Collecting Countries: Amsterdam

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I’ve got some serious catching up to do with my country postings. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice so far this year. The first time was in January and then again in May.

January was actually just a spur of the moment trip because me and Scovia were in Belgium and just wanted to hop around a bit. Since we got a deal on a hostel/hotel and the flixbus could get us there roundtrip for 40 euro, we took a chance. Really, I just wanted some deft china ornaments. I’ll go to mad lengths to get some Christmas fare. Eventually, I’m aiming for a tree with ornaments from all of my travels. It’s enough for a small tree right now, but large tree is my aim. I digress.

Amsterdam. Turns out the city isn’t really known for much other than drugs, prostitution and museums. Did you also know there is a park there where you can have sex openly and it’s legal? It’s a very strange place. Also, 18 million bikes cycle through the city in a day. One Freaking Day. You can totes get killed via bike there if you aren’t acutely aware. And no one is acutely aware because…drugs. Plus, in January… freaking cold. I’ve never been so cold in my entire life. I had on three layers and was still cold.

I learned all of these things in January. I did the canal ride thing. I accidentally walked through the Red Light District in broad daylight, got a contact high from local coffee shops, and saw the Anne Frank house. Not literally of course because you have to wait in a four hour line. It was cold. It was very, very, very cold.

Needless to say, Amsterdam wasn’t my fave. I was however, willing to give it one more chance when I went in May. It was definitely not as cold, always a perk. One of the guides from the bike tour I went on was from Amsterdam and asked me, “Why were you here in January. I wasn’t even here in January. That was stupid.” I don’t know dude, I don’t know. Also, please don’t let me die on this *bleeping* bike, please and thank you.

The bike tour wasn’t actually half bad. Thought I would die that day, but surprisingly it’s not that dangerous once you get out of the city. We went through the countryside and saw some of the last remaining windmills beyond the city. That was lovely. Windmills are kinda majestic for being manmade things. Then we get to the cheese farm.

The cheese farm was a blast. The guy who owns it is from a long lineage of cheese farmers and his cheese is one of the few that are sealed and certified as real or something like that. Regardless, some important cheese is apparently made and only sold there. We learned all about the process too. And, because I have a face where people like to volunteer me for things… I was his assistant for most of that showcase.

I stood beside cheese man while he shaved cheese and gave out samples to the group all the while calling me “smiley lady from Tennessee.” I’ve been called worse.

Next came the part where he shaved off the cheese and said, ” You are going to be so happy with me. You will never be in another place where you can literally have men eating out of the palm of your hand.” Then I proceeded to pass out cheese, in my hands, to the various gentlemen among the group. I gotta say… I didn’t hate it.

Cheese dude also makes authentic wooden clogs. The process is actually pretty neat and involves a lot of special wood and such. Whilst making clogs, he also took a bunch of selfies with my phone. It was an experience.

I have to say, the second trip redeemed the first trip a little. It is a beautiful city, but it also isn’t one I would choose to go to again. Because, sometimes beauty isn’t enough. I got my ornaments. Cheese dude was basically the best. I rode my bike through the Reicht’s Museum. I think my Amsterdam bucket list is complete.

A Building Not A Body

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” – Colossians 2:2

United in love, encouraged. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, which more than anything tended to be a dumping ground for parents to bring their kids to do things like “holy girl scouts”. I dubbed it that because I’ve clearly blocked out the real name. Then when we were too old for that, it was getting plugged in to youth groups and doing extracurricular activities where the girls were most definitely separate from the boys. Don’t hug boys, you’ll spread pheromones. Pheromones most definitely lead to sex. Cardinal sin. Drinking. Smoking. Midriffs. Cardinals sin ya filthy animals.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Not by much though. And, I had to unlearn a whole helluva lot.

This post stems from the numerous questions I received regarding the last post I wrote insinuating that the church can cause heartbreak, that it did cause heartbreak. So let me explain. It’s actually been a post in the making for a while, but because it’s close to me and I have a lot of opinions about it…I needed to wait and lament until I could be truthful and tactful and not just emotional. Forgive me if it comes off as judgemental, that isn’t my intent. My intent is a call of action to do better, to be better… as humans, as people, as the church.

Here’s the deal. The church let me down numerous times. I grew up under the guise that I wasn’t enough. Ever. Not just at church, everywhere. My family. My friends. School. My own mind. I was made fun of for being too short, my face was too big for my body. I was never the girl who the “good” boys liked and even was asked out as a joke, in front of my other friends. Kids are *cuss* man, and my life is basically a John Hughes movie. That stuck with me.

The not enough-ness that I feel constantly was only heightened by the churchy people. Rebuke. Condemnation. Legalism. That’s what church was to me for a long time. A place where I felt I never fit in because underneath, I was always a little bit broken, a little different.

So, I finally went to different ones and saw that it didn’t have to be this way. They didn’t all look the same. But, silly me. I went back. And let me tell you… when people show you who they are, believe them the first time. I returned because I felt needed, and I felt useful and important. But, little by little I found myself slipping away into a person that I just wasn’t. I attended more Bible studies and served more and more, and more. Because, being needed fills the void of not enough-ness for a little while. Until it doesn’t.

I think I’ve written about this before, but I was straight ill for about two years in my early twenties. My last year of undergrad was just the worst. I had walking pneumonia twice and if I wasn’t at work or school, I was in bed. Because of the breakdown of my immune system, almost everything else broke down. I became severely depressed. I’ve struggled with that forever. But you would never catch me chatting about it up until this point. It was like wearing that not enough-ness on my sleeve for the world to see. At this point it got to be too much. So, I went to talk to someone. Several someone’s actually, because some people are just *cuss*. And when I did, I was told that the way I felt, that it was my fault. I didn’t pray enough. I had unrepentant sin in my life. My eyes opened. What a load of crap. People hide behind legalism and rules because they are afraid to face their shit…sorry, *cuss*.

I started to back off. I started to do less. And you know what… no one cared. No one called. No one asked me where I had been. Not a single person seemed to care that little by little, I stopped showing up. As I sat in a main service one day, I started to have a panic attack and right then and there, I left… and I didn’t go back. And from that day, I never stopped talking about what I wanted and what I felt. Because it’s not wrong to feel any of the feelings…or to talk about it.

The truth is, church is full of fallible people. It’s a place where the broken should feel safe to become mended. It should be a place for people to be seen, heard and understood. That in all of our brokenness, we still matter. A place where everyone feels loved. A place where you literally function like a body and when one of the parts isn’t functioning properly, you feel it.

It is preached that the church is one body, symbolic of a unity with Christ. That is not really an analogy I’ve ever gotten or understood, but I think it boils down to the church is supposed to be a representation of who God is. God is love. God is mercy. I have to believe that because in the darkest days of my life, especially the very early ones, that’s all I had. A still, small voice that said “keep going.”

I’m not the only one who feels this way. And this is not the only church. I’ve gone to many. It’s the south, ya’ll. You’ve had to stumble into one by accident at least.

Many buildings that are too big. Many people who plaster on fake smiles and pleasantries. I get it. Kindness is hard. Authenticity is hard. Caring is hard. But, don’t go. You don’t have to pretend you care. At the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

Too many times people lump the building with the body and the body with who God is. My faith has never and will never be in the church. I felt really guilty for that for a long time. We’re taught that the church is synonymous with who God is. It’s a lie.

I’m not perfect. I’m completely fallible. But I would like to think I own that. I just want a little authenticity. Not a place that makes you feel completely insecure to be who you are, really. A safe place.

So, what am I looking for?  Community. People who get it. People who actively seek diversity, acknowledge their feelings, care about people, care about their city, care about anything other than what dress they’re going to wear on Sunday morning or where they’re going to brunch after. People who serve. People who love. People who notice if you’re not there, and they bring you back. Broken people who acknowledge their brokenness. A place that will accept ALL my friends, not just the white, straight ones. Jesus ate among the sinners, he was near to the broken-hearted. Where are those people. That’s my church.

 

 

Gallows

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Gallows

Two roads one wood, and there I stood

on the frozen ground

The dead arise, I hear the sound

And they’re calling for my name.

(Throw in some oos)

Chorus

Beckon me back from the gallows

Hallowed ground where the dirt’s still shallow.

I don’t wanna rage war, with the dead no more.

So beckon me, Beckon me

Back from the gallows.

V2

This alabaster skin contains these secrets and my bones,

So let the ground quake so my soul awakes.

And bring me back to life,

Bring restoration to all this damnation.

(more oos)

*Chorus

Bridge

All these restless renegades, all sound the same

With their hearts so bruised and battered,

They all just want to matter.

*Final Chorus

 

Gallows is one of the very few songs I’ve written that I’ve actually ever put to music and didn’t just destroy. I wrote the original song in five minutes, it just seemed to pour out of me. I hope that one day the book I finally write will be the same. Because, let me tell you… writing a book is damn hard. You gotta chip away at some layers to tell the truth, regardless of the story being told.  So… even though I wrote this song almost two years ago, it’s still something I’m proud of. I think it’s relatable and honest.

Surface level I can be super bubbly, happy, witty and full of confidence. But… I can also be very introspective and dark and twisty. I also always expect people to disappoint me and leave me. Someone who thinks too much and feels too much all the *cuss* time. Sometimes it’s all too much. But I wouldn’t give that up most of the time… it’s how I’ve learned to be brave, depend on myself  and demand my own happiness apart from anyone else. It’s how I’ve learned to see through people, how they think and how they feel. That helps me serve those who are worth it and cut out the people who are not. Life is about being brave, loving fully and courageously bringing ourselves back from our own theoretical gallows. Whatever that is. Whatever that looks like. Find your brave.

Inciting Change

Stay in and

I’m currently reading/listening to Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I love it already. Mainly… I need it. I need to be reminded that my crazy, insane and really full life still has meaning, still has purpose in the midst of all the chaos. I so often fill it with activities, things, or work that has no purpose. To reassess current priorities is something we all often need to do.

It’s easy to be away, to take a step back and say I need to prioritize my life to be more about experiences. That’s easy. (It’s probably why I adore being anywhere but here most of the time.) But in the most mundane of days, weeks, months… priorities become skewed in the search for perfection. I am often guilty of pursing that I forget to be present in the moment. Blame it on so many things… anxiety, fear or the feeling of not “enough-ness” of it all. But I’m afraid that pursuit, that constant doing it all, can also be traced back to heartbreak… at least in my life.

Anyone has the capacity to break your heart. That’s why “guard your heart” is so often given as a warning in works of literature, the Bible, and by various intelligent people who’ve gained the fortitude to be quoted. We often think of heartbreak in the capacity of romantic love. While that is often an intense kind of heartbreak, mainly because it’s a different kind of vulnerability than we give up in any of other relationships, heartbreak comes in many different forms.

It’s uncomfortable to talk about. It’s not an easy thing to acknowledge. You have to lean into it. You have to feel it. And it feels well…heartbreaking. Soul crushing. The most resolute form of “not enough-ness” that you can feel probably comes from grief and heartbreak. The two are synonymous emotions.

So, recently, I’ve been digging into these feelings. You can’t ever really heal until you do. It all started with a few questions that came from a friend, questions that were hard to answer. Things that were hard to think about. I bury things. Well… at least the dark and twisty things you don’t even talk to your best friends about. I shove them way down deep, because not everything has to be talked about. I can be open and honest and authentic without being too vulnerable…right? I digress.

Heartbreak. The idea of crushing grief, anguish or distress. For me it’s come in the form of friends dying too soon, missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime after I’ve spent months praying over it and having incredible anxiety over it only to lose out at the last minute to someone more qualified, it came when the people who were suppose to be there for me in my darkest hour just weren’t, it came from the shaming that members of the church put me through, family that doesn’t really acknowledge so many things about me and yes, the most intense form being a couple of different relationships that were suppose to be, but just weren’t because I wasn’t enough. The “not enough-ness” is soul crushing.

The more people leave you, whether it’s forever or just their presence when you really need them, the more you just expect it. Heartbreak is one of those things in life that is cyclical. You can let it destroy you, or you can let the wounds heal and find the good in the situation.

So, needless to say, when I read this quote today I felt a pang of relief. The idea that all of this heartbreak has purpose. It beckons a call to change. Change your life, change your relationships, change your circumstances.

Losing my friends taught me to live life to the fullest, to periodically check in with myself and make sure that I’m adding value but also enjoying my life. Stop putting things off. Travel more. Knock things off my bucket list, now. Several failed romantic endeavors saved me from making terrible decisions or spending time and energy on people who ultimately are not right for me. Love is a choice. When someone doesn’t choose you, they are not right for you. The situation with the church forced me to reassess who and what I believe in and realize that the church is full of broken and fallible people and that they are not synonymous with who God is. God is love. He gives grace when humans fail to do so in so many ways. I’ve had to give up friends, distance myself emotionally from my family and break up with relationships because of situational heartbreak. I came out stronger. The change it incited made me who I am today. I am strong. I am smart. I am tenacious. I am caring. I am empathetic. I am funny. There are many other things that I am, qualities I would have probably not leaned in to had it not been for heartbreak. And… I learned to take care of myself. To be alone. I am really good at it. Sometimes you have to learn to be alone before you can think about being with anyone else.

While what I want, what my priorities are, and how I choose to spend my time may fluctuate… who I am doesn’t. Growth and evolution have come from these changes. These changes, apparently, can be chocked up to heartbreak. So, perhaps heartbreak doesn’t have to destroy us. It doesn’t always have to suck the wind right out of us. It can lead us into different seasons that we are ultimately suppose to be in.

Heartbreak can be redeeming.

 

 

#28LessonsLearned

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Here I am, another year older and perhaps a smidge wiser. Hopefully. If you’re friends with me on Facebook you might have noticed that I did a series of posts tagged #28lessonslearned. Spoiler alert, I turned 28 at the end of that series. The goal was to eventually tie all of those into a blog post to culminate and further explain all the posts, but I decided against it. Instead, I’m writing this post to catch you guys up on my illustrious life. (exaggerating of course)

This past year I’ve grown leaps and bounds. I’ve put myself through the ringer. I made a promise early on to grow into experiences, not things. I became an aunt for the second time. I became a fur mom for the first time. I dated. I traveled. I wrote. I adventured. And, numerous other things that I’ve lived to tell about.

Amongst all of those things is the one where I learned to love myself. You’d note that in the #28lessonslearned I demonstrate that wholeheartedly. Learning to say no to myself was one of the biggest growing moments I dealt with last year. I had to say no to my version of perfect and accept the present. I had to say no to what unrealistic expectations I had for myself in every area of my life. I had to say no to how I talked to myself almost daily. I learned that no is powerful. I learned that words are powerful. The words we hold within our spirit that are solely meant for us may be the most powerful of all.

In that revelation, the one where I stop being so shitty to myself, I learned how awesome I am. Some days I still don’t believe it. Some days people can tell me that I am the most awesome person on the face of the planet and I will still crawl into a hole as though I am that kid picked last for gym class. Until the day comes when you can accept the good things about yourself wholeheartedly, you will never be able to accept the compliments that people give to you as truth. You are wonderful. I am wonderful.

Real life, real people aren’t perfect. I took this photo the day before my birthday. I hated it and picked it apart and tried to over filter it so it looked halfway decent. My best friend took it and she refused to let me a. not post it and b. over filter it to the point of no return. I took it because I just got my nose pierced, something I had been wanting to do for YEARS. The imperfection of that photo made me not want to share this little victory with the world. I am brave. She said, “Post that photo, even though you don’t like it, it will be good for you.” So I did. I am brave.

Bravery is built in the little moments. It is built in the small mundane things we are afraid of. It is me getting my nose pierced. It is me sharing my thoughts on this blog where the whole world has privy to it. It is me traveling via the ocean to another country, something I was terrified of doing because the ocean is a scary, dark abyss. Bravery comes in small increments. I am brave.

So… in this new year, what will I do? First, I’ll finish what I’ve started. I’ll become a Pilates instructor. I will finish my book. I will write more and more on this little blog. I will write MORE wherever and whenever I can. Numerous people have told me that I’m a good writer, so I will write. I love to write. A great writer was all I ever wanted to be, but I was afraid of it for so long. Being told you are good at that one thing that you’ve always wanted to be but are afraid to do, well it kinda makes your heart explode and it kinda makes you want to do it all the days of your life. I am brave.

Other things I might do… travel to more places on the bucket list. Most notably, Everest Base Camp. Start a business (oh yes, I’ve had a few things brewing for a while now, perhaps I’ll finally get that stuff together). Find my person… hey, one can hope.

Cheers to inspiring yourself. May you find that you are capable of making yourself happy every day of your life.

 

Making SHIFT Happen

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Have you ever seen a worn down old rock in the middle of a river? I found this quote early Spring 2016 and it’s stuck with me since. It’s become an anthem as I persist into things I’ve never done before. It’s become background noise as I become broken down and tired and ready to move on to other things. It becomes the voice inside my head telling me I need to/ can do better. It’s a very important quote in my repertoire of quotes. Because, words are a powerful reminder.

I’ve got a confession to make. I have been slacking. I am a person who feels too much, thinks too much and wants to accomplish too much all the same time. In the event that all of these things coexist together, I shut down. I withdraw.

My routine is no exception to this. If anything it is an expectation, the routine is the first thing to go off kilter when my life gets out of whack!

Can I get an AMEN?

Cue Shift Shop. Today is the first day back with a few of my accountability peeps and we all decided to do Shift Shop together (virtually of course), and hold one another accountable. If you don’t know what Shift Shop is you can read all about it here.

I wanted to be held accountable to all of things I say I want like I’ve done with my health in the last year. So I picked a few friends. I decided on the day. It’s here.

I picked this program because it’s outside of my comfort zone but still looks fun and manageable. The meal plans/shopping lists and workouts are all provided on the Beachbody OnDemand website. You can go here to learn more. Super Super Easy.

Right now, I need easy. I’m coming out of a deep hole of hiding from not just my routine but my goals and expectations for myself.

The last year I’ve changed dramatically. I’ve lost a lot of the weight (physically and emotionally) that I’ve been holding on to for the last decade of my life. It’s also crippling because you never want to go back to that place. Since my routine has been gone, I’ve seen how easy it is to go back to that place. So, I’ve decided to #MAKESHIFTHAPPEN , because this program is all about the physical shift AND the mental shift! I can’t wait to share my days with you all. Also another #goal. Cheers to that!

Want to join me?!?! It’s ONLY day numero uno! I’d love to have you! If you would like to join me, email katefriedel@gmail.com OR go to my website here and I will contact you!

But in the meantime, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS that need a little Shift to happen in order to achieve?!?! I’d love to hear them!

Workout Hangovers & Recovery

Oh geez, You remember that time I decided to get all fit and stuff. Pain. They say no pain, no gain. I want to punch those people.

Anyways, I’m still aggressively trying to learn Pilates and that means taking a BUNCH of classes in a short span of time. Ouch. If you think that Pilates is easy or for the birds, you my friend, are incorrect and I would like for you to meet the Magic Circle to prove my point. (Trust me, you’ll want to add this handy little contraption to your repertoire. Post about my love for the Magic Circle TBW.)

Right now, I want to focus on recovery. You know, that day after workout hangover feel! It can hinder you from performing your best every day, and we don’t want that. So, because I love you… here is my recovery short list, you’re welcome.

 

Top Products to beat the workout hangover

Trigger Point — Basically ANYTHING

I adore TP Therapy products. I happen to carry around this little baby in my purse on the daily for those times when I need to get that knot out of my shoulder or roll my achy feet.  It is my BEST friend for those times when you’re too achy to move or perform your best!

My next love from the TP Therapy line is unfortunately too large to carry in my handbag, but trust and believe I would if I could. It is none other than the TP Therapy Foam Roller! This bad boy allows you to treat your achy muscles like a masseuse every single day for cheap. A traditional styrofoam roller is like the ugly stepsister compared to the TP Therapy roller! The TP roller has three different textures that mimics the palms, fingers and finger tips of your favorite massage therapist! But luckily, this one you can use every single day without breaking the bank! Holla!!

FYI: Did you know that myofascial release can be harmful if not done correctly? You should never roll out any bones or joints and you should pay special attention to not roll out your lower back or neck area! More info on myofascial release can be found on the TP Therapy Website.

Aloe Heat by Forever Living

It should be no surprise to you by now that I am just a little bit crunchy. I love my products to be free of parabens, gross additives and harmful chemicals that cause everything from cancer to ALZ. Ew. I could go on an entire rant about product additives, but I’ll spare you.

So, a few months ago one of my friends started selling these products from Forever Living. We’re talking eco and body friendly clean products like cleaning supplies and deodorant and shampoo. Everything I’ve tried from there I really love, but the Aloe Heat has become my favorite! It’s perfect to relieve sore and tired muscles without smelling like a gym locker. In fact, the smell is perfectly minty.

Beachbody Supplements – Recover & Energize 

You guys know I’ve been a coach for about 6 months now. But I have been a product advocate for well over a year. When it comes to supplement companies, Beachbody is doing superior things in the market. I don’t technically recruit as a coach anymore but I boldly proclaim my love for these products and keep my coach status just so I can buy them at 25% off, because yeah…I love them that much!

Now you may think that you can just pick up something at your neighborhood GNC or on Amazon, and you can, but let me tell you, this is some of the best stuff on the market. I’ve tried a lot of different things, not everything…but a lot and these products are some of my all time FAVES for performance and recovery! And, they can be delivered right to your door every month. Or, just try a handy sampler pack to see if you like them! No harm, no foul, just your best workout ever.

 

This is a short list of some of the products I use for all of my routines, whether I am working out at home or in the Pilates studio. Because, who doesn’t want to get in the best shape ever & kick that workout hangover to the curb? I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these products & maybe try some of the stuff you use to help with recovery.

Cheers,

Kate

 

*Affliate Link Disclosure*

In an effort to maintain this blog there are a few affiliate links scattered through some of my posts and my site. I put this disclosure here as a promise to you, my readers, that I will promote only products and services that I believe in and support and will let you know honestly and authentically if I am being paid as part of my review of something. Any questions about product reviews or sponsored content can be directly sent to my email, katefriedel@gmail.com. Thank you for being a valued reader of my blog.