The Friend Commandments.

The Friend Commandments.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration
Love should be shared when you feel it. Click To Tweet


COMMANDMENT #1:
I will tell you I love you, and I will tell you often. I will tell you I love you, and I will tell you from the heart. Because love should be shared when you feel it. You deserve love, and hearing the words “I Love You” shouldn’t be reserved for certain loves and not others.


COMMANDMENT #2:
I will have your back through light, dark, and especially in-between. I will not feed off your drama. I will not just show up when life is amazing. Oprah once said “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” I’ll take the bus, the limo, the Lyft, the Uber…even the subway car that’s suspiciously empty (because I agree that sometimes a subway car with no AC is better than a well-ventilated train but standing-room-only one).


COMMANDMENT #3: I will celebrate your successes as my successes.
I will feel your losses as my losses. When you win, WE win.  I will show up, and I will show up HARD. And when I don’t know how you need me to show up, I will ASK instead of GUESSING.


COMMANDMENT #4:
That being said – I might disappear but I will never disengage. Sometimes I need time to myself to figure life out. I might not be physically present as much as I’d like to be, but I’m still there. I am showing up for myself so I can show up for you, too.


COMMANDMENT #5: I will tell you when you hurt me, and I will tell you when I disagree,
and I will tell you not because “I say what’s on my mind whether you like it or not,” but because it’s in service of our friendship and of our individual growth. Not because my opinion is what matters. Because clarity is.


COMMANDMENT #6:
I will not worship you or idolize you. I will not put you on a sky-high pedestal or treat you as untouchable. We are equals. I will respect you deeply, love you fiercely, and believe in you with an endless well of belief. But I will not think of you as above me, or better than me.

 

I will respect you deeply, love you fiercely, and believe in you with an endless well of belief. But I will not think of you as above me, or better than me. Click To Tweet

 

COMMANDMENT #7: I will not put Me on a pedestal. I will not stand for being worshipped, idolized, or treated as untouchable. We are equals. I will respect myself deeply, love myself fiercely, and believe in myself with an endless well of belief. But I will not think of me as above you, or better than you.


COMMANDMENT #8: I won’t make fun of you “out of love” or “because I can.”
Tearing you down, even in jest, isn’t healthy – it’s hurtful. I’m here to build you up, especially when those voices inside of your head are tearing you down. Even if you don’t let on, I know they’re there. Because I’ve got them too. I’m here to help them learn to speak another language.


COMMANDMENT #9:
I will remember. I will remember things that matter to you. I will remember the things you tell me, because they’re the relics that help tell the story of your life. And, when life gets in the way – you might need me to remember on your behalf one day, when life feels like much too much of a weight to even remember how to remember.

I will love you because you are YOU, and our differences are to be celebrated, not criticized. Click To Tweet


COMMANDMENT #10:
I will love you for you, and expect from you what you actually have to offer instead of expecting you to be my twin – or expecting you to be some fabricated version of you I’ve made up in my head. I will love you for you, and that means that even if I disagree with how you view politics, or when you speak up and when you stay silent, or your thoughts on societal institutions, or how you think Shake Shack is better than In-And-Out. I will love you because you are YOU, and our differences are to be celebrated, not criticized. I will love you for you for all the ways we’re similar and all the ways we’re not, and I will love you because it’s the combo of the two that makes Lifers, makes us Soulies, and makes us exactly who we are.

 

friends friendship best friends

The Names We Call Ourselves.

The Names We Call Ourselves.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration WANT Women

Think back on the times your negative self-talk has started to act up. What was it usually trying to tell you? What did it signal?

Teaching yourself a new language, whether it’s Spanish or Self-Respect, is a process. Sometimes it’s as simple as going word by word. Phrase by phrase. And at the end of the day – it’s all just me, telling myself what to believe.

Yoga teacher, artist, and cancer survivor Sarah Girard is a pro at name-calling. Today, she shares with us how her name-calling began, the way her narrative evolved, and how we can each reexamine the most important names there are: the ones we call ourselves.

 

sarah girard


Hi.

I’m Sarah G.

The biblical meaning of Sarah is “Princess.” The American meaning is “Happy.” I’ve got a lot of Sarah-competition out there in the world. Sara(h) been one of the Top 100 baby names for decades, and in my generation alone, my fellow Sara(h)s and I reached Top 10 status.

My friends have always coupled my last name’s initial onto my name. Always. They can’t call me by my first name alone – there are always a few of us around. Partly because of this, I have always had a strong urge to set myself apart, to be unique rather than grouped together with my name-twins.

But as it turns out, I didn’t need to work all that hard to be “different.”

~

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer called Retinablastoma. My eye was surgically removed and now I wear a prosthetic. I was so young when this trauma occurred, that I have many memories of growing up in and out of the hospital. And I have even more memories and experiences of how others have responded over the years when I tell them what I have been going through.

There is a darkness to being “different.” We might think (or at least hope) that kids wouldn’t make fun of the sick kid with the prosthetic, and that adults wouldn’t look at her with pity and shame as if she’s a lost pet. But kids are the most brutal about the things that they don’t understand and adults pity the things they wish would never happen to themselves.

Sicko.
Weirdo.
Freak.
Oh what a tragedy!
You poor soul!
How miserable your childhood must’ve been!

Hearing it repetitively over and over for decades makes it really hard not to believe. So I started identifying with their reactions, naming myself with the same rejection and shame that was being reflected to me.

I was a sick, poor soul. A freak. A tragedy. I desperately wanted to fit in, so I tried to disappear in the sea of other girls with my name. If I could just be Another Sarah, I could escape being Me.

I ducked my head down into books to avoid stares and questions. I became committed to over-achieving at school. I got smarter. Way smarter. If I could outwit the bully, then I could overcome the bully.

But the thing about getting smarter is that I started learning who the bully actually was. The bully wasn’t other people, though they contributed to it. It was all the discomfort and rejection inside myself that I had been holding onto like a safety blanket. I wasn’t able to accept the kid inside me who desperately wanted to fit in, and at the same time, would always be different.

The more I learned and processed, the more my perspective shifted. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one hurting herself through negative talk. I started seeing that we were all doing it.

And we need to change it.

We are all hurting.

We have all made mistakes.

We have all hurt someone.

And we are all hopeful and desperate to be seen and accepted.

We are here, belonging to this group called “humanity,” that feels so deeply and craves true connection.

The names we call ourselves matter so much more than the names other people call us. -Sarah Girard Click To Tweet

The great thing is that time moves us along: we graduate, relationships change and our lives evolve. We learn how to adapt, and have the opportunity to learn how to work with our past, not against it. Every now and then I’ll get a sinking feeling in my stomach when I meet someone new and have to tell them about my eye, fearing they’ll call me a freak. But I’ve got this. I can introduce myself with kindness and acceptance, knowing I’m not alone in this.

Let me take a moment to also say that I am extremely thankful to be here and for the expert doctors who saved my life. The cancer never spread to the rest of my body. And I am grateful to my family for always encouraging me to live fully empowered disregarding my handicap as a weakness.

I have stopped calling myself Freak and started taking on other names: Sister, Daughter, Artist, Yogi, Educator. And these are names I love so much. They connect me to my communities, but they also help me stand out on my own.

~

The names we call ourselves matter so much more than the names other people call us. That being said, I do love my given name. Call me by it. I’ll answer.

It’s simple but stands for so much.

Royalty. Happiness. And ALL my story encompasses.

So hello. It’s me. Sarah G.

 

sarah girard


Sarah Girard is a Venice Beach-born, NYC-based yoga and meditation teacher. Being a cancer survivor, artist, and food lover, she incorporates resiliency, courage and humor in her on-going group, corporate, and private classes. Over the past two decades, Sarah has studied with leaders such as Bryan Kest, Annie Carpenter, Maty Ezraty, Leslie Kaminoff, and Nikki Costello, and accumulated over 1000 RYT hours. As the Director of Meditation and Yoga Fundamentals for Culture of Fit, she created corporate wellness programs which are implemented in companies nation-wide. Her writings have been published for Yoga City NYC, Prevention Magazine, Self, and is an ongoing expert consultant for Furthermore. As an educator, she is always learning and celebrates the challenges we greet in our daily lives. Find her on Instagram.


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Confessions Of A Stage-Four Clinger.

Confessions Of A Stage-Four Clinger.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

When I was little, I used to hug and not let go.

I know, it sounds so precious in the retelling. I’d hug my teachers, my friends, strangers, and of course, the characters at Disneyland.

I am in family photos around the world. I don’t have to see them to know they exist. I would see those characters, the constants in my life, those faces that were unable to change or be anything but Love Incarnate. And I would wrap my arms around them and bury my little three-year-old head in their synthetic fur coat, and in that moment I felt time was paused and I was loved.

Sweet, right? Yeah, until my parents had taken the picture and I still wouldn’t leave their side. I’d stand there next to them on watch, god forbid they hugged another kid, god forbid someone else became their new favorite person – god forbid they forgot about me when I went away.

~

I am a recovering Stage-Four Clinger. And it’s not just the death-grip hugs I’m talking about. I cling to people, I cling to places. And most of all, I cling to ideas. Attachment, for me at least, is less about the actual thing and more about my relationship to it. Becoming attached to something (or someone) is almost always at least in part becoming attached to the story you’ve written about it in your head.

My clinging isn’t physical, and it’s probably not the kind of clinging anyone else would notice but me. My mind goes into overdrive, like a frantic puppy who senses its owner is about to leave for the day. When I cling, I submit to the feeling of scarcity. When I cling, I set the stage for Imposter Syndrome to waltz in and snag the spotlight. And Imposter Syndrome isn’t just about career goals and success. It shows up everywhere.

Am I a good enough friend?

Am I too selfish? A pushover?

Am I really good enough, wise enough, strong enough to weather this life I’ve constructed, or have I just made everyone believe I am? Will they find me out?

And so I cling tighter.

I used to think that when you became more self-assured and successful, your Imposter Syndrome just melted away. Or at least melted away quicker than it would if you weren’t so self-assured and successful. Nuh-uh. What I’m starting to learn is that as you become more and more You, you open way more doors and windows for Imposter Syndrome to enter through. Your Imposter Syndrome doesn’t melt away – it amplifies and attacks. The irony is that you’ve got waaay more introspective ammo to battle it than you ever did. It just becomes more of a constant battle than a sometimes-tiff. It’s wildly empowering and scary as hell.

I feel myself clinging when the story I’ve told myself starts to develop holes in it. And I cling to no-one and nothing tighter than I cling to MYSELF. I worry that I’ve created a mess. That I’ll never be able to live up to the expectations I’ve built up for myself. I’ll never forget when a co-worker once called me “enigmatic.” Who ARE you even, Katie Horwitch?  he teased. It was the first time I realized I might not be the person I’d always told myself in my internally self-narrated tale. I’m too introverted and too solitary to be the kind of companion I feel I should be. I’m too much of a team player to be the kind of leader I know I can be. I’m too interested in day-to-day life to seek out the adventures I know are open to me. I’m too private to be public. Too soft to be tough.

~

Loosening your grip on an idea you’ve built up about a person or a place is tough. Loosening your grip on an idea you’ve built up about YOURSELF, though – well, that’s next-level. You’re YOU, after all. You can’t escape You.

But then again, why would you want to? The more you know about how your story is “supposed” to unfold, the less chance you have at surprise and delight and all those other emotions in-between. Clinging isn’t an act of love. It’s an escape. A redirect. When we cling, we bring in the ships and shut down the lighthouses. We call off the search party and refocus our energy onto taking ourselves captive.

When exciting opportunities come my way – a chance to lead a big event! a friendly-friendship gains soul-status! a YES to that YES I’ve been pursuing for months or even years! – I feel my Stage-Four Clinger coming out and I have to tell her NO. I have to tell her that…as much as it pains me to admit it…that she was not always right. She rarely was, actually. Because she was coming from the wrong place. The place that made me feel like the Always-Second-Best, the Always-Runner-Up, and The Always-In-Search of how I can be BETTER. My inner Stage-Four Clinger wants so desperately for me to Find Myself – but she wants me to do it by following an outdated set of rules I made before I actually started to LIVE.

Finding yourself isn't about abiding by a past vision, and finding yourself isn't about searching for a new you. It's about coming home to the you that was always there. Click To Tweet

I still count hugs as one of my love languages, and I still make choices that feel more in service of an imaginary version of Me than the Me I am right now. But I am learning to loosen my grip. I’m learning that my embrace will linger way after I let go, and that I don’t need to be hyper-present to be deeply felt.

Finding yourself isn’t about abiding by a past vision, and finding yourself isn’t about searching for a new you. It’s about coming home to the you that was always there. To cling to a vision of who you should be or could be will never, ever reap the kinds of rewards you’ll get when you honor who you are right now and go from there.

 

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Flailures: When Failing Feels Like Flailing.

Flailures: When Failing Feels Like Flailing.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

“Fail,” in all its incarnations, wasn’t a word used often in my house growing up. I’d love to attribute 100% of this to my parents and their excellent leadership skills, but I think a big reason we didn’t use the word because we didn’t use it in school. While kids on tv shows would stress about Straight As and moan if they “flunked” a class, my elementary school worked with an entirely different system:

E = Excellent
G = Good
S  = Satisfactory
N = Not Satisfactory

My first real introduction to Failure was in middle school, in seventh grade I remember thinking of how mean that was, to use such a harsh word to describe someone’s work and worth.

But this is usually our first exposure to the concept of failure, right? Not doing well in a class, with a final hard-stop grade at the end telling you so. No second chances, no helpful notes...just a big, red F.

I’m obsessed with words, so I did us the favor of looking up “fail” in the dictionary. What I found was not one, not two, but THIRTEEN definitions of the word. I was going to be all clever in this post and string together some prose turning the definition on its head, but honestly…thirteen????????????

When I switched from the E-N system to an A-F one in seventh grade, I was beyond frustrated. As a star student obsessed with learning, this was just WRONG. A bad grade just means there are things I need to work on! A bad grade just means my work isn’t satisfactory YET!

But that’s not the system I was in anymore. I made up words to coincide with the letters, since that’s what I’d been used to, and it made the transition easier. But the only ones I could think of for D and F were “Dunce” (remember the cone cap kids would wear in Saturday morning cartoons when they acted up in class?) and “Fail.” They became dirty words meant to shame and scare me.

Fear of failure is what stops most of us in our tracks while we’re on our personal quest towards self-actualization. We get hung up on the idea of failure and what we’ve been taught it represents: being less-than, being “the loser,” being robbed of something and left empty-handed. Failure, we’re taught, is a hard stop. And those outdated definitions are what get us stuck, what keep us from being fulfilled, and what make us put limits our own possibilities and potential.

But if I’m reading them right, almost HALF of those thirteen definitions involve something other than a locked door or closed chapter. Definitions like “losing strength,” “falling short,” and, my favorite, “to disappoint the expectations or trust of someone or something.” These aren’t hard stops – these are all fixable. These aren’t red lights – they’re yellow.

Failing can feel like flailing, and flailing means you’re being blown by the wind into your next adventure. #flailures Click To Tweet

Think about the last time you “failed” at something. How did it feel? Try to take out the shame or anger…what are you left with?

A lot of times, failing can feel like flailing. I’ve talked about this before: how being an adult is a graceful flail of grasping for certainty and being at peace with not knowing all the answers.

And so I’d like to propose that most of the things you call FAILURES aren’t really FAILURES at all: They’re FLAILURES.

Because failing can feel like flailing, and flailing means you’re being blown by the wind into your next adventure.

Are there still things that are failures? Of course. But the blanket term “failure,” with all its thirteen-plus definitions, doesn’t apply to every single thing that doesn’t work out. A meme of Jackass-proportions (remember that show??) paired with a big bold Sans Serif EPIC FAIL is not the same as being rejected by a book agent (hello and welcome to my home, so glad you could make it). Red light, yellow light. A fail is a hard stop. A flail keeps going.

Sure, I still get scared of failing – or, rather, the Ghost Worry that I’ll do something to feel ashamed of later. But in the thick of that fear, I remind myself that I’ve got this. I remind myself that I’ve never felt right about something that’s wrong, or wrong about something that’s right. I listen to my gut and I act. I might be too much for some, but I am always just right for me…whatever that looks and feels like, whether I’m aware of it or not. I’m on a very specific path that’s all my own, and those little sparks of fear are signals that I’m about to hit another benchmark.

I just need to let the wind take me there.

failure flailures


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How To Change Your Life.

How To Change Your Life.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

I BLINK AWAKE and I’m surrounded.

I open my door and walk out into the still-sleeping streets and they close in. The busses plow by and I’m hit with their force. Signing onto Facebook, tweeted out on Twitter. On fitness product placards and grocery story windows and spa practitioners and mega-store outlets.

I know them so well: the claims and calls to change your life.

They make it seem so easy – just sign up and go. Just buy this thing or set this goal, and once it’s yours you’re the You that you want to be. Simple as that.

Laughable, right?

Honestly, we’re the ones that should be laughed at. We’ve been duped, and it’s at no fault of the companies and corporations. I mean, maybe some fault…but it starts with us. They know where to hit us in our soft spots and seize every opportunity. We WANT change. We’re starved for it, even. They’re just giving us what we ask for.

Why is it, then, that with so many available outlets for change…we’re still endlessly craving it?

Change does not come from something. It comes from all things. Click To Tweet

There’s this somewhat confusing, somewhat contradictory feeling that comes with big change. It’s excitement, it’s anticipation, it’s bliss…but it’s also a little fear, a muddle of oddity, a dash of discomfort. The contrast can be enough to frighten us away.

And that’s where they get us:
Offering us a place to go when the real steps are too scary.

Working out is too hard? Try this machine.

Eating well is too expensive? Buy this cheap box of massive claims.

Finding love in all the wrong places? Gurl, you totally need a new wardrobe, and also a facial.

Hello, just go to that class 3xs a week and watch your life fall into place! It worked for us, it’ll work for you.

 


We often associate discomfort with something bad – but what if we’re just displacing our true emotions? Discomfort merely means a state of non-comfort. And sure, sometimes that’s a by-product of a very bad place to be. A place of falseness, lies, of going against who you truly are.

But discomfort can also be the by-product of massive shifts and important changes in motion – the by-product of being affected by them.

 

To make lasting change, we must allow ourselves to be affected and moved.

We must allow ourselves to feel.

 

Sure, joining a gym or buying a new pair of jeans can be awesome. But they’re baby steps on the road to lasting change. Supporting players, not leading roles. Going to a spin class for the sake of checking it off your to-do list won’t get you the change you want, attending yoga so you can SAY you did won’t make you FEEL zen, and eating healthy foods for bragging rights won’t get you glowing. You’ve got to surrender yourself to the experience. Because there will be bumps in the road, and they WILL be uncomfortable. But that feeling won’t be because you’re doing something wrong. Nope – it’ll be because you’re breaking new ground on the way to doing everything so very, very right. Breaking through anything is uncomfortable. If you disengage from feeling, you disengage from change. If you slam down on the breaks, you miss the breakthrough.

If you slam down on the breaks, you miss the breakthrough. Click To Tweet

Ever entered a room or started a conversation and felt an immediate coldness? That is what happens when someone disengages, when someone decides they don’t want to be affected: everything freezes. Connections remain on a surface level, interactions are completely on the outside. No wonder so many of us flip out when we’ve found a new soul-friend or a lustworthy romantic prospect! It’s not that the depth of character is so rare – it’s that too many of us fight against depth or freeze it out. Depth is uncomfy, depth means you can be affected. Depth means you feel things that sometimes will hurt.

But depth is also what warms us up from the inside out. It’s our internal thermostat.

how to change your life

Ready to have your mind blown? Change does not come from something. It comes from all things. The insides, the outsides, the marriage of the two. There is possibility for change everywhere, and you never know for sure where you’ll find it. Allowing yourself to be affected, to be moved, to feel, is to allow yourself permission to move into that change that’s so meant for you.

And so while the bus sign and Newsfeeds and grocery-store windows try as they might, their claims are no substitute for the magic that unfolds when we just open up and feel. We’re fine-tuned on the inside to respond to every effect and affect in a way that’s all our own. Taking a deep, long breath and opening up our insides to our outsides is way more effective than any claim you’ll read.

 

You don’t need a pill to see a shift. You don’t require rules to make a difference. And just going THROUGH the motions is nothing compared to what happens when you are shaken to the core by the way they make you feel.


Open your doors. This is all yours.

Now go and change your life.


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A Seasonal Existence.

A Seasonal Existence.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I live in the seasons now, the highs and the lows. And I’ve learned what I love and what I loathe. What makes me fly high and what makes me forget myself entirely.

LA is famous for 72 And Sunny

How pleasant it is always.

But I know the truth:

How often we forget in the pleasantries how nice it actually is.

How we learn a general Good and forget a personal Great.

Without the comparison, we don’t have to choose.

Without the differences, we have nothing to miss.

I live in the seasons now,

the highs and the lows

And I’ve learned what I love and what I loathe

What makes me fly high

and what makes me forget myself entirely.

A seasonal existence allows me to retreat when I need to and expand when I must

Instead of feeling as if I should be everything to everyone.

~

in my Springs I am both everything and nothing

a damp rain one day, a warm sunrise the next

a cool breeze and a warm lilt

skipping and splashing in puddles from the sunshower

i bloom with ideas along with the flowers.

in my Summers I take in the world, the heat, the sun

absorbing it on my bare skin

and sometimes it feels all too much

and sometimes I feel smothered when I walk out the door

the sights

the sounds

the glasses clinking in the distance and the ice cream melting onto the sidewalk

my Summer is one that absorbs all the stimuli and like the leaves turn the excess sunshine to energy and exhaust

i take the blinding brightness and morph it into my mission statement.

in my Autumns I dance with the leaves

letting my truest colors show

reds, yellows, a not-quite-green but not-quite-chocolate

the blisters from the Summer morphing into tangible things and scenes and the perfect day all day.

in my Winters I balance

the retreat and the release

hibernating

i radiate heat and fire and steam built up from months of absorbing

months of elements

months of matches lit and furnaces burning

warming those who forgot to take the year with them

i wonder if this is why it’s called the Season of Giving.

My place in the seasons isn't in a dull everywhere, But a specific SOMEWHERE. Click To Tweet


Here’s the thing.

I am a strong force.

My place in the seasons isn’t in a dull everywhere

But a specific SOMEWHERE.

And in that memorable place,

I sway and I sigh,

I swelter and I swoon.

And while I might not be a favorite to all,

I leave those who Know cracked open in delight

Wondering when I’ll come around again

And counting the moments until I do.

Remember last time, they say,

Remember when she opened my cage and set me free?

 

katie horwitch seasonal
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