Memory Lane Is A Trip.

Memory-Lane

I think we can all agree that the feeling of nostalgia is an intense twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. A certain smell, a melody or even a glimpse of a picture from your past can dig up even the deepest of caches. It really is quite remarkable how many emotions ensue after our recollections begin & more importantly- the things that trigger them.

The other night when I was leaving my mother’s house, she asked me to meet her downstairs to pick up some of the bins from my childhood. She was elated to clear out the space in her storage, but I however, was not thrilled to take on the boxes of old trinkets. She reminded me that they were in fact my memories and she wasn’t going to be the one who decides which ones that I keep.

As I started to dig through them, I slowly realized how important it is to retrace your steps as you move forward through life. That doesn’t mean that you need to stay in the past once you graze the memory. The importance lies within soaking up the pieces of ourselves that we have moved on from, in order to see how much we have grown.

I found a letter to myself in one of the boxes from when I was 15 years young. It was an assignment that our high school required for every freshman and the intent was to receive it back when you graduated. As I started reading, I realized that I had never opened mine until that moment (Truly living up to my procrastination trademark). Although my teenage angst was utterly cringe-worthy, there were so many raw and delicate moments that I will now cherish forever. Between the sobbing into my sweatshirt and the laughter, I found myself calling my sisters to share with them what they had written to me over a decade ago. Amongst the letters, there were photos dating back to 1991- the year I was born (or as my father would tell you, the year that the Twins won the World Series.) As I scavenged through them, I found this one:

The funny thing is, we were all laughing this hard as we went over the memories, in the same way that we did once in a land called childhood.  I think we are all guilty of trying to prep and reach for what lies ahead of us- when some of the best (& worst) times are back in our storyline. I would encourage everyone to go under the steps, in the cupboard or attic- wherever the forgotten photo albums and family videos have gone to create dust. You won’t be disappointed in the least bit & maybe you will find some details about yourself that you have misplaced while working towards your best adult self. We all had to start somewhere—so what better way to connect the lines for what made you who you are this very moment.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

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Another Year to Be Thankful.

We all know that birthdays come around once a year. It doesn’t matter if you’re the type of person who lets everyone in your path know its your special day, or if you pretend the next one doesn’t exist in an attempt to skip the aging process. Even if you have ever felt like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles when everyone forgets.

Now my inspiration for this may be a little biased seeing as I just had mine yesterday, but there was a brief moment that was urging me to capture the thought into writing. I was finishing up my traditional birthday dinner when the very busy but effortlessly pleasant waiter, plopped down crème brulee in front of me. As I stared down at the treat, I jokingly looked up at the people around me and said, “Hmm guys, what should I wish for?” The second the words crossed my lips I realized how silly it was because I already had everything I needed right there in that moment. Although I was born with approximately 32 sweet teeth, I’m not referring to the crisply tart dessert sitting there with a burning candle on it. It was my mom, my niece, my sister and brother in law, and my boyfriend. Alongside those amazing humans in my life were the less physical joys that I remembered needed to be cherished as well. I had my health, supportive figures, a bit of money in my bank account, a car that runs, the ability to think and move freely without any restrictions. The list could run on like a rhino on rollerblades.

It’s in the moments of greed (c’mon, we all have them) and endless amounts of material products shoved down our gullets on an hourly basis that we forget to appreciate the fact we even get to have another birthday– another day to cherish the fact that we are lucky enough to be on this earth. I read a quote yesterday that was something along the lines of, “Even when you have a bad day, you get to try again tomorrow.” Now I didn’t read this in a book somewhere, I read it on a framed picture on the wall of a family friend. It was one of the many insightful and inspiring quotes from a man who passed away from cancer way too soon in life. He was a brother, a son, an uncle and a partner—who was thrown SO many hardships in his time here but was consistently able to be positive for others with his encouraging words and his genuinely lovely spirit. As I sat there in their house on my day of birth, I couldn’t help but think how many times I hear people complain about turning forty or fifty, and how badly this man would have wanted to experience just one more with his family and friends.

Although this was an emotional way to come to the realization I had last night, I felt that it would be an important one to share.  So the next time a grey hair pops up or the calendar inches closer to another year of age, appreciate the fact you are here and well and celebrate those laugh lines.

Hayley

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Choose Those Who Make You Happy

As humans, we like to think of ourselves as individuals who are in full control of who we become. But there is a factor that we may not realize has such a crucial role in contributing to the bits and pieces that make us who we actually are. It’s those people that we surround ourselves with who have such a large impact on our character.

     “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” says American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn.

When I read this, the first thought that plopped into my reflection zone was, “Who are those people in my life?” The second thought to arrive there was whether or not those people have traits that I’m okay with adopting.  We all have those friends or coworkers that have viewpoints fully capable of making you cringe and nod your head to avoid conflict. We generally stand by and don’t see this behavior as harmful, because we are not the ones directly dispersing those energies into the world. But when you think about it, the more that we are exposed to those negative things, the more desensitized we become to them—thus the more likely we are to continue to engage in behaviors we don’t necessarily agree with.

    So what our job should be is to become the hiring managers of our social circles. In some cases, I’m thinking becoming the firing manager may be the way that this process will need to begin. In other words, in order to keep your garden fruitful, you need to weed out the plants that are detrimental its growth first.

There are many groups of people who have already caught on to this positivity domino effect. They have chosen to slide head first into communities that weed out the bad before it can even start to root itself. CrossFit EP and PL are a perfect example of this. The “Work Hard, Be Nice Project,” was able to thrive so quickly because it was an obvious choice for a gym motto where everyone involved could truly relate and stand behind it.

This is just one example of how choosing to place yourself around those who lift you up and motivate you to be better for yourself and for your community can allow you to grow. The reality is, we will never be able to escape the negative people that we encounter on a day-to-day basis, but what we can control is whom we let into our world when we are enjoying our free time. Seeing someone digress because of a toxic relationship is truly heartbreaking and it’s even harder when that person is you.

Challenge yourself to break away from comfort zones and gravitate towards people who you would be more than happy to let it rub off on you. Because after all, there are enough negative influences in this world, and there is only one you. So make your choices wisely.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Do It With Passion or Not At All

Finding your passion. Realistically what does that even mean? For some of us it’s a flavor of gum that tickles our tongue with mango and other exotic fruits. For others it’s the feeling you get when your partner inspires you to connect with them in the moment of intimacy. But the truest form of passion is the one that is hardest to come by. This can be realized very quickly when someone asks you the infamous question, “So what do you like to do for fun?”

You stand there and frantically wrack your brain to find just one little nugget that will make you seem like an exciting human being. And while we all may be able to rattle off some hobbies, what sets those things apart are the details we want to expand on even further. A topic that can make your pupils dilate and your heart squeeze a little faster just knowing that you get to share it with someone else. What truly makes you feel connected with your inner self and the outer world?

I think what makes this concept hard to dive into, is the reality of what actually takes up our time because it is financially crucial or obligatory. We are all busy in our own ways and I sometimes feel as if I am an ant working within an anthill. Running around alongside my community members and building until the product is either complete or squashed by a giant sneaker. Now this may be a stretch, but it’s an image that we can visualize.

When I was a younger version of myself, I had this passion for storytelling. My family would say that I was technically a bit of a fibber, but this is my side of the tale so I can label it as I please. But it would get me into binds with teachers from speaking out of turn, get me landed on the “maybe” list for a competitive soccer team because I was distracting other players—you name it. But that’s how I know it is something hard wired into my system. It was the version of word vomit before “Mean Girls” came onto the screen & I have concluded it has more of a positive effect rather than the few negative setbacks it caused as an adolescent. As I matured, I understood the concept that there is a time and a place for everything. And as I talked about in my last post, it is now my time and my place to evolve as a storyteller.

There are so many fantastic qualities that we all possess, whether or not we are given the time of day to show them off. But what is so neat about life is that sometimes you can push past those boundaries and say screw it. As long as there is good intention and a little passion behind what you are expressing—no one can stop you from feeling satisfied about it. Whatever it is, start drawing more, dancing even if your mama gave you absolutely no rhythm and make some room for the things that move you.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Going After Your Dreams.

     I want to start by saying that, although this title is one of the most cliché sayings out there, just remember that dreaming doesn’t have to stay in your sleep. Like most other college grads, I moved home from school, I was then 23 years old, and I had a hole in my pocket about as deep as I am tall.  I went back to serving tables because if there is one thing I can do better than consuming food and drinks, it’s selling it. But that occupation started to run me dry–so I looked around for some 9 to 5 options and landed on an Insurance gig.

     Now, I did learn from the opportunity I was given over the past couple years. I absorbed the ins and outs of a world that I knew absolutely nothing about, and I am thankful to have that info locked into my mental time capsule. But there was an itch I just couldn’t seem to graze—and I’m not referring to the one you get from sitting in pantyhose for 8 hours in a leather chair. It was something more than that.

      I realized now that I am almost 26; there is nothing that I should scratch off my list because it may not work out, or because I am scared of losing some stability. When you start to feel like you are holding back the shiniest parts of you that are eagerly waiting to gleam, it’s time to get out the tarnish eraser and let it shine girl. Now what this ah-ha moment was for me, is surely bound to be different than what gets you rarin’ on the inside—but it is my dream and I am about to press play on it.

     I decided I was going to quit my job, and go after my vision of working in the chaotic world of advertising. Self-doubt has happened often since I made the leap from my job in Insurance, and another popular saying “don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” started to form a whole new meaning for me. The story goes as follows: I put in my two weeks and was working through my last days in the office, when I decided to take the recycling out of the back door. I returned inside like I have one hundred other times and ended up catching my heel in the doorframe. 12 stitches, some not-so delicate words & a dose of antibiotics later, it was then that I realized—when they say, “don’t let that door hit you,” they are not playing around.

     I didn’t allow that miniscule hiccup stop me. I enrolled in a specialized school to pursue my writing career as a Copywriter. I have recently resurrected my trusty ol’ waitressing uniform to work hard and be nice to myself for a change. It was time to do what I needed and act on what made ME feel good about my life.

     We have to stop thinking that it is selfish to go after what feels right, because the only person being hurt by staying stagnant is you.

     From a young age, I always knew that I wanted something different. I desperately wanted something exciting, challenging and to be surrounded by people who not only accept my quirky ideas, but morph with them to create something even more sensational. I am not there yet, but I’m thinking the road I have yet to travel will have some new lessons to offer– & that is a road I’m willing to ride.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Giving Up is Always an Option, but Should Never Be Your Decision.

For many of us, there are times that come along in our lives that push us to the brink of an all-out hair pulling, throw in the towel moment. It seems easier at the time to resist the challenge and take the fast escape out. As humans, we don’t do this because we lack desire — we do it because we feel stuck in something that isn’t moving the direction we were hoping it would. Or sometimes we care too damn much, and the luster that was once burning bright, has been exhausted to a faint, smoky fizzle. This can happen in relationships, in career paths, personal fitness goals, diets, you name it —as I’m sure you are all well aware.

      There have been some moments in my personal journey where I have been limited by my body–and given no option but to remove myself from the situation. Growing up, I was an athlete and it was something that I always knew I had under my belt—or in this case, leotard. Gymnastics was something I felt prideful about and it was an ability that made me stand out from the average, non-back flipping kid on the block. Starting at 13, two blown out knees & a few surgeries later, this lifestyle of mine was ripped out from under me. Who was I now?

      I would love to say that this is a success story and that I am currently the lead in Cirque du Soleil, but that would be purely fictional. I did let it take me back a few steps, a few pounds forward and years of feeling like I lost my connection to a club that I once belonged. I will be the first to admit that it made me feel well.. like shit & I did give up for a while.

      But I will tell you that the only thing that feels worse than giving up, is making the conscious decision to stay defeated. It took a few years but I have finally found my footing again. I lost one skill, and that’s a fact—but what I acquired was so much more than that. I realized when I took my head out of my you know what, that I had ambition to reroute my workouts to fit my body’s abilities, a love for writing to make others happy and a will to add more bullet points in my hypothetical social resume.

      We shouldn’t put so much emphasis on what we can’t do but rather think about all of the things that we already know how to do that may help us achieve it. Quitting never feels good, unless it’s a nasty habit that deserves to be booted out the door. If we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves in areas that make us vulnerable, we can clear our minds to accept the qualities that have got us to this point in life.

      When you feel like you’re getting to that melting point in any aspect of your life, save your precious hair follicles & remember the motto “Work Hard, Be Nice.” It will be there for you. Not every day will give you a miraculous opening to take what you want from life, but those testing instances are when you need to throw yourself back at it. Even if you are going strong individually, utilize your strengths to fill the void in your community members. A small compliment, a gesture of support, or an inside joke are sometimes the little push that people who feel like giving up, may engulf and use to work a little harder.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Community Vibes Only. It Takes a Village.

 “Work Hard & Be Nice,” is a motto that we have become so familiar with in this community. What sets it apart from your typical gym motto, is the emphasis on putting in work, without stepping on others to achieve success. ”It takes a village,” is another familiar saying that we ease over without much thought at all. But when you trace it back to its origin, you realize that before the reliance on technology and self-help books, people relied on each other to sustain. I started to think about this when I met a man the other day named Vern. He said that when he was at the mall recently with one of his young daughters, he told her to wait outside the bathroom and that if she needed anything, she could come in. When he finished, he stepped out of the bathroom door to an older man and a woman hovering around his child. “You shouldn’t leave her here alone you know, someone could take her!”

      He said that the man barked this at him with conviction. Vern said at first he felt annoyance–because let’s be real, no one likes to be shamed into how to parent their own child. But what he said next surprised me. He told me that they were just looking out for the village, and he is okay with that.

      So what can we take away from a mindset such as this and when did it become a negative thing to ask for the help of others? We second guess ourselves because most of the time we try and conceal the struggle in working alone, just to reach the satisfaction of doing it without anyone’s help. But that is where CrossFit Eden Prairie and Prior Lake have hit it right on the money. When you go to a workout, you start in a semi-circle and state your name. This unifies us in the process of what is to come next. People are there to cheer you on, when the last few Burpee’s have you sprawled out like pancake batter on a griddle, getting you through till the end.

      So in a way, CrossFit is not only unifying people from all walks of life, but it stresses the value in being there to help your community surpass obstacles. If this is something that people can live out in one area of their lives, it is promising that it can carry through to other times in life when it doesn’t feel like seeking help is the answer.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Relax, We All Need a Rest Day.

We are constantly told to stay active and get in our 60 minutes of exercise a day—but what people don’t like to talk about is how important it is to take a rest day and treat your body and mind to the luxury of laziness.

For every person, these ideas of what an ideal “rest day” may look like are completely different.

If you were to ask my boyfriend what he would do on a glorious day away from any strain on his body—he would pick up his guitar and sing along to his favorite band for hours on end until his fingertips fall off. My dearest mother on the other hand, would take a 50-mile bike ride and then pace around her living room to ensure sure she gets all of her steps in for the day. So whatever your idea of a break may look like, make sure that you take one once a week. Soak in the feeling of relaxation, in order to give your body what it is truly craving—it will thank you.

For athletes and other workout guru’s alike, missing a day of your workout routine can sometimes feel as if you didn’t live up to your expectations. Even for those running around to make sure that their kids are fed and not terrorizing the family dog—this proactive and persistent nature is what sets people apart from those who take 7 rest days a week. Through all of this hard work, we owe it to ourselves to live out some leisurely activities in order to recharge our batteries & optimize our body’s potential.

Ways to Take a Load Off

– For all the ladies out there, take your little piggy’s to a pedicure appointment. Give your feet the love and attention they need while catching up with a friend or a book that’s been patiently waiting for you. For you gentleman, no one’s judging if your piggy’s are squealing to go to the salon as well, skip the polish and revamp those tired feet. 

– The warmer weather is approaching and it makes sense to get outside and take a stroll before dinner. I’m sure that some of you have a four legged friend that would like to mark a light pole or two—so get on out there and watch the sun go down before slaving over the stove (or microwave for the less experienced chefs out there).

– They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend but as I have gotten older, I have slowly realized that mine is actually a foam roller. Foam roll it out, or hop into a sauna or Epsom salt bath to relax and rejuvenate those sore limbs.

Like I said, to each their own—but making sure to take a little time for yourself is never a bad thing. Don’t tell your coaches that you missed the last workout in order to take a bubble bath—just keep it to yourself and you will be raring and ready to go the next workout.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Don’t Be A Prick. Choose Kindness

     Sometimes when I find myself digging a hole of self-pity—even for as something as trivial as being clogged in a traffic-jam all it takes is a tiny reminder to myself that my life really is good. I cannot promise that the universe won’t test you on this, especially the days when someone rides your bumper like a magnetic force has taken over their steering wheel. Instead of flipping them the bird as they finally speed around you, give them a wave and a smile. It will make you laugh and hopefully confuse the crap out of them. What will emerge next may surprise you–a mood change will rear its head and arise into your life.

      It is so important that we focus on creating a positive frame of mind, to ensure that we are the best version of ourselves especially when it comes to interacting with others. On a plane when they advise you to place your own air mask on first before assisting others is the same practice here. You cannot walk around with your eyebrows diving into the bridge of your nose and expect that someone will approach you for a friendly chitchat. We need to perform some self-love before we can be compassionate to those around us.

      Be aware of your emotions & feel them. It really is okay to feel things– I promise. If you become aware of what’s going on in that head of yours, it makes it easier to decide how you will let those thoughts impact your emotions. It is easy to get stressed and frustrated– but when we focus on our inner dialogue & pinpoint what contributes to that stress—it can pave the way to a solution. Even if that solution happens to be a large glass of wine.

In all seriousness, these ideas sound great on paper, but how do we truly utilize these positive mind practices? Below are some small tweaks we can make to be less of a Sour Patch Kid in our daily lives.

Tip #1: Think of your perfect morning, and map it out. What does it look like? What noises surround you? What fragrances seep into your nostrils? Do you go the gym, or better yet, do you sprint to the coffee pot and graze on a day old muffin for 30 min? It is ultimately up to you.

 In the commotion of our daily routines, we lose the sparkle. So how do we reroute this?

     Set aside some time to create the morning of your dreams, no matter what side of the bed you wake up on. If that seems like a stretch from reality, at least make sure your favorite music station is playing in the background while you get dressed. Personally, I like to check my snap chat to see what videos I may have missed the night before from my darling red headed niece. It can be as simple as that.

Tip #2: Create a list of positive affirmations. In other words, what reminders can you give yourself that help boost the morning work week blues? If you have been hitting the gym hard and you catch a glimpse of your bodacious booty as you walk by the mirror, tell yourself you are lookin’ good. If you have been grinding away at work and no one seems to notice, remind yourself how badass you are & believe it. I know it may sound cheesy, but sometimes cheesy works.

Once you are able to see yourself in a favorable light, you will be free to compliment others and make their day. Taking the time to notice another human’s existence and making them feel good will never go out of style.

      When I’m in the checkout line at the grocery store, I always make sure to strike up a conversation with the cashier. In college, when I lived off of juice boxes and Bagels, I would head across the street to the local grocery store and stock up late at night. There was an older man there that would always be working the graveyard shift and he never looked down about it. I remember I noticed this about him and wondered if anyone had given him the time of day. I was loading up my Capri Sun and asked if he wanted one. He looked up at me, stunned at first, and then his cheeks grew flushed. “Really?” he asked, as if I’d offered him a golden ticket. He took it and placed it in the cabinet next to him and told me that he couldn’t wait to have it on his break. To some that may be just another interaction, but to this day I can still envision the look on his face when I handed it to him. Pure happiness folks, is what that feels like.

Written By: Hayley Sutherland

Confessions of a Snack-aholic

If you’re anything like myself, the most important meals of each day are the tiny delights that are woven in between your 3 courses. That’s right, you guessed it, we’re talking about snacks.

As much as we would all love to say that we carry around celery sticks in our pocket to snack on throughout the day— that just isn’t the reality of our human nature. We don’t want to limit ourselves so much that we start to deplete our precious energy bank. 

If you cannot admit to finding yourself on occasion, elbows deep in the Costco size bag of M&M’s in the office break room, well then frankly, I just don’t trust you.

But that’s the beauty of the choices that we are able to make each day. We are not perfect, nor is that something we should let bring us down on the days that we go a little off track. And to feel good, we don’t need to eliminate everything that tastes good.

Being prepared for those instances where we are scampering into the pantry to grab something before running to the gym, or even when those late night indulgences kick in, can make all the difference

Here are some healthier alternatives to the pre-packaged grab and go items that will still leave you salivating at the thought of them:

For all of you veggie and ranch dip lovers out there—there’s a lighter alternative that won’t let you miss out on one scoop. Pack a container full of your favorite vegetables. (My favorites are Red Bell Peppers and Cucumber slices). Take a plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt cup and get to dippin’. It’s a tart and delightful combo, without all the fat.

Any Cookie monsters out there? Try mashing a banana, rolled oats, cinnamon & some walnuts together. Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes and you have yourself a guilt free snack that even the Girl Scouts will be jealous of.

Scoop out a cucumber cut the long way and add a slice of your favorite uncured deli meat on top. Add a slice of tomato or avocado and you have yourself a grain free “sammie.”

Portion out some almonds so that you can grab for them to crunch the hunger out of you, while you are in the limbo period of your next meal.

Sparkling water has been my favorite go-to drink that gives you the bubbly pleasure of soda, without the sugar, sodium or calories. There are so many tasty flavors that will entice every tongue.

The goal here is to make sure that we are paving the way for our own success. Taking the first initiative in getting an exercise routine down is half the battle. So on the bright side, we’re all at least halfway there. The rest of the way is as easy as we’ll allow our minds to interpret it. 

Written by: Hayley Sutherland