Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

5 activities for fun with girlfriends October 23, 2017

girlfriendsonwall

Sometimes simple fun is the best fun!

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by kind, courageous, fun people, including a wonderful group of women who I call my good friends. I’ve certainly learned over the years that it’s not the quantity of friends but the quality of friendships that help make life meaningful and fun. I love spending time with these friends. And as with most circumstances, it’s not so much what we do, simply that we’re spending time together.

2

One thing I look forward to during the cooler months is indoor fun with friends. Our activities of choice change a bit when the weather changes. Makes sense as we want to be outdoors to enjoy beautiful, sunny weather and move indoors when the weather isn’t so beautiful.

2

I love spending time with girlfriends, especially lately as I’ve really built some strong bonds with amazing women. We’ve been talking about activities and plans for the winter months. Here are some ideas I’m working to put on our calendars:

2

Ceramic/pottery studio: I recently went to a local ceramic studio with a girlfriend and had a blast creating a vase. I love being crafty and artsy so enjoy the opportunity to paint something to take home. It’s a nice time to relax with friends, enjoy girl talk and see what creativity we can spark.

2

Painting class: You may think you aren’t an artist and can’t paint, but the popular step by step painting classes are really for anyone. I’ve even seen great pieces by children! These group classes are often by reservation so get a group together, choose the piece to paint and get artsy. It’s fun to compare paintings at the end because no painting looks alike!

2
spinningclassImage

Motivate yourself with others!

Girls night in: Sometimes the best fun is hanging out at someone’s home, with drinks, food, movies, games or whatever, and girl talk! As much as I’m dreading the cold weather, I’m looking forward to inviting some girlfriends over, building a fire (a requirement with my new home!), serving snacks, pouring drinks and enjoying time with friends – perfect indoor fun.

2

Fitness class: While not everyone loves to work out, many of my friends are willing to try classes if someone goes with them. And I’m usually ‘that friend’ who is game to try something new! Indoor cycling, Zumba, Pilates, yoga, boxing, water aerobics, whatever. There are SO many choices of fitness classes (almost too many) and it’s always better with a partner or three! I love attending Zumba classes for the great exercise I get while dancing to fun music, however, more so lately, I enjoy seeing the girlfriends I’ve made over the years of attending the same class. I even arrive early for the chance to catch up with them, and we meet for happy hour now too (when we aren’t sweaty!).

2

Progressive dinners: These can be fun, simple events if you live in close proximity to your girlfriends. Someone hosts the appetizer course, you all move to another house for the main meal and then move to another home for dessert. Have 2-3 women take on a course so it’s more fun, schedule 1-1.5 hours at each stop, and enjoy!

2

What are some fun activities you look forward to with your friends?

Advertisements
 

Exploring food and drink spots in Austin, Texas October 24, 2016

Filed under: Random Travels & Exploring — Heather @ 11:17 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

austinsign_hhWhen I traveled to Austin last weekend for the 20th anniversary of the LIVESTRONG Challenge, I was fortunate to travel with some great friends. In between our LIVESTRONG events, we had time to explore Austin.

2

We decided to stay near South Congress so we could walk as much as possible around Austin. A great decision as it was convenient for lots of fun (and I got a ridiculous amount of steps on my Fit Bit)!

2

While we wandered through much of downtown Austin to see the sites, we also indulged in some great food and drinks. Here are a few of the places we visited:

2

Home Slice Pizza: This New York style pizza is available by the slice or whole. It’s so good that you might as well order the entire pie because you won’t eat just one piece! You can eat in or carry out. I love the ‘neighborhood’ feel as you walk in, breathe great scents and indulge in some very good food.

2

Snack Bar (adjacent to the Austin Motel). There’s a cool, laid-back atmosphere when you walk into this diner. With space to sit inside or outside in a covered area, it’s a great place to simply hang out. But they also have good food that includes locally grown options and a nice selection of wine, beer and cocktails. Sadly, we learned that both Snack Bar and Austin Motel are scheduled to close Oct. 30 so get there quickly.

2

Hotel San Jose’ lounge: This hidden gem on Congress is like walking into a secluded snackbaraustin-signsanctuary. Oddly, the noise of the street seems to disappear as you step through the opening to the garden. The outdoor lounge is surrounded by lush greenery, the relaxing pool to one side and a mellow vibe throughout. I enjoyed a delicious Tokyo Mule cocktail (okay, maybe more than one!). In the evening, the dimly lit area is perfect ambiance for good conversation.

2

Torchy’s Tacos: With clever taco names (Trailer Park, The Democrat, and Brushfire), you’re not quite sure what to expect. Thankfully, we were rewarded with good food! I love Mexican so was happy to try this location for lunch. Be forewarned though – the tacos are big and filling! I tried the Baja Shrimp and Chicken Fajita tacos. Both were delicious (although the chicken was a bit spicy) and filled me up.

2

Container Bar: Located on popular Rainey Street, this eclectic venue was created using shipping containers. Seriously. It’s a trendy area yet somehow finds a way to be laid-back and fun (only in Austin?).

2

Iron Works BBQ: It’s a good thing we walked to/from this place because, holy moly, I needed to burn some serious calories after eating here. Located in a brick red, old iron work shop, Iron Works serves traditional Texas barbecue. With very generous portions of the meat (I think I laughed at the portion of chicken that was plopped onto my plate), as well as several choices of sides , you can’t leave here hungry. The chicken was juicy and the brisket pretty much melted in my mouth. The corn on the cob was yummy. The macaroni and cheese put me over the edge. Food coma.

 

Gratitude Project – week 3 February 21, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 6:19 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, week 3 of my gratitude project ended yesterday. It was a long, tiring week that included hosting a big work event and several other activities that kind of drained me mentally and emotionally. I was grateful to have some special people bring laughs into my week, and some quiet moments to relax and unwind.

2

What stood out this week that made you feel gratitude?

2
 

FOCUSED on the new year – setting realistic goals for success January 13, 2016

new year's resolutions, new year's goals, goals, healthy living

2

I admit that I was not sad to see 2015 come to an end. Last year was not my favorite year. I faced a lot of personal and health challenges, cried too many tears, slacked too much on my health and fitness, and lost focus of many goals. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst year either as I made fun, happy memories throughout the year (Kentucky Derby!). However, I was ready for a clean slate with a new year.

2

So 2016 will be better. Because I’m going to make it better. I’m not sitting back quietly watching the days slip by. No more living in limbo.

2

focusimageFOCUS is my word for 2016. I chose it because I want to focus on some personal and professional goals – but not too many to feel frazzled. I want to focus on writing, focus on friendships, focus on family, focus on love, focus on me.

2

I recently went to two vision board parties so I should be really focused. Haha. I only made one board because I want to stay focused on my main goals and not spread myself too thin this year (side note: these parties  brought together some amazing women. It was awesome to sit around discussing goals, sharing encouragement, laughs and support. I definitely have more girl time as a goal this year!). I love making a vision board – it’s a great opportunity to think about your goals and put these onto a board so you can be visually reminded of them throughout the year. I usually place my board in my home office so I can easily see it, helping me stay ‘focused’ on my plans.

2

If you haven’t goals this year, there’s still time. If you don’t like the word ‘goal,’ think them as personal highlights that you want to accomplish. I’m the type of personality that likes a plan and a checklist (how awesome does it feel to cross tasks off your to-do list??). I also like to set goals so I have things to look forward to throughout the year. Your goals don’t have to be huge and should be realistic and achievable. When you set a goal, think if you will realistic make an effort to accomplish it – maybe you want to win the Lotto or build your own home. Great goals, but are these dreams or goals?

2

Here are some of my goals to help get you started planning:

2

Get outdoors: I plan to enjoy more hiking and biking, whether with myself or anyone interested in joining me! I hope to camp more often, even plan a weekend kid-friendly camping getaway with family and friends. One goal is visit all 13 parks in the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system. I’ve been to a few of these but want to start fresh and explore all of these cool parks so close to me.

2

Slow down and focus on me: I always feel so selfish saying I want to focus on me and take more me time, and after talking to several girlfriends, it seems like many women feel this way. However, I’ve learned that if I don’t take care of myself – physically and mentally – I’m not much help to others. So this year, I’d like to expand my meditation and yoga practices, take a few mental health days to do something fun with myself (reading, biking, massage, etc), work toward achieving some of my goals and learn to laugh much more at myself and life.

2

McLeans_KM_me_blogFocus on friends: I’m hoping to meet some new girlfriends with shared interests this year and spend more time with current girlfriends who value our friendship as much as I do and reciprocate effort in keeping the friendship. I’ve experienced drifting from some girlfriends the past few years and I’ve accepted that some people are meant to enter, and exit, your life, leaving you with good memories. I cherish many of the women still in my life and plan to be a better friend to them as I open myself up to new friendships and adventures.

2

Travel: I used to take numerous weekend getaways throughout the year, camp with friends, escape on spontaneous road trips. Nothing too far from home, but just simply getting away! I stopped taking these getaways a few years ago for reasons that escape me so I intend to plan a few of these this year, whether on my own, with my family and/or friends.I sometimes need to get away to recharge my soul and energy.

2

Become more spiritual: In addition to attending church more often, I’d like to simply quiet my mind more often to get in better touch with my spiritual side. I find such internal peace after attending church and praying that I know this is something I need to do more of this year.

2

In addition to these goals, I plan to continue to work being a better daughter, sister and friend. Spending more time with my nieces and nephew is another goal (if they’ll have me!) – whether or not we are someday blessed with our own child, these five amazing people will always be ‘my kids’ too. I’d also like to try to cook new recipes more often as I enjoy being in the kitchen more and more (this sentence makes my mom proud!) – I’ll share some of my favorite recipes here!

2
2

What is your word of the year and some goals for 2016? Feel free to share! Whatever your goals and dreams, I hope this year is filled with good health and happiness for you!

 

5 tips to motivate you to exercise January 8, 2016

Filed under: Life Lessons,Uncategorized — Heather @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

exercisetips_header

It’s a new year and many people are kicking off new health goals, maybe even you.

2

Many family and friends have commented that they want to focus on being healthier this year but enthusiasm often fizzles after a few weeks in an exercise routine. The most common concern I hear is how to stay motivated. Being healthy and working out have always been priorities and concerns for me, but even I sometimes struggle to stay motivated. Especially during Michigan’s winter when it gets dark as I’m leaving work, it’s cold and often too snowy or icy for me to walk around outside. I decided to share some tips that help me stay motivated to exercise regularly.

2
zumbafriends2016

A few of my fav Zumba ladies!

Find a workout friend (or friends). I usually am committed to and enjoy exercising enough to self-motivate myself but the past few years, I’ve discovered it’s nice, and even more motivating, to have a workout partner. My husband and I go to the gym sometimes together and while we don’t always use the same machines at the same time, knowing he is there also working out helps push me. I started attending Zumba classes thanks to my sister’s suggestion, and while I’ve grown to love the class regardless if she attends, I’ve also made new friends with several ladies in the class. Knowing these ladies will be there to share laughs, eye rolls, smiles and conversations makes class that much more fun and appealing. It’s good to have someone else hold you accountable to get moving, even if it’s just knowing they will be at class, the gym or waiting at trail head. I recently participated in a 30-day plank and squat challenge with a girlfriend where we texted each other after we’d completed the daily challenge – it was very motivating to know I had to send her a message every day as I didn’t want to let her down!

2

Schedule your workout time. One of the most common excuses for not working out is lack of time. We’re all busy, whether you work, have kids, are married, whatever. I’m as busy as the next person but staying healthy is a priority for me so I make time for it. That means I schedule exercise time on my calendar, whether Zumba class, a hike, weight training at the gym or yoga in my living room. Sometimes I’m penciling in 10 minutes of ab work in the morning, a 15-minute walk break at work and 20-minutes on my exercise bike in the evening while dinner cooks! My sister’s youngest daughter attends preschool three mornings a week so she plans to schedule workout time while school is in session.

2

Paintcreek_HHGChange up your activity and routine so you don’t get bored. I hear from many people that they don’t like working out at the gym because it gets boring. Thank goodness there are lots of ways to get exercise! I’ve mentioned Zumba classes, but I also love to hike, bike, walk, practice yoga, and more. Heck, I even sweat to Wii Dance Party and Zumba video games! Try activities that you enjoy. A few years ago I was hiking 1-2 times a week with friends. I did it as a way to get outdoors and keep in touch with friends, but a few weeks later I caught a glimpse  of my noticeably slimmer and toned legs in the mirror as I walked by. I enjoyed hiking so much that I forgot I was exercising!

2

Reward yourself. Set a goal, whether weight loss or time commitment to working out. I once set a goal of exercising at least four times a week for eight weeks – when I accomplished that goal, I treated myself to a massage. Your rewards don’t have to be big or expensive (although feel free!). It’s just sometimes more motivating to have a fun goal.

2

Buy a few cute clothing items that make you feel great. This may be a total ‘girl’ thing but if you feel good about how you look, you’re more likely to feel good working out in public. Or maybe that’s just me!

2

Only you can make the commitment to yourself to get and stay healthy. You’re worth it so start making the commitment today.

2

What tips do you have to stay motivated to exercise?

 

Old and new traditions bring Christmas cheer December 17, 2015

Filed under: Life Lessons — Heather @ 3:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Hallgirls_Xmas1980

I love the Christmas season, filled with glowing lights, festive music, gatherings with family and friends, the spirit of the season and more. I’ve written about holiday traditions of the past so thought I would weave a little of the past and update for the present in today’s post.

2

This time of year always makes me nostalgic for my childhood. I remember holidays filled with many people throughout my parents’ house. Both sides of the family laughed, ate together and shared gifts. I recall driving home from my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, staring out of the car window with my sisters as we searched for Rudolph’s red nose in the night sky. Then there are the memories of wandering tree lots for the perfect Christmas tree, baking and decorating cookies with my mom, making angels in the snow, lying in bed as I wondered what Santa would bring that year.

2

Perhaps I think more of those days long ago since my dad and grandparents are gone. I miss them all daily and cherish any memories I can hold onto. While I remember the happy memories of my younger years, I also embrace every moment, vacation, holiday and laughs here in the present. My mom continues to host Christmas day dinner. We play games, eat (too much) delicious food, exchange gifts and enjoy our time with people who we love.

2

So traditions and fun times continue to make new memories. I know I won’t ever forget my childhood, and certainly not those who I loved dearly and are no longer here. But I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to feel loved, to laugh often and celebrate new and continued traditions with friends and family. Here are just a few of my favorite holiday festivities.

2

Name ornament – A tradition that began a few years before Dad passed away, every member of my family, including the pets, has a ball ornament with their name in glitter. I love adding new names and watching our family grow! I admit it’s a lot of nostalgia to hang ornaments of those who aren’t with us.

2

Baking cookies – My mom provided any Christmas shape cookie cutter one might imagine. I still remember my dad telling me on Christmas day to “keep passing the cookies” because we had so many. We continue this baking tradition with my nieces and nephew, and I also decorate cookies with my best friend and her young daughters. I love being part of their lives and tradition too!

2

Drawing names for presents – The adults in my immediate family draw names. We set a price limit and can’t tell anyone whose name we drew. On Christmas day, we have to guess who drew our name. If you get it wrong, you’re at the end of the line! We have a lot of fun with this. My niece says ‘it’s hilarious’ to watch us guess and be silly (glad we can help create her favorite memories!).

2

“White Christmas” the movie – The tradition only occurred for a few years but it’s a special one to me. My dad, grandma and I would watch the movie, White Christmas, on Christmas eve. It continues to be one of my favorite holiday movies.

2

Christmas dinners and ornament exchanges – I’m blessed to have many great friends who cherish this tradition as much as I do. I honestly welcome any opportunity to get together with friends, during the holidays and throughout the year. I love these moments of laughter and fun with people who bring much support, love and friendship to my life. I also love that my tree is filled with ornaments from special people in my life.

2

This Christmas season, I’m most excited about a very special gift – my oldest niece will be returning home this weekend after five months away for National Guard basic training. My family is very tight knit so this is the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing or talking regularly to each other, especially one of the kids. While I’m very proud of her sacrifice and commitment to protecting our country and our citizens, I can’t wait to welcome her home with a huge hug and kiss!

2

What are some of your favorite new or old holiday traditions? Whatever you do and whatever you celebrate, I wish a happy and healthy holiday season!

 

40 reasons to love life (and birthdays) September 11, 2015

40birthday blogheader

I can hardly believe that my 30s are rapidly coming to an end and a new decade is upon me. In a few days I will turn 40 years old. Wow. That age once seemed so far away.

2
Explore the land around you.

Explore the land around you.

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. Always have been, but especially so after my cancer diagnosis and my dad’s death from cancer. I spent my 22nd birthday in the hospital with an IV dripping chemo into my veins (although my entire family filled my hospital room to sing me happy birthday, even if I felt too terrible to eat much cake). I vowed to never complain about my age because it is blessing to be alive to celebrate another day, let alone another year. Of course, I still contemplate life and what I’ve accomplished in my almost 40 years on the planet. Sure, surviving cancer is a major accomplishment (although what choice did I have except to fight like hell?) but, honestly, I want to be known for more than cancer, for being a cancer survivor is just a piece of who I am. Some days I know exactly what I want in life, and other days those goals seem to allude me. Some days I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in almost 40 years. Other days I get frustrated that I haven’t achieved more. And I don’t mean collecting material things. More focus on happiness, contentment, friendship, love and laughter. I want to explore the world, make a difference in the lives of others, and be a good person. I want fulfillment in relationships, family, a career and even with myself.

2

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I am stepping back to review my life. I’m satisfied with many pieces of it, and restless with others. I’m happy with pieces of who I have become, and will strive harder to change or improve other pieces. Life is a constantly evolving state. I’m thankful to be part of it. In my reflection, these are some of the lessons I’ve learned through (almost) 40 years:

2
Climbing to the top of a sand dune - very rewarding!

Climbing to the top of a sand dune – very rewarding!

1. Feel grateful for every minute you are alive.

2. Stop judging people. Don’t judge people because they aren’t like you, don’t like the same things or choose a different path in life. You don’t know their lives.

3. Don’t cyber-bully. Think twice before posting that Facebook or Twitter criticism. Hiding behind a computer screen is weak.

4. Accept your past. It happened, it’s over, learn from it, move on.

5. Live in the present, plan for the future.

6. Save money. Achieve a good credit score.

7. Dance like no one is watching, even if someone is. It will make you happy.

8. Have date nights with your significant other. Make sure you take turns planning the date.

9. Show appreciation for someone’s nice gestures to you, even if it’s not quite what you’d do or want. At least they’re trying.

10. Say please and thank you.

11. Pay attention to your finances, even if you’re married. You should always know how much money you have and how much you can save.

12. Don’t ditch your friends because you found a spouse or had a baby. Honor and value the friends who have been there through good and bad, and probably would continue to be there if you made an effort too. I can guarantee you probably still have much in common if you look hard at your friendship.

13. Don’t exert energy on people who don’t care.

14. Laugh. A. LOT.

Enjoy life.

Enjoy life.

15. Know your way around a library. Knowledge is power.

16. Ask a child what he/she wants to do for fun, then do it.

17. Have a play date with a child without using technology or buying them a toy. Use your imagination!

18. Explore outside of your city.

19. Explore outside of your state. We have an AMAZING country.

20. Watch a sunset and sunrise.

21. Have friends of the same sex and spend time together. There is nothing like girlfriends to keep you grounded, happy and supported (I imagine men feel the same about their guy friends).

22. Ride a horse at least once in your life. These beautiful creatures are gentle and majestic.

23. Find a job you enjoy and commit to it. Be proud of your work and build relationships by being kind, professional and fair.

24. Treat people how you want to be treated. Learn to apologize when you’re wrong.

25. Send cards for special occasions or just because. Real cards that require an envelope and postage. Yes, these still exist.

26. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.

27. Don’t take love for granted and don’t assume someone knows how you feel. Say it, show it.

28. Call someone – not text, email or Facebook message – and have a conversation about life. Actually use your phone to make a call and hear the voice. It’s so much better than a text conversation.

29. Take care of your health. Don’t skip the doctor. You only get one body.

30. Help someone out each day. A simple gesture, such as holding the door open, is a kind gesture. Kindness builds great societies.

31. Take time to talk to older people. They carry pieces of our history, and often share great stories.

32. Smile more.

33. Count at least five blessings each day.

34. Call your parents at least once per week (my mom would say more!).

35. Have patience with older people – you will hopefully be one someday. They are our foundation.

36. Have patience with young people – you were once that age. They are our future.

37. Sit outside and feel the gentle breeze and appreciate nature.

38. Wear sunscreen. Seriously, don’t be an idiot. Skin cancer kills. Being alive is better than being tan.

39. Read. Fiction, nonfiction, national news, whatever.

40. Learn to love and accept yourself. This is the most important relationship of your life. You need to be happy and accepting of yourself before you can be of others.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: