living intuitively


Posts tagged universe
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

fiesta image 1.jpg

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.

fiesta image 4.jpg

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.

fiesta image 6.jpg

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.



fiesta image 7.jpg
fiesta image 10.jpg
fiesta image 8.jpg

Model: Byron Hunt; Photography by me

Model: Byron Hunt; Photography by me

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief or nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
— Jiddu Krishnamurti

Would you agree with me that we typically feel compelled to label: people, items, emotions, experiences, ideas…pretty much everything!

Sure, there’s value in labeling. That’s how we’re able to know what the hell we’re referencing. Otherwise, our convos would take twice as long trying to describe what we’re referring to, and it’d all be one continuous scene of The Little Mermaid (“Whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got 20!”). Obnoxious and frustrating to the max.

Labels are part of our culture - in every sense of the word (personal, professional, legislative, judicial, pop culture, music, etc). They contribute to the infrastructure upon which society is built, upon which laws are passed, upon which food is sorted and Netflix is categorized. When I’m browsing for new jams, I don’t want to have to scroll through a shi* ton of random opera ballads to get to my preferred music.

Labels make our lives easier and more efficient. They allow our brains and bodies to navigate through life more effectively amid the onslaught of information we’re blasted with every second of every day. They help us make sense of the world, with all of its complexities.

They also can bestow us with a common purpose. It can offer a sense of belonging/pride/commonality/community, particularly in the case of nationality/cultural identity/etc. It can provide a cause/entity to cheer for, a common point to rally around. They give us traditions, and opportunities to connect with other similar people.


These benefits (efficiency, simplicity, community, pride, etc), can come at a price.

It can become problematic/limiting/divisive/misleading/self-defeating when we apply this labeling compulsion with no consciousness, awareness, flexibility, or fluidity. When we tattoo those labels, so to speak, making them costly, painful, and time-intensive to remove (I really took that tattoo metaphor and ran with it, didn’t I?). Labels can also mask our universal commonalities and pit us against the “outsiders.”

labels image 2.jpg

Society values clarity and decisiveness. We’re prompted to label people as good or bad, right or wrong, successful or non; same goes for ideas, etc.

This dichotomous and limited way of thinking doesn’t account for complexities: within individuals, within groups, within the world in general. People do good things. People do bad things. Life isn’t always black and white.

And I want to live in a world where people’s gender/race/skin color are irrelevant. Just because I may be regarded as a privileged white woman doesn’t mean I’m not allowed an opinion or a say or a hope for a more inclusive world.

Furthermore, it limits our growth and happiness, and clouds our view, when we apply labels to ourselves! Particularly regarding our identities. We’re conditioned to establish our identities on factors such as our skin color, our profession, our IQ level, our prevailing temperament, our body type, our gender, our music taste, our religion, our political affiliation. Lawd help us if we step outside our established identity: a straight male shaking it at Zumba, a Republican voting for a Democrat, a bodybuilder loving the ballet, a grandma digging Metallica.

labels image 4.jpg

It’s easy to feel locked into a label and feel pressured to maintain that image. For example, men in certain cultures (looking at you, ‘Murica) are typically discouraged from expressing emotion - especially in the military. To cry is considered weak and “sissy la la.” What kind of bullshit is that?! Think about it: They are discouraged from expressing HUMAN EMOTION.

I’ve previously discussed the dangers of emotion repression, and the takeaway is: it ain’t good. Those emotions don’t just disappear into the ether - they fester and make their way out eventually and demand to be addressed.

Former Army Special Forces Green Beret Greg Stube acknowledges this in his stellar book, Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team. He was fully indoctrinated in the masculine military, “rub some dirt on it” (he actually uses those words) mentality…until he almost died in Operation Medusa in Afghanistan in 2006. He was finally forced to grapple with what it means to be human, to be complete, and to be truly strong: mentally, physically, and emotionally. Having repressed that facet of being human for so long, he was knocked for a total loop when he was blown to smithereens by an IED (improvised explosive device) and forced to accept a very different reality, one in which he couldn’t just rub some dirt on it and soldier on. Through soul searching, reflection, and personal “come to Jesus” talks, he came out on top - and acknowledged the importance of transcending certain labels to embrace and cultivate what it means to be human, and what it means to be truly strong.

labels image 5.jpg

So what happens when something happens and the label no longer fits?

We get fired. We go bankrupt. We get voted out. We get sick. We flunk a test. We gain/lose weight. We experience an existential criss that triggers re-evaluation of our priorities/affiliations/beliefs.

Like Greg Stube experienced, it can be devastating, if your identity is tethered to that label. Suddenly you start wondering who you really are, if not your label(s). If I’m not a high-powered lawyer/straight-A brainiac/size 0/Christian/president/husband/etc, who am I? What’s my place in the world? What do I have to offer? Am I still worth loving? So many of us feel conditionally loved, whether we realize it or not. We’re led to think (sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally) that we are accepted/loved because of those labels: doctor/Mormon/star athlete/parent/do-it-yourselfer/subject matte expert.

labels image 7.jpg

This also applies to emotions. Let’s say you’re known as the carefree, happy, optimistic one. The one who sprinkles sunshine wherever you go and elevates the mood in any situation. You’ve learned to effectively play this role. But what happens when you have a bad day? Or even a bad year? Are you supposed to deny yourself feeling those “negative” emotions?

When you welcome your emotions as teachers, every emotion brings good news, even the ones that are painful.
— Gary Zukav

What you resist, persists.

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
— Pema Chodron

labels image 6.jpg

Which leads us to emotion labeling. Emotions aren’t positive or negative; emotions are emotions. Emotions are natural and wide-ranging, and most importantly: emotions are messengers. They come and they go, so we should let them move through us, view them with curiosity and no attachment, and discern their message. By denying/ignoring/repressing them, you are stunting your growth, preventing your freedom, and blocking true happiness.

Feel the feeling but don’t become the emotion. Witness it. Allow it. Release it.
— Crystal Andrus

Ultimately, as the opening quote indicates, labels separate: us from each other, us from ourselves (our true essences). While they do serve a purpose, it is crucial for us to be aware of them and fluid in our allegiance to them. As long as we interpret them loosely and keep an open mind, we’ll all be better off.



Once you label me, you negate me.
— Soren Kierkegaard

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

You are being presented with a choice: evolve or remain. If you choose to remain unchanged, you will be presented with the same challenges, the same routine, the same storms, the same situations, until you learn from them, until you love yourself enough to say “no more” until you choose change.
If you choose to evolve, you will connect with the strength within you, you will explore what lies outside the comfort zone, you will awaken to love, you will become, you will be. You have everything you need. Choose to evolve. Choose love.
— Creig Crippen

A friend asked me the other day if I've always been the way I am. (generally speaking). My response was no, I haven't been. Sure, I've always been independent and driven and disciplined. I've always been creative, I've always loved reading, and I've always adored fashion.

But I've definitely evolved. 

evolve image 2.jpg

Though I've always had a fire and open mind, I've learned to soften one and strengthen the other. (You should've met me when I was a walking paradox of a kid: extremely polite and sweet, yet a total and complete spitfire!) I learned to tame the fire (not extinguish - gotta have some!!!) but not be so hard on myself and others. I polished the rough edges, so to speak.

I learned to channel that fire more constructively. I learned to allow myself and others more grace, and realized all you can do is your best. In the words of the legendary Tony Horton, "Do your best and forget the rest." I learned to catch my breath every once in awhile, to celebrate victories and high five myself and others. 

evolve image 4.jpg

A key element to lasting happiness and success is our capacity to evolve. To not only recognize our areas for growth, but to act on them. It's not enough to just acknowledge where you could use some work. You must actually step up and do something about it. It's seductively easy to just cop out by saying, "That's just the way I am." Don't confuse self indulgence with self acceptance. You're doing yourself - and others - a disservice by robbing the world of your potential. Not only that, you're preventing your level-up and all the bliss and amplified success that brings!

To clarify: You should absolutely accept yourself where you are. You must love - not hate - yourself to improvement and happiness. It's much easier and more enduring and effective this way, TRUST ME. 

But please don't just fall back on a mistaken "self acceptance" crutch. "I have a bad temper - that's just the way I am." "I'm a jealous person because of XYZ." "I lash out when I'm stressed." "I'm pessimistic - I've always been that way." First of all, snaps for acknowledging that. Second of all...whatchu gonna do about it??? In the nicest way possible, so what?! Why are you not doing something about it? What's keeping you from working on it? It's not about the hand you're dealt (we all have crappy cards in our stack - some more than others) it's how you play it.

evolve image 5.jpg

As I discussed in an earlier post, we all have shadow sides. All of us have aspects about ourselves we and others may find less than desirable. What sets the truly happy and successful people apart from the unhappy and struggling people is simply the shadow work. Being willing and able to be honest with yourself and not let yourself off the hook. Being gentle and honest with yourself is a fantastic start, but it doesn't stop there. Why not take yourself as far as you can go?!

One of the attributes I like most about myself is my inclination to not only recognize my flaws, but to strive to eliminate/strengthen them. Very rarely do I have bad days or lasting bad moods, and I attribute this to my commitment to my personal evolution. I dig deeply to uncover why I have the struggles I do. I determine cause and effect, and reflect on ways I can mitigate/improve/eliminate these struggles.

evolve image 3.jpg
In every moment ask yourself: ‘What is the lesson being offered to me?’

In the past, I was less than nice to myself during this process. My inner voice could be pretty scathing. What helped me transform it into an enjoyable (no, really!) process was to re-frame it! I simply accepted I'm a perpetual work in progress, so I might as well have fun on the ride. I praise my commitment to be my best self, and express gratitude for opportunities (disguised as frustrations/"failures"/annoyances) which highlight areas needing attention and allow me to become better. It's not always fun - there are discouraging moments, sure - but overall, knowing that I've come a long way excites, reassures, and invigorates me. I get pumped knowing my efforts are helping me become even better, happier, and more successful. They're allowing me to become my best me. 

evolve image 6.jpg
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
— [Possibly] Plato

This doesn't mean I totally condemn the Whitney of the past. I know she was doing her best with what she had. We all have to start somewhere, and we don't all have the same struggles. What's easy for you may challenge me, and vice versa, so don't get all judgy with yourself or others. All that matters is you're moving forward. 

Happy evolving!



evolve image 7.jpg
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

One can speak poetry just by arranging colors well.
— Vincent Van Gogh

Color is so fun to play with when getting dressed. It can have a powerful effect on the vibe you're projecting. This rings true for guys and girls. Think about it - if some dude showed up in a fuchsia suit, what's your first impression? Obviously, the man doesn't take himself too seriously, right? He's likely playful, knows how to have some fun. Color is the easiest avenue for self expression.

I love working with varying shades and hues to achieve a monochromatic look. As you see in the pictures here, I paired a maroon turtleneck with a popping red.

It doesn't all have to be in your clothes. Try pairing a punchy orange lip with a muted peach top, or an emerald clutch with a moss green outfit. 

Monochromatic image 2.jpg

Spring is a perfect time to experiment and brighten it up with new, fresh color combos. 


Monochromatic image 3.jpg


What color combos are YOU going to try out this season??