September Shift

I need a reset.

In a recent conversation with my husband, I realized that I’m overwhelmed by too many emotions lately. The emotional strain has gone beyond all of my typical coping mechanisms. Even worse is until very recently I haven’t been able to tap into my most effective coping mechanism – exercise – due to an injury in my lower back. I’m stress eating. My skin is breaking out. I’m not sleeping well. I’m… guys… I’m a wreck.

Now, I could launch into a list of all the chaotic aspects of my life right now, but that’s not going to help me. I don’t need an inventory of everything going on. I’m pretty sure that will just make me feel worse. What I need is to move forward and shift my perspective.

For the month of September, I’m challenging myself to shift my attitude and energy. My hope is this will help me create and reinforce healthy coping mechanisms so I won’t fall so epically far going forward.

These are some lofty goals, but I’m focused. I’m ready. Here we go:

  1. Make my bed every day
  2. Read 30 minutes every day
  3. Listen to 1 Podcast every day
  4. Complete 30 Day Plank Challenge
  5. 30 minutes of Exercise every day
  6. Gratitude Journal every day
  7. Share the Shift every day

Many of these things I already do but not consistently. However, I feel amazing when I make my bed every morning and listen to a podcast while I’m getting ready for the day. Finding 30 minutes a day to read and exercise really isn’t that hard. I spend way more time than that on Facebook and it’s usually reading things that aren’t helping my situation. So for the month of September, I’m making time for the things that serve me. It’s time for the September Shift.

I’d love for you to join me! I encourage you to create your own list of daily tasks that serve you and share your growing joy. Or you can just follow along with my progress!

I will be using #SeptemberShift on Instagram and Twitter. I will occasionally share posts on the Facebook page and on the blog. Follow along in a way that serves you!

Here’s to getting back to happy and balanced!

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7 Movies I Can Watch Repeatedly

I was thinking this week about the movies I own and how many of them I’ve watched more than one time. First, yes, I still buy dvds/Blu-rays and digital copies of movies. I like being able to download the movies to watch on planes or popping in a dvd without relying on my internet speeds to enjoy them.

So back to my collection of movies, I’ve seen most of the movies in my collection more than once, but admittedly, there are a number where I worry about how much more abuse the disc can take.  I mean, I once played Mean Girls on repeat for an entire weekend. Yes, an entire weekend. Why? Because it’s funny – that’s why. And this isn’t the only movie I do this with… here are my top 7 movies I can watch repeatedly (in no particular order):

  1. Mean Girls : This Tina Fey production about how horrible girls are to each other is comedy gold and so fetch. It is Lindsay Lohan at her best and one of the few movies where you can hate the villain and still want to be her friend.
  2. Pride and Prejudice : The 2005 version – because I love Kiera Knightley. The music is calming. The characters are like old friends. And this movie always reinspires me to improve my mind by extensive reading.
  3. Blue Crush : If you’ve read my post about taking surf lessons, you know how much I love this movie. It’s campy, cheesy, and a gem from my teen years.
  4. Disney’s Peter Pan : This tale of Neverland and adventure will always be one of my favorites. Everyone has their favorite Disney movie and this one is mine.
  5. Mona Lisa Smile : A sociological film about college women in the 1950’s could only be made powerful by this incredibly talented cast. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. This movie addresses the changing role of women in post-war America by following the paths numerous women choose in their personal, educational, and professional lives. Plus, the soundtrack is amaaaazing. Truly.
  6. Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi : Whenever I find myself in need of some galactic adventure, I turn to Episode VI. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, then … it was nice knowing you (I’m kidding). If you are a Star Wars fan, no, I don’t want to debate which movie is the best in the series. Calm down.
  7. Legally Blonde : If ever I need motivation – to workout, to clean the house, to be productive, generally to get through life – Elle Woods gives me a kick of girl power in the pants to take over the world. The character arc of this sparkly and pink woman is so ridiculous yet so inspiring. Talk about beating down impostor syndrome and rising to the challenge! And sometimes I just need reminding that all I require to get through life is passion, courage of conviction, and a strong sense of self. Sigh – thanks, Elle.

Christmas Countdown Cross Stitch Pillow

Okay – first, can I just say this is the cutest cross stitch?!

After I finished the Halloween Haunted House Cross Stitch, I moved onto this adorable Christmas Advent Calendar by CloudsFactory. I started this pattern in December 2015 and simply never got around to finishing it until now. At first, I thought I would stitch all the borders and attempt to finish a box a night, but it made more sense to dive in where I could and go for it.

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7 U.S. Places I Want to Visit

Happy Sunday! This morning, I’m listening to country music as I make my way through my Sunday List, contemplating where I want to travel to next. My wanderlust alternates between big international expeditions to local road trips. Recently, I’ve had the U.S. travel bug, feeling the urge to cross more off my homeland wish list. Below are my top 7 locations to visit in the good ol’ US of A. If you have any travel tips for the places below, please share! I’m always collecting recommendations!

  1. Portland, Oregon – Aside from wanting to see Oregon’s beauty in person, I’ve always wanted to visited Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore. Additionally, I recently came across DIY Bar, which is a craft studio and bar in one, aka my dream come true.
  2. Redwood National Park, California – Not only do I want to stand among the tallest trees on Earth, I would love to do tent camping and hiking through this beautiful natural landscape. Redwood National Park has always been on my to-see list strictly for the gorgeous dense forest views.
  3. Charleston, South Carolina – I honestly don’t feel like I need to explain this one. From the classic Southern architecture and cuisine to the beach accessibility, I feel like Charleston is a town I may not want to come home from.
  4. New York City, New York – Aside from the desire to live out my Eloise and Kevin McAllister dreams, New York has such a huge draw for me from a cultural perspective. I’d love to see the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. I want to go to a Broadway show and visit the MET. There’s so much I’ve read about in books or have seen in movies that I want to experience.
  5. Denver, Colorado – A number of my friends moved to Denver after college and loved the experience. Alternatively, my experience in the city has been limited to standing on the tarmac at Denver International Airport in 4*F weather. I’d love to get out and explore this growing city.
  6. Boston, Massachusetts – As an American History enthusiast, this should come as a surprise no one. However, I have never been to Boston. The Freedom Trail would be a dream come true for me to walk. I need to see the Old State House and Boston Common. I need to go back to where the heartbeat of the American Revolution started to pound.
  7. Maine – Yes, the whole state. I’m kidding – but I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures from Maine, I feel like I need to go, preferably in the fall. I would love to be there as the color of the leaves begin to change and the air is crisp. If you have a specific town that you recommend, please let me know.

Now please excuse me while I go look at plane ticket prices…

Vacation is in the Eye of the Beholder

The other night while discussing vacation plans with my mom, I had a revelation about my childhood. We were discussing my grandiose plans of my husband and I going on a big vacation, full of plane flights, hotel stays, and restaurant reservations. My husband and I are fairly adventurous and like to make our vacations “worth it”. This is what vacations are all about, right?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve strived to enjoy the types of vacations I always envied my peers taking. Growing up, my friends tended to go on glamorous family vacations – skiing at Mammoth Mountain, CA, summer trips to Hawaii, weeklong adventures to Walt Disney World. As a contrast, my family vacations consisted of either trips to see my grandparents or camping. Thrilling, right? Imagine me the first day back from summer break crammed at the lunch table as friends excitedly share tales of their summer adventures.

“Jen, what did you do?”

“We went camping. Again.”

Camping never seemed like a vacation. We generally set up camp in the same places. We always went with the same people. We spent our days caked in dirt, smelling of campfire. From my teenage perspective, there was nothing glamorous, posh, or exciting about going camping. Again.Read More »

Halloween Haunted House Cross Stitch Pillow

The year… 2014.
The project… Haunted House by Cloudsfactory.

One chilly fall evening, I started this adorable counted cross stitch pattern by Cloudsfactory. I separated out all my threads, cut my fabric, and set to work. I wanted to finish it by Halloween. A lofty but what seemed to be an obtainable goal.

I overshot the mark. Like… June 2017 “overshot the mark”.

Thankfully, it’s finally done and the finished product is awesome!

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7 Magazines I Read


Magazines are a life source for me. While I can truly find anything I need on Pinterest, there’s something about the carefully considered layouts, the editorial messages, and let’s be frank, the glossiness of the pages. There’s so much joy for me flipping through the pages, criticizing fashions I would never dream of wearing and getting lost in meaningful essays by contributors. I subscribe to eleven magazines – yes, eleven. I’m telling you, I’m a junky. But below are the seven magazines I read cover to cover every month.

  1. Vanity Fair – I live for Graydon Carter’s editorials in every month’s edition and the articles are thoughtful pieces of real journalism.
  2. Real Simple – This magazine has been on my must-read list since I first picked it up in 2004. If you need practical life tips and recipes, this is perfect for you.
  3. Women’s Health – For all of my fitness and health needs, I turn to Women’s Health.
  4. Martha Stewart Living – No one does it like Martha. I find to her magazine to be truly aspirational for me.
  5. Marie Claire – A girl likes her girly stuff. Enough said.
  6. Coastal Living – The number of quality articles about historical coastal topics and modern travel essays are worth every dollar of the subscription fee.
  7. HGTV – Holding this magazine is like taking every amazing show on the network and smashing it into one amazing periodical. Practical, realistic, and… beautiful. This magazine is beautiful.

Because I feel like I’m neglecting them, I also receive: Elle, Vogue, InStyle, and Family Circle.

Oh… and Entertainment Weekly. Ha!

Happy Reading!

Surf Lessons

A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about things we’ve always wanted to do but inexplicably never have. Somewhere on the list for her landed surf lessons. She’s lived in California almost her whole life and has never paddled out to ride a wave. Having taken lessons before but always down for a refresh, I suggested we do it. Living in San Diego without enjoying the ocean is kind of shameful.

When I first moved to San Diego almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to get back on a board. I previously took lessons in Maui on a family vacation in 2007. It was love at first ride. Not only was I living out my Blue Crush fantasy, there was nothing like feeling the board glide over the water below you. The ocean has always both intimidated and amazed me. The water is a powerful, beautiful thing, to be enjoyed and respected. When I was on a surfboard, I felt completely connected. This is the memory I would go back to when, many years later, a psychic would tell me that I have salt water in my veins. This I believe to be true.

In my present search to take surf lessons, every sign pointed to Surf Diva Surf School in La Jolla. No – seriously. Every single person I asked where to take surf lessons said, “You have to go to Surf Diva. They’re the best.” All online searches led me to their site. So, obviously, we had to give them a shot. My friend and I decided to get the best experience we needed solid, quality training time. We opted for the 2-Day Weekend Surf Clinic, selecting the women’s only time – which also happened to be mid-day with optimal weather. Let’s be honest, the water in California is cold. I needed as much sunshine as possible to not be whiny all day.

We were stoked. All registered for classes, now we just had to wait. Finally the weekend arrived and fighting off nerves of the unknown, we dove right in.Read More »

D23 Expo: Day 3

Day 3 at the D23 Expo can be summed up in one word: Waiting.

Without paying much attention to the clock, I arrived substantially early in the morning. So early that I was able to walk right into the convention center and was ushered downstairs to what felt like a basement to wait for the main doors to open. They even gave me a wristband to prove I was there early enough to be in the first group to enter the expo. How early was this? 5:30AM.
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