Categories
empowerment self discovery

Balancing the Light with the Dark: What Grit Means to Me

A couple of weeks ago I had a few thoughts about toxic positivity and the “good vibes only” culture. I do love good vibes- but I’ve also learned how to navigate the bad ones.

When the name “Mindful in Style” popped into my head back in 2016, it was created with a vision of living consciously and embracing whatever style was yours- work style, writing style, and overall lifestyle. As a former fashion blogger, a lot of people related my choice of the word “style” to “fashion.” Yes, clothing is a type of style, but my play on words with the blog name was so much more than that.

It’s about being true and aware of your own way of life.

I have my own style of living mindfully, and it isn’t about wearing mala beads, sitting on a meditation cushion, or exclusively focusing on the light. It’s about embracing the grit while shining in your own unique way.

To me, grit isn’t a catchy term CEOs and “thought leaders” use to motivate employees to work harder. Grit is accepting your dark side. It’s knowing how your past shaped the person you are today. It’s accepting your mistakes, your flaws, and facing your problems.

Grit is vulnerability.

If I had an easy childhood, I probably wouldn’t have the same sense of humor as I do. I wouldn’t be called to write, and I certainly wouldn’t have as many experiences from my attempts at geographical cures.

I didn’t have a father at home to tell me I was doing a good job. I didn’t have siblings to watch out for me when I was followed and harassed on the playground. I didn’t hang out with the popular girls in school who played tennis (oh, I tried, and played terribly). Instead, people constantly bullied me, told me what was wrong with me, and laughed about my misfortune behind my back.

I mainly kept to myself and continued doing what I was doing- until I could run away for over a decade.

Today, I want to talk about it. I finally took my power back.

In October I moved back to Traverse City, a town where mean girls were a dime a dozen, with a brand new view of the world through my oversized sunglasses. I began seeing people for who they were- humans- who were simply trying to do the best they could. Perhaps those people have their own grit beneath the surface. Maybe highlighting my problems made them feel better about theirs.

Grit is taking back your narrative.

Do you have grit if you made 20 more phone calls at work than the guy sitting next to you in your cubicle? Probably not. Nevertheless, perseverance and a sense of humor through life’s biggest challenges is true success to me- whether you’re a surgeon or are serving burgers with a smile.

Enthusiasm for life and being fully present is what I treasure the most these days. Instead of focusing on the things I don’t like or didn’t work for me, I consciously fill my thoughts and energy on the things I love. I revisit stories of my past and use the grit to help others. My darkness fuels my creativity today- mostly because I am proud of myself for learning to heal the pain and insecurities that once crippled me.

Sometimes I still cry when I think about things that once happened to me- but I can embrace those feelings today. I can embrace how far I have come. I don’t have to hold onto resentments- I can forgive, move on, and share stories.

To me, that’s grit.

Here’s another post I wrote about “grit” back in 2018.

Good vibes with a dash of darkness.
Categories
self discovery

Starting a New Decade With a Clean Slate

It seems impossible it’s the end of a decade.

We’re not just embarking on any new decade, though.  It’s about to be 2020- which feels symbolic of seeing clearly, following the light, and having a solid vision for the year ahead.

Life is always a work in progress for me- instead of a traditional “New Year Resolution,” I reflect every month on what I want to change, manifest, and learn.

Cleansing my aura and getting into alignment with what I TRULY want (not the media, my family, or society) sets the stage for creating a life that is authentic to me.  As I journal and reflect with each month, moon cycle, and moment, it’s interesting to go back to see when old patterns were broken and new ideas started to form.

Letting go of who we once were- or who the story inside our head thought we were- is a major step in healing, happiness, and living with peace.

See you soon, 2020!

PS- You can cleanse your aura too with white sage!  The smudge stick, crystals, and Moonology journal can all be found at Higher Self bookstore downtown TC.  I highly recommend starting off your decade on the right foot. 🌕

Categories
self discovery

Lessons I Would Teach My Younger Self

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As I write this evening, I wonder, “What did I need at 14, 15, or 16 years old? What didn’t people tell me that I would have told my younger self?”

Back then, I didn’t know I wouldn’t marry the guy I met at the Cherry Festival or that it didn’t matter that I chose to sit in the library at lunch instead of with kids I didn’t want to have surface conversations with.

I didn’t know I could go to school for art or writing and actually make a living doing it.  I had no idea the internet would create opportunities to connect, learn, and share, and I certainly didn’t expect myself to document my journey living in seven different states this past decade online.

I didn’t know I would become an alcoholic who would ruin a lot of opportunities, only to realize those opportunities weren’t meant for me anyway.  I had to mess up a lot of things to return to the person I always was- the writer who liked sitting in the library.

So, as I write, I just simplified my process.  A lot.  This book has been daunting, like a project I will never complete, yet now it makes perfect sense.

~

As I write with purpose, the words seem to flow and I can feel my energetic vibration raise as I type.  I can envision girls who had similar dreams as me feeling hopeful.  I have no doubt the power of others benefiting from my mistakes, closing the book with more confidence than when they opened it.

I may have taken a lot of wrong turns and detours, yet each twist lead me to exactly where I needed to be- and that is to continue to write.

Intuitively, I knew at an early age I wasn’t meant to conform or play by someone else’s rules.  It didn’t feel natural to “fit in;” yet living in places like San Francisco and New York made me feel “normal” for the first time in my life.

I think about the girl who fearlessly flew out to Tuscon to visit her boyfriend at 17, who graduated high school a semester early, and who skipped out on her senior year events to follow her own dreams- not anyone else’s.  The guy from the Cherry Festival would eventually meet his future wife the following year, and I would make an entirely new group of friends at a college where I knew no one.  I wouldn’t end up with a college sweetheart and I wouldn’t go through with a wedding I almost had, but I learned more about myself living in seven different cities than I ever could by playing it safe.

I had a blank journal with endless pages to fill- so I did.

Since going on my own journey, I haven’t looked back.  Although it feels as if I’ve come full circle, I’ve returned with a newfound love and appreciation for myself- and what the next chapter of my story has around the corner.

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Categories
self discovery

Vanilla

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Nine years ago, I worked at a software company in San Francisco.

I got the job through a temp agency and quickly converted to a full time role I probably didn’t deserve.  Being an office manager wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I did enjoy spending my time blogging, writing Yelp reviews (I had just become “Elite”), and gossiping with my friend Sonny about my dating and drinking life.

I lived for going out, meeting new people, networking, and documenting my adventures on the internet.  I used Blogspot at the time, and I thought my mishaps were of the genius variety.  I was certain there was more for me than a job at a front desk in SOMA, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.

So I went out.  A lot.

RIP to The Lion Pub

To fill the work day, I obviously needed a work crush.  When you’re 25, what job is complete without a work crush as a distraction?  I vividly remember the cottonmouth feeling of arriving on Bagel Wednesday after a long night out in the marina with my friend Mary, sweating out vodka and maybe even tacos, preparing the breakfast delivery for a team of data security engineers and executives.  I’d toast a bagel for myself, feeling partially sick as I swallowed my coffee, only to see him walk into the office kitchen.

I immediately became much too chatty, telling him all about my escapades and hinting at inviting him out with us.  He was a gentleman- a Kennedy type from Austin with an MBA- and I was certain he would see past my childish antics, realizing I was a serious writer and potential rising entrepreneur.  I mean, didn’t he see my Yelp reviews?

Nevertheless, I would go back to my desk, and Sonny would swing by and cheer me up.  He, on the other hand, adored my drunken tales of Chestnut and Fillmore Street, Taco Tuesday at the Bluelight, and which Ivy League school my latest conquest was from.

“You have special powers,” he would say.  “Men love you.”  I was extremely pleased to hear this from a 40-something gay man.

“So why doesn’t he come out with me?”  I asked Sonny.  He just smiled.

“He’s far too vanilla for you.”

I had never heard this before.

2010 was the last year I thought my reckless drinking and behavior was somewhat normal.  I was also in deep denial.  However, Sonny’s comment struck a chord.

I may have entered the decade thinking there was something wrong with me; and there was. Obviously, the Kennedy-esque work crush wasn’t interested in a hard partying 25 year old.  Nevertheless, thanks to Sonny, I discovered that maybe he wasn’t what I wanted, either.

I may not drink or go out looking for men these days, but I will never lose my quirks.  They’re what makes me me. 

I entered the decade thinking I needed to change for other people, but I’m leaving it knowing that the only person I needed to change for was myself- and no matter what I became, vanilla wasn’t meant for me.

I am definitely more of the Superman or Neapolitan variety.

Categories
empowerment self discovery

The Day I Found My Freedom

I’ll never forget the feeling I had that March afternoon in San Francisco.

I was just dropped off at SFO, heading to my gate for my return flight to Michigan.  Tears in my eyes, I got out my phone to call my parents.

“I don’t want to go back,” I declared. “I’m going to call off the wedding.”

It was 2008, and I had been engaged for exactly seven months.  Although the engagement was quick, and I thought I was happy at the time, it didn’t take long for me to see the reality before my very eyes.

The day in, the day out.  The daily traffic into my corporate job.  Coming home to the same routine, every day, to the same person- at 23 years old.

I knew it wasn’t the life for me.  Two years earlier I had plans to move to New York City as soon as I graduated.  I didn’t expect to meet someone later that year, on my 22nd birthday on December 22nd, who would swoop me off to Kauai for Valentine’s Day and move me into their beautiful suburban house once I finished college.  I’ve always been a big believer in signs, so I thought, “maybe I’m not supposed to go to New York after all.”  There had to be a bigger reason for meeting this person on such a significant day to me.

Back in 2006, my partying was getting out of control despite my grand plans for finishing school and heading to the city.  At the time, it seemed like he was an angel saving me from myself.

I would later learn no one could save me but me.

When I told my father, he thought I was insane.  Of course, any father wants their daughter be taken care of and to have a good life.  A good life to me looked a bit different than my parents’ view, though.

The day before my flight, my half sister (who worked in SF at the time) and I talked about my relationship and my goals for life.  Before I even realized it, she knew the marriage wouldn’t work.  She challenged my views and helped me realize I should take some time to reconsider.  She helped me think differently about what I really wanted- because for over a year, someone else was trying to make all my decisions for me.

Little Italy, 2008

As the plane took off, I thought about how I would wait a couple of weeks before telling my fiancé I didn’t want to get married.  I thought about what types of jobs I could apply to in San Francisco, where I would live, and who I could become.  I daydreamed of freedom, making new friends, and exploring the magical, quirky sights of the city.  My gut told me moving was the right thing to do- and from the moment my fiancé greeted me at the gate, I knew it was over.

I didn’t wait two weeks.

I told him right away.

Of course, he tried to convince me it was a phase and how my sister was envious of me. He attempted to tell me I didn’t know what I was doing and how I was meant to be with him. All of his efforts to control me- from my diet to physical activities to what I wore- filled my brain, and I no longer felt sorry for him.

I began to have a deeper compassion for myself.

For the next week I stayed on a friend’s couch, who took a day off work with me to pack up my things.  I left my princess cut diamond on the dresser, leaving behind all the furniture I helped buy with my graduation money.  No physical object was worth sacrificing my dreams- or my future.

Who knows what would have happened had I not taken that trip to see my sister in 2008. Perhaps the wedding would have happened, and maybe I would be divorced now.  We will never know.  However, despite the judgment I received from others, I knew deep in my heart that I was making the right choice.  I knew, at 23, that I didn’t want to take the easy way out and allow the wrong man to take care of me.  I simply refused to do that.

I would have to spread my wings and fly.

I would have to make mistakes on my own.

I would somehow, someway, succeed- and despite the failures, I would learn from them- because I finally had my freedom.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know I will never have to mourn the chances I didn’t take.  It’s been nearly 12 years since I took the leap, quit my job, and blindly moved to an apartment on California and Commonwealth Avenue.  Over the course of those 12 years, I’ve lived in a dozen more apartments, several other cities, and did eventually move to New York…

All because I chose freedom.