Looking Up

This weekend was a kaleidoscope of soft snow, roaring wood stoves, homemade food (cooked by someone else!), big hugs, sweaty mittens, unbeatable views, and the happiest of happy hours.


It felt as if we had gone through the closet doors and found ourselves somewhere near the lamp post in the Narnian woods.


The joy of being outside, with people you love, in a place far less touched by the 21st century does something to you- no cell reception meant there was no thinking about responding to emails, checking Instagram, or texting back a friend. I was free, breathing in and out nothing but gratitude.




As two young twenty somethings (one still in grad school), we live on a tight budget, and often say no to expenses that fall outside of our needs. But trips like this are a need– a few times a year, we budget for experiences that break us out of our ruts and help us to look up, above the tree line. The views up here make me want to hold on to this perspective for dear life.


I hope wherever you are this winter, you have the chance to go somewhere that lets you slow down and reflect…preferably somewhere with a piping hot, enormous slice of homemade gingerbread.



My first client

I have a client! (Insert stadium crowd cheers here.) I graduated from IIN in July, but I’ve been dragging my feet about finding health coach clients for a while. I wanted to have my website perfect, my coaching materials organized, more practice under my belt…I wanted to feel ready.

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An opportunity presented itself recently that I couldn’t pass up, so I took on my first client. It’s been a couple weeks so far, and here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Lose the script! You’re going to alienate your client if you work too much off your prepared agenda.
  • Listen more, talk less.
  • Start with goals for the client, but be flexible. If they want to take on more, go with that. If they need to slow down another week, that’s cool too.
  • You don’t have to take on a completely different persona when you run meetings or write your emails. They chose to work with you for a reason- don’t change your voice in order to prove you’re professional.
  • Check-ins between sessions are appreciated, even if it’s just a quick email or shared Pinterest board.

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  • Test the homemade granola bars BEFORE you send them to a client. As delicious as toasted coconut peanut butter flax seed bars may sound…they’re really, really not.
  • Just because the client does most of the legwork doesn’t mean your work as a coach isn’t valuable. Having someone hold you responsible for your actions is a big part of the puzzle. And supplementing that with tips and recipes is just icing on the (carrot) cake.
  • You don’t have to use up the whole 50 minute session- if you can both cover the ground you need to in 30, go with that.
  • This kind of work lights me up from the inside out.


Being broke & being happy

Real talk: we’re broke.


It’s cool though- we’re broke by choice. Yes, seriously. Hear me out:

We haven’t been feeling in control of our money lately. We get paid, it gets spent. We think we’re doing fine, so we splurge on dinners out or trips. We cover the bills, but barely. At the end of the month we’re left feeling confused or guilty. “But where did it all go?!”

Yes, we’re in our mid twenties and don’t make a lot, but compared to the rest of the world, we are incredibly well off. (Did you know Vietnam’s annual income is about 2k/person?)


There’s no excuse for not knowing where our money goes, and no reason we can’t feel financially in control.

This week Trevor and I finally had a budget meeting. We went over our credit card statements from the past few statements to see where our largest areas of spending resided (rent, gas, groceries) and updated our spreadsheet of income vs. expenses, which includes short and long term saving goals. Together, we made a conscious choice to be broke in order to work towards those goals.


It’s a tight budget, and it’s going to be tough, but we’re feeling pretty darn good about it.

Here’s what being broke means for us:

  • We’re saying no to 100% organic local groceries for a while, and just focusing on the dirty dozen
  • We’re starting an emergency fund- it’s a small start, but it’s a start
  • We’re taking a break from eating out- no restaurants, no coffees on the go, no afternoon bakery snack attacks
  • We’re adding 10 minutes to our commute to avoid tolls
  • We’re ditching fancy recipes and learning how to get creative in the kitchen using fewer ingredients (and freezing extra portions to use throughout the week- thanks for the tip sis!)
  • We’re saying no to new travel commitments – as much as we want visit all our friends and family, we just can’t afford it right now. (But our home is always open to visitors.)
  • We’re being responsible for our debts- we have two car loans and we’re committed to meeting every payment on time
  • We’re giving homemade Christmas gifts this year (sorry family- we’ll make ‘em pretty though.)
  • We’re ditching all commercial shopping – we’ve got plenty of warm clothes and way more “stuff” than we know what to do with. We don’t need anything else.
  • The Big One: we’re saving up for a 3-week vacation to Sri Lanka and Vietnam next June. This is an incredibly important trip for us- we’re going with Bác Jim and Jenn, our mentors who first took us to Vietnam back in 2010 and married us at our wedding. And it’s our last trip before we start thinking about some super adult decisions.


Have you had to buckle down on your budget? What were the things you chose to live without? Was it worth it?



This weekend, Trevor and I celebrated our first anniversary. Thanks to the generosity of a wonderful friend, we stayed in a log cabin on Lake Millinocket, just a short canoe paddle away from breathtaking views of Mt. Katahdin.


I’ve been visiting this northern Maine mountain every summer for as long as I can remember. It’s my spiritual touchpoint- a place that clarifies what’s worth pursuing, and what I should stop worrying about.

Trevor hiked Katahdin a number of times as a boy scout growing up, which somehow makes it an even more hauntingly beautiful place. A mountain we were both climbing long before we knew the other existed, or would come to be the one.


This weekend we let ourselves dream without reservations. About getting Rosewood on its feet, about Sri Lanka next summer, about tiny houses, about the many touchstones and anniversaries we’ll celebrate down the road. In between dreams, we made pasta from scratch…


…and drank endless mugs of cocoa, and read an entire book…



…and played cards on springy sunlit moss…


tesscards…and went on many wonderfully lazy canoe trips, searching for moose who didn’t want to be found.

canoeHere’s to many more anniversaries, and to remembering the lessons of Katahdin: chase what matters, let go of the rest.