The Raccoon Run

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A raccoon may seem lost as he zig zags his way through the brush. From an onlookers view, it may seem erratic and appear to have no pattern. To him, his path makes perfect sense.  I had the privilege of watching such a real, unscripted, rare moment Saturday from the high deck of the outlying trails of First Landing. It is not common to see this during the day but apparently having a raccoon come across your path has powerful meaning. It had me researching raccoons and their daylight activity. My mind was blown by what I read. More on that here. That run will always be known as “The Raccoon Run.”

As I often do after a Saturday long run, I poured out on pages the thoughts storming around in my head post run. Trying to somehow process the muddy 8 miles I had just logged. I found myself eyes deep in my own website searching through blogs and looking for quotes that would help me articulate my thoughts. I came across a song that got me through a challenging time a few years ago. It was no coincidence I stumbled across that song (see below) again in the midst of a time where part of me feels completely rooted and part of me, admittedly feels lost.

“If you’re not lost, you’re not much of an explorer.” 

How true these words seemed to me. I’m not an expert at a lot of  things. But like many, I’ve had my fair share of times feelings lost. And let me tell you… each and every time I have been found!!! Being lost really means you are brave enough to abandon current ideals or expectations. You are brave enough to imagine and even dare there is more in life. Those things money can’t buy, only experiences and adventures can bring.  Opting for adventure and getting lost may lead you exactly where you are supposed to be.  Allowing yourself to get lost and marinate in an unsettled space is bold. It offers the opportunity to realize what you will and won’t settle for. When you are lost, you become aware of what is really important to you: internally and externally.

I invite you to get lost on a run. No set time, no set path. I recommend taking this run in the thick of nature. Be open to what organically is served up. God will guide your path. He knows where you are meant to be. Just focus on one stride at a time.

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Ooh, I remember when this road was my own

I pray to God, I just don’t know anymore

I pray to God, I just don’t know anymore

And ooh, I lost the feeling but I’m tryin’a hold on

I thought the end of love is what made you strong

I pray to God, I just don’t know anymore!

When there’s no getting through, I won’t hold back

I will throw down everything in life, I know now

I’ve been laying on the floor, sweeping on the ground

I would give up everything in life, I’d know how!

‘Cause I can’t stop wondering

If I was too late to see the signs

If I could go back with hands up, I’d look up to the sky

I’d give it, I’d give it, I’d give it

I’d give it to you,

Give it to you!

Ooh, when the moon was shining bright before mornin’

I made a deal with the stars to keep holdin’

Shining bright to come and bring me back home

The lights in my eyes, they disappeared,

Visions in my mind about to keep me from fear

I won’t let it hold me down, the other way around

I don’t want the words ’til I can’t make a sound

‘Cause I can’t stop wondering

If I was too late to see the signs

If I could go back with hands up, I’d look up into the sky

I’d give it, I’d give it, I’d give it

I’d give it to you,

Give it to you!

Can’t hold back, reaching out

I-I-I was living in the heat of the moment

Between us, I told you that

I-I-I was living in the heat of the moment

I’d give it, I-I-I was living in the heat of the moment

I’d give it, I-I-I was living in the heat of the moment

I’d give it, I-I-I was living in the heat of the moment

I’d give it to you, give it to you!

I’d give it, I’d give it, I’d give it

I’d give it to you,

Give it to you!

I’d give it, I’d give it, I’d give it

I’d give it to you,

Give it to you!

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My Year Of Yoga

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It was about a year ago I was coming off of a hefty fitness training cycle. Just as it came to a conclusion, I hit the road and headed to Snowshoe, West Virginia on a quest to find relaxation at the Wanderlust Fitness Retreat. Little did I know how much this trip would change my life. Not only would I get to share the trip with my mother and our good friend Janet, I would also be immersed in the yoga lifestyle, in nature, and in gentle living. Wanderlust is a sort of fitness festival for adults. Top talent is brought in to teach and instruct one of a kind experiences like yoga, mediation, slack lining, and an amazing hike that was lead by my dear friend and running Coach Ryan Conrad.

You can read more on my experience with Wanderlust 2016 here.

Wanderlust 2016, On our way to the lululemon party

Wanderlust 2016, On our way to the lululemon party

During the weekend long experience I could feel my life changing and my spirit developing. I carry the memories made in the mountains deep in my heart and think of them often. I learned a lot about yoga and myself on this trip. It was abundantly clear how much I needed yoga more regularly in my life. It was then that I made a new fitness goal of making it to my mat an average of once a week.  I also vowed to change my entire philosophy of healthy living and I redefined what it looked and felt like.

More of what the body can do than what it looks like.

More of who you share miles with than how fast you run them.

More feeding your spirit than worrying about the amount of calories you feed yourself.

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The year of yoga is complete and my practice will live on. I am proud to say I have upheld my end of the bargain from the goal set all those months. Weekly sessions of uninterrupted time are enjoyed, valued, and necessary. It is a time for intuitiveness towards my physical body and emotional needs. Studio Bamboo has become a staple and the instructors are a gift. As well are the unique pop up programs offered by the Bhav Brigade.  Since January, I have also been enjoying my visits to Restorative Therapy Co which is where I practiced tonight. Immediately following the yin class, I walked next door and picked up Chinese takeout…proving that I now can appreciate and surrender to exactly what I need on and off the mat. This is yoga!

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Brooklyn: What I Ate, Drank, and Took From the City With The Bridge

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The trip to Brooklyn would mean something different for each of us. But none of us would know exactly what until the weekend came to an end. For me it manifested itself as a symbol of my current life journey. Uncertain, unpredictable, and full of adventure that filled my spirit and left me asking myself lots of questions about the future.

I’m sitting on the periphery of what could be considered a very exciting season. A sort of voyage, bringing me to stations and stops along the way I never knew existed. Those will eventually be brought to light and to life, but not yet. For now they will stay in a sort of secret space. Not one of these situations are within my control. They occupy my brain frequently with questions like: What if I? What will others say? What if they? What do I want?  I’m learning that there is no reason to entertain these thoughts prematurely. The circumstances aren’t fully developed yet, so my processing towards them or of them shouldn’t be either. I should just settle in and enjoy the ride. It’s uncomfortable, yet enjoyable. It doesn’t matter what I do, even if I do everything that I think is right, the answers will come as the stories unfold. I might as well enjoy the feeling of being a little lost.

Late Friday morning, it immediately became clear that we were not comfortably tucked in along the Coast of Virginia any longer. As we approached the city and crossed over one of the many bridges into Brooklyn, we were just about an hour away from our desired check in time…it was then that we were notified our Air BNB was canceled. After a slight moment of hesitation, we immediately took to problem solving.  Our little pack came together. One focused on driving and navigating us through the city, one took to Google, and one took to call after call to hotels until we came across the wonderful folks at the Marriott. They not only expressed their sincerest apologies for something they had nothing to do with, they gave us the good news of a room they had available with 1 king size bed. Upon our arrival they noticed there were 3 of us and extended us a two bedroom room and late check out on Sunday. Weekend went on as scheduled!

SATURDAY MORNING

 6:30 am I boarded the New York subway system with a coffee in one hand and confidence in the other. I had a map, plenty of time, and thankfully a fully charged phone. As instructed per our hotel concierge I ventured to train f (appropriately named) and set off for Coney Island. I learned later there are two f trains. I also learned later I was on the wrong one. I would come to spend 3 hours on that train. Almost coming completely unraveled, heartbroken and nearly to tears. I had done everything right?!?! How could it be I was missing my friends race altogether even though I was “fully prepared.” How many times does that happen to use in life? Have you ever felt like you were missing something? Or on the wrong bus…train? Maybe you were meant to miss it. Maybe you were meant to be rerouted for something else.

Sharing the experience with girlfriends later… it was brought to my attention how parallel that subway experience was to my current spot. Just like those circumstances mentioned above. I needed to know it was ok to get lost. It was ok to not know where I was going. I needed to see how I recovered after a reroute. After a change of direction. After being stranded. There is bliss in the blindness and our journeys never end. We make stops. Right now, the universe is deciding what my next one is.

Our post race plans went on as scheduled with time in Williamsburg. Hitting up local vintage shops, breweries, and restaurants. Saturday night served up time for celebration and time well spent with each other.

 GIRLS NIGHT OUT

Before heading back to cleaner eating (currently simmering a pot of detox chicken soup), a structured schedule, and everything that we called home in VA…we took the opportunity to travel across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan. We soaked up the sun, the sites, and smells. There is something so beautiful about the colors and combinations in the local fashion, the sounds of the many international languages, and the unique culture that is so opposite of my little beach life.

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It was a weekend full of adventure with great friends. I fondly take away with me a few extra pounds, pockets full of memories, and a new attitude of openness. Remembering we have nothing to loose and an entire world of possibility to experience!

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Sweatfilled Summertime Soundtrack

Sweatfilled Summertime Playlist

I have often referred to my relationship with running as my longest lasting love affair. Through the good and the not so good miles, I still love it, evident in this latest edition of my sweatfilled playlist.

These songs are perfect for long runs in the park or summertime strength training sessions.  Tunes complete with summertime inducing swagger. Three factors came into play when creating the list.

THE LYRICS-THE BEAT-THE WAY THE SONG MAKES ME FEEL

 The order of songs is meant to build in progression and intensity and then ease back down. I hope you give these beats a chance and enjoy them as much as I do. Get out there and live a sweatfilled and soulful themed summer.

Cold Little Heart – Michael Kiwanuka

Believer – Imagine Dragons

Close – Ryan Kinder

Rollin – Calvin Harris

Shape of You – Ed Sheeran

Move Your Body – Sia

Time Machine – Ingrid Michaelson

Summerboy – Lady GaGa

Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac

Whatever It Takes – Imagine Dragons

Waiting on You – Lindsay Ell

WildHorse – RaeLynn

P. Y. T. – Michael Jackson

Cake – Flo Rida

Somebody Else Will – Justin Moore

Craving You -Thomas Rhett (My current favorite)

Shawty Get Loose – Lil Mama

Flatliner – Cole Swindell featuring Dierks Bentley

You Look Good – Lady Antebellum

Good Company – Jake Owen

One and Only – Adele

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In other news…I was honored to find out I have been nominated and placed on the ballot for Best Social Media Personality by CoVa Biz. You can cast your vote daily.  Please take a moment to consider voting and/or share on your own social media pages.  Help me to continue to use social media for the greater good by promoting healthy living! Thank you – xo Jess

CoVa BIZ

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The Week Of Saying Yes

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The week of YES it was unintentional. It was completely unassuming in the way it overtook me, and yet completing consuming.

At times I am a guarded person, playing it safe…subconsciously knowing I will set myself up for an easy win by not deviating from my plan in business, fitness, and relationships. I am extremely…internally…analytical to the “what ifs” and often seek outside wisdom on this issue from a friend. She told me to be open. Be open, feel, and let things happen. I am a structured person, it can be a struggle to stray from my schedule, my routine or accept invites for week night activities, let alone send them out myself.  Maybe it was the full moon, but this week, the energy was palpable…but I empathically said yes to everything. And the after effects of that decision over and over again brought more than I could have ever imagined.

Run the trails…just the trails, take the long way, and charge the hills YES

Take an outdoor yoga class YES

Catch the sunset, stay on the beach after dark and soak up the light of moon YES

Jump into 5k speed sessions YES

Take a circuit class…at the brewery…stay after…drink beer…and eat pizza YES

When these questions were posed to me, something wonderful happened. I never doubted or even spent any time pondering anything other than yes. I felt open and accepting of these amazing opportunities the universe was sending me. I have been asking for them. I have been praying for them. It is abundantly clear the amount of energy surrounding me. I feel it!  My dreams are vivid, my creative energy is high! I am riding the wave. I know there will be a low. A valley that will come. I don’t say that to sound pessimistic, I say that to sound realistic. Life brings ups and it brings downs like waves and right now the high I’m on is amazing. I am not questioning it. I am embracing it. Leaning fully in. Feeling it. Allowing it with complete vulnerability.

 

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