road trip inspiration – big sur

23 Jul

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I’m back in road trip planning mode after a long break. As I’ve mentioned before, we originally planned on doing this trip last spring but life got in the way so we decided to push it to fall. Although, now that we’ve settled on fall I wonder why I ever thought spring was the right time to go? With a chill in the air and the leaves changing fall seems like the better choice. Am I right? At first I thought we’d travel in November to tie it in with our 2nd wedding anniversary but then I thought maybe the weather could become an issue at that time? Could we possibly hit snow as we get further North? Anyway, the fear of sketchy weather made me go with early October instead. Now that we have dates on the calendar I am getting excited. I feel like I am planning a mini version of the cross-country road trip I took a few years ago. I love the planning process- it gives me such a rush researching each city.

The first stop on our itinerary is Big Sur, one of the most magical places on earth, in my opinion. The scenery is breathtaking- rocky cliffs, blue ocean, sandy beaches and tree covered coastal mountains all rolled into one. It also smells incredible there- like fresh pine trees.

Brian and I have been to Big Sur a few times together. The first was when he introduced me to camping (it happened to be one of my ten goals when I started this blog four years ago- an experience you can read about here, here & here) The second trip was on our mini moon after getting married in 2013. As you can probably imagine Big Sur holds a special place in my heart.

Despite having traveled there a few times I still feel like I have so much to explore. I’m dying to visit the Esalen Institute. How have I never been there?

Here are some of my inspiration photos for stop one. Do any of you lovely folks have Big Sur recommendations? Restaurants? Coffee joints? Hikes? Hotels? Drives? Anything!

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images found via pinterest

 

the four rooms

21 Jul

 

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There is an Indian proverb that says “everyone is a house with four rooms, a mental, a physical, an emotional, and a spiritual. It is said that most of us live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not complete person.” Interesting thought, don’t you agree? The idea is based on the principle that when our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual selves are in alignment – we can more fully manifest the life we desire. This idea resonates with me. I find that when one of my rooms is out of sorts it affects everything in my life. I feel unbalanced. Off kilter. Anxious. Reactive.

So how does one balance their four rooms?

I pulled some excerpts from the beautiful site The Intentional Workplace that explain how to tend to your four rooms. Again, not my words. Enjoy!

Room one- the mental room 

The power of thought is one of the most creative forces in the Universe. Some would say – the most powerful. We don’t usually give a second thought to thinking, but our thoughts are constantly creating our experiences.

The language we use – to think and speak – is the narrative of our inner and outer world . Look around the room you are sitting in now; in the purest sense, everything in it is the product of someone’s thought. Our thoughts are the domain in which we can exercise our greatest control. Not rigid or authoritarian control, but choice. In the moment to moment choices we make, we demonstrate the power of our thought.

The scope of our control over thought continues to be understood through neuroscience. According to a recent study discussed in Nature, researchers stated,“Individuals can rapidly, consciously and voluntarily control neurons deep inside their head.” While it is important not to underestimate the challenge of controlling our thinking (especially where there is history of emotional or physical trauma) the news from science is very encouraging.

We’re entering an era where we understand that our thoughts need not be victims to external influence, but are the epicenter of our own life force and behavioral direction.

Room two- the emotional room 

This is the room where our feelings reside. Neuroscience has shown that our feelings do not simply emanate from one part of our brain (the limbic system), so we can imagine that this room is vast. It encompasses our entire body. You have more neural networks for feeling in your stomach and heart than anywhere else in your body.

Some of us ignore this room. It’s like the extra back room, filled with clutter, that seems like just too much work to organize. Others spend way too much time in the emotional room, reacting on auto-pilot to life’s events, rather than using the knowledge of the mental room for balance.

The tools of emotional intelligence can give us a whole new level of freedom in which to explore this room. We tend to think of this room as a messy place filled with anger, anxiety, resentment, impatience and frustration. While there should be a welcome sign on this room’s door for all of our feelings, remember that this is also the room where calmness, confidence, contentment, satisfaction, love, joy, empathy and compassion live. There is room for all.

The way we breathe is an important clue to how we relate to our emotions. Feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, resentment and frustration are all emotions that contracts us physically (and mentally). These feelings pull us in, forcing our breathing to become very shallow, even halting. Yet, when we experience feelings of contentment, calmness, elation and gratitude, we feel a sense of breathing out – of expansion. Even emotions that some might think of as sad, such as empathy and compassion – provide us with a feeling of release.

I have long contended that every emotion has the potential to be a resource in our lives. Feelings are an exquisite source of information about our experience. They do not lie. They are a blueprint of the truth of our experience. They reliably chart whether we are living our values or not. They brilliantly point to how we are meeting our needs or not.

The emotional room is a powerful place to reflect on your truth. Visit it with curiosity (one of the “neutral” emotions) and leave your judgment by the door. You are there to listen, learn and be humbled by your humanness.

Room three- the physical room 

Being awake and alive requires many of us to basically shift our relationship to our bodies. Most of us are spending too much time “in our heads,” cut off from our senses and the messages from our bodies. Most of the time, we’re not listening – we’re pushing. Our miraculous bodies often take a beating from us and deserve more TLC.

More rest. Better nutrition. More movement. Better posture. More hydration. Less criticism. Less stress. More self-love. It all counts. The body serves us over and over even when we deny its basics needs. How often do we “thank you?”

The core of our being is our breath or Prana in Sanskrit, Ha in Hawaiian and Chi in Chinese. In order to regain our natural connection to our body’s life force, we need to change our relationship to how we breathe. It is the key that unlocks the door between the mind and the body.

As we race from one task to the other, we rarely given our bodies a thought. Too many of our bodies are anesthetized by busyness. The reclamation of our relationships to our bodies should be one of our highest priorities.

Enter the physical room often. Bring your appreciation. Bring your respect. Celebrate this glorious temple of your life.

Room four- the spiritual room 

This room isn’t about doing – it’s about being. It’s doesn’t have to be about religion or ideology. It is the room where your spirit comes alive – where it feels free. It is the room that reflects and shares the immensity of YOU. So many wonderful gifts live in this room – too many untouched.

The gifts in this room don’t have to be marketable, branded, explained, justified or perfect. They simply need the space to go where your intuitive sense takes them.

Living in this room requires that we more closely define what inspires and brings us joy. Whatever the experience – being in nature, working with passion, being with those we love, sharing ideas, caring for those in need, painting a picture, creating a wonderful meal, traveling to places we love – bring us into alignment with the spiritual room.

Whenever we visit this room, we integrate all four rooms in harmony. In this room, we find new sources of creativity, energy and peace. Here we discover what truly feeds us – the source of the real needs behind the endless quest for self-expression.

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weekend

20 Jul

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The summer seems to be flying by at an incredible speed. It’s July 20th already? Le sigh. There are a million things I still want to accomplish this summer- a mix of work projects (I swear, I used to write on a regular basis!), personal goals (I’ve actually been doing pretty good at accomplishing these) & house projects (the list is long my friends. Top of my list is painting the walls grey and hanging art). Not to mention I would really like to make it to the beach a few more times before summer comes to a close. Although, I guess when you live in LA summer never really comes to a firm close, does it?

This weekend I…

Had the night to myself on Friday night. Brian was out for the evening with a few friends drinking beer and playing cards. Initially, I had plans to meet a few girlfriends for dinner but when those plans got pushed until next weekend I opted to stay in. I am a fan of staying in by myself. I’m a fan of doing a lot of things by myself actually. I can be such a loner! It had been a long week and I was feeling void of energy. Nothing sounded better than cozying up on the couch with Frank. So I stopped at the market on the way home from work to pick up the essentials for my party of one…a fresh bouquet of white peonies, sushi, pellegrino, trashy magazines & haagen dazs vanilla frozen yogurt. The makings of a perfect evening in my mind.

Saturday morning I had plans to meet my girlfriend Crystal for a morning hike but some very strange weather rolled into LA this weekend and it derailed that plan. I awoke Saturday morning to rain. It was such a foreign sound this time of year…well, and in general in LA lately that with all the bedroom curtains drawn I couldn’t figure out what it was at first. I was convinced it was Frank’s tiny toenails tapping on the hard wood floor until I got up to investigate and was shocked by the storm outside. The air was thick and muggy. Again, so strange. It ended up being a storm that lasted most of the day and brought with it heavy downpour, thunder and lightning. It was crazy! After abandoning the morning hike, I met some family that was in town from Kansas City (they thought our reaction to the rain was pretty funny. I had to explain that we don’t get weather around these parts often) for lunch at M Street (where I bought the massive bacon chocolate chip cookie pictured below) and then stopped for a manicure and pedicure. When I got home around four the rain was coming down really hard so Brian and I decided it was the perfect excuse to binge watch the last season of “Homeland” which we had yet to see. We literally watched the whole damn season on Saturday afternoon until the early morning hours of Sunday. Breaking only to pick up Greek take-out food for dinner. What a phenomenal season! Fucking intense. Hands down one of the best shows on television in my opinion.

On Sunday I spent the day working on a few projects- I finally redid my media kit (with my brilliant husbands help of course. Thanks, Bri!) I can’t tell you how long this has been on my to do list. An embarrassingly long time. But now it’s done and I can finally start working on putting together our fall road trip from LA to Seattle. We originally planned on taking the road trip this past spring but life got in the way so it had to be pushed to October. Which I actually think will be a pretty epic time to make the drive up the coast. Getting very excited about this trip. We wrapped up the weekend with a movie- we saw “Trainwreck” with my mom and brother. I laughed my ass off for two hours straight. That Amy Schumer is a comic genius. Not to mention she wrote the screenplay as well. I have a new crush.

 

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Friday Frankie

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watching “real housewives of new york” with mom

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the storm rolling in…

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cookie of my dreams

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big yawn

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my favorite sweatpants to lounge the afternoon away in

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done

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white / lavender

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waiting patiently for greek food handouts

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new media kit- check!

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see it!

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project 30 – liz

14 Jul

 

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Liz, 30 / Hott Sauce

What would your 30 something self tell your 20 something self if you could?

It’s going to turn out even better than you could imagine.

What do you wish you took more seriously in your 20’s?

My finances! I racked up a lot of credit card debt and paid absolutely no attention to things like my 401K, health insurance and savings. And I have no idea where all the money went. I wish I’d made some more responsible long-term financial decisions.

And my writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing but feel like I’m just now beginning to trust and believe that my voice is worth being heard. I sometimes fear I missed my window of opportunity.

But hey! My childhood idol Laura Ingalls Wilder wasn’t published until she was in her sixties so there’s hope for us all!

What do you wish you took less seriously in your 20’s?

Oh lawd. Basically everything else! I have spent (and, I’ll be real, continue to spend) SO MUCH energy stressing over my career, friendships, boys, family, body image, health, the works. If it’s a thing, I’ve panicked over it at least once. I spent most of my 20’s thinking two steps ahead trying to plan for what might come next. I wish I had slowed down and enjoyed every step of the way for what it was.

Favorite memory from your 20’s?

If I had to pick just one, I’d of course pick marrying my husband – snuck that milestone in right under the 3-0 wire just three weeks before my birthday. Nailed it. Brian is the best, full stop. Every day we spend together is the coolest, funnest, grandest adventure, but declaring our vows in front of our nearest and dearest was in its own sphere of amazing.

But really, I think when I look back what I’ll always associate with my 20’s is not one particular memory, but a whole collection of experiences gained living in New York. Working for my terrifying boss and having weird roommates and mice (ew) and drunkenly running around the East Village and never having enough money and figuring out the subway system and being surrounded by so much diversity and culture and general overstimulation. It’s such a singular, wild and intense place and I feel so much of my 20’s decade has been defined against this backdrop. It’s not for everyone but I’m so happy I’ve lived here. I can’t imagine spending these formative years anywhere else.

I do have one image that stands out, I was riding the D train from my job in Manhattan to my apartment in Brooklyn, just a few weeks after moving into the city which means I was 22 or just freshly 23. This train line goes across a bridge over the East River. As we came up from the tunnel it was that perfect time of day, the golden hour, and the sun was low and shimmery on the water, slipping down behind the tall buildings of lower Manhattan and I just sort of drank it all in, the bridges and the river, Brooklyn ahead of me and the famous New York City skyline behind me and it sounds a little cheesy but in that moment I realized this was my life! I was where I wanted to be and I was so happy.

It sounds so cheesy but sometimes I’ll get a moment like that again, I’ll be zipping along in a taxi or rushing to meet a friend somewhere and catch a glimpse of some building or person or smell from a food cart and suddenly be overwhelmed with gratitude and think “This is your life! Your whole, real life. Remember this!!”

In your early 20’s where did you think you would be (work, live etc) by 30?

I thought I’d be in PR or an event planner, living in New York City in an apartment with a lot of chic exposed brick.

And where were you by 30? What did your life look like?

Living in New York City (check!) working as a publicist for a major national publishing house (this marries PR and events with my other true love, books, so check anddd check), in an apartment with several weird chandeliers but sadly no exposed brick. No washer/dryer, AC or dishwasher, either. Why do I love this city so much again?

I feel like I ought to be paying Kate big bucks for therapy (Kate, do you take Blue Cross Blue Shield?!) because it took me sitting down to answer this blog Q&A to force me to pause, look around and realize…I’m kind of right where I always wanted to be.

Life is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. There are many experiences I’ve had I wish I could erase or things I’m going through now I wish I could change but overall, I’m like, MAKING IT HAPPEN. And so many things, as I said above, are even better than I could have imagined. I’m married to the most amazing guy and I have great friends and I’m well-respected at my job. I run and cook and have finally figured out how to style my hair (Another thing I’d tell my 20-year-old self: put down the box dye, girl.) and I have this brand new sweet baby niece and feel like I’m closer to my family than ever.

So why am I always think I’m never quite enough?

Hence owing Kate those big bucks. Guys, I am right now having an epiphany. Live on national, um, internet. So if you had to ask me what I would tell my 30-year, 10ish-month-old self it would be stop being so hard on yourself, you’re doing great.

(Fellow worry-warts and self-critics reading this, pause right now, sit down and take stock. I bet you’re doing a lot better than you think you are! I think you’re great.)

Were you ever worried that it wouldn’t all fall into place?

Um, literally all the time. See everything else I’ve already said. Worrying is my #1 hobby.

What is the greatest gift about being a woman in your 30’s?

An overall confidence and sense of self. No longer feeling the need to listen to “cool” bands because some dude likes them or stay out late drinking because I don’t want to feel left out or pretend to have read all the smartest literature or follow fashion trends. Like, crop tops? Hell no.

I have a better sense of what I like, what I want and who I am. And I think I have a better sense of who and what matters. I don’t want to say I care less what people think about me at 30 than I did at 20 because I do still care how I am perceived, but now I’m getting a little bit better at identifying, you know “is this person’s opinion of value? Will it help me to become a better person or truer version of myself?” and if yes, I’ll try to listen and learn. And if no, well, fuck ’em.

Ok, I’m not always the best at that last one but I think the 30’s are all about learning how to let the unimportant stuff slide.

When you look out onto the horizon. What do you hope your life looks like at 40?

You know what, I’m not even going to think about where I might be at 40. As previously revealed I have a bit of, um, a habit (slash problem) of worrying how things will turn out and then freaking out when they don’t go according to my plan. In the past I always knew the broad strokes, at least, of how I wanted my life to look: first college than a year abroad then NYC. Through work or luck or who knows what it has, so far, more or less fallen into place. And I am full of gratitude for all of the good and bad and medium things that have brought me to where I am today.

But I find myself for the first time unsure of exactly what I want my future to look like. I know I hope to have children and take exciting trips and continue to challenge myself creatively, physically and intellectually and still be head over heels for my fella 10, 20, a million years into the future. But there are so many questions without easy answers and factors out of my control. When do we have children? How many? What if I can’t get pregnant or end up with quintuplets? Will I stay in publishing or look to start a new career? Will we live in the city or move to (shudder) the suburbs? How will we afford all the things we hope to see and do and experience?

And on and on.

I’m making a conscious effort to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N and stop trying to plan the future. I want to really be present in the now and take and embrace every new challenge and opportunity as they arise. I’m learning — yes, at an oh so glacial pace, but I AM learning — to live with uncertainty.

So I’ll just say that wherever I land at 40, whatever it looks like, I just hope I’m happy and healthy and at peace with all I’ve done and all that’s yet to come.

Also I would not be mad if this place of zenlike self-realization happened to come with an in-unit washer and dryer. I feel like that’s not too much to ask?

What’s a quote/ saying you try to live your life by?

“Shake it off.” – Taylor Swift

(I wish that was a joke, ha!)

connect with Liz

 blog / instagram @lizho914 / Facebook 

happy list

13 Jul

happy post

(image found via pinterest)

things that made me happy this weekend…

The Girl On The Train. I literally did not put it down all weekend. I even woke up at 3am on Sunday morning and found myself strapping on a camping headlamp to continue reading it quietly in the dark as Brian slept next to me. To say I was obsessed is an understatement.

Dinner at Lukshon with my in-laws to celebrate my birthday. Hands down the best meal I have had in ages. Every dish was filled with such an intoxicating mix of flavors. I’m still dreaming about the lobster roll “banh mi”

That Frank didn’t drown in a koi pond this weekend. We were visiting our old neighbor at his new pad and enjoying some time in his garden when I heard a loud splash. It sounded like a bowling ball had rolled into the water. I immediately knew it was Frankie. I ran over to the pond just in time to see Frank pop up from under the water with his eyes as big as saucers. Poor little guy looked terrified. Luckily Brian was nearby and quickly yanked him out. PHEW. I’m not sure Frank will ever explore bodies of water again.

Masters Of Sex. Such a smart & sexy show.

A Sunday night pasta dinner made with love by my husband. He was so excited to use the cherry tomatoes from his garden in a recipe.

A cheerful bouquet of orange tulips my girlfriend Taline sent me for my birthday.

Long summer days & sunsets at 8pm

The project 30 Q&A that I will be posting tomorrow. It’s such a great read

Allowing myself to take it slow

This incredibly inspiring TED talk by our friend Adi Jaffe. It’s a very interesting fifteen minutes if you have the time! FUCK SHAME!

 

currently: on the ground next to my bed

8 Jul

books

In a perfect world this post would have been entitled “currently: on my nightstand” but I don’t have a nightstand. I must change this nightstand situation soon because the pile of books next to my side of the bed is getting out of hand. I trip over them constantly. Although, they do come in handy when I am in need a surface to balance my water and chapstick on. Anyways, my bedroom layout/makeover is for another post…a home decor post. This post is about books! Are you guys reading anything good?? I have a handful of books going right now. It depends on my mood which one I pick up on a given day. Does anybody else read 5 books at a time? Or do I just have commitment issues?

Currently on the floor…next to my bed…

“The Brain That Changed Itself” by Norman Doidge

I’ve been interested in the powers of the human brain recently, so I found this book about neuroplasticity fascinating. Until recently the brain was thought to be hardwired and unchangeable- much like a machine. But new research shows that the brain is a plastic, living organ that can change its structure and function…and not only in infancy like originally thought but well into old age. I’m not usually one to read books that you can find in the science section at the bookstore but this one reads different from a wordy textbook. It is filled with personal stories of triumph- ranging from stroke patients to amputees…to my personal favorite…a woman who recovers from the damage to her inner ear’s vestibular system.

“Bird By Bird: some instructions on writing and life” by Anne Lamott

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

One of my favorite excerpts from the book. The way her brother felt about his report on birds is how I feel about life some days. Not the fabulous parts but the parts that feel hard. I doubt I am alone here. Sometimes certain tasks, projects, lessons and days for that matter seem completely overwhelming and all you can do is take it bird by bird. As you can probably tell from the title of the book it’s not only a book about how to navigate life but also how to navigate being a writer. Anne Lamott is such a soulful and funny writer. I have a major crush on her.

“The Girl On The Train” by Paula Hawkins

I know. I know. I’m so late to girl on the train party. It seems like everybody and their mother has read this book- and loved it for that matter.. I think it’s taken me so long to read it because I was waiting to borrow it from a friend but no one seems to have paper books anymore. Instead everyone has an electronic device. Clearly, I am late to the electronic device party as well. I just hate the idea of saying goodbye to books. Anyway, I’ve seem to have diverged. Back to the girl on the train. I’ve barely just begun it but I have a feeling I’m going to devour it quickly.

“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz

I have read this book a million times and it never disappoints. It’s always next to my bed and I pick it up from time to time when I am in need of some wisdom. The author Don Miguel Ruiz shares four principles (1- Be impeccable with your word 2- Don’t take anything personally 3- Don’t make assumptions 4. Always do your best ) to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. Has anyone not read this book? You must run out and buy it immediately if you have not. It’s so so so good.

“Euphoria” by Lily King 

My mom passed along this book to me after reading it and loving it. I have yet to begin it but it’s up next after The Girl On The Train. Here’s the synopsis…Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ‘30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is “dazzling … suspenseful … brilliant…an exhilarating novel.”—Boston Globe. Sounds like an interesting read, right? Has anybody read it?

“Taking The Leap” by Pema Chodron 

And lastly, Taking The Leap….yet another book that has a permanent place next to my bed (as you can probably tell by its ripped cover). The always inspiring Pema Chodron draws on the Buddhist concept of shenpa to help one understand how certain habits of the mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction. But once recognize these patterns, they instantly begin to lose their hold on us and we can begin to change our lives for the better. I pick it up often when I am in need of her reboot.

….so what are you guys reading???

“I never feel lonely if I’ve got a book – they’re like old friends. Even if you’re not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they’re part of your history. They sort of tell a story about your journey through life.” – Emilia Fox

 

 

word love

7 Jul

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