Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Mantra: Self-mastery

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: Self-mastery: The power to control one's actions, impulses, or emotions
Society6Svetlana Kornelluk

I want to see beauty in the muddiest time of my life. I want to know that one day, from that same muddy soil, a beautiful flower will grow.

I want to sit with myself and know my truth, no matter how scary, strange, or wonderful it may be. To know myself is to understand my heart, and to understand my heart is to be at peace with my soul.

I want to stand at the edge of a lake looking out at the possibilities of my future. Instead of a feeling of fear arising at what might lurk in those still, quiet waters, I want peace of mind knowing that a boat is safely docked, ready and waiting to carry me out to the shores of my destiny.

I want to remember the freedom of childhood. To run through a meadow, scattering dandelions in the air. To find adventure in an ordinary day. To speak my truth because I know no shame of my own thoughts, and to live in the world without knowing its weight.

For my purpose is not to seek out the greenest grass, but to simply enjoy its softness.


Friday, May 19, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Romeo and Juliet

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Romeo and Juliet

We will part; this time it's defined
By the hatred I have that's growing inside.
Just when I thought the sky was so blue...

You gave up.

Then I gave up too.


Monday, May 15, 2017

In The World of Wellness: Everything Healthy Ever


In the World of Wellness: Do what works best for you
I was talking to my friend the other day about how unrealistic, and often overwhelming, it is for people to try and be healthy when health is defined in a multitude of ways. Are you healthier if you're vegan, paleo, gluten free, gluten filled? If you only take vitamins that fall within the first part of the alphabet? If you oil pull, drink apple cider vinegar three times a day, and eat nothing but raw foods?

It all seems rather contradictory, overwhelming, and impossible.

Here's what your day would look like if you actually tried to follow everything you hear about:

1. Upon waking up, stretch.
2. Meditate for at least 15 minutes.
3. Make yourself a warm glass of water with lemon OR be sure to drink an ice cold class of water. Maybe both, why not? You have plenty of time in the mornings, right?
4. Before brushing your teeth, oil pull for 20 minutes.
5. Dry brush your skin.
6. Have at least one cup of green tea, preferably matcha, made with the perfect temperature of hot water and steeped for an equally perfect time.
7. Eat a well balanced breakfast: Cooked foods or raw vegetables, grains or no grains, eggs or no eggs. Oh, and by the way, make sure it's your biggest meal of the day.
8. Take all vitamins with letters A - Z, take some probiotics/prebiotics/raw enzymes, and coconut charcoal.
9. Drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day. More is better. But not too much, because you can kill yourself.
10. Have a sensible gluten free/meat free/dairy free/grain free/cooked/raw meal for lunch.
11. Do not drink liquids while you're eating because it cools down your inner body temperature making it harder to digest food.
12. Every 20 minutes, get up from your desk and stretch/walk around. Work can wait.
13. After work, go work out at the gym. Make sure you do yoga/weight lifting/cardio/HIIT, and don't forget to stretch before and after. Also, don't do too much cardio because you'll burn muscle.
14. Take a shower and get clean, but make sure you hit yourself with ice cold water for a few seconds before you get comfortable in there.
15. Spending quality time with your family is also important to a healthy lifestyle, so make sure when you get home everyone goes outside and enjoys the weather. Maybe go for a walk or ride a bike (but not for too long because, you know, the whole cardio thing).
16. Prepare your own meal using the freshest produce you can find. Again, make sure it's a raw/cooked/vegan/paleo/gluten free meal cooked only in coconut oil/olive oil/avocado oil. Make sure you're avoiding all the high sugar fruits and the night shade veggies and only eating super foods and super grains. Everything else is crap.
17. Are you sure you drank enough water so far today? Have two more classes, just to be safe.
18. Before bed, dry brush one more time, then lather up your entire body, including your hair, with coconut oil/grape seed oil/magic potion.
19. Make sure you haven't looked at any electronic devices at least one hour before trying to go to bed.
20. Don't forget to read before bed. It makes you smarter!
21. Also, make sure your bedroom has no chance of any light getting through. We're talking pitch black, like your bosses soul.
22. Now that you've put in a full day of good health, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep. But don't sleep on your side because you'll get wrinkles.

I'm tired just from writing this list and it's only a fraction of what we're told to do.

Now, if you have a job or are a parent or are, you know, normal you won't be able to do this. Not ever. You would have to stop living your life, which defeats the entire purpose of doing all of this for a better quality of life.

What you should do is this: Stop listening to absolutely everything you hear and then trying it, whether or not it makes sense to you and for your lifestyle. It's good to be informed. It's good to be open minded. It's good to learn new things.

It's not good to drown yourself in so much information that you never even have a chance to swim.

Lasting health starts with you - here, now, always - paying attention to yourself. It starts with you deciding what you want and need. Ignore everyone else. Their needs are different.

I know it can be overwhelming, friends. Start small, work up to more, and don't think you have to do everything. No one can and no one does. In the end, it's the little changes that add up over time with consistent practice.

Find what YOU need and do it.

You've got this.



Friday, May 12, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: The Ticket

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Ticket

With this ticket,
I thought I'd find my way.
My life would be a piece of cake,
I'd know just what to say.
I'd never have to worry,
It all would turn out fine.
I'd know exactly what to do-
My choices would be mine.

I'd make others happy.
Their wishes could come true.
I'd make sure they never felt
The fear that I've lived through.
If only I were psychic,
This guessing game's too hard.
All I really want from life
Is just to leave my mark.

So...

I try and try, again, again
But never do I win it.
Too bad I thought I'd find my peace
With a lottery ticket.
_

A little #FBF to seventeen year old me, who was terrified to venture out into the world on her own. Reading my old poems helps me to remember this very important fact:
No matter what life throws at you, you will always find your way.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Mantra: Complementary Contradictions

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: "Everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary...in every good there is a little evil...nothing in the universe is simple." - The meaning of Yin Yang
Society6
Splashy Art
In the last couple of months a lot of wonderful things have happened in my life, along with plenty of irritating and not so great things as well. For instance, I got married, I went on a great honeymoon, I got to spend quality time with the people I love. Additionally, I got the crazy dizzies (read all about it here), my former tenants moved out of my rental house and left it a gross mess, and I got in a car accident. Good and bad. Love and hate. Yin and yang.

I've been trying to be positive about the negative, but it's been hard. The thing I struggle with the most is the people aspect. Specifically, the people who lack common decency to take responsibility for their actions.

With my former tenants, we had a great relationship until the end, when they were moving out and I saw the state they were leaving my house in, a state they thought was acceptable. There was trash all over the back yard. The carpet had bright pink and red stains in almost every single room. There was food and candle wax and who knows what on the walls. The bathrooms...the toilets...heaven help us all.

So, of course, when I told them this was a problem and I would need to use the deposit to take care of this and hey, the deposit might not even cover what I needed to do for the house, they got upset. They got upset, after I let them break our lease agreement and leave 30 days early because they'd just bought their dream home that they'd been working towards for years and I didn't want to hold them back. I wanted to do right by them. They couldn't be bothered to do the same, apparently.

Then, to top off that awesomeness, someone hit my car in the parking lot while I was grocery shopping and broke part of my bumper that I JUST got fixed from my car accident. No note, nothing.

Needless to say, I've been a little ticked off at (some of) the human race. These two items, in particular, were getting to me far more than they should, so I had to do something about it.

I had to find empathy for these people in these situations. Not for them, but for me.

Maybe the person who hit my car got scared. Maybe they couldn't afford insurance and didn't know what to do. Maybe they didn't even realize what they'd done.

Maybe my former tenants were embarrassed and didn't know how to handle the situation. Maybe they truly believed it was clean.

Maybe all of these people are assholes.

Sorry, sorry. I'm still working on this empathy thing.

When I get to this point, where my thoughts deviate back to the negative, I think of Judie, my car accident buddy.

Typically, in a car accident, things get heated. You never know who you're dealing with or how they'll act, so it can be a awful scenario on top of an already horrible situation. Somehow, though, I hit the jackpot in the Good Human Being category when Judie hit my car.

The first thing we both did was make sure the other person was OK. (Tip: This should ALWAYS be the first thing you do in an accident, my friends.) We asked each other over and over again, "Are you okay? Are you sure? Does anything hurt? Are you sure?" and then we hugged each other like we were long lost friends. Judie apologized at least seventeen more times and then we hugged some more.

Two hours later, her insurance company called me. They took full responsibility for everything, set me up with a rental car, and told me everything would be 100% covered. Judie sent me texts here and there checking on me to make sure I was fine and I checked on her too. It was the best car accident I've ever gotten in, and that's not something you can typically say. No one got hurt, we all genuinely wanted the other people to be OK, and each person took proper responsibility for what happened.

Judie, though she doesn't know it, gives me faith in humanity, in all kinds of ways.

She is the light to the dark, the good to the bad, the yin to the yang. She is the reason I still believe there are good people who won't let you down. Good people who will choose to do the right thing.

Thank you, Judie, wherever you are. The world needs people like you.


Friday, May 5, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Wicked Love/Poison Apple

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Wicked Love/Poison Apple

Temptation calling,
I am falling,
Following the path of longing.

Needs a plenty,
Seeds a plenty,
Fill me up and find me empty.

Red delicious,
Empty kisses,
Sinister in all your wishes.

You took your time,
Poisoned us;
Gave me all your wicked love.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Wonderland Wedding (Sneak Peek!)

Hi Friends! I didn't want to leave you hanging today, so here's a little sneak peek of our beautiful wedding pictures. More pictures and details to come later from our Mad Hatter themed wedding!


We're All Mad Here.








Friday, April 28, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Help

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Help

I'm drowning
In the
Unknowing,
In the
Unseeing,
In the
Just being.
_

There's been a lot of talk about 13 Reasons Why, the new show that just came out on Netflix based on the book. While I haven't seen the series yet, I did read the book years ago. Knowing the content and how it could potentially make people feel, I think it's important that everyone who is considering watching it do so only if they feel they can, as founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, Jamie Tworkoski, writes in this post. Check it out and, more importantly, please take care of yourselves, friends.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Mantra: *Insert Upside Down Smiley Face*

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 life is upside down, create your own right-side up
Society6
Luke Gram
There's a party in my brain that my body wasn't invited to. It's really quite rude, you guys.

I have a vestibular something or the other, which basically means my inner ear is being weird and the messages it sends back to my brain are somehow all out of whack. When I look around me, the world is shifting and moving and weirdly delayed in some ways. It's like watching Blair Witch, with all the terrible camera action.

To be fair, I've experienced symptoms like this before when I've been on a boat, and in recent years, occasionally after I've had elevation changes. One doctor told me I had vertigo. Another doctor told me I had a sensory conflict disorder (the treatments are different). Regardless, I'm not new to this dizziness business, it's just never, not ever been this bad.

Two days before the wedding I got in a car accident. Nothing terrible, but enough to give me pretty good whiplash and cause some neck and back pain. Then, I got on a plane for a million hours and went through a bunch of elevation changes. To top all of that off, the last day of the honeymoon I got violently ill from what I think was food poisoning, so I got super dehydrated. I tell you all of this because these things are what (so far) the doctors think screwed up my brain. But hey, I just started getting piercing pain in my left ear, so maybe something new and exciting is right around the corner for me. Yippee!

Here's what having a party in your brain is like.
_

Day 1: I'm supposed to sleep a lot during the day because it helps with the imbalance, but that's impossible because I'm not a vampire.

I'm also supposed to limit things like computer, phone, and TV time because those can boggle the brain and work against the re-balancing. Clearly, I should also not drive.

So, basically, I can sleep and eat and contemplate life, all while being alone and stuck in my house because my husband is out of town for work.

Excellent. Time is going to just fly by.

Day 2: I take the dogs for a walk because I'm at least still allowed to walk. Pretty sure the neighbors think I'm drunk even though I did my best to walk in a straight line.

The dogs may or may not also think I'm drunk.

What feels like Day 742 but is really only Day 3: Bored.

Sooooo bored.

The dizziness is so bad that even normal, every day things like putting the dishes away is challenging. It's like my brain has a delay. I want to put a glass on one shelf but for some reason I put it on a different shelf. I want a fork, I grab a spoon. I forget things really, really fast. It's weird, but mostly a pain because that just means I'm bored bored boredboredbored because I can't freaking do anything.

Same day, 10:00am: I'm lying on the sofa staring at the ceiling thinking of things to think about because I've already thought about everything I could possibly think of!

I come up with something new (whew) and, after a bit, am certain I've killed a considerable amount of time. I look at the clock. It's 10:09am. *facepalm*

Day 5ish: Literally have no idea what actual day it is. My days and nights are all the same and somehow I'm sleep deprived now because my body is all out of whack from all of the over sleeping, to the point where now I can't sleep. At all. This is the funnest.

I start talking to the dogs in a Russian accent. Pretty sure they enjoy it, but regardless, I must keep practicing with them because my new plan in life is to master the accent and become a spy.

This is what happens when you have this much time on your hands.

Day ???: I finally get to see another human being. It's the most exciting thing ever.

I'm at lunch with my friend and having one of the worst episodes yet. One fun fact about this kind of dizziness is that it's incredibly hard to focus. Impossible, at times. So just to try and, you know, be a good friend and pay attention to what she's saying, I have to kind of squint my eyes and furrow my brows and stalker kind of stare at her, which results in this face:
For lunch I ordered sweet potato fries to go with my sandwich. I dunk one in some ketchup and then completely miss my mouth, thus ketchup-ing my cheek.

Still the best, most entertaining day I've had in a while.

Day maybe...7...or so: I finally get to see the specialist. Apparently, he has no idea what exactly I have because I could have something like 1,000 different things. Yay me!

We do some brain exercises, which actually hurt and somehow simultaneously help. It's weird. He tells me a mix of very confusing things. Apparently, I'm allowed to watch TV and play on the computer for a couple hours a day (that's why we get to have this post, ladies and gents. I would've had one sooner for you if it hadn't been for this mess) because he wants me to practice focusing and force my way through the craziness. This is the exact opposite of what every other doctor has ever told me, but I am so bored out of my mind that I don't care and I go home and watch four episodes of Nikita. Spy research, obviously.

Day Something or the Other: My new and so sweet husband is chauffeuring me around and trying to cheer me up because over the past week I've turned into a complete weirdo. I got very emotional for no reason on multiple occasions. I mean seriously, you guys. I saw a butterfly land on a flower and I started crying because I have no clue. I cried at a commercial the other day, not even a particularly touching one. It might have even been an ad for viagra, now that I think about it.
_

I guess all of these things are normal with this kind of an imbalance, and they will go away as soon as my head re-balances itself, but still. I wasn't really planning on turning into a complete fruit loop until I was at least in a retirement home. Even then, that level of craziness is all part of a plan me and a couple friends have for living it up in our 80's, so me going at this on my own so early on is just downright rude.

So, on Day Whatever It Is Now, I'm just having fun with it. I laugh at myself when I do the opposite of what I was planning on doing. When I realize I've repeated something two minutes after I've just said it, I just shrug it off. And I've decided to embrace the furrowed brow look. It could be the new duck face in 2017, you never know.

I find that hard, challenging moments in life often become much easier once you learn to laugh at them. Once you learn to go with them rather than fight against them. In this case, I'm learning how to make my upside down world feel right-side up. I'm learning that it's not so hard once you start finding the fun in all of it, even if you walk into a wall sometimes.

P.S. If none of this makes sense, which is very possible, I blame it on the party in my head. I think it's turned into a rave.

P.S.S. That's another bonus of this mess. You get to blame everything on the imbalance. I bought cherry ice cream instead of cherries? Whoopsie. *wink wink*

*No offense with all the spy talk, Russia. You know I'm kidding. You're just the only accent I can do and even then I sound like The Count from Sesame Street.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Simple

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Simple

I'm hoping my complexities will lead to my
Simplicity.
_

It's National Poetry Month (wooo!) and I've missed most of it with all the wedding and then relaxing shenanigans. I figured I'd make the most of what remains with starting out simple and working my way from there over the last remaining couple of weeks. More to come my friends!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Temple of Love

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Temple of Love

My hugs will be the frame around your kisses,
Your lips will be the key to unlocking my words.

My laugh will be an echo in your smile,
Your eyes will be the answer to long awaited questions.

Our hands will lock and get lost in one another.

Our thoughts will mix and create a love song.
Our memories will entwine to tell the same story.

Our future will laugh at our past,
And we will be the temple of true love.

_

This will be the last post for a little bit, gang. The wedding is almost here and I need to finish up some final tasks, plus give myself a little R&R from all the craziness. I'll be back soon!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Mantra: Mischief, Mayhem, and Memories

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: Life is strange sometimes
Society6
LoulJoverArt
I've turned into a crazy person, you guys.

A fruit cake.

A nut.

To be clear (and to sort of, kind of defend myself because hey, I have feelings), not a bridezilla. I say that because I don't care what shoes the girls are wearing or what their hair looks like or what jewelry they wear. One of my girls might dye her hair purple. More power to her.

I care about things I have never cared about before, not ever in my life. Like how napkins are folded. What the distance is between the aisle runner and the chairs. Whether or not "greenery" means eucalyptus or rosemary.

Crazy stuff.

Even normal things that I do care about typically have gotten derailed. For instance, I've always been a big fan of having a good font on pretty much everything. I am a word person, after all. But ohmygoodness, there are too many options. And too many options drive people to the nuthouse, I tell you! Prior to the wedding planning I hadn't fully realized (or cared) that my name could look so very weird/bad/good just depending on which font I used on our invitations.

Don't even get me started on nail polish colors. Do I want silver glitter? Gold? Silver and gold on a pink base? Or is glitter too glittery? Should I go with a pastel? A bright color? Maybe dark, to offset the pastels? Normally, in Normal Land, I couldn't care the slightest. But now, in Wedding Land, I care. I care in strange and unusual ways. I care so much I painted all of my toes different colors combinations, took a picture, and sent it to my friend so she could help me make a mother effing decision. (As I write this I'm pondering whether or not this post might actually be a cry for help...you decide.)

Outside of that fun, everything else is coming along well. Mostly.

My godparents got into a bad car accident about a month ago. They were both in the ICU and have been released, but they won't be in good enough shape to make it to the wedding. My godfather, along with my favorite teacher and longtime friend from high school, were going to walk me down the aisle. One halfway and the other the rest. Clearly, that won't happen now, which is fine. All I care about is that they're OK; wedding shmedding. Yet, I still wish my godfather could be there.

My godfather, Earl, is one of the last links I really have when it comes to family. I've known him my whole life. He used to live right down the street from my house when I was little. He was friends with my grandparents. Having him there meant I had more family with me, which I have so little of.

When I asked him if he wanted to play a part in walking me down the aisle, I didn't expect the reaction I got. He's a big man, built like a wall. Over a foot taller than me and almost gigantic in some senses. I've always loved that about him. So when I asked him and he broke down into tears, well, it kind of broke me too. Because as big as he is, he's also one of the kindest, most thoughtful, compassionate human beings I know. While I care much more that he's safe and sound at home, I also know how much he was looking forward to this as well. It hurts me that he hurts, whether physically or emotionally.

So, to try and make sure his heart isn't hurting and he doesn't feel bad about not being able to make it, I'm going to make the best of it and bring the wedding to both him and my godmother the next day. We're going to pack up some cake, bring them some favors, take them some of the flowers. We'll have our own little celebration.

On the flip side, to end this on a happy note, let me share with you this story:

When I was in high school, I kind of stumbled into the best thing ever: agriculture. I know how that sounds. Dirt? You found dirt and gardening? 

I was a freshman and I wasn't really enjoying any part of my high school experience whatsoever. My friend was in an agriculture class and had been trying to talk me into switching classes, but I had the same thought you probably did. Dirt? Gardening and stuff?

One day she took me up to the ag. building to try and help me see what I was missing. From the second I waked in, my life changed. It wasn't just a class, it was a family. It was this group of people that all knew and loved each other. They were rowdy and loud, hilarious and fun. They would meet up there before school, at lunch, after school, on the weekends. People of all backgrounds and interests who came together. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. But, it was October and far too late to switch classes. I had this feeling, however, that I had to do whatever it took to join these people. So I begged and pleaded (and begged and pleaded) and the ag. teacher, Mr. Stevens, helped me get moved into his class.

Absolutely every happy high school memory I have stems from finding and joining ag. Literally.

Mr. Stevens, who taught the ag. program, became, in many ways, the father I never had. I know many of us kids felt that way. He wasn't just our teacher, he was a mentor. He was the dad of the ag. family. He cared about each and every one of us. He invested his time in us. He asked questions that he wanted real answers to. He had hundreds of students in all grade levels and he knew all of their names, their interests, their stories.

I took his class all four years. Most everyone did. Once you found that group, you stayed until you were forced out by graduation. Most people came back even after that, to visit on lunch breaks or volunteer for events. No one ever really left.

Over those four years, I told Mr. Stevens I had basically adopted him and that one day, when I got married, I would have him walk me down the aisle. He told me he would be honored to do that. Thus, a promise was made. One we would repeat to each other randomly, like when I graduated and he reminded me to keep him posted. Mr. Stevens is a father to two boys, so I've kind of always thought that maybe, just maybe, this promise might mean even more to him than I realized.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep that promise the first time I got married. That's a long story in and of itself, but I think part of the reason I didn't ask him was because something told me to wait, like it wasn't the right time for some reason. So I listened. Even then, I regretted not having him there. It always bothered me, always. But I also just...couldn't. Life is weird like that sometimes for reasons you can't explain until much, much later.

The moment I knew The Fiance was The One, I also knew Mr. Stevens would be walking me down the aisle, just like we had talked about so many years ago. All my instincts told me this was what I'd been waiting for. This is why I wasn't supposed to ask before. So while I won't have my godfather, I will have my teacher, my friend, my ag. dad. I will finally be able to uphold the promise we made all those years ago.



Friday, March 17, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Lies

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Lies

You-
You're not mine.
We're not us.
It's a lie.

Me-
Can't you see?
I'm off key.
Lost my beat.

Us-
Turned to dust.
Never was.
This is just

A

Lie.
In denial.
Insincere.
Faking smiles.

Games-
That we play.
That we lose.
Make us break.

Lost-
In our hearts.
In our heads.
This is just

A

Mess.
Once the best.
Always said
'Till the end.

Plans-
Of better days,
Of better things,
Of different ways.

Hope-
Gave us wings.
Gave us dreams.
They all died-

Lies.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Mantra: I Live a Fortunate Life

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 live a fortunate life and I will not forget that
Society6
Rachel Caldwell
Recently, on more than one occasion, I've been reminded of how fortunate I am. In loved ones, in health, in work, in kindness shown to me by others. In so many big and small and in-between ways, like the text messages of songs my friend Noah and I share with each other. Or the wiener dog eraser my friend Nichole bought for me, just because. In love and in laughter and in sacrifices from others. I live a fortunate life.

Anytime I write about being grateful, I never feel like I express it sufficiently. Like nothing I could ever say would be adequate enough to express how truly thankful I am for my life, my people, my path on this journey of living.

There have been many times where I've faltered in compassion, in kindness, in patience, in trying. Times when I feel like I'm failing in living. Those are humbling, helpful moments. It is in those instances that I learn, and it's usually because shortly after I've failed, I'm shown someone else who hasn't. Someone who radiates love. Someone who sacrifices themselves for the joy of others. Someone who has kept going, kept giving, kept kindness as their anchor. When I see those people, when I am reminded by them of what I should strive to be more like, I dust myself off and start again.

I live a fortunate life because of the people in it. Because of countless individuals who have done so much for so little. Because of people I don't even know who, without even realizing it, have paved the way for me and so many others.

I live a fortunate life and I will not let myself forget that.


Friday, March 10, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Oblivion

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Oblivion

Mission failure-
Mayday!
Mayday!
Our surroundings
Fading,
Fading.
Silence screaming
Louder,
Louder.
All around us
Life has shattered.
Star explosions-
Blinding light.
Black holes dancing
In the sky.
Nothing,
Nothing,
Taking shape.
Only darkness
In this place.
Silence,
Silence,
Creeping in.
This is how our
End begins.



Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Mantra: A Dream Within A Dream

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: Nothing's ever as it seems
Heather Landis
A few weeks back I had a dream. I was kneeling over an open faced grave staring down, down, down at Ben, my friend who passed away many years ago.

The lid of the coffin had been removed and I could see his skeletal remains. I could see torn remnants of his clothes, clumps of soil and roots- everything a nightmare would look like.

But this didn't feel like a nightmare.

As I continued peering down, life - or death, I should say - started moving in reverse. Fragments of dirt started flying down past my face, slowly re-filling the dug open wound of the earth. Flesh started appearing on his bones, his clothes started reforming, and he started to become whole once again.

I continued peering down at him, but suddenly I was closer, much closer. Suddenly I was kneeling in the coffin starting at his face, watching him open his eyes. Watching him come back from the dead.

In that moment the only thing I wondered was if he would recognize me after all these longs years. And then, I knew- I knew that he did. I knew he remembered not only me, but that he had died. I could tell by the exact look on his face in that split second that he had been happy in death. He had been in a good place. And even though he had just been pulled from what I assumed was heaven and brought back to our trouble-ridden earth, I could tell he was happy to be here. His face was alight with joy.

I, too, felt this joy. My dead friend Ben was here. With me. Alive.

We were smiling, we were crying, we were hugging- we were a mess. This reunion seemed to carry on for days in my dream; a never-ending happy moment.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I also realized how much older I was. Ben had died a teenager on the brink of adulthood. I was a full fledged adult. And somehow, he seemed to know what I was thinking. A fraction of a second after I had that thought, he began to age. Just as I had seen him come back to life moments before, he was now changing, catching up to me through time lost in death. Suddenly, he was an adult.

His outfit caught my eye as well. He had been wearing a suit of sorts, but now as an adult he was dressed in a white and green plaid shirt with light colored pants. In all the time I'd known him, I had only ever seen that outfit once. The rest of the time he was in black on black on black, with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and chains either on his wallet or his wrists or his neck, making him look every bit dark and broody. Making him look the exact opposite of everything he was- one of the happiest, kindest, most polite and loving human beings I'd ever known.

I almost never dream about Ben. In total, after all of these years, this is my second dream. The first one not even a vague memory, so lackluster in all of it's pieces. This dream was everything opposite of that; full of detail and emotion and, in some senses, closure.

Ben and I never said goodbye. We never had the chance. When he died, we were still in the midst of making up from a stupid fight that I can't even remember all the details of. I assumed that's what this dream was, as I scoured every dream dictionary I could get my hands on.

Usually, I'm pretty good at this dream analysis business. For instance, I had this dream about a week before the anniversary of his death, so I assumed that was a trigger for it. I've always wondered what he would look like as an adult, and I got to see that. I always wondered if in death, somehow, he was still mad about our fight and mad at me, or if we were OK, so to speak. The outfit, I knew, was a true representation of Ben. It was the version of him he didn't let anyone see until they'd earned it. Until they'd looked past their judgement of him from the exterior and seen who he was on the inside.

From all of those angles, it seemed like I had answers. My brain sorting and working and fixing and healing.

The dream dictionaries disagreed with everything I thought. To be honest, I couldn't find anything that exactly matched my dream, so I had to go with the basics. Death, coffin, dead, etc. Every single piece of my dream that I looked up said the exact same thing: A wedding is coming, and with it, good omens.

My wedding is coming- soon. According to the all mighty dream dictionaries, only good and wonderful and happy things are headed my way. While I appreciate that my strange and unusual dream is tied to my wedding, I can't help but wonder at the the content of it all. The dream could have come to me in any form, but it came in the form of Ben. It came with closure and love and happiness and oh-so many hugs. It came with what seems like a double meaning; a solution or answers to the past, and promises for the future.

It came with what felt like a blessing.

At the tail end of my dream, I was trying to figure out how to get him to stay. I wanted to find a way to keep him here, to somehow allow him a chance at life. Ben never spoke in my dream, but he always knew what I was thinking. And somehow, I too knew the thoughts inside his head. It's like a could hear his voice in my heart.

So while I was pondering options like the secret service and how to tell his family he was alive, he was smiling at me, waiting for me to catch on. While I was wishing he could stay, he was showing me he couldn't. This had been a visit.

No dream dictionary can define that last piece. I did more searching and I stumbled across one article about a theory of how the dead communicate with the living. It said that we never get to choose when to talk to them in dreams. We can try forcing ourselves to dream about them, but it's futile. Those who have passed have to initiate the contact. And when they do, when you are in that place that feels every much as real as your waking life, it is. It is the only way they can talk to us and it is very, very real.

I will keep living where Ben cannot.

I will live a happy life, with a man I love, and my two furry babies. I will always wonder about this dream, but I will also always cherish it. If the last piece is true and this was a visit, then I look forward to a day when he may visit again. And if that day comes, I will show him my beautiful life and how well I've lived it. For him, and for me.

Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream? - Poe



Friday, March 3, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Together

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Together

Each second that passes
As our story unfolds,
Is a second that's worth
More than silver and gold.



Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Mantra: The Magic of Being an Adult

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: Adulting is hard
Society6
Anna Dorfman
Being an adult is weird.

You get to do whatever you want, like stay up late and eat ice cream for breakfast and watch an entire TV show on Netflix in one night just because you can. But being an adult means having this thing called "responsibility," which basically means paying bills and mowing the lawn and doing laundry that never, ever ends, so you don't actually get to do whatever you want like five-year-old you thought you would.

And when it comes to age, you don't necessarily feel old. You're still silly and you goof off with your friends and you really don't feel all that different from twenty-year-old you. Somehow, though, at the exact same time you feel like a dinosaur in need of a nap. Like, every damn day. You also start wondering what's up with kids these days and the awful music they listen to, because the music of your time was way, waaaaaay better. You find yourself saying this out loud to your friends, who agree with you, and suddenly you realize you've become your mom/dad- just like that.

You talk about the weather with your friends on the regular. Rain and snow and temperature become very, very, very important to you.

You read magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and Redbook and you actually enjoy them.

Your retirement could not get here soon enough because you feel like you've been working for a fazillion years. At the same time, you want your 401k to be worth a fazillion dollars, so you keep chugging along, trying to figure out what the hell a stable market fund is and why it doesn't look very stable.

You most definitely decide the value of doing things based on how much effort it will take. "I should go buy groceries, but then I'd have to get dressed and I don't really feel like putting on pants, so I think I'll pass."

At the same time that you're feeling all of these weird adult-y things, you're also enjoying life like you never have before.

You don't care about what other people think of you or how you look to them because you're finally comfortable in your own skin.

You've achieved at least some of your goals and you are immensely proud of yourself for that.

You have solid, strong, decades long friendships that bring you joy in life in ways nothing else does.

You do get to do whatever you want, to a degree, and you know it's better than living at home with your mom and dad.

Being an adult is weird, but it's also pretty damn awesome.



Friday, February 24, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: We Will Not Fall

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
We Will Not Fall

It hurts sometimes-
The truth and lies,
Of hope,
Of doubt,
When life screams out.
But you
And me,
We know we'll see-
The truth,
The way,
To brighter days.
We're strong,
We're brave,
We'll find our way.
We stand here tall-
We will not fall.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Mantra: Breaking the Law

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: Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta
Pinterest

I've been a little diabolic lately, gang. I've been breaking rules, questioning authority, getting tattoos.

It feels so damn good.

As the wedding continues to inch closer and closer, I've felt the need to tackle some "me" things, like getting several tattoos that have been on my to-do list for far too long. That probably seems weird - inking up before the wedding. Tattoos have always been like missing pieces of the Puzzle of Me. Once realized (or found, so to speak) I always feel a little more whole. A little more complete.

Outside of that, The Fiance and I have been breaking some wedding rules. We're so gangsta, you guys. So gangsta. There will not be a garter toss or a flower bouquet toss. One of my best friends is marrying us, which is a huge rule we're breaking according to my mother who believes we should and must be married by a man of the cloth. One of The Fiance's best friends, a girl (his cousin), is on his side with the guys. Oh, and my dress came in and It. Is. Beautiful. But it's not done. I'm adding some extra special surprise touches to it.

Oh, and The Fiance has seen my dress. In fact, he saw all the dresses when I was in Dress Deciding Hell.

He's my person, my best friend. He's the one I go to with everything. Of course I'd talk to him about the dress decision that was driving me crazy. He knows my mind. He knows how to help me decide when I'm stuck. He's knows me.

Let's see, what other rules are we breaking?

We're going to see each other before the wedding, and not just because of wedding pictures. We will wake up together that morning, eat breakfast together. We are our best selves together and no old and outdated wedding myths will change that.

Absolutely everything about the wedding is what feels right to us. That is the beginning and the end. While things may not be traditional, they will be awesome, fun, and very, very delicious.



Friday, February 17, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Lost

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Lost 

Lost and found- again, again.
You lose your way when thoughts rush in,
You let them take you, smother action,
Overpower sense with passion.

I've lost you in a million ways:
In thoughts, in logic, on darker days.
You're not quite there, then there you are,
It's hide and seek; it breaks my heart.

You can't see past what's in your head,
You'll repeat motions 'till you're dead.
You won't get help; you're lost in noise-
You've trapped yourself without a choice.


Monday, February 13, 2017

In the World of Wellness: Skincare Love

In the World of Wellness: Pamper your skin

You know I'm all about a good skincare process, so I had to share my two new favorites: Kypris and Jurlique. I use these in conjunction with my Hylunia products and they all work together so well, you'd think they were a set.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

This gorgeous blue bottle (of what looks like milk on the inside) is miraculous. You know how your skin can get in the winter, all dry and just blah? Nope. Not when you use this product. Since I started the antioxidant dew back in late summer, my skin has been healthy and hydrated. I might even say dewy.  It has a whopping 26 natural active ingredients in it, such as sea algae and tamanu; two ingredients that work miracles, yet are rarely seen or used in many skin care products. I use a few drops of this baby at night before my moisturizer. It's like a treat for my face every evening and I seriously look forward to putting it on. It feels...luxurious. Kind of like what the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman probably felt when she bathed in that milk bath, but less evil.

Photo Credit: kyprisbeauty.com
Jurlique Activating Water Essence

My other new favorite is this GIANT bottle of super hydrating water essence. What is water essence, you may ask? I don't know the clinical term, but I'm pretty sure it's water blessed by fairies or high elves or wizards. I user this each morning before my daytime moisturizer. As weird as this sounds, I feel like it kind of plumps the skin once you add the moisturizer in. It's allllll about the moisture, my friends. The activating water essence also has a bevy of plant extracts in it, including nettle, which is a rather impressive plant that doesn't get enough credit or use these days. Again, let's not forget about the giganticness of the bottle. This stuff is going to last me a year, minimum. You can't say that about any other skin care product, so this fact alone is a huge selling point.

Photo Credit: Jurlique.com




Friday, February 10, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: I Will Unlove You

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
I Will Unlove You

Once upon a time, they told us,
Time we had, we thought, we squandered,
Time that came too swift, too startling-
Time stole you away, my darling.

Once upon a midnight dreary,
Memories I can't see clearly,
Death came knowing, knocking, stalking-
Death destroyed our love, my darling.

Once upon a nevermore,
I bared my soul, I broke my core,
I tore my ribcage open wide-
I tried to get my heart to die.
_

I'll be seeking, I'll be searching
For a way to stop the hurting,
For a way to end the wanting-
I will unlove you, my darling.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Mantra: ...'Cause I Don't Think That They'd Understand (pt. 2)

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: "Somebody once told me the definition of hell: On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become." - Anonymous
Lostfog Co.
Society6

It's funny how it feels like the universe listens to your thoughts sometimes.

The other day on a walk with The Fiance, he brought up the topic of thoughts. He wanted to know what I'd learned from my psychology days. Specifically, he wanted to know how I felt about the power of thoughts. As my mind scrolled through all of the founding fathers of psychology, I landed on someone unexpected. I landed on Jon Kabat-Zinn, my very favorite mindfulness expert.

I explained that Kabat-Zinn's outlook on thoughts - that we get to pick and choose what thoughts we pay attention to, what thoughts we make "real" - was the most forward thinking, insightfully powerful, and life changing thing I'd ever learned. That it quite literally changed how I think.

The Fiance gave me the funniest look and then proceeded to hit play on a podcast episode by Invisibilia: The Secret History of Thoughts.

The timing of this couldn't have been better. Not only was the entire episode about essentially what I had just said (without, sadly, the mention of Jon Kabat-Zinn), it also reflected a movement with psychologists and therapists using this approach with patients. In particular, patients who are in some ways similar to my mom. People with overwhelming thoughts.

I won't ruin the episode for you, as I do hope you listen to is since it is so very, very good, but I will say this: it gave me hope. While I don't think I could ever convince my mom to seek the kind of therapy they discussed (simply because she refuses any help at all) it gave me hope for everyone else. It gave me hope that one day mental illness as a whole, and those who suffer with thoughts like this, will no longer be ashamed or embarrassed to seek out help. Rather, that they will feel empowered.

Empowered to know that they hold the key within themselves. That we all do.

Sometimes we just can't find it. Sometimes it's too dark. But there are people in the world that can help us find the key, unlock the door, step through to a better place. There are good people in this world who want to, and are, helping. They're helping the rest of us good people who simply can't see our way out.


Friday, February 3, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Caution

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Caution

He was cautious because he knew the value of his heart.

I wasn't because I knew the value of love.