11 November 2011

old gold

Sometimes we have ideas that make us hungry. So hungry that they feed their way into our psyche and plant themselves there with such certainty that no one can talk us out of our interest into the original idea. We become ravenous.  This is one of those ideas. When I first mentioned it, Paul was not smitten. He was resistant, for whatever reason, to this idea. But I, being the obnoxious person I am, pressed on. 

It's unfair to say that I'm annoying, per se; I was inspired and unrelenting, yes, but never annoying. (right?)

So here was (is) the idea: request gold from our families, scraps (not the good stuff!) and have it all melted down to make our wedding bands. my engagement ring, a melissa joy manning yellow diamond with a hand hammered band, was partial inspiration for the design. but i'm also in love with all things david yurman, but wanted to have our bands locally made at a charming little shop called "From the Vault."
hello beautiful
So we marched up the street, literally this place is right around the corner(!), and i spilled my beans. Graham, a young and oh-so-talented jeweler, was open to the idea. it was my own fiance that needed convincing.

"Isn't it a lot to ask for gold from our family?," Paul insisted. 

"Of course not! Every woman has old gold hoops, scraps from broken chains and old bracelets that they want to get rid of. Just let me try."  Our conversation was short, and then I got to work. 

Inspired by Mrs. Lillien and her beautiful wordsmithing, I set out to draft a poem to sell my idea to our handful of grandmothers and mothers alike.  I was asking for gold, you know, this had to be good. And once the poem was finished (full script below), I used words and colors and handwriting to bring this idea of love that is deep and wide to life. 

This turned out to be one of my favorite elements of the wedding, ultimately capturing a most important story that represents my and paul's family histories...Both of our parents are divorced. This is sad when you're a kid, weird in college, hard every christmas, and has turned out to be one of the biggest blessing in life for both of us. Now, we have 4 sets of w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l (and happily remarried!) parents and 8 sets of grandparents, so there is a lot of scrap gold in our family. And our families are unique (aren't everyones?)...

What's significant here for me is this: though divided, divorced, and broken in a sense---left to become something less than its original beauty--our families have discovered a deeper love, a better understanding of partnership, new meaning through all of this. While i cannot take credit for my family history, I can tell you that making the best of what we have makes for a fun wedding : )

So back to the inspiration, here are a few photos of the image...
the full monty

detail (gg9a is my gram 9a who we loveeeeee)
The poem reads:
paul and stephanie are soon to be wed. "two become one," or so it is said. the festivities are planned--we hope you'll be there--october 2nd in Louisville promises to have enormous amounts of love in the air.

we're writing today to submit a request, we're asking for gold--oh no! not your best! your brightest and finest should stay with you, the bottom-of-the jewelry box pieces will do.

we'd like our family heritage to live on our hand, we're using your gold to craft our wedding bands! so please send us a little--anything 14 or 18 karat-- we'll melt it all down, reshape it and wear it!

and please if you're able, make plans to come--celebrate our wedding and have lots of fun! xoxo love stephanie and paul

After making the original piece,
I zipped my way to Kinko's and made some high quality color copies.
Then I Bought and addressed an outer envelope and inner padded envelope.
(you don't put gold in the post in just anything.)
And marched my way into the post office.
(you can imagine the look on the postman's face when I told him what I wanted to do.)

The project involved:
the poem
an envelope for mailing
and inner envelope
a pre-paid, pre-addresses priority mail outer envelope

preparing for post!

oh yeah

clear instructions

all in all, the project cost us about $60.
which is a bargain when the goods that you receive look like this.

that's right... amazing pile of golden goodness

my great grandfathers stopwatch chain
a 14k gold piggie charm from my mom
a funky hippie golden mermaid from paul's mom
broken chains
alicia's signet ring (couldn't bear to melt that down)
tiny diamonds
my grandmother's wedding band
golden studs
and so many eclectic pieces
perhaps my favorite response... from gg9a again: "thank you for including me. love love love"  
come back in the next couple days for the final product: the rings!
and our vows...
when we exchanged the beautiful pieces with one another.
so special.

happy saturday and much love!

p.s. know somebody who would love to take on this project? the idea has been so well received that people have encouraged me to make a project out of it. the listing is up in my etsy shop and i'm making custom poems! so please, spread the word!

03 November 2011


when paul and i first got engaged (june 2010), we were super excited.
engaged. and it was vacation, too!
but we had no idea, none, about what we wanted to do with our wedding ceremony and celebration.
and. we had three lovely sets of friends whose weddings were just around the corner.
{{happy 1 year anniversary: kenny & victoria: julie & corey: lauren & drew}
so we waited for the inspiration.
and then it was new years {cheers!} 
and we were in NYC. and PW turned 29.
and we celebrated.
oh yes, we celebrated!
photo by victoria harris

and on our mega bus trip back to DC from NYC, we considered some ideas
then, let them settle into our bones.
tossed and turned them in our minds.
made some decisions.
yes, us.
(our moms were so proud.)

thank god for hounddog press
robert loved that i was taking a photo of him. 
robert and nick are two handsome fellows who run a kick-ass letterpress shoppe in downtown louisville. and they were so nice to little indecisive me.
as i started looking for inspiration, i knew we had to have some funky save the dates that channeled the "feel" of our vintage, latin themed wedding.

and then like inspiration always does. 
it struck me one day that it was ok to want a wedding filled with
old gold,
scarlet red.
so that's what we chose.
not that we did anything so official with this palette, 
but, it was ours to work from,
and it guided some of our major decisions.
 the save the date!
the first look at the finished product
uni-ball silver pens made addressing easy peasy!
and then, ultimately, the invitation.
but that should wait for another day, don't cha think?
also...stay tuned for a weekend update about an awesome project that i came up with.
how's this for a sneak peek?!?!

love is in the air.
no matter what the season.
stay tuned.

26 October 2011

the juicy bits

i started to run, thinking, what have i gotten myself into?!? i could never capture in words all the joy and creativity and generosity we experienced. and life kinda got busy...which, is, real life, isn't it? and something scary happened to someone i love, and then it wasn't so scary, and then we were grateful for everything and each other and life's lessons. but as soon as i started to run, i realized i was running for the wrong reasons. so what if this is the most disorganized recap of a wedding celebration ever, it is mine, i will write it. even if my words don't do justice to my experience, if i can somehow, someway, capture the sheer color and delight of paul's blue eyes, our confetti system wavering in the wind, the brassy notes of the trumpet floating in the crisp october air, i would be glad. my crooked smile, and oh-my-god my bouquet (it was GORGEOUS). these are the memories i don't want to forget. 

succulents, orange dahlia's, cream garden roses, and more. gush
so the weekend overview, once again:
thursday: errands all day with mom and sister
friday: special deliveries, last minute preparations, family dinner (aka: chili cookoff!)
saturday: rehearsal at whitehall and "rehearsal dinner" (or what PW and i called "cheers to you" dinner)
sunday: bridal shower (not your average bridal shower! stay tuned for many deets), followed by the wedding and reception.

let's start with the beginning, shall we? caroline and mom and eleanor were scheduled to arrive on wednesday evening at 7p.m.  i had a gift certificate to joseph's salon and spa that inspired me to schedule a massage and waxing appt after work that day... and let's be honest, my stress levels are used to red-lining much of the time, so this was the relaxing, peaceful, soak-it-up kickoff to our imaginative and festive wedding weekend. note to future brides: you have my full hearted recommendation to go this route. so worth it. even the armpit wax. didn't shave my armpits for two weeks! hollar.

this photo was taken the day before eleanor arrived. imagine how excited i was! my life would be complete if i looked this cute in my saturday morning lounge wear.
e.b.r. love
 also arriving and bringing a big smile to my face, our confetti system, with customized amounts of gold, magenta and turquoise. can i get a hell yes? this is the real deal, folks. we dreamed of this baby for so long, and one night, while attempting to convince veronica, our lovely 'day of coordinator,' friend extraordinaire, and creative, amazing soul, that the 15 hours DIY project might be worth it, paul ordered it. he walked in and said he'd done so, and i was shocked and i've no doubt veronica was relieved. she would've done anything for us, even a 15 hour DIY project, but this beauty was worth every penny (and keeping your dear friends sane!)!!!
welcome to louisville, Confetti Systems!
i had a whole list of to do's to tackle on thursday, and knowing mom and caroline would be here made them truly fun. we ran around town, picked up my dress, dropped off the ribbon at the florist, delivered batches of wedding decor to the venue, picked up beer, etc.etc.etc. about half-way through the day, i vividly remember saying: i have this much stress, GOOSE EGG, nada, zilch. we all smiled and vrooommmed along our little way. what a great start to the weekend.

at the end of our long day of errands, we made one last trip to pickup a special delivery: two custom, (confetti system's inspired) piñatas. my friend paula has a friend carolina who can work MAGIC with paper, cardboard and glue.  the piñata conversation consisted of a few emails, one phone call, and meeting in a parking lot to pick up the goods. this is just a GLIMMER of these beauties. carolina did an AMAZING job making this dream come true. yes we had piñatas at our wedding, didn't you?!?! if you can't tell from the photo, they were about 3.5' ft. tall. gold. and blue. um yes. amazing.

look at caroline's face! that about sums it up! amazing!
then when we got home that evening, we started in on a wedding craft i'd been planning for a long time... 

welcome boxes!
one of my favorite parts about a wedding is checking in at a hotel room and getting a little welcome gift. it's one of the special little things i wanted to do for our traveling guests, and because paul works in the wine business, i got inspired to use fancy wine boxes as the carrier of these little treats :)  we stuffed the boxes full of colorful tissue paper, yummy snacks (sweet and salty), beverages (locally brewed beer, half bottles of wine, and san pellegrino soda), fresh fruit, local publications, and a welcome note. wrapped them with assorted colors of ribbon, and voila! what a collaboration of all things good!

momma making good progress

attendant of honor in action

ready to go!

our mini helper

bridal delivery to the hotel, how fun is that!!

and talk about reduce, reuse, recycle! i loved this project, it was perfectly paul and perfectly me. we even saw my grandma and uncle dave in the parking lot when we were dropping these puppies off---so i got to hand deliver a few boxes! i was told that they were delivered by a bellhop to each guest's room (how fun it that! like christmas morning)...though i have no clue if that actually happened. :) as it goes being the bride.

how's that for a healthy dose of wedding fun and inspiration. more soon!
xoxoxoxxx S

15 October 2011

location. location. location.

cloudless blue sky
when you get the privilege of hand-picking the day for your special event, you can control everything about that day, down to the most intricate of details. but what you can't choose is the weather, the temperature, or the way the wind will blow. you get what cha' get.

about a week before the wedding,  people kept saying "the ten day forecast looks beautiful," or "looks like you'll have a sunny wedding day." i'd smile and pretend to care, but really, i didn't. a long while back, i resigned all control of the details of this day. i had a few minor demands (keep reading) and i might have said something on a mothers-sister-bride conference call about no guests wearing black (?!?!), but otherwise, the weather, the finite details of the day, the menu of the rehearsal dinner, it was all a wash to me and paul. 

ultimately, we decided on louisville because it was a place we knew and loved.  there are handfuls of vendors here that we personally knew and wanted to give our business, tell them what we were thinking and let them do their thing. the majority of our guests were going to travel no matter where we decided to have our wedding, and we fell in love in this city, so it just felt right.

oh right... we realized we need a place to actually have the wedding. we tossed around the idea of paul's church and a darling restaurant we loved right down the street. that didn't settle quite right (though stay tuned for more on the darling restaurant)... and then there was Whitehall: historical home and gardens, with just the right amount of french-american victorian era inspiration, and green space that inspires and delights. 

and then it was settled. louisville. whitehall. october. the only open date in october was sunday the 2nd, and we snatched it up. i still remember when paul called me at work earlier this year to tell me the date was available. i about leaped out of my chair. merrill was an absolute delight to work with, and after an official tour of the house and ground, anybody would be so happy to host their event at whitehall. 

we finally had a location and a date! once these details were in place, the ideas really started rolling. and not that anyone's looking for advice, but that whole "let your heart lead the way" really is quite the trick.  when you settle into your own ideas and get really clear on what you love, it all kind of magically happens. that's true of life, isn't it? mumford and sons put it well: "where you invest your love, you invest your life."

so back to the weather, i caved a few days before the wedding and this is what i saw:

67 and sunny. hell yes.
a bride can't buy that kind of a weather report. so we set out to celebrate, all weekend long, with 70+ of our closest family and friends surrounding us.  and we did. and it was amazing. and we are still beaming over some of the small details that came together so beautifully. without micro-managing. without worry and anxiety in abundance. there was, what i like to think, the right amount of tension: enough so that you knew this was a special event, but not a paralyzing amount that made everything feel like tip-toeing on a tightrope.

Family at the chili dinner

family at the rehearsal (and V, mistress of ceremonies!)

membrillo at red hog with erincita (looking tan! thanks iphone)

our mischievous friends, looking sweet 
and so i'll end this second overview with our itenerary for the weekend, or what my dad called, the calendar of events:

thursday: errands all day with mom and sister
friday: special deliveries, last minute preparations, family dinner (aka: chili cookoff!)
saturday: rehearsal at whitehall and "rehearsal dinner" (or what PW and i called "cheers to you" dinner)
sunday: bridal shower (not your average bridal shower! stay tuned for many deets), followed by the wedding and reception. 

are you still here? i hope so. it strikes me that i should apologize if this space turns into a bit of a wedding gush for a while. its just that i don't want to forget these details and the very best way for me to share/save them is to write about them here. i hope you won't mind. i promise to keep it as fresh and authentic as possible. 

sending love your way on this saturday morning. 

my husband is making pumpkin pancakes and scrambled eggs... life is calling.  xoxoxo S

10 October 2011

the season of love

oh my, oh my, this negligent blogger is ready for a return. as many of you have heard, i'm a new Mrs. and the entire wedding weekend filled me with enough inspiration, insight and love that i cannot hold back! 

not only do i want to share wedding details, but i'd also really like to highlight some special vendors and share some stories about why we did what we did. how about a photo to kick off my highlight summary post?
paul & i before the "rehearsal" dinner
when we sat down to plan our wedding, which was the culmination of a 14-month engagement, i must admit i was a very different person than i am today.  something about the ceremony of a wedding---and the planning that goes into it---changes you.  it connects you to the people you know and love (whether they are married or not) in a unique way, and to a history of love that is much older and wiser than you and i. it's humbling and exhilarating, unique to every person and a part of each of us.

for me, weaving meaningful aspects of ourselves into the events and traditions of a wedding was the MOST exciting part and what made the whole process worth it.  i mean yes, i get this incredible, committed, wonderful man to call my husband---that's great beyond words----but we could have made that commitment on the beaches of somewhere exotic or on a mountaintop somewhere picturesque, but that just didn't seem to settle right. we knew in our heart of hearts we wanted to share that commitment before our family and friends, eloping sounded sexy but not quite right.
sweet reminder

don't get me wrong, we talked seriously about it. i am of the mindset, "if it doesn't serve you, throw it out,"  and a lot of wedding traditions didn't suite paul and i. so thus began many months of inspiration seeking and combing through everything that's out there. when 2011 kicked off, we took a walk, looked each other in the eyes, and got to planning. we had to think seriously about the ceremony, the themes, the decorations, and (very seriously) about the food and "beverage program" (ahem, yes, I said beverage program)---but mostly we had to get clear on:
  1. what we wanted
  2. how to navigate the wedding industry in a way that produced a meaningful event (and didn't burn holes in pocketbooks)
  3. (perhaps most importantly) how to get our families (and dear friends) on board for the adventure (because people, it takes a VILLAGE!).
i think the last three things were pivotal to the inevitable transformation. and now, post-wedding, paul and i couldn't be more delighted with the outcome, the generous amounts of love and support we've received, and to wake up each morning, pinch one another's rosy cheeks and thank our lucky stars. we are super blessed and we know it.
look at those smiles.

so true!

wedding day self portrait (loads more to this story!)
so that's the start to the story. it's going to unravel in many parts, so i hope you'll join me for the adventure. if you could care less about weddings (which i totally understand), check in from time to time for pretty pictures and some fun inspiration about awesome louisville businesses! much love from kentucky! xoxox

31 August 2011

hand to the plow.

when i fall off the blogging wagon, which, you know, happens every once in a while, i get intimidated that i should just close up shop, pack my bags and move on. but then i start dreaming up posts. making promises to ideas. letting inspiration bleed into my day to day. and finally, the ideas and inspiration get so big, and the knocking on my mind gets so loud, that the only proper response seems to be finding myself back in this space to share inspiration and delight!

just in case you're curious as to what i've been up to, i think this photo sums is up in one fell swoop: hand to the plow. oh, ok, so that's a gas powered tiller, but still: suffice it to say i've been working pretty damn hard.

my summer has been spent mostly at work, in the fields, wedding planning, adventuring, wining and dining with pw, and making the most of the hours of sunshine available to us. my stress levels are a bit higher than i'd like (juggling too much, you say?) but i'm looking forward to my birthday (next week!), our fall wedding (!!!), and a sweet little honeymoon. classes are back in session, work will always be there, these celebratory times only come once.

expect some updates, vendor reports, darling stories, photo posts and more from me soon! and: tell, tell, how have YOU been? xoxox stephanie

20 June 2011

the makings of a happy stefi

PW would tell you there are a few things that make this girl happy. i could be in a horrible mood (yes, me.) and instantly these things will make me happy. not happy for a minute and then mad again, but, "oh yeah, that's what i want my life to be composed of " happy. the people i love. the clothes that make me feel good. activities that bring a wide smile to my face. places around the globe that really awaken my spirit. 

why, one must ask themselves,
 isn't my everyday 
composed of 
these people and places and things?

good question! i think that's what gretchen rubin is getting at in her happiness book. and what thich nhat hahn means when he says "everyday when you wake up, there are 24 brand new hours to live." maybe happiness isn't a moment, but a composition. finely tuned to awaken our spirits to the bigger picture. after all (you know what i'm going to say, right?): it is our days that make up our lives. {annie dilliard}

mini me.
with all that being said, the mystery isn't that much of a mystery. so i present to you today, a bit of a manifesta:

  • i like my coffee black, my bath water hot, and my grandmother's oversized golden hoops. 
  • i love a picnic, sparkling wine and an extra firm (but not burnt!) crust on a creme brulee
  • handwritten letters are best, but if you must send an email, jump off the page with !!!, xoxox's and :) galore
  • music should be played loudly enough that i can sing and you can't hear me. unless of course, you're playing acoustic guitar: then i'm all ears.
  • balloons makes every occasion special. feeling blue? balloons. birthday? balloons. walk in the park? balloons.
  • swimming: yes, please! my preference is the doggie-paddle, but the water-puppy within will do anything to stay afloat.
  • long fingers and toes mean my jewelry must be made for royalty: big, shiny + a story with each piece.
  • i'd rather be a driver than a passenger.
  • everyday physical activity and moderation makes for a life-time of wellbeing. sometimes: splurge.
  • golden: shoes, accessories, dresses, planners, pens. anything.
  • while we're on the subject, pens: gel, no ballpoint. fountain, but of course. colorful, always.
  • i'll never be early, but rarely am i running late.
  • i can't sleep until i've written or called you back, thanked you properly for your kindness, or acknowledged a gift i've been given. if you haven't heard back from me, i promise you i'm not sleeping well.
  • i say a prayer for peace every morning.
  • some people have got it right. a particular person comes to mind: gg9a.
  • backscratching makes my heart go pitter-patter.
  • i love challenges, celebrations, honest conversation and meaningful exchanges. i'll never turn down a hug.
  • family + friends are here to provide constant inspiration and love. 
and there you have it, stephanie's list o' inspiration and delight. 
what makes your heart soar?

19 June 2011

ode to my fathers

dad. big smile. siblings. + me.
daddy dave + me. big smiles. love.

i am a lucky, lucky girl. i get to call and wish a happy father's day to two wonderful men.  so loving in so many ways. so different, but together just the dads a girl like me needs. it's not enough to say "thank you for being a great dad," or "wish i could bbq some chicken for you tonight, dad;" no, i feel like there really isn't anything i could do or say to my fathers (or mothers) that would properly pay them the homage they deserve.

it's not that i wouldn't try, but no words or act of love could properly fulfill the grand proportion of grace, abundance, creativity, independence, and humility with which i've been parented. so i say thanks, reflect on the abundant blessings, and give a big smile to the memories which i'm so fortunate to have. then we go make some more.

either way: happy father's day to the fathers of our world. keep showing up, in the full force of love, goodness, learning and authenticity. and thanks. we're all better off for me. 

04 June 2011

it will find you

abundance arrives

do you ever wonder when that longed for change will come? the opportunity you've been hoping for? the partner to delight in? the diagnosis to determine the source of the pain? the sleep you long for? the yes that comes after a long series of no's? 

i don't have the change, the opportunity, the partner, the diagnosis, the sleep or the yes, or anything else you're waiting for for that matter. but i believe that whatever it is, it will find you.  it will arrive however it chooses: wrapped or unwrapped; maybe a bow, maybe not. it will arrive in perfect time, in perfect form. it will be exactly the size and shape and portion you need.

all you need to do? knock. pray. go about your journey. be caught in the act of enjoying yourself. let the belief that it will find you give you great confidence. 

because when we wait with great confidence, we act now as if we were already in possession of the thing that we're longing for. and being filled, we fill others. and they begin to believe the wait was worth it, too. and abundance arrives, delights, and decides to stay. for all time.

cross my heart: it will find you, too. 

22 May 2011

30 day hot yoga cleanse

the journey of a 30 day hot yoga cleanse

judge not, lest you be judged: i'd like to say that i realize there is judgement and a boatload of opinions about hot yoga. i'm not exactly opposed to your arguments, but the truth is, i like hot yoga and there is a studio here in louisville where i practice that i like a lot, too.  even though the instructors kick my ass every time i walk through the doors, my practice has never once been compromised; i've always left feeling strong and more connected than i was when i walked into the studio.  so all i ask while you read this post is that you just hold space with me for a bit without predetermined judgements. (you can judge me in full at the end when you see my b&a pics).

first things first: wtf was i thinking? you see, i have this really charming friend, louise. she's basically my sister but not my sister and her friendship brings a lot of joy into my life. she's inspiring, down-to-earth, easy going, in love, generous, kind, and [strange as it sounds], what i love about her, i also love about me. in our 30th class together, side by side we were finishing a challenging 90-minute bikram class, and after learning the basics of the sit-up from our instructor Tom, Louise and I start beaming. We were, literally, overjoyed to learn something new, even on day 30. And as we transitioned to the next posture, Tom looked at us and said: "These two ladies in the middle are beaming with positive energy. They are shining it out, like a fountain for all of you to be showered in." Point in case. I love Louise. Something about her has always held space for me to be the me i love. 

anyhow, so it was Louise's idea. she and i were both feeling, eh, sluggish? she's a jump right in kind of girl. i'm a see-saw, teeter-totter, i'll hang out on the fence kind of girl. the last day i decided i was all in. and that was that. note to self: goals motivate me.

what (the hell) is bikram? because quite literally, doing yoga in 105+ degree rooms does sound somewhat like hell to most people.  "Bikram Yoga is the 26 postures sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga. ...These 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits." (from Here is bikram's master pose: a seated spinal twist.

It should be noted that I didn't do 30 days of the bikram classes, rather, 30 days of hot yoga, including these classes: 16 bikram (2 silent), 5 power vinyasa, 3 yoga core, 3 anusara inspired, 2 hot fusion, and 1 bikramyasa.

what were the rules? the 30 day cleanse ran from april 15-may 15, you had to complete at least 29 classes, which meant you had one official skip day, and you could do up to 4 doubles (meaning, you could essentially miss one day each week and make up for it by doing two classes). I only missed one day (derby day) and did one double (the tuesday before derby day).  the board at the studio was constantly updated with your "count." it was FUN to see that number grow and grow. 39 ppl signed up for the cleanse, and almost 20 finished! my friend ann def got an honorable mention (she ALSO ran the mini 3/4 thru the cleanse!) see my name at the bottom :) 
the official count!

how did i fit it into my schedule? the cleanse ran from april 15-may 15, and i knew i'd be in town the entire time. it did fall during grad school finals, major work deadlines, and kentucky's most celebrated holiday: the derby. but i set an intention and i carved out time and space in my life to keep it. paul cooked a lot of dinners. i did a lot of laundry. i was a bit less social than usual. we had visitors in town and i had to slip away for a few hours. but honestly, it was all worth it. i was only late to class one time, but other than that, i looked forward to 29 of 30 classes. the one exception was a friday night about halfway through the cleanse: paul as tired of cooking, i was waddling my hamstrings were so tight, and i had never been to a "bikramyasa" class before. turns out it was absolutely just what i needed. i left feeling so peaceful and at ease. then i promptly made paul dinner :)

also: i kept this challenge to myself. other than paul, my family, our visitors (paul's parents), and a couple local friends here and there (towards the end of the challenge), i didn't really talk about the challenge. i tweeted about it, but didn't tell anyone at work, and didn't talk much about it in passing. i felt like it was an internal commitment i made, not an external one. while it certainly showed in terms of lugging yoga clothes every day to the car and schlepping laundry up and down the stairs, it was more of an inward cleanse than anything.

what impact did the cleanse have on your body? a profound one. i noticed that i didn't lose any weight (in fact, i think i gained a few pounds!) but my metabolism was working like a horse. i drank at least 80+ ounces of water each day, had a demanding appetite, and felt less of a reliance on caffeine. my digestive system was impeccable. i always have this "long & lean waist" feeling when i do hot yoga regularly. that was certainly a benefit of the cleanse. my skin was so soft, my complexion fairly clear, and my hair was curly, as usual!

did you notice any mental shifts? about every sixth yoga session, i'd notice i was really "not feeling it." which can roughly translate to: i'm tired, tired of being hot, and what day is this, anyway? the resistance really showed itself on these days, and i noticed it, and i let it go. for the majority of the classes, i'd show up ready for a challenge, practice with diligence, and watch the blossoming happen. i felt like i could constantly lift myself and others with positive thinking and diligence. and in all honestly, it worked. i loved the heightened sense of connectedness that came with the challenge. on & off the mat.

okay, okay, what physical changes did you see? are you the size 4 you've always wanted to be? cue le sigh. no, i honestly didn't notice many physical changes. my arms are noticeably stronger, my waist longer {see b&a pics at the bottom of this post!}, and my quads a bit more defined, but all in all, i didn't exactly feel like i lost weight and noticed a huge physical change. that wasn't the goal, of course, but i wouldn't have complained it i'd noticed it. i will say that i noticed something about how much i admire strong, curvy feminine women---a group you could say i identify with. in my head, i've always admired very lean women, with their flat stomachs, small chests, and perfect pencil legs. but in my heart, i realize that's not me, and i'm better learning to love what i do have than longing for what i don't have. there is a serious learning curve to deal with on this topic, but the small shift that occurred within my thinking it worth noting. 

the quick & dirty facts:
1. where do you practice: betsy's hot yoga louisville  (aka: HYL...note: she'll be doing a cleanse again soon!)
2. what equipment do you use? Gaiam yoga mat, yogi toes skidless mat, klean kanteen 40 oz bottle, adidas cropped pants, various technical tanks, L.L. Bean boat & tote
3. how would you rate your experience (10 high)? 9.0 solid. only better if there had been more noticeable physical changes. but otherwise blissful + challenging + dynamic + oh-so-needed!

show me the money: part of the challenge included writing a $160 to HYL. if you dropped out or didn't complete 29 classes in 30 days, she deposited your check. if you completed, you payed $30. cha-ching!

we celebrated the end of the cleanse with a crystal bowl meditation, champagne toast, and vegan cake from cake flour bakery (AH-MAZE-ing cake- you'll see this again at my wedding!) here are some pics from the celebration, and my b&a pics (where i'm looking esp rough! i don't shower before yoga, peeps. please excuse the frizzy hair.)

the celebration cake, complete with two yogi's in half moon pose :)

champagne celebration (betsy, studio owner on left and dan, louise's beau pouring champagne!)

me + louise + liz (three powerful women!)

proud yogis :)

proud yogis in half moon with betsy (studio owner) in front

the "be the flow wall", a constant, positive reminder

there you have it! little old me after 30 days of yoga!
finally, i'd like to thank my major supporter, pw, who committed as much to this cleanse as i did. your unwavering support means the world to me. your ability to help me recognize and attend to my needs is unparalleled. for every ounce i open my own heart, i find yours is ready and willing to expand, too. 

hope you've enjoyed my recap! feel free to ask any questions in the comments or email me for additional details.

sending you loads of love and confidence for whatever challenges you decide to take on! i think the old wise saying "jump and the net will appear" certainly was true for this cleanse.  

xoxo stephanie alaine