February Followup

Hey, it’s me again… yep I’m still here despite not having made a post since October! There has been so much going on as we transitioned from 2019 into 2020 that I’ve barely had time to take it all in myself let alone share any of the stories with you! 

However, now’s my chance to bring all my thoughts from these past few months to life and share them with you. This year, I’ll be approaching things a little differently with the blog. I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I really can’t do everything and that means picking and choosing what I spend my time focusing on. There are so many experiences and opportunities both past and present that I can’t wait to share, but as my goals continue to change the blog posts might change a little bit with it. 

To put all these thoughts in perspective here’s a look at what kept me busy this past year and a preview of what’s in store for 2020! 

Goal setting has never been more important to me than it is now.

One thing is for sure, goal setting has never been more important to me than it is now. Writing things down somehow gives me comfort in the fact that I have things I’m working towards as well as holds me accountable to make sure I actually get things done. It’s the most rewarding feeling to look back on a year and all the highs, low points you overcame, and accomplishments you’ve made this past year. 

If you haven’t had the chance to do any formal goal setting yet–there’s plenty of time. If you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend you check out my post about goal setting February Fresh and read about Hilary Rushford’s Elegant Excellence to get your mind thinking about both the big and little things you’re wanting to accomplish! 

Looking back on my list of goals for 2019, although not every goal was accomplished it’s important to realize just how much progress was made. I’ve made an effort to stop referring to my goals as a “plan” and have tried even harder to refrain from “planning” too much of my life out in general.  

Goals change, shift, and evolve throughout the year. Things may come up and get in the way or change your perspective.  It’s always important to look at your list as guidelines and ideas rather than super strict parameters.

Be realistic but also don’t be afraid to think big! When making a list you need goals that are easily attainable if you dedicate the time to them and some goals that will challenge you and push your comport zone. For instance 2018 was a huge year for me with a lot of major life changes and decisions, so my focus for 2019 was about more interpersonal goals and about maintaining a healthy lifestyle in LA. 

My favorite planning supplies: Erin Condren Planner, Moleskin Journal, Papermate Felt tip Pens, and Sharpie Pens!

Here’s a brief overview of the goals and results from this past year:

  • Run a 5k: Checked this one off in April when a friend asked me to run one with her! Signing up and paying is a great way to hold yourself accountable. 
  • Book 5 Freelance Clients/projects: This past year I was fortunate to work with some amazing new clients and well exceeded 5 projects! One in particular certainly stands out and I hope to soon share the story of The Strength Shop with you all!
  • Pay off at least ½ of my student loans: After attending a networking/speaker event…. They convinced me this is not something to put off, so I ripped off the Band-Aid and took care of it all at once! No more student loans!
  • Read a book: Easy to do when your friends start a book club…and here we are 6.5 books later.
  • Visit home at least 3 times: Done, but I wish it could be even more!

Now for the goals that have yet to be accomplished….

The goals you don’t accomplish are just as important as the ones you did! It’s crucial to take a look at this list and realize and reflect on “why didn’t this one happen?” Then try and figure out if it’s still one that’s important to you and worth continuing to pursue.

  • Create a successful morning/evening routine: While progress was made at times, it’s not super quantifiable and hard to really say. It is still in need of some work. 
  • Try something new/learn a new skill: I tried LOTS of new things that would satisfy this goal, but they weren’t necessarily the activities that came to mind when I wrote the goal down. I needed to be more specific. 
  • Launch a creative Passion Project: I spent a lot of time thinking about this one and looking for something that I was actually passionate enough to put the work into…

When I actually figured it out, I was too scared to actually move forward with it. 

Well no more, you heard it here first–this year my main goal is to drive that passion project forward and not let fears and uncertainties keep me from going for it!

Do you have something on your list of goals for the year that you really want but you’re afraid to make it happen? Maybe it’s changing jobs or starting your own business? Maybe it’s moving somewhere new or maybe it’s wanting to try a new exercise class…. Whatever the situation may be… We’ve all been there. Part of why I love Hilary’s goal setting process so much is because the thought process you consistently going through always ends up at the same place, “just start.” 

Starting is the hardest thing! No matter what the goal is, finding the courage to start it and go for it is the biggest roadblock you face but once that part is over, imagine all the amazing things that can follow. I’ve had this realization before but yet it still held me back this past year. I now know the outcome I’m looking for more clearly and I know I’m capable of making it happen so there’s no more excuses. 

So, for me my major goal for 2020 is getting my Passion Project off the ground and turning it into a business. I plan to share information about this passion project every step of the way as well as progress as it relates to other goals with hopes to not only hold me accountable but keep you on track to exceed your goals this year as well! 

The rest of my goals this year have been divided up into categories: personal, health, relationships, hobbies, and career! Some specifics that stand out include: 

  • Analyzing and fine tuning my financial budget 
  • Move to a new apartment
  • Focus more on my breathing
  • Cook a new healthy recipe once a month
  • Maintain working out at least 3 times a week
  • Continue Personal Dates at least once a month
  • Play more games (board games/card games) 
  • Travel to 3 New Places (city/state/country)
  • Read 10 Books
  • Actually take a lunch break at work by sitting with coworkers or going for a walk
  • Write at least 12 new blog posts for Day of Jae

Having a list of your goals is only the first step. Make sure you keep the list handy and accessible. Check back in with it multiple times! Don’t be afraid to change, rewrite, or add to the list. You’re the only thing holding you back from making any of these things a reality. Commit to the ones that matter and go after it! 

For three years I’ve been doing this, following the same process and every time when thinking about the biggest goal on my mind, and someone asks, “What’s holding you back?” my answer has always been… “not starting.” Trust me–start now and thank yourself immensely next February.

Party Planning

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Party Planning has always been one of my favorite hobbies and I seem to have a knack for it. I love everything that goes into the process of planning a big event from deciding the theme to organizing even the smallest of details. Party planning really plays well with my OCD. I like to have some control, think out of the box, organize things, make decorations, but most importantly create an experience and memories for others!

“There’s nothing that makes me happier than a social event that brings people together.”

Needless to say, that when one of my greatest friends asked me to plan her bachelorette party, I was beyond excited and ready for the challenge.  It was going to be a new experience for me having never been to a bachelorette party let alone never having planned one.  It’s also the first event I’ve ever planned remotely here’s how I got started…

Party Planning for Bachelorette Babes

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1.) Research

The first step of planning a Bachelorette party (or any party really) is doing your research. I made sure to ask the bride-to-be all about what she’s interested in and how she’d like to celebrate. It’s really important when planning a Bachelorette party to keep the bride’s personality in mind. You want to plan an event where everyone will have a great time but also be comfortable with one another (not everyone is excited about having a male stripper show up to their home, and I don’t blame them…)

Although it can be awkward, it’s important to have a conversation about budget and realistically what you can contribute as well as the bride (and in some cases, what you’re asking of the attendees.) They’re your close friends, they’re going to understand one way or another! Making sure all of that is transparent from the beginning will make the rest of the process go a lot smoother.

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2.) Location

Picking out a location can be a fun and exciting trip. While it may be tempting to road-trip it to Nashville or book a flight to Vegas, keep in mind that that can be a pretty big ask of people and a pretty expensive weekend.  A mini-weekend getaway or even an overnight somewhere nearby can be a great compromise.

For Rachel’s party, she knew she wanted to have it in Des Moines. It’s where she lives and is the city she loves. It’s also pretty centrally located for all of the friends and family she was planning to invite. BUT also, it was realistic for everyone’s time and budgets!

Knowing the party was going to be in Des Moines, we also had more resources available to us and most of the guests were somewhat familiar with the area. We had her apartment available, tons of bars, restaurants, and other activities easily accessible, AND Rachel’s apartment was nearby and a perfect solution for a cost-effective venue!

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3.) Theme

The foundation of a great party usually stems from an awesome theme or event. When comes to picking activities and themes, it doesn’t hurt to look around and see what other people have done. Of course, Pinterest is an excellent source and a great place to get started.  It was my personal goal to plan a party that would not only be a great time, but I also wanted it to be memorable. I wanted to get everyone out of their comfort zones a little bit and do something that they wouldn’t do on and regular basis.

I started brainstorming with the bride ideas of what she thought would be fun. We talked about all the things Rachel loves to do in Des Moines and in general and came up with a list that included minor league baseball games, tailgating sporting events, going to breweries—you name it!  One of Rachel’s favorite things though, is the Des Moines Farmers market…

I think she knew I laughed a little when she first suggested that… I mean come on, Farmers Markets don’t usually scream “Party” let alone a Bachelorette Party. But it’s her day and it’s what she wanted to do, and it was now up to me to make a Farmers Market into a party-worthy activity (also… I love a good challenge.)

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4.) Help & Delegating

Being over 1,000 miles away, there’s only so much I could do.  I knew I’d have to fly in for the event which was not only and expense on my end but also meant what I could bring with me was very limited.  Luckily so many of Rachel’s friends stepped up and offered to help! Since I love the whole process of planning things… It can be hard for me to let go of responsibility sometimes—it’s hard to give up control (but I’m getting better at it.) Delegating out the tasks though was THE MOST IMPORTANT step. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the other ladies, they pulled through to help make it happen!

So, I planned out the itinerary and then asked the other girls to pick a portion of the day that they’d lead and take care of the background stuff. We divided and conquered:

  • Bringing Snacks
  • Making Party Favors
  • Decorations
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Planning Games & Activities
  • Dinner Reservations

5.) Itinerary

After we decided on the date, I moved forward with planning the Itinerary around the Des Moines Farmers Market!

10:00 am         Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

11:00 am         Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

12:30 pm         Return to Rachel’s Apartment & Go over scavenger hunt findings

1:00 pm           Lunch at Apartment and Games

3:30 pm           Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

5:30 pm           Special Surprise

7:00 pm           Dinner

9:30 pm           Going Out

Itineraries are a great game plan, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. Keep the schedule flexible! It’s always a good idea to have some back up ideas and filler ideas in case things take longer or shorter than you expected. If something doesn’t work out, stay calm and keep moving on and try not to rush anything. As someone who is never on time to anything… I knew I couldn’t jam pack the day because I always under estimate how long things will take. This day was about me and I knew it needed to run smoothly for the sake of my friend. I always had a game plan but tried to go with the flow as much as possible!

The Big Day

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Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

Since the Farmers Market ends at 12:00 we had to get the party started early!!!  I always feel better about waking up early when I know there’s going to be breakfast involved.  We had a breakfast buffet complete with a mimosa bar in Rachel’s apartment. It worked out so well because everything could be bought directly form the store or easily prepared ahead of time and warmed up on the spot!

Bachelorette parties can be challenging because usually you have guests from all different parts of the Brides Life. Our party was no different, there were women she’d grown up with, friends from college, friends from graduate school, and family members. Many of us didn’t know one another so it was a little daunting to be social with strangers that early in the morning. I knew we’d need a little ice breaker to get everyone started wile ate our breakfast.

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I ordered a Wedding’s Mad Libs book off Amazon and it was just the perfect solution.  First off, it’s very affordable and required no additional planning or materials. It’s a good activity to get everyone involved in coming up funny words to create some silly stories. The Mad Libs in the book were also still pretty PG (maybe PG-13 after we added to them) so everyone was comfortable and participated.

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Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

So, the morning of the big event—typical Iowa weather, it was storming all morning and they canceled the Des Moines Farmers market. My initial reaction was— oh-crap! (but I always have a backup plan!) I originally designed the scavenger hunt to incorporate a little bit of all of Court Avenue. Court Ave. in Des Moines is where Rachel’s apartment is located as well as the Farmers Market, so everything is walking distance. There’re tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and even a grocery store. We went ahead and did the scavenger hunt any way, we just all had to get a little more creative about how/where to complete the tasks.

 

We split up into four teams of three. I gave each team a bag with a pen and they’re scavenger hunt card and the option to either take a photo of the things for 1 point OR bring back the item for 3 points. We all had so much fun with it.  It was challenging, sometimes awkward, and funny as can be. By-standers got so excited about it too, coming up and asking us what we were doing and how they could help! It was a hit.

Go over scavenger hunt findings & Prizes

Afterwards we met back at her apartment and went over what we had found!  The pictures we comical!  One group went around the grocery store and asked for a sample of almost everything and the store agreed and gave it to them!!! One group made a lot of new friends and found a dog with an impressive mullet, and I somehow wound up taking a shot of Fireball with a lady at 11:30 in the morning… too much fun.

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Lunch at Apartment and Games

Afterwards we had lunch. One girl brought these croissant sandwiches from Costco… they were beyond amazing, and I now crave them all the time. If you have a party, I’d highly recommend them! Another girl planned out a game where she asked the groom-to-be 20 questions about Rachel and their relationship and she had to tell us the right answers, what she thought he might say, and then we revealed what he actually said. Man, this couple is meant to be because he was spot on for everything! It was great, simple, and provided a lot of heart felt laughs.

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Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

The hotel we were staying at, the Hyatt Place in Down Town Des Moines. It was beautiful. We got two double queen rooms with pullout couches that were next door to one another and they were perfect!!! We all freshened up and got ready for the rest of the evening and changed into our party clothes.

We “signed in” by signing a picture frame matt and kissing it to leave our lip-print. One of the girls made goodie bags for everyone that had lipstick (for the kissing frame) nail polish, band-aids, Advil, shout wipes, gum, a hair tie, and a Florapy facemask. AKA everything you could need to survive a bachelorette party out! We opened gifts and even played a “drop your panties” game where everyone anonymously brings a pair of new panties for the bride, and she has to guess who brought which ones—this game was not so easy, but still fun!

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Special Surprise

I wanted to do something special for the bride and have a surprise that she wouldn’t know about. Something to look forward to and of course something to hold over her head and make her guess a little bit. All week she was texting me begging that it wasn’t going to be a stripper but of course I had to tease her a little bit. The surprise however, was a photographer.

I hired a talented photographer friend of mine, Meursault Photography, to meet us down town Des Moines to meet us and take some cute, sorority-ish pictures of the whole group as well as individual shots with each girl and the bride. I knew it’d be great to have the photos for all the memories as well as content for everyone’s Instagram. Also, who doesn’t get excited about a photoshoot and being all dressed up, with a fun group of girls having their pictures taken. I brought a few fun props to try including some balloons but then really let the photographer go for it.

We lucked out and had the perfect window of no rain to get some great pictures (it was steamy and as humid as could be though.) It was also nice knowing we got some great pictures early on and could relax a little more the rest of the night and not worry about it!

IMG_8307-4I’m so thankful to Meursault Photography for capturing these moments and couldn’t be more impressed! If anyone needs photos for any event or even just because you’re in the mood to have your photo taken, I’d highly recommend (especially if your located in Des Moines OR Eastern Iowa.)

Dinner

For dinner we went to one of Rachel’s favorites, Malo. It’s a trendy Mexican restaurant close to the hotel and the bars. Mexican food was great because it’s a lot of carbs before drinking but also because some of us weren’t that hungry and just got a few street tacos. One thing to keep in mind when you have a large group is to definitely call and make a reservation a week or two in advance!  We also addressed the check situation when we made the reservation too. We knew everyone was going to want to be on a separate ticket, so we requested that ahead of time. That way the restaurant and wait staff were prepared. They had 2 people to handle our table of 20 and they automatically added in gratuity for us as well! They were amazing and did such a great job, and no one was un-happy because they got stuck picking up a 20-person tab only to have no one pay them back!

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Going Out

After dinner, it started raining! A lot of us were a mess, but since we already too photos we decided to go back to the hotel, take a moment and a few of us changed out of our cute shoes for more comfortable options (it was the best idea I ever made!)

We then headed to Hello Marjorie, craft cocktail lounge that is super trendy (because of this adorable sign) as well as the amazing atmosphere and delicious cocktails. It never hurts to start a long night out with a good-quality cocktail! From there, I didn’t really plan it out. I knew we’d head to the area of Court that’s lined with bars, but I didn’t want a strict plan (remember my itinerary comment.) We went where ever the night took us and as long as we had a good time! We stopped and got Fong’s pizza just before bar close and headed back to the hotel where we talked for a while and tried to recover. Then we all went to sleep, woke up, at free hotel breakfast and went on to our other weekend activities.

I think everyone would say it was just the right amount of everything. Everything was relatively affordable (nothing out of the realm of a normal dinner and night out) everything was pretty walkable, so we didn’t have to coordinate too many Ubers back and forth. Everyone got to go where they wanted!
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I had such a blast celebrating my friend and her engagement and upcoming wedding. I was so happy to be a part of it and so glad to see everything work out. I hope you were able to come up with some ideas of your own after reading this for whatever the next party is that you’re planning OR if you need help planning an upcoming party—let me know and I’d love to help!