This is 30

Last night, I bid adieu to my twenties.

Yup, I’ve officially entered the next decade of my life, and I gotta say, thirty is looking to be both flirty AND thriving, y’all. My twenties were great, and a lot a lot a LOT happened, but I think this next year will truly be my best one yet. Which, okay, fine, I’m pretty sure that I do say that every year. But how could it not be when I get to spend my days with these two?

I mean, okay, sure, there are things about getting older that aren’t exactly the best. For example, yesterday I went to a trampoline park with my friend Rachel, and today I am sore. Also, all that jumping made me realize my, er, pelvic floor has not yet recovered from birthing a child as much as I thought it had, HA.)

Another example, I had half a glass of red wine the other night and it baaaasically got me wasted, lol. And I imagine that somewhere under my bleached-and-dyed locks lingers a grey hair or two — let’s be real though, I don’t really ever intend on finding out! Gahaha.

And yes, my late twenties in particular were really good to me. I went on tons of trips, spent lots of time with friends, and even more time with my rad family. I met, fell in love with, and married Sean. I landed my dream job at Yelp. And then, to cap off what were already several strong years full of life milestones, we had Penny, who has been more of a blessing than I ever could have possibly imagined.

 
But it’s precisely because my 20s ended on such a high note that I’m all the more excited about what 30 holds! I’m actually starting to almost feel like a fully-formed adult these days — I can do my own taxes and install carseats and everything! I’ve gotten back into the groove work-wise after being out on maternity leave, and finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of this whole working mom, work-life balance deal.

The dogs are doing great, too. They remain healthy and high-energy, even with Harry starting to show his age (he turns 14 this month!) and Daxter having to compete with Penny for attention now, haha.

My marriage is in a really good, positive place (although it probably won’t remain that way once he learns I posted the above picture on the internet hahahahaha). It hasn’t been a smooth road as we’ve had to learn and adapt to the changes (and challenges) that having a baby adds to a relationship, but we came through the other side stronger, having grown together.

And, naturally, Penny continues to change and grow and delight us every day.

So here’s to the next decade of love, laughter, light, and just this ol’ thing called life. I honestly can’t wait to see how my thirties go.

Cleaning House (Literally & Figuratively)

Happy February. AHHH IT’S FEBRUARY. How is it February?! Okay, so, yeah, the fact that the first month of the year has absolutely FLOWN by is kind of throwing me for a loop. But! I’m actually feeling really good going into this new month — my spirits are high, I’m feeling optimistic, uplifted, and enthusiastic about tackling the next 28 (well, 27 now) days with purpose and passion.

Why am I in such high spirits, you ask? Well, a multitude of reasons, really! The obvious answer is that Penny is just such a joy right now! I mean, not that she isn’t always, duh, but just in particular right now. She’s so engaged and animated, she “talks” all the time, and is so responsive to your interactions with her… 5 months is just such a fun age!

 
We’ve also made some forward strides in our childcare search: we’ve actually found a daycare that I’m really excited about! I was previously leaning more towards a nanny/nannyshare, and I have met with a couple of people that I really liked, but ultimately we decided that enrolling Penny in daycare part-time is a better fit for my work needs, and for our budget.

 
A spot for Penny won’t be available until this summer (not that this was surprising to us — daycares in Northern VA are very competitive. I inquired into one that doesn’t have an opening until January 2019!), so we are still looking at bringing in a part-time nanny to help bridge the gap until then, particularly because my parents will be doing a ton of traveling this spring. I made sure to be upfront about these plans to our top two nanny candidates, and they both said they’d be willing to take the position on a temporary basis. So hopefully we’ll be moving forward with that soon too. Stay tuned!

 
Another big reason I’m feeling so upbeat is because I’ve been doing a lot of physical and mental decluttering lately. In a revelation that likely surprises no one, I own a lot of crap. I mean, you point me in the direction of basically anything with sequins, faux-fur, polka dots, Harry Potter, schnauzers, foxes, or unicorns, and I will want to purchase it. So, as you can imagine, our house was already on the cluttered side before Penny came into the picture… along with the myriad of baby-related paraphernalia that tends to come with procreating, lol. We just have so much stuff, you know?

Enter the KonMari Method. I plan on going into this in more detail later in a separate post (when I’m closer to being done, lol), but the essence of this project is very simple: your belongings and surroundings should spark joy in you. So I’m trying to get rid of all (or at least, most of) the unnecessary things we’ve (okay, okay, I’ve) accrued over the years, and breathe joy, calm, and purpose back into our home.

Hahaha, I feel so pretentious typing that last part of the previous sentence, but the thing is… it really is working! Things are very much still a work-in-progress (I swear, I’m being ruthless in getting rid of stuff, but we still have so much crap!), but I really do feel happy walking through our kitchen and actually seeing clear counterspace. And filling bag after bag with things to toss or items to donate/sell feels very cleansing. (I do wish I’d taken more “before” photos tho.)

 
And so along with the physical act of organizing our home and simplifying my life, I’m being proactive with regard to getting my mental and emotional clutter cleared out as well. I won’t lie to you guys, I hit a pretty rough spot emotionally a few weeks ago. I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about finding time for work, motherhood, my marriage, my pups, my family, my friends, my health, and myself. The lack of control I was feeling quickly had me spiraling out, making me feel like I was never going to be able to achieve the kind of balance I wanted in my life. It was leading to blowups between my husband and me, tension in my other relationships, and a general sense of unhappiness and discontentment.

Something needed to change. And in a total surprise twist that absolutely nobody saw coming </sarcasm>, turns out that thing was me!

Now, I’ve never really been the kind of person who’s super into, like, the power of positivity and having mantras and putting good vibes into the universe and all that kind of stuff. I mean, if I’m honest, I used to think that sort of thing was just a whole lot of hooey. But. I can’t lie. This ish works.

 
It sounds so cheesy, but I’ve been adopting a mentality of daily gratitude, focusing on personal affirmations, and being proactive about creating — and knocking out — daily to-do lists and it’s done WONDERS for me. I feel like I’ve been able to maintain such a positive attitude these days, even as I take on new work projects like large-scale events and promotions, as well as personal projects like KonMari-ing the house. And a huge part of what has helped me achieve this attitude is my Panda Planner.

The Panda Planner is a planner, gratitude journal, goal-setter, and habit-encourager all in one. It’s got monthly, weekly, and daily sections, the last of which being where it really shines, IMO. There’s space to reflect on what you’re grateful for and excited about each day, what your daily projects are, list out your schedule and tasks, and a space to reflect on how your day went (and how you can improve the next one) at the bottom.

I know it probably sounds silly, but this one little notebook is has been instrumental in helping me reshape my priorities, focus on the positive, and stay on top of my responsibilities — both work- and Penny-related. I’m only a couple of weeks into using it, but it’s given me the tools to maintain such a great outlook that I actually look forward to filling it out each morning, referencing it throughout the day, and having my little period of reflection each night. And I swear, this isn’t a post sponsored by Panda Planner or anything, I just genuinely love it and feel like it’s helping me cultivate so much happiness and contentment in my life.

The hardest parts for me to get on board with initially were the spaces for a daily focus and affirmation, because it just made the whole thing seem a little too hokey for me. But truth be told, filling out those squares each day has actually been one of the most effective things in helping me figure out my new normal without getting overwhelmed.

For example, I’m a people pleaser and have a really hard time saying no to people — both in terms of my job and in my personal life. So my schedule always ends up packed really tightly, and I get stressed out thinking about all the places I need to go or the people I need to see in a day. And so some of the ideas I’ve been trying to remind myself of lately include:

It’s okay to say no.

You don’t have to (and can’t) please everyone.

Everything is temporary.

One step at a time.

Now is not forever.

And, like I said, it really is working! Whether or not these count as actual “affirmations” or if they’re just really good things to remind myself of, I like that the planner reminds me to go back to it every time I open it up. And as for my daily focus, they’ve thus far been things like gratitude, perspective, professionalism, appreciation, productivity, and serenity.

  
Anyway, I know this might sound silly to some of you (it did to me!), but I just feel like I can’t even properly express how light and uplifted I’ve been feeling lately. Even with a long list of to-dos on my task list everyday, I feel so much better equipped to deal with things these days. And I feel like it’ll just keep getting better and better, as I continue to simplify and declutter my life.

Of course, that being said, Penny could have a bad night where I get like three hours of sleep, and then I could get overwhelmed trying to KonMari the monstrosities that are my desk and bookshelves, and some new crisis might surface at work, and everything could totally fall apart. Who knows? One day at a time, right? 🙂

Waiting on our owl…

Hogwarts Class of 2035!

I told you that 2017 would be full of big things! Sean and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be welcoming our little lychee (codename: Foxlet) into the world this September!

 

Mischief managed.

Channeling Something New

Happy New Year!

It’s 2017 and a full of year possibilities is ahead of us. I have a lot that I want to do this year, and I’m hoping that by jumping in full-force, I’ll actually be able to say I’ve done a lot of it by this time next year!

I’ve openly admitted that I’m a starter of projects, but not all that great at finishing them. (Pretty sure it’s smack-dab at the top of my “About” page, lol.) I know that makes me sound flaky, but it’s just part of my personality that I’ve come to understand. I’m a passionate person, and I get excited easily. As such, I love jumping into things full force, and I love following my passions wherever they may lead. Unfortunately, what that sometimes means is that a new passion might steer me away from a previous one (see: Zumba, knitting, and my unfinished book sequel…). This ended up with me feeling guilty about leaving unfinished business behind (even if just temporarily.)

Worse than the guilt of knowing I’ve left loose threads dangling, however, is the fear of what people might say about it, say about me. Blogging and working for Yelp has definitely thickened my skin, but I can still be hyper-sensitive to criticism and critique. I’m also a Monica Gellar-level people-pleaser.

But, c’mon, I’m 28 years old! I can’t live my life based on the fear of what others might say about me. And anyway, I’m growing up… kinda! While I’m pretty sure I’m just as passionate and excitable as ever, there are a lot of steady, firm, decidedly not-flaky parts of my life as well.

The average length of time I spent at all of my previous jobs was exactly 1 year. And then I found Yelp, and now I’m fast-approaching my 4-year anniversary! I’m a married lady with two fur-children, I’m older, and, hey, maybe even a tiny bit wiser.

I mentioned in a previous post that one of the things that I’ve been continuing to get more and more interested in is makeup. I’ve been getting more experimental and showcasing my looks on social media more often. I actually have received a few inquiries about whether I’d ever considered making tutorial videos, and the truth that I’ve actually considered it quite a bit. But, you know, the timing wasn’t right, or I wasn’t well-equipped, or it just seemed like too much work… and I didn’t want to start another thing that would just peter out and disappear.

Alas, all of those things might still be true, but as part of my “resolution” (I kind of hate New Year’s Resolutions, so I use that word with caution), I’m taking 2017 by the horns and testing the waters anyway! I went ahead and filmed my very first makeup tutorial video! It’s kind of a mess — evidently putting me in front of a camera makes me unable to pronounce words anymore, and the amount of times I uttered the words “uh,” “like,” and “anyway” made me want to punch myself.

That said, if you’re in any way interested in seeing what goes into an everyday glam look for me, you can check it out on my Youtube Channel:

And we’ll see where it goes from here! If I stick with it, awesome! And if not, hey, I’ll probably have chronicled at least a couple of really cool makeup looks, so that’s still cool.

Where to Start?

Wow, you know it’s been a minute since you’ve contributed to your blog when you have to remember the URL to get to the login page because it doesn’t pop up in your browser history’s autocomplete bar. To be honest, I don’t think I even cognitively realized just how long it had really been, you know? I mean, with the loss of my friend, and then my grandmother, blogging just didn’t seem “right” for a while. And then life just kept truckin’ along, and before you know it, here we are! December. Crazy.

So the reality is, I don’t even know where to begin with this post. It doesn’t really feel productive to spend a ton of time covering what’s been going on during last 6 months of my life because A) there’s not really all that much to report, B) if you follow me on social media in some form or another, you probably already know a lot of it, and C) I am too lazy to try to remember it all. But, it would feel weird not at least touching on where I’m at in, like, my life, sooooooo… I’ll try to make it brief.

Work: Yelp stuff is still going awesomely. I’m a little bit past 3.5 years at Yelp, and in July I was promoted to the role of Community Director. I am, it might go without saying, still loving my job, having a great time hosting events, working with local businesses, and championing my community. I also have the best #worksquad a girl could ask for. In August, I threw my 3rd huge Yelper Party event, and also attended CM Week at Yelp’s HQ in San Francisco for the 3rd year.

 

Family: Even though 2016 has been the year of some seriously crappy stuff, it will still be remembered as an amazing year in the grand scheme of my life, since it started off with me gettin’ hitched! Sean and my first year as newlyweds has been wonderful, and we haven’t threatened to divorce each other even once.

 

My nieces are still awesome, and my family and I are just as weirdly close as ever. In early November, my sister, my parents, and I went to New York and my dreams came true because I finally got to see HAMILTON (in short: I cried like six…ty times, it was NOT overhyped despite how much I built it up in my head, it was everything and more):

 

And later in November (lol), the whole fam (minus Sean, who had to work), went to Orlando for a big family vaycay. Which meant I got to return to the Happiest Place on Earth (for Gretchen), Harry Potter World, and also, the Happiest Place on Earth (for Other People), Disneyworld:

 

My trip back to Diagon Alley went really well with my latest tattoo, too:

And, finally, my dogs are still my wonderful, weird, bearded children:

Does that pretty much cover all the bases? I think so, right? Eh, if there’s anything I’m forgetting… I probably will never remember it. But! It should at least bring us up to the present, wherein I am actually trying to get back to updating this thing on the reg. But, for once, I’m not going to make any grand, sweeping declarations like, “I’m returning to my roots!” and “I’m getting back on the blog wagon!” because those will surely backfire and leave me eating my words. Instead, I’ll just be honest and say this:

My life has gotten pretty great. I have a loving husband, a home of my own, furchildren, an awesome family, a job that I am legitimately still obsessed with, and the freedom to continue to dye my hair any color I want with impunity (it even recently got featured in a Buzzfeed listicle, so, y’know, #lifegoalscomplete). I’m also, obviously, extremely humble.

But I must admit, if anything has been missing over the past, I dunno, few months… a year… or two… it’s that I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve basically stopped writing here on this blog, I’ve stopped writing creatively, and I think that I’ve been keeping myself busy enough that I haven’t had to think about it. It’s just so easy to put family, friends, work, holidays, trips, obsessively singing the soundtrack to Moana, binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and playing Final Fantasy XV nonstop for 3 straight days first. But I miss writing, I do, and I want to… stop… missing it. (Hmm, my skills may have already deteriorated.)

So, whether I start posting here regularly again, or whether I find the motivation to finally frickin’ finish the sequel to Terra (I know, I know…), or whether I just find myself coming back to my words a little more often, I’d like to write more. And I’m going to try to do just that.

And with that said, hopefully, you’ll see me back here in these parts very soon. Although, based on recent precedence, if I make it back for another post before… uh… April… I’ll already have outdone myself. I do love setting that bar loooooow. 😉