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Lately Around Here: Celebrations

Lately Around here

It’s been a while since I’ve given a personal update so here are a few things that have been happening lately!  It’s Spring!  And there’s so much going on around here, I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just start with the most obvious celebration: I’m getting married this weekend! Three days from today, hopefully it will be sunny and crisp outside, Chris and I will be tying the knot.  Whoa.

And here are a few of the generous women that helped me celebrate at my wedding shower.  What a day–it was dreamy, with a harp playing and everything!  I KNOW!

The lovely ladies of my bridal party:

bridal party

My Maid of Honor (and sister) who knocked it out of the park, Olivia:

me + liv

My future Mother In Law, Susan:

me + susan

My dreamy cake (cannoli filling and chocolate mousse!):

cake

There were so many of my dear and close friends there, it felt so, so special to have them all gather for me.  It was an absolutely perfect day.

The next celebration we had was my dad’s 80th; we couldn’t let this monumental birthday go by without properly recognizing it, so my siblings and I threw him a surprise party.  We invited his sisters from hours away and his closest friends–he was shocked, to say the least!  I think he spent the first 10 minutes in the corner collecting himself, so we clearly did a good job of keeping it a secret. He he

It was a special moment to be able to celebrate this exciting day with him and his friends.  The older I get, the more I realize having my dad around as I create my own family is such an amazing gift.    It’s like life coming full circle.

Surprise!

Some of the nosh before the dinner:

Party Food

Cake, cake cake!  You can’t see very clearly, but the invitation had a picture of my dad as a kid on a pony.  It’s adorable!

Cake

Even though it’s been a fun time of celebrations, I still appreciate the gentle winks I get from the universe that everything is good.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the hoopla of everyday life that I can forget what I’m actually doing–I can forget to have fun and embrace the moment.  It’s important not to sweat the small stuff.  So when I get these little reminders, it kind of snaps me back into reality. 

Here are two I got this week–a heart at the bottom of my salad dressing (is that you saying hi, mom?) and a feather on my pants when I was working out (ignore the lint), maybe it was from a guardian angel?

salad heart
feather

On the art front, I finished another girl named Olivia (that’s my sister’s name), called “Love Who You Are”.  This sentiment is something we always talk about–loving who we are, warts and all.  It’s a journey for sure, because we all have that inner critic that is never satisfied; but we need to remember daily to love who we are.  Because we’re fabulous as is.  (Prints available here)

Love Who You Are

 

And here’s a peek of another girl in the works (almost done with her!)

In progress

So that’s a little of what’s going on in my world right now.  I’ve slowed down a bit on the art front, but I know that will pick up after the wedding.  There’s only so much a girl can do, and I’m ok with that.  From taking a breather, I have a few new ideas brewing and I’m also working on a big project that I’ll announce in a couple of weeks!

Stay tuned,

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Lately Around Here: Celebrations2018-03-29T20:23:10-04:00

On Being Guided + My Word of The Year

As I was reflecting on not making any new year’s resolutions, I decided to pick a word for the year instead.  I feel like picking a personal word  as a theme is a powerful statement;  It’s a way of setting the tone for what I want.  I’m committing to letting this one little word show me what I need to know this year.

Have you ever felt like you’re being ushered along your path in a certain way?  I experience this all of the time.  It’s not only a gut feeling I get about what choices to make, but it’s also the signs that appear all around me like magic.

If you allow yourself Because of that, my word for this year is: Guidance.

And I’m not just talking about the typical best-friend-or-parental-advice-type of guidance, I’m talking about guidance from my own inner compass as well.  I want to be guided by my heart and feel my way through it.  I want to be guided by signs I get from my everyday life, because those moments can often be the most powerful–sometimes the easiest and best path is what is right in front of me.

When I hear a stranger’s kind word, a nostalgic song or see a cardinal in the yard, I know there’s a message for me there; I just need to tune in to the moment and figure out what it is.

And at times, I can feel almost crazy at the uniquely, bizarre guideposts that pop up:

~ Like when I was feeling a little homesick for the US while climbing Mt Fuji and then ran into a college friend halfway down my descent of the mountain (yes, in Japan!)

~ Or when I happened to find a Nepalese surgeon to help me when I was in dire straits in a village halfway around the world.  He was trained for a short time in NYC and his brother lived only 30 minutes from me in NJ (of course he did.)

~Or how geese  fly over my head when I’m outside and having a particularly sad moment of missing my mom.  She loved geese + I know it’s her way of saying hi.

Those experiences showed me I was being seen + helped along the path I was meant to go.

Signs are everywhere.  They are my guidance.

This is going to be a big year for me.  For my art, my relationship + the dreams I’ve had–they’re coming into full bloom.  I’m going to need the support and strength of an open heart + mind through all of this, so I’m really excited about being guided.

I can’t wait to see what the universe has in store for me.

How about you?  Do you have one word that seems to call to you this year?  I’d love to hear what it is.

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On Being Guided + My Word of The Year2018-03-29T20:23:13-04:00

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?

When was the last time you did something for the first time?  Click through for some tips on how to get through first times like a breeze!

First times are exciting and new.

I saw this question about trying something for the first time on pinterest and it got me thinking about first times.  There’s something so precious + scary + fun about first times; I remembered my first time learning to drive a stick shift on my friend’s Geo Tracker when I was on vacation in Florida (Hello 90’s!).

The most I remember about that time is the patience he had shown me as the car was lurching + grinding forward; I learned a lot faster because he was kind.

First times are scary and intimidating.

I remember the first time I got the lead in a school play: It was a small yet important part (ok, I was a princess), but I was up against one of the prettiest girls in school.  I remember thinking I was just going to try my hardest and not think about my competition.  I was scared to try out so I was open to suggestions + I was willing to try what the director suggested; as a result, I got the part.  It felt like a new world of possibilities opened up from that–it was a good lesson in letting the fear go and taking risks.

First times are about being open and acknowledging what you don’t know.

I remember the first time I tried yoga–  I was coming off of a bad break up and I was desperate to feel something other than sadness.  That first class was extremely uncomfortable–I was sweating like a pig and my muscles were shaking to embarrassing levels–but something cracked open in me.   I finally got out of my head and I felt like in trying that new way of moving, I learned a new way to look at things.  Yoga brought me back to myself in a new way.

First times are a lot about trust + leaning in to that fear of newness. 

As we get older, first times get harder because we think we’re supposed to already know everything we need to know, but that leaves little room for growing + learning.  It doesn’t allow us to make mistakes.  We need to keep trying new things no matter how old we are, so that we learn more about who we are meant to be.

A few years ago, I started taking a formal painting class.  In the beginning, I felt awkward and uncoordinated.  I was almost embarrassed to go because everyone else was so much better than me but I wanted to make painting a part of my life terribly, so I kept showing up.  It reminded me to ignore the fear and focus on the benefit.  Now, here I am with my own shop of prints + products.

When trying something new, you don’t have to know how to do it or know the outcome–you just need to be willing. 

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Do you have thoughts about this you want to share?  Come on over and tell me!

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?2018-03-29T20:23:14-04:00

Art In Progress: Trust The Magic

Art In Progress: See how I create Inspirational art for kids + the kid in you. To learn about art technique + my motivation for creating this piece, click through for a peek. See how paintings evolve from start to finish! Original artwork by Stephanie Martel.

 

So here’s the beginning–I was obsessed with that aquamarine blue color as a child and something about it makes my heart leap a little, still.  I always liked the “blue-green” color in the crayola box (not to be mistaken for green-blue, of course).  The things you remember from childhood are so funny.  I just threw some colors on the canvas to get something going…
Trust the magic1

 

 I added some shades of purple and reds to give it a little punch.  Drips here, spots there…

Follow the magic 2

Here’s a close-up of my favorite area.

 

piece of trust the magic

 

I added some stamping along the border and collaged in a dress for my girl.

 

Follow the magic 4

 

I painted in her sweet face and added details to bring it together, along with the stamped sentiment.  I love how she turned out!  Such a gentle reminder that we need to listen to our hearts more and trust the magic of it all.

 Trust the magic

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Art In Progress: Trust The Magic2018-03-29T20:23:18-04:00

Testing Your Limits vs. Honoring Them. {What Bootcamp Taught Me.}

Last week I was coerced by the manager of my gym to try a new group workout; it was a bootcamp of sorts but with less people and it was run by a personal trainer.  My workout routine is pretty predictable, so trying this class was a wild departure for me.

Just to set the record straight–I love a good workout.  I love to sweat out the day’s stress and feel that physical tiredness.  So, even though I wanted to be excited for my adventurous workout choice, my internal dialogue sounded like this: “This is a bad idea, I don’t do well in these classes!  I’ll feel so uncoordinated and awkward, I’m probably going to hurt myself”. 

smooth seaThat wasn’t a proud moment for me–I was taking on a new challenge and I was immediately admitting defeat.  I think it was because deep down I knew what was coming–I’ve peered through the window at those classes and I’ve seen things they do in them.  I knew that I would try too hard and push beyond what I knew was good for me, just to prove I could.

So on the night of the class, I walked into the room and saw  hanging contraptions, weights, those dreaded  jump boxes, and overall pain inflicting items; I panicked.

True to my expectations, within the first 5 minutes of class, we were doing deep squats with a 20 pound bar.  Next, we started rotating in pull ups (oh my GOD!)  It was my own private hell but I wanted to be brave, so I dug in.

There’s a difference between challenging your comfort zone and honoring your limits–only you know what that is.

As I awkwardly trudged through my third pull up, I pulled a muscle in my neck that ran down to my upper back.   That inner voice came roaring in saying, “I knew this was going to happen!” Part of me wanted to be tough and stick it out. I wanted to show them (and myself) that I could do new things, that I too, could be tough like them.  But I I had to stop–I was in so much pain that I couldn’t turn my head.

I was so annoyed for ignoring what I knew to be true: that my body and mind don’t do well with these kind of workouts.

It was then that I realized the only person I was trying to prove something to, was myself.  No one else cared if I did the squats or the pull-ups; the other participants didn’t even flinch when I walked out the door, they were too busy focusing on themselves.

The experience was a good reminder of the difference between challenging myself (which comes in a gentle nudge or whisper, with feelings of excitement) and pushing beyond my limits (which shows up as tightness, nervous mind talk and thoughts of worst-case-scenarios.)

We listen to our inner voice to gauge danger; it protects us in times of need–and never trusting that inner navigation creates anxiety and fear because it takes away comfort and stability.   Other times, we try new things to test our limits because it’s important for growth.   If we aren’t open to new experiences, we become stagnant and stuck.   Only you can determine when it’s a good time to test your limits and when it’s time to honor them.  

The key is to strike a balance between the two.  You may discover the balance in a boot camp class, but you won’t see me there.

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Testing Your Limits vs. Honoring Them. {What Bootcamp Taught Me.}2018-03-29T20:23:21-04:00

How To Follow Your Gut Instincts. {What Cues Are You Listening To?}

Gut instincts: we all have them.  But do we always let them guide us?  Call it a spidey sense or women’s intuition, following your gut is a great barometer for making decisions.

gutLast year around May, I started feeling a little strange: I was shaky when I got up in the morning, I felt foggy and I was always tired.  I had talked to my doctor before about always feeling run-down and we chalked it up to my active lifestyle.

So when these new symptoms popped up, I got a full blood work up to see what was going on.  When she ordered the normal blood tests, I’m not sure why, but I asked her to test my thyroid.  I had no history of thyroid issues, neither did anyone in my family (it’s often hereditary) but something in me wanted to dig a little deeper, so I just went with it.

Four vials of blood and 3 days later showed that, yes, I indeed had a thyroid problem that was causing all of these issues.  On one hand, I was a little freaked out–what did this mean?  I was supposed to be uber-healthy from my green smoothies!  And vitamins!  On the other hand, I felt so validated and relieved.  That tug in my subconscious was all I needed to prove my instincts were right on.

The gut is not only where we digest food and get our energy, but it’s also where our nervous system houses the inner workings of where we make our decisions– a.k.a our ‘gut brain’.  Without even realizing it, we gather knowledge and store it as patterns in our subconscious.  When something flashes as part of a pattern, we recognize it as intuition; it gives us instant feedback on what we have already collected.

But when we look outside instead of “in” and are guided too much by those external factors, our decisions lack a lot of that valuable intuitive feedback that we know deep down, is best.  Our intuition knows things our rational mind cannot, no matter what the reasoning.

When I’m making a big decision, I try to always use my gut and these are 3 ways I tap into it:

  1. Get quiet. I go someplace where I can sit down and close my eyes, alone.  I focus on the first option and walk through what I believe may happen.  I notice the feelings that come up in my body and if any thoughts/memories are triggered.   I try to write down the reactions for each option.
  2. Review each scenario and how my body reacted.  I take note if my stomach tightened or my shoulders rose (a personal indication of stress).  It’s important to think about what happened physically when I thought about an option.  Breathing easy and feeling lighter means I’m getting closer to the solution.  Feeling tight or constricted is a signal that the choice may not be right.
  3. Imagine the other side of the decision.  I try to start from the end.  Does it call to me in an exciting way?  Or does the transition seem overwhelming?  Feeling settled and resolved is a great indication it’s a good choice, even if it doesn’t totally make sense.  Reflecting on what could be often helps me decide the best route to take.

If you find yourself at a decision crossroad and you’re not sure which way to go, try to listen to what your gut is saying to you.  Chances are, it’s speaking to you in a few different ways and will guide you if you’re willing to listen.

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How To Follow Your Gut Instincts. {What Cues Are You Listening To?}2018-03-29T20:23:22-04:00
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