Getting Sexy in the City

After cleaning up from the bridal shower, it was time to head back to my parents’ house to get ready before heading over to Erin’s friend Anna’s apartment to kick off her bachelorette party. Anna and I decided on a loose Sex and the City theme, which could be interpreted however the attendee wanted (wink wink). Our plans were to meet at Anna’s for some wine and appetizers before driving to Cleveland for dinner and a night out.

Becky, Robyn, Me, Erin, Katie and Renee

Becky, Robyn, Me, Erin, Katie and Renee

While at Anna’s we played the famous Panty Game! If you’ve never heard of the game, each girl that attended the party brought a pair of new panties for the bride. The panties could reflect the bride’s personality, make the person think of the bride, make the bride think of the person, etc. Erin then had to look at all the panties and guess who got her each pair.

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Erin didn’t do a spectacular job, but there were a few she guessed right away!

Who could these be from? ;)

Who could these be from? ūüėČ

We presented Erin with her veil and sash, opened gifts, and were on our way to Cleveland.

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The folks at D’Vine Wine Bar¬†were extremely kind when I called to tell them we were running late (shocking, I know), and told us our table would be ready when we got there. We were seated as soon as we arrived and started looking over the menu. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. I am one of those people that obsessively looks at menus before going to a new restaurant to see what I might like to eat. For D’Vine, I had it narrowed down to a couple options–neither of which was on the menu when we got there. I scanned the menu for a bit and ended up getting the Ugly Tom (heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette served in a Parmesan bowl), and Tipsy Shrimp (I don’t remember the exact description since it’s not on the menu, but it was shrimp sauteed in white wine, served in some sort of tomato broth, I believe). Both were delicious.

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 From dinner we headed to our hotel to check-in, and were pleasantly surprised! Would you have guessed that this is a Residence Inn?

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The staff there was also¬†extremely accommodating! When we realized that one of our rooms (which was more like a suite), would fit all eight of us, they allowed us to cancel our other room with no charge. On top of that, there was an amazing breakfast buffet the next morning that was included in the cost of the room that I wasn’t previously aware of. It was a steal, that’s for sure!

After checking in to the hotel we hailed some cabs and headed to The Blind Pig¬†to listen to a band and do some dancing. The band, The Faction, was really fun and played everything from Jessie’s Girl to Thrift Shop. At one point they called Erin up on stage to dance with them.

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Around the time the bar was getting ready for last call, we headed outside to get a cab before the rush. We hopped in a van that took us back to our hotel, and proceeded to fall asleep pretty quickly–it was a long day for all of us!

Erin Hit Her Target

My sister and her fiance, Bryan, met ten years ago when they both worked at Target. Erin was 18 and thought Bryan was cute, but was too nervous to ask him to go to Prom with her. So she didn’t. Fast-forward ten years and they will be having an even bigger and better dance party–their wedding! When Erin got engaged, one of the first things I said to her was “At least you already know your wedding colors!” Erin was confused, and I jokingly told her that they¬†obviously had to be red and khaki, and that their favors had to be from the Dollar Spot. I’m not sure why, but she wasn’t a fan of that idea…I think she said something about nightmares. Who knows.

Since Erin nixed my Target-themed wedding idea, I decided it would be perfect for her shower! In my head I referred to her shower as “Erin Hit Her Target-themed,” and this is the invitation I came up with:

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The decorations at the shower were red and white, and I tried to incorporate the Target with the heart bulls-eye that I created as much as I could.

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Because the party room where we had the shower had limited decorations, I did my best to spruce the place up a bit. I spent the weekend prior to the shower taking a trip to Hobby Lobby and doing some crafting.

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Their wedding date

Their wedding date

 

Their new monogram

Their new monogram

I’m pretty sure TSA got a kick out of my luggage when they found it full of plastic silverware, bridal shower decorations, and prizes. I’m sure they’ve seen crazier things.

The menu for Erin’s shower included:

  • A salad bar with grilled chicken and plenty of topping options (tomatoes, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, baby corn, etc etc)
  • Fruit cornucopias (ice cream cones filled with fruit)
  • Mini quiches
  • Deli spirals
  • Dinner rolls
  • White wine sangria
  • Arnold Palmers

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And for dessert:

  • Dark chocolate fudge and funfetti cupcakes
  • Milk and Dark chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Red and white M&Ms

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We also played a few of the typical bridal shower games. Back in March I visited my sister and Bryan in Arlington. One day while my sister was at work I asked Bryan a few questions…and recorded it. Some of the questions included:

  • If you could be any animal, what would you be?
  • What was your first job?
  • If you could get rid of one item in your apartment, what would it be?

There were a total of 15 questions, and I started by giving Erin 25 one dollar bills. If Erin answered a question the same way Bryan did, she got to keep her money. If she got a question wrong, she had to give a dollar back to me. The money is supposed to go towards doing something fun on their honeymoon. Erin was nervous about the game, and got about six questions right (thankfully I had basically given her $10 to start since there were more dollar bills than questions). I have to admit that some of the questions were pretty obscure, and Erin was surprised that she got some of them right.

The next game was to see how well the shower attendees knew the bride and groom. Sample questions were:

  • What did the bride and groom do on their first date?
  • What is the bride’s middle name? The groom’s?
  • How long have the bride and groom been together?

Out of 16 possible points, I believe the winner got 14, but prizes were awarded to those who got 12 or more correct.

The last game was Bridal BINGO. Before opening gifts, I gave everyone a blank BINGO board that they had to fill in with gifts they thought Erin might receive. If she opened one of the gifts on their board, they got to mark that square and hope to get five in a row. I had played the game in the past and enjoyed it because it gave the shower attendees something to do while the bride opened gifts other than just watching.

Erin got so many wonderful gifts! Some were things from her registry that she really wanted.

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Others were gifts that the giver put a lot of thought into.

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And leave it to my mom’s crafty friends to stick with my theme on their gift-wrapping!

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After opening gifts most people started saying goodbyes, and we took the opportunity to snap some pictures!

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Grandma and cousins from my dad's side

Grandma and cousins from my dad’s side

 

Cousins from my mom's side

Cousins from my mom’s side 

 

Erin and her bridesmaids

Erin and her bridesmaids

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Bridal Shower Prep

This past weekend I went home to Ohio for my sister Erin’s bridal shower and bachelorette weekend. Since Erin has lived in Arlington, Virginia long before she got engaged we had planned to do her shower and bachelorette party in the same weekend since it would be more convenient. While it¬†was¬†convenient, it was also exhausting.

Friday morning my alarm went off at 3:30am so I could get ready and catch my 6:45am flight. I live over an hour away from the closest airport, and really need to put more thought into what time I am booking my flights! Thanks to awesome deals at CVS, I was prepared for the drive with a free Starbucks iced coffee. It was clutch.

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Thankfully I had planned my travel outfit and packed my bags the night before, so there wasn’t a whole lot I needed to do prior to leaving my apartment except to love on Miss Bella a little bit and load up the car. Since no one was awake to tell me good morning, this thoughtful spider traveled to my apartment overnight so he could greet me as I left. How sweet….

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After a brief layover in Chicago (where my first priority was coffee!), I arrived in Cleveland and was greeted by both of my parents. We headed to their house to drop off my stuff before my mom and I headed out to do our grocery shopping for Erin’s shower the next day. After hours (literally) of buying food, we returned to my parents house to begin chopping fruit and veggies in preparation for the next afternoon before heading to the party room where the shower would take place to drop things off and get the tables set up the way we wanted them. The shower took place at the party room in a family friend’s neighborhood, which overlooks a lake.

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From there we went to my grandparents’ house to visit with them, but not before stopping to pick up some dinner. You should know that there isn’t a Chipotle near where I live now, so it’s been a rough two months of withdrawal. Naturally that’s where I chose to pick up my dinner from…and it was delicious!

Bowl with brown rice, chicken, pico de gallo, corn salsa, and guacamole

Bowl with brown rice, chicken, pico de gallo, corn salsa, and guacamole

After finishing dinner, it was time to start icing cupcakes for dessert at the shower. I have zero experience as a professional cupcake decorator, and had to text my cousin for instructions. Turns out cutting the corner of a Ziploc bag works pretty well! My grandmother was kind enough to bake the cupcakes, my mom helped me ice them, and my dad and grandfather were excellent taste-testers!

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My sister and her fiance, Bryan, arrived at my grandparents’ house around 9:15 or so that evening after being stuck in lovely DC traffic for a bit. We all had dessert before heading back to my parents’ house so I could package prizes for the shower the next day and mentally prepare for what was sure to be a busy day. This girl slept well that night!

I will be back to do separate posts on the shower and bachelorette party rather than one huge post with a million pictures!

 

 

Trip to Charleston

I know I’ve been slacking lately with my blog posts. I’ll blame it on my upcoming trip to Ohio this weekend and all the preparation that has gone in to the weekend’s events! I promise to do better!

A couple weekends ago I took a trip down to Charleston, SC to visit some friends for the weekend. I had never been to Charleston before and was excited to explore a bit!

When I first got to Charleston, I met my friend at Folly Beach where we spent some time catching up (we figured out we hadn’t seen each other in over a year and a half!) and soaking up some sun.

folly beach

I’d say the majority of my trip centered around food, and I did my best to eat semi-healthy while also trying out some new things!

After we left the beach, Rachel and I were hungry and she decided to take me to one of her favorite places: Black Bean Co! I had driven past a Black Bean on my way to meet her at Folly and was intrigued, so I was excited when she suggested we go there for a late lunch! ¬†Black Bean’s “thing” is that they serve organic, all-natural Energy Food, and everything on the menu sounded¬†so good! Eventually I chose the Spring Street wrap: chicken, hummus, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh homemade tzatziki, mixed greens and sprouts with a side of fresh fruit salad. It was delicious and I forgot to snap a picture until I was halfway through!

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I also chose a Karma Wellness Water out of the cooler. Karma’s flavored vitamin waters are unique because you add the vitamins from the cap yourself in order to gain the maximum benefits of the vitamins. I went with the Raspberry Guava Jackfruit flavor. While the flavor was different, I enjoyed it and was excited when I found some other flavors at my local TJ Maxx! It wasn’t until I had finished the water that I noticed that each flavor has a specific wellness benefit. The flavor I got was a Fitness Accelerator, which I didn’t necessarily need at the moment but will keep in mind for future purchases!

That evening Rachel and I went to “The Joe,” the home of the Charleston RiverDogs Minor League Baseball Team. Rachel plays on a Charleston Sports and Social Club Kickball Team and there was a huge party as well as playoff Kickball games being played on the field. ¬†The league offers other sports, as well as social and competitive divisions. It was so fun to watch Kickball being played in a huge baseball stadium, and I’m pretty jealous that they have such an awesome program! I might need to move to Charleston someday just to participate in this league!

kickball

As we were leaving Black Bean on Friday, the workers offered us two free salads that they had made on accident. Naturally we accepted them and saved them for lunch on Saturday!

salad

That afternoon we met up with a friend, her husband, and their three children to head to Kiawah for a day at the beach. Unfortunately no pictures were taken, as my valuables were safely tucked away in the car since we got rained on sporadically throughout the afternoon. The kids didn’t seem to mind and we had an awesome time playing with them in the water!

After cleaning up, Rachel and I headed to dinner and drinks with a couple of her friends. We ended up at Poe’s Tavern¬†in Sullivan’s Island. The atmosphere was very laid-back and we sat at the bar for a bit while we waited for a table to open up. Once we were seated, I apprehensively ordered fish tacos with citrus marinated mahi-mahi, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, and chipotle sour cream. I was pleasantly surprised and had no problem finishing them!

fish tacos

We attempted to go out to the Cocktail Club¬†in Downtown Charleston following dinner, but didn’t stay long before we were all ready to go home and go to bed. Such old ladies, we are! I’m really bummed that we were all so tired because the atmosphere at the Cocktail Club was really fun and I would have liked to enjoy it a bit more. I’m hoping on my next trip to Charleston we can check it out again! Funny story about the time we¬†did spend there: When we arrived at the bar and were waiting to order drinks, we sampled some of the bacon-flavored popcorn that was sitting on the bar. It was DELICIOUS and we all couldn’t stop talking about it! As we were leaving the bar and waiting for everyone to close their tabs, I was looking at the menu up on the wall and noticed that the bacon popcorn was $4–which meant we were either eating someone’s leftovers or stealing their popcorn from under their noses. Oops! If/when I go back, I will be placing an order of that popcorn for sure!

I had to drive home on Sunday, but not before heading to brunch with Rachel and her friends. We went to one of Rachel’s favorite places: Triangle Char & Bar in West Ashley. Again it took me some time to decide what I wanted since everything on the menu looked delicious! I settled on the ham & cheese folded eggs with a side of fresh fruit and grits. Oh, and dollar mimosas! This was only my second experience with grits, and I absolutely¬†loved the cheese-topped ones at Triangle! While they may not have been the healthiest option, they definitely were delicious and worth every calorie ūüėČ

triangle brunch

Following brunch, Rachel and I headed to downtown Charleston to check out the Charleston City Market. We walked around for a bit and looked at all the fun stuff the different vendors had. I feel like I could have spent hours looking through there! Sadly it started raining, and Rachel and I headed back to the car before we got stuck in a downpour. Upon our return to Rachel’s apartment I packed up my things and hit the road. The trip to Charleston was way too short and I definitely have to make another trip soon. Maybe next time I will do a better job of taking pictures of something other than my food (like people, perhaps?)! Thanks to Rachel for hosting me and showing me around the city! It was definitely good to see some old friends, make new ones, and explore a fun new city! I’ll be back, Charleston!

  • What are some of your favorite spots in Charleston?
  • Any other South Carolina cities I need to check out?

If You Fail to Plan…

This weekend, my days consisted of planning, planning, and more planning.

After all of the thought I put in to my workout motivation last week, I decided that one way to keep myself motivated would be to plan my workouts for the week ahead of time. By planning ahead, I know beforehand what my expectations are for myself and I’m prepared physically and mentally for what’s to come. This week my workouts will consist of my usual group exercise classes (Pump and Boot Camp), possibly trying a Kickboxing class, and a 5-mile run. I’m taking a trip this weekend to Charleston, and I believe my friend is going to take me for a run at the beach, as well! I woke up this morning ready for tonight’s Pump class and was able to stay motivated for it all day. It doesn’t hurt that my instructor is so much fun!

Along with planning my workouts, I planned my meals as well. I’ve been pretty good about eating healthy dinners lately, but I’ve found that I have been throwing lunches together at the last minute and often end up hungry mid-way through the afternoon–not good when I typically go straight from work to the gym! I based this week’s meals on what I already had in my refrigerator/freezer, what I’ve been craving lately (spaghetti squash!), weekly sales at the grocery store, and my farmer’s market favorites. This week’s lunches will be grilled chicken salads, and whatever my coworkers and I find in Columbia (I will be away at a training for two days). Last night I made myself spaghetti squash with grass-fed ground beef I picked up at the local farmer’s market.

spaghetti squash

It definitely satisfied my craving, and I am excited for leftovers! The rest of the week’s dinner will consist of grilled chicken and veggies with roasted sweet potatoes. I don’t know what my deal is lately, but I have a new-found love for onions and mushrooms and I can’t get enough!

As I was thinking about prepping my meals for the week, I started dreading the process of digging through my cabinet to find a matching container and lid to pack my food up in. It only took about 30 seconds before I was in my car and on my way to Walmart to find a solution to the problem. I walked out shortly after with this:

rubbermaid

 

These¬†Rubbermaid containers (couldn’t find the exact set I got, but here is a similar one), cost me only $10 and have already made my life so much easier! The lids stack together in a way that makes storing them so simple and they don’t take up a ton of space. Hooray for organization! Look how pretty today’s meals looked in their new containers:

lunch

Along with meal planning/prepping and planning my workouts, I have also been working a lot on the planning of my sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party next month! Since Erin lives out of state (and so do I, now!), we have been planning to do her bridal shower and bachelorette party the same weekend. While I don’t want to give too many details yet, I will say that I’m having a lot of fun planning it and I can’t wait to share it all with you after the event!

And now, my plan for the rest of this evening is to enjoy The Bachelorette hometown dates and a bowl of popcorn! Have a wonderful Monday evening, folks!

 

Columbus Wedding Weekend

My 4th of July Weekend started bright and early when my alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning so I could get up and drive an hour to the airport to catch my 6:50am flight to Ohio! After a brief layover in Chicago I arrived in Columbus by 11am and was ready for bed! I checked into my hotel and waited for my friends Kelly and Becky to arrive so we could get ready for our friend Johanna’s bachelorette party! [Side note: Kelly had gotten engaged earlier that week so it was super exciting to congratulate her in person and check out her rock!] After getting ready, we met up with the rest of the girls at Thurber’s, a restaurant inside the hotel the other girls were staying at. At Thurber’s we had wine and appetizers and watched Johanna open her gifts!

From there we headed to Gordon Biersch where we enjoyed more drinks and dinner, and watched as Johanna completed some of her bachelorette dares, such as getting our server to dance with her.

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He was a good sport. For dinner I chose Jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, ham, and andouille sausage. It was delicious!

jambalayaAfter a few more dares and the arrival of a few more out-of-town friends, we headed to The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar¬†where we spent the rest of our evening. We had a blast requesting songs for the pianists to play. If you have never been to a dueling piano bar, it’s something to put on your to-do list. They are so much fun!

The group

The group

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Amy, Johanna, Me, Kelly

Amy, Johanna, Me, Kelly

 

After a fun night, I was ready to pass out when we got back to the hotel and it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep!

The next morning Becky drove back to her husband and son while Kelly and I met up with my friend Emily and my parents for lunch and shopping. My parents came down early for the wedding to spend some time with me while I was in town. How nice! My visit with Emily was way too short, but I am hoping to see her and some other former coworkers when I am in town in September! I spent the day and evening relaxing with my parents, which was extremely nice after such a hectic Thursday.

Saturday morning I spent more time with my parents as we wandered Columbus for pedicures, lunch, and a trip to Target (you KNOW I was happy!). We met up with the rest of my college friends at the hotel later that afternoon so we could all get ready for the wedding. We then made our way to Via Vecchia, the winery where the wedding took place.

Ceremony site

Ceremony site

Husband and Wife

Husband and Wife

Had to get a picture with the parents

Had to get a picture with the parents

Amy, Elizabeth, Kelly, Me, and Megan

Amy, Elizabeth, Kelly, Me, and Megan

First Dance

First Dance

With the bride

With the bride

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I had such a good time with my college friends and my parents celebrating Johanna and Bryan’s wedding! Though Johanna and I went to college together, we were also on the same gymnastics team growing up and have known each other for many, many years. I’m so glad I was able to share in her special day! Congrats to the newlyweds!

I was up early the next morning to catch my flight back to Ohio. After another layover in Chicago, I arrived back in South Carolina by 12:30 and was back at my apartment by 2! Though it was hard getting up so early, it was nice being home early enough to do some grocery shopping for the week, get laundry done, and relax a bit before heading to work on Monday morning.

Plus I got to spend some time with this little furball who did not leave my side upon my return home!

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Also,¬†huge shoutout to Southwest Airlines! It was my first time traveling with them (and for free with points!) and it was the best experience I’ve ever had. No flight delays, extremely friendly flight attendants, and free in-flight tv! I am so glad to be traveling with them to Ohio the rest of this summer and fall for upcoming weddings/wedding events!

Fitness Motivation: Appearance vs. Accomplishment

As I was completing a treadmill workout recently, I was thinking about my lack of motivation lately when it came to exercise–especially running. I’ve only run outside once since my move to South Carolina, and I run on the treadmill at the gym about once a week. This is a huge change for me considering the fact that, a year ago, I was beginning training for the Columbus Marathon. I pushed through my run while pondering why it is that I just haven’t loved running lately.

And then I realized that I’m not really working¬†toward¬†anything.

My motivation lately has been based on my appearance. It’s summer, I live a lot closer to the beach than I used to, and I want to look good in that bikini. Is that enough to motivate me through several workouts each week? Eh, sometimes. I’m sure it’s more of a motivation in the summer when the fear of wearing next to nothing in front of strangers creeps into my mind, but it doesn’t last long. I think this explains the people you see in the gym¬†all the time in the summer, and never see again until the following spring. Once summer is over, their motivation to “look good” disappears.

This led me to thinking about what¬†really motivates me–what makes me push myself to go that extra mile (or ten), what forces me to go to the gym even when my muscles are aching–and that thinking brought up one of the best feelings and memories I have to date: crossing that marathon finish line. A little history for all of you that don’t know me: I was a gymnast for 12 years of my life. This meant mastering skills that could likely paralyze me on a somewhat regular basis. Of course there was a sense of pride that washed over me every time I accomplished a new skill, but I don’t remember ever feeling the way I did when I finished the marathon last October. Even though my joints were aching and I was on the verge of tears for the last few miles (having your car totaled four days before a marathon does not bode well for lack of pain during the race), all of that disappeared in that last stretch before the finish line. Both sides of the street were lined with people cheering us on, and when I crossed the finish line the most amazing feeling overwhelmed me. I had accomplished a goal I had been working months to achieve. I pushed through the pain and the doubts in my head and I finished. It’s a feeling that words cannot properly describe and one that I would absolutely love to feel again.¬†As I trained for the marathon, long runs often became boring and I would start to lose motivation halfway through. During those moments, I would imagine what it would feel like on race day to cross the finish line. My daydreams pushed me through those runs, and even my imagination could not compare to the actual feeling I had on race day.

Since the marathon I have only run one 15k and a few 5ks. Needless to say, my motivation to run hasn’t been as strong as it was during marathon training. Though I still go to the gym multiple times each week, I often go because I feel like I have to instead of because I¬†want to.¬†I’ve come to realize that I really need something to work towards if I want to maintain my motivation, and I’m struggling somewhat to come up with ideas. I know that registering for a longer race would definitely motivate me to run more, so that’s something I’ve begun looking into. In terms of other fitness goals, I haven’t come up with anything yet, but I am definitely open to suggestions! I’m somewhat of a competitive person, which is part of the reason I think races (and training for races) are so motivating to me!

The conclusion I’ve come to is that working out for the sake of appearance only takes me so far. Working out for the sake of accomplishment, or working towards a goal, is what really motivates me. Again, this is something that I’ve noticed about myself personally, and may not be the same for everyone. So now on my “to-do list” is coming up with goals to work towards in order to keep my motivation high. I will be sure to update with what I’ve come up with, and please feel free to share ideas in the comments section!