The life I NEVER Imagined

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You will never guess where I’m working from right now…. Ok I’ll tell you! I’m sitting on top of a toolbox which is in the back of my giant red diesel truck which is parked in a parking lot out front of the laundromat. This is what I get for packing my weekend too full but it’s a great time to catch up with clients & check emails. 5 yrs ago I would have laughed hysterically if you would have told me I would be #1 driving a giant red truck #2 living anywhere that didn’t have a washer & dryer #3 have my own biz that is primarily online & uber flexible.
Nope, I was all set to go back to work after my son was born. I thought I HAD to. I thought that’s just what people do & so when that day came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to make my own hours, have NO boss & work WITH my son by my side. (This was before the book #girlboss but that book describes this desire perfectly). I also got really clear on what mattered in my life. So along this journey I sold practically EVERYTHING I owned & moved into a RV (which is why we need the big red truck!) & guess what? This is NOT the life I imagined just 5 short years ago – like not even close! BUT honestly I couldn’t be more in love with my life.
I could be totally annoyed & bothered with my laundry situation but instead I take this time to write blog posts like these. I talk to my clients, teach boot camp classes & teach essential oil classes AND homeschool my son. If you are in search of some freedom- I want you to know- it IS possible to live your dream. Never give up & keep your arrow pointed towards your truth.
If you want to learn more about becoming a health coach &/or wellness advocate- let’s chat! ❤️

Holy Chocolate Balls! Jude is turning 5.

WOW. Tomorrow I will officially have a 5 year old son. Words simply can’t express how grateful I am for being graced with the honor & privilege of being Mom to this rad little dude JUDE. For reals though, being a Mom is tough stuff- no matter how ‘ready’ you think you are for the job- You are just NOT.  I had NO idea what TRUE unconditional love looked like until Jude came along. It’s like all the vomit, poop, crying, screaming, crazy & trying times really showed ME what I was made of. As a parent, you really lay it all out on the line for your little person- there is nothing else like it. Such a blessing and a reminder that LOVE ALWAYS WINS. Perhaps some things in my childhood were not the best, but being a MOM reminds me that none of that really matters because as a parent, you are just doing the best you can with what you have. SO, the next time you see a Mom struggling to get her shopping done & keep her kids wrangled in- all at the same time- how about giving some grace & offering to help her- instead of judge her? After all, we are all in this together & I know I could have never done this without  the help of a small village of friends to turn to along the way. You know who you are. Thanks ladies! xo


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Thanks to you my dearest JUDE

– your strong will and curiosity keep me on my toes

-your humor reminds me to HAVE FUN DAILY and not take life so seriously

-your kind heart and desire to help others reminds me that kindness really can change the world

-your building and DIY nature makes me want to make more things instead of buy them

-your love makes me want to be a better ME

-your unique style inspires me to stay true to mine

-your desire to live a healthy life reminds me to take my own advice

-your zest for life makes me feel SO thankful to be alive

-your desire to stop, smell & pick the flowers for me makes me proud of the little man you have become

-your lack of desire to be like everyone else refreshes me

When you LIVE OUT LOUD you force me to do the same & for that I thank you.

Happy 5th Birthday my love.

I love you more than words. You stole my heart. You are the real deal. Shine On.

Love, MOM

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Jude is having a Lego + Boxing Birthday party this year. I’m super excited to teach him & his little friends some KIDboxing (hosting the party at the kickboxing gym where I work) + we will be doing some FUN Lego games too! I will post lots of pics after his party on Sunday 🙂

Tomorrow is Jude’s big day & he requested ‘anything chocolate’ -so I whipped up some gluten & sugar free  Birthday Brownie Balls to send with him to preschool. Get the recipe below! (if you have to avoid nuts at your school then just replace the almonds with sunflower seeds & the PB with sun butter).

Birthday Brownie Balls
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 14 balls
Ingredients
  • ¾ C raw almonds
  • 1 tablesoon raw cacao powder
  • 12 pitted medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoon all-natural organic peanut butter
  • Optional Superfood Add ins: goji berries, Enjoy GF choc chips, hemp seeds, chia seeds, coconut flakes (unsweetened)
Instructions
  1. Place almonds in a small food process or and process for about 30 seconds or until your almonds are finely chopped like almond meal. Set aside.
  2. Next, process the pitted dates until they become like a paste.
  3. Then, add the rest of the ingredients, including the almond meal, and pulse for an additional minute.
  4. Form dough in to balls and eat! If it is having trouble sticking, add a tablespoon or 2 of honey.
  5. *You can make them into bigger sized balls & then place them in cute cupcake wrappers- fun!
  6. **Need more balls? Double the recipe!

FYI: These are such a yummy snack- not just for birthdays 🙂

Keep it real! xo Branda

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Confused about food? Start here.

Most people hear about a particular way of eating such as vegan, paleo, vegetarian or low carb/high protein etc & just jump in with trying to eat by the ‘rules’ of one of these diets. After awhile they meet or hear of someone having success with a different way of eating & might decide to adopt that one instead. If they are not following a specific diet then they are on the ‘free for all’ plan – which puts them on the fast track to weight gain & health problems. And so the cycle continues. Do you ever stop to question the food you are eating? Or do you just choose whatever fits into the ‘rules’ you are currently following? Sure those shakes & bars or lack of carbs etc might help you lose weight initially, but you must ask yourself- what the heck am I actually eating? Is my diet well balanced? What nutrients am I lacking? When you start diving into what is really inside the food you eat – this is when the real journey begins. After you learn more about food, you will start to develop your own standards & way of eating that feels right for your body.

I highly encourage you to watch this TED talk!

It’s one mother’s journey to understand what’s in our food & a great sneak peek into why we should be more concerned with what’s IN our food rather than what ‘diet’ we should follow.

Keep it Real,
BRANDA

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The Uncluttered Christmas

We live in an RV aka tiny house. This means we have to be REALLY picky about what comes into our very small space. So as much as we TRULY appreciate family members that want to buy a gift for Jude or or our family; we would like to ensure that this year’s gifts will be very useable! Instead of toys we are going to ask for things like swimming lessons, martial arts, movie tickets or even better –> maybe a visit from the person giving the gift! I am loving some of the ideas from the links below and I will also be using these ideas to purchase gifts for others.

http://www.raisingmemories.com/2013/12/ultimate-list-100-non-toy-gift-ideas.html

http://kaylaaimee.com/25-non-toy-christmas-gifts/

Want a clutter free Christmas? Check out the lists above + talk to the people you are buying a gift for. Ask: could we plan a family trip together instead? Maybe get a membership (to the zoo etc) that can be enjoyed together year round? 

Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the pressure & stress of gift giving, instead create a thoughtful + meaningful memory filled with love. xo

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The Downsizing Project: Phase 4

We are REALLY DOING IT HARRY! {fav quote from Dumb & Dumber}- but, seriously we are now living full time in our tiny house aka RV!! I had previously broken down our downsizing project into the 4 phases below.

PHASE 1: sort, purge, pack, prepare

PHASE 2: sell, donate, evaluate

PHASE 3: prep our tiny house (painting, moving items inside, set up outdoor space etc)

PHASE 4: move in & ENJOY!

I just realized we kind of skipped phase 3 because we decided not to paint inside of the RV right now (as we didn’t want to add any stress to the situation). So there was really little prep that needed to be done. It has been a LONG & exhausting month since we set this dream into motion, but I am super proud of us for pulling it off! In less than 30 days we sold nearly everything we own and moved from a 1300 or so sq ft condo (3 levels with a garage) to a 300 or so sq ft RV with 3 slide outs!

Phase 4: So here is a pic of our RV being delivered to our space at the RV park. Since we purchased a 5th Wheel RV, but don’t have a truck to haul it yet- the dealership agreed to deliver it. We will eventually get a truck so we can tow it around & live in different RV parks & off the grid etc but right now we are wanting to be hooked up to a water source, sewer & have access to internet etc while we learn all the ropes of RV living.

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The pic below is a peek into the inside of our tiny house. The slide outs aren’t out -yet so it looks really cramped, but Jude was anxious to get inside! Truth be told we have a hard time getting Jude to leave the RV now! He seems to really love living here & usually has to be coaxed to leave his lofted room + toys.

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Here is the 3 of us enjoying the first evening in our new tiny house!!IMG_5299

We did run into some snags & hardships while completing this process but I am SO thankful we were able to get everything moved out of our condo and get into the tiny house. There are still some boxes stacked in here (they need to be sorted because we ran out of time), so as soon as the clutter is gone I will post a video of all of the interior features of our new place!

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After we turned in the keys for our condo, I just sat down and cried for like 20 minutes. I think I was partially relieved and partially sad because Jude spent a lot of his life (3yrs) in that condo. We also saved some of our ‘important decisions’ until the very end of the move because we were dreading getting rid of certain things. I went from 5 boxes of Jude’s baby clothes/items to this little plastic box which contains his his baby book, blanket/hospital outfit from when he was born and 2 of my favorite outfits from when he was a lil babe. I never thought I would be able to part with the numerous amounts of baby stuff I saved, but it felt really great to free myself from all of it. Plus luckily I knew a few pregnant ladies that I could hand some of Jude’s stuff down to!

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When I was pregnant we did a belly cast. It was fun & had been hanging on our wall since Jude was born. To be honest I was never really totally attached to this thing, but when the time came to decide if it would go in storage or not- I wasn’t sure what to do with it. So I tried it on and talked with Jude about when he used to be in my belly & we had some fun with it. After we got some pics I knew it was just another item that I was holding onto. I have pics of myself pregnant and the belly cast was just one of those things taking up space in our home. I know this might be hard for some people to hear or relate to because you are thinking ‘I could never give that away or throw that one thing away’, (I know because I was THAT person not too long ago) but if you really thought about it you would realize the important things are not possessions at all. They are those memories and in this case the living proof (Jude himself) is really the only memento of my pregnancy that I need!

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Even though we are not all the way settled in the tiny house- I am feeling a sense of freedom already! Some things are taking a little longer & require more effort like dishes (no dishwasher) and laundry (we have to roll our dirty stuff to the mini laundromat on site). But, I feel like our ‘ecological footprint’ has decreased significantly. We are not demanding so much of nature because there is WAY less water & electricity usage. We eat outdoors most nights too so we are breathing WAY more fresh air which is reducing our indoor air pollution intake. I explained all this to my mom today and she said “YEP, you are officially a hippy now”- haha! Want to know more about your ecological footprint? Try the quiz on this website –> http://www.myfootprint.org

Here are some more pics as we kicked off this adventure: {BTW- I plan to keep blogging about all the little things/tips for tiny house/green living etc etc so- watch for a link to my new blog soon!)

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Yoga helped to keep me grounded during this major change FOR SURE!

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Check out my new kitchen- great counter space huh? lolIMG_5577We had SO much stuff!!! It was not only taking up space in our home, but also in our mind so releasing ourselves from all this STUFF truly creates freedom in every possible way!

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Jude has NEVER spent so much time in his room. And now that he only has a certain amount of toys to play with – he is playing with EVERYTHING.

Thanks again for all of your kind words of support and encouragement. Blogging about this process has really helped me. It may seem weird, but to sit back & see it all unfolding on the screen of my laptop… sometimes makes it more realistic for me. Exposing my dreams and sharing them with the world puts me in a very vulnerable place, but I know I was meant to share this journey in order to inspire others. When I tell my son Jude that anything is possible- I really do mean it! Anything IS possible. No matter what your situation, your age or your past – don’t EVER quit your daydream!

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The Down Sizing Project: Phase 1 Cont’d + Phase 2 Underway

Oh my goodness! Phase one of this project has been an emotional roller coaster + SO much work! I have been sorting, purging, packing & preparing FULL TIME (with the exception of teaching 1-2 fitness classes per day). AND we still have a good bit of work to do before phase one can end. I am trying not to rush it because I feel like this phase/step has many emotional ties & I want to deal with everything that arises as it comes- this way I can hopefully avoid any type of shock when getting into our new tiny house. We are still getting mixed reactions when we tell people what we are doing- everything from dead silence to “I give it 2 months”. We don’t expect anyone to fully understand & truthfully this is a crazy adventure that we will be navigating one day at a time. We care not what others think because once again this is our dream! One thing that most everyone is assuming is that we are in some serious financial hardship & have no other option then to move into an RV. Let me assure you this is simply not the case! We are looking forward to saving money by living small, but this is definitely a choice we are making. This is a lifestyle we are choosing and we firmly believe that our quality of life will be going WAY up once we start living small.

So since the last post I have been sorting & purging + selling items like crazy! Here is a peek into what has been my world…. IMG_5078

At first we only planned to keep what could fit into the RV, but quickly realized we will need a small storage closet for photo albums, Jude’s baby book/keep-sakes, our keep sakes from when we were kids, canvas family photos + some of my fitness equipment that would be really expensive to re-buy (because my dream of opening my own studio will NOT die). If we had family nearby we would just ask them to hold onto these few items for us, but since we don’t we had to rent a small storage closet. Storage is SO expensive!!! Our tiny little closet (5×5) pictured below costs us $75/mo!

 

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We are carefully evaluating everything that will be placed inside this storage closet so they will be just the important ‘grab in case of fire’ items. These items will actually be safer here too because this closet is climate controlled & on the 4th floor of the storage facility. If kept in the RV, the heat or a possible water leak could get to them there. When I was touring the storage facility I was just in awe of this giant building (like the one below) packed full of everyones STUFF. If we pay $75/mo for that tiny closet then people are paying a hefty price for the bigger spaces just to store/keep their stuff. I shared my thoughts with the manager who was giving me the tour & she laughed out loud- she totally agreed, but was thankful for such a good business to be in. (She also shared her experience with living in RV’s when she was a child- awesome bonus!!!) These giant storage facilities are popping up all over the place- it’s so crazy to think that we are all grasping so tightly to our STUFF instead of allowing those who are in need to have access to it.

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I would have to say that out of EVERYTHING that we have sold/packed up so far- the pictures were what caused me to become super emotional. We bubble wrapped all our precious canvases & family pics to place in storage (so it wasn’t like we we were getting rid of them or anything), but it was still hard. I think it was because those family pics were what made our current home feel like a real home- if that makes any sense…. BUT, I will be figuring out how to hang a few of the smaller ones in the RV for sure!

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Phase 2: Selling everything was actually really fun! I felt happy to see people shopping through our stuff (even though my friends said it was kind of weird for them). It was great to know that all of our things will be getting a new home & be well-loved.

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Meet my BFF’s for the week: a marker & some masking tape. I was a price tag making fool!

IMG_5026I thought for sure that spending so much time around my old stuff would make me try to take some of it back, but luckily that wasn’t a problem at all! I also tried to keep Jude out of the garage because I was worried he would do the same, but it was quite the opposite! He was suggesting people buy certain items like books for their kids etc- it was cute! Because Jude sold a lot of his toys; we agreed that he could use some of the money to buy a few small lego sets that he has really been wanting. This has been keeping him busy + has shown him that when you let go of things you are no longer using/needing- you can get some of the things you have really been wanting. He gets it & it’s a beautiful thing!

So I want to share a few tips that I think everyone should try/know- even if you are not down-sizing into a tiny house- I’m sure you could use a little more free space right?

The first thing is DVD storage. We have Netflix & get the occasional DVD from RedBox, but we also wanted to keep a lot of our movies. Since space is definitely a concern in the tiny house- My husband came up with the idea of just getting a CD or DVD book to put them all into & then just toss all the plastic cases in the trash (well actually we recycled them)- genius!  I mean think about it- you don’t really need the plastic cases because if you love the DVD that much then you won’t be selling it. And if you need to borrow a DVD to someone just keep a spare CD case on hand to put it into. Take a look at all the space the DVD cases were taking up in our little storage nook thingy before!

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Compared to this tiny little CD/DVD storage folder below! Pretty Awesome!

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The other thing I am super happy we thought of was selling books back to Amazon. We have a TON of books and some of them are school textbooks and costed us a lot of money. So before I put out a big box of books for the garage sale- I decided to investigate how much Amazon might buy them back buy for. In case you didn’t know: Amazon has a buy-back program for books, electronics etc and they pay for the shipping to send them in too! I am so glad I did this because we ended up getting an Amazon credit of $270! This was for just 4 textbooks- they will take regular books too but don’t pay that much for them. I decided to just sell the rest of them for $3 each at my garage sale & call it a day.  But, it’s worth a try to make some extra money! I had a cart full of Amazon products that we needed for our RV (water pressure regulator, sewage system materials, etc) so I was excited to get these items paid for with the credit from the textbooks.

Phase 2 Update: We have sold nearly ALL of our big furniture items. Most of them went to friends or friends of friends and the rest sold at the garage sale this morning. I placed a few items on ‘East County Classifieds’ forum and sold them as well. Today was our garage sale & it was a success! We made about $500 in 2 hours & lots of stuff gone! We will be opening the garage door tomorrow for a bit as our final attempt to sell our items. After tomorrow, we will be donating any remaining items. We feel so lucky that so many people (friends & strangers) have supported our adventure by buying our things. Our goal was to make enough money to buy a puppy (Roger Dog) & we have done that so we would like to donate the rest of the items to bless those families who are in need.

After this weekend we will be doing some last minute things to prep for our RV to be placed at the RV park on August 1st. We still need to do RV inspection, secure cable service & secure RV insurance. This week will be about making a pile of what will go into the tiny house, what will go in the ‘belly of the beast’- the small storage space underneath the RV, and what will be taken to the storage closet. SO much to do!!

I am bummed that I won’t be able to get my virtual Boot Camp off the ground for August but it just wouldn’t be possible. Soon though…. very soon.

Live SMALL & have it all!

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The Down Sizing Project: Phase 1

Live Simply. Live Simply. Live Simply. I just kept repeating this to myself as I headed up to my bedroom to tackle what I thought would be the hardest part of the down-sizing project: my closet. You see I have been living by the old saying “A girl can never have enough clothes.”- do people actually say that? Well, regardless- I have been living by it. I have to tell you that as I purge my house- it has become like therapy. This part of the process was unexpected. I thought okay, just toss the stuff or sell it & be done. Nope, each step has forced me to dig down deep and ask myself “why do I feel the need to hold onto to these things?” (Before we continue, I need to clarify that I don’t have an insane amount of stuff- like not more than the average American- so please don’t picture me peeking out from behind piles of junk like a hoarder or anything). Okay, back to my closet….. so as I am purging my closet I realized WHY I am holding on to all these clothes (many of which I never wear or no longer fit). When I was a child, I lived with just my mom- (a single parent) she worked 2-3 jobs just to get us by. We did our shopping at thrift stores & garage sales which was totally fun as a young child & then totally mortifying as a high- schooler. I decided to take matters in my own hands & got a job at the age of 15 so I could buy ‘cool clothes’. Yep, I passed up the opportunity to play soccer, continue to run track  or play volleyball + many other fun events with my friends- just so that I could work full time through high school. Yep, 40hrs a week at a job doesn’t get you very good grades, but it does get you some cash to buy STUFF. So that’s what I did. My mom would continue to remind me how much those brand name things didn’t matter, but at the time I was consumed with trying to be cool (like most high schoolers are). Ahhh, the awesome influence of a high school…. we will save that discussion for another time. So what does this have to do with my current overflowing closet of clothes? It all comes down to these two things: abundance and trust. I was NOT trusting the universe to provide me with everything I needed (because in my eyes – it didn’t when I was a child) so I tightly grasped onto everything & anything I could get my hands on. Each item of clothing was assurance that I would never have to go without again. Pretty deep right? I know! I was totally expecting to shed tears of sadness during this down-size, but I actually wept with joy when I realized I am finally trusting the universe to give me EVERYTHING I need and that I will never be in lack if I live this way & just TRUST. In addition, I believe it goes full circle so by constantly giving & not grasping- I will always have enough.

I went through my entire closet in less than an hour and had absolutely NO problem with placing almost every item of clothing I had into the ‘sell pile’. WOW!!!!! I still cannot believe how easy it was!!!! Here are the results:

2014-07-15 08.53.50So this is just the hanging stuff, but as you can see I have seriously down-sized! And I totally surprised myself with what I wanted to keep. There are about 25 items on hangers here, but I will be going through them again before the move to see if I can get rid of a few more items. Not pictured are any of the bottoms- so of course I am keeping all of my workout pants (that’s pretty much all I wear) + a few shorts & jeans. I am also selling all of the clothes in the laundry baskets pictured below! I took these pics before I purged the dresser so these baskets are now overflowing with things to sell/give away.

photo 2I also want to show you an embarrassing pic, but this process is all about change + growth so here I go…. The pic below (where it looks like a bomb went off in my room)- is not just because I was cleaning/sorting in there yesterday. It has looked similar to this on & off throughout the entire time we have lived here (almost 3 years). I have too much stuff and when I have a bad ‘nothing fits’ day- it all ends up on the floor & because I am very busy- it will stay there until I can clean it up.

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I mean it’s not like I hate cleaning or anything, but I would obviously rather be doing something else like hanging out with my family. This is one of the reasons we are moving into a tiny house. We will not have to waste hours and hours per week cleaning. Think about it. How much time do you spend cleaning? And the more space you have = the more rooms there are to clean = the less time you are spending with family & the more stressed you are! If you work full time- this is nearly impossible to keep up with.

PHASE 1: sort, purge, pack, prepare

PHASE 2: sell, donate, evaluate

PHASE 3: prep our tiny house (painting, moving items inside, set up outdoor space etc)

PHASE 4: move in & ENJOY!

So there you have it! I better get back to purging- I will share more soon! <3

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Downsizing News on the Homefront

SO, my last post was all about downsizing and moving into a small apartment. Well, I am here to report that we have decided to skip the small apartment & go right into an RV. Yep! That’s right- we are selling everything & buying our next home for less than $20,000. We intend on purchasing our new RV within the next month & if all goes well we will be living in it FT at a local RV park by September.  We just returned from a long  vacation & have already started the first phase of this exciting journey: Sorting. Uhm….. Not my favorite thing to do, but it has to be done. We are currently deciding what to sell via a garage sale, what to donate, what to keep, what might have to be stored (childhood memorabilia/ photo albums etc), and what to post on Craigslist etc- Wow! This is quite a mighty task! Which is why we are giving ourselves a little extra time to get it all figured out.

We have already received mixed feedback from friends and family- some people are confused, some are weirded out, some think we are crazy and some totally understand & want to join us! I love all the reactions + the fact that none of it changes my mind in the least. This is OUR dream and we are going to live it! Jude {my 4 yr old} also gets to have a say in the matter. Today, he helped me preview a few of the travel trailers. He picked one with a bunkhouse & mini couch for him- of course!  He also sorted through his mounds of toys to decide which ones he will donate. Jude is surprisingly not sad about giving things away, but it’s probably because he is uber is excited about what he will get once we are settled into our new home- a dog!!!

My dream:

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Okay so it won’t look exactly like this because Airstream trailers like to the one pictured are SO SO expensive + this one is not nearly big enough, however I am excited about decorating our little outdoor area & eating dinner outside most nights!

I will also be participating in the Project 33 Challenge  to help me downsize my wardrobe. This challenge is exactly as it sounds- you pair down your wardrobe to only a total of 33 items of clothing/jewelry/shoes. I am really nervous about this, but also looking forward to it, because I will be ready in 1/2 the time with less clothing options to choose from! I have also started a ‘My Simple Life’ pinterest board with some pins that include some FUN small wardrobe ideas- check it out here –> http://www.pinterest.com/brandaschrader/my-simple-life/

Thanks for sharing in my journey! I will keep you posted 🙂

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Gratitude Challenge (November 1st – 30th)

Gratitude is a Game Changer

I read about a guy who wrote down what he was grateful for every day for a year and it changed his life. This story inspired me and I want to try it…. well maybe not for a year, but for a month!  I don’t know about you, but if something as simple as writing down what I am grateful for each day can change my life- count me in! Want to join me?

Let’s try it for the entire month of November!

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It’s pretty simple… Here’s what you need:

  1. Print four of these gratitude journal pages –> gratitudejournalpage  and choose a safe place to keep them. {I think it would be best to keep them in the same place so each morning you can establish a routine of going to that place to journal.} This will take MINUTES each day so don’t try to use the excuse of not having enough time 🙂
  2. PAPER VERSION: Journal by writing about what you are thankful for on the journal pages. Do this each day for the entire month of November.
  3. ONLINE VERSION: Are you an Instagrammer? Post a pic each day using the hashtag #gratitudeisagamechanger and feel free to tag @bodybybranda so I can see all the lovely things you are appreciating throughout the month! Then of course share on Facebook & tweet it and all that jazz too.
  4. At the end of the month come on over to the Body by Branda Facebook page to tell me how it went and how you feel!

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