Your Brain On Love

2015 October 26
by Grace Boyle

Recently, I was recommended the audiobook version of Your Brain On Love by Stan Tatkin. His book Wired for Love is also (I hear) a great supplement of his work.

Your Brain On Love

Produced by Sounds True, the audio book has a strong focus on your brain, and shifting out of conflict into greater intimacy, and understanding with your partner. Which in my opinion, anyone could find useful. We’re always works in progress, period.

Tatkin is a researcher and couples therapist. I love his focus on neuriobiology (down to the literal science) and where he uncovers different attachments styles, based off experiences and who we are, that started at a young age.

One of my favorite parts is how he kicks things off in the beginning with known facts. I love how realistic he is, it’s very grounding. He shares that our brains are built more for war than love (e.g. the negativity is often where we go versus positive and our threat response is often getting in the way of love), there is nothing more difficult than another person, there’s no such thing as as low maintenance person, as partners we are inherently just annoying and will be a burden to the other, in love relationships no one comes pre-trained, you must train each other, partners are responsible for each other’s past (we are a proxy for everyone that came before), we don’t really know what we’re doing, and that the need for parenting, never really goes away.

These are things that often aren’t talked about, but are just at it’s core, so true.

Here are some highlights from Sounds True:

  • The neurobiology of mating—who we choose and why
  • The neurobiology of commitment—building security, the foundation of a healthy relationship
  • Anchor, Island, and Wave types: understanding your attachment style and those of others
  • “Is it you or is it me?” Understanding how the attachment styles of others interact with your own.
  • Experiencing healthy conflict through social contracts, ground rules, and awareness
  • Creating a lifelong plan to continue deepening your relationships

Since I drive on my short commute to work, I love listening to podcasts and this audiobook was no exception. I’ve already begun telling all my friends (single, partnered, married, etc.) because I felt it to be so interesting and helpful in self-awareness. I also think it’s great if you are partnered, that both parties listen to it (that’s what we’re doing).

I also felt some ways in which myself and partner operate (naturally, we’re different in many ways) made so much more sense. In my mind, it’s just one of the many resources I now use in my “tool-belt” for operating successfully, and in unison as a strong partnership.

If you’re at all interested, I couldn’t recommend it more. You can find it here on Amazon or on Audible here.




Making Time for Joy

2015 September 23
by Grace Boyle

I grew up with the phrase (over and over): life is bliss. 

When you think of the things you’re told growing up, this isn’t bad, right?

It was mundane to me though, at first. I don’t think I really knew what it meant until I left home thousands of miles away, for college when I was 18 and you can step away from what you grew up with (potentially your own bubble) and get context.

It was the first real step where I did something for myself, where no one else influenced my decision and I went with my gut on making the move from Iowa to Burlington, Vermont and really, following what felt joyful.

During those four years I acknowledge I had the privilege to make mistakes, make lifelong friendships, travel, live and study abroad, work hard, figure out what made me tick, and chase the joy. From then, I was hooked. I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened, I would keep working and coming back to find that joy and bliss.

dance off

On the flip side, there is work to be done daily to keep reemerging to find joy.

I stumbled across Erykah Badu’s essay on making time for joy in your life, and she shares that joy can easily be pulled from us, with the natural challenges of life:

There’s this natural instinct we have as human beings. Regardless of our position, religion, color or kind, we all have a primal desire for immediate, and almost unwavering, JOY. Eventually, through the experience of events and circumstance, we learn that this desire just may be unreasonable and unnatural. We watch our emotions sway as we are affected and influenced by the energy around us. Our own resistance to “unpleasantness” restricts our movement.

It’s extremely easy to get overshadowed by the doldrums of life. For that reason, I try to really integrate “self care” into my week. I know that I can only be my best self, be heads down, prepared for the challenges that undoubtedly face us – if I’m taking care of myself and subsequently making time for joy. It’s like a daily reminder, and something I think everyone can partake in.

What’s so special about joy is that it’s in the eye of the beholder (I love learning about what brings people joy) and it’s often in the little things that perhaps have no cost associated to them, and are at our fingertips everyday.

For me joy comes in many forms. It’s being out in nature, in the mountains and finding true stillness, kisses and cuddles from my dogs, pushing the limit physically on my yoga mat, on a big hike, or at Crossfit when I’ve surpassed a challenge I didn’t think I could do and running off those endorphins, shared belly-clutching laughter, uninterrupted time to read, a sunset, booking an adventure (whether it’s local for a weekend trip or far away by plane), eye contact, being honest with myself and others, quality time with my honey, catching a fish on the fly on a roaring river in the mountains with him, hard work paid off, happy hour in the late afternoon sun on a patio, feeling whatever it is I’m feeling (just being true), an delicious meal, a farm dinner, a fully stocked fridge and empty dishwasher, opening a bottle of wine you’ve been saving to celebrate (celebrate more!), eight or more hours of sleep, not having to rush wherever it is I’m going, giving back, and finding peace with whatever it is, that I’m doing.

Sunday is my day of rest. It’s typically when I start looking ahead at the week, formulating what I need to do to stay on track, but also where I’ve allocated time for joy (perhaps coming off the weekend where I made that happen). I encourage you to pick a day where you can reflect on the little things you’ve done for yourself, your loved ones, your family, for joy.

Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert

2015 September 17
by Grace Boyle

“What’s worth doing, even if I fail?”

This is the question Elizabeth Gilbert asks Brene Brown, on her latest Magic Lessons podcast.

These two women in a podcast together create enough inspiration for me, but the focus in this podcast is around uncovering “big strong magic” and discussing how essential creativity is for healthy living.

Although the entire 35 minutes are incredibly worth hearing, one of my favorite moment Brown shares in the podcast is this statement:

“I don’t leap for the landing, I leap for the experience in the air. Because you can’t predict the landing.”

I’m not sure what it is, but seasonal changes always invoke a feeling like I too, shed my skin. As the first day of Fall begins next week (September 23rd to be exact) I was reminded of the importance for us to do what really makes us feel alive, and to not hold onto the outcome or result so much.

I encourage you to listen to the podcast. I hope it inspires you today. Here’s to big magic and creativity.



Seven Year Blog Anniversary and My Move to Boulder

2015 August 20
by Grace Boyle

It seems as if I’ve blinked, and seven years later here we are. Space and time is relative, yet so concrete when you step back from the trek up the mountain, and look at how far you’ve come; how high you’ve climbed.

Ironically, my move to Boulder coincided with my launch of this blog in August 2008.

You can find my first blog post when I moved to Boulder here. It was short and simple. I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no job, no friends here, and nowhere to live. But deep in my gut, I knew I had landed where I needed to be. Where I wanted to be.

I touted picking your place, and letting the rest fall into place over the years, and although it’s an idealist viewpoint it has held true for me.

Starting this blog – although it has been rather dormant the last few years – is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It launched my career, it’s how I found my first job, many friends and wonderful, meaningful relationships in my life, encouraged me to start Grace(full) Plate and my food writing, and ultimately, how I committed to keep writing year-after-year. For that, I’ll always be thankful.

I think I had a Blackberry phone when I moved to Boulder, so the photo resolution isn’t strong, but I found this photo below which my mom took (my trusty side-kick) as I was actually driving West, with my car packed with everyone I owned, to make the move to Boulder.

Grace moves to Boulder 2008

I’m big into symbolism, and in general, feel very grateful for my time here. I’ve grown to love Colorado, and still feel like there are so many places and escapes to explore in this wonderful, colorful state. I think in some capacity, writing and blogging will always be a part of me. Even if I’m not here all the time, I purposefully keep the hosting and website up because it’s engrained into who I am. It has made me who I am. So for now, here it stays.

I appreciate everyone who has been along for the journey, along the entire way and can’t wait for what it will be like even in one year from now.

Thanks Colorado for all you’ve given me. I love your land and earth so deeply. Thanks for enveloping me.

The Efficient Traveler

2015 May 14
by Grace Boyle

I love to travel. I travel for work, and I’ve always lived far from home, so a plane ride away to friends and family is common. I’m big on experiential gifts, so I would way rather have an experience or trip booked than receiving a physical item. I love to see the world, and the adventure that awaits is so exciting.


Last year, with the help of my Southwest credit card and my (too) frequent work travel, I landed A-list premiere status. I was delighted at my early boarding, and premiere lines I would pop into at airports. Status, finally. Then I shortly realized, this wasn’t enough.

I needed TSA Pre and Global Entry. The travelers apex.

And I’m happy to say, now I have all three. Traveling is much more of a breeze, and besides things being more efficient you can find improved quality of life. I don’t have to get to the airports as early and I don’t deal with the other traveler shenanigans that totally get on your nerves.

That said, I’ve been preaching the good word about TSA Pre. I have friends that travel a good amount, and still don’t have it or don’t realize that it’s not that difficult to obtain.

Here’s what you need to know.

TSA Pre:

  • What is it? TSA Pre allows “low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel.” You do have to be a U.S. citizen and not been convicted of certain crimes to apply. Here are more details on their eligibility requirements.
  • How much does it cost? Here’s the kicker. It’s only $85 and it’s valid for five years! This in itself, is worth everything. What a price. If you travel even just four to five times a year, I think it’s worth it.
  • What are the required documents for TSA Pre? Right here, you can find a list of the required documentation. It’s not that bad. Not that much red tape. Things like ID, and proof of citizenship.
  • What’s the application center interview like? Mine was five minutes, I was approved, and given a known traveler number in the mail 2-3 weeks after my visit. It was official, but efficient (the meeting) and they actually didn’t even look at all the paperwork I brought.

Now, I hop right into the TSA Pre line at every airport. I never take off my shoes, I don’t have to remove my laptop or liquids, and I’m typically through security in five minutes tops. When I travel with others who don’t have it, it might shave up to 20-35 minutes off your wait time. Breezy.

Global Entry:

  • What is it? Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited cleared for pre-approved, low risk travelers, upon arrival in the United States. There are essentially automated kisoks at select airports, and you head to baggage claim and exit. Read: If you travel internationally, why not.
  • How much does it cost? The cost is $100, and I actually went with Global Entry because in addition to getting this I also got TSA pre bundled in. Not too much more, but two benefits for that length of time.
  • What are the required documents for Global Entry? Here is how you apply. The process was the same as TSA pre essentially.

So hit the trails. Happy traveling, and let me know if you have any questions. I definitely haven’t looked back.

What you learn from 30 days of no booze, sugar, gluten, or dairy

2015 February 10
by Grace Boyle

On January 12th, I embarked on a 30 day food challenge.

It was pretty strict. At a high level, I couldn’t have:

  • Gluten/Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Booze
  • Sugar

That eliminates a lot of things we enjoy in our daily consumption of food. But ensures for a lot of clean eating, and it also promoted points for sleeping eight hours, five days a week of working out (I didn’t always get five, but always worked out like I do anyway) and 10 minutes a day of meditation or some sort of quiet time without technology.

Today is the last day of the challenge, and I’m happy to say I stuck to it. I’m most happy about the no booze and no sugar.

The biggest win for me, was about reforming new habits. There are a lot of two week cleanses or 10 day challenges, and for me, I knew I needed to do the 30 days. I feel like anyone could do anything for 30 days and I needed to commit to it all or nothing. No point to skimp here or there, might as well do it all the way. Which besides a few little hiccups, or probably not being able to control what my food was cooked in when I ate out, I was strict as could be.

What I learned:

  • Clean food can be good. I scoured Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, etc. to find delicious recipes that were clean eating/paleo inspired and when I cooked for people, they all enjoyed it. It wasn’t like I was limiting myself from all good food, because whole and healthy food is good too. This is a misconception that you have to eat bland food to eat clean.
  • I cooked a lot more. And I love cooking, which was great to get back to. Especially in the winter, I’ve gotten into habits being so tired after work or working out, so we would resort to take-out or throw away meals, because it was easy (frozen pizza anyone)? Not only does it save money, but it’s good to cook together and find that balance of being creative in the kitchen.
  • I slept better. I don’t sleep well even with a few drinks, so I slept really well the last 30 days.
  • I felt very clear. I think it’s largely to do with gluten, but I generally didn’t feel foggy. Your food and diet has such a big impact on this.
  • Self-control is an amazing thing. I felt powerful and love knowing that I don’t “need” anything and that I’m not addicted to anything. It’s a good feeling, that I could say no and put my foot down, and that’s that.
  • Muscle weighs more than fat – go by how you feel. The point is to feel good. I don’t own a scale, and with all the heavy lifting I do at Crossfit, my weight doesn’t really reflect what I look like (or feel like). I did weigh myself near the end of the challenge at a doctor appointment, and I was let down to realize I weighed the same as I remembered, perhaps even more. After talking myself off a ledge, I reminded myself that I feel good and fit into clothes far better than before. I also measured inches before and after, and lost a total of 7.5″ (waist, bust, thighs) which is where it really matters for me. In my waist alone, I am down 3.5″.
  • This particular challenge eliminated not only sugar but healthy ones like honey for instance, so the amount of strict in this challenge, isn’t quite sustainable. I still want to have flexibility to go out and enjoy with friends, but I think I’ve swung the pendulum back. I think a large majority, I will eat clean, and a smaller percentage eat when I feel good and right without being stressed. Now that I saw that I can do it, that you feel better, you’re more apt to try it more often than not.
  • If you set your mind to it, you can do it. The biggest fear I had, was that I would fail and that I wasn’t strong enough. That I’m just that fat kid who wants to eat a bag of cookies and can’t restrain myself (parts of this may always be true, I love food). I held off on similar challenges at my own Crossfit gym, because of the pressure and I felt too overwhelmed. Finally with other co-workers doing this with me and feeling stuffed from the holidays, I decided to take the leap. It’s a huge resurgence for me to remember that my physical and mental strength is strong. I did have a few freak outs during the day 30 days, I can admit that, and there were times where I had to forgo social outings, I missed certain foods a lot, or watched everyone indulge in cheese and wine while I chugged soda water, but it was worth it. And I made it. Unscathed even!

Although today is the last day, I’m not rushing off to get a bottle of wine and I will keep cooking more and probably eating like I have for the last 30 days (with some windows for fun). For now, I’m going to give myself a hug and relax a little though. ‘Cause, I did it!

Women We Stand

2014 December 5
by Grace Boyle

A lot of my time is spent online. I’ve spent many years, cataloging my favorite stories I’ve run into. As a writer myself, I’m enamored by the words of intelligent minds.

Recently, I uncovered some of my favorite articles on gender, women, and inspiration (my own thematic tagging) and I felt compelled to share them here.

“I can say this: I didn’t need a broken man to repair me. I needed a whole man who believed in repair.” –New York Times. Modern Love; Healing Sought (Bring Your Own Magic).

“There are two things that set me apart from the vast majority of my friends. Or I used to think so, and it made me feel badly.

Now I know we’re all special. We all have our own scars, our own hopes, and our own plans, as particular to us as our fingerprints, whatever others might assume to be true. What I thought was happening around me was only the shallow water in the pool.

There are a million quiet stories being written every day.” -Meg Fowler. I Guess That Makes Me Special.

“We’re still a long way from a gender-egalitarian marital utopia, but traditional marriage is blessedly deceased. With its demise has come a new marriage model that is by nearly every measure better for men, women and children, and is hopefully continuing to improve.” -The Guardian. Traditional marriage is dead. Let’s celebrate.

 I want the strongest, happiest, smartest women in my corner, pushing me to negotiate for more money, telling me to drop men who make me feel bad about myself, and responding to my outfit selfies from a place of love and stylishness, not competition and body-snarking. True confidence is infectious. –The Cut. Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends


“There is no retreating from the hookup culture to an earlier age, when a young man showed up at the front door with a box of chocolates for his sweetheart, and her father eyed him warily. Even the women most frustrated by the hookup culture don’t really want that. The hookup culture is too bound up with everything that’s fabulous about being a young woman in 2012—the freedom, the confidence, the knowledge that you can always depend on yourself. The only option is what Hannah’s friends always tell her—stop doing what feels awful, and figure out what doesn’t.

Young men and women have discovered a sexual freedom unbridled by the conventions of marriage, or any conventions. But that’s not how the story ends. They will need time, as one young woman at Yale told me, to figure out what they want and how to ask for it. Ultimately, the desire for a deeper human connection always wins out, for both men and women. Even for those business-school women, their hookup years are likely to end up as a series of photographs, buried somewhere on their Facebook page, that they do or don’t share with their husband—a memory that they recall fondly or sourly, but that hardly defines them.” -The Atlantic. Boys On the Side.


“Other than that? You have to be optimistic, be patient, write down everything you’re grateful for every night, and remember that you will look back on this time as one of the most important times of your life. You’ll look back and feel really proud of how you conducted yourself, how strong you stayed in the face of your loneliness, and how much you appreciated what you had. It’s true that you could be in this place for 2 years or 12 years, and even so, you will look back and feel good about it if you play your cards right. It’s amazing to have your own business and your own place and your own cat. You are living the good life, for sure, and while it’s great that you’re open to finding love (which takes its own kind of effort) nothing that happens on that front should undermine how satisfying and hard-won your happiness is right now. You have to believe in your life and romanticize it as much as you can. Remind yourself to feel proud of what you’ve built, and what you’ve overcome, every single day. And feel proud of your flaws and your loneliness and your big heart, too. It’s ok to feel vulnerable about wanting love and not finding it. That vulnerability will lead you to good places, even when it feels like it’ll topple your apple cart. You don’t have to be perfect. Let yourself be a little weird, a little uncertain, a little brash. Let yourself get a little messier. Let your seams show. Be proud of your broken pieces. They’re the best part of you.

Don’t speed through these days to get to the good part. This IS the good part. Savor it.” -The AWL. Ask Polly: I’m 33 and Single. What Am I Doing Wrong?

“Sometimes it feels good to reject cultural notions of femininity and take up residence on a strange earth and live among the Others—to be told that for a while, you were that sort of girl, the one all the men wanted, admired, and desired, and could never quite grab hold of. A mirror that telegraphed back their values, but beautiful.

But that girl also grows up and learns it’s better to be real than cool. And without suggesting that the end result for everyone is to pair off and settle down, most people do mellow with age. And they do settle, just more easily into their own complexities, more easily into something less prone to typecasting.

Which is probably why I don’t know a single woman in her thirties, forties or beyond who is at all like the Cool Girls I knew in my twenties or still see from a distance. At this age, they are serious and fun. Masculine and feminine. Simple and complicated. Transparent and elusive. You know, just people.” –Jezebel. The ‘Cool Girl’ Is Not Fiction, But a Phase.

“You should enjoy this part of your life, not as a preparatory stage, but as something that is just fun in and of itself.” In other words, your “real life” doesn’t begin when you meet a partner. It’s happening right now.

Besides, repeated studies have found that the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to marry, and the older she marries, the less likely she’ll be to divorce—so statistically speaking, if you want to get married, you most likely will. And before you know it, car pools and nut allergies will become your dinner conversation staples. Then you’ll look back on your single years as one of the most adventurous times of your life, when you had no excuse to do anything but be yourself to the fullest. -Marie Claire. Flying Solo.


Podcast Love: Call Your Girlfriend

2014 September 24
by Grace Boyle

My roommate and dear friend Anne told me about Call Your Girlfriend – a “podcast for long distance besties everywhere” and I cannot get enough of it.

Call Your Girlfriend

In their own words:

Call Your Girlfriend is a podcast for all the long-distance besties out there, brought to you by Gina DelvacAnn Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Every other week, tune in as we discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the beauty of caftans, menstruation news, Kimye, Pitbull, Hillary Rodham Clinton, casual racism, emoji, straight people, California, rom-coms, Lorde lipstick, and so much more.

First of all, I’m borderline obsessed with Robyn. And their theme track is the best.

Second, I have so many long distance besties. We have a lot of FaceTime, phone calls, group texts, and IRL trips to sustain my lady friendships and thus, I love the concept they’re driving toward.

Third, Ann (who is also from Iowa, what, what) and Amina are brilliant, hilarious, and their cadence and dialogue is very relatable. Awkwardly, I feel like I could see us sitting together over a big (generous pour) of wine, and conversing about all the topics and agenda items they cover. Whether it’s depth-filled topics that are newsworthy, hilarious rants, or just straight “menstruation news” as they call it – I’m always learning something and I usually find I’m laughing out loud.

They keep it real, and that’s really more of what I want in my life. So go ahead, subscribe on iTunes and scope them out.

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