fear based living

journaling You might already know that when I was little, I used to write list after list in my journals; I would identify places I hoped to travel  (Africa, India, and Paris always made the top three) and about who I aspired to be. I wrote down traits that I wanted to work on and characteristics I was proud of.  I made lists of books to read, people I admired, and goals for the year.

 I can remember envisioning larger than life successes and thoughts about all of the possibilities that could exist within a single lifetime.  There were so many opportunities and paths to take, and I knew early on that I wanted to make a contribution to this world.   I have had this belief within me from as long as I can remember that I am here to do amazing things.  And I don’t mean that in a grandiose or egotistical sort of way; in my heart of hearts, I really believe that we are all here to do amazing things. We each have something inside of us that only we can offer, that only we can create, and that only we can see.  And sometimes we forget about that little magic spark that exists within us all.

 

As I’ve gotten older, I can more clearly see that life often gets in the way of where we thought we were going.  We get trapped into comfort zones through security, stability, and even false senses of security.  We get accustomed to our routines and the exchange of money for our time.  We start making decisions based on our fears rather than through the depths of our souls.  The reality of finances, obligations, debt, children, and unanticipated expenses start acting as road blocks and detours to our paths, and justifiably so.  We all make decisions and sacrifices based on our current situation and we are all always just trying to do the best that we can.  To be clear, there is nothing wrong with comfort, stability, or routine, it can in fact be everything we have wished for.  I’ve just been reflecting on how these perceived comforts convince me to play small.  I’m noticing the way in which fear of failure, risk, making mistakes, and the unknown keeps me in my routine, even when I feel called to take leaps and carve out new paths.  I’m noticing all of the choices I’ve been making based on fear.

 

 

Somewhere along the way, I stopped making the lists.  I started writing about challenges, relationships, and my thoughts and feelings.  It wasn’t that the dreams stopped existing, it was that other things began to take my focus– life started to happen. But over the last year, I’ve also started to truly recognize that we only grow older and time slips away, and pretty soon we have journals filled with frustrations and wonderings, and lists of unlived dreams.

 

What I’m opening up to is re-writing my vision on notebook paper, on exploring all of the possibilities, of not limiting myself based on an attachment to a plan.  I’m working on giving myself permission to change my mind, to be a beginner, and to challenge my comfort zones so that I can continue to evolve and grow.

And because I am a planner and an over-thinker, I’m slowly inching my way back to the confidence in taking risks.  What’s important in my heart today is the knowing that when I can step away from the worry, fear, and unease, I can recognize that the unknown, the risks, and the possibilities are a beautiful place to be.

 

 

 

on staying

movingIf you know me at all, you know how much I love Oklahoma.  So I was just as surprised as anybody when we packed our life collections into boxes and moved to Utah.  Although I’ve lived in five different states and enjoy the adventure of exploring new places, I had a really difficult transition this past year.  The thing about moving to a new city where you hardly know anyone is that you get to spend time getting to know yourself and expanding your limits. There has been a lot of journaling, a few tears, and months of interoception, or looking within.

Sometimes leaving means saying goodbye to all of the things that are good in exchange for situations that are hard.  And sometimes leaving means letting go of your anchors in exchange for the sea.  Perhaps it’s the staying in a place you’ve outgrown that’s hardest, or maybe for you, the difficulty lies in letting go of your comfort and routine.  At different times and in different places, moving has meant has all of these things to me.  And this time, arriving here has been a new lesson in navigating discomfort, of staying even when things get hard, and re-learning that situations are as beautiful as you make them out to be.

What I know about staying- whether that be in a location, relationship, job, or even belief- is that we can find our comfort here.   That if we are lucky, we have strong support systems and beautiful relationships that bring us fulfillment and keep us tied to where we are.  Staying might mean working at a place that fuels your creativity, engaging in activities that fill your life’s purpose, or in developing a routine that is nourishing to your soul.  Staying can be as equally beautiful and transformative as we make moving on to be.  And in all the ways that staying can be wondrous, remaining in places, situations, and relationships that are no longer meant for you can also be difficult, limiting, and contracting.  Sometimes staying is a choice we make not because it’s best for us, but because we doubt our abilities to adapt to what might come next.

And when it comes to leaving, what i know is that change can be overwhelming.  All of a sudden, our fears begin to sneak in and make us question whether or not we’ve made the right choice.  Moving, letting go, or changing your direction often creates uncertainty about our ability to belong, to navigate our way, and to redirect our path.   I think we leave places with the expectation to grow, change, evolve, and accomplish great things, and maybe we go to new places and do just that.  But you might also crumble, fail, or change your mind.  You might find  the very thing you were running from is waiting for you at your next stop.

I don’t necessarily think either option- staying, leaving, letting go, remaining, – is better than the other. There’s not one option that is right and another that is wrong; there are only life experiences that show us more about ourselves, teach us lessons, and land upon our plate of experiences in ways only meant for us.  I’ve learned that we can only learn from what we are willing to open to- and that might mean in your hometown or across the country in a place foreign to you.

For me, moving here was a lesson in being my own friend which meant learning about my limiting beliefs and habitual thought patterning.  In the same way you get to know a friend, I started looking within my own heart; I hadn’t done that in a while.  I spent some time touring my internal landscape and uncovered thoughts patterns that based my worth on a sense of accomplishment and level of confidence on external approval.  Spending more time alone helped me to get clear about the types of relationships I would like to have supporting me, as well as the ones that tend to drain my energy and make me feel inadequate.

In moving, I found that I had a lot more time to fill up and so I reconnected to the things I am passionate about and wanted to improve upon.  I attended yoga workshops alone and invited strangers out to coffee.  I looked people in the face and smiled, I started conversations. I created a sense of community by doing the things that made me feel most alive and said yes to opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone. And in the midst of trying to build relationships with others, I also dove into the uncertainty of being alone and dedicated days to spending time with myself.  I shifted my perspective a lot and spent reframing difficult situations as opportunities and lessons.

If you find yourself in a situation with each option contrasting itself against the other, I hope you know that regardless of where you go, you’ll take yourself with you. That if you can find comfort in who you are, wherever you go will be beautiful. And that if you can be accepting of all of yourself, you’ll be able to be gentle when you stumble and forgiving when you fall.  You’ll be able to reach out to meet new people even if you are unsure.  And whether you stay or go, you’ll be okay.

You’ll land exactly where you need to.

And then you’ll fly.

p.s.  If you are interested in following my thoughts, movements, wanderings, and daily inspiration, you can find me on instagram! @todaywasmeaningfulblog

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p.p.s.s.  thanks for being here, it means a lot to me.

like someone you love.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset I’ve been doing this thing lately where I ask “how can I best take care of myself in this moment?” and then I pause long enough to hear the answer. The thing about our hearts, is that they know. This year I’ve placed a high priority on taking care of myself and am constantly reorganizing my commitments and schedule to find balance.  It’s not a fixed point you know, taking care of yourself and juggling all of the commitments that life requires of us.  My philosophy about self-care and self-love is that you can’t show up fully to the present moment and to the people that you love when you don’t feel whole.

On the surface, self-care can include practices like receiving adequate sleep, spending time in nature, practicing yoga, getting a massage, taking a long bath, or engaging in supportive eating habits.  These kinds of activities nourish ourselves and help to restore our hearts and minds; they take care of our most basic needs.  And we can practice all of these things and still find ourselves feeling internally restless, uneasy, uninspired, harsh, inadequate, anxious, sad, or unkind.  Beyond all of the self-care rituals we can tend to is perhaps a greater, more gentle, and necessary way of being with ourselves.

This year, I started with the practices. I went to yoga almost every day and spent a lot of time outside with my feet in a stream.  I collected rocks, slept under the stars, and journaled regularly.  I said ‘no’ to things when I was tired and gave myself plenty of permission to rest. But the real work and internal shifts came by getting to know myself deeply enough to identify underlying core beliefs about my worth and how achievements and accomplishments fueled the reaching for feelings of ‘enough.’  The self-love came when I allowed myself to be imperfect after making a mistake, or when I showered myself in kindness after making the wrong choice.  The deep self-love came when I interrupted a habitual thought patterning of shame and negative self-talk and stopped myself from continually replaying out situations in my mind, of living in the past.

Our society talks a lot about self-love and self-care, especially these days.  But there are still so many people feeling lonely, disappointed, and not okay.  I think it’s partly because we have mixed up the intention of doing self-care practices with the intention of being someone who cares about themself. Self-love and self-care are not about excusing your behaviors or giving yourself permission to over-indulge or over-consume, they are about moments when you choose to hold space for the human being that you are.  Self-love is about becoming familiar with the thoughts that pass through our minds everyday and learning that we are not our thoughts and we are not our feelings.    The practice is in acknowledging the way you are unfolding and blooming to the present moment, no matter how messy or scary that might be. Its requires active and continual effort to honor your existence, tune in, listen, and then make a choice based on what it is you need.

 

I invite you to begin treating yourself the same way you would treat someone you dearly love.  It can get messy because it might ask us to uncover some truths about our self-worth, feelings of value, and ability to set boundaries with time, people, and our resources.  It might stir up feelings of regret, anger, shame, or dissatisfaction.  And all of that is okay; we can allow ourselves to feel the way we feel without having to act or changing anything.  That is self-love.

 

 

I offer you ultimate permission to unequivocally be yourself.  To feel bad and still be okay, to be imperfect and still enough.  To be a work in progress and still a brilliant masterpiece.  I encourage you to take as much time as you need, to move slowly,  and to work on only one thing at a time.  I invite you to learn about where you hurt and why, and to set an intention to send the love there.  Connect to what inspires you and chase those little sparks of magic.  Be gentle with your current self, the person you once were, and the person that you are becoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

be brave enough to love yourself more than you think you deserve.

and then a little more.

on vulnerability.

everything is full.

I’ve sat in a lot of circles this year; hands at my heart, eyes gently closed, feet pressing upon a hardwood floor. We always start off as strangers who come together in vulnerability, and end up as friends.

Last weekend I recognized that somewhere along the way, we’ve learned that it’s dangerous to be vulnerable, that we shouldn’t risk being seen.  Our voices have been quieted in many ways throughout our lives, and somewhere, we’ve learned to keep our pains silent and to suffer quietly in the secrecy of our hearts.  We’ve internalized messages that we are supposed to show up as nicely wrapped packages, organized, happy, and unflawed. We believe we’re supposed to experience life so effortlessly that we feel discouraged when things get hard.

We might have lived lifetimes of saying we are fine when actually, we feel lonely.  When we are actually scared, deeply unhappy, tired, anxious, or hurt.  We mask ourselves in busy-ness, numbing, perfectionism, over/under-eating, alcohol, and drugs.  And we wear cloaks of perfection or indifference to replace our deep rooted fears of being negatively judged, falling short, or feeling inadequate. We harm ourselves through the voice of our inner critic or avoid trying because of the risk of failure. We might resist vulnerability out of fear of what would happen if we opened up.

And while vulnerability can mean many things for different people, for me, it is about uncertainty, risk, and exposing the truest parts of ourselves.  Vulnerability is about our ability to sit with discomfort, name it, and grow in it. It’s about being seen for who we are, especially when it’s hard and when we feel like we are crumbling; especially when it feels like no one could understand.  And I believe this matters because when we close ourselves off to this emotional risk, we start to feel alone.  We feel like something is wrong with us; we feel inadequate, broken, disconnected, and not enough.

 

 

 

 

I think that if you sit on the floor with someone and listen as they talk about what they most fear, how badly it hurt to lose someone they loved, and how difficult it can be to live in their body and mind; we would begin to realize we are all the same.  We hurt in the same ways and seek the same sense of connection, approval, and belonging from others; the similarities in our hearts are greater than the differences that divide us.  And the more people I sit with, the more I realize that the cracks in our hearts are the areas in which we can allow more love in.

This is your gentle reminder that we don’t have to do any of this alone; that we all have a need to feel connected to and nurtured by others.  And what I know is that our relationships and connections to one another help us to stay anchored to the shore when the waves are raging inside and trying to tear us away.  I invite you to give yourself permission to be messy, to be a work of art, to change your mind, and to speak your heart.  I encourage you to make mistakes and learn from them.  To rest when things get hard.  And please know that you can speak your truth and still be scared.  You can feel alone and not know what to do with it; you can be sad and tired, and still okay.  You can be not okay while still holding on.  I invite you to open up to how you feel and honor who you are; mistakes, unknowns, insecurities and all.

 

 

 

 

 

and if there is no one in your circle yet, I would be happy to sit there with you.

we can start off as strangers and end up as friends.

a point in time.

Last weekend was the “Point-In-Time Count (PIT)”- a national measure that takes place every January where a community attempts to capture the number of people who are literally homeless or sleeping in a shelter.  This snapshot of homelessness meets a funding requirement for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and the data is used to track progress on addressing homelessness, increase local and national awareness, inform policy makers, and attract resources to address homelessness.  It was a Thursday through Sunday of waking up at 3:00am to walk the streets, under bridges, and near loading docks.  Some people went up near the mountains, and others in parks.  The places we visited were hidden and not meant for human habitation, perhaps invisible to your eye if you haven’t been looking.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the experience and even more time thinking about the people I encountered.  I can’t tell you the depth of their stories and I can’t tell you about their experiences, hopes, fears, and goals, because our interactions were brief and it’s likely that I wouldn’t be able to fully understand, even if we had had all day.  But I can tell you what I saw, what I heard, and how I felt.  I can tell you how it made me reflect and how this experience informs my interactions with people I do not know.  I can tell you about the fire that is inside my heart, and how important it is to not make generalizations about people you do not know.  And I’ll tell you these things with the hopes that perhaps it will offer you a new perspective, an opening in your heart to fill with compassion, or a call to act. I’ll share these words with you in hopes that you’ll be curious and not-judgmental; compassionate rather than condemning.

It was so cold that I had on two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, two pairs of gloves, five long sleeve shirts, a hat and a jacket.  There was snow on the ground and I was acutely aware that I had gloves and all these layers on and the people we met did not. I was aware of the luxury I had to  buy waterproof snow-boots and the time limited nature of my role in the count. I knew that I would return home to a warm apartment, they would not.  I want you to know that there are places where people sleep that many of  us could not even imagine. I cannot forget how cold I was, nor the knowing of how cold they were too.

None of the people we encountered between 4am and 6am were sleeping; they all appeared to be tired, but it was much too cold.  We met a person laying on a loading dock,  his eyes greeted us over the top of his sleeping bag; he was more vigilant and alert than he was asleep.  We talked to a person under an overpass, huddled between two trash cans with bags of personal belongings laid out in front of him.  I saw that we were both shivering, both cold, and we laughed together over the same joke.  We met another person under a light-post, he explained that he was eager to complete the VI-SPDAT so that he could practice his ‘people skills’ and later asked us for feedback on how he was doing.  He said it was nice to have someone to talk to.  Another person explained that they were formerly homeless and showed more passion than some of the people in the room.

We walked down a dirt road, sideway stepped down a hill, and walked behind a graffitied building.  There was a pile of wood, empty cups, trash, boxes, papers, and a blue tarp piled up to make a home.  An overturned bucket held up the entrance; we only heard his voice and only saw his hands.  He told us several stories that did not seem to be based in reality, and his voice was sweet, his words welcoming.  He had no mailbox and no socks. He lives in a hidden place. I saw a person I knew, shivering on the snow covered cement, supported by the side of a building and his groceries thrown about.  He was outside for over nine hours in the freezing cold because he had fallen and missed the last bus.  A lot of people passed by, but no one had stopped.  I noticed that his lips were pale, his body shaking.

We met a 32 year old laying on a tarp with only a yellow blanket covering his body.   Empty boxes of hand-warmers surrounded him and his shoes were wet. He was under a tree and we heard him crying out in pain.  His toes were raw and blistered; the nurse said his feet were frostbitten and that putting socks on would be too painful.  He spoke only of his severe anxiety  and kept his body under the blanket, partly for warmth, and partly because he said he felt too overwhelmed.  He wouldn’t go to the hospital.

 

We didn’t end up ‘counting’ or assessing as many people as I expected; not because they weren’t there, but because somehow asking questions didn’t seem as important as addressing people’s more emergent medical needs and immediate suffering.  I drove home with tears in my eyes, angry and cold, but with fire burning inside.  I’m still trying to put together the words to describe this point in time.  My thoughts, like many of the sentences in this post, are incomplete.  What I saw was suffering and unshakeable resilience.  I saw people surviving in a way that I had never seen before.

 

I tell you these stories because human suffering is not something we remember only when it is convenient for us.  It is not something we fix with a simple solution or ignore because of an incomplete judgement.  Mental illness, addiction, complex trauma, and homelessness are real.  And they hurt.  It can be isolating.  And they do not fully represent who a person is.

 

What I know most is our shared humanity.  This deep sense that my life is not worth more nor more important than another human being.  I ask you to recognize the actual experience of someone in your community, and I ask you to make room in your heart to love someone that you do not know.  As divisions becoming increasingly cemented, we must continue to make bridges between our hearts.  For me, this is not about politics.  This is about people.

 

Find your mission.  Find your human, your cause, and your fight.  Do not be quieted by systems, policies, or judgements.

We were given voices. minds. and hearts.

 

Act.