A glimpse back through 2017

This year has been one full of travel, adventure and finally finding a place to call home. It was a special experience to go back through the year with all these photos. I felt like I was able to live a piece of them all over again. These aren't even a quarter of the photos we took this year, but here are a few of my favorites.

Here is a list of most of the places (some of them I can't remember) where these photos were taken.

Boulder | Denver | Grand Junction | Evergreen | Fort Collins | Garden of the Gods - Colorado
Joshua Tree | Los Angeles | Santa Barbara | Laguna Beach | Carpinteria | Ojai | Big Bear | Victorville | Marina Del Rey | Palm Springs | Salton Sea - California
Harrison | Farewell | Clare | Grand Rapids | Berrien Springs - Michigan
Waynesville | Asheville | Burnsville | Outer Banks - North Carolina
Little Rock | The Ozarks - Arkansas
Nashville | Memphis - Tennessee
Cedar City | Green River - Utah
Albuquerque - New Mexico
Louiseville - Kentucky
Flagstaff - Arizona
Omaha, Nebraska
Atlanta - Georgia

The good inside

Most of us have a false sense of identity. We are so much more than we believe ourselves to be. Our limited belief in who we really are is rooted deeply in such a strong habit that we aren't even aware that we've been living with an impoverished identity most of our lives. 

We've let the world shape us. We've allowed what happened to us in our childhood form our story. Society has influenced how we define who we are. But we can change that. We don't have to live from a place of fear, uncertainty, hate or shame. We don't have to act from our damaged sense of self. We can let go of labels, of who people in our lives said we are. We can be free of our own beliefs about ourselves. We can shed it all like old skin and step into our glowing identity, whole and free.

We have the ability to change our story at any time. We don't have to do something just because that's what we've always done, because that's what it expected of us. We don't have to believe something about ourselves just because it's all we've ever been told. 

Think about all the things you believe about yourself. Are they serving your life? Why do you think those things? Where did they come from? Think about who, what or where your greatest influence comes from. Is it adding to your life in a way that fulfills and propels you? Think about the things you want to believe about yourself. It's time to start believing those very things.

We can change our thought patterns. Don't let the world, your circumstances or even the people you love tell you who you are. Acknowledge your grace, your virtue. Honor your nobility, your worthiness and your dignity. A profound and radical change will happen in your life. Let it.

JessyEaston_Paris

I am striving every day to live from my highest sense of identity, my full character. It's tough to form new habits, to redirect my thoughts, but I'm always moving forward. What you practice grows stronger. Even if it feels overwhelming or like you're just standing still, don't give up. It will get easier.

I'm always here if you need to talk. We need to stay connected and bring out the best in one another. Each time we honor the good in someone and show them that they're respected and valued it opens up an avenue to their own goodness. It gives them the chance to accept and admire the good inside and work from that place of kindness, that place of goodness. Everyone deserves that chance. We all deserve to be valued.

Genoa, Italy

After living out of our backpacks for a month in France we took the train from Nice to Genoa. It was a busy, beautiful port city in Italy's Liguria region. With the streets narrow and the cathedral's grand, Genoa was like being in an old Italian film. I loved the lines and structure of the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo with its striped walls, but most of all I couldn't get enough of the fountains. They were almost more grand than the architecture. I wish I could live the whole trip again in slow motion. 

Stop robbing yourself of living

The present moment is blooming before you. 

Are you there?

Is your mind occupied with yesterday’s worries? Are you planning every detail of your next hour, your next day, month or even year?

Stop.

Fleeing. Rushing. Planning. 

Just stop.

You’re stealing the joy right out from under your existence. 

Yes, you exist. Right now. Can you feel it?

You’re alive. And you’re missing it.

Breathe. 

Are you aware?

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Be present in your senses. 

What do you see? Look. What’s around you? Things you’ve collected. The desk you picked out. Your stack of books by the bed. The road that leads to your favorite cafe. Someone you love. Look up. What’s above you? Blue sky. Storm clouds. Canopy of trees. A white ceiling. A warm glow from your reading light. Look. What color(s) do you see? Soak them in. Every tone, every shade, consume them.

What do you hear? Listen. The chatter of conversation. The birds singing. The hum of the fan. Your favorite song. Your stomach growling. Silence. Can you hear it? 

What do you smell? Breathe in. Freshly washed sheets. Coffee. Your vanilla scented candle. Rain. Hold it in. Let the scent take you further into the moment.

What do you taste? Swallow. Your last sip of coffee. Morning. Lemon. Chamomile tea. Toothpaste. Run your tongue over your teeth. What now?

What do you feel? Right now. Warmth. The ache in your back. The rise and fall of your shoulders with each breath. Sunlight. The soft embrace of your favorite sweater.

Notice all of it. 

Exist. This is your life. 

Live it now. Not for yesterday, not for tomorrow. 

Now.

What are your truths?

I’m turning 31 this month. I had almost forgotten it was June. The months are flying, the seasons changing faster than ever before. 

The year of 30 brought me so many gifts, a lifetime of gifts really. It has been a year of letting go of the old to make room for the new. A year of new chapters, new dreams, new accomplishments.

During this year I've practiced letting go of the things that didn’t truly matter to me, letting go of what didn’t fit me anymore to create space for the things, for the experiences that do. 

I let go of the physical, of the focus on physical appearance. I made a promise to not weigh myself for my year of 30. I honored my strength, my ability to use my body to live, to experience life. I allowed myself the freedom to exist in my body without judgement. I used to start my morning by stepping on the scale and letting the numbers dictate how I’d feel the rest of the day. This wasn't a way to live and I knew it. So, I stopped. I gave myself a gift. I stopped stepping on the scale. I stopped defining myself by how I look or even worse, how I felt I looked. 

And now, I feel free. I feel more content and open than I ever have. I now feel stronger and have gained clarity on my worth and my value. I can say I value myself. I value my place in the world. 

I won't say that I feel beautiful because I don't. But the importance I place on beauty has shifted. How I understand beauty has changed. Beauty is character. With that newly found value I can now recognize my truths.

I am kind. I am determined. I listen. I am empathetic. I am worthy. I am giving. I am honest. What are your truths? Hint: It is not the number on the scale, how much money you make, how many countries you've traveled to, or how many things you own.

Take a moment to think about your character, your inner most truths. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them. Lean into them. Let your truths, let your value kindle that deep fire within you. 

It feels good doesn't it?

During my year of 30 I've also let go of perfectionism. Committing to imperfect action has helped me let go of my critical nature. Doubts are fading away.  

I am now 55,000 words into the book I'm writing and I recently found home in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Two of the biggest things that happened during my year of 30 happened because I let go. 

I stopped waiting to be the perfect writer to start my book. I stopped waiting to fully understand my story in order to write it. I stopped wanting the perfect writing space and uninterrupted time, and I stopped waiting for confidence. I put the doubt away, the fear and the overwhelm. I began writing my book sitting on my grandma's unmade bed in the town I grew up in, a town I hate with all of my being. I began writing my book with distractions and responsibility tugging at me ruthlessly. Little by little I had words on the page, stories that needed to be told, reflections spilling from one page to the next. 

Doubt, distraction, self-loathing, they still try to knock me down. They do their worst to try to paralyze me. I'm not saying the fighting stops, but it does it get easier. The load gets lighter.

So, what are you holding yourself back from doing because you don't think you're ready? Let go. You're ready. Or maybe you don't think you can achieve it? You can. You will. What are you waiting to do until everything is perfect? Stop waiting. Things will never be perfect. The time will never be right. The responsibilities will always pile up. The uncertainty will always find a way to creep in. Do it anyway. Do it because you love it, because it’s in you. Follow your truth.

I promise you, you won't fail. You know why? Because you did it. That in itself is triumph. Most people will never even try. They won’t reach their full potential because they won’t let go. Don’t get to the end of your life with tired arms and a heavy heart because you couldn’t stop holding on. Move forward in spite of perfectionism, in spite of doubt or fear. Move forward, one truth at a time, move forward.

Oh, and what about my house in the mountains? After years of searching I finally found home. I’m sitting on the porch listening to the birds while writing to you, but that’s a story for another day.