Transition

Ever since I got engaged, I’ve been perusing Pinterest far more than I’d like to admit. I’m also a huge quote junky, loving bits of truth and inspiration to remind myself to stay grounded, confident, aware, and present. I found this little pin today and for whatever reason, it landed pretty hard.

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I’m someone who really loves change. I’m almost always thinking about what’s next, which can get me into trouble at times, but mostly keeps me really excited about life’s potential opportunities and journeys. My typical state is: enthusiastic, lighthearted, and very optimistic.

This year, however, has been strangely challenging. All of these incredible things are happening and getting done and moving forward, yet I can’t shake this weird weight off my shoulders. I go from wanting to completely drop everything I’m involved in, to pouring myself relentlessly into projects and side hustles. I go from only wanting to sleep, to exercising a ton and making amazing meals for myself. I go from thinking I’m a badass, to wondering how much potential I really have.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way, but what I’ve found as of late is how exhausting it is. Living in the “should do this” and “should have done that” and “why aren’t you this” and “I wonder why’s” is truly deflating.

If you’ve followed my blog or know a little about my story, you know that I’m on this obsessive minimalism bandwagon. And truthfully, I think that’s where the weight comes from, knowing that life can be so much simpler than me dragging 20 different projects behind me at any given moment. I was talking to a friend about how tiring it can be to have something every single weekday and she just shrugged and said, “I don’t really have that in my life.” All the while, I’m thinking to myself, must be nice. And that statement is powerful because it meant I (at one point) believed that I couldn’t have that. That “it must be nice” meant I didn’t have the power to choose my path, my present, my future.

I’m in a transition of peeling layers and layers of self-created expectations and other stories and trying to find simplicity. And it’s really exhausting because I fear disappointment, I hate quitting things, and I definitely don’t like “not having things to do” (whatever that means). But I want focus, I want less, I want and crave meaningful time with friends and family without thinking about all the things that need to get done.

Anyone?

Anyone?

I want to transition to my most beautiful self, but it’s going to take a lot of adjustment along the way and the mental roadblocks are totally real. The thing is, I know how to say no. I know that every single day, I get to choose where my time and energy goes, but the power of habits and routines keep me in the same cheery “oh, sure I’d love to!” place. Transition takes courage and it also takes grit, a couple things I am slowly learning.

Is anyone else feeling the load and wanting to lift it? This isn’t a cry for help, but an opportunity to share that “the girl who is doing so many things” is really tired of doing so many things. And if there are souls in this world who are feeling the same, I would love to chat about it in person.❤

Body image: from fifth grade to adulthood

I remember when I was in high school and obsessed about a small dark freckle slash borderline mole and just had to get it removed. My “rosacea” was out of control, and god forbid some cute boy would see the popped blood vessel on my nose.

Going to the gym in high school always required shaved, tan legs, a great “messy bun,” a dash of perfume, and mascara.

I think it was about fifth or sixth grade when my friends and I would wrap our hands around one another’s thighs to see whose was the thinnest and then covet whoever had the smallest distance between fingers. (There was no such phrase as “thigh gap” back in the early 2000s, thank God).

In high school, I used the word fugly when I talked about a girl that started dating my ex-boyfriend. And people laughed. So I kept doing it.

Typing out those moments and reliving those experiences gives me mixed emotions. I’m terribly saddened by some of my behaviors that really was just me wanting to be popular, beautiful and loved. And I’m also really grateful because I don’t live in that world any longer.

My little under-the-eye mole got complimented last week. I typically roll out of bed with lines on my face from the pillow to exercise. I could care less about leg hair and the “rosacea” gives my pale face some color. I never use the word ugly anymore; in fact, it’s banned from my vocabulary (except obviously right now).

I teach yoga now and one of the things I’ve learned from my own practice is to simply appreciate the body I have and find gratitude for what it does. My legs walk! My arms reach! My toes wiggle! My hair grows! I spent a majority of my life being fixated on what wasn’t, on what I could be like on what I should be like. Through life lessons and probably from reading a dozen self-help books, I’ve worked to reframe my thinking. I want to be beautiful, but I want it to come from an authentic place. I want to feel good and if that means being bare faced and in my sideline pants (thanks for the term, Z), okay. If it means busting out a fun top with a sparkly necklace, awesome.

Our bodies are so important. They pump our blood, they house our brain, and all these crazy life-giving things are happening inside of us and we rarely take time to tune into that. 

When is the last time you appreciated something about your body?

Lately, I’ve been integrating more plant-based foods into my diet and making some really great recipes from my Oh She Glows cookbook and my Hello Fresh subscription (I’ve only done one week, but love what I got). I set an alarm on my phone every day to take a multivitamin and if I make time, I’ll whip up a green smoothie. I’ve cleaned up all of my skincare products to use only Beautycounter after I realized how many harmful ingredients are in other hygienic products, and I do the exercises I actually enjoy doing.

And because of those small integrations, I am feeling my best. I probably weigh more than last summer and my recent mole removals make my back look kind of spotty, but I’m taking care of my vessel. What I put on my body and in my body has a strong effect on how I feel. Don’t get me wrong, if you bring me a cookie or tell me there are cupcakes within walking distance, I’ll show up almost every time. But, I don’t aim for perfection anymore and this false idea of what my body should look like.

When I started to realize that I get just one chance to live in this body, I wanted to make sure it was equipped to enjoy the ride. What do you do to feel your best?

 

 

Friday Fives

1. First and foremost… we are engaged! Z proposed at the place we got our first picture together amidst Ankeny traffic (and next to Abe so there was a witness). We celebrated at Firetrucker and with shots at Fongs. It was incredibly special and a moment I’ll never forget.

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2. I got my first Hello Fresh delivery on Wednesday and the first meal made was super tasty. I went the vegetarian route for the meals since I suck at eating vegetables and so far, so good.

3. This is kind of blogging nerd stuff, but about a month ago I chose to self-host my blog, which means I have a completely new layout that I’ve been refining for a while. I’m stuck on a few technical issues within WordPress, but the new online space should be rolling out soon!!!

4. This is a great word invention.

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5. Looking to expand my selection of music I listen to… recommendations?

Friday Fives

1. House of Cards is one of my favorite thing to do to unwind. I’m completely addicted.

2. Although I have a ways to go, I paid off one of my student loans with the highest interest! I am able to save so much more money because of our mortgage bill that is literally half of our previous rent payments (!!!!) and because of extra revenue from side hustles. Celebrating small wins is something I’m trying to focus more of my energy on, rather than being dragged down by things that aren’t going quite right.

3. Over 100 Beautycounter consultants went to DC to try to increase regulation on what ingredients are allowed to be in skincare & cosmetic products. This article sums up what we are trying to do.

“The goal is to give somebody who buys a product, eventually, the knowledge that there’s nothing in that product which in five years can cause you cancer or can disrupt your endocrine system.” – Senator Dianne Feinstein

To continue building awareness of this important work, I’m scheduling small get togethers with people who are interested in learning about safer skincare options and what they should steer clear from. Simply fill out the contact form.❤

4. Several of my Facebook friends gave input on where to get my swimsuit this year. I went with J.Crew because I have had good luck with their stuff in the past, there was a great sale, and I am loving the color & scalloped detail. Ready for Memorial Day weekend outdoor swimming adventures.

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5. I’m a pretty big fan of May. Two of my favorite men graduated college, my family had a couple birthdays, Snookies has been consumed by way of bike, POP UP YOGA had its first event with over 200 people, grad school wrapped up for the semester, the event I coordinated was very successful, and this weekend Z and I get to celebrate one year of dating.

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Advice I’m Trying To Give & Take

I was writing in a card for my brother’s graduation (spoiler, Lucas) and was thinking about the best advice I could give someone coming out of college and moving into the big, working world. The world where most of us clock in, clock out, spend a few hours eating, cleaning, doing laundry and then repeating the act.

I reflected on my senior year of college and where I was both physically and mentally. Donald Miller came out with his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and I quickly snagged it since I am one of his biggest fans and it radically shifted the way I viewed life.

At a low point in his life, Donald was approached by movie producers who wanted to turn his memoir into a movie. It made him reflect on how interesting his life would be on the big screen, which then made me wonder, would I change the way I’m living my life if someone said they wanted to create a book or a movie about the journey I’ve taken? Am I living the most meaningful life possible? Donald spends most of the book reflecting on story, and what it took for him to create a more meaningful life.

“If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.”

After reading this book, I knew I couldn’t take the full-time job offered to me with an incredible salary and cush benefits. I had to go out and experience the world, so I signed up to bike across America with a group of nine strangers who cared about social justice and exploring the country.

It was mind-blowing. Some people know this about my life, while others wonder why the redhead has a bike on her bicep. It was the best and worst thing I’ve ever done. No responsibilities, yet so much responsibility to finding sanity in the hottest summer on record in 2012 (remember that summer?!). It was easy because all I did was spin my legs round and round for hours and it was challenging because my mind was taking me to places I didn’t want to go. But going to those places helped shape me, move me, mold me into the woman I am today.

So my advice to college students (and really, anyone) is:

  1. Participate in remarkable moments and explore the beautiful world with magnificent people.
  2. Don’t give an f about what people think or say about you as you live your life.

You get this beautiful, short-lived time on earth to do whatever you want! Live in a tiny house, buy a mansion, be a cruise ship performer, stay home with your kids, do stand up comedy, serve your country. Do what makes you happy and if you don’t know what makes you happy, don’t mope around, try new things! My advice, although hard to truly soak in for myself, is to remember how precious this all is. How much time to you waste living in the past or fearing the future? As Jen Sincero says,

“It never ceases to amaze me the precious time we spend chasing the squirrels around our brains, playing out our dramas, worrying about unwanted facial hair, seeking adoration, justifying our actions, complaining about slow Internet connections, dissecting the lives of idiots, when we are sitting in the middle of a full-blown miracle that is happening right here, right now. We’re on a planet that somehow knows how to rotate on its axis and follow a defined path while it hurtles through space! Our hearts beat! We can see! We have love, laughter, language, living rooms, computers, compassion, cars, fire, fingernails, flowers, music, medicine, mountains, muffins!”

I don’t live this out day to day, but I try to instill these thoughts and truly believe that my life can mean something and that it can be lived to the fullest. And sometimes things get messy and out of whack and I’m off course because I let someone dictate my emotions, but I try my best to come back to the idea that I can create what I want out of life. I am the artist. 

When I was on my second bike tour around Lake Michigan, I was a co-leader, so I was responsible for driving the van every few days. This gave me significant time to read while waiting for the cyclists to grab a snack and water. I snagged the book The Fives Regrets of the Dying from a gal pal and was incredibly moved by this book as well (in fact, all three authors in this book are my top five favorites). Bronnie wrote about her experience caring for those who were dying and shared the messages of those who left this earth without peace of mind. Her book is special and I sincerely hope you take time to read it. She states in her book:

“Life is over so quickly. It is possible to reach the end with no regrets. It takes some bravery to live it right, to honour the life you are here to live but the choice is yours. … Appreciate the time you have left by valuing all of the gifts in your life and that includes especially, your own, amazing self.”

So to the graduates, the non-graduates, the people who are punching in and out of jobs, may we acknowledge together that this life is too sweet & too short to waste on people who drain our energy, on jobs that suck, and things we have told ourselves we “should” do.

“Life doesn’t owe us anything. We only owe ourselves, to make the most of the life we are living, of the time we have left, and to live in gratitude.”

Mindful Monday: Decide

I love getting to my yoga mat at really any time of day, but one of my routines has started to include a class at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. It’s a 75-minute class and I almost always leave learning something new about myself.

As I got to the class yesterday, I knew the shirt I was wearing was not the most ideal since it wasn’t very form-fitting (not that it needs to be). It would fall onto my face in downward dog and needed to be tucked in. So I went back and forth, trying to decide if I should just practice in my sports bra. I spent way too much time thinking about it, wondering whether or not someone would think I wanted to show off or if someone would feel uncomfortable or if I would even feel comfortable in my own skin.

And so I decided to do it, to expose the bandages on my back and let the weekend beer belly hang over the stretchy pants. It was a very empowering decision for me, something so small, yet so mighty. I decided in that moment that I was responsible for me, not what other people decided to think or say about it.

This word decide kept coming up and coming up and coming up during class and I remembered Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy saying,

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Sometimes things come up for us. Words, phrases, emotions, what have you. This was my word, my reminder to decide again and again to live my best life, be my best self, and be okay with the imperfections, the scars, the word vomit, the tears.

 

 

Friday Fives

1. I am in love with my new cookbook called The Oh She Glows Cookbook. It is full of tons of plant-based recipes that are full of flavor. I don’t particularly care for cooking, but I made some sort of vegan burritos and this incredible baked oatmeal that will basically feed me for days.

2. Mark Manson, who introduced me to the F yes or no concept, wrote this post about trusting yourself and I love this little snippet:

In the West, the idea of the individual self is so central to so many of our cultural institutions — not to mention the advertising industry — and we’re so caught up in “figuring out” who we are that we rarely stop long enough to consider whether or not it’s even a useful concept to begin with. Perhaps the idea of our “identity” or “finding yourself” hinders us just as much as it helps us. Perhaps it confines us in more ways than it frees us. Of course, it’s useful to know what you want or what you enjoy, but you can still pursue dreams and goals without relying on such a rigid concept of yourself.

3. It was fun being interviewed by Evan, my friend who started the site Say Hello to the City. He interviewed me about all sorts of random (but related) topics: finding meaning and purpose in work, what neighborhood revitalization looks like in my world, why being an enthusiast is my passion and purpose, and the joys of POP UP YOGA DSM. Speaking of POP UP, look at these beautiful humans. I love this photo so much.

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photo by Alyssa Leicht / alyssaleicht.com

4. If you are an online shopper and you are not using ebates, please start immediately. I bought a dresser and a few other things and literally just push “shop target (or wherever)” and it redirects to the shopping cart and you get a percentage of your purchase $$ back. Free Cashola. Boom.

5. The week wrapped up with the Viva East Bank! team being awarded a Better Together award. A couple community partners nominated us and from a very competitive pool of other projects/programs, we were selected. It’s moments like this that really remind me that we are doing good work. It is slooooow moving and I would love to have five more people helping to make even more meaningful connections, but this Thursday afternoon, we celebrated a moment of progress. And that’s important, isn’t it? To step back and say “good job team” rather than “why aren’t you doing this?” or “why isn’t this a priority?” So (insert deep sigh), we are doing great.🙂 And I am thankful.

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