Hi, I’m Melanie.
Friends and family say I’m a connector of people and ideas. I constantly look for ways to connect authentically with what I do and who I’m with. I try to be authentic by paying undivided attention to those around me, seizing the day, making the most of what I do, appreciating worldly gifts, cooking healthy foods, and integrating work and family life.
Turns out being authentic isn’t as easy as you’d think.
Since starting this blog in 2010, life has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Born and raised on Long Island, NY, I came to Washington, DC in 2002 to make education better for America’s children. I ran hard working in the federal government, and in the nonprofit and private sector world working on education reform.
Life shifted when I met my hubby and moved out to the burbs. That’s Vienna, VA, in the shadow of the nation’s capital. Here, I struggled with how to reconcile city living with the mini-van world, while waiting to take the plunge and have a few kiddos. We had felt kind of left out of the community, which is family-centered.
Still, I made plans to embed myself into the family lifestyle. I launched my own business offering strategic organizational management and communications to education-focused groups. This let me establish a flexible schedule yet still contribute to education improvement efforts.
Then, once I was a new mom, I had the street cred to grow the family-oriented community in Vienna. Thing was, I still struggled with this life south of the Mason-Dixon line. So initially, the blog was about that—how does seemingly Southern family living compare with the New York state of mind? And what really is this community in Vienna?
But then things shifted. In late 2010, I joined a gym to get in shape after the birth of my daughter (sometimes known as “Bug” in older posts), and unintentionally (but thankfully) set in motion a lifestyle switch. “Healthy living or bust” became my motto. In 2012, I even won a blog contest with my piece on how I changed my life for the better, as a healthy mom. I was all about feeling good. 2013 brought the arrival of my son, and I’m continuing on the ever-more harried roller coaster, now with my family quartet.
My business has also shifted to focus on building healthy learning experiences to support strong kids. Now my work to help transform organizations focuses largely on early childhood education, outdoor and environmental education and play, and supporting biologically healthy lifestyles—including healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise.
Raising a family and healthy living go hand-in-hand, thus So Very Vienna shifted to be less about living in Vienna and more about raising a healthy family in general—no matter your location.
But how does a busy, self-employed, healthy mom care for her family in today’s way-too-busy world? How does she balance finding time to make fresh food with seeing her family, working, and sleeping? And how does community help, or hinder, the plight of today’s moms who want the best, yet often feel we are doing the worst?
I don’t know the answers yet, but I’m trying to find out. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.