To The Goddess Unchained.

To The Goddess Unchained.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work
'When you're a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained. And everyone will have something to say.' @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet

Dear beautiful woman,

Hi. It’s me. We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. Scratch that – I know that I know you. And I don’t mean that in a pushy, I’ve-been-there-before-so-now-I-know-you-and-also-everything way. I mean that in the way that we all come from the same source, the same sisterhood, the same #rigged system that’s made us believe false truths throughout the ages that nothing we do will ever be enough.

I know you are struggling right now. With what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the job? The relationship status? The family or kids or lack thereof of both? As someone once said, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

But what I do know is this: your struggle is inflammed by the perceived expectations of the world around you.

~

To be kind, to be humble, to be gracious – to be boistrous, but not too much. To be soft, to be resilient, to be a leader, but not too much. To be heard, but not absorbed; to be wild, but at the same time tamed. This is the dichotomy of being a woman. Just a woman.

And to be a powerful woman – oh jeez! That is a task of itself, a dance more precise and more stress-sweat inducing than walking through eggshells. One misstep and the craaaaaaaaack of everything delicate below you rings loud in your ear. You must be bold. You must be brave. You must be a mind-reader and truth-teller but always know when and where your place is to say such things.

Success, you must learn, is relative. And success, you must say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But success, you must learn, is both the pinnacle of acceptance and the beginnings of lifelong critique. You are not kind enough, or humble enough, or gracious enough – or you’re boistrous, but way too much. No softness, too much resilience, too wild, too heard.

 

Because when you’re a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained.
And everyone will have something to say.


I believe in you, lady. I believe in your grandness and your solitude, your quietness and your noise. I believe in the way you walk through the world, step by forceful step; the way you trip sometimes but always keep going. There are pebbles lodged in the soles of your shoes and dirt encrusted on the laces, relics from the places you’ve been and the things you have seen. Resist the urge to scrape them off. They belong there, they complete you – shoes were not meant to stay crisp and clean, in my opinion.

You have the answers you’re looking for, deep down. Whether they’ve made their way to the surface yet, TBD. You’re not supposed to wake up one day and know. But anyone who says they do or assumes the opposite is a liar.

Surprise, surprise: the hallmark of being a true adult is knowing that you will never know.

~

And so you, goddess unchained, you are grappling with the knowing and the not knowing and to that I say you’re doing it right. The world wants you to believe it expects you to know but all that is is a desperate plea to fill in the blanks. Blanks that are not yours to fill, blank spaces that aren’t meant to be filled in the first place.

But the last thing I want you to do, sweet friend, is get defensive and stew. How Dare They! How Dare This! The world is not conniving against you, the world just does not know. The world is a child, curious and stubborn. It’s wary of change. It wants to see what sticks. It wants to know what can be cuddled, and how hard, without being smothered. It wants to know what can be crushed, and how hard, without being broken. You don’t have to be the parent or sitter – but rather, the other curious child on the playground who is building sandcastles in the sand instead of eating it.

Nothing you do will ever be enough?
Everything you do is already enough, by the very nature that you’re doing it.


The world is reactive, so you must be proactive.

The world takes cues, so you must make your own.

I don’t want you to look down at the quicksand and say, How Dare They!

What I do want you to do is stand in the middle of the storm and exclaim with pride, How Dare I!

 


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The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

The WANT Women: Nicole Sciacca on Taking Big Risks, Prepping For Curveballs, and Laughing At Life

WANT Women

No matter what, the future is based in my reaction. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years of building a career, birthing a business, quitting a job, moving across the country, and getting engaged (it’s been a busy few years.), it’s that no matter HOW far you think you’ve gotten, there is still so much more to learn. And moreover, you don’t have to go at it alone.

I recently started working with a coach to help gain clarity around a few big-time goals of mine (more on that in the future – both the coach part and the goals part). After unpacking stuff like my alternative definition of “accomplishments” and my love affair with structure, she asked me about role models. And after listing people like Jenny Lewis and Glennon Doyle Melton, I told her about one of my first friends to truly show me what I was capable of. That friend is today’s WANT Woman: Nicole Sciacca.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably at least heard of Nicole if not experienced her Force Of Nature-ness firsthand. Nicole Sciacca is a yoga teacher, professional dancer, actress, host, personal trainer, and (most importantly) a mother to her three year-old son Beau. She is currently the Chief Yoga Officer of Playlist Yoga in West Hollywood, where she spearheads their programming and works with teachers to turn each class into the kind of unique, music-driven experiences that have earned Playlist the nickname “The SoulCycle Of Yoga.”

This LIFE business is scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So let's just laugh. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

Backstory: Nicole moved to Los Angeles from Birmingham, Alabama over sixteen years ago. After suffering a horrible back injury in 2006 that changed the trajectory of her dance career, she needed to find an outlet for her energy and genetic disposition for sweat. What originally seemed like her biggest roadblock ultimately introduced her to her greatest passion. Nicole simultaneously began yoga while recovering…and knew she was onto something. Although she had swam and danced professionally her entire life, it was yoga that transformed her mind, body and spirit all at once.

Nicole has always believed in the power of “the journey, not the destination,” so when her Venice Beach studio Hustle and Flow was forced to close, she knew something big was bound to be on the horizon. Days later, she met Playlist owners Jorden Cohen and Rob Rubano. The timing could not have been more perfect – and Nicole found her new path as the face of Playlist.

women against negative talk playlist yoga nicole + i at the one year WANTiversary party in 2016

Our story? Well, I need to preface this by saying that I have spot-on friendtuition. I don’t know how, but I can so much as hear about someone from someone else and have a gut feeling that we’re going to be friends. I’ve learned this about myself in time, but when I met Nicole eight years ago in her spin class and had that friendtuition feeling right off the bat, I was so confused because I was also ridiculously intimidated by her.

It wasn’t that Nicole was actually intimidating or scary in the least. It was that I was in the midst of figuring myself out. I was just finding my voice as a writer and fitness instructor, was battling self-doubt when it came to calling myself a leader…and here was this woman who freaking OWNED THE ROOM the second she walked in.

I’d never seen anyone foster such a deep sense of community (“a following,” if you will) like Nicole did. She made people work hard without even realizing it was hard work. She made people laugh but never at the expense of anyone or anything else. She looked you in the eye and listened to what you had to say, even if she’d met you three seconds beforehand. And she didn’t apologize for being herself.

She was badass. She was soulful. She was exactly what I wanted to be like but didn’t know I could become.

Fast forward to the Now, and she’s one of those “lifer” friends of mine. We’ve seen each other through some high highs and low lows, and I can say on my end that I’m not only a better person to have had her cheering me on, but am a bolder person for bearing witness as her story unfolds and seeing her move forward fearlessly through it all. Injuries. Relationships. Speed bumps. Successes. She’s the definition of fearless: when the fear is less than the faith.

The more comfortable I am being uncomfortable, the better prepared I am for surprises. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

I realized the other day that I hadn’t spotlighted a WANT Woman on the site since last year – crazy, right? Especially since one of the things I value most is connection. This means not only introducing you to WANT Women around the globe, but helping you connect with women who can ultimately help you find a deeper connection with YOURSELF. And so I thought, who better to get back into the flow of things than one of the WANTiest women I know. I love our WANT community so much, it was crazy to me I hadn’t introduced you to Nicole yet. So. Here. Done and done.

They (whoever “they” are) say that you need to see it to be it. And for me, Nicole was one of the first people to show me the kind of person I could become if I was brave enough to go there. Our story is never finished, our practice is never perfected, and if we just hold the mirror up and reflect our light onto one another, we’re able to surpass our wildest expectations.

WANT NICOLE.

Name: Nicole Sciacca


How you’d know me (occupation or role):
I have been teaching yoga, group fitness, and indoor cycling as well as private training for almost a decade in Los Angeles, California. I formally owned a cycling and yoga studio called Hustle & Flow Fitness on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Currently I am the Chief Yoga Officer (CYO) at PLAYLIST. Yoga in West Hollywood.


What I love about myself (and why):
One of the things I love about myself is my sense of humor, because what are we doing, you guys? This LIFE business is crazy. And awesome. And scary. And beautiful. And unnerving. So please…let’s just laugh. Also, my resilience. I’m pretty sure that is a new found quality over the last 4-5 years but I can tell you I see the importance in resiliency now more than ever.


What is your definition of “positivity?”
 The energy that is extended when the deepest motivation is love, compassion, joy, and kindness. Or Katie Horwitch. I’m not saying that because this is your site. I honestly would define you as “positivity personified.” True story. (note from katie: omg.)

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” Oddly I don’t remember this “turning point” but I do recall my mother and father really establishing my self worth and the value of my individuality at a very young age. They let me wear the same self chosen outfit 4 days in a row to kindergarten (thankfully my mom washed it every night!). There was a prominent shift when I began to dedicate my life to helping others through fitness and yoga but I was certainly raised with an awareness of “self love.”


How/where negative talk shows up in my life:
Paying off debt. Debt that I incurred from taking big risks. Strange thing is that I don’t necessarily regret those choices because the lessons are plentiful. Negativity shows up at least once a month when I feel bloated or hormonal. Sometimes as a mother I find my inner critic beating me up as I compare my parenting to other mamas.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…
If I feel a lack of energy or physically lethargic, I blame my diet and for not having the discipline to eat more carefully. If I get a piece of mail that worries me, I doubt my capabilities to run my business. If I’m struggling on my mat, I tell myself my priorities are out of whack… There is a great deal of personal critique on my end and that has been a voice that I’ve battled my entire life.

When others talk negatively about themselves… I have a completely different reaction. I listen and immediately drum up all the reasons they are shining, glorious, star fairies!!


It baffles me that women still…
make less than men dollar to dollar. Seems like we should just cut that shit out now.


I wish that more women…
would praise, support, nurture and enable one another. I surround myself with some incredibly strong and driven ladies which makes me proud to be a woman in this industry, at this point in history. We are a great force for good and the world NEEDS us. Our children need us.



I wish more women would praise, support, nurture, and enable one another. The world NEEDS us. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

The coolest thing about women is… we can bring life into the world. Cliche? I don’t care. I have been blessed to do this and it is the coolest thing I’ve ever been privileged to experience. Also, we can multi-task like a BOSS.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive:
Pray or meditate or sweat. Nearly all my problems can shift when I do one (or all) of these 3 things. Also, I call my mom.


My top female role models:
This is a random list here…. I’d say Elizabeth Lesser. Her life’s work and exceptional use of language as seen in her books is just incredible. Johanna Gaines from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. I only know what I see and read but from the dynamic she shares with her husband, her 4 children, their farm, and businesses, I’m constantly inspired.


Favorite negativity-busting activity:
Spending quality time with my son. He fuels my heart in ways that I can barely explain. He reminds me of where I’ve been and that no matter what, the future is based in my reaction. I can shift energy by actively loving him.

Fave self-love ritual: beauty upkeep. Hair cut, a facial, a nice manicure and pedicure. IS THIS SHALLOW? My non-shallow answer is getting a good night’s sleep. Actual rest.


Favorite feel-good food(s):
My mom’s cooking. Specifically her homemade red velvet cake or her German sourkraut, potato, and pork recipe. It has a name but I don’t know it.


Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down:
This is 40 or Deadpool. (sorry.) Strangely, I don’t really re-watch movies. THIS HAS BEEN A POINT OF CONTENTION BEFORE. I think it makes me an oddball…so I don’t have an answer. Outside of Love Actually and All About Eve. Those are my all-time Favs!!


Favorite empowering book(s):
Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, Welcome to your Crisis by Laura Day


My feel-good playlist:

Like That – Memphis Bleek
How Do You Want It – Tupac
Lemonade (the entire album) – Beyonce
Rock and Roll or Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Stand Back – Fleetwood Mac
Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
River – Leon Bridges

Advice I would give my…

…4 year old self: It’s okay that you like micro machines and dirt. And maybe eat less Velveeta cheese.
…14 year-old self: You’re not too tall. You’re perfect. Don’t worry about boys and take more ballet classes.
…24 year old self: A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. GO TO YOGA RIGHT NOW.

A partner should compliment your life, not fill the holes. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: A trip or yoga retreat to New Zealand or Iceland. Go on safari in South Africa. Maybe another child. Build a house. Ride in a hot air balloon.


When I truly love all of myself…
I feel enamored and in the presence of God.


Right now, I am most excited about…
my haircut and color this Wednesday. Also, the rest of 2017!! I have a couple big things in the works and am excited to get the ball rolling on my potential collaborations.


My body is:
a freaking temple. I am shocked that it puts up with me. haha. We stay healthy 98% of the year, we breakdance at weddings and we operate on less than the desired amount of sleep.


Three words to describe me:
goofy, hard-working, and compassionate


Current mantra:
The more comfortable I am BEING uncomfortable the better prepared I am for any and all surprises. Or: I am becoming my best self and living my most fulfilled life here and now.

I am becoming my best self + living my most fulfilled life here and now. - @nicolesciacca Click To Tweet


WANT YOURSELF:
Loved Nicole’s answers to this one, so now I want to hear from you in the comments…
What is YOUR definition of “positivity?”


WANT more Nicole?
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Photo credits: Caddie Hastings

WANTcast 028: On Fixing Others, Food Issues, Forgiveness + Feeling Fly As F**k (No Matter What) with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

WANTcast 028: On Fixing Others, Food Issues, Forgiveness + Feeling Fly As F**k (No Matter What) with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

Body Community Love the WANTcast Work

If you’ve been following along with WANT for a while, you’re probably already familiar with who I’m about to introduce you to – at the very least just because I talk about her all. the. time.

I'm fly as f*ck no matter what. - @jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

Today’s guest is Jessica Murnanewellness advocate, podcast host, and creator of the One Part Plant movement. She’s the author of a brand new cookbook, One Part Plant, and the host of two wildly successful podcasts: One Part Podcast and The Cookbook Deal.

After being diagnosed with endometriosis and receiving a pretty crazy ultimatum from her doctors, Jessica decided to try overhauling her diet to see if she could heal herself naturally. Fast forward to today, and Jessica now has zero of those debilitating endometriosis symptoms and follows a full-on plant based diet.

If Jessica looks familiar, it might be because she’s been on WANT before. First in an interview, next on the tenth episode of the WANTcast, and then lots of guest appearances here and there as she’s become a dear friend and a person I feel is truly out there changing the world, on and off-line. In Episode 10, Jessica talked about her brand new cookbook deal, and we casually mentioned her coming back to do a “Part Two” episode…

WELP, little did we know how much could happen in just one year. I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll just say her newest podcast’s subtitle is “Also, The Weirdest Year Of My Life.” That should say it all. I knew we’d have a lot of ground to cover, but what we ended up talking about most actually wasn’t the year or the cookbook – it was everything else in between. Her candor, humor, and heart are hallmarks of why her OPP peeps adore her so much…and why her cookbook became a #1 New Release on Amazon after only a day. A DAY.

One Part Plant is so much more than a cookbook – it’s a memoir slash self-help guide slash ode to all the reasons eating “one part plant” can enhance your life from the inside out. Think I’m exaggerating? Check it out here and we can start a little OPP cooking club from afar.

There's power in forgiveness. - @jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

This episode’s title could have been the longest thing ever, because we truly covered so much good ground. In this episode we talk about caring about being “cool” vs just liking what you like, food issues and Jessica’s past with not just what put in her body but how she viewed her body, toxic relationships and the need to “fix” others, her relationship with her husband and what makes a healthy relationship in general (especially when you come from having body/food/fixer issues), the crazy way her new Cookbook Deal podcast panned out, asking for what you need personally, professionally, and financially, her beef with people who say they’re “too old” for things, the barometer to use when you’re deciding whether to say yes or no to a project…oh my goodness, I should probably just stop there so you can listen for yourself.

I’m honored to have her on the WANTcast again and pumped to see what she does next…

…oh, and just for some context: we begin this episode discussing something her husband does for her every year on her birthday: an eight-day lead-up entitled “Murnanukkah.”

WANT JESSICA:

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

My relationships are at their best when we both feel good about what we're doing. -@jessicamurnanes Click To Tweet

Show Notes:
Website
One Part Plant on Amazon
One Part Podcast
The Cookbook Deal
GOOD: A Wellness Festival (that we’ll both be speaking at – and holding a VIP workshop together!)
Tour dates
Instagram (and here!)
Facebook
Twitter
Terry Walters
Monana episode of Friends
Younger
EDNOS (or OSFED)
Me on One Part Podcast
All photos by Nicole Franzen

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


Party Of One: Why You Should Embrace The Single State Of Mind

Party Of One: Why You Should Embrace The Single State Of Mind

Community Love

For most of my partnered-up adult life, Valentine’s Day was a bit like prom: lots of hype, tons of expectation, and kind of a let down once it happened. They felt extravagant or forced, like some sort of obligation I was supposed to be totally into but was only kind-of-sort-of invested in. Basically, the exact opposite of what all those cards and Sex & The City episodes told me February 14th should be like.

In contrast, my single-gal Valentine’s Days were a blast and a half. In high school I spent my freshman and sophomore years with red on my lips and hearts drawn on my fingernails (in black polish, but I digress), passing out glittery stickers and love notes to my friends between classes. My freshman year of college, my mom sent a basket of cookies and mini-muffins to my dorm, and later that evening we all went out to dinner at a janky strip-mall sushi place where the lighting was harsh and the laughter was plenty. As relationships came and went, a small part of me felt a little bit bummed that my Valentine’s Days had fallen prey to romantic involvement instead of a fun time with my single friends and family.

But wait…that’s backwards, right?

Shouldn’t the expression of love be about the fun, about the feeling and, most certainly, about doing things your own way?

This lesson, of course, is one I hadn’t learned yet.

~

We give a big heap of power to romantic relationships in our culture. So much power, in fact, that many times it can seem like our romantic relationships shouldn’t just dictate our overall happiness, but dictate our sense of self-worth. “Are you seeing anyone?” has become an oft-used tentpole in the basecamp of banal conversation, and way too often a single gal (or guy, because the urge to matchmake transcends gender) is viewed as ripe to be paired off. Even when we’re in relationships, the question isn’t so much about the whos and whys but the whats and whens. We’re told by pop songs, movies, TV shows, and magazines that being coupled is a means to an end, and there’s always a new end to strive toward.

Being single isn’t about not having a partner – it’s about being your own best teammate. Click To Tweet

We’ve all heard the cliché that “you need to love yourself before you can love others.” But it’s also true that loving yourself should never, ever, ever be about laying the groundwork for someone else to come and swoop in. Being single isn’t about not having a partner – it’s about being your own best teammate. It’s about reclaiming the word “single” and redefining it not as something negative or lacking, but as a state-of-mind you carry with you, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Just like being “taken” doesn’t mean you’re someone else’s property, being single doesn’t mean you’re up for grabs. The difference involves another person, but the common commitment should always involve the one you have to yourself.

Little disclaimer: I know couples who have been together since they were 16. My grandparents, aka living breathing heart-eye emojis, were high school sweethearts (granted, they each got married, then divorced, then found each other again later in life – so technically, they had a big old break in the middle of their romance, but still). There are a good number of couples out there who found their “person” early on in life and have created loving, open, equal partnership that’s lasted them a lifetime. And that’s beautiful.

But for most of us, that’s not the case. We experience a multitude of romantic relationships in our lives – both brief and prolonged – and therefore have a plethora of opportunities to check in and evaluate who we are when we’re going solo. Not all of us take these opportunities, but they are always there.

Without prolonged periods of time to ourselves – whether that be months or years – how can we ever develop that deep sense of self-knowledge that fuels our dreams? How can we hone the craft of fine-tuning our intuition and gut feelings so that no matter who or what comes along, we’re able to stay true to who we are at our core? By casting aside those moments, we’re sending ourselves the subconscious message that who we are alone is not enough.

Being single isn’t a relationship status, it’s a mindset. We each get to choose what that mindset means to us.

Think about it: What kind of stuff does the word “single” bring up for you? Is it along the lines of unlovable, incomplete, alone? Or rather, is it a sense of freedom, bravery, and fearless independence? The way we view our single self is ultimately how we will view our coupled self – in both our highest highs and our lowest lows. What a blessing it is to be able to experience both of these emotional extremes on our own, so that when another person comes along (if we should be open to them coming along, of course), we know for a fact that our love comes from a place of want, not need. We know that we want their love in order to enhance our life… not that we need their love in order to define it.

So, spoiler alert… I’m not single any more. And I haven’t been for a few years now. Bigger spoiler, I’m engaged. I know, I know… what kind of business do I have writing about singledom, then? Well – a lot. Because even though my fiancé most certainly has helped me open more windows and doors and sunroofs to my truest self than I can even express, he is NOT my crutch. Because I had a long (long) time before he came along to solidify my relationship with myself, so everything he has to offer is the best-ever cherry on top. Because honestly, the way I feel right now as my best self (in both my high and my lows) is almost exactly the same as when I was single. It was in that period of time that I committed over and over again to the most important relationship in my life – my relationship with myself.

These last few years have been the first time I’ve actually enjoyed Valentines Days in a long while – and it’s not because I’ve found “my person.” It’s because my Valentine’s Days have morphed back into what they were in the past: a day to celebrate love of all kinds. I wear red lipstick because I want to, I spend time with my friends because I love to, I call my mom and pass out stickers because it makes me happy. Sometimes I go out to a fancy dinner with my fiancé, sometimes we watch Friends reruns in our pajamas at 5 p.m. But no matter what, I make sure to reflect on how wonderful it feels to live my life on my own terms, and how grateful I am for that time I had sans partnership to figure out what those terms actually meant to me without the influence of someone else.

The times we have to ourselves are precious. We have our entire lives to be surrounded by other people in whatever capacity we choose, whether a lasting romance or a fleeting fling. If you’re single or recovering from a broken heart this Valentine’s Day, use this weekend to shower the people you love with love. Use this time to hone your single-gal mindset for the better. Friends and lovers will come and go. It’s a liberating feeling when you realize that the one constant in your life – yourself – is someone you’ve grown to love more than you though was possible. And that that person is not going away no matter what.

being single

On Loneliness.

On Loneliness.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

Lonely hits at the most unexpected times – in line at the bank, driving your car out of your garage into the sunshine of a Sunday morning. Propped up on your elbow on a half-made bed, listening to new music at 2 a.m. It comes when it’s quiet and you are not, or maybe when everything around you is vibrant and you tiptoe in, or when you look in your refrigerator and realize you need to buy something other than condiments and wine. Lonely is a disconnect, a conscious choice or a unexpected wave.

Lonely hits you when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize yourself like you used to. You’re a real live adult – when did that happen? Your hair does this wavy thing it never did before. There is something different in your eyes; what is it? Oh that’s it – it’s clarity, it’s vision, they are the eyes strained from holding themselves so wide open. It’s the look of time passed and dreams in flux and the realization that everything you want is not necessarily everything you need. It’s the body that’s changed shape by the day, week, year, decade, and the idea that even our own selves are not a constant.

Lonely is not a relationship status; lonely isn’t crowded or alone. Lonely is the aching for wide-open exchange, and no matter how many friends you have or how great your love life is or how perfect your job is, lonely is the confusion that sets in when you wonder, when you hold back, or when the external becomes a guise or overcompensation.

We can feel more lonely surrounded by others than when we’re in a room alone. The blocked energy and the questions, they suffocate and they hurt. Usually when we’re feeling lonely, we’re asking questions or holding back. Or holding out, really, because so much of our loneliness is based in the responses we’re hoping to get outside of ourselves.

And the tricky part is that lonely cannot be solved by being social, by going out, or by striking up a conversation. Lonely is vague. Lonely is living hazily, living in parentheticals and footnotes and swift asides and question marks lined up like window decorations. Lonely is what happens when you question the way you give. Lonely is love with nowhere to go.

Lonely is what happens when you ache to uplift; lonely is the first guest to arrive and the lingering last guest to leave. Lonely is the self-aware, the uncharacteristically quiet, the first two layers unpeeled instead of the whole dissected onion. Lonely is the song you try to sing; it’s wishing to sing and not getting the chance. It’s all of the trying and wishing, really. It’s missing your friend because you both evolved in different ways and just don’t relate any more, or it’s getting a solution instead of a shoulder. Lonely is that necklace that you wore so well, that’s now neglected because you just can’t get the tangles out – it’s the change that comes with time and the transience of life in general.

Healing from loneliness is…well, it’s tough. It requires immense courage, unabashed honesty, and a strong cocktail of selflessness and trust.

The opposite of loneliness isn’t just togetherness. It’s connection.

It’s care.

It’s love.

The opposite of loneliness isn’t just togetherness. It’s connection. Click To Tweet

We’re fighting loneliness when we ask the teller at the bank, with genuine interest, “How is your day going?” We’re fighting loneliness when we are feeling disconnected from our family or friends or significant other but tell them we love them anyway, without caring about the response or aching for reciprocity. We’re fighting loneliness when we take a lunch break and bring our coworker coffee just the way she likes it. We fight loneliness with little acts throughout the day of thoughtfulness and intimate authenticity.

When I start to feel lonely, different, sequestered in my own personal black hole, I have trained myself to become just a tad bit more expressive. Because that is the answer to a much bigger question than how to fight the temporary feeling of lonely: the question of what my soul really, truly wants and desires.

The one common thread between all of us is that we want to feel loved. So to battle my own loneliness, I shift gears and do what I can to make someone else feel loved. It makes me feel like my heart is in use; because lonely is my heart feeling stagnant. This is my way of courageously and effectively going about my quest for fulfillment, wholeness and connection on a soul level.

So go ahead, give your love somewhere to go. No alternate agenda or quest for reciprocity. Just a simple moment of care and connection; a fleeting one, even. Delete your footnotes and erase your parentheses. Show your care, own the person who is so uniquely you. Let it fill your heart as you fill the hearts of others. Trust it will. Heal your loneliness by reminding someone “You’re not alone. We’re connected. Let’s do this together.”




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a version of this was originally published in 2015 and has been edited throughout

I Know How To Swim.

I Know How To Swim.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

Hey.

I don’t usually write these kinds of things, but I’m staring at my computer screen blankly in the middle of a Maison Kayser with a too-pretty-to-drink splurge coffee in front of me while I wait for my laundry to be done at the local laundromat and this seems like a good place to start. It usually is.

When I started WANT, I made it very clear that this was not my personal blog. WANT isn’t even a blog at all – it’s a brand, a platform, part of which includes my work as a writer and activist when it comes to what it means to be a fully self-actualized woman in this world. I present personal work, I never work through personal work. It’s irresponsible of me to use this space as a venting ground or pretend like I’ve got answers about things that I don’t. It’s not my job to drag you down into the muck of my struggles. It IS my job to be fiercely honest and use my personal experiences to help lift you up into the you you know you’re meant to be.

And yet. And yet. Sometimes something comes along that is so grating, so disrespectful, and so widespread that I can’t just sit here quietly and watch it happen to literally every single woman I know. Because choosing to be a writer, artist, activist, and truth-teller means that you also choose to be someone who stands up.

I turned 30 this year. I’ve been living with my boyfriend for almost three years now. I’ve made my reflex (writing) my career (writer). I’ve moved across the country. I’m closer to 50 than I am to 5. I found six grey hairs this October.

Apparently, when you hit certain milestones in life – whether an age or life stage – it’s deemed acceptable (dare I say obligatory?) for others to grill you about your life choices. You know the questions. So when are you getting married? So do you want to have kids? Where do you see yourself in five years? And then, there are the questions you get as a creative: Have you thought about monetizing your “blog” yet? How do you make a living? Aren’t you worried about financial security? But what else do you do? Isn’t it time you joined the real world already? You know, I know a guy…

It’s not just the questions that start to roll in, it’s the opinions and advice along with them. You’re not getting any younger. You’re going to regret it. You don’t know what you’re saying. You should try this other thing. I’ve got a friend of a friend who does this and says that, so maybe you should make that happen. Have you thought about making that happen?

On behalf of all women everywhere (because it also seems as if women get this wonderful privilege of their lives being publicly owned property to own stock in) I’d like to say:

 

PLEASE.

STOP.

 

I’ve had to learn the hard way (is there any easy way?) that knowing thyself doth not make you immune to others assuming that they doth know better. Marriage, kids, career, location, LIFE. When I was in my teens and early twenties, I thought the key to living a life free of worry and judgement was to know myself so well that being anyone else was out of the question. But as I grew older – especially as I started to inch toward the big three-zero – I realized something bizarre: for as much as we tout self-knowledge and fulfillment in theory, our society still views the individual opinion as a threat. After all the books and memes and self-help podcasts, we’re still out there judging our women for not following a path that looks familiar to our own. Just like recognizing one woman’s beauty does not lessen yours, one woman following her own path does not invalidate you following yours.

And yet. And yet. We preach the self-love gospel and urge each other to follow the beat of our own drum while at the same time judging the way we do it. We tell our kids from a very young age to trust their gut and “be themselves,” but with no guidebook to do so, we’re left with the daunting task of becoming human and becoming whole. It’s no wonder the quarter life crisis, mid-life crisis, Saturn Return, et al have become so widely embraced by our culture. We’re trying to teach ourselves to swim, while simultaneously trying to follow the directions of the people who aren’t in the water, yelling at us from the shore. We’re drowning in opinion.

Knowing thyself doth not make you immune to others assuming that they doth know better. Click To Tweet

The most baffling thing is how at ease others are at asking the questions or forcing the discussion of topics that are usually saved as “serious conversation” topics between the people they directly affect.

Before this relationship, I was single for five years. Five years. Contrary to what others might tell you about singledom, they were some of the best five years of my life. I got to know myself in a way I never had before. I honed my passions and found new ones. I became, for the most part, the person I am now. I think everyone should spend a good deal of time single, because it is the very best way to learn who you are at the end of the day. I loved that process.

And yet. And yet. My inbox was flooded with messages from extended-extended-extended family members trying to set me up with their rich friend’s son. While I was finding my way in the editorial world, the number one question I got was whether I was dating or not. And when I began teaching fitness classes and was really, truly figuring out what I was meant to do and give, I will never forget the family friend who instead of asking questions about why I loved it or what I was learning, grilled me about what I wanted to do with my life and made a disapproving comment about how I “wasn’t going to be an ‘exercise girl’ for the rest of” my life. During a time when I was becoming increasingly self-confident and self-expressed, that comment shot through me and sent me sinking back into my own ocean of self-doubt.

Now, the comments and questions look different. Questions about marriage. Questions about kids. Career “advice.”

Oh, the career “advice.”

On one hand, there are people who confuse my professional writing with a personal blog and like to make all kinds of assumptions/ask very intrusive and personal questions because of it. I think this happens across the board on the internet, whether it be a website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever: whereas the people I’ve met through the internet have become some of my closest, most treasured relationships, there are people who know me in real life who use what I share online to make assumptions about who I am offline.

On the other hand, there are people who think that running my own business and career is “cute.” They see it as an opportunity to crowd source how to run it best, a chance to tell me about their friend who does such-and-such and about how I should really try doing that instead. I guess that, for some people, it’s unthinkable that I’ve actually put deep thought and hard work into this. For some people, it’s laughable that I’m doing something real, that I’m making real change, and most of all – that I am in charge.

Amongst the female freelancers and entrepreneurs I’ve talked to (and I’ve talked to a lot), there is this common thread of not being taken seriously. Our professions are seen as hobbies, our work viewed as wishy-washy. And then, of course, when people don’t understand or exhaust their advice options, they jump straight to the questions that let you know they see your life as partially empty. So when you getting married? So when you having kids? The cycle repeats and repeats. So much energy wasted on convincing others we’re right where we need to be and we’ve got this.

The thing is, most people don’t believe they’re being judgy. They believe they’re sharing their knowledge, they believe they’re being supportive even. They believe they’re offering solutions, and they believe they’re letting you know they want the best for you. They believe they’re making conversation, sometimes. They believe they’re not imposing, and they believe they know where you are and where you’ve been. They believe they know.

But to the people who ask these questions: How much do YOU know? How much do you know, really?

That’s right.

You don’t.

When you ask a woman if she thinks her parter is “The One,” you have no idea if they’re floating on air or if they’re struggling to make each other a priority. When you ask a woman if she’s going to have kids, or worse, ask a married woman if “she’s trying” (which is basically just asking if she and her SO are doing it constantly, or going through the difficult and costly process of IVF or a surrogate – and don’t even get me started on all the questions and judgements that I’ve heard go along with adoption process), you have zero clue as to what kind of emotional baggage that brings up, or if she’s going through a miscarriage, or if she’s feeling distraught because she doesn’t really know if she wants kids yet and that sense of uncertainty scares the crap out of her. When you ask a woman where she wants to be in five years or tell her she should really turn her talent into her profession or comment about how she should be doing things differently, you might not realize she lays awake at night struggling to make ends meet or is busting her ass trying to make money at the thing she loves. You have NO CLUE how much work is or is not going on behind the scenes.

Here’s what I would love to say to these people:

Look. I know you care. I think you care. At least, I’d like to think you care. In an ideal world, we’d all care greatly about one another and support each others’ rise up into our own unquestionably unique life story. But the thing is, I know it’s not really that you care about me. It’s that you care about your relationship to the construct of me. I also know it’s easier to live vicariously through someone else’s experiences than completely own up to and focus on your own. I also know that you not treating these topics with the weight that I do – as in, they’re mine and mine alone – signals you do not respect my answer either way. You do not respect my answer, period. You’re simply hungry for information, hungry for ammo, craving the excitement of being “in the know” or in some cases “knowing better.” You want an in with me that I do not consent to giving to you.

How do you think asking about marriage makes us feel about this very personal, very private decision that WE have only discussed in a series of “serious conversations”? How do you think your attempts to get me paired off with your coworker’s nephew makes me feel about my ability to find love on my own? Do you know how much pressure I feel when you ask if I’m going to have kids, and when I say I’m unsure and you immediately try and “sway” my uterus and I into impending childbirth? Do you have any idea how many nos or non-responses I’ve received during the course of my career, or the late nights I’ve worked to push something out because I’m running a business, not a hobby?

Moreover, do you realize what a slight this is to me? Prying into how I live my life tells me you do not care about the decades I’ve spent getting to know myself and the person I strive to be. Prying into how I live my life tells me my self-knowledge does not matter. Imagine how it feels, after years and years of learning how to “be myself” and “trust my gut,” to be the subject of your prying questions, your assumptions, your unsolicited advice, and the subtext of it all telling me that I can be myself as long as I okay it with you first.

I allow myself to be hit with the tidal wave because I know how to swim. Click To Tweet

If you’re one of those people who cannot stop speculating or has this great idea or has “just got to ask” – DON’T. And no, “not asking” is not tiptoeing around anything or walking on eggshells. Just. Don’t.

Here’s what you can do: Ask other questions. Ask someone how they are in their head and heart. How are they physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

I promise you, if there’s information they want you to know, they’ll offer it up. But if they don’t, you’ve got to be comfortable with not knowing. And if you’re not comfortable NOT being what you consider to be in-the-know? You might do better by asking yourself why you DO need to be.

As a writer, I make my living (or at least a portion of it, for now) by sitting still and letting the entirety of me hit me like a tidal wave. I love nothing more than to sit alone, still and quiet, on a cloudy afternoon or late at night and use my HSPness to its fullest capacity. I’ve come to be such close sisterfriends with vulnerability that I simply call her Sheer Honest Living. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s me.

I will never stop exposing myself, my truths, and the truths of the world around me I so painstakingly explore and tune into. And yet…and yet. I will always share what is personal and never what is intimate. I will fiercely live my life the way I know how, because I’ve spent a lifetime learning how I function, and my public Sheer Honest Living in the personal realm gives no one permission to use my openness as their “in” to the intimate realm. I allow myself to be hit with the tidal wave because I know how to swim.

And to you reading this? You know how to, too. I know you do. You are a badass. You are a superstar. Whatever you are doing with your life, wherever you are in life, whoever you’re doing it with. I support you a zillion percent.

 



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