Feel Good Blogging Challenge — Day 4: 10 Fun Facts!

Haaaappy Friday, folks!

It’s been a busy (and soggy) week ’round here but I’m holding fast to this challenge even though I’m well behind the intended schedule.

Post 10 things that most people don’t know about you.

  1. I’m right-handed but my left side is stronger. For example, I open jars with my left hand and my left leg has always been dominant in the dance studio, i.e. pirouettes, turns, and footwork. I’ve always found this to be bizarre because I write and throw a ball right-handed! Weird.
  2. Accessories are my both my shopping weakness and fashion strong suit. My closet is full of easy mix and match tanks and tops but I live for a statement scarf or necklace or bag! (And earrings, back in the day, but my poor lobes won’t tolerate even the fanciest of metals through them.)
  3. I believe shoes are an art form. Though I have not mastered walking in stilettos, by golly my heart is in it! Is a shoe museum a thing? Because it should be.
  4. As a cultural sponge, I love to travel. Outside of the U.S. I have been blessed to visit Switzerland, Italy, and Barbados. And hopefully there’s more where that came from!
  5. I had Mononucleosis as a baby and therefore never had the Chicken Pox. (Different strands of herpes infections but once you’re infected with the virus you’ll always carry it, though not contagious unless “active.” Yeaaah.)
  6. I originally wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.
  7. I had a beloved stuffed rabbit as a child that I affectionately called, Bun Bun.
  8. I love to bake because it’s like chem lab to me. Specific instructions and measurements light me up. I don’t like to cook because it’s too loosey goosey, a splash of this, a pinch of that… gah! Luckily, my partner, Bryan, is a wonderful cook who enjoys it. (Thank you, Universe.)
  9. Total animal person. Three cats, two horses, and a dog. That’s my ideal world. :-)
  10. I have one bum eyeball (lefty) and one nearly perfect eyeball (righty). I have not ventured into the world of contacts so I’m sticking with the four-eyed gang for now.

And there you have it, ten random facts about me! What’s something most people don’t know about you? I’d love to read it in the comments below!

Love & Light,
HB xoxo

Feel Good Blogging Challenge — Day 3: A Tutorial Post

TGIF, gang!

Last night I bought my very first waterproof raincoat AND first beanie! My boyfriend Bryan was talking me through the great beanie purchase of 2014 when I realized this one is aptly named the “Hailey.” Boom, done. I’m quite excited about the purchases now that I’ve made-do with a measly water-resistant jacket for the past 1.75 years. Waterproof is the only way to go in the Northwest. All I need is a killer pair of boots and you can practically call me a local!

Today’s challenge (Day 3!):

Teach your audience how to do something.

While we’re on the subject of cultural assimilation, how about…

How to Make Friends: 21st Century Edition

Most of us grow up with built-in friend factories, otherwise known as the education system. Some of us may even go on to higher levels of education, meaning we aren’t really left to our own devices in the friend department until our mid-twenties. Kinda weird to think about, ya? For the greater part of eighteen years we are surrounded by folks our own age who are undergoing the same academic, athletic, and extracurricular challenges we are. We bond over 4th period British Literature, how much we loathe fitness testing, and who’s going to host the bake sale for marching band.

Once you’ve flown the coop of the aforementioned, you realize just how much you relied on those institutions to fuel your social circles. Our place of employment helps to fill this void but what happens if you were to start all over? You’ve graduated, landed a job somewhere new, and you decide to pick up and move…

How does one build a whole new tribe?

You take what you have and work with it.

A year and a half ago I moved 3,067 miles from my hometown of North Kingstown, Rhode Island to Bremerton, Washington. I knew all of one person within a 350-mile radius, my roommate and childhood friend, Laura. All other humans of interest resided in Seattle, an hour ferry ride away from where I was living and working at the time. And I was working as a nanny for Laura’s 3-month old daughter, Macey.

You wanna talk isolation, I was feelin’ it, baby. Yes, having Laura was a godsend. But she was also a first-time mom navigating the waters of mommyhood and career. And Laura’s friends were rad but had busy lives of their own in Seattle with partners and kids.

And so, like any good millennial, I took to the Internet to meet new people.

I started with Match.com. The ten previous months leading up to the move were devoid of dates and free time of any kind but full of personal development and growth, I was ready to dive back into the dating pool. And hell, I wanted an excuse to head into the city! (Or any excuse to get out of the house which doubled as my workplace.)

While not new to the online dating scene, I was a bit apprehensive to lead with the romantic foot. All strong and independent women should have an established friend base, ya? Well I had one, it just happened to be on the other side of the country. Minor detail, really. So, I signed up anyway and found love two weeks later. The third man I went on a date with in Seattle, a month into my cross country move, is the same man I spend Friday date nights with today, a year and a half later.

Now that my love tank was full, I needed some gal pals to round out the pack.

Twitter provided my very first Seattle friend, Kristen. I had been following the University of Washington and their Social Work Department because I was applying to their MSW degree. One day, UW retweeted something of Kristen’s and we began a virtual conversation about the application process which turned into an exchanging of contact info and the rest is history!

Summer camping w/ Kristen and her boyfriend, Scott at Lake Wenatchee!

Summer camping w/ Kristen and her boyfriend, Scott at Lake Wenatchee!

Instagram provided my second Seattle friend, Gari. I stumbled upon Gari’s black and white street photography through another Seattle photographer‘s work on Instagram. After commenting on a post of Gari’s regarding a women’s writing workshop she attended, we exchanged contact info and met for brunch one morning to get to know each other. Not only is she a great friend but she has also introduced me to a host of other fabulous, likeminded creatives after recruiting me to volunteer on a community art project in south Seattle.

Isn't she fabulous?!

Isn’t she fabulous?!

Suddenly after making two connections over social media, my network grew exponentially.

Ah, the power of the digital age.

Moral of the story: making new friends takes time, especially when you’re new to an area. My story didn’t go without awkward solo bar hangs with a good book, hoping the outgoing bartender would be my new best friend. Or Friday nights trolling Meetup.com.

I stayed open, honest, and inviting. And I kept at it. You’ve gotta put yourself out there by listening to people, asking questions, and extending invites.

Call upon your established tribe back home! Ask if they know anyone in your area. My friend Amy is an honorary sister of my best friend’s husband. My friend Cait is a friend of a friend I used to work with at Old Navy my freshman year of college.

Trust that the right people will enter your life when you need them. And show appreciation when they do. Kristen, Gari, Amy, and Cait didn’t have to accept my invitations to connect but they were kind and open enough to try. And for that I am so grateful.

Love & Light,
HB xoxo

Feel Good Blogging Challenge — Day 2: A Passionate Post

What’s the story behind why you do what you do?

Share the story behind that one thing you’re TRULY passionate about and why you’re passionate about it.

I’m chock full ‘o passions but if I had to pick one, it’d be people. Though a natural introvert, I gain immense energy from working with people. A cultural sponge soaking up every bit of diversity, being of service is at my core.

But, if we’re getting down to the nitty gritty here, the one thing I am TRULY passionate about is empowering women.

Here’s where my story comes in:

I have never felt so disconnected to my body as I do today. At 25 years old I am at the heaviest weight of my adult life with little to no sex drive or drive to do much of anything except sit on the couch and stuff my face. I don’t feel confident, sexy, or comfortable in my own skin.

Why? Because I feel like I’ve betrayed myself.

I’ve struggled with weight and health since the age of 10 due to food addiction. I ignore my feelings by stuffing them down with food, and sometimes alcohol. As an adolescent this caused major self-esteem and self-confidence issues, I was afraid to be… me. I never felt like I fit in at school until the freedom of college.

Take a young woman who struggled with insecurity for the better part of her life, throw in her natural state of shyness and you get me, the girl who had never been kissed until freshman year of college. (Playing house at 5 years old with your neighbor doesn’t count, ha.)

College was a period of amazing personal growth but the disconnect with my body grew larger. If you’re a 20-something virgin in today’s culture you’re viewed differently, and not in a good way. I felt pressured into sex by men who I thought cared for me, and while I resisted for a very long time, eventually the desire to feel loved and desired won out. I suddenly had this new found power through using my body to gain love and acceptance.

I had it all twisted. I felt that my worth as a woman was found in my body.

Some casual dating and one serious relationship later, fast forward to the night of March 27, 2012.

A first date was planned with a man who had blown me off the week prior. We met late on a weeknight at a hookah bar, conversation was entirely one sided and I was thoroughly unimpressed. And yet, when he asked to give me a “tour of the east side” I reluctantly obliged. Here was a Brown University medical student who worked as a personal trainer and was obviously in fantastic shape that wanted to continue a date with chubby Haley Brown, how could I turn him down?

I followed him separately in my own car thinking we were heading to a club we’d discussed earlier that day, I was surprised when we pulled up in front of a duplex and he got out of his car. He offered me a drink inside, we were at his apartment.

The internal monologues were reeling, “going up doesn’t mean anything, Haley. Everyone tells you you don’t go out or have enough ‘fun.”

My head said “do it” but my heart said “get back in the car, this guy is lame anyway.”

I ignored my gut and went upstairs where my date raped me.

I reported it to the police two days later but did not pursue criminal charges. I spent the remainder of the year in counseling and finishing my degree before moving to Seattle.

Nine months after moving, news travelled of my rapist attacking others. New details began to surface about his identity. He’d lied about his age, profession and medical school, he’d left the program after a previous 2008 assault charge. I reopened my case in support of the other women he’d harmed but I have not been called on to testify.

Anger. The police didn’t even look into my assailant’s previous record, three more women had to come forward before dots were connected.

Guilt. I feel like a traitor in my own body, like I betrayed myself that night, like I should have fought for myself more.

Shame. I make my own skin crawl. “What were you thinking? You were so high on validation that you ignored all the red flags. You broke your own rules.” 

These are the things that still weigh me down, figuratively and literally.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Like so many others, I’m healing one day at a time, focusing on what I have in front of me in the present moment.

This blog is an account of my journey to wellness in the hopes that it will help others on the same path. I don’t know what the future holds but I know it is bright.

I am passionate about empowering women because I’ve seen the bottom and I’m making my way to top so I can help others do the same.

Love & Light,
HB xoxo


Day 2 of Alex Beadon’s “Feel Good Blogging Challenge.”

Feel Good Blogging Challenge — Day 1: Who is Haley Brown?

Happy “Hump Day!” And Happy October! It’s a chilly, rainy day here in good ‘ole Seattle. Though I’m deeply missing New England fall foliage, the Pacific Northwest brings its own brand of beauty to the season. Just make sure you’ve got a waterproof jacket, sassy beanie, and boots to tackle it with.

This week I’m stepping out on a limb and participating in Alex Beadon’s 7-Day Feel Good Blogging Challenge. If you’ve followed my blogging journey thus far, you know posts have been few and far between. Well, I’d like to change that.

I am participating in a daily blogging challenge for the next seven days, hoping for it to be a springboard of motivation and traction!

Day 1 prompt: Answer the following five questions:

1. Who are you?

Officially: Haley Elizabeth Doble Brown. To most: HB, Hale, halestorm, Hay-Hay, Browntown, honeybun, halesworth, pookey, pookness (it’s a mother thing).

25 years young. New England born, Seattle dwelling. College educated. Sassy, simple, and sophisticated.

Somewhere between a juice cleanse and donut for dinner, I write, edit, and shoot photos of all kinds between lavender chai breaks in the greater Seattle area. (Though my day job in telemedicine currently has me in an office from 8am-5pm.)

In my free time I love exploring the city, OK I love eating and drinking my way through the city, and exploring the surrounding natural splendors of Washington. There is never a dull moment around these parts, so much to see and do!

Fun facts: My lucky number is 7 and favorite color is fuchsia. My soul lies both in the ocean and in an open field on the back of a horse. Music and dance are my love language. I have a deep desire to be connected to myself and others, and to be of service. Love is always the answer.

2. Why did you start blogging?

Forever a bookworm, writing comes naturally to me and is something I enjoy. The idea to start a blog began years ago during the serial dating phase of my late teens/early twenties. Boy did I have stories to tell and advice to give, my friends encouraged me to start a blog but I could never work up the gumption.

Then, a year ago, I bit the bullet, hired a graphic designer to help me with the coding/technical end of things and launched a blog!

Why? Because I felt it was time, I’d moved 3,000 miles away from home and wanted to share my life here on the west coast with everyone back east. Along with all my other dreams: using my story and past experiences to help others, sharing inspiring products/people/books/etc., and to continue growing as an individual… Blah blah blah… I wanted… I want to inspire, motivate, empower others. Plain and simple.

I figured starting was the hardest part, that posts would just evolve naturally once I began. Wrong-o. Blogging needs to be intentional, it takes work and life quickly got in the way last year. Today, time is not an excuse, I’m working part-time through the end of 2014. It’s time to get my sh*t in gear, baby!

3. Who is your blog for?

I am writing for anyone who struggles to remain in the light. Life is a beautifully complicated mess. It can be really, really hard sometimes. This blog serves as a beacon, a lighthouse of hope and love and light to everyone who enters. It is a reminder that YOU are enough, YOU are worthy of your desires, and YOU can have the life you’ve always dreamed of.

And for people who like pretty pictures of pretty places. And need Seattle eatery recommendations.

P.S.: I don’t have all the answers, I’m learning right along with you, we’re in this together!

4. What’s something you’ve been working on lately that you’re REALLY proud of?

Honest answer: not a heck of a lot. Does getting through the week count? (Answer: YES!)

I’ve got two pressing goals on the immediate horizon: finally finishing Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map from start to finish and cooking three dinners a week.

I did take a new dance class three times last week! I reallyyy wanted to bail on the second and third classes not because I didn’t enjoy the class but because they are after work and all I wanted to do was veg on the couch and watch Gilmore Girls (damn you, Netflix!). However, I forced myself to go and I am REALLY proud of it. More on the Nia classes at a later date!

5. What’s the ONE MESSAGE you hope people take away from your blog?

I hope they leave feeling better than when they arrived.

Woo! Day 1 complete! If you’re like me and teetered on the edge of launching a blog for YEARS, now is the time to jump! Join the 7-day challenge and see what kind of magic you can create.

Love & Light,
HB xoxo

P.P.S – I’d love to connect with you! Find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest at: yelahbrown (Haley spelled backwards!) ;-)

Summer 2014: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Summer 2014 has zooooomed on by! (Don’t they all…)

‘Lotsa weddings and fun in the Seattle sun! (Yes, it does exist!)

Here’s some summer snapshots thus far:


Bryan’s been working extra long hours this summer so our fantasy to-do list has barely been scratched but we’ve made the most of it by cramming lots of fun stuff in where we can!

I’m very blessed in this life and I am thankful everyday for those blessings. Despite the happy faces, the gratitude, and freedom I’ve had this summer, I am still very much struggling, something I do not talk much about.

I don’t talk about it because I know I have so much to be happy and grateful for and I often feel guilty for feeling sad, angry, or anxious, whatever it is I’m feeling at the time.

However, those “bad” feelings are just as valid as the joyful ones.

Do you ever feel like you live in your own head? I do. So much so that sometimes I look at Bryan and I actually see him. I’m present, I’m in the moment, and when I look at him I realize I haven’t seen him in days or sometimes weeks. This is usually followed by a spontaneous kiss or hand grab, something tangible to reinforce the present moment. Also known as a grounding technique if you’ve ever studied anxiety or trauma.

Yes, I am blessed. Yes, I am struggling with depression and anxiety.

The two are not mutually exclusive, they can occur at the same time. I’m not new to the mental illness scene, these are things I’ve dealt with since childhood. They just happen to be at a new height of impairment.

Three large transitions contributing to these current struggles:

  1. Cross country move. I love Seattle, it was absolutely the right decision for me. I have made several wonderful friends coupled with the great support of Bryan’s family, but I miss my family and friends on the east coast. Technology makes it very easy to keep in touch but nothing compares to a hug from your loved ones, or a face to face conversation.
  2. Career. Not knowing where I fit in in the professional world. Knowing I have unique skills and talents that can make a difference but feeling stuck, not knowing where to go next. And those pesky things called bills that don’t wait around for you to figure it out.
  3. Trauma. There is a lot of icky stuff I haven’t dealt with because my M.O. is to bury it and never touch it again. But finding love with Bryan has opened a set of dormant issues that I can no longer ignore, for the sake of my own health and the health our relationship.

I’m talking about this today because it’s something that’s often shunned from discussion. Mental illness is as real as cardiovascular disease.

It’s OK to be struggling and smiling at the same time.

Also, just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling.

It’s OK to ask for help.

Let’s take more time to listen to each other and ask the tough questions.

Let’s be brave enough to answer them honestly, without fear.

Let’s spread the love a little more, a little farther.

Thanks for listening today, friends. Hope your summer is going swimmingly! (<- See what I did there?!)

HB xoxo

IMG_9931

Hibernation: Complete!

...ZZZ...

…ZZZ…

This week wrapped my first “big girl” job and I feel much like the big, burly bear above. I’ve emerged from the cave, stretched wide but still need to stop every so often for a snooze. I could move into an earth/springtime metaphor, the options really are endless this time of year, but I’ll spare you.

So, yeah. I’ve learned a great deal the past nine months in nonprofit management:

  • Earning a salary is real nice
  • Healthcare is a transformational field
  • Nurses are the most compassionate badasses around
  • Sitting at a desk for nine hours a day kills me slowly inside
  • If it doesn’t light you up you’re not the right person for the job

While I don’t know what my next move is, I know removing myself from a toxic workplace and returning to center within is more progress than I could ever make “sticking it out” somewhere that I don’t belong.

Ze boyfriend builds things, I make them look pretty and turn them into yet another metaphor for life.

Ze boyfriend builds things, I make them look pretty and turn them into yet another metaphor for life.

I’m on the first step looking upwards and it feels real nice.

Most recently I’ve begun taking stock of why I moved to Seattle in the first place. Part of what drew me here was the thriving art/creative scene and sense of community found throughout the diverse neighborhoods. Another is the abundance of natural beauty surrounding the city.

While I’ve begun tapping into exploring the great Pacific Northwest thanks to dating Bryan, Washington native and mountaineer extraordinarie. What I hadn’t done at all in a year’s time is get involved, with anything other than meeting Bryan and job transitions. Not to diminish finding great love but I still long for feeling connected in other ways… making friends, finding a community, being of service, developing my art.

I didn’t move 3,000 miles away from everyone I love to be complacent. This was a real wakeup call a few weeks ago, “what the heck are you doing, HB?” I’d taken the leap, landed, put some roots down but building had stalled.

With all this rolling around in my head, I reached out to a girl I was following on Instagram who posted a photo about a women’s writing workshop she’d taken. We exchanged emails then phone numbers and BOOM! I’d made a wonderful new friend who happens to be a beautiful black and white street photographer with two self-published books. Yeah, she’s kind of a force.

Gari then introduced me to a host of other fabulous, likeminded creatives working on a community art based project. (More on that later!)

Suddenly, through one simple connection, my network grew exponentially.

And that’s where I’m at right now, folks. I’ve been interviewing like a madwoman for nanny positions and recently accepted a part-time summer position caring for an adorable 8 month-old girl and 3 year-old boy. Ideally I’d like to find another position to supplement the other two days of the workweek but for now I am welcoming the opportunity to develop and explore this newfound creative side, and just get back to taking care of myself.

Here’s to S P A C E.
And the F R E E D O M to take it.

Springtime is alive and well in Seattle!

Springtime is alive and well in Seattle!

20-14!

Heyooo!

I hope everyone had a delightful end to the holiday season and a very happy new year!

My Christmas travels home to Rhode Island were short, sweet, and definitely stranger than anticipated. It had been seven months since I’d stepped foot on the east coast and this time around I could feel the difference instantly.

Walking through Boston-Logan Airport I noticed a Red Sox World Series Champs banner… for 2013. Huh. Weird. I knew they won of course but I didn’t watch more than half an inning of the series and had obviously forgotten. This would have been a HUGE deal to me a year ago, I thought to myself.

And so began a trip that felt more like time traveling.

I felt increasingly different sitting in the bedroom I’d occupied from fifth grade through the age of 23. In a good way. In the kind of way you visit an old classroom after years gone by. I felt older, wiser.

Scenes from those thirteen years danced across the ‘ole brainwaves. And ya know what? I liked what I saw. I’ve lived a lot of life in my short 24 years, a life I now have a greater appreciation for after moving on to the next chapter.

Love. Heartache. Loss. Joy. Hardship. Risk. Fun. Heart.

Growth.

When we’re knee deep in the tough stuff, or even the fluffy stuff, it is hard to maintain perspective that everything happens for a reason. How we react to trying experiences, how we move forward and apply these lessons is where the gold is. You’re being prepped for greatness if you choose to ask for it.

The universe knew I wanted more, that I needed more than what my life in Rhode Island could provide. Though patience isn’t my strong suit, I needed pockets of it as my Aunt Kelly would say. The universe opened a window for me when I was good and ready.

In 2013: I moved across the country, cared for an infant, fell in love, didn’t get into Grad School, took on my first management position, lived on a sailboat, started a blog, and moved into my first apartment. Ch-ch-chaaange.

What do you feel called to be a part of?
What are you born to do?
Where does your heart lie?

Let’s ask for more in 2014.
2014Love,
HB xoxo

Why Seattle?

You wanna hear a story of how effortlessly cool life is if you just let it happen?

I have a good friend named Laura. Laura and her older sister Sara used to babysit my brother and I when we were little tikes living in Sturbridge, MA. After moving to Rhode Island we lost touch until Facebook brought us back together in 2007. (Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.)

Winter of 2012 I was dating someone who lived in North Carolina; I purchased a ticket to visit him on Spring Break. Well, that brief relationship quickly dissolved and suddenly I had a plane ticket to nowhere. Not wanting to burden my friends by having to come up with the money on short notice I thought of friends I could visit solo. I hadn’t seen Laura since the age of 7 but had no qualms about visiting her, she and Sara were solidified in my mind as the older sisters I didn’t have.

And so I booked a flight to Seattle to visit a long lost friend. I was quickly smitten with the city but that wasn’t the only noteworthy development… Laura was pregnant! Later in my trip, after a lot of discussion, sitting on her couch I had a crazy thought… what if I moved out here to help with the baby and go to Grad School? She returned from walking Cody-Dog, I pitched the idea and the rest is history, really.

I wrapped up my degree at Rhode Island College the following fall, applied to the University of Washington’s MSW program, spent the holidays at home, packed up my car and moved to Washington State two days after Christmas. (With the help of my best gal pal, Ali and trusty Corolla, Steely Dan.)

Boom.

People gave me all kinds of opinions on the move, some supportive, some not so much. I only had ears for my intuition. It wasn’t anything tangible, it was a gravitational pull, a feeling of knowing that I can’t quite describe. I grabbed hold and didn’t look back. It was a massive leap of faith but the best decision I’ve ever made.

And it all started with a breakup. Let that sink in.

You have to make space for your future to show up. Sometimes that means letting things fall apart so they can expand even further.

Timing is everything, just show up and let go. The universe is organizing everything for your benefit.

Be brave.

Keep the faith.

Trust yourself.

HB xoxo

A Real Woman.

(Insert photo of Marilyn Monroe here.)

You’ve seen it circulate before and you’ll probably see it again.

But let’s think about the message we’re sending, ladies.

I’m a big girl; I grew up in America. I get it, it’s hard out there for a plus size gal. And I see what we’re trying to do here but the message is all wrong.

As women we are all in this judgmental world together. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, brown, orange, purple, or green. Or if you’re tall, short, or average. It doesn’t matter if you’re skinny, thin, average, stocky, thick, chubby, or fat. Or if you have freckles, wrinkles, scars, pimples, or gray hair.

beauty1

We are all real women.

Every single one.

You can even have a penis and be a woman. If that’s what you identify with, then go on with your bad self! And more power to you!

What makes Marilyn Monroe a “real” woman, eh? Her hips? Her breasts? A white bathing suit? Red lipstick?

By marginalizing a group of women because they don’t have exaggerated curves makes us just as bad as the ones marginalizing us for having them.

Cut it out.

Cut it out.

I have a girlfriend who would “kill for my curves” and I would “kill for her slender thighs.” We are never totally happy with what we’ve got, mainly because we’ve been conditioned by society to critique every single thing about ourselves in pursuit of the “ideal.”

beauty

Well, the ideal is bullshit. You’re beautiful; I’m beautiful; we’re all beautiful.

beauty2
So the next time you feel the urge to lash out because some dweeb called you chunky or because you’re sick of flipping through magazines of pencil thin models, don’t retaliate by criticizing others (I am fully aware this is not usually the intent but an indirect result), instead list three things you love about your body.

Love it.

Own it.

HB xoxo

(PS- All pictures are courtesy of Google.com.)

Tales of the Cleanse.

Or something like that.

Things I’ve learned since starting a clean eating challenge two weeks ago: Eating clean is very difficult after 11 months of eating whatever whenever you wanted.

2013 has been a series of transitions: home, work, love… you name it, it’s changed since January 1st. The first things to go down the tubes when I feel overwhelmed/stressed are my eating and exercising habits. Easy to do, right? When you feel like things are out of control and you need to prioritize in order to get through the day, self-care is the last thing on the list.

  • “I gotta get this project done for my manager by tomorrow, I can just get a burger at Wendy’s later.”
  • “I don’t need breakfast, I gotta get to the office.”

You know how it goes. Gyms? Exercise? Forget ‘ah ’bout it.

This is nothing new for me; weight, nutrition and exercise will be lifelong struggles like they are for countless others. How do we make our health a priority, even in the face of daily stressors? I don’t want to wait for the things to “settle down” before I start feeling better.

Small, nearly undetectable changes at first until they become routine and gradually build from there. These past two weeks I did not eat gluten free, dairy free, or free of anything but I learned that guilt and shame have no place in the process of change.

Things I did accomplish:

  • Packing healthy snacks all week long: fruit (bananas, oranges, apples), roasted seaweed (100 calorie packs, Kirkland brand found at Costco), almonds (plain organic), tupperware filled w/ organic baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and grape tomatoes and organic greek olive/garlic hummus.
  • Eating breakfast, even if it was a Kind bar. (Yummy and gluten free!)
  • Making smart choices when eating lunch from the office cafeteria: One day I had a cup of vegetarian chili, the next a cup of the garden vegetable soup. When I decided to get a sandwich on Wednesday I ordered only half of one and resisted the urge for chips, settling on the apple already at my desk.
  • DRINKING WATER. My golly, why is that so difficult? I don’t drink nearly enough water so the past two weeks I have been religious about filling up a water bottle as soon as I get in. It holds just over (3) 8 oz. glasses of water which means I should be drinking three bottles full a day. If I drank two bottles, fan-stinkin-tastic. One bottle? Good but not good enough. Baby steps, I hope to have it so routinized that I don’t even think about it. Before you know it, 3 bottles and 5 million pee breaks will seem like nothing.
  • No beer or liquor (for a week). The social calendar was full this week… drinks with a friend, weeknight concert, ugly sweater party, combo birthday/going away celebration… and I kept my drink of choice to hard cider. Gluten free? Yes! Sugar free? Not so much. Even these were kept to a minimum though, 5 drinks spread over 4 events.
Tedeshci Trucks Band (holy talent!) and a mediocre, overpriced pear cider.

Tedeshci Trucks Band (holy talent!) and a mediocre, overpriced pear cider.

Breakfast of champs! 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 2 scoops SP Complete, 4 oz. almond milk, ice.

Breakfast of champs! 1 banana, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blueberries, 2 scoops SP Complete, 4 oz. almond milk, ice.

clean eating for the win! Nom.

clean eating for the win! Nom.

Staples in the Brown/Matthews household.

Staples in the Brown/Matthews household.

Produce haul, mostly organic but didn't get too crazy over it.

Produce haul, mostly organic but didn’t get too crazy over it.

Produce continued :-)

Produce continued // Side note: Bryan sautéed the beet greens in a veggie stir fry and they were a great addition!

Small changes but I’m already feeling better, if only because that sense of control has returned. Here’s to progress and putting our health first!

What small change could you tweak in your daily or weekly routine?

HB xoxo