You’re okay.

 

I’ve googled “discipline fatigue” twice in the last 24 hours.

It’s not a thing. I keep checking, hoping I can make it a thing, but it’s an unknown, illegitimate ailment I’ve made up.

I whine to Lane and tell him this is what I have right now: discipline fatigue. It is hitting me like a tidal wave as he pushes me to go to the gym and I tell him I don’t want to. I have no desire. Maybe you can push me to do a workout but I won’t want to go back to it tomorrow. I’m wearing workout clothes right now but I am sitting here writing instead.

I’ve had discipline fatigue in this area of working out for the last three weeks now. I keep wondering if it is like a cold. If I can kick the symptoms with some apple cider vinegar and just keep marching on.

 

I’m a pretty disciplined person. I’ve fallen in love with discipline in the last two years because I’ve found that so much freedom comes from routines and rhythms. It’s so nice to not feel chaotic, or feel like I am constantly chasing after this person I want to become with no real map. Instead, I am inching my way towards her and I am learning how to love and take care of the person who occupies the “in the meantime.”

But I still can so easily fall into this trap of a lie that life will begin, life will mean something, when I check x,y, and z off the list. I know I’m not alone in feeling this. I make goals for the month but there are just some times where the goals– all sitting together in one place– make me feel like I am always climbing towards something and never fully in the present moment of progress.

I want to learn how to occupy my progress. I want to enjoy the imperfection of today.

 

And so, a small reminder for myself: it’s okay to feel burnt out. It’s okay to be tired, weak, weary or all of the above. It’s okay to not know which small step to take. It’s okay if it takes you a little while to take any step at all. 

Every single day is a chance to be better. That’s not a marching order, that’s a gift. All of this-this life unfolding- is slow progress. I like to think we are progressing towards being kinder and happier people. I like to imagine we will get to end of our lives and say we progressed towards joy, more love, and less fear. We must dance in the progress if we ever want to see it as a gift.

There’s a part of me that wants to scream, “Get in the gym! Keep going! Run!” We all go into Nike “just do it” mode when we’re in a mood we need to snap out of. And then there’s this quieter voice that is speaking up and saying, “Hey… chill out. Give yourself a break. You’re doing a lot. You’re carrying a lot.”

You don’t always have to be on your A game. You don’t have to be the one who wedges smoothies, kale, yoga, meditation and skinny jeans into your daily routine. You are not a superhero. There are days for sweatpants pretending to be real pants. There are days for cheese.

Perfection is a conspiracy theory we’re all believing in. Perfection is a paper town. We still chase after it because it looks like other people, people with more followers and more kale on their plates, have somehow attained it. Let the myth die: not a single one of us knows what perfection feels like. 

What perfection wants to steal is our ability to just be here now. We become seekers, lookers, finders, searchers. We become nomads hunting after divine purpose, and a skinnier waist, and a bigger bank account. It all adds up to a bigger problem: We miss one another when we chase after “missing pieces.”

You aren’t missing a thing. It’s all right here, so reach out and grab it. Is there room for growth? Always. Is there time in a single day to be everything to everyone? Never. Stop chasing it.

Don’t trade “being here” for the lie that “getting there” is worth chasing down the rabbit hole.

 

I remember sitting at a dinner table with some of my friends a few years back and I told them how I thought the two most beautiful words in the world, the most universal ones we all needed to hear, were simple: you’re okay.

We sat there for nearly a half hour talking about those two words, marveling at the way they put us all at ease.

You’re Okay. I say those words constantly to my friends in a trial. I repeat them to myself. I hush the babies with that belief, “You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay.”

I think all of us need this reminder every once in a while. We don’t always need a pep talk. We don’t need to lie and say we are on top of the mountain when we know we’re really not. The words are blunt and simple, “you’re okay.” Don’t cue the fireworks or call on the heavens to rumble. Some days we are just okay and that’s what the world gets of us. And you know what? That’s okay too.

And it’s true. It’s true whether you ran five miles today or you didn’t get up out of bed: you’re okay.

Whether you have slain the dragons you’re most afraid of or if you ran out of fear: you’re okay.

If you are tired and you don’t have a map: you’re okay.

If you are on the edge of transition and you feel like nothing in your life is the same anymore: you’re okay.

You got up today. You made it this far. You’re still here.

You’re okay. 

 

(photo cred)

My Whole30: why I’m now a believer.

I am 12 days removed from my first completed Whole30 and I have to tell you… I have never been more thankful for a 30-day reset than right now. I feel energized. I feel happy. I feel strong. I’ve been excited to write this post for you all month long and it’s finally, finally here!

I hope these notes + comments encourage and empower you! Thanks for allowing me to be vulnerable and messy in this space!

xoxo,

hb.

A little backstory

I attempted my second Whole30 in January of this year. I made it two solid weeks before I was laid out flat by a sinus infection in the third week and was forced to throw in the towel. Antibiotics and lots of Greek yogurt is what the doctor prescribed.

Lane and I are the types to set goals. Really, I’m the goal-setter of our little family but he comes along for the ride. When we set our 2017 goals, I had this on the list: complete a Whole30.

I want to do it. Like, really do it. No cutting corners. No “cheats.” In the past, I was half-hearted about the process. I thought, “I will do everything except kick cream out of my coffee” or “I can totally have beans. I NEED BEANS.” I wanted to do the thing at 100% this time around.

Whole30 is talked about on nearly every food and health blog. Some would say it’s a massive trend, a franchise, that will eventually die out.

Last summer, I decided I wanted to shed some pounds for my wedding. Sweating for the wedding is what I called it. I feel no shame in that. We all want to look and feel our best on the day we wear white. But my results were pretty flimsy. I saw no change in my body. I adore my wedding dress and pictures but I remember being confused as to why I couldn’t lose any weight. My friends said it was likely because of the antidepressant I was taking. It’s common for antidepressants to keep you from losing weight.

In January of this year, I started again. I set the goals to lose some pounds and get that “summer body.” Again. No progress. The scale never budged. The extra pounds never came off.

I went to a doctor in May to have my blood drawn and to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Thyroid issues are common in my family and I wondered, “Maybe this is why I can’t lose weight. Maybe this is why I get fatigued so easily.”

My bloodwork came back normal. My doctor shrugged and said, “maybe try a Whole30.”

I really hated her resolve. I huffed and puffed to myself leaving that doctor’s office. I didn’t believe that a diet like the Whole30 could actually change anything. I was working out 5 days a week for 45 minutes. I was eating fairly clean. Why was it that I couldn’t just get to the place where I felt happy and content?

I realize this place of contentment does rest in numbers on a scale. However, I told myself I would be honest with this post and dishonesty would like claiming I never feel insecure about my body, I am consistently happy with the skin I am in, and weight is a not an issue for me. You might look at me and think I shouldn’t struggle with these issues but I think we all do. Maybe we could talk about it with a little less shame? Maybe less shame, and more conversation would drive us all into healthier spaces.

The reasoning

Surprisingly, when I walked into my Whole30 this past September it wasn’t about losing weight. I’d be lying if I told you 2017 has been a cakewalk. There’s been cake but no cakewalk. I’ve been challenged physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was just one of those long desert seasons where it feels like nothing is moving and you just don’t know who you are anymore. I call these times “cocooning” because it feels very quiet, very closed off, and very internal. Marriage has been this sliver of joy in the mess but I otherwise found myself feeling drained and looking at God like, “Really? Can’t I control at least one thing?”

So I remembered how two years ago, in the midst of heartbreak right before I met Lane, I did a Whole30 as an effort to take something into my own hands. God is gracious and he met me there. I remember that month being one of the complete. Something healing happened when I let go of the control food had on me through the 30-day challenge. Truth told I made it 26 days that time.

I decided to repeat my efforts this September. I walked in cautiously optimistic, knowing I have yet to prove myself by actually putting the Whole or the 30 in the Whole30. I think I believed what a lot of people might believe: it’s just 30 days. It cannot change that much. There’s nothing magical about this thing. 

The 30 days

No cutting corners this time. I did the challenge by the book. I recommend the book because it’s a really good resource and it feels like a companion throughout the 30 days. It gave me some solid recipes, a strong timeline of how I should be feeling, and motivation to keep getting over the hurdles.

Admittedly, I bombed the challenge that first day. I didn’t fail or cheat but I definitely cooked WAY too much bacon & paid the price of a big stomachache and a long nap. But after that one hiccup, we did okay!

My cravings curbed after 10 days. I no longer wanted cheese or bread. I found the feelings of energy building up to be way more addicting than empty carbs. I would say the biggest victory of my Whole30 was realizing just how many emotions we tie to the consumption of food.

Lane and I took a trip to the Blue Ridge mountains during Weekend #2 of my Whole30. We enjoyed a nice dinner out with no wine, no bread (for me), no sugar and no dessert. It might sound like a nightmare to you but I was forced to be present and in the moment. I had to squash the desire to cheat. I realized throughout that time that on trips we take I am normally consumed by the idea of food and end up feeling sluggish the whole time. This time, I was awake, alert and really happy to just be with Lane. Major win.

Another huge win: realizing how much I am prone to eat or drink something because I feel like I “deserve” it. That’s a messed up idea that I didn’t fully process until I was in the middle of the challenge and post-challenge. I don’t want to consume things just because I “deserve” them. I want to feel freedom with my choices and I want those choices to not be so self-centered and self-gratifying.

Overall, the Whole30 wasn’t too hard for me this time. I think there are a few reasons for this:

  • I’ve begun meal-prepping in the last few years. This makes all the difference. Make several servings of a meal when you are cooking so you can easily grab something out of the fridge or freezer to fuel you.
  • I know how to measure things now. It seems silly but I used to hate measuring ingredients and I wondered why all my food tasted so crappy. This time around, I was up for the challenge of trying new recipes and going to the grocery store to invest in some new ingredients.
  • I realized not every meal had to be premium or deluxe. There was one morning where I sat and ate hardboiled eggs and pineapple with no remorse. You want food that is going to fool you but you don’t need to be Martha Stewart to complete this challenge.

Notes & tips

  • I did very little working out during my Whole30. This was actually really freeing and restful for me. It also showed me that as much as I love fitness, losing weight has everything to do with food. There is a reason so many gyms obnoxiously post fliers around that say, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” I had rewrites for my book the first half of the Whole30 so my mind was very much: Wake up. Eat what you have to eat. Write. Nap. Exist. I didn’t feel the pressure to fit much else in.
  • It helps to have buddies to push you along. I joined a support group on Facebook with a bunch of strangers! I posted my meals on social media as a form of accountability. I had a girlfriend join me 11 days in and another one started her challenge on my day 25. It was fun to have people to share recipes with. Things like this are so much easier when there’s someone beside you to say, “me too.”
  • It is truly amazing but never once did I get sick of eggs. I could legitimately eat eggs for every meal of the day and not grow tired. Eggs, ghee, fat balls, and kombucha were my saving graces. I didn’t even feel strange pouring some buch into a wine glass to clink with my friends. I felt happy and complete.

The Results

Guys… I am a believer now. Hardcore. No denying it. I can’t say the Whole30 works for every single person but it definitely changed me in so many ways.

I shelved the idea that Whole30 was going to change the number on the scale and actually had Lane hide the scale battery so I couldn’t focus on that.

In terms of non-scale victories, there were plenty:

  • Tons of new energy and no more “afternoon slump” after day 7.
  • Reduced amount of hair shedding.
  • Clearer skin and all issues with psoriasis gone by day 14.
  • Happier, more social, and feeling more comfortable in my own skin.
  • Easier time waking up in the morning.
  • Less anxiety.
  • Clearer thoughts- that “brain fog” they talk about from grain is real, guys.
  • More food-savoring instead of just eating whatever is available to me for no reason at all.
  • Improvement in overall body image.

This is just the start of a list of benefits from the Whole30. Lane didn’t do the complete challenge with me but he definitely cooked a bunch and kept me alive at certain points when I wanted to give up. I loved how it brought us closer together as we shared recipes, bought food together, and tried new dishes. Our “going out to eat” expenses plummeted in the month of September. I only went out to eat about 3 times in the whole 30 days.

Weight loss did happen. I went from being unable to lose a single pound for an entire year to dropping 8 pounds in 30 days. It’s a definite victory to have your clothes fit better and loser but I think I love being able to shelf the dumb lie that my antidepressant was standing in my way. There are some people who find it difficult to lose weight because of medication but it seems this is no longer an issue for me.

Favorite Recipes

As I made this list I realized I want to go back and make everything all over again. There is no lack of savory goodness on the Whole30 if you take your time and really challenge yourself to try newer, greener things.

BLT Chicken Bake = I could eat you for the rest of my life.

Fantastic soup recipe– especially if you have to share a meal with people.

These nuggs are life.

Made these twice and they are a great party appetizer.

This slow cooker applesauce got me through the 30 days.

Lane and I had a Big Brother Finale Party and made these poppers.

My favorite meal on the Whole30.

We honestly thought we were eating “grits.” That good.

I messed up the recipe a little but these were still yum.

My last Whole30 meal. And dang was it good.

No, wait… maybe this was my favorite meal.

Simple & classic.

I highly recommend these red potatoes as a side dish.

Favorite slow cooker recipe on the Whole30.

I wanted to tackle some Q&A in this post but it’s already getting long so I’ll save that for my next post! If you have any questions you want me to answer (I’ll try my best), then leave them in the comment section below. I would love to hear about your experiences with the Whole30 and how it changed things in your life! I’ll be reading!

Trimming debt & budgeting like a baller.

I became debt-free at the end of 2016.

Goal-setting is like a reflex to me, I can’t help but do it. For the last few years, I have made it a goal to kick my student loan debt to the curb. I made it a goal but I didn’t make it a priority.

The difference between me finally getting rid of my student loan debt and me just talking about it rested in three things: action, sacrifice & focus. I think those are the core components to accomplishing any goal: action, sacrifice & focus.

When I say “student loan debt,” I don’t mean some small figure. I mean over $60,000 worth of student loans. I knew going into the four years of my higher education that I was taking on this burden. I remember being almost certain that I would never be able to pay it off. I would have regular anxiety about my debt as I watched it accrue with every passing semester.

For nearly five years, I didn’t do a thing about my debt. Naturally, it spiraled and became larger as I paid the minimum every month and watched the interest make the number higher than what it was before I began paying it off.

So I made 2016 my year to kill debt. I looked at the $57,000 worth of debt and I decided to face this beast. I was paying about $500 a month and I knew there had to be a smarter way to tackle this debt. 

I’ve wanted to share my tactics for a while but I also want to be open and honest with everyone. I am self-employed and have been for four years. I don’t have a fixed salary which comes with its own hurdles but I am able to increase or decrease the money I earn by the number of jobs I take on. I bring this up to say, everyone’s road to becoming debt-free will be different. Set a goal that is manageable for you but also stretches you to focus and sacrifice. Achieving goals require discipline. Below are the things I did to discipline myself and erase my debt: 

1. Budget, budget, budget

I cannot stress this one enough. I created my own budget sheets last year and I am a really huge fan of them and it’s not because I made them. I designed the budget sheets for someone like me who is often scared of numbers and wishes budgeting could be a little more inspirational. I love them only because they’re working and I am someone who doesn’t use products unless they work. It’s been so cool to see people all over the world use these sheets. Someone emailed the other day to tell me she’d been using my budget sheets and, because of them, she erased $7,000 worth of debt.

She said it took her about a year to make it happen (which is freaking awesome) and the biggest things she focused on were: 1) eating out less 2) putting her tithe first 3) taking on extra side-jobs like babysitting.

Using budget sheets has helped me assign my dollars where they ought to go. Plus, I love keeping them in a binder and pushing myself to save better from month to month.

(P.S. there’s even a space in the budget sheets for tacos. Because obviously.)

2. Consider a Challenge

At the beginning of 2016, Lane and I took on a Contentment Challenge. For the first three months of the year, he and I didn’t buy anything except for necessities, groceries, and the occasional date night. Our minds were sufficiently blown and our bank accounts were thankful.

The coolest thing that happens in a contentment challenge is you figure out where your contentment actually lies. Whether it’s cool stuff or the amount of money in your bank account. You figure out what you are dependent upon and what is in the way of reaching a point of contentment. For Lane and I, the common stumbling block where we spent the most money was on food and drinks. We enjoy going out and trying new restaurants. We don’t keep ourselves from that experience but the Contentment Challenge helped us to reign in the spending on big dinner tabs and begin enjoying home-cooked meals.

3. Face the Issue

I couldn’t begin tackling my debt until I was willing to look my debt in the face. I think we do this a lot with things we are afraid of. We hide them. We shove to the side. My debt was completely normal for a student in 2017 but I made the fear bigger than it needed to be.

The best thing I ever learned to do was look at my debt weekly and remind myself it was there. As I looked at it, I became proactive and started putting money towards chopping down the number. I tackled an $11,000 loan and a $7,000 loan during the Contentment Challenge. I took on extra jobs to whittle down a $5,000 loan. I made myself stare at the debt in order to become less afraid of it.

4. Pay those quarterly taxes

This applies more for the freelance crew out there but I cannot tell you how much of a difference it made for me to pay my quarterly taxes last year. I’ve dreaded the middle of April for the last four years because I know I will be writing a really large check to the government. However, I paid my quarterly taxes this year and I was free from the anxiety of needing to save unknown pockets of money to not be slammed come tax season. Know what you’re working with– that’s why I tell myself now. Pay your quarterly taxes to figure out what is still yours to work with.

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR BUDGETING AND KILLING DEBT? I WOULD LOVE TO CHAT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

 

You can still go back to yourself.

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I started Monday with writing.

I try my hardest to not open my inbox until 11 in the morning. On the days where I am disciplined in this area, I always feel my most productive. I feel alive and at ease with the skin I am in.

I sat down in front of my desktop by 8:30am and already 3,000 words have come out of me. I pace the floors. I reheat my cup of black coffee for the sixth time. I feel more like myself than I have felt in ages.

I wasn’t planning to write anything today in this space but I find that my little writing corner on the internet gets quiet when I get away from the creation process and spiral into trying to be perfect. It’s a tiring game with no winner. I struggle with looking at the lives of other people who seem to have it all together and wishing I could be more like them. I make a fatal error when I get so invested in the filtered lives of others that I forget to invest in my own. My life. My body. My craft. My growth.

Don’t stray from your craft. Don’t look to other people as if they are going to start the car for you. Sit down. Do the thing. Use your keys. It’s your journey and it doesn’t belong to anyone else. In the same vein, no one but you will suffer if you never take the journey. People don’t miss or grieve over the life you didn’t live. That’s your grief and that’s your funeral.

If you are someone who creates things then make life about the creation. You can admire the creations of others but don’t waste your best hours of the day watching other people. Use your hours wisely. Do the work. Even if you only get 20 minutes in a given day to make something, make it happen.

We run around like maniacs claiming there isn’t enough time in the day. So often we bewitch ourselves with the curse of “busy.” We don’t see how much time we kill with scrolling, clicking and liking. I can watch you live your life in 10-second increments or I could create something the world needs. One of those things is going to take no energy at all. The other is going to require everything you have.

If you are feel odd or out of sorts today, maybe you’ve forgotten something. Maybe you got wrapped up in stuff that doesn’t matter to you and you’ve forgotten what you truly love. Time isn’t up though. You can still go back to yourself. You can get a new journal. You can write two glorious sentences. You can open a book. You can start over.

Life hasn’t called and asked you to come and turn in your keys yet. Go while you still have the keys. Go. 

Notes from an investor: people, projects, plans.

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Recently I started investing. My money. My loot. My greens. My Benjamins. My clams. My dough. My wad. My lettuce. Okay, I’m done.

It makes me feel like a serious adult to say that I’m saving money. I wiped out all my student loan debt this past December and I figured that was the next adult-ish thing to do: begin investing.

When you first start investing, the whole process seems a little intimidating. The website I use ultimately tells me how much I need to save up if I want to retire at age 67 (they picked the age, not me). There are pros and cons to looking “Big Picture” at your life like this. Pros: you see what you’re working with. Cons: you figure out what you’re working with and you realize you’re not working so well with it. 

The app I invest with gives you a list of options as to where you can invest your money: a home, a retirement fund, your children’s college funds.

There are too many options and I find myself thinking I need to invest in every single one right this very moment. 

I’m not writing a post about investing money right now.  I may have married a financial analyst but I’m not ready to come at you with my money savvy just yet. As I’ve learned the ins and outs of investing, I am starting to see that investing translates into all areas of my life.

Full plan ahead: The best planner picks for 2017

I’m a former cheater. We should go ahead and just get that out of the way first.

I have been consistently unfaithful when it comes to picking a planner and sticking with it for 12 solid months. I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one to ever pick a planner, fall madly in love with it, feel organized and like your life serves a purpose for 5 minutes, haphazardly visit Target and end up with an entirely different planner a month later. That has been the rhythm of my life for a long time and I am betting there are some people out there who do just the same.

The good thing about being unable to stick with a planner for 12 months? You date a lot of planners. You know what’s out there. Eventually, the romance of a new planner with crisp pages wears off. Sticking with a planner isn’t some whimsical “this is the one” feeling sweeping you up. You survey your options. You pick one. You write things down. You repeat. And you stop allowing yourself to look at other options. It’s basically marriage.

The valley of pg. 100.

Everyone knows I go to “church” on Monday nights.

There’s a reason for using quotation marks to envelope that word “church.” It’s a different kind of church than the one I attend on a Sunday morning. There are no pews. There are no hymns or flashing lights. It’s just a bunch of girls, sitting in a living room, infusing the air with commentary on the latest episode of the Bachelorette.

Someone will be quick to say, “That’s not church! Rar! That’s not church.” But me? I am in the camp of believing that church is wherever you get united with other people who are struggling and fighting. Church is any place where God gets invited in. It takes only hope and a reason for God to be there to build a sanctuary. This world is crawling with sanctuaries that have yet to know God is hanging on the beams and breathing in the hallways.