Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I’ve always loved transitions – especially the ones that happen in September. I’d turn another year older, my favorite TV shows would start back up (no more Summer reruns!), and school would finally, finally be in session again.

New grade!

New teachers!

New books!

New projects!

HOMEWORK!!!!


No? Just me? Wouldn’t be surprised.

Unlike most kids, I always looked forward to the first day of school. Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my Type A- personality pumped for the structure. 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.

 

Back To The Grind

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you held a No. 2 pencil in your hand: for most former-kids, September will forever be synonymous with “Back To School.” The seasonal shift from Summer to Pre-Autumn to full-on-FALL signals that something new’s afoot – new friends, new challenges, new tests, and new teachers. 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 22nd…we can all feel a shift happen 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 of course, 2020 has been a whole transition and grind of its own. Thank god for the seasons, that know no pandemics or furloughs. Thank goodness for the trees below my apartment window, that layer on the leaves right on cue and shed their layers as we pile on ours. Seasons and Google Cal. My 2020  touchstones. They remind me not only of the actual date but remind me that time goes on…even if I’ve lost all sense of time, days, weeks, and months (the amount of times I’ve woken up not knowing what day it was has been sitcom-worthy, except without any laugh tracks or plot twists tied up in 30 minutes or less).

And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the Summer months 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 once September hits.

At this point in 2020, you might be ready to Rip-Van-Winkle it and nap your way into the future. Or at least 2021. But even though there’s been so many struggles, so much sadness, and so many Groundhogs Day-esque weeks and months, I urge you – please do not opt out of the challenge right before the change arrives.

 

The New January

While January usually gets all the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September holds just as much promise as the 01/01 mark.

Pre-Autumn and Fall is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and maybe even those first-day jitters you had as a kid (because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really). And Fall 2020 just might just be the turning point you’ve been waiting for and working toward.

But you’ll never know if you don’t show up.

At this point in the year, you might be feeling defeated. I get it. Another new start and transition is exactly what I DON’T need right now. Has ‘normalcy’ ever felt like such a valuable commodity? Normal seasonal shifts feels like it would be such a luxury to experience. It’s tough to get excited for Fall or take advantage of the Dog Days Of Summer when you’re still mourning the loss of Spring.

This should feel easier, you might think. This should feel natural. If anything should feel normal, it should be the seasonal shift. A transition I’ve done so many times before.

Except not.

At all.

Starting anything - a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season - is hard. The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next.

 

It’s Not About Easy, It’s About Right

Starting anything – a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season – is hard. It is really really hard. In 2020 or otherwise. No matter how exciting it reads or how major it feels or how much promise it holds or how many time you’ve ever started fresh. Hardness and newness will always be the best of friends.

The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next. 

Because it doesn’t get easier, it just morphs along the way. And when you keep going, and keep committing yourself to being proactive and not reactive, you learn to let go of what you feel should be. You start to work intimately with what already is toward what can be.

Maybe you learn to like the tough of it – and even if you don’t like it, maybe you even learn to love it with that type of unconditional love that’s more about appreciation than approval – and you let go of what doesn’t serve you and you stick with the rest (which is hard to do, too). Or maybe it all morphs altogether, and you end up starting down a whole new tough path you never even intended on going down.

And the starting doesn’t stop and the hardness doesn’t stop, but you learn you can take it, you can handle it, and the toughest stuff is ultimately what becomes the fabric of who you are and why you’re here.

And then you maybe realize that all this time, it was never about easy or hard at all. It was just about what’s right. For you.

 

Your Own Personal Season

This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s right for you. Evaluate what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or what you’ve accomplished in 2020 so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021. So much of what we learn, how we grow, what we accomplish, and how we want to feel depends on the decisions we make, not the places we go (or don’t) or things we buy (or don’t) or titles we hold (or don’t).

It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves fall away from their branches so the tree can begin its process of renewal, nature encourages us to let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.

We’ve got four whole months. A THIRD of the year left. You have so much time. It’s all about what you do with it.

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.

New people.

New books.

New projects.

New homework.

Pick out your outfit and grab your backpack.

Class is in session.

Don’t ditch this one.

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You Must Imagine.

You Must Imagine.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

A story.

Last year on our trip to Italy, we visited the ruins of Pompeii. As our tour guide gestured toward the empty rooms and half-demolished ovens and sprawling town squares, she invited us into the ancient world by using one phrase over and over: “You must imagine…”

“You must imagine, here is where the baker would ground the grains for his daily goods”

“You must imagine, this street was once was a bustling throughway from the docks to the town”

“You must imagine, it was a clear day…”

We walked through the town, imagining the kitchens and living rooms and baths. The celebrations. The rituals.

And the devastation.

The suffering.

The feelings of being scared and alone.

The imagination hurt. The imagination was necessary.

Since that day in Pompeii, I‘ve done my best to catch myself when I say “I cannot imagine” and rid it from my conversations. I used to think it was a phrase of compassion – but it’s the exact opposite. Because to not imagine is my privilege showing. I CAN imagine, because I MUST imagine. There is no other way.

I’ve begun to realize the prevalence of “I cannot imagine” as not just a socially-acceptable response to a traumatic event, but as a way to perform empathy. But what I’ve also started to realize is that responding “I cannot imagine” is just that: a performance of empathy. An artistic interpretation. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, doesn’t matter. Stating “I cannot imagine” creates a barrier between us and the truth. 

You cannot selectively empathize. You cannot “not imagine.” Because altering your empathy and only allowing yourself to imagine the best of times isn’t really empathy at all. It’s ignorance.


Imagine #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor and #GeorgeFloyd and #NinaPop and #TonyMcDade. Imagine #ChristianCooper. Imagine how many cases like theirs occur that don’t ever get attention because there are no videos circulating on social media. Imagine all the cases that have occurred that never got attention because they happened when social media wasn’t a thing. Imagine #SandraBland and #MikeBrown and #AltonSterling and #TrayvonMartin and their families. Imagine what it means to fear for your safety every single day. Imagine outliving your child, or grandchild, and imagine them becoming a hashtag. Imagine. Do not shut off or opt out or create the imagination barrier.

To create lasting change – and to be actively anti-racist – we MUST put ourselves in each others’ shoes. We must feel broken apart by pain and suffering and injustice,and then GET UP and do the real work to unbreak our collective heart and reimagine our collective coexistence.

As Rachel Cargle says, “I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action.” The solidarity is important. The action is crucial. And it all starts with the willingness to imagine.

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

We must imagine so our eyes are wide open.

We must imagine so we don’t forget.

And then, we must turn our imagination into action.

 

The following lists are action steps: books to buy, places to donate, people to follow on social media, education tools to dive into – all of which I’ve also done myself. They’ll all, btw, lead you to more action steps, books to buy, places to donate, people to follow, tools to use to learn and unlearn, and more. I encourage you to keep going.

To be clear, I’m not the authority on anti-racism work or even *an* authority – there are many, many others out there who have been doing this work for years. I am this journey of learning and unlearning, too. So if I can be the middle-woman to introduce you to some of those voices, great. Be sure to follow them, buy their books, join their courses, donate, and support the work they do…

And then share their work with your communities. Have conversations on the phone and on FaceTime and at your dinner tables. It’s 2020, and sometimes it can feel like social media allyship is enough. But real change happens in the real world. Posts are very important, YES, but what happens outside of Instagram or Facebook is just as important if not (read: definitely) more important. A post or hashtag without action behind it is what’s called “performative allyship” (Google the phrase if you’d like to learn more). If you’re feeling lost and don’t know what to do, Mireille Harper has a great list of steps toward non-optical allyship that is so very useful.

On WANT, we talk a lot about diving in, digging deep, and “making shift happen.”

This is the time, more than ever, to dive in, dig deep and make shift happen on a real, lasting level.

 



THINGS TO DO (that I’ve personally done as well)

Join Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn
Buy these books:
Me And White Supremacy by Layla Saad (and then do the exercises – as she says, “it’s a book you DO”)
Antagonists Advocates and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
Dive into Leesa Renee Hall’s work (and Patreon!). You’re an HSP and feeling completely overwhelmed? She’s created work just for HSPs!
Donate to your local bail fund (Google “bail fund [your city or state]”) and/or The Bail Project
Support George Floyd’s family
Support Ahmaud Arbery’s family
Donate to Campaign Zero as they work to end police brutality
Donate to Unicorn Riot as they expose root causes of social and environmental issues
Donate to Black Visions Collective as they create transformative, long-term change
Read and put into action the steps outlined in Mireille Harper’s guide to non-optical allyship


RESOURCES + EDUCATION: PEOPLE + ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA

@ckyourprivilege
@nowhitesaviors
@reclamationventures
@mireillecharper
@austinchanning

@rachel.cargle
@laylafsaad
@diveinwell
@decolonizing_fitness
@decolonizingtherapy
@chaninicholas
@blackgirlinom
@blklivesmatter
@ibramxk
@iamrachelricketts
@austinchanning
@dr.kholi
@cleowade
@mspackyetti
@theconsciouskid
@nicoleacardoza
@wellreadblackgirl
@goodancestorpodcast
@sincerely.lettie
@glowmaven
@maryamajayi
@naacp
@colorofchange

*A note about social media: there are actual people behind these accounts that are putting forth massive emotional, mental, and physical energy to educate and fight for change. Treat them as such. They are more than just “resources.” Follow, learn, unlearn, pay them for their education and energy, and amplify their voices by sharing.

One more time for the people in the back:

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

cover image by @emilyonlife

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

DEAR MOMS,

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Maybe it’s been forced or routine.

But this is a different kind of thank you.

An honest thank you, to all mothers, biological AND emotional, a thank you for everything you teach to those around you on a daily basis…whether you realize it or not.

 

me + my mom on my wedding day, 2017


TO ALL MOMS OUT THERE:

Everyone speaks of the sacrifices of motherhood, but in my eyes I have only seen freedom. Well, a different kind of freedom. Maybe not the freedom to jet off for a spontaneous weekend or sleep in ’til however long you’d like on the weekends, but an awareness and a courageousness that comes with being a mom – and that represents an incredibly unique type of freedom. Freedom of the heart to love as hard as it pleases, freedom of the spirit to dive into the kinds of big decisions that most only dip their toes into. It’s a kind of freedom that’s not often talked about amidst the hardships and challenges and struggles of motherhood, but it is a freedom that sets an example for the rest of us, a crash course in how to own your own unique brand of leadership. It’s a freedom to allow yourself to start with a fresh slate, to scrap everything you thought you knew, over and over again.

From the time you “get the news” all the way past when your grandchild is born, being a mother means being able to start over with renewed confidence and focus time and again. Most people stay in their bubble of comfort for far longer than it serves them, afraid to begin anew or open themselves up to life’s many shifts. While I’m not saying you’re never afraid (you’re only human!), you feel the fear and do it anyway. Thank you for constantly moving forward. Thank you for showing the rest of us what a different kind of freedom looks like.

 

 

TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO ARE MOMS:

Thank you for showing me what motherhood looks like from all angles. From you, I’ve learned that one style does not fit all, that there is really no “technique” that is fool-proof and no way that’s the right way. In observing you approach motherhood from your own angle, I’ve learned something way beyond what it means to be a mother – something bigger. I’ve learned what it means to attack life without being a carbon copy, about how to navigate life on your own terms.

I look upon you with awe as you make decisions for your family and yourself with such confidence, with such assuredness, because there are more important things that must be done than let uncertainty rule your day. I can sometimes sense a slight fear of not knowing what’s right, and when I’m lucky, you let me behind the curtain and share your uncertainties with us. Please know I will always, always listen. You consistently show me that the only “right” choices are those you make from your heart. Thank you for letting me in on your journey.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom… Click To Tweet


TO MY OWN MOM:

The thank-yous could pile up if I let them. Thank you for encouraging my creativity, thank you for being an open book, thank you for driving me around and reading to me from four books every night. But if I could thank you for one thing only, I would thank you for teaching me how to be a leader, both personally and professionally. You realize that relationships, just like anything else worthwhile, are work – and you put the care and effort in every single time. In your friendships, you’re happy going out on the town yet equally happy to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and storytelling. You’re one of those women that was born to be a mother, born to be a shoulder for everyone you love to lean on. And yet you never forget to take care of yourself. You’re not a pushover in the least, you’re not a people-pleaser. And yet you somehow know how to take care of everyone at once, including yourself. You know that you cannot love anyone else unless you love yourself first. Yes, there are times you complain about the lines around your eyes or the rogue grays at your roots, but every step you take is that of a woman who at her core absolutely loves who she is. You’re a presence – even when you’re not trying to be. Thank you for teaching me how to walk with that kind of confidence.


I’ve also learned about myself, my uniqueness, and in trying to emulate you in so many ways I’ve learned who it is I really am. I am silly, sometimes in the same way you are, sometimes in a way that’s completely my own. While you are the life of the party, I’m the person who sticks with one or two conversations all night. I laugh like you, I think, at the same things and with the same reckless abandon. I cry when I laugh, every time, which I know I inherited from you too (thank you for laughing so much). I’ve learned that although we joke and claim otherwise, you don’t know everything, and that you’re just as often wrong as you are right.

Because of that I’ve learned it’s okay not to have all the answers.

I’ve learned that there are lessons I am yet to learn, ones you’ve known for your whole life – and similarly, there are lessons I’ve got under my belt that you’re still figuring out. I don’t fault you for it, I love you more for it. I’m more like you, mom, than I’d sometimes like to admit – and less like you, mom, than you’d sometimes like to admit. It’s that fine balance of similarities and differences that is at the core of our relationship.

TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WILL CHOOSE NOT TO (OR CANNOT) HAVE CHILDREN AND STILL MOTHER:

I cannot say this any better than my mentor-from-afar Glennon Doyle:

“The old definition of mother: a woman who gives birth to a child, adopts a child or marries into a family – doesn’t ring true enough. I have stopped thinking of MOTHER as a fixed identity- something you are or you are not and more of an energy all of us have inside of us – that we are either unleashing or not.

Because don’t we all know mothers who have given birth to babies but never unleashed nurturing energy even for a moment? And don’t we know men and women and non-binary folks who have never given birth and who spend every single day unleashing creative nurturing energy that gives birth to beautiful new things and nurtures existing things? It strikes me that an out of proportion number of women who are mothering the world in HUMUNGOUS ways (Liz [Gilbert] and Oprah come to mind right away) are women who chose not to raise children on their own. Because they had wider mothering to do: they knew they were born to use their mothering energy less like a laser and more like a floodlight.

In Sue Monk Kidd’s breathtaking new book: The Book of Longings she suggests that maybe the question is not whether not you are a mother but WHAT WILL I MOTHER INTO THIS WORLD?

Watch her whole Morning Meeting on mothering here:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Glennon Doyle (@glennondoyle) on


 


We all have something to love, whether it be a child or pet or even a vase filled with flowers picked by hand at the Farmer’s Market.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom you feel when you make a decision and stick with it.

And one day, we can get to be that person for someone else, too. Maybe we are right now.


Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who possess and demonstrate motherhood on a daily basis – in your family and beyond. The kind of motherhood that knows no  the one that protects and loves in a way that’s uniquely your own, and teaches us all to do the same.

 


all wedding photos by krista ashley.


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a version of this originally appeared on the chalkboard mag.

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Blind Optimism: On Cultivating Real-Deal Positivity

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

My amusement park ride of choice as a highly sensitive kid was the carousel. No big drops. No unexpected moves. No aggressive sounds or strobe light effects. Just an expected gallop in the round. I could get on my favorite horse and, for three whole minutes (or more), escape from everyone and everything around me (or more).

I’m a Libra, and true to my astrological nature, I appreciate aesthetic. So of course, part of the appeal was that I loved how pretty carousels are. Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park or fairground knows: carousels are very, very pretty. Porcelain hollow horses and spherical moulding on loop.

Most carousels cost mere quarters to ride, so it’s easy to just stay on and go around in circles ad nauseam. A tactic I vividly remember employing on one particular trip to the Santa Monica Pier when the roller coasters and target-shooting games felt too overwhelming to even walk around. Those were scary. The carousel made me smile. So I stayed on.

But the thing about rides is that they need to end at some point. At SOME point, the carousel needs to stop. You get off your literal high-horse, and you’re faced with the world beyond the beautiful lights and porcelain fairytale creatures. And if you’ve stayed on too long, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble off a bit more than wobbly.


Our culture has a negativity problem and a cynicism problem – but it also has an optimism problem.

To be clear: Living with an optimistic outlook on life is a strength. No doubts there. Living optimistically usually means you’re forward-thinking and naturally see what could be. You find the beauty in the seemingly possible, instead of the darkness in the seemingly inevitable. No, optimism (lower-case-o, neutral tone) by itself isn’t bad at all.

HOWEVER. Just like anything, there’s a necessary energetic balance that makes optimism actually work.

If you pay very close attention, you’ll feel the disconnect when optimism starts to go downhill. When it happens, that once-proactive optimism will start to shut out the realities of life as a means of avoidance, and chalk it up to “looking on the sunny side of life” or a “glass-half-full” mentality.

How does this happen? How can something so inherently good betray us?

 

I call it Blind Optimism.

 

Blind Optimism is what happens when you rely on your positive outlook to ignore, shut out, fabricate and gloss over your life. It can minimize experiences and eat you alive – just like Casual Negativity, cynicism, auto-pilot pessimism, and projection. It can gnaw away at your spirit, your relationships, and roll a haze of oblivion over your existence.

Blind optimism makes me dizzy – just like carousels. Blind Optimism turns me away from facts and reality in favor of the shiny, pretty thing around the corner. I get onboard and go in circles over and over and over and over until I get dizzy and lose my bearings.


When you find yourself caught in a nonstop-carousel-ride moment of Blind Optimism, one of two things starts to happen:

a) The carousel stops being fun and eventually breaks down. There’s only so much you can give. There’s always a breaking point when it comes to extremes. Always.

b) The carousel becomes annoying, saccharine, and dismissable; something other people tire of and don’t want to go near. It’s cheesy and trite at best, ignorant and entitled at worst. You become a part of a fairy tale world playing on loop – one that’s in no way a reflection of real life. You find yourself alone, on a ride going nowhere.

We love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them. Click To Tweet

I’m known for being able to see the good in things. One of my friends calls me “aggressively optimistic.” And when we’re all stuck in the collective doldrums together, I’m often asked how I stay so optimistic.

The funny thing is – I don’t view myself as a glass-half-full Optimist. Pollyanna was admirable, but always bugged me for some reason (which made me feel guilty, of course – sorry Hayley Mills). I always loved the brilliantly crafted songs and rad penguin dance parties in Mary Poppins, but the Practically Perfect nanny was never relatable to me.

When asked for my “secret,” I reveal that I’m not really a bona fide Optimist (capital O, chipper voice).


My brand of positivity isn’t about what’s GOOD or BAD, it’s about what’s pragmatic and proactive instead of unrealistic and reactive.


Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and some moments will seem more hope-filled than others. So what can you do about it?

You can see the facts in front of you and the projected outcomes ahead of you, and you can root for the positive while still recognizing the negative. It’s not about putting on blinders and ignoring that things aren’t perfectly in place or might go awry – or maybe already have in a major way. It’s about taking in the world as is, seeing the full spectrum of its experience and existence, and choosing to proactively fight for an outcome that uplifts us collectively.

It’s like true love: we love fullest and deepest when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them.

optimism


To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, our love of life and love of self MUST transcend those pitfalls and darkness.
It starts by moving forward through things instead of around them. It starts with granting ourselves permission to let our Self-Like to ebb and flow (because it’s normal and because we’re human) and by viewing Self-Love as the kind of unconditional, unbreakable love that no high-high or low -ow can affect.

To break away from Blind Optimism and into Pragmatic, Proactive Positivity, we must let go of rushing into the search for how good things CAN be in the future (or not), and instead sit with how good things are right NOW (or not). We must begin to look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that’s being sipped from every moment.

Easy but nuanced. Simple yet scary. It’s not easy work, but it’s right work. And it’s the work that’ll lead us to finding our genuine smiles, without the help of the ceramic ponies and the carousel leading nowhere.

blind optimism and real positivity

Look at the glass not as half empty or half full, but as a glass that's being sipped from every moment. Click To Tweet

 

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Experiential Longing: The Simplest Hack For When You Miss Things.

Experiential Longing: The Simplest Hack For When You Miss Things.

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

One of my favorite things in the world is sitting outside with a warm cup of coffee. A to-go situation works, but the best is with actual ceramic cups. There’s something so simple in the magic of watching the steam slowly rise in little loose tendrils, then disappear into the air. There’s something so calming about sitting with a delicately sculpted handle between your fingers staring out at the world and daydreaming. There’s something quite wonderful about those shallow pieces of everyday art you sip from a place other than your home – oversized or shrunken down, they’re usually shallower than usual, usually heavier than usual, and usually feel like you’re being treated to a tender moment by the barista or server in their home away from home. Over a cup of coffee, we soften and time slows down.

Jeremy and I agreed that sipping slowly on a fresh brew was one of our favorite parts of our honeymoon in Italy. Every day at 4pm, we’d head to the Piazza Navona and order a coffee as we watched the street performers dance and the students chase after the flocks of pigeons. When we go to Positano, we treated ourselves to the luxury of coffee delivered to our room each morning. We’d sit on the balcony together, overlooking the ancient church and the bluest blue ocean, and life seemed as perfect as it would ever be. Sitting and sipping was already a “thing” we did here at home, but after that trip, we made it a HABIT.

 

We work so hard to create habits that uplift us instead of harm us. No one habit is right for everyone, but it’s a proud day when you realize you’ve found what works for YOU. We replace draining after-work beers with energizing barre classes (and maybe beers after but that’s besides the point). We wake up early with the sunshine instead of pressing “snooze” 12 times and then rushing to begin the day. We journal our emotions instead of making jabs that hurt others. When we feel screens burning our eyes, we replace them with pages of books. We go to therapy. We make – and keep – friend dates. We visit our parents. We give ourselves moments of pause instead of blazing through each day.

So when life turns those habits upside down and throws them out the window, it’s natural to spiral into sadness and miss things deeply. It’s not just that your routines and practices have been taken away from you – it’s that mindfully-built sense of pride and self-appreciation that’s bruised, too.

I was looking through our photos from Italy last year, and got SHARP PANGS of sadness that not only would our next travel-adventure be postponed till who knows when, but that even the ritual of going to my local coffee shops, cafes, and diners, and slowing down over a perfect cuppa was a thing of the future and past but definitely not the present. I can’t even visit the hole-in-the-wall down the street, get my brew to-go, tip my favorite barista generously after bonding over the late-90s playlist crooning at us over the sound system, and sit leisurely on a bench with that tiny luxury in hand while watching all the world go by. I had done such a great job at honing the art of the peaceful pause and implementing our Italian habit back here at home.

As I scrolled through my Camera Roll, cried a little over the photos of us smiling on the Il San Pietro terrace, and laughed at the forgotten videos taken in the middle of the streets, I was ready to craft an Instagram post following suit of many of the people I’m seeing: posting a carousel of snapshots, accompanied by a caption titled THINGS I MISS. It was 8am. What I wouldn’t give for a delicate cup and saucer in the fresh air…

 

My “oh, DUH” moment came to me about about 8:02am. Wait a second. We have cups and saucers we bought in Italy! We drink coffee every morning! What if…what if we upgraded from our typical mugs to these delicate, fancy, unique pieces of art?

It obviously wouldn’t solve anything major…but, how would it make me FEEL?

 

We pulled out the ceramics from the top shelf above the sink – two hand-painted cups and saucers that had been sold to us in Ravello by the owner of the family-owned shop, Cosmolena (“My father was Cosmo and my mother was Lena!”), just after he’d demonstrated to us their indestructibility by banging them onto the top of the iron display table. Red stripes and blue florals wrapping around the sides. Plates perfectly spun on a potter’s wheel with the love and care of someone who takes great pride in their generations-long history of craftsmanship.

And just like that, my sadness turned into gladness. I felt time slow down as I balanced the saucer in my hand, careful not to let the coffee spill over the shallower-than-usual sides. I took a sip and was transported to the cliffs of Positano, and the piazza in Rome, and the restaurant in Ravello, and the balcony of the hotel where we spent our honeymoon, and the random cup we stopped to sip in Amalfi. My heart warmed (or maybe it was just my esophagus) as I thought of all the cups of coffee we’ve sipped throughout our time in NYC, and got excited for when we’re able to do it again.


You know to call someone when you miss them. But what if what you miss isn’t able to be dialed on the phone – what happens when it’s EXPERIENTIAL LONGING?

When life feels tough and you’re missing so many things it feels like your heart might shatter, find something that reminds you of something else you miss, and put it to use. Why let them collect dust when they could be bringing you joy? No, it won’t make the thing you miss magically appear – BUT, it will trigger at least some of the positive feelings associated with it. And right now, that might be just enough to get you in a proactive, not reactive, head-and-heart space.

When you miss celebrating birthdays and weddings, use the fancy dishes you got for your wedding or wear your favorite “celebration” outfit. When you wish you could hug your family, use the serving tongs that were passed down to you from your grandma (and send a picture to your sibling or cousins to share the moment with them). When you’re longing to go on vacation, drink out of those glasses you bought on your last adventure. Heck, when you’re missing window shopping, put flowers in the vase that has been hiding in the back of your closet for years!  It’s so small and simple but makes just the right amount of a difference when you’re in the middle of Missing.

Nothing is too nice to use now. If you’ve deemed it “too nice to use,” it probably also holds some sentimental value, since we’re way more reluctant to use the really nice things that MEAN something.

But if not now, when?

i miss this coffee cups

6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media (Without Disconnecting)

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

I’m what’s considered an Older Millennial, which means I’m a part of the age group that both grew up with the internet and vividly remembers a time without it. I still remember the ancient dial-up chords of the Prodigy and America Online-era World Wide Web, the rush of excitement when you finally made it “online” (because that thing was SLOW), and the hope that someone wouldn’t pick up the landline, break your connection, and ruin it all. “Inbox Zero” wasn’t the badge of honor – a full inbox, however, was. Hearing the words You’ve Got Mail were like digitized music to your ears.

You had MAIL!!!

On your COMPUTER!!!

Ah, the olden days…

My family got America Online – or AOL for the kiddos reading – in 1997. Soon thereafter, my tweenage self found a special corner of the not-so-dark internet that seemed to be reserved especially for me: the musical theatre message boards. In each thread detailing touring companies of Les Misérables and each challenge asking your Top 25 cast albums, I found a community where I was able to be ME. Never once did I think twice about who I was talking to or the validity of the information shares – and I certainly didn’t ever consider that I could fabricate a personality online that was different from than who I was IRL. The outside world what where I pretended. This new, magical online space was where I could fully exhale and bring all of my nuances, quirks, and passions to the (pixelated) table.

One of my most vivid and impactful memories of the dawning of the internet is when my high school English teacher had to explicitly tell us that Wikipedia was not a reliable source to credit in research papers. WHAT?! There is stuff on the internet that isn’t true?! There are people who aren’t who they say they are?! Well geez. This takes the fun out of things. No more message boards, I guess.

The digital socialization that happened in the message boards and chat rooms of the late-’90s was the precursor to what we now know as social media. I remember MySpace, I remember Friendster. LiveJournal, anyone?

And then, the summer before my first year of college, I signed up to get an invite to an exclusive website connecting me to all my future classmates. It was called The Facebook.



The internet – and social media – have evolved a LOT since the 90s and early 2000s and the days of yore when Facebook had a THE before it and only allowed you to update your status in ways that completed the sentence “So-And-So is…” And with that evolution, we’ve had to reinvent what it means to be MINDFUL, over and over again.

Maybe you’re already mindful IRL. You’re present in your conversations, you live for the now, and you’re all about savoring the moment. Some might have trouble tuning into life when today’s technology provides such a fun distraction – but for you, the fun is right in front of you in real time.

But here’s the hard reality: social media, smartphones, and being in-somewhat-constant-contact are not the exception anymore, they’re the norm. Whereas outlets like Instagram and Twitter were once fun escapes, they’ve become a vital component of connection in the world we live. And while we’re not necessarily living for another moment because of social media…the moments we are living for are the same ones we’re expected to stop, drop, and document to keep our “brand” alive, both online and off.

Whether you’re looking to grow your business, or are the average social media user catching up on cute baby/puppy pics and posting funny memes, the social media overwhelm is REAL. So many people to keep up with! So much news being thrown at us! It’s almost too much to handle, especially if you’re the type of person who likes to savor the moment.

And then, enter the For-Now-Normal of the last few weeks. With so much on hold, it can seem like social media is one of the ONLY things that’s kept on chugging and churning as expected. Maybe your social media usage was mild or moderate before all this…but day by day, you’ve seen your screen time go up and felt your anxiety follow suit.

 

It’s not just that social media is a distraction – it’s that it makes us question how true our truths really are.

Just like a baby slowly learns that crying isn’t just a mode of calling for help but a surefire way to steal mom’s focus, social media can suck you in and make you feel as if every update, every post, every link and every Boost is a make-or-break scenario.

While I’m all about the power of a double-tap, it’s vital we learn to build healthy relationships and set boundaries on our smartphones. Here are six solid social media tips + strategies to follow (no pun intended) so you can have your life and post it, too.



6 Ways To Set Boundaries On Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN SCROLLING:


1. QUESTION NEWS SOURCES.

Many times we’ll see a headline, gasp, and share so someone else can share in our rage/elation. But how often do you look at the URL where it came from? Is this source credible? Is it from a viable news outlet, like the New York Times or CNN, or is it from a site called something like icantbelieveitsnotbetter.com ?? It’s called “click bait” for a reason: its main point is to lure you in so you will click and BITE.

You can usually see the news source in the link preview. Train yourself to look at THAT first – yes, even before thinking about the headline – then decide whether you’ll click and share. If it’s real news, there’s a good chance it’s being reported on a more credible news site where you can find real reporting – if it’s not, then it’s not worth reading anyway (no matter HOW much it’s playing to your emotions).

2. PRACTICE COMO: CELEBRATION OF MISSING OUT.

Feeling envy bubble up when you see someone else doing something you with YOU could do or have, too? True jealousy, by definition, is a reaction to the threat of LOSING something you have. Envy, however, arises when you find yourself LACKING something someone else has. (*If you’re unsure which is which,here’s a primer on distinguishing the two.)

If you find yourself being envious of someone else on social media, ask yourself what about that thing resonates the most. What is it you want? And then CELEBRATE it for the other person. When you choose to celebrate what you want, even when someone ELSE has it, the universe takes a little mental note that you know that opportunity isn’t a limited resource. If you see scarcity, you get scarcity. Only those who recognize that there’s space out there for them can actually FILL it. Plus, in the words of Call Your Girlfriend hosts Ann and Aminatou’s Shine Theory, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.

If it's not the kind of social interaction you'd want to have offline, then why are you having it online? Click To Tweet

3. ENGAGE WISELY.

It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason: it’s supposed to encourage us to be SOCIAL. Would you socialize with someone that made you feel icky? Differing opinions is different than downright bad vibes. Choose wisely what and who you engage with. Make sure your engagement does more good than harm. Basically: If it’s not the kind of social interaction you’d want to have offline, then why are you having it online?


SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS WHEN POSTING:

4. BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.

Posting reactively is the adult equivalent of the temper tantrum. We see or experience something and get so overworked and overwhelmed that we share something, ANYTHING, to let others know how we feel.

Before you lose your cool on the web, ask yourself if what you’re posting is the Communicative Quad-fecta: Kind, True, Helpful, and Necessary. If it’s not, then maybe give yourself a time-out (counting to 20 taking slow breaths helps) to refocus and regroup.

5. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

Like, really, what you truly want to say. When you post a photo or update, what’s the overarching message you want to share with your followers? Do you want to share a snapshot of something you love, spread joy, inform others – or are you trying to keep up with other people’s posts, or use social media as your emotional dumping/venting ground? Do you want Likes and comments, or do you want to impart an actual, meaningful message? Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to social media.

A great picture or quote should support a main message or tell others about who you ARE, not steal the show and tell others what they AREN’T. Set a clear intention before you post, and be honest with yourself about WHY you are posting what you’re posting. And guess what? You DON’T have to keep up with the social media joneses and flood the feed. Authenticity in intention always trumps abundance in action.

6. SET IT AND FORGET IT.

After you’ve posted, let it be! It’s tempting to check your activity log every half-minute, refreshing the page to see if someone else has “Liked,” commented, or retweeted what you’ve shared. Not only is this a time-suck, it’s a strain on your emotions. If you don’t get a surge of attention within minutes, it can seem as if what you had to say or show was not a success, leading you to doubt your credibility, obsess over what you did right or wrong, and agonize over how you can tweak your strategy moving forward. It becomes an abusive relationship that makes you feel like crap.

To keep yourself in a proactive space, it’s vital to set boundaries with your social media. Make a pact with yourself to only check your various social media outlets for activity at specific, limited times throughout the day. Respond, comment, and strategize during these times and these times only, during quiet moments when your attention is not needed elsewhere. Take your pic, share your post, then go make your mark on the world – no filter necessary.

 


WANT Yourself:
Do you have any social media tips and tricks to help you stay sane WITHOUT disconnecting completely? Post in the comments and let us know!


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