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.

Embrace The Trainwreck

musings

I often find life to be a confusing ball of shit.

Meaning, I have one idea of how it all should be, and then reality takes a dump on my ideas.

It’s the universe. There are no rules or regularity. We have no control, only perceptions of control. While we can steer the sails on our ship, we also face storms and waves, and giant killer squids. Mostly we survive, sometimes we almost drown. We usually come out as stronger swimmers for the next round.

If anything, at my very wise age of 28 (insert sarcasm symbol), it is that I can either fret about every awkward thing I have done (this list is painfully long) or I can move on and sail to the next day. (I really like the idea of being on a ship, because sailing, and oceans, and mermaids that can be whatever fucking color, because mermaids…)

My life hasn’t been cushioned, instead I usually fall on my ass, dust myself off, and find the next patch of ice I can slip on. I have had to work for 95% of what I have on my own, but I also know that that last 5% has been vital to my survival. I cry a lot, because existential crisis’s are real. but I also laugh until tears run down my face because “A Day Without Laughter is a Day Wasted” ~Charlie Chaplin.

I am messy and insecure. I am overly confident and painfully awkward. But whatever. I can either self help myself into a coma or I can just take everything as it comes. My only real competition is myself and my success is measured on moving forward.

When I TRULY think about all I wanted to achieve by my late 20s, I realize I have done more than I truly thought I would get to. I have things together. The puzzle is a little lop sided, I slammed a few pieces in where they didn’t fit. There are still pieces missing, but it works. There is actually a coherent image of something resembling a normal existence.

I have learned that life is not an immediate success, some people get it right away, but that is so very rare. Instead, and probably for the best, we have to prove ourselves and fight forward, and make things happen. To not is to accept defeat, which is something I simply won’t accept.

All I am saying in this, is that maybe we all should be happier with ourselves and where we are. We should embrace our lives as just are, and accept the chaos as what is. I am the first to jump into learning and growing, but I am also okay with not killing myself with too many projects. I have learned to create boundaries and limits where needed. These are all vital for survival.

Overall, just love yourself and your journey and your mistakes. It’s okay, you are just learning, even at 20 and 40 and 90, you are learning.

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.

Another Year Older

musings

Oh hey, today is my birthday. Officially, based on the Gregorian calendar I have taken 28 trips around the sun on a little blue planet known as earth.

You would think with all my travel writing I would think more about this feat. Yet, like most humanoids I’m often distracted by TV and new X-files merch.

So today, let’s reflect on some of the awe of our existence. We humanoids inhabit a spectacular planet full of wonders and beauty. A planet that took billions of years of perfect settings to create and sustain life as we know it. And me, right now, I have enjoyed 28 journeys around a major source of our life, the sun.

It’s humbling just to think of the scale of this little globe in comparison to our solar system, let alone our universe. The conclusion: we’re fucking tiny. TINY.

As a kid it hit home the most while I would stand out in the woods at my childhood home. Rural as it was I could see the stars for what felt like forever. While holding a flashlight to feed animals or walk about I would hold up the flashlight and see that it just went on and on, no end. Of course there was an end because of light strength and atmosphere and science. BUT holding the flashlight felt infinite and I felt humbled and small. A grain of sand in the endlessly huge ocean.

So, as I reflect on the general insignificance of my personal existence, I encourage myself and others to think about what does matter in the world. It matters that we are kind and loving to each other. It matters that all people have basic needs met. It matters that we don’t destroy this planet so that future beings have a life of dignity. It matters that we are informed and educated so that we make positive decisions in the world. It matters that we treat all people with respect, no matter their station. It matters that we raise aware and giving children. It matters that we strive toward equality and equity. These things matter along with many others.

On my birthday I ask that we reflect. Reflect on making life better for others. Reflect on being more patient. Reflect on the bountiful things we have versus others and how to tighten that gap. Reflect on supporting those that advocate for all rights. Reflect on what you can do, no matter how small, to help others.

Even a grain is sand matters, and many grains make the beach and the floor and provide shelter and growth for infinite other beings.

Happy Travels!

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!

Trust Those That Love You

family, musings

My title is self-explanatory. Trust. Those that love you, they love you for a reason.

Their love has power. Truth.

Love has power.

Because when someone says you are such a good…. writer, artist, singer…. phlebotomist…. you probably are. In essence they are seeing the magic you have in you, the talent and the work to make something happen. They see it. They are telling you that you should see it too.

This isn’t to say that just because you do one thing right and receive praise that you can’t keep trying. It’s to say, someone sees where this can take you, keep going.

The thing is that far too much of my life has been spent doubting what people tell me. How people encourage me. My insecurities meant that I always felt like a fraud or that others must have been just trying to be nice. I believed this so deeply, especially in college, I figured my good grades weren’t earned and my bad grades were so much more honest. Yet some light deep in me knew that hell yes I did deserve a good grade. Hell yes I did the best I could. So I’ve taken this light and I’ve let it shine, brighter and more fully year after year.

Sometimes I know that I could have, should have, would have done better. But I also know that the not so good stuff helps to eventually create the good. My failures move me into better. My mistakes shine light on the dust in the corners.

My team of friends and family… they help me get to the next stage. They see my potential. They’ll hold my hand while I get there. And I see theirs.

So, dear reader, trust what people praise you for. Trust in their love and support. Trust that they know a thing or two. And listen when they give advise. Life is hard enough, why choose to think everyone hates you or is lying to you?

These people that love you, they share their adoration because they see what you have to offer the world. They support you because you have something to offer. So believe them. Is it such a bad thing to have cheerleaders?

Besides, even if they lie a little, just to keep your feelings safe, maybe just maybe that little lie can light a fire to greatness. Maybe have of success is just believing and trying and trying again?

Just some thoughts…..

Demolish Your Comfort Zone

musings, Travel

It is said that the life you want is at the end of your comfort zone.

Maybe.

In fact, I think a perfectly happy life is in the comfort zone. That’s the college and the job and the spouse and the 2.5 kids. You retire by 60, you snuggle grandkids, and you die around 75. So it goes. The average. Yet where does one truly grow from that?

Sure you support the standard existence demanded of your kin and ancestors. Nothing wrong with that. Sure you don’t have struggles and strife. Nothing wrong with that.

Yet something is missing.

For many of us we want some sense of fulfillment, maybe it’s to be a great painter or dancers. maybe it’s playing the tuba. Maybe it’s simply being an awesome Girl Scout leader. Whatever it is, so many of us don’t take that first step.

Comfort zones hold us in place. Comfort zones ya we’re safe and happy when we’re missing something to nurture our souls. They are liars, they are the lizard brain self preserving. They are not a voice of true joy.

Beyond comfort zones means fulfillment in other ways. It means risk. It means failure. It means being frightened.

Yet when you push past the fear and confines of what you think your existence should be, there lays so many new opportunities.

The thing is, you will always be scared. You were probably scared when you applied to your job, scared on your first day. You maybe still fear being fired or dialing at a project. All of these are possible. And maybe you are frightened if something else happening, but the truth is that all of it could be okay. All of it could be truly wonderful.

This brings me to exploring the world. I am frightened when I get on a plane, worried about “what if”. But guess what, every plane trip has brought me new and thrilling adventures. I’m frightened to go to a new country. But guess what, each one has offered me something magical.

I’ve been frightened to try new foods, to do new jobs, to go to school, to try different careers. At times I’ve been in tears because I’m so frightened. But once I work it out, I face the fears, I’m ok. Each of these frights has pushed me forward on what has been a pretty awesome journey. I’m scared a lot, I don’t let it stop me.

In fact, my comfort zone is small. It’s my bedroom. My desk at work. My car. That’s about it my “safe” places. Those are sacred places I need, but I also know the in between brings me growth, helps me grow.

So, dear friends, push onwards. For bravery doesn’t mean that you aren’t afraid, it means you do it anyway.

Happy Travels!

“From a proud Gryffindor”

I Will Choose Love

love, musings, Travel

When you ask people why they travel so often it’s associated with food, shopping, natural wonders, and maybe culture. Yet often we seem to look over one of the most rewarding aspects of flying off to a new land, the people.

It’s my love for people that is truthfully the reason that I travel. I love what people create in fabric and stone and food and legends and art. I love what people share from their homes to their culture to their music to their families. I love that a smile crosses all divides and a laugh brings hearts together. I love that no matter where you are in the world kids can play together without needing a common language.

I choose love as my reason to travel. I choose love as my reason to work every day, love for myself and love for my family and a love of my clients who I help find adventures for. I choose love as my reason.

So, when I see horrific divisions and I see the pain of humanity spread on screens and in newspapers I am reminded that we all could choose to love more. When we see someone hungry, loving them is fighting for policies to end that hunger pain. When we see people running from their homelands, love should open our doors to ease their strife. We must choose love.

Love is scary. Love makes one vulnerable. Love makes us have to face our worse fears. Love pushes us tot the battle ground. Love is needed for humanity to survive.

When you think of your fellow persons on this planet, think lovingly. Think with a kind heart. Think about your choices and how it may help or hurt someone. But most importantly choose love to combat your hatred or fears. And find that you may start finding a lot more love for yourself too.

Happy Travels

Brown Palace Romance

colorado, Colorado Events, geek, History, Travel, United States

The Brown Palace in Denver is probably one of the most iconic locations in all of Colorado, if not the western United States.

Built on a triangular plot of land, the hotel is oddly shaped, but the attention to detail is where the magic lays. The exterior of the hotel is made of rich “Brown” sandstone, carved and pieces together with hidden elements. The facade even has animals carved along the roof line.

Built in 1892 the hotel is full of details celebrating its past, and reflecting the significance of Denver in history. Almost every president has stayed at the hotel among many other notable celebrities. The Beatles stayed at the hotel in 1964 before playing at Red Rocks. They created such a a ruckus that they had to be moved via service elevators. They have a suite in dedication to them.

My husband and I decided to have a sweet and romantic getaway to the Brown Palace for our first anniversary. The hotel is known in my family as it is where my grandparents stayed on their wedding night on August 7, 1949. The story goes that they showed up in their 20 year old Model A and the valet was surprised at their arrival. They had driven the dirt roads from Fort Morgan (where they got married) to get there, and no doubt they probably looked a little bedraggled.

In some ways I went to honor them, but I was also curious about my own story and finding my own memory at the Brown. We definitely succeeded.

We stayed in a standard king room, we were on the 6th floor, and we had great views of the city. The room elegantly blended modern and old to make a space that was cozy and welcoming and not lacking for charm. The bathroom was done with traditional tile and classic features, while crown molding dotted the ceilings throughout.

We loved being able to walk through the history and charm of the hotel with its open center and stained glass ceilings. The structure inside is made out of steel making the spindles and staircases a timeless piece that awes the viewer. Every detail is classically inspired with the elegance of the “gay 90s” and updated features to celebrate the decades and 126 years of history.

I especially enjoyed the kindness and welcoming spirit I felt from everyone that worked there. The front desk was friendly, the concierge loved to chat about their love of the Palace (they’re the only hotel in the area with certified concierge). It felt like a home, and I immediately fell in love.

If you are looking for an iconic stay in Colorado or Denver then look no further. If you are short on time, but want to explore, consider an afternoon tea or a tour.

Happy Travels!

The Creative Mind

musings

The creative mind is a tricky thing.

On one hand you know, locked in your school are all the details needed to create and craft endless wonders.

On the other hand is the constant view of what you want to be and not being able to enact it.

Culturally and mentally we all want more than what we have. Deep down we all want to hoard everything, to have what others have, to have more than others have. While this helped us survive when as we developed into humanity, today, it can play a disservice. In the creative brain it creates a loop of dissatisfaction and anxiety.

When I take a photo, I usually like it…. then quickly dislike it. I see the value immediately but then I begin to pick at my work. Sometimes it’s because I have learned a new technique or I’ve become better at cropping or angles or adjusting aperture etc. so I see my mistakes after a while. The other part is a hatred of not feeling good enough. A creeping sensation that everything I do is garbage.

I need to put on the mental games brakes before I get to garbage. This is hard. Any of you that are creative, maybe poets, painters, or dancers, you know how hard this is. Yet it’s vital for long term success.

Even with this blog I feel scared. Fear of failure. A sensation that I’m wasting my time. An anxiety that everything I put into the universe is just drivel in a never ending spew fest of the internet. Maybe everything we do has no actual meaning.

Yet, and I pressure you, dear reader, to land here: maybe it is all a little value. A little value to you. A little value to your friends that appreciate your work. A little value to building your skills. All are like droplets in your life, and eventually you get a cup that overflows. It takes time to fill it, but you get there.

Some of our cultural issues are that we treat creativity like it’s this ethereal dance with muse and inspiration. A divine light that makes everything come together to success. And while creativity sometimes feels like that, there were a lot of little drops to get to a divine moment, the overflow. Meaning, that there was a lot of work to get there.

So while overnight success isn’t fully tangible , I know that I can add drops until I get there.

Happy Travels!