Reflecting on 2019 and Welcoming in the New Year

As the hustle and stress of the holidays die down, and the New Year is fast approaching, we settle into a period of transition and reflection. This time is one of my favorites in the year, because it provides a chance for reflection on where I have been and on where I am going. It isn’t that these moments of reflection are absent from the rest of the year. In fact, I believe it is important to check in on your goals often and tweak them as needed. However, this time does provide an excellent opportunity to do these things on a larger scale. It reminds me of preparing for a new school year as a child. That time of year marked a time for new beginnings for both myself and everyone around me. It made it easy to check in with myself about my goals for the new school year, and my life as a whole, because it was encouraged (both implicitly and explicitly) by those around me. New Years really is the adult version of back to school. From resolutions, to the start of a new calendar year, we are socially encouraged towards reflection, renewal, and preparation.

| Washington Park – December 2019 |

My 2019 was so good in so many ways. This is not to say it was without its challenges and heartbreaks, but when I reflect back, my feelings toward the year are overwhelmingly positive. Some of the highlights of my year included getting married, moving to Colorado, lots of travel, and, most importantly, sticking to my goals that I made for myself at the beginning of the year. More on that later. While there were countless beautiful and happy moments this year, there were also some real lows. I started off the year injured, I moved far away from people who I love very dearly, my Nanna died, I was fired from my job, I experienced financial difficulties and struggled with my mental health. Through it all, however, I was thankful and proud, because I had so many more tools to deal with the challenges I was facing and felt much more stable than I would have felt in the past.

| January 4, 2019 |

The reason for this improvement really came down to the changes I have made over the past year. I started off 2019 recovering from an injury and feeling very unhappy with my health. I was living a sedentary lifestyle and struggled with my mental health and disordered eating. I would often binge on food and, while it was mostly healthy foods, my relationship with food was not good. I didn’t feel comfortable in my body and I wanted a change. Around February, I made a commitment to change my lifestyle. I had tried to do so in the past, but had never stuck with it. I didn’t totally trust myself to stick with it this time either. I really wanted it and surprised myself when I stuck to my goals for the whole year.

This might seem like a change in only one area of my life, but it changed everything. It made me believe in myself and in my ability to keep a promise to myself. It gave me confidence and improved my mental health and self-control. The physical benefits were amazing. I had more endurance, more energy, and a better relationship with food. My swelling and ankle pain went away. I became more agile and hurt myself less often because I was able to catch myself. I felt so much better in my skin. It really radiated into every other aspect of my life. I have never been more proud of myself or more grateful.

I really want to bring this forward momentum and positive energy into 2020. While I don’t totally believe in resolutions, I do think it is important to set intentions and a theme for each year. My theme for 2019 was “Confidence, Responsibility, Wellness, and Positivity“. This year, I want to continue to focus on my health but, even more-so, I want to focus on experiences and personal development.

My theme for 2020 is “Creativity, Exploration, and Growth“.

In 2020 I will spend time exploring Colorado and anywhere else I get the opportunity to travel to. I will prioritize new experiences like snowboarding, hiking the Manitou Incline, and hiking my first 14er to name a few. I plan to explore more creative outlets and spend more time on artistic endeavors. I want to try lots of new activities and discover more things that spark joy for me. This will not only help me in my personal development, but will make for an enjoyable year! I also hope to achieve growth in other areas of my life. I intend to focus on growth in areas of fitness and finances.

I have been so blessed this year. In many ways 2019 will be hard to beat, but I am optimistic that 2020 will bring its share of beauty, love, joy, and happiness. I hope you all had a fantastic year and, either way, I hope 2020 treats you kindly. Be safe and have fun tonight. I’m headed off to my last workout of 2019 which will be followed with dinner and drinks at home to usher in the new decade!! Happy New Year!

Oahu Adventure

My husband and I boarded a plane on a chilly October morning. It was the day after the first snowfall of the season and we were happy to be headed off to a much warmer destination. My in-laws take frequent trips to Hawaii and, every couple of years, we join them. This year we decided to fly out a day early to spend some time enjoying the island, just the two of us.

We stayed in a little yurt on the North Shore near Haleiwa. Andrew bemoaned the outhouse-style toilet and lack of air conditioning….wimp! I, on the other hand, was obsessed! From the outdoor shower under the mango tree, to the birdsong all around us, it felt like our own little slice of paradise and was a dream come true. This AirBnb had all the thoughtful touches, romance, nature, and beauty that one would hope to find in a tropical getaway and I can not recommend it enough!

The next morning we woke up before the sun and went on the hunt for coffee and good food. We happened to find both at Kono’s Northshore. After eating our breakfast burritos at the cafe-style tables outside the restaurant, we took our coffee to go. We drove over Rainbow Bridge and found a little stone wall nearby where we sat, drank our coffee, and soaked in the cool, early-morning sunshine. After finishing our coffee, we got back in the car and decided to explore the rest of the North Shore. While driving, somewhat aimlessly, we stumbled upon Ka’ena Point State Park.

We raced down to the beach, both eager to plunge our feet into the waves. While there are many wonderful features of Colorado, the ocean is not among them. As Pacific Northwest natives, and having grown up on Vashon Island myself, we both had been craving the feeling of sand and surf between our toes. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the beach and reveling in the relaxation and romance of Hawaii.

Frolicking on Oahu’s North Shore

The next day was Andrew’s 26th birthday. It feels like the years have just been flying lately and it was nice to be able to take a step back and reflect on the past year of his life, over Mai Tais at the beachside bar. As I have mentioned in the past, I am all about intentional living. A big area of growth in my journey to more a conscious life, has been learning to take the time to notice and appreciate the now. It is so easy to get bogged down in an unending list of to-do’s and upcoming moments, and completely miss the unique sweetness of the moment we are in. There is nothing quite like a celebrating a birthday in Hawaii, and this was not lost on either of us. There was much gratitude felt in those moments of reflection. We watched football, went out to dinner with his family, and spent some quality time soaking in the sweetness and beauty of another year of life and growth.

The first few days of vacation were pretty low-key, but that did not last for long! We were lucky enough to enjoy a multitude of activities. One of the biggest highlights for me was snorkeling on a catamaran cruise surrounded by the coral reef fish. I also went parasailing with Andrew and my mother in law, kayaking with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, hiked Diamond Head and even went on a ghost tour! All these activities made the rest of the vacation fly by.

Views From Diamond Head Hike

Leaving Hawaii never gets any easier. I do , however, always leave feeling refreshed, ready to get back into my routine and full of happy memories made with some of the people I love most in this world. I am so thankful to be able to spend time with Andrew and his family in such a beautiful place. I look forward to the times that I will spend on the beautiful islands of Hawaii in the future. In the meantime, I intend to treasure all the memories I will make between now and then. Aloha and mahalo, Oahu!

Hawaii October 2019

Sustainable Fall Lookbook

Fall is a favorite time of year for many. From apple cider donuts to pumpkin pie, from crisp leaves to cosy campfires, there is just so much to love about this season. The heat of summer has given way to cool crisp weather and, with that change, comes an almost unavoidable urge to refresh ones’ fall wardrobe. In past years, I would shop at a variety of fast fashion stores to get some cheap and trendy items to add to my closet. This year however, I learned about the harm that the fast fashion industry does to our planet and to other humans in less fortunate circumstances than I. What once seemed a harmless, other than to my wallet, activity now seemed wildly irresponsible and selfish. What is a fall-fashion-loving girl to do?!

After some research, I decided the most ethical thing to do would be to shop my own closet and thrift for any supplemental pieces I might need. I grew up thrifting out of necessity and, as thrifting was not en vogue at the time, I struggled to find enjoyment in it. However, after visiting several thrift shops recently, I can say with certainty, that I now enjoy thrifting more than purchasing clothes new. Beyond simply being a sustainable option, it is also just a lot of fun! The prices are great and the pay-off of finding a gorgeous jacket for $3.99 can not be overstated. It feels like a bit of a treasure hunt. I love that you can find quality clothes at a lower price than you would find at a fast fashion retailer, that would barely hold up for a season.

The following outfits were made from items that I already had in my closet and include at least one thrifted item each. Discovering new ways to use my clothing was such a fun activity and I learned a lot along the way! I have included a tip for shopping your own closet or thrifting pieces under each photo. I hope this post will inspire you to do the same while refreshing your fall wardrobe.

| Thrifted Jacket |

This outfit is a good example of how to stretch the use of summer clothes into cooler weather. Pair a sundress with a warm jacket, over-the-knee socks and a chunky boot and you have the perfect outfit for a sunny fall date at the apple orchard!

| Thrifted Scarf |

Accessories make all the difference! They can elevate a plain sweater dress like this one, into a colorful outfit, full of interest. Some of my favorite accessories have been found at thrift stores. I find that many people do not even think about looking through the accessories. I would recommend taking a moment to peruse end caps and display cases near the front of the store as this is where many thrift stores keep their scarves, jewelry, belts, hats, and bags.

| Thrifted Pants | Thrifted Sweater |

Thrift shop regularly and often. You should not shop at thrift shops in the same way you would at a regular store. The goal should not be to find all the items you are looking for at once. Since the items in thrift shops are constantly changing, it is better to check in often and purchase one or two pieces than to try to shop for everything at once. Instead of shopping only for the season you are in, take the time to check the other racks as well. You might find a perfect summer dress in the middle of winter.

| Thrifted Pants |

Look for items that go well with things you already own. It is helpful to have a good idea of what you already have in your closet and an awareness of what gaps exist in what you own. I love an amazing jacket or interesting top and, as a result, I have noticed that I struggle to find the perfect bottoms to pair with my tops and jackets. Lately, I have been on the lookout for pants to help round out my wardrobe. These flared culottes were an amazing option as they can be styled for day wear or a night out!

| Thrifted Flannel | Thrifted Sweater |

Always check the men’s section to find flannels, fleeces, sweaters, and brand-name outdoor items. For some reason, I always seem to find better options for these things in the mens section than I do in the women’s section. This gorgeous, thermal-lined flannel is a good example of a men’s section find.

| Thrifted Sweater | Thrifted Jacket |

Restyle your favorite pieces in a variety of ways. As you may have noticed, I have used both the jacket, the sweater, and the belt in a variety of ways in several different outfits. Play around with what you already, have and you may find that you have a lot more outfit options than you might initially think. Happy shopping and, above all, happy fall y’all!

A Legacy Worth Living

My Nana passed away this month, after a long fought battle with Alzheimer’s. She was an incredible woman and she accomplished so much over her lifetime. She was a nurse, a mother of six, owned her own successful health club, and even went back to school and became a lawyer in her 50’s. Her passing has been incredibly painful but also, in many ways, has ignited within me a new passion for living. You see, my Nana lived her life in a way that exuded a zest for life. She was always dancing, singing, smiling, and loving on those around her. In fact, she was sometimes referred to as “The Dancing Queen” after the Abba song from one of her favorite movies, Mamma Mia. She took advantage of everything life had to offer.

My Nana at a party for her Health Club

Reflecting on her legacy made me consider how I wanted to be remembered. It made me question what type of life I want to live for myself. In my case, I do not believe that our consciousness continues on in another place after we die. I do not believe in god, heaven or hell. For this reason, life and death have a different meaning and focus for me than they might for others. Since I believe that this life is all we are given, I want to take advantage of what this life has to offer and I want to live in a way that brings fulfillment and happiness. I want to have a vast variety of experiences woven in, to enrich the fabric of my life as a whole. I want to make the lives of those around me better. I want to love and be loved.

I firmly believe that in order to achieve the goals i have set for my life, it is essential to live intentionally. Living intentionally can be summarized as being thoughtful about the choices you make in life in order to have more satisfaction and fewer regrets. There are many ways to achieve a more intentional and fulfilling life, but here are a few tips that I feel are helpful.

First and foremost on this list is to say yes to new experiences. Trying new things is critical to finding new passions. Saying yes to going on that hike with your friends at 6 am may not feel like something you want to do initially but, even if that experience itself does not become a new passion for you, it may introduce you to something that does. Even if you do not do that new thing again, you will have accomplished something that you might never have done otherwise. In my experience, searching out experiences and saying yes to new opportunities is the most surefire way to jumpstart a passion for life.

My second piece of advice would be to think long and hard about priorities. Once you are able to identify what is important to you, you can begin to live in a way that reflects these values. It is difficult to live intentionally without taking into consideration what you would like your life to look like. Living without direction or intention makes it easy to float through life and end up in a place that is not your ideal. You do not want to look back and wish you had taken more advantage of the time you were given. Identifying and working to live in a way that reflects your priorities and values is a wonderful way to bring more fulfillment into your life.

My final piece of advice is to find joy and/or enrichment in as many places as your can. Not everything in life can be enjoyable, but there is an opportunity for learning and growth to be found in nearly every experience. Do your best to find the joy in every place that you can, but if you can’t find joy in a circumstance, try to find the lesson instead. You may not always succeed, but the process of looking for enrichment will serve you in developing the skill of intentional living.

I am so thankful to my Nana for all the ways in which she has touched my life. I am, however, particularly grateful for the final gift she has given me. I can forever hold her memory in my heart and learn from her wonderful example of a life lived with passion, exuberance, resilience, kindness, fun, and love. It is a beautiful thing to be able to positively impact the lives of those you cross paths with over the course of your lifespan. My Nana’s legacy will continue to shine through the lives of those who knew her and loved her. For my part, I will continue to live my life to the fullest, just like she taught me.

Let’s Talk Self Love and Weight Loss: My Take, My Journey

Weight is such a sensitive topic for so many people. There has become, especially on social media, a pressure to express and feel love for ones body at every stage. While that is something to strive for, sometimes this pressure makes it difficult to share the moments when you might not be feeling comfortable in your skin. It makes it even harder to share that you want to get healthier. This is especially true when becoming healthier, for you, is connected to weight loss.

Weight wasn’t always a loaded topic for me. I don’t remember thinking much about my weight as a child. I was on the skinny side of average during my childhood and early-adolescence. It was not until my body began to develop that I remember having that first nagging realization that my body was “bigger”. I was developing faster than the majority of my peers and, at 5’10”, was also taller than the majority of them. This did not yet translate to me feeling that I was overweight, but I do feel that this was the beginning of worrying about the amount of space my body occupied in the world.

Weight became more of a concern when I was a sophomore in high school. My best friend and I were the same height and while I was still at a healthy weight she was absolutely tiny. I would often stay at her house and borrow her clothes and I began to notice that her things didn’t fit me well or were not as flattering on my figure as they were on hers. Around this time I also became more aware and more interested in the world of modeling. Keep in mind that we are talking about modeling as it was in 2012. I also had a fascination with the Victoria’s Secret Angels. They became the ideal of beauty for me and something to strive for.

College was when my relationship with my body reached its lowest point. Gaining weight during college is absolutely normal and it is not uncommon to be warned against the “freshman 15” from well-meaning, but let’s be honest, unhelpful relatives and friends. I was no exception to this trend and a year after starting college I had gained around 15 pounds. The sedentary lifestyle, binge drinking, and unhealthy eating habits that are common from many college students were taking their toll. Additionally, I had a fairly acute case of depression and anxiety at the time. After a hard breakup, I completely lost my will to do anything other than party, watch Netflix in bed, and eat as much food as possible to fill the void in my life.

Over the course of my college career, I made many unhealthy choices and did not take care of myself at all. I gained around 50 pounds total in those 4 years. I share these numbers to give you a reference point of where things stood physically. This does not, however, give you the full picture. It is one thing to carry around 20 extra pounds and live a healthy lifestyle. That is my current reality and I no longer have the self-hatred toward my body and myself that I did at that time. The main issue for me was not the weight. The weight was simply the physical manifestation of the mental and emotional place in which I was existing. I was treating myself like an afterthought because at the time I did not care about myself. I was not a priority.

I did not feel good. I was tired often, got out of breath easily, and felt uncoordinated and unmotivated. I tried on several occasions to lose weight as a result of self-loathing . I hoped that if I looked closer to a beauty ideal and became more accepted by society, that I might finally be able to accept and love myself. I was deeply insecure. I am here to tell you that the worst possible motivation you can have when it comes to altering your body, in any way, is hatred. When the number on the scale and/or a certain aesthetic is the goal, it is easy to lose sight of yourself along the way. It is the perfect way to increase self-hatred and even to increase the potential to harm your body.

The shifting factor for me, from hatred to love and care, was an injury. I was drinking and stepped off a curb and tore ligaments in my ankle. In all likelihood, I had injured myself so severely in the first place, because I was sedentary and the muscles around my ankles weren’t strong enough to protect and stabilize me. I realized that my choices were actively hurting me. I knew I wanted to love myself, and often rationalized the lifestyle I was living as “self-care”. My injury made me question: how could choices that ultimately hurt me be self care? This prompted the desire to make a change. As I began to heal, I began to focus on more active movement. I also discovered a love for spin classes and hiking. As I found joy in movement and my growing strength and coordination, I also found a love and gratitude for my body and all that it was capable of. The thing is, it had been capable of this all along. I had simply not given it a chance to thrive up until then. I had not loved myself or my body enough to care for it.

Yes, I lost weight and I am still losing weight. This time however, my motivations were different. My actions have been very different too. I am showering my body with love. I move my body daily, in ways I enjoy and that are good for me. This includes weight training for my muscles, spin class, dancing, and hiking for my cardiovascular health, and yoga and stretching for my flexibility and injury prevention. I eat a healthy balanced diet. I track my calories and am maintaining a small calorie deficit. Some days, my body tells me I need more food, I listen to that. I try to approach my relationship with my body from a place of gratitude and care. I want to do kind things for my body. Things that makes it healthier and, in return, my body cares for me better too. My anxiety and depression are much better and I feel healthier and happier and so much more confident.

Anyone who has lost weight and shared this change with others, can probably tell you that many people have a hard time understanding how weight loss can come from a place of self love. If you truly love something why would you change it? My answer is this, if you truly love something, you care for it. You do things that benefit it. This goes both ways. There are plenty of times gaining weight is an act of self-love and losing weight is an act of self-hatred. It is good and possible to love your body when you are overweight. It is also good and possible to love your body when you are losing weight. Losing weight is not inherently self-hated, nor is gaining weight inherently self-love. It is all about attitude, the reasons behind the way you live your life, and the way in which changes are made.

The Telluride Film Festival and An Introduction to the San Juan Mountain Range

I had the opportunity over labor day weekend to volunteer at the Telluride Film Festival. My friend from college reached out to me when she saw that I had moved to Colorado and invited me to join her. Her mother lives in Telluride and, while she had visited Telluride before, she had never volunteered at the TFF before. I had been dying to explore the mountains already, and so, I jumped at the opportunity.

Telluride, CO

My friend Rachel flew into Denver, I picked her up from the airport and then we were off! It was so surprising to me how quickly the bustling city and suburbs of Denver turn into little mountain towns. The scenery along the 7 hour drive was nothing short of glorious. The interstate is bordered on either side with mountains, lakes, rivers, stately rock formations, and all sorts of foliage and wild flowers that I had never seen before.

Scenery Along I-70 Heading to Telluride

Telluride is a small town nestled in the beautiful and rugged San Juan Mountain range. The TFF has been going on for 46 years. This festival is special because it draws in premieres of big movies and is attended by stars the likes of Adam Sandler, Emma Stone, Christian Bale, Adam Driver, and Angelina Jolie, as well as many others. Despite this fact, the vibe is very relaxed and stars enter the theaters and sit and watch the films with everyone else. The fun and excitement of the film festival is paired beautifully with the scenic, small town atmosphere. It is truly an almost surreal experience and unlike anything I have ever encountered before.

Telluride, CO

Volunteering was itself such a unique and enjoyable opportunity. I saw some amazing films without paying the large price tag for a festival pass. The days were long and busy but the work was enjoyable and fairly easy. I met some truly fantastic people and the staff party on the last evening of the festival was one of the best nights of my life. I would highly recommend volunteering at this festival to anyone. It is an unforgettable experience I will look back fondly on for the rest of my life.

View Looking Down Colorado Avenue in Telluride

After spending 5 days in Telluride we began our drive back to Denver. We decided to stop about half way and stay in Crested Butte. Crested Butte is another small mountain ski town but felt very different from Telluride or Vail. It was much more laid back and down to earth. I plan to bring my husband back for our anniversary because I fell in love with it after only 24 hours.

Downtown Crested Butte
Mount Crested Butte – Elevation Hotel and Spa

I feel that this trip was such a good one to do right after moving to Colorado. It was a wonderful introduction to the mountains and I was able to visit some of the towns on my bucket list along the way! I was already in love with my new home, but after that trip I am officially head over heels. I can not wait to explore this beautiful state more in the future. It is truly a wonderful thing to love where you live!

Coming home to a place I’d never been before

Wow, Colorado has already been more than I could have ever anticipated or hoped for. We have been living here for two months now and it already feels so much like home. I have had so many wonderful opportunities to soak up all the natural beauty and wonder that this state has to offer. The mountains are a home like I have never know. I did not realize how much I missed the mountains while living in Pennsylvania. There is a special kind of magic about looking out your window every morning and seeing them loom on the horizon. Even flying in and out of Denver is a visual delight. The mountains seem much more vast when looking down on them from above.

I had been dying to actually go up into the mountains since I first saw them. I finally got the opportunity to explore them over Labor Day weekend (plus a few days). Over the course of the trip, I went to Vail, Telluride, and Crested Butte and drove through a good portion of the state along the way. I will be writing a more in-depth account of that trip in an upcoming post. I can’t wait to enjoy more Colorado trips in the future. My goal is to do a lot of camping next summer. In the meantime, I am enjoying many local day hikes.

There is something so exciting about exploring a new area and finding all your new favorites. I have fallen in love with so many things, besides the views, about Colorado. I absolutely love the people and I have already met some new friends who have similar interests. The lifestyle in Colorado reminds me, in many ways, of the Pacific Northwest way of living. The great outdoors is valued here, as is an intentional lifestyle and an adventurous spirit. There are an incredible number of things to do and experiences to have. Craft beer, Patagonia, and Subaru Outbacks are everywhere. I also am enjoying the proximity to Seattle. The flights home are SO much cheaper and shorter than when we lived on the East Coast! I’m getting home a lot more, and it’s even close enough to go home over a weekend.

I could never have anticipated that we would end up here or that I would love it so much. I feel so much joy and gratitude that life has brought us here. My feelings about our new home are best summed up with these lyrics

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

-Rocky Mountain High by John Denver