Archives for January 2014

De-Cluttering My Life… One thing at a time.

I’m sure everybody feels like they have too much ish going on. With work, school, family, and social life, there’s SO much that has to be done, SO much that should probably be done better, and SO much constantly on our minds. This is the case with me too. Over the past year I’ve been trying to focus on small things will help me de-clutter, de-stress, and live a little lighter. Instead of thinking about what MORE I need to do, I’m trying to have to LESS to manage.  I’m not putting a time limit on these things (again trying to DE-stress, not add additional things to my ever-growing to-do list), just spending a half an hour every so often, getting rid of ish I don’t need. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Completed: 

*Closets/Drawers

I’d give my left pinky finger if that were my closet, but it’s not. We ladies ALL have way too much in our drawers and closets. I know I do. When it got to the point that I could no longer find the pieces I needed and putting the laundry away into packed drawers was stressing me out, I knew I had to get rid of some things. I used the age-old method of decision making when it comes to clothes: if I hadn’t worn it in over a year, OUT it goes! It was wonderful. This took me about an hour, but I actually felt so liberated. I’m super nostalgic so getting rid of some things is usually harder because I always think back to the times when I wore something the most. But do I really need a tiny shirt I can no longer wear? Do I really need those ripped-all-to-hell jeans I wore all the way through college that I can’t believe haven’t fallen apart? No, I decided. So out they went. Six bags of clothes, shoes, old purses, belts I no longer wear, off to Goodwill! It felt so good, I actually did this 3 times last year. The other two times were smaller affairs and only included a bag or so of shirts and stuff, but it still felt nice. Now, if I’m going to buy something new, I try to get rid of a small bag of other stuff, just to keep myself balanced in the wardrobe department.

*Car

Charli! I love my car. It’s the first one I’ve ever gotten to choose and it’s perfect for my life. But I hate when I get in it and am immediately stressed out by the inside. I’ve gotten better over the years about getting rid of trash quickly. I no longer have to keep clothes, shoes, accessories, and fitness equipment in it like the college days of never knowing where I might end up and what I might need that weekend, but I still have stuff in there that doesn’t need to be there. I was looking for something I thought I’d lost  last week and checked my console and glove box. They were both FILLED with ish! So I took 15 minutes and took every single thing out of there. I found my heart rate monitor that I thought I’d lost (and now have to replace the battery because it’s completely dead). I had about 100 papers in my glove box that needed to be tossed or filed away: bank deposit slips, travel receipts, pay stubs, titles, a million insurance cards from years past, etc. And put back in only the necessities. I love it!

Tango’s white dog fur on my black interior is another story. I make it a point now to vacuum once a week. It’s almost impossible to keep the back seat constantly clean with all our trips to the park and Tang’s constant shedding, but with my new $40 pet hair mini-vac thing I bought from Target a few months ago, it’s way easier to stay on top of.

*Desk
This actually is my desk. I don’t want to see all the stuff in it, so these cabinets and drawers are great. Not so much junk, but tons of papers in my files that were making it difficult to fit more documents in my filing cabinet each month. So I started small: taking out files that I don’t use regularly but can’t completely get rid of (past years’ taxes, insurance files, and the like), putting them in a smaller box in the attic, and throwing out ones I don’t need. Then I went through the files that were left to see if any old papers can be shredded… I don’t think I necessarily need car insurance papers on a car I no longer drive from 6 years ago. Anything I was unsure about got scanned and saved onto my computer. Shredding papers was surprisingly fun… There were 6 grocery bags full of shredded paper that I got to dispose of! This has made my life so much easier. I no longer dread filing things away because it’s faster and easier now that there’s room in there. The stacks and stacks of papers piling up on my table/desk are no more!

Still To-Do: 

* Storage Unit
This is next on the list… and kind of what I’m working on at the moment. I have a couch and chair, a dresser, and a couple boxes in a tiny storage unit I’ve had for the past two years since my divorce. It’s all been just sitting there. And I don’t need it. I put stuff in there until I moved, but when I moved in with Tamara, she already had a fully furnished house. There’s no reason for me to move, but no reason to keep paying for a monthly storage unit either. It’s only $50 per month, but multiply that times the two years I’ve been here and I could have bought an all new furniture set and not had to worry about it. So I’m slowly working on selling the furniture (putting that money in savings for new furniture down the road) and taking one more bill off my checklist.

*Garage
This one I’ve been dreading for a while. It’s not a lot (we are two chicks in this house, it’s not like we have a bunch of tools and crap). I put a few boxes in there when I first moved it, just because I didn’t feel like going through them. I’m sure I don’t need anything in them, seeing as it’s been over two years and I haven’t needed a single thing from inside, but it’s just a hassle and I haven’t made the effort to go do it. It probably won’t take me but 30 minutes to do it. I’m gonna wait until it warms up a little more though… Cleaning out boxes in sub-freezing temperatures sounds even more shitty.

Now I’m not acting like an organization saint here. These 3 things were done several months apart, even though they could have been done in one afternoon. Whatev! As Rafiki would say, “It doesn’t matter! It’s in the past!” So I’m just gonna take a deep breath and tackle the storage unit this weekend. Anybody need some new furniture? : )

What have you (or what do you need) de-cluttered in your life? 
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Snow Dogs at Farmington

We have an awesome old plantation home/land near our place. It’s the neighborhood spot to take your dogs to run around. There’s a ton of room, a pretty view, and you get to watch your dogs run mach 10, happy as can be. We are here at least 3 or 4 days a week and Tango and Churchill LOVE it. 
Exhibit A: 

They run like maniacs when they first get there, then 
Tango takes off alone to pee on every bush, tree and post that he can find, 
claiming all as his own. He’s a bit of an alpha… 
But while he’s doing that, Churchill sits. 
And waits. 
Until it’s time to strike!!! 

It’s hilarious. 
Fun is had by all. 
At least for about 15 minutes until we’re close to frostbite and have to head back home…
We’re ready for warmer temps are here. 
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Fund for the Arts Showcase & Campaign Kickoff!

I was lucky to be invited to the annual Fund for the Arts Showcase and Campaign Kickoff and was delighted to accept! Louisville may seem like a small town to many but we have one of the best arts scenes in the country. Symphony, Theatre, Dance, Opera, etc. Louisville has it all and is always a stop along the way for any tour that happens to be cruising the country/world.

Growing up as a dancer in Louisville, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by so many avenues that supported the arts. I was fortunate to attend and graduate from the Youth Performing Arts School, do commercials for Stage One, attend performances by Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, and get tickets to many, many shows that came to the Kentucky Center for the Arts. I still take classes at the Louisville Ballet School. The arts are kind of a big deal to me.

The bigger this fund gets, 
the more arts, the more arts jobs, the more arts education 
for those living in and around this city! 
Here’s a look at the event: 

My girlfriend, Abby was there as well! 
A fellow dancer who works the Kentucky Center.

First up, a performance by the Louisville Youth Choir

“Oh Freedom” by the Kentucky Opera

A scene from The Nutcracker, by the Louisville Ballet
I was so enthralled by the dancing, I almost forgot to shoot a photo! 
Took this at the last second.

A scene from Hamlet by Kentucky Shakespeare

Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal was so much fun
when performed by the Louisville Youth Orchestra 
Actors Theatre of Louisville presenting a scene from 
Pirates of Penzance – which I hear is hilarious! 

An excellent performance by the children from Walden Theatre
And Mr. Jenkins from the Louisville Visual Art Association
who started with this: 
And by the end of the performance had this: 
Lastly, Louisville native, Andrea Davidson
And no event like this is complete without a stop to the sponsor backdrop. 
(Amanda was my date to the event.)

And we’ll just go ahead and throw in a selfie for good measure…
Lastly, I believe I’ll switch my title to “Internet Journalist.”
; ) 
To donate to the Fund for the Arts, click here
and support the connection of the 
people of this community with the creative world. 
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Fund for the Arts Showcase & Campaign Kickoff!

I was lucky to be invited to the annual Fund for the Arts Showcase and Campaign Kickoff and was delighted to accept! Louisville may seem like a small town to many but we have one of the best arts scenes in the country. Symphony, Theatre, Dance, Opera, etc. Louisville has it all and is always a stop along the way for any tour that happens to be cruising the country/world.

Growing up as a dancer in Louisville, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by so many avenues that supported the arts. I was fortunate to attend and graduate from the Youth Performing Arts School, do commercials for Stage One, attend performances by Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, and get tickets to many, many shows that came to the Kentucky Center for the Arts. I still take classes at the Louisville Ballet School. The arts are kind of a big deal to me.

The bigger this fund gets, 
the more arts, the more arts jobs, the more arts education 
for those living in and around this city! 
Here’s a look at the event: 

My girlfriend, Abby was there as well! 
A fellow dancer who works the Kentucky Center.

First up, a performance by the Louisville Youth Choir

“Oh Freedom” by the Kentucky Opera

A scene from The Nutcracker, by the Louisville Ballet
I was so enthralled by the dancing, I almost forgot to shoot a photo! 
Took this at the last second.

A scene from Hamlet by Kentucky Shakespeare

Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal was so much fun
when performed by the Louisville Youth Orchestra 
Actors Theatre of Louisville presenting a scene from 
Pirates of Penzance – which I hear is hilarious! 

An excellent performance by the children from Walden Theatre
And Mr. Jenkins from the Louisville Visual Art Association
who started with this: 
And by the end of the performance had this: 
Lastly, Louisville native, Andrea Davidson
And no event like this is complete without a stop to the sponsor backdrop. 
(Amanda was my date to the event.)

And we’ll just go ahead and throw in a selfie for good measure…
Lastly, I believe I’ll switch my title to “Internet Journalist.”
; ) 
To donate to the Fund for the Arts, click here
and support the connection of the 
people of this community with the creative world. 
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Best Practices for the Self-Employed Part II: Balance

I just wrote a post about keeping good business habits when you work for yourself. Now here’s the other side of that. Here’s how I stay balanced and limit stress:

 

*Get in at least one thing for me each week. 
Don’t be a martyr. When you constantly put yourself last, you suffer. Maybe not at first, but after a while, you’ll have a breakdown that will affect your work, your relationships, etc. This is a huge problem for a lot of women because we tend to put ourselves last. A lot. I’m not saying drop your work and your family and go hit the road like Thelma and Louise. I’m just saying the world will not stop turning if take some time for yourself on a regular basis. I try to do something for myself each week. Take a ballet class. Take a yoga class. Go climb at the gym. Read my favorite magazine on the couch for an hour. Grab lunch with my best friend. ANYTHING that’s meant for my enjoyment. It’s something I get to look forward to and keeps my stress levels down. I notice it when I’ve lagged on this for too long.
 

 

*Work on the plane on the way out of town, read my book on the way back home. 
I travel a ton, so there are plenty of flights each month that I could make productive. It’s an ideal space to work in; nobody hounding you, no internet (usually) to distract you, no phone buzzing every few minutes with messages or emails that slow you down. On the other hand, I love books. I love to read! It’s one of my “things” and the plane is an ideal spot to catch on my book of the moment. I don’t want to only work on flights, or only read and not accomplish anything. So I have a new rule: work on the outbound flight(s), read my book on the inbound one(s). Two birds. One stone. Ami’s happy.
Like I ever have that much leg room…Except for my twice a year 1st class upgrades. via

 

*Don’t overfill my schedule. 
When you’re self-employed, you kind of have to take work when it comes your way, just in case of an unexpected slump (e.g. the Recession) so you tend to overwork yourself. Burnout is BAD though! It’s very evident to everyone around you when you’re burning your candle at both ends. Clients might pity you at first, but when you’re constantly in that state, they may eventually start looking elsewhere for somebody who can handle themselves, and their schedule, better. When you’re burnt out for a prolonged period, you can actually start repelling business. Keep things at a manageable level! It’s good for your business, it’s good for YOU.
This is hilarious. Don’t hurt a seal though. Via

*Have at least one sleep-in day per work week. 
I get up most days of the week at 5am and travel most weekends. Sleeping in until 7am makes a HUGE difference. I learned a long time ago that my body doesn’t work on just 6 hours of sleep so I need a full 8 hours to feel good the next day. If I have to go to sleep at 9pm every night, my personal life takes a hit as well. Not that I need to be out partying every night, but I need to be able to hold an adult conversation past 8pm, so I have to balance it out and not take on so much so early.
What do you do to keep a good work/life balance?

Read Part I here.

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Best Practices for the Self-Employed (Or just me…)

If you are self-employed, you are well aware of the pros and cons:
Pros: you’re in charge, you make your own hours,
call your own shots, and your boss is the best boss in the entire world.
Cons: you’re constantly working, you pay your own insurance,
 you owe taxes, you don’t get paid vacation,
and your paycheck varies depending on how much business you bring in.
I love running my own show, but I’m a Type B personality
and probably the last person that should be running a business.

I hadn’t planned on being self-employed, that’s just how it worked out. I realized I liked it way better than being “held hostage” by a company/boss. I also realized, though, that I’d much rather play than work. So without an actual boss to answer to, sometimes I’ve gotta give myself a pep talk and a swift kick in the arse to be productive. Here are some of the things that help me stay on track:

Contribute to Business, Taxes, Savings, and Retirement FIRST. 
I am aware that is this regular business practice and common knowledge, but I majored in Exercise Science, not Business, Accounting, or Economics. I was slow on the uptake. This lesson was learned after my first really good year. I had made a lot of money, saved a lot for myself, then got blindsided by a HUGE tax bill. I was so bummed to see everything I’d put aside go straight to the IRS. When you run your own business, you get paid last. After that moment I had to switch things up. Money comes in, %30 goes straight into the tax savings account. Then I make sure I have everything I need to keep my business running smoothly: equipment for my bootcamp/clients, marketing materials, upkeep on my certifications/conferences/liability insurance, etc. Then other percentages go into my savings and retirement accounts. THEN I see what’s leftover. And that’s what I make for the month… Sometimes it’s a great month. Sometimes it’s not. But every month is in the black, not the red. So that’s always a good thing.

Do my business expenses the first week of every month, while I’m paying bills.

Business taxes used to drive me crazy… mostly because I did them once a year; on April 14th. I’ve since changed my ways, hired a CPA and keep really good records. Since I pay all my bills the first week of every month, I decided that I would also use that time to go ahead and record my expenses from the previous month. I can get all my spreadsheet ish done at one time (and usually in just half an hour or so), file the receipts away,  and not have to worry about it for a few more weeks. This is making tax time far less stressful!

Tackle the biggest obstacles first; before the end of the day Tuesday.

Sometimes, this just isn’t possible, but most of the time it is. So I put my head down and make it happen. By getting the most dreaded items checked off my to-do list first, the rest of the week seems far less daunting. When I’m really feelin’ good I go ahead and start the next week’s work early. It makes everything easier in the end.

Have all/most of my week’s work done by Friday morning. 
Again, this doesn’t alway happen, but it’s something I strive for. I want my weekend to be fun, not stressful. Since most of my weekends are working ones spent traveling out of town for conferences and education courses, I get home most Sunday nights around 11pm or later. NO time for doing things that need to be done by 6am, Monday morning.
Clean out my inbox every Wednesday and Friday. 

Some weeks this is impossible, but most it’s not. I just have to DO IT. Doing this first on Wednesday ensures that I respond to anybody I missed at the beginning of the week and my inbox doesn’t get out of control. Doing it again on Friday ties up any loose ends before the weekend starts. Sometimes I dread answering emails and piles of questions, but I love knowing that it’s done and that I’ve responded. I hate when I’ve written somebody and they take more than a few days to respond, so trying to golden rule that ish!
 

Any best practices you guys live by?

For Best Practices for the Self-Employed Part II: Balance, click here

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Goodbye, Kristine.

It’s been a hard week. 
We lost this beautiful, sweet girl last week and buried her on Wednesday. 
I spent years with her in the dance studio growing up. 
Funny, smart, always smiling Kristine. 
Taken from us way too soon. 
Rest in peace, sweet girl. 
We love you and we’ll miss you. 
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Upcoming Travel Destinations…

I have a lot of travel coming up. 
Mostly for work, but one trip for fun!
Where will I be?
Nashville, TN
Banff, Canada
Brooklyn, NY
Cleveland, OH
Washington D.C.
Chicago, IL
Will I be in your neck of the woods?
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Playlist! Beyonce & Justin

I’m not sure if there’s a chick out there, around my age, that doesn’t love Bey or J…(T). Their music is so fun to dance and work out to, they’re awesome entertainers, and I think we’d all give our right pinky finger to be able to hang out with them for even an hour. So I decided to dedicate an entire hour-long playlist to these two. I was lucky enough to get to attend both their concerts here in Louisville in December. In the same week! It’s safe to say they are both my jam. Here’s a playlist with just these two: [Read more…]
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Best Women’s Winter Boots. Ever.

I’m not in the snow often, but every time I’ve gone skiing, I’ve usually just taken along my rain boots to keep my feet dry in the snow between the car and cabin. After a a few ski trips I realized this was a stupid idea. My rain boots were ok for waterproofing, but cold as ice. They were also way wider than my leg, so if I was in deep snow the sides basically acted as a shovel, scooping snow into them with every step. So I set out for the perfect pair of winter boots! And never found them.

Everything I saw was either waterproof, warm, and ugly. 
Or cute, and waterproof, but not warm. 
Or everything that I wanted, but $500. 

Enter a winter sale at our local outdoor store, Quest
These Patagonia Lugano Boots 
were normally about $250 but I scored them for $90!!

 I originally wanted black, but they had exactly 3 pair of these in “Espresso”… and one of them was my size! It was fate! So I snatched them up faster than you could say “clearance,” and carried them far away from everyone to try them on. They were perfect. And cozy. And warm. Since purchasing these bad boys, I’ve taken them in the snow all over the country (and Canada).
They even made the weekend instagram recap collage… #whenyouknowitsright
 Even if they weren’t on sale, they would be worth every penny. My feet have never been cold or wet wearing them. They’ve been on ski trips, in snowball fights, sledding, and even just cruising through my ‘hood with Tango. The recycled rubber sole also helps prevent slipping on the ice. I should know since our sidewalks were one big ice sheet this weekend:

 They’re also cute enough to wear even if you don’t need the technical extras. 
I wore them to dinner and a concert with some leggings Saturday night! 

Top: Forever 21. Pants: Lululemon Wunder Unders. 

Added bonus: The compliments!! I get asked all the time where I got them. 
Which makes the purchase completely vindicated. 

Now I just need to find a pair of boot socks to go with them.
Any suggestions?




*Photography: Tamara.
 Models: Tango and Churchill
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