Sunday, February 23, 2014

running for my life

Originally I wrote the following paragraph reflecting on my experience as a new runner.  I'm posting it to my blahg because after reading it again today I find a powerful and beautiful symbolism and new meaning in these words.  Today, between the lines, I find more hope.  I gather fuel.

(Insert from my journal 1/27/14) everyone has a different breaking point. your mind will tell you to give out long before your body will quit. when you push yourself past the limit of wanting to stop that is when the freedom comes. enter the free zone. here you are a machine, you flow freely without obstruction or boundaries. "be water my friend." here you are driven, unstoppable. here you are content, sustained. you are awesome. you push past the can't and the pain. you just do it! keep calm and run on! never give up!

As a newbie runner there is much to know. Proper gear, diet, hydration, form, technique, breathing, stride, cadence, posture, consistency are a few things one can work at to achieve a more efficient run. To be a better runner. Imagine training oneself to achieve a more efficient life. To be a better “liver.” Yes liver; as in one who lives life, not an internal organ. Admittedly I just made up (or recycled) a word to use here.  Just go with me ;) this is my blahg.  

you've got it now run with it...  I am now rather fond of this concept of conditioning myself to become the best distance runner I can be in my marathon of life.  It inspires me to push forward.  

Recently I found myself slipping into sadness.  I was warned by a few friends who have been through something similar to my divorce that this seemingly backwards step would likely happen at some point. That I would have bad days.  "Mama said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this my mama said."  Not sure there was a specific cause for my blues... Perhaps being single on Valentine's day bothered me more than I realized it would... A stretch of winter weather hindered me from running outside for far too long... Who knows really?

Feeling powerless, I watched as my spirits dipped a little. Mustered my strength and held my chin up. It became tougher to stay motivated and I felt less inspired.  Just as in running “when you push yourself past the limit of wanting to stop that is when the freedom comes.” I just did it.  I pushed.  I just ran past the bad days. One foot in front of the other. Shoulders back, smiling big. A few days or maybe a week of forced motions. It hurts. Weakness. Pain. Fear. Struggle.  My mind tells me I can't. 

My weak inner voice says: “This hurts. I don't want to do this. I can't.” 

eyes close... deep breathe... chest bows... 
My stronger inner voice says: “This is worth it. I do want to get through this. I can.”

It occurs to me I am not powerless. "I am capable. I am powerful." The thing is... the day is going to go by and tomorrow is going to come. Assuming I live through the night this much is out of my control so I might as well make the most of things! I have always been a bloom where you are planted kinda girl.  Be water my friend. Gotta just keep on flowing."

Remembering what to do now I turned attention inward.  Adjusted focus.  Nurtured me.  Once again making sure to do lots of those little things to make life special and pretty.  Candle lit bubble baths at night to feel soothed. Wore only adorable outfits, hair and makeup.  An occasional, relaxing glass of wine.  I bought a little dark chocolate with sea salt and savored every. single. piece.  Treated myself to sushi a couple of times.  I also purchased local raw honey, zen and chai tea and started enjoying them.  Spent more time with positive uplifting friends.  Exercised.  Wrote.  Prayed.   And in time, I felt my spirits lifting!  With persistence and dedication to taking excellent care of myself when I am feeling low, I do eventually find I have pushed myself past that point of struggle.  

When I feel the tug pulling me down I just lift up harder.  It is just like that moment when running and my mind tells me to stop, give up, and walk but instead I force my body to ignore my mind, pushing past to enter the free zone.  Looking farther down the trail, engaging my core, leaning forward, deepening my stride, minding my breathe and getting that rhythm just right!  I am quite new to running therefore likely not yet very good at any of this.  And I'm pretty new to taking charge of my own happiness as well so I find it equally challenging.  But I am getting better at both with practice.  And I'm enjoying the journey of practicing this concept of pushing past in order to reach a place free from struggle both in running and in living.  

In life I know I will have many ups and downs. We all know it's not fair.  There is no doubt we will come across difficulties, obstacles, barriers, competition, challenges and much more.  But there is a way to train for this.  To be better prepared.  And there is an awesome freedom that can be achieved in that.

The free zone is not easily come by. You are not easily machine. You are not effortlessly water. You are awesome, certainly, but as humans we have to work to be awesome. It is a personal journey. No one can show you, take you, nor can they tell you how to find yours. You must struggle and strive to locate your free zone both in running and in life. If you are willing to try and find yours you will know it when you're there. No doubt about it.  And once you experience it you'll never want to leave.  

It is a constant chase though. Relentless. And I see no finish line in sight because once the free zone is finally reached it must then be diligently maintained and even challenged in order to endure the test of time. But it is worth the work. When you find yourself in it and you swell up with the feelings of overcoming adversity, pushing past, triumphing. It overpowers you and washes away everything and anything. Enter the free zone. There is nothing quite like it.  You're going to want some!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

lovely things wanted not needed

February, Fourteenth, Two Thousand Fourteen marks the first Valentine's Day I will spend single in over a decade and a half.  While harsh and daunting as that may sound to some I am really okay with it!  I'm enjoying being by myself, taking care of me, for a change!  So in honor of being mine valentine, I've collected myself a virtual treasury of fourteen lovely gift ideas that I'm totally loving right now!  Let's call it "internet window shopping." 

something in Tiffany blue...

 to keep underneath my pillow...
(not manufactured by Tiffany & Co)
(although they really should get on that)

Or better yet...
 I would gladly keep him on my pillow!
In fact, I just abandoned my "virtual shopping cart" and everything in it 
so I could dash out the door on his big, strong, tattooed arm!
Dear Cupid, please?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

let's just take some time for awesomeness

Awesomeness to make you feel good...  Get some!

A nice pair of shoes will carry you far. ;)  I am seriously loving my new Under Armour running shoes.  The Micro G® Pulse is "built to go the distance.  Supports your stride and turns cushioned landings into explosive takeoffs."  Yes we are still talking shoes here people!  "I'm walking on sunshine...whoaohaohaoh and don't it feel good!" 

There is magic to be found all around us. "Investigate your mystery." ~Medicine for the people

Breakfast served in bed.

Do prefer your pineapple crushed, sliced or hedged?

Bruce Lee had lots of pure awesomeness to blah blah blah about:  "Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul."  "Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind."  "In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup."

"I could lift you up. I could show you what you wanna see. And take you where you wanna be.
You could be my luck. Even if the sky is falling down. I know that we'll be safe and sound
  I could show you love. In a tidal wave of mystery. You'll still be standing next to me.
Hold your ground. We're safe and sound."

I think we all need a pep talk...

YOU were made to be AWESOME!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

a bowl of soup and a plank

I belong to this group on Facebook called “Tales from the Scale” where we share our weight-loss journeys. This is a recent post I made to the group. It was written on January 2nd, 2014.

So here is my latest Tale from the Scale (and from the heart): I am healing myself with soup! Like a real-life version of "Chicken Soup for the Soul." I am usually a private person when it comes to matters of the heart but so you know why my soul needed soup I suppose I should mention that my (now ex-)husband left me last summer and my whole world was turned upside down. Devastated, I began to "lick my wounds" by nurturing, pampering and just simply taking care of myself. Which in doing so made me realize how badly I had neglected me over the past 15 years. So I "built a fire" inside. A small one at first. Just slowly “tossing one piece of kindling on at a time” and it has just grown higher and higher. Right about now (maybe past half way to my fitness goal) I am feeling ablaze!

MY KINDLING:Building my fire” consisted of LOTS OF PRAYER! Snuggling with my furry angel Béla. Cooking only the freshest, healthiest, wholesome foods I can get my hands on, afford, and really want to eat! Drinking tons and tons of water. Meditating, Writing, Creating: I began making small gifts to be given to strangers I'll meet in the future! (But that is another story for another day.) Spending time visiting with good, true friends like B... and J...! For the first few months after my separation I made it a point to ONLY speak to or surround myself with people I love and know truly love me. ME time: doing spa like things for myself such as an aromatherapy bath with candles, a deep conditioning hair treatment, soaking my feet, doing my nails. Then I began to Plank.

Thinking back my weight-loss all started with a bowl of soup and a plank. LOL. Two seemingly ordinary things together becoming radically epic life-changing experiences.

The planking really seemed to “fuel my inner fire.” After planking I began to search the internet for more exercises. Planking made me feel strong and given everything I'd been through I craved that strength. Actually I'll have to take that back, the very first time I planked I didn't feel strong at all. I noticed how weak it made me feel. I keenly felt weakness quivering throughout every inch of my entire body. And the very next day I felt pain and soreness all over. It was raw. But I liked it. A pleasurable pain. A hard-earned burn. And I wanted it to become easier. To become stronger.

It is so incredibly empowering when you are feeling emotionally broken to take into your own hands your physical strength! I am currently in my own little “booty”camp. I do everything and I do it all for free and the closest I come to a gym is utilizing the playground monkey bars for pull ups. I am now also “running” a few times a week. I run for about a half a mile then I have to walk for a bit until I can breathe and run again... I do this until I have completed about 3-5 miles. I like Nike + as a tracker app because I do NOT have to post where I am running on facebook... A: so no one will come stalk me and B: so no one will laugh at my sad pace. ;)

So back to the soup! I make and eat a lot of soup... this works for me. I make a huge pot of soup about once a week using mostly fresh, unpeeled veggies, sometimes a little frozen, and maybe canned (rinsed) beans and some meat. I enjoy taking my time selecting the best looking produce I can find. Gotta add the love when your cooking if it's gonna heal your soul! Herbs and seasonings, not a lot of salt, absolutely no preservatives or weird unpronounceable ingredients are in my food and that makes me feel good. Then I can just heat and eat all week long which works great with my busy schedule. It's delicious and filling but I never feel stuffed or bloated after eating it. 

I credit the soup for a lot of my weight loss. I know before Christmas I had lost just over 26 lbs when ironically my scale broke. I have continued to lose through the Holidays I know by how my clothes are (not) fitting. Not to mention the plethora* of accolades* from those around me. (*Oooooh got to use two of my favorite words there in one sentence!) On NYE I wore a new dress I bought out of the Junior's department size MEDIUM! Hello?!!? If any of you know me in real life you know that 6 months ago I was dangerously close to wearing plus sizes! Seriously! The absolute best part of all of this is... I have energy! I have lots of it! It's amazing and I believe it makes you look better. Of course losing weight makes you look better but letting that energy flow “shining your love light” is what makes you beautiful. I feel that when I smile at someone one now. I feel great! How awesome is that?!?!

Now y'all go make yourselves a big pot of soup and don't forget to add the love! XOXO

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

a lot more about me

So much has changed in my life since I last posted nearly seven months ago in June of 2013.  I find it quite ironic that I had such clarity about the direction I wanted my blahg, and even my life, to go when I made that post. Particularly that image illustrating "not being lost or confused." Boy was I asking for it! Just when you think you've got things all figured out in this game, life goes and throws you a curve-ball. Interestingly enough, I am still envisioning the same direction for my blahg. And my ideas and desire to write seem to grow each day in this epic journey of mine! In fact I've decided to share some rather personal things going on in my life so here goes...

MY NIGHTMARE: Divorce. The reason I find my previous clarity ironic is because the very next month after my last post my husband and best friend of nearly fifteen years would unexpectedly walk out and leave me turning my entire world upside down. I've deleted and edited old posts from this blahg pertaining to my old life with him. Not to be spiteful but to start fresh.  My ex and I are amicable. I cannot find a reason to hate someone who is only following his heart. Even if his heart is stupid because it “loves me but isn't in love with me.” That having been said however, I certainly don't want to be in a loveless marriage so I have made peace with our parting and have come to believe it was the right and best thing for us both. 

I did not come to that conclusion instantly, easily, or without pain. I spent a long time feeling deeply saddened. I think I was really shocked and depressed at first. It felt as if someone had died only worse because unlike when someone dies, this decision to leave had been consciously made. Over time though I became less depressed. I continued to manage putting one foot in front of the other, going through the motions of daily life. A bit zombie-like at times but all the while making sure to do the things I knew I needed to be doing in order to awaken from this nightmare I found myself living.

MY ROCK: God. I have always known God's Love. What a blessed child I am! God is my rock. God's Love is my everything.  My Pebbles: Also my dog, family, friends and music are all my rocks!

God. Me. and the Dog...  
“Go ta sleep ya little baby. 
Go ta sleep ya little baby. 
You and Me and the Lord makes three. 
Don't need no other loving baby.”

I couldn't sleep at first. I can recall lying on the floor next to the dog's bed singing this to myself back then. (wave of emotion: in tears typing this remembering how weak and broken I felt) So weak. So broken. Failed. Abandoned. Alone. That's the interesting thing is that I was never, not for one single day, alone. But of all the amazing people rallying around me, attempting to cheer me up, only my Lord and my dog could comfort me. 

My sweet eight year old dog who for the first time ever was suddenly experiencing life without his human dad. (I kept the dog.  His dad gets to take him whenever he wants.)  Needless to say we were going through some of the same shit. So I spent months just going to work and hanging with my dog. It was like hibernating from the world. I knew I must've seemed so sad and didn't really want to be seen that way. So I stayed in my cocoon. My harbor. My limetree. It felt safe there. I began to work on me. “And God saw that it was good.” Then slowly I began to emerge.

I was pretty empty. I emerged a little hollow at first as if all my love had spilled out and left me feeling a physical emptiness in my chest. But I was ready to fill the void and being so empty left me wide-open to receive, in the words of the great Robert Plant: “a whole lotta love.” And that is exactly what I did. I proceeded to fill up my love cup with a whole lotta love.

My Awesome Family which includes some Really Special Friends were always there for me and once I felt strong enough I began to visit with loved ones. Gathering up all of that love of course worked wonders for me. So I hate to even mention a negative but when something major like a separation happens in your life you learn who your true friends are and people show you their true colors. Aware of my vulnerability, I learned quickly to surround myself strictly with true love during this delicate phase of my life. So any shady colors revealed didn't make the cut. Once I began to visit and speak with people again, I only spoke positivity. Even if I didn't always feel it. So if I had the urge to say something that was negative, I just wouldn't say it.

And then there is Music. Music makes me feel better every day of my life. Like medicine, (some of it in fact was Medicine For The People) music helped me heal. Making me feel soothed, justified, understood, less alone. I love lyrics and when you relate to the words of a song you know someone else also lived through it. So listening and relating to music also helped me tremendously. 

MY ADDICTION: Strength. As I gained a little strength I thoroughly savored every drop. I became thirsty for more. I became driven, a little obsessed really, to the feeling and idea of growing stronger. Something positive and active that I can do to put some power back into my hands. Food to nurture and make me healthy. Exercise to make me physically fit and powerful. Meditation, Devotion and Prayer to make me knowledgeable and spiritually strong. And of course the Love. Tap into the love from all available sources surrounding you, lifting you up, carrying you when you feel weak, making you emotionally strong! Receive Love. Take the love that people are offering. Take from each situation what you can. Reciprocate Love. Give love and positivity. Give back in each opportunity that arises. Strengthen. Gain momentum. Become powerful. Give Love. Receive Love.

One thing I have learned along the way is that there ARE a lot of encouraging people out there willing to lift you up and give you love. They will fortify you when you feel weak.  Find them. Let them. Pay close attention, they will also teach you a tremendous amount on how to reciprocate. Love them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

a little about me

After years without, this blah blah blahg finally has some direction.

Rather than blahgging about a single subject or theme such as my hairstyling or candle business, I have decided to use my blahg to share a rather eclectic glimpse of what inspires me and what's going on in my life.  So this is my post that is in-between me not really knowing what I wanted to do with my blahg and now having a clear understanding on how I want to communicate with the world and express myself here.  Allow me to tell you just a little bit more about me.  "these are a few of my favorite things..."

I am a hairstylist who decided to open my own business this year. I absolutely love what I do and owning it!  So I'll be sharing lots of exciting news from my hair salon here on my blahg! So far everything is going great!  I am really enjoying owning and operating my own business. I look forward to sharing more about my work adventures! My Salon Website

Many of you already know me from my handmade, natural candle company: Brandywine Design. I am still making, selling and burning these beauties. They are now available both online in My Etsy Shop and at my salon! So I will still post about candles here and there.

In fact, I will likely post lots of crafty, DIY type projects as I love art and am always getting my hands into something!

(peacock painting for a friend's wedding)

a.k.a. "Brandywine's Bistro"  I will be sharing some favorites from the bistro as well, simply because I love fresh, tasty, healthy foods! I've always enjoyed cooking, spending time in the market and kitchen (and especially outside by the grill,) preparing beautiful and wholesome meals. Most days however, I don't spend a lot of time doing any of those things. Some days I'm lucky if I get in an actual meal. As a single gal who is operating her own business, finding the time and money to eat right is easier said than done. I read on's blog that "75% of your fitness is defined by what you put in your mouth!" And I've noticed when you eat better you feel better, and this certainly seems to have a chain-reaction causing many aspects of your life to improve rapidly.  You will not doubt find more blah blah blah about healthy food and fitness in the future here too!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Handmade Candles by Brandywine Design

Cradle to Candle ©

A New Line of Upcycled Candles

I am thrilled to share with you Brandywine Design’s new series of beautifully handcrafted upcycled candles: 
Cradle to Candle ©
Named in honor of the book ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,’ these candles would most assuredly make the authors proud. Written by William McDonough & Michael Braungart, this book documents the introduction of the very term upcycled. 

The authors, an architect and a scientist, put forth the principle known as cradle to cradle, whereby materials are immediately reused or recycled when they no longer fulfill their original function. Material thus never ends up as garbage but, as in nature, is endlessly reused. “Part social history, part green business primer, part design manual, the book makes plain that the re-invention of human industry is not only within our grasp, it is our best hope for a future of sustaining prosperity." Click here for more information on this book.
Upcycling containers is what makes the Cradle to Candle © series by Brandywine Design so uniquely special. By reusing containers, Brandywine Design is essentially doing its part to make a small reduction in landfill. And because these candles are made from all-natural wax, once the candle is spent, the containers can easily be cleaned and reused by washing with hot soapy water.

Each scented candle in the Cradle to Candle © series is hand poured into a reused glass container, commonly found in American households, with a special message or design making these candles a great meaningful gift and just in time for Valentine’s Day!