Girls on the Gorge | An Amazing Adventure!

Last year I took a road trip with Nina to Montana, where we whitewater kayaked with Girls on the Gorge. 

My post about the trip breaks it all down, but it was a pretty amazing experience. Not only did I learn a lot about myself in just a few short days, but I got to see the beauty of Montana's rivers, and meet some truly wonderful women!

Nina and I on the river! 

Nina and I on the river! 

We were lucky enough to have Sprout Films along on this trip to film us for a video they were making to promote the Girls on the Gorge kayaking program. Here is the full video (keep an eye out for me!):

Ladies, if you have the availability to take this trip I HIGHLY recommend it. It's such an empowering experience, and an adventure I will always be thankful for!

For more information about Sprout Films, click here. 
For more information about Girls on the Gorge, click here. 

Missing You

Lately, I've been missing some of my favorite people:

From top left, clockwise: Megan (as lazy susan), Amber, Ryan, Sienna.

From top left, clockwise: Megan (as lazy susan), Amber, Ryan, Sienna.

Oh, and of course the beautiful Betsy that started what I call the Denver Friends Pacific Northwest Migration! 

You need to check out her Instagram page. Trust me. 

Although these folks are not physically in my life anymore (at least for now!), I think of them constantly, and miss them dearly. 

It's interesting looking back on the people that have come in and out of my life at different times. People that were so close to me at one point I barely know now. People that I only knew as random acquaintances years ago are now some of my dearest friends. 

I love how life is a constant ebb and flow of different connections and relationships. It's ever-growing, and ever-changing. There is comfort in the constant, but also excitement in the change. 

Friends that are far away, I just wanted to let you know: I love you, and I think of you all the time! I really truly hope to see you again very soon!

Freelance for a year!

My LinkedIn profile just alerted me to something I may have otherwise missed: I have been working freelance for just over a year as of this month!

I am a little shocked at how fast the year has gone by, and also so thrilled that I've made it this far. You might remember, I kinda jumped right into this whole career-change thing. It was scary, but also a risk I was willing to take in consideration of the new freedoms I could gain. 

I've certainly had my doubts along the way, and I am constantly learning how to manage my time. I've had my moments of feeling like every extra moment of my time is filled with work, and my moments of oh-shit-am-I-going-to-be-able-to-pay-rent-this-month. I've even tried applying for full-time office work again after being so frustrated with the instability (and lack of benefits) that comes with being self-employed. 

Then I get a steady few months of work, get back into a routine, and remember that I can do this... 

Work outside on a beautiful morning!

Work outside on a beautiful morning!

And this... 

Bike to the park on my lunch break (that I can take whenever I want)!

Bike to the park on my lunch break (that I can take whenever I want)!

And I'm SO HAPPY all over again. 

I'm sure I'll have tough months moving forward, I'm not naive about that. I'll still have doubts, and have exciting moments of success. Overall I'm just going to continue riding the wave! 

I may even find a full-time job someday that will allow me to have kind of freedom I'm looking for but also let me do work that I'm passionate about! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! 

But right now, that little tidbit of news made me really proud of myself. I truly feel like I can accomplish anything I put hard work into. I am so glad I took the chance! 

Taking a Break (Part 3)

Continued from Taking a Break (Part 2).

Part 3: 

Not once on my hike today did I think about email. 

I didn't think about Facebook. I didn't worry about whether or not someone would text me back. 

I heard thunder in the distance, but didn't think about checking the radar or my weather app. If it rained, I would just get wet. 

I didn't wish I'd brought music with me - I enjoyed the sounds of the forest, and the crunching of my own footsteps. 

When I reached the end of the hike, I didn't feel the desire to share the moment with a photo on Instagram.

I just sat. I rested my legs. I breathed in and out. I existed. And it was beautiful. 

Last night, while riding the boat home from an evening of tubing and swimming in the lake, I thought - how can I save this feeling forever? 

How could I possibly capture the child-like exhilaration of being whipped around on a raft behind the boat (in a non-stop fit of giggles), or the feeling of floating in the warm water, legs dangling below me, the glassy waves rising up to my chin and the orange sun setting in the distance? 

The feeling of the warm wind pulsing against my skin as we sped back to the dock - eyes watering beneath my glasses, tangles of wet hair whipping around my face and neck. Feeling a blissful sense of happiness and tiredness and absolute contentment. The strain in my chest of the love I feel for my friend Megan. The way the water sparkles as we skim over the top of it in the final pink of sunset. A smile spreads across my lips, even though I know I can only hold onto a few small pieces of this. I won't remember every detail, the exact temperature, or the sweet smell of the air. But I still have this moment, and it is wonderful.

It came and went, but it was there. And that's what makes me happy. 

The long drive home!

The long drive home!

My trip to Missouri was absolute bliss. There was a moment when Megan and I were sitting on her porch next to each other. We had our feet resting on the railing, while a thunderstorm was raging all around us. We were silently reading our books, when Megan turned to me and said, "I'm so glad that you're here." 

I saw all kinds of animals - herons, turtles, skunks, deer. 
I bought a candle called "Crisp Morning Air" that reminds me of the smell of the woods. 
I drank beer from a local brewery that was light and sweet and refreshing. 
I didn't worry about what time it was. 
I read a book. 
I floated in the warm water of the lake, and was reminded of how nice it is to swim in something that's not chlorinated. 
I dove off the dock.
I cooked dinner with Megan (well, let's be realistic - I cooked, Megan ate).
We watched "Slow Learners" and "Jurassic Park". 
I cross stitched. 
We kayaked and got homemade barbecue. 
I got sunburned, then really tan. 
We relaxed. 
Megan and I sat in the tree house spa and talked about our dreams for the future.
We drove around the resort in a golf cart while I yelled at the squirrels. 
We played fetch in the lake with Grace. 
We went tubing!
We watched the sunsets.
I went shopping at the "antique" store (more like a junk store, but I still loved it). 
Megan bought a dress at the Jug & Plug. 
We laughed. 

When I departed very early on a rainy and foggy Saturday morning, I reluctantly turned on my phone. It beeped continuously with all of my unread texts and voicemails. But when I began responding I realized nothing was terribly urgent. I got home and began replying to my emails and Facebook alerts, it only took me about an hour to catch up. 

I realized I can spend HOURS every week checking and re-checking for emails, posts, and messages, when in reality the internet doesn't need me there all the time. 

This was a magnificent thing to learn. I think from now on I will make a rule: No phones on vacation, unless there's an emergency. I'll also designate more time every week / weekend to shutting off everything, and just existing. 

Could you go without phone or internet for a week or weekend? 

Taking a Break (Part 2)

Continued from Taking a Break (Part 1).

Part 2:

Yesterday, we drove 3.5 hours to Tulsa, OK to take Nina to the airport. She could only take a long weekend off rather than the entire week, like me. While there, Megan and I got to spend some quality time together and get caught up. 

We discussed the constant presence of our phones, and how people so often have their faces and minds all wrapped up somewhere else rather than engaged with the person sitting across from them. 

We went to a little bakery / coffee shop called Antoinette, and decided to find a place to get a manicure and pedicure. Instead of reading reviews or looking up directions on our phones - we decided to do something uncommon these days: ASK SOMEONE FOR HELP. 

I kind of loved that little bakery. 

I kind of loved that little bakery

We had a lovely conversation with the two women running the shop, and they gave us directions to a place nearby. It was so much nicer than sticking our faces in our phones, and trying to sift through a list of reviews. We made real connections with real people, and shared a laugh together. It was so simple, yet the experience made a more positive impact on our day. 

Why do we depend on our phones when we don't need to? Why can't we just start a conversation with someone rather than automatically turning to our phones or computers for information? Sure, it's easier. But it also eliminates the opportunity to connect with another human being, and that is something our world is lacking.

It takes effort to resort back to the "old fashioned" way of doing things, and yet I've found that it's so important to do so. We have to consciously make the decision to talk to someone rather than take the easy way out, and our devices should be a back-up plan - not the ONLY plan. 

We are losing the connections we create when we start conversations with people in our communities, and it's up to us to make the decision to change that. 


Taking a Break (Part 1)

It's the tiniest twitch. 

First, it's something you think you hear. Did it buzz? Did it beep? 

Then, it's visual. Is my notification light blinking? 


When did this become a constant worry? These days, we're ALWAYS reachable on our smartphones, and have an endless amount of choices at our fingertips. 

We can read a review of any restaurant before choosing to eat there, we can change plans last-minute at the swipe of a thumb, and we can find events, friends, and activities at any moment of any day. We're constantly in contact and so is everyone else. 

So what if, for one week, I decided to shut it all off? 

I recently took a week-long vacation to Missouri to visit my bestie, Megan. It was the perfect opportunity to relax and recharge my personal batteries. 

Who needs any distractions from a view like that? 

Who needs any distractions from a view like that? 

For one week, I couldn't reach anyone and they couldn't reach me. I couldn't check my calendar, my Instagram, my texts, or anything else. Not-so-surprising news: I survived just fine! I even learned some new things about myself. 

I'm breaking this post into three parts, as I wrote journal entries about my experience in a few separate installments during the week. 

Part 1: 

I can tell I'm still adjusting. Nina and Megan are still using their cell phones, and it's difficult to resist the urge to ask who liked that picture they posted, or ask if they tagged me in the photo. Then I asked myself: "Why do I care?"

In a week, not only will I forget about that post but so will everyone else. It'll be buried under a million other posts and completely forgotten about. Everything on social media is so fleeting, and yet we spend so much unnecessary time and interaction there. 

It has already been a huge stress relief, I can tell you that much. I don't wear a watch, so normally I just use my phone to tell the time. Since it's been off, I've slept until I'm not tired anymore, eaten when I felt hungry, and poured a glass of wine when I wanted one. That has been wonderful. Living with only my instinct of time (rather than a measurement of it) has made the days seem longer and more relaxed. It's very peaceful, as the only distinct change is the rising and setting of the sun. 

Another beautiful sunset at the swim dock. 

Another beautiful sunset at the swim dock. 

I am grateful for this type of solitude. I'd forgotten about it. I only know what is happening right now, with exactly who I'm spending time with. 

Of course I catch myself wondering what others are up to. But I don't have a way to find out, so it's easy for me to let go of. 

It's funny that there was a time in my life where needing to "shut off" didn't really exist. Not just because I was young, but because there wasn't an app for that. I didn't have a cell phone for a long time, or even email for that matter. I grew up without texting or social media. It was a different world. 

But for now, this is great. I don't miss the twitch, and it's only been a couple of days. I also already have noticed that I'm beginning to dread turning my phone back on! 


A Lot Can Happen in ANOTHER Year

My big year-without-drinking was a wonderful way to take on some very important life lessons. Although it was a struggle at times I learned how to handle my emotions differently, face some of my personal fears, and learned how to embrace every moment in a new (and sober) way. 

This year has been very different. I have to motivate myself to try new and different things, rather than having a single goal in mind. It has definitely been a change from 2015. However, so far this year I have learned how to cross stitch, am re-learning how to play the piano, and next, I want to try a whole new challenge! 

One of my favorite cross-stitching projects! Pew pew pew! 

One of my favorite cross-stitching projects! Pew pew pew! 

I thought about coming up with another year-long challenge that I could write about each day, but then decided to stick to something for the next few months to see how it goes. It takes anywhere from 1-3 months to form a new habit, so trying out a new and healthy way of life for a little while (rather than an entire year) will be a great exercise for me. 

AND it'd give me something new to blog about! WIN-WIN!

Here are some of the ideas I have so far: 

  • Write in my journal every day. 
    Even if it's just a sentence. Record my thoughts, feelings, or memories every night. 
  • Limit my phone and/or social media usage.
    This could be difficult with my freelance work, but I hate that I check my phone up until the moment I go to bed, and the first moment I wake up in the morning. 
  • Wardrobe limit. 
    Take out anything I haven't worn in the past year, and put it out of sight. Minimize my wardrobe to the few things I truly wear every week. See how it changes my morning routine!
  • Eat only real foods at least two meals a day. 
    Two out of my three meals per day, I can only eat whole real foods. That means vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, nuts, etc - NO cheese, NO breads, NO processed foods (except once per day - I'm only human).
  • NO SUGAR. 
    This one scares the hell out of me, as many of my friends know that I am a sugar ADDICT. Recent discoveries I've made through documentaries, article research, and books have revealed to me how truly awful sugar is to our health. Giving up sugar would be a huge challenge for me, and also be one change that would greatly impact my current and future well being. 


Yes, I understand that most of these are self-centered goals for the betterment of my personal well being or mental state. But I hope that through my own self-improvement, others will be inspired to do the same. There are certain things in life we can control, and others we cannot. I like the idea of taking something that is within my control to change, and seeing what happens.

No, I do not believe this makes me better than you. I do not believe that choosing to make a big drastic life change is right for everyone. For some reason, it works for me. I enjoy having solid guidelines, and the challenge of putting myself through something that could be uncomfortable - but could also lead to a wonderful learning experience. For you, the steps could be smaller, or maybe even bigger and more drastic. Your goals will inevitably be different from mine. But isn't that the beauty of it? 

We all have the capacity to do great things, in our own way, at our own speed.

There are no rules, no clear right and wrong answers. Everyone's path in life is different, and we can impact the world in our own special way. I believe that the important thing is that we at least try. Take that first step and see where it leads, rather than deciding it's too difficult and never even trying.

When I'm an old lady, I don't want to look back and wonder about all of the things I didn't do. I want to look back and say: "I did it all. I lived the most that I could. I challenged myself. I gave my heart fully. And it was fucking amazing." 

Where you'll find me and Megan, 50 years from now - thinking about all the rad things we did!

Where you'll find me and Megan, 50 years from now - thinking about all the rad things we did!

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions regarding these ideas? Why would they be a challenge for you? Do you have other ideas that you think might be even better? Let me know in the comments! 



A bit of an update on me: The last few months have felt very restless. I'm sure my post "Time" has alluded to my former emotional state, but I've been really thinking about what I want out of my life and where I want to go with it. I'm not sure what the next step will be just yet, but I've been working on pulling myself up, putting on my big-girl pants, and moving forward. 

I still have some rough days, and it has been an ongoing battle. I can't thank my friends and family enough for sticking by me and providing such unwavering emotional support. The road has been pretty rocky, but the good news is that I'm finally beginning to emerge from the darkness. It's amazing how much power that kind of constant love can have. 

Since I have been starting to see the glass as half-full again and get my life back in order, I decided my first step would be to get my apartment reorganized. Sometimes the best way to get control of a situation you can't control is to take something you CAN fix, and FIX IT. I have already begun to feel a new sense of purpose by starting to get rid of the clutter. However...

...I've realized that I have accumulated a lot of crap over the years. 

In "Letting Go" I brought up my discovery of minimalism, and how I started applying it to my daily life. Even with everything I've learned, and how many material things I've been able to let go of, I have still managed to hold on to a lot of stuff. 

The hardest things for me are sentimental items. An item a friend or relative made for me. Something that reminds me of someone. I guess it's nice that these are the items I have the hardest time parting with, as they actually mean something to me. But they don't represent that person and who they are. They're just objects. They aren't my memory of that person. If I hold them in my heart, I don't need a gift or trinket to remind me of them. 

The Minimalists have a great post about letting go of sentimental items!

So I'm trying to get better about letting go of some things. Here is some of what I've learned during this process, in case you're ready to start as well: 

Start small, and with duplicates. 

Do you really need 15 serving plates if you live by yourself? Why do you have three saucepans? Do you need a drawer full of pens, or just one? How many socks are really necessary in life? 

Start asking these questions, and start small. Begin to fill a bag with items that are old, worn out, chipped, or stained. Then move on to items you have in excess. Have 15 mugs, and live with one other roommate? Choose the one you use the least, and put it in a bag. Toss in two pairs of socks. Add in a few books. You'll probably fill up that bag pretty quickly! 

Box it up, let it sit. 

If you're anxious about letting go of certain items, put them in a box, and set them aside. You don't have to donate or sell them right now. Just let them rest out of sight for a couple of weeks, for up to a month. Did you go looking for that item at any point in time? If you did, maybe you're not ready to part with it just yet. If you didn't, you probably don't need it as much as you think.

In the book Everything That Remains, they box up everything in Josh's apartment as though he's moving. For one month he can only unpack things he actually needs to use. He's shocked at how little he ends up unpacking. 

REALLY THINK, about each item you own. 

Go through your house or apartment, and look at each item you own. Ask yourself some questions: 

- Is this benefiting my life, or taking up space? 
- Why am I holding on to this? 
- Do I NEED this? 
- Do I USE this? 
- Do I have multiples of this? 
- Would my life feel less cluttered without this item? 
- Is it worth it to pack this item and unpack it in a new location? 

These are all great to ask, but the important thing is try to be as honest as possible with your answer! Let go of what you don't need. 

Now that you've minimized - STOP BUYING. 

This is the hardest part, but the most important one. What's the point of minimizing your stuff if you're just going to buy more stuff to replace it? Simplifying can help remove distractions, and help to keep focus on what truly matters. Don't go so far in learning to let go of things you don't need, only to replace those items with new things you don't need. Think of it as a lifestyle change, and embrace your new-found space and free time. 

This is a great article by Becoming Minimalist to help you with thinning out your closet, especially if you're in need for some serious spring cleaning. 

Oh, and the guys that inspired me so much with their stories? They're touring with their first documentary, appropriately and simply titled "MINIMALISM" this year. I'm so thrilled for them and their success!

35 things I've learned in 35 years

I turned 35 on Friday, and it was AWESOME. I got to spend time with some of my most favorite people on the planet, laughed a LOT, and got to celebrate in one of my favorite ways: by being as ridiculous as possible. 

Nothing says "adult" like going to a thrift store, and picking out the outfits that everyone else has to wear the rest of the night!

Nothing says "adult" like going to a thrift store, and picking out the outfits that everyone else has to wear the rest of the night!

Quality daytime fun with mom and dad on my birthday!

Quality daytime fun with mom and dad on my birthday!

Over the past few years I've been making lists of some of the best lessons I've learned in my time on earth so far. I usually try and come up with different things every year, but looking back I've realized that some of these lessons I've had to learn over again. It's a nice reminder, as sometimes it takes a couple of repeats before they actually stick. 

This year, I've compiled my list of some of my past favorites, but also included some new ones. I'm so grateful for all that I've learned, but also looking forward to the adventures ahead. 

35 Things I've Learned in 35 Years

In no particular order: 

  1. Giving blood should be something we do regularly, if we are able. It saves lives!
  2. If we focus on doing things that make us feel better (eating well, exercising, reducing stress) rather than the number on the scale, we'll be a lot better off. 
  3. It is possible to have a lot of fun without alcohol. 
  4. As a woman, I need to remember to apologize less. 
  5. It's better to be a patient driver, and get there safely. 
  6. Going an entire evening, or even an entire vacation without snapping a single photo is a wonderful thing. It's sometimes nice to just experience life rather than try to capture it. 
  7. The people we meet in our lives are there for a reason. It may not be the reason we originally thought, but they're still there to teach us something. 
  8. Never miss out on an opportunity for an impromptu dance party. 
  9. If you keep telling yourself you can't do something, make sure you aren't saying you can't simply because you won't.
  10. Find a job that you enjoy, no matter how long it takes. 
  11. Education doesn't end after school, and we should be constantly open to learning new things. 
  12. We all need to eat a lot more vegetables. 
  13. It's okay to pick a place to eat without reading a review, knowing anything about the restaurant, or checking out the menu first. Just wing it. 
  14. See the potential in things. Whether it’s a person, a situation, or an ugly piece of furniture. 
  15. Being an "adult" sucks sometimes. But now that I'm an "adult" I get to decide what that means to me. 
  16. It's okay to feel all the feels. It hurt sometimes, but it's better to feel the pain than to go through life with big walls built up around you. 
  17. Follow through on your commitments. Yes, sometimes things come up, illnesses occur, and plans have to be canceled. But don't be the person that can be depended on to flake out. 
  18. Sunscreen. Love it, wear it, make it your friend!
  19. Drinking shots usually causes regretful decisions, feeling like crap, and treating others poorly. Just say NO. 
  20. Forgiveness is powerful. Holding a grudge only hurts yourself. 
  21. Loosing your job, wrecking your car, getting dumped - they all have a silver lining. See life's disappointments as a jumping off point to something a little more awesome. 
  22. It doesn't matter what you do, it's who you're with that matters. 
  23. Selfies should be taken as frequently as fast food meals. In moderation!
  24. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does help with experiencing certain aspects of life. I want to spend money on making those experiences happen, not on material possessions. However, I don't want lack of money to hold me back from saying "yes" to experiencing things in my life. 
  25. Every now and then, with no guilt, order dessert. Enjoy the heck out of it. 
  26. Don't be afraid to be silly.
  27. Take time to reflect on the memories you had with those who have passed on. 
  28. Sometimes you make big plans that just don’t workout. Have a good cry, let it go, and move on. 
  29. Just because you're having a rough day, it doesn't mean you have to make it rough for everyone else. 
  30. Practice kindness constantly. 
  31. When you're laughing with friends, savoring that piece of pie, reaching the end of a difficult hike, or celebrating your team's win, take a moment and acknowledge that feeling of happiness. Tuck it inside your heart for when you're feeling blue. 
  32. The best friends are the ones that understand before you even start explaining how you feel.
  33. It’s okay to be frustrated with yourself. Just remember to forgive yourself after that.
  34. Tell the people you love that you love them. Your friends, your family, your boyfriend or girlfriend.  If you can say you “love” your iPhone, you can say you love actual real people. It’s what truly matters, and it’s a wonderful thing to share.  Don’t ever be afraid of that. 
  35. No matter what I’ve been through, or how much time it takes, I know that an amazing love is out there for me. And it'll come when it's supposed to. 

And there it is! 

I've learned so much more than just those 35 things, but those are some big ones. I am constantly working towards making positive changes, and appreciate all of the wonderfully supportive friends and all of my family that have helped me along the way. There is an endless number of possibilities in this beautiful life. 

What have you learned this year? 


Lately I've been thinking about time, and how I decide to use it / spend it / waste it / make the most of it.

Time is something we tend to both cherish and take for granted. People spend time in the office to make money for their children that they never get to spend time with. People spend hours at home online trying to find love, then cancel plans because they don't want to make the time in real life to actually leave the house to go out on dates. 

Time moves slowly when we're unhappy, it moves so quickly when we're happy. It moves slowly when we're bored, it moves quickly when we're busy. We're constantly trying to freeze, capture, and preserve it - and yet not enjoying time in the moment we have it. 

Snow day - a winter walk to nowhere. From Instagram.

Snow day - a winter walk to nowhere. From Instagram.

I'm turning 35 next week, which has definitely been a reason for these thoughts. Sometimes I forget how quickly time is passing until my next birthday approaches. I'll see a post about a friend's baby who's now walking (wasn't that kid just born!?), or I have a memory about that last apartment I lived in (was that really 4 years ago?), and realize how much the swift passing of time surprises me.  

My freelance work is constantly fluctuating, and when I find myself with unscheduled free-time on my hands I am unsure what to do with myself. Sure, there are plenty of things I could or should be doing, and plenty of things I want to do but shouldn't be doing. Sometimes I just dwell on the unknown and feel upset with how little I'm contributing to the world, then put in another movie or read another chapter in my book club book. 

I should embrace this open schedule while it's here, because there will inevitably come a time where I don't have it anymore. When I'm so crazed and distracted and busy that finding the time to slow down and crack open a book or write a blog post seems like a blissful vacation. 

I feel that with such little time on this earth, I should be spending every moment creating / growing / learning / loving. If I'm not doing any number of those things, I feel guilty. I'm failing myself in some way. I crawl into bed, unsure of what I truly accomplished that day besides getting groceries, or finally washing all of my dishes. I lay awake thinking: REALLY, Beth? That's the best you could do? 

Now, there's nothing wrong with relaxing, having some time to myself, or just sitting and comfortably enjoying some peace. I'm sure that our ancestors did it a lot more than we do now, especially in a world of constant stress and distractions. But when thinking about time, and how quickly it passes - it makes me pause to think about what I'm doing with mine. 

A lazy morning breakfast, with cartoons. From Instagram.

A lazy morning breakfast, with cartoons. From Instagram.

I remember thinking that taking a year off from booze would be the longest year of my life. But nope - it's already over! And now that I've realized how much of a blip a year is in my existence, I want to see what else I can do with another year. What's next? How else can I change my life? What else can I do to create / grow / learn / love?? 

And the cycle begins again.

We've all felt that anxiety. That thought that we're not doing enough. That we haven't accomplished enough in a day, week, month. We get such high expectations for what we think we're supposed to do with our time and our lives, because we believe that others are accomplishing so much more! But what about just being? What about existing, breathing in the air, sleeping in, laying on your back and watching the clouds pass, and simply enjoying solitude? Those things enrich our lives too. 

Yes, we should embrace the time we have and use it as much as we possibly can. However, part of that is just enjoying that we're here. That we have a chance to live, exist, love, learn, create - in whatever time frame that may be. I may feel the need to do ALL THE THINGS and do them RIGHT NOW, but stressing out about that doesn't accomplish anything. 

This post was my way of figuring out what to do with my time, and I think I spent it wisely. I'm feeling better already. 

Facing Fears

For Book Club this month we're reading "My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir" by Noelle Hancock. It's about a girl who was laid off from her job, and realized that she needed to make some big changes. Inspired by something Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "Do one thing that scares you every day", she went on a year-long quest to do just that. She decided that for one year, she'd do something she feared each day. 

This may sound like quite an endeavor, but I guess I kinda did something similar myself! There's definitely value that can be found in making these kinds of decisions each day. The trick is identifying when (and why) you're holding back, then actually make the choice to move forward and actually do it. 

Last year, I did quite a few things that scared the crap out of me. Remember when I had to overcome my fear of drowning while on a whitewater kayaking trip? Definitely one of the highlights! Another was understanding how to deal with the daily struggles of life without booze (a repeat battle throughout the year). Oh yeah, and I dove right in to starting my own freelance career!

While reading this book, I started thinking about all of the times I've decided to take a risk. Those moments have always lead to something memorable happening. It may have been something positive, or it may have led me to a lesson that I needed to learn - but either way, there have consistently been interesting results.

My little sister reminded me the other day of when in September 2012 that we (along with our awesomely brave friend Megan) shaved our heads to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation

Getting all that hair shaved right off! On stage! With a band! 

Getting all that hair shaved right off! On stage! With a band! 

I love this photo of Taryn and me a little too much. (Before + After)

I love this photo of Taryn and me a little too much. (Before + After)

The scary part wasn't going up on stage, or even the act of getting all of my hair shaved off in front of a bunch of strangers in a bar. The scary part was dealing with all the thoughts swimming in my head: Would I still feel beautiful without my hair? Would people judge me? Would I still be able to walk around without hair with confidence? What will people think? 

I feel that I have a lot of confidence in myself. I love who I am, but it took me a long time to get here. I still struggle at times (I'm human!), but this scary little choice definitely shook me though. So I found a way to get the power back. I had my friend Dave Wood take some glamour shots to remind me of everything I may have forgotten. 

Yep, that's me! No frills, no hair, no problem. 

Yep, that's me! No frills, no hair, no problem. 

Seeing the images from that photo shoot helped me remember that I AM beautiful, and I don't need hair to prove it. 

I learned SO MUCH about myself by making this decision. I learned what it's like to let go of that aspect of beauty, and truly embrace the face and body I was given. I learned how awesome it is to have 15 extra minutes in the morning that's not spent on hair styling. I learned how knit hats can stick on like Velcro. I learned that hair really isn't that big of a deal - and it always grows back. 

In New York City, a few months after the head-shaving. The hair was growing back!

In New York City, a few months after the head-shaving. The hair was growing back!

Maybe it's a good metaphor for life: No matter how much we are hurt, or how much damage has been done, or how much hair has been cut off - time will always march forward. Scar tissue forms over the wounds. People make us laugh again. Things do grow back. 

This is one of my favorite quotes that Noelle Hancock used in My Life with Eleanor. It's a bit dramatic for the head shaving business, but it's more about overcoming our fears, and I like it very much:

The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before....You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
— Eleanor Roosevelt

So my advice to you is to go forth, and take those risks! Do things that scare you. Learn all that you can in the little time we have on this earth. Talk to that boy you think is cute, sign up for that kickboxing class, go back to school, quit your job, go skydiving, kayaking, rollerskating.

HAVE FUN, scare yourself a little, and make stories to tell!

A New Year | Remembering

Well, I'm 2-weeks into the New Year (2016), and yep, I've been drinking again! 

No, I haven't thrown everything I learned last year out the window! But I have been enjoying some of my old favorite alcoholic beverages. I've found that I've been able to be a little more responsible when drinking - well, as much as you can be when you're inebriated. I usually stop before I have too many, I'm always sure to drink a lot of water throughout the night, and I have been very adamant about saying NO to shots. Always, always, say "no" to shots. 

A nice new part about coming back to booze is that I don't feel the desire to drink as often as I used to. I can come home and not even think about having alcohol, even though I could if I wanted to. I don't NEED it in order to wind down at the end of the day, and I so far I don't feel that craving. Even though I've started it up again, I've still been able to maintain that feeling of freedom. 

On another note, here's something I've been thinking about lately: 

How we remember things.

My friend Sienna and I were driving home from work today, and we started talking about memories. We discussed how interesting it is that we don't just remember a situation or person - we can recall smells, feelings, tastes, and so much more. There is such depth that our brains can retain from the experiences we've had in our lives. 

I was thinking about my Grandma Ann that passed away a couple of years ago. I remember the most random things about spending time with her as a child. The ugly shag carpet in her home that was spotted beige, brown, and orange - and the way that it always had a musty-sweet smell. The old records we'd dance around to in her living room. Her making us grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread with Velveeta cheese and tons of butter. Warm summer nights catching lightning bugs in her backyard. Sitting on her back porch with a bowl full of green beans in each of our laps, and snapping off the ends. Playing with an old wooden rocking horse in her basement because there was nothing else to play with. Being frightened of the spider webs that were in her sewing room. The way that she would laugh, even if she didn't get the joke. Those strange mincemeat pies she'd make at Christmastime. How she always smelled like baby powder, which she put on every morning after her shower. Her letting us wear all of her jewelry, including her clip-on earrings (she'd never had her ears pierced). How soft she was when she hugged us and rocked us in her lap when we cried. 

Not the best photo, but one of my favorite memories. We took her to Pawley's Island in South Carolina! Me, grandma, and my mom.

Not the best photo, but one of my favorite memories. We took her to Pawley's Island in South Carolina! Me, grandma, and my mom.

We all collect these little moments in our heads, and it takes opening the door to really remember them again. We store away so much, as it's not necessary in our daily lives to access that information every day. Therefore I think it's important to sit down and wander around in those rooms where we store these kinds of memories. Remembering the people that we loved in our lives is a way that they can live on forever. 

So today, my first post of 2016, is for my Grandma Ann. I'm sure she's giggling in heaven right now, especially now that she finally gets all the jokes. 

My Favorite New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year

With 2015 reaching a close, I'm thinking about the New Year's Resolutions I'd like to make for 2016. With a new year comes new possibilities, and I'm looking forward to what the future will bring!

I've heard some negativity from people about making resolutions, and I'd like to address a few arguments here: 

Resolutions are pointless because they never stick.

Think of resolutions as goals to accomplish in the upcoming year. Why do we struggle to keep them? Part of it is because we often make very broad statements, such as "I'm going to go to the gym more" or "I'm going to lose weight" or "I'm going to spend less time watching TV". These are all great ideas, but they're not very specific. If you don't define how much more or less you want to do something, how can you possibly know if you're reaching that goal? 

Instead of setting big idealistic goals, get specific. If you want to go to the gym more, resolve to add 5 hours per week to your schedule devoted to that. It's specific, but it still allows you to be flexible and go when you can. Want to watch less TV? Decide to only spend X amount of hours watching your favorite shows each week, and think of other things you can resolve to do with your new found time. 

If we want to accomplish something, we should work towards something every day rather than making resolutions at the end of the year. 

This is a lovely idea, but do you stop each day and think about the goals you'd like to reach? I certainly don't! The end of the year gives us the opportunity to think back on our past accomplishments, and look ahead to the future. It's a solid marker for the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, which makes it an excellent time to reflect and set new goals.

No, it doesn't have to be on New Year's - it can be at any time during any year. But I do think it's important to take time out of our lives to contemplate these things, and make some changes where they're needed. 

Resolutions are unrealistic, and usually unattainable. 

Why are resolutions unrealistic? Is it because people decide on resolutions that are too difficult to attain, or because we don't have the will to tackle them? The first step is setting specific, measurable goals. The next step is making sure you're willing to put in the work to achieve them. 

For example: You want to get a promotion at work, but you also want to travel more. These are contradicting goals, as getting that promotion may mean putting in more time in the office - but travel will take you out of it. What goals are more important to you right now, and what are you willing to put in the effort to change? 

Even if you're great at keeping a resolution in the beginning, 6-months in, you've forgotten all about it. 

Hold yourself accountable! Tell friends and family about your resolution, and ask them to help keep you on track. Start a blog about it and share your thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Maybe even set a calendar reminder at the 6-month mark. If you want to make that resolution happen, it will take work! But having support from others and holding yourself accountable will help you stay motivated to keep going. 

I'll just be disappointed in myself if I don't keep my resolutions. 

First of all, don't EVER think of resolutions this way - you're setting yourself up for failure! If you've had trouble keeping resolutions in the past, just set one simple goal. That's it, just one. See how you do. 

Secondly, be forgiving of yourself. Resolutions, even simple ones, sometimes just don't happen. Don't beat yourself up about it. Reassess, and move forward. 

Thirdly, give it some time. It's not easy to create new habits, and you'll most likely slip up along the way. We all do! Just keep coming back to it, and remember why you made the resolution in the first place. It'll take time, but it'll be worth it. 

Photo by: Wes Butler

Photo by: Wes Butler

Here are some of my favorite New Year's Resolution ideas for the year 2016*: 

*these are not specific goals (an important part of making resolutions that I mentioned above). I kept them slightly more vague so that they could be a jumping-off point for your own ideas, and what you personally want to accomplish!

Stop drinking booze for a year! 

Well, duh. But seriously, it's been one of the best resolutions I've ever made. You don't have to do a full year, but a couple of weeks, a month, 3 months - any amount of time can make a huge difference in your life. I promise. 

Limit your phone usage time. 

Silence your phone 1-hour before bedtime. Put your phone away at dinner or when hanging out with friends. Limit the amount of time you spend playing around on apps. Resolving to do any number of these can be a valuable way to get back quality time with the things that truly matter. 

Decide to stop spending so much money on stuff you don't need. 

One person that inspires me every day is Anna from And Then We Saved. I highly encourage you to read her story! She decided to stop spending money on everything that was a non-essential for her, and paid off almost $24k of debt in 15 months. She learned a lot about herself, and about what she really needed in life in the process. 

I've mentioned these guys before, but The Minimalists are amazingly inspirational. They stopped spending money on stuff, and started seeing the world in a more simple, and more honest way. Their stories have made a huge impact on me.

Bike and walk more. 

We are WAY too dependent on our cars to get around. We sit in an office chair all day long, sit in our car to drive home, then sit on the couch to watch TV. Many, many studies have shown that our bodies do not respond well to being sedentary. 

If you're within 1 mile or so, allow a little extra time to get to your destination and walk it! Put in your headphones and listen to your favorite podcast along the way. If you're within 5 miles, hop on your bike! If you're new to biking, many cities offer bike safety classes for free (Denver has an amazing non-profit called The Bike Depot), and you can often find an inexpensive gently used cycle on Craigslist. You'll save money on gas, and get in more movement every day. It's a win-win!

Work towards doing something you've always wanted to do, but never have. 

Everyone has one of these, maybe even a few. Have you always wanted to try improv comedy? Learn how to cook? Learn how to speak Spanish? Dance the tango? Paint a sunset? Play the piano? There's no better time than now. And when you're on your death bed, you'll never have to think: "Dang, I wish I would have done that thing I always wanted to do."

I've emphasized this before, but just start with a small step. It'll get you going in the right direction. 

Learn to love yourself. 

This is a difficult one, but I believe very important. Working towards accepting and loving yourself for who you are - no matter what size you are, issues you have, or mistakes you've made - is a beautiful and honorable goal. 

Build better relationships. 

In whatever way this means to you. Whether it's through rebuilding your relationship with your parents or a sibling, or giving a friend your undivided attention when they need it  - it's wonderful to strengthen the ties between the people that you care about. 

Maybe even decide to be better about telling the people you love that you love them. Show them through your actions, and live it every day. You never know when they won't be with you anymore. 

Make your kindness constant. 

Whether it's spending time helping your community, or simply giving food to someone who needs it - it doesn't matter how big or how small. Be kind to people who serve you, and ring you up at the register. Smile. Let that car merge ahead of you in traffic. Be patient. Offer a hand even if you're not sure if someone needs it. Open a door for someone. When a friend is upset, offer a hug. Donate to a friend's cause - or a stranger's cause for that matter. Don't overthink it, just make kindness a priority in whatever way you can. 

What are your resolutions for 2016? Leave them in the comments below! 

Have a very happy holidays and a safe and exciting New Year! 

11 MONTHS DOWN - 1 month to go! HOLY CRAP.

Whoa, guys. Whoa. 

2015 is almost over. This just blows my mind, even without the whole not-drinking-alcohol-thing. This epic and beautiful year has nearly concluded! I'm sure that 2015 brought about some important changes for everyone. Whether we created the change or allowed it to happen, this year has helped develop something different within each of us. I think it's important to reflect on our lives from time to time and to evaluate where we are, and how far we've come. For me, the end of the year is a nice solid marker. I like the idea of rebirth, and the chance to start again. To make resolutions and changes, even if they're just wishful thinking. 

November was a month of readjusting to daily life from vacations, taking on some new work, meeting new people, dating, gettin' in some family time (over Thanksgiving), and learning - always, always learning. 

Clockwise: Enjoying coffee in Portland, working from home, enjoying the change in weather, gearing up my bike for winter riding, and finishing a Book Club book.

Clockwise: Enjoying coffee in Portland, working from home, enjoying the change in weather, gearing up my bike for winter riding, and finishing a Book Club book.

Things I've learned this month: 

This was a small step, but I have many other habits I need to work on. 

Drinking was a habit I needed to get control over again. I figured out a way to handle what life throws my way without booze, and that feels really great. But realizing that I've been able to get a handle on that one thing magnifies the other things I struggle with. 

I still get in my head about stuff, emotionally speaking. I still haven't figured out a way to have music in my life regularly - whether singing in a band or a choir, just on my own, or by learning piano again. 

I need to be forgiving of myself though, and I understand that. I'm not perfect, and I never will be. That's another thing I need to work on: being okay with making mistakes (to learn from them), or being okay if it's not quite time yet. I dove into this a little more in this previous post

I can't just cut out the emotional stuff, relationships, or my desires and dreams. It works fine for something like alcohol, but I can't just remove those things from my life to better understand them. I have to work through them as they come, which at times can feel more difficult. 

I'm gaining confidence in my ability to handle alcohol next year. 

As mentioned in last month's post, I've been a little nervous about starting up with the booze again. But I've been gaining confidence over the past month, and I feel more ready. 

I know that I can go out and not need a drink. I know that I can go to a bar with my friends all night without any alcohol and have an awesome time. I can be myself without alcohol giving me false-confidence. I can even deal with a horrible shitty day without it. I've proved it over and over to myself this year. 

I'm beginning feel more certain that I'll be able to handle it. And that's very comforting!

I wish that everyone would decide to make this kind of change, just to see what it can do.

It doesn't have to be cutting out something, it could be adding. Deciding that every day for an entire year, you'll exercise - even if it's just a 30 minute walk, or playing catch with the kids. Deciding to work every day on learning a new language, bettering your neighborhood, or playing an instrument. Making the choice to be more honest in your relationships, and practicing it every day. Learning how to garden, or how to reduce your carbon footprint. 

All change is hard at first. It's not something that comes easily. We struggle with it, we curse the wrench that's been thrown in the machine, and we long for the comfort in routine and regularity. We are angry when we realize we have a food allergy and have to change our diets. We are frustrated when our car gets wrecked and we have to figure out other ways to get around. But eventually we grow, and start creating new habits and routines. And then, when we're finally getting comfortable, the rug gets ripped out from under us all over again.

That is life, I guess: a constant ever-changing clusterfuck in which we have to savor every happy moment when they come. When something is going well in one area of our lives, it seems that another thing ends up going catastrophically bad. It's important be grateful for the good stuff when it's happening. The unexpected will always occur, and I can either decide to be destroyed by what gets thrown at me, or figure out a way to use it to my benefit. As an eternal optimist, even at my very darkest, I'll choose the latter. 


Money saved in 11 months: Approximately $2,625.00

How I feel: Prepared. Melancholy. Wistful. Nervous. Realistic. Healthy.

Giving Thanks

I feel so lucky to have all that I have, and to live this beautiful life. Even with all the craziness at times, there is so much beauty in every day that sometimes I think I might burst. To put it simply, this life's pretty darn awesome. 

There are so many things that I'm grateful for, and this barely scrapes the surface. Nevertheless, here's my fun little list of things that I'm giving thanks for today:

- My parents, George and Kate.
- My sisters, Amber and Taryn. 
- My friends, and extended family.
- Bicycles. 
- Helmets. 
- Long and revealing conversations. 
- Those moments we can set aside our phones and enjoy each other's company.
- Sympathy. 
- Dance parties. 
- My wonderful, silly, fantastic co-workers.
- Lazy mornings. 
- Really delicious coffee. 
- Gravy.
- Sweet lingering kisses. 
- Warm blankets. 
- When a song hits me at the very time I need to hear those words. 
- The moment I finish reading an amazing book. 
- Supplements. 
- When a hug says it all. 
- Large hot water heaters. 
- Helpful neighbors. 
- Coconut oil. 
- Snow boots.
- Thoughtful gestures. 
- People who really listen. 
- People embracing (and sharing) their talents. 
- People who can put aside their own pain to help another. 
- Days off. 
- Shared meals. 
- Puppies. 
- Shoes I can stand in for hours that don't hurt my feet.
- Police officers, firemen and women, emergency room doctors, nurses, and anyone else working their butt off during the holidays. 
- Cookies. ALL THE COOKIES. 
- Home.
- All of my friend's beautiful little babies that were born this year. 
- Spotify.
- Laughter that makes me forget anything bad ever happened.
- Romance.
- Moisturizer. 
- Hope. 
- Movie nights. 
- Perfect comedic timing. 
- Brakes. 
- Zero degree sleeping bags. 
- Park naps on warm summer days. 

There's so much more that I could put on this list, but for right now that'll do just fine! I'm thankful every day that I have so many wonderful people (like you) in my life. Yes, there are terrible, awful things that happen in this world - but today, let's focus on the good stuff. 

Wishing you and your families all a wonderful and beautiful Thanksgiving! 

No car? No problem!

As some of you already know, towards the end of last year, my Hyundai Santa Fe was rear-ended by a distracted driver and totaled. With the money I got for the car, I purchased a Volkswagon GTI that I absolutely loved. Even after all the repairs and quirks, I loved driving that little car. 

But alas, this world of distracted drivers screwed me all over again! 

Last month, a driver pulled out the wrong way down a one-way street and hit my GTI head-on. We were both totally fine, but yet again, my car was totaled. 

Therefore, in an effort to continue to live more minimally, and to see what it's like to go without things in order to better understand what I truly need, I've decided to go without a car!

Yes, I know winter is almost upon us. Colorado winters, although with more sunshine than the Ohio winters of my youth, can still be pretty brutal. I didn't say it would be easy. But as I learned when I went without a coffeemaker, and then Netflix, it could be something that will benefit me in unexpected ways. 

I also used some of the money I got from my car to buy this: 


It's a Yuba Cargo Bike, and it can carry up to 400 POUNDS on the back. I doubt I'll be riding around with a small rhinoceros anytime soon, but it's good to know what this super bike is capable of. The wheels are thicker and better with water and slush than my road bike, I'll be riding more upright which is more comfortable when wearing a winter coat, and it's SUCH A PRETTY COLOR RED! Apparently, this is considered the SUV of the bike world, so it should be able to handle the weather pretty well. Now I'm wondering if I will be able to do the same!

Usually the moment I see snow falling, I retire my bike for the winter. Now, I'll have no choice but to bundle up and start pedaling. Well, I could also walk, take the bus, an Uber, or a Car 2 Go. I'm certainly not without my options. The question is this: Do I really NEED my own car? 

Sure it gave me freedom, and the ability to get anywhere at anytime. I'll miss those things. This will definitely be a challenge for me, and I'm sure will be frustrating at times, especially at first. Even just getting down to my parent's house for a visit (with a car, a short 40-minute drive away) will not be easy.  

But do you know what else was difficult and frustrating at first? Not drinking alcohol for a year. And look how much I've learned! 

So goodbye, car! Winter - BRING IT ON. 

10 months down, 2 more left!

I feel like I've been saying this a lot lately, but October just FLEW by for me. With all the traveling (to Santa Fe, then to Portland with Amber), lots of busy busy work, and Halloween - I can't believe that November and the holidays are almost upon us! 

Our trip to Santa Fe was amazing - it was wonderful to have so many friends in one huge house. We got 15 people together to make the 6+ hour drive, and it was an absolute blast. We biked around town, shared some delicious meals, soaked in the hot tub, had a dance party, and I even got to see the huge Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (one of the coolest parts of the trip). 

Me at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! The excitement is real, folks!!

Me at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! The excitement is real, folks!!

My friend Lauren and I drove back together, and decided to take the scenic route home for prettier views of the mountains. It was worth it. There was one point in the drive that I took over, and Lauren napped a bit in the passenger seat. 

It was a long stretch of straight highway, flanked by a desert landscape and beautiful rolling mountains on both sides. I accidentally startled Lauren awake when I had Adele playing on my iPod (she can surprise you with those high notes), so I changed to some old-school Ben Folds. I forgot how much I enjoy his piano-playing-awesomeness! I had a good amount of time to just zone out, and think about stuff. 

That's a big wide stretch of road, folks.

That's a big wide stretch of road, folks.

I thought about a lot of things. I thought about who I am now, and who I was before. I saw different versions of myself, all lined up like pages in a flip-book. My different styles and haircuts. Friend groups, apartments, hobbies - my interests, boyfriends, loves, frustrations, and tears. I even thought I glimpsed my future at one point, but it was gone in an instant. 

By the time Lauren woke up, I hadn't figured anything out. I didn't come to some grand conclusion or understanding about my life or where I am now. But I felt good. I felt happy. I'm certainly not where I thought I'd be, but that's not important. What's important is that I'm happy. Right here, right now. 

Then Lauren asked me a beautiful question: "What are you looking forward to this week?"

And I realized: I'm looking forward to a lot of things. In that moment, I felt very grateful.

Things I've learned this month: 

I'm a little nervous about starting up with the booze again.

I would hope that throughout this whole thing that I've learned to control my drinking habits, but I'll only truly know when I start it all up again. And that makes me nervous. 

It's not that I don't trust myself to have willpower - clearly I have that! But as I've found with this little experiment, it's much easier for me to abstain from something entirely rather than do it in moderation. I struggle with that, and it always seems to be a slippery slope. 

So yes, I'm a little nervous about drinking again. I don't want to overdo it, and I don't want to end up where I was before - NEEDING that drink when I got home from work, or overindulging almost every weekend. 

I've voiced this concern to some friends already, and so far they have a lot more faith in me than I have in myself. I guess I'll just have to trust that they're right! 

Drunk people - UGH!

I've mentioned this in previous posts, but being out at the bars when everyone else is completely hammered can be truly difficult when you're sober. It seems that the only people that want to talk to me are the people that have already been drinking for a long, long time. Although I never seemed to mind when I was a little schnockered myself, it's extra annoying right now to have someone unable to form cohesive sentences trying to start a conversation with me. Ugh. 

My choices are impacting others. 

I think it's SO COOL to hear that people are inspired by what I've done this year. It means so much to me! Hearing someone say that they've made a change because of something I wrote about, or that they're inspired to drink less, or interested in taking a break from alcohol themselves - that thrills me through and through. 

The fact that a choice that I made for myself is impacting others truly shows me the ripple of life. The choices we make every day, the people we choose to spend time with, the activities we do, the energy we put out into the world - we make an impact with everything. The choice of whether or not we touch lives in a positive, or a negative way - that's up to each of us!


Money saved in 10 months: Approximately $2,322.00

Weight: Don't care! NOPE!

How I feel: Excited. Hesitant. Hopeful. Radiant. 

9 months down, 3 left to go!

September was quite the whirlwind for me, and I can't believe how quickly it flew by. Shoot - we're already halfway through October for cryin' out loud! I know I keep saying it, but this year has been pretty darn amazing. I feel like I've learned SO MUCH, and I just want to keep on learning. 

This was my first month officially on-my-own with my freelance career, and I'm loving it. I work longer hours on the days when I have time, and take a little more time off on other days (when I can). I truly enjoy what I'm doing now too - I love my co-workers at the cafe (where I work part-time), and the constant socialization. I really enjoy the freelance work as well, since all of my projects have allowed me to be creative. I realize now that's something I've been craving in my work for a long time. 

My beautiful friends at the cafe! From left to right: Jeana, Mona, and Sienna. Not pictured: Ian and Wolfgang (those crazy boys). Latte art by Ian!

My beautiful friends at the cafe! From left to right: Jeana, Mona, and Sienna. Not pictured: Ian and Wolfgang (those crazy boys). Latte art by Ian!

Summer seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, and now fall (my favorite season) is beginning. The days are getting shorter, and I enjoy feeling the brisk air on my face as I bike to my cafe job in the mornings. It's a lovely change, and I look forward to what the new season will bring.

I have been thinking about what I've learned this month without having alcohol in my life:

I'm more hydrated.

This may seem obvious, but it's something I forget about all the time! Since I'm not drinking booze, I'm drinking either water or a fizzy water-based drink. All hydration, all the time!

I'm ready to start drinking again. 

I know I've come so far this year, and I'm so happy about the changes that have come from abstaining from alcohol. But I'm looking forward to having a drink again. I certainly don't plan to go crazy on January 1st, 2016 - but I look forward to having wine with dinner, or toasting a locally-brewed beer with friends. I hope that this year will make it easier for me to take time off from drinking in the future, and help me with moderation. 

I feel all the things, still mess up (even without alcohol), and that's okay. 

There was a point in this journey where I naively thought I could never do wrong, as long as alcohol was no longer clouding my judgement. But it just ain't true. I still screw up, and I still get frustrated about certain decisions I make in my life. I text people I shouldn't when I'm feeling blue (although I'm better at resisting), and I make some silly decisions when out partying late at night. 

Cutting out the alcohol doesn't guarantee that we'll make the best decisions in our lives. Some desires are still there, and I feel strong emotions. If anything, I probably feel everything more than I did before, and with greater clarity. My next step is to be forgiving of those choices. I won't always do the "right" thing all the time. There will always be those moments when I go with my heart rather than my head, even when it's probably best to listen to the latter. With or without alcohol - I am who I am: an emotional being with a constant jumble of emotions, and a big fucking sugar-coated daydreaming heart. And you know what? I'm okay with that. In fact, I am pretty sure I've reached the point in my life where I can love myself for that. And that's pretty damn awesome. 

Part of me is holding back. 

There's a reason why booze is called "liquid courage" - it takes away the voice of reason and replaces it with "I can and should do anything I want, right now!" As I mentioned above, it's still possible to make those carefree decisions without booze. But there's a bigger urge that holds me back. Lately I've been asking myself: are there things I wanted to say this year that I didn't say because I was never drunk? 

Think about those times when you're with your friends and you drunkenly tell them how much you love them. That guy you've always liked? You confess that you have feelings for him. You tell the world that you feel ALL THE THINGS and that they should feel them with you. I believe that when a little tipsy, we become a more honest version of ourselves. So there is a part of me that wonders if I've been holding back a bit, and I'm pretty sure that I have. I don't think it's a bad thing, but it's certainly interesting to think about.


I hope you'll consider joining me in my last (less than) 3 months left of sobriety! Click here to sign up for my No Drinking Challenge, and let's toast on New Year's Eve! 

Money saved in 9 months: Approximately $2,056.00

Weight: Not a clue. But I did put on a size 4 pant the other day, which made my jaw drop. That could be from all the biking to/from work though. :)

How I feel: Contemplative. Content. Blissful. Fulfilled. Happy, happy, happy.

My No Drinking Challenge!

As you've noticed, I've learned a lot in my year without alcohol. 

Feel like you need a change too? Give it a shot! (No pun intended.)

You don't have to toss the hooch for an entire year like I did, but there are plenty of reasons to give up alcohol for a little while. Here are some of my favorites: 

  • You'll save money. 
  • You won't drunk-text people. 
  • Your health will improve. 
  • You may find it easier to sleep at night, or wake up in the morning. 
  • You won't have to worry about getting home safely at night. 
  • You'll be able to hold conversations at parties much more easily. 
  • You won't slosh your drink on the dance floor. 
  • You'll have more energy. 
  • You may find more interesting ways to spend your time.
  • You won't have hangovers.
No Drinking Challenge

Whether you're getting off the sauce for a week, a month, three months, a year, or forever, sign your pledge in the comments below! Write how long you're going to give it up, and your reasons for doing so. It'll help hold you accountable in reaching your goals, and the online community can help provide support! 

Even better, post your progress and results on my Facebook Fan Page! 

Best of luck! 

Trying not to judge...

I've recently started a new job at a shared workspace in downtown Denver. A lot of start-ups collaborate there, bring in their adorable dogs, and have meetings while sitting on couches from Ikea. I however, am not a part of a design firm, or hip new software company. I work part time making sandwiches and coffee drinks at the on-site cafe. 

I actually kind of love it! The people I work with are great, and so easygoing. The people I meet and serve every day are around my age, and always up for some chit-chat before returning to their desks. I love that I can commute by bike (that makes me SO happy), and the stress of the job is pretty low. Surprisingly my pay is comparable to what I made at my last corporate job, and although it's less hours I've already made some contacts networking for freelance jobs with some of our customers.  I also have found that I truly enjoy making pretty sandwiches and salads for people! 

I have also noticed that there are a number of attractive young men that work in this office building. They're all very stylish, well-spoken, smart, and interesting. And yet, I wonder: 

Now that I'm the person that serves them, do they see me differently?

Maybe in an office setting or at a popular post-work happy hour spot, they would look at me as an equal. They'd see that I'm dressed in a similar fashion, and that I'm bright and interesting too. But their first impression of me is while I'm waiting on them, and doing a job that could be considered more low class. Their initial reaction could be to think that I'm uneducated, or that there's something wrong with me for not being able to get a "better" job than service industry. They may think that I've been fired a lot. They may think that I can't take care of myself. If these guys got to know me, they'd see that I made this choice on purpose, and that I'm more happy now than I've been in a long time. 

Obviously I'm making judgments about them judging me, and I know that. But it's not TOO far of a stretch to believe that we place judgement on people based on their jobs. 

A funny thing happened the other day, just as I was thinking about all of this. I went to drop off some dishes to the dishwasher that works for us, and when I was handing him the plates I realized he was very attractive. I immediately thought: But he's just a dishwasher!

I couldn't believe it!! I was making the same judgement about HIM that I thought the guys at the office building were making about ME. It was an automatic reaction, and it saddened me. For all I know, he could have been a former CEO that realized he hated the stress, loved doing a mindless job where he could rock out to music and forget about when he got home. He could be washing dishes to pay his way through school. He could be doing it simply because it pays the bills, and he finds his passions elsewhere. He could also be lazy or unmotivated - of course it swings both ways. Whatever the reason, I should not have judged him. 

The truth is, it's hard to not judge someone when you first meet them.

This video is more about judging a woman for her looks, but it is a similar concept. I just love the clip!

We all judge. It's practically impossible not to. For some reason, we've been hard-wired to start forming opinions about people the moment we see them. I'm sure it was initially for survival reasons, but times have changed. Social circumstances are different than they used to be. People are working different kinds of jobs, and have the ability to choose their careers and the paths they take in their lives. It's a different world. 

I have always disliked that question you get soon after meeting someone: "What do you do?" - which usually translates to: "So what do you do for money?" I've recently changed it to asking: "What makes you happy?" or "What do you do in your free time?" or if I do ask "What do you do for work?" I immediately ask "Does it make you happy?" or "Do you like what you do?" It may put them on the spot, but it makes for some interesting conversation. It also opens the door for them to talk about their true passions in life, or maybe even question themselves.

This also helps clear away any initial judgments we may have made about each other, and opens up the opportunity to truly get to know another person. 

I'm going to work harder to get to know people first, and be aware of judgments when they sneak up. I want to talk to people, and understand why they do what they do, and who they really are. Another lesson learned!