I’m almost 35. And I don’t know how I feel about that.

Editor’s Note: Nostalgia and some angst ahead.  Proceed with caution.

Underneath all the fun of birthday month shenanigans is the true story that I’m another year older.  I always use my birthday as a great time to look back, reflect, make plans, get excited, measure up, compare needlessly, etc.  There’s something extra for birthdays that end in 0 and 5.  I don’t know why, there just is.

daysr-are-long-years-are-short

That was the alternate title of this post.  I’ve got plenty of people telling me I’m not old.   But most of those people are older than me.  It just feels like age became a real thing all of a sudden.

Thinking about the last five years – it’s been a pretty amazing, actually.  For sure the most significant personal growth, and maybe that’s the good part of getting older – wisdom.  I see clearer, understand more, worry less, pay less attention to stupid, and generally contribute more good than bad to the world.  Tomorrow I’ll post about birthday fun and hopes and dreams and wishes and the future.  Tonight I get to take a minute to think the last 5 years, as measured by birthdays.

How 31 was done:

I had been at River City Casino just under a year at this point and had finally relented and befriended the four crazy women that made up our HR office.  I walked in the day of my birthday to find cake and decorations.  It was really sweet.

See the tiny spoon?  I'm pretty sure that was a gelato tasting spoon that we had in the HR office for some reason.

See the tiny spoon? I’m pretty sure that was a gelato tasting spoon that we had in the HR office for some reason.  Ahh, casino days.  

Angela threw me a perfect party: Turkey burgers, pumpkin beer and s’mores for dessert.  It was exactly what I wanted.

I may have made a little Dr. Seuss-style speech to thank them for the party and their friendship.  But mostly to make a rhyming speech.  Also - how much do I miss my super long hair??  Grow faster!

I may have made a little Dr. Seuss-style speech to thank them for the party and their friendship. But mostly to make a rhyming speech. Also – how much do I miss my super long hair?? Grow faster!

These girls.

These girls.

Meg is there on the left, she’s the one getting married in Virginia in a few weeks.  Angela is on the other end, holding George (the dog).  I emailed her a few days ago to tell her I can’t believe this years ago.  Since then she has had two baby girls!  This was just a minute ago!  This was the group that brought me back into the world.  I had come home from Chicago the day after my 30th birthday feeling lost and defeated.  If there had ever been a time for me to focus on me and figure my crap out – it was that time.  And when I was ready – so were these ladies.  My divorce was final 4 days after this.  And so I entered 32…

31 Birthday recaps here and here

Boo to 32…

Yeah.  Mostly the last several years have been a roller coaster that only goes up, but my 32nd birthday came right in the middle of a super yuck time.  I “resigned” from the casino at the end of August and was once again lost and sad.  Meg had moved in with me for what we thought would be 6 months while she looked for a job in Virginia, and good for her and all for finding one after 6 weeks.  She moved out just a few days prior to my birthday.   All I wanted for my birthday was Indian food with my sister for dinner.

What’s great about forcing myself to look back is that I’m so humbled by how people showed up for me.  This blog may be ridiculous to everyone else, but I might have forgotten that Angela showed up to my house the morning of my birthday to go for a run and a workout with me.  Claire met me at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  When I stopped in to see Brian he made it seem like I was doing him a favor by working for him that fall, when I’m sure it was the other way around.  My sister did go get Indian food with me for dinner.  Cyndi continued her tradition of being the most thoughtful gift giver I know.  Man.  I have tears streaming down my face.  I’m sure I took all of this kindness for granted in the moment.  I’m sure I couldn’t see beyond my terrible, no-good time.  I’m going to immediately send so many people flowers after I publish this.

Birthday recap here…

I look back and know that it was a hermit-y kind of birthday – but what I couldn’t have known is that three weeks later I would get the call that told me I was accepted into the BGSU grad school program.  And that friends, was a choice that made all the difference…

33 – being as old as Jesus

I was really happy that my birthday was falling on a grad school weekend.  These were the people I was closest to at that time and I couldn’t imagine spending my birthday with anyone else.  I requested that we go back to Jed’s, and sit on their patio and drink the night away.  And we did.  What makes me smile about that night when I look back is it’s also the night I told, well, everyone really (including D) about my crush on D.  It was this very grade school like plot to try and sit next to him or have a reason to talk to him.  Our classmates weighing in on whether they thought this was a good idea.  And me finally just telling him it was now officially the worst kept secret in the cohort.  It was the first time there was any flirting and it was fun and exciting.  Ahh, early romance.

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I made the rounds that night taking selfies with everyone… Kristy – who lives in Columbus now and I just had Girls Day for this birthday with!

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Just an hour or so before the crush confession.

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And with Steve – class clown extraordinaire.

The next morning in class I had some ‘splaining to do to poor D who may have been caught off guard by my admission.  I spent the plane ride home crafting a really long email explaining how it had all come to be and what I was thinking, etc.  It’s one of the emails I’ve kept – it was a really fun time.

Emilie, my favorite sister, always made sure she was around to celebrate with me as well.  We went to a Slow Food St. Louis fundraiser and then drank Rumchata at my favorite neighborhood bar.

My sis and I celebrating pre-birthday with Rumchata.

My sis and I celebrating pre-birthday with Rumchata.

Birthday recaps here and here …

The first link was actually a post a few days before my birthday.  And one that was really great to read right now.  It was about the amazing and thoughtful people I have in my life (seriously Cyndi with the crazy thoughtful gifts) and the people that I’m so close to and that in this moment I’m not sure I deserve.  I’m all wrapped up in break up angst (yes, still, a little – I know).  I think that may be one of my favorite posts ever.

34 in paradise

This one is a little tougher to write about.  Last year I ended birthday post with this paragraph:

I had no anxiety about this birthday at all.  I don’t care that I’m “mid-30’s” now, I don’t mind another year.  I have decided it’s a function of being very content.  I don’t feel I should be somewhere else, someone else, something else.  I’m actually quite happy with where everything in my life is right now.  

I spent 34 in Mexico with D.  It was a perfect trip.  We were celebrating graduation which had been a month before, we got to spend real quality time together, he gave me two birthday cards because he couldn’t decide and I remember thinking that was adorable.  It was just this really sweet and romantic trip.

34th Birthday dinner

34th Birthday dinner

All over the resort we were referred to as Mr. and Mrs. D.  Except it's in quotes.  I never did get it.  Maybe his last name was just easier to spell than mine.

All over the resort we were referred to as Mr. and Mrs. D. Except it’s in quotes. I never did get it. Maybe his last name was just easier to spell than mine.

I went into this post thinking about that last line from last year’s birthday post.  My intention was to then say that not only did things not change – everything changed.  I think during the course of writing this (incredibly long) post I’ve realized that actually, maybe not as much has changed as I think.  I’m still incredibly lucky.  I’m still surrounded by amazing people – many of the same.  Cyndi is still an insanely thoughtful gift giver (Thanks, Cyndi!) and Claire is still checking in with me and Ann still likes every picture I post on Instagram and I’m in Meg’s wedding and Angela and I have dinner when I’m back in STL and Colin still texts me a random Sorkin quote…  I feel a little like Ebenezer Scrooge with the ghost of Christmas past…  These last few  years have been amazing.  It will only get better.

To 35 and beyond…

Tomorrow a group of colleagues will meet me for birthday happy hour.  With the exception of two people, it’s a group I didn’t even know a year ago.  And now there are some new favorites, friends I hope I have for many more birthdays to come.

Wow.  Maybe the best gift (outside of the book and calendar Cyndi sent me!) is the always appreciated increased self awareness.  It’s amazing how I came into this with a sad tinge.  And I’m leaving with a list of people to send notes to, and be grateful for, and send love into the universe for.

I’ll save the article and Year 35 resolutions for another time.  This became a whole other thing tonight.  I wrote the title of this post first.  I would have to say I do know how I feel about 35… fan-freaking-tastic.

A: Ladies 80’s night & Bachelorette Parties

Q: Where to not take pictures so there is no proof later?

I’m on a roll, friends.  A Birthday Month, no holds barred, maybe more events than I can handle roll.

This group of 6 consultants that I hang out with occasionally (and have over for dinner and Wii dancing) found out about “Ladies 80’s” night at a local bar.  It is exactly what it sounds like – a ladies night with all 80’s music for dancing the night away.  They invited the whole program team, and since I enjoy the group and have a tiny, little, innocent crush on one of them, I was sure to go.  I invited my favorite co-worker, three or four other project team members showed up and we had an absolute blast last Thursday night.  I drank a tad too much vodka (read: much too much. Luckily, the worst thing I did that night is lose my glasses.  I’m sure I was a dance floor maniac, but no one seems to care.  We had a super fun time.

So much fun that I missed my flight the next morning… I was headed to Florida for a bachelorette weekend.  I had a 7:10am flight.  I got home at 3am from Ladies 80’s night.  One could probably see this coming.  I had two alarms set for that morning, was all packed…to no avail.  I bolted up in bed at 7am, looked at the clock, texted the bride telling her I’d be on a later flight due to “flight issues” (I told her the truth once I was there in person) and called the airline to see what my options were.  Luckily, Southwest Airlines rules all and as long as I got to the airport within 2 hours of my original departure time they would put me on standby flights to get there.  I missed the beautiful non-stop from Columbus to Orlando, so I don’t land in Florida until 2pm.  But, the only thing I missed out on was going to the new Harry Potter World which will be there next time.  And, it might have been worth it to party the night before with the gang.

We had a big beach house in New Smyrna, FL for the weekend and had a really nice weekend.  Again, I have no pictures of this.  10 girls, so many bottles of liquor, wine and beer, dance parties, laying on the beach, Cards Against Humanity, dancing at a townie bar and ice cream sundaes.  There is the weekend in a nutshell.  I got home late Sunday evening and charged into the week ahead.  I had a happy hour with a woman I’m becoming friendly with Monday night.  She and her husband are some of my new favorite Columbus-ites and it was nice to hang out with her for a while.  It was beautiful Monday night here so I went for a walk in the Short North neighborhood after that.  (Amazing how functional I am after an actual happy “hour” with one drink.)

This afternoon I got home a little early (I start early on Tuesday mornings because of my calls with India.  Yup – I’m international.)  I went for a run and then whipped up a new Sweet Potato recipe for a Pinterest Party!  I have gotten into Meetup.com lately and joined a home cooks/bakers group.  Tonight was my first event with them and the theme was to bring a dish that you’ve had pinned but have never made.  It was such a good idea!  I thought I’d take the opportunity to test out a potential Thanksgiving Side dish recipe – Mashed sweet potatoes with kale and boursin cheese.

Photo from A Family Feast blog

Photo from A Family Feast blog

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I was happy to see so many savory dishes – including an awesome roasted zucchini pasta salad, cuban sliders and a watermelon mint salad. Dessert highlight was the creme brulee cheesecake!

This is the best potluck in town!

There were about 18 people and everyone was super nice.  It was a really nice evening.

Non stop fun continues this week with an alumni event on Thursday, the Craft Beer Festival on Friday night, my friend Kristy coming to visit Saturday for this vintage flea market and an early birthday dinner, and a Soup Cooking Class/demo on Sunday!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

A conversation that happened today – played out in skit style on the blog

First – meet the players:

There's me

There’s me

There's my boss

There’s my boss

There is the head of the top Change Management research and methodology company

There is the head of the top Change Management research and methodology company

And there is this book: Practicing Organization Development, 3rd Edition

And there is this book: Practicing Organization Development, 3rd Edition

Now that you’re familiar, let me set the scene.  It’s 10am.  I am just finishing a meeting to discuss actual numbers of end users for project implementation (fyi – it’s twice what I thought) when the phone rings…

my boss: Hey Sarah.  It’s me, your boss.

me: Hey boss.

my boss: I just got a phone call from Mr. Head of the top Change Mgmt research and methodology company.  He asked if I knew anyone who might want to collaborate on a book chapter he’s writing for an OD textbook on change management.  Is it okay if I give him your name?

me: Umm, heck freaking yeah.  Please pass my name on to him.

my boss: Great.  He’d like us to help write the case study and I think you’re the best partner.  You should be getting an invite from him.

me: I got this.

End Scene.

I may have paraphrased some, but you get the idea, right?

My boss recommended me to this super important guy in the change management world (we all have our industry rock stars) to help test the model/framework he’s introducing in the chapter of an OD textbook that my OD Master’s program used!  If this all works out, I cannot wait to send that email to some professors.  “Oh, by the way, I’m listed as a collaborator in this text book now.”  In addition, he wants to collaborate on the case study and use my current Nationwide program as the example.  Now – this is all preliminary and maybe it goes nowhere.  But in my inbox right this second is the abstract and outline for the method he’s writing.  I’m supposed to review it.  No problem, Mr. Head of the top Change Mgmt research and methodology company.  No problem.

Did I not just write on this very blog last night how I want to start writing, want to pursue being published.  Holy cow, Universe!  You rule all!  I made space and the space was filled.  And in no small way.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

It’s been a while since I thought about the book that was so important to me for several years: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Today one of the passages from the book came back to me:

“But I love him.”

“So love him.”

“But I miss him.”

“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”

It’s not so much the not letting go of the man part that struck me today, although certainly relevant right now, it was the if you clear out the space you’re using to obsess, you open a spot and the universe rushes in to fill it.  I’m overwhelmed by this opportunity this morning.  I’m reminded that I have the power to survive.  On a change management webinar last week, someone introduced the topic of resiliency and how they were using this resiliency assessment when they hired new change practitioners.  Because above all else, a change professional should be able to handle change.  I’ve been thinking about it since I heard of the assessment and haven’t gotten my hands on it yet – but how resilient am I?  I’ve spent two months being mostly numb and living in a hermitage that is my house.  So plans changed, so some one didn’t love me as much as I loved them… look at all the other stuff that’s out there waiting for me.

And Universe – if you’re still listening as intently as you were last night – I’d like you to send a Ted Mosby my way…I’ll be here…contributing to a chapter in an OD textbook.

 

All better.

I nearly named this post “…and calm returns.”  When it dawned on me I already had a post titled that exact same thing.  And you know what it was about?  The exact same thing I’m going to write about here.  Some may choose to see this as me in a destructive pattern.  I choose to see it proof I got through this scenario a couple years ago and I can get through it again.  It’s almost laughable how similar this week has been to a week back in November 2011.

First – some advice for future Sarah…STOP TRYING TO BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR EXES!

I mean, at least give it some time.  I have a warped sense of friends with exes.  I had a long time friendship with my on again/off again boyfriend Brad.  And I count my ex husband as one of my best friends. (Hey buddy!)  Both of those relationships didn’t come about over night and both of those took work from both parties to get to a friendship state of mind.  I miss D.  I valued him as a friend and classmate before we dated.  But I’m going to have to accept that relationship doesn’t just come back.  (I do wish I realized that before the great texting mistake of this past Sunday night – but whatevs.  I’ve always wanted a restraining order against me.)  (KIDDING!)

To settle myself down after the break up breakdown this past weekend I made a “pick me up playlist”, went for a run, and talked to my friendly neighborhood shrink (who actually thinks my super grief over the break up may be more related to latent super grief about my dad dying, but that’s this whole other Oedipal spiral I’m not particularly buying into.  I digress….).  I started to feel better.  Tonight I spent the day at a conference where people discussed ideas and asked for my input.  Awesome.  I then got a glass of wine on the best patio in town (mine, naturally) and pulled out a book: Organization Development: A data-driven approach to organizational change.  That’s right.  Part of my problem is that I needed something to fill the space in my life where the relationship was.  Well, I want to present at ACMP or OD conferences in the next couple of years.  The department head of my OD master’s program told me BGSU was working towards a PhD program in OD in the next couple of years and told me not to consider going somewhere else until I saw what they were doing.  In order to pursue those endeavors, having some work published would be helpful.  So, I guess it’s time to think about what kind of work I want to research, where I think I can influence.  This is really exciting to me.  I get all lit up talking about small group effectiveness and organizational behavior.  I’ve really missed school and these topics, so time to get back to it in some way.

The thing about returning to this place, the post break up crazy space, is that looking back to late 2011 and wondering how I was ever going to get through it is awesome from the other side.  Um, not only did I get through it, I left that space in my dust!  2012 and 2013 have been my best years yet.  2014 is starting off a little rough, but I’m more hopeful this evening.  I’ve got 6 months left and no idea what happens tomorrow.  (Well, I mean, I know I get up, bring the pork roast that is in my crock pot overnight to work for our Halfway Mark Potluck for the big program I work on, drive back downtown for an Ops Review and then go to Jazzercise – but you get my drift.)  I can now see all the space and time as an opportunity to do anything else.  And if (hopefully, when) D and I can be friends, that will be great because he makes a good paper editor and I’ll need someone to read my drafts to check for punctuation mistakes.  (Because obviously I overuse parentheses…and ellipsis.)

I like to think I get so wound up and crazy because I’m so passionate about the people in my life.  If I felt lukewarm, this wouldn’t be an issue.  It’s best I just embrace the crazy because I’m not giving up the passionate side of me.  It’s my best side.

crazy Sarah

 

Where were we…

 

I ran the Enchanted 10K...

I ran the Enchanted 10K…

...to get this medal.

…to get this medal.

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The next day ran the Princess Half…

 

to get these medals.

to get these medals.

 

Culminating in completion of the Glass Slipper Challenge AND the coveted Coast to Coast medal.

Culminating in completion of the Glass Slipper Challenge AND the coveted Coast to Coast medal.

Tink 1/2 plus Princess 1/2 = Coast to Coast!

Tink 1/2 plus Princess 1/2 = Coast to Coast!

Was it worth the stress fracture in my right foot that led to walking around in one of those sexy boots for 6 weeks…Yup.

This sister had this baby girl!  My niece Avery is so adorable.

This sister had this baby girl! My niece Avery is so adorable.

Further proof that she is the cutest darn thing.

Further proof that she is the cutest darn thing.

myhouse

I bought this house in Columbus, OH.

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And am slowly getting around to decorating it so it feels like I’m not living in someone else’s house.

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I still love to take picture of my tabby cats.

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And I met Mr. Belding WEARING my Bayside Tigers t-shirt.

 

And that brings us to June 1. Single (perpetually, it seems), still learning this new city, and eating far too much ice cream.  I can’t find a cupcake I’m crazy about here, but ice cream – we’ve got that in spades.  A picture of me in front of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams even went on the Christmas card last year.  And, a picture of me and Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is right here…

People say we could be sisters.  And by people, I mean actual people, not just me.  :)

People say we could be sisters. And by people, I mean actual people, not just me. :)

After the moving, the new job, the buying a house, the moving again, all the weekends away (for runs, weddings, trips to see adorable baby niece, staying at the now ex-boyfriends house, visiting the newly engaged friends…) I’m looking forward to the Summer of Sarah.  I’ve got plans for 30 days of NO travel (starting June 9th when I get back from going back to STL for another trip to see adorable baby niece AND see other sister who just got engaged) and may even stretch it into 45.  I have plans for another Whole 30 during those 30 days and look forward to posting and connecting with that community again.  I have plans to start creating routines here and planting herbs (a 2nd round of herbs – the transplanted ones did not take, starting from seed this time) and sitting on my patio reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  I’m going to do a photo a day on Instagram in June.  And one way or another I’m going to do 30 days of Jillians 30 Day Shred.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it past Day 12…Day 7… Okay – Day 4!  Sheesh!

In countless performance reviews, business meetings, client plans I’ve told people to think about what they want to start doing, stop doing and continue doing.  I’m going to :

Start: going out to explore Columbus, even if it’s by myself

Stop: comparing myself to others.  The recent engagement/baby boom taking place around me is causing some anxiety and I have this mildly intimidating co-worker that has led to second guessing.  No more!  I don’t even want babies.

Continue: paying my bills.  Friday night when I was most of the way through a bottle of red on my patio while reading This is Where I Leave You on as it was getting dark and my mind was wandering to this plan… this seemed very clever and funny to me.  Like this common-sense adult thing was something I needed to plan for.  It’s far less amusing now, but still a good idea and I’m sticking with it.

How you do anything…

I’m sitting here catching up on The Biggest Loser when I heard something that made me pause the show, grab a pen, and write it down.

how you do

 

I don’t think Dolvett is the original author of this quote, but a little googling didn’t lead me to an original author.  So, cheers to the first guy to say this.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Guys, this is true.  I think I’m such a compartmentalizer, yet this is exactly how it is.  I’ve been reading books on creating personal change and making habits lately and thinking about motivation and will power.  I start and stop a lot of things, I charm people into thinking I’m better than I really am which makes me kind of manipulative, I’m surprised that when I’m genuine and vulnerable, and generally not at all charming, people seem to think I’m neat…  I’m just rambling, I have to think about this phrase.  I just know it resonated with me.

The Biggest Loser was full of gems tonight, this one from my main girl, Jillian.  Jillian is talking to a contestant about this contestant about how she pushes so hard until the last tenth of a mile on the treadmill, the last two reps of a lifting session or the last seconds on a stair climber.  **I do this.  I go strong for 2.8 miles and then think I can’t do something.  Usually I fast forward through the sappy heart to hearts the trainers have with the contestants, but not this time.  This time I recognized that pattern of behavior in me and wanted to hear what advice Jill had.  “You stop because you’re afraid to embrace your potential.”

How you do anything is how you do everything.

In googling that quote I came across a website for a public speaker who used the line in a post on her site.   I was curious about her background and credentials – what makes her qualified to be a speaker.  Sometimes I wonder if I had worked more at getting my own side training/speaking business up and going – could I have made it?  Would I be in demand?  I still have time, for sure, and more experience only helps.  Did I stop short  because I’m afraid to embrace potential?

I’ve been pretty content with this smaller life I feel I’ve settled into…. Ugh, I just used the word “settled”….

I’m not always thinking about the next thing – the “I’ll be happy when….” thing.  Holy  heck, not interested in going down this rabbit hole tonight.

Back on track…  I actually opened the blog because it was part of the Healthy 2014 adventure to blog more often, and also to tell you that I did NOT stop at Steak and Shake for dinner.   I gave myself permission to do it, but then paused and asked myself if it was a healthy choice.  It was not, so I did not.

How you handle anything is how you handle everything.

Also, I’m very consistently using lotion.  Healthy habit for January – check.

Also, my thermostat is set at 60 degrees.  Yes, you heard me.  The Polar Vortex is drifting away from Columbus  now, but for days the heater was running non-stop even to maintain 60.  1. My heater is loud which makes me anxious.  2. That’s expensive, yo.  I turned it to 60 while I was at work today and haven’t gotten around to turning it back up a few degrees (65 is as high as I go at all in the winter – financial health!).

 

25 does not equal 30

Remember when I was updating you on my Whole30 progress…and then how I stopped updating you on my Whole30 progress?

Well, that’s because that’s just what happened…I made it to day 25 and felt amazing.  I was headed back to St. Louis for the weekend and throwing myself a little graduation dinner party.  I got home early on Friday, went for a run in a favorite park, went to Whole Foods and got a Whole30 compliant lunch and then couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do at dinner.  Would I have a glass of wine to celebrate?  Champagne?  Cheese?  Dessert?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

I caved.  Gave myself permission to celebrate at dinner.  And it was just that easy to never get back on the horse.  And I’m back to feeling kind of blech.

There was a warning on the Whole9 Life blog about this.  They refer to it as Day 28 syndrome, isn’t 28 days as good as 30?  They say NO.  They write that 30 days is the commitment you make to yourself.  And when you don’t keep commitments to yourself, you’re telling yourself that it’s okay that others don’t keep their commitments to you.

This is my new half marathon challenge.  That was a commitment I made to Team in Training.  My sense of responsibility is always so much stronger when I’ve made a promise to someone else.  This is a problem, actually.  Starting tomorrow the clock starts on a full Whole30.  I owe it to myself.

 

In other news…how cute is this pic of D and I from a wedding we went to last weekend…

Doug & Sarah photo booth