Anniversary Celebrations in Cancun

Anniversary Celebrations in Cancun

“How was your trip?!”

I have gotten that question so many times this week and I love that people care to hear about our trip. It’s hard to sum it all up in one simple response, so I just say “so SO good!”

 

But this is really how our trip was… all the fun details, what we would have done differently, and what we did right. Let the reminiscing begin.

Where we stayed

 

This was our second time in Cancun. This city holds a special place in our heart.

The first time was 2016 for our Honeymoon and we stayed at Le Blanc. We absolutely adored that resort, but they are currently closed for renovations. We thought it would be a good idea to at least stay within the same resort group, Palace Resorts. It was a good idea indeed.

We stayed at Sun Palace. An all-inclusive, adults only resort. Yes please! We love kids, but don’t exactly love kids on vacation. You know what I mean. Sun Palace is only about 15 minutes from the airport which was perfect! It’s not close to the downtown “going out” area, but we were fine with staying around the resort. Gotta take advantage of the all-inclusive food and drinks 🙂

Sun Palace is also a smaller resort, so it was a quick walk to anywhere. The gym was actually right around the corner from our room (insert slight guilt when we just walked past it instead of going in after day 2…). The spa, lobby bar, restaurants, pools, and beach were all just a few minutes from our room. Easy breezy.

 

Even though we were only on the second floor, the view from our room was gorgeous blue water and we could step out on our balcony to scope out the best spots on the beach or by the pool. I gotta admit, I miss looking over to my left and seeing water. Now when I look to the left from bed I just see a closet and dresser. Not quite the same. But I have these pictures to take me back! Take me back to infinity pools and ocean views.

What we drank + ate

 

It was vacation, so of course we did a lot of drinking and eating! I was pleasantly surprised by everything we had, but I definitely had some favorites. Eric got suckered into some shots, but made sure they were fruity and delicious. Frozen drinks were the go-to since it was so hot out, but we had to be careful to avoid brain freeze. Tropical vacation problems.

It was expected being in Mexico, but my favorite drink was the strawberry margarita. But we definitely learned who made it the best and when I ask for an extra shot to add. It had the perfect hint of lime and was so refreshing.

Sun Palace has four restaurants and a snack bar at the pool. The Alamo offers buffet style breakfast and lunch and turns into a sit down Mexican restaurant for dinner. Other dinner options are the Steak House, Oriental Lounge (Thai), and Trotto (Italian). 24 hour room service is also an option — the room service menu was actually really good! The snack bar was a favorite since we didn’t have to leave the pool area. Quesadillas with fresh guacamole and pico, yum! I’m pretty easy to please.

 

We ate at the Mexican restaurant, Alamo, for our last night since it was the only one we hadn’t tried. We were greeted with a beautiful anniversary surprise! A sweet couple we met at the pool that day helped arrange this to celebrate our anniversary. It was so kind and we enjoy the well wishes from the staff. I couldn’t stop smiling!

What we did

 

Since we stayed a certain number nights, we earned resort credits. This is pretty awesome although you do have to pay the 16% tax, so we didn’t use up all our credits. We picked out a few things that we both really wanted to do — we were both happy with our choices: couple’s massage, wine tasting, and Tulum.

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I loved these pretty tile floors at a shop in Tulum

The couple’s massage was an absolute must! I went into our trip knowing we would at least do that. We both were in need of a massage. It wasn’t the full on fancy experience we were used to at Le Blanc, but it was still nice and we enjoyed it. A great way to spend a morning before a fun day in the sun.

The wine tasting was much better than I anticipated! I’m always down for some wine, but this tasting was very educational, fun, and delicious! We tried 5 different Mexican wines and each had a hand selected food pairing ranging from salad to meat to dessert. We both learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it! Although we did make the mistake of eating RIGHT before we went. We weren’t informed of the food pairings and we didn’t want to attend a wine tasting on an empty stomach. Whoops. Next time it would be wise to ask if there will be food involved as well or if we should eat ahead of time.

 

Tulum was incredible! I have so much to say about it and grabbed many pictures that it may warrant its own post (if you are interested in that!) It was crazy to experience a place that used to be so vibrant and is now deserted. It took a few hours to get to Tulum – longer than normal since we had to pick up people from two other resorts. It was rainy the morning we went, but luckily the rain stopped right after we got off the bus. It ended up being pretty overcast which helped with the heat and possible sunburn.

We had a wonderful time learning about the culture and exploring the ruins. After a 6am wakeup call, bus ride, and adventure we sure were exhausted when we got back. We got back to our resort around 3pm which was great to still have a good part of our day to hang out. Food was not included on our tour, so the first stop when we got back to Sun Palace was the buffet and then we got along with our usual pool/beach routine.

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The ice cream man obviously couldn’t pass up a photo opp with an ice cream cone 😉 Good thing he was repping all his Vida Dulce gear!

What we thought

 

We loved our time in Cancun at Sun Palace! We have traveled internationally quite a few times together by now, so we learn how to do it better each time.

For our next time we definitely need to bring more cash. It’s so handy to have cash for tipping and paying for item, especially somewhere like Mexico or somewhere touristy that will accept American dollars. We did better with the cash this time, but were cutting it close. One of the benefits of being out of debt is the ability to give freely, so we want to bless the people that serve us on our travels!

A few things made this trip easier. The first being our Global Entry access. This is similar to TSA Precheck, but it’s for international travel. We have been background checked, so it makes customs easier. It also gives us TSA Precheck, which is such a treat! If you travel relatively often, I would highly recommend looking into Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Eric booked our airport to resort transportation ahead of time. This kept us from having to be haggled in the airport to find a ride and we knew already how much it would cost. There aren’t taxi meters, so there’s no way of knowing how much you will owe at the end. Many resorts may include a transport in their price or have some sort of deal. Be mindful of when you need to be picked up for your departure though because it could be 3-4 hours early, which may or may not be necessary.

Lastly, we maintained a relaxed routine. We didn’t go crazy and go way against our normal routine which did make it easier to be back home. We created a general routine and stuck to it every day we could. I’m someone that thrives with routine, so I enjoy that. Know what you enjoy and do what works best for you!

If you’re still with me, thank you — I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip! Do you have any adventures scheduled!? Although I’m not sure where it’ll be, I’m already looking forward to our next one. The travel bug always gets me.

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Second Anniversary — 7 Lessons

July 9, 2016.

Thinking about this day still brings happy tears to my eyes. I don’t think that will ever stop. At least I pray it never does. It was a stressful, nerve-wracking, beautiful day spent with our family and friends. It was everything I’ve dreamed of and more.

You prepare a great deal for the wedding. You spend hours upon hours researching, planning, preparing, and celebrating. All that time and attention for one big day. A special day, of course, but no matter how you shake it, it’s still only one day of your life. Marriage- that’s the real journey. That’s where we spend our time and attention now. It’s crazy to think another year has come and gone. A year ago I reflected on the lessons learned during our first year of marriage with this post.

I thought it would be fun to reflect again and share more lessons learned. When I was thinking about this post I thought I might have a lot of similar lessons, but that actually wasn’t the case. We are learning and growing each day as husband and wife. Another year brought new lessons ❤

#1: Prayer is powerful

This is a forever truth.

Pray for each other. Pray together. Pray for my ability to grow in my role as a wife. Ask trusted friends to pray when we’re struggling with a situation or decision. Walk individually with the Lord. I’ve noticed that as we both grow closer to the Lord, we grow closer together. We are more patient, more loving, and more generous.

I’ve witnessed and experienced the power of prayer in the most specific, beautiful ways. God is powerful. He’s bigger than any challenge or fear. He knows what we need before we ask. Let Him always remain at the center of our relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:12 was a part of our wedding ceremony. I just love the image of the 3 strands. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

#2: We can accomplish anything if we’re in agreement

We work best as a team. When we come together in agreement, we can accomplish big things. Last year we agreed to eliminate our debt and we did it faster than I even thought possible! We are living with a lot less stress and better communication skills because of this accomplished goal. It seemed overwhelming when we got started, but once we agreed this was something we were fighting for, there was hope.

It didn’t suddenly become easier, but it did give us strength and perseverance because it was something we both wanted and were working towards together. I now know that we can do anything we set our minds to. Cheesy, but it’s the truth!

#3: It’s not worth it to “win” the argument

Usually if I’m focused on “winning” an argument, then that means I’ve lost sight of our relationship. I’m too consumed with being right that I forget for a moment what’s really important: our marriage.

I think he will admit that I am right a lot of the time (okay probably not ha!), but it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Keep in mind, I’m still working on this. I do feel a lot better when I let go of trying to be right and shift my focus to how to work together. How can we come to an agreement? How can we resolve this and move forward? How can we do this better next time?

This has helped me actually be grateful when we disagree and argue because it was productive. It brought an issue to the surface and allowed us to work through it. We don’t usually fight about the same things over and over (how exhausting is that!?) and I think it’s largely because of this mindset. 

#4: Laugh together… Often

Have fun! I know a lot of adult things come up in marriage like paying bills, errands, responsibilities, etc but it doesn’t always have to be serious. I married him because he’s the person I wanted to enjoy life with for as long as I’m able.

“I think one reason for a successful marriage is laughter. I think laughter gets you through the rough moments in marriage.” -Bob Newhart

Life really is better with laughter. Laugh off the little things. Plan a fun date. Be silly! Small things that used to offend or annoy me, now I try to laugh. I’m not always good at this. I still get serious and upset at times, but if I take the moment to laugh and not immediately react, it’s a better outcome.

#5: Sacrifice is required from both of us

When I was preparing this post I asked Eric what lessons he learned this year. The first one that came to mind: sacrifice. So it’s obviously a big lesson learned by both of us! We knew going into marriage sacrifice would be a big part. Merging two lives, two dreams, two backgrounds, two ways of seeing the world. This can only mean sacrifice and compromise.

But I’m not sure we truly understood what sacrifice would look like. In our second year its meant many different things. Supporting each other as we both have gone after different career paths. Getting home to take care of our pup, Stella, while the other does something after work. Handling most of the chores and errands while the other works hard. Saving money instead of going out to eat or going out with friends. Sacrificing time together to make dreams and success happen!

It’s been a challenging season as Eric has opened up Vida Dulce and I’ve been busy with work. Sacrifice has been a theme that we continue to improve on. I’m learning each day how to put his needs above my own.

#6: I can serve and love him well even when we’re apart

As I touched on in #5, we spend a lot of time apart because of our schedules. I was struggling with how I could still serve him and make him feel loved. I was used to doing this face to face, but then those opportunities became limited.

I had to get creative sometimes, but I learned less time together is no excuse to not feel loved or connected. Serving him while apart can look like a “thinking of you” text, buying the extra things from the grocery store I know he loves, or taking care of the chores so he can do other things on his one day off.

At first when we were trying to navigate this new normal, I felt disconnected. But with some time and practice, I actually feel more connected now than I did when we had more time together. Intentionality makes a difference. This schedule forces us to be intentional if we want to make progress in our marriage — the silver lining.

#7: He doesn’t complete me

I know this sounds very unromantic, but stick with me. I am already whole. I am a whole person on my own with Jesus’ help. My husband complements me. He adds to my life. He helps fill in the gaps. He’s patient while I’m impulsive. He researches everything while I’d rather choose the first best thing I find. He’s able to fix anything while I’m a bit lost when it comes to most repairs.

We share many similar traits and values which shine all the brighter together. We believe in serving the Lord, the need for hard work, and the importance of family. We absolutely love traveling, adore yummy food (and dessert of course!), and taking family walks at the lake.

He is a large, wonderful part of my world, but my world does not revolve around him. And thank goodness because that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. When we rely on someone else to complete us or make us happy, we will always be disappointed. We are both happy and healthy within ourselves. I certainly seek out ways to serve him and bring him joy and he does the same for me, but it’s not the end all be all. I pray that we continue to grow separately so we can grow together.


Thank you for walking this journey with us! My hope is that our marriage can be a light to others. May this will be an encouragement to you and your current/future love. It’s not promised to be easy, but it is worth it!

What have you learned along the way in your marriage journey!? I’d love to read your wisdom!

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June Progress | July Goals 2018

June Progress | July Goals 2018

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

We’re halfway through the year! Can you believe it!? Whether you’ve been working through goals since January or you’re still waiting to get started, July 1st can be your January 1st. Reflect, write down your goals, and get after em! My Powersheets have made the biggest difference in making what matters happen.

June Progress

Monthly Goals

  • Budget Meeting: These are still going strong! We did overspend in June, but most of that was due to paying for our anniversary trip (worth it!) and lawn care. Homeownership isn’t all fun and games… Although we overspent, we kept open communication and were on the same page, so that’s a win.
  • Set up our wills Research will: This goal kept getting moved month to month and I realized it needed to be broken down a step further to make it happen. My husband and I only have maybe 1 day together, so setting up our will was unrealistic. Instead we did some research and figured out where we want to get the will done and what type of plan is best for us. Now that’s settled and it’ll be quicker to move forward and (hopefully) accomplish in July!
  • Complete + submit financial plan: Done! We’ve been working with a financial advisor to make sure our savings and retirement are on track! We have a ways to go, but while we’re young, we wanted to make sure we’re doing it all right from the start. We still need to review the plan provided based on our information, but the hard part of gathering everything is complete.
  • Friend date: This was fun! I had a pool date with a friend and was able to get together with some of my real estate pre-licensing classmates. With a busy schedule it’s easy to go weeks or even months without seeing friends, but being intentional and scheduling dates is so worth it and good for the soul!
  • Read book #6: I read a lot of personal development type books, but this month I mixed it up and read a “fun” book — Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know it’s an oldie, but it’s still a goodie and such a fun summer read! I love Elizabeth’s writing style and the book inspired me to have more adventure and self care in my life.
  • Anniversary plans: Plans are made! Our trip is all booked — leaving on our anniversary, July 9th! And his gifts have arrived. Year 2 is cotton which was tricky at first, but Etsy is wonderful and had tons of cute ideas. I’m excited to celebrate this milestone!
  • Positive report at dentist: I had a work meeting scheduled for about the same time, so my dentist appointment got moved to July as you’ll see in my goals below.
  • Support Eric with Vida Dulce: This has been so much fun and easy to do because I enjoy it! It takes a lot to run a business, especially at the beginning, so I’ve been trying to be as supportive as possible. I try to ask him every so often how I can support him better to make sure I’m not missing anything that would be helpful. It’s been an exciting journey so far and can’t wait to see how the shop continues to grow!

Weekly Goals

  • Rest + care: The rest wasn’t 100% because I took a few 6am Pure Barre classes and I’m still trying to get into a good sleeping routine for waking up early. BUT I’m making progress. I was more intentional overall about sticking to an earlier bedtime so the rest will happen.
  • Spend time well: I feel like good progress was made here. I’m working on using downtime first for most important activities like meditation or my devotional and then doing mindless activities like scrolling or watching YouTube videos once those are done. I can do both, I just have to make sure I’m prioritizing the most important so they don’t get shoved off my plate by the other things.
  • Blog post: I did these weekly! I’m thinking about maybe adding a 2nd post for each week since I’m in a good flow — what do you think? Is there anything special you’d love to see on Flourish with Rach? I’d love to hear your feedback!
  • Celebrate others: This month I realized how special it is to be intentional about celebrating others! That could be big things like a wedding or new job or little things like getting through a tough day! As I talked about in my June Round Up, celebrating others is such a fun way to cultivate relationships.

Daily Goals

  • Bible Plan — Achieved 30/30 days
  • Write the Word — Achieved 28/30 days
  • Pure Barre — Achieved 23/30 days
  • Serve Eric — Achieved 30/30 days

Wow, I’m proud of this progress! I’ve had these 4 goals as my daily goals for a few months now and I think that’s been really beneficial. Each day I know my intentions — faith, wellness, and marriage. If I get those things done, then it’s a good day and I’m not so worried if nothing else happens. Don’t be afraid to keep the same goals month after month. It can take time to cultivate good habits and it’s definitely worth the focus. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

July Goals

Monthly Goals

  • Celebrate 2nd wedding anniversary
  • Budget communcation
  • Set up wills with LegalZoom
  • Friend date
  • Read book #7
  • Positive report at dentist
  • Refresh blog branding

Weekly Goals

  • Use time intentionally
  • Blog post
  • Encourage a friend
  • Cultivate routines
  • Declutter a space
  • Mindful spending

Daily Goals

  • Bible plan
  • Write the Word
  • Move body
  • Love Eric well

I’m thrilled about working towards these goals! We will be in Cancun, Mexico from July 9-16 to celebrate our anniversary, so I’m going to do my best! I’ve giving myself grace for however that turns out and I’m going to make sure I savor those moments and memories! ❤ What are you working towards in July!? Don’t forget to let me know what types of posts you want to see here — I do this for YOU! You will flourish today, darling! ❤

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June 2018 Round Up

June 2018 Round Up

Wow, 6 months of 2018 complete. How have you been using your year so far!? These round up posts are so fun for me to put together to reflect and summarize my month. Here we go!

3 things I’m excited about

  1. Our second wedding anniversary and our trip! I can’t believe it’s almost been 2 years since we got married! July 9th, 2016 was such a special day because my best friend and I committed forever to each other in the presence of so many family and friends. Marriage is hard, but it’s also such a gift. In honor of our anniversary, I’ll be dedicating an entire post to marriage, so keep an eye out if that interests you!
  2. 100th Pure Barre class! I attended Pure Barre years ago right after I graduated from college, but had a hard time coordinating the class times with my schedule then. I started up again in February and it’s been amazing! I’m getting stronger, mentally and physically, with every class. It’s been the greatest accountability and community. Not to mention my favorite Mexican restaurant is within walking distance and there’s a great nail place two doors down 😉 It’s so challenging, but also one of my favorite things! I can’t say enough good things about the instructors and the studio in general. If you’ve never tried Pure Barre, I suggest checking it out!
  3. Completing the Certified Sales Professional course! I spent two days learning and growing as a real estate professional in the new construction world and it was fabulous! It’s been almost a year since I got my real estate license and I’m all done with my post licensing as of last December, but that doesn’t mean the learning stops. I love that I’m in a field where I can continue to grow and use my strengths to flourish. Plus I actually enjoy class… most of the time. You could call me a nerd 🙂

Quote I’ve been meditating on

“Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.” -E. James Rohn

We’re in a season of excitement and pursuing bigger things! That’s wonderful, but that can also make it easy to lose sight of what we currently have. We are beyond blessed, but those blessings can be missed if we’re only focusing on what’s next or around the corner. I’m learning more and more about contentment. Being happy with what I have now.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want more or better, but it means I don’t need more or better to be happy. That difference is huge. When happiness is always to be found in the next or the more or the better, it will never be achieved. There is always something else that will be next, more, or better. And then happiness will never be where you are. Hold onto happiness with one hand and reach for the next good thing with the other.

Who or what I’m adoring

The Linden Manor — I got to experience the first wedding at this gorgeous venue and see a dream come to life! My good friend, Kelly, and her aunt started up this amazing venue space in Hillsborough, North Carolina. It’s actually her aunt’s home. Can you imagine actually living there!? Stunning home, luxurious pool, and lots of great space on the property for the wedding of your dreams!

I remember when this venue was just a hope and a thought. I helped with one of the first consultation appointments. I’ve prayed for this friend and venue. It was a true honor to be a part of the first BIG day! If it was any indication of the future, I am sure there are many, many more to come! If you’re a bride or know a bride seeking an affordable outdoor wedding space that doesn’t sacrifice beauty, I highly recommend The Linden Manor. The owners are kind, friendly, and professional, plus you may even see me helping behind the scenes! Here’s just a few of my favorite pics from the (hot!) day

Favorite memory from June

Harrison and Jasmine’s wedding and a weekend away in Wilmington was definitely a favorite memory. We had an absolute blast in Wilmington! I had forgotten how close the beach was to where we live and then was kicking myself for not going more often. It was a scorcher weekend, but the heat was worth it. The sweet newlyweds and the wedding were gorgeous! It’s a joy to witness love and welcome friends into the “married club.”

We decided to stay for two nights which was the best decision! The day after the wedding we had a whole day out on the beach. Plus what would a trip to Wilmington be without Britts Donuts!? Eric was in heaven and I certainly ate my fair share. With as busy as we are and as limited as our time together is right now, a weekend away was much needed. Happy marriage to the newest Mr and Mrs!

A good lesson I learned

It’s important to take the time to celebrate others.

We all want to be celebrated, right? We want to be acknowledged for the good work we’re doing and we want our milestones to be noticed. I’m learning this is such a wonderful way to be there for the people in my life and cultivate deeper connections. I love being a part of those moments and I know my people appreciate the support. Time is a gift. If I can’t be there in person, I try to do the next best thing with a text, phone call, or card to let them know I’m thinking about them and celebrating from afar.

Make it a goal to celebrate at least one person in your life each month. My guess is once you get started and seek out those opportunities, you’ll be celebrating loved ones left and right. Moments both big and small deserve to be celebrated, so don’t feel the need to put any limits on it!

In July…

I’m saying no to: time wasters.

I’m saying yes to: waking up early.

Cheers to a safe, happy summer with lots of celebrations! I’ll see you here next week ❤

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15 simple wellness habits to start today

15 simple wellness habits to start today

This post contains an affiliate link. See affiliate disclaimer here.

I have been on a health journey for about 3 years now. It all started after I graduated from college and realized I put on the “freshman 15” (or so…) a bit later than most. What started as a weight-loss goal has become a complete wellness goal.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to lose any weight, but what really matters to me now is the big picture. I’ve broken up with the scale because how I feel, how I look, and how I live are more important to me than a number. That number alone does not measure my value, worth, or health. It simply provides a numerical value of my gravitational pull.

Wellness is the focus. I’ve tried different tips and tricks and I’ve learned some things along the way that I’m sharing with you. Wellness is more than just the physical body, it’s also mind and soul. Treat your whole self well with these habits.

  1. Move
    Get steps in whenever you can! I love walking while doing other activities like listening to a podcast or scrolling social media — I’m not ashamed to say I will walk circles in my house to do this. You do what you gotta do! Every Sunday I schedule my Pure Barre workouts for the week and treat them like an important meeting I cannot miss.Exercise is good for your body, mind, and soul! It helps relieve stress, helps with creativity, releases endorphins, and many other benefits that we probably all know. Find something you enjoy and be consistent. Even a 5 minute walk is better than nothing if that’s where you’re starting from. Challenge yourself as you get stronger to add time or explore other areas of fitness.
  2. Drink lots of water
    You are mostly made of water, so you can imagine your body desperately needs it! It’s been recommended for people to drink at least half their body weight in oz of water a day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75oz of water. I used to be terrible at remembering to drink water, but once I started keeping a water bottle with me at all times, that got easier. I also love adding flavor to my water with lemon, fruit, or safe essential oils (be sure to use a glass or stainless steel cup with citrus or oils since they can erode plastic).Like exercise, water has so many benefits! Water can help you feel energized, is great for your skin and insides, and it reduces the empty calories you’re consuming from other drinks like juices and sodas. Track your water consumption — what’s measured is improved.
  3. Use your lunch break wisely
    I don’t get a lunch break in my current job (real estate life), but this was a great hack I used at my old desk job. Instead of using my lunch break to eat, I would bring my food, eat at my desk, and then use my lunch break however I needed to.Sometimes this was a walk around the parking lot, a grocery run (we had a community refrigerator I could put my food in until it was time to go home), call my mom, or run errands. Life can be so hectic and doing this gave back 5 hours in my week! That’s huge! Go out to lunch once in a while, but be more intentional about it.
  4. Make most of your meals homemade
    I touched on this in #3, but I highly recommend making most of your meals at home instead of eating out. This will save you time, money, and be good for your body. Every week I meal plan based on what food we have on hand, make my grocery list, go shopping, and then meal prep. I might meal prep whole meals or just ingredients depending on what the plan is for the week.This cuts down greatly on our spending. It also cuts down on wasted time because I’m time blocking this important activity instead of using extra time each day. You have complete control over the food your choosing, so be empowered to choose what’s going to make you feel your best!
  5. Nourish your body
    While you’re making those food choices, try to choose whole foods over processed foods. I learned a lot about this when I did my first round of Whole 30 (you can read about that here).Your body was created to consume whole foods, so that’s going to feel a lot better in your diet than the packaged and processed stuff you find in the grocery aisles. I’m not saying you need to cut it out completely (that would be ideal, but probably isn’t realistic), but you can make smarter choices. Choose foods with short ingredient lists and with ingredients you recognize. Sneak in as many greens as you can — my favorite way to do this is with a smoothie or protein shake! I also may add sautéed spinach with my eggs or opt for a hefty salad instead of a sandwich.
  6. Go to bed earlier
    Going to bed earlier leads to waking up earlier which leads to having more productive time! We train our bodies to go to sleep and wake up at certain times, so make it work for you. I had gotten into a bad habit of waking up 30 minutes before I had to leave for work, which made me feel frazzled and already behind for my day.Lately I’ve been doing some 6am Pure Barre classes — it’s hard to wake up that early, but I absolutely love the extra time it gives me! I can make a yummy, hot breakfast, journal, do my devotion, walk our dog, and get ready. It’s glorious! This will be challenging, especially the first few days, but if you stick with it your body will adjust. Your head space will be greatly improved knowing you’ve already accomplished something important right away!
  7. Shut down devices at least 1 hour before bed
    I’m still working on this, but when I do it, I sleep so much better! The blue light your screens emit negatively affect your sleep because it stimulates your brain. You’re probably scrolling social media which is stimulating all other sorts of thoughts.An active mind is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to fall asleep. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve laid in bed restless because I couldn’t get my mind to be quiet. The next two tips help, but shutting down the devices is huge!
  8. Meditate
    Having a mindfulness practice can help calm an active mind. Meditation also helps reduce stress and makes you more aware of your internal and external world. I enjoy guided mediation — I’ve been using and loving the app Simple Habit. Many of the meditations are 5 minutes which is great for busy people who think they’re “too busy” to take a moment and breathe, myself included.The beautiful thing: there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Many people use guided meditations, especially as they’re getting started.  Maybe you just want to sit in nature and be still, that works too!
  9. Write
    I am a big fan of journaling and to-do lists. Both activities help me get what’s in my mind down on paper so I can let it go. I’ve been using a Write the Word journal as a part of my quiet time to reflect on scripture and write about what’s on my heart. For to-do lists, pen and paper is always good or you can utilize the tools on your phone.I encourage you to brain dump regularly, especially if you’re in a crazy busy season of life. A “brain dump” is where you write down anything on your mind. It’s essentially a stream of consciousness writing. Write down anything from to-do list items, appointments, ideas — anything that’s floating around your head. You will feel immediately lighter because you no longer have to carry these things around.
  10. Stick to a good skin care routine
    Your skin tells a lot about your health and it’s often what makes a first impression. When we meet someone, we see their face — their eyes, their smile, their skin. I’m insecure about my skin at times because I’ve struggled with acne and redness, but my skin care routine helps me overcome that. When I’m consistent with it, my skin usually behaves.This includes sunscreen! Practice safe skin care by protecting your skin from the sun. The sun isn’t necessarily the enemy, but prolonged exposure does have negative effects on the health of our skin. I desperately wanted tan skin as I was growing up (lets be real, I still do…), but I want healthy skin more. There are great sunless tan options out there, so I’ll go that route instead. I highly recommend an annual visit to the dermatologist to make sure all is well. Take care of your body’s largest organ: your skin.
  11. Unplug from social media
    You’ve probably heard this one a million times — have you done it? We’re all addicted to our phones (thanks, notifications, for that hit of dopamine), but it’s wonderful to put them down.Phone down, eyes up. Take a break from your phone and actually enjoy what’s going on around you. I promise you, the world will keep spinning and you really won’t miss that much!
  12. Do/plan something you enjoy
    Have you ever found yourself stuck in the rut of work, sleep, repeat? We get so busy with things that have to do that we miss the things we enjoy. We may not be able to fill our entire day with fun things because obviously things still need to get done, but we should make it a point to plan fun things here and there. Date night with your significant other, coffee with your sister, beach trip with your family, massage for yourself.It doesn’t have to involve spending money, so don’t let that be an excuse. It could be a cup of tea and a good book, a walk around the lake, or simply enjoying your dinner in your backyard on a nice evening. It’s always exciting to have fun plans to look forward to and it makes the hard work worth it. This will energize your spirit and break up the rut routine.
  13. Serve others
    We were created to live in community and a part of community is serving the other members. There are many different ways to serve and whether it’s big or small, it’ll make an impact on the person you’re serving and on yourself. Take a meal over to your neighbor whose child is sick, sign up to serve with a local organization, get plugged in with your church. Where are you gifted and how can you use those gifts to make a difference?It’s easy to make the excuse about how you’re too busy or don’t know where to start, so don’t be afraid to start small right where you are. Serve your family. Serve your coworkers. Serve your neighbors. We can be a blessing to the people in our lives — that is such a gift.

     

  14. Smile
    I told you these were simple habits, right? Smile at others and even smile when you’re alone. It’s been shown that smiling actually makes us happier and it’s contagious. Happiness is certainly something that should be spread! Plus it’s free and it takes no extra time.You never know how you could turn someone’s day around! It’s a quick way to positively impact your wellness and the wellness of someone else ❤
  15. Declutter regularly
    Decluttering helps us learn how to live and be happy with less. It also shows us how much extra stuff we need that we could do without. Every item you own adds more to your to-do list because these are things you need to clean, maintain, and find a spot for. Every item becomes a decision and those decisions add up to time and mental energy. In the words of Emily Ley, only keep the items that are Best, Favorite, Necessary. You really don’t need 5 cutting boards and 4 of the same black t-shirt. When it comes down to it, you reach for your favorite and maybe you want a backup, so why hold on to the others?There are different ways to get this done, but I like to go room by room emptying out everything and then putting it back one by one IF it meets the mentioned BFN Rule. Create keep, sell, donate, trash piles so you can sort your items. Be ruthless. Another bonus of decluttering: you know exactly what you have. This will keep you from buying duplicate or similar items. You may even choose to introduce the “one in, one out” rule. Nothing new will come in without letting go of something else. Decluttering is a beautiful thing!

Have you cultivated healthy habits in your life? I’d love to hear yours — leave them in the comments below. We can learn a lot from each other and I’m always looking for ways to up-level my routine and habits!

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How to plan your productive week

How to plan your productive week

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

There is such joy for me in the space between rest and productivity. My favorite day is one that combines both — a restful pace while still crossing things off my to-do list and making progress. That may not sound enjoyable to everyone, but I have a hard time with plain old rest. It’s something I’m working on. BUT I do believe there’s a time and place for productivity. That’s what allows you the time and space for the rest, right? Work hard, play (or rest) hard.

As someone who enjoys productivity, I thought it would be helpful to break down how I plan my week to optimize my time and energy. Of course, this is going to mean being intentional. Intentionality is going to make all the difference in taking you from busy to purposeful.

I plan out a week at a time. A month is too much to think about and things can change in the day-to-day that might affect my overall plan. A day at a time isn’t enough because I don’t want to overlook something by planning so short-sighted. So a week it is! Of course, do what works best for you! If you’re just starting out, try the weekly method with my tips and adjust as needed!

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Use a planner

Take your pick: paper or digital. Having somewhere to jot everything down is not only going to help keep everything straight, but it’s going to save you from a lot of headaches. I have been using a planner since middle school and it’s obviously evolved quite a bit since then. For 2018 I’ve been using a daily Simplified Planner and I’m in love!

If I don’t write things down, it becomes overwhelming and I’m likely overstretched because I said yes to everything without really noticing. That isn’t where you want to live. If you take nothing else from this, my biggest tip is to get all of that stuff you have to remember out of your head. Now that you have your planner, lets get to planning!

First: list out what’s already scheduled

meetings, appointments, must do’s for certain days, etc.

My Pure Barre classes actually fall into this category too since I book all my classes for the week on Sunday nights. I work in real estate and the community I’m in may vary depending on the day, so that’s the first thing I list for each day. I will also make a note of anything that’s already been determined such as a sales meeting, professional development class, dentist appointment, etc.

While I’m adding these items to the respective days, I make note of the time the commitment begins if it’s specific. This is helpful for 2 reasons: 1) so I know when I’m expected to be somewhere and 2) so I can create buffer time as we’ll discuss soon. I’ll schedule everything else around these items because I’ve already made the commitment.

Second: schedule in what should get done

errands, to do’s, workout, self-care, etc.

These are items that may or may not be tied to a specific day, but should get done during the week. Things like grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, scheduling a haircut, etc. Since I’ve already written down the commitments and times, I can add these in where there’s open time. Bonus, if I can add these to a trip I’m already scheduled to make, such as stopping by the bank on my way to work since it’s close by. This will save time, gas, and get those items taken care of!

Third: schedule in what you would like to do

dinner dates, fun stuff, house projects, etc. 

These are the extras! It’s great to build fun things into your week or even just things I’ve been wanting to do. The commitments are scheduled, the to-do type important items are scheduled. Now I can see the space to use however else I want! Maybe a girls night to a new restaurant downtown. Maybe working on that project around the house I’ve been thinking about for a while. Make time for the things that light you up and bring you joy! When we aren’t intentional with our schedules, these things are usually the first to go, but intentionality gives them room. What a benefit of planning!

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Remember, you don’t have to do it all! Things can always be moved to the next week or be dropped completely. Maybe it can be outsourced or it’s just no longer important. You can keep a running list for things that fall here if you’re worried about needing to take care of it for later.

We’re talking about filling in our week based on priorities, but that doesn’t mean every single minute needs to be filled. You can (and probably should) leave white space in your week. Time that isn’t necessarily devoted to anything. Call it planned spontaneity, but this will give you the space to add in something else or just completely rest. We don’t want to jam pack our weeks on the regular because that only leads to burn out. Productivity and joy cannot exist long-term when we’re operating from a burnt out place. You know what they say about pouring from an empty cup…

With that being said, don’t be afraid to leave time buffers. In busy seasons, especially when I was planning our wedding and had a lot on my plate, I would plan things back to back to back. This set me up for failure because if one thing ran over time or got started late, everything else got messed up too. That would only lead to more stress and then more things I had to add to my list to reschedule and coordinate. Yuck!

I hate being late to things, but I often was because I wouldn’t allow enough time. Now I’m sure to leave a reasonable gap between items and allow time for travel. I find it’s usually better to overestimate how much time I’ll need. Sometimes that means I’ll be early to things, which is great, but may feel like a waste of time depending on how early I am. I always try to keep something productive with me like a book and my planner so I have the opportunity to read and maybe even plan.

Busyness does not equal success, worth, or value. Productivity means intentionally taking care of what’s important to you. Busy is just adding a bunch of stuff to your plate and trying to carry it all. We don’t need that. Your time, energy, and peace are worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that!

What is one thing you’re going to be sure to plan for next week?

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May Progress | June Goals 2018

May Progress | June Goals 2018

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

May felt like a blink and a year all at the same time. I’m so grateful for my Powersheets especially in months like that to keep me focused on what matters most. There was a lot of celebration and good goals grew.

May Progress

Monthly Goals

  • Vida Dulce Opening: Vida Dulce officially opened May 2nd and it was a success! Luckily it worked out with my schedule that I was off work, so I was able to help. It was amazing to see this dream and hard work come to life. Finally we were able to serve customers and impact their days for the better! I mean who doesn’t love a treat!? It’s been a blessing and success since opening day and I’m so excited to see what’s to come!
  • Celebrate Sarah Jane’s graduation: Still can’t believe my baby sister is graduated from undergrad! It was fun to visit Boone for the weekend and celebrate both graduation and Mother’s Day. A perfect time spent with family ❤
  • Budget meeting: Check! Our budget meetings have gotten much simpler since we’ve been doing it for a while, but it’s still good for us to check in. We can make sure we’re on the same page with upcoming spending and adjust our budget. Communication at its finest!
  • Set up our wills: Whoops, moving it again to the next month.
  • Complete Financial Plan: Progress was made here, but we didn’t complete it. Moving it forward to June.
  • Friend date: I’m so glad I made this a goal. Life is hectic and most days the only people I see are Eric, customers at work, and Stella (okay, she’s a dog, but still). It’s important to me that I still make time for friends and fun, especially when life is crazy. Things will probably always be a bit crazy, so I want to be sure I’m cultivating the important relationships.
  • Read book #5: I read Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. It’s about the crazy love of God. I love Francis Chan’s teachings, so I enjoyed it. It was honest, convicting, and eye opening.

Weekly Goals

  • Rest + Care: I’m getting much better at this. I’m being more intentional about my sleep (although I definitely have room for improvement) and allowing myself the time and space to rest.
  • Be a light: I want to be the person that lifts others up. I’m focusing more on encouraging others, praying for them, speaking life into their days. Even with strangers, I’m smiling instead of looking away, holding the door, and helping when I can. It’s small actions, but we never know how those actions will impact someone.
  • Spend time wisely: I fell short here, but I’m getting better. There are many pockets in my day that I could spend more wisely. The big ones that come to mind are morning before work and evening right before bed. I’m working on creating an improved morning and evening routine, but it’s challenging to get out of some bad habits (read: scrolling too much on my phone).
  • Blog post: I missed one week, but that’s okay! Progress over perfection, right. Sometimes it’s best to let something go and for that week, it was a blog post. I enjoy writing, but I don’t ever want it to feel like a chore. Is there something you want to read about from me? Let me know in the comments!

Daily Goals

  • Bible Plan — Achieved 31/31 days
  • Write the Word — Achieved 24/31 days
  • Serve Eric — Achieved 26/31 days
  • Pure Barre — Achieved 13/29 days

Good goals grew in May! I love these daily goals because they touch on the most important areas of my life: faith, marriage, wellness. There are many more things I do in the day, but if I can do my best on these, then I feel whole. During the month, I felt bad about how many Pure Barre classes I missed, but when I look at the big picture I see the progress I made. This can be true for any goal I set. When I’m too close to it, I can become discouraged when I’m now 100%. But when I back up, I can see the steps that are being taken.

June Goals

Monthly Goals

  • Budget Meeting
  • Set up our wills
  • Complete + submit financial plan
  • Friend date
  • Read book #6
  • Anniversary plans
  • Positive report at dentist
  • Support Eric with Vida Dulce

Weekly Goals

  • Rest + care
  • Spend time well
  • Blog post
  • Celebrate others

Daily Goals

  • Bible Plan
  • Write the Word
  • Pure Barre
  • Serve Eric

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because we always need the reminder: Little by little adds up! You aren’t expected to be perfect. You aren’t expected to always get it right. You are allowed to change your mind and pivot your path. Your heart and your gut are good guides. Trust yourself! What goals are you growing this month? 

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