The Return to Now: How I Created Shifts Within - Part 3

I almost put this post off until next Saturday since I've had a lot of screen time this week finishing up sessions for clients, but today is the New Moon, which is a time to ask yourself, Where am I right now? What do I need around me? How should I move forward, and in what spirit, and I thought this would be the perfect day to share all those gems and jewels from the past year that have ignited fire in my belly and pulled me up from the yuck in case you want to put any of these beauties around you to help you move forward. 

For those who may not have read Part 1 and Part 2, this list of powerful books, videos, podcasts, and people walked (and still are walking) beside me as I navigated my way out of a rough year (2015). I say "walked beside me" because I consider these to be perfect guides while still listening to my own inner voice.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my guides and loves: 

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Osho Zen Tarot Card Deck

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

Brené Brown's TED Talk on vulnerability (something which I am still strengthening)

Marie Forleo's Everything is Figureoutable

The Spotify playlists I created for relaxation and meditation/chakra balancing: Within and Meditate 

The Blue Dress by Alison Townsend

Any and all albums by Lana Del Rey. Don't ask me why. I'm obsessed. 

Free online yoga from Brett Larkin. Amazing. She has made playlists to better find what you're looking for. You can search low back pain, yoga for shoulders, stress, grounding, and there are even beginner to advanced playlists. Sessions last anywhere between 10-90min. She's a beautiful soul doing wonderful things for people.

Danielle LaPorte. Good woman. Beautiful thoughts. Inspiring blog posts, books and products. Seriously cool chick.

@happysleepyfolks on Instagram for her gorgeous photos and raw honesty about the ebb and flow of her life. 

JOURNALING! Giving your own brain the time of day to sort out what's floating around is therapeutic. I cannot say this enough. Write. It. Out. Or more importantly, if you're feeling incredibly, deeply low, write gratitude lists daily so that you're not perpetuating the negative crap nagging you. Please. Trust me.

Money and The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I'm particularly drawn to their ideas of the energy of our thoughts.

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Danielle LaPorte and Linda Sivertsen's Beautiful Writers Podcast for those who love to write and want to learn more about the writing world.

The yummy, uplifting, thought-provoking women and their posts over at The Body Project Facebook group.

I will likely add to this list because I feel like I've forgotten some. Please know that I am not claiming any of these will dramatically change your life (though, for some, they might), but that utilizing their guidance can only stretch the limits of your mind and open your heart to new ways of seeing your Self and your life and how you operate in it. Gather tools. Listen to your gut. Walk gently. Never give up. Have patience.

Love and light. 

Hulk Smash and Detox Baths

The past seven days have been a challenge in the self-care department. It was a week where everything that could go wrong, did. A week where truly, one of the hardest things to do, was stay positive, no matter how much I tried to care for myself. On Monday, I had blood tests done (5 vials worth) to find out if I have indicators of an auto-immune disorder, thyroid problems, or Lyme disease.

They told me they'd have results in 3-5 days. I'll spare you the wait I endured. Indicators show I might possibly have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Turns out (I am told Mother's Day) that two people in my extended family history have had RA. This doesn't make me feel better, but it does. Now I wait a month to see a specialist to discuss the results further.

In the days of waiting for my results and post results...

I go back on my OTC, off brand allergy pill.

things I own big washer, and the stove is on its way out the door.

orders I made the previous week are incorrect so I have to reorder.

I develop a yeast infection (why I stopped taking the allergy pill to begin with) so I stop it. Sorry for TMI, but I'm practicing being an open book. Plus, it's a service announcement about cheap products.

I have lunch with family after hearing from the doctor and tear up at the table while on the phone with my husband who says everything's going to be okay.

I receive a care package from a friend that lifts me in a moment I'm falling.

I have a big hiccup in my business that I stress hardcore over fixing... because good business practice and customer service.

I manage to notice symptoms of and simultaneously eliminate a UTI (or bladder infection) by downing 8oz of water with thyme and lemon essential oils.

I spend a pleasant Mother's Day with family and good food...

...after which I return home and take a detox bath.

Late that night, I wake with a sinus infection (or a cold...with me, they pretty much go hand in hand third in the past two months) and chills. I sweat out a fever. I barely eat. My muscles turn to stone. My brain drains out my eyes. And I forget to breathe. This could all be a result of the detox bath (flu-like symptoms do happen if you have major yeast die off or other harsh toxins exiting your body) or I've really worked myself into sickness.

So now I'm angry. I want to HULK SMASH! until there's nothing left in me to Hulk smash anymore.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking, Yeah. This is exactly how you should treat your body if you possibly have an auto-immune disorder. I hear chronic tension and stress are super beneficial.

I remind myself that it's okay. Hulk smashing is a necessary step. Forgive yourself. Eat your greens, diffuse those essential oils, take your damn detox bath because holy shit you need it, word vomit into a journal, and write a list of a million things you're grateful for in the midst of all of the ugly.

Cry it out. Remember who loves you. And most importantly, remember it's only one week in a bajillion weeks. That little reminder can pull you out of Hell so fast you'll wonder why you even worried about anything in the first place.

Don't judge yourself. If you're trying, you're not failing.

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The Body Project Session #17: Progressive Journey

This last full group session was intense and open. The women shared their stories so readily and with such interest in absorbing each others histories. We talked of rape, molestation, and abuse with the clarification that one doesn't need to remain the victim, but grab their experiences by the reins and take control of their own growth and success beyond definitions and pity. I'm amazed, constantly, at the shit people go through and rise above. One woman kept repeating in various ways that's it's time to move past all the garbage, whether that garbage is something that happened in your past or whether that garbage is the negative words on a loop in your head or your personal trainer telling you you're not trying hard enough. You do you for you and no one else.

It felt so perfect that the overall tone was acceptance of what is and the steps we all take to continue progressing through our varied journeys with positivity. And though some days are harder than others, it's important to remember that it's another day and another step, and (I know I've said it before) it begins with love.

The Body Project has helped me on my journey of happy. I have had some bumps in the road, but that’s life. I am happy with my body and self. This was a way for me to show myself that and maintain my happy journey.
Throws like a girl.

Throws like a girl.

Strong. Girly.

Strong. Girly.

The Body Project has helped me feel better about myself. It’s amazing how a few stories can make you feel so empowered . I am definitely a lot more comfortable in my own skin! I’m so happy to see these women leaving their insecurities at the door. Every woman should do The Body Project!
It's all about the journey.

It's all about the journey.

The Body Project has forced me to let go...let go of all my self-hate and find all my self-love. Being here with all these different, amazing women has helped me, empowered me, and has given me inspiration to keep loving me!
Faith heals all.

Faith heals all.

Body projects have erupted around the nation, and I’m elated that it’s bloomed in a smaller area like Whitewater where women may not have received the message that your body is yours and we’re all in it together. <3 Katy, well done. No matter where you are, body positivity is essential to healthy living. Keep going!
In progress.

In progress.

In progress.

In progress.

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I didn’t know fat was something I should feel shame over.

The Body Project has given me the chance to explore why I am so great and the opportunity to share it with the world. I feel connected to a community I didn’t have access to before.
— Nicole

I have known Nicole my whole life. She was that zany girl with the biggest laugh I’d ever heard in the choir room in high school. We weren’t close friends, but we were friendly. She’s just as genuine today as she was then, and I am incredibly appreciative of the fact that she squeezed in a private session with me (she was supposed to join this Sunday’s session) before moving out of state this Friday.

As she stood in my bathroom doing her make-up while I pinned up her teased hair into a mo-hawk, she explained how she wanted to capture her quirkiness: her bobby-pinned mo-hawk she’s always looking for an excuse to wear, her sexy, sequined black dress, her awesomely adorable two piece lingerie, her glittery eye makeup, a light-hearted pose and a strong pose…simply, HER.

The session was peaceful and full of gratitude. Not only did I LOVE the way the photos turned out, but then she sent me a story that seriously kicks ass. Like Nicole does. :) Enjoy.

I was 24 years old the first time I realized I am supposed to be ashamed of my size. I was in graduate school, participating in an advance listening course. I was having a discussion about women and their bodies with six of my peers, all of whom were between sizes 2-14. I was the last to share. I listened as each of my classmates shared about how advertisements, men, friends and family members had led them each to believe they were too big to be attractive. When it was my turn to share, I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Should I lie to fit in with the group, or be honest and admit I didn’t know fat was something I should feel shame over?

I do not remember what I said to my peers, although I know it included the truth:

I have never felt shame for being me, and I have never defined myself by my size.

I give all the credit to my mom for my long-lasting naivete. I wish I could share the secret of how she raised a large, loud, and proud woman, but I am not sure there is only one answer. Here is what I have learned since becoming aware that “they” be ashamed of my body.

I am a lot of things.

If I had to pick fifty words to describe myself, not one of them would include fat, big, large, fluffy, or plump. They would include fierce, independent, happy, head strong, funny, witty, pretty, and smart.
Smart. Funny. Sassy. Independent. Confident.
Smart. Funny. Sassy. Independent. Confident.

If you needed me to describe my physical appearance, I would probably tell you I am solid, strong, and have beautiful eyes. I have a smile that serves me well in my profession, putting people at ease and allowing them to open up to me. I have arms that easily lift my 40 pound dog and 35 pound nephew. I have legs that let me climb, run, walk, and travel. I would not describe parts of me that jiggle and shake. Those do not add up to my sum.

Around the same time I learned that I am supposed to feel shame when I look in the mirror, I also learned how to express my feelings about the topic. I love me, I appreciate me, and I know I am constantly striving to be the best me I can be. I am confident and capable as I am. However, I have no confidence that men, specifically date-able ones in my age bracket, will ever appreciate me. On the rare occasion that a man tells me he thinks I am attractive, it is usually accompanied by the phrase, “I like big girls,” or some variation.

I am not a fetish; I am Nicole.

One well-meaning friend suggested I try to find an online dating site for blind men because they might appreciate me more. The only man I ever loved told me he was the only person who would ever be able to love me. Comments like these reinforce my greatest fear—that no one will be able to look beyond what society and advertising says about my size and appreciate me for me. Lucky for me, though, these comments and situations have not changed the value I see in myself. I am a woman, a sister, daughter, and aunt. I add up to so much more than the number on the scale.

More than 302.
More than 302.
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Three Positives a Day for Seven Days

It's happened. I've been nominated. You've likely seen this challenge spread all over Facebook, and if you're not an active user, it is essentially this: post/write down three positive things in your life that you're grateful for/appreciate each day for seven days. The point is to help one reflect, spread some love and positivity throughout Facebook, and simply to send more positive vibes out into the world. Well, now's the time for honesty. I hoped beyond all hope that no one would nominate me for this challenge. This isn't because I'm a grinch. This isn't because I'm not a positive person. This is because I am a deeply private person (this may be a shocker...not sure...) and throwing my private appreciations out there makes me feel like I'm standing naked in the middle of rush hour.

I want you all to know that I write in a journal almost daily, and not once does a day go by that I don't write a few things I am grateful for and appreciate. This challenge will be cake, but when it comes to the publicity of it, it's not so much cake anymore.

SO. I've decided to stretch this challenge a bit and bring it to this blog (which feels like a safe haven and offers a more permanent space to document such personal thoughts rather than the quick-passing Facebook newsfeed) where I will not only open myself up a bit more to my readers, but bring more attention and awareness to The Body Project. After all, I firmly believe that our minds and our spirits need to be loved and strengthened as much as our bodies. They belong to our body. This is a beautiful exercise in taking those first steps to truly loving yourself. The more appreciation you show the world, the more positive and healthy you'll start to feel.

Without further ado, here goes.


First and foremost, I appreciate and deeply love my family with special mention to my hubby, mom, dad, and brother. They are, without a doubt, my biggest supporters in life and have never once made me feel like I couldn't do what I set out to do. They've let me rise and fall without judgement (maybe some nudges of I told you so's now and then ;P) and embrace who I am whole-heartedly. I love you all so much.

Second, I appreciate and deeply love my friends who bring so much color to my life (and the world!) it's ridiculous. You all constantly remind me how beautiful and crazy the world is and you bring me down from the clouds I often find myself sitting on.

Finally, I appreciate The Body Project. It has released so much within me and makes me smile on a daily basis to see how many women (and men!) it has touched. I love, beyond words, the women who've opened themselves up and allowed themselves to be vulnerable for this project. You all inspire and uplift me daily. The project feels like a solid foundation for which to build a new layer of my business. I am incredibly grateful to all involved and all who support us.


 1. I am so so SO grateful to past, present, and future clients of my business, katy daixon photography, particularly those clients (and non-clients!) who've stuck by me through every step of the (likely awkward) way. You know who you are, and I hope you know how special you are to me. Without your constant support, appreciation, help, honesty, and willingness to share my work with others, I wouldn't be where I am right now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Truly.

2. I deeply appreciate and love Dr. John Hicks and his wife, Betsy, for leading me on a new path toward healing. For the first time in seven years, I feel like all will work out in the end. I have faith that I won't need to deal with chronic pain and physical irritations for the rest of my life. You may have also incidentally made me a foodie. ;) I am forever grateful to you and for what you put out into the world.

3. Beyond my immediate family and husband, I appreciate and love my additional siblings (Tiff, Ric, Roy, and Alex). All of you bring incredible humor to my life and have lifted me out of darkness more times than I can count. Your honesty, unconditional love (even though you don't have to be honest or love me! ;P), intelligence, and determination are beautiful. As my mom always says, "You're not an inlaw. You're an outlaw, because outlaws are wanted." <3


Today was light-hearted. So my three positives will follow suit. ;)

1. I appreciate my cats something fierce. If I couldn't smoosh my face into their beautifully fluffy (Loki) and silky (Ziggy) hair, I don't know what I'd do to bring myself into the here and now. I am grateful for the conversations we have throughout the day (seriously) and for their adorable little faces putting a smile on my face every single day.

2. I appreciate kids' ability to be totally absurd and dorky with no fear of judgement. Today, I trekked down to Whitewater Lake to take photos of people hanging out on the beach for the Whitewater Tourism. As I took a photo from behind a mom watching her daughter play in the water, the daughter grabbed her mini-tube, slammed her body down on it, and posed with her arms and legs in the air. Lol! Then, as I was walking back to my car, I heard this conversation loud and clear:

Little girl: "Who was that lady you were talking to mom?"

Mom:, "A photographer. She's taking pictures for brochures and stuff."

Little girl: "So, I'm going to be in a magazine?!" it.

3. I appreciate the pleasure that comes from uninhibited dancing, especially the sways, jumps, booty shakin', dips, jerks, and fake ballerina moves one does while alone in their room. ;) It's glorious.


1. I appreciate so so much CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I signed up for through Regenerative Roots, located in Jefferson, WI, not only because the owners kick ass and love providing organically grown food to local people, but because the fruits and veggies are beyond delicious and make my body feel a thousand times better than many store bought items.

2. On that note, I ADORE and am grateful for fermented veggies. The amount of nutrition/probiotics packed into those veggie-filled mason jars on my pantry shelves and in my fridge have done amazing things to my digestive system. I am definitely moving in a healthy direction. Get recipes here and start fermenting. Seriously.

3. I love this weather. After so many days of stifling 80-90 degree humid heat, I am reminded of how much I love scarves, sweaters, and snuggling up next to my hubby. Oh yeah...and not sweating profusely. Both of us. ;)


1. I appreciate chocolate avocado pudding because I don't need to eat much to feel full and incredibly satisfied. For realsies. MAKE. IT. Recipe here.

2. I am truly grateful for the fact that I have time to do journaling and self-reflection in the morning. I can't even count how many times I have come to realizations about my mind, body, spirit, and life in that hour I spend alone with my thoughts.

3. I love video games. Seriously. If you want anything to take you out of your own head, go shoot stuff on your TV. ;)


1. I appreciate sessions with kind-hearted, easy-going people. I love the way the sessions turn out and how natural the people are with each other and me.

2. I LOVE big mugs. They make me feel warm.

3. I am truly grateful for nights like tonight with beautiful late summer weather, my husband and his brother playing guitar and singing, while I write and read and breathe.


This was technically due yesterday, but I was gone all day shooting a wedding, so today is just as good. ;)

1. I greatly appreciate the time my husband and I had today to purge our house of any excess. I seriously believe that cleansing your environment cleanses your mind.

2. I LOVE that gay marriage is accepted in Illinois because the two women I photographed yesterday with Capturing Photography so deserve to be married. They were an incredible couple with beautiful, happy families which made for incredible pictures all day. <3

3. I whole-heartedly appreciate this project, blog, my photography business, and the ability/chance to be creative every day. They all fulfill me so deeply I can't even imagine what I'd rather be doing. Life is awesome.


I challenge you ALL to write (OR say to yourself) a few positive things you're grateful for/appreciate every day for always. It truly is important for your health and the health of the world.


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