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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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. 

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 :) 

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) 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. 

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 

 

Spring Break

This past week has been full of love, laughter, and sweet memories. I owe this to my youngest sister (Mary), spending her Spring break from college here in California. She came at a time when my husband was away for work so I didn't have to be alone. We love simply being together. We talked so much about wellness.. how travel, food and exercise play into this lifestyle. Family members always seem to ground me and this time with Mary brought out some pretty special memories. What would I do without siblings?? 

Yosemite was our first stop, we hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America! The higher we got the more snow there was. It was slushy and melting so we fell.. a lot. I have blisters from that day that are finally healing, and I have some pretty funny memories of Mary actually sliding down the trail.

Yosemite was our first stop, we hiked to the top of Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America! The higher we got the more snow there was. It was slushy and melting so we fell.. a lot. I have blisters from that day that are finally healing, and I have some pretty funny memories of Mary actually sliding down the trail.

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On the way home we had to pull over to admire these beauties, I have way too many pictures but can you blame me? I have always loved saying "beauty is so simple." This is a perfect example. 

A day at the beach. We packed a picnic, found a secluded area, and listened to the waves. There were moments of silence, when my only option is to clear my mind and feel completely grateful. Is there anything more calming than the white noise of waves?

A day at the beach. We packed a picnic, found a secluded area, and listened to the waves. There were moments of silence, when my only option is to clear my mind and feel completely grateful. Is there anything more calming than the white noise of waves?

Pure Bliss, or as Mary would say, "blissed out."

Pure Bliss, or as Mary would say, "blissed out."

Mary is a foodie, always has been. I remember when we were younger she would make me something and then just sit and watch me eat it, waiting for my critique. Her joy comes from serving others food. Yes I know, I'm lucky. This was definitely a splurge meal, since this picture was taken I have cut out dairy and processed sugar from my diet. Like I said in my "about me," I want you on this journey with me. This is for all of the people who say "I want to be healthier" but haven't known where to begin. Begin with me :)

Mary is a foodie, always has been. I remember when we were younger she would make me something and then just sit and watch me eat it, waiting for my critique. Her joy comes from serving others food. Yes I know, I'm lucky. This was definitely a splurge meal, since this picture was taken I have cut out dairy and processed sugar from my diet. Like I said in my "about me," I want you on this journey with me. This is for all of the people who say "I want to be healthier" but haven't known where to begin. Begin with me :)

We spent a day riding a cable car in San Francisco, eating clam chowder, walking around Fisherman's wharf, the makings of a good travel experience. I love having this city so close to bring my visitors up for the day, we used the train to get to and from SF and accidentally came home during rush hour. We were packed and standing with so many people and poor Mary was crushed up against someone's grocery bag that had a whole, unwrapped fish in it. Oops..

We spent a day riding a cable car in San Francisco, eating clam chowder, walking around Fisherman's wharf, the makings of a good travel experience. I love having this city so close to bring my visitors up for the day, we used the train to get to and from SF and accidentally came home during rush hour. We were packed and standing with so many people and poor Mary was crushed up against someone's grocery bag that had a whole, unwrapped fish in it. Oops..

I made this fruit platter for Mary on her last day, and we ate it so fast out in the hot sun, it was delicious! I am a sucker for anything pretty so I spend time on arranging and plating food. This was how I decided I actually liked cooking, when I started putting effort into the appearance of the meal. Before figuring that out I thought of cooking as a chore, and I hated it. Now it is a beautiful challenge to find new recipes, pack the meals with nutrients, and make it look beyond appetizing. I love it! There is so much more that I didn't capture from the past week, because as much as I love photos, I also see the value in living in the moment. Being together with Mary was like being home, coffee time in the mornings is my favorite time with my sisters. We sit, and sip, and talk about all of our ideas, loves, and goals. There is nothing better than quality time together! I'll just wrap it up with a couple more pictures from our last day together, this pool day party for two.

I made this fruit platter for Mary on her last day, and we ate it so fast out in the hot sun, it was delicious! I am a sucker for anything pretty so I spend time on arranging and plating food. This was how I decided I actually liked cooking, when I started putting effort into the appearance of the meal. Before figuring that out I thought of cooking as a chore, and I hated it. Now it is a beautiful challenge to find new recipes, pack the meals with nutrients, and make it look beyond appetizing. I love it! There is so much more that I didn't capture from the past week, because as much as I love photos, I also see the value in living in the moment. Being together with Mary was like being home, coffee time in the mornings is my favorite time with my sisters. We sit, and sip, and talk about all of our ideas, loves, and goals. There is nothing better than quality time together! I'll just wrap it up with a couple more pictures from our last day together, this pool day party for two.

P.S. I am so proud, this was my first attempt at cracking open a coconut and I was able to drain all of the water out first to save for later...success. After a week of good food, beautiful company, and so much to be grateful for, my heart is full. I wish you wellness.    P.S.S. here is a link to a short video that I made from the trip. It was so fun making this and I hope my video skills improve with time. I actually enjoy taking video more than pictures, and I just discovered that!

P.S. I am so proud, this was my first attempt at cracking open a coconut and I was able to drain all of the water out first to save for later...success. After a week of good food, beautiful company, and so much to be grateful for, my heart is full. I wish you wellness.

P.S.S. here is a link to a short video that I made from the trip. It was so fun making this and I hope my video skills improve with time. I actually enjoy taking video more than pictures, and I just discovered that!