The As Yet Uncharted Territory of My Heart

The As Yet Uncharted Territory of My Heart

Bethany Toews‘ exquisite take on navigating through our parks, and how such treks mirror the unfolding roads of our relationships…

13 days. 3,977 miles. 8 states. Enough miles and minutes to see deeper, truer. Perspective gained. High highs and low lows. Elation and frustration. Elevation change. Voices raised and then lowered as the scenery morphs. Camp sights and smelly motels. Nice hotels. Lots and lots of Dairy Queen Blizzards melting in the summer sun.
Long. Awkward. Silence. . . Laughter. Communicating logistics and obstacles, hopes and fears, and the need for a bathroom break. Winding up and breaking down. Being witness to all the emotion that only motion can draw out.
Travel shows us who we are, what we value, and what we long for. Traveling with others can strip away the excess, the niceties, the added padding we put on so many of our proclamations. The open road and confined spaces have a special way of exposing still-tender wounds and forgotten scars. Old memories are remembered as new ones are being made. No adventure comes without its fair share of heartache. No journey is complete without surrendering what was for what is becoming.
When I set out on this epic adventure, I knew I was heading into unknown territory. Not geographically speaking. I had been to pretty much every place we had mapped out for our grand loop through the Western United States. I knew I was about to head into an as yet uncharted territory of my heart. I was going to venture into the mysterious terrain of shared space with a 39-year-old man and his 8-year-old son. I knew I would not return to my home the same. I knew we would all come back with lessons and opinions and feelings that would remain long after the car was parked back where it began. For better or worse…
The last 15 minutes of our long journey ended with us all in laughter, delighting in a shared joke. This is important. There was plenty of time on this trip when I thought I couldn’t go another mile drowning in the annoyance, or the isolation, or the silence. There were days when I looked at them and thought how strange it was to find myself an intruder in their well-established belonging to each other. And then there was the night on Orcas Island, when the 3 of us curled into our sleeping bags in our shared tent, giggling and breathing together, still learning each other, but silently aware that we were slipping into something familiar, something familial. A new kind of family. Something that is complicated but powerful in its realness. Something that takes a lot of time, patience, creativity, surrender, forgiveness, flexibility, humor, and ultimately love to grow. Something that will require newer and truer parts of you to come forth. Hopefully the bigger and better parts, but most likely something in between.
When you realize what you want, you might be surprised to find it looks nothing like what you thought it would. I never thought I would fall for a man with a child that wasn’t my own. I never thought I’d need to learn the tricky territory of loving and leaving space with someone that you know will never see you as their mother, and yet, will hopefully over time see you as an important source of love and support in his/her life. I never thought I’d be sitting in the passenger seat reading the I Survived series out loud to an enthusiastic boy in the backseat. At first rolling my eyes at the juvenile language and then being moved to tears. The simple language of the stories of sinking ships and shark attacks drawing out how complicated love can feel. How hard it is to stay open and soft when we’re all scared of being hurt. I never thought I’d feel the tender and complex love for a mother who was navigating her own feelings as she had to accept her child was growing to feel comfortable with another woman.
It’s scary. I don’t want to overstep any boundaries. I don’t want to do more than is wanted or welcome. I don’t want to threaten anyone, or take away. But I do want to honor the truth of who I am. I want to be allowed to love more each day. To impart wisdom or guidance where it is needed. When possible, to make life a little lighter, more beautiful, more secure. To honor the wishes of my partner, who is a wonderful father, while also believing that I have something to offer. Some new ways of seeing, of being. Some new ways of being good to and for each other.
On the road, we were stuck with each other, quite literally. Perhaps that is what raises the stakes. This movie trailer for what is your unfolding life. The road that stretches ahead becoming a metaphor for the bigger commitment you are making to each other. The ways you are forced to depend and negotiate and compromise. The way you have to stay in the tent in the middle of the night in Montana, no matter how much part of you may want to run away. The way you fall asleep hurt and wake to feeling another’s breath on your face. The way it softens your desire to leave and imparts in you a primal need to stay.
I couldn’t have known how 2 weeks on the road would make me feel. That’s why I was nervous the morning we set out. That’s why I stayed nervous, when we went to Portland to stay with his his ex-girlfriend, his first love, his now dear friend. But she was lovely, and the more I challenged myself to keep my heart open, the better it felt. And then visiting my family in North Idaho. Worrying how it would go. Melting into a puddle when it went so much better than I could have hoped. Feeling almost confused at how immediately comfortable it felt. How everyone settled into each other. How in the midst of my history, I could see a future unfolding, and how right that felt.
We have the measure of days and miles that we traveled, but there is no way to quantify what was gained. What was surrendered. What memories etched their way into our minds and how differently those memories will be remembered in future moments of our lives, together or apart. For now I am trying to keep it simple. For now I am trying to gratefully and graciously take my time. Offer what I have and who I am. Try not to ask for more than is gratefully and graciously given. And to trust that we come into each other’s lives for a reason. And if we meet with open hearts and open minds, wherever the road may take us, we will discover more truth and love and beauty along the way. And if that’s not the point to all of this, then I don’t really know what is.
Photos by James Adolphus. Follow Bethany on Instagram.

Free People Blog

Soho Pop-Up: August Sign-Ups Are Here!

Soho Pop-Up: August Sign-Ups Are Here!

Keep your wellness game going strong via our Soho pop-up…

Head to the bottom of this page to RSVP. Refer to the below calendar and opt in for the class best suited to you and what you’re craving. If you’re experiencing any difficulty in signing up, it may be that both the particular class and waitlist are at capacity! You must select the “sign up” button in order to secure your spot — this button will appear only next to open classes!

Tune In Tuesday:

Relax and rejuvenate with a gong bath workshop by Jennifer Drue

Wellness Wednesday:

Heal with crystals courtesy of Maha Rose

Or consider a Full Moon Ritual workshop with our friend, Ruby Warrington from The Numinous!

Awaken your spirit and chakras with Diana Paschal

Embrace your green thumb, and learn how to be a houseplant ninja with Summer Rayne Oakes of Homestead Brooklyn

There’s also a Moon Wisdom workshop with Laura Patterson of Soul Centered Self

Fitness Friday:

Every Friday this month, spend $100 in-store and receive a FREE class voucher to Soul Cycle!

Savasana Saturday: 

Immerse yourself in a vinyasa yoga class with instructor Augie Schiano

A few things to note: 

All classes are by appointment, so they must be booked using the below MindBody sign-up tool.

Please arrive within 10 minutes of start time to keep your spot for all events.


Free People Blog

Keeping it Clean with Eddie Mitsou, Part 3

Keeping it Clean with Eddie Mitsou, Part 3

 I felt slightly confused and my future was unsure…

This is the 3rd post in a series from model and friend, Eddie Mitsou Pettersson.

I was living in Istanbul when I turned 19. It was modeling that brought me there…not because the Turkish market is the best for a blonde Swede but, at that time I had few options. During Christmas holiday, most fashion capitals slow down for obvious reasons. My dream was to move to New York but I was so ready to get out of my hometown that I told my agency to send me anywhere, even as a pit stop. So Istanbul it was…

And what a magical city! The Turkish food culture quickly sucked me in — its bounty of fresh local produce inspired me to eat healthy and clean: tahini, dried figs, amazing hummus and grilled vegetables, so much better than I would have expected. It was the first time I had to take care of myself, i.e. making breakfast, lunch and dinner. Luckily, I really liked it — experimenting in the kitchen was new to me and quickly became a hobby. It was a good way to relax after a long day of meeting client after client after client…

My weekdays consisted of shooting editorials and hitting up endless castings. When the weekends rolled in, there were always big dinner parties and shredding at clubs. And so, there were many pre-game drinking competitions being held in our little model flat.

I enjoyed it at the time, but realized it wasn’t propelling me in a good direction. My destructive weekend behavior forced me to press the restart button every Sunday night. I was eating clean, going to the gym on my working days, but my free time was filled with liquor and chocolate bars and Turkish cheese pastries. Oh, the suffering of the morning afters. (Or let me say afternoon, because I rarely woke up before 1pm).

The hard work I was putting in at the gym was really for nothing. I missed out on much of Istanbul’s historical and cultural beauty, too, because most time off was spent in a rusty bunk bed, ice pack on my sweaty forehead. 

One sunny December day, as I was walking around Hagia Sophia, I made the decision. I was going to stay sober, be healthy and 100% vegan (no space for cheese pastries here!) until I made it to New York. What was it worth, to be so good 5 days a week and then ruining it on the last 2. Funnily enough, my walk was in the early morning because I had skipped a promoter’s dinner the night before. How good it felt to walk around in the sun with a clean head!

To be honest, I felt slightly confused — my thoughts were spinning and I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I felt that a sober, ultra-clean detox was what I needed. With Jim Morrison’s sexy smoky voice in my ears I sat down with a salted sesame tahini cookie and created a list. A list of what I needed to do in order to make it to NYC and what strategy would look like. His words echoed in my head:

 You’re lost little girl 

You’re lost little girl 

You’re lost 

Tell me who 

Are you? 

 I think that you know what to do 

Impossible? Yes, but it’s true 

I think that you know what to do, yeah 

I’m sure that you know what to do

I saw even more of the city then ever before. I moved out of the model apartment (the norm) and discovered the streets and bars and restaurants and people of Istanbul (the freedom) by myself. I wasn’t a lost little girl any more — I was a focused young woman, now with a goal in sight. My local fruit store salesman taught me more about the importance of a joyful life than any Russian model friend ever had. 


+ Check back next week for part four from Eddie, and be sure to read the start of her journey here!  

Photos by Jana Kirn.

Free People Blog

Keeping it Clean with Eddie Mitsou

Keeping it Clean with Eddie Mitsou

Maybe you’ve been considering it… Sobriety may not be for everyone, but it might be right for you?

Let me be the first to say… I love partying! Dancing, hanging out with friends, flirting, coming home at 3am exhausted with my lipstick half gone, LOLing at my Instagram story while peeing and brushing my teeth.

What may separate me from man others is what happens next — I wake up with my makeup perfectly removed, IG stories still intact, with no fear of finding that dreaded embarrassing video. I make myself a green smoothie and I’m on my way to a Pilates class before 9.30 am.

So, why is that?

Because I don’t drink.

The thought of it might scare you.

But…maybe this is something you’ve been considering yourself. Sober partying may not be for everyone – but it might be right for you?

I have many girlfriends who have gone out with me and follow suit – and most of them really like it, usually quite surprised at how easy it can be. AND! how much fun they can actually have without booze flowing through their bodies. Some, as a result, have decided to quit drinking – or at least consume very little – while some continue to go out and get wasted.

And I don’t blame them for that. Everything is a choice — you do what feels best or right in that moment.  However, there is also a fear of simply breaking the norm. You simply stick to what you know and how you’ve been raised to live, courtesy of family, culture (television, movies, magazines) and society.

Several years ago, the idea of sobriety seemed impossible. I struggled with it during my last semester in school. I had just started dating someone in the deep house underground party scene. The only thing my heart wanted was to be tequila-tipsy, kissing him in the darkness of a grungy garage, every night of the week.

But, I had to focus — good grades on my final exams and beyond. There was also the potential to do modeling in Milan,  and my agency asked me to be in perfect shape, which demanded both more hours at the gym and a healthy diet. Despite my new love, my mission had always been to move abroad as soon as I graduated.

But I couldn’t. I really couldn’t give up being boozy. It was so important to me. Drinking was the only way of partying in Stockholm, so maybe that rubbed off on me?  My point is that there wasn’t a time when I could picture a life without alcohol. I was young, but my mom nervously made jokes about me becoming an alcoholic. I had a great opportunity right in front of me, but I wasn’t ready to make the sacrifices to achieve it.

I’m a very strong believer in refraining from judgment or telling people how to live their lives. I would never tell anyone that it’s bad to drink, or that they shouldn’t. No, no, that’s not my vibe. It’s an individual — and personal — choice, and whatever you choose is hopefully right for you. What I do is right for me.

So all I intend by this post is to inspire you. To maybe introduce you to a new or scary path and know there are different ways to go. Follow your own gut, and try to push away the fear of being different.

I didn’t make it to Milan that summer, after all. It took me over eight months to finally leave Stockholm. I wasn’t ready to stop drinking and didn’t fight for my dreams. I ended up in Istanbul, but even there I realized that other paths existed…

Free People Blog

Polaroids from the Edge: Radiant Human Visits FP

Polaroids from the Edge: Radiant Human Visits FP

In need of an aura-l fixation? Radiant Human to the rescue, with their spirit-filled Polaroid portraits…

This week, we were humbled to host the ladies that make up Radiant Human, as part of our ongoing Home Office: How We series. If you have an opportunity to meet them and, better yet, walk away with a forever imprint of your spirit, I highly advise it. Besides, you’ll have a very cool new profile pic to show for it.

Read below for a little Q&A with these lovelies…

For those folks not familiar with Radiant Human, can you share a little about your foray into this cosmic world?

Radiant Human is a traveling project that provides a platform for people to explore the energy they radiate and then take a photograph of it. Good vibes, bad vibes, weird vibes, we’ve all been able to conceptualise this through pop culture and this is the ability to take a picture of it!! I think it’s incredibly fascinating how we can use color as a communication tool and reconceptualize what a selfie can be. This is such an amazing time to be alive!! So many people are ready to explore the energy they put into the world; self exploration, self realization, self actualisation is a big component to this project and it’s so validating to see and hear about everyone’s experiences with this project. I always announce when I go to a new city on my Instagram (@radianthuman_) so if you are at all curious come see me!!

The colors…what, generally, do they mean? Does their placement in the picture have anything to do with it?

Each photo has three sections; everything from the ears up represents conscious thought (and typically these colors change faster than the other areas), whereas the lower left represents your internal dynamic or self, and the lower right represents what you project outward or your persona.

When you get into what the colors mean, that’s where it gets really interesting — a subject very rarely produces just one color, let alone just one hue, so a large part of what I find so interesting is how these colors/hues interact with each other and how this illustrates the complexities of being a human being.

Describe your process.

This project works in several layers. There is the traveling aspect propelled by social media, the dome as an installation and photo studio/space ship, the interactive element of subject to artist and then lastly, the tangible result of all three; a very lovely one of a kind peel away photograph of you and your aura.

After visiting Free People, what would you say about our general aura/spirit?

OMG! I love this question! You know i just started interacting with more corporate environments and it’s really interesting to see what comes out of this. There is so much information here. I mean this is the opportunity to see the individual as well as the group dynamic which is such a fun and endless conversation, especially with people at work!! With the group that I photographed I can see that there was a majority of purple present indicating a lot of inspiration and individual perspective. The second coloration that I saw was a lot of orange, which is very expressive, creative and collaborative. Not a surprise for FP headquarters!!

Your spirit animal is…

When I was 8 years old I found myself swimming alone with a wild manatee and her two calves. I eventually straddled the mother and cruised around with her before my dad called me in for dinner (if there ever was a dad buzz kill that was it). It was a very special interaction and I still can’t believe it happened.

Free People Blog

3 Things To Do Today

3 Things To Do Today

Because Sundays are for rejuvenation… 

To break my Sunday cycle, I started off by telling myself this: You are a beautiful, hard-working, selfless being, and you deserve this time. Treat yourself.

So I did. Three things, every Sunday, for myself. I’m sharing them to give y’all some ideas, and hopefully inspire you to take a day off — completely — and cater to your needs. Follow along with this series if you feel like your “you” time is missing.

Visit your local conservatory.

I love visiting Phipps here in Pittsburgh at least once during the spring. Not only does the clean air provide me with some much-needed cleansing, but the trip always inspires me to  incorporate more nature into my home and lifestyle. Spend time walking around, read the signs, and ask the staff any question that comes to mind. If you don’t live near a conservatory, try a local flower farm! Bringing more nature into this world is important, and learning about it will make you thrive.

Plan your garden.

After the trip, it’s time to get to work. Start planning your garden the season/s ahead — ideal location, what you would like to grow… Take what you learned from the conservatory to make a plan. I’ll be planting a flowerbed in front of my house, hanging an indoor herb garden, and adding two new houseplants to my indoor collection.

Eat fresh.

My end goal? To pick and cook from my herb and vegetable garden this year — on a daily basis. As a vegan, I’m always looking for new foodie ideas with fresh ingredients. The best way to find new recipes? Taste them. Make a trip to that new hip restaurant in town (I went to Apteka — take a look at that menu), with a group of friends to understand how they are mixing fresh ingredients into modern, earth-friendly dishes. I’ll definitely be mimicking a few dishes. Oh, and if they have outdoor seating, opt for that!

I’m challenging you to clear your schedule today and do 3 things for yourself. You work your butt off, and deserve some time for yourself. If you try this out, let me know how it went, and if you feel rested and rejuvenated, let’s keep this up.

+ Follow FP Madisyn on Instagram + take a peek at her blog!

Free People Blog

A Day-to-Night Mantra for Self Worth

A Day-to-Night Mantra for Self Worth

Fighting outside stressors and focusing on what’s really important… 

This post comes from certified Health and Wellness Coach, Nicole Granato.

Sometimes it can be hard to feel our best, both emotionally and physically, as the daily barrage of outside stressors do their best to exhaust us and beg us to question what’s really important. Sometimes we tend to neglect our truth and what sets our hearts on fire, making it difficult to adhere to those daily practices that keep us on level ground and establishing stability in our mind, body and heart. If you can maintain at least one daily task to strengthen yourself and your truth, you will begin to find more balance in dealing with this crazy thing we call life.

Here are some beneficial habits to start incorporating daily… Start by picking just one, and expand from there if you like.


The beginning of a new day, a new start the ability to create our day however you like.

Start the morning with a mantra: “ I am going to make today an amazing day.” “Today is a new start and I am going to make it epic.”

When you wake up, try and refrain from picking up your phone first thing; instead, lay in bed for five minutes with one hand on your stomach and the other on your heart and practice slow breathing.

Throughout the day.

Sometimes we can allow the outside world to affect how we feel about ourselves — our confidence in how we look, our capability of dealing with certain people or situations.

I am a big fan of standing in front of yourself in a mirror and reminding myself of how amazing I am. You can say something like: “I am beautiful and capable of handling anything life throws at me.”

“I am beautiful and worthy of greatness in all areas of my life.”


One of my favorite evening rituals looks like this: taking a bath and performing self care rituals that might include a face mask, body cream, organizing my room, making a cup of tea and allowing myself an hour to do with whatever I need to relax and take care of me. When you really take care of yourself and don’t skimp on the little stuff, it shows in everything you do — how you carry yourself, your own personal confidence and how you allow others to treat you. Feeling beautiful is an inside job and it takes the will to put time aside to care for yourself, no matter how crazy life can get!

Always remember you are beautiful, you are worthy, and you have EVERYTHING to offer to the world. Sometimes the world can be a heavy and hard place in which to exist. We are constantly made to feel like we are never enough or there is always another thing we need to change to feel like we can accept ourself. Ultimately, what it comes down to is…how do you care for yourself? If you neglect yourself, attaining your highest self will be that much harder to achieve.

+ Do you start your day with a mantra? Let us know your practices below! 

Free People Blog

We Heart Earth: Recycle

We Heart Earth: Recycle

Follow the “five R’s” to a better Mother Earth…

In celebration of Earth Day, we will be introduced an “R step” each day this week… shining light on the ways we impact Earth, and how just a few small steps can minimize these effects and help you take a better stance in protecting her.

Today is all about — Recycle!

Fact: About 75% of what you throw away is actually recyclable.

Tip: Do your research — learn what is recyclable and what is not!

No one really wants to see their waste end up in a landfill. Unfortunately, that’s where the majority of our trash ends up. Even after making big strides in recycling, we’re still left with scraps and items that simply cannot be reused or recycled. This Earth Day offers the perfect opportunity to examine your habits and make some changes. Remember that one small change a day can make an enormous difference!


+ We posted easy, simply ways to impact Mother Earth on the daily. Check out all Five R’s and the benefits of going green!

Follow April on Instagram.

Photo by Maisy Weiss.

Free People Blog

We Heart Earth: Repurpose

We Heart Earth: Repurpose

Follow the “five R’s” to a better Mother Earth…

In celebration of Earth Day, we will be introducing an “R step” each day this week through Friday… shining light on the ways we impact Earth, and how just a few small steps can minimize these effects and help you take a better stance in protecting her.

Today is all about — Repurpose!

Fact: For every six tons of glass we repurpose, one ton of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.

Tip: Give an old jar new purpose. Turn jars into new planters or use for lunch on go!

I love to repurpose and am always trying to find ways to reuse items instead of tossing them away. One of my favorites is repurposing glass jars of all shapes and sizes! Not only is it great for Mother Earth and cuts down on carbon dioxide, it keeps your kitchen organized. Repurpose to hold your nuts and grains, coins for your next adventure or use as go-to container that is good for the environment! We can repurpose on the daily from turning our paper shopping bags into wrapping paper, paint cans into hanging planters, jars into vases. Truly, the list is endless. Think twice before you throw something away and, instead, ask yourself how to repurpose instead of throwing it in the trash!






+ Check back tomorrow for our tip in the Five R’s series! 

Follow April on Instagram.

Photo by Maisy Weiss.

Free People Blog

We Heart Earth: Reuse

We Heart Earth: Reuse

Follow the “five R’s” to a better Mother Earth…

In celebration of Earth Day, we will be introducing an “R step” each day this week through Friday… shining light on the ways we impact Earth, and how just a few small steps can minimize these effects and help you take a better stance in protecting her.

Today is all about — Reuse!

Fact: Every year, about 20 million trees are cut down to make paper cups.

Tip: Skip the paper cup and bring your own reusable mug!

The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year. Each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions… that is 120 pounds of CO2 emissions per average American, per year!! By reusing, we can can easily cut down on our CO2 emissions, providing cleaner air for all and saving our scared trees which are home to hundreds of species. Keep a mug at your desk and in your car so you are always prepared!


Have tips on how to reuse yourself? Let us know in the comments below, lets go green together…

+ Check back each day this week to learn more about the Five R’s, and the benefits of going green!

Follow April on Instagram.

Photo by Maisy Weiss.

Free People Blog