Monday, February 27, 2017

Yoga in CLT

photo credit

"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self." - The Bhagavad Gita
I have touched on my love for yoga a few times now.  When I was in grad school one of my professors had just received her yoga teacher certification and taught us about the benefits of using yoga in our daily life as well techniques as with clients.  I have always loved the way I feel after a good yoga class.  Learning more about the theory and research behind it made me love it even more.

When I moved to Charlotte, again, I wanted to find a yoga studio to join so I could keep up the practice more frequently.  Eventually, a goal of mine, is to get my teacher certification as well so the regular practice would be beneficial.  Then, the reality of my budget hit, and yoga studios are all out of my price range!

A friend invited me to a yoga class at a brewery in Charlotte over the summer and I was hooked.  I was able to get a good yoga class in for little to no cost out of my pocket! There is something about going to a class vs doing a yoga video online that pushes me to have a better practice. Plus being an extrovert I get to be around people instead of just my dog in my bedroom!

Actually in Charlotte, the whole fitness class centered around a brewery thing is blowing up! You could probably find some sort of free or cheap workout class that covers the class and a beer for the price! Work for your Beer has done a fantastic job of rounding up all the classes that you can attend to in Charlotte for the various prices and locations.

My particular favorites are OMB Yoga on Tap on Tuesdays.  5 dollars gets you a yoga class and a pint after the class [the picture above is actually of me there; I'm on the orange mat!] This class gets crazy crowded so you have to get there early to get a good spot.  Thursday's I go to Free Range Brewing for their yoga class.  This class is free. Also crowded but a little bit smaller and not as crazy popular as OMB. Typically I will stay after and support the brewery because it's one of my favorites in Charlotte.

So while my budget doesn't allow me to go to a studio for my yoga fixes, Charlotte breweries have made it possible for me to get a great class in with friends for a fantastic price.

Have you been to any brewery yoga classes? Have a yoga / workout class you think I should check out? Let me know! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Brown Paper Packages

Confession.  My dog is a toy destroyer.  I am talking within ten minutes of having a toy my apartment becomes a war zone and the only thing that remains are bits of fuzz.  I obviously love my dog, want him to be entertained, and feel loved by getting toys; but I just couldn't afford buying new toys all the time for them to be chewed up for scraps every day.  Dog toys are expensive and the durable ones are even more so.  Ain't nobody got that kind of money.

Then I found Bark Box.  For 20 dollars a month I get a few toys and bags of treats that Finn loves - the toys last longer than most and then once they are destroyed a new box comes in the mail.   I stopped spending money on toys and treats all together once I subscribed because we just don't need it.  I do buy him nylabones that last months because he is a stress chewer but really 20 dollars a month vs 20 dollars a toy every few days really helped out my wallet.

Finn, loves BarkBox too.  He knows when BarkBox gets delivered every month and will wait by the door for the mail man to drop it off.  I swear he knows it's a package for him when I bring it inside too.  Finn is hilarious, he literally will not do anything else except stare at the box until I let him open it.  He drools too because he knows there has got to be something good in the box.

The toys are always themed each month in such a humorous way.  They are funny, cute, and like I said before durable [which is my number one priority] The treats he gets are full of real, wholesome ingredients.  Finn has some weird allergies so feeding him good food is important to me.  BarkBox makes it easy - when you subscribe you can select if your dog is a heavy chewer [yes!] and has allergies [yes!] so they will customize the box based on your needs.

Finn got BarkBox for a birthday one year and I have loved it so much that I just keep renewing every single year. I love the joy that it brings my dog to receive something for him in the mail.  [Yes, my dog has very human like qualities lol] Plus, it saves me money, and honestly the hassle of going to the pet store all the time to buy more toys just to make sure Finn is entertained and happy.

If you would like to check out BarkBox, which I highly recommend and Finn definitely agrees, you can click here.  When you click this link it will take you to the BarkBox site - and if you sign up using this link you will get a FREE month of Bark Box. Your pup will thank you and give you so many slobbery kisses.

Disclosure: This post was not sponsored by BarkBox in any way.  I have been a paying subscriber for many years and truly love it.  However, if you do click on the link and use my referral code I will get a free box to add on to my paying subscription as well as you getting a free month! Win win :) 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What I Learned Doing the Look for Love | Tone It Up Challenge

all tone it up photos taken from

Yall, I did it.  I completed my first Tone It Up Challenge. I cannot even begin to articulate what these past 6 weeks have meant to me.  FYI this is definitely not a sponsored post I just love this plan, these trainers, and the transformation I have had within.

But in order to truly understand my why for joining Tone It Up we have to go back in time. Like to high school... I have always been an athlete.  Swim practice 6 days a week was my norm.  With all of that practice, I never really thought about what I was eating.  We weren't really educated on nutrition either.  Carbing up is a common phrase in the swim world.  And not healthy carbs I'm talking full on mac and cheese binges before meets was a regular occurrence.  I also didn't have the best relationship with food either.  I would come home from school and as my pre-workout / after school snack I would eat everything and anything in the cabinet [sorry Mom!] I had no real sense of portion sizing.

Then I left for college, I still swam for my school, so going to practice daily was my working out, plus swim meets on weekends.  Again, I felt like I was good because I swam so much and that burns a ton of calories.  Being in college comes with it's own challenges. No parent to yell at me when the whole bag of chex mix is gone or to tell me I can't go to a fast food place with my friends because it's past curfew.  Add in drinking and I was wrecking my insides slowly without actually realizing it.  Because, you see, this whole time I was blissfully thinking I was okay because I swim. I used swimming as an excuse to truly eat whatever I felt like.

So then I graduated college and got my first teaching job.  I moved back home with my parents and in order to find something to replace swimming I joined a gym and got hooked on zumba and yoga classes.  I was on a super strict budget now #teacherprobs so I had to figure out how to really meal plan.  I started losing weight I think based on the fact that I wasn't going out to eat all the time to save money.  I also pack my lunch for school every day because a lunch break is not a thing in schools #anotherteacherprob so by default I was eating slightly healthier. Yet, I still didn't really eat properly but it was in this time period that I realized I wanted to feel healthier and needed to make some changes in my life.

A few years later I moved back to the mountains for grad school.  Grad school, specifically a counseling program is 2 years of intensive self care and therapy, it was here that I found a passion for nutrition.  I got really into reading articles about food and what it does to your body.  The connection between food and mood was absolutely fascinating to me.  I also stumbled upon Tone It Up and starting following their workout schedule they post every week.  The more and more I researched I kept coming back to Tone It Up and knew they advertised a nutrition plan.  I have been a silent observer in the community presence online as well.  I was blown away by peoples testimonies.  They did a huge black Friday sale one year so I made the purchase and became a full blown member.

I read through the nutrition plan and loved their guidelines.  The science behind their recipes and nutrition plan really peaked my interest.  The more I educated myself the more I realized they are right.  Health is truly about what you put into your body.  You should fuel your body with fuel that takes care of it and is going to create the best version of yourself because you love your body. 

Still, I wasn't fully committed.  I tried a few challenges and always seemed to fade.  I observed the community still but didn't participate [social media is sometimes a difficult thing for me] Then I did Whole30.  I stuck with it for the whole 30 days. I fueled my body with clean food that is good for me.  I never felt better.  I actually liked what I saw in the mirror.  I was making the best choices for myself. Whole 30 completely changed my relationship with food.  I listened to my body and what it needed.  I stopped eating when I was full.  It was so encouraging to be proud of myself for actually accomplishing something too.  But, whole30 for me, wasn't sustainable.  I wanted to add back in foods to my diet that I knew from my research was still good for me but not allowed on whole30.

So life after whole30 left me searching for what to do with myself nutrition wise.  I read back through the whole tone it up nutrition plan again and this time it clicked.  I was committed.  I started truly eating based on their guidelines and rules. It's all about eating the right foods at the right times but also giving yourself permission to have some treats.  I began just simply asking myself the question is this tone it up approved or not? See, I was good at whole 30 because I am a rule follower.  So this little question helps me and my relationship with food tremendously.

This past January Tone It Up released their look for love new years challenge.  I wanted to follow along and stick it out; the whole six weeks.  I did. I didn't follow their plan to the t but I learned that sometimes that's okay as long as you still eat approved foods.  I learned that working out doesn't always have to be a crazy 2 hour long swim practice, sometimes you just need to listen to your body and maybe all it needs is a simple walk with the dog [that counts!] I learned that progress isn't always the number on the scale, it's how you feel, it's in the small choices that you make every day to push you toward your goals.  I learned that you can find love within.  Love yourself first because that's what matters.

I still have some personal goals that I set for myself.  My health journey is far from over.  But I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.  Now I have started over for round 2 of the look for love plan, because the meals are just that good yall.  I truly feel better about myself following their plan.  And yes I still have my indulgences but the plan really taught me to make better decisions and to get back on track quicker instead of wallowing in self hate which turns into more than one bad choice.

So thank you Tone It Up.  I am still learning, but you have taught me oh so much and I can't wait to see what comes next for me. I'm thinking another race? Maybe yoga certified? Who knows the sky is truly the limit. Karena and Katrina I am so grateful that you are my trainers.

Have you ever tried a health journey or plan that completely changed your relationship with food and self? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

Saturday was my 27th Birthday!  I wrote a jumbled mess of my thoughts on turning 27 and what that means to me: here. Also, HUGE shout out to Alyssa for the pictures / snapchat screenshots [the reason for the poor quality] in this post since I didn't take any! So rare for me.

Without further ado.  I wanted to celebrate with my favorite things.  People, wine, and cheese.  Did you know that national wine day was also on Saturday?  The national day for everything gods must have known it was my birthday because the day was so fitting.

I invited some friends and family out to Foxcroft Wine for the evening.  Full disclosure.  I will put this post in my Queen City series but this is not queen city on a budget.  This place is one of my favorite places to go for a fun treat but expect to pay at least 40$ a person.

Foxcroft Wine has two locations in Charlotte, we opted to go to the Dilworth location because it is a little bit bigger and I wanted to be able to get a table with a large party.  I am a former server so being the most considerate to wait staff is always on my mind!

You can order wine or beer by the glass or the place also doubles as a bottle shop.  You can browse their selection and bring a bottle to the table which they will open for you.  Since it was my birthday I opted to find a fun bottle of wine for me.  They also have the most amazing food selection here.  I am such a drinks and apps kind of girl that this place is perfect for me.  Amazing truffle fries, flatbreads, charcuterie plates, and sliders.  Yum!

I felt so loved this weekend.  I got the chance to pamper myself.  Do a lot of things that I have been wanting to do for a while that helped me feel rested but prepared for the week ahead.  Most of all, I got to spend some quality time [my love language yall] with some incredible people.

Foxcroft Wine Details:
Location: Two Locations in Charlotte: SouthPark and Dilworth
Budget: like I said before prepare to spend money - a bottle of wine if you don't want to pay a 15 dollar corking fee needs to be at least $30.  Food: around $10 - 15 per item.  Most are big enough to share though.
Time: It's up to you! We hung out talked, laughed, nursed bottles of wine and spent 3+ hours here.
Recommendations: My favorites are a bottle of red [any] with the three cheese flatbread [split between 2 people].  Bonus if you are feeling fancy and have more depth to your wallet; truffle fries and charcuterie board.

What is your favorite way to celebrate a birthday?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

27 Laps Around the Sun

Today is my 27th birthday.  I was reflecting this morning in my journal on what I thought 27 would be like.  When we are young 27 seems so old and so wise.  Yet, as I sit here at my kitchen table attempting to get caught up on big girl things like budgeting, cleaning, and organizing I feel like I have no idea what I am doing.

Maybe that's what life is though.  Learning little lessons along the way and just taking it one day at a time, one year at a time.  I know that I am learning so much about myself and who I want to be in this world. Even in one year I have grown so much as a person.  For the little lessons I have learned I am so incredibly grateful.

I can't help but practice gratitude on this sunny morning.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to live this life another year.  I am grateful for friends who have been showering me with birthday wishes already this morning.  I am grateful for a chance to celebrate with the people I love tonight.  I am grateful to be redeemed by my loving and forgiving savior, daily.  I am such a lucky girl.

This year will be a wonderful year.  I can feel it.  Dreams and goals are flowing through my planner.  Passions are igniting my creativity.  Friend dates are being planned.  Yoga classes will be attended.  Even more lessons will be learned.  Journaling and devotionals will change me every day. Healthy me is a priority.  Financial goals are being met.  And most importantly life is being filled with wonder, being brave, and adventure.

Now I'm off to spend a day doing the things I love with the people I love and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy Birthday to Me! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Getting Real with Current Events

I typically don't get involved in politics.  I hate politics.  I think they are corrupt and the TV show Scandal is an accurate depiction of our government.  I sat here trying to process my thoughts.  I hovered over the publish button many times without actually clicking it, but I just can't be silent any more.

I work in a school.  My job is to listen to the stories that kiddos are willing to share.  I advocate for relationships every single day.  I try to be the best example of love and kindness to all in my school building.  I have mounds of paperwork that I push aside daily to respond to students in crisis, to go into classrooms, to be present, to show my face, to smile at that kid who really needs it. The vast majority of what I see and hear is confidential, not only to protect my students, keep their trust, but to hold their stories precious and valuable.  These stories are not mine to tell.

This, though, I will share.

Thursday, the majority of my school population was absent.  53%.  It was eerie and quiet. My heart is broken in so many pieces.  My students didn't come to school that day in protest but underneath it all they are scared.

They are scared that they will come home to a raided house and no parents.  They are scared their families will get ripped apart.  They are terrified to go to an unknown place that they have only heard stories of.  They are scared to go out in their communities and to talk to anyone out of fear of giving something away.  They are terrified to even come to school.

School. The safest place they know. Isn't even safe anymore. And worst of all I can't say anything to assure them of their safety.  I can't even protect my students.  I have nothing to say to make it better.  No words of encouragement.  No fun catch phrase about being kind or doing the right thing.

Only the acknowledgement that I was born with an incredible privilege.  I have no idea what it is like to have the fears that my students have.  I can only validate that it is indeed terrifying. I can't even imagine. I cried the other day in my office with two 5th grade boys also in tears expressing concerns they had.  I felt incredibly helpless.  These students look to me for help.  In these moments I can only tell them that there are some people who look like me who actually care about them and want them here.  These kiddos are so important.  My job is to ensure that every student knows they matter.

These students matter. This community matters.  Culture matters.  Immigrants matter.

I can, do something, I realized.  I can use the incredible privilege and position that I have to advocate for the populations that can't speak for themselves.  I can speak up.  I can use the gifts I have been given, specifically writing to make these issues known.  I can educate myself on politics and policy - even though it makes me cringe - because my students are important to me.

No one should have to question whether tomorrow they will have to be stripped from everything they know and thrown into more trauma.  No one deserves to live a life in fear.

I did not write this to get involved in politics or policy. I wrote this because being at a school on Thursday with an empty building felt wrong.  Listening to my kiddos bravely open up and share their very real concerns feels wrong.  I don't know what the answer is, but I do know this is real, this is now and my job is to advocate for the most underrepresented population who can't speak for themselves; children. Their innocence is shattered and that is not okay.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Riverwalk Days

This weekend the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  There was no way we could stay inside.  My Aunt was in town visiting for my birthday and we wanted to have a fun family day on a budget! WE headed down to Riverwalk.  A fun community in South Carolina, right across the border, with some awesome outdoor adventures.

Riverwalk has a greenway that follows along the Catawba River.  This is my favorite place to walk around Charlotte because of the water alone.  There is something about being by the water in the sunshine that can make any day be a good day.  Here, at riverwalk you can also utilize the Kayak launch and kayak the river.  There are also mountain bike trails that intersect with the greenway at certain points.  Whatever your outdoor adventure you choose; this is the place to explore!

My sister and I decided to walk a little faster than the rest of the fam and got in a good 5 mile walk while we chatted about life and everything in between.  We really haven't had many chances to talk like that in a few years - long distance face time and all.  Sometimes all you need is a wonderful conversation with someone you love.

After our walk, we met back up with the family at the Pump House.  A restaurant / rooftop bar right by the river.  There are also other shops and fun places I want to check out next time by the river - including a coffee shop/ wine bar! We all got a fun drink and enjoyed the view with more lovely family time and conversation.

All in all, this weekend was a good one for the soul.  Family time, sunshine, great conversation, drinks, and time spent being active outside.

Riverwalk details: 
Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina ~30 minute drive from uptown.
Budget: Free for me! [thanks Daddy] but if you purchase your own after walk drinks ~$10 a drink + depending on how many you have and if you add food as well.
Time: 3+ hours.  Really it's up to you - how far you want to walk - what shops you want to see - how long you spend at the pump house. You can even get a free book set up a hammock between some trees and read all day if thats what you wish!

How would you spend your time at Riverwalk? 

Monday, February 13, 2017

When Inspiration Hits

For some reason, whenever I am feeling creative and inspired, I feel like I need a fun drink to compliment that feeling I get to tackle my big dreams and projects.  Hence the trip to Juice Bar for a Green Smoothie. You see, one of my strengths is ideation.  I have so many ideas and goals.  I am very affected by my feelings.  When I feel inspired there is no stopping me, I am a girl on a inspired mission.

Well, I started thinking about my passions.  I made a list of what makes me happy in my head.  The obvious were results; yoga, being healthy, family, friends, people, being creative, writing, coffee, photography, this blog, exploring new places, and the list goes on and on.  I was processing this and what that might mean for my space here on the internet.  I write because I don't know often how I think or feel about something until it flows through my fingers onto a screen or paper.  I feel rejuvenated by getting to explore new places with the people I love. I love reflecting on memories, people I meet, experiences that I am so blessed to have, and what I learn along this life journey.

With a seed planted for this blog per a conversation I had with my mom a few weeks ago I got to dreaming.  This question kept running through my head - what does it mean to be a tourist in your own city?  When you go travel and visit a new place what are the things on your list of must sees? Why can't I do that here; in my hometown, the place I love and live and work?

There is nothing stopping me from exploring Charlotte the same way.  Thriving in the Queen City on a Budget.  Thus, the new idea is born.  This new blog series will document exploring this city I live in, like a tourist, but finding fun budget friendly ways to thrive. After all, I am an extrovert living in a world class city.  I don't want to live a limited life because of a limited budget. So it's time to get creative and explore. All posts will be filed under Queen City.   Cheers to a wonderful Charlotte adventure.  I'm so excited to share my city with you.

If you have any places you love in Charlotte and would like to see featured please get in touch!

How are you a tourist in your own city?   
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