Rewire your thinking! Shine your light brighter in the world!

Sunset glowing

Caribbean Sunset – 2017

 

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago.  She was sharing how she had quit smoking earlier this year, slowly she’s started to reward herself with pampering and self care. She’s been putting the money that previously went towards cigarettes, instead towards massages, clothing and fabulous hair.  I was so proud of her and loved hearing about her doing that for herself.

Then she shared how she had been talking to another woman about this and that person had said something like this to her, “oh, are you going to become all high maintenance now?”.   A seemingly simple comment, probably meant to be funny….. yet completely loaded with judgment.   It left me wondering, why are we so quick to bring each other back down to whatever level we think they should be at to keep us comfortable?   It’s not like my friend has dropped everything and developed an all consuming clubbing habit at age 50 and was putting her family at jeopardy…  she was doing things within her budget and available time that made her feel good.   She was grasping onto a hope that she could keep on keeping on by making herself see how good it feels to treat her body good; to never want to crave a cigarette again, to honor herself for doing something that is so amazing.   We should have a parade in her honor! NOT tear her down.  Have you been in her position?

From the outside perspective it’s so much easier to see how a person can start to dim their own light.  We speak up, we feel good and if we don’t have a strong enough support system or our internal knowing isn’t strong enough yet in that area then once we face resistance we question ourselves.

I know I’ve experienced this so often.  There are many ways in which I’ve always been just a bit on the outside of what seemed like “everyone else”.  From day one, left handed.  Then an artist that loves art but never quite felt like I fit in with the artists…  I was a mixture of the smart kid, the athlete, the artist… yet not really completely any of them.  As an adult I married early and became a mom while everyone else was single and having fun. Then just as everyone around me was getting married and starting to have babies… I was a divorced and then a single mom…   Then a vegetarian for over a decade, then not, then the mom who cloth diapered, and then home schooled while also the mom to the social butterfly, daughter who loves everything about public school.  A stay at home mom who also works from home.  In virtually every area of my life I have to face feeling like I don’t fit in completely… and yet I’ve learned to see that this is where I find my superpowers… my uniqueness and what gloriously separates me from the masses.  A uniquely, perfect perspective that there isn’t an “us” and “them” or success or failure; there are are layers between.

 

What has helped me to find peace in this area?  Mentors, seeing people who are so different and wildly successful and happy.  Seeing my friends who stay home and raise their children and are so amazing at it.  Seeing other friends who run successful businesses and are so tapped into their callings while also raising awesome kiddos.  Seeing retired women who have so much fire in their bellies and are so full of dreams and life.  Seeing the friends who go to work each day and are unapologetic about their passion for living life on their terms.   There is no right answer, only what is right for us, our families, our purpose, our knowing.

Back to my friend who I started this post about, for her it is so perfectly fabulous that she is embracing this time for her and honoring what she knows she needs.  That is not to take anything away from the other amazing women who have no desire to have a massage or new clothes and yet are perfectly content.  For one person it may be taking time to simply indulge is music and solitude, for another it may be a weekend retreat or business conference, for me I light up from my soul on out when I see new places and get to take in beautiful scenery and share those experiences with people I love.  Pay attention to the moments you feel the most peaceful or the experiences you find yourself craving. Those things that can help you to access your own knowing.

What does it mean to shine your light?  To me it means to to honor yourself and trust yourself enough to speak up when you see a wrong, to speak up in support of what is right no matter how unpopular.  It means embracing and celebrating your gifts, your talents, the fruits of your hard work.  It means being a beacon of hope for others, being the truest version of you.  Cutting away the distractions, the stresses that hold you back. It means being so true to your deepest, wisest knowing that you can’t help but inspire others to be more true to themselves.

I have a free bonus gift I’d love to share with you, 3 steps you can take right now to drastically reduce stress in your life so you can shine your own light brighter!  Easy things you can do TODAY to change your life. You can click the image or click here to receive it.

For me, when I’m shining my light it means I’m honoring my optimism, my belief in the good in people, it means I’m a warrior for love and good in the world.  It means I’m taking time to get quiet and tune in, I’m creating artwork or writing. I’m at peace with my desire for me time and honoring my inner introvert that needs rejuvenating time.

What inspires you when you see it modeled in others?  What have you witnessed other women or men do that you thought was so badass that you wished you had the guts to do it?  How about simple gifts they have given themselves that you admire? Make a note of those things.  You don’t have to do them, but they are clues.  Start collecting clues. Start honoring when you feel in the flow.   Don’t forget to download my free gift to you here to take the next steps in stripping away stresses to help reveal the real you and help you shine your light brighter in this world that so needs your light!

Sending you so much love!

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget you can get this free gift from me to you! Just click the image below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

could this be contentment?

 

I have a confession to make.

I have been experiencing something. It’s snuck up slowly.

I’ve tried to deny it, rename it, question it.

But friends, I believe it’s called Contentment.

Sunset 30 miles north off the coast of Cuba, taken this February.

After years of believing that I always have to be moving forward, growing, taking on more and more.  I’ve reached a place where I finally trust that no, right now for me;  I want to sit and bask in this time.  I don’t want to expand the time I put into my business, I don’t want to be involved in large numbers of art shows and networking and online classes.  I don’t want to join a bunch of mom groups.  I love my life right now.

After years of diligently looking at all my commitments and areas of stress, many which I wrote about in my ebook Finding myself in the Moonlight, I have added in breathing room and space into all areas of my life.  I’ve learned to trust myself more than ever before.  We’ve busted our asses for years and finally gotten to a financially free place where the only debt we have in the world isour home.  It’s truly freeing.  After years of having my head down and checking off an endless list of to-do’s I finally feel like I am in that place I prayed for so many times.

 

I’ll never stop learning (in fact I’m listening to a TED talk right now while typing this) but what I am getting better at is looking at classes and programs and knowing that now is not the time for most of them.  I’m still growing and learning and in fact my faith and spirituality is deeper than ever. Prayers and meditations and time in nature have all helped me to feel a contentment that I’ve never felt before. 

I share this to offer hope.  This may surprise you but I’m rebellous to my core.  I’m a rule following rebel I suppose.  I love to do good, I love to find good in others… but… the  minute society or people tell me that something should be done a certain way.. I question it.   It works though; I’m the happiest person I know.  I don’t feel like I need to do things the way everyone does them.   We all have areas we feel that pressure from. Here are some of the choices I’ve made that work for me (us) that have lead me more towards contentment:

  • moving 40 miles from the cities to a property where we can grow food, embrace nature, have a workshop to build and create in.  We are tucked into the trees and have privacy and also the rejunating energy of nature.  We get a whole floor to ourselves and the kids have their own bathroom, all in our cozy little 1500 sq. foot house.
  • getting out of debt.  We paid off $48k in just under 2 years (you can read about that here).  What that has done to our lives and the peace it has brought since though has blown my mind. We recently were able to take our kids on a week long cruise to Belize and also do a small road trip after we got off the ship and see the Everglades and visit a state park in the Florida keys.  The best part; we paid cash for the trip. It is so freeing to be able to plan and save and pay for a trip like that and come home and still have money in a savings account.  We worked so hard for so many years saving every penny, selling things and praying that I share that to say all that sacrifice was worth it.  
  • Homeschooling our youngest. Our oldest is in public high school and she thrives and loves it, I was faced last year with a decision to homeschool our youngest.  While I admit I wouldn’t prefer to have homeschooled my oldest, each kid is different and it has been the right decision to homeschool our little guy. And we LOVE it.  Just this morning in fact, sitting with him and watching him learn to read.  It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to do in my life. Teaching him about living from the heart, music and the arts, endless time for science and real life experiences.  I am so incredibly grateful for this time, piecing together a curriculum and resources so I can connect him with learning opportunities that help him become the best whole health and knowledgeable person he can be.
  • Our 16 year old just got her driving permit and I’ve had a similar feeling teaching her to drive. It’s so special to get to witness and be a part of that growth. In a world where everyone’s first reaction is to go to the fearful side of this time, and yes of course that part is there too; I’m choosing to really honor the blessings that this stage of life is bringing for her and us.
  • This past holiday season I did something that I had never done before.  After years of doing holiday art and craft shows and in person shows, hauling all my work from place to place, getting sitters and paying entrance fees I turned them all down and trusted this little voice inside that knew I could do it my own way. (At least for now, with kids at home I have found myself losing interest in shows. There is only 1 that I love where the people and atmoshpere and crowd are so amazing that I may keep doing it, we’ll see – lookup 4Angels boutiques if you’re curious)   Instead I offered very specific items online including remembrance ornaments and sold hundreds of them. I also got a chance to connect with small groups of people in online artwork parties. During these parties I was able to show videos where I got to explain the deeper meaning behind my artwork pieces and really hear people’s stories and what exactly what people around them were going through and connect them with the perfect gift they could get for those they love.  It was such a rewarding and special set of parties and I got to meet so many beautiful women. Plus I got to do all of those from my home on my own schedule. 
  • January 1st, I deactivated my personal Facebook. I was finding myself having underlying levels of guilt, after cutting my friend list from over 600 to around 250 that helped a lot. Ultimately though I had to get really real that me being at home and having endless access to “check in” was costing me many minutes once I added it all up.  Now after 2 months after being away I can see that the part I was really reluctant to admit to myself was that there was a continuous feeling of static in the back of my mind. Anywere I was, anything I was doing; I always felt like there was something else I was supposed to be doing.  I don’t know if everyone feels that, but for me stepping away has allowed me to feel so present in my day to day life.  At some point I’m sure I’ll get back on but for now it feels like the right choice for me.
  • I don’t do networking groups.  Or mommy groups.  Here is what I know about me. My go to emotion is guilt. I really want to honor and connect with people once I let them into my world.  What can seem like a fun one time, meet new people networking experience for most people leaves me feeling flaky and unreliable after the fact.  I connect with people and then within my daily life I have no room for follow up.  I am not available to do follow up coffee meetups, business meetings in person or mommy activities.  So instead I’ve chosen to honor this time and know that someday I may want to dive back in and network and meet more people and really give it my all then I will do so with joy. For right now though I feel fulfilled with those in my life and the simplicity of our day to day.
  • I don’t do phone calls or in person meetings if at all possible.  Artwork is visual and for me sharing information via email or online works best.  I am choosing right now not to do a ton of in person events.  What I have found also is on my deeper, more intuitive based artwork projects I attain better results if I don’t have phone conversations with my clients.  That my sound strange but I hate the phone. I don’t like talking to new people on the phone and it drains my energy.  So knowing that I choose to keep my internal energy high and my intuitive energy at it’s deepest level by honoring them.  This will change at some point, but for me right now with a kiddo in tow and a routine we stick to it is what works best for me.
  • Choosing to drive used cars.  We don’t do car payments and all our cars (4) are paid for in full.  I was especially glad the other night (when I hit a deer a few hundred yards from our driveway) that I don’t worry about scratches or other life things that seem to happen out here. For the record the deer jumped back up and was fine and so was my car.  Someday we’ll get some nicer cars but for now, this works great for us.  I’m grateful that Bruce knows how to fix cars and keeps them all running.  I think the biggest thing has been to disconnect our feelings of self worth from the cards we drive. Yes, of course it is fun to drive a super new, decked out car and we had fun last year when we rented a car for a weekend and chose a new BMW suv. It was really fun.  But I don’t feel like less of a person because our cars are from both the 90’s and early 2000’s.  I actually feel great pride and think of the other things we have been able to do with that time instead of having to spend it making money to pay for upgraded cars. Right now, I prefer more family time.
  • Minimalism – we have gotten rid of so much extra stuff over the last few years.  6 months after getting married and combining our lives (stuff) my mom passed and over the next couple years our garage filled up with furniture, decor, clothes and candles that were hers.  It’s taken almost a decade but we finally feel like we have just a few really special things that help me remember her but don’t need to have our whole house stuffed with things.  We spend less time organizing, cleaning and moving things which has freed up not only time but also energy for the things we really want to spend it on.
  • We don’t have cable. We have a roku with netflix and amazon and a couple other channels.  We don’t dvr things.  So yes, we miss things that are on tv quite often.  Years ago I spent so much time watching tv and scheduling out what things would be recorded and learning about new shows but now it has faded.  But somehow I’m still okay.  This past year I’ve bingewatched; Heartland, Hart of Dixie, Hallmark’s Home is where the heart it and a few other shows that everyone else enjoyed years ago.  I’m okay with that.  They are coming into my life at the perfect time for me to really savor them and enjoy them.
  • Diminishing toxic relationships.  We can’t always completely avoid people who bring negativity into our lives but I strive to eliminate unnecesary drama or people I don’t trust.  Today I don’t have to spend much time or energy on this but years ago I had a list of people in my life who I knew I needed to move on from. I send them love and I chose to limit or cut them out out completely and it’s been life changing.
  • We talk in the language of love.  If you where a fly on the wall in our home you would hear my 6 year old talk about how his heart is exploding with love. How he happy cried in the car yesterday while looking at the sunset and again last night when we all sat on the floor working on legos with him.  We talk about our love, what eachother mean to us and share gratitude fr
    eely. Even while having a 16 year old daughter I love that we can talk so openly and validate feelings, our intuition and have worked so hard to make our home a peaceful respite in contrast to a sometimes crazy and stressful world. 

I share some of these things because I know so many people do fill so much of their day’s doing things they “should” do instead of really allowing themselves to schedule in breathing room, space and peacefulness.  We want to make the people around us happy and sometimes we let the rule over that little feeling in our gut that knows something doesn’t feel like it fits anymore.  Give yourself permission to honor peacefulness as much as success and knowledge in other subjects.  It will make every area of your life better.  I’ve experienced the death’s of loved ones, a divorce, multiple moves, and defining and developing my business. Then later marrying a wonderful man and making choices that move me closer year after year towards a life I really connect with (including working really hard to un-learn so much I’ve been tought growing up.) That journey has led me to now has given me this gift of a chapter of contentment.  I feel so grateful, even grateful for the really tough times that make me even more grateful each day for good times.  I know life will be full of ups and downs and times where I can’t wait to be around people and others where I again crave solitude and quiet, but for now in this moment…  it feels so right.

Sending you all love!

True Freedom! How we cleaned up over 48k in debt in just 21 months

48kin21months

I was in conversation a few weeks ago with a close friend and we were talking about bills. I mentioned how hard we were focusing on paying bills because we were close to getting out of debt and only having our home left to pay.  “Wow, you’re lucky.  Must be nice.” That was her reply.  That stuck with me… we must be lucky.. it just didn’t sit right.

Over the last few weeks that’s been stirring around in my mind between errands and other thoughts and I finally am able to articulate why I don’t think luck had much to do with it and I certainly wouldn’t call the experience “nice”.  It was hard.  Really hard.  It is was raw and real and I feel like we’ve been paying off debt FOREVER!

Fair warning; this post is really honest and really long.

I believe in going after dreams, in living a big life and in living in true authenticity and joy.  I want a life that is full of love and experiences that make me grow and expand my life and relationships.

Let me rewind to 2011, our life was busy and full of joy. We had a small modest home in the suburbs of Minneapolis, 2 used cars we drove, a few acres of land a couple hours away with a camper, atv, an extra truck that ran and an extra truck that didn’t.  We’d spend the week working our tails off then pack up and go up to the “cabin” for the weekends.  As Sky got older and had more sports tournaments over the weekends we noticed that our attention, time and money were being pulled in more directions.  It was getting harder for us to really enjoy each thing we were doing because we were always racing to the next thing.  With a preteen and an infant we knew it was going to be many more years before we re-gained full chilled out weekends.  At the same time we were getting by financially, we didn’t think about all our payments since we were able to pay them all each month.  We didn’t consider ourselves paycheck to paycheck…  looking back we had about an extra 2-3 paycheck buffer that kept us feeling falsely safe.

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During a vacation to Colorado and out West in 2011, one of my dearest friends introduced me to Dave Ramsey and we talked about debt, and dared to dream what it would be like to have no payments.   It was after we got home that we had some serious conversations about money, goals and life.  We made a choice to sotp reacting to life and instead make some hard decisions that would help us in the long run.  We knew that someday we wanted the best of both worlds, not the home and a cabin but instead a home where we could live like we were at the cabin. We set the intention and we got to work; that first year we sold the land, the camper, the atv, the trucks, extra furniture and everything we could think of.  Doing all of that also allowed me to continue to work part time and be home more to help raise the kids. It was a win-win.

Years before, after I was going through my divorce I remember feeling so hopeless financially.  I remembered sitting at the kitchen table with my dad and I was crying my eyes out. I had just gotten a notice that my credit card with an $11k balance was raising my interest rate to 33%.  As a single mom at the time I was panicked.  I couldn’t see out of the 10’s of thousands of dollars of consumer debt I was left with after that world came crashing down on me.  From that hopelessness I filed for bankruptcy.   I justified it in my mind and at interest rates of greater than 30% at the time on all my credit cards I had paid my original balances plus some but because of all the interest I couldn’t seem to gain ground.  I filed and felt like I got a new start. The ironic thing.. even the day after filing bankruptcy I still was never debt free. There were still student loans and other things I was still paying on.

Fast forward back now to 2012 and the hubby and I were in the midst of working to pay things off then our main car broke down.  Note – this is was a defining moment for us looking back –  We chose to let that car sit for a bit while we figured out how to fix it and we went out and we finance a newer one.  Eventually we fixed up the first and sold it for a loss. This cycle went on for the next couple years.  2 steps forward one step back.

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At the end of 2014 is when we officially had it.  I was fresh back from a life changing European trip working with women and had a glimpse of how big life could be!  I knew that life was so much more than work, bills and being tight on time.  We were done playing this game, especially with money.

We bought a used car for cash and put our financed suv up for sale.  It finally sold in the spring of 2015, we owed more than it sold for and we had to pay the different and take a loss but we wouldn’t change it.  That same time we were down to just around $1500 of debt.  Free of car payments and only a small minimum payment on 1 card left we felt our world start to open up again.  We’d been dreaming of moving out of the house we were in but were upside down in it and couldn’t figure out how to make it happen.  You can read all about that miraculous story here.  From paying down all that debt we were finally almost debt free but we were cash poor.  We knew we had to make that move happen.  In the meantime it built back up over 20k in debt again fixing up the old and new house and all the extras that come with a move. Add in a school trip for Sky to Europe at over $5k and other life that was turned to payments our world turned back into one of frugalness and very strategic spending.  Thank goodness for all the joy and how much we love it here, I admit it made it all worthwhile!

From January of 2015 through Sept of 2016 (21 months) – yes we managed to clear $48,986 in debt.  HOLY MOTHER!!!  I see that and it gives me hope.  We are a family that loves the simple things in life and living out here really made that easier to pull off but it has been anything but easy to make that happen.   We’ve had to say “no” hundreds of times a day to spending.   I’ve laid out all the details of how we saved money and what we did to bring in extra in this blog post for those that want to read all the nitty gritty details.

  1. We set a budget every month.  I can tell you what we spent in each area of our life for any month going back years.  I had to know exactly where all our money was going and then from there decide what to cut and what to allow.  I keep really detailed spreadsheets and I LOVE it, it must balance out my artsy side but I get a complete natural high from doing our finances and calculating all the numbers.
  2. We worked as a team.  The hubby and sat down at least a few times a month and laid out what our goals where we wanted our money to go, saw what was actually being spent, and made adjustments to get the two areas to match.  We stopped reacting to things and became very intentional.  We decided what to keep and what to cut, where to spend and tried to minimize unexpected things anywhere we could by predicting needs and planning ahead.
  3. Our entertainment budget averaged only $20 a month. FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!!  That is pretty much a few redbox rentals and then add up the extra over a few months and it’s a cheap night out.  We saw 1 movie at the theatre as a family and went to 1 county fair as a family in 22 months.  We had tons of bonfires, game nights, movie nights at home and work nights.  Plus we knew that we wanted to pour money towards debt and a couple strategic vacations. (this was not counting our family vacation – where we flew then stayed with a family member)
  4. Our restaurant budget averaged $30/month.  That meant a few drive through trips a month and we saved them for when we really were short on time or energy and savored them, or we’d stock up so we could go out to dinner with family or friends.
  5. We swallowed our pride and embraced a more minimalistic lifestyle.  This was actually the most enjoyable part.  After my mom passed away, it took years of going through her things and sorting through the layers of guilt, grief and the reality of physical space that “stuff” takes up.  Year after year I was able to let go of more of it.  What happens is it becomes a bit addictive when you start to feel empty space around the house.  It’s freeing.  Craiglist, ebay and FB groups became our selling machines.  We sold and donated a TON of stuff.  I let the kids re-sell their clothing they didn’t use anymore and they could keep that money as well.  It became a family mission to live with less stuff and instead enjoy eachother more and free up more time for life.
  6. My husband packed a lunch EVERY DAY for work.  For years he ate these garbage burritos.  Super cheap and filling.
  7. I learned to make my own laundry detergent, toothpaste, from scratch recipes, cleaning supplies and more.  I did this both for cost savings and also for the health aspect of knowing what was in our products.
  8. We cut our cable and only late last year got a Roku.  We got cheap cell phone plans and have scraped by with cheap phones.  (one of my next goals is to get a phone that actually has enough memory where I can have more than 6 pictures and also have instagram, FB, gmail, yahoo and etsy apps all installed at at the same time… seriously)
  9. We sold the financed car mentioned above and knocked out $12k in debt!
  10. A better interest rate on our house meant that we were paying down $400 more a month off principal than we were in the old house. We switched to a 15 year loan and had the same payment we did in our old house where we had a higher interest rate and a 30 year loan.
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To get the kids involved we filled a jar with beans. We used 1 bean for every $10 in debt on our last card to pay off. Here is Aspen counting beans to add to the other jar so he could see that one jar was getting almost empty and that mean we were close to being debt free!

 

Those are just a small sample of all the behind the scenes things we did while no one was looking so that we could be so “lucky”.  We had to consicously decide to not keep up with those around us who were able to go out and eat dinner out multiple times a week or month, drive fancy cars with payments or even get to buy new wardrobes each year.  Whether it was true or not we had to decide 100% that we didn’t EVER want to feel so stressed out about money again.    It’s funny, I can honestly say that over the years the times I had to make decisions based around money and feel the most consumed by thoughts of money are the years where it was the leanest.   This summer was a perfect testament to that.  In contrast to 2012 when our van broke down, we were in a panic we had no money to fix it right then nor did we have money to replace it.  So out we went that weekend and financed a $20k used SUV.   In contrast this summer our car went out, we were able to calmly share a car for a week as we assessed what to do; then we stuck to a $2,000 budget for a new car knowing that we wanted to pay cash for this car and stay out of debt. It was our true test again, our do-over to see if we’ve FINALLY learned our lesson.  2 months later and we are so happy with our decision and have zero buyers remorse.

I don’t share this to brag and I don’t share this because I don’t think people should have nice things.  I share this to offer hope to anyone out there who is feeling hopeless, feeling how I was years back facing 10’s of thousand in debt and feeling like I had no options and full of shame.   I share this to show it is possible to pay off debt and not have car payments.  It is possible to give yourself breathing room instead of living from crisis to crisis.

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I believe life should be about surrounding ourselves with things, experiences and people that genuinely make us feel good.  Living authentically and truthfully.  Living within our financial means so we have breathing room when life hands us a curveball or a friend goes through a hard time and we then have some money to help them with.

When we aren’t paying hundreds (or thousands) in interest and debt payments each month it frees us up to be more in tune with our creativity, our goals, our truest authentic selves.  It leaves money to get select things that truly make us feel good (like art, ahem 🙂 ).  It lets us come out of survival mode and into a part of our being that we didn’t even know was there.  It takes guts and courage to get so honest and real with a spouse about every cent.  Things we think are necessities or secret spending.  It’s taken incredible amounts of self discipline. Mostly though I think it’s taken patience.  Once we decided we were done wanting to live the way we were it wasn’t like we could snap our fingers and actually be done.  No, instead that was just the beginning of years of sacrifice and years of being patient and trusting the process.  Years of feeling like some months there was only a hundred left over to pay towards debt and knowing that better months were to come.  Patience and not giving up.

one of the many days of hanging laundry to dry inside at our old house.

one of the many days of hanging laundry to dry inside at our old house.

Another lesson, other people will spend your money for you unless you learn to consciously control it.  People shamed us, people judged us, people laughed at us, people talked behind our back about our choices, people didn’t take time to ask us our goals but instead assumed we were in a downward spiral.  Looking back I can only imagine what it looked like to people close to us.  Suddenly they hear we are selling the land, camper, atv, trucks, furniture… they must have been scared for us.  Wondering if one of us had a secret addiction or gambling problem.  Wondering why we were giving up all the things we loved.  What they must have thought when we sold our nice 2012 suv and got an older ’02 model with some rust.   This is the lesson we learned in humility and believing in ourselves.  The lesson in making a plan that worked best for OUR family, choosing how OUR money would be spent and then learning to not care what anybody thought.  We learned to know  in our hearts that we were doing what we had to do for the best LONG term well being of our family and put that priority over the short term sacrifices.

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I am also partly sharing this just for my own self to fully grasp it and have it documented to share with our kids so they can understand all the times we said no to things.  Also because it gives me hope, after living so lean for years I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I see a year of intense saving coming up, making up for lost time and creating a buffer  so the hubby can switch jobs and have more free time.  I see hope of more travel, and lets face it… some new bras.  Truthfully though I hope other things don’t change.  I love the feeling of being a team, knowing we are working towards a goal, choosing time together over things and places.  I loved saying no 900 times so that we could budget in a family vacation that we’d savor and never forget.

I’ll be back in a few days with a write up of many of the things we did to make this happen.  We’ve found inspiration in so many others before us who have paid things off.  It’s funny because in theory it doesn’t seem like it should be that big of a deal to not have consumer debt. Maybe that’s why we so easily get into debt, we assume we’ll fall back out of it just as easily as we fell into it.   But the truth is it was really freaking hard just to get to the point where we stopped accumulating more debt.  Our incomes both fluctuate so it was easy to live high during the good times then freak out during the slow seasons.  It’s only when we figured out how to live within the earning of the slowest seasons and then consider the busy times as bonus that things started to change.   Even just giving up cable.  It was years ago now and I in my head was remembering it as no big deal.  However, I recently found a journal of mine and I was journaling through the process of giving up cable.  It was hard!  I was going through withdrawl.  I was missing my shows I loved, I missed my ability to watch things when I wanted (thank you dvr).  I felt completely disconnected from the world.  It took a good month or so I noticed reading back through my entries before I started to really unwind and really enjoy the new quiet space in my life.

Last Saturday night, we put all four of our fingers on the computer mouse and as a family we clicked to make our LAST consumer debt payment!!!!! Then we had an epic hour long dance party.  Singing, dancing and feeling thousands of pounds of pressure being lifted.  Especially for the kids I wanted to make that night a big deal. A celebration, an end of a chapter.  A night they can use to bookmark these past few years as well.  We all gathered round and counted down and did our own private scream, yelling, “3…2…1… We’re DEBT FREEEEEEEEEE!!!”.  It was awesomely nerdy and fantastic and felt amazing.   Next up… savings and house.

I thank you for reading our story.   We are sending out love to all of you and we thank you for all your support over these last few years.  We’re saying cheers to each of you on the same journey and saying prayers for all of us; that we may be able to live with a wisdom beyond our immediate knowing that guides us in love, compassion and joy.

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Intentional artwork – hidden meaning and love – 7 horses – New Artwork

I am in awe sometimes of the moments in life I get to be a part of.

This new painting was so special to me. It’s a larger piece, 6ft wide and 3 feet tall. It features 7 clydesdales and is full of meaning.

 

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I’ve created a video to show the the story and the hidden messages I’ve hidden within the artwork, click the link to see the painting unfold in this short video.

This artwork was coordinated by Robin at Front Door Coaching, she soulfully teams together interior design, coaching and bodywork and had the insight to bring me in to do this artwork. It was a group effort that I am so incredibly proud to be a part of.  It’s a kind of artwork called, Intentional Artwork.  Where there is meaning layered throughout the piece.  It’s a perfect type of artwork for people looking to capture a deeper meaning after loss, life changes or encouragement moving forward.

When you watch the video I’d be so grateful if you’d take a second and send love to the family this was made for. https://vimeo.com/180342361

 

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in the midst of a body transformation – grain and sugar free

Warning; super vulnerable post.  Only read if you can help offer me loving thoughts of support. 🙂

I’m in shock people, I recently found a photo from our Feb vacation. It was after seeing these photos in early march that I decided to do dive in and commit to trying the Wheat Belly way of eating.  There were other things I was noticing as well that led to me deciding to make a change.  First off let me start by saying, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I love healthy food and after 11 years of a vegetarian (fish only) I felt great about my eating. It was that snack part that really was getting to me as well; lots of sugar snuck in and I hadn’t noticed.  To save money I had also been eating mass amounts of brown rice, beans, oatmeal and grains in order to keep grocery costs down as we worked towards getting debt free. (future post coming on that).

I admit I was someone who openly criticized the Atkins diet, didn’t understand all the craze around people avoiding bread or eating low carb.

As I read the Wheat Belly book I had to get real in challenging what I though I knew.  I had so many symptoms that matched the people before they changed their eating in the success stories I read about.

SYMPTOMS:Red dots on the backs of my upper arms (all my life), increasing skin tags, snoring, headaches and I was finding my upper abdominal area feeling so bloated after eating that I felt 5 months pregnant almost all the time.  I’d wake up in the morning fine and every night I’d look 30 lbs heavier.  I was at a loss on what to do.

I did the detox for 30 days, I felt great.  But by not staying diligent I slowly let myself cheat a bit, I never let wheat back in my body but I gave into a popcorn and corn chips and potatoes and didn’t consistantly watch my carb count. About 6 weeks ago I dove back in 100%. I was determined this time to not focus on quick results but instead just trust and know that consistancy will get me results. So when I was able to compare a photo from a couple weeks ago to the one in Feb my jaw dropped. I hadn’t realized what a difference there was. I’ve lost 14 lbs and my jeans are started to get baggy but nothing super crazy like the success stories I was reading about where people are losing 15 lbs in 3 weeks (mostly inflammation), just slow and steady.

This is so encouraging to me moving forward! I still have a long way I’m working towards getting but I’m not in a panic about it, just eating when I’m hungry and most importantly I don’t feel pregnant all the time now, my skin tags stopped and I haven’t even noticed them lately, my snoring has greatly improved and I’m actually starting to look myself again once the inflammation in my face is going down.  It is empowering feeling to find something that is working for me and my body!

I think it’s been harder for me than most will have on it because I don’t eat meat.  So I’m limited to fish and a few other protein sources.  I do have a Grain Free board on pinterest where I save recipies to try and ones I love. You can find it here.  Some terms to search to find recipes: keto, ketogenic, grain free.  I also recommend reading the Wheat Belly book or the 10 day WB detox book. They have been sources I’ve read and then gone back to over and over for clarifications. There are support groups online and a blog on the WB website.  It’s pretty simple once you get a routine and find some meals that work for you.

I strongly encourage you to look into it if you are feeling like your stomach is bulging (yet hard), your joints ache or even if you have an auto-immune disease.  I am no expert but I have read countless stories from people who have gotten off medications, reversed diabetes, lowering blood pressure and more from this way of eating.

For me it’s just been about reclaiming feeling good and eliminating inflammation.  It’s a long journey, I’m not suddenly a size 8 but I am feeling good and as you can tell from this photo, my face is looking so much healthier.   Hallelujah!!!

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I’m posting here to share my joy but also to offer encouragement if anything I was feeling before matches what you may be feeling or going through.  Wishing you all the best,

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How to create an inspired outdoor space that’ll make you swoon

I have decided that I really want to spend more time outdoors this year.  Relaxing, inspired, bug free time.  So I put it on our budget for this spring to find a gazebo tent with screened sides.

As we searched every online site we could, we ended up finding one that was clearanced out for 1/2 off and ended up being just under $250.  SCORE!   Step one was complete, now for how to find inspiration.

  • I started by finding a shower curtain that I could hang on the back wall.  This helped set the mood and color scheme for the decor.  I chose a fabric shower curtain for two reasons; a) they are more durable than many fabrics and have been sewn around the edges and hemmed.   b) they already have holes cut at the top for a rod (or in our case zip ties).
  • Next I found a chandelier at a garage sale.  I found this one for $5.  It works, it was just a less trendy color of brass.   I gathered up other items that I wanted in the tent.  A basket for reading magazines, some twinkle lights, etc.

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  • I found indoor/outdoor spray paint and painted the basket and chandelier in this great deep teal color.  (the pictures make them look different but the color of the basket below is more accurate)

 

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  • We’ve had a coffee table that I made in high school laying around in our garage for years, so we took that out and decided to add repurposed fending boards to the top.  I cut them all down so they overlapped the top by about 3/4″ on each side.  I then faux distressed a few boards with some white paint and painted the legs of the table white.

 

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  • Now that we had all the pieces, we started assembling it all.  My hubby and I strung up the chandelier from the top, center.  Then took these great white lightes and strung them around the inside of the top. We made it so both cords met up on the same back corner and we zip tied an extension cord in the corner.
  • The original back curtain I had bought wasn’t going to be wide enough, so I found 2 more brown ones on clearance and put those on the sides of the middle one.  I love when things work out perfectly; I was looking for something to hang the curtains from in the garage and I found a 1″ piece of pvc piping that was exactly the right length. AMAZING.   So I got a bunch of zip ties and I zip tied every other hole to the pole.  Then we zip tied the bar to the top of the tent at different points.
  • On the table I added one of my hand painted wine bottle torches.  This one happens to be one that was used at our wedding reception luau so it holds extra sentimental meaning for us.
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Here is our finished results:

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A few other side notes – we plan on keeping this gazebo tent together in this part of the yard for years, so we anchor bolted the legs to concrete blocks on each corner.  If you have tent sides you could also place those behind the fabric background to add protection from the weather.  This tent was going to go in a space right next to our future bunkhouse but instead we decided to put on a different side of our yard that is at the top of a hill so it’s pretty windy.  So my hubby put a couple sheets of plywood behind the curtain and anchored them to 2 metal yard stakes.  This helps prevent the curtain from blowing around.  (similar to if we would have backed it up to a fence or building).

We have this one about 20 feet from our fire pit so it’s incredibly relaxing out there.  If possible I highly recommend putting in a part of your yard where you can relax, the original spot we almost put it left us looking at all the projects we still had to work on so we realized it would be as relaxing there.

One more project checked off our list here at the Little house on the hill.  We have almost been here 1 year now, it’s hard to believe.  We are loving every minute.

Wishing you an inspired day!

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Israel here I come!

I am thrilled to share with you my exciting news!

First, in order to catch you up fully let me rewind: Four years ago today, my beautiful mother passed away unexpectedly. The years since then have been filled by every emotion possible. In addition to being an LPN at a nursing home for many years by mom later devoted years to raising all of us kids. This brought us all a closeness, a protectiveness and a loving admiration for her that we will cherish forever. One thing that I have taken from that experience is a hunger for finding a way for me to connect and help other women see their inner light.

This leads me to today. I have an amazing opportunity to be a part of a project that is bigger than anything I could ever dream to accomplish on my own. In May, 2014 I will join 333 women from the Western world (US, Canada, etc) and we will go to Bethlehem, Israel for a week. While there we will join with 333 Israeli women and 333 Palestinian women for a 3 day retreat. During this trip we will follow in the footsteps of a smaller scale retreat that successfully took place in the fall of 2012, where a total of 33+ women from these 3 areas had breakthroughs, hugs, love and connection. To learn more about what we will do while there I have created a page devoted to this project here on my website.
To help accomplish this, I will embark on a tremendous fund raising effort over the next year. The final cost for me to do this will be over $9000. I know that I’m being called to be a part of this and I know that it completely aligns with my souls desire to help women both locally and around the world. I will come back from this experience with even greater skills and a heart to be able to do more work here locally as well. I ask that if you believe in me and this trip’s purpose resonates with you that you help make this possible for me by making a donation or purchase below. I have 4 options set up:

  1. A tax deductible donation. Braveheart Women is a 501c3 non-profit organization and your donation is fully tax deductable. To do this please make a check out to BraveHeart Foundation and mail it to me at: Noelle Rollins Art 543 Coon Rapids Blvd, Coon Rapids, MN 55433. (Any amount over $100 and I will add your name as a sponsor to a page on my website where I will have information. Any amount over $50 and I will add your name as a contributor)
  2. Host an art class at my studio. You will gather 6-15 of your friends, family or co-workers for a fun, relaxed evening out. All profits will go directly to this trip. This can be a kids party, ladies night out, moms group, painting party, etc. Cost is $40 per person. (This will not be tax deductible but your money will go towards the cause.
  3. Buy a gorgeous bracelet from me. These bracelets are beautiful and my hope is that each time you look at it you will feel the difference you’ve made. Each bracelet is $33 and comes in an organza bag and has a tag that tells about the project. These make a great gift also. I will have limited designs of each one shown, if the one you order is sold out I will let you know so we can find one that is close to the one you’ve chosen. Bracelets will begin shipping in April.
  4. If you own (or work at) a store, salon, boutique etc where women frequent and you would like to help sponsor this project let me know. I will be connecting with 11 businesses to sell bracelets; I will provide a basket to place near your register to sell 33 bracelets and will provide all information about the project to display. I will then be checking in with you bi-weekly. In exchange for this generous help, once those bracelets are sold out your name will be added to the Harmony Project website and I will add your store name to my own website and any future press releases about the project.

Lastly, I have one favor to ask each of you whether you are able to contribute through a donation or not.  I ask you to pray for this project, my part in it and the group of beautiful women and their families and friends that will be positively affected; surrounding it with uplifting and positive energy.

Thank you! Noelle

a grateful next step… clarity

I have had such a sense of frustration the last month or two.  I knew I was growing and in a time of transition so I tried to use that uneasy, feeling and keep it in the background and trust the answers would come.  I shed a few tears, had a few moments of total panic wondering if I’m crazy to think that I can make a living as an artist and in my own way, journaled, found new information to help guide me, prayed, learned, slept …. but then….

This morning I woke up with such clarity.  Finally!!   I’ve been feeling unsure if I want to continue teaching my art classes in the way that I have been, I love doing them but something wasn’t sitting right.  I finally know what it is.  The reason I do the classes is to help women, I love to see a spark occur in women that normally give all their energy to everyone else around them but finally take a few minutes for themselves.  I realized this does not belong in the business part of my life.  It belongs more in my heart area of giving back, helping my comminity and global sisterhood.  I have so many great ideas how I can move forward in teaching through retreats, and collaborating with others but for my own classes in my own studio I have some great things I’m working on that give me goosebumps.  I see a clearer plan for my artwork, prints, licensing, wholesale. A larger global presense and a stronger sense of my place in it all.   Sweet hallelujah.

More to come as this clear path ahead of me continues to unfold and come into focus.

Here is one of my newer paintings in my Souful Yoga Line.  For now it’s simply titled, “Being”.

Soulful Yoga BEING artwork

On the 9th Day of Christmas (Free Giveaway)

Hello and welcome to day 9. I am having so much getting to gift so many prints and goodies to everyone. It’s been such a busy few months and this has been something that has been just for me and the pure joy of giving things away. I’m loving it. Thank you to each of you who have been participating!

On the 9th Day of Christmas….
Soulful Yoga Art Print Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am giving away this set of 4 Soulful Yoga Postcard Prints Plus a secret extra Soulful Yoga Bonus!! You can find out more about this series right here on my blog or you can click the picture and view more on my Etsy site.

If you haven’t seen it before you’ll love this video I made all about why I felt called to create this series: http://vimeo.com/44127937

To enter simply leave a comment on this blog post. 1 person will be chosen at random to win. Winner will be chosen on Wed from all those who have entered on 12/11/12 by midnight. Good Luck!!

First Week of Art Classes!!!

So I’ve completed my first group of art classes this past weekend. I finished that 3rd class and afterwards as I was cleaning up I was overtaken with appreciation and gratitude.  I feel so incredibly blessed that my hard work all these years and putting myself out there and trusting my intuition that kept shouting at me to offer classes, open a studio, etc.. was right.  I felt 1000% sure that I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in my life right now.

During these classes I got to share a few hours with amazingly beautiful women. Got to hear about their lives, their humor and share some deep life conversations. All while doing art.  Life is good.

Here are some pics:

Wine Glass Painting Ladies Night Out

Connection Class

 

Finished examples

Crossroads 1st Class!!

Have a great weekend!!  **N