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.
I’ve been a girlie girl for as long as I can remember.
In fact, I was a girlie girl before I was even conscious of the sunglasses on my face or the ruffles on my clothes. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree- as I get older, I’ve noticed I am becoming more and more like the ladiest of ladies- my mother.
Although I’ve always been known to have a dry wit, a lot of guy friends, and would be more likely found at a sports bar than dancing at a club, I would never, ever, put down my lipstick, listen to a guy advise me on what to wear, or stop shaving my legs in the winter.
Why on earth do women think they need a man to take care of themselves?
It’s so, so ridiculous.
I don’t know about you, but I do everything I do for me.
Over the years my boyfriends have tried and tell me not to wear makeup. They’ve encouraged me to put on a pair of jeans and ditch the dress, to stop wearing the big sunglasses, to grow out my hair, and to take off my lipgloss. They’ve told me to dress sexy, they’ve told me to stay in sweatpants, and hell, they’ve even told me what they wanted their ex-girlfriends to wear.
And you know what? I kept doing what I wanted to do.
I will never cease to roll my eyes at any magazine or propaganda that informs women how to please their man, dress for their man, or attract more men. You know what I have to say to that? Be your damn self, because that’s how you’ll attract the right man.
I know what you’re thinking, “this girl is single- what does she know?” Well, I’m the one who called off a wedding ten years ago, has lived with three men over the course of my life, and I’ve always been the one to leave. I don’t stick around for the stifling- I would much rather be free than “taken care of.” I’ll be on my own unless I meet a man who embraces my girliness, loves my lipstick, and encourages me to be me.
I suppose I just can’t come to terms with women who don’t want to do things for themselves. Being a girlie girl doesn’t make you weak, being graceful doesn’t make you any less powerful, and embracing your femininity doesn’t mean a man can walk all over you.
Being female is a superpower.
So, take your power back.
My wish is for women to stop putting so much weight on men’s opinions and how it makes them think of themselves. I don’t want to hear about women changing their clothes because of a man’s opinion, memes complaining about having to take care of yourself because of a date, or hear that my friends acted like this. No. Just no.
Shave your damn legs for yourselves, ladies. Trust me, it feels great.
Well, I’ve officially kept a plant alive for over a year now.
It’s pretty hard to believe.
I’ve fondly written about my peace lily, a little gem I picked up when I worked at One International. I initially bought the lily for my desk, but since then, it’s seen three apartments, survived public transit on multiple occasions, and has been brought back to life several times.
She’s a little champ.
So, knowing that I can successfully care for a plant (first a plant, then a pet, they say…), I decided to get another one. This actually wasn’t my idea- my mom mentioned it when I showed her a picture of a new trash can I bought to match my soap dispenser and comforter. Of course, I need to find something cute to do with a trash can, right?
I entertained her by putting my peace lily in the trash can (that sounds terrible), but we agreed it needed something taller. I continued to use the trash can as a, well, trash can, until last night- when I spotted a lonely lily at CVS.
Leave it to me to find the lone plant marked at 25% off. Dry and looking sad, I picked up the lily without question and headed to check out, along with my red lipstick, face masks, and popcorn. Hey, it was Friday night- and Friday nights are meant for vegging out.
Once I got home, I put everything away, gave my new lily some water, and set her in her new home. It was perfect! I read up on Easter Lilies and learned they’re known as joyful symbols of elegance, beauty, spirituality, hope, and life. How appropriate.
Even if we’re lost and lonely somewhere, there’s a place we will fit- and I feel that way about Boston. I’ve not only found myself, but I’ve started to be able to care for other things, too- and I have my two lilies to prove it.
Although I am still learning to adult with balance and grace, an important thought came to mind: not only do I need to practice self-care on a regular basis, I need to care for my inner child, too.
We forget to nurture the small people we once were and can be unforgiving to ourselves for the past. Why are we so hard on ourselves for situations beyond our control? Why do we push our own nurturing aside? Our childhood is our foundation, yet many of us have histories of traumatic events which can follow us throughout our entire lives- if we let them.
I grew up with a wonderful mother next door to my grandparents. I lived for art and nature, drawing and creating, but I was scared of the people around me. I didn’t know what being an empath was back then, but I did know that being around a lot of people was overwhelming. I always felt different but I didn’t know why. Since I didn’t have many role models or siblings to shape my social habits, I lived with constant anxiety until I began to align with other creative people who understood me.
Getting bullied was something I lived with for many years. One of my memories (which may explain my lifelong distaste for people in groups) was being bullied by several girls back in elementary school. I was quiet and shy; an easy target. They would usually strike on the bus where I was trapped and couldn’t go anywhere, but sometimes they’d follow me around at recess, too. Recess was already traumatizing for me since I was terrible at sports- you’d find me on the swings.
Flashbacks of the bullying would always come back subconsciously when meeting new people or making friends. In the back of my mind, I questioned my worthiness or value. In a small town, “different” is one of the worst things you can be, so I stayed quiet and avoided conflict. After college I moved to a big city, far away, where I could be whoever I wanted- I could hide, or I could shine. In San Francisco, nobody cared what I street I grew up on in Michigan or whether or not I was “popular.” I didn’t know anyone from my hometown out west, which is exactly how I liked it. I was new.
San Francisco is where I started my cycle of running. For nine years, I perpetually ran away, moved, or changed things because I was scared of letting people get to know who I truly was. I was scared of abandonment, criticism, or failure, so I would be the one to leave. I was scared of my mistakes.
It may have taken me 30-some years, but now I finally know it is safe to stand still.
I used to think I could run away and ignore my problems, but that only made life more difficult.
Once I moved to Boston I knew that I would always be the same person until I made a change inside my soul. Geographic cures and avoidance no longer worked: I had to face those bullies and demons… but more importantly, I had to face myself.
I didn’t realize how tightly I was still holding on to that timid, insecure girl. Nearly a year later, I have forgiven those who hurt me, from family to perfect strangers, but I have also forgiven myself, too. I am also learning to show compassion toward my inner child- she did her best for living without a solid foundation for many years.
My sensitivity and intuitive nature used to feel like a burden, it now they feel like of my greatest gifts. I am grateful for each and every experience, from the mistakes to the pain. Every road has lead me to where I am now: a place where I am comfortable sharing what I have been through, who I am, and knowing what I want.
Today, being vulnerable isn’t so scary. It’s my power.