20 Years and Counting (#NotinNapa)

Photo by Laurie Kilgore/Formafoto

Today is our 20 year wedding anniversary. I know, it’s totally weird. Getting married at 12 was probably not a great idea but we made it! 😉 I kid, I kid but we were one of the first of our college friends to get married which basically means we had absolutely no clue what we were doing besides letting our mothers completely plan our weddings. The one thing we did right was get married on a Friday night which we did for two reasons.

  1. Many fees were half-priced if we chose Friday. The reception rental was the biggie so it took a half a second to choose Friday over Saturday. We were helping foot the bill for our wedding so we cut corners where we could.
  2. The other reason, or the real reason, was because it was the only safe way to plan a wedding in the fall in Nebraska.

When you live in Nebraska, fall Saturdays are for football games, not weddings. Kipp and I love fall and we love our Husker football so it was a no-brainer. We both attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the 90’s when the Huskers were a powerhouse football team. Let me tell you, it was a glorious time to be in Lincoln.

We got engaged in December of 1995 but we wanted to wait until Kipp was closer to graduation before we got married so that put us into 1997. We loved the fall but, truth be told, we knew that if we tried to plan a Saturday wedding without knowing the football schedule yet, we would most likely have a wedding reception that included lots of televisions or a very thin crowd in attendance. It’s just the way it was back then. So we opted for the Friday night to be safe and then when the ’97 schedule was released, the Homecoming game was scheduled for the day after our wedding. It worked out perfect.

We decided that we wanted to go to the football game the day with our friends and that the opening of wedding gifts could wait until Sunday. It was a great weekend and would do it all over again except that we would watch the game from a beach in Mexico with our closest friends and family. I kid, sort of.

Being that we were one of the first of both of our groups of friends, we felt the need to invite everyone from our fraternity and sorority as well as my husband’s volleyball team and my co-workers. Remember back when cell phones didn’t exist and there were always disposable cameras left on every table for the guests to take memorable photos for the bride and groom to look back on year after year? Yeah, those photos were the equivalent of 99% of your teenagers Snapchat photos today. We’re talking foreheads and half-faces, most blurry as sh*t, with a cleavage shot or two thrown in for the grandkids someday. There may or may not have been a male crotch shot tossed in to make us really realize (a little too late) that we really should have thought a lot longer about that destination wedding idea.

So here we are, 20 years later, wondering how in the hell we got here and where our wedding video actually is. I don’t even remember if I’ve watched it honestly. Isn’t that horrible?! But wedding videos then were NOT the wedding videos of today. We may as well have hired Cousin Eddie to strap a camera to his shoulder and provided him with the two beer can hard hat to keep the creative juices flowing. I think we would have liked that video more, actually.

To honor this monumental feat of marriage, we almost, ALMOST, booked a trip to Napa (I KNOW!) to celebrate our 20th year of not killing each other over stupid stuff like money and making the bed but I’m not much of a drinker these days so it just didn’t have the same appeal as it did a year ago. So we let that idea fade away and we sort of put the plans on hold, not really knowing what to do. Around August we tossed around a couple of ideas of doing a four day weekend to Mexico or Chicago for a concert (you guess who came up with which idea) and we settled on neither. Life happens and then you have yet another oh, sh*t moment when your 20 year anniversary has snuck up on you and we have zero point zero plans. BUT we are parents of three children and we scrappy when our backs are against the wall. Plans have been made and we are sticking close to home. Yay! Yay…yeah.

We are traveling to the state of Missouri across the river and through the woods  to hike around Smithville Lake, eat lunch in downtown Liberty, and partake in the “Fall into Relaxation” package offered at The Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs which includes an overnight stay in a suite, 2 hydrotherapy baths, 2 Grotto passes and 2 ghost tour passes. Honestly, that may make the whole damn trip.  I may IG Live it because what could be more exciting on your Tuesday night than watching a old married couple cuss each other out when the lights go out.

Clearly, if you asked me on my wedding day what my 20 year anniversary celebration would look like, I would bet my 25 year old self would have said in Mexico on a beach. And I would tell her that sometimes Mexico isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be as she had yet to be out of the country and when she did, she got Montezuma’s revenge on her honeymoon along with her husband. So screw that international beach vacation. We don’t always celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary but when we do, we celebrate what’s most important–being with my best friend. Even if that means in Missouri. With ghosts.

Follow along on my Instagram Stories for glimpses of our blissful day together.  My IG account is @Hallie_Sawyer.

 

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Chia Porridge

I wish I had taken this picture but mine looked JUST like this. However, picture credit goes to The Healthy Family and Home.

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkiny: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice almond butter…yes, that’s a thing. However, most of those things are laden with sugar and lots of bits and pieces that we can’t pronounce.

While I don’t want to miss out, I decided to add a little spice to my breakfast today. I don’t do a whole lot of carbs these days because of the energy drop within a couple of hours of eating them so I have turned to more healthy fats as my fuel source. I usually do Bulletproof Coffee or tea in the morning then eat my first meal sometime close to midday or early afternoon.

An easy substitution for the more traditional oatmeal breakfast is a chia seed pudding or porridge. It’s super easy to make and requires very little effort.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 5-7 drops of liquid Stevia
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 cup organic canned pumpkin (a loose measurement so you can see how pumpkiny you want it)
  • 1 tsp of pumpkin spice seasoning OR 1 drop cinnamon essential oil + 1 drop clove essential oil + 1 drop nutmeg essential oil (only 100% pure EO’s recommended!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Stir all of the ingredients in a small mason jar, top with a lid and let that sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. When the hunger kicks in, you’ve got an energizing yet cozy “treat” ready to go.

What’s great is that you can substitute all kinds of things to make this porridge in all seasons: chopped apples with cinnamon, blueberries and lemon zest or lemon essential oil, bananas with dark chocolate morsels, peaches and coconut cream…the possibilities are endless!

Did you know that chia seeds are a good source of calcium, manganese, phosphorus, fiber as well as essential fatty acids and antioxidants?

This is also a FANTASTIC breakfast or snack for the kids before school, homework session, or athletic activity to give them healthy brain support as well as lots of natural energy.

Want to feel a little indulgent? Try topping it with coconut whipped topping!

How to Find Your People

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

When I started writing about ten years ago (ugh, that book is still in the basement of my computer–poor thing), I kept it a secret. It was completely foreign to me yet it felt like home. I had found something that fed my soul yet I didn’t know how to talk about it. I didn’t even tell my husband. Not that I was doing something wrong, but I just wasn’t ready to be that vulnerable…even to him. We aren’t writers…we are 8-5’ers. We grind the old-fashioned way. We aren’t artsy fartsy. No one actually said those things to me but it’s just what I had interpreted over the years. I’ve got enough “play it safe” and practicality hours earned to make the steadiest of steadies envious.

You have to understand that I live in suburbia. I had three kids all under the age of seven at the time when I started writing–my life was diapers and soccer games. It was school committees and being classroom parent. Writing wasn’t what suburban moms did. At least I hadn’t met one yet. Who did I think I was? I kept this secret for a while until I “came out” to my book club friends.

To this day, I think how strange it must have been for them because literally I broke down in tears. I introduced the book I had chosen for our next meeting which was an indie book from an author I had “met” on Twitter. We had become fast friends in the online community along with many other supportive writers in the online space. So when I spoke about this book (independently published books were a new thing back then and fairly unknown) and how I came across it, I started to cry as I shared that I had started writing a book of my own and that I was starting a blog as a way to create a platform for myself. My friends took a collective sigh and one said, “I thought you were going to tell us you had cancer!” Yes, my reveal may have been a bit dramatic. Just a teensy bit.

But that’s how much this new found love of writing meant to me. It had opened me up and gave me a way to express myself like never before. And when I say never, I mean never ever.  Plus, it was something that was entirely my own. I didn’t have to share it with my kids, I didn’t have to ask permission from my parents, and it was the one thing I was definitely better at than my husband. His writing is atrocious. Hideous actually. I edit his texts and give him Facebook status revision changes. He LOVES it but I remind him he’s the looker in our marriage for a reason.

I eventually told more and more people and while friends were supportive, they didn’t really “get” it. I wanted to talk about writing and creativity and it was like when you talk to your mom and she nots really listening because she says “That’s nice, honey”. My immediate family didn’t read my blog and gave zero f*cks about my  new found love. At first I felt hurt. Like what the eff is that? My childhood best friend? I thought FOR SURE she would for sure read every post and share with the masses. Nope, not once. I was devastated. If these people didn’t read every word I wrote then who WAS?!

But I quickly realized that out there in the vastness of the internet galaxy were my people. I found bloggers that I resonated with read their work. I found authors/writers who I supported and, in turn, encouraged me to keep writing. It was like I was living two lives, one online and one in reality. I kept the two very separate because I didn’t know how to intertwine them. Eventually, as my youngest started Kindergarten, I submitted an article to local magazine and started writing regularly for them. I desperately wanted to continue caring for my family but I also really, really, really wanted to get paid to write. Writing for free (blogging) had begun to wear me a little thin. So again, I put myself out there but that vulnerable feeling had started to wane. I was finally getting comfortable calling myself a writer because it was earning me a paycheck.

Soon, I was crazy busy between caring for my family, my multiple deadlines (I ended up writing for four magazines) and a freelance position I took with a boutique PR firm that specialized in self-published or independently published authors. I felt like I was drowning.

What happened next was what I call my midlife crisis. Even though I was only 41, it felt pretty bleak. I was 100% stuck in what I had created for myself. I quit the magazines, the freelance job and even paused the writing on my blog. I just sat still, cried lots of tears then listened. I pleaded with God and the universe to show me the way. I was in a bad place. Blah, blah, blah…I won’t go into the gory details but I ended up pulling myself out of it because the universe showed up. I learned about a workshop through a writer friend and it was EXACTLY what I needed. It was there that I started connecting with people who felt the same exact way.

Fast forward a few years and some of those people are my front row. We’ve been through a lot together and we’re all still growing. If you’ve been a consistent reader of this blog, God bless you, you know that my writing has been sporadic at best. I haven’t submitted any magazine articles since the day I quit and this blog has had some major drought periods. I haven’t written fiction in forever. But I feel the winds of change. My sails are up and I’m picking up speed.

I need more of my people. I have people whom I connect with in a personal growth aspect and I still have a few of the people who I had connected with back when I started writing. But when I stopped writing as much,  I took a step back from them, too. I felt like a fraud because I was hardly writing. But I missed those creative people and I missed being in touch with that part of myself. I had to get it back.

This summer, I started looking for a local group where I could connect with other creatives. I looked up some writing groups but I didn’t necessarily want just writers. I just wanted to be around people who also like expressing and exploring their lives in creative ways.

Then the universe came through for me again. I found Landyn Hutchinson of Living with Landyn from another blog post about WHO I MUST FOLLOW and quickly became a fan girl. One day in her Instagram stories, she shared some other IG accounts that we, her loyal followers, should also follow. That led me to Bev Weidner of Bev Cooks. I began to follow Bev on Instagram and early on in our one-sided relationship, I saw one of her stories where she was hanging out with another local blogger/IG’er, Emily Farris. Emily, from of Festive AF (IG is thatsfestiveaf), was making a fun cocktail with Bev and hence, I was deep in  this little rabbit hole of people to follow.

Shortly after that, my new “friend” Emily then shared that she was going to start hosting a Creativity and Cocktails event once a month in her Brookside studio. And there it was. What I was looking for. I went to the first event in August but had to miss the September one because I was in Salt Lake. However, I was able to go to the October event at which, bum bada bum!, Bev from Bev Cooks was her guest speaker! Ahh, it was so lovely and the group of people that attended were totally different from the group in August. It was really cool because it was a whole new group of people I could connect with.

Bev Weidner (Bev Cooks) and I at Creativity and Cocktails!

The beginning of this event is mingling with cocktails, then Emily introduces her guest and does a Q & A followed by questions from the audience. Next, we each share what we are passionate about and why we are there, then we mingle again! Everyone shares their Instagram handles and we talk about current projects, creative desires, and we learned a lot about each other’s backstories. Bev is amazing, inspiring, and just a fun person to be around. You must check her out. Her blog is full of awesome as well so make sure you click that link on her name.

This is exactly what I was looking for. People that are creative or perhaps want to be more creative and are looking for connection/inspiration just like the rest of us.

It’s been awesome and what I encourage each one of you to do. If you are passionate about something like bike racing, running, photography, reading books or hell, I don’t know…TATTOOS, go find other people that are, too. We are way too disconnected from each other these days…just watch the news and you’ll understand what I mean. If you occupy digital space at any given time during the day, you’ll see internet trolls show up like wet gremlins on every public forum. People have gotten mean and nasty. I think we all need to find people–like living, breathing, reach out and can hug kind of people–that we can connect with that we can’t get from people in our immediate circle of family and friends. That’s not their job. They love and support us unconditionally but they don’t necessarily “get” us.

We need our people and when you find them, you’re going to feel like the sun resides in your heart. You’ll be all glowy and sh*t and people are going to wonder if you’re pregnant or you are on your honeymoon or something. Yep, that kind of glowy.

So how do you FIND your people? Well, I’ve got some ideas.

Use Social Media

Are you still flabbergasted by what the # sign is all about when you scroll through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds? Welcome to Hashtags 101. For example, when a person posts a healthy recipe, they might attach #recipe #healthy #healthyrecipe to the bottom of the post and then when people search the social media site for those things, that post will show up.

You can find people/things/events local to your area by using #(yourtown) and your interest. For example, if I want to find people in my local area who are musicians or into music, I would type #kansascitymusicians or #kcmusic in the search box of the social media site I’m using. You may get a lot of random junk, too, depending on the person who posted because honestly, some people are irresponsible hashtaggers. One thing to note is that Instagram only lets you use one hashtag to search but Facebook lets you use multiple.

Search Eventbrite for local events/talks/meetups/classes, etc. 

Are you into cycling? Search your area and there may be a cycling club meetup. Perhaps an upcoming race where you can mingle before or after.  It’s super easy to use and you’ll find many are free events! Yoga, health workshops, hiking clubs, concerts, running groups, entrepreneurial workshops, networking groups, etc. There is a lot to explore.

AirBnB

Did you know that you can do “experiences” on Airbnb? You can search through categories like Arts, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Social Impact, Technology and even Wellness. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, obsessed with wolves and you want to meet other wolf enthusiasts, you can go on a Wolf Encounter. Are you looking to connect with other foodies? Go on a Chef’s Tour of Pike Place in Seattle.  If you live in the New York area, love gardening and want to make positive social impact in world? Try this urban farm experience in Harlem. These Airbnb Experiences would also be a great thing to look into if you love to travel. Join/create a travel group and experience these things with them!

Build your own tribe

If you can’t find a group or tribe according to your interest, then start one.  Create what you want and you can directly foster the connection you are seeking. Do something like what my friend Emily Farris does. Share that idea with others and see who shows up. It may not be perfect right away as you’ll get some in and outers as everyone feels it out. What’s important to remember is that YOU are creating what you want and the right people will find you if you keep in mind that “your vibe attracts your tribe.” Be who YOU would want to hang out with and your peeps will show up.

What lights you up?

Are you part of a group that fosters and helps grow that light?

Share what you want or your own experiences in the comments! You never know who you might inspire to do the same.

Happy Friday and shine bright, dear one!

xx,

Hallie