Brain food

At the beginning of the month, I shared my body-related goals for the new year. Next up is working out the ol’ noodle.

Though simple, here are the few ways I am leaning in to challenging my mind in 2017.

Books! Is there any simpler pleasure than curling up to a good read? I think not. 

Each year, I attempt to set a reading goal. In past years, I’ve forgotten to keep track of the books I’ve read, or simply forgot what my book goal for the year was. Thank goodness for Goodreads! They make creating and tracking my reading goal super easy peasy. Last year’s goal was a bit lofty, at 50 books. Especially since I didn’t actually set my goal and begin tracking until spring or summer. Still, I ended the year having read 21 books. Not too shabby. For 2017, I am taking a step back, being realistic -finding time to read between work life and real life is tough enough. Now I am becoming a first-time mom!- and holding myself to finishing 30 books.

My current read: Big Little Lies

To be honest, this isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own. Not for any particular reason. I just don’t think it would have really ever caught my eye on its own. I began reading it because it is the ‘pick of the month’ in the book club that I am a part of. About 6 years ago, a few coworkers and I thought it’d be fun to all read Night Circus (I believe that was our first), and then get together for coffee and share our thoughts. That casually carried on a few books later, until we suddenly realized we had a bit of a book club going. Over the years, there have been times where we meet only every so often, and ladies have come and gone, but the core four or five of us have stuck through. It’s turned into a sort of monthly (or bi-monthly depending on the season) books and brunch lady date. 

I really can’t be more pleased and intrigued with this read so far. It’s the perfect mix of murder mystery meets day-in-the-life-of-an-average-mom (or ‘mum’ since it’s set in Australia). I’m about halft way in, and am bracing myself for what I am sure will be a fabulous twist, as the details of the ‘tragic incident’ slowly unravel with each turn of the page.

51hiyzaxdal-_sx331_bo1204203200_ (Source)

Top 3 on my to-read list:

1) The Happiness Project

51l2aahpu1l-_sx327_bo1204203200_ (Source)

The idea of spending a full year attempting to uncover the root of happiness is what caught my interest initially. I don’t actually know anyone personally who has read this book, but have read nothing but great reviews on it.

In no way am I not seeking an entire life transformation. I am quite happy with where my life’s journey has taken me so far. However, I do think we can all use a few tips on improving certain areas in our life. And I am definitely not opposed to a bit of personal growth.

2) Girlboss

512bn7fj1xll-_sx331_bo1204203200_1 (Source)

Sophia Amoruso’s rags to riches -or drifter to CEO- story of success is nothing short of motivating. And I haven’t even turned to the first page! Maybe it’s that I like the idea of rooting for the underdog. Or maybe I like the reminder that even humble beginnings can lead to great success. Either way, I had to pick up a copy when I saw this book in my work’s employee library.

3) Unashamed

41jvwbsknbl-_sx322_bo1204203200_ (Source)

I fell in deep, deep like with Christine Caine after hearing her speak at 2016’s Pink Impact. She is so charged. She electrifies the stage in a way that makes it impossible not to be captivated and hang on her every word. Her style of public speaking is so personable (like talking to your favorite aunt), somewhat raw, and just . . . motivating!

What sparked my interest in her book Unashamed, is the idea that we’ve all been raised in a world full of shame. We grow up feeling ashamed of our mistakes, inadequacies, past, present . . . You name it. Even in my happiest moments in life, I am still carrying around my personal baggage of shame. In this book she invites the reader to change her perspective, and using faith, move forwards towards a shame-free life.

In addition to broadening my mind with books, I’ve recently made meditation a part of my daily practice. Nineteen days. That is where I am currently at. Not yet a full month, but I am already seeing the benefits of just taking a few minutes a day to press pause, turn all my attention inward, and just be. On work days, I commit myself to just five minutes. It doesn’t seem like all that long, which was sort of the point when I first made that my initial goal. I didn’t want to hold myself to an amount of time that would then have to compete with the other various tasks and responsibilities of my day-to-day. Longer meditations -well long to me, at 10 to 15 minutes- are reserved for weekends, when I can just sit in utter peace and quiet for a bit longer.

Mostly, I carve out time right in the mornings. It really does have a way of kickstarting my day off on just the right note. Especially after a night of rough sleep -which is becoming more common as this little bun of mine grows bigger and bigger- or on gloomy days, when I would rather hit snooze, curl up, pull the comforter over my head, and stay in bed all day. There have been a few nights where I’ve set time aside right before turning in for the night. That has proven to be helpful after a stressful day, or on a night when I can feel the onset of sleeplessness.

Along the same vein, journaling has once again found it’s way back into my daily routine. I kept a journal all through middle school and high school. It was my lifeline back then, being the perfect, unbiased friend to unload the day’s joys and worries onto. I guess you could say it was my first form of meditation, helping me to completely empty my mind of all its contents. For some reason, I’ve had a tough time keeping up with writing daily as an adult. And not for lack of trying. I just can never seem to stick with it. Yet, I’ve recently found myself easily filling the pages of my pretty, pink Kate Spade journal. It may seem a too-simple goal, but it is a goal of mine for the year none the less. Part of my personal challenge is alternating my regular journal with my ‘40ish Weeks Pregnancy Journal‘ and this little blog of mine.

Read. Write. And practice inward peace. Where are you channeling your mental growth for the year?

Peace,

Y

Shiny & New

My favorite part about the beginning of a new year is the feeling of opening up to a brand new chapter in my life. A shiny and new chapter that has not yet been written. I know that for some, the new year is a fresh start, and a way to close the door on the past year. I however, like to see it as an uncharted path along the way to wherever it is this rad and happy adventure called life takes me. Not a way to forget the trail I’ve already trekked upon, but a continuation of that trail along the same journey. Maybe I just really like the thought of adventure.

And like any true adventurer at heart, I like to prepare myself for the journey by setting goals – trail markers, if you will – that will help condition me for the road that lies ahead.

So, what’s in store for this girl in 2017? Well, since this post runs the risk of turning into a novel, I’m going to break my 2017 goals down in three separate posts. One for each focus: body, mind, soul.

First up – Body

Before I began baking this little bun of mine, I kept up a good fit regime. Boot camp and running (with a bit of yoga sprinkled in) were my main fit focuses during 2016.

Running became impossible pretty early on in my pregnancy. Not because my doctor advised against it, but because running suddenly felt so uncomfortable on every single joint in my body that instead of the runner’s high I was used to, I discovered running dread. I’ve always loved how free running makes me feel. Having every ounce of joy suddenly sucked out of it was awful, and I worried I’d soon grow to hate running if I continued to push myself, so I decided to swap my running routine for brisk walks. The change was a tough one to get used to, but my body thanked me for it. I don’t see my running hiatus being permanent, but for now it seems to be what I need.

During the first few months of pregnancy, I continued to take boot camp classes, easing off on weight and intensity, as well as frequency. Once I got into the second trimester though, coming up with modifications in a group class setting just became too difficult. I tried adding yoga to my walking routine, but it just didn’t satisfy the hibernating fit nut within me. And then I remembered the Tone It Up community. I’ve been following the lovely K&K on Instagram for the past year and a half, without ever actually committing to joining in on the fit fun. With followers of all ages and across several countries, I recently decided that it is the perfect place to continue my fit pregnancy journey.

I’ve been an official TIU girl for nearly two weeks now, and love it. Workouts are scheduled out a week at a time. Each day consists of ‘5 Daily Moves’ and a specific workout (varying from cardio, body part focused routines, and strength training). You can either workout to that day’s video (some of which require purchase), or can do your own variation of the day’s workout.

There is zero guess work, and I love that! One of my biggest fitness road blocks over the years has been creating my own training routine. It can be fun, don’t get me wrong. It can also however, be tedious, boring, and at times even demotivating. At least for me. The constant research involved in coming up with different routines to ward of boredom and the dreaded physical plateau . . . Well at times I felt like all I was doing was research and planning. By the time it came to actually following the plan I’d spend so much time putting together, I sometimes dreaded it. Having a weekly workout routine planned out for me – with the added bonus of a community made up of other women working towards their own fit goals – is a little slice of heaven to me.

I can honestly say that I haven’t felt bored, uninterested, or demotivated once since joining. The routines are well though out, easy to follow, as well as easy to fit into my day. K&K, the women behind TIU, are spunky, fun, and incredibly motivating. Another huge bonus – in my opinion – is that joining the community is absolutely free. While there are fitness plans and bundles available to purchase, that aspect is optional. You can make progress on your personal fit journey whether or not you pay for the additional goodies.

I look forward to checking back in and sharing updates on my fit bump journey.

Oh, and I will be posting my mind-centered 2017 goals in my next post. For now . . .

Peace,

Y

Merry & Bright

Christmas 2016 has come and gone – as well as 2016 as a whole! I’m a few weeks tad behind in posting – I know! – so please, humor me.

Our holiday season began with a bit of unexpected news. We had originally planned to visit my family in California, since we’d spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. One thing I’ve learned in my married life journey so far, is the need for balance when it comes to his & hers family affairs. Well, as fate would have it, the decision to travel for Christmas was not as ‘in our hands’ as we had thought. Real life and work life collided, and well, work life won. While we would still have several days off together, an earlier-than-planned return to work for the dude meant driving home on Christmas day . . . Which was a less than holly-jolly alternative, and frankly made staying local quite appealing. So a Christmas with just the two of us it was.

Now, this is where we could have decided that Christmas 2016 was ruined, but we just aren’t the half-glass-empty type. Instead of mope about, sad we couldn’t be with family, we opted to make the holiday weekend a special celebration for two. And then it hit us . . . This was our last holiday season as a family of ‘just us.’ With our little baby J on the way, we would grow to a family of three by next Christmas! The realization hadn’t occurred to us until just then! What a little blessing staying in town turned out to be. How often does life give you the chance to savor your current state of happy before it flips your world upside down and sideways? Rarely. If ever. Who were we to accept this gift with anything but gratitude?

So, what are a girl and guy without Christmas plans to do? Two words . . . Mini getaway! Just because a multi-day vacation was out of the question didn’t mean we couldn’t get away for just one night. When you live in a city where it doesn’t snow, the thought of experiencing a white Christmas is heavenly. Our local ski resort is just an hour outside the city, and while snowboarding is a definite no-no during pregnancy, simply waking up to and enjoying a wintery wonderland is just enough to lift holiday spirits. At least it was for us.

We arrived late in the evening, so we enjoyed dinner-for-two at the resort restaurant, then turned in early to finish marathoning Westworld in our pajamas. We know how to party. Am I right?! 

We awoke the next morning to nearly eight inches of snow! The mountain was mostly dry when we arrived, with only small icy pockets here and there. You can imagine our surprise when we took a peep outside! The mountain was a blanket of fluffy white for miles and miles. It was the perfect sight to cozy up over breakfast to.

img_5930(Our view from breakfast!)

With a severe winter storm warning looming, we thought it best to skip the morning hike we’d originally talked about taking. No need to get stranded on the mountain on Christmas Eve. Instead, we took a casual stroll and enjoyed our wintery surroundings until we were too chilly to stay out in the cold any longer.

Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

It was a short little trip. Sometimes I think those are the best though. When you have limited time somewhere, you have no choice but to take it all in and savor every moment. That one day of winter weather was just enough to get us in the holiday mood.

Waking up to a quiet house the next morning, Christmas morning, was surprisingly and incredibly peaceful.

While the hubs slept in, I busied myself making homemade cinnamon rolls and a hash brown casserole. Nothing gets a sleepy dude out of bed like the promise of warm and gooey sweet treats!

Attachment-1.jpeg

After stuffing ourselves full of goodness, we gathering ’round the crackling YouTube-made-possible fire and opened gifts. I am still awestruck when I think of this as our last ‘just adults’ Christmas. Can you believe we’ll  have a 9 month old the next time Santa comes to visit?!

IMG_5833.JPG

The rest of the afternoon was a glorious combination of lounging around, prepping the roast for dinner, and watching football (Steeler Nation!).

The hub’s brother and his girlfriend stopped by later on, and we did what any four normal adults would do on Christmas . . . We made gingerbread houses. Or more correctly, decorated them. It’s the strangest thing. We could not for the life of us find a gingerbread kit that didn’t come with an already assembled house! It felt kind of like cheating, but we had a blast non the less. And if I do say so myself, I think we turned out to be superb gingerbread house decorators. Food Network Holiday Baking Championship, here we come! Oh wait, you have to bake your own goodies and then decorate them? Hmmm . . . maybe we’ll just stick to being self-glorified gingerbread house decorators.

IMG_0020.JPG(His & hers gingerbread houses)

IMG_0021.JPG(Look at that spacious backyard!)

You work up quite the appetite decorating gingerbread houses! Must be all those freely flowing artistic juices. I tested out this horseradish crusted beef tenderloin recipe, and let me just say, it did not disappoint! Paired with a small salad and creamy mashed potatoes, it made for a perfectly festive Christmas dinner.

We ended the night by marathoning Christmas movies and playing an extremely lively and truly entertaining round of Christmas Trivia. Did you know that’s a real game? If you haven’t played it, I highly recommend picking it up at your local Target. It was seriously a hoot!

You can bet we slept very soundly that night.

And just like that, Christmas 2016 came and went. I am always a little sad to see it pass. The holiday season fills me with such warm and pleasant feelings. I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic each time the season comes to an end.

The new year brings a fresh start, and though I look forward to a squeaky-clean, new year to fill with plans, memories, and goals, I love, love, love that cheery holiday-home feel so much that I can’t help but feel a little grumpy when it comes time to pack everything away. I always allow myself to enjoy our holiday decor through the first week of the new year. Too long? Maybe for some, but I think not. The slow transition back to normalcy makes me the happiest.

nutcrackers(My collection is slowly growing each year)
img_0022(I just love Santa’s mod Norwegian-inspired sweater!)

img_0024img_0031img_0028(This year’s snowglobe. You + me + baby makes three!)

img_0032img_0035img_0036(Steamboat Willie Mickey! We picked him up during our anniversary vaca back in June)

Goodbye 2016. You were one of our best years yet. Here’s to looking ahead to our growing family, all new firsts, and brand-new experiences in 2017.

Peace,

Y