A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

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To My Dearest Shannon,

You are 16 years old. A sophomore in high school. Continually worried about boys, grades, your size, and still figuring out who you are. I want to tell you that I am proud of you and I love you.

I am proud of you for doing so well in high school (you graduate at the top of your class). But it’s really not the grades that matter. It’s the fact that the classes you took, the effort you put into your coursework truly shaped your future work ethic. You are passionate. You get what you want. Maybe not on the first, second, or even third attempt, but ultimately if you continue to work hard and work towards a goal you can almost always achieve it.

Thanks for investing your time and energy into your friends. The people you surround yourself with now are so good, so genuine, and will continue to be your dearest friends through college and into young adulthood.

You are beautiful. I know you are sad that you aren’t tall and lean. But you are truly gorgeous. I want you to love your athletic build, and your long, thick, sun-kissed hair. You are stunning in your own way, and I want you to relish in the beauty of your youth, for it is ever-fleeting.

You’ve met your future husband. It’s crazy, but it’s true! Learn from him, soak him up, and be kind. Listen to his stories, adopt his patience, and enjoy your pure love and affection for one another. You’ll realize how rare your relationship is in the future. Grow with him, love him, take each other on adventures, and continue to make memories together.

Shannon. You are great. You are smart, and strong-willed. Don’t be jealous of others. Continue to laugh, love, and go to innocent house parties. Enjoy your friendships, long nights with long walks accompanied by long talks. Live your youth. Don’t grow up too fast.

Much love and affection,

23 Year Old You

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4 Feelings While Watching the Golden Globes

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Just an FYI, I have a lot of thoughts and feelings and opinions about a lot of things. This is my space to express said opinions. That being said, continue reading if you so desire to know about my thoughts on the Golden Globes.

1. Envy

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Oh my god. That dress, those earrings, the makeup! Please gimme all of it, pleaseeee. I don’t know where in the world I would wear any of the MANY stunning gowns I saw the other night, but I know I want, nay, NEED them.

2. Disbelief

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How on earth is your arm the size of my index finger? I am not trying to body shame in any sense of the word, but I can tell you that these actresses (not actors), have all lost about 20 pounds in the last 5-10 years. Which would be cool if they needed to lose weight for health reasons, but they all look bony, malnourished, bobble heads. And they were just as beautiful as they are now.

3. Anger

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Why the f*ck do I support the entertainment industry? An industry that demands a woman’s weight remain as close to double digits as humanly possible? I don’t blame the women who are clearly victims of a thin-obsessed culture that is perpetuated by…well I don’t know who is behind it. You? Me? “The Man?” It’s clearly not one person, and I’m really hoping we, as an entire society of human beings, shift our beauty ideals away from starvation and towards healthy weights and behaviors.

4. Self-loathing

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This brings me to my final point. After watching a solid hour of red carpet coverage where women were praised for their tiny bodies, I couldn’t help but feel like my own 5’4″ 140 pound frame was inadequate. That I, a strong, bright, fit woman should dwindle my weight down to as much as humanly possible. It’s this feeling that worries me most. Also, these 21 year olds have more money now than I will ever have in my entire life on Earth… Cool. 

On a lighter note: S/O To Brie Larson and her very well deserved win for Room!

So as we can both derive from my feelings, I should probably stop watching Award Shows.

But, when are the Oscars…?

Whole 30: Week 1

Whole 30 Week 1

Hello friends! I’m one week into my Whole 30 challenge and I’m feeling pretty great 🙂

Food 

Breakfasts: I made a really nasty egg bake that I tried eating the first 2 days, but it was so disgusting I had apples with almond butter the rest of the work week. It was nice to have time during the weekend to make scrambled eggs, avocado, chicken sausage (whole foods) and honeydew

Lunches: I cooked up a giant batch of grilled chicken and sweet potatoes to bring to work. I also had some carrots, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I’m pretty tired of that, so I’m going to switch it up this week.

Dinners:  For protein I had chicken with salsa, fried eggs, steak, shrimp, and ground beef. Veggies consisted of zucchini, potatoes (really more of a carb), broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and mushrooms.

Feelings

Peaks: This week wasn’t too hard, maybe because it was the first week but the plan seems like it’ll be pretty manageable. I never went through the “detox” phase #blessed, and I always felt pretty full between meals. As a constant snacker, this was a big win for me. My workouts were also pretty solid, and I’ve been completing my usual 2.5-3 mile runs with ease, not sure if it’s related to whole 30, but I’ll just say that it is. Also my stomach is already looking flatter to me (placebo effect?).

Pits: Not gunna lie, I had some cravings, but I always have cravings that I’m pretty good at ignoring. I really missed bread and cheese sticks. This weekend sans drinking was a bit sad (I MISS YOU WINE!), but my sister and her boyfriend are doing it too, which definitely helps #StrengthInNumbers.

I’ve already gone grocery shopping for week 2, and I’m excited to try some new recipes. Can’t wait to see how I feel post week 2 (praying I avoid the “bloated” phase.

Happy Birthday to Me: 23!

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I’ve mentioned it a few times on here, but I am lucky enough to call myself a twin. There are a lot of perks to having a person who shares your DNA, your face, and YOUR BIRTHDAY! I don’t know if you all have realized it, but no one is quite as excited to celebrate your birthday as you (duh). BUT when you have a twin, they are equally as excited as you! Double the birthday, double the fun – ya know?! For this post I want to do some reflecting, and give you 23 life lessons I’ve learned in my lifetime.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
  2. Appreciate the things people do for you. 
  3. Make new friends.
  4. Put an effort to keep in contact with the people you enjoy being around. It’s worth it.
  5. Try really hard to be optimistic. (forever working on this)
  6. Radiate good vibes and positive energy. ~channelling inner flower child~
  7. Take pleasure in little moments.
  8. Be silly.
  9. Learn constantly, about lots of things. 
  10. Have an opinion.
  11. Speak your mind (but don’t be an asshole about it).
  12. Stop worrying about how much you weigh.
  13. But take care of your body. Run around, eat some veggies, and call it a day.
  14. Be nice.
  15. Keep problems in perspective. Lots of things aren’t as bad as they initially seem.
  16. Stop worrying, no one really has their shit figured out.
  17. Social media is a highlights reel. 
  18. Take candid pictures.
  19. Clothing: invest in staples, bargain shop for trends.
  20. Don’t apologize for liking the things you like.
  21. Be open to new things.
  22. Go on adventures: big & small.
  23. Remember that relationships are the most important things of the human experience. 

I hope this list can inspire you, if even just a little tiny bit. And I’m going to do my best to take my own advice. 🙂

Here’s to another great year!

Thoughts & Feelings: The Wedding Industry

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This one goes out to all my past brides, brides-to-be, and anyone else who will be throwing a giant-ass party to celebrate the greatest human emotion – unconditional love.

One would think that such a pure and heartfelt event like a wedding would be mirrored by the industry that surrounds it. But you’d be wrong. Like really, really wrong. The entire industry is one HUGE up-charge. Venues clear well-over 5k, photographers are another 2.5k (minimum), and don’t even get me started on filming your special day. Want to feed your guests with tasty food? And maybe even give them a place to sit? – it’ll cost you about the same as a used car (if not more).

I’m only in the beginning stages of wedding planning, and I want it to be really fun! I want it to be a silly adventure, and I want the entire process to be like one longgg day dream. But, as the song goes “you can’t always get what you want.”

So please send good vibes, cash moneyz, or your services free of charge (looking at you photographers).

K thanks.

Thoughts & Feelings: Young Love

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I made a new friend when I was 16, I started dating him at 17, I fell in love with him when I was 18, and now here we are – 22 and 23, and engaged.

Gauging by different reactions people have had to our big news, I can tell some of them are a little weary of the idea of getting married “so young.” But here’s my beef with that, Logan and I got lucky, we really did! We aren’t the same people we were at 16, and neither is our relationship. Sometimes you meet an awesome someone that you can grow up alongside, mature into adults together, and create wonderful memories with. And that’s what I found.

Our relationship isn’t complacent, nor are we “settling” for a high school love. Our relationship has had it’s set of challenges: we grew up in cities an hour and a half from each other and did long distance for not one, but two years. We eventually were in the same place for 3 years in college, and then we moved abroad and taught english in Spain for a year. We’ve traveled the world together, lived together, and even adopted our lil cat child together. We know each other inside and out, and I am really really really excited to keep on keepin’ on & marry this dude.

So, while I can (kind of) understand people’s concerns about us being young, I’m here to tell you that you can worry about something more worthwhile, because we got this love thing down pat.

5 Little Feelings | Post Engagement

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1. Excited!

I’m so so so excited that I’m engaged to my BFF. It’s kind of crazy that he’ll be my husband pretty soon (no, we don’t have a date yet). I can already tell this engagement time will be SO fun! I can’t wait for all of the memories and celebrations this next year has in store for us.

2. Loved

The amount of love and support the fiance and I have received since our engagement has been nothing short of amazing. I feel so loved by all of my friends and family. Literally the best feeling.

3. Overwhelmed

So I guess we have to plan a wedding now… How does one even plan a wedding?! Hahaha, I’m sure once we get the venue it’ll be a lot less daunting.

4. Lucky

Feeling lucky that I found someone who loves me so much that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. We came into each other’s lives so long ago, and have really grown up alongside each other, I just feel so lucky to have met such an amazing dude.

5. Giddy

Every time someone asks me to tell the engagement story, or gushes over my ring, I can’t help but feel SO giddy about it. I catch myself picturing myself walking down the aisle with my dad, exchanging mushy, meaningful vows with Logan, and celebrating a huge day with all of my favorite people. It’s just so freaking exciting!

Thoughts & Feelings: Starting a New Job

I recently started my first “big girl” job (going on week 3). So now that I’m a seasoned vet, I wanted to share some of my first thoughts and feelings about new beginnings (career wise).

1. Butterflies in your tum tum

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I think everyone goes through this phase, right….? Starting your first day is a little nerve-wracking. Especially when it’s your first full-time job, and you don’t really know what it’s like to be an actual employee. Doubts start sinking into your mind: will my team like me? will I be able to keep up? will I like my job?!

2. Super excited 

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After the nerves pass, you start to get excited about all the possibilities! New friends, new work environment, and lots of learning are in your future.

3. A teensy bit overwhelmed

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You’ll be trained (hopefully), and then it’s off to fulfill your duties. It’s easy to feel a little bit overwhelmed with all of your new responsibilities. But don’t worry, because you’ll totally get the hand of it!

4. Realizing you’re a perfect fit

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Hopefully as time goes on you’ll see that you’re a perfect fit for the company, on your team, and in your role!

Tell me about your first few weeks at a job!

Thoughts & Feelings: Favorite Fall Memories

Like most people, I am completely obsessed with fall! The crisp autumn air, layering scarves & sweaters, warm soups, the changing leaves, how could you not love this season? As I’ve said before, I’m a fairly nostalgic person, so as this new season begins I can’t help but look back at some of my all-time favorite fall memories.

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* During my first fall in college my siblings and I came home for my mom’s birthday & went on a photo shoot for her present (she LOVED it). I still love looking back at these awesome pictures of all of us together!

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* The boyfriend and I started a fall date tradition of apple picking back in 2009, and we’ve done it ever since! We used to go to this little apple orchard in a Wisconsin town close to our college, but now that we aren’t going to school in Whitewater we’ll have to find a new place to get our pickin on!

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* Another autumn tradition during the college years was coming down to Chicago to visit my sister for the weekend. We always did lots of fall activities (coffee shop hopping, baking, shopping, and Halloween parties galore). There’s nothing quite like fall in the city.

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* Friendsgiving! We were a little ahead of the popularity curve of this event, because we started planning Friendsgivings in 2009, and have continued celebrating it with our high school buddies ever since. Since we’ve all grown up and gone our separate ways it’s really nice to have a day where we can all catch up.

What are some of your favorite fall memories?

Thoughts & Feelings: Anxiety

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I don’t know if this is considered “too personal” for an internet post, maybe this better belongs in a secret real-life journal that I can keep tucked away in a safe drawer, but I think a lot of people feel this way. And who doesn’t like a healthy dose of honesty?

I’ve had a lot of experience with anxiety in my life. I don’t know if it’s some predisposition I have, or if my anxious feelings are a result of the driven/perfectionist/all-or-nothing culture the US seems to radiate. Or maybe I’m simply a bit of a worry wart. Regardless, I wanted to share what some of my anxious feelings actually feel like to me.

1. A bit of a pessimist 

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I don’t like admitting that I see the glass half empty, but it’s true. I often find myself expecting the worst, and worrying about the thousands of ways everything can go wrong. When I have these feelings I do have to consciously remind myself to think more like an optimist, and imagine some positive outcomes as well (those exist right?).

2. Constant doubt

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Did I lock the door? Did I pay my bill? Did I put my phone/wallet/keys back in my purse? I have these almost crushing feelings of doubt a lot. Thankfully they’re usually about really minuscule things, because I’m super confident about my intelligence, skills, relationships, and big life choices.

3. Nerve nerve about the new

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Meeting new people, starting a new job, adopting a new pet. I think a lot of people can relate to this point, because new experiences are kind of naturally fear-inducing. When I feel really nervous about something new I always try to bring it back in to perspective and remind myself of the grand scheme of things. New things are kinda scary, but mostly really exciting.

I know a lot of people deal with these feelings. While life can seem a little overwhelming at times I’m going to try and take some deep breaths and dive right in.