Sit Still, Look Pretty

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my jams, which is probably because it’s been a while since one has taken hold in my head. At a recent third birthday party, the guest of honor’s mother asked if I’d heard Sit Still, Look Pretty and played it for me. I’d heard it once, but hadn’t paid much attention it. She asked because it seemed her two kids – 9 and 3 – and I seemed to typically like the same music and this was their latest fav (we’ll just leave that comment about the comparison of my musical taste alone…).

It’s got such a catchy whistle intro that you can’t help but get hooked. And the chorus is almost enough to unseat my tried and true at-bat song. I’ve been struggling a bit with motivation recently and there’s nothing quite like a good pick-me-up jam to remind me of my plans for world domination. Thanks, Daya!

Oh I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah that is where I’m gonna be, because I wanna be
No I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty


On the Job

Stars, Snacks and Naps

A client I’ve been working with has been encouraging attendance at their monthly lunch and learns with some name plate swag afterwards. It’s nothing fancy – they started with putting gold stars on everyone’s name plate after the first lunch and learn. Then it was a smiley face ticket, a flower and so on. It’s been fun to watch the office fill up with bright colors and a little bit of fun as the year progresses.

It’s also been really fun to watch everyone get excited to receive their swag stickers after each event. As the swag is distributed after each lunch and learn, people are eager to see what they get this time. They love their owls, their festive fireworks and flags and it’s a reminder to me that we don’t change much from our early school days. We still love gold stars and stickers, and it’s nice to be recognized with a little fun.  It’s the same reason I never have a training session without snacks. Now if I could just figure out a way to work naps into the regular work routine, we’d complete the trifecta and I’d be a happy camper. Just one more way it seems we really did learn everything we need to know in kindergarten.

Awesomeness in the World Libby


Here are the top five things I love about summer:

  1. Relaxation: Once school is out, it seems that everyone – kids and adults alike – has shifted into relaxation mode. It’s weird – I see it in parents, co-workers, friends and myself. It’s like a switch has been flipped and suddenly people slow down and are friendlier, not any less busy, really, but with a different laid-back type of attitude. I love it and it’s contagious!
  2. Daylight:  It’s so awesome that it stays lighter out longer – it makes it seem like you actually have time to get things done (maybe that’s why we’re feeling more relaxed!). I’m pretty sleepy in general, but having it still light out at 8/8:30 gives me the extra boost I need to stay up until 9 or so…night owl – hoot, hoot!
  3. Music: Not only do I hear music everywhere – in the downtown common area, out of houses, in cars – but it’s all the catchy stuff. I think they wait until summer to release the catchiest, ear wormiest of pop, and the oldies bring back those summer memories from long ago.
  4. Food: Summer has great food – all that fresh produce, seasonal beers and drinks, grilling…awesome! And when it’s hot, it’s hard to overeat – it’s a lot easier to eat healthier in the summer (which is helpful for getting into that bathing suit).
  5. Family: Whether they’re your blood relatives or friends that feel like family, summertime is always the time when gatherings happen organically, when busy people can come together to relax, eat, and listen to music into the evenings…it’s fun and friendly.

What are you doing this summer?  See you at the pool!

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head

Teachable Travel

So our Good for the Soul Creative Community has been a little quiet recently and some of that was due to launching the pilot training I described. However, in addition to that, I’ve been getting ready for a long vacation in New Zealand (when it takes almost 30 hours to travel there, you want to make sure you’re there for a while!). I write this post in Franz Josef  while we wait for the skies to clear up a bit so we can go explore the nearby Fox Glacier.

In the spirit of Libby’s lists and what she learned from her vacation last year, I thought I’d create my own list of what I’ve experienced so far and how it relates to life outside of travel.

  1. Share your excitement with others – it’s contagious. Just before we were leaving (actually on the the way to the airport), I needed to stop by my doctor’s office for a quick cortisone injection to calm down an angry hip. In the course of trying to move things along so we could officially start vacation, I mentioned our trip and everyone wanted to talk about it. The nurse wanted to know where we were going, the physician’s assistant gave us some great recommendations from her visit to New Zealand last summer and the doctor wanted to know how much Lord of the Rings stuff we were doing (spoiler alert: none). It was really fun to share my excitement with them and watch their perk up in the middle of their work days.
  2. Plan to your own level of comfort. My husband and I approach vacation planning very differently. He’s satisfied once the itinerary is set to not worry about it again until he’s packing for the trip (which is typically the day of or the night before, but no earlier). I tend to be on the other side of the spectrum. While I don’t necessarily start physically packing until closer to departure, I begin packing several weeks out to make sure I’ll have what I need and can make the best of the trip, especially on a long trip that this where the temperatures will vary by more than 40 degrees as we travel around. I want to make sure I’m ready. We’ve traveled together enough now that we know this about each other and have learned not to force what makes us comfortable onto the other (well, most of the time, anyway…)
  3. It can be nice to unplug. For the longest leg of our trip (a 14+ hour flight from Houston to Auckland), we had no internet. I’ve always been a little hesitant to connect at 30,000 feet if for no other reason than it’s one of the last places where it was okay to be out of touch. Having said that, I’ve become accustomed to being connected. And while crammed into an airplane seat for that amount of time wasn’t the most fun part, it was nice to take a break from the rest of the world for a bit. I read, watched a couple movies, managed to get some sleep and started to focus on getting ready to be on vacation. It was a nice little buffer time.
  4. Recognize when you’re done (and it’s okay to be done!). When we arrived in Queenstown, we did out best to keep going so we could get over the jet lag and get on local time. We were doing pretty well until we went to grab an early dinner. By the time the food came out, my husband and I were snipping at each, apologizing for said snipping and really just trying to keep out heads off the table. We were exhausted and DONE. We scrapped our plans to explore Queenstown that night and just headed back to the hotel to crash. We realized everything would still be there in the morning. There’s nothing wrong with changing plans so you can fully enjoy them (and still be speaking to your travel partner after the first day). 😉

I’ll have more to share about our adventures, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with our view of Queenstown during our first day of exploring. Enjoy!


Queenstown, NZ
Hello, Queenstown!


Awesomeness in the World




Happy Friday, friends! We’re going to keep it simple today. Enjoy your weekend!

Inside My Head Libby

Snow Bound

Last week, the Washington, DC area got rocked by a blizzard. There was a lot of hype and hullabaloo preceding the “snow event,” but it was warranted – the area got hit with anywhere from 20 – 36 inches of snow. CRAZY. And it was crazy – everything was shut down: Metro, the federal government, fast food establishments. Here are some observations:

  1. Nature is something. Watching the entire blizzard process was incredible – the snow, the wind, a fox that was running around in the front yard trying to figure out where to go…amazing. To see how the snow accumulated, especially waking up in the morning and the landscape and totally changed, was remarkable. Being blinded by the sun sparkling on the snow and seeing the trees decorated as if in a Macy’s Christmas window makes me happy. Nature!
  2. “A sweater is something you have to wear when your mother feels cold.” I think this is a Nora Ephron quote, or maybe Oscar Wilde (thanks a lot, internet…) and it has been hammered home these past several days while cabin-fevered up with my seven-year-old son. “Put some socks on!” “Mom, my feet are hot!” I think it’s too cold to go outside, and he is outside tunneling through snow for hours. To me, snow means we can’t go anywhere, to him it means he doesn’t have to go anywhere [school]! As usual, it is all about perspective. Which also reminds me that I am ridiculously thankful I am “imprisoned” in a warm house with plenty of food, cable and internet.
  3. The Martian is inspirational. If you haven’t seen it yet, it really is impressive – although ridiculously suspenseful (I had to make my parents tell me the ending halfway through because I couldn’t take it). If you think “surviving” the blizzard is tough, try being abandoned on Mars. It made me realize how impressive our meteorologists are, that they used science to predict all of what would happen and prepared us well, probably saving many lives. Best takeaway from the movie is to find ways to “science the shit out of” life’s challenges. Not sure that will get me more half-n-half for this morning’s coffee, but it is definitely a way to look at other obstacles in my life moving forward. (My science-brained husband may be more useful than I thought!)
  4. Jack Daniels knows how to make friends. When it was finally over, my dad and I were out shoveling the driveway making incremental headway. A neighbor down the street used his snowblower to clear the sidewalk all the way to our house. Dad went inside and got the bottle of Jack to help warm the guy up and say thank you – next thing I know, there are four other neighbors hanging out, drinking and shooting the breeze. I didn’t even know there were that many people in the neighborhood!
  5. Family. Because we were worried about losing power, I left my husband holding down the home front and went to my parents’ house where they rarely lose power (thank you, underground power lines!). My worries were not realized (phew) but I knew my husband would be okay, while if we had stayed, I would have worried about my parents and about my son. And everyone else in the family was worried about all of us here – phone calls were coming in from Ukraine, Buffalo, Boston and Scotland to check on us. It was nice to know so many people care about us, but being apart from loved ones is the biggest challenge of the whole endeavor. Stay warm, safe and snuggled if you can!

– Libby Bingham

Ashley Karen Libby Melissa New Friends

We’re Not Very Good at Selfies

Last night, I had a celebratory thank you dinner with most of our amazing bloggers. Libby, Ashley and Melissa joined me for an evening full of stories, laughs and advice over delicious eats and wine. Sadly, Karen wasn’t able to join us since a cross-country flight seemed a bit excessive for dinner, though we hope to all be together sometime soon.

I adore these women, and I wanted to take just a moment to thank them for sharing their time, insights and wisdom with our Good for the Soul Creative Community. They each bring diverse points of view, unique experiences and a worldview that is wholly their own. Yet, in all this, I believe they share a common core. Melissa, Ashley, Libby and Karen each approach the world with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in getting to know those around them. They want to understand their friends, family and colleagues and know what’s important to them. They want to be there to celebrate accomplishments and provide support when things go sideways. And they’re generous with their thoughts, which is incredibly valuable. They share what’s happening in their heads, which makes it each to connect with them and make it safe to share your own thoughts. I’m incredibly lucky to have them all in my life, and I value them tremendously.

And while we’re impressively good at some things, selfies clearly isn’t one of those things (I’ll take all the blame for this one). But we’re good at appreciating great company and that’s the most important thing. Thank you to these women for sharing themselves and thank you for sharing in this journey with us.

Melissa, Catherine, Ashley and Libby (and Karen in spirit!)
Awesomeness in the World Libby

Coming of Age

Last week I had dinner with some women I’ve been friends with since junior high…I won’t tell you how many years that’s been, but suffice it to say, we’ve been adults for a long, long time. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like it, both in good ways and in bad. Here are some things that I observed during the course of two pitchers of Sangria:

  1. “I’m a needy person.” My friend told me that just recently she came to the realization that she’s a needy person; she was also slightly annoyed that I had never told her this. I reminded her that as youngsters, we constantly discussed her penchant for crying and her need to be the center of attention. I figured that would make her cry, but instead she said, “Oh, right…duh!”
  2. I’m like the glue? As I was growing up, I always felt a little on the fringes of our group, a part yet apart. My other friend said she found that very interesting as she had always thought of me as “the glue that held everyone together.” What a surprise! I wonder if she had shared that observation with me in 7th grade whether or not I would have truly felt more confident.
  3. Beware the mocking. With the cancellation of another, my third friend was relieved to have avoided some mocking for her lack of fashion sense. To me, it always seemed relatively harmless, but through some story sharing I got a better picture of her life as the 6th of 7 children with not a lot of money to waste. They were all encouraged to become runners for economical considerations, including even sharing shoes that were repaired with glue. I realized – once again – that things are truly never what they seem.
  4. Can I eat your fruit? Our fifth friend always had the reputation for being a goody-two shoes, but I think it really, truly came down to her being a good person. She is still the same, after marriage, kids, work drama – she has a very positive take on life. Not sure if that comes from her religious beliefs or her core make-up. Either way, she is an amazing person who has the ability to remind us of the good we can do. And she can knock back some Sangria fruit.

I felt there was a sense of relief from all of us in a way: we have always enjoyed each other, but finally, we’re able to let our true and full selves show and still accept each other, maybe more now than ever before. It is a shame that it has taken so many years, but a feeling of comfort and confidence with longtime friends is an incredible gift to have. I hope that I was able contribute to the healing of old wounds, and offer support to them all in ways they need it. I look forward to years of continued fun and warmth with these friends…happy holidays to us, and to you and all the people you’re in touch with!

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Gabriel

Good Luck, Gabriel!

At the beginning of this year, I introduced you to Gabriel Oigbokie and he was kind enough to share some of his inner thoughts with us (my personal favorite was the connection he and I shared with Chipotle’s paper bag wisdom). It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Gabriel and I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging. It’s been a busy past few months for our friend. As he eluded to back in March, Gabriel was thinking about packing up and moving across the country to California. Well, that thinking turned to planning and planning turned to moving and Gabriel set off for California last month.

This is the sort of situation for which ‘bittersweet’ was created. I am sad to not have Gabriel right across town and know I can find him hanging out at John Fluevog Shoes in Georgetown. However, I am trilled for this new chapter in his life and so proud of him for taking a huge leap into the unknown. I’m also hopeful we won’t have heard the last from Gabriel here. I know he’s headed for big things and hopefully he’ll still be willing to share his voice with us here from time to time again. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in wishing Gabriel all the best in his new adventures. We love you and can’t wait to see what you do next, friend. xo


Ashley Awesomeness in the World Uncategorized

5 Things for which I’m Thankful

It’s only fitting that this is the time of year we stop and reflect on the things that make us warm and fuzzy inside and the things that make our days a little brighter. I’ll spare you from the warm and fuzzy (husband, family, my sweet pup — you get the picture) and focus on some of the not-so-glamorous little things that make my days better, brighter, easier.

  1. My new iPhone 6S – It’s a digital world, folks! My iPhone is about a month old now, and I am thrilled with the battery life improvement — no more “oh no! my phone is going to die!” end-of-day stress. I’m also thankful it’s working beautifully (knock on wood), despite being dropped in the toilet for 2 seconds at a dive bar a few weeks ago; of course only after all the wisdom of the internet plus a bag of rice (and a good sanitation session).
  2. – My friend and colleague, Melissa, has been frightened by the number of email notifications my phone displays in that scary red circle. It scares me too, so when she mentioned and the daily roll up, I knew I should probably give it a shot. I finally did this weekend and I’m already sooooo happy my inbox is less frightening.
  3. Sparkling water – I’ve been addicted to sparkling water for awhile, and debated whether or not to just buy a soda stream. I couldn’t justify it so my go-to is the Poland Spring brand from Whole Foods. When I feel like treating myself though, I buy the beautiful, glass bottled Whole Foods Italian Sparkling Mineral Water, preferably strawberry.
  4. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream – My colleague and I have been sharing skin care products and routines recently and this will forever be my favorite daily use product. Unscented, non-oily, no frills really — just straight up moisture. Go get a tub of this stuff right now.
  5. Nylabone Oral Care dog treats – I know what you’re thinking…what in the world? But hear me out. Who wants a snuggly 9lb teddy-bear pup with stinky breath?! My sweet pup is almost five years old and the older he gets, the more his dental health declines. Totally natural, but a challenge nonetheless. We brush his teeth to keep plaque at bay (have you ever seen this process? It’s a sight!), but these dental treats have been knocking it out of the park. They’re like doggy crack, too. He’s obsessed.

So there you have it; some of the tangible, bizarre things I can’t live without and for which I am truly thankful. I hope you, too, will stop to appreciate some of the little things this season. And I hope the warm and fuzzy stuff is making you grin ear to ear, too!

– Ashley Respecki