Category Archives: being present

Montana reminded me the importance of self – love

This past week I went on a yoga retreat in Montana, right outside Glacier National Park. I’m not really certain what my expectations were going into the trip, but now that the experience has came and passed, I’m sure it exceeded any possible expectations. 

Montana is quite possibly one of the most tranquil, gorgeous states I’ve ever visited. The mountains roll for miles and the color schemes surpass every possible palate imaginable.

I didn’t know anyone else going on this trip when I signed up. I was slightly nervous about that, but I make friends easily – connecting with people is something that comes very naturally to me. The people – it turned out – were all so incredible. We bonded through laughter, sweat, tears, chill bumps, and our love of yoga. 

On the trip, we packed a lot into a quick week. We biked, hiked, cold plunged, enjoyed a homemade sauna, ate delicious, nutritious food, while soaking up the refreshing Montana air. The whole experience truly feels like a fairy tale dream. 

I got to really unplug, soak up nature, and get into my body and outta my head – which is a reality I consistently strive for. Certain experiences have the power to ground me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. 

I journaled a lot – I bought a new journal on the first day of my trip and almost filled it completely up. Journaling is a meditative and grounding experience that I keep coming back to. Filling page after page with my thoughts and ideas has always soothed me. 

Some of my main take aways from my trip are:

The world is abundant. Life is about meeting new faces and seeing new places. I want to always step out of my comfort zone to experience new things. I am never, ever stuck. No matter if it feels like that some days. I have the power to explore and roam and soak up the beauty this earth has to offer. 

Self love is the most precious gift I have to offer. It allows my light to shine bright and positively impact those around me. Even when I don’t like everything about myself and my thoughts veer towards deprecating, I have the desire to fully and unconditionally love and accept myself exactly how I am. That thought process – I believe – is rare and something I hope to always come back to. 

I don’t have to always “go with the flow”. I am the author of my story; I am the creator of my reality. At any given moment, I have the power to pivot and start a new chapter. At any given moment, I have the power to shift the direction of my life.

Being outside is vital for my health. I need space, air, and room to explore and grow. Since living in a metropolitan city, this has taken a backseat. I’ve always known it was necessary for me to be outdoors, but this week really confirmed just how important it is to soak up fresh air and be submerged in nature. 

I feel very appreciative of all the growth I’ve endured in the past year since moving alone during a pandemic. It’s been a bumpy road, but I’m content with this path I’m on. I truly love who I am becoming and I know that each chapter is important and worthy of being present for. 

Manifestations are real! Manifesting is the first step to achieving my goals and accomplishing my dreams. I will, I can, I am. Journaling my manifestations are going to become part of my weekly routine and I’m so excited to see how things shift in my life. 

I am strong. I am capable. I am determined.

Having role models is important. The owner of the retreat I went to easily and quickly became one of my role models. She bought this big, beautiful home in Montana and turned it into a yoga studio. She spends a couple months of the year out there and opens it up for others to come and enjoy and practice yoga at. Can you say GOALS? 

This life goes by extremely fast. It’s too damn short to not enjoy it. Too short to not seek out the things that excite me and bring me joy. This could all be ripped away in an instant. Don’t take anything fore- granted.  

Onward, friend, always onward. 

Opryland

Opryland Hotel is not your ordinary hotel. There are over 600 plants there, ranging between 200 species. The place itself is a sort of greenhouse. In Opryland, you will find waterfalls, a river, gazebos, peaceful settings, and plenty of entertainment throughout the hotel.

My mom had a conference at Opryland last week. Her job paid for her room in one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever seen. I went to Opryland just about every night while her conference was going on. There was a mall right up the road, so we got to shop some too.

I think the rest of the family was jealous we were on a sort of mini vacay, so one night my brother and his girlfriend came up and we went to Paula Deen restaurant and gorged on fried chicken and dumplins. Then we walked around the hotel, taking pictures and soaking up the views and quality time.

Then another night my grandparents and my dad came up. We went to Old Hickory, a delicious steakhouse in the hotel. It was a fine dining experience, with lobster, steak, wine and as much mac n cheese as we could possibly consume. We all agreed it was probably one of the best meals we have ever had. Plus the service was immaculate, our server was cracking jokes with us the whole time and if you know my family, you know that we’re a bunch full of jokers.

It was really nice to be surrounded by family all week. We laughed a lot, ate a lot, and just enjoyed each other’s company in a magical surreal environment.

One night my mom and I decided to get dinner in the hotel. When we finally decided on a place, we realized there was live music going on.

Charlie Argo with his mop of curly hair and captivating voice, stole the crowd’s heart. I don’t even really like country music, but his voice was incredible and he played a lot of well-known songs. It was some of the best live entertainment I’ve seen in a long time.

My mom and I took at our time at our prime front row seats, ordering appetizers, food, and plenty to sip on. While we both thought the night was perfect, we agreed the company was the best part.

Meet Theo

One of my friends recently decided to get a puppy. And let me be the first to say, unbiased of course, he is the most precious little thing. The first night I met Theo, or Feo as I like to call him for some reason I’m unsure of, we took him on a short walk to a local fried chicken place. There is a patio there so we knew he’d be welcomed. Not only was the little guy welcomed, he was celebrated by practically everyone we encountered.

Groups of women shrieked as Theo strutted by them, his golden fur flopping around him, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, like he had no worry in the world. “Can we pet your dog!?” they begged as they were already bending down to greet him.

Even a couple of dudes that passed by awed and smiled at Theo’s infectious energy.

When we made it to our fried chicken restaurant destination, we set up camp at one of the patio tables, making sure his leash was attached to a chair and that he had plenty of water and a little bone to keep him entertained.

And the paparazzi didn’t let up while we ate and sipped our beers. People frequently stopped by our table to greet Theo and ask the standard questions: how big will he get? What kind of dog is he? What’s this little guy’s name? It was like we were eating dinner with a little celebrity that kept tangling himself around our feet.

But I mean, can you blame anyone, look at that face:

The night ended with Theo pulling ahead of us on his little leash, “C’mon slow-pokes!” he insinuated. His short legs moved at a quick pace, but he had to frequently stop and smell something every five feet or so.

When we finally got back to my friend’s apartment, he sprawled onto the floor and fell asleep in minutes, his cuddly body dreaming no doubt of chasing birds or squirrels and attracting every eye on the street.

Love, Light, Beauty, & Grace

The world is a weird place. It’s always moving, always flowing. There’s beauty in everything – if you take the time to slow down and look for it and then there’s something ugly hiding behind every corner, if you choose to acknowledge it. People can be kind and people can be cruel – all depending on how they were raised and the current situation they’re experiencing.

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There will be days when sunshine hits your face and the warmth awakes every cell in your body and you’re thankful you’re here, living in this moment, getting to experience this great big adventure that you’re on – even if it’s just a Tuesday and all you’re doing is coming from the grocery store.

Then there will be days when you spill your morning coffee in your lap, scalding your legs and soaking your clothes, and in desperation to clean up the mess you will stub your toe and it will be unreasonable how painful it is. You might swear under your breath and wonder what you did to cause such a series of unfortunate events to unfold.

Then there will be all the days in between. The days that swim by you where nothing significant nor tragic occurs at all. You will simply just be living and doing all the things it takes to survive. Those sort of days will undoubtedly chalk up a large percentage of your life – the ones that you’re barely sure even happened.

It’s important to fill those days with love, light, beauty, and grace.

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Like snuggling with your kitty in the morning as she yawns, sleep still in her soft green eyes, and rolls over on her back, exposing her soft fluffy belly.

Like sharing a delicious meal with people you care about. Chatting nonstop until the food is ready and enjoying every bite so much you don’t look up from your plate until every last bite is settling in the bottom of your stomach.

Like being submerged in a good book, feeling like you’ve morphed into one being with the main character because you’re now so invested in their reality and you can’t possibly sit the book down until you’ve consumed it entirely.

Like going on a hike somewhere, surrounded by luscious greens and the melodies of the critters that inhabit the area, completely unplugged from your reality.

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All we really know is that we’re not here very long. Our days are limited and we only have so much time to make magic.

Onward.

Mornings thoughts on the porch

I’ve been trying to find light, beauty, and love in my life right here, right now. This is all so temporary. I know that and I’m learning to accept that.

No matter where I go the birds will sing into the sky, the trees will dance to the tune of the breeze, the sun will shine amongst the clouds, and I will be right there, taking it all in, bouncing from moment to moment, trying to hold onto the good things.

Rugby is BACK!

What’s something irrational that you love doing?

For me, it’s tackling people to the ground – no pads, no helmet, just a mouthguard.

I found rugby back in college and it’s truly shaped me into the person I am. I remember a former coworker of mine played and I thought it was so badass. I was like, “please tell me more!”

Conveniently, her roommate had just gotten back from an eight-week rugby camp, so she had quite a bit to say about the sport. As she talked about rugby for almost an hour, her passion for the game was so evident, I knew I had to at least go to one practice – if nothing else, I just wanted to be friends with this confident chick.

So, I went to a practice and I never looked back. The confidence and mental strength I’ve developed from this sport are unlike anything else. Playing rugby is being surrounded by humans that simply want to uplift other humans.

The community is where I’ve made some of my strongest bonds and met some of the most incredible people. It’s the most accepting, welcoming, and safest community I’ve ever been a part of. There’s truly a place for everyone on a rugby team, no matter your size, height, athletic ability – there is a rugby position for you.

Covid, of course, prevented us from playing for quite a while. It was really devastating, but this past weekend, I got to play again! My team traveled down to Huntsville and got to play and social afterward! It was so much fun to be back doing something I enjoy so much, surrounded by people that love the sport just as much as I do.

My body, of course, was like, “REALLY?!? We’re doing this again?” The day after games, I feel like I’ve been run over, and I guess, in a sense, I have been. My neck, traps, and shoulders are sore for days. It hardly makes sense to crave such merciless activity, but rugby is BACK and I couldn’t be more excited.

23 years of chasing the sun

I turned 23 this week. Time is quickly slipping by. I wish I could capture moments and snippets from this life and hold onto them forever. I guess this is what journaling and taking pictures is for, but I wish there was a more tangible way to hold onto memories.

For my birthday, I wanted to go somewhere tropical. I wanted simply to lay on a beach and soak up the sunshine. This is all I ever really want, but I needed to make it happen for my birthday. I didn’t know who would join me or where I would end up, but I knew I would be laying on a beach for my birthday.

About two months before, my friend Mariah from Utah called me. We had lived together four summers ago in Maine when we did an internship together. From the first day we met, I knew she would be a great friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other since August 2017.

“I have exciting news!” she told me as I watched her face light up on my phone while we Facetimed.

“What is it?” I eagerly asked.

“I’m moving to Key West!” she was grinning ear to ear.

“You’re kidding?!?!” I was shocked and jealous… totally, unbelievably jealous.

“I’m coming to visit!” I belted out before I even had a chance to consider any of the logistics. And a couple of months later, I found myself hopping on a plane, heading down south to see my precious friend for the first time in nearly four years. Oh, and to celebrate my birthday.

The island captivated me instantly. The sunshine warmed – and eventually fried – my skin. The taste of salt hung in the air, like every good beach town. We rode the moped around the island, zooming past sight-seers and tourists. It was pure, total bliss.

While Mariah worked a couple of days during my trip, she trusted me with her moped. I was nervous to drive it at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. The freedom I felt as the wind zipped through my hair was alluring.

I took myself on a breakfast date.

I ran into old friends there celebrating a bachelor party. I was basically part of the bachelor party for a day – it was awesome.

I ate seafood.

I rode a boat to an even smaller, more secluded island.

I tanned (fried) my skin in the warm sunshine.

I caught up with a friend that I wasn’t entirely sure I’d ever seen again. We laughed so hard we cried multiple times. I think they call that medicine for the soul.

It was a magical, beautiful trip.

For a moment, on my birthday, I got anxious about being a year older. I didn’t imagine this is how my life would look at 23. How could I have? How can any of us predict anything at all?

I don’t know what the next year of this journey has in store for me, but I know it will include a lot of love, laughter, light, and chasing the warmth of the sunshine.

Be Impeccable with your Word

The power of our words is astounding. When we speak something aloud, it becomes our reality. I had a basketball coach who would chastise my teammates and me whenever we’d talk negatively. If we’d say, “I can’t make a shot,” he would agree and say, “yeah, now you definitely won’t make one because that’s what you believe.” And it was true. Once you articulate something, you manifest it.

This is true for both negative affirmations and positive affirmations.

I recently started reading “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word”. Our words shape our lives. Therefore, I believe positive self-talk is such a beautiful way to show self-love.

Recently, my life coach gave me an exercise: look at your reflection for three minutes and write down every single thought you have.

I procrastinated doing this for a couple days until one morning I caught a glimpse of my reflection and decided it was a good enough time as any to do the exercise.

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So I stared at myself for three whole minutes. At first, I was apprehensive. Nothing came to my mind for the first minute and a half. Then, a Glennon Doyle quote popped into my head:

“Make sure when you look into your eyes, you’re looking into the eyes of someone you trust.”

After that, my thoughts mainly concerned my physical features: wild eyebrow hairs, unruly, unwashed hair, and blemishes where my mask rubs against my skin. Then the anxiety came. “I’m doing this wrong! I’m supposed to be having profound thoughts!” But I wasn’t. There was no blueprint or guidelines, just me and my reflection.

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I sent my list of random, scattered thoughts to my life coach afterward, and she turned these thoughts into affirmations for me.

Read silently. Then read aloud. Then read aloud while looking in the mirror.

I love trusting myself.

I love my skin. I love my eyebrows.

I love how my body knows just how to take care of itself.

I inhale the breath of life. I exhale ease. (Do this)

I love how my instincts guide me.

I love the person I am.

Flow State

Humans are meant to create. We do it without even realizing. When we cook something, when we choose an outfit to showcase our style, when we organize a shelf we are creating. This sort of creating is different from making music, painting, or writing. It’s more subconscious, but still nonetheless, we’re all innately creative beings from a young age. The world dulls our creativity as we grow up because we learn to become domesticated in our day to day functions. Getting into a flow state is tapping into the subconscious, reuniting with the creative liberty we possessed as children.

As a child, my imagination was encouraged – almost forced – to be wild and free. My siblings and I would play for hours – with dolls, some sort of ball, our bikes, or even in the trees and the dirt. We didn’t realize we were submerged in a flow state, we just knew we were having a good time while staying out of our parents’ hair. As a child, entering a flow state is an organic, natural state of mind.

My grandmother encouraged my creative energy through arts and crafts. She is one of the most creative people I know, always working on some sort of project of sewing, cooking, gardening, or crocheting. I remember as a child all the trips we’d take to Hobby Lobby. I could have browsed that store forever – looking at all the different crafts they had. She’d usually leave with a cart full of fabric or thread and something to keep me preoccupied. I remember making dozens of potholders while sitting in her living room, the purple plastic square that I would loop the fabric through became one of my most prized possessions.

Now, as an adult, entering a flow state is much more difficult. My mind is always swimming, thinking about what needs to be done next, what I’ve already accomplished, and a million other random things. It’s difficult to silence the chatter and create something. Which is why when I do enter that flow state nowadays, it feels so wholesome to let the energy course through me and let my subconscious mind take over.

It’s important for me to enter a flow state a couple times a week because it’s such a calm, relaxed state of mind. I’ve began to take note of different activities I participate in that really put me there.

Listen to a good album or song

I mean really listen to it. Close your eyes and feel the rhythm. Maybe the singer’s voice soothes you or maybe the beat makes you want to dance. Either way, surrendering to the melody is a common way us humans can enter into a flow state.

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Do some sort of craft

I like to take washi tape, stickers, and pictures I print off and fill pages in my journal. It’s fun to do and I like to look back and see what I create through different seasons of my life.

Sometimes I’ll make collages from things I cut out of magazines.

There’s so many different types of crafts out there that can induce a flow state. Finding what works best for you is the most important part.

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Practice Yoga

I’ve done yoga sporadically for a couple years, but just recently I’ve been adamant about attending my gym’s yoga class every Sunday. Not only is it an amazing stretch for my sore muscles, it’s a time where I can really be present inside my body. I can take notice of where I’m holding tension and focus my breath on that area to release it. It’s easy to enter a flow state when you keep coming back to your breath. Coming back to your breath is coming back into your own body.

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Go on a run / workout

Not only does exercise produce endorphins, it’s also a great way to get into a flow state. I personally do Crossfit and the workouts always demand my full attention. Once my body gets warm and I start to sweat, I really enter into a flow state. Sometimes it’s all about simply surviving the workout. I know if I just keep moving and pushing through then I will eventually complete the workout and get on with the rest of my day.

I know Crossfit isn’t for everyone, but I believe some sort of exercise should be on everyone’s daily agenda. Whatever works for you to get your heart rate up and get a sweat going is your flow state.

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Write Morning Pages

This is a good way to not only enter a flow state, but to crank out some writing. I like to set a timer for 15-20 minutes and write as much as I can until it goes off. It’s a good idea to do this in the morning before your brain has a chance to start chattering. No idea is off limits. Sometimes I can get right into it and articulate something decent worth sharing. Other times, I write about random thoughts and ideas I have. One of my professors introduced this practice last year and I frequently visit it when I feel stuck and uninspired. I know I have to get something on the page or else I’ll just be staring at blankness until the timer goes off.

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These are just a couple ways I’ve found that can induce a flow state. Everyone is different. What works for me might not necessarily work for you and vice versa. It’s important to experiment with different practices and techniques until you can find what works to get you in your own flow state. The important part is that you do enter the flow state. Universally, it’s a positive state of mind that benefits our mental state.

What are some practices that get you into a flow state?

The Year of Being Gentle

It’s the first week of the year and I already feel like I’m falling behind. I found myself extremely frustrated. I should have written down more goals. I should have done more reflecting. I should have my daily routine perfected.

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This negative self-talk exhausts me and I have to focus to pull myself out of it. I work out five sometimes six days per week. I meditate nearly every morning. I write at least a page in my journal everyday. I’ve recently started forcing myself to sleep at a decent hour. So why do I feel like I’m not doing enough to be where I want to be emotionally and spiritually?

The short answer: I hold myself to a high standard because I was raised to believe I am capable of anything I set my mind to. I know that deep down to my core, but sometimes I fall short of my potential.

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And this year I want to accept that it’s okay to not be exactly where I want to be! It’s okay to celebrate the small victories when the big ones are still out on the horizon. It’s okay to honor myself even when I’m not living my dream life. So what if some days I can’t get to everything on my to-do list? So what if someone has a beautiful, healthy relationship? A more successful career than me? Lifts more than me in the gym? Writes everyday?

My story isn’t theirs.

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2020 was a rough year. A lot of things happened that were out of anyone’s control. I understand this happens every year, that there will always be things that I physically cannot change. And I’m learning to be okay with that, to accept the way things are, to understand that not everything plays out how I’d like it to.

I can’t always control the external world, but I can always control my internal world. In 2021, I want to be gentle with myself, I want to trust the process, and meet myself with grace every step of the way.