5 Questions With…Shauna Niequist

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I met Shauna Niequist entirely by complete happenstance in 2007 at a local bookstore in Grand Rapids, MI. Her first book Cold Tangerines had just come out and I spotted it leaving the bookstore after a particularly bad law school studying day. This bright orange book about celebrating the every day seemed like something I should buy and as I paid, the clerk told me that Shauna was actually doing a reading…in 5 minutes. So I sat in the back as Shauna shared what inspired Cold Tangerines while her friends and family cheered her on and I was near tears the entire time. Never have I felt such a “Me too!” feeling than when I listened to Shauna that night and over the years as I have read her books, the overwhelming feeling of connection and relatability she conveys in her writing instantly makes you feel…heard. Welcomed. Home.

In this world of picture perfect Instagram feeds and messages of “how-tos” that insinuate that you are the only person on the planet who doesn’t have it together, Shauna has created a space through her storytelling that leaves room for the shiny celebratory moments in life to co-exist with the days you are in your pajamas past noon. That a life walking in faith is worth it and possible. That a amazing dinner parties can consist of elaborate recipes or chinese takeout…and that good champagne should be popped on any night of the week because celebration, big or small, matters.

Long story short: I adore Shauna.

Without further adieu, 5 Questions With…Shauna Niequist.

1. What is your favorite thing about where you live? We are, quite literally, surrounded by family. My brother lives on our street, and all four of our kids’ grandparents are within 15 minutes. Aunts, uncles, cousins—all part of our daily life, around our table, shooting baskets in our driveway. I’m so very very thankful to live in a place where we have deep roots and relationships.
2. Here’s $50- what are you going to do with it? Straight to Whole Foods, or any gourmet grocery. Champagne or prosecco, cheese, jam, blackberries, crusty bread, maybe a bouquet of flowers—peonies or ranunculus. I don’t buy expensive jewelry or whatever, but I love to buy food!
3. What is your favorite holiday and why? Memorial Day, because it’s the beginning of summer, my favorite season. I’m crazy about flip-flops, ponytails, boat rides, ice cream for dinner, sandy feet, pink noses, strawberries, tomato sandwiches.
4. What is the best trip or vacation you have ever been on? My all-time favorite city is Paris, and the last time we were there, on the last night of our trip, Aaron and I sat on the banks of the Seine for hours, across from Notre Dame, watching people and holding hands, watching the light fade on Pont Neuf, and it’s one of my most precious memories.
5. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Write a novel. I probably will anyway, even though I have no idea how, because the older I get, the less afraid I am of failure. 🙂

5 Questions With…Erica Bethe Levin

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Erica Kane

Erica Bethe Levin is everything. No, really. Triple threat (I heart musical theater but this gal can actually rock the stage!), PR whiz, Northwestern alum…oh and founder and Editor-on-Chief of Cheeky Chicago. She created Cheeky Chicago to be the ultimate guide for women in the city and give them the inside scoop on the restaurant scene, events, connect them with other awesome women around town and now 6 years old, Cheeky Chicago has 100% achieved that goal. Posting 30+ articles a week on CheekyChicago.com and partnering with the hottest spots in town to host super cool events, Erica has created a really unique community for women in Chicago, a virtual best friend to let us know the good word is. I am in love with the part of their mission that aims to “Have the confidence to treat all women with respect.” Right on.

In addition to being one heck of an entrepreneur and one of the most grounded, kind people I know, Erica is also a newlywed! She met her husband while waiting for the #22 bus and was married at one of my favorite spots in the city, POPS for Champagne this fall…so cheeky, so Chicago.

Without further adieu, 5 Questions with…Erica Bethe Levin.

1. What is your favorite thing about where you live?  I love the fact that Chicago is the best city in the world. We have skyscrapers AND the beach. Extreme diversity and culture, the best restaurants, a friendly Midwestern mentality and it is super clean. I love that I live IN the city, but it feels like I live in a small neighborhood with trees and flowers and puppies!

2. Here’s 50 bucks- what are you going to do with her? If someone handed me $50, I’d probably go to Whole Foods and make a surprisingly decadent meal for me and my husband.

3. What is your favorite holiday and why?  My favorite holiday is 100% Thanksgiving. It is one of the only holidays that doesn’t require gifts or presents or pretense, and is simply about family, food, being together, and thankfulness.

4. What’s the best trip or vacation you have ever been on? The best trip I’ve ever been on was my honeymoon. All vacations are great, but when you know it’s the only time you’ll ever do it, it just takes it to a whole new level.

 5. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? If I knew I could not fail, I’d probably start about 8 new businesses that have been brewing in my head. After starting CheekyChicago.com, I know the love it takes to nurse and bring a baby business to life. I’d like to do that 100 more times!


5 Questions With…Jacki Carr

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Jacki Carr

I am not sure I know anyone as good at being themselves as Jacki Carr is. A million adjectives describe her, of course, but beyond kind, open, brilliant, strong, and warm, Jacki Carr is Jacki Carr. She IS the adjective.

Goal coach, yogi, and hiking fiend, Jacki lives in LA with her sweet fiance and adorable pups Moose and Bear. In collaboration with the lovely Mary Beth LaRue, Jacki took her love of connection and the possibility that exists within all of us to create the Rock Your Bliss movement. Rock Your Bliss is a goal setting + life living + yoga doing lifestyle movement geared toward pushing you to live a life you love. Jacki is walking the walk and benefiting all of us by also talking the talk. Jacki believes that “living a life you love” isn’t a cliche but is actually possible if you get real, get vulnerable and, as is Rock Your Bliss’ tagline, “make shift happen”…and she is shouting this truth from the rooftops! Speaking from personal experience, 5 minutes with Jacki makes you believe you can rock anything and I hope these 5 questions give you a glimpse into the bliss rocker herself. Oh and spoiler alert: Jacki and I share a serious affinity for elf culture.

So here it is: 5 Questions with…Jacki Carr.

1. What is your favorite think about where you live? I live in crazy Venice Beach, California where we hustle and flow, the beach meets the mountains and it is literally sunny and 70 every day.  My numero uno favorite thing is the absolute easy access to all things nature. I hit the beach to learn to surf in the morning, hike the Santa Monica Mountains in the early afternoon and decide on a last minute to roadtrip North to sleep in a tent under the stars in a National Forest.  All in one day!

2. Here’s 50 bucks- what are you going to do with it? Hey, thanks Nina. I am going to choose adventure.  I’ll take $30 to fill up my PRIUS gas tank and roadtrip North to camp under the stars with my man, our pups and rad friends. Quick stop to grab s’mores materials and goods to grill with the remaining $20 and we are on our way to talking over a campfire, day hiking and nature loving.

3. What is your favorite holiday and why? Hands down, no questions asked, all in on this answer, my favorite holiday is Christmas. There is magic in the air at this time: songs we all know the words to, old classic films you can only watch in December, that giving feeling, travel to see family and my favorite run, the Santa Monica/Venice Christmas 10K. I go back to Indiana every year to celebrate with my humongous family where there is so much love, always a little drama, card playing, gift unwrapping and boozey White Russians. Nina, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. (Ed. note: Yes, yes it is!!!)

4. What’s the best trip or vacation you have ever been on? Last year I traveled Italy with my sister to celebrate her college graduation. We had the most incredible experience bonding on the trains, planes and automobiles and exploring museums, landscapes, churches and bars. Our hashtag for the trip was #morevinograzie.  I shall translate for you:  More Wine Please. My favorite memory was biking through beautiful Tuscany, sipping Chianti while eating decadent pastas and turning the bikes to ride home to Florence in an all out rain storm for 2 hours. I have never laughed harder.

5. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? I often ask this question to so many people, and how funny that I have not asked myself this question in a long time. I would write and perform a one-woman show on a stage about my obsession with self help. There would be a rap about mala beads, crystal stones stuffed in my sports bra for courage and prosperity, books lining the stage like the self help section at B&N, angel cards, feathers everywhere to represent angels, some God squad talk, yoga chat, essential oil smells and I would somehow create a chakra wheel to spin. Tickets, get your tickets!

If you are ready to rock your bliss, you should consider rocking it in Mexico. From March 7-14th, Jacki and Mary Beth are hosting a retreat in Sayulita. yoga, your feet in the sand, margaritas, more yoga, goal creating/setting/crushing? Yes, please! Click here for more details.

You can also get your daily dose of bliss inspiration by following @JackiCarr and @RockYourBliss on Instagram and Facebook. I know I do.



5 Questions With…Megan Runser

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Megan Runser

When I first thought of doing a series where I ask some of the most amazing women I know the same 5 questions, the first person I thought of was Megan Runser. In addition to being one of my dearest friends and a serious contender for the title of funniest person in the world, I knew that sharing anything about her would rock your world because that’s the kind of person she is- quick to make you laugh and even quicker to inspire you. After her Stage IV Hodgkins diagnosis, Megan set out to be “As Good As Gold” again and partnered with BaubleBar to create a line of jewelry under the same moniker. The line is gorgeous and all proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Further, BaubleBar is donating $1 for every post on Twitter or Instagram that shares what gives you strength using the hashtag #AsGoodAsGold. Cool, right? Megan is good AND does good- that’s a winning combo if there ever was one.

So here it is: 5 Questions with…Megan Runser.

1. What is your favorite thing about where you live? Austin, Texas, is my jam for a lot of reasons but namely the fact that I can boogie home to see my family in Houston by hopping in my car for a quick 3 hour car drive instead of the advanced planning required to cruise home via airplane from Chicago and NYC.  Austin also affords an abundant population of active peeps, yoga studios on every corner, insane breakfast taco selections, and a judgment-free “anything goes” casual vibe.  I still hope for a miraculous seasonal climate shift that brings temps down by roughly 30 degrees year round — I’ll let ya know if that happens.

2. Here’s 50 bucks- what are you going to do with it? Hey thanks sugar momma – that $50 would go straight to le bills de MD Anderson(My more fun non-responsible adult answer would be to purchase a bevy of supplies for a lil’ DIY gold foil greeting card action.  I love nothing more than sending friends cards by snail mail, & I’m determined to make them on my own for the sake of economics and creative control, er, freedom!)

3. What’s your favorite holiday and why? Not just because it’s around the corner — but my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it’s one of usually 2 times a year that my family is in the same room. The morning consists of me dragging reluctant parties out the door by 6am for our town’s annual Turkey Trot where I trot and then meet up with the rest of the crew strolling the family walk.  Late afternoon we refuel with 3rd and 4ths (yep, far surpassing second rounds of helpings at the Runser household) and then play some sort of board game as a family.  It always ends with my brother and I as final contenders, and never fails that we end up in a fight because we both hate to lose.

4. What’s the best trip or vacation you have ever been on? The best trips for me aren’t dictated as much by where I go, but rather who I’m with. My 6 best friends from college and I meet up every year towards the end of summer, and it’s always a weekend where every single second is filled with non-stop smiling, laughing, reminiscing, story-telling, big life update sharing, and a bit of more serious reflecting/advice-giving.  I’m so lucky to have had this group of absolutely incredible women as staples in my life for the past 14+ years — friendships of this caliber are hard to come by and even harder to maintain throughout the years.

5. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Co-host The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. No, really – I would. We’d be a stellar team, I just know it.  It might get a little messy given the fact that he’s married, and my desire to marry him would probably only exponentially escalate once we were bestie coworkers…but I’d be willing to maintain the utmost level of professionalism for the sake of making some comedy magic with him.

Click here to check out Megan’s #AsGoodAsGold line with BaubleBar; click here to donate to her personal medical fundraiser.