For my entire adult life, my husband and I have chosen hiking locations as our places to travel to. I like cities, too, but I’d much rather be somewhere walking in a forest or on a red rock. Small cities located in gorgeous places are a huge win-win for me. It was fitting that we chose to move to Nashville shortly after we married: the scenery and hiking and trails there beat everything natural in Dallas by a landslide.

Our weekends were spent hiking through Percy Warner and Radnor Lake and day trips to Fall Creek Falls and the Appalachian Trail and anywhere and everywhere within a 6-hour drive, which if you’re in Nashville, is a lot of gorgeous places.

Get me into nature for 30 minutes, and I’ll begin dreaming about my best life: I’ll plan ways to quit my job and eat more salads and travel throughout our gorgeous country and give back to those who need it. All of my best ideas, and all of my favorite planning time is spent while walking through the woods.

Most of the time, I would plan out the companies I wanted to work for, the ones that seemed at least to stand by their employees and provide killer benefits. Ones that were located in gorgeous parts of our country, that provided ample outdoor time and ample creativity, so I thought. We had these talks on these walks for over a decade. I loved it; I am an excellent dreamer.

In 2011, we moved back to Texas, this time to Fort Worth. Last week was our 8-year mark. I was so sad to leave Nashville, and yet only good things came out of our move to Texas. However, we craved the hiking that had become such a huge part of our life, so all of our weekend jaunts had to become bigger jaunts – because North Texas, let’s face it, I love it, and it’s most definitely not the prettiest place on earth. So our weekend trips became longer and took us further away: Big Bend NP, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Colorado Springs, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite NP, Zion NP, to name a few, and, to the trip that changed all of it, Grand Tetons NP and Yellowstone NP.

Our 10-year anniversary in 2015 allowed us to take a 2-week massive road trip in our Little Guy camper throughout my favorite places on this earth: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming. Those 2 weeks got me out of my office and onto this incredible land: into complete and total dream land.

That was the trip that fueled the fire in me. I was half-way through my 1st year-long yoga teacher training. I had dived into Marie Kondo’s book about joy, and it filled me to my core. I knew the stuff in my life that did and did not produce joy. And I knew, big time, the job did not.

That was when I started planning. Savings, reaching out to potential clients, buying a great computer, buying design software and office products, planning where my office would go, planning what we would call the business, playing around with logo designs and building a website and securing email addresses. I would build a business with my husband, who has always been an entrepreneur, who grew up with entrepreneurs, who can smell success, and can also smell bullshit, a mile away.

All those years of hiking and dreaming and talking and wishing were starting to pay off, but this time, we decided to create that company we’d love to work for, not try to work for someone else’s.

Less than one year after that incredible, life-changing trip, I quit my career in corporate America with one big client on our roster and a few little ones to hold us over. It was three weeks before then that we secured CraftAndCommunicate.com, registered our business as an LLC, and signed on our first client.

That was three years ago today. The day that we decided, for real, this is happening. The day that our sketches and our plans and meetings with financial planners and potential clients and our new team would happen, for real. The day that we claimed our space in this little land of American Dreamers. The day that all those hikes and walks in the woods and long, soulful discussions turned into something.

The day that I quit my job was the scariest, hardest, most fulfilling, most nerve-racking, best day of my life: the day that I took my future into my own hands.

A lot of people will tell you: stay in the safe job. Pay your bills. Get insurance. Build a savings account and a 401K. Be careful.

I am not that person.

You get one life (many of us think) and if you’re not reaching for your fullest potential every damn day, what the hell is the point? If you’re staying in the job that is not helping you grow or is not satisfying to your soul, it is 100% your fault for allowing yourself to be there (same goes with relationships, y’all). That’s all there is to it.

If you work damn hard, and I mean DAMN HARD, and if you set goals, and if you put yourself out there every single day, and if you stay focused, you will reach those goals.

Did you hear me?

YOU WILL REACH THEM.

I did: we did; and I know if it’s in your heart, and if you stay focused, you can, too.

Now, let’s get real. If your goal is to perform at Carnegie Hall, and you’ve never played your local theater, and you’re not willing to do the work to play at your local theater, you need to reexamine your goals.

You have to have: 10 year goals, 5 year goals, 1 year goals, and monthly goals. You have to. Every one of your goals has to be measurable. You have to write out all the items that will get you to your 10-year goals. Be specific!

If your 10-year goal is to write the book (one of mine is), then every single day, guess what you have to do? You have to write (hence this blog). You have to set little goals, like: get picked up in a magazine or news journal or prominent news source related to your industry as your 5-year goal (that’s another of mine, and it happened, way before my 5-year plan, so therefore I am working towards it happening over and over again).

You can set new goals each year, too. Last year, a new goal was to plan a yoga retreat for women who are interested in all the stuff I talk about on this blog: getting healthier, self-care, owning your life, working to be your best self, asking the harder questions. So guess what I did? I asked a friend and an incredible yoga teacher and astrologist here in Fort Worth to plan it with me.

And guess what?

She said yes. And I screamed with excitement.

Guess what? It’s happening, this year.

That’s how you set goals. You write them down, and you get to work. Every year, you review your goals, adjust or add more as needed. Every month, you see where you’re at. You look over what you did last month that worked and those did not work, and you change accordingly.

You do this, over and over and over again. And then, you get to live your best life. The life you were meant to live. The life on your own terms. The life that most satisfies your spirit. That life.

Here’s to setting and achieving your goals. And here’s to an incredible, simple, delicious eggplant/veggie lasagna. This will definitely be a new staple on our dinner table, and I hope it is yours, too.

Love, Jen.

Vegan Veggie Lasagna with Cashew "Cheese" + 3 Years of Being an Entrepreneur

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 c. cashews, raw
  • 1 and 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 25 oz. jars marinara sauce
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 and 1/2 c. baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin

Instructions
 

  • Heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a high-powered blender, combine the cashews, water, spices and yeast. Blend on high for a minute or two, and set aside.
  • Pour about a cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish. Layer the lasagna noodles on top, pressing into the sauce.
  • Add another layer of marinara, then the eggplant, carrots, mushrooms. Then spread half of the cashew "cheese" on top, and cover with more marinara.
  • Add another layer of: noodles, sauce, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms, cashew "cheese", marinara, and then end with the top layer of lasagna noodles. Cover them with the final marinara sauce and spread it so all areas are covered.
  • Cover the pan with foil or a lid, and bake at 425 for 45 minutes, until bubbly. Remove from heat, let sit for about 10 minutes, then serve.
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