Note: this initial post was written March 25, 2020. An update with more recent statistics can be found prior to the conclusion of this blog post.

I knew there would be obstacles in my career a physical therapist – people will fall, mistakes will be made, people will die – but nothing could have prepared me for COVID-19, the viral pandemic that has done so much damage with no end in sight.

As of 3/25/2020, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins, more than 420,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and at least 18,915 have died.  What initially started in mainland China has spread globally, continent to continent, to every US state. The Ohio Department of Health reports 564 confirmed cases in Ohio across 49 counties with 8 confirmed deaths.

As a healthcare worker, this is hard, in so many ways. I came to the realization that there would be a point that I may have to make the decision to step away from my patients and residents for fear of exposing them to this virus. I had a particularly hard day, where the reality of the danger of my job in combination with Kyle’s started to set in. A sense of identity crisis fell over me because as healthcare workers, all we want to do is help. And to come to terms with the fact that continuing to do my job with the intent to help others could result in spreading of this virus, or worse, is heart breaking. And on top of that, the ethical dilemma this presents as a supervising therapist is hard. I have assistants that work under me that could effectively lose their jobs and be forced into an unpaid leave of absence if I can no longer work and/or supervise – assuming another PT can’t fulfill my position for the time being. That has weighed very heavily on me.

What is so upsetting is that no one seems to be talking about the implications of traveling building to building as I have done daily for the majority of my career. I made the personal decision (and what I consider to be the socially responsible decision) mid March to stop traveling to more than 1 building a day, which honestly isn’t even enough. It’s infuriating to me that other therapists aren’t speaking out on the dangers of traveling building to building. While I understand everyone’s caseloads are low and they are desperate to find work, this has to stop.

According to article published by the LA Times on March 18, 2020, “Limitations in effective infection control and prevention and staff members working in multiple facilities contributed to intra- and interfacility spread” per a CDC report. The CDC confirmed 129 COVID-19 cases among people linked to Life Care Center of Kirkland – 81 residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors. The CDC investigation into the Kirkland facility found that infected healthcare workers had a broad range of occupations: doctor, nurse, nursing assistance, physical therapist, occupational therapist assistance, environmental care work, health information officer and case manager.

April 2020 Update
Today is now April 18, 2020, and according to, there are 2,330,986 COVID-19 cases globally with 160,757 deaths and 596,687 of cases have recovered. The US has had 30,104 deaths, 401 of those from Ohio.

I was deemed ‘high-risk’ by one of my job sites after Kyle had his first positive COVID-19 case transport and was I mandated to take a 14 day unpaid leave from that facility. Thankfully I was able to work in two other buildings (one building per day, I have continued to refuse to between buildings day to day) for that time, though hours have been low, 10-20 hours a week. After 14 days of symptom and temperature monitoring, I was able to return to the building that previously had not permitted me to work. That week I returned to sad news, 5 resident deaths, none COVID-19 related (or so I was told). That same day, our 14 year old therapy cat was laid to rest, which was the saddest ending to an already sad day. Things have been calm otherwise since then. Still no positive cases at either of my buildings, but that could change any day.

Until tomorrow, Meryn



Whole30 Introduction
As described by their website, a round of Whole30 is “a short-term reset, created to help you curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive track, and calm your immune system.” The idea is to eliminate the commonly problematic trigger foods while monitoring your “improvement in energy, sleep, digestion, mood, cravings, focus, anxiety, self-confidence, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions.” At the end of 30 days, you systematically reintroduce the eliminated foods, paying attention to any changes in your health, habits, and mindset.

I completed my first Whole30 in January of 2015. I was a senior in college starting my last semester of undergrad and was a member of the University of Toledo CHAARG chapter. I was living in an apartment off campus with 3 roommates in a 2-bedroom apartment [shout out to Travis and his v instagramable black and white plates seen below]. At the start of 2015, CHAARG had announced they would be hosting a virtual Whole30 round, #CHAARGwhole30, inviting members to join. At the time I’m not sure why I was drawn to participate. Looking back, I think I was motivated by the challenge, and plus, I wanted the bragging rights because let’s face it, giving up added sugar, dairy, grains, and alcohol for 30 days IS NOT EASY, also pretty sure my roommates didn’t think I could do it, which motivated me more.

Up until that point, I wasn’t much interested in cooking or meal planning. If my memory serves me, I ate a lot of pasta, frozen meals, sandwiches, pizza, ya know, typical college kid foods. I can confidently say Whole30 taught me to cook. For the first time in my life I was not only following recipes, but then learning to toss them aside and throw shit together in a skillet that didn’t always look good but always tasted good. I bought new, trendy kitchen tools and gadgets, like a spiralizer and mandoline slicer. I experimented with spices beyond salt and pepper, like the Private Selection Pizza Seasoning Grinder (still bomb). I ate a lot of scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes, spinach, turkey burgers, and almond butters, as evidenced by the Instagram photos I was sharing at the time (then my handle was @meryn_inchaarg, since changed to @merynfoodie). I don’t remember being in it for the weight loss, though that did come. I lost a total of 16.2 pounds and 5 inches which catapulted me to my best shape and lowest weight which would have been around 153 (with my heaviest being 193 the summer of 2012).

Since my first Whole30 in January of 2015, I have completed 5 additional rounds with the last being in January of 2018. There have been other attempts since then but each time I’ve quit for one reason or another, most likely temptation from a snazzy looking donut, a refreshing beer, or a free sweet treat at work. But when Melissa Urban announced they were launching a worldwide group Whole30 – #Whole30AtHome starting Monday, April 13 (read more here), I knew it was time. Things are slow at work – I’m only working 10-15 hours a week, 20 hours in a really good week, so I definitely have the time to commit to a Whole30 and the planning and preparation that goes into a successful round. Plus, I have hundreds of pins on Pinterest and a stack of recipe and cookbooks (Whole30 brand and otherwise, listed below) to dive into further.

The Defined Dish: Whole30 Endorsed, Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes by Alex Snodgrass

The Whole Smiths: Good Food Cookbook by Michelle Smith

Better Homes and Gardens Fresh: Recipes for Enjoying Ingredients at Their Peak (not Whole30 specific but modifiable)

The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig

The Whole30 Fast & Easy by Melissa Hartwig

The Whole30 Slow Cooker by Melissa Hartwig

I plan to be sharing photos on my @merynfoodie Instagram and a weekly reflection/round up at the end of each week, wish me luck!

Until tomorrow, Meryn


According to their website, #The100DayProject is “a free art project that takes place online. Every spring, thousands of people all around the world commit to 100 days of exploring their creativity. The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.”  What started as a workshop for graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art, instructed by Michael Bierut (read more about his reflection on the course and it’s impact here), has become a springboard for creation and imagination in the creative community. The first time I had heard of the project was from Paige Poppe in 2017 when she announced her project #100DaysofVideosWithPaigePoppe (intro video linked here). Since then, I have thought about the project each spring but have never felt inspired or called to participate.

This year, participating in #The100DayProject wasn’t even on my radar until I watched Elise Joy’s Instagram stories where she was answering questions about the project – documentation, inspiration, and motivation. My first thought was 100 days of lettering because that’s an art form I enjoy and could improve in, but that felt daunting –not only would have to actually letter the daily prompts, but it would also require me to spend time each day selecting a word or phrase, which felt like a second project in of itself. An hour later, inspiration struck while in the shower: #100daysofcreativeclusters. Heavily inspired by Ali of According to Ali (youtube, instagram) with her “clusters not clutter” in her Happy Planner spreads, which I love.

I have an endless supply of journals, notebooks, stickers, washi tape, markers, and pens, so why not combine them all into one? Lord knows I have thousands of Happy Planner stickers and I would love to burn through some. Plus, I think it’ll be fun to flip through the pages of the book for color, texture, and composition inspiration. Today is day 4 and I’m happy with what I’ve created so far! Though I will say that these pages feel more like collages rather than clusters, but it’s fine, totally fine. I like the openness and fluidity of this project and that I can do a 180* flip if things start to feel stale!

Until tomorrow, Meryn


Reading // Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, Governor Mike DeWine’s tweets for Ohio COVID-19 coverage

Planning // the first posts of my new blog, Goodwill donation (never happened), to vote in the primaries absentee ✔, to complete the 2020 census online ✔

Watching // Tiger King on Netflix, classic Disney movies (Beauty and the Beast, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella), Patrick McDonald’s “Coronda Chronicles” on Instagram (article by Travel + Leisure here), COVID-19 news coverage, DeWine’s daily 2PM press conferences, Tik Toks (fell down that rabbit hole real quick during self-quarantine)

Cooking // Half Baked Harvest 5 ingredient beer bread, The Defined Dish tomato basil soup from her cookbook, The Food Lab lasagna (similar recipe here)

Eating // all of our meals at home, meatloaf, chicken stir fry, corn beef and cabbage, salmon, soup on Sundays

Drinking // iced coffee from Biggby, Key Lime La Croix, Black Cherry Waterloo, my own creation of vanilla almond milk foam with cinnamon poured over hot or ice coffee with a drizzle of honey

Pinning // content about starting a blog, Whole30 foods and recipes, color palettes

Crafting // coloring Paige Poppe printable coloring pages, blog posts, weekly happy planner layouts, at home workouts

Going // only to work, Kroger, Biggby and Arby’s drive thru, on lots of walks around the neighborhood, also Oak Openings and at the local reservoir

Loving // time spent with Kyle, art journaling and writing, stretching after my at home workouts, the consistency and accountability of my daily habit trackers, bubbles and bath bombs, finding hand written notes from Kyle around the apartment, inspirational quotes and art throughout Instagram

Dreaming // for the end of COVID-19 and quarantine, of traveling locally and regionally, of going to my favorite local coffee shops (Maddie and Bella Coffee Roasters, Black Kite Coffee) and restaurants (Fleetwood’s Tap Room, The Heights, El Vaquero) post-COVID

Feeling // scared, anxious, uneasy, fear but also hope, pride, strength, solidarity

Listening // Music: Pumped Pop playlist on Spotify, Alec Benjamin, The Fray, Adele’s album 25. Podcasts: The Financial Confessions, Live Free Creative, NPR’s Hidden Brain, The Goal Digger Podcast, The Latte Factor Podcast, Craft a Life You Love, Crafty Ass Female

Celebrating // starting new daily habits (flossing, dishes at the end of the day), purchased my first individual stocks and index funds, starting my blog!

Supporting // Paige Poppe, Worthwhile Paper, Kammock

Until tomorrow, Meryn

Image Sources:
Mike DeWine press conference
Patrick McDonald and Coronda the Mannequin
Painted letter D by Steffi Lynn
Happy Planner quote


While preparing to launch this blog, I spent some time exploring the blogs and websites of some of my favorite artists, small business owners, bloggers, influencers, recipe developers, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle youtubers. Inadvertently, this list was formed. I hope this post serves as a jumping off point for inspiration – from weeknight dinners to watercolor botanicals to beauty and skin care recommendations, the best of the best are below.

Note: the following top 20 are listed in alphabetical order by first name, this list is not meant to represent a ranking system

Alex Snodgrass of The Defined Dish



Allison Anderson of photoallison




Andrew Glenn



Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet


TFD website

TFD instagram

TFD youtube

Elise Blaha Cripe of The Get to Work Book



GTWB website

GTWB instagram

Jessica Braun



Joanna (and Johnny) of Letterfolk



Kelly Gooch



Kristen Drozdowski of Worthwhile Paper



WP website

WP instagram

Leigh Ellexson




Lindsey Schwenn of the blushing script



Madison Lavey of Madaleigh



Melissa Urban of the Whole30


W30 instagram

Miranda Anderson of Live Free Creative




LFC instagram

Morgan Harper Nichols



Sarah Herron



Steffi Lynn of haveanicedayy_



HAND website

Until tomorrow, Meryn


According to her website, in 2006, Ali Edwards began a tradition of choosing one word for herself each January – “a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon” as she went about her daily life. Since then, she has turned this concept into a creative project that centers around a year-long workshop “designed to inspire that offers creative prompts and encouragement as you let the word into your life.”  

I believe the first time I heard of the concept of One Little Word (OLW) was in 2014 during my college CHAARG days. It wasn’t until 2019 when I started listening to the Crafty Ass Female podcast that I was inspired to participate in OLW. I had just started listening to podcasts during my daily work commute when I came across this episode (originally posted in 2017) where the hosts discussed their OLW history and thoughts on picking a new word for 2018.

In late 2019, when I decided I wanted to pick a OLW to focus on for the coming new year [and decade – holy cow], the word document immediately jumped out at me. At the time I had already decided I wanted my brother to purchase me a One Line A Day: 5 Year Memory book (inspired by Elise Joy, linked here) for Christmas, so the thought of daily documentation and journaling was at the forefront of my mind, or at least my Christmas wish list. I had been journaling daily since November 2018 and was really enjoying this practice. In November 2018, I was 1 month into my first job as a new grad physical therapist and I started using my Happy Planner to journal about the ins and outs of my job – the patient successes and failures, the good days and the really really hard days, a habit I have continued but has changed along the way.

Irony and Intention
Quite frankly, this is an ironic OLW given my career as a physical therapist where there is so much emphasis on daily documentation, both the accuracy/attention to detail and the time commitment. If my memory serves me, I think both members of my #girlgang (also in healthcare) chuckled when I announced the selection of my OLW. Irony aside, I also recognize how monumental this next decade of life will be. Between the years of 2020-2029, it is likely the following life events will occur: adopting a pet, changing jobs, getting engaged, purchasing a home, getting married, going on a honeymoon, starting a family – to name a few. What better time to document and have record of my life?

Initial Goals
When I sat down at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 to set some intentions and goals surrounding my OLW, the following 5 categories and plans emerged:

Meryn Made blog

Happy Planner daily fitness planner
Happy Planner daily journal

Card/invitation ring book
Beer stickers pocket pages
Travel stickers pocket pages

One Line a Day (OLAD) journal

Letterfolk passport update
2018 South Dakota/Wyoming road trip Mixbook
2019 Denver, Colorado trip vacation Mixbook
2020 Breckenridge ski vacation Mixbook

OLW goals page in my 2020 Happy Planner, created with Amy Tangerine collaboration insert paper

There you have it, a look into the history of OLW, my selection, and expectations for the word document in 2020.

Until tomorrow, Meryn

photo source: AMXO


Name: Meryn (it’s like ‘Karen’ but with an ‘M’)

Location: Toledo, Ohio

Education: Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science [2015] and Doctor of Physical Therapy [2018] from The University of Toledo

Career: physical therapist in skilled nursing facilities, geriatric population and adult behavioral/mental health

Hobbies: lettering, art journaling, decorative planning, cooking, exercising, hiking, exploring national parks, breweries, and coffee shops, reading, listening to podcasts, watching beauty and planner youtube, collecting local art, going to craft fairs and markets, traveling, strolling the aisles of Target, personal finance (e.g. Freynancial Freedom)

Favorites: coffee, donuts, pistachio ice cream, craft beer, flowers, the fall season, candles, wombats (like Wilbur), Disney movies (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aristocats, The Princess and the Frog), Target , Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians

Until tomorrow, Meryn

title reference: “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap