Psssst! >> Recording for those who want to listen to this post like a podcast!
Something I’ve given a lot of thought to is the time that we spend at battle with ourselves, unwilling to let go of who we’ve been, what we’ve done and mistakes that have taken us a few steps backwards.
The truth is, every moment of this life is a chance for us to blow it; for us to behave poorly, say words that can cut deep, and negatively impact other beings around us. There is not one of us alive who is currently behaving as our Highest Self during each minute of the day. Because we are all messy; we are all burning bridges or saying hurtful words or behaving selfishly, at one point or another, often not even consciously.
But here’s another truth; every moment of this life is another chance for us to begin again – to start a journey of returning to the divine within us; to come to ourselves, our Highest Selves, who are made of gold and stars and all things gentle. We are inherently good; we are programmed to love and to create and to imagine possibilities and seek things that make us feel alive – yet we are living in a selfishly driven world that can pressure and push us to behave as less than we are.
There are a few things in my life that I know I’ve undoubtedly done thoroughly, right, and well. Things I’ll eternally be grateful to myself for doing. One of those is finding forgiveness and compassion for myself.
I’ve blown it, plenty of times! I’ve burned bridges. I’ve said words I can’t change. I’ve hurt people around me, like we all do. Some of the times I’ve messed up have been minor, and other times, they’ve been completely life altering.
Whether I’ve behaved a little poorly, or I’ve been completely out of line, throughout the many different phases of my life, for every bit of harm I’ve ever done to those around me, I’ve found forgiveness for myself. I’d imagine that’s obvious for those who spend time around me or take any interest in watching me. I’ve found a love I could have only dreamt of. I’ve created a blissful little family that is being strengthened from the inside out day by day. I’m finally growing into my own heart and body in a way I’ve not been able to do before; becoming so completely comfortable and grateful for who I am, how I am, how I look, think, and function. I’m moving forward in discovering my purposes and passions and hobbies. I’m in a good place with myself and I have a huge appreciation for it because I know what it’s like to not be in a good place with yourself. I know what it’s like to not have found peace or closure, with who you’ve allowed yourself to become… I know what it’s like to feel like you’ll never be able to be your own friend, and that you’ve done the unspeakable.
So maybe you have done the unspeakable. Maybe you’ve disregarded promises and lost your loyalty. Maybe you’ve betrayed a loved one. Maybe you’ve given up your core beliefs and compromised your own treasured identity. Maybe you’ve been a part of something you swore you’d never be involved with. Maybe you let some things spiral out of control. Maybe you let pride take everything from you.
Whatever you’ve done; you are not too far gone. You are not too far out of reach. You’re not less deserving of a life filled with love and happiness and good things.
And here is the secret: You get to heal as fast as you make up your mind to do so.
The moment you grant yourself permission to heal, to recover and make a comeback,
you will. It is that simple; I promise, because I’ve experienced it.
Explore this with me for just a minute; let’s say one night while you’re making dinner and chopping vegetables you accidentally chop into your finger with a sharp knife. Your body, and every cell within it, in that very moment, makes a united team effort, to send every bit of healing capacity to that wound within a matter of split seconds. Your body doesn’t hesitate to think ever so deliberately about whether or not your finger “deserves” to heal!?! Your body doesn’t think deliberately about whether you deserved to be cut or not, for paying close enough attention to the knife and the vegetables!? Your body simply allows acceptance of the situation at hand (or in this case, the situation ON your hand) and decides then and there, to make amends with what has happened.
So where is our logic when it comes to trauma, mistakes, and painful lessons that we learn? We torture ourselves, spinning in circles, thinking and feeling and reliving situations repeatedly. We go down these paths of whether we “deserved” the heartache, the baggage, or the trauma that found it’s way into our lives. We question our value and go down this path of thinking that our internal worth changes based on external experiences. Just think of where your own head goes when you’ve made a mistake in your life... Is it guilt? Is it depression? Do you begin to feel worthless or cheapened? We all have certain little evil trains of thought that run the same tracks over and over again within our minds.
So what if we could respond the same way to emotional healing as we do to physical healing? When we get sick, we visit the doctor. We share our symptoms and talk about our ailments. We brainstorm solutions. We try several remedies or solutions or prescriptions. And we invite other people to share in our suffering with us! People send get well cards and soup and prayers in our behalf. We don’t carry shame for the cold that we’ve come down with!
We should be using similar tactics when it comes to our emotional wellness.
There is no shame in the inevitable cycles that we take on throughout our life of having ups and downs will physical wellness. Sometimes we are in the best shape of our lives; sometimes we feel so energized, well rested, fit and well nourished; and other times, we feel depleted, out of shape or malnourished. There’s no shame in that; hopefully we just find ourselves on the mend sooner than later so we can go on living our life with a body that we feel our best in. There should be absolutely no shame tied to the inevitable cycles our emotional wellbeing will experience during our lives too.
We should be asking for support from those who loves us. We should be asking for advice and prayers in our behalf. We should be able to give a bunch of different remedies and solutions a try. And most of all – we should be allowed to heal quickly. I am a firm believer in that.
I remember going through a divorce. A divorce I really kept to myself with, in a lot of ways. And any divorce carries insane amounts of emotions, heartaches, pain points, regrets, traumas, etc. Mine was no different. I remember feeling as though all of the emotions I was carrying were heavy enough to crush and debilitate me potentially for forever! One day, early on in my divorce process, I decided I didn’t want to feel so heavy, and stuck, and angry. Boy, I had so much anger! I felt so betrayed, and I felt as though I had given up every good part of me for so long, for something that ended. I didn’t want to stay angry. As one of the remedies I decided to try, I thought that forgiveness would be a proper place to start. I surprised myself when my journey of forgiveness began, that the first person I needed to forgive was not the guy who was letting go of me… but rather, myself. I needed to forgive me – for all that I had become, for all the ugliness that had found its way into my being, for the anger I was housing, for the hate I had allowed to infect my life and my marriage, for the mistakes I had made, and the ways that I had behaved and responded which were so out of character and so out of line. It was time to let go of who an unhealthy relationship had made me into. I remember sitting, and making lists upon lists of what I felt like had gotten out of control within me, and making lists of what I’d like to be instead, from there on out. I wrote out all my weaknesses, but all my gifts too. Because I found that there’s no point in dwelling on the negative that we do until we are ready to replace it with something positive. When there is darkness within us, to remove the darkness, we must replace those spaces with light. Otherwise, empty voids within us are just the devils’ playground. I began to feel light coming back into my spirit, and I began to feel love for myself again.
Where there’s love, there can be an abundance of forgiveness. Even for those who aren’t sorry. Next, it was fitting for me to forgive my ex-husband. To do that, I put myself into his shoes. There are two sides to every story, and every bit of what I had felt like happened in our time together and in our marriage, was valid, and true, for me and my experiences and my emotions; even if he saw things differently. The same is true for him. Whatever damage he believed I did, whatever words I hurt him with, whatever negative contributions I made to a marriage full of problems, were valid. I had to learn to believe that with everything in me. His experience being married to me, positive and negative all the same, was valid and true; for him. It’s a hard thing, to swallow the idea that every finger pointed, every story told, every accusation made, could actually be true – but you know what? It was – it was true and valid for him. So with that being the place I could now stand from, I decided to apologize from a place where every bit of harm that I ever did to him was real – and those were some big apologies that I had to make. In our case, when our story ended, it was best for it to end permanently, to break all ties, all forms of communication and to look forward. So I wrote letters. I wrote him letters he’d never read; he’d never see – because as soon as I wrote them, they went up in flames by candlelight. I’d write them and burn them – because once I expressed what I needed to say for a while; I was free from it. And once I could do the apologizing I needed to do, I could do the forgiving that I so badly needed to do too. I imagined getting the apologies that I needed to hear from him; as if every bit of harm he had done, every word he said, and every negative impact he had on me were valid and real; because in my experience – they were.
I remember having a lot of loved ones reach out to me as I went through my divorce, constantly wondering if things could be salvaged, or if I had considered so many different options or solutions for fixing things; I also remember feeling a little bit of pressure, like I needed to express how sad or angry I really was, to validate that I truly did care about my marriage, and didn’t take all of this lightly. I decided that I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for how or what I was feeling; and I also decided that I was really the only person who would know how much I cared, how much that marriage meant to me at the time, and how hard it was to see things crumbling around me; realizing that I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone, I decided that it didn’t lessen the amount that I had cared or tried, if I decided I could heal quickly. It was just a personal decision that I didn’t want to feel crappy for a long time; so in an instant, after taking the steps I needed and finding peace and closure, I decided to just be better; to just be healed and release it all.
I made a promise to myself – that I would take the lessons, the experiences that strengthened the new woman I had become in such a heart wrenching process, and the peace I had felt into my new life; and that everything else would stay behind me. I wouldn’t carry on resentments or memories or regrets. Since those days, I never looked back. I have never tried to gather a hint of information about where he may be now, how his life is going, who he spends his time with, or anything else that I so often see people keep up with when it comes to their exes. Any curiosities disintegrated such a long time ago, along with any hard feelings too. Forgiveness truly set me free, and it set him free from me. It’s been such a beautiful gift that only myself and my God could give to me.
And now, I am grateful for that first marriage. I am also grateful for the ending of it too. And I’m mostly grateful for where I’ve been able to end up, based off of how I was able to let go of a life altering experience with grace.
I’ve learned that to fully enjoy the life and the blessings which are around us presently, we have to let go of everything within the past and leave it where it belongs. For me, there can be no cross-mixing of lives. For me, they literally feel like lives, as I feel like I’ve died and had a re-birth throughout the last couple of years – so I prefer to carry the peace and the growth from my past life, and to live fully engaged with where I’m at now.
I share that personal story in hopes of letting you know that I’ve been where maybe you stand now…
I’ve felt heavy and debilitated by my own choices. But I also know how sweet it can be to feel weightless and free from it all. I can truly say I’m free from so many things that I was such a prisoner to 2 years ago.
One of my favorite passages from the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert says:
“If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then the truth will not be withheld from you.”
It’s a beautiful thing to come to yourself, and to live life as your own, without weight, burdens, unspoken words, and hard feelings. For every person I love, I wish these same freedoms… I wish this same journey… I wish for the same strengthening, growth, and peace to find you.
I can promise you that if you whole heartedly make the decision to heal and let it all go; your life will take off in directions you never imagined. It is when we acknowledge our darkness that we can finally begin to comprehend our light, and when we step into who we really are, miracles and beautiful opportunities come up in our lives. We are not meant to hurt – we are meant to heal. I hope you will too.
With love and light, Tiffanie Michele
The last couple of months I've realized that it takes a lot of consistent creativity to keep young children entertained day in and day out - especially during summer break where we've got the kids 50% of the time and we don't have any pre schooling to help the hours pass by. Some days my mind is overflowing with fun little recipes and activities to do with the kids, and other days I am totally stumped as to how to spend our time together.
If after a long summer you're finding yourself in a STUMPED phase, I thought I'd share one of the recent recipes that Daxten and I made together. These are the perfect snack for a hot day. It was super simple, took all of maybe 5 minutes to put together and then the entire family was able to enjoy the end result! I should have made two batches of these, because they were gone in less than the amount of time it took to make them!
Sprite Infused Grapes
Bag of grapes
Bottle of grape juice
Can of Sprite
First of all, do a little happy dance because these are going to be so easy and so refreshing.
Remove the stems from the grapes
Wash the grapes
Put them into a bowl
Pour the bottle of grape juice over them
Pour in a can of sprite
Put the bowl into the fridge for at least an hour so the grapes can be infused by the liquids
After an hour put the grapes into a ziplock bag, then put in the freezer until frozen
Then, eat them as fast as you can and regret that you didn't make more!
We had the best day celebrating our freedoms and have loved the opportunity of having my sister Shaylee come stay with us for a part of her summer! Happy Independence Day, from our family to yours!
Kacey & I -
Though finding each other and combining our lives and our family has maybe looked like a breezy fairytale, our story has held layers and lifetimes of lessons, growing pains, miracles, blessings, and more. It's a complicated story to tell, which is why it's taken a year of processing for me to begin. So, if you've patiently been waiting to hear, pull up a seat for part one of The Story Of Us.
Today marks a year since the day my life began again. Maybe that sounds dramatic for someone looking from the outside in, but for anyone who has experienced tremendous loss, betrayal, or trauma, like I did when experiencing a divorce, you understand completely. Last year at this same time there were so many dark thoughts and emotions trapped within my little body and brain. There were nights where I'd stay awake until 3 am, looking at the wall, wondering if there'd ever come another night where I wouldn't feel so restless and hopeless at 3 am. Divorce had made life as I had come to know it completely crumble and I kept thinking, life has already ended at just 22 years old. I think I was surviving, one day at a time, usually one moment at a time for a few weeks. I do realize that a few weeks is not a normal amount of time for someone to recover from such insane and heavy amounts of grief and loss and suffering; but in my case, a few short weeks was what I needed. I've concluded that I only needed a few weeks because my marriage was over long before divorce papers came into the mix, and I had already lost my first husband long before he officially checked out. The healing had begun long ago behind the scenes, without my knowledge. Regardless, the weeks hardly felt short. I felt as though each day lasted for an excruciatingly long eternity. I felt heavy, emotionally and spiritually. I truly felt as though life would not be able to go on, I'd never be able to have a beautiful life after such a deep loss. Everything had taken a turn for the worst, or so it seemed. I had lost my family, lost a friendship, lost a love. Little did I know, that in dismissing the life I had thought laid in store for me, I would open myself up to the possibility of entering a life I would never have been able to imagine for myself. People ask me so often, how did I heal so quickly after being divorced? Well, like I said, I think the healing and transforming had started long before a divorce process ever did... but we can come back to that. The significant turning point in my story though, the part that bridged the gap between thinking life was over and life truly beginning for me, happened last year, on June 20, 2016.
It was a Monday, but not any ordinary Monday. June 20th was a Monday that would hold the significant joining of a Full Moon with the Summer Solstice - a combination that hadn't come about in 70 years! Why is the moon phase relevant? I'll explain. I've always been extremely intentional and spiritual. From a young age of 14 years old I began seeking out ways to practice and honor my own spirituality and connection to Deity. On top of attending sangha mediation groups, something I had found at a young age was a group that did "Moon Gatherings" where we would meet during significant cycles of the moon, be it a full, new or half-moon, to gather with like-minded people to meditate and set intentions with the lunar phases for added strength. The idea behind it was that the moon controls the tides of the ocean, because water is controlled by the power of the moon; so, with a good portion of us being made up of water, we found it empowering to set goals and habits with the strong phases of the moon cycles for added help and force. This isn't for everyone but it resonates well and helps ground me, so I've always practiced it. I found out about the powerful summer solstice at a time I needed it most, a time when I felt so broken, so unsure and lost. I decided I didn't want to feel like that anymore, and this moon was going to be the time for me to clear myself of all the emotional gunk that had piled up within me since 2013.
At the time, I was working in two jobs that encompassed wellness and healing; I worked for a naturopathic and chiropractor’s office, and I worked at a relaxation center. I think a huge amount of credit goes to the sacred spaces I had the honor of working in that jumpstarted my personal recovery. I invited a bunch of coworkers to attend a Summer Solstice gathering, and decided it would be fitting for us to sort of "cleanse by fire" all that was holding us back from our true selves in our lives and to start new beginnings that night. We gathered at my bosses home out in the country, we lit a massive bonfire, and I started off the gathering by sharing where I was at in my life and burning the bed sheets and pillowcases that I had slept in as a married woman. This was such a symbolic thing for me, for the things that my marriage had struggled with, and for all the light I had lost in the process of being in a marriage that had become emotionally, spiritually and sexually toxic. I had also written down on a few pages of paper all the things I had acquired in my personality or character throughout the duration of my marriage that weren't really me, all the issues that had come into my life through another person’s decisions, all the mistakes and wrongdoings that I had participated in and I threw the lists into the fire. I watched it all go up in flames, tears of gratitude streaming down my face, ready to dismiss and forgive so much baggage, pain and toxicity from my life, at the drop of a match. Some of it belonged to me. Some of it I had just naively carried for a time. Either way, it was disappearing by the second in a beautiful, crackling fire, under a full moon as we celebrated the summer solstice. I sat under the moon that night and took a clean sheet of paper, writing down what I wanted to FILL my life and character and future with, and wrote about the type of man I wanted to allow into my life now that I had cleared space for God and possibility to work with. That night was one of the most important nights of my life, because I actively chose to let go of what no longer served me, and to create room for what would come instantly after I made that decision.
I came home that night, wanting to share about this sacred experience. I found myself alone in my apartment, with my dog Whisper, and a phone number from a super genuine guy who had caught my attention earlier that week. I picked up the phone to call my new acquaintance, Kacey Jensen. We had only talked for about an hour before, getting introductions and small talk out of the way, but in that previous conversation, I felt so at home in talking with Kacey, and I wanted him to be the one I share my story with. I called him and asked him if he'd believe me when I told him I wasn't a witch, but that I had this ritual of setting intentions with the lunar phases, and asked him if I could share about the summer solstice with him. We talked all night long into insane hours of the morning as I shared that I was ready for a new life to start and I was ready to start living authentically and loving big. I went on to explain that you can release and invite whatever you want into your life with the full moon, and that there's no better time to start over and let go of what once was. I remember just like it was yesterday, as Kacey told me, "What crazy timing... today is a perfect day for me to start over and let go too." The night had turned into day, which had turned into June 21st, 2016 - the day that would have been his 7-year marriage anniversary, as the summer had brought a divorce about for him too.
June 21st went on to be the day of our first date; a date that started and never really ended. It was the end of our previous lives and the start of our shared life to come, and it all started with burning bedsheets under a full moon.
Happy June 20th to us- Our Summer Solstice Anniversary.
I'll be forever amazed by all of what can happen when you tell the Universe you are ready to take a step in the right direction.
Part 2 to be continued...
Fitness, health and wellness have been lifelong interests of mine . I've always been athletic and involved in some type of physical sport or outlet but after my high school and college phases I felt like I wandered for a while in hopes of finding where I would feel the most at home within those industries. Throughout high school I was a runner and then for 3 years following high school I quit running on trails and tracks and switched over to running whitewater as a river-guide. Both experiences, running and guiding, have played significant roles in my character building and mental strength over the years, but both seem to have had their season for me, and I've never had this burning desire to go back to either lifestyle.
In the last year as I have under gone huge transformations and transitions in my life, so many things have become clear to me; about the things I'm supposed to pursue, the things I'm passionate about, and the things that call to me. I've been dipping my toes into a few different things health and wellness related, which I am excited to start sharing publicly about soon but at this phase of life, what has called to me the most has been practicing
If you haven't tried it, you need to. It is the best workout I've ever had!
I have found this sense of being completely at home within my Self, my mind, body + spirit each time I find myself on my yoga mat. And I've been surprised too, practicing yoga has been teaching me mental strength in a different way than raging rapids or a finish line ever taught me. Yoga has taught me to have that same tough cookie mental endurance and belief in myself, but in a more humble and soft-spoken way.
Not only is yoga an incredibly well rounded practice that gives you a work out mentally, emotionally and physically, but for me, it does spiritually, which I've figured out is the reason why I feel so called to it.
I don't know what most people are made up of, but I've been told I'm amongst the minority. I'm made up of about 90% spirituality, and I think my most basic human need is to be in tune with my own Spirit, the earth, the Higher Powers I believe in and the interconnectedness of people and creations.
Yoga has honored every need I have, while allowing me to be present, to work hard, to push myself and to accept myself as I am in this exact moment.
Last week there was one night where I slept for just a few short hours and woke up, knowing that I was going to be dragging my feet but that I had yoga to look forward to that morning with my favorite instructor so I didn't dare miss it. Although tired, I forced myself out of the house and got into class, rolled out my mat, and tried keeping up with my own normal pace in class, only to find that my body was so overly worn out. Yawns kept overtaking me and in that moment I realized I was beyond any normal level of tired. The day before had been filled with important conversations, closure and answers that I've been waiting years to receive. A day filled with tears, and dusty heartstrings being awoken and rattled around a bit. It's been a while since I've been in touch with past heartaches like that and in a sense, spring cleaning and finding peace with memories from a time long ago. It's painful; that soul stuff that comes up now and then in our lives, isn't it? But it can be so good for us too. My mind, body and spirit were tired, because they had been pushed, and stretched, and reminded of what it's like to feel deeply in a way that I haven't for maybe too long. I'm grateful to be able to feel all that I had felt! What a blessing it is, that we get to feel and to experience and to know love and loss and joy and suffering. I think emotions are just beautiful and incredible things.
There came a point in class that morning where I completely let go and broke down: my face was soaked in both sweat and tears and I couldn't tell which was which. I was able to let my cares, my expectations, my heartaches literally melt away into my mat, to roll off of me, and to process so many different things in a way that I've never done before in a yoga class. My practice that morning was sacred, divine, and vital. At the end of class I bowed to myself, and just had tears stream down my face... I had such an immense gratitude for where I am at in life. I'm finally living in my own truth. And that's been a long journey for me to be able to say that. That particular yoga practice brought closure, gratitude, and a sudden awareness as if it was JUST setting in, some of the transitions and sacrifices and blessings and changes that have happened in my life in the last year. Life's funny like that; sometimes there's a delay before things set in and feel real. In a small amount, that day I was able to honor myself for how much I've changed and learned and become in this process.
During that class I kept wondering, why today? Of all days. When my practice was tired and groggy, why was today the day that I felt like I had all of these enlightened realizations? Well, I wasn't on top of my game like I normally was - I was exhausted. I think of the spiritual practice of fasting, often times in seeking guidance or direction, we humble ourselves physically and take away some of our physical strength by surrendering sustenance, and while our physical needs take a seat on the back burner, our other senses seem to be more aware. That's how I felt being so sleep deprived. Finally, the messages that I've been waiting months for on my yoga mat were able to get through to me, because I WAS worn down and running on fumes.
I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the safe space I've found within yoga, being able to honor myself and my craving for being spiritually fed. I'm grateful for the moments I'm given to change, to understand, to learn, to realize, and to become.
Our spirits are a blessing: I'm so grateful to finally be close to mine again.
At this time last year, I was living in a squishy 400 square foot studio apartment where my bathroom, bedroom and kitchen all made eye contact with each other, every minute of the day. Now, I find myself living this dream life living in a stunning and completely remodeled 3,000 square foot home and life has become this crash course all at once in motherhood, interior decorating, homemaking, and a million others areas that I've tried to find expertise in without much previous experience!
While we are on the topic of the home, let me tell you about what I've found in the short time of living in one. The feelings and intentions we put into the space that we live in are what differentiate a house from being a home. I've been trying to make our space not only a place where we can reside, but a place that my family can grow and flourish in. I've decorated rooms, picked out furniture, deep cleaned; you know, the whole bit, everything that comes with being a caretaker of the home... but what I've been getting the most excited about lately regarding a home has been seeing that a little overachieving and creativity with carrying out projects can add priceless, special touches to a home that make it feel like your own. My recent emphasis has been placed on creating a magic space in our backyard with a few fun projects. I'm the type of person who craves being outside and on a hard day, nothing soothes or lifts me faster than catching a breath of fresh air somewhere beautiful outdoors. So with that in mind, I wanted to share some little glimpses of what we've started to do so far to transform our backyard from an abandoned mess left behind by the previous home owners into a magical space. Keep in mind, most of the time in life, we are never ready for anything. I'm definitely not ready to share my backyard with my readers yet because it's not done or completed how I want yet, but for the sake of squishing the "perfection" standard I usually set for myself, I'm going to be brave and show you, unfinished, our backyard efforts thus far, in case some of you want to get started and need some inspiration!
Last week my husband Kacey and I decided to hang a hammock in our one and only precious tree and we built a fire pit in some dead space in our backyard. Maybe this sounds simple, but it was a ton of work, from the weeding, to digging in the rocks to set up the fire pit haha! I couldn't do these projects without my good man and I'm so grateful he's always so enthusiastic about helping me carry out my ideas. He gets major husband points lately for being such an amazing partner in creation and I love seeing what we can come up with as a team! I think one of the times that I love him the most is when we are working hard and being creative together, so if your marriage is needing some extra spice and you're wanting to bond on a deeper level, try picking a DIY project to carry out together!
This week we decided to dive into a couple of other projects to add onto our happy corner with the hammock from last week. With some help of Pinterest, I was able to gather up a few good ideas for us to attempt. I fell in love with this bench, and also the way that some genius on Pinterest had made good use of their backyard fence to hang lights. Here are the original pictures I had seen that gave me the inspiration to recreate it.
Here are two separate lists of the magic ingredients needed for creating your magic backyard space. We found everything we needed at Lowe's.
For your backyard bench:
- Shovel to level the ground before laying the blocks
- 14 Cinderblocks
- 6 Wooden Beams - 8 ft long each (We chose pre-stained ones, but you can just do regular beams and then stain them yourself or leave them plain)
- Couch cushions and pillows of your choosing
- 1 tube of Liquid Nails to glue the cinderblocks together (Liquid Nails is a construction adhesive that bonds any surface, found in the paint/caulking section)
For fence lighting + path lights:
- 6 Flower basket hangers which came with two screws
- Solar paneled lamps of your choosing (Preferably they'd have the little hook on top for easy hanging purposes, unless you want to get creative wrapping wire to make them hangable)
- Path lights of your choosing - There are these cute, dainty path lights on sale at Lowe's right now, each box comes with 6 lights and each box is just $15! We got 2 packages with 12 lights total but you can do as few or as many as you'd like.
LETS GET STARTED!
Oh! I forgot to mention that the last magic ingredient you'll need to carry out these projects is: KACEY.... everybody needs a Kacey! If you have one of those, he'll make it all work out perfectly and do most of the heavy lifting like a gentleman.
Bench instructions: You'll want to level the ground where you're going to lay the bricks and put the sides of the bench as close or far apart as you want. In the pinterest picture, you can see that there was quite a bit of hang-off on the ends of those beams, and in our pictures you'll notice there was none, because I liked our way better and our three cushions needed as much space as they could get. Start playing building blocks with your cinderblocks and glue them as you go to secure them in place. Slide in the beams as you go too. My biggest recommendation would be to put the bench up against a solid wall or fence behind you, so that the cinderblocks have support behind them and your backrest will be sturdy. You can paint the cinderblocks if you'd like to give it a special touch before you get started but I didn't mind the natural looking colors, so we left it as is. Then lay down your cushions and pillows, and voila! Your bench is done!
Hanging lamp instructions: Pretty simple, grab your flower basket hangers, drill the screws into sturdy fence posts, turn the solar paneled lamps on and hang them.
Path light instructions: Turn on solar paneled path lights and steak them in the ground.
Look at this hot handy man!
Lets show you the big picture, with the bench, hammock, fire pit and lanterns all together! It looks amazing and now I'll just be adding some finishing touches, like decorating with plants and pillows and one of these days maybe making some fairy gardens with the kids!
And if you're curious about our hammock or fire pit, the hammock was found on Amazon and the fireplace came as a DIY set from Lowe's!
I hope this helps give you some backyard inspiration! If anyone makes anything similar to this I want to see pictures of your finished product!
Now, who's coming over to roast marshmallows?
As most of you know, with my husband Kacey's job there are a lot of opportunities to travel around for conventions and RV shows and every now and then, I get lucky enough to accompany Kacey on these trips. This last week we went to Orlando Florida for a convention. It was a short trip but we definitely were able to make some wonderful memories in the small amount of time we had there.
The first thing we had to do was get breakfast waffles from "Waffle House" which Kacey is hopelessly obsessed with. Let me let you in on a little secret about my husband:
Waffles are his very favorite food!
We also attended our first Cirque Du Soleil show (La Nouba) at Disney Springs and we were blown away by the performers - has anyone else seen one of those shows before? We sat starry eyed the entire show trying to soak in all of the excitement and talent going on in front of us!
Something so sweet on our trip was that Kacey helped one of my silly dreams come true. I have always had this hope of buying something (anything really) from Tiffany & Co for obvious reasons, so on this trip Kacey bought me a darling pair of Tiffany & Co Sunglasses. I put them on and Kacey looked at me with a big smile and said,
"Now you're Tiffanie wearing Tiffany!"
Kacey is such a sweetheart, and every girls dream man. He spoils me like crazy, which is definitely a perk but that doesn't even come close to being the tip of the iceberg for the endless reasons why I married him. You don't have to tell me, I know I'm the luckiest woman alive to have him, to interact with him every moment and to receive his love daily!
Any time that I tell him of one of my life goals or dreams, he supports it and pushes me to accomplish it and then after I've reached my goal, he tells me,
"DREAM BIGGER BABY!"
He makes me feel unstoppable and so loved and I think everyone needs a cheerleader like him in their life.
Smooch break, close your eyes kids!
Last of all we went to Discovery Cove where we met an actual SLOTH, random, right? But it was so cute and it's trainer just held it like a little baby! At Discovery Cove we had this little luau and Hawaiian night where there were beautiful hula dancers and entertainers.
My favorite part of the trip was that night when the hula dancers invited Kacey to go up to the front of the "stage" in the sand and show the entire audience how his hips don't lie. He made me fall in love with him all over again right then and there and I do have a video as proof, but for my husbands reputation I will keep that to myself; even though it's the most adorable thing I've ever seen Kacey do.
On a serious note, who volunteers to take hula dancing lessons with me because I HAVE to learn how to do that!
A fun fact is that last July, Kacey and I were in Orlando on a business trip and he proposed to me at Universal Studios outside of the Hard Rock cafe! Being back in the same place, but now as husband and wife, brought back all sorts of sweet memories. I remember all of the excitement, the unreal anxiety I had about telling my family I was now engaged after just having been divorced, and getting our engagement pictures taken that week! That was the craziest time ha! Now it's been a little under a year since that time and I'm sure glad to know that I have Kacey for my very own for the rest of my life - with his mad hula dancing skills and all (:
Guess what happened this week you guys! Remember the first baby I ever had? The hairy one with a wet nose? He turned TWO on Monday. I can’t believe how all at once, time has flown, yet it seems just like yesterday that I found him. Some of you have heard about my pup, but if you haven’t heard the story of Whisper, sit tight and I’ll share a story that’s one of the closest to my heart.
During the summer of 2015 I was living in Corpus Christi Texas working for my brothers’ summer sales company. One hot day mid-July I was in a hurry on my way to work driving down a 6-lane road when I saw out of the corner of my eye a small black dog trying to dodge between countless cars to make it to the other side of the road. The next moments in real time of course flew by so quickly but this small segment of events is forever frozen in time to me and I can remember it as though it were happening right now. Upon seeing that little dog, I should admit, my first thought was to just ignore him and hope for the best; after all, I was in a hurry, and if he was a stray, surely, he had crossed the road a time or two before and probably knew what he was doing. But then I heard this little whisper that told me,
“Tiffanie, stop and help him. He needs help.”
I tried to push away the good Samaritan instincts that my conscience was triggering and I justified in my head “Someone else will help him!” But the whisper again told me, “Tiffanie, he doesn’t just need help. He needs YOUR help. Protect him.” Now willing and convinced that the universe had planned for this dog to end up in front of me, I stopped my car in the middle of this busy road, in the middle of my lane, turned on my hazard lights, and got out of my car with the lame intention to sort of shoo this dog out of the road. This filthy little dog looked at me, and I thought as a stranger I might spook him and he’d take off running. But rather than running away from me, he ran right at me and started jumping all over me, as if to say,
“You’re here, you came, I’ve been waiting for you!”
Without too many options, as I was parked and traffic was piling up behind me, I scooped him up in my arms and got back into the car and drove a couple of minutes to my place of work. I worked alone within a tiny run down office with one small bathroom, a desk, and a bunch of piles of materials, work shirts, and pesticides. I sat down in my office chair, holding this dog, and took a good look at him. His condition was ROUGH and my heart started to break. For one, I don’t know how he hadn’t turned into a flea himself; his body was crawling with HUNDREDS of fleas and his skin appeared to be halfway peeled off, being over taken by what looked like leprosy, which I came to find out is a condition called mange. His fur was long and tangled, housing several bush branches and weeds that made him look like Frankenstein with these sticks entangled in him. He was going to need some serious TLC. I knew I had gotten myself into a sticky situation. At the time, I was living in an apartment that had a strict policy against pets, and I had no intention of allowing this dog into my home. I figured, I’d bathe and clean him, feed him and love up on him a little, and then find a shelter to admit him into by the end of the day. I started searching the office and garage that had to be 120 degrees that day for anything I could possibly use to take care of this dog. I found a nearly empty bottle of Dawn dish soap, a pair of office scissors and grabbed a few extra sales rep work shirts for towels and blankets. I bathed him in the bathroom sink as the ghetto water stained ceiling above me dripped water from a recent thunderstorm, and tried scrubbing this poor filthy guy off. I dried him with the work shirts, and sat with him in my lap as I pulled out branches and fleas from him coat. For a good hour or two, we became well acquainted with the scissors as I gave him a haircut and he could finally see as we trimmed his long bangs. I checked his body to see if there were any visible wounds, aside from the skin condition, and then worked my way up to his face. His eyes looked good, his ears, normal, and then I opened his mouth to find, that this poor thing was a newborn puppy. He had a mouth full of the smallest, growing puppy teeth. Upon finding him I thought he had to be 10 years old, from how dirty he was, hanging his head low while he limped around slowly, as though he had no reason to live. My heart just broke in two, seeing that this was the start of his fragile little life; he had somehow been kicked to the curb, walking around having his newborn puppy paw pads scorched on the melting asphalt of southern Texas in the middle of July, with nothing to eat, no one to look over and care for him. I called a nearby vet and asked if I could come in for an urgent appointment with a stray. I made a few calls to all the shelters in the area to see if anyone had called in a missing puppy, or if they could take him in but every shelter was at their full capacity. I looked all over Facebook for rescue groups, missing animal posts and reports, and came up empty handed. No one knew of him, and no one was looking for him either.
The pup and I went in to the vet and I’ll never forget how caring this veterinarian was. He could tell how emotionally involved and shaken up I was, and assured me,
“We will have this pup feeling better in no time.”
He was so gentle with him, told me how we could clear up his skin, what antibiotics to get him on, and we basically started at square one for all the basic and mandatory care for this dog. I asked the vet to play detective with me, so we could try our best to fill in the blanks of this story together – where did this puppy come from? What had happened to cause for him to be so alone so young in the world? His tail was previously cropped and his dew claws had been removed, which indicated to us that there was someone who had intended on giving him a life with care and maintenance, and that he had possibly escaped or been taken and dropped off somewhere. The puppy was given a flea bath, some vaccinations, as well as some squishy cheese treat that he fell in love with the vet over. The vet looked at his teeth and told me this baby was just three months old. The date was July 17 of 2015 and I filled out his medical records, stating that we’d claim April 17th as the day of his birth, from our estimates based on his puppy teeth. How… I kept asking myself? How had he kept himself alive the last three months? Spending his day munching on scraps and sticks?! Roaming the ghetto of Corpus Christi, with plenty of other strays who could’ve harmed him. No mother to nurse him. No family or owners to nurture and protect him. What a horrible beginning to his precious little life.
I was amazed at his resilient little spirit, what a warrior!
Throughout that day, it became apparent to me that God had intended on us finding each other; this puppy was fighting to stay alive, while I was fighting some super severe emotional and marital battles at the time that felt like fighting for my life and my sanity too. We were two warriors brought together, to keep each other strong, to share the love that we were both so desperately needing. He spent the day in my arms, in and out of stores rounding up a collar, some dog food and bowls, toys and a blanket and some puppy pads. With each passing minute in the presence of this loving animal, I realized that there is so much to life outside of ourselves and our worries, our battles to beat the clock and to get the paycheck… there is suffering, there is longing for love and help and hope, there’s so much more than just us!
I thought back on how significant the timing of all of this was. I thought about how I was in no position to keep him, but I knew I would. The whispers kept replaying repeatedly in my head “Tiffanie, he doesn’t just need help, he needs YOUR help.” I brought him home and that was that!
I decided to name him Whisper, in honor of the whispers that had led me earlier that day. I wanted to keep him as a symbolic reminder, that every day of our lives, there are these heaven-sent whispers that try to shape and guide our paths, if we choose to be still enough to listen and accept the guidance that they gently present to us. I know that Whisper saved me, at such an important and difficult time in my life, and I know that I had the chance to save him too. It’s beautiful how God intends for that to happen; when we give, we take. When we save, we are saved. When we rescue God’s own, God’s own rescues us too.
St Matthew 25
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
40 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Whisper, my first baby, stands today, healthy and oh so happy, as a hyper yet tender mercy, helping me remember that our lives are full of moments; small, seemingly insignificant moments and presented decisions, that maybe we think nothing of at the time, that either open or close the most important doors we’ll ever come across. He helps me remember to be still, each day, and to live in such a way that I remain sensitive to the heaven-sent Whisperings around me. I really do believe that God makes more out of our lives than we ever could on our own and I know that Whisper and I were never really strangers; he was meant to find me all along. Here’s to many more, with my sweet baby boy.
Is it just me, or when spring rolls around do you feel like a completely new person after an all too long winter hibernation? I'm thrilled that flowers are in bloom, birds are singing, and the earth is coming back to life. I simultaneously come back to life around this time too, so I wanted to share a quick update about what I've been up to lately.
+ I've been diving into learning how to use my Canon 80D and putting together family videos. Which I could go on about for miles but I won't. I'll just say, it's a lot of information, sometimes can be pretty overwhelming, but I'm trying to take baby steps into beginner photography and throwing together videos to preserve moments I don't want to miss. Go check out the projects I've done so far and subscribe if you want to be notified of the projects to come by clicking HERE.
+ Currently re-reading: The Power of Now which has been one of my all time favorites since I was 17. What're you reading?
+ One month from today our episode of America's Funniest Home Videos will be aired and then we'll finally be able to talk about how we did and more of what the experience was like! Don't miss it!
+ Our house that we moved into this last November had a pretty wild backyard that hadn't been maintained so I have been working on the weeds, trimming, and lawn reviving nearly every day. I hope it'll make a quick and healthy comeback after who knows how long it's been out of control. A couple of weeks ago Kacey, Daxten + I began planting a small vegetable garden in our backyard. I've not attempted a garden before as an adult but have some faint + fond memories of helping grow a family garden when I was young. I'm hoping to get by on memories and heavy Pinterest research, haha. We've got sweet peas, carrots and strawberries going so far, and I'll be starting cherry and pear tomatoes, lavender, mint, corn, sweet and hot peppers, chives and chamomile, and green beans indoors soon. I'm excited and nervous about the gardening... I've always had a knack for indoor greenery and in the past my bedrooms and dorm rooms have been full of plants, flowers and succulents but outdoor gardening will be new to me. I also set out my hummingbird feeders and bird feeders in the backyard and so far Mr. Squirrel is the only one who's discovered them, but I'm hopeful the other hungry critters will find them too. Once I get the backyard under control, my next project will be filling the porches with plants, the yards with flowers, hanging strung fairy lights in the backyard and making it kid friendly. It's been a big project already, but I love being outside and find yard work to be therapeutic.
+ Recently I was asked to be a part of a "Sunshine Committee" for my church where I'll be helping with acts of kindness and cheer, and I thought that calling was right up my alley! I'm excited to spread a little dose of light and love to neighbors in need of it.
+ Kacey's been preparing to open a brand new store for the RV company he works for in Meridian, so he's been gone and out of town on and off nonstop. He's seriously a working machine and he never takes a break. It's both amazing and exhausting to get glimpses of what he does at work in a day. I remember when we first got married, I was terrified of being left alone with the three kids by myself, but my superwoman Mommy Tiff muscles have been getting stronger and when he has to go out of town these days, we survive just fine, though of course we still miss our sweet Daddy.
Side note: Kacey has been looking to fill quite a few positions for the massive new store that'll be opening in May and I've been trying to help send good people his way, so if you know of anyone looking for an amazing career in the RV industry get a hold of me! There are going to be so many different positions available for the new store, so many opportunities to make some amazing money and the hiring process has started. Also, if there are any girls or wives who are ready to move to Idaho to be my best friend, let's try to get your boyfriend or husband a job so you can come be by me! Email me if you're interested >> Tiffaniemichele22@gmail.com
+ I'm loving Motherhood more and more with each passing day and it's all because of how sweet and sacred Daxten, Taizley + Oakley are! (Ages 4, 2 + 1)
The individual relationships that I have with the kids are growing and getting deeper and more meaningful, which is the best feeling in the world. And every time I'm with them I'm reminded of how much I needed them in my life. It's so fulfilling to see that they are more obsessed with me by the day, because I seriously put my entire heart and every bit of energy into loving and teaching and helping them - especially since each of them are still so dependent in every way, from eating to talking and dressing, and every other basic function! It's nice to have some love come back around my way from the little ones I give all of my love to! They are all hitting big milestones - Daxten is learning to sleep through the night without having accidents in his bed or pajamas, which I'm grateful for. He's also blowing my mind with how smart he's getting, with numbers and colors and his knowledge of left and right, pronouncing huge words, and remembering the craziest things that we taught him forever back. Taizley is learning how to talk better every time we have her, it's crazy how fast she's picking up on words and piecing together better sentences. And Oakley - is a walking, blabbering machine! She's trying so hard to keep up with the big kids and I secretly just don't want her to grow up. I'll forever be bummed that I missed the snuggly, newborn baby stage with her, since I met her when she was 6 months and anxious to grow up! But seriously, the kids are the biggest blessing in my life; asides from their adorable Daddy who keeps me smiling, and breathing, if we're being real. He's my world. They all are.
That's it for now! Hope everybody is enjoying spring, eating yummy fresh foods that are finally coming back into season, reading inspiring books that set your own thoughts and questions on fire about this human experience, not taking yourself too seriously, sharing all of the love that you can, and soaking in the present moments that we're blessed to enjoy. Life is good... never perfect, but good, isn't it?
A few months back our family submitted a video into America's Funniest Home Videos. We were surprised to hear back that they had chosen us to be apart of the top 3 finalists on the 27th episode of the show. They invited our family, and the babysitter who had been in our home video to fly out with her mom, to be filmed on the show in LA! We flew for the first time with our two oldest kids, leaving our baby and dog home and took our first out of state family trip! The kids were thrilled to be on an airplane and I was just thrilled that we survived a flight with our kids who don't like to hold still for very long.
We were in LA for 3 days so we tried to squeeze in everything we could in that short amount of time. We had a chance to visit with some of my extended family, ate some amazing meals, spent a day on set of AFV, met Alfonso Ribeiro, visited Santa Monica Beach + Pier, and had a couple of nice, relaxing days together as a family. The only thing I wish we had done that we ran out of time for would have been renting bikes to ride along the beach. We'll have to try to do it next time!
We aren't able to disclose our results from being on the show until after our episode has aired, which should be on April 30th, so tune into that to see how we did! It was super fascinating to see what kind of work goes into the behind the scenes of television shows: and we were relieved to know that the audience actually DOES vote, right then and there. We felt lucky to be apart of a fun weekend and our once in a lifetime opportunity with AFV has been memorable, all around surprising, and one that we will look back on forever! If you have any funny home videos send them in! You never know, you might just find yourself on a plane going to LA to meet Alfonso!
I’m Tiffanie Michele; the fire and author behind The Lion Hearted Girl. In August of 2016 I married my other half, Kacey Jensen, who came as a buy 1 get 3 free kind of deal. He’s given me the blessing of instantly becoming “Mommy Tiff” to our boy Daxten and girls, Taizley + Oakley. We are living our happily ever after in Meridian Idaho with our mini schnauzer Whisper and stand as living proof that there is life + love to be found after divorce. Home is now where the noise is, the diapers need changing, tummies need feeding, and every once in a while, I sit down to document how life has been nothing like we planned but significantly better.