Do Something Revival

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today's podcast is a mini-episode where I talk about how fear made me both quit things and never start them.  This might sound familiar to you (I hope so), because I tried to start a series called, "Do Something" where people do something that scares them.  It didn't really take off like I imagined it would, but I'm not ready to give up on it yet!

Do Something? It can be big, like shifting careers; it can be small, like signing up for a fitness or cooking class.  But I think we all need a little push to face our fears, challenge ourselves, and make something special of our lives--and of course, all with this focus in mind: PROGRESS, not perfection.

In this mini-episode I share one of the biggest things I quit out of fear, the many things I never started because I was afraid, and how I have tried to face my fears this past year including starting this blog, creating a podcast, and doing some design projects.

Here is what I want to revive: I want to encourage a movement where people choose that "something" that makes them nervous, inspired, and excited, and face it head on.  For some, it will be a dream they had growing up that they abandoned; for others, it will be signing up for a new hobby or interest.  For some, it will be leaving their horrendous job and pursuing another career they've long put off.  For others, it could be calling insurance to argue over a claim.  And for many, it might be that they have to take a good look at themselves to figure out where to even start.

I want to recenter my focus on sharing "Round-ups" and highlighting what people are doing that scare them.  Those round-ups will appear both on the blog and on the podcast--in fact, I'll do a mini-highlight on a listener's "Do Something" every week from here on out.  I also want to do guest posts here on the blog, where people talk about their story with this focus in mind, in addition to whole podcasts highlighting this series.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you--both what you are up to and people you'd like to nominate to be highlighted!

Please share your "Do Something" by tagging me on social media with #aboutprogresspodcast or by emailing me (find my info here), and private messaging me on Instagram or Facebook, where my handle is @aboutprogress.

You can listen to more about all of this on the podcast below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Lisa Schader || Running toward fears while battling postpartum anxiety

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It took a lot for me to convince Lisa Schader to do this podcast interview; she protested that she had so few "followers" and wasn't "famous" for anything.  Guess what?  Lisa is exactly the type of person I want to interview.

That's because Lisa is a wonderful recovering perfectionist.

I'd be hard-pressed to find any one else who is more knowledgeable on all things self-improvement and human development related.  Lisa has a wealth of knowledge on these topics in great part because of her insatiable desire to learn and improve her life; but it also came from the huge struggles she faced after the birth of her first son.  Lisa found herself immediately facing extreme postpartum anxiety; anxiety fueled by perfectionism Lisa didn't fully realize was in control; anxiety so intense that she couldn't sleep or eat, take care of herself or, most devastatingly, take care of her baby.  Lisa describes the low points of being the opposite of her usual self, how she made recovery her top priority, and the growth she has built the past five years as she has run towards her fears instead of away from them.

Lisa is in a much better place now, is still passionate about self-improvement, but also has great wisdom in how to do so without being obsessive and imbalanced.  There are so many jewels in this interview, including Lisa's tips on how to set goals and manage them in a way that they are achievable in our day-to-day lives.

Listen below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Show Notes:
Lisa's blog (please resurrect it!)

Aubrey Greenan || Placing your heart in the work that matters most

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

May I be straight with you?  Aubrey Greenan is a female unicorn.

She is gorgeous, obviously; she is mega talented as a professionally trained opera singer (and I'd add so many more talents to that list); she is incredibly bright, knowledgeable, and eloquent; and, the best part, Aubrey is one of the most sincerely kind and level-headed people I've ever known.

In the podcast today, Aubrey and I speak about her path to attending one of the most prestigious vocal programs in the country, her struggles with health and anxiety that humbled her, and how acknowledging her limits and what mattered most to her better empowered her to choose a path that looked very different from the one she easily could have pursued.  In short, this woman chose family over fame.

I know Aubrey's interview will empower you to take stock of your own needs, your deepest goals in life, and to better place your heart in the work that matters most to you, instead of what the world tell you to.

Listen below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Meg Miles || Owning our gifts and finding true strength comes from balance

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

If you haven't heard of Meg from MOMSTRONG, then let me introduce you to this rare jewel of a human being.

Meg is blessed with an abundance of gifts, from her knowledge of health, exercise, and nutrition (she is a pediatric nurse and a certified trainer, after all!), to her amazing food recipes, mom tips, and even her photography and interior design savvy.  But Meg is unusual in that she works incredibly hard at all of these, and does so in an effort to light the lives of those around her, particularly women.  She isn't in it for the glory; she is in it to spread the love.

I was first drawn to Meg's Instagram account and then her blog.  She was the first "fitness" social media guru who actually made me feel inspired AND good about myself at the same time.  That is no easy feat!  Her workouts, food recommendations, and more are all geared to help women become stronger and healthier, sure; but even better, she wants each woman to accept herself for who she is, to remain balanced, and to not give in to society's dictates on what a well-rounded, healthy woman looks like.  As Meg says, "healthy looks different for everyone."

Meg shares about some times in her life where she struggled greatly with the weaknesses of her perfectionism.  During these times, she compared herself too much and too often to the girls around her and struggled with her self-confidence. Despite looking like she was on the top of her game from the outside, Meg felt everything but that on the inside.  For a good while, Meg tried to stuff down the talents she possessed out of fear of not measuring up, as well due to her experiences of getting made fun of by her peers for being good at something.

But as a young adult, she learned to shed those voices and strove to accept herself, work on her gifts, and then share them with the world in hopes to help other women discover and share their own talents as well.  Meg also talks about how her work as a pediatric nurse has also inspired her balance-minded focus.  Finally, Meg speaks more about what inspired her interview series, The MOMSTRONG Project and what she has learned from the remarkable people she has interviewed.   Truly, this woman has a heart of gold and I can't wait for you to hear more!

Listen below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Show Notes:
Small Seed website for free Light the World downloads.
Meg's website, blog, and Instagram

Reading with My Buddies

Monday, December 5, 2016

(This post is not sponsored, but the links included are affiliate links.)

I fail in a LOT of ways as a mom.  Among my myriad of weaknesses, I'm not naturally good at getting on the floor with my kids and playing make-believe.  I mean, I can do it, obviously; but it's something I have to remind myself and force myself to do.  I don't really come up with the fun games my husband seems to do at the drop of a hat.  And craft projects are not the regular around here, even including something simple as play-dough.  (Although, my daughter colors all the time--but that's all her!)

But reading?  Reading with my kids might be the only thing about motherhood that I picked up naturally. (Must be the English-Major and Former-English-Teacher in me . . .)

I read to my oldest daughter right from the start, and it's been the same with her two little brothers. Nothing makes me happier than when my 16-month old comes from the across the house with a book he wants me to read to him--and he won't stop hitting me in the face with it until I do, ha!

There is something about grabbing a big stack of books, piling on the couch together, and feeling the weight of my children's little bodies next to mine that feels like my most glorious part of motherhood.   We connect, we learn together, we don't get stuck on the boob tube, and it can even be free. (Library!)

We don't allow much screen-time in our home because my children turn into selfish demons if I they watch anything more than twenty minutes.  Seriously!  The resulting behavior is so not worth it to me.  And I just never caught on to even using educational apps on other screens. So reading books, or even the kids quietly looking at their own, is a big part of our go-to family entertainment; I feel like it is actually foundational to who our family is.

I say this all not to make others feel guilty.  Believe me, I stink at almost everything else "mommy"-wise.  But reading has been the glue that has kept our family (mostly) happy.

I don't feel too bad about spending money on my kids' books, so we regularly get them for rewards and presents. (I would rather buy ten books than one big toy, my poor children! And we often give books for friends' birthdays.  Sorry, kids!)  But, I'm also cheap.  So my go-to's to find cheapish books are usually TJ Maxx, library sales, sales on places like Brickyard Buffalo, the Today Show's Steals and Deals segment, Amazon, and my neighbors' hand-me-downs.

Some of our very favorites are: For baby books, we are obsessed with anything Sandra Boynton.  They are so witty and the rhythm of what you read somehow makes even a two month old smile!  We also love any of the Olivia books, Angelina Ballerina and No David series (my 16 month old current favorite is No David!), Creepy Carrots, and just whatever stack we've taken off the shelves from the library without looking twice, which usually includes a lot of books about trucks for my obsessed 3 year old.  (PS: if you are looking for someone who reallllly knows her stuff, check out Everyday Reading.  She knows everything and anything about books, including children's books.  She's a former librarian!)

We are in the thick of the Christmas season now, and reading Christmas books at least every night was a big tradition in my family and we're carrying that on.  My mother has gifted us several amazing books, but we want to grow our collection.  So, Brad and I started a new tradition a couple of years ago to get a few Christmas books from the bookstores on our anniversary every year.  Our anniversary is December 28th, so the books are usually heavily discounted by then.  It takes care of our date and presents, too, especially during an already busy and tapped-out time of the year.

Below I'm sharing our most very favorite Christmas books so far.  If you are looking for a new book to add to your collection or are wanting to even start this tradition, you will not regret any of these!  They are a good mix of sentimental, touching, funny, and instructive.  

1) The Wild Christmas Reindeer: I love anything by Jan Brett.  The Scandinavian illustrations are so beautiful, and the kids love the little side stories she includes in the borders.
2) Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle: This story makes this non-cryer cry almost every dang time.... Teaches kids that Christmas is about serving others who need it.
3) Annie and the Wild Animals: Another Jan Brett one!  My kids love all the animals in this one.
4) Merry Christmas, Curious George: We've always been huge Curious George fans.
5) The Jolly Christmas Postman: This book is new to us this year and it is AMAZING!
6) The Touch of the Master's Hand: Another tear-jerker that does a beautiful job reminding us the true source of the Christmas season.

What Christmas books does your family love?!  Please share.

Some other mamas are sharing their favorite books--Christmas or otherwise!  Check them out below, and see Madeline and Kiana's blogs to sign up to participate in the next series.

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand // Juli at Enjoying the Journey
Rachel at Tutus and Heels // Lori at Love My Big Happy Family
Cayli at Nightchayde // Shani at Sunshine & Munchkins // Chelsea at Tessa Marie

Positive Things on the Internet

Friday, December 2, 2016

It's been a few weeks since I shared some positive things I found on the internet.  That is for two reasons: 1) With all my new "hobbies," I have had even less time to actually read much, which is something I'd like to change! 2) The internet wasn't really a happy place around the election . . . Am I right?!

So, let's bring it back!

Here are some things I read recently that made me have
a little more faith in humanity:

1) You all know what I fan I am of Hungry Runner Girl...  This post was excellent because of what she shares on HOW to talk back to negative thoughts, obsessiveness, or self-doubts.  Spoiler: you ask yourself, "What good is it going to do?"

2) I love what my friend posted about 8 Things Your Child Should Know By 8 Years Old.  It is short, not-preachy, and helpful.  (Also, check out her Gilmore Girls inspired photo shoot and a sweeeeet story with her husband!)

3) I am trying to make this Christmas way less about spending money on presents and more about service, including donating to worthy causes.  This article of a woman you left her must-million dollar events business for a charity she founded blew my mind.

4) Speaking of service, I recently learned about Go Jane Give.  This is like gofundme for worthy causes.  You volunteer of your talents and interested to create a fundraiser that matches what you are willing to provide (teaching lessons on baking, classes on rock climbing, hosting birthday parties, art, etc.).  The money goes to a worthy, credible cause of your choice.  I have created one myself but am feeling a little nervous about posting it...  But I hereby promise to do that on by early next week!

5) I know I am slow to really take advantage of what The Small Seed has to offer; however, I finally took the time to peruse their actual website.  This article really spoke to my heart and reminded me to be grateful for the body I have.

I also printed off their free downloads for the #LightTheWorld campaign, including a giant tree for our little family to add service-star to, as well as a calendar that gives you a little service to do each day of December.  It's not too late to start, even if that ends up being next week!

What positive things have you recently found on the world wide web?

Courtney Rich || Reaching for success while powering through depression and anxiety

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Courtney Rich is so wise.

Sure, she is also a major success as a media consultant, blogger, cake queen, entrepreneur, and a mother, too!  But I think on top of alllll the gifts that Courtney has to offer the world, her wisdom is the best.

What's extra inspiring about Courtney is that she is willing to share the lessons she has hard-earned with others.  Courtney is wonderfully open about her struggles as an adult with battling depression and anxiety.  People who don't personally know Courtney might be surprised with the struggles she talks about in this episode, as she is so warm and happy.  But this go-getter is constantly staying optimistic, productive, and focused as a learned method to deal with the deep sadness that she has to routinely face.

What can you take from this interview?

You can learn from Courtney's passionate spirit.  She pursues things--not without fear--but with a full heart.  She is a go-getter to the core, despite having so many reasons not to be.

You can be encouraged.  Courtney is a champion of others.  She learned to compare herself to no one but Courtney, and because of that she doesn't compete with others' successes, but instead cheers them on.

You can be strengthened.  Through her years of battling depression and anxiety, Courtney says she can look back and now tell herself, "You are stronger than you thought you were." Courtney's inner strength is driven by a healthy dose of self-acceptance, as she embraces these hard parts of her life and does what is within her power to prevent her bouts of depression and anxiety, but also better face them when they do arise.

You can borrow Courtney's tools she uses to battle these demons, some of which include plenty of daily routines, list-making, self-care, and pursuing passions that give her purpose and fulfillment.  Oh, and learning how to say "no." And most importantly, the underlying motivation of her life to live in a way that inspires her own children to live happy, meaningful lives.

Finally, you can borrow the mantra Courtney left us with, "I am capable."

Listen below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Design Tuesday: Relaxed Traditional Master Bedroom

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I have been having such a great time doing my e-design work!  I wanted to share a little of one I have been working on for my friend from college.  

Heather and her husband have lived in 7 apartments in 5 cities in 3 states before settling down in their home in Texas a year ago.  They wanted to finally have a bedroom to call their own!  After completing her questionnaire, Heather and I whittled down their style to "Relaxed Traditional," which is a mix of classic furniture and a happy, comfortable feel with some fun, color, and modern touches.  

Heather wanted a wood bed and, while they loved their duvet, the Texas heat proved to make that too uncomfortable.  She and her husband liked the idea of a colorful quilt. They also needed some black-out curtains and a full-length mirror.  Finally, they had a paint color already chosen.

Here are one before pictures, but the after photos won't be for a while so Heather and her husband can finalize their choices, purchases, and install (which I help with too, as they need it!).

After some more back-and-forth (including creating a Pinterest board to help us visualize things together), I started working on Heather's design plan and board.  I sent Heather this board first to get some initial feedback.  Here it is!
After Heather looked it over, they told me what they loved and what they wanted to be different.  In this case, they felt like the bed was too traditional and favored one of the sleigh beds that I had sent to them, with its straighter lines.  They also liked the idea of a bench, but weren't sold on the denim color.  I found out that she was interested in having more red, as the rest of the home has touches of that color.  I love looking for deals, so I spent hours finding affordable options. Then I fine-tuned the design board and fleshed out a full design plan.  A design plan details more about what she can buy/DIY, as well as the how and why behind placing things in her room; you can seen that plan here.

Here is the finalized board!

Again, I'll still be around for Heather as they get their room together and make purchases. 

I have some remaining slots available for my heavily-discounted rate of $100 per room.  (My prices will quadruple within a year!)  If you are interested in e-design and want to learn more, please contact me at

Jaimee Davis, From amateur athlete to Ironman, one step at a time (AB #003)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let me tell you something about Jaimee: she is a total rockstar.

A few years ago, Jaimee was an amateur athlete who caught the running bug first, and then the triathlon bug.  After completing a sprint triathlon, she set a goal to participate in the IRONMAN World Championships, held in Kona, Hawaii.  Only the most elect of athletes are accepted: they have to win first place in their age group of another full IRONMAN competition.  (Oh, and that entails a 2.4 mile swim, 100 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.)  Jaimee decided this was something she could achieve in four years.

She did it in two.

This involved a tremendous amount of grit, sacrifice, dedication, and . . . self-doubt.  When you decide to not only become an IRONMAN, but to win one, you also decide to make small goals to reach for every single day, in every swim, run, and bike ride.  And the thing I love the most about Jaimee?  She says that the majority of the time, she didn't reach her target goals.  But she didn't let that stop her.  She surrounded herself with people who believed in her, and didn't listen to the ones who tried to tell her otherwise.

Jaimee says she is not a perfectionist, which is something that most definitely separates her from her fellow Ironman competitors.  In fact, she says her flexibility and the positive view she keeps of herself made up the very key to her success.  If she had only been satisfied with perfection, then she would have quit a thousand times.  Instead, Jaimee let her vision of herself achieving her goal drive her past those days where every workout didn't pan out as planned.  Each step mattered to her, and each step--and misstep--drove her to that envisioned success as she crossed the finish line at the IRONMAN World Championships.

To hear much more from Jaimee, Listen below, on iTunes, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Additional Show Notes:

Pictures and movie of Jaimee crossing that finish line!

WOT: Swimming Update!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Just a quick update today!

I told you in this post two weeks ago that I was going to be brave and face my fear of swimming.  Well, I did!  Exactly one time, and exactly twenty minutes.  But, it was a start.  (I also forgot my flip flops. Gross!)

I have to thank all the people who left encouraging comments and helpful tips.  It really did make a difference for me!

I've managed to come up with an excuse every day for the past two + weeks since to not swim again.  I really do hate it that much. . .  So, for today's Working On Things, I am dedicating myself to swimming one time a week until Christmas Break.  Will you hold me to it?

What are you working on?

Hobbies Outside Parenthood

Monday, November 21, 2016

In college, I was "unofficially engaged" to a good guy, but something was always "off" between us.  Once, we had one of those conversations that for me spelled out, "RED FLAG!" I was telling him, "When I am a mom, I still want to learn things.  Maybe take a Spanish class, or learn about photography, or even how to paint!"  To this I was met with a pained face and no response.  I asked what was wrong and he replied, "Well . . . isn't that selfish?"

Uh, yeah.

You know what?  Parents--whether they stay at home, work full time, or part time--need breaks from their kids.  They need their own identities, passions, and hobbies that fill them up so they are able to more fully give to their children.  I think the trap we as parents--mothers, especially--fall into is that in order to be a good parent, we are 100% devoted to our kids 100% of the time. In my experience though, giving your kids your everything all around the clock leads to exhaustion, lack of fulfillment, and an increase to resentment.

If you're feeling any of those latter emotions, get yourself a hobby!

My mother is incredibly devoted to her seven children, and I saw her be a great example of this.  Yes, she was to almost every game, practice, performance, and helped with countless homework assignments.  Yes, her life revolved around her children and she sacrificed a great deal (as did my dad, obviously!).  But she was also a runner, a swimmer, a hiker, a seamstress, a decorator, party-thrower, reader, and an amazing friend.  My mom loves people; she needed running buddies and book club ladies.  She regularly filled up her well so that she could better give to us children.

Back when we only had one chid--I can't even remember what this was like! 
I think that motherhood was a difficult transition for me because of my perfectionist nature.  I still had that old boyfriend's voice in my head a lot, thinking that in order to be a good mother, my children had to have 100% of me, 100% of the time.  I have always had my go-to outlets, but they have mostly involved my children still being with me.

However, the past year I have learned that an hour or two away from my kids here and there really fills up that well I need in order to be a loving, fully-present mother.  I can't really afford a babysitter often, but I would encourage you parents out there to find your own hobbies--ones that your kids can be present for AND ones that involve some time away.   You can trade off with a spouse or a friend, if you're babysitter-averse.  But just know, a little babysitting goes a long way!

Here are my go-to hobbies:

1) Exercise: I'm usually working out before my kids get up or with them, because I'm too cheap to pay for the gym daycare.  I relish outdoor time, so I used to run pushing my kids in the stroller; however, a more gentle walk is just as restorative.   I am also a big fan of barre3 online workouts!  I pay for a monthly subscription and I can do them at home during nap time/quiet time on days when I can't get up to the gym early or go on a walk with the kids.  (That is not sponsored, but if you use this link we'll both get $10 off!)

2) Read/Listen: I was an English major and an English teacher after all, so of course reading was high, high, high on my list for hobbies.  Can I be honest, though?  I used to read around the clock, but since I had my second kid and ESPECIALLY after my third, my reading habit fell the near-bottom of the to-do list.  I have found as a stay-at-home mom that I can "read" best by listening to audiobooks.  If I try to actually read, I usually fall asleep . . .  I also LOVE podcasts though, so I almost always listen to something while exercising or doing my household chores, including making dinner.  That's why I started one...

3) Write: This blog is all over the place, I am well aware.  But you are looking at a huge outlet for me.
4) Passion-Hobbies: This past year, I have allowed myself to explore all these long-suprresed passions I've had.  Writing, interior design, and podcasting.  I am telling you, I barely have a minute to spare thanks to these new aspirations of mine.  There is a lot of work and doubt thrown into those pursuits each day; but ultimately, I am feeling more like ME because I'm allowing myself to build those passion-hobbies up.  If you need a little boost in this regard, may I recommend listening to my last two podcasts?  (Here and here.)  Those two ladies are women who dream.  Let yourself do it, too!  I'm talking to you too, dads!!

5) Get out of the house: whether this is going on a date with my husband (you can exchange with a friend, if you can't afford a babysitter!), having a girls' night, or even sneaking away at night to roam target by myself, I NEED time away from the house.  Lately, I've enjoyed window shopping at antique stores or HomeGoods, and pretending that I'm buying furniture for a client.  I can even do that one on Saturday afternoons while 2/3 kids sleep.  So zero mom-guilt involved!

Listen, your hobbies don't need to mean you're dishing out money, paying a babysitter, or forcing your children to constantly entertain themselves.  (But they also can involve any or all of those aspects!)  Just find some hobbies.  I know you'll be a better parent for it!

Some other moms are sharing their favorite hobbies today, so please check them out below!  And if you'd like to participate in a Mommy Monday series, sign up at Kiana or Madeline's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand // Sue at Sue's News
Chelsea at Tessa Marie

Kim Christenson, Saying Yes to the Right Dreams at the Right Times (AB #002)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kim Christenson is one of the most talented women I know: she is a passionate writer, journalist, novelist, "namer," actress, voice-over artist, yoga instructor, social media queen, and mother to three young children.  She radiates such light and positivity! Kim carefully uses her time spent on the internet to build up others and encourage them to be brave, evident in her incredible interviews of women who are shooting for the stars in her Dream Big Series.

We talk about Kim's growing up years as one of many children in a blended family, and how she learned from a young age the great importance in finding passions to reach for that help you feel of value.  Kim is a dreamer and she seems to fearlessly go after one thing to the next; but it might surprise you some of the hard lessons she had to learn, including her regret over letting perfectionism and the trap of comparison stagnate her pursuits.

Kim also speaks about some failures she has faced, as well as some tough choices she had to make about when to let go of one dream in order to make room for another.  From her, we learn that there is wisdom in evaluating what you are capable of doing, but then daring to say no to many things so you can more fully say yes to the pursuits that are of the greatest value in your life.

Finally, Kim shares what it looks like to dream big, and it involves taking one little step at a time.  (This is for all you paralyzed dreamers out there!)

You can find Kim at her wonderful, real, I'm-with-you blog, Talk Wordy to Me, and her Instagram account of the same name, here.  Photo cred: @lyndseyyo

Listen below, on iTunes, Soundcloud, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Design Tuesday: Feminine Vintage-Modern Living Room

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hi there!

I have some things to report back to you for WOT (Working on Things), but today I'd like to share some interior design I've been working on, and I'm thinking this might be a semi-regular Tuesday thing.

I have five clients right now (yay!) and it's been so fun to explore their different styles.  You can always check out my Pinterest boards to get an idea of the different rooms I am working with on my clients, ranging from comfortable traditional to vintage-modern.

So far, I've finalized a lot of work on a beautiful living room for my friend, Michele.  We narrowed down her style to Feminine Vintage-Modern.  She's always had more masculine rooms in the past and when she and her husband bought a condo in the DC area, she decided she wanted it to reflect a more feminine touch.  Michele also has a big appreciation for both vintage and modern aesthetics.

Some things she already had in place: pale-pink walls, track shelving, a credenza, a midcentury arm chair, and a baby grand piano.  (She is a woman of many, many talents--you might see her on my podcast in the near future!)

Her needs: they want an affordable, grey sleeper sofa for guests, help with the layout, guidance on where to put the TV as well as the other furniture, ideas for coloring, a chandelier (she wanted a vintage-looking one), and all the sources of where to look for other furniture, rugs, and accessories.

I sent Michele some (hilarious) mock-ups for layouts--they might be ugly, but they got the job done:

And then today, I sent her a few design boards that are priced out as cheaper, mid-line, and higher-end.  Want to see?
Cheaper Option
Mid-line Option
More Pricey Option

I LOVE working with a budget--so I like to give options of where to buy, but also I like to give an idea of what to look for--so if something isn't in the price range, a client still knows the general direction to take something, like a side table with metal accents or a green velvet pillow.  Alongside the design board, I included a document detailing my ideas for everything, including sources of where she can find furniture both high, low, and in-between.  I've included that here, if someone is wondering what that might look like for an e-design client.

Now Michele has to get to work making some decisions, purchases, and searching for her special deals!

Once her room is installed, I'll share the after photos.  Can't wait, Michele!  Thank you for being my first official client.

If you are interested in my e-design services (you can live anywhere!) or full-service design (if you live in the Bay Area), please email me at for more details.

Heather Fujikawa, Choosing to live joyfully and productively amidst years of health struggles and infertility (AB #001)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I know I could not ask for a better person to be my first guest of my podcast.  If you know Heather Fujikawa, then you love, love, love her.  Pure and simple.

Everything Heather touches is made golden! Alongside her twin sister, Heidi, Heather is a successful entrepreneur, writer, and interior designer.  With her built-in-business-partner, Heather created an incredible jewelry business (True Birds), published a beautiful children's book (Fairy Birds), and is now officially delving into her interior design business and online shop.   Heather is always working on something, including herself!  Right now, she is also working on adding twin brothers for her toddler son.

Heather is loving, genuine, joyful, and encouraging.  She is a champion for all those around her.  Behind this cheery disposition though, was a purposeful decision Heather made to choose happiness amidst the many health struggles she faced the past ten years, including thyroid cancer and six years of infertility.  These burden-filled years taught her to make balance and self-care a high priority every day, amidst all of her incredible passion-fueled projects.  Related, Heather and her sister also made the tough decision to step back from their opportunity-rich fashion accessory business in order to pursue their greater desire to write children's books.

Heather intently prioritizes what is most important to her for each day, does the best she can for those areas, and lets the rest of it go.  We have so much to learn from her!

Additional Show Notes:
Heather's book
Heather's website (and be sure to check out her shop)

Listen below, on iTunes, Soundcloud, or search for "About Progress" in your podcast apps.

Most Likely To Be a Talk Show Host

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

That picture there?  It's from my jr. high yearbook.  Maybe one of my proudest moments of my youth.  That should tell you how exciting my life has been, ha!

Yes, I was voted "Most Likely To Be a Talk Show Host." Yes, I actually played make-believe talk show host up in the trees in my family's backyard for years and years. Yes, I was Oprah's biggest fan.  Yes, I almost went into broadcast journalism.  Yes, I am always listening to a podcast of some sort.  Yes, I have wanted to do something with my gift of gab.

And yes--yes!--I have always talked myself out of it.

Well, friends, I have started a podcast.

What on earth do I have to offer the world of a million podcasts?

Well, let me tell you.  There are men and women out there who are major recovering perfectionists.  There are people who are paralyzed dreamers.  There are apathetic thinkers, who constantly talk themselves out of even trying anything because they don't see the point.  There are people so terrified of failing that they can't even get themselves to start.

And there are people who have pushed past these boundaries and other major obstacles, and tried and tried.  Sometimes they have tried, just for the sake of trying.  Sometimes, they have completely failed.  Sometimes, they have had to drastically alter their goals or completely re-route where they were headed.  Sometimes, they doubted themselves daily and almost gave up.

But every single one of these "tryers" have made something incredible of their lives.  They refuse to let failures, mis-steps, and obstacles prevent them from working on improving themselves and their lives.

These are the people I needed to see in my life ten years ago.  Ten years ago, when I was entering treatment for my eating disorders and major perfectionism issues. And I needed them for the ten years that followed where I alternated still being a self-hating perfectionist OR a paralyzed dreamer, apathetic about my own life.

I needed these people who have shown me that life really, truly, honestly is about PROGRESS, not perfection.  That things are worth trying and doing, one little step at a time, regardless of where one ends up.  That the trying, in and of itself, is the whole point.

These are the people I am interviewing.

Let's pretend this is my headshot...
I am well-aware that I seem to keep starting hobbies that cost me money rather than making it. . . And I can't tell you how much work and mental energy has gone into this.  It has been a far bigger learning curving than starting this blog, and that should tell you something.

This podcast will not be perfect.  I don't have Oprah's voice--no where close.  I say "Um..." and "like" far, far too often.  I ramble when I should be letting the guest speak. I search for the right words and questions.  And I make some technical errors as I learn these complicated recording and editing systems.

But interviewing the wonderful people I have so far is honestly changing my life.  Truly.  And I know it can change others' lives, too.

My first official interview will go live tomorrow.  But today, I have a short introductory podcast.  I speak a bit on my own history that went behind inspiring this podcast, as well as what I hope this podcast creates.  And for the record, that is NOT to create a fan-base; no, it is to create a community of fellow "tryers" who work on themselves and reach for their dreams, regardless of the hope for their success.

You can stream the podcast below, or you can find me on iTunes here, Soundcloud here, or search for "About Progress" on your podcast apps.  (There might be some apps outside of iTunes that are not totally working quite yet, but I am working on it! Please let me know if your all can't find me, so I know where to focus.)

I will be posting interviews every Wednesday.  And while you clean, exercise, or even fall asleep, I hope you are listening alongside me.

Fall Favorites

Monday, November 7, 2016

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  I love dressing in layers, I love an excuse to drink some hot chocolate with my kids every morning, I love the crisp air and gorgeous leaves, and I love all the fall foods: soups, all things pumpkin and apple, even the fall salads.

Fall in Northern California is interesting.  The mornings are extra chilly, but it can still take the leaves a while to change compared with other states.  So when they start to change, our favorite thing to do as a family is go for walks and drives.  Our street's leaves are just starting to change into yellow.  But other streets are really blooming, as are the trees along our running trails.  My kids really thrive with some fresh air in them, and I personally need some nature medication every day.  Having that with some beautiful views is my absolute favorite thing about fall.

Now if you'd excuse me, I'm about to go tuck into a bowl of apple crisp.

Some other ladies are sharing their Fall Favorites, if you'd like to check them out below.  Madeline and Kiana host a bi-weekly series so if you are interested in participating, check out their blogs to sign up!

Kiana at Glitter & Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand // Juli at Journey of J^3 // 
Beverly at What a Day // Chelsea at Tessa Marie

Do Something Round-Up!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thank you for the exceptionally kind response to my post and announcement yesterday.  It's wonderful to see how some dreams can be pursued and I am really thrilled to get started.

Today, I'd love to share two stories that were sent to me of remarkable women who have taken part of my Do Something challenge.  The first is my dear friend, Adrienne.  She has been through some drastic life changes the past year and has been facing them head-on, with more courage and grace than I've ever seen in her situation.  Adrienne is also a beautiful writer, so I'll let her words speak for herself:

"When I first read about the "Do Something That Scares You” challenge, I was 100% on board. After all, not only did it fall in line with my goal for the year (trying new things), but Monica has always felt like a kindred spirit to me. We go way back, and when she talks, I listen.

"During 2016, I faced a LOT of things that scared me. Some were simple – a wind tunnel to see if I would ever be interested in skydiving. A date. Standing up for myself on something small. 

"Others were big. This has been a terrifying year in general – my first as a single mom. It hasn’t been easy. But facing myself – and facing my fears – has given me a strength and confidence I didn’t have before.

"I’ve realized that so often, we work ourselves up about things we fear. Our fears become huge, and overwhelming, and intimidating. But when we face them, we often realize that maybe our fears were bigger than fact. Nobody at the party you were nervous about attending is really paying that much attention to you or judging you. So maybe traveling alone was scary, but look at how much fun you had. Your ex’s new girlfriend is probably as nervous about running into you as you are for her (at least that’s what I’m telling myself, since November’s challenge to myself is to attend something where I know she’ll be there, and that doesn’t just scare me, it terrifies me).

"Some of the things you try may not ‘stick’ – but you’ll know you did it. There’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. And the fewer things there are to fear, the more we can enjoy life as it is. The more we give ourselves permission to be brave, the easier it is to accept ourselves. The easier it is to teach our kids about reaching outside of their comfort zones. So, for me, doing something that scares me is going to be a regular thing from here on out."

Adrienne! Seriously, I'll just *mic drop* that one. If you all only knew how many adventurous, brave things this woman has done! I'm so glad to be your friend, Adrienne.

The next inspirational lady is Janice, who posts her beautiful work on Instagram at @janice.creates. I was so thrilled to receive Janice's email because it was my first to write me on this challenge that wasn't a friend or family member.  As you can see, Janice is a mother of five beautiful children. I can't even imagine how full her days are! Here is what she said:

"I've been trying to find something that will fill me up.  I have five children ages 8 on down to 1, and my days are full of taking care of others.  I wanted to do something that would challenge my brain and creativity a bit.  I started dabbling with hand lettering.  I checked out books from the library, watched youtube videos, and most recently took Hand Lettered Design's online intro to hand lettering class (I'm just starting the brush pens one now.)  I have loved it!  Lettering is a way for me to be creative, share goodness and fill my walls and mind with uplifting and inspiring messages.

"I started an Instagram account and use it as a way to post my work and see my progress, mostly with lettering but anything creative is fair game.  Recently I was asked to teach a hand lettering workshop for our ward's super Saturday next month.  I am nervous but super excited!  

"This first step of finding a hobby that I enjoy has helped me branch out of my comfort zone even further.  I applied for a freelance writing position at a local parenting magazine (and have a follow up phone interview tomorrow! Eek!) and plan on proposing to teach a hand lettering class for our community's continuing education programs.  I'm also considering opening an etsy shop to sell my hand lettered creations.  A few months ago the idea of all of this would have made me laugh, but I am so glad I tried something new.  I have found something that fills me with joy!

"I have learned I don't have to be perfect, or even really good at something to enjoy it. I think when I was younger my fear of failure kept me from trying things that I might have really enjoyed. I'm over that now :) and I'm going to enjoy what speaks to my heart regardless of how I might compare to others."

SO many wise words there.  Janice updated me recently, and she got that freelance writing position!  How cool is that?!  And I'd definitely say go for the Etsy shop--I'd love to buy some of your creations.  Janice, thank you for reaching out to me and I hope more follow suit!  

If you would like to share the small--or great!--ways in which you are challenging yourself and doing something that scares you, please email me at You can also nominate someone you know to be spotlighted! I'd love for this to be a weekly thing.

PS: My plan is to swim the morning I post this. Wish me luck!

Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hi Friends!

When I first started this blog, my goal was to see if I could venture into writing or interior design.  I shared a few things with my house, but it's all but 1,200 square feet.  So a few posts in, there was little I could continue sharing in that regard.  Don't get me wrong, I'd remodel something in my house every day if we had the extra cash flow.  So my interior design posts mostly fell off the blog.

However, I have had a few great friends move locally and I offered my design services to them for free in exchange for sharing what I've contributed to their home.  Here's my first project that I am THRILLED about!

Now, I am sure that most clients interior designers have come with their own great ideas into a project. My friend, Kaylee, was one such client.  She already had some wonderful plans in place, but I was able to help her finalize some decisions she was debating on, as well as provide some ideas to take her kitchen to the next notch up.  (I also helped with her family and dining rooms, and they'll be shared in the future once completed!)

Here are some before pictures:

Kaylee, her husband, and one-year old daughter moved into a beautiful old home with great bones, but a lot of work needed. Luckily, her father-in-law is a brilliant contractor who agreed to help them with the remodel.  But the design was largely on Kaylee's shoulders.  Kaylee is a big Fixer Upper fan (who isn't, right?!) and loved the idea of a farmhouse-inspired kitchen, so she had already decided on white cabinetry, marble backsplash, slate floors, and an apron sink, in addition to how she wanted things laid out.  Once I walked through her home and we talked a lot, it seemed like to me the foundation of her kitchen could be farmhouse-inspired (white cabinets, slate floors, some industrial and natural elements), but instead of a shabby-chic/distressed layers, she should lean to her more prominent preference of traditional-modern design, as apparent in the rest of her home.  With that in mind, here are the ideas I brought to the (kitchen) table:

* Dark, oil rubbed bronze hardware and sink fixtures to match the slate floors, but streamlined to add a modern touch
* Moving the original glass hardware from the built-in to the island--to keep some charm!
* Making the countertop on the buffet a natural wood, to bring in warmth.
* Switch glass-covered doors to the cabinets of the new side buffet instead of by the sink.
* Creating open shelving next to the sink instead of the glass-door cabinets, to create more openness; make those shelves from wood and use metal brackets to add some industrial element.
* Add glass pendants for over the island. This is because it's a small space and there is a drop ceiling right behind where the pendants go; the glass add the light, some style, but doesn't interfere too much with visual space.
* Use oil-rubbed lighting with touches of brass too, to mix metals a bit.
* Sheer curtains in a linen fabric, again because the space is small.
* COLOR on the walls--we used a light green/blue/gray that I have in my home.  Kaylee was originally thinking gray, but with a little more color there is more warmth in the space.
* Confirmed her choice on island and pendant placement, and slate floors.
* Advised for stools with wood and metal.

 Drumroll.... Here are some before and afters!!

Here are some notes on the process: Kaylee and I talked a lot at her house, then I went home and scoured the internet for my ideas.  I made Kaylee a Pinterest board so she could see what I meant when I said "modern-traditional," and also included images to show blending all these styles together, or up-close photos of examples for design elements I had come up with.  Once I got some happy confirmations from her regarding the style, I sent her a lot of links to lighting, furniture, hardware options that I found (that were also very affordable--because like me, Kaylee is on a tight budget with her decorating!).  I went to Homegoods and snapped a ton of photos of things I had mentioned so she would know what to look for, like the stools, regardless of where we ended up finding the final choices.  I also forwarded her a lot of inspiration photos that illustrated the thoughts I had, such as wood open shelving and lighting ideas, to show how to make these things come together in the style we had talked about.

Kaylee and I went back and forth about a few ideas and she sent me some things she was thinking about buying and I gave my feedback on yays and nays.  For example, I say nay to some lighting options (too big, clashed with the style of the room) as well as some shelves she found (too fake of wood and heavy pipes that would distract from room; advised to just make the shelves herself--which they did!), but then lots of "yes!" to many of her finds.  Kaylee was shopping savvy too and found some of my same lighting on amazon instead of the source I originally sent her!

Kaylee and her family then did all the hard work of demoing their kitchen and putting it all back together again.   I was thrilled to see that she went through with a lot of my ideas and I feel they they paired so well with her foundational thoughts on what she wanted. I came by her home, quickly styled things, snapped a few pictures, and went on my way.  Want a peek at more of the details?  (If I were you, I'd click to enlarge these images even more. . . ;)


My take-away from this: I LOVED doing interior design work.  In fact, it wasn't "work" to me at all.  I was able to use my great interests, OCD-ness, and work savvy all in one beautiful, very satisfactory way.  It made me realize that this is indeed a passion I'd like to begin pursuing.

So, I am ready to open myself up for my design services!  I will offer a highly discounted rate of $50 for my first five clients.

Here is how it will work: choose a room in your home you need some guidance, whether you are trying to figure out furniture placement, decide on your style, or about to do a remodel and are feeling scared.  If you are local, I'll pay a visit and chat with you before sending you inspirational ideas, Pinterest boards, and actual things you can purchase all tailored to your overall budget.  If you are out of my area, you will send me a lot of of pictures of your space, we'll chat via phone or Skype, and then we will go from there in the same manner as above. Please send inquiries to  I'm excited to hear from you.

**UPDATE: I have maxed out on that highly-discounted rate.  (Yay!)  I'd still love any inquiries on pricing and will have a page up soon listing my services and more detailed prices.  I plan on gradually raising my rates, so they will still be exceptionally low for a while, even compared to other designers who are just starting out.**

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