Exploring Clifty Falls

“We’ve all had a heartache. And so my journey now is to find some sort of grace in the face of this defeat. And I can look at the journey, not just the destination. I can feel proud, I can stand here in front of you tonight and say I was courageous.”  – Diana Nyad

The quote above speaks loudly to me. We all face disappointment and I know that I have endured many of my own heartaches. But somehow, wandering in the woods brings out the strong, sometimes buried courageous side of myself.  Its not just about the destination, but facing head on the challenges of your own journey. Sometimes I find myself trudging on trying to get to the end destination instead of focusing merely on the beauty around me, and the strength it took to reach the top of that hill.

So much like life… some times we find ourselves wishing it away. I will be happy… when… if only…. as soon as (insert end goal). Often, I relate my hikes back to situations I am facing in life because I find there are a lot of comparisons to be made there metaphorically. Clifty Falls is one of those special places with no end destination, because there is so much beauty every where you turn. There may be a few hills along the path, but the payoff and strength gained is worth it.

A couple of weekends ago I visited Clifty with a friend of mine and did some exploring. First, we went to scope out the waterfall, because it’s super easy to get to and is a must see for the first visit. Then, we went down to the creek bed to wander around for the rest of the day (Trail 3). There was hardly anyone there that day (it was still cold) so we let the dogs enjoy some off leash time too.

For me the creek bed is always a delight. Its dried up in many areas, which allows you to explore all through it. The cliff sides and trees surround you and the beautiful creek stones and occasional flowing water makes for gorgeous views. The creek also features many large coral and shell fossils. All of these sights, and sounds let me fall away from my daily barrage of worries (again… coping with anxiety) and just savor the current moment. FYI there are many different trails in this park and it is certainly suitable for beginners.

If you live near Louisville it is only a short 1-hour drive to Madison, IN where you will find Clifty Falls State Park. Madison itself is a charming, historical riverside town. Anyone needing a place to hike this spring, and a place to enjoy the “now” should certainly add Clifty to your list of nearby visits.

 

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The Best & Worst Things About Being a Dog Mom

In honor of Minnie Pearl’s Happy Gotcha Day!

My sweet Minnie Pearl came into my life just 2 years ago, and I definitely could not picture life without her now. Yesterday we celebrated by spending some time at the dog park and getting some extra treats! This girl is affectionate, sweet, and entertaining beyond belief. Although she has the ability to drive me completely insane (chewing books, eating garbage, rolling in poo), I wouldn’t change a thing about bringing this little love bug into my life… even if I will never again leave the house without being covered in dog fur!

Worst Thing #1 – FUR Everywhere…. EVERYWHERE

One thing about bringing this little fur ball into my life is that I now have to vacuum about every other day to avoid my whole apartment being covered in a thick layer of fur, and my car… well that’s a lost cause. I rarely leave the house without fur on my clothes and my go to uniform of black on black is certainly much less chic these days. My car has black cloth interior that is like Velcro for her fur, not to mention the muddy paws all over the back seat on the way home from the dog park. I even tried using one of those seat covers, but she enjoys burrowing and has figured out how to crawl under it (pointless). Cleaning 24/7 has become my life.

Best Thing #1 – I’m More Active

Minnie keeps me very active. If we don’t get our normal amounts of exercise in, there’s no telling what I might come home to after a long work day. We go for our regular walks around the neighborhood, but we also take lots of hiking trips and trips to the park. I feel like she’s my little 4-legged accountability partner. The added exercise keeps me healthier and much happier. I am also much more adventurous with her by my side.

Worst Thing #2 – Having An Audience at Dinner

That beagle nose is a powerful thing! And those ears can hear a bag of chips opening from a mile away. I can’t even remember the last meal I ate without big brown puppy eyes staring sadly up at me. Now this is cute at first, but quickly gets old, especially when I have guests over – I am well aware that my inability to discipline her probably plays a role in this, but she’s too cute to get mad at.

Best Thing #2 – She Makes My House a Home

When I first moved to Louisville a little over two years ago I had very few friends. Although I think being forced to do things on my own was good for me and played a role in growing my confidence, Louisville didn’t really feel like home. I struggled with homesickness, which was made worse by the anxiety and depression I have always struggled with a bit. After months of thinking about it, I finally saw a little 1 year old dog on the Humane Society’s website that I just had to have. I went and got her that day  and never looked back. Having a dog greet you at the door every day with her tail wagging and a toy in her mouth brings a smile to my face even on the worst days. She definitely makes my house a home.

Worst Thing #3 – People Won’t Understand

People will not understand your relationship with your dog, especially if they don’t have one. Minnie depends on me for everything and sometimes I have to make sure I am home by a certain time to feed her, take her for a walk and spend time with her. Minnie’s day revolves around me and when I leave her home alone for too long, I feel guilty. Other’s won’t understand this responsibility. She is a very affectionate girl and she likes to be right next to me most of the time, which means she likes to be on the couch and in bed with me. This is great for me because it makes me happy, but not everyone will enjoy this in the same way you do either.

Best Thing #3 – Comfort

Although my anxiety and depression is managed really well these days, occasionally I am just off. I will have days where I feel sad, and unmotivated for basically no reason at all. My dog gives me love without judgement, which is sometimes all you need. This doggo will lay by my side on my bad days, but she won’t let me be anxious or sad for too long. Her playful antics and snuggles always brighten my day. The comfort she gives is unbelievably therapeutic for me.

I realize that I probably sound like a crazy dog lady (mostly because I am), but this dog has brought so much joy into my life over the last two years. The laughter and love she has provided is worth more than anything. She has already supported me through some pretty tough times and I would recommend anyone craving companionship get a rescue dog. If you live in the Louisville Area and are interested in rescuing an animal, I highly recommend the Kentucky Humane Society (it’s where I found Miss Minnie).

 

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My Changing Body – Another Uncomfortable Topic

For the sake of staying on track and sharing every uncomfortable issue with everyone under the sun, let’s discuss the changes that happen to women (overnight) once you enter your 30’s.

I am healthier and more appreciative of my body than ever, so what the hell is this crap!

Throughout my teens and 20’s I abused my body in ways I would now find unimaginable. I am ashamed to say I drank too much, stayed out too late, even occasionally smoked cigarettes (a thought that now makes me gag beyond belief). There were even times where I would obscenely binge on Taco Bell and Dairy Queen (oh God… the things I would do for a cookie dough Blizzard) with basically ZERO consequences. If I even entertain the thought I eating that way now, I would suddenly gain 20 pounds!

 

Throughout my teens I actively participated in dance and cheerleading, and consistently stayed on the very low end of the BMI chart, partially from training and partially good genetics. As many women often do, I took my body for granted and even nitpicked my body for no reason whatsoever. I had no idea the changes that would happen as soon as I celebrated that 30th Birthday two years ago!

I now enjoy staying active (especially hiking, climbing & yoga), and cooking is a hobby for me so I prepare dinner at home most nights and prep most of my lunches for the week. Even with those healthy changes the days of wearing size 4 dresses and crop tops are gone; instead I have to learn to honor my womanly body with all its curves, and what at one time I viewed as imperfections. I have boobs and a booty and when I am not eating right a little belly too. I am by no means overweight, but am definitely not the size I used to be and I am slowly becoming accepting of that fact – you could even say happy about it.

I am healthier today than I have ever been. Every day I try to be grateful for my body – it takes me on beautiful adventures, allows me to dance, play, run, and hike. I try to be conscientious of what I put into my body (forgoing the excessive late nights and things that go with that). I try not to pick on myself and really focus on not speaking negatively of other women because I really hope to be a source of encouragement for others. We all have “flaws” and we all harshly compare ourselves to others, but lovingly accepting ourselves and others brings a sense of solidarity and peace – even if it is total CRAP that I bust my ass with half the results of the girl I was in my early 20’s lol.

 

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Fitness Spotlight 7

Fitness Spotlight – B.YOU

Ugh the winter rut…

Over the last month I have been feeling the winter blues, and I am craving warmer weather and the beginning of daylight savings time (summer please get here). I feel like I am tired all the time, while also not being nearly as productive as I usually am. If you have been following my blog, you know that I heavily rely on my fitness routine for mental motivation, and that is especially true at this time of the year.

I also need to have fun while working out, otherwise I just won’t do it. Last week I was invited to attend a class at B.You Fitness here in Louisville, KY. This place is such a hidden gem! The first thing I noticed when looking at the website was how fun the classes look. B.You offers Barre, Bounce and Silque classes – I really can’t wait to go back to try out the candlelight Silque yoga class (if you don’t know what Silque is refer to the picture below on the right).

As soon as I walked in, I was impressed with this place. I was greeted with friendly staff at the desk as soon as I arrived. I was running a bit behind (nothing unusual there) and the instructor was nice enough to get my spot set up while I put my coat and purse away. The facility was clean, and the cheerful colors immediately put me in a more positive frame of mind.

Before taking the barre class, I really thought the class was going to be a breeze, but I have to say that I worked my butt off and felt great afterwards! The class was challenging, but being in a room full of supportive, positive women provided a powerful amount of motivation, especially after a long stressful day at the office.

Needless to say, if you’re stuck in a winter rut and want to try something fresh and new, you need to check out B.You Fitness! If you are interested in trying out a B.You class without any commitments, they will be at the Junior League of Louisville’s Tulips and Julips Art and Gift Market on February 24th (10:30AM) at Slugger Field.

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Details: $15.00 – includes 45-min fitness class, admission into the market & a complimentary mimosa ticket! To purchase tickets follow this link.

Coping with Anxiety 3

Uncomfortable Truth

Even as I just write this post, I am beginning to feel quite self-conscious and anxious. Partially because the topic has been stigmatized, and though I have mentioned it in passing on other posts, I have never focused completely on this topic. I am the face of someone who copes daily with anxiety and depression. It is something I have struggled with since my early teens, but there are times it seems to rear its ugly head more than others. This often surprises those I’m not super close with, especially since I try to share mostly positive images of my life.

The fact is I do feel really positive in my life right now, but there’s sometimes a quiet whisper in the back of my mind that likes to focus on the fact that I’m not at the place I thought I would be at this point in my life. I have mentioned this before, but it often feels lonely that I haven’t found someone to share my life with, and that I am not sure if having children of my own will ever be something that happens for me (if my dating life is any indication – probably not). As horrible as it can make me feel, sometimes I am jealous when I see others moving through the phases of life like motherhood, and I feel left behind.

It also hasn’t helped that my dating life has been less than extraordinary. I’ve been in countless relationships that start out AMAZING, but somewhere down the line I tend to begin investing too much. I invest my time, and energy, and emotional support to make someone else happy, which is certainly fine to do in a balanced relationship, unfortunately I tend to be the giver and wind up feeling completely drained and empty. In past relationships, I have spread myself far too thin, as I feel many women probably do. I become the cheerleader, the confidante, and I try so hard to be light and positive with little given in return. Often after these relationships end I slip into a bit of a depression because I have invested so much time and energy and I feel betrayed.

This is actually how the hiking hobby began for me. I had ended a toxic, long term relationship, moved to a new city where I didn’t have any close friends, and began a new career. The first 6 months were lonely, and although I told no one, a lot of tears were shed. I desperately needed to feel strong and independent – I already was, but needed to prove it to myself. Hiking began to make me feel empowered, and I often do it when I need to clear my mind and feel strong, and capable on my own as a woman.

Aside from hiking, I try to be healthy and active which is a natural mood elevator for me. I also say “No” more – without guilt. Sometimes if I am feeling off, I back out of plans. I do this, not to be an ass, but because I know that is what I need to feel recharged. Sometimes I’m a crappy friend because I don’t text right back, but its because I need some time to myself to refocus my energy. And I am not writing this as a personal pity party, because I am slowly getting a handle on my life (I think). Really, I wanted to share this because I feel like if even one of my friends feels lonely, heartbroken, or like they just aren’t where they feel they should be, that they aren’t alone.  As we all share (myself DEFINITELY included) the happiest, most beautiful parts of our lives, and rarely give glimpses into the darker corners, it feels more important than ever to share my struggles.

I want others to know it’s okay to put yourself first, not answer your phone sometimes, and choose to do the things you enjoy. It’s okay to leave unhealthy, unbalanced relationships behind, because you want to invest your energy where it’s wanted and appreciated. And it’s okay to do these things unapologetically.

How Junior League Has Impacted My Life

Today marks the 97th Anniversary of the Junior League of Louisville, and a little over a year ago I was lucky enough to go to my first Meet & Mingle where I made the decision to become a provisional and join. When I first joined I really had no idea what to expect, or if I would even enjoy it; now looking back I can’t imagine my life in Louisville without this group of motivated, intelligent, and empowered women.

When I first moved to Louisville in September 2015, I really didn’t have many friends in Louisville. Many of the people I met were more acquaintances than actual supportive relationships. After a year went by, and desperately feeling the void of not having any strong female relationships, I decided to make the leap and see what Junior League of Louisville was all about.

I also must admit, at first I had some preconceived notions of what it meant to be a “Junior Leaguer.” I had images of white-gloved ladies gossiping, all while they sipped tea ingrained in my head. I quickly realized (within the first meeting) that this was far from the case! These women come from all backgrounds, but they all have their love for the community and their compassion in common.

Since joining JLL I have been privileged to no longer just live in Louisville, but become an active part of the community. I have gained the confidence to use my voice, because I realize now that I do have the power to make a difference. My leadership skills have improved and I trust myself more because I am given opportunities to learn new skills. I have worked with numerous non-profits, hosted wonderful events like Mother’s Day Tea at Gilda’s Club, helped mentor kids on school and career goals, all while making friendships I know will last a lifetime.

If you are interested in learning more about the Junior League of Louisville, please feel free to message me, as I love meeting new potential members, or visit the Junior League website by following this link.

Volunteers of America

Volunteering has become a very important part of my life, especially since joining the Junior League of Louisville last January. For me, volunteering has provided valuable insight into the community I live in and I love having an opportunity to give back. It has certainly made Louisville feel more like home. Most of my friends know that I work with many local organizations, but I want to begin sharing some opportunities where you can become more involved.

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a meeting and poverty simulation at the Volunteers of America facility in Louisville, Kentucky. Until last night, I had heard of this organization, but didn’t really know much about the work they do throughout the region. This organization serves as a shelter for the homeless community, but not only that, they are unique among other homeless shelters because they are able to keep entire families housed together. They also serve as a launching pad to help people overcome the challenges associated with pulling themselves out of poverty. The organization provides:

  • Addiction Recovery Services
  • Veterans Services
  • Developmental Disability Services
  • HIV Services
  • Homeless and Housing Services

The Statistics

  • 4,025 people are homeless in Kentucky (Kentucky Housing Corporation, 2017)
  • Largest percentage of homeless are in Fayette County (Kentucky Housing Corporation, 2017)
  • The fastest growing homeless population is 18-24 year olds (KET, 2017)
  • There were 1,330 overdose deaths in Kentucky in 2016; 31% were among people ages 33-44 (Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, 2016)

The best thing we can do to help our community is spread the word and step up and get involved. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved in Louisville, feel free to message me. If you would like to learn more about the work that Volunteers of America does in our community follow this link.

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