PCH Road Trip: Seattle to San Diego

The Pacific Coast Highway, commonly known as the PCH, is a stretch of road that covers 656 miles along the Pacific Ocean.

And I want to drive that sucker from top to bottom.

A simple text from a friend ignited this specific trip planning. She merely said she wanted to travel somewhere together, but I got so excited at the thought of planning a vacay, I go into hypermode.

Immediately my mind is racing, “What can we do that is Covid Kosher?

Rooooad trip! Road trips are totally Covid Kosher, and if we travel somewhere that has consistently great weather, we have the option to camp (or glamp) to further minimize our impact.

Driving wise, I immediately think of the PCH.

I truly adore the West Coast. My first taste was a work trip to Seattle that lasted nearly three weeks, and I drank it all in. Mt. Rainier stole my heart, the Pacific Northwest Pine Trees gave every other tree I’ve ever seen in my life a run for their money. I was hooked and could easily see myself bouncing from NYC and shipping over to Seattle for a few years.

Then a few more work trips over the last few years have sent me to LA, Santa Monica, Malibu, & Santa Barbara causing me to get even more hooked on the West Coast. Basking in the beachy vibes, the views, but most importantly – the PCH drives through Malibu. Holy crap were these drives nothing short of enchanting. I often had a hard time focusing on the road and found myself distracted by the mountains to one side and the ocean to the other. It felt surreal, just to consistently be driving by such iconic views.

So in sorting out what made sense for this road trip, I took what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned from additional work-related research, and boom – the below locations were decided.

PRO TIP: make this trip international by making your start Vancouver and your end Baja

. . .

Now, here is where things get a bit different with this article. I’m not going to breakdown my personal plans for each city and give you insight on my research, blah, blah, blah. No, I’m going to ask you to come with me on this journey.

Whether it be metaphorically, or physically – I want you, curious reader, to help me plan out this trip.

I’ve started an excel document which you have full access to in order to make this a shared process. I encourage you to add in some links to must see spots in the cities we’re visiting – whether it’s tourist traps, hiking trails, cool shops, great bars, or hole in the wall restaurants… drop those links in! Maybe add in suggestions that some cities deserve a longer visit… it’s up to you!

You might be wondering, “Why would I meddle with her travel documents?” Guys, I have an original copy with my intended plans, but I want your recs too! Maybe this is the first step in your very own PCH road trip with friends or family and this can be a resource you guys use 😉

Click here to go to excel

**excel tip: in order to stay in the same box, but get text to drop (list like formatting) hit ALT+ENTER and it will start a new line within the same cell (best for if you want to add any notes to your recs)

Click here to go to google maps

Airport Tips and Tricks

It’s that time of year, folks! The holidays are coming, which means that most of us will soon be heading home. Maybe you’re lucky enough to be able to drive back to your hometown, but to those of you (like me) who cannot, you have a dreadful flight ahead of you. Not to mention the extra concerns you have to think about due to COVID. Here’s the truth: no matter how much fun it is when you get to your destination, you must first go through airport hell. I’ve compiled a list of tips that can make your trip a bit easier, internationally OR within your country.

1) Vegetarian


No, I’m not saying to stop eating meat.  That’s just crazy.  I like a good hamburger as much as the next person, but listen:  When you’re on an international flight with a hot meal included, resist the urge to order the meat.  When the lady comes around and asks, “Chicken or vegetarian?” ORDER THE VEGETARIAN.  You know why?  That chicken is going to have the consistency of rubber and the taste of plastic and your vegetarian lasagna is going to be cheesy and spinachy and everything good in the world.  So trust me, meat eaters, vegetarian plane food is worth it.

2) Window Seat


I’ve always chosen the window seat, but sometimes you can’t help what seat you’re given.  However, if you do have the option, GO FOR THE WINDOW. In this seat, you can decide when the blinds are closed or open (we all know that asshole that leaves the window blinds open the whole time and the sun shines perfectly into your retina when you finally get comfortable enough to sleep). Speaking of sleep, when you have the window seat, you are given more options to find that (limited) comfort you require to do so. There’s the wall to lean on, for one. You can also put down your tray table and lay your head on that, in the traditional school-desk-napping style, without blocking your neighbors from the bathroom. HOWEVER, if you have the pleasure to sit by the window, don’t look out the window when you’re over the ocean. I don’t care how macho you are…looking out into a vast sea of emptiness can make you hyperventilate faster than the amount of time it takes for that adorable baby next to you to stop being adorable because it’s screaming its head off.

3) The Security Line


I have a few pointers to help make the security line less annoying.


-Hats:  Don’t wear them for your flight.  I get it; they’re cute and cosy!  But as soon as you get in line you have to remove said hat and your hair is not going to be okay. Trust me.


-Shoes:  You have to remove your shoes in line and I’ve learned the hard way to never wear your lace up combat boots or your converse that are tied so tight that you can’t slip them on and off.  You’ll be holding up the line and fumbling and throwing things everywhere…just wear something easy to remove and put back on.

-Water Bottle: I always carry a water bottle with me because hydration is important (duh!), but I’ve made one mistake a thousand times– leaving water in my bottle when going through airport security.  I know you can’t have liquids, so I’m forced to chug an entire bottle of water in about a minute so that I can keep my reusable bottle.  It’s kind of like an episode of Fear Factor: drown yourself in drinking water in an airport.  So don’t do that.  Also, why don’t I just throw the bottle away?? Because buying a new one in the airport is going to cost me $20 and I’m not about to waste that.  Just bring an empty water bottle through and refill it on the other side.

-Carry on liquids: You should all know that there’s a limit to how much liquid you can have in your carry on. However, don’t forget to put them in a Ziplock before you leave home! Some airports keep these baggies on hand for you, but many do not. Therefore, say goodbye to your tiny hand sanitizer and lotions. OH and if you carry a purse or a small bag daily that you plan to bring on the flight, check for any over-sized bottles of liquid beforehand! I have lost SO many expensive creams, sprays and even cough syrups because I forgot they were in my purse and was forced to throw them away. Trust me, it’s not a good start to your travel experience.

4) Waiting to Board


This is so boring, right?  Sitting by yourself in an uncomfortable chair for hours is not something many people enjoy.  My advice is obvious:  take advantage of the wifi and for god’s sake remember your phone charger and head phones.  The most important thing I can tell you to do, though, is to talk to your traveling peers.  You’ll know who is willing to talk.  I’ve had many interesting conversations with people that I never would have met if it wasn’t for the waiting time at an airport.  It makes time go faster and also they’ll probably watch your bags so you can go pee without lugging your life along with you.  (PSA: don’t just trust anyone with your bags…use your intuition.  Most people have good intentions, like you.)

** 5) COVID

This section only applies to us “frequent fliers” while Coronavirus is a very real threat. Honestly though, I’m unsure if this will ever change. Anyway, in your taxi, in the airport and on the plane, WEAR YOUR F*%!ING MASK. Also, be sure to carry hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your carry on. Oh, and keep your distance from others, please! I won’t go into detail about why this is so important because I’m not your mom. I’ll end it with this: follow the guidelines.

Safe travels and happy holidays! xx

What I Learned Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 300+ Hours

A true gift from this shithole year was Animal Crossing. Originally released in 2001, AC has been popular amongst audiences for almost two decades; releasing in the US in 2002. With over 40 million units sold worldwide and five spinoff games, there is clearly something for everyone to love and learn from Animal Crossing. 

The newest game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, released worldwide in the beginning of 2020 on the Nintendo Switch, eight years after the previous AC game release. A perfect storm of social distancing and much needed entertainment brought AC:NH to new heights, with over 5 million downloads in the first month alone. So what’s so great about this game?

First and foremost, I am not an avid video game player nor am I a good video game player. I typically get bored after a few gaming sessions, having only completed two games prior (s/o We Happy Few and BioShock!). But I love AC:NH and have spent 310 hours playing over the last six months. This is what I learned while playing AC:NH. 

Game Premise 

You embark on a deserted island getaway and are able to create, morph and design your perfect island over time. You have residents that move to your island, along with shops, seasonal events and more to experience. Thanks to your raccoon overlord, Tom Nook, you start the getaway in debt, but don’t worry, you’re able to pay it off quickly. 

What I Learned

First Homesite; Island 1

Daily tasks are necessary – in the game and life.

As a person who’s struggled with heavy depression on and off for a decade, sometimes the essential tasks like cleaning, laundry or eating can be a burden. In AC:NH, your character is rewarded for doing simple things like picking up sticks, clearing weeds or chopping down trees. Being able to make a character push through mundane tasks made it a little easier to force myself to get out of bed and do laundry.


If you’re unhappy, restart.

New Campsite; Island 1

I spent almost 275 hours building an island which is roughly 12 full days. I received the coveted 5-star rating on accident at around 180 hours and was seriously unhappy. I really didn’t like my island – I started playing without knowing the purpose, creating a mismatched, haphazardly built island that I really wasn’t enjoying. So I restarted. Erased all that work and started over. That same principle can be applied to each of us every single day. If we’re unhappy with something – our attitude, mindset, exercise level, whatever – we can change that. Hit the restart button until you’re at ease and at peace with yourself. 


Everything changes and that’s okay.

Celebrating Summer; Island 1

You can build a perfect utopia from top to bottom, but inevitably something will change that you have no control over – like the seasons. AC:NH is set to recreate the seasons of your hemisphere, changing the available DIY crafts, ingredients and overall landscape of your island. This is not something that can be fought, but merely accepted. I do not enjoy change as a person, but playing this game has surprisingly made it a little easier to accept. (An overexaggerated reaction, but a good example nonetheless). 


Sometimes, people you love leave.

5-Star Status; Island 1

When you start your island, there are two other islanders who spawn with you. You’re able to interact with your islanders and swap gifts, etc. throughout the game. However, sometimes your islander will decide that it’s time for them to move on to another island. At first, I hated when islanders would want to leave – because I wanted them to stay with me. But just like in real life, sometimes you have to let people go so that they can be the best versions of themselves. Or alternatively, you need to let them go because they’re not good for you anymore (cough*Curlos*cough).


Just because my island looked different than others, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Yoga by some trees; Island 2

A fun perk in AC:NH is that you’re able to visit other islands, deserted or inhabited, to trade or simply see a friend’s design. After watching a few of those 5-star island tours on Youtube though, I was feeling pretty dejected about my shabby island. Who cares? As long as I like my island and it functions for me, then it doesn’t matter. The same principle should apply to regular life too. Who cares if I’m not the same size, personality or type as someone else? It shouldn’t matter as long as I’m happy with myself. 


People can be jerks, but that doesn’t mean you should put up with it.

Turkey Day; Island 2

AC:NH contains over 400 characters that you could randomly meet or interact with. The characters are grouped by a personality trait: normal, peppy, sisterly, snooty, cranky, jock, lazy and smug. Snooty and smug villagers can be annoying to deal with, especially when they’re being rude towards other characters. You do have limited control of kicking people off the island if you so choose. There’s no reason to keep villagers or people in your life if they bring you down. Surround yourself with those who bring happiness. 


For anyone that’s looking to kill some time as we move towards another potential lockdown, maybe give Animal Crossing: New Horizons a chance. With bright colors, cute characters and a mostly stress-free gameplay, this can be a great escape for anyone experiencing heightened anxiety from lockdowns, COVID-19 or just the day to day stress of life. Spend your time fishing in lakes or growing flowers or diving for sea creatures.

Coming to a Podcast Near You

Alex here with some exciting news about “Whatcha Thinkin’?” Season Two! I’m going in a new direction with the show, things are going to get a bit more personal…

During my Introducing Me episode, I mentioned I’m on the autism spectrum (Aspergers Syndrome or Aspie for short) and I’ve decided that I want to do an episode about Aspergers. Not enough people know what Aspergers truly is, or how it impacts my daily life.

With this new season of “Whatcha Thinkin?“, I’m focusing on Aspergers and sharing how I’ve overcome obstacles such as college life, dating, being engaged, job hunting/job interviews, and the current global pandemic. I’m going to share some tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years that help me thrive in everyday life.

Click the link below to check out the trailer for Season Two!

How My Mom Prepared Me for the Covid Era

Standing in line at CVS, I glance down to ensure I’m perfectly placed on the red dot – maintaining adequate social distance from the person in front of me. I don’t know them, I don’t know their story, most importantly I don’t know when they last sanitized their hands.

After they’ve received their bag with the receipt inside, I patiently wait for the cashier to sanitize the surface before calling me forward. I drop down my items, which are an array of nail polish and a cute first aid kit – super handy to slip into my purse – and I watch as each item is scanned and tossed in a bag. Once all of the items are accounted for, the cashier asks for a phone number – which I quickly recite by heart.

Nicole?” they ask.

I pause for a moment before it sets in, if there’s ever been any week in my entire life where I can confidently say I am my mother.. it is certainly this one. I smile, not that it can be seen beneath my thick mask, and respond, “Yep, that’s me.

. . .

Recently I was in California for work, and this is where I got to put my Covid Officer certification to use. I was onsite to primarily enforce proper sanitization and go the extra mile to ensure we were doing all we could onsite to prevent the spread.

It was almost startling how natural it felt to me to enforce all of those little preventative actions. You know, the ones that are seemingly hard for most of the population? The cough in your elbow or shoulder, wash your hands, stay away from buffets or shared food in general, always have hand sanitizer on you… wipe down high contact surfaces repeatedly…

But these small things, I’ve realized, are just the tip of the iceberg on the little hacks my moderately-germophobic mother raised my sister and I on. I’ve now had two productions I’ve been a Covid Officer on, and each time I asked the person in charge, “How high do you want me to turn up the volume, because I can turn it up real high or be more moderate…” but what I was really asking is “How much of my mother do you want to see come out?

Some of my favorite mom highlights and rules growing up:

MOM RULE ONE:

DON’T SHARE DRINKS OR FOOD

MOM RULE TWO:

DON’T TOUCH HIGH CONTACT SURFACES WITH YOUR BAREHANDS UNLESS GIVEN NO OTHER CHOICE…

MOM RULE THREE:

KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN ALWAYS

Honestly, what is most hysterical about my mom being such a germaphobe and coming off very… high strung up above, is that growing up she still maintained ‘cool mom’ status. My fave mom quote ever is, “What I cannot see, I cannot prevent…” and not to mention my mom always helped me throw the most fun and memorable parties growing up.

So this is to say – you can be fun, cool, and have all the party vibes in the world… but still practice being sanitized, being aware of how germs and sickness can so easily spread, and do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

. . .

The 5 by 5 Rule & Selective Energy

I tend to live life in the gray. Meaning, I’ve never fully felt like an extrovert, nor an introvert, I’m not full blown OCD about things, but I am Type A – it’s my way, or the highway (most of the time) but I guess that’s the Taurus in me. Yet, I do firmly say it’s only my way most of the time, because I actually strive to find compromises with people so everyone can be happy… but one thing I incessantly struggle with?

I usually get worked up over the tiniest of things.

This reverts back to the whole Type A thing, when I have a certain way of doing things, and I communicate this “amazingly perfect” way to others – I assume they will hop on board and think, “Oh yes, wise Emily, your way is spectacular I wish I had always known this manner of doing this task! I will now and forever do it this way!” But the crazy thing is, most people don’t automatically hop on my bus. They can see in the moment how great, efficient, and fluid my way is… but it’s not their vibe. They have their own preferred way and *deep breath* I have to accept that.

Something someone had told me years ago was the 5 by 5 rule:

“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes upset by it.

And honestly, up until like three days ago, this rule always bugged the crap out of me. It would make me want to yank my hair out and scream, “I CAN’T THINK ABOUT FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, MAYBE I WILL STILL BE BITTER THAT THE WRONG FONT WAS USED FOR THAT THING. DON’T TELL ME TO REDIRECT MY ENERGY!”

But this is the thing, little “errors” like spacings, or fonts, or filters, or scheduling genuinely could get me worked up. Like, I have explicitly laid out this yellow brick road for you Dorothy, why are you rollin’ down that red path?!

But you know what? If Dorothy wants to drift and do her own thing, that’s her business.

This whole crazy covid life we live has really put the 5 by 5 Rule in perspective. I can tell you right now that any of the stressing I did in 2015 has no business in my 2020 mind, and I can only assume that 2025 will have its own problems and its own blessings (trying to stay positive here).

The world is already so messy right now, don’t let the mess take over your head. Especially with the current happenings, the scary unknowns, don’t waste your time stressing on small things – focus on the big picture, the stuff that matters, and when the little things start to get under your skin, put the 5 by 5 Rule as the background vibe in your mind and turn your immediate focus to a tangible beauty for a few minutes.

A tangible beauty being something like absorbing the sunshine (even just sitting in front of your window), a quick laydown in your comfy bed, a slow walk around the neighborhood… find a tangible beauty in life to replace the current irritations attempting to dig roots into your skin.

Don’t feed the beast – it’s so, so easy to feed it. But imagine what feeding the beast could do, with each angry bone you toss it, the thing grows and grows, and what does that do to your inner child? Have you ever seen a child excited for the company of a terrifyingly rude and ruthless beast? One that could scream at them for the littlest of things?

Nope? Didn’t think so.

Don’t misunderstand, the big thing I’m not saying is “Don’t stress – ever!” Stress is inevitable, being totally carefree is hard and anyone who seems carefree all the time… or says they’re carefree all the time… is probably full of BS. But what they’re doing right (maybe) is not sweating the small stuff, they only stress about the things worth stressing about.

Ultimately, when you catch yourself getting worked up and overwhelmed, think about the 5 by 5 Rule, yes – but mostly choose where your energy goes.

Sometimes it’s as simple as firmly saying to yourself, “I’m not going to give into this stress. I’m not going to give into this situation. This is not my vibe, this is not worth my precious time and energy.

. . .

Skincare for Mask Wear

Wearing a mask sucks but it’s necessary right now. And by necessary, I mean NECESSARY. Don’t be one of those people. Ok — I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Because of all this mask wear my skin is sufferiiiiing. Taking it off everyday feels better than taking my stupid bra off, and that’s saying a lot. Luckily, I learn lots of great info about skincare in my day job that I’m excited to share with you!

One of the main issues I’ve dealt with is how it’s causing more breakouts for people. Yes, there are many different types of acne. However, I’ve found that wearing a mask has given me a lot more issues than I normally have. Things like cystic acne, a city of tiny whiteheads, and heat bumps have set up camp all over the lower half of my face. RUDE.

I know I’m not alone! So I’m diving into some of my favorite products that have been helping my face adjust to this new normal.


First things first — cleanser. Washing your face at least once a day is crucial to maintaining a healthy skincare routine. And you MUST take your makeup off at night! This absolutely cannot be argued.

**Pro-Tip if you have to/choose to wear makeup every day: only wear it on the upper half of your face that’s not covered by the mask to prevent more bacteria from creeping into your precious pores**

Now, I have dry skin, so I normally only wash my face at night and do a quick rinse in the morning to prevent over-drying. If you’ve got more oily/combination skin, that might not be the case for you.

Either way, this is my current holy grail cleanser:

YOUTH TO THE PEOPLESuperfood Antioxidant Cleanser, $36

This gentle, fairly fragrance-free cleanser is great for makeup removal as well as being a badass every day face wash. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins C, K, and E, and more. Plus it’s alcohol free so it doesn’t leave your skin feeling dried out.


If you’re balling on a budget, I feel you. This Clean Skin Gel is an amazing cleanser + toner that also removes makeup while leaving your skin feeling nice and clean. The best part: it’s only $10!


Next I’d recommend either some type of toner or serum to apply after cleansing in the evening so your skin can soak in all that goodness overnight.

DRUNK ELEPHANT – T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum, $90

I absolutely love this stuff. It’s pretty powerful, so I only use it 2-3 times a week. It’s main focus is to resurface congested skin — but it also targets fine lines and wrinkles. I’d say a face covered by a mask all day definitely merits a serum for congested pores!


A budget-friendly alternative to this would 100% have to be Sephora’s Clarifying Serum for only $20.

It helps tame oiliness, uneven skin texture, and pores. The salicylic acid will exfoliate your skin overnight all while the hyaluronic acid moisturizes.


I could talk about skincare for ages, but I’ll end on the last step: MOISTURIZE, BITCH!

You don’t want crusty skin hanging out underneath that mask of yours. And listen up OILY-SKINNED SISTERS, you need to moisturize too! I don’t care if you think your skin oils keep you *moist* enough — that’s not the case and also that sounds gross, and you’re not gross. You just need a light-weight lotion that won’t clog your pores.

Remember, I’ve got more dry skin. For that I’d recommend:

PHILOSOPHY – Renewed Hope in A Jar Water Cream, $39

I will forever sing it’s praises. Once you rub it in, it literally melts LIKE WATER into your skin! It’s like a science project on your face.


For my loves with oilier skin, might I recommend:

OLEHENRIKSEN – C-Rush™ Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer, $46

Vitamin C lightens, brightens, and tightens your skin! This is a light gel cream that not only will keep you glowing, but also improves the look of your makeup over time.


There are plenty of other moisturizers you can choose that won’t break the bank as well. One of my most used:

SEPHORA COLLECTION – Nourishing Moisturizer, $17

This lotion smells sooOoOoOo good. It’s got avocado, marula, and rose hip seed oils included to keep you moisturized and nourished! Also, it’s good for all skin types because of the light and creamy formula.


I hope this helps! Keep in mind that a healthy skincare routine is v important all of the time, but especially right now while we’re all enduring #MaskGate.

Stay hydrated. Stay moisturized.

Daily Practices to Keep Your Vibe Lifted

In my previous blog I mentioned how I started implementing some new daily practices that have been life-changing. I am SO excited to share them with you!

A huge theme I have found for 2020 continues to be Uncertainty. How are we to cope and have any sense of normalcy when we’re only six months in and have already dealt with a world-wide pandemic, quarantines, natural disasters, deaths… you understand. And now all of a sudden we’re expected to return back to normal?! Well, let me tell you my friend, there is no normal. There never was. You just got complacent and then shit hit the fan. That shit being 2020.

We’ve got one life to live and we were made to thrive in it. Yes, bad things happen and they happen every day — how do you react to them? It’s only then that we find our true growth lies on the other side of that obstacle. These are a few practices I’ve started each day to re-center and make sure I’m high vibin’.

  • Set intentions first
    • Every morning when you first wake up, before you get out of bed, before you check social media, set your intentions for the day. How do you want to feel? What do you want to accomplish? Get your mind right and set those intentions so you’re able to hold yourself accountable if you happen to get off track.
  • Stretch
    • After you’re out of bed, streeeeeeeeeeeeetch that body out! Standing tall, feet apart, deep breath in and reach for the stars. Deep breath out, stretch down towards the toes and release all that stale energy. Stretch those arms, legs, neck, back, whatever you need. Get the body moving for that great day you’re about to have.
  • Meditate
    • THIS. Oh, this. Meditation has probably been the most impactful for me. Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer are just a few of many apps that have helped me get into a daily practice. I’m currently using Headspace because I like the playlists they have. All you need is 10 minutes a day… 10 minutes! My concentration and patience have improved immensely, plus I practice a few meditation tricks throughout the day when stress/anxious thoughts arise.
  • Manifesting and Affirmations
    • This is a close favorite next to meditation. ALL of your wants and desires can be yours! Believe it or not, you’ve been manifesting all your life without even knowing it. The reason you are where you are in life is due to the decisions you made to get to this point. As previously mentioned, I know that life throws us many curveballs, but how do you decide to swing? Is it a foul ball, or do you knock it out of the park? (…omg I just made a sports reference who am I…) But no, seriously.
    • For example, “This time next year I will be my own boss.” This is one that I say every day because it’s true! I’m working hard towards it and am 100% confident that I have everything in me to achieve it. Especially because I’m manifesting it every. single. day.
    • But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, you can manifest anything you desire as long as you truly believe. Act as if you already have it, how does that feel? Good, I’m sure. Stay in that high vibe and the universe will deliver when the time is right. It doesn’t even have to be something huge and magnificent, it can be as simple as a parking spot — I do this one quite a lot thanks to The Secret. I’ll have to write another blog on manifesting because I could talk about it all day.
    • Now to affirmations, these are great little pep talks I like to practice daily that have really changed my mindset. Words have A LOT of meaning, especially when you’re referring to yourself. A few I practice: “I am confident,” “I accept myself for who I truly am,” “I am love,” “I am light,” you get the idea. You can search affirmations for confidence, anxiety, money, anything!
  • Being grateful
    • At the end of every day whether it be in my phone, notebook, or just to myself, I list at least three things I’m grateful for. Gratefulness instantly lifts you because you’re forced into a more positive mindset. Plus, being grateful can only bring about MORE wonderful things to be grateful for!

These are just a few of many new practices I’ve been incorporating into my life to make it 100x better. Don’t get complacent. Your life doesn’t have to suck. Let’s help ourselves first so we can put our best foot forward in helping others. Together we can all see with new eyes.

Dead Parents + Pandemic = Forgiveness

I’ve never been suicidal, but I have been incredibly sad. Like… so sad I wanted to die.

This is how I overcame that.

My mom died in 2005. I adored her. You know how kids sometimes ask each other, “who do you like more, your mom or your dad?” I chose her every time.

Some time before that my parents divorced and grandparents gained custody of little sister and me. My mom passed due to drug and alcohol overdose and my dad had his own demons: drugs and alcohol included. I never had any sort of stable father-daughter relationship, (but really, is that even a thing?). Long story short, I feel like I never had “parents”. My Nana and Pappaw were, and still are, my parents. And for that I will be FOREVER grateful.

Cut to October of 2019 — my dad lost his battle to cancer.

I felt the need to do a lot of forgiving before he passed but had no idea how. He was in hospice, and how could I sit in front of this comatose man to tell him that I truly forgive him when there could be no possibility of ever having a normal relationship again?

Yeah, he said he’d change. One, two, 500 times. But he couldn’t, and now it’s too late. There is no way he could deep dive back into his childhood, moving from toddler – to kid – to teenager – to grown man, and heal all of the wounds originally making him an addict. Making him what I thought he was for the majority of my life: a loser.

I can’t say he didn’t try to get clean. He eventually entered into rehab, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if he ever got better. When he started his rehabilitation I figured we’d finally have somewhat of a relationship, but in reality it plummeted even further.

So, I go through the motions. I sit in the hospital room with my sister and half-brother as we all say we love and forgive him. But did I really? The entire two weeks we had spent with him prior, I felt as if my brother and sister were truly making good progress. I felt like they did actually forgive him. I wanted to make it seem as if I did too, because I didn’t want to add fuel to this horrible fire. Just as I took my turn saying I loved him, my dad, who had been asleep for the past two days, meekly looks up at me and waves with a soft smile across his face. I think, “oh shit. He heard me, does that mean I really have to forgive him now?” It was then, for the first time in my entire life, that I truly felt seen by my father. But I still wasn’t sure if I’d experienced true forgiveness.

He died a couple days later.

It took a while for me to come to terms with this, but my parents needed drugs and alcohol. They needed them to get by, to stay on this earth with my sister and me just a little bit longer. Without them, they may have been gone much earlier in life. Whatever pain it was they were trying to numb must have been excruciating. It breaks my heart that they couldn’t muster up the courage to slay their inner demons and make it right so they could live out all their dreams and desires as a family. They simply wanted peace and to mute all the bullshit going on inside. Who can blame them for that?

Yes, they could’ve gone the healthy route and gotten clean. I so wish that is what happened. But you can only get help from so many outside resources before it gets to a point you realize you need to help yourself first. That’s the kicker, that’s what my parents truly believed they needed to help themselves.

It wasn’t until March of this year that I was finally able to forgive them, and in turn forgive myself.

So, Coronavirus, am I right? Covid-19 came into this year HOT — ready to flip everyone’s lives upside down. I was furloughed from my job which ended up being a huge blessing in disguise. Sadly though, my now husband was considered “essential”, meaning I’d be by myself for the majority of the week. This scared the hell out of me. I’m a people-person, how could I possibly spend the entire day with only my dog to talk to?! Luckily I figured that out rather quickly — oh, and also changing my entire outlook on life in the process.

One day during my alone time I just so happened to stumble upon a 21-Day Meditation Experience led by Oprah and Deepak Chopra, called, “Hope in Uncertain Times”. I decided to try it out even though I had failed so many times in the past, something felt different this time. I was committed to seeing it through because I was fed up with my own bullshit. I was fed up with hating my parents and being unfulfilled in parts of my life that I could only blame myself for: getting a degree in something I’d been told I was never good enough in, thousands of dollars in debt, working meaningless job after job just because I needed money, now being furloughed from one of those current jobs, etc. etc. etc. The pity party was REAL. My spirit was broken, but little did I know my higher self had just arrived with all the glue I needed to put myself back together.

Literally the SECOND day of that meditation challenge I had a breakthrough that was 27 years in the making. The theme for that day was: “Hope is always available” and to that I can now say, uh, hell yeah it is. I’m sitting there in the meditation trying to focus on what Deepak calls the “centering thought”, which was, “The power of hope is here every day.”

Interpret this next part as you wish.

I get into the thought, when all of the sudden my parents show up at the forefront of my mind. I see the three of us laying in a field of daisies having a full-fledged conversation. They say how they’ve missed me and how they’re so proud of how strong I am to get to this point. They told me they’ve been waiting for me. We continue on speaking for a while and I’m watching it all happen from above. I see me having this conversation. Keep in mind that this meditation is only 20 minutes long, but it seemed like I was laying in that field for hours.

Deepak’s voice snaps me out of it wrapping up the session for the day and I proceeded to have… a panic attack? An awakening? What the hell? I started weeping, hard. Harder than I ever have. I couldn’t breathe, my whole body was trembling, but I felt this extreme weight lift from my body. Suddenly the phrase, “see with new eyes”, played very loudly over and over in my head. So I took some deep breaths and decided to let my body feel this intense emotion. I didn’t want to control it, it was time for me to release control. All of the tension, anger, resentment came flowing out of my body and I quietly say to myself, “I forgive them, I do. And I forgive myself for everything I’ve put myself through up to this point.”

Well, that happened. Then I sat there for a while wondering if I should tell anyone but decided against it. It wasn’t time.

About a month afterwards I continued working on myself every day (look out for upcoming blogs on what I did and am still doing). While in the shower, it hits me that I need to become some sort of life-coach. BOOM, THERE’S THE LIGHT BULB I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! In a little less than a month I had been learning and learning countless numbers of ways to help myself, and now it’s time to help others. I’ve always wanted a career in helping others through laughter, but what if I could add helping people become their best selves in the process? Yes, this is it. I talked to my husband a bit about it and since he is a true angel in human form, he agreed I should go for it if it’s something I want to do.

So this is exactly what I’m doing. I want to be an open book because I am not perfect myself and never will be. But I want to walk beside you as we work together to achieve your wildest dreams. I’m going to talk about manifesting, affirmations, synchronicity, all of the good things! They’re coming your way because it came my way, and for once in my life I’m sticking to a goal and not looking back. Let’s build each other up to live the lives we were made to live, because light always finds its way through darkness. Together we can all see with new eyes.