Finding My Passion

I still feel like I am recovering from the jet-lag from Rwanda, and I’ve been home for over 10 days now! I’ll start going through my journal and pictures to do a break down of my trip soon, so I can share all of my tips and adventures for you from such a magical and wonderful trip!

While reaclimating back to normal life and my routine here has been something of a challenge, the real struggle has been trying to readjust my focus in life to something with more purpose.

I don’t mean that to sound to vague, so I’ll explain what I mean below.

Poppa, the Rockstar Doctor

One of the coolest parts of this whole trip was getting to experience it not only with my twin sister, but also with our biological grandfather “Poppa”- who we have only known for 4 years (* I’ll have to post about the whole story sometime, but we were adopted and only met our birth mom and her family 4 years ago*)

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Heather Poppa and me outside our hotel in Kigali, Rwanda

He has lived his entire professional career working in the field that he has such a passion for – Infectious Disease. Traveling and living all over the world, he has made incredible impacts in the medical field of infectious disease and has touched so many lives in the process. Poppa and our grandma lived in Butare, Rwanda for a year in as he helped with the local hospital and medical program there as well as in the capitol Kigali.

To sum it up, it was amazing to see him return to the place where he lives his passion. He LOVES working in the infectious disease field, and meeting one of the local medical residents who admired him and looked up to him was so inspiring.

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Christoph our guide, Heather, and Poppa admiring a Colobus Monkey in the trees

Also getting to spend so much time with him in a place he loves so much, was such an amazing experience. This was his last trip to Africa, since he is geting up there in age, but this was his 37th trip over there! This trip literally exhausted me, I can’t believe he’s done this 37 times!

And some of the hikes we did were very difficult, and he handled them like a champ! Running through the jungle chasing a family of chimps in the Nyungwe Forest is no easy task, and when we finally found them he had the biggest smile on his face as we watched them up in the trees!

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Our group with our wonderful porters and trackers after the hike in Nyungwe Forest to follow the chimpanzees (Poppa is all the way on the right)

Not to mention, on top of a very funny sense of humor (with one of the best laughs on the planet), Poppa is one of the most patient and kind people I have ever met. He loves and accepts anyone and everyone, and I wish I could exude even a fraction of this type of love too.

Seriously, Poppa is a true rockstar! I look up to him and admire him in so many ways. Seeing just a small glimpse into Poppa’s life and experience in Rwanda, truly inspired me in my own.

How Can I Live My Own Passion?

This has been the question that has haunted and plagued me for the last 2 years. Figuring out what I really want to do in life.

But really though… how the hell do people figure this stuff out?!

I feel the way I did when I started college and was deciding on what to pick as a major. How was I supposed to know what I would want to study for the next 4 or so years, let alone do the rest of my life? It always boggled my mid that people knew already – some knew since they were little! I didn’t end up officially declaring a major until my junior year, switching from a journalist emphasis to Creative Writing/English. Even then, I still wasn’t 100% sure.

The thing I discovered on this trip, was that something inside me was forever different. Not to sound super cliche, but this trip literally changed my perspective on my life and life in general in the world. I had this growing desire to do something important, to do something that matters and changed the world for the better.

On our way home (an exhausting 41 hour total travel time) during our 13 hour leg from Qatar to New York City, I pulled out my journal and started to write. I was finishing up my entries about our trip and what we had experienced. But, then I started writing something new; the thoughts and feelings that had been stirred up from everything.

This entry became more of a list than anything.

The list was title “Things I am Passionate About”, and as I started to go through the list I circled my #5 item:

Making a Difference/Serving Others

I circled it, and even put a few stars around it. Because that made an impact, an impression inside me. This is what I needed and wanted to feel fulfilled in life, to push me to do more and to focus on.

The Moment It Changed

The funny thing about finding and following your life passions, is that they don’t just suddenly appear in some “ah-ha” moment. Generally, it is something that over time you realize has always been there but you hadn’t recognized it’s importance until the moment your heart realizes how much it means to you.

I’ve always found comfort and peace in serving others. That’s why through all of my own grief and brokenness I have found so much solace and recovery in volunteering and helping with charities and things that are helping humanity thrive.

But this trip, particularly as we drove through a small remote village on the way to Akagera National Park, something inside me changed. I realized how much I want to do to serve the world, to give back and to do more. The moment will forever be etched into my brain; a small clay-brick house we passed on the road with 4 small children outside in tattered rags chasing a black and white spotted goat. I can’t explain why this moment was the one to flip the switch inside me, but it was. And it has. And now I can’t turn it off, because now I know what it is I want to pursue.

Someday, somehow, I want to live my passion of serving others and making a difference. My true dream, is to travel the world doing many different humanitarian services and projects. I will find a way.

I can make a difference here as I can, but eventually – oh yes – I have very big plans!

Here are just a few ways I’ve been researching humanitarian service locally and interntionally:

Help International

Salt Lake Rape Recovery Center

Choice Humanitarian

Do you have any other good ones? Please feel free to share them in the comments!

How You Can Find Your True Life Passion

While I continue on my quest to live my true passions, here are some tips I used to help me figure out what is most important to me, and what I am passionate about.

  1. Make a list with 2 columns. One column is things you dislike doing, and the other is the thing you enjoy doing.
    1. Now, from the column of the things you enjoy, sit and meditate on each one – seriously – and decide if each one is something you could do everyday, for the rest of your life, and never get sick of it.
      1. Is it something you could read an 800-page book about?
      2. Is it something you could do without getting paid?
      3. Is it something you could eat-breathe-sleep-dream about and never get sick of?
  2. Ok, now you should have at least one thing from your original list that you feel is a passion. So what do you do?
    1. Remember that a passion does not necessarily have to be your job – in most cases it is more of a hobby or something you do on the side. But, it’s also Ok if it is something you want to pursue as your career!
    2. If it’s something you’re not particularly good at, or just sort of mediocre in, that’s also Ok! You do not have to be an expert to be passionate about it, you can still successfully reach your passions and your goal!
  3. Do some research, reach books, listen to podcasts, talk to people – who are related to your passion, or can help you towards your intended goals.
    1. Knowldge truly is powerful! The more you can arm your mind with, the better!
  4. Also, remember who you are and the impact you can put on the world.
    1. We can do so many incredible things! Each of us has amazing potential, if we can figure out what our passions truly are. Think of all the good we can put into the world! Even a little goes a long way.

I hope to one day live and follow my passion, just like Poppa. Hoping sooner than later I will be! Cheers to all of us dreamers chasing our passions and dreams!

PS. Stay tuned for my posts detailing all about Rwanda!

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Easily Distracted

I have to admit to everyone a story that happened to me a few nights ago.

I was feeling sore and exhausted, and the only thing that sounded good to me was drawing a nice, hot bath. So I did! This is a rare occurrence for me because generally I don’t like baths, but for some reason it sounded dreamy and amazing that night.

I went all out on this thing guys; lime coconut scented bath bomb, some lavender foaming bubble bath salts to help my sore muscles, I even lit candles and had some music playing. It was perfection.

I had made it pretty hot initially, so I knew I needed to wait about 5 minutes before trying to get in. Then, as I tend to do, I got distracted. I kept doing other things, and then would suddenly remember, “Oh yeah! I have to go get in the bath!”

Finally I was done with all the other dumb things I had become distracted by, and I went to go get in the tub. And guess what? It was cold.

I was so disappointed. I tried to drain half the water and re-fill it with hot water, but the  smelly-goods from the bath bomb also drained too and most of the salt (since it sinks to the bottom.)

I ruined my bath. All because I was too busy with other things that shouldn’t have mattered at the time, and I let them end up ruining the bath I had been looking forward to.

I ended up just draining it completely because I was so annoyed with myself, and I showered instead. A plain, boring old shower; instead of the amazing, relaxing bath I had envisioned. No candles, no magical foaming bath salts. Just water.

Easily Distracted

Isn’t that so true of life, though? We can become so easily distracted by other meaningless things, that they can keep us from enjoying the real pleasures of our lives, and the ones that supposedly we want to obtain.

I think often times this can particularly correlate with dating and with our overall life dreams.

In dating, there may be an end goal you are searching for or a standard of the person you want to end up with, but along the way you may deter yourself with others who may have some of what you want, but not everything, but you justify it all because they are ‘fun for now’ or ‘so hot I can look past the things they lack that I value’ and so on and so forth. (And for the record.. I am guilty of all of the above…)

But, the further you go down that rabbit hole with expiration dating, and dating just for fun, the harder it will be for you to end up with that original idea of your significant other you had in mind.

Or, with your big life dreams, it’s the same concept. You can start to fill up your time with things that might be fun and exciting, but they may also be detouring your trip towards what you really want to accomplish. Then down the road, when you realize you can’t figure out how to reroute yourself back to what you originally wanted, you will feel regret and frustration for missing out on the things you could have achieved.

See what I mean? It’s easy to become distracted.

Ditch the Distractions

So, what can we do to avoid becoming distracted?

Schedule It For Me

Recently, I have gotten very into scheduling and outlining out my goals, and every step I need to make to get to them. Like I’ve explained before, I use a good old-fashioned notebook planner that I carry around with me everywhere, and I also use an online tool called Trello.

Trust me, scheduling and outlining will be a game-changer for you! And when you see your goals written out, with a plan to get there, they are more likely to happen!

Time Drainers

I have also made an incredible effort to rid my life of the things that tend to distract me and steal away a bunch of my time; Like binging on Netflix and scrolling through social media.

Track Some Time

While it is good to get out and do things that are fun and make you happy, you need to make sure you are also tracking enough time everyday to accomplish the little tasks you need to in order to get to your goals.

Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day to do some writing, hit the gym to achieve your weight-loss goal, or do some networking to connect with others in your same line of work. Any time you can utilize in your day is worth it!

Don’t Overload

It’s also important to not try to do too much at once, because eventually you will burn out and maybe even give up on that particular goal.

Instead, focus on 2-3 tasks you want to accomplish each day. Keep it reasonable so you can always hit those small goals, and continue to motivate yourself to keep going.

The Cold Water Truth

The moral of my bath story is simple: if you allow other things to distract you from what you really want, you might miss out on it!

In my case, my bath was cold, and ruined. And as it circled the drain I had this epiphany about becoming distracted in life. So, at least one good thing came out of it all: I learned an important lesson!

Don’t get distracted by too many things that in the end won’t matter to you, because they can end up derailing you off course of what really matters.

Next time my bath will definitely be hot.

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Photography by: Amy Bischoff 

 

A Cold & Broken Hallelujah

 

Do you ever have those days where there’s a song stuck in your head? And I literally mean days… the same song has been playing in my mind over and over since last Friday.

It’s a song I’m sure you’ve all heard, or at least a version of it anyway (because it’s been covered many times.)

This version in particular I have loved since 2004, the end of my freshman year of college at USU, when the first season of the iconic teenage drama show The OC ended its’ first season. The song , “Hallelujah” plays in the background in the season finale in a really dramatic and emotional ending (… seriously watch it if you haven’t…) recorded by Rufus Wainwright. Or it’s in the movie Shrek, which I’m positive all of you have seen.

It randomly came up on one of my playlists on Friday night, and it’s been stuck in my mind ever since. Especially one line in particular has haunted me ever since:

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

A Mother of a Weekend

I knew Mother’s Day was coming, because for the past 3 years I’ve been counting down the days until it arrived again with growing dread and mounting emotions.

It never gets easier to celebrate a day for mother’s without mine. Memories rise to the surface, good and bad, and drown me again in the familiar deep pool of sorrow.

It’s not that I don’t want to remember her or celebrate her; I love thinking of all the fun memories and how much time we had with her despite her cancer.

The hard part is when so many others get to go see their moms, or call them or FaceTime with them; I’m driving to the cemetery with flowers and a Diet Coke. I wish I could get just one last hug, or one last phone call. Boy would she just get a kick out of all the dating stories and mishaps I’ve had lately! And the advice she could give me, or support through these strange dark days of re-building my life after my divorce… I miss it all and wish I could have that with her.

But, she’s gone. And so after visit her grave, and spending some time with my sister and her kiddos, I went home to be once again alone with my emotions and thoughts.

And right on cue that familiar song of ‘Hallelujah’ played in my head again. Especially that one line.

And isn’t it funny how sometimes when something is happening in our life, a song will pop up that perfectly correlates with what we are thinking or feeling?

Praise

The word Hallelujah is a translated from a Hebrew word, which can be an exclamation meaning, “God be praised!”

But in our moments of deepest heart break, pain, and sorrow, is it often our first instinct to still praise God?

Honestly, sometimes its not. It’s those times that we tend to push the heavens away, feeling disconnected and alone, and wanting to blame whatever and whomever we can, especially our heavenly parent.

In our painful times we question everything; the who’s, the why’s, the how’s, and the what’s. It’s part of our nature to do so, and as I have been working through my own grief of losing my mom I have seen a different perspective of this side of it all.

Why, in the moments that we need God the most, do we tend to push Him away and lose our faith? Maybe because it’s easier in the moment, and helps put some sort of bandaid over the giant, gaping, bleeding wounds in our hearts.

The thing I’ve realized so far in my life, is that it’s always easier to trust the process during the sunny great times… but when it comes to trusting in the dark times, that’s when true faith is tested.

Cold & Broken

The night that we lost mom, after we had all driven home from the hospital and I was laying in my bed, feeling completely numb and outside of my own life, I remember fighting the inner thoughts of being angry about it.

Her trial that was placed in her life to have cancer, was a long and painful for her. She was such a warrior, fighting through excruciating pain and constant sickness, not to mention hours upon days spent in hospitals at doctors appointments and undergoing treatments.

It was hard for us too. And many times I felt angry that someone so wonderful, and someone that I loved beyond words, had to go through such agony.

That night, as the realness continued to sink it’s sharp blades deep into my splitting heart, I fought the urge to be angry with God, and instead went in the other direction. Feeling to tired to actually get out of my bed and kneel like I normally do when I pray, I closed my eyes and in my head I prayed:

“I’m sad, and my everything hurts, and I’m too tired to even make sense. Thank you for the time we had with her.”

And that was all that needed to be said. It was my own cold and broken hallelujah. I was incredibly sorrowful, and parts of me were angry and questioning about it all, yet I still reached out what I had left to God and gave him the smallest ounce of praise that I could muster. And it was just enough to bring me some much needed inner peace, that in in that moment seemed impossible to feel.

Faith in the Darkness

The beauty of it all, that I’ve come to discover over these 3 years since losing her, is that if we offer whatever we have to God (even if it feels like nothing) He will fill in the void with His grace. Circling back to my favorite metaphor of Kintsukiroi here, God’s grace will fill in the gaps that we can’t ourselves, to make us whole.

And it’s nice to know during those times we struggle in the darkness, that we are never alone.

I was reading some of my favorite quotes on Sunday from C.S. Lewis, and these few in particular struck harmonizing chords with what I was sorting through internally:

“Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.” – C.S. Lewis

“Hard times, bad times, or tough times, I still have faith in God.” – C.S. Lewis

Honestly, I’ve never lost my faith. Sometimes it has definitely been tested to the extremes, but it’s never been lost.

I do have faith in the plan and the process for me. But as a human, an especially inquisitive one in particular, I have the tendency to sometimes question the why’s and the when’s on my path.

And it can start to escalate quickly: through missing my mom, onto being divorced and alone in my thirties, and even the heartache of not being a mom yet (and possibly never being one due to my infertility issues we discovered during my marriage.) You know, the whole “why me” pathetic thing that we all do.

But if you wallow in the negativity, you’ll eventually be drug out to deeper waters by the emotional undercurrents, and you’ll never be able to swim back to shore without drowning.

The funny thing is about these dark trials we go through, is how deceiving they can be. The darkness wants us to stay there, struggling for as long as possible, and to us we may think it is impossible to come out of it because we can’t see the light at the end of it in the distance. When really, if we just reach out we are already to the other side of it and we just haven’t realized it yet.

For example, when I was 7 my family went on a family vacation to The Outer Banks. We were there right before Hurricane Andrew decimated much of the Florida coastline, as well as further north towards the Carolinas, so the waves were larger than usual and the currents were stronger.

I remember playing in the waves with my sister, and I got knocked over and pulled under a wave. The current was strong and I struggled, and I remember panicking thinking I was going to drown. Then I reached my feet down and felt the sand there, and stood up…. in a few inches of water. I was already out of it, and safe.

Although I may never fully be out of the dark trial of losing my mom, I have faith and hope that I will be able to get through any others along the way.

One Last Hallelujah

As I have been playing this song on repeat the past few days, I looked up the original lyrics to it, which was written by Leonard Cohen. There were some secret verses he would sometimes perform at live shows that were not a part of the original score. This was one of them:

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Sometimes that little Hallelujah, all that I can give in that moment, no matter how broken or lonely or cold it is, is all I can give of my faith.  And it’s enough. And these hardships and trials I will keep facing are just shaping me and molding me into the person I am meant to become. At the end of it all, I will be a better person for what I’ve gone through; the good and the bad!

And on days where I miss my mom (which is everyday) I’ll just keep holding onto everything I learned from her while she was here, and give thanks for the time that we did have. And I’ll let all of these trails and experiences help me become a woman, maybe even a mother one day, just like her.

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” – C.S. Lewis

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Photography: Amy Bischoff 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Habits of a Boss Babe

You might not think that 106 degree weather in the Arizona desert sounds like much of a vacation, right?

Well, for me this past weekend in Scottsdale was just that!

Planning months in advance, our annual girls trip finally happened this weekend and I was so excited to see some of my best and closest girl friends. Some I haven’t been able to see in years!

And the time in the desert was just what my heart needed; 106 degrees and all!

Now, this isn’t any ordinary kind of girls trip. These woman, these 7 incredibly strong, brave, hysterically funny woman; they might never know how much I adore and look up to each of them. They are amazing each in their own way, and have all influenced my life for the better. These girls are essential members of my powerful Pride of Women that I explained in this post.

There’s a saying I heard back in the day that the people you meet in college will be your friends for the rest of your life, and with these women it could not be more accurate. I love these warrior women so much and I was so excited to spend an entire weekend with them!

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The real OG’s standing in the lobby of The Scott Resort before we all said goodbye

We were lucky enough to have found an incredible deal on newly renovated The Scott Resort (formally known as FireSky) in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona. Since we were there for their re-opening weekend celebrations, they definitely rolled out the red carpets!

This resort was SO adorable! All of the decors was cute and thoughtful, and had the coolest vibe to it. It was definitely right up my aesthetic alley!

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There were amazing light fixtures everywhere
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One of the fancy pool cabanas

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Such thoughtful decors details all over

If you ever find yourself in Scottsdale, I highly recommend this place. The service was excellent (not to mention they offer a free shuttle service to and from the resort within a 3 mile radius which saved us TONS on money that we would have had to spend on Ubers!) Plus, the location was perfect for everything Scottsdale had to offer.

We spent our time laying out in the sandy beach at their pool, shopping at Fashion Square Mall right down the street, eating at so many delicious close by restaurants like Postino, and just spending some good quality girl time together.

On our last night, we were all hanging out in one of the many cute cabanas they had on the grounds. We were girl talking and taking turns answering questions to “get to know each other’. Even though we obviously already know one another, it’s a fun way to learn more about one another and get even closer. I laughed so much that my abs were literally sore the next morning!

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All but 2 of us hanging in one of the cabanas

One of the questions we asked was for each of us to say what we thought people came to us for, and then we would take turns going around the circle saying what we each went to that individual girl for. As we went around the circle, we each expressed the love and adoration we had for one another, telling each other what we needed and came to one another for.

One we go to for wise advice about health, food, deep convos, and funny embarrassing stories. One we go to for plants and crystals, cool vibes, and is beyond thoughtful. One is generally our leader when it comes to organizing plans and trips, gives logical advice, and is makes everything fun. One is the best listener, and has the biggest sweetest heart; not to mention is funny without even trying! Another has the ability to make you feel like the most important person in the world while she talks about you and learns all about you, and has the best sense of humor. One of the strongest-willed women I know, and despite it all continues to work hard and has the ability to always see the good on the horizon. The last is incredibly sweet, kind, and has a feisty hidden personality that we all love!

When it came to me, I was so touched by the heart-felt sentiments they expressed about me too. I honestly teared up!

As a collective whole, we are one amazing and powerful group of women. My heart was replenished, recharged, and is feeling so full after seeing all of them! I am counting down the days to our next girls trip, just like Stanley counts down until the next Pretzel Day at their Scranton Dunder Mifflin office.

Success Supports Success

There’s a quote I read the other day that I loved:

Behind every successful woman

is a tribe of other successful women,

who have her back

I love this, because we as women definitely need to continue to support and raise each other up! Sometimes girls and women can be so catty, negative and cruel to one another it just blows my mind! It’s hard enough being a woman in today’s world, can’t we all just support and love one another??

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Going along with that quote, my tribe of women all support each other, and have all helped one another be stronger; whether or not we have even realized it! We are total #bossbabes. Don’t know what that is? Here’s the definition (in my own words):

A successful woman who owns a business, or owns her own life ‘like a boss.’ She isn’t afraid to get what she wants, she is in control of her life and makes no apologies or excuses for who she is. 

So, I’ve put together a list of 10 things I believe every #bossbabe woman should be doing in order to be more successful and much happier in every aspect of her life. Each one was inspired from my girl tribe from this weekend!

10 Habits of a #BossBabe

1. Have a Personal Mission Statement

This one may sound a little odd, but if you have your own mission statement, it really does help you be more successful!

Think about it, every company or successful person seems to have one:

Walt Disney – “To make people happy”

Amazon – “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers

can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and

endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

Google – “To organize the world’s information and make it universally

accessible and useful.”

So, why wouldn’t you, a successful boss babe, have your own equally great mission statement?? Am I right?

The reason having a mission statement helps you, is because it forces you to have a purpose, and to clarify what is important to you. Through it, you express what you value most and what your aspirations are.

Also, seeing and repeating it to yourself everyday helps to drive you towards those goals, and to becoming that boss babe you know you can be!

What’s my mission statement? I’ve been thinking about it ever since I started outlining this post. For now, as it is still a work in progress, I think mine is this:

Redefine Yourself – Recover Your Pieces – Rediscover Your Life

This quote is on my main page of my blog. It sounds more like a mantra, but I think a mantra and a mission statement can be one in the same. I like it, and those are definitely things I want to accomplish in my life, and they are things I value tremendously right now.

What’s your mission statement? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below so we can see it! 🙂

2. Recite Positive Affirmations Daily

I’ve talked about positive affirmations a few times, but it’s because I really believe in them! The mornings that I read them I feel more confident, and feel more ready to take on my day. Sounds cheesy… but it’s true!

Improving your relationship with yourself is a major key when it comes to success, self-confidence, and being happy! And when you literally recite positive things, like affirmations, to yourself, you are making yourself happier by doing so.

According to the CBT (Cognitive Behavior Theory) your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related. So if you are reciting and implanting those good thoughts and vibes into your mind, you are essentially going to make your behaviors and feelings equally as positive. The result? You are happier!

It’s science people.

What are some of your favorite positive affirmations? Here are some I’ve been reciting lately:

I have the power to create change

I am worth everything

Just be kind and brave. That’s all you ever need 

Know some good ones I can add to my list? Leave em in the comments!!

3. Recharge & Refocus

Life is pure chaos sometimes. So often I find myself feeling like I am in this insane wind tunnel, trying to focus on all the things I have to do and I can’t!

The thing that we forget to do is to recharge and refocus ourselves, so that we can have the energy and the dedicated mindset to focus on our tasks. If you are on 3 hours of sleep and needing to write a well punctuated and grammatically correct email for work, is that going to be easy for you? Probs not.

That whole “I can sleep when I’m dead” mentality may have worked when I was 21 in college and pulling all-nighters, but now in my ripe old age of 33 I know I need more sleep. Otherwise I can’t function, and I may as well be dead; but more like the walking dead because I’m a zombie.

It’s not just about sleep either though; recharging and refocusing can also be personal mediation. It’s important to take time for yourself very single day, to do some mediation. And it doesn’t need to be literally sitting cross-legged on a yoga map with your eyes closed chanting things in your head (although sometimes that is definitely needed and so helpful!)giphy-1

No, you can honestly just take the time for yourself everyday to just stop and slow down, and re-organize yourself. Think of it as a time-out during a crucial final quarter of a football or basketball game. Sometimes it gets a little hectic and they take the time out to regroup the team, and figure out their next plays; as well as going back in the game with a fresh mind-set.

So, take a time-out! 

Use time for yourself everyday to refocus your goals and your priorities, and recharge yourself!

4. Invest In Yourself

The most important investment you will ever make is in yourself.

That’s right; you need to invest more into Y-O-U!

For example, think about investing into buying a house. You shopped around and finally bought your dream home! You’ve poured so much money into filling it with beautiful furniture and things, making an necessary repairs or upgrades, and up-keeping it so it stays beautiful and feels like home forever!

Well, you are like that house. Except much… MUCH… more important!

So, to fully utilize your important investment in yourself, you need to take the right steps to keep up the value of said investment. How do you do that? There’s a lot of different things you can do:

  • Never stop learning! Take education seriously, even if you never go to college or earn a degree, just never stop learning! Because knowledge is powerful! And the more powerful you are and the more things you know, the more confident and successful you will be.
  • Fill your heart and soul with lovely, positive things. Pray, meditate, recite mantras and affirmations… whatever makes you happy!
  • Learn how to shake off the shame culture. Forgive yourself more easily, and move on. You’re going to fail and you’re going to mess up; it’s a part of life and it’s not worth holding onto. Let it go!
  • Take care of yourself on the outside too! Workout, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and sleep!
  • #treatyoself. That’s right, I said it and I meant it! If you want to treat yourself to hair extensions, lash extensions, or splurging on some expensive clothes or shoes… DO IT! Not all the time, you must have self-control, but sometimes you need to treat yourself! It will make you happier to every so often treat yourself to something nice. Also? Life is short.. so eat the damn donuts.

The bottom line here, is you are an amazing and wonderful investment, but you have to believe it and take care of yourself to continue adding more and more to your already incredible value.

Invest in yourselves boss babes!!

5. Read More – Screens Less!

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If you know me, you know I love to read books! I currently have about 5 books on my night stand I’m trying to read simultaneously… because I’m a nerd.

But, reading is important for your sanity and for your success! Here’s a list of 24 books successful people read just for some examples if you’re looking for something to read!

According to this article about Reading and Life Success :

The act of reading, particularly engaged reading, as opposed to the mechanics of reading, is a powerful predictor of life success by any measure. It is the best predictor of who goes to university regardless of socio-economic background. It is the best predictor of life income, career options, even life partner choices. And neuroscience is proving that reading fiction is one of the most powerful means of developing sympathetic individuals, with better social skills and higher levels of self esteem, resulting in increasing self improvement and prosocial behaviours.

My new goal lately has been to read more books and use my screens less – meaning my phone, laptop, and tv. It’s tough sometimes, I’ll admit it! But isn’t it scary to anyone else how reliant we are on just our smart phones alone? It’s like we can’t function as humans without a phone glued to our hands anymore.

So read more and use screens less, and you’ll find more success! It’s honestly that simple!

6. Accept Your Challenges Head On

This weekend my one girlfriend reminded me of one of her most recent Instagram posts about challenges and trials. Here’s the link if you want to see it, or below is part of it quoted:

I am going to take a lesson today from how buffalo and cows handle storms in Colorado.
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Only the strongest storms come over the ridge of the giant Rocky Mountains to the east. When a storm comes the cows see it & start to run from it. Seems logical, but the problem is they don’t move fast enough & before long the storm is over them, moving in the same direction as they are maximizing the pain & hurt
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Buffalos react much differently. They see the storm, gather together, and turn HEAD ON STRAIGHT into the STORM. Seems illogical at first thought, BUT they go the opposite way the storm is moving & make it out of the storm faster with less harm taking it head on in the long run.

If only we could be brave like the buffalo, and head straight on into our trials instead of trying to outrun them and avoid them for as long as we can.

In the long run, it’s better to face them head on. Sometimes its not easier to do so, but it is better and makes us stronger.

Just like in this post here I quoted, “What challenges you changes you.” At the time it may suck, and it might hurt, but in the end we will become a better and more successful person because of it.

Through challenges we grow, we learn, and we become stronger. So be a buffalo, not a cow, and handle those challenges like a successful #bossbabe.

7. Make Socializing a Priority

I will be the first to admit that I am the worst lately when it comes to being social. In fact, I always warn people about how I’m anti-social and to not take it personally! I’ve talked a lot about how much easier it is sometimes for me to stay home and not go out (with all my PTSD anxiety and such I explained in this post) but I know I need to be more social because it’s for my own good.

Not to mention, the more social you are the more successful you will be in life!

As humans, we need connection, affection, and communication to feel normal and happy. If you tend to be more like me, Ms. Hermit McHermitsen over here, you will feel more detached from the world the more anti-social you are. It’s just not good, you need friends and interactions!

Part of being successful in any aspect of life is having the ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, and to make connections with them. Networking is not just some word people throw around for fun, it’s a real thing! And it’s really really important for success.

Apparently your success depends on the people you know, and that could not be more true! The more people you socialize with, the bigger your network reach is, and the bigger your success potential is!

So go socialize already! Make new friends, go outside your comfort zone! Network outside of your own work circle, be spontaneous, and build up your social network! All you’ve got to lose is that dent in the couch you’ve been making thats forming around your body every night you stay in and binge watch shows.

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Successful people socialize, and they’re happier too!

8. Focus on One Thing at a Time

Easier said than done these days, right? There’s always so much happening at once.

But, if you can, try to just focus in on one thing at a time.

This weekend in our round-robin of girl talk, we each said one thing we wanted to work on in our lives. I said I wanted to start making smaller goals to accomplish at a time, instead of trying to focus on one huge goal that seemed impossible to ever get to.

I think I nailed it with that, because too often we have our eyes on the big prize at the end, instead of realistically focusing on the smaller prizes that will each act as a stepping stone to get us to the end.

In the wise words of Bob (Bill Murray from the movie What About Bob?), “Baby steps!” Or can we actually change it up? How about “boss-babe steps.” Sounds better 🙂

If we can take the time to re-prioritize our goals into smaller, more realistic and obtainable goals, we can get ourselves to the bigger ones later.

And, don’t forget to celebrate yourself when you hit your goals! Go back to #4 and TREAT YO SELF!

9. Smile

I know what you’re thinking, “Smile? That’s it? That’s so easy!”

Well yes, my friends, it is that easy.

Smiling makes you feel better, and gives you confidence, and it can be shared! Have you ever done the simple test of smiling at everyone you see? Every time I do it, they almost always smile back at me. And you know what? They probably keep smiling at other people too, and so on and so forth… therefore,  a smile and create hundreds maybe even thousands of other smiles!

Once you’ve mastered the whole smile thing, then you can go about the rest of your day feeling that boost of confidence. And what do confident people do? They succeed!

Yassss.

10. Have a Big Heart

One thing that I have tried to do ever since I lost my mom 3 years ago, has been to serve others to help my own heart ache to hurt a little less. And, after my own abusive marriage and broken heart, I have reached out even further to try and serve and help others as much as I can.

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity — Leo Tolstoy

In today’s society I feel like treating each other with kindness and love is quickly becoming an outdated habit. The world can be mean, dark, and selfish. What better way to help bring back that light than to have a big heart towards others?

I also want to continue to serve others and give as much as I can, because so many people in my life have lifted me in my own times and helped me through desperate moments. I feel I must pay it forward and do that to others, to pass it along and help brighten up the world.

Each of those girls in my tribe from my trip this weekend has helped me so many times. They give without thought, they love, they support, and they comfort. It is so inspiring to be around them, and their loving energy. It made me want to come home and do more!

And that is how a true successful boss babe should be; always humble enough to remember that she was once in the shoes of the ones who need the help.

Despite my heart being previously crushed, I will never let my love to serve others be diminished. It’s through that service I can truly heal it back to being whole again.

Total Boss Babe

Really, what it all boils down to, is you are the average of the 5 people closest to you. Looking at that aspect now, how successful, how powerful, how happy are you on average??

This weekend, my cup was running over with a 100% boss babe success average. And in my life I have so many other incredible and powerful women in my pride that fiercely love me, and inspire me to push through anything that comes my way.

With everything and everyone I have in my life, and I have no choice but to keep going towards becoming the total boss babe I know I can. And each of you can too, I believe in you!

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My 5 Truths and No Lies About PTSD

I knew I needed to go to therapy; in fact, I’ve needed it for years. But, especially after all of the things I have experienced in the last few, I definitely needed to finally go.

For some reason, I found it so hard to make the appointment and go. Maybe it was a mixture of the whole social stigma surrounding ‘needing therapy’; but I know for a fact it was also because I just wasn’t ready to go.

These demons and monsters, buried deep inside my emotional subconscious, are scary and blood-thirsty. I knew once I started drudging them up to my surface that it would be difficult to fight through them, to say the least.

But, a few weeks ago I was finally feeling prepared to go face them.

I won’t go too much into my therapy as of yet – but I will say that I am glad I finally got up the courage to go. I think anyone can benefit from going to see a therapist! It’s nice to have someone unbiased listen to you and give you good feedback to help you work through whatever it is you are struggling with.

After my initial appointment, my therapist warned me that working through such dormant emotional traumas came with the potential risk of triggering PTSD.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You may have heard about it pertaining to anyone who has served in the military or armed forces, has witnessed violence or death, or has been a victim of sexual or physical assault. According to Wikipedia:

In the United States about 3.5% of adults have PTSD in a given year, and 9% of people develop it at some point in their life

Unfortunately for me, I fall into a few of those categories myself, and as I start to unwind the complex strands of the trauma nooses that are bound around me internally, I am also beginning to experience certain side-effects from my own PTSD.

So today as I struggle to make it through work on about 2 hours of sleep (due to a fairly traumatic PTSD triggered episode) I wanted to write about something to help bring more awareness to this topic. It shouldn’t be something NOT talked about, and there needs to be more support for those who are suffering through it. Just like all forms of mental illness, this is one that is best treated with support and understanding. So here are 5 things you need to know about PTSD.

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Photography: Michelle Madsen 

1. Stop the Stigma

Just as I said, there is a stigma surrounding all forms of mental illnesses and disorders. I’m not really sure why the world has always had such a hardened heart towards these things.

Back in the “olden days” of Ancient Greece and Rome and Egypt, things were actually fairly humane when it came to treating these conditions. Mental disorders were thought to be connected directly with the person and the Gods; a true reflection of a fight between good and evil. There were special meditation rooms in their temples, herbal treatments, and ceremonies all specifically to help bring back the “balance.’

As time went on, things became less humane and more barbaric. Up until as recently as the 1950’s, lobotomies were still being performed as ‘treatments’ for mental disorders. People were locked away in asylums, children abandoned, electric shock therapy was done; so many horrific and terrible ways people considered as treatments to help.

Nowadays, treatments have progressively become more effective and especially more humane. However, there still remains this stigma about mental health. People suffering are afraid to talk about it or seek treatment, are made fun of for being “crazy”, and according to society should just be able to “suck it up” and “get over” whatever it is that is  affecting them.

This stigma around mental health needs to stop. Even I struggled with just deciding to go to therapy (which I DESPERATELY have needed!) because in my mind I felt like I could work through all of the trauma on my own. Its not true, and I waited longer than I should have because of social stigmas.

So a word of advice to you, someone who does not struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, being bi-polar, schizophrenia, or anything else under the mental illness spectrum: be as open minded and understanding as you can towards those who are. Don’t tell them to “just get over it” or that it’s “all in their head” and that they can easily feel better if they work out or eat better. NONE OF THAT is helpful, or even true. (Yes, working out and eating healthy can possibly help with some symptoms, but if someone is truly suffering they need actual help and actual support.)

2. Not All PTSD is the Same

While over 8 million Americans suffer from PTSD, not every case fits into a cookie cutter mold.

Because every case and cause of PTSD varies, so do the symptoms, and the treatments that help. As you venture through these turbulent waters of recovery, just like I am right now, listen to your body and mind and see what helps you the most. There are many different medications, meditations, therapies, and techniques out there. Do what works for you!

3. Not all Triggers are the Same

Going along with #2, everyone is triggered differently and from different things.

For instance, I get triggered often from nightmares. Last night I had a terrible nightmare that someone was physically attacking and choking me, and I woke up inside my closet shaking and coughing as if someone was strangling me.

I also suffer from a newly formed social anxiety when I am around people I don’t know, or large groups (which, for the record, I never used to have issues with until after my marriage.) Panic attacks also plague my nights as well, keeping me awake or causing nightmares like the one I described.

While we all have different triggers, once we realize what they are we can begin the work to overcome them or help lessen their severity. If I have anxiety in large groups, I should definitely avoid large groups when I’m feeling triggered or feel anxiety coming on.

Set boundaries for yourself so that you can avoid feeling triggered. If you don’t want to go to a social activity, then don’t go! You shouldn’t let anyone make you feel like you need to do something if you know you won’t emotionally be able to handle it. Listen to yourself and what makes you feel safe, secure, and in control.

So for those of you in my life who have given me a hard time about me being ‘anti-social’ lately… this is why. I’m doing my best to get back to being my old self, and I’ll come to things when I can! You have to be patient with me, just like I am with myself.

4. Know How to ‘Ground’ Yourself When You Feel Triggered

I came to know the term of ‘grounding myself’ back when I was married and dealing with emotional and physical stress and abuse on a daily basis. And no, it doesn’t mean I sent myself to my room to think about what I did… it’s a mental technique I learned from my sister to help ease the oncoming triggered anxiety or panic that would crash over me like a tsunami.

She deals with panic attacks and anxiety every day, and she explained that in order to feel more grounded she would go through her 5 Senses to help reign in the spinning thoughts or racing heart, and panic that was beginning to take over. I have started calling it “5 Senses in 54321“, but I’m sure there are other names for it too:

5. Name 5 things that you can see around you (a chair, trees, a succulent…)

4. Name 4 things you can feel/touch around you (the grass, wind blowing on your skin…)

3. Name 3 things you can hear around you (traffic driving, birds singing, music…)

2. Name 2 things you can smell around you (perfume, food, flowers…)

Now when it comes to the last sense (taste) if I am not able to name 1 thing I can taste currently, then I would supplement it by reciting a positive affirmation or mantra to myself. Here is my current mantra of choice:

I am strong, I am resilient, I am a survivor

Doing this technique helps to bring me back to solid ground, to feel balance and in control. Seriously, try it out next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or panicked.

Another grounding technique was one I learned from my energy healer from a few months ago. She showed me how to ‘clear away’ or ‘break off’ any energy surrounding me that I didn’t want to be a part of. Like if there was negative tension in the air from a fight between 2 co-workers, I would simply hold my hands out in front of me, palm forward, and swipe them in unison in circles towards my center and back up into place. Essentially, the right hands moves in a counter-clockwise circle and the left is clock-wise.

Now, this energy grounding technique can feel a little funny, especially if done in public (because honestly when I do it I feel like I am trying to mimic Dr. Strange from Infinity War with all his fancy hand gestures and ‘wizardry’ according to Tony Stark). But, when I focus in on my inner energy and want to feel fully grounded, sometimes it honestly does help to physically break away the negative energies that are poisoning my own.

5. You Have the Right to Detox Your Life; of People, Places, and Things

Life can be filled with all different kinds of toxicity; whether its a frenemy who likes to spread mean rumors about you or others, a place that might trigger bad memories, or an activity that gives you social anxiety.

Whatever it is, you have the right to cut it out from your life.

For me, right now all I want is to feel in control of my life and to feel emotionally secure. There was someone I used to hang out with that just was not a good influence on my energy and on my emotions; they were bringing me down when I just want people who raise me up right now (… and I know y’all started singing Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up in your head when you read that.. don’t lie!!)

So, I cut them out of my social life. I wasn’t malicious about it, and I still see them and consider them a friend. But, I don’t need to let their toxic energy affect me and bring me down.

Same goes for any place that might trigger bad feelings or memories, and send me spiraling into a PTSD/anxiety episode. I avoid all the places my ex and I used to go together, because for now it still stirs up emotions I can’t handle. It’s not that I necessarily miss him, it just makes me sad and hurts me to remember it all.

I also avoid anything that feels negative or toxic to me right now. Generally I love dark, twisted movies and tv shows but right now I can’t seem to handle them. Like the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale just dropped on Hulu, but I just can’t bring myself to watch them just yet.

And you know what? It’s ok to cut these things out and avoid them. Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what other people think or say you should do or be doing to be happy; all that matters is how you feel and if you really are happy. Because you wouldn’t keep eating something if it was filled with cyanide and slowly poisoning you, right? So same goes for toxic people, places or things; cut them out!

Listen to yourself and what you need to feel in control, secure, and of course happy.

Live Your Life

The good news in all of this, is that PTSD is a totally manageable thing. You just have to put the work and effort into managing it.

On the days that I am more consciously making the effort to feel good energy and be positive, I notice a huge difference. It’s not easy by any means, but it’s definitely doable.

Beyond medication there are plenty of ways I can help myself overcome and fight through the stormy waters of PTSD, beyond what I’ve already listed:

  • I have my person. The one who I can call day or night, 24/7, show up at their house in absolute tears, and the one who I can depend on to always be there for me. My person is my twin sister, Heather. I have talked about her a lot, and for good reason. She is my rock, my yin to my yang, and my forever voice of reason.
    • Designate your person, so that you always have that comfort and support whenever you need it!
  • Find creative ways to release your angst, your pain, and your voice. For me, it’s my writing. I have found writing to be so incredibly therapeutic, that’s why I started this blog last year! I journal privately, and I also write on my blog.
    • You could write, paint, play music, garden, dance… anything that helps you release everything building up inside!
  • Find a therapist you feel comfortable with who can help you work through everything internally. I promise you won’t regret it!
  • Go outside. Break away from being in your office all day, or from isolating yourself away from it all. Feeling distant from the world may help for awhile, but eventually it can end up being harmful to your emotional well being. So, go outside! Get some fresh air, go for a walk or a hike, or even a bike ride! The sun and fresh air will do you some good!
  • Every day, take some time for “you” time. It’s easier said than done, I know. But I feel a huge difference when I carve out even just 20 minutes a day to do something just for me, that I know will make me happy. I come home from work and like to unwind by reading, meditating, or honestly even just taking a 30 minute nap. Whatever it is, take the time for you! It’s not selfish, it’s taking care of yourself.
  • Remember that any road to recovery takes time, and to not be too hard on yourself. There will be plenty of bad days ahead, but there will also be good days too. Just be patient and don’t give up.
    • Just like breaking a bone and never getting it fixed; you have to go back to the Dr’s office and have them re-break it to set it into the right place. That is how you should see yourself as you are on this road to healing. You are re-breaking through all the old injuries, and re-setting them into the correct place.
    • Its gonna hurt like hell before it feels better. But it will eventually feel better.

Love yourself, take the time to heal, and you will eventually be to the place where you want to be.

Just as the Philadelphia 76’ers are saying these days in the NBA playoffs, #trusttheprocess !

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Photography: Michelle Madsen 

 

Life: Don’t Quote Me On It

Every time I walk out of my gym, there’s a white board by the protein shake bar that they will write motivational quotes on. Most days I kind of just pass by it and don’t read it, because they’re usually pretty cheesy and cliche. Like:

” You Gotta Hustle for That Muscle”

“Don’t Wish for a Good Body; Work For it”

“Sweat + Sacrifice = Success”

But honestly, the last few have been different, and I have thought very deeply about them. So much so that I even wrote them down in a note on my phone to save them!

“If It Doesn’t Challenge You It Won’t Change You”

“The Speed You Move Doesn’t Matter, Only the Direction”

“Positive Thoughts Breeds Positive Results”

As silly as I felt writing these gym quotes down in my phone, they really impacted me. But it’s always the small and simple things that we aren’t expecting that make the difference in us. Just like these quotes, they started small but has snowballed and escalated within me into these thoughts I am writing now.

All of these quotes can of course be applied to my life (and yours) outside of the gym.

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Won’t Change You

This particular quote has been on my mind the most since I saw it last week, due to all of the traumatic experiences and trials I have faced in the last 3 + years.

I have been challenged so much, that it’s literally almost killed me; my entire life burned down around me and I somehow survived and have dug myself out from the ashes.

And because I survived what challenged me, I have changed. I will never be that woman again, nor do I ever want to be her again.

Last week I got an email from the online print company Shutterfly  reminding me “Hey! Remember these photos from 5 years ago?” They were bridal/groomal photos my ex and I had taken, that I had used the website to put together into a printed book. And to answer your question: No, Shutterfly automated email, I didn’t remember those photos until you sent them to me. In fact, I never wanted to think about them or see them again! But there they were… showcasing me in a beautiful last wedding dress that I had picked out with my mom and my sister, posing with my ex at the Castle Amphitheater in Provo.

It was like a punch to my gut to see them. Memories flooding my mind of that day and how excited I was to take those photos, and then printing them so we could cherish them forever. I was looking forward to our wedding day coming up in May, looking forward to marrying who I thought was the man of my dreams.

Quickly, I deleted the email, but I felt dizzy and sick. It’s always a trauma trigger to see any photo of my ex for me. After talking to my sister Heather I felt a little more calm, but my feathers were definitely ruffled for the next few days.

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The thing that disturbed me the most, though, was not so much seeing my ex, but seeing that stranger who was with him in those photos. Yep, the stranger I’m referring to is me; or was me.

I am no longer that woman, and like I said earlier, I never want to be her again. She was manipulated and trapped into a sadistic and abusive relationship; she was co-dependent on the unhealthy behaviors and patterns within the marriage; she nearly lost everything including her own life trying to make it work.

I am a changed woman, and I will never… NEVER… let someone control me again like that. I am stronger, wiser, and most cautious than I was before, and it will not happen again.

And for that, those changes that have been forever made within me down into the very marrow of my bones, I am grateful. The challenges I faced changed me, all for the better.

The Speed You Move Doesn’t Matter, Only the Direction

Lately I have been struggling with feeling like I’m stuck in this weird funk. And I do not use the word “stuck” lightly at all; I feel literally trapped in this stage of my life that I can’t seem to figure out.

I wrote about it here a little bit I feel so unfulfilled right now in what I am doing and I wish I could figure out what I really want and what I really want to do with my life!

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Me…. everyday!

I guess that’s the problem everyone deals with, figuring out what to do with our lives! I’m still trying to answer that question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Well here I am, a grownup, and some days I just don’t have a damn clue!

 

To try and help guide myself on to the right course, I started making an outline of my life, which includes my goals (small and big), when I want to accomplish them, and then I went through and filled in ways I can make these things really happen. For me, visually seeing them I front of me helps a ton!

To make this outline of sorts, I actually use the incredible online organizational tool called Trello. If you haven’t checked them out, do yourself a favor and go look now!

There’s Always Time

While I sort through figuring out what exactly I want to do and what I need, I have to remember that there’s no time crunch or clock that I’m trying to race; there’s plenty of time!

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Society likes to make us believe that everything these days is fast-paced and fast-tracked, and if we don’t know what we want to do before we enter 3rd grade that we are super far behind. OK, that was an exaggeration, (and if I wanted to be what I aspired to be in 3rd grade, I would be an astronaut veterinarian, which sounds kinda cool I guess!)

Life might seem like it is racing by us, but we really do have time to figure things out at our own pace! We shouldn’t ever let anyone, or anything, pressure us into something we are not ready for or that we don’t want.

Stop to Smell the ___ (Insert Whatever You Wanna Smell Here)

The old saying about stopping to smell the roses will always be good advice, because we will always need to be reminded to slow the hell down and enjoy the present.

Too often I have felt pressure: to figure out what I wanted to do in college (even though I still wonder if I really graduated in what I should have or could have); to get married (the first time), and now to get married again; to be better, smarter, braver; to be more social and to go to more social events.

But by farrrr… my favorite pressure pertains to the trauma I am still recovering from. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation of the pressured advice to “just get over it” and “move on already.”

Gee, thanks… great advice! Easier said than done unfortunately…

In my defense, I am trying to get over it! It’s not as if I am just sitting around doing nothing and hoping it will all go away. I’m doing everything I can, but at my own pace. I go to therapy, I do energy healing, I meditate, I’ve ready numerous articles and blogs and books about healing and recovery, and everyday I continue to work on “me” in my own way!

And the most important thing in recovery and healing is not the speed of it, but the direction of it. If you’re going in a good direction, then you’re doing just fine. Stick to the middle lanes and let everyone and everything else zoom on past you in the fast lane.

I’m not writing this to sound mean or spiteful, I am just trying to put the awareness out there for anyone else in this situation. Don’t rush anyone through their recovery or grieving! Support them and love them, but definitely don’t try to tell them what to do.

If you’re reading this and  you’re working on recovering from something traumatic or heartbreaking, or if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, by all means TAKE YOUR TIME! Because the bottom line is there is no set timeline to work through any of these things.

My only advice to anyone out there is to just take your time, listen to your body and your heart about what you need to recover and heal, and honestly take the time to stop, not just to smell the flowers, but just enjoy where you’re at and take your time getting to where you want to go!

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Positive Thoughts Breeds Positive Results

Boy oh boy, do I have issues lately with my attitude. I’ll definitely be the first to admit that I have just felt defeated and super down about everything. I’ve retreated into my anti-social cocoon and been very distant and uninterested in my own life sometimes.

I think a lot of it relates to how I just feel so stuck in place right now, and can’t seem to find that light at the end of my tunnel that I’m moving towards, and gives me a purpose. Like why do I work? To just pay bills? To just exist? I want to feel like I have a reason for everything I am doing right now, and as of lately I just feel very blank and empty.

And as easy as it sometimes is to just wallow in my grouchy cloud and just feel sorry for myself, that isn’t helping me one bit. I make an effort to climb out of it everyday; some days I succeed and some days the darkness does. It’s a constant battle.

There is a saying about how Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe, and I think it also means that in general the energy and vibes you put out into the universe will reflect and then attract back to you the same.

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You can’t litter your life with negativity, and then be surprised when your attitude turns into a pile of garbage!

So, if I want to be happy and find my true happiness, I have to put that out into the universe. If I believe I can find what I want and feel happy and fulfilled through that, then it can happen!

Some days it is harder for me to break away from the negative thoughts and the fears that seem to weigh heavily on me, but eventually as I continue to work through therapy and my own self-healing processes I can be rid of them forever. It just takes time and work, and I just need to be patient and loving to myself as I do it.

What Is Broken Can Be Fixed

Going back to my initial post on my blog about Kintsukuroi  brokenness can be considered a blessing sometimes, because sometimes it takes being shattered down to pieces to be able to re-assemble your life the way it needs to be – and should be!

As I do piece myself back together from everything I’ve been through, those cracks everywhere tend to leak and let in the negativity and self-doubt that can end up breaking apart my progress again. I have to be strong, and hold those pieces together with all the good vibes and positivity I can muster up!

I won’t be broken forever, and I know that day when I finally feel whole and completely new is something definitely motivating me forward.

But go ahead and be broken – you are allowed to say you are not OK and that you’re hurting! You dont need to pretend that everything is roses and rainbows! Let yourself be broken, and start the process of putting your pieces back together.

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Just Around the Corner

So as I continue to navigate my way through my life, I’ve decided to focus my perspective and change my attitude towards what’s ahead; and not fixate so much on where I am now.

If I live as if good things are always around the corner, it gives me motivation to keep going!

And honestly, good things really are always up ahead. Life won’t always hold you down under the water trying to drown you, sometimes life will be your best friend and you’ll live holding hand dancing under rainbows and riding unicorns.

Ok, obviously not really. But life won’t always be so bad. So as I give myself a major attitude adjustment, I ask those of you also struggling to try to do the same.

And just like another motivational white board quote said once;

“You Only Live Once? False. You live Everyday! You Only Die Once.”

So friends, let’s live everyday. Be in the moment, enjoy everything (good or bad) and find the joy that’s just around the corner.

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What Are You Fighting For?

I’ve always felt a deep connection with Belle from Beauty & the Beast. She loves to read and is obsessed with libraries, is very opinionated and stubborn, loves animals, feels out of place in the popular scene, and tends to see the good in people beyond their rough exterior or bad decisions. Yes, that does sound like me!
However, I noticed something else that I related to that she says in the movie, or rather sings about, and it made me think a lot the past few days. The other day I was singing along to the soundtrack in my car, because I have no shame, and I sang these words I’ve heard for years but they happened to make an impact on me that I’d never thought of before:
There must be more than this provincial life
In the opening song, Belle sings about how everyday in her town is the same, down to the fact that she can literally say what is about to happen and when. She wants more and knows there must be something more out there somewhere for her.
Well, in comes me, relating to this like it’s a bad joke and I want to cry and laugh at the same time because it’s SO bad, but really it’s my life so maybe I should cry!
The last year I have been rebuilding my life from the dirt ground up, but lately I have been feeling this strange sense of restlessness. I think I too, am feeling as if there must be more than this Utah County provincial life. But the problem is I don’t even know what I want, or where I would find it.

Stuck

I know I shouldn’t necessarily complain about my life, lately I have just been feeling stuck where I am. I am lucky to have a job, and a good job; but I definitely do not feel fulfilled being someone’s assistant.
Everyday I go to work and I daydream about traveling, and going to do something I am truly passionate about. Sometimes I worry that I am wasting my best days at a 9-5 job that I don’t feel fulfilled doing.
My dream job? Well, I’ll tell you. There are 2 actually.
The first, which I am working on everyday, is to be a published author. I have a novel that I am nearly finished with, and my hope is that within the next 6 months I will get it out there to the public somehow. It’s scary to even think about putting my work out there, but I think it’s more nervous anticipation than anything. It’s my dream and I have to at least try, even if I fail!
My second dream job also involved writing, but a different kind.Lonely Planet writes the world’s best travel books that cater to any type of travelers. The job I would want to do for them would be as a travel writer, based in London. The job would involve me traveling to places around the world, and detailing all the things someone could do in this place that may not be as well-known as the big touristy things to do.
Sounds amazing, right?! *Sigh* A girl can dream…
I want to fight for my dreams. I want to work towards actually achieving something I am passionate about, and finally feeling fulfilled. So for now I will continue to do the everyday, ho-hum, predictable things, but I am only doing them until I see the chance to get to my dreams.

The Fight

Until I am able to achieve my real dreams, I have found something else to fill the void for now. The solution? Serving others and volunteering my time and effort to help with charities. While I’m working towards fighting for my own dreams, I can fight for them and theirs too.
Starting in 2016, my sister Heather and I were the on the board that helped plan the annual charity gala for The American Cancer Societyin Salt Lake City. It was such an honor to be invited onto the board, and to help bring in donations to raise money to go towards cancer research.
Last year, Heather and I were given the chance to become the auction co-chairs of the gala, when the previous chair had to resign for personal reasons as she began her own battle against cancer. We of course stepped in, and threw an amazing gala with the help of our amazing board and the employees at ACS, and raised nearly $300,000.
Of course this charity means so much to me and my sister, because of our mom who passed away 3 years ago on February 17, 2015 from cancer. She was such a warrior and a fighter against the disease, and we saw so many other patients throughout our time at the hospitals and clinics who were also fighting as hard as they could for their lives.
Ever since my mom passed, I have wanted to help as much as I can to bring in the monetary needs that can be used to find a cure for cancer. Even in just the last 5 years cancer treatments have evolved, and I know deep in my heart that doctors are closer than ever before to finding a real cure.
Beyond fighting to find a cure, Heather and I also annually visit The Huntsman Cancer Institutein Salt Lake, where our mom did her treatments from 2009-2015. We bring in donated items such as blankets, beanies, scarves, and cookies from Swig . We go around the anniversary of our mom passing, because giving back to these patients not only helps lift their spirits, but it helps fill in the gaping, painful holes in our hearts a little bit too.
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Cancer Warriors Photoshoot: HMUA: Kathy LynchPC – Angela Marie Photography
Many cancer patients are fighting alone, as they come from out of state to the Huntsman. We always walk around and visit with as many people as we can, and sometimes just simply having someone visit with them and talk to them for a few minutes so they know they are not alone, can make such a huge difference.
Last year, there was one woman in particular who still stands out in my mind. She was in one of the infusion clinics, laying alone in a corner on a hospital bed. As we walked up we smiled and she seemed confused at first, wondering who we were and why we had this cart of donations we were handing out. As we explained why we were there, she asked, “Why are you doing this?” We looked at each other, and then Heather answered, “Because we want to! We just want to visit with patients and make your day a little less lonely or scary.”
Immediately this woman began to cry, and she said she was so grateful we had come by because she had been feeling particularly lonely that day. We cried too, and all hugged. We sat with her for a few minutes and talked before moving on.
I will never forget her, and how much just a simple hug and short conversation (and delicious Swig cookie) made all the difference.
And that, is what I continue to fight for. The difference.
I want to keep fighting for people like my mom, or that woman, or your sister, your co-worker, neighbor; anyone who is trying to win the battle against cancer.

Fighting For Me

Maybe I don’t feel fulfilled in my own personal life for the time being, but I can feel fulfilled fighting to find a cure for cancer through charity donations, and through visiting cancer patients when I can.
I also will soon become certified to volunteer at theSalt Lake Rape Recovery Center  where I can fight for victims of assault and rape, give them comfort and support, and help them recover from the trauma they are going through. I wish I had a center like this to go to when I was 18, so I feel like I can heal that part of me by helping these victims.
Unfortunately my daily fight also includes fighting the demons of my past and my own traumas. Each day is a different battle, but I survive every one and keep moving forward, because I’m fighting for me.
I will continue to fight towards my own dreams too, but can only take it one day at a time. Because I know, seriously, that there is definitely more than this provincial life in store for me.

Golden 33

Every year around my birthday, I start to think about my life. All of it. Almost like an annual existential crisis of sorts. And these are a lot of thoughts, just swirling around my head like some heavy fog overpowering a city.
And the fog gets heavier and thicker, until suddenly it’s 3 am and I’m still awake just thinking about stuff.
Where I’m at currently and what I’m doing…
What I wish I was doing with my life…
What I realistically should be doing with my life…
Where I wish I was living…
Something dumb and embarrassing I did like 5 years ago…
Choices I wish I’d made differently, and how my life might look today if I had…
The lyrics to If I Could Turn Back Timeby Cher…
Who I was 4 years ago on my birthday…
Who I was even just last year on my birthday…
What are my passions…
Are aliens real…
I mean, clearly the list goes on and on in a never-ending swirling circle of chaos. This is why I only got about 3 hours of sleep.
But, the good news is that there is something constructive that comes from this annual existential crisis. Every year when I get into this little funk and start over analyzing my life, it helps me see more clearly that there are thing I do want to change in my life, and I start trying to plan what I can do to make those changes.

Scottish Stories

While I was lost in my thoughts last night, lying awake in my bed, my mind drifted to a place I hadn’t thought of for about two years. Scotland.
I went on an amazing bucket-list trip to Scotland; something I had been wanting to do for years. Unfortunately, I went with my ex as a sort of “last effort thing to try to save our marriage.” And if I can give you any advice, it’s to definitely not try to save your marriage with a vacation. (Because that’s just horrendously stupid! And yes… I admit it was a stupid choice to go with him.)
Soon after we came home was when the s*it hit the fan and I ended up finally breaking away from the toxic relationship for good. However, because of the timing of everything, some of my incredible trip to Scotland got a little lost in the chaos and hidden away to find as fun little mental Easter eggs that I will probably continue to find over the next few years as they resurface into my consciousness.
That trip to Scotland, as cliche as it sounds, was exactly what I needed though; because certain events and experiences there helped me realize that I did need to end my marriage. And honestly, in ways changed me forever. I think that’s what real travel shoulddo though… it should change you!
Now, I won’t go over my entire 14 day trip in one post because it’s just too much to take in with one sitting. But, I will showcase 2 stories I thought of last night that randomly happened to pop up into my chain of existential ponderings, and the “how did I get where I am?” and the “where do I need to go now?” thoughts.

The Sheep and The Mud

One of the places I had been looking forward to the most of my Scotland trip was the Isle of Skye. I had researched it for months, drooling over the gorgeous photos and just finding it so unbelievable that this place could be real. (And for the record, pictures do not even come close to doing this place justice…)
Quite literally, as we drove across the bridge connecting Scotland to Skye, we entered a place of my dreams. And I say this because, since going there, I constantly dream about it. There are several reoccurring dreams with the same locations that I have (I’ll have to do a post sometime about my dreams in general…) and Skye has become one of those places. So I figuratively and literally dream about the Isle of Skye!
We only spent one day there, and packed in everything we could in those precious hours. After starting off exploring at the ruins of the Clan Donald castle called Armadale, we wanted to do some hiking.
Studying a map, and doing some research online when we found wifi at the castle visitor center, we found some close by castle ruins we could hike down to, starting at a beach called Tarskavaig. Driving along a dirt road for about 17 miles, that we came to realize was used for herding to millions of sheep that apparently live on Skye, we found what we believed to be a good spot to park and start walking.
The thing about Scotland that is cool, is that you can literally hike wherever you want to. If it’s open land, it’s open for hiking. The bad part about that, though, is unlike here in the US, trails are not really marked so you kind of have to just find your own way.
The result? Most people get horribly lost.
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Tarskavaig Beach
 The silver lining in us getting lost was I didn’t mind so much where we got lost. We started on a rocky secluded beach, and made our way towards some green cliffs, which we climbed up to get to higher ground. Up there, we ventured through fields of sheep, passing a small abandoned home, and finding some cool caves along the way. Every where we turned was picturesque and wonderful.
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The abandoned old sheep herder’s house 
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After walking for some time, my hiking partner was becoming frustrated that we were lost. I was lost too, but more so in my thoughts and in the scenery around us. There was literally no one else around, it was as if we were in a completely isolated place in the world, and the only other living things were sheep. I kind of wished it was just me and the sheep though.
We were up pretty high, and I thought if we walked towards the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean we could maybe spot to castle ruins we were trying to find below us somewhere. As I walked towards it, I happened to step with my right leg into a deep pit of mud, which went all the way past my knee!!
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The mud pit that I stepped in was right by those big boulders by the cliff! 
So after I got pulled out, and I laughed hysterically about the fact that my entire right leg was covered in mud and my boot now weighed 20 pounds, we looked over the edge of the cliff and still saw no signs of this supposed ruined castle.
Feeling defeated, we started to circle back towards where we thought we had come from. However, we did not and ended up even more lost and turned around. Magically, as if summoned by our need for help, a man came walking down a hill in the distance. From the looks of him, he was a sheep herder. A bunch of the cute, fluffy little sheep were frolicking behind him as he walked right towards us. Waving us over, we walked towards him too.
Quickly we realized he barely spoke English. He had an incredibly heavy Scottish accent, but he mostly spoke Gaelic and we could hardly understand him. What we did understand immediately, though, was his warm friendly smile! He just beamed with joy! He seemed like one of the jolliest and friendliest humans on the planet.
I was super stoked about those sheep of his, they are these adorable little sheep with the cutest black and white legs and curled little horns:
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I tried to pet a few of them and they scampered away. The farmer laughed at me, calling them, “wee little beasties.” I just wanted to pet the wee little beasties so bad!
Realizing we were very much not from around there (sassenachs as Scots call them, which means outlanders, or outsiders) he spoke slower and was very patient with us. He waved his arms around as he talked with us, and we tried to tell him where we were trying to go. I showed him on my phone the castle ruins and he started laughing. “Ach… it’s weeeee over there!” he explained, pointing towards the far shoreline in the distance.
I managed to get some of his story of of him (from what I could understand anyway.) He had been born and raised on Skye, and had been a sheep farmer his whole life. Married to his wife for over 40 years! I I commented, meaning for it to be in my head but it ended up being said out-loud, “You must love your life here!”
He nodded actually understanding what I said, and replied with a giant smile, “I kenna the mud and the wee beasies!” He laughed and pointed at my mud soaked right leg when he mentioned mud. (Which I figured his comment loosely translated to “I know the mud and the sheep!” or maybe “All I need is the mud and the sheep!”)
Eventually, we decided to give up on this particular castle adventure, because there were other things we wanted to see on Skye before night fall came in a few hours. We said our goodbyes to our farmer friend, and started walking in the way he told us to go back.
I looked back and watched him round up his wee beasties, and continued merrily on his way. I envied him. Honestly, I did. I felt this immense jealously of how happy this man was, with the simplest life on this unbelievably beautiful island. It’s all he knew, but apparently that’s all he needed.
We climbed back the cliffs and made our way back to our car. As we began the drive to our next hike to the Fairy Pools, my thoughts remained with the sheep farmer for awhile. I wished my life could be less complicated, less out of my control, and less sad. I wanted to feel the joy that farmer felt every day. He loved his life! He literally radiated with joy! And those sheep were joyful too, frolicking and dancing all around him!
What I wouldn’t have given in that moment to feel that kind of happiness. I tried to think when I truly, really, felt that happy. It had been months.. maybe even years. It made me sad, and I started crying in the car.
He asked if I was ok, and I said I was just feeling tired from all the jet lag. It wasn’t a complete lie though. I was feeling emotionally jet lagged from years of unhappiness.
I managed to pull myself back together, to just try to enjoy the beauty of this place I had been waiting so long to see.
But deep down I knew that eventually, I needed to find my own version of wee beasties and mud that made me happy. I will never forget that farmer; he will never know what an impact he made on a sassenach visiting all the way from Utah.

Dierdre of the Sorrows

Heartbreak and despair are two very common themes among Scottish folklore, I came to discover. I think that happens in almost every culture, though, because we as humans always look for stories we can relate to, to help us through our own mess.
Well, Dierdre’s story happened into my life right when I needed someone to relate to.
It was close to the end of our trip, and we had honestly been fighting quite a bit that day.
Despite it all, we were in Glen Coe which is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in person, second only to the Isle of Skye, and that made things better for the moment (a bandaid on a bullet hole so to speak.) The rolling, green hills and expansive valleys are simply stunning. No wonder so many movies and shows are filmed here! (including scenes from Harry Potter, Skyfall, Braveheart, Game of Thrones… just to name a few notables!)
We had finished visiting the historical site of the Glen Coe massacre(which I will have to do another post about that whole place someday…) and we decided to drive eastward through the Glen Coe highlands towards our next destination of Dalmally.
After we went on a brief climbing adventure to see the shooting location of Hagrid’s Hut in Harry Potter (on which I ended up rolling down a very steep hill and sprained my ankle…but it was so worth it!!…) we pulled out a map and were deciding where to go next. Since my ex was a very stubborn person when it came to figuring out directions, I left him alone and hobbled towards The Claighaig Inn where our car was parked, to explore a little. There was some information inside the gorgeous wooden lobby, including an array of pamphlets.
I managed to grab a few random ones before I was summoned to head back out on the road. The driver was still upset with me about something I can’t even recall, so as the passenger I silently enjoyed the scenery surrounding us on the road, feeling mesmerized by the intense beauty of it all.
Remembering some of the pamphlets I had grabbed, I happened to pull out one describing the folklore surrounding Glen Coe, including Deirdre of the Sorrows. The name itself pulled me in, because in that moment I was feeling like Aly of the Sorrows, so I quickly read through her story. To paraphrase:
Deirdre was the daughter of a famous story teller, who served in the court of King Conchobar Mac Nessa in Ireland. When she was born, the high druid of the court (a magical priest of sorts), prophesied that she would grow to be so beautiful that kings
and lords would go to war over her. 
Intrigued by this, and clearly doing the kingly thing, Conchobar tore her away from her family and sent her to live in isolation until she was old enough for him to marry.
Well, Deirdre had her own ideas. As she grew close to the age of marrying, she was out hunting one day and happened to meet the handsome young warrior named Naoise. Falling deeply in love, the two defied the king and fled to Glen Coe in Scotland to be together. They made a life there, living among the valleys and the mountains
in Glen Etive.  
I wish the story had a happy ending, but it doesn’t. The king was furious and sent his army after them. It took them awhile to hunt them down, but eventually they found them and in the end Naoise was killed. 
Heart broken and inconsolable, Deirdre took her own life to be with her love, right by the river in Glen Etive. However, the legend says that she was never able to find him in the afterlife, because King Conchobar wanted to keep them apart forever; so sometimes her sorrowful cries can be heard in Glen Etive by the river. Some people even see her wandering around searching for Naoise. She never stops searching for her true love.
I had been so consumed by this story, that when I happened to look up at the road again I saw a sign to turn right for Glen Etive. “TURN RIGHT!!” I yelled dramatically (even though the turn was still another 500 or so feet ahead…)
Something was just pulling me to go there, to go see where Deirdre had spilled the blood of her inconsolable sorrows into the waters of the river. Maybe Deirdre herself was pulling me there, who knows!
Glen Etive definitely did not disappoint us one bit. The road led us into a small canyon, carving into the wet green hills and into some unearthly beautiful terrain. I was silently staring out the windows again, just intensely taking it all in.
We pulled over eventually, stopping in two different places. The first was here, by this small but incredible waterfall.
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Then we stopped here, at the iconic Skyfall location from one of the more recent James Bond films. (Everyone raise their hand who wants to make out with Daniel Craig!) (And for the record I’m raising my hand.)
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In the movie Skyfall, James Bond stands in this exact place with M (if you recognize it)
I didn’t hear Deirdre’s cries, or see her, but I think her story resonated somewhere deep inside me. I was wanting to leave a controlled life to find my true happiness, to experience the real joy I knew was out there for me. I remember standing back and watching my ex as he walked further down the road from where I stood and took the last photo, and I realized he was not my Naoise. My Naoise was still out there. Fighting back tears, I blamed it on how beautiful the scenery was, but really I didn’t want to admit to this man that I realized I was probably going to have to leave him to save myself and go after what my heart really wanted and deserved.
It was a difficult thing to come to grips with, and having those thoughts terrified me. Guilt overwhelmingly rose within me, telling me I was a terrible person and wife for even thinking those things. But at the same time, I was miserable beyond whatever sorrows haunted Glen Etive; and I thought if Deirdre was willing to risk it all to find her true happiness than maybe I should too.
I think I spilled my own sort of blood there on those river beds; feeling the beginnings of my new life path forming inside my heart that led me away from who I was with. I’ll never forget that pivotal and important moment, and a part of me will forever be left there in that beautiful wilderness. Just like Deirdre, I never want to stop searching for my true happiness.

The Golden Birthday

So here I am, on what I am dubbing my Golden Birthday (turning 33 on the 3rd! Or is that a ‘double golden’ birthday?). Since I was only a toddler on my real golden birthday, I’m pretty sure this one counts because I don’t remember my real one.

Supposedly your golden birthday is supposed to be a lucky year. I’m hoping that can be the case for me. I feel good about 33! I really think 33 is going to be a magical year for me.
I feel healthier than I have in a long time, and I’m still working towards the happy part… but that doesn’t mean my life is not full of joy! I have so much to be thankful for and everyday I realize how incredibly blessed I am for everything I have, and for all of the amazing people in my life who I love.
The good news is, I still have plenty of time to figure out my life. So despite how many more sleepless nights I may have ahead of me, thinking about everything, at least I find comfort in knowing that I still have time to sort it all out. Everyone is continuously progressing, learning, and growing; so I’m not alone on this strange road of life. So I know one day I’ll find my own Naoise, and my own sheep and mud too.
So cheers to 33!

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Forever searching for those wee little beasties 

Femmepowered

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Photography done by Amy Bischoff  amy.b.bischoff@gmail.com
Women are amazing.
Seriously, think about the women in your life, the ones who have shaped you, and made a difference. The ones who took a stand in the face of opposition for what they wanted and believed in. The ones who changed the world, changed society’s ideas of human rights, or even just the ones who changed your own life. The intelligent and brave women who have carved new paths in history, or made great new discoveries and inventions. The women who have literally grown you inside them, endured unbelievable pain, birthed you into this world, and raised you to become the people you are today.
See what I’m saying? Women are amazing. We can endure pain, heart break, and failure with only the grace that a woman can. Did you see this articlecomparing menstrual cramps some women deal with monthly on the same level as the pain of a heart attack? Thats right… we aren’t faking it when we say it hurts! And yet, we survive and we thrive, through all the things life throws at us.
And hasn’t life continuously thrown opposition in the path of women, since literally the beginning of time? Even if there is never proper recognition of overcoming them.
For instance, in the Old Testament of the Bible, so many women go un-noted or even unnamed in their roles. One in particular, is Noah’s wife. Literally, she is referred to as “Noah’s wife”. Now, clearly we all know that she probably played a significant role in Noah building that ark, because let’s all be real here… that man I’m sure needed a woman’s perspective and organizational skills to get that ship built and all those animals in their places. I know Noah did not built that damn ark without a woman’s help! I know he was an incredible blessed man, and was chosen for a reason by God to take on such a task, but I also know he surely had the help of “wife” to do so.
Now in all seriousness and sincerity, though, women have historically proven time and time again through all the adversities put in their paths that they are capable to overcome them. And, women are just as capable as the counterpart sex to do so.
Did you see this articledepicting the recent discovery that a viking tomb previously unearthed in Sweden in the late 1800s, one of a prominent, high-ranking male war officer, is actually female! There were stories and legends of female warriors in ancient Viking armies, but never DNA evidence to prove so until this study was completed.
Again, women are just amazing. And we continue to progress forward towards more equality in the world.

The Top Two of the Totem Pole

In my own life, I have been so surreally lucky to be surrounded by strong, incredible female role models who have helped to mold and shape me into who I am. As today is International Women’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve been influenced daily by these fierce females.
Of course, the two that are the most important to me are my mom and my twin sister, Heather.

My Mom

It goes without saying, my mom was one of the best people I have ever known; and I’m not just saying that because she is my mom. She truly was one of the kindest, wittiest, most stubborn, Christ-like, and loving people ever. Despite being in terrible pain from her cancer every day for 18 years she never complained; NEVER! Until her last day, she always put her family first.
I feel so blessed to have had the years I had with her, and to be able to witness her legacy in my every day life. Somedays I feel humbled, thinking that I didn’t deserve her as a mom. Since her passing, I try to live my life in a way that I hope will make her proud, and I continue to walk in the footsteps she’s left for us to follow. I hope I can be even a 1/1000 of the woman she was!

My Sister

Heather is more to me than my twin sister, she’s my soul mate and my saving grace. We have always said God knew how much we would need one another here, so that’s why He sent us together. We are #wombmatesfor life, and I wouldn’t survive a day without her.
She has been my literal rock most of my life, more than she could ever possibly know. I look up to her in so many ways, watching her continue to progress more and more into such an inspirational person. Not to mention, she is the best mom to 3 of my favorite tiny humans on the planet.
She is the kindest, most thoughtful and loving friend to everyone in her life. I tell her all the time, most of her friends don’t deserve her because she is too good to them and most of them take advantage of her kindness. Despite that, her larger-than-life heart never gives up on anyone, even those who don’t deserve her.
Just like she never gave up on me. Even as my darkest days in my abusive marriage caused me to try to push everyone close to me away, she never gave up on me. Right when I was about to drown her hand was there and she pulled me back to the surface. Heather, you saved my life, and I’ll forever be grateful to have you by my side.

The Pride of Women

Like a Lioness

Beyond my sister and my mom, there are so many other important and influential women in my life.
Heather and I embarked on an incredible journey a few years ago, one we had been waiting literally our entire lives to do, and we met our birth mom and our 3 half-sisters.
We were adopted when we were born, and had wondered and searched for our birth-mom since we turned 21 and were able to open our state records in Utah where we were born. Finally a few years ago, we finally met her and our new sisters. This is all a long and beautiful story on its’ own, one that deserves more than just a paragraph, so one day I will give it what it deserves.
With meeting our birth-mom and our sisters, we formed an incredible bonded circle of love, a protective and honest group of women who love one another fiercely. We started calling ourselves a Pride, just like a group of lionesses.
Did you know the lionesses are the ones who run the show? That’s right, the lady lions rule the plains of Africa. That’s why we women decided to embrace the name of the pride, because we are also all powerful lionesses too. And what better circle to be in than a Pride? Name a better one, I’ll wait.
My own pride is filled with so many incredible, strong, loving, and fierce women. My grandmothers, my aunts, my female cousins; my girl-friends through high school who have remained close and dear to me; my mom’s friends who inspired and supported her through her battles and I love so dearly; my girl-friends I made throughout college who will also be life long friends; and my newly made circle of friends I have create post-divorce made up of divorcees and single moms who are all incredible survivors.
This pride of women is a strength to me everyday, one that influences me and keeps me moving forward.

Make it Bigger

So continuing with the whole pride idea, wouldn’t it be amazing if all of us women in the world could continue to support and lift up one another? We can all be a part of this female Pride circle.
Because there is strength in numbers, and sisterhood should be global. We all face adversity and together we can overcome it all.
Each time a women stands up for herself, she stands for all women
– Maya Angelou
Each of us has coded within our DNA the strength of our ancestors before us, meant to help guide us in today’s world as the women who will make a difference. Alone, we are a warrior, but together as women worldwide, we are an unstoppable army.
She was a tribe
She, by herself
on her own
She had the strength 
of an army
embedded within
her bones
– r.h. Sin

Their Time Is Up

A few weeks ago, I had someone of a debate with a man (who will of course remain unnamed for soon-to-be obvious reasons) about the significance of the #metoo movement, and everything it stands for and is hoping to accomplish.
Part of the problem, as noted with this particular man, is the ignorance about the real issues women are fighting against everyday. He told me #metoo was a “bunch of crap women are using for attention, to get what they want and to not have to face the consequences to decisions they have made or situations they have put themselves into. It’s a phase and it will fade out just like every trend on social media.”
Cue in my absolute inner rage. I was beyond furious, especially for him to be so ignorant to the problem. Quite literally, the ignorance is the problem! Blaming and shaming women, those of us who are the victims, into thinking we are actually the ones causing it all. Silencing us with fear, and pushing us into inferiority by forcing us to think the only way to get to where we want to go is through them and how they want to give it to us.
That, my friends, is the problem.
Society has become incredibly ignorant to the rampant issue at hand that women are facing, including (but definitely not limited to) sexual harassment, rape, abuse, and inferior mistreatment. When the #metoo started on social media, I was truly heart broken to see how many women I knew were also posting it, because most of them I had no idea. Just like I’m sure many of you had no idea. But it just goes to show how far-spread and how out of hand this issue has become.
The sad truth is, probably every woman you know has had to deal with something I listed above to some degree, or they will.
But Just as Oprah said in her recent speech at the Golden Globes referring to those who continue to mistreat women (or turn a blind eye to the problems at hand), “their time is up.”
“And when that new day finally dawns it will be
because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are in this
room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make
sure they become leaders that take us to the time where
nobody has to say ‘me too’ again”
– Oprah

Not Just A Trend

It needs to be more than just a trend on social media, though. It needs to be the movement we want it to be, to make the changes we deserve and need. We have started the ground work to finally push free and move forward, we just need to keep going. We need to do more!
Think of all the amazing women again, the ones in your life who have made the most impact on you, and mean the most to you (and yourself included if you are also a woman!)
Don’t you want the best for these amazing women? Don’t you want them to be treated fairly, to not be abused and harassed? Don’t you want those changes for you too, and for your daughters and their daughters; to have them live in a world where they feel valued and safe?
The answer should be YES.
We can all do something to make these changes a reality. The tides are definitely shifting, and with the whole #metoo campaign it has created a larger awareness of the issues at hand. Now we need to ride that current into this new age, and continue to draw the waters to the newly formed tides.

By Small and Simple Things, are Great Things Brough to Pass

My sister and I are both so honored to volunteer to help plan the upcoming Hope & Healing Charity Gala for the Salt Lake Rape Recovery Center. It is an incredible place, and all of the proceeds from the gala will go towards treatment for the victims who come to the center.
My contributions right now may seem so small towards the greater picture of the changes that need to be made, but great changes are often made through small ones.
If each of us makes an effort to push these changes, things might actually change.
We need to stand together, support one another, and fight to make it happen. We can march peacefully to show our support for changes, push for HR departments to fulfill their legal duties to protect women in the workplace, and from here on out discontinue our too-long tolerance we have had for female inferiority.
We are women, we are strong, and we are powerful. Hear us roar.

Affirmation for Women

I’ve started a new habit every morning with reading daily affirmations to inspire me with positive vibes and ideas. It’s something I recommend all of you do! It has made such a difference in my days over the past few weeks.
To go along with this idea of affirmations, I wanted to finish this post with an incredible affirmation/poem I came across on Instagram this morning, written and shared by @labohemehouseofthewishingtrees
May today be the day you rise up out of fear & adversity & the challenges that life offers us…
May you grow & keep growing…
May you see & know the importance of your existence…
May you step into your personal power & truly claim it…
May you walk tall, chin out, chest up, knowing, without a doubt, that power, strength, intuition, compassion, & passion is your birth right. You can own it now…
Follow your gut, it never lies…
But most of all, my women friends, forgive yourselves. Be kinder to you. Know that you are loved beyond measure…
Where there is great strength, there is such softness too & life cannot harden you…
For in the centre of your heart, are flowers unfurling. Stars pulled from behind the moon. Sunshine pulsating & creeping its way through to the marrow of your bones…
Remember the little girl you once were. The child’s hopes & dreams. We were so much closer to our own evolution then…
Call upon all the women within you, every version of yourself & allow them to love one another. Cradle one another lovingly & purposefully…
You are incredible…
We are the light bringers…
The bearers of life…
The keeper of love…
Save the very best of yourself, for you…
And reach out, to the women in your life, the girl-children you are raising, the mothers who raised you… & fill them with light & gratitude today, offer them hope, lend them your strength & gift them your love…
True wisdom grows, from the ruins…
And sometimes, only when you’ve broken apart completely, can all the worlds light fill you…
My friends, beautiful women, glorious beings…
You are not alone…
You are never alone…
We rise & we fall & we break open together…
Today & every day, I am sending you light & so much love…
Your power, your resilience, your fortitude, your softness, is breathtaking…
AWAKEN.
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Progression, Not Perfection

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to watch my NFL team, The Philadelphia Eagles, win the ultimate underdog Super Bowl against the Patriots. It was an intense game, played well by both teams, but the Eagles managed to outplay the New England team and come out on top. It was honestly one of the best games I have watched in a long time! I was beyond stressed, especially during the last 4 minutes of the game; so much in fact that I was shaking from the adrenaline! As soon as the win was finalized, my eyes teared up and my heart was so proud of my hometown team.

One of the greatest things about this win, was that the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl before. I’ve waited my whole life to see this happen, and it was sooo worth the wait! Now hopefully we won’t have to wait that long again for the next one 🙂

What’s even more impressive, though, is the underdog factor. Statistically, Philadelphia should have never made it to the championship game. In fact, they were not expected to take the NFC East; but they did.

We lost our star quarterback, Carson Wentz, in the 14th week of the season during a bittersweet win against the Rams, clinching the NFC East and proving sometimes the underdog shouldn’t be underestimated.

When Wentz tore his ACL and LCL in his left knee, it was as if the entire Eagles’ nation across the country felt his pain. Everyone was worried we couldn’t keep going without him and his magical passes.

In came another underdog, our backup QB Nick Foles. As a backup, he hadn’t seen much playing time and the speculations began that the season may end sooner than we’d all hoped.

But, it didn’t.

Clearly, it’s not about who you are and where you’ve been; it’s how much you want to get to where you want to go. In the case of the Eagles, they wanted that win. They left everything they could on the field, playing with everything they had. In fact, they outplayed the titan team, especially with one amazing trick play that even Tom Brady himself couldn’t do in the same quarter.

I have always been so proud to be from Philadelphia, and my heart has been swollen with pride and love for my city and my team ever since Sunday night. I am still in shock that we won!

And honestly, who doesn’t love a great underdog story?

Rocky Knows Best

Another quirky pride thing about Philadelphia is the fact that we love and worship a fictional character from one of the greatest, classic sports movies ever; Rocky Balboa. It honestly makes me laugh sometimes how much we love this person, and act as if he is real! There’s even an iconic statue of him at the base of the famous stairs he runs up in the movie, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Go ahead and be a tourist and run up them next time you’re there, you have to!

Besides being a great movie franchise, there is another reason we love Rocky: he is the epitome of the ultimate underdog who works hard for what he wants, and more often than not he succeeds!

Yesterday scrolling through social media, seeing dozens of posts about the Eagles from friends back in Philly, I saw one in particular that stood out to me. One of my best friends used this quote from Rocky:

“You, me, or nobody isn’t gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

See… this is why we love Rocky!

While of course this advice can be applied to not only boxing, but any sport in general, it clearly can apply to life as well.

Life is definitely going to hit us hard at times. Sometimes it will even sucker punch us when we are least suspecting it, before we can block and counter it. Things happen.

But, its in those moments that are truest character is tested, because when we choose to get up and keep going, thats when we see our real strength we may not have known was there before. Just like Rocky said, you have to keep moving forward!

nolite te bastardes carborundorum

The thing to remember, though, is that you haven’t failed if you have been knocked down. Because like I said, it’s going to happen from time to time. In fact, it’s inevitable! It’s one of the necessary evils, otherwise we would never learn and become better.

But just because you’re down doesn’t mean you can’t get back up. It means life is testing you and your ability to succeed and you NEED to get up. You should WANT to get up, and get back out there and fight even harder against whatever is pushing you to the ground.

And we will get knocked down from time to time, because we are not perfect, and neither is life.

But what we are moving towards shouldn’t be perfection;

Instead we should be striving for progression.

What I mean is, progression forward is more important than doing something “perfect” according to whatever stupid worldly standards you’re being held accountable against. The Eagles will I’m sure admit that their game on Sunday, as well as their entire season, was not perfect in anyway; but they won because they continued to fight and get up when they got knocked down. They proved that no matter how many times you get knocked flat on your back, you can always get back up and move forward. Even Rocky wasn’t perfect either; sometimes he lost!

But all that should matter, is if you are progressing forward and learning from each time you do get knocked down. Maybe next time you’ll see the hit coming, and you’ll block it. Maybe next time you do get pushed down, it won’t take so long for you to get back up.

We can’t let life keep us knocked down, or as the title of the section is called, “nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” If you’ve seen the amazing show on Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale, you’ll recognize this Latin phrase.

Apparently it is not translated entirely the way it should, but for the purposes of the book and the show they translated it to mean “don’t let the bastards keep you down.”

So, don’t let the bastards of life hit you and keep you down. Be a fighter; get back up and progress forward.

You may be the underdog at times, but as history shows us time and time again, the underdog can win! Keep fighting, and keep getting back up, and as we say in Philadelphia… Fly, Eagles, Fly!

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Photography by: Angela Marie Photography  Hair/MU: Kathy Lynch