Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I've Got Your Back, ft. Caroline Williams


I met Caroline earlier this year through the non-profit Girls on the Run. We were both first season coaches and I can tell you we both learned a lot through the process.

Caroline has a zest for life. She’s got a ton of energy and excitement for the things that make her happy. Sure, at first it can feel slightly overwhelming, but the more time I spent with her the more I saw that Caroline is incredibly genuine, she is unapologetically herself, and her energy is contagious. Caroline is the first one who took me up on my recent promotion as a paid photographer. The whole experience was a beautiful soft landing for my first professional photography job. Her excitement for the project, the ideas I had, the shots I was capturing...it gave me so much confidence and reassurance that what I was passionate about was also a talent of mine. I could never thank her enough for the way she made me feel in that experience. 

Keep reading on to see exactly what I mean when I say that Caroline is passionate and real. You can also find her website here to read her personal essays and work that's been published. 

(If you'd like to hear to the full interview, head over to Soundcloud to give it a listen.)


What is the most recent book or article you’ve read that has influenced, encouraged, or challenged your thinking?
I’m currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about living creatively, and being open to living a creative life. I guess as a freelance writer I feel like I need to be writing a personal essay every single day or I’m not being productive, and I need to have my blog constantly updated. This book has taught be to be open, and that the ideas will come. Elizabeth Gilbert is just a goddess.

Who is an influencer in your life?
My mom is my everything. She is also sober, and she’s taught me a lot along that journey. She was an attorney and married to my father. When my father passed away from cancer she grieved. But then she knew my dad wouldn’t want to see her in this perpetual state of sadness. So she reevaluated her life, picked herself up, found love again, found a new passion…They moved to Georgia on a farm and they rescue animals. She was in a situation where she could have wallowed and said, “That was my one true love and now I’m done.” But instead she realized she had a lot of life left to live and said, “Let’s do this thing.” My mom is just the greatest person in the entire world.



How do you see her influence in your everyday life?
Well, I try not to feel sorry for myself. That’s a huge thing. When I was drinking I definitely got into a hole of thinking, “I’m the girl with no dad. Why me?” My mom kind of reminds me that everyone has his or her own shit, and that I’m not any different. She reminds me that I’m not benefiting anyone by using your dad’s death to feel sorry for yourself.

And she’s just a badass. She’s an attorney turned animal activist. She could have been happy to go retire on the beach but instead she wanted to go adopt a bunch of elderly cows! 

What does feminism mean to you?
I was turned off by the word feminism at first. I think it can have a really bad connotation. I think some people think it means being one of the guys, and I don’t see it that way at all. It’s being treated equal to men, but still owning that you’re a woman.

Someone once told me I needed to stop wearing pink to work if I wanted to be taken seriously. And I thought that was so silly. I’m feminine. I’m giong wear lipstick and pink and I’m still really smart. So I think feminism is embracing your womanhood.

I think there are a lot of things that guys can do really well. There are a lot of things women can do really well. I think we’re equal, and we have these incredible strengths. I think a lot of women feel like they have to become more masculine to be as good as men. But it’s about owning your femininity. Or, if you have a masculine side, own that if that’s what’s comfortable for you. But you don’t need to change to be more manly to be treated equally.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live your life by?
I have two right now that are always in my head. One of them is “every situation is temporary”. I used to look at it through the lens of having a really bad day, or I was broke to remind myself that the struggle is temporary. But now, I’m in a very good season of my life. I have a job I love. I’m planning a wedding. There are these exciting things going on in my life. I feel very blessed. So now I remind myself that even the good stuff is temporary, so get off your phone, don’t take things for granted, this moment is fleeting. I’m learning to be present.

The other quote is, “if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive”. I was in a job I didn’t like for a very long time, simply because it made financial sense. I had an office job like all my friends and I was trying to be this big city professional. And I was more comfortable financially then, but so unhappy everywhere else. All I did was wait for the evening when I was done with work. Sunday nights I would dread going to work on Monday.

Right now I’m writing, and working at a fitness studio that I love, and I’m so happy and at peace. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I don’t have as much money, but it’s not costing me my peace. It’s so important to love what you’re doing. Your job is a big part of your life. Do something that you love. This year I realized I’d take happiness over a huge salary any day.



What are you most passionate about?
One thing I’m extremely passionate about is fitness. When I got sober I kind of fell into exercise. At first it was out of necessity. My skin was crawling. I didn’t know how to unwind without wine or vodka. I started running, and running, and running, and then I was too tired for wine or vodka. And then I discovered what my body was capable of. I started running half marathons; I started feeling fit. I’m passionate about teaching people what their bodies are capable of.

How will you be an agent for encouraging other people’s health and wellness?
I recently took a part time job at a fitness studio.  And now being around people like trainers and the studio owner-exercise is their life. There’s a mindset of motivation and high energy. I don’t know in what capacity I want to work within fitness, but I’m interested in growing in that field.

I have had a lot of friends reach out to ask about exercise and the studio I work at. But they tell me they want to lose thirty pounds before they come in to the gym. What I try to do is encourage them to show up as they are, and to let the exercise change them. You don’t need to change yourself to start. I want to be a cheerleader for exercise, and show people that eating healthy is not just to lose weight; it’s to fuel your self with the right stuff. You don’t have to be in shape to show up at a gym. Come as you are. Do what you can. And you’ll feel amazing. Just try something. You’ll discover your power if you just show up and try.


Fill in the blank: I am ______________
I am sincere. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

This Time Last Year

This time last year
I was drowning in grief
I spent almost every waking moment analyzing
My heart ached and my mind raced
Days were spent working at a summer camp I couldn't give myself to
Each day felt like a rollercoaster ride of emotions

This time last year
I was lost and alone
I couldn't think of anyone who had gone through my specific turmoil to connect to
I cried and I prayed
I took long road trips with no destination in mind
My eyes took in the beauty that unfolded around me
And for a moment
I was comforted

This time last year
I began collecting crystals and using them as physical reminders
To let go
To heal
To believe in myself and my path
To continue to trust my intuition
To stay grounded 
and to release


Today I am starting a new job
Today I step into a position working with young girls
Today I see the reason for last year's departure
Today I begin to understand a little bit of the why behind the trauma

Today I open up my heart to new situations that are
uncomfortable
scary
foreign
challenging
hopeful
exciting
adventurous

Today I say yes

Today I begin again

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Coming Up on the Finish Line


This week is my last with the summer program I've been working at. I'll start in my new position July 17th...which gives me a week off to finish writing my first draft of my thesis.

Yikes.

I've been "writing my thesis" for the past year now. And although I've got most of the research/reading/notes out of the way, I still have not organized it or put it into my own words to argue for my thesis. I've always been one to procrastinate. I used to feel bad about this character trait. Until I realized that I truly do my best work when I'm under the wire. My brain turns into overdrive and although I'm stressed, the quality of my work is far greater this way. 



There's so much temptation to just not finish my masters program. In reality, I'm frustrated with myself for going through this program in the first place. At one time I thought about getting my masters in counseling, but the time commitment scared me. Not the mention the whole reason for going to grad school was so that I could stay with the kids I was nannying at the time for a couple more years without feeling like a loser for being 25 and a nanny. But this is a whole other post...

My grandmother paid for my tuition during grad school (and undergrad. Shout out to my amazing grandmother!!). That's a huge reason for following through and finishing. But even more than that, I need to finish this degree for me. I need to close that chapter of my life-which I believe is the final thing keeping me entrenched in my grief over losing my relationships with the kids I nannied. 



So here I go. Pray for me. Hold me accountable. And don't let me get distracted with memes and youtube videos...May the odds be ever in my favor.

xxo


Monday, July 3, 2017

Perfectionism



This past weekend I met up with a friend at the Crocker Art Museum to hang out and do a casual photoshoot. Over the last few months I've been actively putting myself "out there" into the ether as a professional photographer and earlier in the week I posted to Instagram and Facebook about a meet up on Saturday for a fun shoot. 

Sara and I met through Arden Hot Yoga. She's a teacher and business woman and all around lovely friend to have. We've talked over the last couple months about scheduling a formal shoot to get her some headshots and material to use in promoting her teaching and workshops, but she shared she's been held back by a common fear I think we all have when it comes to having our pictures taken and social media: perfectionism. Not in the sense that she is a perfectionist, but as in the pressure to be perfect in your photos and captions and whit is so overwhelming, that it's easier to stay small and secluded, instead of promoting your skills and passions. 

It's the same pressure I feel to be a perfect photographer, to know all the things about aperture and exposer and ISO. It's the pressure I put on myself to build up my own following and gain attention for my work, without it being in a narcissistic or self-serving way. It's the pressure I feel to find influential people to partner with, but to still keep it real and intimate and more about the human connection than the popularity boost. 



There's some inspirational quote out there that says something like, you'll never experience the beauty of the world if you don't let go of the shore. Cheesy, but true. We'll never know the full extent of our power, creativity, vulnerability, influence, etc. if we don't first put ourselves into uncomfortable and challenging situations. Those moments when you can be completely comfortable and confident with where you're at and what you have-those are some of the sweetest moments in this whole experience of life...


xxo

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Upside Down


I started practicing yoga about eight years ago. It quickly became my main source of community. I threw myself into volunteering, workshops, classes, and connection. I began to feel good about my body again. I had some pretty powerful God moments on my mat. And most of all, I learned more about taking care of myself and finding balance.

Many of my teachers say that how you do anything is how you do everything. The work I put in on my yoga mat transferred into every other area of life. I became more open minded and accepting of others. I felt more powerful and confident in my body, as well as my general presence outside of the practice. 


But within the last year my low-back pain progressively got worse and worse. I tried taking out backbends and spinal twists. Still I left class feeling worse than when I walked in, and I knew that wasn't right. I feared pulling back in my yoga practice would mean losing my community and my sense of belonging. But I also knew that my body couldn't handle it any more-at least not for some time. 

So for the past four months or so I haven't stepped onto my mat once. It feels wrong. I sometimes so badly want to get on a mat and do sun salutations or inversions. I long for a hot sweaty class with pounding music and tangible energy. But it also feels right. In many ways I have lost that community and that sense of belonging. In other ways it's been a beautiful push to put myself out there in other arenas and to build my network. I've gotten more and more into photography. I've gotten into weight training with a personal trainer. I've listened to my body and my physical therapist and have healed so much already. 


I've always known the practice of yoga would be a life-long practice. Although my body isn't in vinyasa classes, I'm still meditating. I'm still using my breath to calm my mind and heart. I'm still practicing ahimsa (non-violence) by capturing spiders in my apartment and releasing them outside instead of killing them...

How you do anything is how you do everything. And I'm doing yoga whether or not I'm in handstand or at a desk. 


xxo

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sonoma


Two years ago we started a new tradition of a wine tasting weekend with the Boylan women. My Aunt Joanne lives in Santa Rosa and knows all of the wineries and shops. She's one of the most gracious women I know-always opening up her home and her heart to me and everyone else she meets. She's the first born of the six children in my dad's family of origin. She knows so much of the Boylan history, much of what my dad never experienced being ten years younger than her. I love hearing her stories of growing up and into adulthood. 



We started the day out at Jacuzzi Winery with olive oil tasting and wine tasting. The grounds are so beautiful. Lots of flowers and fields. Then it was on to Cornerstone, a fabulous shopping center with several different tasting rooms, a restaurant, boutiques for clothes and home decor, and gardens galore! 







It was a weekend full of family, friends, laughter, and vino...who could ask for much more?

xo

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Capitol Gardens




Guys, working a full-time job is exhausting...In the last year my work has been somewhat inconsistent (in not nonexistent), and getting back into the swing of a nine to five has been rough. I'm working at a summer school program teaching math in the morning hours, then dance and yoga in the afternoon. It's a quick transition over to dancing and corralling two classes of thirty pre-teens. I had all of these plans to go to the gym several days after work since they are close to each other. But honestly I haven't gone once. Hopefully week two will see me more settled and better at distributing my energy!



xxo