I Survived the Dark to Live in the Light

Last week I felt compelled to hop on my bike and ride down M22 to visit my childhood home and spend some time in the neighborhood I grew up in. Telling people where I was raised is always a bit bittersweet to me; back in the 90’s, I didn’t think there was anything special about Greilickville. Sure, we had the bay across the street, and yes, I was able to take out kayaks and a paddle boat in my own backyard.

It’s hard to believe I didn’t realize how magical this was.

This idyllic childhood setting is something I’ve held on tightly to; the memories of swinging along the creek as I read a good book, hunting for treasure, and imagining all sorts of fantasyland in my own backyard. I remembered peeking over the Norris School playground fence to see my Grandpa Jerome working in the yard, or my mom sitting on the back porch on an afternoon she was off of work.

I felt fortunate to grow up next to my grandparents, my school, and surrounded by nature. As years went on, I began to let go of what I loved so much and began to try to find my way in a new world- a world that involved gossip, rumors, and materialism.

Norris Elementary is now Leelanau Studios, but my artwork of a fishbowl hung in the hallway up until the school closed. My mom has it in her house now.

The early memories of my childhood are the ones I want to remember; not the painful memories of loss, insecurities, or abandonment. I don’t want to recall sitting by myself at lunch, struggling to find connection, or discovering the girls I confided in weren’t really my friends at all.

It was always easy for me to pick up and start over; whether it was a new activity, new school, or a new city, it was never difficult for me to meet people. However, facing the people who hurt me- and facing myself- was much more difficult. Moving back to Traverse City has reminded me of the Kristin people may remember before I left for San Francisco, or even New York- a lost, confused girl with a free spirit. To mask my own discomfort with groups, I would drink excessively- even though my inner voice was always telling me to stay home. Today, thanks to twelve years of “re-inventing myself,” I realized I was exactly who I was the entire time:

A whimsical girl on a tree swing, reading a good book.


Old friends have tried to remind me of the Kristin I was- not the youthful, pure-hearted Kristin, and not the Kristin I am becoming today. No, some people who knew me over the years love to bring up the lost and confused person I was for a period in time- but I realized those people never got to know who I was in the first place.

Despite giving them the opportunity to get to know me now- years of writing on the table and all- they still try to bring me back to the low-vibe, insecure person I was before I found recovery, healing, and inner acceptance.

When asked what I did in Boston, it’s difficult to give an honest answer without unloading more information than the asking party wishes to receive. There is no simple answer for how I occupied my time during my three years in Boston:

I moved to Boston after rehab with no idea where else to go. In Massachusetts, it was a safe space to be myself, to learn to love who I am, and most importantly- to learn to ask for help. If it weren’t for the supportive friends who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t have been able to build such a solid foundation.

When I moved to Massachusetts, I began to think about others- not just myself. With Trump recently inaugurated, there was endless work to do to help others have a voice and basic rights- and I was able to use the skills I learned in rehab to cope with life’s difficult issues.

While in Massachusetts, I became a new version of myself– a clear-headed person with a vision for a healthier, more balanced world.

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye- not only to the people who hold you back, but to the identity that you once clung to. I have to remind myself of all I have endured- the detoxes, the programs, the relapses, and the lives I have lost. I’ve wondered why I survived so many dangerous situations, yet friends of mine have lost their battle to addiction.

Others don’t need to know everything I have faced, but if they did, they may understand why I bike around town with a smile on my face. When you’ve been through Hell and back, you stop letting the little things bother you- and you have an entirely new appreciation for life.

I may be a free spirit, and I may wear my heart on my sleeve. Nevertheless, my struggles were not in vain- and today, no one will take my joy.

For I survived the dark to live in the light.

Find Your Constants

What’s your constant?

It could be picking up your guitar, going for a swim, cuddling up with a good book, or spending time with a pet.

A constant is one of those things that just makes you feel good, no matter where your head is at.

For me, spending time by the water and enjoying the fresh air always brings me back to center. Whether it’s journaling with my morning coffee or snapping photos on an afternoon stroll, there are many constants that helped me learn to sit with self- and to enjoy life right as it is happening.


While living in Boston, I spent the majority of the time by myself. From exploring the city to writing in my studio apartment, the majority of my time was spending writing, reflecting, but most of all, healing– and I was able to do so through art.

During my free time, I started painting sayings from the blog as well as symbols that meant something to me. Painting, writing, and art has always been a constant in my life- no matter how I’m, feeling, I have an immediate sense of purpose when I get my messages out into the world.

No matter how small, it’s the little things in life that can mean the most.

A few weeks ago I started gathering rocks and painting them in gold, capturing the same phrases I once painted on blank canvases and in notebook pages. From evil eyes to red balloons, I began adding new colors to my golden rocks- and started scattering them around town.

Spreading light has been another constant in my life- one that not only benefits me, but can help brighten someone’s else’s world, too. Although Goldie Rocks aren’t a solution to our issues today, it’s a gesture that helped light my own way when the road was dark and grim. The simple words can mean so much in times of worry- and I hope my rocks have brought a smile to someone’s day.

When I had nothing and was feeling alone, painting balloons and a few joyous words gave me a glimmer of hope in an otherwise uncertain world. As my light began to shine, others would try to put it out- but others, the ones who appreciated my light- needed me to continue to shine even brighter.

I needed to continue to shine for myself.

Remembering to take care of yourself is so important during this quarantine- and every day of the year. Prioritizing your own needs and daily joy is imperative to living a balanced life, whether it’s a simple constant or indulging in some major self-care.

When you shine for yourself, you shine for the world- and maybe your constant will brighten someone else’s day, too.

Expressing Your Inner Goddess

We all have a Goddess inside of us.

We all have our own special inner powers, passions, and purposes to live out, but we have been conditioned to listen to our doubts, fears, and insecurities.

It’s time to let that Goddess shine.

I’m not suggesting you throw a Goddess party, wear a flower crown, or to book a retreat.  Those things are fun, but they don’t have anything to do with who you are- the strong, beautiful woman who has endless gifts to offer the world around them.

Divine feminine energy embraces intuition, inner wisdom, and the ability to both give and receive.  Strong and confident women are secure in who they are, lift others up, and know the importance of self-care.  They don’t have to overpower others to prove their point; they have a quiet power that shines through their everyday actions.

So, are you wondering how to start embracing your own Goddess within?

1. Leave your ego at the door

You don’t have anything to prove to anyone but yourself.

2. Open your heart

You may think it’s safer to keep it closed, but magical things happen when you’re open to receiving.

3. Love yourself without judgment

No one is perfect, and that is what makes us unique!

Embracing your inner Goddess is all about letting your authentic nature free and finally allowing your light to shine.

Somewhere along the road our spirit was crushed.  It may have been a parent’s divorce, childhood trauma, bullying, or a broken heart.  Maybe someone told us our dreams were foolish, or perhaps we were conditioned to think we weren’t good enough.

As adults, we can heal those wounds and go back to our original state of joy, dreams, and delight.  We can let go of what the world around us has said and start listening to ourselves.

From living beautifully every day to knowing the importance of setting boundaries in your life, you don’t need anything outside of yourself to embrace the Goddess within.

She knows the way- you just need to start listening to her.

For more Goddess goodness, please check out Emma Mildon’s “Evolution of a Goddess.” It’s such a great book, and I’m a total “Moon.”

Five Ways To Live A High Vibe Life

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I’m a big believer that life is what you make it.

Circumstances may not always seem to get better on the outside, but we do– we have the choice to change within, and to grow stronger from the challenges life throws our way.

There have been a variety of things that have helped my life improve over the past couple of years.  Happiness is cumulative; we don’t magically become content overnight, but each and every day we have the opportunity to add positive things that will build over time.

Start Your Day With An Intention

Having a mental map of what you want to accomplish each morning is important to start the day on the right foot.  Do you intend to be kinder?  Are you hoping to be more grateful?  Would you like to remain mindful?

Maybe your intention is small, but it’s important to remember it throughout the day.  It could make all the difference in turning a frustrating day into a beautiful one!

Eat Clean

Giving up meat and most processed foods has been a slow-go; although I have dabbled with going meatless for the last few of years, it wasn’t until recently that I took it seriously.  Boy, does clean eating change things.

My energy has sky rocketed, workouts are more enjoyable, and I’m doing my part to help the environment.

Stay In Your Lane

This was the best advice anyone has ever given me.  When you get into the middle of someone else’s drama (especially when it doesn’t pertain you), you’re immediately sucked into their low vibes.

Sometimes we try and be “fixers,” and that’s totally okay- but know your limits.  It’s great to want to help people, but understand when it’s time to step back.

Gossip in general is low vibe energy, and remember- when you point the finger, there’s three pointing back at yourself.  Many use gossip as a bonding tool (haven’t we all?), but it’s some of the most harmful and hurtful types of bonding there can be.  Be mindful of the company you keep- are they benefiting and enriching your life, or causing you chaos?

Make Time For Joy

As you go about your daily commute, stop and smell the flowers.  Take the time to go in for that latte.  Play in the sprinklers.  Enjoy the sunset.

The most simple pleasures are sometimes to most beneficial- remember not to take them for granted.

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Twists and Turns: Opening To A Fresh Page

I’ve never been a fan of routine.

In an effort to add some excitement to my morning walk to work, I took an unusual turn.  Instead of walking down the same street, looking at the same storefronts and sights, a little voice in my head told me to do something different today.

As I strolled down the tree lined street, I noticed something shiny on the ground.  I walked toward it, noticed it was a notebook, and picked it up- wet and all.  Wiping off the morning dew, I opened it, expecting it to be filled out; left on the sidewalk as trash.

It was brand new.

Not only were the pages blank, but it matched my aesthetic: blank and rose gold, complete with a heart.

I thought about the feminine design, symbolizing my own willingness to open my heart- and to open to a new page.

We may hold onto the past or regret decisions we have made, but every twist, turn, and detour has a deeper purpose.  These turns may have an unexpected outcome or a beautiful surprise, but when we live in the present moment, we will discover an important lesson:

Our true purpose is to live in the joy of our everyday journey.

Sometimes we just have to start our day off a little differently and be open to what comes our way.

Solo in the Sunshine

…and there’s no place else I would rather be.

Yesterday was my phone-free day… and I must say, it was a success.  I have to admit that did have to be practical and carry it with me for directions, music, photos, and safety (hey, I was going to new territory), but not for browsing the web, texting, making calls, or killing time.

So, what did I do while I sat on the beach without my phone?

I enjoyed the beach.

Imagine that!

Rain was in the forecast so I headed down early- around 8:00AM- and arrived to an empty beach.  It was perfect, not to mention an easy ride on the Red Line.  I got on at Davis Square and off at JFK/UMass, which was just a short walk across a field, the street, and to the water.  😎

I had originally planned on M Street Beach, but this beach, Carson Beach, seemed like my cup of tea.  There was even a (recently updated) bathhouse and counter with snacks!

Whoever said city dwellers can’t enjoy the beach, or nature, are mistaken.  That is why I love Boston so much- I have the best of both worlds.

After taking a few photos, I put my phone on airplane mode, sprayed on some SPF 30, and sprawled out on my blanket.  Peace and quiet.

I looked down at groups of people playing volleyball, taking kids out on floaties, and playing catch with their dogs.

However, I was exactly where I wanted to be… with my favorite company in the world: myself. 💜

Easter Lily

Well, I’ve officially kept a plant alive for over a year now.

It’s pretty hard to believe.

I’ve fondly written about my peace lily, a little gem I picked up when I worked at One International.  I initially bought the lily for my desk, but since then, it’s seen three apartments, survived public transit on multiple occasions, and has been brought back to life several times.

She’s a little champ.

So, knowing that I can successfully care for a plant (first a plant, then a pet, they say…), I decided to get another one.  This actually wasn’t my idea- my mom mentioned it when I showed her a picture of a new trash can I bought to match my soap dispenser and comforter.  Of course, I need to find something cute to do with a trash can, right?

I entertained her by putting my peace lily in the trash can (that sounds terrible), but we agreed it needed something taller.  I continued to use the trash can as a, well, trash can, until last night- when I spotted a lonely lily at CVS.

Leave it to me to find the lone plant marked at 25% off.  Dry and looking sad, I picked up the lily without question and headed to check out, along with my red lipstick, face masks, and popcorn.  Hey, it was Friday night- and Friday nights are meant for vegging out.

Once I got home, I put everything away, gave my new lily some water, and set her in her new home.  It was perfect!  I read up on Easter Lilies and learned they’re known as joyful symbols of elegance, beauty, spirituality, hope, and life.  How appropriate.

Even if we’re lost and lonely somewhere, there’s a place we will fit- and I feel that way about Boston.  I’ve not only found myself, but I’ve started to be able to care for other things, too- and I have my two lilies to prove it.

How A Fashion Blogger Went Minimalist

I used to be one of those people who saw something on sale and bought it in every color. When I found a dress, pair of pants or top I loved, I would do the same- the more, the better!  I would mindlessly shop on a Saturday and search the sale racks for things I didn’t need, but were “too good to pass up.”

My closet was full, my dresser drawers were breaking, and I couldn’t even account for most of my shoes.  I forgot about things I owned, left the tags on multiple items and constantly took things to consignment stores- only to buy more.

It was insanity.

I vividly remember packing up my childhood house prior to my mother putting it on the market.  I was on my way to start a new life in New York City, blindly moving into an Upper West Side apartment with one closet.  Obviously, I thought it was necessary to pack everything I owned and send it on over.  Endless boxes and several luggages later, I had an overflowing closet full of everything I could possibly need- yet only stuck to a few pieces.

I had purses in every color, shape and size. I had shoes I never wore.  Don’t even get me started on the “seasonal” items that barely saw the light of day.

During my time in New York, I moved twice and got rid of a lot.  Some of the pieces I sold broke my heart, but I needed the money more than I needed the fashion statement.  I started by selling the old pieces I didn’t feel great in and the navy items that clashed with my everyday blacks.  I started to realize that over the years my style has remained the same: classic, minimal, and grey scale.

Yes, there are many ways to dress up a basic ensemble.  I also learned that the costume jewelry, uncomfortable heels and impractical handbags only took up space and weren’t necessary for me to complete “the look.”

It was time to embrace minimalism.

Now, I’m not one of those people who counts the number of pieces I own or commits to getting rid of two items when I bring in one- no.  I believe life is all about balance.  However, I stick to a look yet have only a few items that are outliers (a green dress, a bright bag, or a chunky necklace).

Thinking about decluttering and discovering your signature look?  Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to get started.

What do I feel best in?

I have a lot of black tank tops and leggings.  They’re versatile and practical, whether dressing up or down.  I believe in quality over quantity, so I find a brand I like and toss them when they start getting old.

Whether going out with friends or running errands, I love a basic black dress.  I have many.  Sundresses, work dresses, everyday dresses.  People often ask me why I get dressed up, and my response is simple: “I’m only throwing on one thing.  It’s easy.”  No effort, yet I feel chic and polished.  It doesn’t get much better than that (oh yes- and my favorite black dress was $8 and from H&M.  No one would ever guess).

What do I really wear?

Going back to leggings, this brings me to jeans.  I can’t stand them.  I stand at a petite 5’3, so it’s a challenge finding jeans that both fit and feel comfortable.  I would much rather wear an oversized shirt or throw a long tank over my leggings instead of feeling restricted in jeans.  I only own two pairs as of today.

Jewelry was a big thing for me, too. Most of my jewelry is simple or sentimental, and all of the other boxes and bags of statement pieces gathered dust.  I stopped buying cheap, and started thinking practical.

What colors do I gravitate toward?

It’s clear I prefer blacks, whites and greys, but I also like pops of color.  My favorites are red and green.  I don’t restrict myself to these colors, but the majority of my wardrobe can be worn interchangeably with all of my pieces.  It’s like a game of mix and match.

I remember how proud of myself I was when I packed for a trip home for the holidays.  Everything I wore worked together.  Boots, flats, leggings, skirts, tops, dresses.  This was when I had my “a-ha” moment- I realized I didn’t really need as much as I owned.

What brands suit my style and budget?

I got on a Henri Bendel handbag and jewelry kick while living in New York.  They always have amazing sales, so I enjoy getting a new handbag or monogrammed tote every season or two.  I also have stayed true to budget brands such as H&M, Old Navy and ASOS, who year after year come out with little black dresses and basic pieces that fit me.  Gap is one of the only brands that consistently has “short” jeans that fit me- I just pick up the number, hit the register and go- I don’t have to waste any time, and I know that they’ll fit.

It’s great to discover new brands, but also important to know your body and your style- whatever your budget may be.

I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothing items (I’d rather splurge and buy nice shoes or a bag), as I have a tendency to spill coffee or sit on something that may stain- yet another reason I wear a lot of black.  City life can also do a number on your clothing, so I try to avoid getting myself into a situation where I ruin a $200 top that I couldn’t afford in the first place.

As I reflect on my path from excessive spending and hoarding to getting a rush from cleaning out my closet, I am grateful to lose fashion FOMO.  I used to constantly compare myself to fashion magazines, women around me and the latest trends, but now I wouldn’t trade my signature style for any other.

Being happy within yourself, and your outfit, is one of the greatest gifts of all- minimalist or not. ❤️