Tuesday, October 14, 2014

fighting overwhelm, and filling your cup

Last night my friend Kathleen reminded me that it's only been six weeks since I left my full time job. It was a small but extremely impactful wake-up call because I feel like I've been doing this entrepreneur thing FOR SO LONG but in reality I'm just beginning! I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and I need to accept and embrace that newness instead of fighting it and letting it stress me out. The past six weeks have been a complete and utter whirlwind and I feel like I am just now barely starting to get my feet on the ground. Yes, things are going really well so far, but I still fight a daily battle with fear/doubt/anxiety and am overwhelmed by all the things I want to do and "need" to do to establish both my Etsy shop and my health and fitness consulting business. 

I am somewhat of a perfectionist and overachiever, and so I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to be successful...even though i am still trying to define what "success" actually means to me. I am filling my brain with all sorts of motivating and empowering podcasts and books that tell me to "dare greatly," "lean into joy," "live with intention," "YOU are enough." I know all these things are true but it is so hard to find that balance of self-confidence, motivation, drive, and satisfaction in my small daily achievements. It's hard not to get bogged down in the day to day, and to extract myself from my bubble to look back at how far I've come, how much I have right now in this very moment, and how much time I have stretching out in the future in which to accomplish everything I want. 

On top of figuring out my new life as a legit small business owner, I've been involved with three weddings in the past five weeks for my closest friends and sister in law. Talk about emotional overload! I'm trying to be everything to everyone. Be an amazing friend and bridal party member, support and mentor my coaches and team and my clients, market my shop, promote my fitness groups, keep a steady stream of content pouring into my social media accounts, establish a regular blogging schedule (ha. haha), feel "professional" now that my life is my job, stay on top of my own workouts and nutrition, take care of Ben, remember to call my family on a semi-regular basis, stay organized, track expenses, clean the house, sew new scarves, and on and on and on. It's hard for me to mentally unplug and relax because my brain is constantly churning through my next big idea or to-do list. Needless to say this is not the way to live, and I'm trying really hard to establish a routine including work/life boundaries (ha, again). It is slowly starting to happen, I think? I'll let you know in a couple weeks.

Last Thursday I listened to a mini podcast by one of my favorite entrepreneurs and bloggers, Jess Lively, on what to do when you feel overwhelmed. Hello, perfect timing! My main takeaways were to stop thinking about EVERYTHING that needs to happen, and focus on the very next small action step. Action action action. Another and even more important takeaway is that you can't give yourself to others if your own cup isn't full. You need to take care of yourself first. As an introvert in a people-oriented network-based career now, this was something I needed to hear so badly.

So I spent the weekend getting back out into the world, re-focusing on my true priorities (family, friends, faith), and taking time to breathe and fill my Anna Cup. It was amazing, and I can't say that I am completely refreshed and ready to take on the world because I'm still fighting the urge of "I need to catch up on work I didn't do during the days I didn't do work," but I'm learning how to disconnect and take control of my time. 

Friday morning I met my dad, sister, and brother downtown to visit the Dutch consulate and apply for dual citizenship. Taking the L downtown and immersing myself in the frantic busy crush of people headed off to work was exhilarating because I was physically among the crowd, but I didn't have to share that sense of stress and rush that permeates the Loop on a regular weekday morning. I caught up with my brother who I almost never get to see, we all got our photos taken, had coffee, wandered the city a little bit, filled out 29483294 reams of paperwork, and then finished with celebratory lunch and beers. After the rest of the family hit the road back to central Illinois I decided to take a detour on my own way home and stop by the zoo for the first time since my last day six weeks ago. 

As soon as I walked on grounds I felt this immediate sense of calm. Lincoln Park is truly my happy place here in Chicago, and I need to keep cultivating the relationships I've created there, and remember that it is still a huge part of my life. I'm moving on but the people and places that matter most are still right here with me.

On Saturday Ben and I headed out to the burbs to visit the Morton Arboretum. I hadn't been back there either since my last day of work, which was over one and a half YEARS ago. Unacceptable! The Arb is probably my most favorite happy place in all of northern Illinois. In the forests and prairie, I am at home and at peace. 

And I will follow this man down any path life throws in our way.

For so long I've had to use weekends as time to catch up on everything I wasn't able to accomplish during the actual work week, that I have this ingrained habit of treating Sundays as MEGA PRODUCTIVE days in which I need to tackle hundreds of items on the to do list in order to stay afloat. Lots of anxiety and self imposed pressure.

New Reality: I actually have all week to tackle the list...and need to start using Sundays how they were designed to be. A day of rest and renewal. Focus on the present.

Whenever we're in town, Ben and I are making an effort to go to church on Sunday morning. Even though it's tempting to sleep in and waste the morning relaxing and reading, I know that I need to do this because faith is on my top priorities list. Wouldn't you know, the whole service last Sunday revolved around Psalm 23, which I've always thought of as a Pslam to comfort us in times of struggle or darkness. But now I have a greater appreciation of the verses, because they are also a reminder to stop and give glory to God in all the times when life feels overwhelming, even and especially if the overwhelm stems from opportunity and blessings. We need to stop and recognize what we have IN THIS MOMENT. Especially when we have so much. Instead of letting the scarcity mentality of our society and culture affect our motivation (I need more! On to the next! Never enough time! Busybusybusy! More money more happiness!), we need to reflect on what we have been given. The grass might look greener, but that is merely an illusion.

My cup overflows.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chicken and White Bean Chili

One of my favorite fall and winter comfort foods is CHILI! There are so many fun and delicious variations you can concoct, and it's such a filling and healthy complete meal in a bowl. Make a big batch every week and you're set for lunch and weeknight dinners. Happiness is having a big batch of leftover chili marinating in the fridge.

This week's version is a little bit non-traditional but crazy delicious! It cooks up in one pot (hello easy clean up), or you can dump everything in the crockpot and let it cook on low all day.

Chicken and White Bean Chili
Makes approx 6 servings


-1 T olive oil
-1 package chicken breasts
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-2 bell peppers, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
-1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
-2 cans white beans
-4 c low sodium chicken or veggie broth
-1 tsp curry powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp Mrs Dash Chipotle seasoning (or a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 heaping T corn starch

In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the olive oil and cook the chicken until almost done, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic cloves, and sautee 3-4 minutes, until veggies start to soften. Add the diced tomatoes, beans, broth, and seasonings and simmer until heated through (the longer the better!). Dissolve corn starch in 1/4 c cold water, then slowly whisk into the chili. Stir and simmer until the chili thickens slightly.

Serve with cilantro, lime, and your favorite toppings! Bacon, cheese, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream would also be delicious.

[21 Day Fix: 1 cup serving = 1 yellow, 1/2 red, 1 green]

Monday, October 6, 2014

2 years

Today marks two years since the chilly and gloomy October day Ben and I said our vows in the warm light of the chapel at Augustana. I'll always remember the feeling of being surrounded and enveloped by the love of all our closest friends and family. It was by far the happiest and most emotionally powerful day of my life.

So much has happened since then! We've made it through some challenging times, and are now settled into a pretty awesome phase of life. There are lots of unknowns in the future, but we're making the best out of what we have and I feel so lucky to be able to share life with my soul mate.

We've also been living in Chicago for two years now, so to celebrate our anniversary we decided to book a fancy room downtown at the Palmer House and enjoy a mini stay-cation in our city this past weekend. It was so fun to get out of the house and play tourist!

The Palmer House is an opulent and dark oasis in the middle of the loop. Very Gossip Girl. I highly recommend visiting or staying here if you ever get a chance--we found a pretty good deal on Groupon and it was fun to pretend that we were high society. There were SIX weddings going on at the hotel this past weekend, so I like to think that we were October wedding trendsetters.

Hi, husband!

The Chicago River is one of my favorite spots in the entire city, and River North is one of my favorite neighborhoods to go out and about. The views from the river are unbelievably spectacular. Last weekend was a celebration of the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, so they attempted to set these awesome Victorian mansion floats on fire. Apparently it was a huge to-do and then technical difficulties prevented the floats from actually burning....but we missed it anyway because we were drinking fancy cocktails.

Oh Three Dots and a Dash. Indescribable. This underground Tiki Bar has been on my bucket list all summer and I'm so glad we finally made it! Next time we're making a reservation so we can actually eat. This place is crazy busy but we found spots at the bar and enjoyed the most epic tropical cocktails I have ever seen. If I'm ever having a bad day, I'm coming here and ordering a banana daiquiri--it's literally impossible to be sad when you are holding a fake coconut with a happy banana dolphin leaping out of the top.

After a wonderful dinner at Cafe Spiaggia, we crashed early, woke up to an unbelievably gorgeous Sunday, and spent the morning wandering around Millenium Park.

Obligatory cheesy Bean selfie!

Have I mentioned how much I love this city? It has its fair share of problems and issues, but it's just so dang beautiful. 

We finished off our mini-getaway with an epic brunch at Wildberry Pancakes. Something that the Loop is desperately lacking is a good assortment of brunch restaurants! It seems like everyone downtown and their mother and child wanted to eat here, so prepare for a wait. It's worth it though. 

Two years down, many more to go! I am so happy I get to share my life with you, Ben. You make me into a better person and everything truly gets better and better every day. Being able to celebrate the present moment with joy and look towards the future with excitement is the biggest gift I've ever experienced. 
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