Life & Lessons

Cheers to the new, and to the year.

This is not your typical New Years post.

For starters, it’s not January 1st.

In fact, it’s fourteen days after the new year has begun. The buzz of newness has probably already started to wear off for most of us, and the hangover already seems to be kicking in.

But for me, the party is just beginning.

This year, I decided not to make or take any resolutions seriously in the first few days of our new slate. I’m learning something: keeping score before you’ve started the game is dangerous. We are creatures of habit, yet we can’t seem to stay on track when it comes to the things we want the most for our lives. I thought to myself: maybe I should walk on the playing field before I run the play.

I chose to start January 1st, 2018 as any another day. New year, same shit. The only difference is that this go-round I let the thought of resolutions and goals and wants and plans whisper a melody in my mind without hanging on to any one lyric, and without turning off the music either. I didn’t cling to or claim the first “I want to go the gym three times a week” or “I want to make more videos.” I typically write everything that crosses my mind down, but I wouldn’t even let myself near a piece of paper in these first few weeks. I wanted to let the possibilities ruminate in the room of my mind; I wanted to see which desires would emerge as the truest of the true.

And I think we have a winner.

Err, winners.

This may be odd, especially to people like myself who try to find balance and find symmetry in everything, but the resolutions that reoccured, protruded, and rose high above the others don’t match and don’t quite make sense in regards to the traditional “New Year Resolution” narrative. These resolutions were what my heart was singing very clearly through all of the mess. So I listened.

Here are my three resolutions:

  1. Read one book a month. Feed your mind.
  2. Celebrate the small victories.
  3. One thing at a time.

Like I said, they’re a bit strange. They go from detailed to abstract, and they might not make sense upon reading them. But there’s something quaint about that, at least to me. They are special little snowflakes; they are mine. I will explain.

I used to love books when I was little. I was a very bossy child (still am) and I would insist on reading my books to my parents rather than the other way around. My mom loves to tell me this story about my 3rd birthday: how when I unwrapped toys and Barbie dolls I was overjoyed, but when I opened a book it was all over. I couldn’t stop flipping through the thing. I didn’t want to open any more gifts. And after the whole thing was said and done, the first present I picked up again was the book. Nothing else was as fascinating. This still rang true on my college graduation day when I did the same thing at 21 and my mom reminded me of this story. “Nothing has changed,” she said. During college you get your fair share of books, but the “fun” reading was reserved for summers only. When I graduated, I read a book here and there. But this year, I want to make it a realistic priority. My soul misses the words.

I have an issue with always living in the future. I’m always planning and plotting my next project, my next hang-out, my next job, my next problem: the list goes on. But this year is about the victories — and very specifically, the small ones. I think there’s something so beautiful about celebrating the small stuff. And I’m going to need it to get through this year, because it’s going to be a tough one. I just moved across the country away from the love of my life and my family to chase my dreams (that I’m not even sure of anymore). I’m not too keen of my job. But I have to keep it in perspective to keep myself afloat. Every day is one step closer to being reunited with a loved one. Every day is one more page I’ve written for my web series, or my film. Every day is one more day I have the opportunity to meet someone special or make a connection. Every day is one day closer to something. I’ve found a loophole around always anticipating what’s next: tricking myself into living in the present to make for a better tomorrow.

Finally, I need to start taking things one by one. I’m guilty of taking on too much. Not for anyone else, but for myself. I try to start five projects at once, see four friends in a week, and do a million things in a day. Not. possible. In fact, I always end up neglecting all of it because I’m so overwhelmed. One of my very good friends used to tell me all the time, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I know that’s disgusting and weird and you’re like “Who are you, you freak,” but it’s just some metaphor that he’d heard (OK?!). And it makes sense. But for a person like me who thinks BIG, I don’t have one elephant. I never have one elephant. I have five. Lined up down the block. And for me, I just need to take each thing in my life one at a time. Dive in, make it whole and give it my all, then move on to the next. No matter how hard it is, or how long it takes. It’s better to get one thing done than to get nothing done at all.

Now that I’ve given you full insight into the thought process behind my resolutions, here are my two-cents on making yours for this beautiful, promising year:

Make it specific. 

If you are going to choose something concrete, such as the gym or a specialty diet or volunteering or listening to more podcasts — make it specific. Avoid the words “more” or “a lot.” Choose. Declare. One time a week. Three times a week. Every other week. Once a month. Commit and repeat.

Make it general.

You know I love a good contradiction. If you’re going to choose something abstract, make it general. I guess that’s sort of a given, but that’s the point. Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to make your resolution(s) a mantra or a motto. That’s fun AF. You can attribute it or place it onto anything and everything into your life.

Write it in pencil.

If you’re a writer like me, try this with me: write your goals in pencil. You can write it big or small; on a whiteboard covering an entire wall or in a notebook tucked away under your nightstand. This sounds silly, but I swear pen can sometimes mess with your brain. It’s so scary!!! It’s so permanent!!! Well flip the script. Write it in something erasable. This way, you know you can change or adjust it whenever you want and it’s not as daunting. Which brings me to my next point.

Be kind to your progress.

We live in a world that fears commitment. I think this is mostly because we aren’t committing to the things we actually love. But the catch is, even when we do it’s still never easy. That’s why it’s a commitment. But trial and error is a real, true thing. Be kind to your progress. You have to try something to know it’s not really what you want to do or what your heart desires. That’s okay. It knocks down one possibility and moves you closer to the one that will actually move your soul and change your life. Don’t be afraid to change, adjust, or make a new resolution. Heck, try out one thing a month. But once you find the thing that you really do want to hold on to, don’t quit. Even when it gets hard.

Happiest of days to you. Wishing you all the love in the world this new year. Go get ’em, tigress. xx

YOURSTRULYMIA

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Life & Lessons

14 Things I Learned From My Last College Spring Break

What is known to be the week of unimaginable amounts of alcohol, major sun burn, and bikinis so small your 13-year-old sister shouldn’t even be able to fit into them turned out the be quite the opposite for me—unless you count the bathing suit bottom I’ve had since middle school, the sun rash on my inner thigh, and the single spontaneous shot of tequila we took on the strip. After catching up with a few high school friends in DC, I traveled south with three of my college friends to spend the week kicking back on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. It was my first and last tropical spring break, but believe me, it was no Panama City. There were lots of old people and ice cream shops. We watched sunsets next to families and shared peanut butter and jelly donuts and went on walks to nowhere. The wildest party we had was falling asleep after too many crab legs. But we laughed a lot. We even cried a little. We talked, and sat in silence, and smiled, and made memories. It was a wonderful time.

My favorite part about getaways and vacations (aside from the fancy stationary pens they leave you in hotel rooms) is the brain space it grants you. Staring at the sea and the sky makes you think. I did a lot of this. Staring out a car window also makes you think. I did a lot of this too. Also—I’m just a sappy, thinky person. So naturally this blog post makes a lot of sense. Here’s a run down of what ran though my brain this past week. I hope you get as much out of these moments and realizations as I did, or even come to your own truths. Let’s start shallow, like the questionable pool at our three star motel.

1. Phones suck.

I don’t understand why we are addicted to distraction. I don’t know why we choose the people on our screens over the people right in front of us. I constantly evaluate whether I am going to burst from the amount of news and entertainment and blogs and emails and updates that I want to (and feel like I have to) read. But when I put my phone away for an entire day while we were here, I remembered what it’s like not to question any of that. And it rocked.

2. Phones rock.

I love sharing my experiences and thoughts with the world. I love being able to take notes when something cool happens and email them to myself so I can write blog posts like this. I love capturing moments with lenses, and seeing what my friends are up to on the other side of the world, and being able to let my parents know I’m safe. I hate Apple maps, but I am grateful every time I open it that I don’t have to unfold a blanket-sized paper one. Thank you, technology.

3. Walks are the best.

I forgot how much I love these things! You get active! They generate thought!  You see cool things! You smell the roses! They make you feel like typing sentences with exclamation marks!

4. So is the sun.

Sunshine doesn’t fix everything, but it fixes a lot. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve felt so weird and unmotivated lately, but then I remembered it’s because I’ve been spending the past month with my head in a hood stomping through snow and cursing at the cold. Sunshine feels good and it reminds you to be grateful for life. It recharges your soul. When there’s sun, take advantage of it. Where there’s sun, go. I like to think of it as a natural medicine or herb or drug. Get the D. (But use protection, specifically sunscreen, thank you and you’re welcome)

5. Things can be mended. 

Bad things happen. People will hurt you, intentionally and unintentionally. But I know two things. One, people make mistakes. Sometimes really big ones. And two, people can change. I know these things because I’ve done both. The second was a result of the first. Humans suck, and you and I are not excluded. But humans can also be really great, too. Forgiveness is hard, but it is important. And I’m still learning. The third thing I’ve learned may be the most important, and that is that things can be mended. Broken friendships and relationships get better with time (key word is time). But know that while some things fix themselves, a lot of things things don’t fix themselves—at least not at first. It involves communication, and effort, and proof that that person is not just trying to make things better for the heck of it, but that they actually want things to be better.

6. Mending looks different every time.

No scar or crack heals or gets filled in the same way or in the same amount of time. I’ve learned that you can’t put an expiration date on hurt.

7. Some people just won’t get it.

Every situation is unique. Some things mend differently than others, and not everyone will understand. And it’s not your job to convince them.

8. What people think of you is not a reflection of you.

It is a reflection of themselves, or where they are at in their head or day or process. I’ve discovered that when people are being rude, it’s usually because something has happened to them. If a person says something mean, it’s because of an experience they’ve had or a perception they’ve created in their reality that isn’t necessarily true of your reality (Thank you, The Four Agreements). When someone is acting annoyed or irritated, they are dealing with emotions they may be handling or hiding. I know that doesn’t really make what they say or do any better or less hurtful. But it helped me stop questioning myself and my actions when I realized this. There is something that person has to figure out for themselves. Let them, and you go on with yo bad self.

9. Sometimes what other people think of you is a reflection of you.

Are you noticing patterns?

10. Your parents are your ultimate teachers.

Stop right now and go thank (or give thanks if they are no longer with you) your parents for being them. I don’t care if they are or were the best or the worst—they provided you with a foundation for your life to mold and learn from. I am infinitely grateful for mine. I have realized so much about myself and my habits; who I want to be and who I don’t. How your parents raised you and where they raised you is a part of your life story—more than you even know. I realized this while talking to my friends this week. This is my moment to tell the world that my parents are fantastic, fantastic people. I love them not only for giving me life, being in my life, and providing for me in life, but teaching me what I know and how I know it.

11. Nature is talking to us.

I’m going to be honest with you. I’m 21, and big waves freak me out. But I noticed something: the big waves were never as scary as I thought they were when I swam straight into them, or turned around and rode with them. But they were always scary when I ran away and hope they didn’t hit me. Nature is always trying to tell us something. Catch my drift?

12. Seagull attacks are a real thing.

A seagull literally took a bite out of my friend’s sandwich. I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks. But what was really fascinating and infinitely less upsetting was the evening we watched a 12-year-old boy play with a flock of seagulls by leading them with a single Cheez-it. Magic. At first I was terrified for his life, then I laughed with him, then I was transfixed in pure awe. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen a very long time. I felt liberated through this little boy; he was having the time of his life. He was so innocent. So free. The most amazing part is that he was in control, and he didn’t even know it. This made me think about my own life.

13. The times you feel the most lost, you never actually are. 

This is a common theme in my life, because I’m graduating and I’m scared and sad. This would not be the first time, but I’ve realized that this is probably going to happen a lot in life and I am okay with it. I started thinking of all the transitionary periods in my life. I look back and realized I got through all of them. Every single one. And the best part is, when I think about where I am now, every “next” stage turned out even better than I imagined it. I felt lost, but now I realized I never actually was. I was just scared. The plan for our lives is already mapped out, and even better than we know. A friend told me “If you don’t feel lost, then you are safe. And if you’re safe, then you will never grow.” Fear is a sign that you are putting yourself out of your comfort zone, and that’s where all the good stuff happens. Guess what? Everything is going to be okay.

14. Light follows.

Just like the seagulls, light follows. Or at least—that’s what we thought. We watched the sun set every night. The first evening, I noticed the reflection of the sun in the water created a path of orange light leading straight to my feet in the sand. I smiled to myself. A sign from the universe just for me, right? The second evening, my friend Meredith said something about it. I told her I was thinking the same thing yesterday, and we shared the moment. The third evening, we noticed the path of light led back to us yet again. All of a sudden, it was not cute anymore. I walked down the beach to solve the mystery. As it turns out, the trail of sun traveling across the water directly to my feet followed me wherever I went. It followed everyone. I was pissed! This was supposed to be a sign, what the heck! I returned with the bad news. They gasped in horror. Then we laughed for a long time. I felt so stupid. We were mad the magic wasn’t ours. But then I realized that wasn’t true. The magic was ours; it everyone’s. And that made it even more real. The world doesn’t revolve around me. It doesn’t revolve you. There’s enough light to go around.

The world is a big place. But the sun will find and follows us wherever we go.

YOURSTRULYMIA

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