Within the past few years, my life has gone through a lot of changes. College, jobs, friends, apartments; some changes have been good and some… not so good. The year that I graduated from college I gained 15 pounds within 5 months. I have never really struggled with weight, but suddenly my body seemed out of my control. I tried diets, calorie counting, and countless exercises but the scale never budged.
This same year I was working in an incredibly high-stress job. I spent every single day full of fear and anxiety. I found myself surrounded by miserable people and slowly… I became one of them. I had no idea at the time that a job can cause so much harm to your mental state that eventually it can start to turn physical.
When I finally realized that I could not continue on with that career, I found a new one. This time, my qualifications changed. I decided that rather than a job that was about “what I did”, I wanted a job that was more about who I was with. I found a job where I am surrounded by smart, funny women that motivate me to be better every day. I found a job where I don’t feel stressed or anxious and if I do it doesn’t last long. I found a job where I come home feeling recharged rather than exhausted. This has made all the difference.
Here are a few ways that my lifestyle changed, just by finding the right job.
- Sleep: While I have always been able to get a solid 8 hours, I didn’t realize that the quality of those hours was so important. In my previous positions, I would have stress-induced dreams, sometimes even portraying an entire work day! That meant that I was only getting about 15 minutes of deep sleep (according to my Fitbit). Now I sleep soundly most nights and my deep sleep has tripled.
- I have the freedom to walk. In my current position, I am very lucky that I am free to take walks. I am a huge believer that sitting is the new smoking, and most jobs make you feel like you are tied to a desk. Being able to step back from my computer and step outside for a few minutes helps me clear my head and feel recharged.
- I come home feeling energized. When you come home from a job that you hate, you often feel too exhausted to get anything done at the end of the day. Now I come home feeling ready to tackle dinner and household chores. Cooking my own meals has always been important to me, and I finally have the gumption to do so.
I may not know the science behind it, but I know that the combination of these things along with my all-around happiness has helped me lose those stubborn 15 pounds. I hope that you learn from my experience and if you find yourself in a job that you hate, know that there is always a way to get out. The pros of leaving are so much more than simply enjoying your job. It’s important for your mental and physical care.
How to Walk Away by Catherine Center. After my own recent breakup, I’ll admit I was drawn to a story that I could really relate to. This book had me trapped from the very beginning. This might sound odd, but I love happy books about sad things (example: literally every book John Green has ever written). How to Walk Away will make you laugh and cry all within one paragraph. The characters are unique and delightful. After reading you can’t help but feel good about your life and the gifts you’ve been given. I will definitely be looking for more written by Ms. Center.
Rock of Ages at the Fort Wayne Civic Theater. The show blew me away! I’ll admit, I am normally more of a “Rogers and Hammerstein” type of gal, so I was not expecting much from this rock n’ roll show taking place on the Sunset Strip. I was so wrong. This show is pure fun. The music, costumes, and dance moves will send you back to the 80’s, along with a super talented cast. What I loved the most? You can tell that the cast is having the time of their lives. I love when you can feel the energy coming off the stage, and this Civic show definitely brings that. There’s only one ticket left, so you better get your tickets fast!
Warning: Rated R, definitely do not take your 5-year-old niece or your snooty grandparents.
Natch Beaut by Jackie Johnson. I do not care if you hate makeup and have never touched a face mask in your life; this podcast is AMAZING. It is currently my absolute favorite (that’s a big deal). Host Jackie Johnson is hilarious, honest, and totally unique. She has opened my mind to a more thoughtful way of living while also cracking me up with every episode. What I love most about Jackie and Natch Beaut is her absolute love for what she does. She works her ass off to make this podcast and it shows. I aspire to be more like her. Plus, she is completely in love with her dog Chooch, and I am always here to support a fellow dog mom.
Dearest little one,
When it comes to high school, do not believe everything you hear. Don’t let yourself or others dramatize what high school is supposed to be. High school should never be the best or the worst years of your life. They are simply a part of it. High school is 4 years of your life where you get to learn and grow and hopefully deepen your relationship with yourself. It’s this beautiful time when you always have a roof over your head and food on the table. It’s when even after you scream at your parents for existing, you can still go to sleep at night knowing that you are safe.
Try everything. Think you might like tennis? Try it. Want to speak German? Awesome. Want to try out an instrument? Go for it! Don’t decide exactly who you are your freshman year and force yourself to stick to that. Try things out! Even if they don’t end up working out, at least you can say that you gave it a shot. It is so much easier to pick up these hobbies in high school than later when you’re 25 and sitting on the couch. You have so many incredible resources right in front of you and teachers/coaches that want to help!
Don’t date. I’m not telling you this so that you save yourself, or stay pure or anything like that. I’m telling you this because dating in high school isn’t worth the trouble. You have so much growing to do, just like all of the people around you. Maybe date around a little, go out and enjoy another person, but don’t settle down and don’t fall in love. You only have a few years to be completely yourself; don’t waste them on someone else.
If you do date; do it right. If something doesn’t feel right, know that you can always leave. If your stomach starts to hurt, and your hands clamp up, and even for the briefest moment your thoughts scream “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” I am telling you to leave. I don’t care if it’s awkward, I don’t care if you need to call your mom to pick you up. I don’t care if you get up from the dinner table and leave his parents house without even saying a word. When you meet the person you are supposed to be with; it won’t be hard. And even when it is awkward, the love you feel for that person will outweigh the scary thoughts.
So go home to your parent’s house. Eat a pint of ice cream and watch the unlimited channels they stupidly pay for. Talk to your mom about college and ask about what her life was like in high school. Go count your dollars from your crappy waitressing job and spend it on something awesome and frivolous. You only get 4 years. Release your hate, and enjoy every single moment.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. I am a Gilmore Girls fanatic. It is my all time favorite show which actually made me slightly hesitant when it came to picking up Lauren’s book. When it comes to “celebrities” that I love the most; I tend to keep them at arm’s length for fear of finding out something unsavory about them. What if she reveals that she is actually nothing like Lorelei and finds her taxing? What if she actually hates coffee? All things that could ruin my favorite show for me.
But finally, I broke down and downloaded it on Audible. I have since listened to it 3 times. Lauren is witty, charming, and just as quirky as I had imagined. She talks of her love for Gilmore Girls and even convinced me to watch Parenthood which I also completely fell in love with. She is the wise and silly aunt that every 20 -something girl needs.
I would also HIGHLY recommend the audiobook because she is HYSTERICAL and even does a bit of singing which nobody should miss out on.
Iliza Shlesinger: Elder millennial. What’s that? Why yes, my interests are incredibly varied and unique, thank you for noticing. Not only did I love this comedy special, but I also just love her as a person. Her Instagram account has quickly become one of my favorites (mostly because of her super cute dog, Blanche). She has several specials on Netflix and they are all super fun while also tackling some really relevant topics. With Elder Millennial being the newest; I would start there. New life goal: see her live.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. SORRY NOT SORRY. I will love Mamma Mia until the end of my days, I may even request it to be played at my funeral. You’ll notice that I selected the Mamma Mia sequel as my “Listen” rather than “Watch”. That’s because while I do really enjoy the movies, I get much more joy from the soundtracks. I have found that even on my darkest days, I can still turn on these songs and sing my heart out. I thought that the sequel’s soundtrack held up incredibly well to the original and even cuts a little bit deeper; truly exploring the rise and fall of a mother/daughter relationship.
When you grow up in a small town in Indiana, you start seeing a checklist form to plan out your life. Everyone has different lengths of checklists, some are more similar than others, but they all have the same key points:
- Graduate from high school
- Find a job that allows you to make enough money to support yourself
- Meet the person you are willing to spend the rest of your life with
- Marry said person
- Have babies
Now, for some, you might sprinkle in college or a divorce, but for the most part; it’s the same checklist. So when I completed my undergrad and started dating a nice boy, I should not have been shocked when I started getting this question:
“So… do you think you two will get married?!” Always combined with twinkly eyes and a big smile. The first few times I was actually taken aback. “Married?? I’m basically a child!” (I was 22). Suddenly this relationship that still felt fresh and exciting began forming a checklist. One moment, I hadn’t even given marriage a thought, and the next it was barricading through my thoughts. Hairdressers, doctors, and teachers all asked with that same hopeful expression: “do you think he’s the one?!”
Of course, I had talked to my closest friends and relatives about these feelings; they knew how excited I was about this new “adult” relationship. But the person handing me my coffee? What am I supposed to say? “Gosh, I’m not sure. He’s cool and all but there’s still a slim chance that he might be a murderer. Better safe than sorry!” No. You blush and you resist the urge to roll your eyes and shrug “I hope so” so that they don’t get offended.
Let’s end the checklist. Let’s stop putting pressure on individuals to move in a direction they might not be sure about. When that relationship ended, I felt devastated. But you know what? Maybe I wouldn’t feel so sad if I hadn’t been shoved into the idea of marriage so fast. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so sad if I didn’t feel like 23 was too old to be starting all over again in the single world. Because it’s not too old, and neither is 35 or 55 or whatever age you are that makes dating seem impossible.
I know that weddings are fun to talk about, and being a newly engaged person is an exciting time! I’m just saying let’s not rush into anything. Let’s throw out the checklist and just enjoy each step; whatever order it comes in.
Introducing a weekly segment where I indulge you in a few things I’m currently obsessed with. Maybe you’ll love them too? Maybe you have new ideas for me? I devour media, whether it be digital or written. I have no preference, just a love of storytelling.
The Husband’s Secret written by Liane Moriarty. After devouring Big Little Lies on the beach in Fort Myers, Florida I was totally hooked on Ms. Moriarty. Her stories are delicious and scandalous while also being incredibly well written. If you are looking for a book that will have you obsessed from the first page; The Husband’s Secret is for you!
Like Father. This is a Netflix original movie so if you don’t have Netflix (I’m talking to you mom), you are missing out. I don’t know about you, but every now and then I enjoy digging deep into Netflix to watch a movie on a total whim. These nights go best when I am alone (nobody to judge if the movie ends up bad) and if I have NEVER heard of the movie before so that I have no preconceived ideas about it. Like Father fit this bill perfectly. This movie is hysterical while also digging really deep into the always complex relationship between a father and daughter. The fact that it stars Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer is just the icing on the cake.
Gossip. Created by Allison Raskin, Gossip is a fictional podcast. Now listen, I LOVE podcasts. Whether I am cleaning, driving, or walking my dog; I am always listening to one of them. However, Gossip was the first fictional podcast I have ever tried and I’ll admit, I was nervous. While it does take a bit of getting used to, I am now a total devotee. The episodes are quick, thrilling, and leave you wanting more. Give it a try, if anything just because Allison Raskin is a gem and totally brilliant.
Happy ready/ watching/ listening! Let’s conquer September!
I am 23 years old. I live with a roommate, a dog, and a plant named “Danny”. I have no children or husband, and I am usually living paycheck to paycheck. If this sounds like you; please continue on. If you enjoy my charm and incredible personality; continue on. If you are looking for a way to feed your family of 5 picky eaters; this might not be for you, but you go girl!
If I’m being honest; planning meals for 1 can be harder than it might seem. It is so easy to lose motivation and decide to just eat Chiptole and Lean Cuisines for 4 days straight. It can be hard to find the gumption to grocery shop, cook, and then ultimately mindlessly eat your meal while watching The Mindy Project. I struggled for a long time until I started meal planning.
I want to be VERY clear. I am talking about meal “planning” NOT to be confused with meal “prepping”. The difference? Meal prepping involves making a weeks worth of food on a Sunday evening and then slowly watching it rot in your fridge. Meal planning means sitting down on Sunday and mapping out all of the meals you plan to eat for the week. Then making a grocery list to buy only the things required to make those meals, and finally (the hardest part) following through with it.
Here is an example of what my typical week looks like:
You might notice that there are still some “Lean Cuisines” on here and that’s okay! What matters is that on Monday morning I won’t be staring into my fridge, running late trying to decide what to grab for lunch. It’s those mornings that usually end with me giving up and grabbing McDonalds (yikes).
But seriously, planning out my week like this has been a total game changer. Coming home after work and knowing exactly what I’m going to make AND knowing that I have all of the ingredients stocked makes my life a breeze. Not only am I saving money by not eating out as much, but I’m also living a healthier life by knowing exactly what is going into my body.
A few tips:
- Do not over plan. It’s important to consider leftovers and how much each recipe makes. For me; I usually only really cook 2-3 times per week and the rest of the time enjoy leftovers.
- Plan some “easy” meals: for me this usually means either “breakfast for dinner” or some form of pizza. I usually have these ingredients on hand and it is easy to make enough for just 1 serving.
- The freezer is your friend: Believe it or not, it is hard to find recipes that only make 2-3 servings. Usually, they make 4-6 servings and a girl can only easy lasagna so many days in a row. Freeze things! For example, whenever I make marinara sauce, I always freeze half of it. This way I always have some on hand for an “easy” meal later, and I’m not wasting any of it.
- Be flexible. It’s better to look at your meal planning list as more of a guild line then a set plan.
There is so much pride in making your own food and honestly it will not only save you money but also time! Most of the meals I make can be made in 30 minutes or less; think about how much time you spend in the Panda Express line at 5:30 in the evening!
I hope you are able to try out meal planning and if you have any great meal ideas, please share them with me!