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. 

TO BE CONTINUED...

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? 

IS SOMEONE TRYING TO REACH ME?? 

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! 

TO BE CONTINUED...

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! 

 

Attachments

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? 

Time

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!