#KWCHALKPROJECT

***DISCLAIMER:  Before you read any further click play on the link below. You need some mood music to read this post!***

Ok, you may now proceed…

A few months ago I was casually scrolling through my Instagram feed and you know how these things go, one click leads to another, then another, and another… it’s never-ending.  Any who, SuperLoveTees, an account I follow had posted this pic and it caught my eye.  I also instantly fell in love with the hashtag #chalklovebomb.

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So I clicked on the Instagram user @ladysadye and found this amazing account of brightly colored sidewalk chalk inspirational masterpieces!

I have been looking for a way to be creative and inspiring at the same time so I decided to start my own chalk project here in the Southernmost City:  The #KWCHALKPROJECT

A few weeks ago I ordered myself some Crayola sidewalk chalk and decided to drop my first #chalklovebomb in Key West.  I’m addicted.  Having this creative outlet has been a great way for Skyy and I got get out into the community, walk the different neighborhoods and sprinkle good vibes along the way.  Lately as we’ve been listening to Oldies Party Radio on Pandora as we stroll the hoods; it makes people smile and has been resulting in spontaneous dance parties along the way (how can you not dance to Boogie Shoes?!)

Check out some of the sunshine I’ve been shoveling lately…

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IMG_0398My hospice patient (I’m a volunteer) told me I was going to get arrested for vandalism.  I told her I was going to drop a chalk love bomb on her doorstep 🙂  Happy Super Soul Sunday!  Cheers to channeling your inner five year old and tagging sidewalks.

 

I Survived One Week of Crossfit. Kinda.

No, you are not hallucinating. I wrote that. Me, the person who has a love affair with hamburger helper survived a week of crossfit. Kinda. The reason I’m saying kinda is because it was a week of learning, 3 days of “foundations” which is learning how to do some moves and only one actual WOD (work out of the day).

I already know what you’re thinking, great, now this wonderful blog that I love reading so much is going to turn into a blog about another personal crossfit quest/ obsession. Because lets be honest, the number one rule of crossfit is to tell everyone about crossfit.
Gene Wilder- Crossfit
Well, that’s certainly not my intention. But what I do want to talk about is vulnerability. What does vulnerability have to do with crossfit you ask? Well for me, everything.

First of all its nerve-wracking as shit to walk into a gym in the first place. Let alone a crossfit gym where people throw around Olympic weighted barbells like its no big deal. Think trying to find where you are going to sit in the cafeteria on the first day of school nerve-wracking.
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But I did it! Well actually we did it. I’m not in this alone, my girlfriends Edee and Kristin joined with me. Which brings me to another tip: I highly recommend joining with a friend or two. Not only does it give you a built in cheerleader but it takes the edge off knowing you have at least one other person who doesn’t know what the fuck they are doing.
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Here are some of the actual questions and thoughts that came through my mind this week:

Hang Power What? How much does that dumbbell weigh? What in the hell is a Turkish Get Up? How am I sweating this profusely and we haven’t even gotten out of the warm up yet. I have to touch my knees to what? My elbows? Haha, good one. I wish my butt looked that good. I want my butt to look that good. God, that Dion’s fried chicken smells good.

Britney Spears Fried Chicken

Preach Britney. #preach

It was a week of craziness and I’m out of my comfort zone. I woke up craving fruit for breakfast, which never happens (I’m more of a country fried steak and grits kind of girl) and even managed to sneak in a salad or two for lunch. I don’t consider myself an athlete. I mean yeah, I played sports in high school but even then it was still more for the social scene than the scholarship possibilities. I had no idea if I would be able to finish a day of workouts let alone a week but I did.

Monday we learned some weight lifting moves. Tuesday we learned squats; some with weight, some without. Wednesday I was so sore that I had to hold onto the sink to lower myself onto the toilet in the morning but I made it to the gym that afternoon to finish up my last day of foundations and Friday I did my first official WOD.

Hang Power Clean

How I think I looked…

Ermaged Crossfit

How I actually looked…

One of my new years resolutions was to work on vulnerability.  That’s a large order to fill because I HATE feeling vulnerable.  There’s an amazing author and teacher named Brené Brown who has made a living exploring vulnerability and how it impacts one’s life.  One of my favorite quotes of her book Daring Greatly is “sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”  And I just have to say I’m proud of myself and my girls for showing up this week.´

Show Up Brene Brown

 

Happy Super Soul Sunday!  Cheers!

Compliment 911!

Take 3 minutes and 28 seconds to watch this video, it will make you smile, and, if you are anything like me, probably cry (but a happy cry, not a sad cry):

Happy #SuperSoulSunday!  Sundays are my absolute favorite day of the week so I thought that I’d share with you one of my absolute FAVORITE websites, Soul Pancake.

The creators describe Soul Pancake as “Our brain batter of art, culture, science, philosophy, spirituality and humor is designed to open your mind, challenge your friends, and feel damn good.”  To me, Soul Pancake is many things, including my daily source of inspiration.  I peruse the site daily and love the “feel good feeling” that it evokes within me.

Today my inspiration comes from one of the activities featured on Soul Pancake called Compliment 911!  The instructions were simple:

Soul Pancake Activity #92:  Compliment 911!

Step 1: Jot down a time you needed a compliment.
Step 2: Give yourself a compliment.
Step 3: Write down a compliment for someone else.
Step 4: Go fishing in the comments section for compliments 🙂

So naturally I did just that.  Here’s my response:

1.  Tuesdays.
2.  You make me smile and inspire.
3.  Thank you for being born, you make my world a better place.
4.  Gone Fishing!  (My favorite compliment I found was:  you are a great loving heart and sparkling snow and burning sun and a shade of a shed and you are your favourite Radiohead song and an overwhelming pool of cute little things)

Also while on SoulPancake this morning I stumbled, as I often do, upon the cutest website, Emergency Compliment.  It was the inspiration for the activity above and for my post today:

Dance

Compliment I received today courtesy of Emergency Compliment. Love!

You see there are two parts to a compliment.  Part 1 is giving compliment; part 2 is accepting the compliment.  So often we have trouble accepting compliments given to us by others and I don’t understand why. All it takes is a good old fashion ‘thank you’.   In hopes of starting a domino effect of compliment accepting I’ll start with accepting the compliment above (duh!); THANK YOU!

The bottom line is that compliments are good karma.  They make other people feel good about themselves and bring a smile to your face because you are making someone else happy.  Imagine if we could harness the power of compliments… talk about clean, renewable energy!

 

Everyone Needs A Hero, Let It Be You

DISCLAIMER:  I’ve had anxiety over writing this post since I started this blog because I knew I wanted to write about my sister Ashlee this week but wasn’t sure if I could ever find the words to do our relationship justice.  This one’s for you piglet…

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he·ro

noun
: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
: a person who is greatly admired

The first time I ever remember processing the word hero in my head was back in the early 90’s when Mariah Carey was belting it out on every radio station.  I remember my mom and aunts crying (imagine that, we are a bunch of emotional chicks that’s for sure), listening to the tape on repeat in their vans.  That’s when I realized that the word hero had some clout.  Isn’t it ironic?  My mom and her sisters were belting out the words “there’s a herooooo, if you look inside your heart…” and here I am suddenly realizing that my two “little” sisters are more than my friends, they are my heroes.

Being a big sister is like being a super hero, only better.  It’s a job that comes with serious responsibilities often times at such a young age.   As an older sister you are teaching your siblings, whether you realize it or not, the kind of person they want to be.  They are either going to want to emulate your every move or if you are a dick to them growing up they are going to want to become the exact opposite of you.  If you are lucky, you’ll fall somewhere in the middle like I did.

Sisters can be annoying; mine will tell you that I wasn’t always the nicest or most patient sister on the block, but they know I loved them and when push comes to shove, I always have their back.  It’s natural to look up to people older than you, me, not having an older sister to look up to found a good substitute in my babysitters (shout outs to my cousin Allison, Kim & Kristin, and Ms. Sherri).

Once I went to college my relationships with my sisters changed, they started to mature and were no longer based on who had the best beanie baby collection but on who was better at flip cup and when they could visit me at college.  After I graduated we grew even closer and before I knew it those sneaky chicks had become my best friends.

One afternoon in July 2012 I was working some “overtime” for a project at work and got a phone call from my sister Ashlee.  She was crying and told me that she had been diagnosed with ocular melanoma.  I remember telling her that everything would be ok and she shouldn’t worry because everything will work out, she’ll talk to a doctor, give her a plan of attack and she’ll beat it.  Simple as that.

I was wrong.  I’ll spare you the details but essentially it was 11 months of pain and suffering and I lost my sister to cancer on June 5, 2013; 3 days after her 23rd birthday. When I was growing up (and I mean until I was 28) I was invincible and the world was my oyster.  My whole life I had been told that I could have whatever I want if I work hard enough for it.  Being an optimist I honestly never thought she would die.  I thought we would get a miracle and one day Ashlee would start to feel better.  Let me tell you, nothing gives you a reality check like losing your little sister to cancer, or to anything for that matter. There was no amount of money I could raise or number of care packages I could send that would make this better.  It was the first time in my entire life that the circumstances were out of my control and it was the worst feeling in the world.

I wallowed for a few months in my grief, not sure where my path would lead me.  All of my future plans and memories I was counting on in my future included Ashlee in them. After a few months of throwing myself pity parties (which were totally justified) I started to change my tune a little bit when I remembered a text message that I received from Ashlee a few months before:

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I made myself a promise that I would work the rest of my life to personify that text.  To become an inspiration, a better role model, better best friend, and better sister.  I knew that if I were able to personify those words I would become a better person and positive influence in other people’s lives, which was motivation enough for me!

You’ve heard me say it before; I believe that everything happens for a reason but I’m still searching for the reason that God chose to take my sister Ashlee away from the world so soon.  She had so much to offer and was right on the cusp the Phoenix Process which my favorite guru Elizabeth Lesser describes as “our lives ask[ing] us to die and to be reborn every time we confront change—[to] change within our self and change in our world.”

So in her honor, I picked up where Ashlee left off.  Lesser says, “When we descend all the way down to the bottom of a loss, and dwell patiently, with an open heart, in the darkness and pain, we can bring back up with us the sweetness of life and the exhilaration of inner growth. When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self—the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey.”

According to Rick Warren, God doesn’t waste a hurt.  The question you have to ask yourself is “what will you do with what you’ve been through?  Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”  Whoa, what a concept, my pain could help people?  No way.

I’ve always been independent but finding happiness in the gravity of that loss changed my life.  It made me whole first the first time in my life (although until then I never realized I was broken) and I finally realized what Novelist Aldous Huxley meant when he said, “Experience is not what happens to you.  It is what you do with what happens to you.”

I choose to respond by being happy.  By seeing the good in people.  By practicing random acts of kindness.  By keeping in touch with the people that mean the most to me and FaceTiming them over calling them whenever possible.  By living deeper in the moment so that my memories are brighter than any picture I could ever take with my iPhone. By remaining open and a shoulder to cry on for others.  By shoveling sunshine all over the world.

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Super Soul Sunday

SSS

Growing up my mom taught us that Sundays are for re-grouping; and in my house re-grouping is defined as getting your life together and preparing for the week ahead.  I can’t think of a better way to get my life together or prepare for the week ahead than to work on my soul.

I love a good weekend, although like everyone else, my idea of a “good weekend” has evolved over the years.  These days my Sundays are usually filled with deep cleaning my 200-square-foot apartment, spending time with my pup Skyy, and watching Super Soul Sunday* It wasn’t always that way however, in the words of my mama Kath, I’m a work in progress [cupid shuffling through life].

My life shifted on October 11th 2013, the day before my cousin Hillary’s wedding.  I was walking Skyy on our normal route through Old Town and feeling sorry for myself.  Still drowning in grief from losing my sister earlier that summer to cancer, I found myself thinking about all the things that had gone wrong over the last year.  I was so overwhelmed, exhausted, and sad.  I mean, 29 was supposed to be my year.  My theory was that if you ever ask a woman how old she is they always reply 29; so something good must be happening in that last year of your 20’s or women would pick a different year.  So there I was, 10 months into the year 2013, thinking about how the shitty column was going to to take the lead on my yearly outcome tally.  Then I had an “aha moment”.

Grinnell & Angel Streets, my favorite intersection in Key West and where I had my "aha moment".

Grinnell & Angel Streets, my favorite intersection in Key West and where I had my “aha moment”.

I realized that just because a few months of my 29th year sucked (I mean reeeeeeeeally sucked) didn’t mean the rest of my year, or life for that matter, had to. The other thing that the next day, October 12th, would not only be my cousins wedding day and future anniversary date but also the first day of the second half of my 29th year (if you haven’t figured it out yet, my birthday is April 12th).  A few things happened when Skyy and I got back from that walk:

  1. I promised myself that I would change my life the next day, October 12th starting at 12:00am.
  2. I cried.
  3. Skyy and I had Hamburger Helper for dinner in bed (this is not uncommon).

So on October 12th I made the conscious decision to be happy and got to work on myself.  I started reading, writing, and living. I started to realize that I am a part of something greater.  A little over two weeks later on October 31st I wrote in my journal just three sentences, “I’m grateful for Key West.  I’m getting it.  I’m feeling so many aha moments its crazy”.  And that’s the truth.  I realized that just because happiness wasn’t showing up in my life the same ways it had before it was still there, and I began to find happiness and strength in routine and nature.  I started to take everything in because the realness and the closeness of the death of my sister made me realize that nothing is forever or for sure and not to take a single moment for granted.  I finally got it.

How To Be Happy

By nature, human existence is trials and disappointment, the trick is to find joy on the other side.  Elizabeth Lesser, author and one of my favorite spiritual teachers, says that “God does not waste a hurt.  Usually when you come out on the other side of pain, grief, and hardship there is something wonderful waiting for you.”

Crazy things happen when you start to focus on yourself and even deeper, on your soul.  I started taking my dog on longer, more frequent walks, and appreciating the simple things in life like a good cup of coffee and a smile and hello from a stranger. Most importantly, I became genuinely happy and lighthearted.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t walk around for 29.5 years scowling and mad at the world; it just took me that long to start living in the moment instead of worrying about everything that was to come.  Words to the wise: “Worrying is like a rocking chair, you can do it all day and it won’t get you anywhere”.

 

*Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is hands down my favorite show on television and become a tool I use to help re-center myself.  If you haven’t tuned in yet, #getwiththegets.  She’s introducing spiritual leaders and topics to the masses and taking the digital world by storm. Recently voted the #1 Inspirational Channel on cable television and if you don’t get her cable channel OWN you can now tune in live on her website, Oprah.com.