“Who are you?
What do you want for your life in this moment?
And who do you want?
And when will you make the decision to go after it?”
— Shaun T
Shaun shared with us a quote from his husband, Scott’s, family. I can’t remember if it was Scott’s mother or father who says this but I absolutely love this saying:
“Your rear view must never be bigger than your windshield.”
Don’t get stuck in the past, my friends. Keep your eye on the future. And get in touch with your emotions, so you can get an idea of where you are going and whether you are making rational decisions. As Shaun says, “You must get in touch with your old self so you can recognize when your old patterns pop back up. Keep these patterns in your rear view. Acknowledge them for the strength they gave you during your journey, but let the negative energy go. When you see an old pattern resurface, it’s okay to wave and say, ‘Hey, girl!’ and then keep right on driving in your own journey.”
Shaun T has rocked our world again! We joined him in Indianapolis again this year, along with Scott, Julie Voris, Daren and Danielle Natoni, and more. In addition to a butt-kicking workout, Shaun also delivered a powerful message:
What if we had no mirrors? What if they didn’t exist? No bathroom scale. No one to tell us if we look good in that dress. No way to determine if we need to wear makeup today.
What if you couldn’t see how BEAUTIFUL you are?
Close your eyes, stop comparing yourself to others on the Internet, and picture yourself in that world for a moment. How would we make our decisions and form our self esteem if we couldn’t see ourselves?
Simple: We would make our decisions based on how we FEEL.
This was the message (paraphrased, of course) that Shaun T shared with Indianapolis on February 25th. We never expected that we would one day be working out in-person with our favorite celebrity trainer, receiving high-fives and fist bumps during the squats and push-ups. Yet here we are. It is now a recurring annual event for us, something new and nostalgic at the same time. It feels like coming home, back to our roots, and it is something we will always cherish.
Shaun had a powerful reminder for everyone in Indianapolis last week: in our quest to be perfect, we end up as imperfect and unhappy as we can possibly be. We lose connection with our true selves.
People always ask us why we got married in Utah, of all places. For those who haven’t experienced the wonders of Utah’s many national parks, I’ll try my best to explain our love for one of our personal favorites: Zion National Park.
Zion – n. – “a place of peace and refuge”
Zion itself is a marriage of light + stone, desert + water, ancient + contemporary, splendor + silence. It inspires awe & requires contemplation. The serenity of the park affects all who take the time to experience wonder amidst the natural beauty of this jewel.
Our original plan was a destination wedding on the beach (we did get engaged in Florida, after all) but we unexpectedly fell in love with Zion National Park, just like we unexpectedly fell in love with each other. No photos will ever do justice to the beauty and magic of this place. There are no words.
Just like you feel small when you stand beside the ocean, you feel connected to something bigger than yourself when you walk through the canyon trails of southern Utah. We still were able to kick off our shoes and walk barefoot in sand and water and sunshine. But we also were surrounded by mountain peaks, canyons, desert, fall foliage, and endangered animals. Our wedding took place beside a waterfall in the Temple of Sinawava, a sacred canyon location named in honor of the Paiute tribe. They believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine and that human beings are tied to nature. Before starting our wedding, we paid our respects by honoring this Native American custom.
Like any other wedding, there are plenty of things that didn’t go according to plan:
I had a fever and bronchitis the day before our flight departed from Kentucky. It was so bad that a doctor actually told me I might have to miss my own wedding (yeah, not an option).
Luckily, my fever broke at the last minute! Here we are the morning of our wedding, watching the sunrise in southern Utah, walking distance from the Sand Hollow Resort:
I was able to make the flight to our own wedding, but I forgot so many things at home – including:
Long story short, just a matter of minutes before the wedding, I realized I’d left EVERYTHING at home in Kentucky. I was also fighting not to lose my voice while guzzling electrolytes and coughing like crazy. Not my most shining moment.
Luckily, we’d brought ribbon wands as gifts for our guests, and those worked perfectly as a fun and whimsical substitute for bouquets.
And by some magical coincidence, there was a wedding at the Temple of Sinawava right before ours, and the bride left behind an entire box of bubbles. We couldn’t let the bubbles go to waste on our wedding day – and they ended up creating some of our favorite photos!
Here are the bubbles and ribbon wands in action:
Luckily, we both remembered to pack our matching red Chucks:
One of the most memorable parts was when our dear friend and wedding officiant, Joshua, included a traditional Native American blessing during the wedding ceremony. We gathered in a circle near the waterfall at the Temple of Sinawava, on what is considered by many to be “holy ground,” and paid honor to the ancient Native American tribes who inhabited the lands of Southern Utah. Joshua skillfully led us through an ancient Blessing to the Four Directions – which draws from the belief that all human souls share elements with all things divine. Each cardinal direction – North, South, East and West – represents a specific virtue of divinity. In this ancient Native American tribal tradition, a blessing is offered to each of the four directions at the start of a wedding or other ceremony. Experiencing this beneath the majestic cliffs of Zion was a truly humbling and beautiful experience, and I am so grateful. We both are… Thank you for being part of our story, and letting us continue to share our love with you.
He asked… I said YES!!
He got down on one knee and popped the question during a romantic stroll through Lake Eola Park while we were on vacation in Orlando for the 4th of July. That evening, we celebrated with a long-time friend by watching the fireworks over the ocean in Siesta Key. Sneaky guy… he had been planning this for months, the ring had been in our bedroom the entire time, and I had NO IDEA…
It was a beautiful weekend, and the start of the rest of our lives together.
Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, the most populated in the American Midwest, and a city Brittany has seriously considered moving to. Chicago holds a special significance to us. It was one of the first cities we traveled to together (as a layover stop for our first trip to England). It was also where we decided to celebrate our one month anniversary the year we started dating…
Hey, everyone, we spent a layover in Denver en route to Las Vegas for my 30th birthday. It was my second time in Denver and every time I visit, it is sooo gorgeous! I’ll share a few photos with you here. Let’s just say Rafael and I both want to go back so we can spend more time in Colorado. I definitely see the appeal. So beautiful!
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, California, USA
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated with all things ancient — from the giant redwood trees to dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. At one point, I even considered going into a career as a paleontologist (true story). After seeing Jurassic Park (and reading all the books) as a young girl, I used to dig up what I believed to be “dinosaur fossils” in my parents’ backyard. Yes, they were really just rocks, but I had myself convinced I was discovering the next T-Rex. Luckily, my mother was a patient woman…
So, OF COURSE, when we took our first trip to northern California, Rafael and I both agreed we HAD to visit Muir Woods, an old growth Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forest, one of only a few such forests remaining in the area. The trees here are related to the Giant Sequoias, and grow nearly 300 feet tall. Most of the trees are between 500 and 800 years old, although the oldest tree is thought to be over 1,200 years old. The canopy created by this old growth is unbelievably stunning.
We spent our first anniversary together as a couple in Napa Valley, in the rolling hills of Northern California on the western coast of the United States. We picked a gorgeous winery, Castella di Amorosa, which is an actual castle located near Calistoga, California. The romantic setting was everything we could have hoped for, and the countryside reminded me of Italy (while reminding Rafael of his hometown).
Originally, we had hoped to share some high-quality and professional photographs with you from our day… but unfortunately, life had other plans. The morning of our anniversary, as we set out for Napa Valley, we were robbed in our San Francisco hotel lobby. Both of our Canon Rebel cameras, which we had just purchased, were stolen… along with our photographs from Las Vegas and California to that point. One helluva way to start our first anniversary together! It definitely dampened the mood.
We tried to keep positive spirits throughout the day, and I even enjoyed several wine and chocolate pairings in Napa Valley. Our lunch was exquisite in Calistoga, too. I definitely recommend the trip to anyone, especially as a romantic getaway (just watch your bags and your belongings VERY closely, folks!)
I’d have to say, with all the traveling we’ve done over the years, we’re very lucky that this has been our first experience with robbery or theft. And although the thieves stole our expensive photography equipment, they couldn’t steal our memories. Luckily, we still had our cell phones and were able to snap some photographs of the remainder of the trip. I’ll share a few with you here.
And as far as our anniversary, despite the rough day, I’ve realized that it was a test… and we passed. I realized that, if we could have such an awful start to what should have been a romantic day of joy and celebration, then we could make it through lots of other obstacles as well (and we have). Rafael has been there for me, even during some of the darkest moments of my life, and I am very grateful to him for that. We worked through this potentially negative situation together, and are still going today. And it didn’t dampen our experience; we were still able to end our trip on a positive note and keep moving forward with our relationship. How many couples would have been able to say that? I am thankful we can.
Brit-and-Rah, Brittany (Solo), Rafael (Solo)
Brit-and-Rah, Brittany (Solo)