Inspired.

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A door was opened a few days ago that could potentially change things for the better! Now for the task of walking through the damn door (always easier said, than done). The caveat I’m realizing as I think about this new possible opportunity in my life, is not only being mindful to get very clear about what I want and to stand firm in that truth, but to manage my expectations. There’s only so much you can do before you have to simply let go and let the chips fall where they may, but not before you put up a good fight…and I intend to.

Almost as if the universe were speaking directly to me, not long after that door opened, I came across the quote above on Instagram and instantly felt more energized about this new venture.

It’s been awhile since my last Inspired post. It’s time. A few other words of wisdom keeping things in perspective as of late. Perhaps something will resonate with you, too. x

Inspired_March 2015_ATG FINAL (2){Click image to enlarge.}

Have a lovely rest of the week and weekend ahead!

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Image credit: The Old Door” by byronv2 used under CC BY 2.0 | Modifications: text added to original.
Collage: created by blogger via various images sourced from Pinterest.com.

“To You, From You”

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Happy Christmas Eve! If you’re anything like me at the moment, you’re relishing the sensation of what this time of year is all about: good company, good food, and a much-needed change of pace. It’s been nice to sleep in a bit, get through back issues of magazines, catch a film in the middle of the day, and to generally leave the routine of what a normal week might look like behind. And yet, in some ways, I haven’t. Admittedly, it’s been a struggle to really decompress and stay present. It’s showing me just how much pent-up exhaustion I’ve been carrying around with me for quite some time. Perhaps it’s because it takes some time to re-train your brain on how to not think about whatever problems that typically distract the mind day-to-day. Perhaps it’s because prepping for the holidays comes with its own set of things to add to yet another “to-do” list that still has your brain on the go, effectively preventing it from really unwinding.

I often find my mind slipping toward work or some issue that I promised myself I would step away from for the next 3 weeks to relax and enjoy the holidays, and I get really frustrated with myself. I then get frustrated with myself that I’m frustrated with myself and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, which completely defeats the purpose of why I made myself take an extended holiday vacation this year. I need the rest. I need some space to breathe and think about what I really want. I’ve already decided that I’ll have to make some pretty big changes in 2015 and I can’t get there if I’m constantly in the middle of a vicious cycle, not taking the time to stop.

I was reading December’s issue of O Magazine on the drive up to Santa Cruz yesterday to spend Christmas with boyfriend’s family, and came across a timely article from Martha Beck, aptly titled “To You, From You.” Her thought process was that for every gift you give someone, you should give something to yourself. She wasn’t talking about expensive physical gifts either. Essentially, she was making the point to not get so lost in the craze of the holidays that you forget to replenish and think about yourself. I realized immediately what I needed to give myself: a break.

I can be pretty hard on myself, be in my head too much, and rehash or analyze a situation so much that it becomes anything but productive.

So, while yes this time of year is for being with loved ones, sharing gifts, and eating to your heart’s desire, I thought I’d take a different approach this Christmas Eve and remind you, as Martha Beck did for me just in the nick of time so as to not miss it altogether, to remember to give something to yourself.

I’m decidedly giving myself a break. If I start thinking about work, about what a bad blogger I am for missing a post date, or complaining about “x, y, or z;” instead of getting frustrated or disappointed in myself, I’ll simply tell myself, “give something to you, Candice. Let it go. Give yourself a break.”

This is my gift to you (through Martha, of course), which sums up my opinion on how to really enjoy and stay present this holiday season.

And speaking of being present…I’m off to rejoin my holiday vacation, now in-progress.

Merry Christmas to you! x

 

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*Image sourced from Pinterest.

Inspired.

Where is the time going? How is it already Wednesday? October is half-way over? Why am I starting my post with so many questions?

This week has been hectic so far, to say the least. I can’t seem to catch my breath long enough to feel totally grounded. My Monday night yoga class zen is already gone (and mind you, that was only the day before yesterday!). And though I think I work well and even thrive under pressure (I love a challenge!), I try to remember that it’s important not to get too caught up in the chaos – it’s how life passes you by and how you lose perspective. Since I can’t get to another yoga class to re-capture that zen feeling at the moment, I’m going to my next best resource – the words of wisdom I’ve been collecting as of late on Pinterest.

It’s funny, while I don’t necessarily get the same feeling as I might after an hour and a half of an invigorating yoga class, I do find stillness and inspiration in reading the right words. I have entire notebooks just filled with quotes I’ve collected since I was a teenager. Now in the digital age, I’m finding Pinterest is my new notebook. In the spirit of turning to good advice, I’m taking a mid-week pause to share words that are keeping me inspired and in perspective. I hope they remind you, too, to take a moment to just breathe, keep going, and keep your focus.

“Make today count, you’ll never get it back.” Find your zen within the chaos. x

Inspired ATG FINAL October 2014

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Peace, Peace, Peace.

May Peace Prevail on Earth ATG FINAL


Where: Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Location: 3500 West Adams Boulevard, Mid-City
Cost: Free


Peace Awareness Labyrinth Exterior ATG FINAL


“Peace, peace, peace.”

David, my yoga instructor, always closes with these three simple, yet powerful words at the end of every practice. I always catch this slight difference from the more commonly used “namaste” that’s traditionally expressed in my experience at the end of a class. And while “namaste” has an equally powerful connotation by giving the deepest levels of respect when greeting or parting from a person – there’s something about being told to leave in “peace” that decidedly has me going out into the world a little more calmer, perhaps awakened…but almost always in a more harmonious, focused space than when I arrived 90 minutes prior.

How long that feeling lasts before the chaos of the world starts to seep into my peace bubble varies from practice to practice.

I’ve heard more than once that it’s a life-long journey toward cultivating and maintaining an unshakable sense of peace as we maneuver through our days. I like to think of it as exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it. It’s something that must be a priority and sought consistently to reap the rewards. And like weight training, if you stop too long, you may have to start from square one to build that muscle again.

How you go about your peace exercises differs. Perhaps it’s through a sitting meditation, yoga, or going for walk. For some, peace comes from treating yourself to a massage or facial, going to see a movie alone, reading a good book, or journaling. The point is, on some level, it’s something that we as human beings are seeking constantly – a space or a moment in time where you feel grounded in an ever-changing, uncontrollable world.

Much to my surprise, right in the middle of Los Angeles in the most unsuspecting of places lies an entire sanctuary to assist in the journey. A few weeks ago, I learned of the The Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens and instantly was on-board to check it out. Their mission: to provide an oasis for anyone looking to reconnect with themselves, to take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and just breathe.

Peace Awareness Property

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Set on the estate of a restored mansion along the busy Adams Boulevard, the stunning property welcomes you just beyond wrought iron gates. Behind the historic manor boasts a labyrinth and exquisitely designed meditation garden, the entire space fabricated with the goal to envelop all things beauty and peace.

The labyrinth might find you in the midst of a calming walking meditation as the wind chimes that hang on the trees nearby gently sing. No matter where you sit in the neighboring mediation garden, the soothing sounds of water surround you as you gaze at the endless greenery, the bamboo particularly prevalent, and the lily pond complete with fish.

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Lily Pond ATG FINAL

I’ve sat in many beautiful gardens in my time. I’ve experienced many attempts (and admitted failures) at learning the art of meditation. And yet, there was something about this place in particular that takes the experience of peace to another realm by simply inviting yourself there and being present to the gifts around you. You find that you don’t need to work so hard at quieting the mind, the setting does it for you.

Peace Awareness Fountain

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Interestingly, I lived a few blocks away from the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens for a year after college and never knew about such a special place less than 5 minutes away from my duplex. What I think is unique about retreats such as these when thinking about those aforementioned “peace exercises” is using it as a resource in a manner that feels right for you, no pressure involved.

Mediation Garden Walkway ATG FINAL

Mediation Garden View ATG FINAL

In fact, it’s best said by directly quoting from their website,”PAL&G is here to promote peace and help you reconnect and renew spiritually in your own way.” I suppose all I needed in that moment on that beautiful Sunday was a space to kick my feet up, sit still, and just breathe – the perfect supplement toward strengthening that muscle and building a stronger peace bubble.

“Peace, peace, peace” be to you as well. x

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Inspired.

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A mid-week pause for some soul encouragement.

But first, a word.

I came across the quote above yesterday. Reading it immediately solidified something for me when thinking about labels, paths, and women.

It’s no secret that women are more likely to encounter the struggle of walking the fine line between the perception of assertiveness and bitchiness, something most men presumably don’t think about (or defend) when maneuvering through life; and if they do, “bitch” (or the male equivalent) is not always the first thing that comes to mind.

Now before I offend anybody, naturally it depends on the person (irregardless of gender), the situation, and how a specific person interprets another, but for devil’s advocate sake, let’s focus on that fine line and what I think makes all the difference.

Obviously, I’ve never met Madonna, and I certainly don’t know the complete circumstances of how she was quoted here, but on some level I think she’s commenting on that aforementioned fine line, following her path anyway, and accepting whatever label comes with it. I can respect that. However, this post really isn’t about her or a comment on her as a human being, so much as the train of thought that her words provoked, inspiring me to write this post. So bear with me.

Let me preface that I’m not at all advocating that women should say, “ok, fine then” and be as much of a total battle-ax as necessary to get where they need to in life, or that we need to start more openly imparting such labels on men to stick it to them in the name of equality. While there’s certainly a vital conversation that could take place regarding the blatant gender hypocrisy at play, that’s not the aim of this post. Instead, what I am advocating is being who you are, despite perception, as long as there is a level of grace to it.

Be assertive, yes. Speak your mind. If you need to raise your voice a little higher so that people can clearly hear you after you’ve already repeated yourself twice? Perhaps that’s necessary. But with anything in life, there should always be grace present. How you’re perceived from there is really out of your hands.

I would describe myself as an independent, assertive woman. I was raised by a single mom so it’s what I witnessed and absorbed firsthand during my childhood. As I’ve gotten older, I think the most delicious thing is learning to take my own path, but on an even deeper level. I’ve become much more selective about how and with whom I spend my time. I don’t have time for disrespect, games or drama. I pick my battles (though this one’s hard!).  If I don’t want to do something (within reason, obviously) I don’t. And typically, when I have something to say, I mean something to really say, I think about the best approach and then go for it. Sometimes it goes just fine, others…well…

The more I think I about it at this moment, I’ve always had these attributes. I think they are simply becoming more defined as I age, and are a work in-progress. I’m still a work in-progress, by no means perfect.

The challenge is that many things in life require a compromise so you don’t always get your way 100% of the time (unless you’re someone like Madonna); however, the beauty is learning what those areas are and should be, while also keeping in alignment with your chosen path. You may have to walk the curb for a while in the name of compromise, but at least you’re still going in the right direction.

It’s even more complicated when taking into account that most of us still want to be liked and loved and respected as a person, while on said path. After all, you can’t do everything on your own.

Clearly, not everyone you meet is going to gravitate toward you or like you. And this is why I use the word “grace” when advocating being who you are. I think the best way to meet like-minded people stems from that. Grace is subjective, like beauty. You’re bound to meet people who gravitate toward your grace and those who don’t. When the “those who don’t people” arise, remain cordial, but keep pushing forward.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to understand that women typically have to accept labels if they want to want to make a mark in the world or stay on their chosen path. I think what makes all the difference is in how you go about maneuvering it. Essentially, it really comes down to being who you are, staying on the path that works for you, while still being able to live in the world with all kinds of personalities and situations that are inevitably out of your control. As I write this and wrap up my thoughts, I see the intricacies involved in that fine line. Grace is your guide. The pendulum of that fine line. It doesn’t necessarily prevent the more harsh perception, I’d say, so much as keeps you grounded and your intention pure, coming from a good place.

While this post has officially become more than “a word” (sorry!) this quote and those below are keeping me inspired at the moment.

Happy hump day. See you Friday!

Blend

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100 Happy Days: The 1st 50

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I’m nearing the end of the 100 Happy Days Challenge, with 9 days left to go! By nature, I always try to find gratitude in my life and in every situation, even when things aren’t going so well. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever sulk because I certainly can, and do. But even during those times, I make it a point to always find a piece of joy in the day and be grateful for it. (Then I might feel better and move on, or continue to sulk – it just depends). 🙂

So the challenge for me wasn’t so much in finding something to smile about everyday, but remembering to document it and keep track of what day I was on! And even though I’ve spent much of my time over the last few years really being mindful about finding the joy in the little things, this was still different. Over the last 91 days, I’ve had to consciously stop at least once in the day to think about what I wanted my 100 Happy Days post to be, while also being completely accountable at consistency. And that’s where the challenge lies, to keep going no matter what type of day (or series of days) you’re having. You’re still looking for that moment that brought even the tiniest sprinkle of happiness, snapping a picture, and posting it. Every. Single. Day. For 100 days.

Admittedly, there was one day where I took the picture, but forgot to post it. (Doh!) I simply put it up on Twitter first thing the next morning when I realized I’d forgotten, found a new post for that day later in the afternoon, and kept going.

I thought it would be fun to look back at the 1st 50 days on the challenge and reminisce. Interestingly (though not surprisingly), it seems many of my days find that moment of joy when there’s good food or iced vanilla lattes involved (don’t judge!). But, I also adore the simplicity of many of the posts – I’m not necessarily out doing anything big or special. I can clearly see that joy did and does come in the small things most days. It’s in looking up at the sky admiring that trademark LA sunshine through the trees and clouds, it’s starting a new book on my kindle, smelling a beautiful bouquet of roses that my boyfriend gave me, drinking a cup of tea, or watching an old movie.

I’m proud to say, I can see the finish line just a few more days ahead. I look forward to sharing the last 50 days with you when I complete the challenge in early July.

This has truly been a great exercise in finding happiness in my day, every day. Here are the moments from Day #1 to Day #50 that made me smile!

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Inspired. Again.

There are those days where things just don’t seem to fall into place from the moment you step out of bed. You woke up late, stubbed your toe, the coffee machine breaks, you can’t find your favorite shirt, every other car on the road feels the need to cut you off for some reason (and then give you “the bird”), your computer greets you with tons of emails (some less than pleasant in tone), and when lunchtime rolls around – only then do you realize that you forgot your wallet at home. “Ugh. It’s going to be one of those days,” you think.

Then are those days where everything is just fine on the surface, you can’t complain – you have a roof over your head and food in the fridge. You’re working toward something, dreaming, and believing in whatever aspirations are important to you. And yet somehow you still feel like you’re going in one big circle in life, while others seemingly run laps around you, moving faster, sweating less (those bastards!). 🙂

I’ve come to learn that there are all kinds of days. Some good, some not so good, some life altering, but many in the middle. What has always helped guide my perspective, despite the type of day that I’m having, is collecting quotes. For half my life now I’ve always kept a collection containing advice that I’ve heard or read and written down; but in more recent times, an image with just the right words that I came across that resonated with me and started collecting them online. (Thank god for Pinterest.)

I wrote a post like this last summer and thought today is a good day to share more of my favorite quotes with you, perhaps turning “Inspired” into a new series for the blog. What I always (ALWAYS) appreciate no matter what mood I’m in: is good life advice, words of encouragement, and wisdom from others that uplift and motivate you to live better and be better.

Considering these words even exist to share, is a gentle reminder that we’re all in the same battle if you think about it – perhaps at different rankings, fighting on different fronts for different causes, but ultimately for the same end-goal. I think that goal is to have lived life to the fullest in whatever capacity that means to the individual.

So if any, or all, of these bring a smile to your face, or give you an ounce of encouragement and motivation to see the beauty in whatever is going on in your world – no matter how you started or ended the day  – then I’ve used my blog and done good.

Here’s to inspiration…

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