This morning at promptly 7:00, Bella and I awoke in beautiful Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe.

As we drove up the hill from Sacramento yesterday evening, I could literally feel my life stresses falling away into some stress vortex that exists somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas. It’s as if the weight of life legitimately cannot exist when you arrive in Tahoe.

It was on my usual walk with Bella this morning as we looped around The Back Road of Glenbrook that I got to thinking about balance.

Life has been challenging me quite a bit lately. I’ve had to deal with a lot of negativity and “downs” in the last six months, and while it’s been rough, it’s made me appreciate how lucky I am in so many other aspects of life.

I have two amazing dogs, I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, a glorious home in Lake Tahoe, and so many other things.

So even if you’re having a bad day, remember that the hardest times in life are what define the best times. Without the tough we wouldn’t have the ups and the greats.

Appreciate the negative. Appreciate the challenges and the days where you think you’ll never make it through. You will. And the reward will be so worth the battle.

Season of Love

Okay, so it’s not much of a season – more of a day – Valentine’s Day. But it’s based on love, all the same.

And I don’t know about you, but Valentine’s Day always manages to remind me of how lucky I am to have certain people in my life. I have spent 99% of my Valentine’s Days as a single girl, so for me this Hallmark holiday really just represents the importance of loving the people that matter most to me. That’s not to say that I don’t love them the other 364 days of the year, but with a holiday based solely on reminding people you love them by showering them with gifts, it’s impossible to overlook the important ones in my life who truly allow me to shine.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I recently (and currently) have been dealing with a rough patch in my life. While it does bring me down every once in a while, and while it truly tests my strength both as a human and as a woman in her late twenties, I know that I will survive and come out on top. And the reason I know this is because I have incredible people in my life, despite a certain individual who tried to alienate me and isolate me from them. Without them, I know that I alone would not have the willpower or the yearning to get through a lot of the things I come across in my life. And while I believe that it is important and empowering to do things solo (if you couldn’t tell from some of my other posts, I’m a HUGE advocate of individuality), I am finding that there certainly is power in numbers.

And so, despite all of my female empowerment posts, it is time, ladies, to realize that there is also power in friendship and family. Whether or not you have family by blood, having someone or a group of someones that are “family” to you is extremely important.

I don’t believe in God. I believe in the Earth evolving. And evolution, unfortunately, has bred some wacko people who every day walk among us. Some of us, also unfortunately, cross paths with them and are forced to overcome obstacles in their lives that they never even thought they would have to. It is in these times that the people who truly matter will support and defend you. It is in these times that we truly need a support group and a family to back us up. Those of us that have love, and have love above all other things, will make it through. Survival of the fittest. Sadly, so will the crazies.

Darwin broke it down so well for us. And I must say that using animal analogies in this situation suits perfectly. The crazy wack jobs out there are the scavengers. They are the rats, the crabs, the seagulls of the world – the animals that will do anything and eat anything in order to survive. And we, the people with the families and friends and loved ones to turn to, we are the whale pods, the gazelles, the lion prides in the Sahara Desert. We will prevail, we have love, we have strength, we have power. Nothing and nobody will stop us. The only thing that EVER stands in our way is ourselves.

THIS is what Valentine’s Day brings forth in my mind. This is what I think about on the 14th of February every year. I don’t think about how sad I am that I’m not getting chocolates or flowers (because, frankly, I hate chocolate and I hate flowers). I don’t feel sad that I don’t have a boyfriend or a significant other to share a silly, fake holiday with. No.. I think about the REAL loved ones – the people I’m close to, that I’m in touch with every single day. The people who would truly break my heart if they decided to no longer be a part of my life.

I encourage all of you out there to take this time of year to truly appreciate the people closest to you. Even your pets (if you have them). They bring us a joy every single day that even no human could bring. A simple little goldfish brings peace and serenity. The lick from our dog or a sweet “meow” from our cat as we walk in the door after a long day just makes our hearts melt and the stresses of the day fall away. Regardless of what the holiday has always represented (at least, in America), Valentine’s Day is really about appreciating and loving everyone who has always, ALWAYS been there for you, and everyone who always will be.

So, if any of my friends or family are reading this, thank you for being here for me. I couldn’t make it through this crazy, beautiful life without any of you. I love you all to the moon and back (I know, so cliche, but it IS Valentine’s Day after all ;)).