This world is a beautiful, complicated, mess. We are fortunate at this stage in the game to have millennia of recorded history and data about what those before us did and how they did it. We are fortunate to have advanced as much as we have technologically and to have that technology as available as it is. I don’t think we appreciate where we are enough and that is partially because we don’t look at where we come from. We don’t take the time to actually learn the lesson—that’s why so often history repeats itself.
I’ve spoken many times about our evolution and how we are responsible for our own evolution at some point. For me, that involves a deep understanding on where I’m at and the steps it took for me to get here both personally (individually) and collectively (as a society). I don’t take the opportunities we have for granted, but I do resent how we still instill an elitism about who those opportunities are for. This life isn’t selective about what is available to whom—man does that. Man created the boundaries about who gets to experience what facets of life and who has access to it. We have a gift to be where we are now and a responsibility to share that with as many people as possible.
The more people we invite into the experience, the more perspectives we have to improve and learn. We have to take the time to learn because until we do, in spite of how “advanced” we may get, we will be repeating the same story, just wearing different clothes and shoes. Aside from the overall societal impact, I want to go back to the personal impact. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we need to go back to what we are responsible for: ourselves.
Instilling appreciation in everything we do and taking the experience for what it is and how we apply it is key. If we are able to appreciate the mess in life, we can learn to shape it. We can learn to connect with the powers that be, our source, to find our purpose. There is no fear in sharing, no fear in running out, no fear in being the best when we fulfill our purpose because we are doing what we are naturally called to do. We are on a mission to share those parts of who we are with everyone so they share themselves as well. There is value in the collective—but it starts with the individual. And to find those pieces of us, THAT starts with appreciation and love of who we are. There are no rules that say we have to be a certain way to be valued. That, too, is the work of man. Let’s shatter that paradigm and rebel into exactly who we are. THAT is beauty and that is life. Appreciation invites more in and that includes more life as well. I mentioned in the last piece that the goal is to let more life in and appreciation is the key to unlock the door.
We are SO lucky to be in a shifting time because we get to rewrite this, redirect the ship to where it’s going. There have been some terrible times on this globe and I look forward to when the lesson is learned and we really question why we are repeating thousands of years of history instead of writing a new story. I know people did their best at the time but that is a poor excuse to continue the behavior in this day and age. When you know better, do better. I know there may always be conflict about what “better” is but if we are progressing to a point where we can allow life to happen as it’s meant to and to give space for everyone to have their experience of life, I’m here for it. Look for the light. Look for the good. Be that light if necessary and let’s take the opportunities we are given. We have an amazing shot here—we are holding the pen.
“Everything is better than zero,” Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary said this quote in response to a question about events he attended/spoke at. He was referencing the elitism of some people to pick and choose what they say yes to, especially when they are first starting out. Sometimes they think they are too good or they worry that saying yes to something will give a certain impression and will impact their chances moving forward. But I think there is some real wisdom in the concept that can apply to life. So often we operate like we have to be top notch, top gear, the absolute peak all the time in order to be deemed worthy. We also act like the event has to be the pinnacle to be worthy—maybe not so much all the time. I partially understand because we have a limited time here and it IS important to be selective how we spend it. But if the event/person/whatever it is is aligned with your values, it doesn’t matter, you need the experience.
This is also important because we have to allow ourselves to be beginners. We don’t come into this world at our peak. We learn and grow through our experiences and anything we do serves our growth whether it is teaching us what we do or do not want. All of that helps align us with our purpose. We have to learn to say yes to life based on what is best for us and not what other people will think. We have to say yes to life based on what feels good. The more aligned we are with what feels good and what makes sense to US at the time, the better in tune we are with who we are—and that leads us to our purpose. Not everything makes sense in this world and I know there are some things that will be super awkward—do them anyway.
This isn’t to say we need to become “Yes People.” At least not fully. But the truth is we don’t know what fits for us until we say yes to it at least once. Of course we need to use discretion and know what aligns with the goal and if there is ever something that simply doesn’t sit with you, or if it’s dangerous or hurting others, of course say no. There is a middle ground where we can say yes to life within our limits and as those limits expand, we open up to a whole new level. That is the key: being open to life. Everything is better than zero. Experiencing life rather than sitting on the couch observing life are two very different things. Life isn’t a passive activity. No, we don’t always like what we got or what we have to do but I guarantee going through that experience still teaches something.
So say yes more, and more importantly, just be more open. There are 8 billion people on this planet and infinitely more galaxies out there. We aren’t the only ones out there my friends. We don’t have it all figured out and in the entirety of the universe, no one gives a damn what you “look” like. That’s all ego. Who cares. Be wild. Be loud. Share everything. This is a trip we only get to take once and we get to decide if this is how we want to do it. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the minutia, I do it all the time. I mean, I wrote a piece about joining just a few weeks ago. But even that experience showed me the value in putting aside the ego and trying to connect. The point is to know who you are and we figure that out through allowing life in. That is literally the definition of live and learn. Push the comfort zone but be aligned with who you are because, in this life, zero is dead—and while you are here, anything is better than living like you’re already gone. Take advantage of the experience while you still can.
We went to a party the other day and our five year old came with us. During the course of the party, he made friends with one of the neighbor’s sons. He’s in college (I think around 20 years old) and this young man is one of the most solid people I have met. I know I wasn’t like that at 20. Assured, confident, open, honest, and unafraid to simply just be myself. If I had been that way at that time, I know the course of my life would be different—we wouldn’t be talking about self-discovery now. Regardless, this young man literally took the time to take care of my son. He played with him, he got him food, and he started teaching him some magic. That, ironically is where the magic really begins with this story.
I saw my boy watching this young man teach the magic tricks. My son was having fun with him earlier, but watching these events, my son was completely enthralled. My son believed he was magic by the end of that interaction. I witnessed the forming of a relationship in front of my eyes and I saw my son get excited about something he learned to do in the span of 30 minutes. And I also saw the capacity of the younger generation to change the world. See, I always thought that was our job. I thought we were going to be the ones to make everything better. But I see the way this group of kids move and I am beyond impressed. They operate differently than we did. They see things differently than we did.
The world needs that vision. Somehow, as messed up as they may be, as self-serving as some of them are, as unmotivated as some of them are, that can be said for EVERY generation. But there are these bright lights and I see them spreading and expanding. They understand kindness in a different way than we did. For as attention focused as they are, they don’t seem to care about what they look like in regards to doing things that are “uncool.” They live their lives and have fun and they do think globally. Some of the other young adults there had understanding of books and things that I completely glossed over. My life was a series of veiled collections, trying both to appear a certain way and to have the ability to do everything. As I witness these things and see the difference between authentic incorporation of who they are, I reinforce my work in the value of being. Not just doing something to seem a certain way but because we are a certain way.
That is also how we protect our energy. We can’t foster resentment doing something we love to do because it is who we are. We simply act as we are instead of acting. How refreshing is that to strip away the layers and facades we had to create in order to seem like something we are not. The universe works in funny ways and sends us the reminders we need and the people we need to be who we are. Those who are meant to be with us will always find us. Those who are not will surely fall away somehow. The key is to find that authentic grounding as soon as possible and to operate from there. That is how we change the world, one light at a time.
Just a short note about a timely reminder I received about abundance. Abundance is everywhere. Abundance is the inflow of life and the laughter and the togetherness and the love we share. It is the creation of life as well as the experience of it. For years I looked at abundance as a financial thing. A means to create more means and have the things that make us comfortable. But I am ever grateful for the understanding that abundance doesn’t mean the ability to buy things—it means the abundance of life we allow in and the experiences we are graced to have.
I was raised to do it on my own. It was partially a trauma response from an inability to effectively communicate my needs to people and to communicate my goals. It was also a response to being left alone early in life—not that I was abandoned or anything, just that my siblings left when I was young and I experienced a lot of life on my own or with my parents. I tried to keep up and create an image I thought would be accepted by others instead of learning how to accept myself. I thought I had an image to uphold and that everyone behaved that way.
I see how stifled life was for me based on an unclear understanding of what life was. I sometimes fear my child will have the same experience because he is an only child and my misinterpretation of life happened because I was almost raised alone. Well, I was mainly alone through the really hard parts. I learned to self-soothe and to grow up faster than needed instead of being a kid and having fun. As I am learning more about life as it really is, I think the candid view of what allowing life in makes all the difference. Life is everywhere. Life is meant to be lived and loved and relished. That is an abundant life. Our goal becomes how much life we can fit in our days rather than how many ways can we spend money. It’s a lovely transition. All you have to do is let real life in. Allow.
Today I am grateful for projects. We’ve been doing small things around the house and I think I’m more grateful for nesting than I am for the projects themselves. I mean, I absolutely need something to keep me moving and I love doing things that are productive. But there is also this underlying warmth from building something we both want and bringing a vision to life. That part is awesome as well: the working together. My husband and I definitely have things we don’t see eye to eye on, but I will say any time we take on a project around the house together, we are 100% in sync. There’s an ease to tasks that drive most people crazy. Then again, who knows. Maybe we were both decorators in a previous life 😊.
Today I am grateful for trust. I live a lot of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I won’t buy certain things because I’m afraid I need to keep a nest egg, or I deprive myself of what I really need because I think I can make things do. Lately, I’ve been looking at it differently. I’m not talking about being reckless and making bad choices. I’m talking about putting it in perspective. Is that $15 book really going to impact my bottom line? Not if I do it responsibly. Is my kid messing up the house really a bad thing? No, he’s learning to express himself. Yeah, we have to work on the listening and cleaning thing, but him getting to be himself is key. I can trust that things happen as they are meant to–I can follow what I am meant to, even if that means randomly buying wood canvases so I can paint…something. I am safe to indulge every now and then. It is safe to allow.
Today I am grateful for life. There have been a tons of ups and downs the last few years. I’ve dealt with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. But these last few months have been revelatory for me. Saying yes when I want to, saying no when I want to, learning the things that make me tick—that is life. All of the things I’ve preached about over the last few years finally getting put into practice. Well, not that I didn’t practice before, but it was more like putting my toes in the pool. Now I want to feel the entirety of life as I dive in and feel it surround me. There is so much to be grateful for. It’s not really living if we don’t embrace the chances we have while we have them. So I’m grateful to dive in.
Today I am grateful for my family. Things have bene tense between my husband and son this past weekend. They are both stubborn and my son especially takes after my husband in that department. My husband struggles with it because he wants our son to do what he is told. Well, five year olds are learning all they can about who they are and my son has a healthy dose of me in there as well—he wants to express himself and he feels like he can handle it. I am grateful for the love we all share in spite of our differences. We spent some time baking this weekend, learning how to make healthy treats together. It’s an experience…and a lesson in letting go for me as well. I’m grateful to have the lesson.
Today I am grateful for growth. Literally and figuratively. I’ve been putting in a ton of personal development work in order to make decisions about who I am and where I want to be—and so I can share that process with all of you. It’s so helpful to know we aren’t alone and I want to always share how messy it is. Growth is painful but it is progress. There is nothing more painful that holding yourself back and missing those opportunities. So I’ve invested the time in myself and in my home. I’m taking the time to plant seeds and watch that growth as well—and those seeds are blooming! It’s a privilege to experience that and my time needs to be focused on that now. I’m not throwing that away.
Today I am grateful for learning. Through all of the growth, I mentioned I’m dealing with literal growth as well. Those seeds I mentioned are in the form of my garden and they are absolutely blooming. That is a form of self-care unlike anything I’ve done before. I also never expected it to be so much like raising a child—waiting for them to do what they need to do to grow while figuring out what these silent creatures need to survive. Then I went ahead and looked up how to germinate my own cherry seeds. It is fascinating! This is a new facet of my life and I love it. There is a slowing down and a learning what really matters working with the Earth and seeing the results. It is life.
Confession time: I have a lot to learn when it comes to technology, even the basics on some stuff like adding filters to the camera when I take a picture. It actually started as a “moral” thing where I didn’t want to project a false image. I genuinely hate when we feel like we need to put out something that isn’t who we really are. When we were younger, we honestly didn’t give a damn about making those candid snapshots look perfect because we didn’t have the phones/digital images/filters we do now. We lived in the moment and had fun. That isn’t to say that we haven’t ALWAYS altered images in media or created false ideals about what we should look like. I didn’t want to contribute to that. Not that I was comfortable in my skin, but I was less comfortable with what felt like a lie.
We went to a small birthday party the other night and I took a picture with the birthday girl/host and she was using a filter on her phone. I instantly felt so old because I was fascinated by it. I had done my makeup so I initially didn’t realize that’s what it was until I really looked at the picture. It was one of the first pictures I’ve taken where I felt pretty immediately. I share a lot of photos of myself post-workout so I’m sweaty and completely raw/unedited and the goal isn’t to be pretty—so seeing that was different. And then I saw my smile. I’ve always been self-conscious about my smile and in that photo, I knew it wasn’t my smile. That was what gave away the filter for me. It wasn’t me. At the same time, I could instantly see the addiction to making ourselves look perfect, but that voice stayed loud: that wasn’t me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it didn’t detract ANYTHING from the night. We had an amazing time. I just really started thinking about my reaction and how easy it is to get addicted to making ourselves look perfect. My friend is gorgeous but she feels like she needs this filter on every picture she takes, like she can’t let the world see HER beauty. She is one of the most unique people I have met and she has an amazing heart and a million other things that come before how she physically looks, but this is what we still base our standards on. THAT is the stigma I never wanted to contribute to. Yeah, it’s embarrassing to post or share an unflattering picture. But I want to share the journey and the reality of what it takes to get the work done. I want to share MY journey and part of that is creating a space where people can see theirs as well. I want people to remember the real beauty in the world, not the edited story.
The truth is we can tell ourselves anything we want. We can write any story, we can show any altered image and make our lives look perfect. It doesn’t make it real. The point is, the real is beautiful in its own right. The messy, the loud, the broken, the natural evolution and creation of life. Just because it isn’t always aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful. Beauty is more than aesthetics. Beauty IS life. Beauty is how we view life. Beauty is the filter of our mind and how we see the world. That is the only filter I want to work on.
Ok, so maybe not a tree, but a plant. I felt the need to type this little note as I’m looking at my pothos. Last year I wrote about how I had to trim it because it was dying and how sometimes we need to cut away what no longer serves in order to create growth. It worked in spades for my plant and I love seeing the amount of growth it has now. It is still sprouting new leaves as the vines get longer, always creating new life. It’s an appropriate reminder that we are always gifted multiple chances and if we can put away, cut out and leave behind what doesn’t serve, true growth can occur.
If I follow the lines of the vines, I get a bit dizzy. They all spiral and connect, all weaving in and out of each other, new and old combined. It reminds me of the paths we take in life. Just because something happened a certain way doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. Yes, it may always be a part of who we are, but we still move forward. Life isn’t always linear in spite of having a beginning and an end. No. We know it is circular, always coming back to the same lessons over and over again until we learn it and incorporate it into who we are. We even get to branch out at times, taking a new path and seeing what comes of that.
Maybe it’s trite, maybe it’s cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Our life isn’t linear—not ever. The overall trajectory, yes. We are born and we will all die, that is the straightest line of our story. But that story is built of many layers and lines. I used to be afraid of confusing things, forgetting what I was doing and that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back if I needed to. Then I realized I was doing that anyway with trying to control everything. So I want to take a lesson from the plant again and learn to relish in the branches and splits and opportunities that come. If I can celebrate those things as growth from the plant, then I need to celebrate it as growth for myself as well.
Yesterday we talked about having two lives and how taking ownership of our experience creates the life we are meant to have. It’s great to talk about and it is solid advice—live with purpose and intent and all will fall in line, right? It’s logical and makes sense but at times it feels impossible to do. For those of us with anxiety, that can be even more daunting. We struggle making a decision because we don’t know what the results will be and we feel the burden of having to do ALL THE THINGS perfectly and all at once because the world may fall apart if we don’t single-handedly fix it. Plus if we make the wrong choice, it may never go back to how it was supposed to be. Then we create our own anxiety because we have a list a mile long of partially started things that never finished.
It isn’t that those of us with either/both/all of these conditions are lazy or self-serving. We are often scatter brained and fearful because we don’t want to let people down and we may be trying to prove that we are capable. We bite off more than we can chew. But what I’m learning through all of the things I try to do to please or prove is this: 1. Choosing things I don’t enjoy always drains me. ALWAYS. 2. Wandering around trying to find that thing doesn’t work. It’s literally a game of throwing darts and there is no target. 3. If people are with you or value you solely based on what you can give them, they aren’t your people. Relationships are mutual. 4. Not everyone you meet is manipulative or using you. Sometimes they are confused by your energy and they don’t know what to do/how to respond. 5. Focus is the only thing that will keep you on track. No matter how difficult, focus is the only thing to create progress. 6. Choosing something to focus on doesn’t mean you can’t do the rest. You have to learn to be ok doing one thing at a time. 7. In those moments of confusion and spiraling into a million things you think you need to do at once, calm the nervous system. Literally stop and take a deep breath and start again.
Those points are what showed me how important having a purpose is. Purpose gives us that internal motivation and drive rather than seeking approval or permission from others. Purpose guides us and we do the things aligned with creating progress. Purpose is the difference between activity and productivity and it is that central focus that prevents those spirals. Plus the benefits of completing things rather than starting a bunch of project absolutely helps diminish anxiety. I also noticed that when I get into an ADHD spiral, the anxiety is worse because nothing is getting done and then I end up with wasted days or the overwhelm of started projects.
Getting clarity and focus, for me, is the start of a second life. I’ve often shared my fears about time and not having enough of it, and living with anxiety and ADHD only makes that worse. So focus and purpose are all the more important so life becomes more intentional for me. I also have to rely more on myself because trying to motivate people to do things with me is like dragging a 2 ton boulder up the hill with me—and that just makes it all the easier to stop and blame them for not achieving my goals. My purpose isn’t theirs—it is my responsibility to tender it and see it through. That is the why behind all of this work, actually. Making sure someone sees they aren’t alone and that we have the ability to change. That we have the ability to take charge of our lives in spite of everything else beyond our control. It’s bringing multiple lives into one and giving it all we have.
“Every man has two lives, and the second life starts when he realizes he only has one,” Confucius. During the evolution of our lives, we will be faced with many choices. Taking ownership of our choices or placing blame. Learning the lesson or repeating the pattern. Staying who we think we are or becoming who we are meant to be. Knowing everything and preaching to the world or putting away what we think we know in favor of growth. Carrying the burden of lessons learned or leaving behind the weight of something that no longer matters. We can make these choices at any time and I guarantee, each of them will change the course.
As I’ve spouted many times, we are trained to attain certain goals, to be a certain way in order to be accepted. Every time something happens that doesn’t align with our true selves, we have an opportunity to let who we really are shine. And if we continue to push that back, we lose momentum. When we see/learn that we truly only have one shot, we approach our decisions differently. We learn to pause long enough to ask if that is what we really want to be doing and if that choice is really going to yield the result we are looking for. Eventually we get to the point where we no longer have to do that because our actions are aligned with who we are—and we simply ARE.
There is immense freedom in choosing to unburden ourselves. Sometimes we don’t realize exactly how many cases of crap we are truly carrying. I’ve gone through so many stages of letting go and putting things down and releasing, always thinking that I’ve “finally done it” only to find that I either have more stuff or I’ve picked up some of the old stuff again. Perhaps that is human nature—we get so used to handling a certain burden that it feels awkward without it. But all the different sizes of those burdens mean they can sneak up on us at any time and we have the choice to put them down in favor of something else.
My biggest distraction in putting things down is constantly picking things up. I have an active mind and I will constantly find something to do—it’s a blessing and a curse. I’m certainly never bored, but I feel exhausted all the time and there is often no completion to the thought or action (that is discussed more in tomorrow’s piece). I’m learning that I can’t pick things up simply to pick them up. Many of them aren’t mine and all they do is hold me back. The same is said for all of us.
We are gifted with one opportunity to live this life. We can choose our experience at any time. Learning to be intentional and aligned is the key. Learning the right questions to ask ourselves is what gets us there. It isn’t just about what we want, it’s about what we can contribute. It’s about the highest good. It’s about how we solve the greater problem using the skills we have and we can only do that when we understand that the story we tell ourselves may need to change. It’s about embracing who we are and calling the shots in a new way. Don’t give up that opportunity in favor of distraction or believing you can start tomorrow. Take every opportunity to simply be yourself. That is when life begins.
“It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first,” Miyamoto Musashi. Some days are easier than others to get into gear. We feel the flow and we can approach things with ease. Other days it feels like everything is grinding and nothing clicks. I ALWAYS got angry in those moments because I believed that if anything stopped me (or people in general) we were supposed to get mad. I believed that any inconvenience was worthy of giant upset. Now I see that there is purpose in those moments. Those pauses, those breaks in the flow are meant to allow us to recalibrate and incorporate what we’ve learned. A little test, perhaps, to see if we are who we think we are. I can’t tell you how many times I failed that test. But I guess the truth is it doesn’t matter how long it takes us to learn that lesson as long as we learn it.
It amazes me how we are able to live our lives one way while preaching another. I’ve watched people (and I’m guilty of it myself) spin and tell stories of the way things should be, and I’ve heard advice (and offered advice) about what to do when my own life was falling apart. And two things hit me when I read the opening quote: we think life is falling apart when the cracks in the façade we create are too big to cover and it is absolutely easier to point fingers/direct others than it is to take that introspection to self and clean our own houses. The reality is we aren’t able to move forward until we sort our own mess or put it to rest.
90% of the challenges we face are self-created. We carry the weight of everything we’ve done in the past like it’s some kind of trophy and we create busyness to feel a sense of completeness like it validates our worth. All we need to do is redefine what worth is to us and clearly understand what our values are. Once we find what is important to us, the rest falls away. I mean, you can’t be affected by someone else’s opinion if you believe you write your own destiny. Our live is impacted by what we believe and how we are trained to behave. IF we change those beliefs, we can change our lives.
I’ve spent years working on myself because I struggled to find people to help me develop into who I am. That’s partially my fault because I lived in a rut for a long time, believing I simply am this way. When I started breaking that mold, I felt shame because I saw how much of my isolation was self-imposed. It’s an eye opening moment seeing yourself that exposed, understanding that everything is as it is because of you. And it is also one of the most liberating experiences. As we’ve talked about before, if you are able to tell yourself the negative stories, you’re able to change the narrative to something else—anything else you want it to be.
Life feels overwhelming and hard when you aren’t able to keep up with the story you tell others and it’s hard to tell the story when it doesn’t align with who you are. It’s also infinitely easier to be an armchair quarterback and see people’s lives from the outside. We need to take that perspective in our own lives at times. The point is, things are only as hard as we make them. We can choose to let go of all that we’ve carried and all the things we tell ourselves we need to believe and we can rewrite the story or simply tell a new one. The universe is forgiving and it responds instantly to vibration. If you are able to vibrate at a new frequency through feeling a new narrative, you are able to shift where you will end up. Yes, it is difficult at first, but as we algin with who we are, the doing becomes effortless. Just give it time.