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.

oceans and mountains.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOut of all the things there are to love in this world, people are my favorite.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of the hearts I am connected to and how grateful I am to have so many pieces of people’s lives intertwined with my story.  Like the man from Budapest who told me about his daughter’s dreams while in Paris or the father I hugged when he got his son back.  I think about the chance encounters that became my greatest friendships; your desk being placed next to mine because you were shy and I was not.  I think about you crossing oceans and me moving to the mountains and both of us sitting next to each other on a hardwood floor in a circle, hands on our hearts. I think about all of us applying at the same restaurant as we made our way through college and dancing the night away eight years later on my wedding day. My heart thinks about you, all of the people that have read my words and then became my real life friends.

My heart overflows with gratitude when I consider the details that occurred in order for our lives to touch, the miles and miles we each spent walking the earth that resulted in your footprints making their way to my path.  I’ll always believe that people show up right when we need them, to help us grow, to open us up to the possibilities, to carry a message, or to hold our hand in comfort after a particularly stormy chapter.  I think about the people I’ve come to know who live their lives in the boldest, most beautiful, and magnificent ways.  The people who teach you to be soft, who show you how to be honest and vulnerable, the ones who dare to change their paths to answer to their life’s calling.  And I think about all of the people I do not know and all of the hearts that are beating just like mine.  I think about entire populations of people that many of us know nothing about, who do courageous things and suffer in ways we cannot possibly understand. I think about all of the people sewing beautiful seeds into their corners of the world, who leave roots for things to grow in every place they touch.  I imagine picking a flower they once planted or sitting underneath the shade of the tree they helped to grow.

 

With my blankets astray and snowflakes falling from the sky from my third floor apartment, I think about the ways in which we enter people’s lives. The ways our own feet lead us into another person’s story and create lasting change.  We can show up in the world in big and small ways,  like the way we carry ourselves, greet a stranger, or stand in a check-out line.  We show up in the ways we use our talents to benefit another person, pursue our passions with every fiber of our being, and how we make a person feel about themselves.  We choose the way we treat the people we love and the people we do not know.  We can be soft while showing up strong, we can withdraw judgement and seek to connect, to extend a hand.  We can help people to see the magic that they are.

I think about my yoga teachers, who without words, showed me how I want to be present in other people’s lives.  In the last four months I’ve learned about the gift we offer to people we meet and the people we love when we are present and kind.  I’ve learned that the more compassionate and gentle we can be with ourselves, the more compassion we can show towards others.  I’ve learned how valuable it is to see each person as a whole, to take note of their heart, and to make room for someone to be just as they are.  I was able to transform in beautiful ways because my experiences, challenges, and strengths were not only validated and seen, but celebrated and encouraged.  I developed as a person because my heart was nurtured, my words were listened to, and my vulnerability was met with sweetness and love.

 

When it comes to loving people, here is what I know:

  • Powerful things happen when we allow people to be who they are instead of who we want them to be.
  • People transform with compassion, not shame.
  • When we nurture another human being, we create an opportunity for healing, softening, and growth.
  • We have the power to impact someone’s life in just one conversation, evening, or experience.
  • I believe when we show up authentically and vulnerably we encourage others to do the same.
  • We can stop trying to fix people and focus on loving them instead.

 

 

 

 

and so I thank you, for being who you are and showing up in the way that you did.

in big ways and small ways.

I needed you.

because we change

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Think about all of the transitions you’ve been through during this season of your life.  Maybe you’ve began to raise a beautiful human being that exists with an infinite amount of possibilities or  became a beginner again as a new college student.  Perhaps you’ve had to navigate this portion of your life without the comfort of a hand you’ve previously held, tiptoeing  atop the earth knowing that a part of your soul is in the sky.  I like to think that parts of our selves,  like leaves, fall to the ground during autumn too.  And perhaps the only thing we will ever come to know is that it all changes; the leaves, the weather, our existence.

 

I moved to a new state four months ago and said goodbye to some of my hearts greatest treasures.  I left a job I loved and became surrounded by new people, the mountains, and a different culture.  I became a stranger in a city I once somewhat knew, lost again amongst all of the streets and forever trying to find my way.  There’s nothing like change in the literal and figurative weather to stir things up inside, creating room for us to reflect, grow, and heal.

I like to think of our individual cracks-  the hurts, disappointments, setbacks, heartbreaks, failures, traumas, and losses- as the same veins that characterize our favorite marigold yellow, burnt orange, and red leaves.  For the leaf, these veins carry vital nutrients; for us, the life lessons, experiences, and unknowns meant only for our hearts. I believe that some of our most beautiful lessons can be our most painful experiences, if only we might be able to find the meaning deep within ourselves.  Within each crack is the ability to be transformed and soothed. I am not suggesting that we forget, but am gently offering that we don’t have to hold on to everything.  I believe we find the strength in our healing.   The trees teach us that we must learn to let go, that we can find sweetness in the fall.  My sweet friend, we can be shattered and still rooted to the ground.

 

During this transitional period of your life, what would you like to let fall to the earth? We can let go of people that are no longer parts of our stories, experiences that only remind of us of pain.  We can let go of the beliefs we’ve held on to about ourselves that feel real but are not true.  We can let go of expectations about we are supposed to be be, knowing that we don’t have to be everything for everyone.   We can let go of the messages we’ve created or received about our worth and allow old behaviors to fall away, making room for something new.

We can offer ourselves more time, sunlight, or compassion.  We can be good to ourselves so that one day, we will open our eyes and find that everything is covered in light again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my dear friend, our favorite season of fall only exists because things change.

you’ve transformed in beautiful and difficult ways; this is your gentle reminder that we can do hard things.

 

on the choices we make

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We each have moments in our lives where we wished we had chosen differently or are unsure of how to proceed.   For me, these moments exist in the mean spirited action I participated in as a junior in college or holding on to relationships that were not meant for me;  in times when thoughtless words were spoken in moments of frustration and in gestures of unkindness to the people that I love.  We get so busy, tired, and hyper-focused on our problems that we act out of habit or automaticity and engage in actions before recognizing our choice.  If we stopped for a moment, we might observe our tendency to make decisions based on the way we feel and the incessant thoughts running through our minds rather than from the place in our hearts that are the truest expression of who we are.

Maybe for you, that moment existed today, yesterday, or last year. Or maybe it hasn’t happened yet; perhaps it’s a decision you are contemplating but have not decided on, a fork in the road between the person you are capable of being and a decision that is easy, convenient, or safe.

This is a simple reminder that our lives are characterized by actions; that every single action or inaction made is the result of a choice.   And all of these choices bear fruit; they have consequences, slowly shape the story of our lives, and plant seeds that will eventually take root. Take a moment and think about the hundreds of small choices wrapped up in all the minutes of the day… when you choose to go to sleep, who lays beside you, and whether or not you push the snooze button in the morning.  There are choices in whether you wake up to a moment of gratitude or three cups of coffee, extra sugar.  Choices exist in the words we speak, how we express our emotions, and the kinds of people we allow into our lives.  The people we let stay and the people we let go.  We have choices in what we consume, how we feel, and the way we move our bodies. Choices in the purchases we make, the money we do or do not save, the activities we engage in, and the information we take in through the brightly lit screens on our telephones, computers, televisions, and games.  Decisions also exist in what we choose not to do, like not finishing the degree, not quitting the job, or establishing healthy boundaries for ourselves.  You can decide to quiet your voice or shout from the top of your lungs, to pause, or to constantly move from one place of busyness to the next.  Maybe you routinely make the decision to treat yourself with less love and kindness than you deserve.

This is my encouragement to choose to respond to whatever challenge you are facing with your highest self.  With the part of you that can look beyond the immediate situation and shift to a larger perspective.  This is a reminder that we can choose to show up in every situation with the parts of ourselves that are calm, compassionate, honest, wise, and healthy.  And on some days and in some moments you might be able to rationalize your actions even when the deepest part of yourself knows you are wrong.  Maybe you’re frustrated and justified in your anger, but you still have the choice to let go of that hurt.  You still have the choice to move on, to accept what is, and to forgive.  You can take a step in the direction of your goals despite how difficult the journey may be, and no matter how unmotivated you feel; this is a gentle reminder that changes happen in our lives only when we choose to make them.

You’ll encounter situations that break your heart and still you can choose to put the pieces back together, to heal, to love deeply, and trust again.  You’ll meet people who are hurtful and unkind and you can still offer them grace and the light that you are.   And when you can’t offer that, perhaps make the decision to not act.  Your choice is in the inaction, in the pause. You may find situations that challenge you, and you can choose to try, to learn, and to grow.

 

When we choose to act in congruence with the best version of ourselves- with the light and loving kindness that exists within all of us- we slowly start to become all that we already are.

we exist in the depth of our choices.

 

 

the ‘what if’ game

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i have this belief that within all of us is untapped potential.

 

and because i am a characteristically anxious person, i find that i’m constantly playing the what if game.  and if you know this game, you know that the background conversation playing in your mind goes something like “what if they don’t like me? what if i’m not good enough?  what if i don’t get the job?  what if i don’t pass the test?  what if i never get married? what if it doesn’t work out? what if the worst case scenario happens? what if i’m not a good enough parent.friend.person.employee.student.writer.artist? what if i fail?”

if you know yourself or are in the process of getting to know yourself, you might find the what if game comes from a place of insecurity or a belief that we are not enough… and if it doesn’t consciously start from that place it often takes us there. and for me, this kind of thinking is always about working against myself.  i don’t always realize it, but somehow insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, and anxiety start surfacing. when i engage myself in this way, i encourage negative thoughts, energy, emotions, and worry by creating worst case-scenarios, catastrophizing events, and imagining all the ways in which something will fall apart.  and usually my what if games lead to believing that the challenges ahead of me are more difficult than my ability to master them- that the challenge surpasses my capabilities. we sell ourselves short in this incessant stream of thinking and believing that we are less capable than we truly are.

 

i’m trying to play a different what if game with myself; one that encourages thinking about possibilities rather than limitations. one that fosters imagination, breaks down walls, and involves expanding ourselves to be more than we have ever considered. this what if game is about believing in ourselves, it’s about coming from a place where we are enough. this game is about knowing that we can do the work and that we can get to that place within ourselves and in the world that we never thought we’d see. this reverse kind of thinking acknowledges that we have the ability to grow, to develop, and to improve. its about creativity, experimenting, and playfulness.  it’s about imagining all of the possibilities. and knowing that they are out there for us to grasp.

 

and so here’s mine:

  • what if i devoted this year to working on my goals in a way i have not done before?
  • what if i woke up every morning and set an intention for the day?
  • what if i stayed focused on each intention and worked diligently on my goals until i accomplished them all?
  • what if i was consistent in my efforts?
  • what if i slowed down and stopped frequently to breathe?
  • what if i acknowledged that i have enough time?
  • what if i stopped listening to negative self-talk?
  • what if i softened into my efforts?
  • what if i tried harder each time that i failed?
  • what if i gave myself permission to fail?
  • what if i each action and behavior was chosen from love?
  • what if i spent less time on my cell phone and more time investing in my relationships? in myself? in my community?
  • what if i wrote every day?
  • what if i expanded my mind every day?
  • what if i took risks?  what if i got uncomfortable?
  • what if i started today? right now?
  •      what if i was limitless?

 

do you feel the difference?

when we open ourselves up to the possibilities we begin to pave the pathway for our goals to unfold.  train your mind to look within yourself in a new way, and train your inner voice to build you up to your capabilities instead of breaking you apart through your insecurities.

 

i have this belief that it is our responsibility and gift to use ourselves up.  to grow into our weaknesses and to give to the world the talents that are within each of us that only we as individuals have.  i have this belief that we are all incredible.  that if we sat down and took the time to look within ourselves, to get to know ourselves, and committed to the process of achieving our heart’s purpose, that we would astound ourselves and one another in what we could accomplish.

 

i have this belief that the world would become even more beautiful.