A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

A Sense Of Place: On Belonging.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

My first big meltdown when I moved to New York City two years ago wasn’t upon touchdown or our first night in an empty apartment. It wasn’t because someone was rude to me, or I lost my way, or I missed a subway stop or four.

Nope. It was in the gym locker room.

I remember that first week so clearly: the champagne buzz I felt from the newness, the novelty of being able to get anything.you.want.at.all. delivered to your apartment instead of having to lug it home in bags that cut off circulation in your fingertips. The way you could be walking, skipping, singing, sobbing down the street and people accepted you like whatever you were doing was a part of the flow. The waking up early just because we were so excited to experience the morning. I remember so clearly. It was love at first footstep.

And then I lost it. I mean, I knew it was coming at some point – I definitely cried my second night, mostly out of sheer exhaustion – but I didn’t expect that my anticipated feelings of shock, overwhelm, and longing would show their sad faces in the women’s locker room on Greenwich Avenue after I made a corny joke to a stranger thrice my age and she genuinely giggled back.

My gym had been my safe haven in LA, and LA had been my safe haven in my life. Having grown up visiting the City That Never Sleeps on a regular basis but living in the City That Sleeps In Then Goes On A Hike my entire life, I was very familiar with New York but not enveloped in her. It wasn’t just my immediate neighborhood that I felt protected by in LA; it was EVERYTHING. The street signs, the off-ramps. The familiar faces and the predictable reactions. The sunrises, the sunsets, and the days the ocean-fog took over the whole sky so you couldn’t tell when one finished and one began. I knew LA from birth. She WAS me.

I tried my best to recognize this when I lived there, but just like so many things, there is always some little important bit of a-ha that happens when you no longer have that thing you loved. For me, that a-ha came in a locker room when I realized how alone and unfamiliar I felt within my surroundings. How, while I valued anonymity, I also valued (and took for granted) my ability to CHOOSE it.


Humans are pack animals; we’re tribal. We’re not meant to wander the hills alone until we find a mate and then go back off again to raise and let go of our kin. Our brains are hard-wired for connection, and even the most introverted of us need to feel a sense of togetherness to truly thrive. It’s been proven by sciency people who are book-smarter than I am: loneliness leads to depression and is a huge indicator of how long you will live.

I’ve been watching and reading a lot of Brené Brown lately (you should be, too!), especially the interviews and articles surrounding her newest book, Braving The Wilderness. The book is all about belonging, and (no, this isn’t a spoiler) how “fitting in” is actually the exact OPPOSITE of belonging.

When I moved here, I wasn’t looking to fit in – I wasn’t interested in molding myself to fit the shape of someone or something else – but I was struck by how shaken my sense of belonging had become. And moreover, how much I tied my sense of belonging to other people RECEIVING me.

That’s why the older woman laughing at my lame-o offhand comment got me so choked up. That’s why I started to panic as I became new eyes on centuries-old surroundings. I felt unfamiliar. I felt routine-less. And the smallest things like seeing the same parking lot attendant I only thank-you’d and have-a-nice-day’d and gym members I never even spoke to and just silently awkward-nodded to while we grabbed adjacent dumbbells were things I didn’t expect to crave. I thought I was autonomous in LA and above all that neediness, but boy did I have myself fooled. I was dependent on other people to validate my experience.

The last couple years have brought more change to me than I thought possible: two apartments, two neighborhoods, a new job, multiple events, brand new soul-friends, marriage. And as I contemplate where I go from here, as I head closer and closer toward my thirty-second year, which I have ALWAYS felt in my gut holds something major for me (micro- or macro- major, who knows at this point), I think about how my sense of belonging has changed too – or maybe how it hasn’t. I am on the precipice of something big, but for the first time in a while I’m hesitant to take a much-needed step to fall and build my wings on the way down.

Brené says that we belong everywhere when we belong to ourselves. So if I belong everywhere, then why is it that I’m so tied to THIS sense of place? Maybe it’s for the same reason people stay in relationships that are fine but not GREAT, or stay in jobs that earn enough to live but don’t add enough to LIFE. Because I “know” this sense of belonging is secure IF I just do all the right things, and check off all the to-do boxes, and it’s a very external and define-able belonging. Predictability and ease. Mother-effers.

Once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity - which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it - everything is magic. Click To Tweet

When I moved here, I felt placeless. I remember telling my friend Sarra that I felt freaked out by the amount of places I could go where I knew no one and no thing (Soak it in while you can, she said). I belonged to no one and no thing. I was trying to see where I fit, and tried on a lot for size. I don’t think I really knew how to belong to myself yet. That’s the cool thing about New York, though: it FORCES your identity out of you. The people who try to fight the force are the ones who have it hardest in life, but especially life in this city. But once you stop trying to fight your emerging identity – which is tough, because trying to fight it can sometimes FEEL like trying to find it – everything is magic.

I don’t think everyone is able to belong – or rather, find a sense of belonging – in NYC. You’ve got to be a little wild, a little crazy, and very comfortable getting uncomfortable, to even catch the first glimmers of it. That process and this city will kick your ass before you realize that your recovery is a part of your becoming. It will spook you, but your challenge is to never let it SCARE you. You’ve got to be next-level brave to become and belong – everywhere, but especially in this city that could care less whether you walk around anonymously and disconnected or full and enmeshed.

And now, I’ve found my way, and I’ve found my spaces. I have a “place.” Of course, I know that’s just a feeling and an illusion. And I wonder: is my newfound sense of place, coupled with my acute memory of what it’s like to NOT have one, keeping me in a new loop that doesn’t serve me? I think so; maybe. I’ve been here before, so I can recognize when I am here again.

The great thing, though, is that I know that I am my own and no one else’s, and that an external sense of place is fab but an internal one is fabber. If I know I’ll be okay no matter what, and I know I will be mine no matter what, then maybe, just maybe, I can start to take those steps that lead me to places I don’t know yet.


Two years ago I woke up for the first time as an NYC resident. I know it’s only been two years but I honestly can’t imagine waking up anywhere else.

Brené Brown says that true belonging only comes when you belong to yourself and yourself only, everywhere and nowhere.

Living here, I finally feel like I’ve found where I belong.

belonging sense of place katie horwitch

“I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.” ― Ed Koch


 

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WANTcast Episode 021: On Adrenaline Addiction + Forging Your Own Path with Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde

WANTcast Episode 021: On Adrenaline Addiction + Forging Your Own Path with Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde

the WANTcast

I always remind myself that no big choice I've made has failed me yet. - @balancedblondie Click To Tweet

Chances are, you’ve heard of Jordan Younger, akaThe Balanced Blonde.” Maybe it’s because of her best-selling book, Breaking Vegan. Maybe it’s because of her lifestyle blog that’s literally read by thousands of people worldwide weekly. Maybe it’s because of her adorable clothing line, or uber-popular social media channels…

…Or maybe it’s because you saw her on virtually every morning news circuit two years ago, when she “came out” to her readers saying her intense focus on healthy, vegan living had spiraled her into an eating disorder. One that had zero to do with veganism but everything to do with the way she was using the label to mask her unnatural obsession with eating as “pure” as possible. And one that, subsequently, made her the target of intense hate and even death threats from people convinced that she was speaking ill of the vegan community.

In reality, nothing could have been farther from the truth – or the real Jordan behind the news headlines and blog posts. Only 26 years old (as of today! Happy Birthday, Jordan!), Jordan’s transition from The Blonde Vegan (her former blog name) to The Balanced Blonde made her a wellness “It Girl” virtually overnight. She’s managed to navigate both the highest highs and lowest lows of being in the public eye with grace, humor, and integrity, all while unapologetically being, well, herself. She is bubbly like champagne, kind to the core, and just as enthusiastic about championing others’ success as she is when it comes to pursuing her own. She takes her work seriously but takes reactions in stride, and treats each person she meets like a new friend in the making. In a scene that’s becoming almost overly-saturated with a wellness-elite vibe, Jordan is a breath of fresh air and true authenticity.

After years of “knowing” each other from afar and running in so many of the same circles, Jordan and I finally got to met at the WANT Moving Forward Fearlessly event back in April. She crushed it (check out the recap here). And she’s become a cherished friend ever since.

WANT-April2016-211

What I love about Jordan is that she doesn’t apologize for being who she is, and she doesn’t tailor herself to fit other people’s liking. We share countless similarities – from our history with Orthorexia to our blogging backgrounds to our Libra birthdays – and I know I can always speak candidly to her about both the exciting moments and, well, b.s. that comes along with starting up your own purpose project from scratch.

The thing about Jordan is that while she’s gotten a lot of outward success in a relatively short amount of time, what impresses me the most about her is how completely transparent she is about her journey getting there, how she was feeling at the time, and how she currently navigates the extremes that come with both being a highly creative and driven person. It’s a lot easier to take risks and pivot when you’re lesser known or just starting out at whatever you’re doing, but once you’ve got all eyeballs all on you, it can be tough not only to take those risks in the fist place, but also manage the reactions of others you get in response to those risks. She’s able to laugh at herself, is incredible self-aware, and takes it all in stride without throwing out the sensitive parts of her that have made her so magnetic to so many people.

In this episode we talk about adrenaline addiction, the fear of success instead of fear of failure, finding the work style the works for you, how Jordan has learned to manage both the highs and lows of her business while staying true to herself, being a leader when you still feel like you’re learning, and forging your own journey even when it’s tempting to compare yourself to other people in your age range or career field. We also talk about some of her not-so-traditional health and spiritual adventures, the latter of which starts off with us laughing about it, but ends with a lesson all of us should remember about believing what we can’t see.

I can’t think of a more perfect, pragmatically positive person to kick off Season Two of the WANTcast.

WANT JORDAN:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Direct download

Show Notes:
The Balanced Blonde
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Snapchat
Breaking Vegan
E-book preorder
Jordan at WANT’s event in April
That time she was on Chelsea Handler’s Snapchat
Miranda Alcott
Orthorexia, Explained

WANT to support the WANTcast? Click over to Amazon via this link, then shop as usual. I will receive a small-but-meaningful kickback, which means we can invest in things like sound editing, new equipment, and more. No extra charge to you. Easy as that!

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

the-balanced-blonde-quote

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The WANTcast Episode 019: On Becoming A Leader, Quarter-Life Crises, and Letting Love In w/ Emily Greener of I AM THAT GIRL

The WANTcast Episode 019: On Becoming A Leader, Quarter-Life Crises, and Letting Love In w/ Emily Greener of I AM THAT GIRL

Community the WANTcast

The end of August/beginning of September always symbolizes a fresh start to me – and this is the perfect episode to hopefully catapult you into whatever newness is in store for you in the season to come.

Emily Greener is the CEO and co-founder of I AM THAT GIRL, a global movement inspiring girls to be, love, and express who they are through education, content, and community. She’s been Emily and the IATG crew have taken their movement off-line into communities all over the world, motivating girls from SoCal to South Africa to live the lives they were meant to lead, judgement-free. For even more on Emily, you can check out her WANT Woman spotlight here.

In this episode we talk about navigating major turning points in life (like quarter-life crises and your “Saturn Return,” which I’ve got links to read up on in the show notes), how to become a leader in whatever space you’re in whether it’s in work or in life, the power and scariness of going first, and of course, the chance meeting and turning-point moment that sparked the mass movement that is now I AM THAT GIRL.

Two super-powerful parts of this conversation in particular really struck a chord. The first is when Emily talks about how to hold space for others as a leader, and the moment when she realized that in order to be the leader she was striving to be, she would have to let go of some stuff first. The second? The mindset shift she experienced recently when it comes to success. We talk about the delicate balance between humility and recognizing your successes, and how she was able to find that happy medium and really let love in.

i am that girl

What I love about you guys, as WANTcast listeners and fellow WANT Women (and WANT men, too!) is that…it’s so cool, you are natural-born leaders. I see it in the comments on the site, in the emails, on social, when I meet you in person – you can’t ignore it. But just because you’re a leader, or you maybe don’t view yourself as a leader yet but WANT to be a leader, it doesn’t mean you’re immune to self-doubt, fears, or moments where nothing seems to make sense. If anything, you’re probably even more sensitive to those moments BECAUSE of that leadership chip in your brain and hear. This episode might be just what you need to help you be the leader you know you’ve been inside all along.

Connecting to others, whether strangers or friends you've known your whole life, is magic. - @thatgirlgreener Click To Tweet

Also, next episode will be the end of SEASON ONE of the WANTcast! I was thinking of doing something special and different – I know a lot of people have asked me how to start a podcast, or what my favorite things about doing a podcast are, or what I’ve learned – I don’t know, would you want to hear an episode like that? Let me know – email me at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com, or shoot me a comment on social, or drop me a line in the comments section of this post. I really want to do something cool for episode 20.

Alright, we’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s live in the moment. Episode 19. Enjoy – I think you’ll love it.

WANT Emily:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the WANTcast by shopping on Amazon like you normally do

Show notes:
I AM THAT GIRL
Find a chapter
Start a chapter
IATG Facebook

IATG Instagram
IATG Twitter
Emily’s WANT Woman spotlight
Emily’s Instagram
Twitter
Saturn return 101
Astrologer Danielle Beinstein on the WANTcast
Emily’s DVF Award

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Emily’s wisdom is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

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The WANTcast, Episode 015: On Wake-Up Calls, Making New Friends + Finding Your Worth with Audrey Bellis of Worthy Women

The WANTcast, Episode 015: On Wake-Up Calls, Making New Friends + Finding Your Worth with Audrey Bellis of Worthy Women

Community the WANTcast

Something I’m realizing now more than EVER is the power of community. I don’t mean your best-best-best friends. I don’t mean your family. I mean the familiar faces that dapple your life – the friends, acquaintances, business partners, even grocery store clerks you bond with on a weekly, even daily basis.

“Home” and “community” are synonymous to me. When we’re searching for “our peeps,” we’re really searching for a place to call home.

And we can’t find home if we don’t know what we’re worth.

You can't raise your net worth until you raise your self worth. - @audreybellis, @worthywomenLLC Click To Tweet
photo cred: BUNCH magazine
photo cred: Lois Fox for BUNCH Magazine

Since community – nay, HOME – is at the top of my mind as of late, it’s only fitting that today’s episode is with community builder extraordinaire Audrey Bellis.

Audrey is a FORCE OF NATURE (as we learned last month!). A first-generation Latina, she’s is shaping the future of Los Angeles, and specifically, Downtown LA by fostering the startup and tech communities as a founder of StartupDTLA and as a cofounder ofGRID110. Not only that, she’s linking creative female entrepreneurs as the founder of Worthy Women. Mayor Garcetti’s office honored her as 1 of 5 “Inspiring Latinas of LA” and TechOutLA named her “a key player in the Eastside/DTLA tech movement.” If there’s anyone who knows how to create community and make a collective impact as visionary women in the world, it’s this stunner.

In this episode, we dive deep into knowing your body and healing past trauma, why owning your worth is so important in everything from business to friendships, Audrey’s crazy medical complications that gave her a huge wake up call (and her sort of Eat Pray Love experience that helped facilitate that), and why it’s so important that we’re never, ever, ever done with the work, even if we think we’ve reached success or that we know it all.

audreybellis

We also talk building community, making new friends as an adult, finding the people who we connect with on the deepest levels (which can be hard!), and so much more.

HEADS UP: this episode contains graphic descriptions of Audrey’s health scare. So if you’re squeamish, you might want to skip over the part about 15 or so mins in where she’s talking about the bathtub. We don’t shy away from anything here on WANT – it’s so important to me that these podcasts tell unedited, unglossy stories (because life is unedited and unglossy).

WANT AUDREY:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon

Show Notes:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Worthy Women
Startup DTLA
GRID 110
Eat Pray Love
What Doesn’t Kill Us
A Course In Miracles
A Woman’s Worth
Good Men Project

When I'm in alignment with myself, I can let you off the hook. - @audreybellis, @worthywomenLLC Click To Tweet

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Audrey’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

 

photo cred: Lois Fox for BUNCH Magazine
photo cred: Lois Fox for BUNCH Magazine

 

The WANTcast, Episode 011: On Skin Shame, Body Image + Kanye West Behavior With Adina Grigore of S.W. Basics

The WANTcast, Episode 011: On Skin Shame, Body Image + Kanye West Behavior With Adina Grigore of S.W. Basics

Body the WANTcast Work

She had me at “hello.” And by “hello”…I mean lip balm.

Today’s episode is with Adina Grigore, who, if you DON’T know, you’re going to WANT to know after we’re through here. Adina is the founder of S.W. Basics, one of my absolute FAVORITE all natural skincare lines – and the author of Skin Cleanse: The Simple, all-natural Program for Clean, Calm, Happy Skin.

adina_grigore
So, funny thing about me and Adina – I actually fell in love with her before I even met her, and what’s even weirder is that it wasn’t through social media or a podcast – it was because at my former editorial job, someone sent us a pack of her lip balms. You know how sometimes you’ll see someone from afar and think, I need to be friends with this woman? That’s how I felt when I saw the lip balms.

I know. What a weirdo, right? But here’s the thing: there was something so special and unique about the S.W. Basics brand that felt so personal, so down to earth, I knew that could only come from this badass woman founder who was steering the ship. This podcast is actually the very first time we talked, and I think you’ll be able to hear it, she just has this way of making you feel so at ease and like you’ve known her forever. It’s no wonder she’s in the business of making people feel good in the skin they’re in.

IMG_3592


In this episode we talk about the correlation between skin and body image, the trajectory that took her from dancing at The Ailey School to having a skincare line that’s in Target stores nationwide, dealing with skin issues as an adult and the stigma that surrounds it, and why Adina is so passionate about not doing this ONE specific thing that basically everyone does in order to grow their business (hint: it’s kind of like Kanye West’s behavior).

She also gets me being more of a Chatty Cathy than usual, but I couldn’t help myself – she’s one of those infectiously passionate and all around rad people you could talk to forever. (But I did you a favor and kept “forever” to under an hour.)

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Let’s do this thang!

WANT Adina:

Play in new window | Download | Support the show by shopping on Amazon thru this link

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Adina’s awesomeness is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Show Notes:
Instagram
Twitter
S.W. Basics
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
S.W. Basics makeup remover
Skin Cleanse
The Ailey School
Adina’s podcast with Jessica Murnane (and her other one, too!)

Adina’s blog post – “You’re Really Hot. No, Really.”
Womens Leadership Conference
WANTcast on Youtube!

Tweetables:
We don’t realize that what we call problems…are just normal. - @adinagrigore Click To Tweet
I'm just doing my best - aren't we all? - @adinagrigore Click To Tweet
We’re not even being shown 'everyone else.' - @adinagrigore Click To Tweet

image1 (1)

My Journey, My Self.

My Journey, My Self.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

It was almost a decade ago but I hear the words like minutes have passed.

Sobbing on a friend’s couch, head buried into his sweatshirt-covered shoulder, after he called me up and told me I needed to take a second look at my life. I cried at the realization, I cried at the acceptance, I cried at the knowingness I’d buried and planted flowers over all along. I wanted to march over then and there, I said, and give an ultimatum.

The shoulder lifted and my friend looked me in the mascara-blurry eyes.

“We romanticize things in our minds. What it will look like, how it will be.

Don’t go over there now. Not like this. Romanticizing the drama always looks better in your head.

Sleep on our couch tonight so you won’t be alone.”

self love

I tell myself stories often, to my benefit and my detriment. It’s a part of me I’ve learned to work with, a part of me that used to take the reins. My storytelling can make proverbial mountains out of proverbial molehills if I let it. It can also make the little moments be the most life-changing. It’s the part of me that used to get high off of fantasizing about the wedding in the ranch, the full-time theatre career, two kids with my exact upbringing. It’s the part of me that now gets high off of small-but-huge risks, the stuff that might not look the most impressive but feels astronomical.

My entire twenties have seen social media morph from a way to connect and reconnect to a way to create and recreate. I’m of the very specific age group targeted in social media’s first boom: college kids in 2004. I can’t speak for my whole age group, but I feel as if we’re even more acutely aware than others of how much or not-much social media is playing a part in someone else’s life (and also more self-aware as to how much it plays in our own). Some older generations are trying to keep up even though they might not really care, and some younger generations have it as a crutch of what they’ve always known even though they might prefer to feign indifference. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum based on how much power we unknowingly give it. Even the nicknames used to describe our internet presence are rooted in our core desires to feel safe, sustained, and of lasting impact: Our feed. Our quilt. Our digital footprint or imprint.

We’re all guilty, whether we’re posting or commenting. We’re telling stories; stories that sometimes get muddled up with the truths. We project what we want perceived, and we fashion stories out of what we see. Because what social media does is tell a grand story if you let it, a life verified by the scroll of a page and a slew of comments reading “GOALS.”

This isn’t a post about social media, it’s a post about self-love. But I do think social media can be used as a vehicle for discovery, if we choose to see it that way. I do love sosch’, but I’ve found the way I’ve utilized it in the last couple years has greatly shifted from even a couple years back. I find that when it comes to social media, I learn the most about myself now not by posting, but by listening. I find the more I listen, the more I can self-regulate. Am I sharing because I have something to say – or because I feel uncomfortable not being a part of the collective noise? Am I posting because I am what I say – or because I am scared, lonely, or just got into a fight with someone and portraying otherwise helps me fake it till I make it? Do I need a reaction from anyone, or is this truly, honestly, just for myself? Am I opening up because I feel I must to fit in – or because it’s a small overflow of the gargantuan self love I’ve built within?

self love

Going into a new phase in life – a new year, a new job, a new relationship, a new decade – it brings up a lot. How honest have I been with myself along the way, and how have I risen from my own ashes? Have I addressed my underlying imbalances, or have I mistaken band-aids for white blood cells? Am I interested in lasting change, or am I just convincing myself I’m doing something to get there? I’ve never fully understood until now why New Years Resolutions and traditional goal-setting tactics never resonated with me, let alone worked. But I’m starting to think it’s because, deep down, I’ve always known that the mere act of checking something off a list will never get me that feeling I so desire: that feeling of being more full of life than I could possibly imagine.

Danielle LaPorte recently wrote a beautiful piece on self-love, saying that sometimes we “act” like we love ourselves so that we don’t have to change. A harsh reality to face, but one we must nonetheless (I urge you to go and read her words over here, they’re brilliant). Fake self-love can turn into a cop out for truly growing into the person you are meant to be to this world.

I’d like to add my own spin onto what D said…although it might not be the most flowery thing to read and definitely not the easiest. True self-love can only come when we lean into those areas of ourselves that make us uncomfortable, when we take full responsibility for the problem and full responsibility for the solution.

True self-love can only come when we take full responsibility for the problem + full responsibility for the solution. Click To Tweet

Sure, it’s easier to blame shit on your parents or exes or that punk boy in 7th grade gym class who told you to shave your legs. Sure it’s easier to find someone who will clean up the mess for you so you don’t have to touch the grime: friends, mentors, boyfriends, girlfriends, a book you read over the weekend and can quote ad-nauseum and leave it at that. “They say” that it’s important to spend some time learning who you are in this life. But what if that never happens? What if that time is spent lonely and longing, coming out on the other side no less answer-filled and no more yourself? It’s easier to place blame and agree to solutions someone else has outfitted.

But doing the work of living means doing the WORK. To not is to catch yourself in a booby trap. The bait is there, disguised as aid or sweetness or ease or love. It takes a strong will to resist, because man does it look enticing, and not at all dangerous at that. I used to think that the best things in life SHOULD be the easiest, the most carefree. Signs of struggle or lows were warning signs to get out. And, you know, sometimes they are. But it takes true exploration to be able to distinguish between red flags and the gifts of hard work and that special hybrid of both.

The best things in life, I’ve found, are never really easy. But what they are is right. Like the evening on my friend’s couch when, against my will, I came to the realization I’d been living with my eyes in the future for far too long. How things would be when XYZ happened. Checking off boxes and rushing to fill the next. Reveling in the comfort and ease of the familiar, too scared to venture into the unknown of what it would be like if I spent some time by myself – even though I was altering my needs to fit someone else’s, or altering someone else’s needs to fit my own, even though my belief-set was based in stories.

It was easier to stay where I knew I was loved enough. Because, you know, answers are never guaranteed – and fulfillment is less than a speck on a hazy horizon. Why venture toward something you can barely see?

self-love

I’m not of a religion that was brought up with the new testament, nor am I even slightly religious to begin with (spirituality ≠ religion, in my book)But religions are collections of stories, I’ve realized, and boy do I love a good story. One of my favorites…I can’t tell you where this appears or in what context. I can’t tell you the players and I can’t set the scene. But I know the lesson, I know the epiphany, and it’s what I love most. And when it comes to the words, I say it’s not just about the love we give and receive to and from others, it’s about the love we show ourselves.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Sometimes, to protect, trust, and persevere means to forego what is applauded for what is true. Sometimes it means to let go of what is easy for what is right, even if it includes the tears, the loneliness, the confusion, and the doubts; especially if it includes the tears, loneliness, confusion, and doubts. It means going through those moments to realize you wanted the ranch wedding because of the story it told of what was on the outside, not what is on the inside – and the inside is SO much better. It means going big and falling flat on your face, or actually succeeding and having the epiphany that you’ve been tied to a former version of yourself all along.

It means going on a wild, wild ride of brilliant colors and moments all sewn together by a ragged, sturdy, tear-stained thread that makes us whole and creates our real quilt and footprint. It means being brave enough to walk towards the hazy speck, and to unearth what’s underneath the flowers, and to know you are never and will never be alone, no matter what you find.

Sometimes, to protect, trust, and persevere means to forego what is easy for what is right. Click To Tweet

I tell myself stories often, to my benefit and to my detriment. It’s the part of me that gets high off of small-but-huge risks, the stuff that might not look the most impressive but feels astronomical. Resolutions and goal-setting are secondary – always, always secondary to the quest for fulfillment and self-expression. This year, let your lists and checkboxes come to you, magically appearing and checking themselves off along the way. Trust that the journey to self-love will bring you more than you could ever imagine – and the story it tells, I promise, will be a good one.

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