33 to-do’s for the next twelve months

  1. Publish a birthday blog (check)
  2. Create daily rituals by fully utilizing the Dragontree Dreambook & Planner
  3. Make homemade pesto with homegrown basil
  4. Go apple picking in an orchard
  5. Move to Chicago
  6. Camp in my own tent
  7. Rollerblade in the park
  8. Purge a ridiculous amount of belongings to Good Will and live more simply
  9. Find the cafe in Chicago where you can pet cats while drinking coffee (There’s such a thing as a cat cafe?)
  10. Go back to France – eat less bread; buy more Louis
  11. Find time to teach fitness again
  12. Immerse myself in education at ISPA
  13. Complete the NASM Behavior Change Specialty program; get enough CEUs for CPT renewal
  14. Find Lavender ice cream again
  15. Yoga yoga yoga
  16. Finish 3 of the 5 books I started reading (oops!) before moving on to another
  17. Map out a 5 year plan, then let God’s plan take precedence
  18. Beach vacation! Boca Raton?
  19. Live in total authenticity
  20. Get out just a little more
  21. Stay in when it feels good to slow down
  22. Try the church that happens in the coffee bar
  23. Go to a concert at the Pageant
  24. Visit the Zoo penguins
  25. Bus Tour a new city
  26. Stay away from ball park nachos … forever
  27. Practice regularly getting 8 hours of sleep
  28. Gift The Universe Has Your Back book to someone ready for a game changer
  29. Tell rad ghost stories around a bonfire
  30. See more sunrises
  31. Wear that fuchsia dress again
  32.  Fake an ankle sprain in Chesterfield; apparently that’s where the “good” paramedics are (Disclaimer: dating advice from cousin Nick to be taken with great caution)
  33. Trust and surrender to another trip around the sun full of unexpected high vibe goodness


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faded scars + hidden stories

Stories emerge from faded scars when you look at them under the Light.

My recent prayer has been asking Spirit to give me the voice to speak according to His will. This is the story He is asking me to share. This is my story of self-harm to self-love. Depending where you are in your journey and what you battle, it may or may not be for you in this moment. I want you to tune in. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Then proceed with mindful awareness. I also want you to know that while I speak on one form of self-harm, there are so many, and the message is the same. 

I am one of the lucky ones. For my pain led to lessons, and therefore planted a purpose. And yes, I have scars. They are there like ghosts that only I can see. And there are others with scars far worse than mine. May my story serve you in the highest good.

It was 1996, and I was 12. I was a child. I was on my grandmother’s bathroom floor with my back against the door and a stolen x-acto knife from the art room at school. Emotions brewed and boiled inside me that I didn’t recognize or know what to do with.

photo credit A2 Photography






Not good enough-ness.

A you-don’t-matter mess.

I had somehow learned by that point that when I dug fingernail pressure into skin, the pain created a certain release within. But like a drug I needed more. A stronger fix. So I cut. With a stolen x-acto knife from the art room at school. Broken, brokenhearted, and lost at the age of twelve.

The sight of bright red blood, and the sensation of pain somehow calmed me right down inside. Twisted, right? Exactly. So how then, could I dare tell anyone? I kept it covered. I kept it shallow. They would heal quickly and take the blame of scratches from the cat. God knows, in my animal shelter of a household, we had enough of that.

This was not a suicide attempt. This was not a cry for attention. For I was taught not to cry, and it became my intention to go unnoticed. No, this was a transferring of pain from internal to external – where it could heal in the only way I knew how. Over the course of the next fifteen years, the only people who knew about this chapter of my mess were the very few whom I chose to tell. The addiction – for that’s what it became – would come and go just as the dark days would. Some entire years were better than others. But through it all, I was still lost. I was still broken. I was still searching for a means to calm the storm of my story.

In 2006 a newly founded movement found me – now flourishing and changing the world, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) spoke straight to my heart from early beginnings. Some of you know it, and if you don’t and you are here reading my story, know that it was deeply influenced by the TWLOHA movement. My life changed more than I knew in the moment I read Rene’s story and the stories of people who continued to love her and lift her. My cutting did not end there, but a new loving chapter began. And since that day, I have learned we each speak a spiritual language of our own understanding; I have learned God is Love and Love is real; I have learned how to have unlimited access to that Love; I have learned countless ways to well-being in the mind, body, and spirit; I have learned how to live wild and free in the full spectrum of emotions that swim inside; and I have I been x-acto knife free for five years. More importantly, I continue to learn my story is so full of purpose; instead of craving an outlet to express emotional wounds physically, I now crave an outreach to teach the wounded that we have acted as butterflies when we were born to be eagles.

As I write this now, 20 years since being that broken 12 year old on a bathroom floor with a stolen x-acto knife from the art room at school… I am in awe at the ways He is using me. Teaching me. Showing me. Guiding me. And calling me to share Light. Too often, we allow our light to be snuffed under a bushel. Do not leave it there.

Reclaim your light. Own your power. Let it GLOW.

Never take your eyes off the master, for He knows things that you do not know.” -Lysa Terkeurst

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how to have unlimited access to divine Love

Ask for it. It’s really that simple.

#realtalk: People look at my life and tell me they are inspired. I tell you… I don’t have it all together.

I don’t have all the answers. What I have is Jesus. And what you see in me is HIM.

When you want access to that powerful, loving force, all you have to do is ask.

“But, I don’t know how to talk to Him.” “But, I’m not like those church going kind.” “But, for me it’s different.”

Yeah. Me too.

I was raised in church. I learned the stories. I learned the rules. I learned to wear dresses on Wednesdays. (Oh how I hated Wednesdays.) I learned to fold my hands in my lap and bow my head and recite a prayer. But I didn’t learn HOW to talk to Christ. I didn’t learn how to walk with Him daily. I didn’t learn how to conjure up that loving Spirit. I didn’t learn how to be in a very personal relationship with a very powerful Loving Presence.

Through the fault of no one life broke me and then broke me some more. I became utterly disconnected from “religion.” God didn’t exist for me, so maybe he just didn’t exist, right?

Slowly, and when I needed Him most, my eyes and heart began to open. A journey of people were intentionally and divinely placed along my path. One conversation at a time … I began talking with God. Like it were just us two having coffee. Or driving in the car. I told Him everything. What I was grateful for, and what I was afraid of. Sometimes silently. Sometimes out loud. The more I talked to God, the more I heard Spirit. 

And the more I heard Spirit, the more I was aware of being Guided. I was simultaneously experiencing what I now consider the hardest heartbreak of my life, and Love showed up for me. Love showed up in the middle of my mess, and did not leave. Simply because I believed in something better, I needed help, and I asked.

  1. Believe.
  2. Confess.
  3. Invite.

I now experience an open flow of Loving Guidance. I meditate, I pray, and I practice gratitude daily. Some seasons are more connected than others, but there’s a direct correlation to what my intentions are set on. Dark days come and go, and this life will never be pain free, but through my faith in Love I feel I am truly living rather than simply surviving. #myfaithinlovesustainsme 

So when you look at my life, and you tell me you are inspired, know that I’m being fueled by something bigger than my own plans. When you tell me you want to live like I live, but you don’t know HOW. I tell you… ask. Not me but Him.

  • for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God  -Romans 3:23
  • for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus  -Romans 6:23
  • for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life  -John 3:16
  • if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved  -Romans 10:9

I want to be on this journey with you, lifting each other up. Glowing. When you are ready to GLOW with me, it’s as simple as asking and inviting Love in:

“Dear God/Hey God/Father God/Loving Guidance/Higher Power/Divine BFF (insert any approach to the Source of the Universe that you are cool with),

I am a sinner; I need forgiveness. I believe Jesus shed His blood and died for my sin. I turn from my sin. I surrender. I invite you into my heart and life as my personal Savior.


Now take a deep breath, and let it out. Welcome to an unlimited access of divine Love.

(If this isn’t resonating with you today, that’s okay. Search. Ask questions. Have conversations. But listen to that still small voiceyour very own inner conversationfor it above all else will show you what is good and right and true.)

I love you for being here! The Light in me sees the Light in you.

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i will remember the first time i SAW you.

you the teacher. me the student. and later vice versa, depending on the conversation.

hours after we’d already spent time together.

i saw the YOU behind the mask.

your face familiar in a way that made time stop a blip.

and one that i liked.

i will remember when we first parted ways.

i searched for some reason to make the day last longer.

unable to speak my mind.

i will remember the day you crossed my path again.

unexpected. and bright.


i will remember asking to see you again.

forcing out forward words. meet me later? scary. beyond my comfort zone. and worth it.

i will remember the way you made me smile from the inside out.

with you came a sense of feeling capable. i CAN stand in my power.

i CAN own it. i CAN dream bigger.

you made me feel like me. except more.

i will remember my hand slipping into yours.

at the eleventh hour. feeling open, vulnerable, and alive.

your fingers mixed with mine.

tiny details etched in time.

and it was then i knew … i will remember you.

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What Your Spirit Sounds Like

“Something immensely spiritual takes place when we learn to choose happiness again and again.”  – my own blissful thought process after a 2.5 mile run, 2.5 mile kayak, and meditation music streaming through my earbuds among the sounds of the lake.
We all have an inner voice. Listen to her. Learn from her.  

Needing some inspiration? Gabby Bernstein is one of my go-to’s. Check out her free online backpack meditation here and use it anytime, anywhere! Need some musical focus? I’ve been digging Native American Flute music lately. What works for you? Leave your favorite meditations and playlists in the comments below.

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First Comes Love, Then Comes…

Infinite possibilities. Not the playground song you expected, huh? I like this version better. I was thinking back on my 2016 goals. (We’re five months in, ya know – Almost 6! Eeek!) Definitely a good time to reflect, recharge, and forge ahead with regained focus.

The first page of my 2016 journal prioritizes self love as my #1 goal this year. Until I actively and consciously chose self love, I never realized just how much I’ve denied myself of it. For me, this now means:

  • acceptance every day – for who I am, where I am, and what I feel
  • eradication of conflict, guilt, anger, and expectation
  • courage to dream bigger and believe in the outcome
  • slowing down; creating space for all of the above
Los Cabos, Mexico 2015
Los Cabos, Mexico 2015

The slowing down part is always extra challenging for me! FOMO kicks in; new opportunities arise; the attention hogging “ego” somehow always finds a way to pull me away from the spirit of “self.” But through it all, I’ve continued to practice acceptance every day, eradication of conflict, and courage to dream bigger. The results so far? Breathtaking.

Miracles I never fathomed are pouring into my reality. I find myself feeling abundantly fulfilled with the smallest of details. Every day is a new adventure. And for those who know me…you know I love a good adventure!

So for the love of self love, can we put an end to to the playground song? First comes love. Period. No steps to follow. No expectations. No boxes to live inside.

Oh I know, I know; it’s just a silly rhyme. But that silly rhyme is made of real words. And whether through these real words or others, somehow the world can dangerously teach us the way we are “supposed to be.” Let’s remember to teach a new playground song; one that rings of the brightness in simply being who we are.

Love yourself, and let the rest be a beautiful adventure.


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Burnout: it’s a thing

Sometimes we use our words so loosely, we lose touch with a deeper and inherently more true meaning…
I love this.
I hate that.
Best. Day. Ever.
I’m never (insert what you’ll probably do again next week here) AGAIN!
I’m so exhausted, I could sleep for 3 days.
I’m so depressed
Except then, sometimes we really are so depressed.  This is no secret if you read my last blog post or know me at all. And it’s nothing to be sad about. (Note: depression does not equate to sadness! Nor can the term “cheer up” be of any use here.) It is however, something to fight through and learn from. I’ve been plugging away lately at what triggered this massively unexpected stint, and trying to get some traction on what takeaways I can grow from. Where do I need to obey? In what ways do I need to wait? How am I meant to grow? The other day it hit me. Chatting with a professional in the mental wellness field, I was describing what my life has looked like for the past few weeks, months and years. He looks at me simply, and uses a commonplace term I don’t typically give much thought to…burnout. It’s called burnout, Kristen. It’s a thing! Is it ever…

the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.
physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
Looks exactly like the opposite of glowing, right? Looks exactly how it feels.
Interesting how a quick Google search on that one commonplace word produces results and terms including anxiety, career, depression, motivation, perfectionism, sport & competition, stress and suicide. Psychology Today describes it this way, Burnout is not a simple result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”
But I’m here. Breathing … Learning … 
And slowly but surely … rising; I’m trading my burnout for balance. Time to get refocused on the things that light MY fire – wellness & self care – so that I can get even stronger at lighting yours.
“Self care is a priority and a necessity – not a luxury – in the work that we do.”
Something exciting is on the horizon…
Something is manifesting into a brand new reality…
The Holy Spirit is doing that miraculous little thing He does when we get broken…
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Life is short. Get the chairs.

My latest life lesson, and the one I continue to learn in more depth each time, has recently taught me once again just how unpredictable life can be. 

Nerve racking.

3 months ago I was living in the thickest fog of burnout and depression I’ve experienced, ever. Breathing felt like work. Conversations were hazy. Keeping it together in social situations? Impossible. Much else was downright exhausting. The sequence of events that unfolded since then cannot even be described in full glory.

A couple of select action steps later…
Conversations evolved. Friendships restored. Doors opened. Seeds planted. New paths emerged. Bridges, while unburned, closed just enough to allow me a graceful departure from current commitments.

It was a domino effect of sorts, and it blew my mind. One thing piggybacking off the next until here I am headed in a new direction with new clarity, perspective, breath; full of love, light, and a magnitude of trust.  

When your “plan” goes “according to plan”… Beware, my friend.  Something big is brewing.

The “plan” was to stay put in my career for a while.  The “plan” was to buy a home. The “plan” was to get a grip on my crazy schedule and really enjoy the independent life I have come to live. And the “plan” was coming together exactly as I had planned….until I chose to fight back against the foggy, heavy, haze. The resulting transformation is a testimony once again to what God’s universe has to offer you when you open up to the light of the Spirit.

What in the world does ANY of this have to do with chairs??? 

The “plan” has been adjusted.

The (unfurnished) rental home is in place. 
Ample funds are in the bank. 
Craigslist has been scoured for bargain furniture, and a $30 oak kitchen table is in dire need of the perfect Restoration Hardware chairs. 
I’ve had a home décor crush on Restoration Hardware since a first look in their window display some 8+ years ago had me thinking Out. Of. My. League. A price tag like theirs wasn’t in the “plan.”  Until now.  Because frankly, why not? Life is short, and full of curveballs.
I’m getting the chairs…
And they can come with me when I go….
And whenever…
That may be. 
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Crazy + Faith

We all have our things … Gym. God. Real. Live. Therapy. Flashback to 19 days ago Thursday, September 10th…

I’m in the car driving to my first session; the one booked less than 2 hours ago that took me every bit of 31 years to go. A song on the radio catches my attention and sends my mind reeling, as it often does.  Have a listen here:
Session one is in the books.
I’ll go again next week.
And I tell my story here as an outlet for being okay.
Because for a lot of days I’ve been not ok.
And someone #amyclover once taught me it’s okay to not be okay.
On days like today, it might be that lesson keeping me some level of grounded; keeping me here.
Depression sucks. Insert a variety of vulgarity, tactlessness and cursing (which I’ll refrain from) to emphasize just how much it sucks, and it still sucks worse than that. I don’t know what’s wrong.  I can’t explain what triggered it. If I knew how to feel better, I’d be doing that. Sometimes it’s just that way. Inexplicably there. You don’t just “cheer up.”  You don’t simply “get better.” You fight. And you keep going. And you pray. And you wait. And you breathe. And sometimes even that is just hard.
Anxiety in the mix? Oh boy. Finding out NOW that my whole life was anxiety ridden in ways I didn’t recognize?….Kinda mind blowing. (Insert: “Oh, THAT’s what that was…”)
Here we are, now. Three sessions deep. Still struggling. Some days worse, some days better. Learning LOTS. And realizing just how much I’ve neglected myself lately. So preoccupied trying to be the perfect friend, trainer, sister, daughter, employee, girlfriend, roommate…..running out of space to be the perfect me.
But practicing and making intentional space to breathe. To reset. To connect spiritually with my divine light … glowing, but dim. As I align with that light it seems to slowly brighten, and I’m reminded of how I am truly, fearfully and wonderfully made. As are each of you.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:14
God’s been whispering little pieces of big plans to me lately. There’s certainly a mountain I’m supposed to move, and it’s big, and it’s scary, and if some of you knew the places He wants to take me you’d surely think I’m crazier than publishing this blog! When you live the kind of life that’s really worth living…it’s gonna hurt from time to time … and it’s gonna take a mountain of crazy and a whole lot of unshakeable faith. 
Meanwhile … Depression is a cancerous monster. 
The scariest part of all … is that it looks exactly like you on a good day. 
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Why does the rain fall after the fire?

For the first time all summer I’m beginning to feel oh so slightly semi caught up with life. Stress free? Not in the least. Peaceful? Yes.
I love to watch the rain fall out of the sky. And right now it’s falling free and hard with abandon… Like we all do at times. Sitting here under a tin roof, at the water’s edge, staring into a million drops of freshly squeezed lake water, I can’t help but wonder… Why does the rain fall after the fire?
Last night brought a tragic loss when a massive fire claimed homes and lives from underneath the night sky. The same sky that dumped out waves of rain earlier in the evening, followed by more downpours the morning after. Had the rain not stopped through the night, could it have kept the fire contained? Who knows.
Life does that sometimes. Storms come and go. Fires light us up and tear things down. The warm breeze brings peace, and the sun always shines again. Even if what once was will never again be. My heart breaks for a lot of things today, but it holds a lot of hope too…
“but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”
-Isaiah 40:31
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