The Veil

I do have to say, though… death brings a thickness to the air… a fog. It’s as if someone placed a semi-thick sheet of plastic over your body that acts as a veil as you walk through your day, shielding you from fully being a part of the world but not completely blinding or secluding you. It’s more like a light barrier which just requires much more focus and attention from you in order to function at basic levels, as your sight, hearing, smell, and coordination have all been compromised. You walk through the grocery store and the sounds you hear are suddenly a bit muffled. Someone says hello and it takes you a moment to realize they were addressing you, much less hear what they said, because that plastic sheet is just so separating. The grocery store clerk asks how you are and suddenly that plastic sheet becomes tighter and you think of how almost inconsiderate that was, as if they should know what you’re going through. After all, you feel like it’s practically written all over your face…
Don’t they know what your life entails at the moment?
Don’t they understand the pain you’re in?
Don’t they get that your world has just fallen apart right in front of your?
How anybody can not see the shattered pieces all around you is beyond you, but you don’t even quite care. All you truly care about doing is getting back to whatever shell makes you feel safe- home, office, park, beach, car- and spending all the rest of your days curled up there, staring into the abyss, just trying to gasp for a fresh breath that seems to never come, because someone you love is suddenly no longer a part of this world… and you just can’t… process.

It’s definitely a process.

And it’s strange.

Soon you begin to realize that maybe not everyone is being inconsiderate… that maybe, just maybe, they truly can’t feel your pain. That pain that you think is so explosive it could take out at least a city radius around you might actually just be yours and your alone to feel.

So you begin to soften.

You remain tucked under your plastic sheet, but you begin to soften your frustration with the outside world for not seeing it and treading more carefully around it’s delicate layer. Someone begins to speak to you and you think, maybe this is where the opportunity lies for me to communicate through this thick layer… maybe I should go for it.

And so you do.

And you know what? It’s not so bad. Sure, it was difficult, And it might have even been a little bit painful. But it was nowhere near what you were anticipating, and ironically enough, there was a moment or two of completely unexpected actual relief. Something about opening up to the outside world made you feel like you were somewhat of a part of it again, despite the heavy sheet that still seems to be remaining in place over you.

Time goes on and that sheet begins to thin out. Fresh air breezes in from time to time when you decide to let go of your grasp of its veil, which you do reluctantly because something about its protective layer has become surprisingly comforting. While you don’t quite feel like you’re functioning “normally” as a part of the world again, something about the new you feels like it’s okay. You start to realize that you may never not have this plastic sheet draping over you again, at least not entirely and at least not permanently, but that the thin layer it has become is… doable. You can bear it.

And so you try.

And the thinner the sheet becomes with time, the easier it is to see through it and notice that there are others who have plastic sheets draped over them too. Maybe they were there all long and you simply never took notice before, or maybe they are entirely new sheets, it doesn’t quite matter. Because anyone wearing a plastic veil is someone who’s lost, and no matter where they are on their journey, that is pain that you can relate to, and your heart reaches out to hug. Some are thicker than others, but what’s beautiful is that each of these people can relate to one another, simply due to the existence of these veils. And yours, having thinned out quite a bit, becomes a source of comfort for those just beginning their journey of adjusting with this new addition to their existence. The thin layer of your veil as well as your ability to survive, and even possibly thrive, with its existence becomes a light at the end of their tunnel. It gives them hope, which give your purpose.

And suddenly, you realize, your pain has meaning. And while you may always wish that this plastic veil did not have to exist, you’re grateful for the opportunity that its existence has given you to lend a helping hand to others who have been in your shoes. Suddenly, you find the rainbow in the storm.

And you thank your late loved one for it, because it’s them, and it’s beautiful.

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Forever In A Day

I had the pleasure of meeting a very sweet woman in my class a couple of days ago who was positive, kind, and simply radiated the type of energy that people are drawn to, like moths to a flame. Not exactly the type of demeanor you’d expect from a person who’d been diagnosed with cancer… earlier that day.

This woman isn’t the first of guests to come to my classes seeking therapy though learning to paint in a creative and positive environment, but she most certainly is the one who had the most impact on me.

We spend a good deal of time talking that night and she shared her story with me. She’d had cancer a couple of years ago and beat it, but it was back, this time with a vengeance… it seems there’s no hope for recovery this time around. When she told me this, I could see that it broke her heart, because she’ll be leaving behind children and other family and friends when she goes. But the entire time we spoke, she didn’t shed one single tear, and her illuminating smile didn’t waiver at all, not even a little. I know that most would say that she was faking it, or that she could have possibly been in denial, and I know I could be wrong (I’m not her), but I didn’t think this was fake. I truly felt that the joy and love she was showing was the joy and love that she felt, not because she was oblivious to her circumstances or faking through the pain, but because the good things that she saw to come from her circumstances far outweighed the bad.

See, she spoke a lot about her children… they’d actually lost their stepfather- her second husband- to cancer a few years back. I think it was knowing the pain that they’d endure in losing her which was the worst part for her to have to face. It was the only time I thought maybe her smile could begin to fade. But as she continued to tell me about their plans to enjoy life to the fullest, beginning with my class as their first step toward adventure (I felt beyond honored), her face quickly began to light up again. And it wasn’t only the idea of making new, amazing memories with her loved ones that seemed to filled her heart; it was more what she knew her children would take from it all. I saw that it was the strength that they’d gain and the appreciation for truly living and enjoying life that she knew they’d never let out of their sight was what made her glow. She knew that through her difficult circumstances, she was able to give them something that was absolutely priceless- the gift of life.

We talked some more about this and I told her how wonderful I thought it was that they were choosing to move past what they can’t control and toward finding new, wonderful things to build upon in the rubble. I know that’s not easy for most to do in much less of trying circumstances and I found it to be so inspiring to see her making the most of something that she would be more than justified to spend her remaining days crying and sulking over. I asked her if she thought it was funny, that it often takes something as catastrophic as being faced with death for most to wake up and realize what’s truly important in life, and she said, “Absolutely. It’s a terrible waste that we allow our whole lives to pass us by, only to realize what we were meant to do with it all along right before we’re gone. That’s why I’m glad for my daughters to get to have this experience. My heart breaks for them to go through this again and lose another parent, but my heart leaps for the lives I know they’ll live after. They’ll never take a moment for granted… they actually have a shot at living.”

I believe that. I believe that we can choose to live our lives now. We don’t need to be faced with death to see the importance of our lives and understand what a blessing it is to have this one extra day, even if that’s all we get. I also don’t believe we need to be faced with pain and illness in order to appreciate the meaning of true health and vibrance. I do my best to live each day with meaning and purpose, and I try to always make choices that feed my body, mind, and soul properly along the way to benefit my today as well as my tomorrow, if I should be so blessed to have one. And I’m not perfect- I’m human- but I try. And I think that’s all we can really do. It’s the effort that shows gratitude and appreciation, which is the most important part. It may not ever yield perfection, but it will ultimately yield results worth having.

I pray that this beautiful woman is healed and blessed with years upon years of happy, healthy, vibrant living… but if that is not what’s meant to be, I pray that her life continues on through her children and those who know and love her. One way or another, she has impacted this world tremendously simply by existing and by allowing herself to be authentic and true, and I’m grateful for her. Thankful for the love that she shares with the world… felt like I got forever in a day. ❤

Mother’s Day (everyday)

I’ve been scaring the daylights out of you since circa 1988. From the time I chose to bungee jump in your womb with the umbilical cord around my neck to the moment I told you I’d be traveling solo across the world and that I didn’t really have any plans as to how I was even going to make that happen. “Just seeing where the wind blows me!” was my answer, and the look on your face said it all- you weren’t exactly excited. But you pushed through.

You pushed through that emergency c-section to save my life from my bungee adventure gone wrong, you pushed through our years of disagreement and misunderstanding each other as we learned how to know and respect each other as people, and you pushed through that feeling of fear when I expressed my wild and crazy dreams to you so that you could bring yourself to a place of unconditional love, support, and encouragement, for me. You’ve been strong for me in so many ways that you may not even be aware of, and it would take the entire day for you to read through the list if I provided it here, but that’s not what today is about. Today is YOUR day- one that I want to start with thanks, but one that will be carried through in whatever way you desire to spend it because you deserve it.

The truth is, you deserve much more than a day, because you never get a day off. You’ve been my maja for going on 28 years now… you must be exhausted! It couldn’t have been easy to raise a free-spirited wild thang hippie child, but you were strong, and in some cased you even ran wild with me.

Which is why I try my very best to let you know constantly how much you’re so very loved and appreciated. I want you to know everyday, not just today, how amazing you are… how strong, beautiful, kind, inspiring, and absolutely one-of-a-kind incredible you are. I want you to know that you change the world, simply by being you. It’s brighter, more authentic, more true, just because you’re here, being the wonderful woman you are. You deserve to know and feel that each and every day, but today is Mother’s Day and I want all of that love and appreciation from every other day to be so concentrated in your heart that it feels as if it’s going to burst, in the best way possible of course.

You, mom, are an amazing human being and I love you. You’re my best friend and I’m beyond blessed to know you, let alone to have you by my side in this life as mother. Thank you for being you, for loving me so immensely and so unconditionally… thank you for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom! You. Are. Special.

The Butterfly Effect

This story is so incredibly touching. And while it may seem like a sad story, because when we watch it or hear about it, we will be associating the experiences of this young man with what we would do and feel if we were in his shoes, which is likely loads of self pity and wallowing in negativity each day, but what I would encourage anyone who watches this to recognize is the light within it all. See the light that’s in his heart and be happy for it, but also make sure to understand what it takes for him to maintain that. It’s so inspiring and moves me to constantly remember that what I feel is painful or hopeless in life is nothing more than an obstacle, which I can choose to view as a roadblock or I can choose to view as an opportunity for strength and success.

Imagine living with the immense pain that this young man lives with all over his body… now imagine living with that pain each and every day of your life. Imagine that it does not ever get better, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel- no possibility of it ever dissipating. And then imagine finding the strength to get up each and every day, knowing what awaits you, and still looking forward to your life… still maintaining a positive perspective and motivation to make the most out of what could very easily be seen as an entirely hopeless situation. This condition effects every single aspect of his life. From the smallest aspects like eating and drinking or using the restroom, to larger aspects like the activities he’s able to engage in and any social life, hobbies, or work he’d like to do. Most of those parts of his life are severely limited in ways that we could never imagine truly coping with. And yet, he gets up out of bed each and every day, and he continues to have a spirit and hold a positive outlook about his life. He continues to seek and find purpose in his life. I’m sure he certainly has his bad days, no doubt about it. He’s human, and while he’s a strong human, he most certainly is going to have his moments of weakness in which I’m sure he questions his purpose and the necessity of him being here in this life, enduring this pain over and over, feeling restricted from experiencing the many things in life that the rest of us tend to take for granted. But he continues to push through, knowing that there’s never actually going to be a point in time when his efforts are met with what I think we all would see as a “success” here, which would be living pain free and having the ability to live a normal life. He will not have that, yet he pushes through and speaks of positivity, dreaming, helping, loving. And it’s beautiful.

This provides some strong perspective for me, as well as an immense sense of love and gratitude for this young man… for his strength in finding purpose in his life each and every day and for his strength and selflessness in sharing his story. It leaves him so vulnerable and so exposed, but rather than wallowing in self-pity and hiding from the world and diving into a sea of darkness in his mind and emotions that I think anyone could understand and would agree to be well justified, he found strength. He found purpose. And it blows me away, reminding me of just how trivial most of our “problems” in life are, as well as just how insignificant most of what we value in life is. The way that we look, the status we hold, the power we have, the things we own… it’s all so insignificant, and every bit of it can be taken from us in an instant. Then what? What happens when we place our value in things that can change at any moment? What this story highlights is someone who was never given the opportunity to place his value in any of those things, and he has taken that as an opportunity in and of itself. He has taken the opportunity that he’s been given to find his true value, which lies in his heart and in the purpose he has in this life, and he holds onto that so strongly. That cannot ever be taken away from him, not even in death, and I think it’s a lesson that so many of us can truly learn from. Placing value in something as trivial as physical appearance or ability, in the things we have, or in the opinions that others have of us is leaving your worth in the hands of what’s temporary and, ultimately, insignificant. When we learn to focus on what truly matters- what’s in our hearts- our whole world changes, and as a result, THE world changes.

My thoughts and prayers go out to this amazing young man and his friends and family that make sure he’s surrounded by love and support. He’s an inspiration and a light, and I’m grateful for his existence. ❤

Wanderlove

I have always been a wanderer, barely grounded and unconfined… and I don’t mind that. Not only do I not mind that, but I have come to love that about me. Because my wandering heart has brought me to many people, places, and situations that have inspired me, touched me, broken me, and rebuilt me. My wandering heart has broadened my horizons in thought, emotion, and dreaming in ways that I couldn’t have intentionally imagined if I tried. It has has filled my soul with beauty, amazement, awe, and love to the point that I can no longer hold it in, so now I overflow these things and share them openly with anyone that cares to receive them. I can no longer contain my spirit, nor do I want to.

Because what I once thought to be strange and doubted would ever be understood or valued is now my most coveted piece of my me. My desire to know the world more- to really feel it and learn to understand it, to be open to meeting strangers and unattached with saying goodbye, all while holding onto gratitude for the part that they played in my journey- comes from a place of deep, unrestrained love… a love for life, for others, and for myself.  And while that may seem dangerous to some, to live with a heart so wide open for all to see and even feel, I know that it is also an adventure and opportunity. Giving and receiving love in abundance simply cannot happen with the dam walls in place.

I do not fear that danger, that flood, anymore because I see that it is not pain, nor failure, nor rejection, nor uncertainty that I have to fear… it is living a life in fear of living my life that I should be afraid of. And I do not fear the falls of my journey, as I have learned to create a dance with them. I no longer fear feeling the pain of rejection because I welcome the excitement of exploring a new and unexpected path. My wandering heart used to instill fear in me- fear because I could see that I was different and didn’t know how I would ever blend in with the world around me, fear that I might not ever truly be understood, and fear that I may be dreaming too big and, therefore, might fail in what I pursue. But thankfully, my wandering heart has kept beating, and despite my best intentional efforts to ignore it, my feet knew to follow. And now I know that I was meant to dance all along.

That rhythm inside of me has been calling me out to the dance floor ever since the time of my birth and I now realize that there is nothing that fills me with joy more than when I’m stomping my feet down and waving my hands high, because man, oh man… this wanderer’s heart knows the best damn songs. This isn’t wanderlust, this is wanderlove. ❤

I Don’t Believe You

This has been a hard topic for me to touch on for a while, for multiple reasons. Initially, I was reserved in sharing because it’s extremely personal and for a long time I allowed myself to feel really embarrassed about it. Aside from that, there’s just so much involved… these past few years of my life in particular have entailed so much that it’s honestly difficult to sum up and put into words. But I feel that sharing my story is important, because we shouldn’t ever try to hide our story, and I want to be an example of that. While our story is not what defines us, it is a very real and very significant aspect of all of the things that developed us into who we are today. I’m no longer afraid to share my story and I think anyone who knows me nowadays will tell you that I’m an open book. I’m immensely proud of the woman I am today and the ways in which I’ve grown from my past experiences, and I know now better than ever how impactful it can be to hear someone else’s story and find comfort in knowing that we’re not alone. If my words can provide any small ounce of that comfort to anyone else out there, I’m more than happy to write them. This is nowhere near the entirety of “my story”, but it is the beginning of my journey to sharing it more openly, honestly, and with love. So, without further adieu… here goes somethin!

I’d been struggling with some health issues over the past few years that involve a plethora of symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue and digestive issues, major sleep issues (to the point where for a few weeks straight I couldn’t recall one night that I actually fell fully asleep. It was such a weird and terrible thing to experience), and the most significant of them all, which was a diagnosis I received almost 3 years ago of polycystic ovarian syndrome. The symptoms for this vary for each person, but mine mainly included insulin resistance, no menstruation or ovulation and, as a result, infertility. Doctors told me there was no way to cure PCOS but that the symptoms were treatable with diet and exercise, as well as taking birth control to manage my dismantled hormones and basically give me a fake period each month, as I was not able to have one on my own. The minute they told me they’d treat my hormonal symptoms with a hormone-faking pill (which is exactly what it is- it fakes hormones in your body to trick it into thinking it’s already pregnant so you won’t ovulate) was the moment I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands.

These doctors mean well, but they only know what they’re taught, and it was becoming clear to me after years of seeing doctors and specialists trying and failing to figure out what was wrong with me, and receive countless side-effect-ridden prescriptions blindly written to me to mask the symptoms I was experiencing rather than treating the core of the cause, that some things were being lost in translation in their teachings. And I was not going to continue experiencing the byproduct of that.

I chose to try healing myself naturally. The way that I saw it, something caused this… our bodies do not just decide to give up on us. I don’t believe that. Something happens, whether we are aware of it or not, to trigger these illnesses and injuries, and I refused to accept the idea that “it just happens, we don’t know why, and we don’t know how to fix it”. If something happened to cause it, something can be done to change it, and I felt deep down in my core that it began with what I was putting into my body. I started by removing any prescription medications, moved on to removing and over the counter medications, and soon began learning what would be the most beneficial and non-beneficial food to our bodies for optimum healing and overall health. Now, I am certainly no doctor and was starting at square one with my learning, but I did have an advantage that no other doctor in the world had on me, and that’s the fact that this body is my body and, therefore, I could learn to listen to it and allow it to guide me in my journey. It definitely wasn’t easy because I still had an array of symptoms that were interfering with my everyday life as I started out and I didn’t have any quick fixes to give me comfort, but what I was going for was actually curing the root of the cause and yielding longterm results rather than band-aiding it to get through the day, so I was prepared for the struggle of figuring that out.

And oh yes, it was a struggle. It honestly felt like I was trapped in my own body a lot of the time because I had so much love for life and desire to explore it, but my physical body just wouldn’t allow me to do that like I wanted to. I almost never had the physical energy and ability to do the things I wanted or see the people I wanted to see, and I actually lost touch with a lot of friends who came to think I just didn’t want to be around them. That obviously wasn’t the case, but I was embarrassed of my health issues at the time, and even more than that, since I didn’t really have any idea what they were exactly or how to address them, I just didn’t think many people would understand. I mean, telling someone that you can’t meet up with them because you just don’t have any energy sounds petty, and telling them that you’re chronically fatigued sounds like you deserve an Oscar for your drama performance. So I usually either fibbed and said I was working on an art project (which I honestly couldn’t have focused on if I’d wanted to most times because I was so fatigued and uncomfortable), or I used the general “I’m not feeling very well tonight” excuse as much as I could until it wore out.

When it was mostly the fatigue and maybe just a little bit of pain and discomfort were hitting me rather than a bombarding of all my symptoms at once, I was able to push through it if I needed to with coffee and/or alcohol. They each helped to numb any of the pain or discomfort of my other symptoms and supplement some energy so I could hide what I was going through for a few hours. But that wasn’t always a dependable outcome and both coffee and alcohol had adverse effects in the long run- they both disrupted my sleep, created imbalance to my hormones, and aggravated my insulin resistance more. Not to mention this very real truth- who wants to have to depend on coffee and/or alcohol just to barely function in life? That’s no way to live, and neither is having to constantly miss out on seeing your friends, or to fear that you can’t commit to a job because there might be many days that you don’t have the ability to perform or even show up. Worse than that, there were many times when I would think to myself that even if I stumbled across a miracle and were able to have children, I wouldn’t be a very good mother because I couldn’t imagine ever truly having the energy to get up and play with them, take care of them, and just truly focus and be there with them throughout their lives. Being that kind of person seemed so far out of reach for me… I couldn’t remember what it was like to function “normally”, and I envied anyone I saw who did.

I clearly was not okay with living this way, for so many reasons. So I worked really hard. I spent a lot of time over the last few years doing my own research about health and nutrition and trying different approaches to healing myself naturally. I began making small changes in my diet as well as with my routine in exercise activity and sleep, which were the two hardest parts to address because they felt the most out of my control- exercise felt like an impossible activity to engage in and sleep didn’t seem to want to be a part of my life. But with consistency and determination, I was able to make changes within my life that began to bring results.At times, my attempts were met with what seemed and felt like failures. But I came to learn that within every failure was a learning experience, and with that, I began to see failures as opportunities and, therefore, ultimately successes. It wasn’t easy in any way, but it has been a heck of rewarding journey and I truly wouldn’t change one bit of it for anything. If I had not experienced these difficulties with my health, I would have never had the motivation to pursue and reach a better life like I have… had I not experienced these struggles, I would never know the vibrance of true health like I do now. I’ve learned so much about diet and nutrition, herbs, exercise, meditation, and about myself, as a huge aspect of healing physically was diving into lots of emotional healing that needed to happen, and I’m grateful for every bit of it.

Throughout my journey I continued learning, continued growing, and after some serious patience, I finally began to see progress… slowly, but surely, I saw progress in everything that doctors either “couldn’t figure out” or deemed to be “incurable”, including and especially my PCOS. I’ve never had so much constant, positive energy, so much mental clarity, or so much inspiration and drive for life, and finally feel like I’m free from my cage, able to be me. It’s so amazing what taking care of yourself can do for not only you, but for the world around you. At this point, I can say with confidence that every single one of my “symptoms” is gone- insulin resistance is long gone, fatigue is a foreign concept to me, my digestion is fabulous, hormones and sleep are rock solid, and I officially had my first menstrual cycle in 4 years a month and a half ago, followed by a swift second a mere 32 days later…!! I seriously can’t even express how happy I am about that. I have always felt in my core that being a mother was a huge part of my purpose here in this life, and while adoption is a welcomed concept for me to consider as an addition to my future family, I’ve also always envisioned experiencing the miracle of carrying my own child. I’ll go into the experience of receiving that diagnosis in another post soon, but to put it briefly, it quite possibly was the absolute hardest, most heart-breaking time of my life. I felt like my truest purpose, and worth as woman, had been swiped from beneath me, and I didn’t know where to go from there. It was a hard time, definitely. But I’m stronger for it, and I’ve triumphed over that negativity and created my own future, and that future includes a beautiful, wonderful, healthy family!

I never knew just how much health I was missing until I reached a level of vibrance that I would have thought to be impossible from my lowest point. While so much of what I’ve learned is tied to health and nutrition, and I’ll be sharing the details of that in posts to come, one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned through this journey is that mindset is everything, and recognizing that our circumstances do not define who we are or where we can go is key. There’s always something we can do and create if we want to badly enough, we just have to make the choice to do it and begin taking the steps toward that goal. Allowing someone to tell us that something is impossible, even if they mean well, is robbing ourselves of the opportunity to experience the opportunities that are truly available to us as well as robbing others of benefiting from our example.I’m grateful for every stumble and fall, but I’m even more grateful for the blessings that pour abundantly from them! I hope we can all see our circumstances as blessings in any light, because that’s exactly what they are. There is always good to be found and strength to be gained. Have a happy day, beautiful souls. More blog posts to follow regarding the specifics of the changes I made in my life, but for now, just work on the mindset and know that it is possible. See you soon, loves! ❤

Incurable Inshmurable

Buzz Feed is typically a page on Facebook full of funny and ridiculous videos that distract 9 to 5 workers from doing their jobs efficiently. That’s what they’re there to do. But today, they shared this video, and I think it’s awesome that Buzzfeed is sharing something meaningful like this!

While endometriosis is not my particular diagnosis, I was diagnosed with a condition that I’ll be blogging about soon that is essentially this endometriosis’s sister condition, with many similar and nearly identical symptoms. I can relate to everything that this woman is saying from the physical to the emotional pain and discomfort she feels, though it’s not something I’ve shared very openly with many. I don’t believe in giving negativity life by speaking/”venting” about it more than necessary because I see that all too often, we can begin to dwell when we do that, rather than focusing on the blessings that are in front of us and seeing possible solutions to moving forward. But sometimes our struggles seem to take on a life of their own despite what we do to keep them at bay, and while I cannot say that I’ve ever really allowed people to treat me like dirt because I felt like I had to make up for being broken, I can relate to her feeling of being broken… of feeling like her womanhood had been stripped from her and her worth almost entirely diminished because of it. And truthfully, I think the main reason that I didn’t allow anyone to treat me like dirt during those times is because I didn’t allow anyone to treat me in any sort of way- I kept so many people at what I thought was a “safe” distance because I was afraid they’d see the brokenness within me, and ultimately leave me hurting more than I was to begin with.

But I’m proud to say that that all has been behind me for some time now. I left it there to kick rocks the moment I decided that my body and I are a TEAM, not enemies, and that I needed to begin treating it as so! I began to love myself and my body more than I ever have before and seeing this time as an opportunity for growth, rather than as a time of struggle. I started focusing on vibing positive emotions through my veins at all times (and if I need a boost- MUSIC. ART. NATURE. FRIENDS. FAMILY. Take your pick, my dears, there are options galore available to help you bend those lips!), exercising more with running and yoga, and embarking on a journey to incorporate more organic, fresh, healing plant-based foods into my diet. What I realized was the more I learned, the more blessed I felt to have been motivated by this time of struggle to begin learning in the first place.

Healing myself naturally with an abundance of whole, unprocessed, vitamin-filled, mineral-rich, and enzyme-rich foods that kick pain and disease to the curb and replenish it with all the nourishing goodness our bodies crave has been the best journey I could have ever chosen to embark on, and it was all motivated solely by my refusal to accept that I had to live with limitations within my own body that were “incurable” (I don’t believe in that word. It only exists if you decide that it does). It’s been fun, challenging, strengthening, and has opened up an entirely new world for me that’s brighter, more vibrant, and full of more blessings than I could have ever dreamed, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it all! I so look forward to sharing my progress and victory with the world because while this article and my story are very specific, we all have our own motivation to want to work toward better health, and I hope that my success will serve as a beacon of hope and light for you all to do that!

If you missed the link above, click here to watch the video in reference. It’s brief, and very informative about something that many women struggle with that you may not even know about.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, comments, or would like to share your story with someone who will listen and serve no judgement- only compassion and an open heart waiting for ya! Click the contact link in the “About” section and you’ll be brought to a page with info on how you can connect with me. 🙂

Love > Fear

Okay, SO. The other day I was just waking up, doing my morning stretch/cuddle sesh with the lil man (my handsome pup, Kappie ❤ ) and leisurely getting out of bed as usual. I was relaxed, happy, and ready to start my beautiful, delightful, fabulously wonderful day ahead of me, when BAM. I saw it.

I knew this day would come. In fact, I was quite surprised that it’d taken so long for it to arrive. Since moving into my new apartment almost 8 full months ago, I hadn’t had one surprise visitor like this yet, which was unusual. Living in Florida, it’s quite common, especially when you’re located in a beautiful part of town like I am. The price you pay to be surrounded by water, trees, and luscious grass to play in is… you get roaches.

Up until now, I had always feared them. Roaches were my arch enemy, and I wasn’t strong enough to defeat them on my own. My powers were simply too weak, so I would call in for backup… “Dadddd!!” (Thankfully he worked nearby, and loves me enough to come to my rescue when I’m being attacked by ickiness. Thanks, dad!)

BUT. Today was different… today I decided to be strong.

Contrary to what one may think regarding what “being strong” means in this situation, it did not mean that I was ready to smush this bug with my shoe, or even to spray it with bug spray and wait for it to wither up and die before I carefully picked it up and quickly tossed it to it’s watery toilet grave. Nope. This time strength meant much more than that. It meant that I would save this little guy and release him into his natural habitat… outside… ummm far, far away from my door.

Why would I do this? Good question! In fact, I had to ask myself that question multiple times throughout the time it took for me to act on that strength, and each time I had to remind myself of the answer repeatedly until I could boldly continue moving forward in capture mode. And the truth is that I had two reasons for this decision.

I firstly believe that every animal is a valuable being that deserves life and respect… yes, this even applies to roaches. Secondly, I saw this as an opportunity to exercise strength in a difficult situation, which is something I believe is extremely valuable no matter how “small” the given situation may seem.

See, it would be easy to kill this bug… no one would know, nor would anyone care. In fact, I could more than likely count on much more support in that approach than I would receive for the choice that I was making to free the critter. But ending a life just because it’s easy, and just because I’ve always viewed that like to be “icky”? No. Not gonna happen. It is not only not my place to decide that a life should end, but it’s my responsibility as a human being of love to save anything that I can if I’m able. And even aside from that, honestly, what reason did I even have to think of this critter in such a negative light? I mean, to really think about it, it’s just a roach. It’s just a bug. I have never once been harmed by one of these creatures. I have no reason to fear them. In fact, I’m pretty certain that I would not fear them had I not been taught by the environments and people around me that “roaches are bad” and that they should be feared. My mindset on this matter, which was so difficult for me to shake despite my strong beliefs behind the situation, was entirely created and implemented by other people. Ultimately, I was hesitating on following my own heart because I had allowed other people to tell me how I should feel and think about a certain situation.

Ummm… so that’s absolutely ridiculous.

But then I thought about it some more, and I realized that this is not an uncommon thing, allowing others to strongly influence how we think or what we believe. And how many times have we made decisions based upon that foundation- based upon what we’ve allowed other people and society around us to tell us is right or wrong, good or bad? Furthermore, how many times have we made decisions based out of fear, be it fear created by others or fear created by our own selves and past experiences?

I decided a long time ago to stop allowing others to influence the way that I thought, felt, and acted upon my own life, and I was certainly not going to allow that influence to affect the life of another living creature, even if it is the oh-so-fearful roach.

So, if you’re wondering, yes. I did free the little guy. It took a solid 20 minutes or so for me to push those familiar skin-crawling feelings to the side over and over, and to replace them with an entirely new concept that “this bug is a living creature, and it deserves love and respect just like all living creatures do. There is nothing to fear, it’s just a bug.” But I did it. And it was totally worth it. I feel stronger, I feel more independent, and I’m proud to have had an opportunity to put the strength of love above the weakness of fear.

I won’t lie, I hope that little guy doesn’t come back! I’m perfectly happy with my pup here and would prefer to not have any extra company crawling by unexpectedly. 🙂 But if he does, he can rest easy knowing he’s safe and will be handled with care… unless my roommate’s home. In that case, I can’t be held accountable for her actions.

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Month 1

What’s this 365 days of yoga all about?

Day 1

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Today marks the beginning of my 365 days of yoga, which I’m also kicking off with a 31 day split challenge! Splits aren’t something I typically incorporate into my practice, so I thought putting a mindfulness into incorporating them daily would help me to make sure I’m switching things up and keepin it nice and fresh! I haven’t practiced in a couple of months (sad to say), so I was definitely very tight in the beginning. But as I patiently worked through each pose with ease and forgiveness, understanding that I’m not where I used to be but that I certainly can and will get there, I found myself to be much more limber toward the end! I felt a sense of accomplishment, pride, and health for not only improving in my poses, but for having the motivation and discipline to even try. Off to a great start!! And I’d say split numero uno wasn’t half bad! 😉

Day 2

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Today marks the second day of 356 days of yoga as well as the 31 day split day challenge and ironically, this day has been much more difficult than yesterday’s because my body has been sore from all of the wonderful stretching and release it was able to engage it yesterday after so long! The soreness from stretching mixed with strength poses is definitely uncomfortable to work through, but it also tells me even more that I needed this practice today. Rather than allowing my muscles to contract and become tightened all over again, I worked through another easy practice, easing into the poses that would keep me limber and strong, as well as taking this wonderful opportunity of a relaxed cloudy day to enjoy some of my favorite connection and relaxation poses among the water and nature.
– Child’s pose is a resting pose that brings me back to connecting with my true heart, my intentions, and refocusing before moving forward to more challenging poses.
– Tree pose allows me to connect to my balance and soak up all of the wonderful energy around me, while sending out my own positive vibrations to the rest of the world. It’s one of my favorites!! So much so, that it’s actually a form of standing that I tend to take when I’m at home, comfortable, and chatting away as usual with my friends and family… maybe my arms aren’t always extended like this, but hey- if I’m excited, they just might be! 😉

Day 3

day 3

I’m still easing back into my practice after a general couple of months of barely any yoga, anyone of my absolute FAVORITE types of poses to do when I really need to losses up are hip openers, like pigeon pose (top photo). The hips are where we store all of our tension and emotional energy, so opening and stretching them is a mindful practice that allows us to let go of any negative energy cultivated, allowing room for more positivity. This is why it’s not uncommon to experience or witness tears in a yoga class- the release of much pent up emotions is totally normal, and absolutely necessary for healing!! I like to accompany my hip openers with spoken or whispered mantras that further activate my release of any false ideas of negativity within my life, and the acceptance of all things good, such as “I am health”, “I am joy”, “I am love”.
-The split might not seem to be making much progress yet, but I can already feel a difference… working through it patiently! I’m excited to see the results 🙂

 Day 4

day 4

I. Am. OBSESSED with this weather… I live in absolute paradise and it is a blessing I don’t take for granted for a single moment! Practicing my yoga out here in my backyard is so enriching! That’s why inversions, like this wide-legged forward fold, were my go-to moves for the morning. ☺️
Hangin out upside-down on a beautiful day like this truly brings the world into perspective. We’re so used to seeing the world the way that we see it everyday… we take so many wonderful things for granted so easily, because we’re living on autopilot. Think about driving home from work- you could (but shouldn’t) text while driving, sing and dance along to your favorite song while singing to the cars next to you (mkay, I definitely do this.. ), daydream, check Facebook, etc. all while driving and still make it to your destination successfully (provided you haven’t caused yourself an accident song the way… let’s not actually do those things, k?) But driving to a new destination that you’re not used to requires more awareness, otherwise you can easily get lost. When we make the intention to switch things up, it forces a sense of awareness that awakens your senses and, in turn, awakens your soul. Upside-down world viewing on a glorious day? Yep… heart and soul are WIDE awake!!! ❤

Day 5

Day 5

Today’s practice was beautiful and relaxing! It was cool out with a nice breeze as I worked through some easy poses. I’ve been stretching a lot these past few days and while I certainly want to make sure I rest and allow my muscles and body to recover, that doesn’t mean skipping practice is the answer. It simply means to keep moving, but to be mindful of how and when to push yourself, as well as how and when to be easy. So today was a restful practice full of lots of forward folding to counteract the backbends I’ve been practicing, and of course my favorite- inversions!! Allowing my heart to reside over my mind physically and emotionally is the truest way I know to live!
– Shoulder stand is by far my favorite inversion because it brings all of the benefits of inversions and heart-over-head poses, as well as a sense of nostalgia for me, as it is a pose that I used to do as a child all the time before bed. I think it’s no wonder I was always such a little playful dreamer 😉

Day 6

day 6

Today is day 6 and it was all about balance! I set my mat near the edge for a purpose- to bring intentional awareness to my practice as I worked through some balance poses that I have struggled with in the past. It’s all about improvement, and if we take our approaches out of fear, with limit the progress we can make.

Day 7

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Today was an incredibly beautiful day all around. I was working an event in Punta Gorda, Florida and had some free time afterwards, so I decided to have a little play date with myself to explore the town and adventure a little bit! It’s so important to spend time alone in order to quiet the voices of the world around you and truly connect to your heart’s voice. Mine was screaming with happiness as I practiced yoga all over this beautiful garden park!! It was a lovely day of doing nothing and everything all at the same time. ❤

“We laughed and laughed, together and separately, out loud and silently… we were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored… to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged. It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about my life at all.” -Jonathan Safran Foer

Day 8

Day 8

Welp! It didn’t take much more than one week for me to come across a day I would have easily excused myself from yoga for- day 8 was a struggle to find the time and motivation! It was just a busy day from the start and I left myself no room for yoga in the morning, so I planned to practice when I got home, but because it was super cold out today, all I wanted to do was lay around and snuggle with my lil man (pup) before dozing off. But alas, I remembered my commitment, and I am determined to do this for myself… so here I am!! A brief 15 minute session of relaxation and meditative poses is perfect before bed. 

15 minutes is absolutely affordable!! It’s simply a matter of remembering how badly you want what you say you want, and the reason why you want it.

Day 9

Day 9

Day 9 and I’m feelin fine!
I took the opportunity today to use a yoga YouTube video to take me through my practice, because while sometimes I like to listen to my own heart as it guides me to each next step, many times I really appreciate having someone else guiding me so I can simply follow without thinking. Today that was absolutely perfect because it really allowed me to focus more on my breathing, which is SUCH an important aspect of practice!! If you are not focused on your breathe, you’re missing something vital from your practice and will not reap all of the benefits available to you.
– Crow and headstand were two of my meditation poses today! Both require strength, balance, and awareness, which challenges me all while focusing and relaxing me.

Day 10

Day 10

Today I did not practice a full practice, but I made sure to squeeze in a small amount of bedtime yoga before hitting the hay, which is just what I needed!
-This pose is restorative, relaxing, and healing in so many ways starting with regulating blood flow, to improve digestion and relieve menstrual cramps, to relieving anxiety and insomnia. It even provides anti-aging benefits because it helps the blood to flow to places that need it, preventing aging by depletion.

Day 11

Day 11

Splitsville before bed! I tend to get bouts of super busy days, and sometimes it’s really easy to find an excuse to skip practice, but I know better at this point and refuse to sacrifice what I know to be good for my mind, body, and soul for what’s “easy”. I’m always thankful for pushing myself into practice, and tonight was no different. Loving the progress I’ve made so far!

Day 12

Today I practiced headstand as well as some balance poses that I’ve typically avoided, like extended warrior and bird of paradise. The reason that I avoid balance poses is because I haven’t had the best of luck with sticking them. But that is precisely why I know that I need to work through them, and the motivation to do so comes from my motivation to squash any fear or hesitation of pursuing anything good… I will not be held back by fear! I may fall in the process, but at least I’m in the process. ❤
You can view the video from my Instagram here!

Day 13

Day 13

I focused a lot on flexibility today because after a couple of Pure Barre fitness classes this week (so much fun and such a burn- definitely recommend!) my muscles are super soar and tight, especially in my legs. Splits and straddles were my best friends today! :o)

Speaking of best friends, meet my friend and neighbor’s dog, Crash… this crazy chico decided to pay a visit during my practice, and I didn’t mind one bit! Isn’t he the cutest??

Day 14

Day 14

Standing split is known for its benefits in challenging balance, strength, and flexibility at once, while appropriately showing off the very much underrated plaid PJ’s.

*Playing before bed since 1988*

Day 15

Day 15

Seriously with the animals… I don’t hate it, but I’m tryyyyin to focus here. 😉
-A heart opener like bridge pose will always arrant good company! ❤

Days 16-18

Day 16

This yogi bear and I got down on some travel yoga to supplement while we were away, and it was perfection. Life is not always able to be planned or predictable, so many times we have to work with what we can. This is a perfect example of making it work, because there’s really no excuse for not moving your body at least a little bit every day. Having a partner-in-zen most definitely makes it better though!! 😉

Find this beautiful soul at PointsToWellness.com, @points2wellness on Instagram and Points 2 Wellness on Facebook… seriously, she’s amazing. Acupuncture extraordinaire and yogi bear to the core! She’s the best and I love her mucho so you really should go check her out rightmeow. 🙂

Day 17

Yoga in the park definitely happened today… and Captain America gave me strength.
That is all.
Watch my Instagram video of Carly and me practicing (*ahem* attempting to practice) in the park here!

Day 19

So a friend of mine and I were talking this weekend about art, and he pointed out that my art is always so happy. I told him that it’s because I am so happy, and he challenged me on it. I explained that I’m blessed with the gift of finding the good in any situation, and that while I do not hide any struggles or pretend that they don’t exist, I simply don’t give them any more life by focusing on them, especially in the form of my art. I believe that the beauty of the world is what deserves the light. But as we were talking, I realized that art is a window to the soul, and that it’s beautiful to allow that window to share everything, even the struggles, because sharing that shows what we’ve built from to come to the beauty, rather than allowing our selective sharing to give the false impression to the world that we are somehow always “perfect” (whatever that means!).

So this is me, in my imperfection, building towards strength and balance in a new position. I fell at least 30 times today!! And it’s beautiful. I don’t allow it to discourage me. Instead, I learn from each fall and will continue to work towards success!

Never stop learning, never stop growing, never lose your foolishness. (Watch the Instagram video here)

Day 20

Day 20

Pretty sure he immediately regretted interrupting my practice… but a little acro yoga was a nice way to end day 20!

While yoga is meant to help you find the very real and very deep connection between mind, body, and soul, all too often we can forget how incredibly vital laughing and playing is to it all! Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, goof off with yourself and/or a friend… making FUN of life is what it’s ultimately all about!!

Days 21-23 (*see Day 24*)

Day 24

Day 24

After back-to-back 17 hour days of standing for the majority of that time, 3 days in a row, I can’t even express how happy I am to be able to spend some time in my practice today, stretching it out and regaining my sense of liberation!!

In all honesty, I have not done my full practice or splits in these last few days, as I had no time to give- sleep was my priority once I was home! Instead, I accepted my temporary shift of focus, trusting and putting out the intention that I would regain momentum the instant that I was able, and I took whatever opportunity to practice that I could find. I practiced a few brief moves one day, and stuck with a brief forward fold each day at bare minimum, and truly- allowing myself a moment to breathe, stretch, and relax into forward fold did wonders to reboot me when I was feeling worn and tight! It’s a tiny little something, but hey, it’s something!!

I was super super tight in nearly every move, and my split most definitely regressed, but that’s absolutely fine because I know ill make it back to where I was in no time with some dedication and work!! I would never advocate for putting your health so far down in your priorities as I did in my last few days, but because I knew that it would be a brief time and that I’ve taken care of myself well enough to this point that I could endure that brief time and still be well, I was willing to trade that focus in order to invest my time and energy into another endeavor that I believed in. It’s all about balance and following your heart! I’m just thankful that my heart lead me back to yoga this beautiful afternoon… I’ve missed you, leggings!!!

Day 25

Day 25

I almost forgot my Day 25! Silly billy Audrey 🙂

I did some morning yoga right at the foot of my bed when I woke up because it was too darn cold to go outside… and it was perfection. So I thought I’d share my view of downdog with y’all!

Day 26

The 80’s jamz and themed socks were calling my name this morning… and I opened that door WIDE open. (Anyone looking for dance lessons email me… probably booked all year after this posts but I’ll try to work everyone in there!)

Oh! Right! Yes I did yoga too. 😊 Side plank is one of my least favorites because I tend to avoid arm strength anything, because I have little arm strength… anddddd that’s exactly why I needed to do it. You can also lift your top leg and arm up to go into star if you’re feelin strong!! Clearly my jam sesh had me feelin like superman so I went ahead and got down on some of that.
Push yourself to your limits this week and watch yourself grow!!… and then dance about it.
Watch the Instagram video here!

Day 27

Day 27

Today I decided to save my yoga for bed because honestly, I was excited to play in my bed!! I’ve got a king size bed all to myself (though that adorable little furry chub baby on the left pillow there does tend to somehow claim most of the space at night?), so I’ve gotta put it to good use somehow! I used to play around in my bed all the time before I went to sleep, and when I woke up! Summersaults, shoulder stands, headstands, etc… I was a playful child, and I’ve brought that playfulness into my adulthood readily!! That’s while I’m thinking a bedtime yoga sequence is the PERFECT thing to incorporate into this fluff kingdom. 🙂 And here it is!
-Twists help to release toxins and relieve stress, child’s pose is a nice resting pose to fall into, and knees to chest bring a sense of calmness as you squeeze out any tension that’s left from your day and release it into corpse pose, where you can meditate and even fall right asleep if you’re at that point! It was suuuuuper relaxing tonight; the zzz’s were abundant!

Day 28

Day 28

Today I decided to take a 5k run to a new yoga spot because it is just so incredibly beautiful outside!! I love running when I have the energy, and living off of a hclf raw vegan lifestyle these past few months has absolutely fueled me with an abundance of pure, vibrant energy!

I practiced about 30 minutes of yoga out here at the park, working a lot on balance poses, but I have to say that the most significant yoga practice today was the running in itself!

Many people believe that yoga is confined to the poses we engage in during a practice, but the truth is that we can find yoga, or the concept within the practice which is truly the most important aspect of yoga, in anything that physically moves us, as long as it’s something that brings us to a place of focus, meditation, and health. I’ve found myself in mediation mode while exercising at the gym before, and I certainly find that happy place often while running! I just make sure my earbuds are feeding me goodness in the form of an audio book, a motivational video to listen to, or whatever music speaks to me in a positive way. I make sure to incorporate health for my mind and soul into whatever I’m doing to focus on my physical health because bringing all of that together and truly allowing time to focus on it is what yoga is!

Day 29

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Today I chose to practice in the grass where I could closer connect with nature as the sun began to set, and it was absolutely beautiful. I feel blessed every single day to wake up in such a gorgeous location where I can easily step into nature to enjoy all the best of God’s artwork! Practicing yoga in an environment like that is beyond inspiring!
-Twists like this are GREAT for really wringing out your body to get the blood flowing and toxins releasing. It shakes things up so that all that’s good within your body can keep moving and working as it’s supposed to, it releases tension in your legs, back and shoulders, and it really shakes up those toxins that have built up from stress and poor diet so they can kick rocks and get outta here!! Feels amazing, especially with a nice firm arm in the air to open up your heart to the world!

 

 

 

 

About

Audrey Jennifer is an eternal optimist and lover of life who was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, but has always lived with the knowledge that she is a part of so much more. Knowing that there was a world that is so much greater than the confines of her beloved hometown, she developed and an insatiable thirst to explore it.  She works as an artist and art instructor, dabbling in various mediums of visual art, writing, and music in order to express her visions of the world around her.

Although she has always seen the world in a unique way, it wasn’t until recent years that she began sharing her voice through her various creative talents. Through an array of difficult, inspiring, and strengthening experiences in her life, she came to realize that what she was seeing in the world was its beauty, and that continuing to keep that herself would be selfish. From that point forward, she made it her personal mission to experience life to the fullest for herself, and to use her creative talents to share all of the wonderful things that she would come to see and love so that others may do the same. And because Audrey believes that appreciating and caring for the body she was given to experience this life in is of upmost importance to thriving in these life adventures, she has also developed a passion for health and wellness, which she pursues through eating organic plant-based foods and practicing yoga regularly, along with any other form of exercise that she feels moved to try, including and especially dancing… she does lots of dancing.

She thrives on inspiration, beauty, and love, and is always looking for an opportunity to experience and/or share that with others. Please feel free to browse around her site, which is full of artsy things, health and nutrition, yogi bear type stuff, and daily revelations or ridiculous thoughts comprised in the form of a blog.

If you’d like to contact her regarding any or all of those things, or to simply share your story and reach someone who will actually listen, and *gasp!* even care, feel free to connect with her here. She knows better than to think that this world stops at what she already knows, and she’s always thirsting to learn more!