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.

 

what you lose when you’re busy

we live in a world of movement, of busyness and racing from one moment to the next. we’re taught to be productive and efficient so we learn to multi-task.  we talk on the phone while checking our email with something playing in the background. and when we wake up, we start our days with social media, caffeine, the news, and lists of tasks to accomplish.  i am a person of busyness; i pride myself on being productive, setting goals and achieving them, and structuring my day so that i make the most out of my time. these last few months however, have been especially demanding and it has been through this incessant busyness that i found that all of the things i had to do were keeping me from getting what i wanted most done. and so busy became stress, pressure, and worry.  i began to notice that i wasn’t getting things done so much as i was just doing things. and without even really knowing it, i began looking.  it’s kind of a weird place to be in when you are aware that you are searching, but unsure of what it is that you are looking for.

but if there is one thing for certain, it’s that i’ll know when i find it.

and in my search, here is what i’ve found that i’ve lost:

 1. stillness

it’s hard to be still when you feel pressured to move. when you are pulled by goal setting, self-development, and the pursuance of passions, your focus on the future tends to rob you of today.  what i’ve began to learn is that my pressure is internal; i set personal deadlines and place the high expectations on myself–so part of being still has been learning to let go of the self-imposed stress i tend to create. part of being still has been learning that i don’t always have to move to progress.

for me, stillness is about limiting my internal and external distractions.  putting the phone down and books away; resisting the urge to mindlessly scroll through screens of other people’s lives.  it’s about waking up to live rather than just to do.  it’s about calming my mind and stopping myself from the mental to-do lists, the incessant worries, the getting lost in should-have’s and what-ifs.  stillness is about the ability to become comfortable with uncertainty, the discomfort of limbo, the difficult emotions- to be able to sit alone in a room with the fullness of your being.  i’ve learned that we get so distracted by tasks, material possessions, other people’s opinions and expectations, and unnecessary conflict that we get pulled away from all of the things that are important in our lives.  we get so distracted that we are no longer present in the moment in which we are living in.

i have a habit of coloring stillness as missed time, a lack of motivation, or laziness, and what i’m learning is that stillness is not stagnation. stillness is about slowing down so you don’t miss out on where you are going.  and so i sit, or i stand, or i walk. without having something to do or somewhere to be.  stillness is about breathing and it’s about being- it’s as difficult and simple as that.   i let my mind wander without becoming too attached to thoughts, recollections, or fleeting ideas.  i’ve been trying to make time in my day to pause; letting go of unnecessary details or interactions, distancing myself from mindless distractions, and reflecting on what it is that i am doing and why it is that i am doing it.  it’s by slowing down that we can become energized and opened up to all of life’s possibilities.

 

2.  presence 

i lost presence.

when you are focused on nostalgia- or of moments passed and doors that have long been closed- or when you live in the future – of all the things you’ll do, the person you’ll be, of all the potential situations you cast yourself in-  you rob yourself of the life that you are actually living.  life in the present. i began to notice all of the ways i was unintentionally escaping from and missing out on the only thing i am guaranteed- right now.  i noticed that i wasn’t fully enjoying or appreciating where i was because i’ve been so focused on the next place i needed to be.  the result was a lack of appreciation and gratitude for my  experiences, it was apathy towards how wonderful and magical our moments really are. it was taking encounters and interactions as something i had to do versus something i have the opportunity to enjoy.  and i’ve found that a lack of presence is about forgetting that this is all we have.  this life is the one we get.

 

i’ve been practicing presence in simple ways like putting my phone away when having conversations with friends, in really listening to what others have to say and how they feel when they say it. in breathing deeply and through not trying to escape the moment i’m in by distracting myself. i try and do just one thing at a time. wherever i am, i choose to be all there and i remain very conscious of that decision.  i slow down when i’m eating so i can savor the flavor, i try and walk slower so i can see all of the beauty, and i try not to rush.  i do my best to not wish my days away- to trust in the process and appreciate the steps it takes to get there.  because what i know is that i’d hate to reach the destination to find that i’d missed out on the journey.

i believe that presence with ourselves and when we are with others deepens our connections.  it improves our relationships and fosters greater understanding of our actions. it encourages self-understanding so that we may grow, change, and improve. and when we are truly present with our friends, children, family, and all of the people whose lives we may touch, we have the ability to positively shape and impact who they become.

 

3.  acceptance 

i think of acceptance like the tide coming in. the waves roll into the sand and the ocean takes them back.  like each passing moment we experience, the waves rhythmically come and they go.  acceptance is allowing things to be as they are without adding on a filter of how we hoped they would be.  it removes the expectation, the disappointment, and the longing.  and when your acceptance is like the waves, you don’t get too attached to emotions, objects, thoughts, or other things- knowing that each will return to the ocean; that they are all impermanent.  acceptance is understanding that all things- good or bad- will wax and wane, that emotions and situations are fleeting.

and when we cultivate acceptance into our lives we can allow things to happen without passing judgment- without labeling something as good or bad, positive or negative, but rather, taking things as they come. and in this way we can react to situations as they are presented to us, rather than based off of every past encounter we’ve had. we can respond to challenges and frustrations more compassionately and they can have less of an impact on the flow of our day. through acceptance we allow things to be as they are and we see them as they are, which allows us to react as we are– with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and grace.

one of the greatest pieces of advice i’ve ever received is, “whatever comes your way- whatever the situation,  be for it.”  i’ll start off by saying that this doesn’t necessarily work in every situation or circumstance.  some of life’s events are too painful, horrific, or devastating to readily accept, much less be on the same side as.  but as for the day to day frustrations, challenges, and bumps in the road, being “for it” has allowed me to accept the challenge and focus on the solution.  it has allowed me to remove the negative energy and emotions i attach to events and rather, just deal with the situation as it is.  a flat tire, a bad day, or a string of small annoyances all at once- by being for the situation i only have to accept the challenge at hand, instead of my reaction to it— if that makes any sense.

and so i’m learning to embrace whatever it is that comes, to surrender to the present moment.  i’m learning to let the tide roll in and the waves crash down without trying to change them.

the ocean is beautiful just as it is, you know.

 

 

4.  intentionality  

and because forward movement is important to me, part of what i’ve lost in my busyness and have been looking for in stillness is intentionality.  when being intentional, you recognize that your time is both limited and abundant.  you decide how you want to spend it rather than wondering where it has gone.  for me, intentionality is realizing that we have time for the things that we make time for.  and being intentional is about using your energy, talents, and time with focus so that your strengths can be offered to others in a way that fulfills your passion.

you decide what you want to cultivate, who you want to become, and what you hope to accomplish.  you are specific so that your actions match your goals. during the past few months i allowed my focus on household chores and work tasks to prevent me from developing the areas of my life that i’m most committed to. realizing that my constant doing was not moving me forward, i began to notice the ways in which i wasting the valuable time that i have.  i recognized my excuses and the distractions that were preventing me from accomplishing what it is that i’ve set out to do.  and so i sat down and prioritized different areas of my life and various goals that i want to be working on.  characteristically, i made out lists and schedules and developed a new rhythm.  i structured my time in ways that allow me both to focus on my goals without taking away from the spontaneity of living freely. it’s been a process.

and when we are intentional, we have the ability to use our lives for our individual missions and purposes.  we can develop ourselves so that we may see our goals, ideas, and dreams through to the end.  and when you make the best use of your time and thus, your life, you may  inadvertently teach and inspire others to do the same.

 

 

5.  gratitude 

you don’t have time to stop when you’re too busy, which means you probably aren’t taking the time to notice and appreciate the magic around you.  you forget that you’re grateful to be employed, to have a steady income, to be able to breathe air into your lungs, and to have the ability to move. you forget to be grateful for all of your child’s questions and sense of wonder- evidence that he/she’s able to learn and grow.  without gratitude, you lose fulfillment,  joy, happiness, and a sense of meaning.  in my constant rush from one task to the next, my focus quickly shifted from all that i have to all of the things i had left to do, how tired i was, how under appreciated i felt.  i focused on the frustrations, the rain clouds, and the negative. it left me feeling rushed, anxious, tired, irritable, and frustrated.  and what i know about myself is when i am feeling this way it’s generally because my priorities and focuses are off balance.  and when you are not in the habit of focusing on all that you are grateful for, doing so can require a conscious shift in thinking and focus.  i believe that gratitude is a choice in perspective- what you decide to look for and what you see.  it’s about contentment and appreciation.  and so with every complaint i attempted to speak, i now stop and try to find the good first.  through slowing down i’ve been able to choose to focus on the light, the positive, and all of the reasons i have to be eternally grateful.  they are there for you too, i promise.

 

and so today, be open to all of the goodness, blessings, and sunshine that comes your way.

it’s not just another day.

it’s the only day that you have right now.

this moment is our only guarantee. 

 

 

 

 

 

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and so here i am, trying to find a balance between the stillness of doing nothing and the intentionality of doing everything.

here i am, learning how to respond as if it were both the first day and very last day that i’ll ever know.

…. because of an elevator ride

i was standing in an elevator, going up.

on the third floor, an older man walked in.  khaki pants, blue plaid shirt, and gray hair.  i’d guess he was around sixty years old. i offered a smile and he broke the ever-too-often elevator silence with a ‘hello, how is your day  going?”

“pretty good. it’s going by really fast, so that’s nice,” i said.

‘yes, that’s good’ he responded, ‘ but i just worry it will all go by too fast. i’m afraid i’ll miss a lot of things.”

then it was the fifth floor, my next stop. and that was it. a two second exchange with a person i’d never met. and probably wouldnt’ see again.

except that wasn’t it.  his short response replayed over in my mind throughout the day and i couldn’t help but feel guilty for all the time i’ve wished away…waiting for five years from now when i feel more established, two years from now when my student loans are all paid off, and a few weeks from now when i am celebrating some of my friends’ weddings. even five hours from now when i could go home and take a nap after a long day.  i’ve found that the anticipation of anxiously awaiting the future often makes it easy to forget to appreciate where you are. 

i know i’ve talked about time before in previous posts, but in my life, it is always something that i need to be reminded of.  because the thing about time is that it just passes.  for good or for bad, it takes away minutes as often as it gives them. in the days that fly by too quickly in hours spent of celebration, laughter, and growth.  and in the hours that pass by too slowly while grieving and trying to find a new way. as long as it can sometimes feel, i don’t think it will ever seem like enough. you see, it is both ours and not ours.  regardless of what you believe, i don’t think we have that much control over the amount of time we are given.  we do however, have control over what we do with that time.

and i think that’s important.

in the same way that time is not yours, it’s also yours to make the most of.

and while you are here, on this earth, i hope you make someone smile.  i hope you forgive someone when it’s the hardest thing to do, and i hope you say you are sorry when you’re wrong.  and with the time you are given, i hope you find the things that you love and spend it with people that help you to become a better person.  i hope you say ‘i love you’ every chance you get, and i hope you wear that expensive perfume you’ve been saving up.  and in the amount of hours.minutes.seconds. you have, i hope you take risks, go on adventures, and eat good food. i hope you laugh until you cry and dance even if you don’t know how to.  i hope you help when you can and that you replace quick judgements with attempts to understand. and with your time, i hope you find yourself trying new things and growing in whatever way that you can. i hope you change someone’s life and find the one thing you are really good at.

i hope you look forward to the future while taking every bit of this moment in.

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…what can happen at 12:01 (every day).

although i spend an absurd amount of time thinking.planning.and considering new year’s resolutions, i don’t necessarily believe in them.  and by this, i mean that i don’t think you have to wait until january first to start, or that you need to wait until a specific holiday season to begin reflecting about the changes and improvements you’d like to make.  i believe there is no time like the present, and that the best time to start is always now. with that being said however, i also like what january first has become to people.  a night of celebrating life and surrounding yourself with the people you love. i like the newness that surrounds midnight, the feeling that you get to start over, or try again.  and i especially like the promise that it holds.

 

what a difference one minute can make.

 

but really, couldn’t the same be said for every day?  new years are wonderful, but so too are new days.  i am sure i say this enough, but each day is a celebration. a new start.  another change to get it right.  every day can be filled with the same motivation to conquer your goals and with the same high expectations you set for yourself  at 12:01 pm.

whether you set your goals for the year or focus on one day at a time, i hope you choose to use every day as an opportunity to better yourself.  to do what you have always hoped and to work on being that person you said you’d become. and i hope you remember that real progress takes work, that short term sacrifices will likely result in long term gains.  and i hope you remember that you are worth the time, effort, and commitment. i can never come up with one single resolution and i couldn’t come up with one by december 31st or january 1st; i needed more time and more thought.  and so here i am, on january 14th with a list of goals i plan to work on every day. i came up with 13.

 

1. devote one hour every day to something that will help me get to where i would like to be in the future.– i undoubtedly have so much left to learn, practice, and understand before i get to where i would like to be.  i also know that i am nowhere close to that point, and that to get there, i need to put forth the effort now.

2.  simplify. less stuff. more clarity.

3. drink my cup of coffee slowly. —  coffee has always been my favorite morning routine. the smell that wakes me from my sleep in the morning, the taste that motivates me to start my day.  to put it simply, the idea behind this is to slow down. to purposefully take the time to notice life’s simple pleasures.

4. connect and reconnect.(without social media)– in person. over the phone. through letters. i want to meet new friends and stay in touch with old ones.  the real way.  the important way.

5. be adventurous. 

6.  be less busy and more productive.

7. only say nice things about the weather (or just find better things to talk about)- and by this, what i really mean is that i want to spend less time focusing on and talking about the negative and stressful.  i want to complain less and be grateful more. there are after all, better things to talk about than what went wrong in a day.

8. do something every day to improve my physical wellness–  this includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, working out, spending time outside, taking vitamins, drinking more water, and laughing.

9. put my phone down. — spend time with the people i am with. listen to what they are saying and why it is important.

10.  create something.–  i have a list of crafts.ideas.goals.art. that have been brewing for far too long.  i’ve always been a fan of dreams and ideas… but mostly because i want to turn them into reality.

11. practice saying no. 

12. wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning–  a lot can be accomplished in just fifteen minutes.  i hope to complete tasks that take three minutes or less in the morning, spend time stretching, and eat breakfast with the extra time i give myself.

13. respond with love. always. it is as simple and challenging as that.

 

 

 

 

 

happy new day.

 

 

what’s your new day resolution?

and just a side thought….when you establish a goal for the year, are you taking the necessary steps and making the necessary changes on a daily basis?  because when it comes down to a year, i think the days are the most important.

…and so it began


December 16, 2011:

“we only live once, which means we have to do and be all that we were created to be.  on a daily basis, we have to work to become.  i personally never fulfill my new year’s resolutions so instead, i am committing myself to a year full of meaningful days.  a meaningful day can truly be anything, but for me, that means taking small steps on a daily basis to change the world.  cliche, yes.  impossible, no.”

IMG_6374365 days ago,  i woke up and recognized that my time here is limited. it wasn’t so much a “i am going to die one day” thought, but more so a “i want to use my life well.up.and to the fullest. kind of thought. and in this moment, i began to understand that it was up to me to do it.

i started this blog with the intention of making and recording conscious efforts to spend my days the way i would like to spend my life.  i decided it was time to start taking responsibility for my own life; and for me, this meant becoming the person i said i always wanted to be.  this meant living passionately.  in every way.every.single.day.  it meant learning about problems and world challenges before judging them, before assuming i had the solution, and before criticizing other people’s efforts. it meant spending my money in a more conscious, purposeful way. it meant purchasing goods that are environmentally responsible, sustainable, and friendly.  it meant listening more and talking less. it meant being kind. it meant giving people pieces of my heart. and it meant choosing happiness.

i knew that i wanted my life to change.  what i didn’t know was that it could.

and over the last 365 days, i have learned that if i am ever going to start, the best time is now.  that what you do every day is what makes up your year, your being, and your life. i’ve learned that what you do matters.  that while i would like to save the world, maybe it’s just as important to change someone’s life. and then i’ve also learned that maybe people don’t need you to change their whole lives, but maybe just their day. i’ve learned that people will surprise you and that you’ll find what you’re looking for. i watched my life transform as i began to understand that i am responsible for the way i feel.  that my attitude is my choice. that happiness feels better.  i decided to stop talking about “someday,” “one day,” and “yesterday” and start doing today, in this moment.  because if i know anything, it is that someday will never come if you don’t go out and chase it. i started to dream bigger.

in 12 months i visited ten states,  graduated with my Master’s degree in Social Work, completed two internships, spent a summer getting lost in new york city and started my career.  i successfully surprised two different people and began to understand that family is the best kind of gift you can give.  i ate cupcakes. lots of cupcakes. and then i decided to commit to living a healthier lifestyle.  i decided to give up short term gratification for longer term achievements. i let love be more important than the anger i wanted to hold on to.  i forgave people who were not sorry. and i said sorry when i was wrong. and i learned to pay attention to the small things. in 8,760 hours i’ve tried to find ways to make the world feel better through random acts of kindness, common courtesy gestures, and choosing to be kinder than necessary.  and in this time, i’ve been reminded that the acts may not doing anything for the greater good, but i’ve also put my faith in believing that what the world could use is some heart. some love. some kind gestures. and so i did them anyway. and in 525,600 seconds i’ve let people change my life.  i’ve saw people struggle. and i’ve learned why the do. i saw the impact of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. i’ve witnessed resiliency and strength. i’ve devoted my time to learning about who is homeless and why, and what this means. i’ve expanded my knowledge about mental illness and the people it affects. i’ve learned to work alongside the people i am so passionate about.

and in just one day, i changed my life.  and it all began with the decision to try.

365 days ago, i was waiting for my life to start. but today i understand that

life is now.

i said that i wanted to become.  what i know is that i’m not there yet, but i’m here.  right here.

this life is yours, what are you going to make of it?