Monthly Archives: February 2014

behind the scenes: studio to street

PN - Mackenzie

it’s spring, ’14! What we’re loving right now: our fantastic new styles and colors, and how great they look both on and off the mat. Here’s a little peek at the behind the scenes from this week’s Product Notification shoot with Mackenzie as she shows us how she’s styling some of her favorite pieces this season.

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trail running vs. road running…

…the great debate amongst runners. Which is better? Everyone seems to have a very distinct opinion on the matter, based on their own personal experience or style of running. But in reality, the two are so different that, arguably, they’re as comparable as baseball and football – sure, both involve teams, a ball, and a lot of running, but apart from that, they’re two entirely separate sports. Similar situation here. Different culture, different community, different challenges and different successes. So if trail running really is that different from road running, what makes it so, and do these changes make it in any way better?

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Trail running has seen a remarkable rise in popularity over recent years, especially as competitive runners are looking towards it as a way to protect their joints and avoid injuries. As one who is currently sitting on some pretty impressive shin splints, I can understand the logic that goes into that one. But, beyond injury prevention, what makes trail running different from road running? Personally, I dig the view – trail running is another great excuse to get out into some green, see the woods, get lost, maybe find yourself somewhere up a mountain. It’s also a little bit more of a sweat, since you’re running on uneven terrain, and working harder to stay balanced on your running surface. This is also strengthening your core, and improving your overall sense of balance. Finally, it gives you some time of peace and focus. There are a lot fewer ipods and fancy run trackers out on the trails, and a lot more silence, solitude, and focus. When else in our daily lives do we allow ourselves to unplug, tune out, turn off, and get out?

That being said, there are a few distinct advantages and disadvantages to both:

Trail Runningpros: softer surface, causing less injury and joint pain; more muscles worked and more effort exerted due to a more difficult terrain; time in green space is proven to improve your mood; your brain engages more when running on an unpredictable surface; and it’s much better for your lungs than running on the side of a busy road. cons: the unevenness of grass or trails leads to a higher risk of ankle injury; it’s not always the safest option, since you are so secluded, and especially at night; also, it requires a lot more time and preparation – you usually have to drive to a trail, while there always tend to be roads nearby.

Road Runningpros: it’s easier to get more mileage under your belt with a paved, steady terrain; most big races are road races, so you’ll be more prepared for those; a road or paved surface is almost always available to run on; and it’s not likely to be as steep, or if it is, it will at least be far more predictable of a course. consconstantly pounding the pavement in the same motion for miles and miles a day will cause injuries much quicker; and roadside fumes of vehicles can do damage to your well-trained runner’s lungs.

In Conclusion: both are awesome. Trail running might be a little better for your joints. But road running is much more accessible, especially for those who are short on time. So rock both options. Keep your 6 am runs around the neighborhood during the week, and maybe schedule some time to get out to Hanging Rock or even a local park with your dog or spouse over the weekend. In this, as with all things, balance is the key.

 

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food love: the seasonal compromise

last time I was in Whole Foods, I noticed that the woman who was ringing my groceries up had a pin on her apron that said something along the lines of “I ate a salad today, how about you?” Well, of course: I had a blended salad for breakfast, a sauteed salad for lunch, and a roasted salad for dinner. But the pin got me thinking – during the winter, I get so excited for a steaming meal of warm, filling veggies (often of the root variety), and forget about my deep love for a plain, simple, cold raw salad bowl. And while there is absolutely not a thing wrong with cooking, roasting, steaming, or otherwise preparing your vegetables, sometimes I get the craving for the fresh, light, hydrating and nourishing feel of a raw salad. I miss the summer, where I could happily eat bowls of raw salad for all meals of the day, but in the colder months my body just always seems to crave more. So this is a seasonal compromise salad: it’s raw, yes, light airy and delicious, yes, but it’s also got a pinch of heaviness to it, it has substance, and it’s also got a light sweetness to it that helps to satisfy my on-going winter sweet tooth (which has been thoroughly showcased in every food post on this blog thusfar…). One of the things that helps to make this salad into more of a light and comfortably digestible dish is that instead of being just straight up raw, the kale is massaged with sea salt and olive oil, which simply means you give the raw kale a pinch of both (or just warm water, if you’d rather), and run it down for a few minutes before making your salad. This helps to break up the roughness of this fantastic green just a little bit, making it a little less hard and chewy.

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So, to make the salad, simple massage your kale, and then toss it into a giant salad bowl with:

1 can chickpeas

1/4 cup of chopped red onion

1/4 cup of crumbled cauliflower

1 sliced avocado

1.5 tbsp sesame seeds

and then I made a little dressing-ette, combining a generous squirt of honey, some warm water, and sea salt in a jar, stirring it up well, and splashing that over the salad, just to give it a little bit of sweetness, and the honey always seems to really accentuate the flavor of the chickpeas beautifully.

So, there you have it! A simple winter salad that will hopefully help you rekindle your love for raw food bowls as we reach that final stretch towards springtime.

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benefits of yoga…

… as if we needed more reasons to practice.

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the chakra system: an overview

in honor of our amazing chakra mat (tragically not in the showroom… but definitely worth an online order!), a post breaking down the basic idea of the chakra system seemed to be well warranted. Once you read up on the chakras and the function of the chakra system, go take this quiz… it’s a pretty cool indicator of how open certain chakras are in your life!

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So what is the chakra system? In the most basic terms, the chakras are seven centers, through which energy flows in our body. An energy blockage in a certain chakra can lead to emotional, or even physical, ailments, and for that reason it’s important to know how to open each center and let energy flow through it. There are seven different chakras, each located in a particular station of your body, and each marked by a specific color and a distinct set of mental and emotional attributes.

1. Root Chakra – what is it? Located at the base of the spine, this chakra focuses on feeling grounded and at home, stable and secure, and present in this moment and in your physical body. The color associated with this chakra is red. what does it do? An under-active root chakra can cause fear or nervousness, particularly surrounding food and money; whereas too much activity here can cause excessive materialism, greed, and a resistance to change. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a whole lotta bridge pose can help to open up this lower spinal area. Try simply being mindful of your grounding, both in yoga and in your everyday life – be conscious of where you’re touching the ground, what’s rooting you, and how firm you are in that grounding… and during that mindfulness, eat lot of red and root fruits and veggies (apples, beets, carrots).

2. Sacral Chakra – what is it? Located in the lower abdomen, this beautiful little chakra is what leads us to our feelings. It’s the center of energy for our relationships, as well as our sense of self. The color associated with this chakra is orange. what does it do? An under-active sacral chakra can lead to a stiffness and unwillingness to be open in relationships, and a happily open sacral chakra will leave us with a secure sense of abundance and the freedom to “let go” of excessive control or withheld emotion. how to balance it? Cow face pose is a good one for opening the sacral chakra, and it’s also a really easy one to just hang out it (confession: I’m sitting in it while typing this post!). Pigeon and other hip openers are also great for opening up this area, as long as they feel gentle and natural, never forced or strained. While you’re hanging out in pigeon or cow-faced, munch on some oranges or nuts if you feel like your sacral chakra needs further opening.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra – what is it? Located in the upper abdomen, this chakra is what controls our sense of self-esteem, our confidence, and also our contentment with life. A well-balanced solar plexus chakra leads us to feeling confident, secure, and in-control. The color associated with this chakra is yellow. what does it do? An under-active solar plexus chakra can lead you to be passive and indecisive, feeling the need to constantly self-sacrifice and be liked, but over-activity in this chakra can lead to a domineering and aggressive nature. how to balance it? Boat pose, and other abdominal based poses, are good for opening up this chakra, and a good round of warriors or sun salutes can re-ground you in a strong sense of empowerment and well-being. Or, simply sit and sip on some peppermint tea, and breathe into the incredible being that you are.

4. Heart Chakra – what is it? Spoiler alert here, guys… this chakra is located at the heart, and deals mostly with our ability to love. Way out of left field, this one. But still, incredibly important to know and understand, especially because it is the bridge that connects our lower and higher beings. Balance is so crucial to achieve in this station of energy, just as a love balance is crucial to achieve in life. The color of this chakra is green. what does it do? An under-active heart chakra can lead to feeling cold and distant in relationships, as well as loneliness and shyness; but over-activity in this station can lead to co-dependency, “love smothering,” and entering into emotional relationships for selfish reasons. how to balance it? Yoga-wise, a lot of backbends will help to open up the heart chakra, as well as Eagle Pose.Eat lots of leafy greens, like kale and spinach, and drink green teas (but you should absolutely always do these things anyway…) and mostly just love. Having a daily, active, strong practice of pure, honest, selfless love is the best way to balance this chakra, and your life.

5. Throat Chakra – what is it? Located in the throat, this chakra is our center for communication, self-expression, and openness. Generally, there is an association with an artistic sense of self-expression, and a great verbal diplomacy. It is the center through which we convey our inner self to the outside world.The color of this chakra is light blue. what does it do? An under-active throat chakra can lead you to be quiet, withdrawn, and afraid of speaking out or expressing your opinions; however, an over-active throat chakra can lead to controlling, judgmental, and hurtful speech, as well as being a bad listener. how to balance it? Lots of shoulder stands, or plow pose, can be really helpful in opening up this chakra. Also, drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruit, and singing as much as possible. Three things that are, in my opinion, necessary components of a happy and healthy life at all times!

6. Third Eye Chakra – what is it? The third eye chakra is located on the forehead, between the eyes, and is the center for our perception. It is this chakra that allows us to focus, to see the bigger picture, and to perceive spiritual matters. The color of this chakra is indigo. what does it do? An under-active third eye chakra can result in problems thinking for yourself or forming your own opinions, and may lead to cloudy thoughts or dull understandings; however, if this chakra is under-active, you may find yourself fantasizing and dreaming too much, instead of being present and aware in this moment. how to balance it? To balance this chakra, the best recommendation I can give would be to take time to sit still, close your eyes, and really be drawn in to your mind and senses. Do a few supported forward-bends, and while doing so, meditate on positive images of yourself and your life.

7. Crown Chakra what is it? The seventh and final chakra is located at the very crown of your head, and is your center for consciousness and enlightenment. It is in this center that you connect to the spiritual world, allows you to tap fully into the wisdom that is available to you, and to truly be one with the world. The color for this chakra is violet. what does it do? It balances the way that you know and understand the spiritual matters of the world – if this chakra is under-active, then you may find yourself less spiritually aware, and perhaps more rigid and closed off to matters regarding spirituality. However, if this chakra is over-active, you may find yourself living too much in your head, over-intellectualising matters and maybe becoming a little egotistical. how to balance it? Run! At last, cardio meets the chakras. The saying “running to clear your head” is literally exactly what this chakra calls for – run, and engage in other cardiovascular activities to balance out your crown chakra. Also, fresh air, sunshine, and meditation help with the clearing and balance of this energy center.

If you wanted to do a bit more reading or research on the chakra system, I found that mindbodygreen has some really fascinating articles on the subject, and the yoga journal has a cool article breaking down the function of the chakras and suggesting asanas to balance them out. Enjoy!  

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link love for the remnants of winter

we got our big snow of the season in, so now maybe we can start looking towards spring? I don’t know about you, but I’m really ready for running shorts and tank tops, all day every day. Until then, though, here are a few fantastic links to get you through the last of these winter days!

– in an attempt to celebrate winter while it’s still here, this delicious cocktail is an awesome way to savor the flavor of the season… and an excellent reason to throw a dinner party!

– and if that doesn’t work, one of my favorite bloggers wrote this helpful list on how to fight the winter blues.

– STILL feeling chilly? Here are a few simple foods to keep you warm in the winter.

this little article really helped remind me how important it is to say “thank you”… to anyone and everyone!

– needing something sweet to make? check these beauties out… and make sure to bring a few by the showroom if you have extras!

– craving adventure, or even just a little change? read this, and then do something once a day that scares you.

– I thought that this was an awesome post-Valentine’s Day read… a great reminder that love lies in the simple things, the little details, not always just the grand gestures. Too beautiful. If you’re here, savor it. If you’re not, hope in it, and wait for it.

– and finally, even though things aren’t quite in bloom yet, here are some beautifully simple flower arrangements to brighten up your space.

have a fantastic week, lovelies!

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behind the scenes: Tony and Grace

happy day of love! Hopefully you’re out enjoying your beloved one, your beautiful family, or your incredible self on this day, but if you happen to glance at the internet in between all that love you’re out radiating, here are a few photos that will hopefully inspire you even more towards love, balance, and unity on this day! Tony and Grace, who are absolutely Greensboro’s fitness power couple, were kind enough to agree to do a couples yoga shoot for our Product Notification this week, and I’m so glad that they did, because we had a blast. They came prepared, with a list of well crafted and practiced poses that they could do together, and all that I had to do was sit and snap the shutter as these two demonstrated how beautifully in-sync they are. So gander these, glean some inspiration, and then grab your mat (and maybe your loved one?) and get out and yoga!

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and, of course, I had to include this last one… just to make the rest of us feel better. There were a few tiny tumbles along the way… but that’s what made it all so much more fun!

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love and chocolate in the air

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a box of chocolates is nice, but what’s even nicer is a plate of homemade chocolates… and fortunately, with all this snow, we’ve all got plenty of time to whip up a few decadent red surprises for our Valentine this year! I love giving (and eating) homemade sweets because 1) you know exactly what is in them, 2) they’re made from scratch with love,  3) you can modify them however you would like! Plus, you get to spend time in the kitchen… another project can only be an added bonus, as we may all be snowed in for a little while. So, here are a few recipes that I put together for this year’s Valentines Day celebration – all, as always, gluten free, whole foods based, and as healthy as chocolate goodness can be. Enjoy!

1. Red Velvet Macaroons

red velvet cake is heaven, but cakes can be tricky to deal with. Red velvet cupcakes are amazing, but sometimes just a little too crumbly. Red velvet cookies are simply not as exciting. But red velvet macaroons – they’re perfection. Bite sized, chewy, sweet, and dipped in dark chocolate. What more could you ever want?

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1 beet

1 cup almond flour

3 egg whites

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup cacoa powder

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt

1 cup dark chocolate

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To Make: Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl, except for the dark chocolate. Now for the beet… any red velvet recipes I’ve found have called for a juiced beet, but I have a lot of mixed feelings about juicing beets, especially because the juice pictured above is all I got from juicing a beet, which wasn’t nearly enough to color all of my coconut flakes red. I ended up taking another beet and just grating it into the mix, which worked to color everything perfectly and also added a little bit of fluffiness and moisture to the macaroons. If you’re a more talented juicer than I apparently am, go for the beet juice. If not, I don’t think that grated beet hurts the recipe one small bit. Once the beet is added in, mix all of the wet ingredients in another bowl, making sure to beat the egg whites well, and then stir them into the mix. Grease a baking pan with coconut oil, form the dough into round little red balls, and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Once they’re finished baking, you’ll have to give them a little while to cool down, otherwise they’ll absolutely crumble all over the place… I let them sit for about an hour while I started on the next recipe, but use your discretion. Once they’re completely cool, melt the dark chocolate in a saucepan over the stove,  and dip the macaroons in. Let cool (again) and serve. Or eat all while standing up in the kitchen. Your choice.

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2. Red Mimosas

because you need something to sip on while you’re doing all of this baking! These were a little bit of a happy accident for me, because I needed something to do with the extra beet juice from my previously mentioned juicing catastrophe. Very simple, very delicious, very red and seasonal.

Ingredients:

1 grapefruit

1 beet

1 tbsp honey

handful of raspberries

champagne

To Make: Peel the grapefruit, and throw it into a juicer. Do the same with a beet. Pour those into a mason jar, and squeeze in some warm honey. Stir until completely dissolved, and then fill half of your champagne glass with the juice, and the other with the bubbly. Garnish with raspberries, and enjoy!

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3. Raspberry Chocolate Cake

or, the most delicious thing in the universe. Surprisingly low in ingredients, relatively low in sugar, and extremely easy to make!

Ingredients:

1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

4 eggs

2 cups almond flour

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup honey

1 cup cacao powder

1 tsp baking soda

and for the topping:

1 cup coconut cream (trader joe’s has the best ever)

1 cup dark chocolate

a pinch of sea salt & some fresh raspberries

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To Make: For the cake: throw everything into a food processor. Once it’s all smooth, chocolatey, and delicious looking, grease a cake pan (or bread tin…) with coconut oil, and pour it in. Let it bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes, I let it bake about 30 because I’m a huge fan of the beloved Gooey Middle, but some people like their baked goods fully baked, hence the sliding scale of times. Once it’s baked, remove the cake from the oven, let it cool, and flip it out onto a platter. Then, for the topping: Scoop the coconut cream into a saucepan, add in the dark chocolate, and let cook over the stove until they blend together into smooth goodness. Then, let cool for 3-4 minutes, and pour over the cake. Top with a sprinkling of sea salt and some fresh raspberries. If you’re feeling extra sweet, or have a large crowd to feed, make two cakes, ice the first, put the second one on top of the first, and then ice them both! Too good.

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Enjoy, y’all! Happy snow day, and the happiest of Valentine’s Days!

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the power of a pause

apparently, despite all of the crazy rushing and running around that we do, it has officially become cool to take breaks. Multitasking may be on its way out, and being present might just be the Next Big Thing. Poorna Bell from The Huffington Post gave us this beautiful article in which she talks about toning down, dialing out, and maybe even taking a full breath once in a while. The article poses the question “could the age of burnout be over?” and I for one sure hope so. Bell says that “people are beginning to take stock of their lives and take time out for themselves,” and our own Ruby Warrington, who wrote this article for our awesome blog, adds a nice touch to this idea by adding the idea of “being fully aware that I am not “supposed” to be anywhere but here right now.” 

It’s cool to be in the moment, guys.

It’s cool to breathe in. To breathe out. To smile. To put down the phone when you’re driving, and notice the trees. To stop taking constant stock of today’s to-dos, and instead kiss the person you woke up next to. To look the grocery bagger in the eyes, and see if they’re having a good day. It’s cool to connect. Cool to walk slowly, even though you have places to be. It’s cool to miss out on what you should be doing, and instead focus on what you truly need. It’s cool to be wearing yoga pants and eating popcorn, instead of wearing stilettos at a loud party (thank goodness…). It’s cool to actually stand up for what you want.

Maybe that means cancel an appointment to go take a yoga class. Maybe it means skipping a yoga class to go home and read a book. Maybe it means watching a movie in bed. Maybe it means turning off the tv and baking cookies. Maybe it means turning off your phone for the day, or maybe it means picking up the phone to call a friend. Whatever it looks like for you, it means being present.

It doesn’t mean be lazy – it means be present. Be active, because your heart was created to pump. Work hard, because you were given an awesome purpose in this life, and it’s your job to rock it. Do your best, because you can. But don’t stress over it. Don’t rush through life, so focused on pushing forward that you completely miss what’s happening now.

Breathe in deeply. Appreciate the moment. This, this moment, it’s all we have. It is now, here we are in now, and this is it. Neither the past nor the future have anything tangible to offer. Life is literally completely encompassed in this one moment.

Sufi literature compares the moment to a sword, dangerous when misused, but powerful and strong when understood and handled wisely. A lifetime of missed moments accumulates quickly, so stop wasting them, starting now. Just be here. That’s all you have to do. In the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Zen monk and meditation master, he focuses on the idea of this moment as the ultimate, on being here as being all that you need – you have arrived. He says that “as you breathe in, you practice arriving. You have arrived. Your destination is the here and now. In daily life, you are in the habit of running because you think happiness is impossible in the present,” but that instead of constantly running, trying to attain happiness, we need simply to breathe in and realize that we are here, we have arrived in happiness, in the moment, and this is where we are to constantly dwell.

So, here we are guys. This is it. Appreciate your lives, moment by moment, starting right now.

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book review: the happiness project

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this isn’t always the easiest time of year to sit down and read a book – it seems like these early months of the year always bring with them the largest amount of “stuff” to tend to. However, if you can find the time for one book this season, I highly recommend you make it Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” Well-researched, organized, funny, insightful, and so very applicable, this book did an amazing job of boosting my spirits, as well as re-aligning my outlook on life. Here are just a few of the lessons I took away from it, and once you read it (or if you’ve already read it), I’d love to hear what spoke to you most!

1. Hug more – for some reason, this was the lesson that stuck out to me the most from this book. I remember very distinctly being at Whole Foods when reading this little section on hugging, and immediately wracking my brain for who in my life was close enough for a quick and easy hug fix. Sounds alarming, but it was that compelling – apparently, hugging is actually a really healthy activity in which to engage. Six seconds of hugging “is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding,” and hugging “relieves stress, boosts feelings of closeness, and even squelches pain. In one study, people assigned to give five hugs each day for a month, aiming to hug as many different people as they could, became happier.” So get out and hug someone.

2. Love is shown through actions – Gretchen quotes Pierre Reverdy in her chapter on love, saying “‘There is no love; there are only proofs of love.’ Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will only see my actions.” This segues excellently from the first lesson – hug more, as a proof of love. But this is a solid and meaningful truth, and one that I often forget. No matter how much we may love a person, they only see that love manifested through our actions towards and around them. Be it gifts, acts of service, or simply taking time to look someone in the eye and let them know that you see and acknowledge them as a beautiful and meaningful individual, I think that we could all benefit by trying to incorporate more of these love-actions into our daily lives.

3. Aim higher, and don’t EVER be stopped by fear of failure – this final mini-lesson is such a crucial, and constantly applicable, one. The book has an entire chapter about what it means to try and “aim higher,” as well as some different ways to do this, but the one that stuck out the most to me was to try to enjoy the fun of failure, instead of fearing it. So often, we’re held back from our dreams by one thing, and one thing only: ourselves. Our fear, our anxiety, our worry, these things prevent us from ever even trying. So what if we learned to look at failure as fun, instead of terrifying. Gretchen says, “To counteract the this fear, I told myself, ‘I enjoy the fun of failure.’ It’s fun to fail, I kept repeating. It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative.” To fail means we tried something beyond our comfort zone, learned something about ourselves, and built a foundation on which to try again. Maybe it’s trying a yoga inversion for the first time, signing up for a marathon, starting your own blog, or whatever else it could be, don’t ever let fear of failure keep you from living your life to the fullest.

Those are just a little smattering of the lessons I gleaned from this lovely read, but there are millions more in there, some great moments and truly insightful musings. The book follows Gretchen as she cleans closets, sings through stress, and pursues happiness in every corner of her life, and I feel like along the way, she stumbles across some great tools for truly living in, and loving, the moment.

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