A Snowy Seaport Staycation

ALOFT HOTEL vs. ELEMENT HOTEL

When my friends over at these two Seaport hotels contacted me to stay, I knew I was in for a treat. As a lifelong, loyal SPG girl, I always try and stay at their brand hotels when I travel. They have been consistently comfortable, well-managed and within my price range. At first, I wasn’t sure which hotel would be a better fit for my husband and I so we opted to stay one night at each. The two hotels are similar in many ways but have distinct differences so I want to provide an honest comparison of the two, to help you determine which is the better fit for you next time you’re here in Boston.

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The Location

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Since the hotels share a parking lot, they’re practically in the exact same location. Located on D street (pretty much smack dab between Southie & Seaport), the location could not be better. Especially for summer. Their front yard is “Lawn on D”, which is a huge summer attraction with food, drink, games and live music. It’s definitely the spot to be when it’s nice outside!

If you go left out of the hotels you hit the West Broadway region of Southie which has a variety of awesome bars and restaurants: Capo, Loco, Coppersmith (killer roof deck), Lincoln and more. You could even jog or bike over to Castle Island and hit the beach!

If you go right out of the hotels you’re at the Seaport waterfront which not only has a ton of restaurants (By Chloe, Row 34, Flour Bakery, Committee, Legal Harborside) but also has quite a few new gyms (Equinox, Soul Cycle, Core Power) and attractions (ICA museum, Harpoon Brewery, Laugh Boston, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion).

The Similarities

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The adorable setup that was waiting for Mela in our room

My initial reaction to both hotels was the welcome feeling I received from the friendly staff. The check-ins were quick, easy & painless. Both have a wide variety of amenities that I believe all hotels should include: free WiFi, full access 24/7 gym, indoor heated pool, complimentary coffee & water bottles and a refrigerator in your room.

The best part? They were both dog friendly! In fact, Mela was set up with an adorable dog bed, dog blanket, food & drink bowl, a tennis ball, frisbee, some extra bags & treats. It was so cute and they really thought of everything to make Mela feel at home!

The Differences

While the hotels shared some similarities, they were very different.

The rooms:

 

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We loved the large living space in our Element hotel room! ( top | jeans | boots, similar )

The Aloft room was small but functional. It felt very New York – tiny closet, minimal space and wouldn’t be comfortable for more than 2 nights. The Element room was huge – we had a living space, a full kitchen and an oversized bedroom. This is obviously better suited for families and those looking for an extended stay.

Breakfast:

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Aloft’s “grab & go” versus a continental breakfast at Element

The Aloft had a variety of “grab and go” options – good for someone on a work trip. We didn’t eat breakfast here since it wasn’t free but I did grab a coffee in the morning. The Element, on the other hand, had a full complimentary breakfast full of hot options, yogurt, fruit, baked goods, etc. Again, it was clearly targeted toward families. The downside was that they didn’t refill things when we were there at 10am so we didn’t have a chance to try it.

The Vibe:

This is where the hotels really differ, and it’s evident from the moment you walk in. The Aloft has a modern, hip vibe. The lobby is warm and inviting with music playing and a huge lounge area, including a cool bar, a fireplace, a pool table and various board games. The furniture has a CB2/West Elm feel – a lot of grays and blues with pops of color and abstract art. We had a nightcap here and found that a lot of other people had our same idea. It was a fun place to be!

Fun Fact: They host “paint night” here every weekend evening, which is a wildly popular and fun event for a girl’s night out!

The Element, however, did not have a warm or gathering feel. The hotel is hyper focused on being Green and minimal. There is no lobby bar, no lounge area, no music playing. You just want to get to your room and then get out. It’s definitely not the place to be if you want to hang out of meet other guests. The good news is the Aloft is right across the parking lot so you can walk right over if you’re craving that type of environment

The Verdict

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We loved hanging out & playing pool in the Aloft Remix lounge

Both of these hotels are good options for those of you looking for a weekend Staycation or coming to visit Boston for the weekend. Neither has a spa, a full-service restaurant or an outdoor pool (very few Boston hotels do) so they’re fun weekend getaways but definitely not “resort” feeling or super high end. While we enjoyed our Staycation and one night at each hotel, we definitely preferred the Aloft over the Element. It was the right fit for us and we really enjoyed the vibe and the lobby area. If I were traveling with children, however, the Element would have been the better fit.

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The beautiful Boston waterfront, just steps from the hotels

Thank you to the Aloft & Element Hotels for sponsoring this post. While the accommodations we received were complimentary, the honest thoughts & opinions were my own. I always am 100% transparent and truthful with my reviews.

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My Favorite Podcasts

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how most morning looks at my house – coffee + podcasts!

As someone who is in the car for at least 5+ hours a day for work, the radio is often my friend. While I love music, I can only listen to so much of the same stuff over and over. Audio books are too much of a commitment to me so about a year ago, I decided to give podcasts a try. I am totally hooked and they have made my days of driving infinitely better! In fact, I listen to them not only in the car, but also while walking around the city or home alone cooking dinner/doing laundry/cleaning the house. They are such a great alternative to television…and better for your eyes (plus we don’t have cable)!

I’ve had a ton of requests lately so share my favorites, so without further ado:

LIGHT AND FUN

Straight up with Stassi

If you watch Vamderpump Rules and you don’t listen to this, download it immediately. This is one Podcast that I look forward to every week (though you certainly don’t need to listen in order). Stassi is surprisingly smart, refreshingly funny and down to earth. As a woman in my 30s, I can totally relate to about 99.9% of what she’s saying and I love how her topics switch between somewhat serious and light hearted. Examples include friendships, food/health, travel, family, dating/love and entertainment/celeb gossip. It really feels like you’re in a conversation among friends, discussing everyday stuff that you would over brunch. She also shows real emotion which I appreciate.

My Favorite Murder

Okay, I know you’re thinking…murder isn’t funny or light. Well, technically you’re right; however, Georgia and Karen are so enthusiastic over true crime and their back-and-forth banter is hysterical. The girls go off on random tangents which really lightens the mood. Just imagine that you’re around in your living room hypothesizing with some friends about a well-known, old murder case – Ted Bundy, Jon Benet Ramsey, Son of Sam, etc. That’s what this is. They also have a weekly bonus episode where they have readers share their hometown murder stories, which are fascinating. In fact, their podcast is so popular that they just got back from a world tour. So, if you’re into true crime and enjoy hearing cases with a twist of humor, this is for you!

Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: Off The Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe, The Lively Show, Lady Gang.

DEEP & THOUGHT PROVOKING

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

This is exactly what you would expect from Oprah – deep, meaningful, soulful. Similar to her show interviews, Oprah has one-on-one conversations with well-known people about various topics, from spirituality and God to finding your purpose and fulfilling your dreams. A few ones that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lately are conversations with Nate Berkus (on loss and design), Cheryl Strayed (on bravery) and Rob Bell (on religion). Each episode is roughly thirty minutes and can be listened to in any order. If you’re looking for a deep podcast or for some soul searching, this is for you. I think this would be a great podcast to listen to with significant others or family members to spark some meaningful conversations.

S-Town

My mom turned me onto this podcast and I just loved it. It’s only one season and while there is an end, you are left asking questions. Set in rural Alabama, this is a real time story about small town corruption, drugs, money and murder. Most of the episodes are telephone calls between the journalist and John, the man living in “shit town” Alabama. Each episode leaves you wanting more and it’s an easy, quick podcast to run through (only 7 chapters total). It’s hard to categorize this because it’s true crime meets humor meets mental illness. While it’s funny at times, there is a lot of underlying sadness and I found it to be quite thought provoking.

 Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: The Moth

CRIME & NONFICTION

 Cold Case Files

If you watch Criminal Minds, SVU or…you guessed it, Cold Case Files, then this is for you. I am super fascinated with true crime and there are so many podcasts out there on this topic. The thing I like about this one in specific is that each episode discusses a different case that was once a “cold case” but was solved decades later…which is crazy because only about 1% of all cold cases are ever solved. Each episode is super enthralling and will have you guessing the outcome. They are only 30 minutes long and can be listened to in any order.

Serial

Unless you’re living under a rock you have probably heard of Serial. I feel like it’s what turned a lot of people onto podcasts in general as there was so much buzz and publicity around it. While I enjoyed this podcast, I felt that it was pretty biased. It paints an interesting picture of this murder case and has us wondering, was this guy wrongfully accused? If you drive a lot or are headed on a road trip or are ready to spend some time going down the rabbit hole, get started with Undisclosed next.

Undisclosed

Hosted by three lawyers, this podcast dives deep into the legal aspect of the Adnan Sayed case. Since it’s approached from a completely different angle than the journalistic approach of Serial, they provide a different narrative of this story. You learn many more facts about the case, discover the likely scenarios of what happened and understand what went wrong from a legal perspective. The amount of injustice that Adnan experienced will have you fuming by the end of episode one. If you like criminal justice or want to learn more about our legal system, this is for you. There are multiple seasons of wrongfully accused, but season one is the only one I listened to.

Truth & Justice

What started as one man’s personal interpretation of Undisclosed turned into a huge podcast dedicated to proving innocent those that have been wrongfully accused. Working closely with many state Innocence Projects, host Bob Ruff’s initial season was regarding Adnan’s case also. He now has a vast following and has worked on multiple cases helping prove innocence (one man even is about to be released from prison thanks to his work). This podcast shows the power of crowd sourcing, as Bob utilizes each of his followers in their specific area of expertise. The current season is revisiting the case of the West Memphis 3 and it’s absolutely fascinating. It can be super slow and time consuming so I save this one for my longer drives.

Atlanta Monster

Fresh out the kitchen in January, this podcast is new and it is GOOD. It’s from the same guy who did “Up & Vanished” (next on my list, it’s about a cold case that happens to be solved while the podcast is airing. Insane!). If you’re from Atlanta or live in Atlanta, you need to download this immediately. It’s about a crime spree in the late 1907s/early 1980s where children were being abductions, yet not much was being done to help these poor children. This tale has haunted Atlanta for decades as it was a horrifying, scary time in the city’s history. It’s episodic so you’ll definitely have the urge to binge this one, as I’m doing right now.

Other podcasts in this category that are on my list: Up & Vanished, Crimetown, Homecoming (a psychological thriller)

What’s your favorite podcast?

Life Lately, Vol. 37

Happy Friday Y’all! This weekend is a fun one for us – my friends at Starwood are hosting us for a weekend in the Seaport and I’ll be sharing more on that next week!

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Reading this interesting article about design trends for 2018. I’m definitely seeing the resort trend and herringbone (we’ve seen wood flooring a lot and tile too). What do you think of these trends?

Researching articles on budgeting – I’m trying real hard to work on getting our family on a budget of sorts. When you’re a “dink” (double income no kids), it’s an interesting position. On one hand, you’ve got minimal responsibilities and a lot of disposable income; however, there is a lot of room for overspending or oversaving. I would like us have us on the latter end! A few good articles are this and this.

Grilling for the first time this season, or at least trying to! We got a new Weber and finally were able to use it for the first time this week. Once warm weather stays, I am hoping to ditch the kitchen all together and just grill nonstop! A few recipes that are catching my eye are these cheddar bacon potatoes, grilled pizzas (been dying to try this!) and these grilled s’mores – OMG yum!

Enjoy your weekend!

Our New Living Space

When I announced that we were moving back in December, I put together a design board that gave a general outline of the style and feel I wanted our new place to have. Lucky for us, our home has some killer architectural character – 14’ ceilings, intricate molding, floor to ceiling windows with natural light & various built-ins. The bones are easy to work with but it did have some challenges as well, including a narrow/awkward living room layout, minimal storage and an overall small space of only 800 square feet.

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With three of us (including our Frenchie, Mela) living here, I knew that we needed our main living space design to achieve 5 main goals:

  1. A bright, neutral color pallet
  2. Added storage, mainly hidden
  3. Comfortable seating for at least 4 (+ pup)
  4. A distinct dining area
  5. An open & spacious feel

Here’s how I did it:

A bright, neutral color pallet: The walls are a very light gray, the trim, molding, windows & ceiling are all bright white. I stuck to a cream/white/gray color scheme for all of the furniture to keep it visually bright and light. I incorporated some natural elements (wood coffee table, woven baskets, eucalyptus) to keep the space from feeling sterile. Also, I mixed various textures to warm up the room and keep it interesting – we’ve got microfiber, linen, silk, velvet, faux fur & more. Texture was key here.

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Added storage: Behind the sofa and in the nook are woven baskets that store extra pillows, blankets and various dog toys. The coffee table also has two secret drawers that store all of our remotes, candles, chargers, etc. The buffet was the biggest game changer in this room – we have over 30 bottles of wine and a full bar in there. We also use this to store cute cocktail napkins, bar tools & cozies.

Design Tip: We keep the buffet top styled on every basis (less clutter), but we display a few items on a tray atop the bar when we have friends over.

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Comfortable seating for 4: Our sofa is only 72” and though it’s not long enough for someone to sleep on (sorry out-of-town guests, you’ll have to get a hotel), it fits 2 comfortably and 2 more can sit on the chairs. If we are expecting more or need more seating, we can easily push back the sofa and add a few ghost chairs (or ottomans) for additional seating. We’ve had 4 people hanging out in the space multiple times and it’s always plenty of room.

Side note: Our space is too narrow to mount the television above the fireplace so we decided to place it on the wall across from the sofa. We rarely watch tv, but when we do it’s usually just us two and this is the most comfortable layout.

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A distinct dining area: If we didn’t have that pesky radiator on the back wall, I would have tried a bench/banquette against that wall and a rectangular table; however, I think that this 42” round tulip table works perfectly. I opted for ghost chairs for a few reasons – first, they take up minimal visual space so the area appears larger than it actually is. Can you imagine if there were four bulky chairs there? Second, they’re light weight and can be moved around easily when needed. Also, we can push the table against that back wall when hosting to open up the walkway between the kitchen & deck and use the table more as a serving piece.

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An open & spacious feel: A huge mistake that people make (especially when renting/moving) is not using furniture that’s an appropriate scale for the space. Our sofa is only 72” but it’s the largest we could go for this room, without the hallway feeling crowded. We purchased two chairs and anchored it all with an oversized rug. By centering the furniture in front of the fireplace, not the room center, we were able to create a “sitting” area and a “bar” area. We played with a few layout options here and this one works the best for sure. Note that we also went with low profile furniture so that the bright window light wouldn’t be blocked.

Design tip: Ideally you want 36” for any walkway in your home to allow for a comfortable flow.

 So, there you have it, our little living room / dining room / bar space. Brownstones are always challenging to design because they’re long and narrow but I think that we did a great job maximizing our space, highlighting the features of the space and making a warm, inviting home. We love it here!

Life Lately, Vol. 36

Happy Friday Y’all! This week has flown by as I’ve been so busy and I couldn’t be happier that it’s the weekend. We’re grabbing dinner with some friends tonight and tomorrow I’m hoping for a productive day – we’ve got some errands to run, home projects to complete, etc. I’ve also got a LOT of blog projects in the work (including my website which still needs help…anyone have a tech they can recommend?) so it should be a fun but busy weekend. Enjoy yours!

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It almost feels like Spring around here!

Wishing that I was traveling to Cape Town (for a million reasons) so that I could stay in this stunning Airbnb. This penthouse apartment is huge and decorated absolutely beautifully. It’s got a huge private roof deck with a plunge pool and insane 360 view of the city. Cape Town is one of those cities that you want to see from high up. The mountains, the ocean, the city…there’s so much to see! I must also mention that this place has my dream accordion doors which basically create an entire indoor-outdoor living space between the living room and the terrace. It’s truly stunning.

Reading this powerful piece about how fear holds us back. I remember speaking with a wise friend as I was going through my last breakup and she kept telling me that fear was dictating all of my decisions. Fear of being alone. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. I couldn’t agree with her more and I’ve since passed that advice along to others that I see falling into that pattern. Trust me, you should read this.

My design business is taking off and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. I updated my design portfolio HERE but for some reason it’s not showing on my homepage (again, any tech gurus out there able to help?). I was recently approached by one friend to help with her studio apartment, a local business to redesign their employee lounge and a real estate company looking for design help for their clients. It’s overwhelming, exciting and scary all in the same. I do not claim to be an expert or label myself an “interior designer”; however, I’m trying to get more projects under my belt and learning as I go!

This Week on South End Style:

8 Easy Ways to Refresh Your Home Today

The Happiness Project, Part 1: Vitality

A Coastal California Road Trip

Life Lately, Vol. 35

Coastal California Road Trip

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll remember the California road trip we took last year from LA to SF, stopping along the way. We spent a few days around LA, got engaged in Santa Barbara, drove up the coast to Sonoma where we spent a lovely weekend sat the Cottage Inn & Spa. I realize that one part I forgot to share was probably the most scenic, beautiful part of all – the drive from Santa Barbara through Big Sur to Carmel to San Francisco.

Perhaps it was the blissful high from being engaged less than 24 hours, or the warm feel of the California sun on my face, but this drive was spectacular. We drove almost the entire way up the PCH (lucky for us, this was before the PCH closure near Big Sur) and though it took a bit longer, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I wanted to pull over every 10 minutes to take a picture – it was that unreal. To me, the coastal views of the Mid to Northern California area rival that of the Amalfi Coast and West Cape Town. They’re that good, y’all.

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the famous Bixby Bridge (in the opening credits for Big Little Lies)

My only regret is – and I cringe to say this- that I didn’t time this trip properly. I truly think I was just ridiculously giddy because Terry had just proposed, but I had it in my head that the drive from Santa Barbara to Big Sur was two hours. Well, halfway through our 2pm leisurely ice cream stop at McConnell’s in SB, the woman at the counter stopped me and said “umm 2 hours? Try 4 hours…without traffic”. Womp, Womp. This will go down as one of my worst travel mistakes of all times (and I’m usually super thorough) because this meant that we would be passing through Big Sur right at sunset. Our goal was to drive the entire thing in the daylight and catch the sunset in Carmel on the water, sipping a celebratory glass of Veuve. Life – 1, Alexis – 0.

As expected, it took about 4 hours to get to Big Sur, where we pulled over and caught the most stunning sunset of all time. We also came thiclose to running out of gas, so if you’re doing this drive be sure to fill up before you enter the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park area.

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My side of the road attempt at catching the most magnificent sunset ever

Side note: I was dying to stay at the Tree Bones Resort but it apparently sells out over 6 months in advance. Though it is ungodly expensive a bit pricey, I will definitely splurge and stay there next time and I hear it’s one of the most unique, beautiful hotel experiences that there is.

From Big Sur, we drove about another hour to Carmel-by-the-Sea, which I am convinced is the best town in the whole entire world and where I will 100% retire to if I ever get so wealthy. This places is HEAVEN. The Cyprus trees, the rocky beaches, the sound of the waves crashing, the Spanish tiled roofs…everything is just perfect. Every turn is another photo opp and the scenery just gets better and better. There’s not a bad view in the town! Even the adorable street signs are made of carved wood. The homes here are so unique, it’s like they are all perfectly built ranch homes (that are deceivingly large), made of stone and tile and built into the rocks. I was blown away by home after home. Too bad they come with a median price tag of $1.5M. Like I said…one day!

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Casual stroll through America’s most beautiful neighborhood

We stayed the night at the Colonial Terrace Hotel, a cute boutique style hotel near the heart of downtown. Though the rooms could use a little updating, the property was pretty and the place was very charming. It had a “bed & breakfast” feel with coffee, fruit & scones served in the lobby around oversized chairs in front of the wood burning fireplace. They served happy hour and homemade cookies. All in all, the perfect choice for one night in the area. We grab dinner at Dametra Cafe, which was so good! Located in the heart of downtown, they serve authentic Mediterranean food – we had schwarma, rice, salad & more. A great spot for dinner if you’re in the area.

The next day we drove another two hours in San Francisco where we met my brother for lunch, before heading to Sonoma for the weekend. (Fun Fact: My brother was the first one to see us after we got engaged!) Of course, no trip to Carmel is finished without seeing the world famous Pebble Beach golf course. We opted to do the 17 mile drive around the Peninsula to soak in as much as we could before walking around the property. If only we could have stayed longer!

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the stunning view from the restaurant patio of Pebble Beach golf course

This drive was one of my favorite road trips of all time – the scenery, the food, the people, the views – it’s all not to be missed! In fact, this is one trip that I would love to do again, maybe from SF to LA this time. The second go round, I would definitely allot more time for the Carmel/Big Sur area and try to spend another night or two there. It is so beautiful that it was sad to rush through it. Hopefully next time will come sooner rather than later!

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pretty sure this view never gets old

The Happiness Project: January

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A couple of months ago I was listening to my girl Oprah’s podcast (a post coming shortly on podcasts but this is a must listen!) and I was immediately intrigued by her interview with Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project. If you know me, I love a good challenge or project. I’m always up for a month of whole 30, a new gym class, etc. I thrive off of the completion of projects and the accomplished feeling that comes with it. As I was listening to her interview, I couldn’t help but wonder…could I be happier? I am extremely confident in saying that everyone’s answer is “yes”. Now, I am fortunate to have a steady job, a loving husband, a kickass family, a beautiful home, some pretty amazing friends, etc. Overall, I live a fabulous life and I’m very happy. But, like many of you, I easily get bogged down with worry, stress and anxiety – about my future, about finances, about my body, about having kids, about my job. I think this is pretty normal and it’s important to not only be aware of these flaws, but to address them head on and always work on being the best version of ourselves that we can be. Not only for us, but for those around us. Thus, was born, my happiness project. So, for the next 12 months, once a month, I’ll be recapping my focus of the previous month – my goals, my achievements, my shortcomings and what I learned. I hope you’ll follow along in my journey!

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When I decided to start this project, it was pretty difficult to organize all of the areas in my life that I thought either needed improvement, I should be working on, are lacking, or are flourishing. I want to not only identify areas that I desire improvement in, but also recognize what is working in those areas that I’m happiest in. As a 30-something woman, newly married with no kids, I realize that my goals may look different than someone else’s and that they certainly will change along as time moves along. With new life stages come new challenges and new thrills, but I think that the 12 different topics I decided on are a good fit for me and for where I am in life. I figured I would start off my yearlong happiness project with an area that I’m somewhat decent at: vitality.  I’m breaking this down into two parts: health + clutter. That may seem like an odd combo, but let me explain.

Part 1: Health + Wellness

I think it’s fair to say that we could all use a “reset” in the health department every January. The post- holiday slump usually comes with a few added pounds and some poor habits to boot. We traveled so much July – December that I was definitely out of my ordinary routine. I used January as the perfect excuse to get back to it. Lucky for me, I really enjoy working out and my husband is the director of fitness at a gym, so I had no excuse. I quickly got back into the habit of working out 5-6 days per week. Naturally, with increased exercise comes better sleep (my body is tired), less stress (hello endorphins) and healthier eating (am I the only one whose eating habits are cleaner when on a high exercise plan?). There are two areas I tried hard to work on, but I’ll admit there are a few elements that could use improvement. First is going to bed earlier – I would ideally love to be asleep 11pm-7am but sometimes I stay up too late reading/working/watching Netflix. I’ve been a night owl my whole life so this is no easy task. Second is drinking more water. I love water and typically drink at least 4-5 of my large green Gatorade water bottles per day; however, my goal is 8. Hydration is key for sleep, skin, hair, appetite, workouts, etc. The benefits of being properly hydrated are truly never ending.

The Verdict: I feel really good about my health in January. Sure, I could hit the sack earlier, drink more water and indulge a bit less, but I’m about 80/20 right now and that’s okay with me.

Part 2: Clutter

Alright, so to me there are 3 types of clutter: physical, emotional and mental. I’m working on all 3 as I feel that you’re truly not at your healthiest without all 3 being addresed.

Physical Clutter: The obvious “junk drawer”, the storage unit, the overstuffed closets…everyone has areas in their home to de-clutter. I thoroughly enjoyed decluttering as much of my home as I could. I was ruthless while cleaning out closets (let’s be honest…that dress was never cute) and it was such a weight off my shoulders when I donated two large bags of home décor and three large bags of clothing to my local Goodwill. These items weren’t bringing me joy anymore, but hopefully they will to someone else. A few key takeaways that you can incorporate in your everyday de-cluttering: make the bed every morning and spend about 10 minutes cleaning up before bed at night. Also I created a weekly “power hour” where I spent one hour (11am-12pm for me) on Fridays doing those pesky, annoying tasks I procrastinated on all week: writing thank you notes, paying parking tickets, picking up dry cleaning, etc. I set aside this hour and at the end, I felt a HUGE sense of relief. I’m telling you, this is a good one!

Emotional Clutter: To me, this is working on “letting go” of emotional weight. For example, the friend who treated you poorly, the silly fight with your husband, the promotion you didn’t get at work, etc. It is stuff (typically in the past) that is emotionally weighing you down. Let. It. Go.

Mental Clutter: While similar to emotional, this is more chatter in the brain. Worrying about the 25 tasks I need to do, my mile long to do list, etc. Staying organized and focused was key here.

Emotional + Mental clutter had a lot of interchanging features so I treated them similar. For the past month, I’ve been using the “headspace” app every single morning. It only takes 5 minutes but with those 5 minutes of meditation and focus, I start my day grounded and calm. This turns off both the chatter in my brain (mental) and helps me focus on what’s important (emotional). It is an excellent tool and I hope to continue to use mediation on a daily basis going forward. Also, I’ve been trying hard to eliminate useless media intake – especially television & social media. I’ve shifted more toward reading and podcasts. It’s amazing how much your daily happiness can increase when you don’t give yourself time to play the comparison game.

The Verdict: The removal of physical clutter has had an immediate, direct impact on my overall happiness. Less is more to me, without a doubt. The emotional & mental clutter are going to be an ongoing exercise for me but I have already seen a shift in my daily outlook.

February for me is “marriage”. I figured that with Valentine’s Day, love is a good topic to address. No matter how happily married you are (and I am!), there is always room for improvement. Always a way to be a better partner. I look forward to sharing my February results with you in a few short weeks!

 

Have you read The Happiness Project? What’s a good monthly topic?