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July 2, 2015

EXPLORE has always had a ton of meaning to me, and especially so since I made it my word of the year in 2014.

Making an effort to explore can take on whatever meaning you like: getting outside your own physical space or even head space. It can be as big as setting a goal to visit all 50 states before you turn 50, or as small as simply listening to a new-to-you style of music.


You can explore the world around you and explore who you are and what makes you tick. All of the above can happen at the same time, actually, because exploring means growing, pushing yourself, keeping an open mind, finding joy, and often trying something new.

If you have a FRESH START calendar, yesterday you flipped to a brand new month and saw 113 ways to explore.

FRESH START calendar - July - explore

If you can’t find one action in there that appeals to you, you aren’t trying. Or maybe you’re not human. (So please step into the sunlight and let me see if you sparkle).

FRESH START calendar - July 2015

This is one of my favorite designs in the calendar and it’s one of my favorite reminders in life. What better timing is there than the beginning of a new month, entering the second half of 2015? If you aren’t happy with the way things went in the first half of the year, now is the time to do something about it! Make some changes. Stretch. Grow. Learn. Expand.


In July I Will…

July 1, 2015

Happy first day of July and welcome to the second half of 2015! (Scary, huh?)

June went by in a flash and I suspect July and August will do the same. I honestly think that if I hadn’t decided to set monthly goals this year, the entire month would fly by and I’d get to the end and realize I didn’t do anything with my time on this planet. Even though it still feels that way, reflecting each month allows me to see that I actually did do something, and hopefully it was something meaningful!

Let’s review.

In June I wanted to…

June goals

Complete one house project. Yes! I did it! I bought frames, chose and ordered photos, and hung those bad boys up in the living room. Technically this goal is 7/8ths complete since one frame fell and is still in the process of being fixed or replaced. Whatever. I’m calling it done! :)

Write legal documents. I haven’t completed this but I did make huge progress and for that I am proud. I’m working on it!

Research other goals. There were a couple things on my 30 Before 30 list that I needed to research. I did that so now I’m significantly closer to feeling like a few more goals are within reach.

Schedule goals through September. Yes! Some have an actual date and some have just been reassigned to a month but I’m feeling good about this. (Thanks Mom!)

Bonus: Read two books. I am 50 pages away from finishing the second book of the month. Progress!

What I didn’t get done rolls into July, plus:

In July I will…

July goals
Step outside my comfort zone at WDS. I’m  heading to the World Domination Summit next week and it’s a huge opportunity to dream, experience, meet new people, talk things out, and grow. That’s all scary so my only goals are to enjoy myself and push myself outside of my usual comfort zone.

Complete one house project. I have two more to go on my 30 Before 30 list. They’re scheduled to get some attention this coming weekend!

Make a project for the baby. My brother’s baby, that is. I’ve decided that my future niece or nephew deserves something handmade by their Favorite Aunt. The non-baby-shower is later this month so that’s my deadline.

Choose the location for my grandparents’ trees with plaques. It was on my 30 Before 30 list to plant trees + plaque for my grandparents. Then both of my grandfathers passed away so I’m more determined than ever to make this happen. I researched options last month, I just need to make some decisions.

Choose a sewing project. This is also from my 30 Before 30 list and let it be known that I have no idea how to work a sewing machine. I researched options last month but never chose a project. Baby? Fun? Functional? I’m on the fence but I need to at least choose so I can get the project in motion.

Do you have plans for the month that go beyond watching fireworks and eating s’mores? (I definitely support those though!) Share your goals for July!

2015 Summer Manifesto

June 26, 2015

I’m already working hard on my 30 Before 30 list since I only have 2.5 months left. For the summer though, I wanted to set some broad goals or guidelines for myself, but something a little lighter. Something that speaks to my soul. Thus I’ve created my 2015 summer manifesto.

It’s not a to-do list that I can check off. It’s not measurable. It’s not any of the things it “should” be. But it’s mine. It’s what I want it to be. It’s a big picture, “here’s what I want in my life this summer” kind of thing. (And in true Janelle fashion, I came up with it a few weeks late. Sometimes it takes me a little more time to figure out what I want. That’s okay).

2015 summer manifestoI’m usually in the habit of taking on too much but I think in this case, more is better. I’ve chosen things that have meaning to me and serve a purpose: growth, authenticity, strength, love.

These aren’t things I can necessarily “accomplish” this summer but they will guide my behavior, my perspective, and my focus.

Bring on the Summer!

Do you have a summer manifesto? Is yours a quote or a list or more of a summer bucket list?

Create: Watercolor Baby Shower Invitations

June 25, 2015

I’m not allowed to call this a baby shower. Those are orders from my brother who is becoming a first-time biological father. (He’s step-dad to his girlfriend Elizabeth’s two kids).

I’m not sure what the party is though. Co-ed picnic celebrating a baby? Not much of a ring to it. Regardless, for our purposes, these are baby shower invitations… because when your brother and his girlfriend decide to have a baby, and you thought that day would NEVER come (seriously, never), you throw a reallllly big party.

My Mom, Elizabeth’s sister, and I nominated ourselves to be the party planners. Since this wasn’t supposed to be a baby shower, that severely limited our options for finding acceptable invitations in a store or online. There are a bunch of “BaByQ” (baby BBQ) themes but we weren’t going for a BBQ so we were kinda stuck.

This is when I decided I’d create the invitations myself. There was a very long period of time during the design phase when I thought this was completely nuts. I have since gotten over that (but barely).

create: water color baby shower invitations

I just typed something up in Photoshop and my Mom printed them, two to an 8.5 x 11 sheet of cardstock. The three party planners then sat down with my watercolors and painted on some green highlights on either end of the invitation. Super simple.

We went with green because my brother’s girlfriend liked a green-themed art print for the baby so we went off of that. Plus, they’re not finding out the sex of the baby until birth (which I looooove) so the color had to be flexible.

I also designed a small piece of paper that had the registry info and a request for books for the baby. We just cut those out and ran a little stripe of color down each side.

create: water color baby shower invitations

It’s not my most amazing work ever but I actually love that it’s so simple and fresh. My favorite thing is that the invitations are handmade by three people who love the mom, dad, baby, and its siblings. Can’t get much better than that.

Have you ever thrown a baby shower? The party is coming up and I need tips! Also on being an aunt without driving my brother completely crazy with OMG NIECE/NEPHEW! Yep, that would be me.

My First Massage

June 24, 2015

Massages never seemed to be my thing. It isn’t my version of relaxation. “Don’t knock it till you try it” though, right?

My personal trainer and I have been doing four-week cycles where the last week in particular is killer. I end up needing extra sleep that week because I’m so physically tired; I can tell my body is working hard to recover between workouts. After two cycles of this, I thought maybe a massage would help with recovery. Or maybe I could view it as a reward for success in another cycle.

I had a spa gift card for over a year that hadn’t been touched and – bonus! – I knew where to find it. (Trust me, that’s impressive for me. My Grandpa, Mom, and I all have a habit of misplacing things and finding them years later). This is the part where I procrastinated on making an appointment for, oh, about six weeks. That means I went through another complete training cycle and still hadn’t scheduled the dang massage. It’s not like it’s that hard to pick up a phone! I was definitely avoiding it and I soon learned why.

I finally forced myself to find a free evening and schedule an hour-long Swedish massage. That’s what was recommended to me. I felt pretty excited about it for the week leading up to the appointment. Then the day of, I found myself full of anxiety.

Seriously. The thing that is supposed to relax me just gave me anxiety! If that doesn’t tell you something about me, I don’t know what would.

I wanted to know what to wear during the massage, where I could put my things when I got there, what I could expect during, if I could choose where and where not to get massaged, if I’d like the masseuse, if she knew what she was doing, if I’d be able to shut my mind off, etc etc etc. The thoughts ran wild. I probably single-handedly spiked Google traffic for “what to expect during your first massage” that day. I even texted friends with questions. They likely thought I was nuts.

Feeling armed with enough information to reduce my anxiety, I got to the appointment early and they took me early. I didn’t have to sit around and stress some more!

The lady went over everything, although super quickly, so I felt at ease. It was a really smooth appointment and I had no big issues at all. Success!

So how did I feel about my first massage?

Meh. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I’ll break it down for you.

What I liked about my first massage:

  • It’s an introvert’s dream: you don’t have to talk!
  • It helped me discover problem areas that could use more attention in a future massage or when foam rolling
  • I enjoy the concept of spending an entire hour where someone is doing something for me for a change, without obligation to return the favor
  • It was free since I had a gift card ;)
  • The spa staff and masseuse were all very professional

What I didn’t like about my first massage:

  • They used oil so I was a greasy mess afterwards. Everything I touched was greasy! I felt so gross. I went home and showered right away.
  • My muscles felt super stiff afterwards
  • I couldn’t shut my brain off which wasn’t a big deal except that it’s half the point of getting a massage
  • My muscles felt no better afterward than they did before, although the massage itself felt great during!

I talked to my beautiful, spiritual, feels-like-a-sister friend Sara who is a massage therapist and she explained that either I didn’t drink enough water or the woman I had focused more on relaxation than muscles. I don’t know enough to say so I’m just going to blame it on both. I could look past the oil if I felt like my body was in a better place afterwards but it wasn’t. Bummer.

I’m not giving up on massage! I think I’d like to try a deep tissue massage. I know this is weird but I want a massage to be productive. I don’t care about relaxing or feeling zen with Kenny G-like music or even the massage feeling good in the moment. I want someone to work out knots and whatever else builds up in my muscles so I can lift heavier, have better mobility, and perform better in the gym. It’s my job to make that clear to the next person who massages me, which might just be Sara! Although to be fair, I’m not even sure if those are realistic results from any kind of massage. I guess I’ll be asking Google and Sara a lot more questions!

What was your first massage experience like? Tell me everything!

Currently – 6/23/2015

June 23, 2015

Lexie - currently - 6/23/2015

Laughing at Lexie who sat right on top of my clothes this morning.

Drinking protein powder in a s’mores flavor. It has bits of graham crackers and marshmallows!

Hanging photos on my wall finally finally finally!

Looking for some art I wanted to hang that has disappeared within my house somewhere.

Reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up since I finally finished Gone Girl. I can’t wait to start clearing crap out of my house! That really does excite me.

Feeling endlessly grateful for my Mom for tolerating my bad mood on Sunday and my trainer-friend Matt for making the gym my happy place.

Having so many creative ideas today!

Sleeping an insane amount lately, since it’s week 4 in my four-week training (lifting) cycle and recovery is rough during these last days.

Watching the World Cup and thinking that the US team needs to make some serious improvements if they want any shot at winning this thing.

Making plans for Portland next month. I’m sad to say that I decided not to add on Seattle.

Celebrating that Hootie booked her flight for a visit in September!!!

What’s currently going on in your world?

A VIP Concert Experience to Remember

June 22, 2015

Lookie what I got! Dashboard Confessional VIP pass

That is my VIP pass to last week’s Dashboard Confessional show in Baltimore, Maryland. The show was co-headlined between Dashboard and Third Eye Blind with No Wyld opening for them.

Dashboard Confessional VIP pass

People have since asked me “how did you get a VIP pass?” It’s really a simple answer: I joined the (free!) Dashboard fan club and got access to VIP tickets to the show, which I bought as soon as they went on sale. There’s no secret, friends. I don’t have connections. I just bought it! :)

The VIP experience included a bit of merch, meet & greet session with Q&A, private acoustic performance, and front-section seats for the show. It wasn’t that expensive and it was truly an experience of a lifetime!

Chris Carrabba is the lead singer of Dashboard Confessional (and actually, he IS Dashboard). He came out and said that the order of things would be a little messed up and boy was he right. Our meet & greet session turned into just “get a picture” because he tried talking with us but another band was doing sound check right behind us and it was too loud to talk. That was a bummer because I really wanted to ask a question during Q&A!

Dashboard Confessional VIP - chat with Chris Carrabba

After attempting to chat, I did get my photo with him. Chris put his arm around me!

Dashboard Confessional VIP - meeting Chris Carrabba

My heart was racing but I didn’t spaz out like I did when I shook Rob Thomas’ hand. I’d call that a success!

We then got to watch sound check which was equal parts interesting and equal parts “okay we’re getting close to the doors opening so when is our acoustic performance?”

Dashboard Confessional VIP - sound check

Regardless, Chris on guitar and piano and seeing how things work was pretty cool. I still think I was a music star in a former life because I love everything about music but I can’t sing or play.

Dashboard Confessional VIP - sound check

After waiting for what seemed like forever (more like a little over an hour), we scurried off to quickly find a private little spot for Chris to perform. I was SO lucky to be ahead of the crowd of VIP folks because we ended up in what was basically a corner, so picture a triangle where Chris is the point and everyone else fanned out. I was about two steps away from Chris.

This is when time stopped and no experience in the world could ever replace this moment.

Dashboard Confessional VIP - Chris Carrabba acoustic performance

If you’ve ever been to a Dashboard show, you know it’s a giant singalong. Every show feels like Chris is playing in your back yard at a chill party just wailing out some emotional geniusness. This was about as intimate as it gets. No amp, no mic, no other instruments. Just Chris, his acoustic guitar, his voice, and our voices singing along.

He played maybe five songs and ran out of time. It was easily one of the coolest moments of my life, watching and listening to this guy who belted out emotions as the soundtrack of all of my teenage years. He’s the guy I sang with on summer nites with the windows down in the car, driving around quiet streets with friends. He’s the guy I sang with at shows, after breakups, and when reminiscing about the past. Chris Carrabba’s music has weaved its way through a huge chunk of my life. And I got to meet him and listen to him play right in front of me! I’m still in awe.

Dashboard Confessional VIP - Chris Carrabba acoustic performance

After Chris went off to get ready for the show and I could breathe again, I had a ton of time to kill before the show actually started. We were stuck inside the venue but luckily it is along Inner Harbor in Baltimore. So I bought a piece of pizza, enjoyed the breeze coming across the harbor, and read a bit of my book.

Inner Harbor Baltimore

No Wyld opened and I had never heard them before but they had some good beats. Some of their sound was a little off which I attribute to either the venue or their equipment. But then, I’m no expert.

Since Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind were co-headlining, I wasn’t sure who would play first. It ended up being Dashboard which was great because I was on the edge of my seat. My third row seat.

Dashboard Confessional - Baltimore MD

I sang my ass off and didn’t care how I sounded. I just know I was having one hell of a good time.

Dashboard Confessional - Baltimore MD

Chris played some of his usuals, like The Sharp Hint of New Tears and The Swiss Army Romance. They’re perfect singalong songs.

Dashboard Confessional - Baltimore MD

He played a couple songs on electric guitar that he’d normally play on acoustic, and played a few songs that he doesn’t usually include in the set list, I think to appeal to the more alternative rock Third Eye Blind crowd. I get it. And I don’t discriminate.

Dashboard Confessional - Baltimore MD

So it wasn’t the usual Dashboard show but it was still great and of course I never wanted it to end. I was still reeling anyway from meeting him and hearing him play up close and personal.

Third Eye Blind came out and I wanted to leave after about three songs. I’m not kidding. I’m so on the fence with these guys. I absolutely loved them in the late 90s and early 2000s. This was my third time seeing them play (I think?) and it was my tie breaker because the first time was crap and the second time was absolutely incredible. This was just meh.

I can say that the crowd went NUTS when they played their old hits like Graduate and Semi-Charmed Life. I ended up sticking around and I’m glad I did. I loved 3eb for a long time and will always give them another chance. They just released a new album so I’ll give that a shot too.

Third Eye Blind - Baltimore MD

Their performance was enjoyable but not great, although in their defense how can you top the experience I’d already had with Dashboard? Impossible. I’ll give it to Stephan Jenkins though – the dude is 50 years old and still going crazy on stage. Also dressing oddly (man skirt perhaps?) but I’ll let that slide. Rock stars. ha.

Did I mention that I went to this show alone? I tried to get Sara to come, even offered to pay for her ticket, but she couldn’t. She’s an equally big Dashboard fan and I’m so sad she missed it. It was truly an experience of a lifetime!


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