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forgetting perfect

Hello there! My name is Crystal Varner Parker and I am a recovering perfectionist. I have a tendency to get stuck before a task even gets started, because I’m afraid of not doing something the “right way.” In the year 2023 I am not setting a new year’s resolution (you already know my feelings on that), but I am committing to forgetting perfect. 

What’s wrong with ‘perfection’?

Great question, I’d be happy to answer that for you. I do not have anything against a perfectly made baked good, the perfect gift someone chosen for someone else, or any well-executed task or project. What bothers me is the paralysis that ensues by those of us that suffer from perfectionism. I do have something against making a task harder than it has to be, because it must be perfect. I do have something against unrealistic expectations. 

How do we move forward?

I think it calls for giving ourselves and a LOT of grace. I routinely wear a necklace that has the phrase “Grace not perfection” engraved upon it, because I need that reminder. As I go about my day it reminds me that perfection is not the name of the game. Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go and buy a necklace, but it’s nice to have something tangible that reminds us to forget being perfect. 

Can we shed our need for perfection?

Absolutely not! I am a deep believer in continued growth, learning new things, and striving to be a better me each day, week, month, and year. I also believe we learn a LOT from our mistakes. If we are always striving for perfection, we are never leaving room for those growth opportunities. 

Who’s with me?

Anyone else ready to hit pause on perfect? Ready to hit rewind on our need for control? Now, let’s try again by letting go of perfection. We need to do that best we know how and accept that sometimes that good is good enough. 



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if 37 is prime, so am i

y’all…it has been a HOT minute since i did any blogging and for that i apologize sincerely. like so many of us, life got a little hectic, personal tragedies, yadda yadda. it’s not that i want to diminish the trauma we collectively and individually faced these past couple of years, it’s that i want to move forward. this post is not about THAT, it’s about what’s going on NOW.

in this, the last month of 2022, which is also the month of my birth, which is also the peak of Sagittarius season, i want to acknowledge some truths i have come to behold. the most potent among them is the idea that we are dynamic people. all humans are capable of learning and adapting and that is awesome.

on the final days of my 36th year, i can say that i am becoming a different person: a person who is more positive and kind. i see that encouragement and understanding and loads of curious optimism are the only real way to get things done. 

i journaled about a few goals at the beginning of this year. they were mostly terrifying and i thought i would fail, so i didn’t really broadcast them (i regret my choice, but that will be a whole different article). instead, i read, researched and strategized. even though i was out of my depth, i tried to stay positive and hopeful. it nearly killed me at some points, but it paid off.

early 2022 saw a variety of obstacles: the raleigh, nc housing market was wild and it was looking like time was running out for first-time buyers like ross and i. (ross is my partner and significant otter BTW.) COVID-19 was still looming large with variants popping up and making things dangerous. studio yoga classes were unpredictable, and i was eager to expand my outdoor yoga schedule and nurture my little corner of the yoga community. 

i was also feeling frustrated with my marketing career and curious if there might be something better out there for me. if i may–the great resignation is a silly name to call it. people are simply waking up to the simple fact that if they are going to spend so much TIME at work, they should get to enjoy some fulfillment from it. so, yeah, i realized it was time to make a change.

it wasn’t the first time i’d pondered these life change, but i arrived at a crossroads. what was holding me back? information? certainty? i mean we can always have more money and time, but realistically, my fear of failure was stopping me from starting.

this made me LOL. when i walk it back, it doesn’t make sense. how can i be fearful of something that hasn’t EVEN happened yet? like for real. i did not have the answer to whether i could do these things or not, and yet, i was totally subscribed to my limiting beliefs. i allowed my fear of an uncertain future outcome to rule my present circumstance.

i decided to do an experiment; i had to at least try to manifest these changes. just like in yoga, i tried to think about the situation in a different way. Instead of how i would feel if i didn’t get what i wanted, i considered how home ownership, a new job, and more outdoor yoga classes would positively impact my life. the more i meditated on this, the more i was motivated to make it happen. the expression “nothing to lose and everything to gain” had never been more true. 

there were a few moments of affirmation along the way where i felt like i was on the right track. we got pre-approved for mortgage lending which felt great! even though it was still chilly outside, people were asking me about my outdoor classes, saying they’d seen my instagram stories and wanted to try it out. i also started getting excited as i perused marketing job postings on linkedin and indeed. 

it was a very slow burn though, and each of these goals took months of planning and scheming to actualize. then, when i finally “got in the game”,  i experienced several losses. we went to dozens of home showings and had offers get rejected. i had many zoom interviews with nary a word from the company. i was struggling to find a new yoga venue and the online classes were not getting traction. i was discouraged and it all had me wanting to give up. for some reason, (maybe it’s just my stubborn Sag energy?) i kept at it…

the possibility of change catalyzed that curious optimism again. i noticed how the pursuit of these big goals really fueled me. and, i decided that even if it failed, it felt good to at least be trying to change. i was doing things not because i had to, but because i wanted to and that also felt kinda nice.

of course the yoga teacher in me also considered this time to be a wonderful opportunity to practice managing stress, LOL. oh, and the stress was palpable. i cried a lot, yelled a lot. i went on runs and cried, i did yoga and cried, i talked to my mom and best friend and cried and yelled. as much as i wanted to give up, i was relying on myself.

among my three big goals, a theme emerged: finding solace in uncertainty. i had to sit with ‘not knowing’ a LOT this past year. when you put yourself out there, even in a quiet way like i did, you can get rejected. which i did. quite a bit. but every time you don’t immediately die after that rejection, you become wiser and more resilient. and less afraid of future rejections.

eventually, the little dream nuggets came to fruition. we became homeowners and moved into a cute place we love. this fall, i added a second weekly outdoor yoga class and met tons of new clients. i also started a new position with an amazing experiential marketing firm that does incredibly powerful work for communities i love.

i have to shout out Ross because the homebuying process could not have happened without him. we truly did it together in every aspect, and i am grateful for his support. we are planning to die here though because neither of us want to move again, ha!

so, as i head into year 37, i am full of curious optimism. i’ve learned that i am a person who enjoys a challenge and likes to work hard. i’ve also learned that, while i do NOT like it, i’m a person that can sit with a little uncertainty and not explode.

the number 37 is prime, and so am i. while i don’t advise plotting a course for three major life upheavals in a single year, shoot your shot! it might be fabulous.



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don’t tell me what to do

If only it were that simple. 
Guns aren’t the problem, 
it’s a mental health crisis. 
Guns don’t kill people, 
only those with mental health issues do. 
We have a right to bear arms,
except we forget it’s supposed to be a well-regulated militia

Don’t make me wear a mask, 
but please teach the children to hide. 
Life is sacred and we’re pro-life, 
except more children and teachers have died. 
We don’t want to be told what to do,
unless it’s your body and your choices. 

Nothing is simple, 
except protecting our children. 
Mental health matters,
except for traumatizing our children (again).
We have rights,
except for our children to attend school safely. 

Don’t tell me what to do,
but I’ll make the rules. 
You must care for all lives we deem worthy,
but we aren’t going to make it feasible. 
We all have rights,
but only those of some seem to matter. 

These are the words of a mother, a pastor, an educator, a wife, a daughter, and a friend who is full of rage and heartbreak. I have sat through multiple lockdown drills, have lamented the ones my daughter has endured, and mourn the innumerable hours educators have spent preparing for the eventual. School shootings, mass shootings, and gun violence of all its stripes and varieties are becoming mundane. You will offer your thoughts and prayers for a time, but soon you will forget. 

There are children and loved ones being mourned today, tomorrow, and for always. But let’s remember your guns. They are what’s most important. You have the right to bear arms and form a militia, but you forget it should be well regulated. These rules don’t matter, because you’ll stop these shootings from happening with your guns. 

But here’s the thing…YOU HAVEN’T!
The guns keep landing in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and they are murdering Americans of all ages and races. 

When will there be enough blood on our hands? 
How high must the body count get before it matters?
When are we allowed to tell you what to do?

I’m telling you now:
This blood is on your hands. 
The body count is already too high. 
I have had enough of your thoughts and prayers.

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There’s No Better Time Than Now

So, I had an epiphany the other day. It was Christmas Eve morning and it was pouring rain. It was warmer than it had been the past few days, but it still wasn’t optimal at 52°. Regardless of the weather or my feelings about it, I had to go for my daily run.

I parked at the lake near my house and sat there for nearly 10 minutes, thinking about my options. I considered driving home and waiting for a better (less cold and rainy) time to run. 

After looking at Weather Underground for the 80th time that morning, it dawned on me. Neither the weather outside nor my motivation to run was going to improve anytime soon.

It was all there in front of me; the trail, my headphones, my water bottle. There was not going to be a better time than right now. So I did it. 

It wasn’t the best run of my life, but it wasn’t bad. I only passed one other person along the two-mile loop, so I scream sang the lyrics of Lizzo, Meg the Stallion, Sweetie, and Tame Impala as I ran in the rain. I was soaked by the time I finished but it was done.

The moral of the story is that sometimes now is the best we can do. It can be tough to motivate ourselves to complete a difficult task, but before we bail we must ask ourselves this…

Will I want to do this MORE later? If the answer is no, you better get to it NOW. 

In the 10 minutes I sat there trying to figure out an alternate plan, I could have been done with the damn mile. And life is funny like that. So often the hardest commitments to keep are the ones we make to ourselves. 

Running everyday goes the same way. It’s a cool endeavor, but it isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes the daily mile feels like a mountain to climb, and like anything, starting is usually the hardest part.

When you have a daunting task, think not of the drudgery of doing it, but the satisfaction of getting it done. It will probably suck a little bit, but before you talk yourself out of it, remember that there’s no better time than now

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Going to the Polls

November 3rd is rapidly approaching. We officially have Republican and Democrat nominees for President and Vice President, but do you know who else is on your ballot? In addition to voting for president, there are usually a variety of other elections for other offices you can vote for in your local area on election day. If you’re not sure who’s running for which office, it’s time you learn who they are, what they believe, and if you support them before going to the polls. 

Voting is IMPORTANT 

As a citizen of the United States of America, voting is one of the most important things you can do. In many ways, the right to vote has been a longstanding uphill battle in our country. The founding fathers outlined a pretty good system, but it has taken decades of work to ensure that we all, yes that’s right EVERYONE, may exercise their right to vote. The best way to appreciate it is to participate in the voting process at all levels of government. We should not take this privilege for granted. If you’re a person who is dissatisfied with certain aspects of your community, you especially want to participate in local elections. While presidential elections often seem like the most important ones, and y’all, Decision 2020 is a whopper for sure! It’s really the local elections that can have the biggest impact on your day to day life. The pothole on your street that popped your tire? Funding for greenways in your city? What time you can order a mimosa on Sunday at brunch? These are all decisions made by your local elected officials. We might not all have our candidate of choice win, and we do not have to agree with everything our elected officials do, but we do need to hold them accountable. 

Holding your elected officials accountable 

How do we do this?

  1. Vote! Each election is a reminder to our elected officials that their job is on the line. If we are not satisfied with how they have represented us, we will vote for their opponent on the ballot.

  2. Between elections, contact your representatives. They do not know if we like what they’re doing, are dissatisfied, or see areas for growth unless we tell them. Sitting back and complaining does nothing to solve problems, but speaking up can. Contact your representatives and let them know what you think of the job they’ve done. It’s tempting to only reach out with negative feedback, but it’s okay to let your elected officials know when they get it right too.

  3. Get involved. There are volunteer positions aplenty in our community. Helping on a candidate’s campaign so they get elected or re-elected can make a difference. Serving on an education or citizen advisory board, even helping to organize elections in your area are ways to actively participate in your local political community. There’s something for everyone. 

The big takeaway is that we have to pay attention. Sometimes politics can be boring and esoteric. Trust me, I know. I’ve personally endured hours of school board,  board of supervisors, and federal committee meetings. There’s a lot of information covered and not all of it is relevant. It is an opportunity to hear about important things that can affect me and my family’s life. Budget allocation isn’t sexy, but where the money goes affects major outcomes. Will your local school division receive new social studies books for the first time in a decade? That might depend on the school board requesting it of the board of supervisors, and having that request granted. Glamorous? Nope. Vital to an informed population? Damn, right it is!

When we take the time to participate in politics at our local and state levels, we can cultivate community leadership that reflects the values that are most important to us as individuals. We positively influence our community by making known what we want and need to thrive. As we’ve seen recently, when we don’t pay attention we can get stuck with something that’s less than fabulous. And then it can be years before we have another chance to choose better.

Time is running out.

November 3rd is rapidly approaching, so you have two important steps to take. Get informed about your ballot. Really learn who’s running, not just their party affiliation. Not all Democrats are bad, nor are all Republicans good, and vice versa. Almost every critical issue that you care about is addressed in one way or another at the school board, board of supervisors, and state level of representation. Do you care about how the coronavirus is being handled?  Do you care about racial reconciliation?  Do you care about the economy? Of course, you do! The ballot that will determine the future of national politics also determines the immediate present for the individuals, children, and families in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

Also if you know or have met a local official in or around your district… thank them! These are some of the hardest working folks in our communities and rarely will they get the recognition and gratitude they deserve. Did you know that most of these folks serve in their role part-time while working other jobs and caring for their families? Having lots to do and not enough time to do it is a situation to which many of us can relate. 

So, go vote! Vote early, vote by mail, just make sure you do the damn thing…
VOTE, get involved and make a difference where you are. 


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we’re baaaaack!

Have you ever had a period of time where it felt like you’re always stuck in second gear? You know, when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year? (If you just sang that to the tune of the Friend’s theme, I’m proud of you.) We have definitely felt that way at many points from November 2019 through April 2020. Both Erica and I had large projects at work, side jobs and volunteer work, not to mention making time for our significant others, family, and friends. Just when we were coming up to catch our breath and get back to blogging again, then a global pandemic hit. Now that we’ve caught our breath AGAIN, we’re baaaaack!

We thought it was time to introduce ourselves again…

We are two best friends (Crystal and Erica) that have known each other since the summer of 1991 (might notice 91 in the name), that hope to encourage you to press pause, hit REWIND, and try again. Pausing, rewinding, and trying again can look different depending on the day, the week, month, or maybe even year (sorryish, I couldn’t resist). We like to talk about self-care, our local communities (Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia), things happening in our world that speak to our hearts, and living green. 

We might not be experts, but we have heart…

We are by no means experts on the previously mentioned topics, but they are things that mean a lot to us. We both have a tendency to go hard, overschedule ourselves, and forget to slow down for self-care. We both know and firmly believe that it’s a crucial thing for our lives and mental health. We hope to share content that encourages you to make yourself a priority, while we continually work to do the same. When we’re not writing about wellness and self-care, you’ll catch us worrying, texting each other, and fretting about the world around us. The two of us feel things deeply when our world is hurting, and sometimes sharing what’s on our hearts helps to spur us to action or get others thinking about it. We might not write about every problem in the world, but on occasion, we hope you’ll pause and think deeper about how we can make the world a better place together. Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing your own grocery bag, water bottle, or cup, and sometimes it means writing letters, serving on a committee, or speaking out. 

Keeping it local

Why write about Richmond, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina? We have a special spot for Richmond, Virginia because that is where we met. It was on its suburban streets where we rode our bikes, played pretend, and shared our dreams with each other. Then it was on its urban streets that we ate and drank our way around to our gastronomic delight. We also both love where we currently live (Crystal in Richmond, Erica in Raleigh), and hope you will too. Whether you live in these cities or pass through, we hope you’ll pause in them to enjoy some of the goodness we love.

It’s never too late to try again…

In thinking about the things that matter to us, we want you to know that it’s never too late to start over. We all start off with the best of intentions, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. In those moments, we encourage you to press pause (especially on the negative self-talk), hit rewind (to reflect on moving forward), and try again. 

As we move forward in 2020 (and beyond), let’s be kind, and push one another onward and upward.



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the magic is already in you

I’m sure I am not the only person has noticed the MANY articles, blog posts, and witty memes about the end of the decade. Frankly, I’m so glad that the year is almost over so I can stop seeing them. Here’s why: these posts habitually focus on the need to finish accomplishing the things that remain on our to do/goal list or setting a new list for the new year or perhaps the upcoming decade. These reminders of the end of the 20-teens ending seem to have a primary focus on playing catch-up, because you’ve somehow dropped the ball on the ending year/decade. Rather than focus on what you haven’t done and/or need still to do, I have something different I want us to focus on… 

As you’re preparing for the beginning of a new decade, remember the magic in already in you. 

There’s nothing magical about the new year 

Just writing the words above makes me feel like I’ve committed a blogging sin, but I firmly believe it’s the truth. There’s nothing magical about new decade, or even year, unless you want it to be. If it gives you a renewed purpose, great. BUT if the focus on a magical new month, year, or decade causes you stress, let’s put it to rest. You are a great human being today, just as you are. Do we each have things we can do to make us better humans? Absolutely! However, you don’t need a new year or decade to start making a change. You can decide to make that change whenever you decide the moment is right. 


I gave up New Years resolutions 

Many years ago, I would come up with the requisite list of New Year’s resolutions. Soon after, I would fall off the New-Year-Wagon and fail to complete my list of resolutions. I would feel frustrated that I couldn’t stick accomplishing these goals, because I wasn’t like this in other parts of my life. Over time, I would try setting different New Year goals, until I finally realized this was causing me undue stress. I decided my new year could start whenever I wanted, because the New Year isn’t the boss of me anyway. 

An important reminder for us all as we begin the new decade. 

Recently, Erica and I were talking about our hopes and dreams for ourselves and our blog, and this got me thinking about some little reminders for all of us. 

  1. A new decade is definitely an exciting, new opportunity for setting long-term goals. We don’t have to limit ourselves to accomplishing our dreams in a year. Ten years is a more reasonable timeframe for big things. 

  2. We have a new decade of living into who we want to be. 

  3. It’s time to embrace who and where we are right now.

As we embrace the magic that is already in us, we can give up lamenting what we are not and what we perceive others expect of us. It’s time for us to love who and what we are now. Loving and supporting the self we are today, will carry us into a vibrant new decade. 



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Doing more of what brings you joy

Halloween is over, so for some that means it is time for all things Christmas . I’ve long been a firm believer that it is far too soon, but I’m not here to be the Grinch (who stole your Christmas joy) or Ebenezer Scrooge. I’d like to take a moment to recommend doing more what brings you joy.

Live into the seasons

I’ve lived my whole life in Virginia, and one of the reasons I love it and stay, is that we have four distinct seasons. Some may say they live for a particular season alone, but I want them all. Yes, I have my favorites of the bunch, but I don’t want to be hemmed into loving only one. Just when one season feels like it is too much, it is time for another. I welcome the change of the seasons, and this leads me into my thoughts on decorating and celebrating them.

It’s time to loosen up..

I am a rules person. There is a way that we are supposed to do things (and NOT do them). I have had rules for many years regarding the various holidays:

  • I will not, and I repeat, will not listen to Christmas music until after I have consumed my Thanksgiving dinner. After this point (regardless of the time of day), I can begin enjoying that joyous music (Mariah Carey Christmas for life!)

  • I will not decorate for Christmas until we are as close to Christmas day as possible. This has caused challenges with obtaining a Christmas tree, so I have had to loosen up on this rule a little bit. (If you see me in person, ask about the pawn shop Christmas tree.)

  • I will enjoy my Christmas decorations for all twelve days of Christmas, and not pack them away  until Epiphany (the actual twelfth day of Christmas…forget this twelve days leading up to Christmas nonsense).

  • I will not decorate for Easter until after Good Friday, as the Easter season does not begin until Sunday.

  • Easter decorations can stay up until Pentecost, BUT they probably won’t because I cannot handle keeping them up that long.

  • My United States of America flag should fly from Memorial Day until at least Independence Day.

  • Halloween decorations should not go up until the week of Halloween

BUT I have come to the realization and conclusion this year, that we need not be overly legalistic. You see, I was called to account this year for being a possible joy thief by my Halloween-loving child, and my rules for Halloween decorations were turned on their head. It is time to loosen up.


Decorating early and often causes…

Immense JOY.
This spookey Halloween fanatical child of mind BEGGED me to decorate for DAYS until I caved. so, the decorations went up the first weekend of October against (what I thought was) my better judgement. I had no idea that I could enjoy Halloween decorations as much as I did, and it’s got me singing a different tune.

Maybe I should allow decorations to go up earlier in my house. I’ve now swapped my Halloween decorations for some fall décor, and I’m waiting (mostly patiently) to get the Christmas decorations up. In just a few weeks I’ll get all the Christmas decorations down from the attic and enjoy them for a whole SIX weeks this year.

No matter the season, do what brings you joy!

Whether you’re a “decorate early and often” person, a “wait to decorate” person, or a “please, no decorations at all” person, I encourage you to do you all year long.
Do not feel bound to follow the decorating rules of the rest of the world. Do what will bring you the most joy, and do it with ALL your heart.


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Save the planet, BE a HERO!

If you’re a child of the late 80s and early 90s, there is a strong chance you are familiar with Captain Planet. If not, google it, we’ll wait. This amazing (I loved it and still do) cartoon series explored the perils of pollution, mismanagement of natural resources, unconscious business practices, and a host of other environmentally-motivated topics. This franchise put earth lovers and environmentalists on a SUPERHERO pedestal and made conservation cool. Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ message that WE can and should work to make our planet better is an empowering one. Together we can have a positive impact. We can take steps today to fight this…Save the planet, be a HERO! 

There’s another group of environmentalist kids inspiring the world today. But it’s not enough to just “like” quotes from Greta Thundberg, Ridhima Pandey, Alexandria Villaseñor and others on social media. It’s not enough to applaud their outspokenness or appreciate their passion for the environment. We, the very same grown ups that have failed them, MUST act. The good news is that it’s pretty easy.

Here are some ideas for simple steps you can take to GO GREEN:

They are getting into the spirit of conservation at Ocean Isle Beach.

They are getting into the spirit of conservation at Ocean Isle Beach.

  1. BYO Bottle – Some think of BYOB as a party recommendation (bring your own beverage), but we’re talking about bringing your own water bottle. Bottled water is convenient if you’re concerned about your tap water, which is a legitimate issue in some areas. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans do indeed have access to clean drinking water. Disposable water bottles are terrible for the planet, and costly for your wallet. Save money AND the planet by bringing your own bottle. 

  2. BYO Bag – this is an easy one and a fun one. Reusable grocery bags come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and cute prints. You don’t just have to use them for groceries, you can use them for all kinds of stuff; toting lunch to work, makeshift purse or gym bag, even as gift-bags, etc. And some stores will even give you a discount for using them? That’s kickass! You can get a cute bag whilst practicing green living and saving a few pennies at the same time? Let’s call that a WIN WIN WIN!

  3. Go meatless once a week – it’s also a fact that commercial farms are tough on our planet. Opting out of animal products once a week is a great way to try new foods and lessen our dependence on an unsustainable supply chain. I get it, this is a big ask and not everyone is down for a big bowl of kale and chickpeas. If going meatless isn’t for you, explore options for shopping from organic farmers in your area. Yes it may cost a little more, but you’re funneling money DIRECTLY into your home community and helping a local business owner thrive. Yum! Local lunch, anyone?

  4. DITCH the straws – unless you’re still on sippy cups, straws are really a silly convenience item. We do not need them. If someone hands you one at a restaurant hand it back and watch their confused face It’s funny! If you must have a straw, opt for one that is dishwasher safe and reusable! They come in cool colors and multiple materials. 

  5. Alternative transportation –  it’s not practical for all of us to sell our cars and start biking to work every day, but we can get creative with how we get around. Cutting down on our time in automobiles is not just a green idea, it’s also kind of fun! Instead of driving to the corner lunch spot, take a bike ride. Perhaps you and your coworker take a picnic lunch instead of carpooling to Panera? Maybe you book a vacation rental that has restaurants and shops within walking distance? Uber even has options for sharing rides with people that are going in your direction. And it’s CHEAP, y’all. Seeking out opportunities to carpool, get out on two wheels, or your own two-legs whenever you can will drive down emissions and probably make you feel happy. After all saving money, engaging in movement and spending time outside can all boost your mood.

He’s a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero…wanna help?

He’s a hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero…wanna help?

If we all do a little, it adds up to a lot! You just have to start somewhere. Commit to do just one of these things. You will feel better knowing you’re fighting on the planet side. Just like Captain Planet said…The Power is YOURS!

Just in case you are wondering, #CaptainPlanet is still fighting the good fight over at, so head over to learn more!

In light and love,


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I miss him

Suicide is this dirty little word we never want to talk about. It’s sad and depressing. It’s worse than politics or religion because you shouldn’t bring it up in polite company. But here’s the thing, suicide has affected far more people than you realize. On August 13, 2009 I found out that my cousin Jason had taken his own life. Today and every day since that event, I miss him.

The the best way I can honor my cousin’s life today is to tell you about him and to be a voice for those who are struggling right now. I’m grateful for a family that embraced each other then and now. I am grateful for friends that walked with me in my grief. I am also grateful for friends that have shared that they’re on this “survivor” path of grief with me. Only those who have lost someone to suicide know the depths of this pain, and we wish it on no one else. 

Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s weddingCrystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Crystal and Jason dancing at their aunt’s wedding

Let me tell you about Jason

Jason P. Thompson was the cousin closest to my age on my mom’s side of the family. Our birthdays were almost exactly 18 months apart, and growing up, we did EVERYTHING together. Losing him was like losing a part of me. It was and still is hard to lose him; not just for myself but for his dad and two older sisters also. I could try and share why I think he took his life, but that’s something none of us will ever know. I do know that he dealt with much pain and heartbreak in the final years of his short life. I know that he battled a deep and dark depression. I wish HE KNEW how much he was loved and how much the world would hurt without him in it. 

Today and every day, I miss him.

During the second week of August each year, I always feel off. In the first few years following Jason’s suicide, I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with me. Over time, I have become aware that it’s my grief and longing for my cousin to still be here. I know that there is nothing I can do to bring him back, but I can work to ensure others will not have to go through this. 

Today and every day, we have people we miss.

I’m sure each of us has suffered a loss. We have people we miss and long for in our lives. With that longing comes an opportunity and we can choose to act on those feelings if we want. We can pick up the phone and call. We can send a message. We can mail a note or card. We can visit. And why shouldn’t we let people know when we miss them? I’ve seen first hand that we don’t always get another chance to share our feelings. 

Sometimes what we do won’t be enough.

Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and KamiCousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

Cousins (left to right): Kara, Jason, Crystal, and Kami

I and others in my family talked to Jason a lot about how much we loved him and that he mattered to us. We knew he was going through some difficulties. My uncle worked tirelessly to find Jason something that would help and tried his best to support him as any father would. Despite our combined efforts, Jason still took his life. He left us behind and we will always feel that. Anyone affected by suicide knows this all too well. We can’t change what happened; our love for those we have lost never ends. Unfortunately, neither does the pain. We move forward, but we are never the same. 

If you are in your darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you know that:

  • you are loved

  • you are important

  • you will be missed

  • you should tell someone you are hurting and need help

If you know or love someone who is in their darkest, saddest, hardest moments…

I hope you will tell them that:

  • they are loved

  • they are important

  • they will be missed

  • that you’re here to help

Today marks ten years since…

I received the news that Jason was gone forever. Each year gets a touch easier in some ways. I want to encourage each of us to be vigilant and stay aware. Suicide is a really terrible thing. We have a tendency to believe it won’t happen to anyone we know, but there’s no guarantee. If we know of people who battle suicidal thoughts, we have an opportunity. We can reach out to those people, we can try to connect them with help, or we can call for help. Sometimes our work won’t stop someone from taking their own life, but if we will never know until we try…  

On this day, please do this one small favor:

If you or someone you love (or like a little or maybe don’t even like at all) may be contemplating, struggling through, or living beyond suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. 

Put this number in your contact list for that moment of need. Maybe it’s not for you, maybe you will never need it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were ready to help someone else?

I want to end by saying that I am mostly okay, but I miss Jason today and every day. I want to celebrate him, you, myself, and the gift of life.