And then suddenly, in a flash, we are already a month deep into 2016. How can it be?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a difficult time starting this year.

Throughout the final days of 2015, I found myself surrounded by stories of people I know personally, hurting deeply. I saw sadness and despair. I didn’t just see it, the empath in me felt it.

Meanwhile, I was experiencing the contrast of an upswing of joy in my own story of life and love. And I was fully experiencing the privilege of being home in the arms of my family, while feeling as if I was pressing pause on life, disconnecting from obligations or trivial responsibilities. I felt undeserving, and almost guilty getting to breathe in these cherished moments for what felt like days and days.

Then came 2016. 

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The holidays are upon us. While it’s easy to rush around, wear yourself down, and forgo taking care of your body, this doesn’t have to be your mode of operations this time of year. Here are five simple practices to help you stay healthy and keep sane through what I’ll refer to as the holiday hustle. Because ain’t nobody got time to be down and out.

1. Eat Well

I’m a firm believer that staying healthy begins in the kitchen. Eating well is crucial to keeping strong and fueling your body with the elements it needs to prosper. In a post I wrote for Women’s Running Magazine, I noted seven plant-based foods I recommend getting your fill of this season: sweet potatoes, winter squash, quinoa, lentils, beets, greens, and citrus, plus some tips to help you spice up your meals with healthy extras.

Read Women’s Running Feature Here: “7 Plant-Based Foods That Boost Your Immune System”

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I’ve always wanted to embark upon a road trip to see parts of the U.S. I’ve never seen. This desire has grown stronger in the past handful of years, and there were a couple of times I almost made it happen, but didn’t… until last month.

A few weeks ago Andrew and I said yes to the opportunity to drive up the East Coast to be part of an intimate wedding gathering of a dear friend who lives in Brooklyn, explore uncharted terrain together, and share an extended uninterrupted time of connection within a drastically different environment. One abundant in crisp air and fiery fall foliage. One far away from the humidity and wear of Florida. One that we could only hope would reawaken inspiration within us, serve as a perspective check, and help us bring some skin back into our game (so to speak).

Some might think driving from Florida to NYC is crazy, but we both agreed it sounded like a brilliant idea and due to recent changes on my end, we had enough wiggle rooms in our October schedules to be able to follow through and make it happen. We’re boldly calling our October road trip the best trip we’ve ever taken.

From start to finish, it was a trip rich in experience. We spent far more time basking in being and observing than we did doing or documenting. Truly, I could write a novel about our journey and how significant it was, and remains, to our individual spirits and our shared story, but I’ll save that for another time, and perhaps even another outlet.

For now, here is my attempt at delivering something of value — a sampling of sights and tastes for the sharing. If you find yourself in the cities we visited, I highly recommend the experiences and eateries mentioned here.

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“Above all else, we choose to stay. We choose to fight the darkness and the sadness, to fight the questions and the lies and the myth of all that’s missing. We choose to stay, because we are stories still going. Because there is still some time for things to turn around, time for surprises and for change. We stay because no one else can play our part. Life is worth living. We’ll see you tomorrow.” — Jamie Tworkowski, Founder of To Write Love on Her Arms

TWLOHA’s “We’ll See You Tomorrow” campaign is one to carry with you for keeps—hope always involves tomorrow.  

With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, this week being National Suicide Prevention Week and Thursday (Sept. 10) being World Suicide Prevention Day, themes of life, death, joy, sadness, hope, and despair have been weighing both heavy and light on my heart and mind (then again, they always do). 

I have a number of close friends and family members in my life who have battled, or are battling, depression. The closest of these people being me.

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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.


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.

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…