Archive | Life

Being 30 & Becoming 31

Image - Becoming 31 | kaileenelise.com

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
(Max DePree)

Today is my 31st birthday! When I think about being 30, I can’t help but feel proud. Every age is significant, but last year covered a lot of ground, both physically through travel and emotionally through big, life-changing decisions.

In terms of travel, 30 began with a trip to LA and Napa to celebrate the start of a new decade. It was our first trip to LA and we had a great time before heading up north to one of my favorite places on earth. My grandparents have lived in Napa (St. Helena, specifically) for years and back when I lived in San Francisco I would drive 75 miles every weekend to visit them. Their place in St. Helena is nothing short of magical and spending time with them makes me feel so loved. As a special treat, we sprung for a limo one day to go wine tasting, which was a highlight for everyone involved!

A few weeks after Napa, I traveled to Las Vegas for a best friend’s bachelorette party. Vegas isn’t for everyone, but I went to college in Sin City and happen to feel very at home amongst the glitz and gambling. I had a blast, and more importantly, my bestie got to spend a few days with all her favorite gals in celebration of her final days of singledom.

In May, my Mister and I spent all but one week out of town… visiting with friends & family and working in Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Ohio. We stayed put in June, then went back to North Carolina for 4th of July weekend at my dad’s lake house. In August, one of my close friends came to visit us in Austin, then we went to celebrate my husband’s birthday in Pensacola, Florida with one of his oldest friends. I also went out to Arizona for Happy Living (a health & wellness company that my father and I started in 2014)… and got the chance to spend time with my other grandparents while I was out there.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, we were all around and back again. My Mister’s parents came to visit and we showed them all our favorite Austin spots. A few days later we took off for our 3rd trip to Europe. This time we stayed in London, Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam. The whole trip was wonderful, but we especially loved our time in Amsterdam. When we got back to Austin, we had a few days to unpack and reset before going to our friends’ wedding in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Their big day was magical and such a wonderful reminder of what it means to create, build, and share a life with the person you love most in the world.

Things slowed down the tiniest bit when we got back from that trip. We spent our first weekend home at the Austin City Limits musical festival (our 2nd one) and early on that Sunday morning I took a pregnancy test because I was feeling a little weird. We were shocked and elated when the test was positive… and spent the rest of the day listening to music in the hot Texas sun, asking each other, “Is this really happening?”

In the midst of my early pregnancy, we had the opportunity to take a trip to Australia (for work) and Fiji (for play). We had a week in Sydney and a few less days in Melbourne. I was sick for most of the trip with a really bad head cold and nothing tasted good. Aside from those minor issues, we had a wonderful time Down Under, especially in the beach towns and in Melbourne. Fiji was a total dream. Our resort (the InterContinental) was perfection, the weather was wonderful, and the days we spent lying around doing nothing were very restorative.

A week after we got home from Fiji, we made our way to Ohio for the holidays, stopped in Arizona for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party, and made it back to Austin to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends. The time we spent with family over the holidays was made even sweeter because we were able share the news about my pregnancy in person!

2015 came swiftly to a close and had me thinking about the changes ahead. Becoming a mama is something that I have wanted and dreamed about since I was a little girl. For as long as I can remember, my aspirations were to become an Olympic swimmer and a mother. All the jobs I had growing up revolved around children and I even got my degree in Elementary Education because I love kids so much. I always thought I’d be a young mom and when that didn’t happen, my career became the focus. When my Mister and I started dating 8 years ago, our relationship, jobs and travel adventures were the main priorities.

So 2016 started with a fresh perspective. We decided it was best for us if I ended my full time work with Happy Living to spend my time and energy on our growing family. We bought our first home, just outside downtown, and have been busy settling in. My Mister’s mom came to visit a few weeks ago and we just got back from our babymoon in Hawaii.

I am so happy to be on the other side of 30. I never really gave turning 31 much thought until a few weeks ago. Now that my birthday is here, I am thrilled to celebrate where I’ve been and the life I have today. Becoming 31 means a lot to me and my wish is to have a happy, healthy and brave year. It is sure to be filled with trials, adventures, new experiences, and challenges, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the best yet!

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Into the Deep End

Into the Deep End | kaileenelise.com - image via Unsplash

The important thing is this:
To be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become.
(Charles Dubois)

There are thoughts circling around in my mind, like little wisps of wind that could turn into raging twisters at any moment. Maybe it was too much to plan a wedding and start a new business in the same year. Maybe I should be more social, because I can count the friends I have in Austin on one hand. Maybe I should sit down and write a blog post because these things don’t write themselves.

I had a lot of thoughts and plans going into our vacation. I imagined it would be the perfect mix of work and play, productivity and relaxation. I was wrong on all accounts. So wrong, I can only laugh at myself. We had a blast, but came home exhausted and with a longer to-do list than when we left. We also managed to break two laptops — a crashed hard drive for him, a cracked screen for me. We filled our visit to the brim, staying at 4 different houses and driving ourselves around in 2 separate rental cars. We ate out a lot, drank too much, played in the lake, danced the night away, and celebrated his 30th with good friends.

We do not know how to do anything half-way. My Mister and I try to do more, see more, play more, and work more than humanly possible. We are living it up, these days. We are running towards our future and soaking up what’s here in the moment. It’s sweaty, messy, feverish fun. And it makes my inner control freak take me by the hand, sit me down, and rattle off our to-do list, item by item, in her most stern voice. I listen, but only for a moment. We live this way because we love it. There’s still time for laying by the pool, reading a good book, or watching The Leftovers on Sunday night.

It sometimes feels like I am close to my max, but I dive into the deep end anyway. I dream of quiet days with blank to-do lists, but I know in my heart that I’m not made for stillness. Life is just ramping up. It will get crazier and more delightful if we are lucky enough to have kids one day. I can’t imagine a more wild, busy, and fun life… but it’s around the corner.

These ramblings are like the thoughts circling around in my mind. Typing them out feels like a deep breath and a full exhale. I share them in hopes that you understand where I am. That you think, “I’ve been there.” That you feel my love and anxiety, joy and fear.

I have never been more confident or more unsure. It feels like going into the deep end… cool and refreshing, exhilarating and a little scary.

Image via Unsplash

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It’s OK, I’m OK, Everything is OK

Town Lake - Austin, TX | kaileenelise.com

Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.
(Dennis Waitley)

I could also name this post, “what I tell myself.”

This blog is one of the few things I’ve started, quit, and then picked back up. The other two things are journaling and practicing yoga. Most of the time, I make something a habit or I give it up completely.

Life has been busy (like most people) but I am seriously surprised that it’s been years since I posted regularly. There were a few good years, then infrequent phases where I popped in for a few days, wrote some posts, and then drifted away.

You could say I’m being hard on myself, but I disagree. Because a few of the things that help keep me healthy, happy, and loving life are… practicing yoga, journaling, and blogging. Right now I’m doing great with 1 out of 3.

Why do we resist the things that fuel us? Why are The Bachelor and Real Housewives so powerfully entertaining?

The other day I read my “about me” page, and was shocked to see how much things have changed in the two years since I last updated it. I was living in a different state, working a different job, my Mister and I were boyfriend & girlfriend, I hadn’t traveled outside the US, and I was still enrolled in yoga teacher training.

emerald cut engagement ring - photo by taylorlord.com | kaileenelise.com

Catching up’s not my favorite, but we gotta chat about all that’s happened.

May 2013 was a huge month. My Mister and I got engaged!!!!! We moved to Austin, TX!!! In June, we went on a trip to Europe. It was both of our first times out of the country. We visited London, Rome, Cinque Terre, Lucern, and Paris. Traveling has always been a strong suit of ours, but this was our first mega-vacation. It was just the two of us for 19 days and 4 countries. We loved every minute of it.

Cinque Terre, Italy - Travel Pic | kaileenelise.com

In July we got settled in our new apartment and in August, my Mister started his new job (that’s why we moved here), and we started planning our wedding. I kept my job from before the move and worked from home.

The fall was a blur and the holidays went by quickly. We kicked of 2014 with a quiet night together, just the two of us in our apartment. It was perfect and exactly what we needed. The first half of this year has gone by so quickly!

The Japan Times | kaileenelise.com

My Mister and I went on another big travel adventure in March. We traveled to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Seoul. This trip was for his work and I was crazy nervous about being on my own. It turned out that I loved Japan. I learned a lot about myself that trip. My mind is pretty good at making up scary stories about what might/could/maybe happen in the future… but fortunately 99% of them aren’t true.

Oh, I also quit my corporate job and launched Happy Living!!

We’re on a mission to improve the health & wellbeing of the world, one person at a time. On the blog I share ideas for living with health, abundance, and compassion. To see what I’m up to over there, subscribe to our blog and follow us @veryhappyliving. This has been the craziest opportunity! It’s something I have always dreamed of doing. I don’t know what else to say other than, I am both petrified and excited to “go” to work every day.

That pretty much sums up the highlights.

To be truthful, I cannot think of any lows. I wouldn’t have been able to say that a few years ago. We encountered some major bumps in the road through 2011 and 2012. Looking back, 2013 was a lot of upheaval and change. All of it was challenging, and all of it has been good.

2014 has gone by at lightning speed… but I’m doing my best to pause and smell the roses because in November, my Mister and I are getting married. Eeeeeeeeek!!

wedding planning inspiration | kaileenelise.com

I have been thinking a lot about this blog and where I want it to go.

Now that I’ve launched Happy Living, I miss writing from a pure, personal, girlie, and somewhat selfish perspective. Does that make sense? I have been craving real-talk and creative weekend to-do lists.

This blog thing is a ton of work, but I miss it. A lot.

I’m giving myself the month of June to figure things out. If I don’t make this space a priority, then I am going to give myself permission to let it go. If I kick it back into gear and find myself inspired… be ready because I’ll be posting again soon.
 

Image credit: all photos by me, except the engagement picture by Taylor Lord

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Catching Up – Thoughts on January 2013

Glenwood Avenue Raleigh Traffic Light | KaileenElise.com

Cherish your visions & your dreams
as they are the children of your soul,
the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.
(Napolean Hill)

When I decided to get back into blogging, I got sad about all the time that had passed. Things got busy and I had my reasons for stepping away, but I just don’t like how there’s a big chunk of time missing. Especially since this particular chunk of time has been eventful and amazing.

January marked the beginning of my yoga teacher training at Franklin Street Yoga Center in Chapel Hill, NC. My teacher Lori Burgwyn is the founder and owner of the studio. She’s a true leader in the Chapel Hill community and an example of living with passion. Lori has trained with a lot of great leaders in the yoga world, and the program we followed was heavily inspired by Baron Baptiste’s Power Vinyasa style.

Franklin Street Yoga Center - Yoga Teacher Training | KaileenElise.com

I originally planned to complete my training in the second half of 2012, but that went by the wayside when I hurt my back. Re-joining YTT in January was the right choice, but it was scary at the same time. It had been less than 6 months since my back surgery, and I was nowhere near the physical shape I intended to be in when I signed up the year before. (I shared some of my thoughts about all this here.) Those first few weekends of YTT were quite an experience. I was proud of myself for showing up, but I was constantly afraid I might hurt myself or even worse, chicken out. I was in my head, and also exactly where I needed to be.

Ladybird Lake from Four Seasons Austin, TX | KaileenElise.com

One more big thing happened this past January. My Mister and I took our first trip to Austin, TX together. He was wrapping up business school and trying to line up a job. Austin was really never on our radar — we wanted to stay in NC, but were open to the idea of big city living in NYC or Boston. That visit was short, but a total blast. I went to The Spa at The Four Seasons (total splurge!) while my Mister went to his business meetings. We ate well, drank well, and started a journey that would eventually lead to us living in downtown Austin.

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It Feels Good

Tour Montparnasse Paris Kaileen Elise

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
(Elizabeth Gilbert)

Ever since I was little, I’ve always kept journals. On and off. From time to time. Whenever I go too long without writing, I start a new one because it doesn’t feel right having thoughts from November 2012 mixed in with memories from February 2013. When I store old journals for safe keeping, I tear out all the blank pages. As a result, I have a lot of skinny journals from years past.

I’m not sure what this habit says about me. Maybe I’m too enthusiastic about starting fresh. Or I should journal more often. In fact, that’s how nearly all of my journals begin… “I should write more often. I promise to write daily. I will do a better job this time.” The self-shaming makes me not even want to bother with a new journal, but writing always makes me feel better. More focused. Clear about things. It always has.

I’ve been feeling the same way about this website for nearly 2 years. Start. Stop. Looooong pause. Start. Stop. I toyed with the idea of tearing everything down and starting from scratch, but there are so many goals, stories, and ideas preserved here. Letting it languish wasn’t my intention. Scrapping the site might be a comfortable repetition of habit, but it’s not the right thing to do.

The past few months have been really incredible. I want to share all of it with you. After 5 awesome years together, My mister and I got engaged! He graduated from business school. We moved to Austin for his new job. I got to keep my old job through the move, and now I’m working remotely. We went on a mega vacation to Europe. (First trip overseas for both of us!) I found a yoga studio I love. We’ve settled into a routine. I have been cooking up a storm. We started to plan our wedding.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share some of the memories we’ve made. Thanks to those of you who have stayed connected through Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Thanks for encouraging me to post again. It feels good.

Image credit: Taken by a kind stranger on the top of Tour Montparnasse in Paris

5

Turning & Returning

image_intentions&toes_kaileenelise

The quality of life is in proportion to the capacity for delight.
(Julia Cameron)

It’s been nearly 7 months since my last post — and even though I didn’t drop off the face of the earth completely, it feels like I’ve been gone for way too long just the right amount of time.

Last summer I hurt my back, and at first I thought it was a muscle tweak that I could fix on my own with stretching, massage & acupuncture. Still injured, I began yoga teacher training in June and hoped for the best. The outer edge of my left calf and the top of my left foot were completely numb. I walked slower each day, with a hunched over shuffle.

I was in pain and doing my best to push through. When I finally went to see a doctor, I learned that no amount of pushing or positive thinking was going to remedy my ailment. I needed surgery to alleviate the pressure on my spinal nerve from a herniated disc at L4-L5.

image_herniatedl4l5_kaileenelise

I had surgery on August 3rd. It was a lot more real than I expected. Walking after back surgery is an accomplishment. Getting up into a standing position is a triumph. I didn’t realize that I would truly have to start at the beginning. Friends cooked dinner for us. I played on Pinterest to pass the time. My work was extremely accommodating in those first few weeks after surgery. I thought about giving up on yoga teacher training forever.

After a few months, I woke up one morning and felt normal for the first time since surgery. I started physical therapy, but got frustrated with the pathetically slow movements of rehab. I walked a little, stretched and practiced some yoga. The fear of re-injury was (and can still be) a powerful force.

image_postop_kaileenelise

I let myself get swept up by the glittering polar express of the holiday season. My Mister and I spent two weekends in Boston, cooked through our 5th Thanksgiving together, traveled to Arizona & Ohio to visit family, and finished 2012 with good friends, sparkly party hats and a keg of Stella.

Some things about 2013 feel very familiar, and yet I know there will be plenty of surprises. Last January, I focused on the Whole Living Action Plan. I had 12 awesome intentions and books for 2012. I was inspired and ready to go. This January, I tried to slow things down. Unpack from our travels. Eat healthier meals. Think about blogging. Answer emails. Enjoy time with friends.

image_kaileenelise

I won’t be training for a half marathon this year (2011 and 2012 began with race plans). I will be training to become a certified yoga teacher. I won’t be attacking my diet with such aggressive restrictions. I will be attacking my overactive calendar & to do list. I won’t be so concerned about what’s around the corner. I will concern myself with paying active attention to what’s in front of me.

It’s been nearly 7 months since my last blog post and I won’t even pretend to know when I will post again. All I can say is that I think about this space often (dare I say daily?) and send loving thoughts to those of you who have traveled with me on this path.

I hope to come visit you again soon, but until then…

image_2013intentions_kaileenelise

I wish you sparkle, abundance and joy.

10

Back in Action

image - inspiration everywhere

Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art.
And you can change your life anytime if you aren’t enjoying the dream.
(Ruiz)

Hello, there. It has been way, way too long. How have you been? Tell me about your last vacation. Who did your hair? That color looks great on you. Who are you dating these days? Are you all caught up on Bethenny Ever After? Read any good books lately?

Let’s grab lunch sometime this week. We’ve got to catch up… I’ve missed you.

image - missed you

In January, I set intentions for the year and gave each month a focus. I planned to take a break from blogging in June. I wanted to power down my devices and go on a 30-day digital retreat. A good plan indeed, the desire to step away just arrived much sooner than I expected. And it stuck around for much longer than I anticipated.

I kept an eye on Twitter and Instagram, flipped through my favorite blogs in Google Reader. I thought about you often, and sometimes worried that you would forget about me during this unexplained absence. It’s been a few months, but feels like I’ve carried you with me on my travels to Boston, Napa, Scottsdale, and to the Carolina coast.

image - beachside reading

I wrote posts in my mind often. Especially when…

  • I decided not to run in my 2nd half marathon
  • I read Joy the Baker’s new cookbook
  • I ordered a bunch of new goodies from Sephora
  • I built another website for a community organization
  • I was accepted into Yoga Teacher Training
  • I fell in love with this song

I am eager to get back into this thing called blogging. Looking forward to sharing fun ideas, deep moments and silly things like my new crush on orange office supplies.

Thanks, as always, for reading. For sparkling. For being you. I couldn’t be happier to dwell in the interwebs alongside you.

It feels good to be back in action.

 

Images by me on Instagram :: 1 / 2 / 3

7

Happy Memorial Day!

image - driving to the coast

The big question is whether you are going to
be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
(Joseph Campbell)

Pssst! Hello, my dear friends. I’m peeking out from my months of internet hibernation to wish you a very happy Monday, and (if you’re in the US) a very happy Memorial Day.

The Mister and I are spending our last day in a lovely beach house on the Carolina coast. The past few days have been filled with sunshine, friends, fat baby thighs, delicious dinners, summertime music, games, and plenty of adult beverages. It’s just the thing we needed.

On Wednesday, I’m jumping into a regular blogging routine. Yahoooo! I could not be more excited! Even though there’s no sign of my busy life slowing down any time soon, I know I need to make room in my schedule for this.

Sharing this space with you is one of my favorite things. It lights me up, fills me with joy.

Image by me on Instagram

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