28. Once a year, go to an open space and scream as loud as you can- the last scream

I have a confession: this is actually the second (and hopefully final) draft of this post. The first draft was started very, very late on Saturday night when I couldn’t sleep. I wrote and wrote until I couldn’t write anymore, saved the draft, and went to sleep. When I got up on Sunday morning, I opened the post, read it, and thought, “STEPH HOLY CRAP YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE.” So, I deleted the draft.

But then, a funny thing happened, as they so often do in my life. I woke up this morning to a different post. One written by the creator of my list, Ria. Man, I love that girl. Somehow, she just gets me and says what I need to hear, even when she doesn’t know it’s what I need to hear. The post was about trust. Trust in the people we love, being afraid to trust, being able to trust ourselves…and damn, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

See, I’ve been struggling with something that I’ve only recently been ok talking about, and even then, I’ve not ever shared the core of the problem. But today, I will. Because today, somehow, from the other side of the world, Ria shared about trust and her struggles, and I knew it was time for me to tackle mine.

In true Steph fashion, I’m going to shift gears for a second, but don’t worry- everything will come full circle. Today’s topic is being single, and boy oh boy, do people have a LOT of opinions on that. If you’re single, nod your heads with me. If you’re not, perhaps you remember a time when this was true, and if you don’t, allow me to elaborate. As a 29 year old single woman, I am presented with many opinions on my singleness. Most of the time, these opinions aren’t asked for. In fact, 99% of the time, they aren’t asked for. And yet, they are still flung my way at full force. I guess it’s been that way since I started dating. I’d have a boyfriend, and the general opinion was that I should be single. “You can’t be happy with someone else, until you’re happy being alone.” I heard that more than a couple times. Or, I’d go through a break-up and hear, “Oh, I knew he was bad for you from the start.” Oh really? Why the hell wasn’t I clued in on this? But the real opinions started a few years ago. I had been single for a few years, had just bought my own home, and was for the first time in years, completely ok with being single. In fact, I was a little excited about it. But apparently, that isn’t supposed to be the norm. I was asked WHY I was single more times than I could count. Why I didn’t have kids turned into why don’t I like kids (keep in my mind where I work…) When shopping for a water heater, I was asked why my husband sent me to do a man’s job. I was told to stop being so picky. Told to be more picky. Told that I hadn’t “been through enough of the crappy guys” to have met my future husband. Once, I was told that I should probably freeze my eggs, since “who knows when I’d actually find someone.” I have two things to say about this: first, please don’t ever say these things to people. Ever. Even if you think you’re being helpful, or loving, you’re not. Hearing these things hurts, no matter how used to them I’ve gotten. So please think before you speak. Second, despite these things, I still enjoy being single. Well, except for one thing…the whole reason I’m writing this post. The whole reason I deleted it the first time. 

I am one of very, very few singles left in my friend circle. My friends who are in couples/engaged/married, God bless them- they are such amazing, lovely people and do everything in their power to make sure I don’t feel like a third wheel. And most of the time, I don’t. But occasionally, a little voice creeps in to my head and reminds me that friendships can change, and that’s where my trust issues come in. See, happy as I may be being single, I am so afraid that that factor may change my friendships. Because I don’t understand being in a marriage. I don’t know what it’s like to argue with my husband. I don’t have any children. I’m not in the same “phase of life.” And because of those things, I am constantly worried that I’ll be phased out. That I won’t be the “go to” friend anymore. That I won’t be included in things because I’m not a couple. That I just won’t understand. I’m ok being single. I’m not ok missing out because of it. I may not be married, but I know how to listen. 

I needed salsa today for lunch, so I drove across town to my favorite spot, got my salsa, and decided to take the highway back home. On the way, I wrestled with this post- do I write it or not? Yes or no? Then I decided to deal with it the only logical way possible- I decided to scream it out. I rolled back my windows while going 70mph on I-80, and screamed. I screamed for all the singles who hold their heads high when they’re met with constant unwanted feedback. I screamed for my friends, that I love so much. I screamed out my worries of this post being seen as passive-aggressive, or hating married people, or being a one-woman pity party. I screamed about my feelings of inadequacy because my friends are wives or husbands and me? I’m Steph. I screamed and screamed and screamed until I laughed. I started laughing. “Steph,” I told myself, “your friends love you. You are supported. No one is going to think that you’re being a jerk.” So, I decided to trust. I drove home, made lunch, drove over to Nissan for an oil change, and am typing this post on my phone in the waiting room. Am I still scared this post might not be well-received? Absolutely. But this post isn’t about other people. This blog isn’t about other people. It’s about me. It’s my one spot where I can be completely selfish and scream my feelings out, and that’s what I intend to do. That’s what I did today. I completed the final scream on my list, and I admitted some big things today. And you know what? It made me feel brave. Here’s to being brave today, and everyday.

Until next time,

Xoxo

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5. On April 19th, every year- go outside and count the stars! (The 3rd and final round!)

Happy Monday- again! I can’t believe it, but I’m in the final stretch of Mondays being a part of my weekend. Starting in June, I’m back to a Monday-Friday work week for the summer. I am insanely excited! While I’ve actually come to like having Mondays off (no lines at Target!), I’m really looking forward to a normal weekend again. I can’t wait. 🙂

This past weekend was a big step for me- I actually did something spontaneous! Well, spontaneous for me, anyway. Mal and I decided to take a trip to Des Moines to see “The Book of Mormon.” Now, generally if I’m planning out a day trip, I do so several weeks in advance- it keeps me organized, gives me time to save a little money if needed, and it keeps me from being stressed out. Anyway, Mal and I made plans about three weeks ago, which is a big deal for us, and the trip went off without a hitch. Despite being hit with some kind of stomach bug Saturday morning, I slept all day and drove to Mal’s Saturday night. We drove to Des Moines yesterday morning for the show- it was AWESOME! I had such a fun time! We had a quick dinner down the street at SpaghettiWorks, then headed home. It was a relaxing day, and such a good way to start the weekend.

The same week we made our trip plans was also April 19th, my third and final star gazing event. If you’ve been around long enough to read about my past two star-gazing endeavors, you know that there have been lots of clouds, a little rain, and very few stars. Since this was my very last one, I was hoping for some kind of cosmic miracle, but the forecast leading up to the big day wasn’t looking good. Even so, I made plans with Bryan and Seth for dinner, ice cream, and stars.

After making tortilla pizzas and making a pit stop at Whitey’s, we drove to what I’ve deemed as mine and Ria’s “spot.” It’s a small park overlooking the Mississippi, and it’s one of my favorite places in the QC. Ria and I used to go there all the time to sit and talk, or drink coffee, or eat Panchero’s. I’ve even FaceTimed her from that spot. Anyway, the guys and I picked a bench, settled in, and looked up. No stars. Again. Thankfully, the clouds started to shift, and three sets of eyes are better than one, so in no time at all, we did discover a couple stars. Either that, or the fact that I was not dressed for the 50 degree weather while eating ice cream, made me hallucinate stars. Who knows? Side note- it’s really, really hard to get pictures of stars!

Anyway, our final count for the evening was 7 stars. Not too bad at all! I had a ton of fun, and it was a great experience to include other people in my star gazing, since I’ve done it by myself the other two times. I’m really excited to have crossed another item off my list- this officially puts me at 11 things done, and 4 things that I’ve started, but not yet finished. And, of course 15 things that I have less than 11 months to complete- eek!!! What list item would you like to see me tackle next? See the complete list here! Ok, well I’d better go shower and be a productive human being now.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Taste of Belgium

Happy Monday, friends! I have a gift for you to chase away the Monday blues…TWO BLOG POSTS IN ONE DAY! Yes, you read that right! I’ve been working my butt off on my list, and have lots of fun things to share, so, why not?!  I’m also currently trapped at my house while my car gets a recalled part replaced, so I have all the time in the world! Now, this post is actually a bit of a bonus. I’ve kept on track with my “new restaurant going” but I was in Ohio two weeks ago for a wedding  and I couldn’t not write about that, especially since it was my first time in Cincinnati! Get ready to “ooh and aww” over this adorable brunch spot, and drool all over the food…I definitely did.

So, two weeks ago, my amazing friend, Danielle, got married to one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, Brad. Danielle and I met about five years ago through Ria, and after bonding in Bahrain and probably setting a record with our marathon FaceTime sessions, the rest is history. 🙂 I was incredibly excited for the wedding and the trip itself; I was supposed to visit them two years ago, but ended up with the stomach flu, so it was that much better being able to spend time with them during such a special weekend. The wedding was beautiful, Danielle was GORGEOUS, and every single detail was perfect. I never wanted to leave. (Also, I was only going to share 3-4 pictures, but I couldn’t decide…so here you go.)

 

Now, Danielle and I have had a little bit of bad luck when it comes to restaurants. A few Christmases ago, we met up in Chicago for a weekend. We ate at this great Mexican place that makes the guacamole fresh at your table. It was DELICIOUS and so much fun, until the restaurant filled up with smoke and we were all rushed out of the building. If you can believe this, the SAME THING happened in Ohio. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon. We drove to town, got pedicures, and met her parents for dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. I was not three bites into my chicken pot pie when the manager ran in, and told us we all needed to evacuate the building because the roof was on fire! The next day, I was still mourning the loss of my pot pie, when Danielle suggested brunch at a place called “Taste of Belgium.” Danielle had mentioned it to me on the phone the week earlier, and I was excited to try it. Although I’m *still* not a huge breakfast fan, I was ready to try something new.

I am not kidding when I say this is probably the cutest place I’ve ever eaten. Seriously.

I was OBSESSED with the wall art, which changed every few seconds via a projection system. I actually made everyone sit and wait for the waffle pictures to pop up again so I could take a picture. Anyway, there was a little bit of a wait, so I had plenty of time to scan the menu. Everything sounded good, but Danielle and Brad told me I had to try the chicken and waffles, which is definitely not something I would normally order, so that’s what I went with. I also had my eye on the Beer Cheese, which came with homemade soft pretzels, so when Brad asked if anyone wanted to share, I was happy to volunteer as tribute. While we waited for the food, I took a bunch of photos, and enjoyed the open air- there is a garage-style door on one side of the restaurant, which was open while we ate. Although it was lightly raining, the cool breeze was a nice addition to a great brunch. Our pretzels and beer cheese arrived, and I’ll be honest…I was so hungry and so excited that I forgot to take pictures. I’ll just say this: it was the best beer cheese/pretzel combo I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese had a hint of raspberry- genius! The appetizer was gone in less than 5 minutes. A few minutes later, our food arrived…

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Please just take a second, and stare at this plate. Yes. It was as good as it looks. Actually, it was better than it looked, if that was even possible. The hot and sweet combo of the syrup and hot sauce was perfect. The salad was a nice addition, and brought the whole meal together. I gave it a valiant effort, but I wasn’t able to eat the whole thing. (I was pretty sad about it.) If you’re ever in Cincy, I HIGHLY recommend this place.. I’d go back in a heartbeat. The atmosphere was great, the food was insane, and even though they were busy, the wait staff was very attentive. 5 stars for Taste of Belgium, and 5 stars to everyone that watched me tear into this meal as though I hadn’t eaten in a week.

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Honestly, I could gush about that place, and the trip itself, for another 1,000 words, but I’ll keep that to myself. 🙂 I hope you all enjoy your Monday, and get ready for round two soon…

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Greatest Grains

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your week is off to an awesome start- how could it not be, with this PHENOMENAL weather we’re having?! I have a day of mowing, mulching, planting, and park-walking planned. Exciting. 🙂 I’ve gotta say- this weekend has been pretty great! I saw a show, had lots of kitty snuggles, caught up on my TV shows, ran some errands, bought tickets to “Book of Mormon,” researched children’s shows for this winter, FaceTimed with Danielle, and started planning my 30th birthday trip. (Yes, it’s 11 months away. No, that won’t stop me.) All in all, a pretty awesome weekend! Also…the coolest thing happened to me on Saturday night. I had gone to see “Noises Off” at St. Ambrose with my friend, Leslie, and some of the North kids. After the show, I was talking to one of the kids in the lobby when a couple approached us. They apologized for interrupting and then said, “We just had to tell you- we saw you a few weeks ago in…” At this point, I assumed they were talking to Nik about his performance in “Kiss Me Kate,” because he was fantastic! But no. They weren’t.

“…That Anton Chekhov play…oh, what’s it called? That staged reading?”

“The Cherry Orchard?”

“Yes- YES! You played Anya? We just had to tell you…you were fantastic!”

Now, at this point, I could only assume I was being punked. If you read my last blog post, you know that I was really nervous about the staged reading, and that I would have given a better performance if I had just calmed down. If you didn’t read my last blog post, well, that’s basically what you need to know. I digress. Anyway, this couple proceeded to talk to me for 15-20 minutes about how impressed with me they were- that I barely used my script during the reading, how much they enjoyed my character, what commitment I gave to the whole performance. It was surreal. I thanked them a million times, and the compliments just continued. They wanted to know what I do (they LOVED the Family Museum when their kids were little), what sort of theatre things I’m involved in, what projects I have coming up. It turns out their daughter was also in the staged reading, and they are very into the theatre culture of the QC. It was awesome! Guys…I think I have fans! It was SO cool. I’m still geeking out…

Ok, ok…time for food! Now, if you’re a QC native, you’re probably wondering how on earth I’ve lived in Davenport for 10 1/2 years and have never been to Greatest Grains. I was actually wondering that myself. Greatest Grains is a little organic health market, with a cafe in the back. It’s down the block from St. Ambrose, and up the street from me. (Really, I have no excuse to have not gone.) Anyway, the Monday after “Kiss Me Kate” wrapped, I ended up there for lunch, via a friend’s suggestion. It was during my two weeks of no gluten, and it seemed like a good place to go.

Now, you should also know that I have never eaten a meal by myself, out in public. Coffee, yes, but food? No. Probably because I’m afraid something will go down like in “Friends” when Rachel’s prospective boyfriend sees her out alone and assumes she’s a freak. (Yes, I do make decisions based on how they worked out for my favorite TV characters.) That coupled with the fact that I can’t make a decision to save my life, led to me sitting in a booth for 20 minutes, staring at the menu. Finally, I got up and just asked the girl behind the counter for help. (By word- vomiting about my present gluten-less situation, and how I’d never been there before, and JUST HELP ME PLEASE!) The girl behind the counter was very nice and suggested a gluten free wrap. Now, per Ria’s instructions, I’m supposed to order something I wouldn’t normally, and this qualified for two reasons: 1. I love gluten and this didn’t have any. 2. I don’t really like cold sandwiches/wraps. So, I went with it. She talked me through the whole process- what I could add, her recommendations, etc. So, I ended up with a spicy chicken and pepperoni gluten free wrap, with herb aioli, white cheddar cheese, smashed avocado, greens, and cucumbers.

Now, my wrap doesn’t look terribly impressive, but OH MY GOSH, it was delicious! It was the first gluten- free meal I’d had where I didn’t feel sad the whole time about what I was missing out on. I sat in my booth, enjoyed my lunch, people-watched, and listened to the traffic on Harrison Street. It was pretty great! Although I was essentially eating in a grocery store, I was impressed with how quiet it was. A few people came and went while I was eating, but it was a nice, calm break from the busyness outside.  When I finished my wrap and water, I wandered down the gluten-free aisle, just to get a sense of what they had, in case I did need to go gluten free. I ended up with a bag of brown rice penne and proceeded to the checkout. My wrap and the penne cost just over $10. I was actually pretty impressed, considering that many places have an upcharge for gluten-free anything. I haven’t been back to Greatest Grains yet, but I fully intend to go again soon. It was so delicious, and made my gluten- free diet much easier to deal with. In fact, it inspired me to try making my own version of the wrap at home!

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My attempt wasn’t as awesome as theirs, but it was still pretty good! I’m excited to go back to Greatest Grains again soon, and pretty proud of myself for eating lunch alone. 🙂

Well, I better get on with my day. But before I do, I have 3 more “new to me” places I need to visit before my 30th birthday. Please comment below with suggestions- I am open to ANYTHING!

Until next time,

xoxo

The One with the Final Stretch

Hey guys! Remember me? That girl who writes this blog and dropped off the planet for 6 weeks? IMG_7765

I think we can all agree at this point that no one is surprised. Therefore, I’m skipping my standard apology and I’m jumping right in. Rather than my standard recap of what you’ve missed, I’m going to tackle this Mindy Kaling style with some sweet essays. Hold on to your hats!

I Went Dairy and Gluten Free… and Didn’t Die

If you read my last blog post, you heard a bit about this already, but if you didn’t, click here for the deets. I wrapped up the gluten free part of the diet Monday, and check in with my doctor next week. I honestly thought this was going to be five weeks of tear-filled cheese dreams and bread-less hell, but I made it to the other, unlimited breadstick side. Here’s the best tidbits (people still say tidbits, right?) that I can share if you decide to do a dairy or gluten free diet.

  1. Larabars will be your best friend. I recommend the peanut butter chocolate chip. Dairy AND gluten free. Also, Oreos are dairy free. Keep that in your back pocket.
  2. Dairy free cheese isn’t good, but it wasn’t the worst. I made a pizza with it, and put it on some salads, and I survived.
  3. Also- cheeseless calzones are just not worth it and might make you cry softly in your office at work while you fish around your plate for a piece of sausage that would have stayed in the calzone if there had JUST BEEN CHEESE! …Not that that’s happened.
  4. Aldi makes good, cheap, gluten-free pasta. Stock up on that stuff and fill yo belly! Really, I bought most of my GF stuff from Aldi- check it out!
  5. Check out Iowa Girl Eats for some really good GF recipes- some were pretty simple too! In either case, chicken recipes with rice are a pretty safe bet, and insanely delicious.
  6. If you’re going out to eat, I highly recommend Red Robin. I ate there three times in the past five weeks (no shame) and they could not have made it easier! Their website has a menu customizer, which is also available on the little checkout thing on your table. You select your allergy, and it tells you what you can order, or what you need to omit. It was so easy and the staff was so nice about it!
  7. Take it one day at a time. It seems really daunting at first, but is much easier after a few days. 🙂

I Turned 29…and Didn’t Die

Perfect birthday plan- I wrap myself in the tightest blanket burrito possible, watch “How I Met Your Mother” all day, occasionally unwrap my arm from said blanket burrito to put some cake in my mouth, and repeat. Ah, the life I lead. Well, spoiler alert- I did not celebrate that way. I did spend my morning and early afternoon at work with almost 900 of my closest friends (it was Star Wars Day, but I think we all know the real reason everyone came…) I was gifted with homemade dairy-free donuts, Mexican for lunch, lots of cards, and presents and love…it was great! I came home, PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT HOLY CRAP I WAS SO EXCITED, and then Mal and I spent almost three hours at the arcade bar. Highlights included Jurassic Park pinball, the Ice Cold Beer game, seeing someone actually win the Ice Cold Beer game, and more Jurassic Park pinball.  We had Red Robin (shocker) and then came home to PJs and “How to Get Away with Murder.” No blanket burrito, but still a pretty great night. There were also celebrations at Exotic Thai the next day, and with my fam at Easter.

I Was in a Staged Reading…and Didn’t Die

Yes, there’s a theme. I’m sticking with it. So, I haven’t been on stage since 2009, when I made my SAU farewell appearance in “Sweeney Todd” as a charming prostitute who stared into people’s souls. It was a dream role. Anyway, 7 years later, I was asked to be in a staged reading for the Quad City Theatre Workshop, which is a great little place in Davenport that everyone should check out. I agreed to the staged reading, and about 2 weeks before rehearsals began, I went into full-on freak out mode. What did I freak out about? What I didn’t freak out about would be a shorter list and the answer would be nothing. I calmed my nerves for the actual rehearsal process, but I’ll admit it- I was scared. I was rusty and I knew it, and I was working with some insanely talented people. I felt like an impostor. But…three rehearsals later, I went through with the performance, and although I was scared out of my mind for the first 15 minutes, I managed to pull it together and work my ass off to do the best I could. I had fun. I learned a lot. It was a wonderful experience, and my only wish is that I would have just simmered down earlier and enjoyed the entire process, instead of the tail-end of it. But now, I can officially call myself a “professional actress.” Eep!

That Time I Wrote a Really Inappropriate Note and Had to Say It in Front of 30 High Schoolers

I had the immense privilege of getting to choreograph two musicals this spring. Yes, many people called me crazy, I did pull a couple 14 hour days, and I forgot what my bed felt like, but it was an awesome, awesome couple of weeks. I could honestly gush for 5000 more words about how much fun I had, how much I love my North drama family, how great it was to be back at Assumption, but instead, I’ll share this excellent moment with you of me, at my finest. So, there’s a song in “Kiss Me Kate” called “Tom, Dick, or Harry.” It’s one of my favorites in the show, and if you don’t know it, you should probably go YouTube it right now. Like, right now. I’ll wait. Go ahead.

Ok, now that you’re familiar, there’s a section halfway through where the guys sing “dick, dick, dick, dick…” over and over. Dick being a guy, of course. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) On that part, the guys were supposed to spread out for a big dance break (which they absolutely killed, by the way.) However, one of the guys would always travel too far, and would end up in front of another guy. So me, watching this happen for the second or third night in a row, wrote down in my notebook, “Student who shall remain nameless, don’t go so far on the dicks.” And then I had to say it. Out loud. In front of 30 high schoolers. Because I could really think of no better way to phrase it. I’d compare the level of laughing to when my dad watches “Airplane”: it’s high-pitched, and at times, silent. The best kind of laugh. Anyway…Student who shall remain nameless never went so far on the dicks again. Crisis averted.

The List Deadline Is Less Than a Year Away and Steph is Mildly Freaking Out

That’s right, folks. Stee-Day (like D-Day, but for Steph) is nearing, and I have a LOT of things left on my list. For those of you keeping track, the big 3-0 will be upon us in just 339 days. We’ve hit the final stretch, and I’m in full procrastination-regret mode. But, the good news is, I’ve been working hard in my blogging absence, and hope to have some neat things to share soon. So, keep tuning in, sending me positive thoughts, and let’s all hope that karaoke bars go out of style before I have to sing at one.

Until next time,

xoxo

6. Figure out your regrets from the past ten years and either fix it or throw it away.

Happy March 8th, friends! I’d apologize for my 4 week hiatus, but honestly: are you surprised? Nope. And seriously, you didn’t miss much. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Work: A year ago, I joined our brand-new Fundraising Committee, because it sounded like fun…you know, because fun is in the name. (See what I did there? Hilarious.) After a year of hard work, we had our fundraiser, The Kids’ Table, this past Saturday, so my life has been…that. The low down: we had several local restaurants, breweries, and dessert places set up stations throughout our Museum and hand out samples of their signature dishes. We had a local band, several life-sized games, a Zoltar booth, a DUCK POND, and a silent auction. It was so awesome!

I didn’t take any pictures, except for the table one…so I stole these from Mal and Caroline. Thanks Mal and Caroline!

2. I’m doing SO many theatre things…so many. See below! 🙂

3. When I’m not doing work or theatre, I’m doing my best to honor “the year of Steph.” I’ve been trying new recipes, reading, napping, spending time with my friends, napping, and working on my goals for the year. I’m also tackling my health, which started with a trip to my physician yesterday. I’ve been super bloaty for the past few months after I eat, and haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause, so to the doctor I went. She narrowed it down to either dairy or gluten intolerance (a giant UGH to both!) so for the next two weeks, I’m on a dairy-free diet, with a week after of slow reintroduction. The next week, I do the same with gluten. Please send happy thoughts my way- the thought of no cheese for the next 13 days is making me a sad panda. But, I’m excited to get some answers and to have a new adventure.

So…I’ve actually been struggling with this list item; not because it’s hard, but because it’s really not. As cliche as it sounds, I really try not to have regrets.  Sure, my choice in boys in high school wasn’t great, and yes, I’ve said some stupid crap, but who hasn’t?! If I hadn’t dated a stupid boy and I did have the good sense to keep my mouth shut, I wouldn’t be the Steph I am now, and she’s a pretty bitchin’ lady. So instead of regrets and how I’m fixing them/throwing them away, I looked at this as “things I had the ability to change, and how I chose to change them.” I have three…here they are.

  1. I’ve had a lot of people in my life tell me that theatre wasn’t a feasible career option- I’d never make money, I’d never find something stable, I’d never be successful. And I listened…oh boy, did I listen, and even worse- I believed it. A few years ago, after choreographing for St. Ambrose, I realized that theatre was, and always has been, my true love. I told myself that if I ever changed jobs, I’d make theatre a priority in my life, and now I have, in a big way. Not only did I direct my first play this fall, I am currently choreographing TWO musicals, and at the end of the month, I’m doing a staged reading for a local theatre company. Yes, I might be busy, but I’m happy. So happy-and so glad that I let myself choose that happiness.
  2. I’d like to think that I’ve always been a nice person. I try my best to treat everyone with respect, even when I haven’t had my coffee, and do focus on the positives. But along with that, I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t like rocking the boat. So, for years, I’ve let people walk all over me. I’ve let people treat me like crap. I’ve let people be mean and rude. And each time it happens, I’d let myself believe that it was really me- I was  being too sensitive, I was too emotional, I was overthinking. But…was I? This year, I’ve decided enough is enough. It’s the Year of Steph, and in the Year of Steph, I’m taking the high road and I’m choosing myself. I can’t change other people, but I can change me. So, instead of letting a few people get me down, I’m going to constantly remind myself what a badass, independent, crazy talented woman I am. Is it going to take overnight? Nope. But it’s worth the journey. I’m still nice, but now, I’m going to be nice to me.
  3. I’ve never been particularly good with money…I had some BAD spending habits in college, and unfortunately, I’m still paying for that today. In the last year, I’ve made some adjustments to my finances to help me on my way to becoming debt-free. In about two weeks, I’ll be hitting a major milestone- I’ll have paid off my student loans in their entirety. What felt impossible even 18 months ago is finally happening, and with that, I know I’ll be able to make smarter choices with my finances moving forward.

So there you go…not regrets, per say, but things I wanted to change…and I’m working on them all. Will I always make good choices with my money, always be nice to myself, and always choose theatre happiness? Probably not. But I’m truly excited to continue working on these. One of my mottos for this year is “Adventure Awaits” and working on these three things is going to be a pretty great adventure…and one more thing crossed off my list. 🙂

Until next time,

xoxo

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Central Standard

Happy post-Super Bowl Sunday! Did everyone enjoy the game? I actually didn’t watch- I was busy making a turkey lasagna and working on “Kiss Me Kate” choreography. Priorities. I did watch the halftime show, and was seemingly the ONLY person who loved it. Well, me and Taylor Swift. She gets me.

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I may or may not have cried when Coldplay started singing “Fix You.” Loved it. Anywho, it was a busy weekend here, but a good one. I kicked off Friday with a lunch date (which I’ll get to in a minute), and an impromptu night of fun with Bryan and Seth, which included cookies, wine, and the premiere of “You, Me and the Apocalypse.”

Saturday was work, and Storybook Ball, which I coordinated volunteers for. Best part? I got to see all my former dancers! Yay!

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Sunday, I clearly needed some recovery time, so I stayed in bed…until noon. Charlee joined in.

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The rest of the day was full of laundry, cleaning, choreography, grocery shopping, a walk at the park, kitty snuggles, which brings us to today, when I did pretty much the exact same thing, plus writing a blog post. Huzzah!

 So, as I mentioned I had a lunch date on Friday, with my friends Caroline and Elly. We decided to check out a new burger place close to the Museum. I had heard all good things, so I was really excited to go…so excited that I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the building. Sorry, kids. I did get some cute pictures of the inside.

The inside is really trendy and warm, and I commented on it’s cuteness at least five times. (Aka- more like ten times.) I was really happy to see that the menu was small- I always have such a hard time deciding what to order, and I didn’t do any research ahead of time. The waiter came over for our drink orders, and made a few recommendations, including the “Oh No You Didn’t” Burger- a burger with cheese, onion, fried pickles, CHEESE CURDS, and buffalo ranch on top. I love all those things, but not necessarily on the same burger. But, the list says what it says, and since it wasn’t something I’d typically order, I went with it. And my friends, it was glorious.

Check out that good looking burger! Anyway, it was delish, and the combination of toppings was sensational. My only complaint? It was super greasy, which I was expecting. (Cheese curds AND fried pickles!!!) Also, the fries were INSANE, and I don’t freak out over fries. All in all, a really great meal, and for only $12, which I’d pay at Red Robin or any other burger place. I’ll definitely be hitting up Central Standard again soon.

Well, that’s it for now, friends. My friend, Ashley, came over for dinner and reruns of “Once Upon a Time” and the carb festival we consumed is setting in, so I better go to bed. But- stay tuned as a new blog post is headed your way soon! The topic? My regrets from the last 10 years…definitely should be an exciting one. 🙂

Until next time,

xoxo

The One with the Year of Steph

Happy Sunday! I hope your weekend was spectacular. Mine is just getting started! I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical about my schedule change to Tuesday-Saturday back in September. But, I am actually loving my Saturdays! The staff is a different mix than during the week so that’s a lot of fun! I get a lot done, I get to see a ton of my volunteers, and I get to spend some time in the exhibits. It’s all good. I spent my Sunday in Iowa City with Mal and my dad. My mom is in Florida for a week, visiting my grandpa, so Mal and I called up my dad to see if he wanted to meet us for lunch. After some delish chicken pot pie and cheese curds at Cheddar’s, we walked the mall for about an hour. It was a lot of fun, and great to have time with them both!

So, if you checked out my 2015 Recap, I mentioned that 2016 is the “Year of Steph.” Since you’ll be hearing a lot about it, I figured I’d better explain what it is. 🙂 The Year of Steph is this:

*The year I *finally* consider my own happiness before that of others. It’s something I struggle with. Given the option, I tend to choose what I know will make others happy, even if that means making myself unhappy.

*The year I choose bravery

*The year I focus on how to make myself stronger- mentally, physically, and emotionally

*The year I pick adventures over my couch…although adventures on the couch are definitely welcome! (Hi, How to Get Away with Murder!)

*The year I learn

*The year I love

*The year I appreciate life for exactly what it is

*The year I tackle the 12 (yes, 12!) goals I’ve set for myself (A huge thank you to the lovely friends/family/framily that are holding me accountable!)

*The year I live positively

*The year I kick my list’s butt!

So that’s it…that’s the Year of Steph in a nutshell. I’m 3 weeks in and it’s going so well! I’m so excited about the possibilities this year has to offer. How is your 2016 going? What are your plans? Are you making it the Year of You? Let me know below…I’d love to hear about it!

That’s it for now…I’m off to a night of TV reruns, possibly some reading, and a very early bedtime…potentially within the next 45 minutes. Good night all!

Until  next time,

xoxo

4. Pamper Day the 5th and 12. What is the “melt your heart” Steph meal? Figure it out. Cook it for someone special.

Happy weekend and happy first official post of 2016! (I don’t count my recap, since that was about 2015. If you missed it, check it out here.) My 2016 has started off swimmingly- I hope yours has too! My only complaint is this stupid cold weather…which I should be used to, after 28 years of living in Iowa. Today we had a windchill of -21, so I’ve been holed up in my house for the entire day. It’s actually been pretty great- laundry and dishes done, grocery list written, I got a 30 minute workout in while watching “27 Dresses”…excellent day. Excellent.

So, I had originally been scheduled for Pamper Day in November, when I was right in the middle of “Charlotte’s Web.” Basically, there was nothing in the world that I would have found relaxing, even if JGL had shown up at my front door with a bottle of wine. (Wait…strike that. That would have been the best.) Anyway, Pamper Day was moved back to December aka the least relaxing month of all time, so by default, I pushed it to January. Thankfully, I already had pretty exciting plans for January- Ria was here! So, on January 3rd I drove to Indiana to my friend Aubree’s for a 2 1/2 day stay. I knew it would be fun. I knew I’d have a great time. I had no idea how relaxed I would feel after. It was the perfect pampering. 🙂

We didn’t do anything big. It was just 2 1/2 awesome days of talking, laughing, eating good food, watching good TV and movies, snuggling Aubree’s little girl, Ana, hugging each other, and just loving on each other as much as we could. It was the best. I love my friends.

So, in addition to checking off my Pamper Day, I also crossed off #12: “What is the “melt your heart” Steph meal? Figure it out. Cook it for someone special.” To be honest, I had no idea what the hell this meant when I saw it on my list. Actually, I had no idea what it meant up until 2 weeks ago. When I got to Aubree’s, she asked me if I’d be willing to cook dinner one night. I always get nervous when I’m cooking for people for the first time, so I was a little hesitant…especially when everyone started talking about how excited they were, which only increased once I said out loud that I was nervous- then everyone was REALLY excited and decided to let me know every chance they got. Anyway, upon Aubree’s request for something buffalo chicken, I decided to make Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese. And guess what? It turned out great! But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was being in the kitchen, surrounded by four people I love dearly. Laughing, talking, stuffing our faces with cheese while we cooked. I can’t count the number of times I said how happy I was over those 2 1/2 days, but being in that kitchen, getting to cook for my friends, was one of the highlights. Once I was home, I started skimming my list, to see what I still needed to complete in the next 14 1/2 months, and my eyes landed on #12. That’s when I decided: the “melt your heart” part wasn’t about the food for me…it was about the happiness it brought. My someone specials- Ria, Dave, Aubree, and Christopher, if you happen to be reading this: thank you for letting me cook for you, love you, and be a part of your lives. I’m sure lucky to have you in mine. Now, in true Steph fashion, I didn’t take any pictures of the food, or that night. But, here’s a picture of the five of us with a moose!

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I now have 9 things officially crossed off my list, not including the 5-6 I’ve been working on, but can’t be crossed off yet (Pamper Day, screaming, etc.) That leaves me with 15 things I need to complete before March 19, 2017. Eek. That’s a lot. Here’s to 14 months of adventures!

Until next time,

xoxo

The One with the 2015 Recap

Happy 2016, friends! I hope you all had an awesome New Year’s! Before I jump in to the crazy awesome year that 2016 is shaping up to be and cross more things off my list, I wanted to recap my five highlights from 2015. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. My Last Recital and Send-Off

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my time as a dance teacher.

2.  Starting my new job!

Although I miss my dancers, I really like the work I’m doing, I love my volunteers and staff, the hours are AWESOME, and check out my great view! Also, this job is challenging me in more ways than I can count, which I think is a great thing.

3. Family trips!

4. Celebrating my 28th birthday!

5. Getting to direct my first show, and choreograph one of my favorite shows I’ve ever worked on!

 

And, just because I can…my sixth and final highlight of 2015…two of my best friends got engaged! EEEEEEE!!! Congrats Bryan and Seth!

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So…what’s in store for 2016? Well, I’ve dubbed it “The Year of Steph.” My focus this year is truly going to be on myself. Self-care and happiness are at the top of my list, as are 12 goals I’ve set for myself, and, of course, THE LIST. I am so excited to share with you all as I go, and to continue to grow and learn about myself. I think 2016 is going to be super, and I can’t wait to be right. 🙂

Until next time,

xoxo