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.

 

 

 

how you love yourself.

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we carry collected pain from so many moments. like the time during high school when you were first made fun of or when you didn’t get a high enough score to be placed in advanced classes. maybe you lost yourself in the transition to adulthood, parenthood, or somewhere else along the way.  or perhaps you are experiencing pain from the present moment as life is unfolding in a way that is different from what you had planned. we all have these moments. some we continue to know because the wounds remain scabbed, fresh, and open; others are faint scars that have healed over the years. and i believe that like the outside of our bodies that serve as life maps covered with scars from a fishing trip, the first fall on a bike, or stretch-marks after a growth spurt or having your first child; the inside of our bodies carry memories of the experiences we have endured and the emotions we have attached to these moments.

 

we hold on to the words that hurt us and the disappointments we experienced when the outcome didn’t match our expectations.  some people might carry pain, discomfort, insecurities and challenging emotions that come from enduring significant trauma in their life. others might carry the heaviness that accompanies feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, loneliness, or a lost sense of purpose.  perhaps you are familiar with the sting of shame that presents itself in a wave of heat that takes over your body or knots in your stomach from feeling unworthy or never enough. and we all carry the pain from the heartache of lost love- whether that loss be from an imagined life dream, intimate relationship, friendship, goal, pet, or family member.  our bodies store the emotions we experience and our minds collect all of the words that we consciously or unconsciously think. the sum of all of these experiences equate into who we are in this moment.

and sometimes the present moment is messy.  sometimes we have mascara running down our face or we push back tears of frustration that we’ve been fighting with for far too long.   and while the present moment can feel like too much to endure, endless, or unbearable, we often feel forced to pull it all together with a smile on our face because showing up honestly and openly feels too revealing and uncomfortable. so we show up in altered versions of ourselves and we act in ways that we do not fully understand; perhaps through increased alcohol consumption, restrictive eating habits, self-harming behaviors, or spending time with people who only pull you farther from your goals.  we cover up insecurities through mistaken gestures of love or lose ourselves in misguided attempts to find happiness through busyness, people pleasing, productivity, or materialism. we search for reassurance, validation, and self-worth through other people’s approval, the numbers on a scale, or they way our clothes fit us. and still, something remains missing.

 

 

 

whether it be in large or small ways, these little bits of darkness that accumulate along the way begin to cloud our hearts and chip away at our self-worth, self-love, and inner light.

 

 

 

but the truth is, the world needs your brightness.

you need your brightness.

 

i know this because i know what it feels like when we go dim.  our insides start to feel like a deserted, musty old attic room that aches for a little sunlight and fresh air. you start closing doors and boxing yourself in. you begin to feel like you’re living in a way that’s smaller than you actually are. maybe you’ve heard the little whisper in your heart or ringing softly in your ears  reminding you that you are so much more than the present moment.  that your life, your deepest radiance, is one of greatness and eternal love.

and if any of this holds true for you, you haven’t lost who you are, you’re just finding your way. 

there is a deep calling to self-love within each of us, if only we would get quiet enough to listen, patient enough to try, and enduring enough to persevere. self-love is a fluid process that ebb and flows and because it is ever changing, it’s something we must work on daily.  if you aren’t familiar with the shift from inner criticism to celebrating your worth, there are many ways to start:


 


 

 

1.. you can start by honoring who and where you are.  begin to learn about the messages you  tell yourself and gently consider where it is you find your worth- perhaps it comes from the attention you receive from the people around you, in your productivity, accomplishments, or ability to please others. get curious about your sadness, internal pressures, or constant worrying and perfectionism.  maybe it is about making a decision to stop allowing your past to dictate your future while still honoring where it is you come from.  you can start by allowing yourself to be exactly who you are in this moment without calling for a need to change or be anything different than you are.  and begin to know that who you are is enough and that you have everything within you to become everything you aspire to be.

 

2..  you get curious about who you are and who you pretend to be in order to meet other people’s expectations. you start observing the comparisons you make or the put-downs you mutter about yourself or others.  you watch your unkind judgments and assumptions of strangers and recognize that your perception of others is often a reflection of yourself and the way you are feeling.  and during this process, you give yourself permission to gently exit people from your life and make peace with the fact that some relationships and people are not meant for you. you recognize that perhaps inner growth will take place in the letting go, the moving on.   it means you lean into the guilt you experience when saying no to others so that you can start to say yes to yourself.

 

3. you improve yourself through kindness.  kindness towards your body and love to your soul.  self-love is a practice that includes the way you view yourself when you look into the mirror, the way you talk to yourself in the secrecy of your mind, and the way you nourish yourself throughout your days.  the movement towards self love is showing yourself the same compassion, understanding, and kindness that you would treat your dearest friend. its a process of  forgiving flaws and owning up to mistakes. so maybe you are kind to yourself by taking a nap in the middle of a sunday afternoon when the sun is shining into your window just right even though you have a million other things that need to be done.  or for you, it might be about increasing your awareness of the background noise of anxiety that attempts to drown out your sense of enjoyment and play.  it’s recognizing that you are worthy and deserving of the happiness that comes your way and not allowing your mind to rob you of the joy, gratitude, and contentment of the present moment out of fear of future what-if’s, anxieties, and catastrophes.

 

4.  you practice things that bring you joy, calmness, and energy. you start listening to the quiet inner voice that knows your heart and the sweetness that you need.  maybe you need a day full of pajamas and blankets or an afternoon of laughter with friends.  you begin prioritizing your well-being and understand that you’re most capable of offering the purest love to others when you develop that same love for yourself. i journal. drink tea. read. exercise. i practice yoga and meditate, and sometimes i eat five chewy chocolate chip cookies in a row.  i honor my need for personal time and get curious about times when i feel anxious, incompetent, or upset.  i share my insecurities and ease in to vulnerability.  and when you practice self-love you become selective of the way you spend and give of your time.  you stop collecting other people’s negativity and make a decision to be soft and patient with yourself.

 

5.  you allow yourself to heal.  and healing can be uncomfortable. our individual experiences of healing will take different paths and different amounts of time, and all of it is necessary for our journey.  you welcome the raw and truthful expression of emotion and you promise to be gentle with yourself as you grow. there is no time limit on healing and you allow yourself to take as long you need.  it will be a long and windy road filled with detours of disappointments or a return to old behaviors, but you continue to try.  sometimes self-love is about allowing yourself to face your sadness, to speak your hurts, and to sit with your feelings.  sometimes self-love is recognizing all that you have endured.  its looking for those little glimmers of hope that present themselves to us in the darkest of moments.

 

so i support you to grow in love towards yourself.  i challenge you to ask yourself where it is that you hurt and why.  talk if you need to or write if the words flow more easily that way.  and if the tears come, let them.  i encourage you to be a little more gentle, patient, and accepting of your best effort as you try.

 

 

you are wonderful and capable and kind.

and you are deserving of your love.

 

 

 

 

a year’s reflection

 

 

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2015 was a good year.

 

i spent the year engaged to the most wonderful human being on earth and i got to wake up every morning to go to a job that i love.  i ran my first half-marathon, passed my licensure exam, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of planning our wedding. i went for nighttime runs in the park and had dinner with my parents in their backyard.  i watched a lot of sunsets and learned new things.

 

but if i am honest with myself, i didn’t show up for people the way i wanted to.  and in some important moments and simple day to day life experiences, i didn’t show up in the ways i would have liked to. i spent more time complaining and identifying with the negative than i did in investing in happiness, gratitude, and enriching my well-being. i found myself so caught up in being busy that i forgot to live slowly, to enjoy the only moment we are ever promised–right now. i didn’t have as good of an attitude as i would have liked and i was less patient than i know i can be.  somehow and somewhere in 2015 i got off balance; i spent less time engaging in the things that i enjoy like reading, spending time with family and friends, spreading positivity, and forming connections. i spent less time writing and creating.  it’s taken me a while to realize it, but i didn’t feel that inner happiness that has always been so comforting.  i was searching for the ease that i had been living with, but found it harder to come by. 2015 was different from the ones i’ve had recently in ways that i do not fully understand and it was still a good year.

i think it’s important to be able to talk about the times that we fall. to talk about moments when we didn’t live up to our values, expectations, or goals. to be able to say that we have failed or didn’t quite make the target.  i think it’s important to be able to talk candidly about the disappointment we feel or the heartache we are recovering from. the sadness that still lingers after a loss or a setback or the hurt that we try and push away. and i think we only grow when we can be honest in stating that there are some things we will do differently next time.

 



 

i’d like to take better care of myself this year. to honor my time with myself. to find balance between outside commitments, personal goals, and life obligations. i’d like to spend more time being quiet with a warm cup of tea or a book in my hand. i’d like to wake up early in the mornings to write gratitude on my heart and to expand my mind with beautiful words. i’d like to form more connections this year and deepen the relationships that i’m already blessed with. i’d like to be more conscious of the energy i am investing in and harvesting inside. i’d like to be gentler with myself in knowing that i’m trying my best and i’d like to observe the constant flow of thoughts that drive my perceptions and feelings. i’d like to create inspiration and an infinite amount of moments filled with love.

we can talk about all of the things that we want and all of the goals held so close to our hearts. we can read all of the blog posts and books and  listen to all of the motivating speakers and podcasts, but it we do not take action and make the decision to live differently on a consistent day-to-day basis, we remain the unchanged.  sometimes taking action means sitting peacefully, offering yourself a moment to wind down and welcome the moment as it is. and sometimes it means fighting off every excuse to remain stagnant and become uncomfortable. so for me, this year is about saying ‘no’ and being more cautious with my time.  it’s about being mindful of my thoughts and aware of my tendency to fit everything in at the expense of enjoying the moment.  i’m being more intentional and developing new habits. i started writing every night.

 

slowly, with concerted efforts and gentle reminders, we will get there.

but we must know where we are headed.

 

 

 

 

and so with an open heart, a calm mind, and my face tilted to the sun, i welcome 2 0 1 6 .

i welcome today.

right now.

this breath.

reflections from a yoga mat

i cried in yoga today.

i’m not sure why, but i think it’s because i had stored up negative emotions inside of my body-  stress, anxiety, and  pressure.  the need for control, disappointment, and expectation. and sometimes these things sneak into our lives and linger without invitation or our own awareness that they are there. and i’ve learned that when we store this negative energy within ourselves- either consciously or unconsciously- it begins to dim out the light that we are, the inner and outer radiance that we shine, and the brightness we share.

 

 

can you reflect for a moment on the ways in which you may be dimming your own light?

 

 

if you look long enough and can be open with your heart, you might find that you are unkind to yourself in ways that you did not know. like the ways that you eat or do not 0r in the way you force what is not ready to come.  the way you judge your best efforts or the words you allow to speak to your heart. the way you talk to yourself as you set out on a new adventure or explore an unwalked path.  and can you look inside and find the parts of yourself that are holding on to thoughts of inadequacy, worthlessness, harshness, and self-judgement?  or perhaps you punish yourself through criticism, over-working, and the need for perfection.  maybe you will start to observe the stories that you tell yourself about what you cannot do or about what is already done.  listen to the thoughts that swirl in your mind causing anxiety, anger, sadness, or loneliness.  and from my yoga mat i learned that sometimes we dim out our own light by doubting our competencies, talents, and abilities, or choosing not to see our goals through. do you notice yourself creating unnecessary pressure through deadlines, busy-ness, or the need to control every outcome? and when you search your soul are there lingering feelings of isolation, guilt, shame, or fear?  what do they feel like? and how can you let them go?

 

 

stop for a moment.

just notice.

 

 

and in these last two months i’ve learned that when we dim our lights or the lights of others through criticism, judgement, and unkindness, we cause the world to go dark.  we cause suffering. we become trapped in hurt and unconscious negativity.  when we make ourselves small it can become harder to grow, to develop our talents, to be consistent with our personal values, and to be who we fully are and are capable of.  and when we spread negativity to others through jealousy, gossip, comparison, or un-forgiveness, we harbor the same energy within ourselves. but remember my friend, if we can replace our individual and collective spots of darkness with light, we may all shine. 

 

and can you get to know yourself? can you sit with yourself and wonder?

take the time to begin to find yourself in all the ways that you’ve been lost in it.

 

 

 

 

and from my yoga mat, i have found that the more you know yourself the better you’ll be able to recognize when you are straying from your own path.  we can use these opportunities of awareness to embrace discomfort and lean into our pain and insecurities. we can develop presence with the way that we feel and begin to understand that we need not do anything to change it.

 

release. breathe. let go and lean in.

 

 

 

we may not have all the answers, but at least we may begin to ask of the right questions.

namaste.

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