Archive | 40 Experiences RSS feed for this section

#39 Find my Soul Mate, Fall in Love and Get Married–Part 2

14 Oct

It happened! I met my soul mate, my match. I fell madly, deeply in love. And now I’m a married woman living my happily ever after.

SHANNON_N-889

On September 22, 2018, in front of our closest family and friends, on a beautiful beach in Mexico, Mychael and I proclaimed our love for each other. It was such a special day, and really an unforgettable week.

SHANNON_N-860

We decided early on in the wedding planning process that we wanted to do a destination wedding. A couple of years ago, we attended my cousin Ali’s wedding in Tulum and had the most incredible time. It wasn’t about the actual wedding day per say, although that was lovely, it was about all the quality time we got to spend with everyone. We loved so many things about that trip that we decided to do something really similar. Fortunately my cousin is really cool and was flattered, not upset, when I called to ask if we could model our wedding after hers.

We worked with an awesome travel agency out of Dallas called Legacy Travel. Our travel agent Lesley was super helpful from the get-go. She made venue recommendations and arranged for us to do a site check trip. We looked at 8 hotels in the Riviera Maya, specifically in Playa Mujeres, Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. In the end, we decided on Dreams Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos. The hotel was tucked away and felt very private, but was still only a short distance to the airport, which was something we kept in mind for some of our older guests and those that were apprehensius about traveling out of the country. It is an all-inclusive resort, which looks expensive upfront, but when you factor in food and alcohol costs, it’s actually a great deal (especially considering how much our friends and family like to drink 🍻).

We worked with their in-house wedding planning staff to put together the event of our dreams (well, really just mine…I don’t think Mychael ever dreamed of his wedding 😆). They do a ton of weddings at this hotel, so I felt really confident in their ability to pull it off. We planned to have our ceremony right on the beach, no shoes required, the cocktail hour on a restaurant rooftop at sunset, and the reception on a deck on the beach.

You always hear people complain about wedding planning, but for me, it was really fun. It probably helps that event planning is a part of my job and both my parents are in marketing so they had great advice. I tried hard to think through every little detail to ensure the trip would be a memorable experience for all our guests. Our ultimate goal was to throw an amazing party so people would have a great time celebrating and getting to know each other.

When the week came, we were ready to go. We’d packed up several big suitcases of decorations and sent one with each of our parents (I’d ordered a lot of stuff…I wish Etsy had something equivalent to a frequent flyer program! They literally have anything you can think of for weddings and believe me, I put that site to the the test.)

My parents spoiled us and upgraded everything about our trip, so we were picked up by a car service and taken to the airport. Then hung at the lounge and flew first class.

When we changed planes in LA, they surprised us by booking the seats right across from us (we didn’t think they were coming until the next day!). I love surprises so much and it was so fun to travel with them to Cancun.

Once we got to the hotel, everything went by so quickly. The first couple of days were filled with wedding-related meetings to make sure everything was ready to go. And then before you know it, the wedding activities began!

We had a welcome karaoke party so everyone could get to know each other over a few (or 10 drinks).

The following night was the rehearsal dinner. It was a beautiful private dinner that felt like we were eating in the jungle. Following dinner, we had a surprise fire dancer show. It was pretty cool!

And before you know it, it was the BIG DAY! My amazing maid-of-honor Anita got some super-cute matching bathing suits for the bridesmaids and my girls and I did a fun photoshoot that morning.

20180922_104407(0)20180922_110134-ANIMATION20180922_11113520180922_112949

And then it was time to head to the spa to get ready. I invited the bridesmaids, flower girl, the moms and Mychael’s sister to all get ready together, so we completely took over the spa. It was so fun!

SHANNON_N-369

Then, we went back to my room to all get dressed, hang out and toast with some champagne.

And I found the sweetest card from Mychael.

SHANNON_N-405

He’s not a mushy guy, so this meant so much to me. It talked about how people kept asking if he was nervous, but he wasn’t. He was sure. It resonated because I felt the exact same way. I wasn’t nervous about marrying him or spending the rest of my life with him. I was excited. This was the moment I’d been waiting for and I had found the man of my dreams.

It all came and went in a flash.

Family is really important to both Mychael and I so our ceremony consisted of only family members. My dad was our officiant (and he nailed it…funny and sentimental at the same time), Mychael’s dad did a special Irish bell ringing ceremony to honor their family’s heritage, his sister did a sweet reading about love and my brother did a more light-hearted reading from The Wedding Singer. Our ceremony was heart-felt and there were some candid moments that I will treasure forever. It was perfect. Everything I had ever imagined and so much more.

From there we took a million photos (Mychael’s personal nightmare) and our guests headed to the cocktail hour.

During the cocktail hour it started pouring. We knew this was coming and had planned earlier in the day to move the reception inside. Ideally it would have held off another 30 minutes, but the staff was really on top of it and moved everyone downstairs inside the restaurant just in time to avoid the rain and finish up the cocktail hour. It wasn’t my dream to have the reception in a ballroom, but in the end it wasn’t a big deal. Everyone had a great time and some people even said they liked it better because there was air conditioning. And the staff did a great job of making it look beautiful.

Our wedding was an incredible day, but moreso than that, the week was an unforgettable celebration of love. And man, it was fun. All our friends and family meshed so well and we’ve even seen new friendships forming because of that trip. I had the best time ever and I wish we could do it all again. Maybe I can talk Mychael into inviting 75 of our closest family and friends on a trip to celebrate our first anniversary. 😉

SHANNON_N-863

 

Advertisements

#18 Weigh the Weight Listed On My Driver’s License

17 Sep

This is a goal that I wasn’t sure was even possible. I have never updated my driver’s license and thus it’s set at the weight I was in high school….a time when you can eat whatever you want and not gain a pound.

License

After getting engaged at the end of September 2017, I knew I wanted to lose some weight and get toned for the wedding. The dreary San Francisco weather had gotten me accustomed to comfort food and cozy sweaters. And once we decided on a destination wedding (read: spending time with all our friends and family in a bikini 👙) I was dead set on getting abs. So at the start of the year, I set a wedding resolution, not a New Year’s resolution because statistically those don’t typically work, to get into shape.

My whole life I have never really cared about weight per say. The numbers on the scale can make you feel really bad about yourself when you actually look great. And we all know that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re strong, your weight won’t necessarily be as low as you might like. All that aside though, I had set this goal on my list and I figured this was the most likely time to check it off. I made sure to keep my ultimate goal in mind though because while it would be great to accomplish the weight loss, I wanted to be strong, not skinny.

Generally, I’m a pretty motivated person. If I set an absolute like, “I’m not eating any sweets,” I’m pretty good at sticking to it. I know myself well enough to know that I need these absolutes in the beginning to get myself on the right track. So that’s where I started…no sweets and cook dinner at home at least three times per week. (Thankfully I live with a very talented chef, so the cooking part wasn’t as challenging as it could have been.) Then we added in a couple of other things like making our own pizzas on a healthy crust instead of eating out and, probably the most difficult one for me, limiting tortilla chips (my fav!).

I also started bumping up my workout routine, but I approached it in a different way than I had in the past. I tried everything and never did the same thing in one week. I did Pilates, yoga, Mychael’s Fit Phases program, Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory, Body by Simone, circuit workouts in Mychael’s gym, running, swimming, spinning, dance classes…you name it. It was really fun switching things up so much and trying new things. I planned my workouts for the week on Sunday, but kept things flexible and just did whatever I was feeling that day.

The food part is much more difficult for me in general. If I could work out twice per day and live on pizza and tortilla chips, I’d be in heaven. Unfortunately though, that’s not the way it works. So I started food logging. It was surprising to see how many calories were in some of my favorite foods. After logging all the separate ingredients in one of my go-to take-out salads, I might as well have just had pizza. It was very eye opening and forced me to make some additional changes to my diet. I started everyday with an Herbalife cookies ‘n creme shake (delicious, healthy and full of vitamins). Mychael is a rep so I knew about the products, but hadn’t used them regularly before. Then for lunch, I started going to the grocery store near my office and buying all the ingredients to make my own salads so I could ensure there weren’t any hidden calories. For dinner, Mychael made lots of delicious dishes that always consisted of a lean protein and veggies.

I actually started logging everything in the Fitbit app. I pretty much lived by it. (Full disclosure, I work at Fitbit, but aside from having access to Fitbit trackers, there really isn’t any advantage there.) I made sure to drink at least 100 ounces of water per day; tried REALLY hard to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night; almost always got my 10,000 daily steps; and kept track of my exercise. This was all gradual though. I didn’t just jump right into all these big changes, but worked my way up to hitting all these goals.

StepsSleepCalories

By food logging in the app and using the connected scale (Fitbit Aria 2), I was able to make sure I was staying at a calorie deficit. That’s not to say I didn’t have cheat days. I allowed myself to indulge on special occasions…I had Susie Cakes at my bridal shower, margaritas at my bachelorette, Mexican food on my birthday, etc. I didn’t take anything to a crazy extreme and allowed myself to take a break, but then jumped right back into my healthy habits afterwards. Overall I did more good than bad. By giving myself plenty of time to reach my goal, I had room for cheat days, which is a much more realistic and sustainable way to approach weight loss and fitness.

In the beginning it was really difficult. I’m sure there were changes happening on the inside, but I wasn’t seeing the immediate results I was hoping for. What the heck?! At the encouragement of my motivating and super cute trainer, I kept at it. And eventually, I started to see results. I very clearly remember the first time I saw my abs starting to come out. 💪

I weighed myself every Friday morning for consistency and started to see the numbers slowly go down. And on Friday, September 14, I hit my goal! 120 pounds!

IMG_4570

Weight

Scale image is from Friday, Sept. 14. I weighed myself again on the 17th and it went down a little bit, but I didn’t have my phone handy to get another pic, hence the slight discrepancy.

So, I’m sorry to say that there’s no trick, no secret pill, no special diet that got me here. The “trick” is everything you already know – move every day, don’t eat crap, drink water and get sleep. And while it took some time to adjust, now it’s just a new lifestyle…one that is sustainable and not a crash wedding diet.

Weight Loss_Front

Weight Loss_Side

I’m really proud of all the work I put in and the progress I made. Mexico here I come!

Strong

#38 Take an epic road trip

16 Sep

Being in a relationship means you have to make some compromises, and this becomes very apparent during the holidays. When I was single, I went home for every major holiday, but now with Mychael in the picture, he wants to spend some of them with his family as well…imagine that! So now it’s a trade-off and we spent Christmas 2017 in Indiana. We had a great time with his daughter and parents, and we even got some snow, which you don’t see in Sacramento.

Mychael, being the money-conscious adventurer he is, typically drives home for the holidays. He saves tons of money on flights and gets to stop and see new things on his way to Indiana. I’m usually more of a “let’s just get there” sort of girl, so I typically fly, but this last year my curiosity got to me and I decided to join Mychael for an epic road trip from Indiana to California.

I’d always loved the idea of a road trip, but that just wasn’t the way my family typically travelled. Fortunately, I had a pro taking me out on the road for this adventure.

The first day we drove and drove and drove. Most of the places we wanted to stop were a little further along the route, so we tried to knock out as many miles as possible that first day. We did make one pretty awesome stop at the largest truck stop in the world. It was actually impressive….they had everything, a doctor, a food court, and even a big rig INSIDE the building.

That day we made it all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska, but arrived in the middle of a snowstorm. We were driving at the same speed I run so we decided to call it a night and stay there. We found a cute restaurant for dinner and a nice little motel and once we weren’t driving in it we could appreciate how pretty the snow was.

The next day we got up early and hit the road for Wyoming. Neither of us had spent much time there, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. IMG_3222

We didn’t have time to go north to Jackson, so we ended up at the Terry Bison Ranch in Cheyenne. This place was so interesting. It felt a bit like a dude ranch mixed with a zoo of exotic animals. Not only did they have bison, but they also had camels, emus, lamas and ostriches, among other things. We rode a stuffed buffalo and jackalope, posed for photos in front of the western façade, met some animals and got some sweet t-shirts. We even saw a wedding. It was such a unique, fun stop.

Following that, we got back on the road and spent the night just outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

The next morning we were on a mission to find hot springs. Mychael is a hot springs expert so he already had one all planned out for us – Fifth Water Hot Springs. We could drive to the parking lot outside the hiking trail, hike two miles and get to a really beautiful springs. Well, when we arrived, part of the road was closed due to the snow, but we just went for it anyway…ended up being a six-mile hike each way. We didn’t really have the right shoes for such a long snow hike, and Mychael was of course in shorts, but we made it work.

And man, was it worth it. The hot springs were incredible. They were bright teal and turquoise and looked almost fake against the bright white snow. There were a surprising amount of people up there too, given how far the hike was. But hey, we all got our exercise for the day. We hung out for a while and made some new friends, then decided to make the trek back.

Following that, we had to make up some time so we did another long afternoon of driving to Nevada. That night we stayed at the scariest hotel I’ve ever been to in Wells. To be fair, it’s a really small town and there just aren’t a lot of options, but this was a run-down hotel that I’m pretty sure was used in a horror movie. We were so tired though that we just didn’t think about it and went to sleep.

The next morning we drove just out of town to the 12-Mile Hot Springs. This place was so cool that it was worth the creepy hotel stay. We drove down a deserted road, past a ghost town, out into the middle of nowhere.

IMG_3391

At one point the road got so bad that we couldn’t drive anymore, so we parked our car just randomly in the middle of a field and covered the rest on foot (Mychael, still in shorts of course).

The hike was nothing compared to the other day and when we got to the hot spring, there were only two people there who were leaving. This one was so different than what we had seen the day prior. It was in beautiful valley with nothing else around. We ended up having the springs all to ourselves for quite a while until we decided to get back on the road.

 

From there, we wrapped up our trip with a stop by my parents’ house in Sacramento to celebrate my dad’s birthday/New Year’s Eve.

IMG_3467

We had the best time on our road trip. Even the time we spent just driving in the car was a blast. Together, we have so much fun no matter what we’re doing. And I’m sold on this road trip thing. Can’t wait for the next one!

IMG_3288

#27 Buy a Condo/House

19 Jan

Yeah, that’s right…I think this officially makes me a grown-up. On March 23, 2017, we bought a house!

17457486_10210280837952283_8762717643760904292_n

Now, when I first put this on the list I figured I’d be buying a house in LA on my own, hence the “condo/” addition. But, like I said, I’ve been working on #39, so now I have a partner in all these important life moments.

When we made the big move from Santa Monica to San Francisco in March 2015, we looked to rent an apartment/condo similarly sized to our place in LA. We had an amazing thing going in Santa Monica – 3 bedroom, 2 bath, walking distance to the beach – so we knew it wouldn’t be quite the same, but we had no idea what we were in for up in the Bay Area. We ended up finding a 2 bedroom, 1 bath in the outskirts of the city for 150% what we were paying in LA.

IMG_8045_1024

We were optimistic and we were still walking/riding distance to the beach, but we had to trade in our bathing suits for sweatshirts. We quickly came to learn though that the city wasn’t the place for us. The weather was just such a downer.

In spring 2016, we came to the realization that for the amount we were paying to rent a condo in the city, we could buy a house in the East Bay. So in July we started casually looking. We weren’t really ready to buy, but we wanted to see what was out there and what we could realistically afford.

We looked at houses in “up-and-coming” areas of Oakland, but it didn’t exactly feel safe and some of the spaces were…creative.

IMG_4950

We looked at a “fixer-upper” in Piedmont and after that decided to add walls and floors to our checklist.

IMG_4945

We worked our way further and further from San Francisco and finally stumbled on a cute city called Concord. Concord is up-and-coming in a much less scary way than Oakland. It’s older and some houses could use some work, but you don’t need to get a concealed carry permit to walk alone at night. 😉

We kept casually looking for a couple of months and then had one lucky weekend where we found not one, but two houses we loved! That was a Saturday. By Tuesday we had a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, we were pre-approved for a loan and we put in an offer. Everything happened SO fast!

After a little bit of negotiation (while I was in NY for work) and beating out 11 other offers, we got the place! It was the most exhilarating and, at the same time, scary experience of my life. But now we’re proud homeowners and, added bonus, turns out Mychael is quite the handy-man. 😃

IMG_9660

We’re almost ready to have people over, so get ready for the housewarming/1-year anniversary party, coming soon!

genMid.40770861_4

#39 Find my Soul Mate, Fall in Love and Get Married–Part 1

16 Jan

Well obviously I can’t completely check this one off the list yet, but I’ve made a ton of progress. This is actually a really lofty, three-part goal, of which I’m two thirds of the way done, so I figured it was worth a shout out. As probably the most important item on the list (or perhaps tied with #40, but I’ll let you know about that when I get there), needless to say it has taken a lot of time. This is perhaps the reason I took a four-year hiatus from this whole blogging thing.

You may remember the cute trainer that was introduced while I was checking #4 off the list (run a 10K). Well, I bought a Groupon for bootcamp classes, set out to get in shape and run a fun little race, but ended up joining a triathlon team, finding my soul mate and switching some things up that would completely change the trajectory of my life.

318223_10150857396130334_589541629_n

471671_10150866444935248_1784609729_o

(Best triathlon coach award…yeah, I ordered that trophy)

Mind you, I didn’t know how to swim and only owned a beach cruiser, but that didn’t stop me. Workout all the time? Sure, trainer Mychael. Join a triathlon team and nearly drown on the first day of swim practice? No biggie, Mychael. Dedicate all my free time to a sport I’d never really heard of before? Whatever you say, Mychael. Love is weird like that…it makes you do crazy things and at the time they make total sense.

1270353_10151615047950334_890579186_o

I knew instantly that he was the one. My roommate at the time, Beatrice Guapo, can attest to that. We watched a video of Mychael online the day before my first bootcamp class and I told her I was going to date him (I obviously couldn’t have done this blog post back then…crazy girl alert!!).

Now on his end, it wasn’t so quick. It took a long, painful year for me to wear him down and convince him it was ok to date a client. That people wouldn’t think he was a sleazy trainer because well, everyone already thought we were dating anyway!

Separate from the love element though, meeting Mychael really was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I started really enjoying working out and built a strong professional interest in sports and fitness that has shaped both my career and personal life.

Fast forward five years and here we are. I’m happier than I ever dreamed I could be. It’s something that’s incredibly difficult to put into words, but Mychael makes every day a little bit better. He’s the only one that can make me smile in any situation…and he does.

11692767_10205543302436856_7707364711799692993_n

On Mychael’s 40th birthday, we went up to Tahoe with a group of his friends to celebrate. At the end of dinner one night he started giving a speech. I was so confused because that is really out of character. As he kept talking, he started describing the first time he said “I love you.” Giving a speech was odd, but now publicly speaking about mushy emotional stuff made me wonder who this stunt double was in Mychael’s place. It finally dawned on me (not until the ring was in my hand), that he was proposing. It was such an incredible moment…unforgettable.

I’ve always aspired to have a relationship like my parents…married over 40 years and still madly in love…grab a quick kiss in the kitchen sort of love (something I thought was so gross when I was a kid). My mom always told me that their love grew over the years and I shouldn’t expect to be that close to someone right away. Well, after a year as Mychael’s client and best friend, 5 years as his girlfriend and a few months as his fiancé, I have a good idea what she was talking about. I can’t wait to become Mrs. Shannon.

22046703_10155744318735126_8944593306018821088_n

To be continued…

#8 Keep a Plant Alive for Three Months

4 Aug

After a bit of a hiatus, I’m happy to report that I’m back to blogging! I haven’t been completely slacking…I’ve been working on a couple of these more long-term goals, but nothing to cross of the list just yet (stay tuned). In the meantime though I’m going to give one of the most difficult things on here a try – keep a plant alive for 3 months (insert scary theme music here).

I’ve never had much of a green thumb, which is not entirely my fault as I’m pretty sure this is hereditary (I’m looking at you, mom :-)), so this one is going to be tough.

After an impromptu trip to The Home Depot yesterday (yes, my life is very exciting)…

 

I am the proud owner of a Fuchsia plant.

Fuchsia PlantIt has really pretty hot pink and purple flowers that hang down off the branches. There are a bunch of unopened pods, so hopefully soon I’ll have some really beautiful photos to share.

Wish me luck!

Me & Fuchsia Plant

#19 Go to the Magic Castle

31 Dec

images

Ever since I heard of the Magic Castle I wanted to go check it out. Yes, I’m intrigued by magic, but I also just hate that there’s an exclusive place I’m not allowed to go.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Magic Castle, it is the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts. Beginning with a charter membership of 150, it now boasts approximately 5,000 members. And not just anyone can go. You have to be specifically invited by one of the members to be allowed in.

Built as a private home in 1909, when the owner moved out, the mansion was divided into a multi-family home, then became a home for the elderly, and was finally transformed into a maze of small apartments. In September of 1961, Milt Larsen began renovations to turn the building into an elegant private club for magicians and on January 2, 1963, the Magic Castle opened its doors.

Back to the story…Somehow I got subscribed to the email list for a club called Things to Do LA and one day when going through the clutter in my inbox I came across an email from them that had “Magic Castle” in the subject line. I opened it up to find that the group was planning a trip to the illustrious club that would include a private show followed by the opportunity to roam the halls of the castle and take in other shows. I immediately bought two tickets (for me and new boyfriend Mychael).

As the day drew closer and the anticipation was building, I started to get really excited for what this evening of magic and mystery might hold. And when the night finally came, I could hardly wait. The dress code was fancy, including a dress or nice pants suit for ladies (sexy!) and a coat/tie for men (Mychael, being a t-shirt and shorts kind of guy, wasn’t too excited about that part). After changing in the office bathroom, Mychael picked me up and we were on our way to Hollywood.

After navigating through the craziness of rush hour Hollywood traffic and quickly grabbing a bite to eat, we pulled up to the Castle. Interestingly, it is located right behind the Hollywood & Highland complex. Who would have thought that right behind the cheesiness of Hollywood Blvd. there would be this cool building?

We turned over our car to the valet, were inspected by the doorman and let into the building. (They really weren’t joking about the dress code. A guy in front of us didn’t have a coat and they made him rent one for the evening.)

photo

Upon checking in with the hostess we were told to whisper “open sesame” to a little owl statue on the bookcase next to us and in a scene straight out of a Sherlock Holmes movie, the bookcase opened and a waiting area/bar was revealed!

We grabbed a drink and went to the private show. It was a pretty small group so it was cool to see all the tricks up close. From there we set out on our own to check out the other shows. At any given time, there are at least four different performances going on. We saw a few on smaller stages and the big show on the main stage. Personally, I really liked the smaller ones. They were a little less cheesy and I liked seeing everything up close. For some reason in nearly every show we went to they used Mychael to pick a card or somehow be involved. Must be that adorable smile. 🙂

photo2

We took in three performances and were just looking around on our way out the door when a random guy asked if we wanted to watch one more. He told us to sit at a table and we were joined by about 10 other people. This was by far the coolest part of the night. This magician practiced his tricks in an intimate performance just for us. And somehow I STILL couldn’t figure out any of his tricks!

I guess that’s part of the appeal of the club…world-famous magicians are walking the hallways taking in shows and looking for opportunities to practice their craft.

It was the perfect ending to a really cool night. And the most exciting news of all…since we purchased a photo, we got a pass to return with 8 of our friends! We’ll definitely be going back. And I’ll figure out some of their tricks!

Magic Castle_MS & NO

%d bloggers like this: