Yamacraw 20K | You have to be brave somewhere

Heading into this weekend, I was stepping into and out of my comfort zone all at once. Trees and the mountains have always been my true love. Running is a close second. Heading towards the mountains for a trail race felt as natural as raising my children.

As we made our way west, it dawned on me I had no idea what I was driving towards. I had done little research. I didn’t scrutinize the details of race day. Dropping from the 50K to the 20K after a small tear in my quad sidelined me a few weeks ago, I had a false sense of confidence heading into race weekend.

I was “only” run 12ish miles. I could handle whatever came my way.

My false sense of confidence worked in my favor this weekend. I followed the race instructions, boarded a bus, got dropped off at a trailhead with a cone and a timing may start line, and I ran when the race director shot off his gun. I had zero race day nerves until I hit the trails.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Christian and I started together. We would decide as we went if we should stay together or run separately. Out of respect for other trail runners (because I assumed everyone else at the race was experienced and more trained than me), we started at the back of the pack. One by one we ran single track trail into the woods. We descended stairs. We crossed streams. We slushed through mud puddles. We played.

I started this race timid. Slipping and sliding through mud, I wondered how long it would be before I took a tumble. Slipping on rocks at river crossings, I wondered how long it would be before I fell into the river.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

I read these words on my way out of town, and they echoed in my head for the first few miles of the race. When nerves and doubts bubbled, I repeated them. Pick brave. You have to brave somewhere.

A few miles into the race I found my footing. I became comfortable. I quit second guessing my ability to run hills. I didn’t over analyze where I should take my next step. I just ran what was in front of me. This crazy trail run become an extension of me. By mile 6 when we approached a river crossing too deep to cross by foot, I felt alive. We crossed the river by raft and ran on.

From here everything went up: the elevation, my attitude, and my confidence. Christian and I were still stride for stride quietly taking turns leading and following. He pushed me passed my timid ways in the beginning, and now it was my turn to push him to finish stronger than he started.

During one of the final descents down the mountain, another runner yelled out to me: fake your confidence. I glanced back, laughed and replied: “it’s like you’ve known me my whole life.”

That gentle nudge to own my run allowed me to open up my stride, to embrace the downhill and to trust that I could run this trail. When the finish line bridge became visible, I felt a strange mixture of pride and sadness. Proud because I finally embraced myself on a run. Sad because I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready for it to be over.

Christian and I crossed the finish line together, and I know we are both eager to get back out there. The trails have so much to teach us, and this weekend we just scratched the surface.

As we make our way back east towards the beach, my heart aches a little. There is something about the mountains that can’t be replaced. I need them in my life. My heart exists within them.

For now, I’m going to carry their lessons with me. This year my goal is to observe, and yesterday I saw a new spark in me. I saw a girl who chose brave and who gave herself space to work through timid in a way that works for her.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Finding myself in comfort and discomfort is invigorating. I’m coming home awake.

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Safety in Freedom

As I ran towards the park on the Cape Henry Trail, my goal was simple. With every stride I took, I wanted to feel my foot hit the ground. I wanted to feel the connection between me and the earth. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push forward. I was there to feel my run. Every other thought was left behind me.

I have found myself sitting across from my therapist on a frequent basis these days. In this space I bring my thoughts with me. My goal is simple. I want to feel myself existing in my world. I want to feel my connection between me and my world. As I sit quietly in her peaceful room, the goal is the same as it is when I put on my running shoes. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward. In this space my thoughts comfort me. My body is left behind.

The year of waking up delivered me to a place of observation. With my eyes wide open, I am seeing everything. I’m seeing my light, my wounds, my joy, my hurt, my strengths, and my weaknesses. I’m seeing myself.

I’ve discovered a pattern in my life. I crave safety, yet safety is the one thing that feels suffocating. My need to feel safe and protected has driven me to tuck myself away. It’s a basic human need. We all need to feel safe.

The more I’ve observed, the quieter I’ve become. My own words have failed me lately. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a full story to tell that I’m looking to find comfort in the words of others. My moments are filled with devouring books of women who like me are trying to fly free. I feel clumsy in my own being knowing that I’m outgrown the cage I’ve created for myself.

I crave freedom.

“The psyched and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

So many people have asked me what comes after the year of waking up? Maybe I finally know the answer. Maybe the next chapter is knowing I’m safe when I fly free. I don’t have to remain small or rooted to be safe. There is safety is soaring. There is safety in taking flight.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is how I make sure I’m safe. It’s through reaching and connecting that I’m able to absorb all I am. It’s how I push forward. It’s how I fly.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is what comes next.

We Belong Awake

“That’s the one thing

There’s no safety in desire

Preserving life is as good as dying”

🎵Andrew MacMahon

As 2017 comes to an end, one thing has become crystal clear. If you want magic in your life, you have to create it. Magic doesn’t find you. You have to bring it to your life.

Living life awake doesn’t just happen. Every day you have to deliberately make the choice to wake up.

It’s risky. Sometimes it hurts. It leaves you exposed. And it’s magical.

Maybe that’s what makes New Year’ Eve and the New Year so appealing. It’s an ending and a beginning all within one second of each other. The ball drops, and you get a brand new year.

That’s the magic. That’s being awake.

Within one second of everything in life is being alive. You never know when your one breath away from your best or your worst. When the ball drops or things fall apart, you get to start again. If we never let the ball drop, we never get a new beginning.

As 2018 approaches, I have one goal. It’s to observe life without judgement. It’s to allow myself (and others) to exist as I am.

I belong awake.

We belong awake.

The only way to live is to allow ourselves to be one second and one breath away from our best or maybe our worst.

Cheers to a life of magic. Cheers to being awake.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Cheers to 2018, a year to let go of judgement, to observe, and to participate relentlessly in living life awake!

Just Observe. Don’t Judge.

Just observe. Do not judge. These words have become the echo to all my thoughts and actions. I didn’t know it when I went to that yoga class a month ago that the practice would become the welcome mat to this next chapter in my life. I didn’t even realize on that night I was turning the page to a new chapter.

When life is challenging, how do you feel? How do you react? Our instructor asked us these questions? I answered them. During my practice, when it got hard I judged myself. I’ve done the same in life. I’ve felt weak and not strong enough. I’ve questioned my mind and my heart. I’ve forgotten to welcome it all. I’ve forgotten that there is no right or wrong. There is just being.

You can’t exist in the present if your not observing what your feeling.

You can’t exist in the present if you’re judging your reactions.

This practice doesn’t just apply to the times when life is challenging. It also applies to the times when life is good, when you feel alive, and when you feel awake. Just Observe. Don’t judge. My year of waking up started as a goal for my spring race season. It twisted and turned and become less about running and more about living.

Just Observe.

Don’t Judge.

It’s a simple practice, yet it is nearly impossible to implement. Since that yoga practice, I have craved more. I’ve felt myself being drawn back to my roots and all the thing that ground me. I feel myself being pulled towards my yoga mat, the trails, and movement. I feel myself existing in my body and through my body.

When asked what is next, I’ve answered over and over again that I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know. This new chapter is less about what and more about existing.

Existence comes from observation. Existence lacks judgment. Existence happens when we embrace who we are.

This week I placed my rooted mala around my neck. It’s been a long time since I’ve reached for this set of beads. I was feeling unsteady and unsure. When I bought this set of beads, I wanted a reminder to stay rooted in my life, in my family, and in my community. I was creating a foundation. This time it feels different. This time the roots are not things, this time the roots are me.

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Life can be so complicated and noisy. Marriage gets hard. Parenting is never easy. It’s easy to fall away from who you are.

But then something happens, and your invited back to who you are. It can be something as simple as unrolling your yoga mat and a simple movement of your body. Just Observe. Don’t Judge. If you don’t, you’ll miss the invitation to exist in your entirety. You’ll miss the welcome mat to your life.

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The New York City Marathon |Experiencing Magic

“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!” ~Dan Millman

I don’t know where to begin, so perhaps I just need to start. This theme of not knowing but also moving forward became a thread that ran through my entire marathon journey, so it’s no surprise I find myself feeling the same way 4 Days Post Marathon.  Don’t search. Just go!

This journey started with a simple yes! When a friend I’ve always admired asked me to join her at the New York City Marathon during her chemo treatment, I screamed yes. Would I fundraise too? Yes! Every time she asked, I said yes. It lead me here to this place of pure joy and satisfaction. 

This weekend was magical. Every moment. Every detail. Every mile. It was all magic. 

But how do you explain magic? You can’t. You have to see it and you have to believe in it. That is what this race has been for me. Seeing and believing in team, in community, in dreams, in friendship, in myself, in a cure, and in achieving. What started as a dream of a friend conquering cancer ended as a dream come true. She did it! We did it! I see and I believe! 

With Karen and Janet (world’s best race support!)

The way the details unfolded can only be described as magical. My job at J&A Racing granted our team Race Director credentials. We were given VIP race bibs, VIP transportation, and access to the VIP pre and post race accommodations. Karen’s story of survival allowed our team to be invited to walk in the parade of nations. We shared dinner with our favorite Olympians, Ashton and Brianne Eaton. We were invited to run the first 10K of the race with the Eaton’s in the first wave of Runners. 

When you defeat cancer you deserve every ounce of magic. Karen deserved every bit of happiness that was showered on her this weekend. As her supporter, I ran beside her in disbelief that this experience belonged to me too. 

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In all my weeks of training, I felt insecure. My running has slowed down. My team mates are fast. Every time I heard them say they wanted to run as a team, I secretly wished they’d run their own race. I didn’t want to hold them back. I didn’t want to be the weakest link. 

They wouldn’t let me run alone. That wasn’t what this weekend was about. We are a team. We are friends. We are unit. We got to New York together, and they would not let my insecurities get the best of me. We were running together. 

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The race cannon went off. A few minutes later we were running across the Verrazano Bridge. It was magical. Our group of 20 Team In Training member were running with the Eaton’s. We ran together for the first 10K at a pace that was faster than I have run all season. I didn’t care. I felt alive. My pace dropped into the 9s. I felt alive. Karen, Steve and I kept glancing at each other. Our faces all said the same thing. This is really happening!

Go Team! Go Kristy! Go Karen! Go Steve! 

We were flooded with cheers! 

With the Eaton’s

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My race plan was simple. Run the first 10K with the Eaton’s. Cool down for 20 Miles. Have fun. Share the miles. 

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The first 10K flew by. We said goodbye to the Eaton’s. We didn’t slow down. The energy on the course was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It propelled me forward. 

We hit the half way mark. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Our friends were at mile 17. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

There are very few times in my life that I’ve felt so alive. 

At Mile 17

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Those fast early miles and my lack of training caught up to me around mile 18. I didn’t care. I didn’t want the race to ever end. 

Running through The Bronx was the toughest spot for me. I was in a lot of pain, but for the first time ever I didn’t doubt myself. I knew it would be tough. I knew I would hurt. But I also knew I could do it. 

There is no joy without pain. 

For the last few miles I experienced both at a magnitude that can only be described as magical. 

Approaching the Finish Line

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This journey was for Karen. Every mile, every dollar raised, but I was rewarded with a priceless gift. I was given magic. 

I got to witness the magic of conquering cancer. 

I got to witness the magic of team. 

I was given the magic of friendship. 

I gained the magic of belief. I saw my strengths. I saw my teams strengths. I saw our strengths magnify as we worked together. 

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This journey isn’t over. In my heart we haven’t crossed the finish line yet. We are just beginning. There is so much more  magic waiting for us to see it. I don’t know where to begin. All I know is I’m getting started. 

We Did It!

An Evening with Brene Brown

I wish I could bundle it up. I wish I could gift the entire world the words I heard last night.  I wish I could take all the words I heard last night as I sat in the auditorium at George Washington University listening to Brene Brown speak about belonging and sprinkle them on every single person. We need her work and her words. I need her work and her words. 

It all made sense. As she spoke, I understood the sadness, the fear, the loneliness that has manifested itself into hatred in our world. It doesn’t matter who you voted for or what religion you practice (or don’t) when we look at this humanitarian crisis we are facing. 

We’ve forgot we are human. We’ve forgot we are all connected. We’ve forgot that degrading one woman, dehumanizes them all. We’ve forgot hundreds of years of history where we dehumanized people because of the color of their skin. We have to rehumanize ourselves. We have to rehumanize each other. 

For 90 minutes Brene spoke about her work, her new book, and the current climate of our country. It all made sense. We have forgotten we are all human. 

The evening ended with an auditorium filled with 1500 people and not one single empty seat joining together in a moment of collective happiness. Through music we united. We sang. It was silly and awkward and joyful. Together we shared joy. Music and Brene’s brilliant work gave us this. 

This morning after getting home sometime in the early morning hours, my 13 year old woke me up to tell me there had been another shooting at a concert.  50 were dead. Hundreds were hurt. They came together for collective happiness, and this happened. I asked him to turn off the tv.

I feel asleep filled with hope. I feel asleep understanding how we got here, and a small glimmer of hope of how to move closer to being human again.  Waking up to another attack of terror (because that’s exactly what this is) made it all confusing once again. How did we get here? 

I haven’t turned the news back on. I don’t need to. I can feel it. I can feel the sadness in my heart and in my head. It’s lingering in all the spaces that surround me. We’ve forgotten we are all connected. A mother grieving for her child is felt by every mother. It’s up to us to acknowledge it. 

In those 90 minutes that Brene spoke last night, I heard clarity in so many of our issues. My brain is scrambling to piece them all together so I can logically take the next step forward. While my head scrambles to find facts and reason, my heart aches for no reason other than there is a lot of sadness around us. There is a lot of hate. There is a lot of fear. 

As I walked to my car last night, I said to my friend I wish I could ask Brene one question. I wanted to ask her what do I do now. As a member in the audience who sought out her research, what do I do now? How do I move it forward? 

Today I saw her answer as I opened my eyes. It’s my children. It’s the people I touch. It’s my reach. Tonight, instead of watching the nightly news, I asked Cole how he felt about the shooting. I asked him how he felt about kneeling during the national anthem. I asked him if he had friends at school who were transgendered or gay. He awkwardly answered while I patiently waited. The more he talked the more his awkwardness disappeared.  I listened until he asked me what I thought too. 

Thanks to last night and the amazing research of Brene Brown, I could easily articulate my answer. I believe we all want to talk long enough until our awkwardness disappears. We want to protest or fight back until we are rehumanized. We want to be seen. 

I kissed my boys good night a few extra times this evening. Maybe just maybe raising them will help bring humanity back to our planet. 

We have to talk about these things. We have to talk about the hard painful things in life. We have to talk about the things that feel awkward to us because it’s not our normal. We have to reconnect ourselves. We have to share our ugly truth. 

We have to be human. We have to remember we are all human. 

Fulfillment.

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

There’s a reason why the word full is part of fulfillment. In order to be fulfilled, life has to feel full. Your heart has to feel full. This weekend I came head on with the meaning of being full. If you’re not careful, if your perspective isn’t right, fulfillment can feel heavy. 

My alarm went off Saturday at 4:20am, and I contemplated sleeping in. I knew if I did I’d be robbing myself of my Sunday, so I woke up. I headed towards the beach to tackle another long run in this training cycle. I was tired. I’ve had a full two weeks that included travel, working a race expo, racing, and a charity gala on top of my daily duties of self, wife and mother. As Saturday approached my full week was tipping the scale towards exhaustion instead of fulfillment. 

I ran predawn miles with a new friend. I met my training team for more miles as the sun rose. As the miles ticked by, I felt heavy. I felt tired. I started to feel overwhelmed and burden by all that I’ve been carrying. I knew it was time to let my pack run ahead of me. 

As I slowed to a walk, my running partner Jaime slowed down too. With nothing but compassion and encouragement in her eyes she said to me I’ll slow down if you need me, but I’ll let you be if you need that too. In that moment I knew I needed to turn inward, and I needed to do it alone. 

I moved forward. Slower than my new normal pace, but I was moving forward. 

Our team ran trails on Saturday. When I came time to head towards the exit of the park, I made the decision to turn left. I still had at least 7 more miles to conquer. The moment I turned left to head deep into the woods on the back trails, I knew I was going to be okay. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I kept moving forward. 

I walked most for those 5 miles in the woods. I walked, and I sorted things out in my brain. 

Things can be hard, and I can be okay. 

A run can be slow, and I can be okay. 

It’s a new concept for me. When things have been hard, it’s defined my entire life. Hard things equal a hard life. Turning left into the woods was a defining moment for me. I realized while wandering through the woods that sometimes to get out of your head you have to be willing to go into you head. Hard things simple equals a hard thing. 

I’ve been busy. I’ve been tired. I’ve also never been happier. My new busy and tired has forced me to reprioritize my time and where I place my energy. It’s made me more intentional at home as a wife and as a mother. It’s made me reflect on how I take care of myself and my body. 

Never in my life have I felt more fulfilled. That fulfillment, that feeling so full, can be quickly twisted into exhaustion and being overwhelmed if you forget to approach life with gratitude. 

After my five miles of walking, a little running, and a lot of thinking, I left the woods feeling renewed. I was greeted by my Training Team the moment I emerged. They sent me off to finish the last 2+ miles of my run with a smile on my face. 

The moment I finished I knew it was worth it. I had my Sunday back to spend time with my boys. This particular Sunday was better than most. It included squeals of delight as Chet experienced flying through the sky for the first time. It included Cole experiencing freedom as he wandered Busch Gardens with a friend by himself for the first time. 

Life is full, and my heart is so incredibly fulfilled. I may just need to go to bed a little earlier to fight off the exhaustion. 

RNR Philly: The City of Runner Love 

2:23:17

This is the number on the race clock as I crossed the finish line beaming today at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon. 

Let’s start with the truth. I’ve been struggling with confidence as my running has slowed down. Years of chasing sub 2, and missing it by one minute and missing it by a lot left a void in my journey. Somewhere along the way faster equaled better. Sub 2 was good. Everything else felt like failure (for me and my personal journey). I’ve had so many wins along the way, but a cloud clung to me as I failed to perform physically at the speed I wanted to perform. 

Summer running rocked my confidence some more. With a marathon on the horizon, I’ve run more miles this summer than I’ve ever run. Runs have been slow. The 9 minute miles are a distant memory. Not running 9s anymore caused me to doubt my ability to run. Somehow running 10s, 11s, and 12s seemed less than (for me and my personal journey). 

Let’s talk about the reality of this race. I was in Philly to work the expo. This meant standing for hours each day on concrete floors. This was also my first visit to Philly. This meant walking double digit miles each day to explore. My goal for this race was to run faster than 2:30. Based on my recent runs, the humid and hot forecast for race day and my lack of confidence, this felt like the appropriate goal for me. 

The first 3 miles hurt. My legs and feet were fatigued. My calves were cramping. I doubted my race. I held on. I knew I’d walk through each water stop to hydrate, so I just needed to make it to each stop. 

By mile 3, my legs loosened up! The course entertainment was amazing, and I reminded myself to smile. I wasn’t there to prove anything, but I was there to prove to myself I could embrace my race regardless of pace and all those false lies I have told myself for years of faster being better. I could have my best race yet without setting a personal record on the race clock. Mentally I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a race. 

At Mile 5, my favorite elite runners ran by cooling down from their own blazing fast race. I love the sport of running and sharing the course with these athletes is one of the many reasons I run. What other sport allows you to compete with the pros?

By Mile 9, I was feeling the fatigue, the hills, and the humidity. But that’s race day. Mile 9 shouldn’t feel good. Mile 9 is the place to start working. After my third stop at medical for Vaseline for my chafed thighs, I spotted a girl I had seen at every medical tent dealing with the same issues. We said hi and decided to run together. I found energy in my run again. 

By mile 12, I felt like a brand new runner. All the fatigue had left my body. All the doubt had left my mind. A mile later I crossed the finish line feeling more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time. 

The cloud of doubt that was lingering over my ability to preform at the New York City Marathon disappeared today. I’m working on getting physically ready, but today I proved I’m mentally ready. 

Faster doesn’t equal better. Not for me. Pouring my heart into something I love, dedicating my time and my effort to achieve something great, and overcoming mental doubts and insecurities, that’s my version of best. That’s why I run. I run to know that I can handle whatever gets thrown my way and I’ll always cross the finish line feeling proud. 

Thank you Philly for filling my heart with love!

Magical Maine

What if there are no rain clouds? What if there is only sunshine? 

A very good friend said this to me as we discussed sharing our joy! I have no problem exposing my weakness, sharing my heartache, and exploring my failures. Sharing my success is hard. Existing in a place of joy doesn’t always seem to fit. It’s what I’m trying to grow into right now. I am forcing myself to be comfortable with joy! 

Last week my boys and I boarded a plane heading to Maine. It’s been my dream to show my boys the world. When I was pregnant I would daydream about exploring with my children. I wanted to wander into nature and get lost with them. It always felt like a dream. After having Cole, I quickly became a single mom. When we moved back to Virginia, my dream was to create a life for the two of us. I craved roots and my dreams of wandering shifted to creating stability. 


As I boarded that plane last week I couldn’t help but feel proud. It was a dream come true. I was taking my boys to see part of world that remains untouched beauty. We’d hike and explore. We’d climb mountains. We’d splurge on ice cream every night and lobster dinners. I’d say yes more than no. As I boarded that plane, I was exactly the mother I have always wanted to be. 

Maine was magical. Every morning I woke up feeling alive. In my unwashed hair and no makeup face, in my recycled outfit from the day before, I felt at peace in my own skin. I felt my most beautiful. I’ve found this feeling in so many places around the world. I’ve found it in movement. I’ve found it in friendships. 

As I climbed mountains with my boys and discovered tidal pools filled with ocean treasurers, I realized my dream isn’t to show the boys the world. My dream is for my boys to discover a place of existence where they feel like their authentic self. For one week they got to see me at my best. I got to show them how I embrace life. 


They sat beside me in an old theater as we listened to an acoustic concert by Brett Dennen. Tears freely fell down my cheeks as his words healed my recent heartbreak. My boys stood beside me on the top of a mountain as we took in the beauty of the world from up above. We watched humpback whales breach. We explored islands that can only be reached at high tide. We skipped rocks on a secluded beach. 

Every night we sat down at dinner, and we all took a turn saying our favorite moment of the vacation so far. I can’t pick a favorite. The entire week is woven together to create this magical masterpiece that I’ll never forget. 


As I write this I feel compelled to tell you about our struggles during the week. I want to tell you how Chet wouldn’t eat. And how Cole and Chet battled over silly things. I want to tell you how Christian and I didn’t agree on our approach to both situations. That’s my habit. I highlight my weakness. In this new space of growth I’m deliberately  (and some what uncomfortably) focusing on the sunshine. 

I feel myself shifting to this new space. I feel myself expanding. I’m in a place in my life that feels like my own. I’m my best self right now, and I’m surrounded by people who are helping cultivate it. 

What if their is only sunshine? What if I really am stronger than I think? What if I finally give myself permission to be my best self? What if I learn to grow from my happiness in addition to my heartache? 

I’ve arrived at a place where I get to live my dreams, and I get to dream new ones I never thought would be within my reach. It’s amazing what happens when you give yourself permission to celebrate your own joy. 

What if there is only sunshine? It’s time to find out.