Oh heyyyy… Let’s talk about trust.

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Whoah! It’s been weeks!

I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’ve been spending all of my time reading, going to class, writing papers, and just trying to get my brain to shut down so I can sleep for more than an hour (for cryin’ out loud!)… and this blog has fallen to the wayside. It’s almost comical how quickly the tide turned from a post everyday for nearly two months and then… crickets.

The truth of the matter is that I’m really, really trying to figure out how to have balance in my life. I’m a reckless over achiever. I get sucked in, wayyy in to things that are great but that are also not the most important things. Though I have had great moments in life, I don’t think I’ve ever understood balance. I’m usually jumping from one camp to another – school, friends, blogging, health, Spencer, school, friends, blogging, health, blogging, Spencer… and so on and so on. Can you imagine if I added kids to that mix? As much as I admire all my friends who are mothers, I’m not ready to join that camp, too.

Do you think it’s possible to find balance? I look at people like Gwenyth Paltrow and I’m like, How do you have time to run Goop, make movies, support your husband, take care of your kids, and work with Tracy Anderson on shaping a kick-ass body? I’m sure most of you are saying “Nannies” out loud right now, but really? Nannies may do some of the work, like the cleaning or the feeding, but they can’t remove the pressure a person feels to be everything to everyone all the time. Are some people just not wired to feel so much pressure to be perfect? I have a hard time imagining that. I am really starting to believe that we are all playing this terrible comparison game where all of our relationships, even spiritual ones, are transactional. If I am thin, then my friends will like me more. If I put makeup on and dress well everyday, my husband will be happier (because I’m more attractive). If I can run a marathon, my neighbors will be impressed by me (admiration=love… right?). If I read the Bible and go to church and say weak, doubt filled prayers, I’m still “good” in God’s eyes… and on and on and on.

All of this is transactional. Nowhere in these kinds of thoughts is there unconditional love, unconditional grace, unconditional compassion. Do you think most of the relationships in our lives would even exist without these sorts of transactions? I’m thinking yes, but they’d have to be radically changed. And I mean radically.

I’m going to be honest, I treat most people like this. I accept a lot of people into my life by transactional standards. If you dress this or that way, I judge you and will therefore treat you different. How awful is that? And the worst offender in all of this is the way I treat myself. About 99% of the time, I only let myself be happy once the dishes are cleaned (by me, not my husband or else I’ll feel guilty for not working hard enough), once all of my homework and then more is done, once I’ve published a blog post a day, and have worked hard at the gym. Don’t even get me started on food. I’ve set up a code of conduct for myself and any measure of happiness rests on my ability to not only meet but surpass (with flying colors!) that code. Can you relate? I’m guessing you can.

What would the world look like if we deconstructed this relationship system? I think there would be a lot more grace and a lot less stress. A lot more love and a lot less shame. And the big question, how do we do this with ourselves?

The other day, my pastor, quoting Charles Stanley, said, “Submission + humility – worry = relief.”

Submission + humility – worry = relief.

This is an equation I want to investigate further, and I have a suspicion that trust is the key to solving it.

I want to remove the belief that I have that I am in control of everything I do. I believe that God is. You don’t have to agree with me, that’s okay. I’m just thinking out loud. I am not good at submission. With all the adversity women face to be seen as fully equal in society, I struggle to submit before anyone. I like to live my life thinking that I am in control, that I know everything or have the power to learn everything. I like winning arguments, I like being admired, I like being on top. And when I’m not… well, things aren’t so pretty. So the idea of submitting to God, Spirit, the Universe, what have you, and fully recognizing that they are in control, that they know everything, that they are the ones to be admired, honored, worshipped, and that they will always be above me… that’s really tough. But I know that I need to submit and give up control because, truthfully, I just don’t know everything. I am not in control of every outcome, or every interaction with friends, or every paper that is graded by a grumpy professor. The fact is, life will always be unfair and I have to trust that I will be okay, in spite of that fact.

Humility goes hand in hand with this. If I am operating under the assumption that I am better than everyone else or that it’s possible to be in control of every situation I encounter, than I will always fail. The truth of the matter is that there are millions of people, millions, who are smarter than me, stronger than me, richer than me, and more influential than me. If I take the same trust that I used in submitting my life to God and applied it to humility, I know I’d be a happier person. Because trust is the key. What if I operated under the assumption that people were fundamentally interested in love and not hate, in grace and not shame, in compassion and not fear? It’d be a lot easier to be humble and to think of others better than myself if I trusted that their intentions were good, and if not good, then I will still be okay, in spite of that.

Worry. Ugh. I worry all the time. I worry that I’ll die before I get to live my life to the full. I worry that I will suffer with postpartum depression when I decide to have kids. I worry Spencer will get in a car accident. So much worry. Hardly any of it is rational, and none of it is useful. It is all done in another attempt to be in control and to position myself on top so that I can believe, even if the foundations of my beliefs are weak, that I cannot be hurt by anything in the world. I try to predict the future so that I can brace myself for hurt. And that is just no way to live your life. Again, I need to trust that I will be okay, no matter what happens.

I want relief. I want balance. And as much as I hate to admit it, mostly because I’ve built my life around this belief, I need to give up control and hand it over to God. No one can love me as fiercely as God, no one can keep me safe as well as God, no one can pave the path of my life’s journey as well as God. I know that it’s easier to say than to believe, especially in the face of so much tragedy. How can I give up control and hand it to God when I’ve seen so much hurt and pain, when I feel like I’ve lost so much. Well, if I can step down from my shaky, anxiety-filled, unreliable podium, from which I try to rule my life, I will see where God has showed up. In my beautiful house, in my beautiful marriage, in the relationships God has given me after I prayed for years. In every nook and cranny there is proof, for me, that God has showed up and will continue to. And when I remember that, I always feel relief.

Right now, I am stepping down off my unsteady platform and into the cool relief that is trust. Surprisingly, it’s cozier down here than I expected. And I feel the need to be hugged and comforted, which I can finally allow myself to do now that I’m not requiring myself to be removed and perfect and obstinate. If you’re stepping down too, let’s say it together: we need help. Let’s trust that help is available to us, that we can’t do it all, and that we’ll be okay. Unrelenting love is possible, and there are no prerequisites. We just need to ask.


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International Women’s Day

Happy Saturday, everybody!

I know I’ve been a bit MIA lately, as I get more and more involved with school, but I wanted to pop in and share the trailer for this documentary I watched on Netflix the other day that literally changed my life. 

It’s called Miss Representation. Have you watched it? It is a film that uncovers a reality that we all live with every day, but are often blind to: how mainstream media under represents or misrepresents women in positions of leadership and influence in the United States. Women are often portrayed with disparaging images, are objectified, or made fun of in ways that seriously undermine and diminish our ability to be independent, autonomous, fully alive individuals. It also makes it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions. Basically, we are being robbed of our empowerment everyday, and sometimes, we don’t even know it.

This movie is something that I have been thinking about all week, almost nonstop. You know I’ve always felt strongly about empowered women, and about living a life of purpose. This just takes it to a whole new level. So sit down with your mom, sister, teenage daughter, best friends, partner, or even husband (mine watched it with me and loved it!), and let’s start thinking about how we can challenge the media to change how women are represented in this country. You can find it on Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo, iTunes, and more.

Note: the movie is explicit at times (as we all know, this is a reality for women who are objectified on television or video games), so I would recommend that parents not watch it with their young daughters, and maybe pre-screen it before viewing it with their teenage daughters (although I do think that it could be a very, very powerful learning experience to watch it with your teenage daughter!).


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Healthy Wednesdays: Sleep

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Ever since the holidays, I’ve experienced a huge change in my sleeping habits – for the worse. I’ve had the hardest time sleeping! There are some nights where I just lay there. My eyes can’t stay open, I’m exhausted, but I just can’t fall asleep. My brain just won’t shut off. I tried so many things. No TV, no lights, TV to distract me, eye masks, no eye masks, relaxing pillow sprays, meditation before bed, focusing on getting comfortable, and the occasional Xanax when it’s 5am and I just need to knock myself out.

I don’t know what changed! It’s not like stress and anxiety is new to me. It just seems like it’s taken on a different form now by affecting my sleep habits. I used to get so anxious, I’d make myself sick. And now I am keeping myself up till all hours, it seems. The most annoying thing is that I’ll sleep great for a week or so, and think that it’s over, and then BAM! I get hit with another bad night.

Have you ever experienced this? What helped you? I’m hoping this is just a phase that I’ll grow out of, and that I’ll be back to normal sleeping habits soon.

Image via West Elm.


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The Last Few Days

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Hey guys! I’m just checking in real quick before getting back to the library to say hi and give you a little update!

Can you believe that Friday, Saturday and yesterday were the first days this year that I didn’t post?! Crazy. That’s a lot of posting, though. I’ve been wondering how sustainable it is with my new job (school) and my schedule. To be honest, I am wondering where blogging is going to exist in my life now. It is not my livelihood, but I love the creative outlet. It seems like I ask myself this question every three months, and right as I’m on the verge of giving up, I find new energy and new interest.

Blogs always go through evolutions, just like everything else. This blog has surely changed a lot since I started it three and a half years ago. It’s brought me new friends, reunited me with old ones, and taught me a hell of a lot about myself.  I’m not sure where it’s headed this year, but I’m eager to find out.

Here’s a few snapshots from last week (since I didn’t post an Everyday Adventures post because my entire week was spent in the library).

IMG_5132They finally opened a Trader Joe’s in Colorado!

IMG_5121Basketball game with my dad. Love spending time with him.

IMG_5136The first annual Galentine’s Party was a success!

How was your weekend? XO


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Sweetheart Rose Cupcakes

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Oh, Valentine’s Day. I have a love/hate relationship with you. You’ve always been so exciting, and then mostly disappointing. Why is that?

Maybe it’s because the movies make me think that love should always be accompanied by a Thomas Newman soundtrack. Or that I think I need to wear a satin red dress to a fancy restaurant to be happy? I love Thomas Newman, rom-com’s, red dresses and fancy restaurants – but what if Valentine’s Day didn’t include any of these things? Would I be able to fully feel the love I have in my life?

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This year, I want Valentine’s Day to be about reflecting on how much love is in my life.  Like, the last 10 years I’ve spent with my husband. The cheesy dates, the love letters, the fights where we learned so much about each other, our beautiful wedding, our lovely house, our blessed life. I want to eat bon bon’s, yes, and I want to watch a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, but mostly, I just want to be thankful for who I am and the love that I have. I don’t need to be perfect. I am enough, just the way I am… (Maybe I’ll watch Bridget Jones, too :)

These cupcakes will definitely be on the menu. Dark chocolate cupcakes, melt in your mouth frosting, and just a hint of rose water.

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Your man might not like the rose water. He might think that it smells like your moisturizer. That’s alright, it just means more for you. And you should probably share these with your girlfriends. You’ll be friend of the year, for sure.

Oh, and I love you all. You make my life better. I’m so thankful for you! These cupcakes are my Valentine’s Day gift to you. Enjoy XO

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The Easiest Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes or 2 8-inch rounds

from Organic and Chic via Joy the Baker

2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour

2 cups organic cane sugar

1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

2/3 cup organic canola oil

2 teaspoons organic white vinegar

2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix.  The mixture will be quite wet, but that’s ok.

Like Joy recommended, I poured my batter into a liquid measuring cup (or anything with a spout) to better divide the batter between the cupcake cups.

Pour the batter until the cups are two thirds full and place in the oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean. Try not to overfill them, or they will rise too high and bake onto the pan.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before frosting.

 

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting with Rose Water

makes enough to fill and frost one 8-inch layer cake or frost 24 cupcakes

from Organic and Chic

2 sticks (1 cup) organic unsalted butter, softened

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup organic whole milk

1/4 cup sifted organic all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons organic vanilla extract

1 teaspoon rosewater

Cream the butter on medium speed, 3 to 5 minutes, in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer until soft, adout 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup milk with the flour and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until there are no lumps.  Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly and cook until the mixture comes to a low boil.

Reduce the heat to low and continue mixing until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.

When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat but keep stirring.  After you have removed the pan from the heat, the mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own.

If you overheat the mixture and find that you have some lumps, try to whisk them out with a little elbow grease, or pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Place the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly poor the milk mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the rose water during this final mixing. Be careful with the rose water. It is very concentrated, and a little goes a long way.

 


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Twitter Chat Tomorrow!

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Don’t forget! Tomorrow is our Twitter Chat! Find me @anneiam and use the hashtag #annetheadventurer so I can find you! See you there! XO


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Skinny Dipping

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A few months back, my friend Katie asked me to participate in a blog tour for a new program she is kicking off called “Skinny Dip Society” – a program designed to help women dive fully into living life and undressing their soul.

When I asked her what she wanted me to write about, she told me to think back to a time where I felt fully in the moment, giddy with adventure, not a care in the world about my body or about food, but rather, a time when I lived my life with killer confidence and contagious joy. A time where I was connected, and not held back. I wasn’t confused or stuck, but I was happy, wild, brave, and free. A time when I felt truly alive.

It didn’t take long for me to think of that moment. Or rather, year. My senior year of college instantly popped into my mind. I was living my life in alignment – I loved my schoolwork, I loved my job, I was living with my best, best girl friends, and I was happy, healthy, and so free. The days weren’t perfect. Life doesn’t work that way. But all in all, I felt alive.

But I didn’t get to that life easily. You know I still struggle. But about six months before that school year began, I had been through a lot of emotional and physical upheaval. I was tired, downtrodden and concerned that I’d never get my life back. And it was about that time when I applied for a job at a camp in Oregon.

I needed a change. I wanted to live in the wilderness, and I hoped that by giving back and spending the summer encouraging and teaching kids to be their best selves, that maybe, just maybe, I might learn a bit too. And I received everything I hoped for. The summer of 2009 was a time of incredible healing. I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, and I spent hours resting in nature, recuperating. Over the course of those months, I lived amongst 200 year old Douglas Fir trees that would sway in the wind, I swam in the lake and canoed under the stars, and all the while, my senses were rejuvenated, as was my confidence. I became stronger, emotionally and physically. And one evening, it hit me. I loved myself again. I was excited for life. I was back.

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It started with a gathering of all the girls that worked at the camp. We decided to throw a “no boys allowed” secret gathering. A pow wow, if you will. We just wanted to spend some time celebrating each other (because let’s face it, working at a camp in college has a lot to do with cute boys). I didn’t really know what was on the agenda, but I showed up ready to let loose. And let loose we did. Before I knew it, we were in the car, driving over to camp around midnight, listening to Black Eyed Peas and pumping ourselves up to sneak into camp after hours. We were singing and dancing, and having a ball. We snuck into camp, whisper-laughing the whole hike in, and into the dark, we ran through the fields towards the lake.

I didn’t know what was exactly going to happen when we got there, but I had a feeling. Someone had thrown out midnight swim. When we reached the shore, one of the senior leaders gathered us all around and said that tonight was about loving ourselves the way God made us. It wasn’t about comparison or feeling like we weren’t enough, but about truly embracing our bodies exactly as they were. In that exact moment. When she said that, all of the old feelings of insecurity and poor body image began to creep in. I knew where she was headed. And that’s when she said it: “Tonight, we skinny dip.”

I started to panic. I had not signed up for this. But I really wanted to believe everything she had said. I wanted to love myself exactly the way God made me. I wanted to feel okay, right in that moment. And so we stripped and ran into that cold, midnight lake.

I had never felt so alive. Looking back, I know that it was in that moment when all the sadness and anger and tension from the previous year melted away. I felt healed.

Sometimes, it takes a leap (or swim) of faith to get life moving again, to get out of that stuck feeling. It is in those moments when we realize that we are, in fact, strong and powerful and able. When we take a risk, and realize that we are not just okay but joy filled and excited for life, we are finally able to let go of the fear that keeps us in chains and step into our empowerment. Into the lives we were meant to live.

I am so thankful that Katie asked me to participate. I am so glad that it triggered this memory in me. I need to dive in to life again, I need to remember that I’m brave. I am ready to shed the excess that I’ve been carrying around for years, and step into my empowerment. Because, as Katie says, women who are alive (not perfect) change the world.

I’m ready. Are you?

 

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I am honored to be a part of the 25 day Skinny Dip Society Blog Tour. Make sure to check out Abbey’s post from yesterday, and Racheal’s post tomorrow. And make sure to check out the free 21-day Freedom challenge for Skinny Dip Society. You won’t be sorry!


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ALT RECAP: My Business Cards

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When I signed up for Alt Summit, I knew that business cards were going to be a big deal. People at Alt go CRAZY for business cards. Like, crazy crazy. I got two pairs of earrings with business cards at the conference last month. Earrings. So I knew that I wanted to make an impression, I just needed to decided what that tone and message was going to be.

I talked it over with a few of my crafty friends, and eventually decided against making a three dimensional card from scratch. It was just too much with school starting and trying to prep for my first trip out there. Luckily, the girls at October Ink designed the most fabulous business card design for me late last year, so I was all set and just had to get them printed.

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I had a mishap with an online printer, and at the last minute, had to get them reprinted locally. Minuteman Press in Denver totally saved the day! They were awesome. If you live in Denver, I definitely recommend checking them out.

Jayne and I decided on a square card to make it a bit more unique, and then she hand drew the constellations on the back side to go with the theme of adventuring. It turned out so well! I love the painted texture, too. They’re really my dream cards. Just another reason to work with October Ink :)

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