Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Mantra: Santa vs. Werewolves

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: Believe in what makes your heart happy

I'm not quite sure why, but I never believed in Santa when I was little. I never believed in any of the traditional kid favorites, such as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. I know my family tried to get me in the spirit of believing by sliding money under my pillow when I lost a tooth or making me sit on Santa's lap in the mall and writing him a Christmas Wish List, but none of that worked. In my mind, Real Santa was my family who bought all the presents and Fake Santa was some creepy guy in a rented out costume.

That being said I did, however, believe in some things. Such as werewolves.

I know I've mentioned my fear of wolves (were and otherwise) before, but I've never really explained. As a child I was a little, uh, adventurous. One of my many adventurous type of activities was sneaking out of bed and watching horror movies in the middle of the night. My first flick was Tremors with Kevin Bacon and those giant worm things that took over a small, dusty town. I loved it. I loved every single thing about its awesome 80's thriller antics. After that, I was hooked on horror.

I liked all the scary movies - vampires, zombies, monsters - but my favorites ones were of werewolves. The reason behind that is because those were the only movies that scared me. The rest were thrilling and fun, but not terrifying. I wanted to be terrified. I liked the electricity of fear zipping through me. This was all good and fine until The Werewolf Fear kicked in. Up until that point I had no problems sleeping, I wasn't afraid of the dark, and coyote howls in the night didn't bother me. One night I snuck out of bed to watch a werewolf movie at my grandparents house and I was never the same.

First and foremost it's important to note that I grew up in a small town with forest surrounding everything. I would often see wild animals crossing through my yard at night or hear them rummaging in plants below my window. My grandparents house, in particular, was very secluded and backed up to forest that housed javelinas, coyotes, deer, elk, and the occasional bear. The night I got The Werewolf Fear I was staying at their house. I had crawled out of bed to watch The Howling and positioned myself in a chair that faced a window with a wide open view of the forest. It was pitch black outside, as well as inside, except for the TV and a hall light.

I can clearly recall the scene that scared the daylights out of me and ruined me for the rest of time. In it, a pair of red eyes float down a pitch black staircase of an abandoned building. That was it- red eyes, floating, somewhere you knew a body of a wolf was attached to them. That all by itself terrified me. But at that same moment I looked away from the TV and over to the window and my little heart began to pound furiously. Outside of the window was a pair of orange-red eyes, staring right back at me. I sat there, terrified, for hours. The eyes never moved. Eventually my grandmother came out, saw me, and took me to bed, but those eyes stayed with me in my little mind forever. Years later I was sitting in the same chair, staring out the same window one night when I once again saw them. At first I was startled, but my more mature mind finally took time to process what I was seeing and figured out it was a reflection of part of a grandfather clock that hung on the wall. All those years I was afraid of what lived in that forest and it was only my favorite clock, reflected oddly back at me in the window by the hall light.

It's okay, though. I'm mostly recovered from my own self-inflicted trauma. After everyone making fun of me for my whole entire life, I eventually got over the werewolf thing. I don't go for walks at night in a forest or anything, but I can handle listening to wolves howl in stupid attorney commercials on TV without hiding in the next room. Not that I ever did that or anything. That would be silly. Ha, yeah. Not me...

My point, after this very long story, is that you're going to believe in what you want to believe. Maybe it's Santa, maybe it's werewolves, but no one can make you believe in something you don't want to believe in. So this year believe in something that fuels your fire (and is hopefully happy and not horror like).

Believe in your dreams, your life goals, yourself. Believe that you can achieve whatever you want to in life with just the right amount of energy and time.

All you have to do is believe.

And now, food.

Since I've left you hanging for a while now without any recipes, I thought I should make up for that and share an old family favorite. This creamy cherry pie has been in the family for over three decades. It's rich in flavor and melts in your mouth. It's my moms specialty and while it's not Paleo or dairy free, it is gluten free (as of recently) and still as delicious as it was when it was full of the Big Bad Gluten. Also, it's easy to make. EASY.  So if you're in a bind for something delicious and quick to make this year, this will solve your problem. You're welcome.

Mom's Old Fashioned Cherry Pie
  • 1 can Eagle Brand milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cool whip
  • 1/4 TSP almond extract
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 1 can cherries for pie filling
  • Gluten free graham crackers (individual or pre-made pie crust)

If you're using GF graham crackers and don't have a pie crust handy, crush the graham crackers and make sure you add in some butter (olive oil doesn't work as well in this case) to help form the crust. First start adding the butter to the crackers in a bowl until it beings to stick together, then transfer to a pie plate to form the crust. I needed about 1/2 a stick of butter, but start smaller with 1/4 a stick and work your way up as needed from there.

Mix milk, juice, cool whip, almond, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Pour this mixture into your graham cracker pie crust. Pour the can of cherries on top of that. Finish with cool whip around the edges. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, but the longer the better. I like to make it the night before as the flavors really mix together and it seems to set better over night.

This will be my last post for 2013. I'll "see" you all in the new year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate!

Image via themetapicture

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Mantra: What Really Matters

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: Remember what really matters

Lately, old memories have been resurfacing. Most of them are of my grandmother who, today, would have been 100 years old. Two years have come and gone, two birthdays, two Christmases, two of everything.

It's amazing how much someone can still hurt after two entire years.

Last week I was looking over old recipes she had written to me, just for me, and I lost it. Recipes, of all things. But they weren't just recipes. They were pieces of paper she once touched. They were her words with her funny little messages at the end of each of them. They're something that can never be  replaced. I hold them carefully, delicately, as if they're pieces of antique glass that could shatter at any moment.

I've lost a lot of people in my life but when I lost her, I officially became grandparent-less. That was really hard for me to handle because I love every single thing about grandparents. For me, anyway, when I had them I had everything I ever needed. I think of how my own children will one day be limited because I don't have a father for them to call grandpa and on some strange scale of Uncontrollable-Things-That-Make-You-Feel-Guilty, well, that one makes be feel terrible.

Last year I wrote a post called One Year Later, in honor of her memory and all the little things I would forever miss. I didn't actually write this to make all of you cry, believe it or not. I write this to tell you to remember what's important in life. It's not how many gifts you're buying or how clean your house is or how many hours you put in at the office. It's the people in your life that count. It's the moments you spent with them, it's the things you shared, said, did. Remember what really matters in life and make more of those moments happen now.

I Love You, Loved You, Always Will

Today I weep, I weep for you
I weep for things that won't come true, 
I weep for what was had, now lost
I weep because this is the cost.

I loved you then, I love you now
I'll love you until there's no sound,
I'll love you 'til the earth is still
I love you, loved you, always will.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Mantra: Life's Hard

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: You're doing the best you can. Remember that and let go of the rest.

It's hard to be a person.

We grow up, go to school, and work work work work work. We make tiny human beings, run errands, and try to live up to everyones expectations.

We want to be good at everything we have an interest in -  crafts, music, cooking, cleaning, yoga/running/whatever-your-thing-is.

We long to be smart, kind, appreciated, loved.

In turn, we want to be loving, grateful, inspiring, and awesome.

We want to look a certain way, feel a certain way, think a certain way.

We expect a lot out of ourselves and when we don't achieve our super high, usually unattainable goals, we freak out.

A lot.

Why? Because being human is one of the hardest things in the world to do. 

I think of my dog as I write this. His main priorities in life are eating, sleeping, and being cuddled. He doesn't have to pay taxes or buy his own food or brush his own hair or even schedule his own vet appointments because he has his very own personal assistant who does all of those things for him- me. Dogs have it easy. People, not so much.

A new year is right around the corner, which means it's resolution time for most people. I'm not big on those personally, but if you're someone who loves them I suggest one and only one resolution: Every day remind yourself that you're doing the best you can.

That's it. A reminder a day.

You're doing the best you can.

There's no need to impress anyone. No one is counting your dust bunnies or monitoring your every bite of ice cream. Your real friends and family will be there for you on even your worst hair days. Everyone else doesn't matter and most everyone is too busy worrying about their own personal life goals anyway. If they're that enthralled in your life you might have a stalker in which case you might want to call the cops. I'm just sayin'.

Let go of everyone else's perception of you and just live your life. Do the things you love. Don't hold yourself to an unattainable list of things someone else thinks you should be or do. We live in a society that often smothers us with ideals of how we should be. Push back. Just live. Live your life. Let go of the rest and remind yourself you're doing the best you can.

Image via Pinterest

Monday, December 2, 2013

In the World of Wellness: Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Give the gift of health

'Tis the season to shop until you drop for holiday gifts. Because I don't actually want to see any of you drop, I've put together a helpful little list of healthy yet awesome gift ideas.

Why not take your loved one on an adventure? Big or small, it's the memories that last a lifetime.
  • Nature lover with gluten allergies? The Rose Canyon Campground in Tucson, AZ hosts not only a nice site for hiking, sitting by a roaring fire, and relaxing, but also for amazing gluten free pies. That's right, pie. At the top of the mountain is a restaurant that has house-made gluten free pies, and they are delicious!
  • Yogi in the house? How about taking them to a local yoga event. A quick Google search in your area will list all kinds of fun things happening. If you have a yogi who loves traveling, even better! There are yoga events worldwide, sure to please.
  • For anyone who loves to travel at all: A long dreamed of vacation
  • I think one of the coolest gifts you can give is a picnic in your living room. Lay down a blanket, call up your closest friends, and have a holiday picnic get together.
  • Cooking lessons for the one who loves to cook. If you're an AZ local I must recommend Chef Rachel, The Healthy Cooking Coach. She's the healthiest, nicest check around who gives tasty lessons!

And for the food lover in your group...
  • Find a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I like Nature's Garden Delivered for AZ, because they deliver right to your door. 
  • The best coconut water on the planet: C20. Get them a whole crate, they'll be thrilled!
  • Mantry: The coolest way to get food for your guy. Each month is a surprise, so you won't even know what you're getting him, but the foods never fail. 
  • Teavana, a tea lovers dream. Harney & Sons Fine Teas also make some amazing black cinnamon tea. 
  • Know someone who loves cooking with olive oil? If you live in AZ, try the Queen Creek Olive Mill for a huge variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Not from the hot, sunny desert? No problem. Hit up your local health food store for excellent options on all kinds of oils: Avocado, macadamia nut, almond, coconut, walnut, pumpkin seed...the options are endless! 
  • Make a basket of all their favorite foods and tie it with a bow. You can have it be a variety of yummies or make it themed, like Italian Night or Gluten Free Goodies.

For those of you who need something a little easier and more cost effective, these will fit the bill of any health nut you know.
  • A gift card from Whole Foods, Sprouts, (insert your local healthy holiday store name here) 
  • Subscription to favorite magazine (Delight Gluten Free, Natural Health, etc.)
  • A gift card for a massage, facial, reflexology session...whatever floats their boat
  • On that note, True Rest Float Spa is a pretty cool gift/experience all in one
  • Yoga passes to their favorite local studio
  • A homemade book of your favorite healthy recipes that you think they'd love
  • Mini herb garden
  • WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Cookwear (I LOVE my pots and pans)
  • Have a friend who loves detoxing? RawJuvenate is the one for you.
  • Know someone that loves their supplements? Here's some that take the cake in quality, health benefits, and awesomeness: Amazon Herbs. I'm a big fan of each and every one of them in this line.
  • The most amazing lotion I've ever tried: Yes to Carrots Body Butter
  • Burt's Bees anything. You can't go wrong

Regardless of the gift, it's important to remember that anything that comes from the heart is something to be treasured. So don't stress yourselves out this holiday season. Relax, kick back, and enjoy!

Image via VeganSoapBox

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Mantra: You Were Designed to be Happy

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: You were designed to be happy
I'm not sure what's going on in the world lately or if I can maybe blame some astrological occurrence, but it seems like a lot of people have had a hard, sad year. Sad being the emphasis. Not necessarily due to anything in particular, but just an overall sadness. And having been one of those people, I get it. I've felt it. It sucks.

While I don't enjoy feeling my own sadness, more than anything else I hate seeing my friends hurt- physically, emotionally, mentally. In those moments, I want nothing more than to find the exact words to somehow comfort them and make everything better. But words are delicate things and finding the right ones can be hard. They can't always fix broken hearts or heal heavy souls.

So, while I realize this blog is ultimately just a bunch of words, I will try to (kind of in the words of Coldplay, but not really...) fix all of us.

You were designed to be happy. 

Ultimately, this is what I believe. Happiness and sadness are like two partners in a relationship: You must have both to be whole. While happiness is what everyone would prefer to feel all of the time, I'd like to think that sadness has a very special purpose. I think that sadness is the thing awakening us, stirring us, forcing us to face whatever it is we need to face. Whether we need to change ourselves, our thoughts, our habits or patterns, I think sadness is ultimately trying to help us. It's forcing us to listen to something we've refused to acknowledge until now. It's here to help us grow, change, and get to a higher level of happy.

I also think some of the most brilliant minds and kindest hearts belong to those who suffer the most. They see things differently and feel things on a much deeper level. Think of Edgar Allan Poe or Elizabeth Gilbert. Look how much we've learned from their experiences, their thoughts, their (well written) words. While we certainly wouldn't wish sadness upon them, we have benefited greatly from their experiences with it.

So while that darkness you're dealing with is heavy, debilitating, and awful, it is not permanent. No matter how hard it may be to believe this at times...

You were designed to be happy.

P.S. Recently, an article on the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying has been passed around in great frequency. I doubt any of these come as a shock to anyone. In fact, I'm sure most of us would agree and can see how they play a role in our lives now, regardless of what age or stage of life we're in. Look them over, think about your life right now and what you want to change. Because the truth is, none of us know when our time is up. There is never a better time to change your life than right this minute.

Image via TylerKnott

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Mantra: Cleaning Out My Closet

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: Clear the clutter from your life

In the words of Eminem, I'm cleaning out my closet, both literally and figuratively. It all started with a long overdue closet remodel project. For quite some time now, I've been trying to make my closet glamorous. You know, like those fancy ones you see on Pinterest that cost one and a half bajillion dollars? Like that, but within a normal person's salary. That's where my decluttering act began.

I also recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I haven't made it very far yet into her book because I'm stuck in her first month of the project, which focused on more sleep, more energy, and less clutter. The clutter is what stuck with me and the clutter is what I've been trying to let go of.

The mental, emotional, physical, and technological clutter.

All in all, I'm a very organized and structured person, but being that way doesn't mean I don't still have things I can get rid of. Things that no longer serve me, things that, instead, weigh me down.

After I cleaned out and re-decorated my closet, I started to sort through my memories. Old journals that no longer held words that meant anything to this version of me. Boxes of old photos and online folders of photos, all that needed sorting, decluttering, deconstructing. After I made my way through those, I started to clean out my online life. I put a request in to close my Twitter account, I cleaned up my Facebook page, and I deleted apps from my phone. I've found (through academic as well as personal research) the more involved I get in the social media world, the less I enjoy life. I won't go off on my new soap box, but I will say this: Social interactions will never take the place of in-person ones and, in more instances than not, they create more unhappiness than happiness. Anyway, after just those small acts, I felt tremendously better. And that - the freedom - is what pushes me to do more.

I'm still decluttering. Every day I think of, find, or see something new I can let go of.  Do I really need this? Do I really need that? Nine times out of ten the answer is no. I don't need to be plugged in everywhere. I don't need to hold on to mementos of moments that hold no meaning. I don't need clutter anywhere in my life.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, look in, out, and all around you. Find what no longer serves you and let it go.

Also, I love my closet. I want to hang out in there, drink tea, and ponder life's great mysteries...that kind of love. The second picture is a little blurry because I was overcome with joy. I'm such a girl sometimes.

Beautiful closets: Quite possibly the secret to happiness.

Image "Nothing" via James Mirtle

Monday, November 11, 2013

In the World of Wellness: Hurts So Good

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: ...sometimes your legs, don't feel like they should...
Have you ever gone from feeling full of life, energy, and enthusiasm to being certain you're going to die within a span of 5 minutes?


Well, you've never been to a Barre class then.

I took my first Pure Barre class about three weeks ago as I'd heard about how amazing and body altering it is. Prior to class, I did a little research so I would be equipped. I found out that tight-ish type yoga pants are recommended over lose fitting pants, you need a pair of socks (I found this odd, but even Ryan Gosling knows they're important), and the instructors are really good at remembering everyones names. I felt very prepared.
All of the above were true to what I'd read and, I must make note of this, the instructors were beyond amazing. Each one as been super friendly and has never forgotten my name or said it wrong, which earns them mega bonus points. The one thing I didn't read anywhere was just how killer these classes would be.

To be totally honest, I was pretty lazy this summer. I just didn't think I'd been that lazy. Throughout the hour long class you hold poses for minutes at a time, hardly moving at all. Hardly. Moving. At. All. No jumping or leaping or HIIT or Crossfit-ing or anything. You hardly move! I kid you not when I say that after the first five minutes of the first class, I was 3000% certain my boyfriend was going to have to come pick me up and drive me home. I truly believed I wouldn't be able to operate a vehicle, let alone my own body.
The instructors cheer you along, motivating you to stay in the poses no matter how badly your legs are shaking. Leg shaking, by the way, is sometimes an understatement. Leg earthquaking at a magnitude of 9.9 is more accurate. I was afraid I was scaring away other people in the class until I realized everyone else (mostly) was suffering the same way.
After that first class, I went back for more. You know me- I like torture as long as it makes me a better person. Here's the kicker: Pure Barre guarantees that you'll see changes in your body after ten classes. That's no joke, friends. I've only been to seven classes (two classes a week) and saw changes after class number six. My abs and my booty looked visibly different. Honestly, where can you go after six classes in a three week time frame and say that? Pretty much nowhere. That's how hard core and effective these workouts are.

As with everything, however, there are upsides and downsides to keep in mind.

The Upsides: Incredibly effective workouts, very friendly instructors, visible results in no time at all, each class is different so you never get bored.

The Downsides: Very expensive, doesn't really get easier (based on what others told me that have been going there a while. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook), you can feel ridiculous with all the crazy leg shaking. Maybe that's just me.

All in all, I really like the classes. They are killer, but man, are they worth it! I highly suggest trying it if you never have, just to see what I mean. I've not tried the other Barre methods that exist (yet), but if they have these same basic concepts and they're more affordable (for example, DVD's at home), I think they'd be worth a shot.

Go try it out and find out just what magnitude you reach for your earthquakey legs.

Images via Pinterest

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Mantra: Dear Me...

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: I will remember the distance I've gone
We all face challenges in life. Sometimes they're big, sometimes they're small, sometimes they're overwhelming to points unbearable. However, each and every challenge teaches us something new and helps us grow into better versions of ourselves- whether we like it or not. But, in the moment of the challenge, it can be scary, terrifying, too much to handle at times. 

This week I challenge you with a homework assignment, if you so choose to accept it. When you're having a bad day and truly feel like you're at your breaking point, grab some paper and a pen, sit down, and write a letter to a future version of yourself.

Tell this Future You what you're dealing with. Be detailed - don't hold back - it is just you you're writing to, after all. Explain what's upsetting you, what's going on that's bothering you, what you're afraid of. Then write what you want your future to look like- what you hope Future You will be doing, how you'll be feeling, how life will look one year from now. 

After you're done, seal your letter in an envelope and address it to yourself. Then, pick a close friend or family member (who's good with planning far in advance and who you can trust with your very personal thoughts) to mail you this letter exactly one year from today (or hide it really well from yourself so that you don't stumble upon it for a while. Whatever works).

Then, forget you ever did this, because soon enough you'll be getting that envelope and you'll see just how far you've come in one little year. I know this only because I've done this. I didn't even recognize my own handwriting, that's how much had changed. 

Take a moment for yourself to let out everything you're going through right now on paper so that one day, a Future You can look back and see all of the accomplishments you've made, the challenges you've overcome, and the distance you've gone.

Future You will be proud, I just know it.

Image via Pinterest

Monday, October 28, 2013

All Around the World: The Beginning

I can clearly, and somewhat distantly, remember a time when I hated the very idea of traveling. To have to leave my house, my town, or my state was a hassle I didn't want to endure. Then one day, out of nowhere, the urge to travel hit me like a cannonball, knocking all other thoughts to the side. I ate, slept, and breathed the desire to leave. Every fiber of my being wanted to walk out the door and never look back, not until I had quenched my thirst for the unknown. I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere, as long as I was gone. Eventually, I was able to do just that, but even today that desire - while more of a soft calling rather than a heated pull - is still with me. Even today, I continue to listen for the call of my next adventure.

But, before I could leave, I couldn't. Which meant that before I could take a single step anywhere, I only had my daydreams to keep me company. I know that there are people all over the world who feel the same way I do, who want nothing more than to see beyond the same old roads of their everyday lives. Knowing what it felt like to have to wait, I've decided that maybe, possibly, I can help in the meantime for those that cannot travel just yet. Maybe I can give you a taste of what is yet to come, story by story.

It won't be the same as going yourself, but maybe it will help fan your travel flame a little longer until you can go on your own. But first, of course, before anyone ends up going anywhere, there's the desire to do so, and I remember that desire very clearly. I stumbled upon some of my old writing from before I went on my long awaited trip and how I felt after I had returned. These are just pieces of the beginning, of how it all started.

And there is no way I'm going to ever let it end.

All I had thought of for the last two years was leaving Arizona. There was one place in particular that I had been dreaming of lately, a place I had never been. Somewhere cold and windy, where tea was a daily tradition and the voices of the men there could make my swirling, thought filled mind cease and shift to their words. This place, my dream place, was London.

There had been many times that, while sitting alone and irritated in my office, I had mapped out my escape plan.

Cue the Mission Impossible music...

It was only ten in the morning. I would type up an email to my boss, leave work, go get my passport from my safe deposit box, and drive home and write a short but detailed note to my family explaining my unexplainable need to leave. I’d grab the few warm clothes I owned and head off to the airport. I could be on a flight that afternoon and in the place of my dreams the next day, just in time for tea. 

Don't get me wrong. I had no delusions about the type of life I would have there. No elegant townhouse right by Kensington park, no fancy designer clothes. I probably wouldn’t even be able to afford daily afternoon tea. But none of that mattered to me. I was looking forward to the simplicity of my well thought out new life. 

No car, a small apartment where my bed would convert into my sofa during the day, a job as the produce girl in a local market during the morning and nights filled school and occasional yoga jobs. And on every Tuesday, my imagined day off, I would take a trip to my favorite cafe for afternoon tea and time for writing. This was all I wanted. 

There was once a time when I restricted my traveling desire. I was content only with places that had sun, water, and beaches, and London didn't seem like that kind of a place. London was all about history and that was my least favorite thing in all of life. I didn't care who did what, when, with who, or why. I didn't watch the history channel, no, I lived in the moment! Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, all of that changed. The moments didn't matter because each and every one of them was empty, hollow, and dark.

Everything I thought I knew about myself and what I wanted in life had shifted. 

For two years this thought of leaving ran through my mind, day and night, and every moment it felt more and more right. This was what I needed to do. 

As strange and impossible as it sounds, I was bored with my life. Nothing was new anymore. Even the new things were only new and exciting for so long. I worked, went to school, came home, cleaned the house, went to bed. Every single day. I was in no way making a difference in the world. I wasn't changing anyone's life for the better, not even mine. I was stressed out, exhausted, over worked and under rested. I hated every minute of life, because every minute was my own personal hell. 

When my dream of moving became far too much too handle, I decided something had to change. In my still occasionally sane mind, I realized that it might make more sense to go on a very long vacation to the place I dreamed of rather than run away entirely. This would give me an opportunity to try out my possible future home and, at the very least, catch up on some sleep.

And that is how this trip came to be. Now that it's over, I see the difference that one single journey can make. I see the world through new eyes.I long to step foot on every inch of the earth, meet people of every culture, discover the traveler inside of me.

Other things have changed, too. 

I crave the cold. I finger through the scarfs in my closet wondering which one I would wear if it wasn't 104 degrees outside(in October, mind you.) I close my eyes and pretend I’m wandering the streets of London, the wind whisking my scarf in the air. A pleasant shiver runs down my spine.

There’s something about the heat I no longer recognize. I recall the soft kiss of the sun on my shoulder, yet now it blisters my skin. 

Now it’s just suffocating me.

Now it’s just hell.

As I've returned back to my normal life, I hear the usual complaints from others around me. Work this, government that. I find myself joining in. 

This I did not miss. The aches and pains of this life. 

It takes everything in me not to hop in my car and head back to the airport, on to a new adventure...

Images via Pinterest

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Mantra: Study Thyself

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: Beyond all else, study thyself

Sometimes All the time, I think too much. Recently, when I was doing this over-thinking bit, it occurred to me that I've set aside some old pieces of myself that I really enjoyed and have replaced them with pieces I don't necessarily care for. I've gotten myself comfortable in new habits when I really miss my old ones, like ordering in instead of putting on good music while cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I don't do that much these days. I miss that. I miss that version of me that fought for the hard even when easy was, well...easy.

In this so very busy, ever changing world, I've changed with it. And while change in itself is not a bad thing, it is something to pay attention to. What you decide to let change you (because truly, nothing makes you change unless you let it) and why- that's something to notice. Sometimes it means shifting right when you were going left, only later to realize that right was where you wanted to be all along. So for me, right now, it means this: I've gotten myself wrapped up in everything that means nothing to me, to who I am, and it's time to change that.

In a sleepy state one night I jotted these thoughts down. Luckily, most of them still make sense today. Tragically, I admit I am addicted to gossip magazines, but that's one of those things I'm changing...

  • Setbacks will happen- that's okay.
  • Gossip magazines are a waste of money and brain cells.
  • Too much TV is a horrible, horrible thing. Horrible!
  • Don't run away from your feelings.
  • Quit trying to make everyone else comfortable. Embrace your inner Robin*
  • It will be hard at times. It will be worth it.
  • It's okay to love yourself just the way you are. In fact, it's the best thing to do.
  • You will never be the same as you are today, good or bad. Deal with it.
  • Don't forget to be thankful for absolutely everything.
  • Water is a cure-all.
  • So is sleep.
  • Wondering what could be because of "this" or "that" is a waste of time. Either make it happen or shut up.
  • Happiness or sadness increase or decrease depending on which one you give the most attention.
  • THIS is temporary.
  • Ignore everyone else if it feels wrong, sounds stupid, or makes you uncomfortable. What's meant for you will feel good right from the start.
  • Trying is great, but doing is better.
  • It will only suck for a little while.

*The character Robin from How I Met Your Mother, who (most of the time) is her own wild, bold, Canadian self. She also sometimes yells a lot at a chick named Patrice, which is where this "quit trying to make everyone comfortable" piece comes into play.

Whew. That was a long explanation.

Image via Pinterest

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Mantra: Do Not Settle

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: Do not settle for meager dreams
Melia Metikos Society 6
If I could tell a younger version of myself anything, that would be it. 

To travel until your feet are sore and your back aches with the weight of the stories you’ve collected from around the world. 

To take risks, because at that age you truly have nothing to lose. 

To leap at every opportunity, every chance, every possibility of an adventure. 

To believe in every possibility of every future ever imagined. 

That is what I wish I had known back then. That is what I strive for now, but it will never be quite the same as it could have been. 

Do not settle for meager dreams.

Monday, October 7, 2013

In the World of Wellness: RawJuvenate

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: RawJuvenate Organic Detox System


Groupon has been a good friend to me ever since it's inception. It does nice things for me, like show me awesome deals on half off (or more) everything from trampoline jumping to this new discovery, RawGreen Organics.

Whether or not you can snag a sweet deal like I did, I highly recommend checking out this company and their detox systems. For the last few weeks I've been on the RawJuvenate Complete Organic Detox System and I have loved every minute of it. How many people can say that about a cleanse that lasts 4 weeks? Not many, I assure you.

Here's the scoop: You replace one meal a day with a mix of the Organic Super Greens and the Vegan Protein and you take their supplements. That's it. Done. Finito.

It's gluten free, vegan friendly, and certified organic. Best of actually tastes good. WHAT!? I know, your mind has been blown. Here's my secret...

I tried the mix with plain water. Bad idea. Then I tried it in a smoothie but I could still taste the powder and it was not enjoyable. Finally, I tried mixing it with one can of my favorite C20 Coconut Water and...da da da daaaaa! DELICIOUS.

For realz.

I'm at the point where I crave this stuff and get excited for the next day to come just so I can have it again. That never happens for me with powder mixes. Not never, not ever.

The best part about this company is that they have a variety of items for health and wellness that also come with a variety of price tags. So while the 4 week system may be out of your budget, they have a cheaper 2 week system that will still do your body good.

Of course, the big question is does it work. From my perspective, yes. I tried taking it at a variety of times during the day and I recommend trying using it to replace either breakfast or lunch because it does help boost the energy. I also felt like my endurance levels were better, especially since I've been pretty lazy lately. I just felt kind of good overall.

Go get your green clean on, ladies and gentleman! You won't be disappointed.

Image via RawGreen Organics

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Mantra: AHHHH!

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: Face your fears...with a handy, dandy weapon, if needed.
As long as I can remember, I've had a serious-verging-on-completely-insane fear of spiders. All of the horror movies I've watched in my life have certainly not helped, but occurrences from my childhood are what really sealed the deal for me.

When I was about 4, my family moved into a new house. I was playing hide and seek and I hid myself right into a giant spider web complete with several spiders. I shudder even now, remembering that dark, dark day. On another occasion, my grandmother convinced me to swap out my Fruit Loops for Raisin Bran. I wasn't all about that life with health in it (or raisins) back then, so I slowly but carefully picked the raisins out one by one. The only problem was that one of them wasn't a raisin. Even when I would take showers, spiders would parachute off the side and land directly on me, leaving me slipping and screaming all over the place. Damn little aero dynamic spiders. They had to have gotten there from some invisible portal that had transported them to me because trust me, I checked for spiders everywhere. Add all of that together with me growing up with a forest outside my back door and you get a lot of black widows and GIANT ASS wolf spiders every-freaking-where.

Trauma, I tell you.

Since moving to the city, I've been fairly fortunate in not having to deal with mass amounts of spiders on a regular basis. I've even become somewhat brave and killed some all by myself (high fiving myself right now). That was until last week, anyway. Last week is a whole other story.

It's Friday night. I don't have to be anywhere, do anything, see anyone. I was all excited about my incredibly laid back evening filled with New Girl episodes on Netflix. I get up, take a few steps down my hall when I see it- a ginormous spider, crouched near my hall closet. I panic. I grab the closest thing I can find, which is vinegar, and try to vinegar it to death. It doesn't even phase the beast. The spider runs off and ducks (Ducks! He had to duck to get under the door, he was that big!) under the hall closet doors, vanishing into a world filled with all of my Christmas wrapping paper and bags. There was no way I was going in there alone.

I call my boyfriend.

The following is a brief account of my screaming/frantic whispering/angry hollering/terrified laughter cracked out message that I left him. It was like three people were possessing my body. This will not make any sense, but it's the closest I can come to explaining it.

"There is a  GIANT ASS SPIDER IN MY CLOSET!!!! A GIANT SPIDER!!! *crazy laughter* Hahaha! *whispering* What am I going to do? WhatamIgoingtodo?! Spiderinthehall…giant...vinegar! *back to yelling* AHHHHH! Not. Dead. *whispering again in a very high pitched voice* Definitely... not...dead! *yelling* IT DUCKED to get under the door. Ducked! GIANT! *whacked out laughing* me...."

Since he did not answer his phone, and I did not want this monster escaping (especially since I was going to be gone for the weekend) I went with Plan B. The reason I had a Plan B was because I may have used this method before in dealing with giant spiders. Possibly. I can neither confirm or deny this.

I grab a rolled up magazine as to carefully open the closet door where my painting tape is stored. I peer in, check all surrounding areas, and grab the tape. I carefully close the door with the rolled up magazine and grab a small step ladder. I then begin the task of taping up every single inch of space where the spider could escape from, therefore preventing an unwanted surprise visit later on. The following resulted:

I'd like to think I'm a creative problem solver.
About halfway through this my very concerned boyfriend calls me. He thought someone had died based on the message I left earlier which was, apparently, not clear at all. There was a lot of screaming, what can I say? I quickly informed him of the actual situation and then hung up as I had to finish taping off all escape routes. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taping things. Good news: It only took me about 4 hours to calm down once the spider was effectively trapped.

The next day I go home to visit my mom.

Three things you should know before I proceed into Chapter 2 of this story: 1) I usually stay at my grandmother's old house, which is currently being remodeled and 2) I took all of the sheets, towels, and basically everything washable home to wash at my house during the remodel, leaving nothing in the house at all. Nothing. 3) The Universe it out to get me.

Thinking that I've left the spider situation behind me, I relax into a nice Saturday out and about with my mom. As the evening approaches, I head to my grandmother's house to get ready for bed. Before I can do that though, I have to unload everything in my car, including the bedding. I don't get very far before I see it- a BIGGER spider, presumably on crack, running back and forth over and over and over again, right in front of the front door. To put things into perspective, the first spider was about half dollar sized. This one, though, this one was the size of a child's fist. A large child's fist. This one was clearly The Rock of the spider world.

I go find something to kill it with. I get back and see it move right over the front door, where the door and the wall meet, truly trapping me because, if I open the door, it will fall right on my head. I pace back and forth in the house. Back home right now, where I'm from, it's cold at night. And with every blanket, facecloth, and even curtain piled in my car, I have nothing to sleep on, let alone wash my hands with. I'm super screwed at this point. I do what any self respecting adult would do in this situation with only herself and her beloved wiener dog to protect from the beast and I call my mom. Bless her heart, she drives out and kills this thing without so much as screaming twice. Once, but not twice. I finally get to bed.

The next day I see a tarantula and another giant spider, but from a far enough away distance that allows me to flee and never look back. I have no idea what's gone wrong in the world or what I did to deserve all of this. Sunday night I go back home.

I hop in the shower to wash away the horror of the weekend and feel a tiny little needle like jab on the bottom of my foot. I look down, see nothing, and continue with my shower thinking I must be delusional at this point. As I towel off, I once again look down and this time I see something move. A little black something that was positioned perfectly on the shower drain. A spider.

I leap out and look at my foot, fully expecting it to already be decaying and turning into a foot zombie body part while the rest of me slowly wither and dies with it. I grab a glass and trap the spider in the shower, knowing my only hope of surviving relies solely in identifying it for medical authorities. It's late and although I'm traumatized I'm still courteous, so I text my boyfriend.

Are you awake? 

Please be awake because I just got bit by a spider. 

No, I'm not kidding. 

Then, I call him. See? Courteous. I waited a whole 55 seconds.

We both spend quite some time Googling pictures of spiders, which, by the way, is TERRIFYING. I mean it. Don't ever do it.

Eventually, we find the one that got me and determine it's a house spider. I'll live to see another day, supposedly. I finally go to bed only to have very serious spider nightmares all night long. At one point, I even leaped out of bed, grabbed my dog, and ran out the room before I realized it was a dream. Stupid Google with your stupid large and stupid detailed spider pictures!

My boyfriend comes over later in the week and we (I helped, bonus points to me after everything I went through. I'm high fiving myself again, by the way) carefully search through the closet until we find the creature who was super not dead, by the way. It probably loved it's special little vinegar bath!

The good news: The spider(s) are history.

The bad news: I'm probably more traumatized now than I was before. It's time to move to outer space. Please tell me spiders can't live in space, otherwise there's no hope for me.

The morale of the story: It's good to face your fears, but only when you have backup and some serious weaponry available. Maybe a sword, some fire.

Definitely not vinegar.

Image 1 via FunkyJunk
Image 3 via College Humor

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Mantra: Turn In

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: When the outside world's too much, turn in to find the answers.
Melia Metikos Society 6
We live in a very loud, very watchful, very curious world. We live in a very extroverted world that allows us to share ourselves through an identity created through the Internet. We have unlimited access to data, 24/7. This constant ability to tune in to absolutely everything going on, in every inch of the world, can be exhausting. It can be overwhelming without us even realizing it. Worst of all, it can give us a false sense of being connected when we're only truly connected to a computer, not to each other, not even to ourselves.

All of this Instant Action keeps us informed of the here and now. The problem is, if we stay that tuned in all the time we lose a sense of self. We deprive ourselves of much needed quiet time away from the world and everyone in it. We lose valuable time to think, really think, the long, deep important thoughts.

The other night I was alone at my grandmothers house when I was having one of my long overdue Deep Thinking Moments. I was sitting there, in the darkness and the silence, when I decided to jot down some notes on what I would like myself to look like as a whole. What my ideal version of me would be.

At the end of writing everything down, I had this little ah-ha moment. A moment that explained these last several months of the funk I've been in. It finally dawned on me why I was so unhappy. It wasn't necessarily a person or a thing of even just one situation that was weighing on me. It was an accumulation of a feeling that what I was doing wasn't meaningful.

When I think of all of my "dream jobs", my favorite hobbies, and the things I would love to study in school for the rest of my life (which is how long it would take me), they all have one underlining theme- they would make a difference, one way or another. They would be meaningful to someone, somewhere, somehow.

When I realized I didn't have that right now, or at least that I didn't have control over that aspect necessarily, I suddenly understood this darkness that I've been feeling. And just like that, what was left of the darkness lifted. It was like a storm breaking after a hard rain- I had finally found my way out of this feeling of being lost within myself. I found what I needed to focus on: Finding a way to be meaningful in my thoughts, words, and deeds.

I started today's thought process out with turning in and tuning out the world because it's due to having time this weekend cut off from so much noise that I was able to take time to focus in and see what I needed to uncover. I honestly hadn't had that in a very long time. Or, more likely, I hadn't let myself have that time.

Even if you do have that break from constant access to everything, it can hard to shut out the world and sit with your own silence. To hear your own loud thoughts of good and bad and right and wrong. What if this and what if that. Your own thoughts can be the most terrifying things in the world.

But...they are powerful. They are important. And it is necessary, more so now than ever before, to listen to yourself and shut out the world.

Take some time to get away from everything- from people, from technology, from absolutely everything. Get away and focus inward and you will find your way to the answers you seek.

Tune out the world and turn in.

Find what it is that you want.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Scarecrow

I saw this today and had to immediately share it with you. It's only three minutes long, but it's incredibly impactful- and true. We need more scarecrows that take action like this. We need to be those scarecrows.

Also, the song is perfect for this video. Hauntingly so.

For more information on the back story of this video, click here.

What do you think?


(If you can't see this video via the auto email, please go to my home site and view the video there)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Mantra: Funk Off

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: Tell your funk to Funk Off. Then bake some scrumptious (gluten free) cookies.
I have been in a serious funk lately and I'm ready to tell it to Funk Off. It's odd, how you can be so happy for a stretch of time and then, out of nowhere, the sadness creeps up on you and covers you in it's sheath of misery.

For a while now I haven't been feeling like myself. I haven't felt like the light inside has reached my eyes- like it's been too dim, as if my own little bulb of happiness was burning out. I've definitely been sad before like any normal person can be, but this time has been different. This time I really let things get to me to such a degree that I didn't want to get out of bed, I didn't want to care, I didn't want to try. I gave up, internally, while outwardly I kept plugging along. I haven't been in a comfortable place inside and it's for a variety of reasons (work, school, trying to continually do too much) and I let these reasons be my Everything. I labeled all of the good things in life that have kept me happy and grounded as Nothing.

I've been focusing on the wrong things.

In conjunction with my funk, I felt as if I had "lost" myself, which is truly an odd concept when you really think about it. One can never lose themselves. We really just get lost inside ourselves with thoughts, feelings, and lack of actions that we want to take, should take, need to take- but don't.

For a while there I fought the sadness. I tried everything I could think of at first which, lamely,  involved a lot of complaining.  I even went away on a vacation to Indonesia where I very much planned to have a Balinese Healer heal the gloom right out of me, all Eat, Pray, Love style. Unfortunately, he was busy and I didn't get to see him (which, sadly, made me think that maybe I wasn't meant to be healed). The vacation in itself was fabulous, but it didn't make me feel any better as vacations normally do. In fact, the whole time I was gone I was inwardly freaking out about having to return back home to all the dreaded things that were waiting for me. I may have even had nightmares. That's how stressed I am, or was, or kind-of still am. Something is changing inside of me, though.

My first few days back were filled with anxiety. I was giving into all of the doom and gloom fairly easily until I remembered something very important: I have complete control over my life. So, I decided to do something about the doom and gloom: I did happy things. I took action.

I went to Barnes and Noble and got a book, The Happiness Project. I called my old therapist and said I needed to talk. I sat down and started looking for new job opportunities. I talked to my mentors at work and they gave me sage career advice which I employed immediately. I started to give myself little pieces of hope, here and there.

By the end of what felt like a very long week, I felt tremendously better. It's funny how quickly things can change when you remember that, whether or not it feels like it at the time, you're in control of your life.

It's empowering.

It's awesome.

It gives you strength.

Also, I baked cookies- the most delicious gluten free chocolate chip cookies I've ever made and then I ate them, guilt free, while I watched a chick flick and let myself feel all my feelings.

I'm not 100% completely back to my "normal" cheery, care-free self, but I'm on my way. I've remembered the light. I feel warm inside again and I will not let myself lose that. I will not let life steam roll me. This is MY LIFE, after all. I will take charge of it.

Thank you for being patient with me while I escaped for a couple of weeks (mentally and physically) and figured myself out. If any of you are feeling funked up too, I recommend reminding yourself daily that you are in control of yourself, your attitude, and the path that you walk on. It may not feel that way, but ultimately you are. You can leave, change, start all over, or try something new anytime you want. We all can. We just tend to forget that.

And now...cookies.

King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know how many gluten free things don't taste the same as regular things? And how we all get used to it and, after awhile, forget what good can taste like? Well these taste like real chocolate chip cookies.  Yes, you read that correctly. They're soft and gooey and melt in your mouth fabulous. I haven't been this excited about cookies in a really, really, really long time.

You can find the King Arthur flour mixes at your grocery stores or at this link. The recipe is on the back and below for you as well (right from their site). I altered it slightly...olive oil in place of the butter...and I only used 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips when the recipe calls for 1-3 cups. That is a LOT of chocolate chips. Even 3/4 to 1/2 a cup would be plenty. Trust me. Some of my cookies were 99% chocolate chips.

And yes, those were just as delicious.


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

1) In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, vinegar, and baking soda, beating until smooth and creamy.

2) Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
3) Mix in the flour, then the chips.
4) Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/4" balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread.
5) Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, till their edges are chestnut brown and their tops are light golden brown, almost blonde. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Image 1 via Pinterest
Image 2 personal picture
Image 3 via King Arthur