Easy Like Sunday Morning- Alisa

sunday morning lounging the bloomerie

Sunday mornings.

Not just any Sunday morning, but an easy Sunday morning in the fall, like that Lionel Richie song, except that this day’s soundtrack is full of sappy Ray LaMontagne. Yes.

No alarm is set, but it doesn’t matter, because when the sun comes up, my eyes open up. I lay there, grab my fluffy, white comforter, and pull it back over my head. Just for a few minutes. Maybe a few minutes more.

When the time is right and I become bored of my oh-so-comfortable pillows, I roll out of bed and into a cozy sweater and blue jeans, the pair that I wear a bit too much. They greet me like an old friend, still warm from the last time I wore them, which it seems, was probably the day before. I splash my face with warm water, run a brush through my messy mane, and throw it back in a loose braid. I’m not one to do much with my hair.

Before anything else, I want coffee.

Actually, I want a latte, so I tug on a jacket over my sweater and step out into the crisp fall air. It’s that time of year when the air is so cool and crisp it quenches my thirst. A cool breeze hits my bare face, quickening my pace to the nearest coffee shop which, fortunately, isn’t too far away. Inhabiting the heart of downtown has its perks.

As soon as I am back in the comfort of my bright and sunny apartment, it’s time for breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day, of the week, and pretty much of all time. I have two options on the weekends: make the meal or buy it. Today I think I’ll make it. I’ve been really into cooking lately anyway. I crack two eggs onto a pan, and one oozes a bit while the other one is picture perfect. Typical. I crack another one into a bowl. While my imperfect eggs sizzle sunny-side up, I sprinkle cinnamon and teeny, tiny bit of milk into the bowl for some french toast!

Breakfast is best accompanied by a book or mellow conversation.

Since I have nothing planned, I can sit down and eat slowly while I am enlightened by a conversation with my love. He decided to sleep in today. We talk about big things and small things, humorous things and serious things. We talk about each other as a team and ourselves as individual beings. The conversation lasts as long or short as we want it to, and silent moments are welcomed when they arrive.

That is my favorite part about sharing these mornings with him - our silence is just as full of thought and love as our words.

The rest of the day floats along, not in a lazy way, but in a spontaneously calm way. Activities come and go, conversations drift and deepen, and my energy is maintained until it’s time again to melt into that marshmallow bed, this time tangled up with this man I love.

A slow morning gently commands a slow day, a time and existence that I consider my paradise. Forcing myself to act slowly, to think slowly and intentionally, (to stop and smell the roses if you will) seems to suspend time and allows me to live more fully. I ask you, what could be more wonderful than a full, happy, purposeful, loving life?

How Choosing myself changed my love story

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I have been part of my fair share of love stories.

That’s because I love deeply. From boyfriends, to falling in love with buildings and words. But although I love deeply, I don’t love quickly. I am a Pandora's box of discernment and intrigue. All of my love stories begin with hurdles as their pre-requisites Just ask my best friends how we became best friends…. (I didn’t profess my love to Chloe till 5 years after knowing her. I literally slept on a 3 hour car ride with Hayley because I didn't want to sing along to her music when we were 15, and Bradley and I became best friends after sitting in a Panera bread with our moms and not saying one word to each other).

My love story with Florence (Firenze) is no different. It’s supposed to be perfect all the time, right?

Living in the place where culture seeps from the brick and mortar, where food is fresh and delicious, where you have to climb up eight flights of stairs to your class. You’re supposed to fall in love the moment your feet land on the cobblestone. I was supposed to fall in love.

But like every great love story … I didn’t fall in love right away. I was annoyed.

The “fresh food” was pasta and bread…. All. The. Time. …Everywhere. I hate pasta and bread.

Coconut oil? Almond butter? Soy milk? Green vegetable powder? Gluten free bread? SIKE! I had to go on excursions to find these staples in my life…. to then have to pay an arm and a leg for them.

The streets were cold and rainy always. Alleys are dark, and I wasn’t sure if I could trust Firenze.

I would set out on morning adventures to find gorgeous hills and architecture, to taste fresh baked Cornettos from the Mom and Pop Bakery. Instead, I would find old pastries and another statue of the David to add to the collection. I was disillusioned by Firenze.

I was panicking because our relationship seemed to be struggling, and perfect matches don’t struggle right?! So I would make rash and quick choices, peer pressured by everyone else’s relationships with Firenze. Choices like getting a sandwich (ok like 5) that I absolutely hated, or doing things everyone else seemed to truly enjoy.

But just like in any great love story, this one is personal, unique, and most importantly, you give. I had to give.

I was expecting Firenze to shower me with all it had, while forgetting I had a lot inside me too.

I had to choose who I was going to be in our relationship. I had to choose Valentina for this relationship to work. That meant eating what I wanted from the store I wanted, not conforming to what I “should” do because I’m abroad. That meant sitting, waiting, wishing in the middle of the streets without the apprehension and fear that I would miss out, comparing myself to others love stories.

And then one day…I chose to take another route to class. Because I knew that route would get me there. Because I knew the streets. Because I figured out my favorite coffee bar was not the most popular one, but the shack next to class that also doubles as a tabachi. Because the first month of a relationship you fight, and figure out who you both are and who you both need to be for all of it to work.

Some days I wake up early and make myself a Moka, and go to the Mercato Centrale and buy fresh veggies, and come back home to make a goat cheese omelet and just open the windows and spend the day at home.

Other days, I take a walk to Piazza Michelangelo and walk through the gardens, and listen to Dear Prudence by The Beatles, pretending it is Firenze’s love song to me.

Slowly, I’m choosing me; and Firenze is showing me the best parts of her.

I think I’m falling in love.

 

Habits of Perpetually Happy People

For as long as I can remember, my mind has been captive to negative thoughts.

I wasn’t necessarily aware of it, but I was definitely not a “glass half full” person if you were to ask me. I knew that I longed for joy – but I really believed my circumstances just weren’t allowing for it. Whether it was cranky kids, sheer exhaustion, or a season of sickness, I always felt the odds were stacked against me in my search for happiness.

I so badly wanted to find this ‘paradise’ in my life – that time and place where everything would finally go my way. I was so caught up in the “if/then” game: “If only the kids were a little bit older, then things would be easier.” Or: “If I could just get a solid night of sleep, then I wouldn’t be so irritable all the time.”

In my quest for this personal paradise, I continually fell short, of course.

If anything in my day went wrong, I would immediately start in with grumbling and complaining. One thought would lead to another and soon I found myself back down that slippery slope of self-pity.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I became conscious of how my thoughts were dictating the course of my day. I started to see that happiness was actually a choice, and I was definitely not choosing it.

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I decided I was in need of a serious life change. I researched the habits of perpetually happy people and the overwhelming theme that came up was gratitude. So I started to keep a thankful journal and wrote down all of the blessings I’ve been given, big and small. Soon after, things started to change for me. It was really hard to feel sorry for myself when my heart was so full of gratitude.

Another trait that habitually positive people possess is keeping their minds focused on uplifting thoughts. It took some time, but I trained my mind to literally re-route itself each time a negative thought came creeping in. I would replace it with something positive and life-giving instead. And slowly but surely I noticed my perspective began to shift.

The end result has been a completely new way of thinking, and an unexplainable joy I haven’t known before. I feel like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, eager to explore all this world has to offer. I’m seeing the world in color for the first time after knowing only black and white.

With this newfound gratitude, I’m noticing beauty everywhere.

And I’m realizing it’s truly the smallest, simplest moments that make for an extraordinary life. Lattes with a friend, a pedicure, my daughter’s eyes, the sound of rain, a certain smile of my son’s, my favorite cozy socks, clean sheets, sunsets, a beautiful tree. I am in constant awe of it all.

I hope I never lose this new sense of wonder. I want the ocean to take my breath away every time I see it. I pray my senses are always shocked when I arrive to the mountains, taking in that crisp, fresh air. I hope I always notice the white, budding flowers in Spring and the deepest purple violets blooming.

I’d been searching high and low for joy-filled days all of these years. Could it really be this simple? Was paradise here the whole time, right in front of me?

I have new eyes to see and a fresh outlook on life. I want to be a sunshine seeker, a kindness spreader, and a beauty finder.

Paradise, I think I finally found you. And I couldn’t be happier.

i came to see others, but in turn i was seen

Photo courtesy of @oliviariddering

Photo courtesy of @oliviariddering

There’s something about dropping everything, packing a bag, hopping on a plane or piling up in a car for a weekend and letting your daily routines be stagnant for a few days. 

There’s something about entering a weekend ready to engage in all the activities that make your soul feel lighter but also so full. 

The moments when you (maybe because you lost your signal) unplug the social media IV (even if it’s just for a few hours until the wifi works again) and really engage in conversation with the people around you.

Bloom Weekend was all of this and more. 

This of course is coming from my one, biased perspective, but I bet if you asked any of the ladies who attended they would have similar sentiments.

You know how sometimes you’ll go to unfamiliar places, meeting equally unfamiliar people and the whole environment feels awkward for so long and the ice seems to never really break? Yeah, that was NOT this weekend. Even for the ambassadors it was as if no moment was missed. The second we were all together everything felt so normal as if that wasn’t the first time we were meeting each other in person (because fun fact for a lot of us, it was!) Once everyone was in the same room, we small talked for maybe about five minutes and then it got real, real fast and the tears came and the doors of vulnerability were opened because there was something that felt safe in that space and we all knew it. We could let all the walls we walked in with crumble to the floor, we could let the various scenarios running around in our heads come to a halt. 

We came to see others but in reality, we were seen too.

Every single lady came for a reason, whether that was to meet new people, to experience something new, to find themselves again, to rest, to get away from their kids for more than 24 hours or to wake up with mimosas and fall asleep with wine.

Though there were various reasons for coming, we all walked away feeling seen, feeling known, feeling heard, feeling refreshed or like me, feeling more whole than when we left. 

What happens when a group of women vow to show up?

Photo by @oliviariddering

Photo by @oliviariddering

When a group of women commit to be present, to dive heart first, head last into vulnerability, something transformational happens. You hear a lot of “Me too” and “I see you.” How freaking beautiful. When all our lives we are consumed with messages to compete, to judge, to ostracize one another- can you imagine what happens when we stand against that? When we finally get the courage to say, “No, that’s not how this is going to go. We’re going to cheer one another on, show up and challenge each other”  and when we do that, we automatically become orchestrators of change and administrators of straight up magic. We become the melodies contradicting all the lies we’ve told ourselves that we are alone and not enough. 

Bloom Weekend was the intimate and earth shattering connection between women all over the world. We laughed, we wined and dined (literally), we made s'mores and cuddled, everyday turned into a photoshoot to some extent, coffee greeted us as we woke and so did the handful of beautiful, bead headed babes. We defined “Tribe” and what it means to bloom and dug into what seasons we personally felt we were experiencing. There was nothing unfamiliar or strange about us all together in the coziest cabin/farm house I’ve ever seen.

It was like coming home to each other but also to our truest selves.

At one point in the weekend, I had the honor of sharing poems with the ladies one night and earlier I had gone on a walk through the crisp Forest area of Northern Minnesota and spilled out this poem after the first two days.

 

This is where the magic happens

This is where the walls break down

And the flood gates open

 

This is healing

This is rebirth

This is where the magic happens

 

And what does it mean

When a group of women vow to show up

Vow to say yes, give themselves permission to say no

 vow to rest, vow to start again

 

And what do you call it

When a group of women declare "Me too"

When we agree to be outstretched hands and open arms

 when we admit we have nothing to give

Learn That it is not wrong for us to receive

 

When we are the mantras of "baby get back up" that we've forgotten how to sing for ourselves

Dive head first into vulnerability

Pull our bleeding hearts from their cages and know that they deserve to be loved

Know that you deserve to be loved

All hot mess, strong willed

Told for so long that we were women who more mouthfuls than people can swallow

And you've heard far too long that you need to make yourself small

Make yourself less

And so you've been trying to shove wings into boxes that were always meant to kiss air

 

And what if I told you that this is where the magic happens?

This is where reality shatters at the abnormal of us

Where on earth as it is in heaven takes place in these tears

In the decision to show up

To look one another in the eyes

To drink much and spill even more

 Carry tribe on our chest because that is where our identity rest

 

To flourish and bloom

To grow and stay rooted

To uproot

relocate

To feel solid ground only for a moment

 

And when we leave here the walls will still break

The floodgates will still open

Because it doesn't end here

No no not even close

This is where it all begins

 

I believe wholeheartedly in this, in the women I had the honor of meeting. It is weekends like these that make us feel refreshed, alive again and ready to come back to “reality.” I truly believe that it was magic, the people were magic, we made moments where “her success is my success” became tangible before our very eyes. Yes friends, magic indeed.