stand tall and take the risk

take the risk

It was a single moment where nothing changed, yet my entire world shifted.  Yes one single moment can do that.  One single unexpected moment.  Where you simply show up.  You have no grand expectations, hopes or desires.  You are doing what you know needs to be done.  In fact you are mustering up the courage to get it done.  

And then it happens.  A friendly hello, one single smile.  And life as you knew is changed forever. What next step do you take when you don't know where you are going but know you have to go somewhere?  What micro movement helps you figure it out?  What path leads you closest to what your heart desires?

You want to risk it all.  Because this is life, and if you never try you never know.  You have always lived life as a risk taker.  Jumping into the uncharted waters.  There have been times you almost drowned, but you always have found your way back to the top.  You are a stronger swimmer now than you ever were before.  Confident in your strokes.  Ready to jump in head first.  

You understand the enormity of the choices you make.  You know that you are the one carving your own path.  What if you take the risk and it is exactly what your heart desired?  What if you take the risk and it was nothing like you expected?  This is the beauty of risk taking.  The great unknown that lies before you.  You must trust your own heart before you take the leap.  You must be willing to fail.  

And so you risk.  You leap.  You say yes because that is what your heart is calling.  And you end up right here.  Some moments it feels like exactly where you are supposed to be and other times you aren't sure where you even are.  This is life.  An ebb and flow of emotion.  It pushes you to your limits and reminds you of how far you have come.  You must be willing to go all in, always.  You must be willing to let go of expectations and trust that you will end up exactly where you were meant to be.  

So take the leap.  Risk the fall.  And see how high you can fly.  

be your own best friend

Why is it that we can be so much kinder to others than we are to ourselves?

If your friend arrived at your door with her heart broken you would invite her in, give her a comfy place to sit, and make her a glass of tea.  You would give her space to tell her story.  You would be a shoulder to lean on.  You would sit besides her and let her know that you are there.  You wouldn't rush her to get back up.  You would give her a place to rest and be.

Yet when you arrive at your own door with your heart in your hands you knock yourself over.  With a large list of expectations you push yourself to get back up sooner than you are ready.  You are demanding on yourself never giving yourself time to heal and rest.  Yet this is exactly what your mind and body need.  

You need to treat yourself like you would your best friend.  Be kind, tender, loving.  Allow yourself space to feel all the feels.  Do not try to rush through to the next emotion, just be where you are, and be ok with that.  Pour yourself a cup of tea.  Crawl into bed.  Do whatever it is that makes you happy.  Feed our soul with love.  

You deserve to shower yourself with kindness. Do you not hold back.  Feel the love and be the kind of friend you want to have.  

share kindness

Share kindness, always
Not only with those around you
But with yourself
It is easier to be kind to others
But you deserve love
You deserve to not be so hard on yourself
Grant yourself space to breathe
To be
To show up without judgement or criticism
I know
It's not easy
But it is what your soul needs
Do not feel foolish when you shower yourself with love
Open up the water and let it all pour out
Take time to look at yourself in the mirror
And love the person looking back at you
Remember how far you have traveled
Recognize how hard you try
You my dear are so much stronger than you know
Feel your strength
Breath in your beauty
Know that you are following your own path
Fill your soul with kindness
Infuse it in your heart
Remember, you are deeply loved
Be kind to yourself

{Inspired by the second prompt for the Love Notes Postcard Project}

hello beautiful!

Hello Beautiful,

There is so much I want you to know.  Like how proud I am of you and how deeply I adore your wide open heart.  You shine a light in this world like no other and I am grateful to be within it's rays.  

I honor the journey you have traveled.  How grateful I am to have had the opportunity to watch you grow.  I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.  

I see your strength.
I see how hard you try.
I see the way you show up.

You are determined.  You chase after your dreams with wild abandon even when you do not know where you will end up.  You lean deeply in and follow your heart.  You take risks and jump into the great unknown. You are braver than you ever give yourself credit for.  

Stop for a moment and look around.  Did you ever think you would end up here?  So deeply loved.  In a kind and caring relationship.  Unearthing your passions.  Adored by your nieces and nephews and spending so much divine time with family.  You have really come so far.  

I know, I know.  There is so many more roads you are looking to travel.  I understand that and appreciate your hunger.  But do not allow that hunger to blind you from all that you have accomplished and all that you have made it through.  

Your patient and tender heart encourages others to open up their own hearts.  Your calm and gentle soul slows people down and reminds them to savor the moment.  Do not ever stop being who you are.  Embrace your quietness.  You connect with others through your thoughtful words.  Know that you never have to pretend to be somebody else.  

I love you.  I cherish your curiosity and passion for adventure.  Keep running.  Keep riding.  Keep moving your body and navigating your own path forward.  You know as much as I do that you were never meant for the conventional path.  It just isn't in you, and that is ok.  What is wonderful is that others see that in you.  They know that you shine your brightest when you step boldly into yourself.  Keep stepping into yourself, always.  

And remember you are loved.  So deeply loved.  

xoxo Love,
Your Biggest Fan!

{Inspired by the Love Notes Postcard Project first writing prompt.  I encourage you to write a love letter to yourself.  Begin with the words .. "hello beautiful" and love on yourself deeply!}

charting the unknown waters

Lately I have been swimming in this sea of uncharted waters.  There are moments when I feel as if I am drowning.  It is like I have forgotten how to swim and need to re-learn each of the strokes.  The shore feels incredibly far away and I don't know if I will ever reach it.

The steady crash of the waves has me feeling disoriented as the tide pulls me further out to sea.  I am trying to find the strength within me to stay afloat but I am defeated.  This beautiful ocean is an incredible life force.  

All I can do is surrender.  

I feel as if I am waiting for my real life to begin.  The life I dream of.  The one that I scribble about between the pages of my journal.  The life that my heart deeply desires.  I crave this life and deep in my soul know it is the one I am meant to be living.  

Yet here I am in the middle of the ocean, losing site of the horizon.  Fearful of swimming to shore because it is a big and bold move forward.  In order to swim I need to believe in myself.  I need to know that I am deserving of my dreams.  That my voice is meant to be heard.  That there is room enough in this world for what I want to offer.  

I can see it.  I can feel it.  I know that it is the right direction for me.  I just need to be brave enough to leap.  I need invest in myself fully.  Ditch the "what if it doesn't work out" thoughts and simply see what is possible.  

I must to take the chance.  

Now more than ever I need to show up for myself.  I do not know how many days I have left on this earth.  Life can be taken in the blink of any eye.  One day we are going about our daily business and the next day we could be gone.  And we never know when that day will be.  If I continue to delay going after my dreams I may run out of time.  

I don't want to run out of time.  I must begin.  

I know I have said it before time and time again, but this moment feels different.  This ocean I am swimming in is terrifying and it is forcing me to be brave.  I will re-learn how to swim. I will find my way to a new shore and I won't give up even if it takes awhile to get there.  Because what I dream of is my destiny and only I can create it.  

And so I begin swimming

love notes is back with special guest Mindy Tsonas

The Love Notes Postcard Project is back and I am thrilled to announce that we have a very special guest!  Mindy Tsonas with Embody Love Movement will be providing the weekly writing prompts.  I received a peak and they are so good.  I can't wait to share them with you!  We begin July 9th, sign up today!

Embody Love Movement is a global non-profit organization founded by Dr. Melody Moore, created to empower girls and women to celebrate their unique inner beauty and push back against harmful media standards, commit to kindness and contribute to meaningful change in the world!  ELM offers in-person workshops, events, and online experiences and education, dedicated to helping each of us discover our real beauty within.  

I feel that this is the perfect collaboration because Love Notes is all about spreading kindness and lifting up each others spirits.  We do this through handwritten notes in the mail.  You never know the true effect that your words will have on the recipient but I can guarantee they most definitely make them smile.    

Mindy Tsonas is the creator of Studiofemme, an Embodied Artist, and certified Embody Love Facilitator.  She helps to guide women into the extraordinary Wonderland of themselves.  Through juicy creative pursuits and honest explorations, her calling is to inspire others to shake loose and get naked in empowered, exquisite truth, to name and claim all aspects of who they are, and un-shame every desire.  She is also an avid Love Notes participant.  

What is Love Notes?

Love Notes is a free three week project where individuals are paired up with one another to exchange hand written postcards.  Don't worry if you do not have postcards, note cards are fine.  Some people even create their own.  There are no hard and fast rules as long as it is a little something you can send through the mail.   

Worried about what you are going to write?  I got you covered!  Each Sunday a writing prompt will go out to provide you with a jumping off point for what to write on your postcard.  As I said above Mindy's prompts are divine and I just know you are going to love them!  

This is the 20th installment of this project and I could not be more excited to begin.  Friendships have formed and mail continues to be exchanged long after each round is finished due to the extraordinary individuals who participate in the project.  

Looking to learn more?  Click here or pop on over to the Facebook Group.  Have a question?  Drop me a note at jennifer@jenniferbelthoff.com.  

This round is going to be so good!  

showing up for yourself

Next week I kept saying to myself over and over again.  Next week I will begin.  Next week I will get back into the groove.  Yet that time came and went and I continued down the very same path I was traveling.  The one I no longer wanted to be on.  

Next week I said again, next week.  

And here we are in that moment of time and I am pushing myself to step forward.  To choose movement, gratitude, journaling, meditation, nourishing my soul, and showing up with love. Because there is no reason to wait a second longer.  It is time to be in the present moment, today.  

I know that I all my grand plans won't work out the way I dream they will.  There will be slip ups and moments where I veer off course.  But even if some things slip through the cracks that does not mean that all is lost.  I must simply pick up from where I am and keep stepping forward.  

Life is a beautiful ebb and flow.  

There is no such thing as perfection.  Only an opportunity to be right where I am.  And so I begin right here.  Carving time out for myself.  Making my desires and needs a priority.  Accepting the messiness that comes along with it and savoring every moment. 

How about you?  How are you showing up for yourself?  

 

one foot in front of the other

Stand tall in who you are
In all your glory and all your downfalls
Know that you do not always have to get it right
Sometimes you will stumble
Veer off course
Go the wrong way
You might even reach a dead end
It's ok
Life isn't perfect
It never is, and never will be
There will be ups, and downs
Along the way you will learn how to navigate your own course
With each step you take
Each moment you encounter
Hold onto laughter
For it is laughter that truly is the best medicine
In the hard times when it is difficult to come by you will need it most
Do not push it away
Embrace it and allow your body to feel it's joy
Because even in moments of deep dark sadness it is ok to laugh
So put your shoulders back
Hold your head up high
Know that your mistakes do not define you
You are beautiful just the way you are
Continue putting one foot in front of the other
As you create the most epic life that you want to live

the story keepers

We were talking about how I used to suck my thumb when I was younger {not sure why, but we were}.  "I did it for a really long time" I said.  "How long" he asked?   And I didn't know the answer.  I just always remember my mom telling me that it was a long time.  Longer than I ever should have been.  

Moms are the keeper of the stories.  

They know how old you were when you learned to ride a bike.  They know where they were standing when you were running up the stairs and knocked your two front teeth straight out.  They have all the details of the time you and your brothers rearranged every christmas ornament on the tree and when you were the accomplice when she moved your dads car at the park-n-ride.   

Moms know the stories behind the victories and the scars.

They remember the day she dropped you off at college and how she cried in the car on the way home because you were growing up so fast.  She was there the night your prom date picked you up.  She helped you get your car fixed when you had a fender bender in the parking lot, and cheered you on at every track and cross country meet.  

Recently I was trying to find out my exact birth time and no one in my family knew what it was.  It was then when I realized that so many of my childhood stories live with my mom.  She knew all the details and helped us all sort through the scattered memories we had.  

She used to joke about how I put out every pair of shoes for the Easter Bunny when I was younger.  We were only supposed to leave out one pair and the bunny would drop in a piece of candy, but I pulled them all out and lined them up neatly.  I am not even sure where this tradition came from but I do know if my mom was here today she would have the answer.  She would also know the exact time I was born and be able to tell me story of how it all happened.  I know it involved them being at a halloween party the night before and her waking up with clown make up still on, but that is all I know. Little bits and pieces of memories from when I was small.

The moments you live become embedded on your moms heart forever.  You are an extension of her and she remembers every tear, every smile, every heartbreak.  It is etched onto her heart forever and wherever she goes she carries it with her.  

Today is the two year anniversary of my mom's passing and I am trying to hold onto all the memories.  Laughing as our message in a bottle floated back to us again and again because we couldn't throw it out far enough.  Sitting on the beach chatting.  Arts & craft nights.  That one time she came to visit me and everything changed.  Her thoughtful gifts and home made seashell decorations.  Our trip to Brooklyn.  How proud she was cheering me on for the marathon.  There are so many memories and I do not want to let them fade.  

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Catch all the memories you can if you still have the chance.  Ask to hear the stories over and over so they are forever etched onto your heart.  Listen deeply and jot them down.  And if you don't have the chance to hear them again replay the ones you have and hold them close.  

Life flashes by in the blink of an eye, but it is you memories that remind you of what made you who you are.  Hold onto these memories and savor them deeply.  

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory" ~ unknown

day dream believer

At my third grade parent teacher conference Mr Carestia told my mom that I was a good student  However he could see in class when I drifted off and entered the world of day dreaming.  A glazed look coming across my face, and that was it.  I was checked out.

I have always been a dreamer

I believe that we must dream.  For it is the first step to making anything come true.  Setting the intention and planting the seed.  If we don't think about what it is we want we never know exactly what we desire and therefore can never obtain it.  

My dreams are charted out through vision boards, journal entries, pinterest searches, and moments of quiet when I allow myself space to sit and think. I imagine what it is I truly want, how I will feel when I get it, and who I want to be by my side along the way.

Yet dreaming can only take you so far.  You must be willing to do the work in order to see your dreams come true.  You have to take the steps, follow your hearts desires, and show up.  Yes, your hands will get dirty.  Your heart will break.  You will veer off course.  You will feel like you will never make it.  

There is even a chance your dream won't come true, but you never know until you try.  

You can't expect someone to show up at your door with our dream on a silver platter.  Life just doesn't work that way.  It requires you to take the time and energy needed to make something happen.  It means pushing yourself past your comfort zone and being ok with whatever the outcome, especially when it's not the one you were expecting.  

Lately the dream of writing a book has been nudging me again.  I started a few years back but never made it happen.  But just because I couldn't do it then, does't mean that I can't do it now.  One thing I know for certain is that books don't appear out of thin air.  A lot of hard work and dedication goes into them.  I must show up to the page and grant the words permission to spill out.  I must be dedicated and encourage myself to write, even when I don't feel like it.  Beauty emerges when we push ourselves past our edges.  

What dream is living in your heart?  What one step can you take today to bring yourself a little bit closer to it?  

Show up and say yes to your dream

Choose to carve out the dream that you desire.  Put in the hard work and reap all of it's rewards.  Do not be afraid of failure but rather be afraid of how you will feel if you never give it a try.  

expand your circle

You are larger than the circle that surrounds you
Your friends, family members, co-workers
The barista at your local coffee shop
The cashier you chat with each time you go to the grocery store
Your mailman
Your yoga teacher
Your librarian
All of these people surround you
Creating the daily world you live in
The one you hold close
The one you know like the back of your hand
But beyond that circle there is a world of people ready to great you
Looking forward to meeting you
Wanting to lend a helping hand
The passenger next to you on the plane who opens his heart
The women hosting running retreats in Oregon
The  man sitting in front of you at both the Chicago Cubs and White Sox's games
The friendly voice answering all your health insurance questions
The waitress at the airport lounge
The author who's book you stumbled on
Yes, there is so much more out there than the circle you are surrounded by
You are bigger than your circle
Your heart is capable of stretching wider than you think it can
You can expand
You can grow
You can invite others in
Do not be fearful of what is beyond your comfort zone
Allow yourself space to open up
Smile at strangers
Begin conversations
Know that anything is possible
When you are willing to take a chance
Take the chance to expand your circle
And allow yourself space to shine

one life to live

36 years roaming this planet
13 years serving it up at Chilis
8 years at TRU
6 years together
5 years since moving from my studio apartment
3 years in marketing
2 years back on Franklin Turnpike
2 years since losing my mom
A countless number of miles ridden
6 flights to Aruba
1 cross country adventure
1 time getting lost in the woods
1 bike ride to the lighthouse
5 foxes crossing my path
3 trips to squam lake
2 west coast retreats
1 failed attempt at writing a book
1 yoga teacher certification obtained
15 years of friendship
1 divine moment of intervention
A lifetime of saying yes
An uncountable amount of choosing no
1 burning desire for adventure
1 dream to ride to California on my bicycle
1 move to Pennsylvania
1 chance for a final goodbye
3 seasons doing something I enjoyed
1 sixty mile ride
1 bookstore conversation that changed everything
3 movies that feed my soul
1 pile of books that are my life line
1 lesson learned after another
5 pairs of running shoes in my closet
26 journals filled with words
A countless number of times I fell down, and got back up again
1 library card
1 three dollar and sixty cent fine
1 chance encounter
1 question looming over my head
4 jars filled with feathers
1 ring I always wear
1 place I feel most me
5 four forty five am wake up calls to move my body
10 mins of meditation
2 legs to take me where I want to go
1 dream of seeing the northern lights
2 songs that take me back
A lifetime of memories made
1 desire for more
8 strands of twinkle lights
2440 moments documented
1 mission
Over 250 love note senders
3 bottles tossed into the sea
A countless number of hearts found
1 life being created by the choices I make and the way I show up
Because I only get this one chance, and I am the creator of my destiny
I choose where I am going to go and what I am to do
And so I take this one chance to make the most of it
1 wide open heart, living moment to moment
 

stepping forward

Meet me at the waters edge
Together we will stop time
Even if just for a brief second
As we savor the sound of the oceans tide
Holding hands
And sharing our dreams of what we can become
Carrying with us the stories of the past
Recognizing what we learned
And stepping boldly into this moment
We understand we cannot rewrite what has been done
And we know that neither of us wants to
For it is what has shaped us
Unexpected twist and turns
Detours down unknown roads
A lifetime of learning tucked inside our hearts
We understand it won't be easy
But nothing worth it ever is
What we do know is that we are stepping forward, together
As we look out into the horizon
Our future looks bright
Even though we are uncertain of the details it holds
We know we must take the risk
Leaping into the great unknown
Unprepared for what's to come
Our hearts are filled with hope
Our minds are set on the road ahead
Together we embark on this great adventure called life

how two words can change your life, forever

For as long as I roam around on earth there is a story that will play on repeat in my head.  The story of how two words shattered my heart and changed my life.  This is a tale I never thought I would have to tell.  Yet here I stand, telling it again and again.  

It is two years later and I am still picking up the pieces of that broken heart.  I am trying to put it back together again but like a plate that busted as it hit the floor there are a few missing pieces that can't be found.  You glue the plate back together, but it is never the same.  Yes, it is usable but the cracks are visible and you know you have to be a little extra gentle each time you use it.  

This is how my heart feels.  

You may not be able to see the missing pieces but I can feel them and I know I need to be tender.  Especially in this moments when the memories come flooding back and those two words play over and over again in my mind.  

Stage four

Two words that if spoken separately provoke no concern. but when you string them together everything changes.  Hearts break.  Worlds come crumbling down.  Life as you know it becomes changed forever.  

He and I stood outside the hospital room as the Doctor was talking to my parents and I didn't want to bust in and interrupt.  My mom had been rushed their earlier in the day and we had little details of what was wrong.  She has just battled breast cancer and my initial thought was maybe she wasn't feeling well because of the radiation.  As we stood in the hallway waiting the door of the hospital room closed and my heart sank.  I felt helpless and afraid.  

Waiting for what felt like an eternity my mind quickly ran through every worse case possible scenario.  Yet none of these scenarios prepared me for what I was about to hear.  Stage four.  The cancer has spread to her liver and her lungs.  

I felt as if someone had completely drained the oxygen from my entire body and I was unable to breath.  I stood in front of the one women who protected me my entire life and my immediate instinct was to do whatever I could to protect her.  I did not want her to feel the fear that was swirling inside of me.  I did not want her to know the millions of questions I had no answers to.  I did not want her to see me cry.  I stood there, being as brave as I could concentrating only on the next immediate moment in front of me and not letting my mom see my crumbling heart.  

As we walked outside the hospital I was deflated.  How could this have happened?  A mere few weeks ago we just celebrated her being "cancer free".  What was going on?  I felt exhausted and drained.  

"At least it is stage four" he said. 

I looked at him quizzically.  "Stage four is the worst" I replied.  

And even though it was heartbreaking in that moment it was those two words that made me smile.  I realized that even in the hardest of moments there is love and compassion.  He just wanted to be there for me and make it better.  Even though he knew he couldn't stop the pain he wanted me to know that he was there for me.  As we stood next to each other I knew that I was about to face one of the hardest journey's of my life but I wasn't going to have to do it alone.  Together we would navigate this newly shattered heart.  

what I don't want to forget from She Recovers NYC

This past weekend I attended the She Recovers NYC conference.  When I first saw the posting about it I was immediately drawn to it and my heart said yes.  I did not waste any time contemplating.  I checked the dates and signed up.  Something deep inside was telling me I needed to be there, even though I didn't know why.    

I showed up, alone.  Unsure of what to expect or what I was even getting myself into.  I made a promise to keep my heart open and lean deeply in.  I am grateful for this weekend.  For the moments that unfolded, the words that touched me, and the people that were there.  Before any story slips away I want to jot them down so I can hold onto them forever.  

What I don't want to forget from this weekend is:

  • The way Amy and Jen scooped me up and invited me in.  And how even when we lost track of one another we found each other.    
  • A room full of 500 kick ass women who have been through the ringer and who have chosen to show up, do the work, and stand in their truth and in their light.  There is so much power in this.  
  • Lunch conversation and the incredible women who opened up their hearts and shared their stories with pure honest conviction.  They were not stories of rainbows and butterflies.  They were dark, hard moments.  But they shared the truth of these stories without judgment or shame.  
  •  The moments I rushed back to the hotel room and the moments I allowed myself to slow down and be present with my surrounding.  A reminder to slow down more often.  
  • Seeing people who looked just like someone else I know.  There is something to this.  I just can't put my finger on it yet.  
  • Experiencing two deeply intentional and spiritual yoga classes.  It wasn't about getting physically fit.  It was about getting stronger in your mind, body, and spirit.  I know that this is the type of work that I want to do in the yoga community.  
  • Learning that the details of the story do not matter as much as how you use the pain.    
  • Hearing Elena Brower read words read from Prayers of Honoring by Pixie Lighthorse and see how my circles are really connected.  
  • Getting lost, so very lost.  But finding my way.  
  • And these words

"Your sensitivity is your greatest gift.  It is what you will use to set the world on fire". - Glennon Doyle Melton

"Move beyond the duality of either/or and hold the "and" - Nikki Myers

"Part of going through life with empathy is understanding it is not about you". - Elizabeth Vargas

"It's not up to me what I have to go through.  It's up to me how I handle it". - Gabby Bernstein

Sometimes there is a simple calling, an immediate "yes".  And we dig deep into our hearts and trust that yes even though we have no idea why we are trusting it. That is what this weekend was.  A moment of trusting the "yes".  I am so glad that I did.  As I continue to process I am sure more stories will unfold but I want to leave you with one last thought.  

This journey called life is not a solitary expedition. We are not here to hash through it alone.  First lean deeply into yourself and get to know who you are at the core.  Then reach your hand out and invite others in.  When you share the truth of who you are, you encourage others to do the same and you will see that you are not alone, ever.  

you are not alone

If there is one thing I could tell you in this moment it would be that you are not alone.  I know there are times when it may feel that way.  You think no one understands you and you are on an island.  But here is the thing.  You are not.  

You are not alone

There are individuals who love and adore you.  They are cheering you on.  They want to see you smile.  They care deeply about it.  I know when you are in the thick of it, it is hard to see that they are there.  But they are.  

Do not hesitate to reach out.  They want to help you.  They want to be there for you.  Sometimes people don't know you are going through something until you tell them.  Don't be shy.  Share your heart.  Be vulnerable.  Be brave.  When you do this others see your strength.  They feel your heart.  And they lean deeply in.  

We are all human and we have the same feelings and emotions.  We may not all go through the same experiences, but we understand the feelings.  We know what hurt, disappointment, fear, love, and sadness feels like.  When we see others hurting, we want to help.  

So remember.  You are not alone, ever.  

choosing me

And the time came when you knew that you had to drop all of the balls you were juggling and you had to start taking care of yourself. Because no one else was going to do it for you.  Because now is as good a time as any to start.  Because even when you don't know where or how to begin you simply put one foot in front of the other and take that first step forward.  

It is time for me to show up for myself.  I have been making to many choices that don't feed my soul.  The cold winter months have left me stagnant and I haven't been moving my body as much as it craves and desires.  I know that I need to take time for myself.  I need to choose with intention and develop a new way of living.  

And so I begin.  One foot in front of the other.  Making conscious decisions and choosing with my whole heart.  I have Tone It Up to thank for the push that I needed to get myself into the game.  Their Bikini Series plan came right when I was struggling the most and wasn't sure how to crawl myself out of the rabbit hole.  

But here I am climbing out.  Taking time to shop for healthy foods.  Prepping them ahead of time so I have something to take for lunch and no excuses for not making dinner.  I am back to waking up early and moving my body.  It feels so good to be in motion again.  I am also drinking more water, journling more often, and remembering why I am choosing to live this way.

It's about feeling strong and having more energy.  Looking at myself in the mirror and being able to smile at the girl looking back at me.  It's about pushing myself to my edge and knowing that I can overcome the challenge.  It's about showing up day after day.  Seeing food as fuel and intentionally eating.  It's about setting goals and chasing after them.  It's about life and wanting to take care of this one body that I have.  

This isn't a sprint.  It is a life long journey. For me this journey is about balance and not completely restricting myself from the things I enjoy.  Will I still eat ice cream?  Of course, but not every day.  And will I slip up?  Of course.  I am human.  But that doesn't mean I can't get back up again and keep going on the path I am traveling.  

So here I am.  Choosing to move in the direction that I want to go in.  Taking my life into my hands and making the decisions that are best for me.  I am putting myself first and choosing to love myself on this journey.  I am giving myself space to bloom.  And I am showing up each and every day, for me.  

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How about you?  How are you choosing to show up for yourself?  What ways are you making space for yourself to bloom?

"and the world spins madly on"

My friend recently lost her mom.  Upon hearing the news my heart was filled with so much love for her.  I could relate to that strange feeling where you knew your life was changed forever, yet you couldn't grasp that it was actually true.  

I remember standing in the coffee shop days after learning the severity of my own mom's diagnosis of stage 4 cancer.  The world was spinning madly on and I couldn't understand how that was possible.  Life as I knew it was crumbling around me and yet there were people going about their day to day activity.  Didn't they know that I was on the verge of being changed forever?  Couldn't they see the sadness in my eyes?  Did they not feel the hurt spilling from my heart?  They rushed passed me, not even noticing that I was there.  

When you are in this deep phase of sadness every day task's take an incredible amount of effort to complete.  Before you would wake up and brush your teeth as if you were on autopilot.  But within the grief you need to literally push yourself out of bed and force yourself to do something so ordinary.  It is as if everything has slowed down and you are living in a thick cloud of fog.  

I stood in the coffee shop this morning.  Consciously choosing to tuck my phone into my pocket and look around.   I know nothing of the lives of the individuals sharing this space with me.  I don't know what they did right before they arrived here or where they were going after.  For someone their life could be changing and I would become that person rushing past them.  

We never know what someone else is going through.  We do not know if they just had the best moment of their life or if they are struggling to complete an ordinary task like ordering a cup of coffee.  This realization is a reminder to always treat people with kindness.  Have patience with strangers, and be willing to cut people some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt.  

That person driving erratically past you; maybe they are on the way to the hospital for that last moment with their loved one.  Sure it looks and feels like and ordinary day for you but for them their is nothing ordinary about it.  

Together let's remember to open our hearts a little bit wider and choose kindness.  Smile at strangers, hold the door open, say please and thank you.  It is these simple gestures that bring peace and calm to those who are in the haze, and it also brings more love to our world. This world could use all the love that people are willing to give it.  Let's fill it with hearts!

:: A little musical inspiration which inspired the title of this post ::

 

you need to find the love within you first

And the day came when you knew that love was there,
you just had to be strong enough to look for it
and brave enough to let it in
Because in fact it was around you always
you just weren't ready to see it
You had your blinders on
Your heart was closed, your soul was heavy
You thought the world was out to get you
and you lead with an iron fist
But somewhere along the way you began to soften
Speaking kind words of gratitude and compassion to yourself
The sun began to sparkle
The blue sky radiated
You had a little bit of a pep in your step
and although you didn't know why
you knew you couldn't continue to travel the way you used to
You had to put down your baggage
You had to begin a brand new kind of self talk
You had to dig deep inside and work to unearth your own confidence
No one was going to build you up, 
you needed to do that on your own
And so you did
Piece by piece
Moment by moment
You put yourself back together again
And when you looked in the mirror you actually loved who was looking back
It took work
Many tears
And lots of frustration
But you found your path
Your very own path
And you knew how to travel down it, because you were the one creating it
Your inner spark was lit
and a brand new love story was born
A story of kindness, hope, and deep self love
You unearthed the you that was there all along
The one hidden under the rubble
And you realized that life is so much more beautiful when you choose happiness
When you choose to be brave and stand up for what you believe in
When you choose YOU
And yes, it still takes work
And there are still struggles and tears
But you know it is worth it, so very worth it
Because love is all around
But you have to find it in yourself before you can see it anywhere else

taking care of you

The past few days I have been under the weather.  Stuffy nose, fever, sore throat, achy ears; you know the drill.  It happened a few days after coming back from vacation and I felt incredibly guilty about calling in sick to work.  I had just been off for an entire week only a few short days ago, how could I possibly tell them that I was going to stay home?  I knew my body needed to rest but my mind was pushing me hard to just show up.  

Just show I said to myself.  You need to be there.  You can't call out.  But here's the thing; I knew if I showed up I would be incredibly unproductive.  It's hard to stay focused and work, sitting at a desk all day when your body just isn't up for it.  There is only so much you can push until it will all come crumbling down, harder than you when it had started. 

I live in a fast paced world where things need to have been done yesterday, even though I only found out about them today. Constantly on the move. Striving to be better.  Pushing, pushing, pushing.  With all the pushing there are times my body pushes back and forces me to slow down.  But why was my body doing this to me shortly after returning from a week of relaxing?  Hadn't I spent my time slowly down.  Wasn't I recharged enough?  

It is hard to find time to take care of myself.  It always feels over indulgent and I always tend to feel guilty.  But why?  We need to take care of ourselves.  When we do that we are able to be our best selves for those around us.  It is like they say on an airplane; put on your own oxygen mask first.  If you don't do that you won't be able to help those around you.  

Even through the guilt I listened to my body and I stayed home.  I knew it was exactly what I needed and showing up just because I felt I had to wasn't a good enough reason to show up.  I wasn't missing anything important.  I could always take some extra time when I was feeling better to catch up.  The world wasn't going to crumble because I had to stay in bed.  And so I did just that.  I stayed in bed, I rested, and I choose to take care of myself.  

You must choose yourself.  Make the time, even if it means scheduling time just for you.  It is important to tend to your soul.  To be fully present with how you are feeling and follow your gut.  When you body says stay home, listen and take care of yourself.  

I know it is hard but your body will thank you.  You only have one body and once chance to get it right, so go ahead and make the best possible choices that you can.  

How do you take care of yourself?  What do you do to nurture your soul?