Colorado Homecoming

Well, gang - I made it back to Colorado!

I left Portland last week with a lot of tears, and a heart full of love and joy. One night, when I was crying to Jake about how sad I was to leave, he said something very poignant:

“Isn't it better that you're sad about leaving? That means you've made some amazing friendships and connections. I think it's wonderful that you're sad to go. That means you made the most of it.”

Well, ain’t he just a smarty-pants?

When Amber & I left just before dawn (after tearful hugs with Emily & CJ - love you guys!), we made our way through the Columbia River Gorge just as the sun was coming up. It was stunning. It was like Oregon was saying goodbye to me.

(Yes, I understand how ridiculous that sounds. The sun rises every morning, Beth! It just felt pretty special, is my point.)

It looked something like this. No, I did not take this photo. But @ddimick on Instagram did.

It looked something like this. No, I did not take this photo. But @ddimick on Instagram did.

Amber and I made it until about 2-hours outside of Salt Lake City before we both broke down in tears. We didn’t realize how much our lives would change living together as adults, and this whole experience was more amazing than either of us could have imagined.

And when I say “tears” I mean big-fat-ugly-crying. It was awful. And wonderful. ALL THE FEELS!

#sistercode

#sistercode

Salt Lake City is a pretty darn gorgeous place, and although Jake got in wayyyyy later than expected (1:30am - what a trooper!), we started off for our second leg of the trip bright and early. Amber flew back to Portland, and we’ve talked every day since. Thank GOODNESS.

The second half of our journey was a little more adventurous than the first, but luckily I had the calmest dude on the planet as my co-pilot.

First, I thought I’d left my wallet in the bathroom of Little America in Wyoming.

I mean, if you’re going to lose a wallet isn’t that the best place to do so? We took a 20-minute detour and after much frantic searching (and a helpful cleaning lady who insisted to pray by my side as we looked), I double-checked my purse and realized I had my wallet the entire time.

Whoops.

After continuing on for a few hours, we heard a “thunk” from where my two bikes were expertly attached to the back of my Ford Focus.

(By “expertly” I mean “sort-of” and by “attached” I mean “as secure as I felt like putting in the effort for.”)

When we pulled over to check on them, we noticed that both bikes had slid down and were dangling on the back, their tires about 4” from the ground. The last of the restraints had broken (after sitting outside on the back of my car through 2 Portland winters).

Whoops again.

After about 15 minutes of grunt-filled re-rigging, a storm started to roll in and pelt us with the first drops of icy cold rain. We realized we had to get this done quickly, and by golly, we did. At least well enough to get us to Colorado!

Gosh darnit, we’re cute. Barf.

Gosh darnit, we’re cute. Barf.

I’m finally unloaded now, and getting settled in to this new life. I miss my friends in Portland dearly (yes, already), and at the same time I’m so excited to see all of my friends in Denver. My social calendar is quickly filling up and that’s exactly how I like it!

More updates to come about:

  • What it has been like living with my parents. (There are tissue boxes EVERYWHERE. I’m not kidding. Every. Single. Room.)

  • How my debt payoff is going. (Spoiler: I already reached my first goal. Hooray for not paying rent!!)

  • Reflections on life and junk. (You know how I roll.)

<3

Feeling Gratitude

My sister Amber and I have been discussing gratefulness a lot lately. Amber came across an article that included some research finding that people who express gratitude and give thanks for what they have are significantly happier than those that do not.

I have always thought being grateful meant comparing what you have to what someone else doesn't have.

For example, even though my apartment constantly leaks cold air and I get splinters in my feet from the never-refinished hardwood floors, I should be grateful that I have a roof over my head at all. I have good food on my plate, so therefore I should be grateful because some people don’t have access to healthy food at all.

It turns out being grateful is much more than that.

Gratefulness is not just applying a side-by-side comparison of what you have versus what someone else does not. It is about feeling thankful for everything you’ve been blessed with, how these things came into your life, and acknowledging the little miracles.

Actual definition of gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return kindness.

Amber and I have been trying especially to be more mindful about our eating habits. Not just putting healthier foods into our bodies, but also not eating while standing at the kitchen counter and shoveling it down our throats just to get on to the next thing we have to do that day.

We are trying to create a new habit so that when we sit down to eat, we really think about the food we’re about to eat and how thankful we are to have it. Kind of in the way that religious folks say grace, but Amber came up with her own script that works for us and I absolutely love it:

We receive this food in gratitude to all beings who have helped bring it to this table, and to the nature that provided it. We receive this food to maintain this body, and stay healthy - letting go of unpleasant feelings, without stirring up new ones. And for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.

Today is my 38th birthday (woohoo)! My wish is to go into this year holding that kind of gratitude in my heart every single day - throughout every facet of my life.

Even just pausing for a moment to be thankful for a warm hug from a friend, a morning to sleep in, a good pair of thick wool socks, or the fact that green chili exists. I want to exist treasuring the belief that life is beautiful, and choose to cherish kindness and good rather than be weighed down by the ugly and bad.

We can choose where we invest our energy, and I am choosing the lighter side.

And with that, I’m grateful for you. Thank you for being a part of my life, for reading this post, for waking up this morning and being your wonderful self.

Cheers to another year!

Moving Back to Move Forward

In 2015, my year without booze, I easily found inspiration for topics to write about. A year that began as a simple idea (to go one year without drinking any alcohol), led to an unfolding of realizations about myself, my relationships, my work, and every aspect of my life.

But really, I wrote blog posts because I needed a distraction.

I needed a way to deal with the struggle I faced every day to go without my usual coping mechanism. So I wrote. Writing each post became therapeutic. A release for my thoughts and fears and frustrations. I reassured myself by working through these feelings, which began to become hopeful and excited. Friends told me that my posts inspired them to make changes in their lives as well.

Toasting to my year without booze!

Toasting to my year without booze!

Now I’m moving into another phase of my life, and I’m hoping to pick my blog back up where I left off. I hope to use this medium to work out my thoughts and feelings and to make sense of them.

When I moved to Portland, Oregon just a couple of short years ago, I didn’t know what the choice would mean or how it would affect me. I knew it would be great - no matter what - and that’s why I chose to do it. And I’m so, so happy that I did!

Living in Portland I have learned so much.

Living with my sister Amber has been the absolute best part. We’ve supported each other, laughed ourselves to tears, and shared so many meals together (which I cooked, of course), and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’m happy every day that we decided to take this leap together.

Our company, The Bike Dress, has come such a long way. We still have a ways to go, but it’s getting there. We’ve both learned a lot about ourselves, and taught each other some important lessons. Amber has helped me to learn the value of holding my feels back a bit, and I’ve helped her learn that it’s okay to barf those feels out sometimes. (It’s all about balance with those feels.)

#Sistercode.

#Sistercode.

If I hadn’t moved to Portland I may not have been strong enough to detach myself from a romantic relationship that wasn’t right for me. But the distance was healing, and I began to trust again. And that opened me up to something really beautiful with an amazing man, who just happened to be right under my nose for a very long time.

Yeah, I know. We’re so cute you wanna barf. &lt;3

Yeah, I know. We’re so cute you wanna barf. <3

What I’m trying to say is that I see my move to Portland as a huge success.

A beautiful, wonderful success during which I made connections and friendships that I know will last the rest of my life.

I love my Portland family, and trust me when I say that I will be back.

Get ready for a bombardment of photos…

Even Keel gang - I love you guys!

Even Keel gang - I love you guys!

Two of the funnest most fabulous people on the planet.

Two of the funnest most fabulous people on the planet.

Blurry girls doing some wine tasting in the Willamette valley.

Blurry girls doing some wine tasting in the Willamette valley.

These kickball kids crack me up so much and I love them for that!

These kickball kids crack me up so much and I love them for that!

A beautiful wedding for two beautiful peeps.

A beautiful wedding for two beautiful peeps.

These two. Just these two.

These two. Just these two.

I have never felt more inspired than the Saturdays I’ve spent with this amazing group of women!

I have never felt more inspired than the Saturdays I’ve spent with this amazing group of women!

Damn, Pickathon was fun. (And Betsy, I MISS YOU!)

Damn, Pickathon was fun. (And Betsy, I MISS YOU!)

Now, I’m ready to move forward by heading back. Back to Colorado!

I am excited about this for many reasons. I am thrilled to be rejoined with my Denver family, my friends, my sweet Jake. And now I’m excited to face a new challenge that I’ve struggled with for a big part of my life: debt.

I’ve had my ups and downs with money, as we all have.

Recently, I have been thinking of money in comparison to waves, sometimes it’s up, sometimes it’s down, but it will constantly be in flux and I just have to accept that. Although I still believe there is some truth to that, my money-wave has been fluctuating below the line of breaking even for much too long.

I turn 38 years old in March.

As I inch closer to 40, I’m getting all kinds of existential. I’m having those “what does it all mean?” thoughts, and reflecting a lot on my past while at the same time feeling the weight of my future.

No, life ain’t all about money.

But I want to feel secure with it, and feel free of the burden. Yes, I want to live happily, and spend the money I have earned by ordering all the food when I go out to eat (my friend Katie’s favorite part about dining out with me), taking trips, buying concert tickets, and buying a pretty sweater when it strikes my fancy.

However, I also want to be able to pay my bills without feeling stretched.

I want to be able to have money set aside for if my car breaks down.

I want to open an unexpected medical bill and not burst into tears.

I do not want to feel dread as the end of each month approaches, and rent is due again.

I want to be able to afford to live in an apartment that doesn’t have squirrels living in its storage space.

I want to be able to treat a friend to dinner on their birthday.

I do not want to feel anxiety over every dollar I spend.

I want to feel comfortable.

So I am heading back to Colorado to live with my parents for a little while. They have graciously welcomed me back into their home to jump-start my progress, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It will take time, and a change in habits to make this stick, but I feel ready. And so thankful that I have such a great support group.

Living with the folks again at 38 isn’t going to be easy for me.

And this is why I’ve picked up blogging again. I figure, this will be a hoot, right? A nearly-40-year-old woman moving back in with the folks? Why not use it as an opportunity to write?

Well, golly, that’s just what I’m gonna do.

Things to Do and Places to Go in Portland

I recently had a friend text me and ask, “what are some fun things to do in Portland? I know some people that are visiting soon.”

I don’t think she had any idea how long of an email response she was going to get.

Luckily my friend was thrilled at all the information, and said that I should share everything I’ve experienced in my first year in Portland with the world. I thought it was a brilliant idea, and also a way for me to post on my own damn blog for once!

If you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to in Portland all this time, this is a great summary. As you can see, it’s been a lot of eating and drinking everywhere, but hey, that’s what I like to do!

Also, I friggin’ love this town. I. LOVE. PORTLAND. I’d shout it from the top of a waterfall right now if I could. Or maybe just after a few beers on a rooftop patio. For now, I’ll just share some of the things I love the most about this amazing city.

I have not been offered any compensation by any of these places, although I certainly wouldn’t mind a little bonus after the fact. I’m looking at you, Harlow.

THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND, OREGON

Portland neighborhoods are divided into four sections, as listed below. I’m starting with northeast because I live there and yes, I do play favorites.

NORTHEAST

Best streets for walking around: Alberta, Mississippi, Fremont

Places to go:

  • Pine State Biscuits. Get the fried chicken. Trust me.
  • Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai. This is where my “waiting in line” advice (below) goes out the window. Try all the doughnuts, and all the chai (made in-house).
  • Verde Cocina. The most colorful and deliciously fresh Mexican food I’ve ever had.
  • The Zipper. This is a cafeteria-style establishment with an array of food choices and a super rad bar called Paydirt. I highly recommend getting the fried chicken salad at Basilisk. I have dreams about it.
  • The Kennedy School. This is a remodeled elementary school that has changed their classrooms into multiple bars, a music venue, small movie theater, and more. It’s such a fun spot!
  • Expatriate. A dark little secret tucked away in the Alberta area, great for fancy cocktails. Get there between 5-6 for the wonton nachos. More food dreams there. OH! And order a ‘diplomatic pouch’ to drink - the bartender will make you something custom according to the flavors you like. So swank.
  • Broder Nord. I didn’t think I’d come to love a Swedish brunch, but boy, now I do.
  • Alibi Lounge. Tiki bar with the best pina colada I’ve ever had, and karaoke every night starting at 9pm. Need I say more?
  • Sandy Hut. Greasy burger, onion rings, cheap beer, pool tables. Divey and fabulous.
  • Cup and Bar. My fave spot to freelance from. Get the avocado and ricotta toast. See photo to commence drooling. 
You have to ask them to add the ham on there, but you won't regret it!&nbsp;

You have to ask them to add the ham on there, but you won't regret it! 

SOUTHEAST

Best streets for walking around: Hawthorne, Belmont, Division

Places to go:

  • Harlow. I don’t have any food allergies (they’re great for gluten-free folks and vegans), and I still friggin’ love this place. I’ve never been anywhere that I not only feel ridiculously good about what I ate, but also like I indulged myself. See photo below. 
  • Kati’s Thai. So fresh, SO YUMMY.
  • Aalto. Go for happy hour - they open at 5 and it goes ‘till 7. They do $3 fancy cocktails!
  • Schilling Cider House. 50 ciders on tap, and a great patio.
  • Doug Fir. If you have the chance, catch a live show there. And be careful of the mirrors when you go to use the bathrooms. I warned ya.
  • Mount Tabor. An inactive volcano that’s now a park with trails to walk. It’s gorgeous and ginormous, and much more fun to bike down rather than up.
  • Creepy’s. A fun and kitschy place to drink. Check out the painting behind the bar. It’s watching you.
  • Bagdad Theater.* They only feature one film at a time, but it’s beautifully remodeled and so darn cool.
    *There are so many lovely remodeled movie theaters around town that show unique features and old flicks on the weekend. Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, Cinema 21, and Hollywood are a few more that are worth checking out! And everywhere serves really great beer and real food!!
Need more convincing of why to go to Harlow? Check out their Instagram feed @harlowportland.

Need more convincing of why to go to Harlow? Check out their Instagram feed @harlowportland.

NORTHWEST

Best streets for walking around: Burnside, 21st, 23rd

Places to go:

  • Portland City Grill. It’s on the top floor of an office building, so the view is fantastic and there’s even a piano in there. Get there early for happy hour, and creep on folks to snag their table.
  • Le Chon. On the riverfront, this place has amazing South American food and tapas. And oysters! YUM.
  • Japanese Garden. It’s just beautiful, and great for walking around on a low-key day. Or if you’re hungover.
  • Powell’s Books. You just gotta go if you love books at all. It’s HUGE.
  • Forest Park. Super easy hiking trails right downtown. How cool is that?
  • PSU Farmers Market. There are so many vendors it’s redonk. And it goes all year round.
  • Even Keel Coffee Co. Because, duh. 
I mean, I work there. I gotta plug it. Remember when I said I play favorites?&nbsp;

I mean, I work there. I gotta plug it. Remember when I said I play favorites? 

SOUTHWEST

Best streets for walking around: I don’t really know. But if you keep heading south, you’ll hit the areas of Tualatin and Durham where there are a ton of wineries! I haven’t explored the SW area much, but dang, the wine is FAB.

Just a couple of sisters, drinkin' wine in Oregon.&nbsp;

Just a couple of sisters, drinkin' wine in Oregon. 

OTHER AREAS

The Hangar at Oaks Park. The Rose City Rollers have their bouts at this location, and although their venue will be changing soon you should definitely see them play. It’s also right next to an amusement park. DAY. OF. FUN.

The Columbia River Gorge. Drive up to do some hiking and see some waterfalls! I wouldn’t bother with Multnomah Falls - it’s right off the highway and very touristy. Sadly, the Oregon side was decimated by fires last year, and a lot of the trails are still under repair. Definitely cross over to the Washington side of the river though. The hikes are lovely - see below!

WATERFALLLLLLL!

WATERFALLLLLLL!

Sauvie Island. Just north of the city there is a little beach along the river where you can hang out. Be sure to stop at the convenience store on your way to get a day pass for parking (there’s one right off the road just before you arrive). There's totally a nude section of the beach too, although I haven't been to that part. YET.

The Oregon Coast. It's only about a 1.5 hour drive away, and so worth it. See photo below. 

Coast.PNG

MORE STUFF

Yes, there’s always more.

Coffee: Way too many places to name them all. Extracto, Marigold, Water Avenue, Case Study, Proud Mary - these are just some off the top of my head. They all roast their own beans, and it's gosh darn delicious.

Breweries: They are AWESOME and there are also SO MANY! What makes them even better is that everywhere is required to serve food. Therefore since they're all in friendly competition with one another, they all have really, really good food.

Food cart corrals: A huge thing in Portland, and you'll come across them everywhere. I highly recommend trying something from them! Although there are some corrals downtown, the best ones are in the neighborhoods I mentioned above.

ADDITIONAL TIPS ABOUT...

...going out to eat:

Check and make sure a restaurant is open before you go - some locations keep unusual hours, and aren’t open certain days of the week.

There are a lot of places where people wait in a long line for a table even when the food is not all that fabulous (I mean, it might be good, but not GREAT). I don’t like waiting 2-hours for food (I get cranky), and I guarantee there’s another place close by that’s just as delicious if not moreso. However, at some places (such as Harlow and Pine State) you just order at the counter then sit down at a table with a number (which I LOVE), causing the line to move quickly even when it’s long.

You really can’t go wrong with where you go out to eat - the restaurants are amazeballs.

...going out to drink:

At some bars a line forms for ordering. It was weird for me at first, but queue up with everyone else. It helps when there is only one bartender working so that they don’t lose their minds. And Portlanders are excellent at waiting in lines. I don’t get it.

Oh, and don’t ask for water from the bartender. Almost every bar has a water station if you look around, and I will never understand why Denver doesn’t adopt the same practice. It’s the mile-high city for cryin’ out loud! Gotta stay hydrated!

Fancy cocktail at Expatriate!

Fancy cocktail at Expatriate!

...going out in the rain:

It doesn't rain much in the summertime, but in the spring/fall/winter be prepared. Just don't use an umbrella if you want to look like a local. It is usually light rainfall, and a waterproof jacket is so much easier.

...driving around:

Keep a sharp eye out for pedestrians and cyclists in busy areas like SE Hawthorne, NE Alberta, and downtown. This is a very walk / bike friendly city and some folks are very confident about their crosswalks! When in doubt, yield to them.

Also, everybody drives really freakin’ slow. You just gotta get over it.

...walking around:

Downtown is full of transients and homeless people, and the numbers may surprise you. Although it may seem like a lot of people, it's not much more than any other city. The problem is that all of the relief facilities are located within the same few blocks, so they're all concentrated in one area. It's a huge problem here and a good thing to be aware of.

Also, drivers will sometimes stop for you whether you’re at a crosswalk or not - even if you were only thinking about crossing the street. Just wave “thank you” and cross carefully.

...getting around in general:

I highly, HIGHLY recommend either renting a bike or using Biketown (the bike share program from Nike) to get around town. Portland is rated in the top 5 cities in the U.S. for cycling, and there’s a good reason for that. The infrastructure is fantastic and you see the city in a whole new way.

That's one of the reasons why we came here to start The Bike Dress! (Shameless plug, and I DON’T CARE.)

THAT WEB ADDRESS AGAIN IS: THEBIKEDRESS.COM. Thank you for your time.&nbsp;

THAT WEB ADDRESS AGAIN IS: THEBIKEDRESS.COM. Thank you for your time. 

Otherwise, the public transportation is really great too - it’s so easy to get around town without a car.

...doing anything else:

Everyone here is SO NICE. Chat with anyone and everyone. They'll give you recommendations, whether you ask for them or if they just overhear your conversation - and very happily. It will bug you how happily.


Welp, that’s my list! I have had many, many more experiences out here in Portland and I’m sure I’ve missed some awesome stuff. There is just too much awesomeness to fit into one blog post.

If you have additional tips or suggestions, please share them in the comments!

For more resources, visit Travel Portland. Happy travels!

Hey! I'm in Portland!

Hey gang! I thought I'd post an update about how things are going here in Portland. 

First of all, yes, it's pretty darn rainy here. Sometimes it will rain for 5 days straight, then it will be beautiful and sunny for the next 5 days. Then it will thunderstorm like crazy, dark skies covering the world, then after 15-minutes it will clear to reveal a beautiful blue sky. It's strange, but also kinda fun. It also means for some hella green EVERYTHING. 

My first Portland hike! I love that there are so many gorgeous trails within 15-45 minutes of town.

My first Portland hike! I love that there are so many gorgeous trails within 15-45 minutes of town.

The biking around here is the shit. I am in awe of how easy they've made it to get around by bike, and the infrastructure is not only super easy to follow but also really safe. Drivers are very aware of cyclists, and there are so many bike lanes I want to puke out of happiness. 

Oh, and it's really stinkin' pretty everywhere too. 

My two bikes. By a park, and by the willamette river downtown!&nbsp;

My two bikes. By a park, and by the willamette river downtown! 

People here are so darn friendly! And I mean that as a complement, of course. Amber made the funny observation that if you're having a conversation with someone nearby any other people, they just assume they're also a part of it. I could see how it would be annoying to some, but I think it's charming. Maybe because I'm already kind of like that! 

Amber and me - together at last!

Amber and me - together at last!

It has been wonderful to be reunited with my big sister, Amber. We realized that we live well together, if only because growing up in the same house caused us to have similar habits. I cook, she does the dishes. She makes tea, and is sure to leave enough hot water for me. We are honest about if we want to go out or stay in. We can talk easily about our days, our concerns, our feelings. It's a beautiful balance, and I think this transition has been much easier because of her presence.

We've also been working on our own business project, and it has been moving along much more smoothly than before. More on that to come!

My little home office!

My little home office!

Freelance life has been busy, busy, busy! I'm happy I didn't jump right in to another part-time gig at a coffee shop, as things miraculously picked up after I left Denver. Funny how that works, eh? It's been fun hopping from place to place to work on my projects remotely, as it's a great way to see different cafes around the city. 

And lastly, I miss my Denver friends and family very much! I think about you all often, and hope to see your faces in real life very soon. Big hugs from PDX!

How to Downsize and Declutter

In this post, I mentioned how I'm getting ready for my big move out to Portland. While going through what I want to bring, and what I'd rather leave behind, I've realized that there are a lot of things that I need to let go of (emotionally and otherwise).

The hardest things to let go of for me are sentimental items. Things a friend or relative made for me as a gift. Items that reminds me of someone. It can be difficult, but I need to remember that these items don't always represent everything that person means to me. If I hold them in my heart, I don't need a gift or trinket to remind me of them. Unless the item is particularly special to me, I need to start letting these objects go.  

My grandma crocheted the blanket for me, and the book was a gift from my sister. I'm keeping both!

My grandma crocheted the blanket for me, and the book was a gift from my sister. I'm keeping both!

Here is some of what I've learned during this process of going through my belongings, in case you're ready to start letting go as well: 

  • Start small, and with duplicates. 
    Do you really need 15 serving plates? Why do you have three saucepans? Do you need a drawer full of pens, or just one? How many pairs of socks are really necessary in life? 

    Start asking these questions, and start small. Start by filling a bag with items that are old or worn out. Then move to items you have in excess. You'll probably fill up those bags pretty quickly! 
Arrrgggh - why do I need all these dishes!? I live by myself for cryin' out loud!&nbsp;

Arrrgggh - why do I need all these dishes!? I live by myself for cryin' out loud! 

  • Pick up each item you own, and ask: Is this still important to me? 
    Maybe it was important at one time, but why are you still hanging on to it? Is the item still enriching your life, or is it something that you just keep moving from place to place? 

    Only keep items that truly bring joy to you, your life, and your home. 
     
  • GET RID OF PAPER FILES. 
    I was helping my little sister move recently into a small efficiency apartment. As we were arranging the room, I noticed she had three boxes of just paper files on the floor! I couldn't believe the amount of paper that she was trying to find room to store in an already tiny room. And really, how often do we really need to refer to our old files anyway?? 

    I decided to go through my stash of paper files, and start shredding. As far as credit card statements go - shred away. It's the 21st century, people. Sign up for paperless statements that you can get through email. If you still have some that were mailed, go through them, make note of whatever you need to keep, and get rid of the rest. 

    One blessing to help with this is the Tiny Scanner App. I "scanned" files into PDFs that I wanted to save electronically and emailed them to myself. Now the only paper files I keep are things like my apartment leases, car title, and birth certificate. Everything else either gets scanned and/or shredded! 
     
  • Now that you've minimalized - STOP BUYING. 
    This is the hardest part, but the most important one. What's the point of minimalizing your stuff if you're just going to buy more stuff to replace it? Simplifying our homes and our lives can help with removing distractions, and help us focus on what truly matters.

    We read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for my Book Club, and it couldn't have come at a better time! I love her method not only because it's simple, but because everything that you keep in the end is something that adds value and happiness to your life. Everything you own has a purpose. I highly recommend picking it up if you're looking to change your life by minimizing your belongings. 
I'm going to miss my book club girls!

I'm going to miss my book club girls!

When I began to let things go, I noticed that my apartment was much cleaner. There were less items sitting out unused, and there was a much nicer flow throughout each room. It created more room to breathe, and I don't even feel like I had to let go of very much in order to accomplish that. 

I'm so excited about what this new move will bring, and the lessons I will learn in the future. I am also excited about keeping my tidy and purposeful mentality in my next apartment with Amber! 

I'm going to miss my little apartment in Denver, but I'm thankful for the memories I had there. And everything in this room had a purpose! Love it!

I'm going to miss my little apartment in Denver, but I'm thankful for the memories I had there. And everything in this room had a purpose! Love it!

Choosing an Atypical Life Plan

The other day while working at my part-time job, I struck up a conversation with a customer, as I tend to do. 

Something unusual struck me about this conversation, as we began discussing how we came to where we are in our lives.

I mentioned that I quit my full-time high paying office job to go freelance and work as a barista part-time, and he said, "hey, I'm scrubbing toilets now, and I'm happier than I ever was before!" 

Curious, I asked if I could interview him for my blog. 

Jared recently moved back to Denver. Here is his story about finding happiness. 

Jared with espresso in hand, and a smile on his face!

Jared with espresso in hand, and a smile on his face!

Beth: What did you used to do that did not make you happy? 

Jared: I grew up working in kitchens, which was a continuous party. I used to get into a lot of trouble. Eventually I decided to quit drinking, and a whole new world opened up to me. I started going camping, hiking, and saw more sun rises than I ever had before. I started doing things that I wouldn't have done if I had been hungover and feeling like shit. 

More recently, I got tired of working for companies that didn't care about me as an employee. I worked in management for over 10 years, and although I enjoyed it, I realized that I didn't enjoy having someone else manage my time, and my life. 

Beth: What was the turning point in your life when you realized you needed to make a change? Was it something you had to do for yourself or something that forced you to have to make a big decision? 

Jared: Just after I quit drinking, my mom passed away from breast cancer. I am so glad that I quit drinking before then, otherwise I'm not sure I would have gotten through it. It was extremely hard to watch, but I'm glad she was surrounded by the people she loved the most. 

After my mom died, my outlook on life changed completely. I realized that at any point in time, I could lose someone I cared about forever. It made me appreciate the time I spend with my friends and family, and at the same time work harder at being a better person. 

Recently, the big decision was to move forward with ending my relationship with my wife. Divorce is never an easy decision, and this case was no exception. In the end, I decided to make the best out of a rough situation. After I sold the house, I quit my job, and fit everything I owned into my car.

I realized that I could go anywhere, and for the first time in a long while, I could do anything that I wanted. It was one of the most freeing feelings I've ever had in my life. I decided to use the time to travel, and visit friends. I began to heal. 

I began to understand that nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and a negative can always be turned into a positive. 

Beth: What do you do now that makes you happy? 

Jared: I have realized that the stuff I own, the money in my bank account, the job title I have - none of that makes me truly happy. I find happiness in nature, and having the best friends and family anyone could ever wish for. My best friend and I text every morning wishing each other a good day, peace, love, and positivity.

I used to think that having a place of my own with plenty of high-tech things to fill it was what would make me happy. But living a clean lifestyle, and remembering the places I've seen and the people I love is what makes me truly content. 

Beth: What is something that inspires you? 

Jared: My dad. He has always had my back, and supports me and my choices no matter what. He's awesome. If and when I become a father, I hope to be half the man that he is. 

Beth: What is one piece of advice you can give to people unsure of where they are in their lives? 

Jared: Don't be afraid to make a change. If you don't like your job, quit - you can always find another one that will make you happier! If your relationship is unhealthy, don't just stay because you think it's easier. It's not fair to either of you. If you're unhappy, take action. Even if you're not sure what action it is - just do something! There is so much more to life, and you shouldn't stay in a place that doesn't make you feel your happiest and best self. 

Learn how to do what you love, and it will create positive things around you. 

Happier than ever!

Happier than ever!

Jared now makes a living helping friends clean their AirBNB rentals, and exploring nature whenever he can. 

Everything expressed here was approved by Jared, and are his own ideas and views. The statements above are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog. 

I'm Moving!

It's not much of a secret anymore, but to my friends I haven't been able to catch up with over the past few weeks:

I'm moving to Portland, Oregon in April!

After my visit to Portland in October of 2015, I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. An added bonus is that there is going to be another love moving there with me: my big sister, Amber. 

Yeah, we're pretty excited.&nbsp;

Yeah, we're pretty excited. 

Denver holds a very big place in my heart. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, I loved where I came from but I never really thought of a city as being something I could connect with, or something that would identify me. Denver has completely changed that. I've lived here for 13-years now, and have had some truly amazing experiences that have shaped the life that I'm so grateful to lead each day. 

Living in Denver has helped me to grow into my own skin, learn to love myself, and find meaning in my work and career. It has also allowed me to meet friends that I know I will have with me for the rest of my life. 

Now, it's time for the next chapter!

Funnily enough, I began writing this post back in April of 2016. I was almost ready then, but I let certain circumstances delay taking the leap. Now that we're off to the start of 2017, (and after some VERY long conversations with Amber), I've felt the pull again. And this time, it's for reals. 

Lucky for me, I already have some wonderful friends in Portland, and Seattle. But leaving Denver will be really hard. My parents, and younger sister Taryn still live here, as do so many close friends that I consider family. There will be a lot of tears (mostly from me, I'm sure). 

Probably one of my most favorite Thanksgiving moments ever captured. We could not stop laughing!&nbsp;

Probably one of my most favorite Thanksgiving moments ever captured. We could not stop laughing! 

In preparation for my move, I've already begun to take an inventory of what I want to take with me and what I want to leave behind. As I do so I feel a rush of excitement. The thrill of the unknown gives me something to hope for. A new sense of purpose. 

I'm also realizing that I have accumulated a lot of crap over the years. 

In my post "Letting Go" I discussed 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, there's still more that I am holding on to that I don't really need. And honestly, I'm not sure I want to carry that stuff with me anymore. 

More about how I plan to do that in my next post (teaser alert!), but this is about my Portland announcement. I hope to see everyone before I go, but please know you're always welcome to visit!

And I'll be back to visit too, of course. That's a promise. 

Saying Goodbye

At the end of 2016, my family and I had to say goodbye to a very beloved pet - my darling little Dimitri.

It's never easy saying goodbye to someone you love, and this was the first time in my life I had to make the difficult decision to let go of an animal I've had as a part of my life for the past 15 years.  

Dimitri's first bath, after we took him home from the shelter. He's the only cat I've ever known to actually enjoy a bath!

Dimitri's first bath, after we took him home from the shelter. He's the only cat I've ever known to actually enjoy a bath!

Back in Ohio, me and my college roommate, Jess, decided it was time to get a cat. I grew up only having small animals (hamsters, lizards, etc.), and never knew what it was like to have a pet like this. We made plans to go to the animal shelter together.  

When we first got there, we were completely overwhelmed. There were SO MANY CATS EVERYWHERE. There were kittens, older cats, and everything in between all running free in a big room. We had no idea where to begin! 

Eventually, we decided to sit on the floor across from one another and let the cats come to us. Jess had her eye on an older cat - big, orange, and a little scraggly looking. I was quickly falling in love with a playful black kitten. But there was one cat that just wouldn't leave us alone. He kept butting his head into my back and meowing at me.

Exasperated I said, "what the heck do you want, cat!?" and he looked up at me, meowed, walked into my lap, and curled himself into a ball. He looked up at me, quite comfortable in his new spot. 

I said, "Jess, I think this is the one," but she was going to take some more convincing. I told her to just give him a chance, so she called him to his lap by patting her knees and saying "c'mere kitty!" He got up from my lap, walked over to hers, and curled into a ball. 

We both looked up at each other and smiled. This was the one. We took him home that day. 

Dimitri curled into the tiniest box he could find. He loved when my mom did puzzles, because that meant an open box on the floor for him!&nbsp;

Dimitri curled into the tiniest box he could find. He loved when my mom did puzzles, because that meant an open box on the floor for him! 

From then on, he snuggled with us constantly. He loved being on laps and getting his head scratched. He loved playing with the plastic rings around the lids of milk jugs. He would run to the door when we got home, meowing constantly as if to tell us all about his day. He loved everyone immediately, and charmed the pants off anyone who met him. He even won over the most adamant "cat haters" with his charm.  

He had a long and happy life, and I'm glad that we could give him a loving home outside of the shelter. But it's never easy to say goodbye. 

They say it's better to have loved and lost than to never love at all, and I've always believed that to be true. The happiness and joy that is felt from loving other people (and pets) I would take no matter what - even if it ends in heartbreak. 

I refuse to let fear of loss hold me back from loving. The scars from where my heart has been broken just shows that it is being used to its fullest potential. It is constantly growing, changing, and loving more and more. 

Have you loved a pet dearly that you had to let go? What is your favorite story about them? 

What is success?

A little while ago, my friend Sienna was in town visiting. It seems that she often inspires my posts, but I'm not too surprised about that. It is easy to make light conversation with her, but the really good stuff comes out after a bottle of wine has been opened and the hours stretch far into the evening. These conversations cover topics from life goals, to sexuality, relationships, politics - nothing is off limits. She brings out the passion in people, and inspires me to look inwardly but also to see the world in a different light. 

I treasure these nights! 

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016.&nbsp;

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016. 

This particular evening we got on the topic of success. She felt she was taking a step backwards because she was moving back in with her parents. This decision freed up time and finances in order to allow her to pursue acting and poetry - her true passions. 

My younger sister has been doing the same thing for a little while now. She's been living with our parents, and using any moment of free time to build her own production company from the ground up.

It has allowed her to worry less about money, while at the same time build something that truly makes her happy. 

In our society, much of someone's success is directly correlated to how much money they have (or, let's face it - how much they can show it off). People judge others, and themselves, on the size of their home, the quality of their car or phone, the clothes they wear, and everything in between. But do those things really bring us happiness? 

Finding my own personal fulfillment has come from not only looking within, but creating more time to do things that I truly want to do. Yes, a degree of happiness comes from the stability of having money, and being able to purchase the things we need to live. But after a certain point, more money doesn't equate to more happiness. 

I highly recommend everyone see the documentary "I Am" - it illustrates this point beautifully.

There are plenty of cultures that live with their families throughout their entire lives. If they get married, they move out to start their own family but often still live nearby. It's not a measure of success as to whether or not they live alone in a big apartment or huge house - in fact, it may even seem wasteful. 

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it.&nbsp;

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it. 

Having family nearby allows everyone to have a helping hand when they need one. It means extra care for the kids, friends to share meals with, and safety. It is the creation of community and relationships, as opposed to isolation. And as humans, we do not thrive in isolation. 

I have a friend that has one of those big fancy apartments. She makes a good amount of money, can buy the latest gadgets, and is a pretty good definition of what our world deems "successful". She is also unhappy with her job, has very few relationships, and often dines alone.

This is one circumstance, but I have to ask - would sharing a space with someone free her up financially to allow her to quit her job, and find something that is fulfilling? Would it help her feel more comfortable around others so that she can build more relationships? Would it make her happier? Maybe taking a step back at first would be the best way for her to take a step forward in the future.  

Many of us think it's embarrassing to have to move back in with the folks, or find a roommate after a certain age in our lives. Some of us would rather get into even more debt than to deal with the embarrassment of having to explain that to someone. People ask with a grimace, "they are 35 and still living with their parents?" when they should be asking (without judgement), "what is their plan, and their next move in life?"

For someone to accept that sharing space with others is an option that will open up new opportunities or help remove a burden in place of struggle is a huge success, in my opinion!