Sunday, April 23, 2017

I'm Not A Blonde Anymore

Driving home from dinner with my mentor and the thing that stands out the most to me is the fact that we didn't talk about my hair...and thank GOD.

You see, I stopped dying my hair blonde about a year and a half ago...it's been slowly growing out into an ombré style and not only do I really like it, but it feels like ME. I had been dying my hair for over 15 years and I had no idea what my natural color was anymore. I figured since the ombré look was in, this was my shot at growing it out...plus, it just fit into this more natural, less chemical lifestyle that I wanted to live.

Fast forward to the present when I cut my hair. I cut off all of the blonde leaving me with a long, brown bob (my hair stylist calls this a 'lob'). Up until this point, no one really noticed my darker hair. But like the switch of a light, it's as though everyone had an opinion and they weren't afraid to share:

"I liked you better as a blonde." 
"You were prettier as a blonde."
And the one that stopped me dead in my tracks: "You used to look so young and full of life. Why did you stop dying your hair?"

And these comments were made TO MY FACE. Maybe I should be happy that I've fostered an environment where people feel so comfortable to tell me what they think? or I should be happy that people even care about my hair? But, let's be honest - after a while, these comments started to get to me. It hurt my feelings. How could you like me better? I'm the exact same person! Granted, there were a lot of positive comments too, but somehow it's the negative voice that always speaks louder...know what I mean?

Let's get back to dinner with my mentor...I can't tell you how lovely it was to catch up and talk about what I was doing, what I was creating, and what the next couple of months will look like for me. It wasn't superficial or surface conversation...it was nitty gritty. It was about goals and dreams...stuff that MATTERS. Stuff that makes me feel ALIVE. It wasn't about my hair or the way I looked and I found it so refreshing. So refreshing that it was one of my biggest take-a-ways. I want to have more of these conversations!

One of my words for 2017 is "authenticity" and for me, part of getting closer to my authentic self means not covering myself up. For now, this also includes dying my hair. The surprising plot twist is that while I get comfortable with my authentic self...I'll also be getting comfortable with the opinions of others. You know, in a world that can be quick to condemn, criticize, and overreact - I want to be the one who is quick to be kind. And in being kind, I hope this helps others to be their authentic selves with me.




Sunday, April 9, 2017

Today

Today I refused to pull out my cell phone. Today I was at the deli waiting for my number...number 98...to be called and I refused to take out my cell phone and idly scroll through Facebook or Instagram to fill the empty space. It was painful. Well, not really. But, I had to really CHOOSE to stand there and just be. To be present. To make eye contact. To offer a smile to not only the people passing by, but to the people behind the counter that were overwhelmed with the task at hand. And do you know what happened? I met an 89 year old Navy veteran who played polo as a 20-something. He grew up in rural Illinois - where the horses out populated the people. "You had to own five horses if you even wanted to compete in polo." He said. His hat showed me that he was a WWII survivor and his spirit showed me so much more.

We find ourselves in the midst of hundreds of people on a daily basis...but we refuse to connect. We choose to stare at our phones and purposefully ignore others. Why? Is it because of an inability to converse? Is it a choice we make or is it just automatic? I'm not sure, but I do know that my interaction with this man was exactly what my soul needed. Connection. Eye contact. Conversation. It was all of maybe four minutes, but those four minutes made me walk out a little lighter and I carried it with me throughout the day...I can only hope that it did the same for him.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Year (kinda). New You? It's not too late!

This is a screen shot from my headspace app. One of my goals, or dare I say 'New Years Resolutions,' for 2017 is to be more present. This can be a bit ambiguous - as it's hard to measure, so I felt that a daily mediation practice would get me where I wanted to go (or at least help). 20 minutes a day...most days of the week. I could do this.

Let me back up...I am very goal-oriented and self driven (most of the time!) I typically start thinking about my goals (resolutions) for the year to come around October/November. I like to put my plan into action by December, so that in mid-January, when I'm most likely to fall off the band wagon, I am well on my way to a solid routine. This might not work for everyone, but it works for me...I think mostly because it doesn't have the 'New Years Resolution' stigma since I begin well before the shiny ball drops at midnight.

When I was looking at my stats (pictured above) I was blown away that I have already spent 24 collective hours meditating! That is an entire day - how cool?! Step-by-step, little-by-little, I'm getting it done. And I must say that now that I've started, it's hard to picture my life without it. Meditation for me has been a saving grace...but more on that in a later post.

So, where are you? Did you already fall off the bandwagon? Did you not even set new goals because you knew you wouldn't be able to follow through? Well, a wise person once told me that you can choose to start over at any moment - even if it's in the middle of the day. You don't have to wait until a Monday or even a new day or the start of a new month. You can start right now. Whatever you want to change in your life - you are full of the unlimited potential to make it possible!

If you do one thing this week, check out this podcast from John O'Leary. I promise you won't be disappointed and it will give you the tools and inspiration to start your journey. Yes, February is coming to a close and March is right around the corner, but there is no better time to hit the restart button than now.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Living Intentionally

Are you living intentionally?

How often do we find ourselves just skating through life...allowing life to simply happen. We just exist or survive with no real direction or purpose.

What would you be doing if you knew you couldn't fail? What are your goals, dreams, and aspirations? What do you need to do TODAY to get to where you want to be tomorrow?

Dictionary.com defines 'intentional' as something being done with intention or on purpose. I challenge you to start living on purpose right now. Make every moment and action count.

If you're unsure of where to begin or have no idea what to do - start by taking steps to becoming a better you - maybe it's reading a self help book, speaking to a therapist, exploring different creative outlets (writing, painting, playing an instrument, etc.). Make a difference in your community - contribute, volunteer, be useful! Instead of settling in and getting comfortable, do things that challenge and push and make you feel vulnerable. Allow yourself the room and experiences to grow and become a better YOU. Find out what sets your soul on fire and chase it with wild abandon!

I challenge you to start living intentionally.

"The purpose of life is to find your gift. Then once you've found it - give it away." - Unknown

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lessons on Life From Running...and Loss

My ‘running career’ began in high school at the age of 17 when I joined the cross country team. My reasons for joining were two-fold. At the time, I could barely make it around the 1/4-mile track without being completely winded and stopping to rest. I thought if I joined the cross country team and competed in the 5k races, then I would be able to conquer anything! Also, I had just gone through a breakup with my high school sweetheart and needed something to occupy both my time and the space in my mind. 

From the start, I had a love-hate relationship with running. I showed up, I trained, and I’d like to say that I conquered, but that’s not even close to the truth - it wasn’t pretty, but let’s just say that I finished and yes, at the end of that semester I did feel like I could accomplish anything.

It wasn’t until 12 years later that I would decide to lace up my running shoes again. Feeling restless as an almost-30 year old. I wanted that feeling of doing something for the first time again…something that was challenging and that I had to work on…something that was hard for me and that would push me out of my comfort zone. I set a goal of running my first half-marathon. 

Like any good wanna-be-runner, I found a race that sounded fun - I settled on Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon - because if anything was going to get me to run 13.1 miles - it would be a glass of wine at the finish line. Plus, I cleverly coerced one of my best friends to sign up too. It would be fun I said!

I quickly found that the love-hate relationship with running still existed deep within me as I began my weekly training. I do believe the only thing that got me out on the pavement was the thought of not being able to complete the 13.1 distance on the day of the race. And how embarrassing would that be?! I’d check in with my friend monthly and found myself relieved to hear we were ‘on the same pace’ in our training - meaning we were running maybe twice a week and getting those long runs in when life didn’t get in the way. 

As the days started to get shorter, I brought my training inside to the treadmill. What I liked most about this, was that my mom would join me after work and walk on the treadmill beside me - usually reading a book or catching up on her entertainment television. Mom’s weekly encouragement and pride in me was just the boost I needed to really buckle down and slide into that home stretch of training. I think she enjoyed our weekly workouts just as much as I did and even signed up for her first 5K!

Me & Mom at her first 5K race!
On September 28, 2014 - six weeks before the big race - my mom died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The weeks that followed are still a blur. The thought of running without her by my side took my breath away and left me curled up in a ball. I didn’t think I could continue training and go through with the race…my friend understood and said that the decision was mine to make - she would support me either way. The days drudged on and four weeks before the race, I woke up from the haze. Maybe I SHOULD put my running shoes back on…maybe running will fill the time and the space in my head just like it did so many years ago…

"It is not so much that I began to run, but that I continued." - Hal Higdon


I didn’t feel completely ready, but on November 8, 2014 I completed my first half marathon with one of my best friends at my side. There’s no doubt that Mom carried me through - especially those last two miles when so many emotions were running through me that all I could do was cry. The best part for me was that for the first time I experienced that ‘euphoria’ or ‘runners high’ that everyone talks about. I had it! and it was amazing! Crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with one of my best friends and accomplishing that goal was like nothing I can describe. Not only did it push me out of my comfort zone physically, but the emotional battle I went through with the loss of my mother and the uncertainty of how life could go on for me was incredible. In that moment I was so glad that I didn’t give up and I knew that my mom was too. Life does go on and it’s up to you to show up and make it worth it. I don’t just live for myself now, but for mom too. 

Me and Amanda












Friday, April 29, 2016

PERMA-GRIN Part II


Wow! I haven't posted in almost two years (and to the date at that)! I didn't mean to take a hiatus, at least not consciously. Let's see if I remember how to do this...

To follow up on my last blog post, which feels like it were both yesterday AND ages ago, here are the details of the couples shower I threw for my brother and (now) sister-in-law :

I hosted it at an adorable family-owned winery called  The Corkscrew Winery in Ocala, FL. I gathered the bridesmaids together about two months before the shower date for a fun Friday night of wine-making. This also gave us a fun opportunity to meet and get-to-know each other.



The experience itself was like none other - the owner taught us about the grapes, helped us determine what kind of flavors to add, and we even got to mix the ingredients together ourselves!



 While our wine fermented, we had the chance to make our own label - luckily, my step brother is good at this kind of thing. This was his design:


Two months later at the couples shower (which was also hosted at Corkscrew), each guest got to bottle, cork, and label a bottle of wine from the vat we created! It was a fun 'party-favor' and it made for a unique experience. I know I may be biased, but it was one of the most fun bridal showers I've ever been to.




We had a few extra bottles left over - one of which I added sulfates to (this keeps wines from going bad and allows the wine to 'get better' with age) and gave it to my brother & sister-in-law on their one year anniversary. The rest we drank the weekend of the wedding of course. Cheers!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

PERMA-GRIN Part I

So, it has taken me almost three days to recover from this past weekend...and I say 'almost' because being fully recovered is still debatable. You know when Monday rolls around and you still have a silly smile on your face because you can't help but keep re-living all of the fun moments from the past couple of days? That's been me...I like to call it my perma-grin (insert emoticon here).

Friday kicked off with an unexpected trip to the hospital...for a happy reason! My long time friend had her first child! She welcomed her beautiful baby girl to this world on Thursday morning and I couldn't get down to the hospital fast enough for some newborn snuggles and to check on the new Rockstar Mom.

I rushed home from the hospital to get ready for a crazy Friday night...two of my college friends were driving up from Orlando so that we could see Vanilla Ice in my hometown's annual BikeFest. Yes, I said Vanilla Ice- as in Rob VanWinkle...Ice Ice Baby. You might be rolling your eyes, because I did too at first...and then the twelve-year-old girl inside of me couldn't stop doing cartwheels and I knew at that point there was no turning back.
Front & center, baby!
Vanilla Ice's Twitter picture and if you look closely...
That's Me!!!
It must have been a combination of the company, belting out songs from my childhood, and the amazing VIP access...but this was one of my favorite nights of all time. Epic. Please don't judge me. Please.

Saturday morning I woke up entirely way too early but I couldn't contain my excitement for the festivities about to ensue. Today was the day that I've been planning for the past three months: Rob & Melissa's Couple Shower! I hosted it at The Corkscrew Winery in Ocala, Florida. It was recommended from a client of mine and when I went to check it out- I knew it would be the perfect venue and atmosphere for the shower I had in mind for my brother and his fiancé. 

To be continued...