By default, I’m an anxious human. When not in check, my subconscious mind has the ability to get the best of me. And if I’m not careful—I’m in deep before I even realize. At that point, it can be a steep uphill climb to move beyond the bundle of nervous energy that has come crashing down on me.

For those (millions) of us living with anxiety, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing. That said, anxiety is something that we must live with and manage so it doesn’t cause our bodies harm, or have a negative impact on our relationships (with ourselves or others).

Although some seasons of my life are more anxiety-ridden than others, the following methods and activities help me cope and live with a clearer mind regardless of what is happening externally.

1. RUNNING

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There are a number of reasons I love running, but one benefit of running that oftentimes goes unrecognized is its stress-relieving properties. When I start my day running, it sets the tone for the whole day—clear mind, energized body, focused spirit. This is true for every single run, whether it’s a strong 10 mile training run that’s invigorating and empowering, or a 2 mile shuffle that’s so miserable I can barely keep my feet moving. When I follow up my work day with a run, it’s a similar scenario. A post-work run allows me to reset my brain and shift my attention away from work before the evening begins. No matter how intense, or what time of day, running provides me with instant decompression and gratification. It gets the blood flowing, not only to my brain, but to each and every part of my body.

TIP: If you hate running, try another aerobic activity. What do I mean by aerobic? I mean cardiovascular exercise, be it biking, hiking, swimming, dancing, or even simply taking a speedy walk with your dog— anything to get your body moving, oxygen flowing, and your heart rate up. I find that getting my heart rate up while exercising helps me have a lower resting heart rate, which also means my body is less likely to store up nervous energy to be released in a negative way.

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Things tend to fall to pieces before they come together. Then suddenly, the growing pains sprout new blooms.

My life has been and remains a testament to this cycle, and probably will be as long as I live, or at least, as long as I continue to challenge my own existence.

At the beginning of June, I turned 28, officially accepted a job offer, and began to feel at home in St. Augustine.

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I think everyone who moves somewhere that isn’t their home and embarks upon an entirely new existence, goes through times when they love their surroundings, and times when they want to get the hell out and retreat, regardless of how things are going on the surface.

Happily, after ten months of feeling constantly back and forth, I can wholeheartedly say I’ve reached a breakthrough point. I still miss my family every damn day, but I am consistently feeling at home and at peace here in St. Augustine, more than I feel when I do return to my home town. This has resulted in a huge turning point for my pysche.

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I’ve been a bit quiet lately for a number of reasons. The number one reason being, I’ve been dealing with some growing pains.

Let’s face it. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing. They’re called growing pains because they cause a significant amount of discomfort.

Each season in my life that has produced monumental growth has been accompanied by pain. I’ve learned the presence of the pain isn’t associated with age, but rather, your level of motion, action, and movement. What I mean is, so long as you’re growing, there will be some level of pain present. It’s a part of the process, and a valuable one at that.

There have been countless points throughout my life—both in seasons past and present—I’ve avoided facing up to the pain it takes to grow. In these moments, it’s no wonder I’ve experienced feelings of defeat, or felt as though I was running in a circle.

Having decided to step up to the [growth] plate once again, I’ve recently been met with the following types of growing pains. Continue Reading…

“The proverbial fork in the road suddenly slapped me in the face. In front of me, in the distance, my current life—once defined by a comfortable job, a comfortable apartment, and a comfortable relationship—and that of a new path filled with unknown adventure, storybook romance, and full-time travel. There was no question; with absolutely every ounce of all I was and all I had been moving toward, the choice was epically clear.” — Kristin Lajeunesse, Chapter 1, “Will Travel For Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, & Make Love”

This bold choice Kristin made to take the road less traveled, turned into two years of van-dwelling life spent on the road in search of vegan food, figuring out life and love along the way.

Now, Kristin has turned these experiences into a memoir. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” [The Book] was officially released Thursday, April 23.

WTFVF book cover

Kristin’s compassion for life, passion for adventure, and dedication to live out an authentic existence, resonate from every single page. “Will Travel For Vegan Food” is a must read for anyone with a wanderlust-filled spirit, who favors abundant experiences to material possessions.

This official book trailer captures the heart and the energy of Kristin, and her journey—a journey that spans miles beyond the food itself.

Kristin has inspired me from the beginning of my own vegan journey. While embarking upon various travel explorations, I’ve referenced her website numerous times for ideas of eateries to try. Since the launch of Vegan on the Run last year and throughout the entirety of Kristin’s book writing process, I’ve followed along with her journey even more closely.

The following Q&A with Kristin delves into the experience, the impact, the food, and the travel, that are all part of “Will Travel For Vegan Food.”

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I’ve been reading quite a bit of Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less blog lately, and it’s reaffirming the decisions Andrew and I have been making to rid ourselves of all kinds of excess. A particular post titled, “Why You Should Give Away 50% of Your Stuff,” really speaks to me.

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In the past month, I’ve quit a freelance project that was taking up an entire day every single week, and made a move across town in an effort to alleviate burdens, and simplify my life with Andrew. Immediately following this move, we hosted a yard sale to get rid of a solid chunk of our belongings, as step one of cutting what we own in half.

To say that the changes that have transpired in the last month are freeing is a profound understatement. We now have less physical space to take care of, less physical belongings weighing us down, less stresses in our lives, and more freedom to live.

Here is a quick look at some of the steps we’ve taken recently (and are continuing to take) to simplify. If you are finding yourself bogged down by physical belongings, or mental clutter in this current season of life, I invite you to consider any one (or all) of the following challenges.

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“I wish I had the time and money to cook (and eat) good food.”

This is a statement I’ve heard uttered repeatedly, especially in response to my electing to be vegan, and my mention of how much I cook.

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above photo on social media, along with the following note:

“It only takes twenty minutes (or less) to turn a basket of teeny taters into cheesy mash. The fact that this tater basket was only $1 at the produce stand made last night’s dinner taste ever better. Local green beans, broccoli, red pepper, sweet onion, spinach and cabbage were steamed in a pan on the stovetop and enjoyed alongside this mash + a fresh juicy tomato & DIY goddess dressing.”

I also mentioned that I only gave this meal 5-10 solid minutes of prep and stovetop attention and the rest of the time I let it cook itself while I fed the pup, let him outside, went outside with him (with window open to keep an eye on the food), straightened up some things, washed a few dishes, changed clothes…etc.

Truthfully, I’m always slightly baffled (and bummed) when I hear someone say they don’t have the time or funds to cook good, healthy food. Believe me when I say, it doesn’t take fancy ingredients, excess money, or excess time to cook up a fresh, hearty, delicious, local meal, using just a pot and a pan.

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If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.

The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”

At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.

For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.

Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.

Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.

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