Sunday, December 26, 2010

perfect storm

When I was in 5th grade, my teacher at the time had put together a fabulous unit on weather systems and hurricanes for our science class. We tracked hurricanes, made barometers, predicted damage, and also went cloud watching. We talked about what made hurricanes so intense and unique in terms of weather. When I was immersed in this science unit, I thought the coolest thing was that the eye of the storm was the calmest area inside a hurricane system. Chaos surrounded everything else but the center was completely at peace. Hmmmm. Wouldn't it be cool to have my life operate internally and externally like a hurricane? There can be chaos all around but I stand in the center calm and at peace. Now, I know that is sometimes not attainable. What I do know is that we are responsible for 90% of our storms. Procrastination, overworking, neglect of self-care strategies, lack of nutrients and water, lack of planning, lack of reflection, speed, etc., all contribute to our storms.

Well, here I am making a declaration: I am in a perfect storm right now.

I sit here on a very dark Sunday morning with the post-Christmas bliss across my face and I think about what is upcoming for me. Transition. Lots of transition. In the next two weeks, I am moving in with Charlie and Ginger and then we head to Maine for vacation with my family. Yep. Christmas was just a kickoff for the upcoming race. I want to bury my head in the beautiful down throw I got from The Man's sister yesterday and snap my fingers so everything will get done on it's own.

#1: Christmas
This year was my second time in my entire life I was not with my family for Christmas. It was my first real "Adult" Christmas. (Not an X-Rated Christmas).

The Man and I picked out a Christmas tree together, decorated it with lights and his ornaments mostly, we decorated the fireplace, I made my own gift lists and shopped on my own, sent Christmas cards and packages to the East Coast and I cooked. Yep. I embraced my inner Italian and made 9 dozen cookies, which included my Great Grandmother's brownies, and I made a batch of Italian Wedding Soup complete with homemade meatballs completely on my own.

I can say two things about all of that:
1. It was a lot of work and I wanted to give up at some points.
2. I would do it again in an instant.

#2: Moving
A year ago, I was in crisis and I moved into an apartment by myself. One of the best things I did for myself to facilitate healing, both physically and emotionally. I have worked to make a space for myself that is sacred, relaxing, and an expression of me. I have cooked yummy meals, did lots of yoga, listened to my favorite music, and have had some solo dance parties as well.

January 18th will be the end of my lease on my 1 bedroom apartment in Edmonds. Charlie and I will be moving in together in the next couple weeks before we head to the East Coast to see my parents and enjoy a much needed break. There are boxes to pack, furniture to sell, clothes to donate, etc. It is scary for sure. We are both surrendering a small bit of our independence which we both value so much. I am excited and sad, anxious and scared. My hope is that we will be our best for each other and make this move intentional and graceful.

#3: Vacation
The light at the end of the tunnel. We are heading to Maine on January 12th and we still have so much work to do in such little time. My hope is that we can give each other the support to get through the next couple weeks and get on that plane and breathe. I am so excited for him to experience my home and my family. The town where I grew up and the people who helped raise me. Then, we come back and start a life together in Seattle, getting through the winter and anticipating the spring and summer.

This "perfect storm" of sorts is teaching me more about my default operating style than any work situation ever has. I must be strict with myself in terms of taking care of #1 through sleep, rest, exercise, and down time. I know my triggers at this point and I work everyday to manage them. I am embracing the possibility of balance and grace, and Sparkle, my theme for 2011. I am happy and in love and I know that this storm will cease and I will take off my gore tex and boots and get cozy again in my new home with my amazing partner who lights me up from the inside out.

My goal is to keep you posted with "Storm Updates."

Sparkle on!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

on Sparkle

Yikes! I just realized that this is my first December post and it is going to be short and sweet...very opposite how the month of December feels at this very moment :)

So, today as I was unloading my very full car (firewood, borrowed mixer, tree stand, bags, more wood, etc.) the word Sparkle hit me like a ton of bricks. That is my word for the rest of 2010 into the Holidays and for 2011. My theme for my life is sparkle. Yep. That's right, sparkle it is and sparkle it shall be.

I am sure you are all rushing around, getting into the holiday spirit and wondering how next year should be less stressful. While you are trying to entertain, trying to get everything packed in before the year end, trying to hit the sales and save money, trying to keep your sanity, think about sparkle.

Pain Memories Blue Sparkle
Take a minute to pause in all of the commotion. Enjoy the smiles those little kids have when they walk out of seeing Santa. Wake up next to your loved one on a weekend morning and make them muffins for them before they wake up. Enjoy the beauty appears all around us this time of year. Hang your favorite ornaments. Make a phone call to a family member on the opposite side of the country. Make cookies. Stay in your pajamas. Use your fireplace. Hug more. Enjoy hot drinks. Don't beat yourself up over eating chocolate. Wear sweaters. Keep exercising. Sleep for more than 8 hours since it is hibernation time. Don't get too drunk. Don't get mad. Don't live from a to-do list. Watch movies. Buy egg nog. Wear wool socks. Be lazy on the weekend for 1 hour. Get outside with the dog. Write and meditate daily. Decorate when you feel the urge. Listen to the Christmas radio station. Say yes. Say no. Make time for you.

I am loving this holiday season so much more than last year. I think about how a year ago, I was in a completely different space, both physically, mentally, and emotionally and I have been reflecting on how thankful and grateful I am that I was so incredibly supported by my loved ones including friends and family. My hope is that I will bring grace and joy to those around me this holiday season and know that I get to choose how I create my holiday moments and my sparkle moments.

Here's to sparkle.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lessons from a Coastal Thanksgiving

A post-Happy Thanksgiving to all! I just got back into Seattle a few hours ago from 3 days of being down at the Oregon Coast. I had the privilege of spending a delightful 3 days with Charlie and his immediate & extended family. I ate so well (yes, the cleanse has been over since November 22nd, a blog post to come about that later), and got a ton of much needed R&R.

Well, all that was great and all but after picking up the dog and then getting a letter from the cell phone insurance people accusing me that I did not send my old busted blackberry back (which I did, like 25 days ago), I immediately flew off the handle for basically no reason except the anxiety of what reality brings after a vacation. I bolted out of Charlie's house, in a heated temper tantrum, slamming doors, and driving speedily up Greenwood avenue. Yikes!

I pulled into my apartment complex, my building completely dark because for some godforsaken reason, they can't fix the lighting. Arghhhhhhh! After making 4 trips back and forth, my car was empty. I dumped stuff, turned on the laptop to run some updates, changed into gym clothes, and headed to the Y. Ahhhh...sweating is exactly what the doctor ordered.  After my workout, I was centered in bliss again. I came home, started a fire, heated up some leftover vegetarian chili, and plopped down. Hmmm...what a crazy couple hours. I had to seriously take a look at myself in the mirror. What the hell just happened?

For starters, I was sad. I just left a beautiful home on the ocean, no obligations, no sense of time, no bills, no v-mails, nothing.

Secondly, I was ambushed when I came home and it was nobody's fault but my own. I get to choose how to be about everything, including travel and holiday stress. I get to choose my emotions and I get to be responsible for my boundaries and my self-care.

Being thankful for every opportunity came up a lot this week. I look back over the past year and grin ear to ear because I look around me at all that I have. I have a wonderful man in my life, a family who cares about me, a wonderful community in Seattle, a cozy apartment, good food, warmth, comfortable living amenities, and health. I am one of the luckiest women alive and I apologize to the Divine for the temper tantrum I had. I apologize to the man who just hosted me at a wonderful holiday celebration. I apologize to myself. Everything can be worked out with communication and I needed a refresher on that lesson. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Relationships: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The thing about a cleanse is that it turns your world upside down and inside out. Everything I thought I knew about food, love, and the divine washed away and my brain and soul made room for new knowledge. I am two weeks in and moving into my last week, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my personal relationships. I am not simply talking about my relationship with The Man (Charlie), but in a much broader sense, I am talking about my relationships with myself, with food, with my spiritual practice, my relationship with my emotional brain, my livelihood, and everyone in my life.

Let me start with my significant other: Charlie. First things first-the guy has been an absolute sport for the past two weeks. To no fault of his own, on the evening of October 31st, I basically told him about this impulsive cleanse I was going to start. Not gonna lie, he was a little perturbed. Of course, here I am, my young, immature, impulsive self, not thinking this decision through beyond my immediate self  and stomach. The poor guy had no chance to fight me so he just smiled (after some grumbling) and has been nothing but a stellar supporter for the past two weeks. (Note: He is always supporting me in my endeavors and I love him for that.) This is another big learning point for me in terms of being in an equal partnership. My decisions affect him just as much as they affect me and slowly, day by day, I am warming up to the concept. I am starting to slowly shed the idea that I am the only one I have to lookout for. I have another human being involved and he has a huge stake in my life and I in his.

Now, onto my new rockin' relationship with food. I am feeling more and more comfortable in my kitchen everyday. My mom is a fantastic cook. She used to teach Middle School cooking classes and I always told myself that I would never amount to to any domestic role whatsoever. Well, this has been my chance to reclaim my confidence in the kitchen and I am extremely proud of myself every time I get in there, chop, sautee, roast, blend, and juice. I look forward to making my meals now as opposed to dreading it. I am embracing this idea of food cooked with love will love your insides. As I step into the grocery store now, I am stunned by how much of our "food" is packaged, boxed, wrapped, etc. This has been eye opening in the sense that we are essentially living in a "fake" world food wise. I love my "veggie drive by" escapades where I stop into the grocery store, fill up a canvas bag with whole foods (veggies, fruits, whole grains) and am out within 15 minutes.

I got back into my vinyasa yoga practice during my cleanse and I have come to the revelation that I need to indulge in self-love and nurturing more and more. I hold my spiritual practice very close to my heart and soul for a variety of reasons but the main reason is that I just get to be with myself, my ego, all the good and shadow parts of myself, all the junk, and the divine all at once. Its very rare that I can spend that time with myself regularly so carving out the time is soooooo important. 

To make a long blog post short, the biggest thing I am getting out of this is that when we step back and get back to the fundamental parts of ourselves, back to the basics of food, rest, healing, fun, and relationships, we see that we lead some pretty sweet lives. I know I wouldn't give up a damn thing. I am so grateful for the wonderful man in my life, the love we share with each other, the food I can make that nourishes me, the job that I get to go to and make a profound difference, my family on the opposite side of the country, and my relationship with the divine.

Here's to the last week of the cleanse and stay tuned for more insights into the flow of life :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cleanse Report: Introspection, Learning Lessons, and Menu Highlights

Here I sit listening to Pandora post dinner composed of Sauteed Kale w/Garlic & Roasted Carrots and Yams. The dog is lying down, a vanilla candle is lit, and I am feeling so at peace. I am reflecting on the past couple weeks. I did it. I made it through two weeks. Wow. Just to recap, for 21 days, I am refraining from "The Big 5," including Sugar, Alcohol, Animal Products, Caffeine, and Gluten. Call it vegan, call it crazy, call it whatever you want. One thing I know for sure is that this has been one of the most powerful experiences I have had in a long time.

A few things about my personal cleanse routine...
*I have been sleeping in a lot. For my body, mind, and soul, I know that sleep is so incredibly important for me to function at my highest level. I am averaging 9-11 hours a night. The Man continues to affirm that I am the heaviest sleeper he has ever known. :)

*I have signed up at the local Vinyasa Yoga Studio and have been taking classes. This type of yoga is the yoga that saved my life way back in the day and this coming Monday, November 15th, marks the three year anniversary of my Yoga Teacher, Miya Musts' suicide. Miya, may you rest in peace.

*FEED THE CLEANSE! There are lots of ways to cleanse and detox. What I do know is that you feel way better when you feed yourself versus starving your body and mind. All it takes is a gentle shift and some upfront planning to get into this new way of eating and living.

*Notice the cravings and don't get mad at yourself. I have been doing tons of personal introspection into my relationship with food in terms of my personal emotions that surround certain experiences. I tend to live in "extremes." Extreme pleasure/happiness/good stuff or anger/anxiety/stress. When I am living in one of the extremes, I crave the burgers/pizza/carbs/sugar, etc.

Nugget of Cleansing Wisdom: Lots and lots of water. The biggest thing with a detox is drinking TONS of purified water. This helps flush you and takes care of your kidneys and liver getting rid of some of the junk. I also had lots of caffeine free herbal tea which seems to relax the nerves, especially from the sugar withdraw.

There is no one way to cleanse. Each human being has a different body, a different brain, and different chemical composition. I am drawing on my previous cleansing experiences as well as some new resources for my cleanse including:
-Kathy Freston "Quantum Wellness Cleanse"
-Adina Niemerow "Super Cleanse"

A couple things about the menu:
Below is a very small sampling of what I have been eating. I try to experiement with something new everyday. I think the biggest change for me in this cleanse has been having the confidence to try out new techniques and new foods and not being afraid to use my kitchen to its fullest potential.

When we as human beings participate in the cooking experience, especially from scratch, that positive energy is absorbed into our bodies and hearts. (At least thats what I think.) When we share a meal and we are eating whole foods without the contamination of processed junk, without arguments, without TV, we nourish our cells, our brain, and our heart.

I look forward to going full force into the last week with new menu items and exploring other cooking techniques. :)

Jen's Cleanse Menu Highlights 

Juicing & The Infamous Green Drink: I am a juicing queen! I pull out the Acme Juicerator and made green drink to last me through breakfast & lunch. Green Drink Ingredients: Carrots, Kale, Romaine, Cucumber, Apple, Dandelion Greens, Broccoli. Yep, definitely looked like something out of a stagnant pond and the comments at work about me drinking mud made me smile.

So the way my juicer works is that fiber is extracted in a basket from whatever is being juiced so the juice that comes out of the veggies & fruit has super packed nutrients. So, I juice one day and then make smoothies from the fiber adding in some natural juice, water, ice cubes, etc. The smoothies are a little more crunchy in terms of the ingredients. You can literally taste chopped up veggies. The good thing is that they keep you full and satisfied. I like them :)

Raw Salad (Romaine, Cuke, Tomato)
Israeli Chopped Salad (Cucumber, Tomato, Kalamata Olives, Salt & Pepper)
Apples, Nuts, Nut Butter
Fruit Salad

Lunch/Dinner Ideas:
Long Grain Wild Rice, Quinoa, Brown Rice
Steamed Veggies: Broccoli, Kale, Green Beans, Yams, Carrots, and more!
Soups: Mexican Lentil Stew, Tomato Soup
Black Beans, Avocados, Corn, Salsa
Herb & Tomato Risotto

To Have on Hand:
Herbal Teas (Caffeine Free)
Lemons (For water, vinagarette, hot lemon water, etc.)
Sprouted Bread (Can contain a small amount of Gluten)
Gluten Free Rice Chips & Crackers (For Munching)
Frozen Berries & Almond Milk (Yummy Smoothie)
Easily Accessible Nts, Fruits and Chopped Veggies

Eating Out During the Cleanse:
Veggie Pho Soup
Vegetarian/Vegan Thai Cuisine @ Araya's Restaurant in UDistrict
Root Table in Ballard (Asian Fusion Cuisine)
Garlic Jim's Gluten Free Spinach & Artichoke Pizza

I hope to get another post about my newfound relationship with food up here in the next couple days. :)


Friday, November 5, 2010

21 Days

On Monday, November 1st, I started a journey. I decided to do a 21 Day Detox/Cleanse. that five days have passed and here I am sitting and writing this with a bowl of soup near my desk, I smile and think to myself, "Can I really do this for another 16 days?"

Let me back up a bit. A few years ago in college, I teamed up with a few other women in my rec program in Colorado and did a 10 day fast/juice/cleanse/detox. It was an assignment for one of our experiential education classes where we had to participate in "Edgework." Edgework can be simply defined as the sociology of taking risk. Our project was to choose something that would put us "out there," pushing our own personal boundaries, growing mentally, physically, and emotionally, and create a dynamic experience that would lead us to a deep reflection. So, with that said, I became a bit hooked, not only on Edgework in general, but this "Cleanse/Detox/Juicing" thing. I bought a Juicer in college and since then, I try to do a cleanse at least once a year, if not more.

Why Do I Cleanse & Detox?
So I could go on and on and on about the research & science behind the cleansing, the pros and the cons, etc. But I wanted to take a different route on documenting this personal project, I wanted to make it personal. A real personal account of what its like to live a somewhat normal life (working, paying bills, having a cell phone, living in a city, etc.) and embark on something intense and deep.

By far, the most common asked question regarding this type of personal project is "Why?" Well, I like to cleanse for a variety of reasons:

Reason #1. It feels good inside. I can just tell that when I am cleansing/detoxing, I feel lighter, less tired, less fuzzy in the brain, etc. Sure, there is some weight loss that happens, but mostly I like to just get back to basics and turn my body into a lean, mean, green, dynamic, healthy machine! Not gonna lie, the first couple days are rough. The lack of sugar, dairy, meat, all the good stuff that I enjoy on a daily basis. They say to "lean in" and take it easy and plan, but for me, the cold turkey technique has been tried and true for me. So, with that said, let me go into more depth.

This is what happens to my innards when I cleanse: My little liver and kidneys get a much needed break from processing all kinds of junk. My digestive tract gets a break from gluten and sugar. My brain starts to stabilize on its own. My nervous system gets real again (more on that later), and my body can rest and repair more naturally than it usually does.

Reason #2: It's my version of a spiritual marathon.
I wouldn't call myself your average American nor would I call myself the world-renowned hippie of the year but what I can say about myself is that I value a strong spiritual practice. I lean on the left side politically speaking, I like farmers markets, non-profits, and sustainability. I do yoga, light incense, and chant. But on the other side of things, I like Cherry coke, cheeseburgers, fries, and twizzlers. I stay out late and drink beer in Ballard. I occasionally dance my ass off at clubs, and my favorite food would have to be pizza. I work a 40 hour week and rush around chatting on my cell phone, yelling at other drivers on I-5, and get in fights with my lover. (Just wait, I will get into how a cleanse affects a relationship).

The Cleanse gives me a break from all of that and ups the ante on being a little more mindful and aware of myself, what I am eating, and how I am "being" in my relationships and the world in general. I know that for the most part, I am on my own when I cleanse. The rest of the world is still living and I am unable to escape to a cave in India with a private guru guiding me the whole way. Everybody else is eating pizza, candy, coffee, soda, etc. For a chunk of time each year, I get to go on another track without really leaving. Its a great way for me to get the lessons of slow gratification, self-nurturing, love, and mindfulness.

Reason #3: I get to SLOW Wayyyyyy Down :)
When I cleanse, I can't push my body like I am used to doing. Naturally, the internal body starts to slow down and take a break so I try to do the same. That means not staying up super late. That means I don't push myself in the gym for 2 hours each day. That means working sustainable hours (luckily, I am an hourly employee). That means I can take baths during the week, meditate before work, etc. This rest is so important and vital in a cleanse because you are taking in no artificial stimulants and getting back to your body's original rhythms. This means 10-11 hours of sleep every night and asking for backrubs and tea :)

Reason #4: It's my chance to learn & be selfish.
I am a learning machine. I love to learn, read, experiment, try anything once. So when I cleanse, I get to try new foods, learn how to cook them, and push myself to the edge with being aware of my cravings and then move on from them. The mantra for the first couple days, "Just a craving. It will pass." When I cleanse, I am in charge of every choice. I mean, this is true in my own life but it really hits home when I am on the cleanse. I am careful of reading labels, I take my time when I eat, I can eat pretty much whenever because people feel bad for you, and I get to have that glorious feeling of being all hippy like in the natural markets.

The selfish part of the cleanse is that I get to only do things that nourish me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I notice I am more apt to say no to engagements or events, not out of spite or disrespect, but simply to restore energy and take more time for me in this glorious process. I get to journal more, do more yoga, breathe deeply, and drink lots of good herbal tea (caffeine free of course).

So, this year, this cleanse, right here and now is a way for me to look at my life under a microscope and look at what is holding me back, what needs to be eliminated, and what nourishes me, both inside and out. I plan on documenting for the rest of the cleanse, hopefully daily posts with menus. I am drawing on a bunch of different resources, including books, websites, medical journals, etc. and I am so excited to share it all with you!

So now, as I raise my glass of Green Drink, I toast to you "Happy cleansing!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love List #1

I am really working on getting my creative juices flowing. Since getting into a semi-regular writing/posting routine, I have been poking around to read other blogs and network within the blogging community. There are lots of awesome women out there writing about similar things each with their own unique style. Most, if not all, of these blogs integrate a "Love List." 

A Love List is basically a shout out to things that you love in your life. Huh. We don't really take the time to think about that a lot. We just kind of motor and race through each day, multitasking, crossing things off the list, e-mailing at warp speed, and at the end of the day we crash and do it all over again, day after day after day. I am taking on the challenge of posting a Weekly Love List with some of my favorite things and I encourage you to do the same. Check Out one of my favorite women, Kris Carr, healing goddess, spiritual guru, and motivation mama to see her blog and her love lists.

Love List: Staying Grounded In Chaos
#1. My Vision Board: This vision board is posted right above my desk at home. It reminds me to stay authentic to who I am and what my philosophy on life is about, especially when I get caught up in stress or drama. It is a constant truth but has space for new things to come in. Checkout How to Make a Vision Board for ideas and inspiration from Christine Kane.

#2. Creativity Daily: I used a Barnes & Noble Gift Card for my birthday to purchase a sketch book. I had a package of Crayola Colored Pencils and so I just started drawing and sketching. The biggest thing for me is giving myself permission to go and create with no boundaries or judgments. I have been trying to carve out time a couple days during the week to be gentle and be in touch with my inner child. One of my favorite women out there who is a great resource for getting in touch with your creative spirits is SARK.

#3. Hot Tea: I would have to say that I am probably one of a few people who live in Seattle and don't drink coffee. I am a tea person. I have multiple boxes of tea, both bags and loose leaf in my kitchen because I love it. Usually, I'll have a to go mug in the morning sans caffeine and a cup before bed. Hot tea always brings me back to the present moment. Sipping it is very relaxing and grounding and familiar. I think I might just have a cup after this fave brands: Stash, Yogi Tea, and Traditional Medicinals.

#4. Netflix & iPods: Even though I can be described as a self-proclaiming hippie chick, I am all about technology that works. Now, please don't think I run out and get the next phone or gadget the day after release because I am way too broke to do that. So, I have two items that make my life just a little better and bring a smile to my face and that is Netflix & my iPod. First of all, I love the idea of not paying for late fees or gas to get movies. Also, I love the Watch Instantly and the rating feature. Kudos to you Netflix people and iPods, there really isn't anything else to say except they literally and figuratively rock my socks off.

Patagonia Women's Tranquila Capri Leggings
#5. Patagonia Yoga Pants: Simply put, they are my "Do Everything Pants." Sleep, walk, run, clean, errands, gym, cook, yoga pants. They are soft and organic. They make me sink into my couch just right after a crazy day. Also, they remind me to breathe and stretch.

#6. Doggies: So Ginger isn't technically my dog. Her owner is my fabulous man and he shares her with me quite generously. The thing about Dogs is they are so patient and peaceful. They are accepting and non judgmental and just plain ol' awesome. Ginger makes me laugh because she is quite human. She loves doing yoga with me and she also find solace in the duvet cover. She forces us to get outside daily and is that constant love we both need in the midst of chaos. 

All of these things are somewhat small, yet keep me grounded when things get crazy. I could go on and on but I want to leave you with some room to come up with your own list. Stay tuned for next weeks Love List...I will be taking you to all my fave Soulful Seattle Spots.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Three Journeys: (Part 2 of a 3 Part Series)

A few posts back, I had just seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love," and came up with my word: Journey. Well, I embarked on writing a three part series about three journeys that have shaped me into who I am today: The Journey of Yoga, The Journey of Love, and The Journey of Blissful Livelihood. So, here I am, writing about my Journey of Love. Hahaha. Yeah right. What the hell do I know about love? Perhaps I have been avoiding this post because of how confronted I am about the whole thing. Or maybe it's because I think love is so different for every single human being and who am I to try to articulate into a blog post?

Let's start at the very beginning, which according to many, is a very good place to start. My first real boyfriend that I had was in seventh grade. It was pretty textbook. He liked me, I liked him back. Very immature. Our first kiss was at the middle school dance. He bit my lip and I bled a little. It was overwhelming on the inside. Not only was I 13 years old and going through all these massive transformations on the inside and outside, but my mom was a teacher at the school and she was informed of my playground kissing by my homeroom teacher. Yep. I was super embarrassed and mortified. Then, he broke up with me and that is when middle school started to suck. 

There were a bunch of little crushes and dating thrown in there to spice things up but I really wasn't all that into the boyfriend thing. I played basketball and was your typical geek/overachiever student. 8th grade completely sucked. That was when the division happened: popular or not popular. Lunchroom politics and hallway whispering took over everybody's life. It was a he said/she said whirlwind and I wanted no place in it. I hated going to school but told myself that high school was right around the corner. 

Fast forward to Fall 1999 and I was a freshman soccer player, loving the high school scene. I meet Freshman Boy. I fall for freshman boy. I fall hard. I get serious with freshman boy. Freshman boy and I date through Sophomore year. Now, sophomore me is dating sophomore boy and then sophomore boy breaks my heart and started to treat me not so good. 

Fast forward now to Spring of 2003, I graduate from High School and get out of dodge. (a.k.a Maine). I move to Colorado for college and meet Alaska Boy who breaks my heart. Then I fall in love with Mountain Boy who I was in total and complete love with. We climbed and skied together, cooked delicious meals together, lived together, and then I graduated and moved to Seattle for a job. Of course, neither of us wanted to make the break when I moved, so it was super undefined. It was a half long distance special with a side of sour feelings. When I move to Seattle, I meet the Office Manager of my company I am working for and we become best friends. We do everything together and he takes care of me like a best friend would: fixes my car, helps me move, we watch movies, and go eat good food.

Fast forward to June 2008. Mountain Boy moves to Seattle. We live the Seattle life in a small one bedroom.  He struggles with employment and then he gets really sick. He was hospitalized for two months and then diagnosed with chronic lyme's disease. Not good. Fast forward to December of 2009 and drama ensues. The lymes disease is so advanced, it got into his brain. He is hospitalized again and I am left alone. Mountain Boy and I break up and he moves away. I am on my own for the first time in a long time and I am scared. Ex-Office Manager/Best Friend is there for me. Fast forward to March 2010 and I am dating Ex-Office Manager/Best Friend. We are happy and in love and exploring what it means to be in a relationship with one another. 

Fast forward to September 25, 2010. Ex-Office Manager/Best Friends and I are still best friends and partners. We have been dating for six months and things are great. Things are hard, but still great. We compliment the hell out of each other and laugh until it hurts. We know that our love is a journey and we take steps everyday on that path to make it matter. We know that we are in it for the long haul and it takes a village to make love work. 
So, here I sit writing about this very boring linear journey of love. Although it sounds so linear and straight, my journey of love is a constant circle. I go around and around, drawing from each partnership I have had and take lessons and apply them to every relationship I have. What I can say for sure is that we all have the innate need to be connected and loved. We love to love and when we have love, we also have loss. The grief and the tears are just as important as the love, even though it sucks so bad and hurts on the inside. 

I asked my man this morning  the following question: "When was that moment you knew you loved me?" and he said, "When it hurt. That's when I knew I loved you." It brought tears to my eyes and I knew in that moment, I was traveling this journey with the right person. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

*~A Little Love for Your Week~*

I just love this video. It makes me smile and cry. Happy Sunday evening and I hope you have a great week.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Go Army: A Brotherly Dedication

My brother Nate was visiting me in Seattle last weekend for the first time. I had not seen him since the Holidays and it was truly a great visit. He cooked some amazing chile, we went to a Mariners game, took the train to Vancouver, and did so much more.  I smiled a lot as I looked at him all grown up and mature. He is leaving for the Army in October and the focus of the visit was spending as much time together before he leaves.

We went downtown and went inside the Army Navy Surplus store on 1st Avenue. I bought myself a grey ARMY shirt for the gym and reflected for a few minutes on how his choice has affected me. He signed his papers in May and since then I have been doing a lot of reflection and personal work. I have struggled internally with his decision and am opening not only my mind, but my heart as well as he embarks on this new endeavor, a journey that will for sure change his life.

Up until this visit with him, I thought that as the older sibling, I should be the one teaching the lessons and being the role model. Well, I really got clear on the lessons that Nate has taught me about life, living, and love and here they are.

Lesson #1: Sweat Everyday. It's Good For You
Lesson #2: It's okay to be the only person dancing. As long as you are good.
Lesson #3: Impulsiveness can be your best friend and your worst enemy.
Lesson #4: Hold your friends close. They are the next best thing to family.
Lesson #5: You can be liberal & conservative at the same time.
Lesson #6: If something isn't fun, just add food.
Lesson #7: Competition is healthy. Teamwork is healthy. Laughing is healthy.
Lesson #8: Don't take yourself too seriously.

Lesson #9: Manners are important but they are not the only thing that makes a person.
Lesson #10: Be the best sibling you can be. Oh yeah, be the best you can be at everything you do.

Nate is an amazing young man. He makes me laugh until I pee my pants. His humor and amazing thirst for life is something I hope he never loses. I love him and will miss him.

Go Army.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Three Journeys: (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

As I sit here listening to Neil Young on Pandora, I am smiling because I just got back from a date...a date with myself to see"Eat. Pray. Love." The book sits on my shelf, thoroughly read and worn and the movie was indeed a treat as well as a good dose of self-love, inspiration, laughter & tears.

As I sat there by myself surrounded by other amazing women, totally engrossed in the film, feeling tingly as Julia Roberts ate herself simple in Italy, bowed to a guru in India, and made sweet love to a Brazilian in Bali, I thought about my own personal journey and how I ended up here, in Seattle, working for a non-profit, being in love with an amazing man, and living in a community where I feel supported, loved, and intellectually challenged. In the movie, Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts is eating with a group of friends in Italy, family style of course, and they start talking about their "word." The "word" is described as the word that describes who you are, not what you do. For example, it could be love, it could be grace, it could be peace. You get the point. 

Well, on my way home, I started thinking about my "word." So many came to mind: Change, Love, Patience, Grace, Inspire, Miracles. Then, as I put my key in my door, it came to me: Journey. Journey is my word. It sounds a bit cliche, but I think it fits. It feels right. Why Journey?

Ever since I can remember, I have always been curious. Searching. Learning. Exploring. I have always craved for change and a new challenge. I remember climbing Mt. Washington when I was 10 years old with my dad and my brother and got home and told my mom I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail when I graduated high school. I would flip through outdoor magazines, dreaming of the day when I had my own car and drivers license and I could pack up a backpack and escape for days on end. Well, fast forward 16 years and here I am, still passionate about adventure. About learning. About soaking up as much knowledge as possible. 

The Three Journeys that have shaped me and continue to mold me from the inside out are The Journey of Yoga, The Journey of Love, and The Journey of Blissful Livelihood. This blog post is a three part series so keep checking in to complete The Three Journeys with me. 

Part 1: The Journey of Yoga
There have been so many transformational moments in my life around yoga. The first time I stepped on a yoga mat was when I was 16 years old and I took a yoga class with my mom at the local hospital wellness center. The teacher was so incredibly graceful. She had gray hair and her skin was tanned but smooth. Her voice put me right to sleep and I experienced my first ever savasana (corpse pose) and I never looked back. Yoga has been an integral part of my life. It was the only way I could put my type A personality on the shelf for 60 minutes and just be. I met a Vinyasa (Flow) teacher in college and studied with her for two years. I had been struggling with depression and deep seeded grief. I couldn't sleep and I felt as though my head was always under water, just covering my ears so I couldn't hear anything but I could see everything. I was an observer of life and that first yoga class moved something so deep inside me that I felt alive again. 

I remember collapsing into Pigeon Pose, a very deep hip opener. Tears filled my eyes and started to stream down my face. My heart started to beat again and life slowly pumped through my veins. In November of 2007, my teacher took her own life. I was devastated and it took me a few months for me to get back on my yoga mat again. Each time I practice, I whisper her name and dedicate a smile full of life and light to her. She saved my life and I never told her in person but I know she knows.

My yoga practice has evolved since I was 16. I pick up my mat and have more fun. It is more of a playful practice and I don't get too serious with myself. I had a teacher in a class once that said, "Two Rules of Yoga: Smile when you wobble, laugh when you fall." I have a tendency to practice on grass & pavement, on a friends carpet, or in an office. I like to share yoga with others, including my partner who giggles with me as the dog licks my face in Cobra pose. A yoga mat lives in my car and the other day, I gave it to my campers to use as a sitting mat when it was pouring buckets on us.

Yoga books line my shelves and I have a subscription to Yoga Journal, compliments of my awesome brother who gives it to me every year for the holidays. I love yoga music and feel that no class should be without it. My favorite pose is headstand and I don't get to do it everyday. Yoga is the thread that always runs through me. It is always alive, even if I don't get to the mat everyday for a Sun Salutation. I still eat cheeseburgers, I watch reality TV once in awhile, and I enjoy the occasional glass of wine. I choose to stay under the warm covers with my man instead of waking up at 3:30am to meditate. 

For me, yoga is not about being rigid. Yoga helps me to adapt and be flexible, not just physically. It is one of the few activities where I can just be with myself, raw and open, totally and completely vulnerable. It is the journey that never ends. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How We Make Love Work

Today as I was heading back to Seattle on the ferry from Bainbridge Island, I witnessed the following: I was standing with my friend who has been visiting from Maine for the weekend on the top deck looking at the Seattle City Skyline and I just happened to glance down at the bottom deck where the cars and bikes were anxiously awaiting to disembark the ferry as soon as we arrived. The skyline was beautiful as it always is as you come in from the islands and see the skyscrapers and city life awaiting you. Then I saw a middle aged couple below on the car deck hand-off their camera to a bystander and ask to get their picture taken while the ferry sped to the terminal. The wind was blowing the woman's hair and the man took her in his arms and kissed her while the bystander took the photo. The woman was smiling and I knew that under her sunglasses, her eyes were that of a puppy adoring its best friend.

In my head, I thought to myself, "Wow. That is love at work." Then I started thinking about this a little bit more. It got me thinking, "How do we make love work?"

The man and I are co-reading Dr. John Gray's book, "When Mars & Venus Collide: How Men & Women Cope Differently with Stress and its Effects on Relationships." 
I just finished the book tonight and I must admit, I learned a TON! So getting back to the question at hand, "How Do We Make Love Work?" I started delving into some deep thoughts about how we do make it work and how we also don't make it work, for both ourselves and our partners. See my "4 Revelations" below.

#1. Patience
I have turned the corner in my revelations that things don't happen overnight. Well, some things do, but most things that are important to us don't happen overnight. Also, we must be careful not to rush our partners or rush to a solution around a conflict. I know that continuing down a dangerous path of saying mean things and being a jerk and then making a quick but sarcastic apology DOESN'T work.

We must also give ourselves permission to take time for ourselves to nourish our souls and spirits. This is also true with our livelihood. If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge proponent of following your bliss and creating work that is purposeful, meaningful, and work that lights you up everyday. It takes some patience. I promise.

#2. The Little Things
After spending some quality time with Dr. John Gray, I now see the importance of the little things that we do for ourselves and our partners that add up and make a big difference. For instance, the man totally scheduled an impromptu date night at my favorite pizza joint in Seattle the other night, then after we got home, totally cleaned the inside of my windshield with window cleaner while I grabbed some stuff to go to a staff meeting. YES! A little thing that made a HUGE difference! The man is constantly going above and beyond in the little things: Oil Changes, fresh orange juice, opening the door at the grocery store, giving me $20 for gas, just being a great man.

In terms of doing things for ourselves, it can be anything. Taking a break and playing an online game of solitaire and beating the computer, buying flowers for yourself at the farmers market every Saturday (my new favorite thing to do), or breathing for five minutes a day. It is sooooo important that we make the little things a priority in this hectic, speed crazed life we are living.

#3. The Thank You
The man and I have been together for almost 6 months and we have been privileged to experience being best friends first, then lovers totally immersed in the honeymoon period, and now partners and teammates that don't always play so well together at times :) First of all, it's okay that its not perfect all the time. It never will be, but that is why it is imperative that we don't get too comfortable with the people in our lives and take them for granted. At the end of the day, the only thing we got is our people. We have to stick together because connection and compassion will get us through. Boo Yeah! Soooo, when was the last time you sent a thank you note for a gift you received? What about thanking your partner? What about thanking your boss & organization for the opportunity to work for them? GIVE THANKS...NOW!
Book Recommendation: "Living Life as a Thank You"

#4. If Your Not In Communication, Then Your Doomed
We hear it in every self-help book, every transformational seminar, every therapist, mediator, coach, etc. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. I know that personally, I expect everyone, including my man to be able to read my mind. Yep, I do know he doesn't have the superpower to do so, yet I expect it. Ha! Well, the joke is on me. I am slowly learning that if I need something, I have to speak up and that goes for every damn area in my life. Finances, job, relationship, family, spiritual development, my business, etc. I get to choose what I want and how I communicate it.
So, with all of that said, my "4 Revelations" aren't rocket science and they are not only for relationships. I started this post with the question about how we make love work. It is totally and ultimately up to us how we love our lives, every area of our lives. We have to step out on a limb, pull that someone or something into our arms when its windy, kiss it on the cheek, await to disembark and love it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thankful for My Feet: A Lesson in Self-Care

Let me first start off with the fact that this summer has been absolutely amazing. I am working in a position that allows me to follow my passion, I get to be outside 8+ hours everyday, and I have my nights and weekends off. Also, if you know me, you observe the ego trip I get from having an AMAZING Chaco Tan. (See Below)So every morning I hop out of bed, do my "Get Ready" routine, strap on my Chacos, and out the door I go with my Stainless Steel Mug filled with Herbal Tea. At night, it's pretty much the same, only in reverse. Take off the Chacos, smile at the tan lines that are getting more defined by the day, shower, and have a cup of tea before bed.

Well last night, my tootsies were not doing so hot. After a long day of being in Chacos, I strapped on my sneakers and took the Friday night Zumba Class and did some strength training. I got home, threw the Tennis Shoes aside, showered and then I sat down, then I got hungry. So I got up to make some dinner and immediately sat back down. YIKES! A shooting/stabbing/ice pick sensation shot through my right foot and I pretty much collapsed. Hmmmm...what is this all about?

Well I did some thinking as I stuck some frozen veggies right on the top of my foot and enjoyed some much deserved Netflix. Now, I will be the first to admit that my feet are quite ugly. They are not precious little Cinderella feet by any means. They have character. The toenails aren't painted all the time, I have large callouses, I recovered from a flesh eating fungus that I had been battling for like 4 years, and I like to walk outside a lot in barefeet and sandals.

I thought about how my feet have served me so well since I took my first steps 25 years ago. They have been my ultimate vehicle, getting me to places on time, getting to the top of mountains, the valleys of deserts, climbing frozen waterfalls, scrambling up sandstone, being stuck in heels for proms, semi formals, and graduations, walking the streets of Puerto Rico, bouldering in Utah, sinking in the sand on beaches in Maine, tiptoeing through the door post curfew, and also, running for miles as an athlete. I have been hard on them and they in turn have been great to me.

So, with all that said about my feet, the ultimate learning lesson is that I am getting better at managing my self-care. I am learning that the downtime is just as important as "Life in Action." I am learning to think about how much time I spend on my feet and how much time I am spending off of them. This self-care thing is relatively new to me. I have been the typical Type-A, go go go woman for so long and it is nice to see what the other side has to offer. I am learning to treat myself in small ways that bring a smile to my face and a deep breath to my lungs. Incorporating the simple pleasures has been something I am exploring as the summer progresses. My hope is that this lesson will follow me for a very long time since I am now at the point of recognizing its importance.

It is important to follow your heart and take the necessary "footsteps" to get there but be sure to remember to soak your feet once in awhile and close your eyes and think about all the wonderful places those feet have taken you. They, like yourself, deserve a break too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Marriage Doesn't Scare Me Anymore

The title of this post alone may have you wondering, "Hmmm...what the hell is she talking about?" Well, first off, don't worry. I don't have any news or anything like that but I do have a few thoughts on the topic. Let me start by saying that marriage is all around me in some form or another. Some things are merely presenting themselves as straight up commitment, especially when the going gets tough.

When I was in my early teens, I would go around and make some very big statements about marriage and kids. I was always spouting off, "I am never getting married! I never want kids! Who needs that stuff? You have to give up your life and who wants to do that?" Well, fast forward 12 years and here I am in a happily committed relationship to a man I love more than ice cream, more than the Red Sox, more than lobster. He is the light of my life and he makes my world just a better place to be in. He knows the words I can't say just right and thinks it is cute, he smiles when I take my Chacos off after a day at work and show off the progressive tan lines. He is fascinated at how much I eat. We schedule couples night in our Google Calendars and it has a "Never End" date. This is my man and lately I am starting to see that this is the man I want to spend many years with, happily and not so happily, to travel with, to swim in the ocean with, to walk the dog with, to cook with, and to laugh with.

Granted, marriage is about a lot more than traveling and laughing. It is one of the biggest rites of passage people go through. Now, let me be clear, marriage comes in all shapes and sizes, colors, and traditions. I am not talking about churches, white dresses, and huge cakes. What I am talking about is a deep, intimate, celebration and intention that two people make and declare that they will be there for each other, no matter what the case may be. It's very much like "I got your back if you got mine."

I have the privilege of witnessing some of the most amazing women I know prepare to take this next big leap in life and love and I am so incredibly happy for them. My cousin asked me to be in her wedding which is next April and she is two years my junior. I am so happy for her and her fiancĂ© and I know that their friendship has served a foundation for what will be a magical and blissful marriage.

My colleague just had a bridal shower and she is so blissfully in love, that it makes me tingle on the inside. Her deep understanding and intentionality behind her relationship with her man and her marriage got me really thinking about how I show up for my own man. Her mom made a great analogy about their relationship. She said that her daughter is like white water in a river and her soon to be son-in law is the stable rock right in the middle, does not move, does not erode, just stands stable and strong and supportive. I thought, "Wow, my hope is that all human beings find that. We all need our rock."

Marriage isn't only about people. Sometimes we are faced with a choice of whether to commit or not on whatever we are doing. It can be a spiritual practice, a writing project, a new career step, a fitness goal, a relationship with a family member. We all must commit ourselves to something and whatever it is, passion, trust, and openness must lie at the heart of that commitment.

So I leave with this: Marriage used to scare me, not in the traditional sense, but because I was scared of committing to something. I was still in the space of exploration and openness with ideas and curiosity. In my own personal growth and maturity, I am finding that commitment makes me light up from the inside because I know that when I commit from my heart, I am fired up from the core.

What lights you up and what commitment are you making in your world?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

25 Reasons Why Summer Makes Me Happy

Well Summer has officially started in Seattle. We have been enjoying amazing weather: Cooler mornings with some fog and then ending the day @ 80 degrees. I work at a Summer Camp and I get to play pretty much 75% of everyday. With that, I have rediscovered my passion for summer.

Growing up in Maine, summers were pretty much the most amazing time ever. I remember going to the beach 4-5 days a week sometimes, even if it was just to cool off because of the heat. The seafood and strawberry-rhubarb pies always did a good job of filling up my tummy. Camping with my family and grilling after doing yard work all day made it so magical. Since leaving home, I have had to make summer my own in whatever time zone I was living in. Below are my top 25 reasons why summer is so awesome for me personally. I encourage you to get your own list together and post it on your fridge because in the summer, everybody should be smiling. :)

Jen's Top 25 Reasons Why Summer Rocks

1. The way the sun feels on skin that has been bundled up under fleece and wool and Goretex all winter.
2. Chacos & Chaco Tans.
3. Summer wardrobes are way more easy to put together.
4. Putting on your sunglasses @ 8am and not taking them off until you climb into bed.
5. Reading, yoga, running, (fill in the blank) OUTSIDE!
6. Walking barefoot on the grass and sand.
7. Otter Pops.
8. Water Balloons.
9. Farmers Markets and fresh food.
10. Summer reading programs at the local library.
11. Summer Camp.
12. The smell of BBQ, Bug Spray, Sunscreen, and Campfire.
13. Road Trips
14. Simply going to see a movie because of Air Conditioning
15. Funky Beach Towels & Beach Umbrellas.
16. Sitting outside on a deck to eat.
17. Cold drinks including Slurpees after work.
18. Outdoor Concerts & Festivals.
19. Sunsets.
20. Late Nights with friends & lovers.
21. Happy Hour.
22. Dancing.
23. Getting tan.
24. Stargazing.
25. Baseball games & Crackerjacks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Nutshell Story & Girls Who Climb in Dresses

Let me start by saying that in a matter of a month and a half or so, I have not only transitioned in my career, but I have reignited a deep passion within me. As some of you know, I received my undergrad degree in Outdoor Recreation/Education with a minor in Business Administration. I attended college in Colorado in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. I lived at 8,000' elev. for 4 years and loved every minute of it. The story of how I got there is another post in itself and I will save it for later. While living in Colorado, not only did I meet amazing people that I will keep in contact with until the day I die, but my experience in Colorado opened my eyes up to the world like no other experience had done.

I moved to Seattle to work in Corporate Recreation, leading team building and team development with corporate groups from Microsoft, Boeing, AT&T, and the like. I traveled to all of these amazing and exotic places and was living the the life of a workaholic. I burned out fast and after 2.5 years with the same company, I moved on.  I was planning to move back to Colorado and circumstances changed quickly. My partner at the time who I was living with was hospitalized and we extended our lease in Seattle. I took two part time jobs: Working as an Office Manager for an Electrical Contractor and as a Front Desk Rep at my YMCA. It worked and I pieced it together. Working 6-7 days each week, stressed, frazzled, hurried, lots of unknowns. That was a year ago.

You know that feeling of being stuck in a rut? I would have to say that it is one of the worst feelings a person can have. That feeling of being trapped, of knowing that you should be contributing to the world in a much different way. I started feeling that feeling in a very strong way about 4 months ago. I started to dread going to work, longing for something else. I felt like I was struggling and surviving, not thriving like the person I know myself to be.

About a month or so ago, I took the YMCA Rock Climbing Facilitator Training to spice things up. I needed some hours to supplement my hours being cut at my Office job. Little did I know that the training would reignite my personal passion and drive of Experiential Education. A spark was lit and I had a fire under me to get back into my field. I started asking around at the YMCA if they needed help with summer camp stuff. I worked camp in the mornings, climbing on some afternoons, and Office Manager the rest of the time.

Climbing for me is a love/hate relationship. Pretty much like the rest of my life. Some days I am on my game. Others, I freak out and go into that panic zone place. One thing that I never stop loving though is the magical integration of the experiential education process, especially on indoor rock walls.

I have witnessed profound transformation on the rock wall. My latest is the girl who climbed like spider woman in her dress. Huh? Yes, she comes every Saturday and every Saturday she dresses up to come to the Y and climb. I am amazed at how she does not hold back. How she just puts on her harness (wearing bike shorts underneath the dress), clasps her helmet, and climbs. I smile as I belay her below. Huh. I used to be like that. No inhibitions. Nothing holding me back from anything. I took this lesson as a reminder to dive in, follow my bliss, enjoy every moment, and don't look back, especially on following my personal passion.

Well back to the whole career thing. One thing led to another, and I was offered an Assistant Summer Camp Director position for the rest of the summer which worked out perfectly. I am enjoying my Chaco tan and loving Popsicle Fridays, wearing shorts everyday, and smelling of sunscreen when I come home. Oh yeah, and I go to bed with a smile on my face for a job well done. Maybe I will show up to camp one day in a dress.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Don't Bite The Hook: A Lesson in Experiencing My Emotions

Since I turned 26 a couple weeks ago, I have really taken on how I deal with my own personal emotions, reactions, and responses to all that goes on in the world and all the experiences, both positive & negative, that I encounter on a daily basis. I downloaded Pema Chodron's audio book "Don't Bite The Hook: How to Free Yourself from Anger, Resentment & Regret," on my iPod and in my pockets of downtime, bus commuting, and waiting in line, I put in the earbuds and listen.
Now, if you know me, I love to read. One of the greatest things about reading (I think), is the physical holding of the book, the turning of the pages, the deep, intense stare that is generated by each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter that the author creates through this amazing art. It's like they are in the room with you but not...

Anyway, I started listening to this audio book and it is starting to inch its way through my ears, brain, and my soul. I love it. For once in my life, I am starting to understand my emotions-especially my anger which has been this dark, elephant like thing in my life that up until now, I choose not to really acknowledge or be with, but rather experience it from the reactionary stance. I am learning that anger has a lot in common with heroin, alcohol, and food. Actually, anger can easily be addictive in the sense that it can feel so good and end up so bad. What I am learning is that I can choose whether I go down that path or not. I can choose whether I feed that "hot under the collar" feeling or not. I get to choose.

Anyway, this idea of not biting the hook, going down that road of distress, can also be applied elsewhere in life. Think about the state of the world, the state of the economy, the oil spill in the Gulf, the unemployment rates, the discontent among many with life in general. We get to choose our reactions, how we get to be about something. We don't have to bite the hook of negativity, stress, gossip, depression. When we step back and notice our reactions without judgement, there is an unbelievable amount of freedom we get to experience and the best thing about it, we get to live in a place of love, not fear.

In this new study of my self, I am really noticing a huge difference in my own life and my own relationships. This is a bit magical. Perhaps you could call it a heightened level of maturity, a big step towards that "enlightenment" thing, or perhaps its just simply slowing down and being okay with what is, even if it does make me upset or irked. My hope is that I can wake up most days carrying this forward. I know that my anger is my teacher and that usually the anger is covering up a deep seeded pain for me personally. Even that pain can be a wise teacher into acknowledging my own needs and personal boundaries.

So what I leave you with is the encouragement and empowerment to discover an emotion you want to start working with. It can be anything-boredom, lust, happiness, sadness, grief. Either way, start to work with it and let it be your teacher.

One more thing: Just as easily as you can get hooked, you can get unhooked.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Quarterlife Completed, 3/4 of Life To Go...At Least

On Sunday, May 23rd, I will be turning 26. This brings up a lot for me in terms of self-reflection, love, sadness, and just plain ol' confidence & excitement for what stands in front of me.

With my past 25 years on this planet, I have done a whole heck of a lot and I have some important  people to thank. First of all, my parents who are two of the most wonderful, generous, tough, caring, and loving people I know. I am truly blessed to have them in my life, even if they are on the other coast, thousands of miles away. They are good people and I hope to be like them when I grow up.

Then there is my brother, an amazing man who graduated from college last weekend. He can take a room of boring, rigid, serious people and within 5 minutes, he can have them jumping rope, laughing, and hugging each other. I have been so lucky to have a close relationship with him throughout my entire life so far and he makes me laugh until I pee my pants so that's a good thing.

Then there are my friends & family that are dotted all over the world. There are friends in Maine, Colorado, Seattle, California, Utah, Florida, Nepal...and the list is never ending. I have been fortunate to have developed networks around the world and I am stoked to have even more in my last 75 years on the planet.

So now, here I am. Having been on the planet for 25 years, what 5 learning lessons am I taking into the next 75 years (at least)? Well for starters, my biggest life lesson so far is..wait for it...NEVER STOP LOVING! Never stop loving yourself, others, and what you do. If there isn't love present, then stop doing whatever you are doing and try something else. Yes, life gets hard. Sometimes getting out of bed is the biggest thing you will do some days, but LOVE is the root of what being human is all about and that is the #1 lesson I take with me into the rest of my life.

Lesson #2, Don't be so hard on yourself. only took about 15 years for me to finally realize this but I did. It's not worth it to go through life tiptoeing around, fearing that you will make a mistake because you will make mistakes and mistakes are fun because you have a choice in the matter in what you learn from them. I have started letting go of my "high standard" mentality and it feels like I let this huge weight go from my life. There is flexibility in how I operate now. I can leave dishes in the sink for an hour, I can fold my laundry a couple days later, I can laugh at myself. This is the gemstone of lessons.

#3 Eat Like You Mean It. If you know me personally, I love to eat. I grew up with an Italian influence and food always brought people together. I like good food and sometimes the food I like isn't the best for the body. (i.e. ice cream, hot wings, chili dogs, shake & eggs breakfast from Mae's Cafe, and pizza). But my motto about food is this: It's all about the balance and enjoyment. Don't rush yourself like the burger eating, cell phone texting, lipstick applying driver. Just eat and love it and if it makes you smile and you doctor is on your side, then its all good.

#4 If You Are Having a Bad Day, Get Outside, Be Active, & Breathe. I used to live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and used to do a lot of mountain girl stuff. Rock climbing, hiking, boating, skiing, etc. Now, I live in a different part of world: Sea level, city, long drive to escape. BUT I still love being outside. Nature has always been my "Church." A place to escape, be one with the goodness of the planet, and just let everything go. 3 years ago, I made it to Everest Base camp and got to eat apple pie on my 23rd birthday. It was a dream I had since I was little and it came true. I am so blessed to have visited so many amazing places and I look forward to making it around the world about 100 more times before I die :)

#5 It's Okay To Say "I Don't Know!" a couple of weeks ago I had a breakthrough in saying I don't know and not only did this give me immense amounts of freedom, but it also gave me courage. To have the courage to say "I don't know," opens a whole new world for whatever happens. It is an amazing teacher for being in the present moment and at 25 years old, its reassuring to know that I don't have to have it all figured out or know the EXACT job I want to have. My favorite bumper sticker comes to mind: Life is a garden. Dig It.

Well, all in all it has been a 25 year ride on the most amazing roller coaster known to woman. Stepping into my 26th year on a planet that is ever changing with new gadgets, gizmo's, learning lessons, relationships, and opportunities is truly a privilege. I am stoked and thank you for allowing these lessons to be shared.