Some Things Just Never Change



Nurse K to the Rescue

When my sister graduated from college with her RN degree after four years, I’d like to say I was pretty proud. After all, not only had she completed and dominated an extremely rigorous course load, but she did it all while being on the school’s soccer team and keeping up a pretty healthy social life, one of which I was fortunate enough to be a part of on many weekends.

As I look back, this was what I thought of as the peak of our sisterhood. She had been living with me in our cute little townhouse during school breaks and summers, and now she’d be with me for what I hoped was forever (yes, fast forward to the nights she’d lock herself out or the mornings when she’d leave her egg-soaked spoon on the counter and I may have had a different opinion). But when everything was said and done, I was SO excited for the times we’d have ahead.

The Cat’s in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon

To commemorate her graduation, and my excitement for what was to come, I gave her a pretty eclectic graduation gift. Forget the photo albums and the diploma frames—I bought her a ceramic bowl and a spoon. I know, so weird. But what many may not know is my sister’s obsession with cereal runs deep—so deep that my husband and I were so sick of picking up rogue Kix off the floor we eventually bought her a cereal dispenser. But it wasn’t just any bowl and spoon. I had the bowl personalized with a simple script font to say, “Some things just never change.” And the sterling silver spoon’s etched roses symbolized her iconic middle name, Rose. 

So why the cereal bowl? And why the saying? Because from the time we were toddlers, she has always loved cereal. Just like she has always preferred soccer shorts over jeans. She has always preferred bugs over flowers. And she has always been my best friend… some things just never change.

Back to School

Today marks another exciting day for my sister—she started Nurse Practitioner school full time. Once again, I am so proud, and I know she will kill it, whether it’s in the classroom or her clinicals.

I sprung out of bed this morning and couldn’t wait to text her. My text read, “Happy first day of school! Wish I could ‘ride the bus’ with you!” 

After I reread the message and sent it along, I started to think back to the two years we rode the bus together in elementary school. Being three-and-a-half years apart, we didn’t get a lot of face time with each other during our school days. But as I started reminiscing about the teachers we had, the adorable ABC-lined walls and the snuggly leopard mascot that often stood in our school lobby, I couldn’t remember sitting on the bus with her—not even once. How could this be?! This is the person I meet at Lowe’s at 8:45 at night just for fun—the person I have withdrawal from after a 2-day camping trip.

But I guess back then she was just my sister. She probably sat in the front, and I sat in the back. She sat with the “little kids” and I sat with the “big kids.” As silly as it sounds, this made me so sad. I would give anything to sit on a bus with her today—to chat with her, sing with her, protect her (and for those of you who know us, get your laughs out now; I know she’d be MUCH more likely to protect me). I would give anything for those 15 minutes between the two green seats, just the two of us. Sure there would be annoying delinquents surrounding us, purposely pulling the red emergency levers or banging on the bus’ roof—but it still would have been just us. 

Maybe I didn’t want to sit with her back then; maybe being around her all the time at home was enough for me. After all, she did tend to pull my hair and show me up with her sweet rollerblading skills. But as we all know some things, most things, do change. But her love for cereal? Our bond as sisters? Never.




Heavenly Reverberations

jasonmraz_yes1-1038x576Mraz on the Mind

We all know what it’s like to listen to a brand new album. The first run through it, you’re a bit unsure. You don’t know most of the words or the melodies—everything tends to blend together and your first impression is basically, well, meh. All you want to do is sing along; all you want to do is revel in the utopian mix of treble and bass, but the newness puts all of that to a melancholy and sometimes depressing halt.

But you continue to listen… and you continue to learn the lyrics, along withe beats. And suddenly all is right with the world again. You find your favorite track, the one that never gets old, and you skip over the one or two that just don’t do it for you. It’s gotten to the point where your passengers would rather listen to Top 40 radio than listen to it again. And that’s when you know you’ve done it justice.

And yes, this may be just a tad dramatic, but we’ve all been there—and it’s not always about listening to new tracks (or being obsessed with Jason Mraz’s new album), but more about our days on this place we call Earth.

Mind over Grind

How many days do we live in the grind, mechanically going through the motions of our lives? We don’t do it intentionally. We actually strive outwardly to be the people who don’t do this. We post cliche quotes on Instagram and pin exotic travel photos to Pinterest. We remind our close friends and family that they just can’t have it all, but amidst that dashing truth, they need to live each day to its fullest. But realistically, what does that actually mean?

The more I think about it, it’s not about leaving work in the middle of the day to go cliff jumping or jet setting to Bora Bora in the middle of the night. It’s about knowing when to hold on and when to let go. It’s about knowing when to listen to your head and when to listen to your heart. And most importantly, it’s about listening to an album on repeat, over and over again, giving it a chance. Because eventually that favorite song will tire, those favorite lyrics will become nothing but a whisper, and that’s when you know you’re ready for something bigger, something better, something different.



The Pinterest Panic


See, we’ve all been there.

Heavy breathing. Sweaty brow. Erratic eye movements. It may sound like a spicy novel, but no… it’s the Pinterest panic. You know what I’m talking about… you jump on Pinterest to peruse the latest pinning activity, and you instantaneously come across pins that you want to implement in your life—IMMEDIATELY! Recipes. Crafts. Workout routines. Fashion statements. Home improvements… the list goes on, and on and on…

I can’t even begin to tell you the bodily reaction I have when all of these things seem to flurry in front of me. The more I scroll, the more I want to do. And of course I feel like the longer I sit at work, the more time I’m wasting. How many hungry caterpillar cupcakes could I bake in 8 hours? Or how many crunches could I do instead of sitting through a 2-hour meeting? AHHHH it’s just madness.

At first I thought this panic was brought on by me being a full-time working mom, trying to somehow make it up to Maryn by crafting, baking, building… But then I started comparing notes with stay-at-home moms, and the same panic washes over them. Of course they don’t have time to channel the Pinterest madness either—they’re busy chasing around naked tushies and washing magic marker off the walls (or is that Sharpie?!) Even people who are kidless (shout out to my sister,) the insanity you can drive yourself to is enough to make you throw your laptop across the room.

My obsession came to the ultimate tipping point when I was on the verge of creating an Excel spreadsheet to track which pins I had completed and whether or not the recipe, craft, project, __________ (fill in your Pinterest desires here,) was a prideful success, a mediocre victory or an epic fail to never be repeated. Can you say INSANITY?

I came to this conclusion: no matter how much free time you have, children or no children, career or no career, no one would EVER have the time to victor over even HALF of their Pinterest dreams. And to make them look like they do in the pins?! That would take a whole separate lifetime.

So with all of this said, I get the panic. I get the anxiety. It’s normal. But it’s NOT normal to hold yourself to such a ridiculously high standard that ONLY exists in photographs (that are mostly taken in a professional studio might I add!) And no one expects us to be the Rembrandts of frosting cupcakes, so why do we expect that?!

Don’t delete your Pinterest account. Enjoy it. Take one recipe, one home improvement project at a time—and you’ll be just fine. And if you really need a boost, just google “Pinterest Fail…” it’s enough to make you smile.

– Ambitioussoul

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Hope is Not a Verb

I catch myself throwing around the word “hope” all the time. “Hope to see you soon!” “Hope all is well!” “I hope so.” But today, after following up on an incredible story about a brand new mom of twin girls who is fighting a rare form of cancer, I realized in its most pure form, “hope” is not a verb.

True Hope

Hope is born when a cancer patient is declared to be in remission. Hope is alive when a family digs itself out of $150K of debt in five years and has completely changed their future. Hope is uncovered when a young girl decides instead of birthday gifts she wants her guests to bring donations for a local animal shelter. Hope is what keeps us going.

So I’m challenging myself, and I’m challenging all of you, instead of hoping, let’s bring some hope to those around us.


P.s. To follow Jenna’s journey, the mom I talk about above, “like” her support page here:

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Spoiler Alert: We are a 1-child Family

Only children

Maryn Rose

I’m pretty sure my husband and I started laying out plans for kids about a month after we started dating. It was one of those, “Yup, we’re definitely it for each other” situations, so why not talk about our offspring honestly and openly? We went over the usual topics: how many (2 of course,) names we like (this was not an easy feat) and our ideals on discipline, character and, well, creating the most well-rounded, most well-taken care of human being of all time. Yea, as you can see, we followed suit with most parents and set our expectations pretty high—not just for our future child, but for ourselves.

3 kids?! Wait, what?!
As our relationship evolved, we continued to talk about it; through our engagement, our honeymoon, our marriage, our vacations… you get the drift. So I guess the look on my husband’s face when I told him I wanted three kids shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Absolute bewilderment cascaded over his face as if he had just experienced a sasquatch sighting. I just couldn’t shake it. I loved having more than just one sibling. With two sisters, it was like we were all a perfect mix of character traits, borrowing from each other’s DNA and also originating from crazy double helixes that were all our own. I thought to myself, “Just wait until we have our first one. He’ll change his mind.”

1 kid?! Wait, what?!
I always thought I was one of those women who was born to be a mother, that once I had a baby of my own my sole purpose in life would be suddenly defined. It didn’t exactly go that way, and now that Maryn is 2 1/2, we’ve made up our minds that she will be… eek, it still seems scary to declare her… an only child. For the longest time my husband and I would look at each other, reading each other’s minds but not wanting to verbalize our thoughts. After all, that would make them real, right?

For the longest time I felt like I was failing myself and my family by thinking this way. After all, THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN! But over the course of the last month or so, I’ve really been able to find peace with it. Whenever someone would have a pregnancy reveal on Facebook, my mind would start swirling. “Their daughter is 2, and they’re having another baby already? Should we be doing that? How do we know if we should be doing that? Yes, we should. Maryn needs a sibling. No we shouldn’t. We’re not ready, or are we? No, we’re not. Or maybe we are…” I’m sure reading that stream of consciousness made you exhausted, as it would me, pretty much every day. So with my husband’s help I’ve decided to rest my mind. His reassuring and agreeable nods as I talk through my thoughts have been just what I’ve needed to experience the calming effects that can only be felt after a life-altering decision has finally been made.

Nothing is ever black and white—this is all about gray matter
The caveat to all of this is, yes, we may change our minds. Some day down the road, we may wake up, look at each other and decide to plunge into the deep depths of newborn parenting status once again. But until that happens, we’re standing our ground. My husband and I also have a strong passion for adoption. My mom was adopted, and to know she was given a life she would have otherwise been deprived of (not to mention it gave me the most amazing grandparents ever,) creates such hope in my heart. I think our openness for that possibility is a huge contributing factor to the peace we feel about all of this. And we are so thankful for that.

Am I sad I won’t have the chance to have a reveal party with pink or blue cake filling or pink or blue balloons flying out of a box? Yes. Am I sad I won’t have another little life kicking around in my belly? Of course. But I’m so happy and hopeful for all the other amazing moments and experiences life will reveal to me in the days and years ahead with our Maryn Rose.

– Ambitioussoul

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Boo-llions for the 31st


Would your father approve of your Halloween spending habits?

I’m a bit nervous to broadcast what I’m about to say in fear that I will get endless amounts of hate mail, but it looks like I’ve already started down the path, so here I go: Halloween is my least favorite holiday. Yup, I said it. And it’s true. I’m not sure if it’s because my mom dressed me up as a picnic table in 4th grade (ants, empty chip bags and all) or that my stomach turns upside down with the smallest splatter of fake blood, but my excitement for October 31st has definitely dwindled exponentially as each year passes.

But adding to my true apathy was the statistics of how much Americans spend on Halloween. Are you ready to be totally spooked?

Adults spend $1.2 billion dollars annually on their costumes. WHAT?! Now, I’m usually the first one to comment on a super creative costume or one that’s just totally off the wall, but let’s visit the Dollar Tree, a discount craft store, or better yet, our basements to create a masterpiece that’s sure to get heads turning at any party.

As far as the kiddies, of course their parents are shelling out the dough for their “dream” costumes. Whether your little girl wants to be Sofia the First or your son wants to be a Mutant Ninja Turtle (Donatello to be exact since he was my favorite,) it’s going to cost you. 

Now, let’s get ready for this stat: $1 billion is spent each year on… PETS’ costumes! That is so crazy to me. Sure, I’ve seen some great pet costumes, like my friend’s chihuahua turned shark. But this is just insanity.

It’s frustrating to know there are so many people hurting out there financially, yet this frivolous spending is happening on every leaf-covered, jack-o-lantern lit street in the nation. It’s most likely too late for you to curtail your purchase of those $50 glittery heels you HAD to have for this Halloween. But maybe next year, we can work on it. Here are some tips:

1) Before you decide what you want to be, come up with a budget. This will help you narrow down your costume choice. How much can you REALLY afford to spend? How much SHOULD you spend?

2) Once you have the dollar amount set in stone, start thinking about your options. Could you rent your costume? Make it? Buy all the elements at the local thrift store? Be sure to investigate all your options—and buying your costume at the closest party supply store probably isn’t your best option.

3) If you’re purchasing your costume, make a list of all the things you’ll need. Be sure to take inventory of what may be collecting dust in your closet or basement, and prepare that pair of shoes or crazy hat for its revival!

I know people LOVE Halloween. I mean, let’s face it, the numbers don’t lie. 

But being in debt and spending money you don’t have is a lot scarier than the creepiest costume you can find!

– Ambitioussoul

Quitters Never Say Die

Jon Acuff

It’s as simple as STARTing!

Huh? What? I know, I know. You’re thinking to yourself, “Quitters ALWAYS say die– This title definitely seems a bit oxy moronic. And I totally see where you’re coming from. But let me explain.

For those of you who are familiar with Jon Acuff, you know he’s the author of two best-selling career books, “Quitter” and “Start!” For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jon (and yes we’re on a first-name basis,) he was a self-proclaimed “quitter” who finally got what he called his “dream job” at The Lampo Group, Dave Ramsey’s company. Here is where he not only wrote his two books but also became one of Dave’s most well-known personalities, traveling around the country speaking with people stuck in their careers in desperate need to revive their dreams by just taking one step in any direction and simply starting.

Shockingly, a week after his excitedly organized and wildly publicized START! conference, I went to a site called No More Voices, a platform where Jon encouraged everyone to share their fears and gain a sense of community in knowing you’re not the ONLY one with self doubt or ridicule. You’re not the ONLY one who takes 20 minutes to talk yourself into something and then 2 seconds to talk yourself out of it. But when I arrived where the site used to be, a fear rushed over me that I had never even dreamed of: the site was gone.

A site that the Lampo Group hosted, it simply stated Jon had abruptly resigned, and the site was no longer available. I’m pretty sure I sat there for about 10 minutes in complete shock. My first thought was, “How could Jon leave his dream job? How could he leave ME?” Okay, that sounds a bit obsessive, but that thought truly entered my psyche, albeit a short stay.

I did what any normal human who has heard of the internet (or as my grandma calls it the world-wide web,) would do, and I immediately googled his resignation to try to get answers. Of course I only got extreme speculation. After marinating in the news for several days I thought to myself, “Isn’t Jon doing exactly what he talks about in his books? He’s literally living out the words he wrote in his books.” But this seems to be a double-edged sword. Because now that Jon’s words of having a “dream job” are etched in stone (or just printed on paperback, but details, details,) people are suddenly all over him about leaving Dave’s organization.

I am the first one to think Jon would be crazy to leave there, but who knows. Who knows what outside influences caused him to make the decision. Who knows what his head and heart were leading him to do.

My mom always says FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” And I’m sure Jon anticipated the speculation and judgement that would come with his decision. But he recognized the false evidence of all the rumors and decided to appear as real as he could, and do what was right for his family, his career and himself. And for that, I applaud you, Jon Acuff.

– Ambitioussoul

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Hometown Homage


David Muir: A Catalyst ‘Round the World

This past week I had the pleasure of hearing ABC’s 20/20 David Muir speak about his career as a journalist. As a Syracuse native, he explained when he had his internship at our local CBS affiliate station throughout high school and college, he would ride around in the news cruiser thinking, “Wow! I’m so lucky! I’m seeing the world!” All of us in the room chuckled, knowing how small our dear city is, both in acres and blocks as well as people and events. Fast forward 25 years and here he is, actually seeing the world. It’s this excitement and spontaneity that has propelled him through his career where he now shares an anchor desk with the revered Diane Sawyer. But he went on to say why his job means so much to him, and it truly struck a chord.

How to Save a Life

One of the major stories David has covered during his career was the famine in Somalia. It was the worst famine this generation has seen, and he was there for it all. He depicted a scene that some of us can only imagine in our most gruesome and terrifying nightmares. A scene where doctors tended to people hanging on to their last thread of life. A scene where children’s skin was hanging from their bones due to the lack of nutrition. These made-for-movies moments are ones that reporters tend to capitalize on, ones that we at home ask, “How dare they be so insensitive and so dehumanizing?” But for David, these are moments that make him think, “What can we as Americans do to help?”

In David’s mind, “What’s the point of reporting on something if you can’t create change?” And that’s just what he did in Somalia. While talking with a doctor who was tending to a child’s bedside, David reached down and picked up a packet filled with a powdery substance. When he inquired what it was for, the doctor responded with, “This one little packet, only costing $2, can save a child’s life.” The packet contained a special form of peanut butter, one that contained enough protein and other nutrients to bring a child back from the brink of despair, deterioration and ultimately death.

So much more than the cost of peanuts

With a sense of urgency, David sent out a plea to all Americans. He explained the necessity of these packets for the doctors who were doing their best work in Africa. And over the course of just a few hours, Americans had given more than $100,000 to the famine efforts, namely for a bountiful supply of peanut butter packets. As David ended his story, I realized that this is what change is all about—capitalizing on a moment or situation of extreme need, and giving people a reason to be charitable, a reason to be selfless and most importantly, a reason to be thankful.

The Challenge

I challenge you, as we begin the new season (I know, I know, it’s been autumn for almost a week, but who’s counting,) to start looking at situations through a different lens. Make those moments and those callings more like revolutions, where YOU are the catalyst; you are the source of good in all that is sad and negative in that seemingly tiny and intimate space. Instead of asking God why these children are starving, why these adults are suffering, ask what… what you can do, what you can give, what you can be. Be the change. Be the peanut butter.


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Hinges: not just hardware.

Hinge moments. I’ve always called them epiphanies, but “hinge moments” sounds like the next best marketing campaign. So I’ll go with that.

In Jon Acuff’s book Quitter, he talks about hinge moments. Those moments that while you’re in them seem as inconsequential as the color of my nail polish but when you stop to reflect,  you realize that one measly moment changed your paradigm and your path from there on out. You know those moments—when  the universe is pushing you in what seems like a natural, formidable direction, but every molecule of your being is resisting, and you’re not sure why. The resistance typically starts as a dull but nagging feeling deep inside your mind, but once the spark is ignited by this seemingly innocuous person, event or experience, you’re given all the evidence (or faith) you need to change direction. These moments can cause angst. They can cause agita (one of the only medical terms I know how to use in context.) But for me, hinge moments have come in two forms: a famous sportscaster and a drab apartment.

Here’s to you, Mr. Costas
It was my sophomore year of college. As the campus radio station’s News Director, I was flown to New York City to interview Bob Costas and a couple other broadcasting dignitaries at a prestigious media luncheon. When I finally got my marantz to cooperate and my heart beat to slow down, I made my way through the crowd to interview Mr. Costas (and yes, I was that formal with him. Come on, besides the multi-colored rings, this guy is the next best symbolism for the Olympics).

After I was done asking the formal and mundane questions and we posed for a photo together, he turned to me and said, “Have you ever thought about going to Syracuse University’s Newhouse School?” Ughhh noooo… the dreaded question. I had been dealing with this inquisition since I began looking at colleges my junior year of high school. I had been adamantly against going to SU since I could spell the world “college.” Sure I loved the Carrier Dome and Otto the Orange (lamest mascot ever,) but being from Syracuse, I was just… over it. I of course didn’t explain this deep disdain to him, but simply smiled and told him being from Syracuse was enough to keep me away. Being a Newhouse alum himself, he shrugged, urged me to apply and was on his way.

Before this encounter, it had NEVER crossed my mind to apply at SU. I didn’t want to move near home. I didn’t want to go to a school where I’d be just a number in an auditorium of about 3,000 students, trying to figure out what the difference between two beetle exoskeletons was (and yes, once I got there, I had to do that. And I was a broadcasting major. Go figure.)

It seemed easier to stay put. I had great friends, a great social life and loved my classes. But something made me submit the application paperwork. Something pushed me to see it through. Many months and an academic scholarship later, there I was… at SU… loving life and thanking Bob Costas for his priceless nudge.

The irony of it all: I didn’t end up being a broadcaster. I didn’t even end up in the industry. But being at SU got me on the right track to understand what I loved (writing) and what I hated (always having to look good while carrying around a 50-pound camera and tripod in snowbanks up to my eyeballs).I thought about switching my major to Public Relations and Marketing, but that meant I’d have to invest more time and money into an undergrad education. No thank you. So I stuck it out, hoping (and knowing deep down) that the practical knowledge I had gained at my 2 1/2-year internship would propel me through my career.

So why do I have Bob Costas to thank? Welp, he led me to Syracuse University, which led me to my internship. My internship turned into my first full-time job once I graduated. It was that job that introduced me to my husband. I thankfully got to reintroduce myself to Mr. Costas several years later with my husband at my side, and I explained to him how he had truly changed my life, all with a simple question.

Little did he know that simple question made me question my entire life. My entire path. The path that led me to where I am and who I am on this very day. And little does he know today, I’m labeling him as “Hinge #1.”

It Takes a Village

I was pretty much packed and ready to go. The big move was only 10 days away. I had rehabbed some end tables, saved money for furniture and already paid first and last month’s rent for our new apartment (notice I said “our”) in the village. But one night, something woke me up as abruptly as my 12-year-old sister yanking at my eye lids. Something made me sit straight up in bed and whisper to myself, “I can’t do this.”

It was the “our.” I was moving into an apartment with my boyfriend. The boyfriend who I had been with for 4 1/2 years but still didn’t trust. The boyfriend who I clung to all through college and justified our unhealthy relationship as a “growing experience.” WHAT?!

Since I already revealed the ending in my Bob Costas story, you all know I moved on and found the love of my life. But instead of moving to the village, instead of going through the motions of this relationship, I decided to end it. I decided to chalk up our 4 1/2 years together as a learning experience, being young and being dumb. No, it wasn’t easy. No, I didn’t feel good about it at the time. But I learned sometimes the hard things and the right things are the same. And I was destined for something else, and more importantly, someone else. Hinge moment #2.

Find Your Hinge
If you’re older than 5 years old, you’ve had a hinge moment. You’ve probably had many. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint them, but they’re there. They exist to be discovered, explored and appreciated.

Hinge away!


Bold. Daring. Audacious. Terrifying.

ImageIn my mind, you can’t have audacity with out fear. And yes, fear may only be manifested by the mind, but it’s as real as any other emotion. And when it visits, it’s raw—and it festers like no other. It just creeps in. Down to the bone. And sometimes, it never leaves. We may try to layer other emotions over it, ignore it, but eventually, most times, we surrender, without even a second thought or a gleam of acknowledgement.

That same fear is also what pushes you. It’s what brings success and a healthy confidence that’s virtually untouchable. All of a sudden those negative thoughts dissipate, and no one can stand in your way—no one.

So for these 24 days during the START experiment, I vow to be nothing but terrified—nothing but audacious.


What’s this START experiment all about? Check it out!

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