Why You Need to Strive to Grow

As I think more about gratitude, I realize that I have so much to be grateful for. Sometimes, it takes a reality check to realize everything that you do have.

One of the things I’ve become incredibly thankful for is the rich network of women I have in my life. Through my job, I’ve met a lot of amazing people, who are incredibly talented and driven. Over the past few months, I’ve really begun to collaborate and spend more time with my colleagues-turned-friends, and my life is much richer for it.

Why You Need to Strive to Grow

One thing I realize that I need in my life is an environment that fosters growth.Back when I lived in Madison, before I met Jason, I was pretty miserable. Reflecting on it now, a lot of it stemmed from being bored. I worked at a job that I liked but didn’t provide much professional challenge. It wasn’t until I started my blog, Racing Bananas, that I began to get out of the funk. I had a project to focus on, to help me explore my interests, learn a new skill, and connect with people with similar interests. Seems intuitive, but I didn’t realize I needed that then.

The past 1.5 years have been a whirlwind for me – meeting Jason, moving to a new state, planning a wedding. I found last spring, though, that I was beginning to feel the same way that I did in Madison. Nothing excited me and my challenged me, but not in the way I needed. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to pull myself out of this slump.

But – things turned around. I’ve been fortunate to connect personally and professionally with colleagues who share similar interest with me. I’ve come to realize that having a network of friends and colleagues who challenge me to think outside of the box, be creative in problem resolutions, and push to me to think of what I can do is crucial to me and my life. It pushes me to to better at my job and makes me more happy. I now have a project that I’m working on with a friend that excites me and gives me something to focus on, to research, to help me develop professionally and help students grow. It’s a win-win.

What I’ve realized is that growth isn’t just for students or the overly ambitious. Submersing yourself in an environment of growth is important to continue to develop and grow, and push yourself to be better. It may be in your career or personal life, but pushing yourself – or at least, myself – to be better, I find that I am much happier. And I’m grateful for that.

Gratitude Check In

Happy Wednesday! I was awoken a bit earlier than usual this morning by a very cute pup jumping into bed and snuggling with me. I’m not even mad – it was nice to start off the day with puppy snuggles. I guess you could say that I’m grateful for that sweet moment we shared and I definitely started my day in a happier way!

Last week, I talked about how I am focusing on gratitude for the month. I have to say, I’ve definitely been more aware of being and expressing gratitude. It’s a nice change to focus on what I do have. Unfortunately, sticking to my resolutions – particularly writing in my gratitude journal each day – has been tough for me. So I’m taking action. What’s the problem? I forget to write in my gratitude journal. So, I’m setting an alarm in the evening to remind me to write in my gratitude journal each day. Boom – problem solved!


Yesterday in meeting, a colleague talked about how a previous supervisor helped to create an environment of gratitude in the workplace. She would leave cards or post-its in the office, thanking people for the work they did and leaving cheery notes. The supervisor also challenged her office to write 10 thank you cards to people each week.

I really like this idea. I like the idea of thoughtfully taking time each week to identify someone who has helped me or gone above and beyond. It’s so easy to focus on the every day tasks we have to do, and take for granted what other people do. So I’m challenging myself to write a thank you note each week this month to thank people for everything they do. Small steps, right?

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December 2015 Resolutions

Oh December, where did you come from? November was a blur. Actually all of 2015 feels as if it were a blur and now, as I finally have a chance to catch my breath, it’s coming to a close. As one of my favorite writers/podcasters Gretchen Rubin likes to say: The days are long but the years are short. As I get older, this becomes more and more true.

I talked a bit about gratitude in my last post, and decided that is going to be my theme for December. Gratitude. Being grateful for all that I have in my life. Focusing on what I do have, instead of what I want (or think that I want). This may seem like a more applicable resolution for November, but hey, it’s my project, so my rules.


December Resolutions:

  1. Write in my gratitude journal each day. Each day, I am going to purposefully write down at least one thing I’m grateful for in my life. I like this, because it will help me get in the habit of focusing on all that I do have, instead of thinking of what I don’t have, or what I want. I like the idea of fostering an environment of positivity each day.
  2. Intentionally express gratitude to people in my life. It’s easy to live each day and take for granted what the people around you do. I want to be more intentional about thanking people for the things that they do every day. I try very hard to thank Jason each day for everything he does – taking care of me and Hoss, making dinner each night, being my partner. I want to make this effort more widespread.
  3. Make gratitude a habit through pairing. One technique Gretchen Rubin suggests to help build habits is use the technique of pairing. Pairing refers to putting two things/actions together, and meaning they always go together. Since they always go together, you cannot do one without the other. So, my resolution for the month is that every time I get into the car (typically a minimum of two times per day), I have to think of one thing that I am grateful for. This will help me build the habit of starting and ending my work day by being grateful.

So December is my month to focus on gratitude. Particularly since December seems to be stressful with work and the holidays, my goal that by practicing gratitude, I will more easily be able to focus on the good in my life, rather than what I perceive to be “the bad.” It’s worth a shot, right?


Early Morning Coffee Thoughts

Due to a fire alarm that ran out of battery at 4am, my day is off to a different start than usual. Which is fine, because it’s 6:34am and instead of rushing around before work, I’m sitting on the couch, with with the fireplace on, sipping on coffee, snuggled under my blanket, watching the news. This is a luxury I only get to enjoy on days off. It’s my favorite way to start the day.


As I sit, I’m struck with how thankful I am for these few quiet moments before my day begins.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my December goals and resolutions as I prepare to re-focus on Project: Best Kim in just a few short days. One thing that I did about a year ago that I want to begin again is a gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal can be different things to different people. To me, it’s a place where once a day I write down one thing I am grateful for. It can be something good that happened that day or just something in my life I am grateful for. What I love about a gratitude journal is that it forces me to look for the positive. Even during a bad day where everything goes wrong and stress levels are through the roof, there is always something to be thankful for. Always something good in life to appreciate.

So my gratitude journal will be coming back and I will get in the habit of writing in it every day.

But until then, I’ll just enjoy and appreciate these quiet moments this morning.

Lessons Learned from Cesar Milan

I wish I could start by saying I’m sorry that Project: Best Kim fell to the wayside this month, but truth be told, I’m not. The past four weeks have been filled with some of the most amazing and most challenging moments and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.


As I mentioned briefly, Jason and I adopted a dog. His name is Hoss. He is just over one years old and a labrador/coonhound mix. He’s the most sweet, lovable, curious, rambunctious, mischievous, silly little guy and to say that I’m completely and utterly infatuated with him would be an understatement.

That being said, Jason and I weren’t ready for a dog. We didn’t really talk about it more than discussing we wanted a dog and adopted Hoss on a whim. Neither of us regret this, but as an adopted dog, Hoss has come with some challenges – some of which we assume are from the first year of his life, a year that we know absolutely nothing about.


The two biggest challenges we’ve encountered so far are establishing dominance with Hoss and his severe separation anxiety. Upon getting Hoss, in hindsight, I can tell you that Jason and I did not do the best job of establishing dominance with him. We fawned over Hoss, giving him loads of attention and love. Turns out, that is not always the most healthy way to interact with a pup!

The other problem, the HUGE problem, we’ve been dealing with is Hoss’s separation anxiety. Hoss cannot be alone (right now). We left Hoss alone – in his crate, out of his crate – and what resulted was complete chaos and emotional distress. Hoss fixates on Jason and I being gone and then flips out. He goes to the bathroom in the house, he knocks over tables and gates, he barks uncontrollably. It is not a good situation for Hoss, for us, or for our neighbors.

Over the past month, I started doing research on what to do. I’ve had dogs all of my life, but have never had to deal with this sort of issue before and I did not know how to begin remedying it. In my research, I kept coming back to Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer. I bought a (used) version of his book, Cesar’s Way and began to educate myself.

Reading this book was like having a light bulb go off in my brain. To put it simply, I needed to take control. I (and Jason) needed to be Hoss’s leader, his pack leader. I needed to provide direction and rules and guidance and for Hoss. I needed to take control. I needed to provide discipline and do that before providing affection (which is incredibly hard to do!). It was a mind blow for me. And hard, because this type of behavior is not in my nature.

The book also gave me the push I needed to reach out and ask for help about Hoss’s separation anxiety. We met with the vet and our dog trainer and Hoss is now on a medication and in doggy daycare. The vet told us, bluntly, Hoss cannot be left alone until we have a handle on his separation anxiety. It’s not ideal, but it’s working. Hoss now goes to doggy daycare three times per week and loves it. He gets to interact with other humans and other dogs, and gets lots of exercise. It consequently makes him much more calm at home and gives Jason and I the opportunity to be more calm when we train Hoss. It’s a win win for all of us.

We’ve had Hoss for one month, though it seems like much longer. What I find to be amazing is that Hoss has challenged me so much over the past month and has really helped push me to be better. With Hoss, and now within other areas of my life, I’m working to be more assertive and to take better control. It’s against my nature to try to take control of a situation and be dominant, but I’m beginning to see how important it is to have someone that is the point person, who drives what is happening, and who makes decisions. I’m also re-learning what patience is. One of my goals last month was to try not to fly off the handle so much. Having Hoss makes me confront this tendency in me almost daily, but it’s good.

Hoss has brought so much love, joy, and laughter into our lives. He may not have been 100% planned and definitely challenges us daily (hourly?!), but he makes us happier. And that makes it all worth it.

Reading is Good for the Soul

Books are my favorite. Since I was young, as far back as I can remember, books have been my life. An alternate reality. An escape route that I can turn to when I’m tired or stressed, looking for a laugh or sometimes, a good cry. I love the world that books create and the calm that they give me.

My goal this year was to ready 50 books. I just finished #31 and am in the middle of #32. Considering the bustle of this year, I’m pretty proud of where I’m at and am hoping I’ll reach 40 books by the end of the year.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m finding that my interests have changed, evolved. I not only want to read love stories. I’m more open to non-fiction. I want to read books that challenge me, enrich me, not just provide a quick escape.

And without further ado, I give you the ten books I read this year that I challenged and excited me.

Project Best Kim’s Favorite Books This Year (So Far…)

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Give and Take by Adam Grant

The Rosie Project by Graemie Simsion

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

I Am Malala by Malala

Led by Faith (Left to Tell) by Immaculee Ilibagiza

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Just ten that I’ve loved so far this year – what have you been reading?

Oh, Hello! October Goal Check In

October has absolutely been the most eventful, fantastic, crazy month of my life! Which is the main reason I went MIA here on Project: Best Kim!

First, I got married! When people say their wedding day was the best day of their life, it’s not a joke. My wedding day was filled to the brink with love, laughter, a bit of stress, but mostly, pure joy. I got to marry my best friend and spend the most spectacular day with my closest family and friends. There’s really not much more to ask for!


The other piece of completely not planned news is that Jason and I adopted a dog – Hoss! We brought him home a week ago, and he is absolutely one of the best parts of our lives. He is a lab-hound mix, one years old (so definitely still a puppy!), and the most sweet, rambunctious ball of fur that I could ask for. It’s been an eventful week (to say the least), but the happiness and love that we feel for Hoss is unbelievable. He makes our little family feel whole.


As for my October goals, I’ve made pretty good progress overall. In my last post, I talked all about unsubscribing from unwanted emails, like newsletters and “special deals.” Seriously, this was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It is amazing to wake up and not have my inbox filled with unnecessary messages. Plus, it hasn’t been all that time consuming to complete!

I’ve been pretty good about abiding by the one minute rule – aka doing any task that can be completed in less than one minute. Especially now that we have Hoss, tidying up and putting away things is even more important. It’s so easy to quickly put away a few dishes or hang up my clothes after work instead of throwing them in the corner. Letting things pile up is what leads to too much clutter and mess. I’ve been trying hard to keep our house tidy, because having our home appear clean and organized makes me feel more organized. It’s a win-win, right?

As for my closet, it’s not happening this month. Here’s to next month!



I’m getting married in four days. FOUR DAYS. I can barely contain my excitement (or craziness). J is a saint for putting up with me!

Just because I’m getting married didn’t mean I could slack on my October Focus. The number one focus of the past week? Unsubscribing from unwanted emails.

Friends, this has been the greatest goal I could have ever set for myself. Each morning, I take an inventory of all of the emails I received and then unsubscribe from the ones that I always automatically delete, never read, or are no longer applicable to me (I’m looking at you, Wedding Paper Divas and Chili’s Coupons!). It takes all of 8 seconds to scroll to the bottom of the email and hit “unsubscribe” and I would estimate that I’ve removed myself from over 50 email lists at least!

It may seem like a silly, small goal to set and be so excited about, but waking up daily and only seeing 12 emails in my inbox, all of which are applicable to me and that I want to read, helps me start the day off with much less stress. I feel less overwhelmed and more ready to start the day.

I challenge you to try unsubscribing from email lists or promotional emails you always delete! Let me know if you give it a try!


October 2015 Focus

Can anyone else believe that it is October? I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I’m getting married in ten (!!!) days. I feel like I have spent the past year anticipating October and all of a sudden it’s here. A year of planning and craziness and all of a sudden the big day will be here in less than two weeks.

I know it seems silly to be beginning a brand new project with a wedding coming up so soon, but I kind of decided there is no reason to push it off. So without further ado, my October Focus.


My biggest focus this month is working on decluttering my life. One of the biggest sources of stress that I experience comes from the fact that I’m messy. I have the ability to not be messy, but…I’m a bit lazy. But I’m going to work on that, slowly but surely!

-Unsubscribe from unneeded/unwanted emails. I don’t know about you, but I wake up each morning with at least 30+ emails each morning that I don’t want or need. It’s annoying and takes going through emails even longer each morning. So I’m going to unsubscribe from every junk email or subscription that I receive and delete with no intention of reading.

-Abide by the 1 minute rule. I read about this from Gretchen Rubin (shocking!). The 1 minute rule says that if you can do any given task in less than 1 minute, do it! So often, there is a quick task (like hanging up my clothes after work) that I don’t do because I say I’ll do later, and all of a sudden, days later, it’s too much to tackle and becomes overwhelming. So starting today, every task I need to do that I can do in less than 1 minute, I’m doing!

-Tackle my closet. Sigh, this is a project. A huge project. My closet has become an unmanageable beast. This month, I want to begin the process of cleaning my closet – getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or that I don’t like, getting rid or purses, etc that I never use. It’s going to be time consuming, but I need to work on this to feel more stress free.

-Practice patience. This is a big resolution and I know it’s not something I can overcome in one month. I am prone to …overreacting. When things don’t go right, I get upset quickly. I hate waiting, I hate rude drivers, I hate when things don’t go according to plan. I want to begin trying to be more patient and not flying off the handle when things don’t go how they’re “supposed to.” I figure it’s good with the wedding next week – it’s not worth getting stressed over things I can’t control. But it’s also important in my every day life. On my way to work I go nuts over people who don’t know how to drive (yes, my bias there) or when I have an appointment and the person is running late. I want to work on taking a deep breath, counting to 5, and realizing that things not going according to plan is ok.

I definitely have a lot I want to begin working on this month. Writing down my different areas of focus and sharing them is a great way to keep myself on track and I hope I’m able to make progress!


Goals or Resolutions?

I’ve made a list, a list entirely too long to tackle in one month (and possibly one year!), of all of things I want to achieve, explore, accomplish, etc. They range from abiding by the “one minute rule” (a.k.a. if you have something you need to do that can be done in less than one minute, do it!) to honing in on what my purpose in life is. That’s a pretty big range!

As I’ve contemplated over what I want Project: Best Kim to be for the last couple of days, I’ve decided that I am going to set goals for myself each month. The goals don’t necessarily have to be related or bound together by a particular theme, but rather, at the beginning of the month, I’m going to identify what I want and need (and am ready) to work on for the next 30 days and that will be my focus. Instead of planning out a year long journey, I’m going to take this one month at a time (which as a Type A crazy person, does go somewhat against my control freak nature).


One point I’ve been ruminating over, however, is whether to call what I’m working on goals or resolutions. Does it matter? Well, I finished The Happiness Project yesterday, and Gretchen Rubin discussed how she liked/preferred/argues that having resolutions is more long term and lasting than setting a goal. Goals, she says, are an absolute thing you accomplish. You set the goal to run a half marathon. You train, eat right, then run the half marathon. Check! Goal met and done. Resolutions, on the other hand, are not as concrete. You can have a resolution to run each day; you can still run the half marathon, but that does not end your resolution to continue running. You keep your resolutions, long term; they are ongoing and something you continually work to meet.

I pondered the idea of goal versus resolution more than I should have on my way to work today. Ultimately I decided that I’m going to set goals for concrete “things” I want to accomplish – connect with a community non-profit or run a half marathon. I’m going to have resolutions for ongoing changes I want to make in my life – being more patient in social situations and not overreacting to every small challenge I encounter. I guess to me, it makes sense that resolutions are those ongoing changes or adjustments that I want to make, but know won’t happen in just 3o days. That instead I need to make a more long term commitment to changing my habits and attitude to really make progress. Resolutions take time.

That’s where I am at! Now I need to just fine tune my infinite list of what I want to work on and pick just four or five to tackle in October.

What do you think? Do you like the ideas of goals or resolutions?