Weekly Sip: Take a Step Back

I’m back on the blog with another installment of my Weekly Sip series. How are y’all liking this series? If you have any comments, or topics you’d like me to cover, or questions about anything I’ve written about so far, please leave me a comment! If you’re new to the Weekly Sip, you can catch up on my previous posts here.

So let’s get to it this week…

How often do you take time to step back and look at all you’ve done?

We’ve got a new coffee shop in the Chattanooga coffee scene! The Frothy Monkey opened on the Southside a couple weeks ago, right next to the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel. Frothy Monkey is based in Nashville and has three locations up there; this is its first location outside of the Music City, and I’m so excited they picked Chattanooga.

weekly sip take a step back

The weekend before their official grand opening, they had a soft opening for local media and I stopped by after work to check it out. Along with some tasty hors d’oeuvres, the baristas served up some wine and beer–yes, Frothy Monkey serves adult beverages too–and tested some of their coffee and tea drinks.

I went back to Frothy Monkey this week for a pick-me-up before work. Their coffee and tea menu is really extensive and I’m excited to work my way through it the more I go back. This time, I opted for a cup of Moroccan jasmine mint green tea. It was as marvelous as it sounds, and a great way to start the work day.

Last week at work, my boss called an “all hands” meeting, in which everyone gathers to discuss office-wide updates on business, company culture or whatever else happens to be on his mind. He talked for a little bit about how our office fits in with the rest of the company–we are a satellite office of our HQ up in New York, of course–but then went on to something a little more important. “We’ve been so heads down with big projects lately,” he said, “that I think it’s time for us to take a step back and see just how much we’ve done in the last six months. Because it’s a ton of work, and it’s work we should all be very proud of.”

He then went through a presentation that highlighted some of our best work over the last six months. And it was a lot of really really awesome work. Some of it I had even forgotten about, solely because we move so quickly that once one project is done, it’s on to the next one.

frothy monkey chattanooga latte

He was right. It was definitely time for that reminder.

Life has a tendency to move quickly. We’re almost through March and I feel like 2017 just started a couple weeks ago. At times I feel like I haven’t done all that much, but when I stop and really think about it, I’ve done so much more than I think, at work and outside of work. That’s usually how it goes, and that’s definitely how we felt at work that day.

Sometimes we forget about all the things we’ve done and all of the things we’ve accomplished because we’re forced to move on quickly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stop, look back and appreciate how far you’ve come. When you get overwhelmed and start to feel like you aren’t going anywhere, that’s the perfect time to take a step back and breathe and reflect. I can guarantee you that you’ve done a lot more than you think you have.

It’s so easy to think about what you haven’t done: gotten engaged, gotten married, found a job you love, traveled extensively, visited an exotic country, bought a house, lost those pesky pounds from college. Focusing too much on your “haven’t dones” holds you back in a negative mindset and prevents you from moving forward. It’s great to have those things as goals, but it’s all in your mindset.

Focus on what you have done and how you made those things happen. That positivity, confidence and determination will propel you toward anything you want to accomplish.

This is all part of the reason I started keeping my “memory jar” on my bookshelf. Each day, I try to write down one positive thing that happened that day on a piece of paper and put it in my jar. At the end of the year, I’ll go back and have all those memories to look back on. Or even before then, if I need to take that time to step back and remind myself of my accomplishments. Plus, it’s a nice way to keep track of all the things that happen throughout the year, so when December comes around, I won’t forget anything that happened in 2017.

Okay, maybe I don’t write something down every day. But at least a few times a week, I scribble down something positive that happened so I can remember it later. It seems small, but it makes a world of difference.

I’m really glad my boss took the time to remind us of all the work we’ve done in the last several months. I don’t think we realized how much we needed to hear and see it. So thanks for that.

When was the last time you took a step back? How did it help you moving forward? 

16 Books for Every 20-Something’s Reading List

Life as a 20-something isn’t always fun or pretty. I know, I’ve had the quarter-life crisis.  At times, it’s very challenging and makes you really dig deep into your soul for answers. But there are other places you can look, too… like your bookshelf.

I’ve always loved reading, but I’ll admit that, right now, I don’t read for pleasure as much as I should or would like to. There’s something about curling up with a good book (an actual, physical book, not an e-book) before bed or on a rainy day that just calms the mind and takes you away from whatever is bothering you on any given day. A book can be an escape, and it can also provide a sense of comfort and understanding for anything you may be going through or feeling in your 20s.

16 books for every 20 something's reading list

I did a lot of reading shortly after I finished my master’s, but before I’d found a job. I didn’t feel stressed, but I wasn’t sleeping and was subconsciously anxious. Making time to read for pleasure helped make that month and a half between graduation and starting my job a little easier.

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Weekly Sip: Take a Moment

Okay okay, I took a week off but I’m back with another installment of The Weekly Sip. Life got crazy for a couple weeks, but it’s all good now.

Last week, I had a day off from work for Presidents’ Day. We don’t get days off super often, so I took full advantage of my free Monday and spent the afternoon at Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary. I walk or drive by this cute place almost daily and only started going there recently. Boy, had I been missing out.

Wildflower is a super cute tea shop with a huge selection of loose-leaf teas: black, green, white, herbal, you name it, Wildflower probably has it. They’re all organic and biodynamic, to boot. In addition to teas, Wildflower also carries herbs, essential oils and locally-made herbal products. They believe in the healing powers of botanicals and want to share it with anyone who stops in.

weekly sip take a moment

Green tea is usually my go-to at any cafe, and Wildflower has several green teas to choose from. I usually opt for a personal pot of the jasmine green tea, but the Moroccan mint and citrus teas are both great choices, too. On my day off, I enjoyed my pot of tea while catching up on some other writing and blog-related projects. Sometimes a change of scenery is the key to increased productivity.

On the last Friday of each month, the creative community in Chattanooga gathers for a Creative Mornings meet-up. In fact, there are more than 150 Creative Mornings chapters across the nation and in other countries. These meet-ups welcome creatives–and everyone is creative, according to the CM manifesto–to come together and connect with like-minded people over coffee and breakfast.

Side note, the Chattanooga CM chapter always has delicious donuts that I’ve been told are gluten-free, vegan, organic, all-natural and all that… which means they’re health food, right?

wildflower tea shop chattanooga

This month’s speaker was a local wine specialist, and he spoke about embracing the moments we have rather than chasing after them, and making the most of the moments we do capture and embrace. He specifically encouraged us to take a moment to listen, a moment to slow down and to be in the moment when it happens. After a couple of particularly stressful weeks, that was something I needed to hear.

Last Friday afternoon, a couple of my coworkers said they were planning a Saturday morning hike to start the weekend. I hadn’t been hiking since the fall and had been itching to go on one of these unseasonably warm weekends, so I told them I’d like to join. When I woke up Saturday morning, though, I wondered if I should stay home, go to my apartment’s gym early and stay in and work for the day. I had a lot on my to-do list, after all. But I remembered how much I’d been wanting to go for a hike for the last few months, and I don’t spend enough time with my lovely coworkers outside of the office (sorry, y’all). I texted the couple of girls who planned the trip and said I’d definitely join. The outside air would do me some good, anyway.

I met them at the trailhead for Rainbow Lake to Edward’s Point on Signal Mountain, one of the more popular hiking trails in the area. From the starting point to the main scenic overlook at Edward’s Point was just over two miles, doable, for sure. We stopped several times along the way to marvel at waterfalls and rock formations, but the view from the point was absolutely worth the hike.

edward's point signal mountain

I’m forever amazed at how stunningly beautiful nature is, but this area of Tennessee is certainly blessed with Mother Nature at her finest. Any view of the Tennessee River makes my heart skip a beat. That sounds romantic and cliche, but I won’t deny it. Like any millennial, the first thing I did was take my phone out of my backpack and snap a few pictures (and ask my coworker to take a few of me, too).

As much as I wanted those photos to capture the beauty of that spot, what was more important is the fact that this place exists and God created this special spot in nature. There’s something chilling and sobering about standing on top of a mountain, looking down and seeing the rest of the world below.  Sure, it’s not that high up in the grand scheme of things, but it’s higher than I spend most of my days, and that’s enough of a change in perspective. Those breaths of mountain air were just what I needed.

edward's point chattanooga

We stayed at the overlook for several minutes before moving on. Before we continued, one of my coworkers said, “It’s amazing to be up here and just take a moment to take it all in, and listen.”

I let my companions gather their backpacks and head back toward the trail, but before I followed, I took one more moment and one more breath of that air. I listened to the wind, the birds, the water. I thanked God for creating it.

It’s easy to take those mountains and that scenery for granted. I drive by Lookout and Signal Mountains every day going to and from work, and I see photos of similar scenes from my friends all the time. I always think, “I’ll get up there eventually, I’ve got plenty of time to plan some hikes.” But do I ever go up as often as I’d like? Of course not. I let the rest of my life get in the way and before I know it, months have passed and no hikes have happened. But if there’s anything that should never be taken for granted, it’s that God has blessed us with scenes and moments like that, and we should embrace them at every opportunity.

Next time you’re given an experience like that: take a breath and take it in. I almost didn’t go hiking. I needed it more than I thought I did.

One last note: check out the Creative Mornings website and see if there’s a chapter in your city. And if there is, go to the next meet-up.

When was the last time you took a moment to listen, to take everything in? 

Chattanooga Tasting Club Builds Community Around Wine & Friends

For the longest time, wine was never my first choice in a drink. I was told it was an acquired taste, that I’d come around to it. I started with sweeter moscato wines and worked my way up to chardonnay, and now I’m trying to branch into red wine. Apparently it’s better for you.

The Chattanooga Tasting Club, led by wine aficionado and world-class pianist Tim Hinck, is helping me refine my wine palate and find my favorite sips.

Tim started the Chattanooga Tasting Club earlier this year after wanting to share his love and knowledge of wine beyond his established wine groups. He noticed that there’s an active wine community in Chattanooga and he wanted a place for them and others to connect and enjoy some nice wines together. Whether you’re a wine newbie, an aspiring sommelier or anything in between, the Chattanooga Tasting Club has a spot for you at the bar.

chattanooga tasting club

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My Vision Board for 2017

It’s never too late for a “2017” post, right? It’s still in the first quarter of the year, so I say yes.

I’ve been focusing a lot of self care and positivity lately. The world needs more positivity, encouragement and inspiration, and I just want to do my part to keep it present. My Weekly Sip series was started in part because of this (but also because I believe we all have stories to tell and getting down to the barest bones of those stories can make a difference). I personally find that visual, physical reminders of happiness and inspiration can make focusing on the best things in life that much easier.

My sweet friend Caroline–who recently started blogging over at Adventures in Nonsense–told me about a book she read called Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale. One part of the book mentioned vision boards and she told me she was thus inspired to make a vision board of her own. I’d bought a little 12″ x 12″ cork board a few weeks back (under $10 at Target, by the way), but hadn’t decided exactly what I wanted to do with it. Caroline and I chatted a little more, and a vision board sounded like a good idea to me, too.

vision board for 2017

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Weekly Sip: Own Your Happiness

It’s that time of the week again… another Weekly Sip post is coming at you! If you’re new to this series, you can read about my intentions for it here, and catch up on my other posts here.

This week, I’m getting real. Like, really real. It’s time to talk about being happy with your life and owning your own happiness. But first, a question.

Are you happy with your life? Is your own happiness a priority right now?

If you answered “no” to either of those questions, then this post is for you.

There’s a bakery downtown called Niedlov’s that I’ve been wanting to try for the better part of a year. I walk and drive by it often, as it’s near one of my favorite bars, and we’ve had some of their pastries at work before. But there’s something different about visiting the actual location and enjoying a cup of coffee and pastry on a Monday morning before a client meeting.

Niedlov’s bakes a lot of bread and pastries, and distributes a lot of their products to other restaurants and cafes around town. I’d had sandwiches served on Niedlov’s buns at other places and was impressed, so I was excited to try a buttery cheese croissant. I paired it with a cafe au lait, which is coffee with steamed milk — not too sweet, but not overly strong or bitter, either.

weekly sip own your happiness

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t always have to be a big meal. I always eat a small bowl of berries at home, and that with my cheese croissant and cafe au lait was all I needed to feel full. Next time, I’ll try one of their sweeter options — maybe a mocha with a chocolate croissant.

I’ve always been a believer that there is always something in life to be happy about, and that you control your own happiness. Not everything in life is in your hands, of course, but happiness is always possible and always part of the equation.

As much as I love living in Chattanooga and where my life is now, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t always like this. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was unhappy with my life, but I wasn’t as happy as I could be. I loved my job from day one, and starting over in a brand new city was nothing new to me. But I struggled in other areas and let too much negativity get to me. I eventually had my epiphany (thanks, quarter-life crisis), found who and what makes me happy and have been a completely different person ever since.

I learned that it was up to me to find my happiness. The only thing keeping me from being completely, 100% happy, was me.

Lately, I’ve had some similar conversations with a few friends. They’re unhappy with their jobs, wondering why they’re in the cities they’re in, wondering why they feel “stuck” or in a rut or how much longer those feelings will last. They’re experiencing their quarter-life crises, and even though they’re different than mine was, I understand those emotions completely.

One day, I asked one of those friends what’s holding her back — what’s holding her back from finding a job that she wakes up happy to go to each day, a job where she feels appreciated, moving to a new town or city where she can explore and find new adventures, from living a life that she would be happy to live. I understood and empathized with her answer, but I also encouraged her to consider her own happiness. Making other people happy at your own expense can only carry you so far. Eventually, you lose the will to even do that. And if you can’t find your own happiness, you can’t possibly have the energy or drive to help others feel happy, for whatever reason.

I understand that it’s hard to start over, pick up and move and start a new life. That kind of change is terrifying. As many times as I’ve moved and started over, I was still scared and nervous to make my move to Chattanooga. But ultimately what matters the most is your own happiness. As I’ve said, I eventually found what I was looking for. And I have all the faith that you can, too.

You control your own happiness. It’s largely up to you. You control your destiny (to an extent).

Take some time to reflect on your life as you live it now: are you truly happy? What would make you happier? What changes do you need to make to feel the happiness you desire? Find a way to make those changes and bring more happiness into your life. If you’re the praying type–and I am–pray about it.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4.

If you aren’t happy with your own life, then it becomes more difficult to help make other’s lives happy. As another friend said, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Do what it takes to take care of yourself.

Find what makes you happy, do it, and own your happiness. Your life will be so much better for it.

What makes you happy? What can you do to own your happiness?