My first thought of turning 36 this month is my new description. You know, if I ever went missing or committed a crime. Female, white... mid to late thirties.
Mid to late 30s.
Honestly, most days I still feel like I am 21. These numbers really don't hold the weight I thought they would. I still laugh, sing, have adventures and enjoy life.
In honor of the big 36, here are 36 things I have learned over my 36 years of life.. my little life tips...
1. There will never ever be an electronic device capable of giving the pure joy of reading a real paper book.
2. I never thought I would like being a mother, but it's actually pretty awesome.
3. Naps are amazing.
4. Happiness is a choice. And sometimes you really have to fight for it. Like really fight. But it's worth it. Life is too short to be content in sadness.
5. Your definition of love will change throughout the years. I used to think things always had to feel new and exciting... that they would be easy. But it's about learning to give and understanding it will always need an honest effort, open heart, and time. Be with someone you truly enjoy just being around.
6. Blood isn't the only requirement for families and stable bonds. It's not a requirement at all. Some of the most important people in our lives won't be blood family. And some of our blood family will let us down the most.
7. Don't waste your time stressing out over what other people think of you. They have the right to these opinions and it's not your job to change their minds. You know your worth and value as a person.
8. You're never too old to keep dreaming, using your imagination, and telling stories. Magic and pretend isn't just for our child years.
9. Cooking at home is actually pretty awesome. Eating out is great, but creating a meal, especially for someone else is so rewarding. And it's fun to learn new recipes and techniques.
10. You need hobbies and things for yourself. Let them be as simple as playing video games or as complex as building delicate models. If it gives you happiness, go for it. Everyone needs a break from the real world.
11. Be grateful, practice gratitude. Sprinkle more kindness in the world than their is sand on a beach.
12. Having a personal relationship with nature and the universe is life changing. There is a certain comfort in knowing everything is connected and that we were all once stars. Simple reflection sitting on a beach, or watching the moon. It's wonderful.
13. Accumulating memories and experiences are far more important than possessions. When it's our last days on this Earth, we won't be thinking about our $1000 cellphones. We will be thinking about our friends, family, and that last sunset.
14. Spend time in silence. Learn about Meditation. Time alone in your own mind is priceless.
15. Our company affects us. It shifts and molds who we are. And I am not just speaking as an empath, I believe this applies to everyone. Surround yourself with good people who put out good vibes. The others will eat at you and eventually become a burden on your mental health.
16. Let the people you love and care about know that you do... and as often as you can. You really don't know what will happen. Life is so short.
17. When people tell you that you've changed, you're weird, or you're not who you used to be. Take it as a compliment. Even if it wasn't intended that way. We as humans should always be changing. Growing, learning new things, new perspectives, and opinions. Change and growth is a good thing. Be wary of those who aren't able to change, adapt, and grow.
18. Let others have their views and opinions. Remember that as long as their opinion isn't causing harm to another's quality of life, it's really no concern to you. In a time of Trump, this is especially hard for me. But learning to pick and choose your battles is important. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. Contrast brings clarity and compassion.
19. Ask questions and never stop learning. Dare to learn new perspectives.
20. Spend less time on social media. The happiest people I have met over the years don't even have a facebook page. I think social media is an important tool for keeping in touch with old friends. But it also causing a lot of inauthenticity in our lives and can sometimes cause more harm than good. Kill the mindless scrolling.
21. Less really can be more in terms of value in our friendships. Quality over quantity is very important.
22. Most people are good, decent people. In our hardest times on this Earth, it can be hard to see it. Especially for someone who struggles with leaking back to her cynical feelings towards humanity as I do. Sigh... but really, I know this to be true.
23. You will get through that worst day of life. It's different for everyone, and you will know it when it hits you. But also know, it's going to get better.
24. The friends that still want to talk to you when you disappear for weeks, months, and even years at a time. When you forget to call or text. Love them, adore them. Those are your forever people. They are your tribe.
25. Credit and debit can destroy your life. I am not even kidding. Take care of your credit score.
26. Drink water. Lol yeah, I'm serious. And coconut oil is for the skin. Don't eat it.
27. Grow your own plants and even food if possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious and magically taste better when you're the one who grew them.
28. The hardest part of making big changes in your life is making the decision to do it. Once that happens, the rest seems to fall into place.
29. I am enough. I am. And so are you. The more you love yourself, the easier it is to find the imbalances in your life.
30. I've never regretted taking time to work out or do yoga. The fact that I run from it is pretty silly honestly.
31. Deep conversations about everything and nothing set my soul on fire.
32. Just the simple act of making your bed can make your entire day better. I am not even kidding. Try it.
33. When you stop constantly focusing on the bad things, or the problems. The solutions come.
34. Trust your gut feelings. Your intuition. The vibes you get from people and things. Most times you're probably right.
35. When it comes to coffee, tea, icecream, and sushi... spend the little extra money when you can indulge. The quality matters.
36. Sex is better in your 30s. Trust me.
*Bonus life lesson* We can call this, like the extra candle, one to grow on...
37. There is an saying... "Do what you love, and love what you do." The cynicism inside me always lead me to laugh at this as most people will not make a living doing what they love. And I know what you're thinking, don't you love photography, and yes - I do, it's my world. But what I love about it is the 100% freedom and control with my art. I don't get that much when doing work for clients. And that is ok, I am here to do what I am paid to do when it comes to business. I am happy with my job, but what I am trying to convey here is much deeper. I learned that just because something you love to do isn't bringing you financial gain doesn't mean it doesn't have real value in your life. You can do what you love, and make money in something else. You just need to find balance. You're allowed to have both. The most rewarding things in my life, what I truly love doing is helping people in my online communities for Lung Cancer, and my volunteer work in hospices. I don't make any money doing these things, but the value is truly priceless. And even with my art and photography... my favorite pictures will always be the ones that I took for free.
I hope this list brought some perspective into my adult life, and maybe some hope for yours as well. You don't have to agree with everything I have said here, or anything for that matter. We all have to find our own little place in this world.
Until next time, love and light friends.
Not everyone will understand your journey, and they don’t have to. Those meant to grow along side of you will come. The path to authenticity is not about being liked, it’s about being real and honest with ourselves. Ascension is about becoming who we are truly meant to be. - AK
A little New Years offering for my alter. As I sit here and reflect, I used to view New Year's resolutions as a bad thing. I'd set them, I would fail. I would feel inadequate and unworthy. I stopped making them. I didn't set any goals for myself. I stood still. I laid stagnant in life for nearly 2 years. Towards the end of 2017 I said I was tired, and I had enough. I went on for most of my life believing that if you can't be happy where you are, you will never find happiness elsewhere. I am here to tell you that this idea, this motto... it's not true. It's ok to walk away. You can leave behind the unhappy relationships with friends, family, and the communities that are holding you back. It's ok to love yourself, and do what is best for YOU. I told my friends in November of that year I was leaving, and they kind of laughed it off. In fairness, I had said that I was leaving many times before. I am not sure I would have taken myself seriously either. I lived in a city and state I despised. A place I moved for my ex-husband and never wanted to go. 11 years of disgust. I was surround by pernicious people. People who were so unhappy in their own lives that you felt the bad vibes as soon as you went outside. It brought me nothing but pain. I had many toxic friendships that drew the life out of me. I slowly became a person I hated. Someone I didn't recognize when I looked in the mirror. I tried so hard to be happy... to grow and thrive where I was. I cut off the bad people. All of them. I kept to myself. But just like trees and plants.... if your roots are in bad soil, and your limbs and branches can not reach the light... you can not grow. I saved money, set small term goals and the end of March, 2018 I said goodbye forever to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Life here in Chicago isn't perfect. I am still grieving. I am fighting PTSD, anxiety, and depression. However, I swear every single day I somehow still feel blessed. I feel as if my worst days here are so much better than some of the best in Pennsylvania. This year my goals are spiritual. Continue to thrive, find my relationship with nature and the universe. To make my own magic... only putting out kindness. I will post the full list below. If anyone reading this is scared to make a change, or doesn't think it will be worth it... I am here to tell you ignore those voices and set the goals. If I can do it, anyone can. You are worth the love and happiness in this world. Don't settle for anything less.
Our first Christmas in Illinois is filled with brand new traditions and keeping true to some of the old family ones as well. Friday was all about Winter Solstice and The Yule celebrations. We lit candles, remembered our loved ones, had a nice dinner, fixed our winter alter and charged our crystals with the full moon. Saturday was the early Celebration of my daughter's 19th birthday. Sunday we wrapped gifts and put them under the tree. Today, Christmas eve is all about my Italian side. We've been cooking and making crafts all day. I am making a big dinner. Then tomorrow is for our Mexican side of the family and we will be spending it with grandma, grandpa and the rest of the family. I can't wait for tamales.
The thing about #BestNine and their #BestNine2018 look back of my pictures is that they're based on other people's likes. The best of my year is being decided based on what other people enjoyed. What they picked apart from my moments.... my life. That doesn't sit well with me. I have spent far too long letting other's views on my life hold weight on my soul. - -
I would like to share my own perspective on the year. My Best Nine is the things I loved or found important in 2018. It's actually twelve (so much better than Nine) of my favorite pictures
Happy third birthday as energy in the universe, dad. Your bones turn 75 today.
I feel like I should be saying something more profound... but the truth is, for me... this isn't getting any easier. I would say harder honestly.
Ashes to ashes. Stardust to stardust.
I love you. I miss you. I'm sorry.....
In my "off" season, the awkward time after the Christmas picture rush, and before spring. I take a lot of design work!
This is a little something I did for myself, but I can pull together something gorgeous out of most any picture. I specialize in imagery for social media. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
Those pictures that make you want to click and read more! I help bloggers, people promoting their small businesses and more!
Take a deep breath.
Trust Karma and that universe will take care of everything.
Not everyone will love you, like you, or even understand you.
It's not your business or concern.
Another's person's perspective of you has no real impact on your life.
So live and let live.
Find your own path.
And always sprinkle kindness like you're filling the stars in the sky.
Have a great week!
A little look into my livingroom. As I stated in a previous post, my husband and I upcycled almost our entire apartment. We left almost everything when we moved to the Chicago suburbs from Pennsylvania.
Couch: FREE curb side.
Coffee Table: $5
Book Shelf: $3
TV Stand: $5
Small Glass Door Table: $10
(GoodWill, Local Thrift Store, Yard Sales)
Books, crystals, PS4, extra throw pillows and TV were brought with us from Pennsylvania.
This is week #2 in this house. I have a $300 budget left for decorating and random little things for the house left. I am still deciding.
I plan on posting an update in the next few months to show all the changes we come up with. Ultimately we still want it to look clean and not too cluttered. Open space is important to me in the livingroom as I do my meditation and yoga in there.
Moving A Family Of 7 Out Of State On A 3.5k Budget; And My Introduction To A Semi-Minimalist Lifestyle
We recently moved to Illinois from Pennsylvania. My husband and I needed a drastic change for our family. We were surrounded by toxic people in a city that never really felt like home to any of us. So we took a leap of faith in October of 2017 and started to save for our move.
The biggest question we get is the how. How much we spent, how long we saved, and we went about it. We aren't rich. We lived for the most part pay check to pay check. We sacrificed A LOT to be able to do this.
Budgeting any move out of state is INSANELY expensive. A truck alone could run you over 5k (rental + gas) easily. And let's face it... depending on how big your family is and how much stuff you have.. one truck load probably won't cut it either. And us? We're a family of seven. Yikes.
I got to looking online and seeing how other people did this. How does one move on a tight budget? My searching brought me to an article on minimalism and living a minimalist lifestyle.
"What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life."
I was aware of the concept, but not in this way. Things like tiny homes (and if you have ever seen my pinterest, yes I am obsessed) were ideas that appealed to me later on in life. But I did not think it would be possible to really declutter and downsize with children.
And the other HUGE part. I had no idea the concept applies to relationships and activities. I was so intrigued. I really started to dig deep. I joined a few Facebook support groups on minimalism and recreated my goals.
Now for most people doing a big move, there is a car or cars involved. Well my husband and I don't drive. This meant the first part of our budget had to be for our own transportation.
My husband put in for his job transfer in February and actually applied for a couple different states. We had two accepted. One in Washington state and the other Illinois. We went with Illinois as that is where my in laws lived. We set his start date for the first week in April.
Traveling this time of year was still relatively cheap. We got sleeper cars with beds for seven people on Amtrak for 1.2k total one way.
Now, this would also be important in the planning of getting some of our belongings to Illinois as well. We were allowed to take two large suitcases each. So for seven people that is 14 bags! We utilized this for all the clothing we were taking.
Now, if I am being honest. As a family we owned waaaayyyy more clothing than could fit in two bags each. But this is where our minimalist journey begins. With the clothing.
We spent a good week going through all our clothes. If we didn't NEED it, love it... it was donated or tossed. I am talking items that were never worn or didn't fit. Things being saved for "some day"...yeah no. We were living in the now, so they had no room in our future.
Next we had to decide what wasn't replaceable. Now I have always been an upcycler. I have furnished every home I have ever lived in with FREE or used furniture. So I let go of my initial instincts. The "but I love my couches, but I love my dinning room set". Those can be replaced. They were not coming with us.
What would be most expensive to replace were TVs and Mattresses. We could have gotten upcycled of these items as well, but we had just purchased new six months before and didn't want to waste that money.
Shipping these items would cost an arm and a leg, and again... we don't drive. That killed the idea of a truck. So we then we decided a POD would be the right choice for us.
PODS are amazing honestly. The company drops it off. You have three days to load it. They pick it up and deliver it right to your new address. So simple!
We went with the smallest POD and packed it up tightly based on our needs. We did not want to force a minimalist lifestyle on our children in a traumatic way. So a good portion of our boxes for the pod were the kids toys and personal belongings.
I packed my books, some camera gear, one full box of picture frames and photographs, my crystal collection and incense. And a few personal items. Pots and Pans my father had given me, and plates. Blankete, sheets and pillows. That was it. We pretty much left everything else behind.
$1.2k Train Tickets
$1.5k Boxes, Packing Supplies, POD
$500 To Replace Furniture
$300 To Replace Decorative Pieces
Total moving expenses of $3.5k
Roughly $8k - $10k cheaper than those who would have moved their whole house or bought brand new furniture at their new location.
Full disclosure, the first place we rented was out of our budget and we knew this. But we wanted a place to get our foot in the door so we signed a six month lease. If you wanted to budget in our rental cost it would be an additional $3k for rent and deposit putting us at a $6.5k move total cost. We kept our furniture budget in savings and waited until we found a cheaper place closer to Chicago and transportation. We applied for an apartment in a gorgeous complex after our first lease was up and we got approved.
Renting a temporary house helped us learn our new state. Research neighborhoods and school districts. Decide what we wanted in our home and where. We were able to get our deposit back in full and applied it to our new place.
Our apartment complex is in a great neighborhood, close to transportation. Easy train ride to Chicago. Pool, gym, clubhouse, 24/7 maintenance. Our unit is three bedroom, 2 full bath. It's everything we wanted.
It took six months of saving and planning to leave Pennsylvania and another six months to get settled into a new state and find the perfect apartment but we did it.
I will make a follow up post with some pictures of our new apartment and the items I purchased to decorate as well as the upcycled furniture.
We had A LOT of odds against us. We don't make a ton of money. We had to sacrifice a lot to save up. No going out to eat, no takeout. Cheaper phones and plans, no cable etc. We don't drive. Traveling was difficult. But I am here to tell you, if we can do it... so can you!
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE UNHAPPY.
Our worst days in Illinois have been better than some of our best in Pennsylvania. So that says a lot.
If you're stuck in a place you are unhappy... start small. Make tiny lifestyle changes and learn to let go.
Until next time.... love and light friends!
One of the hospices I do palliative care/support volunteer work in is hosting a wonderful event.
Join us for one of our three Tree of Lights celebrations to honor the memories of loved ones who are no longer with us.
The event will feature live music, an inspirational message, fellowship and light refreshments.
Space is limited. Register to attend at https://journeycare.org/lights/
Now that everyone has put their pink shirts away, let's remember that Lung Cancer kills more women daily than Breast and Ovarian cancer combined.
An average of 193 women die each day of lung cancer, one every 7 minutes.
Yes, you read that right....
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women. It is also the leading cause of cancer death in men.
In 2018, an estimated 70,500 women will die of lung cancer, 25% of all cancer deaths in women. Of the men and women with lung cancer, 17.9% are never-smokers.
Lung cancer in male and female never-smokers is the sixth leading cause of all cancer deaths.
Approximately two-thirds of never-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women. Of never-smokers, women are twice as likely as men to get lung cancer.
Recent studies indicate that the rate of never-smoking lung cancer is increasing.
The five-year survival rate for women with lung cancer remains low at 21%.
Despite a higher number of annual deaths, lung cancer receives only $1,831 per death in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the least funded of the major cancers affecting women.
November's new moon is called the Beaver moon and it will be on the 7th . This beautiful moon is in Scorpio. The Scorpio born are strong willed, passionate, intelligent, jealous, possessive and secretive.
What is the story behind the Beaver moon? November's full moon was named Beaver Moon by colonists and Algonquin tribes. Some say it has to do with collecting the furs to make clothing and blankets to last all winter long. Beavers build their winter dams at this time of year. The moon represents strong foundations. This moon is so also called Frost Moon and Mourning Moon, depending on the winter solstice.
In Hindu name for this beautiful Full Moon is Kartik Poomima. it commemorates the end of a four-month period during which Vishnu sleeps. It is also the birthday of Vishnu’s fish incarnation, Avatar.
The Beaver Moon is a great time to dig deep and think about how your past is affecting you now. It's also an opportunity to rebuild things in your life. Much like the Beavers building their dams, you can take this chance to work on the foundation of your life. Set some goals to last you through the winter.
For me this new moon brings along a huge change. Much like our beaver friends, I am packing and moving into a new home. I have noticed lately my life is moving along with the cycles of the moon. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed I try to remember the universe has my back. Good things will come to me if I go with the flow.
New Moons are all about reflection and setting your intentions for the cycle ahead. Here are some of my favorite rituals to help you manifest and take advantage of some moon power in your own life.
○NEW MOON RITUALS○
• Organize Your Alter And Favorite Crystals:
I am always asked what crystals should I use. This is hard for me... I can easily read you the text book meaning of the stones. However in my practice, that has never worked for me. I buy, collect, and trade stones that resonate with me based off of vibes. Gut feelings that draw me to each crystal. I find this method brings me the most peace. Whatever method you chose, remember there is no right or wrong way to manifest with your stones on this new moon.
Besides crystals, you want to fill your alter with things that resonate with you. Mine is filled with items I have found in nature. I have leaves, pine cones, a deer antler and even an old bird's nest. I keep pictures of saints and spirits. Some like to keep pictures of their loved ones or things they have as goals such as pictures of money or a new house. Think of your alter as a spiritual vision board.
• Take A New Moon Bath By Candle Light:
Before I start I always sage the room ensuring good vibes and positive energy.
Grab some candles (white are best) and place them around your bathroom and bathtub. These candles will represent the moon and inner clarity.
Use some purifying essential oils in a nice hot bubble bath. Frankincense is really good for spirituality, meditation, and purification. Whilst elemi is good for fresh starts and new beginnings.
Much like my advice on crystals, I think it's important to use scents that resonate with you when it comes to personal rituals. If those don't work for you, find some that do.
• Journal Keeping, Meditation, and Affirmations
The new moon is the perfect time to start a journal. Let it be for short and longterm goals, or something deeper like the thoughts swirling around in your head.
Remember the new moon is all about setting up your intentions and letting go of your past burdens. Write down things as they come to you.
I do my journaling monthly and enjoy looking back at the end of the year to reflect. Whilst others don't like to think about their past moons and only want to go forward.
Some people make lists on paper of the things that really hurt them the moon before. They write them down, then burn the paper in a glass bowl whilst watching the flames. As the flame dies down, so does the weight of these burdens that you carried from the previous moon. This can server as a great meditation point.
This is a good time to get together affirmations that truly resonate in your soul. As you sit in front of your alter and have let go of your previous moon, speak these out loud. Let them flow through you. The practice of meditation is really important throughout the manifesting process. This is because you actively relax and allow for your desires to flow from your higher self.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to manifest and take advantage of the new moon energy flowing. Try some of my methods, research others or even make some ones of your own.
Love and light friends!
Beaver photo credit; riptide bait and tackle
Moon research: mooncircles, mystic familiar, farmer's almanac and tarot.com
"Avoid overthinking, overanalyzing, and complicating things. Keep everything simple. Life is much more beautiful and enjoyable this way."
Sometimes the tools to a happier life are right within my grasps. Yet, the struggle of knowing what's good for me, and training my mind to think positive sometimes feels impossible.
I truly admire those who do it so well that it has become an effortless art form.
Just my Monday Morning thoughts through meditation after a mostly sleepless night. Sometimes the best motivation is knowing that small steps are ok and you're not the only one who struggles to get it right. It's not always our accomplishments that need celebration, but our attempts as well.
"The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections."
Stunning Before and After Milk Bath Maternity Photoshoot Shows The Powerful Beauty In Pregnacy And Motherhood
New mom Kayla Kaydo wanted something beautiful and creative in her maternity pictures. She didn't want your typical black and white studio portraits. She was looking for a peice of art that she could share with her daughter and future grandchildren.
I came up with a plan that would not only show the gorgeous and powerful female pregnancy form, but also a glimpse into life of motherhood.
Kayla loves nature and wild things. We set her up a warm milk bath and laid flowers all around her. It was beautiful and relaxing. It showed off her round pregnant belly wonderfully. Six months later we shot again after her beautiful daughter, Aurora was born.
I hope everyone enjoys this set as much as we do.
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )