So Thankful

Thanksgiving

I don't know about you kids, but I feel so lucky to have all that I have and to live this beautiful life. Even with everything that's been happening in the world right now, there is so much beauty in every day that sometimes I think I might burst.

To put it simply, this life is pretty darn awesome. 

There are a gazillion things that I'm grateful for, and this list barely scrapes the surface. Nevertheless, in honor of Thanksgiving, here's my little list for which I'm constantly thankful: 

- The fam. All of 'em. 
- My ridiculous, wonderful, loving, selfless, hilarious friends. 
- Bicycles.
- Those moments we can set aside our phones and enjoy each other's company.
- Impromptu dance parties. 
- The Denver Bicycle Cafe. For reminding me that working at a cafe doesn't have to suck - and in fact, it can be pretty darn rad. Case in point, this
- Lazy mornings when you can sleep in then watch back-to-back episodes of Bob's Burgers. 
- Sweet and passionate kisses.
- Extra large hot water heaters. 
- When a song hits me at the very time I need to hear those words. 
- The moment I finish reading an amazing book. 

Yep, that was a good one!! 

Yep, that was a good one!! 


- Safety pins.
- Really big hugs. 
- Helpful neighbors. 
- Snow boots.
- KARAOKE NIGHT. 
- Thoughtful gifts. 
- People who really listen. 
- People embracing (and sharing) their talents. 
- Days off. 
- Really delicious coffee. 

I made this one myself! 

I made this one myself! 


- 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. 
- Home.
- All of my friend's beautiful little babies that were born this year. 
- Live music. 
- Earplugs. 
- Laughter that makes me forget anything bad ever happened.
- Hope. 
- Movie nights. 
- Jokes that land at the perfect moment. 
- 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!

Most of all, 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 let's gather, eat a bunch of food with the people we love, and focus on the good stuff. 

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

Current Mood | A New Season

I remember once when I was working with my friend Sienna, I asked her if I could put on some music, specifically my "Melancholy Mood" playlist.

Her response was, "I feel like that playlist is always my mood."

It was so funny at the time, but I'm starting to understand how she feels! It may have been the election outcome, the sad news that keeps popping up all over the world, or that it's already dark at 5 p.m., but lately my mood has been a bit more melancholy than usual. 

I have always loved fall. I love the chill in the air, the excuse to stay in and snuggle under a blanket with a book, and the colors of the leaves. Fall in Denver has been drawn out a bit longer than usual this year, which I must admit has always been something I've wanted. However it seems that the looming winter is weighing on my shoulders. 

I went for a walk this morning to try and shake off my state of mind, but my steps dragged. When I looked up I saw the moon still fading in the early blue sky, and it just made me feel tiny. 

Maybe it's okay to feel small and helpless every now and then. The problems of daily life can feel a little less heavy when compared to the rest of the big bad world.

Sometimes the moon only seems bright when compared to the absolute darkness around it. 

It seems that there's just not enough time to do everything I want to do. 
Sometimes I feel so full of love I want to burst, and other times I feel so sorrowful I want to hide under the covers all day. 
Sometimes everything just seems too big, and impossible to reach. 

I'm just one tiny person that hopes to do big things. 

I know that things will start getting brighter, and that my mood will lift back to its normal height of happiness. But right now, I'm just going to accept things as they are. Sometimes I just need to exist where I am at the moment in order to get to where I need to be. For some reason, I find comfort in that. 

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. 

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!