Quiet Strength & Boat Docks

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time in beautiful Trout Creek, Montana. What an opportunity for a previous Montana girl! I was thrilled to be in a gorgeous setting surrounded by people who have done nothing but bless me since I’ve known them. It was refreshing to be somewhat off the grid while being in such a space that allowed me to recharge and focus on¬†getting back to what is truly important in this life. I take sole responsibility for the fact that there was no post last week but am also owning up to the fact that this life is meant to be enjoyed. I’ve also come to the conclusion that one post I’m proud of and took time to write is better than two hurried posts in one week. All about balance friends. ūüôā

A short walk from our cabin (and I mean merely steps), was a dock. On my last evening in Montana, I headed for the dock, book in hand and fully ready for peace. While I was laying there, with the sun dancing out at me whenever the clouds fancied moving out of the way, I was content. As the dock gently held me, I listened to the water swishing against the sides of it and felt such stillness. Between all going on in my life, these moments are rare for me. I become contemplative and exceedingly grateful whenever I am lucky enough to have such experiences.

IMG_20170602_154334612Towards the end of my Montana weekend, I had heard this word, “quiet strength,” used in reference to me. I didn’t know that I had entirely believed it at first but the more I allowed myself to accept love not only from others but also myself, the more I realized it might not be so crazy after all.

When the waves and water are crashing up against the side of the dock, it remains strong and in place. It might sway a bit with the forces of nature going on around it but will continue to stand firmly. I have been pushed along and nearly faltered at times, yet this reserve of strength within keeps me going. It was never about whether the dock moved when situations were uncertain or trying. But rather, the fact that it was able to hold itself up no matter what came at it. Even supporting others in the process at times. What is below the surface when the world is doing its very best to drag us down is the source of something incredibly great.

Our unique characteristics and personalities are not to be shied away from. Each of us exudes our strength differently and perhaps, some are still on the journey to find what that looks like. After the passing of my mom and the events that followed, I began to see how clearly defined my strength really was. It didn’t look like my sister’s, my mom’s or even the woman next to me. It was divinely my own. How I performed under pressure, the choices I made in the aftermath of hurt and seeking to focus on being the very best me I can, no matter what. Looking back, I was shaken and life crashed down on me hard. The waves still rock me, reminding me of the fragility of it all and to take nothing for granted. ¬†One of the absolute best take-aways from these past couple of years is to finally know me. To stand with my head held high in the face of conflict, to admit when I am wrong and to accept others with the same grace I ask for. I am blessed to walk in that knowledge each day. To face the woman in the mirror with 100% confidence and say, “Quiet strength is anything but weak. You are fierce. You are mighty. You are enough.”

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Coffee & Community

My allergies have set in this week, depleting my energy levels and all-around making me feel like garbage. This was not the post I originally intended to write but now and then we have to adjust to that which we’re capable of in that moment. Hoping the¬†fogginess of this congestion¬†will lift soon because I am missing feeling healthy.

I lead a community group through my church. When I saw the lack of the very niche I was seeking (post-college, no kids), I felt compelled to start one. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have never seen myself as much of the leading type. But, when we stretch and spread our wings a bit during our growth process, doors that were once locked now become open. The experiences and situations within my own life were shaping me to step into roles that I had initially never envisioned fulfilling. How¬†beautiful that we are given precisely what we need.

What does this group look like? Our skills, talents and backgrounds¬†are varying but our desire for community is the same. From students, to those in science, hospitality and non-profit work. Twice a month, we gather for coffee and discussion. Though I’ll admit, we didn’t always look this way and have only found our footing in the past month. Our little group was challenged with scheduling conflicts and a brand new leader (Me!) who was still learning the best way to navigate this course. But, I’m thrilled to have found a formula that works for us.

This week, I am feeling grateful for these women and the opportunities that we have to10334253_10152224498548763_6726641651941934601_n learn from one another. That we can challenge¬†each other¬†in our faith, continuing to stretch more and more. It isn’t about the coffee (though delicious!), the equally amazing baked goods or making sure we answer all the questions. It’s the stories we share, the way we become vulnerable in those 90 minutes together, catching each other when necessary. It is the simple fact of devoting our Saturday mornings to this when we could be sleeping. Once upon a time, when I first started this group a couple months back, I thought of giving up. I was incredibly discouraged, leading me to feel stuck and unworthy of leading. I am so glad I listened to those around me and didn’t quit. (Back to that whole reaching out thing again yeah? ——>Yoga Practice & Lessons in Grace)

If there is one thing I have learned in this life at all, it is this: We are led to that which our life story has prepared us for.¬†It might not look how you thought it would and the characters could be completely different than when you first began.¬†I know the uncertainty is frightening and the fear of failure feels heavy. But man oh man when you launch and fly! That makes it all worth it to me. I am blessed by that which I have already received from these incredible women in the short time I’ve known them. I couldn’t help but think that we are roasting our beans of faith and character, preparing to make them into delicious cups to pour into others down the road.

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Cafe Bombon in Spain. Oh how I miss you!

 

Flowers & Filling Up

“You are spending so much time pouring into others. Make sure you take the time to fill yourself up too.”

That’s what my mentor said to me when we got together this week. She really is the10273912_10152199094073763_5981953878757103830_n sweetest soul. Always watching out for me, checking in on me and asking if there is anything she can do. A month after my break-up, I reached out to my church community. I needed a guide. Somebody who would look at me with zero judgement, remind me of my worth and speak positivity when all I saw in the mirror was the complete opposite.¬†If you think that is unnecessary then I’m sorry but you are wrong. You can’t do it alone. Not your struggles, not this life. We weren’t meant to. Say it with me: You NEED those people for this specific purpose.¬†We need to be lifted, not to feed our ego but rather,¬†to nourish our soul.¬†In the past couple of years, I have realized the difficulty and pain that comes with living far away from family. I love my life and the roots I have placed in Washington but I knew my habits and old self were trying to kick down the door of the woman who now stood in her place. And maybe, a stranger who becomes a friend can be that person. Unlike family, they¬†don’t know your garbage and baggage. You know nothing of them and what the burdens they carried. Both are entering this relationship with zero biases. They are simply saying, “Place your hand in mine. Take a walk with me. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture and work out the smaller details as we go.”

13086824_10153661362928763_3805220378019328500_oThat’s how I found my mentor. While I have been a mentor myself for two years and the idea of having somebody to take on that role in my own life¬†sounded just peachy, I had no idea of the imprint she’d place on my heart. The love and care she would speak into my life. This was exactly what I needed. In all the moments that I had been there, to listen, to just be and to have a hand when they needed someone to hold theirs, I was now reaching my own hand out, grasping for a brand new connection.

Her words stuck with me that day. I’ve often heard and have been hearing this reoccurring theme lately. If I don’t take the time to re-energize and recharge then how is what I pour into others of any value? It isn’t. Just like the flowers that soak up the springtime rains, we need our own nourishment to grow. We need rain in the form of rest. In the beauty of¬†nature. In the laughter with our friends. In the quiet moments of reading a good book. In dancing with a stranger in Mallorca. (Check!) In enjoying this very life that we are so blessed to live out each day. Did I really need to pencil those things in? Schedule time just to ensure that I’m actually….living?

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What an eye-opener friends. If we truly listen to what the world is telling us, we are often met with the people and situations we need in those moments. My mom was one of the hardest working women I know. She sacrificed each day so my sister and I were provided for. Only when her body was breaking down, when she knew there wasn’t much time left and there was one place she wanted to be more than anything, did she get to go. My parents picked up and moved to Alabama. Where she could sip coffee on her porch and take everything in during those Southern mornings. I walk with that reminder and I will never stop feeling enveloped in that love she gave me. I will always wish she could have enjoyed Alabama for longer than she was able¬†but the fact she was able to go at all is still a miracle.

Pushing the accelerator to the floor might feel like I’ll get there faster but I am going to be so wore out by the time I arrive. Let’s not even talk about my flowers, which will have zero chance of thriving in such a stressful state. The giving, serving, goal-achieving and box-checking look nice and¬†feel even better when that dopamine is released, telling our brain how great this is! And, that is awesome. Our brains and bodies are super smart that way. I want you to reach your goals. I implore you to live a life in service to others. But, don’t forget to water your flowers ok?

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Even flower dresses. Happy spring y’all!

Dreampods & Cultivating Gifts

Friends, I’m working on having a¬†consistent weekly day/time for when new posts are released! Every Sunday at 8 am! (Pacific time) Perfect for you to read over your morning coffee (or brunch for you Midwesterners/Easterners). ūüôā

This week I partook in¬†something quite like anything else. An experience I will try to describe and one in which I would encourage anyone to look in to if they have even the slightest interest. I went “floating” and would gladly do it again. What exactly is “floating” you may ask…..

Float Spokane lists the opening line on their website as:

IMAGINE A WAY TO MELT AWAY THE STRESSES WE ALL FACE IN OUR DAILY LIVES. SOMEWHERE THAT ALLOWS YOU PEACE AND TRANQUILITY IN AN ULTRA SAFE ENVIRONMENT. A PLACE WHERE IT’S JUST YOU AND YOUR HEARTBEAT, THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATH, AND THE QUIETNESS YOUR SOUL YEARNS FOR…

Super descriptive right?! While it does sound rather meditative (or perhaps like an intro for a retirement community) in the singing bowls, chakra-what sort of way, I can assure you that it lives up to its promise. (Disclaimer: We are all at varying places in our life journey. We all respond to our environments differently. While I soak up the thought of being in stillness whether through yoga/meditation/etc., I realize that is not the case for everyone. This is simply based on what I took away from my float.)

A further description on the website lists “floating” as:

During a float session, you are suspended in a high density solution of magnesium sulfates (epsom salts) and 225 gallons of 93 degree skin temperature water. The idea behind floating is to deprive the user of all external stimuli and allow the body and mind to go about finding areas that it needs to naturally heal. All of this takes place in our top of the line Dreampod floatation tanks, one of the most luxurious pods on the market. Entering the Dreampod transports the user into a new world of calm and tranquility where stresses and pains seem to just disappear. Backed by 30 years of research, floatation therapy is a natural tune up for the mind and body.

If you had previously asked me to do this in my lifetime, I¬†would not have been sure how to answer that.¬†However, I had received a gift certificate for my birthday and didn’t want to let it go to waste. I had heard some stories from friends and what I read online but also knew I wouldn’t truly understand if I didn’t at least try it out. So, I booked my appointment, prepared myself best I could and was on my way to float!

I arrived at the location and it had a very spa-like feeling upon entering. They had me watch a brief video about what the experience would be like and then I was on my way. Initially, upon entering the pod, it felt considerably akin to a large bath. I settled in and did my best to enjoy this. I chose to completely shut my pod door and turn off the inside light for the full effect. As I became accustomed to what was happening around me, my brain slowly began to turn off its chatter and I was enveloped in stillness, along with extreme peacefulness. How I felt throughout my float would morph during what I could describe as different phases. I was able to sink in to¬†more of a meditative state after about 20 minutes in and found myself finding answers to questions I’d tucked away.

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My Dreampod

 

One such question was whether I was truly cultivating that which has been given to me in this life. Call it God, the Universe, that little voice inside, or your subconscious. I am not certified to answer what exactly. All that I had been wondering and questioning within myself had suddenly been brought to light and while I didn’t always like what was being addressed, it was much needed. When asked if I was doing everything in my power to bring my gifts to the world I was met with a resounding, “No.” So simple, so concise, so quiet and yet it spoke so loudly. I thought I would be angrier with this revelation but I wasn’t.

In my acceptance, I simply reflected during this one peaceful hour of time I had allotted to myself. We enter this “Dreampod” of life and it is already filled for us. With our talents, gifts, unique perspective and all the magic of our souls we will sprinkle on to the world during our stay here. Our goal though, is to uncover it. How can we find, strengthen and grow that which we are given? You want to learn a new hobby. You’d like to implement change in your community. Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school. Or perhaps, feeding that creative, inspiring soul of yours.

Your pod has a little light and the temperature starts out just right. We are filled to the brim with uncertainty when we step in. What if I DON’T actually float? What if I sink? What if I’m uncomfortable? All of those add up, making this floating idea seem pretty dang frightening.¬†I have been semi-comfortable lately. Complacent in my current situation but knowing I need more depth. I recently made a decision to bring life goals to the forefront but I will 100% admit that my blog goals and writing took a backseat to all else. And while I believe in giving ourselves grace, I can also admit when Procrasto Girl (my alter ego) is making more appearances than usual.

 

13064489_10153649131893763_8137156684240159683_oI found that which fuels me….writing. To let that fizzle out with the constant….”I’ll do it tomorrows” would be doing myself a great disservice. I didn’t arrive here with answers but I am prepared to keep pushing and digging deep, to uncover those talents and keep polishing them. Perfecting them for an imperfect world. It isn’t easy and it isn’t meant to be. The very first time I published a blog post out in to the internet world for all to see was extremely terrifying. But, I received so much love from friends, family, and others I didn’t even know. An open heart and a love of written words. Those were two pieces that made me Heather. I was only just beginning to see how far they would take me at the time. Looking ahead, I see that there is only infinite room for me to¬†hone those skills. May you all have the chance to do the same while we’re here.

Shine on friends.

 

 

 

What I’m NOT Doing in the New Year

I’m not the resolutiony type¬†and I make no apologies for that. Anybody who is setting a goal with the idea of changing themselves for the better has my utmost respect. But, as I am already a professional procrastinator, I truly try to work on becoming the best version of myself year round. (Otherwise, I would just put it off for another year.) As I was going about my daily life the other day, I came to the realization that there are many things I wish NOT to do as 2017 swiftly approaches. Compiled neatly in list form (because who doesn’t like a good list), here they are:

My List of Resolution¬†Will-Not’s:

  • I will NOT compare myself to the woman standing next to me. Yes, she probably has more curves. Yes, she is probably more well endowed where I am lacking. But, she has her own insecurities, flaws, and problems in life. What I have been handed in this life, including my body and all that comes with it, is specifically designed for me. I can continually strive to make it a healthier, stronger body for me. I feel best when I remember I’m blessed.
  • I will NOT try to fit the mold. I am not crafty, punctual, a morning person, organized and 100 other things. The moment I owned up to that, I felt like a whole new person. Just the other day¬†I was taught the correct way to wrap Christmas presents. I have been wrapping presents incorrectly for a large part of my life!! And for pretty much all of my adult life! (P.S….Thank you gift-wrapping angel.) I can’t whip together a recipe on the spot. Mornings make me crabby. And I feel like trying to be organized takes some level of organization? I live my life much like I wrap presents. Bits and pieces fly about while I’m in the process and I sometimes misplace things, but in the end, it all comes together and looks quite nice. Summary: Your life is much simpler when you admit who you are, instead of stressing yourself out by being something you are not.
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Photo Credit: latestthoughts Flickr via Compfight cc

  • I will NOT be afraid of failure. How many times have we started a project or had a brilliant idea but never pursued either of them out of fear? Failure is a key component in this ever-changing masterpiece of life. How do you make it to¬†the finish line if your feet never leave the ground? I’m guilty of this and all of us probably are at sometime in our lives. Take off running and don’t worry what the future holds.
  • I will NOT stop giving. I am 100% thrilled about the volunteer opportunities that have presented themselves for the new year. Never did I dream that immersing myself within my community in such a way would have the impact it has. I have seen changes come in leaps and bounds, not only in me, but also in those I’ve had the chance to work with. As I notice more connections being made, I am overwhelmed by the incredible amount of love that keeps on flowing. I plan to fill 2017 with even more giving than this past year.
  • I will NOT regret making myself a priority.¬†More often than not, I will keep going and going, without taking a day during the week to recharge, even though I know I absolutely NEED that alone time to hit the reset button. I‚Äôve already begun taking up hobbies (including hot yoga!) and finding what sets my soul on fire so I can continue being my best self, not only for me, but for those around me as well.
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Happy New Year friends. Be sure to make it a good one.

Post-Election Remedies

I’m not one to get too political so I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you read the news lately. Maybe your candidate won. Maybe your candidate lost. Maybe you are just going about your life and watching more Netflix now since it gets dark at 5 pm. No matter the case, the world is a bit stressful now as we make this transition into the unknown. Change can be scary sometimes yes? But, where some see dirt, others see flowers. There is an ¬†opportunity here and I’d like to share with you what you, yes you, can actually get out and DO.

  • Find your place of peace¬†– Whether it is your church, meditation, somewhere out in nature or everything in between, you need someplace to let all that go. A place to clear your head, re-center and focus on the good again. It’s so easy to get bogged down by everything surrounding us, especially if you are consistently logging into social media. So, unplug and go recharge.
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Photo Credit: kirstymccusker Flickr via Compfight cc

  • Stay involved –¬†Local politics may be one of the places you can affect the most change. Do you know what’s going on in your community, your city, and your state? Be a voice, attend town meetings, and stay up to date on current legislature changes on all levels. The smallest changes can have the most lasting effects.
  • Volunteer –¬†It’s quite possible that I say this often but it’s only because it cannot be stressed enough! If you want to create a better world, you need to start with you! Be the hands and feet of goodness. You really want to know what’s going on around you? Get involved with the homeless, mentor a child in need, and give your time to something that matters. While volunteering makes a difference to those you are helping, it also creates this really neat glow within you. The more I volunteer, the more I want to volunteer more. (That makes sense right?)
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  • Be an amazing human being –¬†Pretty straightforward. Plain and simple. Be respectful of those whose opinion differs from your own. Love until you think you might burst. Give like there’s no tomorrow. Shower those around you with kindness, especially to those you feel don’t deserve it. Reach out to those in need in an effort to make this world more beautiful. When you do all of that, not only will you be a part of something bigger than yourself but living that way will become second nature.

Go out and be the good friends.

Happy weekend!!

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Photo Credit: symphony of love Flickr via Compfight cc