Learn to love mornings

I wasn't a morning person. I remember sleeping in until 11am on weekends, having a hard time getting out of bed, feeling unmotivated to do anything but eat breakfast and then plop down on the couch. By the time I felt like I could get out and do something, it was already early afternoon, a decent part of my day was just gone

We all need a day off here and there, a day to just relax, to do nothing.  My old habits were much different than that. They were lazy. This was before I worked night shift for two years, and that made things much worse. To "prep" for my next shift I would stay up until about 3 or 4am and then wake up in the afternoon.  I felt terrible any time that I was up in the morning, I never enjoyed that time. I missed out.

The other day I was thinking about life, how quickly our days pass, and how those days are numbered. I have a choice, to get up and live, or to lay around watching tv and sitting on my couch. The thought of looking back when you are nearing your end, and seeing a life lived after 12pm every day.. honestly it scares me. What a sad waste of time. 

I am so grateful that I have switched things around, I have broken old habits, and I have been steady with it for over a year now. I love my mornings. I love the dreamy light peeking over the hills, and then pouring through my windows. I love my warm coffee, I love diffusing oils that wake me up and make me happy. I love reading my daily devotional book alone. I love the quiet, calm energy before everyone rushes off to work. I love going places because mornings can turn any place (even in the Bay Area!) into a ghost town. I love seeing who else is out, running, riding their bikes, breathing that cool air. I love seeing those that love their mornings as much as I do. 

Photographers often refer to the time around the sunrise as the "golden hour." They are definitely referring to the lighting, but I call it the golden hour for many other reasons. It is the best time of the day! 

If waking up early is something that is hard for you, but you want to be a morning person, I understand. Here are a few tips for you to improve your morning game, to wake up and live.

  • Sleep training. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at at the same time in the morning. This takes discipline, but I promise it works. When I am not able to do this, I wake up so much more tired.
  • A warm drink. Whatever it is, hot lemon water, tea, coffee. Make it special, use your favorite mug, set it all up the night before so all you have to do is heat your water and enjoy. Life's little pleasures are what it is all about.
  • Peppermint oil. This is a go to almost every morning for me. I smell it straight from the bottle, or put some on my neck, or a drop on my thumb pressed to the roof of my mouth. Peppermint is a great wake up oil!
  • Be grateful. If you think about life in a positive way, if you are grateful to be given the gift of another day, you'll be more willing to launch yourself out of bed when you wake up in the am. I say in my head or out loud "thank you" several times. I just woke up, I am alive. What a gift! 
  • Dream. I don't mean while you are sleeping. Do you have dreams for you life? Or did you, and life has buried them?  Don't be afraid to dream. I think of the life that I want for my husband and future children, and I have to work for that. That dream, that image in my head instantly fuels me with the motivation to peel the covers back and get up. 
  • Make it comfy. We don't want to leave our beds because we are soo comfortable. I get that, so when I am reading, or having coffee, I am wrapped up in an oversized robe. And if I head out into that amazing but chilly morning air, I am bundled up in sweats and a hat. The thought of leaving your bed becomes less daunting when you are headed for warm clothes or blankets with your cozy drink of choice.
  • Watch your productivity. Nothing makes me more excited than seeing how productive I am when I enjoy my early mornings. I am able to relax, read, have grateful thoughts, and then start working. Without the rush of flying off to work or feeling stressed, I get so much more done. Try it for a week or two and watch how much more you are able to accomplish, and all before 12pm! 

Here are a few pictures of my favorite golden hours, that time that I have learned to love so much. 

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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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Food for thought

I get so many questions about what we eat, how we eat, and where to even begin for someone who wants to start a healthier lifestyle. 

I want to start by saying this took me years. Not years to transition, but years of saying "I want to eat healthier" and not actually doing it. Changing what you eat regularly is 100% an act of the will, I can't convince you to do that, only you can set your mind to it, and choose to stick with it. 

I know how hard it is, It was hard for me to kick fast food, processed food, and refined sugar out of my life. I have also seen countless patients who would rather take a pill or some extra insulin than change how they eat. I know from enough experience that I can't make you want it, that part is up to you. 

I also want to say we are not 100% perfectly healthy, nor do I want to be. I am not going to live and never eat pizza, or a cookie, but for the most part I will consider what I am putting in my body to be fuel, and think consciously about what I am using to fuel my body. My body that is a total gift from God. 

When I think that way, and never about counting calories, loosing weight, or some fad diet, I am able to stick to it. I am SO happy when I know I am putting good things in, to allow me to live my life in a healthy, strong, and happy way. 

So first of all, here's how you can enjoy those indulgences that you can't imagine giving up: find options that are made out of real ingredients! Meaning not processed, or refined, or completely synthetic garbage for your body to filter. For instance, I had pizza last weekend while I was in Las Vegas. When I travel, I find myself eating things that I normally wouldn't at home. My brother and husband found a pizza place with the coolest menu. All of the ingredients were real, the tomato sauce was just that, Italian tomatoes and some seasoning... my body still didn't love me for eating gluten and dairy (that's another story) but with this non processed, thin crust Italian style pizza, I was able to enjoy the moment and know I am not eating all of the pesticides and chemicals that use to be in my every day life. If I am craving sweets, I have a piece of dark chocolate, fruit, or I'll make a paleo version of lemon bars, or brownies. Yes, this will still spike your blood sugar, but with ingredients like almond flour, coconut sugar, eggs, cacao, there is some type of benefit, actual nutrients, and your body will feel something like, hey I know what to do with this ;) My favorite account on Instagram for ideas and recipes when I need something sweet is @bakeritablog. She is so creative with real food ingredients and I don't think you could ever get sick of those recipes! 

The most shocking thing about making huge dietary changes was realizing the food was better on the other side. If you can't eat a pile of cookies, or fill your belly with bread before the entree even shows up (my old ways) you're going to be more creative with what you do eat. We make sure our meals are delicious, flavorful, and packed with nutrition. 

Cutting out processed food is an amazing place to start. I will list some things that we totally threw out of our home, and never bought again. It feels weird at first, like how will I get by without these ingredients but I promise you'll use your creativity, and the real food ingredients here on earth for us, and you will thrive! I sleep better, am in better moods, and I am never bloated ..even during that time of the month. Cramps are also a breeze too, requiring no Motrin. I don't get heartburn anymore, something I use to take tums or Zantac for. Sometimes we are suffering and not getting to the root cause, rather covering it up with a pill. If you have health complaints, and have not looked into changing your diet (completely different from going on a diet), I really encourage you to do some research. 

We are not trapped, although it may seem like a dark alley of fast food options everywhere you turn in the beginning.. we have SO many options these days. Thrive market (online) is a great place to get real food, organic ingredients and products shipped right to your doorstep. Shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store will give you all of the produce and none of the processed junk. Farmers markets are a wonderful place to shop for fresh food, more recently harvested than your grocery store produce which means more nutrients! And obviously, growing your own food would be the best possible scenario. I DREAM of owning a home and having a garden some day. I want to get back to the good stuff, the way it use to be. If you need fast food, because we are all busy and on the go, chipotle is a decent option offering non GMO ingredients. You just have to order wisely at any place that you go to ;) Panera bread is another decent-ish stop as long as you're not getting cheddar broccoli soup in a bread bowl and a diet coke (seriously, my old order, every time I went there. No wonder I had digestive issues). 

Ok here is the list I promised, before I write a book because I could talk about this all day. Bottom line, ask yourself is this real? Will it benefit my body? And go from there. 

Thrown out, and never bought again. This list is an awesome place to start! We are going on over a year of this lifestyle and I absolutely love it! First is what we have thrown out, and next is what we use instead. 

  • Refined sugar//Coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup 
  • Flour//coconut flour & almond flour (there are others but these are our favorites)
  • Pop (midwest talk for "soda")// La croix, kombucha
  • Juice// freshly juiced veggies & fruit with no additives ever
  • Processed food especially snacks, cereal, and energy bar type things// coconut oil potato chips, chips and salsa or guac for a "junk food" fix, gf granola, Lara bars, we love to snack on veggies and hummus or carrot dip! 
  • Those jugs of country fresh milk that I (sadly) drank my entire life// coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, there are so many options, with a lot of calcium and benefits for your body 
  • canola oil// olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil are our go to oils. We also use ghee as well.
  • Processed meats// rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breasts as "lunchmeat," find words like grass fed, free range, organic etc. If they were fed hormones/antibiotics/GMO grains, then you will be too when you eat meat. 

I hope this list is helpful for you. I don't feel like there has been much sacrifice involved. It is the new normal and I love eating like this. It really, truly makes me happy and allows me to live well and be the best version of myself. My list is a great place for you to start, if you are feeling like you want to change your health habits.  Another thing I would encourage you to do is become a good label reader. I won't buy something if it has any of these ingredients hiding in it.  I was shopping for hummus the other day and there were loads of options, plenty of organic ones. I read the labels and one had only veggies, sea salt, and olive oil in it. The other, sugar and canola oil were added. There are often unnecessary hidden ingredients that we have to be aware of. I feel empowered when I know exactly what is going into my body and will be used as fuel for a great life! 

I do also believe that everyone is different. This isn't set in stone, not everyone can feel great eating the same, you have to tailor your list to you and how you feel! Always listen to your body! 

And just know that you never, ever have to suffer. We love what we cook, and thoroughly enjoy our meals. Cooking and creating beautiful, nutrient packed food is something that I know you can enjoy too. 

I wish you wellness! 

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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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Network marketing FAQs

I get so many messages asking what I am doing, why I left nursing, how I left etc. I went to my chiropractor appointment this morning and got a whole slew of these questions, which is why I am sitting down to answer them, this time for everyone. 

I worked as a nurse for 7 years. I became a RN so that I could help people and have a steady income. But what I didn't like was my schedule was still in someone else's control. My raises were hardly keeping up with the increase in the cost of living, I realized that there was an income ceiling. The 12 hour shifts get exhausting and I was feeling burnt out. It was even taking a toll on my health at times. I started to wonder what my life would be like with kids in the picture. Would I really see them as much as I would like to? Or would I stay home with them and cut our family's income in half? This isn't how I imagined raising a family would be like. 

Last year I was introduced to the Network marketing business model. It is so different than what we are use to because instead of trading our time for money, we work once, and get payed for that many times. It sounds great but I had some hang ups. I didn't want to be salesy. I am an introvert, so I would rather not be public speaking. I also thought I didn't have the time when working, and wanting to spend quality time with my husband. But I realized If I didn't make the time now, I may never have the time that I truly want in the bigger picture. 

Bottom line, getting involved in network marketing is one of the best decisions I have ever made! 

Here are some FAQs about this whole thing that might help you. It is different than what you are use to. My dream is that someone struggling, drowning in debt, wanting to spend more time with their family sees this and finds hope. Network marketing can change the course of your life. 

What exactly do you do? Find people who you think would benefit from the products you are passionate about and share with them. Teach them, guide them, plug them into what your company/team has already created (like resources and materials for learning). 

How many hours a week do you work and how much do you make?  This one will vary for everyone but some weeks I put in 40 hours, some more like 20. I am in the beginning stages of building. I am going to be putting a lot of hours in for very little money for a bit. This consists of personal growth, reading books, contacting people, teaching classes etc. You get to different ranks (read: promotions) based off of your team size and structure. I received three promotions in my first three months because I take it seriously.  I am currently an executive closing in on silver. See the income disclosure here.  I am very proud of this because I have worked hard for it. I understand the bigger picture, that the big money is not happening now, it will come later for the investment of my time. Someday that relationship of time for money is going to flip, and I will put in very few hours for a large paycheck. It is called the power of a team and it is worth fighting for.  I can't stress this enough. Patience and consistency will get you there, not one class, not one "oils have changed my life" post. Patience and consistency.  

Is it easy? I have two answers for this. Yes, the tasks are so easy. Reading, connecting with others, sending emails, teaching classes from a script, hanging out with friends. Comparing that to a 12 hour nursing shift, I mean, I don't think I even need to go there. But it is also hard for two reasons and I truly believe these two reasons are why people quit. 1) Self motivation. You don't have a boss (dreamy right??), you are accountable for your business hours, you have to wake up and get to work. Self motivation is hard at times.  2) The "no's" for some reason this really gets to people. When they share with their friends and don't get the result they want. My only advice for this is harsh. You just have to get over that. Why would it matter if the whole world doesn't join you?? Every brand, saint, celebrity, and organization has critics. Does that take away from them? No. Does someone else's opinion of what I do take a toll on my happiness? Absolutely not. Your job as a network marketer is to continue, with patience and consistency. When you are on an eternal vacation in a few years, the "no's" might change their mind ;) 

Isn't it a pyramid scheme? Ahh my favorite.. No. Nothing I am doing is illegal. You know what does look like a pyramid? A lot of the companies that you work for. With the CEO at the very top, and with no chance for others to make their way to that position. Network marketing is the exact opposite. Everyone willing to work for it can get that top position. And the income? There is no ceiling, it can keep growing... forever.  

Network marketing doesn't work right? I am sure you know a handful of people that have tried to sell you something, who have said they were going to make a lot of $$ doing this, who said they would never quit. And then they quit. They realized it is not an immediate return on their investment and they stopped doing what they said they were going to do. 

So network marketing doesn't work right?

Well, people don't work at it and that is what makes it fail, and gives us all the bad opinion of it. The network marketing business model is actually, in a word: amazing. You put in the work, invest your time for a few years, grow a team, and build residual income. (examples of residual income include a 401k, income property, royalties, social security).  If you treat it like a business from the beginning, you'll be retiring yourself and your significant other in a few years. Don't believe me? I can connect you with friends who have done this, who's footsteps and systems I am following. It is a 4 year career vs. a 40 year career. I know exactly what I want out of this life and which length of time I would rather work. 

I know that it is "weird." But I have never wanted to be normal :P

You are just trying to make a percentage of these orders right? Hmmm.  I was making way more as a nurse in California. So if I cared the most about my paycheck..I'd be doing that. This is so much greater than a percentage of your order. I am trying to show you something that changed my life, my health, my hopes and dreams.. to see if it could do the same for you.  Yes of course I make some money when you place an order with me. But check this out: most companies pay big bucks for shelf space, marketing and advertising. So in turn, you are paying for that. Network marketing companies take that money and make a compensation plan for people to work their way to where they want to go. They rely on word of mouth for advertising and give people like us a chance at a better life.

On the flip side: you know when you eat at an awesome restaurant and you tell people about it? That business does not give you a referral fee... so why did you do it? because you thought that friends and family would really enjoy the service and food you received. Network marketing is similar to that..telling others about the products you love, BUT you also get a referral fee. So when you buy from your network marketing friend you are supporting his/her small business. The alternative is paying for some CEO's third lake house. Or a multi million dollar crappy commercial during the super bowl. 

Do I have to get up and speak in front of people? Nope, you can do whatever you are comfortable with. Sharing with others should definitely be done in your style, with you personal touch. Snail mail, parties or gatherings, calls, or teaching classes. You can do it any which way you want. That is the beauty of this "job."

I should wait until I am an expert on the product right? This is a huge mistake. The beauty of network marketing is that you are plugging people into what is already there as far as educational materials. We can learn together. Network marketers have what's called an "upline" meaning if I don't know something, I can connect you with someone that does. We have so many resources for learning it is incredible. No one will ever know it all, so you will just end up waiting forever to begin. 

I don't know enough people so I won't be successful #1 excuse right here! I have definitely used this one in the past. But the average person actually knows about 2,000 people. There are over 7 billion people in the world. I sit in California traffic all the time. There are enough people and if you don't feel like you know enough of them, get out there and introduce yourself. You only have to know a few, who know a few, who know a few....the power of a team. It is one of the coolest things I have ever done. I have enrolled 29 people, and my team is going to cross over 100 this month. See how this works? Network marketing is amazing. 

I hope you know that my dream is to work hard and play hard. To bring others with me with this opportunity. To bless my friends and family, and the people that I come into contact with. To raise good people with my husband helping me at home. To help others and make a difference, to do missionary work without asking for time off. To help people and donate to organizations that really truly make a difference. To connect with people and live a good life. That is my intention when I am sharing about oils. I just can't put all of that into my captions ;)

If this, in any way, moved you- if you want time with your kids, that debt off of your plate, the hope of health, purpose, and change, then I really encourage you to stop watching from the sidelines, you are missing out! 

Your life can be anything you want it to be. But you can't want something without working for it.

If you are willing to work, to invest your time, and change the course of your life then we can do it together. I don't want you to miss out, or wait until I've "made it." I want you to come with me! 

If you need info on Young Living or why I chose this network marketing company above them all, go to my "oils" page and read all about that. When you are ready to do this, to jump in and make a difference - click here. This is a sign up page for you to get a "starter kit" ( I recommend the premium starter kit) and become a wholesale member. I will be reaching out to you shortly after and teaching you at any pace you would like. 

Are you ready to do this? 

Photo via Casey Wiegand. I try to always use my own in my blog and instagram but that is another excuse someone gave me: well you will get people because of your "pretty pictures". This actually made me laugh!  No one has joined my team for that reason ..and our upline, they are pretty amazing. They give us these photos (and scripts) to use freely. Cool huh?

Photo via Casey Wiegand. I try to always use my own in my blog and instagram but that is another excuse someone gave me: well you will get people because of your "pretty pictures". This actually made me laugh!  No one has joined my team for that reason ..and our upline, they are pretty amazing. They give us these photos (and scripts) to use freely. Cool huh?

Natural living combined with the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so grateful. 

Natural living combined with the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so grateful. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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 

 

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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How to Sleep Better

Tossing and turning. Watching the clock. Counting down the hours of rest that you could be getting if you fell asleep RIGHT NOW. Flipping around to different positions for hours. Feeling jealous of the person sleeping right next to you. Feeling tired allll the time, even after an entire night's rest. Dragging all day, feeling exhausted at work. Does any of this sound familiar?

If you are having trouble sleeping then I feel for you! I remember how terrible it was. Unfortunately it was my "normal" for a long time, until I made some changes. The worst was my husband asking how I could possibly feel tired when I got 10 hours of sleep?!  My answer was always an exasperated "but I didn't sleep!!"

Luckily things have changed. Once I am in bed, I am out in about ten minutes, which is a small miracle! I wake up maybe once or twice during the night, and fall right back to sleep. I wake up early, every day, and feel rested. I work 12 hour shifts as a RN and I have so much energy, no matter how busy the day is! This is my new normal. Do you need help in this area? Here are my seven ways to a better night's rest. 

1. Stop taking naps and make an effort to go to bed around the same time every night. I try for about 10 or 11 pm, then set my alarm for 7-8 hours after that. This is perfect for me, to feel rested and my energy levels throughout the day are great! 

2. Have a routine. This shouldn't just be thought of for kids, we respond to evening routines as well. Do whatever relaxes you, a hot bath, a cup of tea, reading a book.. I love to take a shower then sit with a cup of tea on the couch. I keep it quiet at that time and dim the lights, I set up a glass of water by my bedside out of habit and start diffusing essential oils. My go to oils for sleep are cedarwood, lavender, sleepyize (a kids blend for sleep that I love!) and peace & calming!! P&C is seriously so good! You can apply them to your skin, the bottoms of your feet, your spine, etc. But I love to diffuse them. My entire room is full of these beautiful scents and those are a reminder to wind down, especially when you use them for that purpose specifically. 

3. Keep TV out of the bedroom. This is huge for me. When I lived alone I would watch TV until all hours of the night and it caused serious insomnia. My husband and I made the choice to only have a TV in the living room, and I will forever keep it that way. 

4. Find a mattress that works for you and gives you the support you need. We bought one of those foam ones that come in a box all rolled up and puff up when you lay it out, it is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on! I didn't realize how much the mattress alone was helping me until we went on a vacation and both of us woke up a few times more than normal. 

5. Try eating healthier. This might sound crazy but foods that cause inflammation can hurt us in a lot of different ways. Sugar spikes and crashes don't help either. Try clean eating, cut back on sugar and processed foods, you'll feel better in a lot of different ways. You will most likely sleep better. Proper nutrition is essential!

6. White noise. There are so many white noise machines out there, some of them are wonderful. Think waves on a beach, rain, or simple spa tunes, find one that you prefer.. or use a good old fan, turned on the high setting. 

7. No caffeine in the evenings. The other day I made this mistake and had a cup of coffee at about 4:30pm. I could NOT fall asleep, it reminded me of my old ways, of always feeling frustrated and tired. It reminded me to write this post actually. From now on I'll just have my cup in the morning :)

I hope this is helpful for you! You deserve to sleep through the night and wake up rested. Our lives are demanding and we need sleep to function. We need to take care of ourselves to stay healthy. Try a bedtime routine and I promise you will feel like a different person! 

I wish you wellness. 

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."

Today is your start date

"One year from now, you'll wish you had started today."

I have no idea where I saw this quote, but these simple words are so powerful to me. To begin anything new is the hardest part. Try eating healthy. I had auto excuses that I blurted out over the years. No time, no money, isn't there a holiday coming up soon? Then that holiday just rolls into another one, so there's really no point right now. I truly wanted to eat healthier, and for years I have wanted to eliminate harmful chemicals from my daily use products. Just as soon as one of those desires resurfaced, and the time seemed right, one little excuse would sink the whole ship. Unhealthy habits are impossible to break, or at least that's what I thought. 

With dedicated time and effort, and a real start date, I am now eating "clean" foods most of the time. By most of the time I mean: Riley and I believe that we should have a great foundation here at home but we don't want to be those guests from hell who won't eat anything you cook, we still go out for dinner like we use to, we just make better choices, and we love it.   I cook meals without gluten, dairy, or sugar. From these changes I am free of symptoms that I thought were normal, for my entire life! Stomach aches, "headache days," feeling tired no matter how much sleep I got. My old lifestyle was like working night shift. You don't know how bad you feel until you make a change. The headaches and nausea decrease, the fog is lifted, and your quality of life increases. Everything seems more balanced. I have never felt so satisfied with life either. I am happier, healthier, more energetic, more motivated. I am the same person, but a better version of myself. 

A few of my favorite things, and easiest ways to eat healthy, are pretty obvious: smoothies and salads. I find that I don't waste food when I just toss it all into one of these two things. I pack them with nutrients so that I know what I am eating is working for me, not against me. 

My go to ingredients for a smoothie. This week is exciting because I have new ningxia red supplements from young living.&nbsp;They are packed with antioxidants and taste so good!&nbsp;

My go to ingredients for a smoothie. This week is exciting because I have new ningxia red supplements from young living. They are packed with antioxidants and taste so good! 

Dinner for two. We also make our own dressing for salads. Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, salt and pepper is my favorite. Sometimes I'll add honey to sweeten it up. I ate about six of these eggplant "pizzas" just FYI. &nbsp;&nbsp;

Dinner for two. We also make our own dressing for salads. Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, salt and pepper is my favorite. Sometimes I'll add honey to sweeten it up. I ate about six of these eggplant "pizzas" just FYI.   

After feeling the positive effects from our new cooking habits, I was inspired to go further. What else could I do to improve? The answer to my question lies in every product that we put on our bodies, daily. Hundreds of chemicals enter our bodies from our soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, detergents, perfume, the list seems endless. We can't control the environmental toxins that we are exposed to, but we can control these daily use products. This seems beyond overwhelming once you think about how many things you will have to change out. I am overwhelmed at times by it.. but it is important to me. This is a priority, so I will do it as soon as I can afford it. I do essential rewards monthly shipments with young living and this month I purchased the cleaner and hand soap. I was able to put some of my old cleaning products into a box that is headed out the door. There's two things off of my list and I could't be happier about it. In my next order I will add a few more.. and you can see where this is going.  I will keep chipping away until it is done. 

One year from now I can look back and be grateful that today was my start date. 

I wish you wellness.

A few small changes go a long way. I just cleaned my whole apartment with a plant derived, essential oil infused all purpose cleaner. That's a mouthful! Bottom line: &nbsp;it is safe. I can't put a price tag on the peace of mind that this gives me.&nbsp;   

A few small changes go a long way. I just cleaned my whole apartment with a plant derived, essential oil infused all purpose cleaner. That's a mouthful! Bottom line:  it is safe. I can't put a price tag on the peace of mind that this gives me. 

 

Farm to our table

This weekend was (simply) perfect. Riley and I were able to spend so much of our time together, and truly relax. Gosh that's a beautiful thing. My favorite part of the weekend was going to our local Farmer's market. I want to shop there every Saturday because here in California we are blessed with a year round market. Coming from Michigan this is a huge, and exciting perk! 

I love wandering through, trying samples, talking to the farmers and learning. We spoke to a woman in a straw hat and overalls who was a wealth of knowledge about growing herbs. I wish I could just sit in her show and tell class all day. She told us about the process of making stevia extract at home for a natural sweetener. It sounds a little bit difficult but I would love to try it some day!! 

We brought home some good finds, fruits and vegetables, a stevia plant, a free bar of essential oil infused soap (the guy said it was a sample but it's huge, and smells SO good), sausage and the best of all, a pork shoulder. I had a recipe I wanted to try from a "clean eating" magazine that I picked up at the grocery store and this was exactly what I needed for that. 

Here are some pictures from the Farmer's Market and a few meals that we made from our findings. 

Downtown Pleasanton, isn't it dreamy??

Downtown Pleasanton, isn't it dreamy??

We used leftover sausage and vegetables from the Farmers Market in our eggs and the fruit to add to our green juice.&nbsp;We now use cast iron pans every day. We received one as a wedding present and fell in love, then added this smaller one which I use daily. They are the best!

We used leftover sausage and vegetables from the Farmers Market in our eggs and the fruit to add to our green juice. We now use cast iron pans every day. We received one as a wedding present and fell in love, then added this smaller one which I use daily. They are the best!

The pork shoulder wins the award for best food from the farmer's market! This was a sweet taco, made with 100% organic ingredients and devoured by us in about 1/100th of the time it took to cook it ;)&nbsp;Riley makes  the best  salsa, he started on it early Saturday so that we could snack on it all day and use it on the tacos. Just another reason to love him &lt;3&nbsp;

The pork shoulder wins the award for best food from the farmer's market! This was a sweet taco, made with 100% organic ingredients and devoured by us in about 1/100th of the time it took to cook it ;) Riley makes the best salsa, he started on it early Saturday so that we could snack on it all day and use it on the tacos. Just another reason to love him <3 

A few things that are completely random but that I don't want to forget about this sweet little weekend:

-How we went hot tubbing on a chilly day and just talked about our goals. Personal, work related, where we see ourselves in 5, 10, 20 years etc. I want to do this more often so that we can keep each other motivated! 

-How, during my yoga class, an Asian man dressed head to toe in denim popped his head in the door and was watching us! Then he yelled out "that's badass" while the teacher was demonstrating a pose and took his shoes off, walked towards someone's mat and was going to randomly join our practice. It completely broke my concentration and even after the teacher (nicely) kicked him out I could not stop laughing. 

-How Riley saw that I was falling asleep during a movie and he got up and did all of the last minute things I do as my routine before bed (dishwasher, get us two glasses of water, set the coffee maker, etc). He is seriously the sweetest! 

I am so grateful for the weekend, for all of the quality time, and for the brainstorming we did. Without going anywhere, or doing anything "exciting" we made a lot of progress and personal growth towards our goals. Just buying from our local farmers is progress towards a goal. It's that easy! 

I wish you wellness. 

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!&nbsp;

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 &amp; 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.