My spirtual guide wears cargo pants. 

Today started off like a typical Saturday in the Mauldin house. I crawled through a thick wall of bacon odor and made my green tea. We did a little yoga and then watched some European soccer until we formulated the offical weekend plans. The weather was gorgeous, so we decided to take the new Jeep for an off-roading adventure. God, I’m such a redneck (insert “hey yall’s” and denim shorts.) 

We headed to Raven cliff falls and Tray Mountain to explore two off-roading trails. The summit of Tray Mountain intersects with part of the Appalachian Trail. For those of you unfamiliar with the AT, it’s basically a 2,100 mile trail from Georgia to Maine. It’s a trail of self-discovery and typically consists of retirees and the post-college “finding myself” pack. It’s blissful and I would give anything to commit to hiking it. I digress. 

As we sat on the mountain summit, a greenish forrest dweller approached from the trail. Ahh, ’twas the green of a backpack and the stench of an AT thru-hiker. No sweeter smell, my friends. This gentle man approached our muddy vehicle and told us he was having some heart issues and wanted to know if we could help him into town. Being the healthcare providers we are, we said (in sync) “Yes!” 

Meet Zack from Oklahoma. A man on a mission to find himself again after an unexpected career change. It took us an hour to get into town from the summit and over that hour, we shared stories of serondipity, travel, compassion, wanderlust, and sustainability. I asked Zack if we could help him with his medical concerns or call anyone for him. He simply replied, “I trust everything will work out and I have no fear.” And there he went. He walked off into the distance leaving nothing but muddy boot prints and an irreplaceable message in our soul. Life isnt about knowing the answer to everything. It’s about trusting the process. It’s about faith that the stars align to keep you safe. It’s about letting go. 

In that one hour, I realized more than all the self-help books ever taught me. Letting go and surrending to what will be is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. 

Zack, may you get back on the trail and be safe. Thank you for shifting the trajectory of our day…maybe of our lives. We plan to repay the favor by helping spread some of that “Trail Magic” to others. 
Love and light. 

Eulogies, rock climbing, and book club.

What do these three things have in common? Nothing. I just wanted to get your attention. Hello, hi. The first part of the title is the true purpose of this piece. On Monday, April 10th, my husband’s sweet grandmother passed away at the age of 105. Conceptualize that age. She was born before the Titanic sank and preceded the invention of the car. Her eulogy was sweet, sincere, and perfect. It encompassed a love of bridge, church, and chocolate. Perhaps it was the deliciously blue sky as a backdrop or the songs of a robin, but the eulogy truly stuck my soul. On the drive home, I thought to myself,

What will my Eulogy say?

Morbid? Maybe. Hear me out. If you died tomorrow, what would you want your loved ones to say? Would you want your love of Chinese take-out and romance novels to be the focus? Perhaps you want your philanthropic hobbies discussed and a few sentences about the animals you rescued?

In the early part of my life, I put a lot of my self worth into achievement.

I am worthy because I made all A’s/got the dream job/etc

As I’ve leaned into my late twenties, I’ve learned that my self worth is built from my compassion, humor, positivity, and kindness. I want to be known for the type of person I was, not necessarily my achievements. This concept permeated into my workplace today and I posed the question to my colleagues. One of the psychologists at work told me that writing your eulogy is a true psychological strategy for motivating patients. It forces the patient to focus on the main priorities in life and identify your purpose and passion.

I ask you this question:

If you wrote your eulogy tomorrow, what would you want it to say?

I am humbled that sweet grandma lived to be 105 years old and I can’t comprehend the knowledge and sage wisdom she accumulated. Each day is truly a gift and I am going to spend it working towards becoming the woman I want to hear about when I’m listening on the other side of the clouds (in many, many, many years from now).

Be present, be kind, be the light.

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Natural beauty 

DIY: Stop a Panic Attack.

Everyone (from my Starbucks barista to my family) knows that I am the queen of anxiety. I started having panic attacks in nursing school, but my overzealous brain told me that it was something physical. My brain interpreted these strange moments of adrenaline to be a deviating physical aliment such as a rupturing aortic aneurysm or a heart attack. It was a combination of knowing too much about the medical field and deep dark dives into google that led me to believe my pounding heart was the end. Fortunately, nursing school also exposed me to this concept called anxiety (typically common among the wealthy suburbanites that do not have real things to worry about). I kid, I kid. Fast forward a few years and a few hundred dollars in therapy and I arrive at the present day…with an arsenal to defend against the dreaded anxiety attack. I am humbled by many late nights spent surfing Amazon for self-help books and streaming TED talks on Youtube. I have developed a few successful tips that can help you get through a panic attack after years of self-study.

  • Engage your 5 senses.
    • what do you see? Name 2 items you see.
    • what do you hear? Name 2 times you hear.
    • what do you feel? Name 2 items you feel.
    • what do you smell? Name 2 items you smell.
  • Belly Breathe
    • the core of calm lives in our bellies
    • inhale for 1-2-3-4, hold it 1-2-3-4, exhale 1-2-3-4
    • when you inhale, feel your belly pushing out as if you were preparing to sing a high note in chorus (shout out to middle school chorus and the awkward pubescent moments of doom and acne)
  • pick your manta
    • “I’ve been through this before and I survived/thrived”
    • “Let it go”
    • “I am calm and compassionate”
  • Seek gratitude
    • in the midst of panic, finding something you are grateful for is a challenge, but it makes all the difference
    • say one thing in your mind that you are grateful for
    • the shift from fear/panic to gratitude is a powerful and beautiful moment

Panic used to make me feel spaced out and strange. I would feel dizzy and disconnected. By focusing on my senses, I would feel grounded and connected to the earth. Sometimes, I would smell peppermint oil to really jolt me back in the present moment. Mantras work well for me also because it stops the continuous negative thought pattered and replaces it with something positive. Our brain has this miraculous area called the limbic system. It has allowed us to survive for thousands of years and outrun tigers /prevent us from burning our houses down etc. It is a bad ass emergency system. Unfortunately, we live in a state that has the limbic system switched to “on” most of the time, resulting in hypervigilance. This explains why you might be in line at Target and the next thing you know, you are sweating and feel a desire to run out of the store. Thanks, sympathetic nervous system. By utilizing the techniques listed above, we can counteract this overstimulated response system and begin to engage our parasympathetic nervous system. I fondly refer to it as the chill the f*** out system. Our brain is phenomenal, but we can still manipulate it to halt panic and allow space for a more calming energy. You have the power to trick your brain with your body.

You are a warrior goddess/defender of the good/captain fantastic/super human….just if you needed a reminder.

Love and light.

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Plot twist. 

Blogging fell from my pocket and got lost within the junk drawer of life over these past two months. I love writing and sharing ideas with my readers, but I’ve gravitated away from this creative outlet. After diving inward and working through the kinks, I’ve decided to revamp the content of my blog. I’m humbled by my readers and I hope you continue to find a space to cultivate new ideas with me. This blog is taking a sharp left and will start to evolve….because, well…I’ve evolved. I want this platform to be a genuine expression of what works for me and what does not. I’ll be sharing my tales as I continue on this adventure of self-discovery and I would be honored to have you join me. Lean in, grab a cup of tea, and let’s wade through the sludge together!

New/continued content:

Minimalism 

Yoga 

Meditation 

Self-improvement 

Mindfulness 

Organization 

De-cluttering 

Repurposing 

Stress management 

Stay tuned! New blog posts every week!

Love and light. 


This little free library inspired me to start writing again ❤

Perfectly Happy.

External circumstances impact your happiness for a short period of time. However, internal circumstances are the sustaining practice to achieving and maintaining happiness. This revelation is a relatively new concept for me.

In my first few decades of life, I created a correlation between success and happiness. If I achieved my tangible goals, happiness would naturally fall into place. This relationship was not as strongly correlated as I once imagined. It began in my early 20’s when I was working towards a career in healthcare.

Once I get into nursing school, everything will be perfect.

I got into nursing school and it was difficult. I assumed it was just a period of growth and put my happiness towards the next goal.

I will get accepted into a Master’s Program and I will become a Family Nurse Practitioner and my life will be perfectly happy.

Fast forward a few years: I graduated with honors with my MSN and landed a job immediately.

THIS HAS TO BE THE POINT WHEN EVERYTHING IS PERFECT AND I’VE ACHIEVED ULTIMATE HAPPINESS?!

As the dust settled and I felt my feet become grounded with the earth, I realized what I was missing. Accomplishing goals is a beautiful process, but the perfect life is not waiting for you at the finish line. The perfectly happy life was in the journey, in the small moments of self-discovery and love. I feel as if I put my head down to barreled through to the end and I missed most of the adventure along the way.

These past few months have opened my eyes towards the intrinsic nature of happiness. It is what we seek and create in our soul and mind. Happiness might be impacted by external results for a short time, but it is sustained by the inner journey.

Meditation has given me the opportunity to reflect back on my experiences and realize that I did miss out on small moments because of a focused vision on the end goal. I have learned to be more mindful and stop to raise my gaze to the world around me. The old adage is true: Happiness is the journey, not the destination.

I realized that I am having the time of my life RIGHT NOW. It’s not next year when we get a house or when we have our first child. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s here now. I think life becomes more enchanting when we stop focusing on the finish line, breathe, and look to our left and right.

Do you think you can create your own happiness by becoming more mindful and tending to your soul? Let me know in the comments.

Love and Light.

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My afternoon meditation corner on this cozy day.

Fresh.

2017. A fresh start. A clean slate. Cough Cough, insert inspiring Pinterest quote here.

All jokes aside, I put this blog on the back burner as I transitioned to a new career and it feels like time to begin again. My creative mind was itching for an outlet and I have missed the meditative feeling of pen to paper. Rather…fingers to keyboard.

Speaking of meditation, I want to share a quick update with you all. I transitioned from a nurse to nurse practitioner three months ago and it has been a trying experience. I am experiencing the “from novice to expert” phenomenon and it is exhausting. Exhaustingly beautiful, but exhausting nonetheless. These past three months have left me feeling vulnerable, strong, proud, embarrassed and everything in between. However, personal growth is an intimate evolution of the self and I have been leaning on meditation to cushion the path.

Mediation makes me feel powerfully calm. It also makes me feel incredibly humbled by my brain’s ability to juggle 80,000 thoughts a day (real number…it’s worth a google). It gives me the awareness to recognize my chaotic mind, say hello, and continue about my day. If you have been following my blog, you know that an anxious mind is my natural default setting. I use meditation, not to “fix” my brain, but to acknowledge and support my mental journey.

Insight Timer is an iPhone App that offers thousands of FREE guided mediations. I am currently participating in a 365 day challenge with a million of my closest friends! The app allows people from all over the world to come together (in a virtual sense) and unite with a common goal: mindfulness. Each day, I sit on my yoga mat and meditate. It might be for 3 minutes or for 40 minutes. There is no right way to meditate. The only “right” thing is to show up for yourself and give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. Meditation can be finding awareness in the breath and enjoying 3 deep inhale/exhales.

I challenge you to begin with just 3 deep breaths in the morning at the edge of the bed. How did it change the way you greet the day? Did you feel more grounded and controlled?

Meditation is not a solution for everyone. Just the thought of sitting down with your thoughts for 30 seconds scares people. If you feel that way, then you really should embrace meditation! 🙂 For some, all of this sounds like complete bull. I sound like a liberal millennial who should lay off the incense. And…that is ok. This has worked for me, but it does not work for everyone. My hope is that one person who is struggling with an anxious mind will find this article and give this strategy a try.

It feels good to be back. I want to share my light with the world and this currently feels like the platform…so…stay tuned!

Love and Light.

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Serendipity.

Do you seek out joy or wait for good things to happen to you? The concept of serendipity tells us that pleasant things appear spontaneously. Well, I like to think you can create your own serendipity with a little bit of luck and effort.

My schedule has been aggressively busy over the past month. I started a new job that tugs on every essence of my being; in a good, yet time-consuming way. “Busy” is a commonality among most humans. The challenges shift among people, but most days involve school/job/spouse/family/children/housework or any combination of the stressors. When life is busy, do you stop engaging in self-care? Do you stop taking precious moments to yourself to seek out beauty?

When I am at my busiest, I find that I thrive at self-care and my calming practices. I have to budget my time, which forces me to schedule times of relaxation. My commute to work has evolved into a delicate time of reflection and relaxation. I must drive every morning, so why not create a sacred experience. My car smells of strong coffee and emits soothing sounds of my favorite musician, Trevor Hall. I also have a portable essential oil diffusor for the dashboard. So, with a little bit of effort, a daily commute has unfolded into my sacred Sara time.

Another way I squeeze beauty into my day is tea time. I have a Keurig in my office at work and I brew a cup of tea after I round on my patients. Although a small gesture, the smell of loose-leaf tea makes charting a lot more pleasant. It also brought a sense of community to my work space. I’ve met other staff members through this spontaneous love of tea. Now, I bring tea to our weekly team meeting. One small action has become a new habit that reminds our coworkers to slow down and enjoy a delicious drink. I truly believe everyone can benefit from more mindfulness in the workplace.

My daily yoga practice has been a grounding force during this wild month. Somedays, I practice for an hour and its a sweaty, sublime practice. Other days, I lay in bed in Savasana and call it yoga. It’s about creating a balance, right? After a long day at the hospital, getting on my mat and releasing the tension feels like a true gift. Even if it’s a five minute practice, it’s five minutes of healing bliss. Create a serendipitous moment by getting on the mat and engaging in a delightful flow.

As I reread this, I realize how a lot of this sounds like “first world problems.” Oh, I’m too busy from my JOB that allows me to provide and never have any financial worries. Oh, I’m just so stressed from being at work that I have to drink $10 tea from Teavana out of my Keurig. That is not my intention. My intention is that we are all busy and all have our own struggles. In that busyness, we often forget to slow down and create magic in our everyday lives. We forget to create or embrace serendipity. We forget about the importance in the small moments.

How do you celebrate small moments when life is moving fast? Share with me 🙂

Love and light.

 

A whimsical, wild wedding: An unconventional bride’s take on going rogue.

 

In the South, there is an expectation to do things a certain way. It is understood that (most) women are supposed to marry at a young age, pop out a few pups, and have a rampant Pinterest board. Is there anything wrong with that plan? Nope. If that is the trajectory of your life and it gives you fulfillment, that is beautiful. If we all chose the same path, the world would be pitifully boring.

When I was little, I never thought about my wedding. I dressed in scrubs and informed my mother that I wanted to be a brain surgeon. I ended up as a neuro-specialized nurse practitioner, so I guess that is close enough. There is photographic evidence of this that can be provided at a later time. For reals. A part of me wishes I spent time envisioning a special day filled with cake and whimsy, but it just never happened. I was not even sold on the idea of marriage until I met my now husband.

A lot of my time is spent trying to please other people. It is a large part of my job, but an even larger part of my personality. When I got engaged, the idea of an elopement weighed heavily on my heart. However, the reality of it seemed out of reach.

Could I really have a private ceremony with just my husband, a minister, and a photographer? What would people think? Would my family be hurt? Is that even “allowed” in Southern societal norms?

I had an epiphany during my semi-annual haircut and color with one of my favorite humans. I like to think of these interactions as a combination of heavy chemicals and two hours of free therapy. If you knew my stylist, you would want to steal her. I told her my idea of running off into the woods and she told me, “Sara…find what satiates your soul and forget the rest.” She did not actually use the word “forget”, but rather a saucier verb. And then it hit me. We would run off into the woods.

From day one, our families and close friends were great. We let everyone in on the proposed plan and received copious love and support. I hope I can gift my children the same unwavering love in the future. No questions asked, just support. Our families knew this was what we wanted and sacrificed to give us our dream day. In hindsight, we never really received any negativity about this untraditional adventure.

The biggest lesson I have learned during this process is this: Do what you want to do in life. The people that matter will support you. Following your dreams (so cliche, yikes) is a fulfilling and delightful way to find self love. I am so thrilled we stuck with the original plan and neglected to be influenced by societal expectations.

The conversation that my husband and I had during the past few months consisted of the mantra, “small wedding, big marriage.” We wanted to go into marriage focusing on the thousands of days, not just one day. We desired to focus on the big picture…creating a relationship of long-lasting support, respect, and connection.

Our wedding day was a dream. Not because of the flowers or the venue or my dress, but because it was what my husband and I wanted. We chose to get married on the summit of a mountain because nature has an exquisite place in our relationship. Nature is home. It is a spiritual place where we have shared much love and vulnerability over the years.

This post is about learning to listen to that inner voice and respect it. Do what you want to do and be mindful to respect your gut. If you dream of a beautiful wedding with 300 people and 20 bridesmaids, do it! If it is what you want and what satiates your soul, go for it! Fulfilling what you want is a beautiful gift that we do not always give ourselves. In the words of my favorite Yogi, Adrienne, “find what feels good.”

Love and Light

Please enjoy pictures from our wild, woodsy wedding courtesy of our dear friend, Drew Oswald. You can contact him on @drewoswaldphotography on Facebook.

Gynecologists and spilled iced tea. Honestly.

This piece is inspired by hubby-to-be working late, a relaxing massage from my fantastic coworker, and one too many local craft brews. I want to take you on a journey from the Spring of 2015.

I am anxiously sitting in the waiting room of the gynecologist’s office. Many of you may know that us women have a majestical organ that can grow human life, but also requires an annual oil change. The nurse calls my name and I follow her to the exam room, barely staying upright on my jello legs. At this period of my life, my anxiety was still quite welcome and made a daily appearance. Pair that with a stranger, cold metal, and you have a damning combination. My blood pressure was so high that the sweet nurse looked quite frightened. What can I say? I like to keep people guessing. Anyway, I made it through the appointment and wobbled to the parking deck to retrieve my dignity and vehicle. I drove out of the deck, only to realize it was a cash only payment system. Let’s be honest…I have not carried cash since 2004. So, I had to promise to mail a $5 check to the cashier within one week. MAIL A CHECK, PEOPLE. I did mail such check because my catastrophic thinking pattern convinced me if I did not send in the money I would go to prison and rot on death row. I digress.

I scheduled another appointment right after the doctor’s office because that is a great idea when you are riddled with semi-crippling anxiety. My meeting was with the Physician’s Assistant I was going to shadow in the upcoming fall for my clinical rotation in my Masters program. It was my duty to find a health provider, set up a meeting, and create a mentor-style relationship. My logistical mind decided that the gyno and this medical facility were close in proximity so it would make perfect sense to schedule them on the same afternoon. My anxious brain quickly vetoed the idea, but canceling was not an option.

I wore workout clothes to the gyno appointment because who doesn’t want their doctor to think they are a stellar, fit, healthy human who works out for 329 minutes a day. So, I packed a cute business casual outfit for my meeting with the Physician’s Assistant. I decided to run to a Chick-fil-a and enjoy a quick lunch. Unfortunately, nausea used to be a common anxiety manifestation…so I was essentially dry-heaving chicken nuggets in the parking lot. Casual.

Now comes the time to change outfits. All goes well. I decide to take a nice sip of my iced tea and then it happens. The lid cracks and dark brown liquid pours all over my white chiffon blouse. In panicked mood, I exit my vehicle to look to see if I have another shirt in the trunk. As I step out of the vehicle, my high heel gets caught in a grate in the road. My heel snaps off. So now, I have one broken pump and a stained shirt. The time crunch is kicking in and I need to make a decision. I decide to put on the workout clothes in the hopes this prospective teacher will see me as a sassy fitness guru.

I enter the office and ask for the Physician Assistant. The receptionist asks me if I am a patient. Not a good start. Fast forward…I met with him…it was a decent interaction…I cried all the way home.

What is the point to this story? Perhaps my judgement is clouded by the hoppy deliciousness of local beer. The point is this…it is really not that serious. I ended up having another preceptor take me as a student, graduate with a 3.9, and got a job. It always works out. Even the moments that feel chaotic and overwhelming always lead to the correct path. Anxiety makes the small moments hard and gives too much power to stupid and trivial things. None of it matters in the long run. It always falls into place. I wish I would have learned to take things less seriously…but now I value that knowledge. Laugh at yourself, at the world, at this blissful chaotic thing we call life.

Love and Light.

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For fellow craft beer enthusiasts…this Thai Wheat by Second Self is stellar. Cheers to not taking life too seriously

 

 

Sundaze.

Tell me about your Sunday night routine. Do you feel a heavy fog of monday’s stressors hanging around your psyche? Do you feel like the beginning of the work week has penetrated your Sunday utopia?

Sunday night used to be a trigger for my anxiety. Around 5pm, my mind began the familiar snowball of chaotic thoughts regarding the ensuing week.

I have to go to work, run to the store, work out, pay bills, and cook dinner. Then, I have to turn in a paper and have a phone conference with my collaborating preceptor for clinicals….etc….

Grad school ended, thus extinguishing most of the external stressors in my life. I want to share how I handled a healthy relationship with the final hours of my blissful Sunday during the most hectic weeks.

  • Self-Care Sundays
    • Take a long shower and embrace the purity of feeling clean. Wash away the stressors of the upcoming week and feel the warm embrace of a hot water hug
    • No/minimal alcohol
      • The worst part of Monday is waking up with a hangover. I have drastically limited my alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks at a time and it has improved my mental and emotional health
    • Engage in a hobby
      • I love adult coloring books and the therapeutic release I get from that raw pen to paper feel
    • Ground yourself
      • Meditation is an important aspect to the delicate balance of my healthy vs unhealthy mind
      • Take 5 minutes to sit in silence and enjoy watching the flow of thoughts as you accept, acknowledge, and forget them
    • Journal
      • I keep a gratitude journal and I like to reread it on Sunday nights before beginning the daily grind…it shifts the perspective
    • Tea
      • Make yourself a damn cup of tea. From scratch. Like an adult. The act itself is very spiritually healing and I love to end my night with a delicious cup of Yogi tea

Will these activities guarantee a perfect transition from Sunday into Monday? Probably not. Do I do all of these each Sunday? Does a bear shit in the woods? Actually, I have never understood that saying, which is shocking because I like to consider myself a female Bear Grylls. Now, I am getting off track. What were we talking about? See…Sundays are weird.

I challenge you to work on the ease of transition between the restful weekend and the loudness of the week. Perhaps you have a career that allows for a natural evolution between the two. Perhaps we should all find careers that allow for low stress. Perhaps pigs should fly. I am not sure where all of these animal hyperboles are coming from but I kind of like it.

My wish is that your Sundays are blissfully yours and only yours. May you enjoy the last moments of tranquility before a week of adulting.

Love and light.

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The mug is not exactly accurate…I will not be officially a MRS for another few days 🙂

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Today, I enjoyed a short afternoon meditation sitting on this dock on Lake Allatoona