Our weekend in King's Canyon National park

My husband and I are still working through our list of national parks in California. Last weekend we checked out King's Canyon and it (by far) exceeded my expectations. I hadn't looked up any details, I just had a visual of what I thought it would be like..  my mental picture didn't even come close. This park was so grand! There were hardly any other visitors, it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We chose to do the mist falls hike and were beside a beautiful green, clear river almost the entire day! There were also a few gorgeous waterfalls just off of the roads to pull over and see. Overall it was a very easy park to explore and navigate. Well worth the drive from Pleasanton.

There is this strong connection with water that I (and my family) have. We grew up going to our cottage in Caseville, MI on Lake Huron. Boating was always my Dad's favorite activity and so of course my siblings and I have all done our fair share of that. After I graduated from high school my family moved to Northern Michigan, and had easy access to several lakes, we were only a 30 minute drive from Lake Michigan. On my days off while I was in nursing school, I would head to the beach or take a hike in the upper peninsula where there are so many water features, it is like a playground! I watched a movie (one from the chronicles of narnia series) years ago where I saw a scene with the most beautiful blue water flowing between canyons. A quick google search led me to find out that New Zealand is quite gorgeous, and has some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen. I made a commitment to myself, at a young age, to go and see that glacier water! Years later, my husband and I actually got engaged in NZ! I even have tiny, blue/green stones "hidden" in my engagement ring, because he understood my lifelong love for that aspect of nature. 

My love for water is difficult to explain,  But it is something that I feel so deeply. The reflective details on the surface, the many different hues of blue and green, the bodies of water all over the world that are so life giving. The way that it continually pushes up on the shore and then pulls back, with loud swooshing white noise that could calm me in any situation. The way that it carves out valleys, and canyons  like the one in this National park. The way that it guided us along our hike,  and continued to flow from its origin while we soaked up its beauty.

I was so grateful for this trip, our views, and that river. This was some much needed quality time with my sweetheart <3

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Clean eating while camping

A weekend meal plan for two. 

Riley and I love to get away on the weekends. He has those two (precious) days off, and a lot of times we decide to use them to see a new place and enjoy the great outdoors. We have done this enough lately to realize that we loosely follow the same meal plan for these short trips. It is an easy, fast, affordable way with minimal prepping and minimal cooking to stay on track with your clean eating. 

We have found that packing our own food is essential, if we don't, the options are fast food and gas station junk. We are usually on the road pretty late by the time he gets out of work, and that leaves little to no hope for finding anything decent that's open on the way. 

I have dinner ready for us before we leave, usually something like a red lentil pasta bake with marinara sauce and basil or a pesto chicken salad. This past weekend I had a chicken, kale, olive, and mushroom skillet prepared with plenty of lemon juice and garlic. Eating well before and during travel has made all of the difference for me. My sleep, energy levels, mood etc are all affected by food, so I am happy to bring my favorite meals along with us. 

Day 1

Breakfast: Granola with kefir and fruit (Berries are the easiest but I have also prepped and cut mangos and watermelon ahead of time and that makes for a better breakfast bowl), coffee 

Snacks while hiking: Grass fed beef jerky sticks and lara bars. 

Lunch: lettuce wraps with turkey or chicken (I use leftover from home) tomato, onion, hummus

Dinner: Tuna burgers  (options for turkey or beef burgers) with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, condiments of choice. Chips, salsa, and coleslaw. 

Dessert: Put the leftover fruit in a foil packet with bits of granola and break up a dark chocolate bar, heat it over the fire and enjoy! 

Day 2

Breakfast: Hard boiled eggs, with avocado toast and "everything but the bagel" seasoning from Trader Joes, coffee. 

Snacks while hiking: Apples and oranges 

Lunch: Turkey or chicken, hummus, peppers, cucumbers. You could also use the leftover lettuce to make this into a salad 

Dinner: Chicken tacos (with leftover chicken from home) with black beans, corn and salsa 

Optional, stop for dinner on the way home and opt out of prepping this meal. 

What you will need to bring:

  • Silverware
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • French press ( we definitely qualify this as a "need")
  • Tin foil
  • Skillet (depending on whether you will have access to a grill or not)
  • Spatula
  • Cooler
  • To drink: we bring at least a few gallons of filtered berkey water from home, and kombucha. 

What you will need to prep:

  • Hard boil eggs at home
  • Cook or bring leftover chicken/turkey from home

 

There is so much to be said for getting away, having a weekend outside, and feeling unplugged from the crazy world that we live in. Eating well while we are out there, just makes it that much better for our bodies. When we plan longer trips, the cooking gets a bit more involved. We also love breakfast skillets in the morning, but these quick trips with limited time are perfect for this meal plan above. Try it out and let me know what you think <3

I wish you wellness.

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A weekend in the PNW

Riley and I spent Memorial weekend up in Seattle and Mount Rainier National park. He had found a good deal on tickets a few weeks ago and booked them for us right away. We are really living out here to see and experience as much as possible, and up in Washington, there is even more to see than I could possibly hope for. I have driven through WA but never stayed, so I was really excited! 

We are embracing a "no excuses" guide to life. Want to go on an adventure? Then go. Want to move somewhere new? Make it happen. Want a different life and future then you are on track for? Time to get to work. It is empowering to take a "my life is in my hands" approach and to see your life actually change. We are so happy and excited about everything that life has to offer, because we know that we are our own keys to happiness and success. This was just a small weekend trip, but it symbolizes everything that we live by. Don't pass up any opportunities for something as silly as doubt or the comfort of staying home. Just go. 

I love traveling with my husband because we are almost always on the same page for things that we want to see and do, we make a really good team. We decided to stay closer to Mount Rainier National Park the first night so that we could wake up and get an early start. We found a B&B about 40 minutes from the entrance to the park, which was good enough. This place was so unique! It was a straw bail construction with exposed beams, concrete walls, and beautiful gardens surrounding the home. I feel it is fair to call the owners "quirky" because they were a self proclaimed "weird and unique" couple. They were so kind and cooked us an organic breakfast with coffee, toast, eggs, and grapefruit before we started our day. We walked through the gardens listening to the birds chirp, watching the bees and hummingbirds, and the cat hunting some unknown prey. What I noticed the most was the smell. That fresh air, cool morning, woodsy scent. But this time, it was different. The area and climate breed a different type of forest than I am used to; I had never smelled this before. It was so rich, so awakening, and absolutely amazing. The owner showed us a few of the rocks he had collected and gave us one that had little crystal formations inside of it. With that, he sent us on our way.

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We drove to Mount Rainier and entered the park pretty early in the morning. No line to get in, no traffic, it was really enjoyable. We pulled over everywhere that we could to see the forest, waterfalls, go on hikes, and take in all of the sights and sounds of this park. The weather changed fast, with some light rain in the morning and fog that got pretty heavy throughout the afternoon. We actually didn't get views of the mountain but really appreciated our time hiking and exploring. We also love a good excuse to have to come back! 

My favorite part of the day was one short walk through the woods. There was no one around and we silently searched for our favorite elements. Riley loves the grandeur of nature. Mountains, tall trees, large open spaces. I tend to get lost in the little things. Leaves, ferns, tiny details, and dewdrops on plants. I call them "natures jewelry" and think it is the most gorgeous thing to witness after rainfall. 

We drove as far as we could on the roads that were opened (some are seasonal). We saw a lot of snow at the end of the drive but the fog was so thick I just stopped taking pictures. It is always a comfort to see snow! It reminds us of home. 

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After exiting the park we drove by a huge line, at least five miles long of cars trying to get into Mount Rainier! We couldn't believe how backed up it was and we were so grateful that we were able to come earlier in the day. 

The drive into Seattle was really easy! We checked into our air B&B which was a studio apartment in Capital Hill. It had a lot of charm, old creaking wood floors, views of the city including the iconic space needle, and everything that we needed to stay and explore. After checking in we walked around, grabbed dinner, made sure to get a water view while the sun was setting, and went out for a glass of wine. We found one really cozy bar with friendly staff and stayed there for a while talking about what we liked so far, and what we wanted to do the next day. 

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The next day we woke up with a few things on our wish list: coffee and experiencing classic Seattle. We are pretty easy to please. We chose to walk to see everything and had an entire day full of good eats, awesome coffee, amazing views, and a pretty good taste of what the city has to offer. 

We started at Pike place market, a colorful, loud, and exciting marketplace with everything you could possibly need! The flowers there blew me away, so many different colors of the most perfect roses and peonies. There was everything from fresh seafood, to local honey, hand made knifes, organic soaps,  and a stand selling cbd oil.. I mean everything. It was locally sourced art. SO many merchants coming together to share their goods with customers. The different trades blended together into one big, amazing, must see market. 

We walked across the street where there was plenty of food, saw the first starbucks, and a french restaurant that we wandered into for brunch. The food was delicious, and the European portion sizes were so much more appropriate than ours, ha! 

We walked everywhere, to the pier, the business district, the Columbia center for views of the entire city, a lunch spot for oysters and seafood soup, then back to the waterfront to get on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. We found a cool winery there where we split a tasting, and then found a brick oven pizza place that was just like pizza in Italy. That thin crust, margarita pizza with giant pieces of basil and a few slices of mozzarella. I don't normally eat gluten or dairy, but with those real ingredients, it did not upset my stomach at all! Small victories! 

When we arrived back in downtown Seattle, we looked up a speakeasy called "needle and thread" that sounded really fun. We found the bar that it was inside of after a long but amazing walk through the city. There is a phone on the back wall that you pick up and it automatically calls up to the speakeasy. The girl on the other end said they didn't have room for us but to call back later. We enjoyed a snack at the bar until I decided to call again, this time they had room. The vault door next to the phone clicked, and it was unlocked, we walked up a dark passageway to a small attic space bar. The lighting was dim, and the energy was so calm and relaxed. People were paired off, sitting in cozy vintage chairs around small worn pieces of furniture. We were placed in a communal area just a step down from the main bar area. There was a large ottoman, some really unique pieces of art on the walls, and an overall feeling of stepping back in time. The waitress came around and told us that there were no menus. You only need to say what characteristics you liked in a beverage and the bartender would make you your own drink. How cool! My descriptive words were "citrus" and "floral." A small, classic champagne glass showed up with the most delicious raspberry & lemon flavored cocktail. I don't drink often, but when I do it's usually a ridiculously expensive cocktail for the experience of it all. This was just that. We had so much fun sipping our drinks, looking around, and talking about how we came to be so far from home in this trendy little drinking attic from the prohibition days. Life seems so random sometimes, and is so amazing. 

After the speakeasy, we walked home, which was another glorious stroll through the city.  So much going on, so many people out having a drink or a late night bite to eat. Social hour for some, but definitely bedtime for me. We arrived back, crashed into bed after an awesome day and what seemed like ten or more miles walked. Seattle, you were definitely a charmer.

We really enjoyed our time there and already want to go back! 

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Death Valley

Just the name of this valley might make you want to stay away. This is North America'a driest and hottest spot, with less that 2 inches of rainfall annually, and a record high of 134 degrees. But remember my husband and I want to see all nine of California's national parks this year?  In the spirit of travel, and seeing new places, we put it on the calendar to go with a few of Riley's Canadian friends from work. I invited my brother as well, he is living just outside of Vegas, so his trip was much shorter than ours from the bay area. Lucky!

This whole weekend was Riley's jam. Off roading in his jeep, spending time with other guys who appreciate cars and a crazy time out on the trails. He was in heaven. I on the other hand will start with a disclaimer. I really want to be truthful about experiences while I encourage people to see new places, because photos show highlights. Please don't get discouraged if your travels aren't perfect. This time, there were many discomforts to say the least. The weather got up to 94 degrees on our last day, the road we found ourselves on for wayyy too long was the worst wash board pattern I have ever seen/experienced. Our day hike left most of us with sore knees, hips, feet, etc (are we getting old??). And I ended up with some not so flattering sunburns, despite my vigilant attempts to avoid them. The eight hour drive home, through a wind and rain storm,  arriving back at 12:30am was the icing on the cake. 

Stuff like this happens all of the time. I don't report it much because it gets buried by the amazing memories made. The discomforts turn into funny stories, and the trip always turns out to be a good time. That's why I keep saying it: go and see new places. No matter what happens, I can promise you it is worth it. We had many laughs, watched the stars, felt the warm, powerful breeze sweep across the salt flats. We drove through uninhabitable land, for hours, seeing a new corner of the world. 

"Experience is the teacher of all things"

I love coming home with my pictures, my sweet memories, and more experiences shared with Riley. Building a life together is the most fun I have ever had. And seeing him in all of his jeep glory was pretty adorable  :)

Here are my favorite things that we did or saw in Death Valley, my highlights:

  • Arriving on the first night to a steak dinner and friends at the campsite
  • Seeing "the racetrack" and its mysterious sliding rocks
  • Watching Riley and his friends rescue a lady in the middle of nowhere by changing her tire out in record time. I love witnessing random acts of kindness! 
  • Dark skies FULL of stars
  • Bottomless cups of coffee every morning thanks to our friends 
  • The salt flats, parts of it looked like ice but it was 90 degrees! SO strange and cool to see
  • Waking up before sunrise and getting to the sand dunes to see that first light
  • Sleeping in our little "home" (our half dome tent) 
  • Hiking to telescope peak (there was snow up there!) and having our surprise champagne at the top

I will never forger this trip or the memories made. Our time living in Death Valley was one for the books. 

"Life wasn't meant to be lived in one place"

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Mexico

Riley and I spent a few days in Playa del Carmen for our friend's wedding last week. We actually took the photos for them so I will be working on those soon :)

The Valentin Imperial, where we stayed for the week, was absolutely gorgeous! It is an all inclusive resort with amazing pools, swim up bars, restaurants, beach access, a spa etc. We spent our days at the pool or beach, our toughest question being "where are we going to eat tonight?" We were lucky to be with a group of amazing friends for a lot of laughs and a great time. 

I wish we could have stayed longer <3 

Some of my favorite memories from this trip were walking on the beach with Riley, watching the sun rise from the outdoor bar swings, our group hibachi dinner, finding those pork tacos ;) floating laps in the pool with our special engineered raft, and spending time with friends that came together from all over the U.S. 

I managed to get a few photos..  I left my camera behind while we were in the pool or out to eat, which was most of our trip ;)

 

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Joshua Tree

Someday these will be the good old days.

Packing up the jeep to head out for a weekend of camping. Fresh air, our favorite little tent, The "best food I've ever had" cooked over the fire, desert sunsets, nature, exploring a new place, unplugging, and quality time- just the two of us. 

Sometimes I hear people say they didn't realize what they had until it was gone. I know how lucky I am to be married to him, to be on this adventure with him. I know God looked out for me when I met Riley. I don't need to loose anything to realize that. 

Things will change, finances, kids, possibly health, I know that. I also know that I will not ever take one thing that I have for granted. 

Life is so good. 

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Peace in his presence

Riley ran back to the car for some equipment and I realized I was alone. 

I haven't been alone in the woods since living back home in Michigan. These woods dwarfed those ones though. Thousands of years of growth. Trees that were so tall and wide they seemed more like skyscrapers. I looked up, unable to see the tops of the redwoods I was standing under. The nearby river was a soothing sound. The moss and ferns blanketed the forest in a giant quilt, made up of every shade of green. The fog silently moved through, covering and exposing new scenes constantly. I realized that there is no anxiety here, only peace. When I quiet my surroundings, I realize what is truly on my mind. Him

I can not feel this peace or see this beauty without thoughts of the creator. I unconsciously whisper "thank you" when I am in the woods, no matter what state I am in. This is where I feel his presence, even more than in church, prayer, or meditation. 

The work, the traffic, the tv shows, the smart phones..they all cause small amounts of anxiety for me. Nothing that I actually notice, until I take it all away. Those things are distractions from what is important. There is nothing for me to do but appreciate, and feel grateful when I am in nature. The woods are my xanax, my peace, my place. The deep breaths taken in that space filled me with life. I instantly knew the reason that I am here, my purpose, and I thanked my creator. Even though I am not thinking of him always, he is always thinking of me.

I just needed that reminder, that peaceful moment in the woods. 

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All photos taken in Redwood National Park.

Pinnacles

Riley had some downtime at work last week so he did a quick search of all of the national parks. He told me there were nine in California alone and we had just been to Yosemite at the start of 2018. 

"You want to go to all of them this year?"

This is just one reason why I love my husband. I get so caught up in the routine sometimes that I forget to plan stuff like this. We also have a lot of weddings that we are traveling to this year so we are unable to take a big trip, Riley always finds a way to see new places no matter the budget or time constraint. 

The closest park (that I had never heard of) was Pinnacles. It is a "baby" of a park, just established in 2013. The truth is, I wasn't very excited to go since it was not a place I knew of and when I looked up pictures they were less than impressive. Well, I am glad they were because we were pleasantly surprised. Our easy, 2.5 mile hike was beautiful and had us crawling through caves, marveling at rock formations, and listening to the sweet sound of the wind in the trees. This was so peaceful, one of those hikes that you didn't know you needed. There was one section that wound up and around a valley, sheer rock cliffs towered above us, and there was no one around. The weather was so mild, the sun warmed our backs and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. I couldn't stop thinking how grateful I felt for this day, for my husband, and for our life together. 

I did something new, I brought a special oil called gratitude that I was given for Christmas. I smelled it, and rubbed some on my wrists periodically throughout the hike. I wanted a beautiful, simple memory of that day whenever I uncapped "gratitude" in the future. I hope it reminds me of the weather, and the happiness, and the peace that Pinnacles national park gave us that day. 

We drove home and Riley made some chicken tom kha soup for us (his specialty). We looked through our pictures and talked about the day, I just had one question.

"Which park is next?"

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Fall feels

The change of seasons is when I feel the most. I get emotional thinking about the simplest little pleasures that are attached with change. Crunchy, fallen leaves swirling behind a passing car. Carving pumpkins with my siblings, and the smell of the roasting, salted seeds shortly after. The warm days and cold nights that always seem to offer me a better nights sleep. The sweet comfort of a bowl of soup, or a cup of tea.  A hike through the colorful woods, and witnessing peak colors year after year. 

This Fall, things are a little different. The stores here in CA are selling pumpkins and halloween decorations, but the weather and the dramatic changes are missing. It's strange to see palm trees and people heading to the beach in late October. My Facebook feed full of MI friends and family have me craving the season like I know it. Last weekend we made the most of our time and set out for some Fall feels. I am so glad we did because it turned out to be the perfect day. 

Half moon bay pumpkin patches, a farm to table lunch spot at "the barn," and butternut squash chai soup were the highlights of our Saturday. We brought our camera along and took a few pictures, to remember this time in our favorite way. It might not be Fall like I know it in Michigan, but it was pretty darn close. 

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Big Sur

Riley and I knew we wanted to spend some time in nature for our first anniversary, and the road to Big Sur opened up just in time for our night off together. We packed up the jeep and hit the road. After a bit of traffic all of the city noise left us in what seemed like one big exhale. Freedom. Ocean views. No work. Unplugged. Is there anything better? 

We camped at a place called Ventana but I have to admit, it was more like glamping with the amenities. Our site was so peaceful, the tent sat between two redwoods, just a short distance away from the crackling fire. The weather was perfect, so comfortable for sleeping outside. We enjoyed our quality time, talked about the highs and lows of the past year, and looked up through the trees at the gorgeous starry night. I am so grateful for this life we have together. What will it be like in the years to come? What highs and lows will we talk about on our second anniversary? I guess if we knew, life wouldn't be as exciting, it wouldn't seem like an adventure. 

In the morning we found a restaurant and had breakfast outside. We were surrounded by plants, flowers, and the sweet scents of a garden. A leaf fell from a tree, twirling in the breeze until it landed on my coffee cup, a subtle reminder that seasons are changing. Sometimes it is hard to tell in this California weather. 

We stopped at many places we had been to before, about two and a half years ago. Back when I was a travel RN at Stanford children's and I referred to Riley as my boyfriend. At Pfeiffer beach we looked up at the rock structure that we had captured with our cameras years ago. He said, " it's weird. I never knew if I would see this beach again. You never really know if you are going to see some places again or if that's it." I have that same feeling whenever I am somewhere special and far from home.  What if my travels never take me to that corner of the world ever again? But when they do, all of the memories come flooding back. Dating long distance, knowing I had to leave California to be with him, the excitement of our short trips visiting each other and packing sight seeing into them (as much as was humanly possible). Marriage has allowed us to slow down in a sense, and learn about each other in the simplest of ways. No more trying to pack it all in, and what a relief that has been. I think I'll always prefer this simplicity, this slower pace. 

Looking forward to our next trip down highway 1, I'll just call it memory lane, along the "best coast."

xoxo

I wish you wellness 

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5 ways to better pictures

This title doesn't seem like it belongs on a wellness blog but I'll tell you why it does..

I first picked up a camera about six years ago. I was a med surg nurse living in northern Michigan, and I just felt like I wanted to try something new on my time off. I looked up good cameras to start with, and made my decision to buy a canon rebel. I was not fond of my job so anytime I had downtime I was on blogs reading about photography. I wanted to learn anything I could to take pretty pictures, because it just feels good when you do. It feels creative, and happy and like you captured beauty in a way that you never have before.

Little did I know photography would change how I saw the world. When you are searching for photos, you are pushed to find beauty. Beauty in bad weather, beauty in a puddle reflection, beauty in the way a camera can capture something different than our eyes can. I became grateful for the smallest things, like water drops on a pine branch, storm clouds looming, or morning light beaming in through the window. I stopped and started noticing beauty in the small things. In a sense, I slowed down and smelled the roses. This was more than a new hobby, photography changed my vision. Photography gave me more beauty in my life than I had before my camera. I have met more people, spent more time in nature, and understood that I need to see the world differently, all from the love of taking pictures. 

So many people tell me "I would love to pick up my camera again, I would love to learn but I don't have time." I urge you to make the time. Discover this hobby that is only going to improve with time and shutter count. It will change how you see the world, I can promise you that. Here are my top five ways to better photography:

 1. Actively search for opportunities. Bad weather, the golden hour, secluded places in nature that are harder to get to. These all make for great photo ops! It's amazing that a camera can change your behavior, like going out when you normally wouldn't have, just for a photo.&nbsp;

1. Actively search for opportunities. Bad weather, the golden hour, secluded places in nature that are harder to get to. These all make for great photo ops! It's amazing that a camera can change your behavior, like going out when you normally wouldn't have, just for a photo. 

 2. Get off of the auto setting and understand aperture. On a Canon that is the Av setting. Want that beautiful blur in the background and only your subject in focus? Take that f number and lower it. As low as your lens will let you. This will also let more light in so you will have to adjust things to get the picture you want. This is so good for portraits, low light, and artistic pictures.

2. Get off of the auto setting and understand aperture. On a Canon that is the Av setting. Want that beautiful blur in the background and only your subject in focus? Take that f number and lower it. As low as your lens will let you. This will also let more light in so you will have to adjust things to get the picture you want. This is so good for portraits, low light, and artistic pictures.

 3. Don't take photos at eye level. Yes, I mean: be the weirdo in public who is crouching down, or even laying down to get a cool perspective, like I did for this one. The other day I was outside of my apartment standing on a chair pointing my camera straight down at some products and props on a white board. I got a lot of funny stares and a lot of good pictures :)&nbsp;

3. Don't take photos at eye level. Yes, I mean: be the weirdo in public who is crouching down, or even laying down to get a cool perspective, like I did for this one. The other day I was outside of my apartment standing on a chair pointing my camera straight down at some products and props on a white board. I got a lot of funny stares and a lot of good pictures :) 

 4. Use a tripod. I have two reasons for this. 1)&nbsp;For sharper images. I do take many handheld so if this is the case, hold as still as possible. Sometimes I feel like some kind of sniper because I hold my breath when I press the shutter. You can also hold it down to take multiple pictures so that the actual act of pressing the shutter isn't making the camera shake. The the last ones will be just a bit sharper. 2)&nbsp;For the experience with nature photography. I LOVE to take my tripod for a waterfall shot or star photography because it's like you get to experience the scene twice. You set it up, press the shutter, and just sit there, taking it all in, and letting the camera record it for you to enjoy later.&nbsp;

4. Use a tripod. I have two reasons for this. 1) For sharper images. I do take many handheld so if this is the case, hold as still as possible. Sometimes I feel like some kind of sniper because I hold my breath when I press the shutter. You can also hold it down to take multiple pictures so that the actual act of pressing the shutter isn't making the camera shake. The the last ones will be just a bit sharper. 2) For the experience with nature photography. I LOVE to take my tripod for a waterfall shot or star photography because it's like you get to experience the scene twice. You set it up, press the shutter, and just sit there, taking it all in, and letting the camera record it for you to enjoy later. 

 5. Take a photo a day. I reached out to a photographer for the advice on which camera to buy. She led me to the rebel and encouraged me to do a "365 project." This means a photo a day, for one year. This is harder than it sounds. When I was working three 12 hour shifts in a row, this was a challenge for me. The point of it is to force yourself to grow, and practice, and find beauty in the small things. You can take amazing photos, just keep clicking and you can only get better.

5. Take a photo a day. I reached out to a photographer for the advice on which camera to buy. She led me to the rebel and encouraged me to do a "365 project." This means a photo a day, for one year. This is harder than it sounds. When I was working three 12 hour shifts in a row, this was a challenge for me. The point of it is to force yourself to grow, and practice, and find beauty in the small things. You can take amazing photos, just keep clicking and you can only get better.

Photography is a beautiful way to grow personally, or if you wanted, professionally. I made the decision after photographing a few weddings that it was not for me. I knew that this was just my special hobby to save for some purpose later. Now it all makes sense..  I get to do exactly what I love, taking product and lifestyle pictures for my blog and business. My path with photography has been a beautiful little blessing in my life. 

One photo a day, you can do it. 

I wish you Wellness 

 

A blessing in disguise

Over the weekend Riley and I packed up our camping gear and headed for Crater Lake. We had tried going there when we road tripped from MI to CA last year but the roads were shut down from  a snow storm. It felt really exciting to finally go back and see what we had missed. The temperature here in the bay area was also suppose to be over 100 degrees at that time. No thank you. We were ready for a weekend away. 

The drive was about six hours, we stopped for a delicious lunch in Redding, then carried on. I looked up hikes that we wanted to do, and viewpoints for specific pictures I had planned to take. 

We noticed that the views on the way were hazy,  white clouds seemed to be blanketing the scenery. Mt Shasta looked like something out of a sci fi film.. a snow covered mountain "floating" in the sky on a 110 degree day. We realized at this point that the views up at crater lake may not be what we were hoping for, but we drove on. 

When we arrived, we were able to see some of the lake but our earlier suspicion was correct. Oregon forest fires near the coast were affecting the air quality all over the state and the views were very hazy. We were a little bit bummed but eventually realized how good this actually was. The entire focus came off of what we "had to do" while we were there and fell completely on relaxing. We lived at our campsite, cooking over the fire, napping, laying in the hammock..It turned into a weekend of complete relaxation. One of those unplugged getaways that you didn't know you needed. Sometimes it is good to sit in silence and actually listen to the unprompted thoughts that come to mind.

I realized how much I think about our future, and hope that we can live our dreams. I realized how much I think about other people, and how I want to help them on their journey to wellness. I realized how much I think about life, and how short it is. We are only here for "a couple" of years in the grand scheme of things. What kind of memories do you want to have? What kind of time do you want to sacrifice for work, especially the 9 to 5 type work? I realized how much I reject this lifestyle, I always have. For example, I spent a lot of my money on three large trips that I took between 2013-2016. Here's the truth: objectively, I should not have spent that money. Anyone doing things "normally" would look at my income and tell me I am not saving enough for retirement and that the trip  money should have been invested there. But I chose to spend it. I spent a month in Africa, one in Europe, and 1.5 months in New Zealand in those three years, I spent money that I probably shouldn't have.  I also job hopped and started travel nursing to see more of our country, and have more time off. I have made way less money than I could have these past years, and I have never regretted it. I saw parts of the world and met people that I never would have if I just focused on the perfect retirement fund. Guess what we aren't guaranteed? To live long enough to retire. It may sound ridiculous to you, and I completely understand that, but I would rather live now, than hope to live later. There is so much opportunity outside of the 9 to 5, and I will do whatever it takes to get us there. That is what I laid in our hammock and thought about... how I will sound crazy to others, how I won't care, how I will keep pushing for wellness, and freedom from the life that everyone accepts. I will not work to pay bills in a circle, for the rest of my precious life. I realized that there is a way out, and I am taking it. The trees above me stood in silence, like any good listener would, and I heard my hearts desires. 

In in the midst of the haze, I gained clarity this weekend, and for that I am grateful. 

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Home

Michigan, my home state.

My life, my memories, and most of my experiences played out in "the mitten." Michigan is near and dear to my heart, and it always will be. Moving out to California was actually an easy choice, because of the fact that Riley and I know we will go back someday. There is no date on that return ticket, but we just knew in our hearts that we would try to have some adventures before settling back in the midwest when raising a family. 

Everything from the great lakes to the small towns is what makes me love MI so much. I had all the feels when I returned home this past weekend to celebrate two amazing things happening in our family. My sister is expecting a baby girl, and my brother is marrying a California sweetheart, so we are gaining another sister <3 Both of these blessings are happening in December, so this will be a very special Christmas to remember. 

We visited Mackinac Island, and threw a baby/wedding shower at my parent's home in Wolverine. It was a quick visit but so worth it for my entire family to be back together. There is nothing better than being home <3

I have always tried not to take things for granted. I feel lucky to have my faith, my family, and all of my Michigan memories. Something that I love to say, and it has definitely been the truth over the years:

Someday these will be "the good old days."