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F I E S T A like there's NO MANAÑA
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated.
— Osho

I love celebrating. Celebrating people. Events. Ideas. Progress. Being alive. Tacos.

To me, life is meant to be celebrated.

And as you can see from my examples, I’m an equal opportunity celebrator. Life itself is a celebratable moment. Celebrate the small and big wins

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Celebrate getting out of bed in the morning. Celebrate choosing water over soda. Celebrate your decision to choose love over judgment (toward yourself/others). Celebrate overcoming fear. Celebrate your promotion, your new commitment to a life of health + purpose. Celebrate a perfect record of overcoming everything life has thrown at you. Celebrate being ALIVE.

I truly feel this is one of the keys to a truly happy life.


The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
— Oprah Winfrey

And I believe people are meant to be celebrated. That’s why I love birthdays so much. Birthdays are an opportunity to celebrate that person’s existence, and their latest trip around the sun.

Celebrating is a way to show our gratitude for what we have. A way to express our appreciation for our blessings in life. A way to say thank you to yourself, to others, to the universe/higher power. And gratitude is ESSENTIAL in life.

Sure, it’s important to exercise discipline, and work hard. As with everything else in life, it’s about balance. But to achieve true balance, we should regularly acknowledge our wins. Not be so consumed by our ambitions that we fail to recognize our accomplishments, and what has gone well in our lives. It’s easy to be consumed by the daily minutiae, or our major objectives. Celebrate the steps you’ve taken, the hills you’ve climbed, the obstacles you’ve overcome on your way to that peak. Don’t wait until you’ve summited to high five yourself/others.

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Small celebrations sustain us along the way. Because guess what’s happening along the way? Life. Life is happening as we’re working toward our goal(s). And life is meant to be celebrated.

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Celebrations can take many forms. They don’t have to come in the form of huge bash with confetti (though those are fun too!). Here are some others ways you can celebrate:

  • Send your friend a thoughtful, appreciative note/text

  • Take a luxurious bubble bath

  • Eat your favorite meal

  • Treat yourself to a massage

  • Buy someone a thoughtful gift

  • Allow yourself extra alone time

  • Booking a photo shoot to show your progress

The options are endless!

Celebrate others. Celebrate life. Celebrate YOU.

xx,

-w-

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Eating vs. Getting Bread
Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Color edited by me

Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Color edited by me


Success is not counted by how high you have climbed, but by how many people you have brought with you.
— Dr. Will Rose

You know how drive + hustle are glorified? We’re told to strive for more: more money, more recognition, more ______.

I personally take issue with that. Why?

Because we are all different, with different dreams, different definitions of success, different ideas of happiness.


Success. There is no one definition. Everyone’s success is different. You can’t compare your success to someone else’s.

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For some, happiness means a simple, stable, routine life: working, hanging with family/friends, etc. Who are we to say that’s unacceptable? Who are we to define happiness for others?

Sure, it’s important to ensure you’re not merely seduced into complacency by your fear/comfort zone. And I don’t think a non-hustling life releases anyone from striving to be the best person they can be - that’s a human responsibility, independent of lifestyle choice.

But let’s live and let live! Happiness is different for everybody. Values vary.


It is not success if you’re unhappy.

What a CEO considers a successful life may not match a schoolteacher’s idea of such. To some, success means total financial independence with a sizable savings account. To others, success may mean freedom to travel the world and try new endeavors. To still others, success may be leaving a profound legacy of improvement and change.

Cool, man! It takes all kinds to make (and balance!) a world. It would be too chaotic if we were all overachievers. Dare to live your truth, “motivational” quotes be damned. We all have roles to play, and contributions to make. We all have value to add.

So decide for YOU and ask yourself: What is my definition of success? What does happiness look like for me? By what standards will I measure myself?

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And don’t forget this important part: Be okay with and detached from others’ standards they may try to apply to you. Stand solid if they attempt to recruit you to their way of life. Smile if they try to nudge you in a certain direction. Realize we’re all on our own journey, trying to figure life out and orient ourselves in the world. Not everybody will accept you and get you, and THAT’S OK. It really is. It’s wildly liberating once you realize that.

People should determine their personal definition nof success and release others’ definitions of success.

Know you. Do you. Love you.

-w-

Try not to be a person of success, but a person of value.
— Albert Einstein















E M B R A C E the B L I S S
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

When you focus on the good, the good gets better.

In moments of bliss and triumph, do you ever feel stoked…then feel uneasy and wonder when the other shoe will drop?

Do you ever look at someone you love (your kids, your partner) and think how much you love + adore them - and then immediately think of how crushed you would be if anything ever happened to them (at which point millions of awful scenarios play out in your mind)?

Why do we insist on conjuring up potential tragedy in moments of deep joy?

Because joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel, even more so than fear and shame.

As Brené Brown advises in her new book, Dare to Lead, when we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability. It’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and permanence all wrapped up in one experience.

When unable to tolerate that level of vulnerability, our joy actually morphs into foreboding, and we immediately shift to self protection. We go on offense. It’s as if we face off to vulnerability and declare, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.”

However…

The collateral damage of this instinct is we waste the joy we need to build up any emotional reserve, the joy that allows us to accumulate resilience for if/when tragic things do happen. Boom: Another powerful reason to live in the moment.

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Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
— Mother Teresa

In moments like these I tell myself, “Right now, life kicks ass and I’m going to be happy and ride this wave as long as possible.” Not to say you must be sad and miserable during life’s other moments; but during those highs, lose yourself in the happiness, lean into the joy, embrace the bliss.

What allows you to do this, while still fortifying you against what may come? Simply gratitude. Just be GRATEFUL. I tell myself, “No matter how long this lasts, it’s happening right now, and for that I’m thankful.” I commit to being grateful for however long it lasts, and just grateful it’s even happening at all. (The bonus is this actually attracts more things for which to be grateful!)

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.

It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment/love/joy/etc - really feeling it and absorbing it - but conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity. It’s allowing yourself to recognize the sliver of vulnerability - that “Oh shit I have something worth losing now” feeling - and to just sit with it, and be grateful you have something you want, in your hand, that feels good to hold and recognize. We must stop every so often to celebrate ourselves and others, and our opportunities and wins, no matter how small. Things may go sideways later, but don’t let that rob you of the joy right now.

You don’t know what’s around the corner, so why sacrifice the present’s awesomeness for something that may not even friggin’ happen?

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I’m a big believer in positive thinking. And get this: Thoughts really DO have energy. This is not a mystical, hippie concept. It is quantum physics grounded in research and experiments of modern scientific tools. It is also backed by scientists like ya boys Einstein and Edison. Yeah, the heavy hitters. There is so much more to say on this (fascinating!) topic, but suffice it to say: Your thoughts have energy and it is scientifically proven. When you think negative thoughts, it attracts more negativity. When you think positive thoughts, it attracts more positivity.

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.
— Steve Maraboli

In this vein, there are a couple of points I want to make:

  • This doesn’t mean you must force yourself to (try to) stay positive and high vibing every second of every day.

    • That’s just not feasible. Not realistic. As with everything in life, it’s about balance. Those “off” moments and low vibes serve just as valuable of a purpose. Not only do they amplify by the awesome moments/feelings/etc by providing contrast (think bright twinkling stars in an inky black sky), they also reveal our unhealed parts, aka opportunities for growth and evolution. It’s impossible and unintended for us to be jazzed 100% of the time, so remove that pressure from yourself right meow! Again, this doesn’t mean you reYOu sign yourself to misery and blahness during those “lower” moments. No, it’s about getting to a place where you embrace and are grateful for ALL life offers - the wins and the moments to learn and level up. It’s about loving yourself and others through it all

      • And what about those times when no matter how hard you try, you just feel dark? Stuck in those low vibes? Then just remember to bring it back to the breath, baby. Let that be your full focus. Breathe in, breathe out. (It helps to imagine inhaling love and positivity, and exhaling fear and negativity) If you doubt its power and think it’s something you can easily pass on - I dare you to try it just once. Yep, you’re welcome. (And no, this doesn’t make you a hippie - it just makes you a smart and effective BAMF.)

  • Don’t confuse faith you will prevail in the end - which you can’t afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, regardless of what they are.

    • This was a lesson shared by former Vietnam prisoner of war Admiral Jim Stockdale in Jim Collins’s classic book Good to Great (great read). Stockdale spent eight years as a POW and was tortured more than 20x. Not only did he fight to keep himself alive, he also helped other prisoners endure the physical and emotional torment.

So celebrate, and celebrate often - even if you’re just celebrating being alive. Embrace the bliss and love it for what it is.

xx,

-w-

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W E I R D O
Model: Lily Cuoio  Images by Whitney Ann Photography

Model: Lily Cuoio

Images by Whitney Ann Photography

We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird.And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it LOVE.
— Dr. Seuss

Normalcy is an illusion.

We’re all different from one another. We’re all one of a kind. Who’s to say what is acceptable? Did we elect a Normalcy Nazi who decides what is and is not allowable? One who sets the standards to which we must conform to be considered normal? (If so, I’m staging a coup d’etat - WHO’S WITH ME?!)

See what I’m getting at? It’s all subjective y’all!

It’s weird not to be weird.
— John Lennon

You do you! If you still do care about what others think, that’s okay - no judgment here. But I highly advise you to join the “Don’t Care Club” because it is a truly liberating way to live.

Try to slowly wean yourself off of contemplating how others will perceive you. It’s a muscle - exercise it. Just like with regular muscles like quads or biceps, some people are born with stronger “so what” muscles than others. Does that mean you’re doomed to a fate of weakness in that particular area? Hell to the no. Just do exercises to strengthen it. BOOM.

For example, if there’s an outfit you REALLLLY want to wear but feel people would consider you under/over dressed - you wear that outfit! I do it all the dang time. I’m almost always over-dressed for events. Is it because I’m unclear on the proposed dress code, or unsure of what others will be wearing? N O P E. It’s because I choose to honor my style. And when you live in a smaller city like mine, you must create your own opportunities and grab any chance to wear those bougy heels you just got. Will you get looks? Most likely. But try to learn to be okay with that discomfort. I’ve been fortunate in that I was born with a pretty strong “screw it” muscle, but it still gets tested time to time. There is an ENTIRE WORLD on the other side of your fear of judgment. A pretty rad world, I gotta admit.

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If you’re a parent, hopefully you’ll extend this freedom to your kids as well. I’m not a parent myself but can appreciate how tough it is, so these next words are by no means parent shaming or judging. I was talking with a friend once who didn’t want their kid to do a certain (common!) extracurricular activity for fear others would perceive the kid as a weirdo or a nerd.

I urge you to ask yourself what message this sends your kid? That they must repress/deny their interests/talents in favor of others’ opinions? For fear of earning a certain label? What if that activity lights your kid up like nothing else and brings them pure bliss - would you still deny them the opportunity? Or what if the kid has world class talent in that area, and you’re blocking that opportunity for a bright future purely out of fear of a short-lived junior high/high school status? This also sends a message of conditional acceptance, and discourages authenticity.

What a beautiful world we live in BECAUSE of variety. Think of most of the musical/literary geniuses out there. Many of them admit to being ostracized in school for being different - yet look where that weirdness got them!

What makes you different or weird - that’s your strength.
— Meryl Streep

Plus, out-of-the-box thinking is what generates societal and technological advances! Creative thinking is usually what yields ingenious solutions to problems.

And what about nature? Think of all of the different flora and fauna on earth. How boring it would be if we only had brown cats and red tulips (adios carne asada, peace out pepperoni pizza, ciao calla lillies).

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One of my best amigas handled a related situation with her daughter brilliantly. Her daughter wanted to wear her shoes on the “wrong” feet: her left shoe on her right foot, and vice versa. Rather than immediately shutting her down, my friend gently responded with a compromise that honored her little girl’s uniqueness, but also accommodated the typical way. She replied by acknowledging her daughter’s individuality and creativity, and offered, “The typical way of wearing shoes is with your left shoot on the left foot, and right shoot on the right foot. How about when you go to school, you wear them that way, and when you’re not at school, you can wear them how you would like?” Well played.

One of my major life approaches is to live and let live. As long as your weirdness doesn’t cause hurt or destruction, what’s the harm?

Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you hide.
— C.S. Lewis

Know this: You can count on others having an opinion, no matter WHAT you do. But are you ready to reclaim your power and your life? Stop letting others control your life for you, via their judgments?

It’s not really my problem if they think I’m weird.
— Sid Vicious

Have the courage to live your truth!!

Love you, you weirdos.

xx,

-w-

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L O V E yaself
Images shot by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images shot by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Edited by Brooke Richardson Photography

The only cure I have ever known for fear and doubt and loneliness is an immense love of self.
— Alison Malee

I think I’m awesome.

Please don’t be put off by that. I want Y O U to feel the same about yourself.

And you can!

Do I think I’m awesome 100% of the time? Don’t get it twisted: I have my moments of discouragement/frustration/etc, but overall - I always LOVE myself, which is especially important during those moments of discouragement and frustration. I think I’m a rad chick.

You owe yourself the love you so freely give to other people.
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I had to work hard to get to that point. That unconditional self love.

BUT YOU CAN TOO!

You too can create an abiding self love, independent of your moods/feelings/triggers/experiences/environments.

It requires practice and awareness. It requires facing your shadows. Feeling - not repressing - your emotions. Reserving judgment and extending grace. Being honest and not feeding yourself stories just to make yourself feel better (this only feeds the ego and creates a faux, insecure self love). It also requires a touch of tough love, and calling yourself out when necessary, to live into your potential/cease the false narrative/incorporate the discipline.

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Comparison is an act of violence against the self.

It’s not easy at first, but once you get a taste of true self love - YOU SEE IT’S WORTH IT. You realize how powerful, necessary, liberating, and impactful it is.

Self love is imperative. Not like, “Gee, it’d be ideal if you loved yourself, but it’s whatevs.”

Nah. IT’S NOT WHATEVS.

It’s absolutely c r u c i a l not only to your ultimate wellbeing and happiness, but also to the wellbeing and happiness of your inner circle, of your outer circle, and of the whole entire world.

I know, I know, you’re likely thinking, “Okay, dramatic much?”

But it’s true. If you want to change the world, start with yourself. The ripple effect starts with you. Happy people radiate and perpetuate bliss and good vibes. It’s all about energy, man. It’s the currency of the universe. Your energy introduces you before you even speak. Once you get right with yourself and start riding those high vibes, you’ll be amazed how it affects the space/people around you (I discuss this in my latest episode with Izzy Ramirez). That’s not just Hippie Whitney talking. That’s science. Physics. Your thoughts/actions carry energy, and people/life around you responds according to the frequency you emit.

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Be the type of energy that no matter where you go, you always add value to the spaces and lives around you.

Don’t believe me? Think about a time you were feeling great/okay, and encountered someone in a less-than-stellar mood. Even if you manage to stay on that high vibe, you’re still affected to an extent by the negativity. And don’t even get me started with consistently toxic people.

Self love makes you happy. Happiness gives you energy, drive, stamina, compassion. (Plus, as Elle Woods rightfully noted, it fights crime and preserves marriages because “happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”)

Shoutout to all the people out there trying to love themselves in a world that’s constantly telling them not to.

And ESPECIALLY if you have kids in your life, modeling self love yourself is key in developing their own. Particularly regarding body image. Society already demands they contort themselves to meet impossible and elusive ideals. Set your kids up for success and mitigate societal damage by expressing self love, especially during those impressionable younger years.

Daring to love yourself is an act of rebellion in this world. LET’S REBEL TOGETHER.

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How sad is it that society has taught us to view people’s expression of self love as arrogance. Self absorption. Narcissism. When we see someone celebrate their win, or acknowledge their skill, or comment, “Hey, I look smokin’!” we tend to dismiss them is “sooo into themselves.”

SAD.

That should be our baseline. We should allow ourselves and others the space to embrace our awesomeness. Our beauty and smarts. Our talent and skill. Sure, we don’t want to get obnoxious about it and go on and on about how ahhhmaaaze we are.

There’s a distinction between self love and insecurity. When you’re solid in yourself and truly love yourself, you’re secure - and have the mental and emotional bandwidth to love and care about others. When you’re insecure, you tend to overcompensate. You feel compelled to seek validation externally. When you love yourself, you internally validate yourself.

So DECIDE RIGHT NOW to win yourself over. Commit to falling in love with yourself and watch your life absolutely TRANSFORM.

xx,

-w-

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