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Brittany

4 Actions to Take on Your Blog When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Blogging

Sometimes I spend 20 minutes staring at my WordPress post editor trying to think of something to write. Then, I get frustrated so I waste time on my personal Facebook timeline or looking around at things I’d never buy on Amazon. That’s even less helpful than staring at a blank page! I started telling myself that during my morning blogging time, if I couldn’t write, then I needed to find something else blog related to do. It has made a huge difference in my excitement about being here, and has helped me stay on track to write more consistently in this space. I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets writer’s block, so here are four things you can do for your blog when you don’t feel like writing.

4 things you can do on your blog when you don't feel like writing

Update Your Sidebar

Check out the links and the banners to make sure they still look right and fit your brand. I don’t look at my blog homepage very often. I go straight into the editor and I check and make sure posts published properly, but I don’t analyze the sidebars or check out the links. However, when I do, I’m reminded that it’s an important task to do every so often. If you have any affiliate banners, the company may have changed them so the colors don’t look right with your brand. You may have accidentally changed something and now some of the important links don’t work anymore. Or, it could be that you thought you had your social media links right, and it turns out you missed one. I’ve been to several blogs where I go to follow the person on instagram or twitter and it still says “your URL here.” They just missed that one!

You can also update your social media widgets. You’ll see to your right that I have a Pinterest widget, and at the bottom of the page, I have an Instagram widget. Instead of just a button to follow me, you can actually see the content I share and you’ll be able to make an immediate decision about whether or not it looks like an account you’d like to follow. The Pinterest widget is relatively new. One day when I had writer’s blog I started playing around with the widgets available, and the Pinterest one showed up. I didn’t even know it existed! Things change so frequently in the tech world that if you don’t check in and see what’s out there, you might be missing out on awesome side bar options that will really pull your whole site together!

There are a lot of resources about how to best layout your sidebar. Georgia Lou Studios (where I purchased this theme) has a series this year about updating your sidebar. There’s a ton of great information about the different widgets, including the menus, on your blog! I’ve applied several of their tips to WMSB already!

Create New Social Media Content

Your presence on social media is just as important as your blog. Your readers are a very important part of your blog and if you never talk to them on social media, they may not stick around for many more of your posts. Plus, it’s a lot less intimidating to write 140 characters about The Bachelor or a great sale online than it is to try to come up with 800-1,000 words, take photos and then edit photos on one particular topic.

Are you at a total loss on what to write about, or do you have a title all laid out but you just can’t find the right words? Hop onto your favorite social media network and start interacting with the Tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos that your followers are sharing.  By joining the conversation in their space, you’re showing the people who take the time to read your blog that they’re important to you, too.

4 things you can do on your blog when you don't feel like writing

Update the Graphics in Old Posts

Believe it or not, there was a time in the past when perfectly edited shots and pin-worthy graphics weren’t even a thing! If you’ve been blogging more than a couple of years, you may have some posts that need to be brought up to 2017 standards. At the same time, any blogger who has had even a couple of months of practice may have some older posts that don’t meet his or her current standards.

Take the cringe-worthy journey into your old posts and see if you can update any of the photos to be crisper shots. You don’t need to take all new photos, unless it’s necessary. Just find the original one on your hard drive, iPhone or camera and do some edits. Also, if you have any posts that don’t have at least one vertical image with writing on it, do that now. Vertical photos with the title or an enticing phrase on them do the best on Pinterest. When writer’s block kicks in, it’s a great time to try a new creative outlet, and photo editing just might be the key to break through!

Take a Course

Back in the fall I bought Ultimate Bundle’s Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. I now have ample trainings available to me until November. I also have a plethora of webinars and e-mail courses that I signed up for and never completed. A few weeks ago I hit a total road block when it came to writing, so instead I watched a whole training on Pinterest. The training actually wasn’t that helpful, but it motivated me to work on my Pinterest. Then, by working on my Pinterest, I was so inspired by the types of posts I could write to go deeper into the topics we talk about here, that the next day I started writing again. By directing my attention away from the blank text editor, and by learning and becoming reinvigorated about the different pieces of my blog, I was able to come back the next day, refreshed and ready to write.

You don’t have to pay for a course to learn something. A lot of bloggers who offer courses also offer free webinars or videos. You can also search YouTube for blogging or social media tips and tricks. For example, By Regina offers a plethora of free handbooks and webinars about blogging and monetization. Melyssa Griffin is a Pinterest genius (and probably a huge reason why that Pinterest course I took didn’t teach me anything new), and does free Pinterest webinars with some frequency. I often forget how much treasure is on YouTube (I usually stick to music videos since no one seems to show those on the actual TV anymore), like this video by What Olivia Did on How to Start a Blog and Blogging Tips which has over 30,000 views! I actually hadn’t heard of her until I was looking for a good YouTube example for this post and now I’m hooked! If you want to multitask by listening in the car or while on a walk or job, you can also check out a variety of Podcasts (here are 5 of my current faves). The options are endless, even on a budget, to learn about blogging!

Do you have writer’s block? Sit down somewhere calm and distraction free, and look for a new training today with no pressure other than learning and trying something new!

4 actions you can take on your blog when you don't feel like writing

What do you do when you’re feeling writer’s block? Does it help?

3 Easy Ways To Save Money on Food When You Love to Snack 

Debt Repayment, In the Kitchen

I am a huge snacker. I don’t eat a lot at each meal, but I eat several times throughout the day. For example, here’s my daily eating schedule:

I may or may not eat breakfast. If I do on a weekday, it’s usually something like Greek yogurt, a granola bar, or a pre-made breakfast burrito. However, if it’s the weekend, I may eat bacon or sausage, eggs, and toast.

3 ways to save money on food when you love to snack

Then, at about 10:00, I’m hungry again. I’ll either try to wait it out until lunch or I’ll have a snack.

At noon, I’m almost always ready to eat lunch! I often eat at noon exactly, unless there’s something else going on that prevents me from doing so.

At around 3:30, I usually eat another snack.

5:30 is dinner time. And then I don’t eat again until the next day. I snack a lot throughout the day, but I’m not a night-time snacker.

I also keep a close eye on my finances. So how do I save money at the grocery store when I like to snack all the time? I’ll tell you.

Re-Package it Yourself

My number one cost saving tip is that I buy full sized packages and break it down into smaller portions on my own. I do have a costco membership because I needed it to buy the matching flooring for my house, and sometimes I go in and get the giant Kirkland brand coffee tins. However, after that, I’m only feeding myself and don’t need food in bulk.

For me, repackaging food just means buying the regular or party size bag of chips, the standard size bag of granola, a regular bunch of grapes, or chopping up apples or strawberries. If I leave these things all in their regular packaging I either don’t eat them because it seems like a lot of work, or I eat them all in one sitting. For you, your purchases may be the same, or it may mean buying the large packages of a variety of foods at the bulk food store, and making smaller packages yourself for you and your family.

3 ways to save money on food when you love to snack

When I make my lunches, I love bringing salads. I’ve tried bringing the full ingredients for salad to work and making it there, but I just don’t do it. So I have learned to either buy the bagged lettuce when I’m super slammed, or to save money, buy romaine and chop it myself. Then I also chop up the toppings I like (usually carrots and bell peppers if they’re on sale) and put them into individual containers. This works as a different flavor to my lunch and keeps me from eating my snack during my lunch hour instead of around 3:30.

Buy What is On Sale

I’d love to always have chips for a snack, but aside from the fact that they’re not the healthiest choice, chips can be pretty pricey if they’re not on sale. If what I really want is full price, and the rest of the food I’m buying for dinners that week includes a lot of protein, I change my snacking plan. For example, this week, regular sized bags were full price for $4.28, but two party sized bags were $4.00. So I bought two party sized bags and I’ll break up the other bag of ruffles next week!

If the Kind Bars are on sale, I’ll get those, but if Nature Valley Peanut Butter Bars are cheaper, I get those. For granola bars, I just bring the entire box to work and leave them in my office. This keeps me from mindlessly eating them at home.

If I go through the produce section, and Honey Crisp apples are a good deal, I grab three of those (I know I won’t eat an apple all five days of the week) and bypass the chips.

On my favorite weeks, the homemade salsas are on sale and I pair that with a bag of Juanitas for the ultimate 3:00 stress food snack: Chips and Salsa. Yum!

It’s a lot easier for me to adjust my snacking options based on sales than my dinner plans. Be flexible in what you take to work each day so that you can save the most money while avoiding the hangry version of you that shows up in the middle of the day when you’re also sleepy and overworked!

3 ways to save money on food when you love to snack

Plan Ahead with your Schedule

I don’t always spend every day of the week in my office. This means that I don’t need a snack every morning/afternoon. If I’ve purchased produce, then I need to make sure that it’s not going to go bad, which is the biggest money waste of all! If I have something that’s non perishable and something that is perishable, I need to keep an eye on my changing schedule and make sure that if something changes later in the week, I eat the apple instead of the bag of chips.

I also keep certain, non-perishable items at my office. For example, I keep salad dressing in my office fridge, and croutons in my office. This way, it never matters if I run to the nearby grocery store’s salad bar (you’ll save money if you buy only the salad and add salad dressing at home/work because it will weigh way less!), I brought it myself, or salad toppings were all expensive and I only brought lettuce, I have the toppings ready to go. Figure out what you can keep at your work so that you don’t have to plan around it, and then spend a little bit of time on Sunday planning the logistics of how to bring the rest!

With these three habits, I am able to snack when I want to, and avoid being hangry around the office. Easy, peasy (and everyone around me is happier)! Do you have any other tips on how to save money on snack foods? What’s your favorite mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack?

The Top 5 Books I’ve Read this Year

Book Review

This year started with the conclusion of a bunch of HUGE assignments at work. On January 13th, J and I flew to San Diego and I was able to start decompressing from several months of complete overwhelm at work and some family things (you may remember that my great grandma was put into hospice in October. Thankfully, she is still with us, but it was scary and uncertain news.).

As part of my steps of self care, and with the added free time aboard plans, I began reading. Last year, my goal was to read 1 physical book and listen to 1 audio book per month. On a monthly basis, I barely and sometimes didn’t even come close to meeting that goal. Somehow, though, I read 5 books in the first month and a half of 2017! I’m currently reading two more, one non-fiction and one fiction, but you’ll have to wait to hear about those. I loved all five books I read. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the one for you based on the summaries below!

Fantastic Fiction, Non-Fiction and historical novels to read in 2017

Affiliate links are used in this post. This means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not cost you a penny extra and it helps keep WMSB running and gives my student loan snowball a little boost!

America’s First Daughter by: Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson and Marie Antoinette were alive and making history at the same time? I didn’t!

I picked out America’s First Daughter on a whim at the store when I was in the mood for a book but nothing in my (giant) stack of books at home stood out to me. America’s First Daughter is dual-written by a novelist and a historian. The two authors studied the letters of Jefferson (some 18,000!) and his family to research the book. This made me want to check out his letters and see how they compare. According to the authors, the story is pretty close to accurate, with blanks and personalities filled in as closely as they could get them based on what they knew from the letters and other historical documents.

America’s First Daughter tells the story of Patsy Jefferson. Patsy was the oldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. When her mother passed away at a young age, Patsy stepped in and cared for her father. The book follows Patsy’s entire life, including Jefferson’s work in France (where Marie Antionette comes in).

One aspect of this book that I really appreciated was that it made this election season seem less scary. I read the book in December-January, and finished it before inauguration day. Even back then, politicians spread nasty rumors about each other and members of the opposite political party feared that democracy and America would be destroyed when the opposing party came into office. Sound familiar? The fact that this has been our nation’s experience since birth made me feel a lot less catastrophic about our current situation.

I learned a ton of history, as well! By writing from the perspective of a child, teenage girl, young woman, middle aged woman, and then elderly woman, the authors were able to make history lessons feel like every day life. It was incredibly insightful! Another thing the book went into was Jefferson’s slave mistress. I heard about this briefly in school, but the book brings it to life. The reaction of others was so fascinating to me, and the times there were tension between Patsy and the girl were so sad. I would use her name but I don’t want to give it away if you don’t know the history before you start reading. It’s easy to forget that our political figures are also real people who have to make choices about their life and family.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. I am not at all a presidential history nerd and I loved it. Also, I’ve always watched to dress as Marie Antionette for Halloween, maybe this year I will!

Fantastic Fiction, Non-Fiction and historical novels to read in 2017

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

A friend strongly suggested that I read this book, but I was skeptical. I was a total Nicholas Sparks junkie in the past, but I gave him up in about 2011 when I read half of a book before realizing I had read it already. His story lines are all so similar, with similar locations and similar relationships between the protagonist and antagonists that it can eventually be hard to tell them apart. I stopped reading any of his books after that.

My friend assured me that See Me was different and that I’d like it. Right off the bat, it was already way longer than most of his books. It also started out on a suspenseful vibe. As it turns out, she was totally right. The book was super good and a much different feel than his other work. It did have your typical love story weaved in, but that’s good for any book so I still enjoyed it.

I liked this book so much that I lost sleep reading it. It was an easy read, which is so nice before bed, but it also means that once I’m into the story line, I have a hard time putting it down! I finished it in a matter of days, and it reminded me why I should read more. I really do feel more refreshed after a good book than mindlessly watching tv and scrolling around social media.

If you’re looking for an easy read, with a bit of suspense that isn’t too scary, a look at family dynamics and a good love story, you’ll enjoy See Me.

Work Your Wealth by: Mary Beth Storjohann

I learned about Work Your Wealth from the Her Money Matters podcast that I told you guys about recently. This book is an easy to follow guide about different money habits and choices. Each chapter has a check list at the end to truly “work your wealth” in a manner that is personal and wise for your needs.

In fact, after reading the chapter about retirement accounts, I was even more convicted about the fact that I don’t have my 401k set up at work. I have a pension that I pay into, and I have a separate IRA that I put a very small amount of money into each month, but I wasn’t taking advantage of the benefits a 401k provides both for matching purposes and for taxes. The next day, I received an annual wage increase at work, and figured that now was the best time to start contributing to make the lower take-home pay feel less painful. Thanks to the encouragement of some good friends, and then how easy Mary Beth made retirement accounts sound, I was able to go in and make a good choice for my future. This week I received my first post-401k decision paycheck. While it was less than I received before the increase, it wasn’t terrible. It feels funny to save when I have debt to pay, but I know that I can start reaping the benefits of compound interest like my student loan company did for several years at my expense!

Other chapters include information about budgeting, debt payoff, buying a house, life and disability insurance, and saving. I know that everyone recommends Total Money Makeover from Dave Ramsey, but I’ve never been able to get it from the library and I can’t bring myself to spend $20 on the book when I already implement so many of his suggestions. Plus, that book is HUGE! If you’re looking for a super easy to understand book that talks about more than just getting out of debt, I would strongly recommend Work Your Wealth. In fact, I’m thinking about including it in a blog giveway in the future, and sending it as a gift to a few people who, like me, are also learning more about their finances for the first time.

Fantastic Fiction, Non-Fiction and historical novels to read in 2017

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Now THIS is a classic Nicholas Sparks story, but with a bit of twist. The same friend who let me borrow See Me, also let me borrow The Choice. There’s a neighbor, a conflict, a back story that complicates things and then a crisis. It’s a great story but the end is an internal battle and there’s no hint on how the book will end. I really enjoyed it! It was also a quick read and I think I finished it in about a week. The end kept me up until 1:30 in the morning because I just had to finish it. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re looking for a good book on a cloudy spring day, definitely check out The Choice. (By the way, the hardcover version is only 25 cents on Amazon!)

The Choice was also made into a movie. I haven’t watched it all yet, but I did download it for free on Amazon Prime for either my flight to or my flight from DC. Some of the Nicholas Sparks movies are a bit cheesy, but they’re all still really good. So it was a good distraction on the plane after I ran out of One Tree Hill episodes and we were about 40 minutes from landing! I hope to finish it soon.

Those Who Save Us by: Jenna Blum

Those Who Save Us was a book club selection. It takes place in both 1990’s USA and Nazi Germany. The main characters are a mother and daughter, who were rescued in Germany and taken to the USA. The daughter is in her 40s or so, and curious about the childhood that her mother refuses to talk about.

One of the book club questions was if it was a mother-daughter story, a war story or a love story. We all agreed that it was a mother-daughter story. I came really close to finishing the book before book club, but still had about 100 pages left (it’s another long one, and kind of heavy at times). I read as much as I could that night, and then finished it the next night. The story was incredible. It really makes you think about what you would do in those circumstances.

I don’t know if publishing WWII fiction is more popular right now or if it’s just that my friends are reading more of it. I do know, however, that a lot of the books on the subject have been so insightful into what it must have been like to live in that time. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was in school we didn’t delve into the real lives of people in other countries. I learned about the supply shortages in America and the fact that women entered the factory work force because most of the men who could do those jobs were gone. But what about the life of the people in Germany who weren’t a part of the war? This book shed some light onto that.

Like I said, it can be heavy, so Those Who Save Us isn’t a book you’ll likely be able to start and finish in two days lounging on the couch. But it was so, so good. The characters are real and true to themselves, even as the book jumps back in time and then forward to current day. I am not sure if this author has written any other books, but if she has, I plan to check those out as well.

Fantastic Fiction, Non-Fiction and historical novels to read in 2017

I have read way more books than normal this year, and it’s been really nice! I hope I will continue to remember to make it a priority to read instead of watching reruns of HGTV shows on Netflix. What books have you read this year? Is there one you’d recommend to all of your friends? How about one you absolutely would not recommend?

Law School Student Loan Payoff Progress Report: Month 7 -$116,353

Debt Repayment

Tackling law school student loans, one month at a time. Month 7 Progress Report!

Month 7: -$116,353.

I didn’t expect to have extra money this month or make major progress on these loans, but I did! I’m so excited! I can’t believe it. I truly believe that tracking these numbers, and having to tell you guys about it, has made a massive difference. I have been really super tempted to buy the (affiliate link) lilac and rose gold fitbit. But as nice as it would feel, it would be even more exciting to see my bar loan go down that extra $190 (after tax). Plus, how could I tell you guys that I’m paying a 7.75% interest loan and also buying a $200 watch, even if you didn’t know I already own the older fitbit Charge HR model?!

Yay for accountability! :) 

Remember, calling this “Month 7” is a misnomer. This is year 5 & Month 7 of payoff. And guess what? For the first 5 years of my student loan payoff I paid NONE of the principal balance on the Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans, which makes up almost all of that balance. The remainder is my private bar exam loan.

The great news is that now that I’m credit card and car debt free, I can take this debt by the horns and show it who’s boss! This is a simplified report with just the most updated information. If you want more detailed information, check out November’s payoff report.

Extra Income This Month

Amazon Affiliate: $13.21

Sponsored Posts: $60.00

Expected/Unexpected Reimbursements: Tax Return $825.00

Where My Payments Went

In previous posts I put in parentheses when something was a snowball payment. One of my friends who is also a lawyer, pointed out that people may not know what “snowball” means. That did not even occur to me because I have been using the snowball method for two years now. I am changing the designations from snowball payments to where they came from in my budget so that it’s more clear.

I was really worried I would owe taxes because last year I made more money on my blog than the year before, and I had renters in my house. As it turned out, I still got almost $900! I put $825 immediately toward my bar exam loan.

Bar Exam Loan: $825 (Taxes) + $400 (Paycheck #2) + $530 (Paycheck #1) = $1,755.00

Unsubsidized Loan: $236.00 (minimum) = $236.00

Subsidized Loan: $604.58 (minimum) = $604.58

Extra Blogging Expenses: $0

Discover Card at 0% Interest from Bathroom Remodel: $100.00

Total Payments: $2,695.58

I also set up my 401k contributions this month. It feels a little weird to be saving more money when I’m so close to paying off debt, but I know I needed to do it now instead of later. Future me will be thankful to be debt free and also able to retire, even though it might take a little longer for the debt free part so that I can benefit from some of that compounding interest that the government has been getting from me for years now.

Oh yea, and I bought these suitcases, which were definitely a need not a want with my goal to fly 10 times this year, but they’re also SO STINKIN’ CUTE!!!

A post shared by Brittany (@brittany_wmsb) on

Current Law School Student Loans Balances

If I hadn’t made a chart for these loans, I wouldn’t feel like I’d done much at all. Even though I’d see how low the bar exam loan balance was becoming, I wouldn’t feel like I was making overall progress. It’s easy to see how HUGE my federal loans are, and not recognize the fact that every dollar of reduction makes a big difference.

The snowball method works exactly like Dave Ramsey said it would. Look at those payments growing!! I know the payment difference won’t be as exciting when I’m paying off the bigger loans and dealing with a lot of accrued interest, but hopefully this feeling of excitement will continue!

Tackling law school student loans, one month at a time. Month 7 Progress Report!

The interest rates on these loans are what make my payments look almost meaningless on the subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Bar Exam Student Loan: 7.75% Interest – Went up .25% in December

Subsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $5.71 Per Day

Unsubsidized Student Loan: 7.125% Interest, Accruing $14.63 Per Day

I am thinking about refinancing them. It feels risky because refinancing to a private company doesn’t come with the same protections as the federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. Have any of you tried it? I’ve heard amazing things about a couple of companies, but haven’t gotten official quotes from any company because I still haven’t decided whether it’s the right choice for me. I’d love to hear more people’s insights on their experiences.

Tackling law school student loans, one month at a time. Month 7 Progress Report!

What is a Bar Exam Loan?

The bar exam loan was to pay for the cost of BarBri, the only bar exam preparation course in Nevada in 2010 (roughly $4,000), the video iPod I had to buy to take my classes remotely because I took a clerkship in the middle of nowhere and back then there wasn’t reliable online streaming (roughly $200 I think?), the cost of applying for the bar exam (roughly $1,000), the cost of moving to a different state in the middle of nowhere (roughly $1,000), my apartment deposit and first month’s rent (roughly $1,200), oh and my two best law school friends got married during bar prep/the week after the bar exam and I flew to both their weddings/stayed in hotels/etc (roughly $800 – totally worth it), and then the cost of living for 2.5 months while I studied for the exam.

I worked part time while I took the bar exam. I don’t recommend this, but remember, the economy sucked and I had to take the job I was offered. That job required me to start three days after graduation. At the end of the exam period, I had a little bit of money left over, and I used it to pay a super high interest rate credit card I’d gotten to buy furniture in my 1L year.

Tackling law school student loans, one month at a time. Month 7 Progress Report!

I want to see a zero dollar balance so badly!!!!!! I don’t even know how I’ll feel to not have this loan anymore. To have conquered a student loan, not just the tiny $500 summer school one I decided to pay off rather than consolidate right after graduation, it will be the first time I’ve declared victory over the cost of law school! I think I’ll have to celebrate somehow, but I don’t know how. Any ideas?!

My Debt Repayment Goals

1) Pay off my car.

2) Pay off my credit cards.

3) Pay off the Bar Exam Student Loan.

I’m sticking with the snowball method, to pay off my loans.

4) Re-evaluate my savings and retirement plan.

I already had a phone call with my financial planner about my plans and have started doing the math on how to increase my retirement contributions without harming my ability to live my life now and still pay off debt.

5) Tackle the accrued interest from my income based repayment plan.

Because I have been on an income based repayment plan, without making a ton of income, my monthly payments did not cover all of the interest on my student loans. I cannot make principal payments on the loans until I pay the accrued interest. The balance of the accrued interest is incorporated in the balances you see above. Once I start tackling this goal, I’ll list out the accrued interest separately.

6) Attack those Federal Student Loans!!

I’m coming for you, law school student loans!

Thanks for coming alongside me during this journey. I’ve loved hearing your stories too. You can leave it in the comments, or tell me about it on Facebook or Twitter!

Common Questions:

I’ve written a few posts about finances and being a lawyer already. Here are the links if you’re interested:

24 Hours in Portland

Adventures, Anxiety, Law School

Two weeks ago I took a practice flight to Portland to help overcome my anxiety. I’ve written a post about how the flights there and back to Seattle went. However, it’s one of those super-vulnerable, heavy posts and I just don’t feel ready to publish it yet.

The long story short is that I cried in the airport because I was scared I couldn’t fly alone, since the last time I flew alone was almost exactly two years prior. The gate agent helped me by walking me down, introducing me to the pilots and flight attendants, and as a team they gently encouraged and distracted me until I was in my seat and we were taking off. Half-way through their pep talks I took half of a Xanax. I was very impressed with their ability to convince me that it was all OK and their kindness to speak to a 31 year old grown ass woman as she cried like a little kid. Once take-off was over, I was calm.

The way back to Seattle was significantly smoother. I had to breathe through the waiting and the take-off, but I didn’t cry and didn’t doubt that I could do it. Once we were in the air, the feelings of anxiety left, even though I hadn’t taken anything. I’ve noticed that seems to be the case. While I check in with how I’m feeling throughout a flight, the symptoms of anxiety and panic dissipate as soon as the plane is done with takeoff and moving in the right general direction. That’s been true on the flights where I’ve needed medication, and the flights where I’ve felt OK, then didn’t feel OK, and had to manage my breathing and thoughts. On the flights where I’ve been fine through the whole process, the remainder of the flight has likewise been fine.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

The purpose of this experiment/resolution/goal was to re-build my confidence. I hope I’m getting there because in March I’ve been told I have to go to DC for work. I had hoped to have a layover in the middle, but no such luck. I’m currently pep-talking myself that I can do it, it will be great, and I WILL take the medication no matter what. I am too hard on myself. I would never tell a friend to try it out and just see how she does, especially on a longer flight. Luckily, I won’t be going there alone so I also have some safe people who can give me pep-talks if I need an outside perspective. Also, I would be significantly more stressed out than I am right now if it weren’t for my practice flight to Portland.

The best thing about the practice flight is that I was going to a city where one of my best friends from law school lives with her awesome husband! Plus, Portland is just an awesome city with great culture, food and things to do!

I booked a hotel room using RocketMiles (affiliate link). I had never heard of it, but they partner with Alaska Airlines, and there was a 2,000 mile bonus if you booked your first hotel within 30 days of creating an account. I stayed at the Aloft Hotel at Cascade Station for a great price of $109/night and earned 3,000 flight miles!

The hotel was SUPER COOL. I’m a big fan of hip hotels and even more of a sucker for hip hotel bars. The Aloft is perfect for that vibe. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to my room on Saturday night, I was too tired to check out the bar. But in the morning, I hung out in their lobby and loooved it!

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

I arrived at about 11 AM with a 3 PM check-in. I figured I’d ask if they had a room available, and if not, ask them to store my bag. But to my surprise, a room was ready. I was so stoked to be able to lay down for a few minutes and then freshen up before heading out to the city.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

From the Aloft, I took a car-share ride to Powell’s Books. It was $18. I had an awesome conversation with the driver about how the Checks & Balances system of the US works. This was pretty soon after the Executive Order on immigration was issued, and questions were on a lot of people’s minds. It was neat to be able to help someone understand the Court’s role in the constitution.

I arrived at Powell’s around 11:45 and I was starving. At first, I started to check my Yelp app, but then I figure I’d just walk around. After a few minutes of peeking down the nearby streets, Slice caught my eye. I looked up it’s rating on Yelp and it had great reviews. If you go one door down from the main entrance, there’s a bar where you can order pizza and an adult beverage. I stopped in there, ordered a slice of pizza and a cider at the bar, and grabbed a seat by the window. I saw a couple eating their slices and they were big, so I only ordered one. I regretted it after I was done because it was delicious and I was a lot hungrier than I’d realized.

While I waited, I worked on writing some of the letters in my four year plan. I sent out a handful of post cards from my Lara Casey Faith & Encouragement set. This one, I sent to Secretary Clinton.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

After I finished lunch, I addressed the post cards, put them back in my purse, and headed to Powell’s. I had one book on my list (these are affiliate links): Glass Castle for my book club. Despite buying it in advance, I had the wrong date in my head for my book club meeting and won’t finish it in time. I thought it was next week, but it’s this week. Oops! I plan to still read it though, because I really enjoy this author’s writing. I also bought this Bad Girls Throughout History book, and these Oh Shit sticky notes, which just cracked me up and were like $3.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

I had dinner plans with one of my best friends from law school and her husband, also a dear friend of mine, but those were still several hours away. So I checked out the Buffalo Exchange (no luck), and popped into a coffee shop. This coffee shop had an ultra-hipster vibe, one of those, “we don’t serve white chocolate” kind of places. There were no espresso machines that I could see. There were no menus on the wall. It was a little disorganized behind the counter. The tables were small, and the bar was long. I wanted to take a photo of the cafe and behind the bar, but there was no discrete way to do so. A lot of people were hanging out both inside and outside of the shop, drinking coffee and socializing so I figured it would be a good place to stop in.

The vibe was awesome. The coffee was terrible.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

Luckily, it still had caffeine in it, and it gave me the boost of energy I needed when my friends picked me up. We hung out at their house for awhile, which I just love because it’s decorated perfectly and has awesome character. Then we went to a place called Wayfinder Beer to get apps before our dinner reservations. Wayfinder looked like the PERFECT place to hang out during the summer. The weather was really nice, especially given the snopocalypse winter Portland has had, so a lot of people were eating and drinking on their huge outdoor patio. We sat inside and there was tons of seating with wide open windows. This sun-deprived Seattle girl was in heaven.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

Wayfinder is even kid friendly, which surprised me given the awesome atmosphere. A lot of places around me like that are definitely not kid friendly, which means that some of my friends with small children can’t come hang out. We ended up having so much fun, that we cancelled our dinner reservations and just ate the apps we selected and ordered another round of drinks.

After Wayfinder, we headed to a bar called Paydirt. Paydirt is in a space that’s shared with a couple of other restaurants and bars called The Zipper. You can stay in the bar, or go to the common eating area. This seemed like the perfect place to go if your friends are craving different types of food. You can even bring your alcohol into the common eating/drinking area! They had long tables, so all you had to do was pick your perfect spot and relax!  It was so fun getting to spend quality time with my friends that I haven’t seen in wayyyy too long, especially considering the fact that I can drive to Portland in about 2 1/2 hours. The discomfort on the flight was totally worth it, and I was so glad that I got on the plane.

We shared a car back to their house, and then I took one to my hotel. Like I said above, I planned to have a drink in the hotel bar, but by the time I got home it was about 10:30 and I was exhausted from being up since 6 AM. I promptly fell asleep with the TV on in the super comfortable bed. I read a review on Travelocity from a guest there who said they were charged for watching TV. I don’t know what channel they were watching… but I was definitely not charged. If you have a movie on your computer you want to watch instead, they had a box to plug in an electronic device and watch it on the huge TV! That was so cool! I didn’t use it, but it seemed like something that would totally come in handy if I was staying for more than one night or had started a movie on the plane and wanted to finish it.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

The beds even had multiple outlets by them which was perfect for charging my phone!

My flight left at 1:30 the next day so I was hoping to sleep in, but no luck. I woke up around 7:30 and got ready. The shower and bathroom were really nice. Of course, they weren’t luxury marble or anything, but the tile was pretty and both were very spacious. I loved the way it all flowed together. The coffee was on a shelf with a built in closet. I loved the way it was laid out. At first glance, you didn’t even notice it was a closet. I am constantly amazed at how designers can make even the smallest spaces look large and functional lately. If only my closet at home was the same way!

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

The room had both a refrigerator and a microwave. If you’re trying to save money while traveling, or have leftovers from an incredible meal, you know how awesome this is! Because I was there for only about 24 hours, I didn’t make use of these amenities, but I wish every hotel room had them! I was hungry for breakfast and had some blogging to do, so I took my iPad downstairs. They have a really cool make-your-own breakfast thing. You can fill it out on a sheet of paper, or just tell the person at the front desk. There are options on what you want the breakfast to come in (bread, tortilla, etc), what you want inside, and then there are a ton of different sauces that are free with it. I turned in my order, sat down in the lobby and people watched while I wrote and waited. The wrap came out and it was SO GOOD! Also, while I was waiting, a couple walked by with a full sized bird in a huge cage. Um, what? These are the things you can only experience if you leave your hotel room and hang out in the lobby!

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

There was even a pool, but no hot tub, so it wasn’t worth changing into my bathing suit.

I got an entire post written while I relaxed downstairs, before I went back up to pack and get ready. The 11 AM checkout was perfect for my flight home. I went downstairs and expected a long wait for the FREE airport shuttle, but there wasn’t one! The driver was right there and she was so nice! The ride to the airport was only a few minutes, and before I knew it, I was back on that famous green carpet, ready to head home.

24 Hours in Portland, Oregon; Things to do on a short trip to PDX

Even though I was nervous to get there, and originally glad it was for only one night because I was so worn out from work and other travel, I was really bummed to be leaving already! I love the city of Portland! It has so much culture, the best people watching, and incredible food. Plus, there’s really something special about getting to spend time with some of your best friends. Law school was hell on earth. I hated almost every day of it for three years straight. But you create bonds with people in that situation that you wouldn’t have anywhere else. My friends from there know me at my absolute worst, because I truly believe law school (and I’d guess other high intensity programs like med school, etc) bring out the worst of your character, but we all stood by each other and held each other up. How fitting was it, then, that my friend I ran into in the airport and encouraged me to get on the plane was also a gal from law school. At the end of this post, I’m just now seeing a theme. :)

I posted a photo on instagram last night talking about this in a little more detail. I’m flying again soon for work. It’s not a 46 minute flight and it’s not a 24 hour trip. I’m nervous. But I’m also excited for the opportunity for additional professional growth and seeing an amazing city. We can overcome fear.

A post shared by Brittany (@brittany_wmsb) on

Today I have two questions for you:  

What is your favorite city to visit? 

What is the fear you’re going to conquer in 2017?

5 iPhone Apps I Use Every Day (That Aren’t Social Media)

How-To

One thing I’ve started working on lately is reducing my social media consumption. Some platforms are OK, but others have gotten to be so overwhelming or negative that I’ve had to start stepping away. I have a tendency to get sucked into a feed, and before I know it, an hour has gone by, or I’ve been awake for 40 minutes and I’m still under the covers, having accomplished nothing.

As it turns out, there are a lot of other awesome things our phones can do besides scroll Facebook and Twitter! Today I wanted to share the 5 iPhone Apps that I use every day, that aren’t social media.

5 iPhone Apps I Use Every Day that Aren't Social Media: Take a break from facebook and twitter with these apps.

Calm

website // app store

I’m new to meditating. I began using Calm as part of my Miracle Morning routine, rather than sitting in unguided silence. I was hoping that actual meditation would help relieve some of my generalized anxiety and make flying easier. This app has made mediating much less intimidating! I’m still able to make use of the free sessions for now. I’m going to try Headspace as well before I make a decision whether or not to sign up for premium. But so far, I’m loving Calm!

Township

website // app store

OK. This is a little embarrassing. But around the fall I was super stressed at work and in my personal life. One day, I searched the app store for highly reviewed games and downloaded like five of them. Most were duds. However, Township tells me that I’ve opened it every single day for over 100 days. That’s ridiculous. But the game is SO FUN!

It’s like a combination of Farmville and Sim City Build It. You have a town with farms, houses, grocery stores and livestock. There are several different challenges to meet each week, and there’s a social aspect if you join a “co-op.” I don’t think I’ve ever played a mobile game for as long as I’ve played Township! If you’re looking for a silly game to distract you for a few minutes, check it out.

Podcasts

already on your phone

I’ve been a Podcast fanatic for a few years now. I wrote earlier this week about the top five new to me podcasts that I think you’ll love! I’ve been thinking about switching to a different app to listen to them. The apple app doesn’t do playlists well. You can add episodes to “up next,” but I’ve noticed that it doesn’t reliably remember the order. Every so often I google tips on which apps are best for Podcasts, but I’ve yet to bite the bullet and make the switch.

Do you have any suggestions? For now, I’ll stick with the app that comes with all of our iPhones to feed my podcast addiction!

Spotify

website // app store

I listen to Spotify basically all day at work, unless someone comes in and has questions or wants to discuss something. J bought me an awesome speaker for my desk for Christmas, which has made listening to music at work even better! I love that you can play your own playlists, listen to a genre’s radio, a radio based on a certain artist, and even a radio based on a certain song. Because I have the paid version, I can also download music to listen to when I’m offline, like if we’re camping or on a plane.

Mint

website // app store

I keep track of almost everything in Mint. It’s where I go to make sure that I’m not overspending in my checking account, all of my bills are paid and watch for my snowball payments to clear. It’s also the only way I check on my IRAs. I get the statements in the mail, but I don’t look too closely at them. Mint tells me with the click of a button how they have gone up or down overnight! It’s addicting to watch and I feel so much more in line with my goals when I can see my net income right at the top of the screen. It’s easy to decide I don’t need to buy a new car when I see the positive value of my current car, and the negative value of my student loans all at the same time!

I know there are some other financial apps out there, but Mint has been so seamless that I couldn’t imagine using anything else!

5 iPhone Apps I Use Every Day that Aren't Social Media: Take a break from facebook and twitter with these apps.

What are your top non-social-media apps?? Why do you like them so much?

5 New to Me Podcasts that I Think You Will Love!

Blogging, Debt Repayment, Fitness

I’m a huge music fan, and listen to it basically all day long at work. I pay for the Spotify Premium plan so that I don’t have to hear the commercials. (They sucked me in with one of those “three months for only 99 cents” promos and I’ve never been able to go back!) But when I’m in the car, going for a run, or sometimes even when I’m cleaning my house, I listen to podcasts.

In April 2015, I told you guys about my four favorite podcasts for working out and commuting. The top two podcasts on that list, Listen Money Matters and Around the Table are still my two absolute favorites and I listen to them all the time. I still like Joyce Meyer’s and the Ted Talks’ podcasts, but they update so frequently that it overwhelms me. I had to unsubscribe from both of them.

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I shared my favorite podcasts with you guys! So today seemed like a great day for that.

5 Podcasts I think You will Love - Perfect for bloggers, debt repayment and making your commute and run go by faster!

Being Boss

site // subscribe with iTunes // Facebook group

I can’t believe I’ve never told you guys about Being Boss! I’ve been subscribed to this Podcast for over a year. I love it! It was the first “boss” titled business I’ve come across. I don’t sign up for new things called “boss [anything],” because I’m so sick of it. But Emily and Kathleen are true Bosses, who are out to build everyone else up, too. Being Boss has an eclectic set of topics and guests. I listened to one of my favorite episodes last summer. It was about roles and communication with your business partner. If you’ve ever considered going into business with a friend or colleague, or you’re in a partnership now, check out that episode.

My favorite part about Being Boss is that episodes aren’t only about the technical aspects of certain types of businesses. Episodes discuss blogging, but also being a soloprenuer, an artist, a freelance writer, a business coach, and then also the heart-stuff. You’ll find really helpful episodes about getting through negative feedback, avoiding burnout, and a recent one that I loved, called F*ck Fear.

If you’re looking for guidance and two new friends, Being Boss is for you.

ProBlogger Podcast

site // subscribe with iTunes // Facebook group

I was really late to the ProBlogger train. I know he’s been blogging for roughly the same amount of time as I have, and he was making money well before most people did. But for some reason, I never got on board with his 30 Days to a Better blog e-book or other challenges. I regret that now!

Thankfully, on sort of a dare when someone asked what he wanted to do that year and he finally vocalized that he wanted to start a Podcast, he began recording episodes! I LOVE this Podcast. I listen to almost every single episode. Darren does a fantastic job giving the basics, but also sharing professional level tips that I had not considered trying myself. The only problem is that I listen to his episodes in the car a lot, and I can’t get to my computer and immediately start blogging! One episode I really liked was called 5 Tips from Full Time Bloggers, which was based on research from a survey Darren had done with professional bloggers.

If you’re ever in a rut, turn to the ProBlogger Podcast and soak it all up. You’ll be ready to start writing or making technical updates to your blog IMMEDIATELY.

Her Money Matters

site // subscribe with iTunes // Facebook group

Jen Hemphill is a money coach who talks about the real life impact our money mindset has on our life. She interviews incredibly inspiring experts and people with experience in tough money situations, but also shares episodes where it’s just her, discussing her real-life money goals, plans and pain points. Her Money Matters is the only Podcast that inspired me to go buy a book written by one of the guests. The Work Your Way to Wealth episode was chock full of useful information that I could understand even though I’m not a financial planner and I’ve made money mistakes.

The down-to-earth approach of this podcast makes it really easy to listen to and walk away feeling motivated to keep my financial goals. If you’re in need of a judgment free girlfriend to keep you on track with your short term and long term financial goals, subscribe to HMM now!

(As far as I know, Her Money Matters and Listen Money Matters are not affiliated in any way.)

Blog Fuel

site // subscribe with iTunes

There is so much wisdom and real life knowledge behind each episode of Blog Fuel that I feel like I’ve learned a ton every single time I listen. Kirsten and her guests can be pretty opinionated, and I don’t always agree with their hard stance on certain things, but I LOVE this podcast. More often than not, I’m thinking, “amen, sister!” while I’m driving along! I think it’s fantastic that no one holds back because you know you’re getting the honest truth about what she and her guests think about the world of blogging right now.

There was an episode recently about knowing whether or not to take a blog course and OMG you guys… it was fantastic. It was especially in my mind this weekend when I was going through the courses in the Genius Blogging Toolkit. That bundle was $97 and I’ve finished a couple of courses that made it totally worth the $97. This weekend, however, I took one of the ones that allegedly retails for $147. It hit several of the marks toward “don’t buy this course” that they discussed. It was about two years old (decades in blog years!) but hadn’t been updated; was full of information you could get for free anywhere; didn’t say it was a beginner course, but it absolutely was; each video was only about 5 minutes long; and outside of those videos, it had no new information, hand outs, guides or resources, except for an excel schedule on how they handled a certain part of their editorial calendar. It was basically just regurgitated information that you could find with a super simple google search. And people were paying nearly $150 for it?!

That Blog Fuel episode alone would have helped me make the determination that it was not the course for me. Because I already owned the course, I didn’t do much research into it. Afterward, I felt like I wasted an hour of my life (that’s how long it took for me to start and finish the course because nothing was new to me). There are other awesome episodes like myths that are going around, networking before blog conferences, and the truth bomb that: You are not Beyonce.

If you’re a new or experienced blogger, seriously check out the Blog Fuel Podcast.

Women Taking the Lead

site // subscribe with iTunes

The Women Taking the Lead Podcast with Jodi Flynn is very new to me. She was a Podcast Guest on Her Money Matters and I found her methods to beat FOMO super inspiring. I subscribed to her podcast right away. I’m so new to it that I don’t have any favorite episodes yet, but I’m sure I will!

If you’re into inspiring stories about women conquering life as a single gal, married woman, mom, business owner, side hustler or just all around extraordinary human, check out her podcast. You won’t be disappointed!

Do you subscribe to any of these podcasts already? Do you have any suggested alternatives for me to check out?!

5 Podcasts I think You will Love - Perfect for bloggers, debt repayment and making your commute and run go by faster!