30 Day Minimalism Game

One of the things DJ and I have been trying to do over the past year is purge items we no longer need in our home. Recently, I read a staggering figure that the average home contains 300,000 – 500,000 items! That is just such a baffling number and I know there is no way we need all of those things. I want to make more space in our home and in our lives and I know that a big part of that is clearing out the physical clutter.

To help jump start this process, we decided to both participate in the Minimalism Game that was create by The Minimalists over on their blog. You can read more about the game here and print out their calendar to track your progress. The basics are that each day you get rid of progressively more items. So on day 1 you get rid of one item, day 2 you get rid of two items, and so on. By the end of the month you will have cleared a whopping 496 items that you didn’t need out of your home. And since both DJ and I are doing this challenge, we’ll have moved almost 1,000 unused items out of our space.

For the items we’re clearing out, we’re dividing them into 4 categories:

  1. Trash – for items that are broken, damaged, or no longer have a useful life.
  2. Donate – Most of our clothes and kitchen items will go into the donate pile to go to a local charity.
  3. Give to family/friends – For things that work just fine, but we no longer need and fill a need for family and friends, we will pass those along for a second life.
  4. Sell – For some of the higher ticket items that we no longer need that are still in great working order, we’re going to sell these on places like Craigslist, Ebay, and Poshmark and put the money toward paying down my student loans.

I’m super excited about this challenge and will be documenting my progress weekly over on my Instagram. Be sure to tag me if you decide to play along!

Ready for 2020? Looking back on the 2010s

Are you ready for 2020? I know I am. While each year feels like a fresh start, the beginning of a new decade has this feeling of entering a new phase of life. I have big plans and when I think about what I can accomplish in the next 10 years, I get excited. With that being said, I thought I’d take a look back over everything that happened in the last decade.

2019: Traveled a lot — Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Denver, Cancun, multiple trips to New Jersey and Philadelphia, and sourcing all the shop supplies from all over the world.

2018: Celebrated my 30th birthday in Las Vegas, renewed our vows at a castle in Scotland, opened our retail store Azonia, and went to Punta Cana for the first time.

2017: Launched Legally Empowered, went back to working for an old employer, and got promoted to Director.

2016: Left the law firm to start my own practice, started working with artists and entrepreneurs, got admitted to the tax court bar.

2015: Brought Bella (the dog) home, graduated with my tax LL.M., and accepted a position at one of the biggest law firms in Maryland.

2014: Decided to go back to school for a tax LL.M. at the University of Baltimore, reentered lawyer life, and renewed our vows on the beach in Cancun.

2013: Bought a new car, took DJ to Paris for his 30th birthday and put our love lock on the Pont des Arts on the Seine.

2012: Worked in the marketing department for an online university, made handmade jewelry that was featuring in a gallery show, and went to London.

2011: Bought our first house, brought Olivia (the cat) home, graduated law school, took and passed the bar exam, had neurosurgery for my Chiari malformation, and started life as an attorney.

2010: Went to Paris for the first time and married the love of my life at a historic mansion in Frederick, Maryland.

It was a long, crazy, amazing decade. I can’t wait to see what the next one holds.

90 Questions About Dana Renee

Given that this is a new blog and a fresh start, I realize that you likely have no idea who the heck I am or anything about me. I will eventually distill all of this into an about page, but I thought I’d start with 90 questions and answers that will help you get to know me better. Some of them are serious, some of them are super random, and all of them were chosen from a massive list of 300+ questions that seemed to be a bit of overkill. Bonus: Copy these questions and post them with your answers and tag me! I’d love to read them.

  1. What is your name? Dana Renee
  2. Are you named after anyone? Dana Carvey
  3. Where are you from? Cleveland, but now living near Baltimore
  4. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender? Denver Ray
  5. Are you married? Yes, since 2010
  6. What is your biggest accomplishment? Finishing law school despite having a brain malformation and needing neurosurgery
  7. What is your biggest fear? Snakes
  8. What is your eye color? Green
  9. What inspires you? Building a better future
  10. What is the most important thing in your life? My family
  11. What has required the most courage of you in your life so far? All of my surgeries
  12. Who is your favorite musician? So hard to pick one. I am a fan of Welshley Arms, Imagine Dragons, Guns n Roses, Peter Cincotti
  13. Who’s your favorite person in the world? My husband (whose name also happens to be Dana)
  14. What is your favorite color? Blue
  15. What is your favorite drink? Diet Pepsi
  16. What is your favorite food? Thai Drunken Noodle
  17. What is your favorite holiday destination? London
  18. What is your favorite ice-cream flavor? Butter Pecan
  19. What is your favorite music genre? Indie Rock
  20. What is your favorite song? Currently Legendary by Welshley Arms
  21. What is your favorite sport? To play, soccer or volleyball; to watch, basketball
  22. What is your favorite time of the day? Evening
  23. What is your favorite type of clothing? Dresses
  24. What is your favorite way to pass time? Learning something new
  25. What is the name of your favorite restaurant? Stang of Siam
  26. What is your favorite candle scent? Voluspa French Cade and Lavendar
  27. What is your favorite social media channel? Instagram
  28. What was your favorite TV show? Mad Men
  29. Are you scared of heights? No
  30. Are you high maintenance? Depends on who you ask
  31. Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others? Build my own empire
  32. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on? Engage it head on
  33. Are you a dog person or cat person? Both, we have two cats and a dog
  34. Are you a good cook? Yes, I worked for an Italian catering company in college
  35. If you could eliminate one weakness or limitation in your life, what would it be? My chronic illnesses
  36. Who has left the most impact on your life? My husband
  37. Who is the first person you call when something exciting happens? My husband or my mom
  38. Can you dance? Yes, I’ve done all kinds of dance from ballet to hip hop to ballroom
  39. Do you remember your dreams? Yes, and they are usually very vivid
  40. Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away? I save the extra special ones
  41. Do you sleep with the lights on or off? Off, but we recently put some electric candles in a lantern that hangs over our headboard that come on during the night
  42. Do you have a catchphrase? Really? Really?
  43. Do you have a garden? Not this year, but most years yes
  44. Do you have a tattoo? Nope.
  45. Do you have any allergies? Mushrooms and seafood (I really live in the wrong part of the country for the latter)
  46. What is your most used swear word? Shit
  47. What is your star sign? Aquarius
  48. What is something that amazes you? The kindness of others
  49. What is at the top of your bucket list? To see all seven wonders of the world
  50. How many countries have you been to? 7, soon to be 8
  51. How many oceans have you swum in? 2
  52. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Over 150
  53. What is one thing you’d rather pay someone to do than do yourself? Organize my closet, it’s gotten out of control
  54. What is the first amusement park you’ve been to? Geauga Lake (not there any more)
  55. What is the last compliment you got? That my shoes were pretty
  56. What is the worst grade you got on a test? B
  57. What is the farthest-away place you’ve been? Paris
  58. What is under your bed? Nothing
  59. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up? French Fries, but I can’t have them on keto so I have sort of given them up
  60. Where do you buy your jeans? Old Navy
  61. What do you like about your home? That it’s cozy and feels like home
  62. What do you love about living in your neighborhood? It’s quiet and safe
  63. If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do? Put a hot tub in the backyard
  64. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Night owl
  65. What kind of books do you like to read? Non-fiction
  66. What is the last book you read? White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte
  67. What is the last movie that you saw at the cinema? Ocean’s 8
  68. What kind of car do you drive? Ford Focus (I hate it so much, I can’t wait for a new car)
  69. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in? French
  70. What was the first concert you ever attended? Nsync
  71. What was the last thing you bought? Magazines
  72. What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life? Clown, Library Aide, Catering Waitress, Short Order Cook, Editor
  73. What do you do for a living? Lawyer
  74. Do you love your job? Yes
  75. What is the hardest part of your job? Dealing with difficult clients
  76. What takes the biggest chunk of your paycheck? Taxes
  77. What is something you’ve never done that you’d like to try? Riding in a hot air balloon
  78. How often do you skip breakfast? Most days
  79. What did you do for your last birthday? Went to Las Vegas with friends and family
  80. What do you call carbonated drink called? Pop
  81. Is there any item you collect? Crystals
  82. What is the longest period you’ve spent in a hospital? 6 days
  83. If you inherited $100,000 right now, how would you spend it? Pay off student loans
  84. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A new house
  85. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go? Egypt
  86. Would you rather always be overdressed or always be underdressed? Overdressed
  87. Would you rather be able to play 10 different instruments beautifully or speak 10 different languages fluently? Languages
  88. Would you rather live in a rural area or the suburbs? Suburbs
  89. Would you rather live in an apartment or house? House
  90. Would you rather live in ancient Greece or ancient Rome? Greece

Whew! Well that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about me, but if you have a question that wasn’t answered here, ask away! I’m an open book. If you do this quiz, please drop me a link to your post in the comments so that I can check it out!

What This Blog Is About

From my first post, you probably already know that this is my personal lifestyle blog, but what the heck does that mean? Lifestyle blogs are so hard to define because, well, they document all the different facets of the blogger’s life. However, knowing what is important to me and what I want to share, this blog will cover the following primary themes.

Out & About

This is my catch-all category for all of the day-to-day adventures that the hubby and I go on. This might be shopping at a new boutique, trying a new restaurant, attending an art opening, or going to a concert. These are things you go out and experience. The goal of this section is to document happenings locally in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, and wherever else the wind takes us near and far.

Travel & Leisure

I’m not one to brag, but I plan some pretty awesome vacations. Something about exploring different parts of the world to find hidden gems is so exciting and invigorating to me. I love picking a destination and going with a loose plan just seeing where the trip takes us. The results are usually pretty amazing. With these posts I’ll share our favorite trips, destinations, and ways to unwind away from home. Next week we are traveling to Scotland, in November we’re headed to Punta Cana, and within the next year we’ll be visiting Santorini. I want to share with you my favorite places and spaces in the hopes that you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Mindfulness & Consciousness

The past year has been the start of a truly incredible journey of self-discovery for me. In an attempt to find answers to my chronic illness and meaning to our fertility setbacks, I ventured into the world of higher vibrations and alignment. I’ve begun exploring the works of Wayne Dyer and Abraham Hicks, listened to podcasts like The Lively Show, and become accustomed to meditating and creating intentional thought patterns. This might seem a little woo woo, and it did at first to me too, but the further I dove in, the more answers I found to my unanswered questions about religion, God, and the universe. I started to embrace how quantum mechanics and science coupled with psychology and divine creation all interact to form our reality. By no means am I an expert in this area, I’m still just beginning to learn, but it’s an important part of my current journey and one that I’m happy to share.

Health & Wellness

This category is a bit of a catch-all, but each aspect is so intertwined that they can’t be separated. I’ll be quite frank, traditional medicine has failed me. I have numerous chronic illnesses including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, lupus, PCOS, some form of GI disorder that they still failed to label, a brain malformation that, although repaired, still results in chronic and severe migraines. The best that traditional medicine has been able to do is offer me loads of pills. Quick to write prescriptions and tell me my bloodwork “looks ok”, the vast majority of my doctors fail to consider how the symptoms of these illnesses and the side effects of the medication affect the quality of my daily life (save for my neurologist who is beyond amazing).

In an attempt to find relief from chronic pain and the never-ending list of symptoms, my search has led me elsewhere. About a year ago, I decided I would be open to trying anything that would help (even if some of them didn’t necessarily make sense). Some of these areas have been crystal healing, acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbalism, massage therapy, dietary changes (I’m currently doing Keto), micronutrient IV infusions, and overall taking a more holistic approach to the connection between my lifestyle and my health. These different methods have led to varying results. While I’m far from cured, I have found improvements and am continuing my path of trial and error to see what helps and what doesn’t. Just because something didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. My goal in sharing is to make you aware of the options that exist to cope with chronic illness and what my experience was so that you can decide for yourself.

In addition, these posts will also cover my keto lifestyle, our struggle with infertility, and advocacy for chronic illness awareness.


Are Personal Blogs Dead?

There’s so much chatter on the internet that blogs, especially personal blogs, are dead. And that might be true if you’re looking to become internet famous or build a brand, but I sure hope the concept of blogging isn’t dead. At least it isn’t for me! I used to have a life and style blog where I shared some bits and pieces of my life alongside my favorite fashion and beauty picks. This was great when I was a twenty-something looking for PR samples of new products to try and blog link ups to join, but things are a little different now.

To start, I hit the big 3-0 this year, taking me from that ethereal twenty-something to what seems like a much more “real life” thirty-something. And with that the types of things I care about and the challenges I’m facing in life are also different. I care less about what I’m wearing (spoiler alert: it’s usually yoga pants these days) or the best lipstick for my skin tone (it’s the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey) and more about my health, fertility (or lack thereof) and my career.

Yet, just because my interests have changed doesn’t mean my desire to share my story in the hopes that it can help someone else on their journey has. I’m a dedicated chronic illness advocate, a serial entrepreneur, and a happily married women looking to start a family and support others on their way there as well.

The bottom line is I care. I care about you my readers and I care about continuing to improve myself and be the best version of myself I can be. With that comes a lot of trial and error. A lot of this and that. A lot of success and setback. My goal is that by sharing these steps on my journey, I can help you navigate similar situations and avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

I know not every topic on this blog will necessarily resonate with you. Maybe you’re not interested in building a business or overcoming infertility. That’s why this is a take what you need and leave the rest kind of place. This is my personal lifestyle blog. That means I’ll be sharing what I go in the many different facets and dimensions of my daily life. Read the things that interest or apply to you and leave the rest behind. I won’t be offended if you don’t religiously read every post. I just hope you find something of value in stumbling on my little piece of the internet.

So with that, I believe that the personal blog is most definitely not dead and that there is still room for a new (or old) voice to find it’s place in your Bloglovin’ feed. I hope you’ll stick around as I grow this site and the biggest compliment you can pay me is sharing it with someone else that may find it helpful.

xx Dana Renee