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.

Travel.

Anxious people and travel often do not mix in the wanderlust-themed soup of life. For the anxious soul, travel is too unknown to be comprehensible. New roads, cars, rooms, restaurants, people, and spaces…the unfamiliar territory is daunting. I want to let you in on a little secret: the joy of adventure always outweighs the fear.

“I would rather have a panic attack on a beach in Brazil, than in my living room.”

Let’s say you are at a crossroads, (the travel-themed metaphors are just TOO easy) and your options are to stay home or go on an adventure. I guarantee most anxious people will be consumed by option A.

“Well, if I just stay home and rest this one time, I’ll be better prepared for next time”

“I’m tired and I think I’ll just watch a movie at home”

“I don’t have the right clothes/gear for that, so I’m going to pass”

“I’m swamped with work, I just can’t get away for the afternoon”

Guess what? I call bullshit on all those answers. Anxiety likes to dictate the initial response to questions and call the shots. After years of dealing with panic, I still catch myself slipping into the default mode of “oh, no thanks…not this time.” CHALLENGE THAT THINKING.

Travel is this beautiful gift that allows up to pause reality and submerge into a hidden world where the potential is limitless. If you want to be a carefree hippie-wood nymph and traverse throughout the woods, you can. If you want to get a tattoo in Myrtle Beach (not recommended based on personal experience) then go for it! Traveling allows you to shed that timid shell and explore your true persona in a new environment.

The next time someone asks you to travel (an afternoon/day/week), pause before you answer. Reflect on this idea: Anxiety does not have to travel with you. What if you could leave her at home to veg on the couch while you explore the world. She doesn’t deserve to come on an awesome trip.

At the height on my anxiety, long car rides would be difficult. I would ruminate on all of the things that could go wrong once we got to the destination. Now, I focus on enjoying uninterrupted time with my fiance. I focus on being mindful and present on the experience instead of catasterbating (patent pending on that word…kinda).

Here are a few tips that I use to make traveling an awesome experience:

  • Prepare
    • If we are hiking, we map out the trail and share the latitude/longitude with friends so if we get eaten by a bear, they can find our gear and fight over the good stuff
    • Use google maps to see a “street view” of where you are going. Visualizing the new location can alleviate some bad vibes
    • Check the weather…duh.
  • Stack the deck
    • There is nothing wrong with bringing parts of your toolbox (see previous post!)
    • essential oils, a favorite mantra, a book are all great supporting objects during travel
    • Be rested, stay hydrated, eat well…when your body is healthy, your mind will follow along
  • Embrace
    • Be mindful to focus on the experience, not the anxiety
    • You are having a beautiful moment in a new place, simply enjoy it

 

I finish with a caveat. We love to travel and 80% of the time, I’m a badass travel buddy. There are still times I get overwhelmed. I HATE flying and I drink myself into stupor to board the flying germ tube. I also still deal with occasional anxiety while driving on the highway. I ignore the feeling and zone out to some nerdy podcast instead of trying to figure out what I’m feeling. Is that therapeutic? Nope. Is that the healthy, hippie way to cope? Hell no. Is that the yogi-granola way to heal? Naw. But, it’s a process and a journey. I’m striving for integrity and raw writing…not perfection.

Love and light.

 

Enjoy some pictures from my travels over the last month

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Our ‘hotel’ for the night during a camping trip

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Watching the waves in Sunset Beach

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Braves game! 

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Exploring downtown Wilmington, NC

 

Pranayama.

This sounds like a fancy drink that you would get at the local gastro pub. I’ll have a pranayama and the cheese plate. Moving on..

Pranayama is the foundation of yoga breathing. 

It goes all the way back to the beginning of yoga. Many, many, many moons ago. The concept is simple: use certain techniques to enhance your breathing ability. There are various styles of pranayama, but my favorite is the Nadhi Sodhana. That’s a fancy Sanskrit word for “alternate nostril breathing.” Check out this video from my favorite yogi:

As someone who has journeyed with anxiety for many years, the ability to calm my nervous system feels tremendously empowering. If I feel like I am on the verge of panic, I utilize this technique to kick in that lovely parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing the breath, you eliminate the hyperventilation that is often associated with panic. This technique also uses a mudra to aid in the calming. What’s a mudra? Picture it as art through the use of your hand. You use different hand positions to encourage positivity and changes in energy. Think about all of the hand symbols we use in everyday life: thumbs up, peace sign, flipping the bird. Each movement conveys a non-verbal gesture. A mudra is used in the same way. By positioning your hand in a certain way, you are non-verbally sending a message to yourself. OK THIS IS STARTED TO SOUND REAL HOKEY, SARA. Ok, fine..moving on.

To begin the alternate nostril breathing exercise, take your dominate hand and fold down the pointer and middle finger. It should look something like this:

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Place your thumb over your right nostril (or left if you’re all weird and left handed) and block the passage of air. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.

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I know this looks slightly odd, but I’ll take looking odd over anxiety any day of the week, my friend!

Hold your breath for a slight, sweet, delicious moment. Use your ring finger to cover your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.

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Inhale through your right nostril.

 

Hold your breath and release air through your left nostril.

 

Repeat as many times as needed to feel calm and grounded. Don’t get crazy and pass out or anything because I don’t have time to squeeze a lawsuit into my daily activities. Enjoy this time. Find the space between the breath and get to know yourself. Spend time in the quiet space.

 

Love and light.

 

 

 

Yogalicous.

What is yoga?

To me, it is this quirky bond between your mind and your body. This bond allows for you to cultivate light, love, and energy in a (sometimes) crappy world. I had an exam today for my Family Nurse Practitioner program. It is an online exam, so I have the freedom to take it whenever I feel ready. Today, I decided to incorporate a pre-exam pump-up routine. It was quite rad.

Picture this:

Sun Salutation/Surya Namaskar mini yoga session. I recently participated in a winter solstice 108 sun salutation yoga adventure at my local studio. It was epic. It was sweaty. It was thrilling. I have found that a few sun salutations on my mat during times of stress really sync my mind and body. You have to stay focused on the breath, but also engaged in the movement. After about 5 minutes of this sequence, I felt energized and focused.

Doterra Lavender in the diffuser. I’ve recently jumped on the Doterra bandwagon. I am so glad that I did! The lavender oil calms me down so quickly. It is blissful.

Binaural Beats playing in the background. If you don’t know what this style of music is…I would compare it to meditation crack. I’m not sure if crack and meditation have ever been used together in a sentence. TIME TO COPYRIGHT THAT PHRASE. Anyway, it is a style of music that can alter your brainwaves into a more meditative state. It can thrust you into Buddha-esque/enlightenment after a few minutes. Actually, I have no idea if it works at all, but I like the sound and I can dig the placebo effect.

During the exam, I did a small mindfulness exercise to check in with my body. I was sitting cross-legged, slumped over, and breathing shallow breaths. This posture is not exactly conducive to a sharp mind. I readjusted, finding a grounding position. I focused on taking deep, belly breaths. The haze cleared and I finished the test with ease.

How do you incorporate yoga into your everyday stress? Do you stop-drop-and yoga during crisis? Do you only do yoga during relaxation? I still feel like a fledgling in yogi world, but I am enjoying the journey towards a synergistic mind and body.

Love and light.

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Dig deep, find your inner light, and share it with the world.

Googlephobia.

I am the queen of Google.

I have removed the Google app from my phone because I morphed into the Dictator of Google.

I feel anxious, therefore I must Google the shit out of these feelings.

Scenario:

I was sitting on a beach with Kemp last summer. We were paddle boarding, drinking cheap beer, and having a blissful time. I left anxiety at home for the day…or so I thought. All of a sudden, I got a cramp in my right calf. The logical side of my brain should have processed the fact we went running earlier and I was probably dehydrated. But the logical side of my brain is boring so clearly I spiraled down the black hole of catastrophic thinking. I immediately took out my phone and started googling “cramp in calf.” Guess what came up? Something along the line of blood clot, cancer, imminent death, etc. Let me casually reiterate something. At this point, I had been a nurse for a few years and had 4 years of medical courses. My logical brain knew that these google revelations were wildly inaccurate. My panic, freak the fuck out, brain had other plans. Five minutes had passed and I was attempting to convince Kemp to chug his beer and take me to the SeaCoast Medical Building. He looked at me, smiled, took my hand and led me into the water. And that was that. I bounced up and out of the dreaded Google hole.

End scene.

I write this in jest, but I imagine a lot of you have been there. The anxious thoughts arise and we seek validation from an external source. My logical brain knew I did not have a blood clot, but my panic brain thought that was reasonable and wanted support by googling ridiculous things on the internet. I also have googled “anxiety quiz” numerous times to simply confirm that I am not losing it. My results always indicate mild-moderate anxiety and that gives me a few minutes of relief, knowing I must be ok compared to others. Why can’t I just process these thoughts without external validation?

We all need someone to look at us and say, “you are calm, you are fine, you are doing well.” I often use Google as that voice, because I’m too broke for therapy every week. Cheers!

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Status post the blood clot meltdown of 2014. Yes, I do have full formed legs. I have not mastered the art of the standing ocean paddle board experience. I can’t help but laugh at that one 🙂