April 28, 2012

Pancake Session: Liz and Ryan on Living the Good Life

***While Justin & I are traveling to Florida & Australia for the next couple of weeks, we are so lucky and thrilled to have a few of our favorite people in the world filling in to guest blog for us. First up, our good friends…the super adorable Liz and Ryan. Initially, I didn’t have these guys scheduled to go up until next week….but after yesterday’s post, I knew I for one needed a good dose of them. No matter how crazy life gets, these two always find a way to make it a priority to focus on each other and to live a good life. They inspire me daily with their instagrams of homemade gourmet looking dinners that even Bon Appetit magazine would be jealous of, and their cupcake date nights on the couch. They remind me to slow down. To make time. And that a sprig of basil makes everything better. I hope they inspire you guys as much as they inspire me!

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Hey Guys! It’s great to meet you today! We are so excited to be featured as a guest blogger for Justin and Mary while they are off on their adventures. We couldn’t be more honored to be with you today to chat about a topic that is near and dear to our hearts… living an AMAZING life! It is crazy to even think that we are writing about this topic because as we all know, it is so easy to take for granted how incredibly blessed we are. But now, we are grateful (and thankful to God) to know in our hearts that we are able to live the life we dream of while making a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

Growing up in a small town, our idea of an AMAZING life involved success and happiness that was created by graduating from college, getting a good corporate job that pays well, buying a house, and having children. It seemed “so easy.” So, after high school we went to college (‘Ray Bucknell), studied hard, and eventually graduated with degrees (Electrical Engineering for Ryan and Business Management for Liz). We married shortly after college and accepted jobs that we thought would make us successful and happy. From all appearances we had what was “suppose to be” an AMAZING life. However, there was something missing for us. We never really felt connected to the work we were doing. Spending nearly 40 hours a week (and often more) doing something we were not passionate about was very deflating. This was not the AMAZING life we always had pictured in our minds.

At about that time, we were introduced to Chris Guillebeau’s blog and book The Art of Non Conformity. In his book, Chris talks a lot about living an unconventional life doing something meaningful. His words inspired us to continue to pursue the AMAZING life we dreamed of that not only allowed us to LOVE every moment of everyday, but also gave us the opportunity to never “regret what we haven’t done more than what we have.” So we celebrated that idea by revisiting what our dream of an AMAZING life looked like. As we did this, we came up with three rules we strive to live by each and everyday.

Live with unconditional love that gives us tingles in our toes and butterflies in our bellies: We knew that the number one key to living our AMAZING life was to have a strong loving relationship! The more we focused on strengthening our relationship the more amazing our lives have become. We enjoy spontaneous date nights and breakfast in bed often. We know how easy it is to work 24 hours a day because we LOVE what we do, but we also know how important it is to make time for ourselves and the other things that bring joy to our hearts. For us, that is being with each other and loving on each other! Our AMAZING life involves a lot of love and it is so important to make time for those tingles and butterflies! We have actually created a calendar with blocks of time specifically designated for date nights and time for us. If we have to rework our calendar due to a conflict, we always make sure we exchange that block of time for another date within the same week. Having the time on our calendar has made it super fun for us to look forward to the date and get creative with what we are going to do! One of our favorite dates has been watching a movie while enjoying Red Velvet Cupcake Wine and eating actual cupcakes. Each time we take turns picking the movie. As we sip our wine and devour the sugary goodness, we are taken back to the days we first started dating (we weren’t drinking wine then as we are high school sweethearts! Whoop whoop!) but we would still enjoy movies together. On one of our first dates we went to see “Cats and Dogs” at the movie theatre … (don’t judge, that was 11 years ago =) )

Live with joyful happiness that creates a beaming smile full of confidence to live our dreams out load: Too often we let our fears get in the way of our dreams. However, we found that doing things that made us happy and laugh made it easier to forget our fears and make our big dreams a reality. To bring a little more fun into our daily lives, we often find ourselves having afternoon dance parties. No matter how bad of dancers we are, and let me tell you, we are pretty bad, it doesn’t matter because it is fun. (Don’t believe us, just ask J&M about our dance moves when they were taking our photos for our re-branding). Laughing makes us feel more energetic and worry less. Life is short, it shouldn’t be lived without a little fun! We have also found that the more we indulge in hobbies such as, cooking together and hosting wine and cheese tastings, the happier and more creative we have become. We use the new energy fueled by happiness to take steps to make our dreams a reality. Each month, we hold a “Big Dreams and Big Things” planning retreat where we take time to dream big dreams and then come up with ways to turn those dreams into reality. One example of our Big Dreams was to create an amazing new brand that is 100% us. We are excited to say our business transformation is nearly complete and we will launch an amazing brand, business, and website (www.lizandryan.com), in a few short months. Wahoo!!

Live with authentic gratitude that creates a passionate heart to give back and make a difference in the lives of others. Each and everyday on this earth is a gift from God. Why does it only seem like we realize this when something tragic happens? Instead of waiting for something bad to happen, we decided to start actively appreciating the little things in life. In addition to thanking God more often for our blessings, we have started thanking people more often as well. Not only does showing our appreciation make those we are thanking happier it makes us happier as well. Gretchen Rubin sums it up well in the Happiness Project: “Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means and also to be generous to others.” In addition to being more grateful, we started volunteering more. We have recently been working with Thirst Relief International to develop an amazing opportunity for people to take Journeys to Uganda, Tanzania, and Brazil. On these Journey’s people will have the opportunity to install water filters, dig wells, and help provide clean drinking water that will save the lives of many, many, people. To find out more and learn how to participate on a future Journey, send an email to journeys@thirstrelief.org. Doing something not for pay, but because it has the potential to make someone’s life better makes our hearts smile.

Not everyone’s idea of an AMAZING life looks the same nor should it be. That is the beauty of seeking out what your AMAZING life looks like and appreciating the freedom to make it a reality. Ours centers on Love, Happiness, and Gratitude. It’s your responsibility to decide what yours looks like and to make the choice to live it each and everyday! What does yours look like? We hope to inspire you to think about what would make your life just a little more AMAZING, and take one step today to live that life.

**The oh so amazing Liz & Ryan have decided to put on a lil’ contest for us! Just leave a comment in the box below telling us: what an AMAZING life looks like to you and the next step you plan to make to live that life. One winner will be picked to receive the Liz and Ryan book pack (The Happiness Project, The Art of Nonconformtiy, and Chris Guillebeau’s new book the $100 startup). And we’ll also pick a second winner to receive “a super fun Liz and Ryan Customized Date Night Box”!! And…..GO!!

  1. Emilia Jane

    Oh this post is so wonderful! Exactly what I needed today :-) An AMAZING life to me looks like one full of love and joy. I think what I really need to do is go on an information cleanse! I’m in judgy, overload mode and I need to get out!

  2. Nancy Mitchell

    Beautiful Liz & Ryan! A life full of laughter, tears, happiness, making memories, Jesus, and making my marriage a priority is what an amazing life looks like to me! I believe that I am living that life already! I don’t want to regret one single day here!

  3. Jen Araya

    What an amazing life looks to me is: I finish branding my photography company and create a website by summer, my boyfriend and I creating 1 date night a week (right now we don’t have many) but making that a priority after reading this blog post. And me stop worrying about money and think about the small moments that we should all be thankful for. Thank you Liz & Ryan a wonderful blog post!

  4. Heidi

    Great post! Thanks so much! I continue to work towards my goal of going full-time photography. I’m working on my branding right now and hope that in a year from now this is a reality and no longer a dream!

  5. Nora Nathoo

    Wow, this is really beautiful. J&M you both are inspirations, and L&R, you guys are amazing.

    Our perfect life looks like what it is now, time to enjoy each others company, lots of cuddles with our cat, love for food (and chocolate!), love for others, helping others out in times of need, and following our passion to photograph all around the world.

  6. ashley barnett

    Could I love you guys anymore?! No? Well now I do. Your heart and love for each other and others spills out of everything you do. It inspires me to be more thoughtful, more giving, more invested in spending as much time as I can with Jeremy even when our schedules are absolutely insane, and to breathe, slow down, and look around at all my blessings. My AMAZING life is one pretty darn close to where I already am. And for that, I really cannot be more thankful. But I want Jeremy to be able to be working full-time doing what he loves, and support him as much as he has supported me. I literally get giddy thinking about the time when we will be able to spend more time living and playing together instead of constantly spending evenings in front of the computer. I know it’s coming, but I’m impatient for it to get here :) LOVE you guys!

  7. Rebecca

    Beautiful! We had a similar epiphany when I was about to continue in themedical field with a grad program…now my perfect life includes my husband leaving his job within a year or two, buying a new house that can house our family and our business, and a grden full of herbs outside the kitchen window. Maybe a window seat for my daughter to curl up an read in. We’re so close!

  8. Jessica

    I *so* needed this today! I think we all need to force ourselves to get away from all the social mediums and actually be with your friends in real life. Because nothing beats a great conversation over wine! :)

  9. Taylor

    Wow this post is lovely. Mary so right I did need a dose of this. I follow Chris’s blog religiously and im struggling right now. To find a fit between what is expected of me; to go to college and get a job or to full out go for photography. I am terrified but leaning towards the latter. My amazing life has creative documentary projects in the works, happy wedding clients and a home that I am excited to come home to.

  10. Christa

    What a wonderful post! An amazing life for me would be filled with much love & laughter with my hubby & babies. Doing my dream job and traveling the world.

  11. Jena Alviti

    An amazing life in my mind always mean having the perfect husband, perfect children, perfectly clean and modern house, and having a perfectly "perky" body to go with it. Well I may have found my perfect husband and we certianly have our perfect baby, I am realizing that trying to do everything else in life "perfectly" is not what I want at all! Turns out I want to spend the day in my PJ’s dancing with my sonin our messy living room. Or curled up on the couch watching TV with my husband instead of spending my nights at the gym. Yes, there may be a pile of dirty dishes ten feet high and stacks of paperwork that needs filing, and legs that haven’t been shaved in a month, and ten more pounds to lose – but turns out it’s a life that we love every minute of!

  12. Kari Jeanne

    Simply an AMAZING post! My own AMAZING life right now is focused on being intentional about the time my husband and I spend together – summer is his busy season and I rarely get to see him, so putting time aside to talk, cuddle, even just watch a movie to make sure our focus is still on US. Thank you so much for sharing this :) :)

  13. Christy Tyler

    I love that quote from The Happines Project – it is soooo true!~ I need to print that and hang it in my office. Fabulous post you two! You’re such an inspiration! :) <3

  14. Shannon Boettcher

    MY AMAZING LIFE: would look like contentment.

  15. Kathryn Denelle Stevens

    For me, it begins with simplicity…stripping away all the unnecessary clutter in life and focusing on the things in our life that make us feel whole, complete, truly satisfied. One thing I am going to do this weekend is to plant our garden! This is just a start, but it’s part of the large plan to learn about living life in the slow lane…

  16. Katie Trentzsch

    What an amazing post!! Definitely a great thing to read today in the chaos of life! To me, an amazing life is living each day with purpose and love for yourself and others. My fiance and I are hoping to find more areas in our church to serve, in order to share love and joy with those around us. Again, very inspiring post!

  17. Jim Davis-hicks

    You guys are AMAZING!!! I am inspired and blessed to have you guys as partners in Thirst Journeys and life! Thank you for living out the love and values you talk here. I just want to be sure to get in on one of those dance parties!! I love you both.

  18. Kristin Nicole

    Love this…an amazing life is spending quality time with my husband and daughter and doing what I love. Being intentional is the way I plan to get there.

  19. Katie Trentzsch

    What a great post!! Definitely appreciated in the middle of chaos. An amazing life to me would be a life lived with purpose and love for yourself and those around you. My fiance read the post as well, and we think that we’re going to take steps together to make our lives about more than just work. Thanks again for making us think!

  20. Emily Greenly

    My idea of an AMAZING life is one that – through the simple comforts of this life – radiates peace and joy as a reflection of our Heavenly home here on Earth.

  21. Ali B

    My amazing life is full of lots of love, traveling the world, and giving back making others lives happier.

  22. Lisa Cour

    Love this! I’m also a BIG believer in the gratitude principle. I think once you make the switch to realizing that God is in control of everything and every moment is a gift, then life (as in, being alive) is AMAZING.

  23. Melissa Manzione

    I was recently lucky enough to connect with Liz and Ryan at a networking event in Annapolis and BOY to they ooze happiness.

    My AMAZING life is the life I recently took a leap to live: working and doing something I love, spending time with my family and friends, and traveling the world (next up: Italy this summer!). I would LOVE to read these books!

  24. Emma

    Thanks so much Liz and Ryan. This post is fantastic and so true. Sometimes we really just need to stop and smell the roses. I love love, and i love people that love love..

  25. Katie S

    An amazing life to me is spending time with the ones i love, and keeping positive around me. Doing the little things, that really are the big things. Helping others in need, and not sweating the small stuff.

  26. robin underdown

    My amazing life constitutes tons of time with my family, joy, and explorations together. All the while teaching the my son and my nieces what joy and happiness look like.

  27. Ashley B

    An AMAZING life to me abscially comes down to one word, Freedom. Freedom to love, to play, to work, and to just relax when and where I want to. Freedom to make my own schedule and the freedom to also break my schedule. Cheers to freedom!

  28. Jenny

    am amazing life means that, no matter how hard things get, the in-betweens are over stuffed with love

  29. spring

    A house on the ocean in Maine that is always full of love and laughter. Walls covered in large format b&w prints and watercolor paintings. A dog, a cat, maybe a cow or two (for some reason I love cows). Being able to make pancakes on a weekday morning because there is no reason to rush off to anywhere. Being able to spend time with my friends and family. Waking up everyday next to Silas and breathing fresh air on a morning walk hand in hand. Being able to never feel rushed and always stopping to smell the roses.

  30. Liz and Ryan

    We have been blown away by all the amazing comments and kind words everyone has had to say! Hearing everyone’s idea of your AMAZING lives and the steps you all are taking to make it a reality makes our hearts sing!!! Thanks you all for sharing! Love and Hugs – Liz and Ryan

  31. Deidre Wissman

    I absolutely LOG this blog post. It actually totally turned my week around :) I went to the library and reserved all of the books you recommended!

  32. Shannon Rosan

    It’s so cool to see Liz & Ryan guest blog! An amazing life, for me, is one spent with many hours, hand in hand with my husband. Laughing…a lot. Bouncing across the globe, on a quest for the next best restaurant. Toasting to a life with no regrets.

  33. Becky

    An amazing life to me is being as in love with my husband in 50 years as we are today, and having lots of adventures along the way. In order to make that a reality I need to make my marriage a priority and work on it everyday.

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