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Today marks the one year anniversary of the day that I first reached out to the Fit and Food Connection to volunteer. While looking ...

How Volunteering Has Changed My Life

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day that I first reached out to the Fit and Food Connection to volunteer.

While looking for job opportunities - and finding that I wasn't nearly ready to change positions - I stumbled across a volunteer position with the Fit and Food Connection, and the rest is history. Now, I help to run the organization's social media and website teams, I serve on the Board, and I teach a yoga class for those in need.

Needless to say, spending this much time with an organization has really changed my life, and here's how:

1. I have learned more through experience than I did in school.

Real world knowledge is so much more valuable than an outdated text book. Maybe that's not true in all fields, but in something like marketing, where the digital landscape changes every day, being able to try your best firsthand with a real company is worth a thousand textbooks.

The Fit and Food Connection valued my insights and gave me the freedom of trial and error. I was able to gain real world knowledge in social media, content marketing, the Wordpress CMS, Google Analytics, and Google AdWords - experience that I never would have gotten sitting in my cubicle at Spectrum Reach. And most importantly, experience that led me to be hired for my dream job at Paradigm New Media group over my competition.

2. I have met amazing people, who I now cannot imagine my life without.

The Fit and Food Connection is almost entirely volunteer run. It is truly amazing what a group of passionate people can achieve in their non-existent free time. Although the volunteers come and go, there is a good group of us who have been in it for the long haul. I am always blown away with what these people are accomplishing when we get together.

And I can't make a post about volunteering without talking about the co-founders of the Fit and Food Connection, Joy and Gabi. They have been so kind and supportive of me in everything that I have done for the past year. They are always grateful for the work all of the volunteers do. They would do anything for us in return if they could. They will be lifelong friends of mine.

3. I finally understand the definition of busy.

Before volunteering with the Fit and Food Connection, my definition of "busy" was trying to finish 4 seasons of a show in one week. I was mostly just wasting time. Now, I understand what being truly busy is. Working a full time job, trying to keep a social life with Jim, attending several nonprofit meetings per week after work, teaching a yoga class, and doing volunteer website or social media work in my free time.

My calendar books weeks in advance, and there is never such a thing as a free weekend. I sometimes feel bad for not seeing my family and friends as often as I would like. But at least everyone who I know understands my crazy schedule and has an equally chaotic life of their own. (And if you don't then feel free to guilt me into seeing you, just as long as you can plan it in advance.)

4. I have found the joy of selflessly giving.

Volunteering with the Fit and Food Connection started out as a selfish thing, I will admit. Most volunteering does, I have found. You are willing to give your time and talents, and in return you expect to get something out of it. For me, it was personal and professional development, for some it is the social atmosphere, for others it is about filling community service hours.

However, in my time with this organization, I have taken on more and more roles because I believe in the people who we serve. I believe that they deserve the best, healthiest lives they can have. Teaching a yoga class has no direct benefit to me.

Even if I decided to become a professional yoga teacher in the future, this class would not have trained me. This class is simply about sharing my passion with people who also enjoy it. People who may have never experienced yoga without me. And even though I'm not "getting anything" out of my yoga class, it has been one of the most fulfilling volunteer experiences I have had.

Go For It

That one email that I sent to Joy one year ago has completely changed my life. If I hadn't reached out to the Fit and Food Connection, I would not be sitting where I am today. If you are considering volunteering with any organization, the best advice that I can give is to just go for it! The worst thing that can happen is you deciding that volunteering is not for you. And then, guess what? You can just quit! Simple as that.

If you aren't ready to volunteer, you can still support amazing local organizations by donating or attending nonprofit events. I know a great organization that you can give to. ;)

Globally, 2016 was a terrible year. Just a piece of absolute garbage. But, personally (and professionally), I wound up having pretty much t...

A Year in Review: 2016

Globally, 2016 was a terrible year. Just a piece of absolute garbage. But, personally (and professionally), I wound up having pretty much the best year possible.

 Sure there were ups and downs, and it started in a pretty rough place. So there was no where to go but up. It didn't come without a lot, A LOT, of hard work. But in the end, I made every month of 2016 a success.


I made a goal, and I stuck to it. Like many people, I wanted to lose weight. Towards the end of 2015 I was the heaviest I have ever been, and I wasn't happy. 

 I actually started in December but kicked things into high gear in January. By April, I had lost just over 30 pounds. It's crazy for me to even think about that number.

 Also in January, we went to Taste of Soulard, and I met this dapper fellow named Andrew. I want a cat on a leash.


I realized that I had a decision to make. I was no longer challenged at my job. I could right it out for a few months, being comfortable with what I do. Or, I could do something about it.

I did not feel ready to make the jump to a new company, but I started looking at options. The more I looked, the more I realized that my job would not give me the types of opportunities that I wanted. If I wanted to advance, I needed to spend some of my own time on professional development.

 So I started volunteering with The Fit and Food Connection, and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Volunteering has been so rewarding in so many ways. It also helped me learn, meet new people, get my dream job, and take a trip to Breckenridge, CO. More on all of that later.

 Also in February, Jim and I went winter camping. We took the best nap in the sun after setting up our tent, and we got some of the best sleep of the year.


At the beginning of the year, I set a yoga goal pose: forearm stand. Also known as Pincha, this pose has always been pretty high on my goal list ever since I mastered the headstand, years earlier. I was determined to learn how to do this pose without a wall, and I did it.

 In March, I held pincha for the first time. Granted, that first time was for less than a second, but I still counted it. If you don't count it, later that same day I held it for two seconds, and by the end of the month I was up to a steady 10 seconds. 

 Also in March, I ate pizzadillas like no one's business. If you haven't tried them yet, I blogged about them. They are heaven.


In April, Jim and I took our long-awaited trip to Mexico. What a great week it was, spending time with friends in the sun by the ocean. When the hotel staff begged us to upgrade our room to an ocean view room for almost double the price, Jim and I said no. We wound up with an ocean view in our cheap "standard" room, and that first night, we got the second best sleep of the year.

 We didn't do any excursions on the trip, but we didn't need to. Spending time in paradise was well worth it. And all I really cared about was doing yoga by the ocean (but not on the beach because there was too much wind blowing sand in your face).

 We dressed up for dinner every night, and afterwards we always went to our favorite ocean-side bar. The other people at the resort were missing out. The bar was never crowded after dinner, we always had more than enough seats for the 10 of us, and the evening breeze coming off of the waves felt amazing.

 Also in April, I started making home made chicken nuggets, and I have never gone back. Check out the recipe I snagged from Pinterest.


In May, big things were happening with The Fit and Food Connection. By this time, I had become head of the social media and website teams, and I helped to promote the organization's first ever Give STL Day.

 I began serving on the Board, as head of the Marketing Committee. Because I was so invested, I became very close with the one of the organization's Co-Director Joy.  She has been a tremendous resource for me, and I know she will be my lifelong friend.

 Starting in May, another volunteer and I also began teaching a weekly yoga class for those in need. It was held at St. Vincent's Community Center in St. Louis, and received such rave reviews that our original 6 week session was renewed multiple times, taking us all the way up to November 15th. 

 My class attendees loved coming to yoga every week, and I loved getting to know each of them. I was able to challenge them each week  This was the most rewarding experience that I have had volunteering so far. 

 Obviously, the most important thing to happen in May is my birthday. It was low-key this year, just like every year. That's just how I like it. But I got to see my family, friends, and spend time with my Jim.


In June, I started bullet journaling. If you don't know what that is, read this article, and jump on the bandwagon.

 My bullet journal turned my life around. I started tracking my goals, and that let me see how often I said, "I'll just order pizza" instead of eating my food at home. It allowed me to keep a running to-do list, so I stopped forgetting which nonprofit projects I still had left. 

 I've also loved the idea of having a diary. Even though I didn't write something too interesting every day, I really liked to spend at least 5 minutes each day writing down a daily gratitude. All of this hard work towards a good life is worth nothing if you don't take the time to appreciate it.

 At work, I was promoted the day before my one year anniversary at Spectrum Reach. I got a minimal raise which was not worth the double (actually triple due to growth in both of my regions) work I had been putting in for two months. It fueled the fire to leave. Now that I had the title, I really started hitting the job boards hard.

 Also in June, Jim and I tried acro yoga for the first time. Drunk acro yoga. We were terrible, and Jim called me a mashed potato queen. It was a hoot.


July was a tough month for me. I was on my third month of tripling my workload, and I was exhausted. I would get home and work on nonprofit work or teach yoga for the Fit and Food Connection. And I found myself with pretty much zero time to myself.

 I did wind up taking one day off of work to have a fun, three day weekend. Some friends, Jim, and I went to a concert on a Sunday night. A Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin concert. Not really my type of music anymore, but I used to be into that stuff in high school. We drank way-to-expensive cans of Bud Light Lime and had a darn good time. Except that I lost my favorite sunglasses in the lawn somewhere.

 Also in July, I cut off a little over six inches of my hair. I just started missing the length recently, but it's been looking pretty healthy.


I never eat out by myself, so I had gone almost a whole year without trying any of the food places near my apartment. In August, Jim and I discovered the best tacos in Maryland Heights (that's probably not saying much).

LA Taco Cantina became on of our go-to places, and I'm a little sad I don't still live in the neighborhood. It also serves the world renowned (lol) Maryland Heights Mule, of which we never partook. If you're ever in the neighborhood, this place is a must.

 We discovered O'Fallon Brewery's O'Bar much sooner, only a few months after I moved in. We frequented this place because it has fantastic beer selection, and in August, I had my first Pumpkin Beer of fall 2016. Yum.

 Also in August, one of my amazing Instagram followers painted a picture of me. It was so sweet, and I was so flattered.


With the weather cooling down a little - this is St. Louis, who am I kidding - in September, I managed to get outside more often.

Throughout the month I went on several bike rides and did yoga in the park almost every week. I found and started frequenting Creve Coeur Memorial Lake park, which is a beautiful park with a walking and biking path circling a lake where people go sail boating.

 Jim and I had a lot of fun in September after we discovered my favorite new digital media toy for 2016 - Bitmoji. This is a silly little app that allows you to make a cartoon avatar. It connects with Snapchat and you can send odd pictures of your Bitmoji through text too. Like an emoji, but better.

 Also in September, I became a brand ambassador for Altar Ego Apparel. They make some really nice yoga pants. Use code "kelsey_supreme" for 15% off.


Overworked and underpaid, I made huge a huge decision and career advancement in October. At the end of October, I started working at Paradigm New Media Group, a small digital firm in the Central West End.

 When I applied to the job, I wasn't sure if I would get it. It was pretty much the dream job. When I heard from the HR person the next very day, I got extremely excited. Then I met everyone there during my interview and fell even more in love with the role.

When offered the job, I took it almost immediately - but not without negotiating a little bit to make sure that the career advancement was substantial, if you catch my drift. 

 I have absolutely loved every minute of working at Paradigm so far. I have always dreamed of working in the small, agency environment, and it is everything that I hoped it would be. I am challenged every day, and no two days are alike. I am constantly learning, whether it's for a client requested project, or just catching up on industry news. When I come home each day, I feel accomplished. 

 Also in October, Jim rocked his Halloween costume, Fat Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I drew his tattoo. My Sweet Dee was not as on point.


Life really started to get chaotic before the holidays hit. Jim and I started looking for a house, to rent, since his lease was up in January. We spent  full week and a half scouring the internet for places to live the Kirkwood area, but no dice - at least not in our budget.

 Finally, we wound up finding what looked to be an okay option in St. Charles. Jim wanted to get out of the St. Charles area, but I was perfectly okay moving out a little bit further. We met the landlord to see the house sort of last minute, and we immediately fell in love. Unlike the options we were seeing closer to the city, this house was newly renovated on the inside and had covered parking for both of our cars - plus enough driveway space to have over more friends than we have. More on this later.

We went camping right after going to see the house, and on the way there, the landlord called us and dropped the rent price. Sold.

 Also in November, I went back to Cape Girardeau to visit my dear friend Dawn. We went to the Yule Log Cabin for the third year in a row and spent the entire day looking at Christmas things. I spent way too much money - as usual - but I wound up with some Christmas decorations that I will treasure forever. Plus, I got to meet her cat, Houston, who is my long distance best friend.


December was the busiest month of the year. We had so much planned, and so little time to do it. But somehow, we managed.

 First up, we officially signed our lease to move into the new house on the 17th. Next, we had a trip to Breckenridge, CO scheduled from the 8th through the 14th. You can already see how little time we had to pack up each of our apartments. Finally, we had holiday things to deal with, just like everyone else. Two parties on the 17th right after spending the day moving, and we still both had to shop for Christmas gifts for our families and each other.

 Our trip to Breckenridge was absolutely a dream. The house we stayed in (for free, thanks to me and all of my hard work) was stunning. It was a legitimate mansion. Six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and three kitchens. What? I couldn't even comprehend. I would have been happy just spending time in that beautiful house staring at the amazing views and watching the snow fall.

 The house was right downtown though. We were able to walk to tons of little restaurants and shops, plus some of our friends walked to go skiing. Walking around in the snow was a whole lot of fun, and we weren't even cold most of the time. 

 Eventually, it was time to go home, and they were able to drag me to the airport somehow. When we got home, it was right back to work, packing our apartments. I didn't even unpack my suitcase - just threw it in the back of my car with all sorts of other boxes. The whole week before the move, my evenings were spent going back and forth between my apartment and the new house, bringing as many boxes as possible. 

 Then, the night before the big move, we had a perfectly timed ice storm. Jim and I had both planned to finish bringing all of our boxes to the new house, and get all of our furniture ready for the moving truck. After spending an hour and a half getting home from work - which was usually a 20 minute commute - I decided I wasn't risking it. Around 9, Jim decided to go for it. He spent his first night at the house, sleeping on the sleeping bags that we thankfully brought earlier in the week, because his car got stuck trying to leave.

 The day of the move, the ice had melted and we had no problems. We were done quickly, and everyone mostly went home instead of taking us up on the offer of pizza and beer. More weather was on it's way. We wound up skipping the holiday parties, and good thing! Our trouble in the new house started on the first night. Stay tuned for a blog post about our new house in the coming weeks.

 Also in December, I got to Skype with my sister Amanda, while she spent Christmas Eve in Thailand. Amanda and her husband are in the middle of a year-long travel spree, and this was the first time that we've Skyped since she's been gone! Of course, the quality was not the greatest, but it was nice to at least hear her voice.

Now on to 2017..

I hope to make this year just as great. Other than yoga pose goals, I don't have any set goals for 2017. I plan to live life as it takes me. I anticipate that it will be a year of learning - professionally with my new job, personally with the new living arrangement, and physically with my yoga practice.

I survived 2016. Let's see what you've got, 2017.

     As I'm sure the bulk of my readers know, yesterday was my birthday! I turned 24, but like every year, I still feel the same as I ha...

Hello 24

     As I'm sure the bulk of my readers know, yesterday was my birthday! I turned 24, but like every year, I still feel the same as I have always felt. 24 isn't a monumental age, but it was an important birthday for me.

     Last year, I considered my 23rd birthday to be my first adult birthday. I had just graduated college, so I was an official adult, right? Yep. Except I had also just moved back in with my parents the day before. I was happy to be back in St. Louis, but I was bummed about life. I kept thinking about my lack of job prospects, living in my parents basement without any personal space, and missing my friends. I couldn't enjoy myself.

     I spent the majority of my 23rd birthday alone. Jim and I spent time together the night before, but I got back to my parent's house right after everyone had left for my brother's graduation, around 10:30 in the morning. Around 9 PM, everyone walked back in the door to find me sleeping on the couch. Classic Sunday Kelsey. Then I made myself dinner, and I went to bed.

     I decided this year that if that's my worst birthday, my life is pretty good. After all, I have parents who love me and support me enough to have let me crash at their place until I had it all figured out. I also learned that now that I'm an adult, if I want something to happen for my birthday, I have to make it happen. That's what adults do. Maybe that's why last year, we didn't have my birthday dinner until July..

     So, that being said, I decided that this year I wasn't going to be alone. I wasn't going to just blow off my own birthday because it doesn't fit conveniently into someone's schedule. I was going to make my birthday better than the year before, and I was going to do all of the things that I wanted to do.

     I was already ahead of the game this year, since now I'm not bummed about my life circumstances. I have a job in the field that I want to be in. It's been pretty frustrating for a few months now, but it's not retail and I have other prospects if I want them. I have my own apartment again, and I'm pretty much completely financially independent (pretty sure my car still being in my Dad's name is the only thing I have left). I might have felt like an actual adult last year, but this year I actually am one. I still miss my friends, but now I also have new ones. Plus I get to see Jim way more often, and the Toaster cat even lets me pet her some days. Life is pretty good.

     My birthday was on a Tuesday this year. The day that every week one of my coworkers tells me its "the most depressing day of the week," like it's the first time she's telling anyone. I decided that my only birthday celebration couldn't just be on the most depressing day of the week. That's not how birthdays are done.

     I'm not even the type of person who likes big celebrations. All I wanted was my traditional toasted raviolis, and to see the people I care about. I didn't ask for any presents.

     On the Friday before my birthday, I texted Jim while I was at work, asking him if he was going to dinner with the guys, like usual. I said that I desperately need to be invited this time because obviously. Work has been pushing me to my limits lately, so I was in need of some fatty foods and a beer. We went to dinner with his friend Neal, then walked around the corner to have a few more beers on the patio at the bar next door. Once the rain started rolling in, we decided we were having too much fun, so we all went back to Neal's house, invited over another one of our friends, and had an impromptu party.

     On the Thursday before my birthday, I did the most adult thing ever, and called my traditional birthday restaurant to make reservations for that Saturday. Yikes, I hate talking on the phone. I managed to get my family all together on the Saturday night before my birthday, including both of my parents, all of my siblings, my Grandma, and of course Jim. Trust me, this is not an easy thing to do with how busy we all are. I had my favorite ever toasted ravioli, and we had some pretty entertaining conversations, thanks to all the philosophical questions that my mom was able to think up. :)

     After dinner, Jim and I went back to his apartment, and he surprised me with a few presents. We watched a movie and ate s'mores blizzards from Dairy Queen. But the most exciting part of the day was when Toast jumped up on the couch, let me pet her for a few minutes, and almost laid in the nest that I made with me. So close.

     On Sunday, I did regular human things. I went grocery shopping, cleaned my apartment, did a few errands. But I also stopped at Starbucks and got a free giant coffee. Score.

     On Monday, I took a break from birthday festivities, and went back to real life. I even ate my vegetables.

     Tuesday was the big day. But really, I had celebrated the weekend before, so I was almost partied out. But it wouldn't count if my actual birthday wasn't better than May 17th of last year. I still did the adult thing, and I went to work. My boss didn't get me a card, which is rude. Especially since I signed three birthday cards for my coworkers in April. Whatever. I was awarded this certificate of appreciation by a person on one of my teams in Tennessee. I made a joke that I only got it since it was my birthday, but she didn't even know that it was my birthday.

     After work, Jim and I went to Kirkwood Station Brewery. The Co-Director of the nonprofit that I am volunteering for wanted to pay for a dinner for just Jim and I for my birthday, which was an unexpected surprise. So she called the restaurant ahead of time to cover our whole meal in advacne. It was really sweet of her. We ate a Cajun style pizza, toasted raviolis, and fries. I sufficiently pigged out. Plus, Kirkwood Station has my favorite beer, Blackberry Wheat. We ate way too much, and complained about our jobs. It was a pretty darn good evening, all in all.

     When I got home, I did some yoga. I ate some ice cream even though I was stuffed. I pampered myself a little bit by touching up my nail polish and washing my face with my favorite new soap. Then I tucked myself into bed nice and early. It was a great birthday. It beat last year by a landslide.

     And the birthday festivities still aren't over! Next week, I'll be getting dinner with my Grandparents one night, and dinner with my Fairy Godmother another. Moral of the story is: if you tell people that you want dinner for your birthday, you will get more meals than you can handle!


     At long last, the post-vacation chaos has started to die down and I can share all of my pictures from Mexico with the world! How is it ...

Mexico 2016

     At long last, the post-vacation chaos has started to die down and I can share all of my pictures from Mexico with the world! How is it that everything in the world has to happen right after vacation? Shouldn't that be illegal? It should be required that a person has a post-vacation, ease you back into life week...

     Vacation was a blast! Our trip started off with waking up way too early in the morning to catch our flight to Cancun. Our flight was nice and quick, it only took about two and a half hours instead of the three hours that we were anticipating. We made it to the shuttle to take us to our resort, and lucky for us, we were the first stop! Our resort, Secrets Silversands, was about 15 minutes away from the airport, while other groups had about a 40 minute drive.

     When we got to the resort, they gave us the sales pitch, asking us if we wanted to upgrade our room to an ocean view room. We said, nah, we'd rather see what our current room is first. We wound up with a beautiful ocean and garden view because we were on the top floor. There also wasn't anyone in the rooms around us, until the last two days. It was really peaceful. Plus the rooms themselves were gorgeous! They are super modern and very neat. The only complaint would be the bathroom situation.. which was open to the rest of the room so you could enjoy the view from the bathtub. The toilet was "closed in" by a glass door which didn't actually shut. This being a couples' resort, nothing says romance like spending a week hearing bathroom noises.. If you weren't comfortable with you significant other before this, you sure are now!

     The weather was beautiful the whole time. There was only one day where it was overcast for about 20 minutes. That day, we were on the beach, and we all took a nap on the beach until the clouds blew away. It was so great!

      We spent the whole trip bouncing between the beach and the pool. The beach was a small, and the ocean was a little rocky, but it was beautiful. Even though it was small, it was the right size for the resort, and it never felt crowded. There was a "preferred" section of the beach, which no one was ever at. There weren't any huts or umbrellas in that section, but the chairs were much more comfortable! There were bartenders who came down to the beach to make sure you always had a drink.

     The pools were really awesome too. There was an infinity pool, which was really neat. It was pretty cold, but I liked hanging out in that pool. Surprisingly, there weren't ever many people in that pool. The main pool was happening though. There were tons of activities, like aerobics classes, sports contents, and dancing in the main pool. Also, there was a bar built into the pool, so you can see why most people liked hanging out in that one. If you wanted to socialize, that was the pool to be in.

     Speaking of activities, every morning except for Sunday, there was a beach side yoga class. The class was taught in this little covering/hut right out on the ocean. It was beautiful and serene. I didn't go every morning because I was too busy having fun, but it was still one of my favorite parts about the trip. I didn't take near as many yoga pictures as I had hoped for, but the ones I do have turned out awesome. These resorts host different yoga teachers every week, and I could really see myself doing that one day..

     The resort had tons of good food too. Every morning, there was a breakfast buffet. They made some really excellent Mexican style eggs. For lunch, you could either go to a buffet, one of the poolside restaurants, or there was a barefoot bar that served snacks and hamburgers. We were normally too full from breakfast, so we just ate snacks for lunch. At dinner, there was tons of variety in restaurants. There was an Italian place, a steak place, a French place, a seafood place, a Mexican place, and a Japanese place.

   Out of the whole trip, our favorite place to hang out was at the beach bar. We went there every night after dinner. Sitting by the ocean, having a few drinks, and feeling that amazing breeze.. I don't think there was anything better than that. Some nights it was even almost cold sitting at that beach bar. We also hung out there during the day a few times. We spent almost the whole first day there, and we went there later in the week after getting pretty sunburned the day before.

     Everyone keeps on asking me how I'm making the adjustment from vacation back to work. Originally, my response had been, "Well, being here is not the same as waking up, taking a few steps, and doing yoga on the beach, but I'll live.." But now that the past two weeks have gone by, I am begging for another vacation. The world has done it's worst to make sure to remind me that work is work. I have been more busy these past few weeks than I was in the whole month leading up to vacation.. and I was busy then too! Ah, life..