2019: Advice + Thoughts + Answers

Happy (almost) New Year! …

… and peace out, 2019!

I have to be honest — 2019 will be a hard year to top. If Dilly had made an appearance today, I’d say it would be impossible. From getting married, finding out we were having a baby, to having one of the best business years of our careers, we had an incredible 365 days. My work team launched Walmart Health in Georgia. Dale partnered with dozens of influencers launching beautiful presets. We traveled everywhere. Of course, with the good came the heartbreaking — I lost both my aunt and my tiny old lady poodle. 

It’s funny — 2019 was one of the “smoothest” years I’ve had to date, in terms of speed bumps and catastrophes, but some of the biggest events of my life have happened this year. It probably should have been harder than it was, but maybe things get easier when you stop fighting God and start listening to your gut and your heart. 

A few days ago, I asked on Instagram if you all had any questions for me. I love doing a little reminiscing around this time of year, and since Dale and I got engaged, I think I’ve gained something crazy like 1200 new followers. I know how busy everyone is, and I’m always so grateful for your engagement. So thank you for sending questions! I picked some of them and answered them below.

How did Dale and I meet/start dating?

Dale and I met ten years ago (well, almost — ten years ago in August of this year) when he photographed my sister’s wedding (all together now … awwwww). After that, he photographed approximately 3,049 of my friends’ weddings. At the time we met, we were both in relationships, but we kept up with each other as friends. He continued shooting my family’s big moments — which ended up being pretty handy because it feels like he’s been present in our lives this entire time. He saw my sister’s wedding, my niece’s birth, all of her birthdays, and our family’s pictures year after year.

When my last relationship ended, we simply wound up in the right places at the right times: an Avett Brothers show (which has become one of our special things), drinks to catch up at Maxine’s or Cork and Keg, volunteering with Special Olympics. After a few encounters, we discussed moving our long-standing friendship in a direction that we’d never previously considered. Once we started, we knew it was the right thing to do — which is why, in the span of only a few months, we got engaged. Then married six months later. Then having a baby nine-ish months after that. What can we say. We knew what we wanted!

What about Dilly’s arrival has me most excited/anxious/scared?

Honestly, at this point, I’m not super nervous about the delivery. When we had the preterm labor scare, I was terrified about it — I was only 32 weeks and was afraid that Dilly wouldn’t be cooked enough to thrive. I’ve never doubted my body’s ability to birth, though, and thinking positively about the labor and delivery experience has made all the difference. I didn’t want to let myself fall into a negative mindset about it; after all, the more you hear something, the more you’re willing to believe it. Basically, it will hurt. I’m prepared for that. There isn’t any avoidance of the inevitable, so I’m accepting it and embracing it.

What scares me, though, what really terrifies me, is making sure that I raise a responsible, kind-hearted human being in a world that is hell-bent on bringing out the mean-spirited. How to you raise an honest, empathetic soul without being a helicopter parent? I’ll take a dumb kid over a mean kid 100 our of 100 times.

Oh, and generally keeping a human alive. When to give it water and stuff. That’s a lot to handle, too. 

My daily beauty regimen

Truth be told, until recently, I haven’t really had a consistent beauty routine, which seems silly for a woman in her mid-thirties. I’ve been keeping it pretty simple, but I love Origins. It smells amazing and makes my face feel cold (if that makes sense?) and fresh. I use the Checks + Balances cleanser and the Ginzing moisturizer. Both are pretty basic in terms of ingredients and promises (i.e., it isn’t made with the tears of Dutch milkmaids, with the guarantee to Benjamin Button you back into the womb), but I’ve been really pleased with it so far. 

For a while, I used a Rodan + Fields regimen (Redefine with the AMP roller), but holy balls, it gets pricey. I feel like my skin was looking incredible when I was using it, but admittedly, it took my face a while to get used to it. It was sensitive and red while it was adjusting to a harsher treatment. I still use the Lash Boost. I’ll sing its praises all day. It’s also great at growing out the eyebrows that are still struggling from the Kate Moss look in 1998.

I use a Makeup Eraser to remove all my makeup without using any extra chemicals. If you’re looking to use something less abrasive than makeup wipes (and more environmentlly friendly — did you know it takes those things 100 years to break down??), this is a godsend. My sorority sister sent me one in a Dilly-Come-Out care box, and I’ve become obsessed with it. After removing my makeup, I use the Clarisonic Mia when I wash my face to make sure I’ve gotten out any leftover makeup/dirt/crud from the day before I go to sleep. I only use it at night, though, and with a brush made for sensitive skin. I don’t wanna scrape my entire face off (unless I’m getting microneedled, but that’s a different story), and if I overuse the exfoliants, I end up looking like a leper.

My derm’s office makes a sheet mask called Rejuvenate that I love … you can buy some here. It’s hard to explain, but it feels extra … gooey? Definitely more refreshing than the Target sheet masks.

This isn’t a daily routine, but it’s worth mentioning: in my non-pregnant times, I use Botox in my forehead, crow’s feet, and glabella (between eyes) … I think I used 34 units, every three months. I also do a syringe of Juvaderm in my lips once a year, and some Restylane in my tear troughs once a year. The Botox helps with some skin issues as well; I feel like my skin looks shinier and healthier when I’m actively ‘toxing. 

How long have I been vegan, and how did it happen?

I’ll hit my two-year vegan anniversary in May 2020. Prior to that, I was a vegetarian. In that sense, I eased into veganism — I didn’t just cold-turkey give up cold turkey (and swiss and honey).

Here’s how it happened. I went vegetarian because I’m vain — I thought it would help me lose a few pounds. It did, eventually; before that, though, I gained a few, because I fell into the new vegetarian trap of “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, so I’ll eat pasta and cheese.” And then, after a few weeks, once I started figuring a few things out, all of a sudden I felt springier. I felt better all over, physically and emotionally. I felt more aware of my surroundings and more conscious of everything around me. Maybe that sounds ridiculous and crunchy, but it’s the truth.

A funny thing happens when you stop eating meat: you start doing some research. You begin to understand the almost incomprehensible amount of cruelty involved in the meat industry, and you see how that bleeds into the dairy/egg industry as well. Vegans tend to slice and dice themselves into compartments, and if I were so inclined to do so, I suppose I’d label myself an ethical vegan. I’m in it for the animals (but helping the environment is a nice runner-up prize). For me, that was enough. There are a zillion reasons for shifting into a more plant-based lifestyle; here are a few.

I wrote about the transition to veganism in depth here.

Easy meal ideas

Shakes and bowls! I love both Shakeology and Isagenix shake mixes, and they both have plant-based options. I add frozen bananas and peanut butter most of the time. Sometimes some extra flax seed, sometimes pineapple or kale.

With the bowls, it’s pretty much anything that’s left before the veggies turn, haha. My mom used to make us a version of this — chicken plus whatever we had in the pantry and freezer — and called it “chicken gotcha-goomee” (dad called it “chicken whatcha-gotta”). Take whatever veggies you have, roast them with salt/pepper/EVOO/everything but the bagel seasoning, then add it to some rice or quinoa, and top with hummus or pesto. Once you start doing it, you figure out what tastes good and what doesn’t!

Big salads with Brianna’s salad dressings, especially the Real French Vinaigrette dressing. It’s super bitey and full of vinegar. Add some purple cabbage and green onion to your salad. Great crunch.

And if all else fails, Taco Bell has a certified vegan menu 🙂 

Dream job

I’ve been living it. Being a lawyer is the greatest love-hate relationship of my life, but somewhere inside me will always live a need for fairness. I used to say “justice,” that I had a “need for justice,” but the quest for justice will constantly let you down. Even the great Atticus Finch will let you down. William Gaddis said, “You get justice in the next world. In this world, you have the law.” 

I’d also love to write the Great American Novel™. Coming soon (hopefully).  

Biggest fear

Mediocrity. Settling. Maya Mendoza wrote, “No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life, chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.” Amen, sister.

Best vegan food experience

Ooohh. Okay, some favorites ….

I loved Délice + Sarrasin, an entirely vegan French restaurant in New York City. Crepes, escargot, coq au vin … it was magical.

Gracias Madre in California is a totally vegan Mexican restaurant. It’s the first place Dale and I really experienced a completely vegan meal. I think we both cried, lol. We ordered two appetizers, five entrees and a dessert.

China Poblano‘s vegan tasting menu at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. The coconut ceviche spoon is worth the price of the entire menu.

By far, though, the most unique vegan dining experience I’ve had is Blackout in Las Vegas. It’s an entire seven-course meal in the dark. Like, pitch black dark. You check your phone into a locker when you arrive, and you’re taken to your table by workers in night vision glasses. I would recommend it to everyone. No menus are posted online (it sort of defeats the purpose!), but I’ll vouch that it’s incredible food.

Favorite part of being a lawyer

It will sound very Pollyanna, but I love that I’m able to help people during stressful times. 

Most surprising part of pregnancy

The havoc on your back and tailbone! Gaining thirty pounds in a very concentrated area doesn’t get enough attention. 

But also? How easygoing it can be too. I realize my experience is very different from many — no morning sickness, no hemorrhoids, no hot flashes or mood swings (just a lot of Cinnamon Toast Crunch) — but I’ve also chosen to push naysayers to the back. I’m a believer that, to an extent, experiences are what you make of them. I decided early on that, because this might be the only opportunity I have to carry a baby, I would embrace every second of it, even if it was rotten. I told myself over and over that I was made for this and that I was capable of anything, and I think it’s made all the difference.

It wouldn’t be a new year’s eve post unless I imparted some advice:

Don’t rush things. You have time.

… but you don’t have all the time in the world.

You can afford to wait for the things that are priorities. But you cannot keep passing up opportunities looking for “perfect” whatever. You’ll know what you need when you find it.

Happy New Year, my friends. Here’s to hoping that 2020 kicks 2019’s ass.

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