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.

Rejuvenate and Rebalance

Lately I have been feeling a lot of deja vu. Perhaps it’s the spring season, or the shifts of energy… but somehow, I keep getting the same feelings of hope and optimism that I had four years ago before moving to New York.

This also brings a bit of uncertainty; am I preparing for a change? Is something big on the horizon? Or, maybe, this change is on the inside.

It’s hard to say, but I’ll try not to overthink it and just enjoy each day.

After living in Boston for a year and a half now, I’ve reflected a lot on my experiences and how I’ve healed from the life I was living before moving here. I’ve learned the power of vulnerability, and that the right people come into your life at the right time. I’ve learned that curveballs provide great lessons, and that sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take two steps forward.

As I have cut baggage from my life- old patterns, behaviors, and thoughts, I also decided it was time to cut one more thing- my hair.

It seemed symbolic for the time, because it was four years ago this month when I cut my hair before, too. Full of excitement for the future, I opted for a new blonde bob, packed my bags, and left for a new life in NYC. Well, this year isn’t quite the same, but I have the same fresh feeling as I did four years ago- but I won’t let my story end the same this time.

Yesterday I woke up, fixed my new hair-do, and headed to an energy healing- just in the nick of time. There’s a fun background on how this energy healing happened, too:

Last weekend I serendipitously passed a street sale in Arlington on my way to the library, which just happened to be closed because of Memorial Day. However, as I strolled through the sale, I found two 25 cent books for sale- both on meditation and energy. When I headed to the table to check out, one of the ladies told me about an energy healing raffle going on. I filled out a card, bought my books, and headed back home.

A couple of days later, I received an email saying I was the winner! What a surprise. They had availability for Saturday morning, so, as an appropriate way to start my month, I booked a 9am appointment.

This was my first time having energy work done, and it was a very comfortable and interesting experience. We discussed where I thought I held onto negative energy, and chatted about my lifestyle, stresses, and passions.

After the session was finished, she asked how I felt. It was hard to pin point at the time; I was extremely relaxed, fuzzy, and calm. She did tell me that I am holding an immense amount of energy in my stomach, which I have never heard before. It all makes sense, though- she described it as the “butterfly in your stomach” feeling. Oh, do I ever know that feeling all too well!

In addition to holding stress in my solar plexus chakra, she mentioned my need for grounding work. Although my upper chakras are active and well, I have a hard time grounding. This made a lot of sense, too.

After I left, I thought about ways I count ground, calm my brain, and redistribute my energy. Instead of being stuck in my head all of the time, holding energy in the wrong places, how can I rebalance? So, I decided to go to the park.

It was a beautiful, hot June afternoon- until the rain came. I felt the rain hit my skin, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I headed home and put on some comfy clothes, opened my laptop, and started the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Sometimes we just need a day or two to calm our minds, sit in nature, and rest. Saturday provided that opportunity for me to just be, reflect, and look forward to whatever is next. I don’t have to know what today or tomorrow will bring, as long as I am grounded in the moment- with a fresh new haircut. 🌿

Sedna: Infinite Supply

I couldn’t help but share the card I pulled this morning as I asked for inspiration for my day.

I smiled to myself while reading the description for “Sedna,” the Alaskan goddess of the sea who provides sustenance for the body and soul. She supports the oceans, whales, and dolphins as well as other water-related ventures.

How appropriate for the card to talk about balance- something I wrote about here on my blog just an hour ago. I suppose Sedna knew I needed a little reinforcement today!

It’s true- lately I have been worrying a little too much about the future. I needed that reminder to stop, breathe, and focus on the moment. Life truly is all about balance, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, stay mindful, and do the best you can in the moment.

I hope you have a beautiful Thursday. 💞

Lessons From a Yoga Class

Last night after work I went to yoga to recenter and unwind. Instead of focusing on an intention when we began, the teacher suggested we think about something we’re good at or proud of.  She shared a story about her stellar ability to parallel park; although everyone laughed, her point was understood.

We need to celebrate all our positive qualities, not just pick out the negative.

We are our worst critics.  After busy days at work, responsibilities, and (for some) families to care for, we can easily feel we’re slacking in certain areas of our lives or not living up to our potential.  Sometimes we need to focus on those little things- those tiny victories- to help get us through the day.   We may beat ourselves up for mistakes or flaws, but she reminded us to focus on what your own parallel parking is.

Yoga taught me several lessons last night.  Certain positions were uncomfortable; I felt wobbly and weak, but remembered: next time will be better.  That was why I was there- to gain strength, mentally and physically- not because it was supposed to be easy.

Life is like that, too.

At one point the instructor came up to me and helped me with a pose, which normally would make me feel embarrassed or uncomfortable- but last night it didn’t.  I felt grateful.  My ego wasn’t on the forefront- I was there to learn and to grow.

That’s what life is all about.

As yoga came to a close, she said to the class: “My goal for all of you is to stop moving out of habit.”

Then, in my mind I thought, “stop moving out of habit- move out of purpose.”

We run around all day, multitask, cross off to-do lists, and fill our calendars.  But do we really need to be moving?  Maybe, just maybe, we can take a deep breath and slow down.  We can focus on those things we do well, and continue to grow in the things we need to improve.

Our egos are merely an illusion; are we moving to keep up with our neighbors, or because we have a purpose?  Are we trying to impress those around us, or are we following our own hearts?

Setting intentions that are true to you and remembering all of your gifts and talents is so important on a daily basis.  In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we need to remember what’s going right, not wrong.

Last night I focused on my strengths, went easy on myself for not being “perfect,” and accepted the help that was offered to me. I’m going into this Wednesday with a grateful heart and open mind- although certain poses may be uncomfortable, we’re building up to be even stronger tomorrow.

Mountain Escape: Soul Recharge

Nothing makes you feel small like being at the top of a mountain.  Looking down at thousands of trees, tiny buildings, and snow capped rocks really puts life into perspective.

Today we ventured to Boulder, a city I’d never been to before.  I’ve been in Denver for five days now and have been in awe of the constant sunshine, majestic mountains, and overall chill vibe.  There’s definitely a much less chill energy on the east coast- unless you count the New England air.

We drove up Flagstaff Mountain to catch the views, stopping several times along the way.  Although it was a bitter 24 degrees, the sun made it feel much warmer- unless there was wind, of course.  Even though it’s been warmer in Boston, this week was the perfect time for me to go on a getaway, relax, and recharge my batteries.  There’s something about the fresh mountain breeze and sunny days that makes you feel brand new.

It’s important to remember that spending time in nature is a perfect way to engage in self-care.  Connecting with the earth helps to ground you, relieves anxiety, and balances your root chakra.  Having a solid foundation and a clear outlook is important for starting a new week, project, or job- I never used to realize how therapeutic being outside was, but it’s been one of the most helpful forms of “medicine” in my life this past year.

Whether you’re by a park, beach, mountain, river, or lake, spending time in nature is one of the best ways to recharge your soul and re-energize your spirit.   I love meditating outside in the sunshine, going for walks along the water, or just grabbing coffee and strolling through the park.

I hope you’ve been able to recharge this weekend- March is almost here, so make the most of this last week of February!  I’ll be enjoying the chill Colorado vibes in the meantime.

Living Beautifully

I used to get tied up in day-to-day monotony, focused on all of the things I “had” to do or “should” do.

This was especially prevalent in New York. I didn’t always stop to enjoy the beauty around me or notice the little details that bring each day joy.

My life was so chaotic I didn’t enjoy the things I once loved, such as sitting to enjoy a smoothie, journaling, listening to the birds, painting my nails to coordinate with my outfit, or taking pictures of the sunrise. I rushed through life to get to the next moment; and that’s no way to live.

A rare moment of zen in Central Park

After leaving NYC last summer, I lived with family by the lake in a small Michigan town off exit 222, away from the modern conveniences of city living. It was the perfect “reset.” I enjoyed coffee in the backyard each morning, relaxed by the water, and actually enjoyed my meals- I stopped rushing and began to enjoy the moment.

That was when my true passion for mindfulness began.

Boating on Lake St. Helen

When I started this blog in the beginning of December 2016, I wanted to combine my mindfulness lessons with my love for style and living beautifully.  People have continually told me to relax and stop worrying about my makeup, outfit or hair- but those are things I enjoy.  It’s a part of “living beautifully.”

I believe there’s a fine balance between relaxing and simply feeling good for you.  Some days I want to run around in a baseball cap and flip flops, and others I want to wear my staple- the little black dress.  It all depends on the day.

Living beautifully is about balance.

Life in Boston has provided a perfect mix of city life and mindful living, as this historic city is so diverse with a mix of beauty, culture, and nature. Mindful in Style came naturally to me after just six short days, and I’ve enjoyed writing about my life of mindfulness, minimalism, style, and spirituality ever since.

What does living beautifully mean to you?