Fall, You’re my Jam.

October is my jam, more specifically.  It’s the month of all the colors, of the crispest fall air (before winter starts to loom), of all things pumpkin, the return of lattes and the beginning of the cold weather nesting.  There’s nothing I love more than settling into regular supper clubs, friendsgiving gatherings, recipe collections, and more focused gratitude for all of the amazingness in our lives.

It’s not that the rest of the year doesn’t have all these things (except, pumpkin since it definitely peaces out), but there’s a different sense of calm as the weather begins to turn, and this year I’m more than ready to embrace it.

Life lately has looked a lot like this, with even more crazy planning, fall organizational efforts, and big exciting news (to come soon) than can’t be captured in only so many pictures:
fuel sweat grow: life lately instagram @valeriemorini

At b:core we’re settling in to our systems and structure, just in time to get ready to launch our cardio component, which take the intensity of barre up about ten notches, with the most structured, athletic, and bad ass functional cardio compliment than you can get.  Our MAD folks complimenting their lifestyle with b:core will be pushed to their heart’s content with this hybrid method, and our barre athletes will get that extra level of functional and full movement to increase strength, endurance, and overall activation of those fast-twitch muscles.   Translation: get ready to start your engines, friends.

Also, get pumped to grab some LUMI juice after class, fresh from our fridge. We’ve narrowed down to some of our favorite flavors (it was harder than it sounds) and can’t wait to share the juice love.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods LUMI juice

Our website and blog launch is happening this week after much back and forth, development, and thought, so stay tuned, we can’t wait to share the voice of our #corelife.

On the MADabolic side we just started a new program cycle (welcome to durability month, my friends!) and are in a state of constantly evolving with our communities and demand, so it goes without saying that there’s some pretty exciting phases of MADness coming at us soon.  We also finally have some of our sweet new merch in, most notably our new trucker hats from our partnership with Big Truck Brand.  Big Truck Brand is an awesome company, and rather than offering wholesale accounts for typical merch, they choose to partner with the brands they represent on their hats, and hand pick which companies and brands they’re willing to be partnered with.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic MADlifestyle Big Truck Brand Hats

Needless to say we’re pretty stoked to have these guys are digging our #MADlifestyle and are letting us share their sweet hats with our community.  There are four different styles, but only a few left in total, so if you haven’t snagged yours GET.IT.NOW.  [If you post a pic of you living your MADlifestyle with your Big Truck Brand hat [and tag #MADlifestyle & #BigTruckBrand] you’ve got a pretty awesome chance of winning $100 to MAD from MADabolic corporate and getting another $100 matched by us to either Cville or Charleston.]

On the ‘other’ development front, I closed out September with my third class/seminar of the semester on personal brand and career path development [strengths finder heavy, of course]; the last class being with the 4th year trustees at UVa.  This is my second semester doing this with undergrads, and it’s been a really awesome experience, though pretty different from the typical early to mid-career groups that I have historically workshopped and developed through with these programs.  I’ve got a lot coming up with this, and some pretty awesome new opportunities, but I’m going to have to come back to that at another time when I can do it all proper justice.

fuel sweat grow: personal branding career path development

The same is true for the food and fitness [development] side of life.  While I’ve been cooking more, I’ve been sharing less, and that’s on my shortlist of things to change in the very near future — but you’ll be able to catch a lot of the relevant business content on the b:core blog, and this will dig back into a more functionally evaluative forum for food, fitness, and the personal growth.  In the fitness space I’ve still been researching and pushing forward with my own development needs, but I haven’t get committed to a certification (outside of Lagree) for 2016, and am torn on where the most value lies for me at the moment.  If I were advising myself I’d say that it sounds like I’m overdue for some serious vision boarding, goal mapping, and accountability setting, so thats exactly what I’m going to do.

So, October, it’s time for you and I to get a few things done.

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Shopping the Perimeter + Beginning The Whole Damn Thing

I’m both completely prepared and completely unprepared to return back to my ‘real’ job tomorrow, so I’m pretty happy that we’re closing out the break with the Whole Damn Potluck, so many of my favorite people, and a goal to keep the balance and organization going strong as reality slaps me directly in the face (beginning at the 6am MAD class tomorrow).

While I do typically function best when my schedule is packed and the chaos forces stricter organization and structure in my life, there was something so beautiful about not having my normal work stress dominating my days, allowing me to crank out some major progress on 2015 goals and all of the loose ends that needed to be aligned.  I’m in a great place with all of the moving parts now, so mission accomplished, but it definitely reminded me about the value of the 100% focus when multi-tasking isn’t realistic.  Next vacation I’m hoping to actually take ‘off’….but I’ve already seen what I believe the future to be, and it’s not that, so chest la vie I suppose.

As part of our local Charlottesville crew (rolling 79 strong!) heads into tackling real food and The Whole Damn Thing, I’m going to close out my prep posts with the basic and staple items that are typically found on my grocery list (perimeter shopping + staple isle items), split out by either price or quality to land on the specific lists for either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  Small disclaimer here — while it’s not included in the graphic, if you’re only low on meat, I highly suggest making a local stop at JM Stock Provisions on Main, or The Organic Butcher in Main St. Market, because you’re going to get some seriously awesome local quality and attention there.  Stock also has some grocery basics if your need is just basic produce and eggs, so at the very least stop in and say hey – they’re MAD friendly, and you know we love to support our community members and their businesses.

So here goes it:

fuel sweat grow: trader joes grocery list #thewholedamnthing fuel sweat grow: Whole Foods Grocery List #thewholedamnthing

Last night was a night in, wrapping up some details, doing strategic planning/biz development (my favorite, of course) and putting a few more ducks in a row, so cooking was a welcomed interruption.  (To be honest, I also had a 90 minute massage – 2nd this week – at 3pm, so I wasn’t suffering to terribly.  2015 whole wellness is my favorite goal.)

On Friday night I made taco salad – which basically is just ground beef, sautéed with zucchini, yellow squash, and orange/yellow peppers, seasoned with chili powder and ground salt over salad.  It’s one of my favorite quick meals in the world, and if you make enough of the beef (I usually make albs at a time) you’ve got some killer leftovers for the next few days.  Since that is exactly what happened, last night I re-heated some of the leftover beef and used it for early-evening lettuce wraps.

fuel sweat grow: taco salad lettuce wrap

Whole Foods has some pretty great local hydroponic butter lettuce (in the last fridge of the produce section near the Tessemae Salad dressing) that is amazing for lettuce wrapping.  You can also totally make little boats out of romaine stalks, but I was looking for a little wrap action.

fuel sweat grow: taco salad lettuce wrap #thewholedamnthing

I was actually a little hasty in my production and presentation of this tiny little flavor bombs because I had gone slightly longer than I should have between meals…but regardless, they hit the spot and bridged the gap between lunch and dinner.

Dinner consisted of another huge salad, which bug supervised so she could be the first on the scene for any ‘droppings’.

fuel sweat grow: #thewholedamnthing

The rest of dinner was one of my favorites: steak and roasted cauliflower (with a side of zucchini sautéed in coconut oil with Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.

fuel sweat grow: #thewholedamnthing dinner

All in all it was a pretty solid Saturday — beginning with MADness and ending with kitchen therapy + a solid at-home meal.

Can’t wait to see all the potluck food tonight, share ideas, and taste everything that sounded so good on the group page.  Life in Charlottesville in 2015 it definitely starting off right.

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.

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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.

Generosity + Compassion: Creating Impact out of Gratitude

I spend a lot of time focusing in on gratitude; on being thankful for the people, opportunities, and quality of my life – and I should – I’m very fortunate.  However, one thing that can be arguably more important than showing gratitude, is giving to others. Generosity and compassion, the cousins of gratitude, they generate action that speaks louder than any words and have the power to, and have a universally positive impact.  Day 6 of #23to30: generosity pays back ten fold so you can give more – make it part of your growth strategy.

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Sometimes the effort is small; smiling at strangers, holding doors, tipping your barista, walking the dogs at the SPCA in your free time, skipping one mocha a month to donate the few (but impactful) dollars to a great cause.  Show love, receive love, spread love.  It’s easier than it seems, and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.  Other times, the effort is larger; helping a friend in need, mentoring a child (or several), donating to a cause you believe in, giving your time and energy to bring some light to your community (or any community) during a difficult time.  Even the large efforts typically don’t cost anything – and even when they do, the return is greater than you can imagine.

Over the last month our sweet Charlottesville town has been turned upside down, again.  Over the last few years we’ve been slightly unsettled, aware of a lingering dark cloud that could not be explained.  The unknown can often be the biggest threat to security, and it certainly felt that way in our tight community, in this happiest city in the United States.  Despite the darkness, it’s been amazing to see the unity and light that has come from neighbors near and far, the UVa community, and our incredible network of small business owners and clients.  We all feel an ownership and responsibility to protect our sweet home, and that has been so apparent.

During the breaking news in the search for Hannah I followed much of the news from our local NBC29 and Merch Colony, who both provided excellent up to the minute updates.  It was through a comments thread on Merch Colony’s Facebook page that the idea was born to do something (separate to the gallant search efforts this community has participated in), something to bring strength, positive change, and solidarity back into the mix.  At this point, the rest is history, and this event was born out of the generosity of the event sponsors: Sam Spillman from Balanced Chiropractic, Gordon Emery from Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the IX building, and our team at MADabolic Cville.

So here it is my friends, a day of FREE self-defense workshops, open to anyone in the community; anyone who has felt the darkness or been the light here in our beautiful town; anyone who wants to empower themselves or others; just anyone. So join us — all you need to do is sign up here (create an account – takes 30 seconds- and find Saturday October 18th on the schedule to reserve your spot).  We will add more times as needed.  We will be taking donations (mainly items) to benefit the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (S.A.R.A) here in Charlottesville, which is in need of many basic necessities and personal hygiene items for those they help.

Fuel sweat grow: self-defense at IX MADabolic Cville

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for a little Saturday in October, join us at the United Way (Thomas Jefferson Area) Impact Bash on Saturday night at the Jefferson City Center for a night of guaranteed fun, community, and generous impact right here in Charlottesville.  So much to be grateful for, and even more to be generous with – please join us.

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.

Peace Driven Anxiety & Labor Day Weekend

This was my view this past weekend as I sat on the porch checking in on work.  The only real noise came from birds, a calm in the air emanated through the fog, and there was no where to be with any sort of urgency.

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake maine wedding

It was beautiful, calm, and so far from my norm that I started to actually get peace driven anxiety.  I officially fail vacation.

The good news is that I managed to rein it all in and march on like a normal(ish) person thanks to the incredible surprise gift of wifi and was able to check in virtually to the happenings in Charleston and Charlottesville.  I’m not going to say I wasn’t sad to be missing out on what looked like some amazing packed classes of my favorite people, followed by the first UVa Football game in Charlottesville and beach trips in Charleston, but I had something a little more rare waiting for me in the afternoon — one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen (pinterest wedding boards included).

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake Wedding in Weld

The wedding was held on a beautiful property in Weld, Maine, recently purchased by Linda Bean (of L.L.Bean), with the ceremony looking over the lake and the reception in an incredibly beautiful and newly renovated barn…that was almost immediately filled with 140 screaming, dancing, and laughing people.

fuel sweat grow: Wedding in Weld #takethelake

The wedding details and decor were gorgeous, and even more impressively, were largely created and arranged by the Bride’s family members.  I have always known Emily to be artsy (exceptionally amazing at cookie design), but I had no idea that it was such a strong family gift.

fuel sweat grow: #takethelake Wedding in Weld

In addition to this being a beautiful wedding for two beautiful people, it was also a mini-reunion with one of my very favorite people from college.  I met Laura while we were both undergrads at UVa, and she quickly became my workout, healthy eating, and too-many-selfie taking friend who was a constant in the rest of my college career.

fuel sweat grow: weld wedding selfie

After graduating from UVa we both moved to Philadelphia, Laura to go to med school and me to return for my first job in my hometown.  Over the next three years I got to meet her growing friend group from medical school, which included her brother Daniel (groom) and his now wife, Emily.  Amazing people all around, and the faces that can be seen in a majority of the pictures from my early – mid 20’s.

All in all this was one of the most beautiful and rustic weddings I have ever been to, and was complimented nicely with the high energy, major love, and complete involvement of both families and all of their friends.  And there’s not much that can top that.

The remainder of the long weekend was wrapped up back in Belgrade Lakes, in the kitchen with my Aunt, making a pretty awesome Monday night dinner before what turned out to be the worst / longest travel day of my life on Tuesday.  More on that later 🙂

Thanks to the Spectors and Godbouts, and all that fall in between, for making the #takethelake #spectorwedding such a beautiful experience.  And, of course, many happy years to Emily and Daniel as they grow their own arm of the family.