Monday, September 29, 2014

Disappointment, Party Hats, and Nasal Spray

After fighting it off the whole weekend, I woke up this morning and my first thought was, "well, it's official, I'm sick". Here's a fun fact, in case you don't know me in real life, but I don't get sick. Truth. The last time I was sick was November of 2012 (it's so infrequent that I know dates off-hand). Cue the soup and the pity party of one. See, after a relatively low-key last week, I finally had about five days worth of awesome planned and I was excited.

An hour from now, I'm supposed to be joining a friend at a movie that he's lent his voice talents to, to celebrate and support a massive achievement of someone I love.

This week, I've got auditions, class, clients, and I'm scheduled to shoot my next acting gig on Wednesday. (If you're an actor, you know booking a gig is a big deal and to potentially miss it can be heartbreaking.)

And instead of these kick-ass life plans, I'm holed up in bed with netflix, soup, goldfish crackers, and nasal spray? Not cool. Needless to say, I'm disappointed.

But on my way back from the pharmacy, right before tears could make their way into my eyes, I felt like God was telling me that I need to rest up, because what's on it's way to me is even bigger, even more awesome, than the things I'm most likely going to miss this week. Instead of lingering on what I may miss, I'd rather keep my eyes fixed on the incredible possibilities that may happen. The things I just don't know about yet.

More over, I immediately found myself trusting that I'm being protected from something. What if, say, on the way to one of these planned activities, there would have been a terrible accident? Or perhaps I would have run into someone I didn't want to see, or cross paths with someone horribly upsetting. What if I'm being kept in my bed to keep me out of harm's way? What if all the times we're certain we're missing out on something, we're actually being guided safely to something even better?

And it does not go without saying, that if one considers all the things others are facing at the moment, health wise and otherwise, that one's itty bitty sickness that one faces every two years or so, well, it ain't no thing. Let me praise this illness in that it's the only one I have to face.

We simply do not have any idea what is going to happen or why something is happening. The best we can do is look it in the eye and immediately start to give thanks for it, allowing it to shape into something that's for our benefit.

If you're feeling disappointed about something right now, I hope you can find some comfort in these words. We are going to be let down by our bodies, by the people we love, and by our own expectations about how life should go. There's no avoiding that. But maybe, just maybe, we also get to decide if it's something to be bummed about or something to celebrate. I don't know about you, but I'm reaching for the streamers and glitter over here.

Plus, if you're already in party mode then you'll be all set to keep celebrating as the next wonderful thing rolls in. Party hats on, friends. And take care of yourself, would you?

p.s. make sure to enter my giveaway on instagram! you'll be entered to win something awesome from Compliment. enter now thru 9/30 at midnight EST!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lessons in Listening and Soup

I've been speaking with a client about a potential move lately. There's really no "reason" for her to spend time in another place, and many are quick to point that out. There's really no "reason" for her to leave where she is, and many are quick to point that out. There's also no "reasonable" way any city could be better than the one she's currently in.. you know the next line, right?

But what if the fact that she feels the urge to go is exactly the right reason?
What if the annoying nagging voice that tells her to do it is the only reason?
What if just wanting to go is the best reason she could ever have?
What if she just feels called?
What if that's enough?

I can't tell you how many times I'm working with clients who are struggling to make a decision and without fail, each and every time, they already know what they are going to do. They already hold the answer in their hands, like a bowl of soup that makes them feel like they're slightly on fire or hot with desire. Instead of seeing the soup in their hands, they're running around, sloshing soup out the sides of the bowl, trying to figure out why they are suddenly feeling so hot. And with each person they run to and ask what to do, they spill just a bit more soup until all they have left is the bowl and they can't figure out why, why, why they have an empty bowl in their hands, so they put it down to start trying to figure that out and get completely distracted and walk away from it.

Two days later, the whole thing repeats.

Aside from the fact that this is one of the strangest metaphors I've ever written (and also that now I want a bowl of soup), it's exactly what happens to all of us.

Friends, that gently nudging you feel, that soft calling, that idea that dances through your head sixty-five times a year (or day), is enough. Trust that whatever, or whoever, or wherever it is leading you to will have something very important waiting there, just for you. Trust there is something on the other side of that feeling. And that the feeling alone is worth pursuing.

Find the bowl of soup you've been running around with, the answer that is already in your hands, and go. Run as fast as you can toward that calling. Go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lessons In Being An Accidental Wedding Guest

I accidentally found myself at a wedding on Saturday evening.

To be fair, this was not entirely my fault. Since it's fashion week here in new york city (there is a post coming on this, friends. oh is there a post coming) I figured the chairs being set up were for an outdoor show. But as I turned the pages of my book and sipped my peach green iced tea and watched guests arrive, I started to put it together.

In the photo above, you'll note I was about four feet behind the third row of chairs. I mean, I was AT this wedding, you know? (As were many other people, including fashion week attendees in full on nyfw garb, and many tourists who took photos of the wedding as though they knew the groom and bride. and yes, okay I took a photo, too, but it was for you guys. So that makes me exempt.) So I'm sitting there, wondering if I should leave, or stay, and wondering why I felt the need to come back to this place at this particular time when I had already been there earlier.

And then it hit me why I was here at this exact time.

This massive declaration of love was about to happen in nearly the exact same spot where my love broke earlier this year. We're talking less than a handful of feet apart. And it hit me in that way where it was being told to me. And I started to laugh: here we go again. More lessons, more growth, more being poured into my soul.

Yet again, I was being told that the massive undoing of me was for a reason. The breaks and cracks were for a reason - so the broken places could be filled back in with light and love and lessons that God knew I needed. He had tried to get them into my thick skull and stubborn self so many times but I pushed right back, refusing them. So He went ahead and used the human that I've learned nearly all of my important lessons through to get these through to me. Of course (well played, God, well played). And let's be clear here: it is not about the other person. Just like the people and situations that are used in your life to teach you things are not the actual issue. It's all about what God is trying to teach you, and your growth on your specific path. I would have never let any of this in if I wasn't first broken down. There was no room for it to get in unless I was cracked open.

The wedding, as it turns out, was actually a renewal ceremony. Which felt even more appropriate for this particular situation in my life, and made me laugh again, as God really does speak directly to us if we're willing to listen. The renewal was for 1.5 years of marriage. Have you heard of anyone doing this? I was thinking 5, maybe 10 years in. But 18 months? And this was already their third ceremony. Before my judgmental little voice could pop up, all I could think was how fucking awesome that is. These people are so in love that they are choosing each other, in public, in front of loved ones, yet again. That's how much they choose the other. And isn't that what it's all about? The choosing, every single day. Picking that person, over and over, even in times where they drive you nuts or hurt you or do stupid things. Knowing that person is choosing you, too. I've spent a lot of time circling the idea that the loving can often be much easier than the choosing. If you love someone with everything you are but you don't understand that you must actively choose them (and yourself), you're cooked. Choosing is the action that makes Love a verb. I choose you. I'm with you. Every day. And friends, this goes beyond relationships. The same thought can be applied to our careers, passions, and callings.

These lessons are coming in layers. In this perfectly timed way that is surely not my doing. There is no way that I could have understood what was being taught to me before this exact moment. My range of responses would have been to hate the couple for choosing someone and being chosen, to judge their intense amount of spending on weddings, to feel annoyed they were interrupting my reading time, or to just ache. But my lessons have been built, one on top of the other, in a way that is very meant. The messages are sometimes very clear and sometimes require a slow unwrapping, but all are equally important in carrying me from one point to the next on this path.

I can't fully sum up in words all of what was put into my being then, but I can start with this:
the places and pieces of you that feel the most pain, will slowly but surely wind their way back to being all about Love. If you let them. If you keep going on with your fingers sticking in your ears singing la-la-la-i-can't-hear-you at the top of your lungs, then it's going to take a hell of a lot longer. But if you stop thinking you know what's best, and let in each layer of healing, regardless if it's something that seems insignificant or something thrown at you like a lavishly grand vow renewal service in the middle of manhattan on a hot september day, you start to recognize they are all intricately designed pieces of a path that is sending you directly back to Love. Go to those literal and metaphorical painful places, and sit in them. Be present in them with your eyes and heart wide open.

Even a place you felt was broken will eventually be covered in Love again, rose petals on the ground, smiles on faces, and the freeing knowledge that the weight of pain can never come close to touching the joy of Love.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lessons In Loving Yourself (& a 30-day challenge for you!)

This year, unbeknownst to me, God signed me up for a life class in Loving Myself. God's funny like that, He has you enrolled in activities and lessons long before you realize you're in them. Many times you find out you're in them when everything comes crashing down around you. If everything around you feels like it's being destroyed, keep an eye out. It may just be the start of a new class.

Anyway, last February, right after my world went poof and crumbled into pieces, my best friend texted me an image (she's a quiet motivator, that sneaky girl). Those words are above, but let's write it out here, shall we? Great: "The fact that someone else loves you, doesn't rescue you from the project of loving yourself."

That's some good shit, right? And potentially very obvious to some of you, but it wasn't to me. I have this love that is bigger than me, and it seemingly seemed to fill me up fully because it's just so freaking big. I never knew what to do with it, I'm really little and it is much, much bigger than me. And I guess, in a way, loving this person so much allowed me to trick myself into thinking I was loving myself just as much. Spoiler alert: nope. Wasn't. Not even close. It's incredible to have someone love you. But when you don't also love yourself in that gigantic kind of way, it's painful. It creates thoughts like: Why should they love me if I don't? Why does this person love me? When will they find out I'm not worth loving? How long before they leave? That's an ugly place to live, friends. And it's even worse to feel that massive love from another person, to know how much they love you, and not be able to accept it. That is a post for another time, but I will say that two people who love each other so, so much, who both do not love themselves fully, is a really fascinating thing to experience. It's also worth saying that the more I love myself, the bigger my love grows for that person, when I thought it would be the opposite. Turns out, when you think you can't possibly love someone more, you actually can. And that begins with you.

So how do we start? What does loving yourself look like? I know it's not a one-size-fits-all thing but I can tell you that loving myself looks like this:

It's the act of tugging on workout clothes, lacing up my sneakers, and going for a run despite feeling like I'll never really be a runner, that I'm out of shape, and that this is stupid. It's going anyway.

It's allowing myself to sleep in when I need to and loving that my career and lifestyle support that, instead of feeling guilty.

It's making a fresh juice even though cleaning the juicer is sometimes very annoying. And I'd rather have a donut.

It's brushing my teeth at night even though I'm really cozy in my bed already. It's that sigh that comes with plopping my feet on the floor and grabbing my toothbrush.

It's using under eye cream when it, too, is so very far out of reach from my sweet, sweet bed. And doing all the other things that are involved with literally taking care of your self, your being.

It's saying no to plans that don't feel right. It's saying no to people that don't feel right. It's saying no to jobs that don't fit right.

It's cooking a meal for myself and feeling proud that I did it, instead of ordering or microwaving something.

It's about only saying yes to things I can actually commit to, which continues to be really hard for me to do.

Loving myself looks like forgiving myself when I don't do all or any or some of the things I've listed so far. (Sorry teeth, my bed is just so darn comfortable!)

Loving myself looks like talking out loud to myself, telling myself that I'm proud of me, saying "good job" literally out loud, in public, after I do something that's hard or scary or, shit, after just an every day thing because sometimes I need a lot of encouragement and if I'm not celebrating myself, who will?

It looks like dancing and singing in my room, in my kitchen, while on a run, because I love music and it fuels me.

It looks like being M.I.A. in the world on lots of days because building my love for myself, my confidence, and what I am working toward, sometimes takes more than I have, and I have nothing left over. It looks like still choosing to love myself when I do this.

It looks like accepting compliments, without thinking someone is lying, and letting people be nice to me without assuming they want something from me. It looks like being nice back instead of snarky or defensive. This is hard.

It looks like working on being myself instead of being what I know will get more followers, clients, or admirers. Being myself instead of creating a self to present to the world.

It looks like actually working toward my dreams, in a way where I know I'm worthy of them and will achieve them, with confidence. Instead of doing every other possible thing that mostly made me feel like I was sort of doing what I wanted, or would give me some sort of notoriety.

It looks like keeping an eye on what I read, listen to, or watch. This means ditching a lot of my favorite blogs because I realized I was constantly taking in words and images of women who are younger than me and seemingly "further ahead" in life, with husbands and babies and houses and yards. It's about realizing that I can't be in that place because I'm in my own place and it is fucking awesome (and it doesn't include changing diapers so, I mean..). Loving myself means being okay with getting there when and if I get there. End of story.

It looks like painting and reading, because I love painting and reading.

Loving myself looks like putting away the computer and the ipad and the iphone and spending time with the iperson that I am.

It looks like not taking into account what I think people might be thinking about me, and not taking anything personally when said or done to me. It looks like not guessing what someone wants and asking them instead, because guessing and thinking you know best for them can get real tiring and time-sucking, and mama is busy, okay? We do not have time for guessing other people's needs, friends.

Loving myself means looking at the things I assigned to my future, my "adult life", and recognizing that there is no "adult life" there is just life, and it's right now. If I think at some point I'll be the type of person who works out every day, then today is a fine day to start that. Going to church, and not getting totally trashed, and committed relationships, and stretching, and praying, and not eating crap, and taking in art, and doing the things that terrify me, and fully being present in the moment are not things to wait on and assume I'll master at some point because, like, don't people do that? No, it's about identifying and going after the things I want in my life right now. I will not wake up one day and have magically mastered any of those things, but I will if I practice them daily and start before I'm "ready" or before I feel old enough (I'll probably always feel like a little kid, so no point in waiting).

There's much more, as we all know. But these things stand out to me. I can vividly remember being absolutely certain that I loved myself, that my happiness was a totally inside job, that I really was going after what I wanted. No I wasn't, no it wasn't, no I wasn't. I'm sure these will continue to grow. I'm sure I'll look back at this time and think "shoot, you thought you knew something about happiness, you had no idea". And that's really beautiful, this growth that we get to experience.

So what about you? What does Loving Yourself look like to you? To help you get going, I've created 30 days worth of ways to Love Yourself. Play along by posting on your own blog or instagram account, and share the link here, or on my instagram. Use the hashtag #30LovingDays. Join in! xo

so, you in, or what? :) #30lovingdays