lady loves

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


lady love blog series

in the work i have been doing over the last couple of years, i see women marginalizing themselves in a myriad of ways. i see women feeling intimidated and unworthy and never, ever enough. and i see that so many of us have lost touch with the very important fact that we are each unique and powerful; that those things that come so innately, so naturally to each of us are truly our gifts, blessings, and offerings.

and so my great, big, from the bottom of my heart, hope with this project is that it will create an open and honest conversation about who we are as women; not just a glossy look at the five minutes of our day that went according to plan, not just us presenting who we think the world expects to see, but a real and authentic glimpse into how hard we all work and how we don't always get it right but how unique and beautiful and perfectly imperfect we all are regardless.

most of you know that my life has been profoundly shaped by my "failures" and i want to continue to push that envelope; for all of you to be able to share and witness the honesty and authenticity of other women and know that you are not alone and that we all stumble.

and, most importantly, to all of my lady loves, your depths and your beauty shake me to my very bones. i bow in reverence to the beauty that you are and to the audacious heart that you embody.



today you all get to meet a girl that i am deeply inspired by.

i "met" andrea on instagram and immediately felt drawn to her. 

she is genuine and generous and has a deep and steady strength that i am not even sure she fully comprehends. and she continually schools me in what true authenticity and honesty is; reminding me just how beautiful it is to show up time and again as your beautiful, raw, real self.

without further ado, miss mclaren.

tell me a bit about who you are? 

i am 32, married for almost 7 years, mom for nearly 4 years. i am someone who is honest, hopeful and broken in. i am critical and compassionate. i am self-aware and i carry a lot of self-hate which i am forging into self-love, slowly but successfully. i believe in people and i am passionate about community. i like the outdoors. i am grateful for my imperfections and i am okay with life not making sense. 

what do you do? 

i am a mother, wife, apartment caretaker and civil servant.

no, but really, beyond the title, what do you do? 

i cook, i clean, i drink booze, i change light bulbs and repair smashed windows. i fold laundry and wash sticky glue-stick fingers. i vacuum hallways, rake leaves and push snow. i answer phones and direct people to the right city departments. i help people find their way on public transit. i help people make sense of their property tax information. i tell people what time free swim is at their community pool. i refrain from striking my child during temper tantrums. i bend pipe cleaners into crowns. i eat out. i walk a lot. i write letters. i watch the bachelor. i listen to people. 

when you look around at your life, is this what you expected? are you surprised by it? if so, by what and why?

there was a time when i was stunned by the massive discrepancies between what i thought my life would be and what it actually was. at this point i try to not have too many expectations. if anything, i expect life to be hard and confusing and beautiful. i’ve grown with my life and adapted. 
i am constantly surprised by life. by how much beauty can force its way into your path and also by how hard things can get. over the years, i have often found myself thinking: “how much worse can it get?” (i’ve been through a lot of difficult stuff) and i am always surprised by precisely how much harder it can get. i am surprised by my resilience and faith in myself. by going through deep, deep water i have become a very strong swimmer. i have also let go of the idea that life is supposed to be easy or fair, or that surviving a tally of challenging ordeals means that i am owed an easy time eventually. life doesn’t work that way and it took me a while to get that through my head and heart. i’ve also become a firm believer in the power of my attitude. i don’t wonder how much worse life can get anymore. i focus on finding the good stuff, even on the shitty days. there is always something to be grateful for. always.

what would most people be surprised to find out about you?

i am pretty open with my thoughts and feelings, and tend to be an over-sharer – so i don’t know if there’s that much left to shock anyone. 

i have struggled deeply with my role as a mother and also with my role as a wife, and the idea of marriage in general. 

i like rap music a lot. i turned down a date with the GZA once. (biggest mistake of my life, haha). 

travelling freaks me out.

what has been the peak experience{s} in your life thus far? why? how did it change you?

my journey into motherhood has absolutely changed me at my core. embracing my depression and giving it the respect, attention and care that it requires changed my life dramatically. choosing to come back to my marriage after an 8-month separation changed me deeply. all of these experiences happened in a 2-year span. speaking generally, before that period of time i was wishy-washy, selfish, small-minded and very clueless as to who i was or who i wanted to be. i had a lot of self-pity and shame. 
these experiences brought me into a valuable and life-altering conversation with myself about who i was and who i wanted to be, and was i willing to do the work it would take to become that person. these experiences brought me to a place where i was able to see that the first step to becoming the person i wanted to be was to begin loving myself.

what are you passionate about? curious about?

i am passionate about community and people. 

i am curious about other places in the world because i haven’t travelled much. i wonder about how people in other places in the world approach the idea of community and togetherness.

what are the qualities that truly matter to you? which ones do you fully embody? which ones are missing or needing to be more fully expressed?

forgiveness, patience, loyalty, humour, kindness and humility.

i think i have a good handle on forgiveness and humour. i am ferociously loyal.

i have work to do when it comes to patience.

if you could sit down with a woman you greatly admire, what one question would you ask?

there are so many incredible women that i admire, but at the moment i think i would love to sit down with cheryl strayed the most. i just finished her book tiny, beautiful things and i want to talk to her about everything ever, but if i could only ask her one question, it would be: "what is the most important thing to remember when it comes to motherhood?"

do you have a dream, a wish or a “to-do” that you are currently resisting? if yes, and you feel ready to share, what is it? why do you think the resistance is there?


honestly, no. i believe that i am right where i need to be right now. i do have other things that i want to achieve in my life, and i believe i will succeed at those things when i decide to put the time, commitment and work into them.

you are at your best when you are ___________?

fed. 

when you are in that space of being your best, the exact thing you are doing, most often, is ___________?

listening.

and, last but not least, y'all know i love a beautiful string of words so, please, share a quote that moves and shakes you.

when we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. the friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
~ henri nouwen







bone broth

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



hello loves!

if you haven't heard about bone broth and all of its spectacular qualities yet, well, today is your lucky day!

bone broth is a tasty, comforting, nutrient dense, cup of mega-goodness. i'm so in love with it it has even replaced my breakfast smoothie! i mean, really, that is all you need to know.

but, if that hasn't sold you on it, here are some facts:

- it helps to seal and heal a leaky gut, promoting healthy digestion and absorption of food

- bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium, all of which contribute to strong healthy bones

- bone broth is also loaded up with gelatin and collagen, vital for  healthy hair, skin and nails

- the high concentrations of glucosamine, collagen and proline in bone broth are vital for healthy connective tissue in the body
{in my, ahem, professional opinion, bone broth is a must for anyone with achey joints}

- glycine, also available in high quantities in bone broth, is vital for the liver. and our liver is vital for detoxing the body. glycine is also known to promote a sense of calm.

- bone broth is also a handy inflammation and infection fighter

- and, if all of that has not convinced you, bone broth is dead easy and wildly affordable to make.

if you get on the google you can read even more about it, but those are kind of the heavy hitting facts that got me on the broth train a little over a year ago.

alright my dears, lets get to "how to make" segment of the blog.



you will need the following:

- one organic or free range chicken carcass or, if you can find them, a couple of chicken necks and backs...bonus points if you can also find and add a few chicken feet!
{i will often buy an organic whole chicken for about $25 and have roast chicken the first night, pull the left over meat to make a pasta dish the second night, and then make a massive pot of bone broth the next night...i drink the broth just plain, but also use it for soups, rice, sauces, etc. so from one chicken you are easily getting up to five meals.}

- two onions

- four cloves of garlic

- a big chunk of fresh ginger, sliced

- about a cup of sliced fresh turmeric
{you all know about how incredible turmeric is right?}

- a big bunch of fresh parsley

- one whole lemon

- one bunch of thai basil

- a palm full of peppercorns

- a palm full of sea salt

- a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar

- a large stock pot

*i definitely like my bone broth to have more of a "pho" flavour, thus the ginger and thai basil. but feel free to adjust the seasonings to fit your own tastebuds/what you have on hand.

then simply throw the whole lot into your pot and fill almost to the top with water. bring the broth to a boil on medium heat and then reduce it to low to simmer for eight to twenty-four hours. that part is key! your broth needs to simmer a good long time to get all of the nutrients out of the bones themselves.

once the simmer time is up, strain the broth into one or a several storage containers. i usually strain it right into a massive jar i have and just keep it in the fridge, as it doesn't last us more than a week, but you may want to store some in the freezer.

that's it! super simple, super good for you.





lady loves

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


lady love blog series

in the work i have been doing over the last couple of years, i see women marginalizing themselves in a myriad of ways. i see women feeling intimidated and unworthy and never, ever enough. and i see that so many of us have lost touch with the very important fact that we are each unique and powerful; that those things that come so innately, so naturally to each of us are truly our gifts, blessings, and offerings.

and so my great, big, from the bottom of my heart, hope with this project is that it will create an open and honest conversation about who we are as women; not just a glossy look at the five minutes of our day that went according to plan, not just us presenting who we think the world expects to see, but a real and authentic glimpse into how hard we all work and how we don't always get it right but how unique and beautiful and perfectly imperfect we all are regardless.

most of you know that my life has been profoundly shaped by my "failures" and i want to continue to push that envelope; for all of you to be able to share and witness the honesty and authenticity of other women and know that you are not alone and that we all stumble.

and, most importantly, to all of my lady loves, your depths and your beauty shake me to my very bones. i bow in reverence to the beauty that you are and to the audacious heart that you embody.



another lady love today!

and may i just say that i straight up adore sharing these women with you all? because i do.

today's lady is jessica and, as i have been with all you beauties, i was just fascinated when i read her words.

she is so grounded and rooted into her own being, but also completely expansive. and i found it so amazing to watch how she is constantly connecting the dots and building on her existing foundations.

i dig her and i suspect you all will too.

enjoy!




tell me a bit about who you are?  

i carry a sense of calm, and am extremely introspective. i have a creative pulse that is always driving me towards adventure and new experiences.  i am constantly seeking to cultivate real connections. i am crazy in love (and a newlywed). i can be messy and emotional, but i always strive for a sense of peace. 

what do you do?  

engineer and photographer

no, but really, beyond the title, what do you do? 

i am a creative problem solver. i spent most of my life applying this skill to math problems. now i am much more interested in people and relationships, and how to apply my creativity and problem solving skills in a way that can serve others. 

i capture people’s stories.  i try to document truth. often Ii may not even know what that truth is, but can simply bear witness to real people, having real moments, and the story will be told.   

when you look around at your life, is this what you expected?  are you surprised by it? if so, by what and why? 

in a lot of ways my life is NOT AT ALL what i expected. i spent 5 years of school working towards the “dream job” i now have as an engineer for a corporate company and find myself more passionate about wedding photography. 
  
but at the end of the day i feel like i am where i belong. 

i have always been a person who never settles, who always drives to seek more out of life.  it is not surprising at all that i got to the goal i had previously set only to find my passions have changed and i need to work towards a new one.   

i think the most surprising thing, truly, is the richness of relationships i have in my life.  the love i found with my husband, with the tribe of woman that i am honoured to be a part of that uplift and support each other, and how photography has lead me into forming connections with so many brilliant and inspiring strangers i wouldn’t have met otherwise. 

what would most people be surprised to find out about you? 

i relay calmness but am often internally frazzled!  (i most definitely misplaced something in my bag, have no idea where my car keys are, have unmatched socks because i haven’t done laundry in a month, most likely have gone way too long without showering, and found a food stain from lunch on my shirt).   
though i am sure the people who truly know me are not at all surprised by any of that.  

what has been the peak experience(s) in your life thus far? why? how did it change you? 

working at a camp in northern minnesota; when i was 21 i spent a summer in the woods with about 30 other young adults as counselors at an outdoor youth ministry camp.  my future husband and many of my most cherished friendships would come from that group.  that summer taught me to value nature, living simply, rooting relationships in faith, and above all, making decisions outside of fear. when i walked away from that summer, i had a renewed sense of confidence and self awareness, and i made a lot of significant changes in my life.

what are you passionate about? curious about? 

i am passionate about people. i am passionate about being a storyteller and documenting truths. i am passionate about travel and adventure. i am passionate about pursuing answers; give me something complex and let me unravel it.   

i am curious as to whether there is a way to combine my two unique talents and my love for serving into a dream job?  like, could i do water treatment projects and use my photography to share the stories and lives it was affecting, simultaneously helping and giving a voice?  hmmm…

what are the qualities that truly matter to you? which ones do you fully embody? which ones are missing or needing to be more fully expressed? 

i am drawn to people who live fully and authentically.  for me, i seem to always have an existential sense of purpose and mission, and it provides a constant drive and a lot of self expression. (unfortunately, it also tends to make me ignore things that i don’t find purposeful, like doing the dishes…oops)  

i am drawn towards vulnerability. people who are not afraid to expose their souls and loudly proclaim they are human, flaws and scars and all. this is something i am striving to express. 

also, i really want to live simply. but it is harder than it sounds. actually a lot of stuff is made to make life simpler, so living simply requires a dedication to doing things the hard way. i am constantly battling the urge to buy into modern conveniences and to live a life that is more stripped down.  

if you could sit down with a woman you greatly admire, what one question would you ask? 

i am a romantic at heart, and i spend so much time with couples in love, digging into their beautiful stories.  more than meeting a famous person and hearing about their successes, i would definitely want to sit down with my ancestors and ask about their young love, and life and passions. perhaps dig up the images from their past that made their hearts sing.  (oh this is sounding like a project in the making!)  

do you have a dream, a wish or a “to-do” that you are currently resisting? if yes, and you feel ready to share it, what is it? why do you think the resistance is there? 

full time photography.  WHOA. right now it just feels so big. because i am a problem solver i tend to want to have all the variables in front of me, but because i am a creative i long for adventures. i am stuck in a space of simultaneously craving and resisting the unknown.    

you are at your best when you are:  

traveling.

when you are in that space of being your best, the exact thing you are doing, most often is: 

writing, reflecting, drinking coffee, observing, creating, just simply being.  

and, last but not least, you know i love a beautiful string of words so, please, share a quote that moves and shakes you. 

we lit a fire under ourselves when we got to talking…and if it weren’t for that, we’d still be sitting at home; floating, and not swimming. 
~our wild abandon


if you want to check out/be inspired by some more of jessica's work, you can head on over to light and love stories. and, trust me, it is definitely worth a look.



 

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