making the most of your routine

This piece about morning routines in Lenny cracked me up this week.

The writer laughs at how hungry we are to improve. If I start my day just right or maximize my downtime, I can squeeze in just a liiiiiiiiiiittle more. Click bait lures us in with promises of our most productive year ever! more time for creative fun! healthy eating made easy!

But really, nothing like that is easy. And moreover, it’s not a competition.

Getting up early to exercise is rough. So is being healthy. Same goes for getting more work done-you have to do more work. There’s no simple secret to success.

Find out what works for you, then get comfortable saying no to things that don’t work for you.

If you’re not a morning person, why fight it? I’m not good at binge watching TV, it’s not for me. I know that seems inconsequential, but sometimes I feel left out.  I have to remember that I don’t need to keep up with every show ever. Instead, I enjoy the ones I like and quit watching ones that become a chore. No one is paying me to finish season two of Narcos, (if they were I would suck it up and watch it).

Being healthy and hygienic is important, but there are a million ways to do both. For example, you can brush your teeth or use mouthwash to get rid of germs and have minty fresh breath that your coworkers appreciate. You can run 15 miles a week or walk to work or you can go to zumba.

Do your thing.

Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck every day. That’s not me and it’s okay. Taylor Swift goes to Soul Cycle. I do not. Pierce your eyebrow and get knuckle tattoos! I’ll pass. The best part is I don’t have to do that stuff. Turtlenecks, Soul Cycle and knuck tats don’t hurt anyone. They don’t discount anyone’s person, they are not there to make me feel unkempt, out of shape or uncool. Instead of learning to love something, I’m opting out and not feeling guilty.

I see people doing incredible things and sometimes I have to remember that it’s not a competition. Some of my friends run marathons and half marathons. They love the training and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line. I’m not great at running and 13+ miles doesn’t sound fun. That said, I can still celebrate those who love it. When friends talk about their mileage, I can congratulate and encourage instead of interjecting how I don’t like running more than 3 miles. No one is challenging me to race.

I love to read, but it’s ok if you don’t. I love to travel, but I get it if it stresses you out and you need a routine. I want to listen to Lemonade while I’m in the shower, it’s ok if you prefer 1989.

As my wise friend Amy says…

sanibel biker chicks

This past weekend Julie, my mom and I met in Ft. Meyers for some sunshine and to check out Sanibel Island. My mom heard it had incredible seashells and bike rentals; it didn’t disappoint.

We checked out Ft. Meyers Beach on Thursday evening where we had DQ Blizzards for dinner. Julie and my mom are some of the only other people that share my belief that ice cream is an acceptable meal.

All day on Friday we rented bikes and cruised Sanibel Island. Luckily, the island is flat and covered in paths. We still think we put in around 25 miles between 9am and 5pm. We saw alligators (and some birds, snore) at Ding Darling Conservation area, then checked out the beach. The rest of the afternoon we picked out our vacation homes and then bopped in and out of little shops along the main drag. It’s a cute place with an adorable library and Whitney’s Bait Shop.

Just in time for sunset, we drove to Captiva Island to catch a drink on the beach at the Mucky Duck. Julie, our resident dolphin spotter saw some jumping. It was more beautiful than a Lisa Frank trapper keeper.

On Saturday before leaving we visited The Edison and Ford Winter Estates. They displayed Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s next door neighbor vacation homes, discussed their accomplishments, family and genius. The grounds were beautifully kept and on a breezy March day, it made you really want a vacation home in Ft. Meyers.

For the record, we did eat some seafood. Lil’ video to come.

happy international women’s day

I didn’t know what I wanted to do

but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.

-Diane Von Furstenberg

 

I attended our company’s annual women’s conference and feel refreshed from being surrounded by a room full of people who care. Today we celebrate women.

Women who remember birthdays, anniversaries and accomplishments

Women who bring in cookies and organize the office Christmas party

Women who have been told no, but still show up

Women who are told they “look like interns” even though they’ve worked here for years

Women who organize vacations and trips to the movies

Women who share community through group messages

Women who celebrate with you, even when they don’t benefit directly

Women who aren’t trusted because they are too focused, driven

Women who plan meals and pack snacks

Women who read ahead and sit in the front row

Women who are called b*tches for getting things done

Women who are constantly asked when they are going to get married and how soon are kids coming

Women who hear “I’ll need to talk to your manager” before even opening their mouths

Women who are called names online for being too pretty or not pretty enough

Women who wear what they want no matter what magazines say flatters their “body type”

Women who shout out the incredible women around them

civility, esp at FedEx

My company hosted our annual rally on Monday to celebrate our accomplishments and kick off another year. We heard from our execs in a couple of TED talk-like speeches. They poured us another serving of the kool aid, then fed us from food trucks. Most of it we’ve heard before over and over: teamwork, improvement, service, so on and on. One of the new topics our CEO addressed for the first time was civility. He wanted our brand to shine as a beacon of openness and respect.

That seems crushingly obvious. Of course we should be civil. Our parents taught us that from day one. It makes me a little sad that we have to say that out loud. Don’t forget to be civil!  Treat people with respect and be polite. Duh.

At times like these, I guess there aren’t enough reminders. I’m proud to be part of a company that not only preaches, but our leaders at the very top practice it too.

After getting a pulled pork grilled cheese and my complimentary beer, I headed to the FedEx store to send my sister something. The guy two in front of my threw a FIT at the counter. If you don’t think adults can lose their cool in front of other adults in public, well you didn’t have my college roommate freshman year. The rest of us in the store shared glances, that said, I can’t believe he’s acting like that. The customer yelled at the guy working the register and left him with some choice words before stomping off. As he left the store, I caught sight of his polo. Turns out we work together and there’s a 80% chance he just came from a talk about civility too.

When I got to the register, I apologized for the jerk’s behavior. The guy working shrugged it off and then asked if I was going to want the corporate discount too. I said yes and pulled out my badge. He said, “We only offer it until 7pm, that’s why that guy was mad.”

I nodded and asked him to price it without the discount, just to see. If it was substantial, I’d just come back in the morning. It was, so I asked what time they opened. He looked at me and said he’d honor the discount. It was clearly my first time and I didn’t know (not true and true).

I thanked him 15 times and he wrote his name and employee number on the receipt next to the feedback line. You better believe I called to let FedEx know that he handled an irate customer professionally and he was extra nice to me.

Working with customers all day can be draining, especially after I let a rotten apple or two get under my skin. It’s funny how the next person to treat me like a human I want to bend over backwards to please.

Karma isn’t fool proof, but sometimes she pays out. Being a civil adult, even when you don’t get exactly what you want, should be an expectation. That guy was not Beyonce, no one is on his payroll to honor old coupons or make exceptions to the rules. I don’t think Beyonce would do that either, it’s bad for the brand.

life flashlights

I saw this photo on Instagram this week.

Immediately, I awwed. It made me think, hey, I have a lot of flashlights over here too. Then one of the bloggers I follow shared it and her own flashlights.

So here I am, doing the same. Six things that bring light to my life these days. Some little things that show me the way exactly when I need it.

1. The yoga groupon I bought on Black Friday. I only have three classes left, so I don’t know what I’ll do after that. My body gets better and stronger with each practice.

2. In college, I was a planner girl. I’ve graduated. Now I live and die by my GoogleCal. There’s a lot of events and trips and weekends in my future. Sometimes that stresses me out, but then I open the GCal and it’s laid out in front of me. My heart stops beating so fast when I can physically see it. As my plans come together, I can focus on all the fun coming down the pipes.

3. Last week I finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Still thinking about the haunting characters.

4. Our leaders at work catered fried chicken for lunch on Wednesday. It was the talk of the town all week. Nothing lifts spirits like friend chicken, trust.

5. Josh and I went on a long walk on Monday after work. It was so nice out and we talked about politics and how we fit into the big picture. I’m lucky to have someone who might not always agree with me, but always makes me feel supported and heard. He asks questions because he wants to understand everything; it challenges me to do the same.

6. Text messages. I know, I know, technology has ruined our generation and no one has social skills anymore and we’re all doomed. But how great is it to shoot a quick text to anyone anytime to say hi or share a meme? In the old days, you had to find time to write letters or call and hope they were home. People were either lonelier or more content in their solitude. I’m glad to be here and now with my little iPhone in my purse.

May your week be full of flashlights.

will + cords

My family was trolling me this morning about the cobwebs around this blog lately. Conveninetly, my brother wrote a post to get me back on the wagon…

Hey world it’s me, Will. You’ve probably been wondering who is that devilishly handsome young man that makes appearances regularly in Shannon’s pictures. Well it’s me, her little brother, and her biggest inspiration. What I want to talk to you about today is something Shannon has probably not covered, but has been a part of everyone’s life, pain. I consider myself an expert in many subjects, including horses, pilates (taught Shannon everything she knows), and making my Dad shake his head (he is doing a nice head shake as he reads this). But pain is something I think I have dabbled in a decent amount, like when I dropped a 2″x12″ on my pinkie toe, stepped on dozens of legos, put my fingers in more then one outlet, passed a handful of kidney stones, broken a few bones, and even got pushed down a flight of stairs by the normal author of the blog you are currently perusing. But no pain is as bad as pulling a nose hair. WHY?! 

Thanks, Will. You can follow him on twitter if this is your cup of tea.

Back to my regularly nonscheduled programing.

Two weeks ago I scored a great deal on some corduroys at Loft. They were on the clearance rack for $12 a pair! They had my size, but I couldn’t decide between the olive or the black pair. Obviously, I bought both.

They are soft and the perfect length and stretch. And skinny cords are timeless, ya know?

Monday, I debuted the olive pair; I didn’t sleep much Sunday night and I expected to have a crappy day. These pants turned around what could have been a tired train wreck. I did the Alexis model stance for at least three of my coworkers. I can’t resist talking about a good deal. Unfortunately, most of them thought these pants were black. They looked much greener under the dressing room lights.

Am I an idiot for buying two of the almost same pants or am I a genius for having two pairs of pants that I love?

palo duro canyon

This weekend Josh and I’s schedules realigned to give us two days off together (rare!). We took off for Amarillo to hike in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. After arriving, we hit up the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch, not for the famous 72oz steak challenge. It was exactly as kitschy as it looks. At one point, Josh said, “This feels just like Branson.” It really did.

We spent all day on Friday in the park, hiking a loop of five different trails for a total of about 15 miles. On Saturday, we came back for two more trails and eight more miles. Since it was chilly (in the 50s) and we were there on a weekday, it was conveniently empty.

The park hosts quite a few mountain biking trails, so it was nice not to compete with that traffic. We had some of the trails completely to ourselves, which we loved. When no one’s around we can move at our own pace, goof around on the GoPro and sometimes, even sing a little. Those are normal hiking activities, right? Fewer people meant more animals too; we saw turkeys, two whitetail deer, a fox, a roadrunner and lots of blue birds.

The miles and miles of farmland in the surrounding area stretch flat as far as the eye can see, then BOOM, a canyon.  Most of the trails wound around at the bottom, only two with real elevation. We walked past all kinds of vegetation, a sorry little river, red clay and other geological formations we underappreciated.

Amarillo itself was, hmm, how do I say this? a bit well, underwhelming. We spent about fifteen minutes at Cadillac Ranch and then headed back to the hotel. I did some research, but nothing really stuck out to me as a gem. We can’t recommend the margarita at Ruby’s highly enough though!

The photos do better than any of my words.

don’t donate blood before soul cycle

Spoiler alert, you really only need to read the title of this post to get the scoop. I’m an idiot, and now I know for sure.

Tuesday my schedule was packed. There was a meeting, then I donated blood, next an interview, a free class from Soul Cycle and a phone meeting to close it all down. I was looking forward to most of it, expecting a big day. I carefully planned and packed my meals knowing I would need fuel.

To preface, I donate blood regularly. By regularly, I mean every time we host a blood drive at work, which is every quarter or so. It’s easy for me, and I’m O+ (#LiquidGold). It seems like a surefire way to get into heaven, so I can handle a quick stick. Usually I’m a little tired the rest of the day, but nothing crazy.

After giving, I grabbed a free Oreos and CheeseIts and headed back to work. All good. Actually, I felt fine until the Soul Cycle class started. This is the part of the story where you squint your eyes a little and cock your head to one side. If you know me really well, you say, “Do you think you should have gone to that?” To you, I answer, “No, I should have stayed home and watched TV like a good American.”

See, the class was a promo through work. I know Taylor Swift goes to Soul Cycle in New York. Although I don’t like riding bikes and the one cycling class I took in college was torture, I thought, “Hey, maybe this will change my mind!” Oh, and it was free.

They gave me shoes, adjusted my bike and I sat there pedaling like an idiot, thinking I could do strenuous exercise missing 1/8th of my blood supply. I do not kid when I say that’s a tough class. Well, at least the first 15 minutes are tough. I could hardly do them. Ok  fine, I totally sat down the whole time. The base thumped as the instructor in an effort to pump us up started flashing the lights. Then I got some crazy vertigo. Like a Deadliest Catch meets Screaming Eagle feeling and I thought I was going to chuck my cookies in that tiny studio packed in with dancing, sweating bicyclists (some of whom were coworkers). There was no where to puke except on another human.

I couldn’t unclip my shoes from that stupid bike, so I just slipped them off and dove through the rows of elbows as I sprinted for the door.

Once I got out into the glorious, quieter, brighter lobby a well-meaning employee made me sit on a bench until I could walk straight. Then I walked straight into the bathroom and heaved while she pretended to clean the sink. I sat in the lobby for a while feeling like a baby and a failure. I am both, it’s cool. Then they made me fill out an incident report, and I left with what little dignity I could muster before the rest of my coworkers finished their totally rad workout.

Once I got home, I laid on the cool hardwood floor of our apartment and reacquainted myself with the gentle spin of mother earth, drank a ton of water and then went to bed at 8pm.

If you’re judging me, it’s ok. I deserve it. I can handle it.

women’s march

This Saturday we marched with 5000+ in Dallas and 2 million worldwide. My social media feeds lit up with friends and celebrities all over the country doing the same. While I couldn’t march with some of my friends, I felt the kinship from afar.

Pretty crazy to think that two million people not only agreed about something but showed up to stand in a crowd to be heard. That seems like a lot of people until you remember that half the world is women.

When plans started rumbling around about the march, I knew I would go. I told Josh about it and was excited he wanted to join. He’s a self-proclaimed feminist, but I love that he was ok to be one in public. Courtney was pumped too. We made posters, and the three of us walked the mile and a half route with the mob.

There were some of the protest types you’d expect to see- one girl waving burning sage and plenty of crunchy-looking yogis. People of all ages and races were out with strollers, wheelchairs and dogs. There were families with grandma, mom and young daughters all out carrying signs. Some in sweats and some in full-out suits. About 1/4 or 1/5 of the crowd was men.

This event had a woman’s touch all over it. There was a clear and succinct statement of principles. A woman stood near a hole in the sidewalk guiding people around it, saying over and over, “No twisted ankles at this march!” Before it started, a lady walked around asking people to take photos of the chant sheet, as to save paper on copies. Everyone was beaming and admiring each other’s tshirts and complimenting posters. Courtney got a lot of love for her rainbow of Hillary pantsuits tee.  It was the same buzzing female energy I felt before Komen Race for the Cure, maybe a little less pink. Everyone thanked every cop we walked past.

The signs were the best part. Lots of witty ones! I laughed out loud as Courtney and I pointed them out to each other.

It was important to me that this wasn’t an anti-Trump rally. This march on his first day at a new job let him and his supporters know his country is full of women. Women who won’t stand for being grabbed, for being dismissed by looks or having a period, for bring called nasty or any other name. We are worried about issues that directly affect us that he so easily shrugs off or, worse, signs executive orders to limit. Stuff like reproductive rights, accessible and affordable healthcare, violence against women, LGBTQ issues, workers rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigration and the environment.

Just a reminder, Don, we’re here. We’re loud. We’re watching and we’re participating. You work for us too, buddy.

Besides sending a message to our new leader, the march energized me. It reminded me that there are women and men all over Dallas, the country and the world who care too. There’s a huge mass (actually over half of the voting public, but like, who’s bitter?) who are ready to work. I hope it’s not a one day thing.

Being surrounded by powerful, active women gives me such a rush. Maybe because I’m close to my sister and my mom or the four years I spent with 600 girls, but I felt right at home. Going to an all girls school is the single greatest gift my parents ever gave me. I know that women can run anything from a student council fundraiser to a school. Women can ask questions and find a place to personally excel. Women deserve a seat at the table because we have innovative ideas and unique perspectives. It never crossed my mind that playing Mr. Rochester in our Jane Eyre scene was weird or that standing on chairs in the cafeteria belting Celine Dion isn’t a normal high school thing. Wearing a uniform leveled us, reminding us everyday that hard work was what mattered. And we worked hard. Even when I didn’t want to, I was inspired and encouraged by the young women around me who gave it their all, whether it was a calculus test or creating a haunted house. We hustled and saw that hustle recognized with grades, but also by the respect of our peers.

We didn’t see that hustle recognized in November, but the march this weekend gave me hope that women (and really anyone) like us are still heard.

My sign is a reference to a Hamilton lyric. I don’t think it got the love it deserved.

repeating dresses

One year later, I finally picked up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Is my life changed? Not quite yet.

Kondo brings up some interesting points about how attached we are to clutter for one reason or another- gifts, sentimentality, what if I need it, etc, etc.  She encouraged me to clean out and let go of stuff I don’t use. I’m planning a little purging this weekend.  I love how she says to store things in a convenient place to putting them away as opposed to using the items.

Her advice leans toward the extreme side, though. She’s ready to live in an empty place, which I like in theory. In real life, it would make me sad to keep all the things I love in my closet. Just not me.

She said that clothes you never wear should go. I don’t think Marie would want to shop with me. She advocates buying fewer, quality things and making them last forever. I love that idea. In my perfect world, I would do that.

Instead, I live in this world where I feel guilty about throwing out perfectly nice things that I may wear. She would tell me to do it and on the off-chance, I should just buy something else if I need a replacement in the future. This implies that future me will want to shop for a new dress/black slacks/or whatever.

I’ve always been a spiritual shopper. Sometimes I want to browse up and down aisles and touch and try on clothes. Most of the time, I want in and out. A quick lap around provides me enough info as to if I want anything at all.

When I’m on a mission to find something specific, it’s too forced. It’s not fun and I don’t find what I’m looking for in the allotted time. I know that I do my best work on my time. Things find me, even during the wrong season. But man, when I find something that clicks and it’s a deal- it’s mine. I’m not worried about when to wear it, unless it’s a full-out formal.

So I have a closet FULL of dresses, in particular. I’ve worn most more than once and I keep them in hopes to wear them again and again. I’m not the kind of person who buys something for a specific event, wears it once and then forgets. Some women treasure the feeling of something new for an event. I get excited to pull one of these babies out of the closet. Josh is the same way about his suits. He has three (I think?) and all three fit him and look great. He likes all three and enjoys wearing them.

My dresses get loved. Social media rats on how often I rewear these babies.  Here’s a walk down memory lane where I call out myself on repeats. Also, thanks to all the wedding photogs for these photos.

I bought this dress at Loft and wore it in Tahiti (not pictured), for my cousin’s wedding in July 2015 here:

And again at Kristen’s wedding this summer:

My mom found this dress with gold polkadots before college graduation. I still love it and want to wear it every weekend. It made an appearance under my graduation robe:

Here it is again at the Heart Ball in 2013 (?):

Once more time at Emily’s rehearsal dinner in December 2013. I think Alexis may have repeated the same dress from the Heart Ball that night too.

Before my wedding, I was searching high and low for a fancy white dress to wear at the rehearsal dinner. I hated everything I tried on in those weeks. I finally, released myself from the need to wear white for that event. Only then did I stumble across this pink lacy dress. I wore it the day before the wedding.

It came back out to play at Katie’s wedding last April. Also, not pictued at Steve’s rehearsal dinner.

I bought this dress without a plan and wore it to Kelly’s wedding in Kansas City.

It resurfaced at my bridal shower, with different accessories.

This black flapper dress was a steal from Charming Charlie’s. Here it is at Stef’s wedding.

It danced again at Carolyn’s wedding in October.

All of these dresses are still hanging in my closet begging for another round. I hope to wear them all again.

If I would have cleaned out all these dresses like Marie wanted me to, I would wear the same two dresses all the time or spend half my life shopping. I’m guessing her wedding hustle is not as strong as mine.