'Tis the season for joy, laughter...and a lot of conflicting emotions around family, food, spending, socializing, and more.
Instead of a gift guide this year, I thought I'd give you something you can use through the season and beyond: a field guide of some of our WANT community's favorite tips, tools, and resources to shift your self-talk, especially during the most wonderful time of the year.
Scroll through, then gift this holiday guide to a friend who might need some extra support this season...
SETTING (MINDFUL) BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS + BEYOND
Setting boundaries (mindful boundaries) with our loved ones right now is crucial to not only our sanity, but to our relationships with our relatives. For most of us, we’re only with our extended fam a few times throughout the year, so it’s important that when we're all together, we’re working to build the kinds of relationships – and, so cliché, but the kinds of memories – we want to have.READ MORE ➪
I WAS SO BAD: BREAKING OUT OF FOOD GUILT
Even the teeniest bit of food guilt is more than likely to arise at one point or another, especially during the holidays. To fight against food guilt and fight FOR the body that deserves to be loved (<-yours!), put these three tips to use year-round. READ MORE ➪
AN INTROVERT’S GUIDE TO BEING SOCIAL (WITH SOUL)
Parties make you sweat...but also don't want to miss out on holiday cheer? I hear ya. Introversion and extroversion are not black and white; every single person has a bit of both inside them. The trick is not to try and change yourself into an extrovert or go against what feels true to you – it’s to know how to play up your strengths no matter the situation. Here are 7 ways to stay social while still being true to who you are at your core – no faking required. READ MORE ➪
DO’SHA KNOW: AYURVEDIC STRESS RELIEF 101
Stress is high year-round, but during the holidy months it seems to runneth over. Sahara’s take on stress: find your dosha and go from there. Think this is just another personality test? Ayurveda is about way more than the individual. It’s about living in harmony with the world around you, too. Take the quiz:READ MORE ➪
HOW TO DO A PLANNED FREAK-OUT
I can't get over how many of you have told me that this exercise is LIFE-CHANGING. I don't know about that...but I do know it has prevented many a meltdown in my own life, and also made me stay focused on what really matters. Here's how to do one.READ MORE ➪
ON SPENDING WISELY + LETTING THE GUILT GO
Maybe GIFT-GIVING is your love language. That's totally okay. Here's how to curb mindless spending...and how to check yourself when you're in the midst of "retail therapy."READ MORE ➪
Zodiac. MBTI.Human Design. Enneagrams. We’re hyper-curious about ourselves, and there are so many ways for us to find out more about what makes us tick…and that’s not even counting all the “What type of artisanal ice cream flavor are you?” quizzes from Buzzfeed.
One of the most ancient – and most RELIABLE – ways to find out more about yourself is by determining your Ayurvedic “dosha.” According to Ayurveda, a dosha is one of three energy types within the body that define who you are. There are three types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We each have all three in us…however, each of us has a unique combination of the three, and are usually dominant in one in particular.
Think this is just another personality test? Well, yes and no. Yes, figuring our your dosha can tell you a lot about who you are (just like that Buzzfeed ice cream quiz)…but it can also tell you about how to manage things like self-doubt, anger, and STRESS (unlike that Buzzfeed ice cream quiz). Ayurveda is about way more than the individual. It’s about living in harmony with the world around you, too.
Sahara Roseis an author, health coach, and Ayurvedic expert who is passionate about bridging ancient Ayurvedic healing and spiritual wisdom with modern western nutritional science/psychology. I love that Sahara blends the two so seamlessly, making it SO easy to incorporate these centuries-old healing practices into our day-to-day life that we’re left wondering why it took so damn long to find out about them.
Stress is high year-round, but during the holidy months it seems to runneth over. Sahara’s take on stress: find your dosha and go from there.
Tally up how many times you select A, B, or C to find your dosha (you may be dominant in two – I’m a Pitta-Kapha, for example), then follow Sahara’s ridiculously simple stress-busting strategies…
Ayurvedic Stress Relief 101
You have a deadline coming up. How do you deal? a) I’m totally overwhelmed and don’t know how I’ll manage. I want to run away and shut down. b) I can feel my temperature rising and my heart racing but sit down and get to work — NOW! c) I don’t let it get to me. I’ll finish when I finish and if it’s a little late, it’s not the end of the world.
Someone just sent you a text calling you out on something. How do you react? a) I’m so anxious reading through it. My mind is racing to all the things I should reply and am already thinking about what they’re going to say next. I can’t focus and feel like I might hyperventilate. b) I’m pissed. Who do they think they are to call me out on that? What they said isn’t even true. Bring it. c) I’m so upset. I immediately want to apologize and make it right again. I hate the feeling of someone being disappointed in me. I feel heavy and sad.
You just got fired. What’s your next move? a) Omg, I just screwed up my whole life. How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to eat? I will never make it to my goals. What caused this?! Well, I always have wanted to be a creative… b) Your just fired me?! B**** please. I am the one who does the firing! On to the next one! Screw it, I’m just going to start my own company! c) Omg I did not see this coming. I’ve been with this company for years. I’m so upset. The boss must hate me. I’m such a failure. How will I find a new job?
How do you deal with emotions? a) Buy a plane ticket and dip. Or at least spend the weekend by myself in my own world. b) Head to the gym to torch some calories and get my rage out. c) Eat my emotions in vegan donuts.
When something bad happens, how do you feel? a) Cold, weak, faint. b) Hot, enraged, angry. c) Heavy, depressed, energetically exhausted.
A — VATAS
Vatas’ minds, like the fall wind, are always racing. Vatas have a lot of air energy, causing their thoughts to constantly move, causing a tornado in their minds called anxiety. Vatas often waste countless hours worrying about outcomes that may never happen (sound familiar?) This is because vatas place their emphasis on the future, rather than the present or past, which can cause vatas to have trouble sleeping at night. Vatas tend to over-analyze, replay responses and make up scenarios on how situations can pan out. For vatas, it is important that they stay present, come back to their breath and ground.
Tips to reduce stress for Vatas… • Allow yourself to walk barefoot in nature. With the negative ions from the Earth, you ground yourself, rebalance your energy and bring energy into your lower chakras. • Stay present! Escape your head and enter your body. Be aware of what you see, hear, smell and taste. •Return to your breath. Anxiety occurs when we forget to breathe. Inhale and exhale to re-center your mind, spirit and body.
B — PITTAS Pittas, of all three doshas, become stressed most easily. Pittas have a lot of fire energy, causing a lot of pent-up energy within them. When something goes wrong, they can snap and erupt like a volcano. For this reason, it is important for pittas to cool down. Pittas can be too in the present, which causes them to disregard future or past backlash for their actions. This can cause pittas to say things they do not actually mean. It is important pittas regain balance by cooling down to put out that fiery flame within.
Tips to reduce stress for Pittas… • Spend by the water. Pittas are normally hot in nature, so they do marvelously when they are in cooling environments such as the ocean, a lake or a river. When you take a weekend trip near a body of water you will notice the stress disappear from your body. • Practice some cooling pranayama breathing techniques. Take some deep breaths shaping your lips into the letter “O.” This is known as sitali. Another cooling breathing technique to practice is sitkari.
Practice sitali by: 1. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed in a meditative state. For several minutes return to your breath and focus solely on your breathing. 2. Roll your tongue lengthwise and extend it out of your mouth. Inhale deeply, like you are drinking through a straw, across your tongue and into your mouth. Breathe that breath into your abdomens. This breath will feel cooling on your tongue. 3. Bring your tongue back into your mouth then completely through the nostrils exhale. 4. Practice this for 2-3 minutes, gradually practicing up to 10 minutes.
Practice sitkari by: 1. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed. 2. Expose your teeth to the air by pressing your lower and upper teeth together and separating your lips as much as you comfortably can. 3. Create a hissing sound when you inhale and breathe through the gaps of your teeth. 4. Close your mouth, then exhale slowly through your nose. 5. Practice for 2-3 minutes, gradually practicing up to 10 minutes.
C — KAPHAS Kaphas are the least likely of the doshas to become stressed. They’re very hakuna-matata and “slow and steady wins the race.” Since Kaphas have a lot of earthy energy, they are grounding, calm and collected. However, when kaphas do become stressed, they become overwhelmed with sadness. Kaphas bottle up their emotions and do not let anyone know, which can lead to sadness, emotional eating and isolation. Even though kaphas are the dosha that seems the happiest, they’re the most likely to fall into depression and not let anyone else know because they feel like they have to be the rock for everyone else. If you can relate to this, it is crucial for you to raise your spirits and get out of your kapha rut by shaking your body and stimulating your mind.
Tips to reduce stress for Kaphas… • Sweat! Sweat is medicine for kaphas, especially first thing in the morning. Do something that causes you to sweat and increases your heart rate before you eat breakfast, whether it is a cardio workout, hot yoga, barre, HIIT, boxing or anything in between. A great sweat sesh will instantly have you feeling extremely relieved. • Attempt something new! Kaphas can become bored and dissatisfied because they are creatures of habits. It is important for kaphas to get out of their comfort zone, whether it is in a new city, state or even country. Perhaps trying out a new dance or art class, being a tourist in your city, or enjoying a weekend trip in a nearby national park camping is just what your soul needs. Life is meant to be lived and experienced in full depth. Break free from your routine so you can return to yourself. • Eat smart and avoid snacking. Kaphas often release their emotions on food and make their eating decisions based on emotional reasons not from hunger. Try not to snack in between meals, eat only three square meals a day. Snacking throws off your hunger rhythms, affecting your digestion, metabolism, and nutrient absorption. Kaphas, of all three doshas, gain weight most easily. If Kaphas snack throughout the day, they will feel more heavier and sluggish. Kaphas need to make sure they get enough protein with their meals, to avoid wanting to eat two hours later — especially from the candy jar.
Stress is a natural part of life. Letting it overcome us is not. Learning about the doshas can help you handle and, most importantly, prevent stress, so you can live a balanced life.
I’ve always been a sucker for late 90s, early 2000s rom-coms. The soundtracks! The star power! The good person getting the job and winning the man!
(there’s always the man. more on that in a sec.)
I still love me a good rom-com for sentimental reasons. But the most clichéd ones? They’re now rough to watch.Many require you to majorly suspend your disbelief as you watch a completely problematic and unrealistic situation magically work itself out, and many (at least many of the early ones) reinforced a trope created in decades prior that looking, acting, and responding in a very particular way will get you what you want and deserve in life.
My main issue with rom coms when I watch them now, however, is this:
In many of these so-called “girl powered” movies, the storyline follows women positioning themselves as experts in a field, but somehow, they’re unable to tackle the problems they’re so good at solving when those problems hit the closest to home (dating expert, advice columnist, wedding planner…you get the gist). That’s usually when the man – or someone else – comes in and saves her or shows her the light. It’s rare that we’re shown how to move forward fearlessly when shit gets real, and how to do it on our own. And the message is that when darkness or hardship looms, someone or something will swoop in to save us and make us feel worthwhile again.
We need a new model for what to do when it all feels like too much.
You can know your through-line, crush Casual Negativity, and be a pro at shifting your self-talk…when life is going pretty well overall. But what happens when the you-know-what hits the fan, and it keeps hitting the fan? What happens when you’re in major need of a WIN, and that win just isn’t coming your way?
Here are five strategies for when life won’t let up:
1.) Focus on getting to NOW-Normal instead of BACK-To-Normal.
When things suck, we want to make them not-suck. We want to “get back to normal” or “the way things were back then.” THEN, of course, being a time when there were limited obstacles and you felt in control. This is totally expected and totally natural.
However, normal NOW isn’t the same as normal THEN. You’ve got a new normal in the Now.
Instead of trying to force old habits into a new set of circumstances, focus on accepting this new normal – not trying to adjust to make things like “what they were,” but maximizing “how they ARE.” What might have been easy or routine for you before simply might not work as well for your lifestyle right now.
Making lifestyle choices and developing positive habits, then, become like a game. What WILL feel good? What WILL stick? Inthis episode of the WANTcast with Lynn Chen, she tells us that when her father died and she was too overcome with grief to do anything, she treated her life like she was recovering from amnesia. Trying things out, from foods to workouts, to see what resonated and what didn’t. ZERO pressure to stick with one thing, and ZERO ties to what once worked.
When life feels the most challenging, do like Lynn and do a scavenger hunt to find your Now-Normal. If something doesn’t really stick, you have full permission to move on. If there’s a spark there, try it again. And again. And again.
I am NOTHING for ANYONE if I am not GROUNDING for myself. And so when shit starts to hit the fan – or when everything, good or not-so-good, feels like it’s coming at me all at once – I schedule what’s called “white space.” It’s time that is all your own, that you don’t plan to fill and don’t schedule over. It’s both everything and nothingness.
It can be an hour. It can be three minutes. It doesn’t need to be formalized “meditation.” It doesn’t need to be productive OR unproductive. But I’ve learned that white space time, time that belongs to ME and ME ALONE, time that’s like the “white space” on a canvas – TBD, no paint, open to possibility – is a deal maker or breaker for me. If I don’t take time to reconnect to myself with no external stimuli or things to answer to, and don’t take time when I need it most, I end up going off the rails.
After I wrote about my Instgram bully, I had many people write to me privately about their experiences with harassment and, specifically, others telling them to feel compassion for their bully as a coping mechanism. And how fucking INFURIATING that can be. For me, it’s moments like these that remind me why I practice white-space-moments on the regular. So that when shit gets real…when I’m hurt, when I’m highly emotionally triggered…I can pause even for a SECOND and remember who the F I am and what the F I stand for.Without anyone telling me who I am or what I SHOULD BE. It’s in these moments, these seemingly-millisecond moments, I’m able to do the thing that’s most proactive, not reactive (see last point). That I’m able to be the way I know I’m meant to be, not the way someone else told me I should respond.
I practice those white-space moments not for the moments I’m necessarily in. But for the moments in the future when I’ll need them most. It’s sunglasses in the subway and walking back and forth outside before I go and join the party. It’s hiding in the bathroom before networking not because I’m scared but because I can’t bear to not be myself. It’s what I do when the stakes are low so I know where to go when the stakes are high. It’s not the most sexy or socially acceptable thing but it’s what keeps me going. It’s not easy work, but it sure is right.
4.) Nix the one-sided emotional labor and replace it with a two-sided emotional investment.
This one is maybe the most profound (and hardest) for me. Emotional labor is what it sounds like: doing the emotional work to make something function. It’s actually a good thing, but becomes dangerous when it is ridiculously one-sided…and in which case, it’s usually the women who are doing the work.
Emotional labor can look like being the one who is constantly dissecting your friend’s toxic relationships and convincing them to see the light (then they do it again and you do it again, and so on and so forth). Emotional labor can look like putting on a happy face for your partner and “being a light” for them as they continuously stew in their own troubles. Emotional labor can mean decoding the unspoken subtext at work so that everyone can actually get things done. Emotional labor is brushing off micro-aggressions because they’re “not really that big” and “not really worth it” andexcusing your bully in the name of “compassion.” Emotional labor is why it’s so exhausting to be a barista or a server or in the service/hospitality industry in any capacity: you’re soaking in the emotions of each and every customer, many of whom are taking their daily aggravations out on you. It’s your job to keep the peace and “put a smile on their face.”
If you’re in the service/hospitality industry, there are going to be parts of one-sided emotional labor that are unavoidable – you need to figure out your own personal boundaries, makes, and breaks. But let’s talk outside of those instances.
Emotional labor is taxing, and gives all your good stuff to others while leaving zilch for yourself. You can’t drink from an empty well, so to speak. And it’s when we’re feeling empty, depleted, and emotionally dehydrated that things turn really dark.
An emotional INVESTMENT, however, is different. By definition, an investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” Start-ups present investors with data, proof points, and projections for a reason: to let them know their money isn’t going to waste and their investment won’t make them go bankrupt.
With an emotional investment, if you’re devoting your emotional time, effort, and energy to something, you’re going to see a return. Emotional investments might not be two-ways in the moment, but you’ve got proof points that when you need it, you’ll be getting that investment back in your direction. That’s why investors don’t just pour money into companies that sound cool, and why you shouldn’t invest in people who aren’t going to ever give back to you. That’s not being a friend. That’s being a savior, and dehydrating and bankrupting yourself of your most valuable assets.
When you’re feeling like the bad stuff won’t stop, immediately cut ties from one-sided emotional labor. This is the time your emotional investments should be making a return in the form of love, check-ins, and support while you slowly start to build up your emotional funds again. It’s not the time for you to mindlessly spend as you continue to overdraft.
5.) Ask yourself: is this decision PROACTIVE or REACTIVE?
When making decisions during tough, emotionally heavy times, I always ask, “Is this decision proactive, or reactive?” Its a practice that got me through a really horrible breakup in my 20s and it’s yet to fail me. Am I reacting to my situation and letting it dictate my actions, or am I proactively moving THROUGH the darkness, the fear, the anger, the confusion, the whatever-it-is, to make my way through to the other side? Here’s a post I wrote for some encouragement when it comes to taking and embracing the small steps that end up making a huge difference.
Above all, know that the know is not the forever. This is a moment in time – a chapter of your story. And while it’s just one chapter, how you choose to read it will inform how you view the other chapters to come.
The storm will pass and the dust will settle, and you’ll still be standing. But the great thing is, you won’t need saving, and you won’t need anyone to “show you the light.” You get to be the star, and you get to write your own success story.
I knew this moment was coming. While not “big” by industry standards, my Instagram numbers were steadily growing, and between three speaking gigs in two weeks and a brand new collab underway, I was seeing an amount of traction that was abnormal for what I’d experienced thus far. I knew, also, that as my “numbers” began to grow, that so would my trolls.Maybe if I kept things sterile and serene on social, but that’s not my jam, because I believe that if you have a voice people are listening to, you should use it.
But also, I know it wouldn’t really matter either way. I could post about politics or I could post about pomegranates. I could post about body image or I could post about the best bakeries in Manhattan. I could post instrospective captions or I could post a string of vague emojis that don’t really mean anything in particular. I know that women are bullied on social media for just existing (much like in life!), and I also know that the more outwardly successful you are, the more bullying comments you receive. Just go to the comments section of anyone you deem even mildly #famous and you’ll see what I mean.
this was the pic, btw.
I also want to add that this isn’t the first time I’ve been harassed online. I’ve received DMs on all platforms and seen men tag each other in my posts commenting with wagging tongues or some other disgusting emoji or outburst. But this was the first public-facing comment that was directly directed at me, whose direct purpose was to knock me down and dehumanize me.
I’d like to say I was unaffected and laughed the second I saw it. But when it showed up in my notifications, my heart dropped. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it – part of me for the last month had been whispering in the back of my mind, Wait for it… – but it still stung. After the first 15 seconds, I shook off the sting and started laughing. I’ve Made It!, I cheered to myself! And proceeded to check out this dude’s account then block and report him, not before (of course) snapping a screenshot for harassment proof and to text my friends. Oh, and blast on my personal social accounts.
I knew sharing this would be a little social experiment. How many people would laugh, how many would get angry? How many would know that this is sadly expected, and how many would be agog that this would happen to ME, “violently positive” (as I’ve been deemed by some friends) Katie Horwitch, who keeps her posts PG-13 at their racy-est and proactive at their most charged? I’ve come to expect a wide gamut of reactions based on the wide gamut of experiences and perspectives all people come into a conversation with.
But what blew me away in THIS conversation was the overWHELMING prevalence of this one comment:
This is obviously a very sad person and we should send him light.
Now, not everyone commented with these exact words. Most came to me in the form of “Wow, what a miserable life he must lead” or “What a sad person he must be” or “Laugh at their misery with compassion” or “Imagine how shitty his existence must be and how badly he must need a hug” or even “By the looks of it, this guy is clearly so sad in life and clearly needs medication.”
I’m not one to downplay mental health issues. But the overarching theme and connecting thread between all of these comments was: he gets a pass because of how hard life must be for him.
I know my friends were well-meaning when saying these things, and didn’t meant to downplay anything. I know this because I know this kind of deescalation is a conversation and perspective that’s been taught. It’s kinder than “stooping down to their level.” It’s more “enlightened.”
It’s the “high road.”
But it begs, no, PLEADS the question:
Why is our default response with hurtful men, particularly WHITE men, to play the compassion card, while when it’s a woman or POC, it’s to get angry and spew hate their way (even when they’re NOT actually being a bully, but that’s another conversation)? Why is it that the bully in the situation gets a free pass when the bully is an angry white dude?
I am strong and confident. I’ll be just fine. But some people aren’t. And saying things like “don’t let it get to you, they’re just sad in real life” excuses the bully’s behavior, writing it off as a supporting example of a greater thesis statement about that person’s life. A life that doesn’t involve you, but in this moment, actually does.
Even more than that, using excuses like “what a sad human being” normalizes pushing others down to make yourself feel better. And even MORE than that- and this is what really gets me – it makes the harrassee, on the prey, feel GUILTY for not feeling compassion for their bully.
I see it happen on a small scale in instances like this one and on a more serious scale with my black or gay friends who are told that they should feel sorry for the people who speak such hateful words about them. That, to quote Shakespeare or someone like him, “they know not what they say” and should be sent, to paraphrase, “love and light.”
Well, I call BS on love and light. I call BS on the default of putting yourself in the shoes of the oppressor, whether it’s the man catcalling you on the street or the online troll smearing your DMs with racism. I call BS on it all.
So how do we do it then? In the true spirit of how I write, and WHAT I write, and what others SHARE on this platform, how does this turn into a proactive post offering tools and insight instead of a reactive post venting and offloading emotion?
•SHARE. Brené Brown says that shame can’t live when spoken out loud. Names are shame’s worst enemy and take away shame’s power. When I share things I feel shame around or stuff people say to me that’s meant to tear me down, though, I check my intenitions behind the share. Am I looking for pity or to engage in a hatefest? Or am I posting to expose darkness, to show that this can happen to anyone, anywhere – and we must join forces to take on that darkness?
•Engage with the bully **when PRODUCTIVE and PROACTIVE.** Is commenting back going to help someone learn something or help prove a point when it comes to creating the world you want to live in? Then post away. I thought of posting a comment back to this guy to show others who might be watching how to disarm a bully (my personal tactic is humor and confusion. “I actually thought of this same joke in middle school so I could poke fun at it before any of the mean 12 year-old boys could!” would’ve done it). But this particular comment was so juvenile and nonsensical that it didn’t deserve the time of day – mine or anyone else’s. If the photo or caption had been different – maybe more sexualized or risque – I would have used it as an opportunity to assert my right to portray my body however I pleased. My right to take pride in my sexuality instead of it simply being fodder for others (men) to comment on and make decisions about.
But this wasn’t the case. It was about him leaving a nonsensical comment that didn’t have anything to do with anything except general punny slut-shaming because it’s “funny” and demeaning. It was a classic bully move. This dude didn’t follow me (I checked). This guy didn’t care about what I had to say. He wanted to come into my space, spit at me, and then leave. It would be a waste of my time to try and engage and create a comment war or generate more anger – all on MY page, mind you, which I have worked hard to build and have strict community guidelines around. Namely, don’t be a dick.
I’ve been shamed before for my choices in clothing or maybe a look that “feels” provocative. But those are my choices. I know who I am and I know what I’m doing. And I will always defend that, so that others who might not be able to find the words themselves can have a point of reference if and when it happens to them.
•SCREENSHOT and REPORT hate speech. I’m not talking about silencing voices you don’t agree with. Don’t do that. It’s a reeeeal bad look, to put it mildly. I’m talking about the old PSA of “if you see something, say something.” I’m talking about if someone is coming at YOU or someone else with toxic, malicious vitriol, take a screenshot for your records and then report that shit. Platforms like Facebook are preaching that they have zero tolerance for hate speech and harassment. At the end of the day, they’re businesses. They exist because of us. And their noble claims of being an inclusive, tolerant zone, as much as I would love to say are all about their core values, are most likely ALSO a direct result of a shift in user experience. See something? Say something. Make those platforms do something about it.
Interestingly enough, this also happened the day before the news broke about the US administration’s talks about making it illegal to recognize more than two genders in our country. I shared a post by my friend Kelsey, which I thought was so succinct and well-written. Not even an hour later, I received an extremely nasty DM from someone telling me that I looked stupid and our country looked stupid, and while I was “over here caring about stupid pronouns” there were “people dying from bombs across the world.” Apparently I wasn’t allowed to care about Trans rights *and* international warfare. ::shrugs::
And this is where it all starts to get blurry. How do you interact with, if you even interact with at ALL, people who are yelling AT you and not speaking WITH you, who slam you with hate speech and view life through a very narrow lens of their own making?
I’m still working this out. Right now, I’m thinking it’s futile to argue with people who are hell-bent on interpreting your words, your decisions, and your SELF as they see fit. As a quote shared by brilliant Vienna Pharon and @mytruthnturs said, “self care is also not arguing with people who are committed to misunderstanding you.”
But I am still learning. And next year, month, week, hour, I might feel differently. That it’s important to speak up no matter what, even if the person on the other end is determined to shut you down. Yet right now, I don’t have time for that shit. I have work to do.
When consulting with brands and “influencers,” I’ve heard people say that they feel like having a certain amount of visibility or recognition will allow them to talk about things they actually want to talk about. That once they reach a certain number or achieve a very specific self dictated level of success, the conversational doors will fly open and the soapbox will appear. When that happens, they say, they’ll talk about racial injustices, gender disparities, wage gaps, the whole shebang. When, when, when.
My question to them is always: why aren’t you talking about these things now, if those are the conversations you want to be KNOWN for having??
And this is where I’m at. In this period of unusually rapid growth, it’s even more vital for me to use my voice in the way I know how and know I must. If you’re looking to build a genuine following and highly engaged community online: post your values. Post your Self. It’ll get rid of the noise real quick, and you’ll end up with the people who are Your People. Win win.
Oh, and as for my last name? You’ll notice I didn’t change it when I got married. Katie Tucker is pretty adorbs and could have worked quite nicely. It could have also avoided this lame bullying comment.
But here’s the thing. I’ve spent years making peace with my last name. I’ve spent years emotionally sifting through the self-deprecating comments of my family members about how much it sucks, or women telling women to make the change as soon as they can. I’ve learned to make loving jokes, and I’ve learned to find the power in it.
One crisp and slightly ethereal day last year, I ran into my friend Michael after I finished teaching one of my classes. Not unusual (we do work at the same place), but this time, his face lit up differently when he saw me in the hallway. Like I was a walking epiphany. “This might sound weird, but I was thinking about your last name the other day,” he started. Oh no, I thought. Here it goes…
“I broke it down and I realized your last name is made up of two labels devised by the patriarchy. ‘Whore’ (or Hor) for sexually empowered women, and ‘Witch’ for socially and politically revolutionary feminists. Your last name is made of up two terms that were created by men to demean strong and powerful women who were viewed as threats. Your last name is basically the most badass, most powerful, and most on-brand last name you could have.”
Damn straight. I’ll take it.
(**my people, for the record, believe in trans rights, believe that black lives matter, believe survivors – and while my people and i might not agree on everything in life, my people like to lean in and get curious way more than lash out and get cruel.)
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UNLIKE MOST KIDS, I don’t remember EVER dreading the first day of school. I might have had a mini panic attack before starting my senior year of high school (first and lasts always get me), but even those years when I switched schools and had to find all new friends, all that ever bubbled up was excitement and enthusiasm.
Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my personality. But there was something about backpack shopping, picking out my outfits, and pouring over the introductory paperwork all the students at my schools were sent pre- Day One that made my heart so very happy. The impending challenges of a new grade – or in some cases, a new school altogether – never really entered my head. Back To School season was the BEST season of the year.
No matter what our lives looked like in those formative years of kindergarten through 12th grade, once September hits the ground running, we’re thrown back into that mentality of going “back to school.” We prepare for a new start, hope for positive change, and cross our fingers that we’ll be able to handle what life dishes out in the coming months.
Without summer vacations and required reading, though, it can be hard as an adult to draw the line between where summer ends and fall begins. Because although we’d love to have an endless summer, and although the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 23rd, we can all feel a shift from the moment Labor Day weekend comes to a close. It’s “back to the grind,” even though most of us have been grinding all year long. And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the time of year so associated with taking a breather completely passed us by. Couple this with a built-in programming from childhood to register this time of year as transitional, and it’s easy to feel a little bummed out by the seasonal shift.
While January usually gets the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September deserves just as much attention as the 01/01 mark.
Autumn is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time for us to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and even those first-day jitters we had as kids. Because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really.
It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves break from the brances so the tree can begin its process of renewal, we too should let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.
This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what your heart truly desires in this moment. Maybe you’ve been skimping on self care and getting a 15 minute sweat in before work is just what you need. Maybe you’ve been so wrapped up in work that your social life isn’t what you’d like it to be. Call a friend you haven’t checked in on in a while. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished this year so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st of next year.
Some thinks I’ll be thinking and questions I’ll be asking myself – feel free to steal them for your own musings:
Who can I look up to who is doing the REAL work, not just what is trendy, popular, or the easy way out?
How can I both grow my business and make my community ATYPICALLY authentic and meaningful?
Mornings. Middays. Bedtimes. What are some ways to tap into my energy levels during each season of the day and maximize my potential, even on those days I’m feeling down in the slumps?
What things are the most important to do each day…and what things are just “routine addiction”? (ex: if I have a podcast interview at 9AM but wake up at 7:30AM, is it more important for me to fit in a workout like I do almost every morning, or take the time to get centered and prepare for a successful conversation?)
Things that make me nervous. If those nerves are created by stories I’ve been telling myself, it’s time to rewrite the narrative by just going for it and doing the damn thing.
There will be challenges in the coming months, of course, and the newness of Fall and Winter will bring all kinds of highs and lows we could never have predicted. But if we shift our perspective to refocus our minds, refresh our hearts, and renew our commitments, there’s no telling what kind of miracles the rest of this year has in store.
Pick out your outfit, grab your backpack, and let’s get on this bus together.
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A couple weeks back, I got an email from the Community Manager at The Fullest, an online magazine I adore that’s dedicated to contemporary culture. It was short, sweet, and to the point: We’ve got a book club series we do in LA and NYC. Would you want to host one?
The answer was obviously an enthusiastic “YES.” (Possibly surrounded by every single celebratory emoji I could find on my keyboard.)
As the little kid who would get in trouble for staying up late to finish every single installment of The Boxcar Children and Babysitter’s Club, toted around all 1400 pages of Les Misérables in my eighth grade backpack, and would usually rather stay in with a trilogy than go out on the town, book clubs are MY JAM. Learning about different perspectives, stories, and revelations, then being able to discuss them with others, isn’t just satisfying to the inner binge reader in me: it calms a very specific social anxiety I sometimes get when I realize I’ve taken a conversation way past the surface-level and the others aren’t feeling it.
When I’m talking about a book I love, I’m unfiltered and all heart – and usually discussing it with people who are on the same page (no pun intended). Just like any worthwhile piece of art, discussing a good book brings out a part of me I sometimes hide in fear of not “fitting in” with those around me.
So when The Fullest told me I got to choose my own book to discuss, it was a no-brainer. If I was gonna go there, I wanted to really go there. I was going to choose the book ABOUT fitting in.
Braving The Wilderness by Brené Brown (whom I oft refer to as HPB – High Priestess Brené) is hands down the most important read right now in our current cultural climate. In actuality, it isn’t only about fitting in – it’s about belonging. There’s a difference between the two, and the fact that so many of us are looking for the former and disregarding the latter is why I truly believe it’s the most important book of the year. Maybe the most important book of the decade. And maybe – no, certainly – the most important book for every single person to have in their hands right now. It could save relationships, save communities…and help us save ourselves.
Some questions the book brought up for me:
When do you feel the biggest sense of belonging? The weightiest pressure to fit in? Where in life can you write yourself a permission slip to be yourself? Do you trust others? But more importantly – do you trust yourself? Like, really, truly. Do you TRUST yourself? In what ways can you trust yourself more? What truths are you telling yourself that might actually be of your own making? Why, as an introvert, can big groups sometimes feel more comforting than one-on-one experiences? Where does dehumanization exist, and how can you combat it? Why are we all so lonley and doing so little about it???
Considering that what ended up being a two-hour book club discussion wasn’t nearly enough time to dig into every single powerful point (and that I’d planned for the discussion to last, oh, 45 minutes or so), starting to dive into all of them on here could result in a whole other book itself (Braving Braving The Wilderness?). So I’ve narrowed it down to some of my favorite points made, and some of the most universal of the universal truths Brené so beautifully lays in front of us to do with them as we will. And man oh man, I hope we do Good with them.
If you read ONE book this year, make it this one. Here are four of my top takeaways:
1. True belonging is the exact opposite of fitting in. One of the reasons this book gets awarded the Katie Horwitch Award (patent pending) for Most Important Book Of The Year is this world-rocking thesis statement. The book begins with a Maya Angelou quote that pissed Brené off:
You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.
True belonging, Brené learns, is about belonging to YOURSELF first and foremost. True belonging is being fully yourself wherever you go, and being called to stand alone. True belonging “doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
Fitting in, then, is the exact opposite. Fitting in is trying to mold yourself to fit a situation, a clique, a stereotype – whatever it is that will make you less like YOU and more like THEM. This simple yet ridiculously profound difference explains a lot. Mainly why so many of us feel so shitty even when we feel we’ve acclimated to whatever group we hoped to become a part of. It’s why so many of us are so lonely even when we’re far from alone. We belong to everyone…everyone else but ourselves.
I’ve been in the “self-improvement”/wellness/mind-body/whatever-you-want-to-call-it world for a while now. I’ve heard the phrase “Belong to yourself” before. That statement alone wasn’t revolutionary to me. But the dichotomy of belonging vs. fitting in WAS. And when I thought deeply about the phrasing and jumbled the words a bit, I noticed something I’d never thought of before.
I belong to me.
To me, I belong.
In my opinion, I belong.
True belonging is about full possession of yourself, sure. But it’s also about BELIEVING in your capacity to belong wherever you go.
2. Don’t study the moment. Be in it. One of my favorite little snippets of storytelling in Braving The Wilderness comes when Brené is about to go on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. She’s walking down the street with her manager, Murdoch, the night before, and he calls her out on how “not-present” she just was at dinner with the Super Soul producer.
She says to him:
Brene: ‘I’m doing that thing I do when I’m afraid. I’m floating above my life, watching it and studying it, rather than living it.’
Murdoch: ‘I know. But you need to find a way to stop and bring yourself back here. This is a big deal. I don’t want you to miss it. Don’t study the moment. Be in it.’
That HIT me. Hard. How many times have we completely missed out on experiencing greatness – big deal, big-ass things – because we were too preoccupied dissecting the moment? How many times have we unknowingly lost love because we were so busy analyzing every little gesture, glance, and word to see if it matched up with our preconceived definitions? How many opportunities have we failed to seize because we were too busy trying to be what we oh-so-carefully deduced the opportunity demanded of us? How many Big Deals have we missed because we were too busy studying them and not enough time being IN them? It hurts my head to think about all the potential moments I’ve missed in the past because I was too busy dissecting them or too preocuppied with “Am I worthy? How do I make myself worthy?” Big-ass things are only big-ass things when we trust ourselves enough to live within them. Otherwise, they’re just a bunch of Somethings that once happened at Some Point.
3. Silence leads to storytelling. Yup. Boom. I’m a pro at this. I’d just never heard it put SO succinctly.
I am an expert storyteller, and I bet you are, too. We tell ourselves stories to fill in the blanks – not because we’re all masochists, but because we’re trying to make sense of the broken pieces. Maybe you weren’t chosen to work on a project because your manager needs you to have availability for an even greater task that’s coming up a few months down the line – but without asking a simple question or two (spoiler, try “Why?” to start), your brain probably decides it’s because you’re ill-equipped or pissed someone off. Maybe your friend didn’t call or text you back because they’re going through a tough time and feel overwhelmed – but without checking in, you might assume it’s because you did something wrong. Maybe your date let out a long SIGH at the end of the night because they got a text from their manager on their day off – but without asking, I bet you assume it’s because they’re sick of spending time with you.
These are all just small examples, but small examples turn into big stories. And the big stories we weave for ourselves are made up of multiple threads of actual or perceived truth upon actual or perceived truth. Every story we tell informs the next action we take – and sets the stage for how we’re going to react to the next thing that comes our way.
Our lives are our collection of stories. So what kind do you want to tell?
4. Bullshit is in a whole other ballpark than Truth and Lies – which is why it feels so wrong. I always thought there were two options when it came to communication: telling the truth or telling lies. But it turns out, most of what I was referring to as Lying was actually something else. Bullshitting.
Brené describes truth and lies as opposing players in the same game. BS, however, completely disregards the game. She quotes Harry Frankfurt’s book On Bullshit and says, “It’s helpful to think of lying as a defiance of the truth and bullshitting as a wholesale dismissal of the truth.”
She goes on to say we use bullshit to talk about things we don’t understand. To be a part of a conversation based on what you guess “your people” think about it. And it’s what creates black-and-white ideaologies of You’re Either With Us Or Against Us.
Oof. LOL to how many pages I dogeared and underlined in this chapter.
I always tell my husband, Jeremy, that his biggest strength and biggest weakness is that he’s able to see all sides of any situation. For the LONGEST time, this frustrated the hell out of me. Just agree with me! I’d silently stew. Don’t you think that’s just HORRIBLE?? I’d ask, words loaded, out loud. I couldn’t get over that he just wouldn’t choose a point to be for or against.
I grew up around adults who jumped to conclusions fast and expressed opinions even faster – and I have what used to be painful memories of being “put in my place” and silenced when I tried to see all sides.
I know I’m not alone in that kind of upbringing. Because look at our country. Look at our world. We wouldn’t be this way if we weren’t, generation after generation, either overtly or passive-aggressively either silenced or forced to pick sides. We are living in Bullshit Nation.
The solution to this? Brené says we need to call out bullshit…with CIVILITY. “Speaking truth to BS” doesn’t mean pointing fingers or placing blame. It means disagreeing respectfully and getting curious about where opinions and information come from.
While Jeremy’s see-all-sides and ask-all-questions approach can be frustrating when I just want him to show me he has an opinion that’s all his own, I know he’s right. Our opinions can be loaded. And there is no way we can evolve into the people we want to be – individually or collectively – if we give up on each other and don’t get curious about how those opinions came to be in the first place. There is no way we will ever find a sense of belonging if we keep choosing a culture of Fitting In.
I say it on the WANTcast all the time, and I’ll say it here again for the people in the back: I truly believe that curiosity could change the world. And with the help of Braving The Wilderness, it just might.
Thank you to The Fullest for asking me to be a part of your book club! To get involved with The Fullest, click here.
Have you read Braving The Wilderness yet? What are your top takeaways from the book? If you haven’t read it yet, was there something in this post that piqued your interest? Should I host another discussion of Braving The Wilderness either in-person or on IG Live?????
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