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Living.

This week I’m going to write about something a little different.

I want to talk to you about my journey into health, loving my work outs and most importantly loving myself.

Important but different from my usual banter. I think. Let’s take a walk and see where we end up.

I’m going to start at the beginning.

I loved my younger self’s body. I have these really long legs and they make me fast. Pants were never long enough and never fit me around my waist. Tall and thin. I use to eat 10 pancakes at breakfast.  10. The rest of my day I maybe ate a lunch or I stuck with my normal diet of Dr. Pepper and Reese’s peanut butter cups.  Did I mention I was I sports?! What was I thinking? Soda and sugar. So when I got home I was famished and ate everything in sight, or if I had a meet or a game, I would eat all the carbs for that burst of energy I would need the next day.

And this is how I went into my twenties.

Care free. Eating everything I wanted without thought or reason.

Beer. Sure. Nachos? Yes! Breakfast at 2 am after drinking all night, bring on those biscuits and gravy.

I couldn’t get enough.

Did I move my body? Occasionally. Half hearted. I wasn’t concerned. This was easy. My body was an amazing machine. An amazing machine I was fueling with beer and doughnuts.

The body’s a temple, that’s what we’re told

I’ve treated this one like an old honky-tonk

Greasy cheeseburgers and cheap cigarettes

One day they’ll get me if they ain’t got me yet

With me so far? Nodding your head? Thinking man, those were the days.

Guess what?

My body hit the brakes. Skidded. Locked up. I woke up one day and I had gained weight. No, girl, I gaaaaiiiiinnnned weight.

I’m in mid twenties and I couldn’t button my jeans.

I shrugged my shoulders and looked for the easiest way out.

Read:  the most unhealthy way. There wasn’t portion control when I could go to a store and buy a pill but still eat everything. Portion control dieting didn’t teach me about food. It taught me to eat more fruits and veggies, which was a good thing, but calories in versus calories out stayed the same.

What was that teaching me? I knew I needed to eat less. Less what?

It wasn’t teaching me about food. It wasn’t teaching me about how to fuel my body. I wasn’t learning a thing.

I lost weight.

I got married. I lost weight. I gained weight.

I got pregnant.

Being pregnant was the time in my life where I ate well and worked out every day. I swam. I walked. I rode an stationary bike and I did prenatal yoga.

I gained twenty pounds with her.

I had a healthy baby girl weighing in at  almost 9 lbs.

I wasn’t in a hurry to lose that “baby” weight.

I ate better for her.

I started moving my body three days a week out of sheer boredom and I lost weight. I wasn’t eating as much and I was moving my body. You would think the a-ha moment would be happening here; but it wasn’t.

I lost a lot of weight due to not eating and  stress in my life. I couldn’t eat without throwing up, and man did that stink. I needed to eat but was afraid to eat. It was an endless cycle of stress and not feeling good about my life.

I went to the gym six days a week. It became my escape. I had a routine and it was all cardio.

I fit in clothes I hadn’t in years. I felt good about that. I looked good again. I was in the smallest size clothing I could remember. I went from a size 14 to a size 6.

I started therapy. I learned to trust my gut. My instinct were right. I was having a normal reaction to bullshit. I had friends telling me the same; and once it got repeated I started to believe it.

The more I moved my body, I started letting go of things weighing me down. I started to feel good about me again.

I got happy and then I got involved in my health. I had someone ask me to help them on their journey and I got surrounded by a community. I  learned how to eat to fuel my body, and I learned that my mind needs to be fed with positive thoughts daily.

I decided. I decided it was okay for me to have a strong body. I decided it was okay to lose weight. I decided it was time to live for me.

Amazing things happened when I decided. I lost a total of twenty-two pounds and kept it off for two years.

I listen to podcasts. I keep a journal of my goals as if they already happened. I move my body six days a week for thirty minutes a day because my monkey brain needs it.

Some where on this journey for the past three years I learned that my mind and my attitude are a happier, less temperamental place when I move my body. I feel better.

I have a better outlook on life and I can play well with others.

I also fuel my body with healthy foods and keep junk out of my life. I have no room for negativity and I have no time for self hate.

This is my journey. I love who I am and who I am becoming. I am stronger physically and mentally.

I made the choice to do something for me.

Thank you for taking a walk with me.

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Move.

I watched my suitcase move down the conveyor belt and out of sight. I grabbed the ticket and headed through security. I didn’t smile. Not yet anyway. I made my through the throngs of people and took my seat. I had a first class ticket to New York. I looked out the window and smiled.

Move.

I didn’t know then what I was getting myself into. Like most instances in my life, this was purely spur of the moment and the need for more. I needed a change. I didn’t know how to get the change I needed where I was at the time; so I did what any twenty something year old does. I moved.

I moved away from my home, my family and everyone I knew.

What I learned in that year and half of living in another state and being completely out of my comfort zone is that nothing is possible unless I move. Also always have a designated driver, at least two girls who know how to change a flat tire, get a train schedule ahead of time  and always leave the bar together.

Move.

I taped the last box together and looked around. This move was hard. I had formed a bond with my sister in law. We were as close as sisters, but I had to move back. So my small little mini me finished packing and left for the airport.  We all cried that day I pulled away.

Family means everything to me. Fierce loyalty means finding someone who doesn’t back down when things get tough. This woman and me are as fierce as two people can be. She would go on to be my mentor and my guide through a storm; and to this day I cannot tell her or ever express to her how much her fierceness, love and sheer determination mean to me.

Move.

The sun beat down on us. We had been at this packing thing for a week. It was down to the last day. The sun was starting to set as I closed the door on my house.  The thought of moving away…again…was a scary thing. It wasn’t an easy decision and I had a little girl whose whole world was in that town. It was all she had ever known and I was about to move her from it all.

Move.

The move back to my home state was a hard one. At times a gut wrenching slide into the ditch as I tried to help my daughter navigate the newness of it all. She hated it. She wouldn’t tell me that. She kept it all tucked away for fear of hurting me, but I knew. Her teachers knew. She missed her familiar home, her friends and her dad.

What she didn’t know or couldn’t understand is I had to move. I had to make the decision to better my life so I could better hers. I wasn’t taking away from her life, but trying to add to it.

Four years later and we have found some footing.  I don’t have that gut wrenching feeling of watching a car wreck and she has learned to move.

I had been in the middle of shit storm for so long, I didn’t have time for the mental break down I deserved. So because of that, I acted out like a teenager. I stayed out too often, I left her with my parents or my sister and I did whatever it was I wanted. Being selfish was a survival skill when I had been living someone else’s idea of life for so long, I had forgotten how to live.

Move.

Now I am packing again. We have outgrown this little space and I have grown too. I finally figured out who and what I want; and I am grateful he is brave enough to move too.

Move.

 

Cause I’m stuck on you, you’re stuck on me
I never gotta wonder where my honey be
I ain’t savin’ all my sugar for a Saturday night
Seven days a week I got an appetite
The sunsets like a tangerine
Let’s find a road we’ve never seen
Don’t waste another mile or a minute not kissin’ me
Life is short, make it sweet
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Boots.

Every girl has a pair of boots.  Tall or short.  We all have that one pair of boots that make us feel like we have our shit together.

I sat contemplating as I was driving. I looked down at my attire. Hoodie, comfortable levis and my feet lazily stuck in my Ariat Fat Baby  boots. I smile in the rear view mirror and I remember.

I found a letter the other day. Not just any letter mind you.

The letter of  “Hey this being married thing….it isn’t working…for me. You’re great. But not for me. So let’s be friends?”

Okay so it didn’t go like that exactly, but it sounds way better than the real life version. Now I can look back and say thank you. I didn’t know it then, but I had just been given a gift.

I shift a little in my seat. When you don’t know where you’re going, any destination will do. Once upon a time, I was a passenger in my life. I was letting someone else do all the driving. I was busy reading the map and handing out snacks.

I shift in my seat. I look down at the relaxed sway of my leg resting against the door.

My boots.

Never thought something could be so deep over boots, but every bit of that is true_

 

I had a pair of  tall Louis Vuitton boots. The were soft supple leather with a nice heel. They fit my foot like a glove.  They made me feel like someone who had their shit together.

I look back down at my Fat Baby boots.

I have had these going on twelve years. They are comfortable and easy to wear. They don’t fit very well in a stirrup. They slow me up running down a shoot, but they are trustworthy and sturdy.

I had walked down one aisle of boots three times. I picked up a pair and smelled them. New leather. New boot. I touched the top and looked at the bottom. The color wasn’t right. I walked around another corner and looked at the tan colored boots. They had a little texture but they weren’t snake skin or ostrich. They were shorter than my normal pick. I picked them and smelled them. I looked the down the row and pulled out a box. Size 8.5. I put them in the cart and walked to the cashier. I didn’t need to try them on. I knew they were mine.

The girl that bought those boots was looking for something. She needed direction. She needed her roots. She didn’t know it at the time, even though it was hard, she was going to need to pull herself up by her boot straps and get on with this thing called living.

To my next contestant More

Everyone has lost someone,  ended a relationship, or thought they couldn’t go on after a situation in life has left them broken. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. We all have a story. We all have a time and place in life where we had to pull ourselves up by finding the one thing that has always brought us comfort and strength.

For some us raised in the dirt and the muck, that’s a pair of boots. It reminds me of where I am from, what I made of and just how many times I can get thrown in the dirt and get up smiling.

Can a pair of boots do all that? Yes. A pair of boots can do all that.

 

 

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Sunnies.

I started stripping off my clothes in the car. It was a hot summer day and I had grass stuck to me every where. Yes, I mean every where. My legs were sweaty  on the seat. I had all the windows rolled down and the radio up too loud. I had one thing on my mind.

Swimming.

When you grow up in the middle of no where, back yard swimming pools are hard to come by.  But we had a river and when it was running just right, jumping off that bridge didn’t seem so far, and it felt perfect after a day of cutting down hay.

I had taken the afternoon shift in a red swather (or windrower). The seat was hot and the only shade was a small umbrella. I never drew the straw to be in the air conditioned cab. No, only the best for me. I didn’t mind.  The sound of the engine and the constant motion of the sickle bar put me in a spell.  I ate dirt and swallowed more bugs than I’d like to think about, but I had a plan. I was swimming with my besties  as soon as this half of the field was down.

One more row.

I don’t remember how old I was this particular summer. I was some place in between too young but just old enough to be a little more independent.  I knew I had to be home  a little after dark, but in summer that sun stays up just a little longer just for nights like this. Especially when I was meeting my best friend and we were just swimming, giggling. and dangling our feet off a bridge. Floating.
I can’t tell you a single thing we talked about that time. I am sure it was boy related.

Now decades later, I am driving my baby girl to school, working a full time desk job and trying to be the grown up the world says I need to be. I am trying to save money. I listen to all the podcasts and I am reading everything.  Adulting is exhausting.

It’s been a minute since I dangled my feet off a bridge with water dripping off my legs with my best friends sitting right next to me and some days it feels like yesterday.

When you hear that little voice whisper, just do it. Just listen to it a little more. Be a little less concerned with walking the straight line of adulthood. Remember what it was like to scream into the open and take that jump into the muddy water.

I am still the girl dreaming of meeting her besties at the bridge. Cheap sunglasses, bad tan lines and windows rolled down.

I am patiently waiting for Summer on this first day of May.  I can feel her coming. She’s taking her sweet time. Montana is known to have her own weather pattern. She is a stern parent and some times she likes to remind you she makes the rules. So up here, we learn to be grateful for when that warm sunshine starts to beat down on us.

I keep my shades up on my dash now and I wait.  I wait for that pull to remember what it felt like to feel  summer; rolled down windows, cheap sunglasses and Keystone Light. T-tops and late night phone calls to my parents saying I was going to be late; and yes, I knew where my sister was! I just had to go pick her up……..

 

 

 

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Gypsy.

I’m a little sleepy today. My kid, my only child, my apple of my eye, was up most of the night with stomach issues. You know, the one where they stand in the door and say something vague like,

“Mom, I don’t feel so good.”

Those words were followed by me trying to wake up and ask all the right questions.

“Do you have to throw up? Does your stomach hurt? Does it hurt or is it a stabbing pain? Do you have a fever?” Rapid fire mom questions to get to root of the problem when my brain feels like a dumpster fire.

The answers were very vague. She mostly just needed me to go through all the questions and look for solutions while being asleep. She didn’t have a fever and the stomach was more nausea. So back to sleep she went as I made my way to get her Gatorade and look for medicine I didn’t have.

Now where was I?

Oh yes. I was thinking about faking it through tough situations. I was thinking about how some times you don’t have all the answers to the questions.

I have never thought of any of my tough situations were unique. It was shit. I understand that much, but my friend had her shit too. That’s how we got through it. We found each other on a trail. We shared food and got caught up watching sun beams.

I would say most of my life has not gone as planned. I think I am too much of a dreamer, so I don’t always make a plan.  I am more of a gypsy than I would like to admit, and so I float along in a caravan lead by unicorns.
I always believe in the best in people. I think you should absolutely root for them to win.

I am also becoming a realist. Not everyone is going to be cheering for me as often or as loud.

I have learned that some people are not going to be the best version of themselves. I have learned that I cannot save people from themselves. I have learned that I can be the bitch in their story and that’s okay.

I have also learned that some times the best thing to do is nothing at all and let Karma sort it out. I have also learned that I can be Karma.

Not having a plan has also set me free. I am not so set in my way that I haven’t learned to switch directions or take a back road when necessary. Barefoot, a breeze running through my hair, and maybe a little smirk.

The spark in my eyes, it’s there to remind you I know a little more than you think I do.

In my  twenties, I was more of a people please-er  and maybe not so sure of who I was; I had a rude awakening in my thirties. Now in my forties, I am more me.  I just need a reminder that it’s okay to take a back road every now and again. The view may be just what I need.

I have to remind myself we are all out here trying to live our best life. No matter what that looks like.

Today that looks like I didn’t work out, tried to eat better and stay away from sugar. I stayed off the scale, stayed home with my sick child, and worried about my adult responsibilities. I did get my floor swept, dishes done, and laundry sorted.

I think I showered. I know I didn’t wash my hair. That’s okay. I am a gypsy. We believe in dry shampoo, bare feet, Pluto in retrograde, and sage.

 

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Connection.

I’m flying today. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the company.

Today I’m going to give myself some grace to enjoy the travel and not put so much pressure on myself to keep up with appearances.

For me this means putting down my phone, making eye contact with strangers and smiling at everyone. Seems simple enough, but I like to hide behind my phone and do the scroll.

We all need more connection in our lives. We get so consumed with our own wants, needs and desires we forget that there are others in our world around us that value our attention as well.

It takes extraordinarily amount of strength for someone to reach out and say, “I’m not doing so good today.”

A connection.

I think we need more of that. We live in the highlight reel of life enough. I can post all day long about how amazing my work out was; because it is. However, I probably won’t let you know I didn’t want to get up and I cried through most of it. I did get through it, so that highlight goes up for the world to see.

A how are you or you’re doing so amazing goes a long way.

I don’t get much conversations in with my daughter, but we have those 10 minute car rides and after we connect when I get home. We buzz and catch up. She’s very talkative right now and I love hearing her day retold and things she finds super funny. She is thoughtful and caring friend, and I love how she is becoming her own person.

Mostly I love our connection.

So as we move and buzz about our day, take some time to look up from your own train of thought and the scroll, and say hi. I know I will. Maybe smile too.

The world needs more connection. The human kind.

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Strong.

I had hit the ground. Hard. I didn’t tuck and roll, I was 6. Girls, I have been told, need to work on their get off. The ground isn’t forgiving.   The black horse took off and I sat there staring up at the blue sky. It wasn’t the last time I would get dismissed off a horse, but it was the one that I remember the most.

I also remember I had to get back up in the saddle. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. I was a long way from home. Up I went and I think I made it home. I don’t remember the trip that time. I think I was too young and I was too stunned.

That’s the first time I learned to be physically strong.

I loved the high jump in track. I still don’t get it really. I mean you have to run in a certain pattern to a bar, plant your foot, and fling your body at an odd angle over a bar to land on a mat.  Each time the height of the bar raising and testing your ability,  if you got it wrong, the bar hit you hard; but, at least the mat eased the impact.

What I did love is the is the competition was all in me. I had to decide to go for it. I had to decide whether I was going to win or lose. It was just me against that bar.

The first few times of hitting the bar always set me back. It didn’t hurt. It was a mental game. I had to be stronger than the bar. I had to know I could make it over the bar or I wouldn’t. Every time I let thinking about it interfere with the process of doing it, I would lose.

I had to learn to be mentally strong.

One of my favorite men died when I was 19. When my mom called to tell me I was home alone in my apartment and she had asked me to maybe call someone to be with me. I was puzzled by that and when she told me I simply hung up the phone, went to my room and got the quilt his sister had made me for my graduation and wrapped it around me. Popi, as we all called him, always let me come along on little day trips I invited myself on. I would happily crawl into the back of the camper,  stare out the window to wherever he decided he and Grandma were going. I didn’t care. I just knew I had to go. Mostly to Medora ND and the night show. He also believed in ice cream and taught us all to stir with your spoon until you had this perfect milk shake like mix in your bowl. And most importantly, he always made us all feel like we were the very best people.

When he passed away suddenly one day while sitting in his chair, I had to learn to be heart strong.

Strong.

I have fallen, I have fallen apart and I have been crushed. I got up. I dusted myself off and put on a band aid. I have gotten up after being mentally strung out. And I have sure as fuck got up after being heart broke. I am not saying it wasn’t tough. Some days it took everything I had to get out of bed.

Physically, mentally and heart tired.

Strong.

The one thing I have always had is my spirit. I am feisty as fuck. I am born into a family that doesn’t have one ounce of quit in them. I was always taught to stand up for yourself or for others and always do what’s right.  I have gotten lost along this path we call life and some days, I really needed a road map (ironically I have no sense of direction) and I am blessed I have wise friends that step in and redirect my steps, shake me mentally, and give me a hug.

Strong.

Life can be lonely. Yes, I have family. Yes, I have a tribe. A squad. A clan. BUT at the very end of every single day I have to be able to stand up and look in the mirror; I have to be able to square my shoulders, dust myself off and listen to my heart beat. I know that even though they will gather around me, protect me, and lift me; they won’t be there every time I open my eyes. Strength to get up, to learn, to grow comes from me.

My spirit.

So I carry lessons with me. Lessons on how even when I took that corner too fast on my huffy blue and yellow bike and got road rash, I  straightened out and tried it again until I leaned into that curve the road rose up to meet me  and pushed me along. Lessons on how to not over think every time the bar gets raised, but rather to re-count my steps and go for it. Lessons on how when my heart gets broke, I remember the times that made me smile and leave the rest.

Strong.

 

 

 

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Doubt.

Did I make the right decision?

I shrug my shoulders.

Before that question would have left me paralyzed in fear, today I shrug my shoulders and usually say, “Fuck it.”

I might smile too. (so did you just now.)

But that Doubt.

Doubt is a sonofabitch. It comes in like that snobby girl in class, flipping her hair over her shoulder and looking down at me with that sneer  on her face. She doesn’t have anything to say, really, just whispers to her friends and laughs.

I check my shirt for stains and I have the urge to run to the bathroom to see if I have food on my face.

Nope. She’s just a bitch.

Someone getting inside your head is one thing, but the decision to let them live there is another.

Doubt.

Decisions use to be hard for me. I was always afraid I was making the wrong one. Guess what? No decision is still a decision.  I was also constantly afraid I was going to make someone mad for making the decision.

Or not making one.

Ugh! Doubt.

Again. There she is over there in the corner of the party. She is watching me again. She is waiting and there it is. She tipped her head back and  laughed.

This bitch.

I fight the urge to run to the bathroom and check my clothes.

When does this thing called doubt appear. It certainly wasn’t with me when I was 3 years old banging out the screen door with my dog to go on adventures. I didn’t question my ability to climb bales and when I got older; I don’t remember ever questioning if I should get on that horse my dad swore was “just a little green.” (Hint: they were always a lot green.)

Doubt appears when I’m trying to be someone else to please someone else. A boss, coworker, friend and family; we have all tried to mold ourselves to fit someone else version of us.

No doubt appears when I let other people’s perception of me gets into my head. When this has happened in the past,  I took it all personally. Today I might have a 30 minute game delay, but I realize it tends to be a “them” problem and not a “me” problem.
That’s okay, not everyone can have good taste, so  fuck it.

Back to that bitch doubt.

I think I have it together today. Except my smile. It’s still too big and my laugh is still too loud.

That bitch doutbt is over there nodding her head.

So I think it’s time to confront her.

My smile is too big. I like to smile it’s kinda my thing.
My laugh is also too loud. That’s because joy is contagious and should be shared.

My decisions are what made me who I am today.

A strong, fierce bitch who would do anything for those I love.

I don’t think, no I know, I wasn’t given all this spirit and perseverance just to constantly have someone try to break me. To make me doubt my worth or abilities, there are plenty times in my day when I feel just that.

I look up at doubt and square my shoulders , I stand just a little taller and give her a wink.

I flip my hair and walk away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Progress.

I’m writing this later than normal. I am really good at the last minute panic thing. I usually need the control over the last minute panic. I need to put on my headphones, pick out the right music and find the muse.  Some times she doesn’t talk, she whispers, so it’s important to listen.

My writing has always been as easy as breathing. I see in pictures and my imagination catches me off guard some days and before I know it I  have written and acted a whole play out in my head.

The problem is with my progress. I start. I start again and I hear my muse and she only takes me so far. I use to think why did that character stop talking to me?

Now I know.

My muse said let me start you; but you have to take it from here.

She was guiding me but also pushing me. I have to say my fear of what I can actually do with my craft stopped my progress.

I could say the same with my health and fitness journey.  I had always been heavy? No that’s not true. I could eat whatever I wanted my whole life and suddenly….stop.  I gained weight. Probably more than I liked to admit. You know how it is.

I lost weight. I did it healthy. I worked out 3 days a week and didn’t eat everything I saw during the day. I was fit and I felt good. Big problem was I didn’t learn to eat. I knew what I liked….mashed potatoes with some gravy and maybe a biscuit. You feel me?!

Then one day two years ago I stopped and I decided not to be scared. I became determined.

I found something that worked for me. I found motivation for me.  I became determined. I decided that I could be who ever I wanted to be.  I found out how to fuel my body, how to eat, and a motivating program that worked for me.  I was determined I wouldn’t let the fear of who I could be stop me.

Two years and  twenty-two pounds still off;  I give myself grace for days I eat all the things, because life is short and I like cheesecake.

Days I can chest press fifty pounds for four sets, I cheer and I am proud of the girl who didn’t give up on herself.

Days I hear the muse and let her talk to me before I tell her she can go, like tonight, that too is progress.

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Spring.

The sunshine hits your face and the temperature starts to climb.

Spring. She shows up just when you have lost all hope. Winter seems never ending and we all feel that push.

We’re in a rush to reach for the sun.

I’ve always said Fall is my favorite season. It’s when I was born. I love the leaves and the hoodie season, but recently I have started to appreciate Spring for the sweet spot it is.

Spring.

I hate change. Did we discuss this already? I feel like we have. Let’s go over it again. Change sucks. It makes me anxious over things I can’t control.

However, change is becoming a theme

Much of change is wrapped in perfection. If I just arrange the notebooks just right before I start; than I can write. Or if I just lose these pesky 5 lbs; than I will start my work out program. See what I mean? Perfection.

Spring doesn’t wait for the conditions to be perfect. It just starts. Birds start singing louder and the flowers start to push through. They aren’t waiting on perfection.

I struggle with the start. I overthink, rethink, reorganize and talk myself out of projects because of the perfection.

Spring man, it shows up and I begin to think that I get a fresh start too. I get the chance to jump start my bucket list, think about running (no I don’t. I don’t ever think about running.), what would happen if I didn’t eat that piece of chocolate cake or what if I did start writing my novel.

Have you ever found a flower growing in the oddest place? You have right? It stopped you and you starred in wonder at this little bud reaching for the sun. No matter what. Let’s face it, you smiled a little too right? You admire it’s bravado. Why? It gives you that little ray of hope. It reminds you that if this little bud can burst through the crack in the Earth, so can you.

Spring.

Whatever has been on your mind all winter long, it’s time to start. You’ve got everything in you to push through the dirt and reach for the sun.