Category Archives: Random

live with intention.

Welcome to the New Year everyone – and to my new followers – welcome to my blog. I hope I can keep you interested!

Many of you have found me thanks to my most recent post: Young, Married & Pissed Off. When I set out to write it, I had no idea it would spark such a fantastic conversation – with friends, with family and with complete strangers – all who have taken the time to read and share their own experiences and stories.

As someone pointed out, views on marriage are incredibly personal, and I am so grateful for those who have shared theirs – whether we agree or disagree. That’s what makes the world so great… a myriad of opinions with no true “right” answer, but instead just thousands of different ways to look at something. I have especially loved reading all of your stories about your own relationship and marriage experiences and I am touched that you shared them with me!

Now, to catch everyone up…

Last year I set out to do something crazy. I made a list of 213 things I wanted to accomplish in the year 2013. I was feeling stuck, depressed and unmotivated. I hit the post-grad slump hard as I went from being at the top of my circles in college to starting all over again in a new city and at a new job. I didn’t like who I was becoming, so I decided to do something about it.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

That one time I jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet.

I sat down and curated a list of 213 things I have always wanted to do, but never did thanks to a book of excuses. Some as small as taking a painting class, others quite outrageous like jumping out of an airplane. No – I didn’t get all 213 things crossed off my list. (Probably not the smartest decision to attempt this crazy feat while saving for and planning a wedding…) But what I did accomplish was even better: I regained my confidence and my thirst for life. So ultimately, the list achieved exactly what it was meant for.

This year I’m doing something a bit different. New Year’s resolutions seem to catch quite a bit of flak because they are rarely maintained throughout the year. Others like Jess Lawlor choose to instead pick words to live by as a way of guidance for the year ahead (which I love!). Some treat the New Year no differently than they treated the last. To me… there’s just something so exciting about a brand new year and the possibilities it holds.

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Taking a page from Jess’ book…instead of making a list of resolutions, I decided that this year I want to be more strategic and focus on a theme. A guiding principle, I guess you can say that carries over from last year, just without a giant bucket list to accompany it.

This year I hope to:

Live with intention.

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What does living with intention mean exactly?

To me, living with intention is to live with purpose. To create the life you want to live, and become the person you want to be. By making every moment and each opportunity count.

I can’t tell you how many times I find myself guilty of drifting in and out of my day-to-day routine. Thanks to Netflix marathons, drifting has become EXPONENTIALLY easier. (Seriously though… getting Netflix was a terrible, terrible idea).

At the end of the day, I sometimes find myself asking what I actually accomplished. Sure, I may have knocked a few more things off of my to-do list. But did I get any closer to becoming the best version of myself? Or make any strides in reaching those pie-in-the-sky dreams of mine?

It’s easy to fall into the “routine trap.” Life has a funny little way of throwing distractions and detractors at you, from household chores to bills and debt to going through the motions at your 9-5 job.

But it’s important to continually ask yourself: what’s the bigger picture? What do you always dream of doing?

Do you want to travel more? Do you want to pursue your passions and write a book, start a blog, or take up photography? Maybe creating a big family is what you want out of life, or quitting your day job to open up that little café on the corner you’ve always dreamed of.

Living with intention is about taking the proper steps to make those dreams a reality.  It’s about loving and respecting yourself enough to dare, to try, to fail, to succeed… despite of the fear.

So, picking up from where I left off last year, it’s time I stop drifting, and start doing. I’ve got some big things I want to accomplish, and I’m excited to share them with you as I go and take those first wobbly baby steps towards them.

I’ll let this quote sum it up:

Live with intention, walk to the edge, listen hard, practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

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What about you? How goals do you have for the year ahead?

#26. celebrate my half birthday

One of my goals for the 213 in 2013 Project was to learn to embrace life better. To find more pleasure in the day-to-day. To celebrate the little things.

Which is why I celebrated my 23 ½ birthday yesterday.

half birthday cake

It was silly. And it was fun.

Because sometimes you just want an excuse to indulge in a little bit of cake. Or an extra glass of champagne on a weeknight. And sometimes you just want to feel special and celebrate yourself and how awesome you are.

half birthday dinner

And I’m here to tell you that it’s totally ok to do that. And that you should.

All too often we get caught up in the mundane routine of our daily tasks. We stress ourselves out about work, about money, about relationships.

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But I’m teaching myself every day to find the good. And to celebrate it.

(With cake, whenever possible.)

April showers bring May flowers – and life updates!

It’s crazy that today marks the end of April and tomorrow May will take its place. I feel like it was just yesterday that I rang in the new year and decided I was going to make 2013 my best year yet. I must say, four months in, I love the way 2013 feels. I thought I’d give everyone a brief update on what’s been going on in my life.

april update

In these past few months, I’ve checked twenty-five things off my 213 in 2013 list. Some of them have been small but meaningful – like spending a perfect sunny afternoon at a farmers market, buying up local art. Others were a bit intimidating, like skiing down a mountain for the first time. And some were absolutely life-changing, like finally go skydiving after years of only daydreaming about it.

Free-falling.

In just two weeks, Mike and I will be boarding a plane to Houston, Texas to visit his family. He hasn’t seen his dad, his stepmom and his adorable brothers and sisters in years, which is why I knew two plane tickets would be the perfect Christmas gift. I’m excited for my first official “vacation” since I joined the working world and look forward to stuffing myself full of authentic Texas barbeque. And to celebrate Mike’s 26th birthday in a big way. Because everything in Texas is bigger, right?

Mike's big Christmas gift this year - two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Mike’s big Christmas gift this year – two tickets to Texas to see his family.

Also – somehow over the past few months, I went from having a year until the wedding to only 142 days! That’s less than five months. Mike and I have been busy locking down hotel rooms, rehearsal dinner, guest transportation, suits for the groomsmen and a dress for my mom, you name it. In between all of the big stuff though we’ve been having a really great time working on the fun little details – like table numbers and invitations and centerpieces.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our "seating chart" sign.

Cute little touches like this make me happy. Here is our “seating chart” sign.

I think we’re now a couple thousand over budget, even with all of my DIY projects and bargain hunting. It’s crazy to me how expensive weddings can be, but I keep reminding myself it will all be worth it in the end. We have a meeting with our caterer in the coming weeks to nail down floor layouts, linen colors and dinnerware. If planning this wedding has taught me anything – it’s how to be more decisive. I’ve never had to make so many decisions in my life!

Only 143 days to go. Not like I'm counting.

Only 143 days to go. Not like I’m counting.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard – Mike and I booked our dream honeymoon. We’re going to Paris! And we leave the morning after the wedding. As in our flight leaves at 9:15am. And then we get to spend the next seven days in the city of love, canoodling over croissants and Chardonnay and everything magical that Paris has to offer. Thank you, tax return.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

Awesome piece that appeared in USA Today on our Be Cruelty-Free campaign.

My one year moveiversary (May 12) and workiversary are also quickly approaching (May 21). It’s crazy how much can change in just a year. I’ve kind of fallen in love with my new home and the people I’ve met, although it has been a long, a bumpy road. My job continues to challenge me every day (in a good way!) and I’m unbelievably proud of myself for everything I’ve accomplished – from coverage in the biggest media outlets to growing as a professional.

New dining room paint job - still a work in progress.

New dining room paint job – still a work in progress.

Updated coffee table centerpiece - sans flowers. Can't you tell I love pink?

Updated coffee table centerpiece – sans flowers. Can’t you tell I love pink?

As for the day-to-day, Mike and I are working to make our apartment feel more like a home, between more Pinspiration and a few fresh coats of paint. We’re also putting down the takeout and opting for cooking healthier, fresher meals, which is making both our wallets and our waistline happier.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

I made a homemade flatbread with low-fat/skim mozzarella, skim ricotta and some sundried tomatoes and basil. YUM.

Which brings me to my point. I’ve been living by a mantra so far this year. And it’s working.

“You are the creator of your own happiness.”

After I graduated I fell into a slump. I was lonely. I felt disconnected. I wasn’t myself. I was unhappy.

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It’s amazing that the second you make the decision that all of those negative feelings stop, that pessimism won’t win, you regain your balance. And ultimately your happiness.

I’m loving life right now.

Because I choose to.

What exciting things do you guys have to look forward to in the coming months? Any big life changes you want to share? I’d love to hear!

finding good in the world

UPDATE: I was browsing through my WordPress Reader and stumbled upon this beautifully written post – Talks with Tragedy. Go read it – you won’t regret it.

I hit publish on yesterday’s blog post about my picture-perfect weekend when a friend of mine texted me saying there had been an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, in which her mom was running.

I quick logged on to Twitter and sure enough my entire feed was full of breaking news reports about the unthinkable tragedy that had struck during one of America’s oldest and most prestigious marathons. Images of people missing limbs, bloodied sidewalks and people crying. Videos of the blast knocking down runners. Numbers coming in of the dead and the injured. My eyes glazed over as tears began to fill the rim of my eyes. My heart ached for those whose lives would be forever changed by such a senseless act of violence.

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I went home so angry at the world. Angry at how people could be so cruel. But as I followed the coverage throughout the night, stories began trickling in – stories of hope, courage, selflessness and bravery.

As Mr. Rogers once wisely said – “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen since the tragedy in Boston occurred yesterday.

Stories of runners who after crossing the finish line, continued to run to local hospitals to donate blood.

People offering up their homes for free to those displaced after the marathon.

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Images of people running TOWARDS the explosion to help others, rather than running away.

What happened yesterday is nothing short of horrendous. But as more reports and numbers continue to come in, I hope that everyone can try to have faith that there is still light and good in the world. I know I’m trying to.

My love and thoughts are with you, Boston. You will overcome this.

the key to life is imagination

Happy Friday everyone! Am I the only one who thinks four-day work weeks feel longer than full ones?

In my usual Friday fashion, I wanted to share a story about someone who inspires me. You all know by now that I’m a big fan of Kid President, but this week I bring you the story of Caine and his cardboard arcade. I’m aware this story is a few months old, but I’m just hearing about it and I hope it’s new to some of you as well.

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I was scrolling through this BuzzFeed article yesterday about 26 Moments That Restored Faith in Humanity This Year and there were a lot of touching, heartwarming and absolutely awe-inspiring stories. But the one that caught my attention was the story of 9-year-old Caine who spent an entire summer building an elaborate cardboard arcade out of his father’s auto part store in Los Angeles.

Caine, who has a love for arcades, used his imagination and creativity to construct some of the most classic games including “the claw” and tabletop soccer. Equipped with packing tape and boxes he created a business for himself – making t-shirts, business cards and quite frankly the best deal I’ve ever seen – fun passes that only cost $2 and buys you 500 games.

After an entire summer without getting any customers, but still not discouraged, a man named Nirvan came and spent the entire day playing in Caine’s arcade. Wanting to spread the word about the young entrepreneur, Nirvan took to social media and arranged a giant flashmob to show up and support Caine and his entire summer’s worth of work and imagination.

Caine’s Arcade has since inspired millions and launched a movement to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in kids, via the Imagination Foundation: imagination.is

Check out the video below and share it with your friends and family. I hope you were as inspired as I was. It goes to show you that anyone can a million dollar idea with some imagination (and cardboard.)

TGIF!

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

instead of giving up, give back

Around this time every year, I see my Facebook and Twitter feeds blow up with what everyone is giving up for Lent this year. Every year the “sacrifices” people are making sound familiar to years before – chocolate, icecream, Facebook, pizza, sex. I should preface this post by saying I don’t partake in Lent, even though many of my family members follow the Catholic faith. I’ve had an aversion to religion my entire life so I’m not a big believer in everything that Lent is supposed to stand for.

With that said, I still greatly respect and admire those who do believe and partake in the season. I’m sure that giving up guilty pleasures and vices for 40 days does not come easy (I once tried to give up pasta for a month and failed miserably.) However – after those 40 days are over, everyone will go back to their usual ways. They’ll go out and buy a Hershey bar or they’ll log in and spend the next five days catching up on everything they’ve missed on Facebook. My point is: the sacrifice is temporary.

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Which is why I think that in addition to the sacrifices people make every year, they should consider another way to approach the season of Lent. Instead of just taking something away from yourself, consider giving something back this year too. Think about the impact and difference you can make by taking time to volunteer with a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or participate in a neighborhood cleanup. Your actions aren’t just felt by you but by the people and the communities you touch through your acts of service, kindness and selflessness not to mention the impact will be felt much longer than 40 days. Instead of chocolate sales going down, people in need can receive help, streets can be cleaned up and lives can be changed for the better.

make a difference phrase on blackboard

To me, that sounds like a much more impactful way to honor the season. I know that Lent is supposed to be centered on the idea of sacrifice – so consider sacrificing some time for others this year.  I already have plans to volunteer with an animal rescue group and a soup kitchen in the coming weeks, which I could not be more excited for.

Volunteer opportunities are really easy to find. Check out the websites below to help get you started:

www.volunteermatch.org/

www.serve.gov/

http://www.idealist.org

How will you help make a difference this year?

#9. have a girls’ weekend

First — yikes! Allow me to apologize for the lack of blogging this week. I haven’t fallen asleep behind the keyboard. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. This week at work has been a whirlwind with exciting announcements that have required me to spend every waking minute and ounce of energy in important hearings, writing  and editing releases, pitching media like a mad woman and lining up media interviews left and right. All I can say is, thank GOD I had an awesome weekend with some of my favorite ladies before the avalanche of work stress came charging at me.

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Now that I live a couple hundred miles away from my favorite people, when I do get to spend time with my closest friends, it makes every second that much more special. Which is why I wanted a girls’ weekend on my 213 in 2013 list. Alex and Lauren had planned to come down inauguration weekend (woops, total oversight on our part), so that Friday I pushed through work eager to get down to Union Station and pick them up for a weekend of revelry.

Once I got the call that their buses were in, I jumped out of the car and waved my arms signaling where I was. They started walking towards me and that’s when I noticed three people, not two, were making their way over. I squinted through the dark and in total shock and surprise, saw that they had brought my good friend Marianna with them. Ensue lots of high pitched, girly squealing, screaming and jumping. Turns out we would all get to help celebrate Marianna’s big 21st birthday together.

Poor Marianna couldn't even partake in the $1 margaritas because it was still an hour until her birthday...

Poor Marianna couldn’t even partake in the $1 margaritas because it was still an hour until her birthday…

After loading the car with their bags, we went over to Medaterra, a greek/Mediterranean restaurant in Woodley Park. They were serving up $5 martinis and $1 margaritas (that apparently tasted like cough syrup). My martini, whatever it was, tasted like spiked chocolate milk and was well worth the five bucks. We sipped, munched and chatted until the restaurant closed and made our way back to my apartment where we spent a few more hours sipping drinks and catching up.

Life is always made better by a cupcake. Or four.

Life is always made better by a cupcake. Or four.

The next day we went over to Cake Love — my absolute favorite cupcakery — and got Marianna a free birthday cupcake while the rest of us debated between the various flavors of tiramisu, nutella and peanut butter and banana. We took our cupcakes to the park bench outside of the outdoor skating rink and stuffed way too many calories into our gullets before crossing the street to paint some pottery.

Never take 4 OCD girls out to paint pottery together...
Never take 4 OCD girls out to paint pottery together…

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that having myself and two other OCD freaks who aren’t super fond of children (Alex is the normal one) painting pottery surrounded by kids would be a good idea, but I went for it anyways. We squeezed into a small table, spent too long debating between rose pink and blush pink and then began the tedious task of painting our various pieces. Lauren freaked out about her lines not being straight (…they were abnormally straight), Marianna threw a fit about paint smears and I had a bitch fest about my uneven chevron stripes. Alex just enjoyed painting butterflies and polka dots and made the rest of us look like nut jobs.

My finished piece -- a reminder of my new attitude for the year ahead.

My finished piece — a reminder of my new attitude for the year ahead.

After finishing our pottery pieces and washing off, we went over to Nando’s Peri-Peri and enjoyed a pitcher of sangria and some delicious Peruvian chicken. We needed the sangria to calm our frazzled nerves from the children whining and the imperfect pottery paint jobs.

oro pomodoro pizzas

Stuffed full of chicken and wine, we went home, washed up, (I napped…because I’m old), and got ready for dinner at Oro Pomodoro (the same restaurant Mike and I took that pizza making class at). Another friend of ours, Kurie, met us over there and we all ordered various mouth-watering dishes — pizzas with shaved parmigiana and prosciutto, gnocchi with braised beef and wine, and the coolest dish of all — creamy risotto with porcini mushrooms and white truffle oil, prepared tableside in a 1200lb of parmigiana by the same chef from our pizza-making class, Michaelo! The waiter was from Naples and was absolutely adorable and charming and always made sure our glasses were full.

The coolest dish I've ever seen -- risotto prepared tableside in a giant block of cheese. It costs $1500!

The coolest dish I’ve ever seen — risotto prepared tableside in a giant block of cheese. The block costs $1500!

Once we were finished with dinner, we went home, freshened up again and went out to properly celebrate Marianna’s 21st at Blackfinn, a frat-esque saloon type bar in downtown Bethesda. We enjoyed a night of dancing to music so loud that it shook your core and left you deaf at the end of the night. The way it should be when celebrating someone’s 21st. I passed out around 5am — I couldn’t cut it anymore.

Our plans for brunch the next day got scrapped by a disgusting amount of traffic thanks to the inauguration so instead of cozying up at Matchbox, we ended up having to get Chipotle to go.

The weekend definitely had it’s hiccups but it was still a fantastic time with some of my absolute favorite people. A weekend full of laughing, and gossiping and reminiscing and painting and drinking and eating and dancing. And living. And loving every second of it. Because I’ve learned to not take advantage of my time with the people I care about anymore. It may be less frequently but it doesn’t lack in quality. That’s for sure.