Categories
self discovery

Check On The Strong Ones

You never know what someone else is going through.

Last summer, while living in Boston, my life seemed fantastic. I was working at a law firm downtown, living in a cute studio, and smiling for photos.

I visited friends in New York City, went to museums, enjoyed baseball games, and wore designer clothes.  I spent days in the Public Garden and wrote inspirational blog posts- yet what most people didn’t know was that I was on the verge of the unraveling of my final year in Boston.

Society spends so much time comparing our own lives to other people- but we only know part of their story.

We check Facebook to see what our friends are doing on vacation, we compare our jobs, and we make up stories in our own minds as to what someone’s life is truly like.  We see people and their seemingly perfect families, adorable kids, and handsome husbands.

This is a reminder to check on those who seem to have it all together- the strong ones who may not seem to need help at all.

I never wanted to admit I needed help, that I was lonely, or that I was unsure of where my life was going.  Thankfully, I realized that I can’t write a story that wasn’t meant for me.

Now that I am back in Michigan, I can reflect on the good times, the bad, and have immense gratitude for surviving (and thriving!) through everything I experienced.

Remember to check on those friends who seem like they have it all together- because each story has its own twists and turns.

Categories
self discovery

Hiding Behind the Skyscrapers and Dreams

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The beginning of the end of my New York era begins with a weekend in Hoboken.

Ah, memories.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two whole years since that Memorial Day.  It was my third time in New Jersey, second time in Hoboken, and first time eating a Taylor ham sandwich.  I had a week-long relationship with a Jersey boy, who had me over for a Memorial Day celebration which I ultimately ruined thanks to showing up late, drinking too much, and then sleeping through dinner- where I was supposed to make scallops.

Oops.

After two days across the river and one final goodbye to the Jersey boy, I took PATH back to the city on a bright Sunday morning, feeling empty inside.  Going home to no one, clueless as to what I would do with myself for the next two days, I immediately walked into an Astoria bar after taking the below picture.

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I hid my pain well- unless you were one of the few who saw the way I lived my life.

Although I was smiling in that photo, inside I was in pieces.  At that point I was almost ready to face myself and stop hiding behind the hustle and bustle, drinking and dates- but not quite.

New York is an easy place for dreamers to hide- but when those dreams are broken, it’s time to live in reality and create new ones.

I’m feeling grateful this Memorial Day to be able to make peace with my past.  I’m also grateful to finally say goodbye to the old Kristin- the Kristin who was so scared and alone.  The girl who ran toward comfort yet pushed it away.  The girl who wasn’t sure what she wanted, and didn’t know if she would ever find out.

The Jersey boy couldn’t fix me.  He wanted to try, but it only lasted seven days.  A job, apartment, friend, family member, or therapist couldn’t fix me, either.  I had to step out of the skyscraper shadow, look in the mirror, and fix myself.

and I am so glad I did.

“Manhattan. Sometimes from beyond the skyscrapers, across thousands of high walls, the fearful cry of a too-well-known voice finds you in your insomnia in the middle of the night, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island of un-reality.”

-Albert Camus

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Categories
empowerment

What Inspires Change?

Last night’s book club was a success!  Although I took the wrong bus to Arlington (silly me), I serendipitously got off at Spy Pond, a place I often frequented when I lived in the neighborhood.  It was a good omen to remember how far I’ve come this past year, and how much has changed- inside and out.  The sun shined on the bright blue water, and I legitimately enjoyed my mile-long walk in the freezing cold.  Ah, what a time to be alive.

Once I arrived, I was greeted by Clarissa the cat and a basket of slippers. “The Nest,” my first home in Boston, is lovingly referred to as “the house of healing hearts-” and it lives up to the name.  There’s no warmer, cozier house full of hospitality and love.  Brenda certainly makes anyone in her home feel like it’s their own, and I will forever be grateful for The Nest being one of my first Massachusetts experiences.

Brenda was cutting up veggies and cheese when I arrived, and soon after April strolled in.  An all-around inspiration, April is an emotional health consultant and author- and after reading her book last year, I became much more aware of my own shift in consciousness.  One of her Facebook posts even inspired me to write this piece last summer.

One by one, ladies showed up to discuss the very appropriate book of the night: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.

Although we didn’t have many negative things to say, some of the ladies felt it was repetitive, a bit entitled, and wondered why someone our own age was at liberty to give us advice.  I played devil’s advocate, however, and chimed in:

“Isn’t it better to learn these things now than much later in life?  Think about how many people in this world who will never learn these simple concepts.  They carry on, miserably, forever giving far too many fucks.”

Most of the girls agreed with me.  Sure, much of the book was full of common sense, but as many of us know, common sense is not so common.

We discussed the ornery coupon queen to the narcissistic serial entrepreneur who never accomplishes anything.  We talked about how the smallest things, such as a 30 cent coupon, could ruin someone’s entire day- because the coupons are what has meaning to that particular person.

Then, we carried on to discuss what has enough meaning in our lives to make the suffering worthwhile.  That was a very interesting question- what is worth fighting for?  What isn’t worth giving a f about?  Why would make ourselves suffer due to things that don’t even have meaning in our lives- such as traffic, a coworker giving you a weird look, or what your third cousin thinks of your new boyfriend?  Why do we search for problems when everything is perfectly fine?

My favorite quote in the book was this:

“Suffering is nature’s agent for inspiring change.”

That’s a very interesting thought.

Two years ago, everything was seemingly fine in New York City.  However, shit hit the fan very quickly- I watched it all crumble within a couple of weeks that July.

If my life would had been as wonderful as I hoped for it to be prior to moving to Boston (I think I was in denial that it ever was wonderful in New York), I never would have ended up here.  Had I not struggled, I wouldn’t have had the courage to make that big life change.  Had I not failed at what I thought I wanted, I never would have been lead into a completely new direction- one that gives me purpose, inspires passion, and has meaning.

Finally.  Meaning.

Prior to moving, I didn’t just have discontentment with my outside situation- it was mostly within myself.  As soon as I began to take ownership of who I was- not who I was trying to be- things began to get better.  Sure, I suffered through the uncomfortable moments of being myself- which inevitably pushed people who weren’t in alignment with me away- yet once the suffering was over, my life began to clear, and I was able to begin building again.

Thinking about the first few months of writing this blog is truly mind-boggling to me.  I was feeding myself a plethora of information- from self-help books to endless YouTube videos, I wrote every single day during 2017, still trying to figure myself out.  I blogged, I journaled, I painted.  I created a couple of other websites and came up with new ideas.  I worked a few different jobs.  I spent the year re-learning who Kristin is.

Although the growing never ends, I’m glad my suffering has.  Sure, we’ll always face both minor and major struggles along the way, but the hard part- the caterpillar trying to break out of the cocoon- is over.  I’ve finally broke out of the trap I created for myself, saw the light, and found my wings.

Returning to The Nest brings back all kinds of old feelings- relief, a sense of acceptance, feeling loved, and most of all, starting to finally love and accept myself.  The “house of healing hearts” certainly helped me get back on my feet, and I wholeheartedly agree with Mark Manson- “suffering is nature’s agent for inspiring change.”

Categories
self discovery

Cracking the Code

If you haven’t seen the final season of LOVE (and want to), I suggest you breeze past this post. Although I’m not giving away a ton of details, I’m summing up my biggest takeaway from the conclusion of this amazing Netflix series.

The complications of Mickey and Gus’s love story- and usually hilarious relationship- stem from their past pain, insecurities, and fear.

That’s it.

(but if they would have been self-aware in season one, we wouldn’t have a show, now would we? ūüėČ)

I think about how their relationship- and vulnerability- is relevant to any life situation- from career to family to fighting our own inner demons.

Once we can accept ourselves, stop listening to the noise from the outside world, and follow our hearts, life becomes much more satisfying, peaceful, and fun.

Mickey and Gus resisted each other (not to mention happiness) throughout the series- but once they learned they could show their true colors, their problems began to slip away.

Gus’s scene at his parent’s anniversary party not only caught me by surprise, but redeemed him as a character in my eyes. Season three was borderline hard to watch when Gus awkwardly directed his friends, lashed out at Mickey, stumbled through lies, or tried to be cool at work. Oh, Gus! It’s hard not to feel sorry for him despite his anger outbursts and whining, but he made up for all the painful moments by coming clean in the end.

The look in Mickey’s eyes made me melt when she realized that Gus, too, was desperately trying to hold on, fit in, and be accepted. His confession warmed my heart, and I was so glad to see them both finally be open and comfortable with one another.

I wish that for myself and for others, too- to feel comfortable in our own skin, ignore the naysayers, and live a purposeful life that makes us happy.

As Mickey and Gus snuck off and got married on their own (yes, there’s the big spoiler), I actually started to cry. It was so great to see them following their gut and to do what was in their hearts. I know exactly how it feels to have friends try and talk me out of things that don’t seem “logical,” but my heart wins every time.

That private moment summed up the whole series, displaying what anyone would want in a relationship- laughter, understanding, and living in their own little world.

Although the LOVE story is over, I’m taking the lessons with me- and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have my own Gus one day- and this time around, I’ll be a little easier on him.

Categories
self discovery

Thankful for Growth

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Last Thanksgiving in Traverse City, Michigan

It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was getting ready to move to Boston!

Last Thanksgiving I flew into Michigan to plan, pack, and purge. ¬†As I mentioned in my second blog post, I packed extremely light before my move and was well on my way to becoming a full-blown minimalist. ¬†People always laugh and think I am joking when I tell them I consider myself a minimalist, but I don’t know many others who have lived a full year on just one small closet of clothes and no TV, car, or computer (my laptop died a while back, so I’ve been writing on my WordPress app or at the library). ¬†Less has certainly been more… much more.

I used to think “things” made people happy. ¬†In today’s society, how could I not have? ¬†As our nation seems to become greedier, I am more and more turned off by money and excess “stuff.” ¬†After living with what I actually need¬†and nothing more, I’ve become more responsible with my money, time, and space. ¬†I’ve learned to truly appreciate what I do have and treat everything with care. ¬†Minimalism has taught me to be happy with myself- not stuff.

Not only do I treat my things with care, I’ve learned to treat myself with more love and compassion, too. ¬†It has been a fulfilling year of being my own best friend, but also a bit uncomfortable and lonely. ¬†As we go through a spiritual awakening and become the people we are meant to be, we shed old habits, views, and relationships. ¬†It’s been a year of ups and downs, but it’s also been a year of strength.¬†

I have better learned who I am, what I actually need, and what matters in life.

Before moving nearly one year ago, I spent much of my life listening to outside influences- not my heart. ¬†My intuition always had an answer for me, but I was too nervous to follow its guidance in fear I wouldn’t fit in. ¬†It’s true that I have always felt a little “different,” but now I consider my differences gifts, not flaws. ¬†Today¬†I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

I used to spend my energy concerned about what other people thought of me- instead of using my creative talents, I hid them.  Instead of continuing projects, I stopped in fear of failure.  Conflicting views and opinions left me confused, anxious, and depressed- so when I moved last year, I decided it was time to stop.  Nobody knew me in Boston, so what did I have to lose?

I can’t control what others say, think, or do- so I might as well stay true to myself.

Although I am staying in Massachusetts this year, I will have my “family of intent” to share Thanksgiving with. ¬†We all have the family we are born into, but we also have special people who are in alignment with our souls. ¬†I consider this my “tribe;” the friends who have encouraged me to write, to be myself, and to follow my heart. ¬†Once I learned to value myself, compatible people and opportunities began appearing in my life. ¬†While much of my past has been shed this past year- old pain, fears, insecurities, and habits, I am so grateful for the new relationships that have helped strengthen and guide me along the way.

This year, I am thankful for growth.

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Thanksgiving Eve 2017, Harvard Yard
Categories
self discovery

Self Acceptance, Not Self Improvement

Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster the past two weeks.

Maybe it was the eclipse.  Maybe it was because I was rushing around to find a new apartment for September, or because I slipped and hurt my chin.  It could have been misplacing my phone for three days and feeling completely disconnected, or because of my work uncertainty.  I realized I’ve been moving too fast, forgetting what is important- the moment.

I got off-center and realized that my life was dependent on what was happening on the outside, not the inside.  Yet, the good far outweighed the bad.

My mother visited, my phone was returned to me by a kind stranger, I found a steady gig for a couple of weeks and I got to see Lionel Richie in concert.  Still, I had a strange, uneasy feeling.  Despite learning to communicate with the world through other methods than my phone, and despite finding a wonderful, zen place to move into, I kept thinking- “what’s next?”

Then, I stopped.  I wasn’t focusing on the moment and all that I had to be grateful for.   So, I made a gratitude list and meditated.   I revisited a few of my old blog posts and connected with nature.

Last night I met a dear friend for dinner.  She always is full of wisdom and helps to ground me, especially in moments where I feel completely lost.  She is the person in Boston I would call in an emergency, and I know she would be right there for me.

Upon telling her all about my adventures, mishaps and good fortune these past two weeks, she said something very wise:

“Your journey is about self acceptance, not self improvement. You are okay exactly how you are.”

Her words made me stop and think.  Yes.  She told me to be kind to myself.  She told me that I am okay even when I feel criticized, ashamed, uncomfortable.  

Honor the uncomfortable feeling, then give yourself a warm pat on the back.  “Self, I am okay.  I am safe.  I am loved.”

We are so quick to forget all of our blessings and to focus on the future.  The past two weeks have been an amazing reminder for me to reset, write down my gratitudes, and love a very special person: myself.