***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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!!