“Falling” Deeper in Love

Cumberland Falls- Corbin, KY: January 2018

Guys! I am so excited to share this post with you all today! Last weekend, Derek and I visited Cumberland Falls to take our engagement pictures and I cannot express to you how magical the entire experience was. I was literally left speechless from the enormity of our love, from the incredible talent of our photographer, and by the absolute magnificence of the falls during winter. I myself had never visited the falls before but I cannot imagine a better experience. I was initially nervous to take our pictures because I’ve never been comfortable in front of a camera, specifically a professional one that easily picks up every flaw on me. When I got there though, I was so comfortable and happy that it all seemed so effortless. Even our photographer was amazed at how comfortable Derek and I were in front of a camera and she was gushing at how perfect the pictures already were. So, without further ado, I want to share with you all the beauty of Cumberland Falls during the winter and our wonderful engagement pictures. I could not be happier with how they turned out and it makes me even more excited for our wedding! P.s. I may or may not have tears in my eyes looking at these pictures again!

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I could not be more in love with this man or these pictures and I cannot wait for round 2 today! Thank you for sharing these special moments with us!

Love,

The Traveling Brunette

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My Biggest Fitness Tips!

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While I don’t consider myself an expert, I’ve certainly been dedicated to health and fitness long enough that I’ve picked up some great lessons along the way. I’ve had the numerous ups and downs of someone traveling along the journey of making their health a lifestyle rather than a short-term goal, although I’ve definitely had those too. Since I know fitness is on a lot of people’s resolutions for 2018, I thought I would share some of my biggest tips that have helped me along the way.

1. Don’t dwell in the “downs”– This is one of the hardest but most important lessons I have learned. When making health and fitness a lifestyle, you are inevitably going to experience some slip ups or moments of stagnation; everyone does. I spent years being so unbelievably strict, working out for 2-3 hours every single day, never even eating a bite of “bad food”, days of not eating anything and guess what? I was miserable AND I didn’t get a single step closer to bettering my health. These habits weren’t good for my mind or body. It’s taken years but I’ve finally learned to embrace the slip-ups. They’re an important part of my journey. They DO NOT mean I have failed, they DO NOT mean I am unworthy, and they certainly DO NOT mean I will never reach my goals. It’s quite the opposite actually because it means I am human and I’m going to come back stronger than ever tomorrow!

2. Drink more water– I know this one is such a cliche but, man, is it true. I think all of us know that we need to drink more water, but we really don’t make an active effort to do it. And for awhile, I had to force myself to carry around a huge liter of water so I remembered to drink it but I cannot tell you how many benefits my body has experienced! I get less migraines, I’m way less bloated, my skin has started glowing, my hunger has decreased, and so much more! It’s so important to stay hydrated, so find ways that makes drinking water more enjoyable for you.

3. Find the workouts you truly enjoy– First of all, there isn’t one kind of workout that is miraculously going to give you your dream body. It’s important to switch it up and try new things to keep your muscles guessing, to keep away boredom, and to make the greatest gains possible. I used to think running was like the holy grail of fitness, but I hated it. So, I either forced myself to run and dreaded it or I would find excuses not to do it. I didn’t get any closer to my goals and my body did not change. I tried so many workouts and found that I love HIIT and strength training the most. Not only does my body respond to these but I truly love doing them. The most beneficial workout is the one you are actually going to do! So experiment and find what you love and switch it up. Maybe it’s walking with a friend, swimming, weights, kickboxing, Zumba, whatever it is embrace what makes you happy and I promise you’ll start to see the changes much sooner!

4. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet– Unfortunately, we can’t all keep our hyper-active teenage metabolisms. So, making healthy choices is vital in making fitness a lifestyle. Try following the 80/20 rule: pick whole, nutritious foods 80% of the time and indulge in your favorite treats 20%. Not only will it help you shed the pounds, it will improve your skin, help fuel your workouts, give you more energy, and much more. Also, stop labeling foods as “bad”. There is no such thing as a bad food. Those are labels we create ourselves. Just try to fuel your body with nutrient dense foods MOST of the time and stop stressing. I used to put ridiculous labels on foods to the point I refused to eat any food I didn’t cook and I didn’t shed a single pound. Now that I am much more balanced and way less stressed, I’ve lost 30 pounds and never felt better. There’s no miracle diet either. You lose weight by being in a calorie deficit, so any eating style that does that will help you lose weight. Also, don’t use exercise as a punishment for indulging. Work on forgiveness and start over tomorrow. Having a healthy relationship with food is so important!

5. Self-love changes EVERYTHING- Finally, this is my most important tip. It’s so sad for me to say but I literally spent my entire teenage years HATING my body. I viewed it as disgusting and unworthy for not looking like my petite best friend’s or like the girls I saw on magazines. I longed for a naturally petite body, but that’s not what I’ve been given. I have an hourglass figure and naturally muscular build. I will never have a petite or Victoria’s Secret angel’s body, and that okay! I was desiring a body that was literally impossible for me to have. Of course I have fitness role models, but I’ve made sure they have similar builds as me so I can be realistic in my goals. Also, I don’t punish myself for not looking like them anymore. We are all in different parts of our journey and I will never look exactly like someone else. I constantly have goals I want to meet but I’ve finally learned to love my body in every stage of the process. I’ve come so far and even though I want to go further, I worked so hard to be the woman I am today and that’s worth celebrating!!

I really hope you’ve found some comfort and inspiration from this post. Like I said, I’m no expert but I know how lonely and defeated I used to feel on my journey and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. Remember, to love and have fun before anything else. I will always regret the holidays that I was too busy obsessing over my body to enjoy the love and family around me. Enjoying life is so much more important than being shredded, so find your balance and love every step of this journey!

All my love and support,

The Traveling Brunette

“A Love Beyond the Stars”

Original Poem:

 

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I am the moon.

Quiet, full of mysteries, never discovered.

I am covered in craters of insecurities, imperfections.

They run deep and cover me.

 

He is the sun.

Warm, bright, radiant.

Brilliant.

No one can deny his presence. He lights up the world

And all can see and marvel as he shines. Burns.

 

I am the moon, ever-changing, ever-present.

Present in the light and darkness.

He is the force that makes me shine

An altogether brighter being.

I glow from his magnificence.

 

Every day a new goodbye as he leaves to go light the world.

The world is envious of him but I bask in his brilliance.

Ever-present though hardly ever seen.

He burns bright, steady while I glow, change.

I guide his way back home.

 

The sun and the moon

Awaken. Awaken with your star-crossed love.

 

-GT

2018 Resolutions!

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Hello, 2018!

Wow, I can’t believe that 2017 is actually over and 2018 is here. So many amazing things happened in my life this past year including: finding help and healing, getting my two fur babies, traveling across the world, and getting engaged! Even though 2017 was full of so much love and adventure, I know 2018 is going to be even better: getting married, turning 21, traveling to Scotland for our honeymoon, graduating college early as a double major, and so much more. This year I wanted my resolutions to truly reflect my desire to soak up every single moment, work hard for my dreams, and to focus on all aspects of my health. So, without further delay, here are my 2018 resolutions:

  1. Live in the moment– I have an incredibly bad habit of wishing away the present in order to fast forward to a future I somehow believe will be better, but the truth is, my present isn’t what I want it to be because I’m not putting in the effort to make it positive. There’s nothing more depressing than constantly wishing that you were somewhere else. This year is going to be one of the best years of my life so I want to soak up every single minute of it and that includes taking breaks from social media, focusing on myself and my family, and finding the positive in the negative situations.
  2. Focus on all aspects of my health- I know one of the stereotypical resolutions is getting fit, losing weight, etc. and there is nothing wrong with these resolutions if you are doing them for the right reasons. For years, I struggled with a toxic body image and it poisoned every aspect of my life. I refused to go out to eat or to any event that I did not know exactly what food would be served, I never took a single bite of what I called “bad foods”, and I overexercised myself every single day. When I met Derek, he truly helped me enjoy life and stop focusing on my body. When I actually started having fun, I ironically started losing all of the weight that I had worked so hard on losing before but never had been able to. Last year, I finally reached my ideal body with the definition, speed, and strength I had always wanted. However, after years of overtraining and unhealthy health habits I had completely burned myself out. I literally took off an entire month of any activity because I was so sick, exhausted, and I lost my former “ideal body”. So this year I want to focus on balancing all aspects of my health: physical and mental. Never sacrifice your joy in life in a desire to reach a fitness goal. Find the balance. If your life starts revolving around the gym and unhappiness sets in, reevaluate and find what’s really important to you.
  3. Be more open- What is it about our current social media-obsessed society that has trained us to only reveal a highly edited version of ourselves to the world while we fail to actually open up to anyone? I used to be one of the most reclusive people I had ever met. However, finding love and genuine friends helped me start breaking through my shell. I still struggle being open sometimes, even with those closest to me. Sometimes its out of fear and sometimes it’s just out of habit. Either way, this year I plan on focusing on being open.
  4. Travel every chance that I have– Being the Traveling Brunette I obviously thrive on traveling. I honestly think that I will go insane if I stay in one place for too long. So this year, I really want to focus on traveling, even if that’s just a weekend trip to the state right next to me. There’s something about even the slightest change of scenery that is truly revitalizing to the soul.
  5. Finally, shower others in love- In 2017, I was full of toxic energy due to constant comparison with others, refusal to release the past, and feelings of jealousy. When you hold onto those toxic energies for so long, it truly poisons your mind and body. I became so sick and it has taken me a long time to recover and for what? What did I actually gain from any of that comparison and refusal to forgive? Absolutely nothing and I never would have. So, this year my final resolution is to finally let go of that negativity and just radiate love. I know it will still be difficult sometimes but honestly it is so unbelievably freeing to love, even if others may not deserve it. Do it for you.

I wish you all the very best of luck with your 2018 resolutions and I can’t wait to share this wonderful new year with you!

Happy New Year, everyone!

-Traveling Brunette

 

“The Knight”

Original Poem:

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“The Knight”

I fool myself that I hear your footsteps

Tiptoeing gently up the stairs towards my quickening heart.

So long I stood blockaded against you.

A hardened fortress composed of leadened oak

And plated in hardened gold.

Bare and tempt-less;

Never catching any wandering eyes.

Content but alone

like a dragon guarding its long sought treasure.

In you walked like a conquering knight

Ready and able to destroy my defenses.

No shining knight, for

your armor was blackened by past heartache and torments.

Your dark hair tousled by the wind like dandelions in the breeze.

I was wasting in my lonely tower waiting for you to storm in.

But you stole in silently

Like the whisper of a summer breeze floating through my open window

Or the gentle pattering of rain along my stone ledges.

Thief that you are

you stole my defenses, but not my love:

That was given to you

Like a precious emerald

to wear in a locket down your chest.

With me your armor begins to shine again

Slowly shedding the rust and tarnish that had once hugged its hard surfaces

Until the metal is as brilliant as the glistening moon

The same brilliance that can now be found in my smile.

 

-GT

Lessons of 2017

If last year was one of the worst years of my life, this year definitely has to be one of the best. It wasn’t just chance or good luck, it was an active decision to change my self-talk, change my attitude, and embrace ALL of life’s moments instead of constantly wishing for a future where I believed everything would magically be alright. It wasn’t easy, but I can honestly tell you it was one of the most important things I have ever done. I’m still doing it because it’s a constant journey and some days are better than others. Some days the negative self-image creeps back in, I become angry, and all I can do is lay in bed. But then I make the change. I get out of bed even though it’s the last thing I want to do, I get dressed, and I get out into the world. I’ve learned a lot over the past year and if you’ve been struggling this year, I just wanted to share with you some of the things that completely changed my life. I hope you enjoy!

1. No one else can save you- It makes it so easy to project all of your self-doubt and hope for change on someone else. It takes all of the hard pressure off of you and places the blame on someone else. But trust me, this not only gets you nowhere but it also places a gigantic strain on that relationship. It’s scary to realize that change has to start with yourself, but I promise that it’s a journey that you need. That doesn’t mean pushing people away, believe me, you need a solid support system, but make sure you take the steps to helping yourself first.

2. Give into the lazy days (just make sure it’s not all the time)- On those really bad days when all you can truly do is stay in bed, warm up some hot chocolate, wrap up in some blankets and relax. On those days, it does more harm than good to force yourself out of bed. Take this day to get all of the bad funk out and start tomorrow fresh!

3. Give the love you want to receive without the expectation of receiving it back- I cannot explain the joy of giving love and encouragement without the expectations of receiving the same. Expectations ruin everything and disappointments are part of life. So give love as freely as possible! That means giving it to yourself as well.

4. Therapy isn’t stupid- When I found out that I needed to go to therapy, I literally thought it was the end of the world. The thought of telling all of my thoughts and feelings to a complete stranger who I’m paying to listen sounded like a nightmare. But I sucked it up and I went. And I actually gave it my all. You only get as much out of therapy as you give. So give it a complete chance and I promise it will change things. I realized that there is no shame in admitting that you cannot balance the entire world on your fingertips because no one can. Everyone needs someone sometimes and therapy is truly wonderful if it is something that can benefit your healing journey.

5. Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely- Last year, something changed and before I knew it, being alone was my biggest nightmare. Everyone needs alone time sometimes and it’s a fact of life that you are going to be alone at times. That’s why self-love is so important because if you truly love and respect yourself, being in your own company will be comforting. It will be hard at first, being alone, but it’s one of the most important skills you can learn because you never need to rely on anyone else.

6. Ice cream is totally an unofficial form of medicine- enough said.

7. And finally… Embrace all aspects of love in your life- You don’t need a significant other to embrace the love in your life. Your family, your friends, your pets, etc. So much love surrounds you!! So breathe and embrace the love that you have rather than wishing for something else.

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, these are just my personal tips for how I helped change my own life and rediscover myself.

I hope you all enjoyed these tips and are able to embrace all of the love and joy around you as 2017 draws to a close. Happy Holidays, everyone!!

“You don’t have to be blooming in order to be growing.”

Love,

The Traveling Brunette

“The Flight Home”

I am so beyond excited for how much you all loved my last poetry excerpt! It is always a little terrifying to share your innermost thoughts and feelings, but everyone was so wonderful and supportive! I cannot thank you enough. Since my last post was so popular, I thought I might share another one of the poems I wrote this year. This poem came to me when I was traveling in Europe in the spring and I was missing the heart that I had left behind at home. I hope you enjoy!

“The Flight Home”

Starbursts of joy,

trumpets of ecstasy,

sunbeams of unparalleled passion

are racing from the tips of my fingers and the ends of my toes.

 

My stomach is a fresh garden.

Home to butterflies of broken dreams now conquered.

 

Long I have been separated from you;

Longer have I been a stranger to me.

My heart took the long flight back to you

Crossing oceans of time.

 

I shredded your past while away

and nothing but our future embraces me now

Shredded like wisps from the edges of burnt love letters.

 

Warmth flows through me like the sweetly bitter coffee that long I have missed

Your passion sweet, like French vanilla cream,

trickles through my veins giving me renewed life.

 

The taste of you electrifies me;

burning away our struggles

 

Until finally, you are the home I have been searching for.

 

-GT

Poetry Saves

Writing is absolute medicine for me. Writing literally helped me stay alive during some of my darkest times last year. It was a way for me to express my feelings without fear of judgment or the fear of not being understood. During my worst seasons of depression I surprisingly turned to poetry as my favorite emotional outlet. Some of the poems I wrote talked about the darkness I was feeling, but some of it celebrated the tiny rays of light that shone through. Now, I am by no means a talented poet but it always takes a level of bravery to share the words that are traced upon your heart. So here is one of the poems I wrote last year. Maybe one day I’ll find the courage to share some of the more personal pieces of my poetry story, but for now, this poem is about the strength that can be found in love.

 

“I Glow Near In Tenor Exalted”

You hold the sun in your smile

Stardust sparkles in your eyes.

I see the entire expanse of the galaxy

Within their murky depths.

Your eyes captivate me like the soft whisper of a burning candle.

Your smile caresses me like silk set aflame.

There are hummingbirds gently tapping at the door of my heart.

My heart vibrates with the rhythm of your being

like the drumbeat of a song that I do not remember but never could have forgotten:

A jazz song with lyrics written on the ocean waves.

I dance with the melody.

Our souls dance under the open sky

Painted with the wisps of the Northern lights.

The colors twinkle

and whisper across your face like the fireflies born from my dreams,

Until my soul is exploding with the colors of you.

My love rains down on us like confetti until

We are untouchable.

Owning the world, being the world.

I handcraft my hope with the designs of your heart.

Your arms are a strongly blockaded fortress around me.

My resting ground is quivering with your radiance.

Capture me.

Shatter me.

Ignite me, my love

For I long to be set ablaze.

 

-GT

 

Holiday Self- Care Tips

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Dear Friends,

As November draws to a close and the holidays begin rushing upon is, it is really easy to become bogged down with the stresses and pressures that the holidays bring. The holidays are my absolute favorite time of the year because giving gifts to friends and loved ones is one of my favorite things to do. Does anyone else get super giddy when you are watching a loved one open up the perfect gift?!

However, over the holidays a lot of us unknowingly give so much of ourselves without taking time to take care of ourselves and our mental health. Last year, by the time Christmas rolled around I was so run down and depressed that I was not able to fully enjoy the love and joy that surrounded me. So this year, I have been implementing some changes and I already feel so much happier and healthier. So if you are not sure how to relax and take care of yourself this holiday season or even if you would just like to gather a few new ideas on self-care, stay tuned for my favorite ways to relax over the holidays!

  1. Taking quality time to do things you love on your own– One of the best parts about the holidays is spending time with loved ones, however, everyone needs to take some time on their own to refuel and rejuvenate. One of my favorite ways of doing this is by curling up with a warm drink and a fantasy book(:
  2. Get active– Even if you aren’t a huge gym rat, spending time moving your body is an instant mood changer. For me, working out is my “me time”. It allows me to actually think while also getting an instant mood booster from the surge of endorphins. Even something as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood or sitting down for some relaxing stretches instantly improves my mood.
  3. Take a bath– Grab a bath bomb, a luxurious smelling bath oil, and sink down into a nice, long bath. It will help ease the tightness in your muscles and calm your heart rate for a better night’s sleep.
  4. Drive around and look at the Christmas lights– Nothing makes my heart happier than driving around and looking at the wonderful Christmas lights around my neighborhood. Grab some friends and family members and see who can find the most decorated house!
  5. Watch some corny, romantic Hallmark holiday movies– No matter how much we complain about how predictable they are, there is something that always pulls us in with Hallmark movies. Maybe it’s the predictability that we find so appealing. It is nice to know that no matter what, love is always going to prevail.
  6. Do an art project- It doesn’t matter how un-artistic you believe that you are, everyone can find a project that they will enjoy. Even if it does not turn out perfectly, it is nice to lose yourself in the joy of creating something all on your own. Try painting, or writing poetry, or making a holiday wreath; the possibilities are endless.
  7. Bake some holiday treats– You and your friends and family will love this one. If you love baking, try a new recipe that you have always wanted to conquer. If you are new to baking, try something simple that reminds you of your childhood. Plus, the yummy treats will warm you from the inside out.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to practice self-care over the holidays. Even if none of these interest you, the important thing is finding what kind of activities relax and revitalize you. Holidays are all about giving, but don’t forgot to take some time to take care of yourself too!

Wishing you a wonderful start to the holiday season!

The Traveling Brunette

Be Your Own Greatest Adventure

One of the hardest things I have ever learned to do (and am still learning every day) is how to love myself exactly as I am. It is so sad to see in our society today how hard it is for everyone to accept themselves. We are constantly bombarded by images and messages telling us how to change ourselves, how to be sexier, skinnier, more successful, etc. The whole point is a constant demand for MORE. And it is exhausting and discouraging if you listen to these messages because you start seeing yourself as unworthy and not enough. There is nothing wrong with wanting to change things about yourself, but the important thing is still loving yourself exactly as you are in this moment because you are fighting.

For a long time all of the relationships in my life were poisonous because I was relying on everyone else to give me the love that I wasn’t giving myself. And when you constantly tell yourself that you don’t deserve love, you will always push it away and you will lose people who truly do love you. Even if you think you don’t deserve the love someone is giving you, they think you do! So stop trying to deny it and just accept the abundance of love that surrounds you!

The journey to loving yourself may be the longest and hardest journey you will ever take but it is certainly the most important. Until you truly respect yourself, you won’t be able to confidently accept the love that others want to give you. I went so many years truly hating the girl that I was. In my head I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, strong enough, etc. I was just never enough. So I buried deep inside myself, which didn’t work because I didn’t like who I was. I exhausted myself trying to please everyone because I couldn’t handle the fact that I wasn’t happy with who I was. And let me tell you, if you have a powerful negative self-image, it WILL start poisoning you. I started losing weight rapidly, I stopped sleeping, my relationships suffered, I developed debilitating anxiety and depression, and I just truly stopped possessing any joy in my life at all. The most important relationship in my life suffered because I believed I was unworthy of love and my insecurities led to jealousy and a desire for constant reassurance. One of the reasons I know I have met the love of my life is because he stuck by me through my absolute darkest times, despite how hard it was on him.

At the end of the day, loving yourself is the most important journey you will ever take. My journey started with the absolute hardest year of my life. I will always be on this journey but I am finally at a point where I have started accepting who I truly am and am actually being proud of being myself. I’ve stopped wishing to be someone else. I’ve started loving my body, encouraging myself, finding acceptance through genuine friendships, and taking all the steps to recovery. You are your own biggest adventure. No one else can be your everything. I’ve learned that. It was up to me to find the change and joy that I had been desperately searching for. You are never alone by any means, but you can never place the sole weight of your happiness on someone else.

So, find adventures. Travel to somewhere that scares you. Create memories. Take a bubble bath. Enjoy the brownie. Enjoy the salads, too. Wear what makes you happy. Dance to your favorite song. Blast the music in your car. Find your support system. Find your tribe and love them ferociously. And most importantly, be your own biggest adventure.

 

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Always and forever,

The Traveling Brunette