Emily's May 2018 Spire List
When my teammate Hannah first suggested the Spire List two years ago, my first instinct was one of doubt.
“But how am I going to come up with new things to share each month?” I asked.
Admittedly, I’m a creature of habit. If I love something, I’m loyal to it forever. (Which probably explains why sweet potatoes are still one of my favorite foods, considering it was the first food I ever had as a baby.) If I love a restaurant, store, or coffee shop, I go there frequently. So with that in mind, I thought that I’d run out of things five months in.
However, in creating the Spire List, I’ve learned something: we are in a constant state of discovery.
Sure, I’m loyal to the things I love, but it turns out that doesn’t stop me, or anyone for that matter, from uncovering new things to appreciate. I have said that curating the Spire List is a practice of gratitude. It’s also one of self-discovery. We can so effortlessly get into the groove with our habits to the point there’s little consciousness at play. We just go through the motions. But this monthly column has helped me discover things I love and has led to deep thoughts as to why said things bring me joy. The things we love–truly love–are reflections of who we are at our core.
So here’s a glimpse into mine this month…
I did Whole30 this past month. And yes, it isn’t easy. But it’s also not as hard as I thought it’d be. (Truthfully, that’s due to being able to eat potatoes. Told you I was loyal to them.) In case you’re not familiar, it’s a 30-day practice where you eliminate grains, dairy, added sugar, and legumes from your diet. My intention was to use it to understand which kinds of food drag down my energy and what I could just do without.
While I can’t say I’ll never have cheese again (I mean, I’m not a monster!), I definitely feel better now that I don’t have excessive sums of dairy in my diet. I’ve read a lot throughout the process about the negative effects dairy has on the body, so I’ve tried to use this as an opportunity to find substitutes to some of the kinds of dairy that were in my diet before Whole30.
My biggest challenge was my coffee. I love half and half. For whatever reason, nothing seems to have the same taste. And trust me, I’ve tried a lot of alternatives. But in doing Whole30, it was either find a substitute or go coffee-less. Obviously, I was not opting for the latter. So I found Ripple’s Non-Dairy Half & Half, which has an almond milk base. From the first morning cup, I was hooked. This stuff actually tastes like half and half, AND it isn’t loaded with sugar. I found it at Whole Foods and we’ve been pals ever since.
Lately, I’ve been setting the intention to be more conscientious of my time. I don’t think I waste excessive sums of it but I definitely could optimize my time to better serve myself. Part of this endeavor has just been in becoming more aware of how much time I’m actually spending doing a particular action, from commuting to answering email. The second you notice just how many minutes or hours are slipping by, you start to make positive shifts towards respecting your time in a bigger way.
One way I’ve become more aware of my time is with the Moment app. This app measures how much time you’re spending on your phone every day and it breaks down where you’re spending that time. I learned that I spend a ridiculous sum of time on social media. And sure, some of that time is for Spire, but there’s also a lot of mindless scrolling. Since I downloaded the app, I’ve cut my scrolling by hours per day. Just think what you could do with some extra time each day.
Reese Witherspoon is at it again. She recently launched her company’s first podcast, titled How It Is. Hosted by Diane Guerrero, the podcast’s mission is to “hear women tell our own stories, in our own words, and share the truths we’ve learned and lived through.” There’s such a diversity in the stories told and the perspectives featured, and with each episode, I feel like I’m gaining a deeper understanding of other women’s struggles and stories. It’s opened my eyes to concepts I genuinely only understood at surface-level. I couldn’t recommend this podcast more.
Whole Foods Butternut Squash Crinkle Cut Fries
There are few things I find as rewarding as discovering healthy food that tastes like unhealthy food. Sure, making healthy choices is rewarding and can completely change your quality of life. That doesn’t always make it easy, though.
In my search to find Whole30 compliant foods, I found butternut squash crinkle cut fries at Whole Foods. I was skeptical at first, but I brought them home and threw them in the oven. Turns out, they are fantastic. While they don’t taste exactly like french fries, they definitely have a similar taste, especially if you sprinkle some avocado oil (or olive oil) and Himalayan salt on top and then bake them.
Okay, maybe it’s the Royal Wedding coming up, but I finally watched Suits, the USA Network show that gave Meghan Markle her fame. Her character, Rachel Zane, is as relatable as she is inspiring. She’s like many of us: fiercely ambitious, hyper-focused, with a major work ethic. She also has the best workwear I’ve ever seen.
The show itself is insanely captivating. It’s a great plot that doesn’t get boring after the first few seasons. But what kept me really watching was Rachel. Her shortcomings feel the same as mine and her drive to go beyond them was a consistent jolt of motivation.
If you have Amazon Prime, seasons 1-6 are included!
I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year and I’ve been trying to use it as an opportunity to strengthen my photography skills. I have a pretty old DSLR but I don’t want to upgrade until I’ve reached a certain level of understanding with photography. An old DSLR means it doesn’t have wifi capabilities, aka you can’t “beam” the pictures from your camera to your phone.
I was actually looking for an SD card (memory card) adapter for my computer, but I accidentally picked up the wrong device at the Apple Store. It ended up being for the best because I snagged the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, which allows me to import photos directly from an SD card to my phone through the charging port at the bottom of my iPhone. Now, I can take higher quality pictures all the time and seamlessly import them into my phone. Hopefully, this means I can step up my Instagram game.
I love Free People dresses. They are very flowy, often come in rich colors, and for being very short, they fall at a flattering length. Plus, you can typically find some styles in TJMaxx, which if you ask me is the best part.
My mom found this long sleeved dress at TJMaxx in hot pink, and ever since I’ve been wearing it constantly. It’s an easy dress to dress up or down and the sleeves are great for the tricky weather we have this time of year. I can’t find it in pink online, but I did find it in lilac, ivory, and blue. (FYI, the one my mom found at TJMaxx is over half the price so keep your eyes peeled for a better deal.)
I read this book a long time ago, but lately, the lessons from it have left me deep in thought. I love the way Andy Andrews uses fictional stories to get across extremely motivating, thought-provoking messages. I don’t want to give anything away but basically, the main character gets thrown back in time and learns seven lessons from leaders who changed life as we know it. The final lesson, though, shook me to the core.
I spoke at the Social Impact 360 annual conference, Shift Series, a few weeks ago. I was in their social entrepreneurship fellowship in college so it was especially meaningful to be asked to be on their alumni panel.
They very kindly gave every speaker a Dopper water bottle. I had never heard of Dopper before so I did some research when I got home that night and what I learned was truly remarkable. Their mission is to reduce single-use plastic waste and for everyone, on every corner of the planet, to have access to safe and fresh drinking water.
What is most impressive is how they are using their products, which are sustainably designed, to educate people about what we can do to take better care of the planet and provide access to safe drinking water. I got the Yellow Dopper, which is $15. They have some other stainless steel and insulated options as well, like this pink one.
What have you been inspired by lately? Share with me in the comments!