Some people have asked me, "What's the deal with the red "X" hand pics?" Well, it's my way of supporting the #EndItMovement, and it's attempt to shine a light on modern slavery, which affects more than 27 million human beings around the world.
How can you help?
Mark your hand with a red "X", take a photo and share it on social media to join the #EndItMovement.
Understand that modern slavery doesn't just happen in other countries - it happens right here in the United States as well. Human trafficking campaigns often target runaways and other vulnerable children for prostitution and sexual slavery. Even if you don't have time or money, don't hesitate to call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you see something suspicious in your town or city.
And finally, be a conscientious consumer. Slavery around the world often includes forced laborers, who make everything from electronics to clothing to chocolate. Visit the Free2Work website, which grades major brands on their ethical supply chain practices on an A-F scale, to learn more.
Don't wait to get involved. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
I started February out with a whirlwind trip home to South Carolina for my dad's birthday. I flew out on a Thursday night and flew home Tuesday morning. Needless to say, I was extremely tired when it was all said and done! But however jet-lagged and exhausted I might've been, the four days I got to spend with my dad was worth it.
My dad's birthday happened to fall on the same day as the Super Bowl, and I was quite delighted to see the Seattle Seahawks kick the Denver Broncos' butts. I think my dad would've preferred the game to go the other way, but I think his Bi-Lo Banana Birthday Cake at Half Time kept him from being too sad about it. We had an amazing time and I got to see several family members and friends, which was cool.
Fortunately, my quick trip to the East Coast just missed the wintry storms that have blustered through that part of the country this year. It is quite a rarity for South Carolina to see an ice storm, much less snow, and they got both just before I arrived. Then, a few weeks after I returned home to Washington, the snow came our way.
Growing up in South Carolina below sea level could've never prepared me for snow like we had this past weekend. First came the ice, then the snow and then more ice. This morning I drove to work in it, and I have never been more grateful for four wheel drive than I am right this minute. I might have never learned how to drive in snow in South Carolina, but my parents were great driving instructors and I did just fine. I'll still take the Washington snow any day over the South Carolina humidity.
Once thing I have learned about myself after living in Washington for almost 4 years is that I love the snow. I love how quiet the world gets when it is blanketed in white powder; it is so peaceful that it settles my bones in a way that I've only felt before while at the beach. I never imagined before I moved to Washington that any place could ever ease my soul the way the beach did, but now I know that's not true.
So, I welcome the snow - even if I have to drive in it - and winter with a smile and a warm cup of coffee.
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day
of the year" I do not grieve for the passing of 2013 - I am thankful for it. Don't get me wrong, 2013 was a fine year. I accomplished goals I wanted to accomplish, and I ended the year on a high note. I'm just excited about all the possibilities that lie before me in 2014. I don't really make resolutions anymore. I set goals. For whatever reason, my brain finds it easier to accomplish a goal than to complete a resolution. Maybe it's just wordplay, but my brain doesn't do resolutions unless we're talking images. At any rate, I'm proud of the goals I met or exceeded in 2013. One of my biggest goals last year was to buy myself a car. Four days into 2013 I did just that. I bought a Hyundai Tucson, which is perfect for the sometimes-snowy weather in the Pacific Northwest. It was the first time I picked a car out all by myself, so that was really cool. Another big goal was to finish writing my second book, which I managed to do just a few months into the year. Now I am working on a new book project that is unlike my other books, and I'm really excited about where it's going. For 2014, here are some of the goals I have set for myself:
Be healthier by the end of 2014. Whether that means eating better, eating fast food less, choosing organic, exercising more - so be it. I don't just want to lose weight. I don't just want to be off of Diabetic medication. I want to be healthier all the way around.
Finish two book projects
Visit my dad in South Carolina
Write more poetry - even if it is just one poem, it's something I love and want to do more often
Continue to grow at Barlean's
Be the best possible version of myself every day
I can't wait for what 2014 has in store. I hope I am as fulfilled at the end of this year as I was last year. I wish you all the best in the coming months, and may you achieve all you set out to in 2014.
Since 2009, the holiday season has been a challenge for me. Regardless of my mother's Cancer diagnosis, I was not prepared for her death and especially verklempt when it came to living life without her. Christmas was my mother's most favorite holiday, and heading into December always leaves a bit of a knot in my throat.
In many ways, the 2013 holiday season has proven no different. However, there are a couple of ways that I am choosing something different this year. First, I am choosing to honor my mother by giving to others. I don't just mean physical gifts, but also the gifts that have no price - listening to, comforting, cheering on, forgiving, supporting and loving others. I'm not a woman of financial means, but I do have endless emotional means to offer.
A second way I am dealing with this holiday season differently this year is that I am mindful of every day and the new opportunities I am presented with. This is an outlook I hope to continue in 2014. I know every day is not necessarily going to be a rock star kind of day, but it can definitely be fun. Tragedy and loss happen, but the world does not stop turning. I feel sad and lost at times without my mother, but that's normal.
Life goes on and it goes on how we choose. So this year, in honor of my mother, I choose joy.
Happy holidays, everyone! I hope that no matter what your faith or belief is that this most wonderful time of year is truly that for you - wonderful and full of joy.
As the leaves change and are lifted gently from the trees, I find myself facing challenges I am not ready for or equipped to handle. Last month I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2, and it has shaken me to the core. I am only 34 years old and the choices I've made combined with my genetics have led me to this strange place where I am a prisoner of my body every day. I am left asking, "Where do I go from here?"
As I watch the green of summer burst into the flames of fall, I wonder if the tree knows winter is coming? I wonder if it fears the dying of the leaves? Are the changes that are forced upon us the most productive in the end? I hope so.
The turning of summer into fall has been quite spectacular this year. I suppose that is because I have actually been out more, exploring the world around me. I have traveled quite a bit these last couple of weeks. I've been as far southwest as La Push and Forks, Washington and as far north as Squamish, Canada. The roads have been lined with ever-changing trees, like a perfect autumnal painting. It has been breathtaking to see. And a nice distraction from my health issues.
It is the season of change. How fitting; how so very frightening.
Life since my last post has been interesting. I turned another year older, reconnected with some old friends and started something called the Whole30 Challenge. The Whole30 Challenge is 30 days of eating only meat, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. No dairy, no sugar, no legumes, and no grains. I'm 13 days in and it's been a beast.
The good news is I've lost 13 pounds on it and I've discovered a lot about myself. I knew I was an emotional eater before, but living through my emotions without the carb crutch has been an enlightening experience. It has also been overwhelming, exhausting and one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm committed to it and the lessons it is teaching me, so that's something.
My birthday was awesome and I am loving thirty-four. I'm excited for what the year is going to bring, and look forward to it. I got a Nook for my birthday, which is every shade of amaze-balls I can think of. I used to hate the idea of an e-reader, but then I realize how much less expensive Nook books are as well as how much less space those suckers take up. I gathered up about half of my paperbacks and donated them to the local library. It was hard to let go, but it was a good thing to do. I feel a little more up-to-date on my reading now that it's so easy to buy the books I want right from my device, so that's cool. I have such a long list of books to read right now - it's crazy!
I bought an incredible new sectional couch from a friend and it looks so grown up in my apartment. It's off-white microfiber and super comfy. The animals and I love it. Speaking of animals, the cats are doing great and I am more and more in love every day with my Fisher cat. She's just so much fun and sweetness, I adore her.
Work is one of my favorite places to spend forty hours a week. I have the most spectacular group of people around me every day, and it's easy to wake up at 5:30am to start my day thanks to them and the place I actually work (Barlean's Organic Oils). Today was our 1st Annual Picnic for my department and it was at our owner's house. He has one of the most beautiful homes I've ever seen and a fantastic pool setup. I got sunburned (of course), but it was one of the best days I've had in a long time.
I'm still plugging away at the writing projects. My beta readers are totally loving what I've given them so far, so that's encouraging. I'm also steadily documenting my weight loss journey through my website, Chasing Botticelli, and that's been going really well - especially with the Whole30 challenge. It gives me a place to explore why I eat, what I eat and to dissect it so that this time isn't like all the others, and the changes I make are for the right reasons. This is the first time I've ever done the weight loss thing for myself, and that truly has made the biggest difference. I'm glad I've finally found my path - my only regret is that I didn't find it sooner.
And the last bit of news from my oh-so-exciting life right now is that I am going to be an auntie for the third time and I totally can't wait! Every life my brother and sister-in-law bring into the world makes me want to be a better person, and I love that they are adding another little one to their growing family.
So, that's me for now. Next month, life will get busy again and the summer will start to wane. It's been so sunny and warm this year that I found myself not missing South Carolina as much. In fact, I discovered that I really love Washington. It's 3 years later and moving here is still one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I will turn 34 years old on Friday, July 19th at 9:41pm. I am actually stoked about turning another year older and cannot wait to celebrate the occasion. I love birthdays - not just my own, but other peoples' too. It is the day we are born into this world with nothing but endless possibility awaiting us.
I have never dreaded getting older. Maybe it is because I feel like I just keep getting better the more I learn and experience. I have never seen getting older as a trade-off to having let go of our childhood. I take the magic of my youth with me on my journey to old age. In fact, I relish in it.
I live my life with the hope that I will always find magic around me. I love all things magical and fantastical; thus, I still believe in 398.2. For those of you who are not book nerds or library lovers, 398.2 is the non-fiction section where you can find fairy tales, myths and folklore. For me, it is where the magic lives and I invite you to come check it out.
Visit your local library and see what 398.2 is all about. No matter how old I get - 34, 64 or 94 - I will still believe in 398.2.