We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

We Belong To Each Other: How To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) When You Can’t Go Anywhere.

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In the last five days, I’ve retracted my RSVP for a cousin’s wedding which was later put on hold, cancelled a trip to L.A., postponed a workshop I was co-leading, cancelled my fitness class recording sessions, postponed friend-reunions, skipped out on a networking event, and gotten news that many friends who were debuting their films at SXSW, shows on Broadway, and books into the world would have to press hold on celebrating their art out in the world in real life with other humans.

I’ve also finished two books and started a third, written over 10,000 words for a secret project, attended a funeral via live stream, set up a home studio to record remotely, scheduled aforementioned friend-reunion dinner over Zoom (planty foods and cocktails of choice included), spoken to my therapist, ordered delivery from local restaurants I’ve always wanted to try, cleared my inbox by 50%, bought new books just making their debuts, downloaded multiple independent films on multiple platforms, started to buy tickets to shows I can’t wait to see, and made pumpkin seed butter from scratch.

I’m finding that it’s easier for me transition to this Homeward Bound lifestyle than a lot of my friends. Not because I’m better at managing global crises – but because I’m an introvert. My home is my favorite place in the world. I’ve also been working primarily from home for most of my adult life. Even as a kid, I preferred locking myself in my room and playing silently than going out with my peers. I texted a friend, half-jokingly: THIS IS MY MOMENT!! This is what I’ve been PREPARING FOR my whole LIFE!

However, there’s one thing I’m still struggling with, no matter how many jars of pumpkin seed butter I make or chapters I write: my sponginess.

 

SPONGINESS.

I’m what’s called a Highly Sensitive Person, which means I see things others can’t and feel things others don’t. I can feel fear or freedom just by looking at your Instagram post. It’s been both my downfall and my most prized resumé point.

Jeremy calls my high sensitivity my “sponginess.” I sponge up everyone else’s emotions and everything else’s intensity and hold it within me in my pores and fibers. It’s been a great way to explain to him how I’m feeling when I don’t have words – I can just tell him I’m having a majorly spongey day and he understands my heaviness. He also knows my sponginess is my superpower – so instead of trying to change it, he celebrates it while helping me squeeze out what doesn’t serve me.

When I first moved to NYC, the abundance of FEELING was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. I tried to soak in EVERYTHING and it broke me down. I tried to cut myself off and it numbed me out. I had to find a balance and boundaries, and ways to wring myself out at the end of the day. A warm home. A riveting book. Deep breaths by the river. Lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling.

Eating disorders, I’ve heard, are a kind of OCD – a way to count, clean, and control, control, control. In my early days of recovery, I got into an all-or-nothing habit of either cleaning my entire house top to bottom then back again, or leaving clothes and papers and plates and dust to pile up for days, sometimes weeks on end. I once left a sponge sitting at the bottom of my sink in a shallow pool of water. After a while, I finally went to pick it up and realized it had started to mold and disintegrate.

Boundaries are hard. But my job is not to clean up everyone else’s mess. And my job is not to sit in the dark underneath the sink, dry and numb and unmovable, either. Sponges don’t work down there.

 My job is to absorb enough water that I can soak up the muck and make things shine, but not so much that I submerge myself and it breaks my fibers apart.

 

IN SPONGEY TIMES SUCH AS THESE.

The sponges are feeling it BIG TIME right now. They’re feeling the fears of their neighbors, the triggers of anyone who has ever experienced an eating or body-related disorder (this is a VERY triggering state for ED-prone people to be in), the anger of the over-60 set who are pissed that they want to go outside and are also pissed they’re being referred to as “elderly” maybe for the first time in their lives, the frustration of the kids of the over-60 set who don’t understand why their parents just don’t GET it, the snarkiness of the people who believe it’s all a sham and prefer to make fun of the people who don’t…it’s all so, so very much.

What a weird time to be someone who is not typically an alarmist, but simultaneously wants to be the very best, most mindful community member possible. I know that while I don’t fall into the most vulnerable demographic, any trace of Coronavirus/COVID-19/Beer Germs (get it? Corona? Virus? Beer? Germs? I’ll be here all week folks) that I catch could be passed onto someone else whose body might not be able to handle it nearly as well. Not to mention the overwhelmed healthcare professionals right now who are trying to take care of as many people as possible but have a fraction of the resources needed to do so.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been asked many times what I “think of all this,” how people can take care of themselves, and what my general take is on living day-to-day life when it looks and feels anything but normal. Instead of posting a million times to Instagram or spreading my responses out over emails, texts, DMs, and social media updates, I figured it might be useful for you if I just posted everything here, all in one place – for the sponges who need help with sponging, for the people who are struggling finding normalcy and motivation at home, and everyone who’s dealing with a little bit of everything.


9 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself (And Others) During Coronavirus And Beyond

 

LIMIT YOUR NEWS INTAKE

We can’t always control what we see, but we CAN control what we pay attention to. Sometimes it feels like we’re at the mercy of news updates and social media feeds, but now is a great time to practice a Thank you, next! Ariana Grande-style philosophy and dismiss what does not serve us.

I’m not a huge fan of jumping straight to a cold-turkey digital detox, especially while so many of us are feeling isolated. Not only do I think it’s unrealistic for long-term mental health management – it’s probably not the best idea to make yourself feel even MORE cut off from the world and disconnected from your loved ones right now than you already are.

If going cold-turkey works for you, fantastic. But for the rest of us, limit your Beer Germ updates to THREE PIECES OF CONTENT A DAY. Why three? Four feels like slipping too far down the internet rabbit hole, but one or two feels like there’s no chance for redemption if you DO start to go down a dark path. Consuming and paying attention to three pieces of news updates – whether it’s about Coronavirus or any other hot-topic news item that makes you feel nervous – empowers you to mindfully choose what’s worthy of your attention. How do you want to design your day/week/outlook? Maybe you’ve give two doom-and-gloom articles your attention already – actively SEARCH for a more positive and proactive note to end on (this post is a great one!).

 

BRING BACK THE REIGN OF THE HOBBIES

We all say it. All. The. Time.

If I just had more time…

If there were two extra hours in the day…

Okay, so you’ve been granted your wish. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you don’t currently have a “commute time,” or a busy, distracting office to spend the day in, or non-essential errands like getting a haircut that you “have to get done.”

So what is it? What is that THING you always say you’d do if you had more time? Cleaning your pantry? Writing poetry? Making salsa? Reading a book? Organizing your computer desktop? Draw? Paint? Showing your kid old photos? Learning how to play a new game? This is your time. No excuses anymore. Do your thing. Do that one small thing that’s been lurking in the back of your mind. Whether that’s fixing something broken, learning something new, delving into a meaningful project, or getting back in touch with one of your lost hobbies (REMEMBER HOBBIES?!). I made pumpkin seed butter and am writing like a fiend. What will YOU do with this time given to you in your one wild and precious life?

 

BE A GOOD COMMUNITY MEMBER

And I mean the people who are negatively affected BEYOND not being able to find toilet paper or your favorite shampoo on the shelves. I mean the local businesses whose livelihood depends on in-person interaction, the service industry workers who don’t get paid if they don’t have a shift, the cab drivers who are driving around for hours on end looking for passengers. If you have the means to, order takeout from your local restaurants and tip generously. When you need groceries or home goods, buy locally instead of on Amazon when possible – or call the store! – and then ask if they’ll deliver to your home. When they do, tip generously. Order cabs (there is usually a glass divider between the driver and the passenger), bring antibacterial wipes to wipe down the seats and handles if you choose to, and then – yep – tip generously.

And if there’s a mistake – your cab driver turns down a wrong street, your delivery order is SLIIIIIGHTLY off, tip anyway. Because they’re also a human, just like you, doing the best they can right now. I ordered takeout the other night and my fries were replaced with dumplings. Would I have preferred fries? Yes. Would I be fine with the dumplings? Yes. Now is not the time to snap at each other. As Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it’s because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other.”

 

GET MOVING AND GET SUNSHINE

Exercise is proven to boost your mood AND your immune system. The beauty of this day and age is that we have so many digital options available, at all price points and experience levels, to help us get high-quality workouts during this high-quarantine time.

Exercise isn’t about the workout. Not REALLY. A class, workout, or session isn’t  just fitness training – but LIFE training as well. The more resilient you can be in the face of a challenge in your workout, the more resilient you’ll be in the face of a challenge out there in the world. The kinder you are to yourself while you’re sweating, the kinder you’ll be to yourself when you’re not. In these confusing and emotionally spongey times, it’s important to lean into that mental aspect of fitness, and lean into it HARD.

That doesn’t mean you need to crush it on a treadmill. Keep your distance from others – but get outside! Soak in sunshine on a brisk (or not-brisk) walk or run. Do some stretching in the grass. Make the most of your surroundings.

I teach for Aaptiv, and it’s been an absolute joy and mega comfort to see how many people are taking our trainers’ classes and getting a mood boost from them. If you’re not a member, go to aaptiv.com/save50 for 50% off a yearly membership – that’s $49.99, which is how much I’ve spent on dinner and cocktails with friends before, and literally 1/4 of many regular gym’s monthly dues. I teach outdoor walking, running, spin, elliptical, and treadmill classes galore, but there’s also strength, yoga, Pilates, meditation, and more.

Can’t afford $49.99? There are so many free workouts available online and being hosted on IG right now (Sadie Kurzban of 305 Fitness has some phenomenal dance classes that have happened so far!). Use this as a chance to discover something new, or lean into a long-forgotten physical source of joy (hello jump ropes!).

 

GET YOUR ART ON

So many concerts, book tours, theatre debuts, and film releases are being cancelled or rescheduled right now. These events usually take months upon months to prepare, after usually years and years of work and sweat and tears and heart given by the musicians, authors, actors, and filmmakers to make their art come to life.

Since you’ll probably be listening to music, reading, and watching movies anyway, why not support those artists who worked so tirelessly – only to have their art be put on hold or cancelled?

My friend Lynn Chen (you might remember her from The Recovery Myth or our L.A. panel a few years back) was slated to make her directorial debut with her film, I Will Make You Mine, at this year’s SXSW. She wrote beautifully about the heartbreak of her premiere being cancelled here. The GOOD news is that many of the films, albums, books, and shows that were cancelled or postponed either already exist out there in the world (books and albums), WILL be available for wide release soon (films), or will have their IRL events rescheduled at a later date. The very best things you can do right now are:

A) Sign up for their mailing lists so that you’re up to date with when you can enjoy their art (Lynn’s movie’s list is here!). Here is a list of SXSW films that were supposed to premiere this month.

B) Buy new book releases, stream new music, watch new movies, purchase theatre tickets in advance if possible. Your dollars and views and streams COUNT. As far as books go, Glennon Doyle has a fantastic thread of new books that were just released going on her Twitter feed.

 

EMBRACE THE ART OF THE VOICE TEXT

I LOVE voice texts. I can send them at any time, no matter HOW much time I have available to me, and I can have a voice-to-voice interaction with my friends. Phone calls can pile up (and sometimes become a game of “Call me back!!”), texts can be void of emotion (unless you’re a gif master), but voice texts are almost like a modern day walkie-talkie.

As someone who can feel very guilty about returning phone calls “too late” AND would rather have a multi-hour-long conversation than a quick 10-minute catch up (I am not a 10-minute catch up kind of gal unless I’m forced to be), voice texts feel like a great, no-pressure way to connect and share thoughts, feelings, and ideas in real time. Try it – I have one going on my favorite group chat right now and it’s bringing us all so much joy. And, feels like a great way to have energetic boundaries if you ARE a muti-hour phone convo person like me. Which brings me to…

 

SET CONVERSATION BOUNDARIES (AND HONOR OTHERS’, TOO)

Something I’ve had to learn and re-learn, and teach and re-teach my loved ones, over my many years of Homeward Bound work, is that just because I’m around doesn’t mean I’m available. If you need to talk about your stresses or fears, please please please don’t hold it inside. But if you need space, assert space. My mom literally just sent me a “Call me” text – and since we’ve had the conversation before about me freaking out and jumping to worst-case-scenario over “Call me” texts, she knows to let me know if it’s urgent or not. This is not urgent. I responded: “I will in a few!” Simple as that. I talked to her a few hours ago and this follow-up can wait, and she knows I still love her and WILL call her back (follow up is important). Whether you’re busy writing, reading, or just soaking in some silence and contemplation time, you are allowed to take the space YOU need to feel the way YOU want to feel.

In the same vein, be mindful of how you connect with others right now. Maybe they need some space, too. While almost everyone is in a heightened emotional state, honor if your loved ones need some space, too. This is a wonderful time to practice clear and kind communication both ways!

 

CREATE NORMALCY IN THE ABNORMALITY

Working from home and not used to it? Some quick tips: Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Put on real clothes. Schedule your days in your calendar. Take lunch breaks. Find your New, For-Now Normal instead of throwing all structure out the door until further notice.

 

DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING

Do The Next Right Thing. It’s a common piece of advice for overwhelm, depression, and anxiety. Look way past the moment you’re in, and get clear on how you want to feel way after this has passed. Look at the moment you’re in and what’s being asked of you (literally or figuratively), and ask yourself how you can simplify your response to it. And then do the next right thing.

Who’s to say YOU are not the Next Right Thing the world needs right now? Who’s to say you writing that one poem, or reading that one book to your kids, or speaking up and staying home, won’t change it all for someone else? That poem might reignite your love for writing that leads you to your first book. That book you read might spark your kid’s imagination and lead them to develop a new passion. Speaking up and staying home might give someone else the courage to do the same, and that someone might be someone who later finds out they were carrying the virus that’s spreading like wildfire. It’s usually not the big grand gestures but the small seemingly ordinary ones that make the biggest impact. As Joan Didion said, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” Your ordinary instant might be the change you wish to see in the world. YOU might be the Next Right Thing.


WANT YOURSELF:

In the comments, share what books you’re reading, films you’re watching, recipes you’re cooking, workouts you’re doing, hobbies you’re enjoying, projects you’re completing, or any other way you’re being proactive and not reactive during this time! With so much up in the air (no virusy pun intended) some of us need your inspiration to help turn our days around right now. Let’s create a nice list for anyone who needs it!

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WANTcast 051: On Going All In, Risk Tolerance, and Getting Out From Behind The Shadows with Amber Rae

WANTcast 051: On Going All In, Risk Tolerance, and Getting Out From Behind The Shadows with Amber Rae

the WANTcast

Ever felt like you’re being creative for everyone BUT yourself? Wondered if something is a sign, or just a sheer coincidence? Just wanted someone to tell you to take the leap, even though you don’t know for SURE what you’re leaping into?

Today’s guest is author, speaker, and artist Amber Rae, author of Choose Wonder Over Worry: Move Beyond Fear And Doubt To Unlock Your Full Potential. In her book, Amber guides you to dialogue with the self-sabateur that is Worry, uncover the ways your unexplored emotions are leading you to numb out/procrastinate/hold yourself back, and access your inner wisdom to reach your full potential.

In this episode we talk about getting out from behind the shadows as a creative, how to know when you’re on the right track, how to distinguish between signs from the universe and stories youre fabricating, how to know when fear is leading the way, making a living through creativity and the many ways that can manifest, what it means and looks like to live out your truth, and so much more.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign – then maybe this episode is it.

 


Don't die with your gifts still inside. - @heyamberrae Click To Tweet
Listen on iTunes | Listen on Stitcher Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon


Show Notes:

Website
Choose Wonder Over Worry
Buy the book!
Twitter
Instagram

Danielle Beinstein’s astrology post
Dhru Purohit
Phoebe Lapine on the WANTcast


Our sponsor this week is Franklin and Whitman, an all-natural, plant based, cruelty free skincare line with a mission to make your skin AND the world a better, kinder place. Frank + Whit donates 5% of all sales to various rescue dog organizations. Try some of my favorites – their Cleansing Serum, their Oak Lane face mask, their dry shampoo – and more. Be sure to use the code WANT at checkout for 20% off your entire order at franklinandwhitman.com.

~

Like this episode? I’m so glad! Sign up for The (Good) Word, WANT’s weekly email love letter, at womenagainstnegativetalk.comleave a review on iTunes (the more reviews and five-stars, the more our 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!

 

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The Table Flip.

The Table Flip.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I had an odd experience this morning. It’s the first Sunday in a while I’ve not only been by myself (Jeremy is in San Diego), but I’ve had a few hours TO myself. No meetings till later, no appointments to rush to, no classes to teach. I take my time making myself a coffee carafe for one. I turn on Destiny’s Child radio on our Pandora because I’m here alone and J isn’t about that Beyoncé life and who doesn’t love a little Bug-A-Boo to start their day.

I open Instagram (when will I learn??).

I glimpse a statistic about eating disorders in women.

And I think:

What the FUCK have I been doing the last two months to help the epidemic of negative self-talk that leads to these kinds of numbers??

~

Empaths like me – like US – have this problem. We’re told to take time for ourselves because we spend so much in the shoes of others – but when we see a statistic or snapshot, we go down that constricting rabbit hole of guilt, thinking of all the time we “wasted focusing on ourselves” with regret and guilt. And so we don’t. We don’t take time for ourselves, because we know where THAT leads. Guilt. Remorse. Regret. Stuff we stuff down boils back up, and then there we are, once again caught in the negative self-talk loop we’re so trying to avoid. Because it’s way easier to focus on tearing ourselves down than addressing the real problem.

I sat with this guilt for a second. Sat with the feeling of “WTF Have I Been Doing To Help The World.”

And what freaked me out more (whoops) after I did is this: I’ve spent so much time in the last two months making sure life around me stays firmly attached at the seams, that I’m unraveling in the places that matter most. I think I’m keeping it together because I’m showing everyone else I can juggle and not drop the ball. But underneath, where only I can see, I’m scrambling to hold on.

In my mind, no one needed to see those parts. So somehow, at some point, I convinced myself that they weren’t important. 

Longer post for another day, but big life-stage-transitions feel like a table flip. You know in movies when a character gets angry or overwhelmed and oh look there’s a nice and neat table so OH SHIT they take their anger out on it and FLIP the mothereffer onto its side? Instead of resolving the conflict, they take all the chaos around them and channel it into wrecking something that was perfectly fine and organized in the first place.

My table flip moments have manifested themselves not in chaos, but in the illusion of control. The amount of change in my life right now is overwhelming to me – a GOOD overwhelm, but overwhelm nonetheless – so instead of letting IT overwhelm ME, I have been narrowly focusing in on the stuff others can see and neglecting the stuff that keeps ME feeling grounded and in control.

Surprise surprise, that plan is backfiring. And instead of the THINGS overwhelming me, I’ve now ended up overwhelming myself.


I’m now six days out from my wedding and I find myself regretting the way I’ve handled the last month, which brings up all kinds of pangs of guilt.
I should have journaled every day to document this moment. I should have taken more time off work to fly to LA and help plan. I should have been firmer delegating tasks to others instead of assuming they’d know what to do and avoiding any glimmer of seeming “controlling.” We’re taught in our society that this is (supposed to be) a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day – should I have amped it up more like I see other couples do leading up to THEIR wedding?

If I dig deeper, however, I realize that I THOUGHT things would look different in my life as I approached this transition. I thought I’d be (and feel) super successful, which (to me) means not just making a difference in ways I can see, but that those visible markers of success flow through my days naturally and with ease. I hate to admit it, but up until now a part of what success has always looked like to me has been: you’re on SUCH a roll that logistics take care of themselves.

I am nowhere near that. Moreover, this time in my life requires all. the. logistics. In the last month or so, I havent felt like I can soften my gaze on the Whats and focus on the Whys, because the Whats feel like I’m starting from scratch. New life stage, new career stage, new new new newnew. It’s an exciting feeling when you’re in it. And also terrifying. Really terrifying.

Good news, or so it seems, is that when the exciting-terrifying-ness gets to be too much, you can just tune them out, and do the work. I’ve been tuning them out and doing the work.

But guess what?

Strong feelings like excitement and fear don’t disappear – they just hide and grow. And grow. And grow. Until one day you wake up with a Sunday to yourself, turn on some 1998 Beyoncé, look down at the table you’ve flipped over, and realize the mess you’ve made.

~

When I was 16, I found a quote somewhere that seemed revolutionary to me: If you love something, don’t hide and suffocate it for the sake of holding on. Set it free. Anything meant to be always comes back.

This obviously isn’t original or unique – hello, every self-help book ever written – but at the time it blew my mind. You mean I don’t need to worry about the stuff that’s MEANT to happen? You mean I don’t need to pour myself into every single person, place, and thing 24/7 to ensure it sticks around? You mean I don’t need to worry?

The things I’m worried about in this moment – they’re things I know aren’t going away. My sweet friends. My beloved routine. Our WANT community. The change I AM meant to make in the world. NONE OF THIS IS GOING AWAY. But, but.. I can feel myself holding on and suffocating it all because I’m so scared that if I loosen my grip it’ll all fall away.

Is that fear of loss rational? No. It’s a concrete thought conjured by a vague emotion that’s trying to make sense of transition and life recalibration.

I am EXACTLY where I need to be to feel the way I want to feel. Click To Tweet

So here I am. Practicing what I preach – but not in the pretty and zen way we read about. Doing the hard fucking work of sitting with my thoughts and asking WHY. Why I feel the way I feel – why I REALLY feel the way I feel – and then asking: so what are you going to do about it?

What’s the answer, then? If I am feeling overwhelmed, if I’m feeling angry with myself…but REALLY I am feeling a lack of a softer focus and wider lens, and REALLY I am feeling the confusion and slight panic of life feeling like it’s going faster than I can keep up with…then what am I really going to do about it??

This:

I will be for the most part completely offline for the next two weeks enjoying every bit of our wedding’s before-during-after – and, moreover, every single moment of the first step in our new chapter. It’s a first we’ll never get back, and I want to be fully present.

I am stepping back and taking a break and not pretending otherwise.

I am pressing pause on the subjective deadlines I’m in control of (created by my mind) so I can make the objective ones I’m not in control of (created by LIFE) worth every single second.

I’m putting aside the pressure to make a difference in someone else’s life…and turning back inward to make a difference in my own.

I’m trusting that I am EXACTLY where I need to be to feel the way I want to feel.

And I hope that, when life hands you a table-flip moment, you will step back and do the same.

 

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Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Ghost Worries: The Fear of What *Might* Happen.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Shift Of Power Tips + Tools Work

I am high-strung.

It’s not that I’m not easygoing or that I’m quick to argue – not in the least. My high-strungness manifests in waves…or rather, in jolting earthquakes that eventually rumble themselves out.

My high-strungness comes in the form of Ghost Worries: the fear of what might happen.

Ghost Worries are anxiety-filled what-ifs that wind their way around my neck and heart if I let them, all but paralyzing me in the moment and preventing me from fully experiencing expansive joy.

My latest Ghost Worry? That in the midst of wedding planning (we’re in the home stretch!), I haven’t been as consistent with my day-to-day WANT work as I usually am – and that because of that, I’m letting this big and beautiful thing we’ve been building together over the last three years crumble.

Oh sure, my logical brain knows WANT will be fine.

But my high-strung brain flips. the. f. out.

~

The thing about ghost worries is that they’re usually triggered by something small and seemingly inconsequential to others. You felt awkward during a conversation? The ghost worry tells you that they’ll never want to talk to you again. You left the air on when you left the house? The ghost worry tells you your utilities bill will suffer. You forgot to email that person back? The ghost worry tells you they probably hate you by now. You missed an important meeting? The ghost worry tells you you’re fired. Ghost worries are those small, subjective missteps that equal a possible, objective fail.
My ghost worries manifest as an awful flutter (more like electric jolt) in my chest when it seems the impending future will reveal that I’m doing basically everything wrong.

What I’ve realized over the years is that my Ghost Worries have to do with not living up to expectations. Not perfectionism per se, but the result of letting others down. Of not being who others expect me to be.

Growing up, I was an easy target for meaningless teasing – the kind that people think is funny to do as a sign of love (pigtail-pulling syndrome, anyone?). My family’s even admitted this to me: I’m an easy target because I internalize things. I’m the type of person that people who love to get a rise out of others…love to get a rise out of. I was teased in middle school for being “perfect” because I color-coordinated, I was teased at home for being sensitive because Katie-directed sarcasm wasn’t something I found funny. I was told I was clumsy, double-left-footed, irresponsible, and couldn’t handle “nice things” because I didn’t keep my stuff pristine.

I’m a human mess, and instead of learning to embrace that, I was convinced there was something wrong with me.

My ghost worries became about who I was instead of what I did.

 ~

If you’re like me, you know that ghost worries feel heavy. They literally feel heavy in your body. They’re what can make numbing tactics seem so appealing, because if we’re numb we can’t feel the weight build. Emotional eating (or restricting), over-exercising, binge-watching, sleeping way in, biting comments, sharp attitude, isolation, immersion…it’s easy to find our own unique brand of numbing when ghost worries are all around.

However, when we numb our Ghost Worries, we’re never actually addressing them. When we ignore that they’re there, we also ignore that we can change their effects.

When we ignore that Ghost Worries exist, we also ignore that we can change their effects. Click To Tweet

These Ghost Worries haven’t gone away, and I’m sure they never will. They’re a knee-jerk reaction so engrained in my nerves that not even the finest surgeon could reverse the triggers. But what I’ve learned over time is that it’s not about what triggers me, it’s about how I respond.

Here’s what I do when I feel a Ghost Worry start to spook me:

I TEMPER MY THOUGHTS. I’ve learned to only worry about things I can control in the moment, and leave the rest for later. When it comes to ghost worries, the emotions of the situation are always (okay, usually) greater than the reality of the situation. But that doesn’t mean that I ignore the emotions. I never, never, never push my emotional response out of the way. Because to me, when I push my emotions aside, I’m telling myself my emotions aren’t valid. I’m reinforcing the narrative that I’m too sensitive or an easy target. I am the perfect amount of sensitive, and my breadth of emotion has given me everything good in my life. But what I do is separate the emotion from the situation, not letting them dictate predictions that I’d have no say in. My ghost-worry predictions always give me no say in the matter. Nope. Feel the emotion, don’t feed it.

I TALK THEM OUT LOUD. I’ve learned to lean into my ghost worries, to talk them out with someone I trust who thinks highly of me but sees me as human, not infallible or immune to mistakes. And sometimes, if I’m alone when the ghost worries arise, I’ll talk them out to myself. Putting words to thoughts is extremely powerful, because fear feeds off ambiguity. The Unknown agitates those of us who are selectively high-strung – so talking things out to yourself is kind of like soothing the wound. Even better is when you can talk it out with someone else, because validation that you’re still lovable and worthy takes away the worry that this makes you otherwise.

 

I ASK: WHAT IS LITERALLY THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? Not to freak myself out more, but I always identify the worst thing – actual thing, not emotion or perception – that could happen, and how I’d respond to that (again, actually respond, not emotionally respond). Usually when I get that out of the way and realize there would be a game plan even in that scenario, the last horrible piece of The Unknown is removed. Ive now got as much of a grasp on the situation as I can, not just the parts my mind was selectively making up to spook me into smallness and a scarcity mindset.

Feel the emotion, don’t feed it. Click To Tweet

So, what about me? Well, first off, the fear I was irresponsible and lazy and unprofessional gradually faded when I realized that only *I * know what goes on behind the scenes – if I am disappointing anyone right now, it’s probably myself first and foremost. And I can, strangely, deal with that. Talking it out also made me realize that my worst-case-scenario is that I flail a little over the next couple weeks, and I get back on track after the wedding. (Seriously Katie? THAT is the worst-case-scenario? Girl, you gotta get some more spooky Ghost Worries.)

More importantly, I felt. Hard. Feeling my emotions in the moment allowed me to experience them at their height, then gradually move through them. Not fight them – move THROUGH them. Although it doesn’t change my timeline, feeling everything in the moment will allow me to be pragmatic and proactive later on (squashing emotions always makes me reactive later, I’ve found). Also, I am getting married. MARRIED. To the best-for-me person I could ever conjure up. The wedding has a deadline, just like any other project I pour myself into. And then it’s back to real life…but better.

And that’s the thing:
when I confront my Ghost Worries, I remember how lucky I truly am. 

Because that’s what Ghost Worries threaten to do, really: try and convince us we’re not as lucky as we really are.

ghost worries



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FEAR/LESS: On Making Shift Happen + Moving Forward Fearlessly

FEAR/LESS: On Making Shift Happen + Moving Forward Fearlessly

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

You know those hours, days, moments when everything seems to just click? Those times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together to remind you that you are just right, just the way you are?

That’s what this weekend was for me.

On Saturday, I had the immense pleasure of chilling beachside with fifty WANT Women from all over SoCal: eating delicious food, drinking wine and green juice, soaking up sunshine – and most importantly, diving in, digging deep, and discussing what it means to truly move forward fearlessly in life.

Yes, I was there to play hostess at the most perfect venue ever (Creative Visions Foundation out in Malibu – check out that view!), moderate a killer panel of power women (Lynn Chen of The Actor’s Diet, Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde, Audrey Bellis of StartupDTLA and WorthyWomen, and Rachelle Tratt of The Neshama Project), and hopefully be able to inspire at least one person by adding my own voice into the mix. What I didn’t expect was how each person attending would inspire me beyond measure, in ways I wasn’t even able to describe until I was sitting in silence in my PJs hours later, stunned by the impact.

Here were my five biggest lessons from the day:

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My relationship w/ you is a direct reflection of my relationship w/ myself - @audreybellis Click To Tweet
1) The relationships we have with each other are a direct reflection of the relationships we have with ourselves. Community builder extraordinaire and WorthyWomen founder Audrey said it best – our connections with others are intricately tied to the way we view ourselves. One of the all-time most popular posts on WANT is the Making Friends As An Adult piece, and I’m not too surprised why: we are starved for genuine, soul-stirring connection. The question is, if we’re all thinking the same thing, then why aren’t we all just finding each other and frolicking off into the land of besties – nay, soulies – somewhere?

Whether we’re fiercely independent or thrive in groups, it’s easy to blame others for the reasons why we’re not moving forward in our own lives. And on the flipside, the easy-to-grab focus on superficial gains and surface-level commonalities (we both like movies! we both like tacos! #bff) is leaving us starved for true connection even when we think we’ve got it. But at the root of it all is the relationship we have with ourselves. Are we honoring ourselves fully, both our highs and our lows? Do we respect our own choices and stand by ourselves through thick and thin? It’s nearly impossible for someone else to have your back if you don’t even have your own.

What was incredible about this weekend was that every single person in attendance came with a wide open heart, an eager mind, no filter, and no judgement. Very few of us knew each other going into the day, but somehow, as we gathered under the springtime sun and laughed/cried/empathized in unison, it felt like we’d all been strategically chosen to be together in that exact place at that exact time. And that’s the power of honoring who you are at your core: you’ll find others who honor it, too.

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Say yes to what's actually happening instead of waiting for what isn't. - @mslynnchen Click To Tweet
2) Say yes to what’s actually happening instead of waiting for what isn’t. As I’ve described before, I am a recovering people-pleaser and a current emotional sponge. I’ve craved permission, validation, someone telling me that the path I’m on is right/admirable/acceptable/okay. I’ve doubted myself into inaction too many times to count and internalized it to the point of paralysis. I’ve missed opportunities because I was waiting for a sign, not realizing that signs don’t just pop up if you’re not open to finding them.

Lynn got super raw this weekend and talked about her career, her attempt to get pregnant, her father’s death – and at the core of it all, landed on the invaluable piece of wisdom that we need to say yes to what is actually going on in our lives instead of sitting around preparing for something that isn’t. We toil away prepping our bodies for a season, we put off projects because of what might happen six months down the line, we don’t go on that date because we’re moving and they’re here and oh my god how would it ever work so why even bother? There are way, way too many instances for each of us, in our own unique ways, that we put our lives on hold and wait for that “Okay, all clear!” from the universe. Instead of waiting for those signs, we could be spending that time actually making shit happen. When we do this, it turns out, everything seems to fall into place. Even though we had no clue what that “everything” would even look like.

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It doesn't have to be sunshine+rainbows, but you've got to know you'll be okay - @balancedblondie Click To Tweet
3) Sometimes positivity isn’t even about seeing a silver lining – it’s about knowing deep down in your core that you’ll be okay. When Jordan was being viciously attacked online (trust me when I say it’s horrible stuff), she didn’t mask her feelings in mantras and she didn’t not internalize what was going on. As she shared with us, sure, some of the comments were/are laughable – but many were downright frightening and a threat to her safety. It would have been easy to rip her blog off of the internet or go AWOL – but she knew in her heart she was meant for more than that. And with a lot of help and a lot of self-awareness, she was able to continually remind herself, Yes, I will be okay.

Maybe you haven’t dealt with bullying or death threats like Jordan unfortunately has, but I’ll bet money on the fact that you’ve had something not go as planned. Maybe not go your way at all. Hell, maybe you’ve hit what’s felt like a personal rock bottom. If I have learned anything from the women (and men) I’ve met through WANT, it’s that nothing is ever insurmountable. Not saying it’s easy, and not saying it’s automatic. But that knowing, that sense that you will be okay, no matter what happens – that is the kind of potent positivity that gets you to the other side.

rachelle_tratt
If there is something that lights you up, GO DO IT. No one will do it for you. - @neshamaproject Click To Tweet
4) You are the only one who can make your life happen. No, not a mentor. No, not a romantic partner. Nope, not a friend, not a family member – no one else can make your life happen but you. The biggest tragedy is inaction – putting out that spark of a flame we all have inside us instead of fanning it and making it blaze.

The reason I love Rachelle is that through incredibly tough times, she’s always come back to her intuition. As she told us, we’re all intuitive beings – yet sometimes we get distracted and ignore that pull in our gut and heart to do the thing that makes us feel absolutely iridescent. The “have-tos” and “shoulds” come in and dance with the Ghost Worries and they screw us over, convincing us that the pull we feel is less than worthwhile. Other people have a pull, the have-to-should-dancers say. Who do you think you are taking up space and following yours? The Ghost Worries chime in, telling us it’s too risky, too dangerous. If we take a cue from someone else, it’s a whole lot safer. If we take that cue, then it’s not on us.

But here’s the thing: that cue never comes. And even if it does, we’re not stepping into our own lives, we’re just assimilating to someone else’s. Rachelle’s words were a powerful reminder for me to claim my space, own my power, and step into my own light – because waiting for someone else to make it easier also means I’m putting myself on an endless hold.

fearless
'Fearless' is when the fear is less than the faith. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet
5) Fearless is when the fear is less than the faith. Okay, this one’s my own. If there is one huge lesson I’ve learned through my life, through WANT, and through orchestrating this past weekend’s festivities, it’s that “fearlessness” is NOT about being unafraid. Because if that was so, then there would literally be NO ONE out there who is truly fearless.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many things trigger that “fearful” part of my brain on the daily. Traffic that threatens missing a class I’m teaching. Interviews with people I admire. Tough conversations with Jeremy, friends, or my family. Financial worries, life purpose worries, I-said-the-wrong-thing-and-now-that-person-will-hate-me-forever worries. I’m an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person – so I’ve found that I can either accept my fear or I can acquiesce to it.

I choose neither.

I respect my fears for what they’re trying to tell me. I honor them for their reminder of my values and goals. But I do not accept them as constants in my life, nor do I give in and let them take over.

Yes, I know I’ll always have things that make me afraid, but my fear barometer will always be changing.

And my definition of “fearless” is when my fear is less than my faith.

It always happens, I’ve learned. The faith will always outweigh the fear, eventually. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t give it the chance – I sure haven’t, at times.

Moving Forward Fearlessly, to me, is the act of pursuing that faith, even if it’s a small glimmer. It’s working towards those hours, days, and moments when everything seems to just click – the times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together and remind you that you are just right, just the way you are.

women against negative talk

HUGE thank you to M Café for the delicious lunch spread, Beaming for the juices and sweets, ONEHOPE Wine for the for-purpose Pinot, Sauv, and bubbly, Meghan Gallagher and Creative Visions Foundation for the most unbelievable space in the world and for making the process an ocean breeze, S.W. Basics/Pure Vida/Luna/Barnana/Philosophie for a swag bag that set the bar high – to Lynn, Jordan, Audrey, and Rachelle for shining your light and being the very best first WANT panel I could have ever wished for and completely blowing me away with every single word – and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. I am eternally grateful.

All photos by the amazing Cortnee Loren Brown


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The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

No sweet without sour, no peace without war, no joy without sorrow.

We’re all well-versed in the laws of opposition and the truths of our world: in order to have the good we must know the bad.

Still, is this any consolation when tragedy strikes? It’s unjust, unexpected, and grossly unfair.

Whether it is a personal tragedy experienced within our own familiar circle or an international tragedy experienced on a global level – we feel. Empathy is instinctual. It could have been me. It could have been my sister, my brother, my best friend. I could have been there.

tragedy

As I’ve discussed before, I honestly believe we are all equipped with the exact same tools to learn the exact same lessons, just at different times (or even different lifetimes). So if this is true, then it also must stand true that our minds and hearts each possess equal capacities for thought and feeling.

And if this is true, then the reality of our world is that we are all interconnected. Life is an energy exchange; we are all responsible for the education and growth of everyone around us. We are all gifted with the exact same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways.

So when tragedy hits one of us, it hits all of us. It awakens that primal feeling of grief and loss, of where-do-I-go-now?

We're all gifted the same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways. Click To Tweet

To me, “The News” has always been akin to watching a horror film, but in real time and real life. I set up Google alerts about topics that matter most to me, I follow my favorite news outlets on Facebook and Instagram, but for the most part, I trust my highly intelligent friends, podcast hosts, and NPR reporters to give me the information I need. The anger, violence, and hatred are too much to soak in (and I always soak it in). Constantly diving into such information, as a highly sensitive person, spirals me into a kind of sadness that’s crippling

It’s somewhat unfortunate that we haven’t even needed a regular TheNews-watching practice in our lifetimes to have had to cope with large-scale tragedy on a very consistent basis. The earliest I can remember being shaken by a tragedy was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I was in fourth grade. Since then, I’ve bore witness to the planet we call Home being torn to shreds, built back up, then beat up all over again. I remember the first Clinton election and talk of prosperity and change even though I had zero clue as a five-year-old what it even meant. Two wars in my lifetime, watching the response to terrorism change everything from the way I boarded a plane to the way, to my horror, I heard adults speak of others. I grew up in Los Angeles, in quite the inclusive environment. Never before had I realized that even the most seemingly inclusive weren’t all exempt from racism.

We’ve learned a lot about each other in these times of darkness. Some bad.

And, some good.

tragedy

Sometimes, my first impulse is to feel furious that we exist in such a cruel, awful time. I’ll find myself nodding when I hear “We live in a sick world” and using a word I rarely speak: “Hate.” In the last few days, it was hard not to.

But then…without even thinking of it…into my head popped my favorite passage from a favorite poem. Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life. “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul,” it begins…

In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. -Desiderata Click To Tweet

I see the images of strangers comforting strangers. My Facebook page is filled with not just memorial posts and photos, but articles about how to help and where to donate. (ps – here, here, here, and here)

And I remember that all of life is an energy exchange, and my anger is doing no one any good. It is not helping families and friends heal. It is not saving the injured, repairing the city, and it is certainly not tipping the peace:destruction ratio in favor of the former.

tragedy

In times of tragedy, we feel in unison. That equal capacity for thought and emotion we spoke of is rarely as apparent as in charged times. The same door unlocks in each of us, and our reactions become a harmony.

We have a choice in the song we sing – so choose wisely amidst the hurt and pain. Choose to put aside the maliciousness and bitter notes, and instead sing a beautifully dissonant song of mourning and reverence and compassion and hope. One that lights up from the inside like a pulsing candle flame – not a forest fire of destruction.

The best thing we can do is keep loving the world, even with its shattered pieces. Click To Tweet

We will never not know tragedy or sadness. But how we react will inform the collective heart of our planet. We must never lose sight of the fact that, yes, we CAN conquer hate with love. Yes, we have the power to heal. Yes, only light can drive out the darkness.

Our hearts are crying, but the best thing I think we can do is keep loving the world and seeing the best in it, even with its nicks and cuts and shattered pieces. In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

tragedy

[p.s. I posted an update on Facebook that read “I wish there was a world flag, so we could all raise that together.” A friend sent me this link. A proposed flag for Planet Earth, united as one. Can we make this happen please, NASA or UN or whoever? I’ll even change my profile pic.]
world-flag-fb


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