New Year, Same Dislike for Bullet Journals (and Crafts! *gasp*)

And just like that, it’s February! Now that the excitement of resolutions has come to settle, I can truly reflect on some things. Like how terrible I am at crafts and why you shouldn’t let me anywhere near scissors. Read on for more!

 

Here is the thing about me: Sometimes I jump right into projects or go all in, particularly when it comes to something I think I’ll really like or will make my life easier. So when bullet journaling came along, I boarded that train real quick. Many thanks to this blogger——->How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute, Ultimate Guide. (And shoutout to you by the way!! You rock and I often wish I could stick to such methods of organization.) I suggest you check it out but the main point is you’re basically creating a journal/to-do list/planner. You customize it to feel however you want. People use it to track goals and tidbits they wish to remember. You might cross off an item once completed or use your own legend for what each one means. It’s pretty neat. I was so excited and picked out a journal from Ross, only to find out about three months in, after decorating my journal and building up all this momentum, that the journal slowly began collecting dust on my bookshelf. The journal and I would often get into staring competitions. (Spoiler: I usually won because said journal is not filled with magic, like I so often yearn for in many parts of my life.) And as I stared and wondered why I could never grasp that beauteous component of life that many others seemed to make look so easy, it dawned on me. That woman isn’t me. 

You won’t find me up late in the evening creating cookies straight out of a Christmas movie, complete with elves, reindeer and Mrs. Clause. I can’t make presents look Pinterest-perfect for the life of me. Cutting straight edges on paper literally terrifies me. I’m not very good at color coordinating. I know absolutely nothing about knitting. I may try to tackle too many projects at once. My handwriting isn’t amazing and sometimes it’s crooked. I buy pretty pens and lose them not long afterwards. I have to make lists because I’m forgetful and excel at procrastination. My craft box mostly became a storage space for mementos and Christmas cards that were never sent. All of this to say that doesn’t mean I won’t create. I love making things from the heart, especially in the form of words. Writing is my happy space and fun poems make me feel like a kid. I’ve made a few things in the day. Oh, and I guess the point of this was that when I attempted to bullet journal….I began to hate bullet journaling. Which seems rather silly.

 

You know where you will find me? Probably reading. Maybe wandering around a bookstore, hoping there is enough time in this life to read everything on my list. Or having a glass of wine with friends. I even make wine on occassion. And now that I am finally beginning to find my mojo again, after bouts of anxiety and health issues are slowly coming to (hopefully) somewhat of an end, you can find me writing. And making my blog better. Coming up with 1,001 ideas of how I want to shape my future and making them a reality. After reading Year of Yes (please read this as soon as you can, you must) by Shonda Rhimes, I am all kinds of fired up. She said something I am making part of my magical 2018. “Ditch the dream. Be a doer, not a dreamer.”

In this time period, I realized I wanted to say yes only to that which brought me joy. Crafting is very much not on that list. So in that knowledge, bullet journaling fell into the realm of “What I’m Not Good At.”  I have a hard enough time remembering to write in my planner. But at least in that area of my life, it doesn’t feel forced.  I bought a super cute one (again from Ross!) for $10 and fill it with what I need (or hope) to accomplish. It’s straightforward and it’s me, no frills. (Pictured below: Then and now.)

It takes all kinds friends. Some of us can do the Pinterest and the crafting. I envy you. Seriously, coming to terms with being this woman when you are surrounded by many crafty types was not an easy task. From the sister who makes gifts look #flawless and has created some stellar wreaths to my co-worker who bakes like no other. To my graphic design friends with magnificent handwriting and artsy abilities I could only dream of. To those I know with kids who make their homes and lives look like something straight off of HGTV. You are all creative goddesses and I love each one of you.

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But here, in this knowledge of who I am, I have found contentment. I do not discount what I bring to the table. I shine in my elements of positivity and togetherness. Of seeking the good and knowing people are capable of change. Of quietly observing but speaking up when I need to. And finally, of knowing my words hold weight. That from one of the very first stories I made in the second grade about a kitten’s magical journey (honest to goodness truth) to where I am at today, I’m not finished. That writing is my own personal crafting party and that is enough.  I may not have created the masterpiece I’m striving for just yet but I have also not stopped working towards it. Do YOUR thing and know that’s enough. If crafts make you cringe, don’t shy away from it. In fact, we could probably be friends.

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.

 

Cavities & Do-Overs

I was in the grocery store a couple days ago and I spent an excessive amount of time in the oral care aisle. Immediately, two things came to mind:

  1. I’m getting older/more adultish/boring?!

  2. When did this become such a priority?

First of all, I would just like to state the extensive quantity of oral hygiene options that exist. From multi-flavored flosses to more toothpaste than I care to think about, it is, like most options in society, far more than we probably need.

Also, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t previously care about my teeth because I did. However, I also had settled on the fact that between my sisters and I, (at least the one closest in age to me), I received the short end of stick when it comes to being blessed with next to perfect teeth. I had braces, cavities and my wisdom teeth removed. On the other hand, my sister could scarf down 4 Jawbreakers, a bag of Hershey Kisses and a box of Milk Duds, all while not getting a single cavity in the process. How nice. (I love you anyways Han.)

I had a dentist appointment this past January and while I didn’t have any cavities that needed immediate attention, there were a couple trying to sneak their way in. My dentist informed me that with proper brushing, flossing and a slight cut back in sweets (gasp!), I could potentially reverse this process. While I am an avid fan of brushing my teeth, I do not excel quite as much in the flossing department. I really put forth a solid effort for awhile and then it just falls to the wayside. One of those things I’ll do tomorrow ya know? And then it is sort of forgotten about altogether or done occasionally, much like Thanksgiving dinner or cleaning the inside of your car. And that whole cutting back on sweets? I’m not even sure how to start that without some shedding some tears. (Especially these past couple of weeks—>Life changes which led to stress such as the following but are not limited to: A break-up, moving, taking my first CASA (guardian ad litem) case, leading a community group, wanting to be awesome in my new residential mentor role, etc.) So yes, sweets and I have become the very best of friends. Can I just add that I work at a place where we make frozen custard, which is pure deliciousness?? And Easter candy is out which means one fantastic piece of magic is currently in my life….Starburst Jellybeans. 1,000 times yes.

But, I have also acknowledged my increased sugar intake recently (as has my skin) and while it makes my nerve endings all happy with delight, it is also not so great for my overall health. Nor is it ideal for keeping my teeth for a good while longer. So, there I was, staring at the Scope, Crest and Colgate options filling the shelf. Flosses, toothpastes and mouthwashes oh my. I selected my items and left the store in the hopes of reaching a cavity-less future.

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May you find your love, light and peace within those chances at a fresh start

I got to thinking that we can often reverse or undo those greater decisions that we find ourselves in. Those choices or situations where we didn’t get it right the first time around but are greatly anticipating our chance at a do-over. It can take more work, focus and discipline than we originally had planned. We maybe need to spend more time in the self-care aisle of life, selecting the resources or people that will help us reach our desired outcome. Sometimes we slip up a bit, forgetting our routine regimen, but we also know how to self-correct in order to find our course again. This season of my life has steadily been teaching me that. Just because I find myself alone again, I don’t have to fall back into old habits and unhealthy ways of coping. I can seek my footing in my faith, friends, and family. In the assuredness of who I am in this moment and all I am working towards becoming. Never have I felt more peace and understanding in those doors that have been opened for me lately. Here’s to perseverance in the pursuit of keeping that which hinders our growth at bay.

Happy Sunday friends.

 

 

 

Yoga Lessons from Minneapolis

Yoga is tricky to pinpoint in one word because it is so all-encompassing. It is a teacher. A storyteller. A mirror. A tool for strengthening your body as well as what’s within. A catalyst for change. A source of laughter but also of tears. A provider of balance but also frustration.

If you had told me over two years ago when I started yoga that it would change my life, I would have looked at you rather ridiculously. I mean, yes there are physical benefits and maybe that’s why I started it, or perhaps because I was living in a new city and needed something to make sense of it all. I can’t remember precisely why, but I do know it has been a game-changer in the uncertainty of life. Because even when I fall away from it for longer than I wish, I always come back to it, and sometimes, in unexpected ways.

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When I was in Minneapolis this past weekend, I had the chance to visit not one, but two, of my friends from college. One was for a bachelorette party and the other was a chance to catch up. Both experiences were fantastic in their own way and I’m thankful for what both of these women bring to my life. Needless to say, one of my favorite things I did this past weekend was attend my first ever CorePower Yoga class. My friend, Katy, invited me to the candlelight class and I agreed that it sounded fun. She said it would be heated and I assured her I could handle it. Well, that was an understatement. I’m quite certain I was setting records with how much sweat was dripping off my body. Yeah, it sounds gross, but it also felt great. I left feeling incredibly grateful and with a renewed sense of direction.

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There is a time at the end of class where you are in Shavasana, also called Corpse Pose, in order to relax the body and mind. When I first began practicing, I would fall asleep more than I wanted to say. As I practiced more, it became a time for stillness. In that stillness is often where I find what I am looking for. My body has just gone through not only a physical but mental exercise and it is there, after setting the intention at the beginning for my practice, that I come to terms with what my body and soul already knew. It is not uncommon to be so overcome with a variety of feelings so strong that you start crying. It’s happened to me more than once. The following is a list of changes I’m going to be making moving forward.

What I Need Right Now:

More confidence. Less doubt.

More compassion. Less judgment.

More of what makes me feel good. Less of what doesn’t.

More belief in my dreams. Less second-guessing what I want.

More spending money on experiences that help me grow. Less money on what I don’t need or enjoy.

More being present. Less anxiety over the future.

More chasing what I feel called to do, even with the risk of failure. Less living in my comfort zone.

More writing. Less Facebooking.

More love. For self and for others. Always.

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Wishing you all a beautiful weekend and may you find what you need, wherever you’re at in this journey of life.

How I Found Peace in Being Alone…While Dating

I have been dating for the past 3 years. I mean, actual dating, not that college/Ross & Rachel from Friends on-again and off-again thing. Since the summer of 2012, I have usually had a serious boyfriend, with the occasional downtime in between break-ups. This was usually a 4 or 5 month period of time where I would put myself together and then somehow end up dating again. Granted, counting my current relationship, I have had 3 relationships all lasting a year or more. I generally (thought I) knew when I was ready to get back into the dating game again, or in the last instance, move half-way across the country for somebody. (No it didn’t work out and no I don’t regret moving to Washington. More about that here—> When I Made Room for Love (Again)) Life always redirects us in some way or another.

So, when I started dating my wonderful boyfriend last September, I struggled with being alone. I am so thankful for this man that came into my life because he has been an incredible guiding soul throughout this journey. I was alone quite often because my roommate at the time left and moved in with her boyfriend. Much of it stemmed from the fact that I had lived with guys I had previously dated, as well as the fact that I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable being alone so much. I knew I would eventually have to come to terms with the fact that solitude wasn’t a punishment, despite the fact that in those moments of loneliness, my thoughts could get me into trouble. They would consume me to the point that I sometimes didn’t know what I had gotten so upset about in the first place.

I found, in time, that solitude could be filled with moments I enjoyed. I dedicated more time to yoga and eventually, to running too. I was reading more than I had before. I found time to spend with my friends. I started making plans for my career and my future, with goals of becoming more serious about my writing. Sure, I’m not precisely where I want to be in all categories but the point is, I made myself a priority. Because, who is going to want to make you a priority if you can’t even do that for yourself? Probably not anybody you want to date.

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Photo Credit: latestthoughts via Compfight cc

So, I survived the loneliness I had so severely dreaded. In fact, I began finding comfort in it over time and made sure to let my friends know how important it was to have that time to myself. It was not easy to come to terms with how I used to appoach even the thought of being alone. None of us likes admitting our weaknesses or finding fault within ourselves. It’s a daunting task but also one that is required for growth and independence.

 

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck

Despite the fact that nothing turned out how I planned upon my move here, I am glad life took the twists and turns it did. For the heartbreak that caused me to seek my inner strength that was there all along. For my decision to step up and say that I deserve more. For every broken piece of me that pushed me down, only for me to find humility in rising again. I found that others can push us to take responsibility for our own happiness but it ultimately comes down to whether we choose to make forward progress or to remain stuck. Solitude doesn’t need to be correlated with being lonely, but rather, as an opportunity for renewal. It is in our lonelinest and darkest hours where we can ask ourselves the toughest questions, begin to make changes, and set ourselves on the path towards becoming our truest self.


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Photo Credit: HurtQuotes via Compfight cc

 

 

Feeling Grateful Friday – 1/22/16

I was browsing through one of my journals and I found a list titled: What I Want to Do Instead of Work. At the time the list was made, I was working a desk job that was definitely not for me and serving on the weekends (which I absolutely love). While I greatly looked forward to my weekends at the restaurant, the 8-5 grind of working for a company whose values didn’t align with my own was beginning to drag me down. The money was nice but the dread of Monday and the stress of absolutely no time off began to get to me. I ended up leaving my desk job that summer and it was just what I needed!

So, I thought, what better than to reflect on the list I made and check in with my progress since then.

What I Want to Do Instead of Work (March 27, 2015)

  1. Drink wine!
  2. Travel….all over!
  3. Write
  4. Dance
  5. Sleep
  6. Take a walk
  7. Play with my pups (I had 2 adorable Italian Greyhounds at the time)
  8. Make something
  9. Be bold
  10. Find my passion

Alright, let’s break that all down.

  1. As it turns out, I still drink wine. I love sharing it with people, making my own and everything about it in general. Off to a good start.
  2. Since writing that list, I have taken some small trips to Canada, spent Christmas in the Bahamas, and am in the process of planning trips to Colorado and Costa Rica, both of which I’ve never been to!
  3. I started a wine blog and then Exhale Gratitude not long after that. I am writing more than I ever have and seeing where it leads me.
  4. Oh, is there ever dancing. I hope my downstairs neighbors don’t mind.
  5. Now that I’m not working every single day and have a semi-flexible schedule, I usually get all the sleep I need.
  6. I definitely have time for lots of walks! During the week at least.
  7. Sadly, no more pups. One day though!
  8. I made 2 blogs, which are still continuing to grow with me.
  9. Left my desk job, stayed on a yacht in Canada, and stepped out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions. Bring on the boldness 2016.
  10. Writing is definitely one of them. Not sure if or how it will fit into a career one day but I’m a work in progress. Looking to take a writing course at a local college this spring though. 🙂

So, there it all is. I didn’t like where I was at so I changed it, simple as that. Granted, it has been anything but simple. It takes a lot of hard work to eventually get to where you want to be and I am continually learning in that process. I work 2 part-time jobs (both of which are great), volunteer, and am still wanting to devote more time to writing/blogging. I’m getting there though. I can feel it, which makes me scared, nervous, excited and unsure. I think that’s a good thing though?

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Photo Credit: symphony of love via Compfight cc

 

I want to relish these moments, the ones where I look back at how far I’ve come. I’m grateful for those who pushed me, for the friends and family who told me to pursue happiness over security or status, and for each and every one of you who has told me to keep writing. The experience of having such uplifting people in my life is what I’m most grateful for, not just this week, but always.