In February 2018, I self-published my first book, Run My World: How I Empowered Myself Through Fitness. It would not have been possible without the support of incredible friends, mentors, and role models, and now I’m highlighting some of the amazing people in my life that run their worlds.
Empowered (wo)men empower (wo)men, so now I’m raising a glass to some of the best people I know. I’m so grateful to share their stories — I promise you’ll be even more inspired to run your world!
Mary’s note: As the youngest of 8, I’m often drawn to people who feel like a big sister. After connecting with Kelly on Instagram, I was like, “OK how are you so awesome? How have you been so successful in your marketing career? What can I learn from you? Can you be my big sister???” It’s funny because she actually wanted to learn from me about writing a book! Kelly is genuinely one of the most thoughtful and brilliant women I’ve met in Chicago, and I’m sure you will all admire her as much as I do.
Client Partner working in advertising technology at Salesforce and Founder/Author of Lipstick & Ink, a career & lifestyle blog and events business.
In one sentence, what does it mean for you to run your world?
To me, it means taking life into your own hands and simply, running with it – and not letting anything get in your way of achieving what you set out to do.
Acknowledge Your Past: What’s one lesson from your past that has really influenced your life?
In my first job out of college, there were months upon months that went by where I was at the office for up to 14 hours per day. At first, I succumbed to it and thought I had to put in that kind of work to move up the corporate ladder. I was young and I assumed I didn’t really have a voice, so I continued putting in the time, despite how miserable I was. I have never been so unhealthy or unhappy in my life.
I eventually mustered the courage to bring up my concerns to my team, including the Director. I came with reasonable solutions and even though I was nervous, I felt confident they’d hear me out and oblige. Except, they didn’t. I decided to then take it upon myself to go to HR and voice my opinion, as scary as that seemed at the time. I again was turned down.
I finally realized that while yes, I only had a year and a half experience under my belt, I had a choice and I knew I didn’t want to work at a company that didn’t value their employees and their health. That whole experience taught me that if I want to be happy and successful, I need to speak up for myself and I need to look out for myself because sometimes, no one is.
I have taken that lesson with me throughout my entire career and applied it into everyday life. I’ve been told that I have no problem speaking up and that I don’t take shit from anyone, and while some might see that as a negative, I’m 100% proud of that. I am glad to be the person I am today instead of the girl who didn’t realize her worth and let people walk all over her for far too long.
Find Your Fit: What are your favorite ways to move and exercise? How did you find your fit?
In my teens and early 20s, I considered myself a runner. Any time I felt like I needed to exercise or just clear my head, I went for a run. I also did a number of races that made me feel invincible. Unfortunately, my knees were never meant for me to be a runner. I realized how fragile my knees were when I was in my mid-20’s and decided that I had to find other ways to move and exercise both my body and my mind.
I started taking PureBarre and Barre Code classes in 2014 and absolutely fell in love with it. I loved the challenge of the isometric movements but also the way my body felt after taking my barre classes. I also started incorporating reformer pilates in 2016 (shout out to Body R+D in Lakeview!) and found it somewhat similar to barre in the way it shaped my body. These were both classes I genuinely looked forward to and even better, I found myself getting leaner and stronger than I had ever been. I haven’t looked back since and I’d say 90% of the workouts I do now are purely barre and Pilates. But I also really enjoy a good long walk on a beautiful Chicago day!
Fuel Your Body: What is your favorite meal to fuel your body? What is your favorite meal to fuel your soul?
I’m always a sucker for Left Coast’s avocado toast and açaí bowl to fuel my body. But if I’m not splurging on that, I gravitate towards my old fashioned oats, banana, and natural peanut butter. As for my favorite meal to fuel my soul – I could die happy after crushing a pepperoni pizza and some ice cream.
Have you had any struggles with your relationship with food? How do you try to fight/challenge the cultural standards around dieting and disordered eating?
I think any woman would be lying if they said they didn’t have struggles with their relationship with food. I’ve struggled with my weight and my thoughts about it a lot in the past, and it’s been hard. I used to buy into all the diet and exercise fads of how to lose weight and I look back and realize how unhealthy I was at various points in my life. I now like to think I’m fairly confident in my own skin and my body. I look at food now purely as fuel – regardless if it’s “good” or “bad” for you. All food is good in moderation!
Practice Mindfulness: Do you meditate? If so, how? How do you try to be mindful on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
I actually don’t meditate in the traditional sense – I’ve tried it on my own and just can’t get it to work for me. I think because I am so much of a class person, if I went to a meditation class, I’d do much better in that setting. Instead though, I try to just be mindful in everyday life and know when to take time for me and know when it’s okay to say no to focus on myself. For me, practicing mindfulness is writing in my journal or for my blog, reading a book, or going for a walk with no distractions.
HIIT vs. LISS: Tell us about your work-life “balance.” How do you manage planning/productivity/self-care while being a straight-up hustler?
I’m fortunate to work for a company that believes in positive work/life balance and have a job that is more flexible than others. That definitely helps and it allows me to balance my side business while also maintaining a social life. My calendar, planner, and to-do list are what keep me sane. I am constantly inputting or jotting things down to keep myself on track and ensure I hit everything I want to accomplish in a given day, week, or month.
I’m also trying to get in the habit of batch working, where you essentially work on one task for a certain amount of time and then move on to the next task for another period of time. It’s difficult because I’m a master multi-tasker, but I’ve found multi-tasking does me more harm than good!
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: What did you do in 2018 that was most out of your comfort zone? What is something you really want in 2019 that you’re a little scared to do?
I hosted my first event with Lipstick & Ink in 2018 and I have never felt so much out of my comfort zone. I had to put myself out there and promote my event and pray that people would show up. Once I got the people there, I then had to stand up in front of everyone and speak, which public speaking has been a fear of mine for years. It was terrifying, but it also felt so damn good. I grew so much from that experience and it’s made me realize how important events really are for cultivating and fostering relationships, so that’s something I plan to do more of 2019.
In 2019, the scariest thing I have planned for myself is to write a book. It’s a big undertaking and one that’s going to take a ton of time and confidence to put together.
Shine On: What accomplishment makes you most proud?
I am so proud of what I’ve been able to build with Lipstick & Ink in just one year. I have met so many amazing women (and men!) through it and it’s encouraged me to keep going. I have loved every minute of writing and sharing my experiences with women in the hope that I can help and empower them to realize their true potential.
What’s a big, hairy audacious goal (BHAG) that you’ve been contemplating and want to speak into existence?
Best case scenario, I hope Lipstick & Ink can turn into some sort of media and events company down the road that ultimately consists of the website, a series of books, a podcast, and events around the country. Eeeek! Only time will tell!
Thank you for this opportunity, Mary. It’s been truly an honor getting to know you personally and to also be considered for this interview!
Website: Lipstick & Ink