A Week of Travel, Organization, Work, and Feng Shui MADness

Life lately has been a little bit of everything; it’s been the good, the bad, the ugly, the exhausted, the energized — and all the things in between.  My instagram feed would detail the below as the highlights, but it hardly captures the ‘all’ that it entails.  So, join me as I head back to the chronicles, and warm the blog back up in tandem with the newly launched website/blog for b:core where you’ll be hearing from me, some of our favorite partners, and of course, our teachers.  We’ve got a lot to say, me especially, so I’m pretty excited to welcome in the hibernation and existential thought producing season that winter is.fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

Last week I was in Charlotte for work, which is always a little bit of an adjustment to my personal time and life management style. Somehow I always forget how crazy the traffic has become since I first moved there in 2009, and just how unbelievably convenient life in Charlottesville is with everything falling within a 1 mile radius and 5-10 minute commute – tops.  Running in line with that is just how much I love my #sweatIX compound, and all of the things that keep my life motoring along [almost] effortlessly now that we’ve got all the tacos and coffee that we could handle.

After a full week of all things work, and some mid-week celebrations for the MADabolic CLT 4 year anniversary, I could not have been more ready to head back home — of course with a 10 foot box truck filled with all the favorite things that filled the Charleston MAD apartment for the last 6 months.  For whatever reason, come Saturday morning, my exhaustion turned a corner (or came full circle) and in a post-interval craze I felt compelled to begin what can only be classified as an all-day over[u]haul of MADcville and b:core methods to bring all the happiness and warmth to the spaces, and my sanity. [And this is where I’d like to thank West Elm and HomeGoods for always being there, powering my home decor and nesting addiction, and being ever so clutch in my life – here and everywhere. I love you.]

And here it is, my home away from home, my work-day office, and the #sweatIX think tank where all the decisions are made and grand ideas are launched (or decidedly not).

fuel sweat grow: office juju home decor

fuel sweat grow: Office organization and MADcville

It might not seem like a lot, but it has truly changed my whole world — and while I don’t really go around spouting about feng shui per say, my environment and it’s set up makes the full difference in how productive (and happy) I am.  There are few things I love more than a good scorch and burn of closets and living spaces to make room for organizational bins and everything HomeGoods, so this was probably the best possible way for me to close out a long week.

Oh, and this: FREE coffee being served up outside of Whole Foods on Sunday thanks to Allegro Coffee Company and their #FLXBUS.

fuel sweat grow: Allegro Coffee bus #FLXbus

At b:core we’ve been slowly but surely adding all the things that make it feel the appropriate winter level of warm and welcoming, and over the last few weeks we made a few updates that have majorly contributed to our love affair with the sweeter, softer, and very deceptively [not so] gentle side of the building and it looks a little like this:

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods cville barre studio and core life

Our teacher photos are hung, happy, and will soon all come to life with some more never been seen shots as we release our teacher features on the blog.
fuel sweat grow: b:core methods teacher photos

Just to add a little to the ‘everything’ theme of the weekend, we also went to Red Shoe Cville’s AMAZING Rocktoberfest at the IX art park on Saturday Night, and it was so. much. fun.  Next year we are certainly all going to rock out at this event, so stay tuned for my full recap and launch of the really amazing opportunities and experiences that are about to come to life through this partnership.

fuel sweat grow: Red Shoe Cville ROCKTOBERFEST

So now, I’m just slowly recovering from a week of the non-stop in a city so far from the quiet convenience of this small Cville town, and I’m doing it from my newly happy-fied office in this place that owns my heart at it’s core.

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Bonus Days, Planners, and Time in the Kitchen

There’s not much better than a rainy Sunday, unless of course if half way through the day you realize that it’s actually Saturday and for a moment feel like you’ve just won life.  In summary, this weekend is turning out perfectly, by accident.

As we close out September and welcome in fall, I’ve got a few mini goals that I’ve been working on to re-adjust and get the balance back in my life — relatively speaking.  The first of which is time organization with a side of pseudo inner peace.

Balancing all the businesses, the corporate grind, and all life things, has been a little more than a little challenging lately.  Throw in the added stress of all having different location anchors and travel schedules, my planner(s) transformed from being the source of my happiness and forward movement into an anxiety ridden scribble pad that I dreaded looking at.  To add insult to injury I managed to spill a coffee [directly] into my bag last month soaking both planners, so there was no denying that the end was near.  This week new hope was born in the form of a new Emily Ley Simplified [day] Planner.

fuel sweat grow: emily key simplified planner

fuel sweat grow: Emily Ley Planner

I’m pretty much in love with it, so here’s to hoping I can refrain from using my bag as a sink drain in 2016 and my planner and I can survive a full year of happiness before it’s retired for the 2017 version.

Since I’m still a few months out from being able to take pen-to-planner, I’m focusing on doing a few little things each day to help calm the chaos, and bring strength to the systems and structure that I’ve always relied on to get shit done.

The most important thing I’ve been missing lately is cooking + meal planning, both of which are coming back strong this fall — with a little Whole Damn Thing 80/20 action happening over the next few weeks and the real deal kicking off on January 3rd at MADcville and b:core.

Until then, I’ve been back at it on my own, filling in the gaps where I can, and taking the time out for a little culinary therapy and meal planning to bring me back, somewhat, to the center that I’ve been missing.  Breakfast is always where it’s at for me, and I’m an adult convert to over-easy eggs and loving it over my favorite kale slaw.

fuel sweat grow: eggs and kale slaw

I even had a little veggie meal earlier this week that is pretty far out of my typically zone, but my body was craving brown rice hard so I mixed it with some stir fried peppers and onions with a side of goodwood brewing‘s bourbon barrel stout, which was a killer combo.

fuel swat grow: veggie stir fry and stout

This week’s main goal is to finalize some of the month-end organization, and get solidly set for the month so I can shut down every night by 8:30 and read (non-work reading) until I fall asleep, which will hopefully be sometime around 9pm…but I’m willing to be flexible on that detail.  Thankfully my 10 year old life coach and boss lady is going to be squatting in the house for a few days and I’m counting on her to call me out on all the things I’m missing on — she’s got a real eye for inefficiencies.

So here’s to leveraging bonus days, planners, and time in the kitchen to make October the amazing month it can be all around.

5 Commitments for Balance + Productivity

It’s Sunday night, and once again as we stand at the close of this week and the start of the next, I keep coming back to the same thought: the weekends are too short.

fuel sweat grow: weekend days

It’s not that I necessarily need more rest — I’m not sure if the weekends are actually better for that these days.  My focus has been on trying to do less constant gear shifting,  and getting into a better rhythm of taking things to completion without a constant emphasis on multi-tasking.

It sounds somewhat like an oxymoron, but what I’m really going for is organized and balanced structure.  Organization in my environment, structure in my schedule, and a combination of the two when it comes to my calendars and work streams.  Time blocking is my best friend, and OneNote is my deepest passion — the only thing that I’ve been putting a little on the back burner is the food part.

It’s really not common for me to ever cook anything that isn’t Paleo, whole30, or 28toLife friendly because I’m just so used to it by now that I don’t really even know what I would cook otherwise.  What I’ve been slacking a little on lately is meal prep and planning, keeping things interesting and not monotonous, as well as doing actual at-home cooking.  The emphasis on restaurants and my red wine security blanket to get through these last four weeks of winter brutality has thrown me and my system off a little — so it’s time to re-organize, re-structure, and re-energize ALL the aspects of my life(style) and not just the work pieces.

So here are 5 things I’m doing on Monday to kick off the week:

1.  Email Organization. By the end of the week my email is usually out of control, so it’s helpful to start off monday morning not only clearing out the lingering unread messages, but also following up on anything that may not have been urgent at the moment but needs to be actioned.

2. Create a list of 5 action items to tackle each day before the first meeting of each day.  They can all be small milestones towards a bigger task, or completely unrelated, but I always like to start with the things that I either keep putting off or struggle to remember once I get caught up in the day.

3. Set a sweat schedule.  My daily schedule doesn’t always appear conducive to a regular fitness schedule, but my lifestyle is intertwined with it, so taking the time to be intentional not only with my schedule, but also the balance, brings me both sanity and a structure I can work around.

4. Plan meals out + go to the store.  I usually do this on Sundays and spend the afternoon prepping a number of different meals for the week, but with the craziness that has been filling up my weekend days lately, this can sometimes fall onto a Monday. And that’s exactly what’s happening this week.  I’ve got a little ‘whole damn thing’ spin-off brewing inside my head, so stay tuned for those updates coming soon, and as always, please join me.

5. Commit to down time.  This is everything right here — it’s the thing that constantly gets compromised or squeezed out, and it’s the most important part of the whole.  When I’m not zoned in on getting something done, or hyper conscious of my every-loving and constantly growing to-do list, every thing seems to become more clear.  When I slow down my mind is able to wander, creativity is heightened, and ideas generate at a faster and more connected way than normal.  It’s a 2015 priority for me, and it certainly deserves it’s space in my week.

So here’s to the start of this week, of March, and the hopeful ascent in temperatures and vitamin D. It all has to circle back at some point.

By the Grace of Coffee, this MAD week is ON

I know that there are 7 full days in a week, but somehow it always seems to be Sunday night.

IMG_7115

That was the thought that led off this post when I started it late Sunday.  Now it’s late Tuesday, proving two things: another couple of days have slipped past, each closer to Sunday’s return, and I’m constantly up, working, organizing, and writing late at night.  C’est la vie, I suppose, because if I’ve learned anything in the last 30 odd (literally) years of my life, it’s that I function best when in constant motion…as long as I’ve got some sense of organization and structure bracing my schedule.

Which of course leads us to food.  When things are crazy, but still functional, it’s usually a sign that I’ve made time for grocery shopping and cleared some therapy time in the kitchen.  I’ve been in the habit lately of hitting two grocery spots for different items: trader joe’s for produce and the general staples (coconut milk, coconut oil, almond butter, etc) and Whole Foods for the rest (avocados, meat, eggs).  It’s 100% a cost thing for making the two stops, because that’s obviously the only thing that can trump the convenience of Whole Foods, but the difference is substantial.  That’s not to say, however, that I don’t still impulse buy at Whole Foods.  It happens all the time, lately with my new favorite salad add-on: microgreens.

fuel sweat grow: sunflower and basil microgreens

I’m a sampler.  If you offer me a sample and it looks like something I would possibly eat (greens, soup, chili…anything but fish) I’m going to try it.  A year or so ago that habit led me to discover Keswick Gourmet, which has since become a favorite cooking staple; so obviously I’m a target market of sorts.  Last week as I walked into Whole Foods there was a sample table with these microgreens (sunflower and basil) dressed with light olive oil and sea salt.  Um, yes please (I bought two).  I played around a little with it for dinner, added some almonds, and ultimately mixed it in with romaine, some cucumbers, and other ever-loving salad add-ons.

On the stovetop I sautéed 2lbs of ground beef with onion (in coconut oil) and mixed the zoodles/spiralized zucchini right in there to soften slightly and soak up all the flavor. There’s a chance this might be my new favorite quickie meal….but I could just be caught up in the moment.

fuel sweat grow: ground beef zoodlesThe full meal looked like this and was arguably just as good as lunch leftovers, so again, if you have time to make more than you can eat, do it.  You’ll be thankful later.

fuel sweat grow: micro green salad and ground beef zoodles

This was exactly the right way (for me) to start the week, a structural component that has contributed to a pretty packed and productive week –  so far.  The other main contributor has been getting myself up (by the grace of coffee) for the 6 or 7am classes at MAD three mornings a week so I can relax and work without a deadline or a super packed end of the day.  It has been everything.

So, what have we learned here?  Coffee + early morning MADness + all the sunflower basil microgreens you can handle = an amazing start to a grey winter week.

A Head-down, Strategy in Focus, Hard March Kind of Week

There’s nothing like the start of an up hill week to keep you humble.  It’s an amazing thing how Friday can bring such a natural tapering of events and urgency, but Monday never fails to re-open the flood gates.  C’est la vie, I suppose.  Which brings me to #23to30 guideline #6:

fuel sweat grow: humble mondays

 

Over the last year I’ve tried to routinize myself enough to set aside a chunk of time on Mondays for circling back on loose ends and setting a basic plan for the next 5 days.  It’s always humbling, and somewhat overwhelming, to look at the full list of to-do’s, so I like to take a moment (coffee in hand, in immediate route to belly) to make an execution plan.  Workload isn’t something that scares me – believe me, I love to work and I’m terrible at vacation – but I have to have a plan or even smallest sense of organization and structure.  I need a strategy for how and why I am doing things and big picture approach –  without that, I suffer from what feels like a severe adult case of no-freaking-focus syndrome.  I’m pretty sure that’s not an actual ‘medical’ diagnosis, but it should be, because I think all my friends have had it at one time or another (we’re probably just passing it back and forth via viral emails and Facebook posts).

The reality is, no mater what, I’ll eventually get it all done, but I’d prefer to not waste my time (or others’) to get there.  Whether it’s work, life, or a combination therein, it all seems to be about perspective and and vision.  When both of those things are present in the foundation, it’s not so hard to deal with the unexpected, or adjust on the fly.  All in stride, and all with a deep breath, and all with trusty cup of coffee (or beautiful glass of wine).

So far this week has required many moments of pause, coffee drinking, and list-making….and the fact that it’s not even half way over should probably scare me, but thankfully the careful structure of my sweat schedule has added an extra precautionary layer to boost my mental preparedness.

We wrapped up MAD cardio week on Sunday with the longest, most grueling, and most intense hamstring and glute interval that I had felt in a while, so I took today as a rest day with the full-on commitment to my sweats for the rest of the week, as follows:

Tuesday: MADabolic

Wednesday: MADabolic

Thursday:  Run + kettlebells + band stretch (yep, i’ll be posting this)

Friday: MADabolic + Stretch

Saturday: MADabolic + foam rolling / stretch

Sunday: REST.

This weeks focus is a head down, strategy in focus, and a hard march on toward the end-zone as a restart to this final quarter.  The holidays are coming sooner than we think, and it’s time to get prepped, so who’s with me? I’ve got barely three weeks until I turn 30 and you better believe that 29 is going to finish out stronger than it started….and this year has certainly been a big one so it’s go time.

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.