These Are The Moments

(July 2016, Las Vegas, NV)

Have you ever sat so still, you could feel your body shift back and forth from the beat of your own heart?

There was a full moon and a break in the desert heat last night, so I took some extra quiet time to enjoy my surroundings.  In my glamorous pajamas (not really glamorous at all), I sat outside to observe the summer night.  The full moon hovered over the backyard, accompanied by enough stars to make up some constellation.  I wasn’t on the verge of sweating, the temperature was a perfect 90 degrees.  Life was perfect and peaceful.

These are the moments…

These are the moments to be conscious of your blessings; simply noticing the beat of your heart.  Maybe even you crack a smile in gratitude for its continuous effort?

These are the moments where you can sort the past from Present, marking a clean slate for Now…and also, creating space for what’s to come.

These are the moments where change takes place, where you set your intentions, prioritize life.  YOUR life.  YOU get to do that!

These are the moments…slow down to speed up.

These are the moments where you give yourself a chance to live from your beating heart.

Envision:

What makes you smile?  Who makes you smile?  Go there.  Spend more of your time THERE.  With whom?  Spend more of your time with THEM.

I write down goals often.  And it’s fulfilling to be able to put check marks next to them.  As you already know, I often get asked, “Why Vegas?”  When I reply, “So, I can check it off my bucket list!” people assume there’s more to the story.  And that I’m way too young (*blush* and thank you) to have a bucket list.  They think I must have followed a guy here.  Typical, right?  That’s my favorite.  Because they’re so wrong.  (Not that I need them to be wrong–no, not at all–I just love surprising people with the unordinary.  Help them think outside of the box.)  Aaaaaand I get so happy with myself knowing I made a decision for ME.  I actually put myself FIRST!  It had nothing to do with anyone else but my own curious heart.  And then my mind wanders off from conversation because I’m just so proud of myself for making that decision (and I’m soooooo over explaining myself to other people) that I find an excuse to leave and let them have time to ponder my abnormal decisions.

Oh, and the one who told me I was too young to have a bucket list?  Mmmmmmm, who says we all get to live to be 80, 90, 100 years?  I’m not taking that bet.  I’m deciding to truly live…now.

If I don’t take time to reflect, make my check marks, I won’t know how far I’ve come.  It’s a great reminder to witness the Universe in action.  If you put intention, energy toward your goals, the world really does conspire to make them reality.  I have journals and journals of proof that it’s true!

What I’m most proud of the past few months doesn’t have to do with the number of check marks on my list.  Sometimes the weight of ONE can spin your life into a whole new, amazing direction.  I have been driving around, going through my days keeping this mainly to myself.  And there is a sense of guilt for not putting it into words to share.  I see so many inspiring Instagram posts and thoughtful blog posts, that I wonder if I have anything different to share.  I’d like to say no and keep quiet.  And just feel thankful that these other people have the courage and creativity to share.  But dang you meditation!  And all the driving that I do!  This past week when I’ve had moments to myself, I heard the whispers to write.  To share.  And last night, sitting quietly enough to hear.  Quietly enough to feel.  Oh my heart….

I took a chance on a trip that I could’ve easily put off until Fall or Winter.  In fact, I purposely said no a few different times and figured September, not May, would be ideal timing to take a trip.  *Reminder: the Universe always wins so it’s best not to fight her 😉  Thailand had been on my list of places to go for quite some time.  And a group of friends (remember my RockIn Rio crew that seemed like I had known them my whole life?  Them!) had already planned a trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for Spring (4 months before my ideal trip time, keep in mind).  The invite remained for 9 months.  And even though the thought of it excited me every time we spoke about it, I told myself no.  The timing didn’t seem right.

Until one day, it kind of DID.

Ok, fast forward to today.  Hello, Thursday, January 26th!  My last day of my 35th trip around the sun.  I always seem to reflect in depth this time of year.  Gratitude fills me up for everything that has taken place the previous 365 days.  No matter how hard, how joyful or how confusing any memory is, I know it’s all there for a good reason.  And with more time, I’ll see the big picture more clearly.  2016 seemed like a huuuuuuge shifting year for many people, the world.  Myself included.  Some people hated it.  But oh my gosh, please be nice to it!  I needed that year in my life!  2016 was the deepest, yummiest inhale and exhale I could take.  My soul would’ve died a slow and painful death had we somehow skipped this year.  Thank God no matter how many people wish it away, I get to embrace what it was for me.

I went through a break-up in April, for the last time (one can have hope, right?!).  Man those things can knock the wind right out of you.  Oh you’re standing on solid ground?  No, it just disappeared.  Now what are you going to do?  Yeah, those are fun.  Mandi, I know I promised you I’d do a blog post “How To Survive A Break UP”.  The notes are all here in my journal–everything that helped get me through.  I’ll come back to it.  Sooner than later.  But I’ll touch on it with this…

Nothing will turn out how it’s supposed to be if you don’t go “all in” on a situation.  It will either work out or it won’t.  Period.  So as scary as it is to commit to a goal, a life change (moving?) or a person, you’ll never know “if it works out” unless you try.  100%.  You can’t be lukewarm and expect to see the whole picture.  You have to live it!

Counting the last 9 months, most of it in 2016, I was living life.  Going through it.  And sometimes it just doesn’t seem right to document every twist and turn.  You need time and space to live the winding roads.  But even more so, you wish for everyone involved to have time and space that they need…to live, to go through change, to blossom (your ex, your friends, your family…it’s change for everyone).  And that’s love.  It doesn’t end or quit.  It just changes form.  That’s something I’m proud of this past year.  Being loving even when it takes a different shape or story line.  There’s no manual for closing and opening new chapters.  You just have to show up, day after day, as gracefully as you can.  I did that.  I showed up.  I gave love to myself.  And from that, was able to extend love to others.  Glennon, Elizabeth, Kathryn…thank you for ALL the words of wisdom in 2016.

So, that day that it “kinda DID” seem like perfect timing to take the trip of a lifetime?  To not put it off?  I would’ve never arrived at that day if it hadn’t been for a break up.  I never would’ve given myself time, space, reflection and a huge refocus…maybe eventually, but not on the path I was taking at that time.  Huge, heart-wrenching changes, even if it feels like you can’t find solid ground…excuse me, especially when it feels like you can’t find solid ground…which way is UP??…those are the circumstances where you get to feel (be human), you get to be thankful for the little things you do have (chocolate, work, a work family, great friends, family that loves you no matter what, beautiful scenery, a place YOU chose to live–pat on the back)…the things and people we sometimes take for granted.  The refocus on gratitude is powerful.  And from that grateful feeling-tone, it brings opportunity for new perspective.  I had a blank, white canvas to start again.  I had the opportunity to use as many bright colors as I could to paint the life I truly wanted.

Start with the basics.  Spend time where you want to spend it and spend time with whom you want to spend it.  That’s what I needed more of in my life.  So, I planned a weekend to laugh with my RockIn Rio friends post-break up.  It was simple.  It was healing.  And it was exactly what I needed.  From there, it turned into saying YES to the trip of a lifetime with a group of people I trusted.  Having that new space to make another decision for myself has been the opening of a wonderful chapter in my life.  More to come on that.  Maybe.  Highly likely 🙂

I can’t emphasize enough how powerful and freeing it is to HOLD THAT SPACE for yourself.  Pause.  Longer!  You will find solid ground again.  But for now, float.  Lean your head back.  Look up at the sky.  Relax your shoulders.  And when you think you might go back to something that feels familiar and safe and well, how you once pictured it, pause again.  You owe it to yourself.  That beautiful white canvas.  You’ve been through a lot.  Nothing that is meant for you will pass you by, so just…be.

These are the moments!

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” -Iain Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, 34

Guys!!!  It’s my last day of being 34 years old.  I didn’t even plan to blog today.  But I slept for eight hours and I’ve already finished my coffee, so I’m feeling a bit on-top-of-it.  I also just finished writing in the last two pages of my journal.  And it’s appropriate enough to share…

34, you’ve been good to me!  As I sip my morning coffee from my Zoey mug, the memories of this past year make me smile.  Just like the hand-painted crab on my mug, it, too, is smiling.

My 34th year has been about doing exactly what I want and even though that sounds very selfish (and much like a spoiled brat…hey, MOM–assure them I’m really not!) I’m not going to edit it.  Maybe it’s not a bad thing after all to do exactly what you want?

As I’ve mentioned before, this past year is all thanks to curiosity.  Live in Las Vegas?  Check.  Serve cocktails pool-side?  Check.  I planned financially and the abundance has been worth it.  These goals, dreams–as simple as they were–have brought me freedom.  Freedom to DO more, dream more.  The boundaries of the this-is-how-you-live-life box are fading away and I’m living my unique life.  I am living my life how it makes sense to me (and sometimes if I think too much, it doesn’t make sense AT ALL! but that is where humor and being okay with mystery takes place).  Mostly, I’m happy.  Some say “conscious” is a better goal to strive for.  I try to be conscious, too.  I realize how grateful I am for my life here.  I’m not sure if there’s a better feeling than that.

Curiosity-> Plan-> Follow Through->Freedom-> FAITH

Taking any and all of these chances WILL expand your faith in the universe, in God, whatever your higher power is.  I love this quote from Paulo Coelho in his book The Alchemist:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

From my grandiose dreams to my simple visions, they all start with a feeling of future happiness.  I ask myself to picture a setting that I’d love, where I’d be happy and inspired on most days.  And if I follow this vision and start to build upon it, it also comes with a feeling of fear.  But fear really IS a compass, helping me go exactly where I want to go…to grow as a person, to become a better person.  The fear probably comes from the unknowing.  Type A personalities, go ahead and gasp (I did!).

To remind myself about my 2015 journey, and to encourage myself to keep planning a life of adventure, it would sound something like this:

There will be rewards.  There will be achievement.  The fear will disappear and you will find more confidence, maybe even more happiness than you imagined.  You will make a home in a place you’ve always dreamed of.  And it will even FEEL like home.  You will be surrounded by people you look forward to seeing every day, at WORK!  You will have days off.  And you will miss those people.  But you’ll also have the spare time to see your favorite nail technician Thao.  The one who makes you laugh as she shares her honest obsession with Taylor Swift and rap music.  Yes, very different, but she’s kind of like me because I like that, too.  She will talk my ear off, which works out perfectly because I like to listen.  And laugh!

You might just realize you’ve found a tribe of thoughtful, hard-working, funny and (bottom-line) loving people.  And whether they know it or not, you will call them family.  My Vegas Family.

And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have a whole new year to dream, plan and live your life even better than you’ve envisioned it.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.” -Rumi 

Here is a summary in pictures of living in Las Vegas.  Mostly in chronological order, starting with March 2015 when Mandi came to visit…

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Hiking at Red Rock 
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We easily entertain ourselves

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Mandi’s 34th birthday (pictured above).  We danced the night away to a Throwback Thursday themed night at LAX nightclub.  This was her the next morning (below) headed to the airport..her smile really says, “I think I’m gonna die.”  Hangovers at 34 are brutal!!!

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My dad came to visit! We had lunch at Yard House in Town Square.
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The pool crew!

 

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One of my favorite nights out. A little blurry, a lot of laughs! Downtown Las Vegas

The same night we went out downtown, we met some down-to-Earth, well-humored guys who happened to be part of Blue Man Group.  One of them lived and performed here  in the Las Vegas show and two others were part of their traveling show abroad.  They invited me to see the show a few nights later.  It was my first ever Las Vegas show and it did not disappoint!

These guys knew how to have fun!  My cheeks hurt from laughing so much…

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New group of friends and another fun night. Thank you, Adrienne!!! Tao Night Club

March, April and May were very social for me.  My beloved sleep was thrown to the back burner and a few times I had the thought that Vegas would be the death of me!  Trying to balance work and fun in this city will surely test you.  But I made it through!  And I have more memories to smile about…

I think there was only one week in those three months where I didn’t have friends coming to town (gulp).  Fast forward to May and the Cunninghams arrived!  I knew I had to dig deep.  Jess and Joe never disappoint either! 🙂

Flamingo pool shenanigans:

Joe and his Firefighter Softball Olympics in Henderson, NV:

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Go Team Gangreen! 
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Jessica getting pampered by Amanda and me. Cheering for Gangreen is hard work!

 

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Rallying for another night out…

 

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Team Gangreen cheerleaders (groupies)

And then to close the month of May, Miss Emmers came to visit.  We had a little fun 😉

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Welcome to *fabulous* Las Vegas, Emily!

Rock in Rio festival was amazing.  Some of my happiest and most hilarious memories are from this concert.  Thanks, guys!!!

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When Spain, Germany, Argentina, Mexico and California unite: Rock in Rio 2015

And then, there was some calm (siiiiigh).  A little depression from all the good-byes but some definite “me-time” restored.  I soaked up wisdom over amazing pineapple martinis from Del Frisco’s Steakhouse with a few favorite customers of mine, treated myself to a Romeo Santos concert, and even bought a new car more suitable for long road trips.

New wheels and a few days off, I headed to the beach to see a few of my favorites!  Nate, Amber Jean and the Pacific Ocean…

Finally got to meet Baby Jules.  He is PRE-CIOUS (!!!), Amber!

The month of June brought a lot of back and forth travel from Vegas to L.A.  It seems when you do what’s best for yourself (moving to Las Vegas), then everything starts to fall in place with more ease.

Travel, coffee and bike rides…

Trips home to Seaside, OR and even a trip back to my ultimate paradise–the Dominican Republic–rounded out my summer and Fall 2015.  Nate, you make these trips happen and of course you make them memorable!  Thank youuuuuuu!!!

Cannon Beach, OR

In Seaside, we celebrated Nate’s birthday and enjoyed the beach volleyball tournament.

October 2015–the Dominican Republic

 

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I love it here.  This is our yoga spot…

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And what better way to snap back into reality then coming home and starting the holiday season?  Dear Lord.  I DO love the holidays, but I’m always glad when they’re over.  My favorite part about Christmas is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” song.  Other than that, the season is a bitter-sweet.  The collective energy behind it all is nothing less than CRAZY.  I do enjoy my time with family and this year, Nate and I were able to see both of our families.  I knew it’d be a trek, but we did it!  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mandi graduated from her nursing program, so we also threw in a trip to Tennessee.  Pictures to prove I survived it all…

December 2015–Bend, OR

Utah–NYE celebrations and a wedding to really finish off the year.  And myself.  I think I almost died….maybe I just wanted to.  I’m not used to 9 degree weather, whole body aches and a 24 hour pounding headache.  And no, it was not a hangover.  With some drugs and essential oils (thank you, Trish!!), I made it through!  Seeing Nate’s family was worth the effort and my health’s sacrifice.  The Younkers are a bundle of loving energy.

 

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

35, I’m ready for you! x0x0, SG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connection

As I look back on seven months of pictures and memories, my heart is full.  I’m happy.  Spring and summer have passed.  And I’m hopeful that 115 degree temperatures have, too.  Fall time in Las Vegas is currently 73 degrees and sunny.  It’s a serene place.  The loud, seldom noises are school buses and garbage trucks driving through the neighborhood.  The birds are chirping.  I actually listen for the birds–I shock myself sometimes.

I’ve been writing this blog post in my head ever since Mandi visited for her birthday in April.  I planned on writing one post each month, highlighting visitors, home projects and work updates (oh the people I’ve met and the things they say!).  And now it’s October.  With the help of a tad more coffee maybe?  And some Trader Joe’s chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels, I just might be able to do this…

“What brings you to Vegas?”

…people ask me lots of questions throughout my work day.  This has to be the most frequent one.  And on some days my answers do change.  But my truest answer today is “curiosity”.  For many years I’ve wondered if I could live in Las Vegas and what my life would look like here.  I just never thought I could do it (no ocean, no way).

“How could you leave a place like San Diego?”

For that one, my answer has stayed consistent: “I can always move back.”  No big deal there.

My job, by the way, is also something I’ve been curious about–being a poolside cocktail server.  My favorite thing to do in Las Vegas has always been relaxing by the pool (shopping, a close second).  It was actually a year ago this month, that I ‘accidentally’ gave it some serious thought.  Nate and I were at the Luxor spending a few days with my sister and my nephew and I couldn’t help but observe the servers there.  They were spending all day at the pool, just like I planned on doing, but they were getting paid for it!  It was less of a sense of jealousy, and more of an “I can do that, too!” a-HA moment.  And as soon as I noticed those words in my head, the seed was planted.

It wasn’t until three months later that I decided this would be my next adventure.  January 2015 and making decisions!  Many thoughts and ideas would come and go, but when I came back around to this one, it was game ON.  And if I haven’t mentioned it already, having the support of your best friend helps immensely.  Reading the text, “DO it!!!”  Sharing in the excitement–the best.

With the rush of butterflies in planning something new, I also feared it like no other.  In March, two days before my first day of work, I got nauseous and my brain flooded with negative thoughts: this job won’t be as fun as I think…the guests are going to pick me apart…who am I to wear a swimsuit for a work uniform…I’m not perfect enough…what have I done….RUN before it’s too late!!

With any new job, I’m sure that no matter how much training and experience you have, there will still be those times that you simply don’t know and won’t know everything.  Oh we hate that, don’t we?!  Can’t we skip over all the uncomfortable parts and land safely in the womb of comfort?!  Joke’s on us.  That will never happen.  Well, unless we stay hidden in our comfort zones and miss life completely.  Otherwise, keep moving towards the fear and learn to laugh at oneself along the way.  Everything will work out.  It always does!

Emily Becker, I have to say!  It was your supportive and encouraging text the day before starting this new job that helped ease my anxiety.  I will not forget the moment of letting those fearful thoughts pass and the new feeling of welcoming and believing your encouraging words.  And now, as I needed the extra push to write and reflect on all of this, you inspired me with this:

~write about how connections can be short, but very important~

Indeed, my sweet Emmers!  Connection…

“How long will you be staying with us?”

Tomorrow.  Everyone leaves tomorrow.  And if it’s not tomorrow, they are leaving sometime soon.  People come to Vegas for 3-4 days.  A week if they’re crazy enough and close to two weeks if they’re from Europe.  That’s the layout.  Coming into this city and to this job, it sounded perfect to me.  People coming and going.  After all, I wasn’t looking for anything but a whole bunch of “me” time.  I was overdue to be self-focused and nobody was going to get in the way of that.

Oh you know there’s a twist…

It didn’t take long–hardly a month after I moved here–one of my first tastes of disappointment or better yet: a tug on the ol’ heart strings.  My friend Steve aka “Stomps” was coming to town from Salt Lake City.

We met back in 2008 when Mandi and I moved to NW Portland.  His business partner talked us into stepping inside their bar one quiet Wednesday evening when we were exploring our new neighborhood on foot.  Not big drinkers since our wild 20s were beginning to mellow out, Stomps (maybe reluctantly) served us the glasses of water and made us the BEST nachos for the next six months or so.  Then we all started parting ways from Portland, but never lost contact.

So it’s March 2015.  Stomps comes to town with a few of his musically talented buddies (highly recommend checking out Matt Lewis Band–a few of his songs are staples in my yoga playlists!) and we meet at…the pool!  This is the start of my new adventure?  Catching up with old friends, sharing laughs poolside and okay, maybe a tasty drink in hand this time?  Life was good.  Simple.  Easy!  All sunshine and palm trees.  I could get used to this.  As the day progressed, my roommate Alli was able to meet up with us and join in on the fun.  We even made new friends thanks to Stomps’ outgoing personality.  A group of guys from Ohio on their annual golf trip, ranging in age from 25-60 years old.  I remember laughing SO hard because one of the 60 year old (sweet-as-pie) fathers had one too many drinks and was really starting to embarrass his 25 year old son.  Laughing is my favorite.  I can’t help it.  Before I knew it, we were all friends heading to Hakkasan together to tear up the dance floor.  And that we did.

Remember what I said though?  Everyone leaves ‘tomorrow’.  Our Ohio friends flew out the next day.  Good-byes were inevitable.  And soon after, Stomps and his buddies would hit the road back to SLC.  I felt my first taste of hating good-byes and I hadn’t even started my first day of work yet (that would be March 28th)!  Spring and summer were still in front of me and that’s when I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride.  This was only the beginning.  I’m an empath.  I feel.  Period.  I already had visitors scheduled to arrive for the next couple of months and if it was this easy to make new friends, I would be saying more good-byes, heart-felt good-byes, than I imagined.  This was about to be a good lesson in loving (the Present moment) and letting go.

“You may think something is too great to let go, but sometimes greater things can only happen after you let go.”

My mantra during this time: smile because it happened.  Be grateful.  Keep moving forward.

My first weekend at work was a blast.  It was crazy!  No one really knew what they were doing–all of us servers were brand new to the computer system.  I had to ask for help so often from the bartenders that I was genuinely apologizing with almost every order.  Thank goodness they were all so helpful and most of them had a sense of humor, too!  It was a zoo, but we somehow managed to get drinks to the crowds of thirsty people for eight straight hours.  Not even a bathroom break.  Who knew that if you make customers wait long enough, they’ll start chanting your name and erupt in joyful cheering when they see you coming?  For that, for them, I was so grateful!

I think I’ve always been a believer that all humans have hearts–good hearts.  No matter how they act, no matter what they hide or portray, there is goodness deep down.  And yet, it still baffles me that day after day, working this job, my guests are some of THE nicest people.  I will be driving home after an 8-hour workday and I’ll be beaming from my interactions with guests.  It’s so unlike my introvert ways.  I’ve seriously second-guessed myself, wondering if I really am an introvert.  Could I be…?…an extrovert?  And then a few days ago, I was at home cleaning when the doorbell rang and it scared the crap out of me.  With a pounding heart, I tiptoed straight to my room and reassured myself, definitely an introvert.  No chance in answering the door.

Some other noteworthy and frequent questions on the job (and some I like more than others):

*Why are you here?  You must be a college student.  *How old are you…twenty-seven?  *Let me guess, tennis player?  Volleyball player?  *Will you marry me?  *Your go-to workout must be…  *Are you married?…kids?

I actually had a group of women from Atlanta erupt with cheering when I told them I wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids.  They thought that was the best news and were SO happy for me.  “Live your life, guuuurrl–do your thang!”  It still makes me crack up just thinking about it.

In the mornings on my way to work, I would be excited thinking about who I could possibly get to meet that day.  Whether it was another nice couple from North Carolina or an older gentleman that I’d spend 45 minutes talking to about Punta del Este, Uruguay.  A place that we had both been to and shared our different experiences from there.  And if I wasn’t looking forward to those possibilities, I would be excited about simply spending the day with my co-workers.  As frustrating as some days could be, when things just weren’t flowing well no matter how hard you try, I had these people to laugh with.  And on the flipside, when my guests were perfect angels, but my bartenders were driving me nuts, you KNOW we’ve become family!  At the end of the day, that means so much more than a paycheck.

My initial plan was to add in a few yoga classes per week.  I love teaching and I do miss it.  But it’s not something I’m going to force either.  Reflecting on my time here in Las Vegas, it has actually been the best yoga practice of my life.  I roll out my mat at home and I’ve come across a studio that caught my interest for a few weeks, but the real yoga has been every day that I wake up–going to work, interacting with guests, co-workers, strangers I pass along the way.  Continuing on as a team player, even when I think I would run things very differently.  Having patience.  Being graceful even when it seems like it’s the last thing I want to do.  Devoting myself to the present moment and who is in front of me (how can I serve you?).  And oh those days when I have to close my eyes and remind myself to stop, breathe in and breathe out before I absolutely lose it.  All of this is why we step onto our mats to practice.  So we can use it in our every-day lives.

This is the connection.  As fleeting as some connections appear to be, the energy and all the magic is in the present moment.  When I shy away from it or wish that it were different–wish I were in a different place, it feels like I’m battling the whole world.  But when I open up to it and devote my full attention, wonderful things really do happen!

I’ve met wonderful people who I won’t ever see again.  And I’m better at being okay with that now.  I’ve had a solid seven months of practice!  Hello, good-bye.  Repeat.  And I’ve met wonderful people who I’ll make a point to see again because it seems like I’ve know them my whole life.  But it’s impossible to have known them–they’re from Germany, Argentina, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico!  Maybe some connections are simply meant to be short.  And some are supposed to turn into life-long friendships.

I think a genuine connection, short or long-term, adds Light to this world.  And maybe that’s the whole point.  When we exchange smiles, treat each other with respect, take notice of our similarities, share a laugh together…it’s a great feeling.  Simple, yet profound.  And no matter what, ever-lasting.

I had one guest, on the day he was leaving, tell me that the Native Americans don’t have a word for good-bye.  (Now I don’t know if that’s true but I was really interested in what he was saying as soon as he said “Native Americans”.)  He continued to say that ‘they believe once you meet someone, you’re forever connected to them’.  I liked that.  I liked that a lot!

“The greatest hindrance in our spiritual life is that we will only look for big things to do.”  –Oswald Chambers

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”  –Rumi

 

 

 

Maybe the Question Isn’t “Why?”…

…maybe it’s “why not?”…

Touching down at LAX was…hmmm….let me see if I can find all the words to describe it: exciting, familiar yet refreshing, exhausting…and warm.  Thank goodness for warmth!  Landing in a place that’s 30 degrees warmer makes for thought-out wardrobe choices and strategic packing.  Uggs, stretch pants, layers of sweatshirts, a scarf and a jacket were a must for leaving Oregon.  Being cold on a plane is never enjoyable and cozying up to the sweet old man next to you probably isn’t appropriate.  You have to fly prepared.  And when you land, your wardrobe change needs to be as effortless as Clark Kent’s.  I stood at baggage claim a little longer than I’d hoped.  Thoughts of missing luggage crossed my mind a few times and that never really worries me.  Did someone mistakenly leave with my jumbo suitcase and oversized body bag?  I started sweating in my Uggs.

About 20 minutes later, my life–packed into two big bags–came down the conveyor belt.  I smiled with reassurance and quickly discarded the chaotic thoughts of “what if…”.  Nobody took my stuff.  And nobody would understand all that’s in there anyway.  If they left with it, they would surely bring it right back!  And that thought right there not only makes me smile.  It makes me giggle, too.  If I’m the only one who understands a life packed into bags, that’s okay.  It’s more than okay!  Claim it and love it.  That’s the whole point, right?!

I heaved the bags off the conveyor belt and unzipped my body bag.  My flip flops were on top, right where I placed them.  I kicked off my swampy Uggs, put on my Havaianas and took off a few top layers, too.  Much better!  My winter gear, once again, shoved into my bag and zipped up.  And again, smiling…because I know I won’t need winter clothes for a long time!

I made the trek out of the airport doors with 100 pounds of luggage, only to find I couldn’t breathe deeply just yet.  There was an overwhelming amount of second hand smoke and car exhaust to add to the LAX welcome–whoa!  But finally, as I reached the curb and out of the smoke cloud–a familiar car and a familiar face.  A big hug from Nate and a quick exit from the crowded airport, windows down and sunshine…it might not be fresh Oregon air, but I could truly breathe!

In the short time it took to drive to Nate’s apartment, we decided a few relaxing beach days were on tap.  Twist my arm!

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All I need~Hermosa Beach
And a few laughs from Nate of course
And a few laughs from Nate of course

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We juiced!  And soaked up some more sunshine…

Hermosa...
Hermosa…
...beautiful indeed.
…beautiful indeed.

Catching up with Nate in my favorite breathing space (the beach–you know this by now right? 🙂 ) were two perfect doses of familiarity I needed before stepping out and facing uncertainty.  Again!

To move forward towards any new goal or new life, we have to let go of what’s comfortable (gulp).  We have to let go of other people’s visions, hopes and dreams that they have for us (that one is even harder for me to swallow).  We have to let go of false loyalty–staying in situations that no longer serve our best self and consequentially, the people around us, whom we dearly love.  All of these things have been my biggest lessons recently.

Holding on to what we know can keep our vibration low.  We are meant to vibrate at a higher frequency.  Not merely exist in this dream of life.  What excites you?  What scares you?  That’s your compass telling you where to go.  We light up when we are excited.  We are Light and we are meant to SHINE.

Valentine’s Day this year was the start of a new chapter for me.  Moving to a place I’ve pondered about and caught myself day-dreaming of for many years.  A place I loved to visit as a child on family trips and of course as an “adult”!  With my car all packed up, I was on the road heading east (eventually north, too), away from my beloved Pacific Ocean.

Destination:  Las Vegas (insert all the nicknames here)!

So here I am, waking up in Las Vegas.  Surprisingly, I’ve had a full night’s sleep and my liver isn’t working overtime.  Everything here seems spacious–from the kitchen I get to cook in to the mountains ranges around me.  This abundant amount of space excites me.  It’s as simple as that.  Creating space is a fertile ground for creativity and endless opportunity.  My plan here is to continue sharing my love for health and yoga through many different avenues, as well as trying new things altogether–stay posted.

I received a text from a friend in San Diego a few weeks ago,

“Hey, are you in town?”

No, I just moved to Las Vegas :)”

“What?  Ok…good luck…why Vegas…I mean, why not Vegas?!”

My thought exactly 🙂

Palm trees, blue skies and The Strip
Palm trees, blue skies and The Strip

A huge bonus living here: lots of visitors!

Two of my all time favs–Brendan and Kyndra…

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The monochromatic neighborhoods give the sky an extra pop of blue color.
The monochromatic neighborhoods give the sky an extra pop of blue color.
It's not a beach promenade, but it's still quaint.
It’s not a beach promenade, but it’s quaint.
I've missed this type of scenery. Palm trees for days!
I’ve missed this type of scenery. Palm trees for days!
Finally unpacking everything I own. Oh the treasures you find! Pictures of sweet little Leo <3
Finally unpacking everything I own. Oh the treasures you find! Pictures of sweet little Leo ❤
And precious artwork from Zoey!
And precious artwork from Zoey!
We've had some snow...
We’ve had some snow…
...and some rain clouds. But look at that view. I love just being able to see The Strip.
…and some rain clouds. But look at that view of The Strip!
Most mornings consist of coffee, music and writing.
Most mornings consist of coffee, music and writing.
Making time for fresh juice and soaking up the sun. Act surprised.
Making time for fresh juice and soaking up the sun. Surprised?
My go-to recipe: celery, cucumbers, carrots and ginger.
My go-to recipe: celery, cucumbers, carrots and ginger.
What is life without pizza and basketball? #ripcity
What is life without pizza and basketball?
#ripcity!
#ripcity!

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Nevada has a serious infatuation with personalized license plates. "menbabe" What's a men babe? Mandi helped me out with this one...maybe it's "me n babe"??
Nevada has a serious infatuation with personalized license plates. “menbabe” What’s a men babe? Mandi helped me out with this one…maybe it’s “me n babe”??
The Strip at night, you just have to say "Vegas, Baby!"
The Strip at night, you just have to say “Vegas, Baby!”

xoxo~SG

 

 

Beaches, Birthdays and Goodbyes…

Family photo opp at Drake Park in Bend--Lisa, Deontay, Korrisa and Dad
Family photo opp at Drake Park in Bend Lisa, Deontay, Korrisa and Dad
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Cold. So cold.
See any resemblance here? :)
See any resemblance here? 🙂 Dad with his daughters and oldest grandson.
This way to happiness.
Yes, please!
Happy place.
Happy place.
Warming up for our run...
Warming up for our run…
...feeling pretty good these days, huh, Dad? #TellThemImSixtyOne
…feeling pretty good these days, huh, Dad? #TellThemImSixtyOne
Blue skies and beach runs. We are happy campers!
Blue skies and beach runs. We are happy campers!
Breathing it all in a little deeper after our run. Isn't this place gorgeous?
Breathing it all in a little deeper after our run. Isn’t this place gorgeous?
And this face! I found all kinds of happiness at the beach. Tito, oh, Tito!
And this face! I found all kinds of happiness at the beach. Tito, oh, Tito!
A few trips down memory lane with this fella.  Running the beaches of Seaside...
A few trips down memory lane with this fella. Running the beaches of Seaside…
He enjoys strolls on the beach, cuddling and slobbering.
Tito, 9 years old, enjoys long walks on the beach, cuddling and slobbering.
...pausing to watch the sunsets.
…pausing to watch the sunset.
Spent time in Cannon Beach with Jenny B.Bo!
Spent time in Cannon Beach with Jenny B.Bo!
Yes, the weather was impressive for January!
Yes, the weather was impressive for January!
Coffeeeeee at Insomia. And a SnapChat tutorial. After resisting the idea of having one more social media app on my phone, I decided to take the plunge. Oh my word, the hilarity!
Coffeeeeee at Insomia. And a SnapChat tutorial. After resisting the idea of having one more social media app on my phone, I decided to take the plunge. Oh my word, the hilarity!
How do you like my outfit? If there's any sense of style while clam digging, I haven't found it yet.  But when you get the call to face one of your fears, you say "okaaaaaay" even if it's with all the hesitation in the world... I have miserable childhood memories of clam digging. Picture the typical winter-stormy-beach-weather and everything you need blowing away from you in the wind. And having to chase after it like your life depended on it. I laugh just thinking about how I remember it and to anyone else, it probably was enjoyable.
How do you like my outfit? If there’s any sense of style while clam digging, I haven’t found it yet.

Outfits aside, when you get the call to face one of your fears, you say “okaaaaaay” even if it’s with all the hesitation in the world…
I have *miserable* childhood memories of clam digging.  Picture the typical stormy-winter-beach-weather and everything you need blowing away from you in the wind.  And having to chase after it like your life depended on it.  Like your life depended on it?!  I can’t help but laugh, thinking about how I remember it.  So dramatic.  But, when beloved Steve-O calls, asking if you want to join him on an impromptu clam digging adventure–his favorite beach activity, bocce ball a close second–and you can hear the excitement in his voice, you decide much quicker than picking out a morning coffee mug.  Because deep down you know it’s the perfect opportunity to rewrite your story of clam digging.  And so, that is exactly what I did.  Steve showed me the ropes and it was rather enjoyable.  The weather definitely cooperated.  Happy clammers!  We both got our limit in about 20 minutes.

Fresh clams. Nothing like 'em. And there's nothing like learning how to clean them, too. What is that green stuff???
Fresh clams. Nothing like ’em. And there’s nothing like learning how to clean them, too. What is that green stuff???
And another pause to watch this perfect sunset. Thank you, Steve-O!!
And another pause to watch this perfect sunset. Thank you, Steve-O!!
More beach run shenanigans with my dad... it's no wonder songs including "Eye of the Tiger" and "We Will Rock You" are all time favorites on my running playlists. And I feel like Rocky when I finish a work out.
More beach run shenanigans with my dad…

It’s no wonder songs including “Eye of the Tiger” and “We Will Rock You” are all-time favorites on my running playlists. And I feel like Rocky when I finish a work out.  Thanks, Dad 😉

Best buds: Baxter and Dad.
Best buds: Baxter and Dad.
Empty beaches. Tons of space to play...
Empty beaches. Tons of space to play…
...balance? Check!...
…balance? Check!…
...enjoying a new perspective.
…enjoying a new perspective.
Baxter, 4 years old, likes beach runs, sticks and not listening.
Baxter, 4 years old, likes beach runs…and sticks.
These two picked me up for an afternoon of laughs in Astoria! (Jenny and Emily are also the main reason why SnapChat is SO hilarious--add them).
These two picked me up for an afternoon of laughs in Astoria! (Jenny and Emily are also the main reason why SnapChat is SO hilarious–add them).
Typical grey day view at Coffee Girl.
Typical grey day view at Coffee Girl.
We had treats!
We had treats!
What's better than catching up with coffee and treats? And just laughing at each other laughing at each other.
What’s better than catching up with coffee and treats? And just laughing at each other laughing at each other.
Getting there is half the fun! Never a dull moment in the car. Who's driving??
Getting there is half the fun! Never a dull moment in the car. Who’s driving??
This one gets me every time (!!!)...
This one gets me every time (!!!)…
...oh let's just see if it fits...
…oh let’s just see if it fits…
Acro Yoga, Eagle Pose. Squeeze your arms and legs as tightly as you can...breathe and laugh.
Acro Yoga: Perched Eagle Pose. Squeeze your arms and legs as tightly as you can…breathe…LAUGH.
Emily's selfie-stick came in handy haha
Emily’s selfie-stick came in handy haha
Who's idea was this?
Whose idea was this?
Needed a bathroom after this one...
Needed a bathroom after this one…
Birthday hike with the fam! Pilot Butte
Birthday hike with the fam! Pilot Butte
Who knew I had a bossy-pants-birthday-stance? (Don't answer that.) Thanks for the pic, Ma--we both needed a break from this steep incline.
Who knew I had a bossy-pants-birthday-stance? (Don’t answer that.) Thanks for the pic, Ma–we both needed a break from this steep incline.
"What about doing a yoga pose on that? That'd be cool." --Guy Oh, no pressure! Thankfully this post and my shoes were feeling pretty grippy.
“What about doing a yoga pose on that? That’d be cool.” –Guy
Oh, no pressure! Thankfully this post and my shoes were pretty grippy.
My pretty birthday cake. Thanks, Sis!
My pretty birthday cake. Thanks, Sis!
Deontay lighting the candles...
Deontay lighting the candles…
Only 34 candles, right?!?!
It’s a two-person job. Only 34 candles, right?!?!
Fire. Hazard.
Fire. Hazard.
That's much better!
That’s much better!
A very special "happy birthday" song, guitar playing included.
A very special “happy birthday” song, guitar playing included.
Cake and presents before dinner.
Cake and presents before dinner.

Birthdays are something else!  You get bombarded with all of this positive energy, love and thoughtfulness.  Imagine a world where only that circulates…day after day. I had nature, music, sunshine, exercise and family.  All in one outing.  That Presence is the best present of all.  Well…and laughter.  And there was a lot of that, too.

Family, family, family! Roadtrippin' back to the beach to surprise Cop Grandpa for Super Bowl weekend.
Family, family, family! Roadtrippin’ back to the beach to surprise Cop Grandpa for Super Bowl weekend.
We sang, we danced...Guy put his earphones in for the 3 hour treck to Portland. haha can't blame ya ;)
We sang, we danced…Guy put his earphones in for the 3 hour treck to Portland. haha can’t blame ya 😉
Stopped in Beaverton--nephew bonding time.
Stopped in Beaverton–nephew bonding time.
Cheeks.
Cheeks.
And they all played their instruments...together... kind of! It was pretty remarkable :)
And they all played their instruments…together… kind of! It was pretty remarkable 🙂
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A Seaside High/Phillips’ Candies reunion at Casa del Matador. It’s only been…13 years?? Sometimes time flies and yet, nothing changes in the best way possible. Come visit me, all of you!
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Surprised Cop Grandpa, check! Baxter liking (and licking) Deontay, check!

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Deontay and Olivia bonding over skateboards and Baxter.

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Eating at The Stand with Chuck and Diane…priceless 🙂

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Happy to be skating the streets and Promenade of Seaside.

And a stop in Aurora to see Gramma C....
And a stop in Aurora to see Gramma C….
...and Uncle Mike. Deontay is smiling for the both of them--ha!
…and Uncle Mike. Deontay is smiling for the both of them–ha!

And look at these gems I found around Gramma’s house:

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One final stroll on the bluff and some peaceful moments on the bench.
One final stroll on the bluff and some peaceful moments on the bench.

Oregon was filled with goodness~taking wonderful yoga classes in Bend and Seaside (thank you, Kris!), getting the opportunity to teach yoga classes again in both Bend and Seaside (huge thank you to Fitness 1440 S. Bend and Sunset Family Fitness!!), family time, catching up with old friends, making time to read and write and plan the next adventure!

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Leaving on a jet plane. It’s bittersweet. Leaving a happy place…for another happy place. And new adventures!
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First stop, Los Angeles!

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  –Gloria Steinem

 

Filled To The Brim

My process for “making coffee” in the morning:

1) open the cupboard and choose a mug.

It’s rarely the first one I see in the front row.  I scan the whole shelf and then picture which one will perfectly fit these Whisler hands (don’t make me repeat myself–I can palm a basketball).  Color is a big factor as well.  Sometimes, I go bold and choose red.  Every once in a while, it’s a white one–no statement, just simple and straight forward.  One of my favorite colors though, is this blue mug.  If I had to name it, it would be Midnight Blue–it’s dark and calming, yet not all the way black.  But the shape of it is tall and slender.  I don’t drink my coffee fast.  It usually gets cold before I finish it anyway, so I like to keep the size of the mug…reasonable, concise.

I remember my days at Dooger’s in Seaside and Cindy Olson telling me the reason she started drinking coffee in the first place.  It wasn’t the taste of it, that’s for sure.  She liked having the hot cup in her hands to help stay warm in the cold winters.  I get that now!

2) adjust the Keurig for appropriate cup size.  Normally, I choose the second largest setting.  It works well for most of the coffee mug options in the cupboard.  And after brewing, there’s room at the top for a splash of cold tap water, so I can start sipping it right away.  Isn’t it such a tease when you have coffee waiting for you, but it’s too hot to do anything??

But today was different.  I felt daring and took a chance.

I started by choosing a mug that was smaller than normal, but I loved the shape of it.  It’s slightly concave so your hands can sink into it.  And, like I said, it was borderline small.  But the kicker was the color: a warm green–not too army, not too Kelly.  Perfect for this time of year.  THIS was my Tuesday, January 13, 2015 coffee mug.  Final answer.

Step two, which setting?  Will second-from-the-right be too much and overflow?  Just like I learned this past year in 2014 travels: we do NOT waste alcohol.  I feel the same about coffee.  It’s not something to carelessly discard.  But will the third-from-the-right setting be to little?  A cup 1/2 full is simply not enough.  Although it would be stronger, you need the majority of the cup to be full to warm your hands.

I stayed with my original setting.  I knew it’d be a close, but I was willing to take the chance of overflowing.  As I pressed the “brew” button (hence the quotations around “making coffee”), I watched in curiosity and with optimism how full this morning cup o’ Joe would be.

Filled to the brim!  It worked out…perfectly.  No waste.  No room for a splash of tap water either.  But, as it turned out (ahem, perfectly!), I didn’t need the extra cooling anyway.  My hands were happy and warm.  And I was headed back to bed to sip my coffee.  Heaven on Earth.

Today is my day with no schedule.  No rush or time constraints.  Sit, sip, reflect, be.  And what I truly feel inspired to do, I’ll do.

As I reflect on these pictures from the past few months, I too, am filled up!  Spending the holidays with family and carving out major down time have been exactly what I needed.

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." --Andre Gide
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” –Andre Gide
I didn't even know this was a "thing". Famous PDX carpet? But I do know that sandals in Oregon at Thanksgiving is NOT a thing. They have been packed away for almost two months now.
I didn’t even know this was a “thing”. Famous PDX carpet? But I do know that sandals in Oregon at Thanksgiving is NOT a thing. They have been packed away for almost two months now.
A change of scenery does wonders for the soul.
A change of scenery does wonders for the soul.
My religious breakfast: Greek yogurt, granola and raspberries. This coffee mug was also chosen after much thought. I've never been to Chile, but it was a gesture of love for my S. American travels.
My religious breakfast: Greek yogurt, granola and raspberries. This coffee mug was also chosen after much thought. I’ve never been to Chile, but it was a gesture of love for my S. American travels.
Karla and Kim in the kitchen. Prepare to feast!       Thanksgiving 2014
Karla and Kim in the kitchen. Prepare to feast! Thanksgiving 2014
Steve working on his signature clams. A must!
The perfectly browned turkey. Steve was right when he said, “I’ve got this!”.
Made with love.
Made with love.
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We ate, we drank, we watched Elf. Complete!
Family football time! The Beavs never showed up for the Civil War, so we watched Auburn instead.
From Camas to St. Helens for Williams’ Family football time! The Beavers never showed up for the Civil War, so we watched Auburn instead.
And a stop in Beaverton to see the Whislers. Did I mention it was freezing cold? Down jacket, blanket and Owen sitting on my feet to keep warm. Watching Frozen. Ha!
And a stop in Beaverton to see the Whislers. Did I mention it was freezing cold? Down jacket, blanket and Owen sitting on my feet to keep warm. Watching Frozen. Ha!
A trip back to Utah to honor Nate's angel mother.
A trip back to Utah to honor Nate’s Angel Mother–Diane.
Mountains are becoming a favorite of mine. Who would of thought...
Mountains are becoming a favorite of mine. Who would of thought…
Back to Beaverton and an impromptu family stroll, which turned into my brother leading us on a 90 minute power walk.
Back to Beaverton and an impromptu family stroll, which turned into my brother leading us on a 90 minute power walk.
Gramma and Ayden did better keeping up.
Gramma and Ayden did better keeping up.
Owen hung back with me. Such a sweetie.
Owen hung back with me. Such a sweetie.
A white Christmas Eve!
A White Christmas Eve!
A warm, beach girl at heart...snow in Winter is still a must.
A warm, beach girl at heart…snow in Winter is still a must.
When you're so tired your eyes sting. That was me on Christmas. But playing Santa's helper the night before was fun.
When you’re so tired your eyes sting. That was me on Christmas. But playing Santa’s helper the night before was fun.
Cozy Christmas
Cozy Christmas 2014
Picture perfect. Bend, OR
Picture perfect. Bend, OR
What's better than a snowy winter time? Heading to a heated yoga class. Namaspa yoga studio has been my "home" for the past month. It's amazing! I'm a new Baptiste yoga fan.
What’s better than a snowy winter time? Heading to a heated yoga class. Namaspa yoga studio has been my “home” for the past month. It’s amazing! I’m a new Baptiste yoga fan.
The Whislers made the treck to Bend and Ayden brightened my morning with this flattering drawing! He's too cute to be mad at him...
The Whislers made the treck to Bend and Ayden brightened my morning with this flattering drawing! He’s too cute to be mad at him…
Sledding is a must!
Sledding is a must!
Fun!
Fun!
Tons of nephew time is time well spent. Deontay rockin' his red hair just like Auntie Lindsay!
Tons of nephew time is time well spent. Deontay rockin’ his red hair just like Auntie Lindsay!
Giving Dad a push!
Giving Dad a push!
Best buds. Tay and Gramma at Old Mill.
Best buds. Tay and Gramma at Old Mill. “Gramma, I just wish you’d learn how to skateboard.”
Still holds Gramma's hand <3
Still holds Gramma’s hand ❤
Seems like yesterday that Nate, Deontay and I were floating this river in swim suits. Time flies whether you're having fun or not. Might as well make it fun, huh?!
Seems like yesterday that Nate, Deontay and I were floating this river in swim suits. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. Might as well make life fun, huh?!..

“Life happens while you’re making other plans…” (Brandon and Leah–“Life Happens” single, if you need a catchy and uplifting song) so learning to “enjoy the spaces in between” is key to a happy, fulfilling life (Suzie at Namaspa Yoga Studio).  I couldn’t agree more!

Palm trees and sunshine are in my near future…and I’m thrilled!  But, I’m going to soak up one more month of space in between–more family and friends to catch up with and a coastline that seems to have my heart, no matter how cold and wet it can be.

I feel perfectly filled…to the brim.  Cheers to 2015!!!

(Part II) Family in Utah!

Ohhhh…looking over these pictures makes me smile.  I think that’s the whole point of capturing moments with photographs–so you can relive those special times as much as you’d like.  I’m pleasantly surprised at how many pictures we have of our time in Utah.

For about two weeks I was able to truly relax and take in the mountain scenery.  I met most of Nate’s family (the amount of Younkers rivals the size of my blended family–that’s a lot of people!).  And the amazing home-cooked food shall be highly noted.  Ok, and the heat, too.  It was HOT in mid-July

This morning in Los Angeles, it was finally cold enough (talking 52 degrees in the a.m.), that I actually wanted to stay nestled under the covers to keep warm.  Looking at these Utah pictures, I swear I can still feel hints of that 95 degree heat.  So, I’m welcoming this crisp, cool SoCal weather.

Our first evening in North Logan.  Views to the east and south…

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There was a BIG rock pile to be cleaned and used in the landscaping.  We earned those delicious home-cooked meals (Nate did anyway…someone had to take pics:) !

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Mountain sunsets…

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Mornings were usually spent enjoying the backyard…

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(like I said, Nate did most of the manual labor between the two of us)

We went for hikes with Nate’s dad Gordon.  He’s the best tour guide to have in these parts…

IMG_5073 2014-07-13 20.10.40 IMG_5076 2014-07-13 21.22.15

(AND both Nate and Gordon found ticks on themselves after this hike!  This one was already burrowing into Gordon’s leg. Enough hiking for me!)

We relaxed by the pool…

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(I can’t resist the sleeping pics–you know that, Mandi)

Roasted s’mores in the backyard on many nights.  Bonfires are my favorite!

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Took a day trip to SLC (even hotter there–pushing 100 degrees)…

2014-07-15 10.21.00 IMG_5085

We took another day trip, this time to Bear Lake.  My pictures don’t do it justice because I guess I don’t have any close ups of the lake itself, but it was a vibrant, clear, turquoise color that reminded me of Punta Cana and even Cancun!  To help you imagine the bright color of the lake, here’s Nate in the brightest outfit possible, ready for some fun in the sun:

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(Father/son four-wheelin’)

And we patiently awaited the arrival of this little guy!  Nate’s nephew Louis (look at those cheeks!):

2014-07-22 14.32.34 2014-07-22 15.19.02

Uncle Nate is so fun!

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Louis’ dad (Nate’s oldest brother) Jarod…all the boys cooling off in the shade.

IMG_5152 IMG_5162 IMG_5158 IMG_5180

IMG_5256 IMG_5259

Family gatherings and food!  Both so good.

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Gordon coordinated morning yoga classes and they came willingly!

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And I will never forget the tour of Grandpa Don’s museum.  In his basement he has war memorabilia, (dead) animals and a plethora of stories!

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(Silver Beaver Award is the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America)

Planning a quick browse of the museum and it turned into a lengthy and entertaining history lesson.  Arms crossed because I wasn’t about to touch any animal tails, soft or not.

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A few more pictures of working around the yard, the landscaping and a final North Logan sunset.

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It’s hard to sum up this trip, but I have to try.  When you’re welcomed with open arms and treated like family (in the best way possible), it makes for a really difficult good-bye.

So much love and warmth.  Thank you, Gordon and Diane.

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(Part 1) Family! And Another Pot of Coffee, Please

For how big our families are and for all the time we spent with them this summer, another pot of coffee to help me through this post isn’t asking much.  All joking aside, well, I’m not even joking…Nate gladly brewed another pot.

There is a lot to reflect on when spending time with family.  And I’m one who enjoys family time…when else can you truly relax and have home cooked food at your beck and call?  Family is second to none.  One truth behind not blogging for almost four months is probably my own pressure of perfection…wanting to portray how special the time was that we spent with both of our families.  But I suppose even if you don’t “get it” fully, these people and these moments are still going to be priceless to me.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that not blogging every specific moment is okay, too.  It’s alright to keep some moments for myself.  Overall, I do want to share and today is the perfect day for blogging (since I’ve already read two other people’s blogs and they are so touching EVERY time (Pamela and Jessica:)  Thank you for the inspiration.  So here’s a little bit of our time spent in Oregon (Utah in Part II)!

First stop, Bend:

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Hiking with my mom, Mister (aka, Deontay, Tay, Tay Bear) and Nate
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This duo. And Riley-Roo in tow!

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The last place I thought Guy would recommend for a barber shop would be a Ducks one. But oh well. Nate liked it AND they served complimentary beer.
The last place I thought Guy would recommend for a barber shop would be a Ducks one. But oh well. Nate liked it AND they served complimentary beer.
Heading to the rodeo and eating seaweed.
Heading to the rodeo and eating seaweed.
Deontay without his mom...but with Nate, so he was happy.
Deontay without his mom…but with Nate, so he was happy.
Guy and my mom bundled up for a cold night ahead.
Guy and my mom bundled up for a cold night ahead.
Watching World Cup soccer. Nate's enthusiasm about it was infectious and even had my mom asking when the next game would be:)
Watching World Cup soccer. Nate’s enthusiasm about it was infectious and even had my mom asking when the next game would be:)
Guy gave us a tour of North Rim Brewing and shared the perks with us. Excellent beer!
Guy gave us a tour of North Rim Brewing and shared the perks with us. Excellent beer!
Nate playing with my niece Olivia. We "adults" celebrated her 1st birthday for a weekend...
Nate playing with my niece Olivia. We “adults” celebrated her 1st birthday for a weekend…
It was Total Request...Bend (TRB)! Nate entertained my family in true fashion that night; with music, music videos and dancing.
It was Total Request…Bend (TRB)! Nate entertained my family in true fashion that night; with music, music videos and dancing.
Maybe one of those "you had to be there moments"?...folding up the Pack-n-Play. How many adults does it take...
Maybe one of those “you had to be there moments”?…folding up the Pack-n-Play. How many adults does it take…
Grampa guy with the birthday girl. So sweet.
Grampa guy with the birthday girl. So sweet.
The neighborhood kids...
The neighborhood kids…
...ages 5-32 (Nate, you're a good sport. They loved you. "Can I be on Nate's team?")
…ages 5-32 (Nate, you’re a good sport. They loved you. “Can I be on Nate’s team?”)
Meanwhile, the girls headed to the local Denfeld Miller Paint for an inspiring Feng Shui presentation.
Meanwhile, the girls headed to the local Denfeld Miller Paint for an inspiring Feng Shui presentation.
So inspiring that we put our new notes to use and "Feng Shui'd" my parents' house. Deontay helped, too ;)
So inspiring that we put our new notes to use and “Feng Shui’d” my parents’ house. Deontay helped, too 😉
Celebrating Guy's birthday, holding up the card Mister made him.
Celebrating Guy’s birthday, holding up the card Mister made him.
After leaving Bend, we made it to Corvallis to see the Starwalts. Payton couldn't wait to show us her new playground (and this outfit, her own creation:)!
After leaving Bend, we made it to Corvallis to see the Starwalts. Payton couldn’t wait to show us her new playground (and this outfit, her own creation:)!
And she let us borrow her room for the night. Pink and extra princess-y!
And she let us borrow her room for the night. Pink and extra princess-y!
We made our way to Portland and saw these sweet Whisler boys.
We made our way to Portland and saw these sweet Whisler boys.
We spent a week at the beach in Seaside and soaked up 80 degree weather.
We spent a week at the beach in Seaside and soaked up 80 degree weather.
It wouldn't be time well spent at the beach without Crab Fest. Thank you Karla and Steve!
It wouldn’t be time well spent at the beach without Crab Fest. Thank you Karla and Steve!
Shopping with Kar Kar and Kyrell in Cannon Beach. Nate's family happened to be in Oregon at the same time we visited. Gotta love synchronicity :)
Shopping with Kar Kar and Kyrell in Cannon Beach. Nate’s family happened to be in Oregon at the same time we visited. Gotta love synchronicity 🙂
These sunsets, oh how I missed them!
These sunsets, oh how I missed them!
Relaxing on the porch, drink in hand....contentment.
Relaxing on the porch, drink in hand….contentment.
And how about a ride on the Harley? Thanks, Dad!
And how about a ride on the Harley? Thanks, Dad!
The evenings did get cold.
The evenings did get cold.
But thoroughly enjoying this scenery.
But thoroughly enjoyed this scenery.
4th of July festivities! Our first time at the Gearhart parade.
4th of July festivities! Our first time at the Gearhart parade.
My brother Sammy in the parade <3
My brother Sammy in the parade ❤
Playing tourist. Phillips Candies in hand at the Turn-a-round.
Playing tourist. Phillips Candies in hand at the Turn-a-round.
The Stand. Need I say more?
The Stand. Need I say more?
And these girls!! Formerly Hawken, LaMarche and Arndt. Now Wunderlich, DeHaan and Johnson.
And these girls!! Formerly Hawken, LaMarche and Arndt. Now Wunderlich, DeHaan and Johnson but the same young faces from high school!
So many laughs.
So many laughs.

And that was that!  Our time in Oregon was up.  Believe it or not, there are more pictures.  And even some that I cannot find or wish I had.  But I’m setting perfect organization aside (or lack of it) and going with what I have to share:)  Four weeks in Oregon sounds like a lot, but there were many faces we didn’t get to see.  And those whom we did, I hope there’s more time in store in the future to spend together.  So grateful to have been back in my home state and so grateful to Nate for being SUCH a sport.

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PDX-SLC

Dun, dun, dun…off to meet Nate’s family! 🙂

Cancun, How Dare You!

We left Miami feeling good.  It was a short and sweet stopover.  I could have stayed a few more days, but heck, we were headed to Cancun!  We stocked up on sunscreen and aloe vera gel for another week of warm beaches and sunshine, yoga sessions and barefoot beach runs.  Let’s do this…right?!

And then God has his/her own plan.  The one, that when it doesn’t line up with your own, you just can’t believe it.  You’ve already pictured how your plan was going to play out and you really liked it!  Yes, the joke was on us!

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The scenery upon arrival: grey, windy and oh-so rainy!

The Marriott in Cancun was a lovely place.  I couldn’t believe the outside picture we were seeing.  It reminded me of a Pacific Northwest winter day–raining cats and dogs with high winds.  Two differences though: (1) I could see palm trees swaying in the wind and (2) it was still warm outside.  Ok, thank you!  Starting to ease back into gratefulness, we were going to once again, make the best of it.  I could handle a few rainy days–give my skin a break from the sun rays, catch up on my blog posts and maybe watch some movies.  New plan, not so bad!

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Nate cleaning our patio for our first yoga session in Cancun. Like I said, the weather was still warm!
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A few steps outside of our room and this was the view. Always scouting for more yoga spaces and running routes. The turquoise water was gorgeous.
We toured the pool area and it was so windy--couldn't help but laugh:)
We toured the pool area and it was so windy–couldn’t help but laugh:)
When we were sitting in the lobby catching up on social media, a really nice gal asked us if we wanted this unopened bag of Sun Chips. She was leaving for the airport and didn't have any room left. AND they were $10 in the gift shop. Of course we didn't want them to go to waste!
When we were sitting in the lobby catching up on social media, a really nice gal asked us if we wanted this unopened bag of Sun Chips. She was leaving for the airport and didn’t have any room left. AND they were $10 in the gift shop. Of course we didn’t want them to go to waste!

And you bet I helped eat those chips. They went perfectly with our morning coffee.

To our surprise (and disappointment), the hotel didn’t have a Mexican restaurant on site.  They had an American Sports Bar (really?!) and an Argentinian Steakhouse (REALLY?!).  Took me awhile to laugh about that, so in the meantime, we drove our spiffy rental car (I regret not having a picture of it! …think old, small–just enough room to transport our bags and ourselves from the airport to our hotel–and no power steering. Ha!).  We found a healthy and super tasty Mexican restaurant in town and we also found a Mega store to get our Greek yogurt and granola for our breakfasts.

After the fourth day of absolutely zero sunshine and feeling ourselves slowly slip into “seasonal depression”, we decided to take a two hour road trip south to Tulum.  A simple day trip to explore and renew our energy.  We were hopeful for sunshine (brought our swimsuits) and prepared for more rain (light jackets and hoodies).  And what do you know?  In Tulum we found Mayan ruins AND sunshine!

Lathering up on the sunscreen. Feeling happy and carefree!
Lathering up on the sunscreen. Feeling happy and carefree! (And dorky–we have to entertain ourselves, ya know?)
The start of our tour. I loved how green it was and I loved knowing we were about to embark on beautiful waters...
The start of our tour. I loved how green it was and I loved knowing we were about to embark on beautiful waters…
It was so hot, I instantly pulled my hair up and Nate got back to working on his tan.
It was so hot, I instantly pulled my hair up and Nate got back to working on his tan.

It didn’t take us long to find the coast line.  And oh was it stunning!!!

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The brightest turquoise water I’ve ever seen.
Just to prove we were there. #selfies
Just to prove we were there. #selfies
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Standing on the cliff, looking down to the water.
Dark clouds started to roll in.
Clouds started to roll in.
Everything is getting darker....
Everything is getting darker….
...and windier! Huge gust of wind.
…and windier! Huge gust of wind.

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This one just about says it all. Very little sunshine left--dark clouds taking over!
This one just about says it all. Very little sunshine left–dark clouds taking over!

After about 20 minutes of touring the ruins we found ourselves caught in a downpour.  We had left our swimsuits in the car, along with our jackets!

Soaking wet.
Soaking wet.
Taking cover under the trees. We were soaked to the bone in about two minutes!
Taking cover under the trees. We were soaked to the bone in about two minutes!

It was still fun because we weren’t cold.  In fact, on our 1/2 mile walk back to the restaurants and other tourists attractions, we dried out pretty well.  We found another Mexican restaurant (yay!), so we sat down for chips and salsa, refreshing drinks and televised professional beach volleyball.  Super content!

Since we didn’t get any beach time in Tulum, we agreed to stop in Playa del Carmen–another popular beach town.  It’s the perfect 1/2 way point heading back to Cancun.  There we found a nice beach, quite a few other tourists and even a Starbucks.  I just can’t keep him away from his Starbucks 😉

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Enjoying our Zen green teas.

We made it back to our hotel early that evening and somehow encouraged each other to do some yoga to end the day.  We were tired, but we’ve never regretted doing a little yoga.  So we did.  There was even a break in the weather in Cancun!  The next two days we enjoyed more exercise and some relaxing beach time.068 072 080 074

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Savasana (corpse pose) for final relaxation.
Mexico + Pacificos
Mexico + Pacificos
Journaling time.
Journaling time.
My journal matched the water. I liked that!
My journal matched the water. I liked that!

We ended up leaving Cancun a day early.  Not bitter, just excited to see familiar faces and to step foot again in the wonderful United States of America.  We had chalked up enough beach time and I got my fill of hotels to last me a looong time.  We figured we had a few more months of free time, so we could make the rounds to see the majority of our family and friends.

Next stop: Oregon!

My Favorite Country? Miami

“What’s your favorite country you visited?”  I always give my answer some thought because it seems that each new day, I could have a different answer.  We traveled many miles the past six months and our experiences from each country are still setting it.  But before I can answer, Nate likes to answer for me: Miami.  Yes, I loved Miami!  And yes, we both know it’s not a country…

After leaving the DR and arriving in Mexico, we made a 4 day stop in Miami.  Nate had been there before, but I had only spent a few hours in their airport earlier that month.  We both agreed it could be a great stopping point.  And it was!  We used Priceline to decide on a hotel for us in South Beach.  There were just too many choices and it felt good to have it decided for us.

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A view from Park Central Hotel
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Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean!
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Happy in our beach chairs and in my new sun hat (couldn’t resist the Free People store on Collins Ave!)

For our big Saturday night in Miami we decided to catch game 6 of the NBA playoffs: Heat vs. Pacers!  I think I even told Nate that I’d stay in a hostel again if we splurged on playoff tickets.  I regret saying that because I realized later he thought I was serious.  One day he’ll get all my jokes 😉

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The American Airline Arena at my fingertips.
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Instant Cole fans after getting these t-shirts! (Terry Porter will always be my favorite #30 for the record)
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We just KNEW the most exciting playoff game was about to take place….ha!
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We made our way into the arena, found a huge beer and great view of Miami before finding our seats.
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The Heat were supposed to play the Pacers that night. However, the Pacers forgot to show up. Still wondering who wore those gold jerseys…
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Exploring South Beach and found these tiny Grey Goose bottles.
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We enjoyed all the people watching, got in a few beach runs, found a few Sbux (always a nice bonus), watched the sun rise over the Atlantic, practiced yoga on the beach and on the roof top of Park Central. Thank you, Miami!

Next stop, Cancun, Mexico!