We came, We saw, We ate bacon-wrapped chicken bits…for a good cause

Vanity Fair_LiftTOUR_Poster (1)

Yesterday evening, Lindsay and I attended our first-ever “Exclusive Blogger Event” representing Happy by Design.

What’s all the hub bub about? 

Actually, it’s all for a really good cause. Vanity Fair is a lingerie brand that is trying to help out the not-for-profit organization, Dress for Success by donating brand new bras to the local chapter. They’re doing so by driving all around the country on a tour bus and helping women get properly fitted for their bra size (and if you’re anything like me, you know this is a nightmare and you appreciate whatever help you can get). For every woman that they help fit, they’ll donate one of their brand new bras to the local Dress for Success organization.

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Who is Dress for Success?

Dress for Success is an organization that helps disadvantaged women find suitable job interview outfits so that they can have a real chance at landing that next job and putting their best foot forward. They also support these women by providing a network of support and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and life.

Like Goodwill or Salvation Army, Dress for Success accepts donations of nicer, gently used clothes for professional use, but the problem that all of these organizations share is that not many people donate undergarments because those can’t be donated as gently used, they need to be brand new or else they won’t pass inspection. Most people find it easy to donate gently-used clothes, but it’s less likely that you’ll go buy a brand new bra or pack of underwear and give it away.

As of my last count, Vanity Fair has donated 1,535 bras through the LiftTOUR alone…and they’re not done, yet!

As for Lindsay and I…

In terms of the cause, we were both on board. I mean, our tagline for Happy by Design is, “A community of mothers who follow their passions,” so supporting a campaign that does just that felt like a good thing to do.

And then you throw in the whole FREE BRA TO KEEP thing and really, you don’t need to twist my arm. Bras are expensive! My budgeting guru sided with me on this one.

A smile, a measuring tape, some encouraging words to pass on to others, and then OMG BACON-WRAPPED CHICKEN.

I’ll give you the highlights…

  • We arrived.
  • Wrote down some fun things on boards and posed in front of the step-and-repeat.

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Note: I give Lindsay credit for coming up with both sayings. I kind of stole “Mother Runners” from her. My only addition was, “Fellow.” But she’s just so johnny-on-the-spot! I couldn’t resist. 

  • We went inside the tour bus and talked with the ladies helping with this effort
  • We got fitted.
  • We wrote some inspirational sayings down for women who would be receiving our donated bra.
  • We took some selfies by the selfie wall which turned out like I expected they would after we both worked a full day in the office and only slightly re-applied makeup (hence, why I’m not posting them here)
  • We collected our goody bag.
  • We ate ALL OF THE BACON GOODNESS and some other delicious things.
  • We left.

Only thing we didn’t do very well was mingle. It was an event for bloggers so it would have been the perfect opportunity to talk with other Milwaukee-based bloggers who liked free bras (so obviously we have a lot in common already), but alas, our shyness got the best of us.

If you’re in the market for a new bra…also make it for a good cause! 

Overall, it was a pretty good evening. I wasn’t asked to write a post about the event, but I do appreciate the good will that Vanity Fair is putting forth into the world and I thought you might want to know about it too.

Also, if you’re in the market for a new bra anyway, check out one of the fitting locations happening in our area right now. Get fitted and Vanity Fair will donate another bra to Dress for Success.

Looking for more information on this campaign?

TBT: Memories from when we ran but didn’t consider ourselves “runners.”

If you run, consider yourself a runner. Scratch that – call yourself a runner. Hold your head up high and declare “I’m a runner!” Here, we take a look back at what running was like before we became the runners we are today.

2011 Rock n Sole 10K

Lindsay’s Take…

My favorite shoes are running shoes

Everyone can run. If you have shoes and can find a path, you can run. I started running three years ago in over-the-counter running shoes and ill-fitting yogaesk pants. Remember when they were cropped and flared? When I registered for my first half-marathon, I knew “real” running shoes were in order. Have you ever gone to a concert and fallen in love with the band? Earlier that day you really didn’t get what all the fuss was about now, after that amazing live experience, you’re their biggest fan. That’s what it feels like to get outfitted for running shoes. Oh, that’s what it feels like to run on pillows of air. Oh, my ankles are not supposed to turn this way and that? I may be running in clearance Target gear but I’ll never run in cheapo running shoes – worth every dollar.

To track or not to track

When I started to run, I manually tracked my progress by checking off the workouts on Hal Higdon’s running schedules. If, like me, you love to check off boxes on a never-ending to do list, this can be a helpful tool. But, as time progressed, I needed more stats to obsess over so I checked out Map My Run. I loved to map my runs. This is before FitBit and all that jazz so I manually (manually!) calculated my pace. Fast forward to the introduction of Nike Running apps (cue angels singing) – I’m not ashamed to call myself a tracking addict. This baby lets me know how many calories I’ve burned. It has built-in training programs and offers generic virtual coaching messages. It’s amazing how helpful generic coaching messages can be when you’re ready to throw in the towel. “HALFWAY POINT. KEEP GOING.” Ok, robot voice, I’ll keep going. Thank you robot voice.

Feed me, I’m rungry

It’s so easy to overeat after a long run. Here are a few dos and don’ts:

Do: eat a lot of protein.

Don’t: eat five servings of chili and cornbread.

Do: drink a lot of water.

Don’t: drink a lot of beer

Do: treat yourself to a cookie. You just ran!

Don’t: eat a lot of cookies and doughnuts.

Some races will really suck

After a successful run, I want to literally give myself a high-five. Yes! I did it! I can conquer my day with a big ol’ smile. Bad training runs are annoying at best and at worst, painful. A bad race? That’s another story. Weather, timing and anxiety can make a so-so race experience turn bad in no time. My worst race (to date) was the 2012 Crazylegs. The weather was dreary, that hill was insane and it kicked my ass. I ran fast to keep up with my friends and in the end, ended up walking a lot and  beat myself up mentally. Then, I got passed by someone in a banana suit. Awesome. Jamie, correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t we both been passed by people in banana suits during races? Now, after experiencing highs and lows during training and come race day, I can push through and tell myself to do my best and not to get to wound up about the experience. That’s the beauty of running – if you have the courage to fail you have the courage to succeed!

Lakefront Discovery Run

Jamie’s Take…

It’s been eleven years since I first started running. There have been many ups and many downs, and years when I flat out didn’t run at all. The running part has never gotten easier with age, but a lot has changed since I first started out. Let’s take a trip down memory lane….

Discman:  When was the last time you heard that word? You probably dropped that vernacular as soon as you started handing over your paychecks to the bank of “All Things Apple.” But yes, there was a time before iPads and iPhones and iPods and Nanos. It was a simpler time. It was a bumpier time. It was the time of the discman. This was in the early internet ages when you could download songs and burn them to a cd…but it would take about 5 hours to complete the whole process. And why would someone want to do that? Because that’s how you listened to music on the go. The real challenge with this? Holding your discman in the exact right way so that the songs wouldn’t skip. Think of how annoying it is to hold a water bottle during your run. Now imagine the water bottle is a cup and you’re trying not to spill it…over miles and miles. That’s just about how annoying it was to run with a discman. But it was WAY better than running without music. So we put it up with.

WAY too much cotton: Unfortunately, the time in which Lindsay and I started running was the age of the “cool” sweatpants. This was right when Juicy couture was becoming popular and J Lo was rocking the velour sweatsuit. It looked cool. But that was an awful workout experience. As a Junior in college, this translated into wearing your college sweatpants or something from Victoria Secret with “PINK” on the butt. Sure, you could pull out your Umbro shorts that you used in gym class, but that wasn’t what the cool kids wore to the gym. Pair that with a cotton t-shirt, your normal cotton socks, and cotton underwear, and you were ready to workout to the point where you looked like a middle-aged man just leaving a steamy sauna. Not a pretty sight. This is also referred to as the “Age of Chafing.”

Garmin Shmarmin: The conversation would go something like this:

Me: Wow, I just ran four miles!

Lindsay: How do you know?

Me: I drove the path yesterday and watched my odometer.

Lindsay: Nice. Can we drive what I just ran? I went from here down to the DQ, up through the park, and over to First and back.

Me: Sure. And then let’s stop at Erbs and Gerbs on the way back. I’m starving.

Lindsay: Ohhhh. While we’re over there, let’s go tanning.

Me: Yes. And then a stop at the liquor store?

Lindsay: Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me!

One thing was for sure, we had our priorities straight. But this is how you figured out your true running distance – you drove it. This was back before you had garmin or mapmyrun.com and any other easily -accessed technology.

The gear doesn’t make the runner…but it sure helps. A hardcore runner might think, “This is all just stuff…you can run with or without any of this.” I totally agree. In fact, I step out of my corporate job, toss my heels to the side and am fine running miles and miles in my pencil skirt, non-supportive bra, tights and accessories…said no one ever. But let’s get real. I’m a wimp. And anything that can make my run more comfortable and enjoyable, is one more thing that will keep me running in the long run.

So I give thanks to my iphone that rests on my arm during my runs, to my dri fit clothes and anti-wicking garments that destroy all forms of chafing, and to technology that allows me to accurately track my whereabouts and keeps me accountable.

Tackling Ragnar: A Q&A Session to Get to the Heart of It All

Team shot minus one

Ragnar Relay team shot minus one

View our slideshow at the end of this post. Photos from members of Team 171.

Just this past weekend, Lindsay and I ran and finished our first Ragnar Relay.

What is a Ragnar Relay?

Glad you asked. In the Ragnar Relay Series, teams of 12 people run 36 legs, totaling a 200-mile relay over two days and one night. The relay we participated in started in Madison, Wisconsin and ended in Chicago, Illinois. Both Lindsay and I totaled around 15 miles each, spread out over three legs, in less than 24 hours. In total, it took our team 30 hours and 47 minutes to complete the entire trek down to Chicago.

As this was the first relay race for both of us, we thought we’d put together a look back at our journey and share how we did on the race days. Why? Because we quickly realized that although we both followed similar training plans, and we were working towards the same goals, we had some very different takes on how everything went.

So here is our first Q&A style post to get to the bottom of this experience.

1.  What made you sign up for this race?

Jamie: Lindsay’s good friends did this race last year and said it was a really great experience. Also, I had done a couple half marathons over the past year and was interested in how different this was…nothing like I’d ever seen before. And let’s be honest – I needed a fitness goal before the summer started so this fit perfectly, timing wise.

Lindsay: Last year when my friends signed up for the relay, I had zero interest to join. Running multiple times per day and driving in a van with five other people sounded like a nightmare. Worse, living off of protein bars and bananas sounded like a recipe for crabbiness. But that wasn’t their experience at all. My good friend organized a team and everyone loved the experience.

Combining the individual challenge of running with a team dynamic sounded interesting. Last November, I ran my first half marathon and although I loved it, I didn’t feel the urge to sign up for another this summer. I needed an early summer race on the books to get myself running again. I wanted a challenge.

2.  What was the toughest part of your training?

Jamie: Going into it, I thought the toughest part of the training would be actually running twice in one day. Or doing back-to-back runs from evening to morning. Surprisingly, though, that wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was getting done with a Saturday morning run and not having that feeling of “Ahhhh…I can do whatever I want now!”…because you knew you couldn’t just lounge around, eat bad food or have a couple drinks that evening. At least, not until AFTER you had finished your evening run. That was hard for me because I could never just relax, mentally. But little did I know, that was what I was REALLY training for.

Lindsay: I echo Jamie’s initial “fear” of the double-run. It sounded impossible and unappealing. As race day neared, I started to look forward to running at sunrise and sunset. The toughest part of my training was to run multiple days in a row. I typically run every other day due to my severe arthritis. Once a doctor proclaims “You have the knees of a ninety year old!” you can claim “severe arthritis.” Again, that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t able to reach my weekly mileage goals with running alone but I was able to run for three mornings in a row and cross train the other days. Lesson learned: don’t assume you know how far you can stretch yourself. Create a challenging training schedule that works for you.

3.  Do you feel like your training prepared you well for race day?

Jamie: Yes. It’s funny because when you train for a half marathon, a lot of times you’ll never run the full distance until the actual race day…so sometimes you feel skeptical that you’ll actually be able to run that far. With this race, though? It’s amazing how well your body recovers after running each leg and how the next run isn’t as hard as you’ve mentally built it up to be. But again, my longest distance was 6.2 miles. Would I have the same reaction if I had to run the 9-miler leg like some of my team mates? Hmmm. Maybe not.

Lindsay: Short answer: Sort of. Honest answer: This race is about challenging yourself, connecting with your team and conquering the physical and mental challenge of running three times in a day. Physically, I was ready. I thought I was mentally strong, as I pushed through some tough training runs. Two weeks before the race, my first leg course was adjusted from four miles to six. After that news broke, I started to get pre-race jitters that couldn’t quit. Lesson learned: Mind over matter.

4.  What was your overarching view of this race before race day?

Jamie: I had looked at a couple blog posts where other runners had recounted their Ragnar experiences and there seemed to be a lot of pressure to follow the signs posted or you’d get lost. I remember that being my number one concern. Am I going to get lost? What if I miss a sign and head off in the wrong direction? What if a bear jumps out of the woods and eats me during my night run? Other than that, I was just anxious because I had no idea what to expect, having never done something like this.

Lindsay: Somehow, this experience would be fun and worth the effort and expense. Friends and co-workers who ran Ragnar offered good pointers and tips:

  • “Don’t think of Ragnar as a race. It’s a run. A run shared among friends. No one cares about your time.”
  • “Racing and training hurts. Accept this and the rest will be easy.”
  • “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.”
  • “Pack your clothes into three separate zip-lock bags. You don’t want to mix clean and dirty running gear.”
  • “Buy compression socks.”
  • “Have fun.”

Lesson (soon-to-be) learned: Expect the unexpected.

5.  Race day – what was the hardest part?

Jamie: First and foremost, the mental anxiety attacks.

It first hit me on my first leg. For the first half mile, it wasn’t just nerves or being excited about this new adventure like I normally felt during races. No – I felt like I was going to have a heart attack because all I could think about was my team waiting for me at the next exchange point. Now, in my mind, they were waiting there and judging my slow-pokiness and wondering why I hadn’t arrived yet.  And after I had a good sob fest under a tree providing the only shade I’d seen on my entire run, I confessed this to them. I was waiting for their disappointment. I was waiting for them to tell me with sympathetic faces, “It’s okay Jamie. We know you tried…right?”

Funny thing is, I was dead wrong. Not only had I run my fastest pace EVER…like…in my life so far…they assured me that this was not a competition against them. This is a race where everyone pulls together as a team. And not the kind of team that’s looking to run any world record races. Even with their encouraging words, though, it still didn’t sink in until my very last leg. And by that point, I had better things to worry about…like the fact that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours.

A close second in what made this race hard was just being “on” all the time. Even when we had the opportunity to relax, my mind was racing with questions like: What do we need to do next? Where do we need to be? Am I going to be able to run with this much Lasagna in my stomach? How much time until I start my next leg? What’s my course like, this time?…etc.

Lindsay: Ding, ding, ding! Jamie hit the nail on the head. The hardest part for me was to get over myself. I was a ball of nerves during the entire first leg. I was running around the lakes of Madison at a decent pace. It was a beautiful experience and I was doing fine physically but, my mind wouldn’t stop crossing over to the negative. Even though I was running a typical pace, I noted a :15 faster pace to my teammates. I cursed myself for not correcting this oversight. As the first runner, I believed that I was setting them up to fail. I was a turtle and kept turning around, assuming that the next wave of runners would soon catch up. This never happened, of course, as I ran a consistent pace and arrived at the finish line with cheers from my friends. As individuals, we all finished a leg (or two or three) faster than anticipated. We all ran great legs and not-so great legs but we all finished with honest-to-God cheers from our friends and complete strangers. Lesson learned: You are a victim of your own mind.

6.  Race day- what was the most rewarding part?

Jamie: On race day, the most rewarding parts were running faster than my normal pace and not dying, being able to connect so deeply with 12 other people experiencing the same things I was (most of whom, I had never met until a week ago), being able to accomplish something so completely outside my comfort zone.

Lindsay: Ragnar is rewarding. The entire “run-drive-sleep?” experience is rewarding. It’s rewarding to pass another runner and say “Nice job runner!” And it’s really rewarding to run, and run strong. One of my favorite runs was during my last leg. At 4:10 am and I was running along Lake Michigan and it felt like home. With only a half of a banana, I was running on empty. Cursing myself for not grabbing an energy chew, I stopped by another Ragnar team van to ask for water. They gave me a bottle and a few blocks later, their runner caught up to me. As I stopped to walk and take a much-needed drink, he asked me if I needed anything. I declined. He told me that he was counting on me to finish. He was counting on me to keep running. In that moment – after running 12 miles and only sleeping for 90 minutes – I whole-heartily believed him. I ran with my heart first and didn’t give a shit how I looked or how I felt. When I finally handed off the slap-bracelet to Jamie, I felt like a champion. Yet, I didn’t even let myself celebrate. I started making jokes about my slow pace and it wasn’t until our amazing captain asked me to stop it. I had just finished Ragnar and who cared if I was slow? Certainly not my team. It’s rewarding to be surrounded by supportive friends and fellow runners and rewarding to finally, FINALLY accept that you are indeed, a runner. Lesson learned: Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend. Be kind to yourself.

7.  Race day – did anything unexpected happen?

Jamie:  Some good, some bad. First the bad – my sob fest after my first leg. I just wasn’t prepared to be feeling all of those feelings! The good – actually having a pretty “spritely” run after going with out sleep for 24 hours. Who knew? Certainly not this girl.

Lindsay: It was one of the best experiences in my life. I was not expecting that outcome or the following:

  • To laugh, that hard, for that long. From wearing unicorn masks to watching glow-sticks explode in the van. I had a perma-smile from my wonderful teammates and from a lack of sleep
  • To discover that cold deli chicken wings are the perfect post-run snack
  • To bond with my husband, who also ran the race. I loved experiencing this as a couple and feeling the “pain” the next day as we entered reality with a crabby toddler

Lesson learned: Let go and have fun.

8.  What’s your advice for others considering a relay race like this?

Jamie: If you have a good training plan, a super supportive captain, an overall organized approach and a really kick-ass team, you’ll do great. But the hardest part of this isn’t the physical endurance, or the logistics, or the time and energy. It’s the mental endurance that you need to be prepared for. So take a good long look at what kind of a person you are and think about how you handle stress under pressure. Do you retreat? Do you attack it? Do you embrace it? Because this race is not for the faint of heart. If someone would have told me, “For 24 to 36 hours you’re going to feel like you’re entering a meeting where you have to defend everything you stand for and you can’t show an ounce of weakness. Can you handle that?” I probably would have run screaming for the hills. That’s a really long time to sustain that amount of stress. And to me, that’s what Ragnar was. Yes, it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and yes it was a success in so many ways, but I’m still trying to process how I feel about it. As I told my team when they asked if I’d be back next year, “Well…you have a year to convince me.”

Lindsay: Great meeting analogy, Jamie! Under normal circumstances, embracing a positive attitude comes naturally for me. Embracing self-doubt also comes naturally for me. Not a good combination. I flexed my mental toughness muscle the best I could but I know it can be stronger. My advice would be to trust your training, join or organize a great team, listen to your captain and make a killer playlist to motivate you through the tough spots. It’s a challenging run regardless of fitness levels due to the mental exhaustion. Keep up with running so training isn’t such a beast. I will run Ragnar again and hope you consider it too!

Lesson learned: You’re stronger than you think you are! Have fun!

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Jamie and Lindsay

Jamie and Lindsay (from left to right)

First and foremost, thank you for stopping by our new venture. This is the first time either of us has done something like this, and to be quite honest, it’s a little scary.

The three pillars – motherhood, career and health

There are so many talented people who inspire us every day, and we love to read their stories and celebrate their successes. However, the stories that we felt were missing, are our very own.

Sure, there are mommy bloggers that blog about motherhood, and fitness fanatics that blog about fitness, and career mavens that fill up our LinkedIn feeds with practical advice. But we’ve yet to find a voice and a perspective that tackles all three.

Since we’re both passionate about motherhood, career and health, this is where we want to start. Sure we have lots of other passions and hobbies and Netflix obsessions, but these are really at the core of our happiness.

Happy by Design

And so, we came up with Happy by Design – a community for mothers who follow their passions. We believe that the lives we live are truly happy by design…not by accident. In an age where everything is go, go, go, it can become common place to tune out the things that you really love. We want to provide a space for mothers (and parents of all kinds) to really think about the things that bring them happiness.

Meet Jamie

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m a thirty-something living in Milwaukee with my husband and son. I think the half marathon is the perfect length for a race. I get really nerdy when it comes to content strategy. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels (and even more-so the word, “post apocalyptic”). I think Beyonce can do no wrong. I’m afraid that tigers might be extinct soon.

Meet Lindsay

I never like to keep things short and sweet. I’m a thirty-something living in Milwaukee with my husband, daughter and dog. I get jazzed about B-2-B marketing communications – educating the channel and the end-user is a great thing! I think a 10K is the perfect length for a race. I find happiness on my yoga mat and in the kitchen. I love exploring our great city to find the best brunch spot or iced coffee. I believe in to-do lists, and that camping isn’t complete without an air mattress. Like Jamie, I’m a fan of Beyonce but I love this mug even more because it’s true, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.” 


Feel free to learn more about us, dive right into our current posts or find out the REAL reason we’re here. Thanks again for stopping by. Your support means a lot to us!

Happy Reading!

Jamie and Lindsay


Never leave, baby pudge. Never leave! #thatchin ❤️

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