Decaffeinated

It's March already!  I can't believe it.  Time zooms by so quickly.  Perhaps because it has been so busy in my world since the New Year or more likely because I have been in a flow state these past couple of months.  So alas, here we are. Springtime is upon us.  Flowers are blooming and the sun is out for the first time in a long time.  It feels amazing.  

I feel like there is a lot to catch up on.  I used to blog every single week.  I have felt that while I love the idea of more regular blog posts, once a month is a kinder option for me now as I have been getting busier and busier growing my practice.  So for now, I'm going to try out this once per month format and see how it feels!

In February, I completed a ten day cleanse based on the GAPS diet.  This was no gluten, no dairy, refined sugars, coffee or alcohol.  It was challenging in a way I didn't expect it would be.  For some reason, the first time I did this cleanse back in 2013, I felt elated and witnessed quick changes within myself.  I was used to eating ice cream every single day back then and drinking dark, heavy beer.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with these food choices, they weren't serving my body.  So with the elimination, I experienced a beautifully intense healing period that is still ongoing.

This time around, with a much healthier (for me) diet and lifestyle choices, the shifts were more subtle.  I forgot that the cleanse did not allow coffee and to be honest, it totally rattled me to realize that this was true.  I had just purchased a new coffee maker the night before, thinking that it would be a special treat for me as I worked to eliminate other addictive substances like chocolate.  It was so difficult.  Like a true addict, I was fiending for coffee for the first few days. I cursed Starbucks signs and the smell of coffee that is ever present in Austin.  I mourned.  I cried. I had a headache.  I drank green tea, which is of course, not the same.  I was, however, committed.

So I continued on. I drank more water, napped a lot, took it easy and started to feel my nervous system regulating.  I realized that what was keeping me in a constant fight or flight state was my caffeine dependence.  Nothing was really that urgent, but my body and nervous system felt like there always was.  Anything but RIGHT NOW was not an option.  I was moody and irritable and then I would crash.

There is something really beautiful about the way caffeine serves to light a fire under our asses.  We accomplish a lot in that jittery manic state, but our adrenals may be undernourished.  For me, as a 4-5 cup a day girl, my dependence was pretty profound.  Morning, noon and evening.  It was my security blanket.  A way for me to stay up later and do more.

The truth is, I'm an introvert.  I like quiet time and a lot of decompression time to myself.  I like to socialize but being around big crowded spaces isn't naturally my thing...but I was making it my thing by amping myself up!  

I've switched to decaf now and I still get the same ritualistic aspect of brewing, holding a coffee cup and of course maybe adding a little cinnamon...but it is only for the taste now, not for the side effects.  I require a bit more sleep now and often find myself falling asleep at random times, but I'm looking forward to seeing what is underneath all the jitter.  

I feel like this part of my life involves staying put, slowing down and being still and for once, I am really ok with this reality.

Until next time,

Brooke

 

Coming Home

I just got home last night from leading yoga at a retreat in Dripping Springs.  I also did a ton of body work while there.  It was the second time I've been involved with this group of people and truly, I love them.  They are easy to hold space for and they've been working on a quality of presence that makes my job so effortless with them.  It really is so amazing and such a blessing that part of my job is to go on retreats!  That teaching yoga and really loving it has opened all these doors for me.  

On the first day, Martha, the woman who drew all these people together did an intuitive reading for each of us.  We all chose angel cards from a deck and I got a card that said "TRUST" on it.  It didn't surprise me one bit as I have been grappling with this for my entire life and has been a source of a lot of anxiety for me.  That I exert my will probably more than I need to and have moments of panic when I consider all the what-ifs.  Martha has been telling me for a couple years now to trust the path that I'm on and I keep listening and it keeps working!  It just keeps working.  So, I'm hoping that I can take this message with me as I re-enter life as I know it.

I was really happy to see my boyfriend.  To go to Target and buy a coffee maker and get food for the cleanse I'm about to start.  I felt a lot of joy in the simple realization that I get to do what I love for a living.  There was a sense within me that everything is just as it should be.  In this moment, I feel more surrendered to life and what's happening and I've un-clenched my fists for now.  It feels nice.

My January body challenge to practice daily yoga was easy for me for the most part and I experienced very little resistance.  At this point, the practice is an extension of me and so it is natural to build it into my schedule.  This month with a cleanse and daily meditation, I imagine that I may come up against more resistance, but I am excited to see what unfolds.  Something about setting out on monthly challenges makes my life feel much more mindful and conscious.  I like the structure of it. 

 

 

 

Finding Warmth Within

Winter has always been challenging for me. I remember this every year-the first day it gets below 40 degrees in Austin. I find it unbelievable that I was able to live in Massachusetts, where my hair would freeze when I stepped outside. My tendency during this season is to turn inward, stay indoors, hibernate-which, I know is highly common. I somehow seem to selectively forget the winter every year and how it makes me feel...until, it's here again.

This month's challenge: Yoga everyday-is a really good antidote for my winter blues, I've realized.  It's only the second day of January-but already, I'm beginning to see yoga studios, classes and communities as a great solution to what could potentially, be a bitter problem. 

Someone said recently that going to a yoga class is the perfect being alone while being together activity.  So for the introspective, especially during winter, among us...a yoga class could be just the thing. We each have our own individual mats, and yet, we are united by a common goal or theme; to connect to our breath and to our bodies. Movement is a such a good and reliable healer.

Each day this week, I have planned out which class I'll be going to and have marked it in my calendar.  If I put something in my phone as an appointment, I will make it happen---just as I would a class that I would be teaching myself. It's a self-care date and it will, I imagine, hold me accountable to my practice, my body and then in turn, my students and the people I am close with. I imagine it will be a journey and I'm looking forward to what unfolds in January.

The word I chose to represent 2018 is EMBODIED.  I desire to live a more body-centered, body-appreciating life and as a result, encourage others to do the same. It is much different to strive for a more embodied life than, it would be to strive for a body that looks different or to have goals that are purely aesthetic (though, there is nothing wrong with that).  To love my body and honor it for all that it can do. There is gratitude in that.

So, I hope you stay warm and are able to breathe and move through those winter blues if you have them.  I'll be on my mat everyday this month!  Join me?

Body Wisdom

Hi readers!

It's been a while since I've written, but as I am working toward a revamp of my internet presence, I am also learning the value of interacting through writing.  I used to write every single week on here and it was a beautifully cathartic way to connect to what I was moving through and extend my wisdom to the world.

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The Unknown and Letting Go

Writing is such a valuable anchor for me.  Especially when I have so many thoughts circulating in the landscape of my mind.  With such a highly unexpected and devastating natural disaster hitting Texas this weekend, it has brought to my mind the idea of impermanence and that, things can change on a dime.  We seek stability and routine and assurance constantly as humans, and yet---there will always be things over which we have little/no control and in those moments, we must turn to a greater level of trust and surrender our need to grasp on to what we know.

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All Beings

I got back from Colorado exactly one week ago.  The retreat I was part of facilitating was beautiful, effortless and full of love.  The weather was colder than I anticipated and at one point, there was golf ball sized hail that left dents on most of the cars in the parking lot (luckily, I left mine at home.)  I got to teach yoga, facilitate authentic relating games and offer massage for a group of humans who are dedicated to pursuing a path of self-discovery, healing, compassion and wisdom.  Folks like me.  It was heavenly.  Together, we chanted this beautiful and simple little prayer at the end of our sessions together.  "May all beings be well.  May all beings be happy.  Peace, peace, peace."  

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The Pursuit of Happiness

I read the Declaration of Independence today.  I was curious about the language used in 1776 to talk about freedom.  I saw words like honor and humble sprinkled throughout the pages.  It is a long document.  There are many guidelines about tyrannical leaders and what can be done if a ruler is out of line. That, essentially, 'we the people' have power to usurp them.  But do we?  I rarely get political in my posts and it's hard for me even in my privilege to feel fully free in our current political climate.  Roger Waters did it justice with a giant blow up pig with images of Donald trump and the word 'charade' displayed brightly but, how can we celebrate what today represents with such a ridiculous, immature and poor excuse for a president?  I shudder at the thought.

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A Long Hiatus

It has felt like a long time since I shared myself on here.  After landing back in Austin from traveling and dealing with the aftermath of a car accident, and not to mention the tremendous business opportunities that arose during the month of June---I haven't carved out enough time to write.  I sit here now, with about 15 minutes until my next meeting about a conference I am speaking at on Friday in Houston and I think----a little of writing is better than nothing.

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The Discomfort in Slowing Down

Hi all!

I wanted to talk a bit about slowing down and why, it is an important and uncomfortable practice for me and maybe you can related.  After the car accident (I almost typed 'my car accident' but I don't want it to stay attached to me) I needed to slow down for a number of reasons.  I had a pounding headache for a couple of days and my body and mind were adjusting from shock symptoms (forgetfulness, foggy headed, and general fatigue).

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Another Fucking Growth Opportunity

Dear reader,

It's 4 AM.  I'm in Houston.  I had a very long chat with my parents last night that is now leading to this post. I figure, why not be more honest in my writing?  Why hide in it?  If my intention is to offer more of myself to my work and clients, offering a truthful glimpse into my life, why glitter it up and make it appear as if all is ok?  I know that is wildly unrealistic and frankly, not fully truthful. My life, like your life is imperfect, flawed even and I worry about what you worry about.  The truth can also set you free.  I really believe that.  I don't want to pretend anymore that this spiritual journey that I'm on or this yogic path is one of rainbows, butterflies and all good things.  Yes, it certainly helps to have a practice and to be of the mindset of surrender and letting go, but I am wanting to be more honest about what things ACTUALLY look like and feel like.  I don't want to paint the walls white anymore or ride around on a unicorn.  I want to be real. 

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Landing

Hi all!

I'm back from my travels to South Africa and there is a lot to say and still much to process and chew on from my experiences there.  I'll just say a few things on this first introductory post back and then on Monday, I'll get back to my regular posting schedule with more insights and overviews.

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How Life Moves Me

Hi all,

I didn't write last week, I'm realizing now because I traveled to Houston and the busy quality of my life and being so tapped into the present moment made it challenging for me to stop long enough to even open my computer.  I'm feeling grateful for the ocean like quality of my life and the way it moves me.

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Power in Simplicity

Hi all!

Wow.

Just wow.  I'm really living from this space of pure amazement these past several weeks.  The universe is conspiring with me and I'm getting to experience life in this different, more simple, stripped down way and I could not be more pleased by this reality.

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Discernment

I am de-cluttering right now.  I am really considering what I want in terms of connections, work experiences, social media outlets, schedule etc. etc...and today, it's feeling pretty good.  

I am nearly one year into working for myself.  I have so far, said yes to most things---and I like this about myself.  My willingness...my exploratory nature, my sometimes childlike tendency to get so curious and excited about things.  AND in that---there is a parsing down that is necessary to sustain what IS.  It's like tending a garden or cleaning shop.

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Shifting Habits

A LOT is happening in my life right now.  I'm feeling incredibly full and the richness of experience keeps deepening and for that I am extremely grateful.  Of course, as always--I'm dedicated to growth and seeing what I might be blind to in an effort to create more clarity and exist with greater ease and gift my future self with better knowing.

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Connect to SELF

This morning, I sat among my meditation Sangha, as we do monthly for our teacher training with Kelly Lindsey.  Perhaps of all the days, for me, today was the edgiest.  We are being asked to step into something that feels actually pretty uncomfortable for me.  The space of the SELF.  Myself.  Ourselves.  Solo, separate, alone, disconnected.  For 3 days.  It's not long, I know.  But, man...is it met by a resistance in me.  

For as long as I can remember, I've been surrounded by people or have been preoccupied by the thought of other.  What do they think of me?  How am I being perceived?  How to act in this group or that---and feeling all the feelings, as an empath...sometimes losing myself in the shuffle or the intensity of it all...only to reconnect later, when the necessity to be alone becomes crucial.  

What I'm getting at here is that I'm being asked to lean into a resistance of mine and I'm going to do it!  Of course I am.  Of course I can.  Of course I will.  And I know with a DEEP knowing that this is going to be great for me.  I'm certain that the patterns and habits that show up in my daily life will be shaken up so I can see beneath the dust of them.  To peer into some TRUTHS and perhaps some things I have been avoiding feeling by keeping constantly busy and surrounded by others.

A quote that stood out with particular importance this morning is one by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche saying, 'The experience of being on retreat involves a very faint, subtle sense that you are falling in love somewhere, with something.  A subtle romanticism happens through nothing entertaining you and everything coming back to yo.  It's a subtle love affair, but it's definitely a romantic one.  Our first introduction to going into retreat is an introduction to ego's nakedness and the subtle appreciation of aloneness.'

Mmm...yes.  I know what he means.  I can sense it.  I have tasted it.  Some of my greatest ideas have come about when I have given myself the space to feel them.  Not, on the other hand, when I'm living in a compression chamber of constant activity and interaction. There is not enough space there to allow an unfolding of inspiration to occur.  My defense mechanism of being busy and not creating space in order not to feel serves only to numb and, though it's true that I am busy with such rich, amazing things and interacting with incredible humans, I need to remember to take space to reconnect with myself.

My thoughts about retreat are a beach setting, likely Galveston.  A Monday-Wednesday during which I will contemplate self-forgiveness and self-compassion. I will make pancakes and connect with my inner child through writing, dance, and play or some sort.  I'm thinking this month or next before leaving for South Africa.  It's edgy for me to disconnect from the world. I think, will I be forgotten?  Will I miss out?  Will I feel loneliness?  Will I feel too much or too intensely that I'll implode?  Likely not.  I've been told to turn fear into excitement in the past and will choose to do so here, now.

Thanks for reading.  This is edgy.  This life is. I want to lean in.

Brooke

 

It's like This Now

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.  That is the one thing we can be certain about; the uncertainty.  It's Tuesday.  My day off.  I am writing this from my apartment in Hyde Park.  The air is muggy.  The seasons feel reluctant to change.  Winter one day, spring the next.  I had written an entire entry before this and it got deleted.  Ha, universe.  I know.  Non-attachment. I get it.  

So now, attempt number two, which will likely be a less raw version of the first because in my opinion, once the rawness is captured and written out once---the next time, it's likely to be a bit more polished, less jagged.  But, of course, we'll see.

My group of friends, my tribe---the original ladies I glued myself to when I moved here---my found family as I call them---have experienced a collective loss lately.  One of our friends passed away recently.   A man around our age.  Unexpectedly.  The news was an icy dagger. And now, instances of grief, grasping, anxiety, thoughts of my own mortality---of my loved one's mortality are very alive.  I called my mom shortly after and made her promise me to stay alive forever.  My little girl is full force steering the ship in these conversations.  I become 14 again, desiring to hide under my high school English Teacher's desk.  And, through all of it, an invitation to be together---to come into greater community to support one another.  And we will. And we are.

Loss is a strange thing.  It is so final.  In an instant, someone can just no longer exist in the physical realm.  It's baffling and almost too big to wrap my mind around.  And perhaps the mind is not intended to fully grasp death.  I get curious.  I have a desire to feel into my body more.  To get out of my thinking mind.  To let the process move through without justifying or labeling or creating a container for it.  It's clear that my body needs space holding just as much if not more than my mind.  I went to a restorative yoga class last night and it revealed to me just the important of stillness and having space held for me in a still, quiet space.  I fell asleep. Hard.  I dreamed.  I woke up to the final sounds of students shifting their way to a seated position.  I felt that on a deeper level, I had begun to create space to process.  And so, this will be my medicine for now.

I had written more before about life also.  About beautiful and exciting things happening in my life.  The inverse of death---the coming of spring.  But I want to leave it at process.  I want to hold the importance of receiving above all else.  It's what's ringing most true for me now.  Not accomplishments or happenings---more about creating space for what is without having to take action necessarily.  Be still.  Be you.  Be held. Fall asleep.  Don't. do. anything.

Until next week,

Brooke

The Magic of Being Present

I didn't really grapple with the true meaning of the sentiment of being present until I was 24 years old.  I was in a relationship with a recovering addict and went to my first ever Alanon meeting. My MO up until that point was that I HAD to know every single detail and prepare myself for an array of outcomes before making decisions.  It was hard on me and keeping me very stuck to do so. I would talk myself out of a lot of opportunities because of my debilitating fear of the unknown.  I can't do that because what about this?  I don't know about that because what if that?   

I thought I was going to Alanon for the addict in my life, but as most people in this recovery program will tell you---you begin to realize that the work is an inside job.  I was blessed to have a supportive sponsor for a boot camp style of reprogramming my habits and usual ways of thinking.  I came to the program with a lot of fear inside my body.  Only until I could see my troublesome ways of thinking mirrored back to me along with the affirmation that it is ok to let go, did I begin to loosen the grip on my life and surrender to the needing to know everything all the time attitude.  I began to trust in a bigger picture and felt looked out for by something greater than me.

I recently started teaching public meditation classes.  It is edgy to hold space for people in stillness and it's taking my growth as a teacher to another level.  I am having to be more vulnerable with my students and show up for them with my journey in mind, letting them into aspects of my practice and myself to allow them to see me.  To be seen in this way is sort of new.  Teaching others how to be present with themselves, is allowing me to see how I am showing up for myself.  Do I get tripped up in future thinking or distraction or am I tasting life on a moment to moment basis?

I was chatting with my friend Erika about touching into the present moment.  My mind still wants to test out every possible avenue before settling on a choice and I have subsequently talked myself out of things---I've been playing around a lot with the idea of detaching myself from the story line and instead, just noticing.  So much of my current journey--in cultivating my own private practice and attracting clients--and teaching vulnerable things--really forces me to tap into the moment.  There is so much that is simply unknown...but that doesn't mean that a beautiful thing isn't just lurking around the corner.

I taught yoga and meditation to a lawyer's convention in downtown Austin over the last several days.  For months and months I anticipated this.  Would people come?  Would they enjoy it?  What would the room look like?  Would I seem prepared and professional and taken seriously?  Would my dad like it?  Would my professional choices seem more valid through this effort or would I seem young and unsure?  

The conference itself, when finally here---didn't prove to be worth all the anticipatory worries and fears.  Everything went on without a hitch.  My dad attended my class for the first time and enjoyed it.  My mom came to each one and we spent time together joyfully.  It wasn't what I expected.  It was better and easier...like most things are.  My mind is a battlefield sometimes filled with what ifs and story lines that build and build so intensely that I create an alternate reality for myself.

I'm learning to let go a bit more and step into greater presence.  It is a necessity at this point.  I don't know what the future holds.  I have some ideas of what direction I'm headed....but there are a lot of murky unknowable things in the future that I will navigate once they arrive.  For now, I'm going to nap and enjoy the quiet of the afternoon as my window unit billows warm air into the room.

I love my life with all its uncertainty and ups and downs.  I am in a dance with it and ready to lean in more and more.

Until next week,

Brooke

Dear First Year Business Owners,

Disclaimer:  This letter is a collection of thoughts based on my own experiences as a small business owner in year one.  It is something that my past self may have appreciated reading and I'm hoping it inspires folks to stick with it, keep going and recognize just how 'normal' it is to be a human being figuring things out for the first time.

Dear first year business owners,

Congratulations!  You took the plunge and decided to go into work for yourself!  You have always wanted to be your own boss and create your own schedule in order to have the flexibility afforded by the entrepreneurial lifestyle.  

At first you may experience the most intense relief/elation/experience of serendipity and things lining up more than ever.  Opportunities seem to drop into your lap as if from the sky and you will want to say yes to all of it because your life is your own to curate for perhaps the first time in your life.  You will see that everything is happening in perfect timing without even a hiccup.  You'll meet tons of new people through collaborations and new groups you are suddenly attracted to and all will feel connected.  You will open your heart so wide that love will feel possible in all things.

You will try things for the first time, leading workshops or creating your own website and these experiences will come with them their own set of growing pains.  You will learn that you hate the computer and will often fantasize about throwing it out the window.  You will feel ashamed of your lackluster computer skills.  You will criticize yourself for not making enough time to do the dishes, laundry, and keep in touch with long distance friends.  You will notice that your priorities will have shifted to business nearly entirely and it will become obvious that you've been over doing it.  But, how would you know what your boundaries were unless you experienced a bit of the imbalance?  You are an experiencer after all.  You need to try things first for yourself before deciding what to take on.  

You will realize the importance of self-care and taking time off for yourself to recharge--and you will--but you will notice that you've become so obsessed with your phone and being available that your time away will still feel too plugged in and you will wonder why you don't feel recharged at all.  You redirect yourself and learn to leave your phone at home sometimes---that you won't miss much if you do.  This will be an exercise in trust that you will need to learn over and over again.

You'll feel guilty for not being as available as before for relationships and will need to assess where you are willing to put your energies.  You will negotiate this with yourself and realize that your friends and family are crucial to keep communication with because they are your support system and no task can be done fully well in isolation.

You will experience ups and downs.  At some point you may become depressed because of winter or relationships ending or politics or just the challenges of being a highly sensitive person---and you will want to withdraw.  You will spend more time alone and in contemplation and romanticize days that you felt better.  You will wonder if you will ever feel that good again---and you may even begin to question yourself for opening a private practice.  You may feel ashamed of your troubles with math and the complexity of taxes---and your mind might even beg you to go back to simpler times--when this stuff seemed less complicated.  When you didn't have to pay for your own health care plan or track mileage or self-promote.   But, you will push through all the painful discomfort of self-doubt because you know in your heart that this is what you were meant to do.  

The most important thing to remember is that after the challenges arise and the swirl of negative self-talk flood your mind, there will be a period of relief---and you will realize that you have been doing your very best throughout the whole journey and that there is so much more to do and experience.  That inevitably, after a contraction there will always be an expansion.  You will discover that the most important thing---all along---was to develop self-compassion---so that you could stick with the program and not get derailed by self-sabotage.  You can do it and you are doing it.

Remember to tell yourself you are proud of YOU.  That you have come so far.  That your hard work pays off and that there is nothing more rewarding than pushing through to achieve a goal.

I hope this helps!  Good luck,

-First Year Business Owner

Dealing with Emotions

This morning, I drove back to Austin from Houston and the traffic was extraordinarily congested full of construction induced detours and a thick fog that made everyone extra cautious on the road.  It took me approximately 4 hours to get from my parents' place to Dharma Yoga, where Wednesday morning meditation was taking place at 8 AM.  My body was stiff and tired from all the clenching and teeth grinding and 'are you kidding me Siri?' that took place en route.

When I finally did arrive at the studio, my teacher, Kelly who was joined by another meditation teacher, Susan Piven, introduced the topic for the day as 'dealing with emotions' and I knew I was in for it--already irritable--ungrounded from the drive and off kilter a bit from spending so many days away from my usual 'routine.'  The tears began to stream the second I closed my eyes in meditation and then came the images;

Trump's face, his words---the way he said 'Now, nobody is surprised?  Are they' when introducing the newest member of the Supreme Court last night in an Apprentice Style showing.  I began to get emotional over all of it---the pandemonium--sitting on the couch with my mom the night before saying out loud, 'this can't be real' over and over again.  I'm angry, sad and a little frightened to be honest and it's all resting right over my chest...and frankly, I'm a bit shut down by all of it...but trying to move at my own pace to process and feel the feelings instead of pushing them away.

So, this morning's invitation to meditate WITH emotions as the focal point was poignant and necessary.  What held true for me most of all is this idea that we can feel emotions without necessarily attaching a story line to them.  For example, I can feel all my sad, angry feelings about Trump without going into catastrophic thinking patterns, but rather try and stay present with the moment that exists.  Susan reflected that nothing is ever as great or as terrible as we anticipate---things tend to ride somewhere in the middle.

I'll liken this to my experience this past week with my mom at the beach.  We took off to Galveston together for a day on a whim and it was a HIGHLY healing experience for both of us.  The water, the breeze, the day with limited cell phone reception...the opportunity to just be with each other in nature together.  The two of us had experienced a very intense emotional year with many ups and downs...and sometimes these experiences would take us on a ride....what we are both noticing is that things are going to happen (good and bad) and as emotional/sensitive beings we may become highly effected by them (Trump's presidency, a loved ones illness, things out of our control) or we can put our phones down, not respond right away and GO TO THE BEACH---and realize that life goes on even in the absence of our reaction or story telling.

Today I'm easing back into life in Austin...as I will be here for the entire month of February.  It truly has been a long time since I have been rooted in ATX for an entire month without going anywhere...and I have lots in store!  The life of an entrepreneur is a wild, emotional, beautiful, messy, strange, expansive, contracted existence and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Until next week,

Brooke