Categories
self discovery

Enjoying a Quiet Life

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As I sipped my morning coffee and watched the rain fall, an article from Elephant Journal appeared in my news feed:

It’s Okay to Want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Amanda Whitworth

As I read the author’s experiences and journey to simplicity, I resonated with each word.  Being present is a beautiful thing, and could never be beat by bright lights or fast-paced glamour.

The reaction I usually get when people hear I moved back to Michigan is usually “wow, what a change” or “you must be bored.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even in Boston I spent a lot of time to myself and in quiet reflection.  I enjoyed days in the park writing and walked thousands of miles, just snapping photos and listening to music.  My life didn’t have any of the luxuries I was taught would make me feel “complete.”

I embraced what was right in front of me.

Although I used to spend my time going out, dating, and finding chaos, I couldn’t imagine living my life that way anymore.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than going home to a quiet apartment, reading a good book, or finding solace in nature.

Simplicity has become a big part of my life, and taking on the “less is more” mentality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

It doesn’t take much to be happy when you’re happy within.  That’s the best gift of all.

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Categories
mindful at work self discovery

Life Works On It’s Own Timeline

Being stuck on the train is always a good time to start a new post.

Appropriately, this made me start to think about patience.

2018 has been yet another year for self discovery, picking yourself back up, and learning to think differently in this crazy world we live in. In January I set out with big hopes and dreams, got discouraged when they didn’t work out fast enough, and lost hope- briefly.

Then, at the end of August, I realized an important lesson: life has other plans for me.

Instead of looking at the outside to determine my success and worth, I began to look even deeper within.

I found myself going back to teaching this past fall while I continue to write, work on myself, and help others learn to live their best life. I hadn’t expected to start teaching again, but the opportunity appeared right when I least expected it.

We try so hard to perfectly plan each move we make, only to find that life works on its own timeline. Each detour provides a lesson to react differently than we have in the past, whether it’s a stopped train in Cambridge or coping with a loss.

As I work with others in every area of my life, I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned in 2018 and try to implement them on a daily basis. On some days I learn patience with students, and on others I learn to let unkind words roll off my back.

Life certainly does have its own timeline, and it’s my job to make the most of everything it brings my way.

Categories
self discovery

True Freedom: Letting Go of Resentments

As I strolled through the Back Bay and down to the Esplanade yesterday, I felt a new sense of freedom. It was a beautiful fall day, and I had the chance to head to my favorite spot in Boston- the Charles River.

The freedom I felt was greater than just being able to take time out to enjoy nature, though- it was a sense of freedom within.

I went to a meeting where I saw some people from my past who I avoided due to resentments- and not only did I face those people for the first time in over a year, I raised my hand and spoke about it.

“Resentments kept me sick and my secrets held me hostage.”

For a long time, I only let half of my true self be known.

People in the group nodded and smiled. Over the years, I found every reason in the book to avoid groups, places, jobs, family, or friends- all due to uncomfortable feelings, resentments, or disagreements. Running was my favorite pastime- but not in the jogging sense of the word. I ran from discomfort.

“I’m no longer willing to water down my story or hide from the world,” I continued. In the past I was extremely fearful of judgment or rejection- but the only person that hurt was me. The more honest I am, the more I learn how accepting others are- but I also learn which people don’t matter.

I’ve been working on being my authentic self, loving my truth, and owning my story no matter what others have to say about it, and that is the greatest freedom of all:

Freedom within.

Categories
self discovery

Start by Simplifying: Align With Your True Self

Something has felt just a little “off” lately.  Apparently this has been obvious to the world around me, too.

For example, earlier today I walked up to a friend and stopped.  She must have noticed I was unlike my usually-energetic self, so she gave me a look of wonder.  Looking up, I said, “I haven’t been feeling myself for the past couple of weeks.”

She looked at me and nodded.  “You do seem a little bit off.”

I’ve been feeling this way for weeks now- but why?

There comes a point in everyone’s life when you recognize all you need to let go of in order to move on.  You may struggle to say goodbye to people, habits, behaviors, or doubts.  I know I have.

If I can talk the talk, why is it so hard to walk the walk?

I’ve thought I’ve let many things go, but apparently some of those things are still bubbling at the surface:  Insecurities.  Doubts.  Fear.  In turn, I also learned that my solar plexus chakra (also known as our “third chakra”) is extremely blocked and unbalanced.

I had never studied the importance of the solar plexus chakra before, but after doing so, it all made much more sense.  Although I have always felt I had a strong intuition, big heart, and solid communication skills, I never had a strong sense of self, identity, or confidence.  I moved city to city, and job to job, all to find a place where I fit, not knowing my true home was within.

After learning a little bit more, I learned that blockages in our third chakra can effect:

  • Will, personal power
  • Taking responsibility for one’s life, taking control
  • Mental abilities, the intellect
  • Forming personal opinions and beliefs
  • Making decisions, setting the direction
  • Clarity of judgments
  • Personal identity, personality
  • Self-assurance, confidence
  • Self-discipline
  • Independence

All of these attributes are obviously important to any human being, but I have found that these can also be challenges for many.  Without a strong sense of self, of course people flounder.  We change relationships, professions, neighborhoods, and even pick up bad habits, such as excessive shopping, addictions, or gambling.

Sometimes we just need to take it easy and give ourselves a hug… and a mental break.

After writing a blog post yesterday morning and relaxing in the park, I watched a June energy update in hope of finding some sort of help or answer to my “off-ness.”  One of the YouTubers I love watching is Lee Harris, who gave some helpful insights for the June energy, and the challenges we faced in May:

MAY WAS AN INTENSE MONTH.

It brought with it a lot of change, a SHIFT IN OUR IDENTITIES and also new levels of CLARITY around any aspects that had been unclear or muddy in your life. Your mind may suddenly have become clear about these areas and allowed you to make changes in patterns of behaviour, relationships or careers. The changes may have been obvious – things that weren’t working and for many, the element of surprise would have accompanied this. What this now ALLOWS you to do is make room on the inside to adjust and calibrate, before taking your next actions or welcoming the next level of energy into your life.

There are two ways we create change on the planet; we try something out externally and it changes who we are internally as a response; or equally, we can sit with ourselves and go within for a while and meditate on who we are and what we want from life. Then after this period of INNER SHIFT, different and new things start to manifest in our outer lives.

Confidence is the next big factor of my life I need to work on; being confident in doing my best.  Confident in my friendships.  Confident in my work.  Being confident in my identity.

I have spent so many years concerned about what my family, friends, or complete strangers have thought of me.  Maybe that is my next step: becoming truly happy no matter what is going on on the outside.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve taken a lot of steps.  However, there is always work to be done.

So far, I’m off to a good start- over the past couple of days I’ve been busy at the gym, got a new haircut, and have learned to slow down… a little, anyway.  As we move through June, I am optimistic that each day I’ll become a little more grounded, a little more sure of myself, and a little more in-tune with my third chakra; because if I’ve learned one thing by now, it’s “wherever you go, there you are.”

If you still have questions about the June energy, you can check out the rest of Lee’s energy report here.

Categories
self discovery

When the Fog Clears

I’ve had a vivid imagination for as long as I can remember.  From the detailed characters I created into illustrated story books at age 7 to the imaginary friends who were invited to my grandparent’s house for dinner, I’ve never had a lack of creativity in my life.

That’s even bled into my adulthood, too- I relentlessly see the good in people, create storylines for situations, predict how entire time period will turn out- from friendships to jobs- and sometimes even dream entire relationships in my head.

Well, that would only be if the other party hadn’t fooled me into believing those stories.

Nevertheless, it’s been interesting how the element of storytelling and fantasy has played a role in my adult life.  I’ve dramatized situations, looked fondly at people based on the hope I had for the person they were, and have created negative situations out of nowhere.  My intuition has always played a role in this storytelling, however, the people in my real-life have also become interesting characters.  There comes a day when you stop seeing life as purely a fairy tale, but one big series.  A whole collection of experiences, dramas, comedies, and tragedies.

Perhaps you can separate fantasy from real life.

Maybe it’s time to just start writing a new story.

🐱

Categories
empowerment

Own Your Story

“May the Forth” Be With You!

This probably isn’t the first time you read that today, and it probably won’t be the last.  However, as someone who has never even seen one Star Wars movie, this phrase doesn’t mean a whole lot to me- until Brené Brown posted an article on LinkedIn:

The most difficult part of our stories is often what we bring to them—what we make up about who we are and how we are perceived by others. Yes, maybe we failed or screwed up a project, but what makes that story so painful is what we tell ourselves about our own self-worth and value.

Owning our stories means acknowledging our feelings and wrestling with the hard emotions—our fear, anger, aggression, shame, and blame. This isn’t easy, but the alternative—denying our stories and disengaging from emotion—means choosing to live our entire lives in the dark. It means no accountability, no learning, no growth.

To harness the Force, we must own our stories and live our truth. In we must go.

Adapted from the amazing book Rising Strong, Brené related “the force” to shame, vulnerability, and fear.  As a role model, Brené has taught me there is beauty in my story- even when it doesn’t seem so pretty.  Our society teaches us to “be” a certain way, when in reality, we’re doing ourselves (and others) a disservice by holding back what’s truly in our soul.  Why would we want people to love us for what we are not?  Why would we ever want to be accepted under false pretenses?

It’s amazing when I look back on how I used to live- I used to be crippled by what the outside world thought.  I used to hold back my talents in fear of people criticizing me, I used to quit things in fear of failing, and I questioned my talents because of a few naysayers.  I used to be on defense, 24/7, wondering what little remark or mean comment would come next.

The people who always seem to have an opinion may never change, but you can.  

I used to have an internal battle with my own brain, second guessing every move I made:

“Don’t say that!”

“You shouldn’t wear this!”

“Someone might laugh at you!”

“What will people think?”

Thank goodness my mindset has changed.

Today, I own my flaws.  I embrace my mistakes.  I share my story, and I can laugh at the pain; but most of all, I feel grateful to help others not feel so alone.

I hope you will gladly accept your power, give yourself a break from doubt or shame, and own the uniqueness that is you.  You are worth it.

Categories
self discovery

New Moon Vibes- Spring Has Sprung!

Although the New Moon was over the weekend, I’ve been really feeling it these past couple of days.  Perhaps it’s a combination of the moon and Mercury snapping out of retrograde (whew), but I’ve been feeling refreshed, calm, and balanced.

Instead of being overcome with emotions- both good or bad- I’ve been feeling more neutral.  People haven’t been pushing my buttons like they used to, comments aren’t being taken so personally, and my anxiety about everyday things- such as commuting or finishing up a task at work- isn’t so bad.

I’ve been choosing what to care about and what to put my energy towards.

This New Moon was in Aries, which is the first astrological sign of the zodiac.  So, it only makes sense to be feeling a bit fresh- it’s the New Year!  I like that thought, too- now is the beginning of a brand new cycle.  We’re all able to pay attention to what is around us, take control of our thoughts, and focus on what is happening in the now. 

That’s how I want to live in this new year, new spring, and new season.

Spring is a time of rebirth, growth, and manifestation; as the old falls away, the new comes into form.  I spent the majority of the winter cooped up writing, planning, and coming up with ideas- which served its purpose during the cold, snowy months.  I had been busy planting seeds for what was next, and even though I was taking steps each day, my ideas weren’t ready to grow- until now.

Just like the spring, everything has its cycle- planting, growth, and blossoming.

Over the weekend I did my usual routine- a Saturday stroll through Boston Common, journaling in the Public Garden, and window shopping on Newbury Street.  It’s finally starting to look like spring, and I’m excited to watch the flowers start to bloom… just like new projects, ideas, and dreams.

Categories
conscious living

Traveling Light- Collecting Sentiments, Not Stuff

It just occurred to me that this is one of my first “minimalist” trips.  In the past I used to always check a bag or two, pack enough shoes for three weeks, and prepare for any occasion.

Not anymore.

As I packed for a week in Colorado, I was realistic- I knew I’d be lounging around during the day, working away on my laptop, and bundling up to go out and explore.  This has been a bit of a “working vacation;” while my friend is at his office during the day, I’ve been drinking endless amounts of coffee in his luxury apartment lobby, working away, and catching up on TV shows (since, you know, I normally watch shows from my laptop).

I brought one carry-on- my packable Henri Bendel overnight bag (which comes in Bendel stripe or black), making it easy to store after getting back from a getaway.  Since Henri is my favorite for all the things, I had my plaid purse and monogram cross-body bag along for the trip.  I was glad airport security didn’t have anything to say about me having three personal items, not two- but my cross-body is small enough to get away with.

So, far, so good.  Packing was a success.

Yesterday we took a road trip to Boulder and checked out the lovely Pearl Street shopping area after exploring Flagstaff Mountain.  Shopping used to be one of my favorite activities of all time.  My friend Brett just so happens to be the best shopping partner, too.  Over the years he’s accompanied me on many excursions- from shoe shopping in San Francisco to Macy’s with my mom and me in NYC, he’s a really great sport.  Not this time, though- he didn’t have any bags to help carry and didn’t spend hours waiting for me outside a fitting room.  Since the beginning of our friendship (when my fashion blog was in full-force) my priorities have taken a major shift- what used to be one of my favorite pastimes now gives me a ping of anxiety, with a “where will I put this?” running in the back of my mind.

My colorful wardrobe of items I never wore has since been replaced by classic blacks, staple pieces, and favorites- no duplicates, no “because it was on sale” excuses, no space fillers.  Just things I actually wear and love.

Sure, I’m on a budget and don’t have space in my carry-on- I packed as much as I possibly could into that Bendel bag- but I also realized I don’t need anything new.  Just a couple of weeks ago I did a major deep-cleaning in my apartment, doing two huge loads of laundry and gutting my entire closet to re-organize.  Even though I didn’t think I had much, it was entirely overwhelming.  Step by step, I organized socks, shirts, skirts, leggings, loungewear, etc.  After all was said and done, I felt AMAZING.  I knew where everything was, ditched the things I no longer use or wear, and created a method to the madness.  “Stuff” can get overwhelming even when you’re a minimalist- there’s just less of it!

This trip has inspired me to consign and donate even more of the clothes I have.  It’s made me take a closer look at the things I really need- and things I haven’t missed in my six days in Denver.  So, what did I bring, you ask?

Seven days in Denver: Packing List

  • Hairdryer
  • Straightener
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Face lotion
  • Nail polish (Essie “Merino Cool”)
  • 2 black tanks (H&M, 2 for $10)
  • 3 black leggings
  • 3 sweatshirts (two black, one grey)
  • 1 black dress (in case it got nice- it hasn’t)
  • 1 pair of tights
  • 1 black cardigan sweater
  • 1 SF Giants t-shirt
  • 1 SF Giants hat
  • Workout clothes- yoga pants, sports bra, running shoes
  • 1 quilted black coat
  • Bras, underwear, socks
  • Suede ankle boots
  • Black ballet flats
  • Laptop

This is all I brought.

My plane wardrobe consisted of a black tank, black wrap sweater, leggings, booties (that were easy to slide on and off at security), black scarf, and my long(er) quilted black coat.  The beauty of each and every item I packed is that everything goes with everything.  That’s the key to packing- having an interchangeable capsule wardrobe.

Although my love for clothes will never die, I’ve learned to prioritize and focus on quality over quantity.  Even though I didn’t do any damage on Pearl Street, I experienced something even better- mindful moments with a good friend, enjoying the beauty of nature, and some relaxing time away from home.  I did get a sticker from Trident Books, an iconic Boulder bookstore.  Coincidentally, the sticker (which came from a machine) is of a woman meditating in the forest with a baby deer on her lap.  We had just seen deer running through the mountain, too!  I put the sticker on my laptop as a reminder of this fabulous trip, and to stay mindful in every moment.

I leave Denver tomorrow afternoon and am so grateful for this re-set.  I start a new job on Thursday and I’m thrilled about the opportunity- and to be able to recharge before I begin a new chapter.

If this trip has taught me anything, it has confirmed the importance of collecting sentiments, not stuff.  There truly is a freedom to living more with less- so get outside, take a deep breath, and remember what really matters- this moment.