Wine-Down to Thirty

Last week was a crazy travel, and literal wine-down to Thirty week.  After a weekend of major celebrating with some of the finest of the Charlottesville crew, I made the trek down to Charlotte for a quick return to reality – work – and LOTS of it.

Thankfully, and on night 2 of my working girl plight, I had this amazing wine from my friend (& MADville member) Juan’s own vineyard in Buenos Aires.  I shared it because I really like my friends, but I would be lying if I didn’t say seeing the bottom of the bottle so quickly made me a little sad.

fuel sweat grow: wine down to 30

The night that will now be known as ‘the night after the wine,’ is one filled with irony because it also included amazing wine and great people – and an actual BirthDAY party.  It’s been a really long time since I celebrated my birthday on the actual day, so it was a little surreal (and special) to come home from work to meet back up with some of my favorite Charlotte friends from work + play.

There’s something very comforting to me about a laughter filled room of amazing women, supporting each other, sharing stories, and connecting beneath the surface layers.  I know how special it is to have so many incredible people in my life – all strong, driven, and phenomenally brilliant in their own ways – and being in such close company would be overwhelming if it weren’t so fulfilling.  My happy place looks a lot like this – wine in hand, happy chatter, thoughtful conversation…. just give me a blanket and a fire and I’ll stay all winter.

As is typical for me when I try to burn the candle at both ends (and since I did a pretty poor job of recovering from the last few weeks) I crashed this weekend and slept more in the next 3 days that I had in the last week.  I guess this is what Thirty looks like.  But you know what? If the company and content in this life can stay on the steady incline, I’m happy to re-charge when it’s needed.

I’m still in Charlotte this week, chomping at the bit to get back to Charlottesville so I can get this little weirdos from their favorite  Nanny.  They may come begrudgingly at first, but I’m certain that after I hug them in super tight and whisper sweet nothings to them over and over while they struggle to get away, we’ll all feel much better.  There’s no place like home, right?

fuel sweat grow: bug and tank

So, cliffs notes on Thirty: so far so good.  I think it’s going to be a slow march up hill for a while, but I’ve been training for it my whole life, so why not just accept the challenge and soldier on.  You with me?

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Thirty Love.

There’s not a day that goes by when I’m not acutely aware of how amazing the people in my life are — and how amazing my life is for that matter.  In a cliche way I often want to say how ‘lucky’ I am, but it’s not about luck — its about these people who make my life full, rich, and never ever (ever) dull.  It’s about the honest and sustaining love and appreciation that is grows out of shared experience, maturity, and compassionate relating….oh, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.

fuel sweat grow: celebrating friend love and birthdays #23to30

I can’t begin to count the number of times (sometimes multiple times a day) I’m overwhelmed by all of the amazing souls in my life.  This weekend was a full one, and kicked off early on Friday night with a sweet gathering of friends in Charlottesville to help me celebrate thirty before I make my way down to Charlotte this week.

fuel sweat grow: 30th Birthday #23to30

Two weeks ago I posted about the amazing and inspiring Wonder Women that make up my tribe and have impacted my growth, and of course, two of them brought the theme to life.  Lisa, who made me an amazing (2nd) Wonder Woman crown, cuffs, and personalized stationary, and Anita (the WW behind Maliha Creations) who made this amazing cake, all clad with power and containing some of the best salted caramel filling (and THE best buttercream) that anyone has ever had.

fuel sweat grow: Maliha creations Wonder Woman Birthday cake

Unconditional love is something we all, hopefully, know when we are born.  It’s an expectation of family, good or bad, and something that we all strive to replicate when we cultivate our adult relationships.  It can be hit or miss –  I’ve learned this over time – but the evolution seems to be within ourselves, and as we grow that love in our relationship with ourselves, the external relationships seem to follow suit.   It took me until my late twenties to understand and more fully live this concept, and I’m declaring this the theme of my thirties;- universal, full, unconditional, and boundary-less love of myself and relationships of quality, not quantity.

It has really been in the last 5 years that I’ve learned how to really build my tribe; I’ve learned what I’m looking for (and conversely, what I’m not looking for) in the people and environments I surround myself with.  It has been a process, but I’ve learned (and still am learning) to be unapologetically true to myself and what I want to achieve, living by no one else’s timeline or values.  Thanks to my people, I finally feel the solid ground underneath me that helps to give me the confidence and stability to openly enter this next decade.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend so special to me — there’s definitely more to come on the details (read: incriminating ridiculous photos) clearly defining why it was so awesome.  I’ve got 4.5 days left of 29, and you better believe I’m going to squeeze out every last drop — but just for the sake of finishing it out strong.  I’m ready for you thirties, I think I might already be in love with you.

My Tribe: Wonder Women + The Countdown to Thirty

Two weeks ago one of our first ever MADville clients, and a pretty freaking awesome professor at UVa, Lisa, made/gave me this Wonder Woman mug for my coffee, of course personalized with my name on it.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman VAL

If you know Lisa, you know that in addition to being an amazing super woman/mom/human who makes her family’s clothes and works out at MAD Cville almost every day at 6am, she’s also the now incredibly renowned and cutting edge Professor at UVa who teaches the Game of Thrones course that caused so much chatter this past summer.  (I mean it…you can check out more about it in these articles from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone...and even Perez Hilton. There are more, but I think this sampling proves my point.)

Aside from just loving Lisa for all of her unique badassery, I also love her as a part of this amazing tribe of strong, brilliant, and driven women that I’ve been so lucky to surround myself with, and this coffee mug symbolizes that in so many ways.  I’m so grateful for all my Wonder Women.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman

Today is the first day of my Birthday month, which I love, but there’s a slightly different vibe this year.  This year marks year thirty of my life — which I’ve realized I’m much more comfortable spelling out than showing in digits.  While I do feel the full weight of the manufactured milestone that thirty signifies, when think back to 25 and realize that it was just 5 years ago, I feel both slightly exhausted by the multiple life evolutions that I’ve gone through in that short time, and liberated from the weight and struggle of ‘the twenties.’

When I turned 25 I remember telling myself that at thirty I wanted to look better, feel better, and be better than I was at that moment in time.  In the last 5 years I’ve pushed myself, I’ve grown, I’ve built things that I’ve loved and things that I haven’t, but I’ve learned from every moment of it.  I’ve put myself out there, I’ve confronted fears and learned more about loving myself for what pieces of my experience I own.  I’ve walked knowingly into conflict, stood toe to toe with ignorance, and I’ve embraced more vulnerability than I thought my anxiety (or mind) would allow me to.   I not only survived it all, but I’m better for it.  I’m the better version of my 25 year old self that I committed to, and while the road was certainly more challenging than I may have ‘hoped’ for, it got me here, and I am better than fine.

My birthday is the 23rd, and in this final 22 day stretch to the next decade, I’m going to share the top lessons from the last 5 years of growing into adult hood in my own countdown to thirty.

So today on Day 1 of my #23to30 push I’m appreciating the strong women – the peers and role models – who inspire me, empower me, and fill my heart up with the courage and self-assurance to push my goals forward. In a world where competition and insecurity are so prevalent, it’s important to celebrate the soul connections of those who make you better, love you, and not only support what you’ve accomplished to date but also what you’re building towards – flaws and all.  We all need each other, and there’s something so amazingly beautiful about the possibilities when we all work together to create a collective legacy that goes beyond our ‘portfolio’ of work, to bring the power and influence to empower the next generation of women.

So to my own Wonder Women, near and far, thanks for being exactly who/what you are, and for being a part of my own development over the last 5, 10, and 29.99 years.  You’re everything.

Weekend Lesson: Drinks > Organizational Bins

I love organization.  I’m not sure if it helps or hurts that I have a compulsive organizational purchasing addiction… but I’m starting to believe it might be the latter.

My main goal this weekend was to finish unpacking and organizing my house to reinstate my sanity, and hopefully reduce my overall sense of anxiety.   The big things are always easy to get set up – furniture, TVs, books….major and limited quantity items (including all things kitchen).  They get packed most systematically, and are easy to unpack — giving the first senses of home in a new and strange place.  It’s the little stuff – like ALL the clothes and jewelry – that linger causing complete and total chaos when I can’t find what I’m looking for.

Somewhere along the way I began compulsively buying organizational bins, organizers, hangers, milk crates, office supplies, and pretty much anything that can hold many smaller things, or breed the idea that if you own them, things will magically be organized and minimalistic. I own no less than about 20 Ball Jars, and I don’t really know why.

Just a few of the jars in my life. Barney Butter just an accessory.

Friday night was the start to my weekend of re-org, and despite not having a hammer to hang my wall art, I still managed to get the ball rolling with some minor furniture moving and office file thinning.  A productive start.  By Saturday afternoon I was in full neurotic force.  Drawers were pulled out, corners were vacuumed, papers and all the ‘non-essential’ items were thrown out.  Empowered with my sense of increasing accomplishment, I made a list of other errands I’ve been putting off  — which included finally picking out new glasses, and making some returns.  A great plan — until I realized that one of the items was actually from HomeGoods, the perpetual black hole for my existence and the source of my growing addiction.  I’m pretty sure if there were a HomeGoods loyalty program I would hold platinum VIP status — but there’s not, so I’m more likely to end up in HomeGoods anonymous (or living on the street in a ‘reclaimed’ fort made of bins and milk crates).

fuel sweat grow: office organization

Once I walk through the doors I lose complete sense of time, space, and all things rational.  I know it’s wrong, but I just can’t help myself.  Do I need another cutting board? No, but what if someday I do?  More file boxes? I mean, it is tax season; I’m certain that somehow they would actually end up saving me money.  And pillows?  Don’t get me started on pillows.  After 5 minutes I was nearly comatose, slowly and numbly walking down the isles, mentally fitting all of my things into new organizational structures and re-setting the general color scheme of my life.  And then it happened.

My phone went off, bringing me back to the full reality that it was 6pm on a Saturday and I was buying bins.  I stared at my phone in disbelief for about ten seconds, and then, as if out of a movie, I made a grown-up (that’s stretching it) and rational decision to let go of the cart and walk away.  I walked out of HomeGoods without putting anything in my cart  – not a thing.  It was both liberating and terrifying.  As I walked (read: ran) out the door I knew I had to keep moving forward – blinders on.

The ladies of craft night had come together to celebrate a birthday – a plan that I had somehow forgotten amidst my organizational craze, and I was going to be late. I became fully aware of how badly I needed to interact with other human beings, away from responsibility, work, and anything more serious than college basketball and laughter filled stories about life’s little ironies.

Fuel sweat grow: Jackelope Jacks
Angry Orchard Cider on Draft @ Jackelope Jacks

Granted, we were only out for a couple of hours, and god knows I can’t stay out for any period of time after the double digits, but we had a few good drinks and a lot of great conversation.  Not everything can be planned and organized into bins — ‘everything’ being life, and all of the good, bad, and funny that it includes.  I needed these drinks to save me from HomeGoods, a night of compulsive closet-organization, and most of all, from myself.  And it worked.

Today I was able to pick up where I left off, sans HomeGoods, and made some serious progress with my to-do list.  I still have more to do, but I’m not going to sweat it.  I don’t need any more bins or random house wares, just a few focused hours to finish things off, and a good number of breaks with friends and laughter to remind me what’s really important when I forget.