Guest Blogger

Lessons in Solitude – Guest Post from Kirby Elaine

Life lessons come in many shapes and forms. When Kirby of The Joy List started following me on Instagram, I instantly loved her vibe. Her perspective is refreshing. Another person looking for good in the world, and perhaps more importantly, good in themselves! She was kind enough to share some of my musings on her blog, and I am thrilled to have her share her thoughts as a guest contributor here today. Beauty in solitude and returning to self.

Author: Kirby Elaine

Her Website: www.thejoylistla.com

Her Mantra: “love the life you live”

If you asked me three months ago what my greatest “achilles heel” was, I’d say loneliness. The vulnerability that came from sitting at home alone or walking through this world as one set of footprints was so foreign to me and not something I had any interest in exploring. Three months ago, I made a decision to begin what I am now calling my “Self Love Journey,” but let me say, this decision did not come without it’s challenges. For months I had felt a burning in my throat and sharp pains in the middle of my chest, and any time I placed my hand on my heart I heard a voice, a voice that so sweetly and simply said “you need to be alone.”

 
I tried to silence it, not wanting to give into the vulnerability of what actually being alone might hold for me. I filled the empty spaces with more food and more alcohol, I kept my mind busy with my bartending work and copious amounts of classes and scene work for Acting. And ironically, every time I sat down to write, I immediately found a distraction or reason not to. Ego control, anyone?

What I can now see so clearly is that I wasn’t ready for the whole truth, and writing is, and always has been a truth-seeking practice for me. I sit down and my fingers channel the truth of what lies inside my heart. So let’s just get down to it and say that my heart finally won the battle (thank you, my strong, beautiful heart). My solo Journey began, and what I soon found was that without the distractions and worries over others and how I was affecting every single person I came in contact with, and without the self-
doubt and self-sabotage, I was able to tap into the childish innocence I have always known was inside and that I have always valued so deeply as one of my gifts. Through the journey of being alone I have remembered and repaired the relationship of who I am to ME.

I am a lover
I am a lightworker
I am joyous
I am that girl who get’s excited over beautiful fruit at the market
I am the one who stares at each Sunset as if I’ve never seen one before
I hug people deeper and longer than maybe I should
I tell people I love them, all the time
I share my gratitude with myself and anyone who will listen
I don’t apologize for my new ways of thinking and living
I don’t shrink myself to fit was is “acceptable”
I laugh loudly
I speak up
I do things that others may not always like, and that’s ok with me, because no matter what, now I always lead with nothing but love, and I stand up for myself when I feel my boundaries have been crossed.

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Three months ago I was a different Woman. Myself, yes, but I was scared and overwhelmed and weak from self doubt and guilt. Three months ago I truly and honestly didn’t know why I was even still here, I didn’t understand how I could possibly have a purpose, and within three months (less, if I’m being honest) I have found my life’s work, my life’s purpose, and each and every day I walk around with my head held high, buzzing in gratitude and anticipation for the gifts the day ahead of me will bring.
No matter how alone you may feel now, no matter how lost or weary, know that there is a way out, and it comes from Self Love. It’s time to fall deeply, madly, head-over-heels in love with yourself. It’s time to empower yourself to live the life you deserve, and if you ever need guidance, never be afraid to ask, we may be just meeting now in these words, but I’m always here – THAT is my gift to you.

Stay hungry my friends, I promise that this life has SO much for you ❤
In light and love,
Kirby

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Kirby lives and works in LA and describes herself as the following: hugger. writer. actor. improviser. dancer. dreamer. lover of animals. advocate for a healthy mind|body|soul

You can follow her on her blog or on Instagram.

The Beauty of Everyday Adventure – Guest Post by Joey Holmes

I love when other writers approach me with beautiful ideas to share. When Joey emailed from Europe and asked if she could write something on the adventures we create in our daily lives, I jumped at the chance to see what she had to say.

Read along and start adventuring. Bonus points if you guess which of her suggestions I am going to do in the next few weeks!

Author: Joey Holmes

Her Website: www.coolofthewild.com

“In every walk with nature, one receives much more than he seeks.” – John Muir


I often question why being outdoors is such an important thing to me. Maybe being born in December and being cooped up inside for the first 6 months of my life has something to do with it. Or perhaps it was that, when the weather permitted, my mum would be outside with me on every given opportunity. But whatever the reason, there is something about getting outside and embarking on adventures, no matter their size or ambition, that lights a spark in me.

Recently I have started to take note of the things I say when I’m outside adventuring, and the way I feel or react to my situation. And on reflection I’ve come to realize just how important it is for me to be surrounded by the beauty of nature: an ancient woodland, a colorful bug, a stunning view, the dying light at sunset. These small, seemingly insignificant things are what drive me to get outside as much as possible and to open my eyes to the beauty that is out there.

Last year I challenged myself to cycle 70 miles across Wales, sleep on the beach and cycle back again. I loved the physical and mental challenge and the feeling of independence and strength that it gave me. But I was on a schedule to get from A to B before the sun went down, and I found it really frustrating that I couldn’t take the time to stop and enjoy the waterfall, or to lie down for half an hour to listen to the silence and take in the sense of freedom that my adventure presented. So I promised myself that, moving forward, I would always try to allow for that time of reflection and appreciation of what amazing things nature offers me on my adventures.

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This got me thinking about how adventure is so different for everyone. Stepping out of ones comfort zone and embarking on something new, unusual and exciting can be all sorts of things, and doesn’t have to be grand or significantly life changing. Anything from cooking your dinner on a hill after work, to spending weeks at a time exploring far-flung corners of the earth. Regardless of the scale, seeking out adventure always uncovers beauty in one form or another: in your surroundings, in the actions of your fellow adventurers, or in the feeling, emotions and thoughts within you.

With modern life getting busier and more hectic every day, it’s easy not to make the effort to get out adventuring. And even easier to forget to appreciate all that beauty when adventures do happen. So for a little inspiration on how to get some adventure into everyday life, here are a few simple things to try each week:

Dining out

  • Cycle to work instead of your usual mode of transport
  • Cook your dinner on a campfire – even if it’s in the backyard!
  • Take a walk along a river at sunrise
  • Climb a tree in the park
  • Have a sunset picnic at a place with a stunning view
  • Take a night hike
  • Go for a swim before work at your nearest wild swimming spot
  • Take a run to your nearest park on your lunch break
  • Climb a hill and do some yoga at the top
  • Build a den and read your book in it – even if it’s inside
  • Take your camp stove to work and make your own coffee in the park at lunchtime
  • Hang your hammock in the park after work and enjoy listening to noise of the city

Planning and then embarking upon mini-adventures is a great first step to getting out more. But to truly reap the benefits of all that adventure has to offer, I believe that it’s essential to take the time to sit back and pause. To really breath in all the elements of the beauty that is uncovered through seeking out the unusual, daring and exciting.

So whatever adventure is to you, make sure you do it with open eyes, arms, ears, mind, heart and nostrils(!), to fully absorb all that beauty that’s yours for the taking.

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Joey Holmes

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, or hitting the trail in her running shoes .

You can connect with her here:

 Facebook    Twitter     Instagram    Pinterest

 

If you are interested in contributing to 52 Beautiful things, send an email to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. 

Home is Where the Heart Is

Forgive my tardiness. Yesterday seemed to get away from me. It is with great excitement that I post another guest contribution from reader Melody. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on love and responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge.”

Here is her response.

Home is where the heart is.  It’s cliche, but it’s so true.  Today is Valentine’s Day and I love Valentine’s Day.  As a little girl Dad always made sure that Mom had roses and a big box of chocolates, while my sister and I were gifted a single red rose and a tiny heart box of chocolates,  It wasn’t the flowers and candy that made me love Valentine’s Day though.  It was the town I grew up in.

Loveland, CO is the Sweetheart City, and it lives up to it’s name. I’ve lived all over the United States and small towns everywhere put up Christmas decor on their streetlights; declaring to the community there is a reason to celebrate. And while that happens in Loveland at Christmas, what truly made it special to me were the February streetlights, happily decked out with giant red hearts. You could pay to have a special Valentine’s message placed on one for all the world to see.   My memories are crowded with images from childhood.  Sitting in the back seat of the car driving down Eisenhower next to Lake Loveland, I would dream of the day I’d see my name on one of those beautiful ruby hearts.
I haven’t lived in Loveland for 18 years now. My parents moved to Oregon 11 years ago.  And every February my heart grows a little bit heavy with the missing of my hometown.  Last March I returned to Loveland for a funeral.  I stayed with family friends and saw lots of friends and I was reminded that there is no place on earth my heart feels more at home than in my beloved sweetheart city.  The friends I have there are extensions of my family, the mountains sing to my soul of freedom and peace, and the streetlights proclaim loudly that love is here and love is good.
With memories and relationships rekindled this has been as year filled with Loveland stories for my friends here in NM and my husband.  And so as this Valentine’s Day approached I was excited to once again try to make my kid’s memories as special as my childhood ones but also filled with wistful dreams of streetlight hearts.  We gave the kids their gifts and cards this morning and faced the usual morning rush to get to school.  I left 15 minutes later than I wanted to but that was ok.  As I rounded a corner a couple blocks from my home I did a double take.  There on the streetlight was a red, hand painted, cardboard heart reading “Moose loves Moosette”  I took a deep breath and choked back the tears.  My Valentine fulfilled my childhood dream.  And it doesn’t matter that I’m not in Loveland this Valentine’s Day.  Home is where the heart is; and today I found that my heart could be home wherever I am because the love I carry from the people and places I have loved is always with me.
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Happy Valentine’s Day from New Mexico!

Giving Light – Christine C.

And to round this fabulous contest out – I’ve got one more, very simple entry.
Thank you to all who participated. I am tickled that others have chosen to join me in the search for beauty.

Without further ado – 5 Beautiful Things from Christine.


1. Summer nights at Wilderness Ranch
2. Support of family and friends
3. Christmas Trees with white lights
4. A good glass of cabernet
5. A fireplace and a good book on a snowy day

I will be announcing the winner of the contest in the next few weeks. Christmas holidays are starting to get a little overwhelming.

Love to you all.

 

THE DEADLINE FOR ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR THE GIVE LIGHT GIVEAWAY HAS PASSED. I AM FINISHING UP POSTING CONTRIBUTIONS. STAY TUNED FOR OTHER CONTESTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTRIBUTE TO 52 BEAUTIFUL THINGS IN 2017.

Giving Light – Vanessa A.

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Small Bio: Vanessa A.- a 30-something wife and mom of 2 wild and crazy boys. I consider myself an imperfectly kind and honest person in pursuit of health, happiness, simplicity and meaningful relationships. Feel free to reach out on Facebook or email.
I’m honored to take part in giving light and sharing beauty today. As I reflect on the five beautiful things listed below, I’m incredibly grateful 🙂
1. Growth and Self-Discovery
I learned a while ago that I cannot control people or change them or force them to do things, despite my desire to intervene and be “helpful”. Thankfully, I have had the pleasure of observing others grow and come to their own realizations about life and happiness. Lately, I see this growth in those who are closest to me:

– My husband Matt has finally found his groove with consistent exercise. Despite my own, very inspirational (😉😉) health and fitness pursuits over the years, Matt found his niche on his own and he is happier, healthier, and less stressed. It’s a beautiful thing.

– My oldest son Grady is discovering how to be driven and focused through a cool game/task app called Habitica. In fact, the whole family has enjoyed tackling tasks through this app by earning pets and armor and destroying “basi-lists” and other monsters.

– My youngest son Drew is growing his expressions of helpfulness, generosity and empathy. These things come naturally for him but as we have embarked on our annual kindness calendar, he has been able to let loose and really enjoy his giving spirit.

2. Christmas Decorations

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…
Growing up, I really didn’t have Christmas traditions with my family. Now that I have a family of my own, we have developed our holiday rituals and routines, and one of my favorite things to do is enjoy Christmas decor all December long.
…But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be… on your own front door.

3. Meditating

I have intended to implement a meditation practice for years but have had a hard time remaining disciplined. Well, it turns out that finding a helpful app gave me the extra boost I needed. I tried out Headspace and landed on Stop, Breathe, Think . Since I began using Stop, Breathe, Think a couple months ago I have meditated for over 3 1/2 hours total (most of the time it’s around 5 minutes per day). There are a lot of great features including finding the right guided meditation for your current physical/mental state. I’m grateful to see my desire for a grounding meditation practice finally come to fruition!

4. Feeling Better

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My dietitian/nutritionist friend Esther invited me to participate in a 16 week program to replace sugar and fast carbs with more healthful foods. I have been struggling to tackle my chronic migraines since age 17 so I figured this program was worth a try. Right out of the gate I learned some key things that have helped me succeed in limiting added sugars, approaching food in a new way, and in turn reducing my headaches and migraines significantly. Not only do I have fewer headaches, I have more energy and feel a whole heck of a lot better overall. Feeling better for the win!!!

5. Life is imperfect, a sense of humor is required

I often try to catch the occasional beautiful moments that happen between my children so I can post them on Facebook for everyone to see my perfect life. Obviously, I don’t intend to display only the good side, but sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it, perhaps it’s easier than baring the raw, honest self. Rest assured, me nor my life are perfect.
In this short 20 second video, I attempted to capture what I saw as a beautifully perfect moment only to have an imperfect funny surprise.
(tip: turn up your volume to view)
Thank for coming along for the ride as I shared my small pieces of beauty for today.
THE DEADLINE FOR ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR THE GIVE LIGHT GIVEAWAY HAS PASSED. I AM FINISHING UP POSTING CONTRIBUTIONS. STAY TUNED FOR OTHER CONTESTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTRIBUTE TO 52 BEAUTIFUL THINGS IN 2017.

Giving Light – Cathy H.

 

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My name is Cathy and I live in Lafayette, Colorado.  I work at an elementary school helping children with special needs.  I am happiest when I am spending time with my family, gardening, hiking or being creative.

Here are my 5 Beautiful Things

1.  Details

I find beauty in the details of things, like the intricacies of a flower.  When I slow down and take a closer look at things I am wowed by its beauty.  So often we only see the outline of things and miss the amazing details of God’s creations.

2.  Children’s Art

Working in an elementary school exposes me to a lot of children’s art.  I never get tired of looking at these masterpieces.  It always brings a smile to my face.

3.  Hiking

I love hiking and being outside breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun on my body.  Every season has its own amazing features.  Whether I’m walking in my own neighborhood or hiking in the mountains, I am content.

4.  The Sky

There is so much beauty in the sky – the clouds, sunrises, sunsets, all phases of the moon, the intense colors.  Amazing!!

5.  Laughing

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There is something so good about laughing until your stomach hurts.  We should all laugh more.

 

 

The deadline for accepting entries for the Give Light Giveaway has passed. I am finishing up posting contributions. Stay tuned for other contests and opportunities to contribute to 52 Beautiful Things in 2017.

Giving Light – Jenny S.

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Hiya, I’m Jenny! I love pancakes, photography, sarcasm, lists, and people. Usually I make my home in Colorado, but this past year went on a grand adventure in Scotland to study, eat shortbread, and chase down a bunch of sheep. If you need another blog to get hooked on feel free to check out mine, www.jennystoecker.com, and follow me on Instagram.

1. Travel

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The fact that I can get on an airplane and be in an entirely different country in the same day blows my mind. To me, travel is a reminder that there’s a great big world outside my little bubble and boy is it beautiful.

 2. Celebrating Failure 

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I don’t know a lot of people who enjoy failure. I for one would much rather succeed, but I’ve been learning that there is beauty in celebrating things that don’t go my way. I’ve been loving this lyric from The Oh Hellos “… and the sun, it does not cause us to grow, it is the rain that will strengthen your soul, and it will make you whole.” So, I’m figuring out how to celebrate seasons of rain because I know they will lead to growth in the long run. (Also yes, my celebrations often involve ice cream or and churros…)

3. Sunsets 

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I tried to go with something a little less cliché, but I just kept coming back to this. This past year I moved over four thousand miles from home and became a sunset junky. In the midst of unknowns, the consistency (and beauty) of the sunset made me feel comfortable. It reminds me that whatever happens today, the sun will set and rise afresh, bringing with it new opportunities.

4. Winter 

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I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland this past year. In the winter it gets light at 9am and dark at 3pm and in the summer it gets light at 4am and dark at 11pm. When I first moved there I, being a Colorado girl through and through, was worried about the lack of sunshine that comes with the winter. That is until one of my professors said something that changed my mindset. “These seasons are just like one big breath in and out. Summer is full of hustle and bustle, whereas winter is a time to recharge (and drink a lot of hot chocolate).” From then on, I have never appreciated winter more. Which conveniently plays into my final reflection of beauty…

 5. Time 

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I love schedules and to do lists and I don’t love excessive blank spaces in my planner. However, I’m learning that having the time to process, recharge, and dream big is a beautiful gift that in the past I’ve been too busy to experience.

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.