For my Fellow Empaths

Mental health check-in board in my classroom (made by a student!)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around what all I wanted to say. Finally, here I am. I have been thinking a lot lately about wellness, mental health, and what that looks like for myself and others. I have always considered myself to be a people person, and time and time again I am labeled the same in personality tests as someone who is highly sensitive to others, and just sensitive in general. I am a feeler; I feel things really deeply, I take on the joys, sorrows, and stresses of others, and I have had to work really hard to get to a place in my life where I feel like I am able to manage that in a healthy way. I just want everyone to be okay – for there to be peace and harmony and balance – and it is overwhelming sometimes to know that I can’t control that for anyone but myself. So I comfort myself by doing my little part, and this post is a challenge for you to do the same.

During October, mental health awareness week is observed. We make sure to illuminate this on social media or mention it to people if we hear about it in time, but in my opinion, mental health awareness should just be a way of life. Taking care of ourselves and checking in on those we care about should be something we do on a daily basis. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and reached out to with care. When is the last time you asked your parents, your friends, your significant other, or your colleagues if they are feeling good, if things are going okay for them, or if there is anything they need? When is the last time you asked these same questions of yourself, the person you have to spend the most time with? It doesn’t have to be serious or heavy, but it should be sincere – and my worry is not that people don’t care, but more likely, that people are too busy trying to make it through their own hectic life that they aren’t stopping to ask anyone else if they could use a leg up or a kind few words of encouragement in the process.

In 2017, I saw a documentary and a TED Talk that changed the way I look at everything. I have always been a feeler and a people person, like I said, but for the first time, I finally had my hands on some real science that made everything click. The documentary is called Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. It illuminates the alarming results of a massive research study conducted in the mid ’90s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. The ACEs study correlated childhood traumas in the home before the 18th birthday to negative health outcomes later in life, and the results were staggering in shining the light on the connection between psychology and physiology. Trauma – real trauma – literally changes our DNA and our body’s stress response system to make us more susceptible to serious health conditions later in life, not to mention the emotional effects. Most importantly for my work as a teacher, trauma can cause serious behavior and learning problems in school, and can make things like ADHD easier to misdiagnose. The accompanying TED Talk that gives a background of the ACEs study and a call to action is linked here by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris – take 15 minutes and watch it when you can. For the last two years, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the effects of trauma on our adult health and on the developing bodies of children and teens – particularly with a lens to be a better educator and help teen students navigate through levels of anxiety and depression that are higher than ever before. My passion with education has always been the human interactions, the relationships, and the lasting memories from the students in my classroom.

I recently saw a video on Instagram, and you may have seen it by now, too – a coach at a high school embracing a student who came to school with a gun. Due to working in a high school, obviously this possibility lives in the back of my mind at all times, and it is chilling – to say the least. But what a display of absolute heroism and compassion that man showed, simply by giving grace and love instead of potentially escalating the situation into something violent by taking a different approach. In the video, the teenager is clearly unstable, flailing his arms around, shouting and crying, hugging the coach back, pushing him away, hugging him again…it is clear that he needs help. I’m not saying we have to hug every threat that comes our way, or that we shouldn’t place consequences on behavior that puts the safety of others in jeopardy…but something has got to give. The video was a strong example for me of the delicate balance of humanity. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in NC between the ages of 10-17. Yes, you read that right, age TEN to seventeen. We are losing people and we don’t have the resources in place to be able to help them, or to help ourselves when we are run down from trying to carry out the emotional work of educating children. We have compassion fatigue, we have secondary trauma, we have burnout, we have exhaustion. Not to mention, we also have our own stuff to deal with and work through. Wanting to help is not enough. We need action, we need to build resilience, and we need support and resources for when our batteries are too drained to continue to help charge others. This article does a good job of expressing the need for help in dealing with secondary trauma. This one too, for all my teacher friends!

We need more kindness, more grace, more compassion. The world needs to stop blaming others and tearing people down with judgments and passive aggressive remarks. It costs nothing to smile at someone, to check in on someone who seems like they are struggling, or to thank someone for something they did that mattered to you. It is completely free to give someone a break, to put a hand to a shoulder, or to hold someone close when they are crying or on the edge. We have to stop saying people should “suck it up” and “deal with it,” because actually dealing with it looks a lot different than ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug. We have no idea of someone else’s story, and I can say this firsthand through learning things about students’ lives that make my stomach flop and my hair stand on end. The effects of stress and trauma are long-lasting and literally health-damaging. People need to know that they can count on someone, that it’s okay to reach out for help, and that they are not alone on whatever road they’re walking on. It’s daily acts of kindness, love, grace, and compassion – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – that keep people floating instead of drowning. And the more we all practice these things, the kinder the world becomes.

One day, care plans for trauma and ACEs will just be part of our routine screenings/physicals and education plans. This article details Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ plan to implement these changes in education – but it is going to take time, and it is going to take all of us. Mental health awareness isn’t just suicide prevention day, or a week during a month of the year. It is every day, it is lifelong. We all need to be okay, and to know how to start working towards it if we’re not. To know that it’s okay to admit we might need some help – and to know that help will be there if we can take the brave step to ask for it. It’s not huge, grand gestures that make the difference, it is small everyday tasks that can change the course for someone who is struggling. The world already has enough negativity and skepticism. What if we all took a small part in spreading something better around?

I’m still here!

I can’t believe it has been since JANUARY that I wrote last. I had just been overwhelmed and busy with regular life and work stuff, and I wasn’t feeling very inspired because everything just kept coming at me fast. But here I am, ready to write here and there whenever I do feel inspired and when I have the time! Just in time for school to start again…because I’m sure that won’t be busy, right?

There is definitely a lot to write about – I’m so incredibly thrilled to announce that Andrew and I are expecting a baby boy in the winter! Baby McClannon is due on January 29. I am about 4.5 months pregnant, so almost halfway there! Crazy to think about. It has gone by so fast in some ways, and slow in others. Waiting to tell people was so hard for us! We got Whitney to take some pictures for us for our anniversary and for a pregnancy announcement, and they are gorgeous. Whitney is so talented and that is not news to me, but the fact that she can make us look this good in the 90+ degree, 85% humidity of NC summer, WITH all three of our dogs…now THAT is impressive. Here are a few of my favorites!

We did early detection blood testing for chromosomal abnormalities – mostly because we knew that it would tell us the gender much earlier than an ultrasound! We both really wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl. We would have been happy either way, and most importantly we just are hoping for a healthy baby! But we got the results on our one year anniversary, which was such a great gift. We were both so excited and in disbelief that it was a boy! But the test is over 99% accurate, so it’s a pretty safe bet 🙂 I am really thankful that I have not had any morning sickness/nausea throughout this pregnancy (but I have had plenty of other glamorous symptoms, don’t worry). I’ve been trying to walk as much as I can to stay active, drink tons of water, and get plenty of rest, and I’m drinking a green juice every morning to make sure I get enough veggies and fruits!

In other news, school starts on MONDAY. Or today, when you are actually reading this! I can’t wait for all of my old students to find out that we’re having a baby – since I teach parenting and early childhood classes, they’re always dying to know when we are going to have kids! Summer has absolutely FLOWN by, and we have moved our entire school into a brand new building while our school is torn down and rebuilt. We will be in the new building for 2 years, and it is amazing to have this humongous, brand new space that we get to make our own. I’ve worked really hard getting my classroom together, and as always, I have so many new ideas I want to implement and try out for the school year. The only drawback is that our start time is at 7:10am. As in, at 7:11am students are late to 1st period class. Staff arrives at 6:40am…so I am going to have to work on not snoozing the ol’ alarm in the mornings!

Those are the biggest new developments over here! I am going to try to blog more regularly again, because I really do enjoy it. I have struggled in the past with this blog because I’m never sure what direction I want it to take since I am so passionate about so many things, and what I want to write about changes so often. I do love makeup, hair, clothes, home decor, etc., but I also love teaching, cooking, reading, and writing about things like making this world a better place and making the people in it more empathetic and kind. So I think most of my hiatus was just kind of taking some time to myself to realize that this blog is really for me, firstly, and that anyone who benefits from my words or simply enjoys their time reading my posts is such a gift to me. So though I will never be an influencer or a famous YouTuber, and though I seriously need to invest in some basic photography tutorials, I am proud that I am a loving wife and dog mom, a future mom (!!!), a passionate teacher, and a sensitive and caring person. Those are things to celebrate. We are all worthy, we are all good enough, and we all deserve to go way easier on ourselves most of the time. So whatever direction this blog does end up taking at any given moment, thank you for simply coming along for the ride.

Good luck to all of the teachers who are starting school today, and good luck to all the parents and guardians sending your little ones off!

Getting to Know You…rself

one of my favorites by j parker photography – she always takes pictures that feel like me

Next week, we start a new semester at school. The first days are always filled with getting to know you activities, team building and relationship building activities, and games or writing prompts to try to form a sense of a nurturing, safe community.

In addition to getting to know my students, I always like to be able to share myself with them so the vulnerability and openness is reciprocal. It always begs the question: What is important or interesting about me? What do I want to share with someone that really gives a glimpse of me, my life, and what is unique to me? Of course I tell them about my recent wedding and my husband who also teaches, and our three crazy dogs, and how I love spending time with family and friends, but those things are all expected. So I like to think about what else I could share.

Recently, Whitney wrote me to ask a favor for a photography business course she’s taking. It asks you to think about things that you’re passionate about or things that set you on fire, and to ask others for their input as well. I made a list for her, which was fun! Then I was intrigued, and asked the same favor of her! Here is the list she sent me:

Things that set Julia on fire:
Nail polish names 
Making checklists
Checking things off of said checklists
A good pen
Compassion
A good dog IG account
Peanut butter
Writing
A crisp glass of sauvignon blanc
Education
A long necklace
A good country song
A well-rounded gift to give
New makeup
A good blog
A good lip color
Snail Mail
Organization
Salty & sweet
Classic with a twist

She knows me so well! Yes to all of those things. I would add to this list reading anything I can get my hands on, cheese, getting a back scratch, corny puns, and my favorite Lululemon leggings. It really is so many little things that make us who we are and make us tick. I think sometimes we just lose a little bit of knowing ourselves because life gets busy, things change, and in just trying to keep up with the ebb and flow of everyday life, we lose track of ourselves and what we need, what we no longer need, and all the little things that bring us joy or give us a sense of purpose.

I will be getting to know these things about my new set of teenagers in just a few days, and I’m excited for them to get to know me, too! We’ll even have a student teacher to get to know and work with until May. I truly believe – and I have said it a hundred million times – that the better you truly know and care for your students, and the more they truly know and care for you, they will do anything for you and the opportunities for learning and personal growth open up ten-fold for them and for the educator in the classroom.

I am so grateful that I have so many special people in my life who are reflective, supportive, thoughtful, and who actively try to better themselves and others around them. Life is a constant reconstruction of ourselves, and I always t think it’s important to check back in and see who you are.

I encourage you to think of your own list; what would be on yours?

Happy Friday!



FriYAY feels!

It has been forever since I’ve had time to sit down and write anything. I’m so glad it’s time for the weekend! Tomorrow I have brunch plans with two of my girlfriends and we are going to a place I haven’t been to in forever, so I’m excited! Other than that, our weekend is pretty open so I’m hoping to spend some time with Andrew and the doggies, relax, read, and just see what comes up.

I’m feeling sassy because I got my hair cut this week! It was time for a change so I went for a “lob.” Once we cut it, I noticed how dead and scraggly it had been before! I love the new length and we went a little lighter, too! My hairstylist has been doing my hair FOREVER – since college over 10 years ago! She recommended this Kenra volumizing shampoo + conditioner for my poor thin hair, this curling wand in the 32mm size for bigger, carefree waves, and this Amika mousse for volume and texture (plus heat protection!). I’m going to give them all a try for a while and report back! It looks so much healthier and I am excited to style it!

the new ‘do!

I am also doing great with my Weight Watchers and staying active so far! I know it hasn’t been long, but if I can keep up the routine for long enough, it will just become normal and that’s what I’m aiming for. Andrew is doing it with me, so that makes it so much better!

In other news, I received a pair of Tieks (!!!) for Christmas and I have been wearing them about every other day. They are amazing! I also received an Instant Pot and I am going to plan to try a recipe or two next week in it! My friend Jenny found a recipe for spaghetti squash in the instant pot that takes FIVE MINUTES. That is absolutely a GAME CHANGER. So I think I’ll try that one next week with some sauce and meatballs. Easy, healthy, and delicious!

I also used some of my Christmas money to purchase these flats in the red and the leopard print! Most of my shoes that I wear constantly are super worn out, and these are cute and affordable enough to try out. I have a similar black pair that I have had for years and years, and one of my students called me out on wearing them all the time – so I figured it was time to upgrade! I can mix them in the rotation with my new Tieks 🙂

I’m loving this Fiore lip color and always love this line of lipsticks from Stila! I stopped buying lipsticks for a while, so now I’m a little low on my stash again and it might be time to restock!

In other news, we start exams next week at school and I’m always sad to say goodbye to my students! Changing semesters is always a great chance to start fresh and try new things, but it is always bittersweet. I had a great group of kids this semester and I’m going to miss them.

That’s it for me; everyone have a great weekend!

2019

one of my favorite pictures from 2018

I cannot believe we are in 2019! Another new year, another time for resolutions and a new start. I agree that anytime is as good a time as any to start up something new or work towards a goal, but there’s something about the feeling of doing it with everyone else that makes you feel like you’re supported.

2018 was good to me, so it is going to be a tough year to beat. Andrew and I got married (!!!), went on our honeymoon to Jamaica, started another new school year, and bought a house! Big life changes. I got to celebrate my best friend getting married and host some events for her, and I got to spend lots of time with two of my bridesmaids’ babies! I went on a few amazing bachelorette parties, attended wonderful and happy weddings, and did all the wedding things. I also got to help renovate a playground with my Early Childhood Education students with a grant we received! I went to Chicago with my family, celebrated turning 31, and got to see a lot of baseball and football games that Andrew coached. A great year 🙂

I always make similar resolutions (see here and here for 2018 and 2017’s posts), but this year I’m really trying to be thoughtful about what is realistic and what is practical for my life in this season. Last year I did so-so with my resolutions and failed hard with my weight loss goals, so I’m really trying to stick to a few simple things this year! Here are my 2019 resolutions:

  1. Stick to Weight Watchers! I just re-joined and spent a lot of time meal planning and writing my grocery lists. I know I can do it and I hope to continue seeing progress! I have a considerable amount of weight to lose, and I want to do it the right way.
  2. Be more active.
  3. Andrew and I both want to set an early bedtime for school nights and read for 30 minutes before bed.
  4. Less screen time. This one is hard just due to society in general, but I’d really like to limit my mindless scrolling on social media. I also want to be more intentional about when my phone is out – like during meals or when I am visiting with friends or family.

That’s it! All doable, all realistic, and all important for me at this time in my life. Whatever your new year resolutions are, I am sending good vibes for us all to be successful! Here’s to 2019, and 360-something more days to try to get it right!

Thanksgiving

our first thanksgiving living at the new house!

Today, I am thankful for so many things. I really try to always remind myself that there is much to be thankful for – because we need that mindset every day and not just on holidays – but Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love Christmas, too, but there’s something about just gathering around for some food with the people you love the most that makes me feel happy and comforted.

My whole life, we spent Thanksgivings at my aunt’s house in South Carolina. She has 4 kids, there are 3 kids in our family, and now one of her kids has 2 kids! It’s a huge family affair and used to include our grandparents before they passed, and my aunt Sherilyn always comes, too. I have become really interested in how other families and cultures spend their holidays and time with family in the last few years, and I always ask my students what their plans and traditions are. To me, the loud laughter, chatter, and teasing that is always bouncing around at my aunt’s house makes me feel at home. Even if your family isn’t close or you can’t get home for the holidays, it’s a time to spend with others who welcome you in and claim you as one of their own. I know the holidays can bring sadness and angst for many, so I hope if that is true for you this holiday season, that you are able to find somewhere to spend happy time with others and to take care of yourself in whatever way that may be.

This year, our school football team is in the playoffs! Andrew is the quarterback coach, so as I type this he’s at Thanksgiving Day practice and tomorrow the boys will play the second round of playoffs! So this year we are not going “home,” we are staying home in our new house with the doggies and spending our Thanksgiving meal with two other teacher couples for a teacher Thanksgiving! I am bringing a family recipe macaroni and cheese, these delicious mashed potatoes, and these delectable apple dumplings (I’ve said it before, but you just can’t go wrong with a Pioneer Woman recipe!). I’m waiting for the laundry to finish so I can wear my favorite leggings and shamelessly enjoy my meal – plus, the best thing about wearing leggings for Thanksgiving is you’re already prepared for the inevitable post-turkey afternoon/evening nap!

It’s always easy to find things to complain about or to get caught up in what’s going wrong in life, but it feels a lot better to celebrate the good. So this year, I’m celebrating a lot of things I’m thankful for:  A family that laughs together, a new family that I’m now part of, a wonderful husband, three sweet doggies that always keep us on our toes, a new cozy home that feels just right, friends who are like family, and starting new traditions as we have our first big holiday together as a married couple!

these 3 turkeys are hoping they’ll get some real turkey today!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to everyone!

FriYAY feels!

source

Happy Friyay! I am super excited for this weekend because Andrew and I are going to Charlotte to visit my sister and go to the Panthers game on Sunday! The tickets were our wedding gift from her and it seemed like so far away then, but here we are and it feels like no time at all has passed!

I got these mules a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop wearing them. They are so great! Comfortable, affordable, and they go well with jeans or dress pants for work! I got the toffee color but also love the taupe.

With the colder weather, my skin has been acting out by becoming dry and having a couple of breakouts. I started researching face cleansing brushes and ended up purchasing this one on amazon – I used it for the first time last night and loved the way my skin felt afterwards. Super clean, smooth, and I love that there are a couple of different brush head options to use! I am really excited to see if it keeps helping my skin’s appearance and texture.

Loving this color for fall nails.

I’ve mentioned her store before, but this top and this top are THE BEST purchases in a while. So good. The roll front top is sold out but I’m linking it in case it comes back, and you can add your email to be notified when it’s back in stock!

This week, I started honestly trying to be more active and more thoughtful in the choices I made for groceries and meals. I pack our lunches and make dinner every night, so this week at the grocery store I got healthy items so we didn’t have any other choice! I am trying to get into the habit of exercising after school and then making a healthy dinner for us with good portion sizes.

I can’t wait to read this book and have heard such good things about it!

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend!

Going easy

Every now and then I get into a weird mood that is hard to get out of until I sit with it for a while. It’s not bad, there’s nothing wrong, I just need to sort out my thoughts and have some time to myself. And I think part of it is not taking enough time for myself, and going and going and going until I finally realize (admit to myself?) all of a sudden that I have taken on too much and I just need a MINUTE. Is anyone else with me?! This is ironically not the first time I’m writing about this. (Here, here, here AND here I also discuss slowing down, saying no, taking care of yourself, giving yourself grace, etc. so CLEARLY I am mastering this topic still struggling with this concept).

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about society, and our constant need for instant gratification and for everything to be picture perfect. Only showing the parts of ourselves that are fun, happy, poised, and put together. I haven’t posted much anywhere lately because I just haven’t really felt like it – I’ve been busy and tired with regular old life. School is great, but always exhausting and comes with several extra commitments. And with moving into the new house, I have put a lot of pressure on myself to “finish” everything and keep everything just so. I had to really convince myself this week that the dishes can sit for a day, the laundry can sit in the dryer for a minute, and the dog hair can accumulate a little bit in the corners — and that the world will keep on spinning. I don’t have to grade that last assignment right this second or reply to xyz email the second I get it. So, the last couple of days, I have just kind of kept to myself and taken things easy.

I teach Early Childhood Education classes – so I don’t teach young children, but I do teach teenagers about young children – and my students keep telling me about the themes they’re seeing in their internships of children giving up quickly when they don’t get the outcome they want the first time around. We went on a site visit as a class where the preschool director told us there’s a big problem with fine motor skills in young children in today’s world, because they grow up using their fingers to tap buttons on a screen and they aren’t getting the practice they need to coordinate their fine motor skills like kids have in the past, due to the easy, don’t-have-to-think-about-it technology we are so attached to. This is worth a whole separate discussion in itself, but the fact that even our CHILDREN are overloaded and overstimulated made me stop today and THINK. Sometimes it is vital for us to slow down, appreciate the little things, and take care of ourselves – and while doing so, we have to embrace the fact that things aren’t perfect, we’re going to have to work hard for things, and we can’t all be 1.6 billion dollar lottery winners (although that would have been prettttty sweet). We set this impossible standard for ourselves sometimes and then compare ourselves to the best of the photo reels we see on social media – and we think we aren’t good enough. But how about just admitting to ourselves that we are all in this together, and that even people who look really put together probably have similar issues and struggles? How about giving ourselves a little bit of grace and letting ourselves take a break every now and then? I think we have to, in order to keep doing all the other things we have to do on a daily basis.

I got to a point where I just had too much going on, so tonight I am doing my nails, having a few snacks on the couch with the doggies, and writing this blog post. Candle burning, tucked in to a cozy blanket, re-watching Gilmore Girls again, and trying to stay away from my phone because sometimes it’s nice to just settle in and hang out. So feel free to use this as a reminder to do the same (or your version of it) so you don’t have to get this slap in the face of “here we go again.” The weekend is nearly upon us 🙂 and it will be okay. The world keeps on turning, and it’s better if we can relax and be okay with ourselves while it does.

FriYAY feels!

one semi-finished corner of the new house!

I wish I could start this post by writing about fall, and how I love fall, and fall fashion, and scarves and booties and thick chunky sweaters, but y’all. It’s still ALMOST NINETY DEGREES here today. So I just really can’t.

But what I DO want to share is this shop from Kendi at Kendi Everyday. I’ve been following her blog forever and I know I already mentioned her new store in another post, but now I have received some items from Everyday & Co and I am LOVINGGGGGG them. Particularly this everyday blouse (which, come on, I knew I would). I have it in ash grey and it is so pretty and flattering. The material is great and it’s long enough to wear with leggings or do a front tuck (I’m a big fan of a front tuck). This super soft crew neck tee is perfect, too. I love that it has longer sleeves for the arms and a high neck. It looks polished but it still a closet staple. I know 100% without a doubt that I will be continuing to come to this site for clothes. She gets me.

This week, I made scallop linguini, spice rubbed parmesan chicken, and spicy garlicky spinach from the new Chrissy Teigen cookbook, and I just want to say YESSS.  If you don’t have her cookbook yet, run to get it. Such delicious looking and sounding dishes, and all seem fairly easy to make! That’s the best part. I don’t have the first Cravings cookbook, but that’s next on my list!

I’ve been back on this train for my everyday makeup and am just loving it still. I am finding it hard in my thirties (because I’m actually IN my thirties now) to find good face makeup that doesn’t get greasy throughout the day or cake up in lines around my nose. This is illuminating and just leaves such a soft finish but a pretty full coverage. And I never feel like I have to reapply during a day of teaching teens – and that is saying something.

This is the best blanket!!! Whitney told me about it, so I went to Amazon to check the literally thousands of amazing reviews. I got it in ivory and it is so. soft. It’s the blanket in the picture at the top of this post! Machine washable, soft on both sides, warm, and looks good in a room. Affordable, too – most throw blankets are way too pricey!

I’m loving this and this for jewelry storage at the new house. Simple, pretty, functional, and doesn’t take up too much space. And I just so happen to have gotten a 20% off coupon for The Container Store from moving!

We have a busy couple of weekends ahead, but all good stuff! I hope everyone enjoys this weekend and maybe soon we will be dipping into fall weather and I can write about booties and scarves and thick chunky sweaters 🙂 Happy Friyay!

Thirty-one

I have been writing birthday posts since I started this blog THREE YEARS AGO (hard to believe!), but this year life was hitting me hard and I am just now getting a chance to sit down and think about this post. I’m writing this in our new living room as I look all around our new home, while a fence is being built for the back yard – and that is such a good feeling! We have a lot to do still, but now is the fun part…decorating and organizing!

So this is how 31 began for me! My birthday was last Tuesday, and we closed on our house on Thursday and spent the weekend moving and unpacking. If this is any indication of the upcoming year, I think it’s going be pretty amazing – but it’s hard to beat the year I got married to the love of my life!

This is my fourth birthday at maxouthappy.com, and it’s always fun to go back and read my previous birthday posts, starting with my 28th birthday. So much has changed since then, but the things that have stayed constant are my family and closest friends, and my values and feelings about life. It’s hard to believe I didn’t even know Andrew then…my life was about to open up right in front of my eyes and I didn’t even see it coming. Becoming a real adult has been a slap in the face at times, and has not been without its struggles, but there is so much happiness and contentment in knowing that I am where I have chosen to be and that I wouldn’t change any of it! (I mean, I would love to win the lottery, but who wouldn’t!)

The goals I have set for myself in this new year of life are about taking care of myself better. I want to stop to relax more often, which I think will be a little easier now that we are settling down and have moved out a little farther. More quiet nights and weekends at home with my husband and our three furry kids sounds good to me 🙂 I also want to commit to cooking more meals at home because I love to cook, it’s relaxing for me, and it also saves money and is healthier than always eating out. I have so many beautiful cookbooks with amazing dishes on the pages, so I want to start trying them all out! If you mess it up, there’s always pizza, right? I also want to follow a strict schedule of exercising at least 3 days a week. Three days is totally doable, and I don’t care what I do as long as I do SOMETHING – walk, yoga, at home HIIT workout or weights, YouTube workouts, whatever! Finally, I want to remember to be thankful and appreciate the moments I am in, and do a better job of that rather than worrying about things that have already come or things that may or may never happen. I do a good job of being thankful, but the other part is hard for me.

Thirty was fabulous – thirty and flirty and thriving – but I think it should always just keep getting better. Bring it on, thirty-one!