A New Adventure Begins – My Plexus Story

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Fad diets – we’ve all tried one or another at some point in our lives. I’ve tried many. I have struggled with my weight since I broke my leg in 2009, as well as battled intestinal issues for the majority of my life. I have tried everything from checking for thyroid issues, gluten-intolerant issues, you name it – but nothing changed the fact that achieving a healthy weight has been next to impossible over the last six years, regardless of healthy eating and working out.

Many will say “if you eat healthy or put the right foods in your body and work out consistently, you will lose weight.” Well, I am here to tell you that has simply not been my experience. I have never been able to lose weight with diet and exercise alone. While I did lose weight on some other “fad diets”, or diet programs, the programs were far more restrictive than my body could handle. Yes, I realize that losing weight isn’t easy, and that it’s uncomfortable to cut sugar from your diet (at least for the first three days). And while I could handle the hunger pangs or the pressure headaches (driven from hunger and irregular blood sugar) for a certain period of time, I would eventually lose the desired weight and go back to a normal, still healthy and restrictive, diet and gain all the weight back, plus more. THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE. At least, this is no way for me to live. Constant weight fluctuation is incredibly unhealthy, mostly for your heart. I have actually seen some one under the age of 30 pass away from a heart attack due to weight “yo-yoing”.

plexuslogoI decided to try Plexus after a college friend (who I trust) had seen some awesome results after she had her son. Granted, I have not had children (yet) but I know many women struggle with losing the post partum baby weight. So, I watched her Facebook posts silently for a couple of months – and I became so impressed with her journey and her results. I finally decided to reach out to her about buying in at the wholesale level because I wanted to do this in the most cost-effective way. Although I’m married and my husband has a great job, we travel for his job while maintaining a household back home (thus making us maintain TWO households total). I have student loans and I’m an opera singer in the young artist phase of my career. Let’s just say – I don’t roll in the cash, so I like to stick pretty close to a budget and do things cost-effectively.

After a few days on the product, I couldn’t help but want to share how I felt with everyone I know! As one could imagine, struggling with intestinal issues (even mild ones) is painful, annoying, and super inconvenient to the point it can hinder even your social life or ability to go places and do normal things. Four days in, and already I feel a huge difference. Not to mention, I can still eat three (healthy) meals a day, and I don’t feel fatigued and I don’t get headaches. So far, so good, and I am really excited about that.

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Selling product and having people join my Plexus team is only a plus! If sharing my experience can encourage or motivate others to make a lifestyle change to becoming healthier (whatever that may be), then my job is done.

If you have questions, please reach out! I can provide much more in-depth information about the products and you can read more at http://amandabraun.myplexusproducts.com.

xo,

Amanda

A little this, a little that

Although a new year brings new beginnings, I sure do hate cleaning up after Christmas! It always saddens me to realize how quickly the Christmas season goes – and taking the Christmas tree down is always feels like a dirge. But I am very proud that I actually got all of my Christmas things in their respective boxes and put away in the garage – all before goIMG_3084ing back to work on Monday! (This is a huge feat for those of you that do not know how disorganized I can be). With the wedding, Thanksgiving and Christmas all following behind one another, I haven’t been able to even look up until this weekend to realize how disheveled our house is. My office began the transition into the Wedding Registry Room around September. I figured since I was on a roll with the whole cleaning thing – I’d finally tackle the office. And…it took me ALL DAY. But I am so glad that it is finally done. And I’m now realizing that I actually need some chairs for my office! Or SOMETHING. It’s just a little bare and I feel like the emptiness makes my Hepburn photo seem a little bit overpowering. But nonetheless, here is my little corner of the universe where I do my bloggin’, facebookin’ and photograph editin’. Not a bad space.

Speaking of photographs, I received a beautiful camera from Andrew for Christmas! I have been experiencing an urge to take up photography on the side, mainly as a hobby – not necessarily trying to make it a money-making opportunity. I have been thinking of taking up this hobby for a while, but what finally inspired me was the beautiful rusted vintage truck that sits on the lot across a field from our back yard in Alabama. This truck and the greenery that surrounds it has provided a RSCN0327beautiful view out of my kitchen window since we moved here last June. I have been admiring this truck so much that it finally forced me to delve into my desire a little more. So, like any good husband, Andrew listed to I’m sure what seemed to him as an impulse Christmas request. And now I am actively seeking a beginning photography class or a photographer to work with who can show me the ropes a little bit. I enjoy pretty things and pretty views, but it is certainly challenging at times to find scenes that immediately inspire me. Although a good eye is a must – creativity is definitely a requirement in any art form; and I am enjoying every minute of challenging another artistic/creative side of myself (that I’m not entirely sure exists right yet).

I’ll be honest, I am definitely ready to get back to work – not only to the 9-5 job, but also the music stuff. I have been teaching voice lessons here and there to a few students in Huntsville. I started a job with a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) back in early November to keep me busy during normal business hours because working 100% from home was driving me loco. After the wedding, I took a much needed break from auditions and decided to not go to New York during the month of December. First time in three years that I decided to not go – but it was definitely for the best. I needed the mental break over the last three months while taking stress-free/low maintenance singing opportunities. (I will certainly never QUIT fully, but everyone needs a breather every now and again.) Now that the new year is here – it’s time to hit the pavement! I’m starting it off with a recital in Huntsville at Church of the Nativity on January 17th! Only two weeks away! And I am certainly looking forward to reuniting with the fabulous collaborative pianist, Syneva Colle.

Who knows what’s next – I never know, and that’s the beauty of it. All I do know is – Dreams don’t work unless YOU DO.

xo,

Amanda

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady

The wedding finally came and now it has passed! It all went so quickly – it’s just mind blowing.

I still cannot believe we moved the wedding from Cabo to Tulum, Mexico all within two and a half weeks. The damage that Dreams Cabo sustained from Hurricane 4999Odile was just too much for the resort to handle in such a short time frame. But, in all honesty, the wedding exceeded both Andrew’s and my expectations. I wanted to get married in a chapel, but we couldn’t find on we liked in Cabo. Dreams Tulum had a beautiful chapel on site and, luckily, they had availability for the day before our original wedding date of October 18th.

We only lost 4 guests due to inability to change travel plans. So with 52 guests, we spent a beautiful week in Tulum for our wedding and then spent an additional week in Puerto Aventuras near Playa del Carmen. It was so beautiful and relaxing. After the wedding, we went back to Fort Worth to spend some much needed time at our house. We spent the week exchanging and/or shopping for home goods – which ended up being a lot more fun than both of us expected.

We returned to Huntsville, AL on Halloween and Andrew went back to work on Monday. To add a little bit of insult to injury, I ended up losing my job right before the wedding due to a company downsize. So I spent some time last week applying for new jobs and interviewed for a position on Monday. I start my new job on Thursday morning (tomorrow)! I will be working for Yorktown Systems Group, Inc – a S5031ervice Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). I will be working in HR and Administrative/Office Management.

I’m excited to start this new job since it’s actually my first completely full-time, salaried job I’ve taken. Going straight from undergrad to grad school, and taking more than the usual amount of time in graduate school has made it almost impossible for me to take full time work. I’ve always had to get creative with a multitude of part time jobs that I could fit into the hours of the day that I didn’t have school or rehearsal. Now that life has slowed down just a little bit, I’m going to spend some time working and saving money for auditions. I am also looking at some adjunct teaching positions in Huntsville – but until something materializes, I will be with Yorktown for the time being!

Married life has been great! And we are looking forward to the holidays. Andrew and I will be putting up our first Christmas tree this year since we’ll be in the same place during the holiday months. We are going to stay in Huntsville for Thanksgiving and head back to Texas for Christmas and New Years. We’re going to drive to Nashville and spend Thanksgiving day with the Terwilligers – I’m really looking forward to that!

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Voice Lessons and Coachings now available!

After a lot of consideration, I have decided to offer voice lessons! Please visit the Vocal Coaching page for more information. I am currently located in the Huntsville, AL area primarily and travel frequently to Dallas, TX. I am available for Skype lessons as well as graduate school / young artist program consultations for undergraduate singers who wish to continue their studies in music! Amanda Walden, soprano

More information on my singing and stage experience can be found at  www.AmandaWalden.com and I can be contacted at (972) 591-6657 or AmandaWaldenStudio@gmail.com.

Navigating Your Personal Labyrinth

A quote in The New Yorker from an article entitled “Every Good Boy Does Fine” has really struck me to my core this week. The article was written a little over a year ago but has been making it’s way around social media over the last week; and, although the article is about the developing career (and lifestyle) of a pianist, I think it can apply to anyone with even a pea-size amount of ambition, not just to musicians. The quote:

“Sometimes you wish you could go back and ask your teachers again to guide you; but up there onstage, exactly where they always wanted you to be, you must simply find your way. They have given all the help they can; the only person who can solve the labyrinth of yourself is you.”labyrinth

This is written by Jeremy Denk, a contributor for The New Yorker who seems to write a lot about his life experiences through his music-making. You can find more information about him and follow his blog at JeremyDenk.net

The reason this quote has resonated within me is because it applies to so many facets of life. I mean, obviously it influences me personally because of my background in opera/classical voice studies. But, as with many artists, artistry is much deeper than what others might see on the surface. I have learned that the more I study and coach with voice teachers, coaches, directors, etc – I learn that these people turn out to be quasi-therapists rather than only fulfilling their job titles. It is awesome and exhausting all at the same time. Beyond the music, I learn more about myself, what my most inner thoughts and feelings are (and what they might mean), where my fears come from, and how I can take steps to overcome them. The more I draw out these repressed, deeper thoughts (that I haven’t always realized were there), the more I look to my coach or teacher for answers. But the truth lies within Jeremy Denk’s final sentence – “The only person who can solve the labyrinth of yourselselftalk1f is you.” IS YOU – YOU, YOU, YOU. Three little letters of a language that we are so familiar with, yet, it can feel so foreign at the same time. Just when I think I have reached a new level of understanding myself, personally and musically, I realize that I have much further to go. However, I don’t let this feeling defeat me (or, at least, I try to not let it defeat me). 

negative1Negative self talk can create a psychological implosion. This self talk, in my opinion, can be the meanest bully in the world, and the most frustrating thing is that we cannot stop it from happening. We can only make decisions on how to react to it. In my exper ience, it is best that we try our hardest to ignore it or attempt to defy it. But at the end of the day, you are the only one that can control you. You are the captain of the vessel that sails through your labyrinth. And even though you can’t always see what’s ahead – remember that you hold the map. 

xo, Amandaship2

Can You Actually Make Money Blogging?

Can You Actually Make Money Blogging?.

This is certainly a good read for anyone starting a blog. Although I have blogged over the years to give myself an outlet for rambling for fun, I have given serious thought about blogging more professionally. What are your thoughts on blogging professionally? The most important thing is to engage readers and maintain connections and friendships with the people that visit my page! But do you know how it feels when you feel like you’ve got something to say, or you REALLY want to share something with everyone?

If you were going to start a blog, what would your topic be? What would you want to blog about? I think this is the most difficult part of starting a blog. Leave your comments – let me know what you think!

And head over to Living in Yellow, she has a lot of great insight on blogging, fashion, life, etc!

xo, amanda

Easy Crockpot Chili

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Ingredients

  • 1 Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit
  • 2 lbs ground turkey (or ground beef if you prefer)
  • 1 can Spicy Chili Beans
  • 1 can Red Beans, reduced sodium
  • 1 carton/can Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cans Rotel diced tomato with green chilies
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 small/medium-sized Yellow Onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • However many jalapeños you want (we like it hot in our house!)

Instructions

  1. Brown your meat in skillet, drain any grease.
  2. Once meat is browned, pour contents of chili packet and salt packet in the box  over the meat. There is also a small bag of paprika in the chili kit. The paprika is optional depending on how spicy you want your chili. Personally, I don’t think it’s adds that much spice but for those of you that are sensitive, proceed with caution 🙂 NOTE: Only use the flour packet if you want a very thick chili. After seasonings are mixed into meat, turn burner on low and let it sit.
  3. In another skillet, pour 1 tbsp of olive oil and the 1 tbsp on minced garlic. Chop/dice onions, jalapeños and bell pepper and put into skillet over a medium heat.
  4. Once the veggies are cooked, put all contents into crock pot – meat, veggies, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomato/green chilies. Turn the crock pot on low for 8 hours (or high for 6 hours).

This chili is great! And even better, it’s very easy. I typically have all the seasonings in my cabinet that the chili kit comes with, but the nice thing is the chili kit provides pre-measured packets. It’s saves a little bit of time. I top the chili with reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of plain greek yogurt (a fabulous substitute for sour cream!). YUM!

Also – it doesn’t HAVE to cook for 6-8 hours. As soon as it’s hot, it’s ready to go. But it does get tastier the longer it sits.

Enjoy 😉