In Real Life on
December 28, 2017

2017 In Review

2017. You have been so good to me. You pushed me outside of my comfort zone. You taught me some valuable lessons (both in life and in my career). You helped me discover how to be my true self. You also gave me so many incredible memories and experiences that I’ll hold onto forever. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the last year.

To kick off 2017, my sweet, sweet friends Katie and Evan celebrated their New Year’s Eve wedding! While it was technically on Dec. 31, it was the best way to ring in a new year. For me, this weekend symbolizes friendship and made me feel really blessed to be surrounded by so many good friends heading in to 2017.

Thanks to West Michigan Winter Beer Festival, I think February is my new favorite month of the year aside from my birthday month (March!)…and October! Clearly I had too much fun consuming copious amounts of carbs and craft beer.

My 25th birthday was truly a special one. Even though I was getting over the plague (which I soon found out was a severe case of seasonal allergies), it was a birthday to remember. My awesome friend Laura (also my birthday twin) and I planned a couples weekend getaway to Sutton’s Bay in Northern Michigan (aka God’s country). It was an incredible, memorable weekend filled with friends, laughter, lots of Moana and even more wine and beer.

April is always an interesting month of transition for me. I’m not exactly a fan of spring, so I try to make the most of this soggy month by getting outside. This year, I ran the Gazelle Girl 5k. I’m hoping in 2018 to run the half marathon (again) or maybe do the 10k. Knowing me, I will chicken out and run the 5k (mostly so I don’t have to train). Ha.

The best part of April was that my dear sister graduated from Grand Valley State University with her degree in visual studies. She is my inspiration and seriously my spirit animal because she is so creative, bright and smart. I’m so proud of her and felt so thankful to be a part of her big day. 

In May, I put my fitness to the test by participating in my first Murph workout on Memorial Day. What is a Murph you ask? You get to run 1 mile followed by 100 ring rows/pull ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats and then you end with a mile. Let’s just say the beer I drank afterwards was well-deserved and quite refreshing.

June kicked off a very busy summer (and clearly my Instagram reflects that). However, I did have the opportunity to speak on a social media panel at the Worklab, the co-working space where my office is located. I got to share some of my social media tips and tricks with small business owners and entrepreneurs, which was a lot of fun.

I have to say July was one of my favorite months this year. My wonderful friend Tiffani got married! I seriously felt so blessed to be part of her big day. It was 1950s themed – which meant Tiffany Blue and Cherry Red everything. We threw her the best bridal weekend bash ever, which was filled with lots of margaritas and dancing, too!

August was the month of camping. We headed up north for a weekend at Houghton Lake, which was a nice getaway.

It has become tradition (especially for me) to head up to the U.P. to spend Labor Day weekend with Kyle’s family. Every year they spend a weekend camping in St. Ignace – and it’s seriously the best time ever. Kyle and I spent a magical day on Mackinac Island (truly one of my favorite days this year) and walked the Mighty Mac on Labor Day. This is always the best weekend to close out sweet, sweet summertime.

October brought a month of hustle. Even though it’s my favorite month, this year it flew by because of work (not a bad thing at all!). October is also my sister’s birthday month, but I sadly didn’t get any photos with her when she was town! So here’s a picture of spooky cookie to commemorate the month.

November was also a lot of fun. I celebrated Kyle’s birthday and surprised him with a weekend in Chicago. I also got to be part of one of my favorite projects, #GRgives. I also got into the Christmas spirit a little early by blaring Christmas music all month long. Yes, I’m definitely one of those people.

In December, Kyle and I went on our trip to Chicago the first weekend of December, and it was a glorious weekend. We saw Foster the People and Cold War Kids. And then we did all of the Christmas things. We even got some Chicago style pizza. This weekend will go down as one of my favorite memories of the year.

Looking back on all of these fun memories was so much fun. I can’t imagine how I can top this year. All I know is that 2018 will bring its own new memories. 2018 will also bring more experiences, learning opportunities and valuable life lessons. I’m so thankful for 2017 and I feel blessed to be living this beautiful life. 

In Grow on
December 6, 2017

2017, You’ve Been Good to Me

I want to thank you 2017 for being so good to me this year.
You pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
You challenged me to be the PR pro I want to be.
You helped me find peace with myself and give myself grace.
You showed me the true power of gratitude.
You helped me believe in myself.
You gave me new hobbies like reading and CrossFit.
You taught me how to not be so hard on myself, but to also never give up.
You showed me that it’s possible to slow down in the midst of busy seasons.
You made me realize that there’s a lot more to life than to moving onto the next milestone.
You listened to me and guided me to where I needed to be.
2017, thank you for everything.
While I’m still far from who I’m going to become, I’m feeling much closer to who I’m meant to be.
You’ve allowed me to embrace myself. To be proud of who I am. Quirks and a heart on my sleeve and all. I feel more like myself every day.
And I thank you for that.
While I don’t know what 2018 will bring, I plan to carry what I learned this year with me.
I plan to give myself grace in busy seasons…
To forgive myself when I fail
To be thankful every single day
To love myself for who I am
To believe in myself
To make a positive difference every day
To have patience and strength
To understand that some things can’t change
But to also embrace change
To hold onto slow moments
To love others harder than I have ever before
To trust the process
Thank you 2017. For everything. This year was truly one of the best.
In Real Life, Shine, Work on
November 12, 2017

Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced Career

Working in PR, life moves pretty fast. Much like my friends and colleagues who work in PR, my life also revolves around deadlines, email and mental checklists.

From the moment I wake up to just before I go to sleep, projects, ideas, deadlines and all the things are swirling around in my mind. And when I do give myself five minutes to pause, I often wonder “Where the heck did the last month go?” or “How is it already Thanksgiving?!” It’s crazy how fast life moves. 

I first learned the importance of slowing down when I was in college.

It was a couple of weeks before finals my sophomore year of college. I was taking 18 credits (per usual), involved in three student organizations, volunteering, working 40 hours per week between two part-time jobs and aiming to get straight A’s on top of that. I remember it was a Thursday night at about 8 p.m. or so and I just broke down. I was in my car, had just pulled into my dorm’s parking lot from running errands and just started sobbing and breathing quickly. I couldn’t catch my breath. So I called my mom and cried hysterically because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get it all done (you know, multiple papers and exams). It was at that time when I realized I just had too much on my plate and I needed to learn how to prioritize. 

Since then, I made sure to be intentional about what I say “yes” to and how I spend my time. I’ve also had to let go of comparison, realize that I can’t do it all (or at least do it all well) and learn how to forgive myself (that’s still a work in progress). Oh, and not feel guilty for zoning out and watching TV after a busy day or taking a few hours to read a good book on the weekend. 

I used to view “feeling stressed” as a weakness. I equated stress with failure. But man, was I wrong.

I soon learned the difference between “good stress” and “bad stress.” The majority of stress in our lives is often “good stress” like having to prioritize deadlines, shopping for a new car, saving for the future, etc. While these aren’t always fun things in the moment, they are ultimately all good things.

Since learning to embrace the good stress in my life – I like to call stress “excitement” – it’s completely changed how I work and approach stressful situations. It’s helped me know that there will always be work to be done. It’s also helped me let go of being perfect and to just get the work done.

I’ve also learned the importance of creating time for myself and to work on my own personal growth. That means reading more books and writing for myself. 

I’ve also been more intentional about how I use social media, which has even allowed me to strengthen my online presence. Instead of scrolling mindlessly throughout the day, I give myself my 30 minutes in the morning, a couple social media breaks throughout the day and then 30 minutes in the evening to get caught up on my personal accounts. That means I’m not scrolling while I’m waiting in line for my coffee or waiting for the bus. I’m present in the moment and allowing myself it sit with my thoughts or reflect on what I’m grateful for.

All of this said, I’ve been working on slowing down in a fast-paced career. I know that I will always be busy, but I have stopped using “busy” as an excuse. Thriving in this fast-paced world is all about time management and making priorities. I have picked a career where work is a BIG part of my life. It’s not something I can completely shut off when I leave the office. That’s why it’s important to embrace it while also creating time to slow down. 

It’s been one of my goals to grow this conversation about slowing down in a fast-paced career, especially with those who work in PR and marketing. I’m always surprised by the number of people I’ve talked to who work in PR and marketing and hear about their stories of burn out. I want to find a way to change the conversation. I believe it is possible to work hard and thrive in a PR career without putting yourself in the hospital because of it. However, it’s going to take slowing down. We owe it to ourselves to slow down so we can thrive in all aspects of our lives. 

In Shine on
November 7, 2017

7 Habits That Bring Me Joy

They say humans are creatures of habit. Habits get us through the day. From waking up at the same time, to eating breakfast, to walking the dog, habits offer a sense of routine and are often effortless once they are part of our daily routine. 

Yet creating a new habit is hard work. It takes determination and focus. Whether it’s flossing your teeth every day or making time for the gym, habits take time to develop and are even easier to break.

As someone who thrives on structure and routine, habits are a big part of my life. While I am still spontaneous and can totally adjust when the plan changes, there’s some comfort knowing that in the morning I will wake up, drink a cup of coffee and have breakfast and then come home after work and get ready for the gym. These habits bring focus and consistency into my life, just like back in the day when I was a teenager and my life ran like a well oiled machine (thanks, mom!).

While some of these habits are still a work in progress, here’s a few that fill my heart with joy:

Listening to music while cooking

Lately I have been turning up the music or listening to NPR when I’m cooking at home. One of my favorite rituals is waking up on a Sunday morning, brewing a pot of coffee, turning on NPR and making breakfast. It’s such a relaxing way to start the day while also getting caught up on what’s happening in the world or learning something new. 

Gratitude

I am constantly practicing gratitude. When I first wake up and have that first sip of coffee (thank you, caffeine!), when I’m waiting at the bus stop, when I’m walking the dog, when I’m at the gym or when I head to bed, I’m always feeling thankful. Practicing gratitude has reminded me how precious life is, and has gotten me through some really stressful days. Gratitude is my saving grace and it’s how I stay sane!

Making my bed

Two months ago, my boyfriend shared with me this video of a Navy Seal who makes his bed every day. The Navy Seal explains that if he can at least make his bed in the morning, he knows he has already accomplished something for the day. He also says that you make the bed you sleep in, so even if you come home after a stressful day at work, you can rest easy knowing your bed is a safe haven that’s waiting for you.

Working out

In 2016, I joined a CrossFit gym and haven’t looked back. I’ve been going to bootcamp at least 2-3 times a week since last fall. Sometimes I make it to four classes if I’m lucky (aka diligent). Going to bootcamp has completely changed the way I feel about myself and has given me so much confidence and has created routine in my life. This journey has also taught me that it’s not about how I look, but how I feel and what my body can do. This is a habit that gives me the energy I need to stay on top of other aspects of my life, like work!

Writing letters to loved ones

Ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to write letters. My mom always made me write thank you notes after receiving a gift. My grandpa also wrote me letters almost every week. Letter writing makes you slow down and take time to write a thoughtful message. While I’m not perfect, I do my best to keep the art of letter writing alive. I also love stationery, so it helps me justify spending money on pretty paper.

Creating to-do lists

My heart sings whenever I make a to-do list. As someone who has a million thoughts buzzing at any moment and I am a professional multi-tasker (#PRLife), to-do lists help me clear my mind and prioritize. There’s also nothing more satisfying than opening to a new page in my Simplified Planner, which keeps everything in one place.

Reading and writing

2017 has been a year of self care for me. A big part of that practice is reading and writing. Every night before I go to bed, I try to spend 15-20 minutes reading or journaling so I can unwind before bed. I usually journal about my day and write my gratitude list, or will pick up a book on business, self help or a good memoir. The best part of these activities is that they make me super sleepy, which means a great night’s rest!

What are some habits that bring you joy?

Image credit: Twigy Post

In Real Life on
November 4, 2017

Life Lately: November Thoughts

I always get excited when it’s the start of a new month. It’s a fresh start for new goals, habits and routines. I always like pressing the restart button on the first of the month as it’s a simple reminder for me that anything is possible. I’m someone who loves clean slates, so the new month always brings me excitement and joy. So today, I thought I’d check in and share a couple life updates, goals on the docket and what’s been on my mind lately.

Things I’m grateful for:

There’s a lot of people and things I’m grateful for these days. I’m thankful for my loving support system of friends and family. I’m thankful for a challenging and rewarding career that pushes me outside of my comfort zone every day. I’m also thankful for slow mornings and evenings when I get to read or journal. I’m also thankful for my CrossFit gym – it’s truly an amazing community and bootcamp has changed my life in so many ways. Gratitude is a daily practice for me, so these are just a few of the things that come to my heart and mind.

Habit I’m trying to break:

Hitting snooze! It has been a cycle of ups and downs for me this year with the snooze button. I’ll have weeks when I jump out of bed before my alarm and others when I’m dragging. And while I’m still waking up early (anytime between 6-6:45 a.m.), the inconsistency is driving me nuts. This month I’m going to be better about going to bed ON TIME so I can wake up without wanting to hide under the covers.

Habit I’m trying to continue:

Reading and journaling each night before bed. I got out of this habit during the months of September and October because let’s be honest, life gets BUSY. However, I could feel the impact of getting out of this routine. This month, I’m going to aim to read a chapter and journal for 10-15 minutes before bed. This also means closing the laptop and turning of the TV earlier in the evening. 

Task I haven’t done yet that’s driving me crazy:

Inbox zero. For real. While I am on top of my inbox, I also have a lot of emails waiting to be filed or deleted. My goal this month is to spend a few hours on the weekends doing a digital detox. I think it will also be a great way to start the new year (and not wait until January to clean my inbox).

Getting me excited for the holidays:

I’m really looking forward to savoring the season. Somehow fall slipped by me and Halloween happened in a blink of an eye. I’m really hoping that the time between now and New Year’s Day slows down. I’m really looking forward to preparing my apartment for the holidays, writing Christmas cards, shopping local this year, spending time with family and friends, maybe planning a Christmas party and hopefully having some time off between Christmas and and the new year to recharge. Bring on the hot cocoa, Christmas movies and all the of the joy!

Goals for November:

One of my work goals this month is to build more systems into my work flow. While I’m good at setting priorities and keeping track of deadlines, I’m want to be even MORE efficient so I can build in more time for planning and brainstorming. I LOVE planning, so building that into my schedule will bring me a lot of happiness during the work week!

What are you looking forward to this month? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Image Credit: Twigy Post

In Grow on
October 31, 2017

Do The Hard Things

As I was pushing myself through my last round of kettlebell swings and running out of gas, a favorite quote came to mind:

“The world is tough and so are you.”

“You are tough” I repeated to myself as I pushed through the last three minutes of my workout that felt like 10. As much as I wanted to give up and give into the pain, I had set a goal in mind and I know I had to accomplish it.

And I did.

Then it got me thinking. Life always throws hard things at you. Whether it’s pushing yourself during a workout, facing a fear or opening up about your feelings, life can be really scary and uncomfortable. But if life didn’t push us outside of our comfort zones, how would we grow?

Science tells us that the brain naturally wants to do what’s comfortable. That’s why it’s so easy to binge on Netflix instead of go for a run or munch on a package of Oreos instead of a handful of carrots.

If we want to get stronger, healthier and grow our minds, we have to push ourselves and get outside of our comfort zones. Whether that means doing one more rep at the gym or reading a book instead of watching TV, it’s good for us to do the hard things.

So I thought it was only appropriate to make a list of really tough things in life. Hard things. Scary things. Things that make us emotional and uncomfortable. But they are also necessary things we must go through if we want to grow and become the person we know in our hearts we’re meant to be.

Life is tough and so are you. You can do the hard things and you will rise above. Here’s a list of things tough things I have either faced, things I have seen friends and loved ones face, or things I know that may eventually come into life down the road. 

  • Unloading the dishwasher and folding laundry after a really stressful day at work.
  • Waking up in the morning without hitting snooze.
  • Going to work on Monday.
  • Making yourself go to the gym after work.
  • Going the extra mile during your workout.
  • Going the extra mile at work.
  • Giving your all at work.
  • Standing up for yourself and being your own advocate.
  • Advocating for a friend.
  • Speaking up during a meeting.
  • Speaking up during a meeting when you’re the youngest in the room.
  • Sharing an idea when you’re the only woman in the room.
  • Challenging a person’s ideas.
  • Challenging your own ideas.
  • Challenging your faith.
  • Believing in yourself after you’ve fallen down.
  • Trying not to beat yourself up after making a mistake.
  • Admitting you’re wrong.
  • Asking for what you want at work.
  • Giving feedback to a coworker.
  • Offering a friend some honest advice.
  • Telling a friend how you really feel.
  • Telling your significant other how you really feel.
  • Being excited for your friend who landed their dream job before you did.
  • Calling your parents.
  • Making time for family.
  • Calling a relative you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
  • Asking for help.
  • Following your heart.
  • Accepting criticism.
  • Staying true to yourself.
  • Creating your own path.
  • Wandering from your path and finding your way back.
  • Sacrificing what you love for someone you love.
  • Taking care of an ill loved one.
  • Putting your dreams on hold.
  • Saying no.
  • Saying yes.
  • Following through with commitments.
  • Trying something new.
  • Going to that networking event you’ve been dreading all month.
  • Making small talk at a networking event.
  • Asking someone you admire out for coffee.
  • Publishing a blog post.
  • Pitching an idea to your boss.
  • Seeking feedback on a personal creative project.
  • Putting your creativity in the spotlight.
  • Being vulnerable on social media.
  • Taking the road less traveled.
  • Opening a savings account.
  • Giving up Starbucks to put money in a savings account.
  • Making time for a new hobby.
  • Letting go of the past.
  • Living in the moment.
  • Loving yourself.
  • Loving others.
  • Quitting a job.
  • Giving your all when you have nothing left to give.
  • Being grateful when everything seems to go wrong.
  • Having faith in the unknown.
  • Moving to a new place.
  • Trusting yourself.

Doing the hard things are part of life. In fact, each of us have probably done at least a handful of these hard things today. (If you did, give yourself a high five or a big hug!). While it seems like some of these things are simple or easy parts of life, for others they are really hard. They challenge us to be better people. They challenge us to be honest with ourselves and the people we love. The hard things make us step outside of our comfort zones and explore the unknown.

The best part about doing the hard things is the growth that happens during the process. When you do something big and scary – when you face your fears – that’s when life happens. It’s not always easy to do the hard things. But the hard things are necessary. Some may see the hard things as opportunities while others may see them as a continuous uphill battle. It’s all about how you choose to see challenges that come your way and how you’re going to face them.

For me, I much rather grow from the obstacles in my life than let them become roadblocks. It isn’t always easy to overcome or rise above. But when you do, it serves as a powerful reminder that anything is possible and that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Wherever you’re at in your journey, remember that you are tougher than the world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Image credit: Unsplash