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 minimalism

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.

Categories
mindfulness

Authentically You

The moon is in a brand new phase, the sun is shining, and the day has begun.

It’s the perfect day to live authentically you.

Today isn’t a day to apologize for something you believe in, or to dim your sparkle.  It’s not a day to hold back, to settle for less, or to keep quiet.

Today is a day to shine.

Sometimes we need a reminder to live the life we want, to speak our minds, and to have the courage to say “no.”  We need a reminder that we live in a magical world full of unlimited possibilities; a world where we can make our dreams a reality.

It’s important to remember that every day we wake up new and have yet another opportunity to take charge of our own life, happiness, and goals.  Isn’t that exciting?  Whether you’re in a rut in your career, relationship, or day-to-day routine, take out a pen and piece of paper and think about these three things:

Am I following my heart?

Am I making the most of the situation?

What changes can I make to live more authentically?

Journaling always helps me put life into perspective and focus on what I can improve. As I think about my own goals, I look around at other examples of “success.”  For some, it’s settling down and having a family.  For others, it’s climbing the corporate ladder.  Perhaps it’s academia, fame, money, or social status.  Everyone has their own idea of success, and each person has their own authentic truth.  What is meaningful to you?

It’s difficult to compare myself to others around me, as my personal success is found within and in the ways I connect with people.  Being able to open up and be vulnerable about my own challenges has helped me to heal, to live more authentically, and to help others know that they’re not alone.  Touching just one person gives me a deep sense of success, so I do my best to be honest, write with my heart, and teach the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Holding back from our own talents, desires, and dreams may seem like the safe route, but you’ll quickly learn that it feels much better to step out of your comfort zone.  Whether you dream of taking that job across the country, ending a career to travel, or starting a new project, remember to listen to your heart, embrace your uniqueness, and have confidence in your creations.  There’s only one you, so don’t shy away from your authenticity.  The world is waiting!

Categories
conscious living empowerment mindfulness

Struggle Brings Strength


Sometimes you need to step away from the life you’ve been living and reset yourself for the future.

It can be a lonely journey while you’re aligning with your true self.  Letting outside influence has blocked me from truly following my heart, finishing projects, and doing more meaningful work.  Doubts and fear have changed my path repeatedly over the past decade, but thanks the struggles, I now have strength to stand still.  Just like the moth, we have to struggle to escape the cocoon- our old self- to become what we are meant to be.

Over the past year I’ve been shedding my old beliefs, behaviors, relationships, and limitations.  It hasn’t been easy learning to act and view things differently than I have in the past.  I used to be defensive and took everything personally; now I’m trying to avoid attaching these negative “stories” to meaningless events.

We are all going through our own struggles, but one thing I have learned: happy people aren’t mean.  Love isn’t selfish.  When we align ourselves with our true beliefs, heart, and soul, compatible people and opportunities begin to appear.  I’ve experienced this many times throughout my life- the right people always come to me at the right time, the phone rings after I’ve been thinking about someone, or a job pops up out of the blue.

If you’ve been feeling confused about why you keep repeating the same patterns, it’s likely that you haven’t learned your lesson yet.  Despite moving to a new city last year, I still held on tightly to  resentiments and the people who hurt me in the past.  Unknowingly, I let my old mistakes and pain limit me from reaching my potential.

No matter how difficult your path seems now, try not to give up.  There have been many times this past year I have wanted to; I’m used to running away when life is hard.  Just three months ago I felt absolutely helpless- I learned I needed to find a new apartment with two weeks notice and didn’t have work lined up.  Figuring out how I could pull off finding and funding a new place to live seemed impossible.  Not knowing what else to do, I nervously sat in the park day after day drinking coffee, making phone calls, applying to jobs, and listening to positive messages from thought leaders like Wayne Dyer.  I can look back at those horribly uncomfortable days now and laugh, but back in August all I could manage to do in my spare time was pace the streets of Boston or sit by the ocean in between my legwork.

One day after writing and meditating at the beach, I was on my way to the library to do more work when the phone rang.  I never answer my phone while on the train, but for some reason I did.  It was a phone call about a work assignment for the following day.  Just when I had exhausted all of my worrying and felt like giving up, I saw a little bit of light.

Ever since that day, I have kept following the light.

Life may not unfold exactly how you expect, but that’s what is so exciting.  Living your authentic life for yourself- not for someone else- will lead you on the right path.  Keep shining… life will get brighter.  Enjoy the magic and surprises along the way!