Categories
self discovery

A Girl Finding Her Identity

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When I was young- probably 9 or so- my cousin called me selfish.  Yet to explore any sort of self discovery or identity, I was shocked.

This stuck with me for years, and later I began to show many behaviors that were selfish.  I continually told myself I was misunderstood, different, and unloved.  I began to doubt myself and who I was as a person.

Where did I fit in this world?

I faked sick on family holidays and refused to believe I belonged.  I detached from the people who loved me the most, unaware how important family and my roots were.  I was antisocial, confused, and misunderstood.  How could anyone understand me if I couldn’t even understand myself?

On a 9th grade trip to the Birch Run outlets with my mom, I remember picking out a sleek dark purple jacket at Ralph Lauren.  I felt like a star.

Upon returning to Traverse City, I pranced around downtown, running errands with my mom wearing my black Express pants, envisioning myself in a place like Chicago or even New York City.  I dreamed of being somewhere different- somewhere no one knew my name.

Somewhere along the way I started to identify as the “black sheep.”

I didn’t know who I was at age 15, but I was certain I didn’t belong in Michigan.

As I went on to college, making new friends and seeking the approval of fraternity boys (some of which I’m still friends with today), I was lost in a sea of vodka and $1 beer. I did whatever I could to find love, but most of all, acceptance.

My drinking began to get out of control, and so did my self respect.  After college, I moved in with an older boyfriend who I later got engaged to.  I thought this relationship would save me from the all-nighters and my bad behavior- which it did, for about a year.  Then, I gave back my Princess cut diamond and took off to San Francisco.

I did the cities- 7 in all.  I worked in fashion.  I considered law school.  I did the startup thing.  I had no idea what I wanted, so I kept running from myself- only to find myself right back where I came from 12 years later.

As an adult, I’m aware I’m still a little selfish- and now, it’s okay.  This kind of selfishness is self-care, which at the core isn’t selfish at all.

The difference today is that I know how to set boundaries, but also to welcome the love that surrounds me.  My identity was never lost- I needed to mistakes, try things out, and move around to truly learn who I am as a person- and that being myself was all I ever needed all along.

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Categories
mindfulness

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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When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens: Embracing Endless Opportunity (Even When You’re In Limbo)

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It’s funny how having faith in the unknown can be one of the most comforting feelings.  Even though it’s hard to be in “limbo,” having endless possibilities is both exciting and encouraging.

“The benefit of having little clue as to what is happening in one’s life is the possibility that something amazing is right around the corner.”

My friend Ashley tweeted this quote a few years ago, which has become my go-to any time I feel discouraged.  In the five years I’ve known Ashley, we’ve both moved states multiple times, switched cities, changed boyfriends, left jobs, started websites, and one of us was even on a TLC dating show.

Needless to say, both of us have had little clue as to what was going on in our lives.

I’ve written for Ashley’s website Kinda Kind for two years now, and I’m ever-so-grateful to her for providing a platform for me to segway into writing about mindfulness and self improvement.  Two months before my first Kinda Kind post I accidentally deleted my fashion blog; even though I have no idea how it happened (not to mention my initial mini meltdown), it was a breath of fresh air.  I was ready to get rid of my fashionista identity and wanted to start a writing career with substance.

It was also around that time in 2016 when I started to purge my possessions, focus on quality over quantity, and made meditation and mindfulness a top priority in my life.  2016 was an extremely rough year, but thanks to the struggles, I gained a whole new strength.  I had no idea that my challenges would result in a life of mindfulness and minimalism, but I’m sure glad it did.

Back in 2016, Ashley left San Francisco to move back to Chicago, and I left New York City- the place I thought was my heart- that July.  The year ended on a positive note with my move to Boston and a newfound optimism, faith, and zest for life.  I just knew there was something wonderful out there for me- and even though I didn’t know what it was, I was confident I would find it.

I’ve had a lot of changes since moving to Boston.  Over holiday break I started to re-think teaching, concerned about going a week without pay.  Although I adored it (with the exception of the biting and hitting), it was barely enough to cover my rent.  It’s a hard pill to swallow when you made 4X the money a decade ago, straight out of college.  I considered a part time job, but I knew it would be too stressful for me to manage it all.  So, with no idea what I would do, I continued to write, put in the legwork, and reach out to my connections.

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I’m proud of myself for how I handled my “limbo” phase.  Sure, I went hermit for a while and was a bit depressed, but I pulled myself out of it and re-gained my energy.

Once my energy was back it was time to start pounding the pavement.  Last Monday I spotted a post on Facebook from one of my San Francisco friends, looking for someone to hire for a part-time role.  It seemed perfect- an Austin-based fashion brand had a huge need for someone to help with messaging and customer communication.   By Thursday, I had a company email address and got started on my first projects.

It gets better.  The following day I met with a criminal defense law firm about a marketing and assistant role.  Some of you may know this, but most of you probably don’t- prior to marketing, I worked at a San Francisco law firm and studied for the LSAT.  On a warm spring day back in 2009 I walked over to the University of San Francisco to take the test- with absolutely no desire to actually go to law school.  I’m not sure what happened in those six months, but I was certain law school wasn’t in the cards.

Although I decided I didn’t want to be an attorney, I’ve always loved law firms.  I don’t know why- I think it partially has to do with the fact my father was a lawyer (I used to “help out” when I was a little tike), but also due the interesting nature of the cases.

Fast-forward to a week later, I officially have two jobs doing things I love, I’ll be working with great people, and will still have the time to write.  I couldn’t have planned this out more perfectly on my own, which just goes to show that worrying is a waste of time and energy.

It’s amazing what the Universe delivers when you have faith.  Ashley and I chatted about this the other day- now living in Los Angeles, she’s also looking for that “next step.”  As she grows her brand I offered to help in whatever way I can.  That said, I’m excited to share that I’ll be a regular contributor to Kinda Kind, focusing on self-improvement and relationships!  I’ll be sure to share the launch of the new website sections when they’re live.

I’m grateful to have someone in my life like Ashley.  She totally gets it when I share my life challenges- no judgement, no eye-rolls.  Both Capricorns yet free spirits, we have a million ideas in our heads, but sometimes it’s difficult to prioritize.  This is exactly why you just need to go with the flow of the Universe- one door may close, but there’s a shiny door waiting for you just down the road.  Trust me.

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Categories
mindfulness

Here’s To A Year

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It seems like yesterday I flew into Logan Airport for the very first time.  On that early December morning, I gazed out the window with excitement as the plane flew along the Atlantic coastline.  With three checked bags and pure faith, I had arrived to my new life.

Now what?  The possibilities were infinite.

I didn’t have money, a job, or an apartment prior to my arrival.  I did have help from my mother and a whole lot of optimism, though.  Unlike my moves in the past, I was starting over- no loose ends, no exes to bump into, no old haunts.  Boston was brand new.

I lined up an Airbnb for the first couple of weeks while I learned the area and looked for work.  On my first days I went into the city for job interviews, explored the waterfront, and visited the historic Freedom Trail.  There was a special feeling from the moment I landed; something felt right, like home.  I still don’t know why that is.  Although it’s been an amazing (and tough!) year, my journey has just begun.  I feel 100% more free, more alive, and finally, I feel at home.

I’ve been shedding who I was over the past 12 months and stepping into the person I was always meant to be.  Damn, it feels good!  When I start being hard on myself for where I am at, I have to remember that the past year was meant for healing, growth, and self discovery.

It’s been a joke among my friends, family, and acquaintances that I never stay in one place for too long.  That’s true; I didn’t in the past.  However, I don’t live for someone else’s expectations or concern myself with judgement.  As I looked all over the country to find myself, I finally stopped and began to look within; it only took me a lifetime to learn.

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I’ve always had a strong need to experience all life has to offer- “settling” has never been an option.  I’m always striving, always seeking.  Although my running streak was caused by a combination of a curious spirit and a tortured soul, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin ended up as one of my biggest gifts. Funny, right? Re-creating myself, meeting new people, and learning confidence for the first time seemed much easier than sitting still, surrounded by painful memories and old traumas.

So I set out to learn who I was- not what my hometown, my parents, my teachers, or my classmates said I was.  I had no idea who I really was when I finally left Michigan and moved to San Francisco in 2008.  Instead of looking at my trials and tribulations as failures or instability, I view the past decade as my time to live life to the fullest- before real obligations, like a mortgage or kids.

Not only can I look back without regrets, I was able to spend time living in great cities (San Francisco, Austin, Charlotte, New York, Chicago, Boston), meeting amazing people, trying out different types of work, and, of course, gathering endless stories along the way.  I don’t know how many women can say they lived in 6 major cities and 6 states in the period of nine years without having a steady job, income, or partner.  Perhaps I do have a nomadic soul… I can make a home anywhere I go.  Impermanence was ingrained in me from a young age.  Although I never saw a need to set up “roots,” these days I have been thinking differently. Something shifts when you’re at peace.  Now that I am happier within my soul, I feel I can finally stand still, relax, and make a physical home- not just the home I have inside myself.

I caught up the other day with a friend from my NYC era who has known my struggles… especially the ups and downs of my old Manhattan life.  He actually knew me before I moved to New York- he tweeted me after finding my old blog back in 2013.   This past evening we chatted about our new cities, healing gemstones (I wrote the jewelry descriptions for his website last year), and how we could work together again in the future.  After reflecting on how much our lives have changed these past four years, he told me how glad he is that I am finally happy.  I didn’t tell him that; he just knew.  The rat race is finally over, the mask is off.  I’ve let the past go and opened my arms to the future.  Although I can look back and laugh at my hot mess days, I know that this good life could easily be broken by no other than me if I begin thinking I don’t deserve happiness because of my past.

He shared one of the best messages I have heard in a while:

“It’s all about incremental freedoms; Letting yourself be free of your history while appreciating the journey.”
 
After years of living with guilt, regret, shame, and fear, I finally feel free- but I can still look back and have gratitude for where my past lead me today.
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Categories
mindfulness

Roll the Dice

It’s hard to believe I left NYC one year ago today.  I remember that morning well- I was half packed, nervous and defeated.  I had been staying at a friend’s house with air conditioning because my tiny bedroom was full of boxes, humid and cramped.  I needed to be around other people to keep my mind off the decision I had made- to trade in my dreams of the New York hustle to create a more mellow, mindful life.

Although it wasn’t easy, it was one of the best decisions I could have made.  You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming.  I had become cold and bitter, even when my work life was going well.  I vividly remember a hot afternoon walking down Fifth Avenue, pushing through people while trying to deposit a very nice paycheck into my bank account.  Money didn’t make me happy, nor did my surroundings.

I wanted peace.

Although I was able to find serenity in Central Park, along the Hudson River and at the New York Public Library, I stopped enjoying life day to day.  I figuratively “rolled the dice” and made the decision to leave.  It has been an interesting ride ever since that day in late July, and this morning I have been reflecting on how grateful I am and how far I have come.

I’ve never been nervous to make big decisions, but over the past year I have learned to focus on the moment and take life step by step.  Over the years I have continually looked at the “bigger picture,” not realizing that the simple choices I make in my day to day life can lead up to amazing things that I never would have pondered.  

My decision to move to Boston was one of the best I ever could have made.  It is the perfect balance between city life and mindful living; being along the ocean, the Charles River and lakes has brought me peace, while the opportunities I’ve been given have helped me practice living in the moment.

I’m still learning to slow down, focus on what I want, and let the universe do the rest.  If I am able to live in the moment, the fruits of my labor will be revealed in ways I couldn’t even imagine in my own mind- and I’m grateful to be present to notice them. 

Although I still hold New York near and dear to my heart, bigger, better, and faster isn’t something I need to implement in my daily life.  With a grateful heart, I’ll focus on the day, do the best I can and continue to live in the moment.  You never know when you’ll get lucky and roll a Yahtzee!