Date Whoever You Want, but Marry an Engineer.

Date whoever you want, but marry an engineer.

Date whoever you want, but marry an engineer.

I remember talking with a friend in high school about boys. Because obviously, what else do you talk about at 17? (or 27... or 37...)

We both decided it would behoove us to date a wide range of people.

Why not date a starving artist? A jock? A nerd? An older man? Some dude with an accent? I'm inherently curious by people who are different than me, and my 20s seemed like the time to date whoever the heck I wanted.

So I did.

And you know what? Dating through that lens was really hard. I spent nearly a full decade looking for people who were interesting to me, but not a good fit for me.

There was Art Guy who actually wore a pair of Levi's featuring a two-foot shlong he'd screen printed on them himself (Does it surprise you that the same guy also did this?). There was Long Distance Relationship Guy who always took my calls, but could never call me. There was PHD guy, who was a great conversationalist, but then disappeared for days on end (turns out he had a major secret drinking problem).

These relationships always made me feel unsettled, sad and crappy about myself. But I didn't know better.

I believed relationships were inherently challenging.

Most of the ones I grew up around sure seemed that way. I knew very few married couples who struck me as happy. My parents, many of their friends and family were either divorced or constantly complained about their relationships. Much of the marriage advice I absorbed was to "wait as long as you can to get married," "get a prenup" or"don't even bother." One adult person actually told me, a tweenager at the time, that they "hoped I married an asshole so we'd have lots to talk about when I got older."

Nice, right?

It took me years to realize that I was actually ashamed about wanting a healthy, happy relationship. At 27, I decided to actively seek one. I had awesome relationships with family, friends and coworkers-- why should a boyfriend be any different? So, I did something really revolutionary and actually thought about what I wanted in a partner. Then, I wrote it down. 

A few of the 30+ listed items?

  • Is kind and courteous 
  • Likes my friends and family; wants to spend time with them
  • I like their friends and family; want to spend time with them
  • Has car
  • Can fix things
  • Calls/texts me back

Some things on the list might strike you as duh, that's the bare minimum, but as someone who dated four guys in a row who didn't have cars (they claimed it was for environmental purposes or they just "liked" biking or taking the bus... but hey, can I borrow your car again, please?), getting basic was needed. 

One week after I wrote this list, I started dating Josh. 

He wasn't like the other guys. First of all, he's a super-smart engineer, and passionate about his job. He picked me up for our first date in a vehicle he owns (!). He's ambitious. Kind. Funny. Responsible. Thoughtful. Handy. And he really, really likes me. Josh hit on every single one of the points I listed, and so many more I never even knew I wanted.  

While things haven't always been easy for us (like the time he moved to Mexico for two years, nbd), we've always been able to talk openly and honestly. I've never had a romantic relationship like that. With Josh, I always feel heard and supported. He sees me for who I am, and loves me because of it (or maybe in spite of it).

I love him sosososo much. 

Today, Josh and I are celebrating our second year of marriage (and about eight years together?). Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it's not like 50 years or anything, but it's something. The biggest lesson I've learned? 

With the right person, love doesn't have to be so hard. 

Yes, hard things happen. We've had our fair share of hurdles, and I know there are biggies in our future-- stuff I can't even imagine. And next month, things are about to get a whole lot realer when we add a baby to the mix. But I feel confident knowing that I picked the right person to slog though the tough stuff with.

So for anyone out there who may be lost in the dating world: Kiss all the frogs (or DJs or guys without cars or artists with shlong jeans) you want. But marry an engineer. At least that's what worked for me. 

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PS Here's the photos from our boxing gym wedding two years ago. Makes me smile. 

This Week's Best Stuff on the Internet

This video about young Bulgarian women being bought and sold at a bride market was absolutely fascinating. It's a bit of a longer watch, but I walked away feeling differently than I expected. Still, you should never be able to BUY A WIFE. Come on.

Whilst driving back from the cabin last weekend, we encountered some major construction traffic that required us to merge into one lane. "Luckily", some "good samaritan" in a mini van sat in the soon-to-be-closed lane, forcing people to merge early. GUYS. NO. You're supposed to do the zipper method. Apparently, my fellow Minnesotans are so bad at this that WIRED magazine called us out. Ugh, shame shame shame.

Think ladies like to receive unsolicited dick pics? We don't. Here's what one of us did about it

Why you might want to think twice before buying those super cheap jeans.

Planning on traveling internationally? Here's 3 important things you need to know about your passport, according to travel expert Samantha Brown. 

File this under embarrassing: 78-year-old dad takes out full-page dating ad for single son. Awkward.

If you're at all paying attention to the blogger/ecourse/webinar world, you've undoubtedly seen people claiming they can help you make 6-figures in a matter of weeks. Ha. Riiiight. Thanks, by Regina for speaking the truth about this nonsense.  

Thanks to Mike Laninga for having me on the Twin Cities Podcast this week! Fun conversation about Hey Eleanor, what I love about the Twin Cities, plus my favorite "sport."

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How to Always Find An Awesome Restaurant

My secret weapon for finding the best restaurants when traveling. 

My secret weapon for finding the best restaurants when traveling. 

I love food.

When I travel, I could pretty much skip any museum or landmark and just hit up restaurants. And coffee shops. And dive bars. And ice cream places. 

I think good food makes or breaks a vacation, a birthday, a celebration, or just a meal away from home. It bums me out when people come to my city and eat at an Olive Garden instead of Matt's Bar or Hola Arepa. Come on, you work hard for the money, so why not spend it on delicious food you can't get anywhere else?

Outside of this blog, I'm primarily a food and travel writer. I get peppered with emails and texts from people seeking restaurant recs all the time. While I'm well-versed in many U.S. city's greatest hits, I often find myself double-checking my work. 

There is a place I can almost always depend on for good restaurant advice. 

It's certainly not Yelp. (Who even knows who's writing those reviews?!)

It's not TripAdvisor. (Ick.)

It's not a New York Times review from 1996. 

When I'm traveling, I turn to Eater.

If you're not familiar, Eater is website all about food, restaurant and chef news. They do have a national site, but also city-themed micro sites that get updated daily. The best part? They actually rely on local writers who know things and are passionate about their city's food scene, not just average joes who want to bitch about a restaurant experience online.

Eater is great for travelers looking to find awesome restaurants.

You can pretty much get an overview of the an entire city's food scene through their Eater 38 lists (aka the best 38 restaurants in a particular city), Heat Maps (lists of what's hot right now; not always winners, but definitely the buzziest!), plus roundups of best places to cocktail, brunch, grab a coffee (<<< I actually wrote this Minneapolis one for them, NBD) and more. Each listing is short and sweet, perfect for getting the vibe of a place without having to dig through 2,000 word reviews from the local monthly magazine. Plus, they feature hoity-toity spots next to down and dirty dives, so trust me: there's something on Eater for everyone, not just people swimming in money. 

If the city you're visiting doesn't have a dedicated Eater site yet, use their search function to see if they've written about wherever you're going. For example, Madison, Wisconsin doesn't have one, but I searched "Wisconsin" and found this super-helpful list, which prompted my husband and I to grab a drink at Graft & dinner at Estrellon. Both were great. If you're traveling internationally, try there search function-- they do offer some, but not tons, of global recommendations. 

So, if you're traveling in the near future and want to impress your friends or coworkers with your restaurant expertise, check out my secret weapon. You won't be sorry. 

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What's your favorite way to find places to eat, sleep and hang out when you travel? Share in the comments. PS Here's where I ate while in Nashville. Guess where I got many of those recommendations... 

How I always find amazing restaurants when I travel. 

How I always find amazing restaurants when I travel. 

How I Quit My Fear of Flying

Are you afraid of flying? Read this. 

Are you afraid of flying? Read this. 

Jasmin Charlotte is a blogger who focuses on technology, adventure and travel. That last part is rather notable, given that she has a serious flying phobia. However, she wasn't about to let a little hysterical crying, sweaty palms and pre-trip nausea keep her from seeing the world. She decided to actively work on overcoming her fear, and for the most part she's succeeded. 

Here's how Jasmin quit her fear of flying.

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Do you remember when your fear of flying began?

I definitely didn't have it when I was younger, I slept blissfully! I think it started when I was a teenager and I had quite a big gap in between when I had been on planes. This led to me building it up in my mind and eventually the fear starting. My mum has always had a really bad fear of flying which I think contributed to it as well!

What did the fear feel/look like in the days leading up to the flight? What about on the flight?

It would consume me for the days before hand and it was all I would think about, slowly getting worse and worse as I thought of more scenarios. It would wiggle its way into my dreams and it was guaranteed I wouldn't sleep the night before. I actually made myself sick from it once! On the flight, it was even worse, usually crying, lots of nervous jumping and grabbing onto seat arms at the slight move of turbulence. Not fun!

Despite the fact that flying terrifies you, what was it that made you decide the prospect of travel was worth all the scary stuff?

As I was living in New Zealand, I didn't have much choice - if I wanted to leave the country I had to fly!! My family moved away to Aus and the UK as well. I really love travel, it is something that means so much to me and I made a pact to myself very early on that despite how horrible the flying was, I would never let it stop me from exploring the world and doing the things I love.

What was the first step you took to conquering your fear?

I went on a mission to find more information and to get help for it. I visited the doctor, who really helped me in those early days to calm down. Then, I listened to podcasts and bought some free ebooks which ran through the fear itself and let me be able to rationalise it. It was a gradual process and I definitely do still get a bit of anxiety running up to the flight, but nowhere near as much as I did. I haven't shed a tear on a flight in years!

What do you do prior to the trip to deal with your anxiety?

It is all about not letting it snowball. If I sit and dwell on it, then I know I will continually worry. I try and keep busy all the way up until the trip and also try and book something nice the day before. I usually go for something like a massage as they are one of my favourite things. I know that if I have that booked, whenever I start thinking about flying I can distract myself with thoughts of my amazing massage. Doing a whole lot of holiday planning and researching is a great distraction too!

What do you do once you get to the airport?

It's key to make sure you don't get stressed here as then it puts you in the anxiety mindset. I always try and get to the airport early, leaving plenty of time for bags and security. There's nothing worse than getting stressed out and worked up right before the flight. This also leaves time for a bite to eat and to buy some bits and pieces to take on the plane. Again, keeping busy is key, need to keep the mind ticking over! Make sure you take an interesting book to bury your head in as well.

On the plane?

I have certain things on the plane which make me more anxious. I totally hate take off a lot more than the rest of flight. I always make sure that I either block my ears or have music on and am reading a book or magazine. I get more worked up when warm, so try and keep the fan on and where less clothing on this bit - I always get really sweaty palms!

I know that once the seatbelt signs are off and people are wandering about that I will start to feel a bit calmer. I also really recommend looking into some breathing techniques and yoga for the plane and that is essential at calming your bodies reaction.

When I was still very scared, I would also inform the flight attendant before the plane took off, this way they will usually come and check on you which always did a good job at calming me down! I still don't enjoy turbulence, mainly as it reminds me I'm in the air! But I have done more reading around it which has made me feel better, it's always described as a bumpy road, and we all know that the journey to the airport has a whole lot of bumpy roads, so it's bound to happen in the sky too!

Since you’ve deliberately decided to face your flying fears, have you noticed a big shift in your brain and body when it comes to flying? What do you think made the biggest difference?

Definitely! I'm no longer weeping from check in until my destination! I can fly and finally look like everyone else on the plane, calm and normal. I think it's really a combination of all of the tips above and really working on techniques to reduce anxiety. It's also been key to fly regularly and more often. My fear will build up if I leave it too long, so I always try and fly a couple times a year at least, which is a lot easier now with all the cheap flights in Europe!

Advice for someone who’s afraid to fly?

Do your research and find some good books on the topic, research anxiety and breathing techniques, pinpoint your key anxiety points and work on mitigating those, and always make sure you just get on that plane!!

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Big thanks to Jasmin for sharing her story. Learn more about her & her adventures at She's also on Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Are you afraid of flying (or have some other crippling fear)? How have you been able to overcome it? Share your tips in the comments!

PS Here's a fantastic interview about how my friend Beth overcame her fear of rollercoasters

A few practical tips for overcoming your fear of flying. 

A few practical tips for overcoming your fear of flying. 

This Week's Best Stuff on the Internet

This video is why I don't work in corporate America. 

If you had to choose, would you give up women's right to vote or La Croix? I'm thankful I'll never have to make such a decision. 

New York Mag (aka my favorite magazine) ate, drank and slept in the Twin Cities. Here's the places they loved. I couldn't agree more. 

Are you getting married in the near future? Here's the ultimate wedding playlist. I know you're going to read that and be all "but these are all so mainstream!" Yep. The thing is, what you think you'll want to hear at your wedding isn't not what you'll actually want hear at your wedding. Take it from a gal who's last song was "Don't Stop Believin." If our DJ had asked if that was cool, I would've said no way. In real life, it was perfect. 

24 things women over 30 should wear.

Does your favorite dad like soccer? Is he stylish? Here's the perfect Father's Day gift

Looking for a new podcast to listen to? Here's tons of awesome options. 

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33 More Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Looking for podcast suggestions? Keep on reading, friend. 

Looking for podcast suggestions? Keep on reading, friend. 

To me, summer is all about road trips.

And road trip are all about beef jerky, Twizzlers, fun playlists and podcasts. 

The biggest hurdle with podcasts is finding one to listen to in the first place. There's a gazillion out there, so how do you narrow it down?

I posed this question to a bunch of smartypants friends and got so many suggestions that I decided to split up the recs into two separate posts (here's the last podcast suggestion post). Here's a bunch more to add to your podcast repertoire. 

*And a note on podcast etiquette*
Take the time to rate and review the podcasts that you really enjoy. That's what boosts them in the rankings and helps interested people discover new shows.

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Love, Life, Relationships, Emotions

Dear Sugar
Writers Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond answer listener's questions about love, heartbreak, and how to handle complicated interpersonal relationship questions. I've been meaning to listen to this one for awhile, and then I did, and now I've basically listened to every single episode. It's like Dear Abby for 2016. But better.

Familiar with Man Repeller? If not, that's cool, you can click on this link and learn all about it. If you know and like it, founder Leandra now has a 10-minutes podcast full of thoughts on style, fashion and life thoughts. My friend Rebecca is a huge fan, calling this show "raw and honest and everything."

Who doesn't love a good, public cry sesh? These guys talk about the viral videos, commercials, movies and more than make us tear up. But in a fun way.

Mainstream Greatness

.... is back! Or almost back (June 17, 2016). If you're not familiar with this stellar podcast, here's the gist: Invisibilia explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior – thoughts, emotions, assumptions, expectations. Season One offered six episodes, each one better than the next. Excited to see what these ladies unravel in season two. 

Love + Radio
This one is a little polarizing for people, even from episode to episode. Things my friends have said about this show: "Probably my favorite podcast," "Raw," "Spooky," "Uncomfortable," "mesmerizing," and "I like Love and Radio, sometimes." Regardless, everyone (myself included) can agree that the Choir Boy episode will blown your damn mind.

One of my all-time faves. Stephen Dubner examines the hidden side of everything as viewed through an economist's lens. 

If You Liked the Serial Podcast...

Life of the Law
How do you even begin to talk about law if you don’t know the legalease or the court processes? In 2012, Life of the Law is a bi-weekly investigative report on law in America that everyone can understand. After all, doesn’t law belong to everyone?

Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.

Detective is a hit podcast from Investigation Discovery. Check out their new season, featuring Detective Garry McFadden, a 27-year veteran of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, aka the largest newsroom in the southeast, delivers investigations and true crime cases that you cannot find anywhere else.

Missing Maura Murray
At 7:35pm, on February 9th, 2004, New Hampshire State Police are called to scene of a single car accident. A U-Mass Amherst student named Maura Murray vanished after she apparently lost control of her vehicle. When authorities arrived not ten minutes later, Maura was gone. There has been no credible sighting of her since, and now there's a podcast all about it.

Dinner Party Fodder

Lore is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed podcast about true life scary stories. Each episode examines a new dark tale from history, and presents it in a style that's been compared to a campfire experience. 

Note to Self
Is your phone watching you? Can wexting make you smarter? Are your kids real? These and other essential quandaries for anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age. Join host Manoush Zomorodi for your weekly reminder to question everything.

Niche Sports!

Interviews about outdoors, rock climbing, and mountaineering. My friend Blaine says, "Even if you have zero interest in rock climbing, the host Chris Kalous is a Terry Gross-level interviewer and many of the shows end up being extremely fascinating or funny."  His favorite episodes are Frank Sanders and James Lucas.

Other favorite outdoorsy podcasts include The Dirtbag Diaries (similar content to the Enormocast, but in a more This American Life style), and Out There (a well-produced show about various topics related to the outdoors).

The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Cabana is an independently booked professional wrestler who travels the world. My cousin Josh says, "I like this podcast for non-wrestling fans because it talks about the sacrifices that these men and women make to follow their dreams. Independent wrestling is a combination of the life of a comedian, indy rock star and truck driver. It's all about the stories and miles."

The definitive gymnastics podcast. My friend Diana says, "These people have a wonderful way of getting the juicy dirt, but still understanding that they have kids listening. They cover everything from abuse in kids' sports and how to deal with it to the Italian MTV reality following the Italian national team. If you want to know what's going on during the Olympics this year, listen to a few of these this summer."

Let's Talk About Race, Baby 

Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race
A lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America. This show is "About Race."

My cousin Josh says, "I got into this podcast because I needed to learn about all this racial turmoil from a safe place without judgement. It's an interesting podcast that I would advise against bingeing because the topics are heavy at times."

Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period
If that last one sounds too heavy, maybe check out this really funny but also full of insights on race in America. Or do both! 

Business, Business, Business. Money, Money, Money.

The Dave Ramsey Show
Dave Ramsey teaches you to manage and budget your money, get out of debt, build wealth, and live in financial peace. My friend Ulf is a fan, and says, "Yes it's personal finance show and not everyone views things this way, but every time you hear someone scream "I'm debt free!" it makes you keep going toward any goal you're pursing in life." He also recommends the Ramsey-produced Entreleadership, featuring good advice for leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs and more. 

Politics! Religion!

Uncommon Knowledge
Oh hey conservatives (or the conservative-curious)! Peter Robinson was a speech writer for Reagan (Tear down this wall!) and he pretty much interviews intellectual conservatives. This one comes from my friend Ulf again: "The Peter Thiel episode was a good one. Maybe I just like this because I like smart conservatives? Call that an oxymoron if you'd like."

The RobCast
Rob Bell talks about spirituality. My friend Katie says, "This podcast feels like going to Church, if church is me running outside while listening to really compelling versions of the bible. It’s not as religious as you might think. It’s thought provoking and comforting at the same time."

Intelligence Squared
Today's top political & ethical topics tackled in an Oxford-style debate. The show encourages audiences to “think twice,” fostering intelligent discussion grounded in facts. One of my personal faves.

Health n Wellness n Stuff

Nom Nom Paleo Podcast
Each week, the Tam family gathers around the dining room table to dive into delicious recipes, food trends, and our culinary (and non-culinary) adventures. Great for paleo enthusiasts or the paleo-curious. 

Bulletproof Radio
Bulletproof Executive Radio was born out of a fifteen-year single-minded crusade to upgrade the human being using every available technology. It distills the knowledge of world-class MDs, biochemists, Olympic nutritionists, meditation experts, and more than $250,000 spent on personal self-experiments. Think of it as the Cliffs notes for self-help and wellness.


Get Smarter

Lightspeed Spanish
It's Spanish English teachers chatting in Español! My friend Diana says, "It's great for brushing up in reasonable doses. They even have a handy episode on Spanish swear words. I studied in Spain, so I particularly love that they have those lispy castillian accents. It makes me happy."

The Memory Palace
Short, surprising stories of the past, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, always super-great. For history buffs, fans of public radio shows like This American Life Radio Lab.

Hardcore History
The perfect companion for looooong drives. Dan Carlin's hours-long shows delve way deep into all sorts of world history. Like, waaaaay deep. It's fantastic. 


Real Life Stories, Featuring Funny People

Now What Did We Learn
Thought-provoking but fun interviews and topics from comedian and YouTube guy Ross Everett. Now What Did We Learn explores the stories that made the people you love who they are today.

WILOSOPHY with Wil Anderson
Perhaps Australia's biggest comedian at the moment, Wil Anderson get really deep with other comics about personal life philosophies and what it means to balance ego with art.


Movie, Books, Pop Culture 

In depth talk about whatever is trending on Netflix. The perfect antidote for for when you reach the end of a series and you're devastated that it's over.

The Thread
Kerri Miller's new podcast features all different types of folks talking about a book that influenced them.

The Read
Pop culture podcast from NYC transplants Kid Fury & Crissle who hold nothing back in their love or hate of anything music, movie, television, and the internet at large. 

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What are you listening to and loving? Share in the comments!

If you're into other recommendations, I have this one and this one alll about books. 


(plus a FREE copy of 107 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone)

33 awesome podcast suggestions to help you get through your next road trip, long run or whatever else you're up to.

33 awesome podcast suggestions to help you get through your next road trip, long run or whatever else you're up to.