded the app SPACE to track my phone usage (to support goal 3). To see my full list of goals take a look at my earlier post Cheers to 2018.

Once you have the physical items you will need to be successful, make sure to set-up a plan for yourself. As I am pursing a list of objectives, which include more things that I want to incorporate into my life, my plan is pretty loose. Referencing back to my 5k goal, that goal required planning, planning to register for the 5k’s each month and planning to train.

The final step to setting yourself up for success is to build a support system. Share your goals with the people around you. Hopefully, these people will be supportive of your goals, but if nothing else you have made your goals public and that may help you to hold yourself accountable on your pursuit.

Happy New Year’s Day everyone! Let’s crush this year!