Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Mantra: Pick Yourself Up and Try Again / Walking in the Air

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Pick yourself up and try again, try again - Aaliyah
Once upon a time, piano was a huge part of who I was. I'd play for hours on end, slowly molding my fingertips to the keys, tune by tune, rhythm by rhythm.

Walking in the Air was my piece, the piece, my masterpiece. It was the one I played over and over and over again, memorizing every note, every detail, every tick of the metronome until it was perfect. George Winston was my muse and I would listen to his version of the song endlessly - endlessly - until I had it down exactly.

I had an upcoming piano recital in which I'd be playing this glorious song and I was nervous. Although I had memorized it in and out, front and back, I got lost in my anxiety and I couldn't remember anything. The notes blurred on the page and in my memory.

The experience was so bad that I quit studying piano. To be specific, I quit because of the feedback my piano teacher gave me. Instead of encouraging me to continue and move on after my stumble, she told me I wasn't practicing enough, that I wasn't dedicated enough. That maybe I was too interested in boys and not interested enough in this.

Those aren't the words you need to hear when you already feel terrible.

For anyone who has ever stumbled, or who may stumble into the coming year with goals and resolutions that may not work out just as you hoped, I feel you. I know. I get it.

Keep going.

Whatever your failures, your mishaps, your errors- embrace them, learn from them, move on and around them, but do not, I beg you, do not give up.

You will look back years from now and wonder what could have been. You will think too much time has passed and too much energy has been lost and you will wish you had tried harder the first time. You will see all the opportunity you tiptoed around because of fear, of failure, of worry.

Everyone fails. It's one of the greatest gifts in life, failure. It is a teacher, a guide, a lesson. It is the first step on a courageous path of trying, trying, trying and, yes, eventually succeeding.

That's the secret. That's it. Just keep trying.

This is my last post for the year, friends. I always give myself a little time off around this time of year to unwind. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break if you need it, too.

And remember, be kind with whatever resolutions and goals you're setting for this new year. Believe in yourself and give yourself time. You've got this.

Here's my favorite version of Walking in the Air by George Winston, if you care to listen. And here's another version that my friend Noah calls "mean" (in a good way) because it's just a little bit rougher and tougher around the edges, while still being incredibly beautiful.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Seeker. Sifter. Liar. Thief.

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Seeker. Sifter. Liar. Thief.


Trap doors opening,
Bended knees.
Tricks for treats
And rusty keys.



Choosing, taking
What you need.
Take the best-
The rest are weak.



You paint a picture
For us to see.
The words slip out,
Tongue to cheek.



Rummaging through
Others things.
Up for grabs
And grabs for keeps.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

Here in Arizona we have approximately two seasons: SUMMER and "Winter." Fall isn't a real thing and, if we're lucky, we get three days of Spring. Because it's technically my "Winter" right now, I'm all about warm dishes of deliciousness, like this baby below. It's gluten free, dairy free, and easy to make!

Sweet and Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4
 - 2 acorn squash
 - 1 package of Applegate Farms Chicken and Maple Sausage 
 - 1 celery stalk diced up
 - 1 TBSP of dried gluten free bread crumbs (I used my go-to bread, Three Bakers 7 Ancient Grains)
 - 1/2 of a sweet and crisp apple diced up (Gala, Honey Crisp, etc.)
 - 1/4 (or less) chipotle pepper
 - 1 TSP dried Italian seasonings
 - Salt and Pepper for sprinkling
 - Coconut oil for baking

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut each acorn squash in perfect halves. Oil them up with a little coconut oil, then evenly sprinkle them with some salt and pepper, the Italian seasoning, and the chipotle pepper. Place them on a lightly greased baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.

2. In a pan, start cooking the sausage. After the sausage is close to being done, add the celery, bread crumbs, and apples and cook for about 2 - 3 minutes.

3. Once the 40 minutes is up, take the acorn squash out of the oven and evenly distribute the sausage, apple, celery, and bread crumbs into each half of squash. Add a sprinkling more of Italian seasoning to all four halves, then pop back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.

4. Eat!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Have a Little Faith

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Have a Little Faith

Hey there,
Hey there,
Look at me.
I'm what you're missing,
What you need.
Look out,
Look in,
Look at your soul.
I'm all around-
I make you whole.
I'm in your heart,
I'm in your mind,
I'm in the places that you hide.
And let me in.
Don't be afraid-
Give in,
Give in.
I'm what you want,
And what you need
Is simply,
To believe.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Mantra: Perspective Adjustment

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: What if you were thankful all the time?
White Feathers Design
At this time of year, I always feel extra grateful. I'm sure we all do; it's what the holiday season is about, after all.

It's been quite the year, hasn't it?

The good and the bad, the truth and the lies, the devastation and the never surrendering hope, hope hope.

I recently had what I would call a Perspective Adjustment. A chance to change the way I saw and felt about something because something else jumped into my path and made me re-think, well, everything.

This thing would be a job opportunity that came out of the blue from a dear friend of mine. It was an amazing offer; excellent pay, something I'd love and was well qualified for, plus returning to an area I know in and out, but with a brand new job title to add to my resume. It was comfortable and exciting, all at the same time.

But, for a number of reasons, I opted against it. While each and every reason carries it's own weight, one of the most interesting was how having this offer come up caused me to re-think what I was already doing. How it made me reconsider frustrations and complaints I'd been feeling about my current job. All the tiny, minuscule things that, if left to fester too long over time, build up and make themselves seem so much bigger and more important than they really are.

It hit me out of nowhere, if I'm being honest.

I don't have a bad job. Not in any sense of the word. It can be frustrating, infuriating, and annoying, but in the end it is good through and through. I just kind of forgot that for a while. That's what happens when you do something for a long time and you get used to your woes and complaints. You start to see them as major events when really they're almost nothing at all in the big scheme of life and work. It's like that saying, "First world white people problems," where people complain about things no one should ever have a right to complain about, like having no WiFi at a restaurant. It's complete insanity.

I was being a little insane, too.

My recent Perspective Adjustment woke me up to not only all of the good in what I do now, but to a lot of the good around me that I take for granted. It made me thankful for things I've forgotten to be thankful for in quite some time.

It has been an excellent lesson, a great wake up, a wonderful eye-opener.

It made me think: What if we were thankful all the time? 

How different our lives would be if we noticed not just the big things, but the small, common, every day ones, like indoor plumbing, more clothes than we need to choose from and complain about all the time, and the ability to have our favorite TV show record while we're out doing whatever the hell we want all thanks to this magical little box called a DVR.

We humans are so silly sometimes. The things we think of, the things we torture ourselves over or complain endlessly about- all the things we have chosen to reflect negatively on for no real reason.

Maybe we could all use a little bit of a Perspective Adjustment? Maybe we could all be a little more appreciative like Parker, from Friends, who saw the good in all things. I mean, not quite like him, because it was a little much, but you get the idea.

I am thankful for all of you, and that is something I will not forget nor take for granted at this time of year or any other.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Trying

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments


I'm not trying to go downhill,
I'm trying to stay upright.

I'm not trying to go downhill,
I'm trying to stay upright.

I'm not trying to fall-
Not trying to fall.

I want to stand and fight.

But I'm...


Searching for the light.

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's the Most Wonderful (Shopping) Time of the Year

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Low Star Studio
It's that time of year for, you know, eating and shopping and family and shopping and decorating and, hey, more shopping! In my house, I'm CEO of all things gift related for everyone, which means I've got a lot of experience figuring out what to get all kinds of people with all kinds of various present preferences. Here are some of my favorites in hopes of helping you with your holiday shopping list

For the Organic Product Person

Know someone who's all about great body products? I'm talking shampoo, lotion, oils, etc? Here's a site you need to check out: Maple Holistics. My recommendation is the tea tree shampoo and conditioner. As an essential oil, tea tree is know for it's cleansing and soothing-to-the-scalp properties. Add that in with the other oils found in this product and you have yourself a masterpiece of hair art.

Maple Holistics
You know how you always hear about product build up in your hair? This will solve that problem. After each use, my hair was literally squeaky clean- I kid you not. I'd run my hands through my hair and a squeak would emit. One thing I will note is that if you have finer, longer hair like me, you're going to want to double up on the conditioner for the ends. It can get a little tangly, but with the right amount of conditioner following the shampoo, you're good to go. Also, the shine, you guys. The shine! I noticed a serious amount of gloss and gleam after using this product.

They have subscription boxes (which are all the rage, as I'm sure you know- see below), beard oil, cosmetics- you name it, they've got it. The nice folks at Maple Holistics are giving away free samples, so make sure you grab that up as well!

For the Foodie Who Loves An Adventure

Look no further, friends. Try the World is an all in one food/traveling adventure in a box. It's a super fun, super cute, and super affordable gift for anyone in your clan who loves experiencing the world through new and amazing foods. My sister-in-law gifted me with this last year and I loved it! My box was all about India: food, tea, even henna art. It's a gift that shows you get who this person is and what they're interested in.
Try The World

For the Person Who Has Everything / Is Super Hard to Shop For

Uncommon Goods
Two words: Uncommon Goods. This has long been a favorite of mine for it's vast and ever changing collection of super unusual gifts. I'm not even sure where to start, gang. There are just so many options!

This pistachio pedestal; I've gifted it three times, it's that cool. Or these ocean reel salt and pepper mills. Or this beer cap map for the beer enthusiast in your group.

Oh man, you guys. I just found 10 more things I want to buy...for myself.

For the Person Who Can Take a Joke (Also great as a While Elephant gift)

These candles are, hands down, one of my most favorite things in the world. Need something for your bother from another mother? Your sarcastic office BFF? Your second cousins first wives neighbors brother who just won't take a hint? I give you: Flick Candles aka Classy Candles for the Classless.

Scents include: Fantasy Football Failure, The Friend Zone, and Love Me Tinder, to name a few.
Flick Candles

For the Book Loving, Quiet Seeking, Introvert Friend

Tea is a vital part of my life, and is hugely popular in my house. I could spend hours talking to you about all the goodness that is tea, but since it's the holiday season and no one has time for that, let's get down to business.

Between Harney and Sons and Kusmi, you have endless tea options- all of which are amazing. I swear by both companies and have been a long time customer of both. If I had to narrow it down to my go-to "everyone loves these" flavors, I'd say:

Harney and Sons: Hot Cinnamon Spice. There is something so warming, so cozy, so life giving in this tea that when you sit down to a cup of it, it really does make everything in that moment peaceful and calm and good. There are a lot of teas that try to live up to this same flavor combination but this one, this tea, is THE TEA.

Kusmi: Strawberry Green Tea. Thinking about this tea makes my mouth water, and not just because it's excellent. It will literally make your senses jump to life when you open the container thanks to the sweet smell of strawberries. Plus, the tin it comes in is super cute. I repurpose them as vases and mini-gardens. Win-win!

Note: The Kusmi site was under construction when I posted this, but if you Google "Kusmi Strawberry Green Tea" you'll find it!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Through Fire and Ice

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Through Fire and Ice

I'll get the matches and you get the guns,
We'll both fight our way through the land that we love.

We'll stand for the young and we'll stand for the old,
We'll stand for the people who are freezing in the cold.

We'll part down the middle; going left, going right-
They won't see us coming through the fire and ice.

I'll warn the children to stay safe, to go home.
You get the men who've been worked to the bone.

I'll fight for vengeance, you fight for love.
We'll meet in the middle with an understood trust.

We'll rest in the morning, take watch through the night-
They won't see us coming through the fire and ice.

You keep your wits about you, I'll keep my might.
You risk you safety and I'll risk my life.

We'll stand with the fallen; we'll do what should be done.
We'll burn and we'll melt, then we'll vanish in the sun.

And when the smoke is clearing in the dawning of the light,
They won't have seen us coming through the fire and ice.