Blog Posts

What’s My Name?

Have you ever really sat and thought about why names are so important?

Historically, last names would tell us what someone did for a living, or even what part of their country they were from.

Royal lineage was honored with the names handed down to them through generations of monarchs and leaders.

Nowadays, names become our image, our calling card, our business. If people know your name, you’re more successful or sometimes you are infamous and less liked. Either way though, those people out there still know your name.

Famous athletes hear their names cheered by thousands of fans in stadiums, or see their names worn on the back of jerseys everywhere.

So, what really is in a name?

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My Name

My twin sister Heather was named after the Heather flower in Scotland, where my dad served his Latter Day Saint Christian mission back in the 70’s. I always used to joke that they had her name picked out, and then just opened a baby name book and looked on the first page and said, “Oh, Alyson is perfect!”

But, it’s just a silly joke. Alyson was my mom’s choice, it was one of her favorite names. Although, for the record, I prefer Aly over Alyson. I feel like I only get called my full name when I’m in trouble.

My middle name is Leigh (pronounced Lee), and Heather’s is Lynn. Our parents wanted us to have twin middle names. I love that my first name and my middle name have unique spellings, especially my middle name. It originates from the Old English surname, which means ‘delicate’ and ‘meadow’. It makes me laugh because I am anything but delicate, but I do love myself a good meadow.

Maughan is my maiden name; my original family name. The name that shaped me through my childhood, and through some of the most important years of my life. I’ve loved being a Maughan, and everything that is connected to the name in my memories and in my heart.

Name Change

When I was dating my ex-husband, I remember telling him all I wanted for Christmas that year was his last name. I was so excited to marry him and to change my last name to his! I do remember feeling a little sad when I changed it legally, letting go of the name that had been a part of me my whole life at that point.

Fast-forward 4 years later, when I was finalizing my divorce. In my decree, it states I can legally go back to my maiden name. However, here I am 2 1/2 years later and I still haven’t changed it.

It might sound strange to most of you, but I hesitated on changing back to my maiden name, because I don’t feel like that person anymore. That name was who I was in the beginning phases of my life, but I felt to an extent that I had outgrown her and couldn’t just go back to being her. Of course I love and cherish the name and everything she went through to get to where I am today, don’t get me wrong; But I don’t feel connected to her anymore.

I also can’t stay connected to the name I changed to when I was married. But I felt stuck and wasn’t sure what to do; or if I could do anything but go back to my maiden name? Was it weird to change it to something completely different and seemingly random

I tabled the thoughts of name changes for awhile, until I received a very unexpected push in the right direction. I finally felt ready to read a book I’d been wanting to read for years; Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I knew it would be a beautiful book, but I waited so long because of her dealing with her own mother’s death would be hard for me to get through because of my own.

If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and do. Her writing is so raw, so genuine, and so painfully honest that it moves and changes you. There were words I felt were written specifically for me, and resonated so deeply in my heart.

One particular part was where she explains how she chose to change her name after her own divorce to a new name, one that she felt connected to; Strayed.

This renewed my own choice to change mine to a different name.

Finding a Name

So, here started my journey a few months ago to try to find a name I felt connected to; a name I would change to. That’s right, I was going to change my last name to something else, something I chose.

Losing control over my entire life while I was married really put me in a tail-spin for years. I’m still trying to pull up out of it completely, but I’ve certainly come a long way. That’s why I want to choose my name. I want to feel in control of who I am, and choose a name that is totally me. And not the “me” from before, the “me” I am today.

I started a running list of words and names that connected with me, that I wanted to consider for my name. Some only resided on the list for short time. Others lasted weeks, others months.

Slowly, but surely, I began to go through each one and cross them out when I knew they weren’t right. I did research on each one; the historical meaning, any bad innuendos associated with them, and even used Google searches to see who else might have that name.

The names that made it to the final round of cuts went through a “Marie Kondo” session, and I thought profoundly about each one with my first name and decided if they brought me joy or not.

Finally, I came to a decision; a name was found.

Wednesday

Yep, Wednesday isn’t just a day of the week anymore. It’s the name I chose.

Sounds random, I know! Keep reading for my explanation:

Tuesday

Our birth mom told us the story about how when she discovered she was pregnant, our birth dad originally said they should name the baby Tuesday. This was of course before they knew we were twins, and before the decision was made to put us up for adoption.

If Tuesday had been the name choice, Heather would have been Tuesday since she was the first born by two minutes. I came out in quite the chaos apparently, feet first and devastating any opportunity they would have had to c-section me (which was the plan.) Apparently I’ve always made my own path even when I was entering this world, and I did so feet first.

Being second born, I like to imagine I would have therefore been Wednesday. Also, funny enough, we were born on an actual Wednesday.

It’s Not What You Think…

No, I did not choose this name because of Wednesday Addams. Although, for the record, I do adore her and her dark humor. The creator of the Addams characters chose the name because of the nursery rhyme that stated, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” I am not filled with woe, however.

In some cultures, including the Akan people of Ghana, they are literally named after the day of the week they were born on. Have more than one child born on the same day of the week? No problem, they also have a second name (like a middle name) to indicate which order they were born in.

But, I’m not changing my first name, just my last name.

What’s My Name

I want to point out that I am not changing my name to insult, hurt, or confuse anyone. This choice is literally just about me, just for me. Like the way I was born into this world, I am going to do what I want, how I want, and when I want.

That is the beauty of this life, our power to choose and our power to have control over our lives. I lost my control once, and I refuse to ever live that way again.

As I said earlier, I loved my maiden name. Being a Maughan will never leave me, it will always be a part of me. I just needed to choose a new name to represent who I am now. I like to think my new name contains my maiden name in spirit, as well as all the names ancestrally before it too. Every name has a purpose, and has a power within it, and I hope to feel all of that as I go forward with a newly named ambitions.

Wednesday Whys

Wednesday in the Bible is the day that the sun and moon were created; if you know me you know how much I love both the sun and the moon, but especially the moon!

In the Hindu calendar, the word for Wednesday is Budhavara . The root of that word is Budha which connotes the planet Mercury, as well as the Hindu deity who is also known as “the son of the moon.” (Not to be confused with Buddha of Buddhism, just to clarify.)

Wednesday is typically seen as the middle of a work week, and I am currently feeling as if I am finally in the middle of my own life’s work. Wednesday suited the work I plan on doing, and what’s coming in the future ahead.

Mercury was the Roman God of several things including travelers, boundaries, luck, communication, and financial gain, is the namesake for the day of the week from the original calendars. (Mercredi is Wednesday in French, Mercoledì in Italian, and Latin is dies Mercurii which translates to “day of Mercury.”) The things Mercury stood for and helped the people accomplish seem right up my alley.

If you’ve ever dabbled into astrology, there are some interesting things surrounding being born on the day of Wednesday: children of Wednesday are restless and questioning, always searching for answers and can’t sit still. They have a message they want to share with the world. Also, their lucky number is 5; my number all through middle school and high school sports was 5, and it’s still my lucky number to this day. Even if you don’t believe in astrology (…which I take it with a grain of salt but do find it very interesting…) it is a crazy coincidence!

While all the meaning behind the word is fascinating to me, what I went most off of was how it made me feel. Did I feel connected to it? Did I feel like this name could become a part of me, help me do the things I want to accomplish, and could I make something admirable of the name?

The more I thought about it, the more it felt right. I had finally after months of debate, found what I had been seeking.

So here I am world: Alyson Wednesday. Or, Aly Wednesday as I prefer.

Hate it or love it, its up to you. You get to choose how you want to react, but your reaction does not change my choice and my love for my new name. Like I said, this was a choice I made just about me, just for me.

I feel like I am finally getting back to my former self. The one who was in control of her life, and on the right path to where I need and want to get. I don’t have the same name as before, but I’m also not that girl anymore.

I’m honestly not sure if I’ll ever change it again; some people have asked me that. When the time comes and I do marry someone else, I’ll decide then what is right for me. I’m not a psychic so I can’t see into the future how I will feel.

Today of all days I chose to write about this, because 6 years ago this was the day my original name was changed (yep… the old wedding anniversary.) I used to feel sadness, or woe I suppose, when this day came around the past 2 years post divorce. But now, I feel inspired by how far I’ve come and how strong and brave I have been to break away from the things that were holding me back, and allow myself to be myself again. I was broken apart and lost myself under the guise of that name I took on, and I will never, ever be in that place again. With the new name I feel a new beginning. I have so much life ahead of me, I’ll never feel sadness again on this day. Only hope, and a future ahead of me.

I am a newly born woman; once again venturing out on the path of my choice, feet first. It may not be a literal Wednesday, but everyday is a Wednesday from now on for me.

My life, my choices,  my name, and my own beautiful journey. This is what life is meant to be!

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Help Find a Cure for ALS

My Uncle Seth is one of my biggest heroes.

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From Left to Right: Seth, Ellie, Jayne, Amy, Jake (Not pictured is their oldest son Sam)

I only met him about 4 1/2 years ago; he is married to my biological Aunt Amy. When my sister and I found our birth mom, we were introduced to her entire family including Seth and Amy and their adorable kids.

Seth was diagnosed 8 years ago (in 2010) with ALS , which is a degenerative disease that affects the muscular and nervous system.

He jumped to action, and co-founded ALS Crowd Division of the CrowdCare Foundation. ALS Crowd helps aggregate and share the latest research and allows patients to connect with one another; it also offers information about treatment options and supports research and development of new ALS clinical trials.

Beyond being one of the funniest, wittiest, most poetic, and kindest people in my life, he is also one of the bravest. And I find so much strength and inspiration through him and his family members more than I think they will ever know.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go meet up with them in Portugal, along with my biological grandparents and my other biological Aunt Debbie, as they embarked on an international adventure to further their reach with ALS Crowd collaborating with Project MinE. I jumped on the chance to spend time with them there.

Being around them, and feeling their positive energy and light, and seeing the good work and progress they are making in the medical world with ALS research truly is remarkable. It makes me want to do more and help them with their cause!

If you are wanting to know more about ALS Crowd or Project MinE click on either linked site to check out their initiatives and to see how you can help!

To Seth, Amy, Sam, Ellie, Jayne, and Jake: Thank you all for being the incredible humans that you are. Your light, your love, and your courageous hearts inspire me (and I know so many, many others!) to do more, to be more, to make this world a better place by any means possible. I am proud to know you, I am proud to call you family.

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Dollar Flight Club

If you’re anything like me, you dream and fantasize about traveling more than anything else!

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Sintra, Portugal

For years I wasted so much time NOT traveling, because I was worried about spending the money, and taking the time to search for flights. It all seemed like so much effort and I honestly was scared!

But thats the thing about dreams… they have to scare us a little bit! If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be worth dreaming about in the first place!

The Road Less Traveled… Literally.

Here’s where that sinking feeling of FOMO or regret comes in; thinking about all the amazing traveling and exploring I could have already been doing!

If I only knew what I know today, I could have checked off so many more places on my world bucket list!

And what is it that I know? Keep reading below as I share my (not so secret) ways that you can make your travel dreams a reality… and spend less money doing it!!!

Dollar Flight Club

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The secret is literally in the name of this organization : Dollar Flights! Meaning, you will save so many dollars booking your flights through them!

Now you might be asking yourself, “Is this for real?” or “Will I really be able to save up to $500 on international flights?”

The answer is YES. Seriously!

Dollar Flight Club is an incredible, not to mention EASY, way to save on thousands of flights around the world!

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Lisbon, Portugal

How It Works

Dollar Flight Club is a flight deal alert subscription service that helps 500,000+
people save money on airfare. Subscribers save over $500 USD per international
ticket on average. The goal is to help subscribers see more of the world and enjoy
experiences they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise!

Easier than checking a bag my friends!

Dollar Flight Club does all the work for you, searching various sources online to find the best deals, which get sent directly to you in your inbox. Literally, your next trip is just a click away!

Why Pick Premium?

So now you might be wondering about whether or not you need the Premium account, as opposed to just sticking with the basic free one.

Honestly, both are great options! Either way, you will be getting amazing flight deals to help make your travel dreams a reality.

BUT… here are a few major reasons why you should consider going Premium.

The Premium Perks

-Every single flight deal for your departure airport… Which means 4x more than Free   Members, and you’ll be more likely to find a flight that works for you!
– The option to filter by specific departure airport(s).
– 4x mistake fares and secret deals (And mistake fares are a MAJOR KEY to traveling for less!)
– Instant SMS text alerts
– Get deal alerts first, before free members
– No ads (just straight flight deals)
– Premium Membership Partner Perks

See? Premium is where it’s at, and I think it’s about time you #treatyoself and sign up today!

Join Dollar Flight Club Now

Joining Dollar Flight Club has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in 2019. Not only that, it’s helped me truly make traveling the world a reality!So what are you waiting for? Do you not want to see the places you’ve been dreaming of? Do you not like saving money on flights that you can spend instead on the incredible things you’ll see and do around the globe?

My friends, join me as I seriously start checking off my entire bucket list! Sign up with Dollar Flight Club, I promise you won’t regret it. You have money to save and the world to see!

Pack you bags, buckle your seat belts, and airplane mode on!

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Sagres, Portugal

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Sign up today with Dollar Flight Club

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Free New Years Resolution Templates

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Photography: Ryan Gordon 

It’s that time again – where one year ends and another is just about to begin!

There is nothing more refreshing or rejuvenating than a fresh start, am I right? A clean slate,  a new beginning. A new year, a new you!

Last year I wrote all about my New Years resolution here. But for this year? Well, I have a lot of changes up my sleeves and I will have to reveal those later to you all! 🙂

But when the time comes for you to actually decide on what it is that you want to resolve to do this year, you’ll need a good way to remind yourself about your goals!

And my friends, that’s where I’ve come in!

Below are some cute and functional downloads of New Years Resolution templates! With 5 different styles and designs, you can pick the one that best fits your personality, your goals; or you can even print them all! I don’t care what you do or how you do it… just make some goals and make them happen!

What I’m doing with mine is printing it, writing my resolutions, and then hanging it on my bathroom mirror so I am reminded everyday of my goals. You can put it anywhere you want; just as long as you take the time to figure out whatever it is that you want to do in 2019.

Dream big this year! I feel like this will be my best year yet, and I can’t wait to hear what you’re all planning on accomplishing! Share with me your resolutions, I would love to hear them.

And, stay tuned for mine!

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NYE Coral Glitter

NYE Pink Glitter

NYE Sparklers

NYE Succulents

NYE World Map

 

**Directions for Download**: Simply click on one (or all) of the links above to choose which design best suits you! From there, you can either download it to your computer, or simply just print it out! Easy peasy guys! 🙂

 

Home Is In My Heart

I recently went on a trip back home – to the Philadelphia suburbs where I grew up!

I haven’t been able to go back for almost 3 years, and I have been aching for it so much.

So, when I managed to find a $250 RT ticket from Salt Lake (absolutely unheard of!) I jumped on it and was on my way!

Her Heart Is In Our Hearts

I spent my first night back in Wallingford, PA with my mom’s best friend and her husband. We spent hours catching up, and reminiscing about my mom and all of our memories from when we all lived down the street from one another. We laughed a lot, and we cried a lot too.

I needed that, I desperately needed to spend that time with her and feel as if my mom were in the room with us too, laughing at the old stories and remembering all the good times. Being around her, I feel so close to my mom because she carries a huge piece of my mom inside her heart and I needed to be close to that for even just a few hours; it was so healing and so vital.

My heart felt a little less heavy from sorrow and a little more full of joy after I spent that time with them.

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The Court House in Media, Pennsylvania all decked out for the holidays 

Holidays are the Hardest

After Thanksgiving, my heart has been holding this heavy sadness for my mom – I mean, I miss her all the time but the holiday season is always just a little bit harder. After dinner was done and all of my siblings and I left my Dad’s house, I went home alone. But, instead of going straight home and putting on some holiday movie by myself, I decided to take a detour and go visit my mom in the cemetery.

I brought her a Diet Coke like I always do, because it was her drink of choice. It was freezing, about 29 degrees and it was very dark except for the few grave-sites that had lighted fixtures on them around me on the hill.

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Cheers Mom. Miss you everyday.

There in the darkness I cried – and not just some tears, I full on ugly cried. I felt pathetic, but I think I needed to let it out and feel my grief in that moment. Sometimes I try to hold it all in and just deal with it, when in reality I need to own my pain and my sadness and feel it – really feel it. Because the reason it hurts so damn much is because I loved her, so damn much. And that love will never change.

My House

The next day before meeting up with a friend, I had to go see my childhood house. I can’t  go to the place I grew up and NOT go see my house!

I drove down the familiar roads, not even needing GPS even though I haven’t lived there for 15 years; it is all just so deeply ingrained and I remember it all!

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I will never forget this house!

Finally pulling up to my house, I pulled the car over across the street and just stared at it. I wanted to go knock on the door and ask if I could go see the inside of it, but I didn’t want the people who live there (in MY house) to think I was some kind of crazy person.

So, instead, I sat across the street and admired it, remembering so many memories as they all rushed over me. I lived there from 18 months to 18 years old, so almost half of my life! Remembering the girl who lived in that front window, she seemed like such a ghost compared to the girl sitting in the car now.

Feeling so sentimental, and still missing my mom and my family being all together for so many years in that place, I was suddenly crying there on the side of the road. And I’m sure anyone driving by must have thought something was wrong; but I mean, wasn’t there?

And one man actually was worried, and he stopped his car next to mine and waved me to roll my window down. He was a gray haired older man with an incredibly kind smile, although his eye full of concern.

“Are you ok sweetheart?” he asked in his thick Delco accent.

“Oh… yep! I’m Okay, thank you!” I responded, feeling stupid for crying on the side of the road trying my best to wipe my face.

“Are you lost? Can I help you with directions somewhere?” He offered.

I wanted to respond no, because I knew where I was and where I needed to go, but in the moment I responded, “You know, I am a little lost. But I think I can find my way.”

“We all get lost from time to time, but remember there is always someone around that can help you find where you need to go!”

After profusely convincing him I was ok, he drove off, but his words stayed with me.

Lost But Not Forever

I stayed there in front of my old house for awhile, just thinking about life.

That man’s kindness and his words meant more to me that I think he could have known in those moments we spoke.

The truth is, we are all lost sometimes – but not forever. And we even lose pieces of ourselves too – but they aren’t lost forever either; not always.

And just like that kind man said, there is always someone around who can help us find where we need to go.

Finding My Way Back

This trip home for me, I hoped would help me recover pieces of myself that I have lost. This town, and area, was where I was raised, where I figured out the beginnings of who I was and what I wanted.

Important steps and parts of myself were created and developed here; some of my most painful memories also culminated there. But you need the hard times to help you see your own strength and resilience, and to appreciate the good times more.

Going back to your home – to your roots wherever they may be – is important. It is an necessary place to return to occasionally, to feel that part of yourself again. If it’s been lost, you can try to replace it where it all started.

Or if there are painful things associated with your home, you can also go to face those old demons and finally let them go. This is also an important step on the road to self-discovery.

Home Is In My Heart

I ended that portion of my trip to the east coast with a dinner in Media with 3 of my closest girlfriends from high school.

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We laughed, reminisced, and caught up with each other. I hardly ever get to see them, and every time I do it is magical and so healing to my heart. I am continually grateful that we are all still friends and keep in touch, even though we live so far apart.

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3 of the best women on the planet

That night as I lay in bed I thought of that old saying:

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

And as sappy as I always used to think it is, it is so valid and so true; especially now that I live so far from the place I consider home.

My home is inside my heart, I carry it with me everywhere. My friends, my family, the places I hold such fond memories of, the ones I’ve loved and the ones I’ve lost too; they’re all in there in my heart.

So maybe in a way I’m not really lost, I think those pieces of myself are still in there inside me, they’ve just become buried under everything else that I’ve been facing and dealing with.

But my home, the place where the real “me” resides, is always with me in my heart.

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Walking through Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA

 

Show Some Compassion

Do you know what the word compassion means? We throw it around often.. but do you really know what it is?

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Showing compassion for someone or something is literally showing your humanity for them, loving them and caring for them like we all should be doing anyway!

WCD

Today is World Compassion Day, which was started to help make changes towards how all creatures big and small are treated on this planet.

The first WCD was on November 28, 2012, and according to Wikipedia:

The first WCD was held in Mumbai, India in the presence of the 14th Dalai Lama on 28 November 2012. It focused on the need for compassion towards animals and all living things on this planet. It brought to India, Humane Society International, an organization that works in the area of animal welfare.

What an incredible way to maintain kindness towards all the creatures existing on this planet with us!

How to Show Your Own Compassion

In honor of World Compassion Day, and how much I love all the creatures of the earth, I wanted to give you guys some options as to how you can help! Here are some conservation, preservation, and support organization geared specifically towards animals!

The Ellen Degeneres WildLife Fund

Click here to head to the website to check it out fully, and to donate to this wonderful cause to help save the gorillas!

Here is the mission statement as stated on the website homepage:

The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund was established to support global conservation efforts for critically endangered species. Building a permanent home for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the first initiative of the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund. This project will permanently secure the future of wild gorillas in Rwanda by building on successful field conservation efforts, while empowering the people living near the gorillas to thrive in relationship to their own ecosystem.

In 1967, Dr. Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda’s Virunga mountains to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas.  Although Fossey’s life was cut short, her work lives on in the people and programs of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and its continuing conservation success story.

World Wide Fund For Nature

Click here to check out their website, and to donate by adopting an animal!

From their website:

Support WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats with a symbolic species adoption.

Project Aware

Click here to read more about their conservation efforts in our oceans around the world!

From their homepage:

Today, Project AWARE is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers. We connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation to create lasting change.

Supported by this growing movement, we envision a world where the ocean doesn’t need protecting. Our local actions collectively protect the most vulnerable marine species and decrease pollution. We work together for a clean, healthy ocean – and we have fun doing it! Join the adventure!

Wildlife Conservation Society

Click here to donate and help conserve habitats around the globe that are threatened!

From their website stating their mission:

WCS’s goal is to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 16 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world’s biodiversity.

This is outlined in our 2020 strategy, which positions WCS to maintain its historic focus on the protection of species while developing an ambitious plan to engage with a rapidly changing world.

The challenges are greater than ever, but with the focus, dedication, and passion of a committed staff—combined with a unique mixture of field, zoo, and aquarium expertise—WCS will continue to set the bar for science, conservation action, and education that has driven our success in protecting wildlife and wild places for over a century. We hold ourselves to the highest standards, adhering to core values of respect, accountability and transparency, innovation, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, and integrity.

The Humane Society of the United States

Click here to donate and help save all local animals in shelters as well as wild animals living around you!

Their mission statement to help animals:

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s most effective animal protection organization. With you by our side, we take on the big fights to end suffering for all animals.

Save the Animals

At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: compassion. We each need to do our part to love one another to make this world a better place: human to human, and human to animal too.

We are all co-existing on this planet, so why not make it a better place for all of us to be in? Love makes everything bearable, and better. So show some love today for those creatures who need our help!

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Face to face with one of the beautiful gorillas in the volcano mountains of Rwanda this past summer 

 

 

World Kindness Day

What does kindness mean to you?

Maybe it’s a hug from a loved one when you’re having a bad day. A phone call from a friend just to say hi and check in. A card in the mail from someone you haven’t heard for in awhile (OMG what’s snail mail gasps every millennial reading this!) A nice compliment from a co-worker, or even someone holding the door for you.

Go a little bit further though; what else is kindness?

It’s donating blankets, and winter coats to the homeless. Offering your time to help with a charity organization. Bringing a meal to someone who is having a rough week or is recovering from surgery. Kindness is more than just praying for someone (which is also great); it’s going and checking on them, bringing them food or assisting them with babysitting if they need it. Offering someone a ride to and from the airport just because you can and you care. It’s actually asking them about their life, and then actually listening while they tell you. It’s giving someone a ride home, buying their lunch, or bringing them a plant as a gift; all just for the sake of kindness.

Kindness is so many things, and can be done in so many ways. But the bottom line, the common factor and structural foundation of it all, is love. Kindness is love.

World Kindness Day

Today, November 13, is World Kindness Day. The purpose of having a day set aside for it, is to highlight the good deeds being done around the world for others.

Think about how negative, scary, and just overwhelming things in the news tend to be lately. Pretty much sucks, right?

Something like world kindness is great, because it can give us a positive perspective again on the ability we as humans actually have to be nice and giving to one another for a change.

So let’s focus on being kind to one another! Let’s be good humans!

Be Kind Today

I will keep today’s post short and sweet, but I leave you with some homework; go out today and do as many kind deeds as you can!

Here are some great resources from The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, of ideas of things you can go do!

And it doesn’t have to be some big, showy, flashy thing; you could literally just pay for someone’s order behind you in the drive-thru today. Or hold the door for someone and smile and say hello!

Also, keep this kindness thing going; don’t just do it for one day and then go back to being a troll. Try to be nice everyday!

Next week instead of going crazy shopping on Black Friday, instead have it be Random Acts of Kindness Day!

And Random Acts of Kindness Week is officially February 17- 22.

Most importantly, just choose to be kind today; and everyday! Be kind always.

Tell me in the comments some kind acts you did today I would love to hear all about them and get the warm fuzzies!

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Life Cleanse

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If you knew something was going to make you sick, or potentially kill you, aka its toxic, would you drink it anyway?

I’m hoping all of you answered no!

So, with that out-of-the-way here’s another question: if you’re willing to avoid ingesting toxic things, then why are you not willing to cut out or avoid other toxic things in your life as well?

There are so many aspects of our lives these days that have become toxic, yet we continue to subject ourselves to them everyday. But why?!

Think about it this way, with my little analogy:

You have an amazing car that you treat like it’s your first-born child. And in this car you spend a little extra to only fill it with the expensive premium gas.

Why then, are you not willing to fill yourself with ‘premium’ too? Premium relationships that uplift you and support you, premium food that nourishes your body and makes you healthy, or premium use of your time instead of wasting it on things or people who don’t matter?

We must detox ourselves from the things that are slowly poisoning our lives, and opt to live a more premium lifestyle.

So here’s my own personal guide on how to detox your life! Keep reading for more 🙂

Identify the Toxins

In order to cleanse your life, you have to know what exactly is toxifying it!

So here are 8 of the most common toxic things in our lives to help you figure out yours:

  1. Harmful friendships
  2. Unhealthy eating habits
  3. Unfulfilling career
  4. Clutter : in your house, your closet, your car etc.
  5. All work and no play
  6. Social media addiction
  7. Wanting what you can’t have
  8. Negative self-talk

Now that you have an idea of what the toxins in your life are, here is a run through of how you can go about cleansing them from your system!

Harmful Friendships

It’s true that we as humans are genetically social creatures, and we have filled our lives with friendships and relationships to fulfill our constant need for communication and interaction; among of course, other needs.

Sometimes, however, these relationships can become negative and even harmful. It happens, not every egg is a good one. Think about the golden eggs from Willy Wonka, the bad eggs happened every so often and needed to be disposed of down the garbage shoots. So, it’s time to dispose of the bad eggs in your own life!

A friend should be someone who loves you and supports you no matter what. The people you can call day or night with your problems, your concerns, your funny stories, and your tears. After all, your friends are the family that you get to choose!

So, why would you choose to be friends with someone who isn’t good for you?

Maybe they’re fun sometimes, and invite you to cool parties or every once in awhile do something nice for you. But, if they are not making you feel good, supported, loved, or happy why bother letting them in?

A bad friend is someone who talks about you behind your back, or even talks badly to your face and cuts you down. They use you for your friendship, and only take from you what they want and need; and they never reciprocate. They are fair-weather friends, who only come around when they need something from you and that’s all.

Listen people, this isn’t elementary school where we have to send Valentines cards to everyone in our class, or invite everyone to our birthday parties because it’s the right thing to do; we are adults now and ain’t nobody got time for people who aren’t good for us!

So do yourself a favor and cut those people from your life who are not good for you! Yes, it is important to be kind, always! But this also means you need to be kind to yourself; so they have got to go.

Unhealthy Eating Habits

This one is a tough one – trust me, I know!

But back to my car analogy : why not put premium fuel into your body like you do with your vehicle?

The old saying “you are what you eat” is so much more valid than any of us want to admit on those days that we binge on chocolate, donuts, and all the breads. But, despite our denial, what we eat greatly affects everything inside of us!

Unhealthy eating habits can zap your energy, and also cause you to have trouble sleeping! Quite the bad combination!

Bad food choices can also obviously make you gain weight, hurt your heart, cause depression and anxiety, and overall just make you feel sluggish.

Reading all of that, you can’t honestly be OK with any of those consequences, am I right?

But like I said, I get it! Eating healthy alllll the time is hard! But trying to eat healthy as much as possible, and allowing certain times where you can indulge in treats or having a “cheat meal” is the better route to go.

Start by writing out a meal plan, and trying to stick to it! And schedule the day you’re going to have your cheat meal, to give you something to look forward to!

Eating healthy does not have to be boring or bland either; it can still be incredibly delicious and satisfying! Some of my favorite recipes come from the Whole30 cookbooks, which you can find all of those here. Or, get creative and find a new healthy recipe you want to try on Pinterest or from a friend!

Start fueling your body with the premium healthy food that it needs, and cleanse yourself from all the toxins that unhealthy eating habits can add! The higher quality the fuel, the more miles the vehicle will go 😉

Unfulfilling Career

Now this is one that I personally can testify to. Working in a job or field where you find no fulfillment or passion for is soooo exhausting and demotivating.

It’s hard enough to go to work everyday, but having an unfulfilling job makes that 1000 times worse.

If you find yourself in this situation, take a real serious look into what it is you really want to do with your life and your career.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your long term goals for your career?
  • What makes you feel fulfilled?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What are you strengths in a career choice?

After you figure some of those answers out, start looking into what it is you really want to do. Look up jobs, research career options, or even school!

Me? My current dream is to work in the humanitarian field full time. I’ve been researching some schools I could go to to receive a Master’s in global humanities. It will be a lot of work, and most definitely will involve me moving to a different state (or even a different country!) but if I dream big enough I can make it become my reality.

Just like you can! Figure out what you really want to do, and make it happen.

Clutter

We all have it. Its everywhere: in our kitchens, our basements, our bedrooms, our cars, and especially in our closets. CLUTTER!

Have you seen those shows where they go into someone’s home who is a hard-core hoarder?? Now I know most of us are not that extremely infected by clutter, but even just a small amount of clutter and mess can affect our everyday lives.

Compare it to your mind: if you mind is bombarded and crowded with lots of different, and mostly meaningless thoughts, it has trouble focusing on the things that it needs to! Well, the same goes for everywhere we live, work, and exist in.

If there is clutter, it can subconsciously cause stress and anxiety, make you feel lazy and less motivated, and honestly it makes you less desirable sometimes.

Have you heard that saying that says something like “dress for the job you want?” Well, create your space for the life you want to live!

Anytime my room is a mess, I feel like my life is also a mess. When I’m clean, organized, and have no clutter; my life reflects that as well.

Do yourself a solid and de-clutter! Start small, and little by little your entire life will be made-over!

All Work and No Play

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Or, Aly a dull girl.

This proverb, whose origination is unclear, basically is saying if all you do is work and you never take time to relax or do other things you love; your life will be dull and you will be bored and/or boring.

Think about Rhianna’s song Work. The lyrics are so monotonous, basically saying over and over again “work work work work work.” And Rhianna herself couldn’t sound any more bored as she slurs those words in the song! Right?? All work makes even Rhianna a dull girl.

My point is, it’s great to be a hard-working and motivated person; but you also need to take the time for you! Otherwise your work can become toxic to your happiness.

Go do your favorite hobbies, relax and read, go hiking, go to the gym; whatever makes you happy!

Bottom line: take the time for “you” time! Because who wants to live a dull life? I’m pretty sure no-one!

Social Media Addiction

I know I just wrote a whole post about my social media fast here. But I could definitely go on and on about how important it is to break our very real addictions to social media.

Obviously, there are some very great and useful reasons for social media!

On the other hand, there are also some bad things that stem from it as well.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and unfortunately it’s hard to not compare your life to everyone’s seemingly perfect and fun life as you scroll through your feeds. I mean, who are these young attractive people with perfect bodies, who only ever seem to go on vacations and travel??

Well, the truth is no one wants to post the nitty-gritty and bad parts of our lives for the world to see; we want to post beautiful, fun, well edited, and cleverly captioned photos.

So we don’t see the truth.

As soon as we can realize reality versus what is posted on social media, then it can still be something we can keep in our lives. But that’s definitely a distinction you need to make clear within yourself!

Also, it’s addicting as hell! Literally it has become a habit for me to pick up my phone and open Instagram or Facebook without even thinking!

And what an incredible time-waster too! There have been moments, I will admit, where I will open a funny video of a cute dog or some sort of animal, and end up scrolling for almost an hour in a feed of animal videos before I even realize it! Like HELLO! Addicted. But don’t judge me… I know y’all are obsessed with the cute animal videos just like I am 😉

We have to make efforts to cut ourselves off from social media. After my fast of 7 days, I made it a goal to only get on social media during certain hours of the day, and the rest of the day I’m forbidden to look at them.

It’s tough, I won’t lie, but it makes SUCH a difference!

Go ahead and try it, or do a full fast/cleanse of your own! You’ll realize how toxic social media can become, and how much better you’ll feel when you break your addiction.

Wanting What You Can’t Have

Story of my life.

Story of anyone’s life who is dating, has dated, or will someday date.

Story of … well, long story short, of everyone in the world relating to just about anything!

Why do we always want what we can’t have? I honestly think its just a defense mechanism embedded within our DNA to keep us driven; to keep us wanting more and chasing bigger and better dreams.

But, the downfall is sometimes we can end up lusting for things that we can never have; and in some cases, shouldn’t ever have.

It’s ok to dream and to have a goal to achieve something you want, or to try to date someone you really like. BUT, it is not healthy to obsess and lust after something so intensely and so badly when it is something that you may never reach.

Knowing the difference, and having a healthy balance of wanting what you can’t have opposed to what you can have. Just don’t let the appeal of wanting what you can’t have poison your happiness! It’s like baking with vanilla extract; a little bit can perfectly flavor your life, but too much and it’s toxic!

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a tough habit to break. That ugly, self-doubting, and ruthless bully in my head started in my early teenage years and still reappears every so often to cut me down. We can be our own worst critics, and it can poison our self-confidence!

Something I have learned to do to help silence the negative voice, is positive affirmations. Sounds cheesy, but they honestly work!

I like to read positive affirmations every morning when I wake up, to help start off my day with positive and motivating thoughts. I really believe that however you spend the first 20 minutes when you wake up can set the tone for the rest of the day!

Here’s a good one I focused on this morning:

I have survived every negative experience in my lifetime so far. I have not only survived, I have thrived.

To heal from any hurt, I must feel every emotion that I need to go through.

I never push my feelings down or try to cover them up. I face them, sit with them, learn and grow from them.

I find my strength through love. I am strong and so very powerful.

Try it out tomorrow morning! Find a positive affirmation, or something uplifting and inspiring, and read it and ponder on it when you first wake up. Let me know what you read in the comments!

The Life Cleanse

Try to figure out even just one or two things in your life that are becoming toxic waste to you, and are affecting you more deeply than you may even realize.

Cleansing your life from things that do you nothing but harm is so important. Take the time to remove things that are poisoning your happiness, and move forward in a new chapter in your life!

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Crystal Clear

In my recent searchings for ways to help heal myself emotionally from the trauma and things I have been through, I wanted to research and look into crystals.

Now, I know what you might be thinking; because it was probably exactly what I used to think about crystals, or anyone who talked about them in a healing way: that is sounded weird!

My first encounter with crystals was back when I was 12 years old in Pennsylvania. My mom was struggling in her early fight with her cancer, and had been in the hospital for a few weeks. My sister and I were home alone after school one day while our Dad was at the hospital with our mom, and there was a knock at the door. It was a woman from our local church, one who had a bit of a quirky way about her, and many thought she was a bit odd. I mean, she was, but she meant well and was a very kind woman.

So here she was, asking how our mom was doing, and then offered some healing crystals to help her. My sister and I declined, not really knowing what to think, but I remember almost wanting to laugh because it sounded so crazy at the time.

Crystals? Really??

Well, yeah! Crystals… really!

Looking For Clarity

Now, don’t get me wrong – I do not in any way think that crystals can actually heal something big like cancer. Modern medicine from professional doctors can never be replaced.

BUT – what I do think is that there are some healing properties from these beautiful little stones.

Crystals have been around since the creation of the earth – in fact, quartz still makes up about 12% of the earth’s crust just to give an example. If you think about it, we are all essentially made up of all the same matter and particles to some extent, everything in the universe is; and everything including ourselves, the stars, and these crystals shares these vibrational energies. So who is to say we can’t connect with these energies and similar particles, and use them to heal?

Crystals have been used in civilizations for centuries as jewelry, protective talismans, and for healing purposes. I’m pretty sure there’s a reason we continue to be drawn to the mysticism behind them.

Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve never used crystals before, it is a little easier than you may think to use them for healing.

It can be as simple as wearing one everyday as a ring or on a necklace, or carrying one with you in your pocket. You can even place them in different rooms that you want to feel specific energies or vibes from.

When you are wanting to dive a little deeper in to crystals, you can start meditating with them. As you hold them and close your eyes, you can focus your thoughts on your intentions; what energies do you want the crystal to detox from you, and what do you want to gain from that particular crystal (each one does something different.)

Choosing a Crystal

Now comes the part where you decide which crystals you want or need.

The first time I went to buy some, I went to my favorite local shop called Dancing Cranes in Sugarhouse, which is a suburb of Salt Lake City.

I decided to just walk around, and see where I felt inspired to go to. This place is filled with tables and displays with every crystal and stone you can think of, so it can seem a little overwhelming. However, since I was just letting the energies guide me I ended up finding some stones that have become very useful to me.

So, I’ve decided to throw together a short list of 6 Healing Crystals for those of you just starting out, to help guide you towards what you may be looking for. These 6 stones are all ones that I personally have been drawn to; but remember there are thousands out there! This is just to give you a quick glimpse into the world of crystals.

6 Healing Crystals

Rose Quartz

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This is known as a love crystal, or one that specifically helps to heal your heart

  • Helps attract love
  • Protects relationships
  • Heals your broken heart / heart ache
  • Balances your heart chakra

Tiger Eye

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One of the best stones to help ground you

  • Open’s your mind’s eye to more awareness and understanding
  • Stress relief
  • Helps you feel balanced and centered
  • Eliminates depression and promotes optimism

Amethyst

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A very calming and balancing crystal

  • Helps your soul feel more spiritually in tune with
  • Enhances intuition
  • Brings peace
  • Calms your thoughts to help bring focus and clarity

Black Tourmaline

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A powerful stone used to expel negativity

  • Supports emotional stability and strength
  • Grounds your true life’s purpose in your heart

Quartz Crystal

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One of the oldest and most widely used crystals around the world

  • Purifying
  • Bring awareness and clarity
  • Mind stimulations

Moonstone

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Called “Chandrakarta” in India, which means “beloved by the moon.” Can come in several types of colors and variations.

  • Harbors the energy of the moon and  all the new potentials of the future
  • Promotes inner growth and strength
  • Represents feminine energy, or divine energy
  • This stone symbolizes new beginnings

Everything is Crystal Clear

Do yourself a favor, and try it out. I mean, honestly what’s the worst that could happen? You’ll feel nothing and you’ll have some cool stones you can leave on display somewhere around your place, right?

Or… you could really get something amazing out of your experience! And then this incredible way to promote healing, strength, and rejuvenation will be opened to you!

Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone and try something new, and if you do I want to hear about it!!

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Fall(ing) Fast

One would hope that the title of the event would actually indicate that the experience would move rather quickly; but this is never the case with a “fast” of any kind,  I have come to find out.

I am no stranger to fasting – every first Sunday of the month I participate in a 12 hour-24 hour fast (depending however long my poor hypo-glycemic body can do without food…) with the members of my church congregation.

However, when I contemplated trying out a 10 Day social media fast, I felt like it could be a good thing for me. And I hoped, naively, that it would go quickly and I would finish it and say something dumb and whimsical like, “Oh man, it’s already been 10 days? That sure went fast!” (stupid dad jokes, I know…)

Well, clearly I was wrong. That social media fast was more difficult for me than I want to admit. However, some really great things happened because of it too.

Keep reading to see just how it went, and what I learned (and accomplished) without my beloved social media.

7>10

So, for starters, I did not make it the 10 days like I had hoped to do. In the beginning I was like “I got this! 10 days is nothing!” But, after 4 1/2 days I was really struggling. In fact I had to end up deleting the apps off my phone until after the fast so I wasn’t tempted to look at them!

It was almost scary to realize what a habit it was to just open my phone and click open either Instagram or Facebook. I kept accidentally doing it without even realizing it, then would have to hurry and close out of it.

But, once I removed the actual apps from my phone, it was easier to not look at them.

Granted, I definitely still felt that void. I constantly would wonder, “I wonder what so-and-so is doing today” and absent-mindedly go to check their stories. It was a learning curve for sure without it.

But, I am proud to say that for 7 days I was about 99% social media free (the first 3 days I was legit 100% free from it… the rest of the week there were a few times I peaked and broke my fast…)

But even so, I feel pretty good about even doing it as long as I did!

To Do List

I noticed on the first day (last Monday) that I had a lot more “free time” on my hands now that I couldn’t steal glances or waste a few minutes here and there scrolling through social media.

So, I started checking things off of a personal to-do list that is on my phone; mostly things I want to achieve as goals, or things I want to look into pursuing.

Here is a brief list of the things I accomplished without social media this past week:

  1. Looked into Grad School, and started researching my financial options
  2. Completed an online training video series that has been sitting in my inbox for weeks!
  3. Started officially planning my next international adventure
  4. Finished 1 1/2 books (which is huge considering I have a giant stack waiting for me to finish on my nightstand)
  5. Wrote 4 whole chapters in my novel
  6. Re-branded my blog
  7. Also, planned out and made an actual calendar of things I want to blog about (crazy I know!)
  8. Reprioritized my life goals (which means I made a new To-Do list, but I cut some things out and added some new things too!)
  9. Finally finished the recent season of The Walking Dead on Netflix! Now I can watch the new episodes airing on tv! 🙂

I mean.. I literally was more productive than I have been in a long time!

Beyond feeling productive, here are other side-effects I felt during my social media cleanse:

  1. I made it a goal to get to bed early every night; by 930 or 10! And guess what? I did it! I also fell asleep easier, faster, and woke up before my alarm every morning! What kind of sorcery is this social media fast stuff anyway…
  2. I noticed I had more energy. Probably from the extra sleep!
  3. I felt less stressed
  4. I noticed I felt more confident
  5. I felt more motivated than ever to attain my biggest dreams
  6. Overall, I felt happier! (Even though I would complain about missing social media.. I’m not perfect people!)

It was interesting to see how I felt without constantly scrolling through photos of the so called ‘perfect’ lives we all try to show on there (and I do it too!) I think we tend to get into the mindset of comparing ourselves to everyone we see on there, even if we don’t realize we are doing so.

And comparison is the thief of joy… right? If we live our lives comparing it to everyone else, we will never be happy or satisfied with what we have!

I have to assume I felt less stressed, because I didn’t spend my time wishing I was out there going on adventures and already fulfilling my dreams, like so many of the Instagram accounts I follow. Instead of stressing and wishing I could be doing it, I made a real game plan and started doing the work to hopefully get there myself!

Your world won’t change unless you yourself change it!

Fall Back

The big question is, will I ever do a social media fast again?

And the answer is – yes.

I don’t know if I will do another one for quite as long as this one, but I want to continue to take breaks every now and then, to recalibrate my “reality” and make sure I am on track with my own goals and dreams.

In the past month, Utah has become emblazoned by the fall changing colors. A few weeks ago I was able to hike up to Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

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Two weekends ago I made it up into American Fork Canyon here in Utah, on the famous “Alpine Loop” to go explore and admire the gorgeous leaves changing colors for fall.

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Finding a deeper symbolism from the fall leaves and the new seasonal weather (of course):

– Fall represents preservation of life: as animals store food and prepare for the winter

– The colored leaves represents life changes

 – Trees shedding the leaves represents letting go

Thinking about these, I definitely don’t want to “fall back” into my bad habits. I instead want to fall forward, going head first into my endeavors.

Preservation of life is simply having a plan to continue to do what I love, and make my dreams a reality through hard work, and storing up as much of my free time for those goals.

Life changes also correlate with changing my priorities, to do what matters first, and start cutting out the things that end up wasting my time.

Letting go of old ideals, old memories, old notions… it’s definitely the hardest of the three for me. But sometimes letting go leads us to the new places we need to go, and to the new person we need to become.

Make It Fast

This whole social media fast become a much deeper concept to me than I realized it would; and I really am glad I decided to do it!

I can whole heartedly recommend anyone to try it, even if it’s just for one day. Or even make goals to be on it only during certain times of the day.

I dare you to try it! And please write me in the comments or email me and let me know how it went for you and what you learned!

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