Oh, hi!

Oh hey! Hi! It’s me! How are you?

I’m good. I’ve opened up a new post here about a bazillion times, only to stare at the empty window and close it again. I just don’t have much to say! But I consider that a good thing!

Winter is just so… everything… for me. Its my busiest time at work, most stressful time with the holidays, but also the most pathetic time for health & fitness. I think its pretty natural for all of us to have a bit of seasonal affective disorder. We’re not supposed to be out and about and functioning throughout the winter. We should be cuddled in a cave, sleeping, keeping each other warm, and reserving our energy! Right?

I have a hard time getting up out of bed in the winter mornings (so dark!). I have a hard time wanting to eat raw fruits & veggies (so cold!), and I have a hard time being super motivated to put on some exercise pants (so, UGH!).

But let me tell you, as soon as our crazy work time at the office is done, and SUN COMES OUT. I feel so motivated! I feel like getting organized and brushing the dust off of everything. I know I’m not alone there!

I started working with an online fitness & nutrition coach. It hasn’t even been a week yet, so I can’t really say one way or the other how it’s going. But just the excitement of starting something new is so intoxicating. Daydreaming about potential progress is something I am very good at, and it keeps me excited and sticking to the plan!

If you want more consistent updates on me, and you don’t already – follow me on Instagram.

But if I have any progress to report, I am sure I’ll do it here, as well!

 

 

Daily Dozen

I recently read Dr. Greger’s book How Not To Die. It was really great. That guy is amazing, he has done so very much for the nutrition world and for FREE. Even all profits for his book are going to charity. He genuinely cares about people, about prolonging their lives, and enhancing their health. It’s pretty inspiring.

Now, I won’t be doing a review of the book or anything, but here’s a good review I found if you’re looking for one.

I did buy 2 additional copies as gifts, if that gives you any indication of how much I liked it!

This is all a set up to talk about a component of Dr. Greger’s vision of the perfect human diet : The Daily Dozen.

The Daily Dozen are 12 food types that you should incorporate into your meals every single day. He even made a very simple free app to help you track them.

Here’s the Daily Dozen :

1. Beans (3 servings)
2. Berries (1 serving)
3. Other Fruit (3 servings)
4. Cruciferous Vegetables (1 serving)
5. Greens (2 servings)
6. Other Vegetable (2 servings)
7. Flaxseeds (1 serving)
8. Nuts/Seeds (1 serving)
9. Spices
10. Whole Grains (3 servings)
11. Beverages (5 servings)
12. Exercise

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My first thought was.. oh, I got this. I eat most of that stuff daily already… I don’t typically eat any nuts or flaxseeds, but his research on those items are indeed compelling, so I’m going to try to work them in.
It probably seems obvious to you… but a surprise to me – it is harder than I thought!
I’ve been tracking and intentionally trying to reach 100% for just over a week now. I’ve maxed out at 89%!
I think it’s going to take some meal planning to achieve 100%. But I’m gonna do it! Dr. Greger eats like this every day of his life. So it must be doable, and eventually – second nature.

The greens and the flaxseeds seem to be the hardest for me to work in. I love greens, but in the winter, I don’t want cold salad… which leaves cooked spinach, kale, or collared greens. I also like those, but not something I want to eat every single day. I think I’d be sick of spinach after day 2 or 3!

I think I need to get back to making a smoothie in the morning! I can put in the greens, flax, fruits, and berries, all in one shot.

I’m going to work on getting that perfect 100% day, and I’ll share with you what that looks like. In the meantime… have a look at that list… compare it with your daily eats.. how does it look?
I used to worry more about what I am NOT eating (meat, dairy, oil…) than what I AM eating… plenty of antioxidants, essential vitamins, and fiber. Time to combine those two and see how it goes! I can’t say its not fun having a goal that asks you to eat MORE, and more variety!

2016

Thanks for looking back at 2015 with me. What a year! It’s time to look ahead now!

I’m not going to be making any resolutions this year. And I am not going to make any weight loss goals. Despite gaining weight over this past year, I feel like not obsessing over a goal, and not weighing in constantly was a win. YES, I still want to, and need to lose weight. But I believe now that there is a way to do it without getting obsessive and subsequently burnt out over it.

I won’t be changing much. I’m going to be sticking a little closer to the Starch Solution model of eating. Which is high-carb, low-fat, low processed foods. Lots of healthy starches like potatoes, corn, grains, legumes, and starchy veggies. Lots of greens, watery veggies, and fruits, as well!
Its the basis of how I eat now… but I let overt fats and processed foods creep back in on me. So, no more cooking with or topping with oil. No fried foods. No processed vegan meats or frozen dinners. Just clean eats… but balanced.  I can have some of that stuff sometimes, just not at home, and not as often.

Going out for dinner is where I struggle. My friends live all over the place, meeting somewhere in the middle to eat is just what we do. So I end up eating out once, sometimes twice a week. Vegan options at (non-ethnic!) restaurants usually means either salad, or french fries! In the cold weather, I don’t have to tell you which of those I’m more likely to choose to eat! Making better choices when going out to eat, therefore, will be a focus for me.

At home, I started cooking mine & Joel’s meals together in the same pot. And he won’t eat anything not cooked in olive oil… so then, so did I! But I don’t want it, I don’t even like it much better! So, I just need to get back to doing everything separately. It’s really not that hard.

If you don’t already, follow me on instagram (shannonisprettygreat) to see my meals. Starch Solution is seriously delicious.
Yep, so thats it for “resolutions”. No goal to hit, no pounds to lose each week. Just vowing to try my best to eat the way I feel is healthiest!

In general lifestyle resolutions… I want to keep my home tidier, and more organized. (I usually give up on this by February. hehe! but its worth saying!)

And I want to spend more time being creative in my craftroom!

Thats about it! Anyone willing to share how they’d like to improve in the following year?

 

 

2015

Wow. What a year this one has been. It sort of seemed like any other year, until I really thought about what happened in 2015. Here are some highlights and lowlights of 2015!

In no particular order (well, in mostly chronological order) but, y’all know how bad I am at remembering dates!

:-) Joel and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I know that people say that relationships are hard work… being with Joel is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. And being with him makes every other part of life easier.

:-( The winter was a rough one. Our house took a lot of damage. Over the year we had to get new insulation, a new roof, and some residual damage we haven’t even fixed yet!

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:-( Zevon had series of injuries in quick succession. We came close to losing him, for the umpteenth time since his birth! This dog is a miracle, a bundle of all things good in this world. And I am so unbelievably grateful that we were able to save him, to fix him, and to be patient with him and try to give him a happy life.

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:-) My skin really cleared up this year. Between being Vegan for so long now, investing in better skin care/makeup, my skin is better than it has ever been. Its not perfect, and the scars will last a lifetime. But what a difference. And what a difference it does for how I feel about myself.

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:-) :-( I got my official Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis! This was really neither good nor bad. It make me truly acknowledge my “limitations” and make me accept the situation. But I knew it wouldn’t change anything about how I live my life, or feel about myself.

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:-) CKC (scrapbooking convention) is always a highlight of my year. This year was no exception! Spending uninterrupted time with my BFF, in a creative environment is just the bees knees!

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:-) I got to see my girl Allie. Who, moved too far away from me, and got engaged! I’m so happy for her. You could never know a more beautiful human.

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:-) Adam & Drew bought a gorgeous new house, AND got a new baby pup named Reggie! I overflow with joy every time I see them happy!

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:-) Joel’s parents moved here!!!! What a crazy few months it was this summer… house hunting, planning, preparing, and then actually moving them here! One thousand percent the best decision Joel and I could have ever made. We are so fortunate that they agreed to our crazy plan, and willingly moved so close to us!  We couldn’t be happier to have them here… they both enrich our lives so much.

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:-) I downsized my closet by about 85%. I made $400 selling a lot of it. I donated about 8 garbage bags full, and I tossed 4 bags full! Simplifying your closet simplifies your life. It seems silly, but wow. What a difference!

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:-) I visited a farm sanctuary. Seeing animals spared from slaughter, hearing their horrific stories of abuse and then looking into their eyes… that is something you can’t forget.

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:-) Camping! Nothing beats the contentment I feel while camping.

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:-) I went purple!

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:-) Joel’s Dad did an unbelievable amount of work on our house. We don’t deserve so much generosity, or elbow grease! But man, do we love all the improvements!

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:-) Falconry.  My friend Mary and I learned all about Falconry, and got to fly and receive a Harris’ Hawk. I will never in my life forget that day!

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:-) Spending time with my sister in Florida.  Seeing her home, meeting her puppy… it was an experience I wanted so badly. Getting to see her new life, in person… it makes it so much more real!

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:-) Florida trip. Of course our entire Florida vacation was fantastic. Seeing my sis was the true highlight. But this trip was a really great one, start to finish!

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:-(  My Grammie’s passing.

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:-) The best Christmas in recent history. Having my sister & BIL home, having Joel’s parents here, finally relinquishing the present-giving tradition between myself and some people (instead, enjoying the gift of time spent together, that is!). Everything worked out perfectly, and deliciously… forming a really nice holiday!

Next year we’ve got… some weddings, some babies on the way, more fun vacations and who knows what else! 2015… you were a rollercoaster! But overall, a truly great year, here’s to 2016!

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This Summer (photos)

Florida

Had to wear this brace on my ankle every day in Florida. Still wearing it now. And ugh, still hurts! Didn’t stop me from enjoying the beach and this glorious pool!

Joel and I went to my fave place in Naples. The Loving Hut! All vegan menu!

Getting dressed up for a fancy dinner in Florida! Peruvian food! I had the most amazing artichoke ceviche!

SAM_0365

This is a Harris’ Hawk! He was my friend.

What an incredible day!

The Dude!

I abide!

 

 

November?

And mid-November at that! What the heck!? I see that my last update was back in August. *gulp*

Melissa and I were chatting about our blogs yesterday, and I was saying that every time I get the urge to just cancel my service/delete the site I simultaneously get the urge to make a post. Figure that out.

Most of my loyal readers (hi Jess!) see me every day, so y’all can feel free to skip the following updates…

HEALTH
I give this a solid ehhhh out of 10. I’m ok, nothing scary at the moment. I’ve been getting a lot of back spasms lately which really suck. Kinda messes up my entire body for a few days. My weight is not good. I really thought I could just chill out on the hard-core diet front. I thought I could just eat my vegan diet, low in oils and fats, and I would maintain or lose weight. I thought I could find that “balance” thing people talk about… where I can enjoy life AND find a healthy weight. Well, experiment over. Lesson learned. I’ve gained weight, I feel terrible. So, its back to measuring everything and counting calories. Not that that has proven to work for me either, but, I gotta do something.

WORK
Work is good. Same old same old! I’m just so extremely lucky that my work is so accommodating to me. I’ve had to miss a few days here and there because some days, I just literally can’t get out of bed. I feel a lot of guilt, but they know me and they know I wouldn’t intentionally take advantage. Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve felt like my “invisible illness” is visible. And that sort of annoys me.

FAMILY
They moved my Grammie into hospice care. She’s been in a nursing home for a bit now, so this isn’t a big shock. The other day was her birthday, 82! I went to visit her, brought her some birthday presents. She was so, so tired. And not just that physical kind of tired… but straight up tired of life tired. I know she’s very sick, and I know she will pass soon. Needless to say, she’s been on my mind a lot this week and I can’t help but think about the sadness of my mom losing her mom. It doesn’t matter how old they get, they never stop being your mom.
In happier news, I’m really looking forward to the first holiday season with Joel’s parents here. And my sister and her husband are coming home for Christmas as well. So, YAY for that!

HOME
We’ve been doing a lot of work on our house, all thanks to Joel’s Dad. It’s been just awesome. We’ve got a new roof coming our way this week! Not looking forward to the process of that… but so very needed after that last winter we had. It is so cool to finally be making a dent in our l-o-n-g  to do lists around the house.

HAPPENINGS?
Since August… lets see… well in August we went camping, of course. Which was as magical as always. From the instant we pull into the campgrounds I feel brand new. Like I’m truly home. And like I should sell all my earthly possessions and live off the land like a wild woman.

In September, a friend and I went to a falconry session! We learned about falcons and hawks, and we got to fly and catch one multiple times! It was such an incredible experience.

We went to Florida in October. Also magical. We had a really nice, relaxing time. We got to stay with my sister for a night which was just… perfect. Seeing her, in her new life down there is just sort of bizarre but really comforting.  She’s so tan!

My Birthday, of course! My birthday was great as always. So much love. So much love in fact, that its still going! People are STILL taking me out for my birthday! I got some truly thoughtful gifts, I made a delicious cake, and I had my family over to celebrate. Nothing better.

Halloween was fun! We have a party at work, and I was The Dude from The Big Lebowksi. Yep, it was as awesome as it sounds. I’ll try and do a picture post next and I’ll include one. It’s good. :-)

Ok! I feel like that’s a pretty thorough update! Thanks for making it through it if you did! I’m going to try and update again soon. I only wish I had something helpful or interesting to share!

Love you all!

Dealing with a chronic illness : a lesson from my dog

If you ever ask me questions about my illness, or dealing with chronic pain… I will always tell you that the hardest part is “finding balance”
Living in bubble wrap & pain killers isn’t really all that fun. But having fun leads to more pain, and more downtime. So… how do you find that balance?! How do you protect yourself AND live your damn life?

I really struggle with this. Always asking myself which I preferred – a healthier (and longer) future, or a more enjoyable right now?

So, hold that thought.

~

Last week I took Zevon to his surgeon for a check up. He’d been limping a little extra the past few days, and it made me nervous. They did some new xrays and poked and prodded him. Afterwards, I was chatting with the surgeon. He was showing me again the incredible extent of the damage to Z’s bones when he was a puppy. At this point, his right knee is barely attached. His left hip is just a weird mess of bone fragments not at all in the shape of a hip.

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{{look at this teeny baby Z! gah, my heart!}}

His arthritis is so advanced in every joint. He’s a mess. So what now? The Dr. said to me “We could do up to 7 surgeries right now if we were set on fixing everything that is broken. But even then, he wouldn’t be fully fixed, he wouldn’t be fully comfortable. Also, having and recovering from those surgeries would last him the rest of his life! We could do that, or, we can let him enjoy his life. Treat the pain as it comes, prevent it when we can, and just let him be him. He doesn’t even know any differently, he’s always been this way”

I thought maybe he was talking about me.

I asked him for what specifically I should do, and he told me “if he shows sign of distress, rest him, love him, and know that he’ll have good days and bad days. Just look for signs of something more serious, and we’ll address those as they arise.”

Again, dude? you talkin’ to me?

It all sounded so simple.

Just make him as comfortable as possible, make him happy, give him love, and treat the issues as they come.

Duh. And so I realized… I just need to treat myself as I do Zevon. With care and caution, but not by putting a bubble around him. Not by jumping on him with surgeries and trying to cure everything. We both only have this one life. This short, flying-by-way-too-fast life. I don’t want to waste it being too careful, but I also don’t want to put myself in dangerous situations.

It’s not as hard of a balance as I’d once thought. I simply needed to be put in the situation of looking at it as treating someone else. A new application for the old golden rule.

Thanks little buddy. We’re in this together!

Zevon, eating Ben & Jerry's

Camping 2015!

I just got back from my favorite trip of the year! Camping! This year was just as wonderfully uneventful as always! As camping should be!

I took way fewer pictures this year, and decided to soak it in instead. But I took a few for you!

The Big Indian.  This 30 ft dude is a good friend of mine. I like to salute him every time we pass by.

Our trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Mt. Greylock summit. I got a homemade cantaloupe lemonade and took in the sights.

We had a couple very rainy moments, so we huddled in the cabin and played games, or piled into the car and drove around. We went to the old Hoosac Tunnel museum, which I haven’t been to in so many years! There’s an antique train car you can climb all around. But you can no longer go inside. This is the sad view of it.

The boys had their tent set up, but when the craziest winds OF ALL TIME came through, they had to abandon ship and come sleep in the cabin with Joel and I.  It was a fun slumber party!

It rained so hard that the boys took their showers outside instead of up at the bathrooms. It was pretty cute. I did take photos of that, but thought it best not to post those ;-)

We ate some of our usual epically delicious camping foods! spaghetti with garlic sauce, hamburgers, breakfast scrambles, fire-cooked veggies, pancakes, and HOBO PIES!

I tried the Field Roast burgers for the first time. Oh. My. Goodness. Officially the best vegan burger yet!

My first hobo pie creation – marzipan and dark chocolate chips in pie dough. I also made one with lemon pie filling! WHOA. The boys made combos of salted caramels, chocolate, apple pie filling, lemon pie filling, marzipan, cookie dough… cinnamon buns… yeah, you name it – it’ll cook in a hobo pie!

This year was one of the best for wildlife spotting! We saw 2 porcupine, 2 deer (one was a baby!), a beaver, snakes, salamanders, a TON of frogs/tadpoles, and I saw a crayfish in the pond! He was so little! The animals are always my favorite part!

This Beaver Bog always makes me wish I had a canoe there. I bet there are so many creatures to discover up in there! We didn’t make it to Tannery Falls this year, the weather just didn’t permit. But thats OK. There’s always next year!

Everything is so right with camping. It’s smelly, smoky, and dirty yet makes you feel like the cleanest, most stripped down version of yourself. Clean hair and makeup is irrelevant when you’re trudging through the mud and drinking strong coffee with equal parts grounds.

We’ve always timed our trip to coincide with the meteor showers (as we did since I was a child!), so we got lucky and the clouds parted for a spectacular night sky show.  At our park, there is a field in the center, with densely wooded sites around it in a circle. So plopping down in the center of the pitch black field, on the top of a mountain… you feel like you’re really just floating up there, among the stars yourself. You can see the milky way, and all the stars shooting across the sky. I didn’t even have any wishes to make. Life is good.

Returning home,  Adam and I exchanged emails praising camping and what a good time we had. We both expressed how fulfilling it all is, even for such a short trip. Just being together, and being free to be 100% ourselves is the best vacation you could have.

I hope he doesn’t mind, but here’s a little quote from his email that got me right in the feels…

Thank you for making sure we do this yearly because there’s something about you and I together that makes me feel so much more complete. Like I feel like me. I’m more confident. I have more fun. I’m more relaxed. I feel like everything is cool when we’re together. Like back to normal.

I couldn’t agree more. To have each other, AND our loves, AND nature, and still be comfortable and content. What else is there?!

The moral of the story is… I love camping. I hope you liked the few pictures I took, especially Drunk Doug the Porcupine. He was a real character!

Life Lately

This is just a little snapshot of my life lately… if you follow me on instagram, none of this is new. But hey, enjoy anyway, will you? :-)

My hair is purple! It’s been getting a lot of attention out and about, but I really like it. I’m trying to be extra nice to my hair, not washing it often, deep conditioning, all that. I don’t mind if I need to chop it all off sometime, but I do feel like it’s a waste to have cool colored hair if it looks dry and sad also!

I got new sneaks! Same Hokas again, just the next generation. I can’t say they, like, cure me or anything, but if you have knee problems – I highly suggest these sneakers. They are super supportive but very cushioned.

FOOD.

I’ve gotten back into juicing again now that the produce is so tasty. I try to have 1-2 juices a day, and the other meals are Starch-Solution (high carb, low fat)
This combo feels really good to me! Very satisfying and filling, while nutritionally abundant! I don’t know yet, but I also feel like it may result in a little weight loss (here’s hoping!)

Fresh fruit in the summertime is EVERYTHING. I wait all winter for this stuff!

White rice, romaine lettuce, topped with a black bean stew.

Rice tossed with steamed mixed veggies, and drizzled with sweet thai chili sauce.

Oh heck yes. My fave. Mashed potatoes with mixed veggies. Smothered in gravy! (the gravy is from a packet. The brand is Hain, and it’s unbelievable. fat-free, dairy & meat free, super low calorie, and SO TASTY)

Baked buffalo cauliflower bites. The batter is just flour & water and some lowry seasoning. Then rolled in spiced breadcrumbs. Baked. Tossed in buffalo sauce and baked a few minutes more.

Juice!  This is just me recycling a bottle. That’s my own juice. However – the new cold-pressed juices from Trader Joe’s are surprisingly very good!!

Big happenings!

Joel’s parents have successfully moved into the new house!! I cannot believe they are our neighbors! They are in the next town over. It is SUCH a relief and a joy to have them here. This is just one of those situations where it is good for everyone! I can’t wait to see how they settle in and how they like the area.

Just a picture of the new bed we had set up for their arrival. My Mom helped pick out the fixins and I think it looks so nice! 

DOGS!

Chai, enjoying a sunny day.

We took Z on his first hike since his surgery! I can’t even tell you how pleased, relieved, and overjoyed I am by his recovery. We’ve nearly lost this dog multiple times in his short life… and he just keeps on bouncing back!  He is walking and running better than ever! He was nearly paralyzed… and now RUNNING. What a trooper. We took it slow on the hike, but he was loving every sniffin’ second of it!

HEALTH.

This pretty much sums it up 100%.

Overall…

Life is good as always. Busy, for sure. Some majorly bummer things happening… like my parents losing their best doggie friend Sammy, my Mom’s health doing poorly, my body giving me a lot of grief… and you know – the major injustices of the world… lol, but all in all. We do what we can, and we might as well enjoy it! So yeah, life is good. I’m SUPER excited about camping soon (in a few weeks) and its getting into busy time at work which is always fun in its own way.

Well!

I hope you enjoyed my little update! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer!

 

The Great Closet Clean Out.

“But, when I am XXX lbs, this will fit and look SO cute…”

Such is my thought nearly every time I entered my closet. Clothes hanging up, clothes piled up, clothes in bags auspiciously marked with goal weights that I think I will be when they will fit. Talk about surrounding myself with unattainable goals and blatant failures. It was a combination of attempting to motivate myself, and self punishment. Some clothes… well, they used to fit. They fit for that couple month period when I was at my lowest weight. But most of them had no excuse. Most of them I bought without trying them on. I saw them on the hanger – imagined in my mind how they’d look and I brought them home.

The problem is that when I try them on in my mind I try them on someone else. Because even my mind doesn’t want to see these adorable clothes being wasted on my plumpy lumpy body.
I decided recently to get realistic about it. To be just brutal in my sorting through of these clothes. I had to start fresh. Anything that does not fit me RIGHT NOW. TODAY. Had to go.  No hanging it back up with a “in 10lbs though…..” caveat.

(Approximately 1/3 of what I am selling!)

I went nuts in there. I have sold (am still selling) over 110 items. I gave 3 full garbage bags away to friends. I donated 5 garbage bags to charity. I threw 3 garbage bags away.

(I’ve never seen so many empty hangers in my life!)

What a glorious purging.

But what I’d like to actually discuss is this….

Stop projecting your dreams and goals onto physical items.

I opened a bag marked “170” and I took out clothes I feel like I’ve never seen before. Keep in mind – I’ve NEVER been 170lbs. I’ve never been near 170lbs. How the hell would even know what would fit me at that weight?  And if it did, when would that even be? Would these clothes even be in style then!? What if it’s never?
If I got to 170lbs, and these clothes still didn’t fit – did I fail?!

Whoa.
Right?
Why was I putting so much into a bag of fabric and buttons?? I was letting all of these meaningless items decide how motivated I was, how committed I was, and how much a failure I have been. But that is not for my closet to decide! Don’t you judge me, adorable pencil skirt from 2009!

Getting rid of this stuff was really cathartic. Truly slate-clearing. I was making room in my closet, but I was making room inside of myself for new goals and dreams—ones that didn’t rely on fitting into something to be validated.

Don’t keep things around for “someday”. All you are doing is reminding yourself that THIS day is not as good as that mythical someday will be.
So, there you have it. Clearing out my closet not only has made my everyday vastly easier, it has also lifted a heavy burden that I didn’t really know that I had. I am free and open to new versions of the future, new goals and ambitions… and the joy of buying new things when new things are warranted. I’m pretty sure if I do ever hit 170lbs, I’d much rather buy shiny new things anyway!!

Labyrinth+Junk+Lady

(pretty sure this was where I was headed)