Christopher Clark: Creating a Happy Life, In Spite of Incurable Disease

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“I do think you have to choose happiness, because it’s YOUR life.  You are in control of your own personal happiness.  I could lay in bed sick and angry, or I could choose to laugh . . . and make a happy life.  I don’t find that it is any more difficult than it was before.  My problems have just changed.”

Christopher Clark told me a story about another friend of his that was also diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease.  When this friend's doctor told him of his diagnosis, in almost the same breath the doctor made a plea that he would not take his own life.

For many, receiving word that they have this untreatable, incurable, gradually debilitating disease is a death-sentence.  For Clark, there was grieving to be sure; but there was also a determination to rise above the temptation to languish in his pain and despair, and instead to live the rest of his now-shortened life with a good amount of grace, and even more of humor.

Chris's choice to find happiness in spite it all is evident throughout this interview, which is surprisingly entertaining given the topic of our discussion.  We first explore his love of acting and directing and how he eventually pursued it as his profession.  He is now a professor and head of the theatre department at Utah Valley University, on top of being a well-known actor and director.

We talk about the huge transitions he and his family has faced the past year plus since his diagnosis, what physical symptoms he deals with daily, what he is the saddest about losing to his disease, what he has learned about himself through it all, and how he still finds the will to continue progressing in his personal and professional life in spite of it all.  
 

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Christopher's Instagram
Last week's episode with Emily Nelson
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Emily Nelson: Empowering Yourself to Become the Best Version of You

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“Come and give your all.  Don’t say, ‘I want to look this way . . .’ but, ‘I want to become the best version of myself.’”

Emily Nelson is one of the most high-energy women I've ever met.  And she puts that energy to good use as the co-creator and co-founder of HIGH Fitness, a workout that is taking North America by storm only 2 1/2 years from its conception.

In today's interview, Emily talks about how her growing up years inspired her to have a strong work ethic, what she did to get past her initial shyness, and the path she took after college that eventually led to creating a new fitness brand with her friend and business partner, Amber Zenith.  

Emily is passionate about their vision: to not just create a class, but a fitness community that inspires men and women to move past focusing on the exterior, and instead on becoming the best versions of themselves.  There is a reason why participants tell Emily every single day that her classes are changing their lives.

You'll also love hearing about what Emily thinks is the hardest challenge behind trying to balance life as an entrepreneur and a mother, why she and Amber are committed to not filling their feeds with sexy photos to increase their business, and how they have combatted the nay-sayers by staying true to their mission to inspire each person who is apart of the High Fitness community to live their best life.  


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!


Show Notes
Emily's Instagram, and Amber's (her co-founder) Instagram
High Fitness Instagram, Facebook, and website
Last week's episode with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

My Happiness List

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why, hello there!  

It has been quite a while since I posted beyond doing my podcast episode updates.  I had to scale back this summer because I'm pregnant (14 weeks along now and due February 3rd)!  

I'm not one of those women who powers through nausea well.  This pregnancy has been like my others, in that the all-day morning sickness leveled me.  But it's been different than my other pregnancies in that I have been very weak physically.  As a result, I've forgotten so many important things, and slacked on others.  All our fun summer plans/routines went right out the window.   However, the nausea is finally at a level I can function with, so I'd love to get back to writing here more!  I have missed this!!


I'd like to break the getting-back-to-blogging ice by sharing a list of things that make me happy.  I know this sounds a bit selfish; but as I still get through a pregnancy, parent through some difficult things, and deal with the general stress/busy-ness of life we all deal with, I know that it is best for me to remember what helps buoy up my happiness and do my best to actually ensure those things are incorporated in my daily life.   A happy mother deals much better with stress!

If you are familiar with The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (I loved that book and listen to her podcast as well), then you might be familiar with this concept.  Once you have your own happiness list, then you are equipping yourself with important information about yourself, and you can then use that list as a tool to actually create that daily happiness in your life.  It won't likely happen all at once, but you can gradually pick away at your list and come up with routines and ways of thinking that make that list a daily reality.

So, with much ado, here is my Happiness List:

1) Quality TIME and CONNECTION:
   By myself
   With my children
   With my spouse
   With friends and extended family

2) Organization
   For what I need to do each day
   With my larger goals
   Within my home
   Minimalism with toys, household items, and clothing
   Time management

3) Health
   Daily spiritual practice and study
   Mental--meditation
   Physical, through daily exercise and healthy nourishment

4) Progress
(This one might need some clarifying--I NEED to feel that I am improving myself and my life.  This is who I am at my core. If I'm not working towards growth, then my happiness really suffers. That's what this blog and my podcast are all about!!)
   Personally--working on improving my habits/practices
   Parenting--major overhaul at times, and smaller tweaks
   Marriage--what marriage doesn't always need work?
   Professionally--I'm not receiving money for what I "do," but my blog/podcast are still very much 
   my work and I like to improve
   
   


So, now that I have my list, I can look at it and analyze where the holes are in my life.  I'm already working on a hole.  

My husband started a new job a month ago where he has to leave for work at 5:30 AM.  That is when I used to get up and exercise, which took care of some quality alone time to myself, my physical exercise, and even my spirituality (I listen to talks/scriptures/podcasts or just think and pray--which helps my spirituality a great deal).  

I've had a hard time adjusting to this new schedule, in large part because now that I'm trying to exercise either with my kids or with them at a gym daycare (for the first time in my parenting life), I feel a lot of guilt--exercise time doesn't feel like quality "me time" as much now because I know I'm essentially taking time away from these kids or things they'd like/need to do.

But exercise is still really important and needed, so it's something we simply have to make the best of.  Instead, I'm trying to shorten my workouts and make them really purposeful so my kids don't have to sacrifice too much of their lives for that.  I still get in my exercise, and my guilt is lower because I'm shortening the time I used to take to do so.  And to make up for the other "me time" components I've been needing, I'm trying to wake up after my husband leaves and do two things first: Meditate (for even five minutes--this is a new practice for me); Study my scriptures/religious books.

Then, if there's time (and there should be!), I can work on my podcast (and not blogging!) for a little while before the kids get up.

Doing this new routing checks off so many things off my happiness list!  I'm slowly working towards getting up earlier and hoping I can officially be an early bird to better my overall happiness.  This is big for me because exercise used to be the only thing I'd wake up early for--I'm not naturally a morning person at ALL.  But I am well aware that having that time and developing that pratice will serve me and my family much better in the long haul.


What is a hole in your happiness list that you are currently working on?!

Other ladies are sharing their lists today (although I'm sure they are much less wordy than me--I have held in a lot of words the last few months!).  Check them out below, and if you'd like to participate in a similar series then sign up on Madeline or Kiana's blogs:

Madeline at CaseyLand

It feels so good to be back!!!!

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife || "Goodness:" What It Is and How to Develop It

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Many of us resist developing ourselves into our own unique expressions of Godliness, of humanity, because we fear the exposure, and the risk, and the potential invalidation that comes through doing that . . . If that is the only paradigm we operate in, we limit our ability to really develop into beings capable of offering goodness in the world, and creating a better world through our own capacity."

What is "goodness?"  How do we develop it when faced with real and imagined pressures?

Today, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife answers these questions by fleshing out the term "goodness" that often comes up in her teachings.  Jennifer shares how to discover what it is we truly want and feel we "should" do with our lives and then how to better own our choices, especially when we are often only faced with difficult ones.

Jennifer also offers how to live up to the core desires we have, more fully cultivate our gifts, and how to in turn better tolerate the internal and external push-back we might experience as we develop true goodness within ourselves and our lives.


Like her past episode on About Progress, this interview is one worth listening to several times to fully glean Jennifer's wisdom.  There are many ways to apply this discussion to parenthood, marriage, "control freaks," "victims," and those who live their lives based on others' approval.

More on Jennifer:
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife grew up in Burlington, Vermont as one of eight children.  She studied Psychology and Women's Studies at Brigham Young University, and went on to receive her Masters and PhD in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.  She has a private practice  in Chicago, IL where she works primarily with LDS couples on relational and sexual issues. She is a frequent guest on LDS-themed podcasts, and has written articles for LDS-themed magazines and blogs on the subjects of sexuality and modesty as well as mental health and faith.  She is married to John Finlayson-Fife and has three wonderful children.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

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Show Notes:
Jennifer's website and upcoming workshops
Video she recommended, "How to know you life's purpose in 5 minutes"
Jennifer's past interview on perfectionism
SURVEY!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcast episodes from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Fitness: How to Use It, Not Abuse It

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


We all know the amazing benefits of exercise: mental acuity, emotional release, increased strength, more consistent metabolism, confidence, and on and on.

But we don't often talk about the effects of abusing exercise, a trap we can all so subtly fall into.  This can happen through both over- and under-use, although much of this episode it devoted to abuse through too much (or too intense, too often) exercising.

Alongside my two expert guests--Meg Miles and Rachel Gainer--we discuss it all.  How fitness is a powerful tool for good and so essential to our well-being; but also how abusing it can negatively alter our lives and become all-consuming.  Learn through our discussion how to properly make exercise an important part of your life without letting it control you.

In this episode, there is a wealth of science, personal stories, and loads of take-aways.  Our goal?  To empower the listeners to view their bodies--and fitness--with love and "healthy enthusiasm."

Our Take-Away Tips:
1) Get away from "all or nothing" thinking: Even your small efforts are moving you forward.
2) Find JOY: The best type of exercise for you is the kind that you love doing.
3) Learn how to REST: Your body needs it and it will tell you when it requires a break.
4) Clean up your environment: Who are you following on social media? Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you, but not the ones that wear you out or place more unneeded pressure on you.


You can listen to this podcast episode below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Meg Miles's website, blog, and Instagram
Past podcast interview with Meg
Rachel Gainer's website and Instagram
Past podcast interview with Rachel
Articles on effects of overexercising on metabolism: here and here
SURVEY!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcast episodes from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Camille Andros: Starting Small, Achieving Big

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


"The preparation will meet your opportunity, and that is when you can have success.  So, you need to work really hard and be ready for when you get that chance, because you never know when it’s going to come."

Camille Andros is a woman of many interests including science, writing, and children (she has 6 of her own).  For years, she found herself focusing on one thing and then the other, all of which she loved and found fulfilling.  But eventually, she found herself combining her passions into writing children's literature.  She wants children to believe that they are smart and they can love science too, and her stories inspire just that and then some!

Camille talks about her path towards getting published, how she believes in "a time and a season," the great importance for everyone to have hobbies and dreams, and the remarkable path her life has taken, one small step at a time!  Oh, and you'll love Camille's view of how rejection can be a good sign that you're on the right path and how she has learned that slowing down actually helps her work.


You can listen to this podcast episode below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!


Show Notes:
Camille's website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BOOK!
SURVEY!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcast episodes from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas


Jeni Awerkamp: Valuing Who You Are First, Not What You Do

Wednesday, July 12, 2017



“It starts with who you are.  Then what you do comes so naturally, and so beautifully, that that is respected because you were who you are first.”

There is a reason Jeni Awerkamp's mom called her "Jeni Joy" growing up.  This woman radiates light and positivity!  Jeni's biggest key to her finding that joy is to focus on who she IS first, not what she produces.

This is a lesson Jeni learned after selling her interest in her rising business and transitioning to focusing full-time on motherhood.  She has a strong entrepreneurial, creative spirit and a passion for having goals and dreams; but Jeni discovered that for her, regardless of what she feels called to pursue (or not pursue), she needed to invest her self-worth in who she was at her core instead of placing her esteem on things, people, or achievements.

Jeni also shares the importance of filling our buckets, how she creates and pursues goals, and how much happier she has been once she's chosen to let her hair down and embrace the "yellow" side of her personality more often.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Jeni's blog (it's fantastic!) and Instagram
Monica's INTERVIEW with Briana from The LifeBeats Project (she's amazing!)
SURVEY!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcast episodes from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Cara Baldwin || Embracing a New Life After Divorce

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

“It’s too easy to give in to the thought that ‘Well, this terrible thing happened to me . . .’ But at the end of the day, you write your own story . . . Your life is what YOU create.  And I wanted to create something awesome.”


Cara Baldwin had been a lifelong "overachiever." But at 30 years old, she found herself moving back in with her parents, filing for divorce with four very young children (the youngest being 6 weeks old), and wondering how she could face the humiliation of being this version of herself she never wanted to be.

Beginning with a solo two-and-a-half week camping adventure with all four kids (aka "The Magic Five"), Cara picked up the pieces of her family, plucked up her courage, asked for help, and attended law school so she could support her children.

Cara credits her kids, her family, her friends, her community, her faith, and her grit in rebuilding her life and rediscovering the woman she once was: one who believed in herself.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Monica's INTERVIEW with Briana from The LifeBeats Project (she's amazing!)
Last week's episode
SURVEY!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Sometimes You Don't Make the Cut

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts."
~Winston Churchill

We have all been there: you bust your behind trying to reach a goal, you have high hopes, but then you get dismal-at-best results.

It's hard to not take it personally.


I've been there recently and I found myself really questioning why I've been spending all this time doing something that is meeting seemingly lackluster fruit.  But then I reminded myself, "Sometimes you don't make the cut."  That's life.


Every person who has ever amounted to anything, whether it's in the walls of their own homes or in grand corporations, have faced failures big and small.  They have faced those moments where they wonder why the heck they're doing what they're doing and evaluate if it's worth the time, sweat, and tears.

For me, I've decided to tailor back in some areas (the limited writing on my blog will now be non-existent for a time) and to redefine what "success" looks like for me.


In today's podcast, I talk about admirable figures in our times who have didn't make the cut, what they did to overcome it, and what we can individually do when we face similar times.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!


Show Notes:
Articles referenced: Here and Here
Stephanie's Website, Instagram, and Facebook
Podcast Episode with Mark Lukach
Monica's interview for the Extraordinary Moms Podcast
SURVEY!!!!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Mark Lukach || Navigating Crisis as a Family

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

“We didn’t recognize each other, or ourselves.  How do you reconcile this?  How do you go and redefine how we work together if who we are has taken some pretty fundamental changes?”

Mark and Giulia fell in love at 18 years old and launched into what looked like would be a lifetime of happiness.  Unexpectedly, three years into their marriage their fairy tale fell apart as Giulia encountered struggles with her mental health that neither of them fully understood or knew how to deal with.  

But this isn't just a story about mental illness; it's a story about how a family chose to navigate a crisis  and rebuild their lives based on love, not tragedy.

Mark talks about what led to Giulia's first bout with psychosis and her eventual diagnosis with bipolar disorder.  He shares how as a result they switched roles within their relationship, what it was like for Mark to battle his own depression just as Giulia started to get better, and how they learned to anchor into their new lives both together and individually.  

Both Mark and Giulia hope their son learns from their choice to focus on on love over fear and that life is beautiful, especially when they hold on to each other.


About Mark: Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer.  He is the author of a memoir My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward.  His work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications.  He is currently the Ninth Grade Dean at The Athenian School, where he also teaches history.  He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son in the San Francisco Bay area.  
Photo Cred: Alex Souza

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Mark's website, Instagram, and where to find his book
Monica's interview for the Extraordinary Moms Podcast
SURVEY!!!!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas


Seth Adam Smith || Sharing a Light in the Wilderness

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“Depression loves darkness . . . the only way to fight depression is to bring it into the light.”

I'm sure you read that article "Marriage Isn't For You" that circulated the internet a few years ago.  How am I so sure?  Because everyone read it, as in 100 million strong all over the world.

Seth Adam Smith is the author of that article, as well as four popular books (including his latest work of fiction!).  Seth talks about what it was like to have a VIRAL article and the three years-long mind trip it sent him on as he tried to live up to the internal and external pressure to keep writing pieces to resonate with millions.

Seth is much more than "the marriage guy" his article pegged him to be.  He's been writing for as long as he can remember. One of the common themes he writes about is depression, and he's been doing that long before it was the cool thing to do.

Seth has struggled with chronic depression since he was in third grade, and at his lowest low as a 20 year old, he attempted to commit suicide.  What has risen from his broken soul is completely transformative.  Seth has shifted his intense struggles to instead act as a force for good--or a "light in the wilderness," as he calls it--one that he holds high and proud, calling others to learn that life is worth living, and it is worth living well.

You won't want to miss what Seth says about how we all should want to be "broken," and how he blew my mind with his thoughts on perfectionism.  Please share this episode with anyone who you think can benefit.  (Hint: it's all of us!)


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!





Show Notes:
Seth's Website, Blog, Instagram, and YouTube Channel
Seth's books: Here, Here, Here, and Here.
Monica's interview for the Extraordinary Moms Podcast
SURVEY!!!!
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas



Extraordinary Moms Podcast--Guest!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I have talked about how motherhood didn't come naturally for me.  This isn't news for you.  But I haven't shared this with then lens of how my struggles with eating disorders and perfectionism also tied into this rough transition as a mother.

I was honored to be a guest of Jessica Dahlquist's podcast, Extraordinary Moms Podcast.  She shared our interview together where I discuss at greater length why I was a perfectionist, what led to my eating disorders, my lowest lows, and how my recovery has taken ten (and going!) years as I also push back on my tendency to want to appear to be perfect.  We also talk about how difficult motherhood has been for me--much to my surprise--but what great lessons I've learned along the way.

If you love the podcast, please share it!  I'm really proud of Jessica and the incredible work she is doing.  I highly recommend you listen to more of her episodes and give her a follow as well.


Lauren Agostinelli-Gessel || Looking for Blessings Despite Chronic Illness

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"God didn’t take it away, but I have felt so many times that he has sent living angels to help me through, time and time again."

Lauren Agostinelli-Gessel has been through more in her young life than most do in an entire lifetime.  One week after getting married, she moved to Italy for months to receive a stem cell transplant and five rounds of chemotherapy.  This was a drastic measure to help with her vicious form of Multiple Sclerosis.

Lauren shares what led up to her diagnosis at 27 years old as a single mother of a two year old, how her fear of dying led to a marriage that wasn't right, what it was like divorcing with a little baby and a little boy while battling a debilitating disease, and how she found love again and married shortly before embarking on her intensive treatment in a foreign country.

M.S. is different for everyone.  Lauren talks openly about the physical side effects of her disease and how the hardest effects have been the mental and emotional.  And yet, Lauren looks for the blessings in spite of the very hard challenges life has dealt with her; she most often finds these blessings in those around her, her earthly angels.

You will not only learn so much, including how being dealt with hard life changes doesn't have to be the end of a happy life--you can look for the good and fight for your happiness.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!




Show Notes:
Lauren's email: MSIsNotTheEnd {at} gmail {dot} com
Lauren's blog, Instagram, and YouTube videos on her: here, here, here, and here
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress

Summer Dresses for the Park Days!

Monday, June 5, 2017


Yep, I'm still talking about dresses.  But this time, I'm talking about ones you can get dirty and spend days and the park with kids.

It's hot where I live in Northern CA, and while the humidity isn't as tangible as other states, the heat definitely gets to your bones more than it does in my homestate, Utah.  I've finally learned to wear skirts in the summer (jean shorts are uncomfortable to me); but now that I'm not nursing I'm even going to go one step easier (and cuter) and wear comfy dresses.

I've made it my duty to find cheaper dresses that I can wear all summer long, ones that are loose, breathable, easy to wash, stretchy, and can get dirty.  I have a huge fascination with those Sonnet James dresses, but I can't pull the trigger on one of them because although they're supposed to be "play dresses," if I pay around $100 on a dress, I don't see myself feeling OK with rolling in the sand with my kids at the park.
I picked up a few dresses from Piper and Scoot when they were having a 30% sale a month ago, but since then, I've bought a few (even cheaper) dresses from Brickyard Buffalo.  My favorites from that store are the striped, short sleeve dresses (I got it in two colors), and I also like this one.  They come and go though, so make sure you keep checking back.  I've also checked out Jane a few times, but haven't bought anything yet.  Finally, I've ordered some great ones from Gap and Old Navy--but to be honest, the Old Navy ones ended  up all going back--either too tight, too short, or too weird of dart placement.  Wait until there's a 40% sale at those places and order a bunch to see what works, and send the rest back!


Most days this summer, you'll see me in a dress like this one below (surprisingly breezy--although I'm looking for the same dress with short sleeves), Birkenstocks, fancy earrings from Target clearance that make me happy, and my oh-so-functional backpack full of drinks and snacks. That's how we roll!


What are your go-to summer outfits?  Any dress recommendations that fit my needs and don't take the bank?



Other moms are sharing about their park ensembles, and you can sign up to participate in a similar series at Kiana and Madeline's blogs:

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Erica at Good Job Momma // Alexis at Witt Family Happenings



Andy Proctor || Choosing More Happiness

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"There are things you can do to rewire your brain.  It’s not going to be fun, it’s not going to be easy.  But can you choose to do them?  Yes.  And will they make your life better even in the midst of depression?  Absolutely."

Andy is a "happiness nerd" who loves to share what he's studied and put into practice.  His specialty is positive psychology, which researches the science of happy people and ways we can apply what they do and how they think.

In the first half of our interview, Andy shares some of his favorite things he's learned about positive psychology and ways we can apply these lessons in our own lives.  In the second half, Andy shares how his research has impacted his personal life through very difficult times where he needed all the tools he could get; those times included: divorce, remarriage, his wife's traumatic onset of mental illness two years into their marriage, and the following unraveling of the foundation of their lives, including the development of Andy's panic disorder.

Andy is a relatable friend and teacher, and he inspires hope for all those who will hear him out, that we are all capable of more happiness in our lives, even in the midst of inner turmoil.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!



Show Notes:
Andy's Website (where you can learn more about his classes and read his fantastic blog)
Andy's Instagram
Andy's Youtube channel 
Andy's book
Referenced theories and books (some affiliate links): 
   Broaden and Build Theory
   Flourish
   Learned Optimism
   Social
   Meditation site
   When Panic Attacks
   Via Strengths Survey
   The How of Happiness
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


"If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." ~Gospel of Thomas

I heard this quote a few weekends ago from Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's workshop I attended.  I had already been working on this podcast and it gave me that serendipitous lightbulb moment I so love.  (Sidenote: each special themed podcast that I create, inspiration for that very theme is suddenly all around me.  It's pretty nuts!)

If you deny what is within you--your hopes, your dreams, your gifts, your capabilities, even your self-love--you're going to lose yourself.  Ain't that the truth?

For me, in order to find those things and dare to reach for them, I've had to use the mantra, "Fake It 'Till You Make It."

"Faking" to me doesn't mean lying--it means TRYING.  It means proving to myself that I can be better, that I can be stronger; it's about proving myself wrong (and sometimes, someone else:).

Let me tell you the most important lesson in this: the destination truly doesn't matter to me as much as that trying.  Even if you don't "make it," you are making YOU.

Even trying increases my confidence, my capabilities, and sets my life further along the path I'm hoping for.  So, celebrate what you've attempted, what you've learned, and how you've grown.  You might not get to the end goal that you want.  But that's not the point.

The point is how you're bringing out what is within you.


I share more on this topic in my podcast, including examples from my own life as well as stories from listeners who chimed in to share their own stories.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!





Show Notes:
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Link to Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife's online course
RadioLab on lying (can't remember which!): here or here
Past Podcast mentioned with Courtney Rich
Past Podcast mentioned with Amber Brueseke
Past Podcast mentioned with Meg Miles
More Podcasts from About Progress

Summer Plans

Monday, May 22, 2017

Last year, I posted about how I was going to plan my summer with my kids so none of us went crazy. I stole the idea from my friend Lisa, and she didn't steer me wrong.  That past post has more details, but here's a quick sum:


This whole thing takes about ten minutes.  I start by brainstorming a bucket list of the activities we'd like to do, with input from Brad and the kids.  I also brainstorm a list of potential weekly themes.

Then I print out my summer calendar (just from my Mac), divvy up the themes, then plan some field trips that match the weekly theme, as well as some Saturday activities for our family that also match up.

Additionally, I also think about how I want to spend our days.  Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays will be devoted to more at-home stuff including "Mommy School," going to our local parks and library, and our afternoon lessons (soccer, gymnastics, swim, art), and Tuesday/Thursdays will be our adventure days!  I wrote a little schedule up for me, as well as a list for what "Mommy School" can entail, including mini-lessons that relate to the weekly themes.  With all of this sketched out, I feel like our summer will be more productive, fun, and interesting!



Here are our themes for this year:
Manners
Nutrition
Beach
Exercise
Trains
Camping
Mountains
Nature
San Francisco
Space

Last thing: this is designed to be flexible.  Last year, I probably stuck to my plans about 60-80% of the time.  So my calendar served its purpose, in my mind!  We do better with a structure, but we also do well with some built-in wiggle room.  Each day, we can still mix in some ways to get outside, go exploring, and have some educational fun alongside of LOTS of free play for the kids.  Because what is summer without some lazy days and lots of popsicles?


Need some more ideas?  Other moms are sharing their summer plans with their kids.  You can sign up to participate in similar series on Kiana and Madeline's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Alexis at Witt Family Happenings // Erica at Good Job Momma


Celeste Davis: Owning Our Struggles

Wednesday, May 17, 2017



"Something I’ve really internalized is that it’s never to late to create the kind of life that you want, or to uncreate the life you’re not cool with . . . It’s never too late to enjoy your life, it’s never to late to feel like you have more control over something, even if it’s just as simple as changing the way you think about it."

By the age of 19, Celeste had already abandoned her modeling career and experienced the ending her first marriage.  After these low-lows, Celeste decided that instead of wallowing in her sorrows, she wanted to pick up her life, own her struggles, and move onward and upward.  And she did just that.

Celeste shares how owning her struggles helped her find the strength to forgive her ex AND herself through grace, and move forward to finding a new man who helped her learn to trust again.  This strength also pushed her through the hard times her life still brought, including her husband's battles with mental health and her own fight with postpartum depression.

Celeste's surprise cure to her depression?  She joined a beauty pageant.  (No one was more shocked about this move than herself!) You'll love hearing about how the pageant helped her regain her confidence, changed the way she viewed herself, and formed lifelong friendships, but it also taught her the great importance of finding something that was just for her and that provided that self-care she learned was necessary to being the woman she wants to be.

You'll also love to hear how Celeste found natural childbirth helped empower her, what helped her get through two back-to-back miscarriages, what she does for self-care, and the power of good girlfriends.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!


Show Notes:
Celeste's Instagram
Podcast Episode with Matt Davis (Celeste's husband)
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Do Something Highlight: Shan'tel's Article and Blog
More on Do Something
Past Podcast mentioned with Matt Davis
More Podcasts

Jessica Dahlquist: Shifting Thinking towards Greater Fulfillment

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


“Realizing that I am in control of the life I want to live, really allowed me to be the happiest I can be because I’m doing the things that I truly LOVE in life.”


Jessica Dahlquist is the brains behind the Extraordinary Moms Podcast (which I can't recommend enough), but this is her first time being on the other side of the interview.  She does not disappoint!

Jessica talks about how her own transition to motherhood manifested an internal voice she didn't like, one riddled with anxiety and self-criticism.  With a lot of work, she learned the power of altering her expectations on herself and letting go of what others think.   Once she shifted the internal narrative behind her work as a mother and beyond, it changed everything and led to a greater happiness.

Whether or not you are a parent, Jessica teaches that once you've shifted your mentality to "I should . . ." to "I choose . . . " your life might look the same, but it will feel completely different.


You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!




Show Notes:
Jessica's Podcast, Facebook, and Instagram
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Do Something Highlight: Shan'tel's Article and Blog
More on Do Something
Past Podcast mentioned with Matt Davis
More Podcasts

My New Love for Dresses

Monday, May 8, 2017

Something weird is happening to me: I am loving dresses.

I've never been a huge dress gal.  I've had a few, but I've always favored jeans and t-shirts on weekdays and skirts/blouses for Sundays.  But the past few years, I've gradually collected more and more dresses and now that is what I primarily reach for on Sundays.  (Also, I'm wearing dresses on weekdays when it's HOT around here, because we don't have air conditioning. This is very new for me and making me so much happier, and (literally) cooler!)


For my casual dresses, I tend to do the opposite of form-fitting.  I like things as loose as possible.  But some Sundays, I reach for something like this dress from Harper and Bay--a dress that's a little more form-fitting, still comfy, but classic too.  And the color is a fun departure for me as well!

(Side note about this dress: Learn from me and never shop at 2 AM while you're nursing your baby . .   . I bought it (along with two others--face palm!) when the company was on Kickstarter and looking for dresses that I could nurse in, as my baby was a few months old.  This dress isn't being sold now, and I paid about half what it ended up going for.  To be honest, I'd love it a TON if the fabric hadn't immediately piled under that necklace, which I wore with it my first time. The fabric on this dress tended to get marked up easily.  Because of that, I've only worn it a few times since I basically have to style it the exact same each time.  I'm sure they've fixed things like that by now and I am tempted by a lot of the newer dresses. I still love this dress, though!  And I'd size up if you're thinking about the baseball dresses.  My Mediums fit like smalls.)   


You'll be seeing me wear a lot of dresses the next few hot months, and I'll be sure to share the good ones when I do!  I'm also going to make some because even those online boutique ones (where the same dresses are on different sites) are pricey and not well-made.  Looks like I made myself a goal!


Other ladies are sharing their Sunday outfits as of late--so check them out below!  And if you'd like to participate in this series, sign up either on Madeline or Kiana's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Alexis at Witt Family Happenings // Rachel at Tutus and Heels


 
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