studying is hard.

You guys – I forgot how to study. Basically everything I learned in college (because let’s be real – you didn’t really need to study in high school) about studying… I forgot. It hurts my brain, it makes me sleepy, and I really just don’t wanna do it. {Insert temper tantrum here}

School is for fools. For real. (Not really – but in this instance, I’m dubbing it as such.) I am currently studying for my CAP exam (Certified Administrative Professional) which is coming up in exactly THREE WEEKS from tomorrow. Barf. I probably should have started studying sooner, but procrastination is my JAM so I of course waited until this week to start. It’s a lot of information I already know – last year I worked toward getting certificates for HR related duties and it’s a lot of repetition for what I’m currently studying. It’s not so much the information I’m having issues with – the content is just fine – but seriously this whole “studying” thing. BLECH.

Some of the things that went through my mind while I was studying yesterday – “Uuuuugh I don’t want to do this. I want a nap. I’m soooooo tired. My neck hurts. This is stupid. WHY do I need to know this. I need to crack my back and my chair isn’t letting me do that. I wish I had my high school desk where I could lean back and crack my back like only it knows how. Oops I didn’t mean to highlight that. I didn’t even read that – better reread it. I JUST WANT A NAP.” Seeing a recurring theme don’t you?

As long as I do some studying daily I’ll be through this book by the end of the week. Then I’ll just need to spend some time at the library during my “respite time” with the bear. A couple hours at the library will do me good. (Apparently I should reread that grammar section from yesterday. What a terrible sentence.) Le sigh. I hate studying.

Yet I LOVE reading. Such is life. I could sit for HOURS and do nothing but read a book. I get lost in the words and the lives of the characters. With studying – I just keep looking at the clock for when I can be DONE.

Props to all you grown-ups out there who are studying for school… at this point in my life I don’t think I’d ever want to go back. I’m hoping to take my PHR exam early next year and after that I think I’ll be done with tests for a while. Get some extra letters behind my name to make me a more marketable business lady and be done with it. I’m looking forward to this test being done… even though it takes ALMOST FOUR HOURS. I haven’t taken a test that long LITERALLY EVER. College finals were what – two hours? Maybe three? And it never took that long. THIS ONE IS ALMOST FOUR HOURS. Maybe I should take the rest of the day off after that. Go home and just sleep. OOF.

Okay I’m done whining for now. But for realz guys. Studying is the worst.

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no sleep till brooklyn

You guys. That was a really long hiatus. I apologize. Over two months with no post? I suck.

But SO MUCH has been happening since then. We moved (you knew that) and getting this house set up just the way we like is proving to be much more difficult than I’d ever thought. Furnishing a house that’s nearly twice the size of our apartment has been time consuming, expensive, but also hella fun. I’ve been making weekly(ish) trips to Goodwill because thrifting has become a new pastime. Craigslist finds have kept me sane… and DIY projects are happening way more often than I ever thought possible. I’ve been reading up on different blogs to assist in organization, decorating, and cooking (per usual) and to make our house a HOME. This weekend we are finishing up the FINAL room in the house (the guest bedroom) – and after that we get to relax. But not really – because we also have a new little baby boy in our life. And relaxing just isn’t something we can do anymore.

Koji the cream-colored Shiba Inu is our newest fur baby addition to the family. He is a spunky little love that keeps mama on her toes during the week. He is sweet – but not cuddly, plays hard, sleeps through the night (usually), and torments his big orange brother on a daily basis. He learned “sit” over lunch one day and (sometimes) knows “drop it” when we’re playing fetch or going for a walk outside. 80% of the time he’s great on the leash – but the other 20% he’s a monster. On Thursday he will be 3 months old (baby boy is growing up so fast) and he has a definite attitude. He’s so cute – and so much WORK. After doing a lot of the work during the week – as I’m playing “single fur baby mom” while my other half is traveling for work – I told myself that if I were a single girl, there is no way I would EVER get a dog on my own. I love dogs – all dogs – but taking care of a puppy by myself is HARD. It’s time consuming (I knew it would be) but also so worth it. It’s fun watching him grow up and learn new things – even if sometimes I just wish he would learn RIGHT NOW. I mean – I know he’s a puppy, and such a cute one, and he’s really smart – shibas are naturally very smart dogs – but maybe just stop chewing your leash and acting like a maniac.

But still – he’s so cute.

Being a cat mom is so easy. Toby is 8 – he’s been around for a while, he knows what’s up. He sleeps 90% of the day – and rarely wakes me up during the night. Sometimes he wants to snuggle, other times he wants to sleep under the bed and not be bothered unless he’s hungry. Which is fine by me. Koji is a literal 180 from Toby. It’s hard for me to sit down and watch TV or read a book or do laundry without asking “what are you doing? Where are you? What are you eating? What’s in your mouth? Are you peeing in the house?” I never thought I would ask the question “what’s in your mouth” so many times in one day. Sometimes it’s a leaf, sometimes it’s bunny poop, sometimes it’s a cigarette butt – and that’s the grossest thing  – I’ve noticed how many people in my neighborhood smoke and then just toss the butts into the yard. DON’T THEY KNOW THAT DOGS WALK BY AND EAT THEM?! Got a little wild – sorry about that. Helicopter mom over here.

I love these little loves SO MUCH – but it’s SO NICE when I get some respite care on the weekends. Hopefully in the next couple months this travel will be cut down to being out of town Tuesday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday. Which will be amazing for MULTIPLE reasons. Reason number one – this has been ongoing travel for OVER A YEAR which was supposed to be a 6 month project. Reason number two – mama can get out of the house for more than an hour at a time to get stuff done and see people (sorry friends if I’ve been non-attending things lately… I feel a little guilty leaving the babies at home after they’ve been alone all day.) Reason number three – I get lonely during the week and wish my person were there with me every night. I’d like to eat less leftovers and make more dinners for two. I’d like to go on weeknight bike rides (oh yeah – we got bikes too) and yoga together. I’d also like to have relaxing weekends instead of trying to cram everything we want to do together into 2.5 days. Sigh.

I’m slowly working myself back into a routine – waking up earlier, going to bed a little later… going on lots of walks and sometimes running sprints up and down the street to tire the little bear out before bed. Sometimes I get woken up at midnight for a quick potty break – other times it’s 3 in the morning. 5 am days happen often – and when 6 am days happen I (almost) wish it were a 5 am day so I could get more done in the mornings. 9:30 pm hits and both babies are ready for bed. And it’s wonderful. Even though I would often crawl into bed before the sun went down and read for an hour before falling asleep… that hasn’t happened in WEEKS. Can’t go to bed at 8 when the pup gets zoomies at 8:45. Speaking of zoomies – these are hilarious. SPRINTS around the house. It’s too cute.

Slowly but surely I’ll be a functioning adult – with a to-do list that gets completed, workouts that are finished, a puppy that goes to bed and sleeps through the night and doesn’t pee in the house or chomp on my arm, and a kitten who will always be my first baby and who will continue to tolerate his brother and maybe one day become best friends with. I’ll spend weeknights with my love, try new recipes, go on long bike rides and calming yoga practices, and relearn what it’s like to spend every night together, rather than just three nights. (I forget about the snoring you guys…) Kidding – mostly.

Although I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I promise to come back with more recipe hits (and misses), puppy pictures, house and DIY updates, and some new adventures. Hugs and kisses you guys… thanks for baring with me during my brief moments of radio silence.

mercury in retrograde vs full moon vs off day

Serious question you guys. Is Mercury still in retrograde? I’ll be honest – I really have no idea what that means, but I feel like it FEELS like something is messed up. The last couple days have just been SHENANIGANS. And I’ve just felt OFF. I had an awesome Saturday at BrewFest – drinking all the beers – and then ended the night at the first Food Truck Throwdown at the Social Club. Hella fun. I ate good food, drank (mostly) great beer, and got to bed before 10 pm. So then Sunday I expected to be similar – WRONG.

I found some recipes last week and wanted to try them over the weekend – #shoutout to Ali from GimmeSomeOven and Juli from paleOMG for restoring my love of pesto – so Friday night I totally dominated some Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. AMAZING. I had it for lunch again today and it was still amazing. Sunday morning I had BIG plans for brunch. Pesto Chicken and Sweet Potato Breakfast Bake. It tastes just as good as it reads. So rather than slicing the sweet potato thin (a la the recipe), I decided to use my Paderno and spiralize that bad boy because WHY NOT. Except I struggled HARD to make it work. I used the blade to make super thick noodles so it would be similar to the thin potato slices. But sweet potatoes are meaty, tough suckers and it just wasn’t working. So while I cleaned off the blade and tried to get a big chunk out so it would actually spiralize, my thumb about got sliced OFF. Not completely – but it still sucked. And it’s right by my nail so it’s hard to do other things with this MASSIVE INJURY. (Over dramatic. My apologies.) So while half the sweet potato turned into sweet patoodles, the other half needed to be sliced. All went well until the very end when my hand slipped and the meaty part of my hand got (barely) stabbed by the knife. No blood, no foul – BUT IT HURTS. Still. After the dual injuries, breakfast still ended up HELLA GOOD and there are plenty of leftovers for the week – BUT STILL.

The laundry got done, food was prepped, and the house was WIDE OPEN to let the gorgeous weather inside. But that also meant that the slightly broken screen door would let a Big Orange out. This guy has no claws – and doesn’t really like the grass. HOWEVER. He does like chewing on the grass and plants. So I planned on putting his leash on (he hates it so much) and we could hang outside for the afternoon but he was having none of it. Blah. So I thought I should work on my (already beginning) farmer’s tan and put on my swimsuit and grabbed a new book to read outside. Even though it was only 70 degrees, that sun felt AMAZING. A tiny tan line showed up after 45 minutes so I’ll call that a win. It was time to start dinner so I found a recipe for a bubble breakfast bake – clearly “breakfast” and “bakes” were on my mind all day long. I’m not even mad about it.

While the maple sausage was cooking, I went through and quartered the biscuits and put them in a bowl. Now remember how I mentioned that whole “Mercury in retrograde” thing? Here’s where it comes back. Rather than letting the sausage cool down for a while prior to either mixing it with the biscuits or just pouring it on top while it was already spread out in the pan, I literally dumped the meat DIRECTLY FROM THE PAN onto the biscuits. Now if you think about this – you can just picture the biscuits immediately squishing into a dough glob covered in meat sprinkles. That is not a pretty sight. Lots of f-bombs were dropped during this “woops” moment. Then the eggs got mixed up along with the cheese – a dozen eggs and a bag of shredded cheese – which in hindsight (again) was probably a little too much. Meh. You live and you learn amirite? I switched the meat-sprinkled dough blob to a smaller pan and dumped in the cheese and egg mix. This BARELY fit into the smaller pan. But I just wasn’t up to pouring EVERYTHING into a bigger pan. I don’t think I could handle that. ANYWAY. The meat-sprinkle dough blob bake turned out delicious – and nothing overflowed onto the bottom of the oven. Again. A win-win. Holla.

Sunday nights always make me sad because I know that 4 am comes WAY too soon for the traveling man to hit the road. But last night you guys. UGH. About 2:30 this morning I am JOLTED awake by the sound of a cat coughing. Nothing wakes you up faster than the sound of your brand new comforter ALMOST having a barf pile on it with the lights out. So with a half-asleep arm, Big Orange got pushed off the bed but he kept coughing. Nothing came up – that I’ve found anyway – so I went back to bed. And apparently my brain thought the barf-alarm was an ACTUAL alarm so I laid there, wide awake, thinking about everything I needed to do during the day. LAME. Then another 30 minutes later, I hear a few sniffles and than an f-bomb. Bloody nose. So now I’m more awake to make sure there’s no blood on the freshly washed white sheets. There was. So they got hand washed. Okay cool – so now it’s like 3:30 and the alarm is going off in 30 minutes. AND THEN – like probably 97% of you, I got a HELLA LOUD Amber Alert on my phone. Terrifying. And then before you know it, the 4 am alarm is going off. I tried staying in bed and sleeping, but I was probably awake until 5:30 – with my alarm set for 6:00. COME ON. And today was a day I NEEDED to be at work early. Like “leave my house at 7 am” early. Mondaze. For real. I don’t think I stopped moving from the moment I got to the office from the time I left.

But now that I’m home, things are back to normal-ish. I made myself a fancy dinner of popcorn and Coors Light and had my barf-alarm snuggle me as if to apologize for waking me up early. I assume that’s what he’s saying anyway. SO. Tomorrow is a new day. I plan on getting to bed early and waking up fairly early so I can get some HIIT workouts in before I head to work. Assuming the weather holds out, we’ll have volleyball tomorrow night – for the first time in like A MONTH – and I will be home again and in bed prior to 9. Just the way I like it on a weeknight. Let’s be real – any night.

Dear Mercury, please GTFO of retrograde (if that’s actually happening) so my days can get back to normal. Thank youuuuuu.

wear sunscreen.

This dreary Monday made me not want to get out of bed AT ALL today. I also didn’t want to go to work because there are still boxes that need to be unpacked and moved in from the garage. I know I don’t NEED to get everything done and put away today… but I’d rather just get it done as soon as possible rather than wait. But the best part is – we are finally moved into our new AMAZING place!!

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We closed Friday morning after a big breakfast at the Waveland Café. We attempted to run errands for the random miscellaneous things we’d need for our move – but got distracted and ended up having to run those errands Saturday morning. We grabbed a quick lunch at George the Chili King (while also watching reruns of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode they’re featured in) and I headed home to shower before heading to Cedar Falls to watch my baby sister graduate with her MASTERS DEGREE from UNI. So proud!! I didn’t get home till after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning and was surprised to see our bedroom furniture all out in the kitchen. At least I didn’t kick anything. We spent our last night in the apartment sleeping on our mattress on the floor – much like we spent the very first night in our apartment. Aww memories.

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Saturday morning we got up EARLY to get down to the Farmer’s Market to fuel up for the move. Giant iced coffees from Java Joe’s and a breakfast burrito from the Farm Boy’s stand and we were SET.

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We headed to Target (where we got there before they even opened – there’s a first time for everything!) and then a quick trip to Menard’s. We got a call letting us know that the previous owners were out of our place and wanted to make sure they didn’t need to call a locksmith since all the keys were inside. (Yikes!!) We got there to see an unlocked door and a SPOTLESS place. We wandered around flipping on lights, opening drawers and cabinets, and testing out the sinks to find the slow-draining culprit. And now it was OURS. We left and headed to the UHaul to pick up our truck – and barely got the 17’ truck we needed. It’s good we went early. We made it to Homemakers early to pick up our table and chairs, side table and night stand and then made it back to our apartment around 10:30. Let the move begin!!

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We had AWESOME helpers that made this the smoothest move I’ve ever had. Ninth move is the charm, amirite?? With one OVERFLOWING truck we headed over to Meadow Court to start unloading. Basically everything but the furniture went into the garage – and the rest of it went into the house. Like I said before – WHERE does all the STUFF come from?! We grabbed some pizza from Casey’s down the road – way too convenient to get my taco pizza fix – and then sent everyone home. We didn’t make it to the afternoon wedding as we were still loading up a bunch of stuff from the apartment – but some friendly helpers dropped by with some food from the reception for us to eat. We introduced one of our amazing movers to our new watering hole – the County Line Tap – and then came back to begin the unpacking and putting together of furniture process. My handyman got our kitchen table and chairs put together and I am completely IN LOVE with it. I knew we both liked it in the store but it turned out so much better than I could have ever thought. Now we’re just in the process of searching for rugs and décor. Because details. I also got the majority of our kitchen put together – which is a huge load off my shoulders – because now I can actually start cooking again! And I was also amazingly proud of my Tupperware cupboard… because you can never have too much. Hopefully it stays neat and organized for longer than a week!

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Saturday night we were in bed by probably 9:30-10 but we both woke up multiple times during the night. This is something we’ve been used to over the past 15 months – because people would be in the hot tub or pool at 3 am, or we’d hear ambulances flying by to get to the hospital down the street, or random YELLING at all times of the night from people getting home from the bars. But it was different – because it was so QUIET. I mean we can still hear the hum from the highway, but the sounds of the outskirts of town are much quieter than living just outside of downtown. So rather than the sound of hustle and bustle, we were woken up by the sound of silence. It was awesome.

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Sunday was spent cleaning the old apartment – SO GLAD to be out of that place and away from our terrible landlord – making lists for all the random stuff we needed to buy and do before we got too far into unpacking, and of course – unpacking. The bedroom is all put together (pictures to come once it’s actually been decorated), the bookshelves need to be loaded, our side table needs to be stocked with our barware, some of our clothes still need to be taken upstairs – but it’s actually starting to feel like HOME. And this morning it REALLY felt like home when some of my coffee sloshed over and spilled on the garage floor. Just marking my territory, if you will.

Toby is having some adjustment issues – as I assumed he would. Saturday he was just OVER IT and spent the majority of the night passed out on the couch. He’s got stairs to run up and down now which is different from basically every single place he’s ever lived. When I moved back in with my parents a few times in college and after, there were stairs for him there – but he spent a lot of time upstairs. He’s also been jumping on top of EVERYTHING – which is annoying and also hilarious.       Mostly because he’s getting his “ups” back – rather than just being a lazy turd all over the house. Yesterday we came home multiple times and he had been sleeping on top of the mantle behind the TV. Yeah no – that’s not going to work buddy. Silly kitten.

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This morning was my first commute from almost into the next county south – so I wasn’t sure how it would go. We live less than a mile from the bypass entrance so getting there would be no problem, I just wasn’t sure how it would be once I made it out to West Des Moines. I used to make this drive when I lived in West Des Moines and drove to the southside for work – now it’s just a little backwards. But this commute was BY FAR the best drive in to work that I’ve had in a long time. Normally I drive along 235 and people are driving like ass holes – and I even have the better of the two drives along 235 because I’d be driving FROM downtown TO the westside, as opposed to everyone else who was driving FROM the westside TO downtown. But people were always cutting me off, flying by, there were always accidents or cops pulling people over – it was just a major stressor each morning for me. But today – I was amazingly calm when I got into work. Everyone drove the same speed the whole way, people were cautious around other drivers, no one cut anyone off – and also I heard Baz Luhrmann’s “Wear Sunscreen” on my way in. I haven’t heard this song in literally YEARS – and hearing it this morning made me smile. It was like I had this new chapter of my life beginning – but it all started out with a song from my past. And it was glorious. I’m hoping this day goes by quickly so I can start putting together my home. I’d love to have boxes cleared out by the time my HOMEOWNER – not just roomie anymore – gets back from Cedar Rapids on Friday. I’m sure he’d enjoy that nice surprise. We’ll see how many boxes I can get through. Or maybe instead of doing any of this – I’ll just pour myself a glass (bottle) of wine, run myself a nice bath and watch Netflix the rest of the night. The options are simply endless.

Lists: DO ALL THE THINGS.

You guys know I love me a good list. And I’ve got lists for EVERYTHING. Books to read, recipes to try, blogs to look through – and my newest, and most time-consuming list – things to do before we move. Yes THAT list. It’s so amazingly overwhelming. You’d think I’d be used to it now considering this will be the 9th place I’ve lived since graduating from high school. I should be GOOD at moving by now. But I really just hate it SO MUCH.

Currently in my notebook that I carry with me everywhere, I’ve got three weeks-worth of weekly lists of things to do, I have a “wish list” of things to buy for our new place, a general moving list of what we have to do before we go, a weekend to-do list and a checklist with timeline for the actual moving DAY. And this is stressing me OUT. I counted last night – so far I’ve got 36 boxes packed. And I’m not done. LIKE HOW. After a mass Snapchat last night, I got the response “I feel like you’ve been moving for two months.” And I seriously don’t disagree. Moving is the worst. I started early so I wouldn’t feel rushed. And wouldn’t you know it – moving day is FASTLY approaching and here I am – not done, and feeling rushed. It probably didn’t help that last week I felt like GARBAGE with a spring cold – so zero things on zero of my lists got done. Blurg. Some stuff I obviously can’t pack yet – like clothes. I mean – I’ll probably need those between now and Saturday. I am SO CLOSE to getting my kitchen packed up (THE WORST) and my plan is to have that done tonight. Once I clean out the fridge – like deep clean the shelves and such, run the dishwasher one more time, wipe down inside the cabinets and dust down the top of the cabinets, THEN I’ll be done with the kitchen. But until then – it’s just in SHAMBLES.

I think Monday morning is when it really kicked in that we were moving THIS WEEK. I sent off the roommate to Chicago for work this week early Monday morning, and that night I had a mild anxiety attack. I had SO MUCH STUFF still in the cupboards in my kitchen, empty boxes all over the place, and we were having people at our place Saturday morning to move all this stuff. And you KNOW there’s nothing worse than showing up to help someone move and having their stuff not even be fully PACKED yet. I wouldn’t do that to my friends. That’s just the worst. So I took a nap Monday after work (it’s come down to THAT, you guys. For real.) and then packed up quite a bit of kitchen things. I ran the dishwasher and started some laundry. Then took a break for a couple episodes of Mad Men, sent my Don Draper lover on her way, and went to bed. Last night is when things REALLY got taken care of.

I felt surprisingly GOOD today when I woke up. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have SO MUCH left to do prior to Saturday, but knowing that your kitchen gadgets are all packed up is SUPER helpful. Why is the kitchen the WORST to pack? Like – where did all the STUFF come from. Do I have a Stuff Fairy floating around just putting THINGS all over my house for me to pack up? It’s outrageous. I don’t even want to think about the amount of stuff that we will acquire in this new place over the next few YEARS. That makes me anxious just thinking about it.

I’ve got sand volleyball tonight, and before and after those sandy shenanigans I’ve got a list DOWN TO THE MINUTE for things to do tonight. Get home from work. Put bathroom rugs in the washer. Run dishwasher. Vacuum rug and roll up. Put rugs in dryer. Put towels in washer. Put food from the fridge in bags to grab out on Saturday. Same with the freezer. DEEP CLEAN DISGUSTING FRIDGE. Put canned foods in boxes. Put towels in the dryer. Kick ass at volleyball. Come home and enjoy a shower beer. (Shower beers are coming back you guys.) Go. To. Bed.

Tomorrow I’m in a seminar all day for HR Law – tomorrow afternoon I’m planning on hitting up a yoga class before coming home to pack up some clothes. The roomie gets home around 9 tomorrow night, and he will either want to go straight to sleep, or be awake for the next 4 hours. There really is no in between. Friday morning CLOSING happens bright and early – Friday afternoon I head to Cedar Falls to watch my baby sister graduate with her Master’s Degree. We get back late Friday night, and then before I know it – MOVING DAY is here. And we will be out of our apartment and into our new amazing place. Gah it’s here. I can’t believe it. It’s finally here.

more love letters

You guys. I fell in love. Just this weekend. I mean I am already in love with someone – but this thing, these WORDS – I fell in love again.

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I’m talking about a book. About a month ago, I stumbled across something on Instagram and was immediately intrigued. It was a picture of the book If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher. I’ll admit – I am absolutely one of those people who judges books by their cover – and this one got me. It looked handwritten on notebook paper, with swirly cursive and an explanation of her journey. I searched Amazon and Google to see what this was about – and then followed my search to her website – More Love Letters.

Do you ever get that feeling that you found something you were meant to do? Something you NEED to do? Something that makes you happy the minute you begin? That’s what I felt about this. More Love Letters is a site dedicated to writing love letters to strangers. Not anything like you see on Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” (although there’s a bit of the book dedicated to that) but more along the lines of “I see your struggle – it gets better. You matter. You are beautiful.” I was immediately sucked in. I bought the book, watched Hannah’s TED talk, and went to Target and bought as much stationary as I could find that said anything but “thank you.” I wanted to be a part of this movement.

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And so I started writing. I wrote love letters to strangers. I’ve written and mailed letters to people I’ve never met – and will probably never meet – because this movement, this IDEA, spoke to my soul. I haven’t had many things in my life speak so loudly to me as this did. I’ve left letters in library books, in lockers at the yoga studio, and in booths at coffee shops. I left a couple at the airport in Denver yesterday because sometimes it’s nice to spread your love outside your home zip code.

I brought the book with me while I traveled this weekend and told myself I wouldn’t read it all in one sitting – because this book made me “feel all the feels.” But for those of you who devour books as quickly and often as I do, sometimes find it hard to slow down and not read it all at once. This was one of those books. I’d read a couple chapters when I first got it, and then put it down to begin writing. After I sat down with it over the weekend, I put it down only to eat dinner, take notes and wipe my tears. I told a few people that night that I have never fallen so hard or SO FAST for a book in a long time. I’m talking probably years. Sometimes a book finds you at just the right time in your life – and the words speak to you so LOUDLY that you can’t stop until it has ripped into your heart and made you cry tears that you didn’t know you needed to shed.

These tears were happy tears – EXCRUCIATINGLY happy tears. After reading everything that Hannah went through to get where she was, I knew this was something I wanted to continue to spread. This also made me want to smile so hard at everyone I knew – and everyone I had yet to meet. Smiling at someone while walking down the street or through the mall or into a yoga class can literally make someone’s day. How easy is that. And then finding a note addressed to you – whoever YOU are – can make people want to pay it forward with a smile. Or a letter. Or a hug.

“Do small things. On repeat. And think about others.” 

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I can’t even tell you how much I want to reread this book already. I want to meet Hannah – shake her hand, give her a hug, and thank her for opening my eyes to this. For making me realize just how simple a smile or a hug or a note can be to a person’s day or week or LIFE. Hannah knew she wanted to change the world – and while she sat at a coffee shop, writing a letter to someone she didn’t know to give them hope for a better tomorrow, she did.

Words are a funny thing. They can make you happy, sad, angry, upset, emotional, knowledgeable. Words can hurt people, make them stronger, make them laugh or even cry. Your words – your written words – can make someone realize that their life will get better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow. Maybe not even next week or month – but it WILL get better.

“I want to believe it all comes down to truth. And if you’ve ever loved someone in a way where it seems the oxygen is rushing out of the room when they walk in, then you know certain truths. Certain unchangeable truths about love: You want to give them everything in your world. And you want to give them everything outside of your orbit. And if they need the morning to come, you want to be that morning for them. And if they need the stars, you want to be those fragments of light too.And you just want to sit by them. And you just want to know they’re doing well. And you just want to witness their greatness, the moment they’re finally shining out. You want to be right there next to them for that. And you want that honor of being in their life.”

I want to write more… but I keep rambling about just how much I love this book. I never want to stop talking about this book and how happy it made me. I want to go home after work and start reading it again so I can feel all the feels and smile and cry and feel my heart grow ten times its’ size – Grinch style. And if you get the chance, please check out Hannah’s website so you can feel all the feels with me. And maybe send out a note to someone who needs a little extra love in their life. Even if you don’t know them.

one breath. one movement.

Last week I went to yoga with the intention to breathe.

I mean obviously I would BREATHE, how else would I be alive? But I meant “breathe” as in to just concentrate on my breath. There are times when I go through a flow, just going through the motions without feeling how my body feels when I use my breath to get me through postures. It’s an awakening feeling to see how much deeper you’re able to get into certain poses if you breathe into them. So I was ready to breathe when I came to my mat – and as we got started, there was no music. The sound system wasn’t working, so rather than becoming flustered and trying to decide what to do so we had music available, my instructor went with it. We spent the next sixty moments, just breathing. It was quiet and odd at first, but as we got going the music and rhythm of my own breath opened my heart. She spoke of letting the silence take over, of being uncomfortable for a while and then to just go with it. How our minds are sometimes so loud, that we can’t even hear what is happening in our own hearts. My mind has never been so focused during a practice than when I had nothing but my breath to focus on. Silence and breath was what I most needed at that time – when I was able to clear my mind, and focus solely on myself. My movements. My breath.

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I came out of class with “yoga brain” – my most favorite feeling of all. It’s that feeling of clarity – when you don’t have a thousand things running through your mind, all at the same time, going a million miles an hour. What you forgot to do at work. What you’re going to eat for dinner. Who you need to call. What book you need to pick up from the library. What you looked like going for a run. Who rolled their eyes at you after something you said. None of that was there. I had a smile on my face, a calmness in my mind, and an awareness that where I am, is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Saturday morning brought forth a different kind of insight for me. While earlier in the week I had focused on my breath and silence, on Saturday my focus was to be done without sight. Our topic of community was “why you go to yoga.” Personally, I go for many reasons. I go for the workout, the comfort, the calm. I go to yoga knowing that when I come out of savasana and recite “Namaste” with the rest of my class, I know that that is probably the best I will feel all day. I’ll have a perma-smile, yoga brain, and an upbeat attitude that will last me for a long time. So after this discussion, we came back to our mats and were told to close our eyes. Our intention today was to feel. To feel what our body was telling us – without having our eyes open. And so I did. I spent the next sixty moments (mostly) flowing with my eyes shut. The balance was difficult at times, but it took my focus off of what other people were doing, how their posture looked compared to mine, and made me FEEL how my body was in each posture. I’d kept my eyes closed in classes before, but not for the entire class. It felt nice to feel what my body was doing, rather than checking in the mirror or my fellow yogis to SEE what they were doing. It felt great – and again, I came out with yoga brain. And again, I felt like I was where I was supposed to be with myself.

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The idea of “black light yoga” was brought up to me a couple years ago during the roommate’s teacher training – how he would bring in black lights and highlighters and everyone would wear white, and we would flow. Though the idea never came to fruition with him, it has no sparked ideas throughout the community. Last night was my first experience of Glow with the Flow – a black light yoga class. We – along with 150 of our closest friends – met up at the Des Moines Social Club for the inaugural Glow with the Flow practice. We set our mats down and got in line to get painted. It was wonderful. And the group was so eclectic – there were faces I’d seen many times at PLY, many I’d seen around town, and so many others whom I’d never seen before. And this was the place of community. We started out sharing our good vibes with those around us – sharing hugs and introducing ourselves to our neighbors. Hugs from strangers are sometimes the best hug you’ll feel for months. (I, however, receive the best hugs on a daily basis. Because my roommate gives the best strong, heartfelt, loving hugs around. Maybe I’m biased… but maybe I’m not.) Nahko’s lyrics and Good Vibes brought us through these deliberate movements to open our hearts and our minds. More hugs from strangers, more flow, more smiles and good vibes. What a great way to close out the night.

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“Whatever you are doing – wherever you are… whether it’s good or bad… you are right where you are supposed to be.”  

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I’ve had very emotional reactions to my practices lately – I don’t know if it’s because I am more aware of what my body is doing, where my breath is going, or if my focus has simply altered. I am no longer focusing or looking at what others are doing – I am more in charge of myself. What my body is doing – where my breath is going. It’s not selfish – it’s mindful. I am being mindful of myself rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing. What they do – doesn’t affect me. Their life isn’t going to make me a better person, so why spend time and energy on what others are doing? This time in my life should be focused on making ME – anything and everything that I can be. Not just this time of my life – every DAY of my life. Because this life is the only one I have, and I am the only one who can make it great.