The Power of Alone Time: Solo retreat rundown

About a month ago, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed. All day. Every day. I was relentlessly busy, and I didn’t feel willing to give up a single thing. This obviously lead to multiple dropped balls, lots of junk food, and lots of crying (for “no reason”). 

I was looking at my Google Calendar, obsessively planning the upcoming month (typical), and I saw a blank weekend. My immediate reaction: how can I spend that weekend 100% alone?

I am very introverted. I enjoy time with family and friends so much, but I need a lot of time to decompress and recharge afterwards. There are often entire weeks where the only alone time that I get is consumed with chores and work. If I don’t plan relaxing alone time, it just doesn’t happen.

So I planned alone time. I got an Airbnb, packed sweats, jammies, and no makeup, and spent Friday afternoon-Sunday lunch in total solitude. The only person I saw was a cute lady who sold me kettle corn.

I feel like so many of you can relate: I am constantly, unendingly doing stuff for others. My husband, my family, my job, my readers. And I, for the most part, really enjoy the things that I do. I love love love interacting with and supporting my people. BUT it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and run down. Scheduling purposeful alone time saved my sanity.

I had 36 hours where I didn’t have to make anyone else dinner, I didn’t have to make small talk, I didn’t have to get dressed, I didn’t have to do anything.

This gave me the chance to do SO many things that I hadn’t made time for in months: I watched TV, I did 1,000,000 administrative tasks for the blog and for life, I set up systems to streamline a lot of the things I do every week, and I wrote. I wrote uninterruptedly. I wrote about nothing, and then copy and pasted the paragraphs that were worth saving into upcoming blog posts. I journaled and brainstormed and ate a bunch of chicken, mayo, and potato chip sandwiches (so, so good, I promise).

This weekend away gave me two things that I don’t get enough of: focused work and intentional alone time.

While I highly HIGHLY recommend that everyone get a weekend away when they can (even if it’s just volunteering to housesit for a friend), that’s not always practical. I can’t spend the money on an Airbnb or hotel room every time I need a reset.

What I can do? Build more focused time and intentional alone time into my weeks so I need this reset less urgently and less often. (I still plan to take at least one night away for myself every six months or so. I need it, and I’m willing to cut corners in other places to make it happen.)

FOCUSED WORK

Focusing on ONE task for an extended period of time is the best way I know to be productive. I don’t mean the emails that you write while you wait for dinner to finish simmering or the TV you watch while you schedule your week.

My cute little carriage house

I mean sitting for 45 minutes and writing an entire blog post. I mean putting your phone on airplane mode, turning on an awesome playlist, and cleaning that cluttered af room in your house. I mean DOING THE WORK without distraction.

It’s so hard to make this happen. I know I’m not alone. The list of things that must get done each day is 1,000 items long, and it often feels easier to multitask. But I’ve learned the hard way that too much multitasking and not enough heads-down time makes me mean and teary. 

By scheduling time for FOCUSED WORK, I relieve stress from the rest of the week. I have several two-hour blocks scheduled each week, and I use that time to plug in, ignore my phone, and power through. There are so many administrative tasks that support the work, but they can eat up all the time that you have to do the actual work. For me, that’s writing. 

I can design graphics and schedule FB posts and send emails with the TV on or while listening to a podcast, but I can’t write while I’m distracted. At least nothing that’s worth reading.

Making time for this uninterrupted, focused work isn’t easy. I get up very, very early, even on the weekend. This is what works for me. I’m a morning person by nature, and I love killing that to-do list pre-10 a.m. I would rather write from 4:30-6:30 a.m. than give up my evening with Grant or drinks with a friend. And, to be honest, I often get the non-focused work done in the evening, regardless. Formatting a blog post or returning Instagram messages can totally happen during the Bachelorette.

INTENTIONAL ALONE TIME

Spending time alone is so essential to my level of happiness. If we meet for drinks and I am spaced out or having a hard time following the conversation, it’s likely that I haven’t had a substantial chunk of alone time recently.

I’m sure all of you — especially those of you with kids! — understand how difficult it is to get chunks of time to be alone. There are always errands to run and meetings to get to and endless family obligations to meet. And I usually use little tricks to fit alone time in the gaps: taking the long way home from an event so I can listen to a podcast, going for a walk, exercising with really loud music. But these don’t really count. They bandaid the issue.

To really feel restored and ready to take on another jam-packed day or week or month, I need several hours or more. I need time where I can be alone with my thoughts. I need several hours to watch what I want on TV or read without a timer that reminds me to move onto the next chore. I need time to zone out while I’m eating a sandwich.

I don’t think I’m alone in constantly running through the day’s agenda in my mind. What needs to get done next, what needs to get done tomorrow, what tasks I need to add to the to-do list at some point. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air, and this level of organization is required.

Taking chunks of time where I don’t have to think this way is meditative. It’s restorative. It feels like a nap, but without the weird hangover.

But the reality is that this time doesn’t just happen. I rarely get a four-hour block of Saturday without an event or task on the agenda.

So when it does happen — whether by chance or by plan — I want to spend it intentionally.

I’ve talked about this before — this means not scrolling on my phone. Not channel surfing. It means doing the things that I always wish that I had time for. Reading a book. Watching a favorite TV show. Going for a walk with a thermos of wine. Not talking to annnnnnnyone. If I spend this time on purpose, that means that I don’t waste one of my two free hours on Instagram.

I try to do this when I can in my everyday life. I often beat Grant home from work, and I’ll set a thirty minute timer and read before I need to start making dinner. Or I’ll wake up early on a Saturday so I can read in bed with my coffee before the day really starts.

Basically, I’ve learned that alone time isn’t going to just happen. I have to make it. And then make the most of it.

View from a brainstorming walk.

I am so thankful that I took the time and spent the money to go on a solo retreat. I am SO lucky that I can afford to do this (both with my time and with my disposable income). I am not blind to that. If you can’t take time away, you can hopefully implement an at-home version of my retreat. Make time for focused work and intentional alone time on a weekly basis, and watch your life change.

A real-time example of this focused work and alone time colliding: I got to a bar an hour before my friend. I’m enjoying a class of happy hour champagne and putting the finishing touches on this post.

Since my retreat, I’ve seen my stress levels drop and my daily mood improve. I also think that I’m sleeping better. When I take time for myself, I’m less likely to wake up sweating at 2 a.m. (which I’m sure is stress nightmare related).

What I’m saying is that I’m spread thin, sometimes too thin, and I’m working to fix that. My weekend away was the beginning, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

ANTI-PINTEREST HOSTING: Throwing a party AND actually enjoying it

Hosting is a skill that does not come innately to me. Some elements do: I love making and sharing food, and I love making our friends and family feel welcome and comfortable. But:

Big groups of people (even those people I love) can make me anxious. I have a tendency to overdo it and stress myself out. And I hate cleaning.

Towards the end of a pretty perfect night.

In past years, I have driven myself crazy worrying about portion sizes and decorations and perfecting every element of the night. I barely remember some parties, not because I had too much to drink, but because my mind didn’t stop racing the entire time we had guests.

Hard lessons I have learned while guests are in my house: recipes can’t always be doubled, turning all four burners on is a good way to make the kitchen feel like a sauna, the fire alarm will go off if the oven is at a temp above 375, and I don’t love cooking in front of a bunch of people.

After a lot of trial and error, I think that I’ve cracked my personal code to a party that feels fun to me and also special for guests:

1. Prep ahead as much as possible. 2. Decorations are nice, but not necessary. 3. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID. 4. Do the dishes in the morning.

Prep everything ahead of time.

I once was in line at one of those omelette stations at a hotel breakfast buffet, and I heard a woman say that she wanted to do this at her next “breakfast party.” I took “this” to mean: she wants to make made-to-order omelettes for her family and guests.

THIS IS INSANE. Omelettes have to be made individually. Omelettes are finicky. Omelettes have to be eaten at a very specific temperature.

When guests are coming into your home, and those guests aren’t your very closest friends, do not do this to yourself. Don’t make something that has to be customized to each guest.

Don’t make EGGS, a food that lots of people are picky about and that need to be served at a very specific temperature. Scrambled eggs, for example, are SUPER easy to make, even in a big batch. But I love my eggs soft-scrambled (like this), which many people interpret as underdone. Unless you know that your guests like eggs this way, do not do it!!!! I have had a guest ask to put the eggs I made her in the microwave because they were too underdone to her liking. 😂

A better recipe for a successful gathering: make as much as you can ahead of time. This is extra-important in the summer. Unless I want to be a sweaty mess and heat up our entire family room-kitchen-dining room, the oven needs to be off when guests are over.

If you’ve prepped ahead of time, all you need to do as guests are arriving is freshen your cocktail and fix your lipstick.


The best prep-ahead summer menu: chicken sausages with romesco sauce and grilled peppers on buns, pasta salad, and green bean salad. Cookies for dessert. I made the pasta salad, green bean salad, romesco, and cookies earlier in the day, grilled the peppers when I knew our guests were on the way, and threw the sausages on once they arrived and we were chatting. Perfect, summery, and literally zero stress.

When you prep the meal ahead of time, and pick dishes that work well when prepped ahead of time, you save yourself so much stress. Picking a time-sensitive dish means that you’ll be anxious and cooking at the last minute. Summer is an awesome time to practice this, as so many summer dishes taste great room-temp or chilled.

And, in the winter, just make chili. Everyone loves it, you can prep lots of toppings to make it feel fun, and it can be (and maybe even should be) made the day before.

Decorations are nice, but not necessary

I will never be a Pinterest host. I  love making the house look nice, but I will never voluntarily do a craft. Never. Things I will do: clean the bathroom and light a candle. Make sure dirty laundry isn’t strewn about the house. Sweep the hardwood floors. Um… that’s it? Maybe, if I remember, I’ll get some flowers from the grocery store. But usually not.



No one cares! People just want to chat with you! If people are annoyed that you didn’t use a calligraphy pen to make individual seating cards, you don’t need those people!

If crafting feels fun to you, more power to ya! But I would rather spend time on the food, something that I’m good at. I hate crafts — always have, always will — and I don’t need to pretend otherwise.

If there is decor at one of my parties, it is likely 1.) recycled from another party, 2.) purchased from the Dollar Spot at Target, 3.) made by someone else.

Being a Pinterest wife isn’t necessary. It’ll drive you nuts, so just don’t DO IT! It’s all a conspiracy by the owners of Michael’s, anyway. 😜

Keep it siiiiiiiiimple.

Parties are not the time to try a dish you’ve never made before. If you’ve never roasted a whole chicken before, save that for a lazy day at home with your family. If you’ve never made mac and cheese from scratch, don’t try to make your first bechamel sauce while guests are walking in the door.

Make something tried-and-true, something that you can make without a recipe, or at least something where the recipe card is faded and spattered. Make something homey and simple, food that everyone loves.

Because here’s the secret: any woman who eats dinner at your house is just SO thankful that she didn’t have to make dinner. She doesn’t really care what you made.

Another secret, courtesy of the best-ever Julia Child: NEVER APOLOGIZE. If the chicken is a little dry, or the sauce turned out under-seasoned, do not apologize. Throw some BBQ sauce on the table or pass the salt. It’s not a big deal.

The simplest, most delicious dinner: a cheese and meat board, with salad on the side plus dessert. Add hummus and nuts for those vegans. Maybe slice some summer tomatoes and drizzle them with balsamic. People LOVE this, and it couldn’t be easier. Just a lot of slicing.

Do the dishes in the morning.

Enjoy your guests. Don’t fret about interrupting conversation to get the dishes done. My typical go-to: put the food away, and sneak another bite of dessert. AND THEN GO TO BED. Maybe I’ll rinse some dishes that will be super-annoying and crusty in the morning, but maybe I won’t.

Maybe you like winding down after guests leave by cleaning. I don’t. I want to take my makeup off and go to bed. This is permission for you to do the same!


At Grant’s birthday party last weekend, I implemented all of these strategies. The menu: two dips, chips and salsa, cupcakes, sangria. The decor: nothing.

Prep ahead of time: I made the dips early in the day (the romesco I’ll be making all summer from this cookbook and our favorite buffalo dip), sliced celery, and made these AMAZING vegan lemon cupcakes. About two hours before guests were due to arrive, I made the sangria: three bottles sauvignon blanc (from Aldi! $10/bottle), 20 ounces of brandy, two pounds sliced strawberries, three sliced and seeded lemons. All of those elements soaked together until guests were almost to our house, and then I added five cans of La Croix. The sauv blanc I used had passionfruit flavors, so I added passionfruit La Croix! This is totally flexible, obviously.

Forgive the screenshot from my Insta story, but I was too busy having fun to take a single photo.

Take it easy on the decor: I didn’t decorate at all. G and his friends worked overtime on Friday evening to cut the grass and do a bunch of other cool yard stuff. I picked this playlist from Spotify and pressed PLAY. I also lit a couple citronella candles. G set up yard games and our outdoor movie screen.

Keep it simple: Grant initially wanted to do a full BBQ dinner. But I didn’t want to. It’s way more work, way more expensive, and I just wasn’t feeling it. Yes, potlucking can keep the costs down, but that is way less feasible when food allergies are involved. So I did snacks and sangria and birthday cake, and people brought their own drinks if they wanted something different. It was super-easy and perfect.

Do the dishes in the morning: This is the best part. My dear Lindsey and her boyfriend were the last guests, and she loves to do dishes when she’s been drinking. So she washed everything, like a true saint!  

What are your best party tips for low-stress entertaining?

Currently//April 2018

Guys, remember when we were all complaining about how slowly January crawled by, but then we blinked and it’s MAY?! What. Were. We. Thinking? Pretty soon it’ll be ten years from now, and we’ll really be regretting wishing that month away.

I hope you all had an awesome April. Mine was crazy busy (what else is new?!). We started the month celebrating our first wedding anniversary at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson. It was so relaxing and beautiful, and we had great customer service at every turn. Highly recommend. Right after that trip, I turned around and went to RISE, which was SO incredibly fun and rejuvenating. You can read about the lessons I learned at the conference here. The rest of the month was full of dinners with friends, baby showers, and family time. The kind of activities that are so worth the time and energy, but leave you a little depleted just the same.

We spent this past weekend relaxing and recharging, which was incredible. I finished one novel and started another, caught up on The Handmaid’s Tale 😱, washed all of our bedding, and enjoyed our first deck dinner of the season.

It was incredible to have a weekend spent largely at home, and I woke up Monday morning feeling READY for the week ahead. Which doesn’t really happen after a jam-packed weekend.

INSPIRING

Something I didn’t write about in my RISE recap is the answer to the question I outlined here. What am I doing? What am I working towards with the Fruitful brand?

And I didn’t find an answer to that question. I did find a different answer, though. I may not know exactly what I’m doing, but I do know why. My mission is to inspire and motivate other women. To be healthier, stronger, more responsible, more ambitious, more focused, more whatever they want to be!

The why matters more than the what. Now that I know the why, I can figure out the what as I go. Right now, that means trying a million different things until I see what sticks. This is exhausting and time-consuming, but also very exciting.

Right now, I’m working on hosting a meet-up for women in Kansas City that are searching for community and motivation. I love the online relationships that I have with so many of you, but I want to take that into the real world! I posted about the possibility of this meet-up on my Instagram stories, and people were EXCITED, which means I’m excited to make it happen. Please leave me a comment below or email at caitlin@thefruitfulblog.com if you’re interested.

EXERCISING

Early in the month, I broke my own rule and deprioritized exercise when life got busy, and I’m sure you all know how hard it is to get back on the horse once you fall off. I broke that cycle with a pretty amazing yoga class in the lobby of the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts one Saturday. A friend and I bought tickets weeks and weeks ago, and the event popped up on my calendar just when I needed it. The yoga class stretched out all my lazy muscles and gave me a kick in the ass. It reminded me how good exercise makes me feel. (ALSO, the marble floors in the Kauffman lobby are HEATED! Isn’t that nuts? I’d obviously never been barefoot in this fancy lobby before, but now I may take my shoes off every time I’m there (kidding!) (maybe).)

I also ran an awesome race Sunday morning. The trolley run is an annual KC event that benefits a great charity AND got me to run four straight miles for the first time in my life. I really had only ever run a 5K before, but I felt confident I could tack another mile on there. And I could! Minus a quick ankle stretch in the middle of mile four, I ran the entire thing. And in only 36 minutes! I know that’s not crazy-fast, but it’s fast for me! My friend Courtney and I ran side-by-side, and we both ended up pushing each other to a faster pace than we’d ever have run solo. Now that I’ve done four miles, maybe a 10K is next? (No, I won’t ever be marathon training. No thanks! Not for me. I’m kind of attached to my toenails.)

EATING

Nothing is quite as good as all the California food I ate at the beginning of the month, including the Shake Shack I had for breakfast at the airport otw home.

I loved Pine & Crane, Poke N Roll, and also the Glendale Embassy Suites that assumed Brooke and I were guests (we were not) and served us during their free-to-guests happy hour. The best vodka soda is a free one.

Poke N Roll enjoyed on the deck at our Airbnb.
The 3 Cup Chicken and the Dan Dan Noodles from Pine & Crane.

If you haven’t tried the vegan queso I made for the blog, check it out. Dairy often makes my skin break out, and this is all of the queso goodness with just PLANTS! It’s best enjoyed with tortilla chips and a few cocktails.

LISTENING

I’m loving the podcast The Habitat, a true story about six “astronauts” that are living in a simulated Mars habitat for a year. This is the dress rehearsal for the real thing with real astronauts, so these volunteers can’t leave the habitat without suiting up. (They also won’t see their families (or anyone outside their fellow volunteers) for a FULL YEAR.) If someone opens the habitat door without following the proper protocols, BOOM, experiment over (because the volunteers will be “dead”).  

NASA is using the volunteers to study the ways that people can live in close quarters together for an extended period of time. There’s also a lot of audio about space travel in general that has been VERY interesting to learn about.

ALSO the new Janelle Monae album and Water Me by Lizzo (“I am my inspiration.” 🔥 )

READING

If you follow my Instagram Stories, you know how LEVEL TEN EXCITED I was about the Golden State Killer. I was crying at work, shaking as I waited for the county prosecutor’s press conference to start, and telling anyone who would listen ALL ABOUT THIS CASE.

GSK was the white whale. He was like the Zodiac, except Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t star in a movie about him. He hadn’t been active for OVER 30 YEARS! This case was as cold as can be, and they CAUGHT HIM. I am crying just typing this.

GSK burgled 100s of people, raped at least 50 women, and murdered a dozen people. When they arrested the suspect last week, he was in his seventies. He could have died and gotten away with it. That’s what made me cry. The fact that all of these survivors and the families of victims get to look at his face and know that he will face the consequences of his actions. After 30!!! Years!!!

I love reading about crime and cults and all kinds of weird stuff, and Michelle McNamara’s book about the GSK was one of the best true crime books I have ever read. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer is INCREDIBLE. Michelle spent years and years researching this case, devoting countless hours to reading, combing through evidence, visiting crime scenes, and more. She died before the book was completed and before GSK was caught. But you BEST BELIEVE she was looking down on us, smile-crying.

Police departments pretty famously don’t acknowledge writers and journalists that help break cases. And, to be clear, that police force 100% deserves a mountain of credit for the decades of hard work that they put into the case.

But I have a hard time believing that a break in the case mere months after Michelle’s book was released is a coincidence. She’s the one that NAMED HIM the Golden State Killer, for pete’s sake. Michelle even suggested in the book that GSK would be found using an ancestry DNA service. And girl was RIGHT!!!!

I’m going to warn you that the details of the crime in the book are upsetting. This man stalked families, learned their schedules and the locations of all of their light switches and telephones, and used that information to hurt them. BUT THE BOOK IS SO GOOD. Michelle is a warm and concise writer, which is a hard combination to find. It is a true tragedy that she’s gone.

I don’t think we’ll ever catch the Zodiac. But they did get the GSK, and Michelle can totally claim that win alongside law enforcement. 


Our Airbnb in L.A. We stayed on the bottom floor, through that archway on the left.

Happy May, everyone! Summer is almost here. I can smell it.

What’s the best thing you did or read or ate this April? 

CURRENTLY//March 2018

Happy SPRING, everyone! It snowed here yesterday, but WHATEVER.

How was your March? Mine was incredibly busy and really fun: celebrating my sister’s birthday, a book launch party for Girl Wash Your Face, seeing the KC Jazz Orchestra with my family, making these freezer meals, watching Grant refinish the hardwood floors in our family room and assemble the bookshelves of my dreams, AND celebrating my birthday. We rounded out the month by celebrating our FIRST WEDDING ANNIVERSARY  over the weekend. Stale cake from the freezer? Actually very delicious. Shoutout to Mudpie Bakery and my awesome sister.

Me and some of the other Chic Ambassadors (my sister has assured me that my curvy butt in this photo is a total optical illusion)
My sister came to my office for lunch on her birthday, and there was randomly free cake!
Major props to my husband for an awesome job refinishing our family room floors.

INSPIRING

THIS WEEK I’m headed to Los Angeles for RISE, a personal development conference for women hosted by my girl, Rachel Hollis.

It’s #internationalwomensday, and I got to spend last night with my favorite internet person, @msrachelhollis. If you’ve ever been inspired by anything I’ve said or written, go follow Rach. She’s the original, and I’m the remix. ✨♥️✨ I love being an ambassador for Rachel’s brand because I know she will never disappoint me by being catty. She truly lives and breathes by the adage “a rising tide raises all ships,” and it shows from how she speaks, to what she posts on social, to how tirelessly she hugged all 100 of us last night. ✨♥️✨ My favorite feminist theory is #ShineTheory. It says that women should surround themselves with the best, most intimidating women they can. When you befriend women like that, it doesn’t dull your shine at all. It brightens it. (Shoutout to @aminatou and @annfriedman for the best theory there ever was.) ✨♥️✨ Take a leap today. Do something that makes you feel powerful. Reach out to a woman that intimidates you, or help a friend who’s struggling. Women, we’ve got to band together. None of us shine unless we all do.

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I’m attending with my friend Brooke and about 100 internet friends, including Becca Peterson. Becca and I met and bonded over Instagram direct messages, and I was a guest on her new podcast, the Imperfectly Perfect Podcast, last week!

I loved chatting with her, and re-hearing my own stories and advice helped me get over a real hump last week. After a weekend of celebrating and eating for my birthday, I was having a hard time getting up on time, making my workouts, and making healthy eating choices, but listening to the podcast reminded me what I’m working toward and why.

I’d love it if you’d listen! Becca is obsessed with authenticity, finding joy, and embracing imperfection, and she’s pursuing her dream of hosting a successful podcast. On my episode, we chat about how I learned to cook, catalysts for change in my life, and my very famous (in my house, anyway) macaroni and cheese recipe.

EXERCISING

I have been having a lot of sciatic pain in my right leg, so I took that as a sign to sloowwwww down. I’ve been going to my normal classes, zumba and spin, and then walking the treadmill for about an hour while I read on other days. I love it so much. I walk at a fast pace, so I’m out of breath and sweaty by the end, but it’s easier on my knee. The extra reading time is awesome, but I will not lie (and you know this if you watch my stories): I have cried more than once on the treadmill because of the book I’m reading.

EATING

This was definitely a month of splurges and celebrations. According to the photos on my phone, I had sushi at least three times. I had birthday cake for my birthday and my sister’s. But I also ate 1,000,000 salads and my new favorite lunch: spread a piece of deli turkey with really spicy hummus. Add a thick slice of bell pepper and some arugula. Roll it up! Repeat 3 times.

In other eating news, we reintroduced poultry to Grant’s diet. If you don’t know the details: G and I started eating a mostly-vegan diet about a year ago to see if eliminating animal products would solve some unexplained allergic reactions of Grant’s. He’s allergic, and always has been, to all red meat, but we also cut out poultry, just in case. In the past few weeks, he’s eaten chicken breast and ground turkey with no issues, so I think we’re in the clear!

I think we’ll stick to mostly plant-based meals from now on, though. He really likes the way vegan meals make his body feel, and there is no denying how much money we save relying on beans for protein over meat. Eating plants is also SO MUCH BETTER for our bodies and the environment. We plan to eat meat about once a week at home. So far we’ve had basic grilled chicken breast and tacos with ground turkey. I cannot WAIT to have my favorite slow-cooker bolognese (I need to share this recipe on the blog!) and our very, very favorite roasted chicken.

LISTENING

A lot of HAIM and Lizzo, in preparation to see them in May. A ton of old-school J.Lo, just like middle-school me would have wanted. Khalid, Miguel, and Janelle Monae. The Wicked Deluxe Soundtrack (did you know that the musical has German and Japanese translations?! Truly fun to listen to).

READING

Like everyone else on the internet, I read this article about the ultimate rules for eating well: The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right. A food writer interviews a doctor, and the answers are so simple. It basically all boils down to Michael Pollan’s adage: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” Definitely, definitely read.

If you, like me, have very fond Little House on the Prairie memories, please read Caroline by Sarah Miller. It’s the same story, but from Ma’s perspective. So good and interesting and eye-opening (you’ll never be more grateful to be a 21st-century woman than when you read the phrase “maternity corset”). It’s also one of the books that made me cry on the treadmill. 5 stars!

My favorite reading-related thing that happened this month: my new bookshelves! All I wanted for my birthday was new furniture for our living room and Grant definitely delivered. My poor books had been languishing on my childhood bookcases and in stacks on the floor. They now have a proper, beautiful home, and I just want to sit and read all day long. On my birthday, I woke up at my normal time, but sat in my new reading chair and read one of my favorite books instead of doing chores or writing. Magical.

What were you up to this month? Anything fun planned for April?

Currently//FEBRUARY 2018

HAPPY MARCH! It’s my sister’s birthday month! It’s my birthday month! It’s the month where we finally learn who Arie chooses for marriage (or a short-lived engagement)! [NO SPOILERS! Seriously, US Weekly already ruined part of it for me, and I can’t take any more.]

Before we get too far into March, let’s recap February.

INSPIRING

I finished the best book yesterday. When I saw it on social media last month, I put it on hold at the library immediately: How to Get Shit Done, by Erin Falconer. Sounds right up my alley, yeah? I, predictably, loved it. Please, please, please read it, especially and specifically if you are a woman.

Erin writes all about the ways that women are expected to be productive — at home, at work, in relationships, with children, at the gym, and all while wearing a full face of makeup. She encourages all of us to focus on three main goals at a time, and shape our days around those goals. If a task that’s taking up hours of your week isn’t moving you towards one of your goals, get rid of it. Can you outsource it? Simplify it? Just stop doing it all together? 👏🏼

She argues that once women stop trying to do everything, we can do anything. Just thinking about that gives me chills. I always feel so fired up after reading a great personal improvement book, and this is no different. Read it! And let me know what you think 💖

EXERCISING

If you follow me on Insta stories, you know that my 100-day #exercisecountdown is broken. I strained my knee somehow a couple of weeks ago, and that knee pain led to a hurt neck. I don’t know if walking funny led to neck strain or WHAT, but I was in serious pain for several days.

A hurt neck means lottttts of reading in bed. This was great.

Obviously, exercising, even lightly, with neck pain is a dumb choice. My body clearly needed rest. But it broke my heart to give up on my exercise challenge. And it didn’t help matters that my first day with no workout was day 51 of the challenge! Quitting halfway through did nothing to help my feelings.

But I did it. I rested, and rested, and rested some more. And, I’ll tell you, getting back on the horse is hard. Spin class yesterday was supposed to be my first intense workout back, and I just didn’t go. And I didn’t go for a walk, either. I just sat, basically all day long. 

I need to get back on the train. Exercising consistently changes my mood (just ask my poor husband) and my appetite (hello junk food). I have a treadmill date later this morning that I will be keeping.

EATING

Ooooof. February was definitely more indulgent than most months, and I feel it. Grant and I went on a weeklong vacation in Colorado, and I basically forgot what a vegetable was while we were there.

We stayed in a house with several other couples, and we shared the cooking duties. Lots of comfort food. Very few greens. To be clear, I totally could have purchased salad stuff, and I’m sure everyone would have eaten it, but I didn’t. I should have. I felt like a bloated old sponge when we got home. On Valentine’s Day. Romantic.

Tasting at Breckenridge Distillery.

We also, in true vacation style, did a lot of drinking, so that did nothing good to my eating habits or the way my body felt post-vaca.

Just like falling off the exercise train, getting back into healthy eating habits is no joke. I’ve been eating vegetables at every meal, and that has definitely helped. It’s a lot harder to eat a ton of white pasta if you’re full of green beans (is a lie I tell myself that sometimes works)!

LISTENING

Two podcasts I’ve been loving: By The Book and Bachelor Party.

By The Book features two women who read a self-improvement book, live by the principles of the book for two weeks, and then discuss the outcomes on the show. It’s so great and so funny. They are both really honest about the ways the book did or didn’t change their lives. If you’re in a relationship, I highly recommend the episode on the Five Love Languages. It was super eye-opening, but also had the right amount of making fun.

If you are a resident of Bachelor Nation, you MUST listen to Bachelor Party. It is the best Bachelor podcast (I listen to no other Bachelor podcasts). It’s spoiler-free, often features Bachelor Nation guests (like my boyfriend Ben Higgins!!!!!!!!), and there’s tons of behind-the-scenes content. The past month featured interviews with the VP of reality programming at ABC and Uncle Chris Harrison! It’s so great. Host Juliet and her guest recap each episode (including Bachelor Winter Games, which was truly magical), and I look forward to it every week.

READING

I am flying through my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge thanks to vacation. Everyone else went skiing every day, and I read. It was actual ✨magic✨. I’ve read 13/50 books this year, and I am going strong. Vacation faves were Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (must-read if you loved The Handmaid’s Tale. I read it in ONE day.) and The Restless Sleep: Inside NYPD’s Cold Case Squad.

I also loved Black Panther, another murder mystery dinner party with friends (this time I played the heir to a chocolate fortune), and celebrating my friend at her baby shower. What did you guys love in February?