Free to Be: Going On Your Own Path

There comes a day when you stop letting the outside world trick you into thinking there is only one way to life, security, happiness, and success.

~

A lovely friend of mine, a neurologist in Cambridge, described the city perfectly to me once:

“Cambridge: where everyone thinks they’re a ‘renegade.'”

I had only been in Boston for a few months, so I hadn’t yet gotten an impression of the people or the culture.  However, I liked this idea, and I certainly loved Cambridge.

Although I used to wish I had taken a traditional path (or at least a “laid out” one) I realize now through listening to others that it wouldn’t have been right for me.  I have spent the past 11 years trying to “fit” the mold; city to city, job to job, relationship to relationship.  It was a struggle trying to fit this square peg in a round hole.

I had simply assumed by speaking with her, the grounded and successful woman she is, that she must have had an easier path than mine. That things came naturally to her.  That she followed her heart when making her career choice.  However, upon knowing her better, I learned that it wasn’t her choice to become a doctor; it was her father’s.

I met this woman April of 2017, and she played an instrumental role helping me learn I am enough.  She said to me, over and over, that I am fine just as I am.

I didn’t realize what she meant until now.

As my life came together, fell apart, and came back together time and time again back in the summer of 2017, my friend Nicoline (who I just visited in NYC) also reminded me of how strong I am.  Although I felt hopeless at times, she saw the light in me.  She recognized my strengths.  She helped me see my own light; and in turn, I have been able to do the same for her.

It’s interesting how we can get down on ourselves so easily, yet we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Now, let’s go back to the idea of a “renegade.”

This made me laugh.

However, much of our society blindly follows the unwritten rules the “patriarchy” laid out years ago, without question.

I can’t imagine living an existence where I don’t question these rules.

As I began to step into my authentic self, I stood up to “the man.” I have ignored their sexist comments. I have ignored people telling me I can’t do things. I have been independent.

Perhaps this does make me a “renegade.”

Over the years I thought about what society wanted me to do; or at least, what those around me expected.  I thought that if I got an advanced degree, a certain job, or had impressive credentials, I would please others.

But why did I care about pleasing the patriarchy?

I wasn’t pleasing myself.

As I have let the ideas of what other people “expect” from me, I realize that I wasn’t doing anyone any good.  I wasn’t happy in relationships or jobs where I couldn’t be myself.  I wasn’t succeeding in roles that didn’t align with my talents.  I felt anxiety in environments I forced myself to be in.

As my spiritual practice and confidence grows, the more I realize that manmade rules are simply tricks to give others power.

We have all the power we need within ourselves.

The more fearlessly honest I am, the more gifts have appeared in my life.  I’ve been published in places I never dreamed to see my work, I’ve received heartfelt letters from readers who didn’t know who else to turn to, and I’ve gotten the opportunity (and blessing) to find inner peace, joy, and empowerment through my authenticity.

I used to water down my personality to “fit in.”  That didn’t serve anyone.  Today, I refuse to play a role in society; I will live my truth.

I came to this earth for a reason; and that reason wasn’t to follow the patriarchy, let someone scare me into doing things their way, or let others take my power.

My reason was to help others realize they, too, can fearlessly spread their wings and fly.

So, that is what I will continue to do. ✨

Living in Color

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A photo popped up on Facebook from a feature I was in on the former StyleList.com.  Four years ago, in the height of my fashion blogger days, I was getting ready for my move to New York City.  I had just escaped a bad relationship, where I had split my time between Traverse City, Charlotte, and San Francisco.  Off to New York, I would go- I would start fresh, and my dreams would come true.

Or so I hoped.

Bright eyed in a midi skirt with a fresh new bob, this girl was off to her new life on the Upper West Side.  Little did she know what was in store for her over the course of the next three years, though.

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Flashback Friday. Pacific Heights, 2014

2014 was a magical year.  Despite the challenges, the heartbreak, and the transitions- it was exciting.  It was full of life.  New York had yet to make me jaded, and my eyes were open to every possibility.  Maybe too many possibilities!

Lately I’ve been getting back into that old mindset though- the mindset of living life with excitement.  Viewing it as one big story.  A big fairytale… where anything can happen.

The mindset of living life in color.

I’ve been stuck in black and white for so long that I almost forgot about the pinks and the reds.  The yellow of the sun and the orange of my favorite baseball team. The bright opal sky on a warm spring night and the greens of the forest.

So that’s where I’m going to pick back up again- in color.  Back to that girl in 2014 who was packing up three dozen boxes of clothes (no exaggeration) and accessories before shipping them to an uptown apartment she had never seen or been to before.  Who got on that plane on a warm June day, on her way to a brand new life.  That girl who walked into restaurants alone, ordered an Eggs Benedict, and would meet a cute stranger (true story).

That girl who was fearless.

Never, ever let anyone break you.  Take the challenges as opportunities to grow even stronger, and instead of looking back with regret, be grateful for the ones who have made you tough.

You deserve to live in color.

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Giving Too Many F’s

Tonight I have Book Club- the first Book Club of my life that I willingly decided to go to.

My friend and old roommate, Brenda, coordinates a monthly gathering with a group of her friends.  Like any book club, they chat about life, nibble on snacks, and discuss the book, of course.  Last year, when I was still new to Boston, I was hesitant to join groups or get involved with activities while I was “figuring things out.”  It took me a long time to feel like meeting new people; it’s never fun to chat with a group of seemingly together human beings, all while thinking, “what the hell am I doing with my life?”

A year has gone by and I’ve been feeling better than ever.  Honestly, too- no more putting on a happy face for the sake of appeasing others.  I’m no longer insecure about where my life is headed, and I’m no longer shy about expressing what I want out of life- even when it’s drastically different than the norm.  As I meet new people, my honesty gets bolder and bolder, and like Brenda would say, “there’s no such thing as too much information.”

That brings me to the book of the month: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.”

Now, what does this have to do with me and my sudden change of heart about Book Club?

Everything.

When I moved to Boston I gave too many fucks.  Too many f’s about what people thought about me, too many f’s about whether I was happy with my job or not, too many f’s about whether I should go out with that guy on Tinder.  I gave too many f’s about whether or not my family approved of me, about the things I did when I drank, how I looked in that picture someone posted on Facebook, or whether or not the blacks in my outfit matched close enough.

I gave too many fucks about everything.

When I started this blog, I didn’t have much.  I didn’t have the job I have now, the apartment, the friends, or the peace of mind.  But I did have one thing- fearlessness.

I had enough ups and downs, mistakes, failures, and embarrassing moments to be shamelessly vulnerable.  So, with three packed bags and nothing to lose, Mindful in Style was born in my little Airbnb.

A couple of days later, I got my first job in Boston and met Brenda.

It didn’t take me long to get back on my feet, but it definitely took some time to feel comfortable in my own skin, even though I was putting my heart and soul into my blog.  I still questioned myself as I pressed “publish” and second guessed myself quite often along the way- but I kept writing.

But today, I really don’t give a F what other people have to say.

Things will fall into place no matter what- the difference is, how are you reacting to life in the meantime?  Are you giving too many F’s and putting your energy toward things that don’t really matter?  Are you following the crowd even though it doesn’t make your heart happy? Are you worrying for the sake of worrying? 

Needless to say, things in my life have changed a lot- but it began with my mindset.  Would life be as great today if I had continued to give too many F’s?  Nope,  I don’t think they would be.

So tonight I’ll head back to my first Boston home- The Nest- and share my own experience with giving too many fucks, fearlessness, and the power of vulnerability.  Today, I’m no longer shy to share my experience with new people; in fact, I am excited see who connects with my story.  Book club is no longer something to avoid, but something to embrace- just like my own vulnerability.

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In other news, it’s the Red Sox Opening Day! I’m wearing my Sox gear to work to support The Jimmy Fund.  I may be a Giants fan, but I still can love the Sox (and why would anyone give a F? 😉 ).