When it Rains

It was the middle of the night and I was wide awake listening to the rain pelt our tent.

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The skies had looked suspicious all day and just when we thought it would storm the sun would pop out and reveal with it touches of blue sky. Fortunately, the weather held long enough for us to enjoy a full day of outdoor fun and plenty of time to prepare and dine on a delicious, camping, dinner feast. Shortly after, the skies could no longer contain themselves and we heard the distant rumble of thunder.

Because of the constant threat of rain and little faith in the durability of the tent rain flys, my husband and brother collectively engineered a tarp system to hang overtop of our tents as an extra preventative. I remember my brother commenting that evening about going above and beyond for nothing. Well, at least twenty times that night, between and during deluge after deluge, I thanked everything holy for their overachievement. 

Unlike the soothing sound of rain on a tin roof, rain on a tarp is loud and perhaps even a little unsettling. Or maybe it was the sound coupled with the fact that having a river flow through the middle of your tent was a real possibility and that made the sound unsettling. Either way, the combination of these ingredients was enough to have me wide awake for most of the night. 

Lying there in stillness and fighting the urge to roll back onto my side so that my numb shoulder could have a break, I started to think about how lucky I am. My deluxe camping pad was proof that I'm getting older and was much less deluxe than I had hoped. My numb shoulders and aching back are more proof. But still, I felt lucky. 

I can't tell you how many times in my life things haven't gone my way, more than I'd like to recall and I'm sure you can relate. But worse than not getting my/our way is how I/we respond to these curveballs. It's kind of like rolling with the punches. We can pout and fuss and cuss and stew and make shit worse OR we can find the light, pull ourselves together, regroup and find a path through the unplanned for mess. It's all about our mindset, which I believe to be like any other practice. We can control our minds through practices like yoga, running, meditation, or some other technique and those exercises can act like training for those real life curveballs I mentioned before.

Back in the tent, in the midst of the storm, I almost chuckled at this perfect real life example of what I practice for. I had a few options, I could lose my damn mind and throw a tantrum about my circumstance OR I could take a deep breath, thank the universe my situation wasn't worse and enjoy where I was despite the conditions.

Believe me, I know I'm painting a pretty picture but I know it's not always this easy. Life is full of unplanned, challenging, soul shaking experiences but I bet that if you flex your mindset and hone the skill of controlling your mind on the easier ones it will begin to come more easily with the challenging ones too. 

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Turns out that there are worse camping experiences than sleeping through a summer thunderstorm and we realized several of them the next day. And I'm not even talking about the snake I let into the bath house but that's a story for another day. Instead of waking up to clear skies and sunshine the weather was still subpar for being outside. We were committed to making the most of our time. We waterskied in the rain which was thrilling but cold. We dragged out our fun as long as we could but then the rain really settled in and we had to pack up. IN THE RAIN. Talk about a challenge. I'm certain nothing, not one thing, remained dry. Our tents, bedding, clothing, dog beds, dogs, you name it, everything that had been so safely dry under our tarp contraption was soaking wet by the end of it. And it all got put into our cars wet which meant the fun was sure to continue once we arrived back home. Outwardly I smiled, laughed even and powered through knowing that even this wouldn't last forever but inside I can assure youI had cursed just about everything by the end.

We always have a choice. I'm here with a reminder that you are strong enough to weather whatever storm you are journeying through. Tell yourself you are strong enough, that this won't last forever, take a deep breath and keep moving. Even in the darkest night, do yourself a favor and bring your awareness to something good, something light, something that makes you smile. Flex the muscle of your mindset now and it will keep you strong when you need it most. I'm here if you ever need to share or maybe you just need a reminder to keep going. 

When it rains it pours and maybe that's not a bad thing.

xoxo,

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Feelings

This spring has been a wild ride full of highs and lows, adventures, lessons learned and lots of soul searching. I've been on a mission to tap in to me and to find out what I need right now. Do you ever have seasons of your journey that are like that, completely dedicated to self care and exploration?

At the beginning of the year, I started working with a book that's purpose is to help the reader nurture their inner artist, to tune in to their creative nature and inspire them to create more. I learned a lot about myself and opened countless doors to continue exploring what it is that makes me tick. Throughout this process, I removed toxic shit, people, habits, etc., from my life. I opened my eyes to routines and rituals that were no longer serving me. I picked up healthy habits and activities that I had abandoned. I checked out, a lot. I allowed myself to feel my feelings. Woah.

I also experienced a funny side effect: most of the time I didn't feel very creative at all. What?! That's right, not an ounce of creative juice. This side effect came with it's own set of challenges. Here I am doing the work and dedicating all this time and energy to nurture one of my favorite parts of who I am and in turn I'm getting nothing in return. I wasn't getting the result that I wanted. I wasn't getting the result I convinced myself was on the other side of the process. What a massive crock of shit. I was pissed and waves of that are still arriving to my shore. Like the worst kind of shock wave, you think you've handled a situation, and then a little ripple appears out of no where to remind you that you aren't quite finished yet. Ugh. 

Here's what I'm realizing as I look back and observe my growth and shifts and it's pretty simple, I was being creative just not in the obvious ways. I wasn't writing blog posts. Instead, I was taking the time to work towards removing obstacles from my life that hinder my creativity. And guess what? That took time, in fact, it's still taking time. It actually requires consistent lifelong care and attention similar to anything that's important to you. Just like my grandmother's beautiful silver, I polish it and it always tarnishes again but I will always keep polishing. It's a labor of love and so is your creativity. Tend to it, people. Your artistic qualities are worth the effort as an outlet for you and, if you're so inclined, they are also worth sharing with the world, I promise. 

And all of that brings me to this, my biggest take away and point to share. My golden nugget is: allow yourself to feel your feelings. I'll say that again, feel your f*&%ing feelings. The best advice and the simplest guidance I got was to sit with whatever I am feeling and process that shit. We all have feelings and we weren't given them to stuff deep inside and ignore. We were given feelings as tools; to help guide us, to help us work through challenges, to help us survive. Society, learned experiences and behaviors all teach us to stuff anything that's uncomfortable, ugly, painful, and/or anything we just don't want to deal with. Well, that's one way to deal with it but I promise you that until you SIT with those feelings and FEEL them they will continue to reoccur. That ripple will keep coming to your shore, guaranteed.  

Shine your light, play outside, get creative and go FEEL your feelings!

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Disconnected

When was the last time you checked out? I mean, completely disconnected yourself from every form of technology distraction in your life? Have you ever done that? And perhaps the better question, would you even consider doing something so outrageous?

I recently participated in a personal experiment:

For one whole week eliminate social media (yes- all of them), news, reading, and television.

Why in the world would someone do that? Great question.

I did it mainly to see if I actually could. I also did this to see how much time I actually commit (waste) to scrolling. I was almost more curious about what I could accomplish without the time vortex black hole of social media and similar distractions. What was I really capable of? What was I missing by filling countless minutes invested in the faraway lives of social media acquaintances? 

This experiment is something I've previously dabbled with and I think that every one should too. Think of it like a challenge. Give yourself one week, or not. It's up to you but you may blow your own damned mind if you do.

This time I deleted it all with the support of friends. A book that we are reading suggested something similar so we dove in, reluctantly, head first. It was not our first choice, you know, "the timing is bad," "I have job responsibilities," " it's important to know what's going on," and more "blah blah blah..." You get the idea, we fought it. All of us. Eventually we got the fight out of us and surrendered to the process. 

It wasn't easy. Some days were harder than others. I was cranky, a lot. I sent texts in book form to my fellow media droppers trying to c o n n e c t. On more than one occasion I picked up my phone and placed my thumb where that cute little camera icon app used to be, out of habit. Yikes. I did other things I'm not proud of. I probably drank too much to compensate for all the feelings I was being forced to feel. Woah. It was a wild ride, y'all and I can't say I'm exactly thrilled by my experience or behavior during it. 

Now that I've made it to the other side, a full seven days without the shit, I can finally say this, I am so proud of myself for staying the course. Nothing worth while comes easily, right? Well this was no exception.

What else did I learn? I thought you'd never ask. 

I learned that I spend ALOT of time on social media and the similar, distracting my mind from what is really happening in MY life. I have a to-do list a mile long so I log in to Facebook and waste an hour because I can. I learned that I can be really productive. And creative. And a little bit crazy when left to my own devices. I learned that there are far better ways to spend my time. I learned that without those distractions I listened more, I thought more and it's almost as though I cared more about shit that actually matters. I definitely felt more, even when I didn't want to and that may be my biggest take away. 

I missed a lot! I would have never known it was National Woman's Day last Thursday if a friend hadn't told me. I would have missed some birthdays but lets be real, without Facebook, I only really know like five people's birthdays. I probably missed our President doing something else shocking. I'm sure I missed someone's kid being extra cute. I'd put money down that I missed a lot of amazingly flexible and bendy yogis striking a pose or thirty. I missed someone ranting about something that matters to them and a lot of others ranting about shit that doesn't matter to anyone. I was so out of the loop I didn't realize it was Daylight Savings until like 2pm on Sunday-- I thought we had lost power.

My point in recapping all of the breaking news that I missed last week is to point out that I'm still here. I'm still relevant. I didn't waste away. And even though I missed a lot, I didn't really miss anything at all.

What did I do with all that free discovered time? I journaled. I went hiking. I went on a road trip. I colored. I went on more walks with Pip than I can count. I spent time with friends. I cooked. I worked on designs for our new house. I spent time with my favorite person. I cleaned. I cleared space within myself to make room for what's important. I got rid of some emotional baggage. I dealt with mood swings. I felt emotions that I would ordinarily cover up.

I lived. 

You may think I'm crazy for writing this or doing this or maybe you already believed that to be true. Regardless, I urge you to consider for just a moment, what it would be like to eliminate those distractions from your life? We all take care of our devices, we charge them, we update them and when all else fails we turn them completely off to reset them. Has it ever occurred to you that you may need the same thing?

Set reset for yourself. Turn yourself off so that when you are on you are presenting the best version of you. 

Girl Talk

When I wrote the title: "Girl Talk," I rolled my eyes.

I've always been closer with the guys. Maybe it's because I have an older brother and no sisters? Maybe it's because I don't really like chicks? I'm not entirely sure why but I've always found it easier to chill with the dudes than get gussied up with the ladies. Don't get me wrong, I've got some of the world's best girlfriends but I can literally count the number of them on one hand. I'm not what you'd call a girls girl. I'm scared of girls. Girls are mean, catty, mostly selfish, and hard to get along with.

Well, that's what I've thought all these years.

Recently, I learned something new. I learned that all the things I'd previously thought about chicks was mostly wrong. I mean, there are definitely still lots of females that may fall into the unfortunate categories I outlined above but they would also fall under the category of plain old lousy humans. I can't keep blaming some bad female behavior on the whole bunch. Sadly, based on past experiences, I had established a really strong line of personal defense which included rarely trying to make new female friends. It was a defense mechanism for sure, but ultimately, I think that I ended up hurting myself the most.   

Serious food for thought: just when you think you've figured yourself out, it is possible to uncover new truths about you. Yes, even you. Be open, explore, and investigate the deep crannies of yourself that you always chalk up to; I've always been this way, or I'm just not into that, or I know I don't like this or that. In other words, let yourself get a little uncomfortable. Put yourself out there. Get out of your own way. 

Those things, they're our habitual patterns, barriers, even walls that we create to make ourselves more comfortable. We insulate ourselves in order to protect ourselves from change, from the uncomfortable, from the new. BUT we were designed to evolve, to change, to live in a state of flux. I'm learning that instead of remaining stagnate in my comfortable insulated bubble that it's waaaay more rewarding to ride the wave of life.

Is it scary? Hell yes. Is it worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely. 

I was recently invited to join a group of badass chicks to work together to read a book. The plan: work together, support, encourage and navigate the creative path that this book lays before it's reader. At first I jumped to my old standby, "Nope, a group of girls? I'm out!" But, for whatever reason, I was intrigued. I didn't immediately respond. I was interested and I wasn't exactly sure how to proceed. I eventually decided to get out of my own damn way and see what would happen if I took the plunge. Reassuring myself that the worst thing that could happen was maybe realizing it wasn't for me. That didn't seem so bad. 

As it turns out, joining this lady group and reading this book are turning out to be a stellar decision. It's uncomfortable, it's hard, it's eyeopening and it is literally looking at my comfort zone and destroying it with laser beam eyes. It's all about growth. Personal growth that translates into living my best possible life. 

Do yourself a favor and forget all those labels. You know the ones, some you created for yourself, some are leftover bullshit from childhood, from high school, maybe even last week. Ditch them. Throw them out the window and set yourself free. I know, I know, easier said then done. Maybe you're just at the stage of considering, and that's a great place to be. Where ever you are, how about considering that there is more. Whether you're a girls girl or a dudes dude, who in the hell cares? I know that I'm sick of what I always thought I was. When I realized that I didn't have to be any of those things, I allowed myself to discover a world of possibility.  

In the last month, I've really shaken things up. I've realized more about myself surrounded by a group of girls I barely know, than I have in years. It's all about being ready, perfect timing, literally stars aligning for shifts like this to happen but the point is, it's possible. Anything is possible! When you surround yourself with amazing, strong, supportive, encouraging and inspiring humans it becomes a challenge to stay put. So whether or not it's embracing the feminist inside you, connecting with an artistic pursuit you deemed childish long ago, running for office, becoming a foster parent, whatever it is that's calling to you, 

DO IT!

Make some waves or just ride them. As they say, there is no time like the present. 

I'm where I am today because I joined a group of badass chicks to read a book. (I just rolled my eyes, again.) I mean, who knew that could be responsible for so much? I crept out of my comfort zone and what I discovered is so much more than I could have expected. Don't let yourself be confined or contained by how you feel something should or shouldn't be. You are entirely up to you, so why not shine?

One Decade Old

My little Aquarius, almost Valentine pup, turned 10 years old on February 15th!

Yep. This crazy dog lady is writing about her pup, again. No need to continue reading if you just can't handle another gushfest. If you care to continue here's the story about how I came to be the proudest GSP owner. What follows is the story about the day that Pippin picked me.

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This decade old love affair began in a dingy basement in Waynesboro, Virginia. If you're familiar with Waynesboro that line could easily double as the intro to a horror film. This, fortunately, is instead the intro to a tale of two friends that includes very little horror unless of course, you're a groundhog. During my stint at school in Florida, my parents had the misfortune of biding farewell to both of my childhood dogs. Zach, a handsome and loyal Black Labrador and his shadow of a sidekick, Heidi the Weimaraner. It was unbearably hard to be away from them especially in the end. They were the best of the best. Everything and more than you would want from two pups. After mourning their loss' and living dog less for the first time in many many years they had finally decided it was time for another. I had since moved back to the area and agreed that they were ready to start the hunt for another loyal companion. They were hoping for a German Shorthaired Pointer, at least that's what I remember my mom saying that she wanted. And that of course meant that they would be getting a German Shorthaired Pointer.

It was the Spring of 2008 and mom found an advertisement in the classifieds for GSP puppies. How exciting! They invited me along to go check them out. They were too young to go to their new homes but we could go take a peek and if the stars aligned, I could help my folks pick out their new dog. Keep in mind, I had zero intention of getting one of my own, seriously. I've said it before, but I could barely take care of myself at that point and the little bit of effort I did put in was just that, very little effort. I couldn't imagine the responsibility that came along with another life. Off we went, over the mountain to Waynesboro, to look at puppies!

For some reason I remember that my mom was very specific about what she wanted; a male, one that was white with brown (liver) spots. I was sort of thinking that the right one would probably pick them whatever color it may be. But what did I know? I'd never done this before. I mean, I had been present when our family had gotten our previous dogs but I don't remember how that had gone down, I was maybe eight years old. About the only thing I can guarantee is that my opinion probably wasn't a deciding factor. 

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We arrived to a brick rancher in an established neighborhood in the heart of Waynesboro. In my mind we were heading to a farm. I guess that was just the first part of the story I had created in my mind. We were greeted at the front door and instead of heading to the backyard where we saw and heard dogs we were invited inside and ushered to the basement. The basement?! Again this is not part of the story I created in my mind. But off we went, down the stairs to the basement, something I would probably only do for puppies. In the basement were large cardboard boxes full of puppies. And again, another part of this story that had not existed in the one I had imagined. But there they were, the cutest spotted pups, in boxes, weird. It helped contain them, I get it. I tried to overlook the boxes. We gushed and giggled and somehow managed to free them from the confines of the boxes to get a better look. My parents were honing in on the boy pups and I took an immediate attraction to a wayward little girl. Upon her release from the box she made a beeline for cover under a nearby sofa. She seemed to be planning her escape from the basement (me too) and so naturally I had to help her make this happen. I was done looking. This wayward little girl was the one my parents needed. The only problem? She wasn't a boy and she did not have the markings my mom was drawn to. Instead of white with liver spots she was mostly liver, with ticking and liver spots, but in my eyes, she was perfect. Canine perfection. I was sold. And that part was definitely not part of the story I had imagined in my mind. As we all know, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. 

I don't remember much of what happened next. We were released from the basement (thank goodness!) and left saying something like, "we'll be in touch..." I do remember how much that sweet little girl spoke to me. I suppose the universe was working a favor for both of us and we just didn't realize how that would play out yet. Like most things, in retrospect it is all so crystal clear, we were made for each other.

The next part of this story that I can recall with clear recollection was my dad calling the man who had the puppies and asking him if he'd give him a deal if he bought TWO puppies. Whaaaaat?! Two, are you nuts? Why? He got off the phone and basically told me that he was giving me a puppy!

Excitement, fear, elation, and anxiety were just several emotions I remember having about my impending new responsibility. Even if said responsibility was the cutest puppy ever, I was terrified. I was broke as a joke and spent all my money on takeout and alcohol. A dog? Dog food? A veterinarian, good gracious.  I'm still not entirely sure how but somehow with our powers combined we've made it a decade. We both started off without any gray hair and now we both have more than we can count. Ten whole years later, lots of hard times, the very best of times and countless stories later, Pippin remains the very best gift that I have ever received, ever. 

She's neurotic and has way too much energy for her own good but somehow her crazy mixed with my crazy has created the most perfect storm. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

We've been celebrating all month long and I promise you that every day I get the gift of being her person I swear to make her day as perfect as she is. All the walks, all the mud wallowing, all the treats, whatever my girl wants, my girl gets. Lord knows she's earned it.

Pippin, cheers to you and here's to many more adventures and cuddles together.

Work in Progress

February is here in all of it's gray glory. It's cold but not cold enough for snow. And the silly groundhog predicted more Winter, great. It came in with purpose on the heels of a gorgeous  s u p e r  moon and lunar eclipse. Did you feel like a straight up nut case last week or was it just me? It's ok if you need to lie to yourself there, but I know the truth. I spent enough time in my car to notice I wasn't the only one losing my mind. 

After the holidays and the complete lack of moderation that came along with them, I happily reeled myself in and enjoyed a dry January and completed the Whole30 (strict paleo). I needed a swift kick in the ass. I'm going to go out on a limb and call myself a healthy human. I eat healthfully (most of time), I workout, I read, I consciously avoid things, people, circumstances, and substances that aren't good for me but it's more than that. None of that matters if I don't feel good! And it's not just one of those things, it's all of those things and lots more all done in a perfect rhythm that makes you feel good and healthy.

Damn, that sounds like a lot of work . . . 

Newsflash, it is a lot of work. It's so much work in fact that I can actually do more work in an effort to avoid said work. I have become a professional at telling myself I am healthy and that I am doing all the right things just so that I don't have to readjust or change up my game. Well, that's ludicrous. No one thing, plan, diet, or schedule works forever. If change is a good thing (it is, I promise) than it certainly applies here as well. And thats why, in my opinion, I will always be a work in progress. What worked five years ago, one year ago, one month ago, last week might not be what works TODAY. And it really is all about today. 

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This morning something (see picture) that was physically unavailable to me for almost a year happened again, without pain. This is huge. My knee injury was so challenging for me. I couldn't move the way that I had been used to and consequently I had to deal with the mental and emotional setbacks that came along with the lack of movement. Slowly but surely I'm working my way back, mini milestone after mini milestone. I may never be back to where I was but I'm learning that isn't important. What's important now is remaining in touch with my body right now. Learning it so well that I reduce my risk of further injury and push it to it's current limits again and again as I rebuild my strength. And patience. Our bodies are pretty awesome and sometimes they just require time, at their own pace, to rebuild damage, to break through barriers and to get stronger. 

In an effort to keep that new year motivation rolling, I'm making a conscious effort everyday to check in and I mean really check in and pay attention to what it is that I need. And to take it a step further, I'm actually attempting to do whatever it is that I need; more gym time, less gym time, a long run, a short walk, more quiet time, more salads, a brownie, whatever it is, my plan is to listen and then act. I'm recommitting to the process of me everyday. I'm attempting to embrace the process, the ebb and flow, the ups and downs and everything in between.

What are you doing as 2018 charges along to be more in touch with you? What steps are you taking to embrace each day? How are you living a more present life? I want to know or I wouldn't be asking. Reach out. Sometimes a little support is just the thing to keep you on track or to reel you back in. 

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Real Talk

What does the word authentic mean?

Without overthinking it, these are some things that immediately come to my mind when I think about the word authentic; real, true, transparent, honest, and oozing integrity.

I looked it up to  make sure I was on the right track. Click here to refresh yourself on the definition, if necessary. Lately, I'm seeing this word E V E R Y W H E R E. It's in magazine ads, it's on tv, it's in yoga promotional material, it's on Instagram, it's on Pinterest, it seems that everyone is on a mission to be real. Cool. But why are we trying so hard to convince everyone about our realness?

I was intrigued by this effort to be genuine. I don't think this is some new thing but, like I said, lately I'm seeing it with more regularity and it got me curious. Maybe this is old hat and I'm just noticing it with more frequency because there is some sort of personal message from the universe? Maybe I have something to learn? Maybe I am just inundated because of the yoga, gym, fitness industry? Maybe I'm thinking way too much about this? Maybe baby.

I think it's easier to be our true, authentic selves in person. There is less to hide behind. People can still be faker than fake in person but it's easier to spot if it's not on a screen. And obviously, there can still be walls and facades but not the same kind that exist with our internet personas.

In a world where we can tweak reality to make it look just right in our social media posts I started to wonder how anything or anyone can really be authentic? Has the word itself lost it's authenticity? I know that I think about pictures I post before I even take them. How do I achieve the perfect light, look, vibe that I'm going for? Maybe that's the perfectionist in me or maybe the only part of photography school that stuck with me? There are a million tricks, not to mention filters, that can make your posts ooze perfection, kind of like the social media version of rose colored glasses. What does your highlight reel look like? Never mind, I'll just check your social media. And please don't get me wrong, I do this too. I'm just investigating human behavior, myself included. 

We are all in control of how the information we relay is edited but we have zero control over how our message is perceived. We can spend hours getting something exactly right, perfect in our eyes, but that doesn't mean others will view it the same way you do. We lose control by putting ourselves out there whether we are being authentic or not. People will establish a perception about us, accurate or not, based on what we put out. In my opinion, this is also more easily controlled in real life interactions. 

Have I lost you yet?

I'm sure that every single one of you, at some point in your life, have been surprised when someone you thought you knew turned out to be something else all together. Am I right? This could be a family member, a dear friend, a teacher, anyone really. Life plays out and this person reveals there realness to you and you are surprised to learn that they aren't what you thought they were. It could be someone who you don't even know personally like a professional athlete, movie star, musician and by a chance encounter you realize that they are nothing like what you thought. This isn't always a bad thing, in the best case scenario they end up being way cooler than your mind had you believing. The worst case scenario is when you are completely blindsided and everything you thought you knew about this person is a facade. The worst case scenario is a hard pill to swallow. It can be a devastating realization especially if this person is someone that you felt a strong connection with. I believe that social media and our edited perceptions of people can set us up for some wakeup calls.

So, where am I going with all of this? At this point I'm wondering the same thing.

In a world full of highlight reels, of perceived perfection, of edited reality, of fake ass people, hold yourself accountable. Be better. Post your beautiful pics, edited or not, but allow some realness to shine through, too. Take it for what it is and don't judge yourself or your authenticity based on other people's post worthy material. I think edited reality makes the elusivity of acceptance even more obvious, for ourselves and for others. If we can't accept our own flaws, reality, authentic selves than how in the hell do we expect others to?!

In an effort to be authentic, I'm going to share some real talk with you, flaws included. The following are tidbits of the complicated human that I am but the kind of tidbits that I'm embarrassed to share or expose. Here you go, eat your heart out:

  • I write most of my posts on my couch in my pjs.
  • I would rather be alone than with people (introvert life). Alone time is my favorite time.
  • My dog is my favorite living thing (my husband knows).
  • I have cellulite. 
  • I love MTV's show Teen Mom. 
  • I can be bossy, short tempered, and I could hold a grudge until hell freezes (my husband also knows this). 
  • Years ago my family nicknamed my alter ego, Stephalina. She's a crazy bitch, she drinks too much and makes really bad decisions on the reg. Fortunately, I've retired her. 
  • I'm painfully shy and really uncomfortable in front of people.
  • I cuss waaay too much.

I think that sometimes we get so caught up with how we think something should be, should look, should happen that we forget all about the moment itself. The raw realness of life plays out exactly how it should whether we attempt to alter it or not. There is something magical in our flaws and in our perceived imperfections that make us the beautiful, unique beings that we are.

Get out of your own way. Let your freak flag fly. Go out on a limb. Live a little, in REAL life. The world could use a little bit more of the things you think you should be hiding. 

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One Word

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Last week my boss sent a message to everyone who teaches in her studio asking us to pick ONE word to describe ourselves. She told us to think it over and then respond with our word. There was no additional information included in her message.

. . . Umm . . . 

(Insert MEGA pause)

At first I was hoping I could be exempt from this project, whatever it was. How could I possibly pick just one word that described me? I'm way too complicated for one word, I need a dictionary, at least. I started to think of a few but nothing seemed to encompass all that I am.

Awkward. Smiley. Shy. Introverted. Deep. Silly. Drunk (kidding). Sarcastic.

I was sitting on the couch with my husband and eventually filled him in and asked him to pick one word to describe me. He rolled his eyes and said, "Beautiful (without hesitation, yep he's a good one!)... One word? That's impossible, you're too complex." And then he rattled off about twenty descriptive words.

*Sigh*

Thanks for the help. I kept thinking.

Do you ever wonder what other people think about you? I do and I would bet you probably do too. I meet someone new and wonder what their first impression is. A new face shows up to one of my yoga classes, what was their feeling? People I interact with regularly but maybe not on a personal level, what do they think? Co-workers, fellow gym rats, the UPS guy, you get the idea, but what do they all think?

I should probably clarify. I don't spend that much time thinking about what others think but it is definitely something that crosses my mind. I believe we all do this to some existent. I believe we all want to be well received. I believe we all seek approval. I believe it's all part of the human need to find acceptance. It's not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. It can get a little bit more dicey if we really let other's opinions (especially negative ones) get to us. To me just wondering about it is different. 

                   Just ONE word... glasses will definitely help. #smarty

                  Just ONE word... glasses will definitely help. #smarty

After a while, I finally settled on my word and sent it over to my boss. 

I was happy with my word and thought that it captured the most aspects of me in just one word, no easy task. This whole exercise really got my wheels turning. It took me a considerable amount of time to arrive on my word and I know myself better than anyone. What would happen if I asked the people closest to me the same question? Would I hear similar words? Would I hear my word? Would I be surprised, shocked, maybe even hurt? Did my perception of myself emulate what others thought of me? I wondered if anyone would actually play along and then I decided to just go for it.

My text went something like this, "I'm doing an experiment. Pick ONE word to describe me."

And here are the results from some of my wolf pack:  (* means word appeared more than once)

Intuitive. Passionate. Free. Special. Determined. Genuine*. Loyal. Strong. Transforming. Spitfire. Bonafide.      

Boom! My peeps love me! I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty good to get texts back with these words. Granted, I did only reach out to people that I feel a real close connection with, friends- new and old, my parents, my brother, his wife. They could have been way more harsh but I appreciate what they said and what other words were included in their messages. 

It has been a curious experiment, a good one for self study and reflection. I don't want to just have some fantasy land mental image of myself if it doesn't come across to others in real life. I want to be the best version of myself. I want others to be more positively than negatively impacted by interactions with me. Sometimes a little bit of time spent examining ourselves; the good, the bad, the ugly, as scary as that may seem, is exactly the thing we need to make sure we're on the right track. It's helpful to confirm that what we think we're putting out there is really and truly what we're putting out there. And guess what? If it isn't, no big deal, just learn the lesson and change it up.

I want to be genuine and I want others to believe that about me too.      

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Listen

If you know me than you know that I'm an observer. I'm usually pretty quiet if I don't know you well or if I'm in a new environment. And there is generally a study period. This isn't a bad thing although I am aware that sometimes it comes across differently than I would intend. Sometimes my quiet is interpreted as bitchiness or coldness but 95% of the time I'm just figuring things out. I LOVE to watch people. It's entertaining as hell but also I've learned so much more from peoples actions than by their words. If you observe for long enough, people will always show you how they will eventually treat you, if they get the opportunity. I've learned that I'd rather do my research upfront. I understand that this probably isn't the ideal entrance into a new relationship of any sort but I'm an old dog, this just works.

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Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to do some family observing. Lots of it really. I confirmed something that I've been noticing elsewhere for quite some time. And please, let me preface this by saying that I'm guiltier than most! People listen only to respond. When was the last time you really listened? Do you even remember? Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another person. Holding space for someone without judgement or thoughts about what to say when they pause is a beautiful thing. To be a wonderful friend or a great conversationalist doesn't always mean you need to be the one speaking, suggesting, and/or interjecting. Sometimes it's just as simple as being present. 

People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
— Stephen R. Covey

It should go without saying but obviously not every conversation calls for this technique. Often times people are sharing because they are hoping for some kind of feedback or insight. And sometimes just in casual conversation this type of listening is probably overkill. It's just something to consider. I'm making a sweeping assumption that because my loving and very loud family just listens to respond that most families are probably similar. Studying my fam over the holidays was only confirmation of this though. For months I've been considering this listening theory. I've noticed it with acquaintances, businesses, employees, employers, teachers, and strangers.

If we really listened to everything we heard or everything we were told our brains would probably explode so it's essential that we do some filtering. I'm just making a simple suggestion to integrate listening into more of your interactions and communications. Sometimes just being aware of something is enough to change our patterns.

And maybe you're the anomaly who is the worlds best listener and therefore this totally doesn't apply to you, and in that case congratulations are in order. Carry on! But maybe you're with the rest of us "non-listeners" and maybe then you'd consider joining me in my efforts to be a better communicator by way of being a better listener. The people I care about most deserve to be heard and I would like to think that when it is my time to share they would be fully available to hear whatever it is that I need to say. I'm sure that you feel similarly. Give it a whirl and let me know your thoughts. I'm curious!

Thanks for listening,

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Wild + Crazy

Last night we bid farewell to 2017 in our pajamas on our brand new couch with really delicious Champagne and it was not wild or crazy but wonderful instead. 

H A P P Y     N E W     Y E A R  ! ! !

As I sit here this morning, all cozy with Pip reflecting on this past year in the glow of our Christmas tree, I am overcome with gratitude. I've learned a lot, cried a lot, explored a lot, ate a lot, pushed a lot, studied a lot, found a lot, let go of a lot, listened a lot. And here we are, evolved but not hardened. This past year may have tested me more than most but I plan to take every lesson with me into whatever this next chapter has in store. I will maintain an open heart and look forward to all the possibilities that await. 

I'm not big on resolutions, I'm more of a goal setter. So, in the spirit of accountability and growth here are some 2018 goals:

  • Declutter and free our home and space from more stuff. Find the fullness in the open and empty without the need to fill it! 
  • Make myself more of a priority.
  • Say "yes" only when I mean it. People pleasing at my own detriment isn't something I'm interested in continuing.
  • WRITE more! Journaling and blogging. Really be consistent with blog posts on Pippin Points and working to reach and connect with more people through this website.
  • MEDITATE more! Make my mental health just as important as my physical health.
  • Become more active in causes that speak to me (TBD, suggestions welcome).
  • MOVE more! With my knee injury further and further in my rearview I'm excited to recommit to my physical outlets. Running, yoga, CrossFit and other endeavors that have been out of reach during my recovery are once again available and I'm literally giddy just at the thought. 

That's it for now and I'm sure my list will change and grow and evolve but sometimes it's important to have a baseline. I'd love to know some of your goals/intentions/resolutions and/or ambitions so if you're so inclined to share, reach out! Let's do this together! 

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.
— C.S. Lewis

Wishing you all an upcoming year full of dreams coming true, unlimited abundance, laughter, and good health!

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January

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I love this time of year. I look forward to this time of year. It's finally here, the new beginning that awaits us all after the over indulgence that is usually the entire month of December and probably some of November too. The pause and the reset that exists with a new month, a new year. It's here! 

I attempt to have the same measure of anticipation and excitement at the start of each new month, each new week, each new DAY. It's all a gift, every second, every moment. Breathe that in. Let that sink in. 

Years ago, probably almost 20 to be exact, I had a moment. I was at my parents home for New Years Eve which probably wasn't my first choice and nothing happened. That's right, nothing happened, and it was pivotal. I was bummed because it wasn't glittery or loud or blurry or special. Funny though now, all these years later, out of all of the drunken and sparkly NYE's this is the one that stands out the most. My cousin was visiting from Santa Fe and she had invited me to attend an early morning spin class with her on the 1st. I agreed, because why not?

It was my first spin class EVER and I'm pretty sure that was obvious. I didn't have the right shoes. I didn't have earbuds which meant I did the whole class to no music... umm, not ideal. The teacher was great and motivating and I didn't walk out which was a win, especially because it was silent. In retrospect, I realize very clearly, the Universe was totally working her magic. "Here sit with yourself silently for an hour ride" I picture her saying. No easy feat, especially for me in that chapter of my journey. That was quite possibly the most challenging situation imaginable. But, I did it!

Every day we have the unbelievable opportunity to start fresh. At the end of my yoga classes to bring my students out of their rest, out of savasana (corpse pose), they enter fetal position and I tell them to press themselves up to a fresh start, a new beginning. You don't have to complete a yoga class or a spin class or a calendar year to hit the reset button. That reset is always available to you, always.

Go forward into this new year like it's a fresh start. Seize every second of every day and make them all count. If you get off track or fall down, who the hell cares? Be gentle with yourself but pick yourself back up and get back on track (you're strong enough) and keep going. 

Here's to all the great that awaits! 

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Two Spaces

I had scrolled Instagram like eighteen times, Pinterest wasn't sparking my interest and I had time to kill. I was sitting in the chair of my friend/hairdresser, beautiful Alia, waiting for my color and my wandering mind floated back to a story that was still searching for a way to be told. To be honest, the situation pissed me off so much that every time I thought about sharing, I was quickly able to come up with about a million better things to do. I wanted there to be a purpose for me to share, a moral to the story, a reason for me to write it and hopefully a reason you wouldn't regret for having committed to reading it. I'm still not sure I've achieved any purpose but it's still nagging to be shared so here goes...

I had done what seemed like thirty loads of laundry. I had folded, laid out and organized assorted camouflage. I refilled and neatly placed together on the bathroom counter all the travel size toiletry items that he could possibly need and some he probably wouldn't need. My husband was preparing to leave town for a week long hunting trip which really meant that I was preparing him to leave town. I was exhausted from the week and my efforts to make his departure as seamless as possible. We decided to run out for a quick bite to eat before we finished packing. 

I drove us to a popular spot and quickly noticed that there were no parking spaces available in their small tight lot. I managed to maneuver my car around and before I pulled out I noticed a person leaving who waved as an effort to offer his spot upon his departure. Thank you, universe. Perfect timing!

I squeezed my ride in between two other vehicles with barely room to spare. Dinner beckoned!

We enjoyed our meal and tied up the loose ends related to his departure. He had been so busy with work that it was a delightful respite to just enjoy some time together as quick and hurried as it seemed. 

We paid our bill, ran into and quickly visited with a friend and then headed off to the car. My husband offered to drive us home and of course, without hesitation, I agreed. We got maybe a block down the road when he noticed a small piece of paper tucked under the driver side windshield wiper. He asked me what it was and then pulled over to investigate. 

1 CAR 2 SPACES
LEARN TO PARK
CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
IS IMPORTANT

I studied his face as he read the note. He smirked and then handed it to me. I was hoping for the best but judging by his face I guessed that it wasn't a love note. Another diner from our dinner spot was apparently irritated with my parking job. 

 People actually dot their i's with a circle?!

People actually dot their i's with a circle?!

More upsetting to me than the note itself was the fact that someone actually took the time to write it and then place it on my car. I get it, people are nuts and people driving cars are even nuttier. Sure, like everyone else, I get frustrated by other drivers but I also try and examine the whole situation. I try and not let their boneheaded moves bother me. No fiber of my being can imagine being frustrated enough with another persons parking job to write them a note about it and then place it on their car. And to question my level of consideration towards other humans... shut your mouth!

I've been thinking about this for some time now and it finally came back to my attention last night when I dined with some friends at the same restaurant where said parking malfunction occurred. You better believe I double checked to make sure I was between those lines. And fortunately my car was note free after my meal! 

My point in sharing this story (I think) is to shine some light on what I believe to be the obvious... don't be an asshole. It's actually easier to be friendly. Maybe before losing your shit on a complete stranger consider the entire circumstance. Fact: We all make mistakes! What if we all showed a little grace instead? What if we gave them the benefit of the doubt? What if we didn't immediately jump to our own inconvenience regarding a situation? What if we just rolled our eyes and found another spot?

Another lesson from this situation is to not take others actions to heart. I'm working on this but, man, it doesn't come easily to me. It's hard for me to not take things personally. I'm super sensitive and it is my natural reaction to be immediately impacted by others. I am working on this. Maybe the author of the note was having a bad day, a bad life? Maybe, maybe, maybe... the possibilities are endless. 

To the author of the note: I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused you. When I squeezed my car perfectly into the spot that was available exactly when I needed it, never did I ever think that months later I would still be studying my actions of that parking job. That, my friend, is how much I consider others. A whole hell of a lot, too much really.

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After my parking faux pas, I had the pleasure of witnessing the perfect example of what one car (truck in this case) actually looks like while occupying two spaces. Granted there were ample other available spots but you know what I did? I literally laughed out loud, literally, while I drove my car to an open spot. I pulled out my phone to capture this to support my story and my mother couldn't figure out what was so picture worthy. I think she said, "You must really like that truck." Yes, mom, I really do like that truck.

Do me a favor (I know you already read this whole thing, thank you) Now... Go smile at someone, give someone a hug, tell someone they're doing a great job, go spread some L O V E!

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Green Drank

Without fail, if we are home, E V E R Y morning is started with one of these bad boys in our house.

It's hard for me to believe but this is a habit we got into nearly FIVE years ago. I was pissed about it, still am, so healthy so early in the morning. The only reason I was pissed is because it wasn't my idea. Say what?! I know, this health nugget was my husband's brainchild. I've mentioned before that he has become an avid podcast listener (long hours in the car ) and a particular one of his favorites featured a similar recipe.

I suppose the rest is history. Before coffee and before we are technically awake by 6:30 every morning we start our day with a goblet full of green veggie goodness. I promise you that even if you blow your nutrition the rest of the day, knowing you started this way is such a game changer.

Here's how we make it... and remember we make a huge batch enough for two giant sized portions so adjust if necessary.

GREEN DRANK:

  • 4ish large Kale leaves without stems (we use Lacinato)
  • 2 inches fresh peeled Ginger Root
  • 4 stalks Celery
  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 1 Green Pear or Apple 
  • Juice from one whole Lemon
  • 10oz Water or Coconut Water
  • 5ish Ice Cubes

Throw everything into a high-powered blender (we use a VitaMix) and let it go to town. Make sure it is fully blended/pureed it helps with texture and drinkability! Enjoy!

And there you go! Health in a glass. It's also important for me to make clear that I don't actually love the way this tastes but just knowing how good it is for me is enough to get it down. Let me know if you give it a shot. Cheers!

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Fresh Start

Hello, Fall!

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This time of year is absolutely glorious! As a nature lover and outside fanatic I feel pulled everyday to spend more and more time outside. The crisp air in the evenings and the warm golden hues of the sun kissed days are nature therapy. Bring it on! 

As with the change of all the seasons, the shift from summer to fall brings an interesting and sometimes overwhelming energetic move for a lot of us. I feel it, do you? Things feel more hectic than usual, chaotic even and it's not unusual to feel a complete lack of control. I have had some ups and downs but am finally arriving in a more grounded place. 

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I attended a dream come true yoga workshop at the beginning of October and it couldn't have come at more perfect time. I was feeling scattered and flighty but being in a room full of strong, beautiful yogis helped me to reconnect and settle myself. I learned lots of things but my favorite take away was the idea of a fresh start.

Because this wonderful life is always moving, adjusting and throwing us unexpected curveballs, I've strayed many times in the last month from the centered space I found at the workshop. Fortunately, when I give myself some space, I can come right back and find a fresh start. I've been applying that concept to all aspects of my life; my yoga practice, patience, injury, relationships, you name it. Give it a whirl for yourself. We all deserve it. Be kind and gentle with yourself and when things get tricky just tune in, reconnect and find a fresh start.

Speaking of fresh starts, I'm in the process of revamping Pippin Points. I hope to use this site to share, encourage, motivate and connect on a more regular basis. Please stay tuned and join me on my journey.

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I'm not Sorry

A serious stretch of self exploration and human study began for me after a yoga class several weeks ago.

I've been struggling with a knee injury for what seems like an eternity (several months) and I have to modify most physical activity I do. Fortunately, for my sanity and those around me, I am still able to do a lot and achieve that necessary outlet of a good workout.

I was taking a weird variation of childs pose (basically more like puppy pose) and my teacher came to adjust me and I quickly reminded her of my injury and then I apologized. WTF?! Yes, it really happened. I really apologized because I couldn't physically do something that had zero impact on anyone else but me! I was basically apologizing for being myself. It was an a-ha moment to say the least.

It was a phenomenal class and I left feeling like a new person. Yoga has this way of making you feel invincible after only an hour, it's really remarkable. I left feeling like a badass but a badass that had some questions.

Why was I so sorry ALL the time? Why was sorry my go to response even if I wasn't?

I noticed that I was sorry for pretty much everything I did. I was sorry while driving. I was sorry for walking past people at the grocery store. I was sorry for being late. I was sorry for being early. I was sorry my dog was well behaved and even sorrier that yours looked like it wanted to eat me. I was sorry for not calling someone back. I was sorry for not immediately responding to a text.  I was sorry for not performing well at the gym. I was sorry in a yoga class for Pete's sake. I was just plain sorry.

It was obviously a habit that developed and without actually thinking about it I had allowed it to grow into a monster. I was and continue to be determined to change this. 

In my self study I also began to notice that I was and am not the only one that does this. I became hyperaware of everything and everyone that was sorry or at least that said they were. It's a thing. It's rampant and thriving. So much so that we have developed a cute little saying, "sorry, I'm not sorry" or "sorry not sorry." Same stupid thing. There's even a popular song with the same title. We're literally all so damn sorry that we're apologizing to ourselves for not being sorry after we've already said we're sorry. People, we're better than this.

I understand fully that on occasion we are all actually and truly sorry, the real kind of sorry. For example, this past weekend when I was driving down a oneway street the wrong way, I was extremely sorry not to mention, mortified. And fortunately, I didn't even have to explain to another driver or police officer that I was the real kind of sorry. I did however have to explain to my terrified husband that I really was sorry. 

When we say out loud the fake sorry, I'm convinced that it does us more harm than we might believe. It's negative, it's counterproductive and we're only harming ourselves. WE are ALL better than "sorry." Be sorry when you really mean it and I urge you to take a close look at yourself. If you notice you are a habitual "sorry not sorry" person than consider doing better for you.

Excuse me. Pardon me. And simply pausing and using what works best instead of immediately jumping on the sorry train. Also, believe it or not, thank you often works. These are all options I'm filling the sorry void with. There is almost always an appropriate replacement, I promise.

There are lots of alternatives to being in a permanent state of apology. In further research I discovered multiple articles written on the subject, there was even a Pantene ad covering the matter, specifically focused on women being sorry. Google it... it shocked me. This is a thing.

Are you as sorry as me? Are you immediately sorry for everything, like I was? If you are, consider joining me, if you'd like, as I attempt to be waaaaay less sorry.

What in the Stars?

My mom used to tell me when I was growing up that I was destined to be a healer and help people. No pressure, right? According to an astrological chart that was prepared by a friend of my aunts when I was born, the stars claimed this to be my calling.

It puzzled me then and it still kind of does. Or maybe it just overwhelms me? I have always liked animals more than people. Help people, heal people? No, thank you. I feel like I remember hearing this most (maybe replaying in my own head or perhaps repeated from my mother) when I was struggling with the "what am I going to do with my life" question. School never came easily to me and it's safe to say that I struggled through most of it. I especially struggled with the what's next part of that. I've said it a million times before, but how in the hell is a seventeen or eighteen year old suppose to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives? I understand that for some people that comes more easily. And I also understand that one can be a jack of all trades or not actually limit themselves to one thing or maybe they evolve and become successful exploring multiple careers, hobbies, and interests. I get all that.  But seriously, how could the stars have gotten it so wrong about me? 

At thirty-two, I think I'm finally beginning to realize that maybe the stars weren't so wrong, I was simply interpreting their message the wrong way. I think I always took it literally and thought it would somehow apply to my career, a mainstream career. My younger mind read the stars message to help or heal people in a very literal sense, for example: doctors, counselors, volunteers, etc. All of the people that do those things actually and literally help people, but me? But if I'm not "good" in school than how is that possible? How will I ever fulfill my destiny if I'm not a good student? Calm down, young Steph, calm the F down. Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time and slap the younger me. But she was evolving, developing and sorting through everything that was necessary to prepare me for exactly where I am today. 

This week marks a pretty incredible milestone for me. I have officially been "teaching" yoga for an entire year. This past year has been full of butterflies, ups and downs, self exploration, breakthroughs, setbacks, growth, some tears, millions of deep breathes, and lots of letting go.

Here I am.

My mom said this morning that "I'm on the right path." 

I had a  r e a l i z a t i o n on my walk this morning, the stars were right. By helping and healing myself I am fulfilling my calling, my destiny. Isn't there a quote about not being able to help (heal) others until you help (heal) yourself? 

I can't and won't speak for anyone else but it is definitely safe to say that I have helped myself. I am more me than ever before. I feel strong, capable, determined, safe, and more confident than ever before. I've done lots of things, tried lots of things that ended up being no goes for the long term but were temporary yes'. My exploration of new things that never stuck used to frustrate me. When will I finally find something that sticks, that clicks? I'm learning that it is completely fine if I never find that. If something works right now than that is perfect. Everything is fleeting, evolving and changing. My lifelong search for the thing that would stick has gotten me to today, to my beautiful, flawed and perfect now.

I would like to thank all of the people, teachers, healers and complete strangers that have helped me along my path and escorted me to the exact place and space that I exist in right now. Thank you for supporting me and nurturing me. It is not lost on me that every interaction, big or small, simple or miraculous, all happen for an intended purpose and reason.

I appreciate and respect you all. 

Roots

If I could live anywhere I would without hesitation pick Greenwood, Virginia or at least somewhere in Albemarle County. Why? Well that's simple, it's home and always has been. It's in my blood, it's where I was raised and it's where previous family generations also were raised and lived. My best friend (also from Greenwood) said today, "you ARE Greenwood."

Greenwood is perfection. It's a small dot on a map in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are no stoplights. There are farms, beautiful farms. There are friendly people who know your name and who wave at you when they pass in their cars. There are breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. If anywhere deserved the title of "God's Country" it would be Greenwood. 

Maybe you can relate and maybe you can't but it's safe to say that I was born pretty damn lucky. Since my birth, my parents have lived in two homes, both happen to be in Greenwood. Needless to say, I've always had a since of place. I have a bond with the land that raised me. As I grew and spread my wings I lived in lots of different and diverse areas. I loved exploring and learning about life in new, exciting locations. I think I was able to do this because I knew wherever my journeys took me, Greenwood would always be there to welcome me back with open arms. I literally feel a physical change come over me when I turn onto Greenwood Station Road, maybe it's the beautiful scenery, maybe it's the wonderful memories, maybe it's all of that combined. I can't help but smile and Pippin who is a superb and mostly silent co-pilot begins to whine uncontrollably with anticipation, because she knows we're almost home. 

So, why am I sharing with you about my deep love for Greenwood? Because tonight, I'm feeling overwhelmingly sentimental. This weekend I spent packing at my parents home, the one that I moved to when I was nine. No big deal. They have spent the past year (maybe more) planning and building their dream home. Wonderful, right? Yes, it is wonderful and I am beyond thrilled for them. So what's the problem? The dream home isn't in Greenwood. It's actually nowhere near Greenwood. 

All of a sudden, as they wrap things up at their current home, in preparation for their move, I am struck with a since of grief. Yes, grief. Not for the home that they are leaving, although it is a special place. Grief, because I realize that the place that has been home my entire life and my family's before me, is about to be Peyton-less. Besides very dear friends, countless memories, and a dream to one day return, Greenwood is no longer home. It's not the house or the things, its the land, it's the feeling I get when I'm there, it's the pride of where I am from, it's all those things and more that have me reeling with the impending change. 

But I love change, what has gotten into me? I've always been such a cool cucumber but this one has sent me for a loop. I'm a cancer and if you know anything about my kind our homes/nests/shells are pretty important to us. I suppose that is contributing to my feelings. 

As I left my parents this afternoon, maybe for the last time, I was overcome with emotion. I feel uprooted and sad that my ties to that beautiful area are almost just a memory. At the same time, I think that it is helping me to realize that I should more fully embrace the life that I am building here, in my new home.

We have almost lived here for four years and I feel like, at best, I've only been giving it half of an effort. This is it, this is my life. Why am I wasting it away wishing I was somewhere else? That's absolutely absurd and I'm only just realizing this all to be true. We moved here for my husbands job and I always looked at his position as temporary. Last time I checked, four years isn't temporary. He has a wonderful job that he loves and is extremely good at. Why on earth have I not allowed myself to settle in here? 

Now that beautiful Greenwood is in the rearview but forever in my heart, I realize that it is the roots that I have from the place that nurtured and raised me that will help to set me free, wings, if you will, to more fully live in the present and to be so grateful for the time that I do have, no matter where it may be. 

State of Mind

Happiness is a state of mind.

Do you believe that? 

I do.

I can't seem to escape it. It's in the news, on the radio, it inundates social media, magazine covers and small talk. According to many, 2016 has been the worst year ever. EVER! According to the same many, magically it seems, on January 1, 2017, 12:01AM that all gets washed away. We get to start all over with a clean slate.

I understand that every year comes with it's challenges, that's life, right? And it seems 2016 was no different. 2016 seemed plagued. It took many great and notable people, there was this election, pipeline wars, world unrest is rampant, I could go on and on but we all just lived it, no sense in rehashing it all. It was a bit of a bitch.

Despite all the craziness, I urge everyone to explore all that they have to be grateful for. Every day is a new opportunity to be happy and to turn things around. Why wait till the beginning of the year or even tomorrow. No time like the present, as they say. I have forever been puzzled this time of year with the resolutions, promises and expectations. It's almost as though we are setting ourselves up. I understand that these things work for some but I would say that for most it's not the healthiest angle. So, whether you're setting weight loss goals, happiness benchmarks, business plans or anything else, maybe consider that today is the day. Make it happen. Don't wait until the calendar says a certain date or the clock hits a magic number.

Some shit certainly hit the fan this past year and I empathize with those that may have struggled or continue to. Life is no cake walk, but it is what we make of it. We are all strong, strong enough to rise above and I believe, with ever fiber of my being, that we are capable of creating our own happiness. Even amidst the chaos your light will always shine brighter than the darkness. Believe in your ability to be the change you wish to see.

Personally, 2016 was a bit of a rollercoaster but when I travel back and recall memories of the past year the happy stuff is all I see. Here are some highlights:

  • I became a yoga teacher, a "job" I absolutely love. It challenges me, pushes me and everyday leads me closer to home.
  • Me and my family have enjoyed good health.
  • One of my oldest friends gave birth to her first, a beautiful and healthy baby boy.
  • Another dear friend beat cancer like a goddamn superhero.
  • The City of Fredericksburg granted me permission to keep a miniature horse at my home. Still waiting for the husband to grant me permission to follow through. 
  • I laughed so much I almost have defined abs. I cried so much that it made the laughs even sweeter.
  • Sturgill Simpson got nominated for a Grammy.
  • I've watched friends and family reach personal and professional goals that far exceeded their wildest dreams. 

Happiness is a state of mind. Life isn't about what happens to you but how you choose to react to those things that do happen. I know that sometimes this is easier said than done but believe in yourself, work hard, set goals and trust the process. 2017 may be the best year to come (here's hoping) but give 2016 a break, it's just a number.

May quiet contentment find you. In all you have evolved in and in all you cannot change. For we know that gratitude for the past grants us permission to look ahead.

Search for ways that you’ve grown. Raise a glass to all that you’ve learned— both in challenge and in celebration. All of it purposeful.

In this new chapter— we wish you constant refinement. Let your days teach and transform you. Let them leave you differently than they found you.

And at the close of each day, we wish you a pause. One that allows you to recognize the greater narrative that ties you in and weaves you back together.

Here’s to the great that awaits.
— Artifact Uprising

Here's to 2017 and all of the possibility it brings with it! Wishing you health, happiness, all your wildest dreams and most of all, belief in yourself. 

Happy New Year!

Mala mala mala

Sitting quietly by myself, opening packages full of shiny, sparkly, colorful beads, running silk tassels through my dry winter hands and laying all of my treasure on the floor in front of me, wondering how I will join them together into beautiful creations... this is how I've been spending loads of time lately.

 For obvious reasons, Pippin, my apprentice, favors the necklaces with antlers. 

For obvious reasons, Pippin, my apprentice, favors the necklaces with antlers. 

The last few months have been a wild ride filled with lots of highs and even some lows. Somehow, and despite being busier than ever, I've managed to fill what little spare time I do have with an incredible and fulfilling new hobby. I've always enjoyed craft projects, hobbies and anything that requires complete focus. It helps to check out or maybe I'm really just checking back in. I'm a textbook introvert but I usually enjoy filling alone time with some type of activity. It's essential in my reboot process. For me, alone time is on the same level as oxygen, it's just that important.  

It all started this past summer while chatting with one of my yoga soul sisters during our teacher training. We shared a love for neck adornment that had tassels! Go figure, me loving something shiny. She definitely planted the seed, "we should make our own" or something to the same effect. We were consumed with our training, summer and life. Earlier this Fall, I went to a local shop that was hosting a trunk show for a woman who designs and makes her own jewelry. While perusing her things, I instantly knew I could make my own. Her creations, although beautiful, were not what I envisioned making but she definitely inspired me to try. I couldn't resist and purchased a couple of her pieces and rushed home where I immediately started scouring the internet for beads, and other supplies. It was happening.

There is something undoubtedly powerful about creating something with your hands. I have completely fallen for the process. I can't say that it has hurt that others seem to be fond of my works either. I have been fortunate enough to have some necklaces on display at the studio, FLY Fitness Inspiration, where I teach yoga. I love that people think they're pretty and run their hands over the beads and smile. 

Is there a hobby or craft that you enjoy? I'm curious and would love to know what others do to "check back in." How did you get started and why do you continue? Is it the thrill of the process to create or maybe it's the finished product that keeps you going? Let me know!

Sugar Sweet Perspective

Last week I was blindsided by a complete ass kicking in the form of a sinus infection. Of course I was busy as hell and its timing, as they usually are, was bad in every sense of the word. In between binge watching "Island Hunters" and rereading the NyQuil dose directions I did a lot of contemplating, related specifically to the word perspective. So much so, that I looked up its actual definition. 

Here's what I found when I Googled it:

"a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view."

Okay, that's what I thought. Now what? 

As humans we have all formed opinions based on our upbringings, backgrounds, surroundings, schooling, interactions, etc, I could go on and on. But based on our life's experiences we have formed a point of view towards most everything. We all have a unique perspective on everything including; politics, religion, and all of the other "too hot for normal conversation" topics. What I was pondering most while curled up on my couch with my super cuddly hound was other people's points of view. Why are we so quick to judge others if their beliefs or points of view differ from our own? What if before lashing out in judgement of their differing beliefs we heard them out? What if we agreed to disagree? What if we showed some ever loving respect for others opinions i.e. their life as witness for their beliefs? What if we worked together, hand and hand, despite our differences and tried to make tomorrow better than today? I mean, call me naive, call me crazy, call me a dreamer but aren't we all capable of more than what social conflicts seem to result in today? From my perspective, through my rose colored lenses, I am certain that we are all capable of making a positive impact far beyond our own wildest imaginations. I am not certain of many things, but I am certain of this. 

Several months ago I was gifted a book from a friend, coach and someone I respect, a lot. It took me a little while to get around to reading it but last week when I was blindsided by a complete ass kicking in the form of a sinus infection I had some time to dive in. The book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, is written by Cheryl Strayed. She had an anonymous advice column and people would write to her for advice, her perspective, on relationships, love, and life and this book is a compilation of a lot of these letters and her responses. It's a sort of rogue advice column, she's a ball busting, straight shooter who incorporates her own life experiences into her very thoughtful responses. Sometimes you want to cry, laugh or maybe even give her a high five. It's real life in all of it's messy goodness. She signed her responses in some form of "Yours, Sugar."

In reading Tiny Beautiful Things, I began my deep study of perspective. Strangers wrote to another stranger asking for advice on their lives. They needed someone else's perspective to get them through a challenging time, a joyful time, to move on with their lives or whatever but they actually reached out for a new insight. Wow. 

You see, we all need another perspective once in a while. Even if you believe yours to be correct having a different vantage point is sometimes essential for moving forward. You may not believe the alternate opinion to be right for you but it at least gets your wheels turning and maybe brings to surface questions about your circumstance that you hadn't thought about until you saw it in a different light. Sugar's readers respected her and reached out for her specific advice because of this respect. The most curious thing about this to me is that they don't even know her yet they have gone completely out of their way to seek her point of view on their situation. 

Is it easier to take advice from someone you don't know, someone who is completely foreign to your situation and life, someone whose face you don't recognize? I suppose my point in all this is to urge everyone to extend the same courtesy to people they do know, faces they do recognize, people who are already familiar to them. These people may have something to offer us that we have not explored yet, be open to that.

I would give credit if I knew where it came from but are you familiar with the saying that goes something like this: listen to understand not to respond?

Let's cultivate love and respect, even if we aren't seeing it in the papers or on the news. Let's rise above and live by a positive example. Let's be the change we want to see in the world. Lets's be the first ripple in the still water and watch the ripple of positivity spread. Let's be courageous enough to listen to understand not just to respond.

Here's to a brighter tomorrow filled with heated and respectful debate. As always, this is simply my rosy influenced perspective but I felt compelled to share.

 

Yours,