Feeling Grateful Friday – 11.3.17

Hey friends! Long time, no words. Every now and then I like to do this thing where I list what I’m grateful for. After all, that’s what I’m all about here at Exhale Gratitude. On this lovely 3rd day of November, here’s what’s got me feeling all sorts of grateful.

  • MY GUY – (Heads up! This is a little sappy. :))There really is something to be said for falling in love with your best friend. I took a trip out to Michigan to see him this past week and it was perfect. Not perfect in the sense that everything went perfectly or we didn’t have disagreements. But perfect in the sense that no matter what, he values communication and keeping that dialogue at the forefront of our relationship. I’ve never had that before and unhealthy pasts create unhealthy habits until they are broken. He has shown me that and so much more. Discussions on our hometown, old friends and where we went to school but also knowing that despite everything we’ve seen each other through, we strive to show the other how much we care. I’m the happiest girl because I have realized a great deal about standing on my own outside the confines of a relationship, as well as what a man and partner looks like.
  • NEW ROUTINES – Ok, so this has only started TODAY but I’m holding myself to taking morning walks in my neighborhood at least 3 times a week. If you know me at all, you know that the cold weather and I do not get along. Being cold is right up there with the texture of coconut and pulpy orange juice. That being said, I will 100% not enjoy being stuck inside ALL winter. So, I’m bundling up, tuning into a Podcast/Audiobook and seeking a change in scenery. It felt really good. I even found a free little library nearby! The tiniest deviations from our normal routines can often bring the most simple displays of happiness.

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  • GETTING BACK TO YOU (ME) – I’ve been stuck and it’s been unbearable at times. Awful anxiety and trying to figure out why. After some tests, discussions with people who love me, and serious introspection, I truly feel like I’m coming back around. Just like the seasons of nature, we too burrow away at times. Our leaves fall as we change into something new for the spring. It can be subtle or it can be a bit more prominent. Our bodies are super smart and when we haven’t dealt with something, it plays out in different ways. There is nothing wrong with admitting when we are struggling. In fact, it needs to be done more than it is. We are human and with that comes facets that we are still trying to understand. Be kind to yourself in your journey and lean on those who love you most.

I wish you all a beautiful weekend filled with gratitude for whatever is igniting you right now, even the smallest moments that are pulling you through what you may be facing. Wishing you lots of love and goodness.

 

Feeling Grateful Friday – 5/5/2017

And just like that, it’s May! I don’t know about all of you, but there is an abundancefullness (oooh….I like this made-up word combo) of goodness to be grateful for right now! A little gratitude to start off the month sounds perfect to me!

  • Beautiful weather. For reminding me of the fact that even though spring brings rain, it also brings sun! (And some extra warmth this week, getting me all fired up for summer.)
  • Flowers for days! Seriously, you go to bed one night and when you wake up, the world is painted in a gorgeous array of colors. It makes me so happy!
  • Hikes. I feel I am now gaining an appreciation for this incredible beauty that we are blessed with in the Pacific Northwest. I’m exploring more of what’s in my own back yard and I most certainly love what I see.
  • Friends. For pushing me out of what is comfortable. For loving on me when I don’t feel I deserve it. And for looking out for me when it seems I might be getting a little lost. I am so thankful that each one of you has been placed in my life.
  • Struggle. Yes, you read that right. Would I ever imagine a day where I would be thankful for this? Absolutely not. But, through life changes we are challenged and our new self replaces the old. For the relationships that ended. The projects I pursued in reckless ambition, only to realize I wasn’t completely prepared yet. The moments where mentoring challenges me so greatly that I am left in tears. And to silencing the inner dialogue, whispering, “You can’t.” Each of these has added defining features to the work in progress that I already am. I am stronger, braver, more confident, and even on my worst days, feeling for the first time, like my very best self. Without struggle, the view from the mountain top is just another pretty postcard.

Happy Friday Friends! Go find something to be grateful for. 🙂

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Palouse Falls

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Yoga Practice & Lessons in Grace

If you have glanced through my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed yoga plays a large part in my life. If not, well now ya know. I started attending a hot yoga studio (And also can I get an amen for those of us who can’t dish out $1,200 a year to be able to attend unlimited monthly sessions? Props if you can but this girl is on a budget. One day perhaps but until then I’ll buy my class pass when I can afford it and attend twice a week.) here in Spokane back in December and I’ve found that when paired with my home practice, it all starts to click. In a home practice, we can only go so far when we don’t have somebody to guide us in our form when going through the poses. And the same with a home practice. If we are not disciplining ourselves and bringing those concepts we’ve learned to our mat at home, then we fail to grow.

Lately, I’ve seen the parallels between my yoga practice and personal life. As you may have read previously, my relationship of over a year ended about two months ago. In the past, I would move towards unhealthy habits and decisions in order to deal with the pain. But now, I am finally able to see how far this rollercoaster of life has brought me. Every past heartbreak and pain. Every iota of hurt and self-doubt has pushed me to question, seek and discover that which has been inside me all along. I am worth more than I ever dreamed. I am stronger now than I’ve ever been.

But, the truth is, I did falter. I briefly yearned for and sought those whom have hurt me in the past. And then, a little voice inside of me said….”No.” The woman who triumphed in that period of darkness. Who lit the match on the house and almost walked away to watch it all burn, she was roaring. Because, she didn’t walk away when she wanted to the most. She fought and she thrashed and she gave it more than her all. Though the house had some damage, she was ready to rebuild. That is precisely what she did. Two years ago last month I lost my mom to cancer. At that very same time, I was badly burned by my first and most turbulent love. So yes, that woman inside me does not back down without a fight. Not without the struggle of reminding me of the goodness I deserve and how I am incredibly loved.

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My financial guru but even more so, friend

Similar to my yoga practice, I knew I was close to where I wanted to be but my form was not quite correct. I needed a push. I needed to ask for help. You know when you mess up and you really don’t want to tell anybody because the fear of disappointment feels so heavy? That was how I felt when I reached out to my friends. To my church. To the only people I knew could truly guide me in this time. But, I did it anyways. I walked in, head bowed, ready to battle for my heart, soul and self-worth. And the greatest gifts they gave me? When I was fully prepared to apologize and to bow my head in shame, the only feelings they offered up…..were those of love and grace. Two of the most powerful, life-changing words in human existence, if you ask me.

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It wasn’t necessary for me to carry all of this alone, not when so many others were willing to jump in. Who were ready to take some of the burden, to help me cut out the negativity and growth-hindering parts, and who were willing to love on me. Right now, I can see I have a rock solid foundation. I can look back and realize that stumbling doesn’t mean I have not grown, but rather that we sometimes need re-directing on our path. A little light or a friend to walk with us for awhile. Strength can lie in recognizing we are lost, asking for help, and taking corrective action to do better next time. Life is made up of small steps and occasionally, big leaps. It can happen all at once or day by day. Our growth is not measured by whether or not we falter but how we react after the fall. Will you stand back up, armor in hand, roaring and willing to battle for YOU?

I don’t know where you’re walking or how that looks. Where life has brought you or the obstacles that have been placed during your walk. What I can tell though is without a doubt the truth. It is true as of yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are worthy of two, beautiful gifts…..grace and love.

Happy Sunday friends. Make it a beautiful one.

Notes to My 11-Year-Old Self

This week, my littlest sister turned 11 years old. I can’t believe how fast she’s grown! I remember finding out my mom was pregnant when I was 16, shocked and a little upset that this newcomer would be throwing off the balance of our already established family (after all, we were a family of 4 and that was pretty much perfect). But oh, how wrong I was. And I’m so glad! She was born and I loved her, doted on her and had a blast watching her grow from a spunky toddler to a big-hearted young lady. I can’t wait to see what big plans she has in store for the world and what life will bring as she matures. As I reflected on her big day this week, I couldn’t help but wonder….what do I wish I had known at 11??

Hey 11-year old self,

It’s me. The grown-up version of you. You’re much older now (28 to be exact), though really not that much taller. That’s alright because after some struggles, you’ve really come to love and accept who you are. You’re even a fan of your freckles and curly hair! (Who knew that day would come??) I bet you didn’t know it at the time but Harry Potter turned out to be a pretty big deal! (They even made movies out of the 7 books J.K. Rowling wrote! Amazing times we live in.) And, in a crazy turn of events, you’re going to have a littler sister one day (she’ll show up about 6 years from now) and she’s going to be just as obsessed with Harry Potter as you are.

So, you’re in 5th grade huh? You’re probably pretty bummed because, from what I recall, that’s the year your best friend moved away. But, don’t worry! You’re going to become best friends with somebody else in your tight-knit class and you will have SO many laughs together, all the way until graduation day! Also, this is the year you end up getting glasses. I know, I know you think they’re dorky but you MUST wear them. One day, you’ll have really cute ones! You won’t even hardly want to wear contacts eventually because you’ll end up liking your new glasses so much.

Right now, you don’t think you’re pretty and that feeling is going to last for awhile. You’re going to have reservations down the road and a great deal of self-doubt as to whether you’ll EVER feel pretty. Well, little miss, I am here to assure you that yes, you are freakin’ beautiful and you’re just going to morph into this lovely young woman before you know it! (And, don’t forget, you’re going to dislike that you look so young but you’ll come to realize it’s a blessing one day.)

You don’t care much for boys because you know there will be lots of time for that one day. I can’t lie darling girl, you’re going to get your heart broken and you’ll break some hearts along the way too. After your most heart-wrenching breakup, you’ll wonder if love is even within your reach. Then, one day, somebody is going to carry you when you feel too weak, reminding you that yes, it’s real, lovely, and true. He’s going to be quite wonderful and, over time, you’re going to become an incredibly strong woman. (In large part, thanks to this amazing man and all the ways he has continuously shown you how much you are capable of.)

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You’ll really learn to love yoga….and sometimes do said yoga with dogs

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You’ll live in an adorable studio covered in ivy…and find ducks wandering around your neighborhood

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Finally, you’ll adventure to the breathtaking country of Spain for a wine class and occasionally chase after goats

In all of this, I urge you to really, really love life. Fill your cup up with experiences and adventures. With laughter and beautiful memories. Though I don’t wish to frighten you, you’ll lose somebody extremely close to you and although you have read the stories and seen the movies, you will be shaken by the reality of how this awakens you to your very core. This loss will precede that difficult breakup and you will transition into the darkest period of your life. But, never stop moving. Yes, you must heal and recover from this achingly painful time but I implore you to push through. And, as I am a witness, I know that you do. You are resilient.

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The muse that inspired this post (when she was a lot smaller!)

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Always, always smiling

So, 11-year old self, your life will be anything but a walk in the forest but just know, you’ll reach the other side. Never give up on that huge heart of yours. It is going to do incredible good during your time on this Earth. Each day you wake up, incorporate fun wherever you can. Don’t be afraid to fail at your dreams because it’s better to have tried than to have lived a life wondering, “What if?.” You are smart, talented and valued in this great, big world. Find peace with your unique design, utilize your God-given talents and love like there’s no tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,

28-year old Heather10426876_10152240749293763_5916045892170636038_n

Feeling Deeply & Loving Fiercely

To the girl crying in the airport terminal, I see you because you are me. The one who misses her family or significant other with an aching so badly, you fear it could leave a hurt permanently etched deep into your heart. I feel you, sister. You are not judged for the snot running down your face and the enormous tears dripping down your cheeks. Or the fact that you would really like a beer and good conversation to make you momentarily forget the pain that comes with leaving. And maybe a quiet spot to send a quick text, reminding those you love of just how much they mean. Yes, you probably have a pretty neat outlook on the world. You love mighty fiercely and continuously, like a fire whose embers continually burn, despite the conditions surrounding it.
As a young girl, you might have felt you didn’t fit in. You cared (and still do) so deeply for those you love that any harm that came to them instantly created intense emotional turmoil within. You cried during the sappy movies, or when you felt you weren’t good enough, when that boy broke your heart, and when you fought with your best friend. I’m telling you that’s OK. Don’t fight that compassionate, sensitive side of you. I think the word sensitive has gotten a bad rep lately, especially in regards to how we raise our young boys to be men. Sensitivity is not equal to weakness and certainly doesn’t mean you can’t handle the situations life throws you. It means the way you input information and emotion is different from those around you. That you believe in encouragement, kindness, and love. That your heart is a well of unending goodness and you’d love nothing more than to share it with others.

Use your powers for good Supergirl and don’t ever, for even one second, let the insanity of life jade you. You were meant to feel with all the beautifully sewn together pieces that God gave you. Sometimes that means the tears don’t stop for a bit but just know that, eventually, you will have figured out the best possible way to channel all of that emotion. Even if that might mean going to a room on your own to collect your thoughts or simply just accepting the fact that bawling in your seat on the plane is what works in that moment. You will decompress, pull yourself together, and keep loving today, tomorrow, and the day after. One day you’ll even know yourself so well that, despite the hurt, you know exactly what you need to bring yourself back up from that down. And finally, you will find somebody who loves that sensitive side of you, even if they are the complete opposite. They will wrap you in their love when you hurt, reminding you that the pain will subside in time. With tears comes renewal and a reminder of what it means to be human, that there are still things worth fighting for in this madness. You are a wildly brilliant canvas and those tears just blend those colors together a bit, creating something incredibly gorgeous and new in the process. Feel every single bit of it.

Missing all of these beautiful people!

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’ve 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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Photo Credit: cgvector Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Happy New Year friends. Be sure to make it a good one.