Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I have a friend whose primary language has always been sarcasm. She’s always making a joke of sorts, always deadpanning her way through her day. Yet something has shifted in the last year: where she once would use her wit to mask her emotions, she is now listening more acutely, responding more personally, and opening up to others about how she feels – even if she doesn’t know why she feels the way she does.

What’s pretty incredible to watch is how this has caused a domino effect in her life. The “friendly”-ships she’s had, with me and with others, have started to turn into deep, personal, soul-ie bonds. Negativity doesn’t hijack her conversations anymore. Her sleep has gotten better. She’s mindful of her triggers and has left her “victim” mentality behind. She’s glowing like I’ve never seen her glow.

My friend has always had a bold, infectious personality and has always been one to speak her mind. But as I watch her navigate through her day-to-day interactions with the world around her, I realize what’s different: she is finally speaking her heart, too.

~

To speak your heart is your right, but also your blessing. We are all blessed with the capacity to feel an entire spectrum of emotions and formulate all kinds of opinions and, moreover, questions, based on those emotions.

 

So why is it that with this incredible blessing, so often we stay silent?

Why are we so afraid to be ourselves – all of ourselves?

 

Sometimes we feel so alone in our thought processes that it seems wrong to speak our heart. To “talk deep,” as some call it. There’s this notion that expressing thoughts, feelings, opinions, and questions of an empathetic, introspective nature is embarrassing and makes us vulnerable. And vulnerable, we’ve been taught, is being susceptible to danger; either physical or emotional attack or harm. I just looked it up to be sure – yup, you can thank Merriam-Webster for our warped relationship with the V word.

This perception is left over from our childhood, middle school, and high school years: the perception that speaking our hearts, being authentic and unique, and letting others know how we feel is a sign of weakness and just another chance to be teased or ostracized.

And so we stay silent. Of course we feel alone – we don’t have any proof otherwise.

“Mean Girls” don’t just exist in the 18-and-under set; they follow us throughout our young adulthood and into our lives. ADULT judgement and gossip, we forget, both have the exact same roots as their childhood origin: insecurity, myopia and a strong desire to remain top dog at any cost.

And yet with that desire to Top-Dog’it comes a loneliness; an emptiness, lack of connection, and a distance between the person we project on the outside and the person we are (or long to be) inside. It drives us farther when all we truly want is to get closer. We begin to say we don’t care. We make “Whatever” or “Screw them” or “I don’t give a fuck” the catch phrase that we tell everyone.

But the irony is that we do care. So. Much. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck – no woman is that cool – she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck-she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up. - @GlennonDoyle Click To Tweet

We all have the capability to become that person. That woman who is burning inside with her hot vulnerability she’s locked up for no one to see. What ensures we don’t is how authentically we let our heart live out in the open…and (and!) with how much compassion we approach those who haven’t quite gotten there yet. Because the more we see others thrive in a space of authentic truth, the safer it can seem to follow suit.

Vulnerability, at its core, is nothing more than honesty. Vulnerable is being truthful; saying I am raw, I am flawed, I am crazed, I am bare, I am on a journey and I am urging you to join me. Yet this idea of vulnerability is so often met with trepidation. Can I be vulnerable? Should I be vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean I’m in harm’s way? Because true vulnerability isn’t just expressing joy or loving feelings. Vulnerability also means looking inside to find the cause instead of looking outside to fix the symptoms. And who knows what causes lurk beneath the surface…

Dr. Seuss got it mostly right when he said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I’d like to add: Those who mind – the Mean Girls of our adulthood – probably feel envious that you have the self awareness to be honest. Those who matter will “be who they are and say what they feel” right alongside you. And aren’t THOSE the people we want to be surrounded by anyway? They’re the ones who treat others like equals, the ones who can empathize because they’ve been there too. They’re the ones who can show compassion to anyone, even the Mean Girls, because they know what it is to feel things deeply.

They are the ones who thrive in the space of being…dare I say it…vulnerable.

Vulnerability means looking inside to find the cause instead of outside to fix the symptoms. Click To Tweet

Speak your heart and trust you are far from powerless. You might get a bit bruised, but by being authentic and true-to-you, there is nothing to fear. Because speaking your heart – even if you’re hurting, even if what it’s saying is somewhat unclear – is about Learning, Healing, and Giving. At the root of you and of me there is a pull to do all three. For others, for ourselves, for both at once.

We all have the ability to self-heal, it’s just about accessing that power – and being not only brave enough but self-trusting enough to do so.

We often view vulnerability as the danger from which we need healing. The barrier that prevents us from connecting.

Yet vulnerability and speaking your heart is actually the bridge that forms connection.

It’s the honesty that gives us the power to heal.

 



Never miss a post. Sign up for WANT in your inbox every Tuesday:



Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Aspiration, Inspiration: GOOD + My Relationship With Wellness.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration WANT Women

I don’t often post about the events I do or the places I speak. I feel like, for me, it borders on self-indulgent and sets a precedent that I’ll write something about every event I do or place I speak. But I do like sharing with you the ones that spark something new inside me…the ones where I can sense a shift happening. The ones that offer up more than just a recap and some fun photos. The ones that blow my mind.

This weekend, I had the immense honor of speaking at The GOOD Festival, an all-day wellness festival in Philly for anyone wanting to live well and “make choices that are in alignment with their body, their career, and their lives.” Basically, the GOODfest focused on all of the things I love about the wellness industry: the community, the curiosity, and the small choices that end up making a big difference in the long run.

But I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t love everything. A couple years ago, I felt my relationship with the “wellness” community starting to shift. Because wellness was shifting as well. And I didn’t really like much of what I was seeing: elitism, ego, judgement, and a focus on the external WHATs instead of the internal WHYs. Leaders and “gurus” encouraginig spiritual bypass, the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with hard things, was becoming just as if not more common than encouraging spiritual growth.

I felt torn. The wellness world had introduced me to some of my very dearest friends, launched my career, and helped me realize my through line. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the wellness world, I would have never started sharing my writing publicly or be even close to the person I am today (fun fact: my first blogs and first freelance jobs circa 2008 were all in what’s now considered the wellness realm). I owed so much of who I was to the wellness community – and yet I felt like I was watching a genuine and loving best friend get lured in by a Mean Girls-esque squad of crystal-carrying, sage-burning, side-eyeing Regina Georges. All aspiration on the outside and very little inspiration on the inside.

It broke my heart.

~

I’ve been very vocal about ways I feel the wellness world can shift, and every single WANT Woman that’s been featured on the site or the podcast is a shining example of what wellness can be if we lean into the parts of us that make us unique and let them lead the way. Literally, every single one of them. 

But still. It’s so easy to get caught up in the parade and charade of the opposite end of the spectrum when you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading an article and then all of the sudden it’s 12:42am and you’re paralyzed by fear that you’re not only doing everything wrong, but that your idea of what leadership means in the wellness world is no longer relevant.


One of the reasons GOOD was such a reaffirming experience for me was that it reminded me why I fell in love with wellness in the first place. Wellness, after all, isn’t just about the “well.” It’s not just about the adjective – or rather, the noun we’ve created from the adjective.

It’s about the verb – the “LIVING” part of living well.

“Well” is subjective. We cannot possibly know if what works for one person will work for someone else.

 

But living? Living is action. Living is experience-oriented.
And living well is…well, it’s moving forward fearlessly into the you you know you’re meant to be.

 

The GOODfest team blew me (and everyone else there, ps) away with their thoughtfulness and attention to detail. They’d carefully curated the day to reflect their mission and their values, and it showed in not just every single speaker and sponsor, but in all 300+ people who chose to spend their day with us. Deep conversations happened within a matter of seconds – real, no-bs, walls-down conversations – and each time a speaker walked onstage it was like they were being greeted by a room full of old pals.

Speaking of the speakers – the SPEAKERS! Oh my god the speakers. Being a part of this group was a dream come true. Some people were old friends (Jessica Murnane, Katie Dalebout, Jordan Younger), some were new friends (Gianne Doherty, Kristin McGee, Cassandra Bodzak, Sara DiVello, Kimmie Smith), and some I met specifically because we were both speaking at the GOODfest and then one month later we were the best of travel buddies (hi, Talia Pollock). In an industry that can sometimes seem so cliquey and elite, the GOODfest was anything but. It revived my love for wellness; for how *I* view living well. Which is all about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. All-around. Mind, body, soul.


Living well is about being proactive, not reactive, when it comes to how you want to feel. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

This post is obviously about the wellness world, but I think this disconnect between aspiration and inspiration applies across industries and even life stages. Maybe your thing is fashion. Maybe it’s academica. Maybe it’s music. Maybe you’re just starting a family, or have been single for a while, or are just about to graduate college or enter empty-nestville. There are so many opportunities for us to doubt that what we’re doing is right or where we are is where we’re supposed to be (yes, social media is a big way we can get triggered into self-doubt).

But what the GOODfest reminded me is that those people who seem to have everything perfectly manicured and are “too cool to care” are in the minority. WE are in the majority. Side by side. No one has it all figured out, but if we join forces in our curiosity, we can explore the options together.

And that’s what I love about wellness: I love the CONNECTION. The community. The willingness to open up and move forward fearlessly…on the same team. We might not know anywhere near everything, but each of us knows something – and when we all work together to both hear and be heard, we’ve got a whole damn lot of options on the table.

Thank you Kate, Jess, Jen, Sienna, Brea, and the rest of the GOOD team for creating a space for women to unlock themselves and fully exhale. To my fellow speakers, I adore every single one of you and am honored to have been in your presence.



When we all work together to both hear + be heard, we've got a whole lot of options on the table. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


 

Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job

Down With The Side Hustle, Down With The Day Job

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

Last week, I was at a networking event thing for activist-minded women in their twenties and thirties. Lots of rad women, lots of big ideas. Because I was feeling chatty and confident, I told myself to stay a little while longer, if just to finish my glass of “OMG It’s Finally Spring!” celebratory rosé. Because I’m an extroverted introvert and do one-on-one conversations, I gravitated toward the gal standing by the wall who was finishing her glass, too. A kindred spirit.

I ask her a little bit about herself – who she is, what she loves, what she cares about, how she spends her time on a daily basis and why (because I go hard right out of the gate). She asks me what I “do.”

So I tell her about WANT.

(And you guys, I was on fire. I promise it wasn’t just the rosé. I’d just gotten back from a speaking engagement and booked two more, I was high off of reading your beautiful emails sharing your incredible stories, and I’d finally started to own some of my long-term goals and get them rolling. I felt in my freaking element and ready to share the love!)

And then she asks me “So is that your side hustle?” And I stumble.

“…Well, no, that’s where I put my energy and efforts on a daily basis. That’s where the majority of my focus is.”

She cuts me off. “Yeah, but is it MAKING YOU MONEY.”

That’s not a typo. It’s not supposed to be a question mark. It’s a period.

Like she was trying to school me on “what I do.”

After years of struggling with “what I call myself” and how I explain who I am and what I’m about to other people – and, honestly, after reaching a really good place with it all and finally feeling like I can answer people in a way that’s succint yet doesn’t sell me short – I found myself thrown off-guard by her haste and candor. Plus I just didn’t want to talk about other things, ya know?

Thankfully, my self-awareness prevented me from getting defensive or snapping back at her. After what seemed like twenty seconds of gathering myself (probably more like two, not twenty), I calmly replied, “Well, it’s not my primary source of income, but I am, yeah” (which is not untrue)

“Oh,” she trails off…

We wrapped up our conversation and I made a beeline for the door. I couldn’t stay in this networky environment much longer.

I know. I know she didn’t mean anything by it. I know she was just trying to compartmentalize and simplify the information she was gathering. But her words stuck with me for days. Especially because she was…well, she was like me. It’s easier to brush off comments that rub you the wrong way when they come from people outside your age range or career or interest field. But peers are different. She wasn’t someone who was unfamiliar with the kind of “work” I was talking about. She was just…assuming it was on the side.

~

I have big problems with the terms “Side Hustle” and “Day Job.” I think they’re stifling, I think they’re suffocating, and I think they’re stupid.

It’s like when actors or painters or writers (hi) get asked what their “real job” is, because their work as an artist isn’t work that’s usually associated with paying the bills. To the artist, whose art is as real as it gets, asking “So what’s your day job?” feels like a passive-aggressive slam.

I have so many problems with this – where do I start? Using the words “day job” and “side hustle” assumes that one is serious and one isn’t. One pays the bills and one brings in a few dollars a month at most. One is a career at most and paycheck at least, one is a passion at most and a hobby at least. One is the big juicy main steak dish, one is the sad asparagus spears.

I realize that it’s human nature to want to simplify and find structure…but I think it’s downright dangerous to label what you do as a side dish instead of a main course. Or downplay the main course as merely something that gives you nutritional value.

If you’re constantly referring to what you love as unworthy of the spotlight, then how can you ever expect it has a fair shot at success?

I never, ever, ever refer to any of my jobs as Day Jobs or Side Hustles. To me, they’re all just different projects that serve different purposes. Never once did I refer to my job at a vegan restaurant in L.A. as my Day Job – and yet it was what paid the bills most of the time alongside my acting gigs and spin classes and freelance work. I never once referred to my acting or teaching or writing as a Side Hustle – and yet they brought in a handful of change each month at best. My restaurant job was not how I defined my days. My art was never on the side.

The restaurant helped me build community. The art helped me use my voice.

If you say what you love is unworthy of the spotlight, how can you expect a fair shot at success? Click To Tweet

Instead of compartmentalizing my life into Day Jobs and Side Hustles when I go to parties or meet new people, I always lead with what I’m most excited to talk about. Most of the time, it’s WANT. Sometimes it’s my classes. Sometimes it’s a small one-off project I’m doing that fascinates me to no end. Sometimes it’s just a riff off of “I’m a writer.” But very rarely do I answer “What Do You Do” the way people expect I will: with a passion justified by a more “sensible” job.

I’m lucky enough to have multiple jobs that pay my bills. WANT is one of them. But I’ve also been working in the fitness and wellness industry for over a decade, and I love that too. And go figure, it’s the primary thing that pays my bills right now. There are a LOT of people who talk about turning your “side hustle into your main hustle” – screw that! Why can’t your side hustle be your main hustle right out of the gate? Why can’t your day job and your night job live harmoniously? In high school we had multiple classes that carried equal weight. Why not the same with how we spend our days? Nay, our lives?

Here’s the thing: you are where your energy is. What you do and how you make money MIGHT be the same thing, but might be the answer to an entirely different question. The concepts of Day Jobs and Side Hustles speak nothing to what you’re actually putting your energy toward – because they focus on quantity of hours and dollars, not quality of passion and vision. 

~

“‘Side Hustle?'” my mom chuckled when I repeated the networking story to her. “I’ve never heard that term before!”

Mind = blown. Every third Instagram post, every other blog – everyone talking about how to develop a side hustle or turn your side hustle into your main hustle or whatever. It had been exhausting for quite some time now. The fact that she had never even heard of this was absurd. How was that possible?

And then I thought about it. And I remembered how she’d never encouraged me to have a Plan B like so many of my artist friends’ parents. “What will she do if she doesn’t make it?” people would gasp. “Katie is a smart girl. And she loves many things,” my parents would say. “She’ll figure it out.”

That mentality was such a gift to me. They knew I didn’t need to plan for “real life” with a passion on the side. Real life lived everywhere.

No one who is in my life would ever think of WANT as my side hustle. They know how many hours I put in working, and they know how much energy I spend making it the very best it can be. Maybe it doesn’t look like a “regular job” to people on the outside…but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to shove it in a corner of generalizations and assumptions. The same goes for the other ways I choose to fill my days, whether they make money or not. I streamline when I need to, but I thrive on strategic variety. Nothing I do looks normal to the naked eye, and I am alright with that. It’s normal to me.

What I propose is this:

Down with the Day Job.

Down with the Side Hustle.

Let’s ask people what they spend their energy on, and tell them where ours is as well.

Let’s view what we do as different aspects of who we are. All main courses in their own right.

Plan A all the way.

 


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

5 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Exercise (No Matter How You Feel)

Body Tips + Tools

I’m no stranger to sweat therapy: I hit the gym on the regular. My running shoes are practically a second set of feet. I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to get down (dog) – heck, I’ve been teaching spin classes since people thought it meant you go to a class and turn around in circles for 45 minutes on end (for real. people used to ask me if that was what a spin class was).

I’m well aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting my heart rate up on the regular, and consider fitness more of a lifestyle habit than a to-do to get to-done.

So why, then, do I wake up some mornings feeling like the last thing I want to do is get moving?

~

According to catchy headlines and fly-by-night trends, we’re supposed to sweat it out the same way no matter the season: with intensity, with drive, and with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year. We force ourselves into routines for the sake of routines, not taking into account that we are living, breathing, changing beings who experience enough physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts in a mere day to fill up a week’s worth of SoulCycle classes by 12:01pm on a Monday afternoon.

Study after study shows us that exercise can boost our mood, help our bodies clear out toxins, and make even the most everyday of activities seem a whole lot easier (hello, five-story walk up apartment). But when you’re feeling fatigued, uninspired, or just plain down-in-the-slumps, scientific facts don’t help all that much. And the “accountability” factor of having a class to make or a trainer to see isn’t always a surefire recipe to get amped up.


The solution: You’ve got to make your workout work out for you.

 

I’ve definitely struggled with this since moving across the country. Not only was I not used to the seasonal shifts, but I had to completely restructure my schedule, top to bottom. This definitely included the way I moved. I loved exercising outside, which I didn’t have many opportunities to do in LA – one point, NYC! The gym was also a huge part of my community on the west coast, and I found that the NYC gyms where I felt that were NOT the ones that were the closest to my house. And then there was rain, there was snow, and there was that huge dramatic shift in early November when I didn’t even want to leave the house let alone break a sweat. Thankfully, ten months in, I’ve figured out my roadblocks and how to move through them in order to get moving.

You’ve got to make your workout WORK OUT for you. Click To Tweet

Feeling blah? I feel you – and there’s no need to let negative self-talk stand in your way. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success and motivate yourself to exercise, no matter how you feel:

 

1) Give yourself options. Ever notice that the more often you do something extreme, the more your body starts to want its next hit? It’s kind of like that with fitness. When it comes to working out on a down day, it’s important to feed your cravings, not your addictions. That could mean foregoing your usual five-mile run for a meditative walk in the park. That could mean modifying your burpees in your HIIT sesh so there’s no push-up involved. That could mean trading in plank for child’s pose. Knowing you have options within the workout you choose removes that all-or-nothing feeling and gives your body what it actually wants (feeds the craving) vs. what you think it SHOULD be wanting (feeding the addiction).

 

2) Have a Plan A…Plan B…Plan C….Plan D… I love to run outside. But I know myself, and there are certain situations in which even the most persuasive person I know (hi mom) wouldn’t be able to convince me to haul you-know-what out in the open air. If you’ve learned how to psych yourself to run in brutal heat, icky rain, or I-can’t-feel-my-face cold, more power to you. Me? That’s a big NOPE in my book.

In the past, I’d either force myself to brave the elements or skip out altogether. Not only was the former potentially dangerous and the latter a surefire way to make me a crankypants for the rest of the day, but neither of those options had to be the solutions! Now I know to always have a Plan A, B, C, even a Plan D for making my workout work for me. Running outside not an option? Use the treadmill. All the treads already taken at the gym? Hop on an elliptical. No cardio equipment available whatsoever – or it’s just too miserable to leave the house in the first place? Say hello to my fave, customizable self-confidence boosting workout. Having multiple options at the ready, I’ve found, ensures I can make a decision that’s right for me no matter the circumstance.

 

3) Wear what makes you feel good. Many fitness pros and motivational coaches will recommend that a surefire way to get amped to work out is wear a rockin’ piece of fitnesswear. And that’s solid advice. Heck, a whole activewear revolution is happening because of that exact school of thought!

The problem is, sometimes that’s not what actually makes us feel our best – especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. When I’m feeling down on myself and physically uncomfortable, I wear clothes that have a little more “give” to them. Sometimes, I throw on my fiancé’s old t-shirt and call it a day. Point is: if your fitnesswear best makes you feel rockin’, rock on! But if an old concert tee and stretchy pants from 2008 make you feel great, that’s great too. It’s much easier to get in a productive – and pleasant – workout when you’re less concerned with the way you look and more invested in the way you feel.

 

4) Make playlist presents for yourself. When I find music I love, I become borderline obsessed. So muchso, in fact, that I’ll listen to an entire album or playlist on repeat for weeks, then move onto another set of songs for another few weeks after that. And so on, and so on. That first time I listen is always the most exciting – so what I’ve learned to do is create a playlist for myself (or download an entire album on Spotify) and promise myself not to listen until my next workout. This works with playlists, genre “stations” on Spotify or Pandora (I’m all about the “90s Smash Hits” right now), even podcasts. Giving yourself something to look forward to within the workout setting is a great way to trick yourself into putting the work in and having a blast in the moment.


5) Give it a REST.
Okay, so this one might seem counter-intuitive…rest to motivate yourself to exercise? Isn’t this a recipe for a negative talk spiral? Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I’m not talking about resting when you’ve got adrenal fatigue or are overtraining – which, obviously, require rest. I’m talking about letting yourself off the hook. If you’re constantly pressuring yourself to “be motivated,” how will you ever get there? Just like with food, your decision to exercise (or not exercise) is not good or bad – it just IS. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just get up and do it even when you’d rather be binge watching Orange Is The New Black on your couch. But at the same time, it’s necessary to train yourself to cut yourself some slack. How can we ever develop a healthy relationship with our body if we’re constantly putting the pressure on it to look, act, and do things a certain way? In my experience, this is a breeding ground for guilt and exercise addiction. Give yourself the space to breathe – you might be surprised by what happens when you start to approach exercise as one of many opportunities to feel good, not one sole chance or obligation to do things the “right” way.

 

Looking for more WANT wisdom to help you get moving? Click here for help ramping up…or maybe even slowing down.


WANT YOURSELF:
Now, you: I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to exercise when you’re just not feeling it. Is there a specific trick you’ve got up your sleeve? Is there a song or playlist you’ve go that gets you going no matter what? Leave a comment below – your sweat-positive strategy might be exactly what someone else needs to get them spinning in the right direction. Literally or figuratively ;)


Photo by Caddie Hastings

Down In The Slumps: The Simple, No-B.S. Shift For When You’re Feeling Discouraged

Down In The Slumps: The Simple, No-B.S. Shift For When You’re Feeling Discouraged

Community Love Tips + Tools Work

I make lists like it’s my job. And for a while there, it was: I’ve gone down the personal assistant route, I’ve written round-ups of everything from the best protein bars to “7 bike shorts that don’t suck.” My methods for getting to-dos to-DONE are impressive at best, neurotic at worst. Bubbles, arrows, brackets – my lists are more like living breathing flow chat entities than items to be checked off (don’t even get me started on my Google Cal notifications).

My professional-life-enthusiast status does not come without its pitfalls, though. I have a tendency to become dependent on strategizing, and therefore a little addicted to a steady stream of outcomes. Which isn’t really a problem, until it is.

Sometimes life gets in the way of plans, but sometimes it also feels like life is that one super-late party guest who keeps texting you that she’s “ten minutes away” and then just ends up saying she’ll catch you next time. As much as I’d LOVE to be able to To-Do List my life, usually the universe has stuff in store that doesn’t quite line up with the algorithmic vision I have of causes and effects.

And when I find myself without a next step – or anything to show for my time and work, really – I deflate.

My friend Diane calls it being “down in the slumps.” Nope, not down in the dumps – down in the slumps. Her slumpy catchphrase was originally born out of a misunderstood idiom, but I’ve now found it’s actually pretty accurate when it comes to describing that lame feeling of defeat. It’s not just sad or depressed: when you’re down in the slumps, you feel like all the air that’s been keeping you buoyantly afloat has been drained out of your spirit. You try and try to hoist yourself back up into the air, but it’s nearly impossible to get even a few inches off the ground without slumping down over yourself more and more just a few seconds later.

I’ve seen my share of slumpy slumps. Heck, I just uprooted my entire life and moved across the country – don’t you think for one second that that sort of acclimatization process doesn’t come with its fair share of slump feelings. My slumps have almost exclusively been a result of (unintentionally) going cold-turkey on my “habit addiction,” not even leaving me with a set of vague rules or roads to use as guideposts. It’s why I’m historically not chummy with change, and why transitions are such a challenge for meWhat have you even been doing? an unfamiliar judgmental voice inside me nags. You’re a smart woman; you’re wasting your potential. You have nothing to show for the days/weeks/months that have passed you by.

You’re not trying hard enough.

You’re not doing nearly enough.

Enough enough enough. You’re definitely not enough.

Hey, inner voice, here’s a newsflash: sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try. Sometimes what’s necessary is exactly what you dislike the most. Sometimes you need to explore your full range of emotions to find out where the key is to get back out into the sunlight. Sometimes the challenge is necessary for the change.

Sometimes the challenge is necessary for the change. Click To Tweet

When I was in high school, my theater teacher used to tell us that instead of saying we were nervous before a show, we should tell ourselves that we were actually excited. Both nervous and excited are “aroused emotions,” meaning they trigger a response in the body that prepares you for action. Studies are now showing what theatre kids have known for their entire lives: Turning your words around in a tense situation can turn your emotions around, too. 

But what about when the emotions you’re feeling are a response to inaction? How do you flip a shitty feeling without sounding like freaking Mary Poppins or your well-meaning great aunt who passive-aggressively reminds you about ticking clocks and when-I-was-your-age and your super successful third cousin and what-not?

What happens when doing everything you can just never feels like enough?

~

Did you ever think about why exactly it is that you’re down in the slumps? Why is it that you’re able to feel as discouraged as you do?

Think of it this way: if you were actually an unmotivated, untalented, no-passion loser, discouragement wouldn’t be an option, right? You’d be living in blissful ambivalence, not caring about anyone or anything – CERTAINLY not giving a crap about moving forward fearlessly.

But you’re NOT any of those things, because you’re not someone who doesn’t care. Your discouragement is a reminder that you care, and care deeply.

The OG of motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, once said It’s not about how far you fall, it’s about how high you bounce.

Did you ever think that the reason your lows are so low…is because you’re fearless enough to go chase the high highs?

Did you ever think that we’re all just getting the wording wrong?


We say we’re stuck and discouraged when really, we should be saying we’re ambitious and driven.

 

The great thing about ambitious and driven people is that they’re always seeking growth and expansion. Whether that’s personal growth (relationships, health, spirituality), career-related growth (new jobs, new projects, new ideas), or something else, the ambitious person is a professional possibility seeker. It’s part of them. It’s in their bones.

The flip is that possibility is subjective. One person’s vision is another person’s dead-end. So what happens when there’s no possibility to be found? The ambitious person shrinks. She deflates herself to fit the perceived space around her, one she sees as too small and narrow to hold her drive and desires.

She slumps.

How many times have we altered who we are in our core just to fit in? When possibility is scarce, we start to think “it’s us.” So we lower our intensity, mute our opinions, and become a shell of who we are in order to survive and thrive in the elements of where we are. Ambition and drive seem like negative qualities, not positive, when you’re buying into the belief that the world isn’t big enough to receive what you have to offer.

It’s a simple, borderline-positive-affirmation-esque shift. But what makes the discouraged-to-driven shift different than any old affirmation (or any BS click-baity strategy that ultimately just tells you to look on the bright side) is that with affirmations you need to talk yourself into believing the phrase. The discouraged-to-driven shift is easier to recognize as truth right off the bat. You’ve got PROOF from your life to support this fact. Times you’ve succeeded. Times you’ve soared. It’s just that it’s a whole lot easier to praise ambition and drive when things are actually going your way. So in frustrating or deflating times, it’s essential to remind yourself of your true nature.

In frustrating or deflating times, it's essential to remind yourself of your true nature. Click To Tweet

When you’re feeing discouraged, remind yourself that there is a big world out there that’s more than big enough to fit your unique level of ambition, intensity, and courage. All people have that electric drive in them. But not all people are brave enough to explore where it can lead them. It’s easier to give into the slump than it is to slowly-but-surely soar. You choose to go for the “soar” even though it requires you to show up, both physically and emotionally. You fall down and have to improvise at times, and if you’re like me and would rather have a list of to-dos to get to-DONE, it’s never going to be comfortable. But you’ll get there. That drive is part of what makes you extraordinary.

Side note – don’t you think I’ve stopped making lists in my life. It’s just not an *addiction* anymore. There was a time I thought my lists were what kept me motivated…but now I realize that it’s just the opposite. My lists are just byproducts of the motivation that sets everything in motion in the first place. There’s a whole lot in my life I’m just not able to list out and check off in sequence. Like what happens after you move across the country. Or what happens when you leave a job. But I know I’m a doer, and I know whatever the slump, I’ll find a way through.

There are unknowns and there are pivots, and there are times when it feels like you don’t even know where to start getting started. I get it. But the small step of identifying and trusting who you are at your core is the perfect small step to get the ball rolling. It’s not about how far you fall, it’s about how high you bounce. It’s not about how low you slump, it’s about how high you soar.

 

feeling-defeated-getting-motivated
It's not about how low you slump, it's about how high you soar. Click To Tweet


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


Seventeen-Point-Five: The Underestimation of our Unforeseen Strength.

Seventeen-Point-Five: The Underestimation of our Unforeseen Strength.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

Another day at the gym, another chance to fit in some resistance work. It was crowded on the floor, the weight rack reminding me of the produce shelves at Trader Joe’s Chelsea on Sunday evenings: picked over, plowed through, only a few choices left now that the “good ones” were gone. I was left with my own personal equivalent of bruised-up apples and overripe bananas and strange veggie combos that no one else wants to cook.

In fitness – specifically, resistance training – there are two main schools of thought: you lift light with high reps, or you lift heavy with less reps. For me, someone once told me along the way that lifting lower weights until fatigue was the way to go. Eight-to-ten-pounders it was, then. No more, rarely less. It maintains “lean muscle,” I was told. It burns what you don’t want and keeps what you do. 

Which technique was actually “better” or not is besides the point. If I’m being honest with myself (which I always try to do), I stuck with the advice I did because it was easy. I knew exactly what to expect. It was familiar. And even when I felt myself getting stronger, which I did every now and again, I shied away from the larger weights not because I feared I wouldn’t get “results” – but because I was scared I would be disappointed with myself if I couldn’t lift them to begin with.

Sighing at the lack of ten-pounders on the rack, I picked up the only option under sixty pounds available: 17.5. I had to look down to make sure I’d grabbed the right one. It can’t be, I thought. Why did I think this would be so insurmountably heavy?

~

We live within an epidemic of underestimating our strength. In this world, it’s become easy to be angry, easier to be cruel, even easier to be simply “nice,” than it is to speak up and live out.

Is it that we are culturally shamed into not showing strength? “Speaking up” is having a moment, thank goodness, but we’ve still got a long way to go until voicing our hearts is seen as a sign of courage, not a scarlet letter of deficiency. Is it we view the idea of “living the dream” as just that – a silly, unattainable dream that’s unworthy of a fight or our courage? Or is it that there’s so much else that’s a distraction in this world, too much else that’s over-stimulating and overpoweringly strong, that to add even an ounce of strength to the mix is almost too overwhelming to bear?

The majority of our environment is artificial; banking on our arousal to keep us engaged. Oh look, a fancy restaurant! Oh look, a sample sale! Oh look! An ad telling me I must not be good enough as I am because I definitely need that cream to do away with my shortcomings! It might be fun (no hate; not knocking it till I try it), but even the new Pokémon GO iPhone game thing is worth questioning. What does it say about us that the game begins with a reminder to “stay alert” — not while we quench a thirst for information or knowledge, but feed a hunger to “catch” imaginary creatures, ps — lest we should bump into a light post, or a person, or a moving car, or an assailant? (this article on Forbes does a good job of summing up my feelings on that one – on the other hand, this one does a nice job of expressing how it might be able to help folks with depression, but it’s more about actually getting people outside than it is about what people do once they’re there.)

All any of this means is that when we get the chance to make our own decisions and decipher our own feelings, we’re way less likely to go for anything other than the easy way out. After all, the world is constantly coaxing us to spend our energy elsewhere. We will never cease to be tempted by the ease of the moment until we start investing in what it means to explore our own strength.

The true work doesn’t come in the ease and the fallback, it comes in the unfamiliar and the spaces outside of comfort zones:

Growth, whether it’s muscles or mindset, comes when you move forward fearlessly and pick up that weight, and maybe one day are surprised by the fact that picking it up wasn’t all as hard as you’d worked it up to be.

Fitness, to me, is not about a number of reps. It’s not about the perfect lunge, and it’s certainly not about the number of calories burnt per minute. Fitness is about realizing you’re stronger than you thought, you’re tougher than you realized, and you’re way more intricate than you ever could imagine. Fitness is about realizing that it’s okay to be both strong and soft, determined and delicate, in the gym and out of the gym – because life asks of you everything the gym does and more. Lifting a weight over and over might look impressive from the outside (how does she do so many reps?!), but you’re ultimately just waiting for the inevitable fatigue.

Choosing the safe bet – the anger, the fear, the perfunctory cheeriness, the popular viewpoint – might be easier to choose and more readily accepted from the outside, but ultimately, it’ll get old.

But choosing the more mindful option? The one that presents challenges no one can see? Now that is something. Now THAT is strength. It’s not about the way it looks, it’s about the way it feels.

It's not about the way it looks, it’s about the way it feels. Click To Tweet

And so picking up a seventeen-point-five pound weight, it meant so much more to me in that moment than just a few extra units of heavy metal. It made me ask: Where am I not upping the weight in my own life? Where am I settling for the ease, over and over again until I fatigue? And in what parts of my life am I not facing my own true strength?

I am not perfect. I stay silent when I long to speak up. I cower in the face of fear. I shrink myself to make others feel comfortable, and I overextend myself to protect others instead of protecting myself. I feel rage-bubbles bubble up inside, and I smile a sweet smile even when I’m betrayed. But I always go back and I pick up the weight, and remind myself that every ounce of metal and every moment of equanimity counts when it comes to building myself up into the woman I strive to be. When it comes to building the world into the world I want to see. We’ve got to start somewhere, and we can’t discount the power we have as individuals to shift the landscape.

So go ahead. Pick up the dumbbell and lift the weight. You might be surprised at the strength you’ve built – and the power that’s been locked inside, waiting for you to use it.

strength-women-against-negative-talk


WANT Yourself:
In the comments below, tell me one way you’ve impressed yourself with your own strength. Doesn’t matter what it is – all acts of strength are HUGE in the WANT playbook.

Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement: