Professional and Personal Development

Why I Joined the Junior League

Growing up in the South, I heard the term “Junior League” a lot. I associated it with the ladies who lunch and as I got older just thought of it as an adult sorority. However, a few years ago, I did some research into the Junior League of Atlanta but decided to hold off on joining. Through this research, I learned that the Junior League is “an organization of women, committed to making lasting transformation in the Atlanta community.” However, old stereotypes die hard, and I couldn’t shake the idea that as a single woman with a wild past, I wouldn’t fit in to the Junior League mold.

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Fitting in just fine with my JLA small group

Then, while I was working for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society last spring, my coworker Meredith found out I had considered joining the Junior League and said she had just applied for membership. Thanks to her encouragement, I decided to apply and see what happened. After all, I could always quit if it wasn’t a good experience.

Initially, I joined the Junior League to make friends and to have access to a wide variety of ways to volunteer in Metro Atlanta. What I found was a group of women who are passionate about their careers, their community, and issues that I care about deeply. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the women in Atlanta’s Junior League aren’t shy about having difficult conversations about generational poverty, human trafficking, or their own privilege. In fact, these conversations seem to be embraced by the members.

I also discovered how many opportunities are available to me as a JLA member. I was able to attend a five-class fundraising course last fall, met women in my field who have taken the time to network with me and mentor me, and after being encouraged to apply for a leadership position, accepted a position on the Grants & Foundations Committee next year to find additional ways to hone my professional skills. The Junior League also offers opportunities for women outside of the league to have opportunities. My boss, who is not a JLA-er, is attending our women’s forum this week.

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I got to learn from these two extremely intelligent fundraisers who have both taken the time to mentor me as I’ve navigated my first year in the league

A lot of my girlfriends have been asking me about my experience, and every time I respond that I LOVE it so far! The way the provisional program is set up helped me meet other women through my assigned small group (which was an awesome group of ladies!). Through all of the community service and personal and professional development opportunities, I was able to meet women of all ages and league experience who have similar interests to me.

If you’re thinking about joining the Junior League, I highly recommend it. My experience has made this past year so much fun, and I can’t wait to see what my first active year with JLA holds!

If you have questions about the league, feel free to shoot me an email at fabfitfoodfungal@gmail.com.

Have you ever joined a group like the Junior League? How did you like it?

Get fit · Healthy living · Running

Running Update: What’s New and Next

I ran a marathon in 2014. It was hands-down one of the proudest moments of my life. I worked so hard and overcame so much to get to that finish line, and I know without a doubt that I left a piece of myself at Fort Benning on the Avenue of Flags.

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And then…I stopped running. That piece of me that I left or lost during the marathon training cycle was too big and I couldn’t find it within myself to lace up my shoes and even go for a short jog. So I didn’t. For two and a half years.

During the last few years, I tried a bunch of other activities: spin, yoga, barre, and even an aerial silks class. I loved all of them, and using ClassPass (back when they still had their unlimited option) let me take tons of classes and get back into working out without feeling the pressure to run again.

Recently, I’ve pretty much been purely doing yoga 4-6 times per week. I love power yoga, but I do miss the variety that I got from ClassPass. And then I got the opportunity to get guaranteed entry to the Peachtree Road Race through Northside Hospital.

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My first Peachtree in 2013

The Peachtree is one of my favorite races. It’s definitely not a race where I go for a PR, and I’ve always been able to just run and enjoy myself along the course. That’s why it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start running again. I’m taking it slow right now. Just 3-4 times per week at whatever pace feels easy for somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Over the next couple of months, I’m planning to start stepping that up to 30-45 minutes 3 times during the week with a 5-6 mile long run on the weekend. I’ll still incorporate yoga with two power classes during the week, and a gentle/yin/power combo of some kind on the weekends.

I don’t want to push myself too hard and keep myself from learning to love running again. I really want to rediscover my inner fire and inner passion for it, even though I’ll always be a mid-to-back-of-the-packer. I know that the girl that used to run for fun is still in there, and I can’t wait to meet her again.

Have you ever run the Peachtree? What is your favorite race to run every year?

Budget shopping · Just for fun

Paris and Rome (and how I spent 8 days there on the cheap)

Last week, I was lucky enough to spend eight days in Europe with three of my closest friends. We spent two days travelling, three days in Paris, two days in Rome, and took a day trip to Pompei.

And we saw so much stuff.

And ate so much food.

And somehow, I did it all pretty cheaply.

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Photo credit: K. Roth
Cheers to that!

Disclaimer: I am a young, single professional. For me, this was a budget trip. Whether it is for you or not, I hope you can find some of my experience useful.

My friends and I managed to jump on one of those crazy Groupon travel deals. Here’s a similar trip at a similar price. Because AirFrance was running a deal with Delta, we were able to fly nonstop out of Atlanta for a $20 fee, instead of having to find additional airfare to New York or Boston. We were also able to book tours through our travel agency, which cut down on time trying to find reliable vendors in the cities. From what I saw in the cities themselves, we got about the same deal booking ahead of time that we would have gotten booking on-site.

I chose to take 100 Euro per day that we would actually be in a city for the trip, but I came back with money left over, and could have bumped that amount down. I was able to eat, drink, and bring home lots and lots of souvenirs on that budget.

For transportation, we took the metro everywhere in these two cities. Even though we weren’t staying directly in the heart of either city, we were only a short metro ride away. It was so refreshing to be places where the public transit was effective and efficient! We even took a high-speed train to Pompei. Side note: Atlanta’s public transit is…not efficient, and I spent three years of my life riding it.

Finally, I saved money on food. Partly because I’m vegan, and pasta arrabiata is always one of the cheapest Italian options, but also partly because as a group we decided to eat one nice meal in each city, and go cheaper for all our other meals. We also always ate the free breakfast at the hotel.

I know that none of my ideas are groundbreaking, but for a long time I thought travel was too expensive for me, and that I would never be able to make it work. By carefully prioritizing my trip and my savings account, I was able to make a dream vacation happen for $1800, with different payments spread out over 9 months.

No that I know it’s possible, I’m so excited to find my next travel adventure!

Where is your favorite travel destination? Do you have any dream vacations?

Healthy living

Seven days raw vegan

I went vegetarian in late 2013, and spent the next two and a half years playing with a mostly vegan diet. After attending Asheville’s VegFest last year (it was awesome, and you should absolutely go if you get the chance), I took the plunge and went 100% vegan.

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Eating banh mi at VegFest with my vegan soulmate

Now, I want to experiment with a high-raw diet.

So what exactly is a high-raw diet? According to Google, a high-raw diet is classified as “eating more raw food than cooked food.” I have always felt phenomenal when I have eaten lots of fresh fruits, smoothies, veggies, and salads. I want to see how good I can feel if I really try to make raw fruits and veggies the central part of my diet.

I’m not pledging to go 100% raw for any lengthy period of time; after all, a lot of my blog is about balance. However, I am going to try to go completely raw for one full week (except for a cup of coffee in the morning, because I’m just not willing to give that up).

What’s the point of going totally raw for a week? Mostly, I want to reset my taste buds and see what I like and don’t like about raw recipes and meals. Then, I can reintroduce whole plant foods back into my diet as I see fit.

I know this seems extreme to a lot of people, but I’m really excited to see how I feel, how I budget for this dietary shift, and what it does for my body and my energy.

Have you ever tried a diet other people saw as extreme? Have you ever eaten a raw vegan meal? If you have any good recipes, leave them in the comments!