Local Longmont: Downtown Longmont streets will be Closed on Saturday for ArtWalk!

Local Longmont: Downtown Longmont streets will be Closed on Saturday for ArtWalk!

by Christa Marsh
Several downtown Longmont streets will be closed to traffic Saturday for ArtWalk, an evening of art, music, children's activities, exhibitions, music, and more! Photo Credit: Longmont Times Call, Russell Sample, 5, paints a picture during ArtWalk in downtown Longmont Closures as follows: Main Street will be closed between Third and Longs Peak avenues between 3 and 9 p.m. Southbound traffic will detour at Ninth Avenue and northbound traffic at Third Avenue. Also, Fourth Avenue will be closed from Main Street to the alley east of Main from 1:30 to 9 p.m., and from Main west to Coffman Street from 3 to 9 p.m. Fifth Avenue is to be closed from Main to the alley to the east from 2 to 9 p.m., and from Main Street to the alley west from 2 to 9 p.m. Visit http://artwalklongmont.org/ for more information!  
Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Fun for the Kiddos!

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Fun for the Kiddos!

by Christa Marsh
Hiking with your parents up a rocky trail doesn't always sound like a ton of fun for kiddos just being introduced to the mountains and all the fun they present. Sometimes kids need a goal for the trip, something that makes it special for them. Photo Credit: nps.gov Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan covers "10 Things to Do with Kids at Rocky Mountain National Park" in her recent article on MyRockyMountainPark.com 1. Become a Junior Ranger Photo Credit: nps.gov 2. Go horseback riding 3. Take a hike Add purpose by hunting for wildflowers (no picking!), looking for animal signs, sketching, a scavenger hunt (but just a photo scavenger hunt - everything needs to stay in its RMNP home:) 4. Go Camping 5. Attend a Family Ranger Program 6. Go Fishing!! 7. Paddle a Canoe 8. Walk on the Tundra 9. Have a picnic 10. In the winter, there's a wonderful sledding area at the Hidden Valley Snow Play Area  Visit MyRockyMountainPark.com for details on planning the perfect mini vacation to Rocky this summer! Have fun out there!  
PRICE REDUCTION: Opportunity Awaits at 1849 Sundance Dr.!

PRICE REDUCTION: Opportunity Awaits at 1849 Sundance Dr.!

by Christa Marsh
We just lowered the price on this beautiful custom home in Longmont's Sundance Community! Now priced to sell at $725,000.00! 1849 Sundance Drive | Longmont, CO 80504 Custom, luxury-built home in the sought-after Sundance Neighborhood. Private community pool and clubhouse, surrounded by Ute Creek Golf Course and Jim Hamm Nature Preserve. Views of the back range and easy commuting! More photos and information here! http://www.tourfactory.com/1927244  

Call or email with any questions or to set up a private showing!

cory@justlistedcolo.com | 303-776-4004

Motivational Monday: We can all make difference.

Motivational Monday: We can all make difference.

by Christa Marsh
The Akashinga are one of Africa's only armed female anti-poaching units and they're protecting one of the largest elephant populations left on the continent. Photo Credit: Left to Right, LadyFreeThinker.org, GirlTalk HQ, International Anti-Poaching Foundation Part of the Lower Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe is a former trophy hunting reserve and, sadly, many of the animals are still threatened by poachers. These women, unafraid of who they may encounter, are often arresting local poachers that could be their neighbor or live in a nearby village. But, their focus is on their animals and duty to protect them so they won't disappear forever. These women are changing the face of conservation forever.
2017 Longmont Water Quality Report

2017 Longmont Water Quality Report

by Christa Marsh
The 2017 Longmont Water Quality Report is hot off the presses! You can download the full report here. Below are the highlights. Spoiler: We have incredible water quality standards. So where does Longmont's water come from? The City of Longmont’s drinking water is all surface water that comes from streams, lakes and reservoirs. The sources of Longmont’s drinking water are: The St. Vrain Creek Watershed and the Colorado and Fraser Rivers via the Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) project. As our water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive materials. It can also pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. Image Credit: City of Longmont 2017 Water Quality Report And, how is it treated? Step 1. Coagulation — Aluminum salts and chemicals called polymers are mixed with the water to make the particles in the water stick together. Step 2. Flocculation — The coagulated particles are slowly mixed so that they can collide and form larger particles, known as “floc.” Step 3. Sedimentation — Water flows through a large tank which allows the “floc” to settle to the bottom of the tank and be removed. Step 4. Filtration — Water is passed through filters made of sand and anthracite coal to filter out remaining particles. Step 5. Disinfection — Chlorine is added to kill any remaining bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. Step 6. Fluoridation — Fluoride is added to help prevent tooth decay. Step 7. Stabilization — Small amounts of soda ash (sodium carbonate) or sodium hydroxide are added to make the water less corrosive to pipes and plumbing. Image Credit: City of Longmont 2017 Water Quality Report The State-certified City of Longmont Water Quality Laboratory, performs many of the tests on your drinking water. Contract labs are also used for tests that the Water Quality Laboratory does not do in-house. 10,206 tests were performed on the City’s drinking water last year, 9186 of which were performed by the City’s Water Quality Laboratory. These tests ensure that the water delivered to your tap meets or exceeds the standards set by the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Last year, as in years past, our tap water met all EPA and State drinking water health standards. We're proud to live in a city that safeguards our water to such a high standard! READ THE FULL REPORT HERE  
Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Estes Park Photographer and Author Wins National Award

Rocky Mountain National Park Series: Estes Park Photographer and Author Wins National Award

by Christa Marsh
Erik Stensland, a local photographer and author from Estes Park just won the Benjamin Franklin Award for his latest book, ‘Whispers in the Wilderness’.
Stensland owns and operates Images of RMNP, and is well known in the close-knit Estes Park community.
MOUNTAIN SYMPHONY Tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park The tundra explodes with wildflowers in early summer in Rocky Mountain National Park as the Never Summer Mountains try to hold on to their remaining snow. This dynamic scene that reoccurs ever summer is simply stunning. It is as if the world can't help but break into song with the arrival of summer. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.
Whispers in the Wilderness is a compilation of small essays inspired by the natural world around Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Learn more about Stensland and the award in the video below.
4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT the 2006 Bubble all Over Again

4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT the 2006 Bubble all Over Again

You're not alone if you're concerned about buying into today's market. Across the country, we are seeing housing prices much like 2006, but there are four key metrics that explain why this market is quite different than 12 years ago. 1. Home Prices 2. Mortgage Standards 3. Mortgage Debt 4. Housing Affordability HOME PRICES Yes, they are high, but if you account for inflation, after more than a decade, values should be much higher. Chief Economist for CoreLogic, Frank Nothaft, explains it like this, “Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.”    MORTGAGE STANDARDS Some folks are concerned that lending standards are easing, which was a big contributor to the 2006 housing bubble. However, according to the Urban Institutes Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI), the riskiest loan products have been eliminated and lending standards are much tighter on a borrower's credit situation.   MORTGAGE DEBT In 2006, many homeowners continued to withdraw from home equity and spend it without concern for ramifications. That is not occurring in today's market. The Federal Reserve Board's household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income. At the height of the 2006 bubble market, the ratio stood at 7.21%, today, the ratio is at 4.48%. This is the lowest in 38 years! HOUSING AFFORDABILITY Lastly, with home prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that homeownership may not be feasible for many buyers. From a National perspective though, the Housing Affordability Index shows that homes are more affordable now than an other time since 1985 (with the exception of after the 2008 crash). BUT WHAT ABOUT COLORADO AND BOULDER COUNTY? Here in Colorado and specifically Boulder County, it may not seem that we are aligned with National averages. However, according to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American Financial Corporation, Boulder County homes are still more affordable than they have been in anytime over the last 40 years, and Longmont leads the pack! If  you missed it, Kyle Snyder of First American Title, along with First American Financial Corp and the Longmont Association of Realtors released the Annual Longmont Affordabilty Review at the end of March. Read the full review here: http://bit.ly/2GbH8LO ​No matter the market, deciding to buy a home is one of the biggest decisions of a lifetime. Our team takes the time to educate our buyers on the local market and can help unravel the questions and concerns that come along with buying a home. Give us a call at 303-776-4004 or send us an email at homes@justlistedcolo.com - we'd love to help YOU!

HOT PICK FOR THE WEEK! 406 N Parkside Dr E, Longmont, 80501

HOT PICK FOR THE WEEK! 406 N Parkside Dr E, Longmont, 80501

Townhomes in Longmont and Boulder County are at a premium these days! The average sales price for townhomes increased by 18.5% from March 2017! 406 N Parkside Dr E, Longmont, 80501 is fresh on the market this week. Conveniently located in sought-after Parkview at Quail Ridge, it's an easy commute down HWY287 to Boulder/Louisville/Broomfield. Parkview at Quail Ridge is close to Old Town Main Street restaurants and breweries, connected to the community by walking/bike paths, close to shopping and Longmont's Recreation Center. This is a great starter home, low maintenance lock-and-go home, or an investment property. It's priced just right at $310,000. Send an email if you'd like to set up a showing christa@justlistedcolo.com or homes@justlistedcolo.com.
Are you participating in the #LoCo21DayChallenge?

Are you participating in the #LoCo21DayChallenge?

City of Longmont Waste Services is encouraging everyone to make a pledge to create a new recycling or composting habit this Spring. What is the 21-Day Challenge? The #LoCo21DayChallenge is hinged on the notion that it takes 21 days to instill a habit and asks participants to make a personal commitment to create a new habit to reduce waste and decrease our individual environmental impacts. Learn more about the challenge and sign up for the opportunity to win prizes and be part of the greater good! CLICK TO SIGN UP! Share your progress on our Facebook page!

Just Closed! 1204 S Bross Lane in Southmoore Park

Congratulations to our Buyers who JUST CLOSED on their new home in beautiful Southmoore Park!

1204 S Bross Lane  Longmont, CO 80501

Now it's time for summer bbqs, swimming at Kanemoto Park, riding bikes on the many bike paths and meeting new neighbors!

We wish you the best, can't wait for your housewarming party;), and appreciate you allowing us to help you along this journey.


Rocky Mountain National Park Series – December 3rd Full Moon Hike

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – December 3rd Full Moon Hike

by Cory Dudley

Bask in the light of the full moon in Rocky Mountain National Park this Sunday 12/3.

What better a way to get into the holiday spirit! 

Photo Credit: NPS/Russell Smith

The Rocky Mountain Rangers lead Full Moon Walks in the winter months, the first one this coming Sunday. Groups leave from Beaver Meadows at 5 pm. Reservations are required and can be made in person or you can call the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at 970-586-1223. Maybe there will even be a little fresh snow from the system that passes through Sunday - fingers crossed!

Returning the favor to our National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park Series

Returning the favor to our National Parks – Rocky Mountain National Park Series

by Cory Dudley

...when you drive into this park, you forget about everything else. You hear the water, hear the birds, you hear the wind ruffling through the aspens. Everything else disappears and all you have are the sounds and your thoughts." Blake Crossland

Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo

​Blake Crossland grew up in the Rocky Mountains, through which he developed a deep appreciation for exploration and adventure in the outdoors. Now, he is dedicating his life to returning the favor by becoming a trail crew leader for the Rocky Mountain Conservation Corps.

Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo​

Blake's crew is responsible for trail construction and maintenance. They focus on making trails more sustainable, so they last longer and are more enjoyable for the public.

Image Credit PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo​

The main goal of the Conservation Corp is to get kids involved in conservation work. Younger people will determine our National Parks' futures. We need to connect young people to the public lands and parks and continue to protect these treasured places!

Thank you Blake! 

PARK CHAMPIONS // 02 // Rocky Mountain National Park from Compass Coalition on Vimeo.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Proposed Gate Fee Increase to $70

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Proposed Gate Fee Increase to $70

Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the 10 most-visited national parks in the United States, coming in at number 4 behind (1) Great Smoky Mountains NP, (2) Grand Canyon NP & (3) Yosemite NP.

Photo Credits: Michael Hodges, Jim Osterberg © 2012 RockyMountainNationalPark.com

The number of visitors each year (over 4.5 million this year!), specifically concentrated during the peak season (June to September), is taking a toll on the park. From roads and bridges to campgrounds and restrooms, the infrastructure is aging and the National Parks Service is proposing raising rates to fund improvements in RMNP, as well as, 17 other popular national parks.

Photo Credits: Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce

Current Rocky Mountain National Park entrance fees are $30/week and $10 dollars for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycles. If the proposed rate increase goes into effect, it could cost $70 to enter RMNP in June of 2018.

Photo Credits: CBS Denver - CBS Local

The National Parks Service says if implemented, this increase could boost park revenue by $70 million/year. But, there's no guarantee that this will happen. A public comment period is open through November 23rd. Learn more and share your thoughts in the Comments section here: http://bit.ly/2yMe5IB​


"With each passing year, fear [of aging] creeps a little closer..."  As we age we think more and more about prolonging our lives. Maybe we feel we missed out on some aspect because of the choices we made, or maybe we just want to feel we lived our lives to the fullest until the very end. Whatever the case, most of Western society continues seek the magic pill to feeling, looking and performing our best. Is there a secret to perpetual youth and longevity? Maybe the answers are simpler than we think?

Aging pro freeskier, Mike Douglas, traveled to Japan seeking youth. Not only are there 500 ski areas in Japan, making the destination an easy choice, the Japanese are also the longest living population of the world's major industrialized countries.

At the end of day, the secret to growing old with grace is probably not found in complicated diet formulas, yoga rituals or workout routines (not that any of those things are detrimental to our health),  but more about eating well, giving our bodies respect and time to strengthen and recover, setting goals and not rushing our success.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu

Yuichiro Miura, famous for being the man who skied down Everest, and "...the most badass old dude on the planet" now 88, skis over a 100 days a year, and attributes part of his success to goal setting. He says, "at any age, you should have a goal set to always be stronger and healthier than you are right now".

We all have the secret to longevity living inside of us. Create attainable goals, be forgiving of yourself, wake up every morning and choose to be a better version of you than yesterday, be strong in your convictions, laugh, take time to nourish your body and keep sight on your destination. Get out there and chase life!

Motivational Monday – REI’s “Adventure in Real Life”

Motivational Monday – REI’s “Adventure in Real Life”

"My plan never included this many roadblocks. But maybe the only difference between 'roadblock' and 'adventure' was my perspective..."

Life often doesn't go quite as planned. In fact, many of us are familiar with the old saying, "The only constant in life is change." Depending on the day and your mood when such change strikes, it can be difficult to embrace it fully for the adventure that it is! REI's short film "Adventure in Real Life" touches on the importance of changing perspective in order to appreciate experiences as they come; for better or for worse.

(Video Credit: REI)

"Slowly I discovered that nature was all the more beautiful because of the unplanned and the unexpected."

"I guess life is like that; full of setbacks and roadblocks. But when we love something enough, we can turn any obstacle into an Odyssey. The truth is, life isn't going to go as planned... The only question is will you choose to call it an adventure?"

Nothing forces someone to embrace a humble attitude like a tough challenge. You're bound to become kinder and more sympathetic to others and their own obstacles, too. Embracing your failures will better prepare you for your next great adventure, and remind you that you are indeed human.

The most efficient use of your mental and emotional energy is to focus on yourself first; what do you think of your efforts? How do you prioritize personal growth? What makes you truly happy? What makes you feel accomplished? While the validation of others can be a temporary relief, your own validation will provide long term satisfaction in any situation.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Stay Curious Video Series

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Stay Curious Video Series

by Cory Dudley

"I think that's what I like the best is understanding more about how things work, and what's living there, and how it interacts with all the other organisms in that system."

Erin Borgman 

The National Park Service's video series, Stay Curious, most recently selected and interviewed one of Rocky Mountain National Park's very own. Erin Borgman is an NPS Ecologist and Field Coordinator with the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Division. In short, her job is to keep a close eye on the vital signs and overall 'health' of important streams and rivers within the park. These bodies of water are the most important resource to the park's habitat and wildlife inhabitants, making her mission a crucial one!

Check out the video below to learn how Erin began down the path of Ecology sciences and the advice she has for anyone else trying to discover their place in the world around them.

Motivational Monday – Discovering & Spreading Light During Dark Times

Motivational Monday – Discovering & Spreading Light During Dark Times

"Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us.

Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole."

Jack Kornfield

We know all too well that the world can be a scary, overwhelming and confusing place; and lately there seems to be a lot going on. Between natural disasters and acts of violence, headlines are dreaded and draining before the day has even begun. Despite the darkness during challenging times, there is something else going on that's worth noting.

People are donating their time and resources to charities and various efforts of all kinds. They're giving all that they can, however they can. It's during the darkest times that humanity can shine the brightest! That light is putting love and kindness into action, and we're all capable of putting this energy into practice.

Beyond becoming involved in your community and in charities that speak to you, inward reflection is an essential aspect of processing tragic events that are beyond our control. Truth be told, the majority of us can only control how we react to such things. A simple meditation practice can cultivate the love & kindness that is so important following disasters, and can even be done in spare moments throughout your daily life.

Loving Kindness Meditation

Begin by finding a quiet or special space where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Take deep breaths for a few minutes, focusing on a soft heart and releasing all plans and precautions. First, recite the below phrases inwardly and focus on your own well-being.

May I be filled with loving kindness.

May I be safe for inner and outer dangers.

May I be well in body and mind. 

May I be at ease and happy. 

While repeating the phrases, allow images to come and go naturally, and focus on allowing the feelings to fully permeate your body & mind.

When you are feeling a strong sense of self love, you can then feel confident in expanding the meditation to include others in your own social circles, then your community, and finally, humanity as a whole. Repeat the same phrases as above, but imagine sending the feelings outwards to others.

May you be filled with loving kindness. 

May you be safe for inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Park Closures for Elk Protection

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Park Closures for Elk Protection

Closures to protect the elk during the annual bugling season are currently in effect throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, Harbison Meadow and Holzwarth Meadow will all be closed through October 31st. In addition, fishing in the Fall River, Thompson River or Colorado River during the closure period is prohibited.

"The purpose of the closures is to prevent disturbance and harassment of elk during their fall mating period and to enhance visitor elk viewing opportunities," states Kyle Patterson, park spokeswoman.

The park reminds visitors that elk calling, shining headlights for better nighttime visibility and generally harassing the elk is not only prohibited but dangerous. The majority of issues are caused by people directly who get too closely to the elk, or "elk jams" due to so many viewers parked alongside the roads.

In order to enjoy the rutting season and visits to the mountains responsibly, maintain your distance!

Motivational Monday – ‘Where We Belong’

Motivational Monday – ‘Where We Belong’

"When the day is full of potential, being lazy isn't a consideration.."

Throughout human history, people have gone out into nature in search of self discovery, connectedness and transformation. At times when we're feeling most unsure of ourselves and our place in the world, venturing into the wilderness can provide clarity and motivation. In a day and age when we're bombarded with technology, constant bustle and triggering stresses, removing yourself from your immediate environment can reveal the potential for seeing yourself elsewhere in the world.

Someone's perception may shift along with a new vast and calming landscape....

Nature may initiate change help you to abandon your obsession over problematic frames of mind. Through that clarity, unexpected solutions will begin to form....

Mental static will melt away and the attachment to your version of reality will in turn begin to loosen, becoming fluid and neutral... 

Join 5 women as they traverse from Daniels Lake to Skwawka Lake in British Columbia. Along the way they discover that the wilderness truly is where they belong, despite the doubts that everyday life can instill. Though they were each hesitant to make such a trek solo, collectively their knowledge and spirit lifted them all up to greater heights.

(Video Credit: Arc'teryx)

"We're walking on the back of history and then it invites us in... We listen to it breathing. What we do is keep moving; we make a decision, we go. This is our real life. This is where we belong."

Nature invites us to open into awareness and discover where we belong - when will you answer the call? 

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Finding Fall Colors This Weekendd

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – Finding Fall Colors This Weekendd

Beginning in late August each year, the aspens in the highest parts of Rocky Mountain National Park embark on their annual transition of 'quaking'; a term use to describe the leave's behavior in the breeze and unique color changing process from green to brilliant golden yellows, oranges and reds.

(Video Credit: Colette Bordelon)

If you have yet to visit the park during the fall, you must add it to your to-do list! The hues painting the mountainside change with each passing day until mid to late September, accompanied by the elk's rutting season and migration down from the high country. Tourists, photographers and nearly everyone else believes the park is in it's prime during this time of year, though there are certain spots that are recommended above others if you're chasing colors....

Hidden Valley

Far from hidden, this popular spot is a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts as a place where elk gather in large numbers, backdropped by fiery colors. There are numerous viewing spots along US 34 on the SE facing hillsides. Have your cameras ready! Elk show up with little warning and you may miss the ideal opportunity if you're not prepared...

Glacier Gorge Trail

All the way up to Alberta Falls on Glacier Gorge Trail, you'll be snapping pictures and looking on in awe; this hike is a beautiful one. Aspens line the path and fallen leaves float along the creek, welcoming you with a flurry of color.

Bear Lake Road

This road runs parallel to the Glacier Creek and is worth the time it may take to travel all the way to the end. You'll begin at Moraine Park and will want to pull off the road any chance you get because every turn will offer a new and interesting view! If you'd prefer to hike or relax at an overlook, there are many opportunities along the way for that as well.

Twin Sisters

Because the trail head is located just outside of the park's boundary (approximately 6 miles from Estes Park), this hike is a favorite for those who prefer a more secluded experience. If you've brought your camera along, be sure to get an early start to the day for the best lighting. 

Fairview Curve

About 10,000 feet up on Trail Ridge Road you'll find the Fair Curve and spectacular views of the Mummy Range up to the north. You will have driven through the Kawuneeche Valley to reach this spot, so you can now appreciate the valley's color from above! 

Kawuneeche Valley

Argued by some as the most beautiful place in the park to photograph, you'll drive through 10 miles of Kawuneeche Valley along Trail Ridge Road between Grand Lake and the Timber Lake trail head. Give yourself ample time for stops on this route because it tends to be more lovely than one expects. 

Motivational Monday – Break Free of Your Comfort Zone

Motivational Monday – Break Free of Your Comfort Zone

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again..."

– Abraham Maslow

Countless people operate day to day within their comfort zone; a silent but common ailment. The longer someone stays within it's confines, the less happy they tend to be. Stepping beyond the boundaries of what's familiar is essential to finding happiness, accomplishing goals and discovering your true passions in life. So why do so many of us choose to stay there if it's slowly draining us?

Big changes take lots of energy. Everything in life takes energy, which can be translated into motivation. If we lack the motivation necessary to make big life changes, we as humans find reasons to remain in a state of stasis; after all, stepping beyond our current circumstances could end up being uncomfortable and even scary!

But if you do not journey past all that you know, you're deliberately robbing yourself of 3 beautiful things life has to offer on the other side....

You are not growing

Shawn Achor, a positivity psychologist and author, states that happiness is "the joy you feel moving towards your potential."

We've all heard the saying that if you aren't growing and moving forward, you're really slipping backwards. Progress is a key ingredient to happiness in life! As long as you remain within your comfort zone, you're not growing because you're making no movement towards progress or growth. Remember, growth is about becoming more than you currently are and without experiencing all that is outside of you, you'll never get there. 

You're not out there trying new things

What are you passionate about? The luckiest of us discover what we love doing early on in life, and we're able to follow our hearts as we spend our lives mastering the art of it. But if you're anything like the majority of people, you spend the first two or three decades of life searching and testing and wondering what it is that our hearts desire.... And that's only if you're diving into one thing after another, and constantly trying new things.

Your comfort zone isn't about getting out there, challenging yourself and discovering. In fact, you'll rarely try anything new and if you do, it's typically not of your own free will. 

You're becoming comfortable with settling 

The worst fate of all! We all know those people that had a dream straight out of college and then life happened. They settled for a life that was good enough without being too much; they decided to remain comfortable and unchallenged versus chasing tirelessly after their passions. 

And this situation alone isn't the worst of it. If you become conditioned to settle in general, you will fail at recognizing prime opportunities that come along throughout life. You'll reject them out of the fear of leaving what you've always known. 

Don't worry - there is still hope! Anyone and everyone can expand their comfort zones and even wander beyond them in a healthy and enjoyable way. The real trick to beating is to make feeling uncomfortable a conscious and constant habit. The more you do it, the less resistance you'll experience to the feeling itself and to the actions associated with it. 

The old adage 'one step at a time' truly comes into play here. That first step is the most essential because it's the only one where we're facing our fears directly. Second and third steps are significantly less terrifying, and before you know it you're running from your comfort zone with a smile on your face. The next time around will be that much easier, as your confidence builds.

Here are 3 things you can do to develop the self confidence and strength necessary to step outside your comfort zone regularly...

1.) Make a list of your procrastinations

What are all of the things that you've been putting off and continue to put off? Try to think of everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, that you've been procrastinating on for a few weeks or more. 

2.) Start checking off things from that list, beginning with the smallest

Don't go chasing the whales on your list; begin with the small fish and work your way up. It's essential that you take that first step and experience success as quickly as possible. 

3.) Continue moving forward 

It's all about momentum from here. Continue moving forward by stepping further and further from your comfort zone until you feel ready to tackle whatever comes your way!

Your resolve is a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Before you know it, spending substantial amounts of time beyond your comfort zone will become the new norm. 

Motivational Monday – Embracing Solitude

Motivational Monday – Embracing Solitude

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.

 Arthur Schopenhauer

Though we have all relied on our social connections with one another to advance as humans, time spent alone is crucial to our well-being - and is often put on the back burner. In a world that is constantly moving, loud, changing and demanding, we can easily become drained and robbed of creative energies and clarity if we aren't careful.

Unfortunately for many of us, loving solitude doesn't come naturally! It can take a lot of practice and patience in order to become comfortable on our own, but once we do, the benefits are undeniable. Solitude allows you to reconnect with yourself and your truest desires without the expectations and distraction of others. It can also stoke the fires of creativity by allowing a safe space to explore ideas and feelings freely. Most of all, it can clear your mind of stress and bring about calmness and clarity. Inner peace is perhaps the most important benefit of embracing solitude.

Here are some of the most productive ways to spend time alone:

1.) Create a personal space in your home that is dedicated to you and only you. Whether it's a corner of a room, an entire room or the whole house, make everything about it appealing to you. Decorate in a way that is welcoming and inspiring, and set aside time to be in that environment regularly.

2.) Make a goal to become expert in something completely different & new. Research states that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated focus on something to become an expert - what better time to get started than now?

3.) Prioritize 'me time'. It's perfectly healthy to carve out blocks of time in day to day life just for oneself. Doing something that relives stress and calms worries will spill over into other areas of life, too!

4.) Start keeping a journal. Being alone offers time to explore our innermost feelings, desires, fears, hopes, worries and ideas. Keeping all that down in one place allows you to revisit past moments for inspiration.

5.) Learn how to cat nap! As every busy adult knows, naps are a luxury that we should be accepting whenever they come our way. But wouldn't it be nice to fit a short nap into your schedule a few times a week? By napping now and then, you will experience much needed respite from daily stresses on both your mind and body.

6.) Work on your confidence by doing an activity that you would normally only do with others. This could mean you hit the slopes for a solo session, or jam out on your guitar all alone. No matter what it is, the extra practice and focus you give to the task itself will result in increased skill next time you meet up with your friends!

7.) Pursue learning more within your occupation beyond the proximity of others. Only if you genuinely enjoy your career, that is! It can be very fulfilling to further yourself without the confines that your employer or office guidelines dictate. 

Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park September Festivals 2017

Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park September Festivals 2017

Not far from Rocky Mountain National Park lies beloved Estes Park, where visitors and locals alike celebrate life in the Colorado Rockies with special events throughout the year. Below are the events this month that you will want to pencil into your calendar!

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival September 7th through 10th 

If you've never made it up the hill in the past three decades for this festival, this is the year! For 3 days, Estes Park becomes the setting for one of the nation's largest celebrations of Scottish and Irish cultures. Held annually the weekend after Labor Day, there are events such as jousting, bagpipes, dancers, precision drill teams and more. One of the weekend's highlights is the parade along Estes Park's main street.

Scottish Irish Shopping Markets will have a variety of vendors selling things such as clothing, kilts, accessories, home decor and highland-inspired jewelry. The Strong Man Competition on the festival field will allow athletes to show off their skills in the hammer throw, putting the stone and caber throwing. If something more traditional is what you enjoy, then the International Jousting Championships entertain with games and competition in both light and heavy armor. Dogs of the British Isles put on quite the show for the entire family, with dog agility and herding, terrier races and dog exhibit booths with goods.

Click HERE to purchase your ticket and for an event calendar for the weekend!

  Autumn Gold Festival - September 23rd and 24th

Celebrate the changing of the seasons in one of the region's most beloved festivals! Everyone is welcome to enjoy the live music and dance for FREE, and the Estes Valley Sunrise Rotary will have bratwursts and cold drinks for purchase once inside. Other vendor booths will have treats such as corn on the cob, funnel cakes, roasted almonds and fresh lemonade; there's bound to be something for everyone.

The kiddos will be well entertained with face painting, corn bag tosses, a bounce house and classic car show. Perhaps the most popular portion of the festival is the raffle - entrants can take home prizes of $5,000 or $2,500 cash prizes, and various other cash and runner-up awards. Raffle tickets cost $25 each.

Performance Park Summer Concert Series, Mason Street - September 16th

​Mason Street is a Fort Collins-bred bluegrass band that will be finishing up the Summer Concert Series at the Performance Park Amphitheater. The show goes from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, for FREE! Don't miss out...

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – The Beautiful Results of a Natural Disaster

Rocky Mountain National Park Series – The Beautiful Results of a Natural Disaster

There are spectacular reminders everywhere reminding us of nature's great power and all that it can do; and Rocky Mountain National Park has had it's fair share! Nature is constantly working to alter the park. whether it be over the course of a few hours or a few centuries. Below is one that you can see for yourself!

Alluvial Fan was created on July 15th, 1982, when Lawn Lake broke through a moraine that had held since the end of the last ice age. 29 million gallons of water were let loose, 3 lives were lost and in the end, Estes Park ended up beneath 6 feet of water. What remains of it today are giant boulders that were washed down with the flood, with sand and other debris spread out in it's wake.

If you visit, you can park in either of the lots that are right off the road. From there, explore along the rocks before heading to the east side, where you can get a better view from all sides. If you enjoy scrambling over the looks, be careful of loose ones and how slippery they can be. There are several paths that will take you deeper into the canyons, if you dare adventure further.