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.

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.

IMG_1163-2

new year’s resolution #5.

where are you at today in relation to where you said you would like to be 41 days ago?

 

the best thing about resolutions– or simply goal setting- is the promise they hold.  the inherent belief that they are possible, so long as you work for them.  that understanding that you are capable if you are able to commit your time and devote your effort.  and the worst thing about resolutions and goals?  that they are often forgotten, given up on, and compromised for.

money makes us give up. and so does time.  daily stressors and busy schedules interfere with our previous commitment.  lack of progress.frustration. settling for less. challenges. barriers. and when it comes down to it, it’s the excuses make us give up.  but more importantly,  what makes us succeed?  i may not know the answer for you, but for me it is remembering that short-term sacrifices are worth long-term accomplishments.  it is about doing what i said i wanted to-with or without motivation.  it’s putting on my gym shoes and going, despite how i feel about it.  it’s less thinking and doing more.  i’ve come to understand that accomplishment and success are about taking steps forward on a daily basis until you walk that entire mile. when it comes to goals, i think it’s important to remember that you are doing them for you.  to be better.  to do more.  to challenge yourself.  to grow.

 

 

today was meaningful because i didn’t put money towards paying off my student loans.  i didn’t put it in my savings account or invest it.  i didn’t save it up for my future car.home.furniture.clinical supervision.  instead, i spent it.  well, not all of it, just the amount i had been budgeting.  and by budgeting, i mean obsessively and excessively planning, cutting costs, and saving for the last few months.  and then i bought a plane ticket to paris.  and i feel quite wonderful about that.

my 5th resolution was to be adventurous, and there you have it.  spontaneity at it’s finest.  but it was also much more than a resolution… i also get to cross an item off my childhood bucket list.  the same one that had “live in NYC,” and “write a book.”  and i guess it comes to show that i haven’t changed much since writing that list, because i still want many of the same things… the only difference is that i am more capable of following through with them. maybe i should have been more financially responsible or differentiated between my needs and wants, but you see, if i only get the opportunity to live once, i’d like to make the most out of my time here.  and for me, that means touching as many parts of the world as possible. creating as many memories as i do footprints.

i’ve been asked how i can afford such trips- and the answer is that i make them affordable.  like anything else, you make it a priority and let everything else fall into place.  it’s like getting physically fit or earning that college degree.  you plan, you sacrifice, you prioritize.  but most importantly, you find a way. 

 

 

 

 

 have you made those attempts to better your life and this year?

eleven months left and counting.

…because you are wherever you go

i have been home for one month now.  one short month. but also one long month that makes new york city feel far away and long ago.  i have the kind of personality that is forever missing somewhere.  wyoming’s mountains, michigan’s fall, egypt’s sunrise, greece’s food, and costa rica’s inattention to time. i haven’t decided if that is a good or a bad thing, and then again, maybe it is neither.  maybe it just is.  and so today i am missing the musicians that decorate every street corner, the air that fills with not only their sounds, but their souls. and today i am missing the constant movement.

and in the midst of missing everywhere, it is easy to forget that i am here.  right now.  in my room, drinking coffee, covered by a leopard blanket, looking out the window.  in oklahoma, with the nicest people. that i am here, seven years different than i used to be.  and here.right now.this moment. is a pretty good thing.

one of my favorite things about human beings is our ability to ask questions. i like getting to know people by conversations full of wonder, and i like people getting to know me through responses. and so i like when i get asked whether or not i am happy to be home.  because i believe the way people answer questions can tell you a lot about who they are and the experiences that have shaped their worldview.  and i like this specific question because i can tell you all about the people i saw, and how easily my money disappeared.  i can tell you about doing something different every single day. i can tell you about spending my entire day people watching from washington square. and i can tell you that i loved it.  and if i don’t end up boring you with every minuscule detail of how i spent my summer, maybe you will hear about how i equally love being back home.  where the living is slower, and the space is more open.  where i get to see my parents and friends on a daily basis.  i would tell you that i like being waved at by strangers while driving down the road, and getting to see the stars at night.

because in the last seven years, i have learned that no matter where you go, you always take yourself with you.  that everything you are and believe will color your experiences and view in every way.  the way i see it, you’ll find what you are looking for. always.  if you believe people to be unkind, selfish, and rude, you will be right.  and if you are generally stressed and anxious, you’ll find a way to be stressed and anxious, regardless of where you are.  i believe that vacations cannot make you escape from your troubles.  and i don’t think a change of scenery is the absolute answer.  sometimes a change of perspective can do a lot of good.

what i am trying to say is that the only constant person in life will be you.  you have the privilege of going to every place with the person that you are.  all of your flaws, goals, problems, viewpoints will go where you go.  and i think the only answer is to be happy with where you are.  to be comfortable in your skin. to be content with who you are while still working to become that person you want to be.  because if you can learn to be happy with where you are, in every place.moment.and time.  then you will be happy in every place.moment.and time.

you can change your experience of where you are, by changing who you are while you’re in that place.

…because of gymnastics

  i always wanted to be good at a sport and never was… gymnastics was no exception.  the one thing i did learn however, was that in order to be flexible, you had to stretch.  the same is true with life.  it turns out i am more flexible in the real world than i was in the high school gymnastics room.

the way i see it, angry and annoying situations are opportunities to stretch; to expand your patience, to lengthen your fuse.  i see the future, challenges, opportunities, and new adventures as a chance to stretch so that you can be bigger than you currently are, so that you can do more than you originally thought.  in these instances, you must rise to the challenge, take that leap of faith, and simply believe that you can do it.  and i try to stretch and view each failure, setback, and disappointment i experience as progress.  as proof that i am trying something, and as evidence that i moving forward and learning.

 

literally and figuratively, i stretch every day.  in the gym, i do it before and after a work out; outside of the gym, i stretch while waiting in line, when getting bumped and nudged in a subway, when i don’t callback for a job, and when things don’t go according to plan.  i stretch when i am too scared to try and when i think i can’t do it.  i stretch when i am sad, and even when i am happy.  after all, the more you stretch, the more flexible you become.

 

throughout this summer of stretching, i have discovered that my flexibility has increased.  i used to be an obsessive planner where i would make an hourly schedule for my day; although i felt extremely organized (and it often made me more productive), i usually had a meltdown, minor panic attack, or adverse reaction to major (and especially minor) disruptions.  i used to act as if being late was the end of the world.  and while i still prefer being early to arriving late, my stretching has allowed for some minor hiccups in my life.  what you practice is what you become, and how hard you practice influences how good you are able to be.  everyday is practice.  my practice has led me to stop planning things out and accept the way they come.  in fact, this summer i learned that plans often interfered with just living.  of course some plans are necessary at certain points, but sometimes what is most necessary is being able to live, let go, accept the situation, and remain optimistic when things don’t work out the way you anticipated and hoped for.

 

after ending my summer internship in NYC, i came to chicago with no plans.  all i knew was that i was going to see friends from all parts of my life and from all of my homes.  i did just that and more.  i had conversations and laughed about high school, i ate new food, and saw new things. i got to sit in on my friend’s lives and discover absolute appreciation and happiness in the simplest of days. flexibility has allowed me to take advantage of this little vacation, and enjoy the moment-regardless of what it is.  the stretching and flexibility have also brought about openness–from sitting in a lecture hall to eating at a restaurant by myself for the first time, i have loved every minute of this vacation.  but most importantly, however, has been my friends’ flexibility.  from finding ways to make studying fun, to meeting up with me in short notice, to changing their work schedule, my trip has been as amazing as it was because they adjusted. because they were flexible, and because they found a way to make it work.  i have a lot to learn from that.

 

i’ll be able to do that standing back-handspring one day :). and in the meantime, i’ll adjust my sails in the wind and take life as it comes.

today (and this week) was meaningful because i did just that.

how flexible are you?

…because of one hour

i spent $178 in one hour.  to be more specific, it all went to getting on a plane and it was more than half of what i intended to spend during my stay in chicago. in one hour, i had enough bad, frustrating, and negative interactions to make me decide that my day was ruined before i had even had breakfast.

 

but before my horrible last morning, i had a wonderful, bittersweet last day. i spent the day going to all of my favorite places one last time and took a picture of each as i tried to capture all of the moments i wished would last forever.  i sat and read my kindle at my favorite coffee shop, and then again at central park during my impromptu picnic. i visited times square and found myself still amazed at the grandiosity of the city.  on this day, i was a tourist saying goodbye to a city i couldn’t possibly see all of as well as an extended visitor ready to call this place home.

on my last night in new york city, i decided that i wanted to watch the sun set and rise as a final farewell to a wonderful summer.  naturally, i decided to stay up all night.  at 4:30 in the morning, i packed up my belongings, and in a particularly good mood, headed out to get a taxi. i had already decided that it was going to be an exceptionally amazing day- especially because i was going to chicago to see my friends in chicago before i made my way back to oklahoma.  i made a decision to be extra kind to all of the people i met on the way to my next stop.

but it only takes a few minutes to change your mind.

my over-priced $60 taxi put a damper on mood, as did the taxi driver’s impatience, but i decided to let it go.  twenty minutes later it was harder to let go of being yelled at for accidentally cutting in line, and harder still to keep my chin up after realizing my check on bag was 16 lbs overweight (Spirit Airlines only allows 40 lbs instead of  the 50 lbs i was used to), and after i found out i had to pay $40 to carry my small suitcase on the plane, i was no longer smiling.  i proceeded to carry 16 lbs of clothes (my pant legs dragging on the ground and shirts falling on the floor) to a line that i seriously believed was a joke.  by now, i think you get the point.  while standing in line that extended down the hall,  i had to let groups of people cut in front of me who had an earlier flight to catch, as well as all of the flight staff who were running a little late.  to put it simply, it was no longer a good day.  as the last flight attendant smiled and stated that he “had to go in front of me,” i decided that it was just going to be a bad day and that i would have to accept it— the day was ruined and i shouldn’t have stayed up all night.

 

my decision to accept the situation was a small step in the right direction. the money was absolutely gone and there was nothing i could do about it.  i had to accept that i overpaid for a frustrating ride and that i had to pay more money than i planned to get all of my belongings home. but i was still mad. i also wanted to cry because my lack of sleep was catching up to me.  in the end, i decided i needed to let it go.  i think there is something to be said about acceptance; about allowing a situation to simply be what it is without trying to judge or change it.  and i think it is a good tool to have to be able to recognize when situations are out of your control...when your energy could be better used elsewhere. but most importantly, i don’t think acceptance of a situation means that there aren’t things you can’t change. you can accept the way something is while still having the option of choosing how to respond and move forward.  that’s the hard part.

 

i’ve learned that while you may accept a situation as it is, some things aren’t always as they seem.

i lent my cell-phone charger to a stranger who swore he would bring it back, and watched a screaming little boy run use the sitting area as a jungle gym. i listened to two strangers swap life stories about motherhood, and saw a women offer to help another person with their bags. in the midst of my awful day, there was good all around me. 

after pouting about my delayed flight and rough experience, i sat down on an airport chair and chose a different kind of day.

 

 

 

 

after all, it is your day.

 

…because of poetry

a cup of coffee can mean a lot of different things.   it could be an excuse for staying up late or a reason for waking up early. and a good cup of coffee can take you places-to the past or future, to the real or imagined. a pumpkin spice latte could mean fall in michigan; an americano could take you back to a rainy day in new york. drink strong, black coffee with one cream and one sugar and you might be back in costa rica on a crisp morning, writing in your journal near the base of a volcano. as i have grown older, i have learned that my choice of coffee is usually determined by the kind of day i had or the type of mood i am in. a black cup of coffee for cozy mornings and nostalgic days, flavored lattes on homework and no-motivation days.

 

this cup was hello and a goodbye, a beginning and an ending. today, we met up on my last day in new york city and the first day in hers. today was a black coffee kind of day. this cup was a call to travel, a call to learn, and a call to do more. this cup was a conversation on how to make most of who you are as a person living in a world that we have seen and understand so little about.

today was meaningful because i reunited with an old friend and made a new friend…both friends were the same person. three years after meeting briefly while living on a ship in the mediterranean sea, we met up again on a rainy, transitional day in new york city.  maybe it should have been weird or slightly awkward meeting up with someone i knew briefly and hadn’t seen or spoken to in three years, but it wasn’t.  it was comfortable, thought-provoking, and inspiring. one cup of coffee brought us together to reflect on our shared experiences and to perhaps unintentionally remind one another our love for traveling. today was meaningful because we sat and talked.  not about people but about ideas, about ways to learn and ways to grow.  about poverty and what that means, about change and personal agency and how that plays out.  we talked about surviving in new york city and what it was like while visiting egypt and morocco. today was meaningful because we put down our phones, got off of all social media sites, and connected in real life.

i’ve been thinking about the kinds of people you meet in your life- the kinds of people that help write or end up changing your story.  i think everyone needs a character like her in their personal life story, a person you can meet up with three years down the road in a coffee shop. a person who can walk into your life and stay there forever. a person who can make you reevaluate the direction you are heading and encourage you to offer the world all that you can.

i think we all should aspire to be that kind of person for someone else. and for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

today was a reflection kind of day. an analysis of who i am, where i have been, and where i hope to go.