Unplanned

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Dear Reader,

Today, as I walked up a trail I had no plan of completing when I started my day, I thought about plans; particularly the plans of my childhood.

I recalled the hours my best friends and I would spend on our bedroom floors, wedding magazines strewn about, agonizing over just the right dress, venue, or ring.

I remembered years later, sitting on the same bedroom floors, with new magazines strewn about, pages filled with college courses, majors, dorms and meal plans. And once again, we agonized over just the right major, to secure just the right job, and of course, just the right life.

We made plans, again and again, because we were taught to.

At 5 we were asked, “When do you plan to clean your room?”

At 8 we were asked, “What’s your plan after to you go play at the park?”

At 12 we were asked, “What’s your plan after the movie?”

At 14 we were asked, “How do you plan to study for your big test?”

At 16 we were asked, “How do you plan to avoid pregnancy at STD’s?”

What’s your plan…

after,

before,

to achieve,

for this or that?

What the hell is the plan after you realize you aren’t a fan of plans?!

What’s the plan when you realize you’ve shaped your whole life around plans you thought you “SHOULD” make?

What’s the plan when you realize pretty much every long-term plan you’ve ever made has caused you to twist and turn until you could finally break free of it?

What’s the plan when you have come to terms with these realizations, and you stop planning altogether?

I’ll tell you what it is, you go all in and live the unplanned life you want to live more than anything. You let go of other’s expectations, judgements and “shoulds.” And you discover something new everyday as you actually LIVE your life, instead of follow a plan you mapped out on your bedroom floor at 17 years old — before you even knew what love felt like, before you knew how to love yourself, what brought you joy and ignited passion deep inside you, before you explored yourself and the world — a plan crafted simply because it made it easier to answer the question:

“What’s your plan?”

But what happens now? When the same people ask you the same question. When they assume you are simply going through a phase, when they believe listening to your authentic self and staying open to the ever-changing world will ultimately pass to make way for your long term plan. What do you tell these people when they ask:

“So what’s your plan after this?”

Do you lie?

Do you tell them what they want to hear? Hell, even expect to hear…

Do you fall back on the plans put together from scraps of paper; so far from your reality they were thrown out with the trash years ago?

You know the plan like the back of your hand after all. It would be easier to simply regurgitate it. Just one more time.

Just so you don’t have to deal with their awkward state, and the inevitable:

"What do you mean, you don’t have a plan?!”

Yes, you could do that.

But instead, what if you looked them dead in the face and with the biggest grin on your face you said:

“I don’t have a plan, and I’m not making one.”

Well ya’ll, my grandma told me something recently after I was asked the infamous question: “So what’s next? What’s your plan?”

She looked at me and said: “Annie, you just need something to stop the people who are asking dead in their tracks.”

And I have to say, I think the above response, free of bullshit, and full of power and truth will do the trick!

After all, the people asking don’t need to be let in on this secret, but every unplanned step of my life has brought me the greatest moments of joy I’ve ever experienced, the biggest realizations, adrenaline rushes and deepest moments of resonance of my entire life. Far beyond any moment I could have pieced together in a plan made form magazine clippings artfully staged by models and photographers.

I belong outside of the pages of a magazine, living a life rooted in the wild, unplanned world. I am bigger than the plans made long ago on my bedroom floor. And so are YOU sweet human!

May today bring you brilliant surprises and unplanned moments!

Lots of love,

Annalise

Accepting Help

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Dear Reader,

On Saturday evening I found myself in Luna (my travel companion, and car), windows down, music up, trying to keep my shit together. Focusing on my breath. Remembering the freedom of the open road. Attempting to balance all my commitments, arrange my entire week in my head, and rationalize the multitude of emotions swimming around inside of me.

My sweet friend, Brooke, would arrive Sunday morning, and I hadn’t been home in three days. So by my calculations I had roughly 12 hours to figure out how the hell I was going to balance: having a house guest, 42 hours of work (minimum) between two different jobs in four days, AND finalizing all the important details for An Empowerment Journey workshop.

Head spinning, heart pounding, I pulled over and sent a text: “I’m juggling a lot right now and would love to have you come, but I really need your support when you’re here.”

I explained I would have the energy to watch movies, maybe to do a little dance to release the tension in my body, I would be game for cat snuggles and sitting in the sun at the waterfall, but I would also need to work.

Without hesitation Brooke answered with “Whatever you need.” And boy did she mean it!

Over the course of her visit we binged Stranger Things under cozy blankets, with a cat cuddled up between us. We ate tomato soup as rain poured outside. We traipsed around the water fall naked, letting nature heal us. We danced and stomped and shouted and stretched. We hugged and laughed and sang songs I thought I’d forgotten long ago. We ate a million tacos and explored Mt. Rainier National Park (briefly, because we spent the other half of they day working our remote jobs).

When I asked for Brooke’s help I did so because I needed to advocate for myself, I needed her to know I was in the midst of a balancing act. I asked expecting her to respect my needs and bring love and hugs to me.

However, what I didn’t expect was her insistence to wash the dishes at every meal; to mow my lawn while I was at work; to drive us into the next town so I could make work calls; or to help me refill my propane tank when it ran out.

I wrote a post while Brooke was here, on our Wandering Women’s Retreat page on IG that said:

When you can’t see the light, trust in those who love you, who see you clearly, who seek to uplift and aid you. Take their hand, follow their lead, and know that all is well. You are moving in the right direction, the hand wrapped around yours has you. It’s okay to ask for help 💛 you don’t need to have it together all the time babes! How do you ask for, and accept help?

When I read the post out loud to Brooke for her input she looked at me mouth agape and asked, “Did you just write that out of no where? I would have needed to search Pinterest for hours.”

I shrugged at her and smiled, “Yep, I just came up with it.”

But reading the post now, I realize, the words didn’t come out of no where, they came from Brooke, they came for her visit, from my ability to ask for the support I truly needed, and her unyielding willingness to love me exactly where I stood and provide the support she felt comfortable offering and I felt grateful to accept.

It’s not easy to ask for what you need, it’s not easy to admit you need support to keep it all together, but when you ask the people you love and trust and stay open to what they can give, the support will wash over you.

So this is your reminder to ask for what you need, and accept the help when people show up to give you what you’re asking for. You are deserving of support. You are worthy of love. And you are not expected to do it all alone.

Big shout out to Brooke Lambe for being a light for me this week. I love you deeply and appreciate our time.

This week has brought me the light I needed to get back to my twice a week posts. I’m sorry I’ve been out of the game this month. But I’m back, with a lists of posts to write and share with you. I cannot wait to continue this journey with each of you. Thank you for constant support and understanding. I only hope I give you inspiration and empowerment in return!

Big hugs,

Annalise

Work and Value

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Dear Reader,

Here I sit, covered in dirt and grime, with tired limbs, and sore hands after a long day deep in PNW National Forest. Definitely a wandering journey.

Today I worked a job, viewed as successful by some, and a failure by others.

Today, I pulled weeds, uprooted invasive species, mentored teens, and provided a safe space for community to eventually gather.

It was a day full of ups-and-downs, attitude and triumph, and everything in between.

But sitting here now, I can definitively say that I believe the work I do is valuable.

Moreover, I believe I am valuable, regardless of the job I have. I was born valuable, we are all born valuable, and I maintain this value by caring for myself, pursuing joy and constantly reminding myself that the job I work does not designate my worth.

A woman I deeply respect sent me a post this week, it reads:

People ask you what you do for a living so they can calculate the level of respect to give you.

This quote, inspired me to make the video below. I hope ya’ll dig it and it resonates with you! Comments are turned on , so please share your story and experience after you watch it:

Sending you lots of love this week!

Big hugs,

Annalise

Adventuring Over The Mountain Alone

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Dear Reader,

Sometimes, setting out solo can feel as daunting as summiting Mount Everest. While it’s nearly impossible to summit Everest solo, it is so much easier than we think to wander this wild world solo.

I speak with a lot of women who voice fear, shame and uncertainty about setting out on a day hike solo, let alone an extended trek. But in many ways this tide is turning, women are finding their immense power and accomplishing treks and travels they never imagined possible.

I am definitely one of these women, a woman who until a few years ago, couldn’t even go to dinner alone. Now, after spending 7 months solo on the road, I can’t imagine my life being dictated by the constant input of another person’s wants and needs.

So this weekend, when I longed to hike under a waterfall, I did so. And when I yearned for a little off road adventure and trek down to the sunny Columbia River Gorge, I hopped in Luna (my car), and off I went. By myself. Untethered. Full of excitement.

And naturally, I was met with bliss, but I was also met with twists and turns. So, I want to share both with you and empower you to embark on your own solo journey (wether it be an hour long, or a year long). Get in on the juicy details and inspiration in the video below:

I’m loving these videos, and feel like every time I post one I get to share a little look into my sweet homestead with you! If you’re enjoying them too, leave a comment and let me know!

Sending lots of love,

Annalise

I Never Imagined

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Dear Reader,

Today, laying under my car, with oil covered hands, and dusty coveralls riding up my buns, I thought to myself, “I never imagined I would be here.”

I never imagined I’d embark on the majority of adventures, tasks and activities that have filled my life with joy and meaning in the past 12 months.

  • Travel across the country alone — no way I’ll be with a partner or friend.

  • Guide teens through rope courses — I’ll be at a desk instead, or raising my own babies.

  • Work as a crew boss in the National Forest — impossible, I don’t have the skills for that!

  • Thrive without Wifi or cell reception — how am I supposed to be alone with my own thoughts?

  • Change the oil in my car — someone else knows how to do that, I don’t need to.

  • Sleep peacefully, (okay, semi-peacefully) with a bat in my home — I jump when I see a bat, let alone temporarily live with one

  • Shoo mice out of the floor boards — sike, I’ll be hiding under the covers

  • Crank up the lawn mower solo — nah, it’ll be too heavy to push, too tricky to start

  • Pull up sod by hand to plant gardens and flower beds — I can buy everything I need at the store

Well folks, it turns out, all those cant’s, all those “couldn’t imagines,” all those “I would never’s” have been the most insanely gratifying and empowering experiences of my life (thus far).

  • Traveling cross country solo — well ,you already know how much I loved this one if you’ve been falling Empowered Wanderer. Wandering solo has allowed me to deeply listen to myself, to understand my own strength and to let go of everyone else’s ideas of success.

  • Guided teens through ropes courses — turns out, working in nature with youth is like A MILLION times better than being parked behind a desk. And believe it or not, I’m not ready for my own babies (check out my Motherhood video)

  • Work as a crew boss in the National Forest — turns out I have loads of skills I didn’t realize and a huge drive to learn. It’s not worth limiting yourself with self-doubt!!

  • Thrive without Wifi or cell reception — most days I really love my own thoughts, they turn into poems, and dances, they turn into videos and blog posts, they turn into deep dives into self or philosophy, they turn into songs sung to the woods and they prosper, freed by the absence of technology.

  • Change the oil in my car — yes, lots of other people know how to do it. Now, so do I, because I am so incredibly capable and powerful. I can rely on my own knowledge and skills.

  • Sleep peacefully with a bat in my home — I can’t say this one has been fun, but it has given me a lesson in rational and irrational fear. It has brought me back to my breath, to my resilience and my ability to overcome discomfort.

  • Shoo mice out of the floor boards — after traveling cross country solo, mice are a non-issue, and peppermint oil is a great deterrent. Every challenge comes with really incredible lessons and a sense of newfound strength!

  • Crank up the lawn mower solo — this one makes me feel like such a FREAKIN QUEEN. I am strong, I’m a badass, I’m not limited by my gender or expectations of my roles in society.

  • Pull up sod by hand to plant gardens and flower beds — why buy when I can create, produce and nurture (not only my plants, but also my soul). It’s on par with therapy and dance to release stress and work through challenges.

So here’s what I have to say. Personally, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and pride for pushing my own boundaries, for diving into the unknown, for doing so many of the things I never imagined I would do. I am becoming a woman I never thought I would, or really could be. I am stepping into my power in an even deeper way. I am learning how infinitely capable I am. I am claiming my strength and asking for more.

I encourage you, to wade into the water of the unknown, to trust the strength within yourself you have often doubted, to challenge the roles society has placed you in from the beginning.

And if you do, I hope to hear your stories!

Sendings lots of love your way,

Annalise

Feeding Your Soul

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Dear Reader,

Today I sat in a cafeteria eating hamburger helper tacos, with dirt on my hands, and slightly soggy socks from a morning on the field. As a child, teen and young(er) adult, this picture wouldn’t have represented success for me. Far from it in fact.

But as I sat and stuffed my face with tacos (free food is my favorite, no matter what it is), I talked with the man across from me about his long day in the office. He spoke of how he felt more drained and exhausted after a day behind a desk, than after a day out on the challenge course with big groups of kiddos. And my response solfidied everything I’ve learned about success in the past year and a half:

There’s a huge difference between draining your body, and draining your soul.

The man across me nodded knowingly, “Yep, that’s exactly it” he said with a smile.

For years, I worked desk jobs, stuck in one place, same routine, same stress. And slowly but surely my soul lost its nourishment. I had the same conversation again and again with friends and family.

I’d say: “I know I’m good at these jobs. I get affirmation and acknowledgement. But I can not truly say I’ve ever loved any of the jobs I’ve worked.”

This statement created a growing sense of panic in me. Would I always be one of those people who hated their job? Would I ever find something that didn’t make me feel exhausted, depleted and altogether unhappy at the end of the day?

Well, the cafeteria I sat in today is that of an outdoor education center in the National Forest. I spent 9 hours of my day on site, rolled out of bed before 7 and interfaced with a group of kiddos who were having a hard time.

But here’s the difference between that and every other job I’ve ever spent 9 hours a day at: even though there was stress, even though there was challenge, that didn’t matter, because even one good moment out in nature, with kids valiantly preserving through the struggle nourishes my soul enough to make it all worth it.

I left work today (an unpaid shadow day at that) feeling fulfilled and driven enough to write this post to you. I left work with a nourished soul and a tired body… just the way I like it. And better yet? With a nourished soul, my body still holds energy and excitement.

So for now, I’m signing off to enjoy the last bit of sunshine with a walk through the woods, and this message to you:

Your time and space is valuable. Your soul deserves to be fed. Pursue the people, places and things that nourish you, that leave you feeling full. That is success. Choosing yourself is success. An off the map, wildly different, non-conventional job can ABSOLUTELY be success!!

I encourage you to think about what nourishes your soul today and seek that out in your daily life, your work place and your relationships with others! And if you have an insight you’d like to share comment away my loves!

Also, if choosing to nourish your soul feels tricky, if you constantly find yourself choosing to stick to what you “should” do, rather than what fills up your tank, I invite you to join my 30 day online workshop on self care and empowerment, starting July 15th. Click HERE to register 💛

With love,

Annalise

Rooted - My Connection To Nature

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Dear Reader,

The last post I wrote for PNW Wandering was 8 months ago, less than a week before I left the Pacific Northwest for a 7 month trek across the country and around the world.

I have been back on PNW soil for about a month now and it’s been a wild ride — more to come on this transition on Friday so stay tuned. But for now, I am cozied up in the one room public library of the town I now call home. I am sitting criss-cross-applesauce staring at teen novels, as the sun streams in from the window beside me, and for one of the first times since coming home a month ago I feel at peace.

I attribute this peace to the major rooting I’ve done this past week. Not simply rooting to this new home, but rooting to the wilderness, to the wild land I live on, and to my ancestors who walked the land before me; to rooting into a remembrance of a childhood spent building forts in the deep Alaskan wilderness, returning worms to the mud, and traipsing through the land of the national forest I now live on full time.

While walking through the trails in my newfound backyard, I began to reflect on my roots, on the stories I often tell about my childhood, of concrete cul-de-sacs and ice-creams cones from Whole Foods. However, these city and suburb stories are such a small part of my childhood, and shaped me in lesser ways than the time I spent in the wild.

As this realization surfaced I recorded my thoughts as I wandered through the woods. They are imperfect, they are raw and unedited, but they are true, and I hope they resonate with you and enliven a connection to nature that you may have lost within yourself years ago.

So here are my words and a video of the oasis (yes, an oasis even with the mice, beetles, bats and lack of cellular data) that I now, and in so many ways have always, called home:

I feel a bit off kilter sharing more spoken than written words with ya’ll, but it’s what an overwhelming majority of you requested so please feel free to let me know what you think. I would love to hear the stories you tell about your connection with nature in your childhood, and what you remember when you take time to look back.

With lots of love,

Annalise

Patreon Launch

Dear Readers,

When I first created Empowered Wanderer in February, I felt unsure. Launching Empowered Wanderer felt like a huge leap of faith. I was putting myself out there and doing something I’d never done before. I knew I had some support behind me, my family and friends would probably follow Empowered Wanderer.

But over the past 7 months I have been consistently taken aback by the people I reach. From an acquaintance met long ago in a hostel in Nice, to previous classmates, and even men and women I’ve never met. It is because of you, your support and love for my crazy, wild ambition that I continue to create content.

I may write to empower you, but what I don’t say enough is: YOU inspire me!

As I plan my trip around the world (my itinerary is officially mapped out on Google Docs and my departure date is set for Tuesday the 25th), I feel unsure once again. Similar questions pop into my mind: is it worth the risk? Will it be valuable? Will it matter?

And then, I think about each one of you and the support you have given so effortlessly. I am reassured, for I know that the stories and lessons I gain will be shared with each one of you and blossom into something even larger and even more magical.

With your support fueling me, I have created a Patreon account to provide you with extra blog posts, emails, empowerment event access, travel videos, Q&A’s and more! I wanted to create a platform where I could give back to you for supporting me. And a platform where you can contribute to my creation! I am so jazzed about the opportunity to empower on an even larger level!

This is a link to my Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/empoweredwanderer) and there’s a super exclusive and special welcome and thank you video on there for you to watch!

I can’t wait to continue on this journey with you! Thank you so much for all that you do to inspire and support me. My heart is filled with love for you!

With gratitude and lots of excitement,

Annalise

New Places

Dear Reader,

As I sat down to write to you, I found myself at a fair trade cafe in Olympia. Now, as the sun peeks through the Seattle clouds I am back in Capitol Hill at a magic little coffee shop, full of a steamy london fog and rainy morning air.

The beauty in this? Each place is unique and different. Each spot has its’ own magic. Each one is new to me, unfamiliar. And this newness, this contrast, sweet readers, is exactly what I planned to write about it. And the universe seems to be in full support of this plan.

This piece began to take shape as I sat at the harbor park in Olympia, WA, breathing in the sea air and settling after 3 hours of Seattle and Tacoma traffic. It later came to life on paper in Traditions Cafe down the street.

As I walked to Traditions, I thought about how close Bellingham, Seattle and Olympia are. All separated, or rather connected, by a few hours driving on I-5. All on the north side of the mountains in Washington State. But each city is so different. So full of its’ own spirit. And own people.

For so long, I wrote exclusively in Bellingham. My spots were familiar, calm and quiet. I wrote outside at Teddy Bear Cove, in the Terra Market that has since closed, or curled up in my bed. The city is small and quirky, but it’s a quirk I know well, and identify with. A city filled with people and places I understand, connect with, and fall into without effort.

When I write here in Capitol Hill I feel off kilter, there are more people. They are dressed in corporate clothing. But they carry reusable coffee mugs and wrap themselves in scarves that tell secrets of their true style. I feel distracted by constant movement, and hustle. I feel excited by the life that exists here. It’s different, it’s less connected, but more alive.

When I wrote in Olympia last night I felt grounded, I felt welcomed by a zany waitress, warmed by incredibly tasty and cheap food. Softened by the string band music, the tapestries on each table, and the particularly unappealing welded art on the walls.

Point being, I find comfort in knowing that some cities and towns will fit better than others. I won’t know which is which until I’m there. Each one will be important. Some will excite, and some will calm. Each will teach me something new, awaken some part of me that was sleeping. Each will challenge me to better understand where I belong, or rather, how to belong to myself and in myself as I weave in and out of our world.


So, here’s to exploring each new city. May they hold unique places to write, new people to observe, tons of food to eat and countless pups to pet. May they hold life, love, connection and solitude. May the exist exactly as they are, I give them thanks for allowing me to step in and out of them

With love,

Annalise



PNW Wandering - New Places, click to read!

Resolutions

Dear Reader,

When I sat down to write "Unmatched" on Sunday I opened a journal I've only used on one other occasion - a journal I purchased at the dollar store on December 31st 2017. It was a last minute buy; Cody and I were on our way to Teddy Bear Cove to soak up the last day of the year in a hammock, reflecting and writing. But I was without a journal. So I grabbed a tiny journal for a dollar and happily sat and wrote two very important entries.

  1. Gratitude Practice 2017
  2. 2018 Resolutions 

On Sunday I read both these entires with a huge smile on my face. For the past two years I've written down my resolutions, in big long lists. In fact, I remember reading my resolutions from December 31st 2016, and thinking, "Damn. Those did not come to be." As is all too common.

But this year I was determined to follow my resolutions. I spent the last day of 2017 in one of my favorite spots in the PNW, writing about the beautiful places I would see this year, the beautiful things I would pursue and accomplish. And here I sit today, in the co-op, in my PNW shirt, ready to set off and leave the land I love to follow my resolutions fully. With this said, I'd like to share my gratitude and my resolutions with you.

Gratitude Practice 2017:

In 2017 I am grateful for:

  1. The Women's March
  2. The Black Lives Matter March
  3. My little apartment in Lynden
  4. Every hike I have completed - or perhaps, not completed
  5. Gypsy-Rita
  6. Presence Studio
  7. Support and Love
  8. My Therapist
  9. Hammocking at Teddy Bear Cove
  10. Steady-ISH income 
  11. The families I babysit for
  12. My family
  13. Myself
  14. The writing I have done
  15. Freedom
  16. Naked photo shoots
  17. Cody and my trip to Lopez Is - thanksgiving bagels and thrift store finds
  18. Bob Bags and the White Envelope Christmas Tradition
  19. Yummy Food
  20. Leavenworth and the Enchantments 
  21. My partner's hugs
  22. Good Music
  23. Solo Hikes
  24. Kelsey's Dance Workship
  25. The Ability to travel
  26. Blue Skies
  27. Mountain Tops
  28. Brunch
  29. Marcus the cat
  30. Kaari's Friendship
  31. Daphne - my Honda
  32. Fresh Air (not smokey: anti-gratitude haha)
  33. Taco's and Tequila
  34. Shower Baths (my favorite)
  35. Mason - my nephew
  36. GG - my grandma
  37. Mother Nature

2018 Resolutions: 

  1. Be kinder and more patient with myself
  2. Honest Communications 
  3. Let go of toxic relationships 
  4. Work through my anger
  5. Dance more
  6. Spend your free time outdoors
  7. Gypsy-Rita Trips
  8. Blog
  9. Become financially secure and satisfied by something that works for me
  10. Sleep under the stars a lot
  11. Swim a ton - in the ocean 
  12. Drink more mulled wine
  13. One trip abroad this year
  14. At least 5 solo trips this year
  15. LOVE BIG!
  16. Remember/rediscover your love for fitness in whatever way is right for you
  17. Hot Yoga
  18. More gratitude 
  19. More sunsets and sunrises (preferably on mountain tops)
  20. Do more shit that serves you
  21. Hone into your strength, power and self love, and trust your god-damn self, QUEEN!
  22. 500 words a day

So there you have it, I had a ton to be grateful for in 2017. But mostly I want to talk about my resolutions. In 2016 and 2017 I made resolutions that mattered to me deeply. Ones that would inspire growth, challenge me, and fill my heart with joy. And for the first time in my life I feel like I'm really on track to accomplishing them ALL. I am not there yet but I am on my way.

Sitting here in the co-op in a sea of people I am holding back tears. Because it is all too rare for us to follow our intentions, our resolutions, our goals (whatever you'd like to call them). We are often pre-occupied with our shoulds, our partners, our friends, our families, everything that we hold more important than ourselves.

It's the classic: sign up for a gym membership in January and cancel it by March situation. I've fallen into it for countless years. And I find this pattern overwhelmingly disheartening. But this year I reached a space where I decided I was done putting myself behind everything else. 

Because of this decision, I started Empowered Wanderer, I am about the set out on a solo trek around the world, I danced my ass off, I let go of toxic relationships, I pursued friendships that scared me, I learned how to boulder, I solo hiked, I swam in the ocean, quit two jobs that did not serve me and planned a retreat for women to harness their own power and remember their value. 

Imagine if we all re-learned our value, if we began to to put ourselves first and live our lives with the intention of pursuing joy and passion.

I'm sure it's way easier said than done - after all it's taken me 24 years - but I encourage each one of you to make your own lists. Write your gratitude, think about everything in your life that gives you energy, joy and light. And then write about how you can cultivate more of this, everything you will do for yourself to ignite your fire for life again. 

May we all live with our souls blazing and our hearts pumping, as our resolutions are not only seen, but realized.

With love,

Annalise