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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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! 🙂

 

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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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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#sorrynotsorry

Why do we live in a world where we constantly feel like we need to say sorry?

“Sorry I’m late”

“Sorry I missed your call”

“Sorry for if what I said offended you”

“Sorry for telling the truth”

“Sorry I made a mistake”

“Sorry I’m not good enough”

“Sorry I can’t afford that”

“Sorry I can’t make it”

I mean, the list can obviously go on and on.

Why do we say sorry so often? Why has this become a core factor in our communication?

The Bad Day

I started thinking about this the other night, Monday night, after I had an epically frustrating and awful day. It was one of those days where everything seems to go wrong, and the universe seems particularly focused on making you suffer. Things had also been building up for a few days that had been wearing on me, and finally it just broke me.

Because of everything seeming to go wrong, and that had built up, I ended up being in the worst mood. I was easily defeated and frustrated, and had the worst attitude about everything. I snapped at people. To say the least, I was not the most pleasant person that day.

After such a day like that, I felt like I had been an emotional tornado ripping through everything and everyone I had crossed paths with, and I felt this intense guilt and need to apologize for being in such a foul mood and having had the worst attitude.

Later that night, I was hanging out with a few girlfriends and one in particular brought up the subject of how we as a society, especially women, feel the need to apologize too often and when its not even necessary.

She said something so simple yet so profound, and I thought about it so much since then:

Don’t apologize for being human, and for what you’ve done. Embrace who you are, accept what has happened in that moment or in that day, learn from it, and move on. Own who you are, own your choices and your mistakes, and let them refine you.

So no… I did not in fact owe anyone from that day an apology. It is only human to have a bad day, to be in a grumpy mood sometimes, and to every once in a while lose my cool.

In essence I did nothing wrong, but why did I feel such strong guilt about needing to apologize for the way I handled it that day? In reality I just had a bad day, and everyone has bad days. Instead of feeling sorry or saying sorry, I needed to adjust my perspective and just learn from the ways I reacted and move on.

Tired of Being Sorry

So the truth is, I’m tired of being sorry.

Why am I allowing society dictate how I should feel? How I should act, or what I should be doing?

I don’t believe I was given this life, just to have to apologize for it constantly. Should a fire apologize for burning? Or the water for being wet? No. So why then, do we feel like we should apologize for being human?

I’ve made a resolution that from now on I will live unapologetically as my authentic self. At least I will try my best!

No one gets to decide when I’m “too much”; no one gets to tell me when I’m “too loud” or that I’m “wrong”, or decide my passions in life.

It is my humanly given right to make mistakes, to have control and ownership of my choices, to be messy and sometimes reckless, to be a bit wild and untamable; and I won’t apologize for it anymore. This is me, take it or leave it.

That being said, though, of course this does not include instances where I do end up making a choice or mistake that does hurt someone else. Then of course I will own that and apologize to them. I’m not a monster, people 🙂

Things We Need to Stop Apologizing For

I’ve compiled a list of things I think we all need to stop apologizing for, especially we as women. I’ve also included some examples to help clarify the points behind them:

01. Your Personal Priorities

They are yours, and you get to decide what is important and what is not. The end.

02. Your Flaws

We are all uniquely made, and given unique purposes and skills. So something we end up lacking or failing at, shouldn’t be something we have to be sorry for. It just means we are one step closer on our life path to discovering our true selves. So flaws should be celebrated because of that, and not something we should be shamed for.

03. Following Your Dreams and Passions

Just like 01, your dreams and passions are not up to anyone else. You get to decide! So never allow the world to make you feel sorry or ashamed of what you want and how you’re going to achieve them. You want to put your blood, sweat, and tears into starting a new business but your friends/family are giving you grief because you’re ‘never around anymore’ or ‘never return their calls or texts’? Tell them you can’t keep people in your life that don’t support what you’re working your booty off to achieve.

Ain’t nobody got time for negativity!

Or, someone tries to tell you the thing you want most in life is stupid or not worth it? Or that you’ll never be able to reach it? That’s not their decision, and not their right to dictate to you how you should spend your time and effort. It’s your life, it’s your passion, and your dream; never be sorry for going after what your heart wants. Even if you fail, at least you tried, you learned, and you will continue on your life path.

04. Saying No

This one is a big one. People always try to convince to me go do something I don’t want to, and then make me feel guilty or bad for not wanting to. Why has this become OK?

If I don’t want to go to a party or an event, no one has the right to make me feel like I’m a ‘bad friend’ for not wanting to go. Doesn’t that seem hypocritical, since they’re technically being the bad friend for trying to shame me into going to something I don’t want to?

Its OK to say no! Never apologize for standing up for yourself, and saying no. Say ‘yes’ to saying ‘no!’ You will feel so much more in control of your life and your happiness when you stop allowing others to choose or tell you what you should do.

05. Telling The Truth

Just like the saying goes, the truth hurts sometimes. But in the end, the truth is more important than sugar-coating things or telling white lies to avoid offending or hurting someone’s feelings.

Now, don’t go around purposely being mean or nasty, but stop lying. Lying never leads to anywhere positive or good. Just tell the raw, honest truth but do it in a nice way. I promise it’s better! But… stop saying sorry when you do it. The truth needs to be said.

06. Loving Someone

And here’s another popular saying, “It’s better to have loved, and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

It sucks, but it’s true, people. We need to allow ourselves to be open to loving others, even when it ends up breaking our hearts, because that is also a continual rite of passage and path of growth as humans that we must travel on.

Yes, we all have at some time or another loved someone we maybe shouldn’t have. Me? yeah, I’ve done it twice. But I won’t apologize for it, even if the world wants me to feel bad or even stupid for doing it. “Well, you should have known better,” the world might say. Or, “Don’t make that mistake again.

But, in all honesty, I don’t regret anyone I’ve loved, even though both of them hurt me tremendously and broke me down to almost nothing. I don’t regret it and I will not apologize for it. The beauty about choosing to love, despite the potential of rejection, pain, heart-break, and sometimes trauma; is that it opens us up to love on new levels that we only can reach through choosing to love someone. It’s the necessary evil our hearts need to experience.

So, even if it ends in a heart break, it is always worth it to love someone, and it’s never something you should apologize for.

07. Standing Up For What You Believe In

This has been one I’ve felt like I need to apologize for my whole life. I am a member of the LDS Church, or better known as, I am a Mormon. I grew up outside of Philadelphia, where the members of my church were far and few between. In high school, my twin sister and I constantly dealt with feeling ashamed or having to apologize for what we believed in because of our religion. “Sorry, we don’t drink.” “Sorry, we don’t have sex.”

Etc, etc, etc….

It’s ironic that as a society we all want to believe in something; yet if that something we choose to believe in is not up to “society standards”, then we feel like we should apologize for it.

Why are we being so straight up #savage to one another guys??

If you believe in something (granted it’s not something hurtful to others, extremist and/or violent, hateful, or anything of that nature,) don’t let the world make you feel sorry for it.

One of the most beautiful things about everyone on the planet is how we all believe in different  things, yet we can (sometimes) find ways to coexist and support one another.

If we all believed in the same thing, conformed to the same ideals and standards and thoughts, this world would be a boring, awful place.

08. Being a Strong, Intelligent, Confident Woman

Historically, we as women have been apologizing since apparently the apple situation with Eve. We’ve needed to apologize for having voices, for wanting power, for wanting to show some more skin, for having emotions, for wanting to vote, for wanting to not need a man in order to have worth.

In more modern day scenarios, we live in a world of business tycoons and a world catered to men, who want us to live in a certain check-listed set of ideals or else we need to apologize for not being that type of ‘woman.’

Just like the whole feminist supportive uprising and #metoo movement that has recently been gaining momentum, we are finally standing up for being assertive, powerful, intelligent women; and we don’t want to apologize for it any longer.

There is nothing wrong with being confident, feeling sexy and beautiful in our own skin, and being a go-getter business woman. Stop apologizing for it.

Ladies, we need to stand up for ourselves, speak our truths, and go do the damn thing! We do what we want, we work hard for what we want, and we won’t say sorry anymore about it.

09. Having Emotions

For some reason, it has become socially normal to make people, especially women, feel ashamed for having emotions.

Personally, in my ex-marriage I was told I could never show my emotions in front of my ex, and that if I needed to cry I could do so in our closet upstairs with the door shut. You’re probably thinking I’m making that up, and I wish I was!

The world, just like my scenario, wants us to hide our emotions as well. If you cry you’re weak and vulnerable,  or if you get upset or angry you’re a crazy bitch.

Emotions are another beautiful part, built into our DNA, that allows us as humans to love, to feel, to enjoy, and to grow. Feeling ashamed of them and apologizing for reacting a certain way or feeling a certain way is literally going against the way we are designed. We have emotions for a reason!

So if you want to laugh at something inappropriate, do it. I do all the time! Cry if you’re sad or hurting, and get upset if you need to about that guy that just broke up with you after a year in a weak, selfish text message (because hellloooo that’s so lame!)

Emotions are beautiful, they are cleansing, and they are necessary. Stop saying sorry for them!

10. For Not Being Perfect

We all seem to be trying to live up to impossible standards, and then feel the need to apologize for not achieving them.

“Sorry I’m wearing too much makeup,” “Sorry I’m not skinny enough,” “Sorry

I’m not smart enough,” “Sorry I’m too feisty,” “Sorry I have too many opinions.”

It’s a vicious and exhausting cycle of empty sorries and never met ideals. This one definitely correlates with 02, and quite honestly anything I’ve listed here, but sometimes it is the hardest one to break the habit of.

If we make a mistake, we feel shame and guilt, and feel like we are no longer good enough. If we can’t reach a certain standard we feel defeated.

We have to stop feeling and saying sorry for not being “perfect”, and instead embrace ourselves the way we are, and celebrate the things we do achieve and the things we do have. Comparison is the true thief of joy, and we can’t keep measuring ourselves up to the social media picture perfect agenda that is constantly shoved down our throats.

Life is not all kittens, rainbows, donuts, and incredible vacations like we see on our feeds; its messy, dirty, painful, and awful sometimes but that is why it is amazing.

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So how do we avoid saying sorry? It seems kind of hard, but that’s because we have habitually been saying sorry for everything. An easy way to try and break yourself

of the habit, is to replace a “sorry” with a “thank-you.”

   –  Instead of saying, “Sorry I’m late,” say, “Thank you for waiting for me.”

   –  Instead of saying, “Sorry I missed your call,” say, “Thank you for understanding that I

      have a busy schedule and needed to call you back when I had time.”

    – Instead of saying, “Sorry I made a mistake,” say, “Thank you for understanding I am

      not perfect, and for helping me learn and grow from my mistakes.”

 

See? I dare you to try it.

I’ve been doing it since Monday and I’ve noticed a HUGE change! It’s very freeing to not feel so constricted within this awful apology society we have been living in.

If we keep saying sorry, even for the things we aren’t even sorry for, we are continuing to enable to societal problem, and digging ourselves deeper into this shame/guilt culture.

Like are you really sorry Carol, that you’re late to lunch? I don’t think so, because

you’re always late! If you were sorry, you would change your behavior and not be late

anymore. How about instead of apologizing every time you’re late, just embrace that

you’re an always-late-kinda-person and just show up when you can and say, “Thanks

for waiting guys!”

Don’t be like Carol, guys. Just own who you are an stop handing out empty apologies.

#SorryNotSorry

Back to my original story about this past Monday, and my awful, terrible, no good mood.

I decided that night as I laid in bed and replayed everything I had done in my head, and all the stupid reactions I had had, that I wouldn’t feel sorry for it.

Instead, I contemplated how I could have better handled the stress, the frustration, and the maddening amounts of flights I had to change and angry emails and texts I was getting blaming me for things that were not my fault… instead I would choose to react differently next time and just let it go and move on. I would learn and grow from it, but not be sorry for how it played out.

 

The only thing I will be sorry for from now on, is not being sorry. I own who I am, and I unapologetically embrace and love the woman I have become. I didn’t walk through the hellfire I’ve experienced just to be sorry for the incredible strength I’ve gained and the places it has led me to. This is me, and I’m not sorry for it.

maybe one day we’ll finally
learn to love ourselves and
stop apologizing for the things
that make us who we are
-r.m. drake

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Fool’s Gold

Have you ever stopped to think about what exactly it is you’re chasing in life? What are your dreams that you are seeking in the end?

I think these days it’s very easy to become distracted by everything that’s going on, that we can sometimes end up chasing something that we might think we want in the moment, but in the end it’s not really what we intended to find.

Treasure Hunters

Pondering over this last night, after a dinner with a dear friend where we talked about what we both want in life,  a story popped up from a memory long ago from college when I was studying Chaucer in one of my Lit classes…

…Particularly, The Pardoner’s Tale.

Basically, there are three men who go out seeking to find and kill Death. They come across an old, sad man who tells them he wishes Death would finally come visit him; then goes on to tell them they can find him in a grove nearby under a tree.

What they find there instead is a large pile of gold. They plot to take it for themselves, but need to wait until nightfall. The youngest is sent to town to buy some food and wine. While he is gone the other two plot to kill him and split the money between them. He has a similar idea, and laces 2 of the 3 bottles of wine with poison.

When he returns, they jump out and kill him. In celebration they both happen to drink the poisoned bottles of wine, and soon join him in death.

Like, real uplifting story right??

The moral of this tale is that sometimes we can become distracted or even mesmerized by the “gold” that may be under a nearby tree, and we become willing to give up everything else for it. But this treasure in the long run might not be worth what we give up for it; and it might not even be treasure at all.

Don’t give up something you want, for something you want right now

 

Fool’s Gold

Just like those men in the story, we can find some “gold” in our own lives and think that we need it, and need to do whatever we can to have it. In the end, it’s fool’s gold because we end up losing things that really matter to us to obtain it. So was it even worth it?

Fool’s gold is different for everyone; maybe it’s wanting to build a giant new home, lusting after an expensive sports car, or desiring to be in a relationship with a certain person.

I’m not saying any of these examples are necessarily bad, but if we are seeking them out for the wrong reasons, they will become our own pile of treasure under a tree that could potentially make us lose more than we bargained for to obtain it.

To me, the gold that I am seeking has drastically changed over the last few years. There was a mental check-list I had when it came to looking for a significant other, and I thought I had obtained it all with my former marriage.

Well, as I’ve gone over before, it was not what I hoped it would be. And that’s not blaming him entirely, it was also partially because I was so obsessed with this idea I had in my head of what I thought I wanted; because it was what socially around me everyone else had and told me I needed too. And I was willing to do anything to make it happen.

Seeking to take that gold from under the tree for myself, I nearly lost it all just like those men did in the story. And looking back now with clear hindsight, I see where I went wrong. And that’s why now almost 2 years out of it, I have made huge shifts in my life as to what I want to chase after.

The Real Gold

In life there is treasure everywhere, if we choose to really see it. Its just a matter of deciphering which piles of gold are worth our time, and worth our effort. Or, to be honest, which ones we need to just ignore and pass by.

I no longer want to be the idiot chasing fool’s gold that won’t make me any happier, and possibly make me lose more than I’ve already lost.

Last night after returning home, I got out my trusty journal and I wrote out a new list of goals I want to obtain in my life. Some are long term, and some are short.

It was fascinating to see how much my values and ideals have shifted even just in the past 2 years since my divorce. Honestly, I think losing everything and literally starting over on my own with nothing was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Sounds crazy to say, right? But it’s 100% true.

So for those of you even reading this, I challenge you to reevaluate what it is you’re seeking in your lives; what treasure is worth it for you to keep going after, and which ones will end up just being fool’s gold?

Don’t lose a true diamond by chasing glitter

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The letter

2 weeks ago, I sent a letter in the mail. That’s right, good old snail mail.

I hadn’t sent an actual letter in quite a long time, but for this particular situation I felt it was the best way to send the words I needed to express.

This was an important letter. Maybe one of the most important letters I’ve ever sent, or will ever.

This was a letter of true and genuine forgiveness… to my ex.

Between Both Worlds

I started to write this letter last year actually. I had this really cool epiphany about it while I was in Sintra, Portugal , last October.

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Looking down from the top of the Initiation Well 

At the bottom of the Initiation Well at Quinta Da Regaleira , I was on top of the tiled symbol of a compass overlapping a Knights of the Templar cross, which was thought to have been Monteiro’s herald and a sign of his Rosicrucianism.

The cross has many different symbolic meanings behind it historically; I see it symbolizing finding one’s truth.

There were 9 platforms we descended on the stairwell, which these represent the 9 circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. Unlike in the story, I don’t believe we were to “abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

The 9 platforms also represent the 9 Spheres of Heaven, from Dante’s Paradiso.

So standing there, between the 9 Spheres of Heaven and the 9 Circles of Hell, you are meant to reflect on your life and your purpose. It is a place you are equally between both ends of the spectrum, and you contemplate the disconnection between earth and the heavens as you peer up to the sky from the darkness below; and also feel the haunting closeness of hell as you are so consumed in the darkness.

As I stared up towards the light, my eyes following the curving stairs upwards towards the open sky above, I wondered what truth I was still searching for. I was drawn to the light above me, but I also felt a heaviness lurking within me that connected me to the dark tunnels of the labyrinth that surrounded where I was.

There were lots of tourists in there with us that day in the well, but for that brief moment I felt like I was completely alone, and was hit with the overwhelming epiphany that if I was to ever feel fully connected back to the light at the top of my own life’s tower, I would need to let go of what was weighing me down to the depths of it.

And that weight, was forgiveness.

I needed to let go of the bitterness and the resentment of what had happened in my past, to truly let myself heal from the pain completely.

While taking the train the next day from Sintra to Lagos, I pulled out my phone and started working on what I wanted to express in this letter.

I’ll be honest, the first few drafts I typed up on my phone were not very positive. In fact, I still only really wanted to convey some pretty bitter sentiments.

So, I deleted what I had and didn’t think about it again, until about a month ago when I was in Rwanda. With all the changes I am working towards making in my life, this idea of forgiveness resurfaced.

To me, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to fully move forward with any aspect of my life until I do officially forgive my ex husband… even though the idea of it sounds impossible.

How can I possibly forgive him for everything that happened?

Writing It Out

When I returned from Rwanda, I got to my apartment at about 2:30 am MST. We had traveled for almost 40 hours and I was beyond exhausted, not to mention a little delirious. But the problem was, I had to be to work in about 5 hours and I was worried if I went to sleep that I would never wake up for work.

So, crazy me, decided to just stay up.

I did all my laundry from the trip, tidied up my room, binged some Netflix, and finally took a luxurious shower.

By that point it was almost 6, and I was struggling to stay awake. Needing something to do to keep myself occupied and alert, I drafted my forgiveness letter. It was probably the best time I could have written it, because I was in such a delirious state of mind that I had no inhibitions and I wrote freely from the heart.

I was surprised with that I said, and how naturally it felt to write out such forgiving words to someone who had completely broken me.

But also surprising… was how much relief and weight I felt lifted from me just from writing them.

What To Do With It Now

Initially, I never intended to send the letter. I wrote it out for me, to release the toxic emotions from inside me and let them go.

But, as the days went by and I continued to look over the letter… I felt a strong urge to actually mail it.

I wondered if maybe he needed to know that I forgave him; maybe to help him on his own journey of recovery from his past and from his addictions.

I’m sure maybe some of you will argue that he didn’t deserve forgiveness, and that it was stupid for me to give it to him. But I think (depending on the situation obviously…) everyone deserves a chance to be forgiven. Who am I to choose who does and doesn’t forgiveness?

Back when I first left him, and was living in my dad’s basement, the nights were long and painful. I literally felt as if my chest was going to explode open and the shards of my broken heart would tear through the walls of the house.

In my moments of what I can only express as absolute Godly sorrow, the only thing I could do to find relief was to crawl to my knees and pray for peace and strength. But in those moments of some of the worst emotional pain, I surprised myself by not praying for myself, but praying for him…

…my soon-to-be-ex.

I knew ultimately  I would survive the pain. I had family and friends who loved me and supported me locally and all over the country. I had survived and escaped the depths of my own personal hell, and I knew I would recover and resurface from those dark moments. But for him, I wasn’t sure what would happen, or what he might do in his very fragile emotional existence at that point in time.

I knew it wasn’t my responsibility to take care of him or enable his addictions any longer, but I still loved him and I hoped he would survive me leaving. So I did the only thing I could do in that moment, and I prayed for him – I sincerely, and whole heartedly begged God to help him, and to give me the peace of mind to not worry about him anymore because I literally and physically couldn’t handle it anymore- and it was mercifully lifted from me.

Sending It

The urge to mail this letter lingered within my thoughts, but in a good way not a bad one. I knew I needed to send it, maybe more so for him than for me. But whatever the reason was, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

So… I mailed it. Without a return address.

I’ll never really know if he received it, or if he even read it. But all I know is I feel the peace in my heart now where bitterness used to reside. I decided to forgive, because holding onto it all would never allow me to move forward. There is so much hate and negativity in the world right now, I didn’t want to harbor any of that inside my own heart for anyone.

I think my ex needed the letter too. Even if he never reads the letter, at least my good intentions are out there in the universe, and maybe will help guide him on a better path.

All in all, I never hated him – I hated his disease, his addictions. I hated the choices he made, but I never hated him.

Truly, I hope he can find his way to sobriety and recovery. Just like everyone else, he deserves to live a happy life. And I honestly, genuinely hope he can find that happiness.

I may have forgiven him of everything, but I will never forget it. The fact is those things have changed and shaped me and my life into what it is now, and that’s something I will never be able to ignore. I am forever altered and changed because of it all.

I can’t say I’m grateful for what I’ve been through, as some people tend to say after a big trial; but I am grateful to have realized my true strengths and seen my ability to survive whatever is going to get thrown at me.

And the most beautiful thing out of this is, I can no longer claim that my heart is dead inside like I used to joke about all the time… because I finally allowed it to be revived to open itself to forgive the person who had deadened it in the first place. If there’s a silver lining in all of this, this is it.

I won’t share the letter completely, because most of it is too personal. But, I will share this section that struck me after it came out of my heart and onto the paper:

“Despite all of it, a part of me will always love you, because the heart can’t just erase what was real, true love; even if it was not meant to last forever. And it is because of that, I have been able to come to the place where I am now, to tell you something that I think both of us need:

I forgive you.

I hope someday you can forgive me too, for the ways I’ve hurt you and wronged you as well. I hope one day you can understand why I had to leave, and I hope you will always remember that I loved you.

Go be happy, because that’s all I ever wanted for you; even if it wasn’t with me. Most importantly, love yourself and forgive yourself – of everything in your past and finally let it go. Because you do deserve to be happy.”

Forgiveness is a powerful, incredible thing.

What is most important about it, is that choosing to forgive someone –  even someone who has hurt you and broken you – allows us to break free from the darkness that can weigh us down, and prevents their choices and behaviors from destroying our hearts.

If you take anything away from my ramblings, choose to work towards forgiving someone that’s hurt you, and let it go. Even choose to forgive yourself. I’m working on that part myself, everyday.

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PC: Alejandro Araos 

Balancing Act

Do you ever find yourself sitting at a table at a restaurant that is super wobbly?

Like so wobbly, that you’re worried  if you move anything, it will tilt and all the items will fall into your lap?

The problem, usually, is that one (or more) of the legs of that table are too short, and not even with the others. Without all legs being even and sturdy, the table will never be fully balanced.

Table Talk

So why am I talking about tables? It will make sense, I promise.

A few weeks ago, I started to feel the unbalances in my life completely taking over. Everything seemed unorganized, chaotic, and all over the place. It was stressing me out!

I knew something needed to change, but without knowing exactly what the problem was, I couldn’t fix it.

That’s when I started writing out to-do lists. For me, seeing it written down on paper makes it easier for me to focus on what needs to be done; and then check it off as I do! (Plus I’m old school and I love writing things in my planner instead of in a note on my phone.)

As I was working on compiling things into lists, I noticed there were 4 groups kind of forming on their own; 4 categories if you will. So then, the huge nerd that I can be, I decided to instead make my lists into a big chart, showcasing each category.

Modern Backyard Cookout

And isn’t that so weird? It looks like a table… with 4 legs. 🙂

In order for the table (you) to be fully balanced, you need to care for and make each important category (table legs) even.

The Legs

As you can see from my image, my “table” has 4 legs, or categories. Each of us is unique, and so there’s not right or wrong amount of categories you need or want to attach to your table, as well as no expected category types.

I’ll run through my own categories to explain how I work on making them balanced, to give you an idea of how to balance your own!

Physically

My entire life, I have been a very physically active and relatively healthy person. I was a tom boy growing up, playing in the woods and the dirt, and doing every sport on the planet that I could possibly do!

Now, I make physical fitness and health a major priority. Here are a few things I focus on:

  • Currently I am on a meal plan and fitness plan catered to me, through L8r Lifestyle. Check them out, they’re amazing!
    • I work out 5 times a week, with heavy lifting and HIIT cardio. 2 Rest days.
    • My meal plan is catered to my height, weight, age, and what I want to accomplish. It’s real food, and meal prepping is a must!
    • I make sure I eat enough of the food my body needs, and also every once in awhile throw in a cheat meal. Because #treatyoself
  • I am a total grandma when it comes to sleep. I aim to be in bed by 10-10:30 pm during the week.
  • I’ve thrown my back out 3 times in the last 6 months. Yes, I absolutely feel like I’m old and falling apart!
    • I’ve been very smart about listening to my body, and when something is injured or hurting I rest and try to stretch, and do what I can to let things heal.
  • I stay active as much as I can outside the gym:
    • Hiking
    • Sand volleyball
    • Cycling
    • Basically anything outside!

Spiritually

This category in all honesty has felt a little depleted lately for me.

With everything I have dealt with the past few years, I hope it is understandable for me to feel this way.

And no, I wouldn’t say I am having a crisis of faith by any means; I’m just working on more ways I can feel closer to God in my personal life. It isn’t a crisis, just a phase of my life where I am transitioning and growing in this area – kind of like spiritual Feng shui, where I’m just moving things around inside myself to rebalance and feel harmonized again.

And it is just that; personal. Each of us will feel that spiritual closeness and balance in different ways.

  • I feel spiritual closeness in nature. Hiking alone is one of my favorite things to do, where I can go reflect in God’s beautiful creations about everything I’m feeling and wanting to feel.
  • I also feel spiritually close to God when I engage in very honest personal prayer. We have some real talk. He knows me and He loves me despite all of my flaws and shortcomings; and in my earnest and humble nightly prayers with Him I feel so much love and peace.
  • When I am doing service for others, I feel so spiritually balanced and my heart is so full. I feel the tiniest, most minuscule, fraction of a fraction of how much our Creator loves each of us. It is an incredibly overwhelming feeling.

If spirituality is one of your categories, do what makes you feel centered. There is no specific right or wrong way to go about it.

 Psychologically

This category has been a rough one. Anyone who has been through any sort of traumatic event, will understand.

As I’ve explained before about PTSD, it’s not something you can just flip a switch and be done with. It takes time, patience, and lots of work. Feeling psychologically unbalanced has many different repercussions, such as anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and fear of something triggering a past traumatic experience.

Self-care and self-love are two of the biggest things I have been focusing on to recover and rebuild my life after everything completely shattered.

  • Positive affirmations are amazing, and really do help! Read about them here.
  • I started going to therapy. I honestly believe anyone and everyone can benefit from therapy, but especially someone who has been through anything traumatic.
  • I take time everyday to meditate alone, even if it’s just for 10 mins. Finding that time to really zone in on my inner balance makes a huge difference.
  • I love to read, and have been reading any book I can get my hands on in regards to recovering, finding my true joys and passions in life, chasing my dreams, and overcoming the trials that I’ve been given.

Socially

If you know me, you know I also struggle with this category. Ever since being thrown head first with weights attached to me in the deep end of dating and being in the singles scene again, I have had to make a real effort to be social. It’s so hard guys!

But I’ve made some progress.

  • I only do what makes me happy. If I don’t want to go to something, I don’t. If I do, I go!
    • Why let anyone force me to do something I know will not make me happy? Life is too damn short to let other people decide it for you!
  • Hang around positive people who lift you up, instead of bring you down
    • A few years ago I hung out with a crowd that was negative, and they were so mean to me! Once I broke away from them, I was a lot happier.
    • Remember that it’s ok to not hang out with someone if they are toxic to your happiness in any sort of way.
  • I’ve grown to appreciate quality friends over quantity. The ‘popular’ ‘cool’ crowd is not always going to make you happy!

Balancing Act

So there you have it, my 4 table legs. When each of these categories feel balanced, then my life in general does as well.

If you keep focusing on balancing your life, than it will become so through your effort. It’s the whole “if you build it, it will come” mentality reminiscent from Field of Dreams; If you believe you can balance your life than it can happen!

Stay positive, prioritize what’s important, and focus on balance.

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PC: Vino Photography