7 Travel Tips to Return Energized

“I’m back from vacation and feel like I need another vacation,” said the sunburnt zombie unpacking their suitcase.

This has happened to me countless times. Sure, I had 7 days without work or doing laundry, maybe even spent the whole time laying in the sand, but somehow I return feeling even more drained. Can I get an amen?!?

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If you can relate, then I’ve got some tips for you. After a busy trip exploring San Francisco, Yosemite, and Napa Valley, I came home surprisingly energized and refreshed. Putting these tips into action paid off. Give ‘em a try for your next vacation!

1. Let “THE PLAN” always be a rough draft.

Take naps if you need them or go on a walk if that’s what you need. Listen to your body and adjust your day as you go. Also, be ready for a detour. Look for places to explore that weren’t on your agenda and feel yourself expand with energy as you revel in the unexpected moment.

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2. Repeat an activity!

If you find a coffee shop you really love, go back, or re-visit a restaurant. Maybe you take a nice walk early in the morning on the beach. Repeat it. Repeating something brings this special familiarity that reminds us of how we feel when we’re home. I find that the second time doing something, I can connect even deeper to that activity and to the moment. It leaves a strong imprint and often becomes my favorite memory.

3. Take time to yourself.

It is easy to disconnect from ourselves when we’re busy on vacation or surrounded by family. It’s that disconnection from who we are that plays into the weariness we feel when we return. No matter how busy your trip is find a moment to be alone. Even 3 minutes, if used with intention to breathe and connect, can be really powerful! 

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4. Invest in the “regular” you.

This is one of my favorite things to do to keep me connected and even launched back into my normal routine. Download some podcasts or read a book on a topic that’s relevant to what you are learning in life. For me, I listened to podcasts on teaching yoga and how to be authentic on social media. On my way home, I found some cool ones on marriage. Whatever it is for you from mindful living, work-life balance, reaching goals, or balancing mom-life, find a way to invest in making your regular life more beautiful. When you get home, you will feel empowered to bounce back into being you!

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5. Break a sweat.

Let’s never underestimate the power of exercise. Go for a run or do a yoga class, maybe follow along with a workout video. You’ll get that boost of endorphins that we all just need when we’re out of our routine. Plus, making time for exercise also means that you get a second to yourself. Yay!

I love going for a run or bike ride at the beach to counteract how dehydrated and drained the sun makes me feel. On our California trip, we were walking all over the city so we signed up for two gentle yoga classes. My husband who is only a mild yoga fan even said, “I’m really looking forward to the hour on my mat later. I want some time to stretch and just be still.” That’s right, he knows, exercise can be so effective to stay energized.

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6. Jump back into community!

It’s easy to come home from a trip, feel tired, and think you just need alone time to recuperate. This might be true, but it also can lead quickly to a feeling of isolation. So, get something on your schedule and meet up with girlfriends. Reconnect with the relationships that bring you joy.

7. One cup of coffee never hurt anybody.

When it comes to needing energy, caffeine always has our back. Praise! So, if you return from vacation and end up feeling like that sunburnt zombie, go get an iced latte and love yourself well through the vacay recovery!

Six Days in California

My favorite thing about this trip was the moment my husband told me that I was going to be an amazing mom (one day). Maybe it was the romantic mood, the fancy anniversary dinner, or the lovely conversation about memories, but somehow hearing him affirm me brought on all kinds of butterflies. We went away together for 6 days, did all kinds amazing things, but it’s the marriage that was the best part. It will always be the best part.

Nevertheless, I wanna share some fun highlights from our shenanigans in San Francisco and the surrounding areas.

Ferry Building and the Farmer’s Market

If you are a foodie, put this place on your bucket list! I read in Skymall magazine on the way home that the Ferry Building was ranked the #1 Food Hall in America. One big fat check on my list! The market is HUGE with more energy and free samples than I’ve ever seen. It takes place right on the water next to the Bay Bridge. Buy a fresh croissant, listen to the seagulls, and watch the live jazz music unite everyone’s moods into childlike revelry.

Hayes Valley

What I loved about this highlight was its spontaneity! I planned the trip thoroughly, never wanting to be somewhere and have to research what to do next, but I was hoping there would always be room for detours. A friendly store clerk suggested we drive ten blocks up and stop in Hayes Valley to explore. It ended up being my second favorite spot in SF – tons of affordable hip boutiques, classic thrift stores (I got a vintage blouse for $20), and all the trendy ice cream and coffee shops you could imagine.

Yoga at Grace Cathedral

Meditating with 300 people in complete silence, potentially 300 people BEING IN THE MOMENT TOGETHER … I’m at a total loss. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced, EVER!

Lake Tenaya

There’s all kinds of epic spots in Yosemite, but this was my favorite. While driving to a well-known meadows area, we saw to our right a gorgeous panorama – a sparkling lake set between giant rock mountains. We found a private spot, changed plans, and spent the whole afternoon soaking in the beauty (and the cold water!).

Napa Valley and the Monk’s Blessing

Napa has always been a dream of mine. It was just that, a dream. Other than floating on clouds from all the wine, the best part was when our tour guide showed us the wine aging in the barrels. The whole room was filled with the ominous sound of Monks chanting. Kinda creepy. I obviously needed to ask, “Where are the monks?” She quickly responded, “Oh they’re downstairs chanting 24/7. It’s a family tradition that their chanting blesses the wine. Do you want to meet them?” After a big resounding yes and following the guide halfway down the stairs, she turned around and busted out saying, “This is the farthest anyone has ever fallen for this joke!” … I blame the wine.

Bubble Bath and Church Bells

After 2 nights of camping and going without a shower, a bubble bath felt GLORIOUS.

Ryan dropped me off at the hotel while he took the car to the airport (thank you hotelstonight.com for making 4-star accommodations affordable). Once the bubble bath was done making me a new person, I put on the super soft robe and slippers, #luxury, and cozied up on the couch with my laptop to write. Feeling the breeze from the window, listening to the nearby church bells, and getting to enjoy my absolute favorite hobby, I felt as if I’d come home.

Being at Home

That’s what I love about getting to know yourself well and letting God love you to that point. You find that no matter where you are, you are already home because your true home is inside. Whether it’s on an airplane, sitting at work, or cooking in your kitchen, there can be a sweet haven within to enjoy. What a beautiful, unmarked territory – our inner soul, our hearts – a place that could contain within them all the peace, safety, and warmth of a home!?!

Thanks for listening, friends! I love you for reading!

Hello, Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain

Step into history. A 1930’s era experience is just around the corner. Hot fudge, marshmallow fluff, and sprinkles are waiting to top off your hand-crafted dessert. Listen to your favorite oldies and spin around in a stool at a classic soda fountain bar. You’ll be met with fresh flowers and friendly service that will make you grin. You might think that the Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain is just like any other ice cream joint, but it’s not. It’s a truly special place filled with creativity and true Knoxville spirit. Sit down, stay awhile and let me give you the scoop on it!

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A classic from the Sherrill family archives!

Ron and Nolan Sherrill are the father-son duo behind the Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain which opened 2 years ago. “Everybody has their own idea of their soda fountain,” Nolan shared with me. “It’s the Max in Saved by the Bell, or Pops in Riverdale.” For his family it was Trowbridges in Florence, AL, a place his grandparents took him over and over. The American soda fountain dates back to the early 1900’s and was known for being the gathering place in local communities. Neighbors, families, and friends would come together to share life and probably a laugh or two over ice cream sundaes. The Sherrills wanted Knoxville to have a space like that. After years and years of looking for the right space, a historic storefront on Gay Street opened up that was the perfect fit.

The storefront used to be Fowler’s Furniture for 63 years and it was the first building reconstructed after the 1897 fire. Nolan shared that they really let the space speak to them about what it wanted to be. It didn’t feel like it wanted to be a modern soda fountain or even a 1950’s one. The original brick, hardwood floors, and space spoke to them of the 1930’s era. They honored the space and you can feel a historical presence when you step in the door that reminds you of the 1930’s, a simpler time.

With the right space, Nolan left his full-time job in Washington and joined his father to start the wild venture of opening a business together. The planning, design, and developing would not have been possible without help from Peter Freeman of Brooklyn Farmacy & Fountain, the pioneer of the soda fountain revival. His expertise, mentorship, and friendship is what pushed them forward to opening! Nolan also credits a lot of Phoenix’s success to their family history. “A lot of what we are doing here is related to what is in my blood,” he shared. “My dad has always been an incredible entrepreneur. His dad ran a gas station and convenience store in front of their house. I grew up with grandmothers who always loved to cook for people.” I love seeing someone like Nolan create their own unique path where it is proudly a reflection of their family. In charge of the fountain, he is bringing fresh creativity and authentic vision allowing Phoenix  thrive in this growing city! Goodness, his magic-makers are shaking and banana-splitting for a few thousand people every weekend BECAUSE there is something special in the menu and the vibe he helped create.

Even just reading the menu is exciting because it’s so elaborate and fun! It gets your taste buds moving for sure! The sundaes are decadent with all kinds of toppings – like the Afternoon Special Sundae that has a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a bed of rice krispies, covered in nutella, and topped with house-made marshmallow fluff. Although Nolan didn’t go to culinary school, he has a true knack for crafting creative menu items. “My dad plays piano by ear and I liken this to that. I can taste the food before I make it. I can see something before it is finished,” he shared. The items come from his creative intuition and from his life experiences. My personal favorite sundae is the Breakfast at Brennan’s which he created based off of the well-known New Orleans restaurant called Brennan’s, the birthplace of bananas foster. Growing up he spent a lot of time there as a kid and then joined his college girlfriend’s family who had a table reserved there. So, this sundae pays tribute to his experiences and has a local white whiskey instead of brandy, bananas, caramel, vanilla bean ice cream, and whip cream on top. The best part is watching the bananas get torched before they slide it over to you at the bar. YUM!

There’s so many other sundae specials with stories like the Great Smoky Mountain with Sinclair’s Smoked Nib Brittle or the Cookie Monster which is perfect for kids. There’s the 38-Special with a chocolate and orange combination paying tribute to the Vols and an inside joke with his friend Seth Reagan who was number 38. I haven’t even mentioned the craft sodas or milkshakes! Like I said, the menu is an adventure even just to read! You need to go see it for yourself.

Everything about this place is authentic – it’s all homemade, except for the nuts, cherries and sprinkles. All the ice cream is made fresh and oh my goodness go and try for yourself the homemade peanut butter sauce and the marshmallow fluff. The pharmacy area is fully-operating and literally is unlike any drugstore I’ve ever been in, authentic through and through! Co-owners Brad and Hannah Blackwell run that side of the business and have done an incredible job. Not only are the ingredients and service authentic, but the whole decor and vibe of the space is pure and original. The hand-crafted wooden bar is the perfect centerpiece with a vintage antebellum chandelier above it. The iron stools were made by local artist Kelly Brown and the hardwood floors date back to 1899. There is Tennessee stone marble to eat on and the perfect “Drugs” sign lit up in green that Nolan found American-Pickers style from an old drugstore in Rutledge. There are even local handmade toys and goodies for sale. I love what Nolan said, “All the pieces can live on and have a story they are telling.

One of the coolest parts of what Nolan is doing with his creative and authentic vibe is collaborations. New2Knox is having a social there May 17th – come join us to make some new friends! SoFarKnox just had a secret show there which was AMAZING. My favorite part was when one of the singers thanked Nolan by saying, “He looked at our songs and created a sundae based off of one. I almost cried. So, now I’m gonna play Miss Olivia – you can listen to it and eat it all at the same time!” 🙂 It was adorable! Nolan also did a collaboration with Hexagon Brewing and Knoxville Weekend. On usual weeks, the fountain uses Status Dough doughnuts for one of their sundaes and local farms for produce. At various events around the city, you can find their new bicycle scoop cart – how cool is that?!? Also, this summer they will be hosting a Summer Cooking School, taking kids out to the farmer’s market and coming back to create desserts with local ingredients. From creative collaborations and investing in our community, Nolan and his team at the Phoenix Fountain are helping Knoxville continue to move forward!

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I love my city so much and it’s really cool to get to hear from one of our movers and shakers, someone who is pushing our city forward to a more authentic, collaborative, and creative place. When Nolan was working in Washington, he said what drove him crazy was the lack of creativity, not getting to do anything artistic with his hands. The Phoenix is like his ongoing art project that he’s been able to pour himself into, keeping it fresh and challenging with new menu items and collaborations. “I get really excited to give people an experience. We get to craft something and then give it away and see someone’s reaction right there and who doesn’t light up for ice cream. You see those moments and then you see the grandparents come in with their grandchildren and it reminds me of my childhood at Trowbridges.” 

To be honest, stories like Nolan’s is why I wanted to write about Knoxville. I knew there were people and lives that were culminating presently to create special corners in this city where others could come to connect and be inspired.

To close, I wanted to share my favorite words from my new friend and ice-cream magic-maker:

“The theme here is if it’s special to me then I think you will like it too. So, this is me sharing the things that make me happy or that are meaningful to me in some way.”

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A calling, a contribution, a way to spend your time can be as simple as that. What your story leads to might not be creating the new and improved craft sundae like Nolan, but there’s got to be something you love that could be shared in a special way. It might even turn out to be the next fascinating contribution in our city that only your story could bring!

If you need some inspiration, head over to the Phoenix Pharmacy and experience the creative masterpiece showing up from simply someone else’s story.

Thanks for listening and thank you to Nolan and the others in Knoxville who make our city sprinkled with creativity and life!

You had me at avocado.

This month I’m celebrating one of my favorite ingredients – the AVOCADO. I partnered up with the I Love Juice Bar and am bringing you some fun facts and history of this crowd favorite. Guess what?!? You can also read this post here! Yay for guest-blogging, watch out world! Either place you read it, get ready to “avo” a good time!

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Let’s be honest, we are all about avocados every month. First, there was guacamole and now the delicious avocado toast. We just can’t resist the smooth and simple green berry.

That’s right, an avocado is actually a large berry with a single seed inside. It grows on a tree just like bananas in sub-tropical climates and generally won’t thrive any farther north than Florida or California. There goes my hopes for growing avocados in my Tennessee backyard. While the popular Hass variation is cultivated in California, the country that is responsible for several times more avocado production than any other is Mexico. Our southern neighbor is also where we have found the earliest artifacts of the green berry.

The avocado is ANCIENT! The oldest traces were found in a cave in Puebla, Mexico just south of the nation’s capital. The artifacts date back to 10,000 B.C during the Stone Age, long before the Aztecs. While cavemen were crafting tools and weapons for the first time, they very well could have been munching on avocados and as the original farmers might have been growing them in their backyard. Thousands of years later, around 1400 A.D. the avocado became a popular food for the Aztecs.

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In the Aztec language, the word for avocado is “ahuácatlwhich oddly enough translates to a certain male’s body part, referring to its round shape and how they hang from trees. The avocado was actually known as an aphrodisiac in the Aztec culture. According to ancient tales, families would keep their young vulnerable females inside during the harvest season to make sure they stayed out of trouble. While we did get rid of that tradition as well as the human sacrificing, thank goodness, we did not get rid of the original way the Aztecs prepared avocados – mashed up into a creamy consistency called “avocado soup,” or guacamole!

The nutritional value of an avocado is very rich just like its history. It has the honor of being recognized as a “nutrient-dense” food because of the multitude of nutrients packed in its small amount of calories. In one serving you get nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Folate, Fiber, Lutein, Riboflavin, Vitamin C,  Iron, Magnesium, and way more Potassium than bananas. You can imagine the enormous effect all these nutrients have on the function of your body! Unlike any other fruit, the avocado also has a low sugar content while being very high in protein and good fat. This creamy, yummy source of monounsaturated fats has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, balance insulin and glucose levels to manage diabetes, and can reduce the risk for various types of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Wow! It sounds like an avocado a day can also keep the doctor away!

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Next time you go to your local I Love Juice Bar, order one of the new smoothie bowls to get your avocado for the day. My favorite is the Go Go Green, but you can also try the Chocolate, Açaí, Golden Turmeric, Aloha, or Dragon Fruit Bowl and they will all give you that amazing boost in nutrients and of course satisfy you with the avocado’s yummy taste that’s been enjoyed for centuries.

Showing Up

The past month has been really special. Opportunity keeps knocking at my door, and despite fears, I keep resolving to just show up. So, count this post as one giant celebration to the beauty that comes from just simply making an appearance. 

In February, a girl from the I Love Juice Bar reached out to me, trying to get influencers to promote the local store. I didn’t feel like going the morning she was in town AT ALL and was super close to bailing. Somehow, I showed up and oh holy moly am I glad. She wanted me to throw a social … the point of this seemed absurd at first. Who’s gonna come? And I’m not about to say come meet me. That’s just bizarre-feeling. I went for it anyway. Luckily, I could convince the manager to teach us about juice and my friend to talk on intuitive eating. With some real incentive and my friends there to support me in case no one came, I could sit back and enjoy whatever happened.

And you see, what had happened waaaas … 20 girls came! We sat around and connected and just had simple girl talk. I saw a few new friends connect over recent breakups, another get invited to the church I love, two others relate over emotional eating challenges, and everyone getting to share in a simple experience together. My favorite response was a girl I met told me that the time was super nourishing and she was really thankful for it! Eeeeee!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily gonna do socials on the reg, who knows, but I just wanted to celebrate the beauty that comes from saying yes and showing up when you are scared or don’t feel like it – community was made!

Ya’ll AND FOR REAL my dreams are coming true (true-ish atleast). The I Love Juice Bar contact asked me to write a guest blog for their website and I’m basically having a HAY DAY – my little passion feels borderline professional. What if I had not shown up that day in February? What if I had stopped pushing because being lazy is easier?

Can I say this – I’m proud of myself? Because I am. When I was teaching middle schoolers and feeling stuck, I would pine so badly for something to be passionate about or something creative to enjoy. Years later, I love the story God is writing for me and the joy He is cultivating inside. It’s a process, but I love where it’s going. 

I have a lot more to share, but I wanted to take time to celebrate first!

I’ve been thinking about showing upin relationships a lot too. Sometimes, the way marriage is portrayed on Instagram makes me sick – so many projections of perfection when marriage is never “perfect.” It’s beautifully the opposite, but nobody talks about the imperfections or the moments of confusion. Well, you are welcome because here is my honest moment I had recently. The story involves Rhythm and Blooms, a music festival here in Knoxville, which side note was incredible! You should add it to your calendar for next year – live shows, food trucks, and a lot of cool bands.

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I had been pumped for awhile about the festival – the April weekend came and so did the sleet and cold. AH. We were outside at a show Saturday afternoon and I realized something … I wasn’t really having fun. Sure, it wasn’t ideal weather, but I was with my best friend, my “perfect” husband. Shouldn’t it always be a blast? If a bunch of friends joined us, I guarantee we would have both popped right out of our shells. I would have been cracking jokes and Ryan would have been starting the encore. I told him, “I feel like if we both were light switches right now, we would be turned off, and I have no energy to turn on, or come online.” He said he felt the same way. We’ve been together for 9 years (married for 5) and I know to just enjoy the boring time without it being “extra.” It’s just been awhile since it smacked me in the face like this. So, I wanted to share and be honest – WE ARE NOT PERFECT. Not every moment is a party and that’s okay. There are so many special silly times because we do love each other a lot, but there’s also mundane ones too. 

The next day at church, I walked to my seat and immediately sensed a word about all this. I heard God simply say, “I’m glad you are here.” I had just finished leading a team of volunteers and was distracted, not ready to worship or be in the moment with Him. As I felt God say, “Thank you for showing up for me,” I knew He also wanted me to feel that way towards Ryan. Later, I told him, “Thank you for choosing to be with me even when the special feelings aren’t there.”

We show up for a lot of things in our lives – our partners, families, work, friendships, passions – I’m left thinking how do we show up for ourselves? How do we be present with who we really are?

I have no clue. 🙂

And that’s where I will leave ya with so much more to be discovered about the simple act of showing up. Thank you so much for listening, pals!

Life, Lately

I’ve been pushing a lot lately. I’m the type to never pick up that book, or start that new habit, or make any inch of movement towards a goal. This blog was 2 years in my head before I had the courage to start it. So, “pushing” for me feels completely against my nature. I always thought that the path of least resistance was just to hang out and never cross the start line towards my dreams, but oh the agony of waiting to begin, the analyzing and wondering of what to do. I imagined actually engaging with my goals would be overwhelming, exhausting, and more than I could handle anyways. So, why start?

In fact, the pushing – the waking early to write, the choosing to read yoga books instead of my normal morph into a netflix zombie, the extra time spent investing in people to lead well at church, the choice to be present at work when all I feel like doing is watching the clock until I’m done – the pushing has made me feel more alive than I ever have. Heck, why did I wait so long to cross that start line, to engage with what I wanted in life? The pushing for me has been SO MUCH easier than the aimless dreaming and waiting.

Random analogy: Osteoporosis! … (please enjoy my sporadic thoughts and recent obsession with everything anatomy/yoga-related) … In my yoga teacher training this past weekend, our instructor was talking to us about various diseases and what to be mindful of when our students have them. My favorite one she discussed was osteoporosis which typically develops from a calcium deficiency or hormonal changes (thank you menopause). Pores actually begin to form in your bones making them very weak and brittle, susceptible to breaking. Ow. There have been a lot of studies done on how yoga can help with the condition. One famous study done in 2016 tested over 700 people with osteoporosis and the results showed huge increases in bone density after they did yoga for just 12 minutes a day! Bearing weight actually builds back your bones. This gave me a whole new perspective on the power of downward dog, but it also me made think about the power of pushing! Bearing weight is what leads to growth, to change, to building strength. Sure, sometimes you can bear too much weight and that is a whole other topic, but when you rest for too long and you become idle, what you really need is to pick up a goal, revisit a dream, and start bearing weight again!

Life lately, it’s been sweet – lot’s of yoga, lot’s of thinking, and lot’s of pushing! 🙂 Also, it’s meant a lot of time in Asheville, NC where my yoga training is located. Here’s us in our tiny home from the past weekend. It was stinkin’ adorable and I felt like the real Joanna Gaines in it, minus the goats and kids. 

We always try to see live jazz when we go to bigger cities and lookie! I found free live jazz and crazy good food! I believe I had calamari on top of black squid ink … only know this exists because of the cute little octopus in Finding Nemo! We also went to Bim Beri Bon, a super yummy and creative restaurant; I had a pulled pork Japanese crepe. Yum!

I love the adventuring, but I also adore the way you feel when you get back home, when you remember the sweetness of your daily life and routine. Finding a balance in it all is lovely, same goes for the pushing and resting.

Thanks for listening, friends! Talk to ya soon!

Hello, Lauren

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I adore this new friend I made through the lovely world of Instagram. She’s honest, real, and such a joy to be around. Lauren’s from New Hampshire and moved to Knoxville last summer. She was teaching Spanish at a pretty elite boarding school for four years and then toke a big leap to Knoxville to work at a local private high school. At a New2Knox Social, Lauren hooked up with some local girls who run a health and wellness business. She’s now partnering with them as her side hustle and teaching our community about amazing ways to be healthy. She is so much more than what she does though and I hate emphasizing that. Lauren’s got a heart full of beauty and an important story to celebrate!

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So, sit down, grab yo’ self a cup of coffee or tea, and join our conversation about who she is and what makes her special!  

Hey friend, tell us about yourself. What are the things in life that bring you the most joy?

Sure, over the years, I feel like it has the changed. I feel like the simpler things in life bring me joy like a cup of coffee in the morning or sunshine in the afternoon whereas when I was younger or in college it was the big monumental steps that were fulfilling. Now, I can just sit and reflect and find so many more moments of gratitude. Connecting with people is another huge thing that brings me joy and it has been a learning process. When I was in college, I stuck with a core group of friends. Moving to Knoxville from New Hampshire was a huge step – I was 26 and stepping completely out of my comfort zone, picking basically a spot on the map. So, when I got here, I really didn’t know anybody. I had to throw myself into situations to meet people, like the New 2 Knox socials or going to breweries by myself and just talking to random people. Through that, I feel like I’ve made connections here and really grown more of an appreciation for them. A great example of this is recently I was traveling with my field hockey team and struck up a conversation with the bus driver. It turns out he lived in my hometown for a portion of his life. How crazy is this small world we live in? He told me about his experiences fighting in Vietnam, his travels, and how he came to my hometown and Knoxville. I learned so much and if I hadn’t said hello and asked how his day was going, I would’ve never got to experience that! 

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What’s a lesson you have learned throughout the years, friend?

So, I feel like being confident in who you are no matter what stage of life you are in super important. When I was younger and in college, I went through so many trials and changes and I wasn’t always confident in those decisions. When I look back at them now, I just wish I would’ve been confident in them. I transferred from a big school to a smaller school and at that time, I wasn’t sure of that decision, but now I am so proud of it and where it led me. Now, I feel like any decision I make, while there might still be a little wavering, I try to go into it with the utmost confidence in myself. In the past 6 months in Knoxville, I’ve grown so much in this ability. Through my health and wellness journey, I’ve taken so much more time to reflect, to spend more time being grateful. Also, through the big life change of moving, I’ve learned to take risks and no matter the outcome I trust my decisions. If something doesn’t work, I can move on and be confident no matter what, knowing that there is no set in stone timeline to live by. It’s okay to not get your dream-job ‘til your thirty. It is still bad-ass to own a house when you are forty. Getting married is amazing at any age! Those monumental things can happen at any time!

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What’s a tension you find yourself in right now?

Procrastination and time management right now. There’s a lot I’m juggling – teaching, the health and wellness side hustle, friends, self-development, and just life. I’m trying to find a balance between all those things. I’m so passionate about all of them, but it’s hard to give them all the time they need. So, ya know I find myself snoozing my alarm five times or turning to Netflix first. I want to get better at managing when my self-development habits happen, like journaling or reading. With procrastination, I’ve set a couple goals this month and not met them, but I’m human. I wanted no phone twenty minutes before I go to bed – that lasted two nights. Haha. Ya know, it’s a learning process though. I still want that goal (and write in my journal which I’ve done a lot better with) and others like exercising. Those are my struggles right now and there’s more. We all have struggles no matter what front people put on, they have internal battles. It’s about how you deal though, how you learn from them, and how you move forward. Nobody’s perfect. I would rather be authentic and real at the end of the day than crazy unique.

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Love these real words from my new friend. I think honesty and vulnerability can have the power to bring us together. So, I hope you know that you aren’t alone in whatever tensions you find yourself in. Lauren, myself, and all of us are with you, trying to juggle our different things and trying to find meaning in it all.

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Thanks so much for listening and celebrating this special girl with me! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, friends! Hugs!

Hello, I Love Juice Bar

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThere is a green and vibrant corner of our city’s square called I Love Juice Bar that deserves praise for its juicy approach to serving not just Knoxville, but the whole country. The story behind this energetic brand comes from our neighbor and my original hometown, Nashville.

 John and Vui Hunt of I Love Juice Bar (Photo Credit: ilovejuicebar.com)

John and Vui opened the first Juice Bar 5 years ago. He was unhealthy, tired of the corporate hum-drum, and exhausted. After the simple act of watching a documentary, his life took a new turn (props to the power of excellent film-making and to spending your time choosing to learn). After seeing the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, he began juicing everyday. “I started losing weight and very quickly felt better than ever – my energy levels went sky high,” John remembers. They are from Atlanta where Vui owned a vegetarian restaurant and they were both missing the passion-driving fulfillment of running their own business. Shortly after John had begun juicing, they saw a sandwich shop for sale in Nashville and WENT FOR IT! Vui said, “It was simply a now or never type of thing to us. Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Six weeks later, the first I Love Juice Bar opened its doors and this brand began its kale-green-juicing national takeover!

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Now, I Love Juice Bar has over 50 locations in over 16 states. John and Vui still live in Nashville with their two daughters and two dogs and run all the workings of the growing company. Vui still creates every menu option!

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I have so much respect for the two of them and for their message behind the brand – have fun, be amazing! Being amazing in your health can be fun! What a phenomenal lifestyle to promote – that you should eat to nourish your body and you can still have fun while doing that. Come on, health is often seen as a cycle of fad diets and the mentality of “should eat” vs. “want to eat.” However, step into a Juice Bar and there is a different story being told. You can pick from ANYTHING on the menu – vibrant colors (green, orange, purple, yellow) and a variety of options (juices, smoothies, bowls, power shots, salads, snacks). You can fully ENJOY any of the items. Plus, your body salutes your decision to nourish it with the jam-packed nutrients, amino acids, and vitamins.

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Featured above, is a selection of their juices – Super Greens, We Got The Beet, Orange You Glad, and the most popular Sweet Greens (which has apple, kale, spinach, cucumber, parsley, and lemon). From fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, to vitamins like B12 and B9 (folic acid), these juices basically become your natural and delicious vitamin for the day. If you need more than juice, the other yummies for sale include spring rolls, sandwiches, overnight oats, quinoa power bowls, seasonal soups, and  four new smoothie bowls (Aloha, Tumeric, Go Go Green, and Acai Bowl). I got to try the green bowl and it was phenomenal!

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So, you need to visit one of John and Vui’s locations and experience all the healthy fun. You will especially LOVE the franchise here in Knoxville at Market Square. Ali, the national marketing coordinator, met me in our local store and told me all about what makes I Love Juice Bar special. She is amazing and in charge of making sure you catch on to the powerful message behind their brand. At this location specifically, you’ll find yoga every Friday, fun employees like Morgan and Elliot, board games, and really good vibes. You can step into this healthy spot and do something good for not just your body, but also your soul! The bright windows and space opens you up no matter what kind of day you are having and the nutrient-packed menu items will energize you for whatever is next!

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Thanks for listening to my love-fest for this local store and national company that has its roots so close to us. THIS SPRING from March-May, if you mention my blog, then you get 30% off any juice at our downtown location. So, go get your discount, re-fuel for your day, and support this special business!

Hello, Lisa

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I’ve got something special for you to read – the first of many new posts I’m rolling out this year, featuring Knoxville locals. I invited one of the girls I know via Instagram to share her story with me over coffee. Oh my goodness, I was blown away by the spunk and vulnerability of this beautiful new friend!

Lisa is a ball of energy, a true bosslady, and one of the most genuine girls I have met in awhile! She is a manager at Clayton Homes, owner of SugarChef Knox, and co-owner of The Paisley Swan (a vintage booth inside the local store, Nostalgia). Her friends call her a renaissance lady and rightfully so! She also leads a book club called “Love 2 Get Lit.” How fun is that!?

I’m thrilled to celebrate this amazing Knoxville local by letting her share her story with you and am so thankful for her honest and real heart. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and join our conversation.

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Hey Lisa, what’s a lesson you have been learning in this past season of life?

Well, for the latter part of 2017 I was having a really hard time mentally and emotionally about getting older. I was about to turn 30 and was feeling caught in comparison to where I “should be” and struggling with the feeling that I was supposed to be doing more with my life. I just kept thinking, I am single with MULTIPLE CATS…this is not a good look. I then attended a creative workshop in January where we were creating a self portrait and exploring the misuse of power and control. We brought a picture of ourselves and were asked to hold the picture in front of our face while we did a blind contour drawing. Basically we outlined the shape of our face without looking at the canvas and believe me when I tell you, it ended up looking really wonky. Once we were done, we picked out fabrics, oil paints, and newspaper clippings and adorned our canvas. Then, we shared what our finished piece meant to us. While everyone before me was relatively lighthearted, I literally lost it. I start crying and saying, “I’m having a crisis. I’m turning 30 and I feel like this is the end.” It basically turned into a therapy session at that point…I’m pretty sure someone said “this is a safe place.” It is hilarious looking back but I share all this because through that extremely bizarre and beautiful experience, I realized everything on my canvas reflected this hard season I was navigating. I had chosen cutouts of maps and placed them on my shoulders…so symbolic of how I was struggling with what direction to take in life and how it was weighing on me daily. I also had all these creative words coming out of my mouth and fabric flowers growing out of my head which reminded me of how I felt this urge to cultivate my creativity and growth but also felt this pressure from society to fit inside a predictable box. As I was sharing this, still sobbing, with a entire group of strangers, I realized I don’t HAVE to be one thing. It was really a tipping point for me. I felt more grounded and focused going forward and I began recognizing that trying a whole bunch of things doesn’t mean any one thing loses its value…it just means that you are growing exponentially in many different ways. When I was younger, I thought being a jack of all trades had a negative connotation, but now I feel empowered to be and do it all. I can have a corporate career during the day and also cultivate my creative outlets. Whether it’s in my baking or painting, writing or renovating furniture, I’m creating not because I feel like I have to be the best at it but because of the self-discovery that comes with it!

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We all typically find ourselves in some kind of tension currently and have to work through it. What’s the strain you are feeling in your life right now?

I would say it’s still a continuation from this past year to a certain extent. Self-love has been a lifelong struggle for me and as a result it is something I’m super passionate about. I am constantly having to remind myself that even when you are practicing self-love, there are good days and bad days. When I look back at my life even five years ago, that was not something I was intentionally practicing and cultivating. Self-love can be a million different things, not just going to get a mani-pedi and despite that knowledge, there are still days when doubt or anxiety creep in. I might know my value, but I might not necessarily be feeling it in those moments. So, a strain for me is separating my emotions from the truth in times of weakness. It often takes a lot of strength and heart to be able to push through that hump of feeling vulnerable or afraid and I’m slowly learning to do it with more grace and bravery.

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Tell us what brings you the most joy in your life? What makes your heart giddy?

Right now it is definitely pursuing my creative outlets with more intention. I used to to do them here and there, but now I’m actively pursuing them with purpose. I have an amazing planner by Inkwell Press and as silly as it sounds, it has completely changed my life. The focus is less about getting to an appointment on time and more about goal setting and living a designed life. Through their processes, I developed a goal statement for the year, “To actively seek out opportunities to cultivate my intellectual and creative growth and to pursue new and old friends”.

This year I am focusing more on intentional creativity and learning to find joy in the process and not just the end result. I have a lot of creative outlets that often lie dormant – restoring furniture, painting, writing and then of course baking. As a little girl, my mom told me there were no rules in the kitchen. I could get in there and do whatever I wanted, which led to some weird, inedible creations. I hope my parents forgive me for what is now remembered as “the mustard seed phase”. Now, I have been making wedding cakes and cupcakes for 13 years and one of the best moments for me is those initial moments of joy when you first deliver an order and they see and taste their vision come to life.

I am also really passionate about community. I love when you are in a space with a bunch of personalities that are vulnerable and we are all trying something new but have no idea how to navigate the process. It always becomes this incredible experience that brings joy and togetherness and so much more than something we produced on paper. 

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Beautiful words from my new Knoxville friend. Thank you for listening! I hope you feel reminded you’re not alone. It warms my heart to know that there are so many wonderful people all around us like Lisa that we can get to know, share our stories with, and build honest community together! 

Margarita Day! Hay!

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In honor of this very important national holiday, I have for you the best ‘ritas around Knoxville (if only you could get tipsy from pictures)! Go try one for yourself and find something to celebrate. You could cheers to this bizarre holiday, or that it’s Thursday, maybe to your good friends, or maybe just to being young and alive. Celebrate something – it’s good for your soul – and so are really delicious margaritas!

BALTER’S SMOKY MANGO HABANERO ‘RITA

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HANDS DOWN, this is my favorite ‘rita in Knoxville.  The Smoky Mango Habanero Whisky provides the most unique sweet and spicy kick. Don’t worry though, it has the perfect balance to make the drink interesting, but subtle enough so that every palette would enjoy it. I had a couple in a row … it was that good. Thanks to my sweet friend, Holly who celebrated Saturday with me and also didn’t get too embarrassed when the bartender cut me off, jk. 🙂

BABALU’S CRAZY ‘RITA SELECTION

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This is the Babarita, flavored with pomegranate juice. At Babalu, you literally have over SIX different ‘ritas to choose from. The Shine-a-rita (with Sugarlands Peach and Lemonade Moonshine), Pineapple Margarita (with house-infused pineapple tequila), Mojarita (with fresh lime mint), Sangarita (with house-made sangria), AND they always have a special one like Strawberry Sriracha or Cucumber Jalapeno.  

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Babalu is the perfect setting for a group of people and I’m still savoring the night I had with the New2Knox crew. P.S. If you want to make new friends, follow them on Instagram  (@New2Knox) and go to their next social. Maybe we will do another after-party at Babalu and we could share a margarita together (or their crazy good guac)!

CHIVO’S CLASSIC MARGARITA

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This drink has put me back financially a few times, because it is SO good and one is just not enough. It has the perfect mix of flavors, with top-shelf tequila (Espolon Blanco), Triple Sec, Agave, and Lime. Order “The Chivo” either classic or flavored with Blackberry or Strawberry; anyway you have it, expect a good time!

There’s my favorite ‘ritas in Knoxville and there are plenty more good ones in this growing city! Hope you get to go try one and have fun celebrating National Margarita Day!

Raise your ‘ritas, Knoxville, cheers!