Right now is a huge opportunity for a collective shift.
Although much of the world is in panic, I see the Coronavirus as a chance for us to grow, evolve, and come together.
This isn’t a time to worry, turn against each other, lash out, or isolate. Consuming negative media, turning to bad habits, or regressing in your personal progress isn’t a solution during this uncertain time.
I’ve been doing what I can to connect with others (in a safe, virus-free way!) for the past four years now through writing on my blog and other websites. Since a lot of what I do is online, I’m a bit frightened by how uncomfortable American society is with idle time. Sitting still and learning to embrace the moment is such a gift!
Coronavirus will result in more creation and less consumption, I hope.
The only thing you can control is yourself, the light you shine, and the energy you put out into the world. As we reflect and retreat, think about how you can spread your light in your daily life.
Whether it’s an uplifting post or helping someone in need, these little things add up collectively.
An interesting trend I’ve noticed these past few months is how I’ve almost, like magic, repelled people who aren’t in alignment with me.
In years past, I attracted a variety pack of narcissists, fu*k boys, and energy vampires (often times rolled into one). I attracted men who wanted me to be their arm candy, mold me into a Stepford wife, and toss my opinions out the window.
Being me, I always resisted these efforts and would flee shortly after realizing the situation I was in.
As my energetic vibration rose and I let go of my old ideas of being unworthy, my confidence increased. I began to speak up without fear of being judged or misunderstood. I stopped worrying whether people would connect with what I was saying or what my values were and continued to live my life- which is how life is meant to be lived.
As I began to change, the people in my life did, too.
I stopped trying to connect with the people in my family who judged me. I didn’t look at them for validation any longer- and I stopped caring what my peers thought about me, too (not that I ever did).
My bonds either became closer or they fell away. Many people who used to know me no longer connected with me as they used to. Guys who ask me out to coffee drop me off at my front door without trying to come in.
At first, I wondered-
Is my haircut really that bad, or is it because my energy has radically changed?
Jokes aside, I know it’s not the hair.
A woman I met through work asked me if I was single about a month ago. I told her yes. Giddy, she exclaimed how I absolutely needed to meet her colleague. I agreed for her to pass along my info, and immediately, the guy found me on Facebook. A few days later, we met up.
The conversation was fine. I had a good time. However, I already knew he was the type of guy I used to go out with- the kind who flashed his smile and colorful socks as he stepped out of his Jaguar on his way to an advertising meeting. That guy. Not the kind of man I’ve been attracted to since going through my own awakening- he was the kind of guy fashion blogger in New York Kristin would have been seen out with at a West Village restaurant. Then again, I also hung out with artists who lived in their run-down Tribeca studios and out-of-work writers who drank with me during the early afternoon on the Upper West Side.
Needless to say, we didn’t talk after our date. When the woman who set us up saw me afterward, she busted through the door with apologies. “I am SO sorry about that date,” she expressed with sadness in her eyes. I blankly looked at her, smiled, and shook my head.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m used to city dating where you go out, have fun, and it isn’t a big thing. Don’t worry,” I said with a laugh.
Then, she exclaimed once again.
“He just doesn’t know what he wants!”
That’s what really got me. He doesn’t know what he wants?
I know what I want, though- and it isn’t him.
This double standard never fails to make me laugh. As much as I wanted to declare how shallow and materialistic this guy seemed, I didn’t. I just glanced at my boss, who quickly added, “sometimes people connect, and sometimes people don’t!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Obviously, it’s human nature to wonder “what did I do wrong?” In this instance, I simply couldn’t. That just would have been my ego. It’s too obvious that I’m seeking connections with more depth- and I’m not just looking for “a” partner. Despite what society says, I’ve never been convinced I am built for monogamy or a traditional lifestyle, but having friends and companions who fit into your life at different periods seems to make sense to me.
I’ve never been a fan of labels, yet I don’t think we are all built to partner with one person for life. I’ve made some amazing connections with men throughout the years, many of them people I wasn’t “in a relationship” with. It’s clear we had a relationship, though- just not one defined by society standards.
I may never be the woman who comes home to her husband and kids in the suburbs, but I do know I won’t settle for anything less than someone who connects with my spiritual side. After all, that’s the true Kristin- not the one who buys her identity and finds her value in money, things, and status.
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.
Nine years ago, I worked at a software company in San Francisco.
I got the job through a temp agency and quickly converted to a full time role I probably didn’t deserve. Being an office manager wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I did enjoy spending my time blogging, writing Yelp reviews (I had just become “Elite”), and gossiping with my friend Sonny about my dating and drinking life.
I lived for going out, meeting new people, networking, and documenting my adventures on the internet. I used Blogspot at the time, and I thought my mishaps were of the genius variety. I was certain there was more for me than a job at a front desk in SOMA, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.
So I went out. A lot.
To fill the work day, I obviously needed a work crush. When you’re 25, what job is complete without a work crush as a distraction? I vividly remember the cottonmouth feeling of arriving on Bagel Wednesday after a long night out in the marina with my friend Mary, sweating out vodka and maybe even tacos, preparing the breakfast delivery for a team of data security engineers and executives. I’d toast a bagel for myself, feeling partially sick as I swallowed my coffee, only to see him walk into the office kitchen.
I immediately became much too chatty, telling him all about my escapades and hinting at inviting him out with us. He was a gentleman- a Kennedy type from Austin with an MBA- and I was certain he would see past my childish antics, realizing I was a serious writer and potential rising entrepreneur. I mean, didn’t he see my Yelp reviews?
Nevertheless, I would go back to my desk, and Sonny would swing by and cheer me up. He, on the other hand, adored my drunken tales of Chestnut and Fillmore Street, Taco Tuesday at the Bluelight, and which Ivy League school my latest conquest was from.
“You have special powers,” he would say. “Men love you.” I was extremely pleased to hear this from a 40-something gay man.
“So why doesn’t he come out with me?” I asked Sonny. He just smiled.
“He’s far too vanilla for you.”
I had never heard this before.
2010 was the last year I thought my reckless drinking and behavior was somewhat normal. I was also in deep denial. However, Sonny’s comment struck a chord.
I may have entered the decade thinking there was something wrong with me; and there was. Obviously, the Kennedy-esque work crush wasn’t interested in a hard partying 25 year old. Nevertheless, thanks to Sonny, I discovered that maybe he wasn’t what I wanted, either.
I may not drink or go out looking for men these days, but I will never lose my quirks. They’re what makes me me.
I entered the decade thinking I needed to change for other people, but I’m leaving it knowing that the only person I needed to change for was myself- and no matter what I became, vanilla wasn’t meant for me.
I am definitely more of the Superman or Neapolitan variety.
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.
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…