Categories
empowerment self discovery

The Day I Found My Freedom

I’ll never forget the feeling I had that March afternoon in San Francisco.

I was just dropped off at SFO, heading to my gate for my return flight to Michigan.  Tears in my eyes, I got out my phone to call my parents.

“I don’t want to go back,” I declared. “I’m going to call off the wedding.”

It was 2008, and I had been engaged for exactly seven months.  Although the engagement was quick, and I thought I was happy at the time, it didn’t take long for me to see the reality before my very eyes.

The day in, the day out.  The daily traffic into my corporate job.  Coming home to the same routine, every day, to the same person- at 23 years old.

I knew it wasn’t the life for me.  Two years earlier I had plans to move to New York City as soon as I graduated.  I didn’t expect to meet someone later that year, on my 22nd birthday on December 22nd, who would swoop me off to Kauai for Valentine’s Day and move me into their beautiful suburban house once I finished college.  I’ve always been a big believer in signs, so I thought, “maybe I’m not supposed to go to New York after all.”  There had to be a bigger reason for meeting this person on such a significant day to me.

Back in 2006, my partying was getting out of control despite my grand plans for finishing school and heading to the city.  At the time, it seemed like he was an angel saving me from myself.

I would later learn no one could save me but me.

When I told my father, he thought I was insane.  Of course, any father wants their daughter be taken care of and to have a good life.  A good life to me looked a bit different than my parents’ view, though.

The day before my flight, my half sister (who worked in SF at the time) and I talked about my relationship and my goals for life.  Before I even realized it, she knew the marriage wouldn’t work.  She challenged my views and helped me realize I should take some time to reconsider.  She helped me think differently about what I really wanted- because for over a year, someone else was trying to make all my decisions for me.

Little Italy, 2008

As the plane took off, I thought about how I would wait a couple of weeks before telling my fiancé I didn’t want to get married.  I thought about what types of jobs I could apply to in San Francisco, where I would live, and who I could become.  I daydreamed of freedom, making new friends, and exploring the magical, quirky sights of the city.  My gut told me moving was the right thing to do- and from the moment my fiancé greeted me at the gate, I knew it was over.

I didn’t wait two weeks.

I told him right away.

Of course, he tried to convince me it was a phase and how my sister was envious of me. He attempted to tell me I didn’t know what I was doing and how I was meant to be with him. All of his efforts to control me- from my diet to physical activities to what I wore- filled my brain, and I no longer felt sorry for him.

I began to have a deeper compassion for myself.

For the next week I stayed on a friend’s couch, who took a day off work with me to pack up my things.  I left my princess cut diamond on the dresser, leaving behind all the furniture I helped buy with my graduation money.  No physical object was worth sacrificing my dreams- or my future.

Who knows what would have happened had I not taken that trip to see my sister in 2008. Perhaps the wedding would have happened, and maybe I would be divorced now.  We will never know.  However, despite the judgment I received from others, I knew deep in my heart that I was making the right choice.  I knew, at 23, that I didn’t want to take the easy way out and allow the wrong man to take care of me.  I simply refused to do that.

I would have to spread my wings and fly.

I would have to make mistakes on my own.

I would somehow, someway, succeed- and despite the failures, I would learn from them- because I finally had my freedom.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do know I will never have to mourn the chances I didn’t take.  It’s been nearly 12 years since I took the leap, quit my job, and blindly moved to an apartment on California and Commonwealth Avenue.  Over the course of those 12 years, I’ve lived in a dozen more apartments, several other cities, and did eventually move to New York…

All because I chose freedom.

Categories
mindfulness 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
mindfulness

“We Don’t Have to Agree On Anything to Be Kind to One Another”

Right when I needed it, I received the perfect comment on a post from earlier today.  A dear friend- the friend who was right there for me every step of the way during my dark period in October 2016 (right before I came to Boston)- said:

“Ask yourself, ‘what would love do?’ Then do that.”

Ah, yes.  Another perfect message at the perfect time.

This reminds me of “turning the other cheek.”  Having compassion- even when others have hurt or wronged you- is one of the first steps to true freedom.  Sure, sometimes it feels good to hold onto bitterness, anger, or resentment- but who is that really hurting?

When you can act with love, your entire life turns around.  I’m not saying the other party will reciprocate the same kindness, but that doesn’t matter.  This is about setting you free.

However, I am confident that person will remember your kindness.

And maybe, just maybe, they will even follow your example one day. 💞

for maddie 💞

Categories
conscious living mindfulness

Where To Meditate? Controlling Your Thoughts Any Time, Any Place

Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇸 As I sit by the Mystic River this morning, it makes me think about freedom, and what being free means to me.

I noticed a fish swimming near the top of the water, flipping about and gliding with the current. This fish made me smile, and reminded me of going with the flow, awareness, and shifting your state of consciousness.

Although our brains are often programmed to look out for ourselves or to seek instant gratification for selfish reasons, we can shift our outlook by coming back to center. When we allow our energy to relax, pause, and connect with something bigger than us, magical things happen.

As humans, it’s easy to forget we are all connected- from the fish in the river to the stranger walking down the street. Everyone and everything in your life happens for a reason, as Mother Earth and the Divine do have a grand plan for us all. Each roadblock and challenge provides a lesson in our lives, but sometimes it takes “coming back to center” to understand why.

✨✨

People often ask me about my meditation practice. It’s common for me to hear that they have a difficult time calming down their thoughts; “I can’t meditate,” “it’s boring,” or “I can’t control my thoughts” is the typical feedback I receive.

My answer to all three of those comments is simple:

Meditation takes practice!

When I first started to meditate, I went in with the wrong perspective- I thought I needed to completely sit still and try not to think. Sure, that is an element, but this is what I missed:

To begin meditation, follow your breath, and then focus on each point of your body- from head to toe.

This relaxes both the body and mind, causing a sense of peace and often times, “the tingles.” Guided meditations and body scans were extremely beneficial for me to learn how to train my brain to get into a meditative state, and now I prefer not to be guided. We all have the power within ourselves. After a lot of practice, I am able to control my thoughts thanks to breathwork anywhere- from a cushion on my bedroom floor to the New York City subway.

It’s taken some practice to get where I’m at now, but it’s gotten easier and easier along the way. With a few tools, it will soon be a breeze for you, too!

Here are a few of my favorite places to meditate, which is proof that there is something to suit everyone’s lifestyle!

Outside

There’s nothing quite like meditating in the great outdoors. Not only is it peaceful, but the actual act of grounding is powerful for connecting you to nature and source. I enjoy waking up and immediately going to the Mystic River, the park, or my front porch to connect and recharge. The added bonus is the warm breeze, the birds chirping, and the soothing sounds of nature; voices may enter in and out of your brain, but let those voices go- for this is your time.

Public Places

This seems impossible, doesn’t it? Not at all! I first began meditating on the bus and trains when I began to feel anxious among the crowd. As an empath, I pick up the energies around me, which can sometimes lead to angst or even a panic attack. I remember the very first time I simply closed my eyes, relaxed, and started to focus on my breath while sitting on the Boston red line. As soon as I was able to let go of my thoughts, my outlook on the day completely changed. I was able to arrive at my destination relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready for the day.

At Home

Settling in on a cozy cushion or laying down at home is a wonderful way to meditate. My room is my sanctuary; spending time in what I have created for myself has also been a great practice in gratitude. Your outside can reflect your internal condition, so it’s important to maintain a clean, zen space as much as possible. From protective crystals to sage, I have various tools to assist me in my practice to both cleanse and boost my energy.

Group Meditations

When I lived in Astoria, Queens, I went to a guided group meditation with a wonderful woman named Nilcee. This was my very first experience with a “body scan.” Being guided by a calming voice helps you focus on each energy point in your body, becoming conscious of area of tension. By relaxing the body, you’re also training yourself to relax the mind.

If you’re in NYC, I highly recommend her Tuesday night meditations! I am happy to share more information if so.

Running and Exercise

Although some people say they’re unable to meditate, they have mentioned how they are able to get into a peaceful state while running or exercising. That, my friend, is meditating! Although the physical act is different, the benefits and conscious state are the same. In your own little world, you’re able to let go of your daily concerns and return to center- which is crucial for our everyday happiness.

I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July, no matter how you spend it. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, may it be this:

We all have the ability to be free like the fish, for true freedom comes from within.

We overcomplicate our lives to the point of worry, fear, and hopelessness, so my intention is to bring light to those who don’t know an alternative way to live. We, as humans, are free to control our thoughts, our reality, and our future. It just takes a little practice. 💫🐟

You can see the fish for yourself on my Instagram stories.

Categories
mindfulness

On the Cusp- Who I Was, Who I Am

June 5th, 2014 (four years ago today!)- the day of my blonde chop.

This morning I looked at my horoscope- the Sagittarius one– as I’ve always felt much more like an archer than the goat.  Although I’m born on the cusp of Sagittarius and Capricorn, sometimes I wonder, “how could anyone consider me grounded!?”

One may say my head is often in the clouds and I have a relentless need for freedom, change, and adventure, but most wouldn’t consider me calm or cautious, like a Capricorn.  That said, I turned to my “Sag ‘scope” of the day:

“A sense of dissatisfaction that has been dogging you for quite some time now will at last begin to fade. You will instinctively know that you have found your niche in life and can follow your calling to achieve your dreams. You will be able to understand what changes must be implemented to make your health as well as your work much better.”

Spot-on.

This brings me to a common theme (or struggle): identity.

Although my haircut is the same as it was four years ago, I’ve spent a lot of these four years questioning who I am.

Have I been who I wanted to be? Or have I been listening too closely to what others have said?

I’ve lived a few different places, dated different people, worked different jobs; but none of things things have made up who I am.  Wherever you go, there you are– no matter what is stripped from you, whatever title you have, or whoever is by your side.  You always have YOU.

So, what do they have to say about Sagittarius, anyway?

Strengths: Generous, idealistic, great sense of humor

Weaknesses: Promises more than can deliver, very impatient, will say anything no matter how undiplomatic

Sagittarius likes: Freedom, travel, philosophy, being outdoors

Sagittarius dislikes: Clingy people, being constrained, off-the-wall theories, details

“Curious and energetic, Sagittarius is one of the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. Their open mind and philosophical view motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life.”

Fitting.

“Freedom is their greatest treasure, because only then they can freely travel and explore different cultures and philosophies. Because of their honesty, Sagittarius-born are often impatient and tactless when they need to say or do something, so it’s important to learn to express themselves in a tolerant and socially acceptable way.”

Although I can 100% identify with the Sagittarius theme, it makes me wonder, “am I stuck in the clouds?  Do I need to be brought back down to earth?

So, I looked back at the blog posts from the past few days, and came to this conclusion:

My theme for June: grounding. 🙏🏻

What does that mean?  Well, it means quite a bit.  For me, the first things that come to mind would be to get out in nature, turn off the phone, meditate, read, relax, and most of all: sit still!  I often think my way into problems, or over-think the world around me. This has not only caused me anxiety, but has held me back from being my true self.

Once you re-center and become one with yourself, feeling comfortable in your own skin, you are limitless- no matter what your sign.

Although I’ll never back down from my adventure-seeking, curious nature, maybe I can stand to embody a little bit of my sea goat, after all. ✨

June 5, 2018- a little older, a little wiser, and maybe (just maybe), a little more grounded.