Living Well

Don’t Forget Yourself

November is well underway at this point. Halloween has come and gone, Thanksgiving is just around the corner with other winter holidays following close behind. It’s a busy time of year, which for many of us will only get busier. While you’re running around gifting and giving this holiday season, don’t forget yourself.

I say this because I’ve noticed that in my own life, the self-care rituals I really enjoy are the first things that drop off when my schedule picks up. We all have responsibilities and must be flexible at times; it’s part of adulting. But we usually sacrifice those little things that bring us joy when we need them the most. Head’s up-I have one way to ensure you get yourself a little TLC before the holidays, (and at 15% off too) but you’ll have to read on for that.

When the tasks pile up, I feel like I don’t have time to take care of myself. How can I possibly go to yoga when I have so much to do? I can’t spend an hour cooking when I’m already behind on this project…Sounds familiar, yah? I think many of us have felt this conundrum. FELT being the key word. 

If only I had more…Subconsciously I believe if I can require less energy/time/food/sleep/whatever I can have more energy to channel elsewhere. While it would be cool, this logic doesn’t say much for common sense. The truth is that we have to take care of our needs if we’re going to be of any use to the world. And speaking of the world, it will continue to turn regardless, so you may as well make yourself a priority.

Simply put, we cannot get something from nothing. I think it was a third grade science lesson that I first learned that matter can neither be created or destroyed. It can be transformed though and embody different states. I like to think about human energy in the same way. Our energy can ebb and flow but it is present at all times.

Self-care is one way we can transform our energy. Spending time generating good feelings can help us feel rejuvenated and refreshed. A few months ago I had an opportunity to recharge my energy at a local yoga retreat hosted by my dear friends Lauren and Cici. It was the perfect way to reconnect with myself and my yoga practice in a playful and friendly atmosphere. Here’s a little recap of my Day Pass experience.

The retreat was located nearby at The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain in Chapel Hill which is about 40 minutes outside of Raleigh. I couldn’t go for the whole weekend, but I was able to purchase a Day Pass to attend the Saturday sessions. This was perfect because it allowed me to enjoy a TON of great activities like multiple yoga classes, workshops AND yummy snacks, at a great price.

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

I arrived at the farm and was greeted by the sweetest little goats just in time to gather with the group for a quick cup of tea. We said hellos and headed upstairs for an energetic morning vinyasa lead by Lauren. About 75 ass-kicking minutes later, I was roused from Savasana by the scent of roasted sweet potatoes. Magically, there was a delicious brunch spread waiting for us after class. It thoughtfully included every possible dietary option with labels to help clarify… very nice touch!

After brunch, we had a couple of hours to explore the farm before we resumed our afternoon activities. I took a walk down to the adorable Honeysuckle Tea House to get a cuppa and chat with some of the other retreat goers. To my surprise, everyone had the same story. We chose to attend the retreat because it was perfect for a last-minute Treat YoSelf activity. 

We reconvened in the afternoon for a workshop focused on demystifying the “bandhas” which of course, lead to an upside-down yogi recess. Even with many different levels of experience, Cici was able to get everyone playing with the concept of arm balancing. SO FUN!

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After this empowering but exhausting hour, Emilee from Healer’s Hemp Co gave us a crash course in all things Cannabis. She offered some insight on dosing and what to look for as you shop. Raleigh Raw came through with a create-your-own poke bar which was a huge highlight for me. I just LOVE Raleigh Raw and I got extra cashew sauce this time. 

Our evening yoga class was inspired by Yin and Thai massage and was a perfect way to conclude such a physical day. We partnered up for some assisted stretches, which contrary to my expectation, was not weird at all. (By that point in the day, we were all very close friends, ha!) The class was gentle and relaxing and it left me feeling restored but still alert…I had to drive home after all. 

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

Photos courtesy of JME Photography

After a fireside s’more, I hugged everybody–literally everybody at the retreat, goodbye and headed home. I was so blissed out, I don’t even think I turned on the radio.

So, with the Day Pass I got way more than I paid for…multiple yoga classes, knowledge, delicious foods, fellowship with awesome yogis AND I was home before 11pm! It was amazing and I highly encourage you to join Lauren and Cici for a day at their upcoming Winter Immersion Nov 21-24. For 15% off, use the code DAYPASS15 when you check out. Visit the retreat website to sign up; the discount is valid until Saturday 11/16.

As the holidays draw near and you’re giving everything to everyone, don’t forget yourself. You deserve TLC as much as the next guy or gal on your list. When things get crazy double down on the joy mongering. Make time for fun so you can smile your way through these wild times. 

Whether you commit to your weekly fitness class, family dinners or spending a day (or maybe the whole weekend) at an amazing local retreat, DO NOT forget yourself this holiday season.

in love and light,


taking care

Do you need room?

No matter how many times I visit New World Cafe and order my coffee black, whoever is working behind the counter will always ask the same thing…”Do you need room?”

In case you’re not a big coffee or tea drinker, they are talking about leaving room for cream…
Normally, I politely say, ‘No thanks’ and move on about my day, but this past weekend I began to reflect on the idea of leaving room. I am not talking about in my coffee cup (I need as much caffeinated bean water as I can get!), but as it relates to holding space.

You see, I have a hard time holding space in my life.

Just like with my coffee cup, I’m quick to utilize any open space that is available to me. Whether it’s on my calendar, in my house, or in my life I am constantly filling ‘space’ with activities, with people, with obligations, with THINGS. It’s as if I’m enchanted with the idea of fulfillment; like busyness and consumerism somehow indicate my worth. I know that more doesn’t always mean better, yet I have a hard time with unused capacity. It’s like my parents and their parents and their parents’ parents have all said, “Waste not, want not.”

Unused capacity, in the business world at least, is synonymous with waste. If you’re paying rent, but not making money, you’re losing profit…which is bad, right? Of course it is…nobody wants to lose money! But we aren’t talking about money. We are talking about life.

Life is about experiences and opportunities…

it’s a spectrum of actions and reactions that ripple out into the universe. Things happen, and for better or worse, they cause other things to happen. I like to think that it’s all connected in some way, but regardless it is easy to accept that life is a series of situations that happen to and because of the decisions we make.

Sometimes good things happen, and sometimes bad things happen, but we can be sure, no matter what, that things will happen in life. And when they happen, we can choose how we react to them. This is important! I have no idea who should be credited the following quote (so if you do, speak up) but it is so relevant right now:

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Have you ever heard someone say they were in the ‘right place at the right time’?

This concept is born from holding space. We can only be in one place at one time. If we choose to pursue one opportunity, it is often at the cost of another. Being in the right place at the right time is when a person is able to create space to embrace an opportunity exactly when they need to. We are not mind-readers which is why serendipity is so significant.

I was recently faced with a difficult decision, one that fed right into my “fill-er-up” tendencies…

I found myself in a complex situation where I realized an opportunity, one I was very passionate about pursuing, was coming to an end. If I am being totally honest, I was not ready for it to end. I was emotional and conflicted. I could stay with it try to hold the pieces together, or I could let it go. My MO is always to stay, to keep the space full and continue working it until my only option is to admit defeat. Just as no one likes to lose money, nobody likes to throw in the towel either.

After fretting about what I would lose and how people would appraise my decision and what I did to set things on a downward trajectory, I had to get a grip on my emotions and remember the truth. Not every relationship and/or situation is meant to be. If I continue holding on to a floundering one, would I possibly miss out on something more fruitful?

I decided to let go of what wasn’t serving me and hold space for something new.

I feel a little brave as I jump into the unknown. I can be grateful for an opportunity that didn’t work out. The fact that it did not work out is just life, it doesn’t mean I am a failure. I still learned something. I still experienced things that I will take with me into the next venture.

The idea of having nothing to fill the empty space is unsettling, but I realize I can see it a different way. Empty space can be very exciting…like a brand new apartment, or an unexpected day off, or interviewing for a brand new job. Not knowing encourages optimism, idealization, and inspiration. We can try new things, reinvent ourselves, learn from our mistakes and begin anew.

Every now and then, we need a clean slate.

We need to take out the garbage, clean the house and prepare for something new. We may not know what that new something will be, but we can leave some room and hope for the best.



Living Well

one down, 11 to go!

We are now into the second month of this year. If you’re anything like me, you are shocked at how rapidly January came and went. You may be equally shocked to find that it did not turn out how you expected or planned. Outside of paying bills and other basic human functions, I did not check a single box of my “stuff to do” list. I did not create my ideal routine or lose 10 pounds or start eating clean. I made very little, if any, progress. It’s too late for resolutions, but it’s too early to wait until next year. How do we get ourselves pumped up for the year when we’re only one month down, with eleven to go?

We all have a story in our heads and it can get a little dark when things get topsy turvy. Learning to spin that story into motivation for change is like giving yourself a mental high-five. Read on for some ideas on how to soften the blow of disappointment and affirmations to pick ourselves back up when life knocks us down.

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We start with forgiveness.

We can all cut ourselves some slack, and right now, I know I desperately need it. As tempting as it is to beat myself up for what I didn’t get right, it only serves to make me feel worse. We have a long way to go in this still mostly new year. Let’s try to forgive the mistakes we have made or the things we forgot to prioritize and look to the future.

The story in my head is that this year is off to a bad start and will only get worse.

Positive Affirmation –  I will forgive myself for over programming my time this month and work to define more free time in the future.

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We can reframe.

Reframing or adjusting expectations has been a hot topic in my life lately, both professionally and personally. One of the principles of agile project management is to break up your large objectives into smaller, more digestible, action items. This serves to shift our focus to what we can control right now and away from distractions. Why worry about something that hasn’t happened yet? (This is easier said than done, believe me!) To clarify, reframing or adjusting or reassessing or whatever you want to call it is not giving up. It’s a tool to seek opportunities for improvement. Every failure or f*ckup is a chance to learn. When we apply our lessons learned, we get smarter and work better.

The story in my head is that I’m failing to manage my time effectively.

Affirmation – I may not have met my goal for being at work before 8 am every day, but I notice it takes me a long time to get ready to leave the house in the morning. I should focus on creating a morning routine!

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We can give it another try.

The good news is that we have plenty of 2019 left to restrategize and live our best lives. So what if January was a bit of a doozy. We have eleven more months to keep plugging away and making little changes. The time is going to pass regardless of our attitude, so we may as well try and keep it positive, eh? If we can forgive ourselves, and reframe our expectations, we can find room for self-improvement.

The story in my head is that I should give up on making this year great.

Affirmation – I have learned so much already in this new year about how I manage time. I can focus on small improvements that will add up to make my life easier to manage.

The truth is that failure exposes opportunities.

Failure is not a dirty word. It is defined as “a lack of success”. It is not an abysmal humiliation performed by a dummy. It is not the end of the world. We tried, but it didn’t work. When something doesn’t go as planned, it is very tempting to look at the outcome as bad or a waste of time. But it isn’t those things. It is simply a lack of success, which if you think about it, is a pretty neutral statement. If we fail at something, we can rule out at least one approach that doesn’t get us where we want to be. With a little reflection, we may be able to learn why our effort was a flop and try something new.

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The year is still pretty fresh, you guys. If you feel a little behind or a little lost or a little stuck, you are not alone. I feel all those things and I want you to know that it will be okay. We have the power to pause and forgive ourselves for mistakes. We owe it to ourselves to press rewind and reflect on the outcome of our efforts – for better or worse. And lastly, every day we wake up is a chance to try again. To apply those lessons learned and just keep moving forward.

Loving oneself means being your own cheerleader in good times and bad. Do yourself a solid and spin your story into motivation. We’ve got a lot of 2019 left…remember to cut yourself some slack when the ship hits the sand. Look for ways to wise up and fail forward and this just might be your best year ever.

In love, light, and laughter at ourselves,


taking care

A Picture of Good Health

So we reposted a powerful image a couple of weeks ago, and judging from the number of likes, it really resonated with a lot of folks. Today, I would like to start a conversation about body positivity. I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences on the topic, beginning with some simple food for thought: What does it mean to be healthy? Can you define it in words? Can you capture it in an image? What is a picture of good health?

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty vain…

I like to feel good about the way I look and work very hard so that I can feel good. I do spend a lot of time worrying about it though. I follow a number of so-called “healthy lifestylists” on Instagram, too. They are outwardly attractive, scantily clad, Mt. Olympus-looking people who’d like for us to believe that they LIVE to work out. They eat nothing but kale and maybe boiled chicken breast. They even take exquisitely choreographed candid photos. Are these people healthy? Who can say? I suppose they look like it.

I also follow a lot of amazing people society would call fat activists, whose accounts brandish hashtags like #breakthestereotype, #fitatanysize, and #everyBODYmatters. These people accept themselves- no, they love themselves despite criticism by the truckloads. They refuse to be defined by other people’s opinions and inspire me to be bolder in defining myself. These people live their truth and embrace their unique experiences without shame. Are these people healthy? Instinctively we are taught that bigger bodies are undesirable, but does that mean that they are unhealthy? I don’t know. How could I possibly know?

When I think about myself, I know exactly how hard I work to counteract all my terrible habits.

I eat a lot of sweets, but I work out a lot. Is that balance? On the one hand, my “numbers” are great – you know – blood pressure, cholesterol, waist circumference, blood glucose, etc. I’m not at risk for anything, so does that mean I’m healthy? You may think the answer is yes, yet every time I step on the scale, my doctor reminds me that I’m overweight and my BMI is high. I have a career, hobbies, and the ability to support myself. But still, I struggle. I struggle with anxiety and depression, substance abuse, body dysmorphia…the list goes on and on. Does that mean I should spend more time in therapy and or more time dieting and exercising? Which is more important? Physical or mental health? How your body looks or how it functions? Again, I don’t really know.

Unfortunately, pictures don’t always show you the whole story.

I drove by a place of business the other day and saw something shocking. I won’t name names, but it’s a kickboxing gym. There was a gigantic sign out front with the studio namesake and the words, “Fight the Fat”. I work in marketing and let me tell you that I love advertising, especially when it’s clever. This, however, was not clever. It was the opposite of body positivity. It was shame mongering and it turned me off.

To me, this Fight the Fat mantra is negative and exclusive. It is not welcoming to a person beginning their fitness journey. It says, “hey fattie, you don’t belong here, we are against you.” I’m quite sure that this business did not intend to lose customers with this slogan, but how could someone feel inspired by this message? It got me thinking about health and wellness. Not just my personal feelings about the topic, but the way health is viewed by society, and the way people are treated in the health and wellness space.

The motivation to improve oneself is not enough to sidestep judgement. It doesn’t matter that a large body goes for a run, or a chronically depressed person goes to therapy, or that an addict seeks counseling or support The mere need for these things illustrates imperfections. Aside from the rampant negativity in that logic, it’s just plain bad business.

Health and wellness is for everyone.

Deciding to change your lifestyle is hard enough. What is the value in further intimidating people by making them feel less than? Fitness is not just for those who have already demonstrated aptitude. It’s not graduate school. It’s living your best life, and we are all worthy of that.


Shame is a powerful tactic in selling health and wellness.

There are products, companies, and entire industries that prey upon our shame. Again, I don’t want to name names, but you can guess what I’m talking about. These entities remind us that our feelings of inadequacy are valid and suggest that solutions to our problems can be bought for a small monthly auto payment. This is simply not true. You cannot capture health in an image. A healthy life is the combined effort of how we take to care of ourselves—inside and out. It’s not just what we eat, or how we exercise. It’s how we talk to ourselves, it’s how we sleep, and the people we associate with. It is so much more than how our body looks.

The same goes for body positivity. You cannot see a person’s life story, their intentions, their dreams, their struggles from a single image. There is no picture of good health. Who are we to judge which bodies are worthy of appreciation? There is nobody and NO BODY that deserves to be shamed. Bodies belong to people and I think we can all agree to support our human race.


Next time you feel compelled to assess another person’s lifestyle, take a look at your own. If we’re honest, we can all find a little room for improvement. With that in mind, lend your encouragement and positivity to EVERY. SINGLE. BODY. We are all on a journey, the depths of which cannot be seen from the outside.




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