Your Body Has Always Been Fine

musings

I think about my weight and my size and my fat and my thigh gap and my chicken wings and my double chin. Every day. I think about these things.

I think about the fact that when I was a teenaged I worried about the same things. At a smaller size. At a lower weight. At a thinner face and chin.

I think about how every single day as a women or a teenager and even a preteen has been a self-conscious rage inside myself. A narration of insecurity and hatred field at my body. A constant tune of how I was never good enough.

I also know, that every women feels the same way or has felt the same way. I also know that we rarely discuss the constant mental battering we do. To ourselves, sometimes to others,

Our culture has beaten an ideal into our mind that is impossible. Impossible because it changes all the time. Impossible because it’s manufactured. Impossible because the system is rigged in its favor.

Every day. Think about that. Every day we pick at our lives. Pulling at stitches and scans, sometimes to bleed, sometimes a reminder. We go under the knife more and more for thinner and slimmer and better. We dad and crash diet. We tell our friends to join the cult of Keto or vitamins or CrossFit or no carbs. We buy waist trainers and folds of fabric to hide.

None of this is “new” per se. Humanity has a long history of fashion with its own bindings and stitched to alter our looks. What is new is that we are constantly stewing in a brew of unrealistic ideals. What was once just movies and magazines is a constant pull for our attention. What was once books and parties is 24/7 advertising. We are born and raised in “everything about us is wrong – to be better we must…”

The body I hated at 16 changed at 26 and will continue to. Why couldn’t I love it at either stage? Why must I pick at it now?

I treat myself, and I know others do the same, with so much hatred at every stretch mark and bump. I fuss over numbers that only have meaning because we give meaning to them. We are unreasonably cruel to our existence and experiences.

The truth is that at size 0 or size 24 your body is fine. Your body is this amazing thing that keeps you alive and takes you places. Your body has free thoughts. It can create life. It is a beautiful thing. Yet we are so cruel and so hateful to it

This is joy to say be unhealthy, it is to say, be happy with yourself. Don’t sit in the mirror and hate. Exist and love and be in every moment. All of it is fleeting. When you’re 90 years old and covered in wrinkles, smile that you had experience that gave you the smile lines.

I remember my grandma looking in the mirror and bemoaning her aged skin, her crooked bones, her gray hairs. But I also remember always thinking she was so beautiful with her makeup and perfume and scarves, and most importantly her kindness and love that filled my childhood home.

The choice is yours. See your beauty for what you have, or live a life hating yourself. I’m personally choosing the former.

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Good Habits are Great – But Only if They Serve You

musings

Our society, whether because it’s grabbing for meaning, or because things feel out of control, is full of rules right now. There are rules on a better life, from diet to discipline, to minimalism, and tech purges. There are rules on raising other humans like avoiding NO and sugar and gluten. There are rules on TV and screen time, and how much you need to play, pee, eat, sing, and everything else you can imagine. Maybe it’s a reflection of our regimented tech days, or maybe we hate being out of control.

I hate being out of control. So I make up rules. Absurd rules that make no sense, like in what order I need to wash clothes, or make the beds, or vacuum the house. None of these are based on any needs or service to me. If I wash darks first there is still hot water for lights because the darks need only warm water. If I vacuum the upstairs first, it’s not like the carpet gnomes will report me. None of these mental “rules” make sense, they just exist because somewhere I got it in my head that I needed to do things in a specific way.

I bet you, if you analyzed your life, you have all kinds of rules you follow without even knowing. Maybe you wash your face and THEN brush your teeth, when in fact it would be better to brush your teeth to then remove any residue with face washing. Perhaps you always have a cookie with lunch, when in fact you don’t need the cookie or you could have the cookie whenever you want, maybe for breakfast even! Live wild, it’s invigorating.

To add to the mental notes you have all kinds of people telling you what to do to improve your life. They tell you how to eat, what makeup to wear, how to scoop cat litter, what car you should get, how to make yourself healthier, how yo exercise, how to destress, how to make more money….you get the idea. Everyone has a solution to something, and everyone thinks they’re right.

News Flash, they’re probably wrong.

They may be wrong because SCIENCE. They may be wrong because their goal is to just sell you something without you having any real need. They may be wrong because their methods really only work well for baby boomers, or people in their 30s. They may also just be full of shit. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE FULL OF SHIT THAT WANT TO MAKE MONEY OFF OF YOU OR MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE CRAP OR SIMPLY THINK THEY’RE AMAZING WHEN REALLY THEY’RE NOT BUT THEY….you get the idea.

The truth is that at any time at least 70 different things want you to follow that trail, that ad, that video, that “alternative fact”. They want you to follow that lead into the land where you share a credit card number or buy into, at least emotionally, some doctrine.

Sometimes these things REALLY work, like Marie Kondo’s methods have helped thousands, if not millions. Kondo’s ideas have greatly improved my home and I love the tips, but I modified them to suit our household needs. I won’t follow her like she’s a god, but I will take what serves me and my family.

On the other hand I tried bullet journaling and freehand journaling and stencil journaling. I got so frustrated and pissed off with having another thing to do “on my list” that I gave it up. Nothing about it served me and my creative needs. However, my best friend finds it extremely soothing and cathartic, and she will most likely continue to journal until the day she dies.

For another example, a friend of mine bought her cat a wheel (like a cat hamster wheel-but for cars) and she was so excited to have this for her cat. Her cat HATED it, would not touch it, and the friend was out $300 for this internet contraption that some cats loved. It has been passed onto a second friend who is trying to convince their cat that the wheel is fun. (Here is a good tip: cats are assholes, and they won’t like anything you buy that’s expensive unless it’s YOUR bed, YOUR couch, and definitely the scratching post you bought for them. Give them cat nip, a box, and a wadded up receipt and you will have a happy cat, I promise.)

The point is, that when you are trying to “self-help” take time to explore what might actually bring you joy and what is a waste of time. Even if your best friend thrives, don’t expect the method to work the same for you.

Don’t Act Your Age

colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Travel

It’s easy to fall into the expectations of a culture. It’s easy to yield to social, familial, and religious pressure. It’s easy to “be” for others, but is harder to put your foot down and be yourself.

Out culture has a lot of unwritten rules. By 18 you graduate high school. By 22 it’s college. By 25 maybe a post-graduate program. Depending on your track, there are more hoops and expectations. Somewhere in there, before 30, you might find a spouse, buy a house, and resemble something like an adult.

These age brackets adjust slightly, depending on the culture and the time. Babies often come by 40 instead of 30 now. Career success is somewhere around 40 maybe 50, depending. Marriage is okay by 30, best by 40. It’s all constructed on norms and expectations, built around the cultural ecosystem we live in. Yet all of it is just expectation, not a reality based on what one NEEDS to accomplish. Some of us have more responsibility younger. Some of us never were truly kids. Some of us will never fully grow up. It just is.

With all of these expectations being fabricated, then I think it’s damn time that people do what makes sense for them. If my generation has positively accomplished anything, it’s that we are breaking the norm. (Whether out of necessity or choice is another question all together). We have abandoned the suburbs for lofts, and lifelong mortgages for vacations. Some of it is having a lack of money to participate in the US of A economy like our ancestors did, some of us just don’t want the shackles that uprooted so many in the recession.

While I advocate for education and knowledge, I also know that college is not the only way to be educated. I am married to one of the smartest people I know who could never get comfortable in a college setting, even though they tried. He doesn’t flout his skills and knowledge, he just exists, happy to work and make improvements, happy to have a family to come home to. It’s not ideal, but his earnings with a few community college classes almost matches that of someone with a M.A. The degree has never made me superior, it only lit the path to my own growth.

No doubt, the system has failed this generation, and my dear Gen-X friends that also feel swallowed in debt and poor paying jobs. I feel if the system has failed us, why should be jump deeply into the system? Why be the pinnacle of 30 with a house and 2.5 kids and car payments and so much debt there is hardly money for groceries? Where is the joy in that?

No doubt, I want the “good life” like everyone waved in front of my face. I want a house, I want a dog, and a yard, and to take a family vacation every year. Yet, we run into the wall of we don’t earn enough for a house where we live. We don’t earn enough to live fully here, as a “30-something” should. Yet we do earn enough to pay our bills and have some fun once in a while. We earn enough to enjoy trips abroad every few years, and take road trips in between. We earn enough to get by and laugh a little. We earn enough that I only grind my teeth a couple of night between pay days, instead of them all.

So while I “WANT” this and that, I refuse to be a part of “keeping up with the Jones’s” or buying into familial expectation of what my house and life is supposed to be. I think everyone should examine this too. If something in our culture serves you and your dreams, go for it.

I went for college and a mountain of debt, but my growth was much needed and treasured, I would not change that. If buying a home brings you comfort and joy that’s great! But make sure that the value you have placed in it comes before other desires. If having children is something that you long for, then have children when it makes sense. If having children is not that important, then REALLY evaluate if that’s a road you should go down.

As Elizabeth Gilbert put in Eat, Pray, Love “Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” I value most things on similar terms, “is this REALLY what I want?” “Should I REALLY commit to this”. I also leave if something is not serving me or my longer-term goals. Some days it is hard, it’s definitely scary, but it’s important that you only act the age you are in your heart.

Happy Travels!

A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

Ice Ice Baby – Dillon Ice Castle

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, History, outdoors, Photography, Travel

The city of Dillon, Colorado along with a handful of other cities around North America have welcomed the magic and whimsy of #IceCastles the last few years. The company creates elegant magic with their ice castles creating spires, spikes, fountains, slides, and other intriguing icy creations.

With our Dog Sledding trip in late January, it felt naturalto add on an adventure to an ice kingdom! We decided to visit the whimsy atnight where thousands of lights brighten the structure creating a surreallandscape.

1896 Leadville Ice Castle

The castle, much to my surprise, was less of a “brick andmortar” structure of castles in the past, such as the one that used to take up residence in 1896 in Leadville,Colorado.

Yet, through better methods, less work intensive, and moderntechnology the creators of Ice Castles has built a masterpiece of art that resemblesnature versus the palaces of old England. The Dillon castle is made of layersand layers of ice crystals that droop elegantly together to make a spindledfortress. Reminding the viewer of candle wax, the castle is almost haunting inits design, as if some fantasy’s Ice Queen had designed the elements.

Almost gothic, but celebrating natural artistry, the castlesoffer a glimpse into something otherworldly and full of inspiration. Elementsthroughout offer play in the form of slides and selfie spots.  While other details inspire wonder in roomswith fountains and thousands of icicles. Regardless of what you want from thetrip, bundle up, and enjoy yourself!

Travel Gear on a Budget

europe, France, italy, Travel, United Kingdom

Many people say that a good suitcase can change your life. This is undoubtably true. The appendix to that statement is that it doesn’t have to break the bank.

As someone that yearns to be in the road I travel several times a year and spend many weekend away. I need a suitcase that can hold up to planes, trains, and automobiles.

My main suitcases were a gift for graduating from my undergraduate degree. It’s a classic set from Samsonite, and it serves me well. This set details for around $200, but the quality makes it worth every penny.

I have gone through a lot of suitcases over the years. Sometimes bought, sometimes borrowed. Many times they come home from a month abroad with broken sides and ruined wheels. Yet with my adventures with my Samsonites I have found it still comes home as sturdy as when I left. It’s soft sided so I worry less on the smacks of careless baggage handlers and every scuff doesn’t show. It’s one of the best gifts I have ever received!

Yet for small trips I always go for my thrift store found leather duffel which is the perfect size and looks refined compared to most duffels. While it’s not high end, it’s effective and it looks nice for business or professional settings.

Nest in my list are leather bags bought on trips or collected over the years. All of them cost $130 or less and they have all been lifesavers. My laptop bag was an Italian market find that I bargained from $250 to $130 for, and I plan on it lasting me another 30 years. My purses are blends from The Sam, Italian Leather finds and clearance section bargains. All have over the shoulder straps and look nice for many settings. The best part is everything fits in them with room for a book and/or my DSLR. This makes them perfect for a plane or train… or automobile (ok I’ll stop).

For footwear, more times than not I pick my Toms or something equivalent. They’re lightweight and easy to wear for many an occasion. If it’s summer/tropical I throw in the Birkenstock’s or Chacos. If I have a dressy event I bring one pair of heels that match everything (always go black). I love blending lightweight with practical to reduce luggage but also look smart.

Men have it easy with the clothing game, but women need not kill themselves with unrealistic outfits. I always suggest making sure everything matches everything else in your suitcase. Pack less than you originally wanted to, and bring more underwear than you think you’ll need. When buying new items look for cloth that doesn’t wrinkle, and things that fold up small. Layers will be your best friend.

Most importantly, leave room in your budget to pick up stuff along the way that you see as practical for you. This will most likely be a neck pillow or blanket, that can then make the rounds for the next 20 trips!

Happy Travels!

Marie Kondo Your Life

family, food, musings

I struggle with trying to tow the line of writing and sharing, and putting away the laptop to enjoy my life. I think we all do.

I work 40+ hours a week at a desk job. Then I try to commit 5-10 hours a week to my blog. Add housework at 5 hours, errands and groceries at 5 hours, Girl Scouts at another 5, and friends and family and ….. I hit 90 hours pretty quickly. And I like 9 hours of sleep a night. And time to just watch tv and scroll through Facebook.

Oh and let us not forget that I need to workout. That I need to feed my body and soul. Basically things start to slide when I have more obligations.

The things that slide are my personal things, my blog, my workouts, my reading a book. So this website doesn’t get stories shared. My legs don’t get moved.

It’s a frustrating dance.

Oh but the worst culprit is when I go out to get blog content. when I go out to meet with people and friends and to have fun. Then my blog time is fun time that the blog doesn’t get done for a while.

So this is a plea and a statement that I’m spinning my wheels in chaos and that this year I am making a deeper commitment to myself.

I’m committing to my goals and my blog and the gym and to not doing anything when I damn well please.

I’m committing to pumping the brakes to watch Deadpool with my husband and to go to bed at 7 when I want to.

You should too.

Because when you don’t live an actual life. When you are so tied to and tired from commitments you can’t breath. You can’t share an honest or reflective piece. You can’t thrive.

Think of the Marie Kondo trend of getting rid of stuff and apply it to living. Decide what is fulfilling, choose what enhances your joy. Clean houses are great, less stuff is great, but loving your family and your existence is so much better. The truth is that simplifying and organizing needs to stretch beyond your closet and into your life.

Have your kids select only one or two extracurricular activities. No one needs five. Pick one book club and enjoy it. Choose days every week to see friends. Assign jobs to your kids and partner. Don’t try to be Superman/woman/Martha Stewart, because you can’t.

You Can’t. And it’s not fair to think you have to be.

Here’s the truth, the world won’t end if you don’t have a clean house. The world won’t end if your kid isn’t doing something every minute. The world won’t end if your husband has to wash his own socks. And it won’t end if you take an hour each day to do what you want in life. Or don’t, just watch a stupid sitcom. Just live.

Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.

Dog Sledding Colorado

colorado, Colorado Events, love, Travel, United States

I’ve realized the older I get that the whole point of life is to try on hats and see what fits. Maybe not the point, but part of what you do.

I try on hats for work. I try on hats for spots and health. I try on artistic hats. Some fit some don’t. Some just like BAD.

It’s not so much what the hat is, but how it works with the person.

Dog Sledding fit really well.

Like most kids in the 90s we saw the movie Balto and Snow Dogs and thought Alaska was a place of dog sledding. When one dog sleds, one is in Alaska. Alaska.

So growing up it was a distant land thing. As an adult I realized one could do many “distant land things” closer to home as we become a more globalized society. Dog Sledding is no exception.

Enter a few months ago and we are talking with my stepdaughter about going to Alaska on a cruise, a future dream. Asking the 11 year-old what she would LOVE to do in Alaska, she says Dog Sledding. Dog Sledding.

Some googling later and a chat with my in-laws and we’re booked for true experience. Then more of the family books. And 18 of us are scheduled to dog sled outside of Breckenridge, Colorado at Good Times Adventures.

It was amazing. No words can describe the magic of snow, the perfect lighting, the happy happy happy dogs, or the feeling of gliding on a wood sled through the wilderness. If magic exists it’s in the snowy woods. Watch the video below to hear my pure joy. 💖

Saying it’s amazing is not enough, however, all of the joy makes me crave it. Maybe that’s how snowboarding feels for others (something I won’t try, it’s a thing) an urge to leap into the joy of it all over and over again, the rush, the sound, the smells. So I’ll be back, and probably more often, because this fluffy warm hat fit well.

Wish Me Luck!

musings, Travel

Working in the travel industry I have access to a variety of travel education and travel opportunities that the general public doesn’t have. This means I can help others create a lasting and meaningful vacation by putting my knowledge to work.

Today I entered a short video on why I should go with the Australia Tourism Board’s to be the Australia Specialist Ambassador in March and show others the magic of Australia!

The idea is to show others that I can take everyone along to show them the magic of the largest continent. And that there is Nothing Like Australia!

Wish me luck!

I Hate Monotony

family, food, musings

As the title says….I Hate

And I am trying to make a life that has the least amount of monotony as possible. I want jobs that are different every day. I love meeting new people and eating new food and seeing new places. I don’t like staying in one job or home or outfit in too long. I love change if it means doors for possibilities (which it almost always does). I am a glutton for experiences from goat yoga to snorkeling to cliff diving (one and done with that one).

Yet, the older I get the harder it is to shake the shackles of life and repetition and needs. See my home needs cleaned regularly for health and sanity and organization. My body needs food several times a day. My body needs exercise and bathing. Bad habits of not doing these things turn my smooth life into a tornado of mess. So monotony clings to the air like cellophane, necessary at times, but suffocating.

While I don’t love any of the chores of household needs, I realize that these are a part of survival. Without them life is less enjoyable or impossible. So I’ve started lying to myself…. sort of.

Instead of dreading cleaning I just acknowledge it’s what needs done. Instead of having to get “everything done” on the weekend I delegate to my family members and accept my limits when say not all the laundry makes it in the drawer. I just tell myself it won’t end, it’s part of life, it’s not a big deal. And it’s not.

I won’t ever love the same old same old. But I can make it better. I blare music so I dance and mop. I listen to audio books while I put away laundry. I de-clutter and get rid of things while I clean and put things away.

To push it further I am finding magic in the new Netflix series (Tidying Up) where principles of gratitude and new perspective guide people into a happier life. Monotony is a part of life, but it’s ok.

Perhaps most surprising is that I am coming to enjoy the cleaning process, not just the results. It’s nice to do mindless things sometimes. It’s nice to find new cleaners I like and to make old furniture look new. It’s nice to shine my shoes. Perhaps that’s the kicker, appreciate the simple things and what all we have. Embrace the stillness and calm of laundry and vacuuming. Take things as they come and don’t resist everything that’s “not fun”.

Just some thoughts….