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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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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Canada

A few days ago my husband and I got back from a Chapdelaine family reunion in Canada :) It was so good to spend time with his family. We did plenty of hiking, relaxed in the hot springs, went white water rafting, and of course visited with family. Some favorite places from on our trip: Invermere, Canmore, Banff National Park, Kootenay National park, and Lake Louise. 

Normally when I travel I want to see new locations, but there is a special place in my heart for the Canadian rockies. I would go back every year, or even multiple times a year! Riley and I were there in February when it looked like a winter wonderland. We left and said we had to come back in the Summer or Fall, and a few weeks later, the Chapdelaines were putting together this reunion :) It couldn't have worked out more perfectly. I am so grateful for family, for the opportunity to travel, and to witness such beauty. 

If you haven't been, here are some pictures to inspire you to plan a trip! 

Breathe in the fresh air, feel the icy glacier water, see the wildlife, get tossed around on the rapids of the kicking horse river with your in-laws;)

You're alive, but are you living

My happy place

I have so many favorite places. Locations that I have been to that speak to me in some way, because they are peaceful, or beautiful, or unique. Have you ever heard someone reference "their happy place?"  I wonder how they could have just one. Even though I have so many I am always looking for more. Instagram is inspirational in that way because I can see the places that other people have shared, and immediately I think that might be a new favorite, I have to find out. 

Riley and I decided to try a hike in Santa Cruz, and a spot on the beach called shark fin cove. A quick scroll through instagram and a search for the locations was all we needed. We packed food for the day and set off in the jeep. The excitement was building as we drove closer to the coast, just to be outside, to hike, to see a new place. I knew exactly what we were going to do that day.

Sometimes things just don't go as planned..

When we arrived the weather changed from stereotypical California beauty to cold and windy. Rip your sunglasses off windy. I CAN'T HEAR YOU windy. We usually just take whatever weather we are dealt and hike/camp anyways but this wasn't far from home and we just decided to bail. It seems like a bummer but we were able to explore Santa Cruz a little bit more via the jeep, we had time to talk while driving, quality time that wasn't wasted. 

We headed down to shark fin cove before completely bailing on the day. This area was a little more protected from the wind, so it seemed tolerable. After looking around and watching the fishermen, we were hiking up the hill back to the parking area. One section was steep so I had my hands on the ground, looking down to not loose my footing. I walked (or crawled) right into a pipeline and hit my head! It hurt so bad and I immediately started running worst case scenarios by Riley. "Take me to the ER if any one of these symptoms occur.." He knows me and my over reacting well because he felt my head, looked at my eyes, and prescribed the best possible treatment plan: Fish tacos. 

We found a place called Johnny's Harborside and loved it! Riley placed these fish tacos in his top 2! I left them in my top 5 :P It was so nice to sit and relax after a few fails, we will just have to try again this weekend :) 

The unplanned events are the beauties, because that is when you see a person's true colors. When things go wrong, he reacts so calmly and never makes a big deal. I love that about him. After going so many places together I can finally decide on what my "happy place is."

Wherever he is.  

xoxo

xoxo

 

 

 

Change is a good thing.

A wedding, a move across the country, a new last name, and two new jobs. This all happened to us within a month. That month was October, 2016. Throw in the fact that I wanted to change how we eat, grocery shop and cook, to be healthier and it seems pretty overwhelming. For this reason, the dietary changes were on the back burner until about four weeks ago. I grew up eating all of the processed foods, believing "all things in moderation" was the rule of life, while I actually ate pizza and sweets more times than not. I have been inspired so many times by other people's eating habits, but that inspiration stops dead in its tracks, and I find myself eating junk again or saying those dishonest words, "I'll start eating clean tomorrow." Right.

My husband and I finally made significant lifestyle changes together and I couldn't be happier. Once we were both on board it became a team effort and a relatively simple transition. I have noticed unbelievable changes in my mood, energy levels, and even my satisfaction with life. I will explain what steps we took because I want as many of you as possible to join me. There are people who are so far beyond what we are doing, who are #healthgoals but I want to reach out to those who say "I want to be healthy" but have never taken that first step. There are also people who think what I use to.. that eating clean or organic is some kind of fad or diet craze that will fade out. Bottom line, the more you educate yourself, the more clear this whole food concept becomes. The processed foods, and the amount of sugar and GMOs we consume are hurting us, badly. I will get into this more over time but honestly, if I can choose to consume chemicals and toxins or not, I know which choice I will make. Once you want this for yourself the cost of real food doesn't seem like such an obstacle (that was always my greatest concern). I just had to move things around in the budget to make it work. About four weeks ago, I started transitioning all of our food from the easiest and cheapest ingredients, to organic. My husband and I also cut out dairy, and gluten. The only sweeteners we have used are raw, local honey, pure maple syrup, and coconut sugar. For dessert I have a few pieces of unsweetened dark chocolate or a serving of fruit. I love to take recipes from Facebook videos (I think it's so strange how much FB has changed over the years but I am obsessed with the cooking videos!!), clean eating magazines, and sometimes I just google the ingredients that I have and a recipe pops up like magic. I find myself on paleo blogs, or vegan ones, because I'm back to "all things in moderation" as long as it's clean eating. We make a point to increase our vegetable portions and use those mentioned sweeteners sparingly, as well as decrease fruit portions. There is this one fact that I keep coming across in my research. Cancer cells feed on sugar. Ugh, that sentence alone is enough to make me stay away. I will be sharing my favorite recipes so far but for now, one of my best tips is to stop eating sugar for breakfast! I'm not sure why we start our days like that, it's almost asking for a crash later. I now eat vegetables in a smoothie, with about half of a banana, packed with nutrients. Sometimes I really do just run around the kitchen and throw everything I can think of in those smoothies. God bless my husband for drinking them :) The easiest way for me to eat better is just to make it a challenge: how many nutrients can I pack into this one meal?

 

Last weekend I traveled to North Dakota for my sister and brother-in-law's graduation. I made a point to eat clean, I even found a decent cafe in the airport with real food :) I packed almonds and fruit/nut bars for snacks on the plane and my brother had some groceries waiting for me at the hotel to help me stick to my clean eating (thanks Jon!). This trip is when I recognized real, positive changes. After two flights and a whole day of travel I felt great, no, amazing. I felt so excited, had energy to burn and I was barely tired upon my arrival. This is not my traveling norm! My Mom even said I looked "different in a good way" when she met me in the lobby. I can't explain in words how encouraging this was. Even so, I went back to some old ways. It's actually easy to eat clean at home but going out is still a challenge. At dinner I ordered salmon and vegetables, but then started snacking on the tables community waffle fries (covered in cheese), later we had cocktails with plenty of sugar in them at the coolest Speakeasy bar in Bismarck! Oh yeah and I had my old favorite: pizza.  Just a side note, I don't believe you should never consume these things again, eating clean can be your base for wellness, one or two unhealthy things aren't going to take all of that goodness away. I just want to make a point as to how I felt after the weekend of getting off track. Honestly, I was sick, all I wanted to do was sleep, my return trip home was exhausting. After the pizza (sorry papa johns) I was actually dizzy. It sounds crazy but I consider these symptoms a blessing. If I didn't feel terrible from junk food it would be a lot harder to eat well. I am (normally) drained of energy in airports, and this was no exception. The next day I still felt exhausted and drained. I knew had to get back to the good stuff. 

It has been a few days now and I can feel the beautiful difference. My smoothies and salads are healing me from the inside out. Just from eating clean I am sleeping better, waking up earlier with energy, and I feel so happy and grateful. This is a peace that I hope everyone can have, it just takes a little bit of effort on your part. I wish you wellness. 

I could write all day about how grateful I am for my husband, but I'll spare you :P I just want to say I could not do this or make these changes without his support! 

I could write all day about how grateful I am for my husband, but I'll spare you :P I just want to say I could not do this or make these changes without his support! 

October, 2016. The start to many amazing changes. We pretty much look the same now but I can promise you we feel SO "different in a good way."  Photo cred: Jamie & Sarah Photo. Grand Rapids, MI Photographers.

October, 2016. The start to many amazing changes. We pretty much look the same now but I can promise you we feel SO "different in a good way."

Photo cred: Jamie & Sarah Photo. Grand Rapids, MI Photographers.