the collection .3 | body positivity

Two weeks ago I happened to listen to two different podcasts that touched on positive body images. Whenever something like this happens, I feel like it is a sign. A little superstitious, I know. This had been on my mind because I have tracked macros for a year to monitor what I eat. Due to my Type A personality, I took a system that is supposed to optimally fuel your body and turned it into a negative experience. I would get really down on myself if I went over on my macros or went out to eat, making the entire experience not very enjoyable. This also transferred over into negative self talk and body image which equals high stress/unhappiness. I was thinking about food all of the time and how my eating style would help fix the things I did not like about myself. This is the farthest thing from being loving towards myself and eating to nourish my body. Listening to Starting the Conversation on Body Imagine from the CHAARG podcast and Dealing with Hormone Imbalances from Exercise from the PaleOMG podcast helped me realize that:

  1. I desperately need a break from tracking my food
  2. I have to work towards a happy body image
  3. I have to find joy in exercising again instead of just using it as a means to eat “more” food
  4. The amount of time I spent hating something small about my body took up too much of my time and energy when I could have been focusing on other things

Taking time to be nice to myself has helped in so so many ways. I can allow myself to appreciate how far I have come on my journey. I can enjoy food again instead of just thinking about how much or when I could eat. I am not having crazy binge episodes. I am sleeping better. I am in a happier mood. I am falling back in love with exercise and celebrating the small victories.

If you feel like you need a break from something, take it. Life is full of seasons and change. Just because you feel like you should be doing something doesn’t mean it is right at this time in your life. Remember to do what is good for you.


be present

I tend to always think about the next thing I have to do. The next task, the next place I have to be, the next step in planning a trip. While remembering what I have to do can be beneficial, it often pulls me away from fully focusing on what I am currently doing. I notice that I do this. I notice that it creates a lot of stress because there will always be something else to do.

This past weekend, I went to my favorite coffee shop (hey Six Shooter Coffee!) to relax a bit and read. The book I was reading naturally touched on mindfulness and fully experiencing each moment. Doing so creates gratitude and reduces stress. I read this and laughed a bit to myself. How could I have forgot this? How do I always get swept up in the things that I feel like I have to do to get ahead?

I put my book down and soaked everything in that was going on around me. The smell and taste of my cappuccino. Customers chatting at the front counter. The sun pouring in through the side window onto my table. The soft music playing in the background. The breeze coming in through the propped open front door (Ohio weather is amazing and unpredictable).

I felt contentment and happiness wash over me. Even writing this now, I still feel it. I was reminded of why I love going to coffee shops and reading. That taking in the little moments is so important because life is made up of little things. Little meaningful moments.

I encourage you to slow down and really observe what you are doing or where you are. Take time to pause and be all here.

yosemite part 3: cathedral lakes

The stories all start the same for hiking, as in, Mitch and I wake up early to be the first ones on the trail. Gotta beat the crowds, people! Really though. We parked on the shoulder of Tioga Road across from the Cathedral Lakes Trailhead. As Mitch was packing up the bear canister, I of course was observing the clouds and sunrise across Tuolumne Meadows. If you don’t know me, I deeply love clouds. I could watch them all day.

 Ugh. Pictures can't fully capture the beauty of this sunrise.
Ugh. Pictures can’t fully capture the beauty of this sunrise.

Since we chatted about clouds, we can now go back to the hiking story. We popped our bear canister in a food locker and we were on our way! We were still the only ones at the trailhead and I was pretty happy about that!

We started our ascent up the trail. Surrounded by lodgepole pines and mountain hemlock, we were shaded the majority of the hike. Everything was lush and beautiful. As we took our time hiking, we soaked in the silence of the woods and the clean air. Nothing is like mountain air. I wish I could bottle it up and take it home with me each time I leave moutains but that is another story. The switchbacks weren’t as bad as the previous hike but we could still feel a slight burning in our quads. We would stop occasionally to take a look at how far we had come, really admiring the elevation.

The entire hike to the split in the trail for the upper and lower lakes, we only saw a couple of backpackers. It is always fun to see where they are going and how long they have been out. Some of them had been out for over a week just hanging out in the wilderness! So amazing! Be friendly to fellow hikers, it is always fun to learn from them (if they are chatty of course)! At the split, we thought we were heading for the upper lake when we actually were on our way to the lower lake. The lower lake of course did not disappoint! The trail crossed a river, a rock fall area, and eventually made its way to a lush clearing.

A river wound its way through the meadow, making the ground soft and mushy (bring it on mud!). We had a good time going off trail and just hoping across the channels to make it to the lower lake.

The lower lake was so cool. It was essentially nestled in a big granite bowl and the granite happened to make the perfect place to rest and snack. Mitch and I reclined on the rock, watching the clouds roll by and listening to the water gently lap the granite shore. The amount of contentment that washed over me while we sat there was enormous and even writing this several months later, I can still feel how calm and happy I felt in that moment. The sun on my face. The gentle breeze. The wispy clouds. So so amazing.

After relaxing on the shore for a while, we decided to head to the upper lake. We backtracked along the trail and eventually made it to the spot where we were supposed to turn initially. Though going to the lower lake first was certainly the best in my opinion.

The upper lake was just as beautiful, presenting awesome views of Cathedral Peak. I spotted a rock that went out a little bit into the lake and decided that we had to go there. It was the perfect spot to dip our feet into the crystal clear water. But don’t be fooled. Just because it was sunny doesn’t mean the water was warm because it most certainly was chilly! It was totally worth it though because now we can say we put our feet in an alpine lake (later on this trip, Mitch jumped into one at 10,300′ which was way cooler than me just dipping my feet in).

We hung out for a bit just admiring the views and chatting with fellow hikers. Since it was getting close to the afternoon, we decided to head back down to the car. At this point, the trail was pretty crowded and noisy. It was nice to enjoy our morning solitude while it lasted.

Overall, the hike was pretty relaxing, totaling out to be around eight miles. It had to be an easy hiking day since we were moving to Yosemite Village tonight and hiking Half Dome the following morning. We were both pretty excited to head to YV because there were showers! It had been a couple days since we were clean! We really take for granted how nice showers are since we have them everyday. Go a couple days without one and it is one of the most amazing experiences. Try it. Clean has a whole new meaning.

 Half Dome Village sign feat. a clean Katie!
Half Dome Village sign feat. a clean Katie!

So. Half Dome Village is an interesting place. There’s camping, yurts, a lodge, a dining hall, a gift shop, and several other attractions in Yosemite Valley. We both thought it was an odd spectacle in the middle of the NP. The only reason we wanted to stay here was to be as close as possible to the Half Dome trailhead (other than getting the shower code). If you like peace and quiet, I would recommend that you don’t stay here since it was incredibly busy and everything was jammed together. Though we did see some very funny people there (imagine couples rolling massive suitcases through wood chips to get to their “fancy” yurt). On another note, it was very smokey down in the valley compared to our previous camping spot. You can see the smoke in the picture above. The wildfire smoke just settled here, especially if it wasn’t windy. We checked into our yurt and laughed since it was so expensive for essentially a tarp on top of a wooden frame.

 Inside our yurt.
Inside our yurt.

We organized our belongings, packed our bags for tomorrow, ate dinner, and showered. It was going to be an early night since we were waking up 3:30 AM to hike the first half of Half Dome in the dark. Cheerful from happy bellies, we hit the hay to prepare for our early morning.

yosemite part 2: cloud’s rest

Now. Cloud’s Rest was one of our favorite hikes in Yosemite. The amazing views and final climb on the exposed ridge line were just stunning. I highly recommend this hike due to the beauty of the hike and pretty low traffic in the morning. Our round trip hiking for the day was 14.5 miles and it was so worth it. Enjoy!

Mitch and I woke up early and arrived at the trail head around 6:30 AM. There was only one other car there when we arrived so we were pretty stoked. It is always peaceful to start hiking and just listen to the quiet woods around you.

The first two to three miles were the most difficult with lots of switchbacks. Large boulders as steps were the norm. Though it was worth it, we were greeted with beautiful views and surrounded by a pine forest.

We stopped to have a snack once the trail opened up to a rocky clearing. We lounged on rocks and explored the area a bit before taking off to finish the climb. The sun was starting to come out and it was thankfully a clear day. Hooray for no smoke!

The final climb of the trail was a crushed rock incline with limited shade. Once reaching the final ridge climb, the view down into Yosemite Valley was beautiful, we could even see Half Dome!

Hiking the ridge was very fun and a bit scary. These experiences always remind me of how nature is powerful and can be unforgiving, especially with the steep falls on either side of the ridge. The picture barely shows how steep it was!

Once we made it to the top, we hung out in the sun and soaked in the views. It was stunning! We could also see peregrine falcons riding thermal vents. I don’t know about you, but I was stoked to see them. I love birds of prey!

Overall, the final elevation was 9,931′ and we climbed over 2,000′ to get there. It was certainly worth it! P.S. looking back on these pictures makes us laugh at what we were wearing. Fashion is certainly not the most important thing to us while hiking! Regardless, still funny. After hanging out for a while, we hiked back down to our car before heading off to find our new campsite for the night.

We settled on Aspen Grove Campground in Inyo National Forest, which is first come first serve and ten miles outside of the Tioga Pass entrance. Like the name, the campsites are nestled into an aspen grove right next to a river. It was such a nice place to stay even though there weren’t any showers! Once picking a site, we set up camp since we would be staying at this campground for a couple days before moving to Yosemite Village. The day was rounded out by heading to visit Mono Lake in Lee Vining, reading, and journaling. Stay tuned for Yosemite Part 3!

creating contentment in your life

Constantly focusing on the next best thing creates unhappiness. We start to criticize ourselves and possessions. We compare ourselves to others. It creates discontent in our current life. If these thoughts start to get out of control, we start to lose sight of what can make us happy each and every day. Finding joy in what we do have creates contentment. It cultivates an attitude of gratitude. I read the following quote by Epictetus and thought it was a good analogy for how to look at life and reduce wanting.

Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don’t stop it. It hasn’t come yet? Don’t burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth — one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.

— Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15

I try to remind myself of this quote when I find I am being critical of my situation. That finding contentment eludes us when we are always looking for something else instead of focusing on what we currently have and being thankful. Your situation could always be “better” if you are always focusing on what you don’t have in life. I am not saying that if there is something that you want to not set goals and strive for it, but to be thankful for where you are in your journey. Take time to appreciate how far you’ve come. Enjoy the journey.

yosemite part 1: north dome and may lake

Yosemite National Park has been on our list for a while and we were so excited to be able to go in 2017. It was a great trip filled with amazing views, memories, and hikes. I am happy to be able to share it with everyone and write about what we experienced each day. I hope our journey leaves you feeling inspired and excited to go on your own adventure and get outside!

Our first night was spent outside the park in Stanislaus National Forest at the Lost Claim Campground. The site was peaceful and right next to a river. Not a lot of traffic comes through since this campground only has 10 sites (a nice bonus compared to the much larger campgrounds in the national park). We arrived in the afternoon, pitched our tent, and then decided to have dinner in Groveland at a restaurant called The Iron Door Saloon. It certainly had a lot of character! There were dollar bills tacked to the ceiling, farm equipment hanging on the walls, and of course lots of taxidermy! We filled up on burgers and then went back to the campsite to relax a bit before our week of hiking began.

 Porcupine Creek Trail Head

We woke up early, packed up our camp, and drove to Porcupine Creek Trail Head to start our North Dome hike. We wanted to start off with a hike that wasn’t too difficult since we did not do a lot of training before we came out to California. Plus, we read a lot about North Dome and it had to be one of the hikes that we got in on our trip! The trail starts off in a pine forest and then leads to the first ridge of the hike!

Once we made it past the couple of ascents and descents in the pine forest, we hiked along the first granite ridge, eventually traversing down the side of the granite face to be able to reach the base of North Dome.

 The view of North Dome from the first granite ridge!
The view of North Dome from the first granite ridge!

We continued hiking, following a path worn into the rock and enjoying the feeling of the sun on our faces. It was a pretty warm day! The view from the top was stunning and we admired the mountains that were surrounding us. From the top of North Dome, you can take a look at Half Dome looming in the distance and also peek into Yosemite Valley. It was so smoky from the wildfires but we still enjoyed it!

We spent some time admiring the views and snacking (Snickers were the snack of the week) until we turned around to head back to our car. Along the way, we took a small detour to see Indian Arch and Mitch climbed up into it! At this point in the early afternoon, a lot of people were on the trail and it was not as peaceful as the hike up. We prefer to wake up early and get to trail heads when barely anyone is there to be able to fully enjoy the peace of the forest by ourselves. It is always a wonderful experience!

 Indian Arch

Once back to the trail head, we fired up our mini stove and had one of our Mountain House MREs for lunch. Mountain House is our go-to MRE brand while camping since we really like all of the different options and they never disappoint! After chatting over lunch (yay lasagna!) about the next hike, it was decided that we would hike to May Lake as a cool down. It would only be 2.5 miles round trip and it seemed like the perfect way to close out the day before finding our next campsite.

 May Lake, Yosemite National Park

In total, we hiked 12.4 miles on our first day. A perfect way to start our Yosemite adventure! Stay tuned for the next segment of our trip!

the collection .2 | a review of daring greatly

Have you ever experienced a vulnerability hangover? Where you open up to someone and after the fact completely regret what you did and feel like you want to hide? When I read about this is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, I was pretty excited that she had put words to my feelings. I have certainly felt this way since I enjoy having more one-on-one serious conversations opposed to everyday small talk. I am not afraid to share things about myself in the moment, but later in the day I end up worrying about what that person may think of me and if I made the right choice. These occasions have brought about many questions concerning vulnerability and honestly, if it is worth it.

 Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly touches on important points:

  1. it takes courage to be vulnerable
  2. people have to earn the right for you to be vulnerable with them
  3. vulnerability is not a weakness
  4. the only way to truly dissipate shame is to place the light of vulnerability upon it since shame thrives in the darkness

 Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Learning more about vulnerability has opened my eyes to the importance of vulnerability with loved ones and in other situations. It is nice to know that if I start to doubt myself about opening up, that I can call upon courage for help. That each time I call upon courage, it grows. I cherish the moments where I do let myself open up and I am received with kindness and non-judgement. The relationships where I can share my stories continue to grow deeper each time.

Overall, I picked up Daring Greatly on the fly and I am so glad I did! If you are interested in learning more about vulnerability, wholehearted living, and shame research or you are trying to work up the courage to share your story with a loved one, I highly recommend this book. If you have read it before, let me know your thoughts in the comments! I leave you with a parting quote to encourage you to continue to go into the arena and dare greatly.

Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my life and what daring greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my own life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.

— Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

breaking through fear

This past weekend I broke out of my comfort zone and conquered a fear. I want to share my thoughts to encourage you if you are struggling with committing to a new experience.

 breaking through fear

I had recently signed up to take an inversions class alone and in the moment was very excited. I could not wait to learn more about forearm balances and handstands! However, as the date of the clinic crept closer, the more I experienced fear seeping into my thoughts. I knew I was happy to go further my practice and learn but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would be judged in some way. I was fearful that other people in the class would judge me for not being good enough at the poses and that I would be a failure. The realization that my main fear was judgement was freeing.

These feelings root in perfectionism and the feeling of not being “enough”.

Identifying the area of fear allowed for vulnerability to shine through and encouragement to be accepted. I was able to come back to my initial reason for signing up for the clinic, which was to further my practice. I feel stronger for having this experience and breaking through fear.

What type of thoughts are holding you back from signing up for a class or experiencing something new?

the collection .1

The Collection will be a series of short posts that detail something that I enjoyed during the week. I find that it is important and beneficial to observe what is around you and the content you are feeding yourself. So welcome to The Collection series!

Throughout this past year, I have really started to enjoy listening to podcasts while I am driving or working in the lab. I like that they help the time pass and make a seemingly monotonous task much more enjoyable. The Tim Ferriss Show has become my ‘go-to’ when I want something to chew on all week.

One of his recent podcasts was The Master of Second Chances with Catherine Hoke, the founder of Defy Ventures. Defy radically changes the lives of men and women that are or have been incarcerated by helping create career paths and business ventures. Now. You may be skeptical about this (as was I) but my opinion was completely turned around after listening to all of the wonderful things Defy is doing to help these people.

Throughout the entire podcast, Cat talks about forgiving yourself for your mistakes and breaking down self-limiting beliefs. I was so touched by this because I think everyone holds onto something that is limiting them in some way. Whether it is something that happened five years ago or yesterday, it is important to forgive yourself and work to not become defined by your past. You are in control of your actions and emotions to determine how you greet each new day.

Since I spent the entire week listening to this here and there, I spent a lot of time thinking about the negative self-talk that plays in my head. How am I negatively impacting my growth? What am I actively convincing myself that is not true? For example, if I am having a very bad day at the gym, I automatically start convincing myself that:

  1. I  am unteachable.
  2. The effort I am putting in is worthless.
  3. I am not making any progress.

Reading those thoughts in a centered state of mind makes me very upset. I know none of those thoughts define me, but when the negative self-talk starts to creep in, it is sometimes hard to push it out. I have worked to notice when I am telling myself a negative story so I can get out of that mindset as quickly as possible. I recognize that everyone has bad days and I am not always going to be the best I can be. That learning comes from the struggle and some days are going to be harder than others. On these days, I work to remind myself that I am enough. No matter how the day turns out, I am enough and did meaningful work today, no matter how small.

So what are your self-limiting beliefs? How are you not forgiving yourself? Take some time to think about these and meditate on them. Start forgiving and building yourself back up again.


a reminder to breathe

I am reminding myself to breathe when I get


Take a moment to pause and collect myself. These emotions are normal, but need to be managed. Today is a new day. Greet each person with kindness and love, remembering that they are human too. Equally full of emotion and struggles.

Project kindness and receive kindness.