Comparing Yourself To Others (Or, It’s Funny You Think That I Know What To Say.)

Comparing Yourself To Others (Or, It’s Funny You Think That I Know What To Say.)

Community Motivation + Inspiration

Recent Question: “Katie, as someone who writes as a profession…do you ever sit down some days and feel like you don’t have anything to say?”

Recent Answer: “LOL. Try almost EVERY WEEK.”

 

The comparison trap – ie comparing yourself to others – is one I know well. When I’m feeling good, I can look at comparison and self-doubt and see how pointless and counter-productive it is.

But when I’m in it? On my best days, it takes a lot of work to talk myself out of that place of “what do I even have to say.”

On all the other days, I completely check out.

There’s not really a middle ground: I’m either aggressively talking myself out of self-doubt or I’m voting myself off the island by not doing ANYTHING whatsoever. I think maybe it’s because I know how exhausting the pep-talk can be.

~

Doubt-induced inaction is a frightening place to be. You stop creating, stop participating, stop BE-ing who you are because you look out and don’t know if you really add value to what you see. And that fear isn’t fun, so a lot of times we’ll just decide we don’t want to deal.

The thing with checking out, however, is that our feelings of doubt, envy, and fear are still lighting up a big ol neon NO VACANCY sign in our minds. We might be dissociating mentally…but those doubts and fears are growing like weeds in the meantime. No wonder we feel anxious when we’re triggered and lash out at other or push the blame on something else – those overflowing feelings have to go SOMEWHERE.

For me, this happens when I sit down and think of the MASSIVE PROBLEMS I care about and how the hell I’m going to help fix them…and then for some reason I think it’s a really good idea to just go down a big long rabbit hole and see what everyone else is doing.

You know.

“For inspiration.”

Lol again.

I’ll save you some frustration and let you know that comparing yourself to others and looking to them to inform what you “should” be doing pretty much never works. You either end up feeling like everything has already been done OR start comparing what you do/who you are to everyone else OR maybe on the off-chance you actually get inspired you make like me and tell yourself you’re not allowed to be inspired by someone else’s work because that’s being something that’s way too close to a copycat. Yeah. You read that right. I look at others for inspiration and then talk myself out of it when I actually get inspired.

The thing is, I KNOW I’m not a brain-box of empty thoughts. I KNOW I have something to say…it’s just that my intentions don’t always line up so nicely in sentences. Sometimes I have just the right words…and sometimes, the above box of vintage Scrabble letters is my spirit animal. Somewhere between my brain and my lips (or fingers, if we’re going the writing route), the lines get all crossed and I end up with a bunch of gibberish. Worse than gibberish. What’s worse than gibberish, you ask? Fake wisdom. Fake fake fake. I can feel it in my bones. Nothing sounds right; nothing is what I really mean.

And that…that can SCARE THE F outta me if I let it. Because then I start to doubt I have anything new or interesting to say, and then I start looking at what everyone else is doing, and then I wonder if what we REALLY need is just another essay, just another tip or trick, just another podcast episode.

And that’s when I check out. Except you can’t check out when it’s your job, your calling, your through line to stay in it. So all that happens is that my anxiety mounts and my points of comparison multiply.

~

What helps me is to identify when I am most likely to get into this shithole of a headspace.

It’s usually when I’m home sick, when I need to take it easy, when I’m bored with the status-quo I’m stuck in…basically, whenever I am NOT acting on my desire, either by choice (laziness) or necessity (circumstance), to do one of three things: move, learn, or create. And when I am not acting on my desire to move, explore, or create, I get out of integrity* with what I say I value or what I know I care about.

(*Integrity, for the record, is different than character or values. Character or values are your ethical/moral code. Integrity is adhering to that code. So if I’m out of integrity with my values, I’m thinking a lot about things like gender equality, reprogramming self talk – i know, ironic – race relations, teaching empathy, etc etc etc, but not DOING anything about them. Doing things like exercising, reading, or journaling help me get back in alignment with who I am and what I stand for.)

That’s not to say a run or watching a documentary or painting a picture (or a table, as I did last weekend) can or will fix everything. But little by little, it can be the start. One walk around the block might not seem like much, but after a few days of walks you might find your mind drifting off into places it hasn’t been in a while. Reading one night a week instead of scrolling through Instagram might not stop the comparison (and oh, does that Insta-comparison sting), but once you get in the groove, it just seems way more interesting to feed your mind than it does to feed your fears.

 

But also…and here’s where it gets really real…it’s not just when I’m home sick or I’m stuck in a loop of sameness that I doubt my value.

It’s when I find myself trying so hard to explain myself over…and over…and over to those I love most.

That’s when I really want to check out.

 

And that’s a harder one to admit. Because it can’t be solved by the habit a run every morning or a doodle-in-your-notebook break. Because it doesn’t just make you feel like you have nothing important to say, it makes you feel like the things you DO have to say are wildly inefficient. If I can’t get through to them, then who CAN I reach?


But here’s the thing.

And I want you to read this a few times over and let it sit.

 

Those are not the people who need to learn the lessons you have to give.

 

They are here to learn those lessons on their OWN time, from someone ELSE and some OTHER experience. And just because your words aren’t the ones they need DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE NOT IMPORTANT.

Just because your words aren't the ones someone else needs doesn't mean they're not important. Click To Tweet

Someone once told me that public speaking is 10% what you say and 90% how you say it. Just because it’s been said doesn’t mean it’s been said by YOU. That’s how people actually hear things – when they’re being said by someone who makes it “click” for them. You can’t get mad at it, because it was never your lesson to teach those people to begin with. That’s why comparing yourself to others never works – they’re here to teach and learn in ways that are entirely different than your own. We’re all here to learn the exact same lessons, just not at the exact same times. So wouldn’t it make sense that we all have a different way of giving and receiving these universal truths?

Of course you have something to offer. Of course you have something to say. We ALL do. That’s what we’re here for, right? To teach each other and help each other grow. Just the fact that your ideas exist means they’re just as valid as what that best-selling author has to say – just the FACT that your loved ones learn from others MEANS that YOU are here to teach someone ELSE. The comparison traps and the deaf ears – they’re all just distractions that, when flipped on their head, can help you see how strong your voice really is.

So do I ever sit down and feel like I have nothing to say? The answer is: all of the time.

But my logical brain knows I DO have something to say – a lot of somethings, in fact. And if I can just *be* with myself long enough to listen, I’ll eventually start to find the words.

 

 

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Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I have a friend whose primary language has always been sarcasm. She’s always making a joke of sorts, always deadpanning her way through her day. Yet something has shifted in the last year: where she once would use her wit to mask her emotions, she is now listening more acutely, responding more personally, and opening up to others about how she feels – even if she doesn’t know why she feels the way she does.

What’s pretty incredible to watch is how this has caused a domino effect in her life. The “friendly”-ships she’s had, with me and with others, have started to turn into deep, personal, soul-ie bonds. Negativity doesn’t hijack her conversations anymore. Her sleep has gotten better. She’s mindful of her triggers and has left her “victim” mentality behind. She’s glowing like I’ve never seen her glow.

My friend has always had a bold, infectious personality and has always been one to speak her mind. But as I watch her navigate through her day-to-day interactions with the world around her, I realize what’s different: she is finally speaking her heart, too.

~

To speak your heart is your right, but also your blessing. We are all blessed with the capacity to feel an entire spectrum of emotions and formulate all kinds of opinions and, moreover, questions, based on those emotions.

 

So why is it that with this incredible blessing, so often we stay silent?

Why are we so afraid to be ourselves – all of ourselves?

 

Sometimes we feel so alone in our thought processes that it seems wrong to speak our heart. To “talk deep,” as some call it. There’s this notion that expressing thoughts, feelings, opinions, and questions of an empathetic, introspective nature is embarrassing and makes us vulnerable. And vulnerable, we’ve been taught, is being susceptible to danger; either physical or emotional attack or harm. I just looked it up to be sure – yup, you can thank Merriam-Webster for our warped relationship with the V word.

This perception is left over from our childhood, middle school, and high school years: the perception that speaking our hearts, being authentic and unique, and letting others know how we feel is a sign of weakness and just another chance to be teased or ostracized.

And so we stay silent. Of course we feel alone – we don’t have any proof otherwise.

“Mean Girls” don’t just exist in the 18-and-under set; they follow us throughout our young adulthood and into our lives. ADULT judgement and gossip, we forget, both have the exact same roots as their childhood origin: insecurity, myopia and a strong desire to remain top dog at any cost.

And yet with that desire to Top-Dog’it comes a loneliness; an emptiness, lack of connection, and a distance between the person we project on the outside and the person we are (or long to be) inside. It drives us farther when all we truly want is to get closer. We begin to say we don’t care. We make “Whatever” or “Screw them” or “I don’t give a fuck” the catch phrase that we tell everyone.

But the irony is that we do care. So. Much. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck – no woman is that cool – she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck-she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up. - @GlennonDoyle Click To Tweet

We all have the capability to become that person. That woman who is burning inside with her hot vulnerability she’s locked up for no one to see. What ensures we don’t is how authentically we let our heart live out in the open…and (and!) with how much compassion we approach those who haven’t quite gotten there yet. Because the more we see others thrive in a space of authentic truth, the safer it can seem to follow suit.

Vulnerability, at its core, is nothing more than honesty. Vulnerable is being truthful; saying I am raw, I am flawed, I am crazed, I am bare, I am on a journey and I am urging you to join me. Yet this idea of vulnerability is so often met with trepidation. Can I be vulnerable? Should I be vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean I’m in harm’s way? Because true vulnerability isn’t just expressing joy or loving feelings. Vulnerability also means looking inside to find the cause instead of looking outside to fix the symptoms. And who knows what causes lurk beneath the surface…

Dr. Seuss got it mostly right when he said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I’d like to add: Those who mind – the Mean Girls of our adulthood – probably feel envious that you have the self awareness to be honest. Those who matter will “be who they are and say what they feel” right alongside you. And aren’t THOSE the people we want to be surrounded by anyway? They’re the ones who treat others like equals, the ones who can empathize because they’ve been there too. They’re the ones who can show compassion to anyone, even the Mean Girls, because they know what it is to feel things deeply.

They are the ones who thrive in the space of being…dare I say it…vulnerable.

Vulnerability means looking inside to find the cause instead of outside to fix the symptoms. Click To Tweet

Speak your heart and trust you are far from powerless. You might get a bit bruised, but by being authentic and true-to-you, there is nothing to fear. Because speaking your heart – even if you’re hurting, even if what it’s saying is somewhat unclear – is about Learning, Healing, and Giving. At the root of you and of me there is a pull to do all three. For others, for ourselves, for both at once.

We all have the ability to self-heal, it’s just about accessing that power – and being not only brave enough but self-trusting enough to do so.

We often view vulnerability as the danger from which we need healing. The barrier that prevents us from connecting.

Yet vulnerability and speaking your heart is actually the bridge that forms connection.

It’s the honesty that gives us the power to heal.

 



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Snacking In Motion (Or, How I Quit Judging And Ate The Damn Fries)

Snacking In Motion (Or, How I Quit Judging And Ate The Damn Fries)

Body Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

You know how on Sex and the City, the women NEVER seem to stop eating (and drinking)? One minute it’s soft-serve, the next second it’s cupcakes. These women stay lithe, luminous, and lively…and yet they don’t take particularly great care of themselves. Well, Charlotte and Miranda run, and Carrie has a bout with a spin class, but aside from that. No, sex swings don’t count.

When I moved here, I heard the SATC-esque eating habits of New Yorkers were actually true. People did really grab-and-go, and it wasn’t uncommon to see everyone from the stroller set to suit-and-ties chowing down on a random park bench. It was a refreshing change from the uber-conscious foodie set of Los Angeles, where a calorie isn’t a calorie but a torture device.

Still, I never thought I’d be one of them. My body doesn’t work like that, I thought. I can’t just eat whatever I want and not feel it. Snacking In Motion might be the city’s MO, but unfortunately, it can’t be mine.

Or so I thought. I knew the part of me that was highly in tune with her body, the one that didn’t make food rules for herself and ate based on how she wanted to feel, the one that didn’t view food as good or bad but definitely knew the things that made her physically feel bad. The part of me that has taught herself to be totally fine with a “bad body day” and the compromise of wanting a taste and being okay with the aftermath that would follow.

But there was also a part of me that I thought those practices had silenced, and apparently still lived loud and proud in the crevices of my psyche. It was the part of me that was told she ate too big of portions, the part of her that viewed certain foods as “treats” or “indulgences” rather than just things. Soft-serve and doughnuts were Sometimes Foods, ones that only made an appearance when an unignorable craving would hit. I knew I could have them whenever I wanted to, I just didn’t want to. I think it was half that I knew the way they made me feel (#froyobelly), and half that I’d done a fantastic job at convincing myself that they weren’t worth my time.

And then there were french fries. A little history with me and the fry: I have never been a starch lover. Fun fact, I used to ask my mom to order my school cafeteria-made sandwiches on rye bread because I liked picking the toasted caraway seeds off the crust. Bread-y things have just never interested me. But french fries? I knew the gloriousness a well-done, well-salted french fry could bring. Oh, I knew. But because this usually wasn’t the case at most restaurants, I had no use for them. I didn’t not like them…I just didn’t care about them enough to make them my choice.

There was also the sociocultural factor. Maure Adult Women in my immediate circle never ordered french fries. Or at least never ordered their own. They’d pick one off of their child’s plate, or pawn one off their significant other, and then they’d make a big stink about forcing everyone else to try one and do the same because they were sooooooo goooooood. This was always so obnoxious to me, and as I grew older, I realized why:

The french fry had been deemed a taboo, so if they got someone else to eat one, it would normalize their sin.

Because of this, I developed a kind of apathy toward french fries. One woman’s sin was THIS woman’s nothing. I didn’t eat them not because I was scared. I didn’t eat them because they annoyed me. I hated the way other women gave a singular french fry such power, and I hated the judgement pinned on women who did eat them. It was such a spectacle – one I had no interest in being a part of. So I opted out.

And then I moved here. I don’t remember when it was, but it must have been within the first month. I was at a restaurant in the neighborhood, and I saw them: a white ceramic ramekin filled with the most beautiful french fries I had ever seen. They were mahogany. They were sliced to perfection.

They were sweet potato fries.

photo cred: half-baked harvest

Real talk, sweet potato fries were another thing I had a chip on my shoulder about. They were like low-tar cigarettes to me: what french fry transgressors ate to show the world they weren’t doing anything wrong, even though they’re just a variation on the same. Like, if you’re gonna do it, just do it. I thought sweet potato fries were a sham to ease guilty minds.

In that moment in the restaurant, I started to question my fry aversion – my restaurant, if you will. Why did fries annoy me so much? And if I got really, truly honest with myself, did I have that Mature Adult Woman in the back of my mind telling me that fries were empty, or bad, or would make me feel awful?

I didn’t even know anymore. I had to find out.

I felt the words falling off my lips as the waitress took my order – “And A Side Order Of Sweet Potato Fries” – and they felt so weighted to me. Would she judge me? Would she make a big deal about “how lucky” I am that I can eat “anything I want” or how she could “never eat fries” or something like that? Would she think I was one of those “basic” women who justified her fries by saying “but they’re sweet potato!”? Ordering my first order of sweet potato fries felt slightly rebellious. But, I was also convinced of the fact that they probably wouldn’t be that great and I probably wouldn’t think they were that great and I probably would have proved to myself that the whole fry frenzy was uncalled for.

The fries came to my table. Some well-done. Most  limp and disappointing. But I had ordered them, and I didn’t care enough to send them back, so I just said whatever and picked up the most structurally decent one and bit into the stupid thing.

It.

Was.

GREAT.

No, not restaurant…but definitely great. Definitely a step up from “alright” or “good.” I enjoyed sweet potato fries – who knew?!

And so then I had the next challenge ahead of me, which was the even harder one. Can I eat as many as I want and not feel bad about myself? I wasn’t gonna find out by just staring at them.

The evening came and went and we walked back home. I felt normal, but was preparing myself for that hungover or heavy feeling I’d been taught happens the next day when you eat something taboo. I went to sleep. I woke up. Nothing happened.

~

I come from the world of wellness, which thank goodness is starting to morph and preach a bit more balance than it used to. I’ve always had problems with the term “clean eating” because it insinuates anything that does not fit into this bracket is dirty. Under the guise of “clean eating” you could healthify anything. Cauliflower pizza crust, zucchini noodles, carrot fries.

Not trying to put on a front: I LOVE those things (really). But telling yourself you can ONLY have pizza if the crust isn’t dough, noodles if they’re spiralized, or fries if they’re veggie sticks dipped in ketchup sets isn’t the solution.

This isn’t for the people who have severe food allergies – this is for the rest of us who keep wondering when the hell we’re gonna make peace with our plate and what a healthy relationship with our body even feels like. I have some inklings, but I can assure you it doesn’t involve scare tactics or ultimatums.

Sure, if I eat a little “too much” sugar (ie beyond when my own unique individual body says “k i’m good”) I feel crappy. Yeah, if I have fries every day I start to feel like I’m becoming one. But by wiping the chip off my shoulder about french fries, trying that cupcake place my friend raves about, or ordering a Salty Pimp from the place next door, I’ve taken the judgement out of the equation. I’ve realized that food affects me for SURE, but so does sitting sedentary in a chair all day. So does staring at a computer screen letting its rays zap me of my B vitamins. So does scrolling through Instagram, flipping over to Facebook, checking in on Twitter, then switching back to Instagram to see if “anything’s happened” since I checked it all of four minutes ago. So does jealousy, anger, or complacency. Food isn’t responsible for when I feel bad about my body. Being out of touch with my body is.

Food isn't responsible for when I feel bad about my body. Being out of touch with it is. Click To Tweet

I contemplated – and celebrated – my fryaversary today with my fiance as we sat at brunch eating a batch of fries baked to perfection. Not sweet potato, either; good old fashioned fried white potato fries. They were flaked with rosemary and sea salt. They taste like Disneyland, I noted. Or a hotel from my childhood.

Did I eat the whole plate? It doesn’t matter. Because they’re not a medal of honor OR a confessional I need to make. They were just fries.

Just. Fries.

I find myself Snacking In Motion here like Carrie or Miranda, and when people come to visit I sometimes wonder what they think of me. I wonder if I’m being judged or I wonder if they’re secretly snarking that I won’t be able to keep up these habits for long. But mostly, I wonder if they’re scared. I wonder if they’re looking at me thinking “I could never do that.”

I wish I could tell them that I don’t have a magical metabolism and I don’t work out like a crazy woman. I wish I could convince them that they totally “could do that,” too.

So go ahead, eat the snacks. Order the soft-serve. Let the doughnuts into your life. You’re allowed. Check in and note if they make you feel less-than-average, but also do that in the rest of your life. There are so many factors that contribute to feeling the way we want to feel, food only being one slice of the metaphorical pie (see what I did there). Being a Mature Adult Woman isn’t about willpower or the food you avoid. It’s not even about all the things you say yes and no to. It’s about why you choose one over the other.

Now, pass the sweet potato fries. Well-done, please.

 



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One Year.

One Year.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

One Year Ago this week,
I moved across the country.

stuff on stuff on stuff
last night on the roof
lunch with mom before the big day

I moved with my then boyfriend, now fiancé, future husband. I moved with my then purpose, now career, future calling. I moved with no expectations, some trepidations, and an enormity of determinations.

One Year Ago this week I fulfilled the choice to choose my life. I could have said no, I could have said wait. But it’s easy to say no when you should say yes, just like it’s easy to say yes when you really should say no.

One Year Ago this week my heart started beating a little faster, and my mind started to go a little slower. The pace around me started to move quicker but the pace inside me started to calm.

One Year has brought so much to the forefront and sunken so much into the background noise. The things I thought mattered some matter less, and the things I thought mattered most matter way more than I thought they did.

It’s crazy to look back a photos and feel the shift One Year has brought. Was it because of my age? Was it because I was ready? No, I don’t think that was it. I think I wrung all the lessons, all the love, all the heartache and heart-aid out of my surroundings – and the only way to grow was to shift my perspective. Through a turn of the kaleidescope, it’s amazing how the same-old can become completely forgeign all over again. Through a different lense, it’s amazing how many things become dimmer than you knew them to be.

Or brighter.

Or maybe both at once.

everything was so exciting to me. even the metro cards. especially the metro cards.

I don’t think we need to change our physical surroundings to see a shift in our lives, but man oh man did it help me. To think our opinions are ultimate or our perceptions final is to be naive and stubborn. Here, I realize that while your word is your truth, it’s also his, and hers, and theirs, and it’s how we all come together that breeds true enlightenment.

Marianne Williamson says, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” And that’s true. But it’s also what ILLUMINATES us. The light and the dark together. And what’s more, how we all move in tandem. It’s not just our light or our darkness, but the way our beams bounce off one another.

It's not just our light or our darkness, but the way our beams bounce off one another. Click To Tweet

In my dreams, I always lived in New York City. A thriving Broadway career, an apartment in I Don’t Even Know Where. In my dreams I didn’t know how anything fit together, I just knew the One Thing of my success led the way. In my realities, I am here. I rarely visit a Broadway stage (something I DO want to change in Year Two) but I’ve found the stages that suit me best. In my realities I cannot quite believe how seamlessly it’s all flowed, how I managed to fight for a sense of community and actually achieve it, how I managed to fight for a career and actually own it, how I managed to fight for a lifestyle of river runs and sweet potato fries and Adventure Sundays and yes – I’m actually in the adventure every day.

And I am in it, I think, because I’ve always been fighting for it, not against it. I’ve learned how to be malleable but true to my heart. I’ve learned how to bend but not break.

And most of all, I’ve learned that challenge begets change, but also begets truth. In my life thus far, I’ve asked for truth and learned how to see it as my ally. Even the truths I would rather not see. Even the truths that hurt. I ask more questions instead of fighting against the answers that pain me. I have fought for a life that rings true each day, and in One Year I now see it before me. It’s not something I take lightly or take for granted.

my very first friendsgiving.


Spoiler: Relationships are not supposed to be easy.
With cities, with people, it’s all the same. You’re supposed to push each other, but in the best way. You’re supposed to help each other see the best in themselves but also the misalignments. Ultimately, you’re here to help one another not only recognize your values but live them out loud. In what you say, in what you do. You’re here to be the bridge between seeing and believing. Between dreaming and doing. And that is not easy work.

And, ANOTHER SPOILER, the work isn’t work to MAKE it easy. It’s work to beget more intricate and nuanced work.

It’s trust work. It’s truth work. It’s the best work ever.


us, 2.0 (or 3.0, depending on your timeline)

And so here I am, One Year After packing the boxes and shipping the bins. One Year After that feeling of readiness and maturity but also of complete surrender. It has not been easy, and it hasn’t always been fun. But it’s been soul-stirring, and it’s been soul-lifting, and it’s brought me in touch with a deeper layer of myself I didn’t even know was there. And anyway, I don’t want easy. I want right.

unsolicited advice

it’s all still a thrill.

To grow, we must stay aware. And to stay aware, we must stay awake. And to stay awake, we must challenge ourselves to displace our gaze. If you always ride the same waves, you’ll never truly see the spectrum.

Once you learn the thing, once you get the stuff, once you master the immediate, where do you go from there?

One Year Later, I’m living the answer:

You exhale fully, slowly, and calmly, and you shift the kalediscope.



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A Beautiful Mess: Spring Cleaning For The Soul

A Beautiful Mess: Spring Cleaning For The Soul

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

Internal chaos manifest itself in many different external forms: an unhealthy diet, insomnia, addictive behaviors, chronic indecision or stagnation. For many of us, it takes shape in the form of messiness. And just like with a fast-food habit or a lack of sleep, the toxins can start to build up.

Just in time for spring cleaning season, let’s talk about a subject I feel I’m a tenured-professor-level expert in: clutter. Internal and external.

The way we compartmentalize our messiness is very telling. Not all of us thrive in a completely sterile environment – on the contrary; most of us feel the most at-home when there’s just a smidge of organized chaos in our lives. Whether it’s a closet filled with knick-knacks or a wallet littered with receipts, we all have our beautiful messes that give us a sense of comfort and ease.

For me personally, it’s my purse. Sure, I probably don’t “need” to carry around half of what I keep in there, but it gives me a sense of preparedness. I’ve tried to clean out my bag again and again, but gradually, my life finds its way back into that black bag. Maybe I like that visual reminder that “I already have everything I need.”

Clutter is one thing – complete disarray is another.

Clutter represents a very specific part of your psyche, the part that knows exactly who she is.
Disarray, in contrast, is a red flag for something deeper you’re not tending to.


Maybe it’s your relationship. Maybe it’s your health. Your apartment is in shambles, laundry everywhere and old mail scattered about the table; maybe you’re afraid to commit to the life you know you want to lead. And just like we detox with sweat or a bowl full o’ greens – when you start to clear away the toxins, you start to have breakthroughs in what formerly seemed like completely unrelated aspects of your life.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about picking up our crap, it’s about picking up the pieces we’ve let fall away. Spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing the floors, it’s about shining our souls.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing the floors, it’s about shining our souls. Click To Tweet

A couple years back, I learned a lot about the difference between clutter and disarray: I moved into a loft with no closets. Instead of a closet, I got two studio-like clothing racks that literally brought everything out into the open. Even in my teeny-weeny NYC apartment now, there are spaces to stash and store. In the loft? It was all on display. Carrie Bradshaw would be horrified.

But something interesting happened when I moved into my nook-less nook: I got rid of the things that didn’t serve me, and I found places for the things that did.

Not coincidentally, I became a lot more clear about what I really wanted in my life.

 

not gonna lie, i miss this nook-less nook a whole hell of a lot.

 

It’s been almost a year since I said goodbye to that little closet-less loft space and made the leap into a tiny slice of The Big Apple. When we first moved in, friends here would marvel at how much storage space we had – a rarity in this city. But even 11.5 months later, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to use it the most effectively. To me, the space seems superfluous. It feels like an invitation to lose my cool and cling to lies.

Wouldn’t you know it, I still keep my stuff where I can see it.

~

Honestly, my giant black bag is still just as heavy as an eight month old – and because I’m commuting across the city on a train underground, I usually need to wear my backpack to hold my laptop et al (ps, you haven’t experienced clutter ’til you’ve been on the M at 7pm).

But as far as my apartment goes, when I wake up in the morning and come home at the end of the day, my space is filled with just the essentials. Beautifully organized in a way that suits my personality (think vintage catchalls and necklaces hanging on rods like wind chimes). I’m more easily pleased. I’m drawn to spend much more time at home. I can’t get enough of my space because it’s an extension of who I am.

 

a little nook-y nook at WANT HQ, NYC edition

 

If, like me, you keep your day bag more stuffed-up than Mary Poppins…if you have a drawer in your desk filled with eclectic knick-knacks and love notes…it doesn’t mean you’re untidy as much as it means that you’re human.

Allow your own little bit of organized chaos to exist – the chaos that serves you and reminds you of all you are.

The bits of disarray that remind you of all you are not? Do away with what no longer reflects who you are, and keep everything that does.

Make your beautiful mess. Clear the clutter. It’s spring cleaning for your soul.

 


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Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration WANT Women

I don’t often post about the events I do or the places I speak. I feel like, for me, it borders on self-indulgent and sets a precedent that I’ll write something about every event I do or place I speak. But I do like sharing with you the ones that spark something new inside me…the ones where I can sense a shift happening. The ones that offer up more than just a recap and some fun photos. The ones that blow my mind.

This weekend, I had the immense honor of speaking at The GOOD Festival, an all-day wellness festival in Philly for anyone wanting to live well and “make choices that are in alignment with their body, their career, and their lives.” Basically, the GOODfest focused on all of the things I love about the wellness industry: the community, the curiosity, and the small choices that end up making a big difference in the long run.

But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t love everything. A couple years ago, I felt my relationship with the “wellness” community starting to shift. Because wellness was shifting as well. And I didn’t really like much of what I was seeing: elitism, ego, judgement, and a focus on the external WHATs instead of the internal WHYs. Leaders and “gurus” encouraginig spiritual bypass, the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with hard things, was becoming just as if not more common than encouraging spiritual growth.

I felt torn. The wellness world had introduced me to some of my very dearest friends, launched my career, and helped me realize my through line. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the wellness world, I would have never started sharing my writing publicly or be even close to the person I am today (fun fact: my first blogs and first freelance jobs circa 2008 were all in what’s now considered the wellness realm). I owed so much of who I was to the wellness community – and yet I felt like I was watching a genuine and loving best friend get lured in by a Mean Girls-esque squad of crystal-carrying, sage-burning, side-eyeing Regina Georges. All aspiration on the outside and very little inspiration on the inside.

It broke my heart.

~

I’ve been very vocal about ways I feel the wellness world can shift, and every single WANT Woman that’s been featured on the site or the podcast is a shining example of what wellness can be if we lean into the parts of us that make us unique and let them lead the way. Literally, every single one of them. 

But still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parade and charade of the opposite end of the spectrum when you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading an article and then all of the sudden it’s 12:42am and you’re paralyzed by fear that you’re not only doing everything wrong, but that your idea of what leadership means in the wellness world is no longer relevant.


One of the reasons GOOD was such a reaffirming experience for me was that it reminded me why I fell in love with wellness in the first place. Wellness, after all, isn’t just about the “well.” It’s not just about the adjective – or rather, the noun we’ve created from the adjective.

It’s about the verb – the “LIVING” part of living well.

“Well” is subjective. We cannot possibly know if what works for one person will work for someone else.

 

But living? Living is action. Living is experience-oriented.
And living well is…well, it’s moving forward fearlessly into the you you know you’re meant to be.

 

The GOODfest team blew me (and everyone else there, ps) away with their thoughtfulness and attention to detail. They’d carefully curated the day to reflect their mission and their values, and it showed in not just every single speaker and sponsor, but in all 300+ people who chose to spend their day with us. Deep conversations happened within a matter of seconds – real, no-bs, walls-down conversations – and each time a speaker walked onstage it was like they were being greeted by a room full of old pals.

Speaking of the speakers – the SPEAKERS! Oh my god the speakers. Being a part of this group was a dream come true. Some people were old friends (Jessica Murnane, Katie Dalebout, Jordan Younger), some were new friends (Gianne Doherty, Kristin McGee, Cassandra Bodzak, Sara DiVello, Kimmie Smith), and some I met specifically because we were both speaking at the GOODfest and then one month later we were the best of travel buddies (hi, Talia Pollock). In an industry that can sometimes seem so cliquey and elite, the GOODfest was anything but. It revived my love for wellness; for how *I* view living well. Which is all about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. All-around. Mind, body, soul.


Living well is about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

This post is obviously about the wellness world, but I think this disconnect between aspiration and inspiration applies across industries and even life stages. Maybe your thing is fashion. Maybe it’s academica. Maybe it’s music. Maybe you’re just starting a family, or have been single for a while, or are just about to graduate college or enter empty-nestville. There are so many opportunities for us to doubt that what we’re doing is right or where we are is where we’re supposed to be (yes, social media is a big way we can get triggered into self-doubt).

But what the GOODfest reminded me is that those people who seem to have everything perfectly manicured and are “too cool to care” are in the minority. WE are in the majority. Side by side. No one has it all figured out, but if we join forces in our curiosity, we can explore the options together.

And that’s what I love about wellness: I love the CONNECTION. The community. The willingness to open up and move forward fearlessly…on the same team. We might not know anywhere near everything, but each of us knows something – and when we all work together to both hear and be heard, we’ve got a whole damn lot of options on the table.

Thank you Kate, Jess, Jen, Sienna, Brea, and the rest of the GOOD team for creating a space for women to unlock themselves and fully exhale. To my fellow speakers, I adore every single one of you and am honored to have been in your presence.



When we all work together to both hear + be heard, we've got a whole lot of options on the table. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet


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