Get Out: Yoga on the Water

Yoga is the practice of spiritual, mental and physical awareness on the body and opening up the chakras – energy centers –  for relaxation and transformation. I’ve never attended a yoga class except online (I recommend Yoga with Adrienne) and prefer to start my day with yoga outside on my deck, with the sunrise salutation sequence followed by a few moments sitting in stillness (meditation.) Heck, just laying there in the corpse pose on the ground staring up at the clouds is pretty cool. Since I prefer yoga in nature, this adventure was high on my list.

Lake Overholser, Bethany, OK

Lake Overholser, Bethany, OK

My first official yoga class was on the water!  Yoga on the lake, balancing on a paddle board. I’ve never surfed, never done SUP (Stand Up Paddling) and a friend of mine recommended I take a local class before I try SUP in Hawaii this summer. I’m glad I did because I feel like I’ll have a head start.

Check your local lakes or river centers for a mobile paddle board shop or rentals. Here in OKC, we have Flat Tide and the class I chose was taught by The Yoga Block at Lake Overholser in Bethany.

Tree pose with Vi Le after class.

Tree pose with Vi Le after class.

Your paddle will be adjusted for your height, your ankle cuff will keep you tethered to the board and you can start by kneeling or sitting and paddling your way out until you feel ready to stand. If you already have issues with balance and have never practiced yoga or Pilates before (or surfed), it might be more difficult for you, but by keeping your weight in the center of the board and not locking your knees, you’ll be fine. If you fall in, that’s okay. That’s part of the fun so do dress in comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting wet. I wore a sports bra with a fitted tank top over it and bikini bottoms with booty shorts. You don’t want anything to “hang out” since you are going to be upside down and in various yoga positions.

I found it took me about ten minutes to feel comfortable standing and paddling on the board, taking the oar from right to left and then two strokes of each to go faster. We paddled out to a cove and though a bridge was nearby, you can block out those sounds and preen your ear for the nature sounds, which are plentiful.

We removed our ankle cuffs and placed them around our paddles so they could float nearby and tossed our anchors in the water. We still floated around a bit, but you don’t have to be facing the teacher the whole time and you are close enough to hear her/him.

The next 45 minutes was a typical yoga class, except on the board. What I loved most was how much more aware you are of your body because of balancing on the board and feeling like you are a buoy. Unlike being on the ground, you feel both lighter but also keenly aware of your weight on the board for keeping yourself stable. Some did fall in, but if you don’t try the different moves, you might be disappointed so I say GO FOR IT.

My friend Vi did a full backbend and did fall in, but she went all the way up. I only went half-way up before I felt my board shaking too much and I came back down. I also couldn’t get fully up into Warrior pose (which is my favorite pose!) and she said it’s one of the hardest. I did get into full shoulder stand and for a second thought I would go off the back of the board, but brought my legs down in time to keep from making a splash in class.

Like most of the experience in nature, it’s hard to put it into words because the feeling is so unlike anything else. You just haven’t experienced downward facing dog until you’ve done so with the lake and the sky upside down! Even better, the sunset was gorgeous and it was such a peaceful end to the day and definitely the highlight of my week.

Sunset on the water. Love.

Sunset on the water. Love.

I expected my legs and core to hurt a bit the next day, but instead those didn’t hurt at all and my back was killing me. I felt like I’d been punched all over. The reason is you are engaging every back muscle when you are doing SUP and balancing on the board in yoga! I think it’s amazing that we get to work the muscles that rarely get used in other fitness routines, so I’ll definitely be adding a monthly SUP to my workout routine. (You can rent the boards hourly.) Note: most people do say their abs and legs hurt the next day so depending on your fitness level and how strong those areas are, that could determine how much it affects you.

By the third day, my back was feeling better and of course working out again is always my favorite way to relieve muscle tension. Just keep going! Know that you are transforming your mind, body and spirit when you go for new challenging adventures. You are strong enough and brave enough to do it.

Namaste!

xo, Malena

NOTE OF THANKS: To all my new and loyal readers, thank you for reading my books this summer and visiting my blog. It means so much to me and I love to read your reviews and to hear from you! I do plan on combining Life’s a Beach and The Last Resort as a special for August through Labor Day so stay tuned for that on Kindle if you haven’t read those. Family Charms is really picking up on sales and book clubs have asked me to come talk to them about it and I’m always up for that! In person if nearby and Skype if you’re outside of my area! And Fixer Upper continues to be my number one bestseller. THANK YOU!

NOVEL PROGRESS: I’ve now reached the half-way mark on the first draft of my novel and I’ll be traveling this next week so hope to reach the end of the first draft by the time school starts. EEK! This will mean cutting out a lot of distractions in my life such as Facebook, which I’ll “hide” for a month and also paring down on Instagram, which I check at least 3 or 4 times a day and is my favorite. :( BUT – it will be so worth it!

As I’m also working on my “nature” essay book, Return to Wild, and am outlining a new short story collection, I feel I have to listen to my inner guide during this creative time in my life and honor it. My muse has been more active the last six months than any other time in my life so I don’t want to waste it.

EXCERPT from Work In Progress Novel (Status: 41K of 80K written)

Jake was raised by a stout older woman, Mildred, whom he calls Grams. This partial scene begins with them…

She squeezed me again and even though she’s not the crying type, I heard her sniffle and she turned away and wiped her eyes on her apron. “Now go get ready for your day. You’ve got some training to do, don’t you? And take some of this bacon to Ben. He’s looking too skinny.”

I kissed her atop the back of her head. “Will do. I love you, Grams.”

Don’t go getting mushy on me.”

I felt numb the rest of the day, sleepwalking through even our rigorous boot camp for Tuff Enuf. Our team was getting stronger, but inside I felt weaker than ever. I let Ben shout out the exercises while I stared off into space. I felt the compulsion to…

  1. Grab a match and some gasoline set the obstacle course on fire
  2. Get stinking drunk and then have Jennifer meet me at the lake for an afternoon fuck

I opted instead to blow off some steam at the gun range, putting a few rounds into the target’s head and chest. When that didn’t do the trick to clear the cobwebs, I asked the receptionist to print something off the computer for me. I stuck the picture of the Marlboro Man on the figure and put some bullets into his smug ass smile.

That’s more like it,” I said, and put away my guns and headed back to my truck feeling only slightly better.

There was only one fire I needed to start and that was with Jennifer. 

 

Excerpt from Return to Wild, essays on letting go and unleashing your wild side (inner nature) based on nature as our guide. I’m 8 essays in of probably 20? I realize this sounds “out there” but I’m letting the Universe outline the book for me so whenever a message comes like a hawk did this morning on the deck, I “know” if a certain essay is supposed to be in the book. This one is on love’s limits…

Our confusion is more confounded with our fix-it-quick culture and our highly emotional natures. We’re told we just need to do X, Y and Z and we’ll be good as new! A trip to the therapist’s office, a few self-help books, maybe even a new church. Shouldn’t love be enough? Doesn’t it “fix” everything?

Amy Bloom wrote in Oprah in 2006 about love’s limits. “What I hadn’t understood, until recently, is that sometimes love is not enough. And that is the worst news-from-the-universe I have heard for some time. Love is not enough to lead depressed people to happiness…It is not enough to make people who need passion settle for companionship… Love stretches us, but time often snaps us back to our original shape. Love takes us further than we thought we could go, but it does not take us past the limits of our nature. And that is a hard thing to know.”

 

 

Get Out: Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Ritual, romance, expression, healing, entertainment. Dance has no known beginning and will likely see no end. While it’s incorporated into culture and styles, dance is universal as well as personal. Some of my earliest memories involve dance: watching my grandparents two-step in our living room; my grandfather teaching me to two-step; car dancing with my “Fab Five” girlfriends in high school; dancing at proms and sorority and fraternity parties; spinning around the room dancing with my own children; and now watching my teen daughter dance on stage in competitions. I even go dancing for fitness classes two or three times a week at Zumba and hip hop.

I’ll likely still be car dancing in my eighties. Just wait.

What are your favorite dance memories? Is it time to make some new ones?

My Get Out adventure this week was five days in Overland Park, Kansas for my daughter’s dance nationals with Dance Phase at Talent on Parade. It’s hard to believe that even after watching dozens of dances over several days, I still wanted to dance in the evening – and so on the last night, I got the dance party I’d been wanting – out in the courtyard of the Courtyard Marriott, in the grass, under the full moon.

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Full moon dance shadow selfies with some of the senior company dancers.

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With my dancer daughter at nationals.

Dance has been a big part of my Get Out adventures. When I visited the Chickasaws, I got to see their fireside ritual dance and then when I went to OKC Fest for live country music, the first night a college student grabbed me and we two-stepped. He thought I was twenty-four, God bless his drunk self. The second night I watched two couples two-step and swing right next to us. They were so HAPPY. That’s how I feel every time I dance, whether it’s a slow song, a two-step, a line-dance or a booty-shaking hip hop dance in Lauren Fitz’ class.

Dance is joy and grace and not only is it great self-expression for the dancer, but done well, then the viewers of the dance feel the same emotion. My arm hairs stand on end when I’m moved by a beautiful dance.

This week I’d like to celebrate dance and encourage you to get out and dance yourself, even if it’s out in the grass like I did. Or grab your partner for a slow song. Turn up the music and jam out with your kids to a song they like. Hell, I love to car dance, too. (Just keep your eyes on the road.) Make plans to attend a live dance show such as your local ballet or the touring So You Think You Can Dance. Not only does it give us an appreciation for the arts, but it can make us feel something we aren’t used to feeling every day and it’s a timeless past-time we should make more time for.

Congrats to all the DPC dancers on a great year. I can’t wait to be a part of the fun again starting in August.

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“Hair” musical theater. I actually still wear that shirt my daughter is wearing. ha

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Lyrical is my favorite style of dance to watch. These are the “Numb” teen dancers.

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Senior company lyrical with studio owner and choreographer Lisa Motsenbocker. I lover how good she is to our girls.

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I could do some serious car dancing in this 1962 Corvette. I totally match it.

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With my car dance buddy Jill Martin, who also co-wrote DANCE MOM SURVIVAL GUIDE with me. LOVE having a fun friend to get out with.

With my car dance buddy Jill Martin, who also co-wrote DANCE MOM SURVIVAL GUIDE with me. LOVE having a fun friend to get out with.

xo-Malena

Next Get Out Adventure is Paddleboard Yoga. Should be a fun excuse to fall in the lake!

Get Fit Tip: Keep your fitness routine going when you’re on vacation by using the fitness center in your hotel each morning before your family wakes up or incorporate fitness activities into your schedule. You can also take the stairs. Personally, I prefer to stick to healthy eating on vacation but you could just modify your meals or portion sizes and give yourself a “cheat” meal. My cheat in Kansas was at The Burg and the Barrel and the angus beef with avacado, bacon and spicy chipotle mayo and onion rings (and Metcalf Mule drink!) was definitely worth it. I did work out a little harder the next morning to make up for it.

Works in Progress Excerpts:

From my novel-in-progress about a Marine vet amputee post-Iraq war. Scene between Jake and his therapist, Annette. 

The moon, huh? But the moon is what kept you from being with her the first time.” Annette uncrossed her legs and leaned in.

I know. But that was daytime, you know? I think that’s what it was. Seeing the moon when it didn’t belong. The timing was off. But in the dark - that’s my time. I feel the most alive at night. Besides, I was horny and I knew if I went to the bar I’d get stinking drunk and have sex with a stranger again.”

So a married woman is better than a stranger?”

You tell me, doc. At least I was having sex with someone I care about.”

***

From my non-fiction essay collection. I’m about seven essays in. This bit is from, “Midsummer Tilt-a-Whirl”

I know every emotion. They have lived in me and I in them. Sometimes I carried them too long or even gave up my life to them, but no more. No more being a slave to emotions or a frantic mind. Our wild nature knows that emotions are fleeting. They come and go like the sun and the moon. They are there but they shouldn’t rule our every living moment because only we can do that. Don’t give emotions all the power. 

HOPE YOU’RE GETTING OUT AND ENJOYING SUMMER. XO

Get Out/Get Real: What do you do with your freedom?

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The one day I’m okay with us all wearing the same colors.

I’m writing a novel about a young Marine amputee coming back after war in Iraq to a sleepy town in Texas and I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several vets – a Navy Seal, two Navy pilots, two Marines and two Army vets. I’ve immersed myself in research about amputees, Iraq, military deployment, PTSD and a host of other issues relating to the book. A few things I’ve learned resonated sharply as Independence Day came and went so this week I’m combining a Get Out post encouraging us to have more adventure with a message for us to Get Real about what we’re doing with the freedom that we’re given in this country.

First, I hope you got out and celebrated this year, whether locally or on vacation. The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I love parades, fireworks, parties and all the feel-good Americana that comes with our privilege of being born in an amazing country. While my kids no longer let me dress them in cute USA pride attire, I still get in the spirit and will go celebrate whether or not the whole family cares to join. (Just wait – those of you who don’t have teens yet!) I was thankful all five of us did celebrate that evening together.

Second, I’d like us to ponder how we may be taking our freedom for granted. How we may be holding back and living in the shell of our own making instead of truly enjoying our country and our lives. Travel, adventure, unleashing our natural gifts onto the world. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) says the more we go from our lower level to a higher level, the more Resistance we feel. When the vets I interviewed came back to America, they saw a lot of apathy when they looked around. They saw a lot of “busy” and not a lot of traction. They saw people who didn’t have drive or initiative or goals. Sad, huh?

Let’s not take our freedoms for granted. Don’t let Resistance get the best of you. I’ll admit I’ve encountered Resistance a LOT this year. The more I’ve tried to transform, the more my ego wanted to get in the way and tell me to leave well enough alone, to not topple the apple cart, to keep the status quo and for SURE don’t start a new project like writing a novel I know nothing about (war and from a MALE perspective) and I certainly have no business or time to write a book about returning to our wild, unique nature when there are already plenty of spiritual teachers out there that could surely say it better than me. That’s how Resistance rears it’s self-righteous head. It will tell you that you are nothing. That you should stay in your job, your circle, your hometown. That you shouldn’t venture out because BAD things could happen. If I’d told too many people I was going solo camping, I’m sure more would’ve tried to talk me out of that, too, which would’ve been too bad because it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Truth.

You have to open up and let yourself be vulnerable. That’s where courage and bravery come in – after you’re already on the journey NOT before. You take the leap. Watch Brene Brown’s fabulous TED Talk for more on vulnerability.

A quote I love from Brown:

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability my making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy and creativity to name a few.”

So, what shall we do with our freedom and adventure next? 

A few pics from my holiday and excerpts from my two works in progress. Next week I’ll be writing to you from Kansas City with a thousand dancers!

xo,

Malena

You can't have the 4th without watermelon. I think that's a rule.

You can’t have the 4th without watermelon. I think that’s a rule.

 

My dot's first outing as a pom girl for the high school. She loved being on the float and a little girl stopped by to say hi to them. Cutest thing ever.

My dot’s first outing as a pom girl for the high school. She loved being on the float and a little girl stopped by to say hi to them. Cutest thing ever.

Spent the evening with my family and my AXO lil, Katrina and her family out in Logan County. Love her still and always.

Spent the evening with my family and my AXO lil, Katrina and her family out in Logan County. Love her still and always.

Fireworks from our view on the blanket. Edmond, OK has one of the best fireworks shows in the country. Gorgeous.

Fireworks from our view on the blanket. Edmond, OK has one of the best fireworks shows in the country. Gorgeous.

Excerpt from work in progress novel: Word count so far: 37,800 out of 80,000. Jake Ambrose (22) Point of View:

Grams said it was a miracle I hadn’t been burned to a crisp.

Said it was an angel who put that door over my thin little body.

No one wanted to give my meth-coooking mom credit for my survival, but I don’t think that’s fair. Even though she shouldn’t have been doing what she was doing, she did respond the way a mom should when she saw her kid in danger.

Besides, it was me who brought that flame to the fire.

I could feel Misery’s presence, lurking in the shadows behind the trees. I dared not look to see her pale face and red lipsticked smirk, blaming me for what happened. Because she was right. Maybe she was always right. Maybe it was always my fault – the whole lot of it. 

 

Excerpt from work in progress non-fiction essay book: Word count 10,000 of 75,000.

“This book is about reclaiming our unique nature – our wild side – with our heart as a compass. To get there we’re going to look to nature and our brave hearts beating alongside the river, up the mountains, fingertips over the fields, feet on the red earth, eyes to the skies.

We’re going to get OUTSIDE in nature get to what’s going on INSIDE.

We hear that happiness comes from within but everything we are told could make us happy by advertising and society is conditional. Buy THIS and you’ll be the cool kid. Live HERE and you’ll be respected. Get THIS degree and you’ll be on your way to the corner office. (Because it’s corner or bust, right?) Up, up and away?

We are boxed in, reshaped, told what to think, what to believe, who to love, what fits in, what makes you weird, what makes you special. And that may have nothing to do with who you uniquely are. Being true to you means taking a stand and letting your soul – not society – be your guide.

Nature is full of secret messages waiting to be discovered.

Go.”

 

Get Out: She’s Gone Country

If you’re new to my blog, “Hey!” I started the year blogging about “getting real” about our lives as I worked to transform the Big Six: body, mind, spirit, work, home, relationships. So you can scooch on back through the posts if you’re interested in those. I also post #getReal inspiration on Instagram and Twitter with pics.

Then this summer I switched to a #GetOut series in an effort to add a wee bit more adventure to my life. I invite you to do the same.

If you’re a returning visitor, “thank you!”  If  I could I’d totally make a banana, yogurt, kale smoothie for two and share it with you.

Caught up? Awesome.

This past weekend, my Get Out adventure was three days of country music. While I live in the “City” as we from western Oklahoma fondly call Oklahoma City, (and I technically live in the northern ‘burb), I’ll always consider myself a small town girl at heart and a country music fan – especially classic country which is what I grew up on living with my grandparents. Since my husband isn’t a country fan, he stayed home and spent time with the kids while I got to spend time with my sis and the cousins got to hang out downtown and at our house.

OKC Fest was a music festival held in downtown OKC and my sis and BIL and I got tickets for the Friday and Saturday evening performances. I was most excited about Merle Haggard (LEGEND!!) who played before the headliner Dierks Bentley and I’ll admit I’m strangely fond of “Drunk on a Plane” which I hadn’t heard until I looked it up before going to see him that night. And, yep, Merle’s still got it going on.

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Thankful one of my sisters likes country music. Love ya, Tina!

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Boots on, cowboy up.

I also learned, via Twitter and Instagram likes, that Merle has a son, Ben Haggard, @benhaggardmusic @benhaggard who plays lead guitar in his band. Very cool that they get to share the stage and this experience together.

Mostly I loved spending time with my sis. Last time we went to an outdoor concert together was four years ago when Lady Antebellum and Tim McGraw played and it was so hot that I PASSED OUT. I’d only had one frozen drink and not nearly enough water and I was wearing jeans smack dab in the sunshine. Really dumb. This time I dressed cooler.

Saturday I headed back downtown to the Myriad Gardens. If you’re in Oklahoma, or visiting us, do make a point to visit. It’s simply gorgeous. It’s amazing what you can do with some funding and TLC on landscaping, you know? I took these shots with my iPhone and they turned out great courtesy of an overcast afternoon.

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The second night I also got to have a pre-party at my husband’s bosses’ house where they have an awesome tree swing. I felt pretty talented drinking and swinging at the same time so I’m sure I’ll have no problem drinking on a plane in a few weeks when I go to Hawaii. (If you see a tree swing, don’t pass it up. I’m serious about this. It was better than 20 minutes of meditation!)

A tree swing, an adult beverage and more country music.

A tree swing, an adult beverage and more country music.

I saw Scotty McCreery (who won American Idol two years ago) at the Grand Ole Opry last summer and he was great. Still is. He played just before Lady A and as nightfall came and the cute couples to our left were swing dancing and I sang along to “Bartender” which I hadn’t heard until that night.

Sunday, I volunteered for OMRF’s 241 event to raise money for cancer research. In exchange for selling raffle tickets, I got to partake of some of the finest food from incredible restaurants in OKC, Norman and Tulsa. Aaaand I got to see the private concert given by Vince Gill out on the patio (windy per usual for OK) with a special surprise guest ALICE COOPER. Wow. Pretty cool. They raised $650,000. A great end to a cool weekend.

Top right: Alice and Vince. Ya know, first name basis.

Top right: Alice and Vince. Ya know, first name basis.

Have you been to a music festival? What’s holding you back? Slather on the sunscreen and the bug spray and Get Out!

Next week, I’ll be talking 4th of July festivities, so hopefully you’re planning on seeing fireworks IN PERSON. I just don’t get watching them on TV. What fun is that? None. That’s what. So, get out and catch a parade and eat some watermelon and watch some whiz bangs.

Try something new. Expand your horizons. Live with intention.

xo,

Malena

 

 

Get Out: A Girl Goes Solo Camping

To say my family doesn’t like camping is an understatement. They are okay with cabins, but I’ve only slept in a tent with my Cub Scout – two of us amongst the pack. Prior to that I slept in a tent with my then-boyfriend (now husband) in the Grand Canyon in the ’90s.

That was a bit ago, wasn’t it?

So I decided if I wanted to camp in a tent I’d have to do it by myself.

Alone.

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Rock Creek area at Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Chasing waterfalls.

My Get Out summer adventure challenge was to go to a new-to-me state park (or federal as the case turned out to be), find my own way, pitch the tent and take my bike so I could go on a long solo ride. I picked the first day of summer, which so happened to fall on a Saturday. Summer Solstice seemed like the perfect day to be brave and go on the solo trip and enjoy the long day and short night in nature.

My daughter was sure I’d come home before the trip was over – scared. My sister did not see the appeal of either camping OR going alone. Just be careful how many people you tell because they’ll worry you’ll get kidnapped, raped, lost or at the least eaten up by mosquitoes in Oklahoma.

I picked Chickasaw National Reserve (the oldest federal reserve in OK) located in Sulphur, OK. I also wanted to visit the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Both were gorgeous, well-maintained and completely safe.

Biking around Veterans Lake in the rain.

Biking around Veterans Lake in the rain.

I did bring some mace and a knife though I didn’t feel like I’d need either because I wasn’t scared. I was excited.

The day ended up being rainy, but my motto is to bring your own sunshine, so I figured it would lift and though I had a rainy bike ride around Veterans Lake, it was mostly overcast and warm. Would I recommend a solo trip? Absolutely.

Check out my video for the experience and lots of photos. I hope you’ll be brave and get out and do something new to you this week and connect with nature. Turns out she’s all the company I need sometimes!

 

 

Also this week, I attended the opening of the new exhibit Gods and Heroes at the OKCMOA. Story here on Sooner Spaces. For fun, I decided to put together an outfit like SPJ’s famous tutu look for Carrie Bradshaw on the opening season of Sex and the City. I’d found the skirt at Goodwill and looked up how SPJ wore it and did my own black tank spin on it. My husband shot this downtown before the opening.

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Next week my Get Out adventure is OKC Fest, a live music festival.

 

Get Out: Hike This, Hear That

I grew up with weekends at the lake, my fishing pole sitting idle while I scrambled through the tall grass looking for horned toads and fleeing from crickets. Summer vacations were on the road, in the RV, bunking with my sisters and playing cards until it was time for us to tumble out and play badminton and climb rocks new but strangely familiar to us in places like New Mexico, Arizona and South Dakota.

While RVing is out of vogue and every time I take a road trip with the kids I swear it will be the last, I miss the open road and adventure and mostly being in nature. I have some catching up to do. My children could care less about the Black Hills or Mount Rushmore and we’re giving them the vacation of their dreams next month with a trip to Hawaii, but in the meantime, I’m giving myself the gift of Nature as often as I can. This Get Out series is certainly about unplugging and reconnecting with nature and each other, but I don’t expect my family to be as enthusiastic as I am about the idea, which is why my little treks are with girlfriends, family and even all by my lonesome. I love new challenges and adventures so camping by myself has a new appeal that would’ve frightened me just months ago. I likely have Barbara Brown Taylor and her new book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” to thank for that idea to exile myself to the night.

Since I’m supposed to be dedicating my summer to finishing the first draft of my love after war brotherhood novel, I’ll likely only post every other week and mostly include photos to save us both some time.

This week’s “Get Out” adventures began with a trip to Black Mesa to hike the highest elevation in Oklahoma (4.2 miles up) in the Oklahoma panhandle, a mid-week treat seeing Matt Stansberry and the Romance at the UCO Jazz Lab. (Please treat yourself to their album.) and concluding with a surprise trip to The Canebrake, a resort in eastern Oklahoma in Wagoner, OK where we hiked, dined, and even saw a family of armadillos on the way out of town this morning.

Where shall we go next?

xo,

Malena

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My sis and I with our kids in the middle. Hubbies came long, too.

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Jurassic hike. Yes, dinosaurs roamed here. Kind of cool, right?

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When I look at this picture, I feel the same peace I did standing there. Zen.

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Getting caught up in the energy of great live music is the next best thing to being in nature for me.

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Matt Stansberry is a local designer and bad ass musician. I’m a huge fan.

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All of it. Impeccable.

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I’m sure in a past life I was a jazz vocalist. Now I just pose next to them and give ‘em hugs of gratitude for their pipes.

The Canebrake. Where there's an arrow, I must investigate.

The Canebrake. Where there’s an arrow, I must investigate.

My Papa would be proud to see I still like to climb on rocks.

My Papa would be proud to see I still like to climb on rocks.

Rod on the one bench we saw on the hike next to the lake

Rod on the one bench we saw on the hike next to the lake

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Peek a boo.

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I love trees more than shoe and that’s saying a lot.

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"I feel as though my life is bathed in golden sunlight. And the really wonderful thing is that I know it." - Helen McCrory

“I feel as though my life is bathed in golden sunlight. And the really wonderful thing is that I know it.” – Helen McCrory

Get Out Series: Inspired by Walter Mitty and Marina Keegan

On a scale of 1 to 10, how adventurous is your life? How many new places and new experiences have you had recently? I’m shifting my Get Real series to Get Out for the summer, which goes with my own shift from more introspection to extroversion as spring turned to summer and I realized I felt a bit like Walter Mitty – only a mommyfied version of him.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty is played by Ben Stiller at LIFE magazine where he processes negatives that go into the magazine – which is turning digital. Though LIFE is all about adventure around the world, poor Walter hadn’t really gone anywhere. On the dating site, he really couldn’t list any interesting places he’d been or things he’d done. I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, but my feeling was more about wanting to embrace my adventurous spirit which was laying at the bottom of the heap of unfolded laundry.

A couple of those a-ha moments were a) I needed to get out more and b) I wanted NEW experiences, big and small. I already had the will – now I just needed to find (MAKE) the way.

The next bit of inspiration to live with intention and adventure this summer is thanks to Marina Keegan who died in a car crash shortly after her graduation at Yale. But she lived a big life in a short time – much more than Walter had lived into his mid-life. Marina loved to write and her family and editor at school compiled her works into THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS. I love that her words live on. Here’s an excerpt:

81uN7TTMLhLBut let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…” – Marina Keegan

So let’s not wait. Let’s have adventure NOW, not waiting for the perfect moment, the financial windfall, the age when you THINK your kids will be less cranky. Put fun shit on your list and go do them. They don’t have to be “bucket list” things, either. They can be pocket-sized, lunch-hour sized, Saturday-afternoon sized. They can be alone, with a friend, the other half, with or without the kids. They can be planned or spontaneous. It doesn’t matter. Just do them. 

Each week through August I’ll share some of my new Get Out Adventures on this blog. Of course this keeps me accountable, but I already have a lot to share from the last week! I won’t write much so I can save my time for DOING the things plus working on my new novel.

I hope Walter, Marina and I can inspire you to Get Out, too. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter I’ll use the #GetOut hashtag for photos and posts and I’ll start a new Pinterest board called Get Out Adventures. You can find me @malenalott on each one.

HAPPY SUMMER!

First Top 6 Get Outs from May 20-June 1st.

1. Hiking Wichita Mountains with girlfriend Kelley McGuire. Yes, Oklahoma is beautiful. Just Get Out and see for yourself. (Cheap day trip!)

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Reached the summit of Elk Mountain. Felt amazing.

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Hey, it’s high up here! Kelley at the summit.

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Hiking = beauty.

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All the lovelies: cactus, flowers, grass, rocks, sky.

2.GIRLFRIEND ROAD TRIP:  hip and contemporary ALOFT Hotel in Tulsa Memorial weekend (w/Wingfields): 2 girlfriends, 6 kids, #eatLocal @JoeMommas Pizza. We also saw the beautiful historic Mayo Hotel. Who do you need to reconnect with? What hotel have you been dying to see?

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@ Mayo, downtown Tulsa

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In an egg shell in ALOFT, downtown Tulsa before going poolside for a drink with girlfriend Anita

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on our way to Joe Momma’s pizza (every kid was pleased – a miracle!)

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Penguins at the Tulsa Zoo

3. ART + OUTDOORS Photo Slam and Rooftop Happy Hour @OKCMOA = see the city from a higher point of view and EVERY OK sunset is gorgeous. You deserve a happy hour from on high, don’t you?

Beer with a view. (Devon Tower as seen from OKC MOA roof)

Beer with a view. (Devon Tower as seen from OKC MOA roof)

5. Double Date Night @Packard’s OKC and Ambassador Hotel rooftop (7th floor) for drinks (w/Bacharachs) Who have you been wanting to double date with?

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Sunset from the 7th floor at Ambassador Hotel, Midtown OKC

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Historic Osler Building (now Ambassador Hotel), night

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Put on a pretty dress and grab a glass of wine and a sunset? yes, please

 

6. BEING BRAVE at the Riversport Adventure obstacle course (Sky Trails) @ Boathouse in OKC ($20 or $35 adventure pass)

I've been "high" a lot lately, haven't I?

I’ve been “high” a lot lately, haven’t I?

 

Until next week, Get Out of here! xoxo, Malena

 

 

Get Real: Owning our Energy and the Art of Shifting

What energy do you bring to your interactions with others? What about your energy when you’re NOT around IMG_3259other people?

Everything has energy and the more you research how energy affects us (from the planets to the phases of the moon to human interactions) the more I’ve become aware of the energy I’m bringing to the table and the energy of others. One way to stay in tune with your energy (and feel others) is to practice staying in the present moment and practicing stillness. Being MINDFUL is key.

Martha Beck discusses “entrainment” and how it effects beings around you  - even turkeys – when you practice stillness.

She says, You are the master of the energy you radiate. You always have a choice. Don’t fall into resonance with some random person who’s feeling lost and scared (as most humans do, most of the time). Be the peace you wish to see in the world, and watch the turkeys in your life—both literal and metaphoric—join the stillness.”

Read the full article here. 

One area I’ve been working on is to stay calm and talk less (and listen and be more) – something that’s hard for a high energy person – especially on caffeine! Like Martha’s example of the turkeys staying totally still, I’ve found my dogs like to come lay down next to me when I’m meditating or doing Pilates or yoga.

The other thing is not to let the energy of others suck you in if it’s negative. My daughter (whose schedule is the craziest this week) has some freak outs and I have to stay very aware so that I don’t “match it”. If I’m calm, it should calm her.

One of Deepak’s guided meditations, which I re-listened to yesterday, focuses on the topic of feeling and emitting energy. From the overview of his meditation:

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed,
it can only be changed from one form to another.”
—Albert Einstein

Today in our meditation we will explore our essential energetic nature. At the deepest level, we are all powerful energetic beings. We inherently possess the ability to shift the world around us with our presence and how we project ourselves. When we walk into a room, our energetic state of being is communicated before we say a word. If we’re coming from love, everyone feels it. And if we’re feeling resentful, edgy, sad or preoccupied, everyone can feel that, too. Silently, our energy speaks and our thoughts, feelings and intentions ripple out into the world.  Our capacity to affect others with our energy is both a gift and a responsibility. Ultimately, we have the power to choose how we show up and interact in this world. When we choose to come from compassion, peace, and unity, we become a powerful force for good and open the door to deep and rich relationships.

Learn more about his meditation series here. 

His advice if we’re feeling any type of negative energy is to take a deep breath and consciously shift. I’ve found that even saying “let it go” to myself or visualizing letting the “thing” go helps tremendously. Our days are so full of stressors and at this time of year – end of school – our schedules are so packed that we can become irritable and edgy. I’m not only working on not snapping in my words, but even in my thoughts. I’ve started to catch myself making judgments – even in my head – and trying to stop it and just “let it be”. See it without judging it. THAT also is about bringing energy because your thoughts and feelings can be felt by others. Even if you believe like Martha did that it’s the animals around you feeling it. For me, it would be the birds and squirrel on my deck as I work out there or the people around me at Starbucks when I’m writing and every interaction I’m having AS I’m going about our hectic schedule to get to summer.

I’m excited about starting a new Get Out summer series on adventure, courage and trying new things starting next week. I’ll post the adventures and photos and hope that it might inspire you to seek out new experiences, too. Life is about growth and taking full advantage of the gifts we’re given and seeking out (and paying attention) to those new doors being opened for us. If it’s in alignment with our purpose, we don’t HAVE to tug on the door and try to beat it down. You just turn the knob and walk through.

Transformation is all about shifting. Our thoughts, our actions. Small, big and everything in between, now and forever.

Namaste and rock the day.

xo,

Malena

*** writing update***

18K on my WIP and feeling like Jake is now fully immersed in my head so when I start writing he’s already there and I’m thinking his thoughts and feeling his feelings, which is what you have to have to keep the momentum up and let the story flow through you. I love this talk by Amy Tan on creativity so if you’re a writer, give it a view.

***wellness update***

After trying lots of new (to me) fitness classes, I’ve settled on a fitness routine I’m comfortable with. It’s still

PIE! Shared it and loved it.

PIE! Shared it and loved it.

working out every day but the “hard days” are every other day so the “light” days let my muscles relax a bit. I’ve now lost 17 pounds (since summer 2013) and while my goal is NOT to lose any more weight (I wanted to lose 10) it’s my body adjusting to the new lifestyle of eating well and working out every day. I do believe I’ll gain a couple of pounds back in muscle which is great. I’ve added more protein to my diet – especially after the workouts so that I make sure I’m not losing muscle. I don’t think I’m “there” yet in terms of reshaping my body so will continue to adjust as I learn more and see how I feel. Sending big love out to Brooke at the YMCA for being a great instructor (Pilates, Kickboxing, RIPPED) and Lauren Fitzgerald who teaches hip hop at Co-Motion. xoxo

Schedule:

Cardio – every day.

Hip hop at least 1x per week.

Kickboxing once a week.

RIPPED or HIIT once a week.

Those are high fat burning classes (up to 600 calories an hour) so then the LIGHT days I do what I call a Triple 8. 8 minutes on the stair climber, 8 on the treadmill at an incline and 8 on the bike. Then I finish up with some push ups and Pilates just to work my abs and arms. OR I’ll do OUTSIDE activities like hiking or biking. My first Get Out adventure is hiking the Wichita Mountains with my fit girlfriend, Kelley.

Eating wise, I’m letting myself have a few more “cheats” but mostly sticking to my clean/green/lean and no processed sugar or carbs. I DID share a peanut butter chocolate pie with my husband so it’s not about NEVER. He’s lost more than 20 pounds and feeling great, too. I recently added a WHEY PROTEIN powder to my smoothie after I work out so I get 25 grams of protein. At the beginning I think I wasted a lot of muscle by not refueling with protein. My meats are still chicken and tuna and turkey. I pretty much cut out all dairy but may try to add it back in a day or two a week.

Any questions or comments? Let me know. I’m here for ya.

Get Real: What refuels moms?

It’s Mother’s Day weekend 2014 and I want to celebrate Motherhood, but since this is my Get Real series where we search for our authentic truth, I wanted to share mamas occupying my heart this week and Mom Fuel:

1. Wanda Wonder Mama.  Wanda Pratt was a single mom and did what most moms do in sacrificing whatever they

KD with his mama Wanda Pratt

KD with his mama Wanda Pratt

have to and hold onto hope for a brighter future. Her son Kevin Durant is an MVP on and off the court and used his award to share his feelings about his mother, teammates and philosophy. You can hear the full speech here. He’s authentic and doesn’t let criticism get to him. What a great testament to family love. I also love that my 16-year-old gets to see KD get mushy about his mama. “You’re the real MVP.” Mom Fuel: love, hope, faith, commitment. The biggies. Thank you, Wanda.

2. Amazing girlfriend moms. I’m someone who needs to be surrounded by girlfriends. They give me energy and refuel my tank. One at time, two, a big group, a whole sorority house – it doesn’t matter. Most all of them are also mamas and truly inspire me with their gifts to their children and the Universe. I’m especially thinking of my single mom friends like Lillie-Beth Brinkman whose house burned down last week and she showed tremendous grace under pressure. (Thankfully she and her three kids were all unharmed.) It was the first house she’d bought on her own. Her strength will help them rise from those ashes and rebuild a life. My sister Amanda has truly amazed me in the almost two years she’s been a young widow and how she’s helped her children deal with the loss of their father and also just bought her first home. My sister Tina  - a mom of two boys – began running marathons in her late thirties and typically finishes in the top of her age bracket. I love that she has fulfilled that

with Jill (middle) and Ali (right) Love.

with Jill (middle) and Ali (right) Love.

dream and running refuels her. My Sooner Spaces girlfriends Ali and Jill. Ali just completed her year as PTA president and wasn’t a drama queen or diva. Because she never has been, never will be. She’s so creative and crafty and I adore her. Jill is the yang to my yen on design projects we do together and I even co-wrote a book with her, Dance Mom Survival Guide. She’s bubbly and puts up with our rap music on the car trips and even makes up some cool car dance moves. Cynthia, Tina M., Vi, Kelley – amazing women achieving your own passions and purpose while also raising great kids and still MAKE time for girl talk. Why not make a list of your girlfriend moms and what you love and admire about them and let them knowMom Fuel: living your purpose, girls nights out, laughter, listening, red wine and chocolate. Thank you, girlfriends. 

 

3. Moms who didn’t give birth to you. Whether it’s the crazy aunt who is always there for you or the grandmother who raised you or the mother-in-law who accepted you as her own, so many women around the world step into the “mom” role for other people’s children. My grandmother Zola raised my sisters and me since I was four. She’s been gone for 22 years, which boggles my mind because the time has just zapped. And just a few year gap from her passing was the entry of my mother-in-law Sheryl when I was 21, who has stuck by me through my journey through adulthood. Our differences have never caused a big conflict and she’s accepted me for me. Mom Fuel: other mothers who mother us. Thank you, Grandma and Mom. 

3 generations - my daughter Audrey and MIL Sheryl

3 generations – my daughter Audrey and MIL Sheryl

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Rod with our boys when they were 3 and 10.

4. The guys who make motherhood possible (and sometimes better!)  Sure, we can be super moms even when we don’t have assistance but to the guys who made us moms and make motherhood sweeter – THANK YOU. My husband Rod and I have taken turns being the “at home” parent and he’s on board with my hopes and dreams AND our children’s hopes and dreams. Not only do parents finance those dreams but it’s the day-to-day practices, feeding, clothing and chauffering our kids around that help those dreams become a reality. The guys can also be friends, grandparents, uncles and mentors who help make our kids the best humans they can be. It really does take a village. Mom Fuel: guys who get that we are not just a “role” and understand raising kids is their job, too and they do it happily. Thank you, Rod. 

5. Final Mom Fuel: our awesome, unique, can-you-believe-you-made-this kids. Those with more than one kid know they are each SO DIFFERENT and require being parented differently. Getting Real means acknowledging parenting is HARD for everyone even if it SEEMS like others have it easy, staying present to be with them whenever and wherever they need us but knowing others can help us take care of them, too. Who knows where the journey will take us? One day you could be sitting in the audience listening to them talk about what an awesome mom you are when they win a big award. The reality is, we don’t know how long we get to be with them, so let’s make it count. Thank you, Harrison, Audrey and Owen. I love being your mom. 

Moms:: Lose the guilt. Stop feeling like you’re a bad mom or comparing yourself to other moms. Accept help. You can’t be good at everything. Give what you have. Love even bigger. Take care of you so you can take care of others and be your best self. 

Big love to you!

xo,

Malena

 

Get Real: Finding Flow and Navigating Transformation

In today’s final mediation in the Finding Flow series, Deepak said, “beautiful truths that lie dormant are not enough.” If you REALIZE something but do not ACTIVATE it into the world, then we are not taking the crucial step necessary to being true to who we are. IMG_2665

I radiate light. That was today’s centering thought, but what does it mean to let your true shelf shine?  That was the purpose of the meditation series – finding flow. (The series is still available for a cost, but I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t.)

The end of the 3-week journey and the start of the fifth month of my Get Real series, combined with a conversation I had with my husband last night, led me to wanting to share some points about transformation – things to be aware of as you increase your awareness and navigate your transformation if you’re on this journey.

But undergoing a transformation – no matter your age – can cause people around you to wonder a) what’s wrong with you and b) try to figure out WHY you are changing/acting different or worse, offer their unsolicited advise and judgment – especially if they don’t like a particular change you are making. It can be unsettling.

While my posts are meant to share my journey through creativity and expression and living my best life, I’m by no means a trained life coach, so if you think you’d like help navigating transformation, you can find a local life coach to help you through that. I saw one in my 30s that was tremendously helpful in aligning my goals and some negative thought patterns in my life. In the same vein, it could be tough to be “true to you” if you aren’t sure who YOU are, which is why self-discovery (and I believe mind/body/spirit alignment) is so important. Here’s a link to Martha Beck’s life coach team.

Thing is, many people see self-discovery as selfish and narcissistic. All that emphasis on “me” can be off-putting even to ourselves. However, if we don’t do the work to activate our purpose, then we’re missing out. Combine that with the lens that people see you in – which is little picture – such as seeing what you post on social media only or basing their judgment on the differences they see in you versus seeing the BIG PICTURE which only you can see and all the little details that make up your transformation for your mind/body/spirit/family/home/career and so on.

What’s also tough about transformation is that it won’t make sense to those who think you didn’t need to change in the first place or think you should “just be grateful as is” or “you have no idea how good you’ve got it” and so on. OF COURSE gratitude is a huge part of your process and don’t feel guilty for making the necessary changes to any of the following categories of our lives (taken from Martha Beck’s life coaching page):

Business / Career // Creativity // Families and Children // Grief/Loss // Health and Wellness // Leadership // Mind-Body

Personal Growth // Relationships // Spiritual Growth // Weight Loss // Women’s Issues // Work / Life Balance

Come on. That’s A LOT. So putting our awareness on any of those areas can not only bring clarity, but action to improve them, which will result in more peace and happiness. Communicate with those you need to so you don’t alienate them and be honest.

People on the outside who know you but may not deal with you everyday may see a transformation “all at once” versus how long you’ve been “putting in the time.” For example, I started my wellness journey seriously in the summer of 2013 so my 16-pound weight loss was gradual but because I put more focus on it in 2014 by further transforming my diet and exercise plan, it’s become more apparent. For me, that was also trying new fitness routines to not only see how I could mix it up and keep motivated. Also my nature is to try new things and keep myself physically and mentally challenged as part of  my growth. By being open and willing to try new things, we can find what works for us. I gave myself a challenge to try a new workout every day and discovered one new thing I loved: Pilates. And today I’m trying a dry sauna and tomorrow I’m trying a RIPPED class at the Y for a different cardio option. Try something new.

Eating healthy can be tough in our society and especially in social situations. Those around you may not dig that you want to be gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. WHY DON’T YOU WANT MY PIE? Tell them, it’s nothing personal. It’s just what’s working for you. See how you feel after eating clean for a week. I swear, you’ll get hooked on that feeling. Combine that with daily exercise and meditation and look out. You’re going to feel and look awesome and want to tackle the world.

Deepak tells us that spiritual awakening is NATURAL. I think it’s important to remember that because people may call your transformation a “mid-life crisis” which sounds very negative when actually you are making very positive changes in your life. The transformation may have a tipping point and that’s what people may see and respond to. For example, when you’ve reached your fitness goal or got that new job. For me, my love for life and joy have grown exponentially. Love yourself first, take care of yourself and then that light extends to others around you. Someone commented that I can’t talk about how I’m trying to shed ego and also take selfies. However, it depends on the INTENT. Are you sharing to pump yourself up and get feedback from others or are you sharing to express yourself and it’s a key piece of transformation, whether or not you are going to express yourself on a social media platform or just in real life or a combination. Here’s a nice article on self expression that I recommend. I share not to GET pumped up, but because I’m already pumped up and want to share that joy I’m feeling. All social media is a form of self expression saying “this is me”. This is what I’m doing/eating/wearing/reading/who I’m with and so on. Which is why many people are turned off my social media to begin with. I’ve stopped reading my Facebook feed every day mostly because it was a time suck, but I still get notifications and try to check in occasionally but overall, it’s not a pleasurable activity for me. I’d rather connect with people in real life. However, I love to look at and share pictures, so I prefer Instagram. I see it as letting my light shine, but not that MY light is any brighter or better. THAT would be ego. I also don’t see my daughter posting dance pictures as ego, either. That’s her thing and she’s amazing at it. It brings her joy, whether or not she got any feedback from it.

Whether you choose to share any aspect of your transformation as some do by blogging it or sharing updates on social media with your weight loss or style is totally up to you. Some may find it motivating while others find it irritating or believe you are only bragging. I have always felt my life was an open book and it’s pretty easy to see my big picture transformation over the years in my novels, too. I don’t feel I have anything to hide.

No two people’s transformation journey is going to look the same because we are each unique. I’ll admit I feel called to work on every one of those categories above which has led to my house being less cluttered and running more smoothly, getting rid of tons of junk in my life, donating old clothes that no longer fit me, shopping for things that better express who I am, taking care of my body inside and out, shedding stress and anxiety with exercise and meditation, re-engaging the family on chores and reminding them of boundaries so I don’t feel run over, and adding more fun and adventure into my relationships. It also means less wasted time on things that distract me from my goals/dreams so I spend less time on social media and watching TV and more time out in nature and writing and visiting places and people. Fulfillment is key to a happy life, so what fills you up? 

Just get out. Get out of your head. Get out and enjoy life. In the last week, I’ve seen two live music shows with my husband, and we take different kids with us to things like H&8th, OKC Arts Festival, Edmond Arts Festival and we try to find things each of us enjoy and who we most enjoy those activities with. Getting Real means acknowledging that we need to step it up and loved ones around us might need to step it up, too. Open dialogue and communication is important. Life isn’t meant to be “easy” and your transformation may have some bumps in the road as you deal with your feelings and make adjustments.

Truthfully, I’m happier and more me than I’ve ever felt in my life. I want that for each of you, too. We’re all on a journey and the cool thing is we’re never “done.” I look forward to what each day brings.

When we’re called to be the shining light in our lives, it means “I am enough.” We aren’t looking for outside validation for our decisions, but we’re listening to our inner voice and then activating those things for more peace and happiness. What better gift to ourselves and the Universe could there be?

***

EXERCISE:

Create a list of activities and people that bring you joy and schedule them into your calendar and COMMIT to it.

WRITING UPDATE:

My new manuscript is coming along really well. Meditation has actually given me several a-ha moments about my story and it enables me to go much deeper into character and my story and “see it” for what it’s meant to be. One of my favorite parts of writing a novel is watching the story unfold over time and gaining insight into the true nature of the story as I write and rewrite it. 15K out of 85K completed.

And congrats to Heather Davis on winning BEST NONFICTION BOOK at OWFI last night! TMI MOM GETTING LUCKY is a winner! Get your copy here.