2017 - A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2017, I attended a "New Year Desire Map" Workshop. I'm no stranger to workshops and retreats that focus on personal development, but this one gave me a new perspective on setting goals and intentions.  Instead of focusing on the things we wanted to achieve, accomplish, or attain - our facilitator asked us to first think about how we wanted those things to make us feel. What is at the core of those goals and desires? How will achieving this goal make us feel? Excited? Empowered? Independent? 
Once we gained clarity on that, we dove into our core feelings which paved the way for intention setting. (*This was a 2-day workshop so there is more to it than that but you get the gist right?) 

This was going to be a big year of transition and personal development. I was just a few weeks away from giving my workplace an exit notice and I was excited but anxious. Ready yet feeling unprepared. I was in a tug of war with mind and spirit, and who was winning changed at every moment. I pushed that baggage out of my mind for the workshop and wrote down how I wanted to feel and my intentions for the new year. These were my conclusions.

"I want to feel brave, committed, aligned, impactful and confident."

2017 Intentions

  • I will believe in myself as a creative human. 
  • I will commit to improving my skills in writing and photography. 
  • I will drop comparison and substitute support and encouragement. 
  • I will believe that abundance is TRUTH and that there is room for one more. 
  • I will kick fear out of the driver's seat. 
  • I will manifest and create the vision of my life I've had for years. 

This year I felt the weight of my privilege, exacerbated by the fact that I was able to quit my job and go on a personal quest for meaningful work.  Not having a full time job (which I had previously latched on to as 'my purpose') to go to every day played with my ego. Amend that- it's still playing with my ego, but I'm consciously working on it. I feel like I'm on the right track but I constantly have to check my inner saboteurs. They like to tell me I'm not good enough, that I will never make enough money freelancing, that I should probably go back to a steady 8-5......
Honestly, that has been the biggest challenge of the year wasn't quitting my job.

The biggest challenge was believing in myself.

 Photo By Nick Lake 

Photo By Nick Lake 

Even in moments of self-doubt, I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for, especially as I reflect on the friendships, community and experiences the last year has given me. 

TRAVEL: The Universe willing, travel will always be a significant part of the year.


2017 Travel Itenerary

February: Cannon Beach, OR, girls winter road trip
March: Monterey, CA, to celebrate my mom's birthday@ | Olympic Peninsula, another girl's trip (this was definitely the year of building strong female friendships!) | Oahu, HI, to warm up, visit friends & swim with sharks
May: Italy, Belgium & London
June: France, my best friend flew over from Seattle and we journeyed through Paris, Dijon, Annecy and Aix-En-Provence. 
July: Wallowa, Oregon, one of my favorite backpacking trips to date | Salt Lake City + Bonneville Flats Utah, for Outdoor Retailer
August: Orcas Island, San Juan Islands for Doe Bay Fest | Lake Tahoe, CA for our annual family vacation
September: Lake Tahoe, CA  | Tofino, BC
November: Yosemite, CA for my grandmother's 97th birthday! | Sunshine Coast, BC | Vancouver, BC
December: Ventura, CA, for a beachy Christmas with family

2 months in Europe was the highlight of my year. I got to travel with all of my favorite people (family, husband, and best friend) while making new friendships with host families and locals. There are so many places and cultures I'm keen to visit and learn about. Next up? New Zealand to kick off 2018!  

A few of my favorite photos from Europe. 

And back home in Seattle....

  • I got a coach. 
    Shane Eubank
     is my work/life coach and we check in and chat bi-weekly. He has challenged me to define and live by my values, helps hold me accountable, quiet my sabetours and inspires me to dream BIG.  
  • I have a workspace that isn't my kitchen table.
    Freelancing/working from home can feel ultra isolating and lonely. Thankfully I have enough friends that are also freelancers and a few of them decided that working together is way better than working separately. They started a co-working space called Treefort and it's a motivating and supportive space and community to go to every week. 
  • I joined the She Explores team.
    She Explores is a website and podcast for "Inquisitive women in the outdoors, on the road, and besides." The founder Gale has built and nurtured an incredible community of women from all parts of the Globe and I'm thrilled to be assisting with content. 
  • I focused in on what I REALLY want to do with photography.
    I explored with types of photography but found myself right back where (and why) I started. My inspiration always points back to outdoor spaces and people. Recently, I've been drawn to women entrepreneurs and creatives. I want to shine a light on their gifts and promote their talents. I'm also setting an intention to begin photographing retreats, specifically women retreats and those centered around personal development and health and wellness (like, a yoga retreat in Norway?! #manifesting). 

As the year comes to an end, I'm reflecting on how I want to feel in 2018, and what intentions will rise from those feelings. How do YOU want to feel in 2018? Is there a goal or intention you're looking to accomplish? 

Checking In: Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut, Mt. Tahoma Trails Association

Staying at Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is the closest I've come to winter camping. And really, I only compare it to camping because I slept on the floor and I had to hike in to get there. Otherwise, this hut provides all the luxuries that camping doesn't; an outhouse, a kitchen, and four walls to keep the cold out.

It's simple, out of cell reception, and a perfect weekend getaway from the city. 

 Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Getting to theTrailhead:
2.5 hour drive to the town of Elbe from Seattle.  

From Elbe, drive east on SR 706 towards Ashofrd for about 8 miles.  Turn right just before the Baptist Church at DNR Road 1. 

Road 1 leads straight to the Sno-Parks for the south district of Mount Tahoma Trails Association. Proceed six miles from 706 following the Sno-Park signs to the Upper Sno-Park. 

Note: A Washington State Sno-Parks permit is needed in the winter (November 1 to April 30). You can purchase a $40 annual non-motorized sno-park permit which is good for the year, or a daily $20 sno-park permit. The daily permit can only be used with a WA State Discover Pass. You can buy a pass at Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford or online here.

The Hike to the Hut: 
The trek is approximately 4 miles long with 2,400 feet of elevation gain.  It's a consistent climb almost the entire way and I definitely found myself winded at various points.

It was uncharacteristically warm and sunny so we shred layers within the first mile. I welcomed the sunshine, even though I was blinded because somehow all my sunglasses disappeared after summer? 

We hit a large patch of dirt half way on the trail, so we had to remove our snowshoes and skis. The rest of the way up was smooth although the combination of warmer days and cooler nights made the trail icy at points. 

Be sure to check the road and trail conditions on the Mount Tahoma Trails Association website or their twitter feed for the most recent updates.


About the Hut:
After 4 miles of hiking and a few hours daydreaming about my sandwich, we arrived at the hut. It's maintained by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association volunteers and open to the public from 7am-7pm. Reservations and a whopping $15 are required to stay the night. Our party rented out the entire space (which sleeps 14), so we enjoyed the hut to ourselves.

There is a spacious kitchen stocked with utensils, cookware, and a four burner range-top so bring something to cook for dinner. The living room includes huge couches that are perfect for afternoon naps, and an absurd amount of games and puzzles in case you need to be pre-occupied (remember, no cell service!) A propane fireplace keeps the space perpetually warm and it's also used to melt snow for water. 

Upstairs are a few bunk beds but our group opted to take the provided sleeping pads and pile them into the open room for a giant slumber party. It reminded me of our summer camp trip to the Salt Flats, except we had the comfort of the cabin and I wasn't worried about desert bugs.  One downside is that the bathrooms are located outside the cabin, but it's a small price to pay and at least it's stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer! 

 Photo by  Nick Lake

Photo by Nick Lake

What to Bring: 

  • Sleeping bag
  • Food
  • Warm Clothing
    • Wool socks & slippers!
  • Headlamp 
  • Bluetooth speaker for tunes
  • Hand & feet warmers
  • Camera & tripod
  • Journal
  • A good book

The Verdict: If you're a fair weather camper like me, Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is a great way to get outside for an overnighter in the winter.  It's priced really low (regardless if you're sleeping on the floor) and is a doable weekend trip. Reservations go fast but there are still a few weekdays available in January and February. Gather a few adventurous friends and book a stay! 

 Clear skies give way for great astrophotography! 

Clear skies give way for great astrophotography! 

Self Care Practices for the Winter Season

Self-care means paying attention to and supporting our physical, mental and spiritual health. 

It's a daily practice and one that's easy to dismiss in times of stress and busy schedules. It's so important to integrate into our routines in order to be present in our relationships, work, and purpose. Let's get a few things straight; self-care is not selfish and you can make time for it.  We just need to step outside the cultural pressure to keep pushing ourselves, and start to listen to the physical and emotional needs of our mind, body and spirit.

 All Photos by  Laura Hughes  -  Radiant Spirit Coaching Desire Map Workshop

All Photos by Laura Hughes -  Radiant Spirit Coaching Desire Map Workshop

Because we all have different lifestyles, personalities, and priorities, self-care practices look different for everyone.  Below is a short list of practices that I'm engaging in for self-love and nourishing this season. Maybe you'll try them with me? And let me know your favorite self-care practices in the comments below! 

Self-Care for the Mind

1.) Mindfulness: Everyday we confront situations that pull us out of the harmony we are trying to live in. Pausing to find mindfulness is a challenge. How do we slow down and stay present with the world of noise we're living in? The answer may be with mindfulness practice. Here are 2 mindfulness practices I'm currently engaged in: 

  • Beginning the Day Technology Free: I wake up at 4:45 am Monday-Friday, and most days I have an urge to check email, read the NY times, scroll through Instagram etc. On the days I give in, I feel frantic from the get-go. Instead of beginning the morning with intention, I bring the chaos of the outer world into my inner world. I've started to set a second alarm that reminds me to not log in to accounts until it has gone off.  My mornings are now limited (in the best way) to activities that feel nourishing. 
  • Practicing One Task at a Time:  Anyone guilty of trying to do five things at once throughout the day? (Raising my hands!) I hold a false belief that I'm being more productive if I can learn to juggle. What actually ends up happening is my energy gets displaced and I accomplish fewer things. To battle the urge to do multiple things at once, I've started using Toggl to time my tasks, and only keep one tab open when I'm working on the computer. That way I'm not compelled to click on other websites and get off track. 

2.) Yoga Nidra: Also known as "yogic sleep", this yoga practice is one of ultimate relaxation. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows the body to enter a state of blissful rest. Practicing yoga nidra can help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. It's incredibly accessible and a simple practice. If you have a floor to lie down on, and 5-10 minutes free in your schedule, you can start today! Click below for a free guided practice with yogi Elena Brower.


3.) Set Boundaries: Brene Brown says "daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."  Setting boundaries with your time, relationships, or work protects your vital energy.  It's ok, more than ok, to say no to a request if it's going to compromise your energy. Be polite with the decline and trust that true friends will understand you love them, but are tending to your personal needs.  

Self-Care for the Body

1.) Dry Brushing: Dry brushing is a great detox practice as it boosts circulation, sweeps away dead skin cells, stimulates the lymph nodes, and help the cells and body in general remove waste. It's energizing, so it's best to dry brush in the morning to get those benefits. Start at the feet and work up towards the heart, brushing for 3-5 minutes and shower off after your done.

2.) Keep Moving:  Exercise boosts the mood, elevates our energy, and battles stress. Even with that knowledge, I lean towards sitting next to a space heater in my sweats all day during winter. I've been able to combat that heavy, discouraging feeling by maintaining my morning workouts. Part of my daily routine after waking up is to get caffeinated and start moving whether it's a swim, yoga practice or run. I know that I will feel better mentally and physically and the positive effects cascade into my day. 

 Photo by Supri at Take a Pix Media 

Photo by Supri at Take a Pix Media 

3.) Infrared Sauna Therapy: An infrared sauna is said to be 70% more effective than a dry sauna when it comes to expelling toxins. The major difference between the two is a dry sauna heats the air around you, while an infrared heats the body at a cellular level. Sounds scary but I promise it's not. A 45-minute sweat provides the benefits of improved circulation, skin rejuvenation, relaxation, decreased muscle tension. And honestly, it just feels good to be in a warm space when it's cold outside!

Self-Care for the Soul

Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

1.) Get Creative: Vision board, watercolor, pick up an instrument, daydream, knit, enroll in a drawing or cooking class, dance it out - do something that is not work-related or an obligation. I reject the idea that 'some people are creative and others aren't.' We are ALL creative beings. Use this time to find out how you want to express yourself. 

 Photo by  Laura Hughes  -  Radiant Spirit Coaching Desire Map Workshop

2.) Read a Novel: Less than ideal weather keeping you inside? Instead of reaching for technology, how about settling down with a good book? If you're feeling really motivated, start a winter book club, complete with tasty snacks and some heart healthy wine. 

3.) Stay in Touch with Friends (In Real Life):  Busy and conflicting schedules make it easy to resort to texting or checking in with friends via social media.  But real life connection has a lasting positive affect on the brain. Bonus points if you're getting outside during the visit. Get a group of your closest together for a hike or a weekend stroll through the farmers market. 

Your turn! What self-care practices are you currently engaging in? Or, what's holding you back from self-care. Leave your questions or comments below. 

Forever Stoked - Holiday Gift Guide

The season of gift giving is upon us. But I have to be honest, I don't really like shopping (online or in stores) and gift-giving is not my love language. Bah humbug right?! But the beauty of this season is that it focuses on what we can offer to others. It doesn't even need to be a tangible gift. BUT, if you're looking to give in a more traditional sense, I've created  handy a gift guide. Most of these items I own, so they are tested and approved, but a few are actually on my own wish list. I tried to promote a mix of products and experiences that support small business owners and ethical companies as well as items that are practical and not one-time disposable. Happy shopping and giving! 

Gifts for the Creative

1.) Skillshare Membership: $100 for the year
Skillshare is a learning platform and community featuring over 17,000 classes. Their mission is to empower people to advance their careers, improve their lives, and pursue the work they love. Before I transitioned to freelancing, I purchased a one year membership and consumed their photography classes.  I've since expanded to watching branding and marketing classes, as well as content planning and social media.  At the end of each class, you're given a project to upload and share with other students to get feedback and constructive criticism, which is super necessary if you're working by/ for yourself! 

 Photo By Greg Balkin

Photo By Greg Balkin

1.) Artifact Uprising Gift Card: any amount
Living in a digital world gives me more appreciation for tactile items like a nice coffee table book or a framed photo. Artifact offers an extensive product line of books, frames, and calendars. They use recycled papers and reclaimed options like mountain beetle pine wood for the products too! This is a great gift for the photographer friend or family member who wants to honor their art and give it a permanent place in the home. 

2.) Layered Mountain Mug: $30
Most creatives I know live on coffee or tea. I'm no exception and love this landscape mug from ceramist Coco Barrett-Tormey.  Everything she creates is made by hand and is inspired by the slow moments in life like morning tea or watching a sunset. Her mugs are a reflection of her love for the mountains, ocean, and desert. 

 Photo courtesy of Wylder Goods

Photo courtesy of Wylder Goods

3.) Moleskin Notebook: $18
You never know when a creative idea is going to present itself! I keep a notebook by my bedside for and carry one with me wherever I go for spontaneous journaling or note taking. These are the notebooks to buy in bulk because it's so easy to go through them.  

4.) Big Magic: $12
The book that reminds you that you do not need permission to live a creative life.  Elizabeth Gilbert, my all time literary #womencrush, gives poignant insights into how to deal with fear and courage during the creative process. It's a great read for anyone engaged in personal or professional creative pursuits. *If possible, purchase from your local bookstore. 

Gifts for the Adventurer

1.) Rumple Puffy Down Blanket: $150
This blanket utilizes sustainably sourced grey duck down (600 fill)  for insulation and has a weather-resistant DWR-treated nylon shell. Maybe most importantly though..... it's incredibly warm. It's accompanied me on all my travels since I got it and has been clutch when Jared and I road trip in Buttercup. It compresses easily into a packable size and is big enough to cover both of us and keep us cozy. If you don't live in a region with cool temps, I would suggest the original puffy blanket pictured below.

 Rumpl Puffy Blanket- Photo by Laura Hughes

Rumpl Puffy Blanket- Photo by Laura Hughes

2.) Patagonia Black Hole Duffel: $130
This travel bag is super durable and can be carried on the shoulder or as a backpack. It functioned as my suitcase this spring when I spent 2 months traveling through Europe and was a superstar as I moved through train stations, airports and countries! It's weather resistant and stuffs into it's own pocket for easy storage.

 Photo By Brooke Fitts

Photo By Brooke Fitts

3.) Peak Design Capture Clip: $60
This seemingly simple clip changed my backpacking experiences. Before I started using it, my camera would either hang from my neck (thus straining it) or it would be tucked into my backpack. When I wanted to take photos I would have to stop, unzip my backpack and set up my camera. Now, I can clip it to the outside of my bag and quickly take it off when I see something I want to capture. Aside from being a great product, I love the company's commitment to being socially and environmentally conscious. 

4.) Aeropress Kit: Because before the adventure, coffee needs to be had. At least in my life! We use the Aeropress at home every morning to make our coffee, but it packs up nicely into the perfect travel kit. This is a great gift for the person in your life that loves caffeine and is always on the road. 

  • If you need convincing, read more about the coffee travel kit here


Gifts for the Wellness Guru 

1.) Garmin Forerunner Watch: $290
I was in the habit of taking Jared's watch when I worked out, but I continued to declare that I didn't need one for myself. He surprised me with this watch for my birthday and it's been one of the most fun and practical gifts I've ever received. Not only can I use it while running, but it works for cycling, swimming, and triathlons (should I decide to do another.) It's also super lightweight and tracks heart rate + gives me a little buzz every hour that reminds me to get up and get moving. 

 Photo courtesy of Ursa Major

Photo courtesy of Ursa Major

1.) Ursa Major- The Minimalist Skin Care Set: $70
This set is only available for a limited time and includes the essentials; face wash, fortifying face balm and face tonic. Besides being made with healthy ingredients, the aromas are fantastic. The cedar, spearmint, lime combo in the face wash is my favorite! 

2) Essential Oil Diffuser: $30
In my opinion, a home isn't complete without an essential oil diffuser. I find a weird amount of joy picking out oils to diffuse, and I love the different energetic effects they create in the house. Lately, I've been going with a sandalwood and myrrh combo. Other favorites include; lavender, eucalyptus, sage and rosemary. I'll also never tire of friends coming over and complimenting how nice the house smells! 

3.) Hydroflask Water Bottle: $40
This water bottle has a permanent spot in my bag. At 32 ounces, it takes up a bit of space but I figure if I can get through two a day, I'm definitely staying hydrated. Double-wall vacuum insulation keeps the contents hot for 6 hrs. or cold for 24 hrs. and it's super tough stainless steel. Don't ask me how many times I've dropped it and you can't even tell. 

4.) Monthly Membership to a Studio: price varies
Now that it's winter, I've found the best way to stay active, is to move indoors. Give the gift of wellness by pre-paying for a punch card or monthly unlimited membership to a yoga, pilates or barre studio. Many are currently running holiday specials. 

 Photo By Laura Hughes 

Photo By Laura Hughes 

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