30 Lessons I’m Grateful I Learned by Age 30

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OK, IMMEDIATE CONFESSION: I’M ACTUALLY 31. BUT THESE ARE THE LESSONS THAT MOST INFORMED MY FIRST 30 YEARS {AND CONTINUE TO GUIDE ME TODAY}.
YOU MAY SEE A THEME SURROUNDING SELF LOVE. THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S THEMAGIC THAT MAKES EVERYTHING ELSE WORK.
I’VE ALSO LEARNED ABOUT MY NATURE AS A SPIRITUAL BEING, TWO WORDS THAT DIDN’T MEAN ANYTHING TO ME LESS THAN SEVEN YEARS AGO. BUT I WAS ALSO A RAGING ALCOHOLIC THEN. LUCKILY, OUR EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR LEVEL OF AWARENESS + THE INNER WORKWE DO.
GETTING SOBER WAS JUST THE BEGINNING. MY LIFE REALLY BEGAN TO CHANGE WHEN I CAME TO SEE MYSELF AS A POWERFUL CO-CREATOR; NOT A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE OR EVEN MY OWN SELF-SABOTAGE BUT THE CHIEF MOLDER OF MY WORLD. I CAME TO UNDERSTAND HOW MY BELIEFS WERE CONTRIBUTING TO MY DAILY REALITY, MY DAILY MISERY. MORE IMPORTANT, I BEGAN TO GET COZY WITH THE FEELINGS UNDERLYING THOSE BELIEFS.

I’m not smart enough, capable enough, pretty enough… fill in the blank.

It’s not safe to feel this way. I’m not allowed to hurt.

I don’t deserve to be heard. I’m not worthy of healthy relationships. 

I GUESS THAT’S WHY I CONTINUE TO EXAMINE MY THINKING TODAY + MAKE LISTS LIKE THIS. IT’S BOTH A PROCESS OF INFLUENCING CHANGE AND UNDERSTAND WHERE I’M AT, BECAUSE I KNOW BETTER THAN MOST: THE JOURNEY FROM HEAD TO HEART CAN BE A TREACHEROUS ONE.
SO DARLINGS, MAKE YOUR OWN LIST, LEARN FROM MINE AND DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP IF IT TAKES SOME TIME BETWEEN KNOWING WHAT NEEDS DOING AND HAVING THE STRENGTH TO DO IT. THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS ON THE ROAD TO SELF LOVE. YOU’VE GOTTA DO THE BEAUTIFUL MESSY WORK.
AND IF WE CAN LEARN A BIT FROM ONE ANOTHER ALONG THE WAY, WELL, THAT’S THE MAKINGS OF REAL WISDOM.
  1. Heartbreak happens to break us wide open and allow more love into our lives, namely our own.

  2. Addiction arises out of an inability to safely feel and express our emotions. Sobriety requires us, above all, that we begin to listen to, trust and ultimately, love ourselves.

  3. If we’re disconnected from ourselves, we will be disconnected from our environment too. But return to nature and you begin to get back to yourself.

  4. It’s only in exploring our shadows that we begin to see our ineffable light.

  5. Comparing yourself to others and seeking approval outside one’s self is not only pointless; it can be terribly depressing.

  6. Happiness is hard work and it happens outside our comfort zone.

  7. There are no accidents and no experience is wasted. Not one.

  8. We are all infinitely powerful creators and it’s only our limited beliefs that hold us back.

  9. A safe, loving and supportive community is crucial to our long-term well-being.

  10. There’s nothing to get about GOD and no right way to pray.

  11. Our heart-centered presence is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those we love.

  12. Pain is the most poignant teacher, so long as we’re open to the lesson.

  13. There’s no such thing as perfect and we have only our own standards to meet.

  14. You can’t eat crap food and feel good.

  15. Getting up early is overrated. Savor every moment of rest you can, while you can!

  16. The ability to laugh at yourself will save your ass on numerous occasions.

  17. Real love— the messy, vulnerable, honest, complicated variety— requireswe get intimate with and love ourselves first.

  18. Praying for patience only brings endless irritation. Proceed with caution.

  19. Sometimes the best thing we can do is absolutely nothing.

  20. Gratitude is the greatest reset.

  21. Meditation is not just about sitting crossed leg with our eyes shut. It’s any activity we wholeheartedly commit to with complete presence andsingleness of focus.

  22. Religion does not denote spirituality just as a spiritual life doesn’t need to be lived under the guise of religion. Or even a god.

  23. Peace begins when we start listening to ourselves without judgment.

  24. It’s only when get in touch with our most tender selves that we can access the fullness of who we are, our precious divinity.

  25. You don’t have to do anything. You always, always have a choice and the right to change your mind.

  26. Travel is the best drug.

  27. Good sex is a close second.

  28. Mother earth is the ultimate healer.

  29. Free thinkers are infinitely more interesting to be around… not to mention sexy.

  30. Destruction is vital to the creative process. And it’s always hardest right before the breakthrough.

How to be Happy: The List Lover’s Guide

ferriswheelI’ve inherited several wonderful traits from my father. One of them, list-making, has become a lifesaver, especially when my mind goes into overdrive. As it often does. Lists slow me down. They take the crazy out of out my head and plant it onto paper. They help me sleep at night and start my day in the morning. When in doubt, I make it list.

So, in honor of my love of lists and my desire to keep shit exceedingly simple right now, I present you—the lazy girl’s guide to happiness.

More:

Meditation + stillness

Music that makes you feel groovy

Daily mantras and/or affirmations

Moving your bod

Reading

Quality sleep + productive rest

Smoothies + green juice

Water, H2O, and agua!

Cashews, avocados and walnuts {proven mood boosters}

Organic, plant based meals

Salt water therapy

Turmeric, aka, mind body gold

Impromptu roadtrips

Time with your toes in the sand + hands in soil

Prayer, in whatever way works for you

Sweating {I’ve  been known to possess a gym membership for the sauna alone}

Surrender

Dancing in your living room, for no reason whatsoever

Compliment + gift giving

Cuddles

Sensational sex

Service work

Less:

Mindless chatter

Complaining without action

Projecting outcomes and/or assuming the worst

Obsessing over shit you can’t change

Patience for people who disrespect you

Lying, especially to yourself

Fake food/chemicals of all kinds

Pretense + phoniness

Lashing out

Isolating

Holding onto anger

Soda + other sugary crap

Acting out of obligation

Comparing yourself/ garnering approval from strangers on the internet

Letting fear hold you hostage

Complacency and indifference, in all its sneaky forms

Crap television

Knit-picking + nagging

Waiting for the right time

Sacrificing joy for whatever you think you have to do

Wondering if you are beautiful/smart/talented/amazing enough… YOU ARE ♥

7 Lessons Death Has Taught Me About Life

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I’ve lost several loved ones in the last few years and each time it happens, it sends me spinning. I get angry and sad and struggle to make sense of a life with one less.

Eventually the searing pain dissipates and I’m left with the lessons, the ones death always leaves behind, if you’re looking. I carry them along with the memories and hope you will too.

  1. The time is now. For chasing dreams and anything else that sends your heart-a-flutter.

Nothing gifts you with a singing sense of urgency quite like an untimely death. And don’t all deaths feel untimely to some extent?

You always wonder what you might have done with one more day. Death, in all its unexpected terror, always serves as a powerful reminder that right now–this very second—it’s all we’re guaranteed. We might as well embrace this terrifying fact and get on with doing exactly what it is we want to do.

  1. Look to the love.

Allow yourself to receive love from those who are capable of giving it, instead of focusing on those who can’t love you the way you need.

It’s human nature to acknowledge what we don’t have. In fact, such admissions often serve as a powerful launching pad for change (and attracting what we do want), but it’s also vital to note the tremendous good in our lives, the stuff that’s already amazing.

Let us celebrate love where we find it and not pay so much attention to the rest.

  1. It’s better to regret doing than not doing.

This has long been a mantra of mine. It’s a potent reminder for those of us who sometimes let fear run the show: you only get this one precious chance.

Who cares if you fuck up or fall on your face or say all the wrong stuff? That’s all part of it, anyhow. You’re allowed to fail your way to success.

The point is, you’re trying and you’re not really living until you stop being too scared to try.

  1. Life’s not good or bad. It’s both beautiful and brutal. Terrifying and magical.

Death is no different except that it exemplifies life’s inherent duality with staggering accuracy. It brings all our neurosis and judgments to the forefront.

But what if we could create a new relationship with death? A slow embrace rather than a stifled scream or violent rejection.

It just might mean a new relationship with the living, breathing pain that persists.

  1. It goes by really freakin’ fast. Don’t spend your years miserable, complaining, or otherwise entrenched in negativity.

This one needs to be written on the mirror—it’s so easy to forget. The jackass that cuts you off in traffic, the client you can’t please, the fight with your mate that could have been avoided: we all fall victim to unnecessary drama.

But adopt a b.s.-free policy and you’ll find your emotional load lightened in no time.

Soon you won’t even waste your time on people, places, and things that are toxic to your sprit. And you won’t have to think twice about it, either.

  1. Attend to your spiritual life first and the rest will work itself out.

As someone who’s faced a spiritual crisis or two, I know this lesson in my bones. If I’m blaming my circumstances or someone else for my unhappiness, I’m not acknowledging my own ability for self-care and healing.

You can have all the shiny objects in the world, but if you’re disconnected from your deepest, divine self—happiness will always seem out of sight.

The good news?

Put spirit first again and the all-important worldly affairs will work themselves out. Truly. They will come together through no effort of your own, a product of your deep and abiding faith.

  1. Give of yourself and you never die.

Give your time and your unique talents often, whether it’s building homes in Guatemala, cooking nutritionally balanced meals for your family or singing a silly made-up song to lull your daughter to sleep.

The world needs you in ways you can’t even fathom. Lend your voice and and offer fourth your heart—it will echo throughout eternity.

It’s also the stuff your grandkids will talk about at your funeral.

Craving more joy? 5 Beliefs to Embrace in 2015

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It’s happened, the future is here: We’re officially one week into 2015. Don’t worry, I won’t dare mention the dreaded R word.

Instead I want to focus on the lesser hyped belief systems that give rise to our behavior.

Whether you realize it or not, your views about yourself and the world are shaping every minute of your life.

Why not choose beliefs that propel you forward and create joy instead of ones that keep you sad and stuck?

Taking an honest look at your beliefs may not be as sexy as a resolution list but it will create more joy and lasting change.

In case you need helping carving out a few new ones, steal a few of my favorite:

 1. I have everything I need—I am always being provided for.

If you’ve ever struggled financially, or any way really, you know how important this one can be. It’s so easy to give in to the fear and begin to define yourself by what you don’t have:

I don’t have enough money.

There’s not enough time.

No one understands.

The worse we begin to feel, the more negative language we create to support our feelings and soon enough, we’re manifesting the very dreaded reality we were trying to avoid!

Sound familiar?

If so, make this the year you kick that icky sense that something’s missing to the curb. Pack up the aching insecurity and fear of impending doom and remind yourself of all the ways you’re being provided for right now.

Bathe yourself in gratitude for all the precious blessings you’ve received and it’s hard to stay in fear for too long. But if you really want to cement your own security, help someone in greater need than yourself.

2. I am worthy of giving and receiving real love.

This is a belief many of us might take for granted. Of course I’m worthy of love, we might say, I have love in my life in the form of my spouse, kids, siblings, (fill in the blank). Why then do we struggle the most with those we love the most?

It’s not simply because we know one another’s buttons so well. It’s because the people who touch our hearts are also capable of tearing them apart. It’s threatening to love them completely (and vice versa) because we might lose them. Brene Brown talks of this peculiar sort of ache in her best-selling book, Daring Greatly, and again with Oprah:

If you’re lacking love in your life or constantly experiencing heartache in your intimate relationships, look at your level of vulnerability.

Are you allowing yourself to be seen? Are you giving a voice to your innermost fears and desires? Or are you shielding yourself, attempting to keep yourself safe by keeping others at a distance? 

No matter your past, know you are worthy of love and the joy that stems from it.

3. I welcome change because I know it exists for my evolution.

When I first heard the idea that all change is good change, it changed my life. In his groundbreaking book Conversations with God, Neal Donald Walsch writes:

All change is change for the better. There is no such thing as change for the worse. Change is the process of life itself and that process could be called by the name ‘evolution.’ And evolution moves in only one direction: forward, and toward improvement. Therefore, when change visits your life, you can be sure things are turning for the better. It may not look that way in the very moment change arrives, but if you will wait awhile and have faith in the process, you will see that this is true.

I’ve recently begun to feel the weight of these words. I’ve gone through a difficult year or so—times of loss and utter desperation—and all the while felt that steady assurance that everything was going to be okay. Ultimately. 

If you still have doubt, consider some of the following:

The firing that forces you to give your business a shot.

The failed relationship that leads to a successful marriage with someone else.

The death that inspires a revolution. Or change in law. Or change in heart. 

Change is going to happen, like it or not. Might as well learn to love it.

  4. It’s okay to be me. (And for you to be you).

The big takeaway here is that it’s okay to embrace your life—and yourself—as is, no adjustment needed. Instead of telling ourselves we’re 5 pounds or 2 pay grades or 10 clients away from where we need to be—what if we’re good enough right now?

Learning to love and accept myself on a fundamental level, flaws withstanding, has been the biggest accomplishment of my life. It’s an ongoing process, but at some point I decided: I’m not the horrible person I’ve built myself up to be. Maybe it’s an alcoholic thing, but I think it’s bigger than that. I think it’s about shame and a profound unworthiness stemming from childhood. This is where the alcoholism (and all other isms) originate.

The good news? Recovery is possible and we must all learn to grieve the losses of our youth. It’s only then that we can step into our authentic selves and find lasting joy.

I know it sounds difficult. But it’s mostly a matter of time.

Therapy helps.

Meditation is magical.

The best thing about developing a loving relationship with yourself? You will naturally have more peace in all your other relationships.

Acceptance may just be the answer to all your problems, after all.

5. I live in service of something greater than myself.

This one is deliberately broad because it’s so different for everyone.

The rabbi that devotes his life to his faith.

The teacher who stays late and arrives early. 

The stay-at-home mom that runs for city council. Or simply runs her household.

We gain individual power by contributing to the collective good. Serve interests outside your own and your life will be greatly enhanced in the process.

Paradoxical but true, like all the big stuff: Find a way to give back and the greatest joy will be yours.

The Heart of Darkness: Why You Should Toast the Worst of 2014

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Peace out 2014, you beautiful beast.

Is it just me or has it been a tough twelve months? Disappointment, frustration and delay were the norm and I definitely wasn’t bathing in abundance.

Or was I?

Yes, parts of this past year flat-out sucked.

Living with your parents at 29, even for a few months, is no fun. Neither is cleaning diarrhea out of the carpet from your 60 lb pup. And getting paid next to nada to do the work you love—the work that fuels every inch of your being? Not cool.

But you know what? This year hasn’t been all bad. It never is, right?

No, for all its frustrations and monumental shortcomings, 2014 has held space for some surprising blessings, too.

You see, the worst stuff is always wrapped up in the best stuff or gives birth to it.

How do we pay homage to one without acknowledging the other?

We need both. And I’m grateful for both.

Those two willful pups? They’re the two newest members of our family—now 5 fur babies and 2 humans—we are complete. We had been talking about getting one additional dog last year at this time, knowing it was probably wishful thinking or the wrong time. What did we know?

It’s my belief that rescue dogs choose you and always for untold reasons.

Here’s what I’m sure of: those puppies are creating more than just a mess in our living room—they’re bringing us massive cuddles, almost constant amusement and all sorts of silly stories. And the love, oh the love.

They’ve also taught me to abandon the myth of “the perfect household” and not go (completely) crazy when something completely replaceable is ruined.

Did I mention this is my first time raising puppies and I’m a recovering perfectionist? Talk about an opportunity for growth!

Luckily, it hasn’t been my only one.

I’ve begun to devote major time and energy to the stuff I’m passionate about: writing, recipe crafting, building my wellness brand, and sharing my journey with all of you via two blogs and multiple social media accounts.

Thing is, I’m in year numero uno. My WordPress blog just turned a year old and I won’t be launching my websites for a few more days (stay tuned!).

I’m in the very early stages of building my dream everything but beginnings can be hard. It’s often a time when we’re still doubtful and unsure, constantly changing course and struggling to find our way. This last year has been a lot of that for me.

But it’s also been exciting and tremendously rewarding to see my fledgling vision begin to crack to life.

I’ve celebrated each new follower and remained eager to read each comment as I’ve grown my community of wellness and personal growth-oriented bloggers.

For someone who struggles to feel connected to the people in her hometown, it’s refreshing to find common ground with my virtual network. I know I may never meet some of these individuals firsthand, but their work and their words help me to be a better person, on and off my couch! (hehe)

And knowing that my journey may inspire another along theirs is reward enough right now.

Besides, if there’s one lesson that’s been pounded into me this year, it’s this:

If I do what’s in front of me to do and put my faith in the big, bad universe, I’m always provided for. Always.

Does this mean I don’t stress about money?

Of course not—I’m an artist and newbie entrepreneur, but the number of zeros in my checking account doesn’t consume me either. I’m not distracted by pretty things and I practice mindful purchasing instead of compulsive spending.

And I certainly don’t equate rich people with big houses.

I understand real wealth always begins within. It begins with knowing we’re worthy and have something valuable to offer the world and others—ourselves.

Moreover, I have enough hope to fill a house. And not just ordinary hope—a hope that’s met faith, married and grown into something else altogether.

It’s the steadfast, almost obsessive assurance that everything I’m doing, every single effort and obstacle along the way, is for some greater good.

Like my girl Oprah says, nothing is wasted. Every single painful experience we endure is designed for our ultimate good.

Not in some abstract, metaphysical sense. Rather, the pain, when adequately acknowledged, creates opportunities where there were none, ushers just the right new people into our lives, and in time, facilitates a deep and necessary healing.

Yes, our pain is pretty powerful.

We know we won’t listen unless it hurts so we walk right into the fiery pit, knowing we’ll ultimately be bathed in light.

Up close it looks like destruction, but if you could zoom out over your entire life, you would see the beautiful seedlings this year has gifted you and why the shitty, fertilizing events had to happen, too.

So as the world prepares to ring in 2015 and you are reflecting over your own personal glories this past year, remember to honor 2014’s darker times, too.

The times when you sat and cried in your car because you didn’t know what else to do.

The times you worried about how you would pay for everything and it all came together in the final hour (literally).

The times you were too scared or confused or angry to take rational action. But you did anyway.

Like it or not, these moments define us too, divine even as they appear disastrous. They’re messy and real and sometimes regrettable, but they all tell the story of who we are: the story of our shared humanity.

And that’s always worth celebrating.

All my best to you and yours in the new year…thanks for sharing this space with me. See you in 2015!

12 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Do

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You know those people who seem to flutter seamlessly through life, as if they’ve been given some secret manual the rest of us aren’t privy to?

The truth is, these people don’t exist. Not beyond Facebook, anyway.

We all have our stuff and some days are better than others. Sometimes it’s just about getting through the day without screaming at anyone.

But I’ve found some core traits common to people who do more than get by. If you want to move from surviving to thriving and emotional imbalance to emotional freedom, read on:

1. Forgive. It’s for you. Do it because you want to move forward; because you deserve to be happy and resentment only breeds misery (and more resentment).

2. Look back, without relieving the past. Healthy reflection helps us from repeating the same mistakes. But once you’ve learned from your past, don’t linger in it.

3. Respect your boundaries. They’re no good if we don’t use ’em. Decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t and then don’t waver. (That’s the hard part.)

4. Listen. You’ll learn much more this way. And people will want to be around you.

5. Hang with people that make you happy. Life’s too short to be around people that emotionally exhaust you or worse—don’t treat you like the goddess you are.

6. Make peace with your imperfection. Honor your flaws. They tell the story that is you.

7. Choose work that feels like play. Remember when you were a kid and entire afternoons dissolved into forts and fairytales? Time absolutely escapes because we love what we’re doing so much and want to share it with the world. Our professional life can be this way too.

8. Honor the uncontrollable. All that stuff that’s driving you nuts and you want so eagerly to alter? Leave it alone. The wise know—our attitude and actions are all we really have control over. Leave the rest of it be, for peace’s sake.

9. Practice self-love. The more you’re fighting yourself, the more you will fight with everyone (and everything) else. Quell the discord within—one act of self-care at a time—and the external conflict will die down too.

10. Pay attention. Those who are able to observe their own emotions–without being engulfed by them and without judging the crap out of them—are the most powerful people. Be someone who chooses how to feel instead of being ruled by your feelings.

11. Embrace the dark. The way I see it: you can’t live in the light until you’ve unearthed all the dark. Share your secrets, make your amends. and allow yourself to be seen. Once you realize you’re not alone, maybe you’ll start to see  how amazing you are.

12. Be the captain of your own ship. It’s about more than taking charge of your destiny and consciously creating the life of your desires. You must take ownership and accountability over all of it if you want to change any of it. Go ahead already, grab life by the you know what.

Happy {Harmless} Shopping: 7 Socially Conscious, Chic Gifts to Give This Year

It may seem late to be posting a holiday shopping guide, but if you’re anything like me, your holiday shopping is far from complete. Thank God for online shopping and expedited shipping!

Should you still be looking for that special something for a special someone (don’t worry, our secret), check out my last-minute gift guide below.

All suggestions are guaranteed to bring smiles and some mindfulness back to this manic season.

  1. The hot bag.

No, it’s not designer; it’s reusable. I’m talking the ever prevalent canvas tote of course. Yes, almost everyone has one (or five) by now, but they’re great for so many things and you can leave them in multiple spots (laundry room, vehicle, garage, etc) so you’ve always got one handy in place of paper or plastic. Plus, they’ve gotten so stylish and socially conscious over the last few years, who can resist one more?

Etsy has some great ones ($12-25):

 

 

 

  1. The jewels.

The 100 Good Deeds bracelet  (available in 18 colors) and selling for $30 is not just a cute, affordable accessory; it’s a commitment to charitable living and a symbol of support for sustainable living practices across Africa. The bracelets are crafted by “vulnerable women,
many HIV+, who’ve been trained for this work in Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda & Haiti.” It enables them to both support their families and positively impact their communities through their own good deeds. It also encourages the wearer to complete 100 anonymous acts of kindness, using the individual beads as a guide. One act of kindness begets another. Beautiful.

  1. For the animal lover. You’re probably already taking great care of your fur babies this year, but what about the millions of animals around the world who aren’t being provided for? I always say start local when you can. Giving your time, money or even just a few pet supplies to your local no-kill shelter is a great way to show support for our four-footed friends. But if you want to go a step further or give the animal lover in your life a gift with big impact, consider fostering an elephant. There’s a nursery in Nairobi, Kenya—run by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust—that’s made this possible. Elephants are sweet, gentle giants, unfairly torn from their families and brutalized for their body parts. This leaves many a baby elephant unprovided for and wholly dependent on wonderful nurseries such as this one.

Choose the baby elephant you want to foster and you’ll receive monthly photo updates along with other exciting goodies, all right from your computer!

  1. For the fashionista. This is the gift for that gal that already has it all: a one-of-a-kind piece packing major purpose. This lovely pashmina ($120) from Nest definitely qualifies. It’s hand-made by an Indian artisan as part of the charity’s goal to impact communities “through the alleviation of poverty, empowerment of women and promotion of peace.” It’s also damn cute and can be worn with just about anything.

  1. For the water freak. Again, many of us own reusable water bottles by now, infamous for their cost savings and cut down on plastic waste, but if you’re anything like me, you still haven’t found the perfect fit. A bottle that looks good, feels good, and delivers fresh, tasty water? The Luxe. Living water bottle, or aqua flask ($12.99) might be your answer. It’s 100% BPA-free, leak proof, and has a strap for easy carrying. The best part though? For every bottle sold, $1 goes toward safe and clean drinking water for those in need. Tastes good, no?
  1. The practical gift. Socks used to be that item we joked about receiving, but socks have arrived in a major way. Comfier and more stylish than ever before, we all need a few expertly made pairs. Bombas socks ($9/pair) are just that. But they’re much more too. Born out of a desire to give back in a big way, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold. According to their website, socks are the most requested items throughout homeless shelters and Bombas is their stylish solution.

  1. The gift that keeps giving. Ever worry your donations aren’t doing much good? Heifer International is the charitable organization for you. Committed to ending world hunger and poverty, and already having served over 20 million families, Heifer gifts live animals (goats, sheep, etc) to families in need. But this is only the beginning. See, not only does the animal provide “life-sustaining products such as milk, eggs, cheese, honey and wool” but receiving families also agree to pass on the most precious assets, the offspring, to other families in need. The cycle of life—and giving—just keeps going. How great is that?

Your Blissful Bod: How to Reclaim It

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My relationship with my body is complicated.

I learned to question and criticize my flesh at a young age. And it wasn’t long before I began to detest it.

I remember squeezing the “fat” on my thighs as a fifth grader, wishing this part of my anatomy simply didn’t exist—”If only our calves extended all the way to our hips!”

By 17, I had a full-fledged eating disorder that persisted, in varying degrees, for ten years.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I’ve also experienced tremendous healing, one decision at a time.

I’ve learned to become conscious of the ingredients in my food—to opt for natural and organic items when possible, adopt a largely plant-based diet, and to get moving when I’m feeling stuck.

I cut out the alcohol. And most of the dairy. And fake sugar. And the other fun stuff that my body no longer likes.

I’ve also made a commitment to mind-body harmony and explored practices like yoga, meditation, and chanting that facilitate whole body healing.

I’ve cried with therapists, laughed in recovery circles, counted calories, and created affirmations.

I’ve given pep talks to my no longer 20-year-old skin and small boobs.

Hell, I’ve all but written my ass a love song.

Even still, I have off days. I have days where I hate my hair and bitch about my cellulite and revert to an insecurity riddled seventeen year-old.

But the difference is, I know how to bring myself back to sanity today, back to solution.

Today, my legs are one of my favorite features. They are muscular, lean and feminine, elongating my 5’3″ frame. More than that, my legs carry me up and down my condo stairs eight times a day and to the grocery store and to meet friends. They allow me to meet life’s tasks and inch closer daily toward my dreams.

Yes, my legs are a kind of a big deal, and so is the rest of me!

The same goes for you, gorgeous.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: Your body is scared. It holds your guts and dreams and millions of magical cells.

Problem is, we fail to treat it this way sometimes. We forget to love on ourselves and bask in the glory of our precious being.

So whether it’s a “fat” moment, blemished skin or a flat bum, here’s what to do when you’re feeling funky in your own skin:

  1. Give your bod props.

Pretty simple. Acknowledge all the amazing stuff your body (and your perceived problem area in particular) continues to do for you.

Having a freak out session over perpetually tired looking locks? Thank your hair for serving as a fabulous accessory and frame to your face and then…chop it off. Give it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths or a charity that will re-purpose your hair in a major way. You gain a shorter, chicer do and someone else gains a whole lot more.

Or maybe you’re like me and it’s your booty that has you down.

Looks like it’s time to get that hiney in gear. Literally. Go run a block or two.

Allow yourself to feel every speck of air that enters your sweet, swelling lungs. Feel the wind whipping across your face. And feel the burn, deep down in your gluts.

Say a quick prayer of gratitude for all that your “less-than” ass allows.

  1. Love the parts that hurt the most.

This one’s probably the most important. It’s my belief (and experience) that unresolved emotional stuff always comes out, one way or another. If we don’t acknowledge our soul’s aching, it becomes an unavoidable physical block: something we can no longer ignore.

Our bodies always want to move us back toward a place of homeostasis and healing, but sometimes we interfere with this process. We disrupt the natural order of things.

One of the biggest ways we do this is by repressing painful emotions stemming from events in our past. The pain literally becomes lodged in the body, ultimately manifesting as disease or disorder.

The good news is: we don’t even have to know what the painful stuff is to begin the healing process (though you probably do).

The body is also always providing clues in the present. Pay attention to your most prevalent symptoms and the bodily systems affected. Your body is trying to tell you what’s wrong and what you can do to make it right.

I’ve come to learn, for instance, the occasional ulcer-like-pain I feel in my upper abdomen is really about a suppression of my creative, sexual, expressive life energy, something I learned to do in childhood.

I can alleviate this pain by understanding its origins in the past and implementing a few healing habits here and now.

In this case, I can open my solar plexus with Camel Pose, practice deep breathing, and stay away from anything too acidic.

  1. Embrace ridiculous pleasure.

This one isn’t what it seems. Yes, you should be having sex and eating delicious, indulgent food (in moderation) and getting as many massages as possible.

Not because dark chocolate and deep-tissue massages have redemptive power (they do) but because of the messages these experiences send our bodies:

You are worthy.

You are loveable.

You are special.

In other words, it’s not the actual indulging in sensual pleasures that matters here. We all know these moments of true physical ecstasy are fleeting and fickle.

Rather, it’s the belief our actions uphold that matters: the unshakable idea that our bodies are divine and worthy of wonderful things.

So what are you waiting for?

Give in to the goodness. Have your cake and eat it too. No guilt allowed.

What To Do When You Have No Idea What To Do

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“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart…Live in the question.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m a girl who knows what she wants and knows what needs to be done to get me there. Most of the time.

Lately, though, I have no idea what to do about anything!

I have hundreds of business and blogging ideas leading me in a hundred different directions.

I’ve got chaos on the home front that only seems to be getting worse.

Even deciding what to make for dinner is proving exhausting.

Luckily, I know to expect (and accept) a certain degree of indecision.

What’s that expression—the dress rehearsal for life is life itself?

None of us is immune from maddening uncertainty because life itself is uncertain.

Our mistake is in assuming that not knowing is a problem, instead of an integral part of the process.

“For at its deepest levels life is not a problem but a mystery.” 

~Phillip Simmons, Learning to Fall

It’s the reason terminal cancer patients live ten years and it can snow in the dessert.

Nothing is a sure thing. But what if we celebrated this fact, instead of dreading it?

For all our steadfast reliance on science and reason and probability, for all the wikipedia pages and smart phones that help us with every tedious task, we still get thrown.

The world is fucked, we say.

But what seems to be a chaotic, crazy world is really just an inability to grapple with our own conflicting emotions. Our own indecision.

We forget that we’re not designed to know all the time.

It’s in asking the questions that we find…

in the process of learning that we bloom…

and it’s not to be missed. 

But what does all this mean on a day-to-day basis? What do we do when a situation has us twisted inside out, desperate for solution?

Assuming you also understand and accept that chaos is the natural order, here’s how you can make peace with it and maybe even find an A to your Q.

Pray. 

Pray, pray, pray like your life depends on it. {It doesn’t} but your sanity and peace of mind just might. Pray to Jesus or Allah or the oak tree in your back yard—it doesn’t matter.

Just put your questions, your confusion, the agony of indecision, all of it, out there. You will receive an answer. Ask and ye shall receive— it’s universal law.

You’re not assured to like the answer, but you are bound to get one.

See what your body says

As Shakira says, the hips don’t lie. And neither does your gut.

Our bodies, wise in their collective wisdom, remain our most ardent protectors.

But it’s not just your gut feelings you should heed.

Chronic pain, muscle stiffness and even indigestion can clue us in to parts of the body where emotions literally become stuck. 

Go to those places aching for your attention and ask what they have to tell you; what they have to teach you.

The answers may not be automatic but stay in your body and clarity will come.

Ask a friend.

I usually ask two. That way, between my own perspective (shaky and shifting as it might be), plus the added perspective of two of my besties: I’m sure to gain some clarity. And if it’s a yes/no sort of dilemna—boom—automatic tiebreaker!

If nothing else, your pal can serve as a powerful sounding board for your scattered feelings. You may notice a new detail or emotional disturbance as you’re relaying the story that lends itself to a fresh vantage point.

Trust the Process

This is as hard and as easy as it sounds. If you’re anything like me, you want results yesterday. But we can’t control how or when our answers arrive.

I sometimes receive the guidance I need quickly and with tremendous ease, and other times, each day of not knowing feels like a unique form of punishment, specially crafted for my suffering.

But the answers do come.

The veil does lift.

And a creative solution emerges.

Every time. Without fail. It’s your job to allow it.

Accept the answer

Ok, I lied. This is usually the hardest part. Because ultimately, we always know. We hold the answer deep down within us, ask the universe anyway, and hope against all hope that we receive one we like better.

Yes, acceptance is a bitch.

But if you’ve sincerely put forth the question and done the work to gain clarity: accept the answer in whatever form it shows up.

An unexpected call.

A creative business proposal.

A sudden flash of insight.

Pay attention to it all. The universe is trying to show you the way—a path to clear and purposeful action.

 

A Few of My Favorite {Affirmations}

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If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be writing messages on my mirror and uttering affirmations as I drive, I would have laughed at you…behind your back.

But these days, I’m a big believer! And why not?

Affirmations are nothing more than our beliefs verbalized. And if you believe in the influential power of word (as I most certainly do); why shouldn’t affirmations be a part of a balanced spiritual practice?

Now that we’ve agreed affirmations are amazing—here’s a few of my go-tos:

 I now release everything that no longer serves me. 

A great one for shaking off the negative nillies right this second! Say buh-bye to fear, anxiety, anger, [insert distasteful emotion here] and move into solution with this all-encompassing mantra.

I radiate love and light from the inside out.

I like to say this one when washing my face 🙂 It helps remind me of the sacred connectedness between my inside and my outside. Nurture one and you can’t help but nurture the other.

I’m in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.

This one is great if you’re naturally prone to anxiety or the “shoulds” (guilty). It reminds me to take my foot off my own neck and embrace everything in my life, as is, because it’s all good.

Do you find affirmations helpful?

Which work best for you?

Let me know and I’ll add ’em to the list! xo